Is This a Powerful New Apologetic Argument?

Jesus apologetics atheistI’m always looking for an innovative new argument for Christian claims, and “Jesus Christ: Greater Than You Knew, Too Great Not To Be True” by Tom Gilson didn’t disappoint. It didn’t disappoint because I expected it to be unpersuasive.

And the perpetual quest continues …

While we’re here, however, let’s take a look. The key point in Gilson’s argument, as you might guess from the title, is that Jesus is perfect—too perfect to be merely literature or legend. He illustrates this with three questions.

1. Who are the most powerful characters in all of human history and imagination? He gives as examples Andrew Carnegie, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and Superman. A few additional names come to mind, so I’ll add John Connor from the Terminator movies, the Watchmen (comics heroes), Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.

Gilson would add Jesus to this list, but let’s consider this. He would say that Jesus was God and therefore the creator of everything. Let’s ignore the fact that the Trinity was an invention centuries after the gospels and consider what God supposedly created. In Genesis 1, God reshapes existing Play-Doh to make the water-dome world of the Sumerians. The stars are insignificant in this story and their creation gets half a verse, though science tells us that the universe is 1027 times larger than the earth.

The actual universe is impressive, but God’s art project is minor by comparison. Sure, let’s add Jesus/God, but remember the tiny “universe” he’s credited with creating.

2. Who are the most self-sacrificial, other-oriented, giving, and caring persons? Gilson suggests Mother Teresa and Sir Galahad. (He clearly views Teresa as the saint-to-be that many Christians imagine rather than the controversial figure who celebrated suffering rather than heal disease.)

We don’t need fiction or mythology to find self-sacrifice. The internet is full of stories of actual heroes who put themselves in danger to rescue strangers from drowning or from burning buildings. There are military personnel who died to save their comrades. A famous example within Christian circles is Maximilian Kolbe, a friar imprisoned in Auschwitz who volunteered to die in the place of a stranger.

About the unsung heroism in everyday life, author Peggy Noonan said,

The bravest things we do in our lives are usually known only to ourselves. No one throws ticker tape on the man who chose to be faithful to his wife, on the lawyer who didn’t take the drug money, or the daughter who held her tongue again and again.

Taking the noble or self-sacrificing path is a big deal for most people because we have a choice. Gilson, of course, wants to add Jesus to this list, but his sacrifice isn’t as substantial as Gilson seems to imagine. Jesus didn’t experience any agonizing choice; he simply knew the right path and took it. His sacrifice was a painful weekend—frankly, not that big a deal.

3. Who belongs on both lists? Gilson proposes Gandalf and Superman for this category but imagines Jesus standing alone, unrivaled in history and fiction as “a character of unparalleled power and self-sacrifice, with no mar or imperfection of any sort.”

But there are other contenders. Obi-wan Kenobi from Star Wars sacrificed himself for the benefit of Luke and the rebel cause—and this was the old-fashioned, died-and-stayed-dead kind of sacrifice. Neo from The Matrix trilogy sacrificed his life to save the city of Zion. Shiva is a Hindu god who drank poison to protect the universe.

My choice for this category is Prometheus, the god who brought fire to mankind. He was punished by being chained to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver each day, only to have it regrow overnight for the agonizing process to repeat. (And Christians think that Jesus had it rough.)

What did Jesus do?

Jesus gave us salvation, a solution to a problem he invented, while Prometheus gave us fire, something that’s actually objectively useful.

If we separate Jesus from the rest of the Trinity and look at just what the New Testament tells us, Jesus didn’t do much. He killed a fig tree. He cured some lepers. He raised Lazarus. Sure, Jesus cured by magic, and that’s pretty cool, but he did less good in his healing ministry than a single modern doctor does. He didn’t eliminate smallpox, for example—modern medicine did.

Of course, the New Testament is where we see the doctrine of hell, though I’m not sure that’s much to celebrate.

Gilson scratches his head trying to figure out the skeptical alternative to the Christian interpretation. We have a story was transmitted orally for decades as it moved from Jewish culture into a new Greek culture (with precedents for dying-and-rising gods, virgin birth, and other elements found in the gospel story), and you can’t see how legend could explain this? What’s left unexplained? It’s like Gilson has never heard of any new religion developing.

He marvels at the power of the gospel story, but why is that surprising? It was polished through retellings for decades before being written, and then reinterpreted for centuries after that as church fathers haggled over points of doctrine.

The problem with Gilson’s apologetic

Gilson is a Jesus fanboy, and he has an inflated view of the contribution of Jesus. He tells us that any other literary or historical sacrifice “[pales] beside the sacrifice of Christ.” He was “a character of moral excellence beyond any other in all history or human imagination.” No competing story gets the “crucial aspect of Jesus’ character—his perfect power and perfect goodness—exactly right, without flaw.”

I think we’ve found the problem. Was Jesus that great? Not if you read the gospels.

  • Jesus didn’t stop slavery, didn’t reject polygamy, and didn’t denounce God’s genocide in the Old Testament. Gilson acknowledges without rebuttal that Jesus did nothing to addressing the issues that we reject today.
  • Jesus wanted faith without evidence, as in the Doubting Thomas story (“blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed”).
  • Jesus said that his mission was only to the “lost sheep of Israel” and cautioned his disciples to avoid wasting time with those who couldn’t appreciate the message (“don’t cast your pearls before swine”).
  • Jesus demanded single-minded devotion (“those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”).
  • Jesus demanded faith instead of planning for the future (“take no thought for the morrow”; “do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear”)

It may be that Jesus towers over all other figures from history and fiction in Gilson’s mind, but the gospel story itself shows him to be a not-especially-perfect deity. This is nicely explained as legendary development.

A thorough knowledge of the bible
is worth about as much
as a thorough knowledge of Harry Potter.
JT Eberhard

Photo credit: sonofgodresources.com

Response To an Angry Christian
The Inadequate Deist Argument
25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 11)
Wondering What to Give that Christian or Atheist on Your List?
About Bob Seidensticker
  • JohnH2

    In my opinion his argument at least sounds better in the original Latin (of which this is just a quote):

    aliquid quo nihil maius cogitari potest. -Anselm

    And he didn’t even reference Anselm but claimed the argument is “new”.

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

      You’re saying that this is a variation on the ontological argument? Interesting point–I hadn’t seen this. Thanks.

      • JohnH2

        Yes, the main thrust in the article very strongly appears to be a variation of the ontological argument, a different form but the same sort of idea.

        • Dys

          Based on the description Bob gave above, it appears that Gilson appeals to the wishful thinking side of things even more blatantly than most ontological arguments do.

      • MNb

        Ah, I like the ontological argument. Replace “perfectly good” with “perfectly evil” and we end up with two omnipotent immaterial beings.

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

          … locked in perpetual battle in a cage match! Because anything less would be less than perfect.

          Pass the popcorn.

    • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

      JohnH2, the similarities with the OA have been noted by many. The differences are significant enough, however, to make this a completely different discussion altogether.

  • RichardSRussell

    To Gilson’s fawning list of Jesus’s many and unmatched admirabilities, we can add “liar”:

    Matthew 16:28: “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

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

      Give the guy a break–he was only human.

      • wtfwjtd

        Reminds me of a Star Trek episode, in which Kirk and pals were mistaken by some of the natives as gods–but one doubter managed to cut Kirk with a knife, and wasn’t fooled: “You bleed! Behold the god who bleeds!”

    • wtfwjtd

      To that liar list I would also add John 14:12-13: ” I tell you the truth, he who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do greater works than these. And I will do whatever you ask in my name,…”

      Oops, that’s 2 lies in one there. And, to Bob’s list of problems:
      1) Jesus demanded hatred of father and mother, as a requirement of following him; and
      2) He states plainly he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword.

      Yeah,put me down as one of the unimpressed.

    • CodyGirl824

      And you claim to know exactly to whom Jesus was speaking and what Jesus meant by “not taste of death” and “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” when you call him a liar?!

      • 90Lew90

        I think it was the bit about Jesus saying to the people who were in his company *at that very time* that his *return* would happen within their lifetimes. Still waiting…

        “Snort. Unfff. Snore. Huh? Is he back yet?”

        “No. Go back to sleep.”

        • CodyGirl824

          Jesus returned from the grave, resurrected, within the lifetime of 11 of the 12 disciples.

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

          The Skeptics Annotated Bible has a long list of the apocalyptic claims of Jesus. Are you saying that they were all fulfilled when Jesus returned (for somewhere between 1 day and 40 days, depending on which source you use).

        • 90Lew90

          No. You don’t get away with that. He was talking about the Second Coming, the Rapture. Mathew 24:25-35. Suck it up. The man was just wrong.

          25 Behold, I have told you before.

          26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

          27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

          28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

          29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

          30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

          31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

          32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

          33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

          34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

          35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

        • 90Lew90

          What about the whole failed prophecy of Jesus thing Cody?

        • CodyGirl824

          Who says that what you are referring to is a “failed prophecy”?

        • 90Lew90

          Jesus.

        • CodyGirl824

          So you claim that Jesus called his own prophecy a “failed prophesy”?

          Here is an explanation of the meaning of Matthew 16:28. http://www.learnthebible.org/matthew-1628.html

          I’m really not interested in playing “Stumb the Christian” with you, Lew, since you have some rather bizarre interpretations of passages lifted out of context in the Bible. Websites such as this one may be useful to you if you are sincere about understanding the Gospel.

        • 90Lew90

          Bollocks. Sorry, but I’ve had a long day. Out of context? Bollocks. I gave you the context. You’d be laughed out of court.

        • Kodie

          So it’s ok to take the passage of DoI out of context when you do it, but it’s not ok if someone takes a different interpretation of the gospel than you do, because “in context” you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean, which is “Jesus never, ever fails! Shut up!”

        • Kodie

          Jesus.

          I can hardly tell if you are answering her question or simply exasperated.

        • 90Lew90

          Did you read it? He’s pretty explicit. How come it didn’t come true? I’m all ears.

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

        Your point is that he wasn’t a liar, just mistaken? OK, but since he’s omniscient, I think that he would know that it wasn’t going to play out that way.

        • wtfwjtd

          Like you said Bob, give the guy a break, after all he’s only human!

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

          Yeah, touche.

        • MNb

          Ah, you beat me with this comment.

        • CodyGirl824

          I am merely pointing out that folks are calling Jesus a liar based on their own subjective interpretation of his words. This is pretty flimsy evidence of lying, which implies a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth with the intent to deceive. IOW, folks here are accusing Jesus of deliberately and intentionally misleading his followers. I doubt that his followers saw it that way.

        • 90Lew90

          But he was GAWWWD! He told those poor little people he loved so much that he’d be back in a jiffy. He told them all to give away everything they owned and “have no care for the morrow” and all that. If he was “God” either he thought he’d be back in a jiffy or he was lying. If not he was just human, possibly a bit mad, believed he would be back in a jiffy and therefore wasn’t technically lying, but he was just a guy. And he was just a guy who really wasn’t *that* impressive when you look at all the sophisticated thought that was produced in his time, and before his time, and most importantly *since* his time if we take *his* time to extend to the point at which belief in him was unconditional. Shaking the religion of Jesus off was one of the best things humanity has done for itself. I’d like to see the job finished.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are basing these accusations against Jesus’ character on your own misinterpretation of his words. I know that your plan for civilization is the eradication of Christianity. Gee, you must be thrilled. Only 2.3 billion of us left to go!

        • 90Lew90

          How am I misinterpreting him. What did he really mean? Grow up. Have you ever seen someone shot? Have you ever seen someone blown up? Have you ever seen the aftermath of a bomb? Can I tell you that one of my earliest memories is of a piece of masonry coming through my bedroom window after a newly built catholic church was blown up opposite my parents’ house. It was blown up by protestants. You, my dear, are wilfully stupid. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

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

          (Hmm–you do raise a good point in passing. The most popular religion is obviously correct.)

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          No one in this thread or any thread has said we want to eradicate Christianity. If they have, then they’re not being a good secular humanist.

        • Kodie

          He’s like the date who says “I’ll call you.”

        • MNb

          Or rather Jesus wasn’t exactly omniscient for the simple reason that he was the son of two human beings and nothing more.

        • Kodie

          You’ve been misled, so…. your answer is he didn’t mean to mislead anyone? That’s ok, Jesus, I forgi… no, that’s not how it goes.

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

          So we have Jesus (1) being omniscient and (2) saying stuff that turns out not to be true. The lying charge seems to be plausible.

      • RichardSRussell

        I take the story as it was written. I have no idea whether Jesus even actually lived, but — on the basis of what his fan base claims he said — yes, the story in Matthew makes it crystal clear that this was a lie. And that Jesus uttered it to his followers there assembled. And that it was the cause of one of the earliest wrenching schisms in the Christian church when it became apparent that nobody was coming at all, let alone trailing some kind of kingdom behind him.

      • Deanjay1961

        Matthew 16:28 “And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
        Who do YOU think he was talking to if not people standing right there when he was speaking?

  • 90Lew90

    Do you have to be a complete philistine to be a Christian? How inane! How juvenile! It’s not a kick in the ass off “my Dad could beat your Dad in a fight!”
    As ancient heroes go, I’m pretty keen on Achilles…

  • John

    John Adams: The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God

    Benjamin Franklin: As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and His religion as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see.

    Thomas Jefferson: I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others.

    George Washington: While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian

    • Rudy R

      Sounds like an appeal to authority. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the Founding Fathers thought about religion, because that was not their wheelhouse.

      • smrnda

        I don’t get it either. Many of the founding fathers owned slaves, but yet the fact that they owned slaves is not being taken (at least I hope not) as an indication that slavery is good. So likewise, who cares about their religious beliefs?

        • 90Lew90

          I would since they’re being misrepresented as untouchable Christian paragons and also being used misrepresent the US as being foundationally Christian. It’s perfectly fine to say, “Newton was a Christian.” Yes, he was. It’s also fine to say, “Newton was an alchemist.” Yes, he was that too. But these men were barely Christian and what is more important about them is that they were secularists — radical for their time — and it’s as fair to say of them as it is of Newton that if they lived today they would more than likely be atheist. Their secularism was bold. Most of them (as can be seen from their statements that John wheels out, and which I’ve set in context) were deists. That was also radical, but at the cutting edge of what was intellectually respectable to declare of oneself in their time. The Christian who waves them around as being all about Christianity is either dishonest or completely ignorant.

        • JohnH2

          Ben Franklin and George Washington were both Masons. Franklin might not have been really into Christianity but claiming that he was in any sense an atheist or leaned at all that way is deeply dishonest.

        • wtfwjtd

          Deism is a lot closer to atheism than it is to theism.

        • JohnH2

          The Masons would very strongly disagree with you, as nearly every theist could answer correctly their questions and no atheists.

        • wtfwjtd

          I said it was closer, not identical. Mason beliefs aren’t Christianity by a long shot, and acknowledging a “supreme being” is a far different thing than believing in the divinity of Jesus, for starters.

        • JohnH2

          True, and many atheist scientists express ideas that come very close to Deism.

        • 90Lew90

          If you’ll read the full quote from Franklin, which I’ve given above, he says of Jesus: “I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to his divinity”. He also says: “I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence”. What we call ‘belief in belief’, which is a kind of snobbery that religious belief is good for ‘the little people’ if it makes them happy. Did you bother to read the posts in their context? Obviously not. Similarly with Washington, who I won’t be quoting again, but I would point you to the posting I’ve already made and quoted above. With references. Washington was rallying an army. Are you that blind? Wilfully blind. Surely you have enough “heroes” to choose from without trying to cadge for your own some of the boldest secularists who ever lived and who built a great country on secular values. They were, as indeed even Richard Dawkins calls himself, “cultural Christians”. I might even be one of those myself. But the dishonesty in this game is all yours. It’s either dishonesty or ignorance. Either way you have no excuse.

        • JohnH2

          You apparently know absolutely nothing about Masonry; I am not claiming they were Christian (or Jefferson either), but they strongly believed in the immortality of the soul and in their being a Divine Architect They were some of the greatest Masons that ever lived and built the nation on Masonic values; which religion a person is isn’t important for the Masons, the results are. Franklin wasn’t expressing a secular thought but a Masonic one.

        • 90Lew90

          They were not Christians. That is what is important here. The only thing each of them espoused, clearly, in the quotes I gave, was a kind of cultural Christianity, or a belief in the moral force of the values Jesus espoused. These were men of the 18th Century. Their actual beliefs were deist. Not Christian. They were Enlightenment men. Within twenty years of them Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote his “A Refutation of Deism”. There is a clear dichotomy (particularly with Washington) between what they were prepared to say in public and what they were prepared to say in private correspondence, and we can even take that to have been self-consciously polite to some extent. Franklin was a secularist to his core. Do you even know what secularism is? Don’t make me laugh. It’s late and I’ve had a couple of beers. Did they give that funny little tickly handshake as masons? Protestantism itself was still pretty radical in these mens’ time. Stop trying to read them through your own lens and read some history. In fact, don’t just read some history, read a lot of it. As much as you can. Get off your apologetics bullshit because it seems to me that it does nothing but lead people up the garden path. It has no integrity, as your cohort “John” demonstrates.

        • JohnH2

          Yes they gave funny handshakes, swore oaths, stepped left foot first on the tau cross, and there are even paintings of them in their Masonic Garb, with Franklin going through the rites in England and France as well. http://gwmemorial.org/washingtonTheMason.php http://www.masonicdictionary.com/franklin.html

          If all you are wanting is them to not be Christian, I already admitted that.

        • 90Lew90

          But your cohort, John, planted some selective quotes from them, mined and in some cases edited, onto the comments on this blog. Maybe I misconstrued, but it seemed he was pushing the “this is and always has been a Christian country” line. “Hey, just look at what our Founders said!” That’s dishonest and/or ignorant. All I’ve said is that they were secularists first, whatever else they were in their time, because they didn’t know then what we know now. And you’re arguing. About what? I don’t know. It seems like you’re trying to hang onto something to me. Why don’t you spit it out?

        • JohnH2

          my *cohort*? Given the quotes, I would be shocked if John thought I was a Christian.

          I am disagreeing about what they were first, you are wrong about them being secularist first, Franklin in the quote wasn’t at all addressing a secular idea, but rather he was talking about Masonic ideas and ideals.

          Masonry has as it basis things that come from when the celestial spheres was the cosmology of the universe, and is able to deal with differing cosmologies equally well because of what it is and isn’t. Given that there have continued to be politicians and presidents who are Masons well after whatever time you think we now “know” more you have no basis for claiming that any of the founding fathers would be atheists today; and any suggestion that they were at all closet ones then is utterly wrong, but understandably so if one isn’t aware of Masonic thought.

        • smrnda

          Don’t many Christian sects have a negative view of Masons?

        • JohnH2

          Yes, Catholics get excommunicated for being a Mason, for example.

        • smrnda

          I’d heard that they were considered kind of a cult by many denominations so thanks for the info there. I’ve never really known much about them, but I wasn’t Joseph Smith a Mason? Is being a Mason OK for Mormons? I’m also wondering since the Mormon view of god is a bit different from other Christian denominations; was that a Masonic influence?

        • JohnH2

          Joseph Smith and nearly all of the leadership of the church for quite some time were Masons. When other Masons came to Utah they claimed the church itself was irregular masonry (due to the temple ceremony) and barred Mormons from becoming Masons for a while. It has always been ok on the part of Mormons to be a Mason (I am not a Mason).

          The Masonic view of God is more general than specific, allowing it to be applied to nearly all religions of the world, as is the point of it. The Mormon view is very specific so that isn’t from Masonary. The Masonic rite and the Mormon Endowment are what are very close, but also have large differences as well. Not sure I should really be explaining either.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know a whole lot about the Masons, but I do know you don’t actually have to believe in what a club is about to join and participate in it and get all the networking opportunities and prestige of being a member. I’m sure you got some Mormons like that as well.

        • wtfwjtd

          Admitting to being anything other than Christian was and still is politically toxic in the US, and always has been. However, most folks are content with a cultural Christian, and will vote for a politician who deigns fealty to Christianity, even if they wouldn’t admit it. To push the founders of the United States as active in the cause of Christianity is, as you said, fundamentally flawed and dishonest.

        • CodyGirl824

          Our nation may not be “foundationally Christian” in that Christianity is not established as the state religion, no religion is. But our nation is foundationally theistic.

        • 90Lew90

          How’s that Cody? Two of the Founders I’ve quoted above doubted the divinity of Jesus. What they valued was the moral force of the statements attributed to him as a man. And they include with the moral force of Jesus’s statements that of the philosophers who lived before and after him. That is not theism. That is secularism.

        • CodyGirl824

          Do you disagree that the DOI, which makes reference to our Creator and Nature’s God, makes an argument for our human rights based on theism? Claims about the religious beliefs or lack thereof of Founders are irrelevant.

        • 90Lew90

          Stop grabbing at straws. As I said, they were Enlightenment men. The whole foundation of thought on which the notion of universal human rights is based came from the European Enlightenment. That came from the Renaissance, and the Renaissance refers to a “renaissance” (or “rebirth”) of classical (mostly Greek) thought which Christians rejected and attempted to bury after Nicaea. Christianity itself would have died out if Christians hadn’t borrowed heavily from the Greek thought they tried to stamp out, not once, but twice. Now go away. Silly girl. JESUS!

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re the one grabbing at straws.

        • 90Lew90

          How is that Cody? How exactly is that. You’re exasperating. I haven’t managed to figure out this stuff without effort, and that being the case, excuse me but I find clueless, childish, schoolyard arguments from stupidity exasperating.

        • MNb

          You’re not even capable of looking beyond the borders of your country.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm no. They were writing conceptually in vague deistic terms nearly 100 years before Darwinian Evolution was formalized. It was kind of the only thing they had to go on, and they took it as far as they could. Hell, they were throwing off a God appointed Monarch.

        • 90Lew90

          Darwin himself used the term “creator” in ‘Origin’.

        • smrnda

          That sounds more like ceremonial deism.

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

          our
          nation is foundationally theistic.

          Oh? Where does it say that in the Constitution?

          What’s that? You say it’s not in the Constitution? But then what can you be saying but the (irrelevant) observation that it came from a largely Christian culture?

          (And I think you want to think before clicking “Post” so that Lew doesn’t have to take you behind the woodshed for a thrashing. Again.)

        • CodyGirl824

          So, in addition to verbal abuse of Christians, you now allow physical abuse?

        • Kodie

          Is it physical abuse to use a metaphor? When were you physically abused and when did Bob allow it?

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

          Obviously, I was speaking metaphorically.

          Still, it did happen. Metaphorically.

          Perhaps your ego is such that you don’t mind some give and take where you must change your views. OK, that’s great to hear. Still, more uninformed comments about our constitution will get you more of the same.

        • wtfwjtd

          Have you ever actually taken a look at what a theocratic regime looks like? How many human rights does a theocracy grant its citizens? The plain fact is, that theocracy is the enemy of people’s individual rights, no matter how much you might fantasize to the contrary.

        • CodyGirl824

          The USA is not a theocracy, but its foundations are theistic. Consider the difference.

        • Kodie

          Could you compare Christianity’s principles to the foundations of US government? Because if it’s not socialist you want, then it’s theocracy.

        • wtfwjtd

          You can fantasize about it all you want to Cody, but the Ten Commandments and its prohibiting thought crime is not the basis of US law. There is no god in “We The People”.

        • CodyGirl824

          Who said anything about the 10 Commandments? Respect for human and civil rights, which in 1776 we declared as rights endowed by our Creator, the very highest authority, is the basis of our laws. I would assume that you understood this. We The People enumerated these rights “… in order to form a more perfect union….”

        • Kodie

          You seem to be deifying the founding fathers because “we declared as rights endowed by our Creator” doesn’t sync up with any biblical principles. You are just latching onto it because you like it, the same way you latch onto any of your beliefs. Furthermore, we all know what it says in the Declaration of Independence. You have failed to establish why it is relevant. “We the People” doesn’t imply or infer a creator or refer to the previous document. If you have anything other to do than repeat yourself, please go ahead.

        • Pofarmer

          The preamble is thoroughly secular,

        • 90Lew90

          You would do well to read this short article. It’s written for teenagers so you should be able to get it. It sums up nicely how the notion of human rights emerged not from religion (they were entirely absent in the millennium in which religion dominated, when horrors were commonplace and ignorance prevailed) but from the Enlightenment. The two figures whose ideas most directly influenced the Founders of your country were John Locke and Immanuel Kant.

          “Whether considered from an intellectual, political, or social standpoint, the advancements of the Enlightenment transformed the Western world into an intelligent and self-aware civilization. Moreover, it directly inspired the creation of the world’s first great democracy, the United States of America.”

          http://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/enlightenment/context.html

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

          One of the coolest things about America is that it gave the world the first example of a religion-free constitution. And now modern American Christians want to turn their back on that–turn their back on the very document that gives them the freedom to worship as they choose.

          Incredible.

        • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

          Cody – you keep making a large error in your posts.

          It’s not “our Creator,” it’s “their Creator.” Seems trivial, but it’s a huge difference.

        • wtfwjtd

          The 1791 Treaty of Tripoli states that “The United States is in no way Christian Nation…” So there.

        • smrnda

          What evidence is there that that statement is true? There was no Creator signing the declaration, and no Creator attended any of the meetings and such. If the DOI said ‘We are endowed by Batman with these rights’ it would be just as meaningful, as Batman was nowhere to be found during the proceedings

        • CodyGirl824

          You’ll have to ask the signers of the DOI these questions since these are their words, not mine. Of course, this will be hard to do since the document was written in 1776.

        • Kodie

          Hypocrite.

        • nakedanthropologist

          In other words, you have no substantive argument.

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

          its foundations are theistic.

          I doubt it, but let’s imagine you’re right. Show me how this is relevant. Or is this just a bit of trivia that you want to pass along?

          The Constitution is secular. QED.

        • Deanjay1961

          Funny that the only thing the Constitution has to say about religion is forbidding any religious test for public office, and forbidding Congress to establish religion or prohibit the free exercise of it. That is, what it has to say on the matter consists of secularism.

        • MNb

          Your nation.

        • JohnH2

          Actually much more foundationally Deistic, not Theistic.

        • KarlUdy

          Although deism is sometimes defined as a subset of theism, which if it were the case would support CodyGirl’s statement.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve never seen it defined as a “subset of theism”, probably because it’s not.

        • KarlUdy

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

          And atheists who like to define their atheism as a “rejection of theism” as opposed to an affirmation that there is no deity (ie those that say that atheism has no burden of proof) are using this definition.

          Or if they are using the more narrow definition then deists, polytheists and pantheists are also atheists.

        • Kodie

          A theist believes in a particular definition of god or gods.

        • Kodie

          Jenna is a deist or pantheist who slaps together her Christianity hodgepodge style and draws theological implications from wherever is convenient for her.

        • hector_jones

          I just now read her comment asserting that the Resurrection and the Second Coming were the same thing. Sooooooooo funny.

        • Pofarmer

          Our nation is founded on a secular govt. Many founders didn’t want a chaplain for Congress. Washington didn’t want to be sworn in on a bible, but it was the law in New York at the time.

        • Pofarmer

          Also keep in mind, these guys were writing nearly 100 years before Origin of Species. Today I don’t think we can fully comprehend how radical the thinking was.

    • 90Lew90

      I don’t get the relevance of this response, but whatever it’s about it’s a classic example of Christian quote-mining.

      What follows is the context of each of the quotes given by “John” above, the lengthiest being the first, from John Adams.

      You quote John Adams, and not only is he edited in your quote, but he’s taken out of context. It’s worth giving the context to that quote. As follows:

      “Who composed that Army of fine young Fellows that was then before my Eyes? There were among them, Roman Catholicks, English Episcopalians, Scotch and American Presbyterians, Methodists, Moravians, Anababtists, German Lutherans, German Calvinists Universalists, Arians, Priestleyans, Socinians, Independents, Congregationalists, Horse Protestants and House Protestants, Deists and Atheists; and “Protestans qui ne croyent rien ["Protestants who believe nothing"].” Very few however of several of these Species. Nevertheless all Educated in the general Principles of Christianity: and the general Principles of English and American Liberty.

      Could my Answer be understood, by any candid Reader or Hearer, to recommend, to all the others, the general Principles, Institutions or Systems of Education of the Roman Catholicks? Or those of the Quakers? Or those of the Presbyterians? Or those of the Menonists? Or those of the Methodists? or those of the Moravians? Or those of the Universalists? or those of the Philosophers? No.

      The general Principles, on which the Fathers Atchieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were united: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

      Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System. I could therefore safely say, consistently with all my then and present Information, that I believed they would never make Discoveries in contradiction to these general Principles. In favour of these general Principles in Phylosophy, Religion and Government, I could fill Sheets of quotations from Frederick of Prussia, from Hume, Gibbon, Bolingbroke, Reausseau and Voltaire, as well as Neuton and Locke: not to mention thousands of Divines and Philosophers of inferiour Fame.”

      Source: John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 28th, 1813, from Quincy. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams, edited by Lester J. Cappon, 1988, the University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, pp. 338-340.

      Full text online here: http://www.constitution.org/primarysources/adamsprinciples.html

      ——————————————————————————————

      You quote Benjamin Franklin to Ezra stiles, again, out of context, and this time more outrageously. Here it is in context:

      “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals, and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England some doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.”

      Source online here: http://www.constitution.org/primarysources/franklin-stiles.html

      ————————————————————————————————–

      You quote a line from Jefferson’s letter to Benjamin Rush. Here, again, is the context which allows Jefferson’s meaning to be expressed, rather than corrupted (the irony here is that Jefferson is railing against the corruption of Jesus’s doctrine in the hands of Christians):

      “In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798–99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry & reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.

      [...]

      I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed. It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behoves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God & himself.”

      ———————————————————————————————

      And finally you quote George Washington’s general orders for the public consumption of his new army, where you might have quoted from some of his private correspondence, a sample of which follows: “I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed. It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behoves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God & himself.”

      Letter to Edward Newenham (20 October 1792)

      ———————————————————————————————-

      Your selection of mined quotes does nothing but parade your dishonesty and your willingness to misrepresent those you wave around in the service of your dishonesty.

      • wtfwjtd

        Thanks for the context Lew!

        • 90Lew90

          Welcome!

      • John

        The purpose of the quotes was to contrast the author’s quote at the end of his piece, which seems speaks to his argument that smart people are not Christians, or theists. I don’t think your expanded quotes undermine the idea that the founding fathers were certainly of the theistic persuasion, were intolerant of forced belief systems, accepted Jesus’ teachings, and recognized the corruption of those teachings by the Church.
        This quote parades your intolerance and arrogance.”You selection of mined quotes does nothing but parade your dishonesty and your willingness to misrepresent those you wave around in the service of your dishonesty.”

        • Kodie

          Where did Bob use that argument? I actually found your post to be a non sequitur and derailed the thread, which is typical for a Christian.

        • John

          This is at the end of the essay:

          “A thorough knowledge of the bible
          is worth about as much
          as a thorough knowledge of Harry Potter.
          — JT Eberhard”

          Bob argues from this perspective in another essay, more specifically that Christians who get all the evidence become athiests, and rarely does it go the other way (atheists get more evidence and become Christians).

          ” I actually found your post to be a non sequitur and derailed the thread, which is typical for a Christian.” Thank you for that charitable and tolerant comment, typical for an atheist.

        • Kodie

          So you admit you have nothing to address the essay and you just wanted to talk about how the US is a Christian nation.

        • John

          No, I am not “admitting” anything. I was responding to the quote at the end of the essay. I didn’t “just want to talk” about anything. My goodness, you are a fiery thing; not very charitable or tolerant. Perhaps some anger issues? Good luck to you.

        • Kodie

          It is pretty typical and expected for a theist to join a conversation by picking out the least relevant part of the article and interpolate meaning in so he or she can ride their hobby horse and derail the thread. What is there to be tolerant of? That you came with an agenda and ignored the topic, or that you believe something pretty ignorant out of wishful thinking and which has already been debunked.

          Are you tolerant or charitable to the responses? No, you’re in firm denial.

          ETA: It’s also typical for a Christian to pull out the anger issues card at the earliest someone simply calls them on their bullshit. You must be guilty of it or else you wouldn’t immediately cast aspersions on me to cover yourself. I’m not angry, just making an observation, John. Why so sensitive?

        • John

          You have read a lot into fairly minimal contribution on my part. I am in firm denial? Of what? I chose to not engage the essay, but make a comment on the pointed quote at the end of the essay. So what? I did not seek to derail, but to offer a different perspective, that has been met with anger, insult, and now cursing: Just an observation.
          How have I not been charitable? I don’t think I have contributed enough to even be assessed, let alone insulted.
          Perhaps I appreciated the essay and just wanted to comment on the quote. Did you ever think about that? I really did not even comment on the essay, so did you think to ask? You assume quiet a bit. I thought atheists were all about evidence.

        • pianoman

          “Thank you for that charitable and tolerant comment, typical for an atheist.”

          Calling you out on your bullshit is not being intolerant.

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

          Christians who get all the evidence become athiests, and rarely does it go the other way (atheists get more evidence and become Christians).

          If you’re thinking of this post, you got it wrong.

        • 90Lew90

          As has been discussed, they were cultural Christians. Even Richard Dawkins calls himself a cultural Christian, and I might be one myself. Two of the Founders, in the expanded quotes, admitted they doubted the divinity of Jesus, but accepted the moral force of his teachings, without the mumbo-jumbo. Since they were barely Christians even in their day, and were more properly deists rather than theists, I think this rather torpedoes your attempt to claim they make good examples of smart Christians. You might as well have wheeled out Newton. It makes not a jot of difference to your non-argument and neither does it change the fact that you misrepresented them by quote-mining.

          Within 20 years of when most of these comments were written, Percy Bysshe Shelley felt able to write his ‘A Refutation of Deism’, and less than a hundred years later Charles Darwin would render actual atheism intellectually respectable. We’ve come a hell of a long way even since Darwin, never mind the Founders, to the extent that today, it simply is not intellectually respectable to hold to all the beliefs that Christianity demands one should, and perhaps it would be easier to believe that Christians aren’t stupid en masse if they didn’t keep clumsily making it look that way when they weigh in on arguments like this.

    • Dys

      Thomas Jefferson used an extremely customized definition of Christianity for himself…he wouldn’t be recognized by a Christian by any normal definition. He rejected Jesus’s divinity, his miracles, and did not believe in the god of the Old Testament (and thought the character was despicable).

      I’m not sure if you’re just trying to throw an ad populum out there for the Jesus cheerleaders, but these quotes don’t change the fact that Jesus is vastly overhyped by believers.

    • smrnda

      Just wondering, how would this argument matter to say, a citizen of another country deciding whether or not Christianity was true?

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

      As has been discussed in detail by other commenters, these selections don’t do justice to the persuasions of these leaders. Anyway, who cares? No law ought to be built on the personal feelings of some founding father.

      They put the rules into the Constitution–the secular Constitution.

      And I’m completely missing the context. How is this relevant?

      • CodyGirl824

        You ignore the Declaration of Independence, the first document of our commonwealth, which is entirely based on theistic reasoning:

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

        The entire Bill of Rights in our Constitution is based on this declaration.

        • 90Lew90

          You miss the point that your Constitution is explicitly secular. You miss the point that the Founding Fathers were cultural Christians at most, in that they went as far as recognising the moral force of what Jesus is supposed to have said, but more importantly, that they rejected and attempted to exclude the possibility of religious dogmatism emerging in their project. You miss that entirely.

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

          General lament to the universe follows …

          Why do we have to get American history from Lew who (if I remember correctly) isn’t even American? Good for him for knowing enough to add intelligent and valuable contributions, but shouldn’t Cody (who I’m guessing is American) know correct history and not need this correction?

        • CodyGirl824

          No one has corrected anything I said. I quoted directly from the document in question, the Declaration of Independence. Bob, what makes you think that your version of American history is the “correct” one?

        • 90Lew90

          I’d say Bob’s probably read some actual history. There’s been enough rigorous intellectual jousting since these things took place for proper scholars to have arrived at a consensus. And apart from that, everything these men wrote was explicit. They went out of their way and stuck their necks out to make an explicitly secular constitution. They were the first bunch of guys ever to do so. That didn’t escape the notice of *everyone* who was looking on, and their success has been noteworthy ever since. It just seems particularly sad that where it is most quickly being forgotten is in the US itself. And you play a part in that. You should be ashamed of yourself.

        • Pofarmer

          Blame David Barton and the rest of the Evangelical numbnuts. I can’t wait for this movement to implode.

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

          I have no interest in discussing American history. What’s next–Lexington and Concord?

          Drop the DoI. It’s irrelevant. The Constitution, however, is interesting. Show me an interesting argument based on that.

        • CodyGirl824

          The Constitution did not need to repeat the theistic argument of the DOI. The two documents are inextricably linked as the foundational reasoning behind our system of laws.

        • Kodie

          The Declaration of Independence is irrelevant to our laws.

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

          Wrong again.

          You want to make this claim? Show me within the Constitution its Christian foundation.

        • MNb

          What does any version of American history have to do with my human and civil rights?

        • CodyGirl824

          You miss the point that our Constitution is explicitly secular in order to ensure that no government can take away our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including the right to worship the Giver of all human liberty.

        • 90Lew90

          I don’t miss that point. I understand that very well. Were you dropped on your head early in life or something?

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

          Take away our what?

          Sure, if you want to imagine that they’re God-given, go for it. The DoI doesn’t say that (Creator /= Yahweh), sorry. But you’ll have to do better than that to find something binding on me as an American.

          Last time I read the Constitution, it didn’t say anything about God-given rights.

        • CodyGirl824

          The Constitution enumerates our God-given rights. And who do you think is meant by the term “Creator”? Check out Genesis 1:1 and keep in mind that Elohim and Yahweh are different names for the One God of the universe. No need to be sorry.

        • Kodie

          All cultures have an origin myth. You’re going to have to try another book next time.

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

          You can imagine whatever you want, but the Constitution doesn’t say that they’re God-given.

          As for the phrase “Nature’s God” in the DoI, Wikipedia makes clear that this is a deist reference, not Christian. One can only assume the same for “Creator.”

        • Dys

          Considering that the author of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, considered bible-god to be “a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust”, it’s a safe bet he wasn’t referrring to Yahweh as the source of human rights.

        • MNb

          Your constitution. Hint: USA is not Rest of the World.

        • Kodie

          Your religion is really bendy if you think yer gawd is the giver of all human liberty (not least of all because many people do not have that given to them). He is portrayed as the giver of life and the taker of life, a capricious tyrant and we only live at his mercy. He demanded a sacrifice for chrisstakes. That’s what it’s all about.

        • smrnda

          What god? The Christian god doesn’t give a shit for anyone’s right to life (people are expected to die for the Christian god, if need be) liberty (the Christian god is not in favor of liberty, laying out lots of rules to follow) and the pursuit of happiness seems rather circular in the Christian scheme of things – one i SUPPOSED to be happy to obey god.

          These rights are nowhere in the Bible. I don’t even believe these rights are inalienable (whatever that means – if they WERE inalienable, then how are people able to have their rights infringed or taken away?) These are rights people decided they had, and fought a war over.

        • Deanjay1961

          Many of them were out-and-out Christians. There were a lot of founding fathers, not just Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Washington. They tended to be less famous, though.

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

          You ignore the Declaration of Independence, the first document of our commonwealth

          “Republic” might be the better term.

          But as for the DoI, you really don’t want to go there. It says, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers …” from who do you think? From God? Nope: “… from the consent of the governed.”

          Anyway, the DoI is irrelevant. It’s history, not a governing document. The Constitution is where we look to figure out the rules.

          The entire Bill of Rights in our Constitution is based on this declaration.

          Sure, we can talk about the Bill of Rights. No one cares about the DoI, however (except people delighted that they can mine from it the word “Creator,” I mean).

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          I think that you ignore the historical significance of the theistic reasoning regarding from where our human and civil rights flow. If you as an atheist have an argument that is more persuasive about the origin of our rights under the law that are “unalienable” and cannot be taken away by any government, let’s see it. I promise not to hold my breath.

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

          You’ve got one cool line from an irrelevant document, and you’re just not going to give it up, are you? No one (well–no one except you) cares about the DoI in this context. It’s historical, only.

          You have a tough challenge for me? Great–show it coming from the Constitution.

        • MNb

          My human and civil rights certainly don’t flow from your theistic reasoning. They rather go back to the French Revolution and Scottish Enlightenment.

        • Kodie

          Actually we declared our freedom from England at the time. We revolted against a monarchy and liberated ourselves. That’s the foundational statement. “The Creator” is an imaginary character. No matter what the Declaration of Independence says, no matter what you think this country was founded upon, there is no creator from which to be granted liberty. Do you at least get that? If our government was founded on Islamic principles, would you be arguing that we should all just do what this ancient document tells us to? Yes you would because you’d probably be a Muslim, because that’s what a theocracy is like. We all can’t enjoy freedom if some people take my share.

          I really hate this stupid argument Christians like to use, as if their beliefs are set in stone by the founders of our government, we have no choice but to believe it’s true, and certainly not if you think we all have to accept and go along with a theocracy, which is the fucking opposite of liberty.

          I do not see any agreement in principles between Christianity and the U.S. Constitution (nor the Declaration of Independence, not that it’s relevant to our laws and rights).

        • Pofarmer

          Codygirl., would you please stop being a fucking moron. The Declaration freed us from a theocracy.

          The Declaration is explicit that our rights come from human reasoning and consent of the governed, and that we the people have the right to change that government. No theistic reasoning would ever assent to that. What a tired, stupid, misinformed view.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, the Declaration is explicit in that our rights are endowed by our Creator and that this is a self-evident truth. That’s the reason why we have a right to change and are justified in changing our government if it violates our rights, as governments are prone to do.

        • pianoman

          The DoI doesn’t specify which “Creator”. They could be referring to any one of thousands.

        • Kodie

          So what?

        • Pofarmer

          Your reading comprehension sucks.

          The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

          “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
          people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with
          another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and
          equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle
          them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they
          should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.’

          As others have noted, this passage is deistic, not theistic. Laws of Nature and Nature’s God are ways of stating “Of the Universe”

          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
          equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
          Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
          Happiness.–”

          Note, the WE, the people of the Congress agree that these truths are selfevident by their mutual assent, not from divine inspiration from the Creator. And Creator could be anything from the Christian God to the Navajo spirits. In other words, whoever you believe your creator to be. At that point in history it would have been totally off the scale radical to not posit a creator of some type or other.

          “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
          among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, ”

          Self explanatory? Among Men?

          “–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
          ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
          institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
          organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
          effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
          Governments long established should not be changed for light and
          transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that
          mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to
          right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
          But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the
          same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,
          it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and
          to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the
          patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity
          which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The
          history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
          injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment
          of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be
          submitted to a candid world.”

          Your case is just ridiculously weak.

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

          [Governments derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed

          Yep! Yahweh doesn’t enter into it.

        • wtfwjtd

          I dunno though, theists did manage to get a couple of their cherished principles in the Constitution–slavery and misogyny come to mind. They didn’t manage to get genocide in there, thank the FSM. Fortunately, We the People decided these needed to go, and we’ve long since moved on.

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly, and they are stating that explicitly, rather than the vague mentions of a creator, etc, in the other paragraphs. You really have to twist it here to get a “theistic” document, when it was about as anti-theistic as it could be at the time.

          A Jefferson Quote.

          “Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure
          from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment
          was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it
          would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the
          holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected
          by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend,
          within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile,
          the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every
          denomination.”

          And another

          “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden
          people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest
          grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious
          leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

          “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile
          to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting
          his abuses in return for protection to his own.”

          “Among the sayings and discourses imputed to him [Jesus] by his biographers, I find many passages of fine imagination, correct morality, and of the most lovely benevolence; and others again of so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism, and imposture, as to pronounce it impossible that such contradictions should have proceeded from the same being.”

          This one is good.

          “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors. ”

          It should be clear that Jefferson wasn’t particularly a friend of Theists.

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

          Good point. My fellow Virginian, Patrick Henry, was one of those pushing for very pro-Christian amendments to the Constitution. It’s not like it never occurred to them to put explicitly Christian language into the Constitution; it was considered and rejected.

          Patrick Henry did some cool stuff; this wasn’t one of them.

        • Pofarmer

          Somewhere I found a letter by Jefferson, to, I think Benjamin Franklin. Let’s just say that he was not happy with Patrick Henry’s views, and basically accused him of attempting to establish a theocracy.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” quote is pretty awesome, but some of his other attempts to crowbar his Christian religion into the country’s founding documents…not so much.

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

          I’ve been in St. John’s church in Richmond where he gave that speech, which was pretty cool. I guess all our heroes are only human.

        • Deanjay1961

          Aren’t self-evident truths self-evident to everyone, and if one isn’t, it’s not actually self-evident?

        • wtfwjtd

          “The entire Bill of Rights in our Constitution is based on this declaration.”

          Uh, no. That’s laughable. The Articles of Confederation was the first governing document of the US, and wasn’t superseded by the Constitution until 1789. The Bill of Rights was formally ratified in 1791.
          You might do yourself a favor, and actually read up a little on US history.

        • CodyGirl824

          I agree that the Articles of Confederation was the first governing document, but the DOI was the first document of our nation as a nation, which of course, preceded (1776) the AofC and the Constitution.

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

          The DoI was also the first document whose name started with the letter “D,” but who cares?

          Ditto for your comment.

        • MNb

          Your nation.

        • MNb

          Why should I care for that declaration of independence if it has exactly zilch to do with me?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know. I don’t think your opinion matters, since the whole thing is about how god guided the early settlers and founding fathers to found a perfect nation. Only Christians know what being American really means, and that means “under god” we are very very special and all the other countries wish they were us, because god blesses America and everyone around the world knows it. I read a vandal sticker once about how we have to outlaw abortion because it’s very upsetting to god and if we don’t outlaw abortion, god will give up on the US and just disappear or choose some other country to concentrate on. The warnings and disasters… this year it’s sinkholes and mudslides every fucking where. Soon the whole country will literally fall into hell. Don’t worry it’s not your fault, it’s probably my fault.

        • CodyGirl824

          So I gather that you have no need in your personal or civic life to make arguments for upholding anyone’s human and/or civil rights. What country do you live in?

        • MNb

          Your guess, as usual, is wrong. My point is just that your DoI has exactly zilch to do with me, so I couldn’t care less about your (or any atheist for that matter) interpretion of the word “Creator”, what it means and what consequences it should have. For this point it’s enough that you know that I’m not American, don’t live in the USA nor in any other country with a christian majority. You being so unkind not to answer questions about the FSM does not need any more information than I prefer to provide you.
          The two constitutions that are relevant for me (I don’t live in my native country) nowhere even suggest (let alone write) that my human and/or civil rights are of divine origin. The constitution of my native country, which is internationally well respected and scores better than yours on many wellbeing lists, is totally secular. The constitution of the country where I live has only one reference, in the preamble, not in the text itself. I translate:
          “Inspired by the love for this country and the faith in the power of the Supreme Being ……. we declare solemnly, as a result of the people’s consult, to accept the constitiution that follows here:”
          What’s more, even if you’re right and Franklin and co referred to your beloved skydaddy it’s nothing but an appeal to tradition to conclude that the American constitution for this reason should be christian too and that the USA should be and remain for eternity a christian nation. So even if you’re right your argument is a logical fallacy, unless you worship every single word Franklin and co. put on paper like a Holy Cow, of course.

        • Kodie

          So I gather that you have no need in your personal or civic life to make
          arguments for upholding anyone’s human and/or civil rights.

          Geez, why do people have to do everything themselves???? I thought these rights were inalienable, self-evident, and endowed by a creator. I guess these rights are actually alienable, not evident to everyone, and must be acquired through a militaristic struggle at the cost of human lives.

        • Kodie

          Christianity is not based on inalienable rights. You definitely are grasping at straws.

        • Lark62

          The Declaration of Independence, while beatiful, is essentially a press release. The intent was to declare independence from Britain so that other European countries would give us money, lots of money, to fight Britain.

          The DoI is not law. It has no legal standing or authority. Our republic (not commonwealth) is governed by a Constitution, which begins “We the people”.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yours is yet another attempt to minimize the historical, philosophical and rhetorical importance of the theistic argument of the DOI, no doubt because you are troubled by the fact that it is a theistic argument. I know that the DOI is not law. I never said that it is.However, the idea that are human and civil rights are endowed by God and unalienable for that very reason is a fundamental concept (argument) that makes our laws, as articulated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights work. Keep in mind that the early Americans refused to ratify the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added. We the people demanded that the concept articulated in the DOI became part of the Constitution. It’s fascinating to me how historically we as a nation have pragmatized and actualized our belief in God as the Giver of our human rights.

        • Kodie

          Where in the bible does the concept of inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness occur? Or do you just hold onto it for dear life because the founding fathers invoked a deity?

          It’s fascinating to me how historically we as a
          nation have pragmatized and actualized our belief in God as the Giver of our human rights.

          That’s because you’re cuckoo deluded.

        • Lark62

          One poetic, vague reference to a creator (a deistic concept) is not a “theistic argument.” Yes, the states would not ratify the constitution without protection of individual rights, the first being that the government cannot establish a religion and that each citizen has freedom of religion.

          Also, the Declaration wasn’t a big deal in early America, and wasn’t given much significance as the Constitution was drafted.

          The following is from Wikipedia – I haven’t checked the references.

          “Having served its original purpose in announcing the independence of the United States, the Declaration was initially neglected in the years immediately following the American Revolution.[131] Early celebrations of Independence Day, like early histories of the Revolution, largely ignored the Declaration. Although the act of declaring independence was considered important, the text announcing that act attracted little attention.[132] The Declaration was rarely mentioned during the debates about the United States Constitution, and its language was not incorporated into that document.[133] George Mason’s draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights was more influential, and its language was echoed in state constitutions and state bills of rights more often than Jefferson’s words.[134] “In none of these documents”, wrote Pauline Maier, “is there any evidence whatsoever that the Declaration of Independence lived in men’s minds as a classic statement of American political principles.”[135]“

        • CodyGirl824

          Perhaps, because, as the document itself states, these truths are self-evident.

        • Kodie

          You are now deifying the document. It says what you want to hear=/= “true”.

        • CodyGirl824

          I quoted directly from the text of the Declaration of Independence. It says what it says. If you have a problem with what it says, it’s not my problem.

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

          And who wants to quote from 50 Shades of Gray?

          It says what it says. If you have a problem with what it says, it’s not my problem.

          Of course, you’ll say that 50 Shades of Gray has no relevance to the conversation.

          Bingo! Now you’re seeing the problem.

        • Kodie

          It is because as we’ve established, your reading comprehension abilities suck. You see it in print, and you take theological implications of it. Just like always, you are reading what you want it to say instead of what it actually says.

          Remember that time when you couldn’t understand the difference between someone saying theologists shouldn’t enter debates against cosmologists and you agreeing that a cosmologist had no reason to enter a debate with a theologist? Remember that time you said science, for ethical reasons, would not step into meta-physical areas, and then posted 3 studies of science studying the brain during religious experiences, falsely inferring a point of evidence for you, despite that science neither searched for nor found evidence for supernatural meta-physical contact with actual spirits? Science didn’t give you that information because it wasn’t there. You wanted it to be there, so you just inferred whatever you believe was true.

          Just like you’re doing now.

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

          As Kodie noted, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness aren’t fundamental biblical truths, hence the Bible isn’t the place to look for their inspiration. They were looking at deism, which is most certainly not Christianity.

          You really need to drop the DoI and get other sources of information. Any argument about the grounding of principles in American society must come from the Constitution.

        • smrnda

          In that case I disagree that the document is wrong. I like rights, but I do not find them self-evident.

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

          The DoI is not theistic, and it doesn’t mention God!

          The Constitution was ratified in 1788, and the Bill of Rights in 1791.

          Wow–3 mistakes on a topic that you claim to be an expert on and on which you’ve been schooled here dozens of times. No desire to be more careful, I guess?

          We the people demanded that the concept articulated in the DOI became part of the Constitution.

          Ah, great. If it’s all in the Constitution, you can drop the DoI like everyone’s been asking.

        • CodyGirl824

          The Declaration of Independence doesn’t mention God? Here are the first lines.

          “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

          Is “Nature’s God” not God? Please also note that it’s spelled with a capital G.

          I didn’t make any mistakes. You just confirmed what I said.

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

          [sigh]

          No, “Nature’s God” isn’t the Christian god. Look it up yourself.

        • Kodie

          Where in the bible does Yahweh offer a decent respect to the opinions of mankind?

        • Deanjay1961

          Our law is based on the Constution, not the DoI.

    • MNb

      Why should I care what a bunch of long dead foreign politicians think of Jesus? Especially if I don’t even care what my christian compatriots think of him?

      • Kodie

        I wonder why there are even Christians in other parts of the world and when they will give up on their stupid government and join us in the US, except they won’t be let in.

  • The Thinking Commenter

    with no mar or imperfection of any sort.”

    Yeah obviously he’s preaching to the choir (or himself) there. (If he even actually believes that.)

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

      Yeah obviously he’s preaching to the choir

      Or huffing gasoline …

  • wtfwjtd

    ” Jesus displayed a certain ethical perfection that ought to be uncontroversial, even among those who think his story is nothing more than a story…”

    and:

    “The short version is just this: Jesus Christ is too great to be legend. He’s too good to be false.”

    Wow, the cognitive dissonance displayed by Gilson is astounding. The only way you could actually read the New Testament and come to that conclusion is, you have to be delusional. “But, but, but…evidence be damned, I don’t care what the Bible says, or the fact that there’s no evidence outside the gospels– its sounds great so it just *has* to be true!”

    These apologetics arguments seem to be getting worse all the time. Truly the stink of desperation.

    • Kodie

      It’s just like how impossible it is to draw a perfect circle, it would be impossible for mere humans to describe a perfect person if he were imaginary. He is an actual golden boy, the one you can’t praise enough, the one who can do no wrong, why can’t you be more like him. Not only could he have existed, in this context, the author was probably his mother. This should have made everyone else pretty sick of hearing about him.

      • wtfwjtd

        “it would be impossible for mere humans to describe a perfect person if he were imaginary.”

        Yep, Gilson’s article is just a re-statement of the ontological argument, which I’ve always found to be really, really, stupid. And a moma’s boy, you say? I like that, I’ve known a few of those, and I’ve known a few who are pretty worthless as human beings but you can’t tell mama that. Others get sick of hearing about him, for sure!

  • MNb

    I admire Franciscus of Assisi more than Jesus of Nazareth. Franciscus (or the people who developed the legends around him; in this context this doesn’t matter) understood that animals deserve our love as well. Jesus not so much.

  • Greg G.

    Maybe Jesus didn’t eliminate smallpox, but who do you think eliminated bigpox?

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

      Hmm–good point. That’s only a memory now, but it used to rage as epidemics, laying waste to whole continents.

      • 90Lew90

        Interesting and alarming aside on that. Polio, which had also almost been eradicated, is on the rise again. Why? Because of religious (chiefly muslim) objections to vaccination. That would be fine if they were keeping their polio to themselves, but naturally enough, their children are getting this potentially fatal disease. And more than that, they’re exporting it and giving rise to a new global emergence of it.

        Got to love the religious and all that oh-so-effective, but ineffable “truth” and “knowledge” they’re privy to. Got to love how their gods look after them so well. Or not.

        http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47720#.U2tWsyyTfIU

        • Pofarmer

          There are a lot of things that man has eradicated. Ever heard of Hookworm? No? Well, that’s because there was a major program to eradicate it in the U.S. and Mexico. Mark Twain makes a point with them in “Letters from Earth.” Something along the lines of “When mankind defeats one of these killers we say , Thank God, but it was God that gave them to us in the first place, and man that saved himself.” Love that book. Measles is also somewhat on the rise in the U.S. Partly due to anti-vac movement, some of it religious and some not.

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

          Rinderpest is another eradicated disease. It’s like smallpox for cattle, I think.

          It is outrageous that religious sensibilities would get in the way of eradicating polio, especially when those religious leaders’ children are at risk. But I have heard of aid workers being used as gatherers of military intelligence, so there may be a valid point in there.

  • John Lev

    Funny. The link to the article is broken on the authors site.

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

        The restated link above went 404 but the link in the article worked.

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

          I guess that link is iffy. I was mostly concerned that anyone would think that I wouldn’t want people to find the original article (I find Christian blogs occasionally making it hard to find to the specific atheist article they’re criticizing).

  • resipisence

    Hey Bob, nice post, I liked your examples of better characters than Jesus! Has Gilson any intention of replying to this takedown on his website?

    • wtfwjtd

      Looks like he has a bit of a response, take a look if you are interested:

      http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/05/is-this-a-powerful-new-apologetic-argument/#comment-93692

      Tom says:”So in sum, what Bob Seidensticker has provided us has been an exercise in getting facts wrong while missing the point.

      I remain interested in finding out whether there’s a good critique available for this argument.”

      Basically,Tom still struggles with the “miracle or sacrifice” dichotomy–he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He has other blind spots too, but that’s a good starting place.He doesn’t refute anything in Bob’s post–he just blithely asserts that “Bob is wrong because I say he’s wrong”. So take that, Bob.

      • resipisence

        I wonder what would actually change his mind on this topic…. Prometheus was more self-sacrificial, Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen was more powerful, big woop! Nothing is even implied by these facts. Are some Christians just impossible to reason with?

        • wtfwjtd

          “I wonder what would actually change his mind on this topic…. ”

          I think you have hit the crux of the matter right there–there is *nothing* that would change their minds. Tom Gilson is like his pal Jenna/ Cody that clutters up the comments here sometimes–all they have is glib assertions and content-free axioms that they make up that are totally convincing to them, and no one else. They start off with a belief, and just hunt and peck for stuff to support that belief and discard anything that contradicts it. Religious faith is mostly based on emotion at its core, with a good dose of blind acceptance of unsupported dogma. What they see as totally convincing, the rational person finds …well, not very convincing, to put it nicely.

        • resipisence

          Does that mean that they’d only learn through like, counter-brainwashing? It just seems insane to me that people can have their beliefs dismantled in front of their very eyes, and yet find some strange mechanism by which they can just bypass all cognitive dissonance created, evolutionarily maladaptive or something….

        • CodyGirl824

          Exactly what I observe about atheists all the time!

        • resipisence

          I’m sorry, I’m going to have to correct you there, you observe this in *some* atheists but not all atheists. I, for one, am open to having my beliefs changed. Are you? What would it take to change your mind about Christianity, or at least shake your confidence? (note that I wouldn’t dispute general deism, it’s the specifics of Christianity that I see as problematic)

        • Kodie

          You’re even deluded that your pathetic assertions manage to dismantle anything.

        • MNb

          Cheapo. You already know that several people here have deconverted; I went from agnostic and dualism to hardcore atheism and materialism. At no point some emotional shock was involved, like Ryan Bell writes about sometimes.
          But let’s test our hypotheses.
          What kind of argument or evidence could convince you that there is no god indeed? If you tell me I’ll tell you what would convince me that there is a god. In fact BobS wrote about this quite a while ago and I answered at his post.

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly. I’m open to good evidence and good arguments. I certainly haven’t seen any from codygirl.

        • Pofarmer

          It almost becomes hardwired. They can’t separate their beliefs from their identity.

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

        • resipisence

          Fascinating, thank you so much! I find it funny that you said there that their identity becomes almost hardwired, when thankfully it’s really soft-wired. So the best option is to show that someone’s identity conflicts with itself, by appealing to other aspects of their identity? I wonder how that could be done…

        • Pofarmer

          You get what CodyGirl here does, just keeps spewing the same nonsense. Christians come up against cognitive dissonance all the time. ” I just don’t understand how this could be part of God’s plan.” Comes to mind that I’ve read on facebook. Of course, the proper response, is “Duh, there is no plan.” But it’s not a place they are willing to go. If you are faithful enough, literally everything resupports that faith. How you break through the wall of stupid is kind of a mystery.

        • resipisence

          I think it’s in this idea of identity, you’ve hit the nail on the head with that link.

          When we attack theists’ beliefs, we give them a dichotomy: retain your false belief, or reject it. What we don’t consider is how that appears to them: the universe is good and meaningful and just, or these qualities are absent.

          This conversation has brought me a few ideas. I think that we need is a way of showing them how we think these qualities operate in the world such that they agree with what we are saying (emotionally at least), then show how theism clashes with these qualities so that their identity is shown to clash with itself. Does that make sense?

        • wtfwjtd

          The only problem is, you are still hoping that at some point you can get the theist to apply reason and rationality to their belief system. This is still a tall order; for example, most theists still freak out whenever someone even mentions the Flying Spaghetti Monster, even though from a rational perspective there’s no demonstrable difference between the FSM and the Christian God.
          I get where you are trying to go, maybe you’ll have better success.

        • resipisence

          “most theists still freak out whenever someone even mentions the Flying Spaghetti Monster, even though from a rational perspective there’s no demonstrable difference between the FSM and the Christian God”

          why do they freak out?

        • wtfwjtd

          I can’t answer definitively, but it appears to be a point of embarrassment that one is indistinguishable from the other. Also, most theists don’t really know anything about the FSM, other than what their Christian buddies have told them, or why it was created, and just assume it’s only about mockery (hint: it’s not, though that’s how it is sometimes used because of the freak-out reaction).

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

          Have you read Peter Boghossian’s book, A manual for creating atheists? I’m halfway through and so far, I’ve seen a problem in my approach but haven’t internalized the solution yet. In short, it’s that someone won’t be reasoned out of a belief he wasn’t reasoned into.

          That’s certainly my problem, and perhaps others are in the same boat. When someone makes a weak argument, I want to show them how it’s weak. Problem is, they don’t care. They’ve got their belief, and this argument, weak or strong, isn’t supporting it.

        • Pofarmer

          I think you are exactly right. My 13 year old decided to challenge one of his friends at school. He asked him “How can you believe that everything in the bible is literally true.” The reply? “I have faith!” They have shut off the reasoning part of the brain on anything to do with religion.

        • resipisence

          No I haven’t, I’d probably need to buy it online cos I doubt it’s for sale in Europe.

          Something that I’ve been thinking of recently is that many of the difficult theists, the ones who seem unconcerned with reasoning, tend to to be very obedient to their perceived authorities. They love quoting the Bible/philosophers/scientists whose opinions that match their own, without regard to actual data or arguments.

          Maybe what is needed is some kind of social validity backing up the skeptical position, rather than one of pure reason. A movement, a group, a religion. Why don’t most of us identify as Humanists rather than atheists?

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

          The challenge about other names (Humanist, skeptic, agnostic, freethinker, etc.) is that most Christians could say that that applies to them as well. “Atheist” is one place where they won’t go.

        • resipisence

          And we need to go somewhere they won’t go?

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

          Not always, but we do need a way to distinguish ourselves from thoughtful Christians. Sometimes it’s necessary to have a label to which the Christian can’t respond, “Well, so am I!”

        • Kodie

          I do have a need to define that I don’t believe. Many atheists seem to be timid of the label itself. I won’t call myself a humanist, for some reason, for whatever reason. I agree with most of the principles, except I really don’t like humans that much. Theists are skeptics of evolution. Agnostic seems to mean people who are either seriously on the fence or seriously in denial and feel more comfortable with it than atheist. Freethinker, bleh, and yes, Christians use it because they believe they are rebels in a mainstream atheistic society. They are freely thinking that science can be adjusted to fit the bible, and other stuff the big government doesn’t want us to know.

          Yes, atheists need a term Christians won’t use on themselves, as we know, they like to co-opt terms, equate them with Christianity, and cause confusion. Some tend to have humanist principles, and are not shy of the label, but many also misuse the term as, below god, humans are the highest, therefore humanism means some kind of worship of humans and denial of god. I.e., without god, humans get a promotion to deities, living at their own whims and desires, instead of humility to the tyrannical and obviously existent overlord.

          I think atheism is at least simple and unadorned. If people want to do other stuff, like I do other stuff, they can use whatever label works for it. I don’t think humanism is equal to atheism, secular humanism is a secular approach to a bunch of principles. I am not encumbered by a prescribed set of principles, and I don’t think atheists should be qualified as “true” atheists by these other interests and efforts.

          I will repeat something I say once in a while, and that is the atheists who participate on blogs are a small representation of self-selected atheists who choose to learn and discuss arguments and issues and generally sort themselves into what topics of discussion interest them. There are a lot of ex-Christians, probably because the internet helped them a lot and they found a place to talk about it and then get involved. These blogs help to dismantle their beliefs if that’s what they seek, with logic and rationality. But I don’t think most atheists are likely to participate in discussion or even know why they don’t believe. I personally find these arguments interesting, but I don’t think they help me, since my core reason for not believing is it’s obviously fictional, and only sort of interesting as myths go.

          My interests are the offensive Christians who have an interest in tearing down equal rights. I guess that makes me supposed to be a humanist? To get to the point, I think secular humanism is already an interesting thing to many atheists who also identify as a secular humanist. I don’t think it’s one or the other. But this is the socially valid bonus label, and many choose it.

          Another thing atheists like to do is argue about some weird drama going on between cliques and who is issuing death threats and it’s weird. I don’t want to join any group or label myself where I have to care about that shit. Life is way too short and I’m not sure caring about it serves any interest, but most of all, my own. I’m anti-social, I find it hard to care about people in a human socializing way that many people seem to drink like water in the desert of loneliness. I’m glad there are people who will support each other in their struggles. That must have something to do with why I don’t choose the label; labels mean getting more involved, and the more involved you are, apparently the more sides you have to choose. None of these things have to do with my interest.

          It is like those atheist “churches” that some people see value in and I see value in, but not for me. I disagree with atheists who say they have no value, and the freedom to not join artificial gatherings is part of some bullshit purity of atheism. “Not going to church” is not a big selling point for me. When atheists host conferences and atheists attend conferences, it’s obvious they want some outlet for meeting other atheists and listening to people speak from the perspective. I’ve never seen anyone have a conceptual problem with conferences or meet-ups, and yet have them about churches. My mother’s big regret in not having a religion for us growing up was actually not salvation, it was church. Many religious people would even admit the highlight of their religion is socializing at church.

        • Greg G.

          It’s amusing to explain that the Problem of Evil shows that a being that is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent cannot exist but then they realize that doesn’t mean that no god exists, and then go right back to believing in the god that cannot exist. Sophisticated Theologians redefine “omnipotence” to mean “not omnipotent”, and do they same end run.

        • Pofarmer

          What’s really interesting is that the writers of Peter and Timothy had already started to identify theological shortcomings and develop answerz to them that are still usex to this day.

        • Greg G.

          Good point. I hadn’t thought of them as “canonized apologetics” before.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Do you have a candidate to propose who was more self-sacrificial *and* more powerful?

        • resipisence

          Why do the two need to be together, what difference would that make?

        • wtfwjtd

          A claim of power requires a demonstration of such–y’know, what the skeptic calls *evidence*. An empty claim without evidence is just that–an empty claim. Anyone can claim to be a god. See the difference?

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Obviously. What you’re showing, though, is that you’re disputing an argument you haven’t taken the time to understand. The argument has to do specifically with claims of power made by or about characters in history or imagination, whether or not there is evidence that they existed or had that power.

          To dispute an argument one does not understand is to display that one does not understand while failing to dispute the argument.

        • 90Lew90

          As has been pointed out, your argument is a re-hash of the ontological argument except sillier. Anselm’s argument was challenged very effectively by his own contemporary, the monk Gaunilo. A version of the ontological argument formulated by Descartes was thoroughly defeated by Kant (in his Critique of Pure Reason) and more lately Norman Malcolm (1960) has disputed it fatally.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The argument has to do specifically with claims of power made by or about characters in history or imagination, whether or not there is evidence that they existed or had that power.”

          Yes, I get it, your argument is a thought exercise. But then you state: “Jesus Christ: Greater than you knew, too great not to be true.”
          With that statement, you are making a foray into reality, and *that* claim requires evidence. Which you admit above and I pointed out, neither you nor the gospels provide any.

        • resipisence

          it’s not really an argument, if i tried to argue that the buddha was the coolest character in all of human history and no other character displayed as much coolness as him, i couldn’t use that to somehow argue that the miracles attributed to him were true or that people could not have made up the things he said/did.

        • MNb

          Yes. Franciscus of Assisi was obviously morally superior to Jesus of Nazareth, given that the latter needlessly killed off innocent pigs. Franciscus never would have done that. Unlike Jesus he understood that animals deserve love too. Also Franciscus wrought lots of miracles as well, even after his death, something that’s not so clear about Jesus.
          You should reconvert. Franciscus is the son of god, even if he was too modest to admit it, thus showing once again his moral superiority.

          http://angels.about.com/od/MiraclesReligiousTexts/p/Francis-Of-Assisi-Miracle-Man-And-Patron-Saint-Of-Animals.htm
          http://www.ask.com/question/what-miracles-did-saint-francis-of-assisi-perform
          http://digilander.libero.it/raxdi/inglese/miraf.htm
          https://suite.io/marilynn-hughes/1cg728q
          http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_miracles_did_St._Francis_of_Assisi_perform?#slide=1

          The simple fact that a hardcore atheist like me can admire Franciscus of Assisi is an impressive miracle in itself. If that’s not a strong indication I don’t know what is.

        • CodyGirl824

          Have you ever eaten bacon? I ask because you seem so intent on protecting the lives of innocent pigs.

        • MNb

          Did your big hero Jesus kill those pigs to eat them? I ask because that’s the usual justification for killing off animals.

        • CodyGirl824

          Certainly you know that Jews don’t eat pork.

        • nakedanthropologist

          Superman.

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

          Does Jesus get to be the Creator? Or is that the job of God the Father?

          Without taking on that mantle, Jesus wasn’t very powerful. He wasn’t even immortal.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, Bob, I think you need to review the theology of the incarnation. Another look at the Holy Trinity and the “person” of the Son might be a good starting point.

          Do you have a candidate for Tom for a more self-sacrificial and more powerful human being, either real or legendary and pre-Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          So, we are comparing legends, now?

        • CodyGirl824

          Please see Tom Gilson’s question to resipisence above? I merely posed the same question to Bob.

          The concept of “legend” is key to understanding Tom Gilson’s argument and Bob’s counter-argument.

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

          Please see Tom Gilson’s question to resipisence above?

          What does that word mean?

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

          This doesn’t address my point.

          Do you have a candidate for Tom

          I think I wrote a whole post about that.

          Jesus was just a dude who did parlor tricks and wasn’t even immortal. There are lots of gods who were more powerful than that.

          Of course, you could say that Jesus = God the Creator, sort of, thanks to the Trinity. But when I mentioned the Trinity, Tom had a meltdown. Even if we ignore that, the Creator of the Bible isn’t all that big a deal (I’m thinking of the Gen. 1 creation).

          My money is still on Prometheus for his far bigger sacrifice.

        • CodyGirl824

          The problem with this in response to Tom’s argument is, of course, that your preference for Prometheus as a model of self-sacrifice does not support your theory that the gospels are legend and that Jesus’ moral character was created through the process of “legendizing.”

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

          So then you accept my response to Tom. OK, that’s a small bit of agreement that’s worth celebrating.

        • wtfwjtd

          Not to be anal or anything here Bob, but didn’t Prometheus *know* he would be punished for bringing fire to mankind? That would mean that his was a *self* sacrifice, which was a big deal to Gilson’s argument. Which, I may point out (and so did you),made his sacrifice far more noble than the rough day or two that Jesus endured before Jesus returned to paradise.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is incredible! A rough day or two? Crucifixion is the worst, most painful and cruel form of torture and execution known to humankind. You may find it easy to dismiss it based on your atheist agenda but this is folly, not reason or wisdom. Aren’t you concerned at all about reinforcing negative stereotypes of atheists with these comments? I guess not, seeing how you all jump on the bandwagon together.

        • Kodie

          I laugh because if he wasn’t crucified, you wouldn’t have a religion.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, this is partially true. If Jesus had not been crucified and resurrected, we Christians wouldn’t have a religion. Why does this amuse you?

        • Kodie

          Why is that partially true? Why do you sympathize with Jesus’s ordeals and not the Egyptian children? If they didn’t die, if they weren’t sacrificed in order to further the cause of the Jews, you wouldn’t have a religion. Your faith is a death cult. It’s only true because of all the bodies claimed by god. This is who you desire to be close to. Your god demanded a blood sacrifice, not a person to take responsibility for themselves, but a body to appease him. You get to live life as an asshole that you are and god forgives you because he got his body. I laugh at how this actually makes you a worse person for believing it and not being sorry in the least for a dead man. You’re the walking definition of “taking things for granted” with your repeated use of “I rest assured that”, that only means you don’t lose any sleep over your shortcomings, especially how judgmental you are.

        • wtfwjtd

          Oh, good grief, don’t act so butt-hurt Jenna. Sure, crucifixion sucks, and thousands of people suffered it. That’s why it was outlawed, no doubt. But don’t flatter yourself; I know how Christians love to wallow in it, somehow convincing themselves that their savior was the the only one to ever experience agonizing pain, and no body has ever suffered pain like his before. One, just one, trip to the cancer ward of your local hospital would rid you of this sick delusion forever, if you would but open your eyes and take an honest look around. Yes, Jesus suffered a day or two of agonizing pain, but I’ve personally witnessed people who have endured *months* of the most agonizing pain imaginable, and six hours of crucifixion pales to insignificance by comparison.
          Eventually these people died and stayed dead, and it was their only way out. Jesus, by comparison, doesn’t even die; he pops up and heads off to paradise. Some sacrifice.

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

          Better said than me; thanks.

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

          Seriously, this isn’t that hard. Think it through, then click Post.

          How many people died more hideous deaths than Jesus? Heck, the agony I might have dying with six months of cancer might be worse in total to what Jesus suffered.

          You say it was bad? OK, it was bad. It wasn’t even close to being the worst. And, more importantly, it wasn’t permanent! When I die, I’m going to, y’know, die. Dead. The End.

          When Jesus died, he popped back into existence in 36 hours.

          Back to your comment, a good magician does misdirection well. You don’t. The stinking turd is still on the table. Deal with it.

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

          I don’t know the story thoroughly, but I assume that Prometheus wanted to do the right thing, consequences be damned.

          Even if he didn’t know he would get the torture, simply risking Zeus’s wrath is quite a sacrifice.

        • Pofarmer

          So, there is some evidence to support this theology?

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m not sure exactly what “this theology” refers to in your question.

        • Kodie

          Holy shit, woman. You can’t even read what you wrote.

        • CodyGirl824

          Sorry, Kodie. I though Pofarmer was referring to Tom’s argument, not my comment to Bob. In any case, I find a request for “evidence” of a theology to be rather odd.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, theology is made-up stuff about made-up stuff, I agree with you there.

        • CodyGirl824

          That explains why you are so bad at it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Bad at what? Agreeing with you? Once again, I totally agree.

        • Kodie

          You can’t follow a shiny red bouncing ball 2 posts.

          Can you understand the difference between these 2 things:

          Evidence of a theology (yes, odd)
          and
          Evidence to support a theology (what you were fucking asked).

          Here is the problem with you – 1. You can’t read. 2. You can’t follow even a short course of a thread. 3. It’s clarified and then instead of READING THE OTHER POST AND THEN RESPONDING TO IT, you apologize to me for assuming Pofarmer meant some other post, and then misread his post a second time, and shrug it off instead of providing

          “evidence to support this theology.”

          Sorry, but you are a moron.

        • MNb

          Yes. I already mentioned Franciscus of Assisi. Plenty miracles and his love extended to animals too. In my textbook that makes him morally superior to Jesus of N.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s that whole consubstantial thingy, and then there’s the macabre transubstantiation thing with the eucharist, but the one thing the Christian always fails to do is get out Occam’s razor, slash off those superfluous syllables and just substantiate some of their nonsense.

        • Pofarmer

          Went to my first Catholic Mass last night since christmas. The more you are away from it, the more ridiculous it becomes. I have to look at it as performance art, because the whole thing is fucking crazy.

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

          I’m happy to consider the Trinity, but Tom freaks out when I do that, so perhaps we should just think of Jesus from the gospels. You know–the guy who wasn’t even immortal.

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

        I’ve only skimmed it at the moment but plan to read it carefully soon.

        I wouldn’t mind responding to something substantial with another post, but I doubt it’ll rise to that level.

        • wtfwjtd

          From what I saw, his response was a lot like Jenna/Cody’s are here–plenty of assertions but no evidence or even any arguments. Maybe there’s more, but like you I doubt it.

        • Pofarmer

          Evidence is hard. It’s much easier to make an argument if it requires no truth.

        • JohnH2

          He says that you never address the duality of Jesus being supremely powerful and supremely good (I am going to take a wild guess and say he may not even know of the existence of the legends of Jesus’s childhood)

          I think the correct response would be to pull out all the other myths and legends of self-sacrificing dying and rising gods; who are supremely good and supremely powerful, making sure to only focus on the versions of those myths and legends where the dying and rising god is just or only supremely good and powerful and not to focus on when they curse fig trees that don’t produce fruit or cursing children that bump into them to death, or striking people blind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infancy_Gospel_of_Thomas

          In case you can’t tell I am actually annoyed by his argument, it is like Anselm’s if Anselm were talking about comic book characters and had a poor grasp on logic.

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

          I wonder if the story would be as compelling if Jesus actually were perfectly good. Superman needs kryptonite, and Jesus needs obstacles.

          Good suggestion about the other dying-and-rising gods.

        • wtfwjtd

          “I am going to take a wild guess and say he may not even know of the existence of the legends of Jesus’s childhood.”

          Yes, I was thinking the same thing, that Infancy Gospel of Thomas has some rather unflattering stories of Gilson’s supremely good and supposedly perfect savior.
          These weren’t rejected by the church because of their lack of veracity, but rather, because of theological clashes.

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

          I’m sure he’d dismiss that as late and noncanonical, so therefore it doesn’t affect his argument.

          What’s amazing is that his own book shows Jesus as not particularly perfect, at least by any standards that we humans can have. You could say that Jesus was perfect by some standard that we can’t appreciate, but that’s not argument.

        • JohnH2

          The problem Bob is that it being non-canonical shouldn’t matter for his argument; it is not actually that late and has evidence of being oral tradition prior to being written down so it works really well to contradict what he claims about the early christians and the legend of Jesus.

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

          Interesting point. Wikipedia says that it could date as early as the time of Luke though the consensus is 150 or later.

          Still, I’m sure he’d say, “Noncanonical. Next!”

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, I saw over there he was trying to dismiss the entire OT as not relevant, as some poster had pointed out the atrocious behavior of Yahweh kinda wrecked his “perfect Jesus-god” narrative. (This was the connection to the trinity you made that Gilson was also trying to dismiss as irrelevant, since it wrecked his entire argument). Hell, right here you, I, and Richard Russell were pointing out several character flaws from the gospels themselves, just off the top of our heads, and without even trying we completely eviscerated Gilson’s entire “Jesus is too perfect to be made up” crap. Reasoning and reading comprehension don’t seem to be the strong suit of that crowd.

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

          He’s got the correct conclusion already, and I don’t think he’s motivated to change.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Pot. Black.

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

          The only thing standing in the way of change for me is my ego. We are indeed symmetric there, but you’ve also got hell. I think the symmetry vanishes.

        • Pofarmer

          Tom, maybe you could explain how this isn’t just another presuppositional argument

        • CodyGirl824

          My understanding of the Trinity is that originates in these words of Jesus Christ: Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” How does the concept of the Trinity even address Tom Gilson’s argument? If the legend hypothesis were true, then the alleged legend-makers were the ones who first proposed the concept of the Trinity.

        • JohnH2

          I take it that neither you nor Tom Gilson have read much about early Christianity, the Catholic Church Fathers, the non-canonical gospels, and the early church councils.

        • CodyGirl824

          What? This comment is an ad hominem fallacy. Have you actually read Tom Gilson’s argument?

        • JohnH2

          Wasn’t going for an ad hominem, but pointing out that early Christianity had multiple competing forms of what God, Jesus, and God’s relationship to Jesus, add in the Holy Ghost and you still have active disagreement between the RC and Orthodox over a detail of that. Saying that Jesus taught the Trinity is insanity in the face of the evidence of the writings of the Church Father’s and the history of Christianity.

          I have read his argument, and besides not referencing Anselm this is the point which he seriously misrepresents what happened.

          I am a Mormon, and I do believe in Christ but not because Jesus is the greatest super-hero legend ever; but because I have my own experiences with God and I try to follow the teachings of Jesus and so know them to be of God and good, as Jesus promised.

        • CodyGirl824

          JohnH2,

          Sorry if I misunderstood. You will get further in your arguments if you don’t imply that people making the argument you respond to are ignorant and un-schooled on the topic. Although you may disagree with Tom Gilson, he is very well informed. Have you read his chapters from the book he co-edited titled True Reason?

        • Pofarmer

          What if those people are ignorant and unschooled?

        • nakedanthropologist

          I read his book, and was not impresses. Lots of appeals to authority and argumentum ad populum fallacies. Gilson’s book may prop up a believer’s pre-existing faith in Christianity, but it does not submit substantive evidence nor argument to those who look critically at the veracity of Christianity. Think of it this way: if you replaced the words Christianity/Jesus/god with the words Hinduism/shiva/brahma would you still find Gilson’s arguments to be convincing? Why or why not?

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

          That’s a shame. There’s too much to read, and I try to spend time reading only worthwhile stuff. All I read lately is rehashes of old stuff. Sounds like this may be more of the same if it gives no substantially new arguments.

          The most compelling apologetics that I read are the confusing ones. That’s not because they’re right (or actually compelling) but just that I don’t know what they’re saying and so can’t attack them.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          I have.

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

          The Trinity has a lo-o-o-ong history. The early 2nd-century church fathers didn’t read this and get the idea of the Trinity that’s in your head. If you could time travel back and chat with Paul, you could ask him about the Trinity, but he’d have no idea what you were talking about.

          The doctrine was finalized in the late 300s.

          The Trinity is relevant to Tom’s post because he talked about how powerful Jesus was to create the universe. If God the Father did the actual creating, that was his nod to the Trinity.

        • CodyGirl824

          You contradict yourself here. How can a “doctrine” that wasn’t “finalized” until 300 years after Christ support the argument that his moral perfection divinity in the gospels was only a legendary add-on? Tom is talking about the Gospel According to John and how it frames Jesus’ divinity. As I said, Jesus himself gave us the “trinity” (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) which was later elaborated into the Trinity. In the Episcopal Church we refer to this as the concept of the Triune God; One God in three “persons.” Have you ever seen and heard a Catholic when s/he crosses himself or herself “…In the name of ….

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

          I understand that the Trinity is well established today; I’m simply pointing out that it isn’t clearly stated in the Bible. Hard to imagine that something critically important never got stated in all that text. Alternatively, maybe later Christians handwaved into existence a doctrine that wasn’t actually in the Bible.

          I don’t understand your question (sentence #2). Could you restate it?

        • Pofarmer

          I they kinda sorta had to explain to the Pagans they were trying to convert why they weren’t polytheists too.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you mean by “well established”? Of course you realize that the Trinity is merely a rhetorical and conceptual model or didactic device for explaining the complex relationship between God, Jesus as God incarnate, and the Holy Spirit (an even more complex concept). My rule-of-thumb is that if a concept like the Trinity facilitates or enhances one’s understanding of God, then great. If not, ignore it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Since you obviously missed it Cody, the OT paints a rather unflattering picture of your god–he endorses genocide, petty jealousy, anger, slavery, misogyny, death for thought crimes, etc etc. Not anything near the “perfect savior” that your buddy Gilson portrays him as. In fact, he’s a horrible monster by the reckoning of anyone who has even a modicum of morality about their character.
          Since the cherished doctrine of the Trinity makes clear that the Son is the Father, then by extension these are also personality traits of Jesus. Once again, not just unflattering but frankly atrocious.

        • Pofarmer

          All of that is what makes me want to pull my hair out when I hear the “God is infinitely good” Bullshit.

        • CodyGirl824

          Have you asked any religious Jews about how they feel about the God of the Hebrew Bible? I sincerely doubt that they see the God of the Torah as a “horrible monster.” And of course, there is the problem that atheists have explaining where they get their criteria for judging God from, while simultaneously denying that any supreme moral standard (such as to judge God by) exists. I guess that I should appreciate this new 21st century role atheists have taken upon themselves: Holding God to their elevated moral standard so as to keep Him in line for humanity’s sake.

        • Kodie

          I don’t see the issue. The old-fashioned invented god of your torah exemplifies the moral standard of the time – obedience to authority. This doesn’t really mesh at all well with your claims of a creator who has endowed us with rights to liberty, etc. We’re getting our morals from constantly reassessing our environment and progressing socially and culturally, from language, and from common bargain.

          I don’t ask Jews how they feel about the god of their torah because they’d have a biased opinion just like you do. He’s fantastic especially when he calls for slaughter and floods the world because people make him angry. What a pathetic solution, can’t you see that? What is to admire for the morality or the omnipotence of a god who would resort to something only a human could think sounded reasonable, and really an outdated concept. He’s justified because he’s god? Who are we to judge his morality? Humans created his morality as a tool of fear and submission, it’s a superstition. Real morality considers who may be harmed and minimizing harm. It’s not “whatever big bad old mean authority god says”. There is no morality bestowed upon us by a god, we are actually smarter and nicer than he is. Being threatened to stay in line is neither love nor morality. God needs to get with the times. You’re really silly, you know that? Holding god to our “elevated moral standard”, you are so funny.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pI_nk0L-cF4

        • CodyGirl824

          Sorry, Kodie, but I don’t believe that you are nicer than God.

        • Kodie

          God’s morality amounts to “give me your lunch money or I’ll punch you”. We, with our “elevated moral standard” do not tolerate this abuse of power in humans, at least not on the inside. Many times faced with such a proposition that isn’t imaginary, whatever gets me through safely is the better option, and authority wins because of threats, weapons, numbers, size, or whatever. Your god is a bully, that’s the morality you think we’re all endowed with, then it’s ok to be a bully? It’s ok to pick on people smaller or weaker to get what you want? I am way nicer than god. You don’t like this conversation, go back to the thrilling insularity and bullying outsiders of TC that you mislabel “gentle” and “civilized.” You have a definitely warped sense of morality, and you don’t take responsibility for it. I guess this is the morality you’ve been created to have, but the rest of us can elevate above it. One of the things you might not notice, but I have said repeatedly, is I treat you as hostile because the ideas you have are hostile. You might be able to hold your language together, but you’re an asshole.

          And you forgot to address how well this bullying model makes out with the freedom god of the DoI that you also worship. That’s called cognitive dissonance, where a person can hold conflicting and contradictory viewpoints, and make up some excuse why it makes all the sense, you know, because we’re deaf and can’t hear god. I hear “god” through you, making no sense, being poorly prepared and pseudo-intellectual responses to criticisms.

        • CodyGirl824

          May I remind you of our conversation about “Nature’s God” the “Creator” from the Declaration of Independence. This God is the one who gives us the right not to have any government interfere with our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This includes the government of Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus. I don’t think you and I are talking about the same God at all since you are talking about a “bully god” and I’m talking about the God who liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Of course, God had to deal harshly with Pharaoh, so he probably saw the God of the Hebrews as a bully. Opinions of/about God will vary according to your point of view.

        • wtfwjtd

          “God had to deal harshly with Pharaoh”

          …right. So he slaughtered all the first born children in Egypt, to teach that mean ol’ Pharoah a lesson. So you are saying that you’re OK with this? If your neighbor pissed you off, you would resort to killing his child as long as your god told you it was OK?

        • Kodie

          God can demand anything he wants and if we don’t call it “good” he gives us a hurricane/tornado/terrorist attack/mudslide/tsunami/cancer, in order to teach us a little lesson about having too much pride. It’s ok to be proud of being an asshole, like Jenna is, as long as you align yourself with the bigger bully, but no matter what he does is “good”.

        • CodyGirl824

          What makes you think that these natural phenomena are punishment from God? You sound just like Jerry Falwell, Or maybe Pat Robertson, incognito.

        • Kodie
        • Kodie

          But you believe god interfered in Pharaoh’s shit to save the Jews. He had to do it that way, his hands were fucking tied.

          What makes you think these events were punishment from God? You sound just like Jerry Falwell, or maybe Pat Robertson, incognito.

        • CodyGirl824

          wtfwjtd,

          May I remind you that we Christians believe in eternal life. God is a just God, and innocent children are enjoying that afterlife with God, where there is no pain or suffering.

          Do you believe that the Allies in WWII were committing genocide when we totally destroyed Nazi Germany?

        • wtfwjtd

          Wow, so you are totally OK with the slaughter of children, as long as you can persuade yourself it’s god-endorsed.

          “Do you believe that the Allies in WWII were committing genocide when we totally destroyed Nazi Germany?”

          As for your second question, if I were like you, I’d dodge it. But I’m not like you in any way, and seeing your above response I shutter with revulsion at the thought of ever adopting your “Christian” morals.
          God chose to intentionally target children, and killed them in a savage, despicable act of brutality. If the Allies in WWII had specifically targeted children, in the way your god did, then yes, I would believe them guilty of genocide. But they didn’t, since the Allies weren’t god they couldn’t sift out just the factories and adults who were prosecuting the war, so unfortunately many children were also killed. But to pretend that the Allies targeted children intentionally and no one else, as your god did, is disgustingly dishonest and untruthful. You should be ashamed of yourself for attempting such a dishonest ploy.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is a serious question for those of you who are throwing around the term “genocide” to call into question God’s morality. Was the decision of the Allies to destroy Nazi Germany genocide? Does it meet your definition of genocide?

          As to the reasons for the slaying of the first born in Egypt in the Book of Exodus, this is my interpretation. God sent 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from slavery. Moses warned him that these plagues came from God and the reason why God sent them, as signs of His power over Pharaoh (who considered himself to be God). Pharaoh didn’t believe that these plagues were signs from God. Naturalist that he was, he thought they were just quirks of nature, so he continued to enslave the Hebrews and increased his cruelty toward them. So God sent a final sign, the death of the first born, because nature has no way to select the first born for death on its own. So that sign convinced Pharaoh, at least for awhile.

        • Kodie

          Weren’t you just a little while ago drawing a comparison between me and Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberstson? Even though I never claimed that god sent signs, here you are trotting out this perfectly moral example of god, just killing a kid to punish his dirty filthy father. You have extreme cognitive dissonance.

          Here is a clue: Justifying actions taken by god to prove he is moral, that only demonstrate he is worse than most humans and only a power-hungry petty child, and you defend him. You fall all over yourself to draw us a very clear picture of a monster and you can’t even see it. That’s how drunk you are with religion. Under the influence of a mind-altering substance that makes you say god is good. As I said before, this is a bully. You wouldn’t tolerate this action or behavior or justify it of a human (unless she’s a famous nun). Your morals are totally fucked up. They’re not just terrible, they’re backwards. You’re a sick fuck, Jenna Black.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Pharaoh didn’t believe that these plagues were signs from God. Naturalist that he was, he thought they were just quirks of nature.”

          Wrong again as usual, Jenna. Exodus 11:10 says, ” …but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go…”

          So much for free will–your monster of a god hardened the Pharaoh’s heart, just so he *could* slaughter innocent children when the Pharaoh did what God caused him to do. No matter how you slice it, this is despicable–and you just keep digging yourself a deeper hole by defending your god’s deplorable actions. Shame on you.

        • CodyGirl824

          So, you have concluded that liberation from slavery in Egypt, what modern Jews celebrate annually at Passover (which was just a few weeks ago) and commemorate through their Passover Seder, as do Christians commemorate in our Holy Communion, are “god’s deplorable actions”? Get a grip on reality, wtfwjtd.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think you need to be telling anybody to get a grip in realitye.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re not going to get off that easily Jenna. Yahweh *targeted* children, and then manipulated Pharaoh to have an excuse to carry out his heinous plan. This is god we are talking about here, remember? He could have freed his people from slavery without the slaughtering of children; yet he *chose* child-murder as part of the process. Once again, shame on you for defending this, and trying to rationalize it away.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why are you assuming that the first-born of Egypt were all children? Yes, God “targeted” the first-born, a large percentage of whom were adults. Not that it matters, since what happened to the souls of any innocent Egyptian children who were martyred because of their Pharaoh’s cruelty toward the Hebrews was a just outcome from/by a God of Justice. Keep in mind that Pharaoh murdered all the first born sons of the Hebrews systematically, with Moses himself being saved from Pharaoh’s knife by his mother and sister. You merely assume that you know what would have or could have happened had God not intervened on behalf of the enslaved Hebrews. Are you claiming to be omniscient? God himself?

        • Kodie

          Not that it matters, since what happened to the souls of any innocent
          Egyptian children who were martyred because of their Pharaoh’s cruelty
          toward the Hebrews was a just outcome from/by a God of Justice.

          What souls? Martyred? Because of the Pharaoh’s cruelty? A just outcome? By a god of justice?

          Don’t you fucking see how disgusting you are for framing it this way? When we point out that the character of god is one of an immoral sick bully, and you say “but context” you draw a picture of “well, Adam Lanza totally was justified.” You’re not going to buy some sick school shooter’s excuse, so why do you defend god? Because your moral compass is up your fucking ass.

        • CodyGirl824

          You spend a great deal of time and effort trying to make the God you don’t even believe exists into a moral monster, unsuccessfully, of course. Who is it that you are trying to convince? I hope you realize that all you do is make yourself look ignorant and foolish.I rest assured that the souls of Adam Lanza’s innocent victims are in paradise and that the God of Justice has meted out justice to Adam Lanza and that he is justly suffering for his evil acts.

        • Kodie

          Just because I can’t get through your thick skull does not mean I’m wrong. You portray and defend your god as he IS Adam Lanza. He IS as bloodthirsty, he is as a raging monster. The only other option is the Jews were. They shifted the blame to “god” as they understood him, wanted them to act in his name, committing infanticide like Adam Lanza.

          The fact that you see apples and oranges here makes you the sick fuck with no reliable moral compass, not me.

          I just looooooooooooooove how sure you are that god agrees with your judgment. If it’s innocent souls he wants, Adam Lanza is his right hand man. According to you, we should all be slaughtering innocent children because that’s how to please god. You probably cannot reflect upon why you come off this way, because of your massive ego, taking god’s place and judging what you think his morals would be – if we don’t tolerate this shit from a childkiller in real life, on earth, why are you tolerating it from god?

          Why is it our elevated standard of morality, why doesn’t god have the most?

        • 90Lew90

          “Because… Jesus!”

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          I am merely offering you my interpretation and understanding of the story told by the ancient Hebrews as it comes to us in their Torah (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament). IMO, what they understood and were teaching about God in their holy scriptures is clear. Their meaning is not obscure or difficult to decipher (except perhaps for atheists). Their interpretation of the Book of Exodus is enacted into tradition, ceremony and worship through the celebration of Passover and, as I explained earlier on, the Passover Seder. The Seder celebration includes a prayer for the innocents who died in and for the sake of the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. I do not hold my interpretation and understanding of the Book of Exodus to be any more valid than that of modern Jews and Christians but I really do think that atheists are way, way off track in their analysis of the OT. This is because they/you have a different agenda in reading and interpreting the OT than do people of faith. I’m pretty darn sure that God agrees more with my interpretation of the OT than theirs/yours. And after all, I am ultimately accountable for my understanding of God to God.

        • Kodie

          What is way, way off track about my assessment? You’re “pretty darn sure that God agrees” with you? Why, because you declared it and ever shall it be known? You have not come to your interpretation reasonably, or at least you haven’t demonstrated that you have. You merely assert that your reading is correct. If we actually look at it as written, and as interpreted in the Bible, it looks like the Jews are throwing themselves a huge party for mindless slaughter of innocents and rationalizing it so they can sleep at night knowing which horrors they had wrought. Morality doesn’t mean it’s ok when I do something but I get to judge another differently because now I am the victim. Your sense of morality, your interpretation, simply ignores horrible things and excuses them because “god has mysterious reasons” but we can also use the outcome as (mislabeled) “evidence” that god does prefer us. The Pharaoh had it coming, the Egyptians were terrible people, whatever, that’s what makes it ok to massacre their innocents.

          You are fucking accountable to humanity. Your religion, you are now telling us, gives you exemption status from your obligations to humanity – you’re allowed to judge people and even murder them if you think they are wrong and you are right. We know you’re terrible at perspectives, but why do you think you’re always on the right side? If morality comes from god and it’s objective as you claimed in another thread, and atheists have none, then why am I explaining to you what is a terrible act, and why are you evasive like always? The Jews won, they celebrate Passover!

          That doesn’t make it moral. Answer that. Answer why you think it is moral for the winners to slaughter a whole population and then gloat about it? If the Egyptians did it to the Jews, you could see how that is wrong, just like you see what Adam Lanza did was wrong. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong for everyone. No one gets a pass, not the Jews and not god.

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

          I rest assured …

          Any evidence for that assurance?

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course, my assurance is a belief based on my knowledge of and experience with justice.

        • Kodie

          You can’t keep using “my personal interpretation based on misusing the definition of evidence” and “knowledge” interchangeably as if we haven’t explained the difference to you many many times. Also, your sense of “justice” is an unsupported assertion. So far, you think Adam Lanza, god’s right hand man, is burning in hell, Christopher Hitchens for criticizing Mother Teresa is burning in hell, all the innocent children are in heaven and Mother Teresa is also in heaven because she meant well and never officially gave up her faith or the morally faulty path she took it to.

          You have a vivid fantasy life, however.

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

          So no evidence then, just your own belief. OK. That doesn’t make for much of an argument to convince the rest of us, however.

        • Pofarmer

          But she has knowledge of and experience with justice, divine presumably, how could you NOT be convinced?

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

          It’s as bad as Wm. Lane Craig’s defense of the Israelite genocide of Canaan by saying that the most injured party was the Israelite soldiers.

          How tough it must’ve been for them to hack children to death …

          And Christians wonder why atheists get so agitated about the harm that Christian thought can do to people.

        • wtfwjtd

          “It’s as bad as Wm. Lane Craig’s defense of the Israelite genocide of Canaan by saying that the most injured party was the Israelite soldiers.

          How tough it must’ve been for them to hack children to death …”

          I thought that you had went over this in a post, but now we have someone who calls themselves a Christian actually saying it on your blog rather than just an apologist using it in a debate,or Bob the Atheist *saying* this is what Christians might say. It really brings your point home in rather disturbing fashion.

          “And Christians wonder why atheists get so agitated about the harm that Christian thought can do to people.”

          No doubt.

        • Kodie

          I don’t rest assured there are 2.3 billion sick fucks walking the earth. Good thing there’s compartmentalization.

        • CodyGirl824

          …a tool that you use frequently.

        • Kodie

          Yes, if the tool is right for the job. You are a sick fuck, the god you describe is, and if Christians are willing to give god a pass as you have, then yes, they are all sick fucks. If you have a problem being called a sick fuck, take a look at yourself and figure out some ways to stop being one.

        • CodyGirl824

          I pose the same challenge to you as to Bob. Show me evidence that a thought, any thought, harms people.

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

          Yes, I did do a post on Wm. Lane Craig’s use of this bizarre argument. But it’s is fun to get front row seats to see it live.

        • wtfwjtd

          You are indeed a true prophet Bob. Ramen!

        • CodyGirl824

          Show me evidence that a thought harms people.

        • Kodie
        • CodyGirl824

          If you call this statement evidence, this assumes that there is actually thought behind the verbal abuse dished out on this website.

        • Kodie

          You said you were physically abused by a metaphor.

        • CodyGirl824

          Read carefully, Kodie. I addressed what is allowed on this website. Please note the difference between a thought and the language used to express a thought.

        • Kodie

          I love how your use of evidence is random associations and attributions at Jenna’s personal whim, and then I show you real evidence of someone (you) claiming harm from a thought on this blog, on this thread, and you dismiss it, because, to you, there’s a difference between thought and expression of that thought. Thank you for illustrating just how dishonest you are willing to be.

        • CodyGirl824

          The issue being addressed here is whether, as Bob S. claims, “Christian thought” causes people harm. Here are his words: “And Christians wonder why atheists get so agitated about the harm that Christian thought can do to people.” I asked him for evidence of this harm, the harm he claims “agitates” atheists. I’m still waiting for a reply.

        • Kodie

          Are you that fucking moronic that you think he was talking about telepathy?

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

          I just did. Want to hear it again?

          I’ll bet Wm. Lane Craig is a decent human being. I bet he’d never dream of cheating on his taxes. I bet he’s a friendly and generous neighbor. I bet his gives to charity. And yet this decent man is made to say that the Israelites’ hacking to death men, women, babies, and fetuses was A-OK and that the real injury was to the soldiers who had to endure all that. And why? Because of a thought–lots of thoughts. The indoctrination of Christianity.

        • Kodie

          No, that is like we celebrate Independence Day in the US. They won the war, the bloody bloody bloody war. They give credit to a sick fuck of a god, because they are sick fucks of people. You are surprised that an atheist has no respect for religious holidays commemorating a slaughter and cheering on god for giving them permission to fuck their shit up, but good.

          In the present tense, normally moral people have a problem with their government overseeing a war that callously blankets the landscape with bombs, killing schools full of children and families who have not done anyone harm. And you wonder (possibly you are not even aware) why the rest of the world has such a low regard for the US? I am actually sick of it, myself. I don’t condone wars my government fights, I am sorry, those soldiers are not dying for my freedom, they are dying for a witless cause, and no, the region of America I live in is not full of stereotypical Jennas. I take offense at the reputation people like her have given the world of my country.

          At no point does “god” come down off his throne and do anything for anyone. Why do good people die? God has a plan. The data points for god’s “goodness” are people winning at some superficial small fucking thing, and oblivious to the losses around them, sweeping them under the carpet of the lord’s most perfect but unknowable reasons.

          You describe the liberation from slavery as a violent beyond all reason affair. The Pharaoh had to be punished by killing his first born son. And logically, since nature can’t detect “firstbornness,” god had to get a body, had to stick his shit into things and give someone the world’s worst punishment, the loss of a child. Ha ha, that is funny. Happy Passover, you shithead.

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

          God wanted to set Pharaoh up for a bigger fall, to make a better demonstration of his power.

          What a fun guy! I wish I could worship him, instead of Kodie.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yep, if child-slaughter and fear and loathing of yourself is your thing, then Yahweh’s your boy.

        • Pofarmer

          Actually, the bble says that God hardened Pharoahs heart so he wouldn’t let the Israelites go, so he got to send more plagues upon him. Kind of mean and petty, actually.

        • MNb

          I don’t want eternal life, so that’s one reason your god is not just. According all christians I’ve met my wish, just going back to nothing, won’t be granted.
          Rather dickish.

        • Pofarmer

          Did I actually just read that all those dead children are in heaven so it’s O.K.? Where is asiantonas when I need to demonstrate something. Wow. Just wow. That’s pathetic.

        • Kodie

          Do you really not see that you are just taking sides? Sure, it’s ridiculous to call something genocide – but when your side is the victim, it’s totally genocide. Genocide is a serious accusation! We’re not that bad!

          And that’s how your morals work – complete denial of responsibility. Whatever Jenna does is fine but if someone else does it, it’s terrible. The rest of us have a sense of empathy – we do not do or justify the things we would not want done to us. Do unto others as you would have done unto you? Sound familiar?

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

          I see now the logic in Andrea Yates’ drowning of her children so that they’d get into heaven before they became adults and could risk doing something stupid and getting sent to hell by the God who loves them so much.

        • Kodie

          Is this the same creator god who grants liberty for Christians to adjust this world to their preferences and expectations with no regard for the rights of others? Because that’s usually why people cling to this argument. Your god definitely is a bully and you defend him, perhaps you know what would happen if you judged him, and out of fear, you obey. Remember that time when you rested assured that Mother Teresa ended up in a more comfortable place than Christopher Hitchens? Exactly what the everloving fuck goes through your mind when you deem yourself nicer than me?

        • CodyGirl824

          Correction. I said that God is nicer than you are. I made no comparison between you and me.

        • Kodie

          Is this the same creator god who grants liberty for Christians to adjust
          this world to their preferences and expectations with no regard for the
          rights of others? Because that’s usually why people cling to this
          argument. Your god definitely is a bully and you defend him, perhaps you
          know what would happen if you judged him, and out of fear, you obey.
          Remember that time when you rested assured that Mother Teresa ended up
          in a more comfortable place than Christopher Hitchens?

        • CodyGirl824

          You’re repeating yourself.

        • Kodie

          Do you know I did that because you didn’t answer it.

        • MNb

          I’m pretty sure Kodie won’t send me to hell or heaven (not that there is much difference) after I die, so I’d rather have Kodie. She doesn’t ask me to worship her either.

        • CodyGirl824

          And of course, Kodie is not your Creator. She is perfectly correct to not ask you (or anyone else) to worship her.

        • Kodie

          The question is why did you call it idolatry when wtfwjtd said I was nicer than god? Will you answer that question or keep being a slippery dishonest asshole whose moral imprint is superior to everyone else’s.

        • MNb

          Your god is not my creator either, so he is perfectly correct not to ask me to worship him either – which he, hidden as he is, never has done. That’s one reason I’m an atheist.
          So we are where I want to be: worshipping your god is idolatry; saying that Kodie is nicer than your god isn’t.
          Thanks.

        • MNb

          “This God is the one who gives us the right”
          You.
          Not me.
          The USA is not the Rest of the World.

        • CodyGirl824

          God is the one who endows us with unalienable rights regardless of what country you live in. If you do not enjoy your God-given human and civil rights in the country in which you live, God is on your side in your struggle against your government to secure them.

        • Kodie

          OMG, misses the point again, strays from the topic, evades criticism, leaps at the chance to proselytize. Are you going to be relevant at any time?

        • MNb

          No. Humans wrote the two constitutions that are relevant to me. God never gave me anything.
          If your god is on the side of the ones who struggle against governments to secure the human and civil rights he gave them I can name a few countries where he did a very lousy job. Ever heard of the Weimar Republic?

        • CodyGirl824

          As in the example of Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus, evil governments can be very stubborn indeed.

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

          God is the one who endows us with unalienable rights

          I think you have things backwards. The reason you’re able to be a Christian and say whatever you want is because of the Constitution, not God. The Constitution protects you; God doesn’t. If you don’t like that, either take a civics class or find another society where God is more in the center of public life. Maybe Yemen.

          I’m not asking you to worship the Constitution, just understand the cause and effect. God doesn’t ground any rights in this country; the Constitution does.

        • Pofarmer

          I am really tired of this stupid creator shit you are trying to pull. You’re being a cronological embecile,

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

          “Nature’s God” /= Yahweh. You know that, right?

        • wtfwjtd

          I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Kodie is far nicer than the god of the Old Testament, and by a mile!

        • CodyGirl824

          This is a great example of idolatry.

        • Kodie

          Your delusion (and paranoia?) spreads…. how is this idolatry?

        • wtfwjtd

          I said I thought Kodie was a far nicer person than the OT god, I didn’t say I worshiped her. See the difference?

        • CodyGirl824

          As I said, opinions of/about God will vary. So will opinions about Kodie.

        • Kodie

          Follow the shiny red bouncing ball, you moron. You called it “idolatry” for wtfwjtd to say I was nicer than god.

        • MNb

          Yes. Opinions are not idolatry. See the difference?

        • CodyGirl824

          i·dol·a·try

          1) idol worship: the worship of idols or false gods

          2) extreme admiration: excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something

          What is your point?

        • MNb

          That expressing the opinion that Kodie is a nicer character than your god is not idolatry. I don’t worship her.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’m glad to hear it since as a god, she would be sure to disappoint.

        • Kodie

          I think I can even do more than your god can do. Still not idolatry.

        • avalpert

          idolatry = worshiping the dead guy Jesus or is whorish mother Mary…

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

          Huh? Kodie has ordered the genocide of whole tribes? She’s killed millions in a flood?

          You’ll have to walk me through that one.

        • wtfwjtd

          So you are telling me you are A-OK with the God-commanded genocide of the OT? And you endorse slavery, misogyny, and prosecution of thought crimes just like Yahweh did?

          Do you really need to ask any more why people feel the need to stand up and oppose your views?

        • CodyGirl824

          The OT is the story of the ancient Hebrews’ relationship with God as they understood God. It’s their story about God, not God Himself. Your understanding of the God with whom they had a relationship (called the Covenant) seems to be quite different from theirs. It is also quite different from the understanding of modern Jews and Christians.

          I highly recommend the book by Paul Copan (2011), “Is God a moral monster? Making sense of the Old Testament God.” Copan anticipates and addresses your concerns about God. On p. 66, Copan says this: “The critics have a point: this isn’t the way things ought to be done… But…IS doesn’t mean OUGHT; the way biblical characters happen to act isn’t necessarily an endorsement of their behavior.”

          In reading the OT, one must be sure that we distinguish clearly between what God did and what the ancient Hebrews did in response to what they believed God wanted them to do. As imperfect human beings, they made mistakes (sinned).

        • Kodie

          Are you serious? Then the other option is they lied, maybe to themselves, which is all religion is, to justify getting the outcome they wanted, by any means necessary. That is all a delusion, it’s the same delusion you can’t recognize AND are justifying. You may call criticism of it “chronological snobbery” (as I understand it, it’s another term you misuse), but you have the reverse – whatever they did was justified because they were just trying to understand a murky and invisible god who, even then, never showed up and proved his own existence. He exists in the brutal imaginations of bullies who want to get the job done and want to feel satisfied instead of guilty for slaughtering innocent people. Clue for Jenna: if understanding god means you have to commit genocide, exterminate every person of a particular nationality or race, then you aren’t getting your morality from a deity. You’re defending your shitty morality by invoking an imaginary bully.

        • CodyGirl824

          Keep in mind that only groups of people or governments can commit genocide. Individuals can’t. Genocide is incompatible with the God (Nature’s God, the Creator) who protects our human dignity and right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness against any government. Since you are talking about an imaginary bully, you are not talking about the God of the Hebrew Bible, so again, we are not talking about God. You might as well call the god you are talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’ve never actually read the Old Testament, have you?

        • Kodie

          Only groups like Jews? I know the god I”m talking about is not real, but you can come up with every excuse to get out of addressing criticism. The god you invoke is an imaginary character, and apparently, whatever you want him to be. I say he’s a bully, you say that bully god I’m criticizing is imaginary because your god is not a bully. Do you fucking listen to yourself? Try to understand how your defense not only makes god more of a cartoon character to me, not less, but it also makes you more of a liar, a dishonest debater, a self-righteous asshole, and illiterate. None of your characterization of god makes me think “oh, I understand better how he’s not a bully.”

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          You say this: “I know the god I”m talking about is not real.” I completely agree with you. The god YOU are talking about is not real.

        • Kodie

          The god you’re talking about is the god I’m talking about. Not real. I mean, I know he’s not real. You are deluded.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Kodie. This is exactly the point. You are not talking about the God of monotheism. You have your very own crazy monstrous image of a god that you and I both reject.

        • Kodie

          Are you from another fucking planet? Your god is a terrorist hijacker crashing into the Pentagon and you think he is justified. The god you believe in is, as a character, a sick motherfucker childkiller sacrifice-demander. You are either a sick fuck, a moron, or totally hostage to this concept because you fear hell.

          There are no other options.

        • MNb

          Well, it was obviouisly a group of Hebrews who slaughtered the Canaanites and the inhabitants of Jericho. They had a leader too; he was called YHWH.

        • CodyGirl824

          That’s the first time I’ve ever heard God referred to as the “leader” of a group. This is clearly an example of anthropomorphism.

        • wtfwjtd

          “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard God referred to as the “leader” of a group. This is clearly an example of anthropomorphism.”

          Silly girl, you really haven’t read your own Bible, have you?

          Exodus 12:51–”And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt…”

        • Tony Hoffman

          Don’t forget the leader of men who’s kryptonite is iron, as explained in Judges 1:19. (As it was later pointed out to me, iron being Yahweh’s kryptonite would also explain why God inevitably is found to be powerless on earth.)

        • CodyGirl824

          Is “brought them out” equivalent to led them? Moses was their leader during the entire Exodus, no? It was God who brought them out and Moses who led them. Correct?

        • Kodie

          They are claiming that god had a hand in their triumph, god made sure they won, god freed them from slavery. How are you not anthropomorphizing the justification to make war against people and slaughter their innocents?

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

          Genocide is incompatible with the God (Nature’s God, the Creator)

          So you haven’t read the OT accounts then? Genocide is just one of the many fun options in God’s palette.

          And “Nature’s God” /= your god. You’ve been corrected on this already.

          EDIT: And I see you’ve already been called on this by others. (I’m late to the game here.)

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

          “the way biblical characters happen to act isn’t necessarily an endorsement of their behavior.”

          And what about when they do something terrible in response to God’s commands? When God’s behind the action, God gets blamed. That’s how it works.

        • CodyGirl824

          The concept of “blaming God” is rather odd and not congruent with Christianity. I don’t think you really do understand “how it works” Bob. As I said, the ancient Hebrews acted in response to that they believed God wanted them to do. We must interpret the sacred scriptures ourselves to discover whether or not we believe that their response was in keeping with God’s Supreme Justice. We must also interpret their developing knowledge and understanding of/about God in and through their relationship and covenant with God.

          Have you read Paul Copan’s book yet?

        • Kodie

          The concept of “blaming God” is rather odd and not congruent with Christianity.

          Of course it’s not congruent with Christianity. Do I care? No. Christianity is not congruent with morality or reality. No matter what god does, it’s super great, according to Christians. It doesn’t matter how disgusting and disturbing and violent and harsh and petty it is, whatever it is, you can’t judge god for doing what he wants. You can’t blame god, and when you could blame god, you find a way to blame the nature of sin or the devil instead. The concept of blaming god would be at odds with being a sycophant looking out for their ass in the hereafter. In other words, superstition makes you immoral; you can’t excuse god fast enough or else he may smite you.

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

          The concept of “blaming God” is rather odd and not congruent with Christianity.

          Then Christianity has to man up and face the consequences.

          I don’t think you really do understand “how it works” Bob.

          I’m certain that I do, but thanks for asking. We don’t start with a presupposition of God’s existence, we take that as a hypothesis and test it. We have the Bible, we have Christian traditions, and so on; let’s evaluate those.

          When God acts like a maniacal SOB, we say so. We don’t say, “Ah, well God must have his reasons,” since we haven’t decided that God exists yet. When we look at the claims, this bastard is certainly not a loving father, and we say so. The God story stands in judgment; that’s how it works.

          As I said, the ancient Hebrews acted in response to that they believed God wanted them to do.

          That’s what I said! High five.

          And what God wanted them to do was immoral. Doesn’t paint the Big Man in a good light.

          in keeping with God’s Supreme Justice

          The stories the OT tells about God’s Supreme Justice® makes me think that God didn’t learn to share in kindergarten and it all went downhill from there.

          Have you read Paul Copan’s book yet?

          I have a copy, but no. Your quote of it was yet one more bit of a mounting pile of evidence (from what I’ve read of it) that it’s a waste of time with no thoughtful arguments in favor of this bully.

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

          denying that any supreme moral standard

          What supreme moral standard? Is there objective moral truths? I don’t remember any evidence from you.

          Plain ol’ morality is quite sufficient to judge and condemn God’s actions, thanks. We don’t need the supreme kind.

        • CodyGirl824

          By the standard of “plain ol’ morality” we can see God’s justice but only God can mete out His Supreme Justice. Atheists have not presented one iota of evidence that God is in any way worthy of condemnation. Atheists only think so because they/you don’t know God.

        • Kodie

          Knowing god seems to take out your empathy and make you root for death and violence of people you think are beneath you.

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

          Yes, I see that if you start with the presumption of God, things look different. The rest of us aren’t starting there.

          If you just want to look ridiculous, continue. If you actually want to engage in a thoughtful discussion, give an argument that doesn’t depend on that presupposition.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, you asked me for “evidence” of my assurance that Adam Lanza and his innocent victims are, in death, judged by a God of Justice. You ask me to give you an “argument” that doesn’t “presume” God. Atheists here are claiming that God is a moral monster, worthy of condemnation. It seems to me that to make this argument, it is atheists who must make “the presumption of God.” How can you argue about God’s morality without presuming that there is a God and that there is a moral standard to/for which He is to be held accountable.And you ask me to argue about God’s morality without the “presupposition” of God? You go first.

        • Kodie

          Reading got you confused again? This is the character you hold up. You are justifying and rationalizing this character you hold up. We are criticizing it. If you at least believe in god, at least you could assess this character more honestly instead of defending him. God doesn’t exist, you hold up a character YOU think is real, and you judge him to be the best, the most moral. We’re really not judging god, we’re judging stories, and we’re judging your reaction to and your assessment of those stories. God is “good” first, and then you see the stories and you twist it around so god is always good, no matter what.

          You’re so funny when you are this brazenly stupid.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie, yes, we are judging stories, stories from the OT about the relationship between God and the ancient Hebrews. We are judging what those stories teach about God as the ancient Hebrews, the authors and transmitters of the stories, understood God. It’s called interpretation. My understanding of God is as the Ultimate Good, yes. This is also the understanding of Jews and Christians, past and present. My “reaction” to these stories is quite mainstream and ordinary among people of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

          What I don’t understand is how atheists such as yourself approach the stories in the Bible looking for God’s alleged moral defects when you don’t even believe that God exists.

        • wtfwjtd

          Cody, you ever read “Harry Potter”? I make many judgments about Voldemort’s “alleged moral defects” and he is a completely made up character, just like your god. Get it?

        • CodyGirl824

          If you read the Old Testament with the same paradigm and for the same purpose as you read “Harry Potter,” then I can understand why you have missed the whole point of the sacred scriptures.

        • Pofarmer

          The “whole point” is that they read like, and in some cases are cribbed from, just about every other ancient cultures holy scriptures.

        • Kodie

          I know you are tired of answering questions, so I will just ask you one more. What is your method for dispensing with and dismissing other claims of god from other religions and beliefs? Do you even read their religious documents, try to understand their evidence for claims of another god?

          Why do you demand we read yours any other way than a fictional account?

        • CodyGirl824

          I make no demands on anyone regarding how you approach reading the Bible. That’s entirely up to you.

        • Kodie

          You do make demands that we read it another way than Harry Potter. The “sacred scriptures” are just fiction, and if you are having a hard time comprehending that, please answer the original question.

        • wtfwjtd

          Since your whole point of reading the bible is to rationalize away god-committed genocide and murder, that we would have differing views on those scriptures is to be expected.

        • CodyGirl824

          What is “god-committed genocide and murder”?

          http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext.htm

          The term “genocide” has a specific meaning, as for example, the international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:

          1) the mental element, meaning the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”, and 2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called “genocide.” Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity.

        • Pofarmer

          Many of us also believe that many/most of the OT stories are fables, because, ya know, evidence. So, what you are really defending, is the Ancient Hebrews appalling sense of morality. So bad, in fact, that the Romans saw fit to reign it in right off the bat.

        • CodyGirl824

          Did you mean “fables” where you wrote “fanles”?

          No, I am not “really defending” the ancient Hebrews’ morality, which you perceive as being “appalling.” I am offering my interpretation of what certain stories from the OT tell us about how the Hebrews understood God and their relationship with God. Frankly, I can’t see anything that is “bad”, much less “appalling” about the Hebrews’ morality in the story of the Exodus.Would you care to elaborate? Please keep in mind that this story is all about a struggle for the Hebrews’ freedom from slavery under a genuinely evil tyrant of a Pharaoh.

        • Pofarmer

          There’s more to the OT than exodus, but yes, even in Exodus there are some appalling morals. Like when they go through the camp after the breaking of the first tablets and kill 3000 or whatever the number is? Also, please keep in mind, when you talk of the exodus and the evil, unnamed, Pharaoh, there isn’t any, ya know, evidence for it, and there is even quite a bit of contradictory evidence, hence, fables.

        • CodyGirl824

          When reading the Book of Exodus to discover the ancient Hebrews’ understanding of God and their relationship with God, its literary genre is not as important as is their purposes in writing and transmitting the stories in/through their sacred scriptures.

        • Pofarmer

          So, then, how do the Hebrew sacred scriptures compare and contrast to the Sumerian or Babylonian sacred scriptures?

        • CodyGirl824

          I cannot say. I’ve never read any sacred scriptures of the Sumerians or Babylonians. Why do you ask anyway?

        • Pofarmer

          Wouldn’t it be interesting to know the relationship other ancient cultures had to their God?

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

          Not a problem. Search “Sumerian” here and you’ll find several posts that give a quick summary of the Sumerian cosmology to show that it’s the very model of the universe that the author of Gen. 1 used.

        • Kodie

          You could see a problem if you were the victims of the Jews’ wrath instead of siding with the Jews. Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember when there were assemblages of Muslims in other countries finding this event a cheerful one?

          This is you.

        • MNb

          ” Please keep in mind that this story is all about a struggle for the Hebrews’ freedom from slavery under a genuinely evil tyrant of a Pharaoh.”
          Eh no. The expession “slavery under a genuinely evil tyrant of a Pharaoh” is meaningless here, because unlike the Babylonian exile (and that one was not too bad) the Egyptian exil is not historical. The brilliant archeologist Finkelstein has digged in the entire Sinai and found zero evidence of Moses and his band. Neither are the Hebrews mentioned in the Egyptian annals, which go back to long before there actually was a Hebrew nation.
          If you take the scientific approach and get rid of all the supernatural stuff (including an existing god iso a god image as developed by the Hebrews) the explanation is remarkaby simple.
          Israel/Judaea was a small nations situated between two superpowers. As the Ukraine shows today that’s a highly uncomfortable situation. Deterrence Theory describes the usual reaction of such a nation that wants to keep its independence. The Hebrews developed their ancient version of a nuclear arsenal: a kick ass god. Moreover such a nation needs a unified and determined population.
          Egypt had occupied the near Middle East many times before. So the story of the Egyptian exile, including the role this god plays, was developed to scare off Egypt and to warn the Hebrew population what would happen if it failed.
          The fun thing is that even in our modern eyes all the cruelties suddenly become far more understandable and forgivable. It means though that a) the story is not divinely inspired and b) it doesn’t have any religious and/or moral relevance for us. The story is only problematic because it’s part of a Holy Book. Remove it from canon and you’re done.
          Once again science (in this case the combination of history of Antiquity and politicology) defeats religion.

        • MNb

          Of course we are judging stories (in this context I’m willing to look at science as a story as well). The big question is: what methodology do we use?
          Your answer never got any further than “accepting what my underbelly thinks nice”.

        • CodyGirl824

          What do you mean by “we” and “methodology”? There is no one methodology for biblical interpretation (midrash, exegesis). Atheists most certainly take a variety of approaches, most of which, IMO, lead to some very bizarre and unconvincing interpretations.

        • Kodie

          What I don’t understand is how atheists such as yourself approach the
          stories in the Bible looking for God’s alleged moral defects when you
          don’t even believe that God exists.

          Because you can’t read, I will try to explain it again? Because people actually do believe in that god and do call him “good”. You are judging a story about ancient Hebrews and how they understood god the same way you understand god, and every Christian does – whatever you want, god agrees with you. I don’t believe there’s a god, but I do acknowledge that Christians exist, with all their faulty logic and apparently shitty moral compass. The fact that your reaction to these stories is “mainstream” is not an adequate defense and actually draws a bleaker picture of the horrific moral dysfunctionality of 2.3 million other people. The stories rationalize horrific violence because the Jews will do anything, and the ends justifies the means. To you, that is only moral because you side with the Jews in that story and the Jews said god gave them the courage and permission to go ahead and commit heinous acts for their own success.

          When we draw you a detailed diagram, you hide in shadows of evasion and denial, and how fairly common it is to be this callous toward humanity.

        • CodyGirl824

          First of all, Kodie, we are discussing specifically the story of the Exodus. What heinous acts do you claim that the Jews committed in the story of their liberation from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt? Going strictly by the OT text?

          Second, I hear you complaining mightily about God sending the Angel of Death to take the first-born of the Egyptians but not a word of condemnation of Pharaoh for murdering every newborn male among the Hebrews for years, knowing that Moses would have been one of them. Do you believe that the Egyptians suffered in equal proportion to the suffering they inflicted on the Hebrews in their enslavement? How do you think the Hebrews viewed God’s sending of the Angel of Death? As an injustice against the Egyptians? Don’t you think they might have seen the deaths of the Egyptian first-born as a just punishment for the murder of thousands of their own boy infants? Keep in mind that Bible interpretation is about comprehending what the ancient Hebrews’ understanding of God was from their point of view, in their context, under their circumstances, at a particular point in time in their moral evolution, and in their relationship with their God.

          Now, pray tell, how do you conclude that 2.3 billion Christians are “morally dysfunctional” based on our interpretation of the Book of Exodus that Pharaoh in the Book of Exodus got what he deserved? Are you taking Pharaoh’s side against the Hebrews?

        • Kodie

          The way you describe it is it’s ok to murder babies if your own babies have been murdered. When in your life do you think this applies morally? It’s my understanding that the justice system of the US does not comply with human sense of retribution, which are sick and come from the sickness of loss. Too many Christians justify a death with a death, with glee. If a man stole your child and murdered them, you’d want him dead, but would you think it’s ok to kill his child to punish him instead? Because you’re saying that’s justice.

        • MNb

          “Atheists here are claiming that God is a moral monster, worthy of condemnation.”
          Uh no. That’s why I don’t write god with a capital. The god that ordered to commit genocide on the Canaanites and the inhabitants of Jericho does qualify as a moral monster indeed. But I’m totally willing to accept that that’s only one god (or rather god image). Somewhere I read that the Bible actually describes five christian gods; if I have time and feel like I might look it up, but that can take a while.
          You as a christian have the problem to harmonize the Bible, not us atheists.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Christians don’t have a “problem to harmonize the Bible.” What makes you think that we do? And if indeed you think that Bible exegesis is our problem, why do you spend so much time concocted these arguments against a God you don’t believe exists? Who are you trying to convince?

        • Kodie

          The thing is, there was never any god. The authors of the bible used the character of god as a lever to justify the acts of man. The horrible, indefensible acts of one selected group of humans against another. We didn’t do it, you deserved it! God commanded that we do it, so we justified our acts by rationalizing god agrees with whatever we wish.

          See? We’re not such bad guys!

          No, I still don’t see. Jenna sees these acts as justified because the bad guys needed justice meted out to them by human actors, just like always, god never actually interferes in human affairs. He is a bludgeon and a shield to hide behind, a symbolic authority to fuck shit up capriciously.

        • CodyGirl824

          You most certainly are not talking about God as the ancient Hebrews understood and modern Jews and Christians understand God. Considering that some of the most horrible, indefensible acts in human history were committed by atheists, who did not use God as a justification for their actions, I find your protestations to be rather unconvincing.

        • wtfwjtd

          More fact-free “Jenna says” assertions. Nice.

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

          Atheists here are claiming that God is a moral monster, worthy of condemnation.

          Right, through a very simple process: if you replace “God” with “Mad King Bob” in the barbarous stories in the OT, you would conclude that that king was a sick piece of work.

          Dang—despite your best efforts, it really ain’t that hard.

          Bizarrely, you said, “Atheists have not presented one iota of evidence that God is in any way worthy of condemnation.” If you think Mad King Bob was A-OK, then we won’t get anywhere with this topic.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, this is just another rendition of the FSM approach. If you replace the name “God” with the name of a human actor, you have no means of making any sense of the Bible. Not that making sense of the Bible is atheists’ agenda in reading it anyway.

        • Kodie

          If you don’t close your eyes really tight, and clap your hands over your ears, and shout “la la la I can’t hear you”, the bible makes no fucking sense, so do it Jenna’s way, be stupid, be willfully ignorant, make excuses, and it will totally make god into a moral and good character.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxwVcGXhi0o

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

          I keep saying stuff, and you keep ignoring it, and round and round we go. Fun on a merry-go-round, but I’m frankly tired of it.

          If you assume that God exists and he’s all-powerful and created the universe, yes, God looks like a decent kind of guy. This will shock you, but atheists don’t start with that presuppositions. “God exists” is the very thing being debated.

          If your point is that the Bible is ridiculous to an outsider, then high five. That’s what we’ve been saying all along. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to say that, no, the Bible actually makes good sense to any open-minded person, Christian or not, then retract that last comment or find out who’s logging in with your name and writing gibberish and making you take the blame for it.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, of course I understand that atheists don’t approach Bible interpretation with the assumption that God exists. You are being sarcastic in suggesting that this will shock me. But part of reading any piece of literature or the holy scriptures of any religion is to attempt to understand it from the point of view of the author(s) and his/her/their audience (readership) and their purpose in writing these books. It is obvious that the Torah was not written for/to 21st century atheists. The books of the Hebrew Bible were written to transmit the religious and cultural teachings of their societies. I sincerely believe that intelligent atheists are capable of doing this, for the purpose of understanding what God meant to the ancient Hebrews and how they themselves describe and report their relationship with God.

          But the reality is that many atheists approach the OT with a purpose that I characterize as “getting the goods on God.” This is their agenda. I can only guess at why they/you do since, as I have said, making a moral case against a God you don’t believe exists seems like a giant waste of time. If you really believe that the ancient Hebrews were just “ridiculous” for believing in God and having a relationship with God, then why bother reading the OT in the first place? Certainly there are some atheists who appreciate the OT as great literature, the story of a civilization and people’s spiritual, cultural, religious history and teachings. However, atheists who distort the OT in their attempt to make a moral case against the Creator for argumentative purposes, do have an agenda and need to be called out for it.

        • Kodie

          You continually assert that the Hebrews understood god to the limits of their ability to do so at the time, and yet fail to acknowledge any other concept of an origin myth in any other culture. They were using god as a bludgeon and a shield.

          The reality is that atheists do not want to get the goods on god. There is no god. You are stubborn in your denial that what the words say are what the words say. You defend and excuse this behavior unlike you would do for any other. The problem is so many people are happy-go-lucky about this disgusting portrayal of god because it only matters that the Jews prevailed, and yet, we’re supposed to feel bad about criticizing people for having screwy morals, who constantly claim moral superiority over especially atheists. How many pictures do we have to draw for you?

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

          Bob, of course I understand that atheists don’t approach Bible interpretation with the assumption that God exists.

          Then one wonders what the last couple of comments were about if you didn’t have to have it explained to you.

          part of reading any piece of literature or the holy scriptures of any religion is to attempt to understand it from the point of view of the author(s) and his/her/their audience (readership) and their purpose in writing these books. It is obvious that the Torah was not written for/to 21st century atheists.

          (1) Tough.

          (2) Yeah, it shows.

          (3) Wrong.

          You claim that there is a perfect, all-good deity? Fine, give me the evidence. But know this: this evidence will be evaluated with modern sensibilities. If he doesn’t measure up to our modern standards of morality, too bad for your claim. Your claim fails.

          You say that he’s a product of an Iron Age culture and that he looks it? Fine; he may not measure up, and his origin is no excuse. You say that morality was viewed differently back then? Tough—he’s evaluated with our morality now.

          The books of the Hebrew Bible were written to transmit the religious and cultural teachings of their societies.

          That’s nice. And that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about your claim for the existence of this all-good god. Let’s read about his shenanigans in the OT to see if he measures up.

          But the reality is that many atheists approach the OT with a purpose that I characterize as “getting the goods on God.” This is their agenda. I can only guess at why they/you do

          Must be tough when everyone is mean to you and disrespects your supernatural claims.

          And you’re wrong again. I evaluate your claims fairly. Anyone would evaluate Mad King Bob negatively. Anyone (outside your Christian bubble) would evaluate Yahweh the same way (since he did the same stuff).

          as I have said, making a moral case against a God you don’t believe exists seems like a giant waste of time.

          It’s all of a piece. You do see why atheists are concerned about the excesses in American society coming from Christians, right?

          If you really believe that the ancient Hebrews were just “ridiculous” for believing in God and having a relationship with God, then why bother reading the OT in the first place?

          Huh? Because we want to evaluate the claims fairly. Not a hard concept when you stop the bluster and consider us as open-minded, intelligent people, right?

          atheists who distort the OT in their attempt to make a moral case against the Creator for a rgumenta tive purposes, do have an agenda and need to be called out for it.

          Go for it. I doubt you’ll find many distorters here. As I’ve tried to make clear (and you’re determined to not understand), the god of the OT was an asshole.

        • CodyGirl824

          I get it, Bob. You think that “the god of the OT was an asshole.” You have stated your reason for not believing in, loving and worshiping a god that you think is an asshole. But your opinion of God does not represent you as an open-minded, intelligent person. Rather, it shows that you believe God to be a larger, more powerful, invisible version of yourself.

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

          As for your last sentence, no, God is a larger, more powerful version of the people who wrote about him.

          But confront my challenge directly. God commands genocide and he condones slavery. If you were a dictator or monarch and did that, you’d go down in history as imperfect at the very least, if not a bad person. Why does God get a pass?

          Your response is to retreat to a Christian worldview. And I agree, you’ve got various responses from there, including, “Well, God must have his reasons. He is a bazillion times smarter than you, after all. Judging his actions from your tiny position is a bit presumptuous, don’t you think?”

          But, as we’ve discussed, that response and that position are invalid. Use that to show us how you can sleep at night if you want, but that won’t be convincing to any outsider.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, you are the one trying to convince the Christian and Jewish communities that we have God all wrong and you have Him right. Again, I repeat, the OT is the account that the ancient Hebrews give of their relationship with God as they understood God. Your opinion of their account of their relationship with God and the God with whom they had a relationship (and their posterity still does) is meaningless and irrelevant.

          Case in point: How do you claim to know that God (who according to you, does not exist) condones slavery?

        • Kodie

          Maybe it is because of your illiteracy issue, but nobody suspects the Jews of having an understanding of god any more than they had a puppet dictator, just like you do, to say anything they wanted to say for them, with an authority they could exploit. A little like Hitler.

          God doesn’t condone slavery or genocide at all. Are you getting it yet? Because there is no god, only people.

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

          One day, I checked my email notifications, and I saw that Cody said, “Y’know, that last argument was intriguing. I must confess that I don’t have a snappy answer for that one. Let me think on that.”

          And then I woke up. Ah, well—it was a nice dream. Maybe someday, in real life.

          You change the subject or don’t reply to comments when things get a little too hot to handle. If you want to actually discuss these issues like an adult, that’d be great. You bring a perspective that few of the regulars here have. But if your goal is to slip (or slink) away from actual engagement, we don’t have any use for you, and you’re a waste of time.

          Bob, you are the one trying to convince the Christian and Jewish communities that we have God all wrong and you have Him right.

          I take the OT god at face value and evaluate him against modern ethical standards. He fails. He’s a bastard.

          If you want to talk about something else—how you can see this guy in a positive light—then don’t engage in this conversation. I’m saying (yet again) that your argument to nonbelievers fails.

          Ball’s in your court.

          Your opinion of their account of their relationship with God and the God with whom they had a relationship with (and their posterity still does) is meaningless and irrelevant.

          Translated: “I agree with you that the argument that Yahweh is a benevolent father figure is ludicrous when seen from an outsider’s viewpoint.” OK, Cody, I’m glad we agree. Why didn’t you make that clearer earlier?

          How do you claim to know that God (who according to you, does not exist) condones slavery?

          Embarrassing, isn’t it, to come to the atheist to properly understand the Bible? Seriously, this question is a new one and you haven’t seen atheists answer this one a dozen times?

          Lev. 25 begins, “The LORD said to Moses at Mount Sinai.” Let’s see what God says: in 25:44-46, he makes clear the rules for slavery for non-Israelites.

          Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Thus endeth the reading for today.

        • CodyGirl824

          Of course, you realize that the ancient Hebrews interpreted God regarding “slavery” in many contradictory ways. Let’s start with whether or not Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus would agree with you that the God of the Hebrews “endorsed” slavery. And then there is the 10th Commandment where the Hebrews were told not even to want to have slaves even if their neighbors did. And what about the sabbatical year, when all slaves were to be freed, and the Jubilee year when all the wealth in Hebrew society was to be redistributed. The picture is not so very clear, especially when one considers the fact that in many cases, the Hebrew word translated into English as slave also translates as “worker.” “Slavery” in Hebrew society was a form of servitude that was not necessarily involuntary.

          I know that you will see this as my just defending God, but the fact is that I too am puzzled as to why the ancient Hebrews interpreted God as permitting slavery after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt. I find the analysis of this difficult question from Tom Gilson’s book “True Reason” and Paul Copan’s book to be very enlightening. But I also am puzzled by atheists’ take on slavery that has been placing God on the side of Pharaoh and the Confederacy in the Civil War: I guess this is just more of those “modern sensibilities” and “modern ethical standards” that atheists claim as their own.

        • Kodie

          the fact is that I too am puzzled as to why the ancient Hebrews
          interpreted God as permitting slavery after God brought them out of
          slavery in Egypt.

          Because it’s only wrong when you’re the victim. The whole book being written from a perspective where they consider themselves “chosen” makes everyone else not chosen. The non-chosen people are not allowed to victimize the chosen and all consequences dealt them by the victims is justifiable genocide and infanticide, according to you. If the Jews want to be in a position of power, abusing that power is also justified and their victims deserve whatever the Jews have for them, again, according to you. You’re only puzzled because you have no moral compass to tell you if something is wrong it’s always wrong and never justified, no matter who does it. If Mother Teresa is a saint resting comfortably in the good afterlife, and Christopher Hitchens is punished to hell for criticizing her poor morals, that would be an example of you giving Mother Teresa a position above criticism due to her having faith, instead of judging people when they actually do something bad, especially when they are massively portrayed as selfless do-gooder.

          I put this in a diagram – circles always do the right thing and triangles always do the wrong thing. So Mother Teresa thinks she’s a circle and makes a big show about what a circle she is. But she’s obviously a triangle. It doesn’t matter what she says she is – when she does the wrong thing, she’s still a triangle. You don’t get that. She possesses all the righteousness of a circle to you and you are “puzzled” that anyone could call her a triangle. She has 3 sides, 3 angles, the definition of a triangle. You say but she’s exempt from being measured because she believes like a circle. To you, belief makes someone a circle or a triangle, because circles have an “understanding” with their deity, and what they do with that status can’t make them a triangle, no matter how awful it is. No moral compass, you.

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

          Of course, you realize that the ancient Hebrews interpreted God regarding “slavery” in many contradictory ways.

          I see no contradiction. (You ought to reach out to atheist more often. Maybe our view is easier to understand.)

          I gave you three verses. There’s no contradiction, though there may be some facts there that make your position uncomfortable.

          Let’s start with whether or not Pharaoh from the Book of Exodus would agree with you that the God of the Hebrews “endorsed” slavery.

          Off topic.

          And then there is the 10th Commandment where the Hebrews were told not even to want to have slaves even if their neighbors did.

          Read it again. They can’t covet—that’s it.

          And what about the sabbatical year, when all slaves were to be freed, and the Jubilee year when all the wealth in Hebrew society was to be redistributed.

          Applies to Jewish slaves. That doesn’t help the poor bastards referred to in the verses I gave you since they aren’t Israelites!

          “Slavery” in Hebrew society was a form of servitude that was not necessarily involuntary .

          Do you feel a pang of conscience when you tap dance around the issue? God is so fragile that you must apologize for him? He can’t stand up for himself?

          Within Israelite society, they had what we’d call indentured servitude. Didn’t apply to outsiders. Wait—didn’t I give you three verses last time that made this clear?

          the fact is that I too am puzzled as to why the ancient Hebrews interpreted God as permitting slavery after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt.

          What’s puzzling? Slavery is terrible when it’s applied to us; it’s a nice practice when applied to another tribe. Sounds easy to me. Not moral, but easy.

          The OT doesn’t share modern morality. Keep that in mind, and it makes more sense. They’re just a people from a different time and place.

          I find the analysis of this difficult question from Tom Gilson’s book “True Reason” and Paul Copan’s book to be very enlightening.

          Was either book subtitled Tap Dancing for the Lord?

          That they have to apologize for God is telling that they understand that there’s a disconnect between what we feel is true and the nutty customs God endorses in the Bible.

          But I also am puzzled by atheists’ take on slavery that has been placing God on the side of Pharaoh and the Confederacy in the Civil War:

          I’m not following. Who says that God was on the side of Pharaoh? As for the Confederacy, yes, the Bible gives beaucoup support for slavery, and Southern pastors and politicians used that fact to their advantage.

        • Pofarmer

          Wasn’t the KKK mainly Baptist?

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

          I didn’t see that in the Wikipedia article. Maybe in practice they were, since they came from Baptist strongholds.

          Nathan Bedford Forrest (who Forrest Gump was named after) was a Confederate cavalry general who was a founder of the KKK, but it’s had several incarnations.

        • wtfwjtd

          I once read somewhere that NBF was the KKK’s first grand wizard, but later quit in disgust as the KKK had become too violent for him (just ponder that one for a minute).

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          You say this: “What’s puzzling? Slavery is terrible when it’s applied to us; it’s a nice practice when applied to another tribe. Sounds easy to me. Not moral, but easy.” Isn’t this exactly what the Hebrews say in the passage from Leviticus say? Your claim is that God “endorses” this interpretation and that God’s will for all humankind is that some tribes be allowed to hold slaves while other tribes are not prohibited from owning slaves or can only own foreigners as slaves.

          Yes, there is controversy around these issues in the OT. No doubt about it. We owe a debt of gratitude to atheists for enlarging the discussion of controversial and challenging parts of the Bible, something that Jewish rabbis and Christian theologians and scholars have been doing for thousands of years. None of this is new. See the many volumes of the Talmud, for example.

          I’ve got to hand it to atheists. They/you read the OT in search of a God that doesn’t exist, and lo and behold, you find one!

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

          Isn’t this exactly what the Hebrews say in the passage from Leviticus say?

          Right.

          Your claim is that God “endorses” this interpretation

          No, I’m saying that the passage from Leviticus came from the very lips of God himself.

          God’s will for all humankind …

          Leviticus only applied to the Israelites.

          Yes, there is controversy around these issues in the OT. No doubt about it.

          It’s as controversial as “What is 1 + 1?” Don’t think that the plain reading is confusing. You make it confusing because the plain reading is uncomfortable.

          None of this is new.

          Why then do I have to school you in the basics of slavery, OT style?

          I’ve got to hand it to atheists. They/you read the OT in search of a God that doesn’t exist, and lo and behold, you find one!

          You’re saying that the slavery-loving God of Leviticus doesn’t exist? I dunno—does that make you a liar or illiterate?

        • CodyGirl824

          But God doesn’t “love slavery” when Pharaoh practices it. He sends plagues and the Angel of Death to convince Pharaoh to free the Hebrews from slavery.

          Here is an apropos article by Eric Anderson titled “No one knows the mind of God, except the committed atheist.” dated April 27, 2014.

          http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/no-one-knows-the-mind-of-god-except-the-committed-atheist/

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

          How does this address the concerns I raised? Confront them directly. Yahweh is A-OK with slavery and even gives the rules for the specifics of doing it right (to make sure no one bungles it).

          Is any of this new to you? If so, what is your view of God’s position with respect to slavery now?

        • CodyGirl824

          My view of God’s “position” on slavery? I apply Jesus’ criterion set out in Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher,
          which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus
          replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

          Love for my neighbor is incompatible with a desire to enslave him/her or an act of enslavement. I know that this is God’s will, as Jesus teaches me about our Heavenly Father, because I do not want to be enslaved myself.

          Either God changed His mind about slavery or our understanding of God’s law has evolved. I happen to believe that it is the latter: Our understanding of God has evolved, Bob. You most certainly view slavery differently than the ancient Hebrews did, applying your “modern sensibilities” and your “modern ethical standards.” So do I.

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

          My view of God’s “position” on slavery? I apply Jesus’ criterion

          Ah, so you find something that you know is barbaric, and then you search until you find a way to interpret the Bible so that you can wave that problem away. And repeat.

          You don’t suppose that the initial revulsion is actually the correct response? And that your desire to cover up that embarrassing passage reveals the truth, that you know that that stuff is just wrong?

          Love for my neighbor is incompatible with a desire to enslave him/her or an act of enslavement.

          Makes things tough. Lev. 25 makes clear God’s commands for slavery. You don’t like it, so you’re flailing around to find some other passage to cover up the bits you don’t like.

          God is a drunk wearing nothing but a raincoat, and as he weaves about inadvertently flashing people, you’ve got a newspaper to cover up the ugly bits. If I were you, I’d find another hobby. Let this dude answer for himself.

          I know that this is God’s will

          God’s will is clear in Lev. 25. Come back and address the issue.

          Either God changed His mind about slavery or our understanding of God’s law has evolved. I happen to believe that it is the latter:

          Our morality, unhooked from the Bible, does indeed soar. Conclusion: the Bible has Iron Age beliefs and morality. Drop it. It’s out of date and holds you back.

          You most certainly view slavery differently than the ancient Hebrews did, applying your “modern sensibilities” and your “modern ethical standards.” So do I.

          Then admit to me that the god who dictated Lev. 25 is a bastard.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob, God did not “dictate Lev. 25″ and God’s will is regarding slavery is not clear from a single passage, which articulates the law regarding slavery that the Hebrews espoused based on their interpretation of God’s will. The God of the ancient Hebrews is the one, only and same God as the one whose divine will Abraham Lincoln enacted in sighing the Emancipation Proclamation and that MLK marched for in Selma. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” God’s kingdom had not yet come when Leviticus was written and it hasn’t come yet.

          I see that you espouse the Divine Dictation theory regarding the Word of God. This is not what revelation means and to sustain your case for the clarity of God’s will in Leviticus, you must believe that all revelation ceased at that point in time. Bible literalism is not the atheist’s friend.

          Allow me to also make clear that the value to me of the OT is that I learn from it about the relationship between God and the ancient Hebrews and how they shaped their society, their laws and their lives in response to their knowledge of and experiences with and love for God. We moderns today are perfectly capable of sorting out the moral message (often learned through counter-examples) without discarding the wisdom and beauty of the Bible. Given your opinion of the Bible, I most certainly understand why you personally don’t find any reason to accept its teachings. But frankly, your opinion isn’t worth much since you are an atheist literalist.

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

          Bob, God did not “dictate Lev. 25″

          This is a waste of time, isn’t it? I’ll just make a point and lay out the evidence for it, and then you just deny it or ignore it. If that’s your MO, let’s just get that on the table and I’ll ignore you. Or do you really want to sit at the adults’ table?

          The chapter begins, “The Lord said to Moses….” Yes, God dictated Lev. 25.

          God’s will is regarding slavery is not clear from a single passage

          Wow—how confusing is this guy? He says quite clearly that you can make slaves for life of the people of surrounding tribes. Sounds pretty clear to me.

          So what’s the deal here? Is the Bible written in code? Is it just inherently ambiguous? Or contradictory? If the Bible’s clear statement is wrong, I don’t know what good it is.

          Bible literalism is not the atheist’s friend.

          But making the Bible dance like a puppet with you mouthing the words is the Christians’ friend?

          (Kidding! That was a rhetorical question. The answer, of course, is that yes it is.)

          We moderns today are perfectly capable of sorting out the moral message (often learned through counter-examples) without discarding the wisdom and beauty of the Bible.

          So the Bible is merely literature? OK, but then why actually believe the fanciful tales? If these guys aren’t able to give proper morality, why believe that they’re giving you a proper view of the supernatural?

          your opinion isn’t worth much since you are an atheist literalist.

          But your Bible puppet’s proclamations are, by contrast, worth listening to?

        • CodyGirl824

          You are certainly free to discontinue the conversation at any point. Since it’s your blog, you can even delete my comments. If that’s what you think is appropriate, go ahead.

          Did you read that article by Eric Anderson that I sent the URL for? It clearly lays out the problem we people of faith and atheists have in conversing about the Bible. Anderson says this:

          “Thus, the atheist rejection of God, based on the cruelties in the Old Testament, or the many challenges and difficulties of life generally, is, in addition to its logical flaws, a move based on a very limited survey of the evidence, a move based on a failure to consider the broader picture, a move based on a myopic blindness to many of the facts, rather than (as the atheist smugly pats himself on the back and loudly proclaims) an objective analysis of all the evidence. …The committed atheist is convinced he knows the mind of God. The believer acknowledges he doesn’t, at least not fully, not yet today. The committed atheist thinks he has already arrived at the pinnacle of knowledge about God. The believer realizes he has not, but trusts that in submitting his will to the Divine he can, one day, come to truly know God.”

          http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/no-one-knows-the-mind-of-god-except-the-committed-atheist/

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

          I spent a fair amount of time composing a clear response in my last comment, showing the problems and the points that need addressing. You ignore all that and give me an Eric Anderson quote that does a good job insulting atheists (“logical flaws,” “limited,” “failure,” “blindness,” “smugly”) but, like your own comments, doesn’t make clear what the problem is.

          My interest at the moment is solely in seeing you respond to, rather than dodge, the slavery question. If we make any progress there, perhaps we’ll have grounds to continue with other topics.

          Ball’s in your court.

        • Pofarmer

          if that eric anderson quote is the level of apologetics Jenna is at’ there’s really not much point. When you mud wrestle a pig, you both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it. I just can’t believe the total vaccuousness of the “argument”.

        • wtfwjtd

          That, of course, is the whole point–when your side’s got nothing, try and change the subject and attack the messenger.

        • Kodie

          Like many theists, Jenna Black holds to the idea that atheists are arguing against the wrong understanding of god and if we would only understand god, we would not be so misunderstanding of god. If she is going to hold up any “understanding” of god in the OT, as in, the Jews knew a real god and understood him very poorly, her basis of knowledge is still the same superstitious guesswork any god is conjured from: tingly sensations. Improved luck in some fashion tends to make people think someone is looking out for them. It’s true she has no morals at all if she has to sort through ancient Jews to get a real “understanding”. She has no intentions of understanding any other group of people and how they define a deity so she can reject them – she easily just rejects them. I easily reject her claims as well. If she cannot demonstrate a method to determine which claim is correct, then hers is as bullshit as all of them. No OT rejection needed.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          Thanks for placing the ball in my court. As a result of our
          conversation, yesterday I spent a few hours rereading Paul Copan’s (2011) book, “Is God a moral monster? Making sense of the Old Testament God.” I also reread
          the chapter in Tom Gilson and Carson Weitnauer (Eds.) (2013) “True Reason: Confronting the irrationality of the New Atheism” by Glenn Sunshine titled “Christianity and slavery.” Both these books were written and published in response to questions raised by “New Atheism” so they are evidence of the willingness and discipline of Christian scholars to respond to questions and concerns like yours. Since I am not a Bible scholar or an academic theologian, I do research using such sources on topics that come up that capture my interest in my dialogue with atheists.

          As for the issues you raise regarding slavery based on
          Leviticus 25, I recommend that you read Copan, p. 124-134 and most particularly beginning at the section titled Foreign Slaves, p.140-149. I’ll make just a few points about Copan’s scholarly analysis, assuming that you will either read it yourself, or you won’t, but either way, his thorough view of biblical “slavery” does not support your “Moral Monster God” conclusion. On p. 125, Copan says “A mistake critics make is associating ‘servanthood’ in the OT with antebellum (prewar) ‘slavery’ in the South…” On p. 140-141, Copan discusses the quotation from Leviticus 25 that you provided, only he includes verses 42-49 that describe the “redemption right” of a stranger [ger] or sojourner [toshab] where a family member or he himself could buy his freedom. Certainly you must agree that this “redemption right” was not available to black slaves in the prebellum South. Copan explains that “…[F]or poor foreigners wanting to live in Israel, voluntary servitude was pretty much the only option.” Copan goes on to do a thorough analysis of what Leviticus 25 and other related passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy say “foreigners” in Israel under Mosaic law and who these “foreigners” were in terms of their presence in and integration into Hebrew
          society.

          I provide these citations to illustrate that there is much
          more nuance and complexity to understanding
          Leviticus 25 when we consider the entire passage and the whole context of servanthood (servitude), which Copan describes as “commonly a starvation-prevention measure” in ancient Israel. Copan points out how
          frequently God admonishes the Israelites to remember their own servitude under Pharaoh in Egypt in how they treat the poor and foreigners. On p. 149, Copan
          argues that the theology of the Scriptures is that “…any deviations from the ideal moral standards of human equality and dignity set down at creation are the result of human hard-heartedness. Over and over, we’re reminded of Israel’s superior legislation in contrast to the rest of the ancient Near East.”

          So, how do the words of Leviticus 25, which you claim came directly “from the lips of God” provide evidence that God is a moral monster? Or do you espouse Kodie’s theory that the ancient Hebrews were themselves the moral monsters and simply wrote into the Torah whatever they wanted to do, with God’s commandments as a justification, a sort of “We were just following orders” defense.

          I take the time to give you this analysis in part to affirm
          that atheists’ questions and concerns about the OT have not been ignored or dismissed by Christian theologians and Bible scholars. Rather, as I stated before, our ecumenical dialogue has produced much fruitful study and research. My hope is that atheists, being the open-minded and intelligent people that you claim you are, will not cling to pat, dogmatic judgments and facile conclusions about God and His relationship with the ancient Hebrews as they transmit it to their posterity and to us in modern times. Rather, that you will investigate these issues for yourselves and be willing to look at the OT through a more nuanced and certainly more open-minded and charitable lens.

        • Kodie

          only he includes verses 42-49 that describe
          the “redemption right” of a stranger [ger] or sojourner [toshab] where a family member or he himself could buy his freedom.

          I thought freedom was an inalienable right bestowed self-evidently by the creator??

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, but not always upheld by humans. Look how long it took the USA to abolish slavery after its founding, despite the assertion of God-endowed unalienable rights in the DOI. Does this mean that you finally concede that the Declaration of Independence makes a theistic moral argument? And please keep the language and argument straight: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” The “we” referred to here are the American colonists.

        • Kodie

          Through your explanations, you basically admit that god is not understood by humans at all but constantly invoked to uphold personal or cultural beliefs and customs.

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

          You’re asking for a concession? You first. Show us how it’s done. Start by closing that conversation on “chronological snobbery.”

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob,

          You have given me so many wonderful examples of chronological snobbery in our discussion of “slavery” in the OT and your moral condemnation of God, I would hardly know where to restart the conversation.

        • Kodie

          Don’t cop out again, Jenna!

        • CodyGirl824

          So, if you think the discussion of chronological snobbery is worth restarting, could you please recommend a starting point? I felt that we had exhausted the subject.

        • Kodie

          The part where you misused the term because you think we’re being unfair to those poor uninformed unprogressed Hebrews just doing their best to make their way in the ancient world without knowledge that we have now.

          Start there.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          For starters, FYI, here is a webpage about the origins of the term “chronological snobbery” from C.S. Lewis, who coined the term:

          http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/47

          In what sense do you think that I have misused the term? Please note that this is your description of the ancient Hebrews, not mine: Kodie: “…those poor uninformed unprogressed Hebrews…” I strongly disagree with this/your depiction of ancient Israeli society.

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

          And you wonder why people go ballistic with you sometimes.

          You made a mistake in the definition of a term that you introduced. We rub your face in it, and you want to just hit the Reset button and go back to the beginning, not an iota wiser.

          You’ve got a lot more time to waste than I do.

        • Kodie

          Because you’re using it in place of having a valid argument. I don’t think I have chronological snobbery because Christians today make the same puppet out of god that the ancient Hebrews did. It is an ageless tactic of the dominant culture. C.S. Lewis and you are using it to defend people from another culture for having an entirely different set of morals than we do, which need not have a theological explanation where a natural one will do.

        • MNb

          Yeah? Do you mean those Hebrews were well informed on scientific subjects? Like on the correct value of pi?

        • CodyGirl824

          As I have stated several times before, the Hebrews’ level of knowledge of scientific subjects is irrelevant to this conversation, which is about their knowledge of/about God.

        • Kodie

          You’re assuming over and over they had knowledge of an actual god. Apparently “knowledge” of this character is ethereal and alters to suit the person with this “knowledge.” Why would their knowledge differ from yours?

        • CodyGirl824

          No matter what you believe, Kodie, the ancient Hebrews had knowledge of an actual god, the one they called God by many different names.

        • Kodie

          Prove it. All we have is a story written by them, so it’s biased and mythical. ALL CULTURES HAVE ORIGIN MYTHS. All cultures are tribal and prefer themselves over a stranger’s laws and not the least bit sympathetic for them. Let’s hear your method for determining which myths are myths, how you know they are not about knowledge of a real god. You can’t, because you’re biased. At least atheists can study these stories and recognize them neutrally as myths. Not a single one makes sense. If yours makes sense, all of them do, but you don’t tell us why yours is true and another is false. You guessed, your arguments are emotional and not logical, as if you aren’t reading the same thing we are.

        • MNb

          Well, given your arguments about slavery in the Bible the Hebrew’s level of knowledge of/about their god wasn’t any better.
          Not to mention, as I have stated before and you prefer to neglect as always when you don’t like something, that the Hebrew’s knowledge of scientific subjects was inseparable of their delusional views on their god.
          You don’t make sense.
          As expected.

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

          A quick wrapup of the topic would be the one I suggested earlier: “Wow–I sure missed the boat on my misuse of ‘chronological snobbery.’ Thanks for the correction. I’ll use it correctly in the future.”

          But feel free use your own words.

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

          So you still don’t understand “chronological snobbery” then? I think the Wikipedia page gave a good description.

          But in short, no, you have no apologies to make because you’ve made no error here. Ah, gotcha.

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

          they are evidence of the willingness and discipline of Christian scholars to respond to questions and concerns like yours.

          I see them as a necessary response to the obvious problems within Christianity rather than an eagerness to consider all possibilities.

          On p. 125, Copan says “A mistake critics make is associating ‘servanthood’ in the OT with antebellum (prewar) ‘slavery’ in the South…”

          You’re saying that Israelite slavery was different than slavery in the South. Yes, I get that. And I didn’t make that comparison. Don’t change the subject.

          On p. 140-141, Copan discusses the quotation from Leviticus 25 that you provided, only he includes verses 42-49 that describe the “redemption right” of a stranger [ger] or sojourner [toshab] where a family member or he himself could buy his freedom.

          Copan ignores the plain reading of the text, where there are slaves from fellow Israelites, slaves from sojourners (“guest workers” you might say), and slaves from outside Israel. The third category is the interesting one.

          Certainly you must agree that this “redemption right” was not available to black slaves in the prebellum South.

          I certainly do not. Slaves who were able to make money could and did buy their freedom in the South.

          I provide these citations to illustrate that there is much more nuance and complexity to understanding Leviticus 25 when we consider the entire passage

          Search “slave” in this blog and see how many posts I’ve written that discuss it. Thanks, but I’ve done a fair amount of study on this subject.

          The fact remains: Lev. 25:44-46 make clear that slavery for life (y’know, the kind we know and love from America’s past) was something the Israelites did and which God gave them the rules for. That puts God in an unfavorable light.

          Copan points out how frequently God admonishes the Israelites to remember their own servitude under Pharaoh in Egypt in how they treat the poor and foreigners.

          This discusses poor Israelites and the foreigners on Israelite soil (guest workers). As for the slaves taken from other tribes? Sux to be them. But luckily, God gives other regulations for how much you can beat them. Sweet!

          “…any deviations from the ideal moral standards of human equality and dignity set down at creation are the result of human hard-heartedness. Over and over, we’re reminded of Israel’s superior legislation in contrast to the rest of the ancient Near East.”

          I compare Israel’s morality against perfection (God guided them, remember?), and it doesn’t hold up. “Well, they were a bit better than their neighbors” doesn’t cut it.

          So, how do the words of Leviticus 25, which you claim came directly “from the lips of God” provide evidence that God is a moral monster?

          If I have to explain how forced servitude for life is a moral problem, then Christianity has screwed with you so that you’re beyond redemption. You do see how this makes you look, right? You see how apologizing for this Iron Age nutjob has messed up your sense of morality, right?

          Or do you espouse Kodie’s theory that the ancient Hebrews were themselves the moral monsters and simply wrote into the Torah whatever they wanted to do, with God’s commandments as a justification, a sort of “We were just following orders” defense.

          Pretty much. Kodie spanks Copan in this department.

          I take the time to give you this analysis in part to affirm that atheists’ questions and concerns about the OT have not been ignored or dismissed by Christian theologians and Bible scholars.

          Theologians come at this with an agenda, to show how the Bible is OK. You can’t be surprised that I am outraged at that bias.

          When Copan writes a book and doesn’t properly address the elephant in the room, I have no respect for his authority as a scholar.

          Rather, as I stated before, our ecumenical dialogue has produced much fruitful study and research.

          Yeah, to support your preconceptions.

          My hope is that atheists, being the open-minded and intelligent people that you claim you are, will not cling to pat, dogmatic judgments and facile conclusions about God and His relationship with the ancient Hebrews

          Look in a mirror and read this to yourself.

        • CodyGirl824

          A couple of points: 1) Where is your evidence form the OT that the servitude of “foreigners” was involuntary or, as you say “forced servitude for life”? Copan describes it as a means of assuring non-Hebrews’ cultural and religious integration into Israeli society and to prevent poverty-stricken “strangers” or “sojourners” from rebelling or disrupting the Hebrews’ purpose in obeying God.This system appears to have been instituted to fulfill two functions: stabilize Hebrews’ civic life and keep the “foreigners” from poverty and starvation. Neither one seems to be incompatible with God’s covenant with the Hebrews.

          2) The ecumenical dialogue I referred to is the global and public conversation between atheists and people of faith, not just yours and mine here on your website.

          3) Theologians come at research on the Bible with the agenda of understanding what the text says about God based on its authors’ understanding of/about God. Why should this “agenda” outrage you? That’s what theology is. I doubt that theologians believe that in their pursuit of theological knowledge they have to make God “right.”

          4) Oh, and one other point. You declare this: “I compare Israel’s morality against perfection (God guided them, remember?)” This sounds very much like an objective moral standard to me, which, if I recall correctly, you argue doesn’t exist.

        • JohnH2

          I would have thought the killing of all men and the enslavement of the women by the Israelites of conquered peoples would be extremely strong evidence that the women were being involuntarily pressed into servitude. I don’t consider the choice between servitude or death to be a serious choice, so am interested in how your first point has any relation at all to what is recorded in the Bible.

        • CodyGirl824

          Paul Copan has a very interesting discussion of this point in his book as well. He says that the women from conquered groups were generally integrated into Israeli society as wives. I’ll look for page numbers if you have a copy of the book you’d like to reference.

        • JohnH2

          Yes, I very much agree that they were usually integrated as wives. I completely fail to see how that makes it any better, unless you think boko haram’s kidnapping and “marriages” to the girls are legitimate marriages done of the free will and choice of the girls.

        • CodyGirl824

          Better than what? Are you judging the society of the ancient Hebrews against “modern sensibilities” and “modern ethical standards” or “perfection” like Bob S.? I’m not. I’m simply reporting what knowledgeable biblical scholars say about how things were then, not how things ought to be nor am I speculating on how things ought to have been. To do so would be chronological snobbery.

        • JohnH2

          better than your first point above, it contradicts your first point and is worse than it. I don’t really have a problem with indentured servitude in the past as we do the same thing today by other means and names and no one really seems to have huge problems with it; full on slavery is wrong but also understandable, so I am not judging based on modern sensibilities or perfection, but am merely pointing out that your first point is contrary to the record.

        • Kodie

          If they had any understanding of a god giving objective morality, there wouldn’t be any such thing as modern sensibilities that are any different than ancient sensibilities. I am more than willing to excuse ancient sensibilities if we can get rid of the idea of objective morality and god. Because these two concepts contradict each other and do nothing to establish your argument.

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

          When you judge God’s rules of slavery against your own standards, what do you come up with? you’re OK with that structure? You think it would be reasonable today? If not, why not?

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

          Wow–great example. Thanks.

        • Kodie

          It’s really funny that you can’t read words and you have to consult a theologian to come up with a response. “He says that women were integrated into society as wives,” isn’t that fucking dandy? Wives are property. Wives in this context are always property.

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

          “integrated into Israeli society as wives”? Wow–that’s quite a euphemism.

          Women are taken as slaves, sex slaves, and sometimes wives (after their men are all killed), but count on you to put a happy face on it!

        • CodyGirl824

          Sex slaves? Where is your evidence of this? From my reading and study of the OT, I find no evidence that God’s commandment against adultery and the sexual mores and values of Hebrew law and society were suspended in the case of women who were from conquered tribes. This would be in violation of the Law of Moses, a case of “human hard-heartedness” as Paul Copan frames it. I am not impressed with your level of knowledge of the OT but see, rather, a pursuit of your anti-God agenda in these comments. But then, of course, as I said before, it’s your website.

        • MNb

          Numbers 31:7-28
          Judges 21:10-24.
          Or are you going to argue that those surviving virgins were so happy to see their relatives slaughtered that after been politely asked by the victorious Chosen Ones they voluntarily spread their legs for them?

        • CodyGirl824

          I asked for evidence that these women were used as “sex slaves”, which is what Bob argued. Again, I point out that to have treated these captives as “sex slaves” would have been a violation of the Law of Moses. Evidence, please, evidence!

        • JohnH2

          I really think we need to focus on Boko Haram and their kidnapping and “marriage” and rape of the girls in Nigeria. Reportedly God told them to do that and marriage was involved as clearly adultery and unmarried rape are violations of Islam while kidnapping and raping someone after you have married them isn’t a violation of Islam.

          If you can’t see the parallel and can’t respond with something outside the lines of ‘but God actually did tell the Israelites to do that exact thing then you have ceded the discussion because for anyone that is able to see those parallels your very statements make the opposite point and demonstrate that you do not believe in objective morality, but rather in the most subjective type possible.

          There isn’t even a Pyrrhic victory that you can win, I don’t know if there is a word to describe a defeat where one destroys oneself by oneself, but that is what you are doing.

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

          I don’t know if there is a word to describe a defeat where one destroys oneself by oneself

          … and then doesn’t even understand that they’ve done it.

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

          Evidence, please, evidence!

          And then we provide evidence. And then you pretend we didn’t.

          You talk a good game until you need to back up your claims. Then things fall apart.

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

          Sex slaves? Where is your evidence of this?

          You must be new at this. Haven’t interacted with atheists much?

          “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” (Num. 31:17–18; see also Deut. 21:11)

          I am not impressed with your level of knowledge of the OT

          Wow. I’m something of a beginner with Bible knowledge, but you’ve given us zero confidence in your knowledge.

          Or did you mean by this simply that you don’t like my interpretations? In that case, you simply have to show where they’re wrong. I’ve seen shock and bluster from your side but no corrections or even interesting new insights so far.

        • CodyGirl824

          I see. You take “save for yourselves” to mean sex slavery? How so? Again, the point is for you to provide evidence that this “order” was God telling the Hebrews to suspend and violate the Law of Moses. These 3 words don’t provide evidence to support that argument.

          I mention your level of knowledge of the OT because for someone who has reached such a sweeping conclusion about God’s moral character based on your understanding of what you read, you don’t seem to have strong text-based arguments and you’ve expressed a no-confidence vote in biblical scholars’ analysis.

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

          Let me know when you’d actually like to engage in discussion and to consider new ideas honestly. I have no use for games and tired old arguments.

        • Kodie

          I see. You take “save for yourselves” to mean sex slavery? How so?
          Again, the point is for you to provide evidence that this “order” was
          God telling the Hebrews to suspend and violate the Law of Moses.

          I am curious now to learn exactly what you perceive is meant by

          “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man,
          but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

          What exactly do you think they mean to do with the girls? Is it “thank you for killing everyone I know and sparing me, I owe my life to you, I will marry you!”

        • CodyGirl824

          As I pointed out to Bob earlier, you are taking 3 words “take for yourselves” to mean that God commanded the Hebrews to violate the Law of Moses and the norms of Hebrew culture and religion in regard to treatment of these girls. They may have, for all we can glean from the text, but this is not evidence that God commanded “sex slavery.” See for example, Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

        • Kodie

          Hebrews to violate the Law of Moses and the norms of Hebrew culture and religion in regard to treatment of these girls.

          Which are?

          10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

          What do you think this means?

        • Kodie

          18 “If a
          man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his
          father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him,
          will not listen to them, 19 then
          his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to
          the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and
          they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and
          rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a
          drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

          What do you think this means?

        • Kodie

          3 – Theologians come at “research” on the bible to distort the language and make excuses to convince believers that what was done was not only necessary but righteous. I.e. “spin”.

          4 – I would just compare Israel’s morality with anything consistent. If you are claiming objective morality, I would expect it to be consistent. What is right is right and what is wrong is always wrong, no matter who does it. Your morality, which is askew, due to referring to theologians and buying their bullshit revisionism, gives permission to the Jews to commit immoral acts because it’s ok when Jews do it, but not ok when it’s done to Jews. We could expect any objective morality and any understanding of god throughout time to maintain to that objectivity, a common sense of what is right and what is wrong, no matter who does it. Your theologians can’t make that magically appear in the text, so they have to distort it. God is a puppet that justifies the protagonists’ efforts against whoever they decide are their enemies for whatever reason they judge their enemies to deserve it. Hitler used that reasoning. Hitler was defending his country against people he decided weren’t pure enough to live there. We don’t ask modern Jews to help us process the information because, for obvious reasons, they wouldn’t want to make that connection.

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

          1) Where is your evidence form the OT that the servitude of “foreigners” was involuntary

          Three categories of slaves, remember? We’re only talking about the category in Lev. 25:44-46—slaves “from the nations around you.”

          If your point is that many of the slaves for life were delighted with their situation and wouldn’t leave even if given the chance, sure, that’s possible. I can’t imagine anyone (but perhaps you) advancing that suggestion. But that doesn’t get us away from the unpleasant fact that God’s dictates are the same conditions as were in the South.

          3) Theologians come at research on the Bible with the agenda of understanding what the text says about God based on its authors’ understanding of/about God. Why should this “agenda” outrage you?

          I come at this with an open mind. Maybe it’s right and maybe it’s not. Coming at this, not as a scholar, but as a closed-minded believer isn’t scholarship.

          That’s what theology is.

          Ouch. OK, perhaps you’re right!

          This sounds very much like an objective moral standard to me, which, if I recall correctly, you argue doesn’t exist.

          I guess your interpretation is wrong then.

        • CodyGirl824

          There you go again with the “God dictates” fallacy. There are 613 laws in the Torah. Do you think that God, out of His “own lips” (anthropomorphism) “dictated” every one of these to the Hebrews? You were actually getting closer to understanding the reality with your “perfection” comment. God is perfect. All 613 laws in the Torah are not. They are the ancient Hebrews’ best approximation to enact into laws in their society what they understood to be pleasing to God and to conform with God’s will in order to uphold their end of the Covenant. In any case “God’s dictates” as articulated in the Mosaic law, are not the same as with slavery in the antebellum South. Again, are you claiming that the Confederacy had God on its side?

        • Kodie

          “Best approximation” and “what they understood to be pleasing to god” means guessing, stabs in the dark, personal or cultural preferences, and superstition. Nobody knows what god wants because there is no god, but he’s on your side if you declare that he is – whatever you want is what god wants. Same with the Confederacy as the Hebrews in the Torah. What do you want? Why do you think god is on your side? Where does your approximation come from?

          It comes from making random attributions to god via whatever feels like it to you, in other words, your powerfully vivid imagination creates a fantasy figure that agrees with you. That’s why there are so many conflicting ways to call oneself a Christian.

        • MNb

          “All 613 laws in the Torah are not.”
          Good. I apply the same logic to the New Testament. How did you phrase it again?

          “They are the proto-christians’ best approximation to enact into laws in their communities what they understood to be pleasing to Jesus and to conform with God’s will”
          Highest time to move on. The entire Bible is badly outdated, just like Aristoteles’ ethics.

          “are you claiming that the Confederacy had God on its side?”
          What we claim doesn’t matter – for us atheists this is a meaningless question. What matters is what the Confederates believed – who saw themselves as good christians.

          http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/cwsouth.htm

          Do you know who also thought god was on their side?

          http://www.ww2militaria.biz/de/militaria-fotos.php?categoria=fibbie&nazione=germania

          God apparently didn’t mind as he completely let them go their way between 1941 and 1944 at the Eastern Front. God is a nice, flexible guy – with him you can have it every way you prefer. You’ll always find a theologian to explain how and why, with the Bible in his hand.

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

          I’m sure the Confederates had their theologians as well.
          You should be arguing them iso us atheists. So as always the question becomes again: what’s your infallible method to settle this dispute and why did it take christians like you take so long to get at that point?

        • CodyGirl824

          So, those of you who see yourselves as good atheists? By what criteria or standard are you to be judged? If you call yourselves good atheists but are in fact bad atheists, what standard is it that you fail to live up to? How do we know that you are hypocrites, like we knew the slaves owners from the antebellum South were hypocrites in justifying slavery by quoting the OT?

        • Kodie

          If the situation were reversed for the Jews, would it be good? Morality is not “what’s good for the Jews” any more than what’s good for the Nazis.

          War tends to be like that, though. People choose a team and use god as a tool to motivate their team that they have the righteous cause and the other side is villainous scum that deserves whatever they get. The authors of the OT were Jews who wrote about god’s provisions for his chosen people, assuming, of course, that one’s own team is god’s chosen people – what feels bad to them IS bad. If they are not the victims but the perpetrators, they feel no victimhood. They can justify intolerance of other tribes and create strict laws because they have god’s blessing, they created god to prefer them as people, and to punish anyone who didn’t feel constricted to those laws. As you say, to try to guess what pleases god (in so many words), and then enforce such guesses as “knowledge” to people who are not Jews, by which I mean punish them and treat them like sub-humans, with god’s permission, or god’s mandate, even.

          If you were reading this about any other people, some neutral story that wasn’t from the bible, you might be able to recognize it. But we have not heard from you how you determine other claims of a deity are false.

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

          There you go again with the “God dictates” fallacy.

          Interesting strategy. I take the time to outline a clear argument, and then you just ignore it. You and Wm. Lane Craig ought to get together. You’d be a great tag team.

          For the third time, the chapter begins, “The Lord said to Moses….” Yes, God dictated Lev. 25.

          Hey, do us all a favor. If you want to simply use your comments to give a monologue and have no interest in understanding responses, just make that clear. We’ll just ignore you then. Lots of time saved on both sides. What do you think?

          God is perfect.

          There we go, folks. A clear statement. Case closed.

          In any case “God’s dictates” as articulated in the Mosaic law, are not the same as with slavery in the antebellum South.

          Damn. You just repeat it, and it becomes true?

          Around here, we give evidence of claims. Empty claims get laughed at.

          I’ve made clear that Lev. 25:44-46 show the equivalence. You have no response. I win.

          Again, are you claiming that the Confederacy had God on its side?

          Again? You’ve asked me this before?

        • MNb

          Yeah, if nothing helps the apologist can always poison the well. That’s always better than being honest, like this orthodox-protestant Dutchman:

          http://www.refdag.nl/kerkplein/kerknieuws/ds_van_den_brink_bijbelse_visie_op_slavernij_revolutionair_1_748955

          “Joden mochten dus inderdaad niet-Joodse mensen kopen.”
          “Indeed Jews could buy non-Jewish people.”
          He got criticized by another orthodox-protestant Dutchman for not being radical enough:

          http://www.refdag.nl/opinie/slaven_worden_in_bijbel_wel_degelijk_gezien_als_bezit_1_749593

          “In het Oude Testament worden slaven gezien als mensen, maar ook als het bezit van de eigenaar”
          “In the OT slaves are seen as humans, but also as the possession of the owner.”

          Good job, Cody. In The Netherlands we have conservative christians who are more modern than you, exactly because they read what’s written and try to deal with it. The final sentence looks like written specifically for you:

          “Aan die weerbarstigheid moeten we niet voorbijgaan.”
          “We should not pass by this obstinacy.”
          These people don’t downplay and are not satisfied with your easy answers, a hard challenge doesn’t scare them off like it does to you.

        • Kodie

          For one, I don’t reject god based on the OT. The OT is substantial in its reinforcement of my rejection, but you are a silly silly person, and also use this silliness to justify being a complete asshole.

          Do you know why atheist blogs don’t delete Christian posts and Christian blogs delete atheist posts? Because we make a lot of fucking sense. Your lack of making sense is actually an advantage to atheist blogs to hold up for example. Christian blogs attempt to insulate their horde from sense-making interlopers and delete all their sense-making. See how ignorant and what a piece of shit Jenna Black is? Her posts remain for all to see.

        • MNb

          “Your lack of making sense is actually an advantage”
          Yes. The best anti-christian propaganda doesn’t come from you or me, but from christians like Cody/Jenna themselves.

        • wtfwjtd

          Watching her posts deteriorate to name calling and insults when she can’t waffle away from Bob’s God-slavery endorsement questions, to telling me that it’s OK for her god to slaughter children ’cause now they’re in heaven, is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Yep, it’s all here, in the comments, for anyone to see…

          People like Jenna are a front-and-center reminder to me of why my own god belief eventually left me.

        • hector_jones

          I laughed so hard at her attempt to tell Bob that God wasn’t really a fan of slavery because he freed the Jews from Pharaoh. That’s like arguing that because Hitler spoke out repeatedly against perceived efforts by the Jews to exterminate the Germans that Hitler never supported genocide. Who does she think she’s kidding?

        • MNb

          Herself likely.

        • Pofarmer

          that’s interesting, God seems pretty unambiguous about it in the passages where he tells the Israelites to take slaves, even sex slaves.

        • Kodie

          Either God changed His mind about slavery or our understanding of God’s
          law has evolved. I happen to believe that it is the latter: Our
          understanding of God has evolved, Bob. You most certainly view slavery
          differently than the ancient Hebrews did, applying your “modern
          sensibilities” and your “modern ethical standards.” So do I.

          Oh my god such bullshit. God is just a puppet. The Jews didn’t have an “understanding” of god, they justified what they wanted to do anyway by making a god to agree with them. Apparently your problem stems from a need to associate and attribute random things to god. The wills and wants of a human are pretty strong indeed, and you know this. There is no reason to think Jews had a chronologically snobbish “understanding” of god that we need desperately to forgive because hey what do they know, they’re from backwards times, right? God doesn’t actually show up, he’s defined by people wanting things and effecting them. God is more influential a character, so is often used as a bludgeon and also a shield, i.e. “we’re not slave-holders, we’re merely businessmen.” “GOD” (there I capitalized all 3 letters so we could communicate clearly) condones whatever the Jews want to do. If they used to be slaves and then they fought off their captors violently, with god’s blessing, you call it “evolved understanding” if they themselves consider, if you’re not actually a slave, this is a pretty cool system to get shit done.”

          No empathy in your bible. It’s only Jews understanding god to always prefer whatever Jews want to do to other people.

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

          As for the title of that article, “No one knows the mind of God, except the committed atheist,” that would be true only because the atheist gives the Bible the respect of taking it at face value. I’m amazed that you want to apologize for it. What does it say that you must reinterpret what it so obviously says on its face?

        • CodyGirl824

          I do not apologize for the OT. Why should I? I didn’t write a word of it! And your claim to reading the Bible “at face value” puts you exactly in the same camp as young earth creationists and other Bible literalists, who also miss the whole point of the Bible, despite their belief in God.

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

          I didn’t write a word of it!

          And yet you defend it. Wow.

          You don’t take the Bible at face value? You don’t let it speak plainly? I suspect that it’s not me who has the agenda when reading the Bible.

          (1) You still need to respond to this slavery thing. Tell me that the slavery in the Bible is immoral. Or does God get a pass?

          (2) So I miss the point of the Bible? And what’s that? Give me the algorithm for correctly interpreting the Bible.

        • MNb

          Indeed that’s the point – the god that you claim to exist isn’t to be found in the OT. Some other gods, typical for their place and time, jump out of the paper the OT is written on.

        • MNb

          “I too am puzzled as to why the ancient Hebrews interpreted God as permitting slavery after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt.”
          Too? I am not. All economies during Antiquity were slave based. Who worked in the salt mines along the Dead Sea, you think? A secular interpretation leaves nothing to be puzzled about.
          As for your last remark: I do not claim that atheists are inherently morally superior or something. I claim that I would expect from a god worth this typifying to produce an absolute, everlasting and neverchanging moral code – because perfection. I notice that the Hebrew god failed in this respect some 2500 years ago; that does not imply that anyone has succeeded in the 21st Century.
          Mutatis mutandis this is correct for every single god – or god image if you prefer, hence the conclusion is that there isn’t one and that it’s man made. Once again I’d like to express my wish that my ancestors in the 45th Century will have made as much ethical progress then as mankind has done the last 2500 years, even and especially as I have no idea what such progress would look like. Oh and I’m totally willing to honour judaism and christianity for their contributions in the past. They improved several things given their time and social context. But since at least about 200 years it’s time to move on.

        • Kodie
        • MNb

          “why bother reading the OT in the first place”
          Has your belief system narrowed your mind so much that you can’t think of an answer yourself? Let me ask the same question.

          “why bother studying the Edda in the first place?”
          I tell you a secret. Except those who have developed a passion for Nordic mythology no atheist does. Still not capable of finding an answer? Compare the percentage of the population that takes the OT as a core of their belief system with the percentage that does so with the Edda.
          Got it now? The term in Dutch is something like social relevance. It is confirmed by the amount of christians showing up on this blog defending or apologizing for the OT. Like you. BobS is still eagerly waiting for someone who takes a stance for the Edda like you do for the OT. I hope it doesn’t rob him from his well deserved sleep.

        • CodyGirl824

          But Bob obviously has read the OT, despite the fact that he believes that belief in God is ridiculous. You are missing the point.

        • Pofarmer

          No, you are beyond the understanding the points raised,.

        • MNb

          Very seldomly have the words “but” and “despite” been more displaced than in your comment.
          In no way you contradict anything or even address what I wrote.
          From the thought that belief in god is ridiculous it does not follow in any way that one shouldn’t read the OT (hint: look up non-sequitur).
          You are the one who’s missing the point, plus that your content is irrelevant.
          Your comment makes about as much sense as

          MNb: “1 + 1 = 2 hence 2 – 1 = 1.”
          Cody: “But the colour of leaves is green, despite the fact that at night the Sun doesn’t shine. You’re missing the point.”

          It seems like I’m right suggesting that your belief system narrows your mind.

        • Kodie

          How many religious texts haven’t you read in order to understand what people believe and why they should probably not believe it? The answer is “all of them”.

        • CodyGirl824

          What? I don’t understand what you are getting at.

        • Kodie

          I’m sorry, I really am not trying to confuse you. You have never told us the method by which you reject all religious claims that you don’t believe in. You seem to think yours is the stuff, and that if we just read it in depth and in context with what the ancient Hebrews “understood” (in other words, invented, guessed, or otherwise used to their advantage to scare and/or motivate people) of god, we would have a clear understanding of the gibberish you keep inflicting upon us.

          I was asking whether you deemed any other religious text worthy of such inquiry. I have and others have asked you before. You seem to think it’s not worth your time because you have already settled on a belief system. You don’t care if there are others and what they say, and you don’t need to justify rejection of alternate beliefs but we have to evaluate yours, not just as mere readers, but we have to pretend to be an ancient Hebrew to really really get it. This is why you are befuddled that someone who doesn’t believe in god might read the bible to see what it actually says before they dismiss it.

          You don’t put any work into dismissing other claims. Why should we give yours a look, or why are you surprised when we actually do?

        • Pofarmer

          “I sincerely believe that intelligent atheists are capable of doing
          this, for the purpose of understanding what God meant to the ancient
          Hebrews and how they themselves describe and report their relationship
          with God.”

          That’s what we’re doing you ignorant………jeez, this is maddening.

        • CodyGirl824

          Pofarmer,

          I have not read anyone on this blog who has offered any thoughts on how the ancient Hebrews themselves thought about God or what the word/name God meant to them. One way to understand this, despite the fact that the ancient Hebrews aren’t around to correct your misinterpretations, is to talk with modern Jews about what their traditions, passed down by their ancestor for centuries, teach about their beliefs about God. Another source is the many volumes of the Talmud, the rabbis’ analysis of the Holy Scriptures. I don’t see any atheists (here, at least) making a genuine attempt to view the Hebrew Bible from the perspective of the ancient Hebrews. This is not their agenda, which is to support their own prejudices against and rejection of the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          My guess, is that the ancient Hebrews viewed their got just like the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Norse, Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, Pueblos and countless others viewed their Gods.

        • CodyGirl824

          I don’t think so, Pofarmer. Monotheism and polytheism are very different perspectives for viewing God. This is why I frequently affirm the importance of understanding clearly what monotheism deifies, especially as monotheism was viewed, experienced and expressed by the Hebrews.

          I am puzzled by your use of the term “Gods” with a capital G.

        • Pofarmer

          Would you please get over all the capitalization stuff? If you are so worried about monotheism
          and polytheism, you might want to recognize that early Hebrews were polytheistic, and recognized other gods, and probably worshiped other gods. In fact, many references of polytheism were scrubbed from the Talmud. It’s all through the first part of the OT. If you really read the OT, you’ll see that the concept of God changes throughout the bible, and again in the OT. Hell, modern day Catholics are practically polytheistic. But, once again, why aren’t you interested in other Ancient Cultures and their gods? Are you sure that the ancient Sumerians or Babylonians were any more polytheistic than the Ancient Hebrews?

        • CodyGirl824

          Why get so upset? Since you ordinarily don’t capitalize the word “god” even when doing so according to English spelling conventions signals that you/we are talking about the God of monotheism, I thought that maybe you were signalling some different meaning. If that’s not the case, so be it.

          I have some knowledge of the religion of the Aztecs and the Maya culture. I have not studied other ancient culture’s religions. As for the evolution of understandings and concepts of God, I find Karen Armstrong’s book, A History of God to be quite informative.

        • Pofarmer

          I this case, all capitalization and sometimes spelling shows is fat fingers on a phone or tablet.

        • CodyGirl824

          Okay. I find that conventional capitalization facilitates communication, but that’s just my opinion.

        • Kodie

          You know what facilitates communication? Actually answering questions or addressing points that come up again and again, and then again, not halting the conversation that might actually get somewhere just to be confused about something, or more likely to confuse what was said because you read what you want it to say instead of what it actually does. I can’t believe a capital G stumped you, or if this is just another Jenna Black diversion tactic to avoid addressing what’s been said. .

        • CodyGirl824

          I answered Pofarmer’s question. What are you complaining about? He isn’t. We resolved the issue of the capital G when he told me that it was insignificant (“fat fingers on a phone or tablet”).

        • Kodie

          I was gone all afternoon. You were initially befuddled by the use of an unlicensed capital G by an atheist in reference to another god. If you would stop going out of your way to embarrass yourself, maybe we could get to the end of this discussion by going through it together and not have you distracted by stupid shit.

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

          It’s like she’s on an ice floe that she thinks is pretty stable, but then when it gets bitten down so that it’s dangerously small, she jumps onto another one.

          A thoughtful person would see the trend. I don’t think she’s seeing the trend.

        • Kodie

          She’s just so used to the smell that she doesn’t think her shit stinks.

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

          “God” is the guy’s name. You capitalize proper names in English. Is this what you were talking about?

          Or perhaps I misunderstood the issue.

        • CodyGirl824

          I think that you get the issue. God with a capital G denotes the God of monotheism. God with a lower case g denotes any deity of any religion. Have I mentioned the great book by Nathan Stone, “Names of God” (2010) that explores 12
          names of God from the Bible?

        • MNb

          Which god of monotheism? The catholic one? The jewish one? The muslim one? The JW’s one? The mormon one?

        • MNb

          God is the name of the christian god – but which christian god? And wasn’t he named YHWH?

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

          And Elohim, but Christians want to pretend that they were just synonyms. Maybe like a given name of Reginald but a nickname of Buster or Stinky.

        • Kodie

          It’s so totally different to believe in one god than a committee of gods. I don’t know why, but I will insist that it’s true. You are actually deifying the Hebrews experience, as you deify the Declaration of Independence. You are kind of a slut about deifying things.

          Be puzzled no longer; just learn to read!

        • CodyGirl824

          I do not deify the DOI. I merely point out the fact that it is based on a theistic argument. I do deify the Creator and Nature’s God that the DOI says endowed us with our inalienable rights. Monotheists deify only one and the only one God. We are, in that sense, “monogamous.”

        • Kodie

          It never crosses your mind that the Hebrews might have a totally wrong understanding of a deity, or that the founding fathers might. If you can make it mean what you want it to mean, you have no problem swallowing it whole and then holding it up as another weak data point. And that’s, in a nutshell, what’s wrong with Christians. Has it ever occurred to you to read something from an outsider’s viewpoint? There is no obvious god to me such that the Hebrews had any understanding of anything. ORIGIN MYTH ORIGIN MYTH ORIGIN MYTH. If you don’t see origin myth you might be coming in with a whole lot of bias.

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

          No one outside your group thinks that the Trinity dodge gives you a plausible monotheism. Feel free to call your belief a monotheism, but just know that your argument falls flat to outsiders.

        • CodyGirl824

          When “outsiders” argue against monotheism because they/you reject polytheism as truth, you actually show that we are in agreement. Monotheists are not polytheists and neither are atheists. Scratch that point off the list of things we disagree on and need to resolve.

        • MNb

          That doesn’t answer, as we are used to by now, BobS’ remark that the Trinity dodge doesn’t give you a plausible monotheism.

        • CodyGirl824

          I already explained where the concept of the Trinity originated and what its role is in Christian theology. I don’t see any value in discussing “plausible” monotheism when clearly both monotheists and atheists have no real dispute about what polytheism is. There is no “Trinity dodge.”

        • MNb

          Where the concept of Trinity originated and what its role is in christian theology doesn’t address BobS’ remark that “the Trinity dodge doesn’t give you a plausible monotheism” either, champion evading difficult points.

          “when clearly both monotheists and atheists have no real dispute”
          BWAHAHAHAHA! Narrow minded indeed, secluding yourself systematically from everything even slightly inconvenient.

          http://masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/trinity.htm

          Here a christian who totally sees a real dispute as well:

          http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/quran_trinity.htm

          And some jews who agree that there is a dispute indeed:

          http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14519-trinity
          http://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/why-jews-dont-believe-in-the-trinity/

          Now given your preference for changing subjects: I don’t give s**t who is right, who is wrong and who misunderstands what. It’s fine with me that you call yourself a monotheist. You have a problem, not me and I couldn’t care less what you do with it.
          Fact is that there is a problem and hence BobS is right when he writes

          “the Trinity dodge doesn’t give you a plausible monotheism”
          and jews, christians and muslims recognize it.

        • Kodie

          Not me, I don’t care how many gods you believe in and how high you can count. Nobody is arguing against monotheism because we reject polytheism, we’re just pointing out that religion apparently takes away your ability to count.

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

          When “outsiders” argue against monotheism because they/you reject polytheism as truth, you actually show that we are in agreement.

          I see no evidence for the supernatural. How about now? Are we in agreement now?

          I applaud your search for concord because I think there are common beliefs and values, but the idea that Christianity is a monotheism isn’t one them.

        • MNb

          “I merely point out the fact that it is based on a theistic argument.”
          And I’m happy to point out again that many comparable documents outside the USA are not based on a theistic argument and that the DOI for the vast majority of mankind is totally irrelevant.

        • Kodie

          Because nobody cares. There isn’t some secret interpretation that someone thought about god that doesn’t end you up where you’ve been the whole time. Have you ever thought that they might be wrong? I mean, you keep telling us we need to get the business like you’ve been giving us from modern Jews, but do you ever stop and think they really had no idea, it was an origin myth (like I keep telling you and you have never responded), and to use a deity’s magical permission to commit heinous acts so they could rationalize that this was actually a just outcome? The won, the got what they wanted, and they used a character of god to practically force themselves to do something they wanted to have done.

          Where was god, by the way? I won’t keep repeating the god is amoral, because even the Jews could tell you – they were taking someone else’s word for it and “just following orders”. We don’t need god, and the Jews merely exploited an imaginary character to motivate their troops. Of course a modern Jew wouldn’t want it to seem anything like that!

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

          how the ancient Hebrews themselves thought about God or what the word/name God meant to them.

          They thought it was like “abracadabra” or “Beetlejuice,” a magic spell. In that culture, knowing someone’s name gave you some power over them. That’s why, when Jacob wrestles with the angel in Genesis, the angel refuses to give Jacob his name.

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

          You really don’t get it?

          There’s talking about God (since he is a character in this fable), which I do, and there’s believing that God exists and that he has all the fabulous powers Christians say he does, which is what you do.

          I’m asking you to not do that thing you do. If you assume God, then all sorts of nutty “Ah, well God could’ve resolved that problem in a way that you just don’t understand” arguments are possible. Those arguments are invalid for our conversation.

        • MNb

          If there is no god there is nothing to condemn indeed. You’re correct here. But if we atheists for the sake of argument (and nothing more) accept that there is a god we feel free to judge him with our moral standards, that’s correct too, especially those atheists (like BobS and me) who don’t accept that there is any supreme or objective moral standard.

        • CodyGirl824

          But you’ve got a problem there. If there is no objective moral standard for judging God’s morality, then the only one you have is your own subjective moral standard, which is totally meaningless for anyone but yourself/yourselves. To put it simply, when an atheist finds a god that s/he doesn’t even believe exists to be worthy of moral condemnation based on his/her subjective moral standard, who cares?

        • Pofarmer

          Are you sure this is the argument you want to go with?

        • Pofarmer

          If God were all powerful, etc, etc, couldn’t he have just converted the Amalakites instead of having them all slain?

        • JohnH2

          You win Bob, that is exactly what he did.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, duh, you only use the evidence which supports your argument.

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

          :-D

        • MNb

          “unflattering stories”
          Hm, looks like I have to read the thing.

        • wtfwjtd

          The Infancy Gospel of Thomas has some hilarious stuff, stories of boy Jesus making mud sparrows fly, striking people dead that annoy him, doing mean things to teachers that reprimand him, etc. Another favorite part is when Jesus’s dad asks the lad to tone the mean tricks down–”come on son, you’re pissing all the neighbors off”–pretty hilarious, all in all.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Wild guess is wrong.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          JohnH2, if you can show me any such myth of powerful gods who never use their extraordinary powers for their own benefit, please do so.

          The Gospel of Thomas is a late composition, universally known to be pseudepigraphical, and thus irrelevant.

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

          ;-)

        • JohnH2

          That is the infant Gospel of Thomas, the other one was composed at least prior to the Gospel of John as John responds to it. Since John responds to it, that is also evidence that John thought it was written by the Apostle Thomas, suggesting that the Apostles had differing opinions about Jesus, as further evidenced by James, Peter, and Paul in regards to faith, and also the controversy over the law of Moses.

          Even if you reject that claim though, that doesn’t help your argument. You are accepting a certain version of scripture and Jesus that wasn’t established until well after the fact with multiple competing stories and versions prior to that point. It would be like a singular version of Hercules emerging, declaring all stories that call into question that story as irrelevant, and arguing that they have to be true because their version of Hercules is the greatest comic book superhero ever being supremely powerful and supremely good, never using his powers for his own good, because one could (and actually did) do that.

          Personally I like one version of Quetzalcoatl as being a good example of a powerful god that never used his extraordinary powers for his own benefit, and consider competing myths to be later and pseudo-epigraphical. I also like Nanahuatl, the humblest of gods who sacrificed himself willingly to become the sun and give life to the world and the people of it that Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc had created. Do you need more examples?

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson
        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Where is your textual evidence of multiple prior versions of the Jesus accounts being rejected? There are multiple later accounts that were rejected, obviously. But none prior. Pagels’ dating of Thomas is not likely to be correct.

        • JohnH2

          Do you have anything that isn’t just a comment on my first paragraph is which I state you can reject without that affecting the rest of what I say?

          Given John and Paul and Peter there were already competing claims as otherwise they wouldn’t have written about those competing claims; the Christian gnostics were already around by the time of 1 Corinthians, as were the Jewish Christians with their view of Jesus that differs greatly from Paul’s; both of those things are attested to in the New Testament as we have it; so yeah multiple accounts of Jesus were around and rejected.

          Also, your article about Thomas doesn’t seem to say what you think it says. It basically says that we shouldn’t accept Thomas because it challenges orthodoxy and there are scholars that debate about if John really is discussing it or not; having read both I am firmly of the opinion that John is addressing Thomas, arguments that it is contra-orthodoxy are one idiotic in they assume that what we currently believe must be precisely what the correct version and two irrelevant to me as I am a Mormon and therefore by definition not orthodox.

        • wtfwjtd

          But gosh Tom, that’s the whole point. How can you assert the myth of your powerful Jesus if you can’t point to a single instance of said being exerting anything even remotely resembling this supposed extraordinary power? Running away from the Pharisees, dodging hard questions, botching simple references to OT practices…your “extraordinarily powerful Jesus” isn’t exactly very impressive on any level.

          “The Gospel of Thomas is a late composition, universally known to be pseudepigraphical, and thus irrelevant.”

          If we threw out every NT book known to be pseudo-epigraphical, we’d have to throw out half of your New Testament. Not to mention, your cherished gospels are written anonymously from a third person perspective borrowing heavily from literature of the time, decades after the facts they allege to report. Not exactly confidence-inspiring, and certainly disqualified from any historical discussion as nearly useless as such.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          “But gosh Tom, that’s the whole point. How can you assert the myth of your powerful Jesus if you can’t point to a single instance of said being exerting anything even remotely resembling this supposed extraordinary power?”

          That’s an extraordinary question! He didn’t run. He didn’t dodge, instead he posed counter-questions that exposed questioners’ false motives. Speaking of which, is there some reason implied that there are no instances of extraordinary power in the accounts of Jesus, when in fact they are the most obvious features of the accounts; and you’ve pointed instead to a few disputable points where he might not have used power? In other words, is there some reason you took the tendentious route of distorting the facts instead of dealing with them?

        • wtfwjtd

          How can you assert the myth of your powerful Jesus if you can’t point to a single instance of said being exerting anything even remotely resembling this supposed extraordinary power?”

          “That’s an extraordinary question!”

          Seriously Tom? I guess you and I have different definitions of “extraordinary power”. I’m told that Jesus is the creator of the universe, and can do literally anything. So, what do I get in the gospels? Some healings, a few parlor-variety magic tricks, and lots of commentary that is lifted straight from the literature of the day. Speaking of parlor-variety magic, take a look at Mark 8:22-25–”…when he (Jesus) had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him…” Once again, seriously? Spitting into people’s eyes, and having to try a couple of times to get it right? Maybe you find this to be incredibly convincing, but please try and look at it from a skeptic’s point of view: It looks just like an ordinary magic trick, by a common conjurer. Nothing even remotely impressive here. I could provide plenty more examples, but I’m hoping you at least have a cursory familiarity with the gospel stories.

          As for the god-man claim, this would require evidence, and none of the above comes even remotely close. Even if we were to take the gospels as literal history, we find nothing in them that would bolster this claim. Such a claim requires not just ordinary evidence, but extraordinary evidence. I don’t even see any ordinary evidence here, much less anything extraordinary. I could also mention that the deafening silence of the dozens of historical writers concerning Jesus that were contemporaries of the time of Jesus also refutes your god-man claim rather resoundingly, but I won’t. I’ll let you look that one up for yourself.

          So, those are the facts, and that’s my take, on turf that’s friendly to you. Tell me, what do you see in the gospels that absolutely convinces you that Jesus is a god-man? Which act or acts seals the deal for you?

        • CodyGirl824

          wtfwjtd,

          We have accounts in the canonical gospels of 34 specific miracles that Jesus performed, although the total count of his miracles is probably greater, as suggested in this passage: Matthew 14:14 states: “He [Jesus] saw a great crowd; and he felt pity for them, and he cured their sick ones.” In Acts 2:22, the Apostle Peter referred to Jesus as “a man publicly shown by God to you through powerful works and portents and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know.”

          Your 21st century analysis of the power of his miracles clearly reveals your intent to minimize and discredit Jesus. Why should any Christian pay any attention whatsoever to your opinion of Jesus’s power, which he himself attributed to God, the Father? John 5: 36 “… For the works that the Father has given me to finish, the very works that I am doing, testify that the Father has sent me.” Jesus’ works are testimony to his divinity.

        • MNb

          “Why should any Christian ….”
          Good question. On a more general level: why should any christian care about reason, empiry and rationality if he/she has faith?

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

          If you simply want biblical evidence of Jesus’ miracles, you should note the last verse of John: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” You’re probably aware that that chapter is widely considered to be an addition and so isn’t much of an authority, but it’s biblical anyway.

          I’d say that his impact in the world was reflected in the writings of contemporary historians about Jesus–that is, nothing.

        • Kodie

          Sometimes I think, assuming Jesus as a real person, that events were notably exaggerated even then and known to be hyperbolic. Jesus is the ur-example of “walking on water”. Imagine the phrase being used today for someone who is pretty fantastic, admired, or egotistical – their abilities or personality is often compared to Jesus’s alleged feats and marvels. But, what if those expressions were used at the time the same way we use them now?

        • wtfwjtd

          One of Christianity’s first known critics, Celsus, dismissed Jesus in the 2nd century as a “bastard child” who learned his sorcery from Egypt, then moved to Palestine to practice his craft. I don’t know about the bastard part, but the way he dismissed Jesus as a common magician shows that these were very common in his day, probably a lot like Uri Geller or someone similar today. These people invariably have their followers, but it doesn’t mean their tricks are the real deal by a long shot. You can imagine, as gullible as people are today, people of largely illiterate 1st century Palestine would be even more superstitious and gullible. When a good conjurer showed up I am sure they created quite a stir among the locals–for a time, anyway.

        • Kodie

          That works too. I was more thinking the way you might say about some guy everyone likes but you can’t see it, “they think he walks on water”. What if that was always just an expression? Jesus as some kind of scam artist also covers the empty tomb. I spent a little time on tvtropes yesterday and one of the topics I looked at was Seinfeld is Unfunny, which in case you don’t know is how funny (or whatever quality it is an example of or praised for) something was before it was copied so much and you become desensitized. Because we really are living in a culture full of Christians, people, especially Christians, hold Jesus up to an ideal and an originality that was unprecedented. Through all our discussions, we learn a lot of history that most people don’t realize, that the Jesus story was not original, not any part of it. But 2000 years of thematic regurgitation, Jesus takes the place of “the original” and everything else is a hack based on the story. Speaking of the empty tomb, I kind of got hooked on a soap opera that my mom used to watch and I’ve watched it on and off for a long time. I bring this up because of how critical we are when a story plot is implausible, and also because lack of a body always means the character may not be dead if they want to bring the actor back or recast later.

        • wtfwjtd

          Those are all excellent points Kodie, well-stated.

          “I bring this up because of how critical we are when a story plot is implausible, and also because lack of a body always means the character may not be dead if they want to bring the actor back or recast later.”

          That seems to be exactly the idea behind the gospel of Mark–it originally ended with no one actually seeing Jesus after he was killed. The longer ending was only added later, when it became apparent that there would be no more Jesus appearances–not in the near future anyway–and Christianity settled in for the long haul.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great point Bob. And, of all those books that would have “filled the entire world”, we don’t even get a single passing mention by any of the dozens of historiographers that lived and wrote at the same time and place as Jesus? Yeah, color me unimpressed.

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

          One of these days, I’d like to do a survey of the contemporary historians (not those a generation or two later, like Josephus or Tacitus) who could’ve written about the remarkable miracle man of Galilee but didn’t.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a great idea, and would make a good couple of posts, as there are so many. Pofarmer (and others) have posted lists in the comments here, and it is quite extensive. And not just *could* have written, but *should* have written.

        • CodyGirl824

          Jesus is the most beloved figure in human history and the founder of the one world religion with the greatest number of followers in the history of humankind. Not bad as “impact” goes for a man who some people (atheists) claim either never existed or is only “legend.”

          I recommend that you read David Bentley Hart’s
          2009 book. “Atheist delusions: The Christian revolution and its fashionable enemies” for a thorough treatise of the impact of Jesus Christ and Christianity on civilization.

        • wtfwjtd

          I am painfully aware of the harm that Christianity has done to civilization Jenna, thanks.

        • CodyGirl824

          Perhaps you are painfully aware of the harm caused by misinterpretations and misuses of Christianity in civilization since a religion, in and of itself, cannot cause harm. Only human beings can cause harm.

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

          “Dear Lord, protect me from your followers.”

          You mean like that?

        • MNb

          Ah – harm done by christians: misinterpretations and misuse.
          Good done by christians: glory to god.
          That’s a nice variation of the no true christian interpretation fallacy.

        • Kodie

          It is more like, “harm? what harm”? All Christians use this loophole. They superficially agree that some people have a poor or willfully wrong use of Christianity, “we’re not all like that”, but when you engage them to find out what they will tolerate, what is a righteous use of their belief, it’s usually something equally awful or worse. Jenna defends Mother Teresa for example, Jenna can not recognize harm when she sees it, and religion gets a pass. She will not even tolerate a passing remark noting MT’s private doubt (being it was just a normal phase and not something attention should be brought to) and she will “never forgive” Christopher Hitchens for criticizing her, and rests assured he is burning in hell for it, and rests assured that Mother Teresa is not. It’s ok when you have faith, it’s not ok if you don’t. All Christians claim to be able to know the difference.

          Notice, for example, that no one wants to claim Hitler. He was “misusing” Christianity when he was just using it for what it’s always been used for.

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

          no one wants to claim Hitler

          Christians think that their view of the afterlife is terrific because it solves the problem of anyone escaping justice. “You might escape justice in this life, Stalin and Hitler, but you’ll get what’s coming to you in the afterlife.”

          But then there’s this loophole where one of these bastards embraces Jeebus and is washed in the blood of the lamb and so enters heaven after he dies. Maybe our old pal Adolph accepted Jesus before he pulled the trigger. Maybe he’s up in heaven now, scot-free and trading back rubs with Jesus.

          That possibility never seems to enter the discussion of the fabulousness of heaven.

        • Kodie

          I think it’s pretty much a cliche, I don’t know if it’s just human nature, because kids have a pretty strong sense of it, but have to be reminded (or informed) “nobody ever said life was fair”. Justice or fairness, used interchangeably, only seems to measure the wrongedness of the victim – someone has to pay. Even adults can often not help taking their frustration out on someone else, if it makes them feel better for a little while. It’s notable how often this works (or appears to) since after a while, people tend to forget the problem.

          I don’t like to talk about morality because it’s always genocide and slavery. People are rotten and selfish all the time, we’ve gotten used to it, or we cope by abusing our power over someone else, or harming ourselves (vice). Life on a daily basis can be actually grueling, because someone is always cutting through to get ahead and you’re waiting in line like you’re supposed to, and nobody says anything. When you see how the system actually works, and how easily people get away with it, you either martyr yourself doing things the “right” way, or you go with the flow and make the world a less comfortable place for others. I don’t know why we spend so much time teaching children to do the right thing and expect a reward for it, or at least expect that we’re all equally learning how to behave and that this matches what the world is actually like.

          The whole idea of “pay it forward” is if you do something extra for someone that they will be uplifted rather than dragged down, and pass on this favor instead of pay it back. There are actually cultural differences in the matter of favors – some people will avoid asking for or receiving them because it then obligates them. An article about how the ultimatum game shakes out in other cultures.

          But anyway, we want to make life fair, we are all judgmental. If I had my way, Hitler would be punished, but isn’t he? Not physically so he’d be aware, but his reputation lives and his name is ruined (for other people who happen to be named Hitler). I always wonder why people are so quick to call for the execution of heinous criminals because I think being locked up for life is worse than death. It seems they would like to hasten their entry to hell and not give them a long time to think, or be witnessed to in prison. Our justice system calls for punishment rather than the reward of being able to change. But isn’t execution a foxhole of a sort? Setting aside that there are atheists in foxholes, there are also the nervous types of people that religion does appeal to, and who face certain death with probable bargaining. The idea of there being a hell is so prevalent that it would hardly be surprising if many people didn’t beg for forgiveness as soon as they could not see another way out. Is begging forgiveness actually turning your life (what’s left of it) over to Jesus? Is this fooling anyone, is it fooling the almighty god?

          Anyway, people don’t want justice for themselves, as other people see it. They seem pretty secure most of the time that their god agrees with everything they do and their spot in heaven is secure no matter what they do. They even say they refuse to be judged by anyone else, like the hypocrites they are. God appeals to people because people often see themselves as the protagonist in an epic story, and everything bad that happens to them will have a happy ending no matter what. Those people will pay because we can’t lock people up just for being an asshole to us, they have to commit a crime for that. People don’t like to take responsibility for how others react and respond to us. Like I said, we teach children that when we do something wrong, we say “I’m sorry” and try to make it better, but how often does that happen? Adults only seem to apologize to people that matter to them, whether that person is emotionally important that they literally care, or is someone in a position that they can avenge the wrong, such as firing you from your job or punching you in the face or reporting you to some authority, like a landlord or whatever.

        • JohnH2

          For the Calvinists: Hitler could have received irresistible grace against his will the moment before he died and got to heaven while the very best of those killed by Hitler could receive “justice” and burn in hell eternally.

          I think your view of morality on the subject of Hitler is messed up, but sort of makes sense. The Calvinists, if they were right then Satan is the hero of the story and Heaven is infinitely more Hell than Hell.

        • Kodie

          By what do you mean, “the very best of those killed by Hitler”? What’s upsetting to most people is that the end is really the end and he wasn’t punished, the whole “if there are no consequences, people just do what they want,” which always must be killing people. Of course there are no earthly consequences if you manage to succeed in government to an extent that you can make killing people legal and do it all you want. I guess they were coming after him later, and would have naturally dealt him some earthly consequences. People seem upset that life is not fair and doesn’t catch all the bad guys, but that god will sort it all out. I don’t claim to know a lot about your beliefs, but I think that’s why your type likes to convert dead people. More commonly, people like bad people to pay and for good people to be rewarded. They say after death it’s too late to change your answer, but speak about before death, there is always time to find the lord, but also love to shorten people’s chances if we can judge them to be irredeemably bad. They don’t like it when people actually do change, and they don’t want to spend any effort getting productive members of society from people they’ve already written off. After death, we’ll all supposedly be begging and groveling to change our answer, but then it wouldn’t be faith. They really can’t handle getting the same fate as Hitler. Death isn’t fair either.

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

          What about the Arminians then? Doesn’t my concern apply there as well?

          And what’s messed up in my view?

          I don’t see how Satan becomes the hero. In a Calvinist view, God is still the creator of the afterlife.

        • JohnH2

          For the Arminians Hitler would have to choose to accept Christ; For the Calvinist the choice of Hitler or of anyone else to accept or not Christ is irrelevant, God either mind rapes you into salvation or He doesn’t and you go to Hell. So for the Calvinists no choices matter, while the Arminians have a singular choice matter.

          Satan is the hero in the sense of Occupy Wall Street: an ineffectual protest against a tyrant. Perhaps those first Syrian protestors who got gunned down might be a better example.

          If you remember your debate with Leah Libresco on the subject of morality; you stated that Hitler was moral for Hitler and that there is not basis to say Hitler was wrong, just that we disagree with Hitler.

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

          There is no absolute basis from which to say that Hitler was wrong, but of course we all say that Hitler was wrong from our own standpoint (which is pretty much where morality comes from).

        • CodyGirl824

          So, your subjective morality says that Hitler was wrong and it also says that you are more moral than God.

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

          I haven’t demanded genocide lately. Yep, that makes me way more moral than God.

          How about you? Have you demanded genocide lately or defined various tribes into slavery?

        • MNb

          Nazi-Norm has! He claimed that Canaanites were subhuman. What about Cody?

        • MNb

          The first part is correct and the latter part is meaningless like claiming that I’m stronger than Big Foot.

        • MNb

          You may think so, but BobS correctly summarizes the doctrine of atonement.

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

          Catholics accept this as well. I don’t know about mormons though. Perhaps you can tell us?
          Here we have Kim Yong Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea. On his death bed he decides to become a mormon. So he invites a mormon clergyman and at a quick pace he undergoes all the necessary rituals, receives all the ordinances. Then he lives for say another day, in which he faithfully obeys god’s commandments. He spends that day repenting all the harm he has done before his conversion, so he hasn’t any time left to undo his sins. Moreover, being on his deathbed he lacks the power to do so – his subordinates neglect his commands.
          Will Kim Yong Un receive afterlife reward according to you?
          Note: if anyone thinks this is a clever question, I learned it from a 13 or 14 years old girl in my class a long time ago.

        • JohnH2

          So you are dealing with Mormons, there is baptism for the dead and etc. Kim Yong Un accepting in life would only be relevant if Kim Yong Un knew that Mormons were correct in life and rejected it.

          As Kim Yong Un is a murderer than even if he accepts the gospel he will still resurrect in the resurrection of the unjust. He is also damned in the sense of being barred from eternal progression, even if he may eventually enter into the Celestial Kingdom.

        • wtfwjtd

          How about the pre-destinationist crowd? Even Tom Gilson’s old buddy Matt Slick espouses the “once saved always saved” bit. By this way of thinking, if Hitler or anyone else had accepted Jesus when they were a small child, what they did for the rest of their lives was irrelevant; they were already assured a spot in heaven. Heck, by that logic, I guess I’ll be a headin’ through the pearly gates too, whether I want to or not.

        • JohnH2

          As i stated in response to Bob, for the Calvinists none of your choices matter and for the Armenians only a single choice once in your life matters. Obviously that is a simplification, but a fairly accurate one (though Armenians there is more room for variation: for instance the Roman Catholics can be considered to be Armenians but also have every choice in your life potentially being important).

        • wtfwjtd

          John, I was just throwing that one out there as yet another variation that some groups use to attempt to reconcile their otherwise irreconcilable beliefs.

        • MNb

          Some nitpicking: Armenians live in Armenia, arminians are the fans of Jacob Hermanszn (ie Jacobus Arminius).

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

          “for the Calvinists none of your choices matter”
          This is not correct either anymore. These days by far not all calvinists are gomarians.

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

          http://www.ikonrtv.nl/uploads/uploadedDocs/remonstranten_gegevens_met_plaatjes.pdf

          Dutch calvinists, after send the remonstrants into exile, have gradually taken over several of their doctrines. You are presenting a conflict of 400 years ago.

        • JohnH2

          Oops, sorry to any Armenians, MNb is correct.

          I was going with straight up what Calvin said and my experience talking with Calvinists about the subject. Given how straight up evil God can seem under what Calvin said and also how Gomarus interpreted it then I must imagine that most Calvinists either don’t think about it or find someway of believing something different while still being a Calvinist.

          My experience with Calvinists is fairly limited, but if you go to the Evangelical Channel here or look elsewhere the debate between the Calvinists and the Arminians is still on going.

        • MNb

          “then I must imagine ….”
          Like I wrote that was correct 400 years ago. Calvinism has evolved in The Netherlands since then. The Dutch link I gave shows that most Dutch calvinists today reject predestination and hence have become arminians in this respect.
          Of course as a Dutchman I don’t know about the USA. But I’d like to remind you that calvinism became the official religion in The Netherlands long before the USA declared its independency. Arminius and Gomarus both were Dutch. Together with Switzerland The Netherlands are the most important calvinist country in the world; that’s where our Bible Belt comes from.
          I just checked both Dutch calvinist newspapers, Reformatorisch Dagblad and Nederlands Dagblad.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nederlands_Dagblad
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformatorisch_Dagblad

          and neither spends much attention to the dispute. This means it’s not very hot in Dutch orthodox-protestant circles.

        • adam

          Like this:

        • MNb

          Oh yes, that’s my experience too. It’s just that I can’t resist pointing out a logical fallacy when I meet it.

        • CodyGirl824

          Jesus Christ is the only true Christian. The rest of us are sinners, just like atheists, only with the acceptance of God’s grace, which atheists reject.

        • Kodie

          Which atheists don’t believe is a thing.

        • MNb

          Meaningless waffling, irrelevant for what I wrote.

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

          Jesus Christ is the only true Christian.

          Then Christians must be Jews, because Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. Remember that bit about “not one jot or tittle of the law is to be changed”?

        • wtfwjtd

          …and, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel”–Jesus

        • Kodie

          They’re using god just like the Jews. It’s always been the people, not god, atheists disagree with. It’s really strange that you would say the Jews had a concept and if we would only be able to ask, everything they did was justified because they really understood god, but you’re assured that believers are misinterpreting and misusing their belief if they cause harm now. It was a few days ago that you felt obliged, yes, to block valid criticism of Mother Teresa? She wasn’t misinterpreting and misusing her beliefs? She raised a fuckload of money that never went to help the poor. If you donated money to a Christian charity because they said it was for the poor, and those poor never got the benefit of groceries and medicine that could have been bought with that money, is that …. I mean, you think that’s fine. You think she’s a good person because she had faith and never denounced it (even though she privately doubted)…. you just don’t like to face facts, and that’s because you’re ok with it.

          You think a profession of faith is as valid as it’s going to get for a reason to withhold aid to other humans. If someone says they have god on their side, you believe them no matter what. You think they are justified in any horror because their relationship is “real” to you as long as they say so. You do not have a concept of misinterpreting or misusing one’s religion. You simply have no moral compass that you think being critical of Mother Teresa is a good reason to assume god sent them to hell when they died.

          You’re not a good person yourself, so how would you even be able to when Christian people are actually harming someone for what they believe is a righteous reason? When their imaginary friend’s reasons take precedent to being a decent human being to anyone, you always take their side, and not the side of decent human beings, even accusing us of not understanding the context or holding them to our “elevated” moral standards.

          There is no belief without believers. You want 2.3 billion people in the world to agree with you, and anything any one of them does couldn’t possibly be misinterpreting or misusing anything. Do words of the English language mean anything to you or is everyone just wasting their time? You are willfully ignorant and find any reason you want, i.e. one person’s faith is more important than their actions, we shouldn’t mind or criticize them, or you, to defend being an asshole. The Jews “had an understanding of god,” so? That makes everything a religious believer does, to you, NOT a misinterpretation. It’s an “understanding” that maybe we can’t see from our perspective, and who are we to judge them, while you judge us and “rest assured” god will send all those who have a problem with them to hell.

          Atheists have a problem with people, using their understanding of god (as you put it) to defend being an asshole and above criticism and morally superior to everyone else. It’s an imaginary friend. You’re sure that sincerity of belief is more important than deeds, and you have said so. You can pay lip service to “misinterpretations and misuses” but you can’t see any such thing happening when we point it out to you.

        • Pofarmer

          Only human beings can do good too. Only human beings can advance civilization.

        • Kodie

          You mean a thorough treatise on the impact of belief in Jesus Christ and the practice of Christianity on civilization. And of course, if it’s a book you recommend, the author is biased and leaves out all the heinous stuff or excuses it in some fashion, like you sick fucks like to do. “It’s not bigotry, it’s my personal beliefs! I’m not intolerant, you’re intolerant!”

        • Pofarmer

          i would challenge you to read some Hector Avalos.

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

          Dang it, you’re right. I forgot about the 2.3 quintillion Christians in the world. I assume your argument is “the #1 religion must be correct”? If I got that wrong, then I have no idea what your point is and you’ll have to clarify.

        • Kodie

          Islam is the #1 religion.

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

          Hmm … I’m not sure about that. I think it’s Christianity (assuming we take all the bits and mash them together).

        • Kodie

          If we take all those who claim to be Christians (true Christians), we get a majority. But we do not get a majority if Christians themselves disown anyone not a true Christian because their ideologies disagree. Christians like to say allllll the 2.3 billion Christians are believers when it’s convenient for popularity’s sake, but disassociate themselves from any Christian who is doing it wrong. They can’t have it both ways. There are 2.3 billion people who believe Jesus resurrected. After that, they can’t agree what that actually means. Jenna is Episcopalian, if we’re keeping track.

          http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_zQ3Kf901qxY/S_0lrUoIqXI/AAAAAAAAADc/6QI3l4xb74k/s1600/20080701121225!World_religions_pie_chart.png

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

          Doesn’t the same apply within Islam? They’re probably not divided up into so many sects as Christianity, but the Sunni and Shia don’t get along.

        • Kodie

          Jenna likes to back her ideas with numbers when it suits her but she will disown anyone down the line for having some other fundamental disagreement. That Christianity can even be interpreted into so many differing ways is a point against it. It’s not the clear and accessible documentation, it really matters what church you stumble into and however it resonates with you personally. Resonance seems to be a universal effect. That tingly feeling when what you’re being told matches what you experience is poof, your religion. God both constantly agrees with what you think, and also requires bootlicking worship. 2.3 million people agree on one thing, and do not accept the same “theological implications” that Jenna does. Her peculiar belief system is a distinct minority.

        • CodyGirl824

          I’ve never before seen anyone call Episcopalians “peculiar.”

        • Kodie

          I didn’t say Episcopalians were peculiar. I said your distinct buffet of whatever Jenna believes that most Christians would find problematic to be peculiar. BECAUSE YOU CAN”T READ. Can you look at a pie chart?

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, maybe you meant Anglicans.

        • Kodie
        • wtfwjtd

          “Her peculiar belief system is a distinct minority.”

          More like one-of-a-kind. But I know you were being nice.

        • CodyGirl824

          No, Bob, my argument is that you are wrong to minimize the impact of Jesus Christ in the world because he more than any other person in human history has had an impact on civilization, as evidence by 1) the number of followers of Jesus (Christians) throughout Christianity’s history and 2) Christianity’s impact on civilization, which David Bentley Hart argues much more thoroughly and knowledgeably than I can. I said nothing about “correct” and this evidence is persuasive in support of Jesus’ impact regardless of and independent from anyone’s opinion about Christianity.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think anyone is downplaying the impact of the Jesus story or those that followed said story and built empires on it.

        • Kodie

          Let me help you with language a bit: Jesus has no impact. If you keep asserting this phrase, we are going to ask you to provide ample evidence of Jesus’s actual impact. All you have is believers. Believers in a character Jesus do not in any way provide evidence of an impact made by an actual Jesus.

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

          Yes, it’s had a big impact.

          Is that it? Was that your point?

          My point, however, was that it’s odd that we have the most amazing man ever who was ignored by contemporary historians.

        • Pofarmer

          You are gonna accuse him of distorting facts? Really? I would guess that what you and I consider facts are somewhat different.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Your assessment of the rest of the NT books is, shall we say, not universally shared.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Your assessment of the rest of the NT books is, shall we say, not universally shared.”
          So you want to pretend there aren’t any pseudo-epigraphical books in the New Testament, and you want to represent that as a “universally shared” view? That’s not only dishonest, it’s positively lunatic fringe. Even your pal Matt Slick won’t go near there. I dare say a majority of professors at your own Nazarene Theological Seminary would be a lot closer to my views than yours.

          If it’s a discussion of Bible origins you want, *bring it on*. Be careful what you wish for though, you just may get it.

        • Pofarmer

          The Gospel of Thomas has a wide range of datings, from before Mark, to after John. There is a good case to be made that it was, in fact, circulating with the Pauline Epistles, about half of which, are also considered pseud epigraphical. Be careful if you want to get into textual criticisms.

          http://earlychristianwritings.com/thomas.html

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

          Right, but JohnH2 was talking about the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

        • Pofarmer

          The Infancy Gospel could still overlap books like Timothy.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson
        • wtfwjtd

          Seriously? One of your primary sources is Matt Slick?

        • Pofarmer

          Slick is crosswise with the scholarly consensus in the origins of the Gospels, among other things. Here is more on the

          Gospel of Thomas.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas.html

        • MNb

          Just asking, TG – do you think killing off innocent pigs a fine example of other-orienting, giving and caring?

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          Historical and religious context, MNb.

        • MNb

          Agreed. Applies to the entire Jesus story, hence your comparison (great, greater, greatest plus powerful, more powerful, most powerful) with characters of other eras doesn’t make sense anymore.
          Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Paul talks about Jesus a lot, about once every three verses, But he says very little about Jesus and what he says appears to come from the Old Testament from Messiah prophecies or from out-of-context verses. He calls them “the revelation of the mystery” and that they come “through the prophetic writings”. (Romans 16:25, 26)

          The Jesus character could have been created by reading Isaiah 9:6-7 where “a son is given to us” and named “Mighty God”. If one then read about the “Suffering Servant” later in Isaiah 49, 52, 53, and 54 as the same character, you have Jesus.

          Isaiah 9:6-7

          6 For a child has been born for us,
              a son given to us;
          authority rests upon his shoulders
          ;
              and he is named
          Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
              Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

          7 His authority shall grow continually,
              and there shall be endless peace
          for the throne of David and his kingdom.
              He will establish and uphold it
          with justice and with righteousness
              from this time onward and forevermore.
          The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

          Isaiah 53

          1 Who has believed what we have heard?
              And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
          2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
              and like a root out of dry ground;
          he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
              nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
          3 He was despised and rejected by others;
              a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
          and as one from whom others hide their faces
              he was despised, and we held him of no account.

          4 Surely he has borne our infirmities
              and carried our diseases;
          yet we accounted him stricken,
              struck down by God, and afflicted.
          5 But he was wounded for our transgressions,
              crushed for our iniquities;
          upon him was the punishment that made us whole
          ,
              and by his bruises we are healed.
          6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
              we have all turned to our own way,
          and the Lord has laid on him
              the iniquity of us all
          .

          7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
              yet he did not open his mouth;
          like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
              and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
              so he did not open his mouth.
          8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
              Who could have imagined his future?
          For he was cut off from the land of the living,
              stricken for the transgression of my people.
          9 They made his grave with the wicked
              and his tomb with the rich,
          although he had done no violence,
              and there was no deceit in his mouth.

          10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
          When you make his life an offering for sin,
              he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
          through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
          11    Out of his anguish he shall see light;
          he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
              The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
              and he shall bear their iniquities.

          12 Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
              and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
          because he poured out himself to death,
              and was numbered with the transgressors;
          yet he bore the sin of many,
              and made intercession for the transgressors.

          Throw in Psalm 41:9 about the night he was betrayed, Hosea 6:2 about being raised in three days, and Deuteronomy 21:23 about “he who is hung on a tree is cursed” and you have the Jesus story.

          Paul insists that he didn’t learn anything from human sources and especially not from the “pillars” (Galatians 1:11-12, 15-19). He insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the “super-apostles”. (2 Corinthians 11:4-6, 12:11) In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul lists the order that the followers of Jesus came to be but he uses the same Greek word (optanomai) for the “appeared to” as he does for himself. Since everything Paul tells us about Jesus is found in the scriptures of the day, he seems to think that’s how the others knew about Jesus.

          Robert M. Price has compiled the work of several scholars who have independently discovered some the roots that Mark used for his story about Jesus at New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash. By themselves, the studies are very good but combined, they show that nearly everything Jesus did had been attributed to somebody else in fictional works, unless you believe in the miracles of Elijah, Elisha, and Moses.

  • SparklingMoon

    “Jesus Christ: Greater Than You Knew, Too Great Not To Be True”
    ——————————————————————————
    The sum and substance of the circumstances of the son of Mary, shorn of vain and senseless praise, is that he was a humble creature and was one of the Prophets who were subject to the law of Moses (as) and was a follower of that great Prophet but had not himself the same status. That is to say, his teaching was subsidiary to that of Moses (as) and he did not have an independent status.

    According to the Gospels, Jesus confessed that he was neither good, nor a knower of the unseen, nor powerful, but only a humble creature. He was tempted by Satan like any other humble creature. It is obvious that Jesus endured hunger, thirst, pain and illness over a period. On one occasion, when suffering from hunger, he approached a fig tree which proved to be fruitless and was frustrated without being able to create a few figs for his sustenance. In short, having spent his days in such conditions and having endured such afflictions, he died, according to the Christians, and was removed from this world. So we enquire whether God Almighty should possess such defective qualities and should be called Holy and Glorious while suffering from such faults and deficiencies? Also, how is it possible that of the five children born to Mary, only one became the son of God and even God Himself, and the remaining four were not bestowed any part of Godhead?

    One would have thought that, contrary to the normal rule that a human being is born of a human being and a donkey is born of a donkey, if God can be born of a human creature, then no creature should be born from the same womb; all the children born from it should be gods so that the holy womb should be safeguarded against giving birth to creatures and should be solely a mine for the birth of gods. According to this speculation it was necessary that the brothers and sisters of Jesus should have partaken somewhat of Godhead and the mother of the five should have been honoured as the God of Gods because all five of them derived all their spiritual and physical faculties from her.

    Those who were perfectly righteous have been called sons of God in the previous scriptures. This does not mean that they were actually the sons of God; such a things would be blasphemous, as God has no sons or daughters. Such expressions only mean that the reflection of God had been displayed in the clear mirrors of those righteous personages.The reflection of a person in a mirror is, metaphorically speaking, his son; for as a son is born of the father,a reflection is born of the original. When a reflection of Divine manifestations appears in a heart that is absolutely pure without any kind of stain,the reflection is metaphorically like a son of the original. That is why Israel was called the first begotten of God in the Torah. (Ruhani Khazain)

  • AdamHazzard

    It almost reads like an inversion of Sagan’s “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The Gilson version:

    (1)The more extraordinary a claim, the more likely it is to be true.

    (2) The claim of the divinity of Jesus is maximally extraordinary.

    (3) The claim of the divinity of Jesus is therefore maximally true.

    Of course, one could quibble with the first premise….

    • CodyGirl824

      This is a straw man, not at all what Tom Gilson argues. Did you go to the Thinking Christian website and read his argument or did you just rely on Bob’s version?

      • Kodie

        I just read it, and that is his argument. Did you read it? When you read it, did you again forget to comprehend it?

      • AdamHazzard

        Gilson: “Suppose there are controversial points of possible imperfection in Jesus. That doesn’t change the fact that there is one supremely unique point of perfection in his character: his simultaneous possession of ultimate power and practice of perfect other-orientedness. That’s the fact that the skeptics’ legend theory has to account for, and which doesn’t fit at all in their version of the Jesus story.”

        Do you see the analogy? Gilson is saying that the narrative of the divinity of Jesus can’t be “legend” because the “ultimate power and [the] practice of perfect other-orientedness” attributed to Jesus is too extraordinary to be fictive.

        Other narratives of divine beings can presumably be dismissed for being insufficiently extraordinary. Thus premises (1) and (2): Extraordinariness is pertinent to the plausibility of a claim, but only the maximally extraordinary is maximally convincing.

        And of course Gilson didn’t phrase it this way, but that’s hardly surprising.

        • CodyGirl824

          Why don’t you post on Tom Gilson’s blog and allow him to respond? His blog today is about the discussion of his post here on Bob Seidensticker’s site and his response. I assure you that the conversation is much more respectful, civil and intelligent on Tom’s site than here.

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

          I assure you that the conversation is much more respectful, civil and intelligent on Tom’s site than here.

          You flatter yourself (or at least Tom’s blog).

          On another topic a few months back I was commenting on Tom’s blog. The pushback was quite harsh. Some people were civil, but a few weren’t. After a dozen comments or so, I just left.

          I have no problem with being the lone voice with many dissenters; I didn’t like the harsh tone. If you’re saying that you find that here, OK, you may well. And it might be nice if we made things more welcoming for non-atheists. But don’t pretend that Tom’s blog is a haven of civility.

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes, Bob. I remember your foray onto Thinking Christian. You attempted to dominate the conversation by talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Some folks were quite blunt about their reaction to this nonsense. Do you really think that your blog’s level of civility is at all comparable to Tom Gilson’s?

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

          “Dominate”? Hmm–maybe you’re thinking of someone else. When it’s Bob against a handful of Christians at a Christian blog, I don’t think I was doing any dominating. When it devolved into name calling, I bowed out as politely as I could.

          I have no problem with Christian blogs, with there being mostly Christians there, and with them stating their position frankly. Don’t pretend, however, that I got the red carpet treatment.

          You’ve hung around for far longer than I was able to put up with. I agree with you that some comments here are harsh, though I don’t know that you’re getting a tougher reception than I got.

        • JohnH2

          If you are handing out stars for people hanging out on opposing religion sites, can I get a gold one?

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

          Yes, yes–you deserve one, too.

        • MNb

          I concur (see BobS underneath). You have more courage than I have.

        • CodyGirl824

          Oh, please, Bob! Get real. I’ve been called names here that would make a sailor blush. Did you expect a “red carpet treatment”? It seems to me that you were expected to stick to the rules that keep the discussion on track and relevant, which you were unwilling to do. I take you at your word as to why you left, but then why “debate” Tom Gilson on your website, using a straw man version of his argument? I think that it is very telling that you see/saw your participation in Tom Gilson’s blog to be “Bob against a handful of Christians” instead of a discussion among peers, as in “Come, let us reason together.”

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

          Did you expect a “red carpet treatment”?

          I expected civil treatment. I didn’t get it.

          It seems to me that you were expected to stick to the rules that keep the discussion on track and relevant, which you were unwilling to do.

          You’ve lost me. What was my error?

          why “debate” Tom Gilson on your website, using a straw man version of his argument?

          Bold claim; no evidence. I never deliberately use straw man arguments. Show me.

          I think that it is very telling that you see/saw your participation in Tom Gilson’s blog to be “Bob against a handful of Christians” instead of a discussion among peers, as in “Come, let us reason together.”

          Because it actually was Bob against a handful of Christians? I’m just telling it like it is. It would’ve been great to find a “Come, let us reason together” attitude there. I didn’t.

        • CodyGirl824

          I was one of the several folks who pointed out your “error” in bringing the FSM into the conversation, as gently as I could, several times. To sum it up, we didn’t want to talk about a “god” that neither one of us believes exists that was concocted to mock and ridicule genuine, sincere and rational belief in God. I guess if you feel picked-on by Christians, it is reasonable that you don’t find happiness in seeking them out.

        • wtfwjtd

          “we didn’t want to talk about a “god” that neither one of us believes exists ”

          There you go again, with your fact-free assumptions and “Jenna says so” dogma. You feel the FSM mocks and ridicules you, simply because you are unable to differentiate to an outsider the difference between the god that you’ve picked out of a hat and the FSM. Well, maybe you should feel ridiculed Jenna, if the best you got is to stick your fingers in your ears and start singing whenever someone brings this up. You’d get a lot more respect here if you would actually attempt to respond to people’s legitimate criticisms of your religion, with something other than a “because Jenna says so” or one of your favorites, “I know you are, but what am I?” And the dodges don’t help you any either–most of us come here to discuss these issues, not to figure out word games that help us avoid this discussion. And like Kodie said, a good dose of honesty would be of big help too, your blatant assertions and falsehoods puts your credibility in the toilet real fast.

        • CodyGirl824

          Bob S. and I have agreed that atheists and Christians disagree on this “one point”: The existence of God. What “legitimate criticisms” of Christianity are you talking about, other than the fact that Christians believe in God?

        • wtfwjtd

          Let’s start with a simple one Cody–Why do you refuse to have any discussion at all about the Flying Spaghetti Monster or how your god doesn’t differ in any significant way from it?
          And, one more–why can’t you answer a simple inquiry about which parts of your bible you consider allegorical and which parts you consider literal, and how you determine the difference between the two?

        • CodyGirl824

          1) I refused to talk about the FSM on Tom Gilson’s website and on this website for reasons I have already stated: Atheists don’t believe that the FSM exists and neither do I. The first significant difference between the FSM and God is that there are zero believers in the FSM and there are billions upon billions of believers in God. This is an enormous and highly significant difference.
          2) How do I determine what parts of the OT are allegorical and which are “literal”? I look for the authors’ purpose and intent. Allegory is a teaching tool, or IOW, it has a didactic function. If the purpose of the passage of the Bible is framed in mytho-poetic language using metaphors and symbolism that cannot be interpreted in a literal sense, I conclude that the writing is allegorical. I also consult Bible concordances and scholarly writings and analysis of difficult passages, of which there are many. In any case, I have this question upper-most in my mind in studying the Bible: What are the ancient Hebrews teaching about God as they understood God in this passage?

          Do you think that every Christian posting here has a duty to answer your questions? Especially knowing, as I do, that I will be called names, insulted, ridiculed and dismissed no matter what I answer? I don’t really think that it is my job to answer questions about Christianity that you can and probably should answer for yourself, and probably already have, and that you probably won’t find satisfying in any case.

        • wtfwjtd

          Geez Jenna, this is the first time that I’m aware of that you have actually tried to give a real answer to a real question. Good for you!

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know. Why does it really matter what the Ancient Hebrews thought about God. They knew nearly nothing of the workings of the physical world around them, why would they have knowledge of God?

        • CodyGirl824

          This is called chronological snobbery.

        • Pofarmer

          What it is is a fact thats inconvenient to your position.

        • CodyGirl824

          You opinion about the ancient Hebrews’ level of knowledge about God and your expressed disinterest in what they knew about God is not a fact. It is an opinion and it is an opinion that exhibits chronological snobbery.

        • Kodie

          You think buzzwords make you sound like you know what you’re talking about. All cultures have origin myths, but you have snobbery of your own, rejecting them and all, without examination, you know? Like we keep talking about, remember? What is so special about Hebrews when they are stuck, it’s chronologically impossible for them to know more than they did, make up a story? You even made an excuse for god pandering to the Hebrews and not telling them the truth about the sky or the stars or the shape of the earth. They didn’t know any better, so god couldn’t… teach them?

          Of course to a rational person, the Hebrews invented god, like every culture invents a creator, and makes inaccurate estimates of their environment. Strangely, the more you know about the world, the more you frame it as getting to know this fictional creator, and the more we learn, the less an anthropomorphic creator is required to explain anything. You’re weird. It is not chronological snobbery to forgive ancient people for using their best skills to make estimations. What you’re really complaining about is how we have a problem in modern times with modern people clinging to ancient goat-herder myths. They didn’t know any better and you should.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not chronological snobbery to note that they ascribed nearly everything to God. They thought God or angels moved the sun across the sky and hid it behind a mountsin at night. They thought God flung meteors and comets from the heavens. They thought God opened the doors of heaven to make it rain. They thought the moon was a lesser sun. They thought eclipses were harbingers of great doom. They thought s new star appeared in the sky at the birth and death of kings and great people. Amd guess, what, the Romans “knew” just as much about Zues and Romulus. The Norse “knew” just as much about Odin and Thor. You are worshiping ignorance.

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

          Wrong again. You really need to take a breath before clicking Post.

          Chronological snobbery is the idea that “the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present, simply by virtue of its temporal priority.”

          Pofarmer made the correct point that the OT authors knew nothing of the correct physics and cosmology of the world. Chronological snobbery dismisses things without consideration. Pofarmer clearly considered.

        • CodyGirl824

          We can’t be sure that we know “correct physics and cosmology of the world” today. Who knows what tomorrow’s theories may be. So what does this have to do with what the ancient Hebrews knew about God? I find claims from any atheist that s/he is not interested in what the ancient Hebrews knew about God to be totally bogus since s/he most likely has read the OT and feels perfectly competent to offer his/her critique of it.

        • MNb

          The second part of this comment has nothing to do with Pofarmer’s point and thus is irrelevant. The first part misses the point. Today we are closer to “correct physics” than 2500 years ago. I may hope that our desendendants will be closer too in 4500 CE.

        • CodyGirl824

          Again, I ask: What does “correct physics” have to do with the ancient Hebrews’ knowledge of God?

        • Kodie

          Why do you call it knowledge instead of imaginary spooks?

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

          This is the place where you say, “OK, yeah, I think I did that ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ thing again. My bad for misusing the idea of chronological snobbery. Thanks for the correction. Next time I use the term, I’ll use it correctly.”

          No?

        • Pofarmer

          Because they substituted God for a vorrect understanding of Natural World around them. Proving, once again, that God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance.

        • CodyGirl824

          You are taking this theory that the ancient Hebrews “substituted God” for an understanding of the natural world (why did you capitalize the term?) from the Bible, right? This is merely your interpretation of a sort of pantheism or animism that pervades the holy scriptures, which were written for the explicit purpose of teaching the Hebrews about God’s power and wonders. So on what basis do you compare these writings about God with the Hebrews’ state of knowledge about the natural world? IOW, how do you know what they knew about “correct physics and cosmology”? It seems to me, based on Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, that the ancient Hebrews had a quite enlightened understanding of how the universe and planet earth were made. Our modern cosmology only confirms much of what they believed way back then.

        • Kodie

          Why do you capitalize “God” and “Bible”? The Hebrews had an origin myth, like, you know, every other culture? I must have said this to you before but you always ignore it. They had no frame of reference, they didn’t know, they made inaccurate estimations…. therefore the god they inserted into the origin of the universe is real? To you? Now? They weren’t enlightened, they had no perspective and they looked at the world and made up a story to fill in their gaps of ignorance.

          If you claim it’s chronological snobbery again, I will again call attention to your radical defense of their obvious ignorance. If they didn’t, and chronologically couldn’t, know any better, and you agree with that, why do you continue to use it as a defense?

          Your modern understanding is distorted through “theological implications”, which we’ve established, only goes one way, as theology is useless to understanding anything else.

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

          It seems to me, based on Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, that the ancient Hebrews had a quite enlightened understanding of how the universe and planet earth were made. Our modern cosmology only confirms much of what they believed way back then.

          Seems to you? Then perhaps you need to think a little more.

          The Sumerian cosmology, with a dome of water above the flat earth and an ocean of water beneath (one salt, one fresh), seems pretty good to you? That seems like what modern science has discovered?

          Go back to first grade.

        • MNb

          Rather replace “correct” by “better” or even “less wrong” understanding. Cody is right on this point. Of course she draws the wrong conclusion, but that’s what she’s Cody for.

        • CodyGirl824

          What conclusion is it of mine that you claim is wrong?

        • Kodie

          You’ve written (as of this post) 552 posts. Pick one.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yes, I will submit to your point here, as it is obviously correct.

        • Kodie

          I prefer to replace “Cody” with “Jenna” also.

        • MNb

          You should ask those ancient Hebrews. For them physics was strongly entangled with their “knowledge” of their god. Mutatis mutandis the same applies to all ancients.

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

          We can’t be sure that we know “correct physics and cosmology of the world” today.

          That’s true. Indeed, we can’t be sure we know the correct science about anything. Germ theory? Could be wrong—but that’s not likely. Big Bang and evolution? Could be wrong, but that’s not likely. More to the point, we have no option but to take the consensus view as our best guess at the moment of the truth.

          So what does this have to do with what the ancient Hebrews knew about God?

          I really have to explain it to you like you’re a child?

          You labeled Pofarmer’s comment as chronological snobbery. It’s not. I explained (as if I had to) the logic behind his statement and contrasted it with the definition of “chronological snobbery.” They didn’t match up.

          That’s the point.

        • Kodie

          Can you elaborate on what you mean by this? Because I would say, not knowing a lot about how the world works because how would they, they might be prone, as cultures often do, to make up an origin story. Just because you feel created doesn’t mean you are. It just means that people these days can be just as ignorant, only now, willfully so.

        • CodyGirl824

          Atheists who argue against God based on the FSM have no argument at all. But this is true. I can believe that atheists don’t believe in God for the same reason they don’t believe in the FSM.

        • Greg G.

          The FSM is an argument against the rationality of the belief in God. If it feels like ridicule to you, it is because belief in the FSM would be ridiculous but no more so than the belief in any deity with the same evidence.

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

          Atheists who argue against God based on the FSM have no argument at all.

          Do you even know what the atheist rationale for bringing up the FSM is? Show us that you do–explain it.

          Or do you think that atheists deliberately present an empty argument and then stand there with a satisfied smile and hands on hips and think that they’ve actually said something interesting?

        • CodyGirl824

          Yes.

        • MNb

          Yet you complain about atheists being rude. The splinter and log thing in NT is not for you, is it?

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

          If that was the answer to the second question, the gulf between us is wider than I thought.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Atheists who argue against God based on the FSM have no argument at all.”

          Atheists don’t have to argue against your god or any other god–the deafening silence of your imagined god, and all the others, settles the matter of their non-existence decisively and irrefutably.

        • CodyGirl824

          This is equivalent to a deaf person declaring that because he hears no sound, that proves that there is no such thing as sound, decisively and irrefutably. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear.

        • wtfwjtd

          Using your analogy, I guess the entire human race is deaf. Touche.

        • CodyGirl824

          The only members of the human race who are deaf to God’s Word are atheists. Who knows why they choose not to hear God like the rest of us.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The only members of the human race who are deaf to God’s Word are atheists. Who knows why they choose not to hear God like the rest of us.”

          You *are* speaking metaphorically here, right? Or you telling me you physically *hear* your god speak to you?

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

          Really? The Hindus and Buddhists hear God’s word? I didn’t know they were Christian. Talk about a big tent!

        • MNb

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_counter
          Can you show me your god-detector?

        • TurelieTelcontar

          “This is equivalent to a deaf person declaring that because he hears no
          sound, that proves that there is no such thing as sound, decisively and
          irrefutably” while the sound is omnipotent and really really eager to be heard, according to you. (or at least most Christians. Perhaps you think god isn’t eager to be heard, and just fine with tormenting most people for eternity for being unable to feel him)

        • MNb

          “The first significant difference between the FSM and God is that there are zero believers in the FSM”
          How do you know? Have you asked all pastafarians? Or is it just your underbelly speaking again?

          “Atheists don’t believe that the FSM exists”
          That’s correct by definition, but also nicely ignores the point: atheists don’t believe that the FSM exists for exactly the same reasons they don’t believe that your christian god (or any other version) exists. So there is a good chance that if you realize why you don’t believe in the FSM, the Roman-Greek Pantheon, Germanic polytheism or the hindu set of gods you might understand why we don’t believe your christian god either.
          So it’s a valid analogy. Of course you are no way obliged to answer this challenge or any other if you don’t like so for any reason, but the consequence is of course your case becomes weaker.

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

          Atheists don’t believe that the FSM exists and neither do I.

          True. Irrelevant.

          The first significant difference between the FSM and God is that there are zero believers in the FSM and there are billions upon billions of believers in God.

          It would indeed be fun to chat about the many differences between two very different things, but that’s not my point. My point was (I hope you’re sitting) the similarities between the FSM and God.

        • Kodie

          The FSM stands in for all those other gods that even more billions upon billions (can you do math, by the way? Add that to the list of things you’re terrible at – last I checked, 2 billion was, at most, “billions without any other billions”) that the rest of the world believes is true. So your beliefs are countered in this world by a majority who disbelieve them. The atheist is hesitant to choose any of them for you to describe your aversion to, and by the way, there is no rational argument for your religion that we don’t also have for the FSM, and no rational argument to reject the FSM that we don’t have for Christianity – at one time in history, nobody believed in Jesus either. It’s called “word of mouth,” oral history, what have you. He had a pretty good shot of never being heard of. That is the plan that god had? If it were true, it could have died with the people who knew Jesus. It hardly spread like wildfire. 2000 years ago, Jesus was the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and believing in this ridiculous fiction could apparently get you killed. I guess that’s supposed to be a selling point?

          Yes, if you’re going to come here to discuss the topic, it would help if you actually addressed it. What you did the first time was demand that the topic be changed to what you misread it as being, and the second time, you got on people’s cases for changing the subject because you found it “helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.”

          It’s not our job to listen to you blather on and on all your nonsense and poor reading skills, idiotic logic, and magical theological associations you pull out of your butt. Why should we make assumptions about Christians? Every Christian can at the very least be considerate about the topic at hand and want to discuss it, rather than change the topic. We’re not here to be converted. You don’t think anyone has a legitimate argument against the “real” god, the same one every other Christian thinks no atheist actually understands. And yet you don’t have any argument for him. You were insulting so you were insulted. You exposed your own lack of intelligence and discernment of what you are mislabeling “evidence”. If you can’t withstand criticism, direct, honest, logical criticism, why are you even here?

          No answer is satisfying because none of them bring the evidence. “Theological implications” aren’t evidence, and neither is demographic data, and neither is brain wave research, and neither is the big bang. We try to tell you why this isn’t satisfying. To accuse us of not being satisfied with any answer does not address what’s wrong with your answers. It certainly doesn’t address what about other religion’s claims you can just dismiss without examination. We can dismiss yours without examination, because it’s just as stupid and silly and fictional. Prove it’s not.

        • RichardSRussell

          The first significant difference between the FSM and God is that there are zero believers in the FSM and there are billions upon billions of believers in God. This is an enormous and highly significant difference.

          And at one time there were zero believers in a round Earth and billions and billions of believers in a flat Earth. Did that make the round Earth not worth talking about?

        • Kodie

          Do you think you’re an honest person?

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

          And I responded, as gently as I could, several times, that the point of the FSM is that, if it’s ridiculous, why is Yahweh any less so? No, the point isn’t to ridicule your position and make you cry.

        • CodyGirl824

          Make me cry? Can’t you refrain from this kind of comment? Yes, I/we know that you find Yahweh to be ridiculous. This is no news to us, but I assume, and I think my fellow posters on TC also assume that if you are/were sincere in wanting to understand why we believe in Yahweh that you would agree to talk about Yahweh and would understand our desire not to stray from discussion of Yahweh. Apparently, we were incorrect in making this charitable and respectful assumption about your intentions in coming to the TC website. You have created your own forum for talking about how ridiculous you find belief in Yahweh to be instead.

        • Kodie

          One might think the best place to get an answer about what Christians really think is a Christian blog, but all you want to insulate yourselves and just talk about Yahweh, and come up with another pile of manure to respond to any criticisms an atheist could come up with. You’re not personally prepared, nor is any Christian commenter or the blogger prepared to address actual criticism. We’re all talking about Yahweh, I don’t know why you can’t actually defend your beliefs with evidence when we ask. What else is there to talk about it for you?

          Oh yeah:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          When asked a question that would assist any of us in understanding Christianity, you block every avenue and just shovel some more. You’re sure, but we don’t know why you’re sure of one faith when there are others that make similar claims. All you’ve said is you’re a monotheist, and keep saying we don’t understand the god you’re talking about, and 2.3 billion Christians can’t be wrong, even though most of them don’t adhere to beliefs like yours, and you can’t read data without inferring whatever the hell you like from it and disregarding any fact that doesn’t fit neatly. You’re really dishonest, not just regular ignorant.

        • Kodie

          It wasn’t gentle to pile on with accusations of idolatry. Sure, Bob believes in another god than you do. On what rational basis do you reject his claims? You had an opportunity to discuss something actual, and you all muffed it. When you came here, we opened it up for you to answer these same questions and you called it a red herring and refused (STILL!) to answer it. It’s idolatry, apparently, for you to even consider for argument’s sake, what another person sees and believes in – what convinces you about Christianity that is not convincing about any other religion. We got a lot of chat from you, but you still haven’t answered the question.

          You have “dispensed with and dismissed” our lack of belief in your god to open the window of opportunity to talk about all your bullshit, which we have repeatedly called you on. If that’s not polite, don’t have conversations. You deserve a lot of scorn, but people are actively engaging you to elicit such a discussion that you want to avoid so you can keep talking about other dopey things that only make your religion look stupider than the FSM.

          I guess if you feel picked-on by Christians, it is reasonable that you don’t find happiness in seeking them out.

          Ah yeah, ad hominem too. You know what ad hominem actually is? Like when Christians think “idolatry” is an argument. So what. A majority of believers over the earth believe something you do not. You fall on an insult to discredit Bob’s argument. That’s not enough – why do you think so, why do you disagree? The reason entering conversations with Christians is so defeating is because Christians are kind of assholes who don’t know how to have a grown-up intellectual conversation with someone who believes something else and ask questions and ask for evidence the way we try to treat Christians. You mock someone and make assumptions and then have the superficiality to call the “gentle”. Is that how Jesus teaches you to behave? You particularly try people’s patience, but at least everyone who has engaged you has attempted to discuss your evidence. All you have are “theological implications”, which is a one-way processing of information to be distorted to fit your presuppositions. If Christians didn’t try to pretend to be smart, we might actually get along, but you’re uneducated, Jenna, for as much as you read, you don’t know what the hell you’re reading and what it ACTUALLY means. You only know what you wish it means, and then you assert that it means that.

        • Kodie

          You dismiss the FSM and laughed at a visitor for idolatry, means you don’t actually get what the FSM symbolizes and are unwilling to address arguments for the existence of any god with “reason”, not someone else’s and not even yours. Let us kiss god’s butt or get out, more like it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Exactly, either start with their assumptions or leave, they aren’t interested in defending their assertions with reason or evidence.

        • CodyGirl824

          Kodie,

          I dismiss the FSM because atheists don’t believe such a god exists and neither do I. We agree. So what is there to talk about?

        • Kodie

          It would have made more sense if you all had approached Bob with something like that. But the FSM is as made up as Jesus and your god. You don’t have a rational basis for believing your god is any truer than a cartoon made-up god that was only made up to make such a point. You have not given us here a rational basis for your belief and you didn’t have one when Bob visited TC. You do not have a rational basis for rejecting the FSM that we do not also have to reject your god. That’s what you could fucking talk about next time someone tries to engage you in an intellectual conversation about beliefs. You seem to be under the impression that all we need to talk about are your beliefs.

          You said this about a week ago:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          I find it helpful in discussions with Christians to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God exists. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster symbolizes, a belief in God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of atheism.

          Do you fucking get how rude you are and have been? Stop it with your bullshit crying that nobody was nice to you. You came here to debate and so far you just… you can’t even read for starters. You are oblivious and un-self-aware. You lack any background on logic and logical fallacies, although you are quick to call “red herring” when people want to understand by what exact method you used to reject the claims for any other god but yours, or any other subject you don’t want to talk about because you don’t have an answer.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy shot. Wish there were some rules here to keep the discussion relevant.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, everyone called it idolatry. It was like going in a parrot store. You all thought it was pretty clever and I actually thought it was stupid. You still never ever have answered what your method is for deciding that all the claims for other gods are false. Your only answer still is that you’re a monotheist. You picked a Christian god out of a hat and ventured to find things that fit in with it, randomly mislabeling anything “evidence”. We like the FSM and you call that idolatry, which is a serious accusation. We believe (to make a point) in another god. and you don’t believe in FSM because that’s simply idolatry. People who believe as sincerely as you believe in your god are, to you, idolaters. That’s not a method for addressing their claims and telling us why those gods can’t exist. We actually address your claims before dismissing them.

          So I wouldn’t call it civil if mocking someone who believes in another god, if the FSM weren’t symbolic. You actually, none of you, seem to even get it, why I don’t tend to use it. We showed you a pie graph and you still claim plurality of Christianity convinces you, making the majority of believers “idolaters” to you with no examination of their claims. You call that being civil?

          And when you came here the first time as Jenna Black, you were as abrasive as a punch in the face. You still are. Don’t complain about people being uncivil to you or compare blog populations on whether or not they are nicer to visitors. Say something right once in a while, and you might get into a decent conversation. Continue being like the asshole who said this:

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist. Then we open the window of opportunity to talk about what it is that monotheism deifies, God the Creator. This is essential to any understanding of Christianity.

          and I don’t believe you’ll ever get treated like the intellect you deludedly believe yourself to be. Our understanding of Christianity (from you) is that it replaces one’s brains with cotton and takes away one’s ability to read for comprehension.

        • RichardSRussell

          Shoot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is directly comparable to God, so sure, why not?

        • Kodie

          I don’t find lying to be civil behavior. You can coat a lot with sugar, that don’t make it polite conversation.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s just the tired old ontological argument, re-stated to be even more ridiculous, if that’s possible. More crazy assertions without the slightest shred of evidence to back them up.

        • AdamHazzard

          Yup, the ontological argument, through the lens of Lewis’s “liar, lunatic or lord.”

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          AdamHazzard, this is not what I’m saying; “Gilson is saying that the narrative of the divinity of Jesus can’t be ‘legend’ because the ‘ultimate power and [the] practice of perfect other-orientedness’ attributed to Jesus is too extraordinary to be fictive.” The fact that you think it is shows that you haven’t read and/or understood the article in which I present my argument.

          Any effort you put into debunking that position is effort that’s irrelevant to my argument.

        • AdamHazzard

          Gilson:

          That means that if his story as portrayed in the Gospels really were invented, then those who thought him up concocted a character far greater than any other in all the history of human imagination. No one else has demonstrated the ability to compose a character anything like that. Maybe someone could have, but the fact is, no one has. That’s a hint—not proof, but a pretty good hint—that his greatness surpasses the reach of human imagination: that he is unimaginably great, in the most literal sense of the word.

          In other words, too extraordinary to be fictive.

        • http://www.thinkingchristian.net Tom Gilson

          AdamHazzard, if you take it out of context you get an argument that is (a) easy to ridicule and (b) one that I’m not making. Feel free to ridicule any argument that I’m not making.

        • AdamHazzard

          On your site you say, “The story of Jesus is unimaginably great; therefore it’s true. That’s a new way I’ve just thought of to summarize my recent Touchstone article.”

          In other words, too extraordinary to be fictive.

        • MNb

          As I have pointed out before Franciscus of Assisi obviously is a character greater than Jesus of Nazareth, because the first extended his unselfish love not only to his cohumans, but also to animals. According to TG’s logic Franciscus is the son of god, not Jesus.

        • SparklingMoon

          the narrative of the divinity of Jesus can’t be ‘legend’ because the ‘ultimate power and [the] practice of perfect other-orientedness’ attributed to Jesus is too extraordinary to be fictive.”
          …………………………………………………………..
          All wisdom and sagacity lies in recognizing in this very life the beliefs and principles on which depends the bliss or damnation of the hereafter and thereby establishing oneself on and shunning falsehood. Man should base his delicate beliefs — which he considers to be the basis of his salvation and eternal well-being — on absolute and decisive proofs rather than being proud and enamoured by the tales one was told by his mother or nanny in childhood. To cling onto myths and conjectures for which there is no credible argument amounts to selfdeception.

          Every rational person knows and understands that all Divine Books and the principles contained in them —which different nations regard as the means to their salvation and to winning divine approval — ought not only to possess the testimony of the divine word, but must also be verifiable through reason and logic. While it is true that divine revelation is the most trustworthy source of knowledge, absolute certainty being dependent on it, it is equally true that if a scripture makes a claim that is clearly in conflict with reason and logic, such a claim will have to be considered false and such a scripture will have to be regarded as fabricated or interpolated on account of its irrational teachings.

          If the truth or falsity of something, or its logical possibility or impossibility, rests on the verdict of reason, then the principles on which salvation is said to depend must also be validated by the same authority. If it is not possible to prove the various doctrines espoused by various faiths through rational arguments — and instead, they are proven wrong, incredible or impossible — how are we to know whose doctrines are true and whose are false, or that an ancient scripture of the Hindus is invalid and the Books of the Children of Israel are authentic. Moreover, if there is no rational way to distinguish between truth and falsehood, how would a seeker after truth tell them apart so as to embrace truth and shun falsehood. Moreover, how would anyone be held accountable before God for not believing in such doctrines? (Ruhani Khazain)

        • 90Lew90

          Good story. “While it is true that divine revelation is the most trustworthy source of knowledge, absolute certainty being dependent on it, it is equally true that if a scripture makes a claim that is clearly in conflict with reason and logic, such a claim will have to be considered false and such a scripture will have to be regarded as fabricated or interpolated on account of its irrational teachings.”

          While it is true that A is the most trustworthy source of knowledge, it is equally true that bits of A are frequently wrong and must be fabricated? Non sequitur city, Arizona.

        • SparklingMoon

          While it is true that A is the most trustworthy source of knowledge, it is equally true that bits of A are frequently wrong and must be fabricated
          ——————————————————–
          A (Revelation of a prophet) is the most trustworthy source of knowledge, it is equally true that bits of A(Revelation that with the passage of time has been changed by human hand and explanations) are frequently wrong and must be fabricated.

          Scotus in the ninth century AD had set the noble example of bringing about a measure of truce between faith and reason. He maintained that truth cannot be reached through reason alone, but reason and faith had a part to play together. He suggested that in the beginning religious beliefs were founded on rational grounds. Convictions can not be born out of mere conjectures. There has to be some logical basis for the building of convictions. Whether it is done advertently or inadvertently,for every conviction, as it is born, there has to be some rational basis. In short, Scotus believed that true faith should not be equated with myth. It should be understood to have been founded on some solid, rational platform. In the beginning when faith took root in the human mind, it could not have happened without some reason and logic to support it, he assumed. Yet with the passage of time, that link must have faded out and was no longer observable. From then on faith appeared to be suspended in mid-air without the pillars of reason to support it. Yet its firmness and tenacity which have stood the test of time are indicative that it could not have reached this high level of conviction altogether without reason or logic. In conclusion, Scotus advises that the validity of one’s faith should be examined from time to time according to the dictates of rationality. If the two appear to be conflicting then one must follow reason.Thus reason will always hold an edge over faith.

          Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has said:
          ”Irrational doctrines whose falsity is manifestly established by reason can never be accepted as true, for otherwise, conclusive rational arguments would lose their credibility. And when the very beliefs (of a religion) that were regarded as the basis for salvation turn out to be wrong, those who place their faith in them will surely be denied salvation and earn everlasting torment and eternal chastisement. This is because the beliefs they called their own proved to be false and the true beliefs that were sanctioned by reason had already been repudiated by them. This becomes evident in this very life—one who adheres to illogical and false beliefs and refuses to accept those that have been shown to be true has to face a lot of embarrassment, particularly when confronted by men of knowledge. He is even reproached by his own conscience for holding such absurd and illogical beliefs. This is a punishment he suffers even in this world.”

  • Ron

    Jesus’ “self-sacrifice” can be summarized in ten words:

    God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself.

    That’s not exactly a strong selling point in favor of his awesomeness.

    http://atheistforum.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/jesus-knock-knock.jpg

    • Pofarmer

      When you put it that way, it sounds rather circular.

  • George

    So what exactly is wrong with polygamy?

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

      I don’t have a strong stance against it. It certainly is the odd man out in the list above for me. However, I put it there because many Christians reject it–that whole “God clearly made marriage for one man and one woman” thing.

    • wtfwjtd

      From a sociological standpoint, there is actually a pretty good case that polygamy has long-term undesirable and harmful effects on society. Without getting into too much detail, studies and actual societies have demonstrated a tendency to have rich men marry a large percentage of the available and desirable women, which leaves a large underclass of poorer, single, and generally angry young men. You can imagine where this goes from here–these men tend to commit all kinds of crime and mayhem, and as they feel little stake in the society around them this is where they vent their frustration and anger.

      • Greg G.

        Before WWII in Vietnam, the man could take extra wives and the first wife didn’t have a say in the matter. After the French returned to Indochina, they outlawed polygamy. Then after the American War, the heavy losses left a gender imbalance in the country.

        With the practice being illegal, the first wife had the power in that type of relationship. AIUI, it works out well.

        EDIT: That might not work after the gender balance works itself out in the next generation.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, in war-torn areas the practice becomes much more sustainable, because with all the males killing each other the result is that there’s a lot more women than men. It’s a complicated social construct that has fared well in some circumstances and not so good in others. Definitely not an issue of morality though, as a lot of the religious types like to imagine, just other societal factors that happen to be in play at any given time.

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

          Reminds me a bit of the boys in polygamous Mormon communities (source: National Geographic article a few years ago). You’d think that, in a patriarchal society, they’d have the power, but the reverse is true. They’re walking on eggshells, since the leaders are looking for reasons to expel young men. They want a gender imbalance.

      • 90Lew90

        There’s also sociological evidence that pretty unpleasant hierarchies form among the women in these relationships. There is almost invariably a hierarchy imposed by the male, and also imposed among the females themselves. In the long run, these tend to make for trouble and not much happiness for certain individuals within the arrangement. I’m not a prude, but I’m not that keen on the idea of polygamy as some sort of institution.

    • RichardSRussell

      I dunno. I keep hearing that it takes a whole village to raise a child, but when push comes to shove we can’t even get a “village” of 3 people recognized.

      I’d think that, at a minimum, it would be nice to have a tie-breaking vote.

    • Without Malice

      On one level there’s nothing wrong with. People should be able to have any kind of relationship they want with other people. On a legal level it gets really complicated, especially in a society where men and women have equal rights. If a man can have more than one wife then all of his wives can have more than one husband, so there really is no family boundary and marriage in a classical sense becomes meaningless. But if two or three women want to live with one man, or two or three men want to live with one women, I don’t see anything wrong with it. In California a married couple can cohabitate with whoever they want as long as they don’t claim to be married to the others as well, but in some states, like Utah, a married couple cannot cohabit with a single adult or they call it polygamy, even if they don’t claim to be legally married. The laws in Utah are ridiculous of course and are a government intrusion into people’s private affairs. But the state is more or less controlled by the Mormon church, which is rather ironic, since the Mormons first moved to Utah to be out from under the thumb of the government but ended up becoming a state with one of the most intrusive governments in America.

  • AdamHazzard

    A character who appears in narratives earlier than Jesus and is described as having equal power and benevolence is Yahweh. (I would argue about “benevolence” in that sentence, but presumably Tom Gilson would not.)

    Christians associated extant claims about Yahweh with Jesus as soon as they began to describe him as “God.” No stunning imaginative leap was required. The astonishing powers ascribed to Jesus weren’t novel; they were simply borrowed.

    • wtfwjtd

      “The astonishing powers ascribed to Jesus weren’t novel; they were simply borrowed.”

      And not just borrowed, but made-up. We are told this is god incarnate, who can do literally anything, and all we get are a few healings of sick folk and parlor-variety magic tricks. Big deal.

      • AdamHazzard

        Exactly. What are attributed to Jesus are the standard miracle-worker stories, plus (eventually) the identification of Jesus with the God of the Hebrew Bible.

        Hardly an “unprecedented ” story that “surpasses the reach of human imagination,” as Gilson would have us believe.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you by any chance read Randal Helms “The Gospel Fictions.”?

        • AdamHazzard

          No — do you recommend it?

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, it very well illustrates what you are talking about, plus, it shows the OT stories that are being copied.

        • AdamHazzard

          Pofarmer, Greg G., recommendations much appreciated. Thanks!

        • Greg G.

          Richard Carrier reviews The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark by Dennis MacDonald. I recommend reading MacDonald’s book before Helms’ book because he explains mimesis and shows how Mark used it on the Greek literature. Then when you read Gospel Fictions, you see Mark did the same with the Hebrew literature and when Helms mentions Mark using “oral tradition”, you have another idea where Mark got that information. Helms’ Who wrote the New Testament? is good, too.

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

          What I find especially telling are the healings where Jesus makes magical balm made of spit and dirt. The blind man can see better, and Jesus has to have another go to finish the job. I’m guessing this comes from a culture where life fluids had power.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, but Matthew improved that story. And it didn’t take a whole day for the fig tree to wither. Matthew said it began to wither immediately.

          That’s a good argument against Tom’s argument, I expect, but I haven’t seen it yet.

        • wtfwjtd

          And, don’t forget he also has to recite the magic words. Without the “abracadabra” or “alakzam” his “potions” of spit and dirt won’t have the desired effect.

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

          It’s almost like the NT contains just a collection of various ideas about how healing magic would work …

        • wtfwjtd

          Interesting that you should put it that way, Robert Price says that’s the exact reason that those phrases were retained in Mark–so sorcerers could be sure and use the correct phrase for a “healing miracle” as a translated phrase wouldn’t work.
          If you haven’t done so already, a good, long look at the healing techniques and demon exorcisms in the gospels would make a great series of posts. As a fundie, it always made me squirm when the subject of demon exorcism came up–these are many of the miracles attributed to Jesus. I was faced with a dilemma–accept the gospel accounts of exorcism and be ridiculed, or deny them and admit that parts of the gospels are false? Like I said, this and other related dilemmas and criticisms would make a great series of posts, I think.

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

          Thanks for the suggestion. I did this post a year ago. Does this cover it?

        • wtfwjtd

          That does cover the subject pretty good Bob, I hadn’t found that post yet, thanks. You didn’t cover the magic phrases though! That’s certainly not enough by itself for a post, but it might be a seed for something a little more substantial. Price talks about how the Christian healers of this era would often recite entire bible passages as part of their healing ritual,(and magic phrases of course); they had to get this idea from somewhere. And, he says that Josephus discusses healing techniques of various traveling magic men. I guess a question to be answered by such a post would be, “how does the healing techniques of Jesus compare to other sorcerers of the time?”, or something similar. I don’t know how much digging it would take to uncover some of this info, but it would be quite interesting to see how Jesus compared to his healing/magic contemporaries. He also says that there are complete volumes of healing/magic techniques that survive from the 1st century; again, I don’t know how much digging it would take, but if it could be accessed fairly readily one might be able to draw a good pic of the traveling magician and compare him to Jesus.
          More helpful info in such a post would be to use the critique of Celsus, and maybe a few others. Basically he didn’t deny Jesus doing tricks, he just said that Jesus was a bastard child from Egypt who moved to Palestine to practice the magic he learned in Egypt. Origen’s “Contra Celsus ” looks like a pretty weak refutation, and it might help make a more complete picture. I think it was MNb who stated here that this kind of portrayal of Jesus was even harder for Christians to refute and deal with than Jesus Myth, and in some ways I have to agree. I guess the key to determine if this would worth doing would be how readily accessible the above mentioned info might be.

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

          Good idea. I found ““He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”)” from Mark 7:34.

          Are there more?

        • wtfwjtd

          There’s at least one more that I’m aware of, Mark 5:42 has “Talitha koum”– “little girl, I say to you, get up”. Mark 9:25 don’t have magic words, but we get a “you deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again!” He then tells the disciples in v. 29 that this kind (of evil spirit) can only come out by prayer”.
          Speaking of which, this whole demon-evil spirit thing really backs the Christian into a corner. Do Christians today really believe in body-less spirits that can fly around and “possess” people? How about cause disease? If not, what was Jesus doing? If so, why don’t we see this in our modern society? This is one place where the Christian’s belief is directly falsifiable with modern science,medicine, and evidence.

        • MNb

          “Do Christians today really believe in body-less spirits that can fly around and “possess” people?”
          Pope Francis apparently does. So does this orthodox-reformed Dutch preacher:

          http://www.prekendiespreken.nl/preken/dutch/mar09v14.html

          The sermon is from 2002. Dutch orthodox-reformed being notoriously antipapal (Dutch Rebellion and stuff) it’s means something that they have this in common.

        • wtfwjtd

          And this is precisely one of the reasons why we need to spotlight these absurdities.

        • MNb

          Be assured that I’m more than happy to provide the Dutch share of these absurdities! We can’t let the USA have the monopoly.

  • Pofarmer

    Personal note. I mentioned a while back that the hospital my wife works at got taken over by a .catholic Hospital chain. Just found out today they won’t let their OBGYN’s perform tubal ligations. This is the only hospital in this little community, and they just gave folks a reason to go elsewhere.

    • Greg G.

      My father and step-mother wanted to have one child together, but they got a surprise second one so she had her tubes tied. Then she had a third kid.

      I just wonder if she was at a hospital with a name that started with “St.”? Might they have just told her they would do it but not, expecting her to hit menopause before the next pregnancy?

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

      But if it’s the local hospital, they perhaps can’t go elsewhere.

      Pretty cool trick: you’re not a Catholic and have no problem with this procedure? Well, guess what–you’ll be acting like a Catholic too, ’cause now you can’t get this done.

      • Pofarmer

        Got to go 40 miles to the next nearest hospital. And if you happen to have insurance through this hospital-yep, still screwed. Religion poisons everything.

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

          We’re getting into that situation here in WA state, with the Catholic hospital chains gobbling up local hospitals and imposing their dictates. Seems like a violation of state law to me.

        • Pofarmer

          I can’t decide whether to start with American Atheists, the MO dept of Health, or my local State Representative, who happens to be Catholic.

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

          Or the FFRF. Or the ACLU here in WA state that’s working the issue from our side.

          Perhaps any of these might give you suggestions for what you might do next.

        • Pofarmer

          I can honestly say I never thought I’d have a use for the ACLU.

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

          The ACLU gets a bad rap from within the conservative community, but I’m not sure why. They’re trying to support free speech for everyone, liberals and conservatives.

        • Asemodeus

          That’s the problem. Conservatives don’t believe in freedom of anything. Religion, speech, marriage, etc etc. They are extreme authoritarians and rabid ethnocentrists. That only their twisted warped view of America is the TRUE AMERICA, and such freedoms are only reserved for people that think exactly as they do.

          That is why you see them constantly harp on multiculturalism as though it was some great and terrible evil. They cannot allow themselves to internalize a America where different people can work and live together because then they would have to be equal to brown and black people. That would be horrifying.

        • Pofarmer

          I think it just depends on who’s ox is being gored.

        • wtfwjtd

          It’s primarily because a lot of their activity is devoted to fighting Christian privilege. This don’t go over too well with fundies, who view the gov’t primarily as an enforcer for them to use to enslave the rest of us with their particular brand of crazy.

        • Pofarmer

          Is the ACLU making any headway there?

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

          They’re waiting for a good case of someone injured. I guess simply pointing out that the state laws are being ignored isn’t compelling enough.

        • Pofarmer

          How do you prove harm by not being allowed to have a safe, effective procedure that is generally uncontroversial and widely accepted?

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

          When someone comes in with an ectopic pregnancy, for example, the hospital would be willing to do surgery but not give an abortifaciant. That’s the kind of injury they’re looking for.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        If you can’t make ‘em (X religion), you can make ‘em at least act (X religion), and that’s obviously just as good. When I deconverted, my preacher husband at the time was way more upset that I wasn’t attending church or upholding the Happy Christian Marriage illusion for his benefit than he ever was about my “soul.” If I’d just gone to church for him and bitten my tongue every Sunday and let him go prance around the dais preaching without anybody ever guessing I was actually an apostate, then he’d have been perfectly content.

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

          I wonder how many pew potatoes are actually unbelievers that just talk the talk.

          Have you heard the “Living After Faith” podcast? A local ex-pastor member of the Clergy Project hosts it, along with his wife. He had some tough issues on leaving the church. FYI, in case that might be interesting.

        • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

          I haven’t, but I will check it out! Thanks for the suggestion. I have a lot of respect for the Clergy Project and what they’d doing.

        • wtfwjtd

          You have had a difficult and painful journey my friend, and you definitely have my sincerest best wishes moving forward with your rational and evidence-based life.

        • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

          <3 and thank you. I'm doing fine. I've been out for 20+ years now. It bothers me a lot to see Christians demanding that non-Christians act Christian just so they’ll feel more comfortable; that’s why I’m online and why I speak out the way I do.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh shit, that sounds like the exact counter of my own story.

    • MNb

      Incredible. Dutch hospitals are partly financed by

      http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nederlandse_Zorgautoriteit

      something like Dutch Health Authority. It is a more or less independent governmental body supervising the health market. It’s generally (not in detail) responsible to Dutch government and in the end to Dutch parliament. I think you can guess what would happen if any Dutch christian hospital would try something like this.
      It’s things like this that fuel Dutch anti-American bias. There is even a Dutch expression for this bias. It translates as “American mess”.

      • Pofarmer

        I think I am going to contact American Atheists, and see if there is any precedent for dealing with something like this.

        • MNb

          For the sake of human civilization (and also for the sake of debunking Dutch prejudices) I sincerely hope you will succeed.

  • RichardSRussell

    “Oh, Jesus, you’re so fine,
    You’re so fine you blow my mind.”
    —Tom Gilson, with apologies to Toni Basil

    • MNb

      Well, I guess that’s better than
      “Oh Jesus, you’re so sick,
      you’re so sick ……”

  • SparklingMoon

    Jesus is perfect—too perfect to be merely literature or legend.
    ——————————————————————————
    One strong argument in support of the truth of a Prophet is that he should bring about spiritual reform on a large scale. We find very little of this in the life of Jesus (as described in the Gospels). He had twelve disciples and their example is most discouraging. They professed great devotion towards Jesus but their example was unmatched in treachery and cowardice. Did it behove a disciple to betray his Prophet and beloved leader to his enemies in return for thirty pieces of silver? What was it that compelled his principal disciple Peter to abuse and curse him to his face? Was it appropriate for his disciples to desert him and disappear as soon as he was arrested? Should this be the attitude of those whose beloved Prophet is apprehended on a capital charge?Afterwards creature worshippers invented all sorts of stories and elevated Jesus to heaven; but the record of their lack of faith is still preserved in the Gospels.

    There is no trace at all of the Trinity in the Gospels.The expression ‘son of God’, which had been applied to thousands of people from Adamas downwards in the scriptures: (( ”Israel is My son, even My first born.” (Exodus 4:22) Also I will make him (David) Myfirst born, higher than the kings of the earth. (Psalms 89:27)
    He (Solomon) shall be My son, and I will be his Father. (1.Chron 22:10) ”Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (Matt. 5:9)) was applied to Jesus as well. Later, it was exaggerated and was seized upon for the deification of Jesus. He never claimed that he was God nor did he ever express a desire for suicide. If he had done so, his name would have been erased from the list of the righteous in accordance with the Word of God.

    The truth appears to be — and this can be gathered from a study of the writings that are complementary to the Gospels — that all this was a device of Paul who had recourse to deep cunning like political adventurers. The son of Mary.. was bound by the eternal guidance that had been prescribed for mankind from the beginning as he preached to his followers: (Mark 12:29-30,32)”The first Of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, is One Lord: and thou shall love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: This is the first commandment.. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth; for there is One God; and there is none other but He. (Ruhani Khazain)

  • Tony Hoffman

    Gilson’s argument (?) seems like a bad mash-up of the ontological argument and an argument from personal incredulity.

    Like the ontological argument, it’s strength is that it offers so many ways to be summarily dismissed it’s hard to know where to start. If Jesus is the greatest character that could ever be imagined, why is it that I can imagine an even greater Jesus than the one in the NT? Is the greatest character even a definable concept? What about self-sacrificing precedents like Prometheus? Why would the source for any novel literary construction be considered divine (are any other literary innovations, such as the anti-hero, impossible for humans to imagine) when all others are clearly an invention that comes from the process of story-telling? If I haven’t familiarized myself with other legends, myths, religions, and non-Christian history, does that mean that those things need not be considered? If I can write a story about a character that differs in some ways from any other recorded character, does that mean that the character about whom I wrote actually existed?

    I could go on for some time. But some arguments, like some philosophical questions, are just so badly formed that they don’t really deserve any response. And that, I suppose, would have been the best response to an “argument” like Gilson’s.

    • wtfwjtd

      “Argument from personal incredulity?” More obfuscation from a BS artist.

  • wtfwjtd

    I knew this post about Gilson’s “too great to be made up” bit about Jesus reminded me of a news article I read a few years ago. Remember Samantha Brick? The woman who was just “too pretty” and hated by other women everywhere: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2124246/Samantha-Brick-downsides-looking-pretty-Why-women-hate-beautiful.html

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

      OMG! Samantha Brick must be God! It’s just not possible for those elements to come together in so perfect an arrangement!

      • MNb

        Meeh – not my type. Then again, neither is Jesus.

      • wtfwjtd

        No one could have ever even dreamed of such a beautiful woman. Therefore, all the stories about her must be true! She must really be the most beautiful woman who ever lived!

    • hector_jones

      Just when I was beginning to forget all about that poor deluded woman you go and bring it all back to me like it just happened yesterday.

      • wtfwjtd

        You’ve just gotten a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the Bible Belt!

        • Pofarmer

          It’s hard to get that Catholic Mass out of my head. I just keep thinking, “People believe this shit? My wife believes this shit?” First thing the priest had us do was “bow your heads and contemplate on your sinful nature.” Yeah, good times.

        • wtfwjtd

          Are you fucking kidding me? No, you’re joking, right? If not, that is some sick stuff there dude. No wonder religion takes messed up people and makes them even more messed up. Horse feathers.

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, no, I’m dead serious. There’s another prayer that they sometimes do at the beginning where they ask forgivness “for our sins, our grevious, grevious sins.” It’s when I started noticing all these “little” things, I started realizing how fucked up of a world view it is.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, it was that “contemplate your sinful nature” that was like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I remember back in the day coming home from church feeling like I’d been beaten up a lot of the time, that’s why my wife and I had more or less dumped it by the time I was in my late ’20′s. I probably heard stuff like that all the time back then (no wonder I felt beat up), but I’ve just put it out of my mind and don’t really remember specifics like that. I’m sure if I went back I’d be like you and be shocked and notice stuff like that a lot more, although most of those sitting in the pews would just probably sit there and nod in agreement. Nasty stuff.

        • Pofarmer

          I think when you sit there and listen to it week after week after day you just get oblivious to it. I do see how, you could get the Euphoria off how they do the Eucharist and everything. It’s very much a production designed to ellicit specific emotions.

        • wtfwjtd

          I didn’t mean to over-react or sound mocking, sorry if I sounded that way. I guess I’ve just gotten far enough away from it that when I hear some of the nonsense again it sounds so over-the-top. My wife and I have been trying to decipher just what “contemplating your sinful nature” would mean. Thinking about certain sex acts? Mowing the lawn on Saturday or Sunday? Going out to eat at Long John Silvers? The mind boggles…

        • Pofarmer

          You ain’t bothering me any. Asiantonas on the other thread has really internalized the sinful nature thing. Everything we do and are, if we are apart from the Church, is bad. We should constantly be praying and asking for help and forgiveness.

        • wtfwjtd

          I remember as a fundie, there were several people I knew who seemed to really enjoy the self-loathing, self-flogging thing, kinda like Martin Luther I guess. I reckon that’s why that lots of Christians everywhere love to wallow in the crucifixion scenes, the violence and torture is something that really gets them off.

  • Richard Hollis

    Even if Jesus WAS the most perfectly wonderful figure ever to have existed or been created (EVAR!!!) I still don’t follow the logic.

    “Jesus was the most amazing person; therefore he has to be real.” Is that the idea?

    Because if it is, that makes no sense at all. Why are amazing figures more likely to be real than fictional? There is no logic there.

    This is just the ontological argument projected onto Jesus’ character. And it makes even less sense here than in its original form.

  • Without Malice

    It seems to me, that at its core, the story of Jesus is just another in a long line of “hidden royalty” stories, where the king or prince goes out disguised as a regular man and tries to bring knowledge and wisdom to the masses but the masses would rather do without it, so they end up mistreating him or killing him and find out too late that he was really a prince or king and now they’re in for it. There are no teachings of Jesus that originate with him, they’re all taken from previous wise men and from the old testament and magic tricks were a dime dozen back in the day. I don’t really see how anyone could think the man was so special that he had to be a god.


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