See the whole collection for September here...and see the

From the Mailbag

This one came under the subject line, "Dan Barker":

Would DEMOLISH you in a debate!

And if I did not lose my temper when talking to Programmed Religious Robots like you, I would demolish you as well.

Here's one though that may win Platinum:

hello [delted] stupid [deleted]

your site is crap. if you type tekton into google it isn't even near the top of websites its so [deleted]. I saw your illogical article on religulous (you spelt it wrong in the title of the article.) I then saw this [deleted] argument:

The word for "jealousy" in Joshua used less than half a dozen times in the OT, and always is used to describe God. Nowhere is this word described as a sin.

Well, lets see shall we:

1 John 4:8 -"God is love."

1 Corinthians 13:4 -"Love is not jealous."

Exodus 20:5 -"I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God."

If i were you i'd give up apologetics or go away and teach yourself logic.

Religulous fans also graced us with this:

Maher is incredibly funny. My problem with the Buy-Bull is the disturbing misogyny...I was a True-Christian and became an atheist after leaving the cult. I ditched Jesus somewhere between Brownsville, TX and Matamoros, Mexico. I have never looked back. My way of coping with the havoc that Christian brainwashing brought into my life is through humor. I think decontextualizing "Jesus" is hilarious and takes away the sting, the poison. Christians are the most dour lot. Jesus is not only magic, He's one hell of a funny character.

From the shorter yet Christian side, I had this:

You are jealous of Joel Osteen. Nothing else to say!

And this from the longer side of Christianity, in the universalism department:

Howdy. I found the article "Devil's Advocate" to be disingenuous at best. I assume you already know it is; I just wanted you to know I thought so too. I mean, really -- you blowing-off the translation of several important words, from which flow key concepts, is quite absurd. Do you not want to know the truth? I have read much on your site, and I really do expect better from you.

Can you please direct me to the article, which apparently appears somewhere on your site, in which you recast the common-but-incorrect teaching of hell as a place of eternal torture, as a novel-yet-incorrect teaching of hell as a place of eternal shame? I think you likely contradict the clear teaching of the Scripture, based on the presupposition of man's nonexistent free will, combined with a new-fangled idea on hell, replacing "torture" for the "torment" of "shame" or something. I assume you believe man has free will, and that Christ is incompetent to save the vast majority of Man, or of any given man?

We both know our Bible. Let's not engage in a verse-quoting tit-for-tat. All who are saved are saved by Christ, and it is His doing, and it is Him doing His Father's Will, and the thought or desire of any man cannot either ratify or nullify His Work in that man's life. Bible is clear on three harvests in the land, the firstfruits, barley and grape harvests, and their spiritual parallels. Father loves His enemies, and His judgments on them are corrective in nature, not punitive. Sodom will be restored to her former estate.

PLEASE, please, please -- reevaluate the doctrine of the Restitution of All Things with an open mind, guided by the Scripture and Spirit.

Then, finally:

Respectfully suggest that you edit your piece on Mithraism to delete attempts at humor.

Such abuse of humor is simply not academically proper or defensible.

In the absense of Christianity, the religion of Mithra doubtless gave healthy direction to many persons.

Had you lived during that period of history, what religion might you have practiced?

Don't tell that to Joel Osteen...

The September 2008 John Loftus Collection

Loftus himself has been very quiet lately, apparently because he was too busy copying from his blog and TWeb threads into his new book. But he did manage to win by cheapening the lives of victims of the WTC bombing with this one on 9/11 this year:

This is the date seven years ago that Sam Harris started writing his book, The End of Faith. At least something good came from that horrible and despicable cowardly act of terrorism.

Meanwhile, Ed "I'm Talking and I Can't Shut Up" Babinski wins for this comment:

Moreover, in Paul's letters, our earliest sources in the N.T., the talk about "the Lord's coming" wasn't particularly well connected with the destruction of Jerusalem, nor was talk about the coming of the Lord linked to warnings to flee from Jerusalem.

Um, gee, that's just what people in places like Thessalonoica and Corinth would need -- warnings to flee Jerusalem.

Evan of DC wins Gold, especially for using arguments from Richard Carrier I refuted.

Loftusling Geoff Hudson wins for this enlightening comment:

And I am not convinced that Saul of Tarsus, or Paul ever existed. He was without father or mother and end of days. His character was created to solve the problem of creating an early mission to Gentiles in what were originally prophetic documents written entirely in a Jewish context. The original prophetic documents made no mention of Jesus. All text related to Jesus is later, mostly obvious, interpolation, or is expansion for the fictitious mission to Gentiles. I have no doubt that 'Saul', as distinct from Paul, was based of a real historical character who opposed the prophets, namely Ananus the high priest and destroyer of the real James.
The Assorted Atheist Collection

Ken_1969 earned a Platinum n00b nomination for 2008 for general misbehavior and resurrection of stale canards. Sample:

So, I would like to lay some ground rules for my discussion if you don't mind - I am happy to discuss these ground rules in order to get to where I need to be, before we get into the "meat" of my investigations.

1) Christians only to answer (for Esther's benefit, not mine), although I am happy for atheists / agnostics / others to chip in if they can enrich the discussion BUT with the following caveat : -

2) Only reply if you are over 35, again with the following caveat : -

3) UNLESS you genuinely feel you have some special claim to expertise - ie I very much welcome those under 35 who are scholars in the field of theology, classical civilisations, archaeology or any other related / relevant field.

4) Now, it's not going to be relevant at this stage as I don't think I'm asking any difficult questions here, but I want to use a consistent set of ground rules on all my posts. After some research on the author I am completely unwilling to accept the authority of anything on

Spirit5er goes for Platinum as well for a lot of stuff, but mainly his JPHOCD, as illustrated here:

The real reason you don't orally debate is you are nowhere near as "expert" in biblical studies as you loudly trumpet to the world.

The only time you are an expert is when you have access to logos bible software, google, interlibrary loan materials, and are then given three days to use them. After you carefully check everything, you then write like an ego-maniac who always knew the answer, assuring himself of a win by constantly belittling the opposition just like little bully kids do on school playgrounds everywhere, signifying to the mature people what terrible insecurity issues they must have, or how much they get beaten at home.

Is that it, Holding? Does your wife beat you? Does she spend all your doner's tithes at the mall before you have a chance to buy the latest videogame and pay the mortgage? Wow, I didn't know you could get a mortgage on a U-Haul.

There is no denying it Holding: your constant use of insulting rhetoric in your responses to bible critics cannot be conveniently labled "style". You are a very angry, depressed, anxiety-ridden person who uses Christianity to help vent his irrational anger, nothing more. I just found out that you made a statement several years ago that you personally don't care if the bible is the inspired word of God or not, so that your gargantuan efforts to "defend biblical inerrancy" were all in the name of finding a way to beat up other people and had nothing to do with your personal convictions whatsoever. Better break out that "I-was-just-being-saracastic" excuse again, you're gonna need it to back out of that blooper. Christianity and bible inerrancy provide you with a way to hurt anything and everything that doesn't see things your way, I compliment you for your good choice, since Christianity is perfect for anybody looking to get involved in never-ending debates about things that people haven't agreed on for more than 20 centuries. Trouble is, most of the hurt comes from your insults and not from your actual arguments...exactly the case with schoolyard bullies. And exactly like a schoolyard bully, you fail the acid test of your true abilities, which is why you prefer to stay in a format where your bark can never be proven worse than your bite. What's still so funny is that the reason you gave for avoiding oral debate is all the reason to DO oral debate. You'd get enormous advantage in front of an audience full of critical thinking Christians, if your skeptic opponent started playing a "sound-byte" game. Or maybe you just don't have any confidence that the Christians viewing the debate would have enough critical-thinking skills to detect the errors of the skeptic?


why are you enforcing your morality on others? Even if I had insulted JP's wife, I wouldn't apologize. Tweb is the bottom of the barrel for apologetics dialogue, how dare you try to infuse this place with morality. Your other savior Holding has already indicated homosexual S&M fantasies, and you ask atheists to have morality?


It's actually the reason I want to debate Holding orally in person. If his articles are any indication of his scholarship, I could very easily win the crowd over to my side by pointing out how often he engages in the fallacy of argument-by-authority.

Since it's only the arguments themselves that get us anywhere, the scholars who employ the arguments are irrelvent.

The only reason to quote a scholar in a debate is to refute the allegation that your position is totally absurd. If you can find properly qualified experts who agree with you, then your opponent is most likely wrong to accuse you of absurdity, but that's the most scholarly quotations can accomplish.

Holding does not quote authorities to demonstrate that his position is within normal parameters, he thinks the debate has been called in his favor as soon as he cites a quotation from a scholar who agrees with him, and this is pushing the resource too far.

He knows better than to go it alone. If he could actually do apologetics without backing up a Uhaul to the local seminary's library, a loudmouth like him would be supremely happy to do an oral debate.

...a doctoral thesis is not a test, genius. I was talking about TESTING Holding's true level of biblical knowledge. An oral debate would be perfect to perform standard classroom-type tests of his knowledge, but Holding will have none of it.

What now, do I have to educate everybody here on how Jesus' sermon on the mount demonstrates that the ancient semitic mind viewed love, gentleness and meekness nearly exactly the way we do?

You'd have to have down syndrome to be unable, in the age of bible software, computers and Google, to write a good research paper on any biblical subject. Any dufus can write a good research paper if they are given enough time and resources, like Holding and his three days to post answers to internet-based criticisms.

Brian37 advances the best argument for the Jesus myth:

So you claim that a man named Jesus existed? BIG DEAL, my name is Brian but that doesn't mean I can fart a Lamborginni out of my [butt].

Derrick Bennett wins for this analogy:

As I see it, Christianity began with what Dr. Price refers to as the "Jesus-martyr cult". In other words, Jesus, a messianic hopeful from the line of David, became a martyr once he was executed by the Romans for sedition. Hope and belief in his resurrection originated in a purely Jewish context -- that God would miraculously raise him from the dead so that the Messianic Age could commence. Once this movement came into the hands of Hellenized Diaspora Jews and God-Fearers, it took on new significance and meaning as the pre-existing ideology of the mystery cults became intertwined with the originally Jewish movement. This would only have been natural given the syncretizing tendencies in that period.

Think of what happens when traditional meals from other countries enter America. We usually give it our own twist and Americanized style. The same sociological principles would have been at work then.

Francis wins for this comment:

Antonia Fraser's "Royal Charles" about England's "merry monarch," Charles II, who took over when they joyfully got rid of Puritan dominance. I want to learn how they bounced back from fundamentalist rule to evolve into a modern constitutional democracy of free people.

The Iron Chariots Wiki wins for this comment:

The translators, historians and Biblical scholars in all camps have launched attacks and provided apologetic defenses for the competing positions.

The net result of this "Bible Bickering" is a wealth of information which clearly casts doubt on all versions and demonstrates that all claims of authority are religious opinions that cannot be supported by empirical evidence.

Nutty atheist William Harwood wins for his non-review of my book:

nickcopernicus takes Gold for this social commentary:

How's this: We're a "Christian Nation." As good Christians, we know that sex before marriage is evil, therefore every Christian or the vast majority of America should be committed to abstinence before marriage. ....

Oops! How about; we're a "hypoChristian Nation?"

Donít worry Frogwarrior, youíll join the ranks of non-virgin-before-marriage soon enough... Statistically speaking of course.

Dumplin' Dumbash of Evangelical Realism takes the usual Gold:

The most common approach is to present one or more Bible passages in a context that mentions the new idea. Because "understanding" means creating relationships between facts and our pre-existing understanding, you can often create a new understanding just by juxtaposing the idea you want to present alongside the Bible passage you want to attach your interpretation to. One example would be the Catholic use of Matt. 16:18 as a scriptural justification for the papacy: Jesus says nothing about church hierarchy, or perpetual offices, or apostolic succession, but because Catholics interpret the verse as being a reference to Peter as the first Pope, voilŗ, we have papacy in the Bible.

Holding is doing the same thing with his "patronage" reinterpretation of Biblical faith...

The key to re-casting the meaning of Scripture is that your new interpretation must solve some problem that the text itself leaves unresolved. (Fortunately thereís no shortage of those!) Itís not enough to simply present your interpretation alongside the Bible verses you wish to "infect" with your new understanding (though it can be done if you preach it from the pulpit until it becomes subliminal). To really drive in your new meaning, youíll want to make it sound like it explains something that has been bothering people.

...Not only does God fail to show up in real life personally, He fails to interact with the real world in any kind of tangible way, even when believers ask in faith for things that are both reasonable and according to what the Bible presents as being Godís will. Thatís a problem for thoughtful believers, and thatís what makes the "patronage" answer so appealing to Holding. The original Gospel is inconsistent with what we see in the real world, so Holding adopts "patronage" as a conceptual patch to try and cover up the holes.

Holdingís discussion of faith gives us a good illustration of how theologians can build themselves a complex and insular mental framework that emphasizes detail at the expense of consistency with the bigger picture and the real world. It also demonstrates how Christians use artificial interpretational contexts to reframe the Scriptures in an attempt to fix some of the problems with the Gospel. These attempts invariably fail, however, because they are rooted in the things men say about the things men have said about God, rather than being rooted in the real world.

And this, on scholarship and study:

The ultimate test for accuracy is not whether the story can be made consistent with years of scholarly arguments by those intent on defending the story, but whether or not the story is consistent with real-world truth.

But this takes the cake for bigotry:

Concerning Hitler, for example, Vox alludes briefly to the fact that some writers see a link between Christianity and the German death camps, but avoids any overt mention of Lutherís notorious anti-Semitism or the role of the German churches in helping to foster a general attitude of antipathy and suspicion towards Jews (and atheists, homosexuals, and other minorities as well). While it would be nice to say that these things are mere cultural and even secular manifestations, one does not need to skim very far through the New Testament before one discovers a certain deeply-rooted and enduring animosity between those who followed Jesus and those who (the Bible tells us) rejected him. Nor can it be denied that historic Judaism, rooted in the Old Testament, is a large part of what gave the Jews their distinctive, exclusionary ethnic identity. While many secular and political factors were also involved, one cannot reasonably deny that, in the Nazi concentration camps, the chasm between guards and prisoners was a canyon eroded away by centuries of religious tradition.

Wow. What a polite way to say that the Jews got what was coming to them in the Holocaust, Dumplin'.

His fans win some, too:

jim: One of your best pieces to date, IMO. There are so many layers of convolution involved in apologetics, itís easy to lose track of the bouncing ball, sometimes. I truly believe this is why a lot of these guys seem to prefer the live debate format- polished rhetorical talking points while skipping over the details is their best chance to Ďwiní an argument (at least, itís sufficient to appease the cheering section). Your alternative approach i.e. reason and honesty, whilst less razzle-dazzly, is much appreciated here. Keep it up!

arthur (the man who wants Wikipedia to explain it all): You know, I tried to read that article during my initial search for an explanation of Holding-type patronage. Iím pretty sure I didnít even make it to the "ancient client-patron relationship" part. I like his Dumplin' Dumbash material better. It somehow gives the impression that heís cutting to a sort of chase.

Krensharpaw uses this analogy to try to prove that Paul didn't really write 1 Corinthians:

Also, jsut because something says it was written by someone, does not mean it was. I could say god told me to type this, would you believe me? what about Caption Hook? Also, no you shoulder it. You said you can site peeps, now its up to you to do as such.

And this further on authorship determinations:

migkillertwo,but if its 27 different books by 9 different authers, if one book is bunk, it would bring into question the rest of the books wrote by that auther. How many times does 9 go into 27? Three is the answer. So if one book is bunk, that means two others are.

Zeluvia wins for a statement of the obvious:

You have some ideas that if everyone did what is "right" then society would be perfect.

Penn of Penn and Teller wins for a spiel that ends with this -- the Argument From Jell-O:

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

122nerdbombs explains why God is unfair:

So the difference between whether a person goes to heaven or hell could be that their parents didn't have enough money to buy their children apologetics books, while the children are living in an age of skepticism.

THATS THE MOST MORALLY REPUGNANT RELIGION EVER. People go to hell just because they don't have access to the right apologists, or just weren't convinced enough. Or just though that resurrection was silly. God could make his existence more obvious, but he goes out of his way to seem non-existant.

Other Assorted Nuts

Muslim named mudcake wins the Don Quixote silver medalion of excellence for his impersonation of the Black Knight in Monty Python's "Holy Grail", declaring after his attempted rebuttal of my article on Wisdom... "I'm INVINCIBLE."

Self-labelled heretic John Goddard, on why ministers should not accept pay:

Matthew 10:8Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

It doesn't say, unless you are a rabbi, pastor, priest. Free means free.

And for this inventive Christology as well:

I believe Jesus existed as the son of David and Bathsheba who was killed to pay for David's sin with Uriah, and he is Solomon's older brother.

Then resurrected flesh and spirit inside of the womb of Mary.

saladfingers asks the Silly Inquiry of the Month:

What kind of changes in the whole scheme of things would there be if the Holy Spirit would have been incarnated instead of the Son. Or how about if the Father became incarnated while the Son and the Holy Spirit stayed back

martinezjosei gets Gold for a dispensational dipsy doodle:

The clear, DISTINCT and DIRECT description of military Tanks and Helicopters (Locusts and Horses) in Revelation 9can only indicate that it applies to our times, unless there were such things as Tanks and Helicopters back in John's time.

The clear, DISTINCT and direct description of a nuclear detonation can only indicate that Revelation applies to our final day times. -- Platinum nomination. specifically "DUH" -- Platinum nomination;_ylt=ArcYpkDRrmq7MLMwxAk3vtTd7BR.;_ylv=3?qid=20080920093544AAePZXg

A pastor who claims that Jesus the man was an invention of the Roman Catholic Church at Nicea!