As last September, the mailbag overflowed while the Net itself slowed, though not as much as last year. Maybe Bimf was busy with his celebrity appearance.

From the Mailbag

One of the members of the Skeptics' Annotated Bible Fan Club wrote me this loony question:

Strictly yes or no. If "God" told you personally to sacrifice your wife to him (Abraham style) or else he would send you to hell to suffer eternally, would you do it? Yes or no, please. And please pardon my emphasis on wanting a yes or no answer. Theists tend not to be able to answer this question honestly ("I don't think my god would ask that").

To which I said:

That's a perfectly valid answer....too bad. You may as well demand as answer to the question, "If beans defied gravity would you still eat them? Yes or no?" and then claim that it is "dishonest" to point out that beans will never defy gravity. Nice to be able to set your own rules for what is "honest" and what is not, but too bad -- save that for gullible people.
That said, what would in this scenario happen to the person sacrificed? Would they be eternally in heaven? If so, what would be objectionable about a "yes" answer, since it is merely predicated to be a bad one based on YOUR understanding of death as the end of existence, as opposed to being merely a transition to something better?

And Jimbo Jr. replied:

To say it would never happen is, in the least, not even an answer at all. It's an objection to the question. To answer the question, you would have to provide the information the question seeks, which you have not done. I did not ask if your god would do such a thing. I asked what you would do. And please note that I have said absolutely nothing about death as the end of existance-- this is an assumption of your own making. Seems like I need to design a website where I point out "Leading Skeptic Myths".
You want to know if your wife will get a reward for being murdered. So, the original question is too absurd for you to answer, but when you get to tweak the question so you can answer in a way that seems moral to you (murder is simply a means to a greater end), you are willing to answer. Why are you afraid to answer the original question? If beans defied gravity, would I still eat them? Yes. Beans may never do such a thing, but I can still answer the question. "But, but... beans would never do that! Please don't make me answer the question!" No cop-outs, please. You have not answered the question. You pulled the classic theist move: "I will change the question to suit what I'm comfortable answering".

As I said many times....atheism makes you stupid. Then this came in from People Engrossed in Fantasy:

Hello,

you come across as someone who wants to use evidence and i don't criticise you for that. I realise that some scholars agree with what you say however many don't.

On your website you say 'There is no reason to date ANY of the Gospels later than 70 AD, although such dating may be permissible in the case of John' This is wrong as there are very good reasons to assume otherwise. you then tell a massive lie and set up a strawman argument by pretending all sceptioc say 'the Gospels are all late documents, written between 70-100 AD, or some say even in the 2nd century AD.' many sceptics actually give the bible a dating around 400 ad at the earliest. a scholarly article on this can be found at http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/NewTestament.html or http://www.conspiracyplanet.com/revi...ewid=27&page=2 At the very leat you should acknowledge the arguments for a 400 ad dating

i notice you don't have much on your website about islam, is that because you, like me, realise that it was stated by the pope ( http://www.cloakanddagger.de/lenny/alberto_rivera.htm )? not many people have seen the evidence for this yet and so maybe you could held spread it.

Finally there was someone called Pliny the Younger who was born of a virgin, fed 5000 people, turned water into wine, taught people to love their neighbour, was crucified, rose from the dead and had a disciple called james. I can't find the website for it now but maybe christianity was borrowed from it.

you might want to rethink your website in view of this new information.

I might want to rethink......nah. The Nexus magazine link deserves its own award for such things as this:

"The Great Insertion" and "The Great Omission"

Modern-day versions of the Gospel of Luke have a staggering 10,000 more words than the same Gospel in the Sinai Bible. Six of those words say of Jesus "and was carried up into heaven", but this narrative does not appear in any of the oldest Gospels of Luke available today ("Three Early Doctrinal Modifications of the Text of the Gospels", F. C. Conybeare, The Hibbert Journal, London, vol. 1, no. 1, Oct 1902, pp. 96-113). Ancient versions do not verify modern-day accounts of an ascension of Jesus Christ, and this falsification clearly indicates an intention to deceive.

Today, the Gospel of Luke is the longest of the canonical Gospels because it now includes "The Great Insertion", an extraordinary 15th-century addition totalling around 8,500 words (Luke 9:51-18:14). The insertion of these forgeries into that Gospel bewilders modern Christian analysts, and of them the Church said: "The character of these passages makes it dangerous to draw inferences" (Catholic Encyclopedia, Pecci ed., vol. ii, p. 407).

Just as remarkable, the oldest Gospels of Luke omit all verses from 6:45 to 8:26, known in priesthood circles as "The Great Omission", a total of 1,547 words. In today's versions, that hole has been "plugged up" with passages plagiarised from other Gospels. Dr Tischendorf found that three paragraphs in newer versions of the Gospel of Luke's version of the Last Supper appeared in the 15th century, but the Church still passes its Gospels off as the unadulterated "word of God" ("Are Our Gospels Genuine or Not?", op. cit.)

Oh, the author is Tony "Bible Fraud" Bushby.... the guy who invents secret manuscripts for the British Museum...

Then this from the Wah Wah League (in entirety):

You so-called rebuttels of [L. Ray] Smith's writings are insipid, biased and without teeth. You obviously don't know how to take him on in truth so you keep yapping at the peripherals and don't get down to say virtualy anything.

I'd be ashamed to put forth scholarship of this kind and then parade as the know-all guru you obviously think you are.

Get a life man!

And this, from Screamers Anonymous:

God-man, fully God and fully man? That's what you say, but there is only ONE GOD, The Almighty Creator! That Almighty Creator is the one who created Jesus himself! Without that almighty Creator there would be no Jesus, and there would be no you! You can pray to that false God Jesus all you want, but he can't hear you, he is dead!

Any one who believes Jesus is God has to be an idiot. Jesus is dead, and no one can prove otherwise! If you can prove it, please do. But you know you can't, he is dead, dead,dead!

The poor fellow then sent me about 3 dozen emails over the next week, consisting mostly of one-liners like, "JESUS IS DEAD!" This one is so funny it hurts; it comes from the Carl Sagan Institiute for the Competency Impaired:

Dear idiot sheep,

I came across your site, tektoniks, and was amazed how how crap it was. I always thought Christians were embarsed about the lack of historical credibility behind the bible and yet you try and come up with excuses about it.

Richard Dawkins says in his book The God Delusion that historians laugh at the historical evidence for Christianity and are in serious doubt that Jesus existed. You should read the God Delusion and learn from it. Then you'll realise that the church randomly chose which gospels made it into the Bible, that the Bible got it wrong when it said Joseph was a carpenter, that Mary was never meant to be a virgin, and that the Bible was meant to be treated as fiction and the authors never expected it to be taken seriously. Christians skip over the section on the historical evidence when they attempt to review the God Delusion ... I wonder why? Why don't you listen to what real historians say about Jesus such as Richard Dawkins, Robert Price, Dan Brown, Christopher Hitchens, Bart Erhman, Brian Flemming, Sam Harris and many more. I bet you can't find one scholar who isn't a Christian and thinks Christianity is true.

Your website has won my personal award for worst site on the Internet. Welldone (the welldone was sarcastic by the way)

P.S If Christianity is true then how do you explain the fact that Paul never mentions Jesus in his letters. That's right, the word Jesus never appears in a single word Paul wrote. Clearly Paul had never heard of this Jesus guy. I know what your going to say, 'the devil went through the bible and removed all the bits where Paul mentions Jesus' but that sort of answer won't work for intelligent, rational, scientificly minded people such as me

I gave her a link to my article on Earl Doherty and high context....this was her reply:

Is that the best you can do? All I asked was you to find me a passage where Paul uses the word 'Jesus' and all you could do was give me a longarticle about someone nobody has heard of. Lets put it like this so that a nicoompoop like you understand: Brian Flemming can explain in one simple sentence why Paul hasn't heard of Jesus whilst you take pages of complicated stuff to try and explain the truth away. Using ocrum's raiser Brain Flemming is right.

I notice you didn't answer my other challenges. I supose they're too difficult for you. Oh - and you cant spell - dum is not spelt dumb!

As you gave me an article to look at, heres one for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Buddhism Last time I looked Wikipedia was a neutral sauce unlike your own website. Looks like Christianity was plajarised from buddhism. Whoops, that must be an embarasment for you.

a real historian needs historical evidence. All the people I gave do ... unlike you. I don't think Brian Flemming would claim on his DVD that in the Bible Paul has never heard of Jesus if that weren't true and would The God Delusion have sold over a million copies if it was rong? You should all read your bible as much as peple like Richard Dawkins and Brian Flemming do.

On page 383 of the God Delusion (paper back edition) richard dawkins says 'I must admit that even i am taken aback at the biblical ignorance commonly displayed by people in more recent decades' Pen and teller said on their show that if peple read the bible they become atheists and I think you prove them right by showing how little you know about what is in the bible.

No i am not DUM - you are. are you seriosly saying that peple who base their beliefs on science, evidence and reson are dum when peple who base their beliefs on fairytales are not?

clealry your theologyweb forum is crap and only used by dum idiots. i dont normaly post on forums becos i dont normaly have time however when i do everyone thinks im inteligent. why not try using some forums for clever peple like http://richarddawkins.net/forum/ and http://groups.msn.com/FightingIgnorance2

This is from the People Who Shouldn't Go to Vegas Commission:

So, I've been evaluating you and your issues and feel very confident that I understand where you are coming from.

You have been scarred by life and really hate society and those who are happy and doing well. From the very beginning you've felt unwanted because your parents abandoned you. They even had your named changed from theirs to distance themselves from you as much as possible. You were picked on in school because you were the awkward boy that nobody really liked.

This lead to your fascination with books (mainly comic books where you could pretend to be the hero) and your desire to be lost in drawing out your fantasy world. You were never good with people or reality, so fantasy became your best friend. You thought drawing was your life's calling but were rejected by any serious art program for your lack of talent. This was a major turning point in your life.

You decided that you would dedicate your life to books and study to be a librarian. You excelled in your profession because you needed something, something to be good at. You turned to the Bible because you saw a God that punished and brought suffering on all those that actually enjoy life and take pleasure in living in this world. You have to equate suffering on earth with reward in heaven because if that is not the case, your life would be nothing but misery.

Without the Bible and the vengeful God that will make those who laughed at you while succeeding in their goals pay for their "sins", you would be nothing but the loser you actually are.

Now, the God you insult by promoting the Bible has left you childless. You could try scientific methods to improve your chances of conceiving, but you have to hold some sort of consistency with the ****** you peddle. The God in the Bible told us to by fruitful and multiply but has taken this ability away from you. What does that tell you? You promote hell and punishment because you really hate this world and everything in it. God is watching J.P., God is watching! And he can see into the deepest recesses of your heart. It's not to late to change and enjoy what the rest of us have.

Gosh. All those tries and he didn't even get ONE part right. Now this email that is sad, but still exceptionally screwy:

I was a Southern Baptist believing Christian for 50 years (I am 80 now and am a retired engineer) until I read Bertrand Russel's "Why I am not a Christian" followed by Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism", followed by Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" Videos and books, followed by Jonathan Miller's "History of Disbelief", followed by Programs featuring Salman Rushdie and others who have seen through the stupidity of the concept of the god of the bible. I have read your arguments and they in no way satisfy the basic rules of syllogistic logic and are totally unconvincing to anyone who seeks truth. But , to me all of these arguments mean nothing anyway because I have decided that if there were a hereafter, wherever persons such as yourself, Pat Robertson, George Bush, etc, reside in that hereafter, I would be happy to be excluded. I prefer to be with persons like those I have mentioned above. I also love the here and now kind of a world with trees, birds, pets, cars, hamburgers, etc, than any life if any other kind of existence. I am counting on going back to where I was before I was conceived, nonexistence, when I die. Being now 80, I do not have long to wait and I must tell you that God, Jesus, Mohammed, and all the rest simply do not appeal to me, either real or imagined.

Wow. Convinced by crap from Freud and Russell....and things like hamburgers on the miss list. A sad sign of where shallow spirituality will get you. Now this from the Wacko Club of the Americas:

Hello there. I've written a new book that might interest your community. It is called "Grounding the Phoenix Lights: Prophesies and Fulfillment of the Old Millennium".

Below is the Press Release for the book and I am attaching an e-book version for your review. Thank you.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW INVESTIGATIVE BOOK - Phoenix Lights mystery decoded by discovery of biblical icons seen from overhead satellite photos of famous UFO sighting area.

PHOENIX, AZ-September 4, 2007- What does Isaiah 11:6have to do with the Phoenix Lights of March 13, 1997? Quite a bit when viewing the area of the sighting from the perspective of NASA or TerraMetrics, Inc. who produce satellite images for various web sites such as Google Earth.

Steven Blonder, a key witness and featured in the Discovery Channel's UFO's Over Phoenix: Anatomy of a Sighting, and author of a new book Grounding the Phoenix Lights: Prophesies and Fulfillment in the Old Millennium, has taken on the religious end-of-day conventional notions and turned them upside down with simple computer screenshots of a lion, lamb, wolf, bear, child, etc and even a hand scribbled "leopard" which appear in the hilly landscape where the Phoenix Lights were sighted.

Grounding the Phoenix Lights takes a look at the many signs and symbols connected with the Lights and makes a convincing case that several messages were intended to be "taken away" by the sighting - not the least of which is a roadmap toward spiritual awareness and an expanded consciousness. Help is offered through interpretations of Jewish, Christian, New Age and Hopi textual references all tied to the iconic images that emerge out of the landscape.

In addition to the Isaiah animals, a skull associated with the New Testament Golgotha is present which provocatively gives a chance to revisit the events 2,000 years prior with the benefit of a new lens the author meticulously develops through educating the reader to the cipher of Jewish Kabbalah.

"While I am realistic in assessing the skepticism this book faces in countering two thousand years worth of religious dogma and propaganda, I also sense a need for an alternative world view to emerge that is inclusive of all religions and releases Judgment Day baggage the sighting is ultimately trying to urge us to do."

For more information on the book, satellite photos and the sighting filmed from the author's home visit: www.groundingthelights.com

ABOUT AUTHOR: In addition to his successful fortune 500 marketing career Steven Blonder is a writer and teacher of Kabbalah. His personal story of spiritual development weaves a narrative thread throughout the intellectual inquiry of the book.

That's a Platinum candidate, I think....


The September 2007 John Loftus Collection

John Loftus took home so much Gold this month that his fireplace mantle collapsed and made his whole house blow up. First, he win for his review of The Impossible Faith, which is filled to the brim with dumb comments, such as:

On the back cover Holding claims to have 17 years in apologetics ministry. If he's 38 years old now (a guess), then that means he started his ministry when he was 21 years old. What can that mean? That a 21 year old on the web arguing for Christianity has an apologetics ministry?

The novelty of his approach is that he uses some recent scholarship from the Social Science Group of Malina, Neyrey, and Rohrbaugh, along with McCane's study of burial customs in the New Testament era--books which someone must have pointed out to him and from which he uses like they were the gospel truth. He obviously picks and chooses what he wants to believe by these scholars, since none of them would affirm the inerrancy of the Bible, and McCane may be an atheist for all he knows.

"There is only one viable explanation," that Jesus arose from the dead. (p. 17). Really? Only one viable explanation?

Holding writes: "Ethnically and geographically, Jesus was everything that everyone did NOT expect a Messiah to be." (p. 27). Everyone? Really?

Overall Holding wildly overstates his case, doesn't interact sufficiently with his detractors, and bases his arguments on certain implausible assumptions that he doesn't justify. For instance, Richard Carrier has sufficiently refuted his claims, not once but twice, along with Robert M. Price, Brian Hotz, and recently the combative Matthew Green, but Holding doesn't mention their arguments or interact with them at all in this book.

He doesn't interact with the book, The Empty Tomb, either. If he wants to be a scholar, a wannabe, then the one thing scholars do is they show awareness of the relevant literature and interact with it.

Poor DJ didn't notice I already had refuted that goon squad. But he also wins for this recommendation of the latest work of Acharya S:

Apart from the dubious positions of hers I mentioned, I recommend this book. It is provocative and worthy or consideration.

Giving Acharya S any credibility is a sure sign of encroaching mental illness. Another screwball is for once again beating his dead "psychology of belief" horse, and another for this:

On Sunday many churches will repeat the Lord's Prayer in their worship services. Catholics will use the one we find in Matthew from the KJV, along with the last phrase not found in many of the earliest manuscripts, while Protestants will combine the two using Luke's word "sins" instead of Matthew's word "debts."

But in this simple example of what believers should pray we find many of the difficulties with which Biblical scholars wrestle. What prayer did Jesus actually teach his disciples to pray? The prayer itself is memorable, and not likely to have been forgotten, as evidenced by most believers today, and yet here we have two versions of it. Mark's gospel is accepted by the overwhelming number of scholars to have been written first. Scholars wrestle with the authorship and dating of the books in the Bible, for they can provide a clue to interpreting them. But why didn't Mark include this prayer? It seems to be a glaring omission on his part since the prayer itself is so memorable, not unlike the "I am" sayings of Jesus in John's later gospel. Such memorable things are hard to explain why only the later gospel writers remember them enough to write them down.....

And why did Luke replace the word "debts" with "sins?" Could it be that the poor had no debts to forgive? Scholars think Matthew wrote down "debts" because he was a tax collector, if it was actually Matthew who wrote the gospel. But how do we explain this "discrepancy? That Matthew got it wrong? That he "translated" what Jesus actually said into terms he could understand? That Jesus repeated this prayer several times but that on some occasions he used the word "debts" while on other occasions he used the word "sins"? How likely is that?

Wow. So many stupid statements in such a short space, it may be a record.

1) The use of "sins" versus "debts" is a non-issue. As Malina and Rohrbaugh note in their social science commentary, the terms interpret each other: Sin places one in debt to God.

2) Keener also notes that "debts" represented sins before God in Jewish teaching, and that the Aramaic term hoba covers both concepts (sin and debt).

3) Mark's non-use of the prayer is irrelevant -- because it is memorable, being one reason: The prayer would be orally circulated, and there was no pressing need whatsoever to include it in a written account as DJ's dumb "glaring" panic button attack implies.

But wait! There's more:

Today, with the advent of genetics, most Christian thinkers try to defend the virgin birth on the grounds that the humanity of Jesus was derived from Mary, and his sinlessness and deity were derived from God. Today's Christian thinkers do this because they now know Mary must have contributed the female egg that made Jesus into a man. But even with this new view, it doesn't adequately explain how Jesus is a human being, since a human being is conceived when a human male sperm penetrates a human female egg. Until that happens we do not have the complete chromosomal structure required to have a human being in the first place.

I guess DJ thinks that a God who created a universe ex nihilo would have serious problems doing a little molecular manipulation or even more ex nihilo creation to make some human DNA.

There's also Gold for reviewer of DJ's book on Amazon:

If Jesus was a historical figure, about which no one can be certain, he did not perform miracles; he probably didn't die on a cross or tree; and he most certainly didn't arise zombie-like from the dead and scare gullible folk in Palestine before ascending to heaven. The Bible, Loftus comes to understand, is mythologic ramblings of superstitious peasants. The story of Adam and Eve is clearly a fable; there was no universal flood; people don't repent in a whale's gullet and then preach to Nineveh. The Gospels are clearly embellishments of an early god-man myth, the writers of which are clearly trying to convince other people to believe in their brand of x-tianity rather than trying to tell us of real events (to which they could not have been witnesses). An important fact arises from Mr. Loftus' discussion--intelligent adults rarely becomes x-tians. The author, William Craig Lane, and most people who babble about x-tianity joined before they were thinking clearly (as adolescents), or were inculcated as children. An intelligent outsider would never buy all the baloney that is x-tianity.

Intelligent outsider? Like one who gives credence to the Christ myth, the copycat thesis, and can't even get Craig's name right? And Gold to DJ for thinking this review is good for him. Yet more Gold (we have a ways to go) for this:

Sarah Bowman has a new site called Fighting Fundamentalism. In her words: "My aim is to make it easy for seekers to find the information they need. According to the stats on my forums, the topics of greatest interest to people are casual lists of sources. But there is one topic that far outstrips every other topic: How to change a fundamentalist's mind." Enjoy

Hum. Among Sarah's credible sources:

  • Acharya S.Truth Be Known Newsletter
  • Why Won't God Heal Amputees
  • Skeptic's Annotated Bible
  • FFRF Brochures & Nontracts

    But wait! September was a month for Loftus to get REALLY dumb, as can be seen by this:

    In letters from Mother Teresa recently published we learn that for 40 years of her 87-year-long life, Mother Teresa could not feel the presence of God. I wonder how many other ministers are as honest with themselves?

    But Loftus wasn't alone; his crew won plenty too. Here, DJ flushes out a dark corner and finds another Gold Screwball winner, Brother Crow:

    I was a person who chose to believe in the face of dogged unbelief. I struggled with intellectual concerns with Christianity from the day I was "born again" - but my conversion experience was so emotionally gratifying and gave me such acceptance in a tight-knit community that I chose to turn off or "closet" my reasonable objections and simply believe the unbelievable. ...

    I always questioned my faith, but Christianity and ministry gave me a place, an identity, and frankly a salary, so the questions only took me to a place of constant discontent. I was important and successful in my chosen community because I was a great speaker, a brilliant counselor, and a charming personality. I had exploited the pay-off to my conversion to its maximum effect. But in my moments of reflection I wrestled - not with how to better share Jesus with my flock - but with the nagging inconsistencies of the gospel, the ragged edges of religion and the fact that I really did not believe what I said I believed....

    I have since acquired a more expansive view of "debunking Christianity." Things like: lack of historic evidence, internal inconsistencies in the authoritative document (the Bible - duh!), no sound arguments of proof, being honest about mythological and anthropological origins of the gospel narratives (and indeed the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament).

    But, the truth is, I converted - not deconverted. I converted to intellectual honesty. I came out of the closet and admitted...I don't believe this, and I have reasons.

    Gee, sure is funny how many of these sorts spend so much time lying to themselves but now want us to believe how "honest" they are. Eatin' Crow also won for this:

    Faith. That is what it all comes down to.

    In seminary, we learned about "the teleological gap." Or, as Kierkegaard called it, the "existential break." You know...that moat that surrounds the castle of ultimate knowledge. You can go so far, and further you cannot go. Christians have created a drawbridge, and they call it "faith." It is a long, long bridge. It requires turning off the critical faculty at a very early stage in the journey. How did we get here? God created. What is our purpose? God decides. How do you know? Faith.

    For Christians, the existential break is a ditch that is a wall. Faith, the drawbridge that seems to so wonderfully cross the gap, is actually a delusion. It is, instead, a wall. It so thoroughly and completely stops the forward motion of learning, understanding, expanding and adapting that it is in essence a form of death.

    The vast majority of Christians that I know, who are proudly walking across the drawbridge of faith, are also becoming closed-minded, literalist, and judgmental. They quickly skew to conservative; they believe that they have the corner on morality (an atheist or agnostic cannot be moral, can they?) and they gravitate towards David Chilton and theocracy...how else can we keep the favor of God on our country unless we establish a theocratic government?

    Why? Because they have turned off their rational mind, and are now in the monstrous grip of "faith." For some, faith meant that they could pray and find a parking lot at the mall, or cause a bible to float in the air. Faith is delusional, by its very nature. I heard Christian apologists say "faith is knowing something that you cannot see." Delusional.

    Loftus Bootlicker Matthew Green picks up the Golden Mouth Foam Award, for his latest exercise in futility against TIF, and these comments:

    This should create a snowball effect for the rest of his essay, and, indeed, his book. If his argument about the shame of crucifixion is answerable, as I think it is, then that wouldn't exactly inspire confidence that the rest of his essay can contain any strong proofs. In fact, I hope to submit the complete rebuttal essay, hopefully by the end of this year, perhaps around Christmas. I am going to be spending one last Christmas with my family and so having time off from school while I wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail might be the best time to compose it. ****, I might even submit it on Christmas Day, with a personal note to Mr. Hominid wishing him and his wife a miserable holiday experience. I don't like being particularly nasty but Hominid is the one exception I am willing to grant so far. I also don't like it when other atheists are really nasty to Christians although I will always make an exception to Tekton and its fans. I just don't care if atheists are nasty to these people; I am convinced that these people are utter slimeballs and idiots. So if anyone from the blog "Debunking Christianity" is nasty towards Tekton and it's fans, I really don't care! ***, if anything, I would admonish them to hit these people where it hurts and be as nasty as they can. I believe Tekton has utterly brought it upon themselves and if Christians want to associate with this guy and become buddies, they deserve any kind of shame, abuse, and flogging a skeptical atheist may have to offer.
    Actually it wouldn't surprise me in the least of the Southern Baptist Convention endorsed pedophilia; from what I have read on the subject, the Convention was originally founded to support slavery in the south and so it wouldn't surprise me if Southern Baptists, being the slime of America I consider them to be, endorsed pedophilia.

    I think someone needs to see their psychotherapist, and FAST!

    DJ's Useful Idiot "Joseph" wins Gold -- especially since he claims he was once a pastor:

    As a pastor, I often made reference in my sermons to the "astounding prophecies of the Bible," which I believed proved the deity of Christ and the divine inspiration of Scripture beyond a reasonable doubt. It was my sincere conviction that if an unbeliever examined, for example, the Messianic prophecies embedded in the Old Testament with an open mind, he would walk away a convert to Christ....

    For decades, I accepted this standard defense of the Christian faith without question. It was not until a Bible class earlier this year that serious doubts about the Messianic prophecies began to bubble to the surface. I was teaching through John's Gospel, verse by verse, when the class came to chapter 19 and verse 36 ("These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: Not one of his bones will be broken"). Someone asked me about the original prophecy, so I followed my index finger to the handy-dandy cross reference and arrived at Psalm 34:20. Ah, here I would be able to show the class one of the "astounding" prophecies of Scripture that "proves beyond a doubt" that Jesus was the Christ. What I discovered was, shall we say, underwhelming:

    19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

    20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

    This is certainly an inspiring verse of Scripture, but you would have to be a fool to take it as a prophecy of the Messiah. I was left in the truly awkward position of explaining to the class why John took a verse like this and wrenched it so violently from its original context (something I've preached against for years).

    As we went along, I noticed other misquoted passages the Gospel writer applied to Jesus. I was quite embarrassed--not for myself, but for the apostle John! This got me to wondering--how many other claims of prophetic fulfillment are not just a little bit off, but way off?

    Hey Joseph....let me give you a little hint...you're, uh, STUPID. Try a book called Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period by Longenecker to start. Then learn a little more about what Malina and Neyrey call "probabilities" -- you'll find them explained in a book called Portraits of Paul. It's a lot harder than Josh McDowell, so put your thinking cap on after you take your dunce cap off. By the way, someone pointed this out to him, and naturally, since it caught him flat footed, "Joseph" went into rant mode:

    Are you saying the hermeneutics used by many rabbis of that era were SOUND? I can show you many examples of ridiculous and speculative interpretations by ancient rabbis that will make you laugh. You know full well that Jesus was a critic of the way Pharisees and teachers of the law mis-interpreted and mis-applied Scripture. Just because it was done doesn't mean it was done right. Peter spoke of those who "twist the Scriptures to their own destruction," did he not? Regardless of what hermeneutic was used, Matthew clearly took verses out of context and applied them to Jesus in a manner that just does not hold up under closer scrutiny. Further evidence of this, as Bro Crow pointed out, is that the Jews remain unconvinced by Matthew's case for a Messianic Jesus. Either they are hopelessly blinded by Satan or they know something we don't!

    You see, what "Joseph" does here is simply re-assert that the modern, literalist hermeneutic is the "correct" one....news flash: The system was sound whether it was used by the rabbis or by the Christians or by the Essenes....it had rules and methods. The issue is whether their conclusions were valid, not the methods....

    In the end, I'm a big advocate for common sense. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Bible wasn't written for pointy headed intellectuals who would have to study for years to figure out what the writers were "really" trying to say. It was written for the common person to give her reasons to believe in Jesus (John 20:30-31).
    Thankfully we do have the aid of modern scholarship to help us understand more about the life and times of the Biblical writers. Nevertheless, our most reliable tool for interpreting scripture is still common sense. With a good translation of the Bible in hand and a few basic reference tools, you or I should be able to read Matthew and John's Gospels and determine whether we have enough information to make an informed decision for Christ.

    Okay...whew...had to stop laughing there....He also rants about Matthew 2:23and Is. 7:14, issues Glenn Miller has taken on and rendered harmless already, and the only bit about Matthew 2:16 being ahistorical, which I have handled.

    No doubt, I will hear from outraged Christians who cannot understand how a minister so in-tune with the Bible, from a conservative Christian denomination, can question these prophecies. Well, please understand that there are fair-minded, rational people out there who do have trouble with them. The man whose question sparked this search was not a skeptic, but a respected deacon of my church.

    That having been said, I'm interested in what Christians perusing this forum see as so irrefutable about the so-called Messianic prophecies about Jesus. If the standard for prophecy is 100% accuracy-no misses-then (as Ricky Ricardo would say) "someone's got some 'splaining to do!"

    Yeah, "Joseph" someone does....YOU! How can someone have been a pastor and yet have been so incompetent?

    Loftus' Useful Idiot Craig Duckett wins Gold for having his brain stuck in Park, per this:

    Most people don't think about the abstractive and assumptive properties inherent in language although both are constantly used in day-to-day interaction. This is best demonstrated by an example. Consider the sentence:

    The Dog Chased the Ball into the Street and Got Hit by a Car.

    If you're like most people, the sentence above makes perfect sense to you. You know precisely what it means. You can imagine it, almost picture it in your mind's eye. But how? Every element of this sentence is completely abstract.

    - I say "dog" but you've been given no description of the breed of dog or its size, whether it is a small Boston Terrier or a large Doberman Pinscher, or sleek or fat, or old or young. You have a fuzzy nebulous "feeling" for the idea of "dog" even though you know nothing about the animal in question beyond the word.

    - I say "ball" but you've been given no description of the ball regarding it's type or size, whether it was rolling, bouncing, or flying through the air. It could just as easily be a tennis ball as a basket ball, or any other type of ball a dog is apt to chase.

    - I say "street" and once again you know nothing about the type of street, its size, or the materials used in its construction.

    - I say "car" and know nothing about its make or model, size or shape, color or speed.

    What makes this kind of abstraction possible is your awareness of having actually had physical interaction with specific dogs and balls and streets and cars. You can conceptualize based on this interaction and thus infer the meaning from a broad abstract sentence like "The dog chased the ball into the street and got hit by a car."

    Now, here's the kicker:

    When it comes to supernatural religion it may be surprising to most believers to consider the simple fact that religion is all talk, only talk, and nothing but talk. Supernatural religion consists only of words, an ancient collection of words mostly recounted in anonymous third-person narratives (a fictional technique or unwarranted hearsay), and that's it. Because supernatural religion is comprised only of words, there's nothing empirical, physical, nothing of substance that you can point to besides art (derived from the word artifice or artificial) in any of its aspects: literature, poetry, music, painting, sculpture, theater, motion pictures, television, etc.

    So, when believers talk about the "Will of God" or say things like "God is Love" or "God is Omnipotent and Omniscient" or ask "What Would Jesus Do?" not only are they utilizing a generic abstraction (like using the words 'dog', 'street', and 'ball') they are using an abstraction twice-removed because they are inferring God's godliness only from the artifice of words and not from any actual associations in the 'real' world. Ask a believer to describe "God" and to drill down to the particulars (as with the description of "dog") and you will be handed a list of generic abstract terms that are by themselves quite meaningless until they are weighed against 'real' properties that exist in the physical world.

    I'd comment, but I have no idea what he means -- he used words.

    The last question this is: Is Loftus starting an Idiot Collection on his blog?

    The Assorted Atheist Collection

    There is also a comment from a Jesus Mythist called soulinite, who explains why archeaology supports the Biblle:

    It's also worth noting that the isreal antiquities commity has a very bad reputation for supressing discoveries that contradict the bible/torah. This is why only 5 of the 200 or so dead sea scrolls have been made public.

    Realist, a reviewer of Strobel's The Case for the Real Jesus, wins Gold, as does Zeluvia for this exchange:

    Zeluvia: For me, taking the word of a 2000 year old book that has been edited and redacted with no clear chain of evidence and no clear authorship as eyewitness testimony is not rational.

    Mountain Man: And I suppose you think this is an accurate description of the Bible. I almost want to start a new thread just to disassemble all the nonsense contained in that one sentence, but for the purposes of this thread, I'll simply note that the chain of evidence regarding the Bible's accuracy and authorship is at least as good as--and in some cases better than--that which exists for the writings of Tacitus and Josephus.

    Zeluvia: That's okay, all ancient writings are exactly that, ancient. I still don't see a rational reason to believe the evidence, when all you have claimed to be able to is show other ancient writings to be just as suspect.

    Screwball nomination for several skeptics asked if they believe Jesus' tomb was empty:

    John Powell: I'm a Jesus myther so I believe Jesus was not a historical person. I ignored the part about Flemming proving anything.

    Zeluvia: I am not sure there was a Jesus or a tomb...no one has "proven" anything one way or another to my satisfaction.

    Carpedm9587: I can't respond to this poll. The only option I would vote for is not there. We don't have enough of a basis to claim we know whether or not the tomb was empty, and if it was, to know why it was empty. I do, however, believe Jesus of Nazareth existed.

    freethinker: Jesus never existed but not because of Flemming (whoever he is).The New Reformation is going into this direction already. The next reformation will do away with the myth.

    drachronicler wins Gold for this:

    That [Yahweh] is a dragon? Of course I can, Here's a couple. Just google "Yaw dragon" and "Yam dragon" (the name later changed to Yam), and you will find dozens more. EVERY book on ancient near eastern mythology says this.

    "Yam is the deity of the primordial chaos and represents the power of the sea untamed and raging; he is seen as ruling tempests and the disasters they wreak. The gods cast out Yam from the heavenly mountain Sappan (modern Jebel Aqra; "Sappan" is cognate to Tsephon (Tsion). The seven-headed dragon Lotan is associated closely with him and the serpent is frequently used to describe him". - Wikipedia

    "According to some, Yam was also called Ya'a or Yaw. Damaged text in KTU 1.2 iv has been interpreted by Mark S. Smith as describing a renaming of Yam from an original name Yaw [1]. The resemblance of the latter to the Tetragrammaton YHWH led to speculation over a possible connection between Yam and God of the Hebrew Bibl"e - Wikipedia

    Yahu , Yah , Yam , or Yaw is the name of the Levantine god of chaos and mass-destruction, and in some myths he is one of the 'ilhm ( Els ) or sons of El. Yaw represents the devastating power of the untamed sea and the serpent is frequently used to describe him. His palace is in the abyss associated with the depths of the sea. http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~nelc/mythology.htm

    Amnouy wins for this:

    Theism is flourishing ONLY in the most ignorant, undereducated places on Earth, such as Africa. With the exception of fundy ghettos in the USA theism is in decline in the educated west. The conclusion is inescapable. The better educated the people the greater the strength of atheism. 80% atheism in Scandinavia and many European countries have atheism of around the 40%, 50% 60%, 70% and increasing!

    In my country, Australia, the churches are empty on Sundays. The exception being pockets of Pentecostals, which, as if often the case with such churches, have recently been hit by a series of financial and sexual scandals. Typical!

    As a reader who went to the Mensa website noted, though, the stats for membership are 49% Christian, 3% Unitarian, 9% Jewish, 7% agnostic, 3.6% atheist, 9% no religion. (Gold to Gnosisquest, who answered this by claiming that Christians falsify statistics.) Gold also to Paul Jacobsen for his response to Mike Licona in CFRJ, which includes such boners as:

    Jesus taught his followers to live an ascetic lifestyle and I've seen very few Christians do that. How many Christians follow these commands:

    You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. [Matt 5:38-42 NIV]I've never seen any Christian follow these commands, so where does Licona get off suggesting that some nonbelievers "don't want to be constrained by the traditional Jesus"? If he hands over 100% of his money (retirement accounts, savings, book revenue, etc.) over to the hungry and converts to an ascetic lifestyle, then maybe he will be in a position to say that. Until that happens, he can kiss off.

    Gold also for "Fightingistheonlyway":

    "Satan is more loving than God" Isnt it funny how it seems like satan loves us more than god does? He accepts us to his realm way faster than god, and he does not discriminate against what beliefs you have or dont have. He doesnt care if your black (slaves), jewish (WW2), muslim (crusades), a wiccan (1600's), pagan (start of Christianity) etc etc... he accepts everyone!
    Other Assorted Nuts

    We nominate Osama Bin Laden for a possible Platinum, for asking (or rather, demanding) Americans to embrace Islam in order to end the Iraq war. Gold also to someone on a forum, who when told that that "you still need to do the exegetical work to defend your claim that something (whatever it is) is a metaphor," responded that "Exegesis proves nothing."

    A double-nomination for Theolog for confusing Replacement Theology with Dispensationalism, and thinking the former teaches that Christianity will be replaced by Judaism.

    Sweden's ex-archbishop K G Hammar for a Screwball wins Gold because, first, he approved of the Ecce Homo show in Stockholm which showcased his supposed Lord in various homosexual and/or homoerotic situations. Secondly, for Hammar critizising the God of the Bible - saying that He is in some places showed as being bloodthirsty and savage - but along the way imagines his own sweet-fluffy god; and praising a secular author who recently wrote a book in which Jesus was portrayed as a tale or messiah-myth for having such a "knowledge of the Bible"!

    Jollyrasta wins Gold for a lot, but mainly this comment:

    There are no 'paleographical experts' , only dogmatists seeking to ignore mounting scholarship.

    And, Gold for David Stump, reviewer of The Jesus Legend on Amazon, who says such things to me as:

    I would like to clear some things up here, first, I am not a skeptic of the new test. Jesus. I am a moderate along the lines of James Dunn (not in total agreement with him though) and Raymond Brown for instance. okay, these guys aren't fundamentalists, but they do uphold the reality of the new test. Jesus and the importance thereof. I have a problem with Boyd's book because it is merely an attempt at beating the opposing views down, these types of approaches are reactive, defensive and quite poor at bridging the gaps between skeptics and believers. granted that is the purpose of their book, but then it shouldn't be attempted to be passed off as a cool collective work on the historical Jesus issue. I bought the book thinking I was getting a treatise on the facts behind the issues, but instead it was a typical conservative attempt to beat up the skeptics. the title should be more reflective of what the book's aim and content really is, something along the lines of - Trying to Showdown Robert Price and Similar Views. Compare the nature of James Dunn's writngs on the Jesus issue for instance in his book Jesus Remembered or The Evidence for Jesus. He upholds (for the most part) the new test. gospels and Jesus, but he doesn't just polemically attempt to bully up on the naysayers as is often in Boyd's work. in reading Boyd it is clear that he is more interested in constantly trying to disprove naysayers rather than just stating "facts" and letting the facts speak for themselves. People are generally smart enough to see through the faulty points of the skeptics if given the facts, christians don't need anymore apologetics books trying to beat down the naysayers. Just give the public some good factual, expostions of the facts. I, and many conservative christians I know, are tired of combative apologetics works.

    the type of book it is, this is relevant. it does matter what kind of a book a book is. many would be buyers are interested in knowing the type of book- is it polemical in nature or is it more factual for instance. this is important to many people.

    what feeling one gets is relevant. "facts" in relation to human knowing and persuasion do intertwine with feeling, especially in a large book wherein a case is trying to be made for something. I agree that feeling shouldn't control the facts, but to dismiss feeling is unrealistic, if you are human, you will have feeling of some sort or another when reading a book, it will have some sort of "feel" to it as you read it. some potential buyers might be interested to know what "feel" for the book a reader had. (subjective though this may be I realize)

    as far as what matters is whether or not the facts are straight- well duh! of course the facts being straight or not matters most. but again, facts can come across in different ways to different people depending on the type of feeling given off by the way the facts are presented. sometimes if facts are stated in a polemical way, this might give some the impression that the facts are a little less factual and maybe a little more defensive. maybe this is not so with you, but it is so with others (not just me, but others that I know personally, some are conservative scholars). when it comes to the facts, it is naive to think that all of the "facts" in this book are straightforward facts. there is alot of interpreting going on in the facts. proof of this- Robert Price (a bona fide scholar himself) knows all the same info that Boyd does, and yet Price contends that he would dispute almost every point in their book. (Not that I agree with Price, I don't) I'm just saying here that since two qualified scholars understand the info (the "facts") differently, there is obviously interpretation of the facts going on.

    as far as the militant tone thing, well, I'm sorry but the way they dispute the naysayers in the book is more heated rather than calm exposition. that there is some of this in journals of biblical scholarship is true, but this doesn't make it any better there either. there is also plenty of biblical journaling that is not like this.

    has it occured to me that they quickly dismiss some views because those views deserve it you ask? no, uh gee, I never thought of that! of course I did. but again, dismissing a view quickly is poor scholarship, especially on something as weighty as the Jesus issue. if someone is going to write a lengty book of hundreds of pages claiming to refute opposite views, then it should avoid quick, knee jerk dismissals of those views. sometimes their book does just this and in a book of hundreds of pages long claiming as much as the authors do for their case, it's a bit of a let down to see them sometimes quickly dismiss the views of other bona fide scholars.

    as far as showing why the authors do or don't do this or that, yeah, sure I could, and I probably should do so in my review if that's what I think, but to be honest I didn't want to waste anymore time on the book and I can't belive I have already wasted this much time with this response. anyways, my guess is (and I am only guessing so I might be wrong) but my guess is that you are a believer in the infallible word of God concept and that the new test. presents a straightforward literally true, historically exacting accurate picture of Jesus and that you get ruffled when someone dares to find wanting books attempting to defend similar views. [try reading some of John Loftus's book, Why I Rejected Christianity, to see if there might be some points you have never considered. (by the way I don't agree with Loftus on many many points, but it's worth learning the other side of the issues otherwise one isn't really educated on the issues are they?)

    For instance the typical claim is made about there being 5000+ manuscripts of evidence for the new testament writings. But it's not mentioned that only a minority of these are within at least 200 years of the originals and that many of those are fragments of small or medium size. I find this to be a typical conservative move- the high numbers of ancient manuscripts are mentioned, supposedly showing the wealth of manuscript evidence, but it's not made clear that most of these are from 4,5, or 6 centuries later than the originals. Now this does not disprove the preservation of the new test. writings, but it is an important bit of facts when considering the manuscript evidence issue. There is also some rhetoric involved when they present the facts. For instance when they discuss the time gap between the original new test. writings and the earliest available manuscripts, they say that this gap is impressive for it's brevity. Well, saying something is impressive is subjective. The time gap may not be impressive for some. Some might argue that given the weighty claims of the new testament, the time gap isn't impressive enough.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0p_HPiOmBU&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fatheismsucks%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpZ5xfuxTig

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbay-nPxxfI

    http://english.hidden-advent.org/home.php

    http://www.theisticsatanism.com/

    http://www.james-dave.com/faq.html

    http://fulfilledprophecy.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=30664

    WhiteH2OWoman:

    "This week I have been posting the words that the Most High God has given me. I have told how I discovered on September 3, 2007, that my grandfather was Jewish, how his name was Settegast, how it sounds most like Issachar, which God revealed to me as my tribe."

    "That sea tribe that Issachar came from was originally called "Sheckelesh." Sound like "Settegast," doesn't it? (See Rev. 7:7,where I am mentioned with my group..."12,000 from the tribe of Issachar.) I am one of the 144,000 Jews."

    "Please don't waste time praying for me--I am under God's supernatural protection."

    "If you have time, you can pray for my husband, my family, my friends, and neighbors, as the Lord has made me aware (just yesterday) that they are NOT under supernatural protection...just me. Humans cannot hurt or kill me, including the AC, but they can hurt my family,

    friends, neighbors and others. "

    http://www.physorg.com/news105869123.html

    http://www1.freewebs.com/av1611games/

    http://biblicalfallacies.blogspot.com

    A Screwball for an anonymous comment on a (not a screwbal) blog:

    Yeah, Kent [Hovind] is in prison just like all those other criminals were sent to prison like: Peter, Paul, Timothy, John, etc...he is in good company I'd say. You may want to take a look at your own salvation and check and see if you are truly a biblical christian. A good barometer to measure it by, is to see how the world likes you. Are you being persecuted, jailed, talked bad about in the worldly newspapers, or the TV news. I think not. What seperates you from the world. They accept you as one of their own. there is little difference between you and the world. Now, Kent is as a different story altogether.

    And, finally, for Lynn Paddock:

    A few years ago, Lynn Paddock sought Christian advice on how to discipline her growing brood of adopted children.Paddock -- a Johnston County mother accused of murdering Sean, her 4-year-old adopted son, and beating two other adopted children -- surfed the Internet, said her attorney, Michael Reece. She found literature by an evangelical minister and his wife who recommended using plumbing supply lines to spank misbehaving children.

    Paddock ordered Michael and Debi Pearl's books and started spanking her adopted children as suggested. After Sean, the youngest of Paddock's six adopted children, died last month, his older sister and brother told investigators about Paddock's spankings.

    Sean's 9-year-old brother was beaten so badly he limped, a prosecutor said. Bruises marred Sean's backside, too, doctors found.

    Sean died after being wrapped so tightly in blankets he suffocated. That, too, was a form of punishment, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said.