Dating Advice: the FIRST Thing to Figure Out in a Relationship

About a year ago, we heard the sad story of star Notre Dame football player Manti Teʻo. His girlfriend died after a battle with leukemia. Instead of responding with withdrawal, however, he led his team to an upset victory shortly afterwards. The inspirational story was national sports news.

But as the story evolved, we gradually discovered that the girlfriend didn’t actually die of leukemia. In fact, she didn’t die at all. She didn’t even exist. She was a hoax.

The story is remarkable because this kind of deception is so rare.

Christian analogy to God

Christians often say that our relationship with God is like a relationship with another person. Like our relationship to God, marriage, for example, is built on faith. You can’t be certain that your marriage will last. You don’t know that a better partner isn’t just around the corner. But you evaluate the evidence and take a leap of faith.

This completely misses the mark. The relationship between two romantic partners isn’t at all like that between you and God because you know that the romantic partner exists. The unfortunate experience of Manti Teʻo underscores this point. That was the glaring, embarrassing, almost unbelievable error that he made: not being sure that the other party even existed. This is the error that Christians make and, here too, it’s glaring, embarrassing, and almost unbelievable.

The Christian might respond that, sure, the girlfriend/wife analogy isn’t perfect. Heck, what analogy is? But it’s still useful.

Uh, no. This analogy is completely, totally wrong. The question of existence shouldn’t even come up in a personal relationship, and yet with God, it’s the primary question. This analogy is useful only to tamp down questions, and it should be discarded by any honest Christian.

Forced into belief?

One of the more ridiculous responses I’ve gotten to this problem is that for God to make his existence obvious and eliminate the need for faith would be an imposition. He would force belief on me, whether I wanted it or not.

But I’m forced to accept the existence of new people and new things all the time. That’s life. No one considers that an imposition.

What makes a good friend?

I believe it was physicist and priest John Polkinghorn who also tried to salvage the analogy. He argued that continually testing a friendship or setting traps to verify that someone is truly a friend is no basis for a friendship. A good friendship needs trust.

Yes, it’s bad form to frequently say, “How about now? Am I still your friend now?” But here again this misses the point. You know your friend exists, while that’s the fundamental issue in the God “relationship.”

Alexander vs. Jesus

Philosopher Stephen Law said,

There is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. … What we know about Alexander the Great could fit on a few sheets of paper, yet no one doubts that Alexander existed.

Evidence for Alexander? You mean like coins with his name and likeness? Statues of a man with the inscription “Ἀλέξανδρος”? Twenty new cities named Alexandria, all dating from about the same time and consistent with his travels? Perhaps there are even reports of his exploits from hostile sources. No, no one doubts the existence of Alexander, but that’s because have a very different kind of evidence with Alexander than with Jesus.

Augustine

Church father Augustine said, “Seek not to understand so you may believe, but believe so you may understand.”

I guess you could just walk the walk and try to build up a belief, but why? I could work really hard to convince myself that unicorns or fairies exist, but why would I do that? Any Christian faith that’s built up this way—just believe for no good reason until you believe by habit—is built on nothing. I’d rather build my beliefs on evidence.

Many analogies have been tossed out to rationalize God’s existence. God’s relationship to us is like king to subject, judge to defendant, parent to child, or, as in the case of Manti Teʻo, boyfriend to girlfriend.

No, these analogies don’t work. Where God analogies are accurate, they’re not necessary. And where they’re necessary, they’re not accurate.

I refuse to prove that I exist,
for proof denies faith,
and without faith I am nothing.
— God (as quoted by Douglas Adams)

Photo credit: Deadspin

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About Bob Seidensticker
  • Jason

    “No, no one doubts the existence of Alexander, but that’s because have a very different kind of evidence with Alexander than with Jesus.”

    I think the truth is somewhere in between Bob and Stephen Law’s comments. No, the evidence is not exactly the same. Since Alexander was a more public figure, we have coins and that sort of thing. In terms of the literary evidence in which we learn *about* the historical figures, the evidence is about the same. The Alexander Romance, for example, is inundated with later legend and might be less reliable than, say, the gospel of Mark or the book of Acts. If we can say that we are 99.9% sure that Alexander existed, then I’d say we can be 85% sure that Jesus existed. In terms of details of personality, etc, they are both lost to legend.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you strip away the supernatural elements from the Alexander stories (from the Romances, for example), you have the story of a remarkable man who changed world history in a way few have.

      But if you strip away the supernatural elements from the gospels, you have Jesus as just a teacher from a long time ago. Sure, the story changed the world, but this ordinary Jesus didn’t do much. This is quite different from Alexander.

      • James

        Good point – add to that Alexander’s followers didn’t threaten anyone and everyone with eternal hellfire and damnation for merely not believing Alexander existed.

        • smrnda

          Alexander also was out to conquer, so I’d imagine he was out to prove his existence beyond a doubt to those who didn’t follow him.

        • James

          The same could be said of good people or just well-intended people. No one doubts that St Augustine existed, for example, as there is a lot of evidence that he did exist. What there’s not such good evidence for is Augustine’s supposed miralcles. In the case of Jesus, we have neither evidence for his existence nor of the supposed miracles he worked.

        • Pofarmer

          The thing to me that is really, really weird about Jesus, is that there is no contemporary writing of his. I think in all the other cases normally mentioned there is. Also the fact that archealogically, they haven’t found any evidence of any one like Jesus Christ until sometime in the second century or after. No Graphiti, no church named for him somewhere in secret. Nothing. It’s rather mysterious just why there is nearly NO physical evidence. It’s also rather mysterious that none of the Authors anywhere in the New testament point out any physical evidence. “Look, over there, that was his house.” “Look, over this hill, there is where the tomb lies.” Nothing like that, at all.

      • Jason

        Not sure if that’s really true since Christianity did change the world, but I see your point. However, this is a totally different point than the one you made in the original post. There you compared Jesus and Alexander to suggest that Jesus probably didn’t exist. This is a stretch and a typical atheist over reach (one which I’ve objected to on this blog before). It typically functions as a rhetorical trick in which the atheist turns “Jesus might not have existed and we don’t have much reliable info about his life” into “Jesus most likely didn’t exist and we don’t have any reliable information about his life at all.” This doubt about the existence of Jesus is then used to strengthen claims against Christianity (not Jesus). Just a rhetorical pattern I’ve noticed…

        By the way, Alexander did kill a lot of people and by all accounts was self-centered and ruthless. Christianity (and later Christians post-Jesus) may have caused a lot of problems, but honestly, I’d rather run into Jesus in a dark alley than Alexander. Oddly, both were called sons of gods, but IMO, Alexander was probably the only one who actually called himself divine. Jesus more likely became divine retroactively as his followers reflected on his existence.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s not quite the point I was trying to make. I’m not arguing that Jesus didn’t exist but simply to show the dramatic difference between what the evidence for Alexander says (hard to deny that he conquered the world—at least the world as he knew it) and what it tells us about Jesus (Rose from the dead? Sorry—historians don’t accept supernatural tales.).

          The Jesus Myth question isn’t interesting to me.

          Jesus might’ve been a nice guy in person, but Alexander didn’t invent a hell in which I’ll be frying for a trillion years.

          Good point about the divinity. It’s hard to know what Jesus actually said when all we have are reports from decades later.

    • RichardSRussell

      So the eternal souls of billions of people are left to rely on dubious stories about a guy who may or may not have actually lived. If there really were a god who set up such a system, he’d be a flaming asshole. Good thing he’s not real.

    • MNb

      In terms of evidence I think it more interesting to compare Jesus with Diogenes of Sinope.

  • Jim Hoerst

    Imaginary friends are easier to make and they are more likely to be perfect for you. Real friends have faults. With a little faith Jesus can be your imaginary friend too Bob.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      An imaginary, perfect friend? Cool!

      • Jim Hoerst

        He will love you, forgive you, encourage you, discipline you, teach you, comfort you, and even raise you from the dead. Wouldn’t you like to have a friend like that? You could if only you didn’t make reality a condition for friendship. Your discrimination against imaginary persons is only hurting you.

      • Jim Hoerst

        Actually I like the term faith friend better than imaginary friend. Normal people have faith friends, only nuts have imaginary friends.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What’s a faith friend?

          Someone you have never met? Someone with whom you share a religious faith?

  • JohnH2

    I am nothing — God

    “God himself doesn’t know what he is because he is not anything. Literally God is not, because he transcends being.” John Scotus Eriugene

    Not sure how attacking the historic existence of a Jewish person named Jesus that died on a cross and claimed to be a messiah is supposed to help. Jesus wasn’t exactly an uncommon name (ok, Joshua) and claiming to be a messiah wasn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence and the Romans killing someone (by crucifixion) that claimed to be a messiah was an extremely common occurrence. It seems very silly to me to try and make the claim that there probably wasn’t such a person, especially when the Bible already has multiple other such people in it and one that exactly meets the description (Jesus Bar Abbas) who had been slated for execution the very day that Jesus Christ was executed.

    “No one considers that an imposition.”

    Really? Pretty sure that there are plenty of people that find that having to admit to evolution, or homosexuals existing, or atheists existing to be an imposition. Enough so that they are willing to do silly, stupid, dangerous, and hateful things in efforts to not have to actually accept (or to only have to accept in the vaguest terms) such things existence.

    Even more so with a knowledge of God, things that were previously ambiguous are then black and white. I mean eventually God will impose such a knowledge on everyone, whether they are ready for it or not, but prior to that point one has to seek a knowledge of God before they find it.

    • Jim Hoerst

      Wow, God talk! It makes no sense, but it can sound good.

      “God is not, because he transcends being.” That explains everything doesn’t it? What the hell is a transcend being? and how do you know if there is one in your refrigerator?

      Welcome to the Christian metaphysical play ground where the usual rules of reason and logic are dispensed because the subject is “God.” We can’t talk about your God/Jesus the same way as we talk about Grant capturing Richmond or money in the bank because you create false logical categories for your God to exist in where the light of reason can not penetrate.

      “Eventually God will impose such a knowledge on everyone,” That kind of presumes the conclusion don’t you think? How do you know one that you’re a prophet, and two that you’re prophecy will come true? Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      • JohnH2

        “That explains everything doesn’t it? What the hell is a transcend being?
        and how do you know if there is one in your refrigerator?”

        I was quoting someone else, that isn’t what I believe at all; ask a Catholic if you want to attempt to be further confused by the insanity understand such a statement, or just read the Necronomicon which won’t help so much with understanding but will make understanding seem less important.

        How do you know one that your a prophet, and two that your prophecy will come true?

        I have a testimony of Christ which is the spirit of prophecy, and in this case the statement is pretty basic as far as everyone dying and being judged by Christ.

        • Jim Hoerst

          1. So do you think God is a being or a transcendent being and how do you know the difference?

          2. “You have the testimony of Christ”
          That’s presuming the argument isn’t it? If our argument is over whether or not there is a Christ and you assert that you have the “spirit of Christ,” that would obligate you to tell us what you evidence is for the existence of “Christ” and the “Spirit of Christ” wouldn’t it? So what is “the Spirit of Christ” and how do I know if it’s in my refrigerator?

        • JohnH2

          “. So do you think God is a being or a transcendent being and how do you know the difference?”

          God is a being, He is an exalted human with which one can “speak face to face as a man speaks with a man”. Since God has a body then He is something and is rather then is not making Him to not transcend being based on what the quote says, I don’t have to know precisely what that means to be able to say that what I believe doesn’t fit it.

          “That’s presuming the argument isn’t it?”

          Wasn’t aware this was an argument.

          “”spirit of Christ,”

          ??? – Testimony is different then spirit, Christ has the spirit of Christ.

          “wouldn’t it?”

          I am positive that any number of people here would be able to tell you some of what I consider to be evidence in this regards. If you actually want me to explain to you then I will ask that you change your tone some.

          So what is “the Spirit of Christ” and how do I know if it’s in my refrigerator?

          The spirit of Christ is the spirit that animates Jesus Christ and can only be in Jesus Christ, not in me or in a refrigerator.

          For 3, see my answer under “wouldn’t it”.

        • Jim Hoerst

          “Presuming the argument” means that you are making the proposition under dispute (The existence of Christ) a presumption of your case for the proposition (That Christ does/doesn’t exist.)

          “‘God is a being, He is an exalted human with which one can “speak face to face as a man speaks with a man”.”‘

          All you are making are religious assertions. You are offering no evidence. Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Do you have any evidence?

        • JohnH2

          “Do you have any evidence?”

          Yes, I have evidence that the Lord liveth which is gathering His people Israel.

        • Jim Hoerst

          Just what I thought, you have no evidence that can be verified.
          This thread is excellent evidence that Christians do not have a rational case for their “faith.”

        • JohnH2

          Jim,

          Bob picked up what I was saying in the response mostly pretty well, he missed where it was coming from but did good otherwise. I already told you that if you wanted me to explain you would need to change your tone, you haven’t so I won’t explain it or anything else to you.

        • Jim Hoerst

          Just what I thought, you have no evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          JohnH2 is a Mormon, which makes him even crazier than the avg Christian. Fwiw.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So natural explanations for the state of Israel are less likely than that God ordained and planned it?

        • JohnH2

          You do realize that my wording is from a (fairly accepted to be) 2600 year old writing which was referencing something that is probably something like 3600 year old, right?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Are we talking Daniel? I think the consensus is that it was written in c. 165 BCE, since after that point, the “prophecies” stop coming true.

        • JohnH2

          Referring to Jeremiah actually, the poetic part was probably written by Jeremiah and contains the part that I referenced..

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not familiar with Jeremiah. Expand on your point a bit so I know what you’re talking about.

        • JohnH2

          Jeremiah 16:13-15; which is similar to Isaiah 11:11 (part of first Isaiah if one subscribes to that theory), and Jeremiah 23:7-8. The promise is that days would come when it would no longer be said “The Lord liveth that brought up Israel from Egypt: but the Lord liveth brought up Israel from all the lands wither he had driven them, and will bring them again into their land that He gave their fathers”.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So the Judeans are in exile in Babylon, if I have the history correct. God used the Babylonians to teach Judah a lesson, so “wither he had driven them” could make sense in this context.

          So my read is: God exiled the Judeans (using Babylon as a tool), and they will return once again to Israel.

          And they did so some decades later.

          So what do you make of this? Doesn’t sound particularly impressive to me. I must be missing something.

        • JohnH2

          Reread Isaiah 11:11, it says ‘the second time’, also Jeremiah 16:13 ‘a land that ye know not’; by that time the Jews were quite well acquainted with Babylon and had been for some time.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, it says “a second time.” So what? There’s a Jewish diaspora even now, so God could presumably sweep in stragglers many times.

          And what does this focus on Israel and Judea have to do with Christians today? Seems like a (now) uninteresting promise to a different people.

        • JohnH2

          That quite the admission and quite the pushing things under the rug Bob.

          Luke 21:24, 31-32 would appear to be what it has to do with Christians: Christ says that Jerusalem won’t be held by the Jews until the ‘times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ at which point then end is close and that generation won’t pass until everything is fulfilled. Which should explain both the crusades (the Catholics were acting under the assumption of replacement), and some primarily evangelicals (dangerous) political views towards Israel (and Iran).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That quite the admission and quite the pushing things under the rug Bob.

          Since I’m still trying to get out of you what you actually mean, I see neither. Once I understand, then you can make your accusations.

          And I’m still not getting it. Don’t point to vague verses and expect that their meaning will be obvious. When is “the times of the Gentiles”? The time when non-Jews control Judea? But wasn’t that already the case?

          Christ says that Jerusalem won’t be held by the Jews until the ‘times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ at which point then end is close and that generation won’t pass until everything is fulfilled.

          Since “it” must’ve come in the first century, what was it? What was this tremendous change that was so insignificant to not be recorded by historians of the time?

        • JohnH2

          Until 70 A.D the Jews held Jerusalem and the Temple, at which point the Romans destroyed both and the Jews no longer held either and didn’t until the six days war. Both of these events are quite well recorded, I don’t see where the confusion is?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The confusion is that I have no idea what you’re talking about. What’s the point of this subthread? Are you talking about fulfilled prophecy? Are you talking about modern Israel?

        • JohnH2

          Yes, talking about fulfilled prophecy but also current prophecy and about modern Israel and ancient Israel. As I said the prophecy in question is thousands of years old. As I said recently in a previous thread, Moses told the people of Israel that if they kept their covenants they would be blessed and if they broke them then they would end up being scattered throughtout the earth among other things, he then said that at a later time period the Lord would remember them and gather them again to their land. Jeremiah and Isaiah then reiterated that the Jews would end up scattered and then would eventually be gathered from the whole earth back to their own land.

          As it relates to Christianity, Jesus likewise gave the prophecy and said that the Jews would lose Jerusalem and the temple and that they would not hold Jerusalem again until near the end. In 70 A.D. the temple was destroyed and the Jews lost Jerusalem.

          The Christian Crusades were premised on the idea of fulfilling the prophecy with the Catholic Church being Israel under replacement theology. Since Paul had already said that replacement theology was wrong in Romans it should come as no surprise that the Crusades failed to end the world.

          In the 1830′s Joseph Smith and other modern Apostles said that the gathering of the Jews would happen soon. One Apostle was sent to Jerusalem to dedicate it for the upcoming return. Shortly afterword the Zionist movement of the Jews started (not related to Mormons).

          Obviously there was the holocaust which led to the (hopefully) final collapse of the theory of replacement theology and then the creation of the state of Israel, and then in the 6-day war Jerusalem was for the first time in nearly 1900 years retaken by the Jews. Which is where we are at today, some 46 years later.

          So what is the confusion about that?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          the Jews would end up scattered and then would eventually be gathered from the whole earth back to their own land.

          Didn’t happen, did it? How many Jews are there in the U.S., to take just one example, who have no interest in going back to “their own land”?

          they would not hold Jerusalem again until near the end.

          So the Jews regained Jerusalem in 1948? How does this fit into your story? Is the end near? It’s been over 60 years—sounds like yet another prophecy that didn’t happen.

          And how does this fit with the point you made clear earlier, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened”? Sounds like the generation that is hearing Jesus, and the other gospels confirm that. I suppose you wiggle away by saying “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” is some indeterminate gap of time?

          Obviously there was the holocaust which led to the (hopefully) final collapse of the theory of replacement theology

          The idea that the New Covenant with the Christians replaced the old one with the Jews? Reading about the covenant in the OT (Abrahamic? Mosaic?), why would we expect that it was seen as temporary? And if not temporary, how can it be overturned?

          and then the creation of the state of Israel, and then in the 6-day war Jerusalem was for the first time in nearly 1900 years retaken by the Jews.

          But they had West Jerusalem in 1948. Sounds to me like you prefer the later date because time is running out for your theory. And speaking of which, what is the Mormon view of the End? You’re saying that the Second Coming® is happening within your lifetime?

          So what is the confusion about that?

          More explanation leads to less confusion (Confucius).

        • JohnH2

          Bob,

          if I were going for a later date rather than an earlier date then I would go with the Jews holding the temple mount and building the temple. My opinion given the geopolitical realities is that the Jews building the temple, regardless of whether they are the ones responsible for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock would really quickly set off the war.

          “did it?”
          It is still happening, don’t know that everyone will end up in Israel though.

          “Is the end near?”

          Yes, relatively-ish, I am not entirely sure what generation means but my working assumption is that there will be people who were alive at that point who will be alive when the end happens.

          “Sounds like the generation that is hearing Jesus,”
          Depends on what part of the chapter you are referring to.

          “why would we expect that it was seen as temporary”

          Well, there is the question about what Jesus means in relation to the old covenant; the standard answer of Augustine to Luther to fairly recently is that Jesus replaced the old covenant. The Book of Mormon says otherwise though.

          ” And speaking of which, what is the Mormon view of the End?”

          http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-42-the-gathering-of-the-house-of-israel?lang=eng
          http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-43-signs-of-the-second-coming?lang=eng
          http://www.lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-44-the-second-coming-of-jesus-christ

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You expressed your theology. I’ve seen nothing remarkable here. I thought that was your original point (fulfilled OT prophecy), but this conversation has been so drawn-out that I could be misremembering.

          don’t know that everyone will end up in Israel though.

          “Don’t know”? How is it even conceivable that every Jew will get the Israel bug and, lemming-like, be drawn “home” to the Promised Land? Is there any reason that this bizarre homing miracle will happen? If not, then let’s say that we’re pretty sure it ain’t gonna happen.

          Yes, relatively-ish, I am not entirely sure what generation means but my working assumption is that there will be people who were alive at that point who will be alive when the end happens.

          I’ve seen no notable prophecy about the birth of Israel, and you (wisely) aren’t giving me a prophecy that we could test in our lifetimes. I think I’m justified in being unimpressed.

          the standard answer of Augustine to Luther to fairly recently is that Jesus replaced the old covenant.

          Jesus replaced the old covenant? You mean the perpetual, unchanging covenant that the unchanging God made with the people of the Old Testament?

        • JohnH2

          ” we could test in our lifetimes.”

          I gave you prophecies which are prior to their fulfillment and which happened in your lifetime. So weird, if I gave a prophecy that you could test say next year would you be unimpressed in two years?

          “Jesus replaced the old covenant?”

          That was the theory.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK, watch this. Nothin’ up my sleeves. Now, I predict that there will be a terrible natural disaster somewhere in the world in the next five years.

          Whaddya think? Pretty cool, no?

          If the prophecy is from God, I want it to be unambiguous, startling, and 100% accurate. If you’ve got one, let me know. I haven’t heard such a prophecy from you yet.

        • Baby_Raptor

          A bunch of people moving to the place they consider their ancestral homeland is proof an invisible man with amazing powers lives in the sky?

        • JohnH2

          I don’t know of any invisible men and evidence was asked for, not proof.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Okay, the fact that you choose not to understand does not mean that you’ve answered my question.

        • JohnH2

          Yes.

        • MNb

          “speak face to face as a man speaks with a man”.

          Describe god’s face.

          ” Since God has a body”
          What’s his mass and his size? How can we measure?
          Oh wait – last two times I asked you refused to answer these questions as well. As it’s the third time I tend to conclude that you’re a dishonest person.

        • JohnH2

          You asked 12 minutes ago, I do have other responsibilities and things to do besides respond to comments.

        • Jim Hoerst

          3. What evidence do you have that anything but death happens to anyone after they die?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Not sure how attacking the historic existence of a Jewish person named Jesus that died on a cross and claimed to be a messiah is supposed to help.

      Not what I’m trying to do.

      It seems very silly to me to try and make the claim that there probably wasn’t such a person

      This isn’t quite what the Jesus mythicists are saying, but anyway, it’s not my argument.

      Really? Pretty sure that there are plenty of people that find that having to admit to evolution, or homosexuals existing, or atheists existing to be an imposition.

      Really. People may not like that homosexuals or atheists exist, but they don’t deny it. They may deny a trait of that person (“Yes, Bob exists, but he only imagines that he’s an atheist”), which is a different thing.

      prior to that point one has to seek a knowledge of God before they find it.

      And that’s exactly what someone defending a nonexistent god would say. Since this is hardly a remarkable bin, that’s the one I put you in. (The bin of people defending gods that everyone knows actually exist is much less populated.)

    • Greg G.

      There were probably many Jews named for Joshua who were crucified in the first century but the early epistles aren’t about any of them. The early epistles don’t say or know anything about a Jesus that doesn’t seem to have come from their scriptures which they read as ancient historical mysteries that were being revealed to them.

      Nearly every verse of Mark appears to have been taken the most popular Greek literature of the day, the Septuagint, and some Christian literature such as the epistles and Gnostic materials. Mark combines them so magnificently into such complex structures that the rough Greek must have been intentional.

      Since the other gospels rely on Mark’s fictional accounts, the New Testament is evidence that the Jesus character was made up.

      There is no extra-biblical evidence that does more than verify that there were people in the late first century who believed there was an early first century Jesus.

      So the comparisons between Teo’s girlfriend, the historical Jesus, and the existence of God are worth considering.

      • MNb

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycarp

        Apostles without a Messiah do not make any sense.

        • Pofarmer

          Why not? Polycarp never claims to have met or seen Jesus either. He is simply listed as a follower of John the Apostle. So, we are reduced to, actually, third hand evidence, because it is Iraneus recording that Polycarp said that he was a student of John the Apostle. So, we’re playing Telephone.

        • Greg G.

          The early Christians worshiped a Jesus who had been crucified and resurrected in the ancient past. Irenaeus may have known Polycarp but Tertullian and Jerome would have got their information from other sources. John is mentioned by name in Galatians so he probably existed but we cannot trust the gospels to tell us what he believed. Polycarp may have known him but he doesn’t appear to know anything about Jesus except what he read in the New Testament.

          http://www.supakoo.com/rick/PolycarpToPhilippians-2010-01-05.pdf

  • Y. A. Warren

    The name “God” has been so misused by so many that I now use The Sacred Spirit for more clarity.

    • smrnda

      That kind of reminds me of the ‘Supreme Being’ from French Enlightenment Deists.

      • Y. A. Warren

        I don’t use “Supreme Being” because it has com to be used as a particular physical manifestation, as in “human being.”

    • Greg G.

      The clarity of “The Sacred Spirit” drops to zero after “The”.

      • Y. A. Warren

        I probably should say my manifestations of Sacred Energy. I am still working on terms that haven’t been co-opted and abused by so many religions that we can’t have conversations any deeper that “Thank you, Jesus” or “God is good”

        • Greg G.

          “Energy” has several meanings. The usage that is a quantifiable scientific term seems to be used as a metaphor for psychological states of mind by woomeisters.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I use it as did Einstein.

        • Greg G.

          E = mc^2 ?

        • Y. A. Warren

          Yep! And I’m okay with that.

        • Greg G.

          What’s the difference between energy and Sacred Energy?

        • MNb

          Exactly. Here is one victim of such wootalk:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Millecam
          There is no difference between Warren’s Sacred Energy and Jomanda’s Energy Beams (which are supposed to come from god and thus are sacred as well).

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A very sad story. The modern U.S. example is Steve Jobs, a very smart guy who you’d think would be immune to irrational talk. He died of a treatable cancer.

    • Jim Hoerst

      The incredible morphing theology. As soon as the skeptic makes a touch down there go the goal posts to wherever the theist wants to move them.

      Your “Sacred Spirit” is no more believable without evidence than any other deity. What’s your evidence for a “Sacred Spirit?”

      • Y. A. Warren

        I am not presenting the sacred spirit as something outside of nature. I am presenting it as the life force that continues to manifest in more and more rational and reasoned ways as human nature evolves. If you see nothing special about humanity’s abilities, then you may not see anything as sacred.

        Because I find so much sacred in the universe doesn’t mean I believe in a deity, but I do believe in constructive and destructive manifestations of energy.

        • Kodie

          If you see nothing special about humanity’s abilities, then you may not see anything as sacred.

          You are making humans to be exceptional, without really explaining yourself or what makes you think human “energy” is “sacred” in any way.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I define “sacred” as that which is most advanced in ways to, but choice, manifest the energy of the universe. The proof that humans have abilities that are not available to other animals is in evidence in the sciences and the arts.

        • Kodie

          It escapes you that other animals have abilities that are not available to humans, and that your definition of sacred is not what sacred actually means. You claim you are trying to find common terms for the sake of communicating with clarity, but you keep making your own special definitions. Basically your definition of sacred means you are anthropocentric. If you look at humans long enough, we look and behave just like a lot of other animals, and our special niche is the intelligence to progress technologically, and the arrogance to think that makes us better. Most of what we do is pass time that we have thanks to making labor easier. Economy is capitalism, which means people have to earn their food and shelter, even though it seems the goal is to make it so we don’t need human labor so the rich get to fuck off the majority of the time on piles of cash, and the poor are replaced with robots and outsourced labor. Wow, we can write poems though.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Actually, Kodie, it does not escape me “that other animals have abilities that are not available to humans, and that your definition of sacred is not what sacred actually means.” I am also aware that there are many who have the arrogance to believe that humans are free of our animal instincts by virtue of various rituals. I don’t happen to have this type of arrogance.

          I do believe that the human animal has the ability to exhibit many behaviors that are not common in all our animal relatives. This ability is what I find “sacred.”

          There are many words that have been defined in religious contexts that would still exist even if we take away the religious aspects. My problem is that we have perverted so many words by insisting on only one definition, as order by the canons of religions.
          From the Free Dictionary.

          sa·cred (skrd)

          adj.

          2. Worthy of religious veneration: the sacred teachings of the Buddha.

          3. Made or declared holy: sacred bread and wine.

          4. Dedicated or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person:

          I am open to any alternative terms that bridge the gaps in understanding of words in common use when talking about values that motivate the actions of humans.

          I work tirelessly with organizations seeking justice, and do agree with your analysis of unfettered capitalism. This is a site for exploring spiritual values, not politics, so I will not comment further on that.

        • Kodie

          You are the one perverting a word to mean what you want it to mean. And this “sacred spirit” anyway you want to define it is the best and worst of all humans are capable of. Reality TV and people who watch it – there is your sacred spirit right there. What humans have that you are admiring is ingenuity, and ingenuity is neural firings. It can be used for anything. It can be used by the tenants of a neighboring house, per se, to drive cars through an adjacent privately owned parking lot onto an adjacent privately owned property to park extra cars for their guests. Want to get where you’re going faster? Ignore the signs saying “NO LEFT TURN” or “ONE WAY”. Driving around the block is for chumps. This is your “sacred spirit” at work, solving problems like your various rodents and ants and spiders do already. Someone rolled up their sleeves and worked out the traffic logistics and someone else said “do what I want”; this is what leads to jughandle exits where you can only get to your destination on the other side of the road by passing it because they had to put up a fence to deter shortcuts that endanger other drivers.

          Lawlessness is just efficient. Art is just language. And everything we have ever gained in human existence is leisure time. You think our brains stop working? Did you ever get punished or know someone who was, at school, where you had to write “I will not _____” 100 times? It goes like this: You write “I will not ______” about 2-3 times, then you number the lines, then you write “I I I I I…..”, “will will will will…..”, “not not not….” This is your sacred spirit, looking to make a dull task shorter work, looking for ways to bend the rules. All animals do this. The more successful we get at it, the more work we come up with that there is time now to do, and the more machines to do it for us because we hate doing the work or paying lawfully for someone else to do it. This is your sacred spirit at work.

          You do get some impressive works of art out of it, and some do-gooders pitching in to lighten someone else’s heavy load, but all the same, we’d rather save our efforts for the few people we care about, and fuck over anyone else wherever we can. Not to a violently criminal extent, but a lot of little transgressions add up, and that’s your sacred spirit at work.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Kodie, I don’t know why you are so negative about people. I think you may want to take your head out of your own butt and look for a more expansive world view.

        • Kodie

          If you only see the good in people, you are missing a lot. Take your own head out of your own butt, please. This “sacred spirit” idea is not a real thing, and talking about things that amaze you, that’s like people saying trees and rainbows and mountains are evidence of god. Beauty is not evidence of any such thing, while you are naming something you want to be true and overlooking reality. There is negative stuff. There is destruction. We are just animals, exploiting weaknesses and searching for solutions, like mice do. Mice don’t have to build houses, they can live rather nicely in ours. Which one is smarter, the animal that had to work thousands of years for the technology or the one that got a free ride? Humanity is in search of a free ride like that. We just don’t want to die of boredom. Cats and spiders don’t seem to suffer from that.

        • Y. A. Warren

          I won’t bore you with all the bad that has befallen me, but I do believe that humans can choose their own outlooks on life. I choose to stare at the silver linings, when available.

          I do not think trees, rainbows and mountains are evidence of “God”, but I am in awe of how the universal energy manifests in so many different ways. Awe is what allows me to see some silver linings; hence, that is my avenue to what I call sacred. I even feel awe about some humans at some times.

        • Kodie

          I won’t bore you with all the bad that has befallen me. What I will do is remind you that you have a certain outlook, that is not the only or true outlook. As I said elsewhere recently (possibly in this thread?) is that people make up their religions and beliefs about how things are or should be from “things that happen to them”. God prefers them or at the very least trying to teach them something. It’s arrogance. I do see good (to me) in the world, but I don’t ignore the rest. I don’t “choose” to see the silver linings and “choose to ignore” everything else. I have eyes and I see with them. I contend that religion and whatever you have is a coping mechanism. I can hardly fault you but you’re asserting some kind of universally true thing based on your perspective and experience, and you don’t think you have to explain what is actually sacred about it. You just feel and decide that’s what’s real, no supporting arguments, just explaining your special definitions for words that nobody, nor the dictionary understand or agree with.

        • Y. A. Warren

          Getting back to “the first thing to figure out in a relationship”…
          One of the first things is how to communicate. Communication requires some common vocabulary. It seems that from the beginning of human history groups of people have been attempting to find ways to communicate what they find so awesome as to defy description. The problem seems to be that people insist on denying the experiences of others in favor of their own experiences.

          I am not attempting to create a universal definition of the sacred. I am attempting to start with a word that is understandable by many in religious and other pursuits that many societies define as spiritual to come to a way of speaking about spiritual and emotional ,matters that isn’t so limiting as the anthropomorphic definitions.

          You are saying things that you believe and generalizing them to “nobody” I invite you to come up with words that describe what is so extraordinary in your experience that it feels almost otherworldly. For me, it is much found in nature, including in my emotions toward the magnificent manifestations of energy that I encounter on earth.

          I don’t need anyone to help me find the things that suck on this earth, anymore than I need religions to tell me that I and those I love are destined to an eternity of even worse.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sure, humans have some abilities that other animals don’t have. And the reverse is also true. Other animals can see better, can fly, can run faster and farther, can swim better, are stronger, are better armored, etc.

          Looks to me like humans are just another species of animal.

  • smrnda

    I actually think that what happened to Manti Teʻo is *easier* for me to understand than the *personal relationship with god* crowd.

    Te’o was communicating with someone who was likely giving him mundane, believable information about being a human being. Anyone sufficiently devious could create a fictitious online personal and go cruising for people online for some purpose – it might be hard to pretend that you’re a Nigerian prince (though lack of familiarity with Nigeria might lead to you being believed by some) but pretending to be an ordinary person from the US? Te’o is getting responses from someone that at least sound plausible, are probably spontaneous and at least somewhat original. People with a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus – nobody seems to have any more personal relationship than anyone else. It’s not like someone says “Hey, all you know about Jesus is what you read in the New Testament. I know that Jesus once built an entire fishing boat only using his left hand to show what a great carpenter he was!”

    On friendships, though we may not intentionally test them, they do get tested every single day, and as they pass of fail the tests you grow closer to the other person or grow further apart. If someone called me and I blew them off, again and again, I’d be giving them evidence that I’m a shitty friend, and eventually they might quit calling. Gods, apparently, do this all the time, so it’s more like the gods test their human followers by being indifferent, distant, fickle, and giving everyone the silent treatment.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, good point. We all can imagine friends, so evidence that supports yet one more plausible friend is hardly incredible. Contrast that with the claim that the creator of the universe wants to hang out.

      • Jim Hoerst

        When your friend is supernatural, that makes it even more difficult to do reality checks. Online friends are subject to natural law. Once you exempt your friend from natural law your friend can do and be anything you want him to be.

    • http://teethofthebuzzsaw.blogspot.com/ Leo Buzalsky

      Yeah, actually, someone tried pulling a prank like that on me a number of years ago (I think it’s been over 4 now). Their story didn’t add up,* so I was quite suspicious immediately. Then later I realized they were likely fabricating their story using information about me that was publicly available on my Facebook profile.

      * They claimed to have seen me volunteering at a local theatre. The problem is the work I did at the time was on set construction with mostly other men while this person was claiming to be female.

  • Pofarmer

    Maybe somebody could help me out a little bit. A person made the comment the other day when someone didn’t want to do something(hows that for a nebulous lead in?) “Well, Jesus didn’t want to die on the cross!” But, I mean, wasn’t that the whole point? Didn’t Jesus supposedly know the whole time what would happen “As it was foretold”? And, I think Bob has written about this before, but, if Jesus was God, and knew he was God, then he COULDN’T die on the cross, and KNEW IT! Makes my head hurt.

    • JohnH2

      I believe they are referring to Matt 26:39

      “39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

      Jesus was also a man and therefore could die on the cross and did so; but being God could only die when He allowed it.

      • http://teethofthebuzzsaw.blogspot.com/ Leo Buzalsky

        You have no idea how nonsensical that last statement is, do you? Dying as part human – assuming that even makes sense – still cannot compare to someone who is fully human dying.

        • Pofarmer

          The human part dies( the shell) but the spirit lives on( the essence) yet comes back and manifests itself in the physical to a few of the true believers.? So the human part didn’t die either? Like most theological stuff. It seems overly complicated.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If spirit/shell is how we see humans, do animals have this same structure? If you didn’t know of the spirit/shell idea, you’d think that humans were just another animal, though one with the most complicated brain (which is both a good thing and a bad thing).

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, that’s also where the whole “created in God’s image thing gets a little complicated.

        • Jim Hoerst

          There is no teaching or scientific fact, particularly biology in the Bible, that has any value to modern science. Please explain why a reasoning person would accept a teaching from the Bible on the issue of “spirit.”

        • Pofarmer

          Yep. When you look at all the physical, verifiable stuff the bible, and then church got verifiably, absolutely wrong, why would you think they got the metaphysical stuff right?

        • JohnH2

          Was this to me? So when I said the same regardless of who or what is dying I actually meant that, the situation is the same for any thing which is capable of dying. Even those things which are not capable of dying (and the dead bodies of whatever died) is not devoid of spirit, not even sub-atomic particles.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Do non-humans have souls?

        • JohnH2

          I thought I just answered that question? Yes, everything has a soul: my scriptures clearly lay out some form of panpsychism.

    • http://teethofthebuzzsaw.blogspot.com/ Leo Buzalsky

      Yeah…they tend to go the lame route of JohnH2 below that his human part died. While, of course, ignoring the contradictions in those claims that would also make one’s head hurt. (Like, what exactly is supposed to be so special about the human half and what did he really lose with that part dying? Because that would still be nothing like someone who is fully human dying.)

      • JohnH2

        That is your assertion; my assertion is that death is the separation of the spirit from the body and is therefore the same regardless of who or what it is that is dying.

        • MNb

          And how again is that immaterial spirit (let’s call it soul) supposed to interact with the material body, including the brain (or mind)? Previous time you ducked that answer.
          Or is the spirit material as well? Then I would like it’s qualities (mass etc.) after death.
          Your thinking remains meaningless.

        • JohnH2

          I have never ducked the first question because the Spirit is material. I don’t know the mass and etc. any more then I know your mass and etc (or if it has mass, I assume you do). I will freely admit that the idea is coming from my scriptures and not from a scientific theory; it is in principle discoverable what it means to have a material spirit but there isn’t enough there to make testable predictions and it isn’t given as a scientific theory.

        • MNb

          In other words – you’re delivering bogus.
          You see, it’s easy to measure my mass. Any calibrated balance will do. So this

          ” I don’t know the mass and etc. any more then I know your mass”
          is a cheapo. Physicists are able to determine the mass of all material things in the Universe. Except your soul.
          Very, very convincing.

          “I will freely admit that the idea is coming from my scriptures”
          An argument from authority. Hence you reject the scientific method when it suits you.
          I suspect like all believers.

        • JohnH2

          ” it’s easy to measure my mass. Any calibrated balance will do”

          Really? let me just take my calibrated balance here and measure your mass, oh wait, you aren’t here for me to do it, seems like a problem. You therefore must not exist, now if I could only get a neutrino to sit on my scale…

        • Itarion

          The fact that you are not in a position to take his mass doesn’t mean that he is massless, nor does it mean he doesn’t exist. Something very much resembling a person capable of having a coherent conversation that goes by the name of MNb clearly exists, as such an entity responds to your remarks, in such a manner that you and any onlookers are capable of noticing them. The comment record on Cross Examined is such that we know that it is unlikely that the entity behind JohnH2 would have a second account MNb, both of which exist purely for the sake of providing countering arguments. Further, we can look at the syntax choice of each profile, and the locations of comments, and determine that they are radically different, and so not the same entity. Thus, we can say with high confidence that there is a person behind the account named MNb.

        • JohnH2

          So I know MNb exists because of a written record of his dealings with others? What an interesting concept.

        • Itarion

          Close, but no. You know he exists because he himself has written these words.

          The difference is that, to my knowledge, the Gospels are written about Jesus, rather than by Jesus. I can tell you all about my friend Bjork Byurnsun, who is staying at my neighbors as a foreign exchange student, doing remarkably well in Calculus comparative to the rest of the class, and has not even the slightest trouble with any of three different languages. His knowledge of Scandinavian myth, by the way, is terribly fascinating, and he tells me a new story every time we hang out and play basketball.

          You know all of these things I have told you about him, but you have no real proof that Bjork exists, because Bjork hasn’t said this. You don’t even know that the stuff I said about myself is true. You just know that a claimed atheist who uses the screen name Itarion exists, and you’ll find MY comments to support it. The Gospels are just hearsay, and secondhand accounts, which, while potentially useful in understanding the time period, are poor as evidence for a person.

        • JohnH2

          You may have forgotten who you are talking to, because I don’t depend on just the Gospels for the record, and some of what I have was written by Jesus.

        • Itarion

          Ah, yes. Our local expert on all things Jesusy.

          The Gospels are just what I am familiar with, due to the upbringing I had, which is why I used them. The fact, as Bob has posted about, is that the documents we have are not from the era of Jesus. They’re from, at the very oldest, a century or two after that. Without documentation from the era, it’s just hearsay.

          I’m not saying that there isn’t a historical Jesus, but without significant, undeniable evidence for something outside the natural [a supernatural], I feel no compulsion to believe in such, and no compunction about not believing in such.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          … let alone a supernatural person.

        • Jim Hoerst

          The religious are long on argument and short on evidence.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Maybe the soul just drives the body around, like a Zamboni?

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t that going the Gnostic route, more or less? Maybe Arianism, but not exactly.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, more or less, and sort of but not exactly. I thought you already knew what I am?

        • smrnda

          Just a question – I don’t really see any evidence for spirits. If I boil some water and eventually the pop is empty, we have means of detecting increased humidity in the surrounding air. If spirits separate from the body at death, why hasn’t there been some push to document this with evidence?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          God acts in our world when it’s convenient for Christians, but he’s spiritual and undetectable when it’s not.

        • JohnH2

          To attempt to document this requires that one believe in the theory enough to test it, be in a position where one can test it, and get approval (and funding) in order to test it, and have some theory as to what one is looking for.

          I don’t know what one would even be looking for in looking for the spirit.

        • Pofarmer

          “I don’t know what one would even be looking for in looking for the spirit.”

          Words fail me

        • Kodie

          To attempt to document this requires that one believe in the theory
          enough to test it, be in a position where one can test it, and get
          approval (and funding) in order to test it, and have some theory as to
          what one is looking for.

          Funding, a problem for religion? You must be shitting me. Nobody puts it to the test because there’s extremely short odds of finding zilch.

    • Greg G.

      Jesus shows reluctance in the Synoptics but not so much in John.

      • Pofarmer

        Yeah, but he still knew what was coming, and, supposedly, could have gotten out of it if he had reaaallllyyyyy wanted to.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          My approach is different. If Jesus was God and knew the plan, why would he show the reluctance that we see in Mark? It makes more sense if you take an adoptionist approach, that Jesus was merely a good man, given the Holy Spirit at the baptism, which then left him as just an ordinary guy again on the cross.

          (And, on a different subject, why was it all that big a deal? Sure, that’s six hours of agony I wouldn’t want to see inflicted on anyone, but he pops back into existence in a day and a half. What sacrifice?)

        • Pofarmer

          Heck, one guy has had himself crucified every year since 1990.

          http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/life/whats-it-be-crucified-501065

          Which points out one other thing that doesn’t make sense. The Romans crucified people because it took a long time to die. 6 hours shouldn’t have been that big a deal.

        • Pattrsn

          He had a schedule to keep. He was probably thinking “should I give it another hour? Maybe just a couple of groans, a gasp and call it a day.”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        And even in the progression of the synoptics, you see a progression in this direction. In Mark 14, it’s “take this cup from me” and then “Father, why have you forsaken me?” But in Luke, we have a calm Jesus, more concerned about others’ anxiety and the souls of the soldiers than about his own agony.

        • MNb

          If we accept that Jesus was historical and crucified the explanation is incredibly simple. Jesus was reciting the Psalms to help him endure the pain. Now just read Psalm 22:1.
          Secular explanations are cool.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Secular explanations are cool, but if we accept that the author of Mark didn’t necessarily document history as a journalist would, we have an even simpler explanation: He put the words into the mouth of Jesus to add credibility to his account. “See? Fulfilled prophecy! Respond to that, bitch!”

          (Though Mark’s trash talk was admittedly literary license on my part.)

    • Y. A. Warren

      If we strip out all the stuff about Jesus being created to die for the sins of the world, and that he was “God” the stories make more sense.

      • Greg G.

        But the earliest writings about Jesus are about his death and resurrection as a path for salvation and nothing more. The gospel stories make sense when you realize that the are fictional accounts created from bits of the literature of the day.

        • MNb

          The predictions that he would soon return (eg Matth 24:34) to establish his kingdom on earth don’t make sense when the Gospels are only fictional accounts – the authors knew it hadn’t happened.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, that may be, but if you follow folks like Ehrman, the apocalyptic movement in first century Judea seems to have been pretty wide spread. It seems there was a hope that he would return, and things were written around that. If, the synoptics were written after the fall of the Second Temple, which seems likely, then Jesus death as a metaphor for the destruction of the Temple works just as well, with the coming kingdom being the rebuilding of the temple and restructuring of Judea. Or something. It just gets crazy.

        • MNb

          That all doesn’t really answer the question why authors who knew that the second coming hadn’t occurred yet put words into Jesus’ mouth that suggest that he would come back soon. The only reasonable explanation is that Jesus actually said it – which means that in some way or another he is historical. This is called the principle of embarrassment.

        • Pofarmer

          How do we know they weren’t just apeing Paul?

        • Greg G.

          The early Christians seem to believe that since they were seeing revelations of long hidden mysteries, that the Messiah was about to come soon. That can be seen in:

          1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NIV)
          17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

          Matthew 24:34-36 comes from Mark 13:30-32. Luke 21:32-33 drops the last verse about “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” as if downplaying the failure of the kingdom to materialize. Remember that Mark ends with the women being told to tell the disciples to go to Galilee but they were afraid to tell and with the Parable of the Evil Tenants in Mark 12:1-12, Mark is showing why the kingdom never came.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          So Mark documents the failure of their fundamental claim, the promised second coming?

        • Greg G.

          I think so. The oldest versions of Mark end at the women being afraid. That seems to be an excuse like the prophecy that there would always be a descendant of David on the throne but God reneges because they offered sacrifices from the wrong mountains.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Dang it! It’s always the fine print that trips you up.

          Moses found that out when he made a slight error in carrying out God’s command (Num. 20:12). “You lose!” God said. “No Promised Land for you.”

        • Itarion

          “You get nothing! You LOSE! Good DAY, sir!”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Lord moves in mysterious ways?

        • Itarion

          The Lord holds to the ultrafine print escape clause.

      • Pofarmer

        Well, yeah, but that’s kind of the point.

        • Y. A. Warren

          What is “kind of the point”?

        • Pofarmer

          The whole theological point, pretty much.

        • Y. A. Warren

          It is AN interpretation of the story of Jesus that I interpret differently.

        • Kodie

          He’s a character in a story, so maybe this character said a few wise things, but that’s still no reason to build your life around him.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This is the problem with C.S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” (false) trilemma.

          let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.

          Bullshit. We can get wisdom from Gibran’s The Prophet. We can get wisdom from the holy books of the other guy’s religion. We can get wisdom from a comic book.

  • Greg G.

    Online dating could provide a few analogies to this topic. You can operate on faith that the persona you are talking to is a real person but but there has to be some proof before it can be a relationship IRL.

  • Itarion

    But the Babel fish is a dead giveaway. You proved yourself with that, so by your own admission you are nothing.

  • Jim Hoerst

    The supernatural Jesus is a work of fiction. If there was a natural Jesus we have no way of knowing who he was or what he taught because as far as we know there are no documents about him. So we have no way of knowing about the supernatural Jesus except what the Scriptures which are highly dubious give us.

    The supernatural Jesus is a product of the Church’s imagination and his teachings are based on the needs of the Church at the time the gospels were published.

    Your invisible friend is nothing more than your religious conditioning, ancient mythology, and you imagination.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    That quote attributed to Stephen Law does not match what is given at the link:

    In fact, it is often said there is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. In A Marginal Jew – Rethinking The Historical Jesus, for example, John Meier notes that what we know about Alexander the Great could fit on a few sheets of paper, yet no one doubts that Alexander existed. [...]

    [...elided quotes of three other similar claims...]

    My concern here is with the claim that there is, indeed, historical evidence sufficient firmly to establish the existence of Jesus. Note that while I question whether there is, in fact, such historical evidence, I do not argue that we are justified in supposing that Jesus is an entirely mythical figure (I remain no less sceptical about that claim).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Since what I quoted is a subset of this, with the appropriate ellipsis, I’m not seeing the problem.

      If you’re concerned about the Jesus Myth question, that’s not an area of much interest to me.

      • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

        WTF?

        Your editing of the quote changes it from Stephen reporting the statements of others, to you attributing those statements directly to Stephen – that’s not cool, ever.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is it the case that Stephen feels that “what we know about Alexander could fit on a few sheets of paper”? If so, no harm done.

          My style is to minimize quoted passages. I wade through long, semi-relevant quotes on other blogs and don’t like to force that on my readers here.

        • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

          You attributed this to Stephen:

          There is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. …

          What Stephen actually wrote:

          In fact, it is often said there is as much evidence for an historical Jesus as there is for the existence of a great many other historical figures whose existence is never seriously doubted. …

          In the first, you’re attributing the quoted claim to Stephen, when what he wrote was him reporting not his own beliefs but the claims of others. Honest handling of quotes does not involve attributing positions to people that they do not hold.

  • Rain

    “Seek not to understand so you may believe, but believe so you may understand.”

    I’m still amazed that Augustine ever mastered the art of the bow tie. Not the brightest rocket scientist ever. It’s amazing he can even tie his own shoes. Wonders never cease.

    • Pofarmer

      Yep, but he was very devout, and wrote what the Catholic Church wanted,

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I wonder how many fields of human activity he felt that this was good advice for. Crossing a busy street? Negotiating a contract?

      • Pofarmer

        Any of the, that might contradict the church.

    • Y. A. Warren

      Augustine had his mommy and his whore to tie his shoes for him…and he is a “father” of “The Church”

  • Maria White

    I think a youtuber called Darkmatter2525 really hit the nail in the head of the ‘true nature’ of god, using basically this same argument. In essence what he says is that “god” is actually the ego, which is why a person can say ‘without a doubt’ how god feels and how ‘god knows’ them so well. Because their ego is god.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU


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