25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 1)

To give me a time to work on a new book project, I’m replaying a few oldies from the vault. I’ve recently been adding to this list (spoiler: I’m already well past 25), but let’s go back and review the first few arguments from four years ago. 

Hey, gang! Get out your Christian Fallacy Bingo cards and cross off the bogus arguments as they’re called out! These are some of the dumb arguments apologists often use. Christians, do us all a favor—yourself especially—and make good arguments. These aren’t what you want to use.

Stupid Argument #1: the consequences of atheism are depressing.

Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.

This is like saying that the consequences of earthquakes and hurricanes are sad or unfortunate. Sure, the consequences of reality can be sad, but that doesn’t make them untrue. “Atheism is depressing; therefore, it’s false” is a childish way of looking at the world. A pat on the head might make us feel better, but are we not adults looking for the truth?

As for life being meaningless, I find no ultimate meaning, but then neither can the Christian. Atheists can find plenty of the ordinary kind of meaning. Look up the word in the dictionary—there is nothing about God or about ultimate or transcendental grounding. (More on objective truth here.)

Stupid Argument #2: I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.

The argument is more completely stated: If God existed, I would sense his presence; I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists. This is the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (formal version: if P then Q; Q; therefore P). I’ve discussed this in more detail here.

The point is that there could be lots of reasons why you sense God’s presence, God’s existing being only one of them (and the least likely). Maybe you were just raised that way and are a reflection of your culture. Maybe humans were programmed by evolution to err on the side of seeing an intelligence behind that rustling in the woods.

I can’t tell whether you’ve deluded yourself or whether you’re justified in believing in a supernatural experience. Nevertheless, your subjective personal experience may be convincing to you, but it won’t convince anyone else.

Stupid Argument #3: defending God’s immoral actions.

Christians might say that genocide or slavery was simply what they did back then, and God was working within the social framework of the time. Or they might say that God might have his own reasons that we mortals can’t understand.

This is just embarrassing. You’re seriously going to handwave away God’s being okay with slavery (discussed in detail here and here) and ordering genocide (here, here, and here)? If it’s wrong now, it was wrong then. How do you get past the fact that the Old Testament reads just like the blog of an early Iron Age tribe rather than the wisdom of the omniscient creator of the universe? And if you dismiss slavery as not that big a deal, would you accept Old Testament slavery in our own society? This reminds me of Abraham Lincoln’s comment, “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”

As for God having his own unfathomable reasons for immoral actions, this is the Hypothetical God Fallacy. No, we don’t start with God and then fit the facts to support that presupposition; we follow the facts where they lead—whether toward God or not.

Stupid Argument #4: I’ll believe the first-century eyewitnesses over modern historians.

The Christian gives more weight to writings closer to the events.

It’s fair to be concerned about the accretion of layers of dogma or tradition over time, but don’t think that you’ve solved that problem by reading the Bible and the writings of the early church fathers. We don’t have what the original authors wrote; we have copies of what they wrote (and it’s debatable how good those copies were). Perhaps the Christian actually wants license to dismiss unwanted ideas from modern sources.

As for the “eyewitness” claim, this is often slipped in without justification. None of the gospels claim to be eyewitness accounts. We don’t even know who wrote them. That Matthew and Luke borrow heavily from Mark—often copying passages word for word—make clear that they’re not eyewitness accounts. And those gospels that do make the claim (the Gospel of Peter, for example) are rejected by the church. Show compelling evidence for the remarkable eyewitness claim before confidently tossing it out.

Of course, getting closer to the events is a good policy. The problem is that this doesn’t work to Christianity’s favor. We’re separated from both Islam and Mormonism by less time than from Christianity. Mormonism in particular fares much better than Christianity in a historical analysis (more here). This is an argument the Christian wants to avoid.

What arguments should be in this list?

There will be some controversy about this list. Maybe some of these deserve more space. Maybe you’d combine or divide them differently. Maybe some are reasonable enough that they shouldn’t be on a “stupid” list. And I’m sure there are plenty that I’ve forgotten.

At the very least, referring back to the argument number might be a shorthand way for us to respond to bogus arguments by Christian commenters. But my hope is that thoughtful Christians will understand the problems behind these arguments and minimize them in their own discourse.

Continue with part 2.

DNA and [radioisotope] dating shows that
we evolved with all life over billions of years.
Bible says God created us from dust and ribs.
I’m torn.
— Ricky Gervais

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/29/14.)

 

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  • Doubting Thomas

    What arguments should be in this list?

    All of them. The god claims are so grandiose that we should see evidence all around us and arguments would be superfluous. What kind of arguments would you use to convince a miner that rocks exist?

  • Aloha

    How depressing to live your entire life and then just die, with no hope of Hell.

    • Riven
    • Joe

      Or without the anticipation of playing the “have I picked the right religion?” game of chance after you’re dead.

      • wtfwjtd

        Ah, Pascal’s Wager at its finest! (Pascal’s Wager is, of course, another classic example of a “stupid argument that Christians should avoid”).

        • Lurker111

          Yeah, the next time someone tries Pascal’s Wager on me, I’m going to say, “I hope you’ve done your research, then.”

          And they’ll say, “What research?”

          “To apply Pascal’s Wager, you’ll need to research all the existing religions to see which religion’s version of Hell is the worst. That’s the religion that you’d need to subscribe to.”

          (Probable stupid gape.)

          “… Or are you saying the Christian Hell is the worst of all?”

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Considering all the “hells” would be pretty terrible, I think a paraphrase of the Ron White ass kicked joke is applicable to “supernatural” believers:

          “You don’t know which hell is going to kick your ass, but you’ll know what the religions claim they’re gonna use!”

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Judge Dread (yeah, I misspelled it…it’s accurate here 😉 )

      • BigBob

        I wonder if a Christian and a Muslim look at each other and think to themselves “they are going to hell.” Funny thing is they follow the same Jewish deity.
        I’m glad I am not saddled with those convictions.

    • BigBob

      …or no hope of a forever burning hell.

    • BigBob

      …or a burning hell to make it interesting.

      • So one can ask- “Where the hell is all this oxygen coming from?

        CHEMISTRY: rapid chemical combination of a substance with oxygen, involving the production of heat and light.

  • Aloha

    I really loves Ricky G’s quote, “Bible says God created us from dust and ribs.”
    So often people just say “made from dust” and leave out women altogether.

  • eric

    Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.
    This is like saying that the consequences of earthquakes and hurricanes are sad or unfortunate

    I consider it more of a failure of imagination…or empathy. There’s pretty clearly happy atheists around. To assert that it’s discouraging in some objective sense is to admit you can’t put yourself in that other person’s shoes. It’s like saying ‘Country music is meaningless.’ Sure, it might be meaningless to you…but if you look at a happy country fan and think they’re lying about liking it because you can’t comprehend how someone can like something you dislike, then you’re lacking in a pretty basic understanding of human nature.

    • Yeah, but those fans shouldn’t like that kind of music! They’re doing it wrong if they like it!

      (Imagine me stamping my little feet at this point.)

    • Greg G.
    • Otto

      The unspoken assumption from this argument is that [insert favorite theistic religion] is not discouraging, that it actually offers hope and has meaning..

      • eric

        I fully accept that theists find hope and meaning in their theism. Its really not that hard to “put on someone else’s shoes” in this context. Makes you wonder why they have such a difficult psychological problem doing it themselves.

        • Otto

          I fully accept that they can find hope and meaning in their theism as well, but I do not accept that it is a foregone conclusion.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve certainly seen those driven to fear and anxiety.

        • Otto

          I was that person.

        • Pofarmer

          And the problem is, many think the answer is “More Cowbell” as they repeat the circle with their kids.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Funny thing is, I don’t like country music. But anybody who wants to listen to it on their own time, it’s a free country.

    • Happy ones are just in denial. You can’t win really.

  • Michael Neville

    #1: the consequences of atheism are depressing.

    Climate change makes me depressed. Conservatives fighting efforts to deal with climate change is really depressing. But my depression doesn’t make climate change or fanatics actively denying climate change go away.

    #2: I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.

    Subjective feelings and opinions aren’t evidence for anything other than a particular person has internal feelings and opinions. They are not evidence of anything external to that individual.

    #3: defending God’s immoral actions.

    The god described in the Bible is a sadistic, narcissistic bully who kills people because he can, orders genocide and rape, and condones slavery. No amount of hand waving, tap dancing or “looka that, SHINY!” will change the propaganda which describes the Christian god. That’s not a problem for atheists who believe the Christian god to be fictitious but it is a problem for Christians who claim their god is omnibenevolent and loving.

    #4: I’ll believe the first-century eyewitnesses over modern historians.

    But the Bible wasn’t written by eyewitnesses. The earliest Biblical scraps date from over a hundred years after the supposed death of Jesus. Iron Age Middle Easterners didn’t live that long.

    • But my depression doesn’t make climate change or fanatics actively denying climate change go away.

      Ask the climate change deniers. I think that they would tell you that there is no climate change; ergo, it did indeed go away.

      Checkmate, empiricists!

      • Unfortunately the accelerated melting rate of glaciers (including those in West Antarctica) will not go away.

        https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-B_MrDjngVDI/WateP6_cecI/AAAAAAAACBA/3Vd6jMwdo3oZUFo_6S-FqcwpTdj4ov6jQCLcBGAs/s1600/Global%2Bwarming%2Bdenial.jpg

        • Perhaps you’ve not noticed that my eyes are squeezed shut? Oh–and did I mention that my little feet are stamping?

        • Sorry, the avatar scale precludes noticing the mini emergency snorkel clipped to your collar.
          My own mean elevation (from Google Earth) is 120m.
          (Those folk who keep their heads buried in the sand, ostrich-like, are going to encounter great difficulty in deploying their emergency snorkel which they failed to pick-up from emergency supplies.)

        • My standards are so low now that I’d simply be satisfied if, once the science-deniers were finally confronted with enough evidence, they’d say, “OK, I gotta admit, I screwed up.”

          But that ain’t gonna happen. They’ll fuck up the planet and then blame it on anyone but themselves. That lowers my estimation of many of my fellow travelers on Planet Earth.

        • Yet, I can visualize that these sort of environmental vandalism supporters would end up being queue-jumpers in entryways if Alternative 3 or STARK(as depicted by Ben Elton) situations actually transpired.

        • Greg G.

          Those folk who keep their heads buried in the sand…

          The beach-goers first.

  • Darryl Smith

    My all time favorite: “You’d better start believing because it’s impossible to wake up in the morning if you’re not a Christian!”.

    • Grimlock

      Wait, what? How’s that even supposed to work?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      dafuq?

  • Joe

    The argument from objective morality should be on the list.

    If anything good can come from the Trump presidency, it’s that it’s been repeatedly demonstrated that Evangelicals use personal, subjective, situational ethics to make their moral choices. Not any “objective morality”.

    • epicurus

      When Trump is eventually gone there is going to be a large amount of evangelical wreakage for them to crawl out of. Or at least there should be. More likely evangelicals will just dust off and carry on as before, condemning democratic presidents for not being moral enough or constitutional enough, but then letting it slide when republicans are back in.

      • Joe

        Well yes, they are well practiced in self deception. I would bet it will be impossible to find an evangelical who would admit to voting for Trump. For those ones that are on record supporting him they can always blame the devil, I suppose?

      • But at least given the insane amounts of insanity that they put up with from Trump, they’ll surely stop nitpicking the next Democratic administration.

        (Wait, what? Sorry–I thought it was April 1. Carry on.)

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

        Pure tribalism

        • epicurus

          Can you imagine how much a Trumpite like Devin Nunes would stand on principle and integrity and the rule of law and constitution if Obama had done and said all the things Trump has.

    • Grimlock

      In all fairness to the moral argument, it’s not dependent upon whether people make subjective moral judgements. It’s about ontology – the alleged existence of a “real” existing moral foundation.

      That being said, it’s still a horrible and horribly unconvincing argument.

      • Joe

        I know, my point is that either those claiming to believe in objective morality, or their direct peers, use subjective moral decisions.

        Morality is ontollogicaly invisible, even to those with a “personal relationship with God”.

      • Halbe

        In all fairness to the moral argument, it’s not dependent upon whether people make subjective moral judgements.

        In a way it is, because this shows that people do not have access to this “objective morality”, which turns it into an untestable and unfalsifiable claim, which thus can be rejected without further ado.

        • Grimlock

          That’s true. It can serve, I suppose, as an undercutter for the claim that people “know” that morality is ontologically objective. (Which is a pretty far-fetched claim.)

  • Susan

    my hope is that thoughtful Christians will understand the problems behind these arguments and minimize them in their own discourse.

    Mine too. Or I wouldn’t keep showing up.

    It long ago became evident that it wasn’t going to happen, but I keep hoping it will and that I’ll be there when it does.

    Sometimes, I feel like a chrisitian waiting for the rapture.

    Any day now.

  • Grimlock

    Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.

    In addition to being a bad argument, as you point out, it’s also, uhm… How do I put it… utterly wrong.

    Atheism in and of itself doesn’t really say anything about meaning or such. It merely deals with the existence of gods. Transcendent meaning is a topic on which atheism is silent.

    • That’s the kind of argument that seems to resonate with our old buddy Dave Armstrong. Are you still commenting on his posts?

      • Grimlock

        Yup, though a bit more sporadically. I recently made a rather long (2700 words) comment ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/atheist-john-loftus-christians-r-idiots-buy-my-books.html#comment-3956319615 ) to which he posted a response (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/dialogue-w-atheist-origin-of-the-universe.html ). I haven’t had the time to make a proper response yet, so I haven’t read it yet. Though the fact that the post image is a quote from Vilenkin makes me suspect it’ll end up being a fairly standard argument about Kalam. I hope not.

        I also made a couple of comments to his (re)posts of posts on Plantinga’s modal ontological argument and free will defense. Alas, none of these comments generated an interesting discussion.

        • I just saw his latest email notification. Jeez–does this guy do anything besides the “Yet another atheist is mean to me” or “Another atheist that needs to be bitch-slapped” posts? Repurposing a bunch of comments makes for an easy post, but I’d prefer something more thoughtful.

        • Grimlock

          A bit late response from me here…

          There have been quite a lot of those posts from him recently. I’m not a fan of that approach myself. He’s also occasionally checked out previous posts by commenters, and used that in arguments. Which I find… a bit unusual?

          I just made another rather long response to the post he made from my previous comment. Wondering how it’ll come across.

        • As I see it, he’s within his legal rights to use others’ comments in his posts as long as he gives attribution. I just find it lazy writing. But I would’ve expected him to at least say, “Just so you know, I may take this conversation, editorialize to favor my position, give myself the last word, and feature it as a post.” Alternatively, ask permission at the end of the conversation.

        • Grimlock

          I agree. It’s mentioned in his comments policy, which is fair enough. But there’s a difference between legal and polite.

          The first time he quoted one of my exchanges with him I found the editing to be somewhat biased. I’m not too bothered by this – but it does make me less inclined to read other exchanges in the same format.

          On a totally unrelated note, I admit to some curiosity. What is your new book project about? You mentioned it when you brought out some of the older posts.

        • My last 2 books have been novels, with the apologetic argument as something of a character as well. This new one will be nonfiction and will repurpose some of my material from the blog. My target audience remains open-minded Christians. The layout is unusual, and I’m hoping it will make the content light and approachable, rather than being a dense mountain of words.

          The content is finished, as is the mockup. I’m using CreateSpace as a printer to get copies for my reviewers. While copies are out for critique, I’ll work on getting a list of agents and publishers and work on a pitch.

          If anyone has any connections with agents or publishers, please let me know!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Looking forward to it.

          While not really into reading fiction, I enjoyed both those other two books. They are an interesting method of getting folk to look at the apologetics and rebuttals. And not boringly overly long.

        • The new one should be 30,000 words total (just over 100 pages).

  • Halbe

    Christian: “We are all worthless sinners deserving of eternal torture when we die!”
    Atheist: “I don’t believe that.”
    Christian: “That is depressing, hopeless and sad!”
    Atheist: “…”

    • Halbe

      Which of course is part of a series:

      Christian: “Humans are the crown of God’s creation, the whole vast universe was created just for us!
      Atheist: “I don’t believe that.”
      Christian: “You atheists are so arrogant!”
      Atheist: “…”

      Christian: “I have a personal relationship with the almighty Creator of the universe!”
      Atheist: “I don’t believe that.”
      Christian: “Wow, you’re arrogant!”
      Atheist: “…”

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        Hmm…Frankly, I’m baffled as to the origin of the claim,…”the whole vast universe was created just for us!”…What, exactly, is the source of this odd claim, since I’ve never seen it made in the Bible…Anyone?

        • Otto

          Same source as the Bible…other believers. There are all kinds of things not specifically stated in the Bible that Christians none the less take as a given and then repeat.

        • BigBob

          I once asked a woman “are humans the only thing in the entire universe that have a “soul?” She replied “yes.” I then replied “that’s pretty arrogant. We have absolutely no idea what is beyond our limited knowledge of the universe.”
          Believers can be very arrogant. I’m glad I’m not with that crowd.

        • Jewish word: Chutzpah (pronounced Hootspa) meaning something like hubris or extreme arrogance.
          This word is used in Why Don’t Bees Go to Heaven? – Creationism explained – Save the Enlightenment

          https://youtu.be/e9bMi4s_yOE

        • Samwise

          Including “The bible is clearly in opposition to abortion” and “Jesus condemned homosexuality.”

        • BigBob

          What about rock music called “the devil’s music?”
          Did Jesus ever say “Gimme that old time religion?”

        • al kimeea

          Heresy. Jazz is the devil’s music.

        • Halbe

          The source is the creation “account” in Genesis of course.

        • Otto

          *puts on my apologist hat

          But the Biblical account of creation is just a rendition of events from man’s perspective as related to us from God, as such it only gives the perception of us being the center of the universe and the sole reason for creation; God never actually said that was the case though.

          …or something to that effect.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          per the ‘bible’:
          – ‘god’ made *everything* in 7 days
          – ‘god’ spent about 6 of those days working on Earth

          Hence, “the vast universe was created for us.”

          Of course, those who wrote the book didn’t realize what the Universe is or how big it is, so either
          – There’s no ‘god’, and they made it up
          – this ‘god’ is cretinously idiotic.

        • BigBob

          If the people who wrote the bible were armed with knowledge from a powerful deity, why weren’t the authors empowered with knowledge to advance humankind to a greater level? Why weren’t these people discovering solutions to benefit mankind…like science, technology, engineering, medicine, etc.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The recipe for ***soap*** would have made a big difference.

        • BigBob

          Animal fat was used for soap. I guess the ancient Hebrews were more interested in cooking animal intestines to appease their god instead of being practical with the death of their animals.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Apparently you aren’t aware that some of the world’s greatest scientists have been Christians, are you “BigBob”? Of course not; that information doesn’t fit your narrow atheistic narrative. Here’s a hint: GOOGLE IT!!

        • BigBob

          You name ONE scientist that abandoned their microscope, telescope, their science, or their knowledge and relied totally on their belief to discover anything.

        • Ignorant Amos

          All I hear is *crickets* from the soft boy.

        • BigBob

          Science explains the process of interpreting the cricket sounds. Religion offers no explanation.

        • Greg G.

          BB never said anything about Christians not being able to be great scientists. He is noting that the people supposedly inspired by God still could figure out where the sun went at night.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “some”?

          And many others are not Christian, soft boy. It’s almost as if what religion a scientist is, doesn’t matter a fuck.

          Here’s a hint: GOOGLE IT!!

        • Jim Jones

          Yes. They thought “the heavens” was a solid dome that the stars twinkled through(?) – something like The Truman Show.

        • BigBob

          And people believed the great flood originated with a hole that tore the dome, allowing the water to flood the earth. The Epic of Gilgamesh predates this biblical story by several centuries. The Old Testament is simply a collection of stories taken from other cultures that predate Judaism.

        • Jim Jones

          Yep. Ziusudra. Atra-Hasis. Gilgamesh. Noah.

        • BigBob

          Christians talk about “studying the bible.” Why don’t they dig for the facts like we do?

        • al kimeea

          Because the buybull is full of it. Facts, full of facts.

        • They do dig–until they find what they want, and then they stop.

        • BigBob

          The only defense the organized religion crowd uses is one simple word: faith. No evidence. No facts.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          The re-hashing of threadbare, tiresome mythicists’ opinions is not “digging for facts” ,Bob—are you a qualified archeological expert? I doubt it; if I’m wrong, enlighten me. Speaking only for myself, I find these half-baked attempts to undermine the established archeological facts concerning Biblical data a Sysiphean futility, and am baffled as to why atheists keep trying.The Holy Scriptures will NEVER be overthrown, believe that!!! (They certainly haven’t so far, have they? )—

        • BigBob

          Explain the exodus then…archeologists have traced the exact path covered in the OT in the course over several decades even using ground penetrating radar…and not one shred of evidence was recovered. How is it possible that over 500,000 (some estimated between 800,000 to one million) migrated along a route that was recorded and not a single piece of evidence was discovered?

          Scientist discover dinosaur bones but we can’t discover any evidence of a mass departure of an entire culture that was enslaved. The Egyptian ancient records are absent about the exodus…and they kept accurate records.

          Accuracy of the bible? I can send you dozens of contradictions beginning from the very first book…Genesis. Do you accept the challenge to discover the mistakes that corrupt the entire bible?

        • Ignorant Amos

          According to the book of Numbers (gafaw! gafaw!) there was 603,550 men over 20 years of age and of military ability. That would suggest a total of circa 2 million desert wanderers.

          But like all things biblical, that has to be silly pants nonsense for the reasons you suggest and a whole lot more.

          So then the apologists start to fudge and we have an exercise in how many angels can pogo on the point of a pin.

          https://www.godawa.com/chronicles_of_the_nephilim/Articles_By_Others/Humphreys%20-%20Number%20of%20People%20in%20the%20Exodus.pdf

          So, the numbers in Numbers are unreliable numbers…go figure. But if we cherry pick some of the numbers in Numbers, then a more reasonable number can be attained.

          Circa 20,000 is the figure. But that doesn’t help all that much, because even a number as low as that would still leave an archaeological footprint. And it raises other questions that demand the belief in the supernatural to maintain veracity…and that is untenable.

          The more pragmatic answer that ticks all the boxes is that it is a made up yarn that never actually happened…and scholars now agree that is the case…even esteemed scholarly Rabbi’s.

          http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/judaism/2004/12/did-the-exodus-really-happen.aspx

        • Ignorant Amos

          The re-hashing of threadbare, tiresome mythicists’ opinions is not “digging for facts”

          I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assert you haven’t even got a clue what a “mythicist’s opinion” even looks like.

          ,Bob—are you a qualified archeological expert?

          He doesn’t need to be. There is the work of qualified experts available to everyone that can get their knuckles from dragging the floor long enough to find. Hint: Google is your friend…if ya can use it properly of course…which apparently is something you toil in doing.

          I doubt it; if I’m wrong, enlighten me.

          You’ve not been right about anything so far, afaics.

          Speaking only for myself, I find these half-baked attempts to undermine the established archeological facts concerning Biblical data a Sysiphean futility, and am baffled as to why atheists keep trying.

          Because it is only the atheists that are engaged in refuting “established archaeological facts concerning Biblical data””, whatever they are? Riiiiggghhttt!!!

          The Holy Scriptures will NEVER be overthrown, believe that!!!

          Which Holy Scriptures…the Vedas?

          Why? The evidence is clear, Holy Scriptures get overthrown all the time…

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

          …even Christian Holy Scriptures have been overthrown…there are even books about it…

          https://global.oup.com/ushe/product/lost-scriptures-9780195182507?cc=us&lang=en&

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

          …your ignorance is flabbergasting…or is it your stupidity. Likely both.

          (They certainly haven’t so far, have they? )

          Yeah…they really have. The New Testament is a prime example.

          https://purechurchofgod.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/jesus-brought-the-new-testament-to-replace-the-old-law/

          You do know that there are New Testament only Christians,…right? They’ve overthrown the OT Holy Scriptures.

          It’s just a matter of time.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Sigh…do yourself a favor, “HairyEyedWordBombThroweer”, and try to resist reading concepts into the Scriptures that they themselves don’t CLEARLY affirm; it just makes you come off as ill-informed( as well as however you are supposedly quoting)–(The same goes for you,”Halbe.) If you can’t quote the verse that would undergird your claims, then don’t make the claims up; it points you out as dishonest(And I say that charitably.) As far as that goes, NO ONE knows the extent of the universe, so your point is what, exactly? I await your reply…

        • Greg G.

          and try to resist reading concepts into the Scriptures that they themselves don’t CLEARLY affirm

          Try telling that to the Trinitarians.

        • This universe was earth-centric to an extreme. Revelation talks about the stars falling to earth–not that big a deal when they’re just little penlights up in the sky.

        • Greg G.

          Genesis 1 is about the creation of the Earth which was thought to be the entire universe by people who didn’t know where the sun went at night. It was sky, land, and water to them.

          Genesis 1:28 (NRSV)28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

          That verse says God said: “fill the earth and subdue it.”

          That doesn’t make sense now because of science but that is what the religions who read Genesis bought into for two thousand years.

        • While the Lambda-CDM model, not to mention quantum physics, could be hard to swallow for Bronze Age era people I’m still waiting for someone to explain me why is not mentioned there the Milky Way is composed of countless stars or Saturn having a ring -the stuff that one can know with a rudimentary telescope-. This goes for certain preacher who finds far more believable that the Sun turned off during six seconds (the time is pure PIDOOMA) during the crucifixion than the Big Bang or Evolution.

      • Nice!

      • You forgot to mention the famous “What I’ve is a personal relation, not a religion”.

        • Greg G.

          Christian: “I have a personal relation, not a religion.”
          Atheist: “I don’t believe that.”
          Christian: “Your religion is atheism.”
          Atheist: “…”

    • Sometimes I dash off a comment and only later after I click post do I realize that it has a confusing typo. Dumb.

      But surely after an apologist realizes that his argument is ridiculous, he wouldn’t make that argument again, ever.

      Or perhaps I’m too optimistic.

      • Halbe

        This PRATT behaviour of apologists makes it 100% clear that their purpose is not to have an honest debate, but to provide believers with a comforting and fake notion that their silly beliefs are somehow reasonable and warranted.

  • Ctharrot

    For my part, I wouldn’t call Argument 1 (or variations thereon, such as “My belief makes me feel happy/comforted/loved/hopeful/etc..”) stupid, exactly, and I certainly understand where those folks are coming from, having been there myself. Theism seems to scratch a common human itch. Of course, that doesn’t make the claims of deities and miracles true.

    I’m less sympathetic to Argument 2’s appeal to intuition or heart (essentially disguised wishful thinking), which works just as well for claims about ghosts, other gods, astrology, you name it.

    Argument 3 is a real problem for the literal, biblical God (hence Jefferson’s surgical excision of most of the fire-and-brimstone stuff from his edition), and doubtless a reason many Christians evolve into heretics or apostates.

    As for Argument 4 . . . sigh. I have yet to encounter an apologist who offers a rigorous, consistent approach to the historiography and epistemology of ancient miracle claims.

    • Jim Jones

      > I wouldn’t call Argument 1 (or variations thereon, such as “My belief makes me feel happy/comforted/loved/hopeful/etc..”) stupid, exactly.

      It is perfectly absurd for religious moderates to suggest that a rational human being can believe in God simply because this belief makes him happy, relieves his fear of death or gives his life meaning. The absurdity becomes obvious the moment we swap the notion of God for some other consoling proposition: Imagine, for instance, that a man wants to believe that there is a diamond buried somewhere in his yard that is the size of a refrigerator. No doubt it would feel uncommonly good to believe this. Just imagine what would happen if he then followed the example of religious moderates and maintained this belief along pragmatic lines: When asked why he thinks that there is a diamond in his yard that is thousands of times larger than any yet discovered, he says things like, “This belief gives my life meaning,” or “My family and I enjoy digging for it on Sundays,” or “I wouldn’t want to live in a universe where there wasn’t a diamond buried in my backyard that is the size of a refrigerator.” Clearly these responses are inadequate. But they are worse than that. They are the responses of a madman or an idiot. — Sam Harris

      https://samharris.org/an-atheist-manifesto/

    • 1. If they say their supernatural beliefs make them feel happy, I’m sure they’re right. It’s the missing connection with “… and those beliefs are also true” that causes problems.

  • #1 seems like one of the main reasons that people cite in rejecting atheism. Of course believers will insist that simply not liking Hell doesn’t make it unreal. Yet by this logic it wouldn’t.

    • BigBob

      I’ve asked some Christians “do you believe in a burning hell for non-believers?” They reply “yes.” I then ask “what happens to the people who don’t believe in a burning hell?” Total silence.

      • I’m surprised they don’t say “Yes”. That is the response I’ve seen in written form. Perhaps they are reluctant to say it when you’re right with them.

        • BigBob

          I asked my BIL if he believed in a burning hell. He replied “yes.” I didn’t argue with him…especially in front of my sister and her sons.
          My chiropractor takes the entire bible literally as well. He is cool…we would go in his office (when it was slow) and argue the bible in a courteous and respectful manner. It was more entertaining on my behalf.

        • That’s probably why then. It would be awkward to say that you personally going there.

          Glad you can debate it civilly with someone. That is sadly hard.

  • BigBob

    #1. I have been a caregiver for both parents. I was a teacher. I can live a meaningful life without any belief in a deity.
    #2. I have asked many Christians this simple question: Why can’t your Jewish god simply introduce himself to me personally and say “Hi, I am Yahweh.”
    #3. I once had a pastor say to me “he can be your god too.” I replied “I cannot follow a god that intentionally killed people that disagreed with his agenda.” Yahweh was a monster in the O.T. but magically transformed into a nice Jewish deity in later writings.
    #4. The only known author of the N.T. was Saul of Tarsus. The earlier gospel writings failed to mention any miracles.

    • Jim Jones

      > Saul of Tarsus

      Paul, actually. The Saul (Rav Sha’ul) name was an invention of the author of Luke & Acts. I maintain that Paul was a Greek, not a Jew.

      • BigBob

        Interesting. From what I’ve read, he was chased from the church of Jerusalem and claimed Roman citizenship for protection of his life.
        Where is the accuracy of any of the writings if the authors cannot be correctly identified?

        • Jim Jones

          There are, IMO, 3 stages to the invention of this religion.

          1) Whatever came before Paul (possibly called “The Way”).

          2) What Paul invented and borrowed – which is only documented in a few letters: Corinthians 1 & 2, Romans and Philemon, and possibly a couple more. All the others are known forgeries which makes all these documents suspect. The gospels are fiction, created from the Torah by midrash (it seems).

          3) The reinvented religion which was voted on at meetings (the Council of Nicea etc.), very like a MLM system where the area reps changed the system to suit themselves. This became the core of Christianity as we know it.

          And the reinvention continued from the Trinity to the Pope’s infallibility.

          “Christianity: 2,000 years of everyone making it up as they go.”

        • BigBob

          From what I’ve learned, The Council of Nicea was responsible for the process of canonization of the bibles we have. I tell people “It was a bunch of old white European men that decided to compile the information for you.” How can people confess this as “the word of god” when the original writings cannot be located? Even the Koran was edited no less than seven times during the prophet’s lifetime.

        • Jim Jones

          I thought the Quran was recreated twice. Seven times? So much for divine inspiration.

    • al kimeea

      not sure being OK with owning people and eternal punishment qualifies as nice

  • anxionnat

    Just to quote Hitchens: “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” This is in regard to the claim that the New Testament was written by “first century witnesses.”

    • BigBob

      Why do modern people believe an ancient book written for ancient people? 1,000 years ago, people believed “the hand of Yahweh” pushed the clouds across the sky. I’m thankful science and reasoning has replaced fairytales.

  • Jim Jones

    > “I’ll believe the first-century eyewitnesses…”

    Good. Find me one. Because the gospels were written at least 100 years after the claimed events.

    • BigBob

      The gospels were also poorly written…full of contradictions. Truthfully, the entire book is littered with loopholes. My Jewish friend actually admitted the new testament is full of contradictions.

      • Jim Jones

        The whole book is.

        The Holy Bible – Contradictions

        See full list : http://bibviz.com/#contradictionList

        • EllyR

          The Bible was written by many scribes during a very long period. Of course there are contradictions. If there were none, it would not be mythology like many other religious books… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cc83532fdb64011a8f249abaf7f749ea6c71a025446efc7b602fde3a65eb8ce3.jpg

        • BigBob

          I find it humorous that modern day believers look at ancient beliefs (that shared the same time period) as “mythology.”
          The Romans and Greeks were just as sincere in their belief’s as the modern day Muslim, Jew, and Christian. Yahweh was simply another god…not “the only true living god.”

        • EllyR

          I find it sadly humorous. They just don’t get. If throughout history there would have been only one god and one religion, I would have looked at the one religion differently but with the existing history it is so obvious that they are all delusions…

        • Pofarmer

          And current believers take those delusions very seriously.

        • Illithid

          Sometimes I’ll refer to OT stories as “Hebrew mythology”. Usually I have to explain.

        • The Binding of Mike

          So do I, and I’m Jewish!

        • Greg G.

          I replied that the OT scripture were mythology from other cultures. The reply I got was “The old testament was mythology?? That tells me all I need to know about your state of mind.”

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/04/the-bibles-dark-ages-bible-error/#comment-3966529365

        • Illithid

          I read some of the exchange. Wow. Satan’s not a real being in the OT? We have read Job, right? What a very educated maroon.

        • Greg G.

          I think he had a spiel to sound educated but when asked some tough questions, he remembered his appointment in Croydon.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I installed that down-vote counter extension on Chrome and thought it wasn’t working cause I couldn’t see any down-votes…then I followed your link to the ancient Hebrew reader and wallop…the extension works fine.

    • Herald Newman

      Because the gospels were written at least 100 years after the claimed events.

      The consensus of New Testament scholars is that “Mark” was written about 35-40 years after the claimed events. Not sure where you’re getting this “100 years” from?

      • Jim Jones

        From the lack of evidence for such dating – the ‘evidence’ is just wishful thinking. I’m sticking to “after the Bar Kochba revolt” as the dating for the gospels.

        Remember, Paul never saw the gospels and didn’t know the stories in them.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m sticking to “after the Bar Kochba revolt” as the dating for the gospels.

          Why? Why are you more qualified to make this assessment that the thousands of scholars of the New Testament?

          Remember, Paul never saw the gospels and didn’t know the stories in them.

          And how, exactly, do you know this? Paul died in the early 60’s, so if it was written in the late 60’s he would never have read them, sure. But the idea that he didn’t know the stories in circulation is pure speculation.

        • Jim Jones

          I suggest you do some research. Ask yourself why Paul never refers to any of the stories of Jesus in the gospels. Ask why, when he was supposed to be the enemy of Christians … and then later their leader, he never tried to see the ‘real’ Jesus. In fact, he only ‘saw’ Jesus in a vision – like Joseph Smith.

          As for the “thousands of scholars of the New Testament” there are few who don’t make their living by pretending that Jesus once existed.

          There’s also a violent reaction to anyone who questions these claims and this makes it not worth proceeding with the study of this myth for historians.

          .The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence by John E. Remsburg, published 1920
          Free to read online.

          Chapter 2 alone is a good read.

          Also see The Bible: I. Authenticity II. Credibility III. Morality by John E. Remsburg published 1907

          This is free to read online.

        • Herald Newman

          Ask why, when he was supposed to be the enemy of Christians … and then later their leader, he never tried to see the ‘real’ Jesus. In fact, he only ‘saw’ Jesus in a vision

          How exactly does you expect Paul to have seen the “real” Jesus when Jesus was long dead by the time he came around?

          There’s also a violent reaction to anyone who questions these claims and this makes it not worth proceeding with the study of this myth for historians.

          Ah the conspiracy against Jesus mythicists. Please tell me more about this…

          As for the book you’ve provide the link to, I’ll read it when I get some time. I’m curious what he has to say, although 100 year old scholarship will have to be taken with a grain of salt.

        • Jim Jones

          > How exactly does you expect Paul to have seen the “real” Jesus when Jesus was long dead by the time he came around?

          Says who?

        • Herald Newman

          Says who?

          Fair enough. I’ve assumed Paul wasn’t anywhere around Jerusalem at the time. But Christianity didn’t exist until after Jesus’ death, and Paul doesn’t talk about persecuting Jesus, only Christians.

          “Along with Marcan priority, Q was hypothesized by 1900, and is one of the foundations of most modern gospel scholarship.”

          I double checked my dating of when the Q hypothesis was formulated. Seems my memory of 1880’s was off by about 50 years, so the statement I made about the turn of the last century is wrong.

        • Jim Jones

          > But Christianity didn’t exist until after Jesus’ death, and Paul doesn’t talk about persecuting Jesus, only Christians.

          Did Mormonism not exist until after Smith died?

          > I’ve assumed Paul wasn’t anywhere around Jerusalem at the time.

          Why? They were (alleged) contemporaries. More interestingly, Paul does claim to have met Simon and yet he quotes nothing he learned from Simon about Jesus. Surely Simon would have been a great source.

          As it happens, we have an excellent witness to events in Judaea and the Jewish diaspora in the first half of the first century AD: Philo of Alexandria (c25 BC-47 AD).

          Philo was an old man when he led an embassy from the Jews to the court of Emperor Gaius Caligula. The year was 39-40 AD. Philo clearly, then, lived at precisely the time that “Jesus of Nazareth” supposedly entered the world to a chorus of angels, enthralled the multitudes by performing miracles, and got himself crucified.

          Philo was also in the right place to give testimony of a messianic contender. A Jewish aristocrat and leader of the large Jewish community of Alexandria, we know that Philo spent time in Jerusalem (On Providence) where he had intimate connections with the royal house of Judaea. His brother, Alexander the “alabarch” (chief tax official), was one of the richest men in the east, in charge of collecting levies on imports into Roman Egypt. Alexander’s great wealth financed the silver and gold sheathing which adorned the doors of the Temple (Josephus, War 5.205). Alexander also loaned a fortune to Herod Agrippa I (Antiquities 18).

          One of Alexander’s sons, and Philo’s nephews, Marcus, was married to Berenice, daughter of Herod Agrippa, tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, 39-40. After the exile of Herod Antipas – villain of the Jesus saga – he ruled as King of the Jews, 41-44 AD. Another nephew was the “apostate” Julius Alexander Tiberius, Prefect of Egypt and also Procurator of Judaea itself (46-48 AD).

          Much as Josephus would, a half century later, Philo wrote extensive apologetics on the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. About thirty manuscripts and at least 850,000 words are extant. Philo offers commentary on all the major characters of the Pentateuch and, as we might expect, mentions Moses more than a thousand times.

          Yet Philo says not a word about Jesus, Christianity nor any of the events described in the New Testament. In all this work, Philo makes not a single reference to his alleged contemporary “Jesus Christ”, the godman who supposedly was perambulating up and down the Levant, exorcising demons, raising the dead and causing earthquake and darkness at his death.

          With Philo’s close connection to the house of Herod, one might reasonably expect that the miraculous escape from a royal prison of a gang of apostles (Acts 5.18,40), or the second, angel-assisted, flight of Peter, even though chained between soldiers and guarded by four squads of troops (Acts 12.2,7) might have occasioned the odd footnote. But not a murmur. Nothing of Agrippa “vexing certain of the church” or killing “James brother of John” with the sword (Acts 12.1,2).

          Strange, but only if we believe Jesus and his merry men existed and that they established the church. If we recognize that the Christian fable was still at an early stage of development when Philo was pondering the relationship of god and man, there is nothing strange here at all.

          What is very significant, however, is that Philo’s theological speculations helped the Christians fabricate their own notions of a godman.

          http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/philo.html

        • Greg G.

          More interestingly, Paul does claim to have met Simon and yet he quotes nothing he learned from Simon about Jesus.

          Paul actually says they added nothing to his knowledge. (Galatians 1:11-12, Galatians 2:6)

        • sandy

          “although 100 year old scholarship will have to be taken with a grain of salt.” Why would you say that? What difference does it make if a critical analysis of a 2000 year old book/story was made today, 20, 50 100 or 200 years ago. What is important is the analysis, facts and conclusions not when the analysis was performed. BTW, Einstein’s theories were developed 100 years ago do you take his scholarship with a grain of salt?

        • Herald Newman

          ? What difference does it make if a critical analysis of a 2000 year old book/story was made today, 20, 50 100 or 200 years ago.

          Well, prior to the turn of the last century, scholars didn’t have the Q hypothesis to explain the similarity between “Matthew” and “Luke”. Prior to about 10 years most people thought that “John” and “Mark” were independent, but some scholars are coming around to the idea that the author of John may have borrowed from Mark.

          New ideas come along all the time, and supersede old ideas that don’t work as well. If the ideas of these authors relies on outdated assumptions, then their conclusions are going to be flawed.

          BTW, Einstein’s theories were developed 100 years ago do you take his scholarship with a grain of salt?

          All theories are incomplete in some way because all abstractions are imperfect. That said, we have pretty strong evidence that both general relativity, and special relativity, are good models for gravity and the flow of time. They’re probably wrong in some way but it’s likely small.

          Research into the origins of a couple of ancient books, that nobody knows who authored, necessarily involves some guesswork. We’re trying to piece together a puzzle where many pieces are missing and can probably never be known. What those missing pieces are, and how they fit into the big picture, is something we’re continuously updating. 100 years can uncover a lot of things that weren’t previously understood.

        • sandy

          I suggest you read “The Christ” as noted it will offer lots to think about.

        • Greg G.

          Well, prior to the turn of the last century, scholars didn’t have the Q hypothesis to explain the similarity between “Matthew” and “Luke”.

          I think the Q Hypothesis was to explain the similarities without having to explain away the differences, like the different genealogies and nativity stories.

        • Pofarmer

          I think the Q Hypothesis just misses the obvious, that the different authors had different theologies and also had access to each others work. Hell, maybe it was a creative writing assignment gone wrong. It also seems like there is getting to be some push back on Q.

        • Jim Jones

          > … although 100 year old scholarship will have to be taken with a grain of salt.

          Recently, someone repeated the task of scanning every book of the time or 100 years after for evidence of Jesus.

          He found none, while doubling the number of books examined.

          I prefer to ask my question:

          Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him or heard him who wrote about the event, has a name, and is documented outside of the bible (or any other gospels).

          So far, no one has been able to answer this. All attempts have involved violating the stated conditions.

        • Herald Newman

          Recently, someone repeated the task of scanning every book of the time or 100 years after for evidence of Jesus.
          He found none, while doubling the number of books examined.

          Only for a very narrow definition of “evidence for Jesus.” The epistles of Paul are some of our best sources for Jesus’ existence.

          Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him or heard him who wrote about the event, has a name, and is documented outside of the bible (or any other gospels).

          The majority of scholarship accepts that everything we know about Jesus is (at least) second hand information, and that nobody who knew him actually wrote anything about him. Aside from the seven authentic letters of Paul, every other book of the New Testament is either a forgery or has misattributed authorship.

        • Pofarmer

          The epistles of Paul are some of our best sources for Jesus’ existence.

          And they suck, so you’re pretty much lost. If you use the Pauline epistles for evidence, they create more questions than answers.

        • Jim Jones

          > The epistles of Paul are some of our best sources for Jesus’ existence.

          They are. They describe a vision, not a man or godman. Paul’s Jesus is a ghost.

          Name one person who met Jesus, spoke to him, saw him or heard him who wrote about the event, has a name, and is documented outside of the bible (or any other gospels).

        • Otto

          Paul says Jesus was crucified died and was buried, and that he met the brother of the Lord. He doesn’t mention one miracle he performed or one sermon he gave. He doesn’t mention his birth or anything about his life that would make one think Paul had any actual knowledge of the history of Jesus’ life. Of course that is an argument from silence, I get that, but it is rather odd since Paul was by and far the earliest writer about Jesus and closest in time to his life. I don’t think this is an issue scholar’s deal with or ask questions about enough. I wouldn’t put myself down as a mythicist, but I am not convinced the mythicism explanation is bunk either.

          When I start looking around on the internet for arguments against mythicism, many sources are Christian, which is fine but they do have a dog in the fight. Many of those sources also cite writings that are attributed to Paul but that mainstream scholars do not think Paul wrote. The problem with all that is there is a huge amount of misinformation that is being disseminated by Christian sources that either know better, or should know better. When one side is fudging information heavily I start to wonder what else are they not coming clean on? I was a Christian for many years and one thing is certain, Christian leaders do not like to talk about the history of the religion in any scholarly sense. Some will do it, but they avoid it with the masses as much as possible.

        • Greg G.

          Only for a very narrow definition of “evidence for Jesus.” The epistles of Paul are some of our best sources for Jesus’ existence.

          Except for 1 Timothy forgery, which appears to rely on Luke, and 2 Peter forgery, which seems to rely on Matthew, none of the epistles give any information about Jesus that does not appear to be derived from the Old Testament.

          So, I think the epistles of Paul are good evidence that Jesus was invented.

        • Greg G.

          I think the Epistle of James was written by the James who Paul refers to in Galatians. eJames seems to be responding to Galatians 5:14 in James 2:8-11 where he says loving one another is a good start but if one doesn’t follow the law, one will be murdering and committing adultery. Romans 13:8-10 appears to be a response to James, saying that if one loves, then they won’t murder, commit adultery, steal or lie. All three passages quote Leviticus 19:18 LXX verbatim. James and Romans quote the same two of the Ten Commandments with Romans quoting two more.

          The Greek phrase for “the whole law” in James 2:10 is found in one other place in the New Testament: Galatians 5:3. The Greek word for “fulfill” in James 2:8 is found in one other place in the New Testament: Romans 3:6

          Galatians 3:6 quotes Genesis 15:6 in arguing that Abraham was justified by faith. James 2:17-26 argues against faith alone justifying someone and says that Abraham was justified by binding Isaac, and quotes Genesis 15:6. Romans 4:1-3 reiterates the claim for faith and also quotes Genesis 15:6, but instead of quoting it exactly as it is quoted in Galatians, Romans quotes it verbatim as it is in James 2:23.

          Paul won the argument in Romans 4:10-12 by pointing out that Abraham was blessed in Genesis before he was circumcised, which was before Isaac was born.

          Scholars assume the gospels are true and that James was an uneducated fisherman yet the Epistle of James is written in the best Greek in the New Testament, therefore it must have been forged. They refuse to consider that the gospels and Acts are fiction.

        • Herald Newman

          Interesting idea. I’ll look at this more.

        • MR

          Slightly off topic, but since you mention Abraham binding Isaac here:

          …this is likely to be a reference to an alternate version of the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Book of Genesis in which Abraham goes ahead with the sacrifice of his son rather than being stopped by God at the last minute.

          https://www.archaeology.org/issues/304-1807/from-the-trenches/6694-trenches-egypt-lisht-papyrus-prayer

        • Greg G.

          Yes, Abraham comes down from the mountain alone and rides off.

          In the Document Hypothesis, the name used for God changes where the ram comes in and Isaac is never mentioned again in conjunction with the other name of God. (That’s according to my memory of Friedman’s book Who Wrote the Bible.)

          The “Mountain of the Murderer” might refer to Moses on the mountain, too.

        • Ficino

          I’m interested in your phrase, “long dead.” How much time do you think elapsed between Jesus’ crucifixion and Paul’s vision/s of Jesus?

        • Herald Newman

          My best guess (as uneducated as it is) is that the his first “vision” (the Damascus road vision) was probably somewhere around 2-5 years after Jesus’ death.

        • Ficino

          Thanks. I’ve never thought of that particular question before.

          As for gLuke and Acts, do you have a view on their dates? to my unsystematic notions it seems as though there has been some movement toward putting them in the second century, partly because of what looks like use of the latter books of Josephus’ AJ.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m familiar with the claim that Acts has the appearance of using Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews as a source. I’ve never really read much on the topic, so I can’t really say much about it with any confidence. I know that scholars are familiar with these hypotheses, and have taken them into account.

          Given that Luke was the last of synoptic gospels written, it’s quite possible that it has an early second century dating, along with Acts.

          Conservative scholarship tends to place the dating very early (typically around 60CE), while more moderate and liberal scholarship tends to place these in the range of 80-100CE. Given that there’s such a broad range of scholars in the non-conservative camp, and they generally agree, I tend to accept the 80-100CE dating for both Luke and Acts.

        • Greg G.

          Luke also used Josephus’ Vita for Acts and the gospel. There are dozens of instances. For the first half dozen or so, you might say “coincidence” but after two dozen, there is a pattern that needs an explanation. There are fewer matches in the gospel but most of the gospel has the same material as Mark and Matthew but the Josephus matches are concentrated in the part that is not like Mark and Matthew. If it was coincidence, the coincidences should be spread throughout.

          In Acts 5:36-37, Gamaliel is defending the apostles in front of the council. He argues that if they are not of God, they would be overthrown and gives Judas the Galilean as an example. He would have been active decades before and not be such a good example. But the first one mentioned was Theudas, but he was about a decade in the future, so the story could not be true. However, Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.1 §97-99 explains the exploits and beheading of Theudas and Antiquities of the Jews 20.5.2 §100-104 describes the exploits of the sons of Judas the Galilean, with a digression into what happened to Judas himself.

          Paul is taken into custody in Acts 21. The commanding officer is surprised that Paul spoke Greek because he thought Paul was the Egyptian who stirred up sedition and led four thousand of the Sicarii into the wilderness. Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.6 §167-172 says imposters and deceivers led multitudes into the wilderness. Then Josephus gives the example of a man from Egypt who led a multitude to the Mount of Olives, not the wilderness. The Sicarii (often translated “assassins”) are described a little further down in Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.10 §185-188.

          Luke appears to use random factoids from one section of Josephus’ writings. But he also seems to have included names that play no role in his story but just happen to be mentioned together in Josephus with someone who does play a role in the Lucan text.

          There are 34 historically verified people in the gospels and Acts. Twenty of them appear in Luke-Acts. Seventeen of those are mentioned in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews and Vita.

          Pilate is mentioned in Mark and Jewish Wars but his first name is not used. Luke is the only gospel to mention Pilate’s first name and his full name appears in Antiquities of the Jews, but the first name is not used in text shared in the Synoptics.

        • Ficino

          Herald, do you know the evidence on which the scholars rely, who date gLuke betw 80 and 100? Is it that I Clement reproduces verses also found in Luke and attributes them to the Lord? I shouldn’t think that authorizes any more maximal conclusion than that the author of I Clem had a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. He speaks of the apostles as chosen by Jesus and as going around preaching, but I only see him refer to Paul as having written anything. When the author refers to scripture, he only quotes the OT and some apocryphal stuff.

          Is there other evidence for c. 100 as a terminus ante quem?

        • Herald Newman

          I would suggest consulting somebody who is actually an expert on the subject, rather than this schlub who defers to their expertise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah the conspiracy against Jesus mythicists. Please tell me more about this…

          Try explaining it is just a conspiracy against Jesus mythicists to father Thomas L Brodie.

          https://vridar.org/2013/01/23/the-inevitable-catches-up-with-thomas-l-brodie/

          Then there was what Ehrman said…

          “…there is not a single mythicist teaching New Testament or Early Christian or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”

          Of course there are scholars who are sympathetic to the mythicist argument teaching at university level, but the threat is apparent in Ehrmans Huffpo article all the same.

        • Tom Hanson

          Can you name some of them and their universities?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Larry Hurtado….Professor of Religious Studies, Iowa State University.

          Raphael Lataster…Doctoral student, teaching at the University of Sydney.

          Thomas Brodie was “retired” from his teaching position on account of his views.

          Thomas L. Thompson…is retired, was Professor of Theology at the University of Copenhagen until 2009…he was made a pyorrhea for his views on OT minimalism. Something that was poo-poo’d for decades, but has become the consensus and he has been vindicated.

          Professor of History, Donald Akenson, is a historical Jesus proponent, but he is highly critical of the methods used by NT scholars, claiming that the standards acceptable in that particular genre of academia would not pass muster anywhere else in historical research and investigation.

        • Tom Hanson

          Thanks

        • Tom Hanson

          I note that your books of criticism are both about 100 years old, and both will actually be AT LEAST 100 years old inside 2 years. There are now a lot of acknowledged atheists and agnostics among historians of the period. They have been there for well over a generation, not Biblical historians, but historians of the rise of early Christianity. I suggest that you read Robin Lane Fox’s The Unauthorized Version. See Amazon. He is one of them, best known for his modern classic Pagans and Christians.
          The problem I have with most of the skeptics I see right here today is that they somehow are confounding philosophical arguments as historical arguments. “Prove to me that there even was a Jesus at all” is a skeptical demand. Scientific historians cannot do that, because, like other sciences, both hard and soft, they have to deal with inductive reasoning and probabilities, not deductive reasoning. The historical fact is still by consensus that there was a Jewish man named Jesus (in Greek) who taught, roaming around Judea with a group of followers, was thought to do miracles, whatever they were, and was crucified.
          Note that in my lifetime Pontius Pilate was questioned as to ever having existed, and then archaeology found evidence that, after 25 years or so of hemming and hawing, became fact, not fraud and now his name IS a historical fact by consensus, always unless contrary evidence shows up. In my lifetime also the Big Bang theory was pooh poohed by most astronomists and physicists, and now has become a scientific fact, and the former scientific fact has been thrown away.

        • Jim Jones

          > The historical fact is still by consensus that there was a Jewish man
          named Jesus (in Greek) who taught, roaming around Judea with a group of
          followers, was thought to do miracles, whatever they were, and was
          crucified.

          So Robin Hood, King Arthur, William Tell, Ned Ludd and John Frum were all real too?

        • Tom Hanson

          Please see my long reply to IgnorantAmos above.

        • Jim Jones

          Where?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which has been taken down…why?

        • Greg G.

          One of his replies to me is also missing. Perhaps someone down arrowed him.

        • Pofarmer

          I didn’t think the down arrows did anything

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think there is something more going on than that…more than one comment is missing. I don’t think down arrowing has that sort of impact. Even reporting only draws the comment to the moderator for assessment as far as I know.

          Who would think Tom’s comments were of a need for censoring anyway?

        • I just approved a few that all-wise Disqus had put into the Spam bin.

        • Tom Hanson

          Nope. None of them started a religion that lasted over time.

        • Jim Jones

          So the only real people are those who start religions – even if they are myths?

        • Pofarmer

          Jesus didn’t either, Paul did. Unless you want to Argue that, say, the angel moroni was real.

        • Greg G.

          Egyptian religions lasted longer than Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and maybe Hinduism. I don’t think the reality is necessary for the basis of a religion.

        • Ignorant Amos

          In my lifetime some of the OT patriarchs and stories have gone from being historical to being fiction.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m sorry, but I can’t find a reference of any scholar anywhere thinking Pontius Pilate wasn’t historical, and no one has been able to provide one. Do you have one?

        • Tom Hanson

          Nope , see my reply to Ficino, just above.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no such thing as “just above” in a disqus thread. It’s pretty much unique foe each user. You have to link.

        • Greg G.

          What Pofarmer means it his reply is that Disqus allows the user to choose the order comments are displayed by Best, Newest, and Oldest, so above or below can vary. There are two ways to link to a post. You can click on Share below the comment, then click the URL that pops up to copy it to the Clipboard and paste it elsewhere. It will look something like http://disq.us/p/1tfw977 . (I added a space so that Disqus wouldn’t abbreviate the link.) It is important that I put a space after the URL. Disqus interprets a link from the beginning to the first space or line return, so putting a period or a close parenthesis at the end will be part of the link and will not be valid.

          The other way is to click the time/date stamp so that the URL in the address bar will change to that comment.
          and will look like http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/06/25-stupid-arguments-christians-should-avoid-part-1/#comment-3957000595 . If you link to a comment under a different article, there isn’t too much difference but if you link to a comment on the same page, the latter method is better as it might simply jump to the comment without having to reload the page.

          EDIT: I removed the spaces in the URLs because Disqus abbreviated it anyway. You should be able to see the whole URL by hovering the mouse cursor over it. On a phone, a press and hold might work.

        • Ficino

          Like Pofarmer, I do not know of a serious scholar who denied that Pontius Pilate existed. After all, Josephus devoted a lot of space to Pilate’s years in Palestine, and Tacitus mentions him (Annales XV.44.4). There was no hemming and hawing about this. Perhaps you are misremembering controversy over the administrative title that Pilate held.

        • Tom Hanson

          Nope, I was trying to be polite to mythicists.

        • Ficino

          Where is your long reply to IgnorantAmos?

          When you say you were trying to be polite to mythicists, you mean that you cannot cite professional, credentialed ancient historians or NT scholars who denied that Pontius Pilate EXISTED? If you cannot offer any citations, you should concede this. If you have citations to offer of professional scholars who denied the existence of Pontius Pilate, please offer them so we can check them.

          Someone might argue that the mention of Pilate in Tacitus’ Annales is interpolated. But that so far would be a gratuitous assumption. It has to be shown that the text that Tacitus presumably wrote would not have contained the reference. Anyone can say that some inconvenient detail was interpolated.

          As to Josephus, it taxes credibility to claim that all Josephus’ references to Pontius Pilate are later, Christian interpolations, viz. BJ 2.169-177, AJ 18.35, 55-64, 87-89, 177. It is on you to cite credentialed scholars who argued that all this was interpolated and/or that Josephus does not establish the EXISTENCE of Pilate. Otherwise, it is on you to withdraw your claim.

        • Tom Hanson

          Please see my long reply to IgnorantAmos above

        • Tom Hanson

          See my reply to Greg G above.

        • Ficino

          You present no citations in that reply to Greg G. It is on you to demonstrate the truth of your claim that the existence of Pontius Pilate “was questioned”, and your insinuation that the NT’s references to his existence were considered “fraud.” I cited passages in which Josephus refers to Pilate and his actions. It is on you to produce citations of historians or other credentialed scholars who held that all those passages, and the two references in Philo, are interpolations.

          So far all you have done is to make unfounded assertions lacking credibility.

        • Greg G.

          Note that in my lifetime Pontius Pilate was questioned as to ever having existed, and then archaeology found evidence that, after 25 years or so of hemming and hawing, became fact, not fraud and now his name IS a historical fact by consensus, always unless contrary evidence shows up. Thus real historians have added a fifth historical fact to the four I mentioned: under Pontius Pilatus.

          This is false. It has been repeated ad nauseum in Christian literature and I have never seen the claim outside of Christian sources. Pilate was mentioned by Josephus, Tacitus, and Philo of Alexandria, and the latter was a contemporary.

          There once was a question whether Pilate was a prefect or a procurator because the Greek sources called him a governor without distinguishing what kind of governor while the Tacitus source called him a procurator and Josephus (I think) noted that the position was changed from prefect to procurator by Claudius, about a decade after Pilate was there.

          The Pilate stone was likely commissioned by Pilate himself and it says he was a prefect, which settles the question.

          Christians seem to be confused about the confusion.

        • Tom Hanson

          What I have said is not false at all. There are good reasons to think that Christians interpolated some things in the manuscripts of Josephus, Tacitus, and Philo. There are valid but not universally cogent arguments to the contrary. It was a big issue then. But the Pilate stone sealed big time, NOT the issues about interpolation, but only the issue about whether Pilate had ever existed at all in Judea.
          Thanks much for bringing that up.

        • Greg G.

          There are good reasons to think that Christians interpolated some things in the manuscripts of Josephus, Tacitus, and Philo.

          Sure, but who argued that Pilate never existed and/or was interpolated into the writings of those authors within your lifetime?

          Many, if not most, scholars argue that the Testimonium Flavianum has been embellished by Christians but there is an underlying bit that is authentic to Josephus’ hand. For about a thousand years, those who argued that it was interpolated blamed Eusebius for it. I think Eusebius did it in two stages. The first stage was a rewrite of the Emmaus Road conversation in Luke 24, then added over-the-top Christianese to it.

        • Tom Hanson

          You are absolutely right and I know of no reputable scholar who ever didn’t simply assume Pilates existence as a historical fact. But I will be 70 years old this August, and open atheism and open agnosticism flourished, not as largely as they do today after Dawkins, but ranging from Bradlaugh in philosophy, Bob Ingersoll as an eloquent writer and speaker when speakers were paid entertainment, and Bran the Iconoclast who was a newspaper editor and publisher in, by god! TEXAS of all places where it was really dangerous. Sorry if you know all this, it’s the teacher in me and there are a lot of youngsters around in this blog.
          But there are now and have been nuts among the berries always in our lives. Today’s moniker along this particular group would be mythicists who react to me as part of the great anti-mythicist conspiracy, for which I am proud. If Ehrman is not unduly overexaggerating in his stats about (97%plus, 99% plus? whatever) consensus among PhD historians that THE Jesus actually existed as a human being, including atheistic and agnostic PhDs like the firebrand Robert Eisenman, and Robin Lane Fox and Peter Brown believe that as a man, Jesus “certainly” ( meaning certainly “assumable”) existed. To believe anything else is at least childishly silly, if not insanity.
          At a guess the objections to Pilate’s existence would have come from the time in the 19th century when interpolation of manuscripts was first really noticed, and became “lies” which largely weren’t intentional. It would have come sort of annexed, first as an oddity (no mention of any Pilatus being in Judea as an official) then through careless free-thinkers combining the issue with Josephus interpolations on through to no Pilate at all:rumor? I do know that freethinkers in a not-so-small town in Minnesota where I grew up thought that Christians had made him up.

        • Pofarmer

          Look dude, you’re being a disengenuous ass. There is virtually no one who is not an apologist who doesn’t think that Josephus has been interpolated. The only question is the degree. There was no “issue” before the Pilate Stone. I can find no one on record, period, who ever questioned the historicity of Pontius Pilate. Zip, nada. And you admit as much. You’ve got your God Goggles on so tight it’s cut off the blood flow to your brain.

        • Greg G.

          Tom, your reply to http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/06/25-stupid-arguments-christians-should-avoid-part-1/#comment-3957569379 is not showing up so I am responding here. I will include each paragraph I received in my email notification but, or course, it will not have any subsequent edits you may have made.
          _____________________________________

          You are absolutely right and I know of no reputable scholar who ever didn’t simply assume Pilates existence as a historical fact. But I will be 70 years old this August, and open atheism and open agnosticism flourished, not as largely as they do today after Dawkins, but ranging from Bradlaugh in philosophy, Bob Ingersoll as an eloquent writer and speaker when speakers were paid entertainment, and Bran the Iconoclast who was a newspaper editor and publisher in, by god! TEXAS of all places where it was really dangerous. Sorry if you know all this, it’s the teacher in me and there are a lot of youngsters around in this blog.

          The name Bradlaugh rang a bell but I must have been thinking of somebody else. I had not heard of Brann. I looked at their bios on Wikipedia. It is interesting that both published under “Iconoclast”. Bradlaugh used it as a pseudonym for pamphlets and Brann used it as the name of his newspaper. Do you know if Brann was influenced by Bradlaugh? Brann was shot in the back by an angry father for calling the coeds at Baylor University “magdalenes”.

          But there are now and have been nuts among the berries always in our lives. Today’s moniker along this particular group would be mythicists who react to me as part of the great anti-mythicist conspiracy, for which I am proud. If Ehrman is not unduly overexaggerating in his stats about (97%plus, 99% plus? whatever) consensus among PhD historians that THE Jesus actually existed as a human being, including atheistic and agnostic PhDs like the firebrand Robert Eisenman, and Robin Lane Fox and Peter Brown believe that as a man, Jesus “certainly” ( meaning certainly “assumable”) existed. To believe anything else is at least childishly silly, if not insanity.

          We see that Thomas Brodie got retired when he wrote that he thought Jesus didn’t exist. Back in the 70s, Tommy Thompson’s thesis compared the OT with other literature of the day and concluded that Abraham and other Bible fathers didn’t exist. His thesis was rejected by future pope and future ex-pope Ratzinger so Thompson had to finish his doctorate in the US but he couldn’t get hired, so he went to Copenhagen. Now his findings have been confirmed by archaeology and are accepted. So if universities fear their donors may withhold money if they have a Jesus Mythicist on their staff, they might be reluctant to hire one. If a scholar is defined by his academic employment credentials, the scholarly consensus that Jesus existed is circular and meaningless.

          At a guess the objections to Pilate’s existence would have come from the time in the 19th century when interpolation of manuscripts was first really noticed, and became “lies” which largely weren’t intentional. It would have come sort of annexed, first as an oddity (no mention of any Pilatus being in Judea as an official) then through careless free-thinkers combining the issue with Josephus interpolations on through to no Pilate at all:rumor? I do know that freethinkers in a not-so-small town in Minnesota where I grew up thought that Christians had made him up.

          Isaac Newton showed that much of 1 John 5:7-8 was interpolated. [The NIV footnote says: a.1 John 5:8 Late manuscripts of the Vulgate testify in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. 8 And there are three that testify on earth: the (not found in any Greek manuscript before the fourteenth century)]

          Revelation shows that it was known that people added their own two cents to writings and dropped what they didn’t like:

          Revelation 22:18-19 (NRSV)18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; 19 if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

          For the Testimonium Flavianum, The Coincidences of the Emmaus Narrative of Luke and the Testimonium of Josephus [LINK] by Gary J. Goldberg, Ph.D. considers three conclusions from the evidence presented that there is a kernel of authentic Josephus:
          1. The similarities are coincidental. (Goldberg rejects that because of the density and specificity of the coincidences. I agree.)
          2. The text was interpolated. (Goldberg rejects this because he doubts anyone back then could imitate Josephus’ style back then. I disagree.)
          3. Josephus and Luke used a common source. (Goldberg accepts this old gambit. I disagree on the grounds that the Emmaus Road monologue is a summary of the story of Luke which is derived from Mark.)

          The Testimonium Flavianum, Eusebius, and Consensus [LINK] by Ken Olson shows that Eusebius used phrases in his own writings that Josephus, including some from the parts Goldberg takes as authentic and from parts that is considered gloss.

          Origen mentioned Josephus many times, referring to the part about James and the part about John the Baptist multiple times, even together as if he is giving everything Josephus had to say that supported the New Testament. But he never mentioned the TF. He even stated that Josephus didn’t believe Jesus was the Christ. The TF is now very near the John the Baptist passage so it would be highly unlikely that Origen would have missed it.

          Origen of Caesarea bequeathed his library to the city of Caesarea and it was curated by Pamphilus of Caesarea who mentored Eusebius of Caesarea, so Eusebius’ copy of Jewish Antiquities may have been Origen’s copy. Eusebius may have learned to write by making copies of it.

          Nobody ever mentioned the TF before Eusebius did in the 4th century.

        • Otto

          My limited understanding of the argument that Paul didn’t know the teachings of Jesus as reported in the Gospels is that he could have referred to them to clear up many of the disagreements he was addressing in his letters. It certainly makes sense that he could have easily just referred to those teachings in the stories if he had known about them.

        • Herald Newman

          Which is little more than an argument from silence. It still doesn’t justify the claim that the gospels were written well into the second century.

        • Otto

          And what evidence is there to show that Paul did have any knowledge of the stories? The idea that he did know the stories in circulation is pure speculation as well, or that the stories were even in circulation.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m not a New Testament scholar. Ask one of them.

        • Otto

          I’m not either but from what I have seen they just assume the stories were in circulation because ‘they must have come from somewhere’. I still haven’t figured out why oral tradition should be considered the best explanation.

        • Jim Jones

          Then I began to see that not just the scribal text but the original text itself was a very human book. This stood very much at odds with how I had regarded the text in my late teens as a newly minted “born-again” Christian, convinced that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and that the biblical words themselves had come to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As I realized already in graduate school, even if God had inspired the original words, we don’t have the original words. So the doctrine of inspiration was in a sense irrelevant to the Bible as we have it, since the words God reputedly inspired had been changed and, in some cases, lost.

          Moreover, I came to think that my earlier views of inspiration were not only irrelevant, they were probably wrong. For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place. Given the circumstance that he didn’t preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn’t gone to the trouble of inspiring them.

          Misquoting Jesus — Bart Ehrman

        • Herald Newman

          And what exactly is your point? I’m not a Christian, so all of what you’ve quoted to me is largely irrelevant to the topic at hand. Even Ehrman accepts what scholars say about the dating of the books of the New Testament.

        • Jim Jones

          Says who?

        • Otto

          Also I am not arguing that the gospels were written in the 2nd century, only that I don’t believe Paul knew about the teachings of Jesus.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          I agree that it doesn’t support second century authorship, but it does suggest that Paul was unaware of the gospels and the accounts contained within. This is particularly true when you consider that Paul himself claims his insight is rooted in divine relevation rather than current tradition.

        • Andrea Fitzgerald

          “And how, exactly, do you know this?” Read a book. A REAL book. Seriously, why would you consult a 2,000 year old “book?” Would you use a biology book that was written in 1938? EVOLVE!

        • Otto

          Harold is not a Christian, he is arguing Jesus was an actual historical figure, some on here don’t believe that, and some like me are agnostic on the question.

        • Herald Newman

          I’ve read real books on the subject. I accept the scholarly consensus that the gospels were most probably written in the last half of the first century. If scholarly consensus changes, my position will change with it.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Seriously, Andrea, that’s a weak anaolgy.How much change in human anatomy do you think has taken place between 1938 and now? Get a grip.Whatever the book from the earlier era may have missed that recent discoveries now illustrate, I doubt that a human skeleton from 1938 wouldn’t be recognized as such in 2018!! Seriously??

        • Greg G.

          There has been a lot of biology done in the last 80 years.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          And?

        • Greg G.

          Biology is more than human skeletons.

      • Joe

        That’s an estimate. There is a lot of room for error, and we don’t have a scrap of writing from the first century.

        • Herald Newman

          Sure, but how does that justify belief that the Gospels were written well into the second century? It’s certainly not a common position among NT scholars.

        • Joe

          How many NT scholars have a vested interest in them being written as early as possible?

          It justifies the belief because it keeps the belief plausible.

        • Herald Newman

          Again, how does this justify belief that the gospels were written in the well into the second century? You haven’t advocated for the truth of your position, you’re just trying to discredit the scholars who have worked to make the most informed statements about the gospels.

          I get it, you don’t trust NT scholars, and this seems to be a very common position among non-believers.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          OK so 35 years then, still not great, i can’t remember the events of 35 years ago to the level of clarity the gospel writers claim, and i have the advantage of photos.

        • Herald Newman

          Okay, but so what? I’m not arguing that the stories are prefect (or even good) representations of what happened, or that the supernatural is real. The only thing I’m arguing is that the majority of scholarship accepts that they were written in the last half of the first century. I’m not a Christian, but I accept the scholarly position on when they were probably written.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Sorry, by the tenor of your responses you seemed to be defending them rather than just the scholarship, as long as we all agree that they are just myths, then everything else can be left to academic argument

        • Herald Newman

          I wouldn’t call them myths. I would say that legends are a more appropriate category.

        • Pofarmer

          I accept the scholarly position on when they were probably written.

          I don’t, because the “scholarship” is so obviously tainted.

          Here is a brief outline arguing for second century dating.

          http://www.thenazareneway.com/gospels_second_century_writings.htm

        • Joe

          I trust NT scholars much less than secular historians, because they (secualr historians) would be honest about margins of error.

        • Greg G.

          NT scholars fancy themselves as historians. But if they don’t accept that some part of the gospels have a kernel of truth, they are just ancient literature scholars or mythologists.

        • Joe

          It’s amazing how cultural assumptions about Christianity still impact atheists. Herald here feels compelled to defend a hill none of us should be dying on. It’s much like arguing with atheists about Jesus mythicism.

          My argument isn’t that they couldn’t have been first century, just that they can’t be assigned a date with any real certainty. The only thing we do know is they weren’t a live blog by Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Christian historian James Tabor at least tries.

          https://jamestabor.com/do-historians-exclude-the-supernatural/

      • Pofarmer

        The “consensus” has been pushed earlier over time by apologists masquerading as scholars. Not that long ago the “consensus” for Mark was around 125 A.D. Why? Because that’s what the External attestation tells us. IE, that’s when others noticed the writings and it was started to be used in apologetics. There is absolutely nothing to push it earlier than wishful thinking. If you dated “Gone with the Wind” the same way these “scholars” are trying to date mark, then it was written in the 1860’s.

    • Paul

      The first documents of Alexander the Great are from almost 300 years after his death. How reliable do you think those documents are? How come we never hear historians questioning whether or not Alexander the Great existed?

      • Ignorant Amos

        That’s another dopey apologetic argument that Christians erroneously pull out of their dumb arses too.

        Google is your friend.

      • Jim Jones

        Do you worship Alexander the Great? Pass laws in his name? Prosecute those who insult him? Put his motto on the money? Use his words to justify government actions?

        If it was proven that he never existed, how would your life change?

      • Greg G.

        How come we never hear historians questioning whether or not Alexander the Great existed?

        Because there is lots of other evidence that Alexander the Great existed besides writings.

        Why don’t you simply answer the challenges put to you? Do you not have an answers?

      • Joe

        Not all that reliable. Next question….

      • Damien Priestly

        Alexander the Great had coins minted with his image on them. They still exist today. Alexander had cities named after himself that still have that name…the records, writing and archives of the rulers Alexander installed in Asia and around the Mediterranean are available. The armies Alexander defeated such as the Persians kept written records of the dates when Alexander won his battles, which match Macedonian archives and writings and plenty more…

        If only this Jesus character had the same level of corroboration.

        • If only this Jesus character had the same level of corroboration.

          And if only this Jesus character’s story was as impressive as Alexander’s in its naturalistic claims alone. Drop the supernatural elements of the Jesus story, and you have a very pedestrian story of a Jewish teacher. Ho hum. But drop the supernatural elements of the Alexander story, and you have precisely the story we have in history, one of the greatest generals and conquerers in world history.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The earliest histories of AtG tell us who their sources were, and those sources are primary witnesses to the things AtG did. So while next to nothing exists of the earliest biographers of AtG, their work is cited. Jesus scholars can only dream of such a thing.

      • Ficino

        Christians keep saying this, and it is false. Your phrase, “documents of”, is ambiguous. I take it you mean documents that corroborate Alexander’s existence.

        Isocrates’ Epistle 5 was written to the young Alexander in 342. Isocrates (not Socrates) was trying to become Alexander’s tutor.

        In addition to coins, as Damien Priestly mentioned, there are inscriptions from Alexander’s lifetime that mention him.

        Priene inscription: dedicatory inscription of the temple of Athena Polias, presented to the city by Alexander, who stayed in Priene during siege of Miletus in 334 B.C. The inscription is now in the British Museum. Probably the earliest in which Alexander is called basileus. It was found in 1868-69 by architect Richard Pullan. Wikipedia identifies the inscription as 1870.3-20.88.
        A photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priene_Inscription#/media/File:Priene_inscription_-_Alexander_the_Great_(British_Museum).jpg

        Hector Avalos says:
        “reliefs at the Shrine of the Bark at Luxor in Egypt mention Alexander by name, and depict him artistically during his lifetime (ca. 330-325 BCE). That would confirm his presence in Egypt mentioned by all major ancient sources. … We also have a Mesopotamian tablet, now at the British Museum and designated as BM 36761, which mentions Alexander by name, and refers to his entry into Babylon. Akkadian (BM 36761, Reverse, line 11): A-lek-sa-an-dar-ri-is LUGAL ŠÚ ana E.KI K[U4
        -English: “Alexander, the king of the world, entered Babylon”
        some info on this Mesopotamian tablet here:
        http://www.livius.org/cg-cm/chronicles/bchp-alexander/astronomical_diary-330_01.html

    • Good. Find me one.

      Stop right there–that’s the key point. Apologists talk about how the characters in this story saw some evidence and were amazed and blah blah blah. OK–show me this evidence, and maybe I’ll be amazed.

      What’s that? You say that all you have is a story about this amazing evidence, you can’t show it to me yourself? Well then why should a first-century person’s impressions mean anything to me?

      And, of course, I’m letting slide the whole problem that it’s just a frikkin’ story. It needs to be actual history to be interesting.

  • Paul

    “Stupid Argument #3: defending God’s immoral actions.”

    But Bob sees morality as relative/subjective. So it makes to sense for Bob to even say this. If Bob were the ultimate moral authority, then he would have the right to judge God. But Bob is not the moral authority so he has no right to claim that God’s actions are immoral.

    • Ignorant Amos

      By your own moral standard, what do you think of YahwehJesus actions in the OT?

      While the moral standards are indeed subjective, the point is that the majority would agree that the stuff apologists try to defend, they wouldn’t entertain coming from any other belief system.

      Most decent folk see things like mass murder and slavery as bad, even if not everyone does. What is your view? Is it only good when YahwehJesus is involved?

      • Paul

        “By your own moral standard…”

        My moral standard? I’m not the ultimate moral authority.

        “While the moral standards are indeed subjective…”

        What evidence do you have that they are subjective?

        “…the point is that the majority would agree…”

        Is something right or wrong because the majority says it is?

        • Herald Newman

          I’m not the ultimate moral authority.

          And neither is anyone else.

          What evidence do you have that they are subjective?

          Bob has dealt with this before: Explanation for Objective Morality? Another Fail.

        • Paul

          “And neither is anyone else.”

          God is the ultimate moral authority.

          “Bob has dealt with this before:”

          Yes, Bob has dealt with that before. He said he saw no evidence that they were objective. But he provided no evidence that they were subjective. But I thought I’d ask if “Ignorant Amos” has any evidence. If you have any evidence, you can provide it as well.

        • Herald Newman

          God is the ultimate moral authority.

          That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence!

        • Paul

          “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence!”

          Which is why I reject the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and universal common descent.

        • Herald Newman

          Two out of those three are well accepted positions of the scientific community. That you don’t bother to look at the evidence, or even consider the consensus of the experts of the scientific community, isn’t really my problem. Enjoy your ignorance.

        • Michael Neville

          Too bad for you that there’s literally tons of evidence supporting each of those theories. Your ignorance and incredulity aren’t arguments against the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and universal common descent, they’re just evidence that you’re ignorant and incredulous.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          I reject Spherical Earth Theory and Heliocentrism for pretty much exactly the same reason.

        • Greg G.

          Which is why I reject the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and universal common descent.

          No, it isn’t. You reject them because your creationist sources do not provide you with the evidence for all of them. You have been given so much mind-numbing religion that you cannot process what is true and what isn’t. You have been gaslighted.

        • Paul

          Here is what the secularists say:

          “Don’t let the cosmologists try to kid you on this one. They have not got a clue either….’In the
          beginning,’ they will say, there was nothing — no time, space, matter, or energy. Then there was a quantum fluctuation from which — whoa! Stop right there. You see what I mean? First there is nothing and then there is something – and before you know it, they have pulled a hundred billion galaxies out of their quantum hats.” David Darling, “On Creating Something from Nothing”, New Scientist, Vol. 151 (14 Sept. 1996), p. 46

          “Big bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities – things that we have never observed. Inflation, dark matter, and dark energy are the most prominent. Without them, there would be fatal contradictions between the observations made by astronomers and the
          predictions of the big bang theory. An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences. Whereas Richard Feynman could say that ‘science is the culture of doubt,’ in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.” Eric Lerner, “Bucking the Big Bang,” New Scientist, 182:2448
          (22 May 2004), p. 20 – Signed by over 400 scientists in 50 countries.

        • Herald Newman

          Signed by over 400 scientists in 50 countries.

          400 scientists you say? 50 countries you say. Wow. I’m really impressed. /s

          Are you familiar with Project Steve? When the IDiots got their signed letter against evolution with about the same number of signatures Project Steve got signatures from scientists who support evolution, and were named some variation of Steve. They got over 220 signatures, mostly from biologists! When they let the project continue they got over 1400. (Edited to correct the numbers)

          The fact that there are 400 scientists, the majority of whom probably aren’t even cosmologists, is a tiny drop in the bucket. There will always be dissenters to almost every scientific theory. The fact is that we have a general consensus among cosmologists for the cosmological models that you seem to have a problem with. The majority of the experts aren’t concerned with your ignorance of the evidence, and frankly I’m not either. If the consensus of cosmologists changes about Big Bang, my position will change with them.

        • BlackMamba44

          All I could find searching Eric Lerner and his book is “33 scientists in 10 countries”…

        • Herald Newman

          Well then, perhaps if Paul ever comes back we should ask him to directly support his claim.

        • ildi

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

          Eric J. Lerner (born May 31, 1947) is an American popular science writer, and independent plasma researcher.[2] He wrote the 1991 book The Big Bang Never Happened, which advocates Hannes Alfvén’s plasma cosmology instead of the Big Bang theory. He is founder, president, and chief scientist of Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc.

          Lerner received a BA in physics from Columbia University[5] and started as a graduate student in physics at the University of Maryland, but left after a year due to his dissatisfaction with the mathematical rather than experimental approach there.[6][7] He then pursued a career in popular science writing.

        • BlackMamba44

          Thanks. 🙂 I saw this part. I probably should have given more detail in my comment. What I couldn’t find was the “400 scientists in 50 countries”. All I could find was “33 scientists in 10 countries”.

          ETA: The guy thinks magazines are peer reviewed journals.

        • Greg G.

          “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence!”

          Which is why I reject the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and universal common descent.

          Your original claim was “Which is why I reject the Big Bang, abiogenesis, and universal common descent” in repsonse to “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence!” But you have failed to show those theories have been asserted without evidence.

          I tracked down your first quotemine. It doesn’t say what you are trying to make it say. It is from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-nothing/ . In the very next sentence after the quote, the author says, “I don’t have a problem with this scenario from the quantum fluctuation
          onward” which is the entirety of the Big Bang theory.

          The second quotemine was knocked down fourteen years ago by cosmologist Sean Carroll at his blog at http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2004/05/29/doubt-and-dissent-are-not-tolerated/ .

          How can you reject abiogenesis? It means that life came from no life. Even the Genesis account is a theory of abiogenesis but it is offered with no evidence. There was no life on the planet and now there is. Either life arose or it came from somewhere in space where there was once no life but now there is.

          Common descent has literally tons of fossil evidence in support of it. Then there’s the twin nested hierarchies where biologists put animals and plants into groups by analyzing their structures. Then DNA evidence came along and created a nest hierarchy of lifeforms. The two hierarchies match. There is no reason it would have to match unless they really evolved from common ancestry or God just played tricks on humans.

          Instead of supporting your claim that those sciences were asserted without evidence, you provided evidence that you have been gaslighted by creationists. When are you going to realize that creationists cannot be trusted about science?

        • BlackMamba44

          Looks like you picked a couple of wackos:

          Some other books written by David Darling

          We Are Not Alone: Why We Have Already Found Extraterrestrial Life (2010). ISBN 978-1-85168-719-0 (paperback)

          Gravity’s Arc: The Story of Gravity from Aristotle to Einstein and Beyond (2006). ISBN 978-0-471-71989-2 (hardcover)

          Teleportation: The Impossible Leap (2005). ISBN 978-0-471-47095-3 (hardcover)

          The Universal Book of Mathematics: From Abracadabra to Zeno’s Paradoxes (2004). ISBN 978-0-471-27047-8 (hardcover)

          The Universal Book of Astronomy: From the Andromeda Galaxy to the Zone of Avoidance (2003). ISBN 978-0-471-26569-6 (hardcover)

          The Complete Book of Spaceflight: From Apollo 1 to Zero Gravity (2002). ISBN 978-0-471-05649-2 (hardcover)

          Life Everywhere: The Maverick Science of Astrobiology (2001). ISBN 978-0-465-01563-4 (hardcover)

          The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia: An Alphabetical Reference to All Life in the Universe (2000) ISBN 978-0-8129-3248-5 (paperback)
          Zen Physics: The Science of Death, the Logic of Reincarnation (1996). ISBN 0-06-017352-1 (hardcover)

          Soul Search : A Scientist Explores the Afterlife (1995). ISBN 0-517-17819-2 (hardcover)

          Equations of Eternity: Speculations on Consciousness, Meaning, and the Mathematical Rules That Orchestrate the Cosmos (1993). ISBN 1-56282-875-4 (hardcover)

          Deep Time: The Journey of a Single Subatomic Particle From the Moment of Creation To the Death of the Universe and Beyond (1989). ISBN 0-385-29757-2 (hardcover)

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

          The Big Bang Never Happened
          The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe (1991) is Lerner’s controversial book which rejects mainstream Big Bang cosmology, and instead advances a non-standard plasma cosmology originally proposed by Hannes Alfvén in the 1960s. The book appeared at a time when results from the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite were of some concern to astrophysicists who expected to see cosmic microwave background anisotropies but instead measured a blackbody spectrum with little variation across the sky. Lerner referred to this as evidence that the Big Bang was a failed paradigm. He also denigrated the observational evidence for dark matter and recounted a well known cosmological feature that superclusters are larger than the largest structures that could have formed through gravitational collapse in the age of the universe.[6]

          As an alternative to the Big Bang, Lerner adopted Alfvén’s model of plasma cosmology that relied on plasma physics to explain most, if not all, cosmological observations by appealing to electromagnetic forces.[6] Adopting an eternal universe,[20] Lerner’s explanation of cosmological evolution relied on a model of thermodynamics based on the work of the Nobel Chemistry prize winner Ilya Prigogine under which order emerges from chaos.[6][21] This is in apparent defiance of the second law of thermodynamics. As a way of partially acknowledging this, Lerner asserts that away from equilibrium order can spontaneously form by taking advantage of energy flows, as argued more recently by Eric Chaisson, an American astrophysicist.[22]

          Lerner’s ideas have been rejected by the professional physicists and cosmologists who have reviewed them. In these critiques, critics have explained that, contrary to Lerner’s assertions, the size of superclusters is a feature limited by subsequent observations to the end of greatness and is consistent with having arisen from a power spectrum of density fluctuations growing from the quantum fluctuations predicted in inflationary models.[23][24][25] Anisotropies were discovered in subsequent analysis of the both COBE and BOOMERanG experiments and were more fully characterized by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe[23][24] and Planck.

          Physical cosmologists who have commented on the book have generally dismissed it.[23][25][26][27][28][29] In particular, Edward L. Wright, the American astrophysicist and cosmologist, was critical of Lerner for making errors of fact and interpretation and criticized specifics of Lerner’s alternative cosmology,[24] making the following critiques:

          Lerner’s alternative model for Hubble’s Law is dynamically unstable
          the number density of distant radio sources falsifies Lerner’s explanation for the cosmic microwave background
          Lerner’s explanation that the helium abundance is due to stellar nucleosynthesis fails because of the small observed abundance of heavier elements

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yer head is away with the fairies.

          The human species is completely fucked with oxygen thieving airheads like you walking amongst us and polluting the gene pool.

        • Joe

          Those have evidence.

        • Paul

          “Don’t let the cosmologists
          try to kid you on this one. They have not got a clue either….’In the
          beginning,’ they will say, there was nothing — no time, space, matter,
          or energy. Then there was a quantum fluctuation from which — whoa! Stop
          right there. You see what I mean? First there is nothing and then there
          is something – and before you know it, they have pulled a hundred
          billion galaxies out of their quantum hats.” David Darling, “On Creating
          Something from Nothing”, New Scientist, Vol. 151 (14 Sept. 1996), p. 46

          “Big
          bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities –
          things that we have never observed. Inflation, dark matter, and dark
          energy are the most prominent. Without them, there would be fatal
          contradictions between the observations made by astronomers and the
          predictions of the big bang theory. An open exchange of ideas is lacking
          in most mainstream conferences. Whereas Richard Feynman could say that
          ‘science is the culture of doubt,’ in cosmology today doubt and dissent
          are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they
          have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those
          who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their
          funding.” Eric Lerner, “Bucking the Big Bang,” New Scientist, 182:2448
          (22 May 2004), p. 20

          “Scientists,
          particularly at the most prestigious institutions, regularly suppress
          and ridicule findings which contradict their current theories and
          assumptions. … astronomers now feel compelled to fit the observations
          to the theory and not vice versa.” Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts,
          Cosmology and Academic Science (Montreal, CAN: Apeiron, 1998), p.12

        • Herald Newman

          In the beginning,’ they will say, there was nothing

          Stop right there. This is a reification fallacy. Nothing cannot exist, as “nothing” is only a concept. If nothing existed then nothing would clearly be something. Scientists aren’t saying that there was “nothing.” Nobody knows what there was when the big bang started.

          Big bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities – things that we have never observed. Inflation

          We most certainly have observed inflation. The universe is still inflating today, and you can see the effect of it by looking at distant galaxies!

          …dark matter, and dark energy

          Are two proposed solutions two some complex problems in cosmology. They’re still tentative, but there is good reason these have been proposed.

          in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated

          Please stop with this conspiracy theory crap! It’s utter nonsense. Nobel prizes are awarded because people dissent and come up with new ideas.

          Scientists,particularly at the most prestigious institutions, regularly suppress and ridicule findings which contradict their current theories and assumptions.

          Yes, science is a rough game. New ideas are always rightly challenged before accepting them. If you cannot handle your peers being critical of your ideas, don’t become a research scientist. If you cannot support your ideas they will, necessarily, be laughed at mercilessly.

        • Otto

          You do realize that poking holes in the science can only show the science could be wrong…it does nothing to show that ‘God did it’.

        • MR

          It tells us nothing about God at all. Attacking science has simply become a ruse to distract from the fact that there’s no defense for the claim that God exists.

        • Joe

          You seem to not understand the topics your speaking of here.

        • Greg G.

          He doesn’t understand the topics he is quotemining, you mean.

        • BlackMamba44

          Please link to your sources.

        • Pofarmer

          The full article by David Darling is here.

          https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120475-000-forum-on-creating-something-from-nothing/

          I know what Laurence Krauss answer is.

        • MadScientist1023

          You do realize those sources are not from peer reviewed journals but from magazines, don’t you? The first quote is incorrect. Many models of the universe never posit that the universe came out of nothing. The second two seem like the sour grapes of scientists whose theories just don’t hold up to scrutiny.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And you wallow with pride in making that statement…sheeesh, what an asinine Clampett.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which God?

          Do you accept the same assertion when made by woo woo merchants of other religions?

        • Otto

          >>>”God is the ultimate moral authority.”

          And how did you come to that conclusion?

          Are you not making a judgment about God by doing so?

        • Joe

          Good point. We wouldn’t actually know what is ultimate morality if we encountered it, if Paul was correct. Which he isn’t.

        • Otto

          Well let’s see…

          A theist that claims objective morality is grounded in the God they worship has to
          Subjectively determine there is a god
          Subjectively determine which god it is
          Subjectively determine how such a god communicated
          Which is always done by getting such information from another subjective human
          And then themselves subjectively determine what the communication meant
          bippity boppity boo….Objective Morality!

        • Greg G.

          We wouldn’t actually know what is ultimate morality if we encountered it

          That is the point I always make. How do we know that it is not immoral to not torture babies for fun? We may find the very thought detestable, which is what we would do if it was subjectively immoral. Psalm 137:9 proves that concept is not universal:

          Psalm 137:9 (NRSV)9 Happy shall they be who take your little ones    and dash them against the rock!

          Remember how Mom always said, “Stop throwing rocks at each other. You won’t be happy until you put someone’s eye out!” I have never put out someone’s eye but I have never been really happy.

        • Greg G.

          God is the ultimate moral authority.

          Exactly. There is no ultimate moral authority.

        • Paul

          “And neither is anyone else.”

          Which is why it makes no sense for atheists like Bob to claim that God is immoral.

        • Herald Newman

          Dumbass! One doesn’t need to be the ultimate moral authority in order to claim that some action is immoral.

        • Paul

          ” One doesn’t need to be the ultimate moral authority in order to claim that some action is immoral.”

          No, one does not need to BE the ultimate authority. But if you’re not using the ultimate moral standard, then how would you know that a particular action is immoral?

        • Herald Newman

          It’s immoral based on the values I hold, and the consequences of the action. If somebody else doesn’t hold the same values they may not reach the same conclusion.

          The fact that many of our values are shared is the reason that we can agree that many actions (depending on the situation) are immoral.

        • Greg G.

          then how would you know that a particular action is immoral?

          This question is a symptom of religious brain damage. One uses empathy informed by knowledge to determine a moral assessment.

        • Susan

          if you’re not using the ultimate moral standard, then how would you know that a particular action is immoral?

          How would you know that you’re using the ultimate moral standard?

        • Ignorant Amos

          My moral standard? I’m not the ultimate moral authority.

          You don’t know your own moral standard? How sad.

          Do you think that the actions ascribed to the deity in charge described in the OT are all good?

          What evidence do you have that they are subjective?

          Irrelevant. It is your assertion that Bob is in no position to comment on morality because he believes it to be subjective. I am just pointing out that you are talking bubbles.

          Is something right or wrong because the majority says it is?

          Another non sequitur and why morality is subjective. To that majority, then yes. Whether you think differently is your subjectivity.

          Think about it.

        • Paul

          “You don’t know your own moral standard? How sad.”

          How disingenuous of you. All I said was that I was not the ultimate moral authority. Therefore, it’s not mine – it’s God’s.

          “It is your assertion that Bob is in no position to comment on morality because he believes it to be subjective.”

          Because he’s stated that in another blog post. If they are subjective, a matter of personal opinion, then it makes to sense to claim that God is immoral.

          “Another non sequitur and why morality is subjective.”

          Again, you claim that morality is subjective. Please provide your evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How disingenuous of you. All I said was that I was not the ultimate moral authority. Therefore, it’s not mine – it’s God’s.

          Since you can’t demonstrate the veracity of your god, it is you that is disingenuous. I wasn’t asking you if you are the ultimate moral authority, I already know you are not. I asked you if by your morality, the actions attributed to YahwehJesus in the OT were good. You decided to obfuscate and fudge your answer.

          Because he’s stated that in another blog post. If they are subjective, a matter of personal opinion, then it makes to sense to claim that God is immoral.

          You are talking rot. We can all judge others based on our own moral compass. Which is why I asked you the question. But for the sake of argument, let’s say morality is objective. Do you believe the actions ascribed to YahwehJesus are morally good or bad?

          I can certainly assert that prompting murder, rape, and slavery are morally bad from my perspective. Let’s see how morally bankrupt belief has made you.

          Again, you claim that morality is subjective. Please provide your evidence.

          It is all over the place. I don’t think abortion or being gay is a bad thing. Others do. Who has the moral high ground and why?

        • Paul

          “We can all judge others based on our own moral compass.”

          Of course you can judge others, but if you are using a non-objective standard how can you be sure that you’re judging correctly?

          “I don’t think abortion or being gay is a bad thing. Others do.”

          But you and others can’t both be right at the same time. Therefore, morality is not relative. Who is actually right? The one in agreement with the ultimate moral standard – the Moral Lawgiver.

        • Herald Newman

          There are no “correct” moral judgements, only consistent moral judgements. All moral judgements are based on an underlying hierarchy of values, and that’s the only criteria used. What we value is, of course, subjective, but not completely arbitrary, because there are some values that are always going to be given very high priority. The value of human life has a high priority for virtually every person given that we’re human, and we tend to want to be alive. This is why actions like killing other humans are often considered wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Of course you can judge others, but if you are using a non-objective standard how can you be sure that you’re judging correctly?

          It only matters to me if I’m judging correctly. That’s why it is relative/subjective. What objective moral standard do you use? If it is the god of the Abrahamic faiths, you are fucked. ISIS use the same standard, as did the Christian slave traders, as did the genocidal Hebrews of Moses.

          My morals are of a far higher standard than those. If you need a god to keep your moral compass in check so you don’t run amok, murdering, stealing, raping, etc., then you are a sad bastard.

          But you and others can’t both be right at the same time. Therefore, morality is not relative. Who is actually right? The one in agreement with the ultimate moral standard – the Moral Lawgiver.

          So asinine with just the one head.

          Which Moral Lawgiver?

          Why your favorite Moral Lawgiver and not the favorite of some other belief system?

          Your Moral Lawgiver is as imaginary as all those other religions…and it’s laws are ignore and cited as and when it suits every bit as much.

          The Moral Lawgiver you follow agrees with me on abortion, but not Gay rights. The Moral Lawgiver you follow says getting a tattoo or a piercing is a crime. Eating prawn cocktail and mixing textiles is wrong. The Moral Lawgiver you follow says working on the Sabbath is punishable by death.

          You don’t hold to those laws and a whole lot of silly others besides…you cherry pick, but cherry picking objective moral laws is just being subjective. Wise ta fuck up.

        • Otto

          What objective standard did you use to determine:
          There is a moral lawgiver?
          That the moral lawgiver thinks abortion and being gay is wrong?

        • Herald Newman

          Even if there is a moral law giver, why should I care about their, ultimately subjective, standard?

        • MR

          Who is actually right?

          No one. The question is meaningless.

        • Greg G.

          The one in agreement with the ultimate moral standard – the Moral Lawgiver.

          How do you know who is in agreement with the ultimate moral standard? That is what we have been begging you to tell us. Christians use the Bible as support for and against slavery, for and against abortion, for and against helping foreigners, for and against going to war. You can’t even five straight answers to questions posed to you about morality.

          You make Xtianity look like a disease of the mind.

        • Paul

          “I don’t think abortion or being gay is a bad thing. Others do.”

          And if two people disagree, that doesn’t make morality relative/subjective. That would be a non-sequitur. It just means that two people disagree.

        • Herald Newman

          Indeed, but morality isn’t subject because we disagree. Morality is subjective because it depends on what we value, which is subjective.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Two people who disagree on which of the two has the moral high ground. To each position, there is a belief based on a morality. Each is relative/subjective to the person making the choice.

          But who get’s to decide which of the two positions is morally corrupt and why?

        • MR

          It’s the very definition of morality being relative/subjective. Morality isn’t, after all, a thing. It’s simply a judgement that people make and it’s a judgement that they might disagree on.

        • Right. Morality could be objective, but we humans simply can’t access the correct answer.

          Which puts you back where you started. Morality is either not objective, or it’s objective but we can’t access it.

    • eric

      But Bob sees morality as relative/subjective. So it makes to sense for Bob to even say this.

      Congratulations, you just introduced Stupid Argument #6: “you’re a moral relativist, so can’t point out the internal inconsistencies in Christian claims of objective morality.”

      Answer: bzzzzt, this is nonsensical and a form of the ad hominem fallacy. One doesn’t have to believe in a specific system of morality to point out that system’s problems. A non-utilitarian can point out the problems of utilitarianism. A non-Kantian can point out the problems of deontological moral theory. Likewise, a moral relativist can point out that the claims God is objectively good + X action is objectively bad + God did X = a set of statements that contains a contradiction. Anyone, of any moral ideology, is ‘allowed’ to point this out. Attempting to invalidate this observation by saying “well, you’re a moral relativist” is to avoid addressing their argument by making an irrelevant point about the speaker which you hope will undermine the audience’s confidence in them – aka, to engage in an ad hom.

      • Herald Newman

        And yes, a moral relativist can point out that a claim that there is that God is objectively good + a claim that X action is objectively bad + a claim that God did X = a set of statements that contains a contradiction.

        Except that moral relativists don’t claim that anything is objectively bad. Maybe I misunderstand what you’re saying here.

        • Damien Priestly

          So what !! That doesn’t mean a moral relativist cannot do analysis and determine what is bad based on experience, well-being, empathy or harm. Some ethical things may change over time in a morally relativistic view…but many things such as murder, rape, child-abuse, genocide, slavery (these are all God’s biblical actions)…are very wrong and will stay that way…relativistic or not.

        • Herald Newman

          But they cannot say that anything is objectively wrong, which is the point I was raising. They can certainly claim that they believe something to be wrong, and even give reasons for it.

        • Joe

          Well, I do (though I don’t call myself a moral relativist, rather a “naturalistic moral objectivist”) .

          I just don’t say something is objectively wrong because a god decrees it so.

        • Herald Newman

          Unless you’re some kind of moral realist, I’m not sure how you can claim that anything is objectively wrong. I’m not a moral realist, rather I’m a consequentialist, and the consequences of our actions are the only things we can objectively measure.

          I don’t say that anything is objectively wrong. I say that actions objectively go against my subjective values. If nobody else holds my values then nobody else is going to agree that the actions are wrong.

        • Joe

          I use “objective”, the way it was meant to be: I have a moral system that allows me to make objective decisions on morality.

        • Herald Newman

          I’m sorry. Maybe I’m not all that swift, but I don’t understand how you’re making objective decisions on morality. Can you clarify what you mean here?

        • Joe

          Certainly:

          My moral standard is built around the suffering of sentient beings. If an action is contrary to that, it is immoral. Therefore I can make an objective decision for all moral behaviors.

        • Greg G.

          You might be able to make a decision about a route to achieve your moral intentions, but that does not mean your moral intention is objectively moral. Maybe we are just supposed to be incubators for tapeworms and harming other potential tape worm incubators is objectively immoral. Any medical treatment that favors tape worm incubators is moral unless it harms tape worms. So making a decision about the best way to eliminate tape worms might be objective but it would be objectively immoral to do so.

        • Herald Newman

          Fair enough answer. Thank you.

        • eric

          “a claim that” refers to the claims that the Christian is asserting. The Christian asserts a good god. The Christian asserts moral objectivity of actions, for instance that murder is wrong. The Christian asserts God murdered everyone on Earth except Noah and his family. The atheist doesn’t have to believe in God, or in objective goodness, or in the flood to point out that these three claims, taken together, have a serious internal logical problem.

          Look, let’s try a nonchristian example. Let’s say I believe in JoBu. I assert to you one day that JoBu is green. I also assert that JoBu is only one color. I further assert to you that JoBu is red. Now, do you have to accept the existence JoBu to point out the problem with those three assertions taken together? No, you do not. Do have to believe any of my assertions to point out that all three can’t be true at the same time? No, you do not. Likewise, an atheist does not have to believe any of the assertions of the Christian – not even the ‘morality is objective one’ – in order to point out that the three assertions ‘God is all good’, ‘murder is objectively wrong,’ and ‘God sent the flood and murdered most of humanity’ can’t all be true at the same time.

        • Herald Newman

          The Christian asserts God murdered everyone on Earth except Noah and his family

          I doubt you’ll find many Christians who will say that God murdered everyone except Noah and his family. I’ve yet to meet any Christian who says this. Murder, being the unjustified killing of another, isn’t likely to describe (to the Christian) Gods action of killing most of humanity in their Genesis story. They’ll agree that God killed them, but I doubt they’ll agree that God murdered them.

          What makes pinning the Christian (and other moral realists) down is that moral evaluations are necessarily situational. Under one situation an action can be declared “objectively wrong”, and in other claimed to be acceptable. They’ll declare something objectively wrong, but add caveats to the declaration. Or worse, they’ll simply make moral statements like “unjustified killing is wrong!” Well no kidding!

      • Joe

        He should scroll down and see my point. I don’t know anyone who acts as of objective morality, in the way Christians descibe it, exists. Especially Christians.

      • Paul

        “Likewise, a moral relativist can point out that the claims God is
        objectively good + X action is objectively bad + God did X = a set of
        statements that contains a contradiction.”

        Person A says stealing is wrong. Person B says stealing is right. Do their statements contradict each other?

        • Greg G.

          Person A says stealing is always wrong. Person B says stealing is sometimes right.

          Situation A means stealing is wrong. Situation B means stealing is right. Both can be correct.

          Suppose Person B found Person A near death and began to perform CPR, then Person B started to experience similar symptoms that are consistent with a fentanyl reaction. Would it be wrong to steal a Naloxone injection from Person C to save Person B’s life?

          What if Person B was you?

          If you would insist on dying rather than allowing a theft, then you have taken the moral high ground. If you would choose to live because a stolen injection, then you are a moral relativist.

        • Otto

          Even my wacko teacher the Nun said that stealing was OK in some circumstances.

        • eric

          The issue here is:
          1. Person A says stealing is wrong. Person A says God only does good. Person A says God stole.
          2. Person B points out that those three statements can’t all be true at the same time.
          3. Person A says “you don’t believe stealing is wrong, so nyah.”
          4. Person B points out that his belief is irrelevant to the question of whether A’s three-claim set has a contradiction in it.

          An atheist’s subjective belief in morality is irrelevant to the question of whether Christianity’s combined claims about God’s goodness, objective morality, and biblical inerrancy has a contradiction in it.

    • Otto

      God has not been demonstrated to actually be an ultimate moral authority. God at this point is no different than a character in a book. You would have a lot of work to do to actually create the foundation for the argument you are hanging your hat on.

    • Michael Neville

      Since your god is a fictitious, imaginary, non-existent critter then anyone can make comments about its morals as described in the work of fiction called the Bible. According to that piece of propaganda, your god is described as a sadistic, narcissistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. It kills people because it can. It orders genocide and sexual slavery. It condones slavery. None of these are moral according to normal people. You may disagree.

      • Laurence Charles Ringo

        What is the point ofdisagreeing with the non-existent, Mr.Neville?? SMH!

        • Ctharrot

          He’s not disagreeing with the non-existent. He’s disbelieving in the non-existent, and disagreeing with theists like Paul and you.

          . . . Or wait, hang on. Are you saying . . . theists like you don’t exist? THEN HOW ARE YOU DOING EMOJIS??

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          That’s what is known as a distinction without a difference, Ctharrot…If you disagree with my premise, that means that you don’t believe that it’s valid; hence you don’t believe it’s true. (And I happen to like emojis, so deal with it.)—

        • Pofarmer

          Dunning/Kruger in action, boys.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Dial it back a notch, Pofarmer, you’re not NEARLY as clever as you imagine yourself to be…

        • Michael Neville

          Pofarmer and everyone else here is a whole lot more clever than you could ever hope to be. Dunning-Krueger describes you perfectly.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another feckin’ Dime Bar…just when ya think the silliness can’t get any sillier, another special kind of dumb arse to add to the list.

        • Pofarmer

          Perhaps we should type in crayon?

        • Greg G.

          And be sure to use colors like red and blue and avoid polysyllabic colors like Periwinkle.

        • Michael Neville

          Of course you like emojis, all immature, stupid people like them.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Aww, you poor, sad, joyless little man…You need some joy, happiness and love in your tiny, cramped, mean little soul…tsk, tsk. Sad. You’ll be in my prayers. PEACE IN CHRIST TO YOU!!! ☺☺☺

        • Michael Neville

          I’m actually a quite happy man. I get joy from my family, my friends, my work, my interests, and the world around me. In other words, reality gives me joy. Too bad you need to find joy in a delusion. Maybe you’ll grow up and realize that your imaginary friend is not a source of joy. But probably not, you’re not mature or smart enough to accept reality.

        • Joe

          You win the disagreement every time.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          That’s kinda clever, Joe…Sorta like a schizophrenic arguing with him/self…

        • Joe

          Actually a Schizophrenic would have more justification in believing their delusions.

        • Otto

          What exactly is being disagreed with that is non-existent?

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Read Neville’s post, Otto…He attributed actions to what he labeled “non-existent “, so…let him tell you what he thinks he meant (And stop parroting Dawkins; think for yourself, Neville!) —

        • Otto

          I did read his post, he was disagreeing with a character in a real story, and he was disagreeing with the real claim that the character exists, and with the real claim that the story is true, and the real claim that the character described in the story acted in a moral fashion.

          Did I miss something?

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          I’m not sure what “real story”YOU’RE referring to, Otto, but Neville stated plainly that the Bible is a…”work of fiction”…need clarification on what part of the story is “real”to you…

        • Otto

          So the story does not exist?

        • Michael Neville

          The Bible is a work of fiction. Got any evidence outside the Bible that Jesus performed any of the miracles that are described in the Bible? Got any evidence outside the Bible that Jesus died and was resurrected? Got any evidence outside the Bible that Jesus is a historical figure? Of course you don’t. Which tells me that the Bible is a work of fiction describing a fictitious, imaginary, non-existent character. Sorry if reality disagrees with your fantasies. Maybe when you reach maturity you’ll understand that. But probably not, you’re likely not smart enough to understand what I’m saying.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Geez, Neville; WHY are you still talking?? Frankly, your pet peeves are bordering on the boring; what’s wrong with you? The impact that this one singular Person, Jesus the Christ, has made made on the entirety of Western Civilization is incalculable, and only the most deliberately obtuse would even attempt to deny it!! Seriously, you need to come out of that basement your hiding in, take a deep breath, and soak in some of Almighty God’s cleansing sunshine!

        • Michael Neville

          If you don’t want to read me then stop reading, you incredibly stupid child. Even someone as idiotic and immature as your dumb ass should be able to figure that out.

          So, got any evidence that Jesus actually existed? Of course you don’t because if you did you’d be throwing it about me instead of nattering about “cleansing sunshine” and obvious bullshit trying and failing to hide the fact that you don’t have any evidence that your Jesus ever existed. BTW, soap and water do a much better job of cleansing than sunshine does. Ask your mommy about soap and water, she’ll explain it to you.

          Why should I to replying to your stupidities? It’s fun to watch you pretend to be an adult when you make it more and more plain that you’re a stupid, immature 12 year old.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          My mother’s dead, Neville….I would think that even someone as vicious, hateful, and vile as YOU would respect that, but I won’t hold my breath. Kindly leave my mother out of this…Or is that even too much for the likes of you? Vile,hateful cretin.

        • Michael Neville

          My mother’s dead too. So fucking what? If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis. No, your feeble attempt to make me the bad guy by mentioning your mother fails. But then you should be used to failing, you do it so often.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The rest of us get a kick out of his replying to your asinine nonsense and tearing you a new one…plus, there is all the potential lurkers to consider.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not parroting Dawkins, I’m explaining thing in such a way that even stupid, immature people like you can understand them. And don’t whine about me calling you stupid and immature, it’s not my fault you’re that way.

        • Michael Neville

          Because so many people think their fictitious gods (remember there’s a lot more than your favorite deity) are real. They’re influenced by belief in the make believe and want to spread this influence around.

          Personally I couldn’t care less about your beliefs or any other theist’s beliefs. I’d prefer to leave you alone. However Christians won’t let me and people I care for alone. There are creationists who want to replace science education with teaching religious mythology. There are fundamentalist evangelicals (fundagelicals in atheist-speak) who would deny GLBTQs civil rights because “God thinks butt sechs is icky!” Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the Chairman of the Senate Science and Technology Committee, refuses to hold hearings on any facet of climate change because after the Noachian flood God promised not to use weather to punish mankind ever again.

          Does this make sense to you? I realize that 12 year olds like yourself aren’t au courant with the effects of religions. I know you’re 12 years old because those are the only people who constantly and consistently use emoticons. Maybe when you reach 13 you’ll understand how silly you look using them.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Sigh…grow up, Neville. You need not be so ridiculously paranoid about what these fear-inducing”fundagelicals” will try to force upon you and yours; after all, you can always run to the courts for protection. Do you have definitive proof that Sen.Inhofe operates from such a blatantly unscientific mindset? Do you know him,and have you heard him state his position in those terms? And finally, I employ emojis because they’re fun, I like them, and in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, I have the RIGHT and FREEDOM to employ them, myself and millions of other Americans, from 12-13 to 63 (my age) to 103, so stop whining about it and deal with it…PEACE!!!

        • Michael Neville

          I describe real world problems and you say I’m “ridiculously paranoid”. You’re too stupid and immature to understand what I’m talking about. Maybe when you reach graduate from sixth grade you’ll start to understand why I said what I said. But probably not, you are a particularly stupid person.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Do you have definitive proof that Sen.Inhofe operates from such a blatantly unscientific mindset?

          https://newrepublic.com/article/120889/evangelical-james-inhofe-says-only-god-can-cause-climate-change

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          I read the article you posted, Ignorant Amos; thank you.I was unaware of this senator’s views, so I stand corrected; my apologies to Neville.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whaaaa?

          So you don’t disagree that Joseph Smith got golden tablets of the angel Moroni that contained holy scriptures that were Christian?

          So you don’t disagree that there are millions of Hindu gods that interfere and directly influence all aspects of human life?

          So you don’t disagree that Mo is the last great prophet who rode a flying horse to visit an archangel in order to receive the divine word of Allah?

          So you don’t disagree that Zeus commanded a pantheon of gods from Mount Olympus?

          Fiction is littered with non-existent evil characters that we can disagree on. From Dracula to Darth Vader to The Joker…the fact that they can be disagreed with, even though they are non-existent, which means you are a dumb arse simpleton.

          The point is knowing the difference between what is fiction and what is not, something you appear to be struggling with…which is what is being pointed out to dumb arses like yourself that stop by here.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Thanks “Ignorant” Amos(An apt moniker, by the way); I can always count on you to deliver a gratuitous insult. It may(or may not) surprise you to know that when I read comic books as a kid, the concept of agreeing or disagreeing with the characters depicted was something I gave little thought to; if anything I was hugely entertained and enthralled by the action, as most children are.So, your point here is what, exactly? I am a life-long reader and have read thousands of books, so…? “Moby Dick” is fiction; the average science book isn’t. Does that clear up YOUR obvious confusion? I hope so. THANKS!!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thanks “Ignorant” Amos(An apt moniker, by the way);

          That didn’t take long. I’m gonna start running a sweepstakes as to how long it takes the religitard to be commenting before they fall for that one. You are a gift.

          I can always count on you to deliver a gratuitous insult.

          Gratuitous? Don’t be daft…I haven’t even started yet.

          It may(or may not) surprise you to know that when I read comic books as a kid, the concept of agreeing or disagreeing with the characters depicted was something I gave little thought to; if anything I was hugely entertained and enthralled by the action, as most children are.So, your point here is what, exactly? I am a life-long reader and have read thousands of books, so…?

          My point here is that loads of fiction, even comic books, carry a morality message of good against bad, they are still fiction.

          “Moby Dick” is fiction; the average science book isn’t. Does that clear up YOUR obvious confusion? I hope so. THANKS!!

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          No, Ignorant Amos, and really, you should just stop showcasing your ignorance— it’s becoming increasingly tiresome!!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ignorance can be rectified, being a dumb cunt can’t.

          Try rebutting my comment for a wee bit of variety, the only one who is becoming increasingly tiresome around here at the moment, is you. So either…put up, or shut up and fuck away off if you are not willing to contribute…Dime Bar.

        • Greg G.

          LCR tries to prove objective morality exists by appealing to subjective emotional feelings about horrible things. Don’t hold your breath waiting for him to rebut anything. I was told this evening that doctors have found that brain death begins after two minutes without oxygen rather than the four minutes they used to think.

        • Joe

          Really? Fiction owes its popularity to the fact that people become invested in the characters.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Like the Jesus yarn….

    • Joe

      You see morality as relative. You just won’t acknowledge it and simply claim objective morality exists.

      • Paul

        “You see morality as relative.”

        No, I don’t. Person A says stealing is right. Person B says stealing is wrong. Can stealing be both right and wrong at the same time? No. Therefore, morality is NOT relative.

        • MR

          Relatively, of course it can. Objectively, the speculation is meaningless.

        • Greg G.

          Is it morally wrong to steal food to feed a starving person? If an armed robber is stealing from you but sets his gun down for a second for some reason, would it be morally wrong to steal his gun?

        • MR

          Is it morally wrong to steal food to feed a starving person?

          Victor Hugo wrote an epic novel based on that. What if someone steals from you and you don’t care? Where is the objective wrong? Stealing from the novel, what if you take something from me but I freely give it to you? You do me no wrong. The wrongness of an act lies in how it’s perceived, which is by definition relative.

        • Herald Newman

          As I’ve stated elsewhere, morality ultimately comes down to our hierarchy of values, and the situation. If we don’t have the same values we may not reach the same moral conclusions. If I don’t value the thing stolen from me, has anything immoral really happened? I would tend to say no.

        • MR

          Right. And objectivity certainly doesn’t lie in the act itself. Animals steal all the time and we make no moral judgement, so the act of stealing isn’t objectively wrong. It’s meaningless.

          My boss , without so much as a “May I?,” helped himself to some snacks on my desk once while going over some work he wanted me to do. I was stunned since they weren’t there for other people to take. Rude! But I didn’t see it as a moral infraction. Impolite, insensitive, perhaps, but immoral? I just can’t see a case for objectivity.

        • Greg G.

          What if I just borrow from you and pay you back with interest? For every pair of oxygen atoms I borrow from your share of the remaining air supply, I will pay you back two oxygen atoms plus a carbon atom as interest in just ten seconds.

          I saw the version of Hugo’s Les Miserables, starring Gladiator and Wolverine in the States before traveling to Vietnam. There is a religion in Vietnam called Cao Dai which is a mix of Buddhism, Christianity, and philosophy. The three patron saints are a Buddhist monk, a philosopher (one is Chinese and one is Vietnamese but I can never keep it straight), and Victor Hugo. Our friend arranged a trip to the Cao Dai temple, and a few days later, to see Les Miserables in Saigon with subtitles in Vietnamese. The crowd gave a standing ovation at the end. (I have been to a handful of movies there since then but haven’t seen another standing ovation.) That inspired me to read up on Victor Hugo and found that he was not just a playwright, he was a great statesman.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not so surprising when the place was a French colony and heavily influenced by the French until the Indo-China wars that seen them out in the 1950’s if a remember correctly.

        • Greg G.

          They have a saying about having a thousand years of war with the East, a hundred years of war with the West, and thirty years of war with themselves.

          When Germany invaded France in WWII, Japan went into Vietnam. When France came back, they changed some things like outlawing the ancient Asian practice of polygamy though it grandfathered in existing cases. The prohibition didn’t end the polygamy, but it shifted the balance of power to the wives so that if the man was good to them, they allowed it but if he wasn’t, they could report the husband who got in trouble. This became more frequent during and after the war in the 70s because of the gender imbalance of survivors.

        • Aram

          1954, I believe. Then the Americans came in and (random factoid) built a military base right on top of a tunnel network the Viet Minh had dug whilst fighting the French. Took the Yanks a long while to figure out how their base kept getting breached at night.

        • Otto

          Was Diem Cao Dai?

          It sounds like it.

        • Greg G.

          I think the South Vietnamese leaders back then were Catholics, mostly. I don’t know that history well except from the PBS show from last year. I have memories of President Kennedy.

        • Otto

          I just watched the first episode of the PBS show last night and they described Diem as a Catholic/Buddhist. That is what made me think of it.

        • Greg G.

          Here is the place we visited. I was told it was near Laos. We also visited Cu Chi in the morning. We stopped for dinner on the way back (where I had roasted crickets as an appetizer, yes, plural) and made it back to Saigon before dark. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f391d58ea1c844ebf126f6640c3658c1c3bd6a65679fdd2bc25014e7db80bfa2.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82c912d6d61232c3c9bceffc503e3079717dd1c861e820d4c7c5dfde27a2ca35.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/17de8a75e8df91150f9135082e345fdd00eb9229415942aebc272979d74cb85d.jpg

        • Otto

          That is really cool. I would love to visit there.

        • Aram

          Definitely worth it.

        • Aram
        • Greg G.

          No spiders but those brown crickets look like the type we had. They even put peanuts in the rear ends. I ate three of them. I would have had more but I didn’t eat fast enough.

          We became friends with a student going to school here and then became friends with her family in Vietnam. The girl, her mother, some aunts, and cousins went to Angkor Wat about two years ago. The girl posted a video of herself eating a black cricket. She said it tasted terrible. I ate the brown crickets with her mother and she said the black crickets were not nearly as good.

        • Aram

          Angkor Wat amazing as all get-out, I ended up going twice.
          Yeah, especially during the Khmer Rouge era Cambodians learned to eat just about anything. I’m all for eating bugs, in fact. It would help a great deal with our current food situation.
          I see you were also at the Cu Chi tunnels. Hell of a claustrophobic experience hey, going inside then trying to imagine people spending months down there. Shit.
          Here’s me almost getting stuck on the way out. Fortunately, I was thinner then 😉 https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/985baf71e7261f5cfd6f33db669d934d9e5c6b88205162fd0cb0bdbb686d8939.jpg

        • Greg G.

          You have to be able to squat with your heels all the way down, then run that way.

        • Greg G.

          Angkor Wat amazing as all get-out, I ended up going twice.

          When we were staying in Vinh Long, my wife went on a trip with her friends to visit a “Buddhist temple”. I like to see them but I don’t like to stay as long as she does so it was fine with me that she would be gone a few days. She didn’t know how to say “Angkor Wat” in English anyway. I was none the wiser until there was a commercial on TV with Angkor Wat so I said I would like to go there. Then she explained that she had gone there.

          We were considering going there on the last trip in January but we ended up going to Australia with her brother and his wife for a week and a day.

        • Aram

          Ah shit, sorry to hear it. Next time! And yeah, you definitely need to spend a few days, even a few weeks. Over 300 temples spread across a massive area. The first Tomb Raider film used Ta Prohm from the complex to great effect!

        • Fascinating. Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm was apparently in charge of the Third Alliance (1 was Moses, 2 was Jesus).

          Yet another reboot of the Bible.

        • Pofarmer

          There are interesting accusations of catholic nuns hauling Vietnamese babies out on planes. Probably born to single mothers. They sold them for adoption.

        • Otto

          I can agree with your point to some extent. Why is stealing wrong than? How to you justify that statement?

          Saying ‘God says so’ doesn’t explain anything.

        • Max Doubt

          “Person A says stealing is right. Person B says stealing is wrong. Can stealing be both right and wrong at the same time?”

          Yes.

          “No.”

          Yes, it can.

          “Therefore, morality is NOT relative.”

          Morality is not objective. How do we know that? There are people who hold that certain actions are morally wrong, while others consider those same actions morally right. Unless you have an objective method for determining who is correct – a method other than your personal declaration according to your personal opinion which is definitively subjective – then you can’t support the claim that there’s an objective basis for morality or that morality is something other than subjective.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Given Paul’s stance on morality, I have asked him to clear up some issues facing society today such as the legalization of marijuana. Since he claims that he has an objective standard of morality, it should be trivially easy for him to let America know what it should do. Hell, he could, to the bane of philosophy professors everywhere, give us the objectively correct answer to the trolley problem.

          I wonder why he hasn’t done so?

        • Max Doubt

          “I wonder why he hasn’t done so?”

          I’m sure Paul stays pretty busy, what with being the grand arbiter of moral righteousness and all.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Oh, no. Paul is not the arbiter of anything moral. Paul is just an amoral automaton taking orders from Yahweh.

          I still wish he would clue us in to Yahweh’s absolute moral decree on our current moral questions. It would clear up a lot. For some reason all he does is rail against subjective morality instead of actually demonstrating his claim of absolute morality. It’s very stingy of him to keep such incredible knowledge to himself.

        • Herald Newman

          The common answer given to this is that they’re arguing moral ontology, not epistemology. Of course, it’s rather useless to say that something exists if doesn’t help us at all in our moral decision making.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Yeah. A source of absolute morality isn’t very useful if you don’t actually know what it says. Or if it exists.

        • Joe

          The fastest car in the world won’t win a single race if nobody can find the car keys.

        • Doubting Thomas

          ….or the car.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • MR

          Who the fuck cares about the UK?

          Oops, was I being subjective in my morality again? Damn.

        • Greg G.

          You need to be objectively careful expressing your subjective feelings.

        • Susan

          Given Paul’s stance on morality, I have asked him to clear up some issues facing society today such as the legalization of marijuana. Since he claims that he has an objective standard of morality, it should be trivially easy for him to let America know what it should do

          Last time he was here, I asked him to start with factory farming.

          He disappeared and has come back with the same embarassing script as though it might work this time.

          He’s a poor minion parroting terrible arguments and unable to participate in a discussion on morality in any real way.

          But he thinks he’s doing the Lord’s work.

          I felt sorry for him the first time but the second time, I just think he’s dishonest.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I agree that it has to do with the idea that most religious people are, in these situations, taught what to say instead of how to think. If the discussion goes off track, they have no option but to repeat part of the script until they get the answer the script calls for. After hearing the same nonsense for the 100th time, we start mocking him. This makes them mad and they leave to go complain about those angry atheist to a more sympathetic ear. The other Christians bolster his faith, give him some more talking points, and praise him for the attempt, encouraging him to come back here where the entire scenario plays itself out again.

          You would think that his inability to answer even the easiest question about his position would make him think twice about it, but, as I’ve been told, self awareness is the first thing to go.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          So, let’s ask this is question, “Max Doubt ” : If someone kicks in your door, guns down your wife, and rapes your baby daughter, would that be objective or subjective mortality? Take your time…

        • Greg G.

          Subjective. The universe doesn’t care.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          And the “universe” would be involved in actions affecting humans how,exactly, Greg G.? Seriously, is that even a valid question? Oh,wait, let’s ask the “universe”…!!

        • Greg G.

          We think it would be a terrible thing. That’s subjective. What if the daughter would have been the mother to the next Stalin and the next child that would have been born would have created an incurable disease? On balance, your scenario might be better for humanity that the future was altered. You don’t know so you cannot say which was objectively better in the grand scheme. Your scenario is designed to pull on one person’s subjective heart strings. You are then going to try to claim it is objective.

          The universe still doesn’t care either way what happens to humans.

          Edited to correct the wrong word.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          I’ve already made the “universe” point, Greg…and my point was not meant to be an abstract positing of “what-if” scenarios; I was addressing YOU, specifically, Greg G. Should that happen to YOU, it’s doubtful you would view those events as “subjective”,and neither would any other normal human being…

        • Greg G.

          You are trying to argue for objective morality by asking about subjective feelings. You are killing your argument.

          If something would happen to me, yes, I would view the events differently than I would if they happened to you. That is because it is subjective.

          There are people murdered in horrible ways everyday but neither of us care as much about those people as we would if someone we loved died peacefully in their sleep.

          If intentionally killing someone was objectively wrong, it wouldn’t make a difference why a person was killed. Killing in self-defense would be objectively as immoral as first degree murder.

          You are scoring own goals left and right. Are you sure you know what point you are trying to make?

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          I’m not arguing whether or not the taking of human life is objective per se Greg; obviously according to the laws of the land defending one’s self is to a certain degree objective. The question is can morality be objective, and the answer is yes,to a point.I shoot to death someone trying to murder my mother, the judge wouldn’t view my actions as immoral; he may ask me if I could have taken a less extreme course of action to bring about a different outcome, but the law won’t allow the court to view my actions as murder; certainly if it was the judge’s mother’s life I saved…!!

        • Greg G.

          The question is can morality be objective

          But your argument is to appeal to subjective feelings which cannot give any valid indication of an objective morality. If there is an objective morality, it might be counter to our feelings. Objective morality might require people to try to chop off the other person’s head. We wouldn’t like and would avoid it in favor of our subjective preference of not chopping off each other’s heads.

          We can determine that 2 + 2 is objectively 4. The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is objectively an irrational number, which makes it impossible precisely express both the diameter and the circumference of a circle. So objective things in this world are not necessarily what we prefer. Why assume that objective morality would agree with our subjective likes and dislikes? With math, we can at least approximate objective values.

          With morality, we can start with our preferences which might be counter to objective morality and lead in the wrong direction. All we can do is work out a subjective morality that works mutually for us, allowing us to thrive and minimize suffering.

          We don’t like suffering but objective morality might be that whoever suffers the most wins.

        • Susan

          And the “universe” would be involved in actions affecting humans how,exactly

          Everything that demonstrably affects humans happens within the universe. Even the presence of humans is dependent on contingent things that happened in the universe before humans existed.

          Seriously, is that even a valid question?

          It’s a perfectly reasonable question.

          Rather than answer it as such, you use evasive maneuvers.

          Oh, wait, let’s ask the “universe” (irrelevant smiley faces that make you look sillier.)

          Can you provide something that affects humans that isn’t included in the universe?

          Something real?

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Seriously, Susan…I hope that you’re not trying to be clever here.The question wasn’t about what happens WITHIN the universe, but in what sense does said universe presumably affects our actions and choices.If the perpetrator(s) of the heinous crimes I outlined is captured and appears in a court of law, the judge won’t ask if the crimes were influenced by the Sun, Moon, the Horseshoe Nebula, or the nearest Black Hole!! Give me a break!! And it’s a thinking emoji, NOT a smiliey-face,so try again.

        • Susan

          I hope that you’re not tryiing to be clever here.

          Nope.

          You asked a question. I took it seriously. You asked how the “universe” would be involved in actions involving humans, how exactly?”

          And I responded.

          If the perpetrator(s) of the heinous crimes I outlined is captured and appears in a court of law, the judge won’t ask if the crimes were influenced by the Sun, Moon, the Horseshoe Nebula, or the nearest Black Hole

          Nope. It’s humans evaluating humans. None of them do it in the scope of the universe, let alone “outside” the universe.

          it’s a thinking emoji, NOT a smiliey-face

          I used the term “smiley face” as a description of your irrelevant addition of emoticons.

          Now, if you aren’t interested in the discussions you start or responses to the questions you ask, couldn’t you find other places to troll?

          It would probably give you the same thrill to troll fansites of The Bachelor.

          Why don’t you give that a try for a while and come back here when you’re interested in having a discussion?

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          The “discussion ” about the non-existent influence of the universe is over, Susan; we both agreed that human actions perpetrated WITHIN said universe are not affected by the universe, nor can any such influence be proven to have any empirical validity; it smacks of new-age nonsense. I am willing to concede that perhaps you misspoke in your post; happening within the universe, yes; influenced by, a most emphatic NO! (By the way, did you read the news reports about the Oxford scientists who claim that it’s more that likely we (humans) are alone in the Universe? There’s a thought, huh?)—Given the unfathomable vastness of this universe, it’s speculative, but still…WOW!!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Mortality?…yep, dumb arse is right.

        • Laurence Charles Ringo

          Sigh…Anyone with presumably half a brain would know that I meant “morality”, Amos.Dude,seriously…What is WRONG with you??

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sigh…stop trying to take your dumb arse so seriously. Anyone with half a brain would know I’m just taking the pish at this point in acting the grammar troll, because at this point, mockery and ridicule is all you deserve.

          And we all know what is WRONG with you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          People like the “someone” who does that, don’t think that is morally wrong.

          Groups like ISIS who hold no value for the human rights for anyone in the out group don’t think doing that sort of stuff is morally wrong.

          YahwehJesus in the OT didn’t think doing that was morally wrong just as long as it was his chosen doing it to the others…read your Buybull soft boy.

        • You’re having a hard time separating “strongly felt moral opinion” from “objectively true moral opinion.” We all agree that the first exists. Your job is to show that the second exists (and you’re not just confusing one for the other).

          Go.

        • Joe

          Is stealing wrong?

        • Ignorant Amos

          YahwehJesus has no problem with stealing, depending on who is doing the stealing…it’s right there in your silly story book. Therefore, morality IS relative. Read it for yerself.

        • Can vanilla be both the best ice cream flavor and not? No. Therefore, taste is NOT relative. There must be one Best Flavor.

        • Greg G.

          You are correct. I prefer chocolate, therefore I am wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Wrong spot.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know whether they do or not. They don’t show up. Maybe they are to let people blow off some steam when they don’t have time to reply. But so many times when I have an involved reply typed out with lots of research and then hit “Post as”, it comes up as not active. In this case, Tom had posted after I had gone to bed and it wasn’t there when I woke up and tried to reply. So something is going on. It is almost always with someone I disagree with. I have begun to think there is some algorithm that monitors the arrows.

        • Pofarmer

          Both up and downvotes used to tabulate. They quit tabulating down votes.

        • Herald Newman

          Actually, down votes are still counted, and contained in the HTML, they just aren’t rendered on the page. There is a plugin that allows you to display downvote counts on comments. Search for “disqus downvote exposer” and the name of the web browser you use.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for this information.

          It turns out that Chrome on Windows 7 (at least) can show you the number of down votes by right-clicking the down arrow and selecting “Inspect”. I get a split window with three frames on the right half. The lower left frame shows “Inherited from” in the gray background followed by a.vote-down.count-x in the white background, where x apparently is the number of down votes. I checked a half dozen or so and they were either 0 or 1 and the 1’s were all on Paul’s posts. You may have to scroll that frame to get to it.

        • Greg G.

          I tried the right click on Internet Explorer and selected “Inspect element.” I got a horizontal split screen with two frames below the page. The pane with the information seems to be missing.

        • Greg G.

          I found a two day old post by Paul that showed “a.vote-down.count-1” under inspection. I opened the post on Internet Explorer and down arrowed it. Then I refreshed the Chrome version of the post, did the inspection and it said “a.vote-down.count-2”.

        • it’s sad that it means so much to you to find out who disapproves of you that you spent all this time on it.

          Dude, a lot of people will never like you or what you have to say.

          that’s life, so suck it up.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t care who down votes me.

          You can find out how many down votes a post got no matter whose post it is. The thing is that some posts get inactivated before you link to so you can’t find it or you spend a lot of time on a reply only to have Disqus reject it because the post became inactive while you were typing. Why that happens interests me. Is it because the post received a certain number of down votes?

        • > I don’t care who down votes me.

          That’s what you say, but I know how much effort it takes to inspect elements over and over again.

          So your own efforts betray what you just claimed.

        • Greg G.

          I wasn’t even looking at my own posts.

        • i know.

          but that doesn’t matter.

        • > The thing is that some posts get inactivated before you link

          downvotes don’t fix that.

        • Greg G.

          The moderator can fix it. I wanted to know if down votes cause it. If it was something in the post that triggered Disqus to deactivate it, why doesn’t it happen immediately? Why is the post active when I click to it three hours after it was posted, but it is inactive after I try to post a reply twenty minutes later?

        • downvotes don’t cause it. at least in no way directly.

          if they impact it at all, it’s in very narrow arenas.

          The reason i qualify this as “directly” is disqus has been rolling out heuristics to screen “toxic users” and that may use downvotes as part of its overall heuristic pattern matching scheme. I can’t be sure though.

          But I am fairly confident they don’t directly impact your rep, and even if they do indirectly, it would be only in very narrow cases.

          I know you can set the number of flags someone has to get before their account to is demoted to “requires premoderation” on a site by site basis.

          and that’s what will drop you into the moderation bucket for most sites, typically, if you’re commenting in a “hostile environment” (basically you’re saying stuff nobody wants to hear, whether trolling or not)

        • > Is it because the post received a certain number of down votes?

          Not directly.

          Your comments will go automatically inactive as soon as your account rep dips below the acceptable level (set on a site by site basis, i forget the default offhand, but its low)

          Your rep is impacted by a number of things. One of the easiest ways to sink a low rep account is flagging comments as spam.

          A way to boost rep is as i recall, to get replies to your comments and to get upvotes.

          downvotes as a metric for anything other than sorting has been retired, if it ever was a thing.

          Some time ago, the Disqus support team released a post about that.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. That is what I wondered about.

        • pro-tip: add disqus to a temporary tumblr site or something.

          so you have access to the disqus admin panel.

          and that way you can actually experiment with a less opaque black box

        • the other nice thing about creating your own disqus enabled site is that disqus accounts are global, and so are account reps.

          so if an account posts on that site, you can view it in the mod panel to see its rep and other stats.

          here’s what my own account details look like from a mod panel:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/678f8458edbe7a13b38036579a489371a6bd9115c45d7fce1e8119e279516b5b.png

          I went to it through the mod panel for a disqus channel i run called Lipstick Riot.

          and if you were to comment over there i could show you a similar panel for your own account stats.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Wow…

          Greg is a nice guy that very rarely goes side-wards, even when frustration kicks in. He goes to great pains to fill his comments with knowledgeable data that informs. So rarely would give reason for a down vote.

          Now you Bob, well you obviously get down votes just for being Bob the site owner, but that scathing sarcasm that leaves the odd interlocutor lying wide open will result in some down voting.

          As for me, the number of down-votes I receive is likely to break Disqus if they still counted. But then I’m the sorta cunt that would wear that kinda thing as a badge of honour.

        • Greg G.

          But then I’m the sorta cunt that would wear that kinda thing as a badge of honour.

          I apologize. I have been hitting the wrong arrow the past few years.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah frig…do ya think that will have an effect on my chances?

        • Let me know if you want your count of flags/spam.

          Honey Crisis has loads of flags and so is clearly a very bad girl. I hope she sticks around.

        • Ignorant Amos

          By the tone of that comment Bob, you’ve already had a wee look. So aye, go ahead and stick it up for all to see and sure we can all have a giggle.

          As for Honey Crisis being a bad girl. Well, she is no Kodie of course, but in her own domain, she must’ve done enough to piss some folk off enough to bother to down-vote.

        • 17,345 comments, 25 flags, and 2 spam.

          You talk a good story, but you’re just a pussycat like Greg G and me.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fer jaysus sake, is that it? That’s my bubble well and truly burst.

          A might as well go and become a friggin’ monk fer feck sake.

          Wonder what the spam complaints were all about?

        • Greg G.

          Well, at last i have reached double digits.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When someone feels the need to down vote a comment, you know you’ve hit a nerve.

        • downvotes as a metric for anything other than sorting has been retired, if it ever was a thing.

          Maybe it’s like the “door close” button on an elevator. It doesn’t actually do anything, but people like to have it in case they want to press it. It gives them a feeling of empowerment.

        • I added it to Chrome. Cool!

        • Herald Newman

          Well, glad I can provide something here that people enjoy.

        • Greg G.

          Does it identify the bastards who down-voted you?

        • Hmm … now that you bring it up, I have been worried that I don’t have enough paranoia. Thanks!

        • Disqus devs specifically never exposed the list of your detractors. Perhaps there are legal liability issues to feeding the paranoia of the perpetually aggrieved and persecuted.

        • i used to use that plugin, though i thought they changed disqus earlier this year or late last year to where they weren’t even exposing it in the HTML, but it could have been a rumor and i never verified it.

          i haven’t cared enough about downvotes to slow down my browser with a barely used plugin since well before that.

          if it still works, it’s a good little plugin for those that want it.

          i never sort by best anyway, so it doesn’t really matter to me.

        • Herald Newman

          Up and down arrows are still used when you “sort by best.”

        • Greg G.

          I inspected the down arrow on your post and it showed “a.vote-down.count-0”. Then I hit the down arrow and inspected it and saw “a.vote-down.count-0.downvoted”. Then I hit the up arrow and inspected it and it went back to “a.vote-down.count-0”.

        • More precisely stated: you know that you prefer chocolate; therefore, you’re wrong.

        • Paul

          Do you really see no difference between ice cream flavors and morality? I don’t see anyone trying to pass laws and put people in jail for choosing a particular ice cream flavor.

        • Some moral opinions are trivial (“I prefer vanilla”). Some moral opinions have more weight (“I think the Holocaust was wrong”).

          Tough concept for you?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Tough concept for you?

          Yep, he is thick as pig shite and half as useful.

        • Susan

          Can stealing be both right and wrong at the same time? No.

          Why not?

          According to Robin Hood, it was right when he did it and according to the Sheriff of Nottingham, it was right when he did it.

          Which one was right in your opinion?

    • As far as I can tell, yes, there is no objective morality. (You have evidence for it? Show it to us. No one else has been able to.)

      I’m giving my opinion. To encourage others to accept my opinion, I have given an argument. Have I made some error here? You seem to think that I have, but I’m missing it.

      “God” is a figure of literature. I have no choice but to critique his actions—and, according to Christians’ own book, he’s a bastard.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Tom Hanson’s comments are disappearing off the thread for some reason, so here is the one to me cited as being “above”…

    Precisely my point. And from there what I am saying is not at all about Jesus as God, or about miracles, or etc. It is about early Christianity and its rise, and there the evidence is, in general, vast compared to anyone else in ancient history. For instance, there are no original manuscripts of Plutarch, or Suetonius, only nonoriginal copies, some of them farther away timewise from the people they were talking about than some nonoriginal manuscripts of books in the new testament. As far as I know nobody refuses to think that Brutus (the one who knifed Caesar) never lived.
    Historical methodology pretty much demands that:
    A) if you are studying religious history, and the religion had enemies; and
    B) you have no evidence at all that any on e includ ing their enemies ever thought that (in this case Jesus–could have been Mani if we were talking about Manichianism) either Jesus or Mani ever existed, and
    It means that when one finds an assertion that would be a constant embarrassment to its believers and to their spreading growth, then it is probably historically accurate unless you have found evidence to the contrary.
    No such evidence has ever been found, and to say something like “Prove Jesus ever existed, even as a human being” is simple stupidity.

    It means that when one finds an assertion that would be a constant embarrassment to its believers and to their spreading growth, then it is probably historically accurate unless you have found evidence to the contrary.

    A fisk…

    Precisely my point.

    Except it is not precisely your point. That the OT patriarchs were deemed historical figures by the consensus, without much doubt, was generally accepted by the scholarship. That is no longer the case. And Tommy Thompson, who championed OT bible minimalism, was ostracized by the academy. His hypotheses, which was considered fringe, is now the consensus.

    And from there what I am saying is not at all about Jesus as God, or about miracles, or etc.

    Nor am I…Raphael Lataster asserts that the debate should be among non-Christian scholars. Christians have too much bias to be objective. He sets his stall out by investigating two non-believers arguments for the historical Jesus and riddles holes through the two books they produced on the subject.

    http://www.raphaellataster.com/books/

    It is about early Christianity and its rise, and there the evidence is, in general, vast compared to anyone else in ancient history.

    Don’t conflate Christianity’s rise, and the existence of the central figure it is based upon. While the evidence that a Jewish cult began somewhere in the Palestinian Levant about 2 millennia ago is quite substantial, from the beginning of the second century, what is not evident is whether there was a flesh and blood person at its centre. There was a lot more Christianities during the first three centuries than those that joined to become the proto-orthodox, and subsequently, the flavour that became the RCC and the state religion of the empire. They had all sorts of whacky beliefs that were later declared heretical. Including the divine relationship of Jesus and what substance he undertook.

    Bart Ehrman’s “Lost Christianities” delves into the problems.

    The early Christian Church was a chaos of contending beliefs. Some groups of Christians claimed that there was not one God but two or twelve or thirty. [or 365] Some believed that the world had not been created by God but by a lesser, ignorant deity. Certain sects maintained that Jesus was human but not divine, while others said he was divine but not human.

    In Lost Christianities, Bart D. Ehrman offers a fascinating look at these early forms of Christianity and shows how they came to be suppressed, reformed, or forgotten. All of these groups insisted that they upheld the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, and they all possessed writings that bore out their claims, books reputedly produced by Jesus’s own followers. Modern archaeological work has recovered a number of key texts, and as Ehrman shows, these spectacular discoveries reveal religious diversity that says much about the ways in which history gets written by the winners. Ehrman’s discussion ranges from considerations of various “lost scriptures”–including forged gospels supposedly written by Simon Peter, Jesus’s closest disciple, and Judas Thomas, Jesus’s alleged twin brother–to the disparate beliefs of such groups as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the anti-Jewish Marcionites, and various “Gnostic” sects. Ehrman examines in depth the battles that raged between “proto-orthodox Christians”– those who eventually compiled the canonical books of the New Testament and standardized Christian belief–and the groups they denounced as heretics and ultimately overcame.

    Scrupulously researched and lucidly written, Lost Christianities is an eye-opening account of politics, power, and the clash of ideas among Christians in the decades before one group came to see its views prevail.

    If the Jesus story, as we understand it today, was so clear cut at the time, how could so many groups get things so wrong?

    For instance, there are no original manuscripts of Plutarch, or Suetonius, only nonoriginal copies, some of them farther away timewise from the people they were talking about than some nonoriginal manuscripts of books in the new testament.

    You are not comparing like for like. Plutarch and Suetonius were writing histories with their names on them, and even then they made shit up. Plutarch wrote a history of Romulus, c/w biography, very few believe Romulus was an historical figure.

    We have the writings of Joseph Smith from within his lifetime, plus the recorded affidavit’s of a number of folk who witnessed certain things about the source of his writings, but no one outside Mormonism, believes Smith met an angel called Moroni. Mormonism is a religion growing at a rate commensurate to Christianity during it’s first three centuries.

    As far as I know nobody refuses to think that Brutus (the one who knifed Caesar) never lived.

    Why would they? Is there any question on the issue? Is there any contradiction in the historical record as to who he was and what was being claimed about him?

    Historical methodology pretty much demands that:
    A) if you are studying religious history, and the religion had enemies; and

    No one is claiming the religion didn’t have it’s detractors… most of which was internal. Having enemies doesn’t make the central figure have anymore veracity as being historical. When, where, and why did it have enemies is more to the point.

    B) you have no evidence at all that any one including their enemies ever thought that (in this case Jesus–could have been Mani if we were talking about Manichianism) either Jesus or Mani ever existed, and

    That there was a variety of Christians believing all sorts of nonsense about Christianity and who was at it’s centre by the second century, is not in question. Who, what, when, where, and why those beliefs began is the question.

    C) You have lots of information from various manuscripts from the proper periods…

    Which manuscripts are you alluding to here?

    …that the Christian religion believed its founder was historically a man who had been crucified…

    When did the Christian religion start believing he was historically a man and why?

    (in this case who also was a god as Christians insisted,…

    Well first of all, not all Christian sects believed Jesus was a god, not even all those that thought he was a god, thought he was thee God, and not all Christian sects thought he was historically a man. The question is, if it was so obvious at the time, why did these cults believe differently? The thing is, it just wasn’t as clear cut as most folk today like to believe. The Christianity believed in post 4th century is a lot different to that pre-fourth century…and the orthodox only just one the day in the end.

    …in spite of the fact that Helennic culture would and did think that the concept was bizarre and stupid).

    Citation please? They didn’t think it was as bizarre and stupid as you assert. Never heard of the Ptolemaic cult of Alexander?

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

    Check out Dionysus to see what the Hellenist’s believed … https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dionysus

    And anyway, the rulers at the time were Romans and they certainly had no issues with the idea as being bizarre and stupid.

    It means that when one finds an assertion that would be a constant embarrassment to its believers and to their spreading growth, then it is probably historically accurate unless you have found evidence to the contrary.

    Not the Criterion of Embarrassment nonsense.

    https://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/why-the-criterion-of-embarrassment-is-inadequate/

    No such evidence has ever been found, and to say something like “Prove Jesus ever existed, even as a human being” is simple stupidity.

    I’ll accept it as “simple stupidity” when a scholar demonstrates it is, and supports their argument convincingly. That has yet to happen. That they can’t is why I have doubt.
    While on the other hand, those that have been convinced to examine the counter argument are finding it more and more worthy of investigation.

    • Tom Hanson

      So the gist of all this is that you demand positive proof (ie deductively logical proof at its highest level) of historians who must work only with evidence left by about 2000 years of time under rules of inductive logic? That to me is what you are saying here. And THAT, for a historian, not just an ancient historian, but every historian, is plainly an impossibility because a possibility of contrary evidence coming to light is always to be understood. As a practical matter, you are asking them to forget all the positive evidence, (feeble as that might be if you want to feel that way about it), and instead assume that Jesus never existed even as a human being, which would mean the historian has to ignore the evidence that actually is available to him.
      Someone here was hooting that there were indeed Christians, “protoChristians” as Ehrman has it, who did not believe that Jesus was a human being, And indeed such Christians existed, but they thought of Jesus as only a god who happened to seem like a man. They didn’t deny the crucifixion of their god and crucifixion demands either a god who existed or a man who existed, nothing in between. Crucifixion demands a victim, and it’s up to the historian to decide whether these protoChristians were right about Jesus and he was a god, or that they just thought so and the victim was only human. The question about whether there actually was a crucifixion is a different issue.

      • Ignorant Amos

        So the gist of all this is that you demand positive proof (ie deductively logical proof at its highest level) of historians who must work only with evidence left by about 2000 years of time under rules of inductive logic? That to me is what you are saying here. And THAT, for a historian, not just an ancient historian, but every historian, is plainly an impossibility because a possibility of contrary evidence coming to light is always to be understood.

        The evidence is there already. Looking at it all, and from a different perspective is all that is being done. The NT has been viewed historically from the perspective of the later gospels back into the Pauline corpus. Remove the forgeries from the Pauline epistles and investigate what remains without the influence of the gospels and things look differently. Couple that with the Christian apocrypha and the widely diversity of beliefs then things begin to appear differently. Also, the gospel of Mark can be traced back to the ancient writings of it’s day…OT and other classics. Paul says quite clearly that he gets his gospel from the scriptures and visions, not from the lips of any human being.

        How much understanding of the mythicism of Carrier, Price, Docherty, etc., do you have?

        As a practical matter, you are asking them to forget all the positive evidence, (feeble as that might be if you want to feel that way about it), and instead assume that Jesus never existed even as a human being, which would mean the historian has to ignore the evidence that actually is available to him.

        Ah, but that’s not the case at all. It appears that you really aren’t familiar with the mainstream mythicist arguments at all.

        Someone here was hooting that there were indeed Christians, “protoChristians” as Ehrman has it, who did not believe that Jesus was a human being, And indeed such Christians existed, but they thought of Jesus as only a god who happened to seem like a man.

        Nope…not “protoChristians” as Ehrman has it, Ehrman’s term is “proto-orthodox Christianity”. And I wasn’t hooting about those believing anything, my point was all the flavours of the cult that were not the “proto-orthodox”. All the diverse beliefs about Jesus that were to become heretical and be consigned to the historical bin, for the most part. The Christianity that we have today was just one of many during the first three centuries. We view the history of the faith through those tinted glasses. Orthodox Christianity only became orthodox Christianity more by accident than design. Up until it did, the heresies were every bit as popular.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-orthodox_Christianity

        They didn’t deny the crucifixion of their god and crucifixion demands either a god who existed or a man who existed, nothing in between.

        Except some really did. Where did the concept of the crucified Jesus come from? Unless you believe in the power of prophecy, then it was lifted from the pages of the OT, i.e. scriptures, as Paul claims he did.

        Crucifixion demands a victim, and it’s up to the historian to decide whether these protoChristians were right about Jesus and he was a god, or that they just thought so and the victim was only human. The question about whether there actually was a crucifixion is a different issue.

        Whaaa? Seriously? Because no one could make up…or see the idea and use the crucifixion of a coming messiah in the OT? Crucifixion no more demands a human victim as a literary device plot in a story, any more than the myths or plot device created for any other religion or fiction. By that logic, there had to be a flying horse for Mo to ride, and Joe Smith couldn’t have wrote the Book of Mormon with real Golden Tablets.

        I get the feeling here that you are not well versed in the arguments you have undertaken to engage in…what have you read on the topic?

        • Pofarmer

          They didn’t deny the crucifixion of their god and crucifixion demands
          either a god who existed or a man who existed, nothing in between.
          Crucifixion demands a victim, and it’s up to the historian to decide
          whether these protoChristians were right about Jesus and he was a god,
          or that they just thought so and the victim was only human. The
          question about whether there actually was a crucifixion is a different
          issue.

          This is such a stupid argument I winced reading it.

        • Tom Hanson

          I think that when you say that you get the feeling I am not well versed in the arguments I have undertaken to engage in there is a large measure of accuracy in your instinct. But as a person seriously interested in ancient history and historical methodology I have to say I consider this to be a virtue.

          People who say things like this:
          “We view the history of the faith through those tinted glasses. Orthodox Christianity only became orthodox Christianity more by accident than design. Up until it did, the heresies were every bit as popular.”
          are not thinking like historians. To believe that the heresies were every bit as popular through the entire period from (as you say) the earliest beginnings through the 3rd century, you would have to also believe something like the following : that early in the fourth century a hard-bitten political animal of a general like Constantine just happened to choose the orthodox Christians as allies, perhaps by rolling dice or flipping coins. A decent historian thinks about these sorts of things constantly and then looks for evidence about how, say, the orthodox managed to become worthwhile to a Constantine and how and why the heresies lost. They do not switch easily from “It is possible that something happened” to “It actually happened.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think that when you say that you “get the feeling I am not well versed in the arguments I have undertaken to engage in” there is a large measure of accuracy in your instinct.

          I guessed as much when you commented on the Carrier cosmic sperm bank hypothesis. You seemed to be aware of the argument in general, just not the substance, precedence supporting it, evidence for it, why it makes a lot more sense than the alternative that historicity pundits assert, the alternatives that Carrier opines, and why nothing argued that is reasonable, i.e. it’s a theological term, like you also favour, contests the minimal mythicist position that Carrier defends. See On the Historicity of Jesus, Chapter 11.9…or see this more recent OP on Carriers blog…

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13387

          But as a person seriously interested in ancient history and historical methodology I have to say I consider this to be a virtue.

          Well, no harm to you Tom you seem like someone willing enough to admit stuff when there is a problem, but arguing from ignorance is anything but a virtue. How you can say you are interested in ancient history and the historical method, then demonstrate a lack of accurate actual interest in ancient history and show a failure to recognize the real flaws in the historical method and how it is weakly applied to the subject of Jesus study, which is something recognized be actual historians, then claim it as a virtue, is beyond me.

          People who say things like this:

          “We view the history of the faith through those tinted glasses [this sentence I can easily agree with]. Orthodox Christianity only became orthodox Christianity more by accident than design. Up until it did, the heresies were every bit as popular.”

          are not thinking like historians.

          Oh, that’ll be an interesting opinion to put to the historians that have researched and written about this stuff…citing their sources and such in the process. Folk like Bart Ehrman, who still holds on to historicity in spite of the fact that some of his writing supports the mythicist position.

          To believe that the heresies were every bit as popular through the entire period from (as you say) the earliest beginnings through the 3rd century, you would have to also believe something like the following : early in the fourth century a hard-bitten political animal of a general like Constantine just happened to choose the orthodox Christians as allies, perhaps by rolling dice or flipping coins.

          Since you appear decidedly ignorant on Constantine the Greats relationship with, and to, Christianity, I just don’t know where to start with this nonsense.

          For someone who prides himself on being “seriously interested” in ancient history and the historical method, you show a decidedly ignorant approach to both. It’s not “as I say”. I’m a layperson who actually is interested in ancient history and the historical method. It is as the historians who are actually qualified “to say”, and who do the research. It doesn’t seem to be contested by the scholarship in general afaics.

          http://www.bu.edu/religion/files/pdf/Christians-in-the-Roman-Empire-in-the-first-three-centuries-.pdf

          A decent historian thinks about these sorts of things constantly and then looks for evidence about how,…

          Ya don’t say?

          …say, the orthodox managed to become worthwhile to a Constantine and how and why the heresies lost.

          You are not understanding this correctly. There was a wide and diverse collection of Christianities parading about the empire during the first 3 centuries, believing all manner of stuff about the character at the centre of the faith. All believing they were the orthodox faith. The terms “orthodox” and “heterodox” are relevant here in terms of hindsight and the group that eventually won control.

          As for Constantine’s toleration and eventual adoption of Christianity, that, in my opinion, has as much to do with his relationship with an African guy called Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius, as his mother Helena, or anyone else for that matter.

          http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100441370

          But what flavor of Christianity?

          The First Council of Nicaea was convened by Constantine precisely in order to decide which Christianity was to go on to be the orthodox version. Constantine was not an Christian at this point. The term “proto-orthodox” by Ehrman is to define those groups from before 325 CE who would later win the day.

          A quick scope of Wikipedia will give you an outline, I’m surprised that someone with such a stated interest, doesn’t even know the basics.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Role_of_Constantine

          They do not switch easily from “It is possible that something happened” to “It actually happened.”

          Historians deal in “what probably happened”…and “what probably happened” this way or that way, depending on the data available, how it is interpreted and by whom.

          I’m in no way any kind of an authority on any of this, but I appear to be at least the better informed of the two of us. Try and make a valid response based on knowledge, if you have one.

        • Tom Hanson

          A decent historian thinks about these sorts of things constantly and then looks for evidence about how,…

          Ya don’t say?

          …say, the orthodox managed to become worthwhile to a Constantine and how and why the heresies lost.

          Ok For the those who need to have English spoonfed: “say, the Christians [who would become known as orthodox] managed to become worthwhile [as allies] to Constantine and how and why the [people who would come to be known as heretics] lost [= were not as worthwhile to Constantine]. Note that I began with your statement :
          ” Orthodox Christianity only became orthodox Christianity more by accident than design. Up until it did, the heresies were every bit as popular.”
          You say that the “heresies” [this was your word, not mine], I would say future heretics, were every bit as popular. You also say that his conversion to Christianity happened eventually. That has to have happened close to his death if you won’t call a Christian a Christian until baptism. But at that time he could have been a catechumen for an indefinite period, postponing baptism. The question of the edict of toleration comes too late in the timeline to involve THIS question about the early days of his rule. Why was church property restored so quickly to it when he won? Why did he build a massive cathedral in Rome for the Pope so early in his reign (you can see the ruins in the Forum today).
          I say “it” for good reason, because I believe that contrary to your hypothesis, it wasn’t a blind chance toss-up (my description, based on what follows from your idea that the “heresies” were still every bit as popular) when choosing one, nor were there promises to all the other sects; it was a deliberate choice of what would soon be called the “orthodox” Church. Even without a hint of loans, or bribery, Constantine had good reason to choose it rather than the “heresies.” The soon to be orthodox Christians were winning and growing larger against the soon to be heretics, and they had already organized. Ever hear of the papacy? Popes were in place. The future emperor didn’t need to dicker with a lot of scattered Christian leaders. Constantine certainly also had to be thinking ahead about what to do if and when he actually became emperor. If you ally with the pope and that pope heads the majority of Christians already, then there will be less violent opposition for him to deal with. Have you never heard of politics? For a historian this could be a hypothesis.
          You mention Lactantius who came into Constantine’s life(317ad). You are probably wrong about any sort of major impact on Constantine’s thinking. Lactantius had been invited to be tutor to Crispus , Constantine’s son, who had just, or was just about to, be proclaimed a Caesar (at this point one of three officials below the emperor. Lactantius was a famous teacher of rhetoric, And he went to Trier with Crispus, where he died after 3 years(320ad). Your problem is that Constantine spent 317-323ad. waging a war in the Balkans(per OCD on Constantine, on Lactantius Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, vol.2).. Outside of brief visits to Trier to see his son. He may conceivably have had some of Lactantius’s books along, but Lactantius wrote books on rhetoric, as well as Christian books, and nobody knows which or even whether the emperor read a single one.

          As for his mother St. Helena, it’s a good bet. She lived until 330 and that meant the12 year peaceful part toward the end of his reign still left her 6 years of time, much of which may have been with him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You say that the “heresies” [this was your word, not mine], I would say future heretics, were every bit as popular.

          Whatever…semantics aside. According to the research of scholars, what would later become the “heretical” Christianities, those deemed “heretical” to the “proto-orthodox” prior to 325 CE, were as popular in Christendom as those that became “orthodox” Christianities in the centuries prior to the Council of Nicaea. And even after the council, they courted popularity, even from the emperor, though he stood by the councils consensus after the arguments were made.

          You also say that his conversion to Christianity happened eventually.

          Yep…he was still a pagan 5 years after the Battle of the Milvian Bridge where he claimed to have his revelation.

          However, by examining different pieces archaeological evidence, some which are dated to up to five years after AD 312, it can be seen that Constantine still used pagan symbolism well after his reported dreams and visions. For example, on a bronze coin dated to AD 317, the image of Sol Invictus, the Ancient Roman Sun God, is clearly depicted on the inverse side, with the text: “Soli Invicto Comiti”, or “To the invincible Sun god, companion of the Emperor” (Goldsborough, 2008). This shows that, five years after Constantine’s conversion according to Eusebius and Lactantius, Constantine still worshipped, or praised, an ancient Roman pagan god. This would indicate, as Christians are allowed to believe only in the one God, that Constantine did not convert to Christianity straight after the battle of the Milvian Bridge. The assumption that Lactantius and Eusebius were correct in their reports of Constantine’s conversion, therefore can be questioned. It is instead more accurate to say that, although they do not give any substantial evidence to support the hypothesis that Constantine converted to Christianity, they show that it was during this time, around AD 312, that Constantine started to create a positive view of the Christian people and their faith within the eyes of the Roman people.

          Apparently there was no rule that insisted he become Christian overnight. We know pagans held belief in more than one god.

          That has to have happened close to his death if you won’t call a Christian a Christian until baptism.

          Maybe…or maybe the seed was planted when he first came across Lanctantius and his philosophy and it grew from there.

          But at that time he could have been a catechumen for an indefinite period, postponing baptism.

          Possibly

          The question of the edict of toleration comes too late in the timeline to involve THIS question about the early days of his rule. Why was church property restored so quickly to it when he won? Why did he build a massive cathedral in Rome for the Pope so early in his reign (you can see the ruins in the Forum today).

          His softening towards the Christian faith inspired by Lanctantius perhaps?

          I say “it” for good reason, because I believe that contrary to your hypothesis, it wasn’t a blind chance toss-up (my description, based on what follows from your idea that the “heresies” were still every bit as popular) when choosing one, nor were there promises to all the other sects; it was a deliberate choice of what would soon be called the “orthodox” Church.

          I never asserted it was a “blind chance toss-up” and if you were following the argument with any kind of coherence you’d know and understand that to be the case.

          If the idea of what I mean [Ehrman means] by “orthodox”, “proto-orthodox”, and “heretic”, is too difficult to leave it out.

          The problem with the terms “heresy” and “orthodox”, as Ehrman points out, is that they are, on the face of it, subjective. At a time when all the diverse Christian cults believed they were orthodox and everyone else heretical, they are difficult terms to come to grips with, hence the introduction of the term “proto-orthodox” as means to define what was before, that later became “orthodox”, from what was the “heretics” before, and what later became officially the “heretics”. I supplied links…if my English is so poor that you struggle grasp this…read the bloody book.

          When Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, it was for the reason to decide who would become the “orthodox” Christians and whose doctrine would be implemented. If you thing they threw a coin into the air in a chance blind toss of the coin, then so be it, you are being stupid. I would suggest you go read something on the subject.

          When the Council of Nicaea had finished, with some arguing and bickering, a particular set of Christian doctrines became the foundation for what would become the “orthodox” church. Prior to that, they were what Ehrman describes as “proto-orthodox”, the rest were declared officially “heretical”. The reason one lot became the “orthodox” and not “heretical”, is because after all the discussion, Constantine was convinced by the arguments of one side over the other and threw his hat in with those…at that point, they were known as the “orthodox” Christians. Of course that was only the beginning, it was to be a work-in-progress, but up until that point, it was down to the wire on who would win out, who would garner Constantine’s favor, and who would become the basis for what became the official version of Christianity that later became the state religion.

          Even without a hint of loans, or bribery, Constantine had good reason to choose it rather than the “heresies.” The soon to be orthodox Christians were winning and growing larger against the soon to be heretics, and they had already organized.

          The “orthodox” Christians were not a unified group. While it is true that by the time of the 325 CE, many “future heresies” were marginalized, the picture was a lot more complicated than most think. The African churches in Ephesus and Alexandria, were much lager than Rome, and they were the centre of the later “orthodox” Christianity.

          Ever hear of the papacy? Popes were in place.

          I don’t think so. Not popes as understood today anyway. What there was were Bishops of Rome, the first Bishop of Rome with the rank of pope with any clout was Damasus I.

          Silvester I was Bishop of Rome during the Council of Nicaea. Constantine was more interested in getting the fractious Christians together in a power play. The Bishops of Rome were not keen.

          Silvester would have viewed Arianism as a heresy; Constantine himself probably did not understand the complex theological issues in dispute, although he had surrounded himself with many followers of Arius, including Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, his eventual baptizer. Arius’s followers did poorly at Nicaea, and the Nicene Creed that was adopted was squarely against their Christological position. The Arians were “silenced, not persuaded” by the Council, and the controversy in the larger Christian community was not resolved. The Arian position would persist in the East for three generations, and even eventually be adopted by Constantine’s son, Constantius II. Constantine himself supported the Nicene position mainly because it was “his Council” sought a compromise text that would “paper over the differences between the two sides.” Eusebius remained an Arian, although he assured Constantine his views were compatible with his interpretation of the Nicene Creed, and baptized Constantine in 337.

          The future emperor didn’t need to dicker with a lot of scattered Christian leaders.

          Except that he did…hence the Council of Nicaea.

          Constantine certainly also had to be thinking ahead about what to do if and when he actually became emperor. If you ally with the pope and that pope heads the majority of Christians already, then there will be less violent opposition for him to deal with.

          Where the fuck are you pulling this utter shite from?

          The Bishop of Rome, a.k.a. the pope, wasn’t the head of the majority of Christians during the first three centuries. You are retconning the RCC papacy back into history.

          Have you never heard of politics?

          Oh it was politics alright…these things always are…just not the way you are envisioning the set-up.

          For a historian this could be a hypothesis.

          Not one with a brain between their ears.

          You mention Lactantius who came into Constantine’s life(317ad).

          Where do you get that date from?

          Constantius loaned his oldest son Constantine to Diocletian and young Constantine probably arrived at the court in Nicomedia by the age of twenty-one, a Roman officer at least in part by virtue of his famous father. Eusebius reports that he saw Constantine there and that the young soldier accompanied Diocletian on an expedition in CE 296 to put down a rebellion. At the court of that great emperor, probably within a year or two of CE 300, Constantine met Lactantius, the man who would change his life—and the world. There is no extant account of this meeting, but such a meeting must be inferred, as I will show, from the proximity, stations, and later interaction of these two men.

          You are probably wrong about any sort of major impact on Constantine’s thinking.

          I could be wrong, not probably wrong. I engaged online with a guy in Florida many years ago who wrote his dissertation on this issue. Last time I spoke to him, he was trying to get published. He sent his dissertation to me and one of the leading authorities on the subject. The citation above is from his paper and is referenced.

          This is the e-mail that accompanied the paper…

          Here it is. I’m working on getting it published. I didn’t do the hard work on this–it’s not a flash of brilliance. The real credit goes to H. A. Drake and Elizabeth DePalma Digeser of UCSB who reevaluated the dating as you will see. All I did was connect the dots.

          He sent his paper to Digeser and she replied…

          Dear Jerry–
          Well I finally had a few hours to read your paper, and I enjoyed it very much. You clearly read most of the important literature, both modern and ancient, and did a great job of putting your own stamp on the subject. As I said before, I do think–as you do–that Constantine and Lactantius interacted in a significant way during their residence at the Nicomedian court.

          all the best,
          Beth Digeser

          Elizabeth DePalma Digeser
          Professor
          Roman History/Late Antiquity
          Department of History
          University of California
          Santa Barbara, CA 93106 USA
          805 893 2166

          The same Digeser I linked to here…

          http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100441370

          Lactantius had been invited to be tutor to Crispus , Constantine’s son, who had just, or was just about to, be proclaimed a Caesar (at this point one of three officials below the emperor. Lactantius was a famous teacher of rhetoric, And he went to Trier with Crispus, where he died after 3 years(320ad).

          Irrelevant.

          Your problem is that Constantine spent 317-323ad. waging a war in the Balkans(per OCD on Constantine, on Lactantius Encyclopedic Dictionary of Religion, vol.2).. Outside of brief visits to Trier to see his son. He may conceivably have had some of Lactantius’s books along, but Lactantius wrote books on rhetoric, as well as Christian books, and nobody knows which or even whether the emperor read a single one.

          No problem for me. I’m just reading the scholarship.

          http://www.jamesclarke.co/pub/rethinking%20constantine%20ch2.pdf

          As for his mother St. Helena, it’s a good bet. She lived until 330 and that meant the12 year peaceful part toward the end of his reign still left her 6 years of time, much of which may have been with him.

          Irrelevant.

        • Tom Hanson

          Why do you persist in talking about later developments, like the Edict of Milan and the Nicea Council, in Constantine’s career? Why do you ignore the fact that I have been clearly talking against your statement about the future heretics being on a par with the future orthodox up to the end of the third century(thus my sarcasm about flipping coins in one of my earlier replies)? I have also been arguing for the improbability, repeat IMprobability of your idea that orthodox Christianity instead of one of the “heresies,” won out “by accident” in their contests. That statement alone should tell anyone that you are not thinking historically.

          I have mentioned two instances of pretty immediate gains for Christians (quick restoration of church property and the massive basilica Constantine built for the Pope (finished or started I don’t know) while he was still in Rome. That huge basilica is good evidence that Constantine early on in his reign was currying the orthodox and felt that the Pope was a most important figure in Christianity. It is true, as you say, that the Pope then was different from a Pope now, but that bishops in the Middle East asked for papal advice around 100ad and Irenaeus of Lyons in today’s France around 200ad asked the advice of the Pope about whether it would be useful for the right-thinking churches for him (Irenaeus) to write a compendium of what the heretic churches actually believe. These letters indicate a level of organization among the orthodox, and the very expensive basilica early (in his reign, indicates that Constantine considered the proto-orthodox the most important of Christian churches long before his baptism.
          And as for your objection that Helena is irrelevant to the issue, that is entirely true, but I didn’t bring her up. You did, along with Lactantius. Don’t blame me for wasting your time. about it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why do you persist in talking about later developments, like the Edict of Milan and the Nicea Council, in Constantine’s career?

          Well I don’t think I ever mentioned the Edict of Milan and it was you that brought Constantine into the discussion. Since you did, and in reference to his stance on heterodox and orthodox Christianities, the Council of Nicaea is a pivotal point, because it was convened by Constantine in order for the bickering Bishops to decide on what should be the ORTHODOXY, which up until that point all Christianities claimed to be. That Constantine was neither a Christian of any leaning at that juncture, and was of pro the Arian position is important in rebutting your assertion that the proto-orthodox Christianities won hands down and it was because Constantine wanted it that way. That’s just not the case. Even after the matter was settled, it was still far from settled. Arianism was still a threat even after 325 CE and in no small part due to the influence of interfering emperors.

          https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/how-arianism-almost-won

          You’ve already stated that politics was at work and I absolutely agree. The emperors were more about preventing schism than choosing a side.

          Why do you ignore the fact that I have been clearly talking against your statement about the future heretics being on a par with the future orthodox up to the end of the third century(thus my sarcasm about flipping coins in one of my earlier replies)?

          I haven’t, I’m just being dragged down your rabbit holes and it is clear you are ignorant on the subject. Your own sarcasm defeats you. You have provided nothing by way of evidence to counter my position, a position I may add that wasn’t pulled out of my arse, but which is held by scholars on the subject.

          We should avoid calling the Arians opponents of the orthodox position because orthodoxy had yet to be defined.

          The Trinitarian bishops prevailed. Emperor Constantine may have been a Christian at the time (although this is a matter of dispute: Constantine was baptized shortly before he died). Despite this, (it can be argued that*) he had recently made Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire. This made heresy akin to revolt, so Constantine exiled the excommunicated Arius to Illyria (modern Albania).

          Constantine reversed his opinion about the Arian heresy and had both exiled bishops reinstated three years later (in 328). At the same time, Arius was recalled from exile.

          Constantine’s sister and Eusebius worked on the emperor to obtain reinstatement for Arius, and they would have succeeded, if Arius hadn’t suddenly died – by poisoning, probably, or, as some prefer to believe, by divine intervention.

          https://www.thoughtco.com/arian-controversy-and-council-of-nicea-111752

          I have also been arguing for the improbability, repeat IMprobability of your idea that orthodox Christianity instead of one of the “heresies,” won out “by accident” in their contests.

          If you are going to resort to quote-mining to make a point, you are being disingenuous. What I actually said is that it was more by accident, than design. Which is an idiom that means…

          Due more to coincidence or luck than to one’s own skill or planning.

          https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/more+by+accident+than+design

          Which I stand by…Constantine had no way of knowing the outcome of the council, nor do I believe did he give a shit, just as long as the issue got sorted one way or the other…he was fed up with the theological infighting that was becoming problematic… politics remember?

          That statement alone should tell anyone that you are not thinking historically.

          Coming from someone who believes ignorance is a virtue when debating history, and someone who has demonstrated a woefully inadequate knowledge of the subject matter in which he has chosen to engage in, I find the irony in that remark scathing.

          I have mentioned two instances of pretty immediate gains for Christians (quick restoration of church property and the massive basilica Constantine built for the Pope (finished or started I don’t know) while he was still in Rome.

          I don’t care, because it is a non sequitur to your gripe with me about the level of heretical beliefs in the Christian faiths during the first 3 centuries. I have not contended that Constantine did not oppose the groups that became the orthodox church.

          That huge basilica is good evidence that Constantine early on in his reign was currying the orthodox and felt that the Pope was a most important figure in Christianity.

          The former, agreed, the later, not so much. The Bishop of Rome, aka Pope Sylvester the First, may well have been the most important religious man in Rome, but don’t over egg his importance in Christianity overall. Very few folk have ever heard of Sylvester I, while those with an interest, are well up in knowledge in the many other more popular high ranking Christians of the time

          It is true, as you say, that the Pope then was different from a Pope now, but that bishops in the Middle East asked for papal advice around 100ad …

          Citation please? Who were these bishops, where are their letters. If you are referring to Ignatius of Antioch’s letters written while being transported to Rome for trial and execution, well then…

          A key figure in this development was Ignatius of Antioch, a bishop from Asia Minor arrested and brought to Rome to be executed around the year 107. En route he wrote a series of letters to other churches, largely consisting of appeals to them to unite round their bishops. His letter to the Roman church, however, says nothing whatever about bishops, a strong indication that the office had not yet emerged at Rome. Paradoxically, this impression is borne out by a document which has sometimes been thought of as the first papal encyclical. Ten years or so before Ignatius’ arrival in Rome, the Roman church wrote to the church at Corinth, in an attempt to quieten disputes and disorders which had broken out there. The letter is unsigned, but has always been attributed to the Roman presbyter Clement, generally counted in the ancient lists as the third Pope after St Peter. Legends would later accumulate round his name, and he was to be venerated as a martyr, exiled to the Crimea and killed by being tied to an anchor and dropped into the sea. In fact, however, Clement made no claim to write as bishop. His letter was sent in the name of the whole Roman community, he never identifies himself or writes in his own person, and we know nothing at all about him. The letter itself makes no distinction between presbyters and bishops, about which it always speaks in the plural, suggesting that at Corinth as at Rome the church at this time was organised under a group of bishops or presbyters, rather than a single ruling bishop.

          Ya see, in Rome at the time, there were a number of “Bishop’s of Rome”…of a variety of Christian flavours. You are buying into the apostolic succession nonsense.

          To begin with, indeed, there was no ‘pope’, no bishop as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter, or bishop. By the end of the first century the loose pattern of Christian authority of the first generation of believers was giving way in many places to the more organised rule of a single bishop for each city, supported by a college of elders. This development was at least in part a response to the wildfire spread of false teaching — heresy. As conflicting teachers arose, each claiming to speak for ‘true’ Christianity, a tighter and more hierarchic structure developed, and came to seem essential to the preservation of unity and truth. The succession of a single line of bishops, handing on the teaching of the Apostles like a baton in a relay race, provided a pedigree for authentic Christian truth, and a concrete focus for unity.

          …and Irenaeus of Lyons in today’s France around 200ad asked the advice of the Pope about whether it would be useful for the right-thinking churches for him (Irenaeus) to write a compendium of what the heretic churches actually believe.

          Right…Iraenaeus was writing to a particular faction of Christianity…the one he followed….the one he believed to be orthodox, which was really the proto-orthodox., but just happened to be the one that really did become orthodox. That you acknowledge that those of differing Christian belief’s, the heretic churches according to Iraeneus’ position, was a real problem during the 2nd/3rd century, only supports my position.

          These letters indicate a level of organization among the orthodox,…

          No they don’t. They indicate that the Christian group that the letters were written to existed. In just the same way Paul’s letters do, and the letters that anyone write to a recipient might…though there are famous exceptions…that they indicate a level of organisation on the scale you infer is twaddle.

          See James Duffy’s book, “Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes”…extracts of which I’ve cited in this comment.

          https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/first/d/duffy-saints.html

          Duffy can hardly be considered bias on his account of the history.

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

          …and the very expensive basilica early (in his reign, indicates that Constantine considered the proto-orthodox the most important of Christian churches long before his baptism.

          No it really doesn’t. You are retconning again.

          First of all, the Basilica was started by Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius Augustus in 308 CE. It was completed by Constantine after Maxentius was defeated at the Battle of the Milivian bridge. It’s purpose was never to be a Christian place of worship. So strike one.

          Second of all, Basillica’s were not even just places of worship.

          In ancient Rome a basilica was a rectangular building with a large central open space, and often a raised apse at the far end from the entrance. Basilicas served a variety of functions, including a combination of a court-house, council chamber and meeting hall. There might be, however, numerous statues of the gods displayed in niches set into the walls. Under Constantine and his successors this type of building was chosen as the basis for the design of the larger places of Christian worship, presumably as the basilica form had fewer pagan associations than those of the designs of traditional Greco-Roman temples, and allowed large congregations. As a result of the building programmes of the Christian Roman emperors the term basilica later became largely synonymous with a large church or cathedral.

          So claiming Constantine spent a fortune on a Christian church at the time, is pure nonsense. That’s strike two.

          Last of all, you are presuming that Constantine completed the Basilica for a particular flavour of proto-orthodox Christianity…or any Christianity for that matter, that is just not evident and is telling of your desperation here. That’s a third strike.

          http://www.romeacrosseurope.com/?p=4068#sthash.hCez7Rty.dpbs

          The archbasilica known as the Lateran Palace was not built by Constantine to be a church either, though that was given to a proto-orthodox pope, possibly in 313 CE, but in order to facilitate a synod of bishops to challenge the Donatist schism…a soon to become heresy.

          And as for your objection that Helena is irrelevant to the issue, that is entirely true, but I didn’t bring her up. You did, along with Lactantius. Don’t blame me for wasting your time. about it.

          If you could improve your reading for comprehension skills it would help. let me try again…

          “As for Constantine’s toleration and eventual adoption of Christianity, that, in my opinion, has as much to do with his relationship with an African guy called Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius, as his mother Helena, or anyone else for that matter.

          This was in direct response to you bringing Constantine into the conversation and his relationship to the proto-orthodox Christians of the 4th century. Christian’s cite his relationship with his mother as the biggest influence on his eventual conversion, I was voicing a supported opinion, that the journey on the road to conversion began much earlier, with his interaction with a not proto-orthodox Christian of the heretical Arian bent.

          Constantine is your red herring.

          None of any of this is relevant to my initial assertion that there were widely held mythicist beliefs during the first 3 centuries of the Christian faiths and that the orthodox faith that eventually won the day, did so more by accident than design. This is not an extreme view, it is an accepted position by scholars…even Christians. You have done nothing so far to refute my position, which is based on the work of historians.

      • Greg G.

        So the gist of all this is that you demand positive proof (ie deductively logical proof at its highest level) of historians who must work only with evidence left by about 2000 years of time under rules of inductive logic?

        Not at all. The best evidence for Jesus is better evidence that he was invented. The extra-biblical accounts are too late to be useful and appear to be derived from the gospels. So they are not useful evidence of historicity.

        Scholars who are not Jesus mythicists have independently identified the writings that were used by aMark. They all make a good case but when they are combined, nearly all of gMark can be accounted for and aMark’s method becomes apparent. His recipe would use a story from a piece of literature of the day, insert Jesus, dress it with OT quotes and allusions and put it into a chiastic form. Only the sayings from the end of chapter 3 to near the end of chapter 4 are not accounted for unless they were drawn from an early form of the Gospel of Thomas.

        The other three gospels have these creations from gMark so we cannot take them as evidence for Jesus. Some of their sources can be identified as well and those sources are not about Jesus, either, so they are more evidence that the first century Jesus story was made up.

        That leaves the epistles which don’t refer to Jesus as a first century teacher/preacher. 1 Timothy and 2 Peter are accepted by most NT scholars to be late forgeries. 1 Timothy discusses Jesus before Pontius Pilate , which is in all four gospels but Luke is the only gospel that has Pilate’s first name. 2 Peter 1:16-18 shows that people thought the story was a myth even then but then uses Matthew’s version of a clear myth to try to refute the accusation.

        Every other piece of about Jesus in the epistles, past, present, and future, appear to be derived from the already centuries old Hebrew scriptures. Paul states clearly that he didn’t get his ideas from human sources and claims it comes from the writings of the prophets. He even takes some writings as being from the Lord.

        Josephus tells us that the Jewish rebels undertook the war with Rome because of a perceived prophecy that the Messiah would come. He tells us that held out in the Jerusalem siege in hopes that the Messiah would come at the last minute. Paul also expected the Messiah to come during his lifetime as he always used the first person plural for the living when the Messiah came and the third pers for the already dead. Ephesians 3 seems to explain the thinking at the time about the “mystery hidden for ages”. Verse 5 says it was hidden to former generations but was revealed to that generation, which may explain why Paul and the Jewish rebels expected the Messiah to come during their lifetimes.

        So it seems to have a popular idea in the middle of the first century that the Messiah was coming due to OT prophecy that was “revealed” to them. Some others began to read the scriptures about the Suffering Servant being another mystery revealed to them, who died for sins, was buried, and raised on the third day according to the scriptures (Isaiah 53:5-12 and Hosea 6:2)

        They didn’t deny the crucifixion of their god and crucifixion demands either a god who existed or a man who existed, nothing in between.

        Well, some did deny the crucifixion as seen in Galatians 3 where Paul had to explain it to them again through OT scriptures instead of just telling them to ask James and Peter about it. Before you read Galatians, calibrate your sarcasm detector with:

        Galatians 5:11-12
        11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

        Also compare the first verse to the first verse of other Pauline epistles to see what is added. All through Galatians, Paul is railing against the circumcision faction, from saying he didn’t learn from them to them rejecting the crucifixion.

        Galatians 6:12
        12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised — only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

        Paul is sarcastic toward the circumcisors, identified as the James cult. There is no reason to think the rhetorical question in Galatians 3:1 about who has bewitched the Galatians is anyone but James or someone sent by James, and that person convinced many Galatians that Jesus was not crucified.

        The Epistle of James has many indications of being a response to Galatians. Romans and 1 Corinthians have evidence of responses to eJames.

        • Tom Hanson

          Some of this makes a certain amount of sense as you put it, not enough to trip me over, but well worth thinking about. Saul-Paul’s mention of crucifixion in Galations, which I had completely forgotten, puts crucifixion as being in Christian thinking well before I would have put the first evidence of crucifixion mention. Some of this stuff can swing the bat both ways depending on the reader’s perspective.

          Actually, though, I believe that if I were to change my thinking, it would be toward Robert Eisenman’s position about James the brother of Jesus as the first major Christian leader. That certainly demands that Jesus did exist but has the advantage of some very believable answers about what caused the downfall of the original Jewish Christian communities and how it was that Pauline Christianity won.

          Have you read Eisenman’s “biography” James The Brother Of Jesus? It is long but he generally writes well. Though there are spots where you have to just take his word about philological issues in Aramaic, unless you happen to be an Aramaic scholar. AND he has a truly unique claim to fame.
          I am not talking about his being one of the courageous scholars who “stole” copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls and opened the photo copies to scholars across the world. For that he is certainly one of my heroes.

          But he manages to anger both today’s Christians, all of them, by arguing that the survivors of Christianity under Paul were wimps not willing to die with the more zealous Jamesian Church of Jewish Christians who died with the rebels in the fall of Jerusalem under Titus. He does that by identifying the man called St James with the rebellious James assassinated just before the war (see Josephus). At the same time, doing that he managed to infuriate Jewish people by making Jewish Christians heroic leaders in that conflict. Israel tends to think of that ancient rebellion as belonging to Jews alone. Hence I call him a firebrand.

          I did get suspicious, though, when someone like Paul started showing up as being friends with all sorts of important people in the Middle East and in Rome. So I went to my old OCD (older than the 1996 edition edited by Hornblower & and Spawforth ) and under Epaphroditus, Nero’s secretary etc. After the one sentence bio came the warning “almost certainly not to be confused with St. Paul’s Epaphroditus.” The earlier OCD, which was minimalist to a fault in order to deal with almost everybody and everything Classic, had at least a handful of Epaphroditi.

          The 1996 edition which I brought along with Eisenman’s book to Thailand gave more space to people they judged more worthy of note, and now carries only two Epaphroditi, Nero’s and another with no mention of Paul’s. Eisenman’s book was first published in 1997. No footnote, no argument, just Nero’s secretary being treated as one of Paul’s friends.

          The reason I can be sure of the “not to be confused” bit is that I was thinking about writing a review of the book and my copy which did move with me is loaded with margins full of query marks and notes but not enough, because there are far too many problems just in source notes alone. Eisenman had to be careless himself, as careless as I am in blogs, or perhaps just bad at choosing graduate students for research assistants. Or both.

        • Greg G.

          Actually, though, I believe that if I were to change my thinking, it would be toward Robert Eisenman’s position about James the brother of Jesus as the first major Christian leader. That certainly demands that Jesus did exist but has the advantage of some very believable answers about what caused the downfall of the original Jewish Christian communities and how it was that Pauline Christianity won.
          Have you read his “biography” James The Brother Of Jesus? It is long but he generally writes well, although there are spots where you have to just take his word about philological issues in Aramaic, unless you happen to be an Aramaic scholar. AND he has a truly unique claim to fame.

          I am familiar with Eisenman. I have read many excerpts of his writings but I haven’t read any full books.

          I am not talking about his being one of the courageous scholars who “stole” copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls and opened the photo copies to scholars across the world. For that he is certainly one of my heroes. But he manages to anger both today’s Christians, all of them, by arguing that the survivors of Christianity under Paul were wimps not willing to die with the more zealous Jamesian Church of Jewish Christians who died with the rebels in the fall of Jerusalem under Titus. He does it by identifying the man called St James with the rebellious James assassinated just before the war (see Josephus). Doing that infuriated Jewish people by making Jewish Christians heroic leaders in that conflict. Hence I call him a firebrand.

          Wow. This idea has been floating around in my head for a couple of years. Recently, I decided to read Jewish Wars to see if I could dispel it from my mind but the exercise had more of a confirmation effect. I have never tried to articulate the idea but this might spur me to do so.

          A while ago, I checked every instance where the root “adelph-” was used in the New Testament. In the gospels, it was about half and half between literal siblings and religious comrades. But in the epistles, there were 196 instances and 191 were clearly in the sense of religious comrades. One was to a literal sister sibling in Romans 16:15 and two were in the sibling sense but fictional in 1 John 3:12 regarding Cain and Abel.

          That leaves Galatians 1:18 and 1 Corinthians 9:5, the “brother of the Lord” verses. I think Paul uses it in the sibling sense but sarcastically. Remember Galatians 5:11-12 where he wished the circumcisers would castrate themselves. I Galatians 1:1 he inserts into his normal greeting that he is not ordered around by human authority where his normal greeting says he sent by the Lord. In Galatians 1:11-12, he points out he does not get his info from human authority. In Galatians 2:11-12, he mentions that James sends people to other places. In Galatians 2:6, he shows disdain for the position of the “pillars” who are identified three verses later as James, Cephas, and John. Paul is saying that James is so high and mighty that he must be at the level of the Lord, as if he is a brother of the Lord.

          In 1 Corinthians 9, it seems that someone is questioning whether Paul should be receiving financial support from the Corinthians. He points out tha he doesn’t travel with a wife like some others do. He calls some of them “brothers of the Lord”. Three verses later, Paul rhetorically asks, “Do I say this on human authority?” Which implies that the others do as he then start to cite OT passages about a worker deserving pay.

          Also, I think the mention in Jewish Antiquities about “James, the brother of Jesus, the one who called Christ” has some interpolation. Origen writes of this passage many times but he seems to get that James was the brother of Christ from Galatians, not from Josephus. For example:

          Origen, On Matthew 10:17
          But James is this one whom Paul says that he saw in the epistle to the Galatians, saying: But I did not see any of the other apostles except James the brother of the Lord.

          Nowhere does Origen say that both Paul and Josephus refer to James and the Lord’s brother even though he uses Josephus as evidence for Jesus in Contra Celsus. So I count that as an additional interpolation by Eusebius.

          But I get suspicious when someone like Paul starts showing up as being friends with all sorts of important people in the Middle East and in Rome. So I went to my old OCD (older than the 1996 edition edited by Hornblower & and Spawforth ) and under Epaphroditus , Nero’s secretary etc. after a one sentence bio came the warning “almost certainly not to be confused with St. Paul’s Epaphroditus. The earlier OCD, which was minimalist to a fault in order to deal with almost everybody and everything Classic, had at least a handful of Epaphroditi. The 1996 edition which I brought along with Eisenman’s book to Thailand gave more space to people they judged more worthy of note, and now carries only two Epaphroditi, Nero’s and another with no mention of Paul’s. Eisenman’s book was first published in 1997. No footnote, no argument, just Nero’s secretary being treated as one of Paul’s friends.

          That is why they usually use “son of” or geographical references for names. Would Nero’s secretary travel to Philippi? Would he then have time to locate a specific church to deliver correspondence?

          May I ask what brings you to Thailand? I have considered moving to Vietnam when I retire.

        • Tom Hanson

          I will be glad to talk about Thailand. My wife and I
          retired here very much for financial reasons, though we would have
          preferred Italy. Then along came the 2008 crash, in which we
          lost comparatively little, having a good, very conservative, financial adviser.
          Watching what happened though, made us rethink Italy which for Americans is very
          expensive.

          My wife
          is disabled and has other health issues, and looking into medical care we discovered
          that it is world class in important ways and that Chiang Mai’s Sri Paht
          Hospital is the second
          best in the country. That is where we live, and the important medical stuff is
          very, very good. Minor things are not
          that good. Wheel chair pushers are not
          very well trained, for instance, and you would need to find an ambulance phone
          # and make sure it is on all your phones because there is no equivalent of 911,
          which is minor until you need one. Summers
          here are cooler than in Phoenix, where we lived
          for 35 years, at least, and almost always cooler than Bangkok.
          Thais are almost always friendly and helpful. It’s a college town with at least 2 major
          universities, and at least 25000 English speaking expats and a very good expat
          club with lots of resources for people who are just settling in.

          I’d like to thank you again for your organized screed
          explaining what the blog is about.

          If I understand you properly, as a person who could actually
          think about Eisenman’s major thesis without knowing his book, you really should
          read it if it’s been stuck in your mind that long. I don’t know whether it has been reprinted but
          you should be able to find a paperback used at Amazon. I don’t know anything
          about your background, but you certainly have good scholarly instincts (picking
          through “adelph” AND following it up with Galatians and Corinthians), but
          please don’t ask me to remember chapters and verses. I’m from a Catholic background, not fundy.

          I will be happy to answer more questions about Thailand.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks you very much for that information. There are many things I hadn’t considered like the lack of 911 and the importance of getting emergency phone numbers together. Back when we used phone books, emergency numbers were on the cover.

          My wife is Vietnamese so travel there is easy. We have many old and new friends there who can help her with what has changed since she left. She insists on holding the money because she can get better prices than I can. But sometimes she will travel with a temple group of women for a few days and leave me to my own devices.

          We visited Hue and Hoi An in 2011 so we drove through Da Nang a couple of times. I noticed a lot of fences put up by construction companies but couldn’t see any construction going on. We drove down the same road about five years later and there were lots of new hotels. Seeing Da Nang in the day, it seemed to be cleaner than other cities but, at night, it was amazing. I had been to the Old Quarter of Hanoi, which gave me the impression that it was a 19th century city, Saigon was a 20th century city, and Da Nang was a 21st century city. But this year, I see that there is lots of construction going on in Saigon, with many tall towers. I read that they are talking about upgrading the airport. So I think they are going to make it very foreigner friendly. But will that make it less economically attractive for someone who would like to live like a king on a pension?

          I do recall reading something that was probably a review of that book by Eisenman. As I recall, the review said the author did an amazing job of straitening out all of the different and confusing Jameses in the ancient literature. That was before I started taking a look at the New Testament after losing my religion. Now I think there was only one James, the one referred to in Galatians, who replied to Galatians in the Epistle of James. The James mentioned in the gospels is based on that James. The Epistle of James is rated as the best Greek in the NT so he was probably not a fisherman. Mark exaggerated the disdain Paul showed them in Galatians 2:9 and made the three mentioned in that verse Jesus’ three main sidekicks, that is, James, John, and Peter (Cephas). The disciples are identified in Mark 3 but seven of them are never mentioned again. Andrew is mentioned one other time and Judas Iscariot plays a major role.

          There is a James, son of Sosas, mentioned a few times in Jewish Wars and a James in Josephus’ biography who was Josephus’ guard when he was captured by some of the rebels. Those were not the author of the epistle but the James in Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1 may have been. I wonder who the “few others” who were delivered to stoning with James. It makes the story more interesting if that James is the epistle writer but there isn’t a strong connection besides that.

          I will look into the Eisenman book on James, probably with my next Amazon order. I won’t have to accumulate so many items to get free shipping.

          I skipped a chance to go to Thailand this year with my brother-in-law ans his wife. A friend arranged her visit back to her homeland to overlap with ours and that would have cut into our visit with her.

        • Tom Hanson

          If you think of more questions ref Thailand and retirement I’ll be happy to help. I hope you enjoy the book. I found it fascinating, which means I slow down and make notes. It’s probably a valid argument, but for me not thoroughly cogent.

        • Greg G.

          I’d like to thank you again for your organized screed
          explaining what the blog is about.

          Actually, it isn’t what the blog is about. Bob takes no position on the issue. It is just some of the regular commenters who are convinced that Jesus is a myth and the gospels are fiction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is just some of the regular commenters who are convinced that Jesus is could be a myth and the gospels are definitely fiction.

          Fixed that to better describe my position.

        • Greg G.

          Another thing, do you know why the name is translated as “James” instead of “Jacob”? I wondered if it was to flatter King James but it seems to have been that way in earlier translations, IIRC.

        • Tom Hanson

          It would have to be through one of the Latinate languages ala Jaime in Spanish. How it went from Hebrew or Aramaic through either Greek or Latin no idea, but I think I can figure it out.

        • Tom Hanson

          Original : Hebrew : Iacob
          Greek : Iakob ( o= long o as in the word go
          Biblical Latin: Iacob= around the end of the 5th century a.d.
          Late Latin: iacomo early medieval, thus Giacomo = James in Italian
          French kept to the “k” sound: Jacques
          Spanish to Jaime
          English became James but kept to the hard “k” sound for feminine names as in Jacqueline, which of course was actually stolen from French. That is the best I can do for you If you need more you will have to find a philologist to tell you why the sounds changed in the ways that they did between the different languages. I’ve only had one course in philology, just enough to understand what a philologist means in an argument, but not enough to actually argue against or for anybody.

  • Ficino

    @ Ignorant Amos and Greg G: thank you for reposting Tom Hanson’s earlier comments. They did not appear on this thread when I replied to him several times recently.

    Nothing in TH’s comments now reposted, however, corroborates that there was doubt about Pontius Pilate’s existence on the part of any trained scholar. Hanson’s claims that Pilate’s existence “was doubted” etc. amount to nothing substantial now that they collapse into unquoted statements attributed to unnamed freethinkers in Minnesota of decades ago.

    I surmise that Hanson wanted to make a point something like, “the skeptics deny the truth of the Bible, but archaeology keeps confirming the Bible’s truth. The skeptics denied that Pilate existed, and then we got an amazing find of an inscription that proves the Bible true! The skeptics can’t keep up with the incredible evidence for the Bible!”

    I am inflating the tone for rhetorical effect, but I am guessing that Hanson’s aim was to make a point something like this. Fail. Announcing that the Bible got something right, when the item was not doubted by any responsible scholar, does not demonstrate anything of interest.

    • Greg G.

      I have seen Christians make the claim that people doubted that Pilate existed until the Pilate Stone was discovered. I have tried to trace the claim a handful of times but could never find any such claim except on apologist websites and they never, ever had a reference to someone who actually claimed it. Tom seems intelligent and knowledgeable so I thought I might get a reference from him. He just punted it back a century.

      • Pofarmer

        I did quite a lot of Google searching of this once, and it seems that I found a reference to it in an apologetic book, and that’s all I could find, even in print.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’m pretty sure Josephus mentions Pilate, so to think historians doubted his existence sounds dubious at best and, knowing how apologists work, more likely dishonest.

        • Pofarmer

          Dishonest apologists you say? The hell you say?

          I once tried to read Mathew Kelly, who is the new darling “Evangelical Catholic”(combining the shitty things about two faith groups, who knew?). In the very first Chapter in whatever book it was he made the logical fallacy of Appeal to Revelation, which Hume and Paine demolished in the frickin 18th Century. So, I said, “There’s strike one” and flipped randomly to the middle of the book, and happened to hit on the chapter “Evidence for Jesus”. He starts talking about a Stone Tablet( I can’t remember the name) that remarked about all of Jesus Great qualities an his excellent health, etc, etc. So I researched it, and the thing has been a known hoax for literally hundreds of years. So I didn’t read any more. Why would you read someone who will openly lie to you?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Just looking I found this:

          “For
          an otherwise obscure governor of a minor province with a small
          military command Pontius Pilate is remarkably well attested in
          the ancient sources. In addition to the inscription bearing
          his name and title as “Prefect of Judaea” discovered at
          Caesarea Maritima in 1961, he is referred to in the written sources
          by Tacitus, Philo, Josephus, the four gospels and the Acts of the
          Apostles.”

          And that seems to come from a Christian apologist. How the idea came about that Pilate’s existence was doubted seems to be the same as how your Kelly guy did it with his stone tablet. A Christian lies. Another Christian is too lazy to check and repeats the lie.

        • Greg G.

          Josephus mentions Pilate in Jewish Wars and Jewish Antiquities. I have presented evidence that Mark used Jewish Wars as a source where he is only referred to as Pilate. So the rest of the NT references probably came from Mark except for Luke 3:1 which gives his first name. Luke appears to have used Jewish Antiquities a lot and his first given there.

          Tacitus apparently was not using ancient records for that passage. He uses the full name of Pilate but gets his office wrong. Josephus tells us that Claudius changed the position in Judea to procurator a decade after Pilate was gone.

        • Greg G.

          Hanson retracted that any scholars thought that within his lifetime but punted to a century earlier when scholars suspected interpolation. He didn’t provide an example though. But he is not completely against admitting when he was wrong.

  • If you find a comment you want to refer to (if you don’t see it, keep clicking the Load More Comments button at the bottom–that brings in 50 more at a time), click on the time marker (“10 hours ago” or whatever). That will change the yellow marker and update the URL at the top. Then copy that URL–you can give that to someone else so they can find that comment.

    • ildi

      Thanks – I always wondered how that was done!

      • Greg G.

        Eventually your browser may become sluggish when you get a lot of comments.

    • Greg G.

      IA couldn’t find it either so he included it in his reply. I think it was one that disappeared.

    • Greg G.

      I wonder if Disqus is suspicious that Tom is posting from Thailand.

      I had trouble getting Disqus to work as residences when I was in Vietnam, though Patheos worked. It was a different issue. I couldn’t see any comments, let alone reply, though I got the notification in my email.

      • Tom Hanson

        May I ask whether your stay in Vietnam was recent enough for Windows10? I am still using Windows 7 which is no longer supported by Microsoft and is becoming obsolete. If you were on Windows 10 your problem was worse than mine. If you were running Windows 7 then buying a Windows10 might help. For me it’s only frustrating as hell, because some of my stuff this weekend disappeared, showed up again and then disappeared again. But patience is in order. I know from experience working at a big firm in the Gannett Corp how difficult it is even for really capable IT departments to make all types of browsers work properly with one existing system. Customers freak out. Techs on this sort of thing have nothing but sympathy from me.
        By the way, my interest in this part of the discussion is not religious at all. It is historical. My interest is ancient history, largely ancient Latin and ancient Greek. And my interest in ancient history is largely in the changeover from paganity to Christianity. I can understand the confusion, but in some ways it really is fun for a man who has read all of Ingersoll and all the available works of Bran and who always buys a flower for Giordano Bruno in the Campo Fiore when I’m there.

        • Greg G.

          I was there in January and early February. It was on a new lap top using Windows 10 and my Android phone. I didn’t carry the computer in oublic so it was always on a personal wifi. The Andoid had the same issue but not on most businesses so I drank coffee at Starbucks or Phuc Long when I wanted post. I would get an email notification, write up a reply rhen email it to myself so I could download it to the phone so I could post over coffee.

          We took a side trip to Melbourne and Sydney with only the phone and had no problems in Australia.

          I had the same problem on an earlier trip in 2015. It was always the network I was on.

        • Tom Hanson

          Thanks much. That’s useful information and I should now, before spending good baht, try my Window’s 7 through Firefox and see what happens. Thanks again.

        • Greg G.

          I think maybe there is one internet for citizens and one for tourists.

  • Pofarmer

    So did Hercules go to the Underworld and Return? Did Romulus really fund Rome?

  • Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.

    Whatever. I prefer to live knowing I’ll have just this life and enjoying it as best as I can while attempting to leave behind something enjoyable and a good impresion for those who will follow me once I leave this mortal coil. It’s much more preferable than to live being kind just hoping for a reward in the afterlife that may not come (and not just because things there can be very different).

    • > Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.

      The person that said that doesn’t realize that the word he or she intended to use was “nihilism” not “atheism”

      But I don’t think they really care about the meaning of words. Words are there to be twisted by liars, amirite? /s

      • Michael Neville

        There are many Christians, Jews, Muslims and other theists who think that atheist and nihilist are synonyms. I’m not making that up. I’ve run into a fair number of Christians who are convinced that Jesus is the only thing that gives any meaning to life. They cannot understand that family, friends, hobbies, work and other ungoddish interests can make life meaningful.

        • I didn’t say their weren’t. Looks like you don’t even need to read me, because you’ve already developed a rich set of fanfic about my positions.

          i don’t like reading fanfic written about me though. So you’re blocked

        • Michael Neville

          The only reason I know that you blocked me is that posts from blocked commentators appear in the notifications. I blocked your hypocritical dumb ass last night.

      • Ignorant Amos

        The person that said that doesn’t realize that the word he or she intended to use was “nihilism” not “atheism”

        And yet there are people, Christian people, who say just that very thing.

        As for nihilism … how is nihilism inconsistent with atheism? Atheism, in the end, suggests that humans are a product of matter + time + chance.

        https://disqus.com/home/discussion/progressivesecularhumanist/christians_claim_atheist_anthony_bourdain_is_burning_in_hell/#comment-3949577796

        Now there are atheists that are nihilists, or to be more precise, a versions of nihilism, but the words are not the synonyms like a lot of believers believe.

        But I don’t think they really care about the meaning of words. Words are there to be twisted by liars, amirite? /s

        Sarcasm aside. Yep…you are spot on rite.

        Not just twisting words, but quote mining and even inventing stuff and ascribing it to folk that never uttered the words declared.

        From the same discussion at the link above, a quote inferred to be by Bertrand Russell that he never made…

        Read Bertrand Russell on purpose (spoiler alert, he says that there is none without God).

        The full quote… “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”…a lie propagated by a Christian apologist and oft repeated, who’d have thought it?

        • i stopped reading after your response to the first sentence of mine you quoted.

          because you didn’t even understand that i was referring to the christians who say that stuff in the first place.

          And if you’re going to put 3 times as much effort into writing a response as you did in understanding what i wrote first, i don’t think there’s a discussion to be had here, because I’m not your sounding board.

          Thanks for your input, even the 2/3 i didn’t read.

        • Ignorant Amos

          because you didn’t even understand that i was referring to the christians who say that stuff in the first place.

          You are a special kind of stupid. I was being sarcastic and you don’t even see the irony in your complaining about generalising, then go do exactly that. Ya dopey Dime Bar.

          i stopped reading after your response to the first sentence of mine you quoted.

          I could give zero fucks. When I respond to the average arsehole it is usually for the benefit of the regulars and lurkers. You are a special kind of arsehole, so it’s definitely for the regulars and lurkers.

          And if you’re going to put 3 times as much effort into writing a response as you did in understanding what i wrote first, i don’t think there’s a discussion to be had here, because I’m not your sounding board.

          No effort required to refute the ballix that you spew. So don’t worry about wasted effort on my part. As for discussion, you’ve already demonstrated you level of capability, and it isn’t very stellar at all.

    • I’d agree with your sentiment, if you were willing to qualify it a little.

      I love God, but not because it gives me purpose.

      So while your characterization is accurate to degrees, it’s by no means universal.

      You’re leaving a lot of mystics out in the cold, for example.

      • Michael Neville

        There are spiritualists, deists and even some theists who don’t believe in an afterlife. However this is an atheist blog which mainly considers Christianity. The vast majority of atheists do not believe in afterlives and almost without exception Christians do so believe. Hedging statements like Christians are Trinitarians (except for Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Le Luz del Mondo, Oneness Pentecostals and some other, smaller sects, oh yes, and the Mormons if you think they are Christians) is unwieldy and adds little to the discussion.

        • it’s still weird reading statements like that as someone who practices a form of abrahamic mysticism.

          and it’s hard to ignore when you’re part of a minority category that is being included by omission through lack of qualification.

          it’s similar to you know, me being trans, i find the majority view on sex and gender to be downright reductive, and doesn’t include trans people. so what if you’re only 1% of the population. do you still matter? does your exceptional stance matter, or should you just shut up?

          same issue either way.

          it doesn’t matter what most people believe anyway.

          generalizations are risky gambits.

          a lot people in the comments section of patheos don’t seem to think so though.

        • Michael Neville

          If it gives you pleasure to precisely and scrupulously qualify all of your statements then by all means do so. You have my blessing. Just don’t expect that others have the same interest in meticulous, conscientious, fussy exactitude that appears is important to you.

        • that’s not what i said at all. I’ll speak more plainly for you.

          Generalizations are a risky gambit.

          And you should expect that people that fall outside of those generalizations may have something to say about it, because that’s life.

        • Michael Neville

          Qualifying statements in a generally vain effort to cover all aspects of minutiae is obviously important to you. Hurray for you. Others do not share this obsession. If it becomes necessary to go into detail for an argument then we’ll do so. But, considering my example above, if I’m talking to a Christian then I’ll assume that they’re a Trinitarian. Other than Mormons, I’ve had exactly one Christian tell me they weren’t a Trinitarian in all the years I’ve spent discussing atheism on the internet.

          EDIT Mormons do believe in Father, Son and Holy Ghost but they don’t do the “three persons in one god” schtick. Instead these are three separate gods, with the Father being literally the father of the other two (who the mother or mothers might be is not given).

        • or it can be a way to bring open exploration and nuance to your positions.

          generalization is only one step removed from binary thinking.

          you’re basically arguing for tribal identity politics here.

        • Michael Neville

          No, I’m basically arguing that fastidious, fincky detail is unnecessary in internet posts which usually consist of one or two paragraphs. If I’m writing a long exposition then I’ll go into the minor aspects of a topic. If I’m making a general statement then, oddly enough, I’ll generalize. Sorry about that. As you said previously, that’s life.

        • well i guess we have a different metric on how much generalization represents too much.

          I could have made your comment both briefer, and more accurate, and still reflected what it said.

          That’s the test I base my opinion with respect to the above on.

          And we may have to simply agree to disagree on the value of that test, because that’s life.

        • Michael Neville

          As I said before, if precise, scrupulous, nit-picky exactitude gives you pleasure than go for it. You’re obviously quite young and inexperienced with the way people discuss things or else you’d know that your obsession with painstaking, thorough, trivial points is rare.

        • see my last response. It’s equally applicable since you just repeated yourself and i’ve already responded to that with the above comment which you replied to.

        • Michael Neville

          I repeated myself because you don’t seem to understand what I’m saying. You whined that we were generalizing but you don’t appear to realize that happens in normal conversation. Apparently I was not explaining myself well enough for you to understand so I repeated myself in hopes that maybe you’d grasp what I was saying.

        • You repeated it because you ran out of things to say.

          I have nothing further to add here until you actually do.

        • Michael Neville

          Okay, I’ won’t try to explain it any more to you. Your vincible ignorance and refusal to accept what I said tells me that it’s useless to try to explain things to you that you don’t want to hear. Come back when you mature enough to have a discussion and actually listen to what the other person is saying.

        • you weren’t explaining. You were repeating what you already said in a slightly different way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You seem to toil with reading for comprehension a wee bit too, by the looks of things.

          Here’s what you went out of your way to take umbrage with…

          “Whatever. I prefer to live knowing I’ll have just this life and enjoying it as best as I can while attempting to leave behind something enjoyable and a good impresion for those who will follow me once I leave this mortal coil.”

          No generalization in that bit anywhere. A personal and subjective opinion.

          Then…

          “It’s much more preferable than to live being kind just hoping for a reward in the afterlife that may not come (and not just because things there can be very different).”

          Now who could Alec possibly be referring to in that bit of his comment?

          Let me think a wee mo…could he possibly be referring to those that are “hoping for an afterlife that may not come”?

          Who could be categorized to be part of that group I wonder? Believers in an afterlife and that it is some sort of reward perchance?

          Here’s the thing, since you declare that [you] love God, but not because it gives [you] purpose, (purpose and an afterlife reward not being the same thing, but whatever) you are not included in that statement. Only those that do, are, so no generalization again for you to gurn about.

          You’re leaving a lot of mystics out in the cold, for example.?

          No he isn’t. Mystics who believe in an afterlife are included, those that don’t, aren’t…this ain’t rocket science. Are you being a contrarian for the sake of it?

        • I didn’t even read this.

          I’m blocking you, because i’m not here to fight with every single one of you Idiots With An Opinion(TM)

        • epeeist

          Nah, you’re blocking people because you have no counter-arguments to the points they raise.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A rare piece of work, indeed.

        • of course i am. Here, watch, while i do it again.

        • Ignorant Amos

          HC seem’s to think that blocking folk puts some sort of hex on them. And it seems like the blocking get’s used like it’s some sort of Kryptonite that renders the “blocked” person impotent, just because that dopey cunt can’t see the comments of those being blocked. A seriously rare piece of work indeed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are a liar.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Idiots With An Opinion(TM)

          Spoooooiiiinnnng!

          What a complete and utter arsehole…so asinine with just the one head.

        • I’m not a trinitarian. There. You’ve met two people that respect the synoptic gospels at the very least and don’t view the trinity the way most would.

        • Pofarmer

          This is way off topic to this discussion, but I was reading somewhere the other day that the “Holy Ghost” in the Gospels was really a placeholder for the feminine, since nearly all religions at that time had male and female God’s. So you had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Mother, apparently. Which makes more sense anyway.

        • That makes some sense. Asherah (Yahweh’s consort) was incompletely scrubbed out of the OT.

        • Greg G.

          But the scrubbing happened long before the Jesus guy showed up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And there’s me thinking you were well versed in the code…

          [11] The Holy Spirit is Gods Wife!

          http://www.biblecodeintro.com/intro11.html

        • Greg G.

          Wow! I made it a little past this but it didn’t get better.

          God is not a hypocrite

          The concept that God commanded his sons to get married and to be punished with the death penalty if they had children out of wedlock but himself created the entire human race and all the angels as a single parent is absurd and insulting to the one whose activities are perfect, as it makes him into a hypocrite of species wide proportion.

          Jesus told us that the angels in heaven do not get married as we do (person to person) for male female marriage is an institution for the dead. It only works if you are going to die at some point otherwise the commitment is too monstrous. So God cannot marry an individual angel. So he marries a group of them. Angels then join and leave the group. This group is the holy spirit, his administration, his church wife, heavenly Jerusalem. A composite wife can be divine in character even though all the individuals within it are not, so long as they co-operate in love. For the love between the individuals will filter out the roughness in each individual’s character.

          [Italics and underline added.]

          So the Holy Spirit is an uncommitted committee of angels that are married when they feel like it. The Holy Ghost is the Harem of the Day. God is the Holy Gangbanger, the Supreme Adulterer. “Commitment is too monstrous” but global floods with genocidal intentions are peachy.

          Once again, the Bible is shown to support anything.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A thought ya’d get a wee bit of a tickle out of that heretical Christian dross. Talk about an example of the epic prayer failure in gJohn and woo-woo Christian diversity.

          The take down of the Trinity is worth a gander. They really have it in for Roman Catholicism.

          [39] The Top Ten Trinity Busters

          http://www.biblecodeintro.com/intro39.html

        • Greg G.

          That one makes a little bit of sense.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yip…even a broken clock is right twice a day. Because it is heretical thinking, and is in line somewhat with our heathen thinking. But from the mainstream Christian woo-woo position it is unacceptable…which is why I love it. It will be raised again, the next time some woo-woo believing Trinitarian starts babbling about all that Trinity made up ballix.

        • Greg G.

          It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one. but this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests. –Thomas Jefferson

        • Ignorant Amos

          Absolutely mint that one.

        • Greg G.

          I often claim that the epistles only speak of Jesus in Old Testament quotes and allusions as if they only knew Jesus through centuries old documents. I made a chart for the authentic Pauline epistles. I have been working on one for the epistles from James to Jude but the claims for Jesus in the past and present only come from 1 Peter and 1 John with some anticipation of Jesus’ impending return and judgement in some of the others. I am not finding much in the deutero-Pauline epistles and I keep searching for Christian websites to mention these claims.

          I thought I hit the jackpot with Did Paul Write About Jesus as a Historical Person? http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=2836 The article takes issue with a claim in The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur where he said, “[t]here is no question that this is the datum that ultimately stares down the proponents of historicity…. Paul never once mentions the man Jesus, in the full historical sense” (pp. 166-167).

          The article gives Romans 1:3 (seed of David, see 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10) and the Philippians Hymn (“in the likeness of men” and “being found in appearance as a man”, see Isaiah 49:5 and Isaiah 53:2), plus two references from the 1 Timothy forgery. The article makes Harpur’s point for him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The article gives Romans 1:3 (seed of David, see 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10) and the Philippians Hymn (“in the likeness of men” and “being found in appearance as a man”, see Isaiah 49:5 and Isaiah 53:2), plus two references from the 1 Timothy forgery. The article makes Harpur’s point for him.

          They just can’t/won’t/refuse to, see the forest for the trees.

        • epeeist

          Another site designed to reduce your IQ by at least 20 points. It doesn’t help that it is a transliteration from MS Word to HTML, sites that do this are the spawn of the devil.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which is actually quite a devastating prospect, as it looks like it is already designed for those with an IQ starting point of knuckle-dragging moron…51-70…which has the potential to reduce the moron to an imbecile, IQ 26-50…or in extreme cases, to the level of idiot, IQ 0-25…and jaysus forbid what will happen if a complete idiot accidentally comes across that place, they will be completely fubar’d.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are 45,000+ different flavours of Christianity…I’d say even more if we consider the individual foibles of individual Christian Yahweh believers…and a whole lot more than that if ya want to include the whole panacea of woo-woo believers…sometime generalizations are the quickest way to incorporate the vast majority, it’s nothing personal.

          There was a recent discussion on “Progressive Humanist” on the subject of Christians getting on social media to declare that Anthony Bourdain is burning in Hell for being an atheist and committing the added sin of suicide.

          A number of Christians lit all over the forum whining that not all Christians believed in all the negative stuff. It was pointed out ad nauseam that the article was about those Christians that qualified for the ridicule and complaint, that what the “nasty” Christians were doing, was in line with Christian doctrine, scripture, and common belief, but if that wasn’t the thinking, the the OP was not directed at that thinking, and if the whiners could read for comprehension, the OP clarifies after the headline that the OP was being directed at “some” Christians…the ones going on Facebook and Twitter to point out Bourdain was burning in Hell. Still, it didn’t stop those airheads for feeling slighted by the perceived generalization though, they continued to get bent all outta shape regardless.

          We get the same problem when holy rollers come here and generalize all atheists as all sorts of things they are not, that’s because what they believe about atheists is rubbish. But when the odd one gets it half right, someone usually points out where and why the generalization err’s. Nothing wrong with that of course…but dragging it out, even if the interlocutor won’t accept one’s correction, becomes a waste of time and spilt ink, and boring…very quickly.