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More Pointless Parables

Atheism wrestles with ChristianityI’ve posted before about some modern-day Christian parables. Here are two more.

Ah, for the good old days when biblical parables made a compelling point! These are pretty weak. If you come across more, let me know.

Here’s one I heard on the radio.

A man goes into his pastor’s office. “I’ve got money problems,” he says. “I try to give what God commands of me, but I’m having a hard time making ends meet. At the end of the month, there are still bills to pay.”

The pastor says, “What if you did what God commands of you and then, at the end of the month, you bring any bills that aren’t covered to me and I’ll pay them. Would you do that?”

“You’d do that? You’d pay the extra bills?”

“That’s not the question,” said the pastor. “If I agreed to pay the extra bills, would you do that?”

“Sure!”

The pastor said, “Isn’t it odd that you’d trust a frail human like me when you wouldn’t trust God, the all-powerful creator of the universe to help you with your problems …” and blah, blah, blah about how fabulous God is and all the stuff that he’s done for us.

If you’re already drinking the Kool-Aid, this one might hit home, but it does nothing as an argument for Christianity. And the pastor is making a very testable claim—almost a science experiment. He’s all but quoting Luke 12:27–8:

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

Test the claim! I wouldn’t hold my breath for verifiable results, though.

I heard the next story decades ago.

In the early days of the space program, NASA scientists were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets to make sure that they could safely put up satellites. They checked thousands of years in the future and the past, but the computers ground to a halt. The problem was a missing day in elapsed time. They rechecked their data and the software, but the problem wouldn’t go away.

Puzzling over the problem, one scientist said, “You know, I remember a story from Sunday school. Something about God making the sun stand still so that Joshua could win a battle. Could that be it?”

The scientists were skeptical, but they found a Bible. With a little searching found Joshua 10:12–13. “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.” With a little calculation, they found that this accounted for 23 hours and 20 minutes. They were much closer but were still stuck. They had to resolve that last 40 minutes.

The other scientists looked expectantly at the one with the Sunday school story. “Well, I remember another story,” he said. All eyes were on him. “Something about the sun going backwards.”

There were a few chuckles, but they got out the Bible again and found 2 Kings 20:8–11, where King Hezekiah asked God for a sign, that the sun move backwards ten degrees. Ten degrees out of 360 degrees in a circle—that is, 1/36 of a day. In other words, exactly 40 minutes!

The scientists plugged in this information, and, sure enough, the calculations ran smoothly.

Ooh—let me guess the moral! Modern science needs to get its guidance from the Bible. (Did I get that right?)

Well, Mr. Smarty Pants Scientist—looks like the Goliath of Science has been defeated by the David of Christian Truth!

Despite its longevity and popularity—this story originated in a 1936 book by Harry Rimmer and was popularized by a 1974 book by Harold Hill—it’s bogus. NASA even released a press release denying the popular story.

There are lots of red flags. Even if God had stopped the sun 3000 years ago, there is no way to deduce that from information available to astronomers today, so the entire premise is flawed. And let’s not even speculate at what “stopping the sun” (that is, stopping the rotation of the earth) would’ve done. Concluding 23 hours and 20 minutes from “about a full day” is wishful thinking, and the ten degrees is more properly translated as “ten steps”—an angle based on local instrumentation that we can’t reproduce.

As usual, imagining that the Bible’s miracle stories really happened takes us to nowhere that can be scientifically justified.

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Retro

    If you come across more, let me know.

    Here’s two more classics:

    A college class was led by an atheist professor, and every day he’d stand in front of his class and say, “Have you ever seen God?” to which nobody would answer. Then he’d ask, “Have you ever felt God?” and nobody would answer. Finally he’d ask, “Have you ever heard God?” and, like the other times, nobody would answer. He then would say, “It is obvious that there is no God.”

    One day a Christian student had been having an extremely bad day; her car broke down, her mother was sick, her boyfriend was out of town, and she’d gotten a bad grade on one of her exams. She had been fed up with her professor’s little act every morning, so she decided to do something about it.

    While the professor stood up at the beginning of class and did his thing, the student had an idea. She got up and said, “Professor, would you mind if I said something?” He said, “Of course not. This is an expressive classroom, and I think it would be fine if you spoke your mind.”

    The girl said to the class, “Have you ever seen our professor’s brain?” and nobody answered. Then she asked, “Have you ever felt our professor’s brain?” and nobody answered. Finally she asked, “Have you ever heard our professor’s brain?” and, like the other times, nobody answered.

    She then said, “It is quite obvious that our professor has no brain.”

    And here’s another legend that gets mutated and e-mailed around:

    Navy SEALs are always taught

    1) Keep your priorities in order and
    2) Know when to act without hesitation.

    A Navy SEAL was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.”

    The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting.”

    It got down to the last couple of minutes when the SEAL got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The SEAL went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

    The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the SEAL and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

    The SEAL calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid shit and act like an asshole. So He sent me.”

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Nice!

  • Rick Townsend

    Let me get this straight.
    1) You found two made-up two stories not found in the Bible.
    2) You debunked them
    3) You then used them to try to undermine Christianity or the Bible.

    Sound correct? OK, here’s one.
    1) I will find or make up stories that look your world view look silly.
    2) I will then debunk them
    3) I will use them to undermine atheism.

    Sound good to you?

    Well, here is what we see at this blog:
    1) You make outlandish claims about Christianity that some of us try to refute with evidence
    2) You use ad hominem and other methods to try to attack the sources but seldom deal with the evidence
    3) You make up some new topic to divert attention from the fact that no conclusion resulted from the last 64 topics you raised. (You’ve got a self imposed deadline to trot out more blog posts, after all!!)

    Not sure this is clear thinking about Christianity. In fact, I’m sure it’s not.

    • Retro

      I will find or make up stories that look your world view look silly.

      These are stories that many Christians hear in church and/or e-mail to each other, and they obviously don’t think these stories are silly.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      3) You then used them to try to undermine Christianity or the Bible.

      Ah, that would be the icing on the cake, wouldn’t it? But no, that wouldn’t follow. You know it, I know it, and I think every reader knows it. I didn’t intend to deceive and, in fact, no one was deceived.

      What I hope to show is that some of the current stories that Christians pass around as profound insights don’t hold up to scrutiny. The moral of this post: Christians, use your brains. Don’t accept weak thinking, especially for something that you claim is the most important issue of all.

      2) You use ad hominem and other methods to try to attack the sources but seldom deal with the evidence

      What is it with you and the fear of ad hominem attacks? I agree that this is faulty reasoning, but I don’t see why you keep bringing it up. Going forward, you’ll have to point out the specific places where I make this error.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        What I hope to show is that some of the current stories that Christians pass around as profound insights don’t hold up to scrutiny. The moral of this post: Christians, use your brains.

        Translation of the moral:

        Christians, agree with me.

  • Bob Calvan

    And all Bob’s work is in vain. As if Bob has the power to unconvert a Chrsitian with his pathetic arguments. Or as if Bob could slow down Christ’s building His chuch, till He comes. Bob can to neither. As all that the Father gives the Son will be saved. None will be lost, it has been decreed before the foundation of the world.
    All Bob is doing is confirming that by nature Bob is a child of wrath ( Col.)
    And a vessel prepaired for destruction ( Rom 9). And unless God grants Bob repentance he will die in his sins..And Bob you are responsible to repent and bow the knee and confess Jesus Chrsit as your Lord and Savior.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      As if Bob has the power to unconvert a Chrsitian with his pathetic arguments.

      Christians do deconvert all the time. Not a lot, I’ll admit, but the ones that do say that they just started asking the uncomfortable questions one day (instead of pushing them aside) and gradually concluded that they owed it to themselves to be honest with the facts.

      You’ve heard about the Clergy Project? In just a year, it has grown to over 200 present and former clergy who no longer believe. Be sure to pass this information on to any clergy member who is doubting and needs a confidential community.

      Or as if Bob could slow down Christ’s building His chuch, till He comes.

      How would the world look different if there weren’t God to look out for us? I think it would look just like the world we have today.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Christians do deconvert all the time

        How successful have you been in deconverting them?

        Any “victory” stories?

        You’ve heard about the Clergy Project? In just a year, it has grown to over 200 present and former clergy who no longer believe. Be sure to pass this information on to any clergy member who is doubting and needs a confidential community.

        I find this project rather odd. You would think true free thinkers would support a doubting pastor examining the supernatural from both sides of the issue. That they would provide apologetics and theological material that may help settle doubts one way, as well as providing material that settles doubts the other. Instead, the organization seems dedicated to providing you with material, emotional comfort and support.. but only if you become an atheist. Seems more.. coercive than free thinking really.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Any “victory” stories?

          None that I know of. Maybe I should try your style. Think that would be more successful?

          the organization seems dedicated to providing you with material, emotional comfort and support.. but only if you become an atheist.

          And if they want support in the other direction, they have it, in abundance–just stay in the church. The Clergy Project simply corrects the imbalance.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          None that I know of. Maybe I should try your style. Think that would be more successful?

          Posting arguments that are backed up by evidence, logical critiques of arguments, and demonstrating an ability to listen to, and understand others?

          Yeah.. that might be better.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You’re a funny guy! I doubt that the essence of your style comes across as ” arguments that are backed up by evidence, logical critiques of arguments, and demonstrating an ability to listen to, and understand others.”

          That would be nice, though. I thought that by your own admission, you refuse to provide arguments and are here mostly to attack.

        • Mieke

          With your patience you´d probably become a saint in the catholic church… Spending so much time answering the same badly thought out comments over and over again: I can only admire that.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          :) Some people (like that one, who was just here to provoke) are useless, but in general, it’s good practice.

  • Bob Calvan

    Christians do deconvert all the time. Not a lot,….”

    No those with saving faith do not and can not deconvert. That would mean Chrsit failed to do the Father’s will… Impossible for a true Born Again believer with true saving faith to deconvert. Those the Father gives the Son the Son will give eternal life..Chrsit does not fail to do the Father’s will..Do I expect you to believe this? No. But do not misrepresent the doctrine of Soteriology.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      I truly wish you lived in the real world with real people rather than in the abstract and artificial world of your Reformed Theology.

      Your definition of a Christian commits the No True Scotsman Fallacy.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Those the Father gives the Son the Son will give eternal life..Chrsit does not fail to do the Father’s will..

      This is (yet again) merely a statement of your belief. It’d sure be nice to get evidence once in a while.

  • Bob Calvan

    “I truly wish you lived in the real world with real people rather than in the abstract and artificial world of your Reformed Theology. “:

    Care to show me biblicaly where my “Reformed Theology” fails?

    ” Your definition of a Christian commits the No True Scotsman Fallacy.”
    Not so. If the Bible is true , then a Chrsitian deconverting would not be possible. So the Scotsman fallacy does not apply.

  • Bob Calvan

    This is (yet again) merely a statement of your belief. It’d sure be nice to get evidence once in a while.

    And we can ask the same of you. But that would not be possible in your worldview of relativism. Bummer!

    • Bob Seidensticker

      A snappy rebuttal! And yet every post of mine is full of evidence.

      Your comments are rarely more than statements of your belief, assurances that atheists will writhe in hell forever (and then they’ll be sorry), and snippets cut from Creationist sites. I’d love to have you jump into the fray and give us actual reasons for why your worldview is preferable.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        A snappy rebuttal! And yet every post of mine is full of evidence.

        Name one claim you’ve made, and one piece of evidence supporting it. Come on, just one.

        Since “every post” is “full” of evidence, this should be easy, however I doubt you can do this. First of all, you rarely ever make any actual claims, and when you do, the evidence almost never supports it, instead at best it supports some tangential idea that has almost no relation to your post.

        I suppose though, since things are only true (to you) it may be that (to you) you are this incredibly bright, wise individual, and all the rest of us are idiots unable to grasp the depth of logic and evidence that you use in every post. To you.

        If I cared about how things are (to you), that might mean something. I care about reality, and truth. I would urge you to do the same, except you probably wouldn’t understand.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Since “every post” is “full” of evidence, this should be easy, however I doubt you can do this.

          “Doubt”? Heck–I’m certain that I couldn’t do it to your satisfaction.

          If I cared about how things are (to you), that might mean something. I care about reality, and truth.

          Sounds like you won’t find what you’re looking for here. You should leave.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Sounds like you won’t find what you’re looking for here. You should leave.

          You’d like that. It’d be a lot easier for you if someone wasn’t critiquing your arguments all the time and demonstrating how absolutely useless they are. After all, according to you, if I’m looking for logic, truth, and reality, I shouldn’t look here.

          It’s nice to have you admit that you really aren’t concerned with reality and the truth. Personally validating for me you understand. I do admit though, I would vastly prefer it if you did care about those things. Reality does exist Bob.. no matter how much you dislike it.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          It’d be a lot easier for you if someone wasn’t critiquing your arguments all the time and demonstrating how absolutely useless they are.

          We’ve been over this before. I’m happy with the critiques; I’m unhappy with the tone. Most Christian commenters seem to me more polite than the average, but your comments dripping with loathing and contempt make you tops at hitting the bottom.

          Congratulations!

          After all, according to you, if I’m looking for logic, truth, and reality, I shouldn’t look here.

          Yeah. You should leave.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Yeah. You should leave.

    Sorry. I’m staying. Kick me out if you want, and show everyone you can’t deal with my critiques. Or address my critiques. I’ve demonstrated time and time again that I’m more than willing to have a civil conversation with someone who doesn’t advance the (enlightened wise atheist vs poor ignorant Christian) stereotype, and someone who can actuall read what I say. Hausdorff is a good example, as well Orbital. Heck, on occaison I’ve had reasonable conversations with Retro.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Kick me out if you want

      OK.

  • KickedOutRandomFunction

    I have to admit, I’m surprised. Didn’t expect you to actually ban me. No worries. You banned me, I’ll stay banned.

    I find it in a way, sad. If you ever demonstrated that you actual read what I wrote, we might have had a civil conversation. Retro could do it. Orbital could do it. Hausdorff could do it. Why couldn’t you?

    • Orbital Teapot

      Hi Random,

      I’ll leave you my email, so that we can stay in touch outside Bob’s place. vogel_mensch@hotmail.com

      Regards

      • Rick Townsend

        Kind of surprised and disappointed that Bob wasn’t able to deal with the genuine challenges RRF posted. He’s welcome to contact me as well. HS.Subscribed@GMail.com.

        The conversation did degenerate into finger pointing, but it was certainly not all RRF’s fault. Guess that will reduce the regular contributors from 7 or so to 6. That’s one way to reduce disagreement.

        Rick

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Kind of surprised and disappointed that Bob wasn’t able to deal with the genuine challenges RRF posted.

          I have a hard time sifting the arguments from the anger. Occasional bile-filled comments are not a problem, but over and over? Life’s too short. There’s no upside in putting up with his childishness.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Life is just too short to put up with your childish behavior. I agree–lots of other contributors are able to disagree in a civil manner. Challenge my views–I love wrestling with a thoughtful, well-argued challenge. Heck–maybe I am wrong this time. But the name calling, the evasiveness, and the rage that I usually got from your comments is too much. If only we could have your energy without the hate …

      Unlike an ordinary forum, I’m the proprietor here, and responding to your frequent drive-bys has been more trouble than they’re worth for a long time.

      Bye.

    • Retro

      Didn’t expect you to actually ban me.

      You were begging for Bob to ban you so you could complain about being banned.

      Looks like you got exactly what you wanted.

    • Orbital Teapot

      Well, I do think that Random Function went too far. He was too quick to throw insults at Bob, he should have used a more neutral language, more centered on arguments and less on ad hominems.

      Yet I will miss him.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Lots of energy. I wish he’d focused that on simply making his argument.

  • Bob Calvan

    Wow, you kicked the RRF. I do not see what you see from his arguments? I do not see any hate? What makes no sense in your relativistic worldview, who cares what one bag of protoplasm says to another? In your worldview niether of your opinions are more than the natural process of nuerons running around in your brain. Neither one of your opinions is any better that anyone elses? Seems like it’s Bob’s way or no way? Where is your tolerance?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I do not see what you see from his arguments?

      Give his comments a read and you’ll see. Tough arguments are great, but the months of all the extra hatred simply became more than I could take. The burden of having him around exceeded his value long ago.

      What makes no sense in your relativistic worldview, who cares what one bag of protoplasm says to another?

      You don’t get out much, do you? Many people (perhaps not you) don’t appreciate being treated poorly.

      Neither one of your opinions is any better that anyone elses?

      I’ve explained many times where your preconceptions are wrong. After I do so, adapt. Change your arguments so you’re not making the same elementary mistakes again and again.

      I don’t think that my opinions are no better than anyone else’s and have made that clear many times.

  • Bob Calvan

    So how long is his punishment?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      How long is God’s punishment? I take my cues from Him.

      • Disciple of Christ

        He hath eyes, but cannot see.

        • Mieke

          A naked Molerat?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Blind cave fish?

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