Fallible Memories and the Development of Legend

Fallible Memories and the Development of Legend November 12, 2014

memory legend ChristianA few years ago, a writer colleague told me an amazing personal story about the fallibility of memory. He was in high school some 40 years earlier, and one day the creek behind his school flooded after heavy rain. He and some classmates jumped in and rode the river downstream.

Unfortunately, a hidden branch caught his collar and pulled him under the rushing water, and he wasn’t able to disentangle himself. It might have been a sad day for our hero but for a nearby girl who was able to yank him free.

Decades later, an anthology of stories from those days was put together and the female classmate wrote the story of the impromptu trip down the river, but in her version, he saved her!

There’s a big difference between a vivid memory and an accurate one. This fact is too often forgotten when apologists argue that the gospel story made it intact through 40 years of oral history. If you saw a man raised from the dead, they say, wouldn’t you remember that with crystal clarify?

You might indeed have a vivid or even a confident memory of something, but we can’t be sure it was accurate.

Example 2: Challenger memory experiment (1992)

The day after the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986, a professor ask 106 freshmen students to fill out a questionnaire with details of their perception of the event—where they were, what they were doing, when it happened, and so on. Two and a half years later, he re-surveyed many of those students with the same questionnaire, also asking how confident they were with each of their answers.

Taking the original set of answers as correct, the accuracy of the answers scored 42%, but the students’ average confidence in the accuracy was 83%. Here again, these vivid memories weren’t especially accurate.

(I certainly remember what I was doing when I heard the news of the explosion. Well, at least I think I do …)

Once the questionnaires were answered, the professor showed the students their original answers, but many stuck with their current answers. One student even declared, “That’s my handwriting, but that’s not what happened.”

This challenges the popular flashbulb memory model that “high emotional arousal, in conjunction with surprise, stress, and significance, will produce a vivid, accurate memory of the moment someone learns of an event.”

Example 3: What Jennifer saw

Jennifer Thompson was raped one July night in 1984. She took careful mental notes of the characteristics of her attacker and felt confident when she picked Ronald Cotton out of a lineup. On little more than her testimony, Cotton was convicted.

After more than ten years in prison, DNA evidence cleared Cotton. Thompson had been wrong. Eyewitness testimony is simply not especially reliable.

Thompson and Cotton have reconciled, have written a book together about forgiveness and the unreliability of memory, and have made presentations together.

(I’ve also written about the search for Miss Ames and what it reveals about confident memories here.)

Other examples

People’s stories are unreliable for lots of reasons including poor memory and self-delusion.

  • Hundreds of “heroes” who claim to have won the Medal of Honor actually haven’t, and a Library of Congress project to document veterans’ personal war stories is full of errors, including false military rank and false claims of being a prisoner of war.
  • During the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan repeatedly told a story about a heroic World War II bomber pilot that actually came from the 1944 film, “A Wing and a Prayer,” and Hillary Clinton’s account of a frightening 1996 landing in Bosnia under enemy fire wasn’t the way others remembered it.
  • You’d think that records and memories of U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific in the 1940s and 50s would be trustworthy, but a project to document this history has run into biased accounts and incorrect memories.
  • Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, but there are already competing accounts about how it happened.

We’re all familiar with these kinds of problems. We all likely remember times when our own vivid memories have crashed into embarrassing and incontrovertible facts. Researchers have identified many specific memory errors including source confusion (the problem in the floating-down-the-river story above or with Reagan’s confusion about the film), suggestibility (accepting others’ erroneous suggestions), bias (changing the past to make it more like today or to heighten the differences), transience (forgetting over time), false memories (false histories implanted as memories), and more.

You can write a gospel, too!

Commenter Richard Russell proposes this challenge to simulate the difficulty of being the author of a gospel 40 years after the Resurrection. Think about an important event from our society 40 years ago that would be easy to fact check—say the U.S. presidential election of 1972. Who were the candidates, and who won the party nominations? What were the major issues, what were the party platforms, and what was each candidate’s position? What major gaffes or successes did each have? What current events affected the election? Feel free to consult your friends but use memories only and no media or written sources.

Take your time and write it all down in order. Now compare it to what really happened. How well did you do?

This thought experiment only begins to highlight the difficulty because even though you didn’t consult authoritative sources, we brush up against those sources continually. We hear dozens of incidental clues each year about Johnson or Nixon or Vietnam, and these help keep our memories from straying. Gospel authors would’ve had no such help.


Christians like to claim eyewitness testimony, but what use is that claim? In the first place, there are few clues that the gospels were composed from nothing but eyewitness testimony (more here and here), and in the second, eyewitness testimony is unreliable. The argument for historical reliability is built on sand.

If you’re a black Christian,
you have a real short memory.
— Chris Rock

Photo credit: Martina Yach

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  • ElderMusician

    Much truth in what you say about memory. I have written a series of short stories involving me and my friends from years ago, and when these friends read my stories, they often comment that “this isn’t the way I remember it.” And we are both right about that. As I wrote in one story: “For what else is the purpose of our memory, but to correct the minor inaccuracies of reality?” g

  • JohnH2

    Given that the New Testament highlights in particular one of the early divisions of understanding of Christ and what he did, and mentions a few more; and that the highlighted division is at the level of the Apostles, I think it is safe to say that even if we did have Gospels written by each of the Apostles, and they were somehow verified to be by them, they would still probably be all over the place depending on their backgrounds, when they were written, and in what areas of the world the Apostle had been preaching in the intervening time. It would not actually be surprising to me if both the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of John were by the Apostle to whom they are attributed.

    • That’s a very good point. Paul’s epistles are partly about him fighting with Peter and the disciples, whom one would think had more authority as, in the story, they actually *knew* Jesus personally (one was even his brother supposedly). Yet Paul has no compunction at gainsaying them. Odd, that.

      • wtfwjtd

        I too always found it strange that we find Paul admitting he knew of no miracles that Jesus performed, and then pivoting to lecture Peter, James, and possibly other apostles who were actually with Jesus on what Jesus actually meant in some of his teachings. Almost like it was all made up, or something.

        • But keep in mind that we don’t start with the gospels story as, well, gospel and then compare Paul with it. That is, we don’t say that Paul was wrong because he didn’t match up to the correct standard, the gospels. And vice versa: the gospels aren’t wrong because they have a different take than the correct standard, Paul.

          I’d say that the entire mess is unreliable. QED.

        • wtfwjtd

          And how could it be, if as many apologists claim, that the gospels were written before Paul’s letters, and yet he appears totally and completely unaware of them? I mean, you’d think when he was bagging on Peter, ol’ Pete would just tell him to read the real story, and get his facts straight before going off on a tangent. But no, it’s like neither one of them was aware of any writings about an earthly Jesus at all…

        • there do seem to be a lot of possibilities.

        • Yes, it does raise many questions.

        • wtfwjtd

          Exactly. Ol’ Paul, arrogant and smug as he was, claimed he knew as much about Jesus as any “super apostle”. Now, just how could that be, if he never even met the man in the flesh, like the others supposedly had? And the others had not just met him, but spent years doing the hippie camp-out thing with him. And Paul claims to know more about the man than they did? I mean, come on, could we please be serious for a minute? This is either the ravings of a delusional, crazy man, or maybe…

        • Paul said he “appeared” to them, and some 500 others. Likely he “appeared” in the same way as Paul’s vision. Obviously, Paul thought his vision was better.

        • Kodie

          And Paul claims to know more about the man than they did? I mean, come
          on, could we please be serious for a minute? This is either the ravings
          of a delusional, crazy man, or maybe…

          You’re making Paul sound like any other Christian.

  • KarlUdy

    There are two generally accepted facts about memory:
    1) It is reliable enough that we generally trust it most of the time
    2) It is wrong sometimes

    To me, it seems that the important question to ask is:
    What are the factors that make memory more or less likely to be trustworthy?

    It turns out that there are some clearly identified factors that make a considerable difference.

    As for Richard Russell’s challenge. It would more closely match the gospel accounts if the authors were required to be people who were actively involved in the 1972 election campaign. And even more closely matched if those people had continued in a career of explaining that election campaign to others over the intervening 40 years.

    • MNb

      “It is reliable enough that we generally trust it most of the time”
      Thanks for admitting that you reject science as well when its results don’t suit you. You just have reinforced the inductive argument against the accommodation of science and belief.


      But that’s what you are a believer for.

      Hence science uses the principle


      This is why archeologists etc. (what Ken Ham calls “historical science”) work in teams.

      • KarlUdy

        Do archaeologists etc work in teams because
        a) memory is so poor as to be considered next to worthless in establishing facts
        b) memory is occasionally faulty, and the importance of establishing facts in this particular endeavour is great enough that checks and balances are introduced to negate the occasional faulty nature of memory?

        • MNb

          False dichotomy. Archeology can’t afford either. Which means that archeologists DON’T generally trust memory all of the time and that was what you wrote. They generally NEVER trust human memory.
          Contradicting this means rejecting the scientific method. BobS’ conclusion in this article is simply correct according to science.

        • Kodie

          From what I understand, most of your arguments rely on whether they can have happened, like your belief that demons can cause diseases because we haven’t done enough research to prove they haven’t. That’s still on the table for you, and so is Jesus. Your faith is in a shred of hope that there is more than just this reality, which is another way of saying “wishful thinking.”

    • katta

      The gospels where written only from hearsay, as no writer actually where there or knew Jesus.

      • KarlUdy

        And how do you know this?

        • wtfwjtd

          We’ve been over this a hundred times before Karl, but here’s a short refresher course for you:


          Not written by an eyewitness, but by an anonymous author decades after the alleged event = hearsay by any reasonable definition. Simple, no?

        • KarlUdy

          You infer so much from so little. The gospels do not have the name of the author within the text, but this does not mean that the document was truly anonymous. Standard practice with papyrii was to label them on the outside or with tags. This would be a natural place to find the author noted if it were not were not in the text.

          And yet you infer that the author is both anonymous and not an eye-witness because their name is not explicitly mentioned in the text. That you present your point so forcefully must prove you are right … or maybe not.

        • wtfwjtd

          I infer so much from so little? That’s rich, Karl…
          Anyway, I can’t name a single non-religious historian, or even a religious one for that matter, that would claim we can know the authorship of the gospels beyond reasonable dispute. No one with any kind of reputation to protect would make such a bold, foolish (and evidence-less) claim, and who could blame them?
          You’re the one that seems to think the inclusion, or lack thereof, of an author’s name within an ancient text is the only criteria for determining authorship, not me. There’s plenty of clues contained within the gospel stories themselves that let us know that they aren’t eyewitness accounts, and some–the book of Luke comes to mind– even state this outright. Various other clues are easily picked out, like the famous garden scene with Jesus praying by himself, third person narration, basic geographical errors, and so on. I could go on, but this is enough for now.

        • Greg G.

          The epistles are not about an itinerant preacher from Nazareth. We can identify the sources the author of Mark used to create practically every passage so his story isn’t about an actual itinerant preacher from Nazareth either. Two of the other gospels relied heavily on Mark in textual form and the other used some of Mark’s stories as well. Even some of the more plausible stories in Mark seem improbable.

        • katta

          The first officially mention of Markus as the author was in the churchhistory of Eusebius of Caesarea who quoted the bishop Paipias of Hirapolis from 120 AD, saying that Markus was just an interpreter for Paulus.

          Sry for my english, its my second language

        • Pofarmer

          A lot of apologetics “evidence” conveniwntly rears it’s head around the time of Eusebius.

    • RichardSRussell

      No analogy is perfect, otherwise we’d call it a “description”.

    • smrnda

      In terms of the factors, got any citations for the research on what makes these more credible? There may be information that I might be privy to (like what happened at work yesterday) that is not open to the general public, but this doesn’t make my memory more reliable. I’d really suggest looking at the research here. There aren’t any such factors.

      On 1, when do we trust it? And for what?

      If I identify some random person on the street and say “I saw that person order a drink at this cafe” people won’t be as demanding as if I said ‘that was the person who robbed the bank at gunpoint and shot a few people.’ For the latter, we’d probably want some forensic evidence.

  • Without Malice

    One of the great misadventures of my youth took place one particularly stormy November day in 1960. My friend Mark and I were standing in his backyard watching the drainage ditch behind his house flow by like the Mississippi at flood tide. “Let’s build a raft,” I said.
    “A raft?”
    “Yeah, I bet we could make it all the way to the river; maybe even the ocean.”
    Now it just so happened that Mark’s dad had a lumber pile in the backyard. We rounded up a couple of hammers and some nails and before you could say Huck Finn we had us a raft. We lugged it over to the edge of the ditch. It weighed a ton.
    “Don’t you think it’s kind of heavy to float?” Mark said.
    “No. Everyone knows wood floats. The more wood the better it’ll float.”
    “Oh, OK.”
    We dragged it down the embankment, put all our backs into it and tossed it into the ditch. It floated. We jumped on. Damn thing sank like it had been bombed by the Japanese. We scrambled ashore before we were drowned in the current and pulled the raft back out when it bobbed to the top. We’re soaked, muddy, laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. “My dad’s going to kill me,” Mark said.
    “Oh, damn, look at the time,” I said, “I better get home.”
    Now Mark might remember it a little differently, and I don’t really remember the exact dialogue, or even if it really was November instead of October or December. Hell, it may not have even been in 1960. But I do know my friend Mark and I built a raft one rainy day and that it sank when we jumped on it. I also know that after over 50 years that if Mark and I were to compare notes we probably wouldn’t differ one iota on the major particulars of the story that is of no importance whatever.
    The trouble with the gospels is that they weren’t written by people who may have had a little different memory of a very important event but by people who never met the major players they were writing about. Not only had they never met Jesus, they obviously had never met anyone who did know him or else their stories would not be so different. I think it’s quite obvious that the authors were just making things up as they went along, with Luke and Matthew using Mark as a starting point and adding whatever made-up details to the story that fit their particular beliefs. Nor do I think the gospels were written within forty years of the death of Jesus (if he actually lived). If they were written before the second century they almost certainly would have been mention in the Didache and it wouldn’t have taken until the middle of the second century for them to be named and quoted from.

    • they obviously had never met anyone who did know him or else their stories would not be so different.

      The eyewitness argument loses steam when you realize how much of Mark that Matthew and Luke took. If they were eyewitnesses (Luke admits that he isn’t), they wouldn’t have wanted to copy some other guy’s version.

      Nor do I think the gospels were written within forty years of the death of Jesus

      Robert Price is one scholar who is skeptical of this. He argues for 2nd century authorship for all of the canonical gospels.

      it wouldn’t have taken until the middle of the second century for them to be named and quoted from.

      Papias in around 120 is said to have noted the authorship of at least the gospel of Mark (Matthew and others as well?), but we have a tenuous chain of custody back to the original.

      • Without Malice

        I hold anything to be supposedly written by Papias or other early church fathers to be about as trustworthy as the Didascalia or the Donation of Constantine. The early church was a factory for he production of forgeries of all kinds. Luke, for example, implies that there are many gospels already before he, for some reason, takes upon himself the task of writing one for one particular person. Why not just send his copies of the others if they were so abundant? And if he’s done original research why then does he use so much of Mark instead of using his own words to convey the same message? It’s all very suspicious.

        • Agreed. The trick is finding arguments that will bring the Christian up short and encourage him to question his beliefs. Or at least stop using some particular flawed argument.

        • Brian

          My little brother believes that god inspired all books of the bible, including the ones he doesn’t believe in, because god wants people to figure out the right ones.

          He doesn’t seem to put much consideration into the notion that that means that god intentionally wasted a lot of peoples’ time by inspiring false gospels.

        • That’s the trickster god thinking of people who say that God put fossils in the ground or red-shifted light coming from galaxies to trick us and make faith harder to have.

          I don’t have much use for claims like that.

        • Brian

          Me neither, though in my brother’s case he uses it as a way to hold onto the notion that nobody’s actually wrong in their opinions of god.

        • So then all roads lead to God? If his belief is as benign and accepting as this, perhaps the silver lining is that there’s not much harm in it.

        • Brian

          It’s true that it’s harmless, and as I’ve said to him before, I wish more people believed the way he did, because he doesn’t think his christianity even calls for proselytizing (with exceptions being when he thinks he’s got something that will either stump me, or which I will find convincing).

          I’m mostly annoyed at the intellectual tricks needed to get him to literally say all religious belief is true, even explicit references to the “raccoon pooped out the universe” style beliefs. 🙂

        • the “raccoon pooped out the universe” style beliefs.

          … or God did.


    • wtfwjtd

      Thanks for the entertaining tale! I recall a similar event from my youth, only it was my younger brother who got aboard the raft in a sink hole that was full of water after a heavy rain. He was smaller and lighter than us, and so the raft didn’t sink with him aboard; that is, not until he was near the middle where the water was deepest, and then the damned thing started slowly going under! He made it back to shore safely, but we still get a good laugh about that crazy incident even now. I wonder how his recall of the details of that event would compare to mine? Hmmm….

  • Bradley Bowen

    “Researchers have identified many specific memory errors including source confusion (the problem in the floating-down-the-river story above or with Reagan’s confusion about the film), suggestibility (accepting others’ erroneous suggestions), bias (changing the past to make it more like today or to heighten the differences), transience (forgetting over time), false memories (false histories implanted as memories), and more.”

    Great point!

    The case for skepticism can and should be grounded in solid scientific facts and theories about human thinking and behavior.

    Another point for skepticism comes from psychological research showing that lying and deception are very common behaviors for human beings, starting at at least 2 years of age, increasing at 3 years, and being quite frequent and common for teenagers, college students, and adults.

    Here is a discussion of an interesting study of very young children and their inclination to lie:


    • MNb

      “lying and deception are very common behaviors for human beings”
      That doesn’t really apply here. One huge problem for us modern people from the 21st Century is that we are obsessed by separating fact from fiction. The authors from Antiquity explicetely weren’t. They weren’t lying or deceiving when they wrote down their stories, even when they were made up. If we want to determine what happened this is crucial.

  • smrnda

    Another issue. My father was once shocked that I did not remember certain events from my childhood, in fact I’d forgotten entire countries I’d been to and had zero recall of the events. But I might have been 7 at the time. Of course, my father claimed to remember events from this time in his life, but it’s more likely that he’s remembering what his parents told him, and this is what the research suggests.

  • Yonah

    Let me get this straight: You are a programmer, and you actually think that Christian memory is built to make a scrapbook? This calls to mind the commercial where the old lady is posting photos to an actual wall….and another old lady rudely informs: “that’s not how it works”.

    • 90Lew90

      He just don’t geddit? That’s not how it works.

      • Yonah

        Yeah, the antithesis of atheism is Vacation Bible School a la Proverbs 22:6.

        • MNb

          Exactly! Religious folks indoctrinate kids as young as possible. I atheist let my son decide for himself, which he did when was about 13. After spending three years on a catholic school and three on an islamic one, with a religious mother (all of the liberal kind) he became an atheist. Only thén he began to question me.

        • Yonah

          Most nakedly (I made up a word), authentic Judaism and Christianity are malware upon the Greco-Roman Tradition of which atheism is the apex of. Virus is us.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

        • Yonah

          It worked for my kid. She’s doing God’s work in social work with profoundly challenged folks.

        • Dys

          Humanism is a wonderful thing. And doesn’t require any belief in any gods whatsoever.

        • Yonah

          Humanism is not a thing. It is an agenda rooted in a value to act to de-thingafy humanity. That there are great forces of the opposite value produces a great contest which when push comes to shove calls upon the Humanist with the question of how far he/she is going to go with the agenda. For the ultimate question is which value shall win. Won’t you die today…even for a Christian?

          Do tell me when Atheist Family Services opens.

        • Dys

          Do tell me when Atheist Family Services opens.

          *Yawn* Spoken like someone who doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s yammering about, but would prefer to make cheap, uneducated digs at the opposition. If you’re going to be dismissively condescending, couldn’t you at least make the effort to be intelligent and about it?

          As an atheist is merely a person who doesn’t believe in any gods, you aren’t going to see any Atheist Family Services. That being said, there are plenty of secular family services available.

        • Yonah

          Well, yes. Many Jews and Christians work in secular family services, and in doing so, with a very particular agenda. Why does Bernie Sanders do what he does in the secular Congress? Ah, but I digress.

          In contrast, you actually said, “an atheist is merely a person who doesn’t believe in any gods”.

          Well. There is Mere Christianity, and then there is Mere Atheism. Let the homeless person choose among them. As my farmer father-in-law would say, “You just pooped in you own hat.”

        • Dys

          Many Jews and Christians work in secular family services, and in doing so, with a very particular agenda.

          As do atheists and those of other faiths. But apparently you’re still missing the point in my comment, and the problem with your previous “atheist family services” dig.

          There is Mere Christianity, and then there is Mere Atheism. Let the homeless person choose among them.

          So your response is little more than committing the exact same category error as before. Disappointing.

          Your hat is already overflowing…and the overrun has apparently started to sink in. You should probably take it off.

        • Yonah

          Well, the difference between the Judeo-Christians and the atheists in social work would be the tribal agenda which is collective and targeting toward a more total address of injustice. Good atheist people are held back by the lack of community and an overarching political agenda to take on oppressors. This problem is often discussed on the Patheos atheist blogs…the failure of atheists to build community. And, this fact is a major factor in the even greater disparity between Jews/Christians and atheists in volunteer work. Hopefully, in the small town where it is only the local Methodist church that is putting on a fund raiser for a kid with cancer, the local atheists will still support it.

          There is much to reflect upon by associating “atheist” with “mere”. One should hope for more vigor out of an ism…but, what do we behold? A thought hobby.

        • MNb

          “This problem is often discussed on the Patheos atheist blogs…the failure of atheists to build community”
          Why is that a failure? I never felt the need to be part of a real life atheist community.

          “in the small town where it is only the local Methodist church that is putting on a fund raiser for a kid with cancer,”

          In the country where I live and in the country where I come from a kid with cancer doesn’t need to raise funds. The USA being the most religious one (in terms of demographics) of all secular countries but Turkey this is actually an argument against christianity. It’s not particularly strong though, because the two countries I know best clearly show that believers can be secularists, preferring governmental organization to religiously inspired charity.

        • Dys

          One should hope for more vigor out of an ism

          Only if one has tremendous difficulty grasping the basic notion of atheism at all. And based on your continued category errors when it comes to contrasting Christianity and atheism in your little attempts at snipes, it appears you possess that difficulty.

          Atheism isn’t a worldview, ideology, or any type of system. Hence it lacks the vigor you apparently expect out of an -ism. Of course, theism itself has the exact same problem. It’s merely a single stance on a single issue.

        • Kodie

          Theism is the -ism. Look up a- in the fucking dictionary.

        • Kodie

          You don’t need to pretend you’re doing the lord’s work to start a charitable organization or donate to one. I don’t know what your complaint is, other than you think the community is the thing, do you really need to pretend there’s a god in order to meet your neighbors? That’s sad.

        • Atheism has no moral position, like chemistry or physics.

          But Christianity does. And when you look at the morality in the OT, that becomes a liability.

        • Agreed. The amount spent on good works by the church in the West is insignificant compared to the amount spent by society–Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, free emergency room care, and so on.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          w/ respect, as you are the mirror of the abject fundamentalist, are you not now speaking like someone who would prefer to make cheap, digs at the opposition?

          If one’s words are no better than silence, one should keep silent. — Kwai Chang Caine

        • MNb

          Are your words better than silence?

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          good question! thx 4 keeping me honest.

          Simon & Garfunkel – The
          Sounds of Silence


        • Dys

          But I’m not the mirror of an abject fundamentalist at all (unless I’ve mistaken your intent with the comment), and I don’t think such an evaluation of what I’ve said can be rationally supported. Yonah’s summary of me is based on little more than his own wishful thinking, as he’s now responded to me with paragraphs on things I’ve never said nor implied.

          I’m perfectly capable of acting hypocritically occasionally on the point you raised, but not in the comment you’re responding to. Yonah clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to his little disparaging comments on atheism. I’m merely pointing that fact out, as it bears correction on his part.

        • MNb

          “the question of whether it was physical, not over whether it was historical.”
          “Humanism is not a thing.”
          Apologetics by means of semantics is the lamest apologetics of all.

        • Kodie

          What the fuck are you talking about? Perceiving the universe as a battle between good and evil, and imagining yourself as necessary element to this epic story is the most arrogant motive for charity I’ve ever heard. Just do the right thing. So easy. And it’s funny you don’t think your religion is a political scam.

    • I’m not sure what your concern is. Please restate with more words.

      • Yonah

        You always say that, lol. But, then again: Christianity never intended to be clear or predisposed to restatement on demand to those outside, but especially in the early days, just the opposite. Uh, like “You must be born again.” What does that mean?

        Again. An ensign: Proverbs 22:6. Memory goes forward, not backwards. Yeah, it’s math.

        • Ah–got it. If you have no intention of being understood then I won’t bother trying to understand.

          You’re just like Jesus: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          yes! true! w/ respect what is the prob w/ that?

        • If you’re a Gnostic, no, I guess not. It’s a problem for the conventional Christian, though.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          respectfully what is a ‘conventional Christian’ and why is ‘ you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’ a problem for them?

        • Christianity as a mystery religion works for Gnosticism, but not for most Christians.

        • Dys

          So basically you’re saying it’s intentionally vague and misleading except for those that buy into it. But we know that not even Christians can unanimously agree on what it means, so that kind of renders the outsiders argument moot.

          Not sure why you’re going with the “get ’em while they’re young” verse – it’s what Christians generally use to justify indoctrinating children with superstition.

        • Yonah

          I think it would be more accurate to say “naturally vague and misleading” for those on the outside. For those on the inside, it’s just plain mysterious. The “superstition” (the faith) is given credit, as to its genesis in human beings, to the the Holy Spirit…often through unpredictable paths. Thus there is a faith about the faith…that it’s instigated by the Holy Spirit. The degree of disorientation of those on the outside is no doubt due to the particular messings with and head fakes imposed by the Spirit whenever wherever. But, the interesting thing to me about this blog is why it is assumed that the Judeo-Christian tradition is concerned or should be that some might charge a lack of capacity to provide or prove some standard of accuracy of historicity…when, in fact, the purpose of historical narrative in the Tradition is to effect not a belief in accuracy, but a standard and actual manifestation of certain concrete behaviors, actions, and political agenda. Really? You think we are only worried about getting our scrapbook laid out just so? Is that why the Soviets tried to kill JPII?

        • Dys

          I think the inclination to create a split between those on the outside of the faith and those on the inside is merely a defensive mechanism to to allow the casual dismissal of critical examination. It also provides the standard ego boost one gets from having convinced oneself that they’re ‘in the know’ and know what’s ‘really’ going on. You see the same thing in other religions, cults, conspiracy theories, etc. It’s less to do with any actual distinction, and much more to do with convincing the adherents that they have special knowledge.

        • Yonah

          What could possibly effectively defend against critical examination in this, the most information laden of eras? Huh? It’s laughable. The Methodists are keeping secrets from you? lolololol. No. The stunning thing is that DESPITE all the critical information available to you in the plain light of day, you actually think what you think….that the Judeo-Christian tradition has a memory hobby like Uncle Leroy and his Elvis record collection. This is funny. It is funny that the Christians can pray the Lord’s Prayer every day (and Jews the Kaddish…of which the LP is a derivation), and you think it’s all about concern about historicity. Okay. It’s better for the Judeo-Christian Tradition for you to busy yourselves that way. It’s just funny that you do.

        • Dys

          I agree…it is funny that you pretend to draw a distinction between Christians understanding what the scriptures ‘really’ mean and pretending that skeptical critics are being misled by a mischievous holy spirit. The truth is that the scriptures aren’t particularly clear to anyone, which is why you have so many denominations of Christianity, and why the bible can be used to support contradictory positions.

          As for the rest of your supposed concern about historicity, you appear confused. We’re aware that some denominations of Christianity don’t adhere to literalism. But we’re also aware that a disappointingly significant number of American Christians are young earth creationists. So the notion that we’re completely misguided on this is a bit funny itself. And when it comes to the NT, just about every denomination requires literal interpretations at some point. It seems, to me at least, to be a dishonest attempt to stem legitimate criticism of the bible by means of what amounts to little more than an ad hominem based on belief.

        • Yonah

          I didn’t say squat about scripture. Ahah. An atheist turns out to be just a negative identity fundamentalist biblicist. The blog is about memory. Judeo-Christian memory has not its genesis nor its trajectory in scripture…scripture bears witness to the memory, but the memory and its agenda precedes and transcends scripture…and undoubtedly in respect to Judaism, you would have constrained Jewish texts to the OT, when such is far far from the case. But, as to competency with scripture, among mainline Christian and Jewish scholarship today there is pretty stable consensus which one can find resident across the breadth of their seminaries. If you were to take a course there, you would then find out why they, even the liberals, would snicker at you. For example, a first year seminarian can tell you at the end of the academic year how precedent memory shows up in the NT text…even with the earliest NT texts…the Pauline corpus, you see Paul utilizing/quoting established liturgy and teaching which preceded him.

          I’ll trade you charges. If I’m confused, you’re blind. Again, if you really think that your best stabbing take down of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to dither over whether Jonah really was swallowed…it is clear you did not read the book of Jonah…the sign of which Jesus directed his followers to adopt. So, if you want to spend all your time playing with the bible black box…”There was no angel at the tomb” (well, maybe there ten…you weren’t there)…cool. But, I’ll give a clue as big as the elephant in the world room. The Our Father has no historicity lecture in it. It has an agenda.

        • Dys

          An atheist turns out to be just a negative identity fundamentalist biblicist.

          You’re jumping the gun on that one. A Christian turns out to be a hasty generalizationist?

          dither over whether Jonah really was swallowed

          Of course it’s silly to dither over whether Jonah was swallowed by a fish or not. It’s obviously an invented myth. Now try telling that to the 30-40% of Christians in the US who are young earth creationists and accept it on its face as true.

          But here’s the fact – while you can pretend to dismiss the importance of historicity on the bible’s agenda, the fact remains that its agenda relies on certain things in the bible being historically true, in particular the claimed resurrection of Jesus. And one of the chief claims used as support of that event are that the gospels are, in part, based on eyewitness testimony. Thus the notion of memory as it pertains to it are relevant.

          And I’m not sure why precisely you’re accusing me of being blind…you’re the one imagining such childish things as a puckish Holy Spirit causing “disorientations” and “head fakes” among nonbelievers when it comes to bible intepretation. It’s an obvious cop-out excuse, and I labeled it properly. I also understand that not all Christians are biblical literalists. But I also understand that some of the central claims of Christianity rely on historicity.

        • Yonah

          1. lol, the main point of the book of Jonah has nothing to do with the fish. You get an F in Bible for the day.

          2. Your paragraph on historicity and the “bible’s agenda” is terribly garbled grammar which doesn’t deliver meaning. But, the Bible doesn’t have an agenda. The Bible is polyphonic and heavily edited by various communities. You stick with the fundy paradigm that Judeo-Christian memory must be confined to the Bible…even as there is some variance as to canon among communities. Today, there are four broad basic Christian communities: RC, Orthodox, Mainline Prost, Evangelical. Of these, it would only be a far right corner of the Evangelical which do not study patristics, Your problem is that you are uneducated as to all the texts which are the standard for study of Christian (and Jewish) history. So, again. You are the mirror of the abject fundamentalist who just takes one’s own read of the Bible and wings it. In contrast, the RC, Orthodox, Andglicans have a firm tradition of TRADITION before Bible. The Lutherans claim Bible alone, but lie. Truth be told, the Book of Concord functions as the guiding Tradition there. But, I’m just playing around here with a sub-point…just to reveal your non-education. The main point is your total missing of what the memory is for. “Historicity” is not history…it is the business of trying to arrive at provable history….something most Christians really are not concerned about. Perhaps the contest between the Bultmanian History of Religions movement and the Historical Jesus movement have head-faked atheists. Both sides had a valid point. Bultmann was right in showing that Christianity really doesn’t need historicity…it is the kyrygma of faith in Christ and his Kingdom of God that is the agenda. But, the Historical Jesus folk had a valid point in that, given all the advance in scholarship of biblical and extra biblical texts and archaeology, there is really more to be verified/known than what Bultmann claimed. But, then if Bultmann (and Bonhoeffer) would come back from the grave, he would say to the Hist Jesus folks…”so what? What are you going to do with it?

          So then what? You think you are going to destroy Christianity with some historicity-denying riff on the Resurrection? You’re not going to budge the conservatives. Moderates and liberals simply interpret the Resurrection spiritually/metaphorically…but, they ain’t gonna give it up. In any Christian community, there follows the main task: the agenda of actually ACTING on the faith.

          Your blindness: You think Christian memory has to do with what was. No. It has to do with what will be.

        • Dys

          1. The fact that you mistakenly believe I thought that was the point means you get an F in basic reading comprehension in this particular instance. Learn to read with a tad more discernment, and you’ll avoid making such embarrassingly simplistic mistakes in the future.

          2. My paragraph on the bible wasn’t garbled grammar at all, actually. But good job on the casual dismissal. It demonstrates that your interests tend more towards condescension than dealing with reality.

          But, the Bible doesn’t have an agenda.

          Speaking of people who deserve an F in the Bible, give yourself one for this incredibly naive and uninformed sentiment. It’s a joke. If you think this is actually true, I don’t know if there’s any hope, as you’ve apparently deluded yourself to an extraordinary degree.

          Your blindness: You think Christian memory has to do with what was. No. It has to do with what will be.

          Your blindness: that you think this is actually true. Obviously you’re completely out of step with a large segment of Christianity. Because what Christians believe will be rests quite heavily on what they believe was.

          If Christianity doesn’t need historicity, then you’ve effectively killed it off. There’s no need to repent, no need to believe in Jesus in order to be saved, because he never died for anyone’s sins, etc. You’ve effectively rendered Christianity impotent as anything other than a fantastical notion that makes some people feel better.

          Moderates and liberals simply interpret the Resurrection spiritually/metaphorically

          I know for a fact that the moderates and the liberals within Christianity still consider the resurrection historical. If you think your statement is actually true, I would suggest that you’re drastically out of step with the majority opinions within your own religion.

          I’ll also point out that one of your problems is that you’re prone to jumping to unsupported conclusions and thereby making a complete fool of yourself when conversing with others. Case in point, the entire paragraph you typed above. You prattle on about how uneducated you desperately want me to be, when I’ve not mentioned anything about my level of knowledge outside of the fundamentalist sects. Honestly, it seems you do little more than manufacture excuses for patting yourself on the back for your supposedly enlightened and sophisticated theology.

        • Yonah

          Well, if you insist. Let’s do some Bible study. Indeed. Tell me what the book of Jonah is about.

          As for the polyphonic breadth of the Bible’s various expositions, you would need to explain the nature of the many disagreements contained within the Bible…i.e. Judean culture vs. Israeli culture…or James vs. Paul…or the multi-agendas of the Priestly, Yahwist, Elohist, and Deuteronomic editors. And then you will need to explain the evolutionary character of agenda in which Torah (and God’s policy on stuff) is repeatedly revised. Now, if you want to say that the editors and compilers of the canon have an agenda, well, yes….that would be the more interesting thing to get at.

          The Resurrection, of course, for all Christians is historical. But, you do not understand the etymology of “history” and “historicity”. The disagreement between a conservative and liberal Christian on the Resurrection might be over the question of whether it was physical, not over whether it was historical. For either side, the historicity of the history of the Resurrection is not a major concern. In Christian theology, there will always be non-faith out there…and that’s normal…it is the business of the Holy Spirit to bring people to faith, and the Spirit does such on God’s own agenda. But, the more important reason why the historicity of the history of the Resurrection is not important is because the Resurrection is an ongoing reality….THAT…is the agenda that the Church is called to. This agenda is borne witness to in the New Testament. But, I would point out to you that the Church operated a couple hundred years without a New Testament text…uh, like Paul was busy doing the agenda as he wrote about it.

          Indeed, why would you allude to your vast knowledge of non-fundamentalist Christianity, when it is entirely fundamentalist Christianity that you need to formulate your atheist critique? If not, then let’s discuss the theological agenda of the book of Jonah from an atheist critique.

        • Dys

          Well, if you insist. Let’s do some Bible study. Indeed. Tell me what the book of Jonah is about

          But I didn’t insist. Your ability to read things that no one wrote is amazing. I’ve no desire to get into a discussion on the lessons of the Jonah myth. I merely pointed out that you jumped to an unsupported conclusion based on your tendency to react to what you wish had been said, rather than what was actually said.

          For either side, the historicity of the history of the Resurrection is not a major concern.

          Of course it isn’t – from within Christianity. And yet it should be, given the scant-to-nonexistent evidence for any such event ever occurring. I’d also point out that your conservative and liberal positions are still more than a bit out of touch with reality, as even many liberals insist on a physical resurrection. Honestly, it seems like you’re going out of your way to dismiss the issue of historicity altogether. And there are plenty of Christians, including non-fundamentalists, who actually place quite a bit of importance on the issue of historicity, including biblical scholars who latch onto the eyewitness claim that this article is dealing with.

          Indeed, why would you allude to your vast knowledge of non-fundamentalist Christianity

          Do you engage in hyperbole to make yourself feel better? I didn’t claim to have vast knowledge, I claimed to have knowledge. And I also chided you for making precisely these types of assumptions.

        • Yonah

          Well, well, well. What is the problem here with the book of Jonah? Is two pages really too much to read? Your reference to “myth” is indicative of your mirror fundamentalist mindset as an accusation of myth can only pertain to the brief fish part of the story which fundamentalists cherry pick as the center of the book, which it is not. The book of Jonah is a theology…and you don’t want to discuss theology because it has to do with trajectory of the Judeo-Christian agenda which you are blind to. You would rather go with the cherry picked faux factoids that fundamentalist religionists conveniently throw up to atheist fundamentalists to target. Now, that is a yawn.

          Again, you do not understand the difference between “history” and “historicity”. For example, a nice little talk by an Orthodox clergyman to non-Orthodox typically explains that Orthodox theology never seeks to prove its faith in its theology, for the theology simply assumes the faith and goes on from there in worship, prayer, and service. As to the service, this is the agenda. Father Alexander Schmemann wrote eloquently of this in his book on the Eucharist “For The Life of the World.”

          In regard to the Resurrection, what you do not understand is that whether physical or not, the Christian tradition has clear shot way over your fixation on proof as to a certain day 2000 years ago, for the Resurrection is indeed an event which is sill occurring. The Christian in opposition to Caesar today is the proof of the event.

        • Dys

          So you can’t read, and are going to simply invent my position for me. How pompous and arrogant of you. You’re merely doubling down on the same strawmanning you committed earlier. Now I’ve pointed it out again, so hopefully you’ll learn from this incredibly basic mistake, and stop making it in the future, if your ego will allow it.

          Apparently you’ve forgotten that you’re the one who brought up Jonah, and you’re the one who brought up the story of Jonah being swallowed by the fish. Then you complained when I accurately labeled that tale as a myth, and now you’re actually confirming I was correct in labeling it a myth, but that I didn’t address the rest of the actual book (which I never claimed I was going to do). In other words, the criticisms you’re attempting to lay on me are of your own invention and imagination. So yes, you really are yawn worthy.

          From wikipedia: Historicity is the historical actuality of persons and events, meaning the quality of being part of history as opposed to being a historical myth, legend, or fiction. Historicity focuses on the truth value of knowledge claims about the past (denoting historical actuality, authenticity, and factuality.)

          So I believe I’m being perfectly accurate in pointing out, once again, that whatever sophisticated theology you’re patting yourself on the back for adhering to, the fact remains that Christianity is deeply invested in the historicity of many of its claims.

          Orthodox theology never seeks to prove its faith in its theology, for the theology simply assumes the faith and goes on from there in worship, prayer, and service.

          Which is a de facto admittance that adherents do not care whether it’s actually true or not. And yet that’s not the attitude Christians tend to exhibit from a wide variety of traditions, from laymen to biblical scholars.

          The Christian in opposition to Caesar today is the proof of the event.

          Hardly. A Christian in opposition to Caesar is proof of nothing beyond itself. It says nothing whatsoever about any resurrection of any soul.

        • Yonah

          You took the bait of the big fish. It is only fundamentalists who imagine that the little part of the Jonah tale about the fish is the center of the tale. Fundamentalism is a religion unto itself…atheism is just one denomination in said religion. You imagine that “myth” here is a bad thing. It shows you are ignorant of the variety of literature in the Bible. If you were to proclaim to any mainstream seminary Bible prof that you don’t believe Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, the prof would reply, “So what? Neither do I…that’s not what the book is about.” (You could get this no doubt from a Wiki article, but it might be longer than the book of Jonah…I dunno). So, because you are a fundamentalist, the word “myth” as you apply it to the book of Jonah is accusatory or pejorative, when that simply is laughable. The book, by its literary genre, is clearly “myth” in the classic sense…or “midrash” in the Jewish sense…a story told in order to teach a theology. This story telling is a Jewish thing…it’s what Jews do. It’s what Jesus did. Your treatment of the book of Jonah would logically be duplicated to the parable of the Good Samaritan…”was there really a Good Samaritan?” lol, you’re posting photos to an actual piece of sheetrock.

          The central memory of Judaism is the contest with Pharoah in the Exodus. The central memory of Christianity is the triumph over Casesar with the Resurrection. Both memories are really at one and a present reality as they comprise an ogoing political agenda. Stormfront gets it, but you don’t. I think it is you who cannot read. For in the Our Father and its source prayer, the Kaddish, there is no fundy language about individual souls. No. It’s about the coming Kingdom…on Earth. That’s about politics…indeed, the ultimate political agenda. So, uh…you keep debating over whether there was photographic proof of the Resurrection. Your Wiki quote, in my humble opinion, should have added the implict sense that historicty is all those things it listed….in a scientifically verifiable way…which is not the stuff of faith. The Orthodox et al truly believe…even “know” the Resurrection is fact, but there is not an ounce of interest in spending time trying to arrive at some conceptual equivalent of a camera. Such is not true of the fundamentalist however. They pore over minute considerations of their little self-chosen factoids like old geezers didling with their stamp collections. Meanwhile, it’s the Black preachers out in the streets of Ferguson trying to keep the peace. I wonder why Ferguson City Council doesn’t call the Atheists…they probably figure you’re way busy with your hobby.

        • Dys

          You took the bait of the big fish. It is only fundamentalists who imagine that the little part of the Jonah tale about the fish is the center of the tale.

          You have a very overactive imagination, as you’re once again inventing things. As I said already – you brought it up, then whined that I correctly labeled it a myth, then turned around and confirmed I was correct after all. All I ever said about Jonah is that the part about the fish swallowing him was a myth. And you confirmed that I was correct. I haven’t said a single thing about it beyond that. So you’ve basically done nothing in your first paragraph beyond mental masturbation to once again childishly condescend to to someone who hasn’t said what you wanted them to say. Yet you’re pretending they did anyway in order to supply your own strawman to “win” against. If you’re that desperate to feed your ego, there are probably better ways.

          The book, by its literary genre, is clearly “myth” in the classic sense

          It’s refreshing to see a Christian who actually knows this for a change. What’s not so refreshing is that you seem to have a misguided superiority complex and poor reading comprehension. You’re not telling me anything I don’t know here. So I’m afraid your little lecture has to be chalked up as another failure on your part, based on misplaced presumptuousness.

          I think it is you who cannot read

          Considering the numerous misrepresentations and inventions you’ve committed in order to try and lord your illusory intellectual superiority over me, it’s not a surprise you think this. However, since I’ve also pointed out multiple times now the blatant errors you’re making, I think it’s safe to say that your ego is playing tricks on you in this regard.

          I wonder why Ferguson City Council doesn’t call the Atheists…they probably figure you’re way busy with your hobby.

          And a third time. Does committing the same category error over and over again do something for you? Because from my perspective, it makes you look ignorantly obstinate and inane.

          Your comments overall give the impression that you are incredibly out of step with mainstream Christianity, and even theology. Instead, you’ve adapted some sophisticated theology to escape from having the need for the religion to have any tangible basis in reality. And that’s certainly your prerogative. But no matter how you try, it remains true that however much one might like to chalk up to metaphor, there are core claims made by Christianity that are fundamentally tied to historicity. All you seem to be saying is “nuh uh” in so many words, and adopting a position that simply doesn’t actually care whether it’s true or not, as long as it seems “spiritually” true in some sense. In short, you’re building a castle in a swamp, pretending the foundation is firm, and insisting that you can stop it from sinking by just willing it to be so.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy cow, you’re a lot more patient than I am.

        • Kodie

          Jesus Christ, but you’re kind of an asshole.

        • 90Lew90

          Atheism as hobby, akin to stamp collecting. Interesting. Whereas you have something much more superior, a vocation. It could be said that a vocation is simply a hobby one has made their life’s work and draws a living from, like someone who deals in valuable stamps, or who goes in for the ministry. Enjoy your Penny Blacks.

        • Yonah

          I am not currently on any clergy roster. My wife and I simply have lay status in the United Methodist Church. My primary endeavor is my antiques business.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          So it seems that
          these four Rabbis were arguing a particularly thorny bit of Talmud. The three
          older Rabbis them were in accord against the newest Rabbi, Rabbi Cohen.

          Rabbi Cohen knew
          in his heart that his interpretation of the passage was correct, but it was
          three against one. He argued as best he could, but the three were implacable
          and he could make no headway. In desperation, he cried out to G-d to give him a
          sign to show the three that he was right.

          Just then, a
          light shone down from heaven and the voice of the almighty boomed, “Rabbi
          Cohen is right!”.

          “OK,” said one of the other Rabbis,
          “now it’s 3 to 2.”

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          respectfully the ‘we’ you refer to is ALL athiests? do ya’ll agree about…what?

        • MNb

          We atheists on this site all agree that “some denominations of christianity don’t adhere to literalism.” We atheists on this site all agree as well that “the significant number of American christians who are YECers is disappointing.” Finally we atheists on this site all agree that “when it comes to the NT, just about every denomination requires literal interpretations at some point.” Though I haste to add that some Dutch theologians (specifically Kuitert and Hendrikse) don’t even take “god” literal. But they are not representative for Dutch christians and are even considered by many to be atheists.
          So what is your problem? Dyslexic just wrote that.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          Dyslexic wrote that; ‘given my experience and readings of other atheists on this site, I’m fairly comfortable that the regulars recognize that there are
          different variations in Christian belief.
          I think You wrote a rather creedlike
          formula summarizing core statements of
          the shared beliefs of atheists on this
          site. That is very helpful to me and thx 4 the info. I have a few questions tho; when you wrote “the significant number of American christians who are YECers is disappointing.”
          what are‘YECers’and what is ‘disappointing’ you all about
          them. I’ve never heard of them.

        • MNb

          “a rather creedlike formula”
          You think wrongly. It’s not a formula, let alone creedlike. It’s just making some factual statements, based on my own observation. I have been around on this blog long enough to know the other atheists here.

          YEC is the abbrevation of Young Earth Creationism. According to polls more than 30% of the Americans accept that “worldview” – so without counting the fans of Intelligent Design. YEC being nothing more than a silly superstition at best that’s very disappointing for a highly developed and secular country like the USA. In countries like Norway more than 80% of the people accept Evolution Theory.

          “I’ve never heard of them.”
          If you’ve never heard of Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort or David Rives I wonder where you’ve spend last few years – at the bottom of a pond perhaps? I’m a Dutchman living in Suriname and I have heard of all of them.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          ‘If you’ve never heard of Ken Ham and David Rives I wonder where you’ve spend last few years – at the bottom of a pond perhaps?’

          w/ respect who are Ken Ham and David Rives? i think you are getting so trollish w/ your comment to me about the pond. i don’t deserve abuse. there is no excuse for mockery or belittleing. i shall flag you if you do it again.

        • MNb

          Go ahead. I couldn’t care less if you flag me.



          I added David Rives because he is my personal hero (this is meant sarcastically), but alas I have to admit he is the least important one.


          The greatest goof is probably Ray Comfort aka The Banana Man:


        • Kodie

          Do you think you’re not being trollish?

        • Kodie

          It’s not anything to do with “core statements” of atheism or creedlike or “shared beliefs”. It is just plain true and obvious, even for every Christian. In their case, THEY ALL like to distinguish themselves from other Christians who don’t “get it”, like Yonah is doing. And when we criticize some Christian thing, a Christian will contend that we are arguing against a ridiculous straw man and no Christians are like that, and if we really understood, and can you read this book before we can have a conversation, and then you’ll really get it, because the Christian you are complaining about is nothing to do with us. “We’re not all like that” is a common response. Christians will consider those people “not a true Christian” unless they are posting to the same site on the same thread, and then they never ever debate their differences.

          Christians love to belong to a club of people who get it, and excluding people who are fooled and don’t get it, whether they are atheists or other theists or other Christians. Many times when it is convenient for them to do so, they will claim those differences don’t matter at all, and agree on the most important part, since that is how Christians can still claim to be a majority religion.

          But it is not a core belief of atheists that some Christians are like this and others are like that. That is a stupid bullshit thing Christians think atheists are in some kind of religious belief and have a doctrine. Even Christians agree with this because it is observable.

        • Dys

          All atheists? No, of course not. I wouldn’t presume to speak for all atheists. But given my experience and readings of other atheists on this site, I’m fairly comfortable that the regulars recognize that there are different variations in Christian belief.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          i LOVE this *sighs*

          ‘The stunning thing is that DESPITE all the critical information available to you in the plain light of day, you actually think what you think….that the Judeo-Christian tradition has a memory hobby like Uncle Leroy and his Elvis record collection. ‘

        • Yonah

          And Aunt Idabelle and her damn Hummel collection. (As an antiques dealer, you wouldn’t believe how many hours I have to wait for the auctioneer to sell all that shit, one by one.)

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          *snerk! coffee spurts from nose!*

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          w/ respect, are you not ‘splitting’.

        • Dys

          Not at all. I firmly believe that Christians are perfectly capable of critical examination of their own sacred texts instead of the pandering devotional interpretations. In fact, many Christian biblical scholars are capable of it.

          The split that Yonah is insisting exists is apparently between believers that “get it” and find it all very mysterious and non believers who are supposedly being fucked with by a Holy Spirit who has nothing better to do. It’s a nonsensical belief, but it is a scriptural defense mechanism, so many Christians foolishly believe it’s an adequate response. Yonah’s answer to my reply was to delve into a plethora of non-sequiturs in order to straw-man me, such as implying that I believe that Methodists are keeping secrets from me. I can only assume he’s figuratively patting himself on the back for imagining he’s being clever.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          you are correct i think. belief in god and jesus is foolish. the wise of this world will never believe it. they don’t have to.

        • Dys

          Not really the point I was making in the comment, but ok.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          i’m sorry i missed it (your point). i really am dyslexic. i was looking at a documentary just now on youtube about leonardo da vinci. did you know he was dyslexic? also b/c he was illegitimate he was barred from learning greek and hebrew: the language everything was written in at that time (1400’s). so he was not privy to the teachings of the ancient greeks and romans. he figured that maybe they didn’t have the corner on the mkt. of higher learning & he was right! some ppl say he was the first ‘modern thinker'(whatever that means!)

        • Dys

          No problems. The point I was making is that Christians often try to create a false divide between who’s allowed to read the bible properly or not, essentially dismissing many criticisms from nonbelievers regardless of their scholarship on the issue due to not reading it right based on either a lack of holy spirit insight, or the holy spirit intentionally messing with people’s heads.

          All I was really saying is that such an excuse is an arbitrary defense mechanism, and nothing to be taken seriously.

        • louismoreaugottschalk

          i agree so much w/ this!

          What i assume or affirm is that the the
          ‘defense mechanism’ is, for some xians, a symptom of religious addiction. The reasons for this are legion and could be the basis for further more nuanced convos I think.

        • Kodie

          I think it would be more accurate to say “naturally vague and
          misleading” for those on the outside. For those on the inside, it’s just
          plain mysterious.

          On the outside, we call that “semantics.”

        • 90Lew90

          What a load of absolute fluff. Right down to the silly, false notion that “the Soviets tried to kill JPII”. Crapola.

        • Nox

          Are you saying it is not central to christianity that the things the bible describes as happening actually happened?

        • MNb

          No, far from all of them. Though I’d say that the vast majority of christians accept the Resurrection as historical.

        • Kodie

          You’re saying a religion was never meant to be understood to outsiders? Blow that out your ass. It was intended to bring anyone in that could be fooled into thinking they were in the “it” group.

        • Guest

          but kodie you are not trying to understand you are just condeming and judgeing and taking it so personally!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Who or what gave us humans the capacity to remember? Why do I remember stuff that happened & stuff, like dreams, that didn’t happen? Also, my most perplexing problem is w/ flashbacks from having p.t.s.d.: memories of trauma that are so vivid that it’s like I’m stuck in a time loop reliving them over and over and I never know what triggers them.

    • MNb

      Memory is the result of a process of cause and effect.


      • louismoreaugottschalk

        i should have been a pair of ragged claws scutteling across the floor of silent seas.~t.s.Eliot

    • Humans have memory because our ancient ancestors did. Evolution is the reason.

      As for your PTSD, I hope you’re able to get some help for that. If some sort of counseling is available to you, I hope you’ll consider that.

      • louismoreaugottschalk

        counciling has helped me so much for p.t.s.d. Also there are great books on it that has given me a handle in being able to cope. I just think as a phenomenon p.t.s.d. Is somehow trying to push us forward in our evolution. I know I would never have become as educated in psychological awareness if I hadn’t had this emotional suffering that has propelled me into a genre & society of recovery, professional healers, mystical existentialists & more.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Ren and Stimpy Sing Memories


  • Aram McLean

    It’s so true about memory. For years I was convinced that my younger brother was in the backseat when our mother spun out the car backwards over a fifteen foot cliff, we flipped onto the roof, smashed windows, but fortunately no one was hurt. I vividly remember the sound of my brother cursing in the seat behind me, crawling out the broken window together, and have told the story for over 20 years that way. Just a few weeks ago we were having a coffee and I mentioned how crazy that experience was. He told me he’d heard about it but wasn’t actually in the car. He was at his dad’s place. I couldn’t believe it. My memory refused to shift to one where he wasn’t in the car. But obviously, he really wasn’t. It was a very odd experience, to say the least.

    • Wow–awesome story. Thanks.

      • Aram McLean

        Thanks. It was weird. I mean, I’ve been wrong about things before, but this was the first time I was wrong about something I remembered so vividly in a different way. Certainly was an eye-opener.