Christianity’s Unbroken Record of Failure

Show one scientific truth about nature or new technology that was discovered first in the pages of the Bible.

Show one disease eliminated from the earth or one missing limb restored through prayer.

Show one person who can preach the gospel in every human language.

Show one Bible prophecy or interesting prediction by a Christian prophet that is accepted as fulfilled by non-Christians.

Show one supernatural event in the Bible that is accepted by historians.

Show one earthquake or volcano that was halted by an incantation or holy relic.

Show one tsunami or plague whose damage was undone by divine action.

Show any supernatural claim within Christianity that is accepted by non-Christians.

An unbroken record of failure

The Bible has stories of people miraculously cured of disease, but so might a book of fairy tales. The Bible has no discussion of how to avoid germs, no advice to boil water, no sanitation rules for the placement of latrines. It doesn’t even have a recipe for soap.

Jesus could have eliminated plague and smallpox and saved the lives of billions, but instead he withers a fig tree and does less curing of disease in his career than a typical doctor does today. The Bible makes clear that every believer will be able to perform the works of Jesus and more, and yet no medical miracle claims are validated by science.

Some in the early days of the Pentecostal movement claimed the Holy Spirit gave missionaries fluency in any language, though that claim is a little too testable. The “gift of tongues” today usually refers to a gibberish utterance in no human language.

God hasn’t guided his most cherished creation past problems like war, genocide, slavery, prejudice, pogroms, overpopulation, and environmental disasters. Nor has he helped undo the damage from natural disasters. Faith has never moved a mountain, though the Bible says that it will. And prayer doesn’t do anything measurable.

Christian response

Lots of worldviews can encourage you to do good things, and Christianity is one of them. For this post, I’m focused only on the supernatural claims. The Christian may respond with tangible here-and-now contributions of Christianity to society.

  • Majestic cathedrals were built just for Christianity. Show one grand building built by science. How about the Royal Society? Or Scientific American magazine. Or Bell Labs. (And keep in mind that science and engineering put those physical buildings up, not faith.)
  • The Sistine Chapel ceiling is a masterpiece inspired by Christianity. Show one great work of art inspired by science. How about the Large Hadron Collider? Or the Hubble space telescope. Or the Eiffel Tower. Astronomy has given us mind-expanding works of art—photos of a distant galaxy, earthrise from the moon, and the earth caught in Saturn’s rings—that Christianity couldn’t begin to imagine. And it’s not like Christianity has a monopoly on religious art. Consider the ancient Indian, Chinese, Mesoamerican, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art inspired by their religions (see the Egyptian stone relief above).
  • Christianity inspired Michelangelo’s art. Show a Michelangelo of science. How about Richard Feynman? Or Albert Einstein. Or Stephen Hawking.

The Christian may respond to demands for evidence that God doesn’t perform like a monkey on a leash. However, what we see is nicely explained by God not performing at all.

I compare the predictions of theism against reality in Sean Carroll Slaps Down Fine Tuning Argument.

“Religious truth” bears the same resemblance to “truth”
that “homeopathic medicine” bears to “medicine,”
“creation science” bears to “science,”
or “Fox News” bears to “news.”
— commenter Richard S. Russell

Inspiration credit: the core of this post came from Richard S. Russell.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/3/14.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

"Paul literally saw Jesus himself and spoke with Jesus.According to Paul's letters, he had a vision of Jesus, which is ..."

So How Does an ATHEIST Explain the ...
Do you claim to know that if Jesus existed, was he gay?

Scholarly Consensus for the Resurrection? ...
I don't think you, David, or any other human person alive right now can know or does know that Jesus was not gay.

Scholarly Consensus for the Resurrection? ...
"GW1: I cannot know that you did so or did not do so."So Jesus COULD have been gay.....

Scholarly Consensus for the Resurrection? ...
POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Herald Newman

    Show one person who can preach the gospel in every human language.

    There are probably some Pentecostals who believe they can, but isn’t it rather amazing how this “miracle” doesn’t seem to happen anymore.. It’s almost like they made up that part of the story. Or maybe it’s not part of God’s holy plan anymore… There are so many ad hoc reason the Christian can use.

    The Bible makes clear that every believer will be able to perform the works of Jesus and more, and yet no medical miracle claims are validated by science.

    Not sure what you mean here Bob. Science could never “validate” a miracle, and surely you already know this. At best science would accept the phenomenon, but it could never say that an actual miracle had taken place. Science only deals with natural explanations.

    • Lark62

      The point is nothing has ever happened anywhere anytime that does not have a natural explanation.

      For example, we are figuring out the natural explanation for why lizards can regrow limbs. We have surgeries and transplants to medically reattach severed limbs.

      But there is no human who has regrown a limb by prayer.

      • Herald Newman

        The point is nothing has ever happened anywhere anytime that does not have a natural explanation.

        Prove it! Regardless of whether I agree with you, you’ve making an assertion that I don’t know how to justify.

        But there is no human who has regrown a limb by prayer.

        Okay… Agreed.

        • RichardSRussell

          There is an oft-cited problem in philosophy called the “white crow problem”. It is asserted that there are no white crows, only black ones. How does one prove it? Can’t be done definitively unless you can examine all the crows that have ever existed anywhere in the world at any point in time.

          So what’s usually done is to advance the assertion as a rebuttable presumption and ask for disconfirming evidence. A single counter-example will serve to falsify the proposition. So far, no white crows. Also, no limbs demonstrably regrown by prayer.

          So what’s reasonable to conclude?

        • Herald Newman

          So what’s reasonable to conclude?

          Agreed, our null hypothesis (that all crows are black) prevails. But the null hypothesis is an assumption, and shouldn’t generally be strongly asserted.

          EDIT: Further, we lack any methodology to actually show that the null hypothesis of philosophical naturalism is false. Whether I agree with philosophical naturalism or not, asserting if it is a fact is hard to justify.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yup. And I think that’s consistent with the definition of atheism as simply “without” (a-) “god” (-theos-) “belief” (-ism). That not only IS but SHOULD BE the null hypothesis, pending arrival of some convincing evidence for anything else.

        • Michael Neville
        • RichardSRussell

          Cool beans! Where was this taken?

        • Michael Neville

          I have no idea. I did a google image search for “white crow” and that was one of the choices.

        • RichardSRussell

          Well, following your lead, I too did a google search on the subject and came up with both photos and articles confirming that, indeed, white crows do exist. All we needed was one counter-example to disprove the hypothesis, and now we have several, so it’s definitively refuted.

          Still waiting on the counter-example that will disprove the hypothesis that prayer can’t regrow arms or legs.

        • MR

          That’s not a crow! That’s Rachel Dolezal.

        • Jim Jones

          Or the black swan problem/theory.

        • Lark62

          I also cannot prove my assertion that leprechauns have never existed at any time. If you have an issue with my assertion, if you want to make a positive assertion that leprechauns exist, show me evidence of one leprechaun.

          Likewise, my assertion is that supernatural explanations do not exist. If you have an issue with my assertion, if you want to make a positive assertion that supernatural explanations exist, show me evidence of one supernatural explanation.

      • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

        There have been plenty of observed phenomena for which we have no natural explanation. This does not, however, mean that there is an unnatural explanation. Science isn’t finished yet – we cannot explain everything we see, nor do we know what there is that we have not seen yet. E.g. we propose a nebulous concept like “dark matter” as a provisional explanation for certain unexpected observations involving gravity at large scales. But not knowing what exactly is going on doesn’t mean that it’s a miracle.

        “God” makes no predictions, nor is it testable. It is cognitive noise, providing no answers at all.

        The point is nothing has ever happened anywhere anytime that does not have a natural explanation.

        I would say instead that of all the explanations we have come up with, that is, all models which make predictions and are testable, are natural.

        Saying, for example, “My mother had terminal cancer, but then it went away. It must have been a miracle of God!” does not provide an explanation. One might just as easily say that the remission was caused by a witch’s spell, or a glitch in the Matrix, or an unknown mutation, or something in the water. None are repeatable, nor testable, nor useful, nor informative.

        Edit: Duh. Models have to be testable (that is, they make predictions) and the observation are verifiable. Sorry for the senior moment.

        • Lark62

          Yep. We agree, but you said it better. Natural explanations include those explanations we haven’t discovered yet. Reality isn’t dependent on human awareness.

    • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

      If someone could walk on water, for instance, under testable and controlled conditions, there is no reason scientific verification couldn’t be made. You seem to be confusing science with methodological naturalism.

      • Herald Newman

        Science is methodological naturalism. What are you talking about?

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          It is only a prevailing view of scientists. Methodological naturalism is not identical with science itself. I gave an example of where a miracle can, in theory, be scientifically verified. The assumption is that only “natural” events can be verified. If this happened, that would be proven false.

        • Herald Newman

          We could verify the phenomena occurs, and rule out things like obvious trickery, but science could never verify an actual “miracle” (a word I hate to use because it tends to be poorly defined. For this discussion I will define miracle to mean an event with supernatural origins), or ever say that there cannot be a natural explanation.

          If we never find the cause of said “miracle”, how do know that the event is actually a miracle?

          Perhaps we’re using different definitions of “miracle”?

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Well, that’s the difficulty I have too with not only “miracle” and “supernatural” but even “natural”-what do they mean? If there were an event with no known natural cause, it’s fair to say “I don’t know” and leave it at that. However, let’s say that such events only occurred if certain prayers were said, or this was only done by people of specific religions. That seems like better evidence of their beliefs.

          As to what a miracle is, most people define it something like you do, but that brings us back to what is “supernatural” and “natural” at all? Many times I’ve seen “supernatural” defined as just “something that has no natural explanation”, and now we’ve made a circle.

        • TheNuszAbides

          ah, your view of “natural” is rather like Sam Harris’s view of “atheist” – a term that shouldn’t even be needed, let alone quibbled over.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I’m not saying it isn’t needed or shouldn’t be quibbled over. Just that it is hard to pin down.

        • TheNuszAbides

          fair enough. it is interesting that two individuals who identify as atheist can pedantically disagree on the technical definition (I continue to prefer the more inclusive usage because to the extent that “I’m-‘just’-an-agnostic”s are repelled by “strong” atheist ‘purists’ [and vice versa], they (a) practically give cover to at least the most apathetic theists, and (b) perpetuate this pedantic segregation from those with whom they could be pooling resources in support against religious encroachment in politics etc.).

          it’s some kind of funhouse-mirror reflection of how two (thousand!) Xians can disagree with each other on what makes a Xian a Xian. I’ve had a Catholic react to my use of “Christian” as a generic term, insisting that it wasn’t an appropriate label for Catholics, and a variety of evangelicals say technically the same thing, but of course she and they were expressing very different sentiments – to the latter group, being labeled “Christian” was of crucial significance, while to that Catholic woman it was seen as an annoying mark of cluelessness.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I’ve moved to the more standard atheist definition (at least it’s standard for philosophy, the dictionary and non-atheists usage), that is, belief that there is no God. Agnostics just can get repelled. I don’t think we need to get everyone onboard. Lots of groups are “Atheists, agnostics, etc.” anyway so they can still be inclusive.

          From what I’ve seen, no one can actually agree on what’s a “true Christian”. Catholics have their view of course. Evangelicals often deny Catholics are Christians at all. I go for Bertrand Russell’s view, that it’s a person who believes Jesus was either God or “the best and wisest of men”. Beyond that it doesn’t matter to me.

      • Joe

        Why would that necessarily be a miracle?

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          It wouldn’t be necessarily, but the possibility at least would be confirmed.

        • Joe

          How? If somebody is walking on water, there’s a reason why it’s happening. If there’s a reason, it’s not a miracle.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          So… miracle means “an event with no reason for it”?

        • Joe

          I don’t know what the word means. You’re the one talking about miracles.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I didn’t actually use the word in the comment you replied to. Anyway, let me put it this way-such an observation would tell us events like those many religions allege do happen, at least in some cases.

        • Joe

          And that there’s nothing really remarkable about them.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          If they’re rare and unexplained, that is still remarkable.

        • Pofarmer

          Rare and unexplained things happen literally all the time.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Is that right? Well, they can be remarkable too.

        • Joe

          Yes, but not miraculous.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          What is a miracle? You didn’t know what the word meant earlier. By many definitions this would qualify.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Show any supernatural claim within Christianity that is accepted by non-Christians.

    Don’t most Muslims believe that Jesus was magically transported to heaven?

    • Michael Neville

      Jesus is a Muslim prophet. According to the Quran both he and Elijah were taken to Heaven, along with Mohammed.

      • Herald Newman

        But isn’t Muhammad buried in a tomb in Medina?

        • Michael Neville

          You’re right. I misremembered.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          He was taken to heaven but came back and died naturally, so goes the story in the Quran.

        • Herald Newman

          Ah, the flying horse story.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Indeed.

      • Lerk!

        I don’t know about the Quran, but the Bible had two transportations to Heaven (3 if you count Jesus). Elijah, and before that, Enoch. I think the Jews actually list 8 people, but they aren’t all in the Christian Bible.
        Enoch actually has his own book, but even though it’s directly quoted in the book of Jude, silly canon compilers didn’t include it in the Christian Bible. Dunno why not… just because it explains all about the Watchers and clarifies who those confusing “sons of God” who had children with the “daughters of men” in Genesis were?

    • Lark62

      Hmmm. Perhaps God could magically transport a few people today, just as a show of good faith.

      • TheApe

        You mean like the rapture? God seems to be having trouble pinpointing a good date for that. Just ask Harold Camping.

        • Lark62

          True. But also like the Vaughn Meador comedy album The First Family with JFK impersonations (from way back in the olden days).

          A reporter asks: “Mr President, when will we send a man to the moon.”
          “JFK” – “As soon as Senator Goldwater wants to go.”

        • MR

          Poor guy died over his beliefs…, but who would die for a lie? He must have been raptured and faked his death! Checkmate atheists!

        • TheNuszAbides

          it needs to be a surprise to pack that extra ‘oomph’.

      • Jim Jones

        Or someone could fly off on a winged horse.

    • Ambaa

      But Islam is a related religion. They believe many of the same claims as Christianity because they are from the same source, worship the same God, and are sister religions. I wouldn’t use them as an example.

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

      Mohammed visited heaven on a winged horse. I don’t know about Jesus.

      What I meant was supernatural claims pretty much universally accepted.

      • Doubting Thomas

        I was just being nit picky due to the wording.

        But just for our edification, I looked it up and, according to wiki “Most Muslims believe Jesus was not crucified, but was raised bodily to heaven by God…”

  • guerillasurgeon

    With the prevalence of halfway decent cell phone cameras, you’d think that more miracles would be recorded not fewer. Or for that matter, un-blurry photographs of flying saucers or Bigfoot. It’s still not happening.

    • Herald Newman

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        They didn’t even need Photoshop. People were fooled with photos of cardboard “saucers” thrown up into the air, or before that just paper fairies. In neither case there alteration of the actual photo.

  • igotbanned999

    Show any supernatural claim within Christianity that is accepted by non-Christians.

    OT stuff shared by Jews and Muslims…

  • carbonUnit

    Lovely set of Show Me‘s. (Are you sure you aren’t from Missouri??)

    Show one Bible prophecy or interesting prediction by a Christian prophet that is accepted as fulfilled by non-Christians.

    My Significant Other would argue that prophecies in Daniel and Revelation have been fulfilled, for example that the capture of the Pope in 1798. (Just discovered Historicist interpretations of the Book of Revelation in Wikipedia, interesting summation.)

    My feeling is that this is just fitting patterns in the noise of history against vague biblical prophecies. It’s like holding a prism up to white light and finding a predicted color. (Noise contains all frequencies.)

    • MR

      Same silliness as is behind Nostradamus predicting the JFK assassination and any and every conspiracy out there. The art of weaving together a narrative by connecting anything and everything by loose and vague connections.

  • alverant

    Inspiring something pretty doesn’t make it true.

  • alverant

    “Show one person who can preach the gospel in every human language.”
    Does Klingon count?

    • Michael Neville

      Only if Quenya counts.

    • carbonUnit

      He said human, not humanoid…

    • Greg G.

      Acts 2:6 says that the preaching doesn’t need to be done in all languages for it to be understood in the listener’s language.

      Acts 2:4-6 (NRSV)
      4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

      5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

      Maybe a devout Jewish Klingon could hear the preaching in Klingon, unless heaven is only over this planet.

      PS: Or if the Klingon Empire establishes a nation on this planet.

  • carbonUnit

    Astronomy has given us mind-expanding works of art—photos of a distant galaxy, earthrise from the moon, and the earth caught in Saturn’s rings—that Christianity couldn’t begin to imagine.

    Christianity totally fails to describe the cosmos.

    • http://webpages.charter.net/silkroad/ kermit

      Pre-science descriptions of bacterial contamination or a heliocentric solar system (or the nature of planets!) would have been a strong clue that the biblical writers at least had a link to some sort of information source. Instead, the myths show no information not available to early iron age goatherds and their handful of literate neighbors.

      • Michael Neville

        The Biblical writers didn’t have all the information available to their literate neighbors. The Book of Kings was written during the Babylonian Captivity c. 560 BCE. Contemporary Babylonians and Egyptians had approximated π to 22/7, yet the Hebrew priests didn’t understand the concept of π when they wrote Kings

    • james warren

      It actually does. Not in scientific language but in metaphorical and mythical language.

      • Greg G.

        Only if you understand the science and write the metaphor into it. Otherwise, we could look for metaphors for quantum computers and unlimited power generation.

        • james warren

          “Super brains”?

      • epeeist

        Not in scientific language but in metaphorical and mythical language.

        In which case so does each and every other cosmogony that we have invented. Christianity is just one amongst many others.

        • james warren

          I absolutely agree.
          And I am also aware that many scientists and researchers use metaphor and myth to clarify and illuminate their own theories. Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Loren Eisley, Gregory Bateson, etc, all come to mind.
          The world’s faiths have a foundational notion that the divine is unknowable, infinite and is beyond human description and understanding.

        • Greg G.

          I could have earned a doctorate in physics by claiming my answers weren’t wrong, they are metaphors. You just have to search for the correct answer in it.

        • james warren

          Here’s an essay from the Economist that’s titled “The Impossibility of Being Literal”:

          https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/11/metaphors

        • adam

          “The world’s faiths have a foundational notion that the divine is
          unknowable, infinite and is beyond human description and understanding.”

          Of course, but then why call it divine?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5f13c9a6994d545cc03dc045bf1d796f3f47635db60b7beabd2bae91a593fab4.jpg

        • james warren

          Simply because it is foundational in religion to refer to the divine as “unknowable” and “indescribable.”

        • Greg G.

          It is foundational in religion that the divine be indistinguishable from the imaginary. A reasonable explanation for that is that the divine is imaginary.

        • james warren

          Paul once described God as something in which “we live and breathe and have our being.”
          This is not the God of supernatural theism of today’s Christianity.

          It is a description of a God that is both immanent and transcendent–not a God who dwells outside the universe and dips in occasionally to perform some ostentatious miracle.

          It infuses the cosmos.

          I agree that it does spring from the imagination of one who seems to have had some experience that communicated to him in some major way.

          A scientific theory is also something imagined before experimentation begins. In ancient cultures, I would guess that experimentation of the divine happens every moment one is alive.

        • adam

          “Paul once described God as something in which “we live and breathe and have our being.”
          This is not the God of supernatural theism of today’s Christianity.”

          How it not?

          “It is a description of a God that is both immanent and transcendent”

          I can give you a description of Sherlock Holmes.
          Both IMAGINARY beings.

          “It infuses the cosmos.”
          An evidenceless claim.

          “A scientific theory is also something imagined before experimentation begins.”
          Nope, the data is not imagined, a scientific theory is DERIVED from the data, not IMAGINED, you are thinking religion, not science.

          ” I would guess that experimentation of the divine happens every moment one is alive.”
          Guessing is why we have religion at all.

          Because the facts couldnt support the claims.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/75f6018d11b7534565e1a271187120582baef1ebe1da0dc5c353b6e7ba36dab5.jpg

        • james warren

          You seem to be more rational & logical than intuitive and emotional…

          Since the Enlightenment we have been taught that unless something is factually correct then it is not true.

          And that’s okay.

          That means to me that any posts I make describing my thinking and beliefs will be rejected a priory.

          Facts and faith are two different things.
          “Jesus was a man” is, to me, a statement of FACT.
          “Jesus was the Savior of the World” is a statement of FAITH.

          The word “faith” as Jesus used it actually means trust.
          For me it has to do with “letting the mystery be.”
          There is NOTHING I say, think or do that I can claim is absolutely correct.
          Nor can I ever prove what I say is absolutely correct.

          I don’t always get there, but I strive to be less arrogant and more humble.

        • Greg G.

          Paul once described God as something in which “we live and breathe and have our being.”
          This is not the God of supernatural theism of today’s Christianity.

          I doubt Paul said it. The quote is from Acts 17:28 and Acts is mostly fiction. The quote actually comes from Cretica by Epimenides (6th century BC), Cretan philosopher: “in him we live and move and have our being” so you are correct that it is not even ancient Christianity.

          I think that the idea that space is equal and opposite to the energy that makes up the matter of the universe is plenty ostentatious, and it can be derived mathematically, too, which puts it way ahead of ancient guesses

          A scientific theory is also something imagined before experimentation begins.

          That would be a scientific hypothesis. A scientific Theory is potentially falsifiable but it has passed extensive testing.

        • james warren

          “Scientists once concluded that _______________. Now we know better.”

        • Greg G.

          Science is provisional, always open to change as new information is received. Scientists once thought the Earth was a sphere. Now we know that Earth is an oblate spheroid, but a sphere is closer to an oblate spheroid than to a flat Earth, which was the belief of ancient religions.

        • james warren

          Everything is provisional. “All that is solid melts into air,” observed Marx.

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

          Not sure where you’re going with this. You have another source of knowledge about the world besides science or some application of the scientific method?

        • james warren

          Yes. Poetry, art, love, metaphor, paradox, music–all just as important as logic, rationality or the cerebral.

        • Greg G.

          BTW, Epimenides was disagreeing with the Cretans who thought Zeus was mortal.

          Epimenides is also quoted in:

          Titus 1:12 (NRSV)12 It was one of them, their very own prophet, who said,

          “Cretans are always liars, vicious brutes, lazy gluttons.”

          That is one of my favorite Bible verses. Epimenides was probably not intending to be ironic.

        • james warren

          An audience listening to Paul and Barnabas preach concluded that after Paui ordered a crippled man to stand up, they were both gods:

          They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.

          –Acts 14:11-1

        • Greg G.

          Seven verses later, Paul got stoned by some Jews. One day you’re the biggest fish in the pond and the next day, you’re an alligator turd.

        • james warren

          I can totally relate.

          “Some days you eat the bear and other days the bear eats you.”

        • Greg G.

          Acts 14:15 (NRSV)15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

          Compare to:

          Now if there be such a person among you, mind, I do not say that there is, to him I may fairly reply: My friend, I am a man, and like other men, a creature of flesh and blood, and not ‘of wood or stone,’ as Homer says.
            Plato, Apology of Socrates, from The Dialogues of Plato, Volume 2 [Benjamin Jowett translation]

          It’s like Luke was using a scroll of quotations to write narrative around in this part of Acts.

        • adam

          Of course to protect it from exposure of the truth.

        • james warren

          For me, truth is what illuminates the conflict between opposed ideologies.

          Neils Bohr, the famous atomic physicist, once observed:

          “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

        • adam

          “For me, truth is what illuminates the conflict between opposed ideologies.”

          For me truth is:

          truth Merrriam Webster

          n.
          Conformity to fact or actuality.

          “But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”
          Yet, religion offers no profound truth.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e6eceefda06b08605b3653301b5e246ee7fbd6ce2a594a4e6a0d18e41ce10f5.jpg

        • james warren

          There is a God and he exists.
          Christ was resurrected three days after he died.
          Jesus performed miracles.

          All these are profound truths of Christianity.

          I don’t think they “really happened” but I see them as profoundly true.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t think Kate Upton is really my girlfriend but, in my fantasies, I see it as profoundly true.

        • james warren

          You probably mean to say you are attracted to her [media image].

          Only by trying to discover what a biblical passage meant to its original writer and the listeners/readers who heard/read it can I begin to apply its lesson to the modern world I live in.

          Since the Bible is by and large a repository of universal themes, this is not difficult to do.

        • Kodie

          What does being a repository of universal themes have to do with anything? We’re all a repository of universal themes. An old book about people who don’t know shit and amplify their superstitious beliefs is not really a good guide for living. I don’t need this old book to tell me how to be a person. I was born a person and I have a particular animal behavior. Maybe you just don’t think enough about sociology to understand what I’m talking about, having bogged yourself down with biblical themes instead.

        • james warren

          Supernatural or natural, it all depends on what those beliefs are.

          You are mind-reading, assuming and guessing at my motives. Just be accountable and come right out and ask me if I have bogged down myself with biblical themes and what those themes are.

        • Kodie

          I’m not making a guess, I’m responding to what you wrote.

        • james warren

          You clearly posted that I probably do not think enough about sociology and–based on that guess–you have concluded that I will not understand what you are saying.

          I still await your definition of the “biblical themes” you are talking about that are “bogging me down.”

        • Kodie

          You think god exists and the bible is a relevant guidebook for life. You don’t think any of it really happened but you do, because of the things you say.

        • james warren

          You are assuming a lot here.

          To me the Bible is a human product and has a complex blend of different & contradictory oral traditions, theologies, traditions, metaphors, legends and myths.

          I believe that some parts of the book go back to real historical events so in that sense, some of it is based on history.

          I don’t believe the Christian God of supernatural theism exists.

          Instead of guessing, just ask me specific questions.

        • Greg G.

          I believe that some parts of the book go back to real historical events so in that sense, some of it is based on history.

          With the solar event of tomorrow in mind, one such story that may go back to a historical event is the story of Samson and Delilah. The name “Samson” is similar to the Hebrew word for “sun” and “Delilah” sounds like the word for “night”. Sun gods tend to be described as being hairy and Samson’s power came from his hair. So the story sounds like a fable of night trying to take control of the day. But some speculate that there was an eclipse which caused everybody to run to the temple as if night had conquered the day. Many may have gone to the roof to watch the event and caused it to collapse on the people inside. Perhaps people got the cheap eye protection from Amazon and went blind so the blindness may have been assigned to Samson.

          Records that predate the Hebrews refer to the Habiru. Archaeology shows that the Hebrews were never in Egypt in large numbers, that there was never an Exodus with a million people living in the Sinai for forty years, and there was never a great revolution in culture around the time the Hebrews were supposed to have conquered the Canaanites but there are sites that have similar cultures but some have pig bones and some do not, which is an indication that the Hebrews were Canaanites with a different religion. So they appear to have invented a history from the historical records of those around them and adopted the name “Habiru”, with some transliteration.

          John 5:2 mentions that the Pool of Bethesda had five porches. That has been shown to be true through archaeology. John 18:13 says that Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Ananus, which is quite plausible. But most of the history of the New Testament seems to come from Josephus.

        • Kodie

          You still think Christianity has some kind of power or predominance that you think the rest of us should pay attention to. It’s silly.

        • james warren

          I just like setting people up on blind dates with Jesus.

          People [including Christians] live in a rational and literal world.

          I am not trying to make anyone “wrong.” I am offering information and based on that information, you should make your own best choice.

          I have said over and over and over again that I can never believe I am absolutely right about anything. Nor could I ever prove I am right.

          After all, I’m trying to talk about ancient history here.

          “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
          L.P. Hartley

        • Kodie

          That makes no fucking sense.

        • epeeist

          I don’t think they “really happened”

          Then they do not correspond to the facts, hence the propositions are false.

        • james warren

          My experience is that the “factually correct” is not the only way to express truth.

        • epeeist

          My experience is that the “factually correct” is not the only way to express truth.

          Well if you are going to use your own definition of truth then and ignore the work of philosophers over the millennia then discussion with you is going to be problematic.

        • james warren

          There are many reputable scientists and researchers who use metaphoric truths to explain their theories.

          Gregory Bateson, Francisco Varela, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and Loren Eisley come to mind.

        • epeeist

          There are many reputable scientists and researchers who use metaphoric truths to explain their theories.

          And yet you provide no references to where these scientists use “metaphoric truths”.

          To be blunt, I don’t think you have a clue when it comes to theories of truth. You could always prove me wrong of course…

        • james warren

          Gregory Bateson:
          “Rigor alone is paralytic death, but imagination alone is insanity.”

          Francisco Varela:
          “The relations that define a system as a unity, and determine the dynamics of interaction and transformations which it may undergo as such a unity constitute the organization of the machine.”

          Albert Einstein:
          “God does not play dice with the universe.”

          Niels Bohr:
          “When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.”

          Loren Eisley:
          “To have dragons one must have change; that is the first principle of dragon lore.”

        • epeeist

          Your examples add meaning, but are not true.

          To use the Einstein example, is there an actual god refusing to play dice with the universe? Let us put it to the Aristotle test:

          To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.

          So is there an actual god refusing to play dice with the universe? Of course not. In other words, if taken at face value the statement is false. If taken as metaphor for the completeness or otherwise of quantum mechanics (which is what the sentence refers to) then they are meaningful but are not to be taken as true or false.

        • james warren

          Was the tearing of the temple curtain when Jesus died a factually correct incident? Of course not. If seen in a literal way the incident is false. If taken as a metaphor the text reveals a profound truth [I won’t bore you with the symbolism].

          “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.”
          –Niels Bohr

        • MNb

          Nope. They use metaphors to clarify their scientific truths. That’s not nearly the same. My favourite is this one.

          Einstein: Quantum Mechanical probabilism is wrong, because God doesn’t play dice.
          Bohr: Einstein, don’t tell God what to do and what not to do!

          If you understand what QM is about you totally get this little exchange of metaphors.
          If you don’t understand, are an apologist and want to jump the scientific bandwagon it you might call both religious and would be almost totally wrong.

        • james warren

          I agree. That is part of what I am saying. Metaphors help clarify reality.

        • al kimeea

          so, how does a Great Celestial Bully and part-time zombie playing party tricks clarify reality?

        • james warren

          “Great Celestial Bully and part-time zombie” are interpretations.
          There are many others.

          I prefer Psalm 82–which to me is the most important collection of verses in the Bible.

        • al kimeea

          Zo, how does:

          82:1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

          82:2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

          82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

          82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

          82:5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

          82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

          82:7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

          82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

          clarify reality?

          “Great Celestial Bully and part-time zombie” are metaphors, snarky yet accurate, given the contents of the BuyBull. Metaphors are useful that way as descriptors of the “THING” at hand.

          The snake metaphor describes a circular “THING” made of benzene. What knowledge can be derived from this?

        • Greg G.

          82:1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

          What happened to “there is no god besides me”?

        • al kimeea

          There is a God and he exists.
          Christ was resurrected three days after he died.
          Jesus performed miracles.

          What knowledge or great insight can be gleaned from these profound truths?

        • james warren

          “IT” exists in my view.
          Not “He.” “IT.”
          It’s what drives the cosmos–the “beating heart” of the universe.
          In other words, SOMETHING is going on down under.
          But it is beyond words and human understanding.

          No one, anytime or anywhere causes dead people to rise up from their grave. Period.
          I believe in the resurrection but it has nothing to do with Jesus’ body.

          Jesus did healing but he did not cure.

        • al kimeea

          There is a God and he exists

          Interesting Freudian feminine undergarment you’re wearing there.

          “IT” exists in my view.
          Not “He.” “IT.”

          It’s IT now is it? So you’re a proponent of Amorphous Blobism. Either Blobism or The Bully is a maniacal clown, which kinda fits Yahweh anyway.

          Anyhoo, show how this “THING” is behind all the other things we have learned that actually do clarify reality.

        • epeeist

          And I am also aware that many scientists and researchers use metaphor and myth to clarify and illuminate their own theories.

          Metaphor yes, in that it can help to explain things for people without the necessary background to understand, say, tensor calculus in general relativity.

          Not too sure about myth though, I have never come across scientist who uses myth to explain scientific theories.

        • james warren

          A mystic or mythologist has to start from the topic of actual language [as anthropologists often do].

          Language is not the ultimate reality; it is a way of approaching that reality.

          Many rational, logical Westerners should learn this….

          Most of us are still caught in language and the belief that if something cannot be described then it does not exist.

          Language is a vehicle to the sacred, but it is not a hard and sure path. It is like a river which operates its own force and carries us where it will, It’s not the golden throne at the top of the hill where we discover the sacred. It is in an uncertain and chaotic river journey where the varieties of the sacred are fluid and sometimes dangerous. But for those who take the plunge, they become profoundly meaningful.

          Right now I am fearing that my post is failing, simply because I do not have the language to post it.

          We are all like a colony of ants crawling across an oil painting. We can sense a succession of colors and textures, but we are unaware of the entire painting. It’s the poets and mystics who articulate the whole gestalt and scientific confirmations are in the wings ready to find bits within the mythic whole that can stand logical and rational scrutiny.

          But the immense framework that supports the nuggets of rationality is still there like the ancient scientific truth of “ether” that permeates everything in space.

        • adam

          “Right now I am fearing that my post is failing, simply because I do not have the language to post it.”

          That is because you are not explaining reality but emotional responses.

          ” It’s the poets and mystics who articulate the whole gestalt and
          scientific confirmations are in the wings ready to find bits within the
          mythic whole that can stand logical and rational scrutiny.”

          Poetry and mystics describe EMOTIONS and EMOTIONAL reactions, not Truths.

        • james warren

          Anyone who tries to divorce him/herself from the emotional side of life is committing a serious epistemological error in my opinion.

          We all have good intentions. We seldom are able to recognize and accept the EFFECTS of our good intentions. This applies to science as well as faith concerns of religion.

          The tongue can’t taste itself and the eye can’t see itself [unless one uses a mirror]. It stands to reason that it is difficult to look within oneself and see with a critical, objective eye.

          Perhaps that is why Socrates preached “Know thyself.” That applies to scientists and pastors.

        • Greg G.

          The tongue can’t taste itself and the eye can’t see itself [unless one uses a mirror]. It stands to reason that it is difficult to look within oneself and see with a critical, objective eye.

          The brain is the only organ that can think about itself, though. One can’t comprehensively contemplate emotions one has never felt nor can one comprehensively contemplate an emotion in the thralls of it. Even subjective experiences are best analyzed objectively.

        • james warren

          Approaching the world with rationality and logic results in an arid landscape.

          Everything is metaphor–even the word “literally.”

          Most of the time we are unconscious that nearly every word that comes out of our mouths has made some kind of jump from older, concrete meanings to the ones we use today.

          Simple language change is a fact. Yesterday’s metaphors become so common that today we don’t even process them as metaphors at all.

          Studies in “cognitive bias” have shown that being irrational is a good thing. We don’t always make decisions by carefully weighing up the facts. But we often make better decisions as a result.

          I believe the mind can’t know itself. Neurological frontiers are still being crossed.

          “Logic cannot comprehend love; so much the worse for logic.”
          –Theologian N.T. Wright

        • Greg G.

          Approaching the world with rationality and logic results in an arid landscape.

          Baloney. I can appreciate the beauty of a sunset, a bouquet of flowers, an ancient statue, or a beautiful painting. But the sunset is even more magnificent when the refractions and shadows are understood, the complexity is greater considering that as beautiful as it is, it may be a terrible storm on the morning side. The bouquet is enhance by contemplating the insects the flowers attracts and how the mix of colors and textures affect my perception. I see an ancient statue and think about the environment it was sculpted in, the people who were involved, how it was received, and the geology that made the stone. I am fascinated by paintings not only by the overall effect, but by how the techniques creates the overall effect, the history of how the painter composed the painting, which to include and what was omitted, the paint, and so on.

          Approaching the world without logic and rationality is so shallow as to be nearly meaningless.

          Simple language change is a fact. Yesterday’s metaphors become so common that today we don’t even process them as metaphors at all.

          The metaphors are baby steps.

          Studies in “cognitive bias” have shown that being irrational is a good thing. We don’t always make decisions by carefully weighing up the facts. But we often make better decisions as a result.

          I think our sub-conscious brains work as analog computers while our conscious thought is capable of critical thought. There is room for both. Paying attention to the the subconscious is fine when the information is hard to quantify and qualify. When I go to a restaurant, I pay attention to what makes my mouth water as I read the menu.

          I believe the mind can’t know itself. Neurological frontiers are still being crossed.

          Much of the basic brain chemistry has been sussed out for years. It is a matter of how trillions of the neurons and signal channels work together that is more difficult since observing it in the necessary detail would kill it.

          “Logic cannot comprehend love; so much the worse for logic.”
          –Theologian N.T. Wright

          Love without logic is wonderful. Love with logic is even better.

        • james warren

          In love one might say “You are the most beautiful person I have ever known.”
          Logically, one has to say “No. I’m afraid you’re not.”
          Love is a red, red rose.

        • Greg G.

          There is a difference between a perfect relationship and a great relationship. A perfect relationship can withstand complete honesty. I think perfect relationships are mythical.

          Logically, one can privately maintain an opinion that does not have to be expressed, in order to maintain a great relationship.

        • james warren

          “You are the perfect wife for me. Of course, rationally you are far from perfect. I can appreciate your good looks but you fall short of being the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Logically the halves of your face are slightly mismatched and your eyebrows have more hair on them that is average. But this fact just means I will love you always–I hope. Your less-than-attractive attributes show the amazing power of our DNA and our genetic allotment and variety.”

        • Kodie

          You are just objectifying women with your comment. On the drive into work this morning, they were talking about 22% of women were unsatisfied with the man they married, which is more than the men who were dissatisfied with the women they married (I think they said something like 12%). I am not looking up the study.

        • Kodie

          My other big insight for the day was “physics” in response to a young person expressing “I don’t know how that happened.” God doesn’t really care about this petty bullshit, it had to have been physically possible. If you ignore how things actually work, then mundane coincidences will continue to easily impress the ignorant.

        • Kodie

          My deep moment of today was the idea that people angle for popularity more than they enjoy spending time together, and it’s sort of the same thing. I didn’t analyze it, it was one of those Wonder Years moments when I “realized” something. I mean, speaking of the bible or whatever, it’s sort of just a form of art, it is people expressing their perspective. On The Wonder Years, Kevin as an adult* would express realizations in every episode, and supposedly his life would never be the same. I can’t verify that no themes repeated themselves to double his impression of his own perceptions, but goddammit, fucker, people have impressions of life and social interactions. The bible isn’t even unique, first, or interesting in this aspect. The whole known body of literature since the bible has done nothing but refine and modernize human impressions of social interaction. Emotions, to get to your actual point, are not always accurate. People feel feelings, but sometimes let their feelings rule them. That’s what I know about emotions.

          *Fred Savage can’t be as old as he is, but he is cool.

        • Greg G.

          Language is also a vehicle to the purely imaginary. How do you make the distinction between sacred and imaginary?

          One man’s sacred cow is another man’s bacon cheeseburger which would be forbidden by Jainism for the meats, Hinduism for the beef, Islam for the bacon, and by Judaism for the bacon and for being a cheeseburger from “seething a kid in its mother’s milk” (Deuteronomy 14:21b).

        • james warren

          From what is factually correct and what is metaphorically or mythically true.

        • Kodie

          You are pseudo-deep. You think everyone doesn’t know everything you don’t know, and that applying some bullshit to the problem, we’ll be impressed. Sorry, you’re just a moron.

        • james warren

          Your assumptions, mind-reading and guessing at my motives are interesting.

          It would make more sense to me to figure out what you think and feel and then just be honest and accountable and ask me directly.

          Childish and disrespectful name-calling isn’t going to do it with me.

        • Kodie

          You seem to think you have something important to say, so you keep talking about yourself in a condescending way. I don’t care what you like.

        • james warren

          I’m sorry you feel that way.

          …Take care!

        • adam

          “The world’s faiths have a foundational notion that the divine is
          unknowable, infinite and is beyond human description and understanding.”

          Of course to protect insane claims from scrutiny.

        • james warren

          Human awareness of the holy and the sacred is not “insane” in my view.

          The famous biochemist August Kekule and his research of the compound benzene is noteworthy:

          “The new understanding of benzene, and hence of all aromatic compounds, proved to be so important for both pure and applied chemistry after 1865 that in 1890 the German Chemical Society organized an elaborate appreciation in Kekulé’s honor, celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first benzene paper. Here Kekulé spoke of the creation of the theory. He said that he had discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a reverie or day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail (this is an ancient symbol known as the ouroboros). This vision, he said, came to him after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds.

          And of course Albert Einstein came up with the metaphorical, mythic vision of “God not playing dice with the universe. Other scientists like Gregory Bateson, Loren Eisley and Thomas Kuhn were dependent on myth and metaphor themselves. And many, many others.

        • Greg G.

          IIRC, Kekulé had a dream with a fever.. But our brains have some error correction capabilities to save on weight and energy as a trade-off for larger signal channels between neurons. Sometimes the error correction makes “incorrect corrections” that happen to be better than the original. That would give us the illusion of creativity and free will.

          Scientists are trying to illustrate by using metaphors, not saying that the metaphor is the proper view.

        • james warren

          What scientist took his temperature?
          If a researcher defines a fever as feeling feverish, one’s head feels hot is not using strict, literal scientific observations.

          If a metaphor or myth works, it is proper. Myths are not true or false–they are useful or not useful.

          Myth, metaphor, dreams, the imagination, visual or auditory epiphanies, paradox, humor–all examples of what I am talking about.

          http://www.hughhowey.com/everything-is-metaphor/

          https://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/11/metaphors

          https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/908874-everything-in-life-is-metaphor-we-accept-irony-through-a

          Something that rigidly “left brain,” super-rational and -logical people are unwilling or unable to grasp is that the human mind is a metaphorical machine.

          It associates events, objects, people with our perceptions of them. In a sense, everything’s a metaphor, because our perceptions—not raw facts—determine how we react. And these metaphors, these perceptions, are more important even than the reality behind them.

          When people say “I stand by my country” they are not talking about the land mass south of Canada and north of Mexico.

          They are saying “America AS.”

        • Greg G.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Kekul%C3%A9#Kekul.C3.A9.27s_dream

          It may not have been a dream at all. The story was told 35 years after the benzene ring structure was published and there had been parodies in the meantime. Kekulé may have gone along with the joke.

          It associates events, objects, people with our perceptions of them. In a sense, everything’s a metaphor, because our perceptions—not raw facts—determine how we react. And these metaphors, these perceptions, are more important even than the reality behind them.

          But the metaphor is not the reality behind itself. It is easier to understand something that is related to what you understand but the understanding gained that way might be wrong because of it. For many people, the metaphor is the destination but it’s not where you want to go.

          Thinking of something in metaphor might be OK for something one doesn’t care about. I can say, “I’m hungry” without adding “as a horse.” If there I was interested in worshiping a deity, I would want my religion to be more than metaphors. I have developed the hobby of studying the gospels but not to learn what they are like but what they are, their real sources.

        • james warren

          To be blunt, a religion without metaphors makes no sense to me.

        • Kodie

          Religions abuse metaphors to impress idiots. You seem like one so far.

      • Kodie

        You’re settling for a very blurry image.

        • james warren

          You might be saying that metaphorical language is not very clear to you.
          And that’s okay.

        • Kodie

          I’m saying you glorify a myth for terrible reasons and you are expecting us to follow your terrible reasons for even more terrible reasons.

        • james warren

          You are mind-reading and mischaracterizing my beliefs and my motives.
          Again, it would be helpful if you could just ask me specific questions.

        • Kodie

          How am I mischaracterizing your beliefs? I read all your posts in this thread and responding to it. If you meant something else, you didn’t make that as clear as you think you did.

        • james warren

          By making guesses and reaching conclusions about my posts that were never intended.

          It works better to ask me questions directly instead of mind-reading and wondering about my intentions.

          If you want something, asking is the best way.

  • Jim Jones

    > Jesus could have eliminated plague and smallpox and saved the lives of billions, but instead he withers a fig tree and does less curing of disease in his career than a typical doctor does today.

    … and does less curing of disease in his career than some doctors do in a day.

    Sight for sore eyes: ‘Maverick’ doctor who restored the vision of 100,000 people

    Bill Whitaker: Is it ever daunting? I mean, you look out there and you see that line of people, all who need this surgery.

    Geoffrey Tabin: It’s daunting on a worldwide basis. It may be a long line but this individual person I’m gonna give the very best care I can.

    Dr. Ruit set a rapid pace. He repaired an eye; the patient got up; the next patient was ready on an adjoining table. Just minutes an eye, then onto the next. Dr. Tabin performed the delicate surgery just feet away.

    Geoffrey Tabin: Want to take a look. See how nice and clear that is. I don’t know what that was – maybe 4-5 minutes. And it’s going from total blindness to great vision.

    They kept up this pace until 7:00 in the evening.

    Bill Whitaker: It’s almost like an assembly line. But assembly line sounds too mechanical. I mean, this is people’s eyes.

    Geoffrey Tabin: It’s people’s lives.

    • Lerk!

      I saw that report on 60 Minutes yesterday. Now THAT’S inspiring! I think they said it costs them $11 or $12 per eye, and they can do several in an hour. Thanks for reminding me… I want to see if there’s a way to financially support them.

      EDIT: It’s cureblindness.org

      • Jim Jones

        $20 there, $2,000 in the US IIRC.

        • Lerk!

          They did explain the reason. They’re making their own lenses, and they’re not subject to the same regulations as they are in the U.S. They’re also using a procedure that allows them to do the job really quickly.
          In the story, they didn’t comment on the success rate. I have no reason to think it’s not nearly 100%, but it may not be high enough to be acceptable in the U.S.
          I was also curious as to whether the lenses were all the same. They don’t seem to be measuring anyone’s eyes, just taking out the old lens and inserting a new one. Doing that, the patient’s resulting vision may not be 20/20. But it’s way better than being blind!

        • Jim Jones

          I assume they have a few steps not shown in the video. But I don’t know.

  • ClintonKing

    This is not the first time these challenges have been made, nor these questions asked. It’s almost as if Christianity were designed to provoke such questions.

    • Philmonomer

      Can you explain further?

      • ClintonKing

        Well, Mr Seidensticker doesn’t exactly say this, but his essay put me in mind of a question I’ve heard from others that goes something like, “if God is good, and God is all-powerful, why does anyone suffer unjustly?” CS Lewis wrote a whole book about it called “The Problem of Pain”.

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          Yes, it’s as old as the religion.

        • Joe

          CS Lewis wrote a whole book about it called “The Problem of Pain”

          He also wrote books about a magical wardrobe and a talking lion that were more convincing than his arguments.

        • ClintonKing

          And who have those books convinced?

        • Joe

          Not me, for one.

        • ClintonKing

          I would be surprised if the Chronicles of Narnia have convinced anyone of anything.

        • Joe

          I would be surprised if “Mere Christianity” converted anyone, but it did. Don’t write off The Chronicles of Narnia just yet.

        • Ambaa

          I loved the Narnia books and as a kid my Jewish friend and me (a Hindu) had no clue that they were Christian in nature. Didn’t lead us towards any understanding or acceptance of Christianity either.

        • james warren

          Apologetics never convince. They are meant for insiders, not outsiders.

        • james warren

          That’s a sneaky way of smuggling the Christian faith across the border between adults and children!

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

          The Riddle of Epicurus is another variant of that.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil#Epicurus

        • Greg G.

          How does he solve the question?

          If suffering can achieve anything, the achievement is logically possible. If God is all-powerful, then he can do anything that is logically possible which means the suffering part is unnecessary and, thus, superfluous. If an omnipotence allows unnecessary suffering, then it is sadistic and the label “good” cannot apply.

        • ClintonKing

          It’s been too long since I read the Problem of Pain, but for my own part, I don’t believe that God is omnipotent.

        • Greg G.

          I was looking at this outline of the book. I went through all the reasons he gives for pain. If the pain serves a purpose, the purpose is then logically possible to achieve and could be done by an omnipotence and would be done by an omnibenevolence.

          I gave up on it when I read “when we say ‘this animal feels pain’, we are misspeaking.”

        • james warren

          The Book of Job depicts Job as asking God “Why do I suffer? I’m a good guy and have done nothing wrong.”

          God answers Job out of the whirlwind with a lengthy lesson in natural history.

    • Herald Newman

      And all theistic religions come up with ad hoc excuses for the problem of {evil, suffering, pain, whatever.} Apologists have had a long time to come up with “answers”, but I’ve yet to see that any of them have good justification.

      • ClintonKing

        Yes, I suppose that all theistic religions do try to answer these questions. Could you expand on what you mean by ‘ad hoc’ in these cases?

        • Herald Newman

          That the explanation is specific to the specific problem and doesn’t generalize. I tend to use “just-so”, and “ad hoc”, interchangeably.

    • Joe

      It’s almost as if Christianity were designed to provoke such questions

      It doesn’t seem ‘designed’ for anything.

      • ClintonKing

        Curse my advanced hominid brain that sees patterns where none exist.

        • Joe

          The hominid brain evolved to do that very well. Don’t curse yourself.

        • Greg G.

          Of all the organs in all the species of animals that have ever lived on earth, the human brain is the only organ that has ever given itself a name.

        • TheNuszAbides

          … according to our understanding of naming 😉

    • Otto

      When you have a human invention claimed to be of divine origin it is inevitable.

  • skl

    With such an unbroken record of failure, what’s remarkable is that Christianity still exists.

    • Herald Newman

      Never underestimate the power of confirmation bias, ad hoc excuse making, along with childhood indoctrination. We generally want our beliefs to be true, and don’t like knowing that we believed something that is false.

      • ClintonKing

        It’s also remarkable that anyone ever changes their beliefs in adulthood.

        • carbonUnit

          I was Christian by default. When my Significant Other went SDA, I intended to follow to the new church, but decided to take a look at what I was purporting to believe first. Didn’t get through Genesis before the overwhelming stench of BS made me stop. I’ve been essentially atheist ever since.

          I would, at some point, like to read the Bible from cover to cover, asking innocent questions along the way. Might make SO recognize all the holes in the darn thing. As it is, I have a feeling SO (and the sources SO reads) does a lot of extrapolating. It would be nice to confirm that…

        • TheNuszAbides

          best of luck to you and your partnership.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, i wouldn’t know how feasible/resource-intensive it might be to undertake the study, but comparative stats on how often a significant such change occurs could be very useful [esp. if (a) variations were found + (b) causal factors for variations were confirmed].

      • skl

        “Never underestimate the power of confirmation bias…”

        But how would the first Christians have confirmation bias?
        I thought they were all expecting a shining world conqueror, not an obscure
        victim conquered by the world.

        • Herald Newman

          I thought they were all expecting a shining world conqueror, not an obscure victim conquered by the world.

          They probably were expecting this, but that doesn’t always matter. There are people who, once convinced of something, will never give up the belief, no matter what evidence is presented to them. The human brain doesn’t like to admit to being wrong, and people will sometimes go to great lengths of convince themselves that their belief is actually true. Have you ever talked to a conspiracy theorist?

        • Pofarmer

          Many of the first Christians may have expected that figure to come to Earth in the near future. They didn’t think he’d actually been here. Early Christianity had all kinds of beliefs.

        • Joe

          I thought they were all expecting a shining world conqueror

          Some still are.

        • Greg G.

          They thought the savior would come as a human, then again later, you know, like the Rapture.

        • al kimeea

          and I’m pretty sure Jesus mentions at least once that he’ll be back within his audience’s lifetime

          or am I taking it outta context?

        • Greg G.

          But some of the people in the audience are still alive. For some, that is easier to believe than the Bible is wrong, especially when quoting Jesus.

          I think the quote is that some standing there would not taste death before he returned. Maybe he was being macabre and meant that some of them would have their tongues pulled out while they were still alive.

        • TheNuszAbides

          there’s still a refuge for scoundrels/tools as long as “generation” and “taste death” (or whatever the original words indisputably? meant) can be spun this way or that.

        • james warren

          Again, there is a difference between the historical figure and the Christ of Christian theology.

        • Greg G.

          No, one is imaginary and the other is imaginary.

        • james warren

          It may well be true that those who believe in a god or some spiritual aspect suppress analytical thinking and instead engage the empathetic network.

          Any question of faith from the analytic point of view, then seems absurd.

          From what I understand about the brain, the leap of faith to belief in the supernatural amounts to pushing aside the critical/analytical way of thinking to help achieve greater social and emotional insight.

        • Greg G.

          greater social and emotional insight

          I don’t think “insight” is the appropriate word. Maybe “experience”. Why does it have to be an either-or situation? Giving up on critical thinking is just giving up on caring what is real versus what is imaginary.

        • TheNuszAbides

          oh, to be sure, nothing holds up to “plain reading” like whatever was translated into the “generation”, “tastes death” etc. of English.

          cue another round of “but but but deeply profound concepts can only be communicated in metaphor!”

        • james warren

          After the Enlightenment, the idea of the Bible is to be generally to be read literally made its appearance.

        • TheNuszAbides

          sure, it made an appearance. are you suggesting that Augustine of Hippo came up with the concept of literalism before anyone else had and proceeded to firmly pre-empt it from consideration for the next dozen centuries?

        • Greg G.

          Before the Enlightenment, very few were able to read the Bible.

        • james warren

          The belief in an apocalyptic Jesus is in flux right now within the community of Jesus scholars. Much of the apocalyptic language does not cohere with Jesus’ teachings. The examples come from the later church dogma that were inserted into Jesus’ mouth decades after his death.

        • Greg G.

          The apocalyptic ideas are basic to Christianity. The Pharisees apparently were expecting a Messiah to come during their own lifetime because the OT suggested that David’s throne would be filled. But Judea was under control of other nations.

          The teachings of Jesus are a hodge-podge of Stoical and Cynical thought plus Jewish philosophy. Many of the topics attributed to Jesus in Matthew appear to have been lifted from the Epistle of James, which never attributes anything to Jesus and most of that stuff was derived from the OT.

          The epistles don’t have any teachings of Jesus and the gospels are creative fiction. Jesus was the Suffering Servant read as an actual person from the past. Mark wrote a fictional anachronism putting the fictional Jesus in the early first century.

        • james warren

          I am convinced that the genre of the apocalyptic makes its appearance when actual history forces a crisis in a culture, a politics or a religion.

          Things are so bad that only the Lord as a deus ex machina can set things right.

        • Greg G.

          I think that is probably correct. I also think it is a good reason to keep the Christian Dominionists out of power.

        • james warren

          Jesus, please protect me from the Dominionists! And your other followers!
          😉

        • adam

          “Things are so bad that only the Lord as a deus ex machina can set things right.”

          You mean while he’s so fucked it up til now?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/701ad31004c57acab5bab2092d271b38e35efb5a87d32ff6631714eef0cfc9e4.jpg

        • james warren

          That’s not how I would put it.
          Foundational for the majority of religions is the idea that God is infinite and humankind is finite. Even the name of the divine was unmentionable and indescribable.
          Here on earth, God’s work has to be our own. God has to operate through the same physical and scientific laws everything else has to conform to.
          The Christian God of supernatural theism lives outside the universe and ducks in now and then to pull an ostentatious miracle out of his hat.

        • Kodie

          I still don’t understand why you need a god character in this story.

        • james warren

          It is symbolic. It stands for the beating heart of the universe. It is beyond human understanding and always will be.

          Paul wrote about God this way: “In him we live and move and have our being.”

        • Greg G.

          Acts was written by Luke, who was saying Paul was quoting Epimenides, who was referring to Zeus.

        • Kodie

          You’re not making that much sense.

        • james warren

          It is foundational in Christianity that the concept of divinity is beyond human description. It is beyond the finite human mind.

        • epeeist

          It is foundational in Christianity that the concept of divinity is beyond human description.

          And yet pastors, priests and the like don’t seem to have any difficulty not only producing descriptions but also telling us what this divinity wants.

        • james warren

          Absolutely. Many do.

        • Greg G.

          But it is not beyond the finite human mind to understand that saying “the concept of divinity is beyond human description,” is woo.

        • Kodie

          Why do you think I care what Christianity says.

        • james warren

          The mere fact that you are commenting on this forum and that you are apparently dead set on following me around indicates that you DO care.

          You need some ordinance in your arsenal.

        • Kodie

          I’m not following you around. You don’t really understand what I think, so stop making assumptions.

        • james warren

          Don’t take it literally.
          It’s only a metaphor. 😉

        • Michael Neville

          You’ve managed to confuse ordnance (military supplies such as weapons, ammunition, vehicles, etc.) and ordinance (a piece of municipal legislation).

        • james warren

          Thank you. And I am happy you were able to criticize respectfully without mockery or put-downs.

          Some times my typing is so fast that I misspell fast as well!

        • adam

          “Foundational for the majority of religions is the idea that God is infinite and humankind is finite.”

          And beyond judgement, right?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5187527e742b91e3f0a93cf26afa64df31b76a8d4339974c66c3c8b15c9943dd.jpg

          “Here on earth, God’s work has to be our own”

          Because there is no ‘God’.

          ‘God has to operate through the same physical and scientific laws everything else has to conform to.”

          then God needed to do the same thing to create this universe, so in effect NO GOD is needed.

          “The Christian God of supernatural theism lives outside the universe”

          Yes, of course, in the IMAGINATION.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c4e3bbea2d1e4d81dbd3798980be2ee8b39f893fee5d1d2b81b76b5e7ba184e1.jpg

          THIS is the reason there are so, so, so many different views on God, because each CREATES God in their OWN IMAGE.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/20c2caec6da789198d80d544880d1c6c23a3280abf0b5004330ac387920a4d1f.jpg

        • james warren

          To be blunt, all human beings possess a judgmental, evaluating mind.
          Affirming that “there Is no God” is in conflict with people who disagree with you.
          I try for humility and less arrogance, and because of that I can never believe that I am absolutely right about anything. Nor can I ever prove that I am right.
          As for me, my prayer is “Jesus, please protect me from your followers.”

        • adam

          “Affirming that “there Is no God” is in conflict with people who disagree with you.”

          That sounds like a good thing, when examining the claims for such “God”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e5d18558cc16fc4ee741077ba106dc02595a3556dba58aef424f2cb79d40452.jpg

        • james warren

          As I have said over and over again, the idea of the divine is beyond human language. That’s why the holy and sacredness of world religions is expressed in metaphor.

          We judge, for example, that the ancients took their religious stories literally, but that we are now sophisticated enough to recognize their delusions.
          But what if those ancients intended and accepted their stories as metaphors or parables, and we are the mistaken ones?
          What if those pre-Enlightenment minds were quite capable of hearing a metaphor, grasping its meaning immediately and its content correctly, and never worrying about the question: Is this literal or metaphorical?
          Or, better, what if they knew how to take their foundational metaphors and stories programmatically, functionally, and seriously without asking too closely about literal and metaphorical distinctions?

        • adam

          “As I have said over and over again, the idea of the divine is beyond human language.”

          I have experienced it, it is an emotion.

          ” That’s why the holy and sacredness of world religions is expressed in metaphor.”

          No, it is painted over as a metaphor to protect the power that it gives priests and tyrants.

          “Or, better, what if they knew how to take their foundational metaphors
          and stories programmatically, functionally, and seriously without asking
          too closely about literal and metaphorical distinctions?”

          Of course, that is why they created the myths.

          the problem comes when the myths are taken as literal truths, long after the culture that they were built around is no longer viable and they then present a danger to all:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdf1945c329723ddbb7c03a5aa7c5a3ef1bae3c5f93caabe7aed79f438227c78.jpg

          The biblical myths all lead one place….
          To the total annihilation of human beings and the planet earth.

          While that may have served ‘metaphorically’ to prescientific society, it is a real danger to a society that actually has that capability.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c8d01ed1b9f53173e882c769fa69e63c3584d87fd6bca730bcd98beca9e5c76c.jpg

        • james warren

          Your opinions are noted.

          My point has never been that Jesus was a good guy who accepted everybody, and thus we should do the same (though that would be good).

          Rather, his teachings and behavior reflect an alternative social vision. Jesus was not talking about how to be good and how to behave within the framework of a domination system. He was a critic of the domination system itself.

          He was a social activist who believed in grace, justice and mercy.

          Whenever a person tells me they don’t believe in God, I sometimes respond by saying “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in somebody says to me, “I don’t believe in God,” my first response is, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in.”

          Almost always, it’s the God of supernatural theism–the basic, distorted lens that today’s Christians use to view Jesus and the Bible.

          Because of the pervasive influence of the Enlightenment on our society today, we value metaphorical language less than literal language, even distrusting metaphorical language.

          But when describing profound truths that can transform lives, metaphors MUST be used.

          Metaphorical truths are profoundly true but not necessarily factual.

          This “more than literal” meaning is what a Native American storyteller means when he says, “I don’t know if it actually happened this way or not, but I know this story is true.”

          Many of us used to listen to Garrison Keillor tell about the happenings in Lake Wobegon on the “Praire Home Companion” NPR radio show and hear the truth in the fictional stories (and laugh at the silliness & foolishness of ourselves).

          The truth of the Bible does not depend on historical facutality. It contains true stories even if the particular stories are not factual reports.

          The reason for the literalist Christians’ passion on their interpretation of the Bible is that they have “identified truth with factuality,” thus, in their minds, if the stories aren’t factual, they aren’t true.

          And if these stories aren’t true, the Bible isn’t true. What is at stake is their view of the Bible.

          Many scientists [not all] view the Bible with the same literalist filter but come to the opposite conclusion: Snce the Bible is not factual, it cannot be true and the two camps shout at each other trying to prove a Bible passage correct or wrong

        • Kodie

          People are not generally more sophisticated now than they were then. Delusions fund the lottery commission. I would say some of the stories in the bible are relevant, applicable, and in my opinion, good things to know. But that doesn’t make it for me. The bible is full of total bullshit and bad advice, and you seem to not want to recognize that either. Let’s both agree here and now that we both consider the bible metaphorical. You want me to ask you questions directly, why do you think the bible is more full of goodness than I do? Why do you think the bible is unique? Why do you call yourself a Christian if you don’t literally believe in magic? Why do you weigh the bible as specifically important in the aspect of cultural obligation? Some of the advice and metaphor is twisted and fucked up, and I see you want to use and excuse all of it for the sake of WHAT EXACTLY. Is that enough fucking direct questions for you?

        • al kimeea

          I’m pretty sure everything we know aboot this character is from decades after he is claimed to have existed.

          “Don’t beat slaves too badly ’cause if they die too quick you’re on the hook” – Jebus in modern parlance

        • james warren

          Slavery was a fact of life in the world of Jesus of Nazareth. It is not surprising that he would have used that dynamic to help illustrate his parabolic teachings.

          In the earliest gospel written [Mark] Jesus’ aim was not only to preach the coming/present Kingdom of God on earth but to “set the captives free.”

          Slaves and servants were often the same thing.

          Exodus and Deuteronomy both advocate treating slaves humanely.

        • adam

          “Exodus and Deuteronomy both advocate treating slaves humanely.”

          Not so much:
          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that
          the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the
          slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the
          slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

          “Slaves and servants were the identical or close to the same thing.”
          Stormtrooper.com is misleading you.

          Slaves
          However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the
          foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of
          such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your
          land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your
          children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like
          this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated
          this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

          Servents
          If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set
          him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his
          freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married
          afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was
          married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him.
          If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons
          or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his
          wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may
          plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would
          rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him
          before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly
          pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his
          master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

          Your KKK is showing…

        • james warren

          Mark, the earliest gospel, says Jesus came, among other reasons, to “free the captives.” Paul’s Letter “Philemon” talks about the nascent Christian view of slavery.
          Elsewhere Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
          Jesus was said to have died to pay a “ransom for many.” The word is “lutron” and it referred to the money paid to a guard to release a slave or a criminal from prison.
          We make an error when we assume that all slavery in the ancient world can be compared to the Antebellum south in the 1800s.
          “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”
          –J.T. Hartley

        • Greg G.

          We make an error when we assume that all slavery in the ancient world can be compared to the Antebellum south in the 1800s.

          But when slavery was instituted in the Antebellum (Revolutionary War, that is, even the French and Indian War) South, it was based on the Old Testament law. They changed it as they went because the Bible laws didn’t work as well as expected.

        • james warren

          I am not aware of anything that proves that the Old Testament was responsible to the immoral and pragmatic use of slavery to help with colonists’ farming chores.

        • adam

          “We make an error when we assume that all slavery in the ancient world can be compared to the Antebellum south in the 1800s.”

          No, the mistake is when people DISHONESTLY try and claim servitude and slavery were the same in the bible.

          The following passage shows that slaves are clearly property to be bought and sold like livestock.

          However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the
          foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

          The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex
          slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a
          sex slave?

          When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed
          at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man
          who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not
          allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the
          contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to
          marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must
          treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes
          another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep
          with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may
          leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

          So these are the Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and has sex with them!

          What does the Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard
          that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since theslave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/13282502375d3da24cf6b663f813609c25b2ff6c1bdd9b750a6d095cf6c73c07.jpg

        • james warren

          Slavery was a fact in the ancient world. Jesus’ affirmed that part of his mission was to “free the captives.” He spoke about slavery in parables that pointed to something beyond slavery. The story of the Samaritan is a story. The man beaten on the road to Jericho would not show up in police department records.
          The epic narrative that is expressed in the Bible is the fact of bondage and liberation from that bondage.
          The Bible says that Jesus “died as a ransom for many.” The Greek word for “ransom” is “lutron” which refers to the payment made to liberate a captive held in prison. It often meant a bribe paid to prison guards.

        • adam

          ” Jesus’ affirmed that part of his mission was to “free the captives.” ”

          And yet he didnt
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ae1afb4336eb43eac4eb6542320889b4c9068fa20364f91b3a3a3b8f6e3a0f88.png

          And given the opportunity to say you shouldnt own slaves, Jesus tell how you can beat them.

          “The Bible says ”

          That you CAN own people as slaves, as property.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cd5d9e6773e80543419ef8028245051a34011eb1f46153f332a77d61748d7c46.jpg

        • james warren

          Ad I have said over and over again, Jesus frequently refers to slaves in his parable [the witty stories that marked his most distinctive teaching style].

          He never addresses slavery as an institution, though unfortunately one of the parables assumes that beating a slave is acceptable as in the verse from Luke that you have provided.

          More controversial is the apostle Paul, often blamed for promoting or condoning slavery.

          As the Romans adopted Christianity as its official religion, the writers of the Bible [including Paul] de-radicalized Christianity and substituted Roman Christianity for it. Radical liberty is replaced by Roman slavery.

          By the Fourth Century, the transformation was complete. Bow down to the Emperor Constantine!

          “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ …”
          –From one of Paul’s authentic letters

          It almost seems to me that you perhaps see Jesus like many believers do. But he was a human being and was not able to perform an exorcism on the culture of the age and make the institution of slavery disappear.

        • adam

          “It almost seems to me that you perhaps see Jesus like many believers do.”

          I see the story of Jesus as a myth.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e389054ce6c972f909aee2e1015b3f98cdad7f4e59ed68593237da544ca0616c.jpg

        • james warren

          The mythic Jesus came into being after Easter.

          I prefer the Jesus of history that had gnarly toenails, urinated and had bowel movements and vomited from bouts of stomach flu.

          The mythic Jesus was a creation of early Christian theology–particularly in the Gospel of John.
          I define myth like most of anthropology does: not as fable but as metaphorical truth.

        • Kodie

          That’s such a weak excuse. Jesus as a human like me or you could have condemned the practice of slavery, unless you’re saying he was just being a politician and didn’t want to alienate his base. If you don’t believe Jesus had supernatural powers, I don’t know why you think whatever he had to say is any more important than anything anyone else had to say.

        • james warren

          Same with Plato and Einstein. Who cares that whatever those two had to say is any more important than anything anyone else has to say?

        • Greg G.

          He spoke about slavery in parables that pointed to something beyond slavery.

          But slavery was used as a normal thing in the parables, not as a negative to learn from.

          The story of the Samaritan is a story. The man beaten on the road to Jericho would not show up in police department records.

          You will find it in 2 Chronicles 28:15.

          The Bible says that Jesus “died as a ransom for many.” The Greek word for “ransom” is “lutron” which refers to the payment made to liberate a captive held in prison. It often meant a bribe paid to prison guards.

        • james warren

          “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
          J.T. Hartley
          The word you refer to can be translated to “the way justice works” in English.

        • Greg G.

          Slaves and servants were the identical or close to the same thing.

          Exodus and Deuteronomy both advocate treating slaves humanely.

          That is something Christian apologists like to say but the Bible says otherwise. It’s like they get there information from other Christians without doing the research themselves.

          Slaves were bought from foreigners with no questions asked. Indentured or bound servants were Hebrews who worked for six years and the males were rewarded with stock and goods. The colonies in America adopted this system with indentured servitude for six years for young British men and women and foreign slaves bought from foreigners kept for life and their offspring.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Leviticus 22:10-11 (NRSV)10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food.

          These passages show that purchased slaves were not indentured servants.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

          Slaves could be kept forever and could be bequeathed to the owner’s heirs. They could be treated like slaves and they are excluded from the injunction of not being treated harshly which was just for Israelis.

          Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

          A slave could be beaten to death without punishment if they could walk away from it and suffer through the night, or at least until sunset when the next day started.

          Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

          Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

          These passages show that a Hebrew could be an indentured servant. Even a Hebrew could be made a slave for life. Both passages spell out exactly how to use family values to con an illiterate teenager into becoming a slave for life.

          Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

          7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded?” –Jesus, Luke 17:7-9

          Compare that with a first century Roman pagan:

          “‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.

          ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.

          ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.

          ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

          But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette… All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb… They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies… This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

          ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”

              — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

        • Kodie

          In modern parlance, it would be more like voiding the warrantee on your dishwasher or lawn mower. It used to be smacking your machines could buy you some time until sending it for repair, but that doesn’t work with computerized stuff so well. Beating, say, an animal, to push it to move, to plow your field or drive your wagon, or some shit, that is how slaves are also treated, but if you beat them hard enough to die, you don’t get to call your slave dealer and get an exchange for a new one. I really think the warning isn’t against accidentally murdering a person, but rather caution against accidentally spiting yourself out of a worker because your temper got out of hand. And sometimes it is just weird because slaves are people with whom one could empathize. One expects everyone to know their place, and who is in charge, and what will happen if the slave speaks up against their owner, which is something animals can’t exactly do, and inanimate machines cannot do. Then we are coming into robotics and machines that can resist being ordered what to do also.

        • Greg G.

          I really think the warning isn’t against accidentally murdering a person, but rather caution against accidentally spiting yourself out of a worker because your temper got out of hand.

          The passage allows punishment if the slave dies right away so I don’t think it is a warning. It is in the midst of crimes involving death.

          Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

          I don’t know how they actually interpreted this but the next day started at sundown so if the slave survived until then, the master might have been off the hook.

        • Kodie

          So, some recognition that slaves were actually humans, only if they died immediately, but if they suffered and didn’t die until a few days later, it’s the slave-owner’s prerogative. Thing is, I think it’s really hard to beat someone to death right away. It seems they realized this as well, that they knew beatings would occur, that slave owners would have some aggravation at the humanity of their slave acting up, and would resort to beatings as a matter of course. You can beat someone pretty hard before they are actually incapacitated, and so, to me, it’s really just like saying, hey make sure you don’t beat your slave too hard so they can’t do their work.

        • Greg G.

          It doesn’t seem to have mattered that much to them about the slave.

          Exodus 21:28-32 (NRSV)28 When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29 If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30 If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. 31 If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

          The worst you get for a slave being killed by an ox is thirty shekels, for a child, there is a judgement. For an man or a woman, it was the death penalty.

        • http://www.amazon.com/dp/1518617530/ PartialMitch

          How would the first Mormons have a confirmation bias? The first Muslims? The first Zoroastrians? The first followers of Jim Jones? The first Scientologists? The first believers in Gray aliens?

          The existence of gullible people who buy into woo is in no way surprising or unique. It’s certainly not evidence that there’s any truth to any myths. People fall for nonsense constantly.

        • MR

          Leon Festinger’s experience with the UFO cult would be a perfect example. He studied a small religious group in 1952 who believed they would be rescued by a UFO from a great flood. When the event didn’t happen, many of them doubled down on their belief and proselytized even more.

        • Jack Baynes

          That’s easy! Satan did it. /s

        • james warren

          Satan Claus would never do such a thing. 😉

        • MR

          As a follow on, I was just reading about the Fox sisters who were instrumental in the creation of Spiritualism in the late 1800s. Later in life they confessed that their ability to communicate to the dead was a hoax. The “rappings,” mysterious knocking sounds supposedly made by the dead, were actually made by the sisters by snapping their toes (if I’m interpreting their description correctly).

          From Wikipedia:

          The Fox sisters have been widely cited in parapsychology and spiritualist literature. “…many accounts of the Fox sisters leave out their confession of fraud and present the rappings as genuine manifestations of the spirit world.” [A critic] notes that “remarkably, the Fox sisters are still discussed in the parapsychological literature without mention of their trickery.”

          Christ could have denied himself three times and they still would have believed.

        • Susan

          I thought they were all expecting a shining world conqueror, not an obscure
          victim conquered by the world.

          Harold Camping’s followers were expecting the world to end when he said it would. When it didn’t, some left and many others dug in even deeper.

          Have you never heard of the Sunk Cost Fallacy?

        • skl

          “Harold Camping’s followers were expecting the world to end
          when he said it would. When it didn’t, some left and many others dug in even deeper. Have you never heard of the Sunk Cost Fallacy?”

          Yes, I think I’ve heard of Sunk Cost Fallacy. It’s different, though, from the confirmation bias Herald and I were talking about.

          Perhaps the difference between Harold Camping’s followers
          and the Christians is that the latter claimed they actually saw the thing which their leader had predicted but they hadn’t understood or believed.

    • Joe

      That statement can, and should, be read literally.

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

      Is it also remarkable that Scientology and Islam and Mormonism are going strong? Or can we attribute that to human imperfection and a dangerous world?

      • skl

        “Is it also remarkable that Scientology and Islam and Mormonism are going strong?”

        I don’t know if they’re as remarkable. But that could be an idea for future
        articles – Scientology’s Unbroken Record of Failure; and the same for Islam and Mormonism.
        If their unbroken record of failure is just as long and bad, then their
        still going strong would be just as remarkable.

        Or on second thought, perhaps not remarkable. Because maybe their followers just evolved to believe such things.

        • al kimeea

          taught from birth is far more likely

      • al kimeea

        dinna forget the JWs laddie, no matter how many times the world doesn’t end, including from the get go, they endeavour to persevere…

        Had a visit from one the other day. He talked about the dog mostly as he was there to sell the upcoming meeting not preach

  • Michael Lonergan

    There was that time when Pat Robertson prayed away a hurricane… 😉

    • Greg G.

      In 2011, an earthquake and a hurricane hit his house in the same week.

      • Herald Newman

        I’m sure it’s because he’s made a pact with the devil. Only reason I can see that that codger is still alive. 😉

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

      Here’s hurricane Isabel (2003) making landfall, very close to Virginia Beach where Pat Robertson’s ministry is located.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7f/Hurricane_Isabel_18_sept_2003_1555Z.jpg/455px-Hurricane_Isabel_18_sept_2003_1555Z.jpg

      • TheNuszAbides

        very close to Virginia Beach

        “Almost only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.” I’ll bet Pat spun it either as ol’ Jove waving “Hi!” to his trusty minion en route to the unrighteous target of retribution – or as a suggestion that if he didn’t try harder to raise that Ca$h4God, he was On The List!

  • Ambaa

    Well said!

  • epeeist

    The Sistine Chapel ceiling is a masterpiece inspired by Christianity.

    Painted by a gay artist who did it for the money.

    Have their been artists who have been committed Christians? Yes, J.S. Bach comes to mind, but many others who have produced religious art have only done so on commission.

    • Michael Neville

      There’s a > missing from your blockquote.

      • epeeist

        Already fixed!

        I post a fair amount on the Guardian. Their comment box comes with buttons to italicise, embolden, quote and link selected text. Why Disqus can’t do this I don’t know.

        • Michael Neville

          If you’re using Firefox there’s an app BBCodeXtra that will let you do the same thing. Despite the name, it also supports HTML. I used it in this post to give the link.

          EDIT There’s also a similar app for Chrome.

      • james warren

        How is the symbol used?

        • Greg G.

          Disqus allows many HTML codes and has some of its own. Well, one that I know of.

          Here’s a sample of things you can do.

          <b>This</b> = This
          <i>This</i> = This
          <u>This</u> = This
          <strike>This</strike> = This
          <s>This</s> = This
          <blockquote>This</blockquote> =

          This

          <spoiler>This</spoiler> = Fooled you

          The last one is just for Disqus show you can talk about movies without spoiling it. Move your cursor over the block.

        • james warren

          Thanks!

          Or should I say:

          THANKS

        • Greg G.

          Also
          <s><u><i><b>This</b></i></u></s> = This

    • MR

      Oh, sure, you do it for money one time and they label you gay!

      • james warren

        Historical evidence indicates he WAS gay. And so was King James of England who was responsible for one of the first biblical translations to be available to the reading public.
        Ellen DeGeneres is also gay. And Liberace was as well.

        • MR

          Um…, I think you missed the joke….

        • james warren

          I am not aware of missing it, but maybe I did. I chose to replay with some history and some modern humor.
          I may be old but at least I am stupid! 😉

        • Greg G.

          Aye, ya build the finest fences in the land for thirty year and nobody calls you “Angus, the fence builder” but you fuck one goat…

        • al kimeea

          with a palpable WOOOOSH

  • Chuck Johnson

    Evidently, in ancient times there was a shortage of paper and people who could read and write. So they wrote down only the most important things to them. This would include law, politics, morality, historical tales, etc.

    Then, when the Jesus stories became popular, these were written with the same portentous style as the Old Testament to make them more dramatic.

    This is too much like the more modern Joseph Smith scam.

  • Kevin K

    I’m actually reading an historical account of the painting of the Sistine Chapel, which is fascinating. Michelangelo was as concerned about getting paid for his work as he was about actually doing the work. When the pope commissions you to create a religiously themed work of art, that’s what you do.

    • lady_black

      Michelangelo also put clues in his work that probably escaped the notice of the religionists. For instance, the divine beings pictured in the depiction of the creation of Adam are contained within a structure that looks suspiciously like a human brain and the beginning of the spinal column.

      • james warren

        Thanks for your comment. It is very interesting for me and I will have to take a look.

        There are two little cherubs near the bottom of the painting and I remember a story that they were portraits of actual kids that were hanging around Michelangelo when he was trying to do his job–so he included them in the final painting.

        I was very lucky to have seen the chapel two times about 20 or 30 years apart. I remember the first time that here was a possible curator who was walking around shouting “No flesh! No flesh!” He was actually speaking to people who had flash cameras. It was his Italian accent!

        …jw

        • Greg G.

          I have a vague recollection that Michelangelo painted someone’s rear end toward the place where the Pope or someone who was causing him grief would be seated.

        • james warren

          I am glad some artists are not without a healthy sense of humor !!!

  • james warren

    Jesus–from the accounts we have in the New Testament–was a healer.
    Since he was a human being, a teacher from the peasant class he certainly did NOT cause the storms over the Sea of Galilee to stop, nor could he walk on water or come to live after being dead for three days.

    We have to draw a line between healing and curing. He might have been able to cure skin diseases such as psoriasis but in may have been healing that most characterized his encounters with sick and diseased people.

    A cure for any disease is desirable and indeed welcomed.
    But the healing of infirmities and maladies can be healed by refusing to engage in the ostracizing of diseased people, to empathize with their anguish and to envelope their suffering with love, compassion and respect.

    The rigid exclusion of sick people was just the way it was in the religion and culture of first-century Palestine.

    Jesus overturned and dislocated this pervasive idea and was able to give the marginalized the healing they were born to have.

    Was Jesus curing disease from an intervention in the social world or was he healing an illness or though an intervention in the social world?

    Since Jesus directly challenged the social and religious world of his day over and over and over again, I tend to believe the latter.

    One more thing. When you visit Lourdes, the Catholic healing shrine with the trickling water and the statue of the iconic Mary, you can see a lot of cast-off canes and crutches as well as empty wheelchairs at the end of the pilgrims’ path. But no empty coffins, artificial limbs or piles of toupees.
    The pagan healing shrine of the god Asclepius in Turkey also has piles of canes, crutches and wheelchairs at the end of the path.

    • Greg G.

      It has been pointed out that more people have been killed in train accidents on the last leg of the trip to Lourdes than the number of miracles validated by the Catholic Church. The number killed doesn’t include those who died on the way to France or on the return trip.

      • james warren

        That does not surprise me… It’s incredible how many horrific bus accidents I read about; they occur all over the world. I especially feel bad when a busload of older people careens down a hill and kills people. A bus ride to a Christian shrine is a money-maker, I’m sure.

        Everyone’s out to make a buck and I am positive many bus drivers are neither screened or regulated.

        I remember some tourist buses in Turkey and there were probably buses at Lourdes. I really don’t remember.

        I learned the other day that shortly after suicides or terrible accidents [all heavily publicized] there is a general uptick in both suicides and fatal accidents in the surrounding area.

        But this is just something I heard or read and I cannot be sure this is the actual truth.

        • Greg G.

          Just a few months ago, a small church bus was returning with several elderly church members from a trip. A texting driver in a pickup hit them. Twelve of the fourteen died. So tragic. I think I read that they were all wearing seat belts, too.

        • james warren

          Once we get rid of the government, we will be free of all those pesky regulations that mandate licenses for bus drivers. Drivers should be able to drive how they want. The Charlotte, North Carolina sidewalk driver comes to mind… 😉

        • Greg G.

          I saw a meme that showed the irony of the people in that march carrying a Confederate Flag in one hand and a sign in the other that said, “You Lost! Get Over It!”

        • james warren

          Classic!

          I happen to be one of those people who see no reason to tear down statues of Confederate soldiers. It’s all about history for me–certainly not racism.

          A true story: liberals at some American university are trying to get the name changed on a campus building. The building was named after a benefactor named Lynch and was known as “the Lynch Building.” Simply because of that single word, some students are demanding the building be re-named because blacks and others might be made uncomfortable b y the word.

          Unbelievable!

        • Greg G.

          I happen to be one of those people who see no reason to tear down statues of Confederate soldiers.

          I have been thinking about this. The monuments for Civil War soldiers were not erected shortly after the War. They were put up in the 20th century when Jim Crow laws were being created. It does not seem that the monuments were for the soldiers themselves except as a proxy for the racism. Perhaps they could be moved to a museum and viewed as an example of the behavior we should not condone.

          The party of Lincoln is becoming the party of Jefferson Davis.

        • adam

          What other country deifies traitors to it’s own country?

        • james warren

          There is at least one statue of Gandhi in London.
          Also a huge bust of Karl Marx was recently installed outside of Highgate Cemetery in London.
          There are statues of American World War II soldiers throughout Germany.
          I am also thinking of at least one statue to the honor of Benedict Arnold, the famous American traitor.
          I wonder if there are any statues or monuments to Oliver Cromwell, Guy Fawkes or William of Orange in England?

        • adam

          “There is at least one statue of Gandhi in London. ”

          A new statue of Mahatma Gandhi has been unveiled in London’s Parliament Square to mark the 100th anniversary of his return to India to start the struggle for independence from British rule.

          “By putting Gandhi in this famous square we are giving him an eternal home in our country. This statue celebrates the incredibly special friendship between the world’s oldest democracy and its largest, as well as the universal power of Gandhi’s message,” he added.

          “India and the UK share the same values and we are a partnership of equals.

          https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/14/new-gandhi-statue-unveiled-in-londons-parliament-square

          So Gandhi wasnt a traitor.

          We already understand the ‘universal power’ of Confederates – subjugation of human beings as property.

          You are willing to place freedom (Gandhi) on the same level as oppression?
          Is this is the town center or does it represent the capital? What are America’s shared values with racists?

          “Karl Marx”
          You mean at his GRAVE?

          Karl Marx is an author, not a traitor.

          Stormtrooper.com is misleading you….

        • james warren

          Based on your characterizations, re-definitions and personal interpretations of history and historical persons, you can certainly claim you are right. Sometimes it is easier to deny nuance and complexity when studying past events. And that’s perfectly okay.

          We all do it at times. At least I do.

          That said, I have no use for immature and disrespectful comments that indicate I read white supremacist literature or have any affinity with it.

        • adam

          “Based on your characterizations, re-definitions and personal
          interpretations of history and historical persons, you can certainly
          claim you are right”

          I’ve redefined nothing.

          And you havent demonstrated where anything in my post is incorrect.

          ” I have no use for immature and disrespectful comments”

          You’ve got plenty of use for such comments when you make them.

          You are just too cowardly to actually DEFEND your claims.

        • james warren

          The political and cultural conflict of democracy and Marxism needs no further explanation. Neither does the anti-colonialism of Mahatma Gandhi vis-a-vis the British Empire.

          And calling me:”cowardly” and arrogantly assuming I have not defended my claims shows a regression to insults and name-calling. Maybe this comes from the way you were raised in your own family dynamic. I don’t know….

          There are a myriad ways to criticize someone’s ideas and statements without feeling the need to give in or fight back.

          I think it is childish and immature to use such comments. They have no place in an adult dialogue in my view.

          Instead of saying “I’ve redefined nothing” you might have said “I am not aware of redefining anything, but perhaps I have. If you can show me specific examples where I have done this, we can certainly go over them together.”

          Instead of “You’ve got plenty of use for such comments when you make them,” you could have said “On one hand you call attention to my so-called disrespectful comments, yet on the other hand you, too, have made similar comments. I cut and pasted your own comments, such as ________, __________, and ___________.”

          You posted: “You are just too cowardly to actually DEFEND your claims.”
          What prevents you from saying “I don’t see how you have yet defended your claims. Would you be willing to do so once again so I can understand what you are communicating?”

        • epeeist

          The political and cultural conflict of democracy and Marxism needs no further explanation.

          When Marx was writing democracy in the UK consisted of land owning white men voting to put other property owning white men into the House of Commons while the House of Lords consisted of unelected aristocrats. Marx claimed that, certainly in the case of France, democratisation did not go far enough after the French revolution, it still left a society very much derived from the ancien regime. Marx (and Engels) wanted more democracy.

          But you would obviously have realised that if you had actually read any Marx rather than relying on right-wing caricatures.

        • james warren

          To be blunt, your assumptions, guessing at my motives and mind-reading are dead wrong. Your adverb “obviously” illustrates this and hints of a deliberate put down.

          I have read Marx long ago. Even Cliff Notes about Marx point out that he held that democracy under capitalism is not democracy at all.

          Because Marx was such a masterful critic of our capitalist system and our economic reality, apologists for our “system” characterize him as our perpetual unworthy opponent.

          That is my point.

        • adam

          “That is my point.”

          I thought your point was that he was a traitor and that the UK deified him with a statue?

        • james warren

          He used nonviolent action to upend British colonial rule. For his non-cooperation with Britain he was arrested and tried and was imprisoned for several years, if I remember right. When he was in England after his release he had to have two bodyguards with him at all times because of his treasonous acts.

        • adam

          “He used nonviolent action to upend British colonial rule.”

          Yes, he used democracy, but we all knew that.

          ” For his non-cooperation with Britain he was arrested and tried and was imprisoned for several years, if I remember right. When he was in England after his release he had to
          have two bodyguards with him at all times because of his treasonous
          acts.”

          Citation needed.

        • james warren

          Non-violence in a violent system is not democracy.
          It is a direct challenge to that system.

          Put in Gandhi Wikipedia into the search engine of your choice. Nothing is stopping you from doing your own research. I have done mine.

        • adam

          “The political and cultural conflict of democracy and Marxism needs no further explanation.”

          But it does if you want to claim Gandhi was a traitor.

          “This statue celebrates the incredibly special friendship between the
          world’s oldest democracy and its largest, as well as the universal power
          of Gandhi’s message,””

          “What prevents you from saying “I don’t see how you have yet defended your claims.”

          The same thing that prevented you from defending your claims in the first place.

        • james warren

          Gandhi undermined British colonialism and the attitude toward Gandhi was accusatory and cast him as an enemy of the British status quo.
          Marxism has been popularly conceived as the enemy of capitalism. That fact can easily be described in terms of treason against America.

        • adam

          So Gandhi raised arms against the British colonialsim?

          Of did he just use democratic methods.

          epeeist covers Marx better than I would.

        • james warren

          He refused to cooperate with British colonial rule and he did it without violence.

          But you already knew that.

        • adam

          So not a traitor.

          Yes, I already knew that.

        • james warren

          A clever way of responding. But I find it unpersuasive.
          Gandhi was not a traitor but yet he stood firmly against the British Empire and because of this he was jailed and imprisoned?

        • adam

          “That fact can easily be described in terms of treason against America.”

          Only if you redefine treason:

          Definition of treason

          1 : the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of
          the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally
          injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family

        • james warren

          We have been taught to believe that there are only two ways to deal with conflict: giving in or fighting back.
          Nonviolence is seldom considered, even though organized resistance worked every time against the Nazis or that in the 80s and 90s, a dozen nations underwent nonviolent regime change.
          Our metaphors are still violent and war-like. There is a better way to “kill” violence nonviolently.

        • adam

          “Based on your characterizations, re-definitions and personal interpretations of history and historical persons”

          See, all claims you failed to demonstrate.

          “That said, I have no use for immature and disrespectful comments that
          indicate I read white supremacist literature or have any affinity with
          it.”

          Stormtroopers are Star Wars characters created out of FANTASY.

          My mistake was not checking the websites current configuration.

        • Michael Neville

          Neither Gandhi nor Marx were traitors to Britain. Gandhi wanted the British out of India and Marx wanted Marxism throughout the world.

          The statute of Benedict Arnold on the Saratoga battlefield is of his leg, which was broken during the battle. Arnold took command of the American forces at Saratoga from the indecisive Horatio Gates and led a successful charge against a British redoubt. If Arnold had died at Saratoga he would be considered one of the heroes of the Revolution.

          There are four statutes of Cromwell in Britain including one outside the House of Commons. [link]. There’s a statue of Guy Fawkes in Welwick, East Yorkshire [link]. Why wouldn’t there be statues of William III in England? Go to google images and google “statue of William III”. You’ll find a whole bunch of statues of him.

          Kodie is right, you’re poor at expressing yourself.

        • james warren

          I used to be the last reporter in the building on Wednesday nights. I covered the city council meeting and I always had a hell of a time getting it right. And I was bored as well. A few times I was able to write a story on the meeting by making the first letter in each paragraph spell out silly and obscene messages to my friends.

          Creativity did not come easy. And most of the time it was like pulling teeth to me.

          The bad thing is that the guys in the back shop were pacing and grumbling waiting for my story so they could set it up on the front page dummy and go to the bars. That really put pressure on me!

          I have worked as a mediator, a drug/alcohol counselor and an oncology tech working with end-stage cancer patients and their families. I seem to do better when I have a live human being in front of me.

          I won’t soon forget the first cancer patient I met. She was a beautiful 27-year-old woman who had advanced leukemia. She was bleeding from her nose and I think I felt like *I* was the one who was dying. A valuable lesson I had to learn was that if I wanted to help her and other patients, “helping” them was the absolute worst thing I could do. I had to learn to just be with them in the moment and deal with whatever came up in the present.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve also learned to live in the moment. I’m a combat veteran who’s been wounded twice and saw men go from being normal, walking, talking, intelligent people to dead in an instant. As the ancients would say: Ars longa, vita herring or something like that.

          I have Asperger’s Syndrome which means I am not good at dealing with live human beings. Over the years I’ve learned to be functional around people but I am not comfortable with anyone other than a few friends and family members.

        • james warren

          You have dealt with and surmounted a lot. I cannot imagine going through battle in a long war.
          I applied for a Conscientious Objector status during Viet Nam because I was afraid of what war might do to me. I was headed to Rawlins Penitentiary in Wyoming for a seven year term. Luckily, in the meantime I was called to my physical and flunked it because of both knees.
          You are definitely a special person because of your getting through your challenges. I have nothing but admiration and respect. Continue with your healing!

        • james warren

          Moving them to a special museum is a good idea. Or maybe to a park–the Gettysburg battlefield or somewhere.

        • adam

          “It does not seem that the monuments were for the soldiers themselves except as a proxy for the racism.”

        • adam

          “The party of Lincoln is becoming the party of Jefferson Davis.”

          Two incredibly insightful comments.

        • james warren

          The historical pendulum swings. History is not just one thing after the other.

        • adam

          “I happen to be one of those people who see no reason to tear down statues of Confederate soldiers.”

          What other country deifies traitors to it’s own country.

          “It’s all about history for me–certainly not racism.”

          Then why deify racists traitors?

        • james warren

          Having historical statues and deifying trators are two different things.

        • adam

          Not in this case, these are traitors who got deified.

          This is merely AN ACT OF TERRORISM, against the very people they lost a war over.

        • james warren

          War is the terrorism of the well-to-do and terrorism is the war of the poor.

        • Kodie

          Some more of your patented pseudo-deep blithering.

        • james warren

          You seem intent on name-calling and immature put downs. I don’t accept that as part of an adult dialogue.

          I would like it if you could fully feel your emotions, give them a name and express them with decency and respect.

          When GOP congressman Joe Wilson shouted out “YOU LIE!” to interrupt Obama’s State of the Union address, he later was forced into an apology by the press and said “I guess I let my emotions get the better of me.”

          Exactly.

        • Kodie

          When you talk, you just sound like you think you are saying something, but you’re not.

          I am being forthright, honest, without emotion. I don’t care what you would like.

        • james warren

          In other words you are unable to know what I am saying.

          I am, however, puzzled that a human being would declare they have no emotion.

          😉

        • Kodie

          I declared that I did not have an emotional response to your posts, as you accused me of having an emotional response to your post. You are frightened of honesty.

        • james warren

          That’s correct. Sometimes I am very frightened of honesty–from others and within myself.

          Like the child I once was, I feel physically and mentally uncomfortable before I tell certain truths to people–especially to those I love. And a moment can seem like an hour after someone says to me “May I be honest with you?”
          Fear is a powerful emotion, and when I was in my 20s and 30s I often felt that being emotionally honest with a woman would result in my being disrespected, taken advantage of or dumped. That is definitely coming from a place of fear.

          Now that I am older I have recognized that too much of the time we have all unknowingly created a culture that punishes people for honesty.

          One more thing: The net result of fearing honesty is that we become dishonest with ourselves. We drink the Kool-aid, so to speak.

          We know that no investment returns 15% year, even in bad years, but we continue to give our money to the Bernie Madoffs of the world, hoping. We tell our spouses that the relationship is strong because we can’t bare to tell them the truth. Instead of being direct, we step out on them.

          We know we need to change, but not as much as the next guy.

          I’m just glad I am finally beyond that now. I often do a fearless and searching moral inventory of myself. That certainly keeps me more humble and less arrogant.

          Jesus said in the New Testament that we should pay attention to the giant logs in our own eye before we deem to point out the tiny speck of sawdust in our neighbor’s. This is a good example of pop psychology from 2,000 years ago.

          What are the logs in my own eye? Besides my racism, hypocrisy and muddle-headedness there is plenty of time for me to make an exhaustive list at the drop of a hat.

        • james warren

          When Lee surrendered to Grant, he handed his sword over to the Union general.

          Grant said to Lee “You have been a noble foe, General. Keep your sword.”

        • Kodie

          The statue just says, hey, I’m a great guy, I’m one of your heroes. Real history says he’s not. Books keep history, statues glorify important figures.

        • james warren

          A statue actually says nothing. Humans have to concoct a meaning for it and some humans believe that meaning has to be affirmed by everyone else.

        • adam

          And racial terrorism is the terrorism of racists.

        • Kodie

          Having statues erected for a long time doesn’t make them “historical”. We generally make statues of important people to our country. That would be like if they erected a statue to Hitler in the 1940s in the US, and you’re like, well, it’s historical so keep it. Confederates were against the United States of America, and classifies them as traitors, an making/keeping statues or flags about the CSA is like saying you wish you lived in another country, not the US.

          Make the CSA great again, get out, make your own fucking country. That’s what these statues signify. They were not Americans. They were seceding from the US to form another fucking country entirely. That’s being a traitor. I mean, it’s history that that happened, but glorifying symbols and heroes of the CSA is traitorous and not American.

        • Greg G.

          They claimed they were seceding for states rights. But the only state right they ever mentioned was the right to own slaves.

        • james warren

          Storm the parks, vandalize the museums, burn those textbooks….
          Sounds familiar to me.

        • Kodie

          So, once someone decides to erect a statue, it has to be there forever, even if it’s to celebrate something or someone we think is terrible…. everything has to stay the same forever. We can’t change our minds ever if a statue that ought never have been erected should be where it is anymore, ever. We can never come to our senses about whatever is considered “traditional” or “historical” by anyone else. I mean, there are no confederate statues on my street. There is a park at the end of the block with no statues about Robert E. Lee there. Should we start making sure we have historical statues of Robert E. Lee in every park? If we can’t take the ones that were put up down because you’ll cry, shouldn’t we start making sure every neighborhood has a statue of Robert E. Lee? What is the difference in a statue taken down and one that was never there in the first place? Aren’t we whitewashing and revising history if we don’t put up more statues to make sure everyone knows who Robert E. Lee was?

        • james warren

          I did not say statues should be where they are forever.
          And I did not say that everything has to stay the same forever.
          Or, that we cannot come to our senses.
          And as for making sure we have Robert E. Lee statues in every park that too is not even close to what I was saying.

          All of your statements are unfounded. You have quickly assumed something and spent your time accusing me of things you have invented.

          Like I said before, fully feel your emotions, give them a name and simply express them honestly and respectfully.

          Sarcasm is always a “cover emotion” for anger.

        • Kodie

          You did say it’s historical, and I don’t understand the difference in taking down statues of traitors and not erecting them in the first place.

        • Michael Neville

          Sarcasm is always a “cover emotion” for anger.

          Not always. Sometimes sarcasm is used to get people’s attention. It’s considered nicer than saying, “You’re a fucking idiot for believing that bullshit.”

        • james warren

          Sarcasm is far from “nice.” It is a scornful dig that tries to disguise itself as reasonable language. It can do untold damage used with children and–if not challenged–can lead to feelings of confusion and pain in adults.

          It’s hostility disguised as humor. It is intended to hurt.

        • Michael Neville

          I didn’t say sarcasm was nice, I said it’s nicer than using foul language.

        • james warren

          Got it. Thanks for clarifying.

        • james warren

          Nothing prevents us from affixing a new plaque on the monuments that put the statue into historical context.

        • Kodie

          What is your emotional obsession with retaining these statues in place?

        • james warren

          It’s not emotional. And it certainly is not an obsession. It is my opinion. I think every human behavior has good intentions behind it. Those who want to want to tear them down and those who don’t.

          We all have good intentions, but we seldom consider the possible EFFECTS of those “good intentions.” That takes a lot of effort and it may mean we have to broaden our outlook a little.

        • adam
        • james warren

          Authoritarian rule succeeds because the historical narratives of the past are changed. People forget, the present rule is made to seem “normal” and–more importantly–the people lose their way.

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

          Authoritarian rule is what racism was all about.

          But people didnt forget about Luther, they remembered him when they needed a scapegoat to blame the problems on.

          Some minority that they could create an enemy out of to create a cause against.
          What better one than one sent by God Almighty?

        • james warren

          It’s helpful to realize the authoritarianism in every movement and–more importantly–to be accountable for the authoritarianism in ourselves.

          Luther was an anti-Semitic as well. Christians tend to view Paul through Luther’s lens. And it is a distortion.

          And we all find scapegoats. At least I do. I am slow to be aware of my good intentions and the less-than-good EFFECTS of my “good” intentions.

          “It’s THEIR fault we had a disagreement or it’s not MY fault this happened: they MADE me react that way!”

          God is known by many different metaphors in the Bible. The Bible is a human product and was often used by
          many biblical authors as an excuse to punish their real-life enemies.

          But there is a definitely different tradition of the God of Israel that runs through the entire Bible.

          It is the God of mercy, justice and grace. And salvation means personal transformation in THIS life.

          It has been extremely helpful for me to find out what a particular biblical verse meant to the original authors and listeners/readers. Only then can I draw a lesson that will be useful for the present age. Much of the language of supernatural theism of Christians today is useless. The words have been misunderstood and so the church has been left to misunderstand what the Bible actually says.

          Jesus did not die to save humankind for sin and he never claimed to be divine. His God was a God of mercy who demanded self-forgiveness before we can forgive others. He did not believe in a human sacrifice for sin. His God wanted repentance and a contrite heart.

          Jesus, please protect me from your followers….

        • al kimeea

          Nice strawman on a slippery slope, sunshine. Nobody’s saying anything like that but you.

        • james warren

          A necessary part of actually obliterating history is to get rid of museums and textbooks. If you want to wipe historical memory from a population, we cannot ignore it unless we are not hypocritical and attack history from all fronts.
          The politically correct thing to do is to is hide racism by any means necessary. According to this view, we have to be willing to hide ALL expressions of racism.

        • adam

          “A necessary part of actually obliterating history is to get rid of museums and textbooks.”

          Who is trying to obliterate history?

          That is different than celebrating racists and taitors.

        • james warren

          A sizable group of students at Lebanon College in Pennsylvania are demonstrating against Lynch Memorial Hall–named after a former college president–and demanding the building be renamed. It’s the word “lynch” that bothers the students, much like being bothered by statues or confederate history.

          Out of sight, out of mind. Obliteration.

        • adam

          Yeah, so?

        • james warren

          It’s an interesting idea that a person would have no interest in talking about such a ridiculous happening like this. I guess I am just surprised at not hearing anything from YOU.

          Hint: you can, however, use “Yeah, so?” in response to any of my comments. And I understand. It’s perfectly okay.

        • adam

          “It’s an interesting idea that a person would have no interest in talking about such a ridiculous happening like this.”

          It’s ridiculous, what other interest should I have?

        • james warren

          I just find your response puzzling, that’s all.
          Or should I have said “Yeah, so?”

        • Michael Neville

          To put your mind at ease, the building was renamed the Clyde A. Lynch Memorial Hall, thus preserving recognition of the late President Lynch of Lebanon Valley College.

          All too often conservatives like you will complain about “political correctness” when people comment, debate or protest about things that you personally aren’t concerned with. You don’t care that some people might have an adverse reaction to the word “lynch” and therefore you whine when they do. Sorry, James, but your whining does not impress me.

        • james warren

          You are guessing. Blithely so. And you guess wrong.

          I am a tree-huggin’ liberal and always have been. However, I am totally accountable for my hypocrisy, racism [“white privilege”] and an unreasonable and racist fear of many African Americans I do not know] and many, many other shortcomings. I am no ideologue, however.

          I try to be humble, fair, honestly accountable and not arrogant.

          I don’t possess the truth, nor do I claim to. I believe truth is always provisional. It’s what highlights the conflict between opposing views. Truth is found in the relationship between or among the beliefs and truth claims of every human being.
          I go deeper and have been condemned to seeing all sides of an issue, always aware of the kernel of truth in every statement–even the ones I disagree with.

          Plus I am a voracious and curious reader. I have always had a library card and often take a book to movie theaters. The light is okay for reading a bit before the lights go out for the film.

          How would YOU express a fear of losing our history in a way that does not show whining?
          You construct the sentence and I will study it and keep it in mind for my next post(s).
          Show me specifically the right way to communicate my ideas without sounding like I am “whining.”
          And given all the properties of the written word, how in hell can you guess at my whiny voice tone and facial expressions?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know why you think exerting your perceived power over others is the way to express whatever you think Christianity is. You idolize a character in a story. I find that I agree the last name “Lynch” is … well, the verb was named for another guy named Lynch. The verb comes from “Lynch Law”, or punishment without trial.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrajudicial_punishment
          It’s too bad the last name “Lynch” got demonized with the usage “to lynch” as in hang a black person from a tree.

          It sucks if that’s your last name!

          It sucks that a generation of people have no other definition of Lynch as a surname, nor know the namesake of the hall, that they think it might be clarified lest any black students feel like they might be invited to a hanging there. I don’t know why you think people should just react the way you wish they would. I know and you know it’s just some patron’s unfortunate last name, but why are you so strictly against accommodating people? You want the right to feel like you want to feel as a white male whose last name isn’t Hitler or Lynch, but you think your feelings matter more than other people’s feelings. That’s what oppression is, asshole.

        • james warren

          I always idolize good character, compassion, justice, nonviolence, acceptance of the homeless, the destitute and the immigrant.

          I respect the people in history who die for their vision.

          Your ugly name-calling is odious to me,

          I suspect you are following the behavior of your own family you grew up in. I hope you are able to teach your children other ways of dealing with conflict that are decent and respectable.

        • al kimeea

          I try to be humble, fair, honestly accountable and not arrogant.I don’t possess the truth, nor do I claim to.

          Quatloos to doGnuts your eyes are brown, ’cause you’re so full of IT.

          A very large number of your comments are in service to your claim to KNOW, KNOW The Amorphous Blob exists, supported by a handful of analogies and aphorisms, along with the ubiquitous deflection by unknowability. All topped with a Herculean dollop of Humpty Dumptyism.

          You personify arrogance.

        • adam

          “The politically correct thing to do is to is hide racism by any means necessary.”

          But the effective thing is to expose it for what it is.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6a5ce862a330f3605ae834bd01805b9f95e6c7b76e373b5245d7a0e104804989.jpg

        • james warren

          I totally agree.

          Historical memory, however, is one of the best ways to expose racism.

          But that’s just my opinion.

          I have no way of proving I am right. Or knowing I am right.
          I cherry-pick my opinions and feelings from the same immense cherry orchard we all live in.

        • adam

          “Historical memory, however, is one of the best ways to expose racism.”

          I agree.

          But deification of said racists is the worst way to expose racism.

        • james warren

          I see a difference between describing a statue as racist and exposing racism out in the open. Racism comes from ignorance. We don’t do any good by refusing to look it in the face. In Europe you can hire a tour guide to explain what you are seeing and put it in context. Or you can rent a set of headphones and recordings that do the same thing.
          This prevents people toppling over statues of Constantine who made Christianity part of the Roman Empire, converted to the faith during a battle and poured molten lead down the throat of his own brother. And who believed in power and injustice from the top, held together by violence and a crushing commercialization of peasant farmers. And used violence to get his way.
          People should not be ignorant of racism.

        • Kodie

          I am worried that people are fearful to have these statues removed, they get emotional about it. It’s like taking away their public prerogative to be a racist. They hate “PC” language, or actually thinking about other people’s feelings. They put the burden on other actual people for feeling ways they would, being treated or labeled as they are, to feel more conveniently less confrontational to the racists, because the racists just want to use free speech without necessarily hurting other people and can’t handle that their speech hurts other people. The idea is that victims of racism just don’t feel anything so racists don’t have to feel bad, because it’s the worst for racists to feel bad…. and they don’t feel bad, they just mock their targets for feeling bad!

          Anyway, removing these statues makes racists cry!

        • Kodie

          Sorry — for far too long, we ignore racism. We ignore the ugly attitudes that we imagine our culture has outgrown. Leaving the statues up only says we don’t care about racism, we care about “history” and symbols that were erected to express racism. You cling to the bronze inanimate statue as more important than actual people. That’s so fucking Christlike of you.

        • james warren

          It’s your inference that I don’t care about racism. I see it in my own heart daily. My sense of white privilege sickens me.
          Again, your assumptions are childish and plain wrong.
          You also make the incredibly silly claim that I think statues are more important than actual people.

          More important than actual people.

          Incredible, my friend.
          Incredible.

          I have no interest in being “Christlike.” If you have been paying attention, I much prefer Jesus of Nazareth. Christ is a later interpretation of the church, made decades after the crucifixion.

        • Kodie

          Burning books was your man Hitler’s thing. We’re just talking like we probably shouldn’t commemorate certain people with the honor of a statue in their image. We usually erect statues and monuments to events and people we want to honor. If we leave them there, it means they have an honored place in history, and you want to celebrate and remind people of these people and events. Having a monument or statue is a positive thing, so you are saying they are positives in our country’s history. The statue isn’t there to remind people that Robert E. Lee was a traitor. The people who want the statue to remain aren’t expressing an interest in using the statue as an educational tool to learn about a traitor – they celebrate the Confederacy. “The South will rise again”! They romanticize this history and glorify the Confederate heroes, who, like, hated the US so much they created another country and warred against us. It’s not American history. They are not American heroes. We can still read about the Civil War in books or like, watch a famous miniseries.

        • Fred Knight

          exactly, this is what it means to be a free thinker…..sadly, many atheists &/or progressives can be quite intolerant on this point…our racist uncomfortable past was something we all could acknowledge until recently, now we have to expunge it from the record to somehow vindicate ourselves

        • james warren

          Your post is similar to my own opinions.

          It would be just dandy if we could keep all the good & enlightened people over here and then get all those evil racist people over there. Then all we would need to do is to get rid of all those racists and America will be a better place.

          But what many do not even realize is that the line between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart.

          And who is willing to destroy a piece of one’s own heart?

        • adam

          What is the historical significance of having racists and traitors deified in the public square.

          I mean other than to terrorize the very victims of racism?

        • james warren

          Being terrorized by a statue is a little ridiculous in my view.

        • adam

          the statue is merely the symbol of such terrorism.

          To ignore the history of racial terrorism is VERY ridiculous in my view. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab50ccbdec528e64b66ec2dce7f785204fef516bac228d7c319a5a13c1200994.jpg

        • Fred Knight

          gotta love the low hanging fruit…careful lest you think you are actually making a significant point.

        • james warren

          The word symbolism is related to interpretation. And those interpretations are made by human beings and are necessarily not going to be the same.

        • Kodie

          Needing to keep the statue “for history” is the most ridiculous.

        • Fred Knight

          who’s deifying? that is a stretch.

        • Fred Knight

          “I happen to be one of those people who see no reason to tear down
          statues of Confederate soldiers. It’s all about history for me–certainly not racism.”
          very reasonable, indeed. it’s interesting that “iconoclasm” (mindless destruction of images) was deemed a heresy by the early Church.
          oh, how history loves to repeat itself.

        • james warren

          Jesus of Nazareth was an iconoclast that Christianity has turned into an icon.