142 Answers for "Pendragon"

NOTE: This page doesn't assume that you have seen Pendragon's 142 Questions. But it helps contextualize things if you do.

"I believe in inerrancy. But even if there be any mistake in the Bible, then all you have is one mistake proven and no more. Which means you still have its truth claims to deal with one at a time otherwise, just like any other document. That it may not have 'come from the God of truth' in the sense of inspiration does not mean that truth does not come with it. So please drop the Bob Jones mentality as an excuse for throwing out the whole kit and kabbodle, eh?"
—   James Patrick Holding   (May 2, 2005)

CONTEXT: "Pendragon" is a Wiccan fellow who asked me to have a look at his list of questions. It's reminiscent of stuff we have seen from Hiero the Elephant and not much new to speak of. Since Pendragon was very polite, we've decided to take up the challenge, and have the same sort of fun he would have doing it. However, a warning that some readers will not appreciate Pendragon's graphic language. Me, I don't care...after working as a prison librarian for so long, this is like Johnson's Baby Powder to me...but some words are edited for reader consideration.

  1.   Have you ever read the entire Bible, cover to cover?   Yes. Since the rest of the question is for those who answer no we'll skip it.  

  2.   The Bible orders you to kill witches; it is the explicit, unequivocal commandment of your God (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27).   And no, I'm not "taking that out of context;" go ahead and look it up.   I'll wait. You'll have to take "out of context" but not in the way you think. Hang on a mo tho'-

I am a witch.   A real live card-carrying pentagram-wearing circle-casting Tarot-card-reading Sabbat-celebrating witch (Merry meet!). Merry meatloaf to you.   If we met, and I assured you that I am in fact a witch (I'll swear to it on your Bible if you like), would you kill me? No.  If not, why not? Because my witch-hunting license expired in June 2004. But what this runs down to is the question, "What is the role of the OT Law in the life of the Christian today?" Well, Deuteronomy is laid out in the form of an ancient treaty between a king and his vassals. It is in essence a contract between God and Israel. They "signed on" and agreed to enforce the penalties. What's the equivalent now? We now have a new covenant or contract between Christ and the individual and the believer. The sins are paid for by Christ's blood, and he takes on the punihsment for the trangression of those who break God's law and accept his payment. The old covenant and our enmity with it is now abolished (Eph. 2:15). The non-believer, the witch, et al. aren't covered by this, but nor does our new contract contain specifications of enforcement -- that is now God's domain, with regard to each individual, on the basis of the new covenant terms.   You should obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Well, sorry to disappoint you and all, but I didn't sign the Deuteronomic contract. I know God doesn't approve of witchcraft; but God also didn't give me any legal authority to do anything about it as he did the Jews. So, sorry again. If you're in the mood to be killed by someone, maybe you should go walking through Central Park at 3 AM with hundred dollar bills coming out of your pockets.   Are there any other parts of the Bible that you routinely disobey? None at all -- that I am on contract to obey.  Does this mean that you have a rebellious spirit, and need to repent? Nope. It means I understand what the Law is and was for.

How would you like it if MY holy book ordered me to kill Christians?   Would it make you a little bit nervous if we got onto the same elevator? Depends. How big are you? How fast? Can I smell you coming? Did you watch all 36 episodes of Hong Kong Phooey? I see this the same way I see the 9/11 guys...you can try to kill me if you want...but don't expect it to be easy....

  3.   In Genesis 22, God ordered Abraham to kill his own child.   If God ordered you to kill your own child, would you obey Him? Why not? Sure, as a modern individualist you might not like that. But it's not quite that simple; this is a case of modern emotion overcoming a broader sense of what's at stake. As an item here notes: Abraham saw an apparent contradiction: (1) God said "kill" Isaac and (2) God said Isaac will have many descendants. Abe drew an obvious conclusion--"God will raise Isaac back to life."...Abraham is given ONE clue that this request is MEANT to be staggering and incomprensible--the presence of the na' particle in the command. This particle is normally translated "please" but is NOT translated in the NIV of this verse. I will cite the verse translated by Hamilton (NICOT), so we can see where it fits: Then He said: "Take, please, your son, your precious one who you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, where you shall offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the peaks I will identify for you" Na; occurs often in the OT, but only 4 times by God when addressing a human. In each case, God makes a STAGGERING request of the human--and three of these are to Abraham!...The OT passage itself focuses on Abraham's priority loyalty to YHWH--cf. Jesus' words in Matt 10.37: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me". As is standard practice with God, when we 'give up' the good things in our lives to Him, we almost always get them back again with blessings. The Jewish-Christian tradition in Hebrews keyed in on Abraham's faith (and, I might add, theological method!), as did the book of James. The confidence of Abraham that Isaac would be raised from the dead IMMEDIATELY was clear in his words to the servants in vs. 5: He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you." Abraham clearly expected God to either (1) stop him; or (2) revive Isaac within a matter of minutes or hours. One strain of Jewish tradition highlights Abraham's commitment and loyalty to YHWH, even in the face of his natural compassion for his son. So Pirqe Aboth 5.4: "With ten trials our father Abraham was tried, and he stood firm in them all, to make known how great was our father Abraham's love". The ten trials are enumerated in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer 26-30, and in the Jewish morning service for the second day of the New Year...the Binding of Isaac is the tenth and most difficult of them. This gives us 1) the validation for this special and unusual event; 2) a point that it won't happen again...the rest of the question assumes a "no" so we skip it. 

  4.   Do you believe that rabbits chew cud (Leviticus 11:6, Deuteronomy 14:6-7)?   Your God does. Do you ever consider that what we call "cud" might not be what is intended here? Two issues are at hand: the definition of "cud" and that of "chewing." The word for "cud" is gerah -- it is used nowhere in the Old Testament besides these verses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy; we have only this context to help us decide what it means in terms of the Mosaic law, and attaching it to a process only defined and classified precisely by modern science is presumptuous to begin with. Refection is a process whereby rabbits pass pellets of partially digested food, which they chew on (along with the waste material) in order to give their stomachs another go at getting the nutrients out. Contrast this with what cows and some other animals do, rumination, which is what we moderns call "chewing the cud." They regurgiate partially digested food in little clumps called cuds, and chew it a little more after while mixing it with saliva. So then: partially digested food is a common element here. The Hebrew word simply refers to any partially digested food -- the process is not the issue, just the object. Our other key word here is 'alah, and it is found in some grammatical form on literally every page of the OT. This is because it is a word that encompasses many concepts other than "bring up." It also can mean ascend up, carry up, cast up, fetch up, get up, recover, restore, take up, and much more. It is a catch-all verb form describing the moving of something to another place. (The literal rendering here is, "maketh the gerah to 'alah.") As in: Josh. 24:17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt....and Ps. 135:7 He makes clouds rise (up) from the ends of the earth...So: the Hebrew word is question is NOT specific to the process of regurgitation; it is a phrase of general movement. And related to the specific issue at hand, the rabbit is an animal that does "maketh" the previously digested material to "come" out of the body (though in a different way than a ruminant does) and does thereafter does chew "predigested material"! The mistake is in our applying of the scientific terms of rumination to something that does not require it.

  5.   Are you aware that the Old Testament contains absolutely no descriptions of the afterlife   —   either heaven OR hell?   I'm aware that it does, actually. There are hints about the nature of the afterlife in, for example, Ps. 115:17 (The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence) and more detailed notices in these passages: 1) Is. 14:9-11 Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. 2) Ezek. 32:31 The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword. Add to this the incident of the witch of Endor raising Samuel (surprised Pendragon missed that one, with a witch in it) and you have a picture of the afterlife as a state where consciousness is possible, and for the wicked, a place of silence and darkness. There is a larger study in Johnston's book Shades of Sheol. But otherwise, assuming that answer will be no, Pendragon asks why we think there's no mention of afterlife in the OT. I'll answer by saying why there is so little -- As Pilch and Malina write in The Handbook of Biblical Social Values [189f] the "time orientation" of the Biblical world was one that is present-centered. Unlike moderns, who are "future-centered" (always planning for the future), the ancients concentrated on the present. Pilch and Malina observe that a present-oriented society, when faced with a problem, roots their solution in the present. The past was a secondary preference for orientation; the future, a distant third. Even elites "showed complete indifference to the future" and long-range planning as such was non-existent. The present-orientation of the ancients makes it highly unlikely that there would be any detailed concern over the afterlife; now offered enough troubles, like looking for food. Brief comments like what we do have is really all we'd expect...even if most of the books of the OT were not doctrinal treatises that would be expected to offer a detailed account of the afterlife in the first place.

  6.   Mark 16:18 says that if a Christian drinks deadly poison, it won't hurt him at all.   Are you a Christian?   If I gave you some poison, would you drink it?   Ready to put your money where your mouth is?   Ready to "step out in faith?" I'll step into the realm of textual criticism instead, thanks. That's not part of the original text.

  7.   Do you believe that God creates evil (Isaiah 45:7, KJV)?   If you believe this, why do you worship Him? Yes. But the word "evil" is ra. This word does indicate moral evil elsewhere, but there are meanings for this word like "adversity" and words of similar nature. Ra can therefore be used in both senses. Now with this in mind, how do we determine the proper translation of ra in this case? The answer is simple, once we consider the literary parallel in the verse in question. Note the antithesis in the first part of the verse from Isaiah: light/darkness. The second part of the verse must also be therefore reckoned as an antithesis. The word we translate "prosperity" is a familiar one: shalom. We commonly translate this word "peace" - but it is NEVER used to indicate moral goodness, the antithesis of moral evil! We must therefore translate "ra" in terms of its specified antithesis, and that is why it is thoroughly proper to give it the meaning of calamity/disaster/adversity here. Then the question is, "Is the created calamity warranted?" -- but Pendragon doesn't ask that here.

  8.   I read in Matthew 2:23 that it was spoken by the prophets that "He [Jesus] shall be called a Nazarene."   Can you find this prophecy in the Old Testament for me, please, or in any other writing that existed prior to 31 AD? Sure, but it requires understanding Jewish exegesis first. Here's what our sister site reports: Well, the first major clue is the use of the plural 'prophets'. Matthew has 11 formulaic fulfillment passages (1.23; 2.15; 2.18; 2.23; 3.3; 4.15f; 8.17; 12.18-21; 13.35; 21.5; 27.9f), but this is the ONLY passage with the plural-EVEN in those passages which are 'compound prophecies' from MULTIPLE prophets (i.e. 21.5; 27.9) attributed to only one of them. When we begin to study passages in which 'prophets' (or equivalent collective nouns such as 'law' or 'scripture') are 'quoted' we notice a peculiar pattern-the 'quote' turns out to be a summary that finds NO explicit word-for-word occurrence...What this suggests to us is that Matthew is making a summary statement of OT teaching, which we could not find the 'proof-text' for in ANY SINGLE OT passage. His summary is a pattern-statement, something recognizable to the readers of his day, but something that might elude those of us without their shared backgrounds...What data do we have about Nazareth and "Nazarene" from those times that would suggest a 'content' for this summary phrase?...What emerges from...the data about Nazareth is that the term "Nazarene" would have been quite a disparaging remark, conveying contempt and pointing to the insignificance of the community. As such, it would have been the perfect moniker for conveying the pervasive OT witness to Christ's humble origins and despised status (cf Is 53: "he was despised and rejected of men"). And, in this case, the plural 'prophets' were a constant witness....The NET of this: Matthew knew the OT witness to Jesus' insignificant human origins, AND knew how his audience would understand his use of the term "Nazarene". While not as specific a fulfillment as Micah 5.2, it did express a broader pattern in the messianic matrix. So the bottom line: Matthew is saying, "he will be called despised" as is thereby alluding to a variety of OT texts, such as Is. 53's "despised and rejected of man".

  9.   Joshua 10:12ff tells a story about God making the sun "stand still" overhead for about a day.   This would certainly have been noticed by every human being on earth.   Do you ever wonder why there are no other accounts of this event, anywhere, in non-Biblical historical writings? Nope, because I have the answer already from here, which states in sum (even if the "stand still" view is correct, which is also questionable): So, although it would probably have been noticed (however vaguely) by many, we are still faced with the basic problems of ancient literary remains: 1. No one was keeping records of adequate precision to document this. 2. It was only patterns of time dilation that warranted attention (a single event, of rather insipid character for everyone except the combatants, would have gotten no press). 3. When there were major disagreements between the time-keeping systems and actual observations, the ancients adjusted the time-keeping system! 4. We have no reason to believe that the impetus would have been there to prompt the infrequent actual production of a literary text.

  10.   Ecclesiastes 1:4 says that the earth will last forever; II Peter 3:10 says that it won't.   Which do you believe? I believe both, and that we need to understand what 2 Peter 3:10 is actually saying. It is Jewish apocalyptic hyperbole, representing the refashioning of the social and political order -- not a literal description of history as it shall happen. See more here...Pendragon may never have heard of my type of eschatology.

  11.   Genesis 6:19 tells us that God ordered Noah to take one pair of each animal into the ark.   Genesis 7:2 tells us that God ordered Noah to take seven of every clean beast and two of every unclean beast.   Which do you believe? Both, because I know what they really say, and it isn't quite what's described. The phrase "two by two" in 6:19 (and 7:9) simply means the animals entered the ark in pairs. So the beasts with 7 representatives came in as 3 pairs and 1 oddball each, paired off male and female and one spare wheel. (Note the difference in phraseology: "by two" and "two and two".)

  12.   Ecclesiastes 1:18 says that wisdom brings grief; Ecclesiastes 8:1 says that wisdom causes one's face to shine.   Which statement do you believe? Why not both? Ecclesiastes is an example of proverbial literature whose statements are not to be taken as absolutes. The paradoxical nature of Ecclesiastes -- a book filled with statements regarded as being in tension (like these) has been variously identified as being because Ecclesiastes is either a dialogue of a man debating with himself, "torn between what he cannot help seeing and what he still cannot help believing," [Kidner, Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, 91], or else as the author's "challenge to the man of the world to think his own position through to its bitter end, with a view to seeking something less futile." I prefer the second interpretation, but in either case, the compositional principle is the same, and derives from the ancient Near Eastern methodology, which we might loosely compare to a Hegelian case of combining thesis and antithesis, to arrive at a synthesis; or else for sports fanatics to a game of tennis in which the ball is batted back and forth between opposing points to arrive at a consensus. In this regard Ecclesiastes is related to other ANE literature with the same, or similar, content and methodology. Works like A Dialogue About Human Misery and Pessimistic Dialogue Between Master and Servant (on which, Murphy comments, the "dexterity the slave displays in affirming both the positive and negative aspects of a situation is reminiscent of [Ecclesiastes'] own style" -- Murphy commentary on Eccl, xliii] from Babylon; The Man Who Was Tired of Life from Egypt; and the book of Job from the OT, are all examples of this genre in which problems were discussed and resolved via dialogue. Experience tells us that wisdom can bring both happiness and grief in real life; so why is this a problem?

  13.   II Kings 2:11 says that Elijah ascended to heaven in a whirlwind.   John 3:13 says that nobody before Jesus ever ascended into heaven.   Which statement do you believe? Both, sorry, but again I have a grip on this that the question doesn't. The Hebrew word translated "heaven" in the first verse, shamiyim, simply means the sky, as "heavens" does metaphorically today. The "heavens" were also regarded as the abode of God, but at the time of 2 Kings there was as yet no conception of "Heaven" with a capital H as the special abode of God shared with His people. The Greek word in the second verse, ouranos, can also mean the sky, but it is also used in the sense of God's realm (as in, the "Kingdom of Heaven" [ouranos]. Note John 3:27 "John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." The word carries theological freight that shamiyim does not. Therefore, there is no conflict in these verses, for 2 Kings merely asserts where Elijah went physically and carries no theological overtones.

  14.   Do you believe that a stubborn and rebellious son should be executed in public?   Your God does (Deuteronomy 21:18ff). This is just question 2 in another permutation. Mind if I pass, then? Thanks.

  15.   Do you believe that a medium or spiritist should be killed?   Your God does (Leviticus 20:27). Question 2 reformulated again. So I'll pass and refer back to that answer. Thanks.

  16.   Do you believe that people who commit adultery deserve to die?   Your God does (Leviticus 20:10). We seem to like question 2, don't we? Pass.

  17.   Do you support the death penalty for homosexuality?   Your God does (Leviticus 20:13). Okay, by now it's getting ridiculous. PASS.

  18.   The Bible is an extremely bloodthirsty book.   It specifies, over and over, whole categories of people who should be killed (including children who "curse their parents" ... Exodus 21:17).   Are you aware that Silver Ravenwolf has written many books on Wicca, and that none of them recommend the killing of anyone? Really? Not even serial murderers or dictators like Stalin? That's nice. But the critical issue is whether deaths are warranted, and it's not enough to beg the question that "killing is wrong" and just leave it at bland assertion. May as well say that our penal system is "bloodthirsty" because it makes use of capital punishment...but we won't beg the question if you don't.

  19.   Do you hate your mother and father?   Jesus said that if you don't, you can't be his disciple (Luke 14:26).   Are you disqualified from being a Christian?   Isn't it time for you to repent of your sin of being a mother-lover? Nope, cuz you're missing it all over again. Abraham Rihbany (The Syrian Christ, 98f) points to the use of "hate" in the Bible as an example of linguistic extreme in an Eastern culture. There is no word, he notes, for "like" in the Arabic tongue. "...[T]o us Orientals the only word which can express and cordial inclination of approval is 'love'." The word is used even of casual acquaintances. Extreme language is used to express even moderate relationships. Luke 14:26 falls into a category of "extreme language," the language of absoluteness used to express a preference, and may refer to disattachment, indifference, or nonattachment without any feelings of revulsion involved. To seal this matter completely, let's look at some parallel materials which prove our point. The closest example comes from Genesis 29:30-1: And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. Here, "hated" is clearly used synonymously with one who is loved less. Let it be added that if Jacob hated Leah in a literal way, it is hardly believable that he would consent to take her as his wife at all! (See also Judges 14:16 and Deut. 21:15-17.) Now here is another example from Jesus, Luke 16:13: No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Such extremes of feeling would be atypical, but the extremes are not meant to be taken literally; the point is that one master will get more dedicated labor than the other. Now let's move into some secular works with the same sort of hyperbolic language. Fitzmeyer's Lukan commentary offers this example from Poimandes 4:6: If you do not hate your body first, O child, you will not be able to love yourself. Would you suppose that this teaches literal hatred of the physical body? It does not -- it emphasizes the need to give preference to the whole self before the body alone. Literal hate of the body would have us cutting it with razors or hitting it with blunt objects -- an extreme practiced in some Eastern faiths, but not among the Greeks! Here is another example from a war song in the Poetae Lyrici Graeci (see James Denney, "The Word 'Hate' in Lk. 14:26," Expository Times 21, 41-42): it is said that in battle, men "must count his own life his enemy for the honor of Sparta" -- is this a literal hatred of one's own life being taught? No! It is emphasizing the need to make one's life secondary for Sparta's sake. Here's a final example from Epictetus 3.3.5: "The good is preferable to every intimate relation." This is just a more abstract version of Luke 14:26!

  20.   Do you believe that anyone has ever seen God?   Isaiah said he did (Isaiah 6:1); John said that nobody has ever seen God at any time (I John 4:12; John 1:18).   Who's lying, John or Isaiah? We sure dragged all the usual suspects out of the mold barrel, huh? A general answer often given is that these verses indicate that God cannot be seen by men when in his full glory. God can be seen when in lesser form - as in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, or a theophany. These lesser forms are indicated, although their nature probably not fully understood by all of the writers, in Exod. 24:9,10, Amos 9:1, Gen. 26:2 and 32:30, John 14:9, Ex. 33:11, and also, yes, Is. 6:1. Want more? Go here.

  21.   Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish a child for his father's sin (see also Jeremiah 16:10-11); Ezekiel 18:20 says he won't.   Which do you believe? I believe you've flubbed again. As far as Ex. 20:5 (and also Deut. 24:16) A key to understanding this business is a concept called vicarious punishment that is found in the law codes of the ANE. Greenberg [Chr.SPPS, 295] offers these examples: A creditor who has maltreated the distrained sin of his debtor that he dies, must lose his own son. If a man struck the pregnant daughter of another so that she miscarried and died, his own daughter must be put to death. A seducer must deliver his wife to the seduced girl's father for prostitution. In another class are penalties which involve the substitution of a dependent for the offerer -- the Hittite laws compelling a slayer to deliver so many persons to the kinsmen of the slain, or prescribing that a man who has pushed another into a fire must give over his son... It is precisely this kind of punishment, which was prescribed in every law code in the Near East, that Ex. 20:5//Deut. 24:16 is intended to forbid. The verse is not a universal motto, but a time-specific law intended as a direct counter to the practices listed above. "The proper understanding of this requires...that it be recognized as a judicial provision, not a theological dictum." [Chr.SPPS, 296, 298] On the other hand, Kaminsky [Kam.CHRB] explains that in the context of the Exile, passages like Ezekiel 18:20 are acting as responses to the popular proverb among the people in which they complained that they were being punished for the sins of their fathers, is hardly to be read as a repudiation of corporate responsibility, for both Jerry (2:30, 3:25, 6:11-12, etc.) and Zeke (9:5-6, 21:8-9) elsewhere affirm that principle. No, what they wrote here was something quite different: And we say it served a twofold purpose -- the first revealed by Kaminsky: While in Exile, the people blamed their fathers for their situation, and regarded their situation as hopeless, themselves as thoroughly innocent victims suffering the punishment that their fathers deserved. But if this is how you think, how are you going to be able to get out of that mode of thinking and do something about your problem? Jerry and Zeke, in reminding the people that they have their own sins to consider, which indeed deserve their own punishment, and placing this reminder in the context of future hope, thereby serve to give the people, to put it crudely, a swift kick in the behind and cease submitting to the attitude of "inevitable and uncontrollable determinism" [Bloc.Zk, 560] that had pervaded their thinking. One might paraphrase these warnings thusly: "Stop whining over spilled milk...you have your own sins that deserved punishment, and now you have work to do!" Or as Block [ibid., 589] puts it: ..(C)hildren may not hide behind a theology of corporate solidarity and moral extension that absolves them of personal responsibility for their own destiny. Or, as Matties [Matt.Zk18, 158-9] describes it: Ezekiel understands that the concept of holiness demands complete purging, and so he articulates the corporate guilt and judgment. But he recognizes that the basis for experience of Yahweh's saving presence is the faithfulness of the individual Israelite. The focus of law, and here on the individual, is to begin the work of reconstituting a covenant community... Thus Zeke's goal was "to shape the virtuous life, to establish responsibility for moral choice, and to motivate the transformation toward a new and cohesive social order." [ibid., 219] The purpose of these passages, then, is motivational and pastoral, and should be understood in that context -- and therefore, offer no contradiction to verses indicating corporate guilt and punishment. Zeke's purpose, then, was not so much theological as it was pastoral. At the same time, they revealed that God's second covenant with the people would be on new terms. But this hardly served as a repudiation of corporate responsibility and judgment at all.

"Breakfast in Hell"

(from the Newsboys)

Hold the Milk, Put back the sugar
They are powerless to console
We've gathered here to sprinkle ashes
from our late friends cereal bowl.
Breakfast clubbers say the motto
that he taught us to repeat
"You will lose it in your gym class if you wait till noon to eat"
Back when the chess club said our eggs were soft
Every Monday he'd say grace and hold our juice aloft
Oh none of us knew his check out time would come so soon
but before his brain stpped waving he composed this tune
When the toast is burned
And all the milk has turned
And Captain Crunch is waving farewell
When the big one finds you
May this song remind you
That they don't serve breakfast in hell
(by the way, the flames in hell aren't meant to be understood literally, John Cleese's sophisticated knowledge of ANE metaphor notwithstanding)

  22.   Do you believe that you can be saved (go to heaven after you die) if you don't believe in the virgin birth of Jesus? Sure, but you'll have some cognitive dissoance if you do.   Did you know that two of the four gospels don't mention the virgin birth at all? Yeah, and I don't care. This sort of objection demonstrates a lack of realization that there is NO relevance for the virgin birth in the places where it is lacking mention. Remember, the NT materials were written to people who ALREADY believed the Gospel. By the time the were reading this stuff, they had already accepted all of the basic tenets, and already had all the basic information. This also matches the point that the NT was written in a "high context" setting on which people's background knowledge of events was substantially assumed, as opposed to our "low context" society in which we feel a need to explain everything, every time! Beyond that, Brown [Brow.BirM, 521] observes that the virginal conception "would have become the subject of preaching (and therefore likely to be included in the kind of writing we find in the New Testament) only when its christological significance was seen." He also observes that the primary theological doctrine associated with the virginal conception (that Christ was thus not tainted by original sin) was first cited by Augustine. (ibid., 530) That being the case, we may suggest that the NT writers did NOT observe any christological significance in the virgin birth per se - any more than they did in any of Jesus' other miracles collectively. Hence, there was no need to go out of their way to report it, and we may agree with Anderson, who observes that all we can therefore say about the silence of the rest of the NT is that the virgin birth was simply "not a ground on which (the evangelists) called others to faith." [Ander.MI, 16] Indeed, though he does not explain why, Brown suggests that adding the virgin birth to the preaching of the church would have "opened Jesus' origins to ridicule and calumny" [Brow.VirgRes, 61] - but we may guess why. There would be the inevitable comparisons to pagan myths, or, the charge of illegitimacy - just as occurs today! Brown's observations are confirmed elsewhere in more detail. Campenhausen [VonCamp.VBT], though skeptical of the virgin birth himself, has performed a survey of the theology of the virgin birth in the early church, and observes, rather dryly, that the virgin birth was "anything but the starting point of the early Christian message." (ibid., 10) He does not speculate as to why this was so, but does note that it was only in the time of Ireneaus that the virgin birth was regarded as an essential part of doctrine, with hints of its theological import being found earlier in the works of Justin (c. 150 AD). Thus, he writes (ibid., 24): ...the doctrine of the virgin birth was not formulated for the sake of a theological line of thought; it is simply a supposedly 'apostolic' piece of biblical tradition that was handed down. Yhis leads back to Brown's remark. The virgin birth was not seen in a christological perspective when Matthew and Luke reported it; hence, there is no reason for it to appear in Paul's letters or elsewhere in the NT. There is not even any reason for it to be in Mark and John (note that in the missionary preaching of Acts, the kerygma begins not with Jesus' birth, but with his baptism by John) - but there is a reason for Matthew and Luke to use it: The former wished to link it to the fulfillment of prophecy (Is. 7:14); the latter showed especial interest in the life of Mary.=   Are you aware that (a) there is good reason to believe that the word translated "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 doesn't mean "virgin," and (b) this is the only Old Testament verse that "prophesies" the virgin birth of anybody? I'm aware that this argument has been had before, and rendered moot. The summation of the large argument given here: The linguistic data is fairly straightforward. This word, in contradistinction to bethulah, is NEVER used of a non-virgin (either in the OT or in ordinary cognate usage). It STILL GENERALLY means 'young woman' but always includes the notion of virginity and non-marriage. As for being the only OT verse for this, why is this an issue?

(The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 that's mistranslated "virgin" is almah, which means "young woman."   It carries with it no indication, either way, about the young woman's sexual experience. False, as noted in the article.   The Hebrew word that specifically means "virgin" is bethulah, a word that we know Isaiah was familiar with, since he used it four times   -   Isaiah 23:12, 37:22, 47:1, and 62:5.) Sorry, no, as the article notes: it is incorrect to say that "bethulah" is the word that would have been used, if 'virginity' was a major issue of the passage. It generally means 'young woman, living in the household of her father' (with OR without virginity)…

  23.   Do you have faith in God? Yep.Yep. Are you aware that the Bible says that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6)? It does? "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Doesn't sound like "all that counts" to me.

  24.   Do you believe that a snake can talk (Genesis 3:1)? That one did is enough.   It doesn't have lips.   How does it make the "w" sound? Since I'm dealing with a Wiccan here, I won't get much guff if I give an answer like this one: How about a form of mental telepathy? Better yet, how about ventriloquism, which is what we think actually happpened here?

  25.   Are you aware that Jesus threatened to murder children (Revelation 2:23)? No, but I am aware that someone here thinks that "Jezebel" is a literal person here and not an ideology.   Does this change your opinion about him? No, but it confirms my opinion about poor exegesis being performed here.  If not, what would it take to change your opinion about Jesus? A contextually sound, uncoerced answer.

Here's what Jehovah God Almighty (the deity to whom your child prays his bedtime prayers each night) says in Psalm 137:9: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."   Do you, like God, ever want to throw human babies against rocks?   Would doing so make you happy, as God predicts? That depends. Have I ever had an enemy do that to my children, as David's enemies did? Not that it matters; these are simply typical expressions of Oriental imprecation. Rihbany (The Syrian Christ, 92ff) gives more modern examples: "May God burn the bones of your fathers"; "May your children be orphaned and your wife widowed", and so on. Such wishes were expressed in clan fights and quarrels in Rihbany's native Syria; and yet: "...the Syrians are not so cruel and heartless as such imprecations, especially when cast in cold type, would lead one to believe." Such petitions actually serve a purpose as a "safety-valve" through which the Oriental vents his wrath. "As a rule the Orientals quarrel much, but fight little. By the time the two antagonists have cursed and reviled each other so profusely they cool off, and thus graver consequences are averted." The Anglo-Saxon social order being more complex cannot resolve things so simply; yet the Oriental shudders at the Anglo- Saxon ready resort to fisticuffs. Who's the barbarian after all? All of us! (For comparison, sci-fi fans may consider Alan Dean Foster's book, Quozl, which depicted a peaceful society of beings who vented their hostilities through art with blood-curdling scenes of war.)  Would you want this hideous Bible verse taught to your child in Sunday School? In context? You bet.   In a children's Bible, how do you think this verse should be illustrated?   Please take a minute and do a quick sketch to illustrate Psalm 137:9 for my son. Sorr,m but it's a little hard to put in a single illustration a lesson about Oriental methods of imprecation. Maybe you can draw Rihbany some pictures of his father's bones burning too.

  26.   Do you believe that there's any Bible verse that applies to abortion? Not directly, no. It wasn't something people of the time would have had much of a desire to do, since children were a key to survival.     Do you believe that "abortion is murder?" If done knowingly by one who knew the fetus was human? Yes.  If so, would you kill a doctor who was about to perform an abortion, in order to defend the life of the helpless fetus? No, it's more beneficial in the long run to work back through the judicial process, public opinion, etc.  Do you think that would be justifiable homicide? No.   Do you believe there are any circumstances where abortion is permissible?   What circumstances?   Rape?   Incest?   To save the life of the mother?   The last one only. If you object, explain why adoption isn't an option, please. If abortion is murder, why would these special circumstances make any difference   —   why would they make it okay to kill a helpless fetus? The one circumstance given is a tradeoff of one life versus another. Ask yourself which is worse: A mother without a baby, or a baby that has lost his or her mother.  And please give a specific Bible verse to justify your position that abortion is permissible if it causes the death of an innocent baby who is the result of a rape. The idea of sacrificial death for the greater good is one that should be familiar to anyone who knows how Jesus' life ended...but that's not my position anyway....

Let's suppose it's 1888, and we're all living in Austria.   Adolf Hitler's mother has just found out she's pregnant, and she's on her way to the (secret) abortion clinic.   You and your foaming-at-the-mouth anti-abortion folks have two options: (1) hold a huge rally, block her path, and prevent her from getting an abortion; or (2) do nothing (i.e., mind your own business)   —   and the birth of a mass-murdering monster will be prevented (and you'll save the lives of six million innocent Jews).   What would you do? Just two options? How about (3) get hold of that baby and bring it up in a way it won't become Hitler as we know him; maybe take him to America? But if you're going to limit us to two, (2) serves the greater good. Now all we need is a way to figure out which abortion candidates are Hitler, and which will be Jonas Salk....

  27.   Can you show me a single Bible verse that condemns the practice of slavery? No, and we wouldn't expect there to be one, because 1) in the OT, they don't have slavery -- that was indentured servitude; 2) in the NT era, the massively ambiguous character of Roman slavery precluded such a response, and indeed, would have made it ultimately counterproductive. Want more? See here and read both parts.   If you were God, would you have written the Bible to include a commandment against slavery? No.   If not, why not? For the OT, no, because there was none. For the NT, no, because it was far better to undermine the basis for slavery, the presumed inequality of persons, as indeed the NT did, rather than issue a point-blank order that no one would care about.   Do you believe that slavery is an acceptable institution? No.  Your God obviously does. No, He obviously does not, for otherwise, He never would have taught such radical ideas as "there is neither slave nor free" which undermined the essential presumptions slavery is based on.   He wrote an entire book of picky little rules (including a prohibition against boiling a goat in its mother's milk   -   Exodus 23:19), but never condemned slavery! That's too bad, isn't it? Now the least you can do is try to understand why, eh?

In fact, in Exodus 21:7ff, God gives instructions on how a father can sell his own daughter into slavery.   If I followed this Biblical teaching, would you want to be friends with me? Sorry, but as noted, that's indentured servitude, not slavery, and it was a way to make sure the daughter AND her family didn't die of starvation. Let's ask instead, would I want to be friends with you if you let your daughter starve because of your obscure moral principles?

The best-selling book in history ... authored by the creator of the universe ... and it never condemns pedophilia, child abuse, animal abuse, or domestic violence. Why should it? The first two were not problems in Hebrew society; you may as well object that it doesn't condemn carjacking. The third would have been foolish, given that animals were like one's ticket to survival. The last was an honor offense; beat your wife, and her family will beat you. Why is a specific law needed?   In fact, Biblegod endorses the beating of children (Proverbs 22:15). And I take it you endorse anarchy? In this particular case, any parent who uncritically applies Prov. 22:5 for things like Johnny not cleaning his room would not only be unreasonable, but acting in complete ignorance of the social context of these texts. As noted in Crenshaw's Education in Ancient Israel, for the ancients, education wasn't simply a matter of teaching times tables so we can get a job selling timeshares: Education was a matter of survival, of ensuring that what there was of civilization did not slip over that fine line from order into chaos. Thus all of the Ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature is filled with pithy sayings along the lines of, "A student's back is his ear." Even as today students had to be taught to want to learn -- the only differences are that the options for distraction have become more diversified (i.e., video games, versus, i.e., trips to the prostitute's house), and most of us aren't perceptive enough to see through our society's complexity to know that chaos is just as possible here and now. We don't see a reason to associate severity with education, but if we wait long enough and have enough school shootings, perhaps we will. Just for context, here are parallel sayings from the time, provided by Crenshaw: Withhold not from thy son the rod, else thou wilt not be able to save [him from wickedness]. If I smite thee, bu son, thou wilt not die, but if I leave there to thine own heart [thou wilt not live]. -- Abiqar, Saying 4 -- I grew into a youth at your side. You beat my back, your teaching entered my ear. -- Papyrus Lansing, a schoolbook. As Crenshaw puts it, "In the Bible, education originated with the desire for order and continuity. To combat the powerful and seductive lure of chaos in various forms, societal or personal, older and more experienced individuals tried their best to prevent the younger generation from falling into the pitfalls confronting them in the nooks and crannies of daily life." [1] Resistance to learning is nothing new, but unlike today when not doing one's math homework only results a lack of one skill, resistance to learning meant not acquiring skills that enabled one to survive, and by extension, allowing society to survive. Education was for the most part "functional" rather than knowledge for knowledge's sake [151]. "Simple sins" today like gossip or slander could have far greater ripple effects. In this light, the severe corporal punishment of the Bible was perfectly appropriate for its time, and in that light, this is a non-complaint based only on the presumed actions of "unreasonable" people who would know no more about the social contexts of these texts than thyself would.  Here's his chance to make things right, to give us a definitive moral guide for living, to tell us not to beat up children, to tell us that men and women should have equal rights ... but he says the exact opposite. No, sorry, it doesn't -- and it also was not written to modern creampuff America...  Women are second-class citizens in God's eyes. Sorry, no -- there's a whole series here that proves you wrong. When you offer a specific "proving" your argument, we'll draw from that response for our reply. Since all you give is a link, there's ours back...   Isn't the Bible out of step with (a) modern times It was quite ahead of its time, actually, and presupposed egalitarianism in a quite radical way for its day. and (b) common-sense morality ... you know, the kind that comes instinctively to a mentally-retarded seven-year-old? It would help the "common sense" bit if you actually studied the text for what it was...but that's the problem, no?

And while the Infinite All-Knowing Mind of God was dispensing wisdom ... couldn't he have told those guys back in 950 BC some really useful stuff?   Like what causes tooth decay? They knew what caused tooth decay.   How about the germ theory of disease? So they can do what with it? Conduct germ warfare 2000 years ahead of time?   Maybe a warning about cholesterol? Not likely needed, since basic subsistence was hard enough.   Some rudimentary instructions on the manufacture of penicillin? And why not ideas for other, harmful drugs while we are at it...   Couldn't he have told them that the earth revolves around the sun ... that it's not flat? No clear evidence they thought that in the first place. Besides, would you show any patience to one today who came and spouted off about "glep plants" on "the planet Glorp" which was "around Alpha Centauri" -- even if we discovered 250 years from now that this person was right, what good is that today? Do you listen to such a one, or lock him up as a madman?   Maybe some clear guidance about abortion ... when (if ever) is it okay?   When is it NOT okay? Like I said, not needed -- only the foolish aborted their children in the ANE.   What's the age of consent for sexual activity? They already had that one decided and didn't need a law for it, my man.  What are the exceptions to the hearsay rule? There was no such concept as "hearsay" as yet. So what else can we give you? Shoe polishing? EPA mileage ratings for the next 2000 years?

  28.   And are you aware that not only does the Bible NOT condemn slavery, it specifically allows it   —   even giving rules on how to buy slaves, and how they should be treated?   See Leviticus 25:44, Exodus 21:2, Ephesians 6:5.   Would you vote for a President who stated publicly that he agrees with this doctrine of the Bible (the acceptability of slavery)? What, this again? Again: In the OT, it's indentured servitude, not slavery, and if you don't like it, you just condemned many people who chose it to come to America. And in the NT, it would have been the wrong thing to do to issue an outright condemnation. If you disagree, ask yourself who was more effective: Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King?

  29.   James 2:20 says that faith without works is dead; Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by faith without works.   Which do you believe?   Is FWOW dead, or does it save us? It does both; the phrases are not mutually exclusive. What makes you think they are?

And by the way ... can one be saved by works without faith?   The Bible clearly says that one can (Ezekiel 18:21-22) ... and clearly says that one can't (Ephesians 2:8-9).   Which do you believe? I have no idea how you think Ezekiel is talking about eschatological salvation. In any event, the question preserves a false dichotomy. Behind much of the thought in the Bible lies a "peculiarly Semitic" idea of a "unitive notion of human personality." [Dahl, Resurrection of the Body, 59] This notion combined aspects of the human person that we, in modern times, often speak of as separate entities: Nausea is thought of as a condition of the soul and not the stomach (Num. 21:5); companionship is said to be refreshing to the bowels (Philemon 7); and the fear of God is health to the navel (Prov. 3:8). This line of thinking can be traced through the Old Testament and into the New Testament (in particular, the concept of the "body of Christ") and rabbinic literature. Applied to the individual, the Semitic Totality Concept means that "a man's thoughts form one totality with their results in action so that 'thoughts' that result in no action are 'vain'." [ibid, 60] To put it another way, man does not have a body; man is a body, and what we regard as constituent elements of spirit and body were looked upon by the Hebrews as a fundamental unity. Man was not made from dust, but is dust that has, "by the in-breathing of God, acquired the characteristics of self-conscious being." Thus Paul regards being an unbodied spirit as a form of nakedness (2 Cor. 5). Man is not whole without a body. A man is a totality which embraces "all that a man is and ever shall be." Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made. Thought and action are so linked under the Semitic Totality paradigm that Clark warns us [An Approach to the Theology of the Sacraments, 10]: The Hebraic view of man as an animated body and its refusal to make any clear-cut division into soul and body militates against the making of so radical a distinction between material and spiritual, ceremonial and ethical effects. Thus, what we would consider separate actions of conversion, confession, and obedience in the form of works would be considered by the Hebrews to be an act in totality. "Both the act and the meaning of the act mattered -- the two formed for the first Christians an indivisible unity." [Flemington, New Testament Doctrine of Baptism, 111]

  30.   James 2:21 says that Abraham was righteous because of his works; Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham was righteous because he believed God.   Which do you think is true? Under Semitic Totality, there's no difference.

  31.   We know for a fact that Lot was a righteous man, because the Bible says so (II Peter 2:7).   We also know for a fact that Lot got drunk, ****ed his own daughters (Genesis 19:31ff), and got them both pregnant.   If I did this to my daughters, would you tell people that I was a righteous man? I dunno. Did your daughters get you drunk at a time when you were miserable and vulnerable (he had just lost his wife and future sons-in-law, for Pete's sake) and fool you into doing it? The problem here isn't Lot being unrighteous, but his daughters.

What about if I ate rabbit meat (Deuteronomy 14:7)?   We know **mn well that's a sin !!! Rather than getting pissy, why not try to understand the purpose of such laws? At the core of this and other passages lies a concept of ritual purity -- one which ties in to how the ancients viewed the world. In ancient societies, purity codes "are a way of talking about what is proper for a certain place and a certain time...Pollution is a label attached to whatever is out of place with regard to the society's view of an orderly and safe world." It involves "drawing the lines that give definition to the world around us..." More than this: Purity in the ancient world "is fundamentally concerned with the ordering of the world and making sense of one's everyday experiences in light of that order, which is usually conceived as being a divine ordering of the cosmos..." Ancient cultures like Israel's "draw extensive lines of purity, of clean and unclean, in an attempt to create a model of God's cosmic order and to help an individual locate his or her place in that order so that the person may know when pollution has been contracted and what needs to be done to dispel it, so that access to the holy God and his benefits will remain open." Breaches of boundaries are "unclean". From the Israelites food laws, something like a lobster which lives in the water, yet has legs, is ritually unclean because it breaks the boundaries between land and sea. Pilch and Malina [Handbook of Biblica Social Values, 24] also note the example of garments not being of mingled textiles (Lev. 19:19, Deut. 22:11). Rabbits were forbidden for the same reason. As shown in Education in Ancient Israel by James Crenshaw, the ancients knew well that human society in their time was only a few steps away from anarchy and chaos. Constant reminders were needed, and constant vigilance, to protect the social order. The interest in ritual purity represents a larger interest in the wholeness of the social order; maintaining order on one scale contributed to keeping order on a larger scale. "...[O]bserving these ordinances would be meaningful" for they "allowed the community of Israel to move in step with, or mirror, the divine order" and become "a living reflection of the character of the holy God in the midst of the world, a holy island of order in the midst of the Gentiles' aberrations." Purity codes in other cultures serve similar purposes; all that is at issue is whose concept of order, if any, is true. Critics who live today with no visible threat of anarchy -- especially here in America -- simply lack social clues and understanding.

  32.   Have you ever prayed to your God and not gotten what you asked for? Yes.   Have you ever prayed to your God and asked for something worthwhile (such as healing for a sick relative), but still didn't get what you asked for? Probably.   Are you aware that the Bible says this is evidence of your lack of faith (Matthew 7:7-8, 21:22)? I'm aware that you're out of contextm as usual. Having faith means you can get such and such, not that you WILL. How realistic is it to think that Matt. 21:22 is a license to overturn topographical features? This is certainly an example of hyperbole, indeed, of the same sort used in Luke 14:26. The phrase "moving mountains" was "a Jewish metaphor for accomplishing what was difficult or virtually impossible" and "points to the hyperbole of what is being said" (Hagner, 605) Later rabbis would ask for signs validating their views consisting of objects being uprooted. The person with faith does not ask for that which God would not or does not will; prayer is a two-way street, not a request hotline for all that we want. This is not just a brush-off or a simplistic solution, but is grounded in the realities and thought of the time of the Bible. In Jewish thought, God was sovereign. Nothing happened that God did not permit or cause. "Early Jewish teaching did celebrate God's kindness in answering prayer, but rarely promises such universal answers to prayer to all of God's people as the language suggests." [Keener, 245] Only a small number of sages were considered pious enough to ask for and receive whatever they wanted -- and that piety was their key indicates that they weren't going around asking for just anything they wanted (like Hanina ben Dosa, and Honi the Circle-Drawer), but only what they supposed to be in the will of God. "Such a call to believing prayer supposes a heart of piety submitted to God's will..." Finally, let us note that limitations are clearly set by the context. The Lord's Prayer instructs us to pray for daily needs (Matt. 6:11) -- it does not say, "Give us this day a Rolls Royce." Earthly children ask for bread or fish (7:9-10) which are "basic staples in the Palestinian diet" that were provided to children on a regular basis. We can ask for "good things" (7:11), a term which sometimes referred to prosperity generally, but also "referred to agricultural produce that the righteous would share with with others (Test. Iss. 3:7-8)."   Why haven't you ever asked your all-powerful God to eradicate cancer or AIDS?   Do you think he'd do it? Why should either be expected? I have a better idea: Why not ask humans to stop poisoning ourselves and our environment with toxic wastes, cigarettes, etc and to stop having sexual liasions with everything that walks by? That would stop cancer and AIDS even faster than misdirected prayer, and best of all, it proves that we are grownups and not children who don't deserve our every request granted.

  33.   II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says that God sends a powerful delusion to certain people, causing them to believe a lie, so that they will be condemned (i.e., spend eternity suffering in hell).   Isn't this, frankly, immoral? No. As our sister site says, Let's look at it in the larger context of the passage: And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. Let's notice a few things about this: 1. This has to do with the End-times and the Anti-Christ, who appears with 'all kinds' of epistemologically-powerful evidences. All sorts of 'extraordinary evidence' will accompany this evil one. (v.9) 2. This power also shows up in every 'sort of evil' that deceives those who are perishing. Notice that this 'deceives' applies to people who are ALREADY perishing somehow. They have ALREADY been confronted with truth and rejected it apparently. Now this 'new' deception comes ON TOP OF that previous rejection... (v.10) 3. The reason for their perishing is NOT said to be 'God' but 'because they refused to love the truth'.... 4. IF they had loved the truth, then they would have 'been saved'--and these verses would not have applied to them, and the powerful epistemic forces of Satan (although VERY convincing) would NOT have 'convinced them' (see Jesus' prophecy about this aspect--Mt 24:24: "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect -- if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.") 5. "For this reason" applies backward to the rejection of truth; the "so that" applies forward to the condemnation. What this basically does is tie the 'delusion' CAUSALLY to the 'refusal to love the truth' (like in the OT--"we love deceit") and tie it JUDICIALLY to the 'judgment/condemnation'... 6. However, we should note that the delusion itself is VERY SPECIFIC in this case--it is "The Lie"--NOT just general falsehood (which we will see in the next verse). 7. In verse 12 we see again that the condemnation/delusion is for those who have ALREADY NOT believed the truth. This is simply not your basic 'open-minded seekers' but rather those who have rejected both TRUTH AND "love for truth". It is not just people who are mistaken (no-truth), but people who are HAPPILY MISTAKEN(!)--the "no truth for me, buddy" crowd.   Isn't this what Christians accuse Satan (the father of lies   -   John 8:44) of doing? No, Satan tried to deceive people who wanted truth, not those who wanted lies.   If you were God, would you cause people to believe a lie? If you were an innocent German, would you want to make Nazis believe there were no Jews in your cellar?   Why? The Nazi example tells the story. Truth is not something people always have a right to, when a greater good is at issue.

  34.   Do you believe that prayer should be allowed in public schools? Sponsored prayer? No. So I'll skip the rest of the question, which assumes a yes.

You May Be A Fundy Atheist/Skeptic If....

10.   You consistently deny the existence of God because you personally have never seen him but you reject out of hand personal testimony from theists who claim to have experienced God as a reality in their lives.

9.  You think that every scientist who believes in Creationism and doesn't mindlessly accept evolution as a fact is a "kook," but you believe that Francis Crick (Nobel Prize winning co-discoverer of DNA), who reached into his nether regions and pulled out the "theory" of Directed Panspermia (which states with absolutely no support that aliens seeded the earth with life - see the movie "Mission to Mars"), is a great evolutionist scientist.

8.   You laugh at Trinitarians, but are dumbstruck when they use the word "hypostasis".

7.   You have actually calculated, for purposes of "argument by outrage," an estimate of the number of people drowned in The Flood.

6.   You not only spell "God" with a lower case "g," but you also add an "E" to "B.C.," and replace the word "Christ" with an "x." Yet, when asked to name the planets you have no problem with spouting out the appropriate list of Roman Gods. Heck, you'll even spell them with capital letters! Not only that, you can even spell and pronounce the name of the 800-mile-diameter Trans-Neptunian Object 'Quaoar', and are delighted that it comes from the creation mythology of the Tongva people (aka the San Gabrielino Native Americans).

5.   You have recently stuck a Darwin fish on your car in the hopes the people with the Jesus fish on theirs will be offended.

4.   You go to an Atheism versus Christianity debate in which you must vote for whoever you think wins. The Christian side is represented by a highly prestigious historian and theologian, and the atheist side is represented by a dog that's able to bark the theme song to "I Dream of Jeannie" off key. You vote for the dog.

3.   You don't realize that Landover Baptist Church's website is a parody.

2.   When you were a child, someone came down with a deadly disease and prayed and prayed for God to take it away. God did not remove the disease and your friend died. You ask other Christians why they had to die when they were such a nice person and never harmed anyone. Dissatisfied with their answers, you suddenly decide that there is no God and that all Christians are nothing but lying, conniving con artists and hypocrites....all that is except for your friend who died.

1.   Everytime you don't understand a passage in The Bible, instead of trying to figure it out you blame God for not writing it better.

  35.   Are you aware that the Bible unequivocally states   —   twice   —   that women are not allowed to speak in church (I Corinthians 14:34, I Timothy 2:12)? Yes. I'm also aware that 1) 1 Cor. 14:34 is an example of Paul repeating back, and then (after that) refuting an opponents' position; 2) 1 Tim. 2:12 must be read in light of the fact that a) ALL people, men and women, were supposed to keep their mouths shut while being taught in the ancient world; b) Ephesus was subject to a particular belief system that viewed women as BETTER than man, and Paul's response must be read in light of both of these facts.   Has your pastor ever preached a sermon on this obviously important Scriptural principal? Not mine, but if he ever did, I'm sure he'd be more informed than this question reflects. I'll skip the rest since it's misdirected to the wrong reading of these texts, but will go to:

By the way, Christians are famous for engaging in the most amazing, dishonest acrobatics/contortions of logic in trying to avoid the clear, plain, obvious meaning of the "women-have-to-shut-up-in-church" verses (and other verses that show that Biblegod is really some male chauvinist like Moses in disguise).   The "standard" apologetics are: (a) not meant for modern times; (b) there are other verses that indicate that women taught and/or were actually apostles in the early church; (c) you're taking it out of context.   Some of the greatest entertainment in the world is watching Christians do furious backflips explaining away these embarrassing "non-PC" Bible passages. It's a lot more fun watching accusers like these go "huh????" when we answer in terms of things like Greco-Roman rhetoric. Of course ours is mainly a C answer...but I very much doubt you've ever seen anything like the one I've given.

  36.   Deuteronomy 13:1-5 states that anyone who preaches a God other than your God should be put to death.   PLEASE tell me that you disagree with your God on this point. What, another #2 question? Why not just put them all together into one question and make this thing only 38 questions long?

And if you agree with the Lord God about Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (and I already know that you do), please send me an email so that I can give you the names and addresses of some people that your God wants you to kill.   And let me know if you need to borrow a gun (and specify the caliber, please. Currently available are a .357 revolver and a nice bolt-action 8mm Mauser with a scope). I'd prefer to let them read your list of questions and have them laugh themselves to death.

And Deuteronomy 13:6-10 orders an ancient Israelite to rat out his brother   —   his daughter   —   his wife   —   his friend   —   if one of them advocates worshipping another god.   If you were an ancient Israelite, and your eight-year-old son casually suggested following a different religion (don't tell me this thought hasn't occurred to YOU once or twice), would you turn him in to the authorities, knowing that he would be sentenced to death? Another #2 question? How many more are there?   Is God starting to remind you of Adolf Hitler?   Are you starting to notice that your Holy Bible contains a large number of "death orders?" Funny, so does the prison system in my state. I wonder if we'll ever get past "argument by outrage" and into, "I can prove this order is unjustified in context because..."

  37.   The Bible tells us that the Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years, and that most of them died there (Numbers 14:20-24).   Using the census numbers from the Exodus and Numbers, that means that approximately two million people died in 40 years in a relatively small area (and we know where it is).   Are you aware that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence of those people having been in this part of the world?   How do you explain this? Tell you what. You explain to me where the evidence is for the tens of millions of nomadic Scythians (not just a few of them, or their rulers with their rich tombs) who wandered the ancient steppes for literally thousands of years, and I'll return the favor of showing you the evidence for a mere 2 million wandering an area for just 40 years. Deal? Or maybe you need to examine your expectations for what sort of evidence would indeed be left behind in such a short period by a nomadic/pastoral people whose motto would be, "don't throw away anything if it can be used again and again."

  38.   The Bible promises that God will meet ALL your needs (Philippians 4:19).   Do you carry insurance?   Why do you think you need it?   Don't you believe what the Bible says? And I suppose you think that when the Gospels say that Jesus explained "all things" to his disciples, that included the mating habits of sea slugs. Please read #32 above again and reformulate the question....

  39.   Do you believe in evolution? No.   Are you aware that the DNA of a bonobo (a primate) is 98.4% identical to yours? No, but if it is, it isn't very important.   If God created everything, why do you think he created you almost exactly like a hairy jungle primate? Should I be offended by people who have a lot of hair or live in a jungle? Let me ask in reply: Are you aware that a Ford is 98.4% like a Chevy? Why would the engineers at Ford and Chevy do a thing like that?   Are you aware that your skeletal system is pretty much identical to that of a bird, or a dog, or a cat, or a rat   —   an arm that has a radius and an ulna; carpal and metacarpal bones; a scapula; ribs; a sternum; a pelvis; tibia and fibula bones in the legs; bilateral symmetry; a blood/circulatory system that's powered by a heart?   Is your God simply lacking in imagination, that he created most of the animal life-forms with such similarity? Imagination? Are you complaining about the repeated use of a design that works? Let's write to Ford and suggest they build some cars with only two wheels, or with six, just to show some "imagination"....

  40.   John 7:38 quotes Jesus as saying, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."   In 31 AD, the Scripture (being the OT only ... the NT hadn't been written) said no such thing.   What exactly was Jesus talking about? Witherington's commentary on John [173] notes that Sirach 24:30-32 reflects a similar saying: "As for me, I was like a canal from a river, like a water channel into a garden. I said, 'I will water my garden and drench my flower-beds' And lo, my canal became a river, and my river a sea...I will again pour out teaching like prophecy, and leave it to all future generations." This comes after a discussion of Wisdom/Torah as being a source of a river of wisdom. Note that "scripture" (graphe) is a word for any written document and does not apply exclusively to the OT.

And did you know that Jesus contradicted himself ... in two statements that are recorded in the same book of the Bible? Oh my. Really? I can't wait...

(1)   "Jesus answered and said unto them, though I bear record [marturia] of myself, yet my record [marturia] is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go." (John 8:14)   Marturia means "bear witness" (NAS) or "testify" (NIV, NRSV), and it's the same word used in John 5:31, where Jesus says,

(2)   "If I bear witness [marturia] of myself, my witness [marturia] is not true."

So tell me, based on the statements of Jesus himself ... if he bears witness of himself, is it true, or not true? Let's look at the facts, eh? The Greek of 5:31 is either a conditional of present reality or a future-more-vivid construction, having the initial ei and the particle an joined together by crasis for ean . The verb marturo is either present active indicative or present active subjunctive. The pronoun ego , "I", is emphatic. In Robertson's A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research , page 1018, he expresses the conditional statement in 5:31 is "If perchance I bear witness." Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (p. 471) claims that given the present tense of eimi in the apodosis of 5:31, it seems to be the best option that Jesus "is not saying that it is probable that he wil bear testimony about himself. Rather, he is simply stating a supposition." This is what is termed a "fifth-class condition" in Wallace's grammar. Now with these facts in tow we can examine 5:31. The verse states: "If I [and only I -- the pronoun is emphatic] bear witness of myself [a possibility but not a given]..." The context indicates that Jesus is here discussing the hopelessness of a man's testimony being accepted on itself alone. Recall Deut 19:15, where two or three witnesses are required for acceptance of a testimony. Jesus seems to be stating that the Jews won't find his witness true, because the Jews think that Jesus is alone testifying concerning Himself. Jesus is not at all stating that in reality His witness is not true: He is God and the very incarnation of truth; Jesus is merely acknowledging what the Jews are or might be thinking. Jesus knows that His witness is true, for in reality it is -- but the Jews fail to recognize that "another bears witness" in 5:32, clearly a reference to God the Father. Jesus knows that His testimony is true because it is supported by Jesus Himself and the Father who sent him, fulfilling Deut 19:5. But the Jews do not recognize that the Father also bears witness to Jesus! This is the most natural exegesis of 5:31-2. Now we exegete 8:14, where Jesus again speaks to the Pharisees, stating (NIV) "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going." Here the interpretation is self-evident. Whereas in 5:31 the natural context was of Jesus' self-testimony's validity with respect to the minds of the Jews, His testimony, being perceived as being solitary by the Jews would not be valid to the Jews. On the other hand, here in 8:14 he states that his self-witness is true with respect to reality . Jesus is also stating that the Pharisees are not in a position to judge the truth of Jesus' testimony because they do not know where he came from or where he was going. I quote Morris (pages 390-1), who seconds this notion: "In 5:31 He [Jesus] has said , `If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true,' by which he meant that his witness had to be supported to be accepted. There he agreed with the Pharisees that unsupported testimony has no legal value. He did not mean that his words were not in fact true. They were true. But if his testimony was unsupported it was not to be received. Here he has two points to make: the one is that he is qualified to bear witness though his enemies are not, and the other that in any case his testimony is not unsupported. The Father bears witness of him. Jesus is contrasting himself with the Pharisees. He knows both his origin and his destination, but they know neither. They are not in a position to comment on his witness. They are totally unaware of the great heavenly verities." Again, see the interesting footnotes on those pages. Keeping these solid exegeses of the two verses, we see that there is really no case for asserting that Jesus is contradicting Himself. Happy now?

  41.   Genesis 5:27 says that Methuselah lived 969 years.   Honestly now ... do you believe this? No problem. The Sumerians sure had no problem with such things. Heck, they have people living over 100,000 years.   What do you think his family gave him for his 762nd birthday?   Surely he had enough neckties and cologne. You can never have enough cologne. Never.

Genocide at Midian??
  42.   In Numbers 31:1-18, God commanded the Israelites to kill the Midianites   —   all except the female virgins, whom the Israelites were to "save for themselves."   If your son were in the Army, and he murdered defenseless civilians, but spared the women so that he could **ck them, what would you think of him?   Would it make you proud of him? Probably not, but that's not what's happening here, sorry. As our sister site notes: [T]he accusation that these girls were for “sex slave” purposes contradicts what we know about the culture and about the event...1. Most girls were married soon/immediately after they began menstruating in the ANE (circa 12 years of age), and since infant and child mortality was so high, the average age of the girls spared would have been around 5 years of age or slightly lower (life expectancy wasn’t a straight line, with childhood risks so high). Of all the horrible things ascribed to Israel in the OT, pedophilia is the one conspicuous omission. That these little kids would have been even considered as ‘sex slaves’ seems quite incongruent with their ages. And, at this tender age, they would not have been very useful as ‘slaves’ at all! Children raised in Israelite households were ‘put to work’ around this age, sometimes doing light chores to help the mother for up to four hours per day by the age of 7 or 8 [OT:FAI:27], but 5 is still a bit young. Instead, the Israelite families would have had to feed, clothe, train, care, protect, and shelter them for several years before they could make much contribution to the family’s existence and survival...2. Unlike the Greeks and Romans, the ANE was not very ‘into’ using slaves/captives for sexual purposes, even though scholars earlier taught this: “During the pinnacle of Sumerian culture, female slaves outnumbered male. Their owners used them primarily for spinning and weaving. Saggs maintains that their owners also used them for sex, but there is little actual evidence to support such a claim” [OT:EML:69] 3. And the Hebrews were different in this regard ANYWAY: “This fidelity and exclusivity [demands on the wife] did not apply to the husband. Except among the Hebrews, where a husband’s infidelity was disparaged in the centuries after 800 BC, a double standard prevailed, and husbands were routinely expected to have sex not only with their wives, but with slavewomen and prostitutes.” [WS:AHTO:39; note: I would disagree with the remark about ‘after 800 bc’ because that dating presupposes a very late date for the composition of the narratives under discussion…If the narrative events occurred closer to the purposed times, then this ‘disparagement’ applied earlier in Israel as well as later.] 4. Even if we allow the age range to be older, to include girls capable of bearing children, the probability is that it was not sex-motivated, but population/economics-motivated, as Carol Meyers points out [“The Roots of Restriction: Women in Early Israel”, Biblical Archaeologist, vol 41): “Beyond this, however, the intensified need for female participation in working out the Mosaic revolution in the early Israelite period can be seen in the Bible. Looking again at Numbers 31, an exception to the total purge of the Midianite population is to be noted. In addition to the metal objects which were exempt from utter destruction, so too were the “young girls who have not known man by lying with him” (Num 31:18). These captives, however, were not immediately brought into the Israelite camp. Instead, they and their captors were kept outside the camp for seven days in a kind of quarantine period. (Note that the usual incubation period for the kinds of infectious diseases which could conceivably have existed in this situation is two or three to six days [Eickhoff 1977].) Afterward, they thoroughly washed themselves and all their clothing before they entered the camp. This incident is hardly an expression of lascivious male behavior; rather, it reflects the desperate need for women of childbearing age, a need so extreme that the utter destruction of the Midianite foes—and the prevention of death by plague—as required by the law of the herem could be waived in the interest of sparing the young women. The Israelites weighed the life-death balance, and the need for females of childbearing age took precedence.”...[I should also point out that the “for yourselves” phrase (31.18) is NOT actually referring to “for your pleasure”, but is a reference to the opposite condition of “for YHWH” which applied to all people or property which was theoretically supposed to be destroyed in such combat situations. The herem (or ‘ban’) specifically indicated that all enemy people or property which was ‘delivered over to YHWH’ was to be killed/destroyed. By referring to ‘for yourselves’, then, in this passage, means simply ‘do not kill them’. This can also be seen in that this ‘booty’ was not ‘for themselves’ actually, but was distributed to others within the community] Oh well. Maybe you can find something else to be outraged and use the word "**ck" about.

  43.   II Samuel 12:15-20 tells the story of God killing an infant because it was the product of its parents' adultery.   If you were God, would you do such a thing?   Please (a) explain to me the justification for this infanticide and (b) tell me what this incident reveals about the true character of Biblegod. That He was dealing with a collectivist, not an individualist, society. David was king, and set an example for his nation. A visible judgment was required to set against any idea that others could blithely follow in David's steps in sinning. We can hear the rising whine at once: "Who cares? Is God an egotist?" No, God is holy, and God is concerned that the greatest number of people will come to Him for their eternal salvation. Those who tend to think only of the moment have no conception of the out working ripple effect of individual actions (or inaction). If having no effect at all meant that thousands who otherwise would have come to God and found eternal life instead went to eternal condemnation, is that worth the physical (not eternal) life of one person? For Christians this is a no-brainer: The death of one man paid for the salvation of billions. Visible judgment upon a very public offense as the means to accomplish the same, though to a lesser extent.

And please give me a list of all sins which justify the killing of a newborn baby (including someone else's sin of adultery, which we already know about). Why? Did you want to kill one and make sure you had it right?

  44.   II Samuel 24:1 says that the Lord incited David to take a census of Israel; I Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan incited David to take a census of Israel.   Which do you believe? That you have flubbed again. From our sister site: 1. God bestows evil consequences upon evil actions ("you reap what you sow"). In any given case, He has many different possibilities of evil consequences to choose from. He chooses what kind of evil to bestow, and when to bestow it, according to His wisdom and plan. He orchestrates His actions to keep all of His commitments. For example, when He visits judgement upon Jerusalem, He manages it such that the righteous are preserved. Example: I Kings 22 (pp. 2 Chronicles 18): God decides to kill the evil king Ahab, and asks the heavenly hosts as to how to entice Ahab to enter into a battle in which he will die. A spirit volunteers to be a 'lying spirit' in the mouth of Ahab's false prophets. God says 'do it'. God is not guilty of lying, but merely gives Ahab the fruit of his own evil ways (Jer 24.7). Example: I Sam 16: After repeated failures to submit to God's leadership, Saul is rejected as king. He remains on the throne however, and continues his non-committed lifestyle and reign (even indulging in sorcery and seances). God punishes him by sending an 'unclean spirit' to trouble him. (If he had simply turned back to the Lord, he could have at least had peace of mind.) 2. Satan is always accusing Israel (see Zechariah 3.1-2 in OT) and believers (see Rev 12.10 and I John 2.1 with Jesus as our defense lawyer in NT), and seeks to get God to punish His people. In the 2 Samuel passage, it says that God was angry with Israel (presumably because of the recent revolt under Sheba in I Chrn 20 and other acts by Amnon and Absalom). This would have been a prime opportunity for the Accuser to "incite" (NIV) God to act against Israel through the person of their King. The standard way Satan does this is to appeal to God's justice. He points out man's sin, and then that God's holiness cannot allow it to go unpunished. With His honor at stake, God responds with judgement (but He does not "willingly afflict the children of men" (Lam 3.33). The Cross changed the dynamics of that argument, hence less 'early judgments' on the nations today. 3. One example of this interplay between God and Satan can be seen in Job, although the motivations are radically different. In Job 1.8-12, God brags about Job and Satan accuses Job of honoring God simply for materialistic gain. God allows Satan to attack Job and then in 2.3 God confronts Satan with Job's failure to sin even though "you incited me against him to ruin him." In other words, Satan was the "ruiner" but God was also a "ruiner". 4. This idea of God acting through agents (for reasons of judgment, of mercy, of testing, etc.) occurs frequently in scripture. Job is a good example of reasons of testing. Our passage is a good example of reasons of judgment (on Israel). And Joseph's selling into slavery is a good example of reasons of mercy. In the story in Gen 37 Joseph (of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame) is sold into slavery by his jealous, angry brothers. God grants him incredible success in Egypt, even rising to the number 2 position under Pharaoh. Listen to him in later passages recall his version of that history: * "do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you" (Gen 45.5) * "but God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth" (Gen 45.7) * "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God" (Gen 45.8) * "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good" (Gen 50:20) So in this case, there were evil human intentions, with God's overarching purpose for good. (In spite of the judgment and punishment that God meted out upon his people in our Census case, some good did occur--the site for the temple and the site of Calvary was chosen in an act of grace!)....6. The most probable sequence in our passages runs like this: * God is angry with Israel's sin (and David's handling of the royal family issues). * Satan sees his opportunity, accuses them of wrongdoing, and wins approval to inflict David's and Israel's wrongdoing back on themselves.* God, knowing that the punishment is well deserved, that the example of correction/contrition on David's part will be recorded in Scripture forever as an example, and that He will be gracious 'ahead of schedule' and reveal the site of his temple/crucifixion, agrees to turn David and Israel over to him, for this specific punishment (cf. I Cor 5.5). * Satan, with this permission from God, moves David to begin the Census.

And if your explanation is that it was a scrivener's error, explain to me why the Almighty Omnipotent Creator of the Universe is powerless to prevent copiers' errors.   Also, explain to me how a scrivener could be so inept that he accidentally wrote "Satan" instead of "God" (or vice versa). It's not my explanation, but there have been wackier scrivener's errors in the past. As for "powerless", wrong question: The right one is, "Why would God do such a foolish thing as prevent copyist errors?" Here's a hint: Relics.

  45.   In Genesis 1:26, when God said, "Let us make man in our image," whom was he talking to?   The animals?   The plants?   It couldn't have been a human, because humans didn't exist yet.   There's only one God, so he couldn't have been talking to some other god. We'd say the two other members of the Trinity. If you don't understand this doctrine, please read this and re-ask the question in light of it.

  46.   Genesis 10:5 says that at that time, different peoples had different languages; Genesis 11:1, just a few verses down, says that there was only one language in the world.   Which do you believe? I believe you miss the point that 10:5 is a parenthetical note, an expression of what would take place - not an event that was presently in effect.

  47.   According to your God, if a girl gets married and it turns out she wasn't a virgin, she deserves the death penalty (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) ... but the same rule doesn't apply to males.   Why does God discriminate against females? No, but men don't show evidence of lack of virginity; that's why laws were needed for females for this case. Men got it for crimes like adultery. But if you think that's unfair, then it must be unfair that 1) The 10 commandments SINGLE OUT the male (Ex 20.17b)...2) in cases of rape, the woman is given the benefit of the doubt (Lev 19.20ff; Deut 22.25-27)...3) and is protected from disastrous marriages from those (Ex 22.16)...4) in cases of adultery, BOTH parties were killed--a fact noted by authors as being a 'step forward' at that time (Lev 20.10-12)...5) the male is CONSISTENTLY singled out for admonition in this area (Lev 18; Deut 27; Jer 5.7; Ezek 18.6; 22.10ff)...6) even the case of female war captives was regulated for the male! (Deut 21.11)...7) in some cases women were "excused from guilt" because of the guilt of the men! (Hos 4.14ff)... But, "the most important thing to understand about ANE virginity (and marital fidelity, also) is its socio-economic function, in inheritance-based cultures" -- so read this and please try again.

Let's imagine that a man (not God) wrote the Bible   —   no divine inspiration or "supreme wisdom" whatsoever.   Let's say it was a man (or several men) who lived in a primitive pre-technological patriarchal society a few thousand years ago.   What kind of book would we expect? Not what we have now. A simple question deserves a simple answer...

  Let's see ... it would reflect the attitudes of that period in that women would be property, just like cattle ... Whew, glad the Bible doesn't do that... rape would be okay, at least in the context of "the spoils of war" ... whew, glad it doesn't do that either.... violence would be a casual thing, and the beating of children would be permissible ...Glad neither of thise are true... God would, of course, be a male ...This is a problem? If God were female, there'd be no complaint? the adultery laws/virginity requirements would apply only to women ... Whew, so far so good, still. there wouldn't be any scientific revelation in it at all, since it would merely be a product of its (primitive) time ...Or, be moore busy with stuff like, uh, getting their next meal on the table. old age would be revered, and there would be tall tales about people living to be hundreds of years old (all of them men, of course) ... So you're against revering the elderly and long life? Or is this a begged question? children would have no rights whatsoever Rights? Like what? Do you let your child use the Second Amendment?... there would be no tolerance of other cultures, and when another nation was conquered, its inhabitants would be slaughtered like animals (an exception, I suppose, to the "Thou shalt not kill" rule), No, because "thou shalt not kill" had to do with killing in the manner of a predatory animal...not righteous war...by the way, why don't you tolerate the Nazi culture? or their people could be taken as slaves.   Is this beginning to sound familiar? All the standard "arguments by outrage" from someone who doesn't know what life was like in the ancient world? Yes, I've seen it all before...

  48.   All throughout the Bible, it seems that God's solution to any problem involves death and blood. "All throughout"? Even in Ecclesiastes and Luke?   He can't even forgive sin unless there's blood dripping somewhere (Hebrews 9:22).   Wouldn't you expect the creator of the universe (the guy who invented positrons, quarks, and neutrinos, and put nipples on men) to have a little more imagination than this? What's the problem, exactly? Do you have haemophobia?

By the way, are YOU able to forgive sin without somebody (or some animal) bleeding?   Does this make you morally superior to Biblegod? Since I'm not clear on what the problem is here with "bleeding," I can't comment. Most people in history have found the idea of a noble, self-sacrificial death a positive thing. And on that note:

  49.   God couldn't forgive your sin without an innocent person (Jesus) suffering.   What does it say about the character of your God that he insists on torturing his own son to appease himself? God was a Roman soldier? This is new theology...but again, the idea of a noble, self-sacrifical death....well, you know.  What horrible thing would I have to do to you that you would demand the hideous torture-death of your own son ... that is, nothing else would satisfy you ... you'd insist on your own child being hung on a wooden cross by nails driven into his hands and feet?   And what would this say about you as a person?   And how would it constitute evidence that you were "too holy to allow sin into your presence?" I have a better question: How is posturing outrage and emotion an argument against any of this? The same verbiage could be used as an "argument" against capital punishment, but it isn't one: "What horrible thing would I have to do to you that you would demand the hideous torture-death of your own son ... that is, nothing else would satisfy you ... you'd insist on your own child being put into an electric chair by straps tied over his hands and feet, and by charring his flesh?   And what would this say about you as a person?   And how would it constitute evidence that you were "too innocent to permit criminals to live in your society?"

In fact, since Satan caused all the sin (by tempting us and lying to us), why didn't Biblegod crucify him? Satan did not "cause all sin" under any understanding, so the question is misdirected. That said:   While Jesus was suffering and bleeding, God allowed Satan to stand there on the sidelines, snickering and enjoying the spectacle. True, but if you check Revelation, Satan is in for not much of a good time later on...in fact, my system says that he's suffering right now...but that's another issue.

  50.   And tell me, what is noble and majestic about demanding the death of your own son for any reason?   Would this be characteristic of a god, or of a twisted, sadistic fiend? "Demanding"? Where is this, please? Jesus went to the cross willfully -- check the Gethsemane prayer. Otherwise, remember what I said about a noble, self-sacrificial death....

And don't tell me that "God demands a perfect sacrifice, because he is holy and perfect."   B**lshit.   He's God, the all-powerful all-knowing all-everything Supreme Being.   He makes ALL the rules.   That "perfect sacrifice" argument makes as much sense as saying, "God is perfect, so he demands 25 cents per sin."   God could have made a divine law that we have to eat a pretzel for every sin we commit, or that we have to paint our toenails green and do cartwheels to atone for our sins. It so happens this is not quite my soterological view, so I'll skip it and just refer here if you want to ask questions about it.

  51.   Do you use the King James Version of the Bible? "Use"? Yes. Consider special, no.   Are you aware that the 1611 edition (the original) contained more than 66 books (it had Tobit and Judith right in there with I John and II Corinthians)? Oh wow. And my NIV has maps, a concordance, and commentary by a guy named Chuck. And this proves, what, now?   Have you ever read any of the "missing" books? Yes.   Do you know why they aren't in your KJV? Yes.   Do you, in fact, know anything about the "extra books?" Yes. What do you want to know? Like, I have a whole bunch on that silly little Gospel of Thomas some people are so wheee wheeee happy over.

  52.   Nehemiah 7:66 says, "[T]he whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and three-score (42,360)."   But if you add the figures between Nehemiah 7:8 and Nehemiah 7:62, the total for all the tribes is 31,089, not 42,360 (an error of 11,271).   And Ezra and Nehemiah can't agree on what the total should be; the former supports 29,818 while the latter asserts 31,089.   How do you explain this?   Are God's ways so far beyond our own poor powers of understanding (Isaiah 55:9) that even his math is different?   Can Biblegod make two plus two equal five? Let me give you a clue...numbers are the most prominent victins of scrivener errors...and don't ask me again about God stopping these; I answered that already....and by the way, Nehemiah declares that he found this register, which means only that he is required to have inerrantly reported its contents -- not that the contents of what he found be inerrant.)

  53.   I just got through reading Matthew 25:41ff.   Do you think it's appropriate for a person to be punished with eternal torture because he fails to give food to a hungry person? Since I don't believe in eternal torture I pass. You can read what my view is here.

Please, God, don't let this guy make another bad argument.

  54.   The National Review Board gave a report of sex abuse committed by Catholic priests in the United States between 1950 and 2002.   Four percent, or one out of every 25 priests, had been formally accused of sexually abusing minors.   Which do you think is safer for your child: to be alone with a Christian priest, or to walk through a city park at 11:00 pm? First of all, stepping from "Catholic" to "Christian" broadens the category, since celibacy is considered one of the factors involved. Second, "formally accused" doesn't mean dip; I want to know how many were convicted...and if you wonder why I want to know, do a Google search for "Little Rascals Day Care". Third, what's not safe is not leaving a child with a priest, but not watching your children and who you leave them with. Last I checked, John Couey wasn't Catholic or a priest....but on the side, here are a few more stats about that report that Pendragon left out: 68 percent of the allegations were made against priests ordained between 1950 and 1979, while priests ordained after 1979 accounted for 10.7 percent of the allegations....most of the priests accused, 56 percent, had only one victim; a further 27 percent had two or three victims....149 priests accounted for almost 28 percent of the allegations... Most of the allegations involved touching over or under clothing...and most importantly, 3 percent of all priests against whom allegations were made were convicted and about 2 percent received prison sentences. And some comments on the report here are significant: This report and another are based almost entirely on unproven accusations...Of the 10,667 accusations against priests and deacons in the years 1950-2002, twenty-six percent were never investigated because the accused was dead or had left the priesthood....The John Jay Report refers to “substantiated” and “unsubstantiated” allegations. However, there seems to have been no clear criterion used by dioceses in making this distinction. It seems that if a diocese determined that an accusation might be true, it was classified as a substantiated allegation. As the report from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles summarizes: "We must all resist the temptation to assume that because an allegation has been made, it is therefore true. We have experienced an unprecedented flood of allegations from the distant past. While many of the claims are undoubtedly and tragically true, supported by consistent reports and sometimes even by the conviction of the perpetrator, there are also those that are demonstrably false... Some claims are against priests who could not have been there in the place or at the time of the alleged crime... There are also examples of apparently mistaken identity. The vast majority of the claims against priests fall elsewhere, impossible to responsibly verify or to disprove. The victim claims it occurred; the priest denies it or is deceased; and therefore there are no witnesses.” ...[O]f the 10,667 accusations made in this 53 year period, forty-four percent (4,533) of the accusations were made in 2002-2003! Why this astounding spike in accusations? Is it due to victims now feeling able to come forward? Could it not be that many of the claims are due to the effects of a national hysteria? Could it not be that some claims were stimulated by possible financial gain? Could it not be that many of the memories are planted by unqualified therapists? Most of the claims accuse priests or deacons of abuse from decades ago. Indeed, most of the accusations allege abuse in the 1970's, about thirty years before the accusations were made.... Better do some more homework, guys....

  55.   Are you aware that your God has threatened (four different times, in four different books of the Bible!) to make people cannibalize their own children as a form of punishment? No. I am aware that God has predicted four different times, in four different books of the Bible, that this is what will happen...because cannibalism was a typical result of the ancient mode of siege warfare.

(1) Leviticus 26:29;
(2) Deuteronomy 28:53;
(3) Jeremiah 19:9;
(4) Ezekiel 5:10.

Seen 'em. These verses do not say, "You will eat your sons and daughters. Here are some recipes." They do predict what will happen as a judgment upon sin after an extended period of warnings and lesser judgments (so there can be no excuse of blaming God for these actions). If you still want to complain you might want to put yourself in the place of the average ANE inhabitant who had to scrape to survive -- or if you have trouble with that, in the place of those who survived a plane crash in the Andes many years ago, only because they ate human remains. Where in the hierarchy of morals does this grand taboo belong -- above or below the preservation of life? II Kings 6:28-29 even tells a story in which someone actually did it (ate her own child)!   Yep. Hard life in a besieged city, especially without air conditioning, no? Would you teach these verses to your children during a home Bible study?   Are there other disgusting passages in the Bible (II Kings 9:10, II Kings 18:27) that you believe children should be protected from? Yes, along with the evening news, movies showing medical procedures in great detail, etc. Those are "disgusting" too, right, because...why now?   What would you think of me if I read these disgusting passages to your child? I'd think you were making yourself look foolish trying to prove a point, because...   Should this filthy book perhaps be removed from the libraries of elementary schools? Deal. As long as Eldridge Cleaver goes first....but who told you that these passages were meant to be read to children? So do you keep them from watching Sesame Street because NYPD Blue is on the same TV set?   What sins or crimes do you believe would justify a sentence of "you must eat your own children?" None, but thankfully, the above verses are predictions as opposed to sentences...

And by the way ... doesn't this punish the (innocent) children also?   Where is the justice in making them die (and be eaten!) because somebody else has sinned? No, no punishment, as noted -- prediction. Really need to get off this emotional high horse, bud. To wit:

In fact, the story of Job illustrates very clearly God's disgusting attitude toward children.   Job has children; God allows Satan to kill them (as a way of testing Job's faith). Towards children? How so? These "children" were old enough to have parties where they sinned. You may as well say that Job was a child too, just because he had a father or mother.   At the end of the story (Job 42:13), God "restores" Job's children ... by letting him father some new ones.   Got that?   God allows Satan to take Job's property ... his sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and his children.   Then God restores Job's property ... sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and his children.Yes, and -- your problem with this is, what? God grants you all your property and propserity in the first place.

This is great for Job, but what about the human children that God originally allowed to be killed along with the livestock? What about them? Should God just have kept them alive until today, or what? And I take it you'll be demonstrating outside Mickey D's later regarding all those dead livestock....

  56.   Do you believe the creation account in Genesis? Yes.   Which one?   Genesis 1:1ff or Genesis 2:4ff?   Sometime, just for fun, try to reconcile these two different accounts of the same incident. Been there. Done that. Here you go.

  57.   In Exodus 7:13, we read that God wanted Pharaoh to do something, but that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he wouldn't listen to God.   What does this tell you about the character of your God? That he hardens people who ask for it. As our sister site says: In pharaoh's case, it is clear from the first 4-5 self-hardenings, that what Pharaoh wanted was 'a hard heart' toward the claims of the God of the Universe (remember, the Pharaoh was God himself in Egyptian religion of those days). In this case, God granted this in spades--but USED THAT to get the message of God out to masses and masses of people. It is in this vein that I am working on the relationship of man's responsibility toward God and God's sovereignty. Check the text; Pharaoh was the first heart-hardener here. More here.

Is it any wonder that the colloquial term "playing God" refers to something one shouldn't do? I think we need a term, "playing exegete" to make things more specific...

  58.   Jesus said that "Whoever is not with me is against me" (Luke 11.23); he also said "Whoever is not against us is for us" (Matthew 9:40).   Which statement do you believe? You see a difference in the "default" position: for or against? There is no default. Where is the middle ground with Jesus? The New Testament, including the Gospels, present Jesus as the focal point of life; the Gospels have Jesus offering himself as Wisdom, commended to all men. Is there a middle ground for ultimate wisdom and truth? No, there isn't. Indeed, as Pilch and Malina note in Handbook of Biblical Social Values, in the ancient world all things were viewed in dualistic terms and there was no possible middle ground. The sayings differ in form and verbiage, but not in essence -- the message is the same, and the differences are attributable to natural variations in oral tradition (as indeed Mark and Luke, though they agree in "default", vary in verbiage).

  59.   Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham's daughter all believe (and have stated publicly) that the attack on the Twin Towers (September 11, 2001) happened because (1) America had become sinful, and was permitting abortion, witchcraft, and lesbianism; (2) God got mad at America; and (3) God "removed his protection" from us.   Do you believe this? I see no reason to. Since the rest of the question assumes a yes, I'll skip it. 

John 3:16 Cartoon

  60.   Do you believe that Jack T. Chick is a Christian? If he is, he isn't a very smart one.   HE thinks he's a Christian ... and probably thinks you're NOT. Very likely.   Would you like to spend eternity with him in heaven? In his personal company, no -- I expect he'll be scrubbing the toilets in the Holy City Bathrooms. Right next to Bob Jones and Jimmy Swaggart....

  61.   I read in I Corinthians 5:11 that a Christian should not associate with another Christian who is greedy or who is a "slanderer."   It is ordered, by your God, that you shouldn't even eat with such a person.   Have you ever obeyed this commandment? Never had a need to, actually.   Have you ever left the dinner table because a greedy Christian sat down to eat with you? I'd prefer to make sure I know who I sat down with first.   Have you ever seen, or even heard of, anyone who actually obeyed this commandment? No, but then again, most people know in advance who they are sitting down with. I do know of cases where a Matthew 18 process was done and a person was socially shunned after the same fashion.

  62.   God has ordered repeatedly (in the NEW Testament) that wives should submit themselves to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22; I Peter 3:1; Colossians 3:18). What, this old canard? I'll answer this one to start, from our sister site: First, it obviously applies ONLY to married women--not widows, not the unmarried, not divorcees, not celibate. And correspondingly, any authority it imputes to males is ONLY TO MARRIED MEN. We have no reason to believe that marriage (and the survival of the spouse!) were qualifications of teaching positions (!!!!). We DO have POSITIVE evidence that it was NOT required--Paul, Timothy, Lydia, etc. Second, the word for 'submission' in those passages is VERY different that the words used for slaves and children. They are told specifically to 'obey'--the wife is told to 'be submissive to'. This is a subtle but real difference. For example, when Paul says in Ephesians 5.22 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" and then RE-STATES it in 5.33 as "the wife must respect her husband.", the meaning seems clear--the issue is respect and civility. [You must remember that the liberating effect of the Christian freedom in Christ--Gal 3.28--occasionally created 'hyper-liberated' women who showed public contempt and mistreatment of their husbands.] Third, the Ephesians and Col. Passages are in the literary form of a "household code", but with a twist (so BBC:in loc): "Paul borrows this form of discussion straight from Greco-Roman moral writing. But unlike most ancient writers, Paul undermines the basic premise of these codes: the absolute authority of the male head of the house." And, at the summary verse .33, BBC adds "Although ancient moralists expected wives to respect their husbands (and Jewish teachers also expected the reverse), moralists usually also emphasized the wife's 'obedience'; Paul's exhortation to wives here would thus strike most ancient readers as quite weak." Fourth, the "household code" is turned on its head by the intro in verse 21: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." BBC notes: "But although it was customary to call on wives, children and slaves to submit in various ways, to call all members of a group (including the paterfamilias, the male head of the household) to submit to one another was unheard-of." Verse 2--the call to MUTUAL submission--(the verb is 'shared' between 21 and 22, so there is no difference in quality) radically changes the nature of the household code. Fifth, the submission of wives to husbands was not on the basis of some gender-based authority; rather, it was a covenant-based relationship. So Wood, in EBC: "'As to the Lord' differs slightly from 'as is fitting in the Lord' in Colossians 3.18. In obeying her husband, the Christian wife is obeying the Lord who has sanctioned the marriage contract...The subjection, moreover, is voluntary, not forced. The Christian wife who promises to obey does so because her vow is 'as to the Lord'." Most marriage contracts had 'obedience' or 'submission' clauses in them, so in the context of a Christian marriage it was contract-based authority (i.e. the Lord) rather than gender-based authority that mattered. Sixth, the general tone of 'submission' verses for women is geared toward practical matters (and not more fundamental theological-authority issues). So, Titus 2.5: to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. and I Peter 3.1: Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,. In such a way, they appeal to more culturally-oriented values of the non-Christians around the church. So, just as Paul would suppress personal 'rights' out of desire to further the work of Christ (e.g. I Cor 9.1ff; I Cor 9.22f), so took we should 'subject ourselves' to each other, to move the Kingdom farther. You must remember that submission and servanthood go hand-in-hand. Christ said that He came "not to be served, but to serve." His submission to the needs of others was CERTAINLY not based on some 'superiority' or 'authority' they had over Him(!), but a submission based on love and other-centered behavior. The NT is replete with such passages that enjoin us to such mutual submission (e.g. Rom 12.10b; I Peter 5.5b; Phil 2.3; Gal 5.13). Seventh, there are a couple of passages in which wives are either charged with authority over themselves, or men are explicitly stated as being in some form of subjection to wives. So, in I Cor 11.10, the Greek says "the woman ought to have authority over her own head." (The English versions add 'a sign of' to this, without the slightest evidence!) and in I Cor 7.4f: The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time,. This is rather clear--the wife has 'authority' over the husband's body--mutually. Eighth, in I Cor 6.3, Paul states that the "saints" will judge the world AND the angels! He makes no distinction between male and female in a FUTURE situation of overt authority. (NB: the word sometimes rendered 'men of little account' in verse. 4 is simply a participle--not a clause with the word 'men' in it. As a participle it has to have linguistic "gender", and is "masculine" in accordance with standard praxis of the day. If an author wanted to draw attention to men, he would not 'hide it' in a humble participial ending, but rather he would use the deliberate words for "men", "husband", etc.) Finally, 'submission within marriage' CANNOT be relevant to matters of church leadership, simply because (1) we KNOW of a husband-wife pair in which the woman was the dominant teacher (Priscilla); and (2) entire congregations were told to 'submit' to women leaders in I Cor 16.16: "submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work (synergounti), and labors (kopionti) at it." We have already seen that Paul refers to numerous women by these titles. In this latter case we have men OBVIOUSLY 'submitting' to women (not necessarily their wives). So whatever "submission" means (and it DOES imply obedience-under-God in certain passages--Rom 13. 5), it is mutual enough to apply in several different directions. It must also be noted that Paul was very familiar with OT history, and accordingly he would have known that many of the main women leaders there were married (e.g. Deborah the Judge, Huldah the prophetess).   These commandments are much, much clearer than anything the Bible may say about abortion Are they? But you missed all of the above... (and I contend that the Bible says nothing about abortion).   Going strictly by the Bible, it is obvious that a wife disobeying a direct order from her husband is a much more serious sin than aborting a fetus. Well, since it's not about obeying orders or not, there's really no need to comment, and I skip the rest of the questions that assume this view.  

  63.   In March 2004, Mel Gibson released a movie about Jesus.   All of the actors in the movie speak their lines in either (1) Aramaic or (2) Latin.   Neither of these two languages is actually spoken (as the lingua franca) in any country anywhere on earth.   Do you think Mel Gibson was stupid for shooting a movie about Jesus in two languages that nobody on earth actually uses in ordinary speech? If he was, then we're also stupid for importing foreign films with languages no one speaks here in America. Why a prejudice against languages no one uses? -- Though by the way, Aramaic is indeed still spoken as the natural language of about half a million people.   Do you realize that, for the first time in history, a movie has been made that MUST include subtitles absolutely everywhere it is shown, anywhere on earth?... Really? That will make it hard to afford better special effects in the next Star Wars movie.   Do you believe that Mel Gibson was on some kind of ego trip, just "showing off," wanting to make a movie that was painfully "authentic" without regard for any practical considerations? Do you really care? If so, why? I don't. I think he wanted authenticity to establish a certain atmosphere...which is what movie producers often do when they try to make sure things like costumes are authentic. Maybe Spielberg is on an ego trip with all those special effects too...or maybe this is just an irrational carp against Gibson. Ya think?

[Dateline March 3, 2004]   The number "666" is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers. The machine that prints tickets assigned the number 666 as a prefix on all the tickets for the film. The 666 begins a series of numbers that are listed below the name of the movie, the date, the time, and the price..... That's nice. As a preterist I think Mr. 666, Emperor Nero, is long gone. By the way, "Papa Smurf" also adds up to 666.

  64.   I John 5:16-17 talks about a "sin unto death" that one should not pray about.   What sin is that? Why? Were you planning on doing it?   And please back up your answer with Scripture. The consensus is that no particular sin is in mind here...that John merely means any serious level of sin.

  65.   Which of the big-time evangelists do you trust, and which do you think are phonies?   Robert Tilton?   Billy Graham?   Peter Popoff?   Benny Hinn?   Marilyn Hickey?   John Agee?   John Ankerberg?   Kathryn Kuhlmann? (oh wait ... she's dead) Graham and Ankerberg are the only ones named here that I give any regard to, though technically, Ankerberg is not an evangelist. The rest named ought to go out and scrub toliets. Though by the way, it's "Hagee" not "Agee".

  66.   In the gospel according to Matthew, which was written around 65 CE, I'd say 50 or 55, but go ahead. we are promised that the second coming of Jesus will be very soon (Matthew 24:34;); in fact, Christians in the First Century C.E. thought he would return during their own lifetimes (II Thessalonians 2:1-2).   Well, about 19 centuries have come and gone ... do you still believe that Jesus is actually going to return? No, I believe he did what he promised, right there in the first century...surprised? You'll have to read this whole series, but let me sum it up for you: I am a preterist. Preterism is a belief that some substantial portion of Biblical prophecy now taken to refer to the "End Times" actually was fulfilled by 70 AD, coincident with the destruction of Jerusalem. It means, the popular understanding of a Rapture, a 7 year Tribulation, and an Antichrist figure are not in our future of necessity. If they are, it will be as a "double fulfillment" but is not necessary to fulfill Biblical prophecy. The chief preterist view holds that all that surely remains in our future is final resurrection and judgment. The rest of this assumes a future fulfillemtn, so we skip it, though by the way, I think the "man of sin" was probably Nero....and I don't leave any Rapture letters because I don't but that one either...what so-called "Rapture" verses describe is usually the final resurrection... 

  67.   Are you aware that there are many pre-Christian myths about a god-man who comes to earth, is born of a virgin, sacrifices himself, and is resurrected? I am aware that I have kicked that particular site to the curb.   That some of those pre-Christian myths include stories about the miraculous feeding of multitudes, the healing of sick people, and walking on water? Huh? No, sorry -- those either are post-Christian, or reflect a common basis of need.   Do you have an explanation for how these stories, which existed before Jesus was ever born, could be so similar to the Gospel accounts? Do you have an answer to my entire series here showing that all these stories either were really post-Christian, or are false, or irrelevant? Let me know when you have one...

  68.   Do you believe that a person who is 99.999% morally perfect, and commits only a few minor sins in his lifetime (no murder, rape, theft, adultery, or violence) deserves to suffer in hell for all eternity, just because he fails to "accept Jesus" (a term that's interpreted 8,000 ways by 6,000 different Christian groups)? Excuse me. Though there may be 6K groups, there are not 8K ways of interpreting Jesus...the actual number that are relevant to this issue (Christology and soteriology) is less than half a dozen....other than that, if you actually know of someone that perfect who is of age, please give me their number....  If it were up to you   —   if you had the power to make the decision   —   would YOU sentence Mr. 99.999% to an afterlife of perpetual suffering? No, and God won't either. Such a person would rather have shame in accordance with their (chuckle) .0001% sinning. The rest assumes a "yes" so we'll skip it...

Tekton Toons
Much Funnier Than the F Word

(an on-site link)

  69.   Which do you believe is more psychologically harmful to a child: being sexually fondled by an adult, or being threatened with eternal, unending torture in a burning, fiery hell? It depends on the child, but thankfully, the latter is not even an option.

  70.   Do you believe that witches are Satan-worshippers? No. I believe they worship Egg McMuffins. The rest assumes "yes" so I pass. 

  71.   In I Samuel 16:14, we read that "an evil spirit from the Lord" troubled King Saul.   Why do you worship a God who sends evil spirits to trouble people? Because he does it to people who deserve it. Have you read lately what a rotten tomato Saul was?   How would you like it if he sent one of his evil spirits to trouble YOU? If I earned it, so be it. How would you like it if I asked posturing rhetorical questions absent of rational analysis?

  72.   If your own child disobeyed you, would you lock him in an oven, set the temperature to 550, and turn it on?   Is it possible that you have better moral sense than the God of the Bible? How's that link up? I don't see God putting anyone in an oven.

  73.   Do you believe that some of the commandments in the Old Testament don't apply to Christians? What, ANOTHER #2 question? I answered all of this above, including how we decide which ones are valid today. Okey dokey? Pass on the rest then.

  74.   Around the time Jesus was born, Herod ordered the murder of innocent children (Matthew 2:16); in the time of Moses, God killed the firsborn of every household (Exodus 11:4-5)   —   innocent children.   How is God morally different from King Herod? Um, last I checked, God wasn't holding Herod's people in abject slavery and hadn't had thousands of his children killed by Herod, either. Want to try again, with that in mind?

  75.   In I Corinthians 15:29, we read about being baptized for the dead.   What does this mean, please? I got a whole chapter in a book I wrote about it; here's the two best explanations: 1) The "rite of passage" explanation. Citing anthropological and archaeological data, Richard DeMaris has proposed that the Corinthian overconfidence in baptism (10:1-13) combined with "an intense concern for the dead to create a distinctively Corinthian practice. . ." [Dem.CR] The Corinthians, like other people ancient and modern, had concern for those who had died, but in Corinth there appears to have been "a religious outlook [that] focused intensely on the dead and the world of the dead." DeMaris observes that "(t)he cultic focal point of Isthmia, the religious center of the Corinthia, was the temple of Poseidon, yet the Panhellenic games celebrated there were dedicated to the dead hero Palaimon or Milikertes and were funerary in nature." The evidence is uncertain as to when this focus began, but it "did not become prominent until the Roman period." There was also "a growing emphasis on the underworld in [the area of Corinth]. . .Persephone or Kore, the queen of the dead, had her own temple in the sacred glen. Moreover, [an] inscription mentions a religious site dedicated to Hades, a Plutoneion, there. . .Worship of Hades was virtually nonexistent in ancient Greece, for sacred sites dedicated to him are very rare." DeMaris also notes the prominence of snake imagery, associated with death. DeMaris concludes that the Corinthian "fascination" with death formed the basis for a unique synthesis in which baptism for the dead was instituted as a rite of passage for members of the church who had died. The ceremony was a "second" baptism, but not an effective baptism: Recognizing baptism as a rite that symbolized the transition between death and the spiritual resurrection life, the Corinthians instituted baptism for the dead as a formal procedure that eased the deceased's transition to the afterlife. The ritual also allowed the Corinthian Christians "to enact, and thus to be assured of, the departed one's transition to the next world."# Baptism for the dead, as DeMaris understands it, was analogous to the modern practice of a wake. It was merely ceremonial, and a matter of individual conscience as far as Paul was concerned: he disapproved of the practice personally (as the structure of the passage indicates), but he allowed others to make their own decisions about it. And of course, the ceremony was also useful to Paul as a way of pointing out the Corinthians' inconsistency on the subject of resurrection. 2) The "apostolic dead" explanation. Joel White suggests that Paul does not refer to vicarious baptism, or to any sort of specialized rite, but to another practice that he mentioned earlier in 1 Corinthians. [Whit.1529] White builds his intriguing case upon three assertions. First, v. 29 is part of the larger line of thought in verses 12-32. Commentators versed in ancient rhetoric have observed that the majority interpretation makes v. 29 a diversion, and a weak link in the overall argument, for it represents an unusual change in subject. Of course, it is possible that Paul made such a diversion, but White argues that if a better way can be found to link the verse to the rest of the passage, it ought to be regarded as a likelier interpretation. Second, the "dead" in v. 29a refers, metaphorically, to the apostles. To understand this point we must consider other passages in the Corinthian correspondence. Paul regularly refers to himself and his fellow apostles as, we might say, "the walking dead." In verses 30-31, Paul refers to himself as "dying daily" and uses a plural in conjunction with a personal pronoun to refer to himself. This "serves to focus attention not on Paul per se but rather on his apostolic ministry; what he here asserts, in other words, is true of himself as an apostle." He wants the Corinthians to "understand him, in his role as an apostle, as being one of 'the dead' in v. 29." (White adds that the agreement is "semantic, not lexical" because a different word [nekron, v. 29, versus apothnesko, v. 31] is used in each of the two verses. However, "that is to be expected since lexical agreement is not possible given the fact that the cognate verb of [nekron] is the transitive," which would read, "to put to death." This reading would require "a reflexive construction meaning 'I put myself to death,' " which would imply that Paul "caused, chose, or even wished for his sufferings.") Consider these examples: For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9) I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. (1 Corinthians 15:31) Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) In this verse Paul uses the technical term thriambeuein, which alludes to the Roman triumphal procession. Prisoners under sentence of death were placed at the end of these processions. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:10-11) As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed. . . (2 Corinthians 6:9) White argues that 1 Corinthians 15:29 fits into this pattern that figuratively portrays the suffering and inevitable death of Paul and his fellow apostles. But to complete the picture, we must add one final stroke. Third, the metaphorically dead are to be distinguished from the literally dead. The Greek word oloxs is rendered in the King James Version as the "at all" modifying "rise" at the end of Paul's first question. Most Bible translations agree with the KJV in this arrangement. But in the Greek, oloxs is placed before the word "dead." The adverbial oloxs is found three times in 1 Corinthians used in the same way (5:1, 6:7, and 15:29). White observes that "(i)n all three instances, the connotation 'actually' or 'truly' seems likely. In 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul is incredulous that 'sexual immorality is actually reported among you'. . .In 1 Corinthians 6:7, the context suggests that Paul uses [oloxs] to denote by means of contrast (in a manner similar to 1 Corinthians 15:29) what he views as a true defeat. . .namely, the very fact that the Corinthians are suing each other in courts of law, as opposed to that which the Corinthians construe as defeat, namely, that they are being wronged and defrauded. . ." White argues that the verse should therefore be understood not as saying, "if the dead are not raised at all, why. . ." but rather, "if the truly dead are not raised, why. . ." This is done, White suggests, to draw a distinction between those "truly dead" and the "figurative dead" in the first part of the verse. Paul is asking, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the sake of we apostles, if the truly dead do not rise? why are they then baptized for our sake?" (It may be noted that White is not the first to stress the position of oloxs: See also J. C. O'Neill, "1 Corinthians 15.29," Expository Times (1980) 310-11, and Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, " 'Baptized for the Dead' (I Cor., XV, 29): A Corinthian Slogan?" Revue Biblique 88 (1981): 532-43. O'Neill hypothesized that the verse referred to the baptism of deathbed converts or dying infants, while Murphy-O'Connor considered the verse representative of "slogans" used by the Corinthians to represent their beliefs. White's thesis satisfies the criticism of Fee [Fee.1Cor, 763n] that O'Neill and Murphy-O'Connor place "too much confidence in too little evidence when it comes to word order" and Fee's counter that oloxs is placed where it is for emphasis. That is precisely White's point.) White now places 15:29 in the broader context of 1 Corinthians. The verse hearkens back to what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:13-17: Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. This is how White believes the Corinthians were being baptized "on account of the dead." The link is to the matter of the Corinthians proclaiming allegiances according to the apostles ("the dead") who baptized them. In making his argument, Paul has refuted the false "no resurrection" teaching by showing that his testimony, and his willingness to suffer and die for it, confirms the reality of the resurrection of Jesus and its power in the lives and ministries of himself and the other apostles. That the Corinthians are drawing lines amongst themselves based upon their loyalty to the "dead" apostles indicates that they recognize that power also. Why, then, are they denying that power by teaching that there is no resurrection, and that by extension, Christ was not resurrected? So whatddya think?

  76.   Matthew 7:1 orders Christians not to pass judgment.   I Corinthians 2:15 says that a spiritual man passes judgment on everything.   Which is it?   A Christian being judgmental   —   is that good or bad? This old snorer? Let's go to Matthew 7:2-5: For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. A couple of things to notice here: The further exposition clearly indicates that what is condemned here is not judging per se, but judging hypocritically. It also clearly indicates that once you take the "plank" out of your own eye, you will see clearly (the Greek here is diablepo, meaning according to Strong's, to look through, i.e. recover full vision) to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Thus one is quite free to judge - if one is not a hypocrite! Now of course, there is a lot more that could be said about how one should go about the process of "judging", and we can discuss in this particular case the relevance to the sins of a national leader, and so on. But the bottom line is that this verse is not an outright forbidding of judging at all. In fact, it's right in line with John 7:24, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."

  77.   In 1994, Christian singer Michael English, then 32, won six "Dove Awards" for his music.   He later gave them back, saying it was because of "mistakes" he had made.   In fact, he had been carrying on an adulterous relationship with one Marabeth Jordan, another "Gospel singer" who was also married (they hooked up while they were on a tour together, raising money for a home for unwed mothers. It was during this tour that Mr. English impregnated Ms. Jordan).   Question: Do you have any Michael English recordings in your possession? No.   If one of his songs were playing on the radio (how about "Mary Did You Know?"), would you turn it off? Yes, though I think the Christian station in my area won't play his music, for that very reason.   Would you allow your children to listen to his music? No.

  78.   Jesus said that a sparrow can't fall to the ground unless it's God's will (Matthew 10:29).   How do you explain catastrophes such as the destruction of the Twin Towers, or the 2004 earthquake in Bam, Iran, which caused the deaths of 31,000 people?   Obviously, these things happened because God wanted them to happen.   How do you think God decides where these horrible events will occur?   What did these 31,000 Iranians, some of them infants less than a week old, do to deserve a violent death? If you're in the mood to think you can deal with the "problem of evil" in such short notice, I'll just throw a link back at you. Fair is fair.

  79.   If a person is "saved," can he later become "unsaved," that is, lose his salvation? Only via apostasy.

Romans 11:29 indicates that a gift from God (which salvation is, per Ephesians 2:8) is irrevocable.True, but apostasy means you have thrown it back, not that it is revoked.   And Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for Christians. So it does. An apostate is not a Christian.

However, Hebrews 6:4-8 says that there can be a "falling away" that results in a loss of salvation   —   it's referred to as "being cursed" and "burned."

So which do you believe?   Is it possible, or impossible, to lose one's salvation? Possible to throw it away...and nothing at all says that that is impossible...

"I love you!" (John 3:16)
"Wow! That's great!"
"Nothing can separate you from my love!"
(Romans 8:38-39)
"Wow! That's great!"
"I want YOU to love ME!" (Deut. 6:5; Matthew 22:37)
"Sure, why not?"
"There is no fear in love." (I John 4:18)
"Well, of course not!"
"I want you to reverence and respect me."
(Deut. 6:13, Deut. 10:20, Ps. 34:9, Ps. 111:10, Prov. 9:10, Isa. 8:13, II Cor. 5:11)
"Whew! Glad I checked a lexicon before I mouthed off!"

  80.   Matthew 5:48 says that I should be perfect, just as God is perfect; Ephesians 5:1 says that I should imitate God.   How should I go about doing this?   Perhaps by killing an infant who is the product of adultery (II Samuel 12:15-16)?   Even if the child's father begs for mercy?   Perhaps I should stand by and do nothing while six million innocent Jews die in gas chambers?   Perhaps I should impregnate a virgin I've never been married to (Luke 1:31)?   Perhaps I should contact all the people I claim to love and threaten them with eternal fiery torture?   Maybe I should watch a tsunami start, out in the middle of the ocean, and sit and do nothing for two solid hours as it approaches land ... where 150,000 unsuspecting people are about to die ... and not warn anybody? Basically, the same "arguments" from prior and later questions, so we'll skip it. It's better to be rational than to bawl in outrage.

And speaking of impregnating a virgin I'm not married to ... that "affair" between Mary and God sounds like fornication to me, and according to the Deuteronomic laws, both Mary and God must be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). It does? So you think an act of divine creative fiat is the same as physically inserting a penis into a vagina? That's interesting news. Is this some sort of Wiccan nature-religion thing, or is is just taken uncritically from Strauss?

Which reminds me ... the Bible says that Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).   My question is: What if he had sinned ... gone into a whorehouse for ten minutes and gotten his cane varnished, for instance? What if beans were peas, you mean?   Since he's God (John 10:30; Colossians 2:9), isn't it true that anything he does is, by definition, NOT a sin? No, it's true that He will not sin period.   Like when Big God kills a bunch of innocent people?   That's not a sin, is it? Like who do you have in mind? The Amalekites?   So if Jesus/God stabbed a guy to death for no reason, it's not a sin, since he's God, and God has the right to take a person's life (the way he does thousands of times every day), right?   Isn't it theologically impossible for Jesus to sin? Yes. So there never would be "no reason" -- and your job, rather than outraged posturing, is to prove there was "no reason" for any instance...best wishes.

  81.   In John 14:12, Jesus says that his followers (Christians) will do greater works than he did   —   that is, greater things than (1) healing lepers, (2) walking on water, (3) feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and fishes, etc.   Suppose I tell you that Jesus lied.   Can you show me even one Christian, anywhere on earth, who is fulfilling this "doing greater works" prediction? A good number of Christians. The Greek word here (ergon) is not the usual one for miracles; in refers to toil and everyday sort of work - and without (obviously!) snubbing Jesus' earthly ministry, I think it is quite obvious that believers have done things to surpass that on earth -- such as building hospitals, feeding millions of poor people, etc.

And if you say "Benny Hinn," I'll ***ch-slap you. I'd rather you slap Hinn.

  82.   Are you aware that there are many Christian documents that were written during the First Century C.E. (such as the Gospel of Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, The Shepherd, the Didace) that aren't part of the Bible? Um, I'm aware that the first three are NOT from the first century (second and third at best) and I know of all of them, yes.   Are you aware that the decisions as to which writings would be included in the Christian Bible were made some 1600 years ago? Yes.   Tell me everything you know about (1) those book-choosing/book-rejecting people in the Fourth Century C.E. and (2) the decision-making processes that they used, and explain to me why you trust them so much (can you name even one of them?). You can read every detail about what I know here.   Aren't you terribly worried that some of what's in your Bible doesn't belong there, or that there's something left out that is very important? No. Feel free to read the above and say why I should be...   Aren't you taking a huge leap of faith ... not with regard to your God, but with regard to the folks who cobbled together the Bible? No. I've checked their work...it was sound.

  83.   Leviticus 18:22 says that homosexuality is an abomination (a really, really bad sin).   Question: If God decided tomorrow that heterosexuality is a sin, would you stop being a heterosexual?   Could you stop being a heterosexual just because God commanded you to stop? If beans were peas again? I pass on such pointless hypotheticals. This begs the question that the declaration is arbitrary and is a poor substitute for a reasoned defense of homosexual behavior as non-sinful.

  84.   Romans 1:20 says that God's invisible qualities can be figured out by looking at what he created.   What invisible qualities of your God have you divined from studying his creation (we're NOT talking about anything you read in the Bible)? Intelligence, fairness, offhand. This is not my purview.   And how did you arrive at your conclusions? The presence of intelligent design and the logic of a moral system.   What part of creation tells you that it makes sense that God would murder his only-begotten son because other people (not his son) disobeyed him? None, since it wasn't a murder but a noble self-sacrifice. Have you seen that yet?

  85.   Have you ever studied church history Yep.   —   the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the Crusades, the selling of indulgences, the Popes who fathered illegitimate children?   How do you feel about these things? I have links for the first and third at least. On those -- they're widely overexaggerated and misunderstood...and seen as more than the socio-political matters of protecting the greater good than they really were.   Do they make you ashamed to belong to such an ugly tradition? If I did belong to one that was ugly, it would. No one is perfect....but on the balance, as books like Stark's For the Glory of God have shown, there's more glory than ugly in church history...   Why isn't church history ever taught in church? Because church is about our religious faith, not about history. Would you want a Wiccan meeting to be all about the evil witches who tried to cast spells on people?

  86.   Romans 2:13 says that those who obey the law will be declared righteous.   Galatians 2:21 says that if righteousness could be gained through the law, then Christ died for nothing.   Which do you believe?   Did Christ die for nothing? Um, check Romans 3 -- the point of the whole thing is that no one does obey the law. 2:13 is just a step in the argument, making light of a necessary hypothetical.

  87.   Are you aware that the New Testament gives us no reason to think that the believers in the early church ever referred to themselves as Christians? That is was rare, if anything, yes.   The word "Christian" is used only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, I Peter 4:16), and the context strongly indicates that "Christian" was an insult. True for the first two, but the third is not so clear.   Why do you think people today who believe in Jesus call themselves Christians? They're used to it. Is this a problem?

  88.   In Proverbs 26:4, God orders you not to answer a fool according to his folly.   In the very next verse, Proverbs 26:5, God orders you to do the exact opposite   —   that is, he orders you to answer a fool according to his folly.   Let's say you have decided to live your life according to God's Holy Word, and you are confronted with a fool (and you've decided to answer him).   What do you do? Study ANE literature, of course. What we have here is not contradiction, but dilemma -- an indication that when it comes to answering fools, you can't win -- because they are fools, and there is no practical cure for foolery (as this citation demonstrates). So: It is unwise to argue with a fool at his own level and recognize his own foolish suppositions, but it is good sometimes to refute him soundly, lest his foolishness seem to be confirmed by your silence. Here's a clue: Proverbs are proverbs -- not absolutes.

  89.   The Bible that you carry and study and memorize consists of 66 "books."   Why aren't more Bible "books" being written today? Don't need 'em. But:   If I told you that a certain writing from, say, 1997, should be considered Scripture, on a par with Colossians and II Thessalonians, on what basis would you dispute me?   How do you know I'm wrong? Submit it to me for consideration. The canonical process had some quite clear guidelines....I doubt if anything you'd have to say would pass, since you weren't with Jesus or one of his apostles...

Come to think of it, how do you know it was right to include II John in the Bible?   How do you know it was right to exclude the Gospel of Peter? You can read my canon article I linked you to in order to find out. GPeter is way too late and not by Peter as claimed. 2 John was likely collated with 1 and 3 by John himself and deemed authoritative based on his authority as an apostle; or else others who knew he had written it deemed it such based on who he was.

  90.   Genesis 2:17 tells us that God ordered humans not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.   Why would God not trust humans with such knowledge, but rather give it to ... a piece of fruit? Huh? Where do you get that the fruit "knew" anything?   The Bible records that Eve ate the fruit because she wanted to gain wisdom (Genesis 3:6); God commands us to obtain wisdom (Proverbs 4:5).   Which do you believe ... that God wants us to gain wisdom, or doesn't want us to gain wisdom? Er, excuse me -- if I tell you, "Hit yourself with this brick and you'll gain wisdom" do you automatically believe me? Especially after a doctor has told you not to hit yourself with bricks?


  91.   Suppose a woman told you that her husband was gracious and loving because he promised not to kill her if she served him for the rest of her life.   You'd think she was a brainwashed slave, and that he was a sicko.   Yet your God offers YOU this exact same choice. He does? I'd like to know where...   The question is: Why do you believe that a choice between (a) loving your god and (b) eternal torture is a legitimate choice offered by a loving deity? I don't think (b) is even in play, so sorry...I pass.

  92.   A part of you might be hoping there's a passage in the Bible that says children don't go to hell.   Keep reading; you won't find it.   If Biblegod wanted you to know this, wouldn't he have mentioned it somewhere in the Bible? Your link is pretty out of touch. The text that does indicate this, in 1 Samuel, is dealt with in a fashion not much different from "argument by outrage". Napier -- who doesn't seem to have any actual credentials -- just says that the word used can mean "dying or departing" (so?) and that to "make it mean the child was taken to heaven is an extrapolation," but he never explains why, other than some vacuous appeal to a doctrine of election, which in turn is based on a set of assumptions about how "election" actually works (and I have more on that here). He never explains why David -- whom he does not dispute is heaven-bound -- is not here indicating his child too is in the abode of the righteous. (Maybe he'll have some excuse like, "David was told that his child was one of the elect.") His use of poetry (Ps. 51:5) for literalistic doctrine bespeaks his ignorance. Is this the kind of thing you regard as authoritative? The rest assumes the case proven, so we skip it.

  93.   Are you aware that your God has screwed up at least ten times (according to his own book ... the one he wrote) so badly that he repented?   See Genesis 6:7, Exodus 32.14, Judges 2:18, I Samuel 15:35, II Samuel 24:16, I Chronicles 21:15, Psalm 106:45, Jeremiah 26:19, Amos 7:3, Amos 7:6 (you'll want to use the KJV to see the word "repent" or a variation thereof).   Why does an omniscient God change his mind so much? This old canard too, huh? See here but to sum up, the word used for "repent" just means regret...and one can regret even a decision that one had to make....

And speaking of omniscience/omnipotence ... if (a) God wants everything to be righteous and perfect and (b) God is truly omnipotent yet (c) everything is not righteous and perfect, at this very moment, even as we speak ... then there must be some other thing that God wants even more than for everything to be righteous and perfect.   Any ideas on what that other thing might be? You want to sum up complex issues in a few sentences again? Fair enough, I'll just direct ya'll here again...no answers in a can, sorry...

And still speaking of omnipotence ... are you aware that the Bible itself records an incident when there was something that God COULD NOT DO?   See Judges 1:19 (Biblegod can't overcome iron chariots). You flubbed again. The "he" in question is Judah, not God, and "the Lord was with Judah" - i.e., Judah had good tidings - inasmuch as He gave them success in the mountains, but NOT enough to take on iron chariots! The Judges writer is assuring the reader that in spite of Judah's failure in the valley, the Lord was with them.

  94.   Do you believe that the Ten Commandments should be displayed in public schools? I wouldn't object.   If so, why? They're part of our cultural background. Just like the Magna Carta.   Why do you consider it to be important? Not as important as some things, no.   Do you understand why people see a conflict between the First Amendment and the practice of displaying the Ten Commandments in tax-supported buildings? Yes -- because they are ignorant of American history and are frightened of religion. It would shock them to know that Washington did not really use that "Christian nation" bit in the Treaty of Tripoli....   What if a second-grader read the Ten Commandments (on the monument in front of his school) and then asked his teacher to explain "adultery" to him? It wouldn't be too hard.   That's certainly a Biblical topic.   How would you want your daughter's first-grade teacher to explain the sin of ***ing somebody else's wife? Try this: "It means that you try to share your love, which specially belongs to the one you married, with someone else you are not married to." How's that? Or are you under the impression that sexuality can't be explained unless you use the F word?

Do you think there's a big problem in our grade schools these days with kids committing adultery and carving idols during school hours? No, there's a bigger one of kids not respecting agreements (like marriage) and watching idols (like Michael Jackson).

And by the way ... did you know that the Biblically-prescribed punishment for disobedience of each of the first seven commandments is death?   Would you support the death penalty for violation of these commandments? What, ANOTHER permutation of the #2 question? Forget that, bud. Once is enough...

Suppose there's a county in California where the majority religion is Islam.   Would there be anything wrong with them erecting a monument on the courthouse lawn that reads, "There is only one God, and Allah is his name, and Mohammed is his only prophet"? Not that I can see.

Of course, they'd set it up in some prominent place, where everybody would have to look at it. Really? You mean my face would irresistibly be forced to look at it? How would they do that?

  95.   Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).   He can appear as an "angel of light" (II Corinthians 11:14).   How can you be absolutely sure that the Bible isn't an elaborate deception created by Satan   —   containing just enough "good stuff" to make it palatable and credible? Should I be? Or can I posit the same thing about Wicca and make you upset? In any event, do explain to me why this hypothesis deserves any credence....   Do you believe in the Bible just because you were raised on it, just because "everybody always told me it's the real thing?" Neither. I came to it of my own accord.   How is this different from a little Muslim child who is 100% sure about the validity of his Koran just because he was raised on it? Obviously this assumes a yes. So does the little communist child 100% sure about the validity of Castro's teachings proof that communism is the right political system? A good point derived from this indeed is, don't believe in ignorance...but I don't.

  96.   Do you believe that "God Hates Fags?" No. I believe God hates figs. But really, the sins...not the sinners.

  97.   A real sacrifice is when you give up something you can't get back.   Jesus laid down his life for us, but he received it back again ... as he knew he would (see John 10:17).   So what's the big deal about Jesus' sacrifice?   The really scary thing about death is the permanence of it.   Wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that Jesus had a really bad weekend for our sins? Hmm, this canard too? Full answer here but here's a summation: 1) Sacrifice, in the OT background for the NT understandings of Christ’s death, focused more on the giving element than on the death element. 2) Sacrifice, in the OT, was essentially transfer of property from the offerer to God, with various methods of ‘delivery’. 3) The victim of the sacrifice became God’s possession, and God could do with it whatever He chose. 4) The nature of sacrifice did not depend in any way on the sacrifice “staying dead”—it just had to be transferred to God’s ownership. Also, since I view this in terms of honor-shame, amount of time is not at issue; quality of sacrifice....is.

  98.   Romans 11:26 says that all Israel will be saved.   How can this be, since they don't accept Jesus? Who are you talking about? Modern Israel is made up of people not descended from ethnic Jews of the first century. From what we can gather, a mess of those did become saved before the group slowly was absorbed into others.

  99.   Mark 16:9-20 appears in some Bibles (such as the KJV) but not in others.   Do you believe that this passage is in fact "inspired Scripture?"   Why or why not? No -- see link above on this.   When you engage in textual criticism to determine which "doubtful" passages should be included (such as the Pericope Adulterae, John 7:53-8:11), what specific criteria do you use? The same ones profesional textual critics use -- manuscript evidence, which means balancing numbers, content, and weight. You want more details, ask about more specifics. My take on the adultery pericope is here.

  100.   Do you believe that the American pledge of allegiance to the flag should include the words "one nation under God?" I don't care if it does or not.   Are you aware that the original version of the pledge (which had been around for more than a half a century before the McCarthyites, in the 1950's, demanded the insertion of a reference to a deity) did NOT contain the expression "under God" ... that American school children recited The Pledge for more than 50 years without making any reference at all to a deity (and America seemed to get along just fine)? Yep. What of it? Are you aware that there have been a over 20 amendments to the Constitution since it was first ratified? So what's up about a problem with the Pledge being changed?   Would you object if the pledge contained the expression "one nation under Allah" or "one nation under Isis?" Not if that's what most people here voted in. If I didn't like it...I'd leave, or just not say that part, rather than making a spoiled nuisance of myself forcing others to not say it.   Are you aware that America has no "official god?" Yes, and I don't care, really...

  101.   Who wrote Hebrews? Luke.   If you believe it was Paul, why do you believe this?   Are you aware that the writing style of Hebrews is very different from the style of Paul's other writings? Yes, but it is just like Luke's...

  102.   If God made an announcement tomorrow to the effect that hell had been abolished, that is, that there was no more everlasting punishment for sin, would you continue to live a moral life? If beans were peas again? What would you do if it were announced by the Mother Goddess that hereafter all Wiccans would be turned into frogs?   Would it offend you in any way if God abolished hell, thereby letting the unrepentant "bad guys" get away with their sin? Yes, in the same way we'd all be offended if all criminals were let out of prison scot free now...

Look deep into your heart for just a moment.   Honestly now ... doesn't it give you just a bit of a thrill when you imagine a sarcastic Bible-hating bastard like me screaming in pain as I roast in the flames of hell for eons and eons? No, not really. It's more "thrilling" (if anything here is) to be able to reply to your commentary with the same measure you dish out...and since I don't buy the roasting bit (as I've mentioned, no?) I don't have that option...I think I'd prefer to lock you in a seminary library for eternity, and force you to write endless book reports using credentialed Biblical scholarship...with only tofu to eat...and no TV.

  103.   Some Christians say that the earth is only 6,000-8,000 years old.   Yet there are stars that are many thousands of light-years away from us; the fact that we can see them at all proves that their light has traveled for more than a million years.   How old do you believe the earth to be? I don't care, but I can take anything from 6K to four bajillion. My creationist friends have answers to the starlight stuff...e.g. one Ph.D. YEC astronomer argues that critics have their own light travel problem too (see here) and they have provided models to answer the question (see here ... you should have done your homework. Any further questions, ask them if you want, it's not my area of expertise...

  104.   Which Bible translation is your favorite or, to put it another way, which one do you believe to be the most reliable? I don't care. I work with material by scholars who work with the Hebrew or Greek text.   Why do you believe this? Obviously NA for my answer.   How much Hebrew and/or Greek do you know? Smatterings. Like, some words.   If you can't read even one word of Hebrew or Greek, how can you make any assessment of the accuracy of any Bible translation? That's why scholars go to school, my friend...I don't see you pulling your hair out over translations of Livy and Tacitus from Latin. Do you?

And how do you know that all the translators (of all the English translations) haven't been lying to you all along?   Haven't you made a pretty big leap of faith, considering that your eternal future is involved? Oh my yes. They could all be secret mafia members from Pluto who plan to suck out our brains and use them as fertilizer. Now can I ask you, How do you know that Wicca wasn't actually invented by a guy named Nefarious Snerd in 1632 AD as a way of selling timeshares to his condo at the Nefarious Snerd Magic World O' Fun Amusement Park?

  105.   People have seen images of the Virgin Mary in tortillas, and in stains on the sides of buildings (to name a couple of places).   They've even seen Jesus' face on toilet paper and on an oyster shell.   Do you believe that any of these "sightings" are valid? No.   Would you agree with me that a lot of people who call themselves Christians are blithering idiots? Yes. They can join the rest of the human race....

And can you explain to me how any sane person could believe that the Infinite Creator of the Universe would reveal Himself through an image on a tortilla? No...ask one of them.   And if He did so ... what is He trying to SAY?   Please translate into plain English the Message of the Holy Tortilla. "Eat at Taco Bell"?

  106.   Do you believe that Catholics are saved (going to heaven after they die)? Yes, though not on the basis of being Catholics....   What about Mormons?   Jehovah's Witnesses? If they are, it is in spite of their groups' teachings, not because of them.   Southern Baptists?   Pentecostals?   Presbyterians?   Episcopalians?   Assembly of God?   Church of Christ? For these last ones, same as for "Catholic".  Why or why not? Because what they believe is true/not true. So you want to get beyond rarified rhetoric at some point? Let me know...

And if your answer is, "Yes, Catholics are saved if they've really received Jesus and been born again," please describe in detail (for the benefit of our Catholic friends) the exact process whereby one receives Jesus and is born again.   And please be very, very specific, because if even one small ingredient is misstated, then a person may needlessly end up in hell.   Thank you. Have fun with it here. Knowing about the patronage model current in NT times does help quite a bit.

  107.   You're a Christian.   If you committed suicide, would you go to heaven? Yes.   If not, (a) why not, and (b) what is the scriptural basis [if any] for your answer? All sin is forgiven by the atonement -- no exceptions are laid out other than rank apostasy. There you go.

  108.   Adolf Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews.   According to evangelical Christian beliefs, if Hitler dropped to his knees and repented (and received Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior) three seconds before he died, then he would be saved, and he'd go to heaven and would live forever, right next door to the dead Popes and the virgin Mary and the apostle Paul.   Do you think this is fair? "Right next door"? Who told you that? No; by the honor-shame paradigm, repentant Hitler will live in the grungiest part of the eternal realm this side of hell.   Have you noticed that Biblegod has quite a few policies that are offensive to the average person's instinctive sense of morality? I've noticed a lot of whining to that effect, yes, but no actual rational argument. By chance do you have any? I also noticed that Jesus told a parable to people who whined about it....

  109.   In Isaiah 7:14 we read a prophecy about a virgin having a baby, and she names it "Immanuel."   Matthew 1:23 tells us that this was a prophecy of Jesus.   But Jesus was named Jesus   —   not Immanuel.   How do you explain this?   Was Isaiah a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:22)? Nope. From our sister site: People and groups in the OT were OFTEN getting special 'place' names and temporary names, to be used for a specific purpose. Solomon, for example, got TWO names at his birth (II Sam 12.25)--Solomon and Jedidiah. No reference is ever made to Jedidiah after that, but it doesn't seem to be an issue. See also the story about Pashur in Jer 20:1-6. Israel and Judah consistently receive 'temporary' and symbolic names in the Prophets (cf. Ezek 23 and Is 62.3-4) Matthew is the one who quotes the 'Immanuel' passage one verse AFTER the he reports the angel's command to name the son JESUS, AND four verses BEFORE reporting that his parents called him 'Jesus'...he doesn't show the SLIGHTEST concern over this "problem"! (in other words, it WASN'T an issue in that culture). This is even more striking in that Matthew is the one arguing that the passage was fulfilled! --the name issue wasn't an issue. If you had to call the kid 'Immanuel" for the prophecy to be fulfilled, what in the world are we gonna do with Is 9.6--where the child gets 4 names (i.e. wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace)?! And actually, we don't think it was his mother who had to call him 'Immanuel' anyway. Most modern bibles have a footnote at the 'she shall call him...' text, that explains that in the MSS, we have a couple of variants (he, she, they)...Matthew quotes it as 'they'...This could apply to ANYBODY who acknowledged that Jesus was God walking among his people--even John 1 would qualify for this. This is just not generally considered a problem: "There is no problem in referring the names Jesus and Emmanuel to the same person. This may well be the reason Matthew spells out the meaning of the name Emmanuel, meqÆ hJmw`n oJ qeov", “God with us” (LXX Isa 8:8, 10). Indeed this is not a personal name but rather a name that is descriptive of the task this person will perform. Bringing the presence of God to man, he brings the promised salvation—which, as Matthew has already explained, is also the meaning of the name Jesus (v 21b). “They” who will call him Emmanuel are those who understand and accept the work he has come to do. Matthew probably intends the words of Jesus at the end of his Gospel—“Behold I am with you always, until the end of the age” (28:20)—to correspond to the meaning of Emmanuel. Jesus is God, among his people to accomplish their salvation (see Fenton, “Matthew,” 80–82). [WBC]

  110.   In Matthew 17:1-5 we read the story of the "transfiguration" of Jesus.   Moses and Elijah dropped in (perhaps in spectral form?) and talked to Jesus.   Immediately, Peter wanted to build shelters for Moses and Elijah, calling them by name.

How did Peter know who they were?   From photographs? More likely from 1) stereotyped views current among Jews as to what they looked like; or 2) overhearing their names used in the conversation...

  111.   In the foregoing questions, I've shown conclusively that your "God" is in reality a hateful, twisted, nasty, vicious, petty, vengeful, double-talking, self-contradictory, nit-picking, spiteful being of low moral character. You've shown you know how to complain about it, but that's really about it...   How do you know you're not really worshipping Satan?   I'm not asking you to hold God accountable, or to judge him (he's opposed to that, of course); I'm just asking you if there is any minimum standard of decency that you'd hold him to.   Have you decided in advance to worship God no matter what kind of a violent, twisted, sick son of a ***ch he is shown to be in his own book? Beans or peas again? I'll pass until you step past bare "argument by outrage" and offer us some rational argumentation...outrage is not a sufficient form of argument. It is merely a substitute for true argument, with the intention to win over the prospective convert by means of tugging on their heartstrings like an orchestral harp. If the reader finds the God of the Bible cruel, unjust, bloodthirsty, etc., as you do, then that is your own personal problem, as it stands...what must be done -- but I have still not seen done -- is an analysis proving that a given action/directive by God was indeed unfair and/or cruel. Here's some advice on what such you truly need to do to make your "argument by outrage" more than just an emotional spin-doctoring. As I have said time and time again to others, this world is not their world; our thoughts are therefore not their thoughts; their values are therefore not our values. The critic tends to assume that people who lived in this day and age were "just like us" and would have reacted with the same immediate moral outrage as they did. That is simply not the case. Mere statement of data on a broad level argues for nothing; a moral hierarchy must be examined and established. Take these two statements: 1) Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews. 2) Blethkorp exterminated 6 million Refrons. We are rightly filled with moral outrage at the first one. But why? The obvious reason is that we know about Hitler and we know about his Master race schemes; we know about his attempt to seize power; we know from the data that he was morally wrong. The core of "argument by outrage" is to take something like the second item, however, and shake out the "least common denominator" so that the moral equivalency is made to seem to be the same. However, what if we start defining out the second one so that: 1. "Blekthorp" is the leader of the Harlanian race, a peaceful people who only wish to be left alone. 2. The "Refrons" are a predatory and parasitical race -- say like Star Trek's Borg -- whose only goal is to assimilate others into their culture or destroy those they consider inferior. Now that we have the context, whence is the "argument by outrage"? I have chosen a clearly extreme illustration, but between these extremes of black and white lie shades of gray which are a combination of black and white. We would suppose that you would agree that the Harlanians have a right to defend themselves. If the Refrons refuse to give up -- are willing to fight to the last to achieve their goal -- is it a moral outrage that the Harlanians exterminated 6 million of them? How indeed if the total population of Refrons was somewhere around 70 billion and executing 6 million was the only way to get the Refrons to decide that the cost of conquest was too high? Lest you think this a fanciful idea, consider the key parallels to the arguments over whether or not to drop a nuclear bomb on Japan.

In other words ... the Bible contains instructions on how to avoid the eternal fires of hell.   God (1) made the rules, (2) created an imperfect human race that he knew in advance would break his rules, Did you blame Mom for putting the cookie jar where you could reach it, too? Also, is being free an imperfection? If so, do you think the American Founders were idiots? (3) created a horrible place where the rule-breakers would be tortured forever, Not true, as noted. and then (4) provided us with information (albeit confusing and contradictory) To whom? Not to me, sorry.... on how to escape the hell that he himself created.   Wouldn't it have been a hell of a lot simpler if the all-powerful God, by a snapping of his fingers, had just eliminated all of the problems we humans must endure ... instead of giving us this complicated book and just hoping we could figure it out? I guess it would also be lot "simpler" for you if someone cooked all your meals, washed you in the bathtub, fed you by hand, and even wiped your hiney for you in the restroom...the simple truth is, none of this is hard; but it is hard to escape the idea that you are being irresponsible....especially since you cite chestnuts like Prov. 26:4-5 as "problems"....I skip the rest of this one, which is more of the same "preaching" for which we once referred you here...

  112.   A Christian once told me that the only way to explain the origin of the universe was that God created it, since matter can't come out of nothingness.   Question: Where did God come from? What, THIS old canard too?   When did he have HIS beginning?   Who created HIM?   How can God exist without having a beginning?   And if GOD can exist without having a beginning ... why can't the universe itself do that? Here's a hint: The universe and matter degrade...the need is for a first uncaused cause, that is NOT subject to degradition...unless you've stopped flaking skin these days, don't ask me to think that the universe is an exception...

  113.   This same Christian friend told me that there can't be any design without a designer.   She pointed out the incredible complexity of the universe, and of biochemistry and reproduction.   If the universe (and life) is complex, then the Designer who thought it up must be much MORE complex, right?   So who designed God? No, actually, God is regarded as a very "simple" being in terms of structure...but you're not answering the point anyway simply by throwing up your hands. The issue is otherwise outside my scope, so I'll stop there...

  114.   Hebrews 10:4 states unequivocally that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.   That being true, why did God give the Jews so many commandments about animal sacrifices (see Leviticus 9:2, for instance)?   Was he just playing a joke on them?   Why didn't he tell them, way back in the Old Testament days, that their animal sacrifices were useless? Useless for what? Ancient people were quite up on the concept of actions that symbolized something greater. The Jews would have no problem viewing the animal sacrifices in that light.

  115.   Exodus 20:17 (commandment #10 of the Ten Commandments) gives a list of property that belongs to your neighbor, which you're ordered not to covet.   The list includes your neighbor's house, his servants, his ox, his donkey ... and his wife. Oh dear, THIS canard now?   If you are a married man, do you consider your wife to be your property? No. Next part assumes "yes" so we go to:  Are you aware that many women are deeply offended that your God includes them in a property list along with domesticated animals and servants ("servants" being humans that are owned as slaves, with God's blessing)? Are you (and these women) aware that nothing in the list says that these things are all in the category of "property" and that you have just assumed that they are?   Doesn't this betray God's crummy attitude toward women in general? No, it reveals that you have made a category error....this is like saying, "I need to go out and pick up some bread, some milk, and my wife" means you think your wife is something to eat....the only category here is "things that can be coveted"....and I think you'll agree that it is possible to covet someone's spouse...  Some Christians want to display the Ten Commandments in public schools.   Do you think it's a good idea for a modern-day third-grader to grow up thinking that one's wife is property? No, that's why you teach them critical thinking...so they won't make such silly category errors...

And speaking of God's attitude toward women ... did you know that he created Eve as an afterthought?   Take a look at Genesis 2:18-22 (which may be one of my all-time favorite Bible passages):   God first decides that man (Adam) should not be alone.   God decides that Adam needs a "suitable helper."   So what God does next is to parade all the animals and birds before Adam, "But for Adam no suitable helper was found." (Genesis 2:20b).   THAT'S when God decides to create woman! And your problem here is, what? I don't see "afterthought" here...I see "order" and you reading "afterthought" into it, in order to create an offense. There is none...I see a quite tender moment of realization that would not have been possible otherwise.

  116.   As you know, the Bible allows us to have more than one wife at a time; Moses had more than one wife, and God never batted an eye.   The Bible has references to multiple wives (Genesis 4:23, Genesis 28:9, etc.) and even gives us some rules on polygamy (Deuteronomy 21:15ff), but has nary a prohibition against the practice.   Only bishops ("overseers") are prohibited from having multiple wives (I Timothy 3:2).   Do you agree with this? With which? The polygamy, or the restriction?   If you and your husband (who isn't a bishop, let's assume) lived in a country where polygamy was legal, do you realize that he could take multiple wives (he'd probably invite you to the weddings, but not the honeymoons), and it wouldn't violate any Biblical commandments? Do you have some problem with this? God nowhere endorses polygamy; condemnation is explicit in the 1 Timothy verse, and implicit and by example: God created but one Eve for Adam. Multiple wives led, for most men who were polygamists, to multiple troubles. Then shouldn't God have said something more direct? Not necessarily. Polygamy counts as one of those acts in the hierarchy of morals that has been reckoned at times to be a "necessary evil" -- not meaning, as you may say, that God changes his mind about what is moral, but that what is moral may be superseded by what is moral on other grounds. To use the classic example, lying is wrong unless you have Jews in your cellar. Then lying becomes a moral imperative. We therefore need only show that there are circumstances in which polygamy might be a moral imperative, and we can produce these, from a contextually neutral source. Karen Armstrong, certainly no friend of fundamentalism, notes in her biography of Muhammed [190-2] that early Islam allowed polygamy. It seems you view polygamy in terms of male chauvinism and a desire to have many bed partners. In some cases there was no doubt abuse in that direction; Solomon seems to have been a prime example, who paid the price of indiscretion via being drawn into idolatry. However, Armstrong notes social factors in Muhammed's time that mitigated the "evil" of polygamy, and these factors apply just as readily in more ancient Biblical settings: 1) Polygamy was Muhammed's solution to the problem of orphans and widows. Men who died for whatever reason left behind sisters, daughters, and other relatives who needed protection. New guardians might not be scrupulous about administering the property of orphans and might even try to keep women unmarried so they could keep the of the deceased husband property. Polygamy allowed an already-married guardian with better interests for the survivors to step in, in an era before there were social, legal and governmental organizations to take up the case. Obviously these conditions applied in the earlier world of the ANE as well. 2) Armstrong notes that there was probably a shortage of men in Arabia in Muhammed's era, "which left a surplus of unmarried women who were often badly exploited." Such women in the ANE found themselves compelled to take up a life of prostitution, and less scrupulous persons may resort to female infanticide. Critics like you should therefore take some caution before condemning polygamy as repugnant. The matter is not that simple; the practice would almost certainly be repugnant in our modern nation, because none of the social conditions exist which exert a moral influence making polygamy a "necessary evil." But there is a vast difference between our modern world and the ancient Near East.

  117.   My friend Gordon, a Christian, gets upset when I use the expression "god**m" (the proper pronunciation requires the accent on the second syllable).   He doesn't get upset when I just say "d*mn."   I have told him that in using the full "god**m" version, I am acknowledging that only God can d*mn; to say "d*mn" only could be a suggestion that some other entity may be damning the object of the imprecation.   In other words, as I patiently explain to him, I am in fact honoring his god.   What do you think? I think you just like to use the word and are looking for funny excuses to do it. After years working for a prison, language like that bores me; but I'd like to think you'd be able to come up with something more creative, like, "Get the frink out of here, you snorkin' moron."

  118.   Imagine that there's a shipwreck, and ten survivors are washed ashore on a deserted island. Not seven? Oh -- wrong show...   All of them have complete amnesia, but they retain the ability to read. Hmm, maybe it is NOT the wrong show then....   The only book they have is the Bible (let's say it's the NIV).   For the next five years, they study the Bible and use it as the basis for a religion they develop (which they call "Biblianity").   How similar would their doctrines (and worship services) be to what we'd find in your own church among your Christian brothers and sisters? Dunno. How smart are these guys?

Or, in the alternative, is it perhaps more likely that they'd spot the same contradictions, inconsistencies, and outright horrors that I did, and simply reject the Bible out of hand? Maybe if they're presumptuous in their ignorance, yes...is any of them a Bible scholar familiar with the genre of ANE proverbial lit, for example? Would they forget that too? Or would they come with knowledge that the ancients could take for granted, but which we remain willfully ignorant about?

  119.   Do you believe that most people "come to Christ" and "receive Jesus" because they become convinced, at some point in their lives, of the validity of Christianity? Probably not, sad to say.   Or is it obvious that most people who "surrender to Christ" do so at a time of crisis and emotional turmoil in their lives, and are simply grabbing an emotional life saver? It's pretty clear that this is often true, and that's part of the problem with our churches.

Have you ever noticed that nobody "comes to Christ" on the afternoon before prom night?   Nobody "repents" as he's walking into the Pleasure Den whorehouse in Reno after winning $8000 at the roulette wheel I'm sure this is leading to some sort of reflection upon the epistemic value of Christian truth claims...right?... it's always after he's landed on death row, and all his appeals have been exhausted (like Carla Faye Tucker ... she COULD have "found Jesus" just before she grabbed the pickaxe. Why didn't she? Guess it would have been just too d*mn inconvenient).   Aren't you a little bit skeptical about the "jailhouse conversions?" Having known many such, no -- not merely on the basis of them being in a jailhouse.   Do you think Jesus is a bit disappointed that he gets so much of the dregs of society ... no Donald Trumps or Bill Gateses? No, they have their own reward...and Jesus does not need their riches or real estate....though if you want to play that game, he does have Sam Walton, Curtis Carlsson (owner of Radisson hotels), and Jack Eckerd...

And by the way ... why would any sane person believe that the answer to every problem on earth is the torture-murder of an innocent man? Couldn't resist repeating that canard for the 657th time, eh? Answer above...

  120.   In the Bible (Genesis 30:37-39), it tells the story of animals mating while they looked at speckled trees; the result is that the calves that were born were speckled.   Honestly, do you believe this story? Yep.   What do you think would happen if we tried to replicate this event under controlled conditions?   Same result? Only if you had God behind it, as Jacob finally figured out. What Jacob did is obviously a form of "sympathetic magic" - putting a striped object in front of the flocks so that they had "ringstraked," etc. offspring. Yes, Jacob was engaged in bunk. No doubt about it. However, there is a great difference between the Bible describing a bunko process and endorsing it as true. Genesis says that Jacob did the magical bit, and it says he got the results he wanted, but it does not thereby establish that a valid cause-and-effect relationship existed -- though I do think that the story is intended to make the reader wonder whether one exists, before setting up the "punch line" which takes place in 31:10-13. Here, Jacob indicates that God showed in a dream that Laban was intentionally cheating him. He says: And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstreaked, speckled, and grisled. And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstreaked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred. In other words, the reader is now told that God divinely intervened for the purpose of evening the odds that Laban was stacking against Jacob. Jacob obviously did think at first that the sticks were the key to his success, but from events in Ch. 31, God stepped down on Jacob and disabused him of the notion.

  121.   Do you believe that atheists and Wiccans and lesbians have exactly the same legal rights that you do? Legal rights, yes, other than where lesbians and marriage is concerned.  If your answer is "yes," have you taught this to your children? Don't have any...I'll tell my dog though.

  122.   After Noah's ark landed, and the flood waters receded, what did the carnivores eat while the prey animals were repopulating? Vegetables, most likely...they can do it in a pinch. But this is beyond my scopeof expertise, so I'll have to pass on it and on 123-6, about what pandas ate, etc.

Every time you use lousy scholarship

  127.   Genesis 3:8-9 indicates that Adam and Eve successfully hid themselves from God.   If he's all-knowing, how is this possible?   And is there somewhere that I could hide from the son of a ***ch so that he won't send me to his hell when I die? Successful, why? Because God asks a question? No, sorry -- actually this is an example of how a typical ANE sovereign addressed his subjects (or any person addressed any person): In the form of a question, even when the answer is known. (Cf. Gen. 31:26; 1 Sam. 15:14; 2 Kings 5:25). It's an honor-shame thing....you wouldn't understand....

  128.   I'll bet you have at least one relative that you know isn't "saved." You win the Rice a Roni. What flavor you want?  How can you enjoy an eternity in heaven knowing that that person is screaming in pain in the unquenchable fires of hell, forever and ever and ever, until the end of time ... and beyond? No worries there for me....cuz I don't buy the literal fires stuff...but...   Wouldn't this spoil your eternal bliss? No more than it would spoil my life now if I had a relative in jail (I don't)...  And if it wouldn't, aren't you a pretty hard-hearted person? No, but it would mean I was not obsessive-compulsive and controlled by irrationality and emotion...   Just as hard-hearted, I might add, as your God? Well, that's the begged question of injustice we just never see you defend, isn't it...but do try...

  129.   Do you believe that a Pagan is just as happy as you are? I don't know or care. Happiness can be achieved with all sorts of things that have nothing to do with objective reality...   Do you believe that a Pagan could be happier in life than you are as a Christian? Maybe. But I'm not so shallow that "happiness" is my primary pursuit...

  130.   The story of Noah and the flood recounts how God killed every person and every animal on earth, except for just a few.   If you illustrated this story for children, would your picture show all the millions and millions of rotting, bloated corpses floating on the surface of the water, and the swarms of black flies? No, and I wouldn't show the kids a Nazi soldier or concentration camp guard getting his brains blown out in a kids' book about WW2 either...what does this have to do with whether or not the punishment delivered was just? Do you argue against capital punishment of a serial rapist-murdered by showing us his dead body in the electric chair?   Are you surprised that PETA doesn't rise up and denounce God for cruelty to animals? I think they're too busy trying to find ways to bomb the local Wendy's....

  131.   Imagine that you're walking out of church after the Sunday morning service with your son, who is six years old.   As you're getting into the car, he says, "Piss! Ass! Foreskin! Whore! Dung! Breasts! Bastard! Concubine! Eunuch! Fornication!"   Would you be offended? Me, no. But I would wonder if he was trying to prove an invalid point of some sort by yelling such words outside a narrative context. So tell me, do you go through medical texts censoring out those words, or what?   Would you punish him for using such language? Not for using it per se, but for using it in a contextually inappropriate manner. I suppose you go around slapping gyneacologists, then?   Are you aware that each one of those words is in the King James Version of the Holy Bible Yes.... the very book your son has tucked under his little arm? In a Children's Bible? You don't say. What edition?   Do you realize that he's just "quoting the Bible?" He is? Then let me "quote" you: "I'm...a...bastard." That's from your words in questions 2, 118, and 131. What's wrong? Why are you turning green like that?

  132.   [April 2005] Pope John Paul II just died.   For the last few months ofhis life, he was too sick to do his job, yet he refused to retire and hand over the reins of power to a successor.   Isn't this evidence of fleshly pride?   Isn't this evidence that he was in love with power? No, it is evidence that he loved his job and the people he served and wanted to set a good example of living the end of your life with dignity. But maybe you knew him well, eh?

  133.   Do you believe that quantum mechanics equations contain hidden variables that cause determinism to prevail?   Why or why not? Outside my scope, sorry. But do feel free to bless us with your own expertise...

"A few wandering families -- poor, wretched, without education, art or power, descendants of those who had been enslaved for four hundred years, ignorant as the inhabitants of Central Africa, had just escaped from the desert of Sinai..."

— Robert G. Ingersoll, delivering an assessment of the intellect of an entire race in About the Holy Bible (1872)

  134.   Do you believe that church attendance is important? Yes.   Why? It is the social glue that binds the body of Christ.   Are you aware that there is only one Bible verse that even vaguely orders Christians to attend church services (it's Hebrews 10:25) Why would there need to be an order? It was taken for granted in a collectivist society that a social ingroup would have meetings. It was standard in everything from the Jewish synagogue to Roman fireman's clubs. You want an ORDER for this? Good grief. but there are four separate commandments in the New Testament that order you to kiss every person that you meet (I Corinthians 16:20, II Corinthians 13:12, I Thessalonians 5:26, I Peter 5:14)?   Which are you doing more of these days   —   going to church, or kissing people? Getting a little strained here, aren't we? This was either a greeting performed in coordination with the liturgical rites of the church (i.e., the Lord's Supper); orit was simply a standard greeting performed at normal greeting times. Favoring the latter is the point that in the Jewish and Greco-Roman world, a kiss was used as "a form of social respect" used to greet other parties. [Dunn, Romans commentary, 898; Black, 212]. There is that nutty critic here and there who says like you do that this means you now go around kissing everyone, but the changes in the social world -- matters of honor; our obsession with the sexual -- mean that translations that render this, i.e., "Have a handshake all around" have the right idea. Please don't be a fundamentalist Wiccan...

And in case you're wondering ... no, there's nothing in the Ten Commandments that requires church attendance.   You "keep the Sabbath day holy" by not working, period.   You can look it up (Exodus 20:8). True, but the Jews were required to attend regular festivals...you can look that up, too, all through Deuteronomy...

And by the way ... the Sabbath is Saturday, not Sunday.   Do you work on Saturday?   Are you arrogant enough to think that you have the right to change God's Sabbath from Saturday to a different day of the week? By the way, that old canard? See here. Are you arrogant enough to write a rebuttal? To any of this?

  135.   In Luke 22:36, Jesus specifically orders Christians to buy swords   —   even if they have to sell their outer garments to get the money. "Christians"? He was speaking to all Christians, not just the present disciples? Who pulled this one out of their wazoo and handed it to you on a platter?   Do you own a sword? No, but I have some nice Ginsu knives...   If you don't, when do you plan to buy one and end your rebellion against the Lord's clear and unequivocal commandment? Right after you get yourself some contextual education...which I assume will be never...

  136.   In Matthew 19:12, Jesus said that some people have castrated themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.   If your son told you that he wanted to follow Our Lord's suggestion, what would you say? I'd say, "Son, that Wiccan is just blowing hot air. What Jesus made is a statement of fact and observation: some are born this way; some have made themselves this way for men; some have made themselves that way for spiritual purposes, and those who can accept this, let them do so -- it is not saying, 'Go out and castrate yourself' or giving directions to the nearest medical facility. There is no opinion rendered either way. However, looking more deeply into the context than that Wiccan did, we see that this refers not to castration, but to celibacy. We know that the Jews were horrified by castration (cf. Josephus, Against Apion 2.270-1; though eunuchs were well-respected, and trusted, in some Ancient Near Eastern societies). Indeed, how could someone have been 'castrated' from their mother's womb? And how would a response dealing with castration relate to a question as to whether or not it is better to marry (19:10), said in relation to putting away one's wife in v. 9 -- which is the 'it' to receive that Jesus refers back to? No, son, you just out back that scissors and get back and keep reading Keener's commentary on Matthew. You'll never learn anything from that Wiccan character."

  137.   In John 21:15-17, we read about an exchange between Jesus and Simon Peter.   Jesus asks Simon three times, "Do you love me?"   As you probably know, when you read this passage in Greek, Jesus uses different words for "love."   Pastors adore this passage because it's a ready-made sermon.   There are a couple of problems, though: (1) Jesus didn't speak Greek when he talked to Simon, because Simon wouldn't have known what the h*ll he was saying, and (2) if you try to do this in Aramaic, which is the language that Jesus would have used, it just doesn't work, since Aramaic doesn't have as many words that are translated "love."   How do you explain this?   Could this be a fake story? My goodness, are you that out of touch with the scholarship? Ancient writers would always report the words of a person in the language of their audience. Tacitus even has a Scottish tribal chieftain addressing his people in Latin, which he would never have spoken to his own people. As for Aramaic not having so many words, who made you an expert in Aramaic? I expect you have no documentation for this claim at all; but even if you did, why restrict it to one word per word? Why not say that the Aramaic was something consisting of two or three descriptive words and not just one as in Greek? Come now, this is childish. Find me one commentary on John by a scholar that claims this is a problem...

  138.   Proverbs 22:15 clearly says that it is acceptable for me to hit my child with a stick.   If you observed me in my back yard "being Biblical" by hitting my seven-year-old son with a stick, what (if anything) would you do? What, this one again? Already answered above.

  139.   You believe that you're going to heaven after you die.   Do you like the idea that you've been created for the sole purpose of worshipping your creator? Yep.   That after you die, you're supposed to do this forever? Yep.   That the purpose of your existence is to be part of a cosmic cheering squad for a deity so vain and insecure that he needs constant, eternal reassurance of his supremacy? Oops, there you go again; is that projection? First of all, "worship" does not mean cosmic cheerleading; it is clear from contextual study that worship is a life and lifestyle, not just acts in isolated pockets of time. Worship can mean serving in a soup kitchen, or going on a mission trip, or conducting a ministry of some sort. So that takes care of that "insecurity" nonsense...unless you think a work supervisor is "insecure"...or everyone else in the world but you is...eh?

  140.   You would tell me that I can't be "saved" unless I believe certain things, i.e., that Jesus is the son of God, and died for my sins, and rose on the third day (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 10:9).   I do NOT believe these things.   How do I force myself to believe something that I don't believe?   Of course, I can lie and SAY that I believe, but God will know I'm lying, so that's no good. I agree. And I don't ask you to force yourself to believe anything.

Suppose I told you, with all sincerity (and swore on a stack of Bibles), that Elvis Presley is still alive; his death in 1977 was faked.   He was kidnapped by space aliens, and he now lives on the planet Venus.   Any day now, he will return to earth to reign over us for 1,000 years.   All this is prophesied in an ancient book I have (which I then proceed to show you).   And then I tell you, seriously, that unless you believe this, 100%, with all your heart, you will go to hell when you die.   You must believe this to be saved!

Question: How does a person force himself to believe something that is utter bulls**t? I have a better question: When do you plan to stop posturing and start proving that it is bovine excrement? This hasn't been at all convincing so far; I mean, we don't even have an anti-apologetic on the resurrection in here...calling it "bulls**t" isn't much of an answer...can I call your questions "bulls**t" and be declared right on that basis alone? No? Oh well...

  141.   Did you know that your Bible specifically commands you   —   twice   —   not to be a motherf**ker (Leviticus 18:7, Deuteronomy 27:20)? Yes, though I believe it used much more precise terminology. So do you also think gynecologists spend their time telling people "how to f**k"?

Has your minister preached any sermons on this topic lately? No. Haven't needed them, you see...

And are you aware that Silver RavenWolf, Raymond Buckland, Doreen Valiente, Margot Adler, and Stewart Farrar, in all their many Wiccan books, have never thought it necessary to instruct Wiccans not to ***ew their own mothers?   Why do you think your God needs to tell you twice not to do so? I expect because one of the favorite activities of pagans of the day was to "***ew your own mother" during religious ceremonies...it's nice that people have stopped doing it, but whining about a law without knowing why it was passed makes you look rather out of touch...presumably Adler, et al DO instruct Wiccans on some morals or another, and 10K years from now, if people no longer do X thing they warned against (for whatever reason) can we criticize them, too?

And by the way ... are you still sure you want your child reading this filthy book? Absolutely -- like the evening news, served in the appropriate way at the appropriate time...or do you plan to lock your children in a closet so that they never have sex, for example?

  142.   Do you read the Bible the same way you read any other book? Yes.If I had consulted with experts in shop and found out that the "inconsistencies and contradictions" were a case of me being too ill-informed to understand the text, of course.   Are you more willing to forgive the errors and inaccuracies in the Bible than you would if it weren't a "holy book?" No.   Are you in fact making allowances for the imperfections of your God? No. Are you in fact creating "imperfections" based on a skewered understanding derived from prior ignorant fundamentalism?   Are you making special accommodations and excuses for this book, the same way you would for a mentally retarded child? No. Are you making special excuses and accomodations for your angry disbelief, the same way you would if you were a spoiled child? I won't assume it if you don't assume the prior of me...   Isn't your Bible a kind of a weird, defective, antiquated thing that you tolerate only because you feel like you have to, because you're afraid of what might happen if you questioned it in a fair, reasonable manner? No. But thank you for you obviously informed judgment. I've been doing the question thing for years. Now it's your turn to be fair....   And isn't fear an integral part of your religion   -   not fear of evil spirits or of Satan, but fear of God himself (Deuteronomy 6:13, Joshua 24:14, Psalm 2:11, Ecclesiastes 12:13, Isaiah 33:6, II Corinthians 5:11)? No -- as I corrected you in the little ditty above. Not fear, but respect, and I assume you value respect....or do you?   Is the Bible something that is occasionally an embarassment to you? No.   In trying to come up with answers to the questions on this page, do you find yourself having to stifle your normal common sense? Nope. I mainly find myself culling out articles from the past to answer these chestnuts...articles which made use of credentialed scholarship and nuts and bolts logic...   Do you find yourself saying things like Well, let's see.

(a)   "God can do whatever he wants to, because he's God" Nope, not that one.
(b)  "God is holy, and can't allow any sin in his presence" Not that one either, though it is true.
(c)   "Well, things are different today than they were in Biblical times" This one I use, but I prove it each time...can you answer any of them?
(d)  "There are a lot of things in the Bible we just don't understand" No...I haven't used this one, but be fair: It doesn't require a negative judgment -- on any book we don't understand -- does it?
(e)  "We just have to trust in God; we have to have faith" No, not this one. I hate that one, actually/
(f)  "We can't always understand God; his ways are not our ways" (this is also true of Charles Manson) Not that one either.
(g)  "That Bible verse must have been taken out of context ... I'll look it up some time" I do say the first part, but only because I have already looked it up...and done the requisite homework...
(h)  "Well, that's just one of those difficult Bible passages" Nope.
(i)  "That was back in the Old Testament; it doesn't apply to us" Yep, but again, I prove it, not just say it...
(j)  "I can't explain it, and I don't really understand it, but I still believe in the Bible, no matter what" Nope. So, that means most of these don't apply to me. How 'bout that.

... when deep down inside, in the common-sense part of your mind, you suspect that the Bible is really a not-too-admirable invention of man   —   not really "the word of God" at all? Nope.   Do you find that the more you study the Bible, the more you have to engage in "double-think?" Nope. Did you? Maybe that's why you're where you are today, and I'm not...   If this many legitimate questions existed about an airplane that you were about to board, would you go ahead and make the trip? The key word here is "legitimate"...the vast majority of these 142 questions, minus the ones beyond my expertise which I can't say yea or nay on....have not been legitimate, but misplaced.   Or would you wait for the next flight? No need. This plane is fine.   If you had the courage to be absolutely, 100% honest, would you tell people that you really believe that the Bible is perfect and infallible? I do, and have -- at least, I have said that it is an admissible belief about the original mss.   If we hooked you up to a polygraph when you made that statement ("Yes, I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and it's 100% infallible"), how much would the needles wiggle? None. Sorry about that, I know you like to watch wiggling needles.

What would it take to convince you that the Bible and its God ARE fatally flawed (assuming you're not yet convinced)? A coercive, non-fallacious argument. Got one? The rest assumes "nothing" so I skip to:

Why is it that you employ your critical faculties (i.e., your good common sense) in every aspect of your life other than this one? Why is it you assume I don't? Is it because you didn't?   You wouldn't invest your kids' college savings in a scheme run by a cheesy scam artist.   You don't buy the crap they advertise in the infomercials ("Wait! If you call in the next ten minutes ...").   But ... let somebody use the magic word "God" or show you some commandment or assertion in an old leather-bound book (an incomprehensible self-contradictory 17th-Century English translation of a ragtag collection of spurious copies of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that were collected over a period of 1800 years, and selected from an even larger collection of manuscripts by people that you know nothing about) and, regardless of how patently absurd or preposterous the assertion is, you drop your pants and bend over, no questions asked.   Does it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, you're allowing yourself to be controlled by ... the wrong thing? Does it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe, you're offering a bigoted and misdirected stereotype, and that maybe, just maybe, you made a mistake, have not done sufficient homework, and that there are people out there who as Christians do not submit to the "magic word" (funny comment from a Wiccan...), have done homework that shows that the texts are comprehensible for anyone willing to be an earnest disciple, that they are not contradictory (except by an amateurish surface reading), that works with commentaries that use the earliest and best texts in the original languages, that makes a strong case for their authenticity, and doesn't illogically regard time as a factor in truth, and treats them the same way as secular hsitorians who "know nothing about" writers like Livy and Suetonius? (Not literally, but it's not literally true about writers like Luke and Paul either.) Apparently it doesn't...now we are left to ask why....you were once a fundy Christian, apparently, but now you are...er....a fundy Wiccan. Interesting....

  Bonus Question #1:     What is it about Biblegod that makes him a male god?   Does he have a penis?   Does he have a beard? No. The ancients viewed gender not in terms of equipment but in terms of role; God is regarded as "male" because of His relation to His creation -- in ancient views, taking the public role associated with maleness.   Imagine that someone were to go through the entire Bible and change every reference to God's gender so that he became a female ... a goddess.   Every "he" or "him" would be changed to a "she" or "her."   Jesus would be quoted as saying, "No one comes to the Mother except through me." (John 14:6)   The Lord's [Lady's?] prayer would begin, "Our Mother, who art in heaven ..."   If we did "feminize" Biblegod, how would that change any theological [thealogical?] assertion found in the Bible? It would preserve, from the contextal perspective, an inaccurate account of how God related to the creation.   How would it make any difference at all ... other than the fact that it would be pretty unbelievable that a mother Goddess would perpetrate all the mass murder and genocide that Biblegod confesses to in his own Holy Book? Oh really? I guess we need to let Carla Faye Tucker go after all, huh...since a woman would never kill anyone...

  Bonus Question #2:     In the Bible (Matthew 18:19), it says that if two Christians agree about anything, God will do it.   Could you get with one of your Christian buddies and ask God to give me a million dollars?   Please? Say "pretty please". Then re-read #32 above.

  Bonus Question #3:     In Genesis 4:26, long before the time of Moses, we are told that men began to call on "the name of the Lord [ יהוה ]."   In fact, at Genesis 22:14 (again, long before the time of Moses), Abraham names a place "The Lord [ יהוה ] Will Provide."   And yet in Exodus 6:3, God tells Moses that previously his name [ יהוה ] had been unknown to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.   How do you explain this? That old canard? Couple of points: 1) The Hebrew grammar of Ex. 6:3 is better read, "Did I not make myself known to them?" 2) As our sister site says, The Hebrew actually has a preposition (beth) in front of the phrase El Shaddai and Yahweh...it is technically called the BETH ESSENTIAE, with the force of focus on the character of the name...see Zond Pict. Ency. Bible, "Name": "In both instances it is the character or capacity of that name that is in view, not the bare knowledge of the name as the label for this person. Likewise, the 'name' also stood for his reputation, character, and accomplishments in doctrine and deeds." (notice how this last sentence becomes the major focus of the exodus event--"God makes a Name for Himself" as the redeemer and creator the nation of Israel. Any more?

      Most of the faithful don't really care whether or not the Bible is entirely true; they use only the parts they know about and like. True. Not me, though...   Most Christians are familiar only with the few parts of the Bible which other people said were important or inspirational. Is this a biography, perhaps? Or a confessional?   And a lot of things they think of as biblical are really the inventions of dogmatists, storytellers, and hymn writers   —   they're not derived from the Bible's actual words (I once heard a preacher say, "It says standing on the promises ... not sitting on the promises!" as if this old hymn were some kind of holy writ). I doubt if he thought that and was doing more than making a homiletic illustration...and if you don't care for it, well, neither will you like Poor Richard's Almanac...