OK, Smart Guy—YOU Tell Us What Happened

OK, Smart Guy—YOU Tell Us What Happened December 12, 2014

resurrectionI’ve written a series of posts questioning the historicity of the New Testament. In conversations with Christians, however, I’ve been asked variations of this: “Okay, smart guy: you say that you don’t see the gospel story as history. Enlighten us then—how do you explain the facts? What do you think happened?”

That’s a fair question, and I’m happy to make a claim and defend it. Even if you accept my contention that the gospel story is just legend and that the supernatural stuff didn’t happen—that the Bible is just the surviving fragments of the blog of a prescientific tribe of people who lived two to three thousand years ago—that only tells us what didn’t happen.

So what did happen? That the New Testament exists is undeniable; what explains it? Here we go.

1.   Jesus lived. The Christ Myth Theory, which argues there is insufficient evidence for a historical Jesus, is another possibility, but the simplest argument seems to be that a real man grounded the Jesus story. Lots of people in Palestine were named Yeshua, and lots of people were crucified. It’s easy to imagine legend growing on a foundation of an actual person in history.

2.   Jesus was an influential Jewish teacher who had a following. He was killed, and stories grew up about him after he died.

3.   The stories were passed from person to person orally for decades, eventually touching thousands or tens of thousands of people. Palestine was at the crossroads of many important cultures. The new religion spread quickly by evangelism and trade through the Ancient Near East, from Palestine to Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, and beyond.

4.   The stories were changed along the way. Some of this might have been inadvertent, but some was deliberate. Embellishments were added to improve the story, either to satisfy imagined or real prophecy from the Old Testament (for a Jewish audience) or to duplicate a supernatural feature of a competing Greek, Mesopotamian, or Egyptian religion (for a Gentile audience). Starting from a Jewish community that spoke Aramaic, it found a home in a far-flung community that was culturally Greek.

5.   Christianity relied initially on oral history. After decades, when it became clear that the imminent second coming wasn’t coming, the apocalyptic element of the religion was toned down, the religion settled in for the long haul, and the stories were committed to parchment. A handful of these gospels were written in the first century, including the four that made it into the New Testament. Dozens more were added in the following centuries.

6.   Some of these later gospels were benign, but others were dangerously incompatible. A Christian community that accepted one tradition might consider another community heretical, and vice versa. Church fathers wrote books against particular heresies: Irenaeus wrote against Gnosticism, Tertullian against Marcionism, and Origen against Platonism. Different philosophies were debated, and the collection of dogmas that we think of today as orthodox Christianity was hardly the obvious winner.

  • In opposition to Paul, the Ebionites saw Jesus as preaching an extension of Judaism, not a new religion. Paul himself documents this internal disagreement in the debate over circumcision (Gal. 6:12–13).
  • Other heresies fragmented the church before the Council of Nicaea—Montanism (an early kind of Pentecostalism), Nicolationism (hedonism), Antinomianism (an extreme view of salvation through faith alone), Sabellianism (Jesus and God the Father were not distinct persons but two aspects of one person), Doceticism (Jesus was only spirit, and his humanness was an illusion), Arianism (Jesus didn’t always exist but was a created being), rejection of Trinitarianism (God exists in three persons), and others. But of course these were heresies only from the standpoint of the church that eventually emerged victorious. Make different initial assumptions, and things look different.

7.   The gospels and epistles were copied over the years and modified in small and large ways to adapt to different communities’ beliefs.

8.   What we think of as the official Christian canon of books was largely fixed by the time of the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Feel free to help make this a more plausible explanation, but it is already far more plausible than accepting the gospel stories as history.

The word “belief” is a difficult thing for me.
I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis.
[If] I know a thing, then I know it.
I don’t need to believe it.
— Carl Jung

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 7/30/12.)

 Photo credit:fradaveccs

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  • wtfwjtd

    While I might quibble with you on some of the finer points here Bob, I think you’ve got a pretty good outline that’s a lot more plausible than accepting the gospel accounts as actual history. I’m not even sure I would classify the historical Jesus as “influential”–I think it would be a lot easier to make a god-man out of an obscure figure than to try and craft one out of someone who’s known far and wide.
    My personal feeling is, Paul and a few other early evangelize-rs were more like what we would call the actual founders of Christianity than Jesus himself. If Paul was actually referring to a known-to-him historical personage in his writing, he sure goes about it in an obtuse and obscure way.

  • Ozark

    I only have a small bone to pick, Bob. The council of Nicaea (the first one in 325) didn’t address the issue of canonicity of the books of the New Testament, it actually mainly revolved around Christological issues, i.e. Arianism vs. Athanasius.

    The Easter encyclical letter of 367 (I believe from Athanasius?) was the first definitive definition of the modern canon if I am not mistaken.

    • Chris Mac

      That’s correct that the Council of Nicaea did not discuss the New Testament canon. The letter from Athanasius was the merely first document that contained the 27 books that we recognize as the New Testament, so I wouldn’t say that his letter was definitive. It wasn’t til the end of the 5th century that the canon was agreed upon and there wasn’t really an official declaration until the Council of Trent in 1545.

    • I shouldn’t have said, “fixed at the Council” but “fixed by the Council.” I’ll fix that.

    • Thanks.

  • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

    Your first point really got my wheels turning with the historicity of the name. “Yeshua” is an alternate spelling of the Hebrew spelling ‘Yehoshua’ (literal meaning “Yahweh is salvation”), which was a common name that was anglicanized to ‘Joshua’. But ‘Yehoshua’ was also processed through the Greek language, and then Latin before it reached the English as ‘Jesus’ (if I understand this correctly, not all sure that I do). So I tried to follow the google trail which began with ‘Yehoshua’ in Greece, where people who worshiped Zeus received the story as that of ‘lesous’ (“Son of Zeus”), and then on to Latin-speaking Rome where it was received as ‘lesus’, but I found no article complete with the literal Latin interpretation of that word. So anyway, if the Romans named him ‘Lesus’, and this Latin spelling was later anglicanized to Jesus, then why the big flap over Francis’s legacy medal snafu? They were printed in Latin, therefore ‘Lesus’ instead of Jesus would not be an error, right? Try and google ‘lesus’ now, and papal recall of that stupid medal is all I see, very annoying. Also, how did ‘Yehoshua’ or ‘Yeshua’ also become ‘Joshua’ in English?

    • Psycho Gecko

      Yeah, the entire thing rests on some random guy with a different name doing a few things that may have slightly resembled stories of miracles after they’ve been passed down 70 or so years by people who believe that a fellow named Jesus was the son of God.

      And somehow this is considered different from believing a historical Jesus didn’t exist.

      • Pofarmer

        And that’s really the best case.

    • MNb

      “if the Romans named him ‘Lesus'”
      Do you have evidence? To me it’s more likely they named him “Iesus”. The Roman alfabet doesn’t distinguish between i and j.
      The only “Lesus” I have found is on recent withdrawn Vatican coins – not exactly compelling evidence.

      • Mudhammutt (DaveUcannotta)

        Oh fuck, it looks like the damned Internets gave me major confusion with the font that it uses! I interpreted the ‘I’ in ‘Iesous’ and ‘Iesus’ to be a lower-case ‘L’, because that’s what it looks like the way they printed it. In my opinion, fonts which don’t flare the top and bottom of the capital ‘I’ should be a capital offense! This made it particularly hard to understand what was wrong with those medals, being that they were printed in Latin.

        I know nothing of Latin other than its influence on modern language, and what I learned today that it has no ‘j’ character’. Ok, so then ‘Jesus’ is the proper anglicanization from ‘Iesus’ for how it has been pronounced.

        Whatever is true of the above, I do find it interesting how the celebrated crucified Jewish carpenter’s name never got the correct translation to ‘Joshua’ (if I understand this correctly). The literal translation from Greek ‘Iesous’ (Son of Zeus’) and ‘Iesus’ probably meant ‘Son of Juno’ to the Romans who first heard the story, not actually ‘Yahweh is Salvation’, which was the literal meaning of Yeshua or Yehoshua, anglicanized to ‘Joshua’. I thing I’m going to enjoy telling Christians that Jesus was the son of Zeus!

    • Tom Hanson

      Can’t help with the Hebrew here but I can help with the Greek and Latin. You are dealing first with Koine’ Greek which by the time of the turn of the common era was the English of the whole Hellenic worldculture. Not just Greece but the whole of the Roman Empire. Due to the success of Alexander the Great centuries before and of the Greek speaking descendants of Alexander’s generals who ruled his conquests, Greek culture spread successfully across the whole Eastern Roman Empire and beyond.
      Within Greek culture there also grew a philosophical movement today known generically as neo-Platonism among the educated (educated meaning able to read and write to some practical extent). I have not found a Greek dictionary which associates Iesous with Zeus at all. They all, all 4 of them, simply say “from Heb Yeshua,Joshua.” Where did you find that source? Not a big deal because it does not matter for your argument at all. If it IS true and anyone at the time was paying attention to etymologies In those circles, Zeus came to be not so much a god as god. A reasonable translation today would NOT be son of Zeus, but son of god, especially in a context of Christian thought. Greek had articles like “the” and “a”. Latin does not. So , as in Engish, a writer in Greek had all 3 choices: a god, the god, or simply god.
      I think you have made a mistake in your English spelling, probably due to being confused by the font used here: The letter l (lower-case ell) looks exactly like a capital I (aye). Side by side: l I.
      In English the Greek would be transliterated iesous. Greek did not have a J (pronounced something like “dg”) either. Transliteration from Greek to Latin: iesus instead of iesous. The same sounds, different alphabets.
      In classical Latin, Julius, as in Caesar, is pronounced something like youlioos. Even when the letter J came into Latin useage the spelling iulius remained a proper alternate spelling. So Dave U, you are not talking about “some random guy with a different name,” as Psycho G would have it, and MNb is spot on about the Latin but is probably still wondering where the hell Dave U got the letter L. Fonts can be tricky.
      And as to your query about : Also, how did ‘Yehoshua’ or ‘Yeshua’ also become ‘Joshua’ in English? It is a very simple linguistic process noticed by the Brothers Grimm, who were GREAT scholars. Spoken languages simplify over time. Complex, hard to speak words take more time to pronounce than words which are easy for the tongue. So things simplify as time goes by. in English Yehoshua can move to yoshua or yeshua, and a y or io can be easier said in some contexts as dgoshua (JOEshua) which is easier and faster because the back and middle of the tongue are generaly slower than the more agile tip. And Joeshua then easily becomes Jawshua and then Joshua. Shua which was once two syllables, Shu-a, at some point in English history gradually became shwa. I’m not saying that for its English pronunciation Joshua went through all of these changes nor were they in this order but similar things must have happened. We are now in the middle of the switch from 3 syllables to two. Almost everyone sometimes makes it a 3 syllable word and sometimes, depending on context, a 2 syllable word. Linguistics 101.

  • Pofarmer

    Can I play? Let me offer an alternative Thesis. Paul and some dudes in Jerusalem, mainly Cephas and James, were preaching a religion based on a crucified savior who was going to come back into the world and kick the Romans ass. Read Pauls supposed words at his trial before Herod. The Book of Revelation records the Astrological nature of this narrative. Paul never places Jesus in time or places, and non of the Pastorals do either. Paul took this message to the Gentile churches away from Palestine. Beliefs varied some probabaly based on existing local religions but they had a core set of beliefs based on a crucified savior that was going to come back and kick some ass. Jerusalem gets destroyed, bunches of people killed and the Jerusalem church is destroyed. All that’s left is the Gentile churches, with this story of a risen God/man, Son of God. In Rome, some time after the fall of Jerusalem, someone experienced in both Greek theology and prose takes up the religion and writes the book of Mark. This is the first writing including an Earthly Jesus, and, in fact, the name Jesus. Other writers/theologians pick up on the story andd change and add to it and you get Matthew, Luke, John, and Acts. You also get a boatload of other Gospel messages that get rejected as canonoical or just die oit because their followings are small. Emporer Constantine takes up the religion and it becomes the main religion in Rome, and, Bam.

    I think this theory has a lot of positives. Number one, it doesn’t rely on a long oral history being modified that we can’t access. It fits the facts of the
    Gospels being written away from Palestine, probably Rome and other outlying areas, syria, egypt. It fits what we know of the timeline of the Gospels and Paul given what is written in them. It doesn’t rely on any miracles. It works with the fact that early Christianity grew slowly, mainly among Gentiles and the poor, there are multiple resources that indicate this. Ot fits what we know of Pauls genuine epistles and the Pastorals. It fits the patterns that we have seen in religions such as Mormonism and Scientology, that are based completely on mythical, non-existant charachters. So, poke holes in it.

    • Rudy R

      “beliefs based on a crucified savior that was going to come back and kick some ass” is one of the main reasons the Christian religion caught on like wild fire. Life in those days was very harsh and unfair, especially for those on the lower rungs of the ladder, like Jesus’ followers were. The theology that Jesus preached, that is, the wicked and evil were going to receive justice here on Earth, resonated with many people that felt the evil would get away with their evil ways. And this was preached up until the Gospel of John, when it was obvious that Judgment Day was not going to happen during Jesus’ generation. But by then, the religion was spreading all over Western Asia and Europe.

      • MNb

        Actually we don’t know what Jesus preached. Greg G has gone to great lengths to show that all preaching in the Gospels are related to the OT. This is accepted by mainstream scholarship as well – I checked this.
        That’s why I maintain that Paulus played a far more important role in defining the new religion.

        • Rudy R

          I agree that we don’t know what Jesus preached, because he didn’t write anything and everything about Jesus was handed down by oral tradition. But we know what people believe he preached, and that’s what I was referring to.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, but here’s the problem with the Oral Traditions angle, the Gospels are Greek compositions with Greek forms and Greek theological ideas. They aren’t particularly Jewish or Hebrew. They were written and composed in Greek. We have the teachings of Paul, and some of the writings that dispute Paul in the Pastorals. After that, the next writings we have are the Gospels, which, once again, look like wholly Greek compositions. I don’t think you have any “changing oral traditions”, I think you have a new theology being made up out of whole cloth based on the Pauline teachings and possible some of the surviving writings from the Jerusalem Church. This has the advantage that it does require evidence we don’t have, and matches evidence we do have.

        • wtfwjtd

          The gospels have the appearance of having been written later, to fill in the “unknown life” of the new cult’s hero-savior. People want to know about the lives of their heroes, and if they don’t have the info or can’t get it, they get it anyway–usually by just making stuff up. This is certainly what the gospels look like to me. Whether the writer(s) had an actual obscure figure in mind, or just made it up out of whole cloth, isn’t a big deal to me. But I do find the study of the subject interesting, if only because I spent a good deal of my life actually believing the stories. Old habits die hard I guess.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, I suppose I spent most of my youth and young adulthood as a “Minimal historical Jesus” sort. I never could quite buy the miraculous stuff, even from a very early age. It wasn’t until I got thrown in with the “Our Lord Jesus Christ” pray the Rosary before going on a car trip, everything is a miracle hardcore Catholics that I really started studying it. And it wasn’t until I read the conflict between Ehrman and Carrier on the historical Jesus that I really got to researching it. I just happened to come down on the side of Carrier, and Helms, and Remsburg, and numerous others back to the 18th century. In interacting with McGrath, and some of the Theologians at StrangeNotions before Carriers’ book came out, I noticed that they did one thing constantly, including Ehrman, and that is read the Gospels back into the Epistles and Pastorals, rather than reading them how they are written and as what they are. You can point it out to them, and they still defend it, although without good reason, IMHO. What really frustrates me, is the sloppy thinking and denial that all the faith talk and assorted theological bullshit causes. I am one who doesn’t think Hitchens is over the top in “Religion poisons everything.” I’ve seen it. We witness it here.

        • wtfwjtd

          I recently went to a wedding, and the preacher led off with a political rant about how society was destroying marriage by changing it, blah blah blah. Strike one. Then, he pivoted and said that this marriage was a threesome–between this couple, and god would also be right there(I am NOT making this up). Ugh, gross, strike two. Then he started quote-mining, and said how the Bible is strongly pro-marriage ’cause Ecclesiastes makes some comment that “two is better than one”, blahblahblah…and I’m sitting there thinking,”who gives a shit what Ecclesiastes says, Paul says that it’s good that a man don’t marry–what about that?” Talk about making the Bible a sock puppet–sheesh–strike three.
          No, I would agree, Hitchens was not over the top at all, and this stuff just galls me a lot worse than it used to. Or, maybe I’m just paying better attention to it, but I find much of it just sounds fucking nuts to me now.

        • Pofarmer

          The last wedding I went to they went on, and, on, and on about the three braided cord thing. At the reception I just wanted to tell them, ya know, when you guys have problems forget all that ahit and concentrate on each other, but, of course, I didn’t. My SIL posted on facebook how awesome it was that their oldest daughter had just received first reconciliation, and all I can think of is “the brainwashing kicking into high gear”. These poor kids are being taught that the priest stands in for Jesus, and we know how important Jesus is, and that just opens up all kinds of avenues for control and abuse.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think you nailed it pretty good with the above statement, and it bears repeating:

          “What really frustrates me, is the sloppy thinking and denial that all the faith talk and assorted theological bullshit causes.”

          The faith talk encourages people to set aside their intellect and base their decision-making on no evidence combined with emotion, which in my experience is the worst possible basis most of the time. And yes, the brain-washing is pretty evident, once you get the kids on the “imaginary friend” bandwagon you’ve got to work hard to keep them there.

        • Pofarmer

          Let me relate a story. My SIL actually had their camper blessed by a priest before vacation. They always do a hail Mary before going anywhere, and never ever, ever miss Mass. I’m sure other people envy how Catholic they are. Now, their 19 year old daughter had a reaction to Cashews, never had a reaction before, but had a reaction in class at Junior College. Puffing up and having trouble breathing. What does she do? Calls her Mom. What does her Mom do? Drives 20 minutes to the college and then calls someone ELSE to ask what to do, and then, finally, takes her to the clinic ACROSS THE FUCKING STREET. This young woman, 19, couldn’t decide to walk across the goddamn street on her own. That’s what Faith does for you. They have 6 kids. The oldest 3 are in dead end jobs, with very little desire to improve themselves. They are a happy and close family, but it is just such a waste.

        • wtfwjtd

          You’re right, that’s just…wow. I feel for you dude, Protestantism is nuts, but I think Catholicism really doubles down on the visible crazy shit. .

        • Pofarmer

          And I can point it out to my wife, and she absolutely. Does. Not. See it. It kills me how people look up to families like that for being “better” christians. When they ought to point out they’re dissfunctional,

        • wtfwjtd

          “And I can point it out to my wife, and she absolutely. Does. Not. See it.”

          That is really hard for me to fathom, I think in some ways my wife has become more of a staunch non-believer than I am, if that’s possible.
          I’ve been wondering too, if people pass up opportunities in their lives based on their religious belief–they think they’ll play it “safe”, because they’re going to have pie-in-the-sky in their *next* life. Yeah, right. I think that realizing this is the only shot we get would change the way a lot of people think and act–for the better.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, my wife is running a 10 k tommorrow and she made sure she went to church after work tonight. I just can’t explain it. I’ve reigned her in a little bit. But very little. She agreed to read Demon Haunted World, but put it down before she read the second chapter. I’ll bring that up after Christmas. I guess when you’re raised in it, the crazy shit just seems normal, and you shut off and explain away all the stuff that isn’t confirming. We haven’t talked about religion much but nearly a year, but if she goes to her “Marian Conference”. Aka meeting for the most “devout” Catholics, then we will talk about it, because I know they talk about Apologetics stuff. After the last one she was looking up C.S. Alewis on Amazon. She’s fearful of hell, wants the approval of her family worse than she wants mine. Sometimes I feel like I’m “saving” my boys, which sounds horrible, even to me, but I absolutely do not want them to have this screwed up Catholic mindset where they see themselves as sinners needing the Church to save them.

        • wtfwjtd

          “She’s fearful of hell, wants the approval of her family worse than she wants mine.”

          Ah yes, two of the most powerful hooks in the arsenal of coercive religion. These create powerful currents, that are going to be very difficult for you to buck. I’ve been there myself, I honestly don’t know if I would have walked completely away from my religious faith if my father would have survived his illness 5 years ago. We were very close, and I just accepted the crazy religious stuff as part of the price of maintaining that relationship; I wasn’t much of a participant, but I hadn’t really taken a good hard look at it either.
          I’d say in your wife’s case, I’m guessing that she’s a lifer, and walking away from that will be a very difficult path for her. I can understand that angle too, change in my case came very slowly, and life’s circumstances had to alter significantly before I was able to take that final step. I’d also say in her case, right now she’s very conflicted, her religious teaching tells her not to be married to a non-believer, but it also tells her not to divorce, either. A very tricky path for both of you, indeed.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, she was actually pretty moderate until our youngest son came along and when she was in the Hospital with him she spent a lot of time with her superstitious go to church everyday Mom. I didn’t know it at the time, and I would have been horrified, but there were prayer groups coming to her Moms house to pray over our son. I was still religious then, and would have said that was way over the top if I knew. After they got back home full time, she started getting more involved with the church and I wanted about the same amount to do with it I’d always had, ie, not that much. It’s a long tale, and I’m sure everyone is thouroughly bored with it, but, just 5 years ago, I’d never dreamed I’d see religion as a bad thing. But religion nearly ended my marriage, and still might.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, there’s a third hook of religion–emotion. No doubt, she feels that the prayer saved your son’s life, and so feels indebted to religion–and can’t understand it when you tell her that you could just as logically curse god for making your son ill in the first place, if you are going to credit him with “saving” him. I wonder, would she feel the same about religion had your son not survived? I’d be a liar to say that watching my father hit that proverbial brick wall had no effect on me; to the contrary, watching him die was a horrifying, deeply emotional, life-altering experience. But it prompted me to do my research, and when I got to delving into the origins of Christianity, it was then that I realized with finality that it was all just bogus and made up.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, I’ve got one friend who is now pretty much Agnostic who said the deaths of his father and sister really destroyed his faith. He was apparently thinking of going into the seminary at ine point. However, he says his brothers got more religious, so that’s not a sure bet, either. We’ve had the talk about Eircs disease bing caused by God. Discussed how millions of children a year can die of starvation in a world with an all loving, all powerful god. All I know is she’s reading her Novenas before bed, and not Carl Sagan.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve witnessed that same doubling-down effect with death, that’s another thing that’s hard for me to fathom. I understand how religion seeks to exploit people when they are most vulnerable, but at some point rational thought has to come back into play somewhere, and one would think the realization that the rationalizations and excuse-making for God aren’t working any more would kick in, but…
          I think that the fear of death ties in with the same base fear of hell. Once you finally realize that is bogus, the other fears begin to drop away more or less, at least in my experience. Working with animals has been a valuable learning tool for me and others close to me when it comes to understanding and accepting the concept of life cycles and death. Maybe if you are close to someone with a farm or something, this might be a possibility for you and your wife to find a way to work with animals together? It’s those common interests and things you enjoy doing together that will save your relationship, and put you and a more positive path. The trick is figuring out what those interests are, and finding a way to do them together.

        • Pofarmer

          Pofarmer? Lol.

        • wtfwjtd

          Thought so.

        • Kodie

          I’m trying to put myself in your wife’s shoes for a minute and after having so much experience with the religious posters here, I have to say I wouldn’t change my mind to meet your approval either. And I just think from her perspective it might seem like … hard for me to find a way to put it. I think especially with a partner, you want to protect yourself from changing into them for the wrong reasons. A spouse or friend or anyone that close can have so much influence, and you don’t want to feel “influenced”. You want to make up your own damn mind – kind of like you did. You made up your own mind, your wife remains or is increasingly devout, and you make sense and she doesn’t from the outsider perspective. I just imagine she feels really confused about the information you’re trying to share with her, and why you’re trying to change her when she doesn’t want to be changed.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I suppose, at least for a while, that I felt I was owed at least an audience. After all, it was her actions which triggered my deconversion, and the hateful tendencies inherent in Catholicism. We had a deal the other day where she wanted me to bring the kids in to Church on Sat evening, and I didn’t because it was “my” weekend. She got upset and said She knew I didn’t think Church was “important”. Well, how do you explain to someone, that you don’t think it’s not “important” but you think the whole thing is harmful, and don’t believe a word of it is based on reality. Catholicism, if practiced the way the Church wants you to, really is an alternate reality, and I want none of that for my kids. So, it’s difficult.

        • Kodie

          I have come to the conclusion (for myself) that sharing a life is probably impossible. I wouldn’t even like someone if they were exactly like me, how can I suffer someone who is different, wrong, and/or wants me to change to please them. I know I need to change, but I’m anti-motivated by contests of will. I would say maybe you could, just a suggestion, maybe she could be compromised with on the church attendance. If she wants the kids to go to church and you don’t want to bring them, then she has to arrange her life to do that and not depend on you to bring them to a place you don’t want to endorse to your kids. It’s kind of a baby step. Maybe you could even get her to understand, for herself and the kids, that church attendance so often is not important. Getting her to realize they aren’t missing much if they miss a week here or there because she can’t bring them is no big deal. “God” is everywhere, church attendance is idolatry and a neurotic superstitious habit that she has. I wouldn’t put it exactly like that, but nothing bad happens if you miss church once in a while, maybe she could be convinced of that and it would be a step. I think battling her on what’s best for your kids because it’s so opposite is less ideal. It sounds like they are resisting indoctrination just fine, by your influence, but it’s like asking them who do they love more, is their mother a dummy for believing, it’s a little bit of poison, and you think she’s poisoning them, and she thinks you’re poisoning them.

          Accept the idea that some or all of your kids may be Catholic but probably more like the so-called Catholics I know – very liberal and hardly seem any more Catholic than I am unless you say there’s no god then they go berserk and make the sign of the cross and call their mother. In my experience, just because you may be giving them a good start towards skepticism and potentially a full rejection of religion and Catholicism in particular, when they’re grown and find someone to marry, religion will probably once again be a factor, and most lapsed Catholics end up returning to the church and calling themselves Catholic because it’s “good for the kids.” Think that maybe they are having a terrible experience with all this confusion between their parents and would rather submit to harmony than put their own kids through it, even if they are skeptics and disagree with their spouse on this fundamental subject. I know you probably don’t want to think about it, but there’s a good chance your grandchildren will be Catholic.

          My grandfather disowned his large Catholic family and I never knew him as a Catholic, but we were financially dependent on him so my mother never could bring us to church or tell us about god or anything – she may even be an atheist herself, she’d said so but now I don’t know. She’s rigid and judgmental in a Catholic way. My father believes, but he is not a church-goer and isn’t as far as I can tell a fundamentalist – he calls them holy rollers, he calls the Catholic church “the magic show,” etc. He was no influence whatsoever as far as religion goes, as per the agreement, but I believe he went to Presbyterian church in his upbringing. Anyway, my sister and brother both married Catholics, my sister’s divorced pretty quickly, and all their kids attend Catholic church. I don’t think my brother believes, but his wife is a peach, my sister’s ex is a dick and a half, and I don’t know what my sister believes, she seems susceptible to trite spiritual quotes on pictures of trees or mountains and a normal amount of astrology. Neither one thought it was a big deal to get married in a Catholic church, it’s just theater, so you do it.

        • I was chatting with Francis Schaefer, the Methodist guy who was removed and then reinstated recently after conducting his son’s gay wedding years ago. He’s made what seems to me (and maybe to him now) the obvious conclusions that the church/Bible are wrong on gaiety.

          But how do you get others to reach the (obvious) conclusion? How does he get his parishioners to get it, and how does Pofarmer get his wife to get it? I wish I had a simple algorithm.

        • wtfwjtd

          “…after having so much experience with the religious posters here, I have to say I wouldn’t change my mind to meet your approval either.”

          If that were the case, I don’t think she’d really be changing her mind at all. We can fake out other people for awhile, maybe years, decades even, but faking out a spouse would be just about impossible if they have any kind of working relationship at all.

          ” You want to make up your own damn mind – kind of like you did.”

          That’s it, is a nutshell–real change only comes from within ourselves; sure, outsiders can and do have some influence, but changing our minds under “the influence of influence” usually isn’t change at all. Changing our minds based on good accurate information is usually change that sticks for good. Maybe that’s why that most of the Christian posters here seem to actively seek to be dishonest and evasive–they don’t have any evidence or even good arguments for their dogmas and beliefs, so perhaps they think they can persuade people here based on emotion and appeals to fear. Maybe it works well for the religious types they are accustomed to dealing with, but that’s a mighty tough sell to this crowd.
          This is one of many reasons I don’t actively seek to change people’s minds–I only try and give relevant, honest, accurate information so they can make their own decisions on such matters. This can and does, especially,include my wife.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes, but when you try to give information, they BLOCK the information based on the source. They have been indoctrinated for so long to only trust certain sources, and anything that disagrees with those sources will leave them roasting in hell. Seeing that very thing with that 303 chap, and if Kodie nailed him as Greg, then at least a portion of them, will not learn, or cannot process the information.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve learned in life, that some people are unteachable no matter what the angle or source of information. This isn’t limited to religion, unfortunately. My wife had a co worker here a while back that was unable to learn his job, it didn’t matter how many times the correct procedure was repeated to him or how many times he was shown or told the right way to do it, in a day or two he was right back to doing the exact same stupid mistakes he’d been making all along. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? No wonder we come off as sounding angry and frustrated at times, having to repeat the same old debunked crap for the umpteenth time.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, I almost forgot. If you read the Didache, and other very early Christian writings that we have access to, THEY don’t support a historical Jesus either. Just a celestial one, or a savior one, which would have been very much in keeping with Greek God theology.

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, the Gospels almost come off as “Fan Fic”. Like some of the Starwars fanfic that dresses out more obscure characters in the plot line.

        • Greta Christina made that exact comparison. http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2007/10/08/why-religion-is/

        • Pofarmer

          And here I thought I was being original. Dang.

        • There is nothing new under the sun, as the Bible says.

        • Pofarmer

          Great minds think alike?

        • Indeed.

        • Kodie

          I’m pretty sure I made that observation (independently also) within the last 4-8 months, but maybe it was about something else but similar. I just remember calling some Christian out on something to do with fan fic.

        • Pofarmer

          Dammit, she brought up another thing in the comments, which is anti intellectualism and fear of science brought on by the Evangelicsl movement. A commenter on an ag board brought brought up how the New Exodus movie brought alive how real it must have been, and I just couldn’t help commenting. Later on, the same poster lamented that Universites aren’t teaching “both sides” of science and evolution, as if there are two valid sides. They are good people, just brainwashed for a very long time and afraid of different viewpoints.

        • wtfwjtd

          Greta is one sharp lady, I enjoyed hearing her talk at Skepticon, and would highly recommend that if you ever get the chance.

          There is no “both sides” as far as evolution is concerned, scientific consensus is more universal on this subject than virtually any other that I know of. The only place for creationism is in the “myths and legends” lit class, and maybe a comparison of religions class. But certainly, it isn’t science, and never has been.

        • I think this has been a trend in Western civilization since science began, and undermined cherished beliefs with its findings. Few people like to have those taken away.

        • Pofarmer

          And Paul, saying that the teachings were revealed to him, doesn’t need a historical Jesus at all.

    • MNb

      This is not an alternative thesis, simply because nothing what you write contradicts what BobS writes. You’re typical of JM’s: you don’t wonder if your evidence fits with a historical Jesus as well. Even less do you search for facts that are actually better explained by a historical Jesus.
      Like I have written many times: the methodology of JM sucks.
      One little fact you ignore: proto-christians (ie before 70 CE) were allowed to enter the Temple of Jerusalem. That demands explanation from JM’s.

      • Pofarmer

        paul Himself was in the temple when a riot started and the Roman Gaurds came and hauled him off. The early Christians considered themselves still Jews. I don’t see a problem. It’s not until you get to the later Gospels till you get “the curtain being torn in two” and Jesus being raised up AS the church in three days. This symbolism is probably because of the loss of the temple in Jerusalem, and the fact that christianity was expanding in places with no temples. So, it solved some theological problems.

        • MNb

          “I don’t see a problem.”
          Well, head-in-the-sands-politics is also an option.
          Fyi: the jews weren’t exactly keen on allowing gentiles to the Temple. So they allowing proto-christians worshipping a fictional ie non-jewish crucified savior demands explanation indeed. You haven’t provided any.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul was a Jew, preaching to the Gentiles. This is probably why the “Jews from Asia” started a scene, because the movement was being seen as non Jewish. Paul calls himself a Jew many times in his writings. The converts in Jerusalm proper would have also been Jews. These are the folks that Cephas and James would have been preaching to. Out in the hinterlands it wouldn’t have mattered.

        • Ozark

          I’m from the “historical Jesus would have been nearly/absolutely unrecognizable” camp myself, and I’m curious to know what evidence we actually have that the Temple admitted people proclaiming themselves “Christians” to worship at the temple is, exactly?

        • Tom Hanson

          I believe the idea was not that the people we call from a 20th-21st century perspective “Jewish Christians” or “Judaizing Christians” thought of themselves or proclaimed themselves as what we would call Christians today. They would have been Jews who thought of themselves as Jews who believed that Jesus was the expected Messiah and were staunch about Jewish customs and rituals. Robert Eisenman,( who at the time (1997) of publication of his book JAMES THE BROTHER OF JESUS was Professor of Middle Eastern Religions and Archaeology, as well as Director of the Institute for the study of Judeo-Christian Origins at California State University, Long Beach; and also Visiting Senior Member of Linacre College, Oxford University, as well as…as well as…etc) argues that the zealots in Josephus are to be identified with Jewish Christianity. The general idea being that they were leaders in the the Jewish revolt in the 70s,that the more liberal evangelizing Christians like Paul bugged out into the Hellenistic world, getting out of Judea before or early after the beginning of that revolt and thus survived; while the zealots died in the fighting or were crucified after the Fall of Jerusalem, and their women and children, those few still alive, were dispersed as slaves across the Empire leaving Pauline Christianity to spread.
          My suggestion is to buy that edition used. The book is being reissued, revised and expanded, in three volumes. Both editions are available through Amazon. Only the first and second volumes of the current edition are available in e-format. Generally more readable than most academic writing and certainly a relative best-seller with the general public for years compared to most scholarly books or no publisher would have attempted an enlarged new edition.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’d say it’s certainly possible that Paul 1)left Judea willingly, and politely took his toys and went to play somewhere else, or 2) Was ordered out, by the zealots in Jerusalem, or 3) Was forcibly thrown out by those same zealots for his heresies. However it happened, it seems likely he was expelled from the area before the big war hit, which was what enabled his brand of religion to survive.

        • Greg G.

          Whoa. Where are you getting the idea that Gentile Christians were allowed in the Temple? Paul says he had an earlier life in Judaism (Galatians 1:13) and the Jerusalem apostles insisted on circumcision (a major topic in Galatians) which indicates they were Jewish. The Christians in Jerusalem did not force Titus, a Greek, to be circumcized (Galatians 2:3) but it doesn’t mention him going to the Temple, either.

          There were Jewish Christians and there were Gentile Christians. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jewish Christian movement fell apart but the Gentile Christians happened to survive.

          See the section on Confusion of the Early Christian Scholars in How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity,.

        • wtfwjtd

          If the gospels can be relied on to any extent–a BIG “if”, I know–then there was ferocious debate going on in the Christian community about whether or not one had to effectively convert to Judaism before one could become a Christian. So you are saying then that since early Christians considered themselves Jews, then their presence in the temple wouldn’t be viewed as a problem? Kind of a “dual citizenship” thing? I guess the big rift between Paul and Peter was over this dispute, with Paul’s view ultimately winning out, eventually.

        • Pofarmer

          I was doing some reading on Vridar.org a while back and they were talking about this. Yes, it seems that there was a debate going on about if Gentiles had to convert to Judaism first. There was some kind of a deal struck in Jerusalem. At any rate, there was a later falling out with Paul “Rebuking Cephas to his face.” But, it looks like Paul actually lost that argument, and essentially got sent to the wilderness and seperated from the Jerusalem faction. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jerusalem church got wiped out, and basically all that was left was the Pauline version. I sure wish I did a better job of organizing all this info and links like Greg G. Has done. I’ve read and studied so much stuff in so many places that it’s gettimg hard to go back and find it.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, yeah, sometimes factions survive more by chance and/or accident more than anything else. If the “convert to Judaism” faction had won the day this whole Christianity thing might have just been an obscure footnote in the pages of history. It didn’t really have that much appeal among the Jews, apparently, and the only way it seems to have gained any traction was with the much wider gentile audience.

        • Pofarmer

          I am going to plug Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believers” again. The problem that Christianity had gaining a foothold among Jews was that the Jews had a long history of “Men of Notes” and had a long written history and strong “intellectual” (if you can call it that) movement already going on. It had to turn over the established order, which was very strong, to gain a foothold. Out in the hinterlands, paganism had much less intellectual muscle, so it was much easier for Christianity to take hold and grow. People were already used to believing all sorts of fantastical things, so this was just one more, with the added benefit you could go to HEAVEN! which was also a new concept.

        • I don’t think heaven was new to pagans. Actually the heaven and hell idea seems very like Greek/Roman myth, with the Elysian Fields (heaven) vs. hell (Tartarus). I’d say they were more new to the Jews, who appear to have not had them. Looking at Christian beliefs, it seems many were Greek-influenced, not surprisingly given how Jewish society had been Hellenized in many ways (with a backlash from more conservative Jews-the Hasidim actually began then).

      • Pofarmer

        See, I don’t think the evidence fits a historical Jesus. The earliest writings don’t record one, for one thing. If you seperate out by time of Authorship, you have the genuine Pauline Epistles, then the Pastorals, then the Gospels and proto-epistles. There is no mention of even Jesus, only Christ or Lord in Pauls writing, and there is literally nothing to anchor him in time or place. The few sayings Paul attribites to Jesus can easily be later interpolations from the proto-epistle period, as there’s only a small handful. Them there’s the fact that there’s no contemporary evidence, no writings the Disciples saved, nothing early at all. You don’t have any evidence for an earthly Jesus until very late, the Gospels could easily have been written 100 A.D. Or later. So, in fact, I do think the mythical argument describes some of the evidence, or lack therof, better than historicism.

      • Greg G.

        One little fact you ignore: proto-christians (ie before 70 CE) were allowed to enter the Temple of Jerusalem. That demands explanation from JM’s.

        There were many Jewish sects with many variations of beliefs. Pharisees believed in resurrection and the Sadducees did not. Some believed that there would be a Messiah. At least one sect believed the Suffering Servant that they read about in the scriptures had actually existed sometime between David’s time (SS was supposedly descended from him) and Isaiah’s time (the sect(s) read the SS as history, not as a metaphor) and at least one sect that believed that person had been resurrected and would return as a powerful Messiah. There would be no reason to restrict those sects from the Temple if they followed the Torah customs.

      • RichardSRussell

        OK, I give. What’s a “JM”?

        • wtfwjtd

          Jesus Myth(er).

        • RichardSRussell

          Ah, thanks.

          For some reason, this tickled the perverse little back-of-my-brain image of an old B&W movie where some little kid holding a lollipop begins a conversation with “Hey, mithter …”.

    • I like it. you’ve added a lot of specifics that I deliberately avoided so that mine is more watertight, with fewer attackable points. But yeah, that sounds good.

      • Pofarmer

        Well, that’s-dissapointing.

  • Rudy R

    Most antiquity historians and NT scholars (secular and non-secular) would agree with your explanation. This would probably come to a complete surprise to modern-day Christians, because their approach to the Bible is through devotional study and not through a historical-textual study.

    • MNb

      My bet is that the majority of west-european christians largely accept this scenario.

    • Tom Hanson

      Actually most Christian biblical scholars (always excepting fundamentalists)would agree with the scenario outlines. Disagreements would be in the details. They take just as much flack from fundamentalists as atheists do. Fundamentalists on the extreme right of both hard-shell and hard-baked varieties believe them to be worse than “honest atheists” and see them as crypto-atheist, or (perhaps worse in their mindset) as secret weapons of the Pope.

  • MNb

    @5: the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple triggered the writing down of the (first) Gospels. The early christians – who were actually still jews – and the pharisees had to address this shocking event and try to make sense of it. Other jewish sects, which weren’t capable of it, like the zealots (famous of the siege of Masada), just disappeared.

    • Pofarmer

      The Gospels weren’t said to be written near Palestine, though, even the early church fathers said Mark, for instance, was written in Rome.

    • Greg G.

      The Gospel of Mark was written then. But it makes the Jewish apostles look rather foolish, so I don’t think it came from them. Mark was written more along the lines of Pauline Christianity.

      Here is an essay posted within the last three weeks: How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price

      Note that this is not from the more famous Dr. Robert M. Price. He even rejects some of R. M. Price’s notions.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    Actually, the gospels are 100% accurate: all four of them. It turns out that ancient Israel was at the center of a temporal vortex, and each of the four gospel writers was from a different quantum universe. A similar, if more localized vortex opened up twenty years ago at Fox News Headquarters in New York.

  • RichardSRussell

    After decades, when it became clear that the imminent second coming wasn’t coming …

    Like the Holy Roman Empire, “the imminent second coming” is wrong in 3 different ways.

    • wtfwjtd

      An interesting point here is, Paul didn’t talk of the “second coming” or the “return of the Lord”, he always used language like “the appearing of our Lord”, or the “coming of the Lord”, as if he were waiting and expecting him to show up for the first time. The whole “second coming” seems to have been theology that’s been read back into the epistles much later,coincident with the later appearance of the gospel stories.

  • Yonah

    Bob isn’t making any sense.

    He starts out wanting to indict the historicity of the NT. Fine…a re-run, but whatever. But then he goes into a string on post NT Christian pluralities that supposedly help him on his initial indictment? Why? And, why stop at the 4th century? Pull up something snarky from Franklin Graham about a Christian competitor. Yawn.

    Again, Bob has a Bible fixation…which truncates his field of observation. His indictments need not trouble a Christian for whom Tradition (an ongoing one) trumps any individual sitting in their lazy boy pontificating to himself about what the Bible says or doesn’t say. Another way to say that is that Bob is totally unprepared to deal with a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian who says it is the Tradition of the Church which is the highest authority…not just on what to “believe”, but more importantly on what one is to do. Christianity (and Judaism) is not just a history hobby. It is a people with an agenda.

    So, another way to say this is: What happened? Well, The Church happened…despite all the pluralities, the Church happened, survived, and spread. Now each of the areas of its spreading alluded to in the post is interesting…each area has its own story there. But in regard to the western thrust of the Church…should not a smart guy have an explanation of WHY the Church was so successful in a Roman Empire so hostile to it? Why did gentile folk latch on…who led that?….why? What happened?

    As for the phrase “gospel story”…What does that mean? To “preach the Gospel” is not to teach a history lesson. What does Bob mean by “Gospel”?

    • Pofarmer

      First off, much of the hostility of the Roman Empire to the Churc is highly exagerated. Richard Carrier deals with your questions extensively in”not the impossible faith”.

      • Yonah

        Go on. Anyone can name drop.

        • Pofarmer

          Thing is, it’s over a 500 page book. You would do well to find it and read it. It really is fascinating and very well footnoted.

        • Yonah

          Go on. Tell me about it.

        • Madison Blane

          Or you could read the book yourself like an adult and fact-check his sources like someone who actually wants to learn something instead of asking to be spoonfed like a belligerent toddler.

        • Yonah

          I don’t have the time. I’m running a business, and now having gotten back into the church thing, I’m being drafted into various leadership functions (for free, lol)…suddenly I have to preach next week, and it looks like I’m going to get the childrens sermon every Sunday…which will lead to overall youth ministry, as they know I was an elementary school teacher and my wife a youth pastor. oy vey. The only reason I’m writing on this fool thang is that I need a break from selling my widgets online…including the turkeys trying to leverage a price reduction because of some made defect in the item I shipped to them. The curious thing is how you appear completely unable to summarize a book you supposedly read and think is the best thing since Pontius Pilate.

    • You’re unimpressed with something. Not quite sure what.

      Bob is totally unprepared to deal with a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Christian who says it is the Tradition of the Church which is the highest authority

      Ouch! You got me there. If someone says that they just believe stuff for no reason other than it’s tradition—the “if it’s good enough for grand-pappy, it’s good enough for me!” approach—I am rather stumped. Now, if they want to discuss actual evidence, on the other hand, I’m good.

      should not a smart guy have an explanation of WHY the Church was so successful in a Roman Empire so hostile to it?

      Why? Is that a puzzle? Can only supernatural intervention explain Christianity’s success?

      Explain why Sathya Sai Baba (who died a few years ago) had millions of acolytes—far more successful in far less time than the early Christian church. Or explain the success of any other religion. Then you’ll have some clues to how the Christian church succeeded.

      • Yonah

        Now here’s where it gets stumpier. You say “believe stuff” leaving the question to begged as to what stuff…and then there’s the problem of your Protestant syntax applied to middle east religion…as RC and Orth are closer to than Prost. You tend to go to the Bible exclusively for your “stuff” and in narrowed way of historicity evidence agenda ignoring all values based elements of what RC/Orth/Jud & similar are more apt to call practice or live or observe rather than believe. Now, Tradition is wider and deeper than thinking what granpappy thought. First, for RC & Orth, the Church itself is the Tradition…the people are the Tradition, not a thought, but flesh and blood people. The Bible is not the central source of the Tradition, but rather the Eucharist…the presence of Jesus with his people….here…now…in the Eucharist. So, your question here should be “Is the Eucharist true?” If you limit that question to some concern over element piety or status, you truncate the majority of the reality of the Eucharist in the life of those who live it. How would you test the trueness of the Eucharist conveying power to people to go out into the world to build the Kingdom of God?

        Baba who? I don’t get out much. I have no idea who you are talking about. I won’t even google-wiki fake it….I plum never heard of the dude, lol. So anyway, on one hand you count variance as a negative as to credibility, but on the other hand you count success as, at best, of neutral value. That’s a personal choice that some would not make….neither here nor there.

        Finally, it kind of amazes me that you limit your desire for evidence from events that are in the past. But, this is not the orientation of the Eucharist and the Eucharistic community which proclaims “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.”

        The Kingdom of God is not coming from the past, but from the future.

        • Blizzard

          So you mean it’s like other religions and like the “Baba” dude. Don’t truncate the majority of the reality of the Baba by not google-wiki-ing the Baba!

        • Otto

          “So, your question here should be “Is the Eucharist true?”

          Ahh, the question that ends all doubt….lol.

          What a great point….and by “great” I mean childish.

        • Pofarmer

          Jesus, if he existed, has been dead 2000 years, and he ain’t coming back. So, the only way the Eucharist can be true is metaphorically, which is an intersting concept. But, given the evil done, and still done, in the name of the Church, I don’t think it’s true metaphorically either, unless Jesus was really an asshole, which I suppose is likely as not.

        • Yonah

          What you say there goes to the apples and oranges of the situation. The “reality” of the Eucharistic community which you would interpret as “metaphore” is, however one labels it”, not something that your rules of evidence can be applied to. You can’t prove the Berlin Wall will fall before it does. You can’t prove intent before the intended deed is actually done.

        • Pofarmer

          Whut?

        • 90Lew90

          It would be helpful if half of what you write made sense.

          “You tend to go to the Bible exclusively for your “stuff” and in narrowed way of historicity evidence agenda ignoring all values based elements of what RC/Orth/Jud & similar are more apt to call practice or live or observe rather than believe.”

          Say what?! I’m not saying it’s complicated. I’m saying it’s gibberish.

        • Otto

          Sad part is I think I do know his point, but it is still mental gibbish.

        • 90Lew90

          You may think you know his point, but then again you may be mistaken, because you’re having to guess at the meaning of the gibberish. Not good for debate…

        • Otto

          It’s a Catholic type of argument meant to validate the authority of the church, and no it is not good for debate because it is circular…..and gibberish. Catholics are really good at making word salad sound decent so they can derive any meaning they care to from it.

        • 90Lew90

          It doesn’t even sound decent. It’s utter crap.

        • Otto

          As they say…apologetics isn’t meant to get people in the door, just to keep them in there.

        • Pofarmer

          This was going on on an Ag Forum that I visited recently. A poster was explaining how Catholics Don’t deify the priest, he is just “personae Cristi” standing in for Christ, he really doesn’t become Jesus. But, the priest says all these incantations and is supposed to be working miracles and such. The whole thing is so convoluted you have to keep your eye on the ball, and that is that the whole theology is based on fiction and works out from their based on fallacious reasoning. Sometimes you have to peel back some layers before you make an “aha” moment. I can see why Christians who are looking for “truth” fall for it, Catholics have a lot of fancy sounding arguments for why they do things. I don’t quite understand why a few atheists do.

        • Otto

          It is also why they want to “get em young”. Once you load that crap into a child’s head it is hard to get it out.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep, you have to get em to laugh at it. I find that humor breaks it down pretty quickly. Also showing emotion. I do get emotional about the effects that religion has on people. “Faith” can divide a husband and wife. That’s not right, in my opinion, and is just another reason I oppose the Catholic church and pretty much all their teaching.

        • Otto

          They are a criminal organization. Any fair application of the RICO statutes would have closed down that institution in the U.S.

        • Pofarmer

          Just think for a minute, if the institutional abuse had been found in a company like, say, GM, OR, let’s say the Red Cross. Can you imagine the repercussions for those organizations? I have half expected the Aussies to just chuck the church out of their country with all the stuff uncovered over there. The sad thing is, coverups and abuse are still occuring, and they will continue to occur as long as Catholics are brainwashed not to question the Church.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, the other thing, they are moving assets around and declaring dioceses bankrupt to avoid paying victims claims.

        • adam

          Harder to hit a moving target.

        • adam

          Yes, get them before they can think for themselves and they never will.

        • Greg G.

          The Eucharist? The tradition that comes from the Mithras cult?

          Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter 66:
          For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body; “and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood; “and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

          Plutarch, The Life of Pompey, Chapter 24: (first sentence)
          The power of the pirates had its seat in Cilicia at first, and at the outset it was venturesome and elusive; but it took on confidence and boldness during the Mithridatic war, because it lent itself to the king’s service.

          (last sentence)
          They also offered strange sacrifices of their own at Olympus, and celebrated there certain secret rites, among which those of Mithras continue to the present time, having been first instituted by them.

          Or are you talking about the one Mark made up by combining Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:12, which was embellished by Luke whose version was interpolated into 1 Corinthians along with some a misogynistic Pastoral section? The 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 passage is interrupted until 1 Corinthians 11:30-31.

        • Yonah

          If somebody steals my debit card, I’m concerned about what they use it for.

          The Judeo-Christian Tradition has been most creative with its “appropriations”. Like a thief in the night.

          So, however you regard the historicity of the Eucharist, it is whatever it is for those who live within it. The function and goal of the Eucharist for those who live within will remain a black box unto your rules of evidence as it all pertains to the maintenance of the community which you cannot terminate, nor the goals of that community which are yet to be achieved. That you busy yourself within an echo chamber of thought stamp collecting is a good result. It reminds me of when I did my intership in Texas, and whenever I was in downtown San Antonio there were ALWAYS these old geezers on the Alamo grounds arguing about the exact spot where the Alamo fighters died. Their old women looked unimpressed.

        • Greg G.

          So, however you regard the historicity of the Eucharist, it is whatever it is for those who live within it.

          So, all that matters to you is going through the motions of religion? You don’t care if it’s true? You have disdain for old men who care about historical facts.

        • Yonah

          Rather, I am quite confident that our truth is bigger than yours. Size matters. We can even afford to cut a little off the tip for prettiness sake…and so successful is that…that many of your mamas copied our craft onto you…and now, what can be done? You’re stuck with it.

        • “Size matters” meaning that being #1 is a clue to the truthfulness of Christianity?

        • Yonah

          More fully, the clue is in HOW one becomes first…by being last. Jesus said if anyone would be first, he must be last of all.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMEFqReRKaA

        • I need a playbill to keep up with your twists and turns.

          First is last; last is first comes from the Apocalyptic tradition, popular within Judaism beginning a couple hundred years before Christianity. It means something very specific within that tradition, and Christianity seems to have appropriated much of that.

        • Yonah

          Uh, yeah. Twists and turns is what Judaism and Christianity are all about. Ask Jacob. And, in this case, “appropriation” denotes doing it….not just running of the mouth or keyboard about it.

        • smrnda

          You say your truth is bigger, but yet your truth is also whatever it is those experiencing it, and your truth isn’t confined to questions about facts.

          Seriously, unless you are making a claim that can be evaluated as true or false, you are talking nonsense. “What is the maximum efficiency of an internal combustion engine?” has an answer. “What is the tested efficiency of this particular internal combustion engine?” has another answer, and is probably more meaningful.

          I deal with questions about the real world. I see no evidence for any other world, nor any need, and so those questions are irrelevant to me.

        • Yonah

          So, tell me.

          Is the Bible true? Yes or No.

          Since all Bible is Bible, tell me.

          Is I Corinthians 13 true? Yes or No?

        • Pofarmer

          First of all, you need to come up with a coherent definition of “true”. But my first reaction is “are you kidding me?”

          The Bible may have some truth in it, but as a whole, it is not “true”. As in “conforming to reality”.

        • Yonah

          Quite fine. Do tell me how I Corinthians 13 is not true. I like to learn.

        • Pofarmer

          I gave a stab at your question. Your turn.

        • Yonah

          What? You can’t find the text and read it? What is the problem?

        • Kodie

          No, No,

        • Yonah

          What is not true in I Corinthians 13?

        • Kodie

          All of it.

        • smrnda

          ” it is whatever it is for those who live within it.”

          If something can be anything to anyone, then it lacks any precise meaning. Even if the meaning of a film depended on the viewer, there are still factual questions about the film which can be addressed.

        • MNb

          It rather seems you are obsessed by your personal interpretation of the “middle east religion” – an ill defined term if there ever was any.

        • The Bible is not the central source of the Tradition, but rather the Eucharist…the presence of Jesus with his people….here…now…in the Eucharist.

          You make an insanely wild claim: that the eucharist magically turns into the body of a god. And your evidence? Cuz grand-pappy said. Tradition. We’ve always believed that.

          So, your question here should be “Is the Eucharist true?” If you limit that question to some concern over element piety or status, you truncate the majority of the reality of the Eucharist in the life of those who live it.

          And if “the eucharist is the body of Jesus” is built on nothing but tradition, shouldn’t this give me pause?

          How would you test the trueness of the Eucharist conveying power to people to go out into the world

          You’re saying the eucharist is important to many people? I’m sure you’re right. That’s not what we’re talking about.

          Baba who? I don’t get out much.

          Apparently not. This guy had millions of followers. Remember in Acts the small group trying to figure out who to succeed Judas? Sai Baba wins … if numbers are involved. Or, if you say that nutty beliefs can capture lots of believers, I’ll go along with that. But I wonder then what we learn from that observation.

          it kind of amazes me that you limit your desire for evidence from events that are in the past.

          Historians judging the historicity of events typically focus on those in the past. If you have a way to reliably see in the future, I’d like to hear about it.

        • Yonah

          I did not address specifics of Eucharistic piety and practice, but rather that the Eucharist is the center of religous life for the catholic Tradition (to be found beyond RC) as opposed to the Bible-centrism you assume, for some reason, should apply to all Christian denominations. Now, would I expect an indictment of the Eucharist from you? Of course…kind of. But, on the other hand, one would have to understand what the Eucharist fully is, to even understand what one is trying to indict. There is a difference of terrain between indicting a text and indicting a ritual. In this case the practice of the ritual preceded the text…as Paul stipulates when he quotes the liturgy already established before he ever wrote his first letter. But the greater difference is the “nowness” of the Eucharist…the community between God and His people that happens in the now. While one can certainly intuit your indictments of such, still, it is a different type of indictment not having to do with a discussion of whether x happened in the past, for it is an issue of what is happening now…or in your view, not happening.

          Your brief indictment thus far of the Eucharist betrays a certain pre-Vatican II geezerliness. Your description of element piety was exactly what the liturgical renewal movement in Vatican II and throughout the liturgical mainline Protesant churches over the last 50 years was designed to correct. For, in history, there are wanderings off track from home base in different epochs due to various factors and influences…and then, the need for reformations in response. The liturgical renewal movement was such a reformation…it even reached very much into Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism in regard to their own rituals. So. Your truncated concern and assumption about bread and wine (I have seen your photos mocking the Eucharist) display an amazing ignorance of the sociological purpose of the Eucharist…as the meaning of the word “liturgy” will start to teach. In the macro, the liturgical renewal movement reinstalled the community organizing principles of both the Eucharist and Baptism. While scripture alludes to Eucharist and Baptism, scripture did not generate them and the community and its ethos. But, more importantly today, the Eucharist is more the center of Christian life as source and ethos of Christian community. This has, by infrastructure, of course always been true of the RC and Orthodox…the Mass or Divine Liturgy is totally centered on the Eucharist. In the mainline Protestant liturgical churches it’s always been at least a 50/50 set up of Bible to Sacrament. The tradition there of ordaining clergy is that they are ordained as ministers of “Word and Sacrament”…as opposed to say, something like a totally Bible based Baptist group or some similar group. But, even with totatlly Bible based congregational existence, you appear to be oblivious even there as to its sociological purposes in forming and functioning as community. The civil rights movement led by MLK was a practice of holding worship meetings which doubled as organizing meetings…bluntly, getting the folk all jacked up to go out and kick The Man’s ass. This is the job of all Jewish and Christian liturgy/sacrament.

          Abraham & Sons. Kicking The Man’s ass since 1813 B.C.

        • You say Catholics value Tradition highly as well as the Bible. Yes, I get it. That’s hardly a source of reliable information.

          as opposed to the Bible-centrism you assume, for some reason, should apply to all Christian denominations.

          When the Bible says something stupid, I will happily point it out. You say you don’t care what the Bible says? Interesting—tell me more about that.

          would I expect an indictment of the Eucharist from you?

          Not what we’re talking about.

          You say that supernatural claims are decided by tradition? That’s a whopper. Tell me why I should find that argument a compelling way to understand reality.

          one would have to understand what the Eucharist fully is, to even understand what one is trying to indict.

          No, I don’t need to understand your theology to give an informed evaluation of your method of finding the truth about reality.

        • Yonah

          In the Catholic paradigm, the Tradition trumps the Bible; the Church trumps Bible…as the Church is the vehicle of salvation, not the Bible. You typically limit the field of your indictment of Christianity and Judaism to the Bible. So. I am simply pointing out to you, that to competently indict catholicism with a large C or small c or the Orthodox or Judaism, you would have to logically treat more than the Bible. I don’t think you have the education to do that….demonstrated by your cartoon impression of the Eucharist…which is the center of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity…not the Bible….as important as the Bible is to Catholicism and Orthodoxy. With Judaism, you have no knowledge of Talmud and subsequent authoritative rabbinic texts in a system which has an open canon.

          More fully, your outsidetheloopness is exemplified by your allusion to the notion of a human being finding truth. In the Judeo-Christian Tradtion, the experience is the complete opposite. The truth finds the human being…and a la Jacob, kicks the shit out of him. It kind of gets one’s attention.

        • Believing in something because it’s a church tradition is not based on evidence and therefore useless as a means of finding the truth.

          There–happy?

        • Yonah

          Again, I assert that in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, people do not find Truth, but Truth finds them. This is the self-understanding of People within the Tradition…opinions of outsiders to the contrary being beside the point to the People. So, you screwed that one up again.

          Then. To you “believe” is intellectual ascent. To the Tradition, is deed/agenda. To you, the “something” is this or that historical factoid divorced from moral agenda. To the Tradition the “something” is working for a coming Kingdom of God which defeats war/destruction of Life. To you, “tradition” is a legend-story passed generationally in an increaasingly unreliable state.To the Tradition, “Tradition” is a morality summarized by Hillel to Jesus…love of God & Neighbor set against the Pharoah-Caesar Tradition. That many times the Judeo-Christian Tradition has failed and been sucked into that it was called to stand against is obvious…this undeniable fact is the center of the prophetic tradition within the Tradition.

          Uh, within the Bible, the prophets are a good chunk…in Jewish worship, the haftarah…the prophets has its own scroll and reading. This was what Jesus was doing in the account of him reading from the book of Isaiah and commenting on it in shul. In linking himself to the prophetic tradition, Jesus was taking up moral cause of the prohetic tradition.

          So, tell me. When the prophets….their books…call for justice to the poor…

          …is the Bible true?

        • I guess that’s just me and my Greek mind shoehorning the Bible into a world of evidence where it doesn’t belong.

        • Yonah

          That sounds kind of right to me….not that I know what the “world of evidence ” is. I haven’t a clue of how the parable of the Good Samaritan would be illuminated by the world of evidence.

        • I haven’t a clue how the parable of the Good Samaritan reads differently with a Greek mindset vs. an oriental (or whatever it is) mindset.

        • Yonah

          Bu..Bu…But you said that the Bible ain’t true…that yer quite sure of it. So, what is not true about the parable of the Good Samaritan? (It is in the Bible.)

        • I said that every word in the Bible is useless? I think you’re confusing me with someone else. I just said that there’s insufficient evidence to believe the supernatural tales.

        • Yonah

          If memory serves, you’ved used the phrase “if the story of the Bible is true” or something to that effect, and you repeatedly claim that the Bible makes claims. I scratch my head on that one too, for it does not seem scientific that a compendium of disparate works arranged by editors and voted on by a council would itself have an internal brain by which to make a claim. That various human beings make claims claims about and by the Bible, yes. But, why not scientifically avail oneself of honest biblical scholars such as Walter Brueggemann who are most happy to confirm that the Bible is polyphonic.

          So, I discern here that you have in mind some unarticulated compartmentalization of supernatural and non-supernatural in the Bible. But, I question that you have the education for first, assuming tht those are the only two genres of literature in the Bible pertaining to your concerns, and second, that you would be able to come to terms with the forms of middle eastern literature from parable to midrash to pesher. For all I know, you may be mistaking hymnody and liturgical material in the Bible for so-called supernatural claims. It seems to me that you accept a fuzzy set of assumptions about what is going on in the Bible from uneducated fundamentalists…and then it’s just simply they are for those assumptions, and you are against them. And, then it would get worse. For, if we were to treat a specific text, we would have to deal with its manuscript tradition cited in Greek NT versions…the variances among the manuscripts…and then deal with the issues of transferring ideas from Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew to English.

        • MNb

          “why not ……”
          Ah – you’re just a jerk who wants to dictate a blogger what to write about. Sorry pal – BobS writes ao about “various human beings make claims claims about and by the Bible, yes”
          If you don’t like it, start your own blog. There are lots of religious channels here at Patheos. If you want to make the point that not all christians believe the same way, I have news for you. We already know.

        • why not scientifically avail oneself of honest biblical scholars such as Walter Brueggemann who are most happy to confirm that the Bible is polyphonic.

          All that to say, “We agree”? Uh, OK, that’s good to hear.

          I discern here that you have in mind some unarticulated compartmentalization of supernatural and non-supernatural in the Bible.

          Does the Bible make supernatural claims? Therein lies the problem.

          But since you already knew that, I wonder what all the blather was for.

        • adam

          What the blather was for is anybody’s guess.

        • Yonah

          You have a confused logic. To consider a text that is polyphonic, and to consider the question of whether a text is making any claims at all…supernatural or otherwise is a separate endeaveor. Then, logic or common sense would easily persuade most people that an anthology of disparate works could not make any claims at all as it has no central author with no central monolithic agenda.

          Then your question should be: How then would the Judeo-Christian Tradition even survive let alone sell? You must be missing something.

        • 90Lew90

          Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is energy.

          To engage with the myth is to become one with it. The cosmos is aglow with four-dimensional superstructures.

          Humankind has nothing to lose.

          The future will be an archetypal unfolding of stardust. This vision quest never ends. Eons from now, we dreamweavers will dream like never before as we are re-energized by the biosphere.

          Choice is the healing of stardust, and of us. The goal of superpositions of possibilities is to plant the seeds of wellbeing rather than delusion. Presence is the driver of conscious living.

          The oasis of stardust is now happening worldwide. It is in unveiling that we are recreated. We are being called to explore the solar system itself as an interface between synchronicity and love.

          As you heal, you will enter into infinite choice that transcends understanding.

          The Law of Attraction may be the solution to what’s holding you back from a powerful quantum shift of wonder. Through tarot, our essences are engulfed in choice. You will soon be reborn by a power deep within yourself — a power that is quantum, sensual.

          You must take a stand against selfishness. Where there is stagnation, passion cannot thrive. Turbulence is the antithesis of curiosity.

          http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/

        • Brilliant bullshit.

    • Greg G.

      Tradition is fun as make-believe but reality is more important. Do you know the story of the mother who was teaching her young daughter how to bake a ham. When she showed her daughter how to trim the ends, her daughter asked why. She replied that it was the way her mother taught her to do it.

      So they visited Grandma and the daughter asked why she trimmed the ends off the ham and she answered that was the way her mother had shown her.

      So they went to visit Great-Grandma. When asked why she cut the ends off the ham before baking, it. She said that the apartment they lived in had a very small oven but the hams were always too big to fit into the only pot that would fit in the oven.

      There are even worse reasons to continue a tradition. One Christmas, everything seemed to be going wrong. Santa was feeling stressed as the elves packed the sleigh but they were behind schedule. When they got it packed, the reindeer were playing games. They had to round up the reindeer and get them ready. When they started down the runway, a runner on the sleigh broke and toys were damaged.

      Santa had to get the elves back to work but they had already started the party. They were very disappointed about having more work to do.

      The elves drank all the coffee so Santa had to use an instant coffee he didn’t like. He thought making it an Irish coffee might improve it but then he discovered the elves had been in the liquor cabinet.

      Just then, there was a knock at the door. It was the Christmas Angel. She said, “Santa, I have your Christmas tree! What do you want me to do with it?”

      And that’s why we put an angel on the top of the tree to this day.

      • Yonah

        The sense of Tradition I assume can perhaps be symbolized by something Melissa Harris-Perry often talks about in her memory of her father’s teaching to her. He was active in the civil right era and taught her that no matter what ups or downs the “movement” experiences….”the struggle continues”….to this very second. Thus, the tradition is a living tradition. This is the way it is with the Judeo-Christian tradition. The struggle continues. The Tradition lives.

        • Greg G.

          The Civil Rights movement real effects. Religious tradition is doing something meaningless for the sake of doing meaningless things.

        • Yonah

          MLK & Co. was a Christian & Jewish led movement. Recently saw a PBS documentary on Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary. What I found interesting to observe is how much of the music was of Jewish & Christian roots. You see that also with Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie. Not sure about Pete Seeger…haven’t read up on him, but he was of course of the circle. Interestingly, Mary was big advocate of Jews, although not Jewish herself.

          Atheists ain’t got no songs…and they ain’t ever done shit for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

        • smrnda

          If you think atheists have no songs, it means you just don’t know much about music. You’ve listed a few well-known musicians who have been active for decades and commented that they show some Christian influence. It’s kind of hard to avoid in western culture.

          “and they ain’t ever done shit for Michael Brown and Eric Garner”

          Okay, so I never worked with the Innocence Project, I was not at numerous “Black Lives Matter” events this month I haven’t spent nearly the last 8 years doing prison literacy programs. I never documented and wrote about police abuses in several cities in the US where I lived. You’re engaging in the usual religious arrogance that since you don’t see any high profile atheists involved in causes that there aren’t any. The ordinary atheists, like myself, are simply ignored by your arrogance. Or when I participate in a secular agency, as nobody is keeping score I atheists don’t get any *points.*

          If you want people to take you seriously, don’t use ALL or NOTHING type statements. Because it either makes you sound arrogant, or incredibly ignorant. But it seems that you care more about how words sound than what they mean most of the time.

        • Yonah

          1. If you chose to, you could appreciate some humor in disagreement. “Atheists don’t have no songs” is a song by atheist Steve Martin.

          2. Which is more important?…the justice we both seek….or the sport of trying to assail religion by way of argument over history? It seems to me, that if you really want the justice effort to work, you would forgoe hostility toward religion in order to work alongside and maybe with its greater infrastructure. You don’t have to agree with Catholicism to work with Catholics on justice issues, but then again, taking a picture of yourself mocking the Eucharist tends to work against the possibility of people from different mindsets working together for a good goal.

          3. That atheism hasn’t gotten a problem solved doesn’t help the religion side of the problem. Truth is, religion hasn’t gotten much done on justice since the civil rights era. That’s an argument that I have with fellow Jews and Christians.

        • smrnda

          1. I may be too young to get that reference.

          2. I can work with different religious people. I am on the board of two organizations and we get volunteers from religious organizations and I have no problem working with them. However, when I draw comics, I openly mock anything I think deserves to be mocked, including religion. However, I do keep my art and my volunteer work quite separate for pragmatic reasons. I live in a highly secular area, so outside of the internet, being an atheist is hardly relevant to me.

          3. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. It is not a political program. However, I’ve lived in many places during my life and as far as justice, secular nations which have abandoned religion tend to do better, so I can’t think religion has much to recommend it.

        • Yonah

          Exactly. atheism has no political program. What DOES have an effective political program?

          What secualr nations? Do tell. They do better for who? If they do better for themselves, then you assume it is at no one’s expense? You do not wish to follow the money? Then, what religion are you following?…YOU are more comfortable THERE, but what of the people on the margins kept out of sight of the tourists?

          Tell me what secular nations you are talking about.

        • Kodie

          Making political decisions or programs based on fiction and fear of the imaginary is not ideal. Atheism has no single agenda or political program, but that doesn’t mean atheists can’t or don’t. Religion is a man-made construct, which means atheists can and do make constructs of political programs – ones based on reality. I think you are trying to say that religion is better because they are more organized and focused on executing their agendas – but that also doesn’t say what those agendas are, whether they are good or bad. In my observation, mostly bad, and none of the good are exclusively in the domain of theists. They believe in god, we do not find their arguments convincing, end of story on what atheism is. It is not a doctrine on anything sociological, we are here talking about it but that is not required. That means that atheists can use their disbelief to create man-made political programs like keeping the church and state separate or making sure social programs aren’t cut or diminished. It seems the political program of most of the religious is to take food away from the hungry and make sure they are paid below poverty levels, so they can pretend they are the only ones doing “good” for the needy.

        • Yonah

          I think some religion is good, and some bad. You think all religion is bad. My interest is in the question: What social oranism will effect salvation of the creation from destruction by humanity? I don’t think you have any candidates at all.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what you’re talking about anymore but it sounds pretty arrogant and ignorant.

        • (Did you mean “organism” or “onanism”?)

          Salvation isn’t a helpful concept until we establish that a judgmental god exists.

        • MR

          I thought oranism was some kind of fellatio rite of passage or something.

          His argument reminds me of something Ryan Bell was going through. “Who’s going to save us from ourselves?” To me it just sounds like an expanded version of the sin concept. We need to be ‘saved’ from our ‘sin.’

          No one promised us a perfect world—in spite of what the priests say. They want to focus on the bad things—doom and gloom, doom and gloom—and pretend that some kind of nirvana can be achieved, when really we’re slowly making our world better in many ways. Who, after all, wants to go back and live in the middle ages? We live in one of the most amazing periods of humankind, and all we can seem to do is whine.

          Yes, it’s true, we have threats looming over us, things aren’t perfect, and some have it really bad. We could be dead tomorrow from Ebola or a nuclear war and you know what? We’d be dead. Exactly like we’re going to be dead, anyway. Yeah, I hope mankind makes it through without such a catastrophe, but only ’cause I’m on his team. Millions of species have gone extinct before us, and ultimately as a species we will too. Shrug.

        • Yonah

          organism

          Again, you’re thinking Greek and fundamentalist/western personal pan pizza.

          Salvation is corporate, and it is salvation from the culture of Death to which sin leads. This is why it is confessed that salvation is salvation from sin and death. If you like, it is salvation from the world the Koch Brothers aspire to maintain….which is Death over against which the Gospel stands: the Good News of the inauguration of the King of God in Jesus wherein is eternal Life.

        • MNb

          I don’t know about you, but I don’t belong to a culture of death. And you still need to establish

          “the King of God in Jesus wherein is eternal Life.”
          whether he is Greek and fundamentalist/western or not. Moreover you haven’t shown in any way that the “Greek and fundamentalist/western personal pan pizza.”
          You only produce irrelevant theology. That you need capitals for Good News iso just modestly good news is a sure sign you’re nothing but an empty barrel making a lot of noise. What you write has less meaning than Snake Oil.

        • 90Lew90

          On the contrary.

          Consciousness consists of supercharged waveforms of quantum energy. “Quantum” means a deepening of the interstellar.

          We exist as ultrasonic energy. Wonder requires exploration.

          Soon there will be an evolving of transformation the likes of which the multiverse has never seen.

          Freedom is the growth of rejuvenation, and of us. Nothing is impossible. The goal of electromagnetic forces is to plant the seeds of spacetime rather than selfishness.

          The biosphere is overflowing with expanding wave functions. To go along the journey is to become one with it. Love is the driver of inseparability.

          Purpose is a constant. This life is nothing short of a deepening source of non-dual complexity. You and I are adventurers of the world.

          Reiki may be the solution to what’s holding you back from an unfathomable uprising of serenity.

          You must take a stand against pain. Yes, it is possible to extinguish the things that can sabotage us, but not without consciousness on our side. Selfishness is born in the gap where love has been excluded.

          We live, we exist, we are reborn. By redefining, we grow. Today, science tells us that the essence of nature is understanding.

          http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/

        • If by “Greek” thinking, you’re talking about the kind that demands evidence, well, yeah. Am I to apologize for that?

          You got something that gets us to the truth more reliably than using evidence and reason? I eagerly await.

        • Yonah

          The Greek thing in your thinking is the assumption that salvation pertains to the individual.

          The Hebraic sense of salvation is “tikkun olam” (repair of the world)

          On evidence and reason, I do not see that you have proficiency with these. For evidence is one thing and claims are another. As to the Bible…your concern…there is evidence within (of varying kinds) but not claims. People make claims. One could consider science. When the crime scene investigators go to the murder site, they collect evidence, but the blood spatters on the wall do not talk to them…even though they did to Charlie Manson.

        • Kodie

          You’re not making any sense.

        • MNb

          You still haven’t told us why “the Greek thing” is wrong. I suppose you won’t any time soon either.

          “People make claims.”
          And how does that make the Bible a reliable source of anything?

          “there is evidence within”

          Could you be bothered to actually provide some? And tell us additionally evidence of what? Of course “there is evidence within” is also a Greek thing, so apparently despite all your long boring rants it’s no so bad after all.

        • Dys

          People make claims.

          And people wrote the bible. And it contains claims, but scant to non-existent evidence for any of the supernatural occurrences it claims occurred. But I suppose you’ll just retreat from any historicity claim and insist that your Sophisticated Theology™ and claim it doesn’t really matter if they actually happened.

          The bible contains plenty of claims, and I honestly don’t understand how someone could claim otherwise. Even if you accept the unreasonable and illogical assumption that everything in the gospels was a reliable eyewitness account, there’s still a claim being made. Your attempt at an analogy to a crime scene fails, because you don’t have any blood splatters. You have highly questionable and dubious CSI report with no real chain of evidence.

        • Yonah

          You write more intelligently on this than Bob.

          Yes, the Bible does contain claims. But, the Bible as a whole does not make claims as it has no single author.

          What Bob does is simply avoid taking a specific section of the Bible for thorough analysis because he does not know how to do it. He simply says “the Bible” and namedrops some macro topic…and calls it “reason”.

          No, it’s fraud.

        • Dys

          It seems to me you’re being a bit pedantic, as there are certainly over-arching claims that encompass the entire work, regardless of the number of authors.

        • 90Lew90

          Right. So the Bible is to be taken as a whole with no single author. And the Bible is not to be taken as a whole when we avoid taking specific sections. Moreover, the Bible contains claims and doesn’t contain claims. The Bible is really quite Zen isn’t it. But not.

        • it has no single author

          Except for the Perfect Author. One assumes that should enforce some consistency.

        • Yonah

          Eh. Bob assumes…without an education. The assumption inherent in Bob’s application of the fundamentalist paradigm to all his topics would not pass muster in any thoroughly secular graduate school program…in any discipline.

        • Kodie

          Bob assumes what every Christian (but you?) claims.

          It’s theology – the subject of bullshit. What is there to know?

        • Yep. I don’t deserve to be writing on the same internet as you.

          Now that everyone knows that you’re the smart one, you gonna share some of that brilliance with us? Show us what you got. Instead of bragging how big your dick is, make an interesting point. There are hundreds of posts here, surely you can find something that needs correction. Teach us something.

        • Yonah

          Here we have John 3:1-15

          1*)=ην δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶνἸουδαίων: 2οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ῥαββί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸθεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος: οὐδεὶς γὰρ δύναται ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα ποιεῖν ἃ σὺποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ θεὸς μετ’ αὐτοῦ. 3ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴνλέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ.4λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν [ὁ] Νικόδημος, Πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος γεννηθῆναι γέρων ὤν;μὴ δύναται εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν καὶ γεννηθῆναι;5ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς, Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶπνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. 6τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκτῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν. 7μὴθαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, Δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν. 8τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλειπνεῖ, καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλ’ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει:οὕτως ἐστὶν πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος. 9ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεναὐτῷ, Πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι; 10ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Σὺ εἶ ὁδιδάσκαλος τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις; 11ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃοἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐλαμβάνετε. 12εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε; 13καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦοὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 14καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐντῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, 15ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐναὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

          A reader who has mastered Greek and the historical context of the gospel’s time will immediately realize that English does no justice to the text. The reader will see that the text is no attempt at all at history, but theological contest with the cultural adversaries of the Greco-Roman culture generally, and Gnosticism more narrowly. Throughout the text, the author uses the adversaries own buzz worrds against them. In verse three, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. The word dunatai (power to be able) and the word idein (see) both go to the adversaries sense of superior power and intellect. The word anothen (again) has a double meaning…it also means “above”…which goes to the adversaries assumption as to the superiority of their wisdom, but also refers to the contending Christian proclamation of the Kingdom which is above ..as in superceding the adversaries’ culture by rolling over it…the adversary cultures end up on the bottom. In verse 10 another central jab takes place when Jesus challenges Nicodemus as to why he doesn’t “know” (ginoskeis), This is a middle finger to the Gnostics because gnosis–knowing is supposed to be their business. In verse 8 we have Jesus using the word pneuma…double meaning for “wind and “spirit” laying down to the adversaries that the God of Israel is sovereign ..and knowable only be the experience God imposes not by human intellect by itself.. In v14-15 we have the text making a double meaning reference tobeing lifted up…this refers not only to the ascension but more importantly the crucifixion…as in beling lifted up on the cross…John does this another place with the cross…so that again we get this reversal on the adversary…the cross leading to zoein aionion…badly translated as “eternal life” which would be better translated as “the age to come”…that is to say the Kingdom which supercedes and overpowers the culture of power and death…or in Jewish parlance the tikkun olam of the messianic era.

        • 90Lew90

          The Bible isn’t the word of God? Yonah, the contradictory, incoherent, free-styling waffle you come out with wouldn’t pass muster in a damn high school. Dunning-Kruger effect writ large.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Whether you call it fundamentalist or not may oxidize at my bottom, as we Dutch say. But as a teacher maths and physics I can assure you that BobS’ paradigm – which you correctly pointed out as having a Greek origin – totally fits. Must be because the Greeks sure weren’t the first to do maths and physics, but equally sure were the first to do it in a systematical way, thus realizing, developing and exploiting the power of deduction. And some very clever ones – notably Archimedes and Aristarchus of Samos – introduced some empirism as well.
          It’s your non-Greek paradigm that doesn’t fit in science classes. Now that’s totally OK with me, but I’ll still point out that the Greek way of thinking that ultimately resulted in modern science has been way more successfull than your non-Greek approach.
          And that, dear Yonah, is why I suggest you to start your own blog in stead of keep on whining. That only makes you look like a loser and I’m far from convinced yet that you are one indeed.

        • MR

          may oxidize at my bottom

          Would that be, “can rust under my ass?”

          I kinda like that…!

          What is the saying in Dutch?

        • MNb

          Yes. The first, pseudo-civil version: “dat kan aan mijn derriere oxideren.” It’s the same as “dat kan aan mijn reet roesten”.

        • MR

          So what would be the best translation of the preposition “aan”? On, in, under…?

        • MNb

          Possibly the biggest problem for Dutchies who speak English and vice versa is the correct usage of prepositions. They are very often not unambiguously translatable. For instance “on” often means “op”, but so do “upon” and “up”. According to my dictionary “aan” usually translates as “on”, so I guess you were right that “rust on my ass” is better than “rust at my ass”.
          It can be enormous fun to translate typical English expressions literally into Dutch and vice versa, because the languages so close that the meaning is maintained. For instance iso of grammar-nazi we like to use comma fucker. I’m also very fond of “you suck this out of your big fat thumb”. An example of the other way round is “barking up the wrong tree” – “blaffen tegen de verkeerde boom” is not official Dutch, but every Dutchman will understand it.
          Sometimes a slight adaptation is necessary. “Likken” means “to lick”, while “to kiss” means “kussen”. Still people won’t be impressed much when we say “kus mijn reet” or “lick my ass”.

        • MR

          Yes, prepositions are always a funny lot.

          “At” doesn’t really work in English as I visualize something beside my ass, just kind of hanging out with it while it rusts. “On my ass” to me has the connotation of indifference, like you couldn’t care less whether it rusts or not, while “under my ass” connotates, in my mind, a particular disdain of the thing that you are now sitting on.

          Prepositions are a funny lot.

        • MNb

          “the connotation of indifference”
          You hit the nail on its head (exactly the same in Dutch).

        • MNb

          Oops! You did it again. That assumption is Greek thinking, BobS. I suppose you’re blinded by its success, which has closed your mind to all kinds of UNsuccessfull thinking. Like the one used by Yonah, which thus far had yielded nothing but baked air.

        • adam

          “But, the Bible as a whole does not make claims as it has no single author.”

          So the ‘bible’ does not make claims that there is a deity, a supernatural one at that?

        • Yonah

          There are various kinds of claims contained in the various parts of the Bible. One should look at a specific part and evaluate its properties (internal evevidence) and the extra-texutal evidence (i.e. other historic texts which refer or pertain to the text in consideration, and then archaelogical, linguistic and anthroplogical factors. One task in evaluating the evidence in a particular part is determining if there are multiple authors and/or editors of the part. In the cases where there is very clear evidence of multiple witnesses (i.e. the creation accounts of Genesis), there is also the clear indication that the final editor was making no claim at all, but simply preserving the multiple accounts in the overall Hebraic tradition…in essence scrapbooking the pluralism. Some families do not throw members away because one is divergent from another. In my experience, the fundamentalist paradigm, either in theist or atheist circumstances, typically emanates from unresolved intra-familial conflict.

          But, to recap: The Bible contains some claims, yes. But, it also contains a good many parts which are simply preservations of multiple traditions within the greater Tradition…the point of preservation being both the interest of learning from the past traditions…their development and connections, and the political task of respect to various wings of any party should the party wish to keep itself extant. Often times, the unlearned will infer a claim to a preservation…such as in the creation accounts when in fact there is no claim made by the final editor, but rather a choice offered.

        • adam

          But, to recap: The Bible contains some claims, yes.”

          So does the ‘bible’ make claims that there is a deity, a supernatural one at that or what?

        • adam

          But, to recap: The Bible contains some claims, yes.”

          So does the ‘bible’ make claims that there is a deity, a supernatural one at that or what?

        • adam

          So the ‘bible’ as a hole does not make claims about a ‘god’ that has ‘supernatural powers’?

        • Pofarmer

          “My interest is in the question: What social oranism will effect salvation of the creation from destruction by humanity?”

          The reason Bob doesn’t have any candidates is because the question is nonsense.

        • smrnda

          I’d probably characterize myself as a left wing social democrat. I’m not totally sure I’d be able to say I’m a ‘socialist’ since I don’t see that as feasible, and a well regulated private sector with a decent welfare state seems to work well enough when properly applied. In terms of moral philosophy, I’m a rational hedonist. Everybody wants to have a good time, we just have to make sure society doesn’t break down.

          Places I’ve lived for at least a year straight : Taiwan (many years) Germany, Denmark. Elsewhere – the PRC (don’t recommend it) Japan. Anyplace else I didn’t stay long enough.

          In terms of people on the margins, I worry about the anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and also the integration of immigrants. But overall, I’ve seen far less state-sanctioned abuse of minorities there as I have in the US. With better working conditions and such, at least a Turkish immigrant working at a fast food job in Denmark is making a living wage.

        • MR

          So I’ve often wondered if extensive travel or living overseas makes people more likely to be less religious because of exposure to different cultures and ideas.

          thoughts?

        • smrnda

          Growing up in Taiwan, there were a mess of religious and spiritual practices going on. Wasn’t anything anyone in my own family believed, but everybody got some kind of ‘fix’ from it. And then, it seemed that anybody who did any religion got the same ‘fix’ even though they couldn’t possibly all be right. Back stateside, it was more of the same. So yeah, I think it does since you see people who firmly believe things you’ve never been exposed to and their beliefs seem just as real and obvious to them as the more familiar ones.

        • MR

          I lived for a couple years in a foreign country and I think for me I went through a kind of having to learn and think for myself that doesn’t always happen when you are among your own kind.

          At home, when someone is different, or you’re exposed to a different religion, for example, you run home and say, “I just saw the weirdest thing. What does it mean?” And you’re own people give you their own interpretation of what it all means and you believe and trust them.

          But, when you’re not living in your own country and you are the one who is different, your approach changes because you have to learn about what you are witnessing from the people who live in that culture or practice that religion. You then have to process that information on your own without the default backup of your own cultural/religious background.

          “Hmmm, these people are just like me, yet hold different beliefs. Why do they hold different beliefs? Why do I hold my own belief?”

          Whereas, back home you get, “Oh, those damn Catholics, they’re goin’ to hell, you know….” And you just don’t question it.

        • Yonah

          You are naming first world countries, and you are not worried about what extent their set ups are dependent on an inverse experience of people in third world countries?

          Regarding Europe, increasingly anti-Judaism rises and anti-Roma has never waned. My maternal grandmother ws Sinti.

          But, let us say that you pick one set up, then the question is how that will in reality become a model for the global system. Who is going to do that or even work toward that? Otherwise constructive change…any possibility for it is dwarfed by the threat of destructive change. It’s not like imperiled people have a lot of time to wait for Obama or Merkle to deliver the hope and change.

        • smrnda

          My thing is to identify concrete problems and look for solutions. Debt cancellation would be a big plus for Haiti. It’s a pretty simple solution to 1 problem.

          I’m a bit worried being in Germany, but I also got some rather nasty anti-semitism in the US and I’m not that old, so at least in Germany I’m not worried about health care.

        • adam

          “What DOES have an effective political program?”

          Something that joins people together unlike the ‘bible’ which does nothing but divide people.

        • MNb

          “You don’t have to agree with Catholicism to work with Catholics on justice issues, but then again, taking a picture of yourself mocking the Eucharist tends to work against the possibility of people from different mindsets working together for a good goal.”
          When I cooperate with catholics – and I do every day I work – I don’t mock the Eucharist.
          When I mock the Eucharist I don’t cooperate with catholics.
          So you’re presenting a non-problem – actuall another all or nothing type statement.

        • Pofarmer

          The Dude who organized MLK’s marches was an atheist.

        • Yonah

          Who hired who?

        • Kodie

          Who’s being petty?

        • Yonah

          2.0 Who took the bullet?

        • Kodie

          The talking one. Or is “martyr” the right answer? Who’s the martyr? Of course it’s the Christian, because that’s why he was shot.

        • Yonah

          He intuited that he would likely be killed, and alluded to that shortly before it happened. He chose to to bear that for the sake of the good being done by his leadership and the movement at large. A martyr is a “witness”…a witness to the truth determined to bear the witness over against any who would have it not borne. This is the call of Jesus which Bonhoeffer refers to his work “The Cost of Discipleship.” You have my encouragement to tell those preachers who say Jesus wants them to have worldly prosperity to shove it.

        • He intuited that he would likely be killed, and
          alluded to that shortly before it happened

          … according to the story. You’ve got a long way to go to show that that’s history.

        • Yonah

          Video:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WZbxYGy3As

          Or was Obama born in Kenya?

        • Relevance?

        • Yonah

          lol, You didn’t know about the Mountaintop Speech.

          Even more, you wouldn’t understand the Hebraic structure of its text.

        • I’m very familiar with the Mountaintop speech, but I enjoyed the condescension, thanks. My puzzlement continues with the Kenya reference. But I have little interest in finding out, so don’t bother.

        • Yonah

          Evidence please.

          If you know the speech, then you impugn those who exegete its martrydom and its biblical root. And, then all would be most illuminated as to your exegesis of the speech and its underlying biblical text.

          Showest thou thy familiarity with the Mountaintop.

        • Kodie

          I must have missed the part where this has fuckall to do with anything.

        • And once again we’re talking about different things. My question was about the Obama Kenya connection.

        • adam

          I think Obama intuited the same kind of thoughts, knowing the racism that exists.

          Probably every minority elected official elected where racism is still present has.

          Not surprising when you read Right Winger sites.

        • Pofarmer

          Joint venture.

        • Kodie

          Pete Seeger used to identify with atheism but then he got more into nature being god and brainwaves finding lost shit in your house and vague loopy shit like that.

        • Yonah

          lol, thank you. I really like that. “If I had a hammer…If I could find a hammer….”

        • Kodie

          It was a quick google search.

    • Greg G.

      should not a smart guy have an explanation of WHY the Church was so successful in a Roman Empire so hostile to it? Why did gentile folk latch on…who led that?….why? What happened?

      See the section on Confusion of the Early Christian Scholars at How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price.

      Confusion of the Early Christian Scholars

      One of the most fascinating things about Christianity is that it appears to be one of the first religions to arise out of the “information age”. When we look at early Christianity what we find is that the early “church fathers” and apologists were quite geographically dispersed, ranging from Northern Africa to Syria to what is now Turkey to Greece to Rome and even France. These people were spread out all over the place and they were in communication with each other. They were reading each other’s letters and sending letters across the Roman empire. And of course our earliest knowledge of Jesus comes from Paul, who was himself sending letters out across the empire to various groups of people in Greece and Rome.

      [map here showing distribution of early Christian fathers]

      We have this phenomenon of the Gospels, which were essentially copied and passed around like bootleg concert tapes from the 1970s and 1980s, through networks of “hobbyist” scribes. It is really quite fascinating, but what is so remarkable is that this was a religion that became popularized through writing. This was the exact opposite of how most early religions are believed to have formed: slowly, over long periods of time through close knit communities as various traditions and stories build upon each other.

      Christianity was a product of the ancient equivalent of the internet – the Roman system of roads that enabled the relatively rapid transfer of information around the empire. But as a result of this, the beliefs of the religion were essentially based entirely on writings. It was a religion of pen pals and of “chat forums”. It was a religion shared among people who had never met one another, never talked to each other face to face, who didn’t really know each other, much less the people in the stories they were worshiping and writing about.

      As a result, there was massive confusion about who was who among the early Christian apologists. This was not helped by the fact that the names used in many of the early Christian writings were very common names, and on top of that many people are called by different names. We are told in various early Christian texts that Paul is also called Saul, that Peter is also called Simon and Cephas, that Mark is also called John, not to mention the fact that Jesus is sometimes called Lord and sometimes the word Lord is referring to “God in heaven”. Add to this the fact that the term brothers was used interchangeably to mean both literal relatives and companions or followers of the Jesus movement.

      Christianity arose out of a loose collection of documents, written by different people, over a period of time, who were not all writing with the purpose of creating authoritative religious documents or artifacts that were intended to be preserved for posterity. On top of that, of course, we have the fact that the central story that popularized the religion was in fact a fictional story. In addition, as a result of the First Jewish-Roman War and on-going conflicts with the Jews, the supposed “birthplace” of the religion and setting for all of the events central to it, Israel, was in total disarray.

      • Yonah

        While I would quibble with the internet analogy (how scientific is that?), the illustration still leaves the question begging of how so many could effect a movement out of such pluralism. There is a historical hole the writer an you are not addressing and that is the leadership of the early Church between the writers/editors of the NT and the Church Fathers. In the diaspora of Asia minor and Europe who were the leaders of the Christian movement in the first foundational congregations? I think it is telling of your psychology that “congregations” did not even occur to you because you function from the far far result of western individualism/libertarianism that cannot imagine “truth” or an assertion thereof as a communal act and agenda. Perhaps you do not like to think of the fact that Jews and Christians function in congregations and atheists do not. Atheists ain’t got no songs.

        • Greg G.

          I didn’t quote the whole essay but the second sentence addresses “church fathers” and the second paragraph addresses “close-knit communities”. Elsewhere he addressed your point:

          Early Christian mythology goes well beyond the Gospels and the writings contained in the Bible. There were many stories written during the 2nd through 6th centuries, and beyond, about each and every character named in the Gospels, about the supposed authors of the Gospels, about various early church leaders, and about many so-called martyrs. Almost all of this material, which is foundational to early church history and the traditionally accepted origin story of Christianity, is completely made up. If you are not familiar with this material that may sound like an extraordinary claim, but in fact much of this has actually long been acknowledged even by Catholic scholars themselves, and the Protestant Reformation involved many challenges by Protestant scholars to much of early Christian history as well.

          Your tradition is completely based on fiction.

        • Yonah

          You kicked the can dow the road. No. I cited the historical hole in your schema between the NT and the Church Fathers. More specifically, the question of who…what persons (not texts) led the first house churches? This was way before anything of scale had been built for anyone to even have the idea of aspiring to the role of Church Father. Who were the receptors in the first instance of the movement? And why? What was their motivation for being baptized into a completely foreign religion?

        • Greg G.

          Many religious groups start out small. There are thousands of religions. What distinction between your religion and others are you trying to make. The pagan religions were OK with adopting new gods. A whole group would adopt the religion of the general of a battle.

          Christianity is related to the texts. The epistles come from the OT. The gospels come from the epistles and the OT. Groups had some literate people. We know this because they wrote to one another. That person would read to others. What is so baffling?

        • Yonah

          Perhaps you imagine modern mass communication, print and digital in the first century. That’s weird. The setting of the NT canon was late. Knowledge of existent texts would have been very diverse in diverse locations. Would the Corinithians have known that Paul had also sent a letter to the Galations when they got theirs in their email box? I dunno. Apparently you do, lol.

          Greco-Roman religion had a particular dislike of Jews…of which both mainstream Jews and Christians were considered. Afterall, Palestine was Rome’s Vietnam. Have you seen the Arch of Titus relief sculpture?

          “Wrote to one another”…again, you are picturing someone waiting for their next Patheos email. Paul wrote to congregations AFTER he had founded them in person. The letters of Paul are about what is happening in congregations…about existent congregational business.

          To state that the gospels simply come from epistles is just not smart. The Pauline corpus, both genuine and pseudo Pauline do not contain all epistles…and so when you consider all epistles, you need to treat their contentions with each other….Paul vs. James for instance. If you would follow that issue into the Gospels or Acts, you will find it being finessed or spun rather than any straight line application of further development…due to the Gospel editor’s agenda…of which there was considerable pluralism…not only pertaining to editors, but to the oral traditions of the COMMUNITIES the oral traditions emerged from into initial documents partially sourced from Q, if they are synoptic gospels, but not if we’re talking John.

          To say that the Gospels come from the OT is kind of weird since the OT is so diverse…the OT doesn’t come from the OT. It would be more accurate to state that the NT employs some OT material.

          But, back to my original sticking it to you…you don’t want to deal with the historical period where Greco-Roman folk first adopted Christianity in underground house churches. You don’t want to deal with WHO Paul and his associates were dealing with in person in order to establish those political entities…and why those people were wanting to do it.

        • Greg G.

          Atheists ain’t got no songs.

          There’s Imagine by John Lennon and the most popular Christmas song of all time, White Christmas, by Irving Berlin.

        • And, of course, “Atheists don’t have no songs” by Steve Martin

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogta8alHiU

        • old_303

          Hey – you kind of look like him!

        • Yonah

          Berlin was a Jew, and Madeline Murry O’Hair tried to buy Imagine, but Michael Jackson snatched it, and Mike weren’t no atheist for he dranketh the juiceth of Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          A secular song is a secular song no matter who writes it or who owns the rights to it. “White Christmas” is more about meteorology than any religion.

        • Yonah

          Doppler radar is meteorology. DREAMING of a White Christmas is religion…unless of course you’re Duck Dynasty…then it’s sociology.

        • Greg G.

          Dreaming of a White Christmas is nostalgia.

    • smrnda

      If your view of Christianity is that it is a tradition, then the truth value of its claims are irrelevant. As someone who was (sort of) raised in the Reform Jewish tradition, I get that, but I also get that this doesn’t quite work with many schools of Christianity. Even Roman Catholics tend to require an actual Jesus dead and resurrected from what I can tell. They just like to use lots of verbose obfuscation when you ask them direct questions about that.

      The Church became what it was by latching onto existing political power structures.

      • Pofarmer

        Catholics tend to pick and choose what is literal and what is not, and it may vary from instance to instance.

      • Yonah

        A tradition is a vehicle that moves, and such get into wrecks. Christianity has had a lot of wrecks, as has Judaism. I converted to Judaism in 2005 through a Reform Shul…although at an Orthodox mikveh. Anyway, the Jewish concept of sin which Christianity too often wrecked out of is that sin does not change the relationship between God and humanity ….as rough as the relationship might get in the sin. The remedy is Teshuvah..get back in the vehicle, and drive on…ever on. The Tradition is that which moves on despite all the wrecks.

        Yes, the Church fucked up many times by taking the bait…that which Jesus struggled with in the wildnerness of Judea and Gethsemane. Still, after the wreck, the Judeo-Christian Tradition emerges time and again in poverty and rebellion against the Powers. Behold the Aramaic descendents of Jewish Christianity even today who sing to Jesus in poverty and youth:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjjnqlYwDvk

        • smrnda

          I’m well aware that the Christian concept of ‘sin’ isn’t compatible with Jewish ideas.

          It’s fine if you want to say ‘this is a tradition.’ I can state that there is a Jewish tradition (or many traditions). However, there are still beliefs which can be either true or false. It’s just that this might not be relevant to people in the tradition, but that does not mean those questions are meaningless. If I attend a seder, I am taking part in a tradition. Whether there is an actual G-d or an actual Exodus from Egypt may be irrelevant to the people participating, but ‘is there an actual G-d and was there a real Exodus?’ are still meaningful questions. You may not care, but if someone actually cares ‘is the claim of G-d’s existence true’ then they will. You may not care, but just because you don’t think it is *personally relevant* does not mean it is objectively irrelevant just because some faith traditions don’t care.

          I have this policy of answering straight questions. If someone asks me ‘so, you did X which is part of a faith tradition, do you believe that the events Y actually happened?’ I don’t weasel around putting up a verbal fog to essentially state ‘I don’t want to answer that.’ I just say “no, there is no evidence the Exodus happened. I think there is no evidence for G-d existing. ‘ I don’t say ‘well, the answers to those questions are not the point of the tradition.’ That’s a dishonest dodge. Either to hide something from someone else, or to lie to myself.

          There is a Christian I know who does not think it is important whether or not there was a historical Jesus. He takes the tradition approach. But in that case, his practice is completely detached from any theistic claims. It’s compatible with atheism and theism. At times he ends up spouting some vague rhetoric like ‘prayer is an act of faith’ and since these terms have vague definitions, they’re essentially meaningless. “When you pray, is there an actual god who listens?” A person can state they believe that is true, that they do not know, or that they do it even though they know it’s false for some reason. Maybe it doesn’t matter to them and they don’t care. But then they might as well say “I do this because I like doing it.” No reason to pretend that the question ‘is there actually a god who listens’ is meaningless just because the person in question doesn’t care.

          My time studying things like mathematics, where statements are precise and have precise meaning has made me very impatient with statements that are vague and unclear.

        • Yonah

          I stated that too often Christian concepts of sin depart Jewish, not always.

          More importantly, you have misinterpreted my use of “tradition”. It is not a counter to belief in an actual historical Exodus and Resurrection, but the moral agenda for which the Exodus and the Resurrection ocurred. If you don’t have that moral agenda, then all you are left with is a history hobby. The moral agenda is needed to be kept paramount so that Jews and Christians will actually do tikkun olam.

        • smrnda

          Maybe I can put it clearer.

          I understand the appeal of the narrative of the Exodus, but I have to be honest that no evidence of it actually exists. I much prefer tikkun olam to the standard Christian preoccupation of ‘morality’ which is, effectively, what someone does with their naughty bits, but I also view the question of ‘was there a historical Exodus/Resurrection’ as still relevant to me.

        • Yonah

          I tend to agree with you on tikkun olam vs naughty bits, although I would not use the word “standard”. But, my analysis of Christian failure as to tikkun olam over the last 40 + years is that it wasted time chasing money and worrying about naughty bits and has nothing to show for it. Nothing has gotten done since the civil rights era…and there has been marked regression…and a unprecidented global plutocracy has emerged and is rapidly increasing. But, let’s be honest. Jews haven’t done better. I’ve been in the center of Reform culgure today, and it’s pathetic. I can’t stand to read Rabbi Rami’s blog anymore (who else reads it?) as he declares all of Judaism on the edge of a final death. There is nothing going on now on the scale 40 years ago in shul. Social concerns are relagated to one commitee of a handful of old geezers. The efforts are canned, and sub-contracted out to Christian/inter-faith orgs. The shul writes a check, and takes credit in the monthly newsletter. David Sapperstein came to our shul once trying to drum up support for his action agency. He was very blunt. He said that we can’t make everything be about the state of Israel…we have to pay the rent on justice, or there ain’t gonna be a state of Israel. And then, (I think to piss people off), he started quoting the prophetic tradition and just flat out put Jesus in it…quoting Jesus with no qualification whatsoever. The guy has a pair. Of course, one big thing that has thrown a monkey wrench in current Jewish justice effort or its potential is the rabid anti-semitism on the left. You can’t go to an anti-war rally without the Palestinian contingent there accusing Israel/Jews of being neo-Nazis. So, Jews have become more insular. My old shul’s main thrust was to just get larger and larger…unsing Rick Warren’s mega church model. The Shul leadership actually made a pilgrimage to Warren’s Saddleback campus for a big ol’ training camp experience on how to do mega-church (synagogue). (Can you hear me gagging?)

          Yes, yes…we’re all trying to do our little part for tikkun olam. But. What I’m wigged out about is science…it’s math. The level of the current construction of plutocracy…and the level of economic destruction and re-structuring is so massive, there is nothing even in the tradition of justice efforts 40-50 years ago that has the scale to be able to touch the current & future situation. My wife and I have recently joined the United Methodist Church because of their relative superiority to other Protestant denominations in terms of infrastructure to do justice. But, at the same time, we have grave doubts about the future of the UMC and of mainline Protestantism in general. It is currently wired for failure. It had been the previous moral glue of North America. The hole has not been filled. Bob will at times prattle on about American separation of church from state or the constitution or bill of rights. What America? What rights? Talk about a religion without evidence. The text ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Obama is not going to do shit for the Brown/Garner/et al community. I have never voted Republican. My family busted our asses in both elections for Obama. Where the hell did our hope and change go? I did Occupy Wall Street. You saw how it failed. The truth is…in America now…ANYTHING can happen to you…to your children…your wife/husband/partner…and the Constitution ain’t gonna do shit for you. If you don’t have money, you ain’t got rights. And Obama kills kids with drones, a smoother CIA black site shuggadaddy.

          There is such bullshit on the left right now. All this noise about the need and benefit of “peaceful” protest over against the “handful” of violent agitators…when we all know that if not for the handful, CNN et al wouldn’t cover shit for more than 5 minutes. Time will not let the bullshit stand. Math is math. Social science is science. The number of poor and the depth of entrenchment of generational poverty into the future is violence in itself. The incarceration rate is violence in itself. The absolute action of Republicans stopping everything because a Black man is in the White House and that President deciding not to Go On in spite of them is violence in itself.

          It is going to blow.

        • smrnda

          Well, I share your cynicism about the USA but I feel that it’s present isn’t really different from the past. It was founded to be a plantation, and a plantation it remains. My plan is that I’m leaving. I already travel enough, so I’m settling elsewhere.

          But on the death of religion,I may be younger so I never lived through a time when any religion was very active in social justice concerns. I grew up in Taiwan where there really wasn’t any kind of Jewish community; there sort of was when I was living with my grandparents in the states, but my social circle was fairly diverse so Shul wasn’t really at the center of my life or my view of community. About all the people I know who are my age have minimal if any ties to any religious traditions. Though I will say, the idea of someone remaking the Shul in the image of Saddleback is pretty grotesque.

          I just think religion is declining in significance, but it’s not truly unique in that regard. I hear that the Freemasons aren’t so popular any more.

        • Yonah

          My daughter is almost 25 years old, so I think about the massive change during her life. What is most dramatic and unprecidented is a global economic system in which no one’s hands are clean. Do liberals imagine living in a aesthetically clean Nordic socialist country?…and then not let themselves think about how the peace is kept by NATO, and when push comes to shove, what boys and girls from Boogerhole, Kentucky have to pay the price?…..and, where the petrol comes from….and who keeps it coming…and how.

          Yes, the moral absurdity of the mega shul was one strong factor in my re-evaluating my religious positioning, but there were other stronger factors. But, the lesson learned there (again) is the lure of power in human hands. That shul started out renting space in a church…and the rabbi worked hard to make it a good program…and others came in…and sucked him into a whole different vision until it got too big, and it got away from him. When it got beyond his ability to pull it back, he was in strong conflict with the shul board, but they were simply more powerful than he at the mega shul point. He was merely an employee…with kids in college.

          I’ve had power to some extent twice in my life…as a pastor and a school teacher/teacher’s union rep. For the most part, I used the power responsbibly. But, there were a few times when I got sucked into the wrong crowd…and THAT can happen very easily and in a flash before one can think about it. It’s scary. It is that dynamnic that the story of Jesus being tempted by the Devil in the wildnerness is about. Jesus is wrestling with the use of power. The same is true of the agony in Gethsemane.

          I think: Pope Francis is trying to do right in his old age what he screwed up as a young cleric. He was quite young when he attained high office in his homeland…in a time when the country was ruled by a military dictatorship complete with death squads. Francis may not be the messiah, but if he pulls off a constructive papacy which benefits the planet beyond benefit to the Church, he, as a head of state, could serve as a model for other similar gifted leaders to rise up…and also become global adults.

          Before I went to seminary, I was a graduate student at the School of International Service at American University…basically a competitor foreign service school to Georgetown’s and others of the same type. As my concentrates were U.S. Foreign Policy and the Middle East Region, I had to study folks like Henry Kissinger…who I came to respect despite being totally at odds with the Nixon legacy. But, the main thing Kissinger has always taught well is how any entity wishing to navigate international relations to its own best interest should strive to understand the infrastructure of the relationships and regional systems…and that would go for making changes…shoot from the hip a la George Bush in Iraq?….or think structurally and long term like Nixon’s detente with China and the Soviets.

          Francis and Bartholomew want to have a council in 2020. If the council should repair the rift between RC and Orthodox (existent since 1054), the political ramifications of that are very difficult to comtemplate, but they could be huge. If scale can be wed to good…that is what is needed. Because the scale of the destruction to the global system has now gone beyond traditional treatment. There are no present political or military solutions to the present systemic cancer.

        • MNb

          “What is most dramatic and unprecidented is a global economic system in which no one’s hands are clean.”
          Are you kidding? Does your belief close your mind to such an extent? It would be highly dramatic and unprecedented if mankind managed to construct any economic system in which hands could remain clean indeed.

          “Do liberals imagine living in a aesthetically clean Nordic socialist country?”
          Not me and not anyone I know. Btw you don’t make much sense using American terminology. In all of Europe “liberals” are people who advocate a smaller government – “liberate the entrepreneurs of governmental interference and rely on the free market”. Socialists advocate the exact opposite: a firm governmental control of economy. Finally saying that the Nordic countries are socialist ones doesn’t say anything. North-Korea is a socialist country as well and there are some significant differences. You should call the Nordic countries social-democrats.
          One of the causes of many a problem in the USA is that there is no social-democrat movement. One of the causes of many a problem in The Netherlands is that the social-democrats don’t defend the interests of the lower social classes anymore.

        • 90Lew90

          Yeah. And NATO keeps everyone safe but it’s always boys from Boogerhole, Kentucky who get their hands dirty “when push comes to shove”. And Kissinger is respectworthy for his foreign policy panache. And Pope Francis is a head-of-state who could set an example to rising heads-of-state. If him and Bartholomew got together maybe the world could be fixed.

          His head’s so far up his ass he can almost peer out of his own mouth.

        • Yonah

          Of course the current sense of “liberal” per European parlance was once resident in the U.S. and the use of language in this regard simply changed to the present American situation. I live in Ohio. There are some isolationists in Ohio who advocate for a pulling of American economic and military resources from Europe which is unthinkable given the interdependency in both a western and global system.

          I think you are conning yourself that you are on a higher plane when you function in a system you cannot detache yourself from. The problem is larger than you assume. It is no longer possible to construct a social-democrat state where lower social classes will any longer have hope and change. The hope and change is for those above, the 1% and those who attache themselves thereto.

          States no longer call the shots.

        • smrnda

          I’m actually wondering if Europe will retain such a tight political alliance with the US. In some ways, a US military base has become less an asset than a potential target.

          ” It is no longer possible to construct a social-democrat state where lower social classes will any longer have hope and change.”

          With the ‘no longer possible’ – was that actually something that went on before WWII? The US has never been a social-democratic state. Enough countries are doing better. Income inequality has fallen steadily in Taiwan, for example. It’s worse in the US, but it’s not the whole world.

        • Yonah

          On Europe, you’re being pretty fuzzy there. So, the next time Eastern Europe/Russia blows, Germany will take care of it?

          On rational hedonist social democratization, that is a post WWII wet dream. Ireland is losing its religion AND the Celtic Tiger is on life support. The Irish economy was screwed by the banks…states unto themselves.

          In Asia, I am befuddled that you would go on so about Taiwan and not a breath about China. Really? Really? Those aspects of Taiwan which China is opposed to (like Independence) are much empowered by Taiwan’s Christian community disproportionately represented in Taiwanese political leadership. And, I find it interesting that the vast majority of the indigenous Taiwanese are Christian.

          But. If I understand you correctly, Taiwan has replaced Israel as the light unto the nations. If Taiwan will shuck its Christians totally (and somehow hold off China), THAT will be the world’s salvation. The leadership of Ireland et al will study the Taiwanese model, and problem solved.

        • smrnda

          Eastern Europe and Russia are a mess, though I kind of feel that the insular policies of many former Soviet Bloc nations mean they’re a ship which is sinking, but at least it’s sinking alone. The US might see some point in intervening, but it’s also clear that economic sanctions have enough power to tank the whole country.

          Ireland was screwed because it attempted to implement US style economic policies and those policies have a track record of not working.

          My lack of mention of the PRC was that I was only there briefly, and only while young, so I don’t really have a lot of information. My brother actually lives there now. His take is that China is becoming like the US – a rich country where most people will be poor. From his account, Christianity is mostly prevalent among the poor and uneducated and he doesn’t see its otherworldly focus as being capable of having a political impact.

          I never really noticed Christianity being prevalent in Taiwan, nor do I recall Christians having a larger presence in government. Historically, the leaders were ones who had Western contacts and educations, so I don’t think that it’s so much their “Christian faith” but their exposure to Western political ideas that shaped their opinions. And from stats, Christianity is on the decline in Taiwan and has been for several decades. If the indigenous populations skews Christian, that just seems indicative that Christians engage in what I call ‘vulture evangelism’ – hitting the disenfranchised groups as they’re easier to convert.

          The Taiwanese model, and its success, can’t be taken without noting that other nations opposed to the PRC have had a huge incentive to carve out a sphere of influence there in the ROC. On human rights, they seem okay, but they only implemented guaranteed health care by the 1990s. They’re also behind in a number of areas – they still have the death penalty, there is a push for GLTBQ rights but they’re already behind other nations there. For purposes of emigration, that’s a big factor to me since I’m married to another woman.

          Overall, Christianity (to me) is a museum piece. Any place that’s Christian is in decline, any place that isn’t in decline that was ever Christian? Christianity is on decline there. Christianity is only winning out among desperate populations in need of the opiate. Islam seems much the same, though perhaps more drastic.

        • MNb

          Eastern Europe is not a mess at all – if you mean countries like the Baltic states, Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary etc. They all do better than they have done since decades. In Europe there are only three former Soviet-nations, besides Russia. All three are a mess indeed and none of them poses a threat to any country of the EU.
          A possible problem might become the three Baltic states – if Putin (or another Russian semi-dictator) decides to stir up trouble there.

        • smrnda

          True – I should have specified Russia 🙂 I’ve actually been to the Czech republic and spent some time in Poland – standards are not up to French/German standards of living but are definitely improving economically.

          I wonder if the view of Russia as a threat is a cold war legacy? I am young enough to have not been alive for much of the USSR so the idea of Russia as a serious threat seems a bit strange to me.

        • MNb

          “the next time Eastern Europe/Russia blows, Germany will take care of it?”
          Showing your ignorance of politics in Europe. The Russian army is a joke. The armies of White-Russia and the Ukraine are even worse. The combined armies of Germany, France and Britain – and don’t be mistaken, in times of crisis these countries support each other – are only inferior to the US army and perhaps the Chinese one. Neither is a threat to the EU.
          Eastern Europe won’t blow for a very simple reason: almost all east-european countries are member of the EU. Those who aren’t badly want to become member. You wrote it yourself above:

          “States no longer call the shots.”
          The classical conflicts have not disappeared, not at all. The linguistic stuggle in Belgium, Scottish and Catalonian separatism have been actual since decades. The EU provides a framework that prevents such conflicts from escalation. Ask Lew. Irish-English cooperation contributed immensely to end the Troubles. And even during the heighdays of the Troubles there wasn’t a single chance that they would result in a war, as has happened so often – exactly because “states no longer call the shots”. There are several other examples (Macedonia for instance).
          Europe is still threatend by all kind of dangers, but a classical war is not one of them.

        • MNb

          “the Celtic Tiger is on life support.”
          The Irish economy is recovering.

          http://www.wsj.com/articles/irelands-economy-surges-ahead-of-eurozone-1411037461

          Made possible ao by the support of the EU, a structure heavily influence by “rational hedonist social democracy”. But I suppose that someone who reject “Greek thinking” cannot be bothered too much by something as inconvenient as facts.

        • MNb

          In most European countries income inequality has increased last 30 years. That specifically includes The Netherlands. The income gap still is far from as huge as in the USA though.

        • smrnda

          Thanks for the info – as someone who has lived mostly in the US the last 8 years or so, I mostly note that it’s simply lower elsewhere, though that is perhaps a discouraging trend. oddly income inequality has decreased in Taiwan (somewhere I used to live) .

        • MNb

          “I think you are conning yourself …..”
          Quite prematurely.

          “The problem is larger than you assume.”
          You don’t know what I assume, because we never discussed politics. Typical the arrogant christian, eh?

        • Your reference to Jesus (being tempted) works just as well if you see Jesus as a literary figure. Why insist that the gospel story is historically true?

        • Yonah

          uh. That text (professional term is pericope) is literary. You have no definition of your invented term “gospel story”…what is that supposed to mean?

          There are gospels and there is The Gospel of which the gospels are designed to convey to different audiences.from different communities.

        • professional term is pericope

          For the entire Jesus story? I don’t think so.

          You have no definition of your invented term “gospel story”

          “Gospel story” = gospel of Jesus as presented in the NT. Hard to believe that that tripped you up much. But I suppose if this tangent makes us forget that you’ve avoided the question, it serves its purpose.

        • Yonah

          Again you fail in logic. For you referenced a segment of text which in biblical scholarship is termed a “pericope”.

          The Gospel of Jesus is the Gospel that Jesus announced and which was received by the Church. Its story is ongoing as we write and breathe.

  • rubaxter

    You wouldn’t happen to be a front for Bart Ehrman, would you?

    • 90Lew90

      No, he thinks for himself. You should try it.

      • rubaxter

        And, you should get a sense of humor. What’s the matter, you constipated today?? You’re tagging around after me like a starving dog…

        • 90Lew90

          It wasn’t obvious that you were joking, and in any case, the joke was crap. Replying to you here, and on one other post where you thought there must be more to the story about the gay guy who was kidnapped and beaten by fundy cranks because they believed he was possessed by demons, is hardly “starving dog” behaviour. Don’t flatter yourself.

        • rubaxter

          So, it wasn’t obvious, and you went Starbuck’s Overdose on it?.

          AND, my other post expressed an interest in knowing what else complicated the matter as church society never as cut-and-dry as recorded. Additionally, it would be something to see how any lawyer for the defendants might try to excuse the actions to avoid a possible hate crime assertion.

          Get a life in Reality and stop sniffing out insults with a prehensile nose…

          BTW, the original post was a compliment, as far as I am concerned, because Ehrman’s books in this area not only make sense but have a vast body of scholarship behind them. That also goes for Ehrman’s Great Courses efforts, which have a great deal of original material which does not show up in the books.

          A good many of the below comments on Paul et al. are covered in the latest volume and course, How Jesus Became God.

          See what can be behind posts when you don’t just snap like a junk yard dog…

        • 90Lew90

          You were saying something about waking up constipated… Fuck off back to Friendly Atheist.

        • rubaxter

          Sorry about all this, folks…

  • Namrevlis

    Here is my own hypothesis:
    First, if Mary was a virgin, so what? Whether she was or was not sexually active in no way makes her divine.

    Jesus was a Jewish part-time carpenter. Due to the climate in that place and that time he, like many others, was chronically malnourished and chronically dehydrated which caused frequent hallucinations. It has been said that he was nailed to a wooden cross and mercilessly tortured. What happened next would have happened to you or anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the same situation; he passed out, maybe even became comatose. Maybe someone cared for him; maybe not.

    Three days later, in great pain, he woke up. No resurrection, he just woke up. You know who saw him on the cross? Only some women, a few completely uneducated and illiterate village women. One of them may have said, “Duh, he came back to life. Another uneducated illiterate woman might have said, “Gee, I guess so” and that’s how the legend was born.

    Son of God? No way.

    Sincerely,
    David Silverman

    • That’s a lot more plausible than that the Bible story, miracles and all, is historically accurate.

      • old_303

        1. The Bible doesn’t say Mary is divine
        2. The “swoon theory” isn’t even favored by atheists your both idiots in this regard. No one survived crucifixion in the Roman world – the Romans had perfected it like an artform.
        3. Sorry David Silverman you fail – the swoon theory has been gone over many, many times my friend. Care to try another flavor? How about the myth theory? How about the “the disciples stole the body” theory? How about the hallucination theory (which by the way you have backwards but nice try – the real theory is that the disciples hallucinated not Jesus).

        • 1. That’s nice.
          2. I have no interest in the swoon theory.
          3. How about Old Chase hasn’t satisfied his burden of proof?

        • $135889854

          How about you stay out of my private account, Bob. I took a screen shot of your post and sent a complaint to Disqus.

        • How about you explain what you’re talking about, h. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • $135889854

          U used my name and I complained to Disqus about it

        • Wrong again.

          I warned user old_303 that he needed to add to the conversation or get banned. He didn’t.

          Are you old_303?

        • $135889854

          He did add to the conversation but you have yet to rebuttal his challenge concerning Mathew 21:7. Here’s the challenge…
          1. Post Mathew 21:7 up in this blog in the NIV, ESV and another translation of your choice without your commentary Bob
          2. Show your work for the class by demonstrating that Jesus is in fact (as you claim) riding on a mother donkey and a colt “like a circus acrobat” again, as you claim
          3. Draw an unbiased conclusion based on your comparison of those three different translations of that verse

          With this in mind he had added considerably to the conversion are you willing to rebuttal in the manner described?

        • Kodie

          What the fuck are you going on about? We know you’re a sock puppet, no you didn’t add to the “conversion” considerably or otherwise.

        • So then you are old_303? I think you’ve been banned.

          And given that you haven’t raised it again, I assume that your hysterical “How about you stay out of my private account” has been satisfactorily resolved. Thanks for playing.

          I always err on the side of keeping a commenter around for longer than I should. old_303 rejected my suggestion for how to change his approach, hence the banning.

        • MR

          When was the last time you had a thoughtful Christian on here? I’m beginning to think they don’t exist!

        • There was a guy about 6 months ago who popped up and then left, promising to digest some of the things we’d sent his way.

          But yeah, they’re pretty scarce. We just get the jerks and their holograms.

        • MR

          I figured there was a story there.

          Too bad. I would like to talk to sincere people. I suppose that has to happen in real life.

          A few of the girls at work are quite free about their talk of prayer and what not with me. I just smile, but it isn’t something that’s wise to bring up at work.

          Oh, well.

        • Kodie

          I tend to think that most of the Christians in my real life experience don’t even know as much as these idiots who bother us about their faith. They believe in god without asking too many questions, and they’re about as Christian as Scott, being dirty and foul and not really holding up the ideals we hear so much about. But I am from the northeastern US, I have learned it’s a general habit of the region to have manners about talking religion with mixed company.

        • MR

          One-on-one would no doubt be more civil. What I like about that, too, is you get an honest reaction from someone when you ask a question. They have to think for themselves instead of rushing to Google to find out what comeback Answers on Genesis has. That’s really the key to changing people’s minds. Getting them to truly think about their beliefs.

        • Kodie

          The only way I could be civil then is to walk away.

        • MR

          Well, I think the whole conversation would just unroll differently. You’re going to treat someone differently when you are face to face, and you get the benefit of body language and instant feedback. Of course, I may be wrong. It could be disastrous. I’m sure it depends on the circumstance.

        • Kodie

          I’m a way-homer. No way it’s ending well.

        • MR

          Yeah, I guess I can see that. I sure would love to be a fly on the wall, though.

        • Philmonomer

          U used my name and I complained to Disqus about it.

          Maybe his name really is “Buttercup.”

        • As pillow talk, yeah.

        • Kodie

          This is Bob’s blog and he can ban people, you even said so what I’ll just make a new account, blah blah blah “censorship!!!!” Go cry to Jesus about it.

  • Well then, how do you explain all the miracles performed by devout Christians all over the world; for instance the brazilian ‘John of God’, who openly admits that he’s simply an instrument of God…
    The guy does some inconceivable things; like heal people of disabilities, illness etc. Even if many of these people are not Christian (or any other religion for that matter), it’s still miraculous and unexplainable. How do you have scientific explanations for these things…

    I’d also like to know why almost EVERY person who had a near death experience, talks of leaving their body and entering a heavenly environment of some sort – look at the movie ‘Heaven is for real’ – it’s based on a true story. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THIS?

    • I’ve blogged about the movie “Heaven is for Real.” Look up that post and see what I’ve said about it.

      As for other miracles, the (obvious) first step is to get the information into the hands of reputable scientists. Once they vete the story (and you must admit that most of the miracle claims are crap), then we’ve got something to work with. As it is, they’re just hearsay and, as such, uninteresting.

      • As I’ve said – christian or not, it’s still inconceivable. Science cannot explain many of these miracles – the deaf and the mute are made to hear and speak again, the paraplegic are made to walk again, and its witnessed by thousands, if not millions of people. I’ve read and heard of even more incredible miracles than the aforementioned…

        You still couldn’t answer my question on the near death experiences…It’s not only a movie – millions of people go through this experience and tell stories of leaving this world and entering a new dimension. Many have even come back from hell…
        It can’t just be coincidence as this is a recurring theme among countless amounts of people; even non religious.

        • Rudy R

          And science can’t explain how amputees were healed. Oh wait a minute, there aren’t any confirmed cases of those miracles happening. All amputees must not have prayed hard enough for God to show them mercy.

        • adam

          NDEs?

          Simple to recreate scientifically, it is all brain chemistry:

          The Trigger of Extreme Gravity: Dr. James Winnery’s
          NDE Research

          The scientific method requires a phenomenon to be able to be reproducible under laboratory conditions for it to be declared a “real” phenomenon. In the early days, near-death experiences were thought by some to be just “phantom” visions and nothing more than imagination. But then Dr. James E. Whinnery, a chemistry professor with West Texas A&M, became involved with research involving fighter pilots being subjected to extreme gravitational
          forces in a giant centrifuge to simulate the extreme conditions that can occur during aerial combat maneuvering. Strangely enough, it turns out that under extreme g-forces, fighter pilots lose consciousness and have a near-death experience. Whinnery wrote a technical report for the National Institute for Discovery Science about the phenomenon and in doing so proved the near-death experience to be a real phenomenon. The following is a summary of his technical report of how NDEs are triggered by severe gravitational forces.

          http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers06.html

        • smrnda

          How well documented are these miracles?

          If I told you that I set a world record in weightlifting, would you take my word and 2 friends who saw me do it as proof?

        • adam

          I have a full sized elephant in my trouser pocket right now.
          THAT is a miracle, right?

        • Kodie

          To be fair, it was just a baby when you put it in there.

        • old_303

          again, celestial teapot. You guys really need to do more reading other than Bob Seidensticker

        • Kodie

          You don’t get jokes, do you.

        • old_303

          no – your confused. That’s not a miracle. A miracle still has limitations within Gods defined parameters. What your claiming is scientifically falsifiable especially considering you said “a full size elephant” vs. just “an elephant” which would have given the reader more leeway as to interpretation, i.e. maybe it’s “full size” or maybe it’s a toy. Given the context we know that full size elephants can’t fit into a human beings pocket. So you’re claim is in the realm of Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot – it’s scientifically falsifiable.

        • adam

          YOUR ‘god’ has miracle limitations?

          Nice to know.

          You say a full size elephant cant fit into a human beings pocket, but THAT is what makes it a miracle.

          The same for all those miracles in your bible, they exist in the IMAGINATION of the STORY TELLERS.

          You certainly have NOT proved that I dont have a full size elephant in my pocket or that it is not a miracle the same as you claim.

        • old_303

          the god your describing is a fantasy – you’re still engaging in Russell’s Teapot buddy

        • adam

          the god YOU’RE describing is a fantasy, no different than the one I describe, except MINE is not the Creator of EVIL, like yours…

        • Kodie

          Capital T he god you apostrophe re describing is also a fantasy. You have made no effort to advance your assertions with supporting arguments at all period

        • old_303

          that’s not what happened in the Gospels read 1 Corinthians 15 the Resurrected Lord appeared to over 2,000 people at once. And yes I said 2,000 not 500. You have to understand that in the 1st century only men were counted and men were only counted if they were married. Being married with children would put the figure more at 4 (and that would be on the low end for that day and age). 4 times 500 is 2,000.

        • 500 eyewitnesses in 1 Cor. 15? Every gospel author rejects that as an important claim.

          Take their lead.

        • old_303

          wrong – read Gary Habermas

        • Or you could respond to the challenge instead of hiding behind a smokescreen.

          Nope–too late. You got banned.

        • $135889854

          Why did you ban me Bob?

        • I banned old_303.

        • $135889854

          Why don’t you face his Mathew 21:7 challenge?

        • Why don’t you just stay banned?!

        • smrnda

          So, according to a book written by my friend 2000 people saw me set a world record in weightlifting. Great, so you believe me now?

        • Science cannot explain many of these miracles – the deaf and the mute are made to hear and speak again, the paraplegic are made to walk again, and its witnessed by thousands, if not millions of people.

          Weird then how this fact isn’t accepted by science.

          You still couldn’t answer my question on the near death experiences. It’s not only a movie – millions of people go through this experience

          Do you believe all NDE stories or only those that support
          your Christian worldview?

        • old_303

          it is accepted by science Bob, they’re known as “acts of God” in the hospital communities. Ever worked in a hospital or known someone who worked in a hospital?

        • Since you didn’t respond, I’ll assume that you agree with me that all the other guys’ NDEs are flawed somehow.

          Science knows of lots of unexplained things. Science demands evidence, and sometimes science just doesn’t have enough. Religion doesn’t much care about evidence, so it can claim things are explained if it feels like it.

          “Acts of God” aren’t agreed to have been done by God.

        • adam

          Here is a scientific study on NDE’s and they have nothing to do with ‘heaven’ and all about brain chemistry.

          Strangely enough, it turns
          out that under extreme g-forces, fighter pilots
          lose consciousness and have a near-death experience.
          Whinnery wrote a technical report for the

          National Institute
          for Discovery Science
          about the phenomenon and in doing so proved
          the near-death experience to be a real phenomenon.
          The following is a summary of his technical
          report of how NDEs are triggered by severe gravitational
          forces.http://www.near-death.com/experiences/triggers06.html

        • smrnda

          Yes, I do. So far, none of them report any of these miracles. And the few cases I’ve heard of didn’t really provide any evidence beyond hearsay.

        • MNb

          “Science cannot explain many of these miracles”
          Science by definition cannot explain any miracle. As soon as science explains something it’s not a miracle anymore. That’s why near death experiences don’t count as miracles. Science explains them nicely.

      • old_303

        Totally agree with you about “Heaven is for Real” but probably for different reasons. It contradicts Scripture all over the place!

        • Pofarmer

          Reality contradicts scripture all over the place, ao there is that.

        • old_303

          name one place

        • Pofarmer

          When Jesus says all of his followers will be able to perform miracles? When Jesus says he will return before the Apsotles death. When Paul says Jesus will come before his followers are dead. When there is a talking snake or a talking Donkey? When people get raised from the Dead? When God can’t defeat iron Chariots? There’s dozens and hundreds I’m sure you can explain away.

        • old_303

          Okay now like a “big person” please explain where your quoting from for the class. Please provide Scripture references with the translation and please be a “big person” and explain the context of each verse within the book and then finally the broader Scriptures. Once you do this for the references you gave I’ll be sure to revisit to check your homework

    • Pofarmer

      THIS IS SUCH INCREDIBLY STUPID SHIT. if there were real miracles going on Dr’s and scientists from al over the world would be there to document it post haste. Now, well, gee, why would people who have near death experiences have similar stories. SURELY IT COULDN’T BE BECAUSE EVERYBODIES BRAIN HAS A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE AS IT RUNS OUT OF OXYGEN AND NUTRIENTS. Oh, your God, this is so fucking stupid. Get on you tube and look up the episode of “Bullshit” that deals with near death experiences. Get your head out of the churches ass. Holy cow, the stupidity, the stupidty.

  • old_303

    Bob,
    First of all I’m disappointed – I was really looking forward to some better arguments.
    1. You’re swinging late on this one Bob. Bart Ehrman (the worlds most renowned skeptic already wrote a book on this called “Did Jesus Exist?” where he says “yes” You seem to be in the same camp as Bill Maher and Ehrman would say you’re both “out of touch” with reality.
    2. Again, why would the disciples die for a lie? If Jesus wasn’t who he said he was how could Christianity even get off its feet? I dare you to disprove the Resurrection, the tomb is empty – good luck!…hold on – let me guess you believe in the “swoon theory”? No, no – how about the “myth” theory. Naaaa, you’re more of a “the disciples stole the body”. Better yet “they all had hallucinations” right? Read Dinesh D’ Souza’s “Life after Death” around pg. 260 he goes through these carefully – so I’ve already done the hard work for you 🙂
    3. Your just repeating number 2 in a slightly different manner. Again, why believe in a lie that no one died for?
    4. This is really bad Bob! The Gospels are full of self incriminating and embarrassing information. I could go on and on here but certainly if they were edited why not take out all of the embarrassing stuff? You know, change some of the miracles, change the fact that women discovered the tomb first (in the first century women were not allowed to testify in court yet here they are in the Gospels as the first ones at the tomb and it is their testimony that the male disciples hang on), what about all of Peter’s screw ups? You’re argument here is not strong at all, if the Gospels were edited they would have less embarrassing information. The fact that that information is in there adds credibility not diminishes it.
    5. Also a bad argument but slightly more interesting than #’s 3 & 4. Jesus was clear that the second coming was out of his hands (Mathew 24:26). This would take too long to explain but if you’d like I will make an attempt. Essentially Jesus fully human nature was being obedient to his fully divine nature – that being said he did not know the day or the hour. This is an example of Christ “emptying himself” in the form of a servant. This isn’t him emptying himself of his full divinity – no, this is his stature as an obedient servant coming into bloom.
    6. Probably your best argument here but I’d still give it a C- at best. Why? You’re correct to say that there was an internal struggle about what would be carried forward from Judaism you have to understand the culture. The culture was Hellenistic, Roman and Jewish plus now you’re adding Christianity. So, essentially you have four cultures in one. Think about it in your own context Bob, what constitutes a true agnostic/atheist? Is there some dissention there. How is that expressed outwardly? Can an atheist where a shirt with an Ichthys on it? This is some of what Paul and the NT church were dealing with, i.e. how is the faith going to be expressed outwardly?
    Secondly, there was debate about the nature of Christ (one body and two equal natures) and the nature of God (one nature in three persons) and these debates arose naturally as any would. The reason the view that was eventually accepted won out was due to (at least in a simple manner) (1) human reason prevailed and (2) the Holy Spirit guided the process. They were debating the Scriptures Bob – what it said in the text and what it meant. The primary assumption was that the Bible is Gods Word and so that’s what was debated. You really believe that Nestorianism might be true – for goodness sakes Bob they’re saying that Christ was two entire persons in one body! Common man.
    7. Interesting but we know this isn’t true. The oldest manuscripts that we have are the Dead Sea Scrolls and the copy of Isaiah is 1100 years older than the manuscript they had in possession previously (the Leningrad Codex). Guess what? Exactly the same except for minor grammatical differences but nothing that would effect a dogmatic or doctrinal assertion of the church.
    Finally number 8
    Your right Bob! But the reason it was fixed was because it had already been that way. What’s commonly said was that the church “chose” the books. This isn’t true. They rather, confirmed the books. Imagine yourself as an avid music fan and throughout your life you accumulate your favorite albums. Well, one day a dear friend takes all of your favorite albums and puts them into one collection and calls it “Bob’s Music Bible”. Now, following your logic your dear friend “chose” them, right? But what I am saying is that the individual just confirmed what was already true. Are you tracking?
    Christ is everything

    • First of all I’m disappointed

      Like pleasing you is a goal of mine? If you’re determined to be disappointed, I’m sure you will be.

      a book on this called “Did Jesus Exist?” where he says “yes”

      Yeah, and? I never argued otherwise.

      You really need to focus.

      Again, why would the disciples die for a lie?

      Again, I’ve already blogged on this. Search and ye shall find.

      If Jesus wasn’t who he said he was how could Christianity even get off its feet?

      So your hypothesis is that every religion is based on true miracles?

      I dare you to disprove the Resurrection, the tomb is empty – good luck!

      I have no interest in trying. The burden of proof is yours.

      However, I’ve written many posts on the Resurrection. Search.

      The Gospels are full of self incriminating and embarrassing information.

      (1) Probably less than you imagine. The Criterion of Embarrassment only works if it actually was embarrassing.

      (2) So what? You have a jumbled up mess of a story … so therefore, it’s true?

      change the fact that women discovered the tomb first

      Blogged about it.

      what about all of Peter’s screw ups?

      (1) So what?

      (2) Showing Peter as a screwup isn’t embarrassing … if you’re part of a faction that favored Paul and so wanted Peter to seem to be a screwup!

      if the Gospels were edited

      Not my claim.

      Jesus was clear that the second coming was out of his hands

      And Jesus was wrong that the second coming® was imminent. Oops.

      Probably your best argument here but I’d still give it a C- at best.

      You can keep your sanctimonious condescension to yourself, thanks.

      there was debate about the nature of Christ (one body and two equal natures) and the nature of God (one nature in three persons) and these debates arose naturally as any would.

      Yeah, I appreciate that. It’s quite understandable that Jesus would be here for 3 years and convey all the essential parts of the story. It must’ve just slipped his mind to explain the Trinity. Or resolve the dozens of heresies that he knew would pop up.

      Dude’s only human, right? It’s not like he’s God.

      The reason the view that was eventually accepted won out was due to (at least in a simple manner) (1) human reason prevailed and (2) the Holy Spirit guided the process.

      Sure—that … or simply that the Christianity that we know and understand was simply the flavor that happened to win out.

      Interesting but we know this isn’t true.

      Or you could read the blog post and respond to the complete argument there.

      The oldest manuscripts that we have are the Dead Sea Scrolls and the copy of Isaiah is 1100 years older than the manuscript they had in possession previously

      Uninteresting. We’re talking about the changes in the New Testament. The “scripture” was indeed carefully guarded against change. Not so for letters and ideas flying around in the ANE in the early days of Christianity.

      What’s commonly said was that the church “chose” the books. This isn’t true.

      It was a popularity contest. It wasn’t like God selected the correct ones; the ones that were most popular at the time became canon. So, yes, people did pick them.

      • MR

        Nice parry! I’m impressed.

        • KaganFan

          Did Abe Lincoln exist?

        • MR

          Errrrr…, sorry?

        • adam

          Does any believe that Abe Lincoln performed miracles, healed people and can get you eternal life just for the asking?

        • MR

          Oh, is that where that was going? Why was that directed at me? Oh, well, thanks, adam, for fielding that.

          Yeah, that’s one of my favorite lines of argumentation: “Nobody questions that Plato existed!” Yeah, well, obviously somebody wrote that stuff, and you can call him whatever you want. I could care less whether his name was really Plato or not.

          The real question is the context of what he (whoever he was) wrote. Some of it is good stuff, some of it is trash. He posited a theory of creation that is bunk, just like the Bible’s theory of creation is bunk. Did he exist? Sure. Was he right? Not necessarily. Did someone write the Gospels, of course. Are they true? Prove it to me.

        • fnorgby

          I contend that the historicity of Lincoln is unimportant. We only argue about Jesus because he holds an unjustifiably privileged place in our culture. Only the Christian’s world would be rocked by a revelation of Jesus’ nonexistence.

          No one’s world is predicated on the historicity of Lincoln, or King Arthur or Gulliver or Agamemnon. To me, Jesus is no different.

        • Otto

          Why yes he did….and did you know he hunted Vampires?

        • Kodie

          Is this a trick question? There are fucking photographs of him.

        • old_303

          what do you care – if there was a photograph of God would you believe?

        • Kodie

          Can you produce this?

        • old_303

          if someone could would you believe?

        • Kodie

          Who has it?

      • old_303

        Bob,
        1. You should make an attempt to put out good information that’s why I bring up hedonism. You’re readers demand it even if it’s false. I can watch a movie that I don’t particularly agree with but come out of it saying, “wow that was a masterpiece.” That’s what I’m getting at – you should make an attempt to put out better material that satisfies the reader. What you’re putting out is somewhat anemic.
        2. The Ehrman book was brought up because you dispute the historicity of Jesus in the Bible which Ehrman is not entirely disputing. So, what I’m saying is that you’re more in the vein of Bill Maher than Ehrman. Furthermore, the crucifixion of Christ is unique in several ways namely that (1) he wore a crown of thorns and (2) no bone was broken in his body – so it wasn’t just a “run of the mill” crucifixion as you imply.
        3. My hypothesis isn’t that every religion is true based on miracles but rather that miracles do happen (as confirmed by Keeners book). Obviously some so called miracles are phantasmal or simply even too incredible for it to be labeled “miraculous”, i.e. fantasy. So, with fantasy I might say that “the flying spaghetti monster is real” or perhaps that “there is a man living on the moon that eats green cheese.” What I’m claiming is that God does perform miracles but there are limitations which the Bible clearly gives us. So, this would discount many of the miraculous claims of world religions because most are in the phantasmal or fantasy category rather than the miraculous category.
        4. It’s like you expect Jesus to tell us what you’re going to have for lunch tomorrow. I know you’re talking about the Trinity here but for crying out loud how much does God have to explain. Does he have to tell us about how Angelic free will works? Does he have to tell us literally how many stars are in the universe? Does he have to tell us how three can be in one? Bob, you simply want too much man. What would it honestly and sincerely take for you to believe? Hypothetically what would God have to do?
        5. Your wrong again here. The letters were guarded and protected and the great consensus was for that information to be regarded as Scripture. When Paul says, “He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” in 1 Cor. 15 what do you think he’s referring to?
        6. I guess if you want to use the word “pick” in the sense that they literally placed them in what we now call “the Bible” sure but that’s not what is meant by what happened. What happened was they confirmed what was already the case Bob. You have to understand that the OT was already confirmed and the rest of the writings were only from Apostles or individuals extremely close to the events, i.e. Mark was a disciple of Peter and Luke was a disciple of Paul who also wrote Acts). They are all eyewitness accounts – how are they not?

        • What you’re putting out is somewhat anemic.

          Give examples of weak topics and the topics I should be writing about.

          you dispute the historicity of Jesus in the Bible

          Wrong. Again.

          miracles do happen (as confirmed by Keeners book)

          So one book says what you want to hear, so you declare it gospel?

          Keener is preaching to the choir. What he should do, of course, is get science to accept these as supernatural. That would be interesting. He knows he can’t do that, so he’s stuck with just selling to Christians. And you like a nice pat on the head, so you go for it.

          God does perform miracles but there are limitations which the Bible clearly gives us. So, this would discount many of the miraculous claims of world religions because most are in the phantasmal or fantasy category rather than the miraculous category.

          How convenient. You religion happens to be the metric against which everything else is judged.

          for crying out loud how much does God have to explain

          For starters, the Trinity. That the New Testament doesn’t have any clear discussion of it shows that it’s pretend.

          you simply want too much man

          I want compelling evidence, and you’re outraged that I turn up my nose at the crap you give me. Sounds like we’re never going to agree.

          The letters were guarded and protected and the great consensus was for that information to be regarded as Scripture

          We have evidence of the games played with the New Testament books. Half of the “Pauline” epistles weren’t written by Paul, for example.

          they confirmed what was already the case Bob

          The New Testament canon was honed by churches all over the Ancient Near East. It was a popularity contest. Those that were more popular were the ones that were voted in as canon.

          Mark was a disciple of Peter and Luke was a disciple of Paul who also wrote Acts). They are all eyewitness accounts – how are they not?

          There’s paltry evidence that they’re eyewitness accounts. You’ve not met your burden of proof.

        • Greg G.

          1. I liked The Life of Pi but I didn’t agree with it.
          2. Bob doesn’t dispute the existence of Jesus but I do. I have read a dozen of Ehrman’s books. I thought DJE would provide me with some good evidence for Jesus or a way to put it together that made sense. It turned out that I knew all the evidence and found that scholars really didn’t have a way to put it all together to prove Jesus existed. He didn’t do much to counter the evidence that Jesus is fictional.
          3. Keener lists claims of miracles. He didn’t verify any of them. He would be unqualified to do so and I think I recall something to that effect from him.
          4. If there was an omniscient, omnipotent being that you communicate with, you wouldn’t have to ask that question here.
          5. Ehrman points out that there are more discrepancies in the New Testament manuscripts than there are words in them. How did that happen? It has been shown that most of the changes to the manuscripts were done before they were canonized. Who knows how much was changed before the oldest manuscripts but the internal evidence exposes a lot.
          6. Luke says he was using other writers. Matthew, Luke and even John used Mark. We can identify the sources that Mark used for nearly every passage. Mark is more about the deeds of Moses, Elijah and Elisha.

        • old_303

          you’re trailing off buddy but keep trying.
          1. yep – my point exactly
          2. Your just like Bill Maher. To believe Jesus didn’t exist is to put yourself in an incredibly moronic category. Even the most liberal of Scholars believes Jesus existed and was a historical person.
          3. Correct, but if you watch his lectures there’s no question that he claims they’re true especially the ones from his family and people he’s known for long periods of time with sudden dramatic changes to their health status.
          4. Your forgetting omnipresent (must have skipped your mind)…the question still stands what would you have to do for you not for me. I’m already a believer. You tell me what it takes – I’m curious.
          5. One of the most oft quoted…almost all of the discrepancies are minor grammatical mistakes. Are you a brick (and yes I said “brick”)? What do you expect the scribes to do in that age – print everything perfectly? It was all done by hand. When they came across the name of God if they messed up they had to start the entire manuscript over! How many spelling errors are on this blog site? Are you prepared to say that any time there is a grammatical mistake then all of the information is discounted? Can you hold yourself to that argument, i.e. that your a perfect speller? Your a twit – when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and the Isaiah manuscript was carbon dated it was around 1100 years older than the Leningrad codex – guess what – hardly any mistakes and all of them were minor grammatical details. There is absolutely no evidence of any mistake by a scribe that would change a major church doctrine or even a minor one.
          6. Of course they used other writers – that’s called using resources like a “big boy”!

        • Greg G.

          2. NT scholars believe Jesus was an itinerant teacher/preacher from Nazareth in Galilee. The early epistles don’t support any of that. Paul says he didn’t learn anything about the gospel from humans but from scripture. I have posted all the verses that give information about Jesus from the Pauline epistles most agree are authentic and the OT reference the information came from. Yet Paul thinks he knows as much as the other apostles so he apparently doesn’t think they knew the historical Jesus either.
          3. Why do sick people who are not prayed for get better and it’s not a miracle but if somebody prays for a sick person and they get better, it’s a miracle?
          4. I have no idea what would convince me that there was an omnipotent being. That shouldn’t be a problem to a real omnipotent being. The fact that I don’t believe is proof that it doesn’t exist because if it did aND it was important for me to know that, it would ensure that I did.
          5. Sure and part of it is that we have so many manuscripts. But the vast majority are relatively recent. But Ehrman also list some discrepancies that cannot be reconciled and they have theological implications. Saying that most are grammatical errors doesn’t change that. Isaiah is not a New Testament writing. It doesn’t change the fact that there was a century of copying and editing. Margin notes were copied as text.
          6. If they are copying each other, you can’t claim the writings are eyewitness testimony. But worse for you is that they are writing things about Jesus that were about somebody else. They are taking quotes from the epistles and putting them in Jesus’ mouth.

        • You’ve got a long way to go before you’re at the “buddy” stage. And the condescension is just as appealing as ever.

      • Tony Debono

        Nailed it, Bob. Nicely done! (no sarcasm)

        • old_303

          like I said – just get on here and “pat each other on the back” as if you’ve all done a hard days work

          Bob, why don’t you give your little minions some meat – I mean take my arguments apart don’t just spurt off one liners like your “that smart”

        • Greg G.

          I just checked his posting history. It goes back two years and that was his first post in to any Cross Examined article.

      • Pofarmer

        The apologetics really don’t get better, do they. Same shit, umpteentn time.

    • adam

      1. This Bart Ehrman?

    • adam

      2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones
      3. For example, many thousands of Germans died during World War II based on
      the belief that they were the “master race” and were justified in
      conquering other nations for “living space”. Also during World War II,
      many Japanese civilians committed suicide rather than being captured by
      the Americans because of the false belief they would be mistreated. In
      1993, 76 people died at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco Texas
      because they believed their leader, David Koresh was a prophet of god.
      In 1997, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate committed suicide in the belief
      that a UFO following the comet Hale-Bopp would transport them to “Their
      World”. This argument would imply that Heaven’s Gate is just as true as
      Christianity.

      http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Would_someone_die_for_what_they_knew_was_a_lie%3F
      4.

      • old_303

        Horrible arguments
        1sr Hitler was a Darwinist along with Pol Pot and Stalin together they killed the most human beings in history and all were atheists and Darwinists

        2nd throwing orthodox Christianity in with a bunch of cults is pathetic. Even Richard Dawkins acknowledges that

        • adam

          1. Nope Hitler was a Christian, as much as you are.
          2. They all died for lie, that responds to YOUR question.

        • old_303

          Hitler was about as much a Christian as a razor blade is a feather. Obviously your committing the classic genetic fallacy

        • Rudy R

          That’s a “no true Scotsman” argument.

        • Kodie

          https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/genetic

          I think you need to learn what that means instead of just repeating everything you hear. Christianity is really whatever someone wishes it to be, to justify whatever they want to do. If you feel it is true in your “heart” you have no way of telling someone that how they arrived at their beliefs is false. NO. WAY. They came to it the same way you did. You can pretend you’re disgusted by Hitler but you can’t say he wasn’t a Christian the same way you are a Christian – he believed earnestly that he was doing god’s work, what god put him on earth to do. Nobody can tell the difference between how you got to believe and how a lunatic genocider got to his beliefs, they feel the same conviction to each of you.

        • old_303

          of course I can – Hitler doesn’t even follow the New Testament. Read it yourself – the only ones killing people in the NT are the Romans and Jews

        • adam

          The Church followed the NT and had Crusades, Inquisitions, The Protestants followed the NT had witch burnings, slavery and the burning and hanging of blacks and gays.

          Isnt it SUPPOSED to be the same ‘god’ in both the OT and NT?

        • Kodie

          That’s your interpretation.

        • adam

          Nope Hitler was as much a Christian as you are.

          And I didnt realize you two were related.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt5gLf455Q8

        • 90Lew90

          “Gott mitt uns!”

          My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…. And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people…. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.

          -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

        • Pofarmer

          Hitler was no Darwinist. Where do you guys “learn” this stupid shit! Drop the apologists, read some scholarship. Stalin and Pol Pot were communists.

        • I’ve written more on the topic of support for Darwin within the Third Reich (not much) here.

        • old_303

          your a horrible historian. Everyone knows that the Nazi’s performed Darwinist experiments. They ripped babies out of their mothers wombs – are you dumb?

        • Otto
        • old_303

          Wrong your confused, aren’t giving us the whole picture, and don’t understand basic English grammar.

          1. Hosea 13:16

          Key words here are “they will fall” “their little ones” and “their pregnant women.” God is not approving he is declaring what people will do to “they” “their” and “their”. He’s not advocating it he’s saying “this is what you’re going to do”. It’s all connected to rebellion against God as the first two lines of v. 16 indicate, i.e. “Samaria shall bear her guilt,
          because she has rebelled against her God;” So, Gods not approving he’s saying – “You guys are so rebellious that these awful things are going to happen to you as a result of your own rebellion against me.” This isn’t because he is doing the inflicting evil it’s because Samaria/Israel is inflicting evil upon itself. A similar thing could be said today with abortion. Man has so rebelled against God that it “rips pregnant women open”. All the result of rebellion against God

          2 Kings 15:16

          This would be so much easier if you’d just give us the rest of the verse like a decent student. Don’t be like Bob and only give the verses your looking to “parrot back” what you want them to say.

          v. 14 tells us that it is Menahem son of Gadi that is the culprit of this atrocity not God. God is not even in the passage anywhere – in fact, here is the whole section for the class,

          “Shallum King of Israel

          13 Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned in Samaria one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went from Tirzah up to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, assassinated him and succeeded him as king.

          15 The other events of Shallum’s reign, and the conspiracy he led, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel.

          16 At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He (“He” here is obviously referring to Menahem) sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.

        • Otto

          Hey, don’t get mad at me that the Nazi’s justified their awful behavior from your “Holy” book. Not my fault no one can seem to get the “context” correct including your fellow believers. Maybe your god should have been a little more careful in the editing process.

        • old_303

          again there’s no problems with the passages if 1. you can follow a story line and 2. understand basic grammar

        • Kodie

          Maybe you should learn the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ before you start lecturing people on “basic grammar ” (no punctuation, either?)

        • 90Lew90

          That drives the pedantic copy editor in me mad!

        • Otto

          That’s not a “me” problem that is a “you” (Christian) problem. Your god was apparently not clear enough in His “inspiration techniques” to keep the Nazi Christians in Germany from doing what they did based on their reading of your Holy Book.

        • Yes, Nazis were bad people. No, that says nothing about the truth of evolution.

        • old_303

          they did it because of Darwinian philosophy – read Charles Lyell

        • Kodie

          What the fuck is “Darwinian philosophy”?

        • Dys

          Charles Lyell can hardly be considered much of a Darwinist, considering he constantly equivocated on accepting natural selection. Also, the theory of evolution is descriptive, not prescriptive. It doesn’t tell anyone to do anything.

        • old_303

          right because a blog is so scholarly Bob

        • Kodie

          Are you being a snob? You can’t post your illiterate blather on a book!

        • I’m sensing that some little boy is about to get an early Christmas present! Unfortunately, it will be coal in his stocking.

          Present thoughtful arguments or get banned. My tolerance is low for Christian commenters who bring nothing to the table but a shallow assurance that Jeebus is their best friend. You’ve got a lot to learn and too much arrogance to do so. Change your ways, and you can stay.

        • old_303

          sweet! I love coal it can be used to do so many things!

        • MR

          Looks like we’re just dealing with another Greg manifestation. What a dick.

        • “Greg manifestation” – It must be God’s christmas present to you guys.

        • adam

          Yes, just like herpes…

          That is what we all want and need, ANOTHER ‘christian’ LIAR….

        • I’ll take your word for that. Regarding the promise that I made, I kept it- remember, I gave Bob his early Christmas present.
          Btw, In a sense, Bob gave us all Christmas presents with the posting of his debate video- thank you, Bob. Actually he is quite an accomplished public speaker- kudos to you, Bob.

        • MR

          Ah, we’re back to Dr. Jekyll now. You do enjoy manipulating people, don’t you.

        • adam

          Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)
          7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the Lord do all these things.

        • Because, I said Boo Hoo, be a man, I was mean. Little story, I once went to confession, over the course of 20 or so odd years of going almost every Saturday, I run into a priest who says “Oh, be a man.” I like you thought this was terrible! After a while these words started to mean more to me than any other spiritual direction I ever received in all those years. Those words coupled with the words, “God’s
          Grace is sufficient” have kept me on the path and as Yona had said, moving on… – I only wanted to share with you that which is important to me, Peace, MR.

        • 90Lew90

          How pathetic. You are… ‘Scott’. What a fucking twat.

        • MR

          Ah, my words must have stung you, that was when you disappeared and started this elaborate charade of Scott. I didn’t think you were being mean, I thought you were being childish. If you want respect, show respect.

          Do you consider lies, deception and manipulation being a man, Greg? Because I see it as childish and immature. If God existed, he doesn’t, do you think he would approve of your lies, deception and manipulation?

          You have shown me what’s important to you by your behavior, and it certainly has nothing to do with God’s grace. From what I’ve been taught by Christians, you don’t even deserve to bear the name of Christian.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know how many times someone has to advise you before you go ahead and stop being so defensive. You make claims and you don’t back them up. You think it is interesting to each and every one of us individually to hear about how you don’t have time to post the answer but promise you will get back to it later, it must take you 45 minutes to post all those notes. I’m agree with MR, you are being a hypocrite.

        • MR

          Greg—assuming you are Greg and not Scott—I owe you an apology for my post below as I did believe you and Scott were one and the same. He didn’t help any by playing along with the charade, and I took that to be an admission.

          The part about you being, not mean, rather childish with your snide remarks still stands, so try not to gloat too much; but most of what I wrote there was because I believed you to be him.

          It’s going to be difficult now to untwine in my mind your level of rudeness from his, but I’ll do my best.

          Not looking to be best buds here, so no more sharing of the peace, or whatever you Catholics do, but hopefully just clear the air a bit. My bad.

        • Kodie

          I take the fault, usually I have a pretty good record for spotting the similarities when someone posts under a new name but I did have little to go on. I’m sorry if I gave the impression I was practically certain.

        • MR

          No, I was already halfway there. The thought had occurred to me. The rudeness, the terrible sense of humor…. Scott really went far beyond, though. It was also just a bad coincidence that Greg bowed out right at that time.

        • You’ve got a good sense for that. It’s nuts that Christians make such a sense necessary.

        • adam

          Nope, you never demonstrated a non-material soul like you promised.

          YOU LIED.
          And you LIE again to cover up your deception.

        • Kodie
        • Then enjoy your coal. Merry Christmas.

        • Philmonomer

          It’s Christians like old_303 that give Christians a bad name.

          I’d be much more impressed with Christianity if professing Christians acted better than the population at large.

        • old_303

          oooooon ill just come back with another account. here comes the censorship police

        • Kodie

          So you don’t have any thoughtful arguments, is what you’re admitting.

        • adam

          Spreading the FEAR and HATE of the Creator of EVIL is their primary goal in life.
          Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the LORD do all these things.”

          Amos 3:6 “Shall
          a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall
          there be EVIL in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”

        • Uh, yeah. Your arguments are just too powerful, and I have to ban you to avoid admitting that you’ve torn through the tissue paper of my worldview. Or something.

        • MNb

          BobS’ blogs show more scholarship than any of the sources you rely on.

        • old_303

          and Karl Marx was a Darwinist

        • Pofarmer

          Obviously, belief in evolution leads to armageddon.

        • old_303

          it has before. Christianity doesn’t have that kind of track record.

        • Pofarmer

          I really wish you were kidding.

        • old_303

          lets hear where Christians killed more people than atheist regims – good luck buttercup

        • Pofarmer

          The history of Christianity is filled with all kinds of violence. Pointless dogmatic violence. Burning people alive, torturing them for what they thought. Most of the Great Religious wars, were, I guess Luckily, pre enlightenment, when there were many less people to kill, and much more laborious methods to do it. The Catholics wuped out the entire population of Cathars, for instance, and millions were killed in the crusades. Thousands were killed and untold multitudes terrorrized by the the various Inquisitions, all of this religion thought justified to protect “the true belief”, whatever that is. And, all this was done in the name of Christianity. No one has been killed in the name of Atheism. Atheism is the non belief in YOUR God, along with everybody elses that you also reject. It doesn’t imply or promote any action. On the other hand, Communism, democratic Socialism, and other apolitical movements have opposed theocratic institutions and rules as a matter of threat to their own survival. So, you can keep on with this pointless drivel, or make some substantial points, which you also can’t because your sources frankly suck.

        • Show me one person killed in the name of atheism, Buttercup.

        • adam

          Read Revelations, Armageddon is the GOAL…

          Jesus wont come back until mass destruction/mass murder is the norm.

          What a guy!

        • MNb

          Look, we know that creationists are stupid. But may I remind you that Marx wrote The Communist Manifest in 1848, well before Darwin published his book?
          And so what if Marx was a Darwinist? It doesn’t follow that creationism is valid.

        • 90Lew90

          Marx was a Hegelian. Marxian communism is more like Christianity without the mysticism — all men equal and all that — that’s why the Church felt so threatened by Marxist ideology and railed against it. It was Christianity without the bullshit. Suck it up.

        • Kodie

          Hey Greg, where you been?

          Yes old, you do make horrible arguments.

        • Pofarmer

          You just might be right.

        • Kodie

          I can’t say just ’cause Greg upvoted old’s comment, but old is a new account, so for that matter, relatively, is Scott. I really don’t think someone like Greg would think it was productive to create a character like old_303 but I thought it was Scott before. I just can’t understand why Christians don’t, you know, pssst hey, you sound really dumb and you’re making the rest of us look stupid, so can it. Instead, no matter how dumb someone is, the rest of them upvote the shit out of them. This guy is stupider than Norm.

        • Pofarmer

          And he is now getting unpleasant, as well.

        • Kodie

          You mean the cursing with one letter off? It’s weird that Greg is reading but not writing, so hey Greg, we know at least one of these new morons is probably you.

        • Stop it. I won’t do that to you. And these other guys do make good points, you need to deal with it.

        • Kodie

          Fake lawyer, you think they are making good points because they make the same kind of points you do – none. Baseless assertions and opinions are not points, and when asked to go further in the discussion, they run away, or act like a child. I would not like to “deal with it” and part of my atheism is informed by the habits of Christians being so dumb they don’t know how dumb they are even when you point it out to them.

          YOU LEARN NOTHING.

        • You really are a skeptic. Btw, what did you think of the video of Bob’s debate. I was able to watch the introduction and first round – Bob did alright, so far….

        • adam

          I still think you are a LIAR for LYING…

        • Kodie

          I didn’t watch it.

        • Put it on your list. If I could, for the part that I watched, I would give Bob an upvote.

        • MNb

          “You really are a skeptic.”
          No skepticism needed, just observation. The things you write about atheism and science are just as silly and wrong as they were when you entered this blog.

        • I come at this from a different place than the scientist, but I am all ears and eyes- here’s what I have noticed about you and others, you set your self up to be knocked down.when you proclaim yourself to an authority. I find it embarrassing for you when someone comes along who has a little more than you and puts you in your place. MNb, I do believe you are special, but this means more is expected from you. Here comes the substance – correct me if I am wrong, your students, friends, and families that look up to you, I will wager that 99% of them are people of faith – you know why? Because believing in God is a real way to live through hardship. I pray that their faith rubs off on you. .

        • Kodie

          List the people who have put MNb in “his place”.

        • 90Lew90

          It’s a pretty bad reflection on you that you’re impressed by Yonah. I mean, the guy can’t even string a sentence. I’ve seen better exposition from one of those new-age bullshit generators. Like this one: http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/

        • MNb

          “you set your self up to be knocked down.when you proclaim yourself to an authority”
          That’s the point of the scientific method. It must be crystal clear for others what to do to prove me wrong. Sure enough that happened to me a couple of times. At the other hand as a teacher maths and physics I know quite well how far my authority goes.

          “MNb, I do believe you are special”
          I don’t.

          “I pray that their faith rubs off on you.”
          You waste your time, as my students, friends and families know as well. Moreover you’re wrong – they don’t look up to me. Perhaps some students do, but one of the important points of the way I teach them is not looking up to me, as I’m exactly as human as they are. Challenging authority is a key element in science.

        • MNb

          I have yet to meet the first creationist who doesn’t get unpleasant after seeing his non-arguments debunked.

        • adam

          It is just the VERY BEST that their ‘faith’ has prepared them for, to be DECEPTIVE and LIE for their ‘god’ the Creator of EVIL..

        • MNb

          I have yet to meet the first honest creationist.

        • Mentioned to Kodie, on the other site, it’s hard to write comments and read up on all these ideas you have been providing. I am enjoying giving my support to some good arguments, in my opinion. – Po, you referred me to Neil Degrasse Tyson – so I’m driving up I95 in CT and there’s a bill board – he’s going to be at Mohegan Sun! The thing is, what, is he some kind of performer like, David Copperfield? Kinda got the feeling, his credibility was tarnished.

        • Kodie

          You have time to keep posting 20 times almost the same thing about not having time to keep up. Neil Degrasse Tyson is a scientist, an astrophysicist, he does lectures, he’s a very interesting guy. You are judging someone’s credibility based on a billboard? What a biased asshole you are.

        • Pofarmer

          You honestly don’t know who Neil Degrasse Tyson is?

        • I guess I’m learning, what I’m offended by is that you and Kodie didn’t think I was Yona.

        • Kodie

          Not even close.

        • adam

          ‘honestly’

          LOFLMAFO…………

        • 90Lew90

          It’s not unheard of for accomplished specialists to do public speaking.

        • old_303

          still haven’t demonstrated how they’re “horrible”

        • Greg G.

          Hitler was not a Darwinist. If he really thought Jews were so bad, he could have waited for natural selection to make them extinct. He took an active role in culling them out of the population.

        • old_303

          through Darwinian experiments this is common knowledge “Greg” a.k.a “the specialist”

        • Greg G.

          They were medical experiments. Now run along and refuse to believe in medicine because Hitler believed in it. Hitler liked dogs so you should become a cat person. Be sure to shave because Hitler had a moustache. Hitler breathed so you should stop that immediately.

        • old_303

          Wow –
          You’re wrong Greg, it was pure evil what they did to those people and what they did to those poor helpless babies. You’re a sick individual

        • Greg G.

          I agree that what they did to people was quite horrible. You brought up the subject to score rhetorical points. It’s the opposite of Darwinism, if that word refers to Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection as choosing to kill a group of people is unnatural selection.

          The people who were willing to do that had a hatred for the Jews from the writings of Martin Luther and the Catholic Church prayers that blamed the Jews for killing Jesus. Christianity was more to blame than Darwin was.

        • old_303

          Obviously you’ve been indoctrinated by your “idoled atheists”. Yes, Martin Luther had some anti-semetic remarks but you’re focusing in on one section of his life. He never advocated anything remotely close to what Hitler and his Nazi regim implemented. You’re still not understanding the implications of Darwinian philosophy, i.e. that we’re just matter therefore no God. This is why Charles Lyell said he wanted to dismantle the Laws of Moses through Darwinism. Dismantle the Laws of Moses and what do you get – exactly what the Nazis did

        • Otto

          Really, this sounds pretty close…

          “In 1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that the Jews are a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.”[13] They are full of the “devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine.”[14] The synagogue was a “defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut …”[15] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[16] afforded no legal protection,[17] and these “poisonous envenomed worms” should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[18] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing “[w]e are at fault in not slaying them”.[19]”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_and_antisemitism

        • adam

          Sounds like pretty much exactly what happened by those Lutherans in Germany.

        • Kodie

          Says the person who doesn’t question what any religious authority tells them…

        • I wonder how much Luther’s anti-Semitism affected Germany to justify Nazi violence. Said another way, I wonder how history would’ve played out in Germany without Luther’s anto-Semitism.

        • adam

          It was the core element that enable the Nazi’s to create a ‘boogie man’ to rally it’s people together and justify treating ‘others’ as subhuman, all by Luther’s writings.

        • MNb

          The Holocaust stands in the same tradition as Luther’s dirty little book (see above).

        • McJakome

          Christians will continue to refuse to see all this evidence because the Catholics want to be blind to Catholic antisemitism and the Protestants want to be blind to Luther’s antisemitism.

          Because they will NOT own up to their own religion’s guilt, and because to do this they must blame the innocent, they are bad Christians destined for Hell by their own beliefs.

        • MNb

          “Martin Luther had some anti-semetic remarks”

          Every creationist sticks to his stupid ignorance. Martin Luther was a full blown anti-semite. He wrote a book about it:

          http://www.nobeliefs.com/luther.htm

        • Greg G.

          You have been unsurprisingly misinformed. The ideas espoused by Martin
          Luther are not remote at all from what went on in Nazi Germany. Hitler
          credited Martin Luther as a great reformer in Mein Kampf.

          Some Nazi officials who took Martin Luther as a good example to follow:
          Walter Buch, the head of the Nazi Party court
          Hans Hinkel, Goebbels’ Reich Chamber of Culture
          Erich Koch, Reich Commissioner for Ukraine and President of the East
          Prussian Protestant Church Synod
          Bernhard Rust, Minister of Education
          Hans Schemm, Bavarian Minister of Education and Culture, famous for
          saying “Our religion is Christ, our politics Fatherland!”

          In brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have
          Jews under your rule– if my counsel does not please your, find better
          advice, so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish
          burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the
          lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews
          indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus
          Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and
          ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safe-conduct, or communion
          with us. . . . With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to
          cleanse and exonerate my conscience.

          Let the government deal with them in this respect, as I have
          suggested. But whether the government acts or not, let everyone at
          least be guided by his own conscience and form for himself a
          definition or image of a Jew.

          Accordingly, it must and dare not be considered a trifling matter but
          a most serious one to seek counsel against this and to save our souls
          from the Jews, that is, from the devil and from eternal death. My
          advice, as I said earlier, is:
          First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able
          toss sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw
          in some hellfire…
          Second, that all their books– their prayer books, their Talmudic
          writings, also the entire Bible– be taken from them, not leaving them
          one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be
          converted…
          Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give
          thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country…
          Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our
          hearing. For we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or
          tolerate it…

          But what will happen even if we do burn down the Jews’ synagogues and
          forbid them publicly to praise God, to pray, to teach, to utter God’s
          name? They will still keep doing it in secret. If we know that they
          are doing this in secret, it is the same as if they were doing it
          publicly. For our knowledge of their secret doings and our toleration
          of them implies that they are not secret after all and thus our
          conscience is encumbered with it before God.

          If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in
          their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven
          from our country.

          …they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their
          hearts. Their prayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the
          many stories which relate their torturing of children and all sorts of
          crimes for which they have often been burned at the stake or banished.

          …that everyone would gladly be rid of them.

          If I had power over the Jews, as our princes and cities have, I would
          deal severely with their lying mouth.

          They [rulers] must act like a good physician who, when gangrene has
          set in proceeds without mercy to cut, saw, and burn flesh, veins,
          bone, and marrow. Such a procedure must also be followed in this
          instance. Burn down their synagogues, forbid all that I enumerated
          earlier, force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses
          did…
          If this does not help we must drive them out like mad dogs.

          All quotes from Martin Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies

          I’m not sure where this one came from:
          If I had to baptize a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe,
          hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words “I
          baptize thee in the name of Abraham”” –Martin Luther

        • lorasinger

          Check into a book written by Luther called “ON Jews and their Lies”. He was a violent anti-Semitist.

        • Greg G.

          That’s the book most of those quotes came from.

        • smrnda

          Luther’s antisemitic pamphlets were almost a script for the third reich.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it fair to say Moses did exactly the same thing?

        • lorasinger

          I think there’s more to the Charles Lyell story. This is what I found “A perfect example to illustrate the fallacy of this self-imposed blindness is the battle between uniformitarianism and catastrophism. Since catastrophism was associated, to some degree, with religious beliefs, it fell quickly out of favor with scientists who preferred not to believe in Creation. – See more at: http://www.allaboutscience.org/sir-charles-lyell-faq.htm#sthash.tDUUhD5q.dpuf

        • McJakome

          Here is part of what Martin Luther wrote, which is MUCH more detailed and direct than the misapplied quote mines you morons try to pin on Darwin.:
          to burn down Jewish synagogues and schools and warn people against them;
          to refuse to let Jews own houses among Christians;
          for Jewish religious writings to be taken away;
          for rabbis to be forbidden to preach;
          to not offer protection for Jews on highways;
          for usury to be prohibited, and for all silver and gold to be removed, put aside for safekeeping and given back to Jews who truly convert; and
          to give young, strong Jews flail, axe, spade, spindle, and let them earn their bread in the sweat of their noses.

        • smrnda

          There you have it – Martin Luther, architect of the ghetto.

        • McJakome

          How many duplicated posts detailing the errors in moronic misinformation posts will it take to open the eyes of the willfully blind? Information is so easy to get these days, the refusniks just seem to be behaving in an insane way, one definition of which is continuing to do the same unproductive thing in the same way hoping for a different outcome.

        • MNb

          I totally agree that it was pure evil. It was also the result of pure, undiluted creationism as I showed above. Sorry pal, you’re the sick individual. Because you share the exact same views that lead to those experiments.

        • adam

          Pure evil?

          Hitler can’t help YOU
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt5gLf455Q8

        • Grow up

        • McJakome

          Hitler was a Roman Catholic, who never recanted and who was never excommunicated. Hitler also got antisemitic hate from another good German, Martin Luther. Perhaps you have heard of Martin Luther, one of the FOUNDERS of Protestantism, not a random layman? Luther wrote:

          On the Jews and Their Lies (German: Von den Jüden und iren Lügen) So now proclaim that Martin Luther is the source of antisemitism, and Nazism, not Darwin, won’t you!

        • 90Lew90

          So-called ‘social Darwinism’ has nothing to do with Darwin, who would have been appalled by it, and neither has it anything to do with Darwinism. That is common knowledge. It’s a political corruption and bastardisation of Darwinism based on a deliberate miscontrual of what is meant by “the survival of the fittest”.

          It’s interesting that Christians fall over themselves to blame people like Darwin and Nietzsche for the crimes of the Nazis, when it is staring them in the face that they laid the ground for those crimes.

          Similarly, the Catholic church blamed all and sundry for the crimes its staff perpetrated against children for god knows how long. They blamed the devil, they blamed the gays. They blamed the media. They blamed the 1970s. They blamed the sexual revolution. They blamed communism. They blamed the victims. They did everything they could to avoid taking a fucking good look at themselves.

          In avoiding taking responsibility, or introspection, Christians have form.

        • MNb

          “1sr Hitler was a Darwinist”
          BWAHAHAHAHA! Nothing as funny as stupid creationist ignorance. Do you recognize this stuff?

          “iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind.”

          “The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger.”
          Yup, that’s pure, undiluted creationism. The quotes literally come from Mein Kampf. Read the book – it’s on line – and you will find them.

        • lorasinger

          No, Hitler was a Roman Catholic and is still in good standing to this day. He was an avid follower also of Martin Luther who was a virulent anti-Semitic having written “On Jews and their Lies”. Hitler declared that he was killing Jews for Jesus.
          /
          As far as murder goes, Christianity from its beginnings has killed of more than Hitler, Pot Pol, and Stalin put together.
          /
          Christianity began as a cult as well, Guest. And even now, it’s the just the lastest of the pagan sacrificial man god stories of Greco Roman times.

        • McJakome

          It is discouraging to keep hearing these many-times refuted falsehoods and logical fallacies. We really must ramp up our educational systems, too many people have too little knowledge and no knowledge of critical thinking skills.

        • lorasinger

          It’s going to be a tough go with them determined to grow a crop of fundamentalist thinking teachers for even public school classrooms. They’re also opening religious schools of law with a view, I expect, to enter government and influence changes in law as well. The situation is much like being over run by bedbugs in a house.

        • McJakome

          Michelle Bachmann is one of the first crop, a fag hag, Swiss Nazi, fundamentalist, Christofascist, dominionist, wanna-be theocrat.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBTgbU5S3dw

        • lorasinger

          The woman is crazy.

        • MNb

          “We really must ramp up our educational systems”

          Won’t help – apologists are apologists. Underneath the article “Sh*t Christians Say I gave some examples coming from my native country:

          http://www.gjerutten.nl/FineTuning_ERutten.pdf

          Page 6.

          “Zo bestaat er geen goede empirische ondersteuning voor de multiversum hypothese. De hypothese heeft binnen de natuurkunde dan ook een erg hoog speculatief karakter. Het is bovendien ad hoc omdat er naast het willen verklaren van de fine tuning niet of nauwelijks andere goede redenen zijn om van een multiversum uit te gaan. ”

          “For instance there is no good empirical support for the multiversum hypothesis. That’s why the hypothesis within physics has a very high speculative character. Moreover it’s ad hoc because besides the desire to explain fine tuning there are no or hardly good reasons to postulate a multiversum.”

          Yeah, ER, what about “the good empirical support” for a fine-tuner?

          “Maar dan kan God onmogelijk slecht zijn omdat het groter, perfecter is om goed dan om slecht te zijn.”

          “God impossibly can be evil because it is greater, more perfect to be good than to be evil.”

          “Een kwaadaardige God heeft dus iets nodig buiten zichzelf om kwaadaardig te zijn. Een goede God heeft echter helemaal niets buiten zichzelf nodig om goed te zijn.”

          An evil God needs something outside itself to be evil. A good God at the other hand doesn’t need anything at all outside itself to be good.”

          “Het goede is eenvoudiger dan het kwade.”

          “Good is simpler than evil.”

          http://filosofie.be/blog/emanuel-rutten/3465/is-god-goed/

          “Wij kunnen de werkelijkheid alleen maar begrijpen in zoverre deze zich logisch door ons laat ordenen. Maar er blijft altijd een werkelijkheid over die veel te bizar is om logisch te worden beschreven.”

          “We only can understand reality in so far as we can arrange order in it by logical means. But there will always remain a reality which is way too bizarre to be described logically.”

          Jan Riemersma

          “As we will conclude that the inability to explain sexual reproduction [by natural selection – MNb] poses a challenge for the naturalistic worldview at large, we will end this study by discussing dualistic, vitalistic and finalistic doctrines as potential alternatives to account for biological phenomena.”

          http://dare.ubvu.vu.nl/bitstream/handle/1871/39335/dissertation.pdf?sequence=1

          Dutch apologists receive doctor degrees for stuff like this.

        • McJakome

          No. Those lies don’t work anymore because people can easily research them. Making them just adds further discredit to the religion and its lying apologists.

    • oldabatt

      God is alive and she’s Black!

    • lorasinger

      The man Jesus might very well have lived. The man god Jesus of present day Christianity is Paul’s invention based on other pagan men gods born of virgins.
      /
      Why do extremists blow themselves up or fly into buildings? For the same reason. They BELIEVE the story whether its true or not.
      /
      Christianity got to the top of the heap by killing off its opposition.
      /
      The entire bible has been edited. When compared to the earliest surviving copies of the bibles, Codex Bobiensis for instance, there are some pretty stark interpolations and forgeries. Even in the NT, the last 12 verses of mark are later Christian add ons, Matthew 28:19 is a forgery written to support the trinity.
      /
      No, they chose the books at the Council of Nicea. There were some 40 gospels but only 4 were chosen because it seemed like a good number. Revelation was such a crazy book, it only made it by 3 votes. Many texts were destroyed or hidden away, probably in the Vatican.

    • McJakome

      1. New evidence can and does refute old evidence, new discoveries result in changes in theories etc. This is a particularly inane argument since Bart Ehrman has changed his beliefs from fundamentalist to skeptic as a result of his research.
      2. Why would Mormons die for a lie [and some of them, including Smith’s first wife knew he was a liar and womanizer]. Secular Jews who disbelieved in the Torah died fighting to protect other, believing, Jews. More irrational argumentation.
      The other points are equally bad. They are too divorced from reality to be believed by anyone with critical thinking skills.

    • Kermit Freehand

      Are you saying the Muslim suicide bombers are representing the truth, then? After all, who would die for a lie? I think you’re missing an important step in your argument: nobody dies for an assertion which they believe is a lie. A willingness to die is strong evidence for strong feelings, but not a very good test for truth.

  • Sophia Sadek

    You have omitted the centuries of warfare that ensued between the creation of an orthodox creed and the final suppression of competing paradigms.

    • old_303

      Could you provide more details as to what exactly your referring to?

      • MNb

        There is an abundance of examples to exactly refer to. A random choice:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism

        • $135889854

          old_303 has a point Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot along with abortion all stem from Darwinian thinking/philosophy

        • adam

          NO Hitler took his que from Christianity.

          Darwinian thinking doesnt support abortion, the dna of that conception might have an advantage in the changing environment.

        • Dys

          Only if you don’t bother understanding it.

        • McJakome

          Except that Hitler was a Roman Catholic who got antisemitism from Martin Luther as well as the Vatican, and Stalin was a seminary student studying to be a priest.

        • Kermit Freehand

          Millions of people starved in the Soviet Union because Stalin and Lysenko actively rejected mainstream biology, particularly Darwinian evolutionary theory.

      • Sophia Sadek

        The most famous set of wars conducted for the propagation of orthodoxy occurred under Emperor Justinian. There is a great deal of literature available on the topic. There were less spectacular wars leading up to that climax. A more recent set of wars in the name of the propagation of orthodoxy were called Crusades. You may have heard something about them.

        • McJakome

          I really particularly liked “Justinian and Theodora” and “The Medieval Papacy.” If it had lots of sleazy modern pictures in it, the second would be a lot like the supermarket tabloids.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Thanks for the pointers.

  • Oh the chance to posit a theory! Alright here goes.
    For various psychological, sociological, economic and political reasons it has been valuable for societies to adopt religions for large portions of human history. This can be plainly evidenced by the widespread independent propagation of religion in different societies and groups.
    This one isn’t very complicated, the reason Christianity survives today is it ended up being the religion that Rome picked in the end. Rome, being Rome, was huge and had access to lots of possible religions, and being the large melting pot that it was with the troubling times it was going through all the competing regional deities, pantheons, and various other worship practices ended up getting whittled down to Christianity for the two major reasons that it had some things that appealed to people at the time (immortality being big), and that the right people at the right time were worshipping it.
    Other religions all had their own holy books, their own prophets, their own legends and stories. If Rome had picked one of them (or if some other country had upstaged Rome on the global stage), we’d be sitting here having much the same debates about say… Marduk right now. Almost all of the religions created at that time were going to have weird stories, unverifiable claims, sketchy documentation and countless arguing teachers and prophets. If one of the other ones had been picked it would have been whittled down in much the same way Christianity has, distilled and changed over the long years after to create whatever that religion would look like today. Because of the way religions were birthed and treated at the time they’d likely end up just as awkward to look at historically now 2000 years later.

    • There are lots of forks in the road on the path that got us to where we are now. Even if we take Christianity’s popularity as a given, there were lots of very different flavors that are unknown today.

  • waitsmt

    jesus was charismatic leader of peace party, so war party got him killed…about 30 years later jews rebelled with result being worst massacre of jews before hitler—eventually rome absorbed christianity and vatican became successor to roman
    empire—christianity being amalgam of jewish and greek theology. religion is politics…moses worked for pharaoh.

    • 90Lew90

      I rrr-UV America!

  • lorasinger

    Pretty close to being on the mark except that the man god was Paul’s invention and his Christianity spread very quickly because the pagans he was preaching to were already used to sacrificial men gods and all one had to do was have faith. The poor were particularly attracted to it because after death, the hereafter would be the great equalizer with the richer classes. Jesus followers didn’t fare all that well and were either reabsorbed into the main body of Judaism or just disappeared after being declared heretics by Paul’s Christians.

  • MikeG

    I propose a question Bob: Would we today even know what christianity is if not for the conversion of Constantine ?

    • I imagine we would. We know of other Jewish sects and extinct religions.

      I’m guessing your point is that Christianity is widespread, not because its claims are accurate but because of lucky breaks. I’d certainly agree with that.

  • Alicia

    Nothing I can disagree with here!