10 Reasons to Not Believe Christianity Until You Believe in Aliens

Do you think that Jesus rose from the dead? That he was virgin born? That he sits in heaven at the right hand of the creator of the universe?

That the gospel story is actual history is an immense claim, but Christians say they have the evidence. Let’s test that. If Christians accept this claim, then to be consistent they must also accept any claim with better evidence. Such a claim is that space aliens have visited the earth.

UFO tow truckLet’s compare evidence for these two claims point by point.

1. Recentness of event. You can interview people today who claim to have seen UFOs or encountered aliens. To understand the gospel claims, we must peer back across 2000 years of history.

2. Number of sources. Thousands claim to have been abducted, and the number who claim only to have seen aliens or their technology must be far higher. There were only four gospels, and those aren’t even independent accounts.

3. Period of oral history. The period of oral history is negligible for many alien claims. It may be just hours or days from a claimed event until a newspaper story. By contrast, the Gospels were written decades after the claimed events.

4. Reliability of source. It may be easy to imagine alien claimants as insane, drunk, or uneducated, but one psychiatrist studied 800 claimed abductees and was struck with the ordinariness of the population. Another survey reported that this group is no more prone to mental disorder than the general population.

Question the sanity of those who claims to have seen aliens if you want, but we at least have something tangible—interviews with those people and people who know them, police records, and so on. With Peter and Paul or some other Christian patriarch we have 2000-year-old stories, and ones containing miracles at that. Why argue that they’re accurate?

5. Natural vs. supernatural. The supposed aliens came from a planet (we know about planets) on which there was intelligent life (we know about intelligent life), and they presumably got here in a spaceship (we know about technology and spaceships). This is 100 percent natural.

Science keeps finding strange new animals on earth living in extreme environments—worms that live miles underground, in glaciers, or in hot or cold places at the bottom of the ocean. Is it hard to imagine exotic animals on other worlds? Their discovery would be surprising or even shocking, but we wouldn’t need to discard any scientific laws if aliens presented themselves.

By contrast, the Gospel story requires you to believe in supernatural beings and supernatural events. We have plenty of claims but no scientific consensus that even one is valid.

6. Cultural gulf. The evidence for aliens is from our time, from our culture, and in our language. By contrast, the gospel story is from a culture long ago and far away, and the Greek gospels are already one culture removed from the actual events. Jesus and the apostles spoke Aramaic and came from a Jewish environment; the gospels were written in Greek by authors who lived in a Greek environment.

7. Contradictions. Any contradiction between alien claims can be chalked up to a different space ship or a different alien race. By contrast, the four gospel accounts are trying to document the same events. Important contradictions, such as whether Jesus was crucified after the Passover meal (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or before (John), are devastating to the claim that the gospels are history.

8. Quality of evidence. On the alien side, you talk directly to people who claim to be eyewitnesses. The argument that the gospel writers were eyewitnesses or close to them is a flimsy tradition.

Our oldest complete copies of the New Testament date from the fourth century. Yes, we do have fragments of New Testament books that date earlier, but these are incomplete and are still copies from one to two centuries after the original authorship.

9. Criterion of Embarrassment. Christians ask, “But who would make up the gospel story? Who would endure the persecution?” First, I never claimed that anyone made up the story, simply that the supernatural elements in the gospel story are easily explained by supposing that it evolved as it was passed along. Second, that defense crumbles when we consider that alien claimants tell their story today despite much potential ridicule. Is a story in the face of persecution strong support for the truth of the story? Okay—then consider it strong evidence for alien claims.

10. Christianity is a different kind of claim, a far less likely kind of claim. Pick an event from history–a battle, a speech, a natural disaster. We have plenty of examples of battles, speeches, and disasters. With UFO visitations, however, we have no examples that are accepted by science, and that’s why historically reliable events are more believable than UFO claims.

But Christianity takes it to a new level of unbelievable. The categories we’re talking about with UFOs–technology, spacecraft, intelligent life forms, and an eagerness to explore–are well understood. The problem with UFOs is not that they’re inherently implausible but simply that we don’t have reliable evidence of one. And that’s why UFOs beat Christianity. UFOs requires a change in degree in our thinking, while Christianity requires a change in kind (we must accept a new category, the supernatural).

If the Gospel stories are credible, shouldn’t alien stories be far more credible? Seen the other way around, Christians who read this and think up many objections to the alien argument need to apply those same objections against the gospel story to see if it holds up. I think they’ll find that the net that pulls in Christianity will pull in a lot of bycatch as well.

Reality is that which, 
when you stop believing in it, 
doesn’t go away.
— Philip K. Dick

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/25/13.)

Image credit: Travel Nevada, flickr, CC

About Bob Seidensticker
  • busterggi

    Except the belief in aliens is already called mormonism.

    • epicurus

      Hah, good one!

    • Sophia Sadek

      Or Scientology.

    • Loren Petrich

      There are several UFO cults or UFO religions, and one of the biggest of these is Raelism. It was founded by French race-car driver and journalist Claude Vorilhon, a.k.a Raël. He claimed that he met with some ET’s called Elohim, singular Eloha. They had genetically engineered humanity into existence.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        Oddly enough, they consider themselves atheists.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course, and why not? It falls within the definition of atheism no problem.

          The problem remains….

          Clarke’s third law

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          Which is another reason why the God hypothesis is bunkum of course.

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          I guess it just raises the question: how do you define a god, even in theory?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hence my theological noncognitivism, or igtheism, steps in to the fray.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Ignosticism

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          I’m sympathetic to that concept. However, as I don’t have a belief in any gods I’m comfortable with the term atheist, no matter how they are defined. Lack of a positive belief is the sufficient condition.

        • Susan

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          Which is another reason why the God hypothesis is bunkum of course.

          Yes. I don’t see how they can possibly justify their claims through reason or evidence.

          First, their claims are always vague, (though their prescriptions are very specific).

          Terms like “immaterial”, “supernatural”, “soul”, “perfect being”, “outside of time and space” are meaningless prima facie.

          Efforts to get them to clarify those terms are met with vaguer terms and incredulity that we don’t get it.

          Second, their claims can never be proven, demonstrated or falsified.

          On what basis do they make them, then?

        • Greg G.

          Second, their claims can never be proven, demonstrated or falsified.

          They consider those as positive characteristics, especially the last.

          Some hang onto their religion including the parts that are demonstrably wrong as proof of their faith. The Progressives jettison the parts that are obviously wrong yet hang onto the parts that not obviously wrong but hang onto the baseless contrivances, nonetheless.

        • Pofarmer

          “On what basis do they make them, then?”

          Ignorance and wishful thinking, mainly.

        • Greg G.

          I think the wishful thinking comes from a fear of death, which is exploited by the religion.

        • Pofarmer

          Mainly, yes.

        • TheNuszAbides

          bolstered plenty by the myriad encrustations (or at least easy interpretations, to wit) of zealotry, ‘movement purity’ and anything else that appeals to our inner tyrant.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Yes. I don’t see how they can possibly justify their claims through reason or evidence.

          i submit that the reason you don’t see this is that it’s long since painfully, blatantly obvious that the mere words of All Theologicalizing Underpinningnesses must inevitably appeal* to anything but.
          any ‘teaching’ aid to pile on top of mere words is as handy a tool for Salvation(TM) as demonization is for torture and slaughter.
          it would indeed be a mysteriously awesome trick, were the InvidiousAncient and ObsoleteVenerable Tradition of Theologification to now come up with a clear, compelling IP claim to The Most All-Encompassing And Crucial Basic Unit Of Profound Meaning after scientific skepticism has over several centuries been increasingly outpacing more or less every worldly trace of influence that religious dogma has been stunting or mummifying for millennia.
          restraint is a valuable lesson that (it seems to me) goes unheeded by a mal-proportionate(?) mass of humanity. what i don’t see in particular is how supernaturalist authoritarianism can adjust to become, on balance, less than toxic to the prospects of achieving Type I civilization (let alone III, [let alone]^2 ‘first contact’).

          *(even if we truncate our overview to {honest appeals})

  • Greg G.

    There are more than four gospels. It was determined that there could only be four gospels, no more, no less, because of the four winds and the four corners of the Earth. They just picked the least implausible four.

    • TheNuszAbides

      wasn’t the 4 Elements part of that as well (perhaps even on record)? i sense i’ve read something about what you’re referring to recently, probably at adversusapologetica (it’d would be an ‘old’ post, i think i’m on 2013 lately)…

      • Greg G.

        I thought this was interesting so I saved the text of what I posted over a year ago in a reply:

        From http://www.ntcanon.org/Irenaeus.shtml

        Irenaeus was a first century bishop. Most first century Christians followed one gospel or another but not limited to the four canonical books. He was the first to argue that there should be exactly four gospels and no more, no less.

        He wrote that Matthew proclaims Jesus’ human birth from David and Abraham, which agrees with the link you gave.

        He wrote of Mark as from a prophetic Spirit, which disagrees with your link about the Son of Man.

        Irenaeus wrote that Luke had a priestly character, not the Son of Adam, in your link.

        He said that John speaks of Jesus being princely and mighty and coming from God which agrees with your link.

        So who is completely right, the ancient church father or Abcde Zyxwvutsr?

        Before you answer, read the reasoning Irenaeus used to decide that there should be four gospels, no more, no less:

        The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.

        • TheNuszAbides

          good gravy! i wonder if this contributed much to ye olde bodily humors theory (which may be why i was thinking of the elements thing, which are at least medievally related)

  • Loren Petrich

    Here’s another one: UFO contactees. People who claim to have had close encounters of the friendly kind with extraterrestrial visitors. People like George Adamski and Billy Meier. The visitors often have a lot to say, and they often describe themselves as coming from some sort of Star Trek United Federation of Planets.

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

      Good addition. I wanted to narrow it down so that the claim was remarkable despite there being loads of people in that category.

      • Loren Petrich

        George Adamski and Billy Meier even have witnesses for some of their encounters, though those witnesses don’t seem to have seen very much. They also have lots of pictures of their ET friends’ vehicles.

        George Adamski had six witnesses for his encounter with Orthon of Venus, a youngish human(oid) gentleman with long blond hair and wearing a dark brown jumpsuit, in the southern California desert late in 1952. They signed affidavits to that effect, and one of them did a drawing of Orthon from having observed him with binoculars (source: “Flying Saucers Have Landed”, 1953). Adamski reported on it to some newspapers soon after, and his coauthored book was published half a year later. He followed up with “Inside the Space Ships” (1955), describing some later encounters. It reads like a cross between Star Trek and some very batty New-Age woo-woo — and some big howlers about the Moon and Venus.

        But George Adamski was very well-documented. There are numerous accounts of him from contemporaries, like the FBI agents who composed a file on him. There are also numerous pictures of him, and even some video of him. He was also the author of several books; books on his ET friends, telepathy, and “cosmic philosophy”.

        By comparison, the documentation of Jesus Christ was *much* weaker. Nobody ever painted a picture of him or carved a statue of him when he was alive. We have no idea of who his biographers were, no idea who “Matthew”, “Mark”, “Luke”, and “John” were. When he lived is problematic. Wikipedia cites 7 – 2 BCE to 30 – 33 CE for him, with his career being around 30 CE. Wikipedia also cites for Mark 65 – 70 CE, Matthew 80 – 85 CE, Luke 80 – 85 CE, and John 90 – 100 CE (the more restrictive data ranges).

        That makes Mark written some 35 years — at least — after his career, and the others after that. For Adamski’s first contact in 1952, that becomes 1987.

        • TheNuszAbides

          That makes Mark written some 35 years — at least — after his career, and the others after that. For Adamski’s first contact in 1952, that becomes 1987.

          i’m pickin’ up what you’re puttin’ down, but in the interest of technicality, shouldn’t this be adjusted for ‘inflation’? (perhaps, rather, ‘accelerants’? photography, telephony etc.)
          just to be clear, i’m not suggesting that the various zeroes, within a generous array of Jesus’s implicit and explicit variables, be adjusted. carry the nothin’ …

  • Michael Neville

    Kudos for the Philip K. Dick quotation.

    • Sophia Sadek

      One of San Francisco’s finest.

      • TheNuszAbides

        hear, hear!

  • JBrown971

    I don’t think you are intellectually honest with your presuppositions.
    1) You share the same doubt of all things historical?
    2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?
    3) Do you have proof that only oral history was used during the time of Christ?
    4) All historical documents 2000+ years old then suspect or do you pick and choose based on your worldview?
    5) Is the use of scientific consensus to prove events as natural, scientific?
    6) How close to your cultural bubble must an evident take place in order for it to be valid?
    7) That is simply an untruth. Please provide Biblical passages.
    8) That makes nothing Josephus writes about acceptable.
    9) Which alien abductees have been crucified, stoned or fed to lions? Not sure being called crazy compares to the threat of death.
    10) “Reliable evidence” The abductees believe they have evidence and yet you call them implausible. Isn’t ‘reliable evidence’ subjective based on your worldview?

    • adam

      1) You share the same doubt of all things historical?

      Depends on the claims, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

      2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?

      See 1 Depends on the claim.

      3) Do you have proof that only oral history was used during the time of Christ?

      No proof needed, we have coins, documents, etc from that time frame.

      4) All historical documents 2000+ years old then suspect or do you pick and choose based on your worldview?

      See 1 Depends on the claim

      5) Is the use of scientific consensus to prove events as natural, scientific?

      No, it is just the consensus from the data.

      6) How close to your cultural bubble must an evident take place in order for it to be valid?

      See 1 Depends on the claim

      7) That is simply an untruth. Please provide Biblical passages.
      http://atheism.about.com/od/gospelcontradictions/p/Crucifixion.htm

      8) That makes nothing Josephus writes about acceptable.

      See 1 Depends on the claim

      9)
      Which alien abductees have been crucified, stoned or fed to lions? Not
      sure being called crazy compares to the threat of death.

      No sure any have, what christians during bible time were anally probed by aliens?

      10)
      “Reliable evidence” The abductees believe they have evidence and yet
      you call them implausible. Isn’t ‘reliable evidence’ subjective based
      on your worldview?

      Belief is not evidence.

      Mormons believe, does that make Mormonism true?
      Hindus believe, does that make Ganesh real?

    • Michael Neville

      1) You share the same doubt of all things historical?

      When the ONLY “historical” evidence for the existence of Jesus are books written decades after his supposed death, then the historicity of Jesus is suspect compared to, say, Julius Caesar, of whom there are many contemporary writings.

      2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?

      More than one book written, rewritten, edited, translated, redacted, condensed, expanded, expurgated and revised by various people, all with different agendas, over the past 20 centuries.

      3) Do you have proof that only oral history was used during the time of Christ?

      Proof? No. But there is evidence that only oral history was used during Jesus’ supposed lifetime because there are no written histories extant. Incidentally proof is only found in alcohol and mathematics, science concerns itself with evidence.

      4) All historical documents 2000+ years old then suspect or do you pick and choose based on your worldview?

      This is a repeat of 2) and the same reply pertains to it.

      5) Is the use of scientific consensus to prove events as natural, scientific?

      Yes. What do you think it is? Mythology like your Bible?

      6) How close to your cultural bubble must an evident take place in order for it to be valid?

      If there’s reasonable evidence that it has some relationship to reality then it can be far away. The Battle of Hyles, between the Medes and Lydians, can be precisely dated as May 28, 585 BCE, because a solar eclipse took place during the battle. Since the location of the battle is known and astronomers can calculate when eclipses take place, the battle can be dated. The eclipse frightened both sides and they agreed to a truce. Herodotus wrote about the battle in his Histories, which are generally considered to be reliable.

      7) That is simply an untruth. Please provide Biblical passages.

      The Bible is riddled with contradictions. I don’t remember the bit about the passover meal but the death of Judas comes in two different versions:

      And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Mat 27:5 KJV)

      Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. (Acts 1:18 KJV)

      8) That makes nothing Josephus writes about acceptable.

      The “Testimonium Flavianum” in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews which mentions Jesus is considered by historians a 4th Century forgery by a Christian apologist. Earlier Christians, quoting Josephus, don’t mention the “Testimonium” and it doesn’t appear in parallel sections of Josephus’ The Jewish War.

      9) Which alien abductees have been crucified, stoned or fed to lions? Not sure being called crazy compares to the threat of death.

      The same number as ancient Christians who were fed to the lions, i.e., zero. Other than Christians killing each other or being killed by other religious fanatics, no Christians have been martyred since the time of Constantine. So you can climb down from your cross, nobody is impressed by your cries of persecution.

      10) “Reliable evidence” The abductees believe they have evidence and yet you call them implausible. Isn’t ‘reliable evidence’ subjective based on your worldview?

      No. You might want to learn something about epistemology before continuing to discuss this objection.

    • Dys

      If you don’t understand that the gospels contain contradictions, then it’s you who isn’t being intellectually honest.

      • JBrown971

        I challenged a specific claim of the author. Can you respond to that?

        Me biased? Again I am responding to the claim of the author. I can’t seem to find quality over quantity in his #2.

        • Dys

          I challenged a specific claim of the author. Can you respond to that?

          That the gospels contain contradictions? Of course they do. There’s two completely different genealogies given for Jesus in Matthew and Luke.

          I can’t seem to find quality over quantity in his #2.

          My apologies. Usually when apologists refer to quantity, they’re trying to bring up the number of manuscripts for the NT, and pretending that somehow lends them credibility.

          But you don’t even have 4 independent accounts with the gospels. Couple with the presence of contradictions in the accounts, the nature of the claims being made, and a basic understanding of historical criticism, you’re not making much of a case that the gospels are reliable.

        • Loren Petrich

          Even though many of those copies are from the Middle Ages. It’s not like they were with Jesus Christ, taking notes as they watched him in action.

        • Scooter

          As far as 2 completely different genealogies-consider the following points which explain why skeptics who don’t read the Bible may think so. If you read ancestry.com this really shouldn’t surprise you.

          Matthew provides the genealogy of Jesus in the lineage of Joseph. We understand that Joseph did not father Jesus but nevertheless was the legal father. Luke, on the other hand, gives the ancestry of Jesus through Mary from whom Jesus was descended physically as to his humanity. This fulfills a prophecy and actually testifies to the accuracy of the Bible. Through Joseph, Jesus became the legal heir to the throne while at the same time bypassed the curse of Coniah as prophesied in Jeremiah 22:24-30. Both, of course, were in the line of David so that Jesus had a legal right to the throne as the adopted son of Joseph and was at the same time a physical descendant of David through Mary.

          The Ryrie Study Bible gives an excellent summary of the issues here:

          “Although Coniah had seven sons (perhaps adopted; cf. 1 Chron. 3:17), none occupied the throne. So, as far as a continuing dynasty was concerned, Coniah was to be considered “childless.” Although his line of descendants retained the legal throne rights, no physical descendant (no man of his descendants) would ever prosperously reign on the Davidic throne. The genealogy of Matthew traces the descent of Jesus through Solomon and Jeconiah (Heb., Coniah; Matt. 1:12); this is the genealogy of Jesus’ legal father, Joseph. Luke traces Jesus’ physical descent back through Mary and Nathan to David, bypassing Jeconiah’s line and showing accurately the fulfillment of this prophecy of Jeremiah. If Jesus had been born only in the line of Joseph (and thus of Jeconiah), He would not have been qualified to reign on the throne of David in the Millennium.

        • Dys

          Yes, that’s the extrabiblical attempt to reconcile the two different genealogies. Of course, the author of Luke states that the genealogy given is that of Jesus through Joseph, and never mentions Mary at all, which throws a bit of a wrench in using that excuse.

          What you’re referring to isn’t actually in the bible at all. It’s an invention made up to resolve a contradiction. And as I’ve already pointed out to you, having a potential explanation (even one that disagrees with the bible) doesn’t make the contradiction disappear, nor does it make the explanation true.

          You’re just presupposing that the bible is inerrant due to dogma. Take the blinders off, and the flaws and errors become quite obvious.

        • buttle

          “This fulfills a prophecy and actually testifies to the accuracy of the Bible.”

          It “testifies to the accuracy”??? The mind boggles… Where the hell do you suppose the authors of Luke and Matthew got their genealogical data? Are you really so obtuse?

    • Greg G.

      1) You share the same doubt of all things historical?

      Not the same doubt but the doubt increases with how far out of the ordinary the claim is.

      2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?

      Quantity is not as important as quality. Multiple copies of copies of source material does not equal a large quantity of source material.

      3) Do you have proof that only oral history was used during the time of Christ?

      I don’t think there is any proof that any oral history was used for the Christian literature. The gospels show evidence that the stories were based on fiction from Greek literature and the Old Testament including apocrypha.

      4) All historical documents 2000+ years old then suspect or do you pick and choose based on your worldview?

      Nope. I consider it all.

      5) Is the use of scientific consensus to prove events as natural, scientific?

      It’s more the quality of evidence that is important, which is the point of the article. The evidence for UFOs is stronger than the evidence for Bible stories. The scientific consensus doesn’t come into play much in this article.

      6) How close to your cultural bubble must an evident take place in order for it to be valid?

      It is the quality of the evidence. It is not a matter of when. The evidence for the gospels is worse than the evidence for UFOs and the evidence for UFOs isn’t good enough to be convincing.

      7) That is simply an untruth. Please provide Biblical passages.

      This problem has bothered theologians for centuries. It is not atheists who made it up.

      The Passover was prepared in – Mark 14:16, Matthew 26:19, and Luke 22:13.

      They ate in the evening when the hour had come – Mark 14:17, Matthew 26:20, Luke 22:14.

      John says the Last Supper was the day before Passover – John 13:1 and John 13:29.

      Mark 14:16-17 (NRSV)16 So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.17 When it was evening, he came with the twelve.

      John 13:1 (NRSV)1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

      John 13:29 (NRSV)29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor.

      Everything was prepared for the Passover in the Synoptics but not in John, as the disciples assumption that Judas was going to buy things for the festival.

      In Mark, we are told that Bartimaeus means “son of Timaeus” so we know “bar”. When Mark has Jesus pray in Gethsemane, he opens with “Abba, Father”, so we know that “Abba” means “Father”. Then when Barabbas enters the scene, we know the Jews are choosing between two called “son of the Father”, which is like the scapegoat from Leviticus 16:5-22 where the sins of the people are are forgiven when one goat is killed and the other is released.

      John though is making Jesus to be like the Passover Lamb whose blood marked the doors of the Hebrews when the firstborn were killed in Egypt. But the Passover Lamb is not a sin offering so the theology is weak.

      8) That makes nothing Josephus writes about acceptable.

      Much of what Josephus writes is supported by physical evidence and independent writings. He is also writing about ordinary things that happen. Yet he has some bias which must be accounted for and some dubious claims, as well.

      9) Which alien abductees have been crucified, stoned or fed to lions? Not sure being called crazy compares to the threat of death.

      Those stories appear to be exaggerations. There are stories of some of them being killed in different places by different means. It is as if at some point, having a narrative about a noble death made your apostolic pedigree better.

      10) “Reliable evidence” The abductees believe they have evidence and yet you call them implausible. Isn’t ‘reliable evidence’ subjective based on your worldview?

      No, reliable evidence means evidence, not something like a waking dream.

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

        8) Our copies of Josephus are suspect, especially the one from Eusebius from which we get the Testimonium Flavianum.

      • JBrown971

        1) Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable. Supernatural claims form 2000 years ago, ludicrous. Got it!
        2) I assume you then deny the existence of Socrates?
        3) Curious opinion. Then you use your opinion to shape your worldview.
        4) Consider it all, what?
        5) The author uses consensus, so it does come into play. Furthermore, the historical evidence as provided in the Gospels far out ways the stories presented by abductees.
        6) You completely missed the point of a ‘cultural gulf’.
        7) When reading John, you understand that he uses Passover to represent the week long celebration. In addition, he also references the Sabbath feast. John 13:1 is recognized as a summary verse and not directly connected to vs2. However, opinion has shaped your view, so you will deny that.
        8) ‘Ordinary’? Perfectly subjective to fit your own opinion. Regardless of the text.
        9) So my point stands.
        10) There are many historical events/people we accept where the evidence is scant. Shall we reject them all? (See #2)

        • MNb

          “Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable.”
          And our christian apologist violates his own 9th Commandment. Abiogenesis (life coming from non-life) uses biochemistry, ie doesn’t consider any supernatural explanation.

        • JBrown971

          Quoting me out of context. Love it!

          The only proof of abiogenesis is that life exists. The process, those are just stories/theories.

        • adam

          ” The process, those are just stories/theories.”

          NO, chemistry and physics.
          As opposed to superstition and imagination fueled by ignorance.

        • Dys

          You don’t know what you’re talking about. Abiogenesis is a scientific hypothesis, not a supernatural claim like you asserted.

          The process, those are just stories/theories.

          It’s telling that you’re falsely equating stories and theories.

        • Michael Neville

          When scientists use the word theory they don’t mean a guess. A theory is an explanation, i.e., the Germ Theory of Disease explains that some illnesses are caused by itty-bitty critters.

          Abiogenesis is a theory, an explanation of how life started. It relies on chemistry and physics. The supernatural isn’t needed to explain the origin of life.

        • Greg G.

          The “process” is just hypotheses, not stories or theories. Those hypotheses are more plausible than supernatural events.

        • JBrown971

          Isn’t a hypothesis a scientific story used to attempt to create a solution where none exists?

        • Greg G.

          No, a hypothesis is an idea that can potentially be tested in a way that other hypotheses cannot. If it passes those tests, the other hypotheses are shown to be false. With further rigorous testing, it can be considered a Theory. A Theory is never proven but it explains specific things.

        • JBrown971

          Semantics

        • adam

          “Semantics”

          No IGNORANCE on your part…

        • Michael Neville

          Friendly word of advice: Don’t try to bullshit people on a subject they know more about than you.

        • Dys

          Actually, it’s an example of you not knowing what words mean in a scientific context, but being smug with your own ignorance.

        • Greg G.

          The terms you are using have a different meaning in a scientific context than in common speech. You should not equivocate.

          It would help your communication if you used words correctly. I have mostly overlooked it when you use “out ways” for “outweighs”, “do” for “due”, and “to” for “two” but you are here demonstrating a disdain for using words properly.

          Mark Twain: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

          Why does an atheist have to read the Bible to discuss it with a Christian when a Christian sees no need to read a science book to discuss science?

        • JBrown971

          Well those mistakes are embarrassing and inexcusable. However, my use of the word story to represent hypothesis/theory is intentional and holds weight.

          The honest use of a hypothesis/theory has been lost in today’s politicized scientism. More than creating a proposed explanation to further investigation, the hypothesis is being used to propose explanation in order to quiet opposition. The same can be said for theory. Rather than being an explanation repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation, it has become the grouping of hypothesis used to forward a worldview over scientific data. For example, climate change as a science, term used loosely, has the desire for outcomes outweighing the gathered data. In one step further, the story associated with climate change has yet to produce a predicted result. Abiogensis, taking real sciences, one chemical and one biological, and presents a story that they at one time worked in communion to produce life. However, it is both not observable, and every instance in which science presents its case, the outcome required a creator (scientist). Hence, the presupposition of their communion is more about a desired worldview confirmation and less about data.

          In short, science has become, in some circles, less of a tool and more of a club. Critical thinking has been lost in favor of groupthink. Too many are dedicated to the notion of disproving God, over the need for better understanding. The talking heads of science will go out of their way to condemn/humiliate the religious. If we are thinking critically, that action would be unnecessary. Yet, if we are participating in groupthink, those actions of condemnation and humiliation are required.

          I don’t have any disdain for the science in any field. I have disdain for those claiming resolved solutions to promote a worldview when the science is little more than conjecture. The groupthink of science has become god and it must either be followed or suffer for your sins of disbelief.

          Now let the comments regarding my ignorance begin.

        • MNb

          “However, it is both not observable.”
          Your mother giving birth to you isn’t observable anymore either. So according to your “honest use of theory/hypothesis” we must consider the possibility that you were found in a cauliflower and brought by a stork. Rejecting it is – still according to your argument – “joining the groupthing of scientism”.

        • adam

          ” Too many are dedicated to the notion of disproving God, over the need for better understanding.”

          What’s to disprove.
          Your ‘god’ is just an imaginary character created by men, like the tens if not hundred of thousands or even MILLIONS of claimed gods through out history.

          Religion is groupthink

          And the fact you have to LIE about science, tells us that the TRUTH doesnt support your ‘faith’.

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t have any disdain for the science in any field.

          This isn’t true. You don’t like science when it shows that there’s no need for your god to explain how the world works. You whine about abiogenesis because it contradicts your myth that your sky pixie invented life.

        • adam

          “The honest use of a hypothesis/theory has been lost in today’s politicized scientism.”

          ONLY for creationists, not in science.

        • Greg G.

          The honest use of a hypothesis/theory has been lost in today’s politicized scientism. More than creating a proposed explanation to further investigation, the hypothesis is being used to propose explanation in order to quiet opposition. The same can be said for theory. Rather than being an explanation repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation, it has become the grouping of hypothesis used to forward a worldview over scientific data.

          So what? The use of Hypothesis/Theory is still a mainstay of science. What politics does with science or cargo cult versions of it is completely different. Science shows that climate change is not something that should be ignored but politicians who rely on money from those who would be hurt by measures to reduce the global warming that could be controlled block the efforts. They are aided by those who follow whatever the GOP says and by dangerously religious people who think God is in control.

          Hence, the presupposition of their communion is more about a desired worldview confirmation and less about data.

          That sounds like pure projection.

          In short, science has become, in some circles, less of a tool and more of a club. Critical thinking has been lost in favor of groupthink.

          The “groupthink” is just where critical thinking leads. It is people who are politicized and religiousized that are the willing victims of group-non-think.

          Too many are dedicated to the notion of disproving God, over the need for better understanding. The talking heads of science will go out of their way to condemn/humiliate the religious. If we are thinking critically, that action would be unnecessary. Yet, if we are participating in groupthink, those actions of condemnation and humiliation are required.

          The dangers are when group believes an ignorant preacher and vote according to that worldview. Even if there is a god, you can’t abdicate your responsibility to be a caretaker of the environment,

          I don’t have any disdain for the science in any field. I have disdain for those claiming resolved solutions to promote a worldview when the science is little more than conjecture. The groupthink of science has become god and it must either be followed or suffer for your sins of disbelief.

          You do have disdain for the scientific method. It shows when you reject it when it goes against your preordained beliefs. Science follows where the evidence leads. It is not about upseting religious people. If religious people are upset by where science goes, they should get a new religion or drop religion entirely.

          Progressive Christianity is a response to the inerrantist types of the religion. They are honest enough to reject the parts of Christianity that are at odds with the reality that is presented to us, but still hold onto the parts that are completely baseless. You are stuck with the worst of both.

        • TheNuszAbides

          If religious people are upset by where science goes, they should get a new religion or drop religion entirely.

          oh boy, prepare for tone-troll backlash: typical scientistical totalitarian hostility!!!!11!

        • TheNuszAbides

          when the science is little more than conjecture.

          you might be onto something if you could demonstrate that you’re aware of specific instances of when this is the case. so far you are indeed failing to instill confidence in your talking points.

        • MNb

          Absolutely not, unless you call “providing unambiguous and coherent meanings of relevant terms” “semantics”. In that case semantics is a core element of the scientific method.
          Personally I attach slightly different meanings to “hypothesis” and “theory”, but that doesn’t mean Greg G is wrong. The way he uses these words is crystal clear and only that matters.

        • MNb

          And now our sinner has violated his 9th Commandment once he persists.
          There is no context. Your full point was

          “1) Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable. Supernatural claims form 2000 years ago, ludicrous. Got it!”
          The first sentence simply is false testimony. The second sentence doesn’t change that even a tiny bit.

          So what does our apologist do? Move the goalposts of course and hope that nobody notices.

          “The only proof of abiogenesis is that life exists. The process, those are just stories/theories.”
          That’s not the same as “Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable” if it were correct.

          And it isn’t.

          In the first place this is sloppy language. As I have learned to distrust apologists I assume this is deliberately until shown otherwise. There cannot be any proof for any scientific theory by definition. Just stories/theories, you say? Gravity and electricity are just stories/theories as well.

          What’s correct is that there is not enough evidence for abiogenesis – ie empirical data. There is some though:

          http://news.discovery.com/tech/biotechnology/scientists-buil-self-replicating-molecule-111014.htm

          Still no single “Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable.”

        • JBrown971

          So if science creates synthetic DNA that then self replicates in a sterile controlled environment with a precise concoction of chemicals, you have data for abiogenesis? Isn’t what happens every time a child is conceived?

          Science has never witnessed life forming on its own from non-living material. Yet demands adherence to a story that billions of years it actually happened. Challenging that is akin to false testimony? Is that what you call everyone who challenges science?

        • Greg G.

          So if science creates synthetic DNA that then self replicates in a sterile controlled environment with a precise concoction of chemicals, you have data for abiogenesis?

          No, you would have evidence that abiogenesis can happen by non-supernatural means.

          Remember that abiogenesis would have happened in a sterile environment in any case.

        • adam

          ” Science has never witnessed life forming on its own from non-living material. Yet demands adherence to a story that billions of years it actually happened. ”

          Oh no, MORE FALSE WITNESSING.

          Science doesnt DEMAND anything, it is a METHOD, in fact, the more reliable METHOD of determining reality.

          ” Is that what you call everyone who challenges science?”

          No we call them Nobel prize winners when they are successful.

        • MNb

          “Science has never witnessed life forming on its own from non-living material.”
          Shifting the goalposts. You claimed

          a) “Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable.”
          b) “The only proof (should be: evidence or empirical data) of abiogenesis is that life exists.”

          Both claims are incorrect.

          “Science has never witnessed life forming on its own from non-living material. Yet demands adherence to a story that billions of years it actually happened.”
          No, it doesn’t demand that, simply because there is no story to adhere at regarding the process from life to non-life. Various stories have been suggested, but all have one big problem: they lack sufficient empirical data.

          “Challenging that is akin to false testimony?”
          Yes. Challenging something that the challenged one never claimed is false testimony. You just did it again.

          “Is that what you call everyone who challenges science?”
          Nope. It’s what I call everyone who challenges something that science doesn’t claim. Like you.
          However you miss the point.
          I can easily forgive you. You are perhaps ignorant, stupid, whatever. You err. Your favourite Holy Book doesn’t provide such escape routes, bar one.
          Confess and repent, you sinner – if you take your own belief system seriously, that is.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Challenging that is akin to false testimony?

          i know it’s painful at first, but you really will improve your mind if you practice modeling concepts more complex than dualism.

        • buttle

          “he historical evidence as provided in the Gospels far out ways the stories presented by abductees.”

          Would you care to explain how the “historical evidence” provided by the gospels is superior to the “historical evidence” provided by the old testament? I’d like an answer to this question: did Elijah fly into space on a chariot of fire and did his successor Elisha part the Jordan?

        • JBrown971

          95% of the Bible contains no supernatural aspect. It is used by archaeologists and continues to prove itself historically and geographically accurate. It maintains an integrity from the oldest manuscripts through today not witnessed in any other ancient manuscript. If 95% of an abductees story were documented as accurate, would you doubt him?

        • Greg G.

          In the 1970s, Bible scholar Tommy Thompson surmised that the story of Moses was not factual.

          In the 1990s, Israeli archaeologists have scoured the Sinai looking for evidence for the Exodus. There should be plenty of evidence for that number of people living there for forty years. Absence of evidence where there should be evidence is evidence of absence. They have also found that there is no evidence of a change in culture from before the time the Bible says the Canaanites, Amalekites, and Midianites were massacred. The evidence shows that the culture was quite similar except that some sites had no pig bones. This supports Tommy Thompson’s dissertation.

          We should be skeptical of the claims of the Bible because so much of it was made up.

        • buttle

          “Integrity from the oldest manuscript”? You really have no idea what you are talking about… But even granting all your mistaken assumptions you haven’t answered my very simple question: do you believe Elijah flew into space on a chariot of fire? Why?

          “If 95% of an abductees story were documented as accurate, would you doubt him?”

          Of course. If a crazy man from Cleveland describes you the city in detail and then claims he saw an alien are you going to believe him? You seem confused…

        • Dys

          Then you’re apparently unaware that there’s archaeology that contradicts the biblical accounts.

          And you’re trying to weasel out of the extraordinary evidence needed to substantiate extraordinary claims. And you don’t have anything close to the kind of evidence needed to support the supernatural claims.

        • Michael Neville

          Historically accurate? Like how the Egyptians failed to record any of the 10 plagues or even the existence of large numbers of Hebrews in Egypt? That kind of historical accuracy?

        • Dys

          Their usual response to that is that it was really embarrassing for the Egyptians, so they didn’t record it. They’re using the absence of evidence to create a fiction to get rid of that pesky cognitive dissonance.

        • Michael Neville

          Egyptologists would laugh at that one. The Egyptians recorded everything including natural disasters, political and military defeats, gossip and scandals. For instance, Ramses II’s prime minister Pinedjem, who ruled Egypt while Ramses was off conquering, was forced to resign because he wasn’t honoring commitments he was bribed to honor. This is mentioned in several Egyptian records dating from that time.

        • MNb

          Of course. The Sea Peoples, who were a lot more embarrassing, are recorded by the Egyptians as well.

        • adam

          ” If 95% of an abductees story were documented as accurate, would you doubt him?”

          Not the 95% documented.

          95% of Spiderman is accurate as well.

          In fact probably 95% of most fiction is accurate.

        • Greg G.

          In fact probably 95% of most fiction is accurate.

          Good point.

        • TheNuszAbides

          maybe 95% logically consistent. 95% ‘accurate’ seems like a stretch, especially with the inclusion of high fantasy.

        • MNb

          “continues to prove itself”
          That’s an incoherent mess. Nothing can prove itself. You can only “prove” (better: increase the probability that it’s correct) something by comparing it with something else.
          On several aspects the Bible fails miserably, Moses wandering around the Sinai the most glaring example.

        • TheNuszAbides

          hint: nobody has asked for a citation backing up any of your whoppers yet because you’re rehashing PRATT. however, i find “95% of the Bible contains no supernatural aspect” an especially fresh blast of hot air. how exactly is that measured?

        • adam

          “1) Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years
          ago, acceptable. Supernatural claims form 2000 years ago, ludicrous.
          Got it!”

          Nope you dont ‘got it’.
          Natural claims of life coming from chemistry and physics vs superstition based claims based on ignornace.

          “2) I assume you then deny the existence of Socrates?”

          It makes no difference to me.
          Does having a fictional Jesus make a difference to you?

          “3) Curious opinion. Then you use your opinion to shape your worldview.”

          As everyone does.
          When supported by evidence it is not just an opinion.

          4) Consider it all, what?

          Consider the source, what is the motivation?

          5)
          The author uses consensus, so it does come into play. Furthermore, the
          historical evidence as provided in the Gospels far out ways the stories
          presented by abductees.

          Nope, not even close.
          A collection of stories is the consensus of which viewpoint you want to propagandize, when you eliminate the stories that dont support your agenda.

          Science minimizes the effect of agenda.
          Religious councils maximize the effect of agenda/

          6) You completely missed the point of a ‘cultural gulf’.

          Sorry, but you failed to demonstrate, but simply make your CLAIM

          7)
          When reading John, you understand that he uses Passover to represent
          the week long celebration. In addition, he also references the Sabbath
          feast. John 13:1 is recognized as a summary verse and not directly
          connected to vs2. However, opinion has shaped your view, so you will
          deny that.

          Isnt supported by the facts.
          As Greg G has demonstrated

          8) ‘Ordinary’? Perfectly subjective to fit your own opinion. Regardless of the text.

          Yes, ordinary, everyday people and events.
          Not an opinion as you claim, but an observation.

          9) So my point stands.

          Yes, there are apparently no stories of aliens crucifying or feed people to lions, just as there are no gospel reports of anal probing.

          What is your point again?

          10) There are many historical events/people we accept where the evidence is scant. Shall we reject them all? (See #2)”

          Depends on the claim.

          If historically you told me that Abraham Lincoln kept a dog as a pet, that would be easy to accept – true or no.
          But if you try to tell me that Abraham Lincoln kept a fire breathing dragon as a pet, pretty hard to accept with out a lot of further evidence.

        • Loren Petrich

          1) Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years
          ago, acceptable. Supernatural claims form 2000 years ago, ludicrous.
          Got it!
          Except that the origin of the first organism is considered a non-supernatural event.

          2) I assume you then deny the existence of Socrates?
          There is no reason to, since the account of him does not make him into some god figure. Even if it did, the non-miraculous parts could still be historical, just as for Jesus Christ.

          5) The author uses consensus, so it does come into play. Furthermore,
          the historical evidence as provided in the Gospels far out ways the
          stories presented by abductees.

          In what ways? Abductees’ accounts are much closer to the events than the Gospels, and the same is true of contactees’ accounts. Do you believe that a certain George Adamski met a certain Orthon of Venus in the southern California desert in 1952? Or that a certain Billy Meier met a certain Semjase (Semyahzeh) of Erra in the northern Swiss countryside in 1975?

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for your reply.

          1) Supernatural claim of life coming from non-life billions of years ago, acceptable. Supernatural claims form 2000 years ago, ludicrous. Got it!

          There have been many claims of supernatural events. A great number of the testable claims of the supernatural have been refuted. None have been supported. Why would you think supernatural claims of life coming from non-life billions of years ago are acceptable?

          2) I assume you then deny the existence of Socrates?

          A factor in quality is that the material does not appear to be based on fictional accounts of other characters. Accounts of Socrates do not appear to be based on stories about somebody else with “Socrates” pasted in. I’ll grant that may be because we don’t have such possible source writings.

          3) Curious opinion. Then you use your opinion to shape your worldview.

          No. My worldview has not changed at all since becoming aware of the multiple sources for the gospels.

          4) Consider it all, what?

          I do not cherry-pick the historical documents for my worldview. I have read a lot of them and I have opinions about them but they play no role in the formation of my worldview.

          5) The author uses consensus, so it does come into play. Furthermore, the historical evidence as provided in the Gospels far out ways the stories presented by abductees.

          In Galatians, Paul insists he got nothing from humans. Everything he says about Jesus, besides the adulation, can be found in the Old Testament. He never actually saw Jesus. The book of Acts of the Road to Damascus stories are unreliable because they are, at best, second-hand accounts and probably complete fiction. In Corinthians 15 when he says “appeared to”, the Greek word he uses is the same for Peter, the twelve, the five hundred and James that he uses for his own case, as if he doesn’t think that Jesus “appeared to” them any differently than he did to Paul. But we can’t get him to clarify exactly what he meant. That makes modern accounts of abcutions out-weigh (if that is the term you meant) his claims and other claims in the Bible.

          6) You completely missed the point of a ‘cultural gulf’.

          You missed the point that good evidence makes a “cultural bubble” or a “cultural gulf” irrelevant.

          7) When reading John, you understand that he uses Passover to represent the week long celebration. In addition, he also references the Sabbath feast. John 13:1 is recognized as a summary verse and not directly connected to vs2. However, opinion has shaped your view, so you will deny that.

          In the Synoptics, Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover Meal before he was arrested. In John, he was arrested before the time of the Passover.

          John 18:28 (NRSV)28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.

          8) ‘Ordinary’? Perfectly subjective to fit your own opinion. Regardless of the text.

          Is a resurrection an ordinary event on your planet?

          9) So my point stands.

          What was your point? None of the gospel writers were eyewitnesses and they didn’t get “crucified, stoned or fed to lions”, either. Paul is said to have had his head chopped of and milk came out of his neck. That account is not reliable. You are assuming that there were eyewitnesses that believed what the gospels said, but those are based on fictional accounts of the literature of the day, not on eyewitness accounts. Those who were “crucified, stoned or fed to lions” made a bad mistake if they believed the gospels.

          10) There are many historical events/people we accept where the evidence is scant. Shall we reject them all? (See #2)

          Our level of acceptance should be in proportion to the evidence for the claims made. Extraordinary accounts would need better than scant evidence.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Why would you think supernatural claims of life coming from non-life billions of years ago are acceptable?

          safety in numbers [of credulous knee-jerkers] is my bet.
          (sorry, I guess i’m in a rude mood; and looks like JB gave up anyway, or perhaps can only make weekly or less frequent visits)

        • Ignorant Amos

          sorry, I guess i’m in a rude mood;

          Reading these interactions and the subsequent frustration it imbues will get a buddy that way.

          http://elitetrack.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/bang-head-against-brick-wall.jpg

    • MNb

      @7: How exactly did Judas die? Please reread and compare Matth. 27:5 and Acts 1:18.

      Just in case Greg G’s comment is too long for you.

      • Michael Neville

        You might look at my post below, I covered the death of Judas and those two scriptural quotes.

        • MNb

          I read it. But unless my memory fails me I have met JBrown971 before at Neil Carter’s blog and he’s only capable of handling short, to the point arguments.
          Like “bats are birds” and “pi equals 3.
          However he quit that blog after I told him precisely how I felt about his belief system, so I expect him not to react at all (if he’s the same guy indeed).

      • JBrown971

        Same event different perspectives. My 9yr old son’s description of 9/11 varies from mine, does that mean a) it didn’t happen, or b) he’s a liar?

        • MNb

          False dilemma. There are several other options.

          No matter which perspective I choose, “hanged himself” contradicts “purchased a field – falling headlong all his bowels gushed out.”

          The first is on purpose, the second not.
          For the first a rope is used, for the second not.
          The first breaks a neck with the bowels remaining intact, the second leaves the neck intact while the bowels get damaged.

          So it’s simply a truth that the Bible contradicts itself. Either one scenario, or another or none of both happened.

        • JBrown971

          Then obviously you are right.

        • Greg G.

          It just means that your account and your son’s account contradict one another. It doesn’t mean that either one is completely accurate or accurate at all.

        • JBrown971

          Different perspectives, with different information always contradict?

        • adam

          “Different perspectives, with different information always contradict?”

          Learner’s definition of DIFFERENT

          1not of the same kind

          :

          partly or totally unlike

        • Greg G.

          They contradict if and only if they contradict. The Matthew account of Judas’ death is different than the Acts account. Mark, Matthew, and Luke say Jesus had Passover with the disciples while John says he was arrested before the Passover meal.

        • JBrown971

          As I have stated above, in reading John’s gospel, the reference points are not the same. The meal John is talking about is on the Sabbath, a meal also references in the other Gospels.

        • Greg G.

          So, it was not the Passover meal. The meal the Synoptics talk about was the Passover meal.

          If it was the Sabbath meal, then how was Jesus buried before the Sabbath?

        • JBrown971

          Not sure I follow. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of the Passover meal/Last Supper. John in 13:1 speaks of the week long Passover Festival. In John 13:28&29 the disciples are sitting at the last supper Passover meal think Jesus was speaking of the Sabbath Passover dinner. There is no time discrepancy.

        • Greg G.

          John 8:28 says that the Jews of the Sanhedrin wouldn’t go into the Roman court room because it would defile them and they would not be able to eat the Passover meal. The Passover begins at sundown when the meal is eaten. If the day of the Passover had not yet begun, whatever meal Jesus had was not the Passover meal. Therefore, John has Jesus arrested before the Passover, contradicting the Synoptics.

        • Pofarmer

          Doesn’t carrier argue that the whole thing about the courtroom defiling Jews is bullshit?

        • Greg G.

          David Fitzgerald makes that point HERE. He cites Jewish legal authority Haim Cohn (Attorney-General of Israel and later Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court) that there is nothing in Jewish law about that.

        • Greg G.

          I took the time to do a little more research on this topic. It is clear that Mark, Matthew, and Luke say Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal and John clearly says it was before the Passover.

          Did Jesus Eat the Passover?

          The Day of Atonement is explained in Leviticus how a day is divided. The new day begins in the evening.

          Leviticus 23:27 (NRSV)27 Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord’s offering by fire;

          Leviticus 23:32 (NRSV)32 It shall be to you a sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath.

          The day before is preparation for the holy day that begins at the evening and ends the next evening.

          The feast of the unleavened bread began in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month in the spring and lasted for seven days. Before the evening of the fourteenth day, a lamb or a goat was slaughtered for the Passover meal.

          Leviticus 23:5 (NRSV)5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover offering to the Lord,

          Exodus 12:5-6 (NRSV)5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight.

          Exodus 12:18 (NRSV)18 In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread.

          Mark 14:12-16, Matthew 26:17-19, and Luke 22:7-12 tell us that it was the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread and the disciples prepared the Passover. (Matthew dropped the part about the Passover sacrifice but Mark and Luke got this wrong as the Passover is eaten at the very beginning of the first day of the unleavened bread.) Mark 14:17, Matthew 26:20, and Luke 22:14 tell us that the evening and the hour came for the Passover, and that Jesus joined the disciples at the table. Matthew 26:21 and Matthew 26:26 says that they were eating.

          In each of the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Then Jesus was arrested. Therefore, the time for the Passover meal was past.

          In John 13:1, they have a meal but it was before the Passover. John 13:29 tells us they had not begun to prepare for the Passover. In John 18:1-12, Jesus and his disciples crossed the brook Kidron to a garden where Jesus was arrested.

          In John 18:28 when Jesus was taken to Pilate’s place, the Jews did not want to enter because it would defile them and they would not be able to eat the Passover. John 19:14 says it was mid-day of the day of Preparation for the Passover.

          Three gospels say Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal. One of the gospels says Jesus was arrested before the Passover meal. That is a clear contradiction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is clear that Mark, Matthew, and Luke say Jesus was arrested after the Passover meal and John clearly says it was before the Passover.

          Something Bart Ehrman points out and reiterates over and over again in his books and lectures.

          As he likes to say, “It depends on which gospel you read”, as is the case with a pile of other stuff as you and I very well know.

        • Greg G.

          The Synoptics say Jesus ate the Passover. John 18:28 says the Jews did not eat the Passover. John 19:14 says it was the preparation day for the Passover. John 19:31 says it was also the preparation day for the sabbath and it was a special sabbath, apparently because the Passover was on the sabbath. That means that the reason the Jews didn’t eat the Passover yet is the same reason that Jesus didn’t. It was not yet the Passover.

          In the Synoptics, Jesus is like the scapegoat in Leviticus 16:5-22. Mark introduced Bartimaeus to tell his readers that “bar” means “son of”. In the Gethsemane prayer, Mark has Jesus say “Abba, Father”, to teach his readers that “abba” means “father”. When Mark introduces Barabbas, his readers will understand that there are now two “sons of the Father”. One has the sins of Israel laid on him and is killed while the other is released to carry those sins into the wilderness like the scapegoat.

          In John, Jesus represents the Passover Lamb so he needs him to die the days the lambs are killed for Passover to make the metaphor. However, the Passover lamb is a memorial offering, not a sin offering. It is two different theologies.

        • Greg G.

          Why was the place of Judas’ death called the “Field of Blood”? In Matthew, it is because it was bought with blood money by the priests after Judas returned the money. In Acts, it’s because he burst open and spilled his guts and blood onto it.

          It can’t be both so there is a contradiction. Both could be wrong. After all, it was a potter’s field in Matthew, meaning it was red clay. It seems that would be a more plausible explanation for the name than that a field of red clay only became known by that name after either of those two biblical accounts.

        • JBrown971

          Why can’t it be both names? Are there parts of your town know to the world by one name but to locals as another? Does that make both parties liars?

          In the sun and heat of Israel, how long would a body have to hang before it begins to decay? Do all who hang, hang indefinitely until they are cut, or is plausible that decay caused the body to fall? If Matthew knew he hung himself, but Luke’s witness testimony in Acts recounts how he was found, does that make them contradictory statements? If I say two planes killed thousand in NY on 9/11 but you say collapsing buildings killed thousands, is one of lying?

          PS – I LOVE, how atheists, claiming the Bible is little more than mythology so quickly turn around and attempt to produce meaning in the text.

        • Greg G.

          Both names? Read it again. It is the same name but different reasons for the name. But it had apparently had that name since Jeremiah’s time and that explanation is suspect, too, as it is a potter’s field, meaning it has always been red.

          Calm down and let your cognitive dissonance dissipate so you can read for comprehension.

        • JBrown971

          My apologizes, you are only discussing with me, I am discussing with 10. My brain gets a little jumbled or I scan to quickly over a response.

          That being said, it still doesn’t stand as a contradiction. I would argue there are plenty of named historical locations, where if you quizzed the public multiple plausible answers could be given for that name. Those answers could be valid based on perspective.

        • Greg G.

          I understand your problem. I have been in the same position.

          I would argue there are plenty of named historical locations, where if you quizzed the public multiple plausible answers could be given for that name.

          It doesn’t matter if the reasons for a place name are plausible or whether they are all wrong or if one is correct, if the answers are different, they are contradictions.

          Remember you are trying to argue that the two different accounts are not contradictions, am I right?

        • JBrown971

          I don’t argue they are different. I argue they stand opposed to one another. A name with to plausible backgrounds do to perspective does not invalidate the name, the backgrounds or the people.

        • Greg G.

          You asked for contradictions. You are then admitting that the explanations in Matthew and Acts contradict.

          Have you ever tried to reconcile the details of the women going to the tomb and what they saw in the four gospels. The perspective excuse doesn’t work. In Mark, the women went inside and saw a young man who spoke to them and ran away. In John, Mary Magdalene saw the open tomb and ran away to bring the disciples and Peter went inside while an angel then spoke to Mary M.

        • Dys

          Your ability to imagine extra-biblical scenarios that attempt to harmonize the gospel accounts is an implicit admission that there are contradictions that need to be explained away.

          Having a possible resolution to a contradiction doesn’t magically make the contradiction disappear, nor does it make your proposed explanation true.

        • JBrown971

          Of course harmonization between multiple accounts for a single event are only required within the Bible.

        • Dys

          I don’t recall saying any such thing. And really, it was Christians that realized the problem with the differences in the first place, which is why they’ve tried to harmonize them.

          I suspect the major problem is the dogmatic insistence that the bible is inerrant. It leads to situations where the apologist can’t simply admit “huh, this is a contradiction”, and move on. They irrationally assert that there are no contradictions, even when they’re plain to see.

        • Greg G.

          They see no reason to harmonize the Bible with reality, though.

        • Dys

          The bible is a mix of mythology and historical fiction.

        • Michael Neville

          When Christian apologists like you use the Bible to “prove” your superstitions, should you be surprised we use the same source to show your superstitions are just superstitions? You’d think even a gullible, superstitious Christian apologist would be able to figure that one out,

        • JBrown971

          I would if the non-Christian was using assumptions that put credibility on the stories of the Bible.

        • Michael Neville

          No, you’re the one who thinks the Bible is credible. We’re the ones showing that the Bible is a collection of contradictory myths, fables and outright lies. But since you think the Bible is credible then we use the Bible to show how your apologetics are silly and wrong.

        • Greg G.

          If there is a contradiction, at least one claim is not credible but it doesn’t imply that either is credible.

    • L.Long

      #2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?
      Shows a basic problem. Believe is not the important point. The evidence for Robin Hood is just as bad for jesus. But I believe that Robin is real and SO WHAT!?!?! The important point is that I am not trying to shovel Robin Hood up everyone’s ass whether they like it or not!!! So believe jesus all you like, keep it to yourself and all is fine.

    • MNb
      • JBrown971

        Nope

    • Loren Petrich

      1) You share the same doubt of all things historical?
      Lots of things. Like the notion that Rome was founded by the son of a god and a virgin. Or that Pythagoras, Plato, Alexander the Great, and Augustus Caesar had gods as their fathers.

      2) What quantity of source material do you require for something to be believed?
      The more extraordinary the claim, the better the quality needed. Consider the 1803 L’Aigle meteorite fall, which convinced the scientific community of the time that meteorites are extraterrestrial rocks and lumps of iron. It had numerous witnesses and an abundance of physical evidence: several unusual rocks fell at that time, rocks that were much alike, and that were very different from other rocks there. Whodunit? The fall of meteorite on 6th Floreal of the year 11 in L’Aigle

      3) Do you have proof that only oral history was used during the time of Christ?
      That’s not what our host was asking about — he was pointing out a long time of oral transmission.

      8) That makes nothing Josephus writes about acceptable.
      I don’t see how that’s the case. He’s considered a usually-reliable source. His purported reference to Jesus Christ, the Testimonium Flavianum, is very out-of-character for him. He makes references to other self-styled prophets, like Theudas and “The Egyptian”, and he refers to a disturbance in the Jerusalem Temple provoked by a Roman soldier exposing himself, without similar references to JC in those contexts.

      9) Which alien abductees have been crucified, stoned or fed to lions?
      Not sure being called crazy compares to the threat of death.
      They got in trouble for denying the official gods of the Roman Empire. Most abductees don’t do anything comparable. The closest that I can think of is giving military secrets to their captors, and I don’t know of any case of that. Secrets like weaknesses and vulnerabilities in air-surveillance and air-defense systems.

    • TheNuszAbides

      8) fine with me!

  • Sophia Sadek

    One of the ironies is that there is nothing in the Jesus story that required belief in fantastic tales about Jesus. That did not come until Paul insisted on the resurrection, and he was clearly undermining the work of Jesus.

    • Jason K.

      Nothing in the Jesus story required belief in fantastic tales? Are we talking about the same Jesus who was said to have transmuted matter, cast out demons, and raised the dead?

      • Sophia Sadek

        Belief that he did those things was not part of his M.O. The water-into-wine trick and raising people from the dead were simple sleight-of-hand procedures. Casting out demons is how people would have characterized relief of those who suffered from psycho-somatic complaints. There was nothing in what Jesus supposedly taught that claimed people had to believe that these were legitimate operations. The magic tricks may also have been embellishments added generations later. The most significant part of the Jesus story is that people who claim to follow him today ignore what he was said to have taught. Instead, they immitate Paul.

        • Greg G.

          The magic tricks are mostly reworked miracles previously done by Moses, Elijah, and Elisha with some Homeric epic tales thrown in.

          The Raising of Lazarus is a reworking of Horus raising Osiris taken from the Pyramid Texts, probably from the tomb of Pepi II, transliterated to Hebrew or Aramaic and then into Greek. “Osiris” is transliterate to “El-Osiris” to “Elazar” to “Lazarus”. The site would be Eunu/Anu/On which becomes “Beth-Anu” and finally “Bethany”. Osiris’ sisters waited outside the tomb. One was Nephthys, whose name is represented by two hieroglyphs, One is the feminized sign for “Master” or “Lord” which would be “Lady” and the other is for “enclosure” or “house”. Martha is Aramaic for the feminized version of “Master” or “Lady of the house”. Several verses in John 11 echo lines from the Pyramid Text Utterances.

          Those are tall tales based on the literature of the day.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Still, there is nothing in the stuff that Jesus taught his disciples that claims belief in such fables is important. All of the things that Jesus taught as important are things that Christians avoid like the plague.

        • adam

          ” All of the things that Jesus taught as important are things that Christians avoid like the plague.”

          Well of course, because they sound so much like Buddhism.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and/or socialism/communism (or a manifestly ignorant grasp of either concept)

        • Greg G.

          Much of the teachings in Matthew (and Luke) seem to follow the same topics as the Epistle of James – see The Sermon on the Mount Site: James and the Sermon on the Mount by Robert I. Kirby. Some of James’ arguments would have been stronger if he had wrote “Jesus said” in front of them, but he doesn’t seem to know that Jesus raised those points. None of the epistles quote Jesus. They don’t even mention Jesus as a teacher. The more I look at the gospels, the more apparent it becomes that they are fictional accounts based on fictional literature of the day.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Some aspects of the gospels conform to Pagan fables, but other aspects reflect an attempt to establish a wisdom school amidst Jews.

        • Greg G.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price collects the studies of independent researchers on the sources used by the gospel authors, which collectively show that Mark was entirely based on attributing tales about other people to Jesus. The strong correlation between James and Matthew and that Matthew used Mark make it likely that Matthew used James, too. Since Luke has the same wording as Matthew for many of the Jamesian sayings, Luke must have used Matthew, so there is no need for the Q hypothesis.

        • Sophia Sadek

          I am sure it is a compelling read, but I doubt that it addresses the issue I raise.

        • Greg G.

          Which parts of the gospels to you think “conform to Pagan fables” and which parts are “an attempt to establish a wisdom school amidst Jews”?

          Mark is composed of pagan fables and the other gospels use Mark. John seems to have some influence from Egyptian sources such as Philo. Matthew apparently used James plus lots of non-prophetic Old Testament verses as prophecies. Luke 10 to about he middle of Luke 18 follows Deuteronomy with topical bits from Mark and Matthew while the rest follows Mark with extra discourse from Matthew.

        • Sophia Sadek

          With a little familiarity with the Pagan wisdom traditions, it is not hard to spot the difference. Things like walking on water were the stuff of Pagan myth. Turning the other cheek is something that philosophers were taught to do. The seed sower paradigm goes back hundreds of years to the time of Plato and Socrates.

        • Greg G.

          So what part of the gospels can actually be attributed to Jesus and not to the literature of the day?

        • Sophia Sadek

          That depends on the paradigm of Jesus that one settles on. Since I focus on the wisdom school aspect of the story, those aspects are the ones that seem most reasonable. A Catholic might come to an opposite conclusion based on the Pauline rejection of philosophy.

  • Dys

    Christianity prefers their eyewitnesses to be dead for significantly long periods of time. The UFO people have too many live ones to be trusted.

  • Yonah

    My mother believed in aliens.

    My mother was a researcher for Battelle.

    • Greg G.

      Did she believe those aliens were visiting our planet? If so, did she base her belief on evidence? If so, would you happen to know what the evidence was?

      • Yonah

        Mom worked for Battelle. Battelle took in the Roswell debris…and so the story goes…Titanium was developed out that.

        Mom’s division was the 2nd generation at Battelle in the development of Titanium. All their contracts were with the Air Force. I remember her taking many trips to Wright Patterson Air Force Base for meetings in the 1960s.

        In my first year of college, she got me hired into her division as clerical worker part time. So, I had a inside look at the culture that I had just heard stories of growing up. Her colleagues were just like her…they had a common culture. They, including my Mom, all had national security clearances. I remember when the FBI came to the neighborhood to interview neighbors.

        I do not know what “evidence” they were working with. What I do know is that it paid for my college education.

        • Greg G.

          Are you sure? Titanium is an element. It has been used as an alloy for steel for a century.

        • Yonah

          I suppose there would be a difference between Titanium as an element and Titanium in actual usage in whatever upgraded alloy the aerospace industry came to in the latter half of 20th century. One of my mother’s colleagues wrote a Titanium handbook that was then current most updated info. The subject of Titanium is well known in UFO/Roswell/Battelle history/mythology-whatever. I never knew what to make out of it all….’cept it paid for food, books, & tuition…and one day, when I was working at Battelle, I barged into the copier room because I heard my Mom talking and then she blew up at me because she was copying classified documents. And then there was this weird project they gave me of copying old microfiche documents on metal fatigue for the military…I had to do it in a back room with antique equipment…like so it wouldn’t show up on an expense report….or something….Battelle is weird.

          So’s this:

          http://www.ufodigest.com/news/0809/crash-debris-print.php

        • Greg G.

          I toured Battelle on King Avenue in the early 1980s and my brother-in-law works there.

        • Yonah

          Yup. I worked there 1975-76. You could make a sci-fi movie there and not put any money into the set…the whole environment being a maze of continuous manila colored metal walled offices that all look the same. Their cafeteria was tops. The PhD colleague of my mother who wrote the Titanium handbook was a fellow Lutheran with unorthodox views on Jesus…holding that Jesus was an Essene. I dunno….maybe the Essenes were aliens. But, maybe there’s something to be said for having a PhD because the guy’s Jesus views turned out to be a branch of historical Jesus positioning decades later.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, the Essences were an amphibious species, hence their emphasis on immersing themselves often. 8o)

        • Yonah

          Darwin and Jesus. Who knew?

        • Greg G.
        • Yonah

          I dunno. But, my Mom was always buying me telescopes and model rockets. One I liked was launched by nothing other than a big rubber band. The thing went really really high and at certain levels broke into different stages each with its own parachute.

          Now, here’s another thing I remember about my Mom’s circle of scientists and staff at Battelle. Most of them were pretty religious…church goers…all cheer leady of me to go to seminary…several came to my ordination. I contrast this with Bob & Co. who seem to claim “science” for the atheists. Personally, my theory is that there’s a generational factor here that is more the factor. The “greatest generation” were just plum more religious in general.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Bob & Co. who seem to claim “science” for the atheists.

          feel free to demonstrate that scientists who happen to identify as theists directly/necessarily apply {theism/theology/anything similarly relevant to their cultural identity} to scientific procedure.

        • Yonah

          That would be superfluous to the simple observation that theist scientists existed in good number in a previous generation.

        • TheNuszAbides

          so how are “Bob & Co.” seeming to “claim ‘science'”?

        • Yonah

          In many posts, he puts science and theism in opposition to each other with science having vastly more credibility vis a vis “evidence”. Whatever. I had an experience with a chunk of people of my mother’s circle and generation that held to no such opposition. They may have compartmentalized their thinking, but they did not hold that the one negated the other. You can argue with that…I don’t care. I simply report the observation.

        • Greg G.

          It is theists who tend to put science and theism in opposition. A religion doesn’t have to reject science but many do because it conflicts with their reading of their scripture.

          A theist can do good science as long as their deity is left out of the equations and their theories. Science was held back because the church tradition was in conflict with God not being at the root of everything. Questioning things that were understood through scripture but conflicted with observation was dangerous.

          The Dalai Lama has said that if the findings of science conflicts with Buddhism, Buddhism should change. Progressive Christians have essentially done that by jettisoning the parts of Christianity that are obviously wrong while clinging to the completely baseless parts that happen to be not obviously wrong. Not all arguments will address both camps.

        • Yonah

          I suppose it may depend on who one is talking to and what era they are coming from. Personally, I’m old enough to remember what religious life was like before the evangelicals came up out of the swamps and hollers in the 1970s. Before then, evolution wasn’t a dirty word in mainstream American religion.

        • Greg G.

          I remember one preacher’s kid who had a little trouble with evolution being taught in junior high school in the late 60s.

        • Yonah

          I’m sure there was. I just remember when you wouldn’t run into that much in your run of the mill mainline (non evangelical non Baptist-Church of Christ-Nazarene-Church of God East Booger Holler Tn Inc)…in other words: Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist (pre EUB merger…they brought the crazy into the UMC).

        • Greg G.

          I vaguely recall the EUB merger. I had no idea what they were and our Methodist church didn’t miss a step as there were no EUB in our part of the state. Maybe seven years later, I was reading something about what the Methodist Church believed and was shocked because there was so much I was never exposed to. Maybe it was MINO, Methodist in name only.

        • Yonah

          Oh, don’t get me started! I’ve been a Methodist pastor on training wheels since July. Some of my “colleagues” are one hair short of snake handlers. (The crap, I get into…)

        • TheNuszAbides

          They may have compartmentalized their thinking,

          feasible and plausible indeed.

          they did not hold that the one negated the other.

          who does? it’s certainly not necessary to conflate such a notion with “having vastly more credibility vis a vis ‘evidence'” (perhaps you’re referring to a claim of better explanation of evidence?)

        • Yonah

          I’m sure Bob would do a better job of parsing his own meaning than I. Since I have a religious filter, I would not be as accurate as he, I’m sure.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i ask again, were you referring to Cross Examined denizens particularly, or some other ‘class’ of atheists that includes Bob?

        • Yonah

          Bob and whoever he thinks agrees with him.

  • ningen

    Apart from the fact that the persecution of early Christians for their beliefs may have been seriously oversold, there is strong evidence from social psychology that the underlying intuition of the question, “who would die for a lie?” is mistaken. The assumption is that people will retract false or uncertain claims in the face of negative consequences for not doing so. This fits common sense, but fails to square with empirical evidence that shows that in fact people are very likely to double-down and hold even more strongly to such beliefs.

    • MNb

      Even if the assumptions fails the argument amounts to nothing.
      The SSers at the Eastern Front from 1941 – 1945 were totally willing to die for nazism. No christian however uses this fact to “demonstrate” that nazism is true.

  • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

    I never understood the part about being drunk. Since when does alcohol make you hallucinate? I’d never heard of that.

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

      Being drunk makes you a less reliable witness and more likely to confuse natural/commonplace things for something extraordinary.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        Okay. I’m not too familiar with that since I don’t drink.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “… you begin to think very little, but with great clarity. it’s what causes the momentous attitude of a drunk, often repeating the same idea or proclamation over and over …”
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkpz7xFTWJo

    • Ignorant Amos
      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        That’s interesting, thanks.

    • TheNuszAbides

      1) delirium tremens (therefore indirect, but still)
      2) marijuana isn’t hallucinogenic either, but out of a far-above-average array of substance-abusing acquaintances, i have encountered even more UFOlogy devotees among stoners than among boozers.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        If it’s not hallucinogenic, does that matter?

        • TheNuszAbides

          not necessarily; i was just going off of your “Since when does alcohol make you hallucinate?”

        • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

          Okay.

      • Ignorant Amos

        I’ve done my fair share of ‘tripping’ on marijuana back in the day. Of course it depends on the strain and method of ingestion.

  • Greg

    ‘1. Recentness of event. You can interview people today who claim to have seen UFOs or encountered aliens. To understand the gospel claims, we must peer back across 2000 years of history.’
    The premises is completely erroneous – the longer testimony stands, the longer it can be tested for its validity, the more likely more objective criticism can be waged against the testimony, the more likely newer and newer technology and analysis can be applied – the longer testimony stands the more VALID it is – that is why the fact that the Bible STILL stands as a valid source of relevant teaching and inspiration AFTER 2000 years of history makes it much more credible than the testimonies of recent UFO sighting –

    • adam

      “Bible STILL stands as a valid source of relevant teaching and
      inspiration AFTER 2000 years of history”

      • Michael Neville

        I think part of your comment got lost.

        • Greg

          an example of rushing…his comment is incomplete and invalid – the defense rests

        • adam

          No, THIS is an example of rushing:

        • Dys

          Disqus doesn’t instantly load photos after they’ve been linked.

          So this is yet another example of a Greg fail.

        • Greg G.

          If you clicked on “Show 1 new reply”, it won’t show the graphic he has attached. You may have to open the link to his post in a browser window to see it. Just refreshing may not show the post at all, depending on the spot and the number of comments.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, I see it now.

        • Greg

          If only you lived when Jesus was crucified, Greg G, to explain it all – we’d know for sure it was all valid – we could just read your testimonies – they’d be much more reliable than the four we have now…..

        • adam

          “If only you lived when Jesus was crucified,”

          Yes, then he could have seen the sun become stationary in the sky and all those other ZOMBIES who came out of their graves and walking around greeting people….

        • Greg G.

          Nah, I would have told what really happened and none of the Christians would have been interested in copying the truth.

        • adam

          Thanks anyway.

    • Michael Neville

      You’re neglecting one very important point. You’re arguing with people who do not consider the Bible to be valid. We see it as a collection of contradictory myths, fables and lies written, translated, rewritten, edited and revised over the centuries by people with differing agendas.

      • Greg

        the premises is still erroneous – our system of jurisprudence is based on not rushing to judgment – testimonies are allowed to be analyzed, cross examined and the system promotes a cooling down period to prove the validity of facts – so there is no rush to judgment.

        • buttle

          You do realize that for most of those 2000 years cross-examining that evidence critically was punishable by death, do you?

        • Greg

          The analysis on BobS’ blogs have made up for that – oh, and the Bible stands regardless…

        • Dys

          As a book of mythology and historical fiction? Yes, it certainly does.

        • Philmonomer

          the premises is still erroneous – our system of jurisprudence is based on not rushing to judgment – testimonies are allowed to be analyzed, cross examined and the system promotes a cooling down period to prove the validity of facts – so there is no rush to judgment -it’s also why we take at least a year to vet the presidential candidates –

          This is (largely) nonsense. If you want eyewitness testimony (and lots of other evidence), you want it from as close to the time of the event as possible.

          By your logic, we would never need a statute of limitations. However, the statute of limitations exists for a reason.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This is (largely) nonsense.

          A nice way of saying Greg is talking bollocks…yet again.

        • TheNuszAbides

          excruciatingly polite! pfah!

      • TheNuszAbides

        You’re neglecting one very important point.

        that is most definitely SOP for this Greg. at a bare minimum.

    • Dys

      the longer testimony stands, the longer it can be tested for its validity

      So as long as miracle claims are really, really old, you’re bound to believe them. But only when they’re in the bible. I hope you don’t expect blatant cherrypicking of your preferred miracle stories to be taken seriously.

      • Greg

        Exactly, Dys, look at the wisdom of the Catholic Church – they know that just after a holy person dies there is great love and desire to make them a saint – no, no, no, they wait – analyze, then make the proclamation –

        • adam

          “Exactly, Dys, look at the wisdom of the Catholic Church”

          Yes, Dys, look, look at the ‘wisdom’ of the Catholic Church

        • buttle

          You got it right the first time…

        • Dys

          no, no, no, they wait – analyze, then make the proclamation –

          LMAO…you have got to be kidding. Have you paid any attention to the “miracles” attributed to the Albanian pain lover Mother Teresa? Or the fact that they changed the requirements for sainthood to fasttrack her?

          It’s a joke. And so is your esteem for their process.

    • Greg G.

      Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are older than the New Testament by a long shot. Does that make them more reliable than the Bible?

      • Greg

        Antiquity is not the only tool to determine reliability – but my point is it is an asset not a liability as BobS’ statement asserts.

        • Dys

          Age has no relevance in regards to the truth value of miracle claims Greg. You just really want it to.

        • Greg G.

          Antiquity is not a tool for determining the reliability of a document. The fact that the gospels are recycled stories from the literature of the day shows that they are not stories of historical events.

        • Greg

          let’s get real, Greg G, if you had a book as comprehensive as the Bible, as accurate as the Bible, as inspirational as the Bible, as corroborated by the dead sea scrolls as is the Bible, and this book was devoted to aliens, flying saucers and a map on how to trek back to their planet full of intelligent life – would you really be arguing that antiquity does not prove that aliens exist? To quote an old friend, “Nope”.

        • Dys

          You’re severely over-estimating the accuracy of the bible and continuing to miss the point. As per usual.

        • Greg

          I have learned alot about it’s accuracy from keeping up with you guys on this blog, you wanta know what, it’s accurate enough, Dys, it’s accurate enough.

        • Dys

          Well, the creation myth is demonstrably wrong. There was no Adam and Eve, no global flood, no Noah’s Ark, etc. The Exodus didn’t happen either.

          The bible is semi-accurate. Parts of it have actually been corroborated. But plenty of it has also been found to be wrong.

          It’s not a history book, and it’s not inerrant. Stop pretending it is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The tales of Sherlock Holmes are semi accurate too.

        • MNb

          Eh no. You have learned nothing. There is quite some stuff from Antiquity that’s a lot more accurate than the Bible. Try this for instance.

          http://www.livius.org/articles/person/hanno-1-the-navigator/

          “it’s accurate enough”
          Of course it is for you. If it weren’t you’d just lower the bar a bit more.

        • Greg G.

          If the Bible talked of aliens and interplanetary travelers, it would be more believable as we have shown that it is possible. It may have inspired technology and science instead of suppressing it for a thousand years.

          You opened with “let’s get real” and then started talking about the Bible being accurate. Stop it. Irony meters don’t grow on trees.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Greg….that woo woo exists, but you chose to disregard it as woo woo. Mote/beam eye shite again.

          http://www.gizmopod.com/gallery/6235/15-signs-that-alien-life-actually-exists/63465

        • Ol’ Hippy

          Help me. Isn’t the Epic of Gilgamesh one of the oldest stories predating the biblical stories by 1500 years? Have they too been verified by any real proof? Humans are always up for a good yarn, the older the better. It certainly doesn’t mean they are true.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, that’s where the Noah’s Ark story comes. I suspect they added some Egyptian imagery to it using the Ogdoad to round out characters from images of the god of the deep holding a boat over his head with seven people and a few animals.

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

      For most of those 2000 years, questioning the Bible’s validity was punishable by fines, imprisonment, torture, mutilation, and/or execution. Where I come from, we call that cheating.

      • Greg

        you have at your disposal the greatest technology, the greatest minds, heck most of them are on this post, and yet you still can’t crack the nut – so what’s the excuse now -need a bigger nut cracker?

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

          Excuse for what? You’ll have to be more specific.

        • Pofarmer

          Crack what nut?

        • Dys

          The bible’s validity has been cracked open, and found wanting for quite some time. Centuries ago, as it happens. Not sure what cave you’ve been living in.

          It’s just the people who dogmatically insist that the bible is inerrant who pretend otherwise.

        • Greg

          The cave in which they found the dead sea scrolls – the ancient documents that corroborated the events found in the Bible and emphasize how enviable it is for the Gospels to have the pedigree of antiquity and place them in an elite category well above the silly testimonies of alien goings on.

        • Dys

          By ancient documents, you mean older copies of the biblical manuscripts? Haven’t you figured out by now that doesn’t make the events described in the bible historical?

          Stop being silly. The dead sea scrolls also demonstrate that the scriptures were fairly fluid back in the early days. Which doesn’t really bode well for the whole “inerrant word of God” thing.

          The dead sea scrolls were a bigger boon for literary and textual criticism than for the true believers.

        • buttle

          Can’t you even read wikipedia, for your savior’s sake? Those were 11 caves, the documents don’t corroborate the events at all because they are at best slightly older copies of books we already have and are limited to the hellenistic period, they don’t extend to the first temple period (assuming there was a first temple), plus the documents we didn’t already have are fantastically bizzare elaborations on previous texts, in typical jewish fashion. If anything they undermine all the latest books included in the old testament, let alone corroborate the earlier ones… As an example the longest scroll is an entirely new revelation of God to Moses regarding the building of another temple, because apparently the standing one in the time of Herod was not adequate. Which is funny, because as a christian you have no need for yet another temple in Jerusalem, right? I’m going to assume you reject this “revelation” as a jewish fabrication, right? Guess what, we reject also the other equally bogus ones.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re a halfwit. What is it you think you know about the Dead Sea Scroll’s?

          What have you read about them?

        • TheNuszAbides

          crickets from the cheerleader …

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye…he might be away doing a bit of reading up, but I doubt it. Cause he knows ya know?

          My main source is “The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Truth behind the Mystique” by Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman.

          He also played a role in the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that led to the full publication of the scrolls and to the decision of the Israel Antiquities Authority to make them fully available to the academic community. He focuses in his research on showing that the Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish texts and do not have far-reaching and dramatic implications for the study of Christianity.

          About his lecture series on Audible…

          In this course, Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman presents the real Dead Sea Scrolls. In doing so, this widely published authority on Judaic studies imparts a clear understanding of what the Scrolls are, and even more importantly, what they are not. The discovery of the Scrolls is itself a thing of legend. As the story goes, a Bedouin boy discovered the Scrolls in a cave in 1947 while looking for a missing goat. But as Professor Schiffman explains, even this simple story is more complicated than it first appears. Indeed, everything about the Scrolls, from their long, torturous road to full publication to the contentious haggling over dating, meaning, and translation of the Scrolls, has been shrouded in controversy – so much so that even otherwise respected academics have succumbed to the “curse of the Scrolls” by committing serious errors in their Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship.

          The Dead Sea Scrolls have been the subject of numerous sensationalistic articles in tabloid publications. All manner of people with outrageous theories, including apocalyptic groups and those who believe that the Scrolls contain some hidden message that will lead to man’s salvation, have used the Scrolls to further their agenda. In these lectures, Professor Schiffman engages listeners with a fascinating explanation of the content of the Scrolls, the times in which the Scrolls were kept, and the Jewish sectarians who lived in the Dead Sea community. First and foremost, Professor Schiffman clarifies one of the biggest and most widespread misunderstandings about the Scrolls, which is simply this: The Scrolls were not Christian texts nor do they contain any references to Jesus or John the Baptist. The Scrolls, in fact, pre-dated Christianity by many years. By dispersing this myth of the Scrolls as Christian texts, the invaluable insights the Scrolls provide can finally be appreciated.

          At a cost of £30.60 perhaps a bit much for some, but with a monthly membership, 1 credit covers it and a credit is just £7.99 per month.

        • TheNuszAbides

          worth considering if i get a job upgrade within a few years …

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

      To the many old books others have mentioned–the Illiad, Gilgamesh, and others–I’ll add the Enua Elish and the Hindu vedas. Show us that you accept them because their continued existence proves their validity, and then I’ll see that you’re being consistent.

      As it is, you’re yet again making bullshit claims and not adapting as people correct you. Keep it up and get banned.

      • MR

        Keep it up and get banned.

        Dear, sweet Jesus, please, I beg of you.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i think you made a wrong turn at Albuquerque. hereabouts you’re better off with

          Praise “Bob”!

      • Susan

        As it is, you’re yet again making bullshit claims and not adapting as people correct you. Keep it up and get banned.

        Sadly, a rule like that (though reasonable) would mean no theist presence here at all.

        I’m basing that on the theist contributions at this site.

        (Sorry Kodie and MR. How could Greg get banned without SteveK and Sparkling Moon , to name a couple,going with them?)

        I accept the tomatoes you reasonably would like to throw at me. The trouble is that that sort of nonsense thrives among humans and it’s a rare theist who exposes their arguments to scrutiny by participating here.

        I desperately want their arguments to be exposed to scrutiny. It doesn’t happen at dinner tables, funerals, weddings, Facebook, cocktail parties, etc. because it would be rude to challenge those beliefs.

        In the meantime, the press fawns over the new pope, invites clergy to comment on significant issues while our culture stays indoctrinated and reindoctrinates its youth.

        In this tiny corner, I welcome the Gregs and the SteveKs. They’ve got nothing and here is where it is socially acceptable to point that out.

        Where else can something so obvious be demonstrated?

        • Greg G.

          I agree. Greg is fun. He doesn’t take it too seriously. SteveK is exasperating but he is creative without the bounds of reality. Chew toys are fun. They are better than nothing until an interesting character pops in for a visit.

        • Susan

          Greg is fun.

          I honestly think there is no better example of Poe’s law than Greg. I honestly think Greg is not real. He seems to enjoy being a silver platter straight man.

          SteveK is exasperating but he is creative

          I have to disagree with the creative part. I think SteveK is real and that he is absolutely certain that he is smarter than everybodyhere and that he has the right answers so he never has to think about them. Nothing creative there. Just repetition of badly formed propaganda that he didn’t invent but has accepted whole hog.

          Chew toys are fun.

          I honestly don’t like chewing on people. I do crave arenas in which these badly constructed ideas are exposed to scrutiny.

          There are very few. Religion’s last (and extremely tenacious) refuge is accusations of rudeness. That is, they can make these claims at every level of society but anyone who asks that those claims be supported will be accused of hating, strawmanning, hostility, militancy, stridency and all manner of unsavoury things.

          When the occasional theist comes here with terrible arguments, I prefer they and their terrible arguments are allowed to stay.

          Where theists rule, they ban people who expose their terrible arguments.

          Much as I despise the process, it’s necessary and it is only allowed in rare places such as atheist sites on the internet.

          In the meantime, a lie travels around the world a thousand times before the truth can get its shoes tied.

          (Badly paraphrased but roughly accurate)

        • MR

          I prefer they and their terrible arguments are allowed to stay.

          Greg rarely offers arguments. Only when he’s threatened with banning.

        • Susan

          Greg rarely offers arguments.

          Does SteveK? Does Sparkling Moon? Do the last few theists who pass through here?

          How do you define “offering arguments”?

          Anyway, must sleep.

        • MR

          Granted, SteveK offers the same poor “arguments” repeatedly, and in that sense is guilty of Bob’s charge toward Greg of “making bullshit claims and not adapting as people correct you,” so perhaps it is the sincerity factor (i.e., lack thereof) that you point out in the other post that so grates on me with Greg. Also, Steve has a nefariousness about his “arguments” that underlie and highlight their weakness. I think most questioners will recognize that, and it has some benefit.

          Greg’s tactic seems to lie in vacuous and empty inanities that seldom rise to a level of even an insincere argument so much as just filler.

          I’m afraid I haven’t followed the Sparking Moon discussions.

          I don’t begrudge any theist a poor, or even no, argument in the beginning. Most of them don’t even realize they have no argument. But, for Christ’s sake, we’ve been dealing with Greg’s inane derailments for over a year.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I’m afraid I haven’t followed the Sparking Moon discussions.

          SM is a singularly fixated fan of the theology of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirza_Ghulam_Ahmad (who, whatever his credulities or other faults, at least founded a pacifist movement). once in a long while it appears to use its own words to get a point across (usually when engaged by another commenter with more than sheer mockery/sarcasm), but it never actually participates in critical discourse, phrasing everything in variations of the standard circularities like ‘sacred-because-scripture-because-sacred’. the consensus here seems to be ‘harmlessly verbose’, a broken record who bears no ill will but contributes zero substance.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There was a regular commenter on RDFRS forum about 6 years, or so ago, that was an Ahmadiyya Muslim…not the worst to debate with in the world iirc. He claimed that his lot got the vilest treatment from the ‘real’ Muslims as the Ahmadiyya’s are not recognised by their fellow Islamic religious peers.

          However, in many Islamic countries the Ahmadis have been defined as heretics and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and often systematic oppression.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Ahmadis

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, dude did have the brass to claim a messiahship, apparently. can’t exactly expect smiles and pats on the back.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bad enough claiming to be a prophet when the last of ’em had gone already, but to make the bigger claim is defo courting the shiny thin edge of a scimitar for sure. What a legacy to have left, what a legacy to be daft enough to follow…bunch o’ crazy fruitcakes.

        • Scott_In_OH

          It would be hard to develop a consistent rule.

          I stopped talking to Greg when he flipped effortlessly to the opposite argument of the one he was making earlier in the thread. He convinced me he was nothing but a troll, so I dropped out. My choice.

          SteveK seems more sincere to me, although I’m losing patience with what appears to be his intentional obtuseness. If it gets too tiresome, I’ll stop talking to him, too, but for now I prefer to engage.

          Sparkling Moon has never done anything but copy and paste nonsense as far as I can tell, so I’ve never responded.

          None of these people, though, is doing anything horrible, and I think every commentor should be able to make a decision about whether to engage or not.

        • TheNuszAbides

          SteveK seems more sincere to me, although I’m losing patience with what appears to be his intentional obtuseness.

          he’s obstinate enough … but whether he comes by that obstinacy ‘honestly’ is decreasingly to his credit when contrasted with his ongoing petulance (i.e. silence) towards persons who refuse to play his definition-of-terms rabbit-holery.

        • MR

          I agree with everything you say here.

          I honestly think Greg is not real.

          Including this, which is also why I’m in Kodie’s camp, and why I think Greg’s son is right when he called his own dad a troll. If he were real, if he were serious, I would welcome him no matter how much I disagreed with him. There’s just so rarely any substance to even disagree with.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Much as I despise the process, it’s necessary and it is only allowed in rare places such as atheist sites on the internet.

          We’ve seen a good few example’s of this over the years have we not?

        • Susan

          We’ve seen a good few example’s of this over the years have we not?

          We have. :-)

          This internet warrior stuff can really wear you out sometimes. The same terrible arguments over and over again.

          I’ve met so many wonderful, thoughtful (and in many cases well-educated and patient people) who’ve helped me learn to think and that’s made it worth it.

          We go back a long way now, don’t we?

          I’m happy I met you and I’ve missed you when you weren’t there.

        • Ignorant Amos

          We’ve certainly been around the block a few times on a few forums, that’s for sure.

          We’ve met all sorts of woo woo merchants on those travels, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

          Greg is a fake. He can’t be who he claims to be because he is so easy to pull asunder when he starts, so I have a hard time believing his claims. That means he is taking the piss, which in turn means he thinks he is clever. Dunning-Kruger aside, there is nothing at this point to be gained from his contributions, not even as an example to lurkers. Now that he has peeved regulars off, to the point of where some of them are taking a sabbatical, he has out worn his usefulness and more interesting folk are withdrawing from interaction.

          I blow hot and cold on his being here. He makes me look good…pro…he frustrates the fuck outta me…con…he hasn’t the foggiest what he is on about most of the time…pro & con…I could elaborate further, but ya get the picture?

          I’m thinking Greg as being a poor man’s Luke and ya seen how that panned out? Bob is easily a more tolerant mod than Andrew and Andrew is a very tolerant mod in his own right. I’m a firm believer of give’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves…Greg’s bit of rope is getting dangerously long in my opinion.

        • TheNuszAbides

          there is nothing at this point to be gained from his contributions, not even as an example to lurkers.

          yet there’s a first time for each and everyone (first visit, first Gregged thread, etc.)

          unless we’re only qualifying those who have done All The Homework. which would suck, frankly–even yours truly, Thread-Necromancer Pursuivant, hasn’t finished touring the archives!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fair comment.

          Is the trade off worth it? I’m left wondering though if it is or not.

        • TheNuszAbides

          possibly one of the Great Unanswered Questions (on a more general level). i confess i can’t foretell such egregious damage (or ‘payoff’) that i could put any conviction behind an Official Recommendation to Bob one way or t’other.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I figured as much…my question was more rhetorical in nature…or me thinking out loud should a say.

        • TheNuszAbides
          SteveK is exasperating but he is creative

          I have to disagree with the creative part.

          seconded. if he were creative (in either temperament or execution) there’d certainly be no reason for giving you the lame sulky silent treatment. only [at best] the ‘excuse’ of one more iteration of the “pearls before swine” trope to add to the heap.

        • TheNuszAbides

          (Badly paraphrased but roughly accurate)

          if only apologetics were so mature!

        • Pofarmer

          They are certainly very useful for pointing out fallacious arguments.

        • Greg G.

          Have you seen artwork with hidden faces and animals like Beverly Doolittle print?

          http://www.artifactsgallery.com/art/12810.jpg

          SteveK paints pictures like that with words and hidden logical fallacies.

        • TheNuszAbides

          until an interesting character pops in for a visit.

          today i finally found justification for thinking that Yonah’s style is rather “the truth is out there”-ish.

        • Greg G.

          I’m guessing it was the exchange about extraterrestrials?

        • MR

          I welcome the Gregs and the SteveKs.

          I welcome the SteveKs because they are useful to show how nefarious religion can be; I just tire of them after a while. The Gregs, however, do little more than derail conversation. The SteveKs of the world helped me to see the flaws in religion; they have a role to play. The Gregs are like getting a package in the mail and finding there is nothing in it but packing peanuts.

        • Susan

          The Gregs are like getting a package in the mail and finding there is nothing in it but packing peanuts.

          Hmmm… well put. The trouble is that I see SteveK the same way. I agree that he’s sincere. That might be the difference.

          I don’t see any difference in substance.

          But it’s late and I have to sleep. Out of town job tomorrow.

          I’ll sleep on it. Thanks MR.

          (And Greg G.)

        • MR

          The trouble is that I see SteveK the same.

          Yes, you’re right. Perhaps it is the sincerity factor that makes it feel different.

          I don’t see any difference in substance.

          You’re right there, too. In fact, I don’t see substance in either. The one is fallacious, the other is empty. But, fallaciousness is it’s own enemy; emptiness is everyone’s.

          Ok, I’ll try to lighten up now. 😉

          Goodnight.

        • TheNuszAbides

          well said; they each demonstrate different aspects of slipperiness and witlessness.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, not only rude, but it can be quite socially damaging to the unbeliever, which just seems, so, wrong.

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

          Thanks for your insights. And I appreciate everyone else’s inputs.

          I don’t know what it was about this thread that Greg started. It was actually a bit promising. He proposed something new (hilariously bad, but new), that the older a document is, the more reliable it must be.

          It’s almost self-refuting, but others jumped in with examples of other old books that, with Greg’s rule applied consistently, he must also consider not just venerable but reliable and trustworthy. If we got the occasional, “Wow–I need to rethink that” I’d be happy. “Good point” or “I was wrong” are probably beyond him. I see him as a drunk who picks himself off the floor and orders another, oblivious to the fact that he’s not in a bar but a college classroom and those around him don’t think it’s funny.

        • Susan

          I don’t know what it was about this thread that Greg started.

          I didn’t mean to go spouting off last night. The fact is that you weren’t talking about implementing a policy, just moderating a particular member whose shenanigans you’ve had enough of.

          As moderator, it’s entirely up to you. It seems to take an awful lot for you to ban someone. It’s fair to say that if you’ve had enough, things have gotten out of hand.

          Also, you didn’t ban him. You just told him to clean up his act or you would ban him.

          So, sorry about that. I wasn’t challenging you.

          On the plus side, I enjoyed the contributions from everyone on the subject. Still, I was out of line, even if that wasn’t my intention.

          Thanks for responding.

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

          No need to apologize. Your input was helpful.

          If someone is far enough over the line, I’ll happily ban someone and brag about it afterwards. But for others, the mood of the frequent readers like you is important. I want to make it valuable for them, and their needs may not match up precisely with mine.

        • MR

          I know you have heartburn from over at SN over this kind of thing, but banning the occasional disrupter is not the same as banning all opposition. I’d like to see Greg clean up his act as much as anyone, but frankly, I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him. When Kodie was hitting hard on suggesting he be banned, the first thing Greg did was to throw Bob a bone and start up a conversation with some meat. It reeks to high heaven of disingenuousness if you ask me. Greg stays Kodie’s gone. Now he’s gone all contrite with Bob. We’ll see. I admire Bob’s patience, but nobody likes to be played with either. Fair warning to Greg.

          Having said all that, I am glad that Bob is so lenient and fully support his general philosophy on moderation and strongly agree with your point about exposing such arguments to scrutiny. Also, I find value in the responses others provide to such arguments, but even those can begin to spiral in the face of his inanities which ultimately cease being arguments at all. I don’t begrudge that Bob offers him a place at the table, I feel lucky he allows me a place, but if it ever came to a vote, I know what my vote would be, and Greg has a long way to go to change that.

          The comments above reflect the opinions soley of the commenter and in no way are a reflection of….

        • Susan

          banning the occasional disrupter is not the same as banning all opposition.

          I agree completely. It didn’t even cross my mind that it was.

          It reeks to high heaven of disingenuousness if you ask me.

          Agreed. I think Greg’s just having a laugh.

          That causes two problems:

          !) It ends up making for terrible discussion. Most people here are far more interesting than the discussions they let Greg drag them into.

          2) Most theists who might pop in and read the discussions will think we’re attacking a real live strawman. Sadly, I would have to agree with many of them.

          The best way to deal with a troll is to starve it. It gets bored and looks for other bridges to haunt.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i’m still waiting for Greg to pull a Columbo, but i stopped holding my breath months ago.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i don’t see how you were ‘out of line’ in the slightest, and i’ll bet my vast earthly treasure it’s not just esteem talking.

        • TheNuszAbides

          “Good point” or “I was wrong” are probably beyond him.

          can’t recall any such thing ever trickling from SteveK’s fingers either.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I accept the tomatoes you reasonably would like to throw at me.

          Kodie loves it when i resurrect year[s]-old threads and prompt a ‘fresh’ rambling from Greg in particular.

        • TheNuszAbides

          I desperately want their arguments to be exposed to scrutiny.

          one of those counter-intuitive societal benefits of free speech: makes it easier to Spot the Loony (at least for those of us fortunate enough to have a shred of a grounding in critical analysis) …

      • Greg

        Understood, Bob. Ok. Will try to raise the level of my arguments.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ha!

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

          Open your mind. Learn. Adapt.

          To date, your arguments have been of the form, “I know you are, but what am I?” Yes, raise the level of your arguments. This is the adult table.

          Suggestion: introduce a new argument this way: “I heard an interesting argument. Let me explain it to you; then I’d like your feedback.” Atheists are the best people for finding holes and improving Christian arguments.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Indeed…cuneiform is the one ta beat…This modern shite of Greg’s in Koine Greek isn’t to be trusted.

        Mind you, The Dispilio tablet looks like the one to beat for true accuracy. Although what ta fuck it says is another story.

        But Greg is a lawyer don’t forget. His lawyer thinking has to stand for something, no?

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

          His lawyer thinking has to stand for something, no?

          Good point. I’m sure in his experience he’s heard of dozens–nay, hundreds–of cases where 2000-year-old documents were essential to the case.

      • Greg G.

        Add the Pyramid Texts.

      • MNb

        At least he excellently illustrates the difference between lawyer thinking and scientist thinking …..

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

          over and over and over …

  • MNb

    Yet another “reason to not believe christianity until you believe in aliens” is provided by

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zika_virus

    According to Brazilian scientists there seems to be a correlation with microcephaly (babies with too small skulls). Still precious few scientists are willing to postulate that the zika virus causes it. According to Wikipedia Brazilian Ministry of Health Care has, but according to Surinamese media it hasn’t been that definite yet – they just take precautions.
    Because scientists don’t know yet which procedure the virus follows and which means it uses.

    Let’s apply this to alien abductions. Though testimonies are rather vague, they still usually provide some information – energy beams and that kind of stuff.
    Now let’s apply this to the very first abrahamistic claim: god created everything. Nobody ever has been able to tell us how and with which means.

    Alien abductions win, because they are slightly more specific.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    There is of course the idea that Jesus was actually an alien and all the miracles were just examples of alien tech. (:

    • Greg

      yeah, but wasn’t the guy who propagated that idea also had a cup of koolaid as a chaser for ya?

      • Ignorant Amos

        Spoooing!

      • TheNuszAbides

        whereas Paul had a perfectly healthy mind and only the most righteous of agendas?

        • Ignorant Amos

          One man’s alien is another man’s celestial being.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Road to Damascus moment = Saul’s tin helm slipped just enough …

      • Greg G.

        The Heaven’s Gate cult took their poison with applesauce and chased it with vodka. You are thinking of the Jonestown, Guyana massacre that used Flavor-Aid, which is a powder mixed with water like Kool-Aid. But the Jonestown group started out as a Bible-believing church full of gullible people who followed Jones as he turned into a paranoid megalomaniac.

        • adam

          “as he turned into a paranoid megalomaniac a human version of the OT Jehovah character.”

          ftfy

        • Greg G.

          Thanks.

          But isn’t that what I said? 8o)

        • adam

          Mai oui!

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s the first Beetlejuice ffs….

          I was doing so well in refraining to point out that yet another discrepancy in Greg’s muddle headedness.

  • Pofarmer
    • Greg G.

      “Amen what a beautiful powerful prayer” and the one about the bed that moves him so blood can flow better and God is doing wonderful things. It sounds like the bed is more powerful than the prayer.

      • Pofarmer

        Don’t know of you read the one about Rick and Lisa getting impatient. Apparently, they really ARE expecting a miracle. Which is just – sad.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t recall that one. But any sort of recovery will end up being the miracle they were hoping for all along.

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

      I never understood the public prayers. They’re comforting, of course, but the pretense makes no sense. Are you telling God something he doesn’t already know? How can you tell him what action to take when he already knows the best action?

      • Pofarmer

        In reality, it’s about making us feel powerful in the presence of overwhelming evidence we’re not really in control. Logically? No, it doesn’t make sense. The only prayer that actually makes sense is “Thy will be done”, because that’s all that’s gonna happen anyway.

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

          And the only petition that makes sense is, “Help me understand and adapt to your will.”

        • Marc

          That’s a very old debate – and your position is very non christian (or at least non catholic). Free will exists in humans and they can do whatever they want in the limit of their own power, including refusing god, killing themselves or others, etc. so, no, “that’s all that’s gonna happen anyway” is not christian at all. Because the christian perspective of the world is that our freedom is real.

        • Greg G.

          The perceived positive effect of prayer looks just like confirmation bias to which humans and animals alike are prone.

          When prayer tests are done, the more rigorously the possibility of false positives are eliminated without eliminating true positives, the less indication there is of any positives.

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

          You seem to be taking the opposite position from your last comment. Yes, I understand that that’s not what Jesus says in the NT, but that’s the only logical option that’s actually open to Christians.

          God knows the problem, he knows the best course of action, and he knows how it’s all going to turn out. That doesn’t leave much room for getting into a discussion about it with God.

        • Greg G.

          When I click the link to your next post in Recent Comments, I get a 502 error. The header indicates to me that you might be responding to IA about his inability to post.

          Maybe try the links in separate posts, one apiece? Maybe Disqus has some sort…

        • Marc

          Sorry, I’m getting lost in this debate – what am I taking the opposite of?
          The fact that god knows things about us would mean that our freedom is not real? These things – I believe – have been discussed at length by T Aquinas but I have not given a lot of thought about them myself, I must say…

        • adam

          ” Free will exists in humans and they can do whatever they want in the limit of their own power,”

          So NOT Free Will, just the ability to make limited choices.

          “Because the christian perspective of the world is that our freedom is real.”

        • TheNuszAbides

          the christian perspective of the world

          it’s so adorable when anybody pretends there’s such a thing as “the christian perspective of the world”!

        • Greg G.

          There are at least 43,000 the one and only Christian perspectives.

        • adam

          “There are at least 43,000 the one and only Christian perspectives.”

          Being that christianity is primarily a Revealed ReligionTM wouldnt that number be closer to 1 BILLION one and only Christian perspectives?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which is why the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” is so apt for Christianity…everyone of them are their own True Scotsman. Yip, nonsense.

        • TheNuszAbides

          or “the new and improved [and we’ll just sweep the past under the rug since we can’t do anything about it, especially THINK]” …

      • Marc

        The point of prayer is not to tell god something he knows, it’s to change the one that prays (first), which is ine the logic of all types of meditations (you can see zen and buddhism, as other examples of that idea) and then, if one takes the christian perspective, god and humans are free, and one can sollicitate the other and prayer is a particular way to do this (it goes both ways, BTW). Whereas public prayers has a mystical meaning for christian (this might be a little less true for protestants, though, for all I know) as the church is the body of Christ and the communion is also realized through common prayers, particularly the eucharist.

        • Greg G.

          When someone leads a prayer, the leader is speaking to the people. The prayer before the collection plate is passed around is designed to make the congregation feel guilty if they don’t give enough, for example. Matthew 6:5-7 opposes those types of prayer.

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

          Yes, I understand that the meditative or comforting aspect is how it works in practice, but that’s not how Jesus says it works in the NT. Jesus says that God is pretty much a gumball machine.

        • Marc

          Well, I am not a big fan of gums, but nevertheless I have not seen god depicted exactly in those words in the NT. If you refer to “ask and you shall receive” it might be a good idea to put things in context (and Jesus has taught other things according to the NT as in “pray in your room, your father will know” etc. A full exegetic reading of J. teachings on prayer would be interesting). Anyway, the prayer taught by J. is “thy will be done”, and he also says “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your
          children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to
          those who ask him!” so apparently you shall receive what you ask for if it is good – so not necessarily gum, for that matter. And now, the next question would be “what does *good* mean?”

          Plus I did use the word mystical and I maintain it : if the spiritual stuff is true, some new properties might arise which are beyond feelings and material effects… which might be the most important ones.

        • MNb

          And how again did you determine if the spiritual stuff is true or not; which new properties might arise and which ones not?

        • Marc

          Well, at some points, things might happen that will make you see things in a different manner. Read saints lives – but then again, you can always deny what they say. A miracle does not convert anyone, nor does a purely rational demonstration – and I prefer this: if all is demonstration, then what of freedom and love? Which makes sense in a christian perspective for which “god is love”…

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Sam

          But if you stole a bike then God gave it to you because he gave you the opportunity to steal it.*
          I’ve actually heard something along this line from Christians. I know I used it when I was one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip, free will to break one of the top ten sins, then the ability to redeem from said sin.

          Never worry about the poor fecker whose bike got stole, they can suck it up.

          It’s a sick world view where 6 million holocaust victims have to go to the fiery place while a possibly repentant Hitler made it to a mansion in the sky.

          Other examples of this nonsense includes…

          http://atheistpapers.com/2014/01/29/these-murderers-are-now-in-heaven-many-of-their-victims-are-in-hell-2/

          Christians would have us believe that no matter how awful our crimes are, we still have an opportunity to go to heaven, even if we’ve stolen that opportunity from our victims. If one is murdered during the throes of sin, one is damned, or so the Christians would say. But their murderers get to heaven by default, as long as they repent and accept Jesus.

          This has even more horrible implications for rape victims. A person is raped, their rapist is caught, and he finds salvation through Christ. His victim, on the other hand, is unable to cope with the trauma and commits suicide. The victim goes to hell by no fault of their own, while the rapist goes to heaven. I ask again: Do Christians even bother to consider these major ethical problems with their god?

        • adam

          “if all is demonstration, then what of freedom and love? ”

          Then what of Satan?
          Did it not have both?

          And Thomas?

        • MNb

          Thanks for not answering my questions.

        • Pofarmer

          “Read saints lives ”

          Why? The current individual being fast tracked to Sainthood was a perfectly horrible person. Why should I think the rest of the lot were really any different?

        • Ignorant Amos

          A miracle does not convert anyone,…

          Ya need to be having a yarn with this geezer then.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/01/response-to-an-angry-christian-2-of-2-2/#comment-2483963629

          Which makes sense in a christian perspective for which “god is love”…

          All credibility you may have had is lost with remarks so dumbfuck as this.

        • Pofarmer

          I can’t tell if Marc has devolved into deepities or innanities.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or a mixture of both.

        • Greg G.

          It also makes sense if there is no god but people choose to believe without a demonstration.

        • adam

          “Which makes sense in a christian perspective for which “god is love”…”

          Love genocide
          Love slavery
          Love rape

        • TheNuszAbides

          nor does a purely rational demonstration

          i’ll bet there are late-onset Catholics who would disagree with you (erroneous though their path may have been), but it certainly works for deconversion often enough.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A was thinking the same myself. These folk don’t do much thinking of it through before posting, do they?

        • Ignorant Amos

          A full exegetic reading of J. teachings on prayer would be interesting

          Section one here gives a bit of detailed analysis…

          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god-toc.htm

        • adam

          “if the spiritual stuff is true, some new properties might arise which are beyond feelings and material effects… ”

          The we may one day explain why The Invisible Pink Flying Unicorn farts glitter….

        • Ignorant Amos

          Plus I did use the word mystical and I maintain it : if the spiritual stuff is true, some new properties might arise which are beyond feelings and material effects… which might be the most important ones.

          What load of fluff. If my arse was square I might be able to shite coal bricks.

          How would you measure some new properties that might arise which are beyond feelings and material effects?

          Why might they be the most important ones, especially if there is no way of knowing they exist?

        • TheNuszAbides

          because selectively transcendent stuff!! geez!

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

          I have not seen god depicted exactly in those words in the NT.

          I was referring to the common comparisons that Christians reject: God is a gumball machine, God is a vending machine, God is a genie, etc.

          If you refer to “ask and you shall receive” it might be a good idea to put things in context

          The obvious interpretation is in keeping with the context of that verse.

          If your point is that the Bible says all kinds of stuff, and you can pick and choose the bits about prayer to go to a different conclusion, I agree. That the Bible is contradictory doesn’t help you much, however.

  • Marc

    On the question addressed by this post, the notion of believing in god in a biblical sense is not merely considering that he exists, but to live one’s life according to its will, so I don’t really understand why I should live my life according to some alien whose message is quite unclear to me rather than the gospel, for example? IMO there is a semantic confusion between several possible meaning of the word “believe”.

    On the questions of the existence of aliens, that question has been theologically examined since the XIIIth century and theologians had then nothing against the existence of extra terrestrial life. I do not think this might have changed since then (cf. “Dieu, l’église et les extraterrestre” by A Vigne, sorry it’s in French…)

    • Ignorant Amos

      “Dieu, l’église et les extraterrestre” by A Vigne, sorry it’s in French

      Of very little use then?

      • Marc

        Well… depends on your French… I was just quoting where I get my info from.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that most folk commenting here will have the most basic of French, if any, so citing a book that very few can understand, let alone read, is pretty useless.

          French was a mandatory subject when I was at school, but most contributors on the forum are stateside I believe and I don’t think French is all that, but a might be wrong.

          By your rationale, I might as well cite a book in support of an argument along with a, by the way, the book is in Irish…or Swahili… or Klingon … or Elvish… it has the same weight, that is, none whatsoever. As much use as tits on Tarzan for the most folk here, so no good as an aide to your position. Heck, it is hard enough to get people to read a link in English ffs, let alone a book in French.

          I appreciate you are citing where you say you get your info from, but it is of no consequence and of little use, because it is too hard to verify, and even harder to justify.

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

      I’m not sure we’re on the same page. The point about the aliens is that if you reject claims of alien visitations, you must seriously question your acceptance of the gospel, because the gospel claim is weaker on every point.

      I don’t really understand why I should live my life according to some alien whose message is quite unclear to me rather than the gospel, for example

      I don’t propose following any alien message. However, on the point of following the message in the gospel, that’s pretty ambiguous. There are 45,000 Christian denominations and growing.

  • HematitePersuasion

    Anyone with an understanding of physics could challenge point (5). To the best of our understanding, ships that cross interstellar distances are infeasible due to the limitations of physics.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Yeah…once upon a time man powered flight was infeasible. I guess if you had asked a lot of folk a couple of hundred years ago was it feasible that a man would walk on the moon, that we would have a means to see things billion’s of light years away, and that we could measure sub atomic particles, they’d have looked on in bemusement?

      So, while interstellar space travel might be ridiculous, it might still be possible. Whether aliens have or could master it, well that falls into the same “nobody knows” category as multitudes of other stuff.

      But not everyone with an understanding of physics is challenging the idea. To suppose so is erroneous.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel

      Clearly at least some folk with a nous of physics understanding are considering the idea.

      None of which matters for the sake of argument. The OP doesn’t consider anyone with an understanding of physics here on this planet. Aliens on another planet might be aware of different physics…their own little green man physics that allows all sorts of stuff we haven’t seen or even concieved of yet. We don’t know is not an unoble position to take.

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

      To add on to Amos’s comments, think about going back in time to just the lifetime of Jules Verne. That’s just over a century ago. From x-rays, medicine, and quantum physics to computers, GPS, and cell phones, we have some magical science and technology.

      Human society just 100 years in the future will have mind-blowing technology. Add another 100,000 years, and it seems premature to rule out interstellar travel.

      • HematitePersuasion

        … my point is that we now have a conceptual framework that tells us certain things are infeasible: perpetual motion, faster-than-light-travel, energy constraints for movement and these things suggest that interstellar travel will be relatively slow, energy-intense, and very, very hard. We don’t know everything, and I’m sure we’ll discover some amazing things about quantum, dark energy and matter, and structure of the universe. But what we know NOW suggests that interstellar voyages of exploration should be classed with faeries, dragons, and unicorns.

        • InDogITrust

          Right, but if you’re going to accept the supernatural, you cannot grant super powers to God and not to the aliens.
          And in any event, the possibility that some day someone will discover some outrageous technological work-around that will allow interstellar travel is infinitely greater than the chances of anyone’s discovering magic.

        • HematitePersuasion

          … I don’t accept the supernatural, as I have no reason or evidence to do so.

        • Susan

          I don’t accept the supernatural, as I have no reason or evidence to do so.

          Now, if we could get that on a bus ad.

          Seriously, it’s that simple.

        • MNb

          That’s not the point. The point is that christians accept it and hence can’t reject interstellar voyages, fairies, dragons and unicorns either.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya left out Space Ponies…they are also interstellar don’t ya know? }8O)~

        • Ignorant Amos

          Great.

          We know interstellar travel is not supernatural though…photons are doing it all the time.

          The Voyager missions are interstellar.

          The current mission, the Voyager Interstellar Mission, was planned to explore the outermost edge of our solar system and eventually leave our sun’s sphere of influence to enter interstellar space — the space between the stars.

          So the problem we face is life sustaining interstellar travel. But what sort of life are we talking about? Not human life, some unspecified alien life. At this point, only the restriction of ones imagination comes into play.

          It seems that certain things on Earth are at present impossible, certainly impractical, but in principle at least, they are achievable.

          Rockets using nuclear fusion or antimatter propulsion could do the job, but they would have to be developed. It is theoretically possible that by warping space, a starship might travel faster than light without violating the laws of physics within its own bubble of space-time.

          Loads of other considerations need looked at?

          Will life sustaining interstellar travel be possible at lower speeds?

          Could an alien species that has a different lifespan than humans make such a journey?

          Food for thought and lot more of the same besides.

          I think the point being made here is that those that have no truck with disbelieving in fanciful gods and the like, must at least accept something that is not supernatural. Yet with that, they do struggle.

        • HematitePersuasion

          Squaring any of those methods with alien ships popping in for random kidnappings seems beyond far-fetched, but nevertheless, I cede the point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Squaring any of those methods with alien ships popping in for random kidnappings seems beyond far-fetched,…

          I totally agree with you…but not remotely as far fetched as…

          http://www.gdargaud.net/Humor/Pics/Christianity.jpg

    • MNb

      As I think both the replies of BobS and IA pretty weak – we can be reasonably sure indeed that crossing interstellar distances is impossible – here is mine.
      It’s irrelevant. Point 5 easily can be reformulated. If someone is to accept the supernatural claims of the Gospels that someone should not have any problem with some supernatural alien way to cross interstellar distances either. Hence again one should accept alien visitations first before becoming a christian.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Whether interstellar travel for human beings is impossible or not, is neither here nor there, nevertheless, there are people with an understanding of physics that are actively pursuing the endeavour.

        There are others who suggest the possibility is there in principle. If not for us humans here, certainly for aliens advanced enough, out there.

        Most scientists doubt interstellar travel because the light barrier is so difficult to break. However, to go faster than light, one must go beyond Special Relativity to General Relativity and the quantum theory. Therefore, one cannot rule out interstellar travel if an advanced civilization can attain enough energy to destabilize space and time. Perhaps only a Type III civilization can harness the Planck energy, the energy at which space and time become unstable. Various proposals have been given to exceed the light barrier (including wormholes and stretched or warped space) but all of them require energies found only in Type III galactic civilizations. On a mathematical level, ultimately, we must wait for a fully quantum mechanical theory of gravity (such as superstring theory) to answer these fundamental questions, such as whether wormholes can be created and whether they are stable enough to allow for interstellar travel. Dr. Michio Kaku

        We are debating far fetched comparisons on this thread after all, just comparing which is the more far fetched that’s all.

  • SteveK

    I think a person would first come to believe in God generally before she believes in Christianity specifically. I’m guessing the whole Christianity vs. aliens argument isn’t even relevant to most people.

    • adam

      “I think a person would first come to believe in Ganesh generally before she believes in any religion specifically.”

    • Greg G.

      I think a person would first come to believe in God generally before she believes in Christianity specifically.

      Then why are there so many Christians saying they used to be an atheist until they found Jesus? Why are there so few Christians saying they used to be a Muslim or a Hindu but they became a Christian without going through an atheist phase? Most believers stick with the religion they realize it is wrong. At that point they may go through an agnostic or deist phase.

      But that’s not what the argument is about. Believing that aliens are visiting our planet has poor evidence and it should not be believed but when comparing evidence for aliens visiting Earth compared to the evidence for Christianity, the aliens win hands down.

      • SteveK

        >> Then why are there so many Christians saying they used to be an atheist until they found Jesus?

        I don’t know the backstory of these anonymous people that you’re referencing. I tend to think that people don’t make large leaps like that unless something literally rocked their world and turned it upside down. Maybe that is what happened.

        • Greg G.

          Don’t you read the posts of other Christians who post here? Seemingly, about every other one makes that claim at some point.

          But every theist was an implicit atheist prior to becoming a theist.

        • adam

          “Seemingly, about every other one makes that claim at some point.”

          But of course:

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anonymous? Hardly. Why this past week one has been posting comments on this blog.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/response_to_an_angry_christian_2_of_2_92/#comment-2483963629

        • SteveK

          I don’t read the posts of others most of the time. I do not doubt there are people out there that don’t fit the template I was referencing. I was making a generalization and I could be wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t read the posts of others most of the time.

          In which case you made the logical fallacy of the argumentum ad ignorantiam and you ARE wrong.

          I do not doubt there are people out there that don’t fit the template I was referencing.

          That goes to the heart of the matter, there is no one size fits all cookie cutter template for conversion/de-conversion, one way or the other. Which makes the point moot.

          I was making a generalization and I could be wrong.

          Generalisations can be very dodgy, especially in cases like this, because it only takes one counter example to scupper your argument.

          That there are many Christians saying they used to be an atheist until they found Jesus and there are many Christians saying that they used to to be atheist until a traumatic event rocked their world upside down and they found Jesus is a given. Of course the nonsense idea that God and Jesus are one in the same, but separate, kind of complicates things.

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

      Curiously, apologist John Warwick Montgomery takes the opposite approach: accept Jesus first, and then God.

      But that’s not the point. The point is that if you reject alien visitations, you’ve got a very tough job justifying the much more tenuous Christian belief.

      • Ignorant Amos

        And the little people, Faeries and Leprechaun’s…don’t laugh, scoff or be condescending. A £100 million motorway was put on hold and eventually redirected to save a meeting place for such wee folk.

        A “Sacred” fairy bush in Co Clare will not after all have to be destroyed in the building of a new bypass motorway, much to the relief of those who attach superstitious beliefs to such features of the Irish landscape.

        http://www.irishtimes.com/news/fairy-bush-survives-the-motorway-planners-1.190053

        Furthermore…

        The Irish themselves, of course, reserve the right to buy into such mythmaking or deride it, as it suits them. Hence the reply W B Yeats got when he met an old peasant, in Sligo in the Twenties, and asked if he believed in fairies. “I do not,” said the man, “What do you take me for? What kind of ignorant fecker would believe in the Little People? Believe in witches and goblins and leprechauns? Go on outta that. Don’t be ridiculous. I do not believe in them. Not at all…”. There was a pause. “But they’re there,” the man concluded.

      • SteveK

        >> Curiously, apologist John Warwick Montgomery takes the opposite approach: accept Jesus first, and then God.

        To each his own, I guess.

        >>But that’s not the point. The point is that if you reject alien visitations, you’ve got a very tough job justifying the much more tenuous Christian belief.

        I don’t see it that way at all, primarily because God, by nature, is not limited in the same way an alien, by nature, is limited. A person can reject the alien visit based on the physical limitations of the super-duper-est of aliens, but accept a Godly visit without any inconsistency or contradiction.

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

          I agree: God isn’t limited at all. Indeed, “God did it” can explain absolutely anything. As a result, it is useless as an explanation. It’s never falsifiable; paradoxically, it’s too powerful an explanation.

          And we’re now back to my point, that if you reject alien visitations, you must logically reject the far less-evidenced gospel claims.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t see it that way at all, primarily because God, by nature, is not limited in the same way an alien, by nature, is limited.

          That’s very handy isn’t it? But how do you know? see Arthur C. Clarke’s third Law…

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

          A person can reject the alien visit based on the physical limitations of the super-duper-est of aliens, but accept a Godly visit without any inconsistency or contradiction.

          Nope, ya really can’t. First things first. God is a logical contradiction of the highest order. Second, what physical limitations are ya on about? Any properties or attributes you can assign to a god, I can assign to an alien I’ve invented. Or Space Ponies.

          I take it you don’t watch Star Trek?

          Q is a being who is unconstrained by, and indeed possesses power over, normal human notions of time, space, and even reality itself – he and his fellow Q are said to be omnipotent, and he is continually evasive regarding his motivations. The name “Q” also applies to all other individuals of the Q Continuum – an alternate dimension accessible to only the Q and their guests. The true nature of the realm is said to be beyond the comprehension of “lesser beings” such as humans, therefore it is shown to humans only in ways they can understand.

          Easy, isn’t it?

        • SteveK

          >> Any properties or attributes you can assign to a go d, I can assign to an alien I’ve invented. Or Space Ponies.

          All you’d be doing is referring to the same being (God) using a different name.

        • adam

          “All you’d be doing is referring to the same being (God) using a different name.”

          Yes, you say ‘God’ I say IMAGINARY…..same being…

        • Susan

          All you’d be doing is referring to the same being

          You mean the logically contradictory, imaginary one?

          Yes. I can invent logically contradictory Space Ponies just as your church can invent logically contradictory catholicyahwehjesus.

          So, what’s your point?

        • Ignorant Amos

          So you have back tracked on the comment I was countering then?

          A person can reject the alien visit based on the physical limitations of the super-duper-est of aliens, but accept a Godly visit without any inconsistency or contradiction.

          Very good.

          >> Any properties or attributes you can assign to a god, I can assign to an alien I’ve invented. Or Space Ponies.

          All you’d be doing is referring to the same being (God) using a different name.

          So you agree then that the same being (God) is invented then? Cool.

          Welcome to the club.

        • Pofarmer

          i guess I’d have to ask how, exactly, we know what the limitations of either God or Aliens is?

        • adam

          “i guess I’d have to ask how, exactly, we know what the limitations of either God or Aliens is? ”

          By the way you IMAGINE them to be, lacking any real god or aliens…

        • Greg G.

          I always think of Lord Kelvin, one of the 19th century’s preeminent physicists who advised a student to not go into the field because they all but a few little details figured out. That was a few years before Einstein and Curie brought up Relativity and nuclear radiation.

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder if Steve even realizes he’s spent all this time telling us how God cannot be examined, and then he proceeds to tell us what God’s properties are.

        • Greg G.

          But of course. WE can’t examine God but SteveK can because his God lives inside his imagination.

        • MR

          This is the great irony! =D

          “God is unknowable, but let me tell you all about him.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/768ab136b4a7aea3d7d0565a251b46f02e520a10786deebed885ff1ed37c1bc9.jpg

        • MNb

          I have heard that story being told about Max Planck, who as far as I know was not a student of Lord Kelvin.

        • Greg G.

          I remember reading it in a print magazine before the internet was a commercial product and long before I was on it. Then I saw it attributed to Kelvin on the internet about 20 years ago. I haven’t seen it nor found the right phrase to Google. I recall that the internet source was a list of sayings that turned out wrong:
          1. Bill Gates saying that nobody would need more than 640K of memory
          2. an IBM exec thinking the world demand for computers would be five
          3. a US president wondering who would ever use a telephone
          4. someone else saying he didn’t think the telephone would be useful because they had errand boys.

          I am amazed that I was able to remember this much of it as I remembered one, I thought of another but I was able to find that #3 was attributed to Rutherford B. Hayes and it is apocryphal. Now I am skeptical of them all.

        • MNb

          I heard (not read; I think it was one of my teachers when I was trained to become a teacher myself who told it) the story also well before internet. I remember the student was Max Planck because of the punch line: within twenty years he had started a revolution in physics. Wikipedia confirms my memory (not that that says too much):

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Planck

          “The Munich physics professor Philipp von Jolly advised Planck against going into physics, saying, “in this field, almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few holes.”

        • SteveK

          Ask Bob. Apparently he’s proven something with the knowledge he has of each.

        • Pofarmer

          I was responding to your comment, not anything Bob said. So, how ’bout it?

        • SteveK

          You said “we”, now apparently you want to know if “I” know these things. Yes, I know. I don’t know about you or anyone else though.

        • adam

          ” Yes, I know. I don’t know about you or anyone else though.”

          Good cause I KNOW that any ‘god’ I can imagine can beat up any ‘god’ you can imagine without effort.

        • Greg G.

          Oh, yeah? My imaginary god can kick your imaginary god’s ass, if it has an ass.

        • adam

          My imaginary god has no ass to be kicked….

          LOSER………lol

        • Greg G.

          My imaginary piss ant can whoop your imaginary god.

        • Susan

          Yes, I know.

          How do you know?

        • adam

          He’s God, of course…

        • Susan

          Let SteveK respond.

          He refuses to respond to me. So, please will EVERYBODY else ask him?

        • MR

          I thought we weren’t feeding the trolls?

        • Susan

          I thought we weren’t feeding the trolls?

          The “arguments” that SteveK is putting forth on the subject of morality are (though meat-headed and just recited in rote bullet points) precisely the arguments christians use.

          When a christian says he “knows”, we’re finally getting to the heart of things.

          It’s not troll food.

          I’ve thought a lot about the subject since I impulsively blurted out my comment to Bob.

          Greg is just having a laugh. SteveK is dead serious.

          Greg is like the fake theist who phones the Atheist Experience for fun, thinking he’s being clever.

          SteveK is a real theist on the other end of the line.

          The arguments he makes are the arguments you will find coming out of the mouths of real catholics.

          Insisting they support those arguments and following them through to their logical conclusion is what this site is supposed to be about.

          Does that make sense?

          I miss Kodie. (sigh)

        • MR

          Insisting they support those arguments and following them through to their logical conclusion is what this site is supposed to be about.

          But he doesn’t ever support his arguments, let alone follow them through to their logical conclusions. He’s not going to play by your rules and has said as much. He’s just going to sit in his corner and refuse to answer how he knows anything, refuse to defend his beliefs in any way, or make the slightest attempt to show that God or morality or his world view makes any kind of sense at all.

          Like a dog to its vomit he’s going to go right back to his strawman arguments about morality being “opinions, preferences and desire” and ignore all the research done in sociobiology, sociocultural evolution, neuroscience and the like, and refuse to incorporate any new information.

          He’s going to chant over and over, “But you can’t prove it’s not,” with his fingers in his ears, and he’s especially going to ignore everything that you, Susan, say, because frankly you terrify him with all your difficult questions that prove so devastating to his house of cards world view.

          Wash, rinse, repeat. Reset. Never learn, never adjust. Misrepresent. Sulk.

        • Susan

          All excellent points. :-(

          OK… you got me.

        • MR

          Just venting. :-)

        • Susan

          Just venting.

          Even if that were true, you’d still be right.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…everything you say is right on the money…but that said, in forcing this scenario upon him we show just how vapid his nonsense really is when it gets down to the nitty-gritty. Now, most of us have been at this Malarkey long enough to know this will always be the case with the muddled headed thinking. We have seen the standard routine ad nauseam here and elsewhere. But for those that are new to the game, sitting on the fence, or starting to doubt their faith, it could be priceless.

          The problem, as I see it, is that the holly roller only has a small number of tools in their box and they are not fit for purpose anymore. We have moved on leaps and bounds since medieval times. A sledge hammer and pick-axe are of no use to the brain surgeon to get the job done, but that’s all they have left to work with. They have no original arguments, and there are but a few theist’s who can make the old stifled ones they have got, in anyway interesting to those of us who have seen it all before ad infinitum. It does get boring, but then not engaging can get boring too.

          That’s why we get what we have to work with, theists with any sense will avoid atheist sites like the plague lest get their arse handed to them on a platter. Balloon heads like Greg, who really hasn’t got a scooby what nonsense he spouts, or those more “soofistikated feelogyions” who think they are being deep-pak chopra-esque talking a lot of nothing and trying to make it sound like it is deep mysterious something.

          I see there is another ignorant billy burbling educator to the thick atheists has just pitched up in the guise of Agabu. I can’t help wondering, is it worth any time and effort to be invested in showing up his/her asinine ramblings, or should I just go read a book…what do ya think? Who might benefit more?

        • Pofarmer

          Indeed, trying to cling to these beliefs in a modern world is hard. Most here know of my marital issues due to Catholicism. I have a 12 year old, the one with Hurlers syndrome, who has no regulator on his mouth, in general, he will say what pops into his head. Anyway. So, my wife and I had a decent talk a couple of days ago, and things were looking pretty good. Then last night at supper we were having some Angel food cake for desert, and he blurts out “I think Angels are a myth.” and of course, my wife says “I believe that Angels are real” and the 12 year old just says again “I think they’re a myth.” You could just see her becoming crestfallen. This is a kid who’s going to Mass 5 and 6 times a week. The problem here is, and we’ve had this talk, although not directly about her beliefs, but her beliefs are unjustified, and on some level she has to know it. If a belief in Angels were justified, then the believer could offer proof, but, alas, there is no better proof of Angels than Fairies or Leprechauns, or whatever else. If a believer ever really thinks about it, there has to be a huge amount of cognitive dissonance try to set in. So, they retract and just continue “believing.” The problem is, when they do this, there’s nothing to limit or temper their belief. We did have that talk, at least superficially. I mentioned the family who beleives that Yoga can lead to Hinduism. Her reply was “Well, it’s ok that they believe that.” Fine, then the problem becomes one of how much woo you’ll accept before you say enough. and it seems to me there’s always some concrete reason that folks limit their beliefs in the religious. Only about 30% of Catholics believe in transubstantiation, for instance. Most Catholics are pro-choice. The vast majority of Catholics are pro Contraception. Religious beliefs aren’t a uniform thing. The religious believer doesn’t seem to get, however, that religious beliefs vary. We see it here all the time, But religious believers tend to ignore, or emply a No True Scotsman fallacy immediately. Heck, it’s why there’s 42,000 Christian denominations and 2 new non-denominational church’s going up here in our little town of 12,000.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Coincidentally, it appears that at least a third of folk believe angel’s are real. On a television magazine programme today where they discuss topical newspaper articles they were talking about this piece that has been in a few papers the past couple of days.

          The baby saved from drowning by a mysterious voice: Is this proof ANGELS really exist?

          http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6908042/Proof-of-angels-Police-rescuers-heard-mysterious-adult-voice-begging-for-help-before-rescuing-baby-from-submerged-car.html

        • Pofarmer

          I wonder if there’s not a third of folk who believe just about anything?

        • Ignorant Amos

          They’d be the ones continually occupying the centre of this Venn diagram a suppose.

          https://lh3.ggpht.com/-3Lufulseck4/UWF6MsaAosI/AAAAAAAAEk8/T8FNhnLbUug/s1600/ZghIM4Sh.jpg

        • MR

          Somewhere between 25 and 28 percent of Americans. It’s called conservative republicanism.

        • Dys

          I remember a few months or so ago I was listening to Catholic radio on my way to work (I’m a glutton for punishment), and they were having a serious conversation about the theology behind guardian angels.

          I had a hard time trying to stop laughing. It’s just so absurd, and a telling sign that once you get past the historical fiction aspects, it’s all just myth-making.

        • Pofarmer

          Sure, it’s ridiculous, but people believe it very sincerely. Sad thing is, I had to have a talk this morning with my 12 year old about what he says about religion around his Mom and her family, and religious people in general. I told him he can say anything he wants to me, but that isn’t always true of others. How sad is that?

        • Ignorant Amos

          My grandson calls most days on his way home from school. He is only six, but is well into things science and comes in with science based library books, you can guess how proud I am?

          So the other day in he comes and came out with the fact that rainbows are made by Jesus. WTF? Now while I understand that the physics of the rainbow might well be beyond the comprehension of a 6 year old, filling his head with this alternative shite got my goat up.

          What compounded the situation was that the authority that informed him of this assertion was the school headmistress. So when I suggested an alternative, I was viewed with suspicion.

          I don’t want this confusion planted in the head of my grandson, but I have limited avenues of action. This is why religious crap should be kept out of schools period.

          Fortunately my daughter is on my side…with a non committal son-in-law as he is only nominal Christian, incidentally, he’d never heard the rainbow sign from God story from Genesis. But the fact remains, that to complain about this sort of crap will undoubtedly marginalise the boy, something we are loathed to do.

        • MNb

          “So when I suggested an alternative, I was viewed with suspicion.”
          Don’t worry too much. In exactly the same way my son told me, when he was six, that he believed in god. I answered that there is no god. He answered that there is. My son went to religious schools for 6 years.
          The simple fact that he’s aware that there might be an alternative is already enough. When he’s 12 or 13 he’ll begin to question authorities anyway, including that headmistress. That’s what my son did, that’s what Po’s sons do and it most likely turns out bad for religious goofery.
          Imagine you’re a kid. You believe that rainbows are made by Jesus. Then you learn about refraction and hence that there is an excellent natural explanation. What will be the result? That you will be suspicious of religious authorities for the rest of your life.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve already proposed that my daughter borrow and read my copy of “The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True” and pay close attention to chapter seven, “What is a Rainbow?”…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzHK12lMKOI

          …in order to imbue the right way of things to the wee boy.

        • Pofarmer

          If your Son in Law had never heard the story of the rainbow, then I’m not sure Nominal Christian even covers it. Although, I say that from a country which is completely saturated in it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For sure…by nominal I mean…

          A nominal Christian is a Christian in name only.

          https://www.crossway.org/blog/2011/08/video-what-is-a-nominal-christian/

          A lot of people in this country where their sectarian Christianity like a badge of honour. Catholic green and Protestant orange, but most haven’t opened the cover of a bible unless under duress. From old enough to walk we are fed through Sunday School, then through 2 tiers of academia, it is part of the school curriculum. But for most, it goes in one ear and out the other. But being part of one tribe or the other is what is important.

          Christian sectarian bigotry at it’s finest.

          Orange and the Green

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          Oh my father was an Ulsterman, proud Protestant was he.
          My mother was a Catholic girl, from County Cork was she.
          They were married in two churches, lived happily enough.
          Until the day that I was born and things got rather tough.

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          Baptised by father Reilly, I was rushed away by car.
          To be made a little orangeman, my father’s shining star.
          I was christened David Anthony, but still in spite of that.
          To my father I was William while my mother called me Pat.

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          With mother every Sunday to mass I’d proudly stroll.
          Then after that the orange lads would try to save my soul.
          For both sides tried to claim me, but I was smart because.
          I played the flute or played the harp, depending where I was.

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          One day my ma’s relations came round to visit me.
          Just as my father’s kinfolk were all sittin’ down to tea.
          We tried to smooth things over, but they all began to fight.
          And me being strictly neutral, I bashed everyone in sight.

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          Now my parents never could agree about my type of school.
          My learning was all done at home, that’s why I’m such a fool.
          They both passed on, god rest them, but left me caught between.
          That awful colour problem of the orange and the green.

          Oh it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          it is the biggest mix-up that you have ever seen.
          My father he was orange and my mother she was green.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqs4EbU02As

        • MNb

          Not that sad. He’ll have to learn it anyway if he wants to be socially acceptable. It’s one price to pay when you’re a social being.

        • Pofarmer

          Another note. These folks have constructed a fairly complete alternative reality, and are determined to live in it. Which would be O.K. if they didn’t expect us to live in it, too.

        • MNb

          “a fairly complete alternative reality”
          That’s what dualism is about, isn’t it?

        • Pofarmer

          I think of dualism as more about consciousness and soul. Perhaps it goes further.

        • adam

          What a BASTARD of an ‘angel’ to purposely allow the baby’s mother to die.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s how these things work…everyone else on the bus has to die before the single survivor becomes a miracle.

        • MNb

          “So, my wife and I had a decent talk a couple of days ago, and things were looking pretty good.”
          That’s good to read. Now I hope that you didn’t interfere when your son told her that he doesn’t believe in angels. Please realize how afraid she is that she will lose everything.

        • Pofarmer

          Did not say a word, other than to get him to be quiet. I’m still trying to decide whether to apologize on his behalf tonight.

        • adam

          Maybe:

          “I am sorry my son is telling you the truth….”

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think that is gonna be my best approach. Thing is, I removed guilt early on from the toolkit to enforce belief. Just recently I told her that fear was not an appropriate tool. I think she is realizing that her toolkit is empty for enforcing her faith on anybody. Without fear and guilt, you’ve lost your stick, so you have to point out the various good sides to religion and religious thinking, which are varied and not exclusive, or you have to argue on evidence and logic, and that’s where religious thinking loses.

        • adam

          Of course.

          You post reminded me of this type of approach:

          I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. Winston Churchill

        • Ignorant Amos

          brilliant!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ya don’t kill people over it do ya?…am being facetious about it…but hey who has been murdered, when people a know has…am drunk…leave me be…anno ya have problems Po…mate….forget it….

        • MR

          No, I understand. I’m not advocating not engaging even the boneheads, but on individual bases there comes a time [edit:] after extended discourse where you have to wonder if anyone really is benefiting, like when Greg repeatedly derails conversations with a joke or SteveK hunkers down into non-falsifiability and refuses to even respond to questions.

          Steve was quite useful for a while, like when he tried to justify tall as being objective, but I think he’s learned he doesn’t have what it takes to sit at the adult’s table and has retreated to the schoolyard taunt of “you can’t prove it’s not true, so neener-neener. Specifically with regards to Susan, he just completely ignores her. Why? Because she asks him to define his terms and she asks questions! It’s like kryptonite to Steve. I think more of us should hold his feet to the fire. Make him define his terms, make him answer the tough questions. Expose his arguments for what they are.

          Once in a while we get the thoughtful ones, they’ll come in all bravado, but when you start to drill down, they don’t try to bluff their way out. Sadly, they usually just end up going silent. Those are the ones I miss. Those are the ones I want to revisit three months, a year from now and ask, have you thought about this? What do you think now?

        • Susan

          I think more of us should hold his feet to the fire. Make him define his terms, make him answer the tough questions. Expose his arguments for what they are.

          Yes.

          they don’t try to bluff their way out. Sadly, they usually just end up going silent.

          I find that as frustrating as the SteveKs and the Gregs who stick around.

          Those are the ones I want to revisit three months, a year from now and ask, have you thought about this? What do you think now?

          Me too.

        • MNb

          “I find that as frustrating as the SteveKs and the Gregs who stick around.”
          Not me. I take it as an admission that their position is untenable. Hence I don’t care what they think after three months or a year.

        • Ignorant Amos

          What do you think now?

          I can’t and won’t disagree with any of that. I guess we are stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the minds of the theist. It is what it is am afraid.

          Deploying smoke before retreating to Croydon, brushing themselves down before resetting buttons, then returning to the battlefield later and pretending it never happened they way it panned out, while everyone can look and see the war wounds, is all par for the course with these people.

          When they ignore a question, or employ smoke and mirrors as subterfuge and deflection from the intended point of comments, they show their weakness. Either through ignorance of the subject, or inability to make a coherent debate point, the result is the same, they are exposed.

          Anyway, I suppose it is down to the individuals to decide the cost/benefit in continuing dialogue with certain types. Kodie has done just that with Greg, unfortunately, we all suffer from that decision in the long run. I’m close on her heels mind you, though he seems to have vamoosed all by himself. SteveK is soon to be joining him in my sin bin.

        • Greg G.

          It is like the Atheist Experience where the show is better when theists call in. One can ignore whomever one wants. A hard-head like SteveK doesn’t get an explanation the first time, or even the first ten times, so you can repeat it different ways until it sinks in and you take away a better way to make the case. Then when an intelligent theist comes with a similar argument, you have better tools to work with. One needs sparring partners to prepare for the big fight.

        • Pofarmer

          Kodie left again? I haven’t been around enough. Dangit.

        • MNb

          How do you know? I understand what “to know” in science means. But you’re not talking science. So also: what do you mean with “to know”?
          Not answering will allow Susan and me to assume that to you “to know” means “whatever makes StevoK’s underbelly feel warm and cozy”.

        • Pofarmer

          I was more or less using the “royal we.” But, if we must be precise, then how do you know?

        • Susan

          I was more or less using the “royal we”.

          I thought it was a straightforward question.

          How can “we know” that “Steve knows”?

          Steve stating “I know” is not the same as showing how we could know how or if Steve knows.

          If he can’t show us that he knows, then he fails the “justified” part of “justified true belief”, and can’t claim it as knowledge.

          A very basic question. Not royal. Steve was just diverting because he doesn’t have an answer for you.

          So, he intentionally ignored your question and deflected the problem over to you with the feeblest of red herrings.

          Let the record show that he can’t answer your question.

        • MR

          So, he intentionally ignored your question and deflected the problem over to you with the feeblest of red herrings.

          Whoa! didn’t see that one coming! Phht.

          How can “we know” that “Steve knows”?

          So this is an interesting question that I think is illustrated nicely in a video I just saw not half an hour ago and now can’t find! of people of various religious traditions talking about how they know their religious tradition is true. Of course they can’t all be right, and the obvious conclusion is that someone simply telling you they know is never a reason to believe. Moreover, when someone refuses to provide an explanation for why they believe something, how much more ridiculous is it to trust them! You’re telling me you know, but you refuse to tell me how you know? Where, except religion, would this be an acceptable argument?

        • Susan

          Where, except religion, would this be an acceptable argument?

          In ideological thinking in general.

          Religion is just an excellent example of it and puts on a clinic on how to manipulate our ideological tendencies and use them to its own benefit.

          It’s anything but good thinking.

          IMHO.

        • SteveK

          I read, listened, discussed and pondered over these ideas throughout the years.

        • Pofarmer

          And?

        • SteveK

          And that’s how I came to know.

        • adam

          “And that’s how I came to know.”

          So though self delusion obviously….

        • Pofarmer

          Right. Do you ever wonder why you’re not persuasive here?

        • SteveK

          I don’t.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wanker then?

        • MNb

          This is one of your best comments ever. My compliments for your honesty.

        • Susan

          And that’s how I came to know.

          What do you know and on what basis do you claim it as knowledge?

          “I’ve thought a lot about it.” is not an answer.

          You’ve never actually cracked open a philosophy book, have you? If you had, you’d know that that response is inadequate.

          Edit: You have to show your work. This is basic.

        • Greg G.

          He uses cargo cult logic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Know what? What is it ya claim to to know ya ignorant fuckwit? Please…throw us a bone fer fecks sake..give us a wee bit of a clue ya moron….oh enlightened one.

        • SteveK

          Read the original question and you’ll know…ya ignorant idiot.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Greg G.

          Knowing requires some way to justify the idea. What is your justification for knowing? A thought popping into your head out of the blue nor a warm feeling in your belly are not justifiable as knowledge.

        • Greg G.

          God is only limited by the believer’s imagination and his nature is whatever is imagined. The absence of evidence for a god is not evidence for god. What you take for evidence for God is worse than the evidence for aliens. If you accept the evidence for God you have no reason to reject aliens visiting Earth.

        • SteveK

          I agree—from an absolute or objective standpoint. But not from mine.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/the_bible_a_pro_slavery_free_for_all/#comment-2483561229

        • Greg G.

          It can be shown objectively that a person lacks a right arm.

          It cannot be shown objectively that you have a god. The main difficulty is that god must be defined as immune from evidence lest it be proven by evidence that said god doesn’t exist. You cannot distinguish what you imagine from objective reality.

        • MNb

          A supernatural entity like your god interacting with our natural reality is incoherent by definitions, because the only means and procedures to interact with our natural reality also belong to that natural reality.
          Concrete: “Godly” talks about the supernatural domain; “visit” about natural reality. That’s as incoherent as you can get it. Thanks for demonstrating the exact opposite of what you wanted to demonstrate.

    • MNb

      Your guess is probably correct. However that’s not the point. The point is that it should be relevant to christians.

    • adam

      I think a person would first come to believe in Ganesh generally before she believes in Christianity specifically.

  • Agabu

    Interesting article Bob albeit weak and sloppy.
    1. Recentn-ness of Events
    “To understand the gospel claims, we must peer back across 2000 years of history.” Actually to understand gospel claims just open your Bible and read it today.

    2. Number of Sources
    “There were only four gospels, and those aren’t even independent accounts.”
    The simple fact is there are four primary sources for what we know of the details of the life of Jesus Christ irrespective of whether the Gospels relied on each other or were written independently.

    3. Period of Oral History
    “the Gospels were written decades after the claimed events.”
    The Gospels were written within a generation after Jesus’s extraordinary itinerant ministry while those who saw and heard Jesus were still very much around.

    4. Reliability of Source
    “With Peter and Paul or some other Christian patriarch we have 2000-year-old stories, and ones containing miracles at that. Why argue that they’re accurate?” Because the Gospels include a record of Jesus Christ’s birth, life and resurrection (Matthew); the good news about Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Mark); an orderly account about all the things Jesus did from the time He began His work until His going back to heaven (Luke); a witness to Jesus Christ who saw, heard and touched Him (John).

    5. Natural vs. Supernatural
    “the Gospel story requires you to believe in supernatural beings and supernatural events. We have plenty of claims but no scientific consensus that even one is valid.”
    The Gospels are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. Everything about Christ including supernatural events like His miracles are CONSISTENT with that central claim of who He’s claimed to be. All that is needed to discern the validity of the miracles in the Gospels isn’t scientific consensus but sober consideration.

    6. Cultural Gulf
    “the gospel story is from a culture long ago and far away, and the Greek gospels are already one culture removed from the actual events.” The Gospel story happened in a Jewish context and was communicated in Greek. This shows its cross cultural appeal. From generation to generation the preaching of the gospel has persuaded people from every conceivable nation or people groups with diverse cultural backgrounds easily bridging the cultural gulf. Even now, there are Christian representatives from every cultural group on earth.

    7. Contradictions
    “the four gospel accounts are trying to document the same events. Important contradictions, such as whether Jesus was crucified after the Passover meal (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or before (John), are devastating to the claim that the gospels are history.”
    The Gospels document the person and work of Jesus Christ from different vantage points and thus have variations in what they elaborate on. Alleged contradictions are an exaggeration. In all four Gospels Jesus was actually crucified after the Passover Meal He had with His disciples.

    8. Quality of Evidence
    “The argument that the gospel writers were eyewitnesses or close to them is a flimsy tradition.”
    The argument that the Gospels came from reliable witnesses is sturdy. The accounts were written within a generation of Jesus living while many people who had seen and heard Him were still around. The sheer number of available early Greek manuscripts (more than 5600 greater than any other documents from antiquity) provides external evidence of the reliability of the New Testament writings.

    9. Criterion of Embarrasment
    “the supernatural elements in the gospel story are easily explained by supposing that it evolved as it was passed along.” The supernatural elements in the Gospels are BETTER explained by simply accepting the accounts on their terms. The myth of an evolving gospel story is a baseless hypothesis. There are no competing gospel accounts without the supernatural elements let alone a legend from that epoch among Christian communities denying the miraculous elements of the Gospels. Even pseudo gospels acknowledge a miracle working Jesus. Furthermore, Christians experienced more than ridicule for their faith, they were maimed, tortured, fed to beasts, lit up in flames, lost their homes and possessions, a slew of other barbarisms, and ultimately killed. UFO abductees may face verbal ridicule (which is unfortunate), but that is the sum of their suffering often.

    10. Christianity is a different kind of claim, a far less likely kind of claim.
    “If the Gospel stories are credible, shouldn’t alien stories be far more credible?”
    Short answer : No. The Gospel stories are credible. Alien stories often involve isolated individuals with different experiences with no historical rhyme or reason. The Gospel stories involve different individuals testifying to the same person, Jesus Christ. They are completely unified in saying that He lived, died and rose again in an identifiable cultural setting and historical milieu while connecting to the past (the promised Messiah of Old Testament Scripture) and to the future (the preaching of His person and work to subsequent generations and Second Coming to judge the world). Christianity isn’t a different kind of claim. It is a worldview whose claims are made in the world of ordinary human experience and history. People saw and heard a regular person doing ordinary as well as extraordinary things. There was an intersection of the natural and supernatural that didn’t go against reason and sound judgment but of course baffled onlookers. When any miracle was performed in nature’s realm, it obeyed her laws. Miraculous wine was ordinarily imbibed with the potential to intoxicate, miraculous conception led to pregnancy and the labour pains and messiness that come with delivering any baby, inspired books still go through all the ordinary processes of textual corruption, and miraculous bread was eaten, digested and eventually exiting the body in the usual way.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Interesting article Bob albeit weak and sloppy.

      Spooooooiiinnnng!!!

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

      Actually to understand gospel claims just open your Bible and read it today.

      Sure, that—or you could actually respond to my point.

      The Gospels were written within a generation after Jesus’s extraordinary itinerant ministry while those who saw and heard Jesus were still very much around.

      40+ years is a lo-o-o-ong time for legend to develop. As for the idea that witnesses would be around to correct a flawed gospel story, I puncture that Naysayer Hypothesis here.

      Because the Gospels include a record of Jesus Christ’s birth, life and resurrection (Matthew)…

      Yes, they do. They have a story that’s inconceivably hard to swallow. And that’s the problem.

      The Gospels are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. Everything about Christ including supernatural events like His miracles are CONSISTENT with that central claim of who He’s claimed to be.

      Everything about Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is consistent with her actually visiting a marvelous new land. But so what? Oz is fiction, and Jesus is legend. Neither one is worth believing.

      All that is needed to discern the validity of the miracles in the Gospels isn’t scientific consensus but sober consideration.

      Do you have any actual arguments? Or is it nothing more than, “Well, just read the danged books, and you’ll see!”?

      The Gospel story happened in a Jewish context and was communicated in Greek.

      Bingo. The story already saw one translation before words even were put on paper. And its downhill from there.

      The Gospels document the person and work of Jesus Christ from different vantage points and thus have variations in what they elaborate on. Alleged contradictions are an exaggeration. In all four Gospels Jesus was actually crucified after the Passover Meal He had with His disciples.

      You need to read the Good Book, my friend. It opens eyes. It might even open yours.

      John 20:13-14: “When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.”

      Oops.

      The argument that the Gospels came from reliable witnesses is sturdy.

      Oh? Who wrote the gospels, and how do we know?

      I’ve researched this question; have you?

      The sheer number of available early Greek manuscripts (more than 5600 greater than any other documents from antiquity) provides external evidence of the reliability of the New Testament writings.

      Rebutted here.

      The myth of an evolving gospel story is a baseless hypothesis.

      Why baseless? Show me that this was impossible. And then admit to me that the supernatural version of events is inherently very unlikely.

      There are no competing gospel accounts without the supernatural elements

      Are you saying what I think you’re saying? That you demand contemporary evidence that argues against the supernatural claims in the gospels? That’s my stupid argument #9b in my list of 25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid.

      Even pseudo gospels acknowledge a miracle working Jesus.

      Gee, how surprising. The two dozen or so noncanonical gospels are Christian or some variation of Christian.

      Furthermore, Christians experienced more than ridicule for their faith, they were maimed, tortured, fed to beasts, lit up in flames, lost their homes and possessions, a slew of other barbarisms, and ultimately killed.

      Who Would Die for a Lie? Yep, that’s been dismissed as well.

      The Gospel stories are credible.

      They’re supernatural. They’re already starting with an enormous deficit. You say they’re true? I’m listening, but you’d better have a tsunami of great evidence to overcome the inherent problems with making supernatural claims.

      Alien stories often involve isolated individuals with different experiences with no historical rhyme or reason. The Gospel stories involve different individuals testifying to the same person, Jesus Christ.

      The 4 gospel authors differ from each other in significant ways. You could find dozens of people claiming consistent UFO encounters.

      People saw and heard a regular person doing ordinary as well as extraordinary things.

      Wow—how gullible are you? And how gullible do you imagine me to be to accept these arguments? Would you accept miracle stories of this sort from someone in another religion? If not, why waste my time with them?

      Next time, search for my replies to the common arguments. Chances are, I’ve already addressed them, and you should respond to those posts.

      • Agabu

        “Sure, that—or you could actually respond to my point.”
        Point responded to. You’re just suffering from a headcase of chronological snobbery. Might as well call the events of the first world war largely legend because it’s not soooo recent anymore no matter the documentation. After all, it so last century. You’re rationale goes something like, “Ancient history, legend.” “Recent history, legitimate.” (Wagging finger of shame)

        “40+ years is a lo-o-o-ong time for legend to develop. As for the idea that witnesses would be around to correct a flawed gospel story”
        Oh man!. Another case of chronological snobbery. “100 years is a loooong time for legend to develop. Ta-da! The first world war is now legend.” Yeah right. You gotta do better than that Bob.

        “They have a story that’s inconceivably hard to swallow. And that’s the problem.”
        This is nothing but a COMPLAINT, not an argument. And that’s YOUR PROBLEM! Quit your complaining and get to really reasoning.

        “Everything about Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is consistent with her actually visiting a marvelous new land. But so what? Oz is fiction, and Jesus is legend.”
        Don’t care about the Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t claim to be history. It’s fiction designed to entertain. Your comparison is useless. It’s an apples to oranges comparison. Once again, disappointingly poor reasoning.

        “Do you have any actual arguments? Or is it nothing more than, “Well, just read the danged books, and you’ll see!”?”
        No. Did my response fly over your head somehow? Or do I have to dumb it down for you?

        “The story already saw one translation before words even were put on paper. And its downhill from there.”
        I read about the American revolution in Spanish. One translation from English and it was all downhill from there. Who knows if this thing even happened? I hear there’s even a French translation. Could it get any more worse? More complaining, really Bob?

        “You need to read the Good Book, my friend. It opens eyes. It might even open yours. John 20:13-14: “When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.” Oops.”
        I’ve read the Good Book, and it’s opened my eyes. You should too. Right out of the gate, you’ve already made a misquote. The scene above isn’t John 20:13-14 but John 19:13-14. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and consider it an honest mistake. Something you should do with the Bible. In any case, doesn’t say what you think it says read in context. The events of this one day cover John 13 -19. That’s pretty lengthy. So what we have here with you is reading a text out of context and then used as a pretext. (Wagging finger of shame).

        “Are you saying what I think you’re saying? That you demand contemporary evidence that argues against the supernatural claims in the gospels? That’s my stupid argument #9b in my list of 25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid.”
        I’m not demanding contemporary evidence that argues against the supernatural claims in the gospels. Just saying.

        ” The two dozen or so noncanonical gospels are Christian or some variation of Christian.”
        Nope! They’re Gnostic concoctions.

        “Who Would Die for a Lie? Yep, that’s been dismissed as well.”
        Not what I’m arguing here. Just pointing out the difference between alien abductees form of persecution and that of the early Christians. There’s no correlation there. But I guess you missed that smart guy.

        “They’re supernatural. They’re already starting with an enormous deficit. You say they’re true? I’m listening, but you’d better have a tsunami of great evidence to overcome the inherent problems with making supernatural claims.”
        Aaaah…presuppositions. They always do a number on the mind don’t they? Things just gotta fit into a neat little box that excludes the supernatural because WE don’t have the supernatural today. Allegedly. That, and another freaking complaint. Is that all you do man? Complain? “They’re supernatural.” He says. “Yes they are.” Says I. Get over it.

        “The 4 gospel authors differ from each other in significant ways. You could find dozens of people claiming consistent UFO encounters.”
        Do they now? This is just saying not citing. There’s no real argument here. Dozens of consistent UFO encounters. So what? Another apples to oranges comparison. Sorry gotta do better than that Bob.
        Sidebar: funny how UFO encounters don’t seem to be a fixation elsewhere in places like Africa, Asia, Central America, Most of Europe, the Middle East, South America, the Pacific region and the North and South poles. It’s like pretty much the rest of whole wide world. But O wait, there are Christians in virtually all these freaking places reading the same Bible and believing in the same Jesus. Except maybe in Antarctica or the North pole. Those places are like, almost deserted. Who knows, maybe I’ll take a trip there some time, then I’ll count as the Christian there. Unless someone else beat me to it. Dang! But hey, I’ll take it.

        “Wow—how gullible are you? And how gullible do you imagine me to be to accept these arguments? Would you accept miracle stories of this sort from someone in another religion? If not, why waste my time with them?”
        Not gullible enough to accept your flimsy arguments, which are choke full of whining and complaining about the supernatural, misquoting biblical texts without regard for context, irrational apples to oranges comparisons, intellectual hand waving that amounts to nothing more than a case of chronological snobbery, and Oh yeah, a self absorbed approach to dealing with the issues. But I gather you’re gullible enough to accept your arguments are all that. If other religions had the sort of miracle stories we have in the Bible, I would give them the benefit of the doubt and carefully consider there claims to see if they are so. If so, I’d believe them. If not, I wouldn’t. The problem is, just don’t have what you find in the Good Book. So that settles that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Might as well call the events of the first world war largely legend because it’s not soooo recent anymore no matter the documentation. After all, it so last century. You’re rationale goes something like, “Ancient history, legend.” “Recent history, legitimate.” (Wagging finger of shame)

          Don’t be a knob. The first world war is 3 generations ago in first century Palestine terms.

          But why go that far back? I know of legends in theatre’s of operation I actually took part in ffs.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t care about the Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t claim to be history. It’s fiction designed to entertain. Your comparison is useless. It’s an apples to oranges comparison. Once again, disappointingly poor reasoning.

          Okay…reasonably fair point….let’s think Mormon or Scientology in that case…Ron L. Hubbard had less than a generation for his yarn to take a grip. You are too dumb for words by your own reasoning.

        • MNb

          Not that fair. The Gospels don’t claim to be history either – certainly not in our modern way we use the word.

        • Greg G.

          John 20:30-31 and John 21:24-25 seem to be suggesting that it is historical and Luke 1:1-4 takes his sources to be eyewitnesses.

        • MNb

          Like I wrote: “not in our modern way we use the word.” Those Bible quote are not exactly Herodotus, are they?

          http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodotus/herodotus01.htm

        • Ignorant Amos

          No. Did my response fly over your head somehow? Or do I have to dumb it down for you?

          There’s a novel thought…could it get any dumber do ya think? You certainly couldn’t I don’t think.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I read about the American revolution in Spanish. One translation from English and it was all downhill from there. Who knows if this thing even happened? I hear there’s even a French translation. Could it get any more worse?

          How accurate was the Spanish version? If it was a direct translation, why would ya expect it to differ much? There are four gospels that are accepted, more than fifty not, the four in the NT that are accepted are contrary and don’t depict the same events in the same way….could it get any worse? Ya gotta do better ya sorry twat.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sidebar: funny how UFO encounters don’t seem to be a fixation elsewhere in places like Africa, Asia, Central America, Most of Europe, the Middle East, South America, the Pacific region and the North and South poles. It’s like pretty much the rest of whole wide world. But O wait, there are Christians in virtually all these freaking places reading the same Bible and believing in the same Jesus. Except maybe in Antarctica or the North pole. Those places are like, almost deserted. Who knows, maybe I’ll take a trip there some time, then I’ll count as the Christian there. Unless someone else beat me to it. Dang! But hey, I’ll take it.

          Google is your friend ya moron.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFO_sightings_in_South_Africa

          http://www.ufo-hunters.com/sightings/asia

          http://www.ufoevidence.org/Cases/CaseView.asp?section=MiddleEast

          Ah fuck it…I have a football (soccer) match to attend to and beer to drink. No more time for simpletons-R-us responding so I’ll leave ya for now with…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reported_UFO_sightings

        • MNb

          “Another case of chronological snobbery.”
          No.
          Just a fact.
          Confirmed by psychological research.
          Actually you are the one who suffers from chronological snobbery. You’re saying “it’s written 2000 years ago, so we should accept it” – something you don’t apply to contemporary legends, which developed much faster than 40 years.
          But then again you already have shown how willing your are to accuse others of what you’re guilty of yourself.

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

          This thread has very quickly devolved into “You gotta do better” and insult. If that’s all you’ve got, just let me know and we can save some time.

          You’re just suffering from a headcase of chronological snobbery.

          I’m happy to accept things from the distant past as likely true, provided I have sufficient evidence.

          If you had a video of a claimed miracle that happened yesterday, I’d be skeptical. Give me a video of Jesus doing miracles, and I’ll also be skeptical. See? I’m an equal-opportunity doubter.

          What’s that? You say you don’t have a video of Jesus doing miracles but only have far-less compelling evidence? Well then perhaps you’re beginning to see the problem.

          You’re rationale goes something like, “Ancient history, legend.” “Recent history, legitimate.” (Wagging finger of shame)

          Think things through before you click that tempting “Post” button. Since you know that I accept that Alexander conquered known Asia and Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, you know that your caricature is false. Try again.

          Another case of chronological snobbery. “100 years is a loooong time for legend to develop. Ta-da! The first world war is now legend.” Yeah right. You gotta do better than that Bob.

          ?? Respond to what I actually said; otherwise, this’ll be a short conversation. I never said, “All purported claims from history are legend.” Try again.

          Don’t care about the Wizard of Oz. It doesn’t claim to be history. It’s fiction designed to entertain.

          Yes, it is fiction. What does it say to you that the gospel story has some elements of fiction?

          Once again, disappointingly poor reasoning.

          I’ll have a hard time sleeping tonight knowing I’ve disappointed you yet again.

          So what we have here with you is reading a text out of context and then used as a pretext. (Wagging finger of shame).

          Love the rhyme. But this does nothing to explain the problem. Try again.

          I’m not demanding contemporary evidence that argues against the supernatural claims in the gospels.

          Then explain what your complaint was.

          Aaaah…presuppositions. They always do a number on the mind don’t they? Things just gotta fit into a neat little box that excludes the supernatural because WE don’t have the supernatural today. Allegedly.

          Yes, I do start with the assumption that supernatural claims are wrong. But I’ll listen to arguments to the contrary. I’m sure you also start with such a bias against the supernatural when it’s a new claim outside your worldview.

          funny how UFO encounters don’t seem to be a fixation elsewhere in places like Africa, Asia, Central America, Most of Europe, the Middle East, South America, the Pacific region and the North and South poles.

          You’ve uncovered a culture-specific belief. Can we learn anything from this?

          O wait, there are Christians in virtually all these freaking places reading the same Bible and believing in the same Jesus.

          And Muslim cultures are making new Muslims. Ditto Hindus, Buddhists, and all the rest.

        • Agabu

          For the time being, I will apologize if my approach was insulting to you personally Bob. My concern is the issues raised and nothing else. So, I will stick with that. Once again, sorry if I have offended you.

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

          A conversation focused on just the arguments would be helpful, thanks.

        • Myna Alexanderson

          I was kind of waiting for a reflection on the question of Sathya Sai Baba’s bi-location and the milk drinking deities.

          As to objects that fly and unable to be unidentified, I have a very good friend who sticks a pin in locations of anomalous sightings on a huge wall map in his office. It’s kind of a thing with him. A hobby, of sorts. Anyway, sightings do happen across the globe and are reported fairly regularly. I have no idea what any of that signifies, however, and I’m not about to speculate. Just wanted to note that sightings aren’t culture-specific. What I do think is culture-specific, though, are the stories and/or drama surrounding them.

        • Agabu

          “I’m happy to accept things from the distant past as likely true, provided I have sufficient evidence.”
          What constitutes sufficient evidence to you for historical claims in the distant past?

          “I accept that Alexander conquered known Asia and Julius Caesar conquered Gaul”
          Ok. Based on what? And how do the gospels not meet that criteria?

          I never said, “All purported claims from history are legend.”
          Never said you did. Just showing the implications of your arguments to any historical claims.

          “Yes, I do start with the assumption that supernatural claims are wrong. But I’ll listen to arguments to the contrary. I’m sure you also start with such a bias against the supernatural when it’s a new claim outside your worldview.”
          Why are supernatural claims wrong Bob? Please explain.

          From my end the assumption that supernatural claims are wrong is the problem. Why? Because it has already decided that it can’t be right? It’s a no win situation. You can tell me you’ll listen to arguments to the contrary but there’s still the profoundly problematic fact that you believe they are prima facie wrong. This contention disqualifies them from the get go with no hope of winning you over. This is the problem with skepticism. It doesn’t play fair. Claims of anything whether extraordinary or ordinary are all better given the benefit of the doubt of being true until proven otherwise. This is kind of like the approach in the legal system where an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Your approach turns it the other way around. If someone claims that they were blind and now they see, after being prayed for by a bunch of people. My initial reaction of course would be amazement not necessarily disbelief or dismissal. The person’s claims would merit consideration. I would presume his or her story to be true but of course not leave it at that. If I look into the matter, and others corroborate his or her story that he or she was in fact blind and others corroborate having prayed for him or her and the restoration of sight happened at the prayer meeting; then based on that evidence a miracle did in fact legitimately happen. On the other hand, if in the course of investigating his or her story irregularities emerge. He or she was blind alright but actually had a surgical procedure after being prayed for later on, then this isn’t miracle just good old fashioned medical treatment. I can accept that God worked through the surgeons, but not that it’s a miracle. I presumed his or her story to be true from the beginning like the innocent until proven guilty approach. The point isn’t that I just trust him or her without evidence. The point is I accept his or her story at face value based on his or her testimony as initial evidence. What comes later will either confirm or deny his or her story. There’s no reason to put an enormous burden of proof on him except asking simple questions to confirm the story and following the trail that story provides. There’s no, I can’t believe it because prayer doesn’t work or the supernatural claims are wrong mentalities. There’s just good old fashioned sound judgment presuming truth until proven otherwise. Sheer skepticism presumes lying from the get go, like saying you’re guilty until you prove you’re actually innocent. I’m sorry, but that is outrageous and unfair.

          “You’ve uncovered a culture-specific belief. Can we learn anything from this?”
          I don’t know what we can learn from this. But one thing is clear, these aliens that abduct people seem to overwhelmingly discriminate against people in other cultures.

          “And Muslim cultures are making new Muslims. Ditto Hindus, Buddhists, and all the rest.”
          Yes they are. What’s your point? I thought we were talking about Aliens vs Christianity.

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

          This conversation was more productive, thanks.

          What constitutes sufficient evidence to you for historical claims in the distant past?

          I’ve written a couple of posts lately about what Christians and atheists would need to change their minds.

          To your question: I’d need the consensus of historians that the claim is historically accurate.

          Ok. Based on what? And how do the gospels not meet that criteria?

          Historians reject the supernatural.

          Bob: I never said, “All purported claims from history are legend.”

          Agabu: Never said you did. Just showing the implications of your arguments to any historical claims.

          You said, “You’re rationale goes something like, “Ancient history, legend.” “Recent history, legitimate.” (Wagging finger of shame).” Remember?

          I’m happy to be shown the implications of my position/claims/arguments. Show me, being very clear to give a complete argument.

          Why are supernatural claims wrong Bob? Please explain.

          Be careful. I never said that supernatural claims are wrong. You seem to have a habit of being sloppy in stating my position.

          I said that my initial assumption is that a supernatural claim is wrong. Further, I said that I was confident that you feel the same way about the supernatural (about claims outside of your worldview).

          From my end the assumption that supernatural claims are wrong is the problem.

          Never said that.

          This contention disqualifies them from the get go with no hope of winning you over. This is the problem with skepticism. It doesn’t play fair.

          You get yourself into a tizzy over a problem that you invented.

          Claims of anything whether extraordinary or ordinary are all better given the benefit of the doubt of being true until proven otherwise.

          There was a news story a few years back of Hindu statues that drank milk supernaturally. Sathya Sai Baba was said to be able to be in 2 places at once and to raise the dead. You assume that these are true first before you begin your evaluation of the evidence? That surprises me.

          This is kind of like the approach in the legal system where an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

          It doesn’t work that way within science. I find the legal system a poor metaphor and have written several posts about that.

          If someone claims that they were blind and now they see, after being prayed for by a bunch of people. My initial reaction of course would be amazement not necessarily disbelief or dismissal.

          Really? Wrap this story in Scientology or Hinduism or New Age or Wicca where that supernatural belief is given the credit. You still going to begin with the assumption that, yes, it really was a Wicca spell that restored the person’s sight?

          Sheer skepticism presumes lying from the get go

          Nope. It’s a little annoying when you mischaracterize my position over and over. Perhaps a more humble approach: ask me when you don’t know and restate my position very carefully.

          “You’ve uncovered a culture-specific belief. Can we learn anything from this?”

          I don’t know what we can learn from this. But one thing is clear, these aliens that abduct people seem to overwhelmingly discriminate against people in other cultures.

          UFO abductees tend to be Western? Maybe aliens are part of Western culture rather than being part of reality. Same for Christians tending to come from Christian culture.

      • MNb

        “All that is needed to discern the validity of the miracles in the Gospels isn’t scientific consensus but sober consideration.”
        The fun thing is of course that David Hume already did so.