The Ridiculous Argument from Accurate Names

I attended a Bible archaeology seminar with a speaker who had worked on the excavation of the city of Sodom—or, at least that’s what they hoped. He argued a popular point, that biblical references validated by unbiased sources (such as archaeologists verifying that a Sodom actually existed) strengthen the Bible’s case as a historical document, and these natural claims help make the case for its supernatural claims.

Argument from Accurate Place Names

Here are additional examples of this popular argument.

Near Eastern archaeology has demonstrated the historical and geographical reliability of the Bible in many important areas. (Source: E.M. Blaiklock, The New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology)

Archeology and historical analysis again and again show the accuracy of the events, locations and customs mentioned in the Bible accounts. Never has anybody been able to disprove any of the accounts. (Source: Rob Vandeweghe, Windmill Ministries)

The Credo House blog adds the discovery of the town of Jericho and several inscriptions that confirm the existence of biblical characters: the Pilate Stone, the House of David inscription, and the Caiaphas Ossuary.

The Cold Case Christianity blog gives similar examples, including:

  • Luke 3:1 mentions Lysanias the tetrarch, and inscriptions have been found confirming this.
  • Acts 13:51 says that Iconium is in Phrygia, confirmed by an inscription.
  • John 5:1–9 mentions the pool of Bethesda, confirmed by archaeology.

Here’s a final example from The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Habermas and Licona:

In the past, the Bible has demonstrated that its accounts are trustworthy as far as they have been verified. Moreover, the Bible has never been controverted by solid historical data. Therefore, the benefit of the doubt should go to the Bible in places where it cannot be verified, when there is no evidence to the contrary, and when it seems clear that the author intended for us to understand the event as historical. (p. 31)

In short, the Bible refers to people and places that actually existed; therefore, the Bible is accurate and reliable.

Analysis

Let’s step back and see what we have here. These earnest Christian apologists would like us to believe that the Bible accurately recorded the existence of locations (Sodom, Jericho, Iconium, and the pool of Bethesda) and people (Pilate, David, Caiaphas, and Lysanias).

Okay. Is that it? This isn’t hard to accept.

Issue 1. Let me first cast just a bit of doubt on archaeological finds that are both ancient (which means that our conclusions must be tentative) and lucrative (collectors demand ancient artifacts that modern forgers are eager to provide). Some well-known Bible-era fakes are the James ossuary, the Jehoash inscription, and the ivory pomegranate of Solomon. That’s not to say that other finds are fakes but that we should be cautious.

Issue 2. Archaeology says that the Exodus didn’t happen. Does that un-convince you of anything? If not, why should the verified finds convince you?

If you’re impressed by the discovery of Sodom or Jericho, remember that Troy has also been discovered. Does that give support for the supernatural claims in the IliadThe Iliad also mentions Perseus, the legendary founder of Mycenae, the ruins of which have also been found. Is this yet more support? Be consistent.

Issue 3. If you only want to say that the Bible makes some verified historical claims and so other as-yet-unverified natural claims should also be considered seriously, that’s fine. But surely these Christians want to go further. Surely they want this to support the Bible’s supernatural claims.

I’m happy to grant that the Bible makes many accurate historical references, but having accurate names of people and places merely gets you to the starting gate. It’s the bare minimum that we demand of a historical document. You haven’t supported the supernatural claims; you’ve simply avoided getting cut from the list of entrants being considered.

Instead of focusing on the Bible’s accurate but mundane statements, show us one thing that we thought was natural but is actually supernatural. After that point, the Bible’s supernatural claims won’t seem so surprising. A pile of validated natural claims gets you nowhere in supporting supernatural claims.

Christian apologists tell us, “The Bible isn’t inaccurate in some of its testable claims!” That this counts as a apologetic says a lot for what passes for compelling argument in some Christian circles.

It is useless to attempt to reason a man
out of a thing he was never reasoned into.
— Jonathan Swift

.
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 9/22/14.)

Image via marinnemo, CC license

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • epeeist

    Where’s IA and Sherlock Holmes when you need them?

    I drove through Sherwood Forest the other day, therefore Robin Hood?

    • Raging Bee

      Not the New-Age Pagan Robin Hood, I hope!

    • Don’t get me started about Kansas and the Wizard of Oz.

      • epeeist

        Don’t get me started about Kansas and the Wizard of Oz.

        I am constantly amazed by the number of “arguments” put forward by theists that are vulnerable to trivial counter-arguments. Do they not test their supposed arguments for possible rebuttals before they put them forward?

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Apologist arguments are not to convince the doubting, they are to reassure the faithful,

          ‘that there smart person done proved that bible with all that fancy logic and big words, so don’t need to worry about it no more.’

          Hence event he most trivial of thought tends to destroy them.

        • Greg G.

          ‘that there smart person done proved that bible with all that fancy logic and big words, so don’t need to worry about it no more.’

          But when you ask for a recommendation, it’s C. S. Lewis and Lee Strobel.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          Yes, ignorant peoples idea of what smart people sound like

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Apparently not. The famous Anselm’s ontological argument was very quickly rebutted via reductio ad absurdum by Guanilo’s perfect island, and yet centuries later, apologists are still peddling it.

        • carbonUnit

          God is, as Anselm’s ontological argument puts it, that than which no greater can be conceived. A God that does not exist, though, cannot be that than which no greater can be conceived, for he could be conceived to exist which would be greater. Anyone who thinks that God does not exist, then, is confused; the concept of God entails God’s existence.

          Argh! That middle sentence (my emphasis) hurts my head!

          One thing’s for sure, I can conceive of a much better God than the one in the Bible.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          ahhhh, the apologist attempt to logic something into existence, doesn’t work any better with fairies or dragons both of which have at least as much physical evidence as god

        • Does your God have a jet pack? If not,the one in my head is better.

        • carbonUnit

          Not concerned with flashy God-toys. (God can have anything [s]he wants – even a starship!) I can conceive of a moral God who does not let evil run loose.

  • Kevin K

    Yeah, that’s pretty weak tea.

    Egypt existed, therefore Moses parted the Red Sea? Thinking … not.

  • Kuno

    In the past, the Bible has demonstrated that its accounts are trustworthy as far as they have been verified.

    Do I understand that correctly? The Bible has to be considered 100% true because the parts of it that have been verified have been verified!?

  • ArtK

    What? You mean that modern fiction writers never use real places and people to add realism to their narratives? [/sarcasm]

    • Dessany

      I guess that means you’re telling me that Abe Lincoln wasn’t a vampire hunter???

  • Herald Newman

    I believe that these kinds of argument invoke, what other atheists often refer to as, [the Spider-Man fallacy]. Even if I concede that the characters in the stories are real people, it doesn’t mean that their actions were real.

  • Mister Man

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” -Johnathan Swift

    Ironically, Johnathan Swift was an ordained Angelican clergyman.

    • Bravo Sierra

      He ate babies, so he must have been an atheist.

  • RichardSRussell

    Harry Potter started out in London, which actually exists; therefore Hogwarts must exist as well. J. K. tells me so.

    • Michael Neville

      I’ve even taken a train from King’s Cross Station but not from Platform 9¾.

      • Illithid

        I broke my nose on the wall. Obviously, my problem is insufficient faith.

        • John-Hugh Boyd

          Muggle!

        • Raging Bee

          Or your parents didn’t pay your tuition on time.

    • The other thing in favour of Harry Potter is the argument from popularity: There are so many copies of the manuscripts around. Clearly it must be more true than any mundane history book.

      • Raging Bee

        And it’ll be more true the longer the books are read and enjoyed.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        And all of the copies agree with each other!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unlike those of Sherlock Holmes…oh, you were alluding to something else…apologies.

  • carbonUnit

    Something on this page is pegging my CPU and eating up memory…

    • Raging Bee

      Probably adware. That’s the only thing that changes from day to day. Maybe it’s the Audi ads?

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Maybe you’re mining cryptocurrency!

        • Raging Bee

          Not sure if I want to or not. If someone else has commandeered my laptop for that, I’d damn well better get a cut!

        • carbonUnit

          That thought occurred to me. 😉

    • Sometimes just a refresh of the page helps.

      On the positive side, Patheos has gotten better.

      • carbonUnit

        Yeah, it has, somewhat. When this happens Activity Monitor shows high cpu, memory use soaring and number of open ports increasing too. I suspect that some crappy ad scripting is flying up its own asshole.

        • Greg G.

          Click on an ad that doesn’t offend you occasionally. Then you will get that ad all over the place instead. Make the algorithms work for you.

        • carbonUnit

          I suppose that puts some bread on Patheo’s table too… (What I hate is visiting a website, then ads for that site follow me around, despite Do Not Track.)

    • epicurus

      It’s been killing my ipad air 2 since about March. Since the ipad works fine everywhere else I think patheos must have changed something back then.

  • Grimlock

    I’ve seen a similar argument for the reliability of the gospels. I believe it goes something along the lines of this:
    1) The distribution of names in the gospels match the distribution of names in that era and area
    2) Therefore… uh, they were written at that time? Or depicts actual events? Or something? I don’t actually know.

    Has anyone run across an argument like that?

    On another note, over at a comment section of one of Dave Armstrong’s blogs ( this post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/06/evidence-for-god-inconsistent-endless-atheist-demands.html ), this idea that the Bible has been verified has gotten a bit of heat from multiple commenters. Good fun.

    One of my objections to it was this:

    The Bible consists of texts written by different authors, in different genres, in different cultural contexts, and over the course of centuries. Clearly, then, demonstrating that one text is reliable does not necessarily imply that another text is reliable. Therefore, each separate text needs to be considered on its own.

    Which, to be honest, strikes me as both obvious and pretty relevant.

    • Ctharrot

      Just wanted to applaud your efforts over on Armstrong’s blog. You’ve got the patience of one of his saints. 🙂

      • I don’t hang out in Armstrong’s comments, but I’ve been taking more notice lately. It seems that many of his posts are of the “Would you believe it? Another atheist is a dick to me!” type. Is that true in general, or is he just in a truculent mood these days?

        • Illithid

          I disagreed with something he said. I included references. I was polite.

          Banned.

        • Otto

          Well there is your problem…you are supposed to agree with him and then no references are needed.

        • I disagreed with something he said. I included references. I was polite.

          I’ve highlighted the problem. You’re welcome.

        • epicurus

          Kinda sounds like the Trudeau/Trump fiasco on the weekend.

        • John-Hugh Boyd

          Just remember what Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s dad, commented after he was informed Nixon had called him an A**hole:
          “I’ve been called worse things by better people.”

        • Ficino

          I just wanted an amputee to get a new limb in answer to prayer. Didn’t happen because reasons.

        • Ctharrot

          Not sure about his long-term tone or oeuvre. My reading visits over there are fairly sporadic and recent.

      • Grimlock

        Thanks! Though hopefully I’m less fictional than those saints.

    • Pofarmer

      Good luck getting them to recognize the obvious. Little things like the obvious astrology sitting in plain site in books like Revelation, for instance.

    • Ficino

      Some commentators, whose names I will not divulge, will fight you to the death over their claim that the historical assertions in the Bible are either 1) not demonstrably false or 2) types of Christ, etc. [if they seem to be demonstrably false on a literal reading].

      And then there is the Unmoved Mover and act-potency.

      • Grimlock

        I assume you mean types of metaphors or something?

        And it does appear to be the case. The default response of commenters whose names shall remain unspoken to being caught in being wrong seems to be either to stop answering, or change the topic completely. It is quite fascinating.

        • Ficino

          The term “type of Christ” is a term of art in biblical interpretation, used when some feature of the OT is interpreted as adumbrating Christ. It’s a feature of allegorical interpretation. People like Augustine said that you had to establish the text’s literal sense but also recognize deeper allegorical senses.

          One combox warrior I can think of is quick to accuse skeptics of taking a fundamentalistic approach to scripture, which, he says, might work against some Protestants but is not the basis of attacks on Catholicism. But try claiming that major biblical events like the Exodus cum giving of the Torah/covenant are not factual and you get very quick comeback with links to various websites. So yes, even Catholics need a good deal of the events described in the Bible to be historical.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, I guess I learned something today – thanks!

          I think I’ve seen very similar behaviour to that which you describe from a certain apologist. It does appear a bit… selective.

        • Otto

          Pointing out such an inconsistency from a certain apologist got me banned, I wasn’t rude or insulting but I was rather blunt.

        • Grimlock

          I can believe that. I suspect that I will get banned at some point as well…

        • Otto

          I can’t post on Armstrong’s blog so I am posting here.

          I saw you are having a discussion with Jim Dailey about the unlikely events leading to discoveries. Have you ever seen the show “Connections”? It used to be on The Learning Channel way back when we actually learned stuff watching it. The show takes a historical look at current technology and how our bumbling got us to where we are. It is a perfect example of what you are talking about. It used to be one of my favorite shows. Jim would do well to have a look.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting. Can’t say I’ve seen the show nor heard about that channel, but as I’m not a native English speaker that’s hardly surprising.

          I find the current discussion with Jim quite rewarding. I have not really had a chance to articulate my views on this topic before, at least not from this angle. If you’d like, I could pass on your recommendation? Anonymously or not, whatever you prefer.

        • Otto

          Here is the Wiki page on it.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connections_(TV_series)

          Use it if you think it would be helpful but regardless you would probably like the show. No need to give me any credit.

          It looks like it may be on Netflix right now but I have not confirmed that.

          I specifically remember the show that explained how the invention of the A-Bomb could be traced back centuries and each step had nothing to do with the end product. So what if any of those steps hadn’t happened? There are a whole host of innovations where this is the case. If we pull out one step and talk about how unlikely it was for it to happen one could say it was ‘divinely inspired’.

          >>> “but as I’m not a native English speaker that’s hardly surprising.”

          Well you fooled me.

        • Grimlock

          Excellent, thanks! (Alas, it is not on Netflix in my country, but we do have a fairly limited sample.) It really sounds fascinating.

          Well you fooled me.

          Thanks!

        • Otto

          Here is a youtube link if you can use it. And can I ask what country you live in? No offense taken if you are not comfortable saying.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91XWKv5UuCM&list=PLZaAtt7Dz0bMH2BDGXCuxZ-94juV6sAl_

        • epicurus

          Check your local public library if you live in or near a city. I’ve seen the series at my location off and on.

        • epicurus

          Sorry, sounds like maybe you dont live in Canada or US, so maybe the library thing won’t work. Not that other countries don’t have them of course, just maybe not this series.

        • Greg G.

          I remember it as a column in the Scientific American magazine.

        • Otto

          Scientific American is above my pay grade. I am too stupid to read that.

        • epicurus

          I have to kick it down to Popular Science.

        • Greg G.

          I joined the military to be able to afford college. I tried reading Scientific American a few times when I was still in but couldn’t make head nor tails of it. Around the end of my sophomore year, after taking math, physics, chemistry, and engineering courses, I picked one up and it made sense. I don’t know whether they dumbed it down for me or I actually learned something.

        • SA now is popular science. 40 years ago, it was more a technical journal. The audience seems to have changed dramatically. I imagine it has improved their subscriber base, but it certainly has made it more approachable by the lay audience, and that has been a good thing.

          Nevertheless, determined as I am to find a gray lining in a silver cloud, the people at the Reasons to Believe (Old-Earth Creationist) group that I attended seemed well versed in the latest cosmology. They were driven to use it to support their flavor of Christianity. I’m sure Scientific American was one of their popular sources.

        • DakotaMark

          When I was a kid I used to look at the pictures in my dad’s copies of SA. Later on I was able to read some of the articles a little bit. Since I was in my late 20s, I’ve been a subscriber.

        • Michael Neville

          Several “Connections” episodes are available on YouTube.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          “Fortune favors the prepared mind…”

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          Connections is amazing. I highly recommend it.

      • Kevin K

        “Not demonstrably false” … is this the “I am rubber, you are glue” argument? Or the “I know you are, but what am I” argument?

    • carbonUnit

      The Bible has also been edited and variously translated over the centuries.

      • DakotaMark

        The Bible? Which one is that? There are an estimated 10,000 English versions in North America.

        • carbonUnit

          Guess that should be BibleS, plural. They have mutated and evolved, spreading out into a vast tree over the centuries, just like the religious beliefs they support.

    • Greg G.

      1) The distribution of names in the gospels match the distribution of names in that era and area
      2) Therefore… uh, they were written at that time? Or depicts actual events? Or something? I don’t actually know.

      I have noted before that many names of characters in the Gospel of Mark are mentioned as a parent in Jewish Wars.

      Jairus, Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41
      Jewish Wars 1.17.9 §345-346
      Eleazar, the son of Jairus
      Jewish Wars 2.17.9 §441-448
      Eleazar, the son of Jairus
      Jewish Wars 6.1.8 §81-92
      and of the zealots, two brethren, Simon and Judas, the sons of Jairus.
      Jewish Wars 6.2.6 §136-148
      and of the zealots, Simon the son of Jairus.
      Jewish Wars 7.6.5 §210-215
      Judas, the son of Jairus, their general,

      Levi, Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27
      Jewish Wars 1.2.1 §48-49
      It was John, the son of a certain man whose name was Levi
      Jewish Wars 2.20.6 §572-576
      John the son of Levi himself
      Jewish Wars 5.20.6
      John (of Gischala) the son of Levi

      Simon, Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16; Luke 4:38; John 1:40
      Jewish Wars 5.1.2 §5-10
      For Eleazar, the son of Simon
      Jewish Wars 5.20.4
      Joseph the son of Simon

      Judas, Matthew 10:4; Matthew 13:55; Mark 3:19; Mark 6:3; Luke 6:16; John 6:71
      Jewish Wars 5.13.2 §534-540
      Now when Judas, the son of Judas, who was one of Simon‘s under officers

      Philip, Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; John 1:43
      Jewish Wars 4.1.10 §70-83
      nor did any one escape except two women, who were the daughters of Philip,

      Judas Iscariot
      Jewish Wars 2.17.8
      In the mean time, one Manahem, the son of Judas, that was called the Galilean, (who was a very cunning sophister, and had formerly reproached the Jews under Cyrenius, that after God they were subject to the Romans,) took some of the men of note with him, and retired to Masada, where he broke open king Herod’s armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also.
      Jewish Wars 2.17.6 describes the Sicarii.

      I suspect that Judas Iscariot was invented from those two passages with the transposition of the first two letters of “Sicarii”.

      There is also a Mary mentioned as the mother of a child in Jewish Wars 6.3.4, but under the pressure of being trapped in the siege of Jerusalem, she ate her son.

      I have noticed that the Gospel of John emphasizes different disciples whose names are not associated with the Jews who fought the Romans, It emphasizes Simon Peter, Philip, Andrew, Nathanael, Thomas, and Judas Iscariot. John does use a name that is not in Mark that could have come from Jewish Wars:

      Nicodemus, John 3:1
      Jewish Wars 5.13.2 §534-540
      Gorion, the son of Nicodemus

      The Gospel of John never uses the name of Jesus’ mother, though it gives the names of four women and three or those are named Mary: Martha, Mary sister of Martha, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the sister of Jesus’ mother.

      Most of the cities named in Mark are found in Jewish Wars except for Dalmanutha, Nazareth, and the “Beth-” cities though Josephus has several “Beth” cities. The Mark 1:9 reference to Nazareth seems to be an interpolation because nowhere else does Mark mention a location in terms of a larger location, the parallel verse in Matthew is verbatim without the Nazareth reference, Matthew has “Nazareth of Galilee” in a later chapter, and every other mention is to “Nazarene”. Perhaps Dalmanutha arose from a misreading of Jewish Wars as the last part of “Dalmanutha appears four times in the seven volumes JW and one of them follows the Dalmatia mention closely in the same section so Mark may have skipped a line or two at a line break. They didn’t have spaces between words and would break a line in the middle of a syllable.

      Then there are similarities of passages in JW and Mark. I use capitalization and font combinations to highlight some similarities.

      Mark 3:7-8 (NRSV)
      7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8 hearing all that he was doing, they came to him IN GREAT NUMBERS FROM JUDEA, Jerusalem, IDUMEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, and the region around TYRE AND SIDON.

      Jewish Wars 2.2.1 §14
      ARCHELAUS went down now to the sea-side, with his mother and his friends, Poplas, and Ptolemy, and Nicolaus…

      The Greek word for “sea” in Mark and “sea-side” in Jewish Wars is “θάλασσαν”.

      Jewish Wars 2.3.1 §43
      Wherefore an immense multitude ran together, out of Galilee, and IDUMEA, and JERICHO, and Perea, that was BEYOND JORDAN; but the people that naturally belonged to JUDEA itself were ABOVE THE REST, both IN NUMBER, and in the alacrity of the men.

      Mark 10:46 (NRSV)
      46 They came to JERICHO. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving JERICHO, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside.

      Jewish Wars 1.18.5 §361
      Now is to these her injunctions to Antony, he complied in part; for though he esteemed it too abominable a thing to kill such good and great kings, yet was he thereby alienated from the friendship he had for them. He also took away a great deal of their country; nay, even the plantation of palm trees at JERICHO, where also grows the balsam tree, and bestowed them upon her; as also all the cities on this side the river Eleutherus, TYRE AND SIDON excepted.

      ___________________________________

      Mark 6:3 (NRSV)
      3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of JAMES and JOSES and JUDAS and SIMON, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

      Jewish Wars 6.2.6 §148
      … but on the Jewish side, and of those that were with SIMON, JUDAS the son of Merto, and SIMON the son of JOSAS; of the Idumeans, JAMES and SIMON, the latter of whom was the son of Cathlas, and JAMES was the son of Sosas;

      In the Greek, all four names of Jesus’ brothers’ are within a thirteen word span in Jewish Wars.
      _____________________________________________________

      Mark 6:8-10 (NRSV)
      8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “WHEREVER YOU ENTER A HOUSE, STAY THERE UNTIL YOU LEAVE THE PLACE.

      Jewish Wars 2.8.4 §124-127 [Josephus is describing the Essenes.]
      4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, THERE IS, IN EVERY CITY WHERE THEY LIVE, ONE APPOINTED PARTICULARLY TO TAKE CARE OF STRANGERS, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.

      • Grimlock

        Huh, well, that certainly seems like a somewhat plausible explanation for the possible match of frequency of names. Though I confess that I’m a bit uncertain if that can be taken at face value, knowing how some apologists have a somewhat flexible relationship with the truth. (An open relationship?)

  • lmntCrans

    Spider-man lives in New York, I can prove New York exists. Therefore Spider-man exists.

    • Len

      I’ve actually been to King’s Cross Station in London. Therefore all of the Harry Potter books are true.

      *EDIT* I see I’m not the only one to mention this. That’s obviously even more proof that HP is true.

      • Doubting Thomas

        According to the criteria of multiple attestation, HP is now %400 true due to this comment section alone.

  • Orange East Yellow

    A whole lot of landmarks and cities from a whole lot of superhero comic books and superhero movies exist. Therefore, all of these superheroes also exist. Wow !!!
    https://freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-super-hero-tour/

  • The book of Mormon mentions Jerusalem, Damascas, Assyria, Babylon, Chaldea, Egypt, Israel, the Jordan River, Lebanon, and many other places that we know exist.

    • Raging Bee

      They’re not attacking Mormons — they need them as allies!

  • igotbanned999

    I tried telling a fundamentalist once that since the Illiad mentions real places, that must mean that the Greek gods exist according to his logic. His response? They do exist, but they’re actually demons.

    • Raging Bee

      And the real places mentioned in the Iliad are actually parts of Hell?

    • Bravo Sierra

      Best next response: If you believe in a pantheon of angels and demons, aren’t you polytheistic?

      • Greg G.

        Since the supposed Satan is attributed to have greater powers than the gods of the Greek Pantheon and most polytheistic gods, Satan should also be considered a god. But that comes from a religion that would go to the trouble of inventing a trilogy to maintain the idea of monotheism.

        • epicurus

          Yes, Jesus seemed to be viewed with increasing levels and versions of godness until arriving at the finished version. During that process the devil would have been in the godness ballpark. Pretty sure the devil could kick Apollo’s butt.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Christians often seem to attribute more power to Satan than to their own god.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      There’s always the days of the week argument…we got them from the Norse gods, if I recall correctly…

      • Greg G.

        A guy told me that since the years were based on Jesus’ birth, that proved he was real. I pointed out that the days of the week are based on Norse gods except for Saturday being from a Roman god and some of the months were based on Roman gods, our whole calendar system is based on mythology which proves Jesus is a myth.

        My main point was that his logic was wrong, not that it was a valid proof.

        • Otto

          Not to mention that the years being based on Jesus was done well after the fact…but yeah I have heard that line before too. Unreal.

        • Greg G.

          At least they split the difference between the Matthew/Luke discrepancy.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          And even people who think there was a real Jesus think we probably got the year wrong.

        • Yeah, but BC/AD was based on the Christian god. Checkmate, atheists!

        • Bob Jase

          Technically BC/Ad is only based on Jesus, it has no connection to Yahweh or the Holy Spook (damn, why doesn’t he/she/it have a name?) so its’ only one third of a checkmate.

        • I said “god,” assuming that that includes Jeebus.

          As for not having a name, the one that I think is weird is the name for the whole shebang. “God” is the name of the father (that is, Yahweh). OK, so what do you call the whole Trinity? That’s referred to as “God” as well.

        • Bob Jase

          If all three are named god it must for been very confusinf when their parents called them.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Me: I can fly.
    Apologist: That’s ridiculous.
    Me: I’m from America and I can fly.
    Apologist: I got a Frisbee stuck on the roof that I need some help getting down…

  • Orange East Yellow

    Gilgamesh did exist, places associated with him also exist. Therefore, Gilgamesh did perform all those superhuman feats in 2500 B.C. as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is the true god. All hail Gilgamesh !!!
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/archaeology-and-history/magazine/2018/01-02/history-gilgamesh-epic-discovery/

    • Pofarmer

      The same can be said of Apollonius of Tyana. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollonius_of_Tyana

      In fact, the main problem that he has in attaining a similar stature to that Jesus fellow is that he can actually be shown to have existed…………………

    • Bravo Sierra

      And since Scandinavia exists, so must have Grendel.

      • HairyEyedWordBombThrower
        • Otto

          Grendel’s mom had her lips done.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Angelina Plastique…

        • Zeropoint

          Grendel’s Mom Has Got it Going On.

      • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

        Beowulf also proves that Dragons exist. And if Dragons exist, then clearly they must have mated with talking donkeys.

        • Greg G.

          Which verifies Numbers 22:21-39 where Balaam lost an argument with his donkey.

          Serpents can talk, too, it’s just that we have lost the ability to speak and understand their language because of the Fall, or something.

        • Bravo Sierra

          Dragons totally existed. There’s even a documentary. National Geographic says it’s “a scientific exploration of a remarkable species”:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv8gmmxXRWg

        • ildi

          Couldn’t tell if you were being sarcastic or not, so just in case, per wikipedia:
          “The Last Dragon, known as Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real in the United States, and also known as Dragon’s World in other countries, is a British docufiction made by Darlow Smithson Productions[1] for Channel Four and broadcast on both Channel Four and Animal Planet that is described as the story of ‘the natural history of the most extraordinary creature that never existed‘.” [emphasis mine]

        • Bravo Sierra

          Shhh! Don’t eff with my fantasy. 😉

        • ildi

          Just channeling Carl Sagan and asking about the fire-breathing dragon in your garage…

        • Otto

          SPOILER!!!….sheesh

        • Len

          I loved that film 🙂

          I always wondered why so many ancient civilisations had dragons (of some sort) in their histories and myths when travel between those civilisations wasn’t possible (and no Internet). I guess it was the dragons themselves that travelled around.

  • Jet Kin

    Every historical fiction writer knows that you have to be accurate when using names of places, known historical events and historical figures. Just because Diana Gabaldon somewhat accurately describes the Jacobite rising of 1745 doesn’t mean you can travel through time using a circle of standing stones.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      Perhaps less fantastical examples are even better, I am pretty sure that no one named Sharp was promoted out of the ranks and rose to rank of colonel during the Napoleonic wars, but Bernard Cornwall is scrupulous in getting all historical details as correct as possible (while still telling a story)

    • Ignorant Amos

      Ya mean Highlander is nonsense too…bugger and damn again.

      • Pofarmer

        Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s a bridge too far.

  • Joseph Shaw

    Virtually any ancient mythology/religion with an accompanying ancient text can make claims like this. It simply means the writers use place names that are already known.

  • Otto

    I would like to ask either Licona or Habarmas that if a biography of Pres. Lincoln was produced and all the facts of the biography could be verified as being accurate, but then at the end of the biography it said that Pres. Lincoln hunted and killed Vampires, would they actually think the likely hood of the Pres. being a vampire hunter is pretty good?

  • Joe

    Oddly enough, there are no mentions of names for places outside a small area in the Middle East. Not a great advert for a supposed creator of the universe?

  • Kit Hadley-Day

    is this not usual referred to as the argument from Harry Potter

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Or the Argument from Spider-Man.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Be realistic you lot…it’s the argumentum ad Holmesian fallacy …Sherlockian if yer a puritan.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    One problem is that some of the people doing the digging are transferring their biases onto the data. So towns and cities existed in the Levant. That is in no way surprising. In the case of the Jericho find, why do they think that the city ruins they found are from the city called Jericho in the Bible?

    Here’s a brand new example:

    Ancient statue dating back to 9th century BC could prove the existence of Bible Kings
    They found part of a statue that, presuming it is not a total fraud, is from the 9th century BC. Some people, including the writer of that headline, have already decided that the person depicted in the statue must be a person mentioned in the Bible. This is a textbook example of how to bias your conclusions.

    • Kevin K

      Yeah, I saw that and thought … wait, wut?

  • Paul

    “Issue 2. Archaeology says that the Exodus didn’t happen.”

    That’s a reification fallacy. Archeology itself says nothing, but archeologists says things. Indeed, SOME archeologists interpret the evidence and conclude the Exodus didn’t happen. Why? Because they started with the faulty assumption that the Pharaoh during the time of the Exodus was Ramses. The Bible doesn’t actually give the name of the Pharaoh during that time. Start looking at another Pharaoh and there is evidence of the Exodus.

    Here’s an excellent documentary on the Exodus. Archeologists on both sides are interviewed.
    https://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Evidence-Kevin-Sorbo-narrator/dp/B00Z9HS7TU/

    You might assume that the pro-exodus archeologists are believers. Nope, not true.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Archaeologists have looked for the evidence that would be blatantly obvious if the ‘exodus’ had ever happened, and found NONE of it.

      I mean, be serious. The walk from Egypt to Palestine would be a month’s travel at most.

      Millions of people? They could have literally have *held* *hands* and formed a human chain along the path.

      NO evidence of middens, buried bones, etc.

      • Ficino

        One of the problems is the tendency of some non-fundamentalist believers in the Exodus to whittle down the story. We get pictures of little groups of Asiatics leaving Egypt at different times under different conditions. I remember that being stated in a book for confirmands when I was becoming Catholic. So if the details of the biblical story are stripped out, the assumption is that we can get to a supposed nugget of historical truth. But too much stripping and supposed nugget becomes untestable. Who can tell whether a little bunch of dudes who left Egypt and whose descendants wound up in the cult of Yahweh count as an Exodus?

        The theological significance of the story includes a claim that all Israel, the entire nation, swore fealty to Yahweh at once and that fealty is demanded of their descendants because of the historic, Ur-Eid (primeval oath). If it is not historical that there existed an entire nation that so swore, then we are left with an allegorical/spiritual/midrashic/metahistorical Oath Moment in myth time. Why any credibility is left for the external inquirer escapes me. Your myth and its supposed theological consequences are not binding on everyone else.

        • Kevin K

          Was that Oath Moment before or after Moses killed several thousand of them for worshiping the golden calf? I forget.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Good thing Moses hadn’t read anyone the “Thou shalt not kill” commandment, yet. People might have thought he was doing something wrong.

      • Kevin K

        We (that’s the editorial “we” — archaeologists) can track the path of the first Americans across the Bering Strait. And that was maybe hundreds to a couple of thousand over the course of centuries.

        This movement of people is multiples times larger — and all at once. FFS: their poop would be everywhere.

      • Jim Jones

        > The walk from Egypt to Palestine would be a month’s travel at most.

        If they’d walked in the correct direction they could have made it to England.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe it took them 39 years to figure out which side of the road they should walk on there.

        • Jim Jones

          Maybe they kept walking in circles because a man was in charge and refused to ask for directions! ;P

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Hence the old joke “Why did the Israelites wander for 40 years in the desert? Moses wouldn’t stop and ask for *directions*” (baDUM Tssss!)

        • epicurus

          Or he used Siri : “Dammit Siri, I said Dead Sea not Red Sea!”

        • Ignorant Amos

          There’s a lot to be said for that miracle of modern science that God has provided known as Satnav.

    • Bob Jase

      ” The Bible doesn’t actually give the name of the Pharaoh during that time. ”

      And fairy tales generally don’t give the names of the king, queen, whatever either but histories do because in histories facts are important.

      • Kevin K

        I think the only person to actually declare the biblical pharoah to be Ramses was Cecil B. DeMille.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And he looked suspiciously like Yul Brynner.

          Since the Exodus is myth, who was Pharaoh at the time is like debating the number of angels river-dancing on the point of a pin.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaohs_in_the_Bible#Pharaohs_in_the_Book_of_Exodus

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, it’s actually one of the ways we can tell it’s myth and not historical. The writers of the bible had no problem naming the great Babylonian kings or other of their rivals. Cuz history.

    • Lark62

      No. Archeologistd did not begin with the assumption that the Exodus must have happened at specific time.

      Archeologists have looked for evidence of any large outflow of people from Egypt to Palestine during any plausible era.

      Nada. Unless they were teleported, there was no exodus.

    • ildi

      You may want to read this review of the movie by Peter Enns, an evangelical columnist:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/02/first-of-all-there-is-no-conspiracy-a-review-of-patterns-of-evidence-exodus-1/

      • Andrea Fitzgerald

        Love it!

      • Paul

        A 3-part review of a movie he hasn’t even seen. Nice.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Gave his reasons for being skeptical of film. Particularly those teases about the evidence that “They” don’t want you to see. Sounds like so much clickbait to me.

          Why don’t you support your position by describing some of this evidence, at least?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      That’s a reification fallacy.

      It would be if “archeology says” wasn’t clearly shorthand for “archeological evidence indicates”. As is, your complaint is just bitching in an effort to avoid addressing the point.

      Interestingly, your rebuttal is an oversimplified argument from authority. Whether someone is an archeologist is largely irrelevant, what matters is what the data suggests.

      Granted, archeologists are best equipped to do the analysis, but if the evidence is compelling, it should be easy to put together a case to convince a layman. I’m no cosmologist, but I understand why CMB supports the Big Bang. I’m no biologist but I understand why vestigial organs support evolution.

      So, what is the evidence that indicates a large group of people spent years wandering through a relatively small desert?

      • Paul

        It would be if “archeology says” wasn’t clearly shorthand for “archeological evidence indicates”.

        You just exchanged one reification fallacy for another. Evidence itself doesn’t indicate anything either. Evidence must be interpreted. How people interpret the evidence largely depends on their worldview.

        “what matters is what the data suggests.”

        Reificaition fallacy again. The data doesn’t suggest anything. People interpret the data. How people interpret the data largely depends on their worldview.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          You have no idea what a reification fallacy is, do you?

        • Ficino

          These are not fallacies in their context; they are merely short-hand manners of speaking. You are confused.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, it’s pretty silly. If people being subjective creatures means that evidence cannot suggest provisional conclusions, then we literally cannot know anything.

          I could walk up to Paul, punch him in the face, steal his car and have the whole thing caught on three separate cameras, and I could then deflect all accusations as reification fallacies. If evidence merely indicating my guilt is fallacious, then so is a person making that inference from the same evidence. You can’t have the latter without the former.

          But apologists aren’t about pondering their quips, just spitting them out.

        • Philmonomer

          You just exchanged one reification fallacy for another. Evidence itself doesn’t indicate anything either. Evidence must be interpreted. How people interpret the evidence largely depends on their worldview.

          So, one’s interpretation of the evidence depends on one’s worldview? Given that people have different worldviews (and thus different interpretations), how do you decide whose interpretation of the evidence is correct?

        • Herald Newman

          How people interpret the data largely depends on their worldview.

          It sounds to me like you’re arguing for some kind of post-modern, subjective, truth.

        • Susan

          You just exchanged one reification fallacy for another. Evidence itself doesn’t indicate anything either.

          Then, why do you keep dodging evidence?

          And why do you have such a long history on this site (alone) in which you ignore all basic questions about your statements?

          Why so dodgy?

          I encourage anyone trying to have an honest conversation with Paul to link to his commenting history and see how he ignores every problem with his claims.

          Hey Paul.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

    • Otto

      So just out of curiosity, which of these scenarios does the documentary most closely give evidence for?

      A) That most, if not all, of Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt and they immediately left after a series of plagues including the mass death of children and that they escaped through a sea that literally parted to accommodate them. That millions of people suddenly left Egypt and wandered in the desert for 40 years before settling in the area of modern day Israel.

      B) That most, if not all, of Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt and they immediately left. That millions of people suddenly left Egypt before settling in the area of modern day Israel.

      C) That most, if not all, of Jewish people lived in Egypt and immediately left. That millions of people suddenly left Egypt before settling in the area of modern day Israel.

      D) That some people who may have been Jews (though far less than millions, and only a small portion of the entire Jewish population at the time), lived in Egypt and later moved.

      • Kevin K

        E) That the land known as Israel was once part of Egypt, and it was populated by a group of Yahweh worshipers. Nobody moved.

      • rationalobservations?

        E) That as there’s not a single trace of evidence of any “Hebrew” tribes or slaves in or near Egypt – the stories invented around 400 BCE by tribes who “borrowed” the Canaanite gods and goddesses but retained only “Yahweh” are divorced from any historicity and are relegated to the status of myths and legends.

    • Kevin K

      Um. No, they didn’t. They started from the assumption that massive evidence of a years-long trek through the desert would be instantly obvious to them. They went where they expected to find that evidence … it wasn’t there. They went to places where it might be likely to find that evidence … it wasn’t there. They scoured the desert, looking for something, anything, to prove the Exodus happened. These were observant Jews and trained archaeologists.

      It wasn’t there.

      • Rational Human

        Exactly. Refer to The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, a book published in 2001, discusses the archaeology of Israel and its relationship to the origins and content of the Hebrew Bible. The authors are Israel Finkelstein, Professor of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, and Neil Asher Silberman, an archaeologist, historian and contributing editor to Archaeology Magazine.

        • Kevin K

          Yes, that’s an excellent source.

          The back story, of course, was that all of this archaeology happened after 1948 when Israel became a state, but was deeply interested in proving the legitimacy of its claim to the land. They wanted to prove biblical stories were true, thereby giving them an authoritative claim to the territory. This was a matter of great importance not specifically to the archaeology community, but to the state of Israel itself. Hugely important. Even the slightest bit of evidence would have been a major coup for them in their fight to have an ancient historical claim to the land.

          They came up empty.

        • Greg G.

          They came up empty.

          I think they have a better case to live there if they were descended from the Canaanites who settled the area rather than if they stole it from the Canaanites through genocide. However, they have to decide whether they want to be Canaanites or Israelis descended from the mythical Abraham.

        • ildi

          “I think they have a better case to live there if they were descended from the Canaanites who settled the area rather than if they stole it from the Canaanites through genocide.”

          Hey it worked for Americans! /s

        • Greg G.

          And Australians over the Aborigines. And Homo sapiens over Neanderthals.

      • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

        According to other people that read the same sources as Paul, all of the good evidence for the Biblical Exodus is in Saudi Arabia, but those meanies won’t let Christians dig there to support evidence of any religion besides Islam.

        Excuses, excuses…

        • Kevin K

          Yeah, no. That’s just nonsense. The Saudi’s believe in the Exodus as well.

        • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

          “The Saudi’s believe in the Exodus as well.”

          I know. That’s the part that makes me giggle.

    • Zeta

      Paul: “Start looking at another Pharaoh and there is evidence of the Exodus.

      Which Pharaoh and where is the evidence? Please justify your assertion.

    • Kenneth Fingeret

      Hello Paul, Would that person be Mia Pharaoh?

    • Jim Jones

      Kevin Sorbo? Hilarious!

    • Joe

      The Bible doesn’t actually give the name of the Pharaoh during that time.

      The vagueness of the Bible is in no way a fault of the archaeologists.

      What if you choose a third Pharaoh? Or a fourth? The chance of the exodus occurring keeps getting smaller and smaller.

    • Ignorant Amos

      This is an example of “absence of evidence, is evidence of absence”. Up to a point.

      When 3.5 million folk, plus livestock, “get lost” in the desert for 40 years, they leave a mark. They didn’t, and that’s why even Jews don’t believe it happened.

      But lack of evidence that anyone roamed the Sinai three and a half millennia ago is only part of the story.

      When 3.5 million people leave somewhere suddenly, they make an impact. But more importantly, when 3.5 million people arrive somewhere suddenly, they make an even bigger impact. Especially when they got there, they systematically wiped out the indigenous people already there by way of genocide. Archaeology doesn’t support such an hypothesis. It is easier and better explained, as per William of Ockham’s razor, as being a made up myth as a literary device to explain away something else. It didn’t happen.

      However, the archeological conclusions are not based primarily on the absence of Sinai evidence. Rather, they are based upon the study of settlement patterns in Israel itself. Surveys of ancient settlements–pottery remains and so forth–make it clear that there simply was no great influx of people around the time of the Exodus (given variously as between 1500-1200 BCE). Therefore, not the wandering, but the arrival alerts us to the fact that the biblical Exodus is not a literal depiction. In Israel at that time, there was no sudden change in the kind or the volume of pottery being made. (If people suddenly arrived after hundreds of years in Egypt, their cups and dishes would look very different from native Canaanites’.) There was no population explosion. Most archeologists conclude that the Israelites lived largely in Canaan over generations, instead of leaving and then immigrating back to Canaan.

      http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/judaism/2004/12/did-the-exodus-really-happen.aspx#Fw1fzAv6sAG3S7x2.99

  • Brian Curtis

    This is a common shtick: “The story of Paul Bunyan mentions the Grand Canyon, a real place. Therefore, giant blue oxen exist.”

    • Kevin K

      What are you trying to say? Are you implying in any way, shape, or form that there is no such thing as a giant blue ox?

      You better watch yourself, fella. Things get pretty dicey around here when people start saying things like that!

      • DakotaMark

        Damned right! I was brought up in Minnesota. I went to Brainerd many times as a kid and saw the giant statues of Paul and Babe.

        • Kevin K

          I need a road trip … that sounds like a great thing to see.

          My last road trip, I made sure to the the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps.

        • Greg G.

          My hobby is not collecting the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps.

        • Pofarmer

          Wait a minute…….

        • epicurus

          I saw the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth Minn. back in 1995 on a road trip. Planned to zip over to see Babe but ran out of time.

        • E.A. Blair

          There’s a 50-foot ear of corn in Rochester Minnesota – maybe a snack left out for Babe…

    • John MacDonald

      So much of the details we have of the Jesus narrative could be theologically motivated, so that it becomes impossible to trace down historical nuggets behind the stories – since the authors would have had reason to invent the material. I’m not sure that Jesus’ followers were fishermen just because the gospels say so. This portrayal may just have been based on the “I will make you fishers of men” idea. It seems to go along with the “last will be first, and the first will be last” idea that Jesus, a nobody preacher from backwater Nazareth and his band of peasants succeed in reconciling man to God. It’s like a play on the rags to riches theme where a fallible prophet like Jesus whose family thinks he’s crazy and who can’t perform miracles in his home town ends up becoming God’s specially chosen “first fruits” of the general resurrection of souls at the end of days.

      • Bob Jase

        To be accurate it was Jesus the Nazarene in the oldest manuscripts. Nazareth was made up afterwards to avoid having folks realize that Jesus belonged to a heretical sect.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazarene_(sect)

        • John MacDonald

          Scholars like Dr. Ehrman and Dr. McGrath agree Jesus was born in Nazareth (not Bethlehem).

        • Bob Jase

          They’re wrong. People have to be real to be born anywhere.

        • John MacDonald

          Paul calls Jesus an “anthropos (human, 1 Cor 15.47),” and says Jesus was formed/made of the seed of David (compare Isaiah 44:24; Jeremiah 1:5 on God forming/making someone in the womb).

        • Greg G.

          Many Jews were expecting the Messiah to come in the first century. They were getting the idea from their scriptures. I think Paul and the early Christians thought the Suffering Servant was a “hidden mystery” disguised as a metaphor but was about an actual person who died for sins, was buried, and was resurrected in heaven per Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 3. They thought that Jesus was going to return within their lifetime. So Paul may have thought Jesus was a human who lived and died in or before Isaiah’s time. 1 Thessalonians 2:15 has Jesus killed before the prophets.

          1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 (NRSV)
          4 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone

          Everything the early epistles say about Jesus appears to have been derived from the epistles, not recent word of mouth. Paul’s revelations appear to be things that popped into his head from reading the scriptures. Paul insists that his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “superapostles,” which would be an odd claim if those apostles were going around telling people they had known Jesus in person.

        • John MacDonald

          1 Thes 2:14-16 that you refer to is generally considered an inauthentic interpolation, see richardcarrier.blogspot.com/2011/06/pauline-interpolations.html . As to the date of the crucifixion/resurrection, Paul calls the resurrected Jesus the “first fruits” of the general harvest of souls at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:23), and so the eschaton had begun very recently and was underway. I tend to think the “superapostles” were acting haughty because they were personally acquainted with Jesus, and so Paul felt he needed to defend his position as an apostle by pointing to the fact that he had seen the resurrected Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          I think it was the Christians’ new way of reading the scriptures. Ephesians 3 is saying that since this revelation came to that generation, that the Messiah was coming to that generation so that Jesus in heaven would have been the first fruit. Paul always included himself in the first person plural as being with the living when the Messiah comes.

          I think the “superapostles”/”brothers of the Lord” had turned on Paul and he is being sarcastic. Galatians 5:12 shows how sarcastic he was with them. When Paul refers to “brothers of the Lord,” it is in conjunction with accusing those as using “human authority” while Paul was using the the Lord’s authority. 1 Corinthians 9″5 has “brothers of the Lord” and three verses later, he is talking about “human authority. Galatians 1:1 has an unusual opening about not being sent by human authority. Galatians 1:11-12 is Paul saying he didn’t get his information from human sources or human authorities. Then he calls James “the Lord’s brother” and points out that James orders people to go places in Galatians 2:12.

          The Epistle of James seems to be a response to Galatians beginning at James 2:8-11 responding to Galatians 5:14 as James seems to think not following the law will lead to murder and adultery. Where Paul references Abraham’s faith, James emphasizes Abraham’s works. Paul mentions Abraham’s wife’s faith and James references Rahab’s works. There are many points through James that match up with topics of Galatians. Then we see Romans with rebuttals to James’ arguments. Paul points out that love means you don’t kill, steal, commit adultery, and covet. Paul also points out that Abraham was justified before the works so it was his faith.

        • John MacDonald

          Also, 1 Corinthians 15:4 says Jesus was raised three days after he died. So if you put that together with the “first fruits” business, it all happened very close to Paul’s time.

        • Greg G.

          1 Corinthians 15:3-4 specifically says it is “according to the scriptures.” Isaiah 53:5 says “crushed for our iniquities” Isaiah 53:9 says “his grave with the wicked” and “his tomb with the rich”. Then there is:

          Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)
          After two days he will revive us;
              on the third day he will raise us up,
              that we may live before him.

        • John MacDonald

          – “according to scriptures” doesn’t mean Paul learned about it from scripture, but that it is “in accord” with or “agrees” with scripture. In this way, Matthew interprets Jesus being dead for three days in terms of the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-42) – being three days in the belly of the great fish. This doesn’t mean Matthew learned about Christ’s three dead days by reading the fish story.

        • Greg G.

          “according to scriptures” doesn’t mean Paul learned about it from scripture, but that it is “in accord” with or “agrees” with scripture.

          Even if you interpret it that way, you would have to identify the scriptures and those are the scriptures that Bible scholars identify.

          It’s not like Paul wasn’t reading Isaiah as it is the most quoted OT book and he also quotes Hosea and Isaiah by name together. Romans 9:25-26 cites Hosea and quotes Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10 immediately followed in Romans 9:27-28 by a cite of Isaiah and a quote from Isaiah 10:22-23, and in the following verse another cite of Isaiah and a quote from Isaiah 1:9. Romans 9:33 cites “it is written” and quotes from Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16.

          Matthew interprets Jesus being dead for three days in terms of the sign of Jonah

          Matthew was probably familiar with the 1 Corinthians account but didn’t have a footnoted edition that cited Hosea.

          Matthew relied heavily on Mark, using 90%, and what was omitted seems to be over theological issues, like spit miracles, miracles that were not immediate, naked boys… Matthew also apparently used the Epistle of James to put words in Jesus’ mouth.

          Matthew also used the Septuagint to make up some stories. His “prophecy” that was supposed to be fulfilled by the family moving to Nazareth was from a version of the Septuagint like the Codex Alexandrinus version of Judges 13:5 that has a translation and a transliteration of “nazirite”. The word in Matthew has an omega as the fourth letter and a different ending as the transliteration, although the same word in Judges 16:7 has the same ending that Matthew used. Perhaps Matthew’s version spelled it that way but he apparently didn’t understand the word.

          I think Mark may have been saying that Jesus was a Nazirite using “Ναζαρην+various endings” which is “Nazarene”. Mark 1:9 has “Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee” but Matthew 13:11 is the parallel, quoting it verbatim with the “Nazaraeth in” while Luke 3:21 is the other parallel but does not mention where Jesus was from. Nowhere else does Mark mention a location in terms of another. Matthew 21:11 has “from Nazareth in Galilee” about Jesus, so a Mark 1:9 interpolation would be from that phrase.

        • Kevin K

          So, help me out, because I’m a little muddled on this now. As I understand your position:

          1. Paul and Peter thought “Jesus” was the suffering servant?
          2. The suffering servant, according to them, was born a man and died?
          3. Their contemporaries who spoke of “Jesus” were all agreed that this was the case — no 1st century rabble-rouser?

          This certainly makes some sense … but doesn’t it just merely push back the “corporeal” nature of “Jesus” by … 500 years (or whatever the intertestamental period might be)?

        • Greg G.

          No, the SS really is a metaphor but the Messiah idea seems to have been popular in mid-first century Judea according to Josephus. The early Christians just invented a reason to think the Messiah was coming during their generation.

          Christians have been doing that ever since. I think the Book of Daniel might be the same sort of thing from the Hasmonean era.

        • And Harold Camping did it for our own era (or at least one tiny slice of our era).

        • Greg G.

          I remember that in the mid-70s when they were calling for the Rapture within 70 years from the reformation of Israel. The date for that was May 14th, 1948. We must have missed that Rapture, too.

        • John MacDonald

          As it pertains to my research interests, the important point is the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed/Poetry that Paul inherited from the first Christians says:

          “That Christ died for our sins
          in accordance with the scriptures.
          and that he was buried;

          That he was raised on the third day
          in accordance with the scriptures,
          and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

          The Greek verb here represents something visually seen, so Cephas (who Paul knew) and the twelve were claiming they had seen the risen Jesus shortly after his death. So either they were all hallucinating, or they were lying (like Joseph Smith). Carrier commented on his Twitter feed that, regarding the general Noble Lie Theory of Christian origins: “I discuss it briefly as indistinguishable from the schizotypal cult hypothesis in Element 14 of On the Historicity of Jesus. It’s plausible but so is the schizotypal cult hypothesis. And it can be any combination, too (as some apostles claim visions for the social movement).” Hence, the Noble Lie Theory of Christian Origins. See my outline here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2018/03/examining-easter-peering-behind-veil-of.html

        • Greg G.

          I did read http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fpalpatinesway.blogspot.com%2F2018%2F03%2Fexamining-easter-peering-behind-veil-of.html%3Ah-AkJgGc5kzihwVZuVuzerH5NBo&cuid=2306652 a week or so ago and took some notes. It was fascinating.

          {Aside: It is curious that when I look up the word for “seen” using the KJV (default) on Blue Letter Bible, it gives G3700 as the root word “optanomai” and gives Romans 15:21 as the only place outside of 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 that Paul uses it. Under the NIV, the word is G3708 for “ὁράω” which has a few other locations in the “authentic” Pauline epistles. A search for words beginning with “ὤφθη” in the mGNT only gives 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 as the only four uses by Paul.}

          Romans 15:21 quotes part of Isaiah 52:15 LXX verbatim.

          Romans 15:21 (NRSV)21 but as it is written,  “Those who have never been told of him shall see,      and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”

          That is a poetic doublet where “see” and “understand” are synonyms. Isaiah 52:15 is the last verse before Isaiah 53 and many argue that Isaiah 53 should have started at Isaiah 52:13. Since both of the “according to the scriptures” in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 have a certain reference to Isaiah 53, I think Paul had the Isaiah 53 song in mind. Paul is saying that Cephas, the twelve, the five hundred, James, and himself saw/understood the scriptures just that way Isaiah 52:15 predicted.

          {Aside: I just happened to notice that the NIV footnotes shows 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 is quoting from Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 back to back under one “it is written”.}

        • John MacDonald

          That’s great you enjoyed my blog post about The Noble Lie Theory of Christian Origins! I’ve investigated the issue off and on for about twenty years, so a lot of work went into it. Regarding the resurrection appearances, Dr. Paula Fredriksen comments that “Paul, mid-first century, is our earliest source for this tradition, and he implies that these experiences were visual: Christ ‘was seen’ (ophthe), he says, first by Peter (Cephas), then by ‘the twelve (the inner group of Jesus’ followers). Then he ‘was seen’ (same verb again, ophthe) by almost 500 followers; thereafter by James (Jesus’ brother); and then finally ‘by all the apostles’ (1 Cor 15.5-7). ‘Last of all,’ Paul concludes this passage, Christ appeared to him (ophthe again, v.8; cf 9.1 ‘have I not SEEN Jesus our Lord?’) (Fredriksen, Paul, The Pagan’s Apostle, pg.4, 2017).”

        • Greg G.

          From https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3708&t=NIV

          Outline of Biblical Usage [?]
          I. to see with the eyes
          II. to see with the mind, to perceive, know
          III. to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience
          IV. to see, to look to
              A. to take heed, beware
              B. to care for, pay heed to
          V. I was seen, showed myself, appeared

          Where the LXX has ὤφθη (ophthe), the NIV translates it nearly exclusively as “appeared” referring to God or the Lord having appeared. The two exceptions were 2 Samuel 22:11, which has the Lord “soared on the wings of the wind”, and Song of Solomon 2:12, which has “flowers appeared on the earth”.

          Paul didn’t think much of human knowledge and human authority. He tells us he got his knowledge through revelation.

          Galatians 1:1 (NRSV)
          1 Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

          Galatians 1:11-12 (NRSV)
          11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

          Paul insists that it is important to rely on the writings rather than human authority.

          1 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NRSV)
          8 Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop.

          1 Corinthians 4:6 (NRSV)
          6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.

          Romans 1:1-2
          1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,

          Romans 16:25-27
          25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

          Paul was very insistent on getting knowledge from scriptures. It seems that his revelations from Jesus were seeing/understanding as in Isaiah 52:15.

        • John MacDonald

          I’m not sure why you keep referring to the NIV, since it’s basically an apologist translation. But anyway, even the NIV translates “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not SEEN Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?.” Everyone I have read, from Critical scholars to apologists, interpret the resurrection appearance claims to be visual. But even if you’re right, the first Christians could still have been lying that they were experiencing revelation through an allegorical reading of scripture. So, my noble lie model works either way. But good for you for being creative!

        • Greg G.

          The Blue Letter Bible has some handy search tools for Hebrew, Greek, and English but they don’t have a lot of Bible translations. The NIV has the most footnotes of any of them.

          I like that I can get all the verses for a certain word in the LXX, then past the whole list into the multiple verse search box and select an English translation to compare it with the Greek. Doing that with a list in English is a bit rough as the text will have book names and verse numbers mixed in.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          Friday Evening to Sunday morning isn’t being dead for three days.

        • E.A. Blair

          Since David is supposed to have lived around 1000 BCE, his seed must have been pretty stale by Jesus’ time.

        • Greg G.

          If David’s son, Solomon, had as many wives and children as implied by the writings and if both patrilineal and matrilineal lines can be mixed, then it would be hard to find anybody in Judea but recent immigrants who were not direct descendants of David a thousand years later.

        • John MacDonald

          “Of the seed of David” is just another way of saying “Of the line of David.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          If you were aware of the mythicist arguments of Carrier and Docherty, Paul’s references are easily and better explained alternatively given the Pauline corpus as a whole..

          Carrier argues that Paul is actually writing about a celestial deity named Jesus: Carrier notes that there is little if any concrete information about Christ’s earthly life in the Pauline epistles, even though Jesus is mentioned over three hundred times. According to Carrier, the genuine Pauline epistles show that the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul believed in a visionary or dream Jesus, based on a pesher of Septuagint verses Zechariah 6 and 3, Daniel 9 and Isaiah 52–53. Carrier further argues that according to Paul (Philippians 2.7), Christ “came ‘in the likeness of men’ (homoiomati anthropon) and was found ‘in a form like a man’ (schemati euretheis hos anthropos) and (in Rom. 8.3) that he was only sent ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh’ (en homoiomati sarkos hamartias). This is a doctrine of a preexistent being assuming a human body, but not being fully transformed into a man, just looking like one”.

          Galatians 4:4 and Romans 1:3 make reference to Jesus’ birth, being: “born (Ancient Greek: γενόμενον, translit. genómenon, lit. ‘made’) of [a] woman” and “born (Ancient Greek: γενομένου, translit. genoménou, lit. ‘was made’) of [the] seed of David” respectively. Mainstream scholarship holds that Galatians 4:4 attests that Paul knew Jesus was born of a human mother and that per Romans 1:3, Paul asserts that Jesus was born a descendant of David—a historical ancestor in Paul’s view.

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

        • John MacDonald

          I am aware of Carrier/Doherty’s thesis, I just don’t find it persuasive. That Paul would go out of his way to mention that Jesus was of the line of David, but omit mentioning the part that this was made possible via something as fantastical as a cosmic sperm bank, seems implausible to me – not to mention the textual contortions Carrier has to go through to deny the face value meaning of the James The Brother Of The Lord passage in Galatians (Carrier contorts into the hermeneutic that James was a non-apostolic baptized Christian, which, as Ehrman points out, leaves the rather awkward consequence that Cephas would not be a brother of the lord). I find that mythicism is more about “explaining away” evidence than “explaining” the evidence. But I suppose anything is “possible.”

        • Bob Jase

          “That Paul would go out of his way to mention that Jesus was of the line of David, but omit mentioning the part that this was made possible via something as fantastical as a cosmic sperm bank, seems implausible to me”

          Of course as we don’t have the originals of Paul’s writings we don’t know if this wasn’t another interpolation.

        • Pofarmer

          That’s the thing, isn’t it? We don’t even know who Paul actually was. There are some who think that Paul is a character created by Marcion. There’s no actual historical evidence for Paul, or Jesus, or James the Brother of Jesus. In any other subject, it would be just as “historical” as a serial in a Louis Lamour novel of “The Sackett’s.” They had all kinds of detailed family relations listed.

        • Bob Jase

          Damn but I love the Sacketts, even the odd ones like Lando.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t buy into all of Carrier’s and Doherty’s explanations. I disagree that the early proto-Christians thought the coming Messiah was not on Earth. There are many verses that say that David’s line would always sit on his throne, there are many verses that make that promise conditional, 2 Chronicles 33:1-11 sounds like an excuse for allowing the Assyrian invasion, 2 Chronicles 36:15-17 is an excuse for allowing the Babylonians to conquer, then there are promises to restore David’s seed to the throne in the prophets, and Zechariah 14 is a prophecy for the Lord to take the throne.

          I think a possible source for Paul’s claim in Galatians about David’s seed might come from:

          Psalm 132:11 (NRSV)11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath    from which he will not turn back:“One of the sons of your body    I will set on your throne.

          The “Brother of the Lord” appears to be Paul’s sarcasm for someone who uses human authority in place of the Lord’s authority, as if the person thinks they are at the Lord’s level. Both times the phrase is used is in conjunction with Paul claiming to be following the Lord’s authority and the other doing something similar under human authority.

        • Pofarmer

          Have you read the latest at Vridar on “Rulers of this age?”

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for pointing me to that. I think Paul’s eschatology is at play. He expected the Lord to come and establish his kingdom at any minute and certainly while Paul was alive. But the new kingdom with raised dead people and never dead people in new bodies would end all earthly kingdoms and all heavenly kingdoms.

          I haven’t put much though into it because I am not convinced that Paul wasn’t being deliberately ambiguous.

        • John MacDonald

          Romans 1:3 says Jesus was formed/made (γενομένου) of the seed of David, which fits in perfectly well with the normal conception of God “forming” someone in the womb (see Isaiah 44:24, Jeremiah 1:5), and plainly means Paul thought Jesus was a human person of the line of David. Now, Carrier “explains away” this evidence by “speculating” that God attained a sample of David’s sperm, kept it in a cosmic sperm bank, and eventually formed a celestial Jesus from this sperm. Carrier expects us to believe Paul went out of his way to point out Jesus was of the line of David, but neglected to mention the fantastical cosmic sperm bank story! I think not.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I wonder if ‘the brother of the Lord’ could be an overly literal translation (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlindIdiotTranslation ) of a theophoric name (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophoric_name )?

        • Pofarmer

          You mean because we’re translating a language no longer spoken from a book who’s original authors or intent we don’t know? I mean, how could it possibly go wrong?

        • Greg G.

          I think it Paul being sarcastic. Both times he uses it, he is on about others using human authority while Paul is following the Lord’s calling and scriptures. Paul is saying the “Lord’s brother” is putting himself at the Lord’s level, as if he is a brother of the Lord.

        • Jim Jones

          Maybe they do. There was no Nazareth until the Empress had it created.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apparently, from what I read of Rene Salm, there was an ancient settlement at the place they latter called Nazareth. But it hadn’t been inhabited for centuries prior to the setting of the yarn and the holy family living there. Apparently there is evidence of Rabbi’s escaping Jerusalem in 70 CE as having hold up there for a while. But Salm’s research is quite convincing that no one lived in a thriving “metropolis” called Nazareth in the first half of the first century. And Christians have been at their nefarious shenanigans in attempts to demonstrate there was.

          Like you say, a place was ret-conned to fit the story when Constantine’s ma went looking for the cross and stuff. A theme park was born.

        • Jim Jones

          IIRC, it was an area with graves which Jews abhorred.

          With enough Roman gold – they learned to love it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Correct…not only did they abhor it, but it was illegal…apparently.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Wasn’t the Nazareth thing due to a mistranslation of “Nazarine”?

        • E.A. Blair

          There’s another biblical mistranslation that I’ve noted. The biblical proverb about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle is a faulty interpretation. In ancient Aramaic, the word gamla means both “camel” and “rope”*. It makes more sense to create an image of trying to thread a needle with a rope as a metaphor for a futile task. This is something that I discovered while I was working on my masters’ degree in linguistics. There are many other examples of such misinterpretations.

          *Just as in English the word sanction can mean either “forbid” or “approve”.

        • Otto

          I had heard ‘eye of the needle’ referred to the oval openings in walls that helped keep camels out of areas…but your explanation sounds better.

        • ildi

          … and I had heard that “the eye of the needle” was actually a narrow pass.

        • Otto

          I think that could be the same thing maybe…

        • I heard the “eye of the needle” gate (a small gate big enough for a person next to the big city gate big enough for a wagon) was a later addition.

        • E.A. Blair

          My information comes from a professor who had degrees in both linguistics and biblical scholarship. He also said there was no archaeological evidence for such gates, and that the story of Moses striking a rock with his staff and finding water comes from a misinterpretation of an old Hebrew colloquialism in which “striking rock” is roughly equivalent to the English phrase “hitting paydirt”. Apparently, if you know the original biblical languages, there is a good deal of wordplay included – even puns.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Like Shakespeare?

        • Elizabeth A. Root

          I was told that the Eye of the Needle was a gate in Jerusalem that a camel could only go through if he/she was not carrying a load and crawled on his/her knees. Nice little metaphor for the rich to need to give away their possessions and become humble, eh? As to why anyone would build such a gate or force a camel to go through it when there are other gates …

          I like your explanation better. I did see a humor magazine that had “pictures” of “classic” stained glass windows. One featured a camel going through the eye of a needle (very popular with the rich.)

        • Susan

          I was told that the Eye of the Needle was a gate in Jerusalem that a camel could only go through if he/she was not carrying a load and crawled on his/her knees.

          I was told there were gates only tall enough for upright humans to walk through (pedestrians) and that there were gates for trade, through which laden camels could pass. I was told this in grade 9 after 6 years of catechism in grade school mentioned nothing about it.

          They never provided sources for this distinction, though they might exist.

          Anyone have any idea whether this is an accurate depiction of gateways into a city from that time and place?

          Sort of like signs that say trucks over this height can’t pass under this bridge.

        • Greg G.

          Sort of like signs that say trucks over this height can’t pass under this bridge.

          They can but they have to make two trips, the second for the top of the truck.

        • ildi
        • Greg G.

          I was in Chicago in February waiting in the car while my friends were ordering food and watched a truck try to fit under an overpass. The front of box cleared but it scraped a few feet in. He tried a couple of other areas without success, then had to back up the street in heavy traffic.

          More on the bridge:
          http://www.newsobserver.com/news/traffic/article123284534.html

        • epicurus

          For many, many decades one of the main bridges in my city has had semi’s wrecked, or stopped in time but then have to get the cops to come and detour traffic so they can back out as there is no where to turn around.

          https://globalnews.ca/news/2584287/we-may-need-to-put-an-even-bigger-sign-up-trucks-keep-getting-stuck-by-edmontons-high-level-bridge/

        • ildi

          “Because you can’t eliminate the combination of inexperienced drivers, especially many of those driving the rental box trucks, and the unfamiliarity of conditions, such as truck height, we doubt it will be completely eliminated. We hope to simply cut the number down as low as possible.”

          That’s what it looks like… also, some trucks look like they’re trying to run the red – what a lesson! Relaxing to watch because nobody gets hurt.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Also, a kite means both a toy and a bird. Language is weird.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nazorean…in Matthew…another prophecy fulfilled…except no one knows where the prophecy was made.

          Nazarite, someone who had taken special vows of dedication to Yahweh, is one letter of from Nazorean when written in Greek.

          The term, “of Nazareth”, isn’t found outside the NT and at the time the holy family. Josephus mentions 45 towns in Galilee, but not Nazareth, and iirc, he was at one point 30 miles down the road from the place called Nazareth today.

          Although the historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100) mentions 45 towns in Galilee, he never mentions Nazareth. But Josephus also writes that Galilee had 219 villages in all, so it is clear that most village names have gone unrecorded in surviving literature. Nazareth was overshadowed by nearby Japhia in his time, so Josephus might not have thought of it as a separate town. The earliest known reference to Nazareth outside the New Testament and as a contemporary town is by Sextus Julius Africanus, who wrote around AD 200. Writers who question the association of Nazareth with the life of Jesus suggest that “Nazorean” was originally a religious title and was later reinterpreted as referring to a town.

          Now if there was nothing important about Nazareth at the time Josephus was writing, if it was a place, then there is no reason to expect him to mention it. But Christians expect us to believe that a god-man who lived there recently and supposedly did all the stuff in the NT, founded a new Jewish cult that was sweeping the nation, but little to no people were talking about it. Josephus knew nothing about it. Yet there was churches set up in Corinth, Rome, Phillipa, Antioch, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Spain, Galatia, etc…unless Paul wasn’t preaching a guy that actually lived and worked anywhere geographically situated.

          The descriptions of Nazareth in Luke don’t fit the topography of the place on the ground either.

          Frank Zindler takes Ehrman to task on his Jesus of Nazareth assertion. Jesus of where?

          http://freethoughtnation.com/jesus-of-what-a-response-by-frank-zindler-to-bart-ehrman/

        • Greg G.

          I think it was a misunderstanding and a misspelling of “nazirite”.

          Judges 13:5 (LXX Codex Alexandrinus)
          ὅτι ἰδοὺ σὺ ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξεις καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν καὶ οὐκ ἀναβήσεται σίδηρος ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἡγιασμένον ναζιραῖον ἔσται τῷ θεῷ τὸ παιδάριον ἐκ τῆς γαστρός καὶ αὐτὸς ἄρξεται σῴζειν τὸν Ισραηλ ἐκ χειρὸς

          Judges 13:5 (LXX Codex Vaticanus)
          ἀλλοφύλων ὅτι ἰδοὺ σὺ ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχεις καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν καὶ σίδηρος οὐκ ἀναβήσεται ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ὅτι ναζιρ θεοῦ ἔσται τὸ παιδάριον ἀπὸ τῆς κοιλίας καὶ αὐτὸς ἄρξεται τοῦ σῶσαι τὸν Ισραηλ ἐκ χειρὸς Φυλιστιιμ

          Matthew 2:23 (mGNT)
          καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται

          ναζιραῖον –Judges 13:5
          Ναζωραῖος -Matthew 2:23
          ναζιραῖος –Judges 16:17
          Note: “Ν” is a capital “ν”, using modern convention of capitalizing proper nouns. The ending of Greek words are often conjugated, the way English conjugates words to plural by changing the ending for plurals and past tense.

          The LXX-A has a Greek translation and a transliteration of the Hebrew word for “nazirite”. The standard version has an abbreviation of the transliteration. My guess is that both are derived from an LXX version that had the transliteration where the translation was added to one and the other line had the transliteration abbreviated.

          The standard Septuagint we commonly use today is a mixture of different texts we have, AIUI. But Matthew may not have anticipated what version we would be using today and used something like the Codex Alexandrinus. Matthew either misspelled the word from Judges 13:5 or copied it just as it was in his copy of the LXX, and conjugated it as it appears in Judges 16:17.

          Judges 13:5 (NRSV)5 for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

          Matthew 2:23 (NRSV)23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Based on absolutely no evidence other than they recognize that Bethlehem is required in order to fulfill prophecy and therefore the more likely to be made up nonsense.

        • Pofarmer

          I just read Ehrman’s reasoning on his blog.

          It sucks.

          https://ehrmanblog.org/was-jesus-from-nazareth/

        • John MacDonald

          How were you able to see through Ehrman’s paywall? Are you a member of his site? What specifically did you find wrong with Ehrman’s arguments?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m a member. Have been for some years.

          I’ll see if I can copy and paste.

          So we have a mixed bag when it comes to our sources of information
          about Jesus. But if we can find reports in these sources that are made
          multiple times, by independent sources (e.g., reports in Mark, and M,
          and John, and Paul), in which there seems to be *disinterested*
          reporting (where the author has nothing to be gained by saying something
          in particular about Jesus) – then we are probably hearing something that is historical, as opposed to something that has been “made up” by one Christian author or another.

          The report that Jesus came from Nazareth passes these historical tests.

          It is independently attested in multiple sources (Mark; M; L; and
          John). that means that no *one* of them made it up – since none of them
          got it from the other, and they are not dependent on the same sources,
          the report goes way back, long before any of them wrote it down.

          And it is a disinterested report. No one gets any Christian
          “mileage” out of claiming that Jesus came from Nazareth. Why would a
          Christian make up *that* report? Nazareth was a little one-horse town
          (it wasn’t even a one-horse town; more like a one-dog town) that was
          completely insignificant and trivial. It is not mentioned in the Jewish
          Scriptures or in Josephus. The first time its name appears is in the
          New Testament. As we know from the archaeological digs at the site, it
          was a little backwoods hamlet, thoroughly impoverished, with no sign of
          any wealth or any culture. No school. No synagogue. No nuttin. About
          fifty very primitive houses and very primitive and rather vile living
          conditions.

          Except, at least Mathew DID get mileage out of it, because there was the supposed prophesy that “He shall be called a Nazorean.

          In one part of the same article a few paragraphs up, he tells us that the Gospels certainly cribbed off each other. Then he tells us that this specific passage is certainly genuine because all 3 gospels agree on it. It’s pretty much circular. Plus we know that there was some sort of prophecy to that affect, apparently.

          Like I said.

          It sucks.

        • John MacDonald

          Ehrman’s reasoning seems pretty good to me. Oh well, difference of opinion.

        • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

          It is independently attested in multiple sources (Mark; M; L; and
          John). that means that no *one* of them made it up – since none of them
          got it from the other, and they are not dependent on the same sources,

          What? Where’d he get the idea that the gospels didn’t share sources?

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah. He knows they share sources. Just not this source. Since it’s mentioned “independently” in 3 of the 4 gospels, then it’s a historical lock, apparently.

        • Elizabeth A. Root

          My main problem with that book is that after all he has written about the gospels being forged, miscopied, redacted, etc., he suddenly finds them very accurate. Even if there are indications that the originals were written within a few decades of Jesus’s supposed existence, we don’t have copies for hundreds of years. And what with all that forging, miscopying, redacting, etc., how do we know that they are accurate copies of the originals? Some beloved stories, like the “Woman Taken in Adultery” are not in the oldest manuscripts, although they are still included in the Christian Bible, often without any indication of their dubious nature.

          If one doesn’t believe in miracles, it is dicey to argue that if one removes all the obviously false supernatural elements, the more mundane pieces that are left are trustworthy. Ehrman argues that since all the gospels agree that Jesus was crucified, it must be true. They also agree that he performed miracles and rose from the dead, but Ehrman doesn’t believe that. He also invents a number of lost hypothetical sources that “must” have existed, so like the miracle of bread and fishes, the number of sources that agree is suddenly increased.

          He also insists that there are no independant sources because no-one kept track of the peasants, except that Jesus attracted enough attention to be executed, or so we are told. He asked if the Romans kept these sort of records, where are they? One critic replied that some of them are probably in Ehrman’s university library.

        • Bob Jase

          Much as I like Ehrman’s work (mostly) he can’t quite let go of his belief in Jesus no matter how much he’s let go of Yahweh and the Holy Spook.

      • Kevin K

        Of course, if you look at the area in question … it wasn’t exactly a fishing economy, was it? You know where there was a fishing economy? Greece.

        • Jim Jones

          The gospels are a Greek religion, based on Paul’s religion and he was also Greek.

        • Kevin K

          I was also going to raise the story of the fishermen in the boat during the raging storm … which is pretty much a non-existent thing in the sea of Galilee (which isn’t a sea, but a lake); but extremely common in the Aegean sea around Greece.

        • Greg G.

          but extremely common in the Aegean sea around Greece.

          Also in the Homeric epics.

        • Kevin K

          Ha! Good point.

        • Jim Jones

          I’ve seen an argument that the Gadarene swine episode describes Cadiz in Spain better than anywhere else. (Ancient Cadiz was called “Gadir” – the land of the Gadareans).

          The Lost Tribe of Gad – Found! – Simcha Jacobovici TV

          http://www.simchajtv.com/the-lost-tribe-of-gad-found/

      • Silverwolf13

        You can find almost the entire life of Jesus described in a life of the Egyptian god Horus.

      • Greg G.

        I think John 18:13 about Annas being the father-in-law of Caiaphas is plausible. Annas was a high priest for 13 years and then one or two sons held the position briefly before Caiaphas held it for 18 years, the whole Pilate era, then more sons of Annas became high priest, five in all.

        OTOH, there was a high turnover rate after that so many priests got to be the high priest for a minute.

    • Kenneth Fingeret

      Hello Brian Curtis, I agree! The Atlantic Ocean exists therefore Atlantis exists!!!!!!! lol

    • And from more recent times: if you read “Scrooge” you will read of three Ghosts, in addition to Marley and his chains. It takes place in the real city of London. Ergo, ghosts exist.

      • Kevin K

        I’ve been told that the time Dickens wrote his little story, most Christians did not celebrate the holiday of Christmas. It was just another day; certainly not a universal day off of work. More than anyone in history, it was Dickens who changed that.

        • epicurus

          Certainly the sentimentality and warm fuzziness of Christmas Dickens really locked in. Tell family you are not coming home for xmas or that you are going to be alone at xmas and it’s a big deal. But do the same at Easter? Meh.

        • Kevin K

          For much of my adult life, I lived quite some distance away from my family, and often did not make it home for Christmas. Dicey roads, no extended time off at work, blah-blah-blah. But those were just excuses — frankly, I just didn’t want to go. I quite enjoyed the day(s) off.

          Now, I live within shouting distance of a large percentage of the family–so, it’s kind of unavoidable. It’s fun and everything; but sometimes, I just want a little peace and quiet. I’m kinda big on the peace and quiet thing.

          I’m not quite “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” But I understand how one might get that way.

        • epicurus

          I’m often amazed at the mass hypnosis (a result of Dickens) of the “Christmas Spirit” that seems to overtake many otherwise non sentimental people and how they look at me funny when I say I’m not that into Christmas. They really just don’t see how anyone could not get the warm fuzzies around Christmas. I often point out that other cultures have their hoildays with sentimental times that we miss, yet we are not bothered and don’t care about those. As you can imagine, my reasoning fall on deaf ears.

        • Kevin K

          The first couple years I was amidst the family, I did some decorating of my house. I gave it up after a couple of years, because it was just a pain in the ass, and … well … I don’t believe in the fundamental “reason for the season” as it were.

          My family expressed some dismay at this — despite the fact that they are (with one exception) non-believers themselves.

        • Pofarmer

          Even when I considered myself a Christian, I just got so damned worn out with the whole thing.

  • Aren’t the supernatural claims by themselves way more than enough to enable rational intelligent people to determine these ancient scriptures as simply tall tales with no basis in fact?

    • Doubting Thomas

      Yes. The problem is that most people are neither rational nor intelligent.

      • Bob Jase

        Poor design ain’t it?

        • Silverwolf13

          I’m hoping that Intelligent Design can be proved. If it is, I intend to sue the designer for gross negligence in the design of the human back.

    • Kevin K

      We still live in a demon-haunted world. In some ways, I think US society has gone backwards since Sagan’s death. There appears to be less religious belief among young people, but more-fervent belief by those who do cling to the ancient superstitions.

      And, of course, most-scarily, the latter group currently holds a place of honor in the halls of government.

      • Jim Jones

        Once, the US had Robert G. Ingersoll and H L Mencken.

        Once.

        “If the book and my brain are both the work of the same infinite God, whose fault is it that the book and brain do not agree? Either God should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book.

        The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the credulity of him who reads. There was a time when its geology, its astronomy, its natural history, were thought to be inspired: that time has passed. There was a time when its morality satisfied the men who ruled the world of thought: that time has passed.”

        — Robert G. Ingersoll

        • E.A. Blair

          There is one good thing the bible did. In the later 18th and early 19th centuries, people were looking hard for evidence that would verify the account of Noah’s flood. The investigations turned up mountains* of evidence that the biblical myth was wrong that the scriptural account was discarded and modern geological science rose from the ashes of dogma. There’s a good book on the topic, The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood by David R. Montgomery.

          *Pun intended.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve read about half that book and got stuck, for some reason. The funny thing is, Montgomery is a Christian.

        • RSSAA

          Some Christians are reasonable (yeah, I know that might echo Trump’s notions about “some Mexicans”), but I read the whole book and it seemed to me that his Christianiy is either very liberal or he is on the verge of agnosticism. I can only use public transportation, and it’s often that the books I carry with me to pass the transit time spur conversations with fellow passengers. One person who saw the title assumed it was a creationist text and that I was a fellow creationist.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Coincidentally, I was just reading Ingersoll’s essay “What Infidels Have Done” just yesterday. I hadn’t read it for a number of years, so I was just refreshing my noggin on the contents in order to slap down a Christian who I was arguing with about atheists being a bunch of Nietzsche loving nihilists who have no purpose in life and therefore nothing worth contributing. I was looking for Stephen Girard’s name specifically in order to cite correctly. Christians have this strangely contorted image of atheists and when they get it stuck in their heads, it is hard to shake.

          https://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/what_infidels_have_done.html

          Ingersoll is inspirational.

          The reply to the Christian and the tripe he is peddling…

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/progressivesecularhumanist/christians_claim_atheist_anthony_bourdain_is_burning_in_hell/#comment-3944117593

        • Pofarmer

          “Damned Good Company” is along the same lines.

      • Silverwolf13

        There are real demons that do exist today, Donald J. Trump being the most obvious example.

  • gSkeptic

    I was on a biblical archaeology dig way back in 1970 at Tel Sheva, outside Beersheba in Israel. As I recall, there were at the time about five scholars leading the dig. The most impressive was an Englishman who was also a specialist in ancient languages and writing. I’ll never forget the excellent lecture he gave one night to everybody about the origin of the alphabets (the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Roman alphabets all come from the same root). The easiest way to start an argument with him (as some of my dig mates discovered) was to claim you were religious. He most vociferously — and all but one of the other scholars leading the dig — were not religious. The lone exception was an ordained Baptist minister from a bible college in North Carolina.

    I regard the apologists’ arguments not as proof that their religion is real, but that they are addicted to religion and as a result have a physical reason to “believe.” I’m strongly reminded by their arguments of the types of things I’ve heard from smokers and alcoholics. Your brain is wired to seek solutions to your instinctive needs. If you fantasize a solution, that will activate your reward center. You can easily test that by having a sex fantasy. Religion hijacks this by presenting itself as a kind of “all-purpose” reward to whatever problem you might have. With testimonial evidence and apologetics, religion can squeeze out just a smidgen more “reward” than can most other fantasies.

    It is for this reason that I tend to post my opinions about religion online than face-to-face. Arguing with a religious person about religion merely reminds them of the withdrawal symptoms and as a result they scream out their religious beliefs all the louder.

    • kikipt

      Well said. Thank you!

    • Aram

      I completely agree religious belief is addiction of the worst kind. However, I do wonder if in fact the better reason not to argue with them isn’t so much about withdrawal, but rather it’s the debate itself giving them the fix they so crave. Some of them, anyway.

  • Jon

    Oh, I see that everyone else is making the point I usually make, namely, that since we’ve discovered Troy, then it must mean that the Greek scriptures are accurate and Apollo and Athena, who were seen at the Battle for Troy after all by more than 500 people, were real. The Greek Gods have been seen by lots of people; therefore, they are real. I think Christians bite at the first hard proof that’s offered because there’s really no good hard proof for the supernatural that can be offered. That there was a city of Jerusalem means that Jesus rose from the dead three days after the crucifixion. If that’s true, then my Greek Gods are real . . . and of course they really are. I prefer them anyway.

    • Silverwolf13

      I agree. We should all worship Aphrodite.

  • E.A. Blair

    There are 84 Nero Wolfe stories (novels & novellas) and almost all of them take place in or near New York City. I’ve been to NYC, it’s a real place, so Nero Wolfe was real and all of the things mentioned in those stories really happened.

    • Greg G.

      I have visited the grave of Edgar Allen Poe. That means… I’m too frightened to finish.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Fun part is, living near NYC, I can recognize a LOT of the out-of-town places described. Rex Stout, the author, lived in Brewster, NY, right on the border with CT.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “These earnest Christian apologists would like us to believe that the Bible accurately recorded the existence of locations (Sodom, Jericho, Iconium, and the pool of Bethesda) and people (Pilate, David, Caiaphas, and Lysanias).”

    Many Spider-man comics take place in Manhattan.

    President Obama, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray,
    Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner have appeared in a Spider-man comic.

    Conclusion ( using the same logic Christian apologists use) : Spider-man exists.

  • Jim Jones

    Some well-known Bible-era fakes are the James ossuary, the Jehoash inscription, and the ivory pomegranate of Solomon.

    Also the cross of Jesus, the crosses of the two thieves and the Titulus Crucis.

    And the 17 foreskins of Jesus and the Shroud of Turin.

    • Greg G.

      And the many skulls of John the Baptist.

  • Gord O’Mitey

    Blasphemers all! I can assure you that every miracle in the Bible happened, due to My divine influence.

    How can you be sure that this is true, you ask? Easy, it’s true because I say it’s true. And if you still don’t believe Me, you will burn in Hell, tortured for all eternity. Well, I do like to watch, because it gets fucking boring here in Heaven.

  • Philip Buczko

    And there is no archaeological evidence that the village of Nazareth was occupied during the lifetime of the JC character.

    • Dennis Lurvey

      my christian nephew called that an ‘atheist talking point’.

      • Ignorant Amos

        And mythicist Richard Carrier insists that while it might be an interesting talking point, whether Nazareth was a populated place during the first 33 years CE or not, is irrelevant to the ahistorical Jesus hypothesis.

        • Dennis Lurvey

          except that the jesus story includes him growing up a carpenter in a large family. it would take a village with food sources and work to support such a family and 2 houses with burial caves won’t do it. aside from that who would have witnessed his ‘virgin birth’ and wrote it down for the world?

    • Lark62

      The Greek NT writers seemed to have confused “Nazarene” – a member of a religious sect of the time with “Nazareth” – a town that existed when they were making up / writing down the tale.

      “Jesus the Nazarene” became “Jesus from Nazareth.”

      This is the sort of thing that happens in a multi century game of telephone.

      • Pofarmer

        Well, and consider this. For a long time the Gospel of Mark is considered to have been authored in Rome. This is what you get when you have a dude writing fiction which is itself based on second hand accounts, (josephus, Pliny, etc, etc. )

  • Dennis Lurvey

    They dug up Jericho and there were no ‘walls of Jericho’. They dug up old Jerusalem and found a tiny village. They dug up Nazareth and found 2 houses and a well. They’ve been digging trying to find evidence of a mass migration of Jewish slaves and found nothing but a trickle of villagers (and the Canaanites ‘turned into Israelites’ right where they were). They have dug and dug and dug and not found a firsthand account of Jesus doing anything that could be verified. They still haven’t found evidence of Abraham, Moses, or most biblical characters outside the text of the bible. No mentions in outside texts, statues, coins, carvings, or historical sites in any country of either one. They have found that there were many gods during the time the bible said there was only one. They have found statues of the god that wasn’t supposed to be carved, along with his wife Ashura. They have found and translated texts that contain stories of prophets identical to the story of Jesus including being born of a virgin and resurrecting, written centuries before christianity. The catholic church scientists found our universe is expanding from a single point, disproving the creation story of the earth. The big bang has been replicated in the big collider making it repeatable and provable. Evolution has been replicated in real time with bacteria overcoming obstacles to reproduce a stronger bacteria.
    What the bible does say is elohim was redefined as yahweh, a minor storm or mountain god, then re-defined over and over, other god stories rolled into it, worshiping other gods made illegal under penalty of death, and made into the ONE god by force of law and govt over a 1000 year period of time. Constantine made Jesus into a deity, and made him legal to worship in 313 AD and the law made Christianity the only religion legal to practice in the western world, which came to America’s shores as early as the 1400’s.
    The proof is overwhelming most of the bible stories didn’t happen, most of the people didn’t exist, a lot of the places didn’t exist or existed and were destroyed at a different time in a different way than the bible says. Even with newer discoveries none of them have been to bolster the bible stories, they make the stories less true or much much smaller than depicted.
    Ben Franklin said no establishment of religion would mean the free market would determine which religions would rise and fall on their own merits. Christianity is proving that true, it is failing.

    • Doubting Thomas

      While I agree with most of what you said, the part about the big bang is incorrect. We have collided particles together to help us understand the big bang, but this is in no way a replication of the big bang itself.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Does this mean Sherlock Holmes isn’t real? Bugger and damn.

    But I’ve been to London and seen where he lived…and Queen Victoria was empress of the British Empire at the time.

    https://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/90/45/3904594_4c6439e5.jpg

    Are ya sure about this being a fallacy?

  • Jordan Vincenzo

    This finally confirms what I’ve been saying all along; Abe Lincoln WAS a vampire hunter!!

    • Greg G.

      I am very happy that he got the vampires before they got my great-great-grandmother while she was still a virgin.

  • Pofarmer

    I’m gonna go OT.

    So I have a question. Is there any point in interacting with what I
    consider to be “toxic Evangelicals” on facebook? There’s a new Church
    plant here that’s all excited that they are sending a person to Romania
    to preach to them. I mentioned on their post that that Romania had been
    Christian since before Columbus came to the New world. (actually long,
    long before) The response was that they aren’t really Christian,
    they’re mostly Eastern Orthodox!!!! Oh, noes, they’re not the right
    kind of Christian. IMHO, this is the same kind of unthinking dumbass
    that is infecting our political discourse in the U.S. These people are
    all “full of the Lord” and sure of their message and don’t think they
    can be wrong. I dunno. There’s probably no upside to calling them
    out on it. But if it would cause a few of them to doubt……

    • epicurus

      Christians converting Christians, the ultimate irony and evidence that the Bible is unclear.

      • Pofarmer

        The talking point is that less than 1% of all Europe is Christian because they aren’t all Bible believing saved evangelicals.

        • epicurus

          And they never were. Modern American Evangelicals would be burned at the stake by the big reformation movements- Lutherans, Calvinists, Reformed. You would have to argue against Christianity as a whole with these facebook people I guess. Probably as much point to interacting with them on Facebook as there is here, although you would be invading their world to argue with them, unless maybe you are already FB friends. But, if you feel like some toxic arguments, go for it.

        • Pofarmer

          Thing is, it’s a local Church, that split another long time local Church. I’ve had to deal with them already on a public basis and tell them no a couple of times when they wanted to encroach on public events. I’m getting their feeds, I’m guessing, because of paid advertising, so I feel somewhat justified in pushing back, no matter how trivial.

        • epicurus

          I say go for it !

        • Kevin K

          Sounds to me like they’re already an Emo Philips joke.

        • Greg G.

          I’m getting their feeds, I’m guessing, because of paid advertising, so I feel somewhat justified in pushing back, no matter how trivial.

          If they are paying someone else to put their information on your computer and on your retinas, they owe you something too.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Sometimes I wonder if I get some kind of endorphin hit by going to Christian Disqus comment sections. The crash always comes, and I feel like my concept of the extent of human pettiness and our bindings explained in Dissonance Theory has just been so charitably naive. Later, I’ll do it again, rationalizing it as not wanting to remain in an echo chamber, but it just doesn’t seem like I ever meet eye to eye with someone from an opposing point of view. I don’t have any “special” reverence for the assertion of authority, and their responses are basically, “But thou must!” FSM forbid that a claimed authority ever be argued to be unjust and/or nonsense!

    • Otto

      But if it would cause a few of them to doubt……

      There is also the fun of calling bullshit bullshit…;)

    • Silverwolf13

      The Southern Baptists send missionaries to convert the heathens of other Baptist sects in the pagan wilds of Michigan.

      • Pofarmer

        That’s actually what caused the split here.

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        My phone’s just lucky I wasn’t drinking anything XD

    • wtfwjtd

      Interactions with people on topics such as this are not necessarily pointless. I’m reminded of the time when I was a younger man, and had a job as a licensed life insurance agent. A few years after this, I was visited by a life insurance agent from another company, who was fresh out of school and just *knew* what I and my wife needed (he had no knowledge of my background, and I didn’t bother filling him in). Anyway, I could have sent the guy packing, but…decided to invite him in, and see just how well he knew his stuff. We sat down, and after about 45 minutes or so, I had the poor guy so tied up in knots that he left muttering and talking to himself(literally). Mind you, I wasn’t rude, or blusterous, and in fact, our conversation was downright cordial and polite at all times. I just happened to know the right (wrong?) questions to ask, and just when to ask them, during his presentation, and he had no reasonable answers to my inquiries. I basically handed his ass to him; he got a hard lesson that selling life insurance is tough business, especially if you don’t know your own business and exactly what it is that you are trying to sell. And if you don’t fully believe in what you are selling, it’s nearly impossible to be convincing enough to get other people to buy in.

      That’s my basic approach to Christian sales pitches these days. Sometimes, you are in the mood, other times, you’re not. But I try and keep and open mind, and I have a habit of asking tough questions at just the wrong time. Interacting with Christian salesmen help me refine my questions, and simplify my responses. And I always work hard to be cordial and polite, my goal is not to convince people of anything, but to get them thinking about things and what it is that they are peddling.
      I’ve always wondered about that life insurance salesman. Did he keep selling what he was selling? Did he change his approach? I don’t know. I do know this–had he been able to come up with clear, rational, and well-reasoned explanations to my questions, I would have accepted them and possibly changed my thinking. I’m not interested in excuses, or platitudes, or just any old answer–I’m looking for a correct answer, one that’s well-reasoned, fits the facts, and is supported by the available evidence. And even though this courtesy is rarely (if ever) reciprocated, I keep looking. I really am interested in finding the truth, even though many of the Christians I interact with are not.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      There’s no capital ‘L’ or any of those other letters in ‘shit’.

  • I always invoke Troy in response to this. Historians didn’t believe Troy existed until Schliemann discovered its ruins in the late 1800s, which means…

    The Iliad was right! Therefore Zeus and the rest of the pantheon must be real!