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

From the Mailbag

Not many this round. Here's one:

i appreciated you critical comments about Joseph Campbell, though from what i gather you are so obviously a christian whom felt threatened.

pity, i haven't read the same book you read, you have read a book which hasn't connected you to the mystery of life, the nexus that Campbell relies upon must come from within the reader, if you are not seeing it, it's not because he isn't providing enough 'hard data' or evidence, more likely because you have missed some of his vital points.

you seem critical about Jungs idea of the 'archetypes of the unconscious', the elementary ideas. you say campbell relies on them to much, well that is a good indicator of your lack of depth in understanding. the are just words that describe a pretty basic concept in a way that is easy to communicate. he relies on them to communicate the concept but that doesn't mean he can rely on you understanding the reality of the concept, something you have clearly missed.

christians whom follow thier nmythology by denotation will always butt up against people like Campbell, if you don't know why that is because it is the same reason you are waiting to die to be with god.

I love it when they say I'm "threatened" because I wrote something. Doesn't that mean that his email to me shows he was "threatened" by what I wrote?

The September 2010 John Loftus Collection

Loftus outdid himself this month. He wins an award this time for tactless merchandising of an "Outsider Test" coffee mug. What next? "I Couldn't Understand the 7th Commandment" T-shirts?

John also wins for this statement about his mission:

I do not plan on writing a scholarly journal article (well, maybe one). I'm taking my case to the streets bringing good scholarship to them with everything I write. So in that sense I'm bypassing the scholars. They'll be the last ones to know.

He also says:

I don't think the evidence is there to believe in a three headed eternally existing God who created this particular world and became one of us to die on a cross for our sins in one lone part of the ancient world who bodily resurrected from the grave but was only seen by a few people, thereby forcing the rest of us to take their word on what they saw or spend an eternity in hell because we did not see this event for ourselves since we were born in a different time and place and were taught to think critically based in the modern sciences.

And, he wins for promoting the old "more Christians in prison" canard.

Loftus also wins for irony in egotism:

For discussion. As a Christian I remember wanting people to see Christ in me. I wanted to be like Christ as an advertisement like a billboard for Christ. I was conscious that people were watching me. Of course as a preacher I did live in a so-called glass house.

In any case, Christian, do YOU do that? Are YOU a self-promoter in the sense that you want, desire, hope, and pray that people will see what a good person you are so they can see Christ? "See what a good person I am" you say, or you secretly hope others see it without saying so?

And this stuff about humility. Scrap it. It's worthless stuff. Christian simply do not know what it is. Moses reportedly told everyone he was the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). What a joke. Of course I don't think he wrote that, but some Christians are stuck explaining it away.

Christian, are you more humble than others? Sort of a catch-22 eh?

I see Loftus doesn't understand the concept of LETTING your light shine, rather than actively blinding people with it.

However, Loftus may win his Platinum for this exercise in misguided self-discovery:

The Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) is a New Argument Against Religion -- Yep, I think I have basically come up with a new argument in the history of religious criticism, even if there are a few prototypes of it to be found in the past. You already know the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) that I've proposed. It asks believers to test their own adopted religious faith from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism they use to evaluate other religious faiths.

Here's the argument: If one's own religious faith cannot be sustained due to consistently applying the skepticism of the OTF, then believers must either abandon their faith or come up with good reasons why they should not have to take the OTF because it is faulty in some way. But they cannot come up with any good reasons why they should not be consistent in evaluating all religious faiths.

So now Loftus is claiming that it is a "new" thing -- invented by him -- to say that we should:

1) Be fair in evaluating claims, treating them all with the same standards of evidence.

2) Abandon any claims that don't withstand scrutiny.

All these years philosophy and epistemology has missed this, hasn't it? Thank you Jesus for John Loftus.

Loftus also offered this self-evaluation:

All scholars have a specialty, right? What's mine? As I said in my book Why I Became an Atheist, I specialize in the Big Picture. This is true and it's no joke. I gather as much of the relevant material as a mortal can possibly muster and try to make sense of it. Confound it though, all of the Big Picture specialists seem to be gone. I'm a scholar about the Big Picture (i.e., the forest) just as many other specialists are scholars about one of the trees in the forest, or a species of trees. When it comes to the Christian faith, I'm a Big Picture specialist about all things Christian. My specialty is in Countering Christian Apologetics.

In other words, Loftus is a dabbler who knows as little as possible about as many things as possible, which is why he gets his tail kicked each time he tries to debate specifics.

But the biggest Screwbie of all was won at the end of the month: John wins a special Scumbag Award for posting a picture of a painting of Jesus in the nude as part of "International Blasphemy Rights Day 2010". How about making that rights to Self-Imposed Idiocy too, John?

Among his drones, one called "exreformed" gets an award:

I spent over a decade studying systematic theologies, apologetics, and hard core Bible study. I even learned a good deal of Greek so I could translate the N.T. for myself. I spent many, many, hours in prayer to no avail. Finally after years of vigorous study, and unanswered prayer and an outsider test of faith, I became an agnostic.

It is so liberating not having to defend Christianity anymore. Not only do you have to accept the ridiculous story of Noah and his ark, but you also have to defend eternal conscious torment, and of course you have to defend against all of the cults: Mormonism, J.W.'s, Muslims, Catholics. No wonder I had a nervous breakdown.

Soooo....once again, because someone's got the mental horsepower of a termite, Christianity is false. Makes sense.

A special award goes now also to Thom Stark, who operates as Loftus' even more evil pseudo-Christian twin. His offenses are too many to list, but can be seen recounted in the thread linked above. Loftus drone "Chuck" also wins for thinking I was a Calvinist.

The Lunchback of Notre Dumb

Here we have a new exegesis of Paul:

"Pray without ceasing." What would we be praying for that would require constant prayer? When will the prayer be answered? Actually, the implication is that they prayer will never be answered! The notion is absurd!

And some general comments on theism:

So, you admit that there are more than one living god,but that yours is just more powerful than the rest? Must be, because a dead god or an idol would have absolutely no power at all! Is that why God get's jealous when they are tempted to go and serve other gods and why He said "Thou shalt have no other gods before me? What about after Him? Is that okay, so long as He is number one?

The Assorted Atheist Collection

Keep Pitchforkpat away from your pets at all times, and nominate him for Platinum:

If certain individuals had sex with animals, it’s creepy, but that doesn’t make every person a “horrible” person.

He also said:

Tell you what. When Christian’s stop killing abortion doctors, saying gay people are immoral, that condoms shouldn’t be taught as part of sex education, etc. etc, then I’ll stop poking holes in their primitive tales of sky gods.

JimL doesn't get Wisdom theology:

So, what you are suggesting then is that Jesus is not God but that he is only the possessor Gods divine wisdom, a divine wisdom which god no longer possesses because he sent his wisdom to earth. So we could reword the quote then and say that gods wisdom is the mediator between god and men, except that god himself no longer has that wisdom because its in the possession of a man, his mediator on earth. How is an attribute of an indivisible god, his wisdom, separated from himself in heaven, having its existence now only in the brain of a man on earth?

BumbleBeeZ wins for raising the "who made God" objection -- and thinking it was original.

robertb tries some philosophy:

Then again, there are such things as negative numbers on the number line, therefore the origin is not necessarily the beginning and no infinite regress is actually required.

Must the number 0, the origin, appear on the end of a number line? Of course not, as in fact the number "0", the origin, appears at the center of the line. This, not withstanding the fact that, for all intents and purposes, the origin is the beginning.

In other words, once created, time can indeed extend infinitely into the future and the past, though time began to exist at 0. It really isn't a contradiction to say that time extends infinitely into the past, though time began at the big bang.

Finally, do not forget about what happens to causality prior to 1 x 10 ^ -47 seconds after the "big bang".

Doug Shaver wins for using a "Da Vinci Code" argument in a debate.

Chrisptopher31 nominates for Platinum n00b.

MichiganPhD wins for this tempoer tantrum:

You make it too easy. One the one hand you admit that your entire world view is based on your faith in god, NOT in your belief in science. Then you say that scientific theory is constantly overturned by the next experiment, which is both accurate and inaccurate. Scientist seek to find fault with ALL theories, that is how they are either proven right or wrong, nothing wrong with that, it's how we learn as a species. You said something about science before 1500, of course science before 1500 was NOT what science is today, but then again language today is different than it was six thousand years ago, so what? Since 1500 we have learned a LOT about science, but VERY little has changed in what is believed by religion.

You do realise that NOTHING in Christianity has changed in 2000 years, same bible, same story, same theories, same notions, same faith, same belief in mythology, same magic; NOTHING changes. MY faith in science is that NOTHING is without question, NOTHING, EVEN religion, even god. I take NOTHING on soley on FAITH without empirical evidence and a peer reviewed system of challenging everything.

Anything else is is nothing more than FAITH, RELIGION, tom foolery, and the blinders are on. Nothing in religion has healed a single disease, built a single machine, proved a single thing about the cosmos, or presented us with a viable answer to any number of questions like how did we get here, and why are things the way they are. Your answers all rely on faith in a 2000 year old book, written mostly by uneducated men, with NO women writers, and passed down by mostly illiterates in an oral tradition. NOTHING from the bible has been preserved, there is no ark, no ark of the covenant, no holy grail, no single piece of evidence that Jesus existed beyond what is written in the bible. So, you are correct, we probably don't have much to discuss.

A nutter and I had a long convo about seeds "dying" (aposthnesko) in the Bible. When I told him to check the Greek, he said:

So the 'God' that is responsible for this item in His "Holy" book knew all about that Koine Greek, or the semantic range of aposthnesko? And that 'God' expected his obedient followers also to understand what you're saying? Even my BA from Berkeley wouldn't have prepared me to read the Bible you're telling me about.

So God didn't know Koine Greek, nor expect anyone to be able to look it up? That nominates Platinum.

Guy on Yahoo wins for this comment:

anyone who publically displays religion should be fined and imprisoned religion is what should be dont ask dont tell. religion == ignorance and discrace. telling kids dinossaurs are 4000 years old

Other Assorted Nuts

Nazaroo goes all obscure on us:

Text. critics have no credible scientific methodology, and should not be followed until they can produce one.

lao tzu masters the zen of making stupid statements:

I've yet to run across any error-free secular text, and find it unsurprising that sacred texts should prove no different. Contradictions, whether blatant or subtle, reflect the process by which the biblical texts were assembled. The composition of the biblical texts, including the old and new testaments, spanned more than a thousand years, and represents the collected work of scores of authors, with beliefs and practices spanning the full range from polytheism to henotheism, and later from monolatry to monotheism. Incorporated into these texts are even older beliefs and the stories that went with them, borrowed from earlier civilizations, redacted and recast to match the evolving religious beliefs of the Israelites. What's surprising to me is not that there are contradictions, but that they are relatively rare. It's a truly remarkable literary accomplishment, far outstripping the only other examples I know from civilizations as ancient.

Unfortunately for the rich traditions and history of these people, there's also an apologetic approach to these contradictions that begins with the assumption that the texts do not contain contradictions, and are in fact inerrant due to having been inspired by a supernatural god. I expect most of your respondents will favor this approach, considering where we are. I consider this approach not merely wrong but wrong-headed. I agree with Peter Enns that early Israelite sacred texts represent an ongoing conversation about the nature of the divine. In the course of this conversation, the theology changed, creating contradictions with earlier religious thought. Following these contradictions allows us to piece together changes in Israelite society, changes which cannot be seen, let alone addressed or appreciated, using an apologetic approach.

Siggy Ivarson has been smoking some universalist weed:

Not meaning to shock anyone I would advise you to take a seat before listening to my response. The bible is a visual aid to those who cannot hear like brail is a tactile aid to those who cannot see. All will understand everything in the end and come to agreement. In the beginning before we all became sentient beings we were all eternal beings. But God had a plan to multiply himself and so he breathed his spirit into Homo sapient, A million year project of his but in order for us to become eternal beings again he had to make us learn some lessons. Of course death is graduation but first he had us draw lots. Each one of us drew a lot, these where believers and unbelievers. Things became a little complicated when some unbelievers started acting like believers and vice versa. So the unbelievers invented religion in order to appear to be spiritual instead of revealing that they were actually carnal minded. It doesn't matter because in the end we shall all be reconciled. Now in these end times our lots shall be revealed maybe to the discomfort of some on both sides. How shall our lots be revealed? Very simple, Elijah will speak and some will believe and others won't. Like I say repentance works for everybody.

We made God in the future and he travelled back in time in order to create the universe. In other words we are god but just forgot because we are caught in the illusion of time. Know ye not that ye are Gods? Time travelers in order to multiply yourselves and choosing a temple made of flesh for said purpose. To be absent of the body is to be present with God. God is spirit and the spirit is one.

Mormon sonik fury wins for saying of the Skeptics' Annotated Bible:

Regardless of his motivations, it seemed he had thoroughly researched the majority of scripture on his site.

gharfish tries to explain the return of Jesus dispensationally:

Jesus did say to the high priest that he'd be a witness to this. Maybe he'd be a witness to it dead, but concious in Sheol.

davenorthey has been sucked in by liberalism while sucking in marijuana:

Some serious modern Christian theologians look at 1 Corinthians and see there one of the earliest written witness to the Resurrection. Yes, St. Paul believed in the resurrection. But as 1 Corinthians testifies it is not a physical but a spiritual one. You know, there is a physical body and a spiritual one. The spiritual body, namely Christ's, is eternal. If physical it would be corruptible.

Please read Bishop Spong's Resurrection - myth or reality? for a much better explanation. Or refer to Marcus Borg's many books. Borg, if I remember rightly , speaks of the Resurrection story of two travellers on the road to Emmaeus. They encounter a stranger. The two followers of Jesus invite the stranger to eat with them at the end of the trip. During the meal at the breaking of bread they recognize the stranger is Jesus. If one had a video camera, even HD, the actual figure of Jesus would not show up on the screen The story, sacred story, conveys the reality of the situation Jesus was a resurrected, alive, reality and still present with his followers. And still known to them in t he "breaking of bread" ie. the sacred meal of Christianity (Mass or communion) He was a spiritual presence not a physical one.

LDSTrue, asked what biblical scholarship he has actually read, vies for Platinum:

You mean someone who knows better and provides better insight than the Holy Ghost... no one!

Here's some people who need a nomination for lacking self-discipline in worship:

Nomination again to MeMe, the narcissistic charismatic guy on campus here, for demonstrating once again his inability to control his emotions in public worship. When people were blurting out their prayers inbetween a song we were doing, he decides to pray for himself as usual, and to express once again that he is the most awful person in all of humanity, proceeded by repititions of "thank you for your blood," getting louder and louder each time, when he YELLS at the top of his lungs and scares the [crap] out of me and everyone else, the girl beside me had to plug her ears. Seriously, how obnoxious and rude and distracting does this guy get? I really did not appreciate that. After four years the guy has not learned to control himself, his most defining trait.

And maybe another nomination to everyone else who kept blurting things out during worship, seriously I wish people would realize how rude and annoying and distracting that is, especially when someone else is praying. People who say a little "amen" or "mhmm" during prayer is fine, but some people just have to take it to an extreme and blurt out a bunch of things (not in tongues in this instance) and basically say "amen' louder than the guy praying.

John T anachronizes as freely as he can:

One reason that I wanted to go into counseling is that I realized at the core that therapies like cognitive therapy, and reality therapy are very Bible based. If you do not believe me, look at what Jesus did to Peter in John 21:11ff through a Gestalt lens.

Nomination to Josh Jones and his youth group in Denver for his missions methodology. There is a story in a magazine called group about a road/missions trip he took his youth on one summer, where the main focus was on making very few plans (tiny budget, no destination) in order to let the Holy Spirit "lead." Examples:

After loading up the van and trailer, we stood in the parking lot and asked God to show us where to go. One of our teenagers tossed a pebble onto a map that she could not see from where she was standing. In four out of five tosses the pebble landed in the exact same spot--Northwest Colorado. So we buckled up and headed west from Denver on I-70.

Tuesday morning, we all felt God was calling us to leave Grand Junction, so we prayed some more and then spun a Twister wheel that had "north, south, east, and west" on it. The arrow landed on east, so we followed Highway 50 which runs slightly southeast.

Mormon Other Cheek has this screwiness:

I would say that the Historical Jesus has no power to save. It is the conviction of heart and soul that Jesus is the Christ, that does. But this knowledge can only be revealed from God.

franktalk sets his priorities:

The knowledge of scripture is nice but it is the relationship you have with Christ that is all important.

They did not measure this because it can't be measured by science.

The scriptures can and do become a stumbling block to some. I have found that most people who know the Bible to a T don't have a great relationship with the Holy Ghost. I would trade all of my Bible knowledge for a closer relationship with God. Is there any among you that would disagree?

Stephen Hawking wins for his petulant commentary about God not being necessary -- in which he shows that while he knows physics, he fails basic logic. -- Platinum nomination. -- Platinum nominee, atheist website (shared by Loftus, since he links to it) Award to this church.

News item:

Isaac A. Stoltzfus, a 58 year-old district judge from Intercourse, PA was cited Tuesday on disorderly conduct charges after he hid condoms inside of acorns and handed them out to random women in the state Capitol complex, the AP reports.