Is God the Good Guy or the Bad Guy?

god's busy shirt

This is one of my shirts. It makes a fun and provocative statement that often gets a smile, but it also raises an important question. When the Christians think that they’re talking to God, how do they know? If there is a supernatural world populated with lots of beings, maybe one of Satan’s little helpers is answering your prayer instead of God, Jesus, or a saint.

Now consider the bigger question: who’s in charge? Is this a good world governed by an all-good god (the Christian view), or is a bad god in charge?

Think about the Problem of Evil, why a supposedly good god allows so much evil—tsunamis, childhood diseases and birth defects, millions of people living in abysmal conditions, and so on. Is this really the best that he can do? But drop the assumption that the guy in charge must be good, and things make more sense. You now have the Problem of Good—why the evil god in charge wouldn’t make things much worse. This question has potential answers: maybe having things bad but not too bad allows hope to flourish and then be dashed. Or maybe the guy in charge is just a well-meaning but imperfect craftsman—a celestial Homer Simpson or an extraterrestrial middle schooler who got a C+ on the simulation that we call our universe, which he created for a homework assignment.

So is God good? (I’ll use “God” as our name for the being in charge of our world.) Let’s imagine a dialogue with a Christian.

Of course God is good! The Bible says so.

Yes, it does. Here are some examples.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

For everything God created is good. (1 Timothy 4:4)

But the Bible is a sock puppet that can be made to say almost anything. God not only created good, but he created evil:

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, Jehovah, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:38)

When disaster comes to a city, has not Jehovah caused it? (Amos 3:6)

The Bible isn’t much help to the Christian when it documents what God does when he’s off his meds. He demands human sacrifice and genocide. He supports slavery and polygamy. He drowns the world. These would universally be condemned as evil by anyone who didn’t have an agenda to defend God.

The Bible is also full of errors and contradictions, just the kind of clue to suggest that an inept or even evil guy was behind it.

God is good by definition. If God did it, that’s “good.” He’s the Creator of Everything! How could it be any other way?

In the first place, this isn’t how the dictionary defines “good.” There’s no mention of God in the definition of the word.

But see where this takes Christians if the guy in charge is good by definition. There’s no amount of carnage he can do for these Christians to change their evaluation. Natural disasters, disease, individual calamities—it’s all good. If you can’t understand, then you’ll just have to content yourself with God working in mysterious ways.

This “God” could just as easily be objectively bad. Tricking us into believing that this very imperfect world is actually the best of all possible worlds is just the kind of monkey business that the Dark Lord would do, isn’t it?

Imagine Satan in charge. He might do something abominable like convince Christians that the death of an innocent child is an unavoidable part of his greater plan, if you can believe such a thing. And yet grieving Christian parents are told exactly that!

Christians have ceded their ability to distinguish the two. Good or bad, this guy has convinced Christians that we must label every act of his “good.” Christians don’t say that he’s good by evaluating his actions; they say he’s good by default.

But God has his own morality.

What’s wrong with him following the same morality as he demands of humans? We were created in his image, after all. But if he has his own moral rules, what are they and how do you know? What rules can we be confident God will follow, or are you determined to apologize for him no matter what rules he breaks?

Just look around you—this is a beautiful world! God’s hand is all over it.

A well-known poem says, “All things bright and beautiful . . . The Lord God made them all.” Puppies and sunsets and snow-covered mountains are beautiful. But tsunamis and guinea worm and cancer are not. Don’t forget that God made them, too.

I respond to the Design Argument, which says that life on earth is so complicated that it must be designed, here.

God could easily have his own reasons for things that appear strange to us. For example, the tragedy of the crucifixion led to the gift of salvation. Just because Noah’s flood seems wrong to you doesn’t mean that it wasn’t right from God’s standpoint.

This is the Hypothetical God Fallacy. It assumes God, offering no defense of the outlandish God hypothesis. This is nothing more than, “Yeah, but you haven’t proven me wrong!” That’s true, but that was never the goal. All we can do is follow the evidence, and it doesn’t point to the supernatural. We have to evaluate the God claim with the evidence we have, and Christianity can offer very little.

Don’t blame God for poor conditions here on Earth, blame Satan.

Here again, the Bible isn’t the Christian’s friend. Satan is said to have killed Job’s servants and his ten children, but that was with God’s approval. And that’s about it.

Now consider God’s killings, also documented in the Bible. The Dwindling in Unbelief blog estimates five million people dead in 157 incidents plus another twenty million for the global flood.

Like God, “Satan” is a character who has changed over time. In the book of Job, he was simply God’s prosecuting attorney, making sure that Job was obedient for good reasons rather than selfish ones. The idea of Satan as God’s sworn enemy (as in Revelation 12:9, “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray”) developed centuries later.

Well, aren’t you the cocky know-it-all? God is unjudgeable. God said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Here again, this is the Hypothetical God Fallacy. You don’t start with the assumption of God. An open-minded skeptic will consider religious claims on their evidence. We must evaluate the evidence as best we can; there is no other option. If God exists, what could please him more than that we use the brain he gave us to evaluate claims, not simply accept unevidenced nonsense because it’s convenient or pleasing?

 

As an aside, there were other versions of Christianity where the good guy wasn’t in control here on earth such as Marcionism and Gnosticism. This is also true for Apocalypticism, a strain of Judaism that influenced Christianity. These approaches neatly sidestep the Problem of Evil since adherents didn’t have to apologize for the crazy actions of the guy in charge.

The problem is the Christian refusal to admit that what God does is sometimes evil by any reasonable standard. I can see how this might’ve developed. Imagine a skeptic pressuring a Christian about slavery or genocide in the Bible, with the Christian responding, “Well, uh . . . whatever God does must be good. Yeah, that’s it—God’s actions are always good by definition!” But this unevidenced Band-Aid has consequences.

See also: And God is Not Good, Either

Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities
in every department of human life—
except religion.
— Christopher Hitchens

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Bob Jase
  • Priya Lynn

    Excellent post! Thanks for this.

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

      !

  • Tony D’Arcy

    “Well that about sums it up for God”

    (Douglas Adams)

  • Anthrotheist

    This also ties into the notion of God’s morality versus notions of “natural law” morality.

    If morality is dictated by “natural law” then we have an inborn moral compass. That morality is created by God, who is the ultimate incarnation of morality.

    It should be impossible for a human being, under the influence of “natural law”, to read anything in the Bible describing God’s actions and find any offense. Every act by God should feel right by default. We should never have to say something like “God has his own morality” or “God could easily have his own reasons for things that appear strange to us.” His actions, guided by his morality that he instilled in us, should always appear right to us.

    • Jack Baynes

      But, see, we’re poor fallen sinful people.
      Our fallen nature makes it impossible for us to appreciate the Goodness of murdering children. /s

  • alverant

    In the book of Numbers, God commands Moses to take the virgin girls of a conquered village as sex-slaves then slaughter everyone else. Can you trust a God like that when he says he made the universe and decrees what’s good and evil?

    • Chuck Johnson

      They thought that this was good advice.
      These were primitive people.

      • Carol Lynn

        They were not primitive people. That makes my brain hurt. We have better technology but that’s about it and thats not what you mean by saying they are ‘primitive.’ Biblical people were fully grown, competent, thoughtful adults with a rich and deep culture that just happened to condone genocide and enslaving out-group members as long as it was for their own group’s benefit. We have a different culture now that we can see is better for both our group and the other group – – no one ought to come along and kill or enslave us – – we ought not to kill or enslave them either! Reciprocity! We both win! (mostly – I’m looking at you, current majority in US Congress!) We are not so fundamentally different than people were in Biblical times to call them ‘primitive’ and implying that we are ‘advanced’.

        • Bob Jase

          You are absolutely correct – look how many people even today believe in invisible giant magicians who live in the sky.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Biblical people were fully grown, competent, thoughtful adults with a
          rich and deep culture that just happened to condone genocide and
          enslaving out-group members as long as it was for their own group’s
          benefit. -Carol Lynn

          Perpetrating genocide and slavery is what I mean when I say “primitive people”. They had a culture and a morality which was primitive.

          Our present-day cultures and moralities (in industrialized societies) are more advanced. Leaving behind slavery and genocide is a mark of such advancement.

          We have learned better moralities, and that makes us more advanced.

        • Carol Lynn

          I knew what you meant. I think you are wrong to categorize it that way.

        • Chuck Johnson

          But you are not categorizing it any other way.
          You just like to argue and boast.

        • Kevin K

          Chuck: You’re wrong. Carol’s right. Deal with it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I could say: Kevin: You’re wrong, I’m right. Deal with it.

          But I wont. – – – I know better than to say this.

        • Kevin K

          Of course you won’t. You’re going to continue down your ignorant path.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I could say: “Kevin,You’re going to continue down your ignorant path.”

          But I won’t. – – – I know better than to say this.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Kevin: You’re wrong. Chuck’s right. Deal with it.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I think you are wrong to categorize it differently from Mr. Johnson.

        • Chuck Johnson

          They most certainly were primitive people.
          Primitive lives, primitive culture, primitive morality.

          prim·i·tive
          ˈprimədiv/
          adjective
          1.
          relating to, denoting, or preserving the character of an early stage in the evolutionary or historical development of something.

        • Carol Lynn

          They had a more primitive technology in Biblical times. They were not culturally “primitive’. They had a full-fledged civilization. Study some anthropology.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You just like to argue.
          Your arrogance, ignorance and your dishonesty are showing.

        • Carol Lynn

          I’m arrogant? You’re the one who is calling civilized (using the anthropological definition. The culture had cities.) people ‘primitive’ as opposed to your own ‘advanced’ ideas.

          As long ago as 1958, anthropologists like Herskovits were pointing out that using ‘primitive’ to describe a culture “is obsolete and too weighed down with negative meaning to be useful or appropriate in any kind of scholarly setting.” I realize that you intended the word ‘primitive’ to have a negative connotation and I agree that genocide and slavery are activities that are rightly opposed by most people these days. Do you also routinely call the far-right portions of our own culture ‘primitive’? They are calling for genocide and are citing the same Biblical precepts you are calling ‘primitive’ to justify it.

        • Chuck Johnson

          I realize that you intended the word ‘primitive’ to have a negative connotation and I agree that genocide and slavery are activities that are rightly opposed by most people these days.-Carol Lynn

          No, I intended the word “primitive” to mean earlier, previous, old-fashioned etc. The negative connotations come from the actual politics that they engaged in.

        • Carol Lynn

          headdeskthud – ‘old fashioned” and “previous’ are not necessarily “primitive’. The old-fashioned and previous-era table manners of the Victorian age make us look without manners at all at dinner.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Look more closely.
          Extreme formality and complication might be part of a less advanced culture than our own. The extreme formality of royal courts is largely obsolete.

          Modern business, especially technology and internet-driven business has often given up the suit and tie for more informal clothing.

          These things had their usefulness at one time, but now we have other priorities.

        • Carol Lynn

          You are truly, amazingly, breathtakingly my-culture-centric. It’s late where I am. This isn’t worth getting too little sleep. I’m going to bed.

        • RichardSRussell

          Arithmetic is primitive compared to algebra, and that’s primitive compared to calculus. This uses “primitive” in the benign sense of “simpler” or “earlier” or “more foundational”. As is so often the case with semantics, disagreements arise when the same word means different things to different people.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Yes, “primitive” can conjure up (in some people’s minds) meanings such as: stupid, rickety, rudimentary, useless, etc.

          This is because the words that we use are seen in a variety of contexts.

          And that would be the way we invent dictionary definitions, by observing a large number of contexts where the word is typically used. From those observations, we can create the definition.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Chuck, I think you are on the right track.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Do you also routinely call the far-right portions of our own culture ‘primitive’? They are calling for genocide and are citing the same Biblical precepts you are calling ‘primitive’ to justify it.-Carol Lynn

          To call such people primitive would be to ignore the fact that they are modern contemporary people. Politicians might call them primitive as a way of exaggerating.

          To call their ideas primitive would be justified, and I might do that.

        • Chuck Johnson

          You’re the one who is calling civilized (using the anthropological definition. The culture had cities.) people ‘primitive’ as opposed to your own ‘advanced’ ideas.-Carol Lynn

          Refer to the dictionary definition that I gave earlier.
          There are primitive civilizations and advanced civilizations.

          Primitive means what the author intends it to mean. Watch out for context. And if context doesn’t properly explain, then ask a question.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You are showing the weaknesses of moral relativism.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Carol, they were morally primitive. Study some anthropology, philosophy, history, and psychology.

        • Carol Lynn

          Gee, too bad my anthropology and history degrees disappeared and no one told me. Maybe try for some reading comprehension . I am done with this discussion

        • Gary Whittenberger

          You must really like it when somebody makes a condescending remark to your condescending remark.

          Now, how do you like it when somebody makes a sarcastic remark to your sarcastic remark?

          Why can’t you carry on a serious discussion without condescension and sarcasm?

        • james warren

          They were profound writers. They were not parrots. Or memorizezrs.

          When I began to see what exactly was IN the text and what it meant to the first readers and listeners I was suddenly aware of their artistry and their poetic intelligence.

        • Chuck Johnson

          Their talents certainly did contribute to the success of the Bible.
          I expect that their writing skill was in reality, a longstanding oral tradition which finally got written down.

          As far as them being “not parrots or memorizers”, I expect that they were both. I imagine that the stories they told had been told for many generations, and gradually evolved with small changes with each retelling.

          So the stories that were told were actually the work of generation upon generation of storytellers who contributed to the process.

        • Chuck Johnson
        • james warren

          You are probably correct. There was no difference between culture and religion.

        • Greg G.

          Religion is a subset of culture. All religion is culture but not all culture is religion.

        • james warren

          During the time of the Bible it was impossible to separate religion and culture. Jews would have found that impossible to imagine.

        • Joe

          They were profound writers. They were not parrots. Or memorizezrs.

          We don’t know who or what they were.

          what it meant to the first readers and listeners

          How do you know what it meant to people long since dead?

        • james warren

          Today’s scholars use archaeology, deep textual study, ancient records of history, economics, sociology, anthropology, DNA studies, etc.

          We know Mark is the earliest gospel [according to a massive consensus of scholars] and we see how both Matthew and Luke followed Mark’s order of events yet both changed the details in Mark’s gospel to comport with
          their own agendas.

          There is also a sizable section in both Matthew and Luke that is not found anywhere else. This material is seen as another gospel of sayings only that pre-dates the New Testament gospels.

          If you read the New Testament in parallel instead of starting at the beginning and reading straight through, it is easy to pick out the separate agendas of the writers and trace them all the way through.

          There are “Parallel Bibles” you can buy that print all four gospels side-by-side for easy comparison and contrast.

          The names affixed to the gospels were made up long after the original manuscripts were found.

          Using historical tools, wider contexts can be revealed. This work helps us discover what the words meant to its original audience.

          There are many examples of this.

        • Greg G.

          The Gospel of John also used Mark as we can see traces of Mark’s literary devices in John. Mark wrote in chiasmus which creates the sandwiches that Mark is known for.

          One sandwich has Peter denying Jesus in the courtyard while Jesus is on trial being slapped around and ordered to “Prophesy!” while his prophecy that Peter would deny him is being fulfilled. John has the same sandwich but drops the order to prophesy and loses Mark’s irony.

          John used Mark differently than Matthew and Luke did. In the Feeding of the Five Thousand, John uses the elements of the story in the same order but has swapped out the key words for synonyms. But when John changed the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet in Bethany to Mary washing his feet in Bethany, he uses many of the same words and phrases.

          I think Matthew and Luke used John, too. The conundrum presented by John about Jesus being from Galilee when the scriptures said he was supposed to be a descendant of David and from Bethlehem required Matthew to create a genealogy and a nativity story to resolve it.

          John 7:41-42 (NRSV)
          41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”

          Luke seems to have thought Matthew did a horrible job of it (and I agree) so he created his own versions.

        • james warren

          You may be right.

          Christianity has always been a developing tradition.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          But their morality was primitive compared to the prominent moralities of today. For example, look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is certainly an improvement.

        • james warren

          Jesus was ahead of his time.

        • adam
        • james warren

          The billboard shows me that Jesus does not walk his talk. Besides, Jesus was telling a parable–not advocating beating slaves.

          Well after Jesus died, the early faith had to make its peace with Rome and so a portion of the gospels are more Caesar than Jesus.

          Aside from that, the Jews–even the population of the nation of Israel–were slaves.

          Here is an example of a scholarly paper on the parable:

          http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/at/v36s23/07.pdf

        • Greg G.

          I don’t see where that article addresses the beatings part of the passage, which is what is on the billboard

          Luke 10:1 – 18:14 follows the topics of Deuteronomy. Luke 12:35-53 follows Deuteronomy 13:1-11 on severe punishments. Luke relies on Matthew many times in chapter 12.

          The part about punishing the slave who should have known comes from:

          Deuteronomy 25:2 (NRSV)2 If the one in the wrong deserves to be flogged, the judge shall make that person lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of lashes proportionate to the offense.

          The part about the slave inadvertently failing comes from:

          Leviticus 5:17-19 (NRSV)17 If any of you sin without knowing it, doing any of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, you have incurred guilt, and are subject to punishment. 18 You shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, or the equivalent, as a guilt offering; and the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the error that you committed unintentionally, and you shall be forgiven. 19 It is a guilt offering; you have incurred guilt before the Lord.

        • james warren

          I know that as a Jew who prayed the Shema every day, Jesus teachings had plenty of resonances with the stories in the Hebrew Bible. I don’t see parables as factually correct stories. If you stopped at the Jericho Police Station, you would not find a report of a man who was beaten and robbed along the Jericho Road as told in the Samaritan parable.

        • Greg G.

          The Good Samaritan story comes from 2 Chronicles 28:15. But the parable where the slaves get beaten is perfectly legal, as in Leviticus 25:44-46. Exodus 21:20-21 says it is legal to beat a slave to death, as long as the slave suffers a day or two before dying, and the only punishment is the loss of the slave. I think dying after sunset might qualify as the next day, though.

          But Luke has Jesus not seeing anything wrong with beating slaves in this parable. It is like “Do unto others…” gets a new clause, “unless you own the other person.”

        • james warren

          Again, in my view a parable is a puzzling story with metaphor and a narrative that stands on its own. Jesus tells many parables about cruel, unforgiving, murderous managers AND slaves.

          Jesus is pointing to something and it is useful to look at what he is pointing to, rather than get transfixed by his pointing finger.

          Human life was not worth too much in biblical times. Everyone knew this. And the violence employed in Jesus’ parables was accepted because it was a constant danger.

        • adam

          “Jesus is pointing to something and it is useful to look at what he is
          pointing to, rather than get transfixed by his pointing finger.”

          Yes, the beating of ignorant or innocent slaves… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc08e92607fbb10ca5d9fec66168d9bf582a2748fa716fdb4283c37e046c25e1.jpg

        • james warren

          Slaves were killed and beaten. But not all.

          When God is suddenly sanctioning the idea that his own people will be taught to make their own slaves, it seems the Jews needed some extra help and let God take the blame.

        • adam
        • james warren

          I have no use for childishly profane disrespect.

          Next time, simply say “I don’t believe what you posted. Would you be willing to explain what you mean again and explain it in a different way?”

        • Greg G.

          Then Jesus was not an advanced thinker after all. The best stuff attributed to him came from Rabbi Hillel, the Stoics, and the Cynics, first.

        • james warren

          I have no way of knowing what he thought.

          “Jesus was a peasant. But he was undeniably brilliant.
          His use of language was remarkable and poetic, filled with images and stories. He had a metaphoric mind. He was not an ascetic, but world-affirming, with a zest for life. There was a sociopolitical passion to him – like a Gandhi or a Martin Luther King, he challenged the domination system of his day. He was a religious ecstatic, a Jewish mystic, for whom God was an experiential reality. As such, Jesus was also a healer. And there seems to have been a spiritual presence around him, like that reported of St. Francis or the Dalai Lama.

          “And I suggest that, as a figure of history, Jesus was an ambiguous figure – you could experience him and conclude that he was insane, as some of his family did; or that he was simply eccentric or that he was a dangerous threat; or that he was filled with the Spirit of God.”

          –William Lane Craig

        • Greg G.

          Jesus is no more eloquent than the words placed in his mouth by the authors.

        • james warren

          I cannot imagine his chroniclers had the same parabolic imagination and Jewish/Galilean sensibilities that Jesus did.

          History informs faith.

          The people of Galilee were the most religious Jews in the world in the time of Jesus. This is quite contrary to the common view that the Galileans were simple, uneducated peasants from an isolated area. This perspective is probably due to the comments made in the Bible, which appear to belittle people from the region.

          The Galilean people were actually more educated in the Bible and its application than most Jews. More famous Jewish teachers come from Galilee than anywhere else in the world.

          They were known for their great reverence for Scripture and the passionate desire to be faithful to it.

          This translated into vibrant religious communities, devoted to strong families, their country, whose synagogues echoed the debate and discussions about keeping the Torah.

          They resisted the pagan influences of Hellenism far more than did their Judean counterparts.

          When the great revolt against the pagan Romans and their collaborators (66-74 AD) finally occurred, it began among the Galileans.

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

          A figure of history? Jesus was a figure of literature. Undeniably brilliant? How would we know since we only have stories passed along orally for decades and then written down in books that have been copied so many times and “improved” in unknown ways that we can’t be certain what the original said.

          That might give a hint about what I think of WL Craig’s scholarship.

        • james warren

          I concur. Craig is anathema to me. Another self-identified Christian who is afraid of the modern world.

          I definitely wrongly attributed the quote to him. He would NEVER say anything like that. But like all of us on this forum, he helps expand the pool of meaning, even though his conclusions and methods are meaningless to me.

          Your personal interpretations of Jesus are noted.

          It would be a true day of rejoicing if we found a hidden bit of parchment that definitively proved Jesus was a myth and created out of whole cloth.

          A time for singing, holding hands and dancing around the pagan maypole. 😉

        • Joe

          Human life was not worth too much in biblical times. Everyone knew this.

          What has changed, fundamentally, in all this time?

        • james warren

          https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/04/15/the-decline-war-and-violence/lxhtEplvppt0Bz9kPphzkL/story.html

          We are stuck with each other.

          Just like two inmates in a single cell or the two heads of Siamese twins, we are being forced to come up with non-violent strategies for collaborative problem-solving and better communication models.

          Children are being taught non-violent communication, mediation and negotiation skills.

          We are coming to suspect that war does not keep u s safe at all. Sometimes I would rather be ruled by sixth graders:

          http://worldpeacegame.org

          “The World Peace Game is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. As ‘nation teams,’ students will gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.”

        • adam

          I understand the parable.

          An excellent time to reinforce the slavery that he sanctioned as ‘his father’

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

          “Jews–even the population of the nation of Israel–were slaves.”

          Citation needed

          History doesnt agree with you.

          http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-jewish-thinker/were-jews-ever-really-slaves-in-egypt-or-is-passover-a-myth-1.420844

        • james warren

          The Jews were put into slavery throughout their history. The conquering kings, the exodus, the Babylonian captivity, the violence, the destruction of their temple, the Roman/Jewish War, the intimidations and the humiliations….

          The Jews were slaves and when they were not they were treated like slaves.

        • adam

          The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt.
          read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-jewish-thinker/were-jews-ever-really-slaves-in-egypt-or-is-passover-a-myth-1.420844

        • james warren

          You gave me a link to an article on http://www.haaretz.com. The article was a political essay. Right above that essay are three links. One of those links is titled “Were Jews Ever Slaves in Egypt. Yes.”

          Clicking on that link is a semi-scholarly history-based article that proves my point.

          But that’s only ONE article. There are perfectly valid arguments that they were not slaves and were not as persecuted as the Bible and common knowledge says they were.

        • james warren

          You’re making me confused. First you indicate that Jews were never slaves and that history does not agree with me.

          Then you provide me with a link that plainly asks the question and then answers it:

          “Were Hebrews Ever Slaves in Ancient Egypt? Yes.”

          So I am not sure as to what you are trying to communicate here.

        • adam

          You obviously didnt read the article

          “The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt.
          read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/the-jewish-thinker/were-jews-ever-really-slaves-in-egypt-or-is-passover-a-myth-1.420844

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I agree that Jesus was ahead of his time, but now he is behind the times. He is primitive by today’s standards.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope, adon’t think so…Jesus is cobbled together from older ideas from other earlier writings from hither and tither, then the myth embellished by later creative writing.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I don’t know which of my two claims you are disagreeing with, the first or the second.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t mind me…a was being a wee bit facetious.

          Jesus wasn’t anything. His story might have been. But when the story is drawn from all over the place from older stories, even then it doesn’t make it ahead of its time.

          The story is definitely behind for its time by today’s standards. Even the Golden Rule is jaded. Primitive indeed. One would think an omniscience could construct a story that could stand the test of time.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Ok, so you agree with my second claim, but disagree with my first.

          I think Jesus was ahead of his time mainly because, for the most part, he favored and promoted a nonaggressive approach to opponents and a charitable approach to the poor and infirm.

          Of course, I do not believe Jesus was divine in any way. He was just another man, a little ahead of his time in morality, but still behind today’s most advanced moralities.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But you are working on the assumption that the guy in the NT actually said and did the things written about him later. The evidence to support such an assumption is unconvincing to non existent.

          The morality to which is attributed to the teachings of Jesus are not original to the character…and you are forgetting all the immorality attributed to him too.

          Eternal damnation in Hell for minor thought crimes.

          http://www.bandoli.no/whyimmoral1.htm

        • Gary Whittenberger

          Yes, we are judging the behaviors of the character, as described in the NT.

          No, I am not forgetting the immorality which many people attribute to him. He was still ahead of his time in terms of morality. You are forgetting the prevalent morality of Jesus’ time.

          Telling somebody they are going to Hell (which doesn’t exist, does it?) is much less harmful than crucifying somebody for no good reason.

        • james warren

          I see it differently.

          Primitive, because today’s church has wrapped him up in primitive robes and seems afraid of letting him speak for himself.

          Nonviolence, a God of mercy, hospitality & celebration outside of our peer group, social activism, anti-tribalism, a knowledge and appreciation of our world’s flora and fauna, radical forgiveness, a sense of divine grace that is available to all equally–basically a parabolic and poetic vision of what the world can be–have all earned their place in today’s global culture.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I see it differently. Jesus was primitive by the standards of today’s view of a correct universal morality.

          His views of mercy, radical forgiveness, and divine grace go against rational standards of justice.

        • james warren

          I don’t disagree with you.

          Jesus was disturbing–in his day and in ours.

          Today’s believers don’t mention Jesus’ teachings very often. The worship him as God so they can get into heaven–something Jesus never talked about much.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus doesn’t even think one should thank a slave:

          “Which of you, having a slave plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him at the end of the day, when he comes in from the field, ‘Go and sit down to eat?’ And would not rather say to him, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that, you may eat and drink’?

          Would you thank that slave because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise, when you have done all those things which are commanded, you should say, ‘We are unprofitable slaves: we have done only that which was our duty to do.’ ”
              –-Luke 17:7,10.

          Compare that attitude to what a first century Roman pagan said:

          ” ‘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, Epistulae Morales, 47.

          Jesus says thought crimes are as bad as actual acts. He equates anger to murder and lust to adultery.

        • james warren

          His unbelievable admonitions about heartfelt lust and anger anticipate possible unforseen consequences of human thought.

          Jesus was the man who told his listeners to actually “turn the other cheek.”

          “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”

          Imagine if one’s opponent strikes a blow with their right fist at your face, which cheek would it land on? It would be the left.

          It is the wrong cheek in terms of the text we are looking at. Jesus says, “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek…” I could hit you on the right cheek if I used a left hook, but that would be impossible in Semitic society because the left hand was used only for unclean tasks.

          You couldn’t even gesture with your left hand in public. The only way you could be hit you on the right cheek would be with the back of the hand.

          The back of the hand is not a blow intended to injure. It is a symbolic blow. It is intended to put you back where you belong.

          It is always from a position of power or superiority. The back of the hand was given by a master to a slave or by a husband to a wife or by a parent to a child or a Roman to a Jew in that period.

          What Jesus is saying is in effect, “When someone tries to humiliate you and put you down, back into your social location which is inferior to that person, and turn your other cheek.”

          Now in the process of turning in that direction, if you turned your head to the right, your opponent could no longer backhand you. Your nose is now in the way.

          Furthermore, you can’t backhand someone twice. It’s like telling a joke a second time. If it doesn’t work the first time, it has failed.

          By turning the other cheek, you are defiantly saying to the master, “I refuse to be humiliated by you any longer. I am a human being just like you. I am a child of God. You can’t put me down even if you have me killed.”

          This is clearly no way to avoid trouble. The master might have you flogged within an inch of your life, but he will never be able to assert that you have no dignity.

        • Greg G.

          No, it is not about humiliation, it’s about not seeking revenge. It is refuting the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Read it in context.

        • james warren

          It was putting one’s opponent in a different context altogether.

          Roman soldiers could use Jews to assist them in carrying supplies for them–but the rule was only for one mile only.

          In Matthew 5:41 Jesus says if you are forced to go one mile with a soldier’s heavy pack, then go two miles instead.

          This resulted in a dilemma.

          “Walk a second mile, surprising the occupation troops by placing them in jeopardy with their superiors. In short, take the law and push it to the point of absurdity. These are, of course, not rules to be followed legalistically, but examples to spark an infinite variety of creative responses in new and changing circumstances. They break the cycle of humiliation with humor and even ridicule, exposing the injustice of the system. They recover for the poor a modicum of initiative that can force the oppressor to see them in a new light.”
          –WALTER WINK

          As I was saying before, the New Testament quote from Jesus deliberately says “…if anyone slaps you on the RIGHT cheek….”

          This is radical street theater that packs a hidden dislocation of the status quo.

          In a two-garmet society, giving someone your cloak as well when someone has taken your shirt would leave you naked.

          Not the best courtroom decorum during a lawsuit judgement.

          And looking upon a person naked brought shame upon the person who looked. The culture was based on an honor/shame model.

          http://bibleodyssey.org/tools/ask-a-scholar/honor-and-shame-in-the-new-testament.aspx

        • Ignorant Amos

          So was Sherlock Holmes….and a lot more useful.

        • Gary Whittenberger

          I disagree with your claim here. They were primitive with respect to “correct universal morality.” Moral progress is real. See Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” or Michael Shermer’s book “The Moral Arc.”

    • james warren

      “What God says” is always filtered through a particular culture of believers whom we must not forget are human beings.

  • Jason

    You are all blasphemous sinners! Down to Hades, down to Hades you shall go!

    I’m totally kidding. Another great post, keep up the good work.

  • Otto

    ‘We can’t judge God’… is the Christian mantra

    but they judge God all the time, they just judge him good. If they truly were not judging God they would hold no opinion one way or the other.

    • Chuck Johnson

      Not only that, they are constantly choosing which God-things they want to be part of and which ones they will ignore.

      It is very important to Christians to be very self-unaware.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Well said. Another inversion is the idea that god’s perfection/power/intelligence moves god beyond judgement when the complete opposite is true. As any Spiderman fan knows, greater power entails more responsibility, not less.

      • Otto

        And power in and of itself is not a basis for claiming to be right, unless it is God we are talking about.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yeah, all the rationalizations about authority and dominance and having granted us life become really monstrous when presented in a parent/child context. As far as I can tell, there are only two possible responses:

          1) Pretend god being greater than a parent doesn’t somehow make the behavior even worse.

          2) Make god completely unknowable while pretending this doesn’t sacrifice other arguments that depend on him being knowable.

          I’ve yet to encounter a rebuttal that didn’t take either of these approaches.

        • Otto

          Me either.

          And parents try to raise their kids to be equals one day and expect/hope that their child will meet or exceed the abilities of the parent. Christianity is about keeping us perpetually children.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          This is a great, great point. The implications are widespread, so it’s surprising that it doesn’t get brought up much when discussing apologetics.

        • james warren

          So does anything that is taught by so-called authority figures–whether parents or school teachers.

        • Otto

          The point flew over your head

        • james warren

          I am brain damaged or you did not communicate that point in a way that could be easily understood. Or most probably, both.

        • Otto

          I distinguished the difference between the a parent raising a child the be an adult and an equal and the metaphorical use of the Christian God as a parent keeping his ‘children’ perpetually ‘children’. If you missed that it is nobody’s fault but your own.

  • Jack Baynes

    I like to say, that if there WAS a Lord of Lies such as Satan, it would be a GREAT trick for him to write a jumbled mess of a holy book like the Bible and say it was the inerrant word of God.

    • Otto

      I agree, that was a thought I had when I was still a Christian.

      But even better, write 3 books based off of the same God, make them compete with each other and war over thousands of years. Pure genius.

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

        Thomas Paine said that the acts described to God in the Bible were better called those of a demon.

        • Jason

          And Thomas Paine was right!

        • james warren

          Thomas Jefferson said “The church’s meddlings have caused good men to reject the whole in disgust.”

      • Wussypillow

        Boccaccio had a similar idea almost 600 years ago. I think it’s the third story in The Decameron.

  • skl

    It seems the Christian god does both bad and good or at least allows both bad and good.
    Kind of like us.
    Maybe that’s what it means when it says he made man in his image and likeness.

    • Joe

      It seems the Christian god does both bad and good or at least allows both bad and good.

      Supposedly. Though it depends on which theists you ask.

      Maybe that’s what it means when it says he made man in his image and likeness.

      No, that passage was part of a story attempting to explain man’s origins, and also give us some kind of special significance. It shouldn’t be taken literally.

      • Chuck Johnson

        It shouldn’t be taken literally.-Joe

        But we can take it literally if we simply invert it:
        Man made God in their own image and likeness.

  • Chuck Johnson

    I respond to the Design Argument, which says that life on earth is so complicated that it must be designed, . . . -Bob

    This is largely a matter of narrow-mindedness and semantics.

    Life on Earth really is designed. Since it has many designs, then it is designed.
    That’s one way to define “designed”.

    Another way to define “designed” is “having designs created by a designer”.
    This also works for a scientific and naturalistic biology, but we must replace “a designer” with “many designers”.

    The Darwin-Wallace discovery shows us how countless chemical reactions, processes, influences and living organisms have all contributed to the present abundance of life-forms on Earth.

    The mistake of the monotheists is to attribute all life on earth to just one designer: God. The abiogenesis of life on Earth is far more interesting than God-did-it.

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

      Maybe I should add “designed … by a Designer.”

      • Chuck Johnson

        Yes, semantics often gets in the way of good communication in this type of controversy.

        Often to folks with a political agenda, the equivocation is intentional.

    • Jim Jones

      > The abiogenesis of life on Earth is far more interesting than God-did-it.

      I find abiogenesis far more believable/understandable than how sex started.

      • Chuck Johnson

        I find abiogenesis far more believable/understandable than how sex started.-Jim

        It might be that sex started with single-celled organisms.

        http://tinyurl.com/ycotqcxo

        Sexual reproduction is a huge survival adaptation. It allows a species to evolve much faster. This is due to a much larger pool of alleles being available.

        • Jim Jones

          Sure. But it is – weird. Still, considering we have incorporated bacteria etc into our genome (???) I guess weird things can happen.

        • Michael Neville

          I don’t know about bacteria but we’ve incorporated viruses into our genome. Many of the so-called “junk genes” are retroviruses which infected our ancestors.

        • Greg G.

          I recall reading long ago that the gene that allows placental embryos to implant without being rejected is borrowed from parasitic bacteria.

          Without that, our brain size would not be limited by the size of the birth canal and we would have a natural pouch to hold our cell phones.

    • ORigel

      I’m currently reading Dennett’s book From Bacteria to Bach and Back, and he argues that we should embrace the idea of design without an Intelligent Designer.

      • Chuck Johnson

        Thank you.
        And Dennett strikes me as being an especially insightful scientist and philosopher.

  • islandbrewer
  • epeeist

    Don’t know whether you are aware of the God of Eth.

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

      I’ll take a look, thanks.

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

    It seems that when people of other faiths pray, if they aren’t just believed to be imagining things, it’s Satan or a demon that answers by this logic. So they already must hold a position like this. How can they know that isn’t the case for them too without simply begging the question?

    Assuming whatever God does is good pretty much renders that term meaningless. It becomes completely arbitrary. Some theists bite the bullet and say this is the case, but not many. They are then left with the problem.

  • RichardSRussell

    By coincidence, the great webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (which fortunately comes out more often than just Saturday mornings) had a funny take on this exact issue today.

  • RichardSRussell

    For a really great fictional treatment of this idea, get hold of Harlan Ellison’s novelet “Deathbird”, probably most readily accessible in the anthology Deathbird Stories. It won the Hugo Award for 1974 and lo these 40+ years later remains one of the most memorable works of fantasy I’ve ever read.

    • Brad Feaker

      Love Harlan Ellison. Grew up reading him, Asimov, Clark and Heinlein. And “Deathbird” is an awesome story.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    Excellent article Bob.

    The Hypothetical God response is classic apologetics: shove god into the unknown and pretend that other arguments that require knowledge of him remain unblemished.

    Whenever I encounter this special pleading, I can’t help but wonder…. How would I discern between a benevolent god who commits apparently malevolent actions for unknown reasons and a malevolent god who commits apparently benevolent actions for unknown reasons? Or a completely disinterested god that just lets life play out unimpeded?

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

      … or no god at all?

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Absolutely, but sometimes I like to make unnecessary concessions just to show the argument still fails. :)

  • Melody

    I was often puzzled by those kinds of verses. I knew they existed even though they didn’t make much sense. It meant that Christianity was not dualistic – otherwise God and Satan would have been equal, but because they were not, it meant that God ultimately – if not actively being involved in it – at the very least tolerated it all. He could, after all, relatively easy defeat evil and Satan, yet he did not.

    He may have sent Jesus – after a few thousand years – but even then, He didn’t make that wonderous salvation the end of history either. We’re still here and evil/Satan still reigns…. It doesn’t make any sense, when you consider that God is supposed to be all-powerful. Why is the situation still such as it is, if He truly has that kind of power?

    The book of Job is very much this sort of weird chess game with human souls played by God and Satan – like they are buddies….

    God as evil can be the only answer – other then Him not existing at all – and I learnt only this week that that is called dystheism, as you mention. That it is also possible to be that. I think I very briefly was on my path to deconversion. I began to open my eyes to God not being as good as I thought and had been told, before I stopped believing in him alltogether.

    • Carol Lynn

      What benefit do you see from believing that a god exists who is basically neither powerful nor good? Does this er… puny god want to be worshipped? Are you a monotheist dystheist so the only god you recognize is this maybe good/maybe evil one? Does that make life as if we all must be dealing with a bad boss in a job no one can quit? On a, “yeah, my boss reduces me to tears a lot and can be a PITA to work for. Everyone hates it here because the boss can randomly make life a living hell but I could get a raise and an attaboy some day, maybe. I’d quit but I’ve got a mortgage and the job market is really tight. It’s still better than being unemployed. Maybe I should leave a present on the boss’s desk so the boss looks favorably on me this week.” basis? Or is your dytheistic god more a polytheistic religions’ ‘trickster’ god – I’m thinking Loki or Coyote – who can do either good or bad things but where you also have other gods in a pantheon who can mitigate the effects or can be appealed to.

      Sorry for the questions. I feel like I am JACing off when I am really just curious as to why dystheism is better/more believable than atheism for you. I’ll accept whatever say, because, hey, your journey, but I don’t see any advantage either spiritually or practically from dystheism and, as I said, I’m curious. Feel free to ignore me if you like.

      • Melody

        I’m not a dystheist. I’m an atheist. Just before I became an atheist I began to realize that God wasn’t as good as I thought and that was a catalyst to ultimately become an atheist.

        That means that I technically may have been a dystheist for a brief period, between being an Evangelical and eventually becoming an atheist. During my deconversion process.

        So I agree with you, I don’t see any good in being a dystheist. Of course, that’s what the dys- already sort of refers to to begin with, just like in a dystopia.

        I was relating some of the arguments that you can make that the God in the Bible is not good – He is powerful and yet does not stop evil. Therefore if one should believe in Him, that might make someone a dystheist. That was sort of what I tried to describe in my post.

        • Carol Lynn

          Thank you so much for the explanation.

        • ORigel

          If the Christian God was proven to exist, I’d be a dystheist. And probably a misotheist too.

    • Otto

      My 6th grade teacher (a Nun) said that Satan couldn’t do anything God did not let him do. She apparently didn’t think through the implications of that statement, it was not lost on me, though it did take some time before I realized what the ramifications of what that concept logically meant.

      • Jim Jones

        > She apparently didn’t think through the implications of that statement

        Or maybe she did and was a saboteur.

        • Otto

          No, she was not doing that. She was a real ball busting old school Nun.

        • Jim Jones

          I just watched a few minutes of “Angels in the Outfield” where the nuns are scoffing at the idea of angels!

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

      Revelation says what’s going to happen, so within the Christian mind, there is no suspense: this God/Satan battle will be the most lopsided battle ever.

      Why then would Satan play the game? He’s read Revelation. This is point #87 in how the Bible is a stupid book.

      • Otto

        Satan is to God

        Like the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters

      • Melody

        Yes, the Bible never explain that, does it? Why Satan would go along with it all. Apparently according to the Bible, having his share of souls to feed on in his fiery lake – probably to barbecue them, is quite enough for him. /s
        Suddenly he gave up on being God himself it seems…. As long as he’s not lonely in hell.

        • Bob Jase

          Who says Satan is going along with it all?

          Jesus supposedly said he’d be back within the lifetime of at least some of his followers. He wasn’t. Maybe Satan has caused Jesus’ plans to be screwed.

        • Melody

          That would sure explain a thing or two…. Like the angel that was stopped by a demon before he/she/it could visit Daniel. 😉

          I like this theory…. :)

    • ORigel

      Dystheism does not necessarily mean belief in an evil god. It means belief in a god who isn’t good (and possibly evil).

  • Klapaucius

    “maybe the guy in charge is just a well-meaning but imperfect craftsman”

    Whenever anyone drags out the “fine-tuning” argument, I get this image of God as a Rube Goldberg type character, fiddling away on his Acme Universe Creating Machine (Patent Pending), trying to get the settings right on all the fundamental physical constants.

    Given that he has supposed to have already created a “spiritual” world already occupied with angels, a world apparently exempt from all these onerous “fine-tuning” requirements, you have to wonder why he bothered to make another one.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      This is a creative way of illustrating one of the flaws of the Teleological Argument. The spiritual realm’s likely exemption from fine tuning requirements, as well as god’s supposed omnipotence mean the constants of this universe are arbitrary and impossible to derive meaningful conclusions from.

      With the anthropocentrism properly unveiled, the argument becomes:

      P1: We’re here.
      P2: We’re awesome and important.
      P3: We’re so awesome and important as to require super special creation.
      C: Therefore god.

      I can’t be the only one starting to lose conviction in his atheism!

      • Klapaucius

        I’d be a lot more impressed with the “fine tuning” argument if modern physics showed that it was _impossible_ for the universe to exist given the values of the fundamental physical constants it has discovered.

        In that situation some variation of God’s Sustaining Hand™ would become more plausible.

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

          Good point. This is largely Sean Carroll’s argument. He says that the constants could be anything, and God could still create life. He’s magic, after all. That we do indeed have life-supporting constants says that we don’t need God to sustain life.

      • Michael Neville

        That’s a variant of the Strong Anthropomorphic Principle, which boils down to: The universe was created to allow me to exist because I am the center of the universe.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yup, which is why Fine Tuning is hopelessly flawed. It begs the question by presuming the intentionality it is ostensibly trying to demonstrate.

      • Jim Jones
    • Kevin K

      Of course, the fine tuning argument really boils down to this kind of thing.

      There is a god whose divine purpose is to inhabit heaven with human souls. In order to do that, god “fine tuned” the universe in the following manner:
      1. 14.7 billion years ago, started the universe with a Big Bang.
      2. 4.7 billion years ago, ensured that at least 2 stars died, one in a supernova, so that our solar system would come into existence with the heavy elements required for human life.
      3. 4 billion years ago, organized carbon-based heat sinks into single-celled “living” things, and made sure that single-celled organisms were the only life forms for a billion years or so.
      4. For the next couple billion years after that, organized those living things into multicellular organisms that were completely and totally dependent on salt water in which to live.
      5. About 450 million years ago, saw to it that some of those multicellular organisms went to dry land.
      6. 75 million years ago, pointed a giant fuck-ton asteroid at the Earth to kill the fucking dinosaurs . Dinosaurs…fuck them!
      7. For the next 74 million years or so, made sure that the mammals evolved so that ape species would one day appear on the savanna.
      8. For the last million years or so, intelligently ensured some of those ape species would become bipedal, have fine-motor skills, the ability to articulate speech, and get increasingly larger brains.
      9. Kill off the ape species with the largest brain capacity. Neanderthals…fuck them!
      10. 100,000 to 50,000 years or so ago, start endowing the smartest ape species left after the Neanderthals with “souls”. But since there was no Jesus, all of those souls were sent to hell.
      11. 2000 years ago, sent Jesus to earth so he could temporarily “die” in order that human souls could be allowed into heaven. But only those souls that believe the universe was fine-tuned for human souls to come into existence. The rest of them go to hell. Buddhists…fuck them!

      • RichardSRussell

        Sure, the Universe was created just for us wonderful, swell, stupendous, God’s-own-image human beings. That’s why it’s 99.9999999999% empty space and took 13,820,000,000 years to produce glorious us, clearly the centerpiece of all creation.

        • MNb

          It’s more likely that the White House was created to provide a resting place for flies.

        • MR

          Define empty.

          Hey, Richard, are you still planning for Nebraska? I think I’m going to be in Grand Island for the apocalypse eclipse if you’re going to be in the area. Don’t know if you might be interested in meeting for coffee? Not really sure I’ll have the time myself, but maybe Bob could put us in touch and we can compare notes to see if it’s feasible.

        • Otto
        • RichardSRussell

          Got cousins in Omaha with whom I’ll be staying the nights before and after the big event, but thanks for the offer. I understand that every hotel and motel for miles in each direction of the path of totality took advantage of the occasion to raise their rates and are still full to bursting.

        • MR

          Yeah, was lucky to get a hotel when I did, and I did fairly early. I thought I was ahead of the wave, but only barely. Had to call around a bit to find a hotel. Will be flying in and out of Omaha, but won’t be spending any time there. Did you get any solar glasses? I bought a 20 pack on Amazon to share around. All part of the plan to infiltrate those pure, rural Christian minds with science. Bu-ah-ha-ha…!

        • RichardSRussell

          I got a 5-pack from GreatAmericanEclipse.com, 1 each for my wife and me and 3 for my cousins.

          Hey, anybody who’s reading this: Never stare directly at the Sun, even when it’s 99% covered by the Moon. The lens in your eye will focus those intense rays on your retina and sear the crap out of it, leaving you partially blind for life!

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

          thanks for the tip on the glasses.

          I’m going to the American Atheist conference (Charleston, SC), which will colocate with the eclipse in time and space.

        • Michael Neville

          Never stare directly at the Sun

          You never let us have any fun. :^þ

        • james warren

          “Never stare directly at the Son” ???

        • Kevin K

          No no. Not “us”. The souls who have died while believing in the Jesus story. Everything else is completely and utterly superfluous in the “fine tuning” way of thinking, including everything corporeal, and non-believing souls, which are treated worse than garbage. They’re not just discarded, they’re punished.

      • MNb
      • Jim Jones

        Why doesn’t the bible mention the Chicxulub crater impact?

        Or the Theia (planet) impact?

        Or the Missoula Floods

        Not recorded in history but in geology.

  • Kevin K

    Of course, you can cherry pick the bible to say anything you wish it to say.

    My favorite, which appears several times is “there is no god.”

    • RichardSRussell

      The Bible is the world’s longest-running, most widely respected, and least reliable Rorschach Test. You can look in it and see anything you want to see, find anything you want to find, justify any pre-ordained conclusion you prefer, or validate any prejudice — because the Bible has it all: love, hate; revenge, redemption; war, peace; slavery, freedom; humility, arrogance; kindness, cruelty; and, as Mark Twain observed, “upwards of a thousand lies”!

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

        Paradoxically, the contradictions in the Bible may have given it longevity. It means that as conditions change (slavery in and out of favor, for example), you can find Bible verses to show that it supports your worldview.

        • Jack Baynes

          Isn’t it convenient that after all these years, Christians finally interpret it properly?

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

          No matter where they are, they’re correct. Maybe it’s a fractal thing.

        • james warren

          The biggest mistake believers as well as atheists do is view the sacred metaphors and myths as literal & factually correct.

          We began with the Enlightenment to think that ancient peoples (“other” peoples) told dumb, literal stories that we were now smart enough to recognize as such.

          Not quite.

          Those ancient people told smart, metaphorical stories that we were now dumb enough to take literally

        • Jack Baynes

          Not really, even taken as metaphor, most of those stories are horrible

        • james warren

          Since for me Jesus is “the norm” of my Bible I am only interested in his parabolic teachings of the Kingdom of God ON EARTH.

          The Bible is a complex blend of remembered history, metaphor, myth and legend. It is a human product, written by many inspired people who lived in different times and in different geographical areas.

          So OF COURSE parts of it are indeed horrible. There were some pretty notable historical facts, myths developed from those facts, crises, conquering kings and Roman rule.

          But like I said, I remain intrigued bye Jesus’ vision. He was definitely pointing to something. It is just sad that many Christians have chosen to stare at his pointing finger instead.

        • james warren

          What is horrible about the Resurrection? Or Jesus’ virgin birth? Or the tearing of the curtain in the temple?

          All these are all metaphors.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not to almost every Christian they aren’t.

          Metaphors for what?

          How do you know?

        • james warren

          Historical and cultural/religious context are helpful.

          The moment Jesus dies the curtain in the temple tears in half. Since curtains do not tear in two by themselves, there is something else going on.

          Jewish history informs us that every temple and synagogue had a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies [which was believed to be the actual presence of God] from the priest and the congregation. This meant that the rent in the curtain automatically meant there were no more mediators between human beings and the divine.

          Access to God for everyone–not just the priestly class.

          The resurrection? No one, anywhere, or any time causes dead people to arise from their graves and walk upright, walk around, speak and eat. So what is going on?
          Must be another metaphor.

          In my view, the resurrection was true, but it had nothing to do with Jesus’ body. It simply meant that the power and presence of Jesus was still available to his followers after his death.

          Virgin women do not and cannot have babies. But Jesus’ so-called “virgin birth” has to be a metaphor. Virgin births were common in ancient times. In fact, long after Jesus lived a pagan Roman and an early Christian theologian were arguing by way of letters about this very matter.

          Both the Roman and the Christian did not deny that virgin births took place. But the Roman was ready to deny Jesus’ virgin birth or take it seriously because Jesus was not from a royal bloodline. He was a peasant nobody from upper Galilee. At least Caesar was of kingly birth and deserved to be virgin-born.

          Of course the Christian [Justin Martyr] was arguing for this new character who was looked down on by the empire.

          The virgin birth says nothing about the condition of Mary’s hymen, but had everything to do with the importance of Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The moment Jesus dies the curtain in the temple tears in half. Since curtains do not tear in two by themselves, there is something else going on.

          The story doesn’t say it split in two by itself though, does it?

          Whether the curtain split in two by itself is neither here nor there. It was the supernatural display it was meant to invoke, that was impressive. Metaphors don’t cut it for the same effect.

          The symbolism of the curtain is not in question. It’s whether it is a metaphor or believed to be an actual event. Matthew thought it was one of four signs, therefore not a metaphor, but a supernatural occurrence. Hebrews describes an actual event. The reason it isn’t a metaphor and believed to be an actual supernatural event is obvious. Was the accompanying earthquake also a metaphor.

          Ditto the Resurrection. Why make excuses to account for why the tomb was empty.Matthew raises the stolen body hypothesis only to refute it. A miracle isn’t a metaphor. It has to be believed to have happened to be impressive. The whole narrative makes no sense as a metaphor.

          The virgin birth malarkey could very well be a mistranslated word faux pas that stuck. Or just a misinterpretation gaff.

          https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/virginprophecy.html

        • james warren

          Virgin births were not unheard of during Jesus’ day.
          Christian apologists claimed Jesus had a virgin birth. Pagans argued back that Jesus could not have been born of a virgin because he was not of royal birth.

          The empty tomb was only one tradition. The earliest New Testament writings come from Paul and his letters show no knowledge of that tradition.

          Among most, Resurrection means that Jesus rose from the grave after being tortured and killed after three days.

          I see it as a metaphor. I don’t see it as literal. No one brings people back to life after being dead three days.

          Christians largely see it as literal.

          If a biblical story had been created, then what was its purpose?

          Its message or its meaning?

          If it was history, that might be explanation enough. If it was parable, the explanation is only beginning.

          First, we have to ask if it was intended as fact or fiction, and, if as fiction, what its purpose was.

          Was it a pure entertainment or a teaching device?

          A parable a fictional story with a theological punch, a made-up tale that kicks you in the ass when you aren’t looking.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Virgin births were not unheard of during Jesus’ day.

          I know…that’s why it was no big deal fr the author Matthew to fuck up the translation and Luke to copy him.

          Christian apologists claimed Jesus had a virgin birth.

          I know…they read it in some of the early scriptures.

          Pagans argued back that Jesus could not have been born of a virgin because he was not of royal birth.

          Who gives a fuck? We already know some Pagans were not wearing the nonsense, otherwise they would have converted, as indeed many did, otherwise Christianity would be. Paul wrote that Jesus was born of the seed of David…the authors of Matt and Luke decided to incorporate a fucked up genealogy to ratify royal descent…obviously forgetting the elephant in the room.

        • james warren

          What I hear you saying is that you don’t really care much about anything I post.

          If you could have been honest and simply said that [without childish lewdness and disrespect], we might have saved ourselves a lot of time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The empty tomb was only one tradition. The earliest New Testament writings come from Paul and his letters show no knowledge of that tradition.

          I know…weird isn’t it? It’s almost as if the earliest writer knew nothing about a tomb…like as in, it didn’t happen. I’ve already said, Paul makes no reference to a physical person on Earth Jesus. The empty tomb is a later invention to display a miracle. But not a metaphor. No need to put guards on a metaphor.

        • Greg G.

          No need to put guards on a metaphor.

          I hope to remember that one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Aye…it might have been a metaphor in Paul, though Docherty and Carrier think not, as ya know. But by the time the gospels are being concocted it is meant to be a supernatural event, like the other resurrection myths it parallels. It doesn’t work as a metaphor…that’s not how the miraculous impresses.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Among most, Resurrection means that Jesus rose from the grave after being tortured and killed after three days.

          I know…stupid isn’t it? It wasn’t even three days ffs.

          I see it as a metaphor. I don’t see it as literal. No one brings people back to life after being dead three days.

          I know…believing in miracles and the supernatural are stupid right? You get round this by thinking everything is a metaphor for something else. But Christians, by and large, don’t think like that.

          If you want to believe in a metaphor, grab a tree to hug and knock yourself out. As long as your crap doesn’t impact on my crap, I could give zero fucks. It is all those other cretins out there that believes the other stuff and can’t keep it to themselves are the ones that grip my shit.

          Christians largely see it as literal.

          I know…silly bastards…right? It’s those eejits that are the problem…and the other problem is, they have every right to call your views as those of a kook too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A parable a fictional story with a theological punch, a made-up tale that kicks you in the ass when you aren’t looking.

          To you it is…to me it’s all a loada ballix.

        • Greg G.

          Virgin births were not unheard of during Jesus’ day.
          Christian apologists claimed Jesus had a virgin birth. Pagans argued back that Jesus could not have been born of a virgin because he was not of royal birth.

          That comes from the Greek Christians who read teh Septuagint version of Isaiah 7:14, which uses the word for virgin. The Masoretic text uses a word for “young woman” which may or may not be a virgin as the word has no connotation regarding sexual status. Masoretic Isaiah refers to young women five times and this is the only time he does not use the Hebrew word that is specifically about a virgin.

          The empty tomb was only one tradition. The earliest New Testament writings come from Paul and his letters show no knowledge of that tradition.

          Among most, Resurrection means that Jesus rose from the grave after being tortured and killed after three days.

          It isn’t a metaphor, it is a fictional story. Isaiah 53 has the Suffering Servant buried with the rich and implies that he is in heaven as an intercessor, which implies resurrection. Hosea 6:2 implies resurrection on the third day.

          The early Christians were reading the Old Testament as “hidden mysteries” (Romans 16:25-26). The Jews had hoped for the Messiah for about a century and a half. Someone, probably Cephas, started reading the OT under a new midrashic formula as “hidden mysteries”. they literally thought the Messiah would come to their generation to rid them of the Romans.

          When that generation died off, the Christians had to re-evaluate but, even to this day, they keep expecting, and hoping for, the Lord to come before they die. Every now and then, a Harold Camping comes along.

        • james warren

          “…the Christians had to re-evaluate but, even to this day, they keep expecting, and hoping for, the Lord to come before they die….”

          If Jesus comes back today, I need to tell you this conversation has to come to an end.

        • Greg G.

          Ugh. Phone and internet not working well. It had about a 10 second lag between typing and display and it didn’t let me know it had posted.

        • Greg G.

          All Christians expect they would be taken but most would say you would be one that Jesus would “i never knew you.”

        • james warren

          The best thing I like about getting criticism is that there’s always a bit of truth in it.

          Jesus never knew me and I never knew him. I only know my interpretation of him and that is always fluid.

        • james warren

          There is surely no textual evidence that God or Jesus split the curtain.

        • james warren

          Context–social, cultural, religious and historical–are helpful in knowing what metaphors are really talking about.

        • Greg G.

          Many Christians insist that Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor.

        • james warren

          I don’t disagree. There are a plethora of different theologies as well as a plethora of biblical historians. I suppose it would have been a boring world otherwise. 😉

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

          Sure, I can see them as literature, but most Christians don’t. In fact, I think they’d say that anyone who rejects the Resurrection as a historical event isn’t a Christian.

        • james warren

          I know. I believe in the Resurrection–I just don’t think it has to do with Jesus’ body.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All these are all metaphors.

          Yeah, we know they didn’t happen…it’s the millions of TrueChristians™ that ya need to convince. You’ve got your work cut out for you in that respect.

          Resurrection.

          Dogma 100. On the third day after His Death Christ rose gloriously from the dead.

          Jesus virgin birth.

          Dogma’s 103-107…

          103. Mary was conceived without stain of Original sin.
          104. Mary conceived by the Holy Ghost without the co-operation of man.
          105. Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity.
          106. Also after the Birth of Jesus Mary remained a Virgin.
          107. Mary was a Virgin before, during and after the Birth of Jesus Christ.

        • james warren

          I disagree. Metaphors point to a deeper truth.

        • Susan

          Metaphors point to a deeper truth.

          All we can say is that metaphors point to something else.

          Animal Farm is one example.

          Mein Kampf is another.

          Metaphors are a technique.

          “Truth” is not necessarily the end.

          Define “deeper truth”.

        • MR

          All we can say is that metaphors point to something else.

          They can just as easily point to “deeper lies” or mundane nothings.

        • james warren

          I see it differently. Animal Farm points to the authority of state power.

          To me, Mein Kampf is simply a political treatise.

          In my view, the word technique is more tied to rationalism and science. Metaphor is in a different domain.

          “Deeper truth” is simply a way to describe a truth that is hidden from everyday events. Much like “the Earth is turning toward the sun instead of saying the “sun is rising.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Deeper truth” is simply a way to describe a truth that is hidden from everyday events. Much like “the Earth is turning toward the sun instead of saying the “sun is rising.”

          It’s tantamount to talking in riddles, where there is no justification. A deity has no need of such enigmatic means of communication. It’s absolute ballix.

        • Susan

          I see it diferently. Animal Farm points to the authority of state power.

          Using metaphors.

          To me, Mein Kampf is simply a political treatise.

          Which uses metaphors.

          My point was very simple. A metaphor points to something else.

          There is no reason to think it necessarily points to a “deeper truth”.

          That’s an assertion without support and countless examples against.

        • james warren

          I believe “Animal Farm” is an allegory.
          To a child it is a curious tale about farm animals that talk.

          To use Aesop’s Fables as an example…
          Could animals talk in ancient Greece?
          Or did a Greek named Aesop only believe they did?

          Animals speak in those stories.

          We accept today that animals can’t speak now, but we can’t prove they couldn’t in ancient Greece.

          To debate whether they could or could not may be fascinating, but it obscures the real point and moral messages Aesop was trying to convey.

          Jesus and the Gospels similarly used fables and parables to convey a truth.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And how does that comment address my point that we atheists know those events never happened, and that you have no chance of convincing most Christians that they didn’t either, but are metaphorical?

        • james warren

          I have noticed that many atheists take seriously Christian claims so they can interpret them as nonsense.

        • Greg G.

          Most Christians make the claims seriously. We interpret them the way they are meant.

          I think the metaphor is what you read into it, not what was intended when it was written.

        • james warren

          I am understanding you to mean “interpreting them the way they are meant” by Christians today. Is that correct?

          First, I endeavor to read the verse or passage so that I know what is actually IN the text.

          Then I try and find out what the original authors intended and how their listeners or readers saw the passage.

          Finally I try to make sense of the entire thing in the world today–in the present.

          As long as there is a clear difference between interpretation and intention I usually opt for the original aim.

          Many times this is not easy at all.

        • james warren

          “We interpret them the way they are meant.”
          +++++++++++++++
          BZZZZZT !!! Arrogance Alert!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Perhaps that is because fuckwit Christians take their nonsense claims seriously.

          What Christian claims are not nonsense…am likely to agree at least some of them?

        • james warren

          Since no one can make a tortured dead body rise, walk around, eat after being three days dead, the Resurrection cannot be taken literally.

          Metaphorically, it simply means Jesus’ early followers felt his power and presence even after he died.

          If you don’t believe that, it’s okay.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Since no one can make a tortured dead body rise, walk around, eat after being three days dead, the Resurrection cannot be taken literally.

          Agreed.

          Metaphorically, it simply means Jesus’ early followers felt his power and presence even after he died.

          That makes as much sense as having a chocolate fireguard.

          If you don’t believe that, it’s okay.

          I prefer to believe much more rational explanations…am funny that way a guess.

        • james warren

          Resurrection was a common theme in the ancient world and a number of important figures were believed to have been raised after death.

          After the crucifixion, Christian writers and pagan writers assumed that coming back to life after death was something that sometimes happened.

          The Christian theologian Justin Martyr was engaged with the Roman writer Celsius [as I remember]. Justin argued that Jesus came to life, but their argument was not about the truth or falsity of coming back to life.

          The Roman pagan accepted the resurrection of Jesus as far as the terms of argument was concerned. The issue that Celsius [?] was concerned with is how could a peasant nobody like Jesus could resurrect because he was clearly not of royal birth.

          Rationality is not part of religious language,paradox, parables, mythology, metaphor, humor or poetry.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Resurrection was a common theme in the ancient world and a number of important figures were believed to have been raised after death.

          Exactly.

          Let’s clear the decks here.

          We both agree that resurrections don’t happen.

          We both agree that the concept of a resurrection was a motif of the time in a number of belief systems.

          We both agree that the symbolism behind this supernatural event is intended to be powerful.

          What we disagree on is whether followers of the Christian belief system thought it was an actual event, or a metaphor.

          It makes little sense as a metaphor. The detailed narrative in the gospels make it unlikely to be metaphor.

          Paul describes a celestial resurrection in a lower heavenly level, but an actual event nonetheless. The Ascension of Isaiah does the same.

          The gospels take the idea and make the event happen here on Earth…complete with a fanfare of bells and whistles.

          The Christian theologian Justin Martyr was engaged with the Roman writer Celsius [as I remember]. Justin argued that Jesus came to life, but their argument was not about the truth or falsity of coming back to life.

          Contra Celsum is a third century rebuttal treatise against second century pagan philosopher Celsus anti Christian treatise, The True Word, by a guy called Origen…I don’t see how it defends your metaphor assertion. Celsus argument is that the idea of needing a physical human body in order for the soul to resurrect and go to god is ridiculous. Origen refutes that and calls out Celsus ignorance. It is obvious that Origen is not talking about a metaphor. [Contra Celsum, book 7, chapters 32 & 33]

          Celsus also believed Jesus performed miracles, just that he used sorcery.

          What Celsus says about the veiled speech of biblical parables is interesting…

          “To these grand promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning; for so dark are they as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them so as to suit his own purposes.”

          The gospel narratives about the Resurrection are describing made up events that are meant be believed actually took place.

        • james warren

          The discrepancies and contradictions in the resurrection stories show that there were competing agendas at work. This is why I can affirm that I believe in the Resurrection but it has nothing to do with a resuscitated body.

          The resurrection mentioned in the creeds has to be a metaphor–it is not factually correct.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The discrepancies and contradictions in the resurrection stories show that there were competing agendas at work.

          Another non-sequitur, where did I mention discrepancies and contradictions? But anyway. How does competing agendas at work lead to the Resurrection being a metaphor?

          This is why I can affirm that I believe in the Resurrection but it has nothing to do with a resuscitated body.

          I know you do. It just doesn’t make much sense, that’s all.

          Finally, the metaphor explanation cannot make sense of the question, “What were the disciples trying to communicate?” If they said he rose bodily as a symbol of something else, what was that something? What was the thing that the resurrection was like, that they were trying to convey? That their leader was tortured to death and remained dead, but that his memory lived on? That he had some good ideas on how best to live, but his prediction that he would rise from the dead did not come to pass? A dead leader who cannot fulfill his promises does not inspire fervent followers, but we know for a fact that Christ did.

          In sum, I said, while the early follows of Jesus may have been wrong about what they claimed, there is no way to conclude that they were speaking symbolically.

          The resurrection mentioned in the creeds has to be a metaphor–it is not factually correct.

          Behave. Literary devices, or tropes, are used all the time. They may not be factually correct, nor are they metaphors.

          Fiction is a genre in which the stories told are not real. Character, locations, and events may be real within fiction or may be entirely made up, but some element of the unreal will be present.

          The Resurrection is a fiction, told as an actual historical event.

          Who would die for a metaphor?

        • Bob Jase

          A sincerely believing simile?

        • Ignorant Amos

          }8O)~

        • james warren

          The Resurrection, in my view, is a metaphor. The gospel accounts of it are dripping with them.

          But since the rationalism of the Enlightenment, Christians take it literally and secular people accept that this is the only way to see the religious language and myth embedded in the stories.

          Our military people fight and die for a metaphor every day.
          Just like your “take your cake and eat it ,too” metaphor to me awhile back, they don’t see it that way.

        • Greg G.

          Resurrection was a common theme in the ancient world and a number of important figures were believed to have been raised after death.

          The gospels say that the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection and Josephus verifies that, though I suspect the gospels got it from Josephus, but Josephus also says that the Pharisees did believe in resurrection. They probably got the idea from:

          Isaiah 26:19
          19 Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise.
              O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
          For your dew is a radiant dew,
              and the earth will give birth to those long dead.

          PS:

          Daniel 12:2
          2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

          Jewish War 2.8.14
          They [Pharisees] say that all souls are incorruptible, but that the souls of good men only are removed into other bodies, – but that the souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment.

          (excerpt discussing the differences in beliefs of Pharisees and Sadducees)

        • james warren

          The idea of “left brain” and “right brain” show that rational thought is not the only way to apprehend truth.

        • james warren

          We usually take our myths seriously.

          e.g., America is an exceptional nation.

    • james warren

      We all cherry pick.

      • Kevin K

        None better than the Christian pastor every sermon. I just wish they’d start using more-original material. I’m sure you can get to the same place in terms of your outcome if you cherry picked sentences from fresher material. Harry Potter, maybe? Or 50 Shades of Gray?

        • james warren

          Most pastors and their flocks are more interested in worshiping Christ instead of following Jesus.

          Today’s believers do not study the parables in any depth–even though Jesus was said to have taught “ALL” in parables.

          The immense cherry orchard we exist in has an infinite number of cherries to harvest. And we only have a limited lifetime to pick what we can.

  • Jim Jones

    > A well-known poem says, “All things bright and beautiful . . . The Lord God made them all.” Puppies and sunsets and snow-covered mountains are beautiful. But tsunamis and guinea worm and cancer are not. Don’t forget that God made them, too.

    Then god made Cymothoa exigua.

    And also “Butterfly Children”.

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

      “I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.”
      — Charles Darwin

    • Ignorant Amos

      The list is lengthy…a particular fucked up piece of ID is Harlequin-type ichthyosis….what’s that shit all about?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin-type_ichthyosis

    • Ignorant Amos
  • Juan Lopez

    Why is polygamy evil? I would think it makes a lot more sense than monogamy, from a naturalistic, evolutionary standpoint.

    But yeah, good article.

    • Erp

      Nature isn’t ethical, see Ichneumonidae. If we humans value equal opportunity and equal treatment then traditional polygamy (or rather polygyny since polyandry is very rare) is not good (a few men have a monopoly on access to women and the women generally have little voice). Given also that the laws of the US and many other places have evolved to treat marriage as a mutual contract between equals with a whole slew of rules on what to do when the contract ends (e.g., by death or divorce), it is a bit tricky to figure out how to add a third party on an equal basis to the other two without some massive changes in those laws. Note that traditionally polygamy has involved one man making independent contracts of marriage with multiple women but the women do not have a legal relationship with each other; some speculative fiction has been written about three (or more) way marriages but the key word is speculative.

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

      People in polygamous marriages might say that it’s a fine institution, but you do wonder if they would still say so from an objective standpoint. Women forced to wear burqas largely say that it makes lots of sense, but the same caveat applies.

      I used polygamy as an institution widely felt to be bad, and then burden God with it. But if that doesn’t apply, that’s fine. Other examples like genocide and slavery work.

      • Greg G.

        I see Somali women using their burqa to hold their cellphones, leaving their hands free. Sometimes, they leave it there when there is nobody on the line.

        • MR

          Saw that in Egypt.

          Okay, so no one’s answering
          Well, can’t you just let it ring a little longer
          Longer, longer oh, I’ll just sit tight
          Through shadows of the night
          Let it ring forever more, oh….

        • Wussypillow

          Incredible: Something tackier than Bluetooth earpieces. I never thought I’d see the day . . .

    • Wussypillow

      Well, here’s the problem: Since male and female children are born in more or less equal numbers, it leaves a lot of spare men around. Now, in a society that’s engaged in constant warfare and/or hunting large and dangerous animals, there’s a certain ‘use’ for ‘spare men’ (who, by the way, tend to be the youngest, poorest ones). But otherwise the solution to the spare men problem is just quiet, selective male infanticide.

  • Eriu Draga

    Maybe there is no God “in charge” as it were but that all Gods and Goddesses exist perhaps s limited in their power. And the God of Abraham is proverbial black sheet who is a huge murderous hateful prat and a compulsive liar. Lol

    • Eriu Draga

      Perhaps they too were created in the enormity of the Big Bang but simply dwell on another plane or in a higher dimension. Only the Christians have that totally fucked up concept if diety. Pantheism is perhaps the opposite. That if Divinity is part of or help to create the universe then everything in the universe is divine in it’s own right. The universe is self is in the form of a nervous system. It may be a consciousness in its own right and you are the universe trying to figure itself out, we are stardust. I don’t know how anyone could study the origins of our universe and world from a scientific standpoint and not be spiritually moved by it all. I did and it did not contradict any of by “religious” beliefs and even helped inform some of them. But then I’m an unusual pagan. I don’t even believe that “scriptures” exist they are just words and myths. But myths are not necessarily bad. A good and true myth, meaning mythology not an untrue old wives tale, should teach through symbolism, prose, and allegory a deeper spiritual truth about ourselves (not others). Thinking something is only valid it’s literal is deeply shallow and incorrect way to try and interpret ancient tales.

      • Eriu Draga

        Myths should be evaluated on what lesson they teach not if they are “true” or not. That is why I find the myths of the Bible deeply disturbing.

        • james warren

          Myths are the closest thing that humans can arrive at absolute truth.

          The problem is most fundamentalists and atheists take the sacred myths and metaphors of Christianity as literally true.

          Doing this makes us forfeit the great claim and hope embedded in the texts.

        • Jack Baynes

          The closet thing that humans can arrive at absolute truth…
          except for the ones YOU don’t like. You want people to pretend they don’t exist and only focus on the ones you like.

        • james warren

          Your attempts to read my mind, guess at my motives and assume things about me are of no use to me.

          If you want to know something about me, simply be honest and ask me a direct question.

        • Michael Neville

          What’s your best evidence that your god isn’t a figment of your imagination?

        • james warren

          I have no logical evidence, There is no way I can assert I am absolutely right. About anything.

          I used to be convinced I knew everything when I was younger. I am not so arrogant now.

          We’re talking about ancient culture and faith claims.

        • Michael Neville

          You’re the first Christian I’ve come across in years to admit you don’t have any evidence. I’m impressed (and no, that’s not sarcasm).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Almost quite sobering.

        • james warren

          When it comes to ancient history, I can never claim to be absolutely right.

          I have evidence I trust. But based on my own experience, there is no way in hell I can prove it is factually correct.

        • james warren

          The language of religion is metaphoric. The mistake comes when we take that language literally.

        • Michael Neville

          In other words, if it doesn’t make sense, then make something up that appeals to you. That’s why there are over 45,000 different flavors of Christianity. Everyone’s guess as to what the metaphors mean is different.

        • Otto

          So are parts of the myth literally true? I mean the great claim and hope parts are right?

          So how does one go about separating myth/metaphors/claims/hopes in a reliable manner?

          That seems to be the part everyone is stuck on. This is obviously not a reliable path to absolute truth.

          (and atheists do not take the myths or metaphors as being literally true because if we did we could not be atheists)

        • james warren

          Let me be more specific. Somewhere in the Bible the sun stops in the sky. Literally, that is nonsense. As a myth, it is true. It indicates the power of Joshua, who commanded the sun [and moon] to be still.

          Likewise, the virgin birth has nothing to do with the biology of Mary and everything to do with the importance of Jesus.

        • Otto

          That is not my point, I think every Christian decides what is allegorical or myth and what is to be taken true.

          The point is no Christians agree on which is which. Whether you know it or not you are doing the same thing just to a different degree.

          Could it be the case that the Bible has some good philosophy and some bad philosophy, but none of it is Divine and of God?

        • james warren

          The most effective thing is to find out what the original writers meant or intended, And what their readers read into their work,

        • Otto

          The intention of original writers often contradicted each other. Christians themselves don’t often admit this but the Gospels often obviously contradict each other on issues, not to mention all the other books and writers….and their intent. And regardless, no matter what their intent was, that says nothing about the truth of what they were claiming.

        • james warren

          Of COURSE they contradicted themselves and others. I do the same every day.

        • Otto

          But do you claim to be speaking for God?

          I too expect them to be human…so where does the Divine part come in?

        • james warren

          The great prophets of the Hebrew Bible spoke for their interpretation of God.

          Much like Jeremiah Wright’s thunderous revelation “God DAMN America !!!” the ancient prophets damned the immorality and the greed of the people of Israel.

          Like Ralph Nader and others, they were basically saying “If you don’t know who you are or don’t know where you are going you’re going to wind up where you’re headed.”

          As to me speaking for God, I have no way of knowing. That’s metaphysics and epistemology. And knowing what or who God “really” is.

        • Otto

          None of that answered my question.

        • james warren

          *sigh*

          Again, I have no way of knowing if I am speaking for God.

          And the great prophets of the Old Testament were believed to speak for God. That’s how the divine comes in.

        • Otto

          And the prophets of the Old Testament and the writers of the New Testament contradicted each other. So either God fouled up his own message or they weren’t actually speaking for God.

        • james warren

          They spoke to actual historical conditions and crises. They weren’t fortune tellers. They were rather like Ralph Nader:

          “If you don’t stop where you’re going, you’re going to wind up where you’re headed.”

          Or like Jeremiah Wright: “God DAMN America.”

        • Otto

          None of that points to the divine

        • james warren

          If you are an Iron Age people who have been conquered, exploited and enslaved for centuries, I can surely understand why many of them would believe the prophets spoke for God.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can see how that worked back a few thousand years ago, when folk didn’t know where the Sun went at night, and all sorts of woo-woo seemed the best explanation, but not today. Especially by an alleged professional with the intellect to be a neurosurgeon.

          And that still doesn’t point to the divine. The gullible abound. Snake oil anyone?

        • james warren

          Wasn’t it strange that scientists in 2017 were so far off the mark?

          We know so much more these days….

          😉

        • Ignorant Amos

          My 8 year old grandson knows more today, than most people in the Iron Age.

        • james warren

          “The past is a foreign country, They do things differently there.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          And very often wrong.

        • james warren

          It’s easy to look down on those “other people,” isn’t it?

          They’re the ignorant savages and we’re the elite oh-so-intelligent ones! 😉

          We should build a wall and let Jesus pay for it!

        • Otto

          If you are Iron age people who are highly superstitious because they lack understanding of the weird stuff that happens, God is a great answer to the unknown.

        • adam
        • james warren

          Again, read the link you sent me. It specifically says the Jewish people were enslaved by Egypt.

          I love Hitchens–always have. But his quote is uninformed and elitist.

          I can just imagine 500 years from now some wag will write that in 2017 most people in the world were crude, uncultured human mammals. And s/he would be right.

        • james warren

          If all is divine–like the ancients and today’s mystics thought–then it certainly does.

        • Otto

          If all is divine…saying something is ‘divine’ is redundant.

        • Otto

          And somethings they were right on but that does not mean they had a line to God.

        • james warren

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

          The normative Jew in the first century was surrounded by a both immanent and transcendent God.

          Two young fish were swimming along one morning and saw a very old fish swimming toward them.

          “Good morning, boys!” he said to them when they passed. “How’s the water?”

          The pair kept on swimming for awhile. Finally one fish turned to the other and said “What the hell is ‘water’ “?

        • james warren

          Each gospel writer wrote for their particular faith communities. They wrote about a Jesus that made sense to them. Just as today, some believers believe Jesus was anti-gay, anti-welfare, anti-government or whatever.

          They were concerned with the truth as they saw it and lived it, just as any human being does.

        • Otto

          They were claiming to be speaking for God so the fact that they contradicted each other is problematic.

          I am fine with humans being human…but that isn’t the claim of the followers of the Bible. The claim is that there are messages from a Divine being. You seem to want to dance around that issue.

        • james warren

          I totally agree: many–inside and out of the Bible–believe that the Bible contains messages from a divine being. My dance is over. Do you want to ask this wallflower for another?

        • Otto

          People believe all kinds of things, the question to be answered is whether what they believe is actually true.

        • james warren

          True like a myth or true like factually correct?

        • Otto

          A myth by definition is not true.

        • james warren

          I look at myth from the point of view of anthropologists and others. I don’t use the word myth as a way to define “fable.”

          The Brothers Grimm [Grimm Fairy Tales] believed, “Divinities form the core of all mythology.”

        • Otto

          OK…that still does not make them true though there can be nuggets of wisdom in them.

        • james warren

          Outside Lincoln High School is a bronze statue. It shows Abe the rail-splitter in his shirtsleeves and his suspenders, a huge ax raised above his head. At his feet is a prostrate slave with her manacles stretched across a flat rock.

          The plaque on the statue’s base says “He Was Born to Free the Slaves.”

          Is the statue factually correct or is it mythic truth?

        • Otto

          I would say neither.

        • james warren

          I don’t use the accepted definition of myth as fable. Anthropologists see them as sacred tales that explain the cosmos and man’s experience living in it.

          Myths are as relevant to us as they were to the ancients.

          They answer the big questions and serve as a guide to each generation.

        • james warren

          Truth is not what we personally believe in. Truth is what highlights the conflict between opposed ideologies. It is not in one thing or the other, but in the relationship between them.

          I think I know the truth. And I am also very arrogant. I’ve always liked what Socrates said: “I am a wise man because I know nothing.”

        • Otto

          Truth is that which comports to reality.

        • james warren

          And truth is nuanced and complex. It is what highlights the chaos of a myriad interpretations and opinions.

        • Otto

          I wouldn’t call that truth, though there can be some things that are true mixed in. The issue is separating the true from the false.

        • james warren

          That would mean an impenetrable wall between two separate formulations. The yin-yang symbol shows both black and white, but the black contains a bit of white and the white contains a bit of black.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • james warren

          Don’t pay any attention to anything said by the exalted Jesus or the Jesus that speaks theology and dogma. Listen to his unique “voice print” in parables, short proverbs and aphorisms.

        • Greg G.

          Voice print? Can you give some examples?

          Matthew 19:12 (NRSV)12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

          In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about cutting off hands and plucking out eyes. Was Jesus in favor of castration? Or did Matthew get the idea that Jesus would have said that after missing that Paul was being extremely sarcastic in:

          Galatians 5:12 (NRSV)12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

        • james warren

          Jesus was said to have taught “ALL” in parables. He also used short sayings called aphorisms. His inaugural speech in Mark says he came to preach the Kingdom of God. This means what the world might be like if God sat on the throne instead of Caesar.

          if Jesus has already been put to death, we do not give credence to his speech. The exalted Jesus is not the authentic Jesus. If Jesus’ words comport with first-century Judaism, they are likely to be correct. Anything Jesus says that is Christian theology is not historical. Anything that was embarrassing to the early church yet was still included in the text is likely to be true.

          The more independent witnesses that report an event or saying, the better likely it is authentic.

          Sorry, but this link is longer than the average post:

          .https://ehrmanblog.org/jesus-and-the-historical-criteria-for-members/

        • Greg G.

          There is the Criterion of Similitude that is the hypothesis that if the saying is similar to what a first century Jew would say, then it is likely to be authentic. The Criterion of Dissimilarity says that if a saying is different than what first century Jews would have said, it must be authentic from Jesus. That pair of criteria should allow one to justify any statement as authentic.

          The Parable of the Good Samaritan should be an example of the Criterion of Similitude as anybody who read 2 Chronicles could come up with that story.

          2 Chronicles 28:15 (NRSV)15 Then those who were mentioned by name got up and took the captives, and with the booty they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kindred at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

          Even aLuke could have done it.

          The Criterion of Embarrassment is really a strange one. In Mark, Jesus was not divine, he was adopted when he got baptized, so his baptism for the remission of sins was not embarrassing when Mark wrote. The embarrassment came when they started making Jesus out to be divine. In Mark, John the Baptist performed the baptism. In Matthew, John is hesitant and figures it should be the other way around but Jesus says they are doing it for show to fulfill prophecy. gJohn says John the Baptist only witnessed the Spirit coming down but it doesn’t say who actually performed the baptism. Luke throws in John’s arrest just before the baptism was performed, seemingly to obfuscate who performed it. The Criterion of Embarrassment just shows that the gospel authors were just making it up as they went along. It’s like the plot discontinuities in the original Star Trek series.

          Ehrman also mentioned the Criterion of Multiple Attestation which says that if two independent sources have the same quote, then it must be authentic. But if there was no Jesus, then there are no independent sources as they were copying one another, like fan fiction from Star Wars.

          Any saying worth repeating is worth making up and attributing it to Jesus. They were doing it for centuries as we see with “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

        • james warren

          In first-century Judaism, the Samaritans were untouchable. Travelers went the long way around so they would not set foot in Samaria. The Samaritans were the bastard heirs of the covenant. They worshiped on Mount Gerizem, not at the Jerusalem Temple. Jesus’ audience could no more see the Samaritan as “good” any more than they could imagine loving one’s enemies.

          God comes from the corrupt and unclean.

          If we were to tell the parable today and preserve its original bite, we might call it “the Parable of the Sweaty Muslim with AIDS.”

          So too is the mustard plant as well as leaven. Both stand for the divine and both are corrupt.

          It would be great if the discovery of a new text would prove conclusively that Jesus was a myth. Then those who agree could dance and sing around the fire in a joyous circle.

        • Greg G.

          Luke opens with the genealogy and stories of young Jesus. When Jesus is missing for three days (foreshadowing) and found teaching at the temple, Luke has borrowed that from Josephus’ biography, Vida 2 where Josephus impressed the scholars at the temple at age 14.

          Beginning with the third chapter, Luke follows Mark’s outline using Mark’s wording and some of Matthew’s. At Luke 9:50, Mark is mostly abandoned beginning with the town that robbed travelers from Josephus mixed with some 1 & 2 Kings. From Luke 10 to Luke 18:14, the topics follow the topics of Deuteronomy in order, while borrowing related material from the OT, Mark, and Matthew. It’s about Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem and Deuteronomy happens to be about the Moses excursion that led to Jerusalem. Here is where you find all of Mark Goodacre’s Major Agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark. When Mark or Matthew passages are used here, it is completely topical and not in their order. The teachings, events, and conversations started by others follow the topics of Deuteronomy. It is obviously a literary writing. You can discount anything in the central section as fiction.

          At Luke 18:15, Luke goes back to following Mark’s story.

          Here are Luke’s tendencies so you can tell when he is making stuff up:

          Ten to one ratios.
          ◾The Parable of the Two Debtors, Luke 7:41-43
          ◾The Lost Coin, Luke 15:8-9
          ◾Cleansing the Ten Lepers, Luke 17:11-19
          ◾Parable of the Pounds, Luke 19:11-25 (starts out with ten slaves [Luke 19:13] but ends with three [Luke 19:20])

          ◦Independent Use of the Number Five.
          ◾Elizabeth’s Five Month Seclusion, Luke 1:24
          ◾The Parable of the Two Debtors, One Owed Five Hundred Denarii, Luke 7:41-43
            ◾Compare with Three Hundred Denarii for Ointment in Mark 14:5
          ◾Sparrows, Five for Two Pennies, Luke 12:6
          ◾Matthew 10:29 Has Two Sparrows for a Penny.
          ◾Five in One Household Will Be Divided, Luke 12:52
            ◾Compare Matthew 10:34-36
          ◾”I Have Bought Five Yoke of Oxen”, Luke 14:19
            ◾Compare Matthew 22:1-14
          ◾Rich Man with Five Brothers, Luke 16:27-28

          ◦To have a protagonist with a dilemma ask a question of himself and then answer with a plan of action.
          ◾Rich Fool, Luke 12:13-21(Luke 12:17-19)
          ◾Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11b-32(Luke 15:17-19)
          ◾Dishonest Steward, Luke 16:1-8a(Luke 16:3-4)
          ◾Vineyard Owner, Luke 20:9-16(Luke 20:13)
            ◾Compare Mark 12:1-12

          ◦Opposite character typologies in a parable or a story.
          ◾The Sinful Woman vs Pharisee Host, Luke 7:36-50
          ◾The Good Samaritan vs the Priest and the Levite, Luke 10:29-37; 2 Chronicles 28:15
          ◾Mary vs Martha, Luke 10:38-42
          ◾The Friend at Midnight vs Reluctant Friend, Luke 11:5-8
          ◾Prodigal Son vs Obedient Brother, Luke 15:11b-32
          ◾Lazarus vs Rich Man, Luke 16:19-31
          ◾The Unjust Judge vs the Widow, Luke 18:1-8
          ◾Prideful Pharisee vs Humble Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14

          ◦To balance miracles and lessons so that there is a second similar one with the opposite gender, the opposite between Jew or Gentile, or both, plus at least one of the pair is not from another source.
          ◾Prophetic announcement of conception by Gabriel
          ◾Zechariah
          Luke 1:5-25
          ◾Mary
          Luke 1:26-38
          ◾Prophetic announcement of Jesus’ birth
          ◾Simeon
          Luke 2:25-35
          ◾Anna
          Luke 2:36-38
          ◾Raising from the dead
          ◾Widow’s son
          Luke 7:11-17
          ◾Jairus’ daughter
          Luke 8:49-56; Mark 5:23
          ◾Teaching the disciples
          ◾Mary and Martha
          Luke 10:38-42
          ◾Male disciples
          Luke 11:1-13; Matthew 6:9-15
          ◾Healing on the Sabbath
          ◾Crippled woman
          Luke 13:10-17
          ◾Man with dropsy
          Luke 14:1-4
          ◾Finding the lost
          ◾Shepherd and sheep
          Luke 15:3-7; Matthew 18:12-14
          ◾Woman and coin
          Luke 15:8-10
          ◾Parable on prayer
          ◾Persistent widow
          Luke 18:1-8
          ◾Tax collector
          Luke 18:9-14
          ◾At the tomb
          ◾Women
          Luke 24:1-10
          ◾Peter
          Luke 24:11-12
          ◾Deception
          ◾Ananias
          Acts 5:1-6
          ◾Sapphira
          Acts 5:7-11
          ◾Raising from the dead
          ◾Tabitha
          Acts 9:32-43
          ◾Eutychus
          Acts 20:7-12
          ◾Prophets
          ◾Agabus
          Acts 11:27-30
          ◾Philip’s daughters
          Acts 21:8-9
          ◾Powerful pagans
          ◾Simon
          Acts 8:9-25
          ◾Girl with spirit
          Acts 16:16-21
          ◾Conversion at Philippi
          ◾Lydia
          Acts 16:11-15
          ◾Jailer
          Acts 16:22-40

          ◦Expansions of older scripture and writings.
          ◾The Good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37; 2 Chronicles 28:15
          ◾The Friend at Midnight, Luke 11:5-8, Matthew 7:7-11
          Thomas 94
          ◾Rich Fool, Luke 12:13-21; Ecclesiastes 2
          ◾The Lost Coin, Luke 15:8-9; Deuteronomy 22:1-4
          ◾Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11b-32; Deuteronomy 21:15-22:4
          ◾Dishonest Steward, Luke 16:1-8a; Deuteronomy 23:15-24:4

          ◦Independent Banquet Parables
          ◾Don’t Take the Place of Honor, Luke 14:7-11
          ◾Help the Poor, Luke 14:12-14
          ◾The Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32
          ◾The Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-30

          ◦Reversals of a passage
          ◾Several Reversals, Luke 1:46-55
          ◾Luke 6:24, Luke 6:20
          ◾Luke 6:25, Luke 6:21
          ◾Luke 6:26, Luke 6:22-23
          ◾Luke 7:30, Luke 7:29
          ◾Honor to the Sinful Woman vs Pharisee Host, Luke 7:36-50
          ◾Sit at Least Important Seat vs Seat of Honor, Luke 14:7-24
          ◾Lazarus vs Rich Man, Luke 16:19-31
          ◾Prideful Pharisee vs Humble Tax Collector, Luke 18:9-14

        • Ignorant Amos

          We all got the parable of the good Samaritan drummed into us at Sunday School, but what does it mean and how do you know?

        • james warren

          It means to me that God comes in distressing disguises.

          Samaritans were outcasts. They were considered the bastard race of Israel.

          Unclean and corrupt.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It means to me that God comes in distressing disguises.

          And therein lies the problem.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Good_Samaritan#Interpretation_of_Life

        • james warren

          Diversity is healthy. There are 7.5 billion of us but we don’t all think alike.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Diversity is healthy.

          Don’t be overly naive.

          Not where it causes a problem…like with religion and god beliefs. Which is the topic of conversation here.

          Even within Christianity the diversity is problematic.

          The problem is grounded in the prayer in gJohn 17 that failed miserably.

          20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          At 45,000+ flavours and diversifying at over two new ones per day, the various Christians need to claim to be the one true Christians, oft times to the detriment of others. That is not good or healthy.

        • james warren

          If you are looking for a Jesus that makes sense, the Gospel of John is the last place you should look. John was written near the end or even a bit beyond the first century.

          That’s why the first three gospels are called the synoptics.

          John’s Jesus speaks no parables or aphorisms. He talks in long, dense theological monologues mainly about himself and the importance of believing in him.

          The gospel is theology and contains little history.

          I rather like the all-too-human Jesus in the New Testament. He is more believable to me.

        • Bob Jase

          I like the golden-age Batman but that doesn’t make him real.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you are looking for a Jesus that makes sense,…

          I’ve already found the Jesus that makes sense to me.

          …the Gospel of John is the last place you should look. John was written near the end or even a bit beyond the first century.

          Why should that matter when everything is hearsay anyway?

          That’s why the first three gospels are called the synoptics.

          No it isn’t.

          The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar wording. They stand in contrast to John, whose content is comparatively distinct.

          This strong parallelism among the three gospels in content, arrangement, and specific language is widely attributed to literary interdependence.

          The sayings Gospel of Thomas might predate the synoptics…or is at least contemporary.

          http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/thomas.html

          There are some 50, or so, other Christian texts from the first few centuries, including many of them gospels.They are called the Apocrypha. You’d have a field day with the metaphors they contain.

          I rather like the all-too-human Jesus in the New Testament. He is more believable to me.

          But only the Jesus in the synoptics.

          I rather like the all-too-human Sherlock Holmes in the original works of ACD. He is more believable to me. But so what? He is no more real than the more fanciful Holmes of later adaptations.

        • Pofarmer

          He’ll there’s a non zero chance that all the gospels are second century.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You realise you are trying to teach your granny to suck eggs.

          Anything Jesus says that is Christian theology is not historical. Anything that was embarrassing to the early church yet was still included in the text is likely to be true.

          Seriously?

          The “Criterion of Embarrassment” is deeply flawed.

          Read Richard Carrier’s “Proving History”…or Google the problem with the criteria of embarrassment.

          Even Ehrman in your citation admits the method is problematic.

          In the meantime…..

          Of course New Testament scholars recognize the inadequacy of their tools; when different people look at one passage, and all get different answers, the inadequacy is obvious, even to New Testament scholars! But they do not draw the logical deduction from this fact. They go on, hammering or chiselling away with their pet tools, and using the pieces which are left as the sure foundation on which they then erect their edifice. But if these tools fail us because they are too imprecise, can we not find others?

          http://www.academia.edu/27267500/THE_EMBARRASSING_TRUTH_ABOUT_JESUS_THE_CRITERION_OF_EMBARRASSMENT_AND_THE_FAILURE_OF_HISTORICAL_AUTHENTICITY

          The more independent witnesses that report an event or saying, the better likely it is authentic.

          There are no witnesses and the hearsay we have is not independent.

        • james warren

          Life is problematic
          Maybe things IN life are problematic.

          Maybe Ehrman is onto something.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Huh!

          Ehrman says the criterion of embarrassment is problematic.

          So yes, the criteria are problematic and coming under attack.

          Don’t you read your own citations you use to support your arguments?

        • james warren

          Yes–I certainly try to.

          Ehrman is simply being honest.

          In the “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” author Thomas Kuhn posits that revolutions in scientific thought can happen in a very short time…. And not in a linear way.

          https://www.amazon.com/Structure-Scientific-Revolutions-50th-Anniversary/dp/0226458121

          Every scientific theory contains the seeds of its own eventual demise.

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

          Every scientific theory contains the seeds of its own eventual demise.

          “When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
          — Isaac Asimov

        • MR

          The theory of Science is Wrong Unless I Agree With It.

        • james warren

          Thanks for the quote. It sort of shines a light on what I often try to communicate here. Protagoras said man is the measure of all things. No absolute truths…

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

          “No absolute truths” really isn’t Asimov’s point. He’s saying that science generally gets closer and closer to the actual truth with time. Yes, it makes corrections, but in a well-understood field, those corrections tend to get smaller with time.

        • james warren

          What is “actual truth” since the arrogance of humankind will always claim it?

        • MR

          And tend to produce results.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ehrman is simply being honest.

          Honest about what? That the methods employed by bible scholars is flawed. That was MY argument.

          In the “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” author Thomas Kuhn posits that revolutions in scientific thought can happen in a very short time…. And not in a linear way.

          So what? You have some sort of fetish for the fallacy of the non sequitur judging by the amount of time you use it.

          Every scientific theory contains the seeds of its own eventual demise.

          Perhaps…but what relevance has that observation, if true, even got to do with the subject under discussion?
          Another non sequitur methinks.

        • james warren

          When you use the phrase “bible scholars” you are surely aware of the diversity implied.

          I don’t always think in the rationality of A leads to B leads to C.

          Linear thinking has its place but it’s never the be-all and end-all of describing reality.

          In sarcasm, I identified myself as a neuroscientist. That was a metaphor for arrogantly beleiving I am always right and others are always wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When you use the phrase “bible scholars” you are surely aware of the diversity implied.

          Yip. And? Again, what has that got to do with their flawed methodology?

          I don’t always think in the rationality of A leads to B leads to C.

          Linear thinking has its place but it’s never the be-all and end-all of describing reality.

          I’m sure there was a reason for those two sentences, it is just that their relevance and intent is alluding me.

          In sarcasm, I identified myself as a neuroscientist.

          Ah, it was sarcasm…that figures. You will have to forgive me, we get all manner of believers here making claims to expertise that they later display as unfounded. From fake lawyers, to a recent doctor of theology.

          That was a metaphor for arrogantly beleiving I am always right and others are always wrong.

          Riiiiight!

          Identifying yourself as a neurosurgeon with no indication that you were being sarcastic and now claiming that it works as a metaphor for someone arrogant enough to believe they are always right, and others wrong. And you can’t work out my problem with you and your world of metaphors? Sheeeesh!

        • james warren

          Why do you make yourself so frustrated?

          Seriously.

          This may make it easier for you, Here are five ready-made responses you can cut and paste to me.

          1. %$@# *@#
          2. (*^$#@ &$#^
          3, ?”**&@!$ ^##
          4. #%$$% !!!
          5. +%$%@!

        • james warren

          That the methods employed by bible scholars is flawed. That was MY argument.
          +++++++++++++++++++++++++

          I, of course, have no flaws.

        • james warren

          Greg is pretty cognizant of biblical scholarship. He knows quite well that one biblical scholar can argue against another biblical scholar; both of them can arrange their information any way they like.

          Consensus is a difficult thing to achieve when it comes to historical experts.

          Atomic physicist Niels Bohr once observed:

          An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.

          There are two sorts of truth: profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.

        • james warren

          It’s hard to identify sarcasm in the written word. Of course we can have our theories. The passage about eunuchs tells me that Jesus had no quarrel with those who castrated themselves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why?

        • james warren

          Because it is helpful in separating his authenticity from the dogma and theology and the exalted titles put into his mouth by the early church.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, no it really isn’t.

          There is no way to show anything is authentically Jesus.

          Just about everything in gMark can be shown to be plagiarised from OT texts and other well know classics of the era. The subsequent gospels plagiarise gMark with embellishment from other sources not Christ based.

          A parable is problematic if it fails to demonstrate a worthwhile message.

          In Mark, it is even explained that the purpose of the parables is to confuse the uninformed hearer.

          The parables in Mark’s Gospel are told by Jesus in order to be confusing and remain hidden from the understanding of Jesus’ audience. Mark is following the script of Isaiah’s parables that are intended to be closed to the sense of the outsiders. The arguments to the contrary by Jeremias and others are demolished by Drury.

          http://vridar.org/2014/09/02/jesus-did-not-speak-in-parables-the-evidence/

          Albert Schweitzer said, “The historical Jesus will be to our time a stranger and an enigma.” No first-century writer confirms the Jesus story. The New Testament is internally contradictory and contains historical errors. The story is filled with miracles and other outrageous claims. Consisting mostly of material borrowed from pagan religions, the Jesus story appears to be cut from the same fabric as all other myths and fables.

        • james warren

          I cannot say for sure that anything “really happened” in the first century along the Mediterranean.

          I will never say something like “Well, no, it really isn’t.”

          There are a multiplicity of different ideas about Jesus and what he did and said among all biblical scholars.

          I prefer the scholars who draw a clear difference between the facts as they find them and their opinions/interpretations of those facts.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I cannot say for sure that anything “really happened” in the first century along the Mediterranean.

          Nobody can. But solipsism aside, agnosticism isn’t 50/50. There are certain things that can be known to a much higher degree of probability than others.

          I will never say something like “Well, no, it really isn’t.”

          Like I said before, context is everything. The context here being…

          “There is no way to show anything is authentically Jesus.”

          …which you agreed with in your opening sentence.

          There are a multiplicity of different ideas about Jesus and what he did and said among all biblical scholars.

          Yeah…I know…I was the one that pointed this out, remember? They all can’t be right, that’s the point. But they can all be wrong. This is the problem with the study of Jesus.

          I prefer the scholars who draw a clear difference between the facts as they find them and their opinions/interpretations of those facts.

          What? Try reading that back to yourself to see how much sense it doesn’t make.

          The facts as they find them IS their opinions/interpretations, that is the problem, that’s why there is so much diversity of opinion/interpretations in Jesus studies. Couple that with much of the bias and the problem is compounded.

        • james warren

          The most popular sentiment in historical Jesus studies is the idea that a biographer sees his own reflection at the bottom of a well.

          I appreciate those who explain their methodology and offer their historical conclusions in spite of themselves.

          “There is no way to show anything that is authentically Jesus.”

          No way at ALL?
          NO WAY?
          Ever?

        • Ignorant Amos

          No way at ALL?

          Nope.

          NO WAY?

          Nope.

          Ever?

          The invention of time travel notwithstanding, nope.

          I’m open to any suggestions you might have that show otherwise though.

        • james warren

          He was crucified under Pilate. That is backed up by the Bible noncanonical material and pagan and Jewish history.

        • james warren

          It’s an interesting idea that people sometimes are loathe to admit they may not be absolutely correct in their claims…

          I guess I am just surprised to keep hearing that from posters like YOU.

        • Greg G.

          I cannot say for sure that anything “really happened” in the first century along the Mediterranean.

          I will never say something like “Well, no, it really isn’t.”

          But we can see that the extrabiblical evidence for Jesus is taken from the New Testament and it only tells us that there were people in the second century who had read the gospels or had them read to them and they believed them. We can show that pretty much everything in the gospels are taken from the literature of the day about other people and fictional characters and applied to the Jesus character. We can show that everything about Jesus in the epistles comes from OT scripture and not first century history.

          “Jesus” is found to have been the 6th most popular name in the region at the time, so nearly everybody and/or their brother had a brother or a cousin by that name. But there is nothing in the New Testament that is written about any of them. The epistles are about an inferred character from the OT and the gospels place that imaginary character in the first century.

          It is not the complete lack of evidence that Jesus existed that convinces me, it is that the closest thing to evidence for him is better evidence that the character was made up.

          Edit: to add “in the second century”

        • Ignorant Amos

          We’ve been discussing elsewhere on the interpretation of Matthew 7:6…

          Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
          ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
          under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

          Which gems are you specifically thinking about?

          Listen to his unique “voice print” in parables, short proverbs and aphorisms.

          That’s the problem right there. “Unique”? Give us an example of this uniqueness?

          From what I gather, everything put into the mouth of the Jesus character was plagiarised from elsewhere. What little that wasn’t, the gospel authors invented.

          Paul knows nothing of any parables, short proverbs, or aphorisms. Even under circumstances where it would have been very prudent to name drop JC and cite some of the things the gospel writers put into the characters mouth, Paul says zip, zilch, zero, on the subject.

        • james warren

          Jesus made it clear he had nothing for the Gentiles. His mission was to the House of Israel. He mocked their praying style and referred to them as “dogs”[as in your verse from Matthew].

          The bitter irony is that Jesus has been put on a pedestal and worshiped by Gentiles.

          I think it might clear up a lot if you had the time and inclination to read more biblical scholars.

          Many of Jesus’ parables strongly indicated that the divine is found in the corrupt and the unclean. This is pretty unique. His parables taught the Kingdom of God ON EARTH. He said little about heaven. It was just fine and could take care of itself.

          It’s here on earth where the problems are. He spoke most about poverty and the destitute. He was not only a party animal, he was a social activist.

          But most believers are into “God talk.” They have put him on a pedestal and called him “Christ.” They do not study his teachings [“Friend, who made me a judge over you?”
          “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” “God is greater than I.”].

        • Ignorant Amos

          The bitter irony is that Jesus has been put on a pedestal and worshiped by Gentiles.

          I thought they were called Christians.

          I think it might clear up a lot if you had the time and inclination to read more biblical scholars.

          Anyone in particular?

          He said little about heaven. It was just fine and could take care of itself.

          What do you mean by very little?

          There are nearly 140 references to heaven in the gospels and nearly every one of them came from Jesus.

          It’s here on earth where the problems are. He spoke most about poverty and the destitute.

          Jesus didn’t say anything. Later writers put all the words into his mouth.

          The Jesus character was a nasty piece of work.

          Whenever we read … the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind. And, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. — Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

          http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/cruelty/nt_list.html

          He was not only a party animal, he was a social activist.

          Yeah…that’s one of the Jesus idea’s that I alluded to in a post that contained the following link about a week ago.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/01/will-the-real-jesus-please-stand-up/

        • james warren

          Your speculations are noted.
          You could well be absolutely right.

        • james warren

          He is lost in history…. Way beyond standing at this point. 😉

        • Greg G.

          Have you ever noticed that when NT scholars and theologians try to write a biography of Jesus, it is more like a Rorschach Test? If the author is argumentative, Jesus is combative. If the author has a laid-back personality, Jesus is a peace-loving hippie.

        • james warren

          The greatest scholars I know about have often repeated the idea that researchers look down a deep well for the historical Jesus and end up staring at their own reflection.

          They know that history is a conversation between the present and the past.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The most effective thing is to find out what the original writers meant or intended,

          Never gonna happen. Heck, we don’t even know who the original writers were.

          And what their readers read into their work,

          With 45,000+ flavours of the “No True Scotsman” cult, aka Christianity, and increasing at just over 2 flavours a day, readers are reading all kinds of nonsense into their work…from the sublime to the out and out ridiculous.

        • james warren

          You might be interested in biblical scholarship based on the acceptable historical methods of all historians.

          Dreams, metaphor, humor, paradox, poetry are just as important as the rational and logical, mathematics, statistics and other “left brain” activities.

          Those who gain a measure of peace from their beliefs are not nonsensical in my opinion.

          But they are still unaware of Christian history or the wide number of examples of faith within their own Bible:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/09/29/8-things-your-pastor-will-never-tell-you-about-the-bible/

          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
          Here’s a good book that you might want to look at if you have the inclination and time:

          https://www.amazon.com/Images-Symbols-Mircea-Eliade/dp/069102068X/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500494268&sr=1-9&keywords=mircea+eliade

        • Ignorant Amos

          You might be interested in biblical scholarship based on the acceptable historical methods of all historians.

          Oh I am. The problem is that biblical scholarship, by and large, doesn’t employ acceptable methods of all historians.

          Here’s what an historian has to say…

          “Donald Akenson, Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen’s University has argued that, with very few exceptions, the historians of
          Yeshua have not followed sound historical practices.
          He has stated that there is an unhealthy reliance on consensus, for propositions which should otherwise be based on primary sources, or rigorous interpretation. He also holds that some of the criteria being used are faulty.

          He says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because of this, he maintains that, more than any other group in present day academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize their historical work and that it is only through considerable individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.”

          Akenson is not alone in his appraisal. The historical-critical method used by biblical scholars is deeply flawed. Couple that with Christian bias and the problems manifest.

          Scholars all have access to the same data to work with, yet the spectrum of results they arrive at is ridiculous in the extreme. I don’t think there is another character in print that has so many and varied manifestations in such varied interpretation.

          Dreams, metaphor, humor, paradox, poetry are just as important as the rational and logical, mathematics, statistics and other “left brain” activities.

          Not when doing science they ain’t. If we are to apply scientific methods to historical probabilities, dreams, for example, have no place.Those things you list are far too subjective and open to all sorts of ridiculous interpretations.

          Those who gain a measure of peace from their beliefs are not nonsensical in my opinion.

          Well of course you are entitled to your opinion. Whether someone gets a measure of peace from believing in nonsense, is academic to the nonsense they believe.

          I could give zero fucks as to what nonsense eejits choose to believe. It’s when it negatively impacts on those around them that neither wants it, or needs it in their lives, that it becomes an issue. Therein lies the problem.

          But they are still unaware of Christian history or the wide number of examples of faith within their own Bible:

          I couldn’t agree more. I’m surrounded where I live by bigoted sectarian Christians, many of whom are prepared to murder,and have done, their fellow Christians because of a difference in flavour. I’ve yet to find any that have read the bible, let alone have any knowledge in how the silly book came about. But why should that matter to your point that…“Those who gain a measure of peace from their beliefs are not nonsensical in my opinion.”…? Would knowing Christian history and the wide number of faiths within there own bible make a difference to the measure of peace they get from their nonsensical beliefs, except in a negative way? As has been the case with most atheists, who were once upon a time, Christian.

          Here’s a good book that you might want to look at if you have the inclination and time:

          Thanks…my Kindle is chock full of unread books at present. But your referral looks very interesting. I might get around to it at some point before all the days are done.

        • james warren

          Of course. And not all biblical scholars use the same historical material. The best scholars–at least in my experience–present their methodology at the beginning of their work–out front so everyone can see.

          Akenson does not believe in Markan priority or Q. He starts with the letters of Paul to find out about the historical Jesus. But Paul had real disagreements with Peter and James [Jesus’ brother] when he met with them in Jerusalem. Apparently the two men who knew Jesus when he was alive had major differences of opinion with the Pharisee.

          We have the texts and we have historical evidence that every scholar assembles to undergird his/her conclusions.

          You need to know that I am talking about ancient history. There is no way I can ever be absolutely sure if I am right or not. Nor can I absolutely prove I am right.

          Otherwise, I may sound arrogant. And I hate arrogance.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And not all biblical scholars use the same historical material.

          They don’t? Is there some historical material I’m not yet aware of? The best scholars utilise all the historical material. Which isn’t many.

          The best scholars–at least in my experience–present their methodology at the beginning of their work–out front so everyone can see.

          Can you point to some examples?

          Akenson does not believe in Markan priority or Q.

          So what? He’s not alone. And I agree with him on the hypothetical Q hypothesis, there is no need for it. I cited Akenson because of his views on the state of bible scholarship vis a vis how they do history, not his particular position.

          He starts with the letters of Paul to find out about the historical Jesus.

          There is no historical Jesus in the Pauline corpus.

          But Paul had real disagreements with Peter and James [Jesus’ brother] when he met with them in Jerusalem. Apparently the two men who knew Jesus when he was alive had major differences of opinion with the Pharisee.

          Paul never claims Peter and James [not Jesus’ biological brother at all] knew Jesus when he was alive. In fact, Paul makes it clear that Peter and James “knew” Jesus, exactly the same way as he did, through scripture and revelation.

          We have the texts and we have historical evidence that every scholar assembles to undergird his/her conclusions.

          So what? That is my point. The problem is that the evidence is so inferior, incomplete, bastardised, and ambiguous, that scholars posit all sorts of Jesus concepts based on the texts…even his very existence.

          You need to know that I am talking about ancient history. There is no way I can ever be absolutely sure if I am right or not. Nor can I absolutely prove I am right.

          History is about what probably happened based on the best, honest, and most reasonable unbiased appraisal of the data. Historians of Yeshua fail at this for the most part.

          Otherwise, I may sound arrogant. And I hate arrogance.

          No…arrogance is what some scholars engage in by declaring knowledge to certainty. Not being arrogant is debating the data in full.

        • james warren

          An example of some historical evidence that is not even noted by some scholars is that Caesar was called Lord, God, Savior of the world and Redeemer.

          These exalted titles were carved into the stone architecture and stamped on the coins. This is true. This is a fact. This is historical evidence.

          And from this, some scholars have written that the phrase “Kingdom of God” preached by Jesus pointed to what the world would be like if God sat on the throne instead of Caesar.

          If historians used all historical evidence they would have to carry the material in a wheelbarrow. Or a tractor trailer.
          ++++++++++++++++++++++++
          John Crossan and Marcus Borg are two examples.
          In his lectures, Borg used to use this pattern:

          1. Here’s what I want to tell you.
          2. Here’s me telling it.
          3. And here’s what I told you.

          Crossan says of his opinion of Jesus:

          “[Jesus’] His strategy was the combination of free healing and common eating that negated the hierarchical and patronal normalcies of Jewish religion and Roman power. He was neither broker nor mediator but the announcer that neither should exist between humanity and divinity or humanity and itself.”

          Central to Crossan’s methodology is the dating of texts.
          And he is sure to give many examples of features of the wider historical context [what he calls “matrix”] surrounding the figure of Jesus.
          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          Some people believe in Q and some do not. History is not objective. There are many books about the Vietnam war. Still the debate goes on as to its reasons, its progress and the effect on military history.

          There is a diversity. That is my main point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          An example of some historical evidence that is not even noted by some scholars is that Caesar was called Lord, God, Savior of the world and Redeemer.

          And that is relevant because?

          If historians used all historical evidence they would have to carry the material in a wheelbarrow. Or a tractor trailer.

          Or they could just use a reference library, ya know, like they already do…and the way you did…if you are indeed a neurosurgeon as claimed. Anyone with a knowledge of basic education should know about reference books and how to access and use them.

          John Crossan and Marcus Borg are two examples.

          I’ve read both. Crossan, iirc, believes there was a crucifixion and the Romans disposed of the body in the usual way by putting it in a lime filled midden, or such. That is not a resurrection.

          http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/spiritofthings/easter-special-john-dominic-crossan-and-the/3466148

          I’m just not buying it that the gospel writers had this in mind when composing the story. The stories are to convoluted to show a real resurrected Jesus.

          John Dominic Crossan’s reconstruction of the events of Easter is based upon idiosyncratic presuppositions concerning sources and methodology, which would not be accepted by any other major NT critic. Concerning Jesus’ burial, Crossan is unable to make a plausible case for regarding Mark’s account as historicized prophecy, nor does he render doubtful the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea’s role in the burial. With respect to the empty tomb, Crossan fails to sustain his hypothesis that the Markan account is rooted in the Gospel of Peter and that the female dramatis personae are residue from the prior Secret Gospel of Mark. Crossan is largely silent concerning the appearances traditions, adopting the long‐refuted interpretation of the appearance stories as legitimations of authority. Finally, Crossan is unable to provide any convincing explanation of the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection.

          http://oxfordindex.oup.com/view/10.1093/0198269854.003.0010

          Some people believe in Q and some do not.

          The “Q” hypothesis was invented to answer a question that actually didn’t need it as the answer and is now better answered by alternative hypothesis such as the Farrer hypothesis for example.

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

          I invoke Occam’s Razor.

          History is not objective. There are many books about the Vietnam war. Still the debate goes on as to its reasons, its progress and the effect on military history.

          Oh I’m well aware of that. It’s about probabilities and using the best data available t come up with the most reasonable explanation. Bayes Theorem.

          There is a diversity. That is my main point.

          A point not contested here by anyone other than Christians.

        • james warren

          You may well be absolutely correct. That just happens to be what I myself could never claim.

        • Greg G.

          Some people believe in Q and some do not.

          I am in the “not” camp. Q is hypothesized to explain the similarities without having to explain the differences between Matthew and Luke. But both Matthew and Luke rejected Mark’s spit miracles so why would they need a reason to escape the implication that Luke rejected Matthew’s genealogy and nativity story? Matthew’s genealogy omits four names from the genealogy derived from the OT and his nativity has God allowing many babies to be killed while warning Jesus’ father only, so Luke had justification for that.

          The Sermon on the Mount and other monologues by Jesus in Matthew are very similar to topics discussed in the Epistle of James. But James does not attribute any of it to Jesus, in fact, it is mostly based on OT scripture. These Jamesian passages are counted as Q verses. So it would seem that Matthew used James as a source and Luke’s using the same language as Matthew for similar verses shows Luke used Matthew.

          Then there are the signs of editorial fatigue where Matthew changes something in the Mark story but reverts to Mark’s verbiage. Luke does the same with both Mark and Matthew.

          Luke says he used “eyewitness” accounts. That seems to be an assumption on his part. But it appears that he is referring to Mark, Matthew, and John, though he mostly rejects John. The Lazarus story shows up in a few places in Luke with Mary and Martha of Bethany and the Rich Man and Lazarus in Hades. The last line of the parable has Abraham saying it would be useless to send Lazarus back to earth would be useless. That is a flat out rejection of Lazarus’ resurrection. John 18:13 tells us that Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas and Josephus says explicitly that Annas had five sons who were also chief priests in the temple. Luke and John are the only gospels that tell us the name of the high priest. So the rich man in Hades is Caiaphas, the five brothers at his father’s house who he wants to warn are his brothers-in-law.

          John 21 is thought to be an addendum to John but it must have been done before Luke got a hold of it as the scene is used for the recruitment of Peter.

        • james warren

          These days when a teacher notices that two different students’ term papers have a block of material that reads exactly the same in both papers, they probably passed off the same Google link as their own words.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I had never had that thought before. It rings true, though.

        • james warren

          I’m sure that your own arguments against Q “hold water” as well as the many scholars who believe the theory/theories are not persuadable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are very strict rules on plagiarising in academia. Institutions use employ special plagiarising checker software to detect such antics and the rules for citation are also strict with precise criteria to be observed.

          https://library.leeds.ac.uk/skills-citations-harvard

        • james warren

          Pardon my paranoia and sensitivity, but are you saying I am plagiarizing?

          You can just ask me directly and show me specifics. I will be glad to go over it with you.

          I used to be a reporter/photographer for a couple of newspapers. Computers weren’t available back then. We used linotype machines that melted bars of lead and the operator would use an attached keyboard and come up with the actual “type” which was put on the press roller and ended up inked and printed.

          Anyway, it would be great to have had that software. Our sports editor at the time supposedly plagiarized something but I don’t remember anything happening to him because of it…

          I’m glad we have this software available. It should help us know the difference between the fake news and the real thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Pardon my paranoia and sensitivity, but are you saying I am plagiarizing?

          Nope. I’m merely pointing out that passing off the same words as their own from a Google search is illicit in scholarly writing which can result in being expelled in the most severe cases. Universities have strict rules and methods of detection, get caught and it is deemed similar to stealing.

          https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/143-students-expelled-for-plagiarism/402351.article

          For some reason you seem to think it was an acceptable activity in ancient writing. I took your comment as meaning students today do it too, illicitly using the same source, so it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal and doing it can have grave consequences. Plagiarism, like pseudepigrapha, is dishonest. Getting caught can have negative effect on the perps future.

          As this book will demonstrate, several other classical Latin authors join with Cicero in showing that the history of plagiarism extends back to ancient Rome. To be clear, by “plagiarism” I mean the culpable reuse of earlier texts, customarily described in terms of stealing, in which a person sources limit plagiarism to literary compositions and understand it to consist in misappropriating wholly or in part others’ work: it is not ideas and content in themselves that the plagiarist steals but a predecessor’s particular expression of ideas and content. The evidence stretches from the second century BCE through late antiquity and spans a range of forms, from poetry to history, declamation, and technical and other specialist treatises. Plagiarism joins with forgery as a recognized mode of falsifying authorship in ancient Rome. But there is a fundamental difference between them that justifies examining plagiarism on its own: the forger presents his own work under another’s name, while the plagiarist presents another’s work under his own name. ~ Scott McGill, “The ancient and the modern: approaching plagiarism in Latin literature”, Ch. 1, p 3

          Anyway, it would be great to have had that software. Our sports editor at the time supposedly plagiarized something but I don’t remember anything happening to him because of it…

          I wouldn’t doubt he got away with it. The media, and particularly newspaper reporters, are not renowned for their integrity. I can’t see how having that software back the day would have made a difference if there was no consequence to getting caught. Anyway, news reports are copied all the time, most articles cite the original source for the scoop though, even the more dodgy ones.

          I’m glad we have this software available. It should help us know the difference between the fake news and the real thing.

          How does that work then? Copying a mistake won’t demonstrate the mistake. The software only uncovers copying, it isn’t a polygraph at the same time.

        • james warren

          Every one of the gospel writers seem to have believed that they were allowed to speak for Jesus, oftentimes putting their own words into his mouth.

        • james warren

          You asked:
          Is there some historical material I’m not yet aware of?

          Are you aware of the Roman military law that said a Jew conscripted to help carry a soldier’s pack could only do it for one mile and no more?

          Are you aware of DNA studies that have illuminated the transmission of ancient texts?

          Do you know anything about “honor/shame” cultures?

          Do you know that Caesar was given exalted titles like Lord, God, Son of God, Savior of the World and Redeemer?

          That the Samaritans did not worship at the Jerusalem Temple but had their own temple on Mt. Gerizem?

          That the economic system in Jesus’ day displayed a mammoth gap between the elites and the average person?

          Just a few examples of historical evidence some do not know about today.

        • james warren

          The sense of the holy and the sacred can only be mediated through human experience.

        • Otto

          That is because the holy and sacred are concepts invented by humans.

        • james warren

          They weren’t invented. They are part of our shared DNA. The fact that myths of the world are so similar proves that in my
          view.

        • Otto

          They were invented…are you a geneticist that can show me where the sacred and holy gene is?

          EDIT: Maybe you were speaking metaphorically,… but if you were then how can you say they weren’t invented?

        • james warren

          The words and concepts we use were invented to describe the mundane as well as the ineffable. We have also invented the word “indefinable.”

          Wittgenstein said “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

        • Otto

          So either you meant that those concepts are literally part of our DNA (which I doubt you meant this), and can be empirically proven,

          or

          You meant this metaphorically, as in every person feels something ‘holy’ and/or ‘sacred’, which I don’t agree with.

          I get the feeling you are conflating terms and muddying the waters, maybe not on purpose but I am not getting any clearer sense of what you mean. Nor are you any closer to explaining that these concepts come from somewhere other than humans.

        • james warren

          Empirical truths are rational and logical. The truths in the Bible and other sacred literature are metaphoric.

          Many people got absolutely nothing out of high school poetry classes. Many people still believe that something is true has to be factually correct. Few engineers like to read about mythology.

        • Otto

          Ok…which ones are part of our DNA?

        • james warren

          The human brain is relatively the same in human beings. And across different cultures in different parts of the world, the holy and the sacred are described in remarkably similar ways.

          So many peoples who have had no contact with each other create myths that are remarkably similar.

          From the Middle East South America have myths about great floods, virgin births, and the afterlife.

          Since I am a longtime neurosurgeon and a mythologist, the ones that are part of our DNA are Part D, Part E and Part K through S.

          All knowledge is totally within my pay grade.

        • Otto

          >>>”So many peoples who have had no contact with each other create myths that are remarkably similar.”

          People that have had no contact with each other create all kinds of stories (not just myths) that are remarkably similar. That fact says nothing about “sacred and holy” being part of our DNA.

        • james warren

          Where do YOU believe those similarities come from? From the human brain which contains DNA? Or from the human propensity to come up with similar myths? What about the Axial Age when new ways of thinking simultaneously appeared in Persia, India, China and the Greco-Roman world in religion and philosophy–In a striking parallel development, without any obvious direct cultural contact between all of the participating Eurasian cultures.

        • Otto

          Humans have very similar experiences so I don’t find this surprising at all.

          Most areas that people live in flood, this was even more true thousands of years ago before we had things to help flood control and when it was more imperative to live close to water than it is now. Flood myths were a way of explaining what was often unexplained. I have no idea why it would need to be explained by divine intervention.

        • james warren

          I think in ancient cultures especially, the idea of a big man/woman in the sky who was all powerful and who was at the same time mysterious–and who they believed was responsible for all the horrors and benefits of their world would tend to see divine action, divine blessing, divine cataclysms, and divine intervention all coming from this strange and curious “other.”

        • Otto

          Yes….and anytime we have found out what the answer is for all the “horrors and benefits'” of the world it wasn’t divine anything. Answering the unknown with ‘Divine’ is just making stuff up so we don’t have to admit we don’t know.

        • james warren

          The divine, a god or the creator must necessarily do his/her/its work thought the same physical laws that govern everything.

          Here on earth, JFK once said, God’s work must truly be our own.

        • Otto

          The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.

        • james warren

          Sorry. I do not understand what you are trying to communicate here.

        • Otto

          You said…”The divine, a god or the creator must necessarily do his/her/its work thought the same physical laws that govern everything.”

          My point is…. what you describe cannot be attributed to the divine with any reliability.

        • james warren

          Here’s a metaphor. For me the divine is the beating heart of the cosmos.

        • james warren

          No opinion or interpretation or translation is reliable.

        • Greg G.

          Doesn’t that really mean that if we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done?

        • james warren

          If we personally don’t do it, we will not get it done.

          “Without God we cannot; without us, He will not.”
          –St. Augustine

        • Greg G.

          Yet the end of the age of pyramid building in Egypt was further back in time to the end of the Axial Age than the Axial Age was to the Germans who named it.

          The end of the Axial Age was right after Alexander the Great connected the rest of the world and opened trade routes. So the histories and writings of all those people were collected by Greek historians. So we get an excellent snapshot of the thoughts of different cultures going back a few centuries before but becoming muddled when they try to go back a few centuries more. But we know about the Egyptian culture from many centuries before because they carved their thinking in stone.

          From the Wikipedia article on the Axial Age:

          David Christian notes that the first “universal religions” appeared in the age of the first universal empires and of the first all-encompassing trading networks.[21]

          Anthropologist David Graeber has pointed out that “the core period of Jasper’s Axial age […] corresponds almost exactly to the period in which coinage was invented. What’s more, the three parts of the world where coins were first invented were also the very parts of the world where those sages lived; in fact, they became the epicenters of Axial Age religious and philosophical creativity.”[22] Drawing on the work of classicist Richard Seaford and literary theorist Marc Shell on the relation between coinage and early Greek thought, Graeber argues that an understanding of the rise of markets is necessary to grasp the context in which the religious and philosophical insights of the Axial age arose. The ultimate effect of the introduction of coinage was, he argues, an “ideal division of spheres of human activity that endures to this day: on the one hand the market, on the other, religion.”[23]

          It was not a coincidence that the world religions developed where there were trade routes. The religions that happened to be on trade routes had a good shot at becoming a world religion because they were on a trade route.

          For all we know, the one true religion was not on a trade route so it died out when the locals had a bad harvest and starved to death. Maybe they got kicked out of the Garden.

        • james warren

          You could be correct.

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

          All knowledge is totally within my pay grade.

          I don’t know you enough to reliably identify sarcasm. If you’re serious, that’s a rather bold statement.

        • james warren

          I tried to find the post, but I was unsuccessful. Would you be willing to help me out?

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

          I was replying to your previous comment, which is here.

        • james warren

          Yes, it was sarcastic.

          Sarcasm is always a “cover emotion” for anger.

          I should have said “I get really frustrated when you ask questions like that and expect me to fully answer them. I guess I believe any answer I give will be found wanting. But of course I could be wrong.

        • MR

          If that were true, language would never change or grow.

        • james warren

          It only grows if people allow for change and growth. Some people say “This means this and that’s it.” Reminds me of a 70’s bumpersticker: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

        • MR

          I suspect our thoughts are hindered less by our language than they are by our religion.

        • james warren

          Unfortunately, even discussing religion takes both thought and language….

        • MR

          Unfortunately? I’m not sure why that would be, but I wasn’t referring so much to religion as I was the idea that language limits our world. Innovation, invention, imagination, creation, new concepts happen every day. Just because I don’t have a word for something doesn’t mean I can’t think it.

        • james warren

          Absolutely.

        • Greg G.

          I can understand models of the structure of an atom without using the words “proton”, “neutron”, or “electron”. I need to understand the attractions of different wavicles. The names given to them are arbitrary.

        • james warren

          I’m still stuck in the Heisenberg Principle and entanglement. Anything else is above my pay grade. 😉

        • Greg G.

          I’m still stuck in the Heisenberg Principle

          To make things worse, you have no idea how fast you are going.

          I audited a quantum physics class once, back when I could do the math. I don’t think entanglement was being taught yet.

        • james warren

          Our solar system is supposed to be traveling at 515,000 mph. Fast.

        • Greg G.

          The Earth orbits the Sun at 18 miles per second and is only off of a perfectly straight line by a quarter of an inch.

        • james warren

          To make things worse, you have no idea how fast you are going.

          😉

        • Greg G.

          I still see that bumpersticker from time to time. It seems that those who stick that on their bumpers actually think, “I said it. God believes it. That settles it.”

        • MR

          Double bump

        • james warren

          I like the twist.

        • Susan

          It seems that those who stick that on their bumpers actually think, “I said it. God believes it. That settles it.”

          That would make a great bumper sticker.

        • james warren

          You might be correct. I just have a difference of opinion.

          I do agree that human beings have to “invent” words to describe their worldview.

          We seem to need a language to describe things. “Holy” or “sacred” do the job for many who speak and think in English.

          Many people get a sudden sense that the world is connected and they feel suddenly flooded with a sense that the universe is benign and alive.

          Some people would say that is a mystical experience, others might claim it was a “born again” sign, others may claim it was from something going on with the chemical content of the human brain.

        • james warren

          Every atheist does the same thing.

    • Greg G.

      but that all Gods and Goddesses exist perhaps s limited in their power.

      But why call them gods? They would be a different form of life.

      • Sagrav

        Well, to be fair, ancient religions often conceived of less-than-perfect gods, and still gave them divine status. The ‘gods must be all power, all knowing, and all loving’ concept is a later invention.

        • Greg G.

          Right, this argument does not rule out sadistic gods.

          The inconveniences of early man would have led them to want to appease indifferent gods. When warfare became a thing, winning was attributed to the gods, so more powerful gods became more desirable. An omnipotence became as desirable as a peacock’s tail.

          I tend to include omniscience in with omnipotence as it gives the power to know everything. But omniscience is not required for the argument as sufficiently powerful works as well.

          So how powerful does a being have to be to be a god? The Abrahamic religions have Satan being more powerful than most gods of polytheism but is not counted as a god because they want to claim to be monotheism. They also have angels and saints that can do more than gods of some religions.

    • james warren

      Not always. There are more than one tradition of God in the Bible.

    • Wussypillow

      Eh. I couldn’t really get into American Gods.

  • Ponder this

    TEST.

    • Joe

      -ICLES?

    • Jack Baynes

      I’ll give it a C-

  • james warren

    As a Christian, I am called to have a personal relationship with Jesus. To me this means letting him speak for himself.

    It does not mean worshiping Christ on a pedestal. It also means realizing the exalted titles like God, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, etc. were added to his name decades after the crucifixion.

    It means actually following Jesus’ actual teachings: the Kingdom of God in parables. And according to the text, Jesus taught “ALL” in parables.

    Jesus never claimed divinity in the synoptics.

    “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”
    “Friend, who made me a judge over you?”

    Peter proclaimed “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2:22).

    In Mark 13:32, Jesus declared that he himself does not know when the last day will occur, but the Father alone knows that.

    “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    “…sat on the right hand of God.”

    “The head of Christ is God…”

    “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…”

    Even in the Gospel of John [which is full of early Christian theology and dogma] there is the verse where Jesus says “God is greater than I.”

    • Joe

      Jesus never claimed divinity in the synoptics.

      While I agree with you, another poster here by the name of ‘Scooter’ claims that in fact he did. Not only the Christian God, but the omnipotent, Omniscient eternal being that is alleged to have created the universe.

      Seems there are as many different interpretations as there are Christians.

      • james warren

        There is a clear difference between the first three gospels and the Fourth Gospel–the Book of John,

        John was the last gospel written and contains a lot of early church theology. Although Jesus was said to teach “all” in parables, John’s account has none. No short sayings. The word “repent” is not found.

        The Jesus in John speaks in long, dense speeches all about himself and the importance of believing in him. There is no Last Supper nor any birth narratives. John tells us Jesus died on the Day of Preparation, a full 24 hours BEFORE Passover, when Mark, Matthew and Luke tell us when Jesus’ death took place.

        The more time elapsed after the crucifixion, the more Jesus was elevated to divinity. By the time the little Jesus movement got in bed with the Roman Empire in the 4th century, the more Jesus became morphed into Julius Caesar.

        Jesus has been forgotten. Instead of following his teachings, most Christians worship Christ on a pedestal.

    • Jack Baynes

      Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

      But God isn’t good, so this is a lie. Why do you follow a liar?

      • james warren

        God is neither good nor evil. God–whatever s/he it is–can only work through the same physical laws that everything in the cosmos is subject to.

        There is a clear difference between the church’s dogma and theology placed upon his lips long after he died AND the unique “voice print” of the prophet and wisdom teacher found in the text.
        Most believers in my view prefer worshiping Christ on a pedestal than actually paying attention to the actual teachings of Jesus.

        Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that “The Father makes his sun to shine on both the evil and the good and sends the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous alike.”

        Christianity has clearly become a religion Jesus would have rejected.
        The bitter irony is that Jesus said his message was for “The House of Israel.” He had nothing for the Gentiles–he mocked their praying style and referred to them as “dogs.”

        Now he is worshipped almost exclusively by Gentiles and has been labeled as God, Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, Son of God, etc.

        • Jack Baynes

          As I said, you place a lot of faith in a man you acknowledge is a liar

        • james warren

          Where, specifically did I acknowledge Jesus was “a liar.”?

        • Jack Baynes

          You said that Jesus said that only God was good. And then you acknowledged that God was not good.

        • james warren

          Jesus was referring to the fact that someone thought he was God.

          I am of the opinion that God is beyond good or evil.

          I NEVER said Jesus was a liar.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus was referring to the fact that someone thought he was God.

          Mark 10:18 (NRSV)
          18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

          That was in response to “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It was not a response to “Are you God?” Jesus said that God was good and nobody else was, including himself.

          The same story is told in Mark 10:17-30, Luke 18:18-30, and Matthew 19:16-29.

          Bad things happen. If God is omnipotent, then there is no need for bad things to happen. If God was good, then he wouldn’t allow those bad things to happen. So God is either not sufficiently powerful to achieve the logically possible things that bad things can achieve, God is indifferent, or God doesn’t exist.

        • Jack Baynes

          And according to the Bible where the character of Jesus makes these claims, God doesn’t just let bad things happen, he actively and intentionally causes bad things to happen.

        • james warren

          Many of Jesus’ parables point to a God who is unclean and corrupt.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This doesn’t cause any consternation for you? Given the attributes of the God of Christianity that is?

        • james warren

          The Bible has called God a potter, an eagle, a rock, a stream, an old woman giving birth, a storm and many other metaphors.

          If you believe God is immanent as well as transcendent, then all is God. Jesus says God is unclean, based on the Parable of the Samaritan, the Parable of the mustard seed and the Parable of the Leaven.

          This does not bother me. As far as Jesus is concerned, I find it fascinating.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Bible has called God a potter, an eagle, a rock, a stream, an old woman giving birth, a storm and many other metaphors.

          Non sequitur

          If you believe God is immanent as well as transcendent, then all is God.

          But I don’t believe that shit, so pah!

          Jesus says God is unclean, based on the Parable of the Samaritan, the Parable of the mustard seed and the Parable of the Leaven.

          Nope…that is just one interpretation, yours, of those parables that ancient story tellers put into their central characters mouth.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Mustard_Seed#Interpretation

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Leaven#Interpretation

          This does not bother me. As far as Jesus is concerned, I find it fascinating.

          I find your interpretations fascinating. They fly in the face of how just abut every Christian describes God.

        • james warren

          Before the early faith got in bed with the Holy Roman Empire, it was a band of Jews who saw God in Jesus instead of Caesar. Their mission was to go in pairs and knock on the doors of peasant householders to share a meal and do some healing.

          It was about open-heartedness and hospitality. And the preaching of the Kingdom of God ON EARTH–Not the Kingdom of Caesar and Rome.

          Today’s Christians worship a god they call Christ, Savior of the World, Redeemer, God, Messiah and other exalted titles which are no longer interesting, compelling or persuasive in today’s global culture.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Before the early faith got in bed with the Holy Roman Empire, it was a band of Jews who saw God in Jesus instead of Caesar. Their mission was to go in pairs and knock on the doors of peasant householders to share a meal and do some healing.

          Nonsense.

          Which one?

          And that’s another erroneous non sequitur too, btw. But anyway….

          Before the early faith got into bed with the “Holy Roman Empire” it had a plethora of manifestations that that Empire culled.

          It was about open-heartedness and hospitality. And the preaching of the Kingdom of God ON EARTH–Not the Kingdom of Caesar and Rome.

          Behave.

          Citation please?

          Have you actually read the Pauline corpus?

          It’s all about getting ones ducks in a row before the big day.

          The first Christians were an apocalyptic Jewish sect…apparently…looking after one another wasn’t a big priority when the day of reckoning was on ones doorstep.

          But by the fourth century, when it became the go-to faith of the “Holy Roman Empire”, it had so diversified that Constantine had to hold a meeting in order to stop the different sects tearing each other apart.

          We tend to think of the success of Christianity in the second and third centuries just on the eve on really when it becomes the prominent religion in the Roman Empire as if it were just one form of religiosity, when in fact the opposite is true. Christianity was extremely diverse during this period, and we probably ought to think of it as a kind of regional diversity; that is, the Christianity of Rome was different than Christianity in North Africa in certain ways, and that was different from what we find in Egypt, and that different from what we find in Syria or back in Palestine. We have, in effect, different brands of Christianity living often side by side, even in the same city. So, it’s a great deal of diversity.

          At one point in Rome,… Justin Martyr has his Christian school in one part of the city, and the gnostic teacher Valentinus is in another school in Rome, and another so-called heretic by the name of Marcion is also in Rome just down the street somewhere. All of these along side of the official papal tradition that developed as part of St. Peter’s See in Rome, all there together. So, even within one city, we can have great diversity.

          Now, what’s significant about this diversity is the fact that each form of Christian tradition tended to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. The image of Jesus for Justin Martyr is rather different than that that we see for Valentinus or Marcion or others as well. And this is especially true even in other parts of the empire. This is where we start to see a kind of proliferation of gospels … all over the empire, and by the third and early fourth century [more] than you can actually count, and certainly more than you can easily read within a bible. ~L. Michael White:Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin

          Marcionists…..Marcion considered Paul as the only apostle to truly understand Jesus’s message. The original 12, including Peter, he regarded as dense idiots. Marcion forbade marriage and urged celibacy of his followers (even those married), since bringing more children into the world meant bringing more people into captivity to the despotic Yahweh. Marcion was also a docetist, he believed Jesus never truly was a flesh-and-blood human being, but merely pretended to be one.

          While I don’t doubt that “brotherly love” would have been a good recruiting policy in some early Christian recruiting strategy. Richard Carrier alludes to this in one of his books which I can’t remember off the top of my head. It was not universal by any means. Fear tactics seem to be more important….and have been ever since.

          You do realise I know a wee bit about this subject, right?

        • james warren

          I know absolutely nothing for sure when it comes to Jesus, the Bible or the first century in the Mediterranean. I have my arrogant conclusions, but little else.

          When I said we all speak in metaphor, your post at the time contained two obvious examples of what I was talking about.

          You never answered–at least as far as I know.

          Are you willing to talk about this now?

        • Greg G.

          Their mission was to go in pairs and knock on the doors of peasant householders to share a meal and do some healing.

          That is fiction from the gospels. In the epistles, Paul went to cities and addressed churches. Sometimes he traveled with another person, sometimes more than one.

          The Jesus the early Christians thought of was what they read about in the OT as having lived during or before Isaiah’s time, IOW, the Suffering Servant. The early Christians were expecting him to come back with the clouds to raise the dead and change the living (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, and Philippians 3:20-21). Paul didn’t think people should even bother to get married except to legitimize sex if they couldn’t resist (1 Corinthians 7:7-8). He thought that the hidden mysteries being revealed to their generation meant that the Lord would return to that generation and there was no need to start a new generation, apparently.

        • james warren

          Jesus was a wandering prophet. It might have been easier for him to settle down in one place like the Baptizer did and let the people come to him. But Jesus did not operate out of a corporate model. He had a franchise.

          His instructions to his followers are explicit. Take no food, visit peasant households in pairs, share meals and do some healing.

          There’s no greater distance than the one traveled by stepping over the threshold of a peasant household.

        • Greg G.

          Paul was a wandering evangelist. Mark modeled his Jesus character on Paul and Oddyseus, both of whom traveled around the Mediterranean. Mark’s Jesus traveled around the “Sea” of Galilee.

        • james warren

          Is there any extant evidence that Mark knew Paul?

        • Pofarmer

          I believe you’re making stuff up based on Paul, and maybe Acts.

        • james warren

          I am not aware of making up anything.

          But perhaps I have.

          If you would be willing to provide some specific, sourced examples I would be more than glad to go over them together.

          It has been shown that it was Luke who made up Acts.

        • Pofarmer

          Where did this come from?

          “His instructions to his followers are explicit. Take no food, visit peasant households in pairs, share meals and do some healing.”

        • james warren

          Put “jesus go out in pairs” into Google. I remember about three references in the New Testament.

        • james warren

          Go to google.com and put “jesus travel in pairs.”

          As I remember there are three references to Jesus’ program in the New Testament.

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

          I haven’t seen you make an argument for your flavor of Christianity. Do you want to tell the atheists here why we should accept your worldview?

        • james warren

          I do the best I can. And whatever arguments I make I can never regard them as absolutely correct, nor can I regard the “proofs” as absolutely correct.

          Only gullible atheists should accept my worldview [if you could call it a world view!]. Most atheists, like fundamentalists, take the sacred and holy language of the Bible literally instead of metaphorically. In doing that, they both miss the great claim and epic hope in the text.. In my view anyway.

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

          Most atheists, like fundamentalists, take the sacred and holy language of the Bible literally instead of metaphorically.

          And it’s because the fundamentalists do so that atheists do so in return. We have to see things the way our antagonist sees them to make a fair critique.

          Of course, when discussing the Bible with someone who sees things a different way, then that way becomes the new standard.

        • james warren

          I don’t disagree. Because of the Enlightenment, factual truth is referenced over religious truth.

          Enlightenment, yes.
          But also Darkenment.

          The Enlightenment allowed us to think that ancient peoples (those “other” people) told stupid literal stories that we were now smart enough to recognize this.

          But actually, the authors of the Bible Those ancient authors told profoundly intelligent metaphorical stories that we were now unintelligent enough to take literally.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But actually, the authors of the Bible Those ancient authors told profoundly intelligent metaphorical stories that we were now unintelligent enough to take literally.

          This is nonsense.

          The metaphors have failed miserably in their purpose. Hence the need for hermeneutics and exegesis…which still don’t solve the issue of meaning and interpretation to any satisfactory level.An omniscient and omnipotent entity should be able to do much better.

          First, “we” are not taking them literally. It is the majority of believers that do. The point of the gospels were to mythologise a fiction after first historicising the character’s existence. Get yerself engaged in that debate. As a matter of fact, there is a “doctor of theology” burbling on this very site at the moment. I’d pay good money to see you interact with that bozo. A prime example of the diversity in Christian “thinking” for sure.

        • james warren

          Christianity–as we know now–is incredibly diverse ever since its inception.

          It’s difficult to speak without using metaphor.

          When we say the word “America” we are not usually talking about the land mass south of Canada and north of Mexico.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christianity–as we know now–is incredibly diverse ever since its inception.

          We always knew, but most people had little interest. Most Christians haven’t even read their own scriptures ffs.

          It’s difficult to speak without using metaphor.

          Now you are starting to sound like a kook.

          When we say the word “America” we are not usually talking about the land mass south of Canada and north of Mexico.

          Context is everything.

        • MR

          Most Christians haven’t even read their own scriptures ffs.

          And how can call yourself a Christian when you haven’t even read the manual?

        • Ignorant Amos

          http://cdn-9chat-fun.9cache.com/media/photo/a3g2WAdR1_480w_v1.jpg

          Just stick Cafeteria in front of Christian and yer laughing.

          It can be argued that cafeteria Christianity is not only commonplace, but actually required in order for the believer to remain a functional member of society, as opposed to fundamentalists like Jack Chick, who are obviously so paranoid and delirious that they cannot function in the real world. Even most “fundamentalists,” though, might get into an uproar about some Bible-approved ways of having fun.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Cafeteria_Christianity

        • Greg G.

          The same way you can be an end user without reading the End User License Agreement. You scroll to the bottom and click “I Agree”.

        • james warren

          Instead of boorish innuendo you probably meant to say that you don’t believe that metaphor is an important and common feature of human speech.

          Most of the time we do not realize 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.

          This process is simple language change.

          Yesterday’s metaphors become so common that today we don’t process them as metaphors at all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Instead of boorish innuendo you probably meant to say that you don’t believe that metaphor is an important and common feature of human speech.

          Nothing like putting words into my mouth and getting it wrong, is there?

          Metaphor is a common feature in human speech and thinking, but it is not without its problems and it is not everything.

          Most of the time we do not realize 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.

          Yes I know. Sometimes their meaning has become the “polar opposite” [metaphor] to the words original meaning in common parlance. What has that got to do with what we are talking about?

          This process is simple language change.

          And?

          Yesterday’s metaphors become so common that today we don’t process them as metaphors at all.

          We don’t? Why is that then?

          Are you suggesting that because a physical resurrection is impossible then the word never really meant a dead person that came back to life? That it has only got that meaning in recent history?

        • james warren

          Ancients were just like moderns, just like us.

          We all, most of the time [too much of the time !!!] cruise carelessly between fact and fiction, history and parable, and let ideology replace evidence

        • james warren

          I posted “It’s difficult to speak without using metaphor.”
          You posted back with some jejune name-calling:
          “Now you are starting to sound like a kook.”

          Given your own frequent use of metaphor I have pointed out, perhaps we ought to do some revision.

        • james warren

          Not until the revelation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other texts did researchers became exposed to the ancient diversities of ancient Judaism.

        • james warren

          And why do you think biblical passages are metaphor [or incorrect]?

          This choice is presented to Christians a lot, but I don’t see why atheists shouldn’t be asked it.

          Try to focus on both parts of the dichotomies by giving examples of something you think is true and one which is false. One which is meant as literal and one that is meant as metaphor.

          Using controversial examples as well. “Pontius Pilate existed” is fairly defensible, but “Jesus claimed to be God” is harder.

          The parable of the good Samaritan is obvious metaphor, but Jesus going out into the wilderness for 40 days might be intended as literal, but perhaps it’s a metaphor for the 40 years Moses spent in the desert.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And why do you think biblical passages are metaphor [or incorrect]?

          This question is incoherent to me in its present form. Can you rephrase it for clarity?

          Try to focus on both parts of the dichotomies by giving examples of something you think is true and one which is false. One which is meant as literal and one that is meant as metaphor.

          Therein lies the problem. There are obvious metaphors, but it is those blurred area’s that the difficulty arises.

          I don’t believe any of it is “true” as in any of it happened. But that’s not the issue.

          Using controversial examples as well. “Pontius Pilate existed” is fairly defensible, but “Jesus claimed to be God” is harder.

          More nonsense. The former can just as easily be made a metaphor and the second intended to be a fact. Intention and context is key.

          The parable of the good Samaritan is obvious metaphor,…

          Is it? I suggest you go and read it with some subjectivity. There is no reason why the scene could not have been a real event that is being used to make teach a lesson. It happens all the time.

          …but Jesus going out into the wilderness for 40 days might be intended as literal, but perhaps it’s a metaphor for the 40 years Moses spent in the desert.

          Which makes my point. You seem to be all over the place on this issue. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too.

        • Greg G.
          The parable of the good Samaritan is obvious metaphor,…

          Is it? I suggest you go and read it with some subjectivity. There is no reason why the scene could not have been a real event that is being used to make teach a lesson. It happens all the time.

          The Good Samaritan parable is taken from:

          2 Chronicles 28:15
          Then those who were mentioned by name got up and took the captives, and with the booty they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on donkeys, they brought them to their kindred at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

          2 Chronicles was taken to be history. It is not much of a metaphor in light of this. It is just telling it in singular terms instead of plurals.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It depends which interpretation one wants to run with. The one James prefers makes it a metaphor. That’s fine. But there is more than one interpretation of meaning.

          But if it comes from an actual event, or alleged actual event, as you suggest…then it is an example of a real incident being used as a teaching tool.

          Francis Schaeffer suggested: “Christians are not to love their believing brothers to the exclusion of their non-believing fellowmen. That is ugly. We are to have the example of the good Samaritan consciously in mind at all times.”

          The term “God Samaritan” is certainly a metaphor today.

          The term “good Samaritan” is used as a common metaphor: “The word now applies to any charitable person, especially one who, like the man in the parable, rescues or helps out a needy stranger.”

          We used to tell the students, when teaching the Mark 7 Anti Tank Mine, the example of the instructor who always demonstrated the “safety” of standing on such a mine, by jumping up and down on it. The mine could not go off with the weight of a man. Now each class, this instructor would religiously demonstrate this feat, but over time the spring in the mine gradually weakened, until one day doing his usual routine, the instructor jumped once too often, set the mine off, killing himself and most of his class. The lesson here was to impart the importance of treating all munitions with respect, regardless of what the specs say on the subject.

          Now, that story was told as an actual incident that had really happened and the lesson should be learnt. Whether it did really happen or not, I’ve no idea.

        • Greg G.

          I worked with a guy who said that when he was in the Army, an instructor was demonstrating an explosive for the class and threw it over his shoulder like he always did. However, he had forgotten that he happened to be teaching two classes and one class was behind him. My friend wore two hearing aids to back up the story.

        • Ignorant Amos

          See what a mean?

        • Michael Neville

          When I was in the Navy I was at a pistol range for marksmanship practice. The instructor said, “always treat each firearm as if it were loaded” and pulled the trigger on the .45 pistol he was holding. The bullet just missed the range master. That instructor wasn’t an instructor any longer.

        • james warren

          Today the Samaritan parable has been dumbed down to show what a good neighbor is. The Samaritans were the untouchables to normative Jews.

          If we wanted to preserve the parable’s initial surprise we might call it the Parable of the Sweaty Muslim with AIDS.

        • james warren

          “You seem to be all over the place on this issue. You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too.”

          …but only in metaphor. :)

        • Ignorant Amos

          …but only in metaphor. :)

          Yeah…obvious metaphors that work for purpose.

        • james warren

          “…obvious metaphors that work for purpose.”

          Is “purpose” the employer in your post and “obvious metaphors” are the employees?

        • Greg G.

          But actually, the authors of the Bible Those ancient authors told profoundly intelligent metaphorical stories that we were now unintelligent enough to take literally.

          But they’re metaphors were based on an incorrect understanding of the heavens. That they were vague enough that you can read modern knowledge into them is you creating a different metaphor than theirs.

        • james warren

          In Jesus’ day, the word “faith” simply meant “trust.”
          Something is responsible for all of this.

          Jesus saw a God of mercy who was not a jealous God koi retributive justice. His God wanted repentance and a contrite heart. Not sacrifice.

          Both transcendent and immanent.

          When an atheist and a believer take a trek through a rain forest, they can both exclaim “Wow-w-w-w-w…!”

          The holy and the sacred have nothing to do with organized religion of any kind.

          Every bush is burning.

        • Terrier

          Every bush is burning.
          That is a great line, thank you.

        • james warren

          There were definitely people who saw he was God.

          Other good people saw him and said “This guy’s boring–I’m outta here.”

          Some good people said “This guy is a threat. Let’s kill him.”

  • Lark62

    God spoke to me. She explained everything. She loves science and evidence and despises blind faith. The Bible was written and given to man as a test. Anyone who admires that pitiful garbage goes straight to a hell to listen to televangelists for eternity.

    She approves of anyone who rejects religion, respects our universe, works to figure it out and cares for the environment. Bonus points for appreciating coffee and chocolate, her finest creations.

    Ok Christians. Now prove that your god is more real than mine. And let’s toss in a Pascals Wager. You really ought to get rid of that bible just in case….

    P.S. I would be happy to put in a good word for you (since my deity likes me best). Just write your request on a $20 Starbucks card and send it to me at…… Use as many cards as needed…..

    • Wussypillow

      God never spoke to anyone because god doesn’t exist. You are mentally ill. Or lying.

      • Greg G.

        God never spoke to anyone because god doesn’t exist. You are mentally ill. Or lying.

        Or being a Poe.

        • samnsara

          I think she was being sarcastic lol

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s what being a Poe is….from Poe’s Law.

          http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Poe's_Law

          Or are ya just being sarky? //s

        • Greg G.

          I see that the post has now been deleted. Must have realized she was barking up the wrong tree.

        • Lark62

          Usually I include a sarcasm tag if something is borderline, but that one wasn’t even close. Which I guess means no starbucks gift cards for me. Sigh….

    • samnsara

      I like your god! :) shes my kind of goddess!!!

      • Lark62

        Yep. If we are going to make up a deity, we should at least make up one that is smart and fun.

        A christian once went on an on about how god judges people to make sure he doesn’t spend eternity with humans that don’t like him. He said god has to weed out everyone who doesn’t blindly praise and adore him so that he spends eternity with people who worship him. Blech.

        Aside from the pure silliness of that entire concept, what sentient being with any integrity whatsoever enjoys ceaseless admiration and blind ignorance? If there were a deity, why would anyone expect it to admire ceaseless false praise? That sounds more like a first date gone very, very bad.

        “Your hair is perfect. Your eyes are so pretty. Your taste is clothes is perfect. Your elbows are so nice. I love that color on you. You are really smart.”

        “Excuse me, I need to get home. I forgot to walk my fish.”

        “People who have fish are wonderful. They are the best.”

  • Steven Smith

    What most everybody doesn’t seem to get is that the world isn’t supposed to be perfect. Without pain/pleasure, sad/happy, cruel/kind, beautiful/ugly where would we be? We are supposed to become something better. If all was wonderful, how would that work? If all was horrible, it wouldn’t work either.

    • Joe

      Without pain/pleasure, sad/happy, cruel/kind, beautiful/ugly where would we be?

      Somewhere else?

      We are supposed to become something better

      We aren’t supposed to be anything.

      If all was wonderful, how would that work?

      Wonderfully.

      If all was horrible, it wouldn’t work either.

      Why not?

      • Steven Smith

        Enjoy your meaningless existence in this futile universe.

        • Greg G.

          My existence has the meaning that I give to it and I enjoy it very much. I am not going to waste a second of it hoping that a self-righteous being will reward me if I successfully guess what it wants with no clue whatsoever what it would consider worthwhile.

        • Steven Smith

          You misunderstand my point. I’m not talking about any “self-righteous being” rewarding anybody. I’m talking about realizing there is something greater that ourselves that doesn’t have anything to do with dogma and control of the masses. What do you want to be?

        • MR

          Do you not apply meaning to family, friendship, love, sunsets, puppies and kittens like the rest of the world? What is your meaning? How does something greater than ourselves give you meaning?

        • Steven Smith

          Yes I do, but silly “puppies and kittens” reference aside, I find meaning in every living thing out there, if I allow myself to. Even those who don’t act like I would prefer them to act. They are what they are, just like you and me.

        • MR

          I don’t find puppies and kittens silly, but I think we more or less agree here. I think I misinterpreted your misinterpretation of Joe’s comment. I would somewhat disagree with some of your characterizations, (e.g, “supposed to be”, “actual” love) but only marginally. I think your comment, “They are what they are,” would likely sum things up to both our satisfaction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hmmm…what meaning do you find in all the repugnant living things?

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve lived with cats for most of my life. I’ve been very attached to all of them (well, Genghis Khat can be obnoxious at times while Muffin and I had our moments of controversy). I do not find cats or kittens to be silly and I’m sure many dog owners feel the same way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just goes ta show. A love ya ta bits, but I hate domestic cats with a passion. Great to have atheism in common though.

        • Michael Neville

          What would this “something greater” be? Is it animal, vegetable or mineral? Is it bigger than a bread box?

        • Steven Smith

          How about love? You know, like actual love, not love because you’re supposed to.

        • Greg G.

          Is commanded love anything like actual love? “Love me or burn for eternity” is more like abuse. Loving someone that you know exists is better than loving a concept in your head. Loving someone who actually interacts with you is better than pretending random events are an interaction with “something greater”.

        • Michael Neville

          I see love as part of the human condition. Most people love or have loved other people. It goes with being human.

        • Joe

          What is love?

          Baby don’t hurt me

        • Greg G.

          If “something greater that ourselves” is about relationships with others, then, yes, those are terrific things. The actual relationships are more fulfilling than the fantasy relationships. My “self-righteous being will reward” comment refers to any fantasy relationship with any type of fantasy being.

        • Wussypillow

          But there is no such being. There are no gods and your explanations relying on them make no sense.

        • Joe

          What do you want to be?

          We get to choose? Then why do you say there is ‘something greater’?

        • Joe

          Thank you, I enjoy my existence very much.

          I hope you enjoy your pseudo-meaningful existence.

        • samnsara

          I actually enjoy my guiltless existence. I innately KNOW right from wrong by being a part of a society that has taught me….not from having to worship ANYONE one or ANYTHING! ( I do worship my dogs however 😉 they are my doG) No hell for me:)))))

    • Sagrav

      Assuming we were all created by a divine being (just for the sake of argument), what better ‘something’ are supposed to be moving towards? Also assuming that this being has the infinite power and knowledge that the Abrahamic God is said to posses, why not just make us this perfect ‘something’ to begin with?

      The only explanations for this scenario that made sense to me are:

      1. God is not as powerful as He is portrayed in His religions. He made us (and the universe) this way because He was incapable of a better solution. If this was simply admitted, I would have more sympathy for the character of God and His inscrutable plans. He is doing His best, and this is it.
      2. We are just God’s entertainment. Just as we would get bored if the characters in the stories we consume were always happy, healthy, and immortal, God would be bored if we were always happy, healthy, and immortal. This is a less sympathetic scenario. Eternal, unending boredom sounds pretty hellish to me, but I could not justify all of the pain and suffering inflicted on sentient beings for my entertainment.
      3. God really is just evil. He enjoys the suffering inflicted on us, and He tries to maximize this suffering by letting us experience temporary happiness. Eternal damnation is just the cherry on the top for this version of God. Even as a non-believer, I find this scenario least appealing.

      (I excluded the atheist explanation (there is no God) for the purpose of discussion.)

      If you have another explanation that makes sense, I like to know.

      • Greg G.

        If God could make a sinless Jesus, why couldn’t he make a sinless Adam? Why not put Jesus in the Garden of Eden and make Eve or Mary Magdalene out of his rib?

        • Otto

          I thought Adam was sinless until the fateful fruit?

          I wonder why God could not have just kept the issue to him and Eve instead of punishing all the billions that came after…seems a little over the top.

        • james warren

          The trouble is, no human being is sinless.

        • Greg G.

          The basic theology of Christianity is that Jesus was sinless. An omniscient God should have anticipated the problem with Adam and just went straight to Jesus in the Garden. Would a rib woman from Jesus be tempted by a serpent?

        • james warren

          I prefer history, not theology. Especially in regard to Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          Where do you get history? The gospels are works of literature, composed by reworking the literature of the day from Greek literature, Jewish scripture (especially the Septuagint), some of Paul’s letters, and Josephus. aJohn even used Philo and other Egyptian sources of literature.

          The early epistles only speak of Jesus in OT terms, not as eye-witnesses.

        • james warren

          I have a difference of opinion with you on what the Bible contains. I see it as a complex blend of remembered oral history, legends, stories, different historical traditions, competing theologies, metaphors, parables and myths, paradox and discrepancies.

          It is a human product. It reveals the history of the Jews’ relationship with what they called Yahweh.

          It is perfectly reasonable to view the Bible through a lens of literature. But I see it as literature that contains history, theology,legends, etc. etc.

        • Greg G.

          I see it as a complex blend of remembered oral history, legends, stories, different historical traditions, competing theologies, metaphors, parables and myths, paradox and discrepancies.

          So did I until I saw that it was just a combination of literature using the Greek technique of mimesis, shich is similar to the Roman technique of imitatio and the Hebrew technique of midrash. Writing are combined to arrive at new ideas and new stories. Sometimes it is done so that the reader is supposed to understand the sources being used.

          For example, Homer’s epics were the most popular writings in the first century. Vergil’s Aeneid was a work of imitatio based on Homer that brought in Roman ideals. The Demonaic in Mark is based on the Cyclops tale of the Odyssey. The Cyclops’ sheep are now pigs, which propably come from the story of Crice who turned Odysseus; men into pigs. The Cyclops’ name was “Polyphemus”, which means “famous” because it literally is “many speak of” with “poly” as in “polygon” and “phem” as in “blasphemy”. Mark wrote the introduction as “he said, ‘Legion is my name, for we are many.” In Greek, the word for “said” is “lego” and the name is “Legio”, a Latin word for “many soldiers” and the next phrase emphasizes the “many” connotation. (Mark uses Latinisms and Aramaicisms which he usually explains while never explaining the Latinisms, which tells us he expected his readers to read Greek and know Latin, which would likely be Romans.) So the “lego legio” forms a bilingual pun for “many speak of”. If you watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? and you know a little about the Odyssey, you will notice that the story has borrowed many elements. Since the Odyssey was the most popular work of the time (I read that they found a list of books owned by a library which said they had 800 or so copies of Odyssey and a hundred or so fewer copies of Iliad while no other work had more than a hundred.) I think Mark was making it obvious as a wink to his readers.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash, by Robert M. Price, collects the work of may scholars who have traced the sources of many passages in the Gospels. They each independently did separate sources, which is just part here and there, many under the assumption that the rest was from oral traditions and what have you. But combined, they leave very little to be from history or oral sources.

        • james warren

          There are many tropes containing rhetorical arguments and forms of speech that are derived from extra-canonical literature such as Homer [not “Simpson”].

          The Homeric influence on Luke is kind of a slippery, supple and even subtle thing. Nevertheless, many biblical historians who have done a comparative reading do reveal a complexity and density of Homeric allusion in the narrative pattern of Luke’s Gospel–especially one particular chapter [which I do not remember].

          Robert M. Price now believes that Jesus was a myth.

          Since all four gospels mention Jesus’ actions in the Jerusalem Temple, it is a high probability that there was a historical event behind the text. This is remembered oral history, in my view.

          An example of a legend might be the killing of the giant Goliath. It’s up to the reader to determine whether Goliath was killed by David or by Elhanan. Or that Noah led the animals in pairs into the Ark or did he lead seven animals at a time into the Ark?

          There are competing theologies: Jesus believed in a jealous God of sacrifice and another Jesus believed in a God of grace and mercy.

          An example of a metaphor is when the temple curtain tore in two the moment of Jesus’ death.

          Examples of parables can be seen in his Kingdom of God teachings.

          Myths are found in the Flood and the Creation stories.

          A paradox is when Jesus’ mother was told by God that her son would be a great sign to the nations, yet later why did she seize him and believe he was mentally ill?

          There was a tradition that Jesus believed in a God of mercy who wanted repentance and a contrite heart. There was a newer tradition of a God of retributive justice who demanded a blood sacrifice. There were two different traditions and the final editor decided to include both of them.

          An example of a discrepancy is that John asserts Jesus’ death occurred a full 24 hours BEFORE the other three gospel writers say.

        • Greg G.

          The Homeric influence on Luke is kind of a slippery, supple and even subtle thing. Nevertheless, many biblical historians who have done a comparative reading do reveal a complexity and density of Homeric allusion in the narrative pattern of Luke’s Gospel–especially one particular chapter [which I do not remember].

          There are many such passages in Mark that follow Homer. Dennis R. MacDonald wrote The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. The Feeding of the 5000/4000 are based on Elisha’s Feeding of the 100 and the travels of Telemauchus, Odysseus’s son. Why two meals? Because Telemauchus visited two kings having feasts. He walked to one and sailed to one, just as Jesus did.

          But it is not unusual for Greek writings of the time to borrow from Homer.

          Luke’s use of Josephus is interesting. The book of Acts shows many places that are based on Josephus, especially Antiquities of the Jews and Vida. The Gospel of Luke is about 70% based on Mark and Matthew but the parts from Josephus are found in the other 30%.

          Since all four gospels mention Jesus’ actions in the Jerusalem Temple, it is a high probability that there was a historical event behind the text. This is remembered oral history, in my view.

          Preceding the Temple Tantrum is the Cursing of the Fig Tree because it wasn’t fig season. Then he gets mad at the temple. The next day, they notice that the tree has withered because Jesus got mad. The Markan sandwich sets up this analogy:
          Jesus gets mad at tree :: Jesus gets mad at temple
          Tree withers :: _______________

          Since Mark was writing to an audience that knew Latin, they would have been familiar with the Vespasian propaganda about the sacking of Judea, and that would have jumped into their minds.

          Since The Feeding of the 5000 and the Temple Tantrum are clearly inventions of Mark and that all four gospels have those stories, we know that they are not independent accounts.

          Most of the miracles performed by Jesus in Mark are based on OT miracles such as Elijah and Elisha. The Walking on Water seems to be taken from Hermes walking on water to Achilles ship. The spit miracles seem to be based on Vespasian propaganda about the miracles he is claimed to have performed in the Serapis temple in Alexadria. John has his own spit miracle but Matthew and Luke omit them and the fig tree taking a whole day to noticeably wither.

          It’s up to the reader to determine whether Goliath was killed by David or by Elhanan.

          Yes, and how David presented Goliath’s head to King Saul in Jerusalem before Saul had captured Jerusalem.

          An example of a metaphor is when the temple curtain tore in two the moment of Jesus’ death.

          Sure, the doors of the temple pointed in the wrong direction for anybody to see both the death and the curtain to be able to see that the curtain tore when Jesus died. It’s just Mark in omniscient narrator mode. But the story goes back to Mark 1:10, in a chiastic-like move, to where the heavens open and the spirit descends to Jesus. The tearing of the curtain was the tearing of the heavens as seen by Josephus’ description:

          Jewish War 5.5.4
          It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.

          That description is consistent with the description of the curtain in Exodus 26:31-37.

          Examples of parables can be seen in his Kingdom of God teachings.

          We don’t see parables in the epistles, nor any other Jesus teachings. They seem to have been invented by Mark from Psalm 78:1-4.

          A paradox is when Jesus’ mother was told by God that her son would be a great sign to the nations, yet later why did she seize him and believe he was mentally ill?

          They thought he was crazy in Mark which was written before the rest of the story. Mark was making it up. He may not have meant for anyone to take it anymore seriously than Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court .

          There was a tradition that Jesus believed in a God of mercy who wanted repentance and a contrite heart. There was a newer tradition of a God of retributive justice who demanded a blood sacrifice. There were two different traditions and the final editor decided to include both of them.

          We see a big rift between Paul and the circumcision sect of James, John, and Peter, too.

          An example of a discrepancy is that John asserts Jesus’ death occurred a full 24 hours BEFORE the other three gospel writers say.

          The Mocking of Jesus seems to have been based on Philo, Flaccus, Book VI matching phrase for phrase but with the youngsters being changed to soldiers and other details. This is right after the Barabbas story. The person mocked in Philo was Carabbas. The only difference in the Greek spellings is the same as the difference in English.

          Barabbas is in the form of an Aramaic name. Mark explains Aramaic, like explaining the name “Bartimaeus” as being “the son of Timaeus”. He has Jesus open the Gethsemane prayer with “Abba, Father” to explain that. So when the readers are introduced to Barabbas, they should know that he is another “son of the Father”. That sets up the Atonement Ritual in Leviticus 16:5-22 where two goats are chosen, one is killed for the sins of the people and the other is released into the wilderness to carry away those sins.

          However, that ritual is performed at Yom Kippur which is several months later than Passover, which is not about sin. John tries to make it so Jesus is killed when the Passover lambs are killed. But it would have made more sense to move it to the whole thing to Yom Kippur.

        • james warren

          I am impressed that you have so many necessary sources close at hand. And I appreciate your ability to get them all lined up in your posts. And your concise writing ability.

          Your valuable opinions and interpretations are noted.

        • Greg G.

          I have it on a thumb drive. I can be detailed when I am not posting from my phone.

        • james warren

          Again, I have discovered–based on a couple of your posts–that you are more than aware of scholarship and seem to have read all kinds of historical and theological conclusions.

          You are obviously biblically literate and are more than aware of the Byzantine landscape of scholarly opinion and research.

          I think it is essential that the people in the pews become acquainted with what the 400 years of scholarship have taught us. They should know that history DOES inform faith and that the Medieval pillars of Christianity have collapsed long ago. Since we see things at 24 frames a second, most of us are yet unaware. And of course, it has only been recently that the word “religion” has had an “S” affixed to it.

          I find something new everytime I read a new book. I have just put down an old book by Harry Emerson Fosdick which my mother used to have a copy of.

          I am glad you are here to provide me with new information. I am the kind of person who LOVES my comfortable little rug pulled out from under me. It’s one of the main ways I learn.

        • Greg G.

          Rug pulling is my hobby! }:‑)

        • Greg G.

          About my claim that the “The early epistles only speak of Jesus in OT terms, not as eye-witnesses,” Paul mentions “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Jesus Christ”, and “Christ Jesus” three hundred times in a little less than 1500 verses in his “authentic” epistles. (Philemon was included but no Jesus claims were made. Those 25 verses would put the total over 1500 verses.) It is mostly adulation about Jesus in heaven. I have read that it is more like once for every three verses when “Lord” and pronouns are included. But he never tells us anything about Jesus that cannot be found in the Old Testament.

          Paul insists that his knowledge did not come from human sources and that he got it from the scriptures and by revelation but the revelation seems to have been limited to scripture, not from divine inspiration. Paul claims that his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “super-apostles”, whom the gospels claim were disciples of Jesus, which doesn’t seem like a claim anyone would make if it was known that the “super-apostles” actually knew Jesus. Paul says he spent two weeks with Peter so it is not likely that Peter would never have mentioned it.

          Past
            Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10
            Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
            Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
            Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5
            Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
            Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
            Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9
            Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
            For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49, 2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10
            Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
            Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)
            Was crucified for sins > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 15:3, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13* > Isaiah 53:12, Deuteronomy 21:23
            Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
            Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
            Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
            Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
            Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8

          (* indicates that passage contains a direct quote from the Old Testament)

          The Philippians Hymn makes some claims which can be shown, phrase for phrase, to be derived mostly from Isaiah, except the the crucifixion mention which comes from the series of OT quotations in Galatians 3 to justify the claim of crucifixion.

          1 Timothy mentions the trial before “Pontius” Pilate, which is an indication that he read Luke as that is the only gospel to give Pilate’s first name. 2 Peter claims that the Christians are not following “Cleverly devised myths” but then cites it proof as one of the most cleverly devised myths in the gospels – Matthew’s version of the Transfiguration, which is the only version that combines language from the baptism scene.

          The other epistles only refer to Jesus the way Paul does, in Old Testament allusions and as a heavenly being.

        • james warren

          Wow. That took you a lot of work. I sure appreciate your efforts. Bishop John Shelby Sprong shows how the New Testament comports with the Jewish calendar year.

          Your post definitely shows that biblical scholarship is important to know about.

          The question comes back to me immediately and inevitably. Undergraduates asked it, and audiences still ask it: “Yes, but are you saying everyone knew they were only parable back then, or that they thought they were history back then, but you think they are parable right now?” I try not to show pain at that slipped-in word only, and I used to answer something like this. Ancient people could hear those stories and not ask that question about literal truth. If they believed them, they were true. If not, not. I do not speak like that anymore. It was a condescending answer because, more and more, I find those ancients just like us and us moderns just like them. In matters of vital importance, moderns and ancient alike acept or reject stories far more on an ideological than an evidentiary basis. We too, Enlightenment or not, ask far too seldom: “Yes, but is that literally true?” …

          Both sides are definite, articulate, and unyielding. Neither side ever mentions a single shred of evidence either way. The story of JFK is true or false depending on the hearer’s ideology. It is accepted or rejected as a metaphorical summary and symbolic condensation of one’s vision of reality. p 141-2

          The advantage of not having someone insist, early and explicitly, that one’s stories, whether they are biblical or national, are literally fact and inerrantly true, is that you are left free, at least later, to do two things:

          The first is to recognize ideology, whether it is theirs [“We are only trying to civilize you natives and convert you savages”] or ours [“They are only trying to enslave our people and loot our resources”].

          The second is to figure out when the story is parable and when the story is history.

          It is truly sad when all you can say about Christmas is that there is no Santa Claus.

          Perhaps the ancients were just like us moderns,.
          We all [at least I do!] most of the time–maybe too much of the time, cruise carelessly between fact and fiction, history and parable, and let ideology replace evidence.

          During the Enlightenment, we began to think that ancient peoples (those”other” peoples) told dumb, literal stories that we were now smart enough to recognize as such.

          But not quite.

          Those ancient people told smart, metaphorical stories that we were now dumb enough to take literally.

          Paul’s inauthentic [forged] letters are said to be Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.

          Historical opinion is sharply divided on whether or not Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are genuine letters of Paul.

        • Greg G.

          The second is to figure out when the story is parable and when the story is history.

          When the whole story is based on the literature of the day and is based on the characters of that literature, you can eliminate that as history because it is created fiction. That leaves travels from place to place to do the fictional stories. There is no story there when you pull out the fiction. You have a mix of Jewish and Greco-Roman philosophies in a parable form. It’s like the westerns of the 50s and 60s or Star Trek, which was a horse opera set in space.

          It is truly sad when all you can say about Christmas is that there is no Santa Claus.

          Christmas is about family and getting together. Without that, it would be no bigger than Easter, which for most is about candy and hard-boiled eggs. Easter is like Halloween where people get dressed up in clothes they don’t wear at any other time of year and go someplace they don’t ordinarily visit: church or neighborhood houses.

          Perhaps the ancients were just like us moderns,.
          We all [at least I do!] most of the time–maybe too much of the time, cruise carelessly between fact and fiction, history and parable, and let ideology replace evidence.

          Those ancient people told smart, metaphorical stories that we were now dumb enough to take literally.

          True. We have our myths but we have made advancements like we know that hearts and kidneys are not brains.

          Elijah and Elisha were sun and moon gods. Elijah is described as hairy and Elisha is described as bald. Samson’s hair was important to him and his name sounds like the word for “sun” while “Delilah” sounds like the word for “night”. Esau is hairy. Jacob wrestled with God and was going for the pin when God magically dislocated his hip. These gods had to become human in the stories when the religion changed to monotheism.

          The stories evolved over time to meet the narrative needs of the people.

          Paul’s inauthentic [forged] letters are said to be Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.

          Historical opinion is sharply divided on whether or not Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are genuine letters of Paul.

          I think Ephesians and Colossians were written by close followers of Paul but had some different understandings. 2 Thessalonians appears to have been written by someone who knew how those of the day who knew how to detect forgeries to foil those people.

          I think there are interpolations in 1 Corinthians. In 1 Cor 10:18-22, Paul makes an exhortation, asks a rhetorical question, then answers the question with the same metaphor. The third cycle of the pattern lacks the response to the question but we find it in 1 Cor 11:30-31. This seam indicates all in between is an interpolation, and that includes the Eucharist story, which uses scripture the way Mark does but has some of the language found in Luke.

          2 Corinthians seems to be a compilation of letters but they may be authentic letters from Paul, anyway. 1 Corinthians 5:9 mentions an earlier letter which may be 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1. 2 Corinthians 2:3-4 and 2 Corinthians 7:8 mention another letter which could be 2 Corinthians 10 to 13, the Letter of Tears. Ephesians 3:3 mentions a letter that could be an authentic Pauline letter. Colossians 4:16 mentions a letter from Laodicia.

        • james warren

          You might be right. I have no idea.

        • james warren

          One more thing. Paul seems not to be aware of a virgin birth tradition. He only said Jesus was “born of a woman.” He also seems not to have heard of the Empty Tomb tradition, for he simply says Jesus was “buried.”

        • Greg G.

          Heck, even Luke didn’t think the Empty Tomb was a good argument for Paul to make. In Acts 26, Paul is in Agrippa’s court. First, he uses the Jews as character witnesses to say he is not crazy. Then he gives a crazy third version of a testimony written in Greek where Jesus appears to him to say in Aramaic while quoting the Greek god Dionysus from Euripides’ Bacchae. He could have used the Jews as witnesses for the empty tomb.

        • james warren

          Borrowing work from other extant manuscripts was not always considered dishonest back then. In the Pauline forged letters, it was not uncommon for a student of a writer to compose his own material and affix the name of his teacher to it.

        • Greg G.

          Bart Ehrman’s book Forged disputes that commonly held belief and gives examples of that being criticized. With Paul’s letters, many are disputed because they disagree with his other letters. 2 Thessalonians seems to have been written so as to evade the forgery detection methods of the day.

          But Acts is not about Paul’s teachings but Luke’s own. Acts is as fictional as the gospels.

        • james warren

          Luke’s introduction to his gospel–to Theopolis–shows that there were many different accounts of Jesus that were available to him.

        • Greg G.

          The text of Luke identifies the sources as Mark, Matthew, and John. He used many OT sources but heavily relied on Deuteronomy. He used some Josephus, too, but not when he was using Mark or Matthew, though may habe where he was refuting John with the Rich Man and Lazarus. Any other sources he may have used would be minor and just as likely to be from Luke’s own hand.

        • Ignorant Amos

          More nonsense.

          Ehrman’s argument in “Forged” and “Forgery and Counterforgery” shows that forgery, aka pseudepigrapha…was definitely frowned upon.

          Borrowing work from other extant manuscripts was not always considered dishonest back then.

          So how do you know which is was dishonest and which wasn’t?

          In the Pauline forged letters, it was not uncommon for a student of a writer to compose his own material and affix the name of his teacher to it.

          Yeah…we get it…lying for Jesus was acceptable from the get-go. We know from examples that it was considered then as it is now, that is, nefarious. Why do it otherwise?

        • james warren

          You probably meant to say that the information I am sharing makes no sense to you.

          Bart Ehrman is not the only biblical scholar. William Laine Craig, Dominic Crossan and Tom Wright are helpful in understanding the broad range of opinion among scholars and historians.

          Everyone has an agenda and everyone constructs a Jesus that has to make sense to them.

          John wanted a sacrificial Jesus. Christians today want a Jesus who is against abortion, gay rights and welfare.
          Others wait hopefully for the discovery of a new text that proves definitively that Jesus is a myth and never existed.

          This, I would say, is not “lying for Jesus.” It is making one’s own best choice given the much contradictory evidence from the Bible.

          Finally, I would say that everyone has that right.

        • james warren

          If Jesus was sinless then John would have no reason to baptize him.

        • Greg G.

          Exactly. Mark states that John’s baptism was for remission of sins. Jesus gets adopted after his sins were washed away in the river. The other gospels tap dance around that issue. John doesn’t say that John the Baptist did it, only that he witnessed what happened after Jesus was baptized. Matthew has John saying that Jesus should baptize him but Jesus tells him they were just doing it for show in order to appear to fulfill prophecies. Luke throws in the mention of John being arrested in the middle of that story just before it says Jesus was baptized so it obfuscates who did the baptism.

          Mark doesn’t have Jesus as a pre-existent being. That comes up in the later gospels and being baptized for remission of sins became embarrassing later but it was not embarrassing to Mark.

          But in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2, it specifically says that John the Baptist’s baptism was not for remission of sins. That makes me wonder how much of that part of Antiquities is authentic, as I suspect it might have been altered in a particular Christian’s text around the time the later three gospels were written, and the versions we have are great-grand-copies of that.

          The Testimonium Flavianum is Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3. Origen mentions the Baptist passage and the “brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ” passage but he makes no mention of the TF, so it appears the JtB passage would have to have been done before the TF. Eusebius is the only person to mention the TF until Jerome mentioned it once a century later. Eusebius inherited Origen’s whole library. AIUI, Origen bequeathed his library to the city of Caesarea and Pamphilus of Caesarea became the curator and he was also the mentor of Eusebius of Caesarea.

      • Steven Smith

        The thing about gods in general is that they don’t just allow bad things to happen, but actively do bad things or have another agent do them on their behalf, like the example of Job. The Gnostics had an interesting explanation for this situation. They claimed that the God portrayed in the Old Testament (and elsewhere in world religion) is not ultimately God, but a deluded entity that imagines himself/herself to be God and this situation was a cosmic accident of some sort. They also said that the “Father” references of Jesus Christ refer to a higher God, not that jerk known as Jehovah. This makes a somewhat convincing argument, given what we observe in the world. However, I believe it is incomplete. I don’t think evil, or what we perceive as evil, is accidental in any way.

        Difficulties, injustices, pain, etc. are a necessary part of life, just like death reveals whatever meaning and essence we may have when we reach it’s threshold, these things are part of the deal. We don’t get to decide what happens to us, but we get to decide how to react to it.

        Every wisdom tradition includes the concept of balance of opposites. Any satisfactory discussion of which is beyond what can be communicated here. Peace.

        • Greg G.

          They claimed that the God portrayed in the Old Testament (and elsewhere in world religion) is not ultimately God, but a deluded entity that imagines himself/herself to be God and this situation was a cosmic accident of some sort. They also said that the “Father” references of Jesus Christ refer to a higher God, not that jerk known as Jehovah.

          Wasn’t that the Marcionists’ idea?

      • james warren

        Let’s be clear. The god-centered world’s faiths all have a deep and profound tradition of God being beyond human description.

    • samnsara

      if there was a god there wouldn’t be a trump…just saying….

    • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

      How does drowning babies in a tidal wave make us better?

      The world is the way it is because there is no god. Any decent god would give us challenges that did not involve natural disasters, bacterial and viral diseases, and deadly parasites who can only survive by killing other beings. The fact that your god allows things like cancer and eye-burrowing worms means that he is either evil or he doesn’t exist.

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

      I don’t see that the world is “supposed” to be anything. It is what it is. There was no plan or Creator.

      Or is this what you’re saying? I agree that bad things help us appreciate the good.

  • Teto85

    Would it upset your applecart if I were to tell you that there is no god?

    There is no god.

  • samnsara

    great article!!!

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

    “The Bible isn’t much help to the Christian when it documents what God does when he’s off his meds. He demands human sacrifice and genocide. He supports slavery and polygamy. He drowns the world.”

    Don’t forget the cannibalism:

    “And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine.” — Isaiah 49:26

    “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.” — Jeremiah 19:9

    • Lark62

      Another example of biblical morality, from the “real” 10 Commandments in Exodus 34:

      19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.

      “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.”

      The first offspring of every womb is to be killed, except you can kill something else instead of a donkey, and you >i>must kill something else instead of a son.

      Hmmm. There seems to be an exception missing….

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

    This blog post reminds me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn1VxaMEjRU

  • wally_18v

    To begin with the bible was written by men who wanted more control over everyone. Mostly prosperous men, who else knew how to read and write? Men who wanted their women to do whatever the man wanted, without competition with other men. And yet here we are several thousand years later with so many believing that a suernatural being they call God wrote the book.

    A fairy tale with no heroes.
    .

    • james warren

      “Everybody wants to rule the world.”

  • Gary Whittenberger

    Bob, I have read many of your essays, and I must say that this seems your best yet. Thanks for writing it.

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

      Thanks!

  • Anselm Kersten

    I get increasingly fed up with apologist arguments attempting to rebut the problem of evil, and you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why. Trying to establish that anthropological and/or natural evil is consistent with a good god is putting the cart before the horse. The existence of said god is purely speculative, and any such exercise is therefore as useful and as logical as deciding exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.