I Watched John Hagee’s “Four Blood Moons” So You Don’t Have To

Pastor John Hagee likes to get overwrought about astrology. We last talked about his rickety “four blood moons” hypothesis on April 14, 2014, the eve of the second of the four “blood” (that is, full) moons that would appear on consecutive major Jewish holidays. (Spoiler: nothing happened.)

I analyzed Hagee’s book on the subject here.

What’s new is that Hagee’s Four Blood Moons is now a bestseller and a movie. I attended the one-night-only showing last night and made it out to tell the tale.

Background: Hagee’s thesis

The Bible speaks of a blood moon: “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Joel 2:30–31). Hagee proposes a fun new way to look at that. The Jewish spring festival of Passover and fall festival of Sukkot always begin on a full moon. Lunar eclipses only happen during full moons, and with more than two per year, an eclipse at the beginning of these festivals (somewhere in the world, anyway) is common.

Hagee’s innovation is to (1) call a lunar eclipse (which often makes the moon reddish) a “blood moon,” (2) assign significance to these events happening on the Jewish festivals, and to (3) declare that four in a row (not three or five) is God telling us something. With the launch of his book, Hagee said, “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” Luckily, Hagee gets to choose God’s message after the fact, though one wonders what good such a retrospective prophecy is.

It’s refreshing to see a Bible scholar with no reluctance to make God’s unchanging word into a marionette that tells us a new story.

The Movie

The single showing in my neighborhood was a nearly packed house, and the Christian audience murmured occasional appreciation.

The movie was a string of supposed scenes from history to illustrate the three times in the past 500 years when we’ve had these tetrads (four blood moons on four consecutive Jewish festivals) interspersed with commentary by various experts.

A JPL scientist was an early expert, and he explained why lunar eclipses are usually red (what little sunlight remains passes through the earth’s atmosphere so that the moon is illuminated with nothing but sunsets), so we’re off to a good start with a grounding in science and logic.

That didn’t last.

Hugh Ross, a retired astrophysicist who’s now an evolution denier, played a surprising and refreshing role as skeptic, but more on that later.

As we began the look at prior tetrads, John Hagee told us to “put doubt aside and believe.” But why? Don’t you have a burden to show us a reason first? He repeated the book’s subtitle, “Something is about to change.” I wondered if the omniscient creator of the universe could be a little clearer.

Tetrad 1: Spanish Inquisition and the Edict of Expulsion, 1492

I’m sure the script writers couldn’t get a “damn!” or a bare breast into this Christian script, but they have a torture scene where an ex-Jew, passing as a Catholic during the Inquisition, is tested for his loyalty. I must get offended at the wrong things.

Next, Christopher Columbus is portrayed as a Jewish patriot carrying these Spanish Jews to safety in the New World. A girl in one of the families gives the great explorer a yellow cloth star, an obligatory label the Jews had to wear. (I wasn’t able to research the star, but it sure sounds like artistic license.)

While Columbus’s second voyage in 1493 did have colonization as a goal, it carried just 1200 men (Wikipedia mentions nothing about the families shown in the movie). The voyage began over a year after Spain’s 100,000 Jews were supposed to have left.

Also a year late was the first blood moon. Hagee would have us believe that God’s 18-month show began a year after the problem. Hagee says that God is shouting his message, but he needs to enunciate a little more clearly.

The movie continues with scenes in America. The goal was to show Jews as part of the American fabric from the beginning, which invited blather from history revisionist David Barton (more here) about America as a Christian nation.

Tetrad 2: Establishment of Israel, 1948

This event lines up with a tetrad no better than the previous one. Here again, the first blood moon was a year late. Notice also that the most significant recent event for Israel, the Holocaust, didn’t deserve a tetrad.

We’re told that Israel’s victory in the war launched by Arab states the day after independence was a miracle. If you want surprising tales of victory, you can read about Hannibal’s victories over the Romans or Alexander’s over the Persians or even George Washington’s over the British. No effort was made to show how Israel’s victory—which might indeed have been unexpected—rose to the level of miracle.

Hagee tells us that God has blessed the U.S. because the U.S. has blessed Israel, and we come to see that this is the point of the movie: the U.S. must continue to support Israel financially, militarily, and diplomatically.

Tetrad 3: Six-Day War, 1967

We see scenes from the war. Two Israeli soldiers capture an Egyptian platoon. A bomb landed among some civilians but didn’t explode. There’s a story of Egyptian soldiers surrendering to an army of angels.

Happy events? From the standpoint of Israel, sure. Evidence of divine intervention? I don’t think so.

Another expert tells us that our moral compass is broken as we leave God and Judeo-Christian values.

Tetrad 4: two down (4/15/14 and 10/8/14) and two to go (4/4/15 and 9/28/15)

Hagee says that this tetrad is even more super-duper than the previous ones since it overlaps a Shemitah (Shmita) year. The Shemitah is the seventh year in a 7-year cycle. It’s a time to let the land go fallow and to forgive debts with fellow Jews. However, Wikipedia says, “There is little notice of the observance of this year in Biblical history and it appears to have been much neglected.”

Hagee has dusted off this old concept and declared that this confluence is unique in human history. First, I’m sure that if we go back before Hagee’s cherry-picked tetrads, we’ll find Shemitah years in there and periods where no dramatic event happened to Israel or to Jews, even with Hagee’s generously sloppy criteria. Second, this Shemitah year only overlaps two of the eclipses. And third, why expect divine wrath if Shemitah is a time of forgiveness?

Panel discussion

The movie ended with a panel discussion with astrophysicist Hugh Ross, rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, pastor John Hagee, and history revisionist David Barton.

Hagee was asked why this wasn’t astrology. He said that astrology is a false science, not at all like what he does. The movie had tried to ground the idea of getting wisdom from the sky with the Star of Bethlehem, but what came to mind for me instead was seeing portents in comets, like Halley’s comet as an omen to the Battle of Hastings.

The biggest surprise in the movie was Hugh Ross saying that this was all just a coincidence (prediction after the fact) and that the number of eclipses was arbitrarily chosen—why four? He also noted that the eclipses couldn’t be seen in Israel—wouldn’t that be important if Israel is the focus? So, yeah—it’s astrology.

Hagee wrapped up with a threat. God said: “I will bless those who bless you [that is, Israel], and whoever curses you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3). God is working through America to support Israel. Stop supporting Israel, and you’ll regret it. We were told to think of the countries who opposed Israel: Babylon, Greece, Rome. But what do we conclude from this? Empires come and go. This is like God’s warning about the fruit in Eden: eat it, and you will surely die. Uh yeah—eventually.

And if God is working through America, what’s the concern? Surely God can’t be stopped by gay-loving liberals who are soft on Israel.

As the movie ended, the audience applauded. And the screen showed an ad for yet another Hagee book.

Damn.

Ardency and sincerity
are no substitute for veracity.
— Richard S. Russell

Image credit: Four Blood Moons movie page

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Pofarmer

    I’m really, really sorry you felt the need to sit through that. I’d say you suffered more for me than Jesus did, but……….

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

      … but then you have decent evidence of only my suffering!

      • Greg G.

        But at least you have free will. That’s what is important.

        • wtfwjtd

          Isn’t there a group of Baptists that call themselves “Free Will” Baptists? Or maybe I’m thinking of the “Free-Wheeling” Baptists. Now that would be more my speed.

        • Pofarmer

          Near here there’s a group called the “Fire and Brimstone” Baptists.

        • wtfwjtd

          Is that just down the street from the burrito stand?

        • Greg G.

          I see church signs with that at the top. But from now on, I will read it as “Free-Wheeling”, I’m sure.

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

          There’s a sect called the Free Lutheran Church. But each church needs a name, and a local one calls itself the “Atonement Free Lutheran Church.”

          When I read it, it always comes out Atonement-Free Lutheran Church. So if you’re worried about atonement happening, you can be sure you won’t get any here.

        • wtfwjtd

          I was laughing on FB with a group of people from a secular group I recently joined, they put up a post about–I’m not making this up–the “Cowboy Church”, whose slogan is that their “brand is JC”. And I thought the “Courageous Church” was silly, looks like I ain’t seen nothing yet. The desperation really is starting to show.

        • Greg G.

          I their baptism having a red-hot poker stuck on their ass?

        • Greg G.
        • wtfwjtd

          I’m not sure that sign means what they think it means…

        • MNb

          In The Netherlands there is a Living Stone Ministry. Can anyone top this meaningless metaphor?

          http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerkgebouw_De_Levende_Steen

        • wtfwjtd

          The Living Stoned Ministry, maybe?

        • TheNuszAbides

          i can assure you, this is a very real (though not particularly organized) subculture.
          … oh, you mean that ‘stoned’.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          My former church was Freewill Baptist… though, every so often the pastor made a little hub-bub about not being loyal to denominations and traditions but to the Bible… yeah, whatever…

  • powellpower

    Audience applauded eh? This is getting scary. I don’t even think I ever applauded any documentaries by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

    I would be worried if people applauded at the end of Iron Man 3, and this is way way worse.

  • MNb

    “John Hagee told us to “put doubt aside and believe.”
    As soon JH puts his doubt aside and believes that Mohammed rode the sky on his horse Buraq.

    “it sure sounds like artistic license.”
    It is. The nazis made the star of David yellow. At the time of Columbus the star of David was not specifically jewish; muslims also used it.

    • Pofarmer

      Hey MNb, they are addressing the problem of Evil at the end of that thread on Thinking Christia, or, rather, attempting to evade it.

      • MNb

        Yeah, Scott from Ohio (I haven’t memorized his name yet) wrote about it. Thanks, but no thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          Good Lord. Schbrownhlrm over there is impenetrable. He uses terms in ways that just, gah. I don’t know if the guy is really smart and has trouble getting his points across in an intelligible way, or is really stupid and using big words to try to bluff. I assume it’s the latter. Really smart people can usually make their ideas accessible.

        • TheNuszAbides

          my money’s on ‘mediocre intellect who has yet to develop an interest in doing more than imitating their impressions of Big Thinkers’.

          (in a manner of speaking, of course; i don’t actually have any money.)

  • Ron

    Hagee said, “The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015.” Luckily, Hagee gets to choose God’s message after the fact, though one wonders what good such a retrospective prophecy is.

    The real irony here is that the predictive power of biblical prophecy is so useless that Hagee wouldn’t even have known about the upcoming tetrad until after the fact. In other words, he had to turn to science even for that particular bit of knowledge .

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

    In Jewish tradition, is the number four even significant? Isn’t it usually six or seven?

    I’m thinking in the way that the number four is unlucky in Chinese numbers – since it is a homophone of their word for death.

    • Greg G.

      I have a Vietnamese friend who explains Asian teacup sets with different numbers of cups. A Japanese set has four teacups because the number five sounds like the word for death. A Chinese set has five teacups because the number four sounds like the word for death. A Vietnamese set has six teacups because they like to party*.

      * My memory is hazy about the explanation but it is clear for the punchline.

    • Pofarmer

      Imthink traditionally, important Jewish numbers, at least what you see repeated in the bible and such, were 3, 12, and 40.

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

      Good point! Hagee didn’t even try to make such an argument. Contrast that with Harold Camping, whose numerology included three numbers to which he assigned meaning.

      On the question of unlucky four, the same is true within Japanese culture. Where you might find a set of four plate settings or cups, for example, it would more likely be five in Japan. There’s a hotel in Las Vegas where the floor after 39 is 50. Now you can gamble without any of that 4 mojo jinxing your game! (Ignoring the fact that the fortieth floor is still the fortieth floor no matter what you call it …)

  • http://www.gladlysufferingfools.blogspot.com Lex Lata

    Sigh. My youth in a Pentecostal church involved indirect but significant exposure to the Hagee/Van Impe end times worldview. The best I can say for it is that, after being told by religious authority figures that THIS was the year of JC’s return–many years in a row throughout the 70s and 80s–I noticed the obvious countervailing data and gave increasingly free rein to my skepticism. Hagee and his readers were unwitting contributors to my eventual apostasy.

    • wtfwjtd

      Yeah, I know the feeling. Mine was more along the lines of Hal Lindsay nonsense, basically SSDD. I specifically recall a “planetary alignment” in 1982 that was supposed to be the End of the World As We Know It. Of course, more followed; these amateur astrologers never predicted anything of significance, but I’m sure they made a ton of money for themselves. Some things never change, it seems…

      • Greg G.

        The Late Great Planet Earth was a major factor in converting me to Christianity way back when.

        • wtfwjtd

          I remember that. Nothing like scaring for Jesus! What’s really funny, I was at a wedding last fall, and some of our extended family was talking about “the rapture” and other nonsense like they’d just read one of these for the first time. My wife rolled her eyes and made some snide comments, and kinda rained on their parade. I couldn’t believe it, some people just can’t seem to let it go.

        • Greg G.

          As far as we can tell, Paul was Patient 0 for that mind virus. Generations come and go, but the virus lives on two millennia later.

        • Pofarmer

          Someone should develope a vaccine.

        • Greg G.

          But the anti-vax crowd opposes critical thinking.

        • Pofarmer

          Dammit.

        • MNb

          I thought Patient Zero was Big Hero Jesus himself.

        • Pofarmer

          I have no patience for end times nonsense any more and will call it out and deride it when I hear it. Lifes too short to have this nonsense propagated.

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

        I vaguely remember a book called The Jupiter Effect with a cover showing the planets lining up. Sounds scary to laymen, but there’s not a lot of gravity there when you work it out.

        • MNb

          Before I understood gravity there was nothing about planets lining up to get scared and after I understood neither. Sorry, call me dumb, but I just don’t get this. End of the World stuff like planetary alignment I mean. What I was scared of from the moment I understood a few things was politicians starting the Third World War. The prospect of getting nuked in The Netherlands was not something I enjoyed.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, there’s definitely a cultural divide showing there. I mean, Europe had 2 major wars fought on its soil in the 20th Century, and witnessed horrific destruction and tens of millions of people slaughtered. The US has seen nothing like this, so I guess a comet or an asteroid or a few planets close together just seems really scary to some folks. It’s kind of silly by comparison.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yeah, I came to find out that this scary Planetary Alignment” ended up involving 4 planets–Earth, Mars, Saturn, and one more, maybe it was Jupiter. They were all in the same quadrant for a short time, which was supposed to be unusual, celestially speaking. No matter, this was good enough for the doomsayers, who raked in tons of cash peddling their rubbish. And, like Ron pointed out, they needed science to verify the event that their “prophecies” were based on. Yeesh.

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

          Just like astrology is firmly grounded in astronomy. Or something.

    • Greg G.

      Did you ever see the book “88 Reasons the Rapture Will Happen in 1988” or the sequel “89 Reasons the Rapture Will Happen in 1989“?

      • wtfwjtd

        …now that’s catering to a gullible crowd, Christian-style!

      • Ron

        There must be 50 Ways to Fleece the Sheeple*

        You just push a new tract, Jack
        Plan a new con, John
        Don’t need to be true, Lou
        Just preach it and see

        * Sung to the chorus of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”

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

          Pass that along to Dan Barker at the FFRF! He likes to write secular songs.

        • terremoto415

          As a traditionalist (and a Northern Californian), I’m kind of partial to this somewhat cheesy little hymn (sung to the tune of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”):

          What a friend we have in cheeses,
          Mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss!
          Bleu and Limberger’s sweet breezes
          Lingering like a lover’s kiss.
          Humble milk’s apotheosis,
          Muenster, Provolone, Brie
          Damn cholesterol’s thrombosis
          Cheese is Gouda stuff by me!

          Heed the U. S. Dairy Council,
          Keep the Gruyere on the shelf.
          Even just a tiny ounce’ll
          Give you vitamin B-12.
          Gather, pilgrims at the deli
          Buying Edam and Havarti,
          Wedges moist and cold and smelly,
          Bring home lots and have a party!

        • Greg G.

          I like it. I’m trying to come up with something like:

          Get in on the Act, Matt
          Plan a new con, John
          Don’t need to be cute, Luke
          Your Mark’s cash is free

          PS: Or

          Get out of the Act, Matt
          Escape from the con, John
          Don’t need to be cute, Luke
          Leave Marks where you flee

        • Ignorant Amos

          We used to sing a wee number in the army while enjoying some liquid refreshment’s…also associated with rugby football social gatherings. Loads of verse’s, here is just a few…warning for some politically incorrectness, squaddies and rugby players are not as a rule, very PC.

          Anybody Seen J C ?

          Verse’s

          Not since Easter Monday,
          Riding on a Donkey.

          Chorus

          Has anybody seen J C
          J C, J C, J C, J C.

          Virgin born, head of thorn
          Resurrects the dead at dawn

          Chorus

          That J C, he’s devine
          Changes water into wine.

          Chorus

          Virgin Mary, She’s the most
          She’s been fucked by the Hole Ghost

          Chorus

          Cleans up temples it is said
          Raises spastics from their bed

          Chorus

          J C, He’s so cool
          Boogies across my swimming pool

          Chorus

          Took three loaves and five fish
          Feed five thousand piece of piss

          Chorus

          Lots of songs, raises cheers,
          In the charts two thousand years

          Chorus

          Holes in hands, Holes in Feet,
          Carries his cross down the street,

          Chorus

          Holy Ghost, He’s the most,
          Gets them pissed on wine and toast,

          Chorus

          Banished fear and gave us hope,
          Went one better than the Pope,

          Chorus

          Love he gave, faith he took,
          Still the Worlds best selling book,

          Chorus

          Save our souls, fun we poke,
          Sorry God its just a joke.

          Chorus

          J C stands five foot nine,
          Plays scrum half for Palestine.

          Chorus

          Arms out wide, feet are tied,
          It’s hard to boogie when your crucified.

          http://www.arrse.co.uk/community/threads/has-anyone-seen-jc.67167/

        • Greg G.

          I laughed at that. Damnation is guaranteed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In that case, just for you…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiF7eJNs_wg

        • Greg G.

          Faith isn’t all, Paul
          Works aren’t the aims, James
          Denial is complete, Pete
          Just get yourself free

          There must be 50 ways to leave religion.

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

      It’s nice to see this sometimes backfiring on Hagee.

  • Pofarmer

    So, Tom Gilson posted his reply to Atheist arguments.

    http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2015/03/atheists-skepticism-as-better-explanation/

    “So I think it’s entirely possible that our atheist commenters acquired
    their views of Christianity through direct, personal experience. Some or
    all of them may have spent an unhealthy amount of time in unhealthy,
    unquestioning church environments. If they’ve got a wrong impression of
    Christianity, it could be because Christians have given them that wrong
    impression.”

    The whole thing is basically a “No True Scotsmans” argument. Unbelievable. These are the smart, savvy, educated Christians who are going to save our youth for Jesus? God better help them, because no one else will.

    • wtfwjtd

      Yeah, see, that’s my problem–I got the right impression of Christianity, from him and people just like him. “Unquestioning church environments?” Does he mean like his?

      So, after your long, tortured trip on the merry-go-round over there, what you ultimately ended up with was a “No True Scotsman” with a little “Pascal’s wager” thrown in for good measure. How original.

      “These are the smart, savvy, educated Christians who are going to save our youth for Jesus? God better help them, because no one else will.”

      As Johnny Scaramonga has said, if you believe this, you truly are a person of great faith.

      • Pofarmer

        Oh, there’s also plenty of God of the Gaps and ” we don’t need no stinking evidence”(is there a name for that?) as well.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m sure he means ‘unquestioning church environments’ to be distinct from his glorious tradition of poking atheist anthills in a way that convinces some audience that actual questions are being asked (and the answers are being–wait, what was the question again?).

    • MNb

      “Some or all of them may have spent an unhealthy amount of time in unhealthy, unquestioning church environments.”
      I like that phrase. As if there is a healthy amount of time to spend in unquestioning church environments and if those environments can be healthy. I have no doubt his crowd will go crazy on this quote though. How few apologists can do without poisoning the well first?

    • MNb

      If Kodie happens to read this: her friend Jenna Black is back, repeating the same nonsense as if she never received an answer here.

      • Pofarmer

        Oh, she gets nodding approval for it over there.

      • Greg G.

        Thanks. I saw a recent response to Kodie and I was going to respond to it. The name was “Jen B” and it never hit me until I read your post.

      • Kodie

        Yeah, I read that. She’s such a piece of shit.

        As for non-questioning environments vs. environments where it’s ok to ask questions – I think it misses the point. They say it’s ok to ask questions but make sure you ask someone you can trust, so they’ll give you the answer you’re supposed to have. If it’s not ok to ask questions in church, then of course you’re going to go find out elsewhere from someone who will tell you. I find it hard to believe there are any church environments where it’s not “ok” to ask questions or which curiosity is overtly stifled. Someone like Greg is afraid to ask questions where he might even get an answer, but he knows he is safe to ask his religious adviser or clergy, and find the analogies comforting enough that he’s not supposed to know some things. In that way, curiosity is stifled but in a way that seems like a comforting answer in itself.

        Tom Gilson and co. just don’t seem to get it. I mean, the concept that there is no god is so unthinkable, that they have to make up reasons why we might be turned off by the idea. I’m turned off by the idea that this is nothing but a cult insulated from total reality, building a personal trust in one another to know things they do not know, about science, about death, about atheists, etc. Ask a dummy a question, and you will get a stupid answer. That’s the difference!

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

      I listened to a Christian podcast yesterday during which some author (who claimed to have interviewed many atheists for his book) said that all atheists are such because of emotional reasons–got abused by a priest, religious father was a jerk, or otherwise treated shabbily by Christians.

      Clever–say that we’re the ones with the emotional baggage before we can use that argument on him.

      • Pofarmer

        Make me wanna smack a puppy.

      • MNb

        Granted – I became an unbeliever for an emotional reason indeed. I thoroughly dislike the atonement doctrine. I simply don’t get how christians can be OK with the prospect of eternally singing the praise of god sitting next to Rudolf Höss, while his victims suffer a fate worse than Auschwitz. All empathy for those christians is lost on me.

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

      Nothing I like better than to dismantle Christian arguments, but there’s nothing there.

      Some or all of them may have spent an unhealthy amount of time in unhealthy, unquestioning church environments.

      So an unquestioning environment is bad? I’m surprised we agree on that.

      • Pofarmer

        Yeah, it really is unbelievable shallow. He even quoted me on Faith! But of course his kinds of Christians don’t rely on faith, it’s all evidence based, or something, even if they won’t show the evidence…………………………….

        I’m hoping the lurkers on that long thread will see the problems, and my name dropping enough to search out the relevant physciscists.

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

          There was some line in his post about “let’s get the conversation started,” as if he was actually open minded and eager to hear new ideas.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you been following our little conversation on nothing? I think he has to understand the point, but does he? I’m not sure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and so that any nonbeliever losing their patience can be tarred with the “obstructionist” brush.

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

          You just can’t lose when you have Jesus on your side!

      • SuperMark

        Soooooo sick of this argument, but so what even if it is true. I was told growing up that if you are a Christian you have the HS living inside/with you. As I grew up I slowly realized that Christians are no better than the rest of us. Seems like this argument is an admission that religion doesn’t make people better.

        • TheNuszAbides

          this is where moderates who ‘come to the defense’ of their religion utterly lose me: stuff like “most of us don’t really believe that…” the more a point like this is driven home by the supposedly faithful, the more painfully obvious it is that the religious aspect itself is profoundly inessential to whichever positive influence they loyally appeal…

    • katiehippie

      This comment,

      “So, my request to my atheist interlocutors is this: Don’t judge Christians or Christianity unless and until you really have an understanding of what mature, committed, knowledgeable Christians know and believe.”

      They can’t even agree amongst themselves who these knowledgeable people might be. How are we supposed to figure that out?

      • Pofarmer

        Tom will tell you. No one else experience is apparently relevant.

        • katiehippie

          LCMS Lutherans (that I know well) wont even pray alongside other denominations because that might look like they are approving of these other denominations. They really believe they have the intellectual high ground.

          http://wmltblog.org/2013/02/letter-from-president-harrison-on-newtown-ct/

        • Pofarmer

          Many Catholics won’t go to another Church, and if they do for some reason, they still must go to Catholic Mass, because they need the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist. Shit you not.

        • katiehippie

          After 9/11 we got many sermons about the evil muslims but I kept thinking that their stance on methodists and presbyterians were basically the same. They didn’t believe the right way. So where were the sermons denouncing the evil methodists?

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

          How refreshing to see Christians reach across the aisle and agree with those of different denominations, even if the shared value is intolerance.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          *snerk* 😉

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yeah, I remember. That was my mother’s old church, and the pastor (new one, young guy) got dumped on from above.

      • Pofarmer

        He is now attempting to state that the Problem of Evil requires the assumption of Objective morality. This is so that he can claim that the Atheist is answering a different question than the theist. It really is breathtakingly dishonest.

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

          My frustration with these arguments is that I’ve responded in the blog several times, and I don’t want to get repetitive. Very weak arguments. Shows how widely he listens to other points of view.

          Hey, y’know what he should do? He should have a blog post where he invites atheists to share their views. He and his peeps could read that with open minds and get more insights into the arguments and positions of atheists.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not even so much that they’re weak as that they’re disshonest. You can’t change the basics of arguments like Kalams first premise or the Argument from Evil and then call it the common usage. You can’t claim that your argument doesn’t require evidentiary support and that modern Cosmology doesn’t affect it and then go on to make assertions that affect modern cosmology. This is just pretty basic stuff. You can’t just deny or assert your way out of philosophical or theological problems. The college kids he’s targeting can Google this stuff and find out he’s dissembling just as easy as we can.

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

          We see this slipperiness with arguments as well as with specific beliefs. Some apologists love to find some difference between what you’re arguing against and their particular flavor and then mock you for your idiocy.

          I think that standing their ground is tough. It doesn’t help when they see their leaders doing it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Tom’s also playing that game of “well, my particular flavor of Christianity doesn’t believe (x).” Even what they happen to believe at any one time is also a moving target, of course. Definitely a hydra.

        • MNb

          What he doesn’t realize is that it makes his case only worse. Shouldn’t christians first try to largely agree what to believe and what not to believe? Ie shouldn’t he discuss the issues with other christians first and develop a reliable method to settle them? In my experience christians who pull this one of don’t even want to begin thinking about this problem.
          Well, good for me. If they can’t even convince other christians there is no reason why I should be convinced.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so it’s basically a dog-whistle for anyone who enjoys the illusion of engaging issues without actually, um, engaging them.

        • MNb

          That’s basically how my son became an atheist when he was 13 or 14. He didn’t swallow “denial or asserting your way out of philosophical or theological problems”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          uh, ‘dissimulating’ ?

        • Greg G.

          Pofarmer fat fingers many words but he got that one right. “Dissembling” means disguising ones motives.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Hokay….whoops!

        • MNb

          “I don’t want to get repetitive”
          Neither do I. So like I wrote overthere I mainly will respond to his articles. I’m not going to wade through all the drivel in the comments.

        • MNb

          Are you serious? Not even WLC has tried that, as far as I know. When it’s about the PoE he can have his Objective Morality as much as he likes. It doesn’t make any difference.

        • Pofarmer

          Here’ s his latest reply to me on the PoE and objective morality.

          “You’re really flailing badly. I don’t need to explain that the
          problem of evil makes reference in its premises to God’s objective
          morality (if God exists). I don’t need to, because honestly, everybody
          knows that it does, and if you think my view there is idiosyncratic,
          then you’re jumping on me for a fault I do not possess, and you’re
          revealing yourself as ignorant of the discussion.

          I’m not going to try any longer with you. I’m sorry. I am giving up.”

          I even linked him to Plato.stanford.edu problem of evil and asked him to highlight the parts about objective morality.

        • MNb

          So much for the “mature, committed, knowledgeable Christian”.
          I think I’m going to play a nasty trick on him. I’ll let him ramble on some more and then will thank him for confirming what I wrote in my first comment: atheism only needs four words to answer the PoE and hence explains it better.

        • Pofarmer

          If you’ve got a minute, skim the last of that thread for my back and forth on “Nothing” and tell me where I’ve gone off the rails.. Thx.

        • MNb

          Thanks again, but no thanks. I’ve done a small costs/benefits analysis and the costs enormously exceed the benefits. Moreover you already provided a quote on “nothing”, so I’m going to trust you that you didn’t go off the rails.

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

          What an asshole.

          It’s all your fault. You’re not only ignorant but willfully so.

        • MNb

          Of course, I didn’t immediately realize. I really take this ill. He’s a christian, he is supposed to understand that he’s a sinner, to follow his hero Jesus and to try to approach his “perfection”. Well, one of the good things Jesus preached was to forgive the sins of other people, but to be hard on your own ones. It’s even in their prayer:

          forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us

          He does exactly the opposite. In the name of the same guy who explicitely condemned it. Unbearably annoying.

        • wtfwjtd

          You know how you said your son rejected religion because of moving goal posts and other intellectual dishonesty? For me it was assholes like him that got me to take a lot closer look at Christianity, and of course I didn’t like what I found. We should be glad people like him are around, really, because they do more to help de-convert people than any atheist ever could.

        • MNb

          ” your son rejected religion because of ….”
          regarding the PoE, yes.

        • Pofarmer

          And the argument I gave is basically Laurence Krause argument, so it isn’t like it isn’t sound. His tactic is simply to dismiss and then assert you don’t understand his brilliance, without ever interacting with any points raised. He might be able to bully college kids like this but, dang.

        • Pofarmer

          Not according to Tom. If the Atheist doesn’t acknowledge objective moralitu, then you are arguing a different Evil, according to Tom. I’ve gotta admit. that’s a,new one.

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

          This idea that the Problem of Evil backfires on the atheist because “evil” demands an objective source of morality is pretty common among the handful of conservative podcasters that I listen to.

          Easy solution: demand to see the objective morality. Cuz it certainly isn’t in the dictionary, the place where “morality,” “right,” “wrong,” and so on are defined. We bumble along quite nicely with a non-objective version of morality.

        • MNb

          Easier answer: grant him objective morality. Grant him his god as the source. Then why does his god allow things that are objectively evil according to this objective morality?
          Like I wrote above it solves exactly nothing.

        • Pofarmer

          I agree. It’s just a dodge.

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

          Their response will be that The Fall® (all your fault, BTW) is the problem. That wasn’t God’s plan, but he’s making the best of a perfect plan that mankind screwed up.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Maybe it’s The Fall. Maybe it’s a test. Maybe it’s a necessary path to something better. Maybe we just can’t understand and have to trust that God has a good reason.

          At the risk of beating a horse that’s dead, buried, and decomposed, this is why the atheist’s explanation is better. Theists don’t have AN explanation; they have a bunch that they use whenever it appeals to them.

        • wtfwjtd

          And, once again, I have to ask the theist: If things got fucked up by one guy, why weren’t they fixed by one guy? Wasn’t he good enough? And round and round she goes.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, it did, it just got fixed in Heaven.

        • wtfwjtd

          So, I’m good to go then! NO assembly required.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, I think you have to believe, or something.

        • Kodie

          When Adam and Eve fucked up, the world was new. I wouldn’t have faulted god for striking them dead and starting over. Nobody would ever have known. Knowing how to create humans out of dirt, on his next try, he drowns, I don’t know, millions of people and animals? I have no idea by that point, but he spares a family and their in-laws and animals, which, according to creationism, must have included mosquitoes. Why? Just wipe the slate completely clean. Salt the ground of earth completely and punt it out of the solar system. Fine tune some other planet, just pick it up and move it, and start all over again. There was absolutely no good reason for all this.

        • MNb

          Yeah, god kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. They and their offspring fucked up some more. So god drowns the entire population. The offspring of Moses fucked up some more. So Jesus is crucified and resurrected. His devout followers fucked up some more.
          So what’s a loving god to do? Send a useful gift, like science and, as the ultimate punishment, wash his hands of humanity.
          God has become an atheist some 200+ years ago. Of course humanity fucked up again – colonialism, genocides, two world wars, a cold war – but at least there has been some progress. God can be moderately happy.
          Ain’t theology great? Atheist you and I are the true children of god. Oh – that paradox is the ultimate christian mystery. We just should have faith that god wants us to take our responsibilities and not to hide behind his back anymore.
          Every single apologist is invited to prove me wrong.

        • wtfwjtd

          “So god drowns the entire population…”

          Why didn’t he just drown ’em all, and start over with Man 2.0? Maybe it was like Windows, with errors and bugs built-in, so later patches and updates were an intentional part of the design. Sure seems that way.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes. It makes a lot more sense when the Earth was the center if the Universe.

        • wtfwjtd

          I mean…it’s not like he had a gazillion other planets to play with or anything. Oh wait, he did…but he just wasn’t interested in all them other planets, only this one. Yeah, right. Like Po says, it only makes sense if you see the world as god’s little Play-Doh world, like ancient man did. Otherwise, it’s just much ado about nothing.

        • Greg G.

          But the brain structure that understands the difference between good and evil can be grown in a fruit, eaten, digested, cross the blood-brain barrier intact, and begin to function in any living creature. That chemical reaction taints the entire universe instantaneously. The taint travels faster than the speed of light, so God can’t just make a new world in a galaxy 10 billion light years away.

          Don’t you atheists understand anything about Christianity?

          PS: I suppose you dumb atheists don’t understand that the genetic blueprint of the good/evil brain structure is also insinuated into every ovum in the ovaries of females and every sperm-producing cell in males so that it must be passed down to subsequent generations.

          Isn’t that obvious to you?

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, heck yeah, it’s right there in the King James Bible. Who am I to argue with that? If the King James Bible was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me, by Gawd.

        • Greg G.

          Right. Just double the intensity of the sun until Earth becomes like Venus and create a new universe out of the void. But I’m sure an omniscient god would have considered that and probably repeated the experiment until realizing his limitations. I wonder how many times he tried the Christ experiment until he figured out that he had to be crucified before his mid-life crisis?

        • MNb

          Yeah – so the christian answer to the Problem of Evil is a complicated story based on zero evidence and zero arguments. The atheist answer is “there is no god”. What was the question again? “What does atheism explain better than christianity.”
          Thanks, believer, for confirming.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, thing is, it’s pretty easy to show that morality isn’t objective, mainly because what’s considered moral has changed over time and varies from place to place and society to society. Toms answer to that was that that’s not what objective morality meant. If even one thing were specific to everyone then objective morality were true and he would show me, which he then never did. Never mind that that’s not the way I’ve ever heard objective morality used.

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

          We could certainly imagine an objective morality where every moral question has a single correct answer, but is this reliably accessible by humans? If not, then who cares? It then has no value.

        • Pofarmer

          Exactly, but, Free Will, The Fall, Satan. What did I miss?

        • TheNuszAbides

          no value outside of roleplaying games and other thought experiments, of course.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, and no where in the standard definitions of the Problem of Evil that I or Scott in OH found, do they mention objective morality, and that includes apoligist WLC.

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

          There are other ways to refer to objective morality. I usually hear them say, “Ah, but atheists can’t say that torture is really wrong.” The wrong/really wrong distinction is the not-objective/objective distinction. Why they can’t just come out and say it that way, I don’t know. Though they do need as much obfuscation as they can get, so maybe that’s it.

        • Pofarmer

          Well. Yeah, but that’s really a seperate argument.

        • Pofarmer

          I think I just got banned.

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

          Were you discouraging?

          There’s your answer.

        • Pofarmer

          He probably thought I was ignorantly trolling and unwilling to learn, not unlike we think of Jenna Black or Wick Sam, I suppose. But when someone admits there’s no evidence for their pet theory, and presses on anyway?

        • TheNuszAbides

          meh, his house, his inconsistently-applied rules.

        • Susan

          I think I just got banned.

          Sweet mercy.

          I just read through more of the exchange (I hit a wall last night and couldn’t continue.)

          What a bunch of wankers. Yes. I know. How unintellectual and snarky of me. How beneath their level of sophistication.

          I have heard these arguments too many times before.

          They are not profound or intellectual. They’re hollow and pompous.

          You explained that they have no basis on which to make claims about metaphysical nothing and they said that you didn’t understand what metaphysical nothing was and proceeded to explain it in patronizing detail.

          They didn’t notice that you were familiar with various nothings and that you were perfectly correct in stating that they had no basis on which to make claims about metaphysical nothing.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I’ve listened to or read William Lane Craig, Victor Stenger, Matt Dillahunty, Laurence Kraus, Sean Carroll, Scott Clifton and probably a few others talk about the metaphysics and physics of Nothing. I think I know Something about Nothing, or is that some kind of paradox?

        • Kodie

          Torture isn’t objectively wrong. Even if you could say “god is the law, so whatever he says is the law, and we have to obey the law, and god says torture is ok, the person being tortured would necessarily disagree. If you say, this is my just punishment, my free choice which I signed my rights away by breaking a law where the punishment is torture, we can and we have as humans using our empathy, successfully disputed the humanity of this punishment. We are even able to discuss (maybe not totally rationally as a species yet) whether a crime should be a crime, or a law should be on the books; what the punishment and term of punishment should be; if punishments like execution are sufficient as a deterrent or if that’s just humans getting their rocks off frying “the evil” off the face of the earth; and maybe look into rehabilitation. Americans tend to want nobody to get away with anything, and they resent giving prisoners the least bit of comfort.

          I don’t know if that comes from a religious place – I tend to think of religious intuitions coming from a human place – that’s why they resonate so easily with humans wanting to justify their superiority over another group. It’s so easy not to commit a crime, people, I mean, just don’t do it, right? And it does seem counter-intuitive to give prisoners more than many of our free citizens. I sort of think everyone does think they work hard and someone is always grubbing at them for some of it, that they have to make up reasons why they shouldn’t have to feel bad for being self-interested – i.e. “they don’t deserve it, they lost their rights, or don’t work as hard as I do.”

          Anyway, that’s a very bitter perspective on the world, and if that sort of judgment and punishment and ultimate morality comes from god, it’s not good, it’s just very bitter and cynical.

        • TheNuszAbides

          agreed. more suitable to a corrupt, very-powerful-but-not-omnipotent patron of war & vengeance (just stick with the OT); then the tacked-on attributions of progressive, forgiving benevolence does make ‘Him’ marketable to a wider array of human temperaments… even explains the need for hymns/sacrifices/etc. = encourage the Good side, seek favor with the despot…

        • TheNuszAbides

          need as much obfuscation as they can get

          the ‘revealed wisdom’ rabbit-hole seems like a good sore spot for anyone inclined to touch on something like the Reformation schism, i.e.:
          – say that [partially-]decentralized church-of-X has freed its flock from the tyranny of elitist priests who hoard Special Knowledge/Understanding…

          –> why does it seem like such a challenge to find a protestant thought leader (or even collective) who makes plain the Real Deal? i mean – maybe the odd Luther, Calvin, etc. could it be that the Theologians of Yore had a sort of academic monopoly that covered all the rationalization-ground there was to cover?

          sorry. /neuropolitics

        • Greg G.

          The Problem of Evil” is just one example of a larger argument. It’s “The Problem of the Existence of Anything an Omnipotence Hates“. I focus on “The Problem of Suffering” for an omnipotent, benevolent being as it is hard to rationally deny the existence of suffering and it is incompatible with the existence of a being that is both omnipotent and benevolent.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i fall back on smbc’s nutshell of theodicy.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Pofarmer’s quite serious. I’ve seen various Christian commenters make this argument (“How can you solve the Problem of Evil, when you don’t even recognize anything as Evil? Gotcha!”), but I didn’t expect it to come from Gilson.

          I made one more try to explain how I understood the Problem of Evil (I was apparently typing at the same time as Pofarmer and linked to the same Stanford Encyclopedia entry, as well as WLC, Peter Kreeft, and Aquinas himself). If he insists I don’t get it and atheists can’t answer the “theist’s PoE,” then I’m out.

          I liked your point to him, MNb, that he (Gilson) acknowledged early on that the Problem of Evil and the Problem of Hiddenness were among the best responses in the list, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in addressing them. Maybe he’ll surprise me, but he has labeled his post about the “irony” of skeptics’ skepticism as the third of three in this series.

        • Pofarmer

          Dudes an idiot. Look, if you and I can easily look up arguments and understand what he’s up to, college kids can too. All you can do is name drop in links and let then find them.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          he has labeled his post about the “irony” of skeptics’ skepticism

          Apparently everybody got Christianity rong. Poor Christianity, everybody gets it wrong all the time.

        • http://www.gladlysufferingfools.blogspot.com Lex Lata

          In a discussion about hell several weeks ago, I asked a conservative Christian commenter at Friendly Atheist if there was any realistic crime or misconduct for which he would send his children away to be tortured for fifty years. After a few attempted dodges, he finally refused to answer until I demonstrated an objective moral basis in atheism (which I didn’t claim) for torture being wrong (which wasn’t in dispute). Flares, chaff, smoke, and squid ink. (I’m fairly sure he has commented here as Al.)

        • Scott_In_OH

          That’s an excellent question to ask, I think. Yet another way my faith was damaged was by asking whether I’d do anything to my kids like God allegedly does to His. I was being told God was the perfect parent, but more and more, I started to think he was anything but.

        • Pofarmer

          The way some Christians raise their kids, the answer for far too many is, apparently, yes.

        • Greg G.

          On two different occasions, a Christian used the argument that obeying God was not a sin. I posed the question of whether they would kill their own child if God told them to do so. They were very uncomfortable. But after thinking about Abraham and Isaac, the gave the Biblically correct answer that they would, though they seemed uncomfortable saying that. Oh, the perils of Divine Command Theory.

          The first time that happened was well before before it was put out as a challenge on YouTube (not by me) a few years ago and the second time was when it was still being talked about there. One well-known YouTube apologist reluctantly responded that he would obey God if given that command. His YouTube presence dropped off for a while after that. He resurfaced later as an atheist. (I think his YT handle had “Veritas” in it.)

        • Greg G.

          That sounds like Al. He is being tortured by being ban hammered for fifty years, I think.

          PS: IIRC, he was banned because he couldn’t shut up after he ran out of arguments.

        • http://www.gladlysufferingfools.blogspot.com Lex Lata

          He’s used at least half a dozen aliases at FA. He seems to be incapable of changing his arguments or his mind, so he just changes his name.

          Edited to add: Okay, I’m calling it. Definitely the same guy. I just poked through a couple of the slavery threads here from half a year ago, and Al made the exact same contentions then that “cf” recently wrote to me at FA. Even used identical phraseology–the Mosaic regulation of slave treatment was “unheard of” in antiquity. (False, incidentally.)

        • Greg G.

          What is the most annoying is that he doesn’t register with Disqus so Disqus puts his responses in the Recent Comments without a link to the comment. He is active in articles that have thousands of comments so it is impossible to search for it through Disqus. You have to wait until the person he responded to responds and then go to that link.

        • http://www.gladlysufferingfools.blogspot.com Lex Lata

          I’ve given up having extended conversations with him for related reasons. Without a Disqus account, he can’t get notifications of my responses, so I have no idea if he’s ignoring a new comment or simply unaware of it. And he’s even had to ask me to point to my responses to him on earlier threads. If he expects me to be his research assistant, he’d better be prepared to pay me.

        • Greg G.

          Re: “Edited to add:”

          Ugh, I thought the Christian defenses of the Bible in that thread really illustrated Hitchens’ Dictum that “Religion poisons everything”.

        • Kodie

          I have figured out the Problem of Evil!

          From what he know about objective morality, per se:

          Objective reality is what is, and what is is good. Being is good, and not being is not good. So what is is objectively good/moral/righteous. Without what is, nothing would be not only what it is, but good.

          Who are we to judge? Who are we to judge, indeed. We can say “I do not like a hurricane,” but think of the hurricane! It does what it pleases and is good. We can say “I do not like murder,” but that is our own self-preservation instincts, repulsed by one human slaying another. If a tiger kills a man, we don’t call it murder. It’s just sad for the man, but great for the tiger. If a man kills another man, we agree he should know better than a tiger or a hurricane. “Evil” is a human definition based on our own preferences to live, and whatever accidental, environmental, or intentional hurts us, we do not like, but it is what it is. We have our justice systems on earth to punish anyone who is found to have broken a law, and none of these systems is perfect, a lot of laws aren’t just, a lot of punishments we don’t see as just, not just in one country, but globally. We grieve over our losses, and sometimes there is no one to blame, however much we in our tiny-minded human ways want to blame someone or something. I work with children in an environment where a serious accident may someday occur, and it is insanely upon the children to have respect for safety. And I tell them – just because you didn’t mean it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt someone just as much.

          Anyway, to try to wrap this up. Religious people believe god gives life and can take it away, he can do whatever he pleases, it’s his creation, go fuck yourself if you think otherwise, and kneel before him and hope he spares you a long time before you meet him for your eternal justice. Non-religious people say bad things happen, and we can’t prevent every disaster, but we can try as hard as we can to limit our cruelty to one another, even if it is difficult and takes uncountable generations. The universe doesn’t care, but we do. In the way that “god is good” or the holder of objective morality, it’s a metaphor which they take literally. Suffering is only evil because we feel. If you broke a rock into dust, it doesn’t feel, this is not evil to the rock. If you broke a lamp, if you knock down a building, if you crash a car, if you filled in the Grand Canyon, these things don’t feel, we feel for them, even if there is no loss of (human) life. Morality is subjective to humans (and other living organisms), but the objective morality has no good or bad. If we obliterated all life on earth, the universe would not say that is evil, and if we don’t, it will do it for us.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Religious people believe god gives life and can take it away, he can do whatever he pleases, it’s his creation, go fuck yourself if you think otherwise, and kneel before him and hope he spares you a long time before you meet him for your eternal justice.”

          Well, yeah, isn’t that the basic definition of “objective morality” to the religious? If God commits murder, it’s not really murder, ’cause goddunnit. It’s god’s sandbox, he calls the shots, and is also exempt from the rules he dictated, ie objective morality. Or, put another way, anything God does is good by definition, whether it follows, or whether it violates, his own rules (objective morality) or not.

        • Kodie

          God doesn’t have any rules. I am speaking metaphorically, of course. He doesn’t have to follow our rules, because we make our rules for ourselves, and then religious people attribute these laws higher up so they don’t have to justify themselves. Just like we can’t make laws against a hurricane or a tiger… I guess we have some laws against tigers for the purpose of public safety, and I guess if you work with tigers or taunt them and they break the fence or the chain or whatever, they generally put the animal to death, which is stupid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uur0e7zbRGU

        • TheNuszAbides

          The universe doesn’t care, but we do

          it seems so perverse, how elegant this is and yet how anathema to so many religious sensibilities.
          (but of course “the world would be so much simpler if everybody thought like me/us” is no new impulse; like you touched on above, not committing crimes is easy, right?)

      • MNb

        Yeah, that would have been an excellent joke if he hadn’t been serious.

        “until you really have an understanding”
        And of course TomG is going to be the judge of which atheist interlocutor does really have that understanding and which one doesn’t. My guess is that German deserters in March 1945 had a better chance to escape death penalty at Mobile Military Courts than we atheists to pass his judgment.
        Like I wrote, it would have been an excellent joke. He totally mocks the christian ideal of humility.

      • Susan

        Don’t judge Christians or Christianity unless and until you really have an understanding of what mature, committed, knowledgeable Christians know and believe.”

        I judge claims, evidence and arguments.

        Tom has yet to directly explain what he believes and why. He has spent an awful lot of time shifting the burden.

        They can’t even agree amongst themselves who these knowledgeable people might be.

        There is no standard. They think it should be a good enough argument to tell us that there are good arguments for their claims.

        That’s not how it works.

        my request to my atheist believersTom.

        Stop beating around the bush. Assume your burden. Support it.

        Stop telling us that there are clever arguments supported by evidence.

        Make one and provide evidence.

      • Kodie

        That’s by Jenna Black, the same person who wrote:

        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.

        • Ignorant Amos

          WTF?

          I find it helpful in discussions with atheists to quickly dispense with and dismiss their idea/belief that God does not exist.

          How does she go about doing that, given that it is the whole crux of the matter and the rest is utter tosh? Does she give the elusive and illusive god evidence?

        • Kodie

          No, she just doesn’t consider it necessary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, the same old, same old. There was me hoping for an epiphany moment, NOT!

        • katiehippie

          Oh, so SHE is the only knowledgeable one. Her whole stance is “I’m right, you’re wrong” It’s a lot less work for her not to think.

    • Guest

      He’s a good baloney spinner. He reminds me of “Mark”:

      Mark: “It all began with a Korg VC10, which is a very rare, very groovy-looking analogue vocoder from the ’70s, with a built-in synth, a little keyboard and a microphone stuck on top”, he enthuses. “You must mention this, because SOS readers will love it — and I know, because I’ve been reading the mag for years!

      “Anyway, the Korg VC10 looks bizarre, but it’s great to use if you want to get vocoder effects up and running straight away. You just play the keyboard to provide a vocoder carrier signal, sing into the microphone to produce the modulator signal, and off you go. The only drawback is the synth — you can’t do anything to change the sound, so the effects you can produce are rather limited.

      “I played around with the vocals and realised that the vocoder effect could work, but not with the Korg — the results just weren’t clear enough. So instead, I used a Digitech Talker — a reasonably new piece of kit that looks like an old guitar foot pedal, which I suspect is what it was originally designed for [see review in SOS April ’98]. You plug your mic straight into it, and it gives you a vocoder-like effect, but with clarity; it almost sounds like you’ve got the original voice coming out the other end. I used a tone from the Nord Rack as a carrier signal and sequenced the notes the Nord was playing from Cubase to follow Cher’s vocal melody. That gave the vocals that ‘stepped’ quality that you can hear prominently throughout the track — but only when I shifted the the Nord’s notes back a bit. For some reason, if you track the vocal melody exactly, with the same notes and timing, you hardly get get any audible vocoded effect. But I was messing about with the Nord melody sequence in Cubase and shifted all the notes back a fraction with respect to the vocal. Then you really started to hear it, although even then it was a bit hit-and-miss — I had to experiment with the timing of each of the notes in the Nord melody sequence to get the best effect. You couldn’t hear an effect on all the vocals by any means — and on others it made the words completely impossible to understand!

      “In the end, we only used vocoded sections where they had the most striking effect, but didn’t make the lyrics unintelligible. To do that, I had to keep the vocoded bits very short. So for example, when Cher sang ‘Do you believe in life after love?’, I think I only cut the processed vocals into the phrase on just the syllables ‘belie-‘ from ‘believe’ and ‘lo-‘ from ‘love’ — but that was enough to make the whole phrase sound really arresting. I made sure throughout that the last word of each vocal phrase was unprocessed, because again, I found it sounded too bubbly and hard to understand when it was vocoded.”

      That was all complete baloney. He was actually using Autotune but he didn’t want anyone to know the secret. All he had to do was turn up one of the knobs. Good baloney spinner!

    • Otto

      The only thing he accomplished is a demonstration that he does not understand skepticism.

      • wtfwjtd

        You know, when you think about it, the whole idea of needing to “defend” your faith via logic and reason, is, well, counter-intuitive. Jesus teaches that only those who become like a child will enter the kingdom of God. If faith in God is so self-evident, and so simple that being like a child is all that is required, why is apologetics necessary at all? The Christian is seeking validation of the reality of his faith through non-believers. The very fact that a believer is asking questions in the first place, is proof positive that faith is something that is figured out and learned from the outside, and there’s nothing supernatural at work on the inside.
        People like Tom have actually lost the argument before they have even started, according to their own theology.

        • MNb

          “You know, when you think about it, the whole idea of needing to “defend” your faith via logic and reason, is, well, counter-intuitive.”
          And it was a devout christian who acknowledged this as first: Soren Kierkegaard.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks for that MNb, I looked up his wiki and there is some interesting stuff there:

          “A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in or accepting something intangible or unprovable, or without empirical evidence.[1] It is an act commonly associated with religious belief as many religions consider faith to be an essential element of piety.
          The phrase is commonly attributed to Søren Kierkegaard; however, he himself never used the term, as he referred to a leap as a leap to faith.”

          and:
          “It is important to understand that Kierkegaard felt a leap of faith was necessary in accepting Christianity due to the paradoxes that exist in Christianity…”

          I would simply paraphrase by saying that if one needs to defend one’s faith via logic and reason, then it becomes something that is not “faith” at all.

        • MNb

          As far as I understand Kierkegaard I think you are justified to paraphrase him that way.

        • Otto

          Absolutely agree. But they are adults and have to deal with the cognitive dissonance that comes with their religious belief. That is why apologetics tends to be geared towards believers, I very much doubt that any substantial amount of people were brought into the faith using apologetics…but a whole lot are kept there with its use.

    • Susan

      If they’ve got a wrong impression of
      Christianity, it could be because Christians have given them that wrong
      impression.”

      And Tom states in the comments here:

      http://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2015/03/atheists-skepticism-as-better-explanation/#comment-113291

      All of these churches believe basically the same thing about the Bible and Jesus Christ, especially his resurrection, and our need for rescue from our sins through Jesus Christ.

      So, it turns out I had the right impression, after all.

      I don’t believe a word of his rescue through resurrection claims. That was simple.

      What “wrong impression” did Tom think we had?

      • Pofarmer

        Now, hold on. Are you saying that you don’t believe in the resurrection and atonement doctrine for some other reason than some Christian was cross with you at some point?

        It really is kinda delicious to see Tom taking both sides of the argument, isn’t it. “Well, obviously you were in some church who didn’t believe the right things.” “Well, we all believe the same things.”

        • Susan

          “Well, obviously you were in some church who didn’t believe the right things.” “Well, we all believe the same things.”

          Exactly.

        • MNb

          Thanks, I hadn’t even noticed yet.

      • wtfwjtd

        “I don’t believe a word of his rescue through resurrection claims. That was simple.”

        So, up next, could I believe that I need rescuing from my sins by a savior who died and resurrected?
        My simple answer: sure I could–but– answer two simple questions first; what makes it believable, and where’s the evidence for this remarkable claim?

        • Susan

          what makes it believable

          Nothing so far.

          and where is the evidence for this remarkable claim?

          Asking that question makes you guilty of scientism. The burden’s now on you to prove that materialism is all there is.

          (yawn)

          Stupid atheist.

        • Kodie

          I still haven’t gotten an answer from a Christian on this blog when I ask “saved from what?”

      • Scott_In_OH

        That “wrong impression” post was such a disappointment for someone (like me) who took him at his word that his original post was inviting a discussion.

        His original post asked a question and got several answers, many of them worthy of further discussion, IMO. He chose to take something tangential–the statement that Christians can be closed-minded–and turn it into (a) a chance to ridicule skeptics for allegedly not being skeptical enough (since Christians actually AREN’T closed-minded, he claims with no evidence) and (b) another question for atheists/skeptics, rather than the beginning of an answer to any of the issues atheists raised in the original post.

        Very, very weak.

      • Kodie

        No, I read that part, and on the one hand, these Christians like to say these 40,000+ denominations aren’t so different as you’d think, but just let someone from a different denomination give atheists the “wrong impression” and suddenly “we’re not all like that” and “don’t make generalizations.”

        When Christians speak atheism back to atheists, it sounds fucked up because they are trying to rationalize how someone can’t believe what is so clearly true to them. And then when atheists speak Christianity back to Christians, pretty much word for word what they say, how they talk, how they explain why they think how they do, and with the major benefit of many atheists having been in that position themselves, they think we just had a bad experience with some other Christian before, explaining it all wrong.

        I’ve said it before, other people have said it before, and I will say it many times again, but what need would god have with the least intelligent people speaking for him? Tom’s blog, his assertion that Christians can be intellectual, crosses into another wedge of internet groups – the “smart” people, the people who read, think they can’t be fooled, love to complain about dumb people and feel superior as a group. These aren’t the gullible religious, these are the ones who read and cite scholars, and they can spell. That’s about it. You can see how Tom’s clubhouse is all about ridiculing atheists, and not doing the courtesy of hearing us. Theists also come here and do not listen and give relevant, thoughtful answers to keep the conversation flowing. See how many hundreds or thousands of posts can go over the same ground with no progress.

        When I make the “typical _____ Christian” remarks, they seem to have no awareness how similar they are. Ignore the comment with an irrelevant response, repeat the strawman, go away for a day or several, reset with a new comment about an old thing.

        • Susan

          reset with a new comment about an old thing.

          Yeah.

          I hate that.

          It seems to be all they’ve got.

        • http://www.gladlysufferingfools.blogspot.com Lex Lata

          I’d go a little further. Why would an omnipotent deity need any people speaking for it? Okay, perhaps some delegation for the day-to-day stuff could make sense, I suppose.

          But what kind of supervisor would continuously let myriad purported representatives issue vague, confusing, contradictory guidance about the big questions –Which holy book and sect get it right? Do any of them? Is there a hell? What is required for salvation?–without issuing a signed memo or convening a town hall meeting every once in a while to personally set the record straight?

          A no-show management style is indicative of indifference, impotence, malice, or non-existence.

        • Stacy

          Because God gave us free will. And because all those answers are found in the Bible. Yes I’m a Christian. But no I don’t believe in the “blood moons”. We aren’t all like that.

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

          Good to hear, but nuts like John Hagee is ruining the reputation of your religion. I don’t have a quick fix to suggest, obviously, but it would be good for sensible Christians to push back against this kind of insanity.

      • MNb

        Ah, thanks, I just reacted to that comment. I pointed at the relation with the Fall of Adam and Eve and with the Great Flood (understood literally or metaphorically). That’s a long, complicated and multi-parted story The atheist explanation of the Problem of Evil, which only consists of four words, is obviously better.

  • RichardSRussell

    No reference to THE LIAR David Barton should occur without giving him his proper, well earned, and richly deserved title, which is, to repeat, THE LIAR David Barton.

  • MNb

    Off topic, but I’m sure many folks here are interested:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html#.VRM7EBr65Iy

    So much for consciousness being immaterial.

    • Dys

      You know they’ll just say something silly along the lines of “they just turned off the antenna”, stretching that outdated wishful thinking metaphor to its limits.

    • Pofarmer

      Now that is remarkably cool. As we assimilate more information the hits are just going to come faster.

    • Ash

      This is extremely cool, thank you for sharing. I will be on the lookout for more research on this one.

    • wtfwjtd

      Here’s another fascinating gig from the world of science:

      http://secondnexus.com/technology-and-innovation/large-hadron-collider-scientists-hope-make-contact-parallel-universe/

      If we get sucked into a black hole, it’s been nice knownin’ ye.

  • Pofarmer
  • Pofarmer

    I think this comment by Sample1 over on Estranged Notions hits Tom Gilson right square on the fucking head.

    “The Abrahamic origin fables are flat wrong. Anyone with a piña colada,
    half a brain and who also likes making love at midnight should see that.
    Yet why that hasn’t created a domino effect for more believers to exit
    their respective cults baffles me. I think Pinker is spot on (as usual)
    in that by keeping things nebulous, purposely nebulous, Big Faith Obscurantism has found a semi-winning strategy for membership retention. God-ish, God-like or God-oid indeed.”

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

      It’s intermittent reinforcement–it’s actually stickier than reliable rewards.

  • nakedanthropologist

    Hagee is a delusional idiot and a dominionist. It’s astonishing, scary, and sad how many people listen to the absolute bullshit he peddles – never mind agreeing to it. Seriously, how gullible and ignorant does one have to be in order to take this tripe seriously?

  • Pofarmer

    Over the top?

    “Now Tom. I’ve listened to or read Sean Carroll, Laurence Krauss. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Victor Stenger, Matt Dillahunty,mand Scott Clifton, and I imagine a couple more I’m forgetting, talk about the Kalam and Nothing. Are they all stupid too? You see, this is the difference here betweem theists and atheists, or at least what you don’t get. It’s been said that theology is made up stuff about made up stuff. The Kalam and the idea of theological or philosophical Nothing fits right in. Why do I want to debate that on your terms? Why don’t I want to debate the Problem if Evil, or the effects of the Fall, or the consequence of Noahs flood on the plant life of Vermont? It all falls into the category if the Emporers clothes. If it weren’t for Christianities position in society, we wouldn’t be discussing any of them, they have no place in modern academics. You are welcome to show me why your premesis are sound, or you can just grouse that I don’t fully understand your terms, I “got it wrong”. Where, how, why does it matter, how does it change anything? You seem to think if you get just the right obscure formulation of an obscure philosophical argument that, BAM your theology all of a sudden just falls into place. Guess what? You’ve lost. We used to beleive that Woman came from a mans rib. We used to believe that Eclipses were bad omens. We used to believe that comets fortold great misery or great success, we used to believe that meteors were flung by God from between the Moon and the Earth as signs or warnings from an angry God. We used to believe that frogs came from mud,mthat flies came from carrion, that demons and evil spirits caused disease. And the argument from Nothing is what you’re down to. Fitting”

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

      Reminds me of Sean Carroll’s comment that you don’t find discussions of unmoved movers or first causes in books on cosmology, you find differential equations!

      Better watch out. You know Tom: being rational = being mean.

      • Pofarmer

        That’s exactly the point I’ve been trying to get accross, apparently unsuccessfully. I think they even think William Lane Craig won the debate with Carroll. Or that him going back and touching up his philosophy in thousands and thousands of words means he has a strong case.

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

          It’s a sad intellectual position when a cloud of words counts as a good argument.

          Things start to go downhill when they have no answer for, “So God exists, you say? Cool–where is he? Show him to me.” They can’t answer the obvious question with the obvious evidence, but they think they recover their credibility with philosophy?

        • Pofarmer

          I think they’ve brought their strong case with the whole “Ground of being” argument. However, since it’s unfalsifiable, it fails out the gate. The best they can do is come up with a philosophical argument that makes God a “Metaphysical necessity” thereby begging the question and committing God of the Gaps all in one fell swoop. So, still a poor argument.

    • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

      I’ve thrown a couple of comments in the thread on Christians not being skeptical, explaining what exactly it means, and why it doesn’t equate to an accusation that all Christians are stupid. I’ve mentioned the problem with making assumptions favourable to your own case that you haven’t justified and that your opponents might not agree with.

      Now they’re back to arguing based on the gospels being early and being eyewitness accounts, and saying that someone who knows who Pilate was and has some basic geographical knowledge probably has all the miracle stuff right too.

      Ah well. I tried.

      • Pofarmer

        You can make a better case that the Gospels relied in Josephus for what details they get right and are all second century. They are way over invested in their case to see it.

      • Pofarmer

        Wow, holy shit, just read through the end of that comment string. Citing Cold Case Christianity and N.T. wright? Saying Luke was an excellent historian despite the fact we don’t even know who Luke was? Calling the 4 Gospels independent witnesses? These people are every Evangelical Troll who has ever dropped by here. You should name drop Ehrman, Finklestein, MacDonald, etc, that’s if you even care at this point. What a bunch of Maroons. Thinking Christian? Snort.

        • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

          I’ve put another comment up, pointing out some of the problems with what they’ve said so far, although taking apart every claim so far in detail would take far too long.

          Summary paragraph is thus:

          In short, the evidence so far presented consists of written claims, some of which are by people who may or may not have been witnesses; which copy each other to some extent; all from people favourable to one particular opinion closely related to those claims; and which have no corroborating physical evidence supporting anything other than incidental details. If anything in this paragraph is false, then tell me where I’ve gone wrong. Would any of you accept that level of evidence for alien abductions, or ghosts, or another religion, or anything else that you don’t already believe in? Do you genuinely think I should convert based solely on evidence of that kind?

          As far as I can see, everything in that paragraph is a fair assessment of the evidence given in favour of Christianity in that thread. I don’t see how even a Christian could say I’m misrepresenting anything there. But when you sum it all up in one paragraph like that, and note the limitations of such evidence, it starts looking incredibly weak.

          I’m wondering if anybody’s going to answer that last question with a simple “yes”.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you familiar with Mathew Ferguson? He has a blog called adverseapologetica and is an actual historian working in his PhD. He has an excellent article on why Luke sucks as a historian, and really even fails as ancient biography. You should be able to search and find it and link it into that thread. Another good recourse is Chris Remsberg’s “The Christ” where he lists all the contemporary scholars of the time who have surviving works that never mention Jesus or Christianity. It is available free on line.

        • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

          I’m not sure I want to get into a battle of links; that can be annoying, and just result in losing a lot of time. They’ll just send a link back, and then I have to try to rebut an entire website in one blog comment.

          I’ll take a look at Ferguson’s blog though. Do you mean John Remsberg for the second one? If so, it’s a bit tangential to my point. If it turns out that Josephus or Tacitus really did know about Jesus, it just shows that he existed as some guy in Galilee, which I already believe for other reasons anyway. Unless someone wrote “it was awfully dark for a while today, and there were zombies everywhere” then it doesn’t really affect the miracle claims.

        • Pofarmer

          Sorry, yes, John Remsberg. Remsburg lists around a hundred contemporary scholars in the right time and the right place that never, apparently, noticed anything? To me it’s an interesting admission and information I’d never seen in that form anywhere else. Ferguson has some great posts. A very good one linked by Richard Carrier on the 10-42 apologetic. Thing is, it’s pretty clear these guys don’t get outside the standard apologetics resources, the links are formthe lurkers, not necesarily the argument at hand,

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

          I read somewhere (might’ve been Ferguson) about how history worked back then. There are examples where they actually cited their sources. Where they seemed to have roughly the standards of evidence that a modern historian would.

          Compared to those contemporary examples, Luke looks pretty weak … almost as if it were a different genre.

        • Pofarmer

          Hmmmm……..

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

          I’ll be interested to hear if they respond with thoughtful arguments.

        • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

          Early indications suggest: No.

        • https://plus.google.com/103783311760679881592/about Ophis

          Update: no. No they didn’t. Now I remember why I don’t bother trying to do this very often.

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

          Thanks for the update. You fought the good fight.

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

          Well, yeah. Luke matches Josephus very closely so he must be an excellent historian. We say that Josephus is reliable because he’s just about the only game in town and there’s little to contradict him. We say that Luke was independent from Josephus (and not copied) because it pleases us to do so. See how that works?

        • s.zorin

          What a bunch of “maroons” those who wrote and enforced the history of nazi Germany and of Hitler. They are pro-Jewish trolls and NOT independent witnesses. The Americans were wrong and Hitler was right. We need truthful historians and not trolls.

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

          Huh? You’re advancing a pro-Nazi position?

          Find another blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And your a shite bag.

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

          Oh, come now. Isn’t that a bit strong?

          Jew haters are people too. Sort of.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The world seems to be full of them, Jew haters that is,..also known as fuckwits…Jew haters a mean as in, all those Arab fuckwits …Nazi day’s were a lot less full of them vis a vis today apparently, as it appears, Hitler exterminated circa 4-6 million, but that’s at a time when there was such numbers. but the repercussions of being one, a Jew a mean, appeared to be more or less consequential to ones survival I suppose. Christians faired okay it seems in Hitler’s Christian Nazi Germany….unless one dissented of course.

          Religion and religious belief is shite. It breeds contempt, sectarian hatred and suspicion.

          Now if you will excuse me, I have a grave need of a scrub down with a wire brush and Dettol.

        • s.zorin

          You are truly ignorant and you cannot read between the lines; but I give you credit and a plus for honesty in describing yourself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I pride myself in knowing my capabilities. Ya do know that you are ignorant too…right? I mean apart from being a shite bag of course.

  • evodevo

    The Shmitah hasn’t been observed since the first uprising circa 66-70 AD. Not to mention all the other omissions and mistakes and stretching of deadlines observed in his narrative. Hey.. it’s fundies. Not surprised.

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

      Count on Fundies to be more Jewish than the Jews.

      • MR

        Howl!

  • Guthrum

    It is now August, the last full week. Look at the events of the last few months:
    California hit by devastating fires, blown by unusual sirocco winds from the desert.
    Parts of US swelter under record heat. India and Pakistan bake under a “heat dome”, causing deaths of thousands. Volcanic and earthquake activity at record levels. Airplanes falling from the sky. Then Iran gets hit by meteorites and record heat (165 degree heat index). This after the signing of the nuclear agreement and their leader continuing to threaten the US and Israel. Animals gone wild: unusual animal attacks in US. China rocked by strange explosions. On July 3, there was an unexpected blood moon caused by the forest fire smoke.
    This fall will see the Pope come to the US to address the UN and meet with the President. Some are forecasting an economic disaster worse than 2008. China’s economy is in freefall. The US stock market had huge losses last week. In October there could be a reset of the reserve currency by the IMF, causing trouble for the US. It seems the president wants to deal with the US enemies (Iran, Cuba), and cast off important allies (Israel). In the middle all of this will be the fourth blood moon and an eclipse !
    This fall will be important, maybe apocalyptic. We are in the end times, no doubt about it.

    • Ron

      When Texas governor Rick Perry held a prayer-a-palooza for drought relief in 2011 conditions only worsened over the next four years. Yet when Muslims prayed for rain in drought-stricken California last year, they received relief within 24 hours.

      Goes to show that Allah is the real deal.

      • Odd Jørgensen

        That was obviously backlog in the prayer stream, and the usual bad aim by the Almighty, Perry caused the rain in Cali.

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

      If you want to pick and choose your evidence to imagine this is the worst of times, that’s possible, though those of us with a clearer memory of history (1943 was a particularly sucky year, as was the period around 1350 when plague killed roughly half of Europe) will laugh at your hysteria.

      And there’s the problem. You declare that we’re doubtless in the end times, but we’ll bounce back and continue on with no repercussions for your outlandish claim.

      So make some. Make a clear prediction and give us consequences, which don’t have to be dramatic. For example: “I, Guthrum, declare that Jesus will return by 2020 or I will publicly declare my error and refuse to make such stupid predictions again.”

    • MR

      I can smell your paranoia from here. I especially like the “unexpected blood moon.” There will always be some drama for end-of-timers to play off of for the gullible. Just keep sending in that check!

    • MNb

      Of course we are in the end times. We will be for several more billions of years, if we humans don’t screw up.

  • RichJ

    Bob Seidensticker shows a tremendous amount of ignorance and bias in his writing. For example, the facts David Barton talks to are correct. Check out the first proposed “Great Seal” of the United States, by Ben Franklin, and you will see a clearly depicted scene from Israel’s past. I would say Seidensticker should grow a brain – but, on second thought it is his integrity that is inadequate.

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

      Rich: Then give me some David Barton facts that are correct.

      You do realize that his book on Thomas Jefferson was pulled by his own Christian publisher for the glaring historical errors? This guy is a very poor “historian.”

      I’m not sure that it’s me who needs the brain.

      • MR

        Bob shows a tremendous amount of ignorance and bias? And then he leads with David Barton…?

        Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!!

      • RichJ

        Boring …. liberals always with the false accusations. David Barton only points to source documents the e-print versions of which many can be found on line. I have seen and read too many of them for myself.

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

          Sorry, Rich–maybe I’m stupid. What was the false accusation? Was it the bit about David Barton’s book about Jefferson being pulled by his own Christian publisher because even they realized that its accuracy was inadequate? The book charged as “the least credible history book in print”–is that what we’re talking about?

        • RichJ

          I’ve read the accounts and I’ll take Barton’s word for it over people trying to destroy him. Your motivation aligns with those wanting to deny the Christian roots of America.

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

          Well, aren’t you generous! And naive. I’ll take the word of Barton’s Christian publisher, Thomas Nelson, that the work was crap.

          Christian roots of America? Tell me more. I’m curious in particular to find anything Christian or even religious in the Constitution, the governing document of the U.S. Looks pretty secular to me. What do you think?

        • RichJ

          Naive – could be, but at least I read the critics and
          Barton’s response before I made up my mind.

          The founding of this nation from the Mayflower Compact to the Jamestown dedication which were both expressly dedicated to God, show the inclination of the people toward God. Eventually all of the colonies even had
          charters that required faith in God. The Founders knew and stated in many different ways that it was the civilizing influence of Christianity that allowed this nation to be self-governing.

          The word secular has been around for a very long time. It
          should be easy for you to find a bunch of Founding fathers that used that word to describe the Constitution if indeed it is secular. Neutral is not secular. Only in our modern era it has been redefined to be secular.

          The Constitution was very carefully crafted to keep the civil government from interfering with religion while allowing the moral and spiritual influence of the church or religion (not instantiating the various offices of religious hierarchy as official positions) to influence people in government. The two institutions stay separate. But the Church is allowed to influence the morals, and values of the citizens.

        • adam

          “The Founders knew and stated in many different ways that it was the civilizing influence of Christianity that allowed this nation to be self-governing.”

          Not so much….

        • RichJ

          He is describing the effect of coercion. I guess you have trouble reading. He also said this about Christianity, “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 in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others.” Thomas Jefferson, Bergh, Writings of Jefferson, Vol. X, p.380, letter to Benjamin Rush on April 21, 1803.

        • adam

          “He is describing the effect of coercion. I guess you have trouble reading.”

          No I have no trouble reading.

          And yet he took a blade to his bible and removed all the MAGIC SUPERNATURAL CRAP and treated his Jesus just like Buddha. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/402516b5f1311c5d967bf3baf2234330e3813357649f794347512bd481a45d48.jpg

        • adam

          And of course you understand that Jefferson did NOT believe in the divinity of Jesus… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/03bdb652b78a3f5acbb5f33ce5dc6acc11214381d9c6600588f2fba6e1f485fd.jpg

        • Dys

          Thomas Jefferson was a Christian only in the sense that he meant it – in other words, no one would really consider him one today. He was essentially a classical deist and a fan of Jesus’s doctrines (the ones he considered valid).

          He rejected Jesus’s divinity, denied the claimed miracles, thought the Book of Revelation was nonsense, and detested the god of the OT.

          There’s a reason some of Jefferson’s political opponents accused him of being an atheist, even though he wasn’t one.

        • Rudy R

          Keep in mind that some of the Founding Fathers were slaveholders, including Jefferson. So even though Constitutional writers were progressive in terms of building the Republic, they were not paragons when it came to their moral and individual beliefs.

        • adam

          ” The Founders knew and stated in many different ways that it was the civilizing influence of Christianity that allowed this nation to be self-governing.”

        • RichJ

          That criticism of his does not in any way prove your point. Nor does it mean that JM was not a Christian. If you are reasonable (which I doubt) you have to ask yourself what are his standards of judgement and they are clearly Christian.

        • Kodie

          You should ask yourself how you determine that people who say this country is not founded on Christian principles really meant that this country should be run on fundamentalist Christian principles. You should also compare a democracy with your theocratic wet dream.

        • RichJ

          No one I know said or wrote anything of the sort. This nation is a Constitutional Republic not a Democracy. You need to consult your dictionary for the definition of theocracy.

        • adam

          “That criticism of his does not in any way prove your point.”

          It certainly does.

          ” If you are reasonable (which I doubt) you have to ask yourself what are
          his standards of judgement and they are clearly Christian.”

          The same goes for Hitler https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e705dbaf78d689293fa23e4103ad8908372bdb26af2c6785da47c8aceae7251.jpg

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

          You’ve got the credentials to evaluate the historical value of a book? I’m impressed. I have to go with experts’ conclusions.

          Yes, the Mayflower Compact is very Christian. And the US Constitution is very much not. There’s your problem.

          I’ve written more here about how different the US would look if it came from a biblical foundation.

          The Founders knew and stated in many different ways that it was the civilizing influence of Christianity that allowed this nation to be self-governing.

          They must’ve had a good laugh when they realized that they’d forgotten to put that bit in the Constitution.

          It should be easy for you to find a bunch of Founding fathers that used that word to describe the Constitution if indeed it is secular. Neutral is not secular.

          Neutral? Secular? This subtlety is lost on me.

          The Constitution mentions religion only to limit it—Article VI says that there shall be no religious test for public office.

          The Constitution was very carefully crafted to keep the civil government from interfering with religion while allowing the moral and spiritual influence of the church or religion (not instantiating the various offices of religious hierarchy as official positions) to influence people in government.

          “Influence” them? How is that relevant when “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”?

        • RichJ

          I can clearly see how subtlety is lost on you. Writing on how different the US would be if it came from a biblical foundation is obviously not in your wheelhouse. It is, as I wrote, they designed a government to be neutral toward religion, not secular. They saw clearly the dangers of a theocracy and steered clear. No human government can be a theocracy without serious oppression, they knew this, Secular is anti-religion.

        • Kodie

          You’re getting your information from liars. Try the dictionary.

        • RichJ

          Kodie, you are not using your brain. I am. Also, look up the word secularism.

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

          Using your brain? If you say so. You’re certainly not using a dictionary.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Dunning-Kruger is catching.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Take your own advice then why don’t ya?

          What is secularism?

          Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law.

          There are many religious secularists.

          You’d do well to read the whole kit and caboodle before commenting further. To not do so will only lead to your further embarrassment.

          http://www.secularism.org.uk/what-is-secularism.html

        • RichJ

          Secularism: the belief that religion should not play a role
          in government, education, or other public parts of society.
          Webster’s Dictionary.

          Clearly you have not read the writing of the founders. They (I have read many) including Jefferson did not want secularism. All of them in one way or another warned of the dangers of disregarding the moral constraints of Christianity.
          Jefferson – “We hold these truths to be self-evident
          that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights …” The biggest part of this document was based on a pamphlet put out by the Reverend John Wise some 50 years earlier, titled the Vindication of the Government of New England Churches.
          None of you guys have a decent understanding of the history of this nation and all of you seem to be anti-Christian.

        • Dys

          Sorry Rich, but the creator Jefferson was referring to was definitely not the Christian one in any sense. It’s a reference to “Nature’s God”, the deistic god of many enlightenment thinkers.

          None of you guys have a decent understanding of the history of this nation

          And it seems that you’re a bit to close to being a Barton scholar to be taken seriously on the issue yourself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “We hold these truths to be self-evidentthat all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights …”

          See that bit there…not “our” Creator, not “my” Creator…but “their” Creator….there is a difference. I don’t know about you but that seems very secular to me.

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

          Secularism: the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society. Webster’s Dictionary.

          So then your “Secular is anti-religion” claim is wrong.

          Clearly you have not read the writing of the founders. They (I have read many) including Jefferson did not want secularism. All of them in one way or another warned of the dangers of disregarding the moral constraints of Christianity.

          What wouldn’t you give to be a fly on the wall when they found out that they’d forgotten to add the Christianity to the Constitution?!

          “You did at that Christian stuff in, right?”

          “Whaaa … ? I thought you did!”

          Must’ve been hilarious.

          Jefferson – “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights …”

          Dang it, and you were so close. That’s from the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, while the DoI is a historic document and nothing more.

          “Creator” in that case is a deist concept and doesn’t refer to Yahweh.

          None of you guys have a decent understanding of the history of this nation and all of you seem to be anti-Christian.

          How lucky that you’re here to knock some sense into us.

          And you’ll have to point out the anti-Christian bit. Anti-Christian excesses, yes indeed. But I think none of us want Christianity outlawed or for Christians to have any less free speech than we do.

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

          Just diggin’ that old hole ever deeper, aren’t you?

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

          I can clearly see how subtlety is lost on you.

          You’re very kind. I marvel that you’re so patient with me.

          Writing on how different the US would be if it came from a biblical foundation is obviously not in your wheelhouse.

          And yet I wrote a whole post on this. Read it.

          Secular is anti-religion.

          Fascinating! That’s not what my dictionary says. Show me how you support this remarkable claim.

        • RichJ

          Just because you wrote something does not mean it is correct. My patience is wearing thin. All you your are capable of is writing what you think the Constitution would look like based on what you think Christians believe.You are pretty much clueless. Look up secularism.

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

          Just because you wrote something does not mean it is correct.

          Agreed. That’s why I provided a link so that you could read my thoughts on the matter and comment.

          My patience is wearing thin.

          Does someone need a hug?

          You are pretty much clueless. Look up secularism.

          Okeydoke: “secularism: the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society.” Merriam-Webster

          Your “Secular is anti-religion” claim is looking even more groundless. You lose.

        • adam

          “I’ve read the accounts and I’ll take Barton’s word for it over people trying to destroy him.”

          It says a lot that you will take the work of a demonstrated LIAR at his word.

          Now IF you want to take a look at a country with ‘Christian roots’ just look a bit back in history:

        • RichJ

          You say I am taking the word of a demonstrated liar, while you are taking the word of Adolph Hitlers that he is a Christian to prove me wrong? That is at the very least great irony.

        • adam

          No, just like with Barton there is a history to look at.

          There are hundreds if not thousands of examples of Hitler being Christian.

          Barton has a history of LYING…

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

          Barton is indeed a demonstrated liar (though you could quibble about the word). His own Christian publisher made that clear.

          Hitler certainly is a dick, but I don’t know that he has much of a reputation as a liar. I’m missing the irony. You know that Biggest Dick isn’t the category here, right?

        • Dys

          Of course you will. Because David Barton’s real profession is telling conservatives who don’t know any better what they desperately want to believe about American history. That it doesn’t really match well with actual history is besides the point – Barton doesn’t have a problem with lying, as long as he’s lying for Jesus.

          Do yourself a favour – don’t get your history lessons from an evangelical pretending to be a historian.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Check out the first proposed “Great Seal” of the United States, by Ben Franklin, and you will see a clearly depicted scene from Israel’s past.

      Whaaaaaa?

      The Great Seal was designed by a committee….well three as a matter of fact.

      Franklin proposed a scene depicting the parting of the Red Sea from Exodus….Congress blew Franklin’s idea off. Jefferson proposed a different scene from Exodus, the wandering in the wilderness. Adam’s favoured The Judgement of Hercules, Anglo Saxon Hengest and Horsa were also proposed. Pagan’s all. What is the relevance there do you think?

      The final design was a combination of elements provided by all three committees:

      First committee

      E Pluribus Unum

      Eye of Providence in a triangle

      1776 in Roman numerals

      Second committee

      Thirteen red and white stripes and blue chief on shield

      Constellation of 13 stars, surrounded by clouds and glory

      War and peace theme, including olive branch and (on first draft) arrows

      Third committee

      Eagle (though not a bald eagle)

      Unfinished pyramid

      Overall design of the reverse

      Charles Thomson

      Overall design of the obverse

      Bald eagle

      Annuit Cœptis

      Novus Ordo Seclorum

      William Barton

      Vertical stripes on shield

      Position of eagle’s wings

      David Barton is a two bit hack with no credibility in academia.

      I would say Seidensticker should grow a brain – but, on second thought it is his integrity that is inadequate.

      Seriously? This from you who came here to defend David Barton? This David Barton?

      Barton collects early American documents, and his official biography describes him as “an expert in historical and constitutional issues”. Barton holds no formal credentials in history or law, and scholars dispute the accuracy and integrity of his assertions about history, accusing him of practicing misleading historical revisionism, “pseudoscholarship” and spreading “outright falsehoods”. According to the New York Times, “Many professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian Education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.” Barton’s 2012 book The Jefferson Lies was voted “the least credible history book in print” by the users of the History News Network website. The book’s publisher, the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, disavowed the book and withdrew it from sale. A senior executive said that Thomas Nelson could not stand by the book because “basic truths just were not there.”

      You’ve a bit of a brass neck to criticise anyone’s brains and integrity. You want to get your own house in order first.

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

        An American brings up the Great Seal, but the Irish guy has to correct him about how it came together?

        Embarrassing!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Only because I’ve been in a few head to heads before on the subject. Everything from the Illuminati to the Masonic conspiracy theorists.

  • JohnStefanyszyn

    “blood moon”……sounds like part of a pagan religious ritual.

    The Jews and others hype up this “cult like” observation of the appearance of a “red / blood moon” …but it is caused by a Total Lunar Eclipse (the Sun, Earth and Moon form a straight line). The Earth blocks any direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. The Sun is behind the Earth, so the Sun’s light casts the Earth’s shadow on the Moon. This shadow covers the entire Moon and causes a total lunar eclipse, which makes the moon color to appear to be reddish.

    This is what it is and nothing more.

    The important significance of the mention in scripture that the moon will turn red / will darken is that the earth will darken the light of the moon.

    In a symbolic way, this means that the WAY OF THE EARTH ( of MAN) will cause to obscure the light of the moon, the light reflected from the sun…that it will obscure the Light of the One God , the Light of the One Truth in His assembly…that the WAY of MAN will place itself in between the One Truth of the Creator and His Son Jesus Christ….making itself into an image of ‘god’ that all of mankind will worship and carry its mark on their foreheads and hands.

    There is only one belief that ALL of mankind has embraced as his way of life…and that is FREEDOM ( freedom of self-rights, freedom of religion).
    And this FREEDOM dictates that it is RIGHT, as a false light, and a right, to be free to worship ANY ‘god’.
    …this is the abomination that desolates , that OBSCURES the True Light of the One Creator, which is defined by the Lord Jesus Christ.

    This is the tribulation, the testing that One Creator has sent upon man to test those that claim to serve His Son Jesus Christ…but many of the stars will fall and be darkened by their compromise for their first love for FREEDOM.

    Very soon, the Lord Jesus Christ will return, as a thief in man’s eyes, to rule the earth in obedience and power as the ONE KING according to the Will of ‘I AM’ and NOT according to man’s first love for his freedom, for his desire to serve and magnify oneself (XES) as a ‘god’.

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

      It’s not Jews behind hyping up the blood moon thing; it’s opportunistic Christians like John Hagee.

      Very soon, the Lord Jesus Christ will return

      He didn’t return the last thousand times some Chicken Little said that the end was nigh. Why should it happen this time?

  • Andrew Brinn

    I’m sure this guy may have made some valid points, but the moment he started cited Wikipedia as a credible source of info, I checked out.

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

      What I like about Wikipedia is that there are plenty of citations there for the curious reader to follow.

      I welcome more scholarly citations for the Wikipedia links above, thanks in advance.

    • MNb

      So everything coming from Wikipedia is wrong?
      That’s as silly as relying on this source only.

    • Ignorant Amos

      There’s nothing wrong with using Wikipedia as long as you know what you are doing. That’s why universities accept citation from that source when writing one is producing researched scholarly essay’s.

      The fact that discourse on web blog comboxes are not even that shouldn’t matter all that much and is even better if there is an error you can see and rectify to all the rest of us.