Clueless John the Baptist

Clueless John the Baptist March 14, 2015

John the Baptist was in prison when he heard the marvelous stories about Jesus, and he sent his disciples to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).

Whaaa … ? This is a remarkable question! John the Baptist doesn’t know whether Jesus is the Messiah or not?

John was pretty clear about who Jesus was when he baptized him. Not only did he recognize Jesus’s priority and ask that Jesus baptize him (Matt. 3:14), but he heard a voice from heaven proclaiming Jesus as God’s son. His conclusion at the time: “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One” (John 1:34).

John’s very purpose was to be the messenger who would prepare the way (Matt. 11:10). How could he not know?

The familiarity probably went back even further, since John and Jesus were related. Their mothers were cousins (or “relatives”—see Luke 1:36), and Jesus’s mother Mary stayed with John’s mother Elizabeth for the last trimester of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Heck, the boys might have played together.

And John has to ask who Jesus is?

We find more confusion in the John the Baptist story when we try to figure out who John really is. Jesus cites an Old Testament prophecy that says that the messenger who will prepare the way for the Messiah would be the prophet Elijah. Jesus then makes clear that John the Baptist is this reincarnation of Elijah (Matt. 11:14).

But wait a minute—in another gospel, John makes clear he’s not Elijah (John 1:21).

This is the problem with harmonizing the gospels: they don’t harmonize. We shouldn’t treat them as history but the end product of a long and harrowing journey during which much was probably lost, added, and changed, but we don’t know what.

As Randel Helms in Gospel Fictions puts it, the gospels were intended “less to describe the past than to affect the present.” Let’s treat them for what they were meant to be, documents making a theological point rather than history.

When I was a child, 
I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child, 
I thought as a child, 
but when I became a man, 
I put away childish things.
— 1 Cor. 13:11

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 8/27/12.)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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  • Greg G.

    I think John the Baptist was invented by Mark. I posted about that elsewhere earlier today. The account in Josephus appears to be forged.

    Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2 is bracketed by comments that the defeat of Herod’s troops were thought by the Jews to be punishment from God because of the killing of John. It seems unusual that Josephus would say that twice when he writes two chapters later that it was believed that Herod lost everything as punishment from God for listening to a woman. The passage states that Herod sent John to “Macherus, the castle I before mentioned” but where it was mentioned in the previous paragraph, it belonged to King Aretas, the king who defeated him.

    Mark says that John’s baptism was for “the remission of sins”. The later gospels seem to have an uneasiness with Jesus needing sins remissed. Matthew has John saying Jesus should baptize him but Jesus seems to want to do it for fun or something. Luke just happened to have moved the Mark’s story about John’s imprisonment to the verses immediately before Jesus is baptized. John only has John the Baptist talking about seeing the dove come out of heaven but not actually admitting to baptizing Jesus. So when the passage in Josephus specifically says that the baptism was not for the remission of sins, it provides the motive for a Christian to insert the forgery, probably when the other gospel were being written in the early second century or so.

    • I’ve read that there was a cult of John the Baptist, and the early Jesus followers wanted to acknowledge John’s importance (to please that cult) but say that he actually acknowledged the supremacy of Jesus (to pull them in). Thoughts?

      • Greg G.

        The Mandaeans came up in my discussion with Ophis. They still exist and claim their religion preceded Christianity. They don’t seem eager to share their evidence. Perhaps their cult goes back to the Sumerian Enki and adjusted it to JtB via natural selection as Christianity spread. Saying you worshiped John the Baptist might have been much safer than some Sumerian deity. Just my guesses and speculations.

        Ha! Wikipedia says “the Mandaeans claim direct descent from Noah.” Doesn’t everybody who believes in Noah?

        PS:
        Rereading the question, I think you mean the claims of Jesus Minimalists. They have a hard time making sense of the gospels because they expect to find kernels of truth in there. They think if the miracles are removed, the rest is plausible. I think if you remove everything that was previously attributed to somebody else in the literature of the day, you can get rid of the miracles and a whole mess of other nonsense. That leaves a skeleton of Jesus immediately traveling here and there for no reason with nothing to say.

        • Perhaps their cult goes back to the Sumerian Enki and adjusted it to JtB
          via natural selection as Christianity spread. Saying you worshiped John
          the Baptist might have been much safer than some Sumerian deity. Just
          my guesses and speculations.

          That supposed safety would have been negated by their open contempt for Jesus. Saying “we follow John the baptist” might have improved their safety; following it up with “but we think Jesus is a dick” would have notably reduced it.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, those would have been Darwined out of the gene pool, too. 80)

        • AliKat

          The explanation that I hear most often for Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s interaction is that Jesus was a follower of John the B before John the B got killed off. The Christians couldn’t cover up the known interaction Jesus had with another messiah claimant so the gospel writers made up stuff about what John the B said and thought of Jesus-a bit of pious fraud.

      • Greg G.

        Bob, I noticed that the Daylight Atheism blog listed eight Recent Comments. Is that something you can adjust? Sometimes five isn’t enough. I would like “almost too many”, not “too many”, but just a little less, please.

        • With some difficulty, yes, that is changeable. How many would you like?

          But is Recent Comments good for anything? I hadn’t thought so (I like “Most popular posts,” for example) but if I’m missing some value, let me know.

        • Kodie

          I catch some interesting activity going on in a thread I never subscribed to sometimes in the recent posts. A couple extra posts might give the list some of that variety.

        • OK, thanks for the feedback. I didn’t know that was good for much. How many would you like to see listed?

        • Kodie

          I don’t know, it only happens once in a while. Most of the threads are current and go to my email. When there is a new topic, I subscribe to it so I don’t miss things that I might be less active in, but sometimes a visitor revives a thread that I never posted to or probably saw the first time, and there are so many posts in the recent posts that I have to go see what’s going on. .

        • Greg G.

          I like to see when new activity is happening in an old thread or the current thread. You can’t just try to find recent comments by going to the blog post when it has 2500 comments.

          When I wake up, it’s good to see who MNb and Pofarmer are addressing.

          At other times, you can check out some and respond to a couple, then go back and refresh the page for some more victims correspondents.

          You can drag a link to the tab for the browser window or even a separate window to go directly to the comment once Disqus loads.

          I wish they had a “Show More Recent Comments” at the bottom of the list.

        • Wow–I didn’t know you could drag a link to the browser address bar.

          OK, I’ll see if I can get 10 comments shown–sound good?

        • Greg G.

          OK. As long as it’s not 11. That would be too many.

        • Philmonomer

          Nice change. Very helpful. Thanks.

        • I’m glad it’s helpful. Let me know if any other ideas come to mind (except “eliminate all ads”–that would take an act of God).

    • TheNuszAbides

      “…but Jesus seems to want to do it for fun or something.”

      one of the key tenets of Buddy Christ(TM).

  • Greg G.

    The story of JtB’s conception is pretty good, too. Luke 1:5 starts out telling about the priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth who were righteous and blameless and well advanced in years. One day, Zacharias draws the incense arson lot which he had probably done a few hundred times. But for the first time in his life, a supernatural being appears and tells him that he is going to get his wife knocked up. Zacharias expresses some age-related doubts, which pisses off Gabriel who told him to shut up. When Gabriel says to shut up, he means for the better part of a year.

    Several months later, Gabriel pops in on Mary. Gabriel tells her that she will get pregnant. Mary expresses doubt because she is a virgin. Gabriel must have been chewed out by the boss because he doesn’t tell her to shut up. It’s a good thing because the getting pregnant supernaturally is such a good excuse, it would have been a shame to be mute and stoned before you could say it.

    • Zacharias expresses some age-related doubts, which pisses off Gabriel who told him to shut up.

      Reminds me of the Immanuel story in Isaiah 7. The prophet Isaiah tells King Ahaz to ask God for a sign of victory in an upcoming battle.

      Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” Seems like a reasonable thing to do. Doesn’t the Bible make that very demand somewhere else?

      Anyway, that wasn’t the right answer, and this is why Judah was sent into exile.

      • Wick Samuel

        Judah sent in to exile over a 100 years after Ahaz.
        Ahaz refusing to ask for a sign was not the reason.

        Bob: consider reading before writing..

        • Don’t ever change, man. You help support my stereotype of the hateful Christian. If you became constructive instead of demeaning, I wouldn’t know how to take it.

          “The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.” (Is. 7:17)

          Ouch–sounds like some bad consequences for pissing off the Lord.

  • Wick Samuel

    This is the problem with harmonizing the gospels: they don’t harmonize.

    A lot of people who really arent familiar with the gospels ask that same question.

    Why was John asking Jesus if He was the one that was to come? (Matthew 11)

    Why did the disciples ask him if they could sit at his left and right? (Mark 10)

    Why did the people try and make him king by force? (John 6:15)

    You need to understand that at the time the Jewish expectation of a Messiah was that He would sit on the earthly throne of David. Jesus only let the disciples in on his real purpose late in His ministry, and even then they didnt want to believe it. Matthew 16

    During Jesus 3 year ministry, he preached under the old covenant, he preached keeping the Law, perfectly, to get into Heaven. The purpose of that preaching was to show them that they had never faithfully kept the law, that they could never get into Heaven that way, to prepare them for salvation by grace thru faith (this is what you got confused on the other day Bob). The New Covenant, the one established by Jesus himself, never came into effect until Jesus died on the cross, that’s why so much of what Jesus says can be confusing for people reading the bible the first time. Jesus seems to be preaching a works salvation, an in a very real sense that’s what He was doing, telling them that the standard for works was perfection.

    “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Mt 5

    It’s only when we realize that the standard for works salvation is perfection, that we realized we’ll never make it in that way. THEN you are ready for the cross.

    I encourage you all to actually read the bible instead of just surfing infidels.org for something to post here. You’ll be less likely to make kindergarten mistakes like this.

    • The purpose of that preaching was to show them that they had never faithfully kept the law

      Job was “blameless and upright.” Perhaps it’s you who is making the kindergarten mistakes.

      • Wick Samuel

        Righteous (not blameless in his age) BUT not sinless.

        Many people are described in both the old and new testament as righteous, Noah, Daniel, Job, Enoch, Joseph (Mt 1), etc, etc.

        But none are sinless.
        I urge you to read, investigate..

        • No, I think I get it, but thanks for asking. The idea of sinlessness as the requirement for heaven is a New Testament concept. Job was blameless–that’s as good as it gets. Don’t judge Job by standards that wouldn’t be invented until the New Testament.

        • Ron

          And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:8, ESV

          You were saying?

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          “Urge” duly noted but we already know you aren’t posting in “good faith” because you pretended like you have no clue why magic claims would be hard to believe, and you ignored all the other magic religions when you said it, like a cheap special pleading sophist. You grab cheesy rhetorical “gotchas” out of the air any way you can like some kind of “gotcha opportunist” from hell. Other than that, you don’t really give a crap. All the other religions also have their gotcha answers for every single question posed to them, and you’re ignoring that too due to your aforementioned “special pleading gotcha” problem. Chauvinism is great I’m sure, and cheerleaders are cute, but sometimes when we go around “harmonizing” everything in sight all day we lose sight of the fact that it’s all a baloney pretend game. You’re losing sight of the fact that every time you do the apologetics dance, everyone is saying to themselves, “what a magnificent pile of baloney”. So you’re going to have to do better–which you can’t because it’s baloney, albeit timeworn and magnificent baloney. You sir or madam stand on the shoulders of some truly magnificent baloney delicatessenists.

        • And Jesus’ cry on the Cross (Mark 15:34, Matthew 27:46)? It looks like a little no-faith-in-God sin, doesn’t it?

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Greg G.

          Google Translate says that is Italian for:

          ‘Cause you’ve got so much against Jesus’? I hate life?

        • Kodie

          Paola hates life, all Christians do.

        • MR

          They can’t wait to shed this mortal coil. Che peccato, we live in the most incredible time of all mankind, and they must despise it.

        • Kodie

          It’s not even that this world can be brutal, it must be a huge relief to stop worrying so much about every little thing you do being your ticket to hell.

        • And yet Christians spend more in end-of-life care than non-Christians. I guess they don’t think it’s all that great.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • MNb

          You answer your question

          “what is that “more”?”
          yourself with

          “It’s the reunion with the SELF, from which we feel painfully separeted.”
          You waste time on this non-issue. I don’t; I have more pleasant (this refers to “painful”) ways to waste mine.
          Btw this is also what Kodie meant with “Paola hates life”.
          Funny how you confirm when you try to contradict.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Greg G.

          Disqus says you posted one hour ago. In a little while, Disqus will say “2 hours” and that will increase hourly until it changes to larger units. Time is being measured. How does one enjoy life if time doesn’t exist?

          Or is that an idiom that only makes sense in the original language?

        • Kodie

          James Taylor says the thing about time is that time isn’t really real.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Kodie

          Waste of time.

        • Paola Conti

          /

        • Kodie

          You’re patronizing.

        • Paola Conti

          /

        • Kodie

          Your arrogance is vulgar.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Kodie

          I know you think you are punishing us.

        • MR

          Deepities that mean nothing practical.

        • Paola Conti

          /

        • Kodie

          Just because we don’t find you delightfully inspirational doesn’t mean we’re turnips. Try actually listening to people instead of talking over them. Try thinking for yourself instead of listening at your church casting aspersions on atheists. We are nothing like the lies they tell you. The only thing your church knows about atheists is that they don’t want to lose the financial support of believers. They want to convince you to stay, they want you to come away from a conversation with atheists angry and believing we’re the bad listeners and we’re the disrespectful to your beliefs. They put you on a disrespectful footing, so when you are treated like the arrogant asshole you are, you can continue to despise atheists and generalize us with your lies, while continuing to be deluded that you are wise and a good person. You’re not – you suck.

        • Paola Conti

          /

        • MR

          On top of insults in other languages you’re now removing your old posts? Vera stronza.

        • Kodie

          I think with the disqus notifications, we can fill those posts back in so a new reader will know what kind of asshole Paola Conti is.

        • Paola Conti

          To know what kind of asshole YOU are, one only needs to look at your face on the avatar.

        • adam

          …..

        • Kodie

          Are you seven or eight years old?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Kodie

          I don’t understand your mumbo-jumbo.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Paola Conti

          Is that your real name, toll trolls? Wow, even better dan “Ignorant”. Good choice!

        • Dys

          You forgot to delete this one and replace it with a period to assuage your bruised ego.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How very Jesus of you.

          I knew ya had no problems with English and are just being an arrogant tit, you fit the profile.

          Now if you have nothing constructive to say you can toddle along and be a nuisance elsewhere, there’s a good child.

        • Paola Conti

          How very stupid of you. And I will toddle along with pleasure, be sure. But the nuissance (you) stays here.

        • Kodie

          You said that YESTERDAY!! You are a liar. You feel good about yourself, you do the best you can to lie and be proud of it. That’s the true Christian.

        • adam

          ….

        • MR

          And in a practical sense, they mean nothing to you, either. Illusion or not, that’s how we’re stuck viewing the world. We can’t change that. So, shrug.

          Oh, you’d be surprised what you can get out of a turnip if you tried.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • MR

          Why don’t you tell me what practical sense it means for you, instead.

          Yeah, I get the literal meaning of the phrase, which means absolutely nothing. My point is you might be surprised what you can get out of us if you tried. If you think you can’t, then you might as well move along.

          By the way, I accidentally down voted your other post. Sorry about that. I removed it.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Kodie

          However much you didn’t mean to, you’ve made clear that you seek external validation. From us, even. Mere humans.

        • MR

          Uh…, did you read what I said? I accidentally hit the button. I apologized because I didn’t want you to think that I did so intentionally. It was the opposite of mean. I was trying to be nice.

        • Ignorant Amos

          See what happens when you try to be nice?

          Of course Kodie could be right on the language front. How one get’s from “sorry for the accidental down vote” to “do you think I’m here collecting merit badges in the form of up votes” is anyone’s guess. Certainly, I know of no one regular here would surmise a holy roller would expect or receive such a thing given the purpose of the holy rollers visit. Feckin’ eejit.

        • MR

          Well, when you walk in lobbing a passive-aggressive pot shot, you’re going to have a chip on your shoulder and automatically be on the defensive. And if you’re uncertain about the language, you’re just going to assume the worst from any response. It is revealing of her mind set, though, isn’t it.

          Notice that she never answered my question. It seems to be a trend among some to play offended so they don’t have to actually answer a question. But, maybe she’ll surprise me and respond after all.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know that the down arrow has a function beyond letting the reader vent without replying.

        • MR

          And to get in the way of fat fingers on a phone. And that stupid flag button is always under my thumb on that damned tablet.

        • Kodie

          Flag ’em all! Let Bob sort ’em out.

        • MR

          LOL! Oh, my God, I wish I could up vote that a dozen times. Good one.

        • Greg G.

          You can only get blood out of an animal with a circulatory system. Trying to get something from an in appropriate source may get something that looks like what you want but it won’t be real, like getting blood from a beet.

          “Yoga is a science” sounds like beet blood from someone who has an understanding of science from yoga meditation.

        • adam

          ///

        • Greg G.

          Meditation takes time. How can one meditate that there is no time?

          It is possible to meditate oneself into incorrect beliefs. If we can believe that time is not real then it follows that gravity is not real. Convince me of that from the other side of the railing of a very high balcony.

        • Kodie

          Time puts pressure and meditation releases the pressure by releasing time. If you are always late, then the world does not need you, and if you are not needed, there is no pressure. If someone says they will get to it later, then forget it, because later could be in a while or never. Be pleasantly surprised if your expectations are met someday, or better yet, lower your expectations in life, because it is impossible to be pleased, so might as well be pleased to begin with, pleased so pleased with yourself, that you find yourself in a conversation trying to fix people who obviously hate life, because they criticize the bible. Oh, wouldn’t I wish that were the only problems. It’s better to not be needed than to address their cosmic sickness, but Paola must obligate herself to make the attempt, first by insulting, and next by degrading, followed by a few huffy lies about leaving the discussion, and making her frustration known how she’s not appreciated for trying to help us out here with her wisdom about life and how to live properly, which as I said, starts with insulting and generalizing people to make sure they’re paying attention. What lack in Paola’s life that she desires such attention?

        • Greg G.

          Did you see xkcd.com yesterday? I just happened to have it open in another browser window.

          http://www.xkcd.com/1524/

        • adam

          ……

        • adam

        • Greg G.

          The “more” is the amount of money spent trying to keep from dying. Christians fear death because they think hell is real but they are less certain about the salvation part.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • adam

          ..

        • Ignorant Amos

          I suppose that is the main problem with living with the continuous uncertainty of whether one has gathered enough browny points to get into the big house in the sky. Sort of a reverse Pascals Wager, best to drag things out as best one can in the here and now, just in case a don’t get “in”, or there is no “in” to get into. Whatever/wherever tae feck “in” is supposed to be.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • MR

          Yes, we are speaking in more general terms here. Christians often speak of despising this life in preference to the afterlife. They often demonize this world in order to elevate a supposed better world after we die. Non-believers don’t believe in an afterlife and generally hold more respect for this life, so it is amusing to have someone come along implying that we hate life.

          You say ‘respect,’ and yet you yourself have begun this conversation in a disrespectful manner toward us by implying we hate life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

          Anyway, that thread of thought really began from a mistranslation of what you said. Google had translated what you said as “I hate life,” rather than “You hate life.” So it appeared that you were the one saying you hated life. It just sent us off on a tangent.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Anyway, that thread of thought really began from a mistranslation of what you said. Google had translated what you said as “I hate life,” rather than “You hate life.” So it appeared that you were the one saying you hated life. It just sent us off on a tangent.

          Given that the insulting twat has no issue writing and understanding English, one wonders what was the mischievous game in writing the comment in Italian in the first place. Was it some sort of attempt at being a smart Alec? Did the dick not think at least one person here would make an effort to translate it? Fuckin’ online smart Alec Christian’s….tosser’s.

        • Kodie

          To be fair, the insulting twat doesn’t seem to understand English all that well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Maybe, but given my lack of knowledge of Swahili, it would not be prudent for me to go slobbering out a load of bollocks on a forum populated and owned by folk who mostly speak and understand the grammar of Swahili. No matter how deep I thought I was being.

          I guess the arrogant smart Alec it is then?

        • Kodie

          There’s always the ugly American stereotype, the one where we demand everyone speak English. I mean, the purpose is understanding communication, and yes, Americans are unlikely to learn a second language – and for instance, what if I learned something, it probably wouldn’t be Italian. But I also think speakers of another language enter conversations assuming everyone is one of these, and I think Paola knows enough English to respond to a comment that was written in English with a relevant response, even if it was in Italian.

          But to get mad at us for mistranslating it, when we don’t speak Italian and are using imperfect tools to translate something that appears to be more idiomatic literally meaning the opposite of what was written. After that, it’s been one after another slight misunderstanding being blown out of proportion by the interloper who doesn’t speak English, as if it’s our responsibility to learn Italian so she can understand us better. I thought that was only us ignorant monolingual xenophobic Americans who demand everyone else make the effort. Out of hundreds of comments, none of them were written in Italian, and this is a person trying to teach us about not having so much pressure and high expectations.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A fair few Americans know another language, but tend to only use it in their own communities. My ex, a born and bred Floridian, could speak Spanish.

          Us Brits learn a variety of languages going through school. French, German, Italian and Spanish…I did French and German.

          There is a guy on Estranged Notions who block added a load of us to follow, being the suspicious bunch we are, questions got asked. The guy had no posting history to check out. Anyway, it transpires the guy was interested in what we all had to say, but being Spanish his English skills were restricted, so he was restricting himself to lurking. He came onto the forum and laid his cards on the table. Honest enough IMO. He does make the odd comment, short, but worthwhile. This scenario playing out here is nothing remotely similar.

        • Kodie

          Most (I think?) Americans are offered and encouraged to learn a second language in public school around the age of 12 or so, maybe earlier now, which would make too much sense. I learned Spanish for 3 years and also because Sesame Street had a lot of segments teaching Spanish vocabulary, I now remember Spanish hit or miss. I really wanted to take French, but the told us all in the ’80s, we’d have to learn Spanish to get a job, since it is the 2nd most spoken language in the US. We were offered a choice between Latin, Spanish, and French, and in high school, Italian and German were also offered. Since I wanted to learn French, I had an opportunity to take it for 4 semesters in college as one option for a political science major, which I transferred out of before graduating. Can you imagine – political science, international studies, 4 semesters of any fucking language you want. How useful. I now speak one language fluently, and know a few phrases in about 7 other languages.

          Most of the Americans I know speak more than 2 languages, actually. What I find sort of insulting about it all is not that they’re probably talking about me, but they insist I need a second language. What is their second language? It’s English. Their primary language is useful in context, but the very next language they thought would be most useful to learn on purpose was English. I already speak English. Am I supposed to learn another language just because it’s neat? The second insulting thing is that if I do learn their language, I’m supposed to adopt their accent as well, but it’s rude to them if they hear anyone suggest they get rid of their accent. I don’t mind accents, but I don’t know what’s wrong with having an American accent if I try to speak a different language than English. I know it’s not exotic, but you get what I’m trying to say – it’s hard to make those unfamiliar sounds either way.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Two very well known golfers from just down the road from me are adopting an American brogue to their Northern Irish English accent. Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell.

          While serving in Germany, one could tell whether a German had learnt their English from an American teacher or a British teacher, by their accent.

          But yes, I know exactly what you mean.

        • Greg G.

          I met a couple of college students from Hanoi. I was surprise that their English was so good since they had been in the States only a few weeks. They had an English teacher from New York. Another student speaks English well but sometimes over-emphasizes her esses on plurals because her teacher was Vietnamese and the teacher’s ear wasn’t good at picking up the “s”.

          I’ve been told that English teachers in small towns will make themselves scarce when an American or European comes to town for fear they will have to translate on the spot.

        • My son’s girlfriend is part Filipino, and her mother’s first language is Tagalog. So there comes the big day when she takes him over to meet her mother. And the mother had invited her sister over, too.

          I told him, “Y’know, the ladies talked about you after you left.” He said, “They didn’t have to wait until I left–they did it right there.”

          A Babelfish would be nice sometimes.

        • MR

          I once had a roomie drop off my car to get repaired because I worked funny hours. I was the one who picked it up, though, and when I did the mechanic said I would have to wait for the owner of the shop.

          The owner arrived and I asked for my car, but the repair guy started to warn the owner in Spanish that I wasn’t the person who had dropped it off. I was standing right there.

          I pulled out my wallet, handed the owner my driver’s license and said, “El coche es mío. Me lo ha dejado un amigo. Aquí tienes mi carnet de conducir.” Ha! They weren’t expecting this güero to speak fluent Spanish!

          The look on the mechanic’s face was priceless. The owner had a good chuckle and waived my ID away and just handed me the keys.

          Even though he was trying to talk about me right in front of me, I did appreciate his efforts, nonetheless. 🙂

        • Greg G.

          That happens to me a lot with my wife and her friends. I get about one word in a hundred but the way they look at me knowingly tells the tale.

        • Kodie

          I associate with a lot of people who speak another language to each other, enough to know that they’re just using it for ease of communication most of the time. It’s the xenophobic paranoia that they won’t speak English even though they can because they want to talk about you without you knowing what they’re saying. I’ve also been able to pick up the gist of conversations, because I learned that ex-Soviets when speaking Russian to each other (their common language), they have to talk with their hands a lot more, they draw pictures in the air, than when they are speaking their first language to another person from the same state (now independent country) that isn’t Russia itself. And still, I only know about 5 words in Russian, I know what they are talking about. I hear Spanish and Vietnamese sometimes, I am trying to think what else. We recently did a birthday party for a boy whose friends all speak and learn French at school, I guess among other languages. His mother actually is French, but anyway, he couldn’t blow out the candles, these kids all sang “Happy Birthday to You” to him in about 4 different languages before they let him make his birthday wish.

        • OldSearcher

          He does make the odd comment, short, but worthwhile.

          You ‘re very kind . I try to do my best and I ‘m learning a lot from all of you .

        • Ignorant Amos

          Just telling it as it is pal.

          BTW, I’ll be in España in a few weeks for a holiday and to visit friends…looking forward to some sunny weather, tapas and vino too, it is miserable here.

        • MR

          Hola, OldSearcher. Me alegro ver a un español por estas partes. 🙂

        • OldSearcher

          Hola MR. Supongo que habrá más , pero no me consta. Espero no ser tan rarito como para ser el único. 🙂

        • MR

          Tampoco a mí. ¿Conocerás algún buen blog sobre estas temas en español?

        • OldSearcher

          No hay nada equivalente a Patheos que yo conozca en español. Este fin de semana estoy fuera de casa y solo tengo acceso móvil a Internet. El lunes te mando algunos enlaces de blogs que quizás puedan interesarte.

        • Greg G.

          Am I on the Dora the Explorer blog?

        • MR

          Different accent.

        • OldSearcher

          Este es un agregador de blogs ateos / escépticos con el que puedes comenzar:
          Magufos

        • OldSearcher
        • MR

          Thank you, OS.

        • OldSearcher

          Weather now is esplendid in most part of Spain. I hope you have a good time here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yes, I have loads of friends there. Benidorm. Even in winter it is quite mild. Can’t wait to get over.

        • On the topic of mistranslation, here’s an example of a mistranslation that was made into a tattoo. Apparently, this woman’s back tattoo actually says, “Babylon is the world’s leading dictionary and translation software.”

        • MNb

          “I think Paola knows enough English”
          I don’t know about education in Italy, but I mostly get by fine with an online dictionary ready in a nearby window. Plus my experience is that with precious few exceptions (and thus far they all have been believers) nobody cares when my English gets goofy.
          Finally it’s just basic empathy, when posting in Italian (or Dutch) on an American blog, to provide a translation. That anticipates a lot of potential misunderstanding.

        • Kodie

          Paola’s English is understandable, but it’s probably difficult for her. I don’t know how difficult it is for you, but your English is very good. Where she gets into trouble is reading English, and she either doesn’t know enough or she’s faking it when she takes something the wrong way. Or maybe she’s running it through a translator and getting the same kind of fucked-up results we get when we’re translating her.

        • Greg G.

          In Acts, the disciples were able to speak and each of the listeners heard in their own language. If the science of yoga cannot duplicate that feat, nothing will, unless it is the universal translator from Star Trek.

        • Modern science can duplicate lots of the miracles of the Bible–healing people, walking on water.

        • Kodie

          Respect for what? Like MR said, there is nothing respectful about making sweeping presumptuous statements (which you take personal exception when applied to you) about people hating life based on the idiotic propaganda you got suckered into. What respect do you deserve because you think you aren’t like other Christians? You’re exactly like them, you have bought the whole package, and now you think it entitles you to belittle other people and believe they need your input on how to live. Jesus isn’t a deity, what have I got against your imaginary friend? YOU is what I have against your imaginary friend, people like you, who arrogantly make judgmental comments to people based on your own preconceived notions (and those lies fed to you from your religious leaders) and then demand to be respected for your delusions.

          Vai a farti fottere, signora.

        • Pofarmer

          Worst. Times. Evaaar. They’ve been preaching the same crap for over a thousand years, and it works. The modern Catholic church has latched onto it with a vengeance.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • MNb

          Writing soberly about Jesus is not the same as writing badly about Jesus. How I see my life has exactly nothing to do with this messias claimant – or any other.

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Kodie

          Your question is, pardon my French, fucking stupid. Why do you think we hate life, is it because you’re projecting your certain fear and aversion to reality? How do you like it when people make assumptions about you based on some propaganda?

        • Greg G.

          I appreciate life much more than I did as a Christian. When you think you are going to live forever and the extended part is heaven, joyous moments are secondary to your future. When you do something the Bible condemns, you think God’s going to harp on that forever. I see the Bible as myth built upon myth and different Christian theologies as myths built upon those biblical myths. The hell that Christians fear is from a separate line of myths. Jesus is no more relevant than Santa Claus. I would try to tell an adult who still believed in Santa Claus that Santa wasn’t real so why not do the favor for all theists?

        • MR

          I appreciate life much more than I did as a Christian.

          Right!? There was so much hand-wringing as a Christian.

        • Kodie

          Not for Paola. She is coasting, she is trying to explain how true Christianity works – no worries! All those Christians who worry about the afterlife are doin’ it wrong. Meanwhile, she resents that we can reject Jesus and herself while maintaining a pleasant outlook on life.

        • MR

          How Christo-yoganity works. She appears to be one of those hybrids. Apparently Christianity doesn’t work as a standalone religion for her.

        • Greg G.

          Hinduism and Buddhism use yoga meditation and have been around for many centuries. Christianity has not used yoga meditation and has also been around for many centuries. Yet some think it is incomplete without yoga. Christianity has problems yoga can’t fix except that a person might meditate away the cognitive dissonance.

        • Someone mused, people long for immortality who don’t know what to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

        • Greg G.

          That person wasn’t referring to me. I know what to do on a Sunday afternoon. There’s NASCAR, the NFL, the NBA, and/or the final round of a golf tournament on TV.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Me neither…it’s out to my club for a dozen pints and an afternoon of football…or as they say in the States, soccer.

        • Paola Conti

          ,

        • Greg G.

          What’s not right about it?

        • Paola Conti

          .

        • Kodie

          Some people do not know how to just spit it out and say what they mean.

        • MR

          Non hanno nulla contro Gesù; è un mito.

        • Not at all: I was just pointing out some inconsistencies among the Gospels and among the latter and the Church’s teachings, IMHO; peace!

        • Paola Conti

          I got it wrong, om Shanti om

        • MNb

          Actually Jesus’ cry is not an inconsistency in the Gospels – it’s an inconsistency in theology. The secular explanation is very simple: hanging at a cross is extremely painful, so Jesus recited all the psalms to help him to endure it.

        • Kodie

          I think going back up the thread, that’s basically what AndyT said – the cry would correspond with disbelief, which would make the gospels inconsistent with their purpose (or usage).

    • Ron

      It’s only when we realize that the standard for works salvation is perfection, that we realized we’ll never make it in that way.

      First God declares that it’s “not too difficult” to keep his commands:

      “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.” Deut. 30:11 (NIV)

      …. but then we read that the old covenant was flawed:

      “For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.” Heb 8:7 (NIV)

      Which is it?

      • Jack Baynes

        Is it flawed because God realized that the rules WERE in fact too difficult, or he realized he didn’t want rules which man could actually be expected to follow?

    • Cognissive Disco Dance

      You need to understand that at the time the Jewish expectation of a Messiah was that He would sit on the earthly throne of David.

      Yeah I wonder where they got that crazy idea. The Jews are still rong about their own religion even to this very day. Can they even walk and chew gum at the same time?

      I encourage you all to actually read the bible

      Yeah okay but why was John the Baptist such a moran? That was the topic of the post.

      • Wick Samuel

        John was confused, not ignorant. That’s the part that was missed in the post.

        • Hey, Sam. I really liked your whole dialogue with an atheist concept. Spot on.

        • 90Lew90

          Yeah, that was highly original of Sam. Lightning bolt. No one’s ever thought of doing that before.

        • lol

        • Ron

          So in your opinion, the same man who:

          – recognized and baptized Jesus,
          – heard the voice from Heaven,
          – twice uttered, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

          … was suddenly confused when he heard this very same Jesus was preforming miracles?

        • no, but that is how you want to interpret it – I give you an alternative interpretation at the top.

        • Rudy R

          So how did you determine he was confused about hearing Jesus performed miracles, but not confused on the other stuff? Couldn’t it have been the other way around? Sorta sounds like confirmation bias.

        • Confused? He’d have to be very, very confused. Maybe he had some mental problem. Early-onset Alzheimer’s?

          Or, instead of trying to shoehorn these inconvenient facts into the shoe of biblical accuracy, we could simply follow the facts where they lead. How about that?

        • Wick Samuel

          One of the most powerful attestations of the faithfulness of the text to the actual events, is incidents like this The denial of Jesus by Peter as another example. Nearly universal agreement among scholars that these kind of incidents, which actually reflect poorly on the key characters (John, Peter), actually DID happen.

          John DID know that Jesus was the Messiah, what he couldnt figure out was why the Messiah was doing what He was doing. That’s precisely why he asked the question, that’s why he sent his disciples to Jesus. He simply wanted to know what was going on.

          Jesus response is telling, John is asking Him if He is the Messiah, Jesus responds to pointing to prophecy He is fulfilling (from Isaiah 35)

          Mt 11: Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you ithe one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers1 are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, andlthe poor have good news preached to them.

        • The denial by Peter would be a great example of the Criterion of Embarrassment … unless you didn’t like Peter.

          Given the partisanship between the Pauline vs. Petrine factions, which is documented in the NT, a partisan of Paul writing the gospel of Mark might slip in some smack about that other guy. Then the subsequent gospels can’t leave out a canonical story, whether they favor Paul or Peter.

          I favor letting the Bible speak for itself. In this passage, John B. obviously doesn’t know that Jesus is The One. Sure, you can shoehorn this fact through your preconception, but then you become the one standing on your head to get your conclusion.

          Jesus responds to pointing to prophecy He is fulfilling

          Which would make sense if John didn’t already know that Jesus was The One!

        • Wick Samuel

          Please explain what you mean by “partisanship between the Pauline vs. Petrine factions”. You brought it up, so please explain it.

          ========

          “John B. obviously doesn’t know that Jesus is The One”
          “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another”

          I read that as confusion as to Jesus activities, especially since John recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God earlier.
          It’s not clear how you are reading it.. that John forgot? That John is mentally ill? can you explain it clearly what point you are trying to make?

          the simplest explanation would be that John was in jail, his cousin is the Messiah, and John is wondering why He isnt getting him out.

        • How can you not know about Paul’s friction with Peter and James? You know the Bible a billion times better than an atheist, right?

          Paul complains about his differences with Peter in Gal. 2, for example.

        • Wick Samuel

          1. This was one dispute, Paul had several (with Barnabas, and Mark for example).

          2. There is no evidence of any lasting animosity ( 2 Peter 3:16), peter speaks fondly of Paul

          3. There were MANY differences among early disciples/apostles, even among the Jerusalem leaders (of which Paul had no part) regarding eating with gentiles, circumcision and obeying the law.

          4. Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark, he and Paul had a major falling out (Acts 15), a breach in their relationship that wasn’t healed for years.

          5. All four gospels record peter denying Jesus.

          In conclusion, there is zero evidence of that being manufactured, which is why even the Jesus seminar ascribes it as an actual event.

        • Greg G.

          If Mark 7 was an actual event, then the Galatians 2 confrontation between Peter and Paul should not have happened. Paul was arguing for Jesus’ position and apparently Peter was arguing against it so hard that Barnabas was led astray.

          I think Mark used Galatians to create the Mark 7 passage.

        • I guess my point stands then. After all that hot air, you don’t deny Paul/Peter friction.

          We don’t know the author of Mark.

          Yes, all four gospels record Peter denying Jesus, and some of the authors may have been fans of Peter. I mentioned this already: once you’ve got the familiar story in Mark, it might’ve been impossible to write another gospel without acknowledging it.

          In conclusion, while this is no proof that the Peter denials weren’t initially embarrassing (never said that it was), that option is very clearly in play.

        • Greg G.

          1. That information comes from Acts, a fictional account loosely based on Paul’s letters.

          2. 2 Peter is a second century document. There is no legitimate evidence of a reconciliation between Paul and Peter.

          3. Maybe, but Paul agrees with the Jesus character in Mark 7 and those who disagree were supposed to have been there.

          4. It is assumed that Mark wrote Mark based on some sketchy accounts that are not necessarily referring to the writings we call Mark. Also, see #1.

          5. Three gospels copied from one. It is generally accepted that Matthew and Luke used Mark but denied that John did. Matthew used 90% of Mark and half of that was verbatim. Luke used about 60% and some of that was verbatim. John used a lower percentage still and none of it was verbatim. John 6 followed Mark 6:30 on very closely through the end of the chapter and even copied Mark’s literary technique of intercalating Jesus’ trial with Peter’s actions to indicate simultaneous action so that Jesus was being beaten and ordered to prophesy while his earlier prophecy that Peter would deny him was being fulfilled.

          Mark 14:27-31 and the denials is drawn from Old Testament scripture. 2 Kings 2:1-12 is the story of Elijah ascending to heaven. Mark transvalues 2 Kings by turning Elisha’s three promises to not leave Elijah and yet they still become separated into Peter promising once not to leave Jesus but then metaphorically leaving him three times.

          That may seem extraordinary to you unless you look at nearly every pericope in Mark and see that nearly all of them come from Old Testament passages. The others come from Greek literature with some allusions to Paul’s epistles.

          But there is a great deal of evidence that the story of Peter is made up. They just don’t advertize those facts in church.

          Which Jesus Seminar are you referring to? There have been four American Jesus Seminars and at least one in Europe.

        • The simplest explanation is that the John B. stories are not history; they’re snippets of oral history that don’t fit together.

    • So basically Jesus was making fun of His disciples…
      And what about the Sheeps and Goats story? Jesus states He will admit into the Kingdom people who have feed the hungry, clothed the naked, etc.; all of these being deeds requiring just a decent moral level.
      The Work vs. Faith dilemma has haunted Christians for centuries, as the Bible can give compelling evidence for both the cases.

      • Wick Samuel

        No major Christian church (and that included the Catholic Church) claims that works alone will get you into heaven. You simply don’t understand where the difference is.

        The standard Jesus preached was perfection.

        • Why then in that Sheep & Goat parable the word ethne (foreign people) is used? They are not supposed to know anything about Jesus, aren’t they? And still they are saved.
          Also, your reply doesn’t address my point, I’am afraid: why preaching perfection if you know “fallen” humanity cannot reach it? It would have been much more honest saying something like “Well, folks, you will never be as perfect as required by my Father, so let’s believe in me and in my sacrifice, get washed in my blood and you’ll be ok”.

        • Ron

          Catholics teach faith and works, whereas some reformed churches hold that “faith alone” is sufficient while others teach that you are saved only by grace.

          These are three entirely different interpretations on the most important point of Christianity.

        • Granted, this an area of debate. But, couldn’t this be viewed as one of those intellectual stumbling blocks that Jesus spoke about. It’s an excuse not to believe.

        • Kodie

          It’s propaganda.

        • MNb

          It’s just another confirmation that you christians are unable to settle any dispute, because you don’t have a reliable method. It’s a very good reason not to pay any attention to any christian attempt to explain the Bible. Because the next christian will say something entirely else.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          They claim there is a god, yet they’ll argue over scriptures. To put their rediculousness in perspective, if CS Lewis could talk to everyone and did not have certain human intellectual limits (patience, attention span, drive, etc) I would throw out my compilation of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and hear it raw from the horse’s mouth because why would such a capable being need human written language and codex technology (the bound book)?

        • And a great excuse it is! The Bible being contradictory is a great reason to reject it as a source of divine wisdom.

        • No major Christian church (and that included the Catholic Church) claims that works alone will get you into heaven.

          Oops! What would the author of Matthew say?

          No–what would baby Jesus say? I think I hear him crying …

        • Wick Samuel

          A GREAT many people, who havent bothered to investigate what the Catholic church actually does teach, make the same mistake.

          Catholic soteriology (salvation theology) is rooted in apostolic Tradition and Scripture and says that it is only by God’s grace–completely unmerited by works–that one is saved.

          http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/why-does-the-church-teach-that-works-can-obtain-salvation

        • Yeah, and? I’m using the Bible, remember? I’m pretty sure I win.

        • Wick Samuel

          so, I already explained this to you, right?
          Jesus preached primarily as a Jew under the old covenant.
          this is literally, Christianity 101.

        • Be careful with that condescending “you’re an idiot” bullshit. Unless you enjoy having your nose rubbed in the turds you lay.

          Tying Jesus to Judaism, where works are the focus, isn’t going to do your argument any good.

        • Greg G.

          But apostolic tradition is just stuff made up to salvage the failings of scripture.

        • nakedanthropologist

          You are incorrect. In Catholicism those who do good works and live as good people do go heaven – whether they believe in God or not. I was born and raise Catholic, and started having serious doubts by the time I was 13. During confession, I asked the priest about my doubts. I questioned how God could be so unfair – what about all the moral and good people who happened to Buddhists, Hindus, atheists? The priest told me that according to church law, one’s deeds are what determines who gets into heaven. Finding peace and salvation in Christ is an earthly boon – something that helps people be more moral, gives peace, and comforts those in need. Knowledge/belief in the trinity was a definite benefit and something to be shared, but not a necessity for eternal salvation.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • nakedanthropologist

          Oh, I know. The RCC is one of the vilest, most corrupt institutions in the present day. How evil do you have to be to 1.) know priests are raping children, 2.) shuffle said rapists around to new parishes thus giving them a fresh pool of victims, 3.) cover-up said rape and abuse for decades, 4.) when discovered refuse to cooperate with secular authorities and continue to protect and even facilitate the aforementioned child rapists, and 5.) even through all this claim to be a moral authority? That is some grade-A heinous and evil shit. Not to mention all the other fuck-ups the RCC has been involved in, plus their outright immoral and bigoted stances regarding social issues. I was born into Catholicism, and got to witness first-hand the many people (both children and adults) who have suffered due to the deliberate and/or neglectful actions of the church. It’s disgusting, what the RCC has gotten away with and continues to get away with all due to undeserved religious privilege. I started seriously doubting by the time Ines 13 – though it took me a long while to admit that I am an atheist (childhood indoctrination is one hell of a drug). And Protestants are no better – a simple inquiry via Google turns up stories of such horrific abuses and blatant hypocrisy that it’s sickening.

        • Pofarmer

          But you see, the fact that they have survived despite all the evil done in the name of the Church is proof of theor divinity.

        • nakedanthropologist

          True; if God is evil, then the Vatican is its perfect embassador.

        • Ignorant Amos

          …and it goes on…

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-20/st-ignatius-jesuit-priest-stan-hogan-jailed-child-porn/6336244

          I nearly choked when I read that the Jesuit “applied to be removed from the Jesuit order”…WTF?

        • Pofarmer

          “Father Brian McCoy, from the Australian Jesuits, issued a statement of apology to students, families and staff of Jesuit schools “who have felt disillusioned, shocked and saddened by the criminal behaviour of a once well-respected priest and teacher”.”

          Why do we still respect priests at all?

        • I understand Alcoholics Anonymous does something similar. When someone drops out (is a “failure”), they often say that he wasn’t actually part of the program since he didn’t stick with it. And that makes their stats look better.

          And now the Jesuits will have one fewer pedophiles. See, they’re not really that bad, are they?

        • Ignorant Amos

          And Protestants are no better – a simple inquiry via Google turns up stories of such horrific abuses and blatant hypocrisy that it’s sickening.

          Without a doubt.

          I have an antipodean friend on another blog who keeps us westerners up to speed.

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/former-bishop-keith-slater-to-face-defrocking-by-anglican-church/6328112

          http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-17/salvation-army-did-not-protect-young-boys-from-abuse-report-says/6325954

          Closer to home, most folk are well aware of the RCC sex abuse and slavery scandals, but not too many have heard about the Kincora boys home scandal.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kincora_Boys%27_Home

          While the Gardai were involved in collusion with the RCC in the south of Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary were involved in collusion with Protestant perverts in the north. Now we are hearing that the Metropolitan police were in collusion with members of the government in London.

        • nakedanthropologist

          That’s horrifying; so I guess business as usual?

    • Rudy R

      Why do you assume we don’t read the Bible? Because we don’t agree with your interpretation? You do realize that even Christians don’t agree in how to interpret the Bible? From which denomination should we focus our study?

      Since we don’t have the original Bible to read, what copy of the Bible translation would you encourage us to read? Would that be the Aramaic Targums, Codex Sinaiticus or Greek Septuagint? Or the King James Version, New International Version or American Standard Version?

      • Wick Samuel

        – Because atheists in general demonstrate unfamiliarity with the basics of Christianity.
        – Hiding behind denominationalism is a poor excuse, if you remove the differences on “how a christian should lead their life”, you get rid of most of the differences
        – Any of the major translations is fine, that’s just another excuse

        • Rudy R

          Not sure how you can support your claim that atheists in general demonstrate unfamiliarity with the basics of Christianity, especially when most American atheists were former Christians. And studies have shown that Atheists understand the Bible better than theists.
          If you remove the differences on “how a christian should lead their life”, you not only would get rid of most of the differences, but you would probably make the religion impotent.
          And do you believe that the NIV is an accurate, true, and perfect translation from the original books of the Bible?

        • MNb

          “Not sure how …..”
          For Wicked Sam and for Greg the basics of christianity largely converge with their own belief systems. So there are at least as many sets of basics of christianity as there are denominations.

        • Wick Samuel

          A. Day after day it is demonstrated here as an example. Bobs post is a good example.

          B. Being a “former Christian” is no guarantee of biblical literacy

          C. The study you are referring to is from Pew, and that was religion in general, not biblical knowledge. Less than 1/2 the questions on that survey actually had to do with the bible.

          http://www.pewforum.org/2010/09/28/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey/

          D. There is no “perfect” translation.

        • Rudy R

          Number D is a serious understatement, since we only have copies of copies of the original Biblical writings. And given that scribes tried to correct errors and add their own religious beliefs, we can never know what was in the original books with any certainty.

        • It’s easy to accuse me of biblical illiteracy. So far, I haven’t seen those claims well supported. Show me.

        • MNb

          “Because atheists in general demonstrate unfamiliarity with the basics of Christianity. ”
          Bar the Resurrection there are no basics of christianity. You christians cannot agree on anything since at least 17 centuries.

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

      • I have the New International Version. I recommend you pick up one that you are comfortable with using or has special meaning. For me, my Bible was given to me as a gift by God mother on my high school graduation. Oh, and your question Rudy R, is disingenous. Of course we assume you read the Bible, you’re quoting it aren’t you – what we know is that you are not “reading” the Bible – meaning with respect, context, and the spirit with which it is written. You’re like a child that has found a water balloon and starts running around the house as the theists run around after you trying to keep you from getting wet. Usually we’re too late. C’est la vie.

        • Rudy R

          The point of my comment was that we don’t have the original content of the Bible to confirm Wick’s interpretation. You can agree or disagree, but Christian denominations do determine how their congregation interprets the Bible. For example, some Christians believe homosexuality is a sin and others don’t believe it’s a sin. Depends on the denomination. Some believe sin is based on laws in the Old and New Testament and others in just the New Testament. Who’s interpretation is right? I bet yours is!
          The condescending remarks never ends with Wick and you. If we don’t interpret the Bible the way you do, we are like children. I actually do read the Bible for context and spirit for which it is written. It’s just not enough evidence for me to believe in a Christian god.

        • stop your atheist whine- the theist response is either met with – off topic – or you’re condescending. give me a break. I am here to help you understand the bible, period.

        • Rudy R

          You’re here to preach your interpretation of the Bible, period.

        • I’m just your friendly neighborhood theist – who knows his “stuff”

        • Kodie

          You’re our established know-nothing blowhard, actually.

        • MNb

          So much for christian humility.

        • Hey–it’s not bragging if it’s true.

          It isn’t true; I’m just sayin’.

        • 90Lew90

          I don’t think you could help anyone understand anything much, Greg. For instance, not long ago you said that the catholic approach to the Bible is something along the lines of ‘make of it what you will’. So you neither have a grasp of what your own religion actually says, and nor do you have the slightest grasp of the Bible. In any case, it’s not for the catholic laity to explain the Bible, because that job is for priests, and you’re supposed to consult a priest should you delve into the “good” book and come up with a question. You’re getting above your station, sonny.

        • I love it, it’s not only bible contradictions – now you’re analzying my comments and looking for contradictions.

        • 90Lew90

          Not difficult. You’re a bungling idiot!

        • Kodie

          You don’t understand the bible – “quilt analogy”.

        • Tapestry!

        • Kodie

          Greg, every time you see something shiny instead of address a comment, I’m going to flag you.

        • MNb

          Yeah, and so say many, many christians. And they all understand the Bible in a different way. They cannot even agree on the Holy Trinity.

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

          That’s why your efforts to “help” are a waste of time. Come back when you have developed a reliable method that is capable of convincing other christians. You can begin with something simple.

          http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-slavery.html

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

          What’s your method to decide who is wrong and who is right? How does this method apply to other issues? How do you know this method gives reliable results?
          Without answers I don’t see why I should even pay attention to your attempts to “help” me, because you only produce baked air.

          When you’re done my next question will be: how does this relate to your “it’s a mystery”, which basically says that there are no answers possible? If that’s the case you cannot even understand the Bible yourself.

        • MNb

          “meaning with respect, context, and the spirit with which it is written.”
          Translation: “meaning with the bias that there is a god, that that god is the christian one and that that god inspired the Bible.”

    • MNb

      I repeat what I wrote to Greg:

      As soon as you christians have developed a reliable method that leads to interpretations every christian can agree on you can wake me up. Until that moment I prefer the easy explanation: the Bible is 100% man made and hence contains errors. No divine hand involved.
      To make sure you fully understand me, because this

      “the commentors on this blog are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met”
      says a lot more about the people you usually meet than about the commentors on this blog:

      My argument is not “the Bible is full of contradictions, hence there is no god.” It’s “there is no god, hence I expect the Bible being full of contradictions. Save me the great intellectual efforts to explain them away, because they are a waste of time.”

    • busterggi

      “You need to understand that at the time the Jewish expectation of a Messiah was that He would sit on the earthly throne of David. ”
      So Jesus didn’t fulfill all those predictions after all.

      • Wick Samuel

        you mean, Jesus didn’t fulfill that expectation.
        Jesus fulfilled prophecy (to numerous to list), the question is will Jesus come back for an earthly reign.

        • Rudy R

          Too numerous to list? Just list a few and we’ll see how that works out for you with this crowd.

        • Wick Samuel

          believe me, I know the reaction, you can just pick from the list when responding:

          1) that doesn’t mean anything, Jesus knew the prophecy so He fulfilled it on purpose
          2) you’re a (insert your own ad-hominem) to believe that

          3) That’s all nonsense

          =========
          Messiah born in Bethlehem.Micah 5:2
          Messiah born of a virgin.Isaiah 7:14
          Messiah rejected by his own people.Psalm 69:8
          Isaiah 53:3
          Messiah betrayed.Psalm 41:9
          Zechariah 11:12-13
          Messiah resurrected from the dead.Psalm 16:10
          Psalm 49:15

        • Jack Baynes

          As you said, the authors of the Gospels had read Jewish scripture. It is entirely unimpressive that the stories they wrote fulfilled prophecies.

        • Wick Samuel

          you meant to say, It is entirely unimpressive that Jesus fulfilled prophecies.

          If you are trying to make a claim that Jesus didn’t do that, that all of the stories are made up, you have a pretty monster problem on your hands, namely how do you explain the gospel of Mark for example surviving as a credible document if it claimed events that didnt happen, and there were many contemporaries still alive, AND the Jewish leadership of the time was persecuting the early church and would have immediately seized on that as a way to debunk the claims of this heretical sect.

        • Greg G.

          how do you explain the gospel of Mark for example surviving as a credible document if it claimed events that didnt happen, and there were many contemporaries still alive,

          Mark doesn’t give precise locations and specific days when the events were supposed to have occurred. Can you prove that I didn’t make a game winning shot at the buzzer in a basketball game forty years ago in a town you may or may not have been in? Can you say credibly say that nobody did something like that? There were lots of crucifixions. Could someone have been able to say a non-existent person was not crucified? Your objection makes no sense if it is true that none of it happened.

          the Jewish leadership of the time was persecuting the early church and would have immediately seized on that as a way to debunk the claims of this heretical sect.

          The Jewish leadership was out of power and dead by the time Mark was written. By the time the story was widespread enough to be on the radar, it would be impossible for them to show that a non-event didn’t occur.

          2 Peter1:16
          For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.

          Apparently some people were saying they were following myths or there would have been no reason to deny it.

        • Wick Samuel

          the correct analogy would be “Can you prove I didnt have the game winning shot at a basketball game 30 years ago in this town” (and remember, virtually all the people in “this town” are born, live and die without every venturing more than 20 miles from that town (unlike now with technology making us much more mobile)).

          And the answer is YES:

          – there are many, many people still alive that were witness to that game

          – there is a group of people trying to ruthlessly disprove everyone of your statements, and your account will have to stand up to that

          The Jewish leadership was out of power and dead by the time Mark was written

          I have no idea what you are talking about.

        • Greg G.

          Mark has Jesus residing in Capernaum: ” It was reported that he was home when he returned to Capernaum.” (Mark 2:1)

          After the Transfiguration, they returned to Capernaum and went to the house. (Mark 9:33) Whose house was it? Apparently, it was Jesus’ home.

          Matthew 4:13-16 says Jesus moved to Capernaum to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2, which mentions Galilee, land of the Gentiles, but Nazareth would have fulfilled that as a prophecy, being in Galilee. Matthew 2:23 says Jesus’ family moved to Nazareth when they returned from Egypt to fulfill a prophecy that “He shall be called a Nazarene. “Perhaps Matthew was thinking of Judges 13:5 that said Samson would be a “nazirite”, which is described in Numbers 6:1-21 as a person consecrated to God and has nothing to do with a location. If it wasn’t that verse, then Matthew just made up a prophecy.

          Which game? People might remember me who played on my team or against me but most probably don’t. They probably saw a lot of games won at the buzzer. They wouldn’t recall whether I did or didn’t win one. I know I scored to win a few games and missed the shot a few times. I couldn’t tell you which year or who it was against.

          That is probably how it would be with public executions back then. There’d be someone hanging outside of town every week or so. If the crucifixion happened, people probably wouldn’t remember much about it. If it didn’t they would not be able to say it didn’t. After losing their home and being exiled, they would have bigger issues to deal with than everybody else’s religions.

          Have you ever tried to tell a Christian that their religious beliefs are false? They ask, “Were you there?” If you say “no”, they say, “Aha!”. If you say “yes”, they don’t believe you. It would have been no different for the people who actually were there 19 centuries ago.

          The Gospel of Mark was written after Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Any surviving priests had no office.

        • “The resurrection didn’t happen.”
          “Oh? Were you there??
          “Why yes, yes I was.”
          “No you weren’t!”
          “Oh? How would you know? Were you there?”

          Which leads to the question, “How sensible is the claim that I was in Palestine 2000 years ago?” Admittedly, not very sensible.

          Which leads to the question, “How sensible is the claim that the Resurrection happened?”

          Ditto.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          “They forgot the God who saved them,
          who had done great things in Egypt,”

          They forgot the Creator of the universe who astounded them with mighty miracles and flying creatures and who murdered them by the thousands with plagues and curses. How is somebody going to remember a stupid basketball game? If people can forget big giant scary miracle-slinging YHWH like it’s nothing, how are they going to remember all that stuff about Jesus? “Whoops we forgot all about firstborn-killer YHWH’s angels of death and his frogs. However we do remember Jesus’s exact words 40 years ago.” Lol.

        • This is the Naysayer Hypothesis. I debunk it here.

        • – there is a group of people trying to ruthlessly disprove everyone of your statements, and your account will have to stand up to that

          How do you expect them to do that even if the story is false? It’s decades later, there’s the aftermath of an invasion to deal with, and even if you could somehow find and retrieve the body of one particular executed criminal out of many, what are you going to do? Carry bones everywhere and expect people who’ve never met Jesus to somehow know that those bones are his?

          As for the witnesses: if a growing religion can be so easily destroyed by the existence of living hostile witnesses, then why are Mormonism and Scientology still going?

          You’ve brought up this hypothetical, so defend it. If the story really was false, how do you go about disproving it after a few decades? If you succeed at it in Palestine, how is that going to impede the success of the churches set up by Paul halfway across the Mediterranean?

        • Wick Samuel

          Christianity is based on the reality of an empty tomb, resurrected Jesus, witnesses. Simple to disprove if none of those are true.

          That’s far different than disaffected Scientologists.

          Regarding the Mormon plates, none of the original witnesses recanted their testimony despite an acrimonious split with the founder.

        • Simple to disprove if none of those are true.

          My question was, how do you do this? Because it doesn’t look simple to me.

          Take me through it. Imagine it’s, say, 80AD, and you’re trying to disprove Christianity. How, exactly, do you go about it, and how do you go about convincing the Christians they’re mistaken once you’ve found out they’re wrong?

        • Simple to disprove if none of those are true.

          Oh? What is the simple evidence that would convince you that any one of these is false? Or that any one could be false?

          Evidence does indeed leap to mind, but I’m sure you would reject it.

          To your last sentence: I thought some (not all) had recanted, but I could be wrong. You’re sure none did?

          I agree that Mormonism has evidence in its favor. In fact, I argue that it blows away the equivalent evidence for conventional Christianity here.

        • 90Lew90

          I’m sorry but this kind of “thinking” really is just disordered. “Based on the reality of…?” I was reaching for a joke just now but it’s beyond a joke and beneath contempt.

          What are we to make of this, after that offensive shite you quoted from the esteemed William Lane Craig an hour ago:

          Bus Plunges Off Cliff in Brazil, Killing Scores of Passengers

          RIO DE JANEIRO — A bus plunged off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina on Saturday, killing more than 40 people, emergency response officials said.

          The bus was carrying families going to an evangelical Christian event in Paraná State when the driver lost control late in the afternoon on a curve in a highway through the Dona Francisca mountain range, sending the vehicle over a cliff into a tree-lined area in the Atlantic Forest. As rescue crews worked into the night on Saturday to recover bodies, the police said the death toll could climb as high as 55, including children.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/world/americas/bus-plunges-off-cliff-in-brazil-killing-scores-of-passengers.html?_r=0

          As I understand, the death toll now stands at 54. The brakes failed. What gives? Jesus brought them back to heaven? Only the good die young? This was a special little treat for the families of the dead? A perfect opportunity?

          Or were they the wrong sort of Christians, because I’ve noted that since this story broke, the event they were on their way to has changed from an “evangelical Christian” one to an “Afro-Brazilian religious” one, according to a lot of major news outlets. Could it be possible that some Christians decided this kind of fate couldn’t possibly befall their own Jesus-loving brethren, and screamed BIAS!!! PERSECUTION!!! Is that beyond belief? I don’t think so.

          What would the protesters have said about the Afro-Brazilian celebrants? “Bah, they must have mixed their voodoo up with their woo-woo. Right? Let’s get on the phone and get on email and put these biased outlets straight.”

          Or you’re full of shit and this is a human tragedy. It’s the kind of human tragedy that happens all the time, and before you even think of trying to accuse me of gloating, just reflect on the gleefulness, the sheer moist-underweared, wild-eyed joy with which you lot exploit death at every single opportunity. You’re all over death like flies round a, well, a corpse. God you people make me sick. You really do.

        • Wick Samuel

          you lost me, I HATE tragedy.

          how in the world do you get from my believing in God, to somehow thinking I like tragedy?

          If God IS real, then there IS a purpose. We can both agree that statement is true, right?

        • 90Lew90

          Just fuck off.

        • Kodie

          I don’t agree. IF god is real, evidence points to an incompetent megalomaniac just trying to make it to Friday. He delegates responsibility to the weakest members of his team, his ideas are shit, his execution is poorly planned, and his purpose is to have something to turn in so he doesn’t get fired. He is the George Costanza of deities.

        • (Aside: that’s the kind of writing that you do well–sharp, snarky, memorable. Brilliant!)

        • TheNuszAbides

          “the George Costanza of deities” deserves a commemorative plaque or something.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Regarding the Mormon plates, none of the original witnesses recanted their testimony despite an acrimonious split with the founder.

          Well I can think of a number of reasons for this right off the top of my head. To recant would to be labeling oneself to all and sundry the lying bastard they actually were. But also, as is the case with splitters and schism merchants, creating ones own version of a lucrative enterprise is far easier with the basics in place. Although the basics had to be reinforced at least once by a pretender, see example below.

          Example:

          After Smith’s death, James Strang, claiming to be Smith’s chosen successor, also produced buried plates and the testimony of eleven witnesses to their authenticity. All living witnesses to the Book of Mormon (except possibly Cowdery)—three of the Whitmers, Martin Harris, and Hiram Page—accepted at least briefly Strang’s “leadership, angelic call, metal plates, and his translation of these plates as authentic.”

          You should be familiar and recognise this procedure from within Christianity. With 38,000+ versions on a theme, which began the splitting right from the get go some 1987 years ago +/- 10 years.

        • Thanks for the information about Mssr. Strang (or perhaps I should say King James). That was news to me.

          The Mormon church is a great example, since it beats conventional Christianity on pretty much every point.

        • Pofarmer

          Christianity is based on Paul, who believed in a Savior coming down to Earth to kick the Romans ass. After the destruction of Jerusalem they had to come up with some reason the savior hadn’t shown up, and, Bam, we crucified him by mistake. So, you get the later Gospels based off of Pauls heavenly savior. No one would have checked, either in Pauls day or later, because, a) they were worshiping all kinds of gods anyway, and b) after the fall of Jerusalem they couldn’t have checked it anyway. One pertinent question is why there was no history of tomb veneration of any kind before Constantines Mom picked the spot in the 4th century.

        • Ignorant Amos

          …of course you meant Constantine’s mammy, Helena, a minor typo, I knew who you were talking about, others may have got confused.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, shit, I’ll change it.

        • Wick Samuel

          A. Paul persecuted the early Christian church, he became a Christian only after the Damascus road experience.
          B. Belief in the resurrection is documented at 50AD, destruction of the temple at 70AD
          C. Paul didnt write any of the Gospels
          D. Jewish persecution of the early church.
          E. no tomb veneration because the tomb was empty, no body there
          etc
          etc

          I dont think a single sentence in your post is accurate. Where did you get that info from?

        • Pofarmer

          B) Where is belief in the ressurection documented in 50 A.D.?

          C). And?

          D) candida Moss and others say early persecution was highly overstated.

          E). How stupid are you? The place where a man rose from thedead wouldn’t be venerated?

        • E. They’ll venerate the site where Our Lord first skinned his knee or first kissed a girl, but I’m with Wick on this one. Empty tombs that prove the deity of someone are overrated.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. You would think it would be noteworthy that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of the most venerated sites in the World today. Thinking that ancient people wouldn’t have venerated the site of so great a miracle is just hiding your head in the sand.

        • Is that the one where the different groups of monks charged with tidying up the different sections of the church get into fights occasionally?

          Serving Jesus makes you loving, I guess. Or not.

        • Philmonomer

          No way I’m with Wick on this one. [Edit: oops, I initially missed the sarcasm.]

          Assuming the Jesus story is true, surely early followers would venerate the single most important place in all of Christianity! The place where death itself was conquered. And look….you have an empty tomb to prove it!

        • Kodie

          They have venerated places that aren’t the tomb to simulate the empty tomb. Everyone knows it’s fake, and yet it’s still a major tourist attraction!

        • Ignorant Amos

          A. Paul persecuted the early Christian church, he became a Christian only after the Damascus road experience.

          Who says?

          B. Belief in the resurrection is documented at 50AD, destruction of the temple at 70AD

          Not an earthly resurrection though. Earthly resurrection isn’t mentioned until the first gospel written, Mark. BTW, a resurrection motif in various belief system of the time and earlier is well known.

          C. Paul didnt write any of the Gospels

          That’s right, he was writing well before the gospels to Christian groups at different locations, yet fails to mention the alleged earthly exploits of Jesus, not even when it would serve to support a position he was trying to assert. Strange, no?

          D. Jewish persecution of the early church.

          Source please.

          E. no tomb veneration because the tomb was empty, no body there

          Since when would that have made a difference to pilgrims?

          I dont think a single sentence in your post is accurate.

          Only because you are ignorant of current scholarship I’m guessing.

          Where did you get that info from?

          Current scholarship.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Constantine appointed his mother Helena as Augusta Imperatrix, and gave her unlimited access to the imperial treasury in order to locate the relics of Judeo-Christian tradition. In 326-28 Helena undertook a trip to the Holy Places in Palestine. According to Eusebius of Caesarea she was responsible for the construction or beautification of two churches, theChurch of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and the Church on the Mount of Olives, sites of Christ’s birth and ascension, respectively. Local founding legend attributes to Helena’s orders the construction of a church in Egypt to identify the Burning Bush of Sinai. The chapel at Saint Catherine’s Monastery—often referred to as the Chapel of Saint Helen—is dated to the year AD 330.

          Jerusalem was still being rebuilt following the destruction caused by Emperor Hadrian. He had built a temple over the site ofJesus’s tomb near Calvary, and renamed the city Aelia Capitolina. Accounts differ concerning whether the Temple was dedicated to Venus or Jupiter According to tradition, Helena ordered the temple torn down and, according to the legend that arose at the end of the 4th century, chose a site to begin excavating, which led to the recovery of three different crosses.

        • A. Could’ve been that his wild ‘n crazy past was just part of his story. We see people “improving” their biographies even today.

        • Philmonomer

          no tomb veneration because the tomb was empty, no body there

          I’ve never thought of this, but it seems like an amazingly good question. If Jesus was raised from the dead 3 days later, why no veneration of the tomb?!?!

          That is, after all, the place where DEATH WAS CONQUERED. The single most important thing in all of Christianity.

          Wick’s answer: no veneration b/c no body there misses the point. What you would be venerating is the lack of a body!

        • MNb

          D is nonsense. The jews weren’t in the position to persecute the early church, because
          a) the early christians still were jews themselves (they had access to the Temple of Jeruzalem for instance) and
          b) they were not the people in charge – the Romans were.

          Plus you didn’t address anything Pofarmer wrote.

        • The Jewish leadership was out of power and dead by the time Mark was written.

          Apologists seem to imagine that the author of Mark was writing down all this stuff as it was happening, right outside his window. When it’s 40 years later and the entire thing can be just characters on paper, arguments like, “But what about the Jewish leaders of the time?” sound pretty ridiculous.

        • Greg G.

          It would be like trying to prove that the Batman villain, Mr. Freeze, was not publicly executed on Christmas Eve by your state government during the Nixon administration if he had served 18 years.

        • TheNuszAbides

          #cotd

        • Rudy R

          Mark is a credible document for what? Forty year-old history? Mark was written 40-60 years after Jesus’ death by an unknown author, documenting oral history. Believing Mark is a credible, historical document is the very definition of faith.

        • Greg G.

          Mark wasn’t writing forty year old history. He was writing an allegory set forty years in the past. He wasn’t documenting oral history, he was using the literature of the day, attributing the deeds of other people and fictional characters to Jesus.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price

          How a Fictional Jesus Gave Rise to Christianity, by R. G. Price

          Note: Different Price’s.

        • Rudy R

          We violently agree. I tend to agree with Richard Carrier, that Jesus was just a myth. So for me, the Gospels were all fiction as it pertained to Jesus. And like Richard Carrier, if the theory doesn’t hold, it’s still not a concession that Jesus was anything more than an itinerant rabbi who preached that a heaven on Earth would be ruled by god in his lifetime.

        • Greg G.

          it’s still not a concession that Jesus was anything more than an itinerant rabbi who preached that a heaven on Earth would be ruled by god in his lifetime.

          Exactly. Even the Epistles don’t support any of that.

        • Nice demonstration of how idiotic the arguments become when you’re bound to stand up for your Big Book of Mythology, regardless.

          Some guy wrote Matthew. He knew Greek, and he obviously was very familiar with the stories in the Septuagint, such as the Bethlehem thing. He deliberately added Jesus being born in Bethlehem and then crowed about “fulfilled prophecy.” Or, the same thing happened, but in the oral history period that preceded the authorship of Matthew.

          Not all that remarkable when you think about it.

        • How do you explain the survival of every other novel cult in the Roman Empire, including those that were heavily persecuted by the Romans?

        • Wick Samuel

          One would have to look at the nature and origin of the belief.

          The big difference with Christianity is that it is rooted in an falsifiable historical event.

        • Jack Baynes

          Which one?

        • Greg G.

          What a coincidence! I have all of those references as what the NT authors used to make up stories about Jesus because they had no actual history to write about.

          You should include:
          Jesus will walk to a feast with thousands of people. Homer’s Odyssey
          Jesus will travel by boat to a different feast with thousands of people. Homer’s Odyssey

        • Rudy R

          Do you have an extra-biblical source that states Jesus was born in Bethlehem? There are Biblical scholars that believe Jesus was born in Nazareth, and not Bethlehem, so it’s not a slam dunk on your side.

          In Isaiah 7:14 the Hebrew states “hinei ha’almah harah veyoledet ben” “behold (hineih) the young woman (ha – the almah- young woman) is pregnant (harah) and shall give birth (ve-and yoledet-shall give birth) to a son (ben)”. Christians wrongly translate this as “behold a virgin shall give birth.”

          Jesus wasn’t the first rabbi rejected or betrayed by his own people and certainly wasn’t the last. Another weak point.

          There is no extra-biblical accounts, outside of Josephus and Tacitus, that Jesus resurrected from the dead. There is great disagreement among Biblical scholars as to the efficacy of Josephus’ and Tacitus’ mention of Jesus in their writings. Another weak point on your side.

          The few prophesies you failed to mention were that the Messiah would bring peace to the world, gather the Jewish people from their exile to the land of Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. After Jesus’ came on the scene, the Temple was destroyed, the Jews were exiled all over the world and where’s the peace?

        • Wick Samuel

          Do you have an extra-biblical source that states Jesus was born in Bethlehem?

          yep, here ya go:

          https://www.census.gov/4BC/Israel/Bethlehem/index.html

          =====
          “where’s the peace”
          – Jesus.

        • Guest

          The link doesn’t work.

        • Wick Samuel

          oops, try this one.

          http://goo.gl/qdG50E

        • Rudy R

          Care to share more of that so-call “numerous list?”

        • powellpower
        • Dang–I got Rick Rolled!

        • Greg G.

          The census was in 6 AD.

        • Rudy R

          The link doesn’t work. By peace, the prophesy meant world peace. This reply is even lame for your standards.

        • So then no, you got nothing.

        • Kodie

          Wow, ? You think the US keeps census stats for other countries from over 2000 years ago?

        • Wick Samuel

          That was from the Romans of the time, they kept fantastic records.

        • 90Lew90

          …which don’t record any empire-wide census. But they did know who was governor where and when. Those were good records. Not “fantastic” records. The fantastic claims are the ones your lot make.

        • Kodie

          You sent a link to the US government’s census bureau, which didn’t work as you had hoped.

        • Wick Samuel
        • Kodie

          Site wasn’t down. You invented a link to nonsense and that’s why it doesn’t work.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That link is shagged too.

          Here, read an historians account.

          http://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/quirinius.html

          Given that there is no evidence for the place even existing at that time in history.

          The town of Bethlehem in the West Bank, some six miles south of Jerusalem, is revered by millions as the birthplace of Jesus. According to the New Testament account of the apostle Matthew, Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem in the southern region of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth and later moved to Nazareth in the northern Galilee region. In the more popular account of the apostle Luke, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary traveled more than 90 miles from their residence in Nazareth to Joseph’s Judean hometown of Bethlehem to be counted in a Roman census. Regardless of the variation, both apostles agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city where King David had been born a thousand years earlier. The Christian Messiah could thereby be considered a descendant of the House of David–a requirement for followers of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

          But while Luke and Matthew describe Bethlehem in Judea as the birthplace of Jesus, “Menorah,” the vast database of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), describes Bethlehem as an “ancient site” with Iron Age material and the fourth-century Church of the Nativity and associated Byzantine and medieval buildings. But there is a complete absence of information for antiquities from the Herodian period–that is, from the time around the birth of Jesus.

          I had never before questioned the assumption that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. But in the early 1990s, as an archaeologist working for the IAA, I was contracted to perform some salvage excavations around building and infrastructure projects in a small rural community in the Galilee. When I started work, some of the people who lived around the site told me how Jesus was really born there, not in the south. Intrigued, I researched the archaeological evidence for Bethlehem in Judea at the time of Jesus and found nothing. This was very surprising, as Herodian remains should be the first thing one should find. What was even more surprising is what archaeologists had already uncovered and what I was to discover over the next 11 years of excavation at the small rural site–Bethlehem of Galilee.

          Now, what is more likely? Two authors, in order to fulfill OT prophecy in Micah, write two contradictory accounts of how the holy family got to be in a place that probably wasn’t there at the time, or the TWO events are historically accurate, but somehow the authors got confused independently, even though they appear to have been aware of each others work?

        • Greg G.

          I think he was joking. He had no answer for the question that was put to him, as usual.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ironically, the new link redirects me to….

          http://uk.yhs4.search.yahoo.com/yhs/errorhandler?hspart=visicom&hsimp=yhse-visicom&type=vmn__antiphishing-internethelper__1_0_1_106__yhse__antiphishing_dn__rp&q=rome.census.govfirst-century-palestinegreater-bethlehemindex.html

          Where there is a wiki link to…

          In the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke account of the birth of Jesus links it to this census but also locates it during the reign of Herod the Great, which ended a decade earlier. The account in the Gospel of Matthew likewise places the birth during the reign of Herod. Most modern scholars explain this reference to the census as an error on the part of the author of the Luke Gospel.

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

          Good old Wick, hoist by his own petard, again.

        • Greg G.

          As if Matthew wasn’t in error, too.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed. Least not for the genealogy of Jesus amongst other things.

          I do have a good laugh at the pretzelmanic contortions the apologist has to go through to force the square peg of scripture into the round hole theology.

        • MNb

          “”where’s the peace”- Jesus.”
          Then christians have remarkable large problems finding the man, because as soon as they got the chance they started smashing each other heads over silly theological issues.
          Again science works better.

        • Greg G.

          How about Luke 4:16-20? First we are told that Nazareth was a very small village but they apparently had their own synagogue, with an attendant. Jesus read from Isaiah in the synagogue, Isaiah 61:1-2. He read “recovering of sight to the blind”, which is not in the Hebrew text. It is in the Septuagint, though.

          It sounds like a joke on Bible-believers to have a passage that says “Jesus walked into a synagogue on the sabbath and started reading from the Septuagint.”

          In the next verse, Jesus says the Septuagint scripture had been fulfilled. Are you sure you are reading the right prophecies?

          In Matthew 21:1-9, Jesus enters Jerusalem riding two donkeys to fulfill Zechariah 9:9 as quoted in Matthew 21:5. But the wording is clearly Hebrew poetic doubling and refers to only one donkey. But Matthew screwed it up while Mark and Luke have one donkey. That should make it obvious that the authors are just writing their gospel to fulfill random passages in the OT to make them seem like prophecy.

        • Bethlehem: that “prophecy” was worked into the story by someone who had read Micah.

          Virgin: debunked here.

          Isaiah 53 debunked here.

          Let’s just start with that. In general, these prophecy claims are laughably weak. But perhaps there’s one I haven’t heard of–give me your favorite.

        • Jesus fulfilled prophecy? Give me some examples and we can discuss further. I’ve written posts about several.

          Maybe you know some compelling prophecies that I can explore and write a new post about.

        • Philmonomer

          you mean, Jesus didn’t fulfill that expectation.

          For years I thought the standard line–“Jesus was the Messiah, but he wasn’t the Messiah in the way the Jews expected (even though he fulfilled the prophecies) so the Jews rejected Jesus”–made sense. It doesn’t, if you think about it for a minute.

          In order for this to work, you have to believe that the Jews at that time misunderstood their own prophecies of a Messiah, and then continued to misunderstand them for the last 2 thousand years. Why would that happen? Why would God allow that happen? It makes no sense.

          The best answer is that Jews didn’t (and don’t) believe in Jesus because Jesus didn’t fulfill the prophecies.

          See:
          http://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html

        • Pofarmer

          Will Jesus come back for an Earthly reign? Hell no.

  • Elijah was taken bodily into heaven, so if John were his reincarnation how’s that work? John was born in the usual manner. Did Elijah discard his body in heaven and God sent down his soul? Then why bother taking it up? This really raises a lot of questions…

    • Maybe Elijah’s body was like a taxi, and he left it when he got to his destination so he could reincarnate in John.

      • busterggi

        You’re thinking of Ismael’s brother Ataxi.

  • “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).Whaaa … ?”
    You know, this is a fair response, and made me chuckle to my self a little. Oh, how I wish I could sit down with Bob in one of those numberous Starbucks up there where he lives on a rainy day and spend a few hours with him answering all his questions about this amazing book we call the Bible. I am convinced that the commentors on this blog are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met, so I know my explanation will not be misunderstood. Your reading of portions of the Bible that seem to contradict each other can be interpreted in an exponentially large number of different ways that make sense. As atheists, my dear friends, let’s be honest now, you choose the one that ridicules. Big surprise. Ok, well your posting asks -give me a one interpretation that does make sense. Really, you can’t come up with one. Ok, I’ll play along, and we will take the John the Baptist contradition – John baptizes Jesus – I love your comment, Bob, they probably played together, (maybe dodge ball, Lew – inside joke) – yes, and John reconized Jesus, “you should be baptizing me” – Now, John is in prison – and asks the question quoted at the top – Why, doesn’t he know? -Have you not read in the Bible other passages where Jesus and others knew the answer, yet asked the question anyway? Why, Why, Why, would anyone do that? For Pete’s sakes, I’ve done it myself with my own children! Because you want to have the answer elicited, exposed, and in plain sight for teaching purposes – Funny, reminds me of
    something Iearned in law school when performing cross examination – Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer – You see sometimes people, ask questions to which they know the answer – case in point – John the Baptist -hey, you wanted one interpretatiion – you got it – you’re welcome.

    • Ron

      I see. And then Jesus played along with John’s joke by telling those same disciples:

      “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

      They were doing an Abbott and Costello routine. 🙂

      • lol, but yes – look you prove my polnt exactly, we would never have that beautiful expositiion by Jesus about himself if John didn’t ask – third base.

        • 90Lew90

          “lol [sic], but yes – look you [sic] prove my polnt [sic] exactly, we would never have that [sic] beautiful expositiion [sic] by Jesus about himself if John didn’t [sic] ask [sic] – third base.”

        • Ron

          What’s there to interpret when Wick Samuel states it outright (i.e., “John was confused…”)?

      • They were doing an Abbott and Costello routine. 🙂

        They totally killed in Jerusalem. They had to be held over for additional shows.

        • Greg G.

          I remember that routine. “Jews on First, Matt’s on Second, IdontNoah is on Third.

          I bet Ruth is batting clean up.

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      As Ron points out, we can relate to your example, but the Bible passages in no way imply that is what is happening.

      • I disagree, haven’t you ever heard that the Bible itself is for instructional purposes – response – not only is it implied in the passages but in the entire nature of the Bible.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Instructions for who? If indeed it is for instruction that doesn’t rule out that the instructions could have become obsolete.

        • whom. True, but they are as relevent today as 2000 years ago – ever hear of the golden rule. gold lasts forever.

        • 90Lew90

          Greg corrects grammar! Just when you think it can’t get any ridiculouser.

        • more rediculous

        • more rediculous

          You misspelled moar. :p

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          I do appreciate grammar correction, though. It might as well be a blog commenter handshake.

          However, his assertions that all or even most of the Bible is s instruction looks pretty rediculous viewing all the various “everyday lives” that have existed throughout history.

        • 90Lew90

          There was nothing wrong with what you said. He’d have you sounding like Hyacinth Bucket.

          “Instructions for whom? The layday of the house?”

          Pfft.

        • Greg G.

          She: your adorable
          Me: No, you’re adorable.

          Now she thinks I’m her boyfriend.
              from The Perils of Pedantic Grammar Correction

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Not being a wizard myself, this situation doesn’t result in me getting a girlfriend ever :-[

        • Greg G.

          The worst part is that when you start getting really good at it, people stop talking to you. C’est la vie.

        • Greg G.

          I probably would have dated that Kate Upton chick if she was better at grammar.

        • Upvoted because it’s funny. But I’m generally happy to receive such constructive criticism.

        • Greg G.

          I like to be corrected when I am factually wrong. I think I am pretty good at getting the right word and spelling. Sometimes my fingers are off a key or one hand gets ahead of the other. I caught myself just before posting two days ago with “there” in place of “their”. The spellcheck on my phone obscures my meaning more than my tpyos when it takes a specific word that is correct but not in the phones vocabulary and substitutes two random words for it.

          But if someone keeps making the same mistake over and over, it is kindness to point it out. They might grouse about the correction but they will pay more attention in the future.

          I am most annoyed when people use “then” for “than”.

          It is almost a Karmic internet law that you will make a grammar error in your correction of someone’s grammar error.

          Steven J., a poster on talk.origins years ago once pointed out an error with “If we want to be pedantic (and who doesn’t?)…” I enjoy plagiarizing that often.

        • MR

          It is almost a Karmic internet law that you will make a grammar error in your correction of someone’s grammar error.

          So true!

        • 90Lew90

          I hate spellcheckers and the grammar one that MS Word uses. I switch them off for writing and then on to read the document through in case I’ve missed something. Obviously I wouldn’t print everything I post in comments but the best way to proof-read is on a hard copy. When I was back at university last year I reverted to the old rule for writing essays we used at school — a good one too, apparently now lost — of handwriting and then transcribing. It sounds tedious in this lightning-fast era of word processing but I could really see the value of it and the results were always good. When you can type fast you can produce some seriously ugly, garbled shit. Writing longhand slows you right down and sometimes that’s a good thing.

        • Greg G.

          That’s a good rule. I have had what seemed like a good idea and tried to type it out before I lost it. Then when I read it, the wording is so garbled, I can’t make out what exactly I was getting at. I can only hope that what I post is meaningful to the reader but it is not guaranteed just because it suggests to me what I was trying to convey.

          Does that last paragraph make sense?

        • 90Lew90

          Chuckle. Yes. I think everybody has that anxiety about their writing. When I write for pleasure I’m quite often pleased with it. As long as I feel I’ve mastered a topic then my academic stuff is generally alright too, but less pleasurable to do. Sit me down to correspond with a lawyer (such as I’ve had to do a number of times in the last year), and I tense up. I re-read and it’s fucking cringe worthy. Horrible.

          The only thing worse is reading a statement taken by police. If you’re the accused it’s recorded, so what you say is what gets transcribed. I’m fine with that. But if you’re pressing charges it’s not, so they’re busy trying to keep up with what you’re saying and then (well, this happened to me anyway) they present you with something completely alien, which bears no relation to what you’ve said or how you’ve conveyed it.

          It reminded me of an interview I read years ago with Damon Albarn from Blur, talking about what it feels like to have a song covered by another artist. He said it’s like someone taking your Labrador out for a walk and bringing back a Pit Bull (or words to that effect). In my case it was the opposite with the police. My Mastiff got turned into some sort Poodle-Chihuahua cross.

        • Do you ever read your stuff aloud, just to yourself? It seems to activate a different part of the brain, and that technique helps me spot errors or clumsy bits.

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve only ever read aloud things I’m trying to learn by heart. Essays for exams or quotes for essays. I’m a really slow reader, possibly a bit dyslexic, so as I said before I tend to “hear” what I’m reading. Each. Word. At. A. Time. I envy those people who can devour books in half a day. It takes a fair bit of effort for me to get through a long book in a week. (I nearly shat myself when I was handed Don Quixote and a bunch of questions on it to be handed in the following week. I didn’t manage it. Not even close.) I do find reading aloud good for memorizing though. One of my sisters used to record herself reading her stuff and correct from playback, but I don’t know how anyone can listen to their own voice and think, yeah! That sounds great!

        • Agreed. I hate listening to my voice.

        • My favorite one to hate is its/it’s errors. But I’m not too picky because I (like your there/their error) too often make a homonym mistake myself.

          Yes, that “pedantic” comment is a keeper.

        • Greg G.

          Just today, I received: “I wouldn’t hold your breath.”

          Sometimes it is hard to resist.

        • Took me a moment to see what’s wrong with that. Then I saw it… lol.

        • Otto

          The Bible’s connection to the golden rule would be somewhat interesting if it was original to it…alas it is not. I would expect a divinely inspired work to have at least one moral concept that was unique.

        • mason

          The only thing I found unique in the so called bible was the level of political spin, e.g. Exodus …even Rabbis today teach the Jews were never slaves building pyramids in Egypt

          GOLDEN RULE

          c. 1000 B.C.: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto
          others which would cause you pain done unto you.” –the Mahabharata, the
          Brahman text

          c. 650 B.C.: “Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from
          him.” –Pittacus

          c. 500 B.C.: “Do unto another what you would have him do unto you, and do
          not do unto another what you would not have him do unto you.” –Confucious

          c. 401-500 B.C.: “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.”
          –Thales

          c. 385 B.C.: “We should conduct ourselves toward others as we would have
          them act toward us.” –Aristotle

          c. 338 B.C.: “Act toward others as you desire them to act toward
          you.” –Isocrates

          c. 50 B.C.: “Do not do to others what you would not like others to do to
          you.” –Hillel (Jewish teacher)

          c. 30-33 A.D.: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” –Jesus

          Brahmanism: this is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which
          would cause you pain if done to you. (Mahabharata 5:1517)

          Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
          (UdanaVarga 5:18)

          Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that man should do to
          you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew
          7:12)

          Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not do
          unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (Analects 15:23)

          Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother
          that which he desires for himself. (Sunnah)

          Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowman. That is
          the entire law; all the rest is commentary. (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

          Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your
          neighbor’s loss as your own loss. (T’ai Shang
          Kan Ying P’ien)

          Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing
          unto another whatsoever is not good for itself. (Dadistan-I-dinik 94:5)

        • Otto

          I remained a Christian longer because of the lie that the golden rule originated from Christianity. It was one of the only redeeming qualities of Christian belief and to find out that was BS killed any respect I had for the religion.

        • busterggi

          The golden rule predates the bible if you care about facts.

        • mason

          Instructional purposes? LOL

          Like how to beat a slave, sell a daughter, or how a female should marry her rapist?

          or peace and family values like….

          “Do
          not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring
          peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter
          against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a
          man’s enemies will be the members of his household. Matthew 10:34

        • mason – you don’t go to Hawaii, looking for snow – if a person is looking for instruction on those terrible things, you know they will go somewhere else for instruction. But, if you are looking on how to walk a righteous path that leads you right to heaven, then yes, there is no better place to look.

        • Huh?? You’ve done nothing to support the reliability of your source!

          The world is full of religious nuts; why should we listen to you?

        • Pofarmer

          That’s, just, what a maroon.

        • The message of God was for man and it had to be given to man so he could set it down for other men to read. I sum it up this way, anything man toucheth, stinketh.

        • MNb

          You confirm that indeed – anything you toucheth on this site stinketh badly.
          Also thanks for confirming how psychologically unhealthy christianity is. Such a negative self-image is considered a mental illness these days.

        • it’s called realism, dude.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          Says the man with the imaginary quilt. You wouldn’t recognize reality if it hit you with a hammer on your christian head.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you know this stuff? Who was the man that said it was the message of God and why do you believe him…that is, in the face of all those alternative men with their messages of gods to reveal? What is it that stands your particular stinky message of God from all the other stinky yarns?

        • mason

          I am very happy with my life and path as an atheist with my faith in things with evidence. Have a nice day.

        • Understood, life and path – – check – ok; end of path – ? – not ok. But, yes, please have a great St. Patty’s Day.

        • … according to someone who ignores the end-of-path claims of the other thousand religions.

        • mason

          the beauty of my path is it’s endless 🙂

        • on that my friend, I can not disagree. wishing you well.

        • Kodie

          We get it, you’re afraid to die.

        • MNb

          “if you are looking on how to walk a righteous path that leads you right to heaven, then yes, there is no better place to look.”
          How do you know? Which method did you use? What’s your standard?
          Don’t bother to answer, we already know. It’s your big fat thumb you’re sucking on again.

        • Do you see any other religion that has One Leader who possess direct lineage with “The Rock”, Peter, the left hand man (John was on his right) of Jesus. On you, I will build my church – Jesus said it and it is true today in the year 2015 – MNb, anyother religion have that? And today I suck on corned beef and cabbage.

        • Kodie

          These are characters in a play, or what? Does any other religion have people with lineages to people they consider important? Yes. I don’t know why you think yours are more real than another. Can you ever stop being a dope? No.

        • Ignorant Amos

          News for ya Greg…Catholicism hasn’t got it either. Christianity in general? Wise up.

        • Pofarmer

          Any actual evidence of that lineage? And even if it did? Who cares? The Catholic Church literally killed millions in the middle ages, terrorized millions more and currently covers up priests abusive g children. Why the Fuck do I,care about some supposed apostolic lineage when their history is,so fuckin horrific?

        • MNb

          Backing up what you sucked from your big fat thumb with stuff other people sucked from their big fat thumbs is not a reliable methodology.

        • Scott_In_OH

          So you see Roman Catholicism (not Christianity in general) as the One, True Path? In fact, your first sentence implies that you see all versions of Protestant Christianity (and Orthodox Christianity) as “other religions.”

          I wonder what Wick Samuel thinks of that.

    • MNb

      “can be interpreted”
      Read: explained away.
      As soon as you christians have developed a reliable method that leads to interpretations every christian can agree on you can wake me up. Until that moment I prefer the easy explanation: the Bible is 100% man made and hence contains errors. No divine hand involved.
      To make sure you fully understand me, because this

      “the commentors on this blog are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met”
      says a lot more about the people you usually meet than about the commentors on this blog:

      My argument is not“the Bible is full of contradictions, hence there is no god.” It’s “there is no god, hence I expect the Bible being full of contradictions. Save me the great intellectual efforts to explain them away, because they are a waste of time.”

    • Thanks for addressing the questions head-on.

      how I wish I could sit down with Bob in one of those numberous Starbucks up there where he lives on a rainy day and spend a few hours with him answering all his questions about this amazing book we call the Bible.

      It’s not like I’ve not read endless articles and listened to innumerable podcasts that try to address these questions. You know that, right?

      I would also enjoy chatting with you about apologetics or Bible problems, but don’t expect to be especially convincing.

      Your reading of portions of the Bible that seem to contradict each other can be interpreted in an exponentially large number of different ways that make sense.

      I have long since stopped presenting a biblical problem and expecting a Christian to find it compelling. I’m sure that every problem has an explanation. (Curiously, just yesterday I was given a second copy of Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.) But that doesn’t mean that the explanation will be compelling. Rationalizations that start with the presumption of biblical correctness seldom are.

      your posting asks -give me a one interpretation that does make sense.

      No, I’m asking: Give me an explanation that salvages the Bible that is the most plausible of all explanations. I don’t want some out-of-your-ass explanation that pleases a Christian droid but is worse than the natural explanation.

      Have you not read in the Bible other passages where Jesus and others knew the answer, yet asked the question anyway? Why, Why, Why, would anyone do that?

      Good question. Even better: show me how the Bible makes clear that John B.’s conundrum is rhetorical.

      Didn’t you think ahead and know that this would be the question I’d have? Why not anticipate it?

      You see sometimes people, ask questions to which they know the answer – case in point – Johnn the Baptist

      Now show me that John was being the straight man to give Jesus the opportunity to respond. Literarily, I agree—makes sense. But your intended domain is history.

      hey, you wanted one interpretatiion – you got it – you’re welcome.

      Uh, yeah. Thanks. I was asking for the most plausible interpretation, and I think I’ve already found it.

      • “I would also enjoy chatting with you about apologetics or Bible problems, but don’t expect to be especially convincing.”

        Very gracious of you to say, Bob, I agree, I believe I would probably be the one to learn a few things or two. I’d also love to know more about your contributions in the technology world with which I do have a fascination. I have this thought that it’ll be some sort of book signing for you when a fellow like me would get a chance to shake your hand and say thank you – (and meet the other guys/gals here who might show up).

        “Give me an explanation that salvages the Bible that is the most plausible of all explanations.”

        I know you may laugh, but I believe I did. Moreover, the fact that you do not think so, is proof that you really don’t read the Bible well. Need I point out that the context of John’s statements – are while he is in Prison! (ironic how a discussion of prison systems of America and Norwegian have been going on – perhaps intentional by you) Bob, if we are to read the John’s question in a literal context – you are expecting way to much from John. Can’t you cut him a break? You’re demanding perfect memory, and comprehension of statements being provided him after he probably was roughed up and starved for a few days. He is hearing that a man named Jesus is around performing miricles. Out of a stupor he asks, is this the same Jesus I knew and is his message the same, is he the one or is there another? Come on, Bob, I wake up on a Sunday morning before my coffee and I’m as lost as he might have been. My point – you just aren’t reading the Bible from the starting point of saying, ok, if it was true…

        • I agree, I believe I would probably be the one to learn a few things or two.

          I may have given the wrong impression. I learn much from Christian apologists, and you may well have things that I’d appreciate learning—about the church or the Bible, or about your particular views. What I doubt will happen, though (after having done this muchly) is for you to give me a Christian argument that I find intellectually compelling.

          I’d also love to know more about your contributions in the technology world with which I do have a fascination.

          You might find my book Future Hype interesting.

          I know you may laugh, but I believe I did.

          You do see the distinction I was making, right? Yes, you did give an explanation. No, your explanation was not the most plausible. And therein lies the problem.

          the fact that you do not think so, is proof that you really don’t read the Bible well.

          Bam! Allow me to pick myself up off the mat. Wow—I didn’t see that one coming. It’s actually my fault—who knew? Besides you, I mean.

          Can’t you cut him a break? You’re demanding perfect memory

          Well, yeah—that’s a point. He’d only baptized the fucking Son of God. It’s not like that would be a particularly strong memory.

          comprehension of statements being provided him after he probably was roughed up and starved for a few days.

          It’s a story written 40 years after the fact. The specifics of his question and condition are pretty malleable.

          He is hearing that a man named Jesus is around performing miricles. Out of a stupor he asks, is this the same Jesus I knew

          Doesn’t say stupor. And he knows for a fact that Jesus is the one for the reasons I mentioned in the post. If he was confused about identity, he’d ask a very different question!

          you just aren’t reading the Bible from the starting point of saying, ok, if it was true…

          I’m reading the Bible as if it’s an ancient book from a prescientific group of people. Let’s let the facts speak for themselves. No, it doesn’t look like it’s true.

        • awesome, thanks, Bob, for your book reference, I will pick it up – I’m one of the last, with my wife, who still frequent Barnes and Noble on a Saturday night after the dinner out – (I go to Amazon as a last resort.)

        • It’s a crime, but my book is only available online. Sorry.

        • Greg G.

          It is also available telepathically to those actually connected to the Holy Ghost.

        • Lol, You gotta stop it, Greg G., people will think you’re funnier than I am.

        • Greg G.

          You gotta talk to my wife. She doesn’t think I am smart or funny.

        • Jesus had a similar problem-
          He worked miricles everywhere but in his own home town- never thought you had so much in common, did you?

        • Greg G.

          I can work miracles, too, even in my hometown. I can cure itches just by scratching them with my fingernails.

        • TheNuszAbides

          keeps the bar high to motivate you? 😉

        • Dang it! Don’t tell them that–I’ll lose royalties!

        • Greg G.

          You can deduct the lost royalties from your tithes. Just get Quicken’s TurboTithe.

        • Read alot of Sherlock Holmes, I’ll find it. the game is afoot.

  • MNb

    On this page Greg and Wicked Sam talk a lot about how atheists don’t understand the Bible and or christianity. My answer is simple: christians don’t even understand it themselves. The most disreputable example in recent Dutch history is this one:

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

    “On 3 August 1944, Schilder was suspended for being schismatic”
    Note the man: he was a hero of resistance.
    Note the date: the nazis were very busy increasing their terror, which would result in

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_famine_of_1944

    Issue (alas only a Dutch link): the meaning of baptism.
    These christians cared more for the context of the Bible than for the context of their social environment.

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:2–3).

    It’s very simple. John was expecting Jesus to bust him out of jail (“who is to come” break him out of jail. Otherwise he would have said “who is already there” since obviously Jesus was already where Jesus was). And an astounding prophesy of the Spanish Inquisition (“should we expect “. No, nobody ever expects it). By the way, Jesus let him rot in jail of course.

    • Greg G.

      Jesus was in the Judean People’s Front crack suicide squad!

      That’s an excellent point about the verb tense.

      • Otto

        I thought it was the People’s Front of Judea…!!? Oh well, easy to get them confused.

    • wtfwjtd

      Ah yes, of course, I get it now, somehow we have preserved here John’s communication with the outside, and the failure of his pals to accomplish a jail break. Too bad. I guess ol’ Pete and his pals just didn’t have enough swords to go around, and apparently Je wasn’t inclined to use his magic for a jail break.

      • Greg G.

        When Peter was in jail, the doors opened up Deus ex machina. Why couldn’t the reincarnation of Elijah do that? Why couldn’t a whirlwind come down to take him away just before the ax fell on his neck?

  • evodevo

    Doesn’t confuse me – the Gospels were written way after the events took place, with definite agendas in mind, and one of those was to make sure that Jesus was not one-upped by John the Baptist (who was evidently an actual historical figure). No surprise they couldn’t coordinate their stories.

    • Greg G.

      The Josephus entry on John the Baptist looks like a clumsy forgery. I addressed that under this article here:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/03/clueless-john-the-baptist-2/#comment-1907273184

      • Sophia Sadek

        There is a lot of criticism on the work of Josephus. Even the stuff that was not interpolated by Christians seems to be of dubious authenticity.

        • Greg G.

          I am grateful for the Christian interpolations because it enabled the writings to survive. It can only be as good as his sources and the effect of his ego on the reporting of those sources. But it’s better than nothing.

          It makes it apparent where Matthew and Luke got some of their information.

  • David Schmidt

    I must say, your “argument” is weak. I expect better from you. There are many logical and rational reasons why John asked the question he did. One possible explanation was that he had doubts. He had certain expectations which weren’t realized. To make the leap that it isn’t history because of his doubt is silly. If anything it points to greater accuracy not less.

    • I expect better from you.

      Why? Have you been pleased with other posts?

      One possible explanation was that he had doubts.

      So he baptizes the Son of God® and then has doubts later if he’s the real deal or just some measly prophet?

      To make the leap that it isn’t history because of his doubt is silly. If anything it points to greater accuracy not less.

      The John B. story doesn’t hang together when you look at the disparate pieces. One explanation: various individual authors wrote the gospels, and they were tweaked by later copyists. That’s a heckuva lot more plausible than taking the supernatural bits as history.

      • David Schmidt

        Like many at the time, John may have believed the Messiah to be a political leader who would rescue the Jewish nation from their oppressors.
        John is not the focal point of the Gospels. Jesus Christ is. Therefore, the authors aren’t attempting to detail a complete history of John. So your conclusion that the Bible shouldn’t be believed because Gospel’s history of John B “doesn’t hang together” fails to acknowledge that the Gospels weren’t written as a history of John B.

        • Rudy R

          If the Gospels can’t keep it straight about John B, just ignore that, cuz they got it straight about Jesus…kind of.

        • Ron

          All scripture is God-breathed—is it not? Wouldn’t you expect this omni-max god to compile a better account of what’s purported to be the single most important event in human history for posterity’s sake?

        • Greg G.

          If “John is not the focal point of the Gospels”, does it matter if his story doesn’t hang together?

          Mark’s Jesus was not a pre-existent being or special from conception. He needed to be baptized for “remission of sins”. The legend grew and John’s baptism became an embarrassment. But Mark had an important role for him fulfilling prophecies so they couldn’t write him out completely.

        • Like many at the time, John may have believed the Messiah to be a political leader who would rescue the Jewish nation from their oppressors.

          The baptism story in Mark makes clear that John knew precisely who Jesus was. That the Bible has an incompatible John B. snippet where he hears marvelous tales about a Jesus and wonders if this guy is The One doesn’t reflect well on the historicity of the Bible’s stories.

          And what’s your point? That the Bible is still a reliable source for telling the most incredible story ever, even though we know from examples like this that it’s unreliable? How is it reliable for the hard stuff when it doesn’t get the basics (like a coherent John B. story) straight?

        • R Vogel

          Why do you think the baptism story in Mark makes clear John knew who Jesus was? I don’t see that reflected in Mark, but a later addition

        • Jack Baynes

          Does it matter whether the Baptism story or John’s confusion about Jesus was the story that was in the original? One way or another it appears a story was inserted that doesn’t mesh with the other, calling in to question the accuracy of the whole thing.

        • R Vogel

          I’m well beyond caring about ‘calling in to question…the whole thing.’ I think that horse has been successfully beaten into dust. Someone who can, as an adult, successfully make all the cognitive leaps necessary to read the bible as a literal retelling of events is not going to be convinced otherwise by a blog post. That discussion is neither interesting nor productive to me.

          I am interested in the evolution of the story from an historical perspective since our stories tell us a lot about ourselves. The story of the virgin birth, baptism, Judas, the arrest and crucifixion all seem to have evolved over time. I think we get glimpses of what the original story, whether factual or myth, might have been.

        • A later addition to Mark? Or in one of the later gospels?

          But either way, that’s not really my concern. My point is that the canonical story has contradictions: John B. knew precisely who Jesus was and then later he didn’t. That’s inconsistent.

        • R Vogel

          Sure, of course they do. I wouldn’t argue that, I was just interested in how you read the gospel of Mark’s account because I don’t see it giving us much insight into John’s knowledge of Jesus’ nature at all, which leads me to believe that it was part of the evolution of the story like the later addition of the virgin birth.

        • The development of the story makes sense in the context of John the Baptist’s sect being a rival to early Christianity. Mark’s Gospel has the more realistic (and I think historically-based) account of Jesus being just another follower of John. The subsequent developments of the story make a particular effort to have John deny being the Messiah and to subordinate himself to Jesus in person, and it gives an impression of protesting too much; suggesting it’s a rebuttal to people who did think John was the Messiah and Jesus was not.

          The scriptures of the Mandaeans show a little of the other side of this dispute, where John is viewed as the supreme prophet and Jesus is called a deceiver.

        • R Vogel

          I can’t speak that intelligently about the history behind it, but I have read some of what you have written here and I think there is a compelling case that the later gospels do seem to want to make clear the subordination of the Baptist to Jesus. Sectarian rivalry would seem to be fair motivation. I see some interesting parallels to the portrayal of Judas, whose characters get further impugned the further away you get to the purported events. Maybe instead of Judas singing ‘Heaven on their Minds’ in Superstar it should have been John the B, eh?

    • Greg G.

      Doubts? Luke says fetus John recognized embryonic Jesus while both were in the womb. The gospels have John saying he saw a dove from heaven coming down to Jesus and a voice from above saying how pleased it was.

      • David Schmidt

        So. Human’s doubt all the time. This is part of human nature.

        • Greg G.

          Humans don’t leap for joy in the womb just because another pregnant lady comes around. It isn’t part of human nature.

        • David Schmidt

          Yet, you believe in abiogenesis, that is life from non-life. This is truly incredible.

        • Greg G.

          Life is chemistry. I accept chemistry from chemistry.

        • David Schmidt

          Do you believe in science and the scientific method? If so, please inform me the experiment proving that life developed from mere chemicals.

        • Greg G.

          The word “believe” has a lot of baggage with implications. I accept science and the scientific method. Life did not come from chemistry. I told you that life is chemistry. Every process of what we call life is mediated by chemical processes. The whole field of biochemistry supports this. Can you point to an aspect of life that is not from chemistry without equivocating the meaning of the word “life” used in this conversation?

        • David Schmidt

          Consciousness

        • Greg G.

          Anesthesiology is chemistry that controls consciousness. Drugs impair consciousness chemically. The sleep cycle is controlled by hormones. Brain waves can be detected different levels of consciousness and those electrical impulses are generated chemically. Choices can be anticipated by scientists by measurements resulting from chemical reactions in the brain 20 to 30 seconds before the conscious mind is aware that a decision has been made subconsciously.

          What part of consciousness do you propose is not related to brain chemistry?

        • David Schmidt

          There is a difference between having an effect upon and the actual subject. Consciousness is more than merely brain chemistry. Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.

          Based upon what you are claiming, one day government can state that such and such a group’s chemistry is not “functioning” properly and “we are going to fix it.” And if you are okay with this, you are not far removed from those in Hilter’s Germany who were okay with killing Jews.

          Science is great. It has an important role is our society. But don’t confuse what can be proven scientifically with theory.

        • Kodie

          Nothing but fear-mongering?

        • MR

          Fear-mongering seems to be a favorite tactic of apologists. Maybe not tactic, perhaps belief. “Oh, no, once you head down that road it’s all over.” As if we’re incapable of auto-correcting.

          Drama, drama, drama. Fear, fear, fear. Pound, pound, pound.

        • Kodie

          You know what, though, it’s all from religious thoughts of the worst that could happen. If you give religions a little scientific knowledge, they’re the ones who are most likely to distort and use it to their own god-given purposes, as prescribed in the bible. For example, religioning the gay out of people – is that not what David is afraid of? If we find the genetic factor, Christians are going to be the ones to use it instead of accept the fact they’re wrong and it’s not a sin or a choice, and un-gay their babies. One day, Christians hope to use the government to facilitate their bigotry against their own children.

          I also love love love this fear and paranoia about what the government is going to do. They are in the bosom of the organization most likely to steer them and manipulate them and take over their lives, but they are on the same team… pawns against the government taking away their freedoms, they willingly give sizable charitable donations to the organization that actually does nothing else.

        • MR

          If you give religions a little scientific knowledge, they’re the ones who are most likely to distort and use it to their own god-given purposes.

          I thought that same thing when I read his comment! I think they project on us their own worst desires.

          Good points, all of this. Thanks for your insight.

        • Greg G.

          Consciousness is more than merely brain chemistry.

          You have demanded that I provide evidence for arguments you attributed to me. Now it’s your turn to back up your claim.

          I call Godwin’s Law on you.

        • Pofarmer

          “Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.”

          @
          Absolutely not. Understanding what,causes a flower to be yellow doesn’t diminish it’s beauty. Understanding how our bodies work likewise does not diminish us. Modern since is at the point where it is clear that consciousness is a physical process. To paraphrase Daniel Dennet “the mind is what the brain does.”

        • Greg G.

          That’s what I meant to write. It didn’t come out that way though. Thanks for the eloquence.

        • MNb

          “Consciousness is more than merely brain chemistry. ”
          Prove it. Begin with answering Greg G’s question: “what part of consciousness do you propose is not related to brain chemistry?”
          All you do is arguing from consequencez. You don’t like them, hence you reject the statement. That’s a logical fallacy. You show this with

          “Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.”
          Translation: “Mammaaaa, weeeehhhh, those nasty atheists make me cry, tell them they are wrong, weeeehhhh.”

        • MNb

          Your last sentence shows you don’t understand what science is, does and means. Science doesn’t prove anything. It’s all about raising probabilities. And theories are an integral part of science. Gravity and electricity also are “just theories”.

        • Ron

          …one day government can state that such and such a group’s chemistry is not “functioning” properly and “we are going to fix it.”

          Many states already mandate the treatment of people suffering from severe mental disorders. Would you rather they didn’t?

        • 90Lew90

          Consciousness is more than merely brain chemistry.

          And you know this… How?

          Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.

          Ah, I see. Because… Your value-judgment.

          Based upon what you are claiming, one day government can state that such and such a group’s chemistry is not “functioning” properly and “we are going to fix it.” And if you are okay with this, you are not far removed from those in Hilter’s Germany who were okay with killing Jews.

          Well then you better be worried about being American, the US being the biggest prescriber of SSRI drugs (among others active upon brain chemistry) in the world. Next thing you know you’ll be off making war around the world illegally and your police will be shooting black people with impunity at home. Which is to say, you’re barking up the wrong tree mate.

          Science is great.

          Yes isn’t it.

          It has an important role is our society.

          Yes doesn’t it — and not just your society.

          But don’t confuse what can be proven scientifically with theory.

          Which makes no sense, and though I shouldn’t guess, I’ll speculate that it means you want your sacred cow left well alone.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.

          “The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite.” ― Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

        • Atheism to naturalism to eugenics? Golly, one follows necessarily from the other! Praise the Lord.

        • I’ll echo MNb’s point. To say that something is “just” a scientific theory is like saying that I “just” won a Nobel Prize.

          It don’t get any better. Theories don’t graduate to anything else.

        • adam

          ” Consciousness is more than merely brain chemistry.”

          Where is YOUR evidence?

          ” Reducing it to its chemical interactions cheapens consciousness specifically and life generally.”

          Nothing cheapens conscious more and life generally than the bible….

          What part of consciousness do you propose is not related to brain chemistry?

        • David Schmidt

          Again, show me the experiment where scientists have created life from chemistry. You cannot. Yet you believe that one day science will. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

        • Greg G.
        • Kodie

          You believe there’s an eternally living part of you that goes somewhere after you die. Try to stop arguing from incredulity and doubting science, because theology has a lot more work to do to demonstrate what you believe without evidence.

        • show me the experiment where scientists have created life from chemistry. You cannot.

          Yeah, and? There are lots of unanswered questions within science. That’s why the scientists still have jobs.

          Your question apparently devolves into “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God.” Not much of an argument, I’m afraid.

        • Greg G.

          I notice that you have changed the subject. I take that as a concession that your John the Baptist claims are unfounded.

          I am one who argues that absence of evidence is evidence of absence though it is weak evidence. Absence of evidence where there should be evidence is a strong argument.

          The abiogenesis argument is an absence of evidence argument of the “where we should not expect evidence” with our current technology and knowledge base.

          Is your position so weak that your “go to” argument is the weakest possible type of absence of evidence argument?

        • David Schmidt

          No. I’m just pointing out that your premises regarding life are based upon beliefs also.

        • Greg G.

          The topic of the article is John the Baptist. You brought up abiogenesis out of the blue.

        • I can’t think of a definition of “belief” that’s problematic around here. I believe you’re a real person, for example.

          “Faith” is a different story. The issue is how evidence fits into the picture. My beliefs are well supported by evidence and (pay attention!) will change as the evidence changes.

          Beliefs supported by poor evidence or that won’t change in the face of new contradicting evidence aren’t beliefs worth holding.

        • MNb

          Just a couple of decades of patience – perhaps less.

          http://www.livescience.com/3214-life-created-lab.html
          http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/1996/09.12/CreatingLifeina.html
          http://www.nbcnews.com/id/20249628/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/scientists-expect-create-life-next-years/#.VQcFbrHNjIU

          Several creationists already back down. Since a few months they have higher demands: suddenly they only accept abiogenesis when observed in nature “because lab is no nature”. So you’re seriously behind even from your own crappy perspective.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          Duly noted. What is it that you want? Everyone stops investigating and leaps to your god conclusion? For all anybody knows, maybe they will find one if they keep looking. The whole planet would be thrilled I can assure you. (“No it’s my god.” “Nope it isn’t it’s my god.” “Nuh uh it’s mine I tells you.”) So what’s the problem? Scared they won’t find one? It’s duly noted, so have a nice day!

        • MNb
        • No, here’s what’s incredible. When science says that it was wrong about a particular abiogenesis hypothesis or that it has a new one or even that abiogenesis is impossible, the atheists here will go where the evidence points. But you won’t.

          My beliefs are supported by and changed by evidence. When Christianity works the same way, get back to me.

        • David Schmidt

          Your belief in fellow atheists is misplaced. Everyday experience points to a designer. The buildings we live and work in, the vehicles we use, the clothes we wear, the books we read, even the computers we use all are designed and created by a intelligent designer. We know, again based upon experience, life generates life. You cannot point to one actual event, where life came from non-life. You may argue scientists will one day do it. Yet, the funny point is that it is a scientist performing the “creation.” You don’t follow the logic, you cannot follow the logic.
          On a side note, at the moment of the Big Bang, was matter already differentiated into its elements or was matter all the same and later did the elements get separated out.

        • Since you ignored my previous comment, I assume you agree with me that atheists and Christians have different relationships with evidence.

          The buildings we live and work in, the vehicles we use, the clothes we wear, the books we read, even the computers we use all are designed and created by a intelligent designer.

          Uh, yeah. Obviously.

          We know, again based upon experience, life generates life.

          Simple philosophical platitudes get you only so far. They often fail spectacularly at the frontier of science. More here.

          You cannot point to one actual event, where life came from non-life.

          Yes, of course. So fucking what?

          You may argue scientists will one day do it. Yet, the funny point is that it is a scientist performing the “creation.” You don’t follow the logic, you cannot follow the logic.

          OK, let’s follow this terrifying logic. If scientists duplicate abiogenesis, they will have created life in the same way that life bumbled into existence. They will have duplicated the designer-less process.

          Despite your best efforts, this really ain’t hard.

          On a side note, at the moment of the Big Bang, was matter already differentiated into its elements or was matter all the same and later did the elements get separated out.

          You’re asking a question? At the moment of the Big Bang there were none of the elements we see around us. They hadn’t condensed out yet.

        • David Schmidt

          I suppose I should answer you point to point but I won’t.

          My larger point is that science has its limits. Your worldview as well as my worldview have assumptions. You assume, without any scientific proof, relying only on theory, that abiogenesis happened. I understand my starting point is an eternal God. I realize I will never convince you of it. But don’t be so sure that your starting point of “nothing” is much more believable. That is more incredible than the resurrection of the dead.

          I’ve enjoyed this conversation and maybe we will do this again.

        • Yes, science has limits. It’s also the disciplines that actually tells us stuff about reality. It’s the one with the track record.

          You assume, without any scientific proof, relying only on theory, that abiogenesis happened.

          Clumsy wording. There is no “scientific proof.”

          Science hypothesizes that abiogenesis happened. It has many clues pointing there, but who knows? Maybe they’ll conclude in a few decades that the evidence points clearly away from abiogenesis. I doubt it, given the pretty impressive evidence pointing in that direction, but that is a possibility. And if science points away from abiogenesis, I’ll go right along, as I’ve always done.

          Does all that, with all those qualifications, sound like your relationship with Christianity? Doesn’t sound like parallel situations to me.

          But don’t be so sure that your starting point of “nothing” is much more believable.

          You really need to avoid putting clumsily chosen words into someone else’s mouth. Makes you look bad.

        • MR

          The argument that a god brought everything into existence, nay, brought existence into existence, never really made much sense to me. The thought that //anything at all// should exist is pretty amazing, but to shoehorn a god in as the cause of existence doesn’t explain the existence of a god, and just complicates the problem.

        • MNb

          “But don’t be so sure that your starting point of “nothing” is much more believable.”
          1. An immaterial god starting from nothing is supposed to be more believable?
          2. Actually this depends on how you define nothing. Are quantum fields nothing or something? If the latter than the Big Bang probably didn’t start from nothing. If you are going to bring this up as an argument for god you are arguing for a god playing dice. You can’t win here.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          I’ve enjoyed this conversation and maybe we will do this again.

          Okay but I urge you think about something while you are gone. Have you ever asked yourself the most important question of all time? What do you want on your pizza? Pizza loves you. It sacrificed its anchovies!

        • adam

          ” Everyday experience points to a designer”

          Then it is a VERY poor ‘designer’:

        • MR

          The buildings we live and work in, the vehicles we use, the clothes we wear, the books we read, even the computers we use all are designed and created by man.

          You’re disingenuously underscoring things made by man for your example. Yet mountains are created by plate tectonics. Hurricanes and tornadoes are created by wind. Rain is created by moisture in the air. Black holes are created by stars imploding on themselves. Physics, chemistry…, no designer required. I see no reason to assume life needs a designer.

          On a side note, at the moment of the Big Bang, was matter already differentiated into its elements or was matter all the same and later did the elements get separated out.

          That’s some basic science. You might need to brush up a bit. Might I suggest some John Gribbin: “Almost Everyone’s Guide to Science” and “Stardust.”

        • David Schmidt

          Of course I’m pointing out that man made these items. And if one thinks about it, these items are simple compared to the complexity of life. Don’t you think it is rather surprising that physics, chemistry, gravity etc. . . . . could make something as complex as life but not something as simple as a hammer.

          Also, you are assuming the truth of your conclusion, namely that physics and chemistry and gravity created life. We NEVER have experienced this phenomenon. You believe it, without personal experience. You believe because some scientist says so. And I’m pointing out using specific examples to argue for a general point, namely man creates simple things, therefore, a designer, God, created the general — namely matter, energy and the laws associated with matter and energy. By the way, Darwin made a simpler argument in the Origin of Species — pointing out specific examples of micro-evolution and than arguing for macro-evolution.

        • Kodie

          You think tools are simple?

        • David Schmidt

          Compared to life, absolutely.

        • MNb

          How do you measure that? What’s your standard? Your underbelly?
          Or can you show this with the aid of some math? There are a few mathematicians on internet who would love to see your calculations. If you don’t provide anyone my suggestion “your underbelly” is likely to be correct.

        • Kodie

          So what process does the designer go through to create everything that man didn’t make? You need to explain how an immaterial being gathers the materials and turns them into other things.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5NlCgKUsGo

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQnzlK9YsL8

        • MR

          Of course I’m pointing out that man made these items.

          That’s all you’ve got? Eliminate man and his manmade items and you’ve lost all evidence of a designer. You’re just trying to make a god out of your own image.

          …you are assuming the truth of your conclusion, namely that physics and chemistry and gravity created life. We NEVER have experienced this phenomenon.

          Yeah, so? We’ve barely been around this universe. You ignore the vastness of time. What we know about life is that it is nothing but matter and energy. No evidence for a god, no evidence for a soul. It seems to me that you’re the one assuming the truth of your conclusion. We NEVER have experience those phenomena in spite of the claims of theists that they are daily active. We experience matter, energy, physics and chemistry every. single. day.

          Get back to me when you have some evidence, though, I might be interested then.

          (edit for emphasis)

        • David Schmidt

          Eliminate man and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The evidence of a designer is the existence of the building because common sense tells him that the building didn’t build itself. And no I’m not making a god out of my image, rather, humans are made in God’s image. Humans’ creativity, is a dim reflection of God’s creativity.

          You speak of the “vastness of time,” if that was all it took, why have physicists begun promulgating the multi-verse theory? Is it because they realize that the possibility of life is so minute even that billions of years are insufficient to bring about complexity of life as we know it and therefore more opportunities are needed — hence additional universes?

        • MR

          Eliminate man and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

          Precisely. All your examples center around man. Man didn’t spring into existence, electric drill in hand, ready to build the Dubai Tower. He started out with sticks and stones and built from there one step at a time. An evolutionary tool-making process that we can document. Building blocks of knowledge that we gained one step at a time, bit by bit, that, again, we can document. You imagine a god but provide no evidence for one. No deity is required in the process. Period. Energy, matter, ’nuff said. Absolutely no evidence for anything else. Unless you’ve got something I don’t know about?

          Science doesn’t say life comes from the multi-verse. Clearly you don’t even understand the basics of science if you have to make shit up to prove your point. Ironically, that’s precisely how my own faith began to crumble: Christians misrepresenting science. You are building on a fine tradition.

          But, then you must believe for compelling reasons. How did you come to believe and how long have you been a Christian?

        • David Schmidt

          Regarding the multi-verse theory, you are taking my comments out of context. You stated that with sufficient time the evolutionary process has brought us to this point in time. The multi-verse proponents understand the complexity of the evolutionary process are such that even with the billions of years, the probability for human life on this planet are so astronomical small that there must be
          other universes. That is their logic, not mine.

          If you believe in abiogenesis, fine. But it is more incredible to think that life developed from non-life than to think that life came from life. And to claim, as someone posted that “chemistry is life” is simple silly. Humans are more than the sum of their chemical components.

          Regarding my faith in Jesus Christ, I believe because it makes sense. I have seen individuals altered for the better because of their understanding of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them. Society and culture is influenced for the better. Orthodox Christianity makes sense out of the world in a way that other worldviews don’t. I’m sure this won’t satisfy you, I sorry.

        • Evolution is the scientific consensus. We laymen have no platform from which to criticize.

          I have seen individuals altered for the better because of their understanding of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them. Society and culture is influenced for the better.

          Sure, Christians like being Christians. I’m sure there are foot-draggers who are compelled to do good things because they’re Christian (though if you’re going there, you need to consider the bad side of the ledger as well). This is just like any other society with a dominant religious tradition. Muslims will tell you how much sense their worldview makes, and so on.

          This is hardly a compelling argument that your supernatural views are correct. Indeed, all evidence points in the other direction.

        • MNb

          “The multi-verse proponents understand the complexity of the evolutionary process are such that even with the billions of years, the probability for human life on this planet are so astronomical small that there must be other universes. That is their logic, not mine.”
          My friend, you just have shown that you neither understand what physics says about the multi-verse, nor what biochemistry says about abiogenesis nor what evolution theory says. This is so mixed up, muddled up that it’s impossible to give a sensible answer.

          “But it is more incredible to think that life developed from non-life than to think that life came from life.”
          And it’s even more incredible to think that some immaterial entity without access to material means and material procedures (or he wouldn’t be immaterial) developed life from non-life by saying the words “let there be …..”

          “And to claim, as someone posted that “chemistry is life” is simple silly.”
          Aha – you are the ultimate judge of what is silly and what is not? If no I just shrug this off.

          “Humans are more than the sum of their chemical components.”
          Prove it. Or more precise: provide evidence.
          Also thanks for showing that you reject science.

        • David Schmidt

          enlighten me about the reason for the multi-verse theory.

        • MNb

          And suddenly another christian apologist is not capable of googling.

          http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/10/28/why-we-think-theres-a-multiver/

          http://www.space.com/18811-multiple-universes-5-theories.html

          Thanks for ignoring the other points I brought up. Typically apologetics – stick your head in the sand and hope they just go away.

        • MR

          To quote MNb: My friend, you just have shown that you neither understand what physics says about the multi-verse, nor what biochemistry says about abiogenesis nor what evolution theory says. This is so mixed up, muddled up that it’s impossible to give a sensible answer. (Thank you, MNb)

          And to quote myself: Clearly you don’t even understand the basics of science if you have to make shit up to prove your point. Ironically, that’s precisely how my own faith began to crumble: Christians misrepresenting science. You are building on a fine tradition.

          MNb also gave a fine answer to your statement about life coming from non-life. To which I would just restate that everything we know about life is that it is composed of energy and matter. You have not demonstrated otherwise. Show me evidence for a soul. Show me evidence for God. I’ll be happy to follow. You could prove science wrong, but that doesn’t prove God. Science was never an issue for me as a Christian, nor was evolution. The claims of Christianity are the issue.

          No, Christianity does not make sense. You close your eyes to a whole slew of nonsensical things in order to believe Christianity. Besides, none of the reasons you give for your belief require that God exist. The same things are said by people of various religions and those of no religion. You wouldn’t believe other people’s beliefs if they used the same arguments, so, how do you make the jump that these reasons are any kind of compelling evidence?

          Let’s take some examples:

          Regarding my faith in Islam, I believe because it makes sense. I have seen individuals altered for the better because of their understanding of Mohamed’s revelations. Society and culture is influenced for the better. Orthodox Islam makes sense out of the world in a way that other worldviews don’t. I’m sure this won’t satisfy you, I sorry.

          Or:

          Regarding my faith in crystals, I believe because it makes sense. I have seen individuals altered for the better because of their belief in the healing power of crystals. Society and culture is influenced for the better. Crystallology makes sense out of the world in a way that religion don’t. I’m sure this won’t satisfy you, I sorry.

          Or:

          Regarding my faith in Hinduism, I believe because it makes sense. I have seen individuals altered for the better….

          or:

          Regarding my faith in Mormonism, I believe because it makes sense. I have seen individuals altered for the better….

          You get the point. Nothing you’ve said there provides any kind of evidence, and wouldn’t convince you in the least if someone else used the same arguments. These are some pretty piss poor reasons. You wouldn’t even convince yourself if you didn’t already believe.

          Or, maybe you’re holding out. Get back to me if you have something believable.

        • David Schmidt

          It was only in the Christian West, where alchemy became chemistry and astrology became astronomy. The Christian worldview of an ordered world is the foundational principle of science. So you are wrong when you compare other religion’s benefits to that of Christianity’s.

        • MR

          And none of that had anything to do with a god. Our understanding of those things came about because people were curious. God didn’t come down from the heavens with astronomy books with some grand revelation. People asked questions, experimented. In spite of religion. No god required. Islam made huge advancements in science and our knowledge of the world. As did the Chinese. Do you now believe their religions? Have I convinced you to shift your supernatural beliefs East? Or do you scoff at that idea, like the idea that astronomy somehow proves God?

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!

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

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

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

          My dear ignorant, western science owns a lot more to the islamic world than to christianity.

          “The Christian worldview of an ordered world is the foundational principle of science.”
          If this were correct, why did it take western Europe (with Copernicus and Tycho Brahe) 15 frigging centrues to start off the scientific revolution?
          If this were correct, why did Byzantium never managed to pull it off during 1000 years?

        • David Schmidt

          The scientific revolution happened in the Christian West and no where else. The Islamic world may have held knowledge; it didn’t do much with it — hence why they are where they are. And if you read the Quran, you will know that Allah is a capricious god. You may not like this fact of history but regardless of what you think, it remains a fact.

        • MR

          So you willfully ignore the scientific advances of the rest of the world. Not surprising from what I’ve seen, yet you still haven’t shown any evidence for your belief in a god. Your arguments are still as hollow as everyone else’s, and my point stands.

          We also have the fact, if you read the Bible, that God is just as capricious, not to mention immoral and cruel. Something that goes against what we all have been led to believe about God.

        • MNb

          Thanks for ignoring my links. Also thanks for moving the goalposts.

          “The Christian worldview of an ordered world is the foundational principle of science.”
          is not nearly the same as

          “The scientific revolution happened in the Christian West.”
          Finally thanks for not answering my two questions. The first one was why it took the christian west so long and the other one why it didn’t happen in the christian east.

          “And if you read the Quran, you will know that Allah is a capricious god. You may not like this fact of history but regardless of what you think, it remains a fact.”
          Yeah. To which I happily add:

          “And whenever you read the Bible, you should realize that YHWH is a capricious god. You may not like this fact of history but regardless of what you think, it remains a fact.”

          So finally thanks for effectively undermining your own position. Not that the latter point has anything to do with the relation religion and science.

        • MR

          Thanks for bringing up the goalposts. I hesitated.

          So finally thanks for effectively undermining your own position.

          I know you wanna giggle, I know you wanna giggle when they do that.

        • you will know that Allah is a capricious god

          And Yahweh is not? That was the lesson to Job: Yahweh does whatever the hell he likes. He destroyed the world with a flood. He killed the guy who collected sticks on the Sabbath.

          Christians fall over themselves apologizing for Yahweh’s excesses. Some will tell you that whatever he does is good by definition, if you can believe it. In other words, the label “capricious” wouldn’t even apply to a being who couldn’t be capricious by definition.

        • Pofarmer

          A lot of that stagnation is due to the rise of fundamentalist Islam stagnating the technology and learning. Neil Degrasse Tyson talks about it. It was the work of folks like Bacon(yes a Christian) that led to the advancement of the scientific method because, frankly, Christian thought with it’s dominance by Aquinas wasn’t getting it done. It wasn’t until after the Reformation and Enlightenment, and the concomitant freeing of minds from Dogma, that Science really took off. Hell, we forgot how to make CONCRETE, which the Romans knew how to use in 400 A.D. until the friggin 1850’s. That doesn’t say much for Christian scientific progress.

        • Christianity was in charge for 1000 years in Medieval Europe, and there’s not a lot to show for it–certainly not an unbridled and eager quest for the truth.

        • Pofarmer

          I guess I kind of mixed my Abrahamic religions there. You would think, looking at the utter failure of relevatory religions to produce any kind of real advancement in the human condition or technology, some of these theists would be a little more reticent.

        • Where’s your faith, my brother?! Just double down on Jesus and proceed!

        • Greek philosophy contained similar views of an ordered world long before Christianity became popular.

        • MR

          And Christianity was hugely influenced by Greek philosophy. Christians tend to ignore that be ignorant of that fact.

        • Pofarmer

          How much of Christian Philosophy was influenced by Philo of Alexandria, who was exactly trying to fit Greek Philosophical ideas into Jewish Religion and shows up in the Gospel of John?

        • MR

          In fact, Aristotle is the father of those views, with roots in Plato. 400 years before Christianity.

        • I’d trace it back even further, to the pre-Socratics.

        • MNb

          In India some smart people pulled it off at even an earlier stage.

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

        • And the Chinese. And the Egyptians. The Meso-Americans also did some impressive things without the benefit of Christianity.

          I’m starting to think that Christianity isn’t a requirement at all.

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize that a formless immaterial being is not really “life” right? As well as technically impossible.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You hold that view only because you stubbornly persist in ignoring the evidence.

        • Common sense is not the best tool to use. Common sense tells us that matter is solid but quantum physics tells us otherwise. Let’s go with the physics.

          Life is complicated but in a Rube Goldberg way. Not really the hand of a perfect designer.

        • David Schmidt

          But surely you don’t ignore common sense when it comes to walls?

        • MNb

          You still haven’t adressed the main issue:

          That designer (blessed be Him/Her?It) is supposed to be immaterial (unlike humans) and hence by definition doesn’t have the means (which are material) and procedures (which are material) available to create matter/energy.

          As long as you don’t adress this everything you bring up just hangs in the air.

          “Is it because …..”
          No. Thanks for showing that you don’t understand the scientific method.

        • Pofarmer

          Common semse is often not a very good judge. Would common sense tell you what the wind is? Would common sense tell you why it rained? Would common sense tell you how your heart worked, or even what it did? Fact of the matter is, common sense is quite often useless or worse.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Common sense is way overrated and, incidentally, not that common.

          “Common sense is not so common.” ― Voltaire, A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary

          “Common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.” ― René Descartes

          “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.” ― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

          I defer again to Dunning-Kruger with David.

        • You say that abiogenesis didn’t happen? But do you have any skin in the game? I predict that in 20 years when abiogenesis is well understood, you’ll just drop this argument and move on to something else.

          And no one cares what Darwin says. Evolution has moved beyond.

        • MNb

          “I’m pointing out using specific examples to argue for a general point, namely man creates simple things, therefore, a designer, God, created the general”
          You can change the form from a false analogy to a non-sequitur, but it remains a logical fallacy for exactly the same reason.
          That designer (blessed be Him/Her?It) is supposed to be immaterial (unlike humans) and hence by definition doesn’t have the means (which are material) and procedures (which are material) available to create matter/energy.
          The laws associated with them did not need to be created. They are merely descriptions how our material reality works.

          “complex as life but not something as simple as a hammer”
          You don’t have a way to measure complexity and simplicity but your gut feeling. If I’m mistaken you’re welcome to present it; there are some mathematicians around who will be happy to look at it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Don’t you think it is rather surprising that physics, chemistry, gravity etc. . . . . could make something as complex as life but not something as simple as a hammer.

          WTF? Seriously?

          The use of simple hammers dates to about 2,600,000 BC when various shaped stones were used to strike wood, bone, or other stones to break them apart and shape them. Stones attached to sticks with strips of leather or animal sinew were being used as hammers with handles by about 30,000 BC during the middle of the Paleolithic Stone Age.

          The hammer’s archeological record shows that it may be the oldest tool for which definite evidence exists of its early existence.

          The first hammers were rocks.

          http://www.slideshare.net/pilot_kris/evolution-of-the-hammer

        • Kodie

          A rock wasn’t a hammer until a person needed to smash something and picked up a handy rock.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Depends on what we mean by person. Stone hammers have been used by other species independently to human development. As is the case with other “tools”.

          Do animals look at rocks or sticks and think, there is a rock or stick that I could use as a tool? Or is it a case of there is something I could use to open this shellfish, nut, etc., a tool so to speak?

          “The external employment of an unattached or manipulable attached environmental object to alter more efficiently the form, position, or condition of another object, another organism, or the user itself, when the user holds and directly manipulates the tool during or prior to use and is responsible for the proper and effective orientation of the tool.

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

          In any case, it would be fair to say that tool use in all probability, predates humanity.

          My point to our intelligent designer with regards to tools and for that matter, weapons,, i.e. hammers, being “designed/created” by nature, is more widespread than he thinks. No “designer/creator” required.

          Nature did okay with this place not 40 miles up the road from where I sit now…

          http://www.hagansleisure.co.uk/media/uploads/LA_Giants_Causeway.jpg

          Mind you, some buck eejits give the credit to a giant.

          This amazing collection of basalt columns was officially discovered by the scientific world in 1694, though the Bishop of Derry apparently visited the site 2 years earlier and brought word back. The structure, so regular and ordered in appearance, led to differing theories of its formation, from (unspecified) natural occurrence to construction by (unspecified) prehistoric laborers to legends concerning its construction by Irish Giant Finn McCool (hence the name) as a bridge to Scotland. In fact, it is now well-established that it is volcanic in nature.

          That’s what our ID friend can’t grasp.

        • Kodie

          I thought over the wording for a while and just decided to leave it. What I think you got out of it anyway was that a thing from nature is not designed to be a tool, it just happens to meet the need, as well as the mind thinking to try to use it as such. So the great mind in the sky did not think of it for us, and as soon as we got around to it, we did better. That’s what we do. That means that a butter knife is a screwdriver if’n you have use for it to drive screws, although every man will tell you that you ought to have the “proper” tools. Just because screws are abundantly in use to fasten two pieces of wood or metal together doesn’t mean it’s simple to innovate that technology in the first place, but we’re still tool-using innovators, looking around for that rock or butter knife if nothing else is available to perform the task.

        • David Schmidt

          Right; they were rocks NOT hammers. Nice try. You are too smart by half.

        • Kodie

          Nor were rocks designed to be hammers until intelligent life put it to use. You never explain how your designer designs or makes things that are only useful until intelligent humans innovate and improve the design and features? If we were created in god’s image, all the rocks would be shaped like hammers.

          Actually, why would we need hammers.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Learn stats and the conditions of the early universe, much less the early solar system…it’s statistically wildly improbable that life WOULDN’T have formed. It probably did and was snuffed out multiple times before conditions allowed it to flourish.

        • David Schmidt

          I know stats well enough. I also have experience. And I have never seen nor heard of abiogenesis actually occurring. There is mere theory and no proof.

        • Greg G.

          There are hypotheses but not theory in the scientific sense of the word. If you are using “theoty” in the common usage of the word, you are wrong.

          There is life in a universe that was sterile. That is proof that abiogenesis happened.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Spoiiing!

          Have you ever seen or heard a god-doing-it? Nah, a didn’t think so.

          There is mere theory and no proof.

          There is mere hypotheses and evidence you mean. The god-did-it hypothesis has no working out and no supporting evidence. Not so with the abiogenesis hypotheses, some of which are quite detailed. But then you know nothing, so your ignorant remarks are quite understandable.

          A god-did-it is a far more satisfying explanation to the simple minded, ignorant, or gullible. It takes less thinking about. An explanation by the way, that has never, EVER, actually been the right one for anything investigated by science and far better explained. A god-did-it just gets shoved further back, or into smaller gaps.

        • David Schmidt

          Actually by analogy I have. I leave home early in the morning and return late at night. On my way home, I notice a partially built building that wasn’t there when I left. I know from experience, that the partially built building didn’t just materialize. Workers worked on the building. It is common sense, not some crazy faith in randomness.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You believe because some scientist says so.

          Feck me sideways…an IDer talking pish, who’d have thought it?

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, you don’t have much grounds here if you don’t even have a basic idea of how heavier elements came about. There is no real conversation if you don’t have that tiny bit of scientific literacy, all you can do is stamp your feet and throw a tantrum about philosophy.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Dude, *macro*-evolution has also been shown in the lab…all macro means, in your case, is new populations that are no longer mutually fertile…and that’s been DONE, time and time again.

        • MNb

          “The buildings we live and work in”
          False analogy. Those intelligent designers you’re talking about are all material (made from flesh and blood), use material means and follow material procedures. Your god is supposed to be immaterial. As such those material means and material procedures aren’t available to him/her/it.

          “You cannot point to one actual event, where life came from non-life.”
          Unnecessary – it was a gradual process.

          “the funny point is that it is a scientist performing the “creation.””
          Repeating your false analogy doesn’t anything to correct it. See above.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. For people with the openness to see it, everyday experience points to evolution and LARGE numbers.

        • Ignorant Amos

          His argument fails due to the homunculus fallacy.

          His ignorance of the quantum world too, but mostly infinite regress.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It’s been demonstrated in the lab, repeatedly, that amino acids form..and given time, they combine and form life

          Show me an experiment for your myth that’s testable and falsifiable.

        • Lots of little pieces have been shown to happen, but I don’t believe that the entire process (inanimate chemicals to something evolution can work on) has been shown.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are some decent working hypotheses out there though…better than the some god-did-it.

          That of Dr. Jack Szostak for example…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

          Here’s a presentation by Neil DeGrasse Tyson…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTCoKlB0s4Y

        • Helpful, thanks.

        • Scott_In_OH

          Of course, if you think about it, fetuses “leap for joy” (i.e., move around in the uterus) all the time. It just doesn’t mean anything like “Whatever is close by is probably the Son of God.”

        • MR

          Pregnancies seem to come with all kinds of superstitious baggage. Every little thing is analyzed for some kind of meaning, oof. I remember before sonograms they used to tie a needle to a thread and try to determine the sex of the baby by what direction the needle spun.

        • Ron

          Sure. But apologists excuse John (the prophet who supposedly met the living Jesus and witnessed countless miracles) for having doubts while simultaneously accusing skeptics (now 2000 years removed from those alleged events) of being totally unreasonable for expressing similar doubts.

          Why the double standard?

        • wtfwjtd

          If John wasn’t convinced, a guy who obviously wanted to believe very badly, the “miracles” and “teaching” of Jesus must have been pretty underwhelming.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe the voice from heaven was a high-pitched voice, like Howdy Doody, and the descending dove doodied on his head. Those might weaken your confidence.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Jonathan Livingston Seagull was here”

          (bird droppings everywhere)

        • RichardSRussell

          What we know about human nature from a recent study of 9/11 memories at 1-, 3-, and 10-year intervals is that people’s recollections change over time, and the more time goes by, the more firmly they become convinced that whatever they remember (whether it happens to be accurate or not) was what really happened. So the “human nature” you cite actually shows that people become less doubtful over time, not more.

    • Cognissive Disco Dance

      What to do if you think Jesus is the Messiah and then you have doubts? Send some people to go and ask Jesus if he is the Messiah. If he says yes, then he is the Messiah! If he says no then he isn’t the Messiah! Pretty simple! He forgot to tell them to ask Jesus to bust him out of jail though. Whoops forgot!

    • “Hey guys, I need you to go check out this Jesus guy. I’m not sure whether he’s really the Messiah or not.

      Yes, that’s Jesus my cousin.

      Yes, the one where my aunt gave birth while still a virgin.

      Yeah, that is the same guy who I baptised. Voice from heaven, ‘you are my son’, all that business. The guy who I specifically said was the Son of God when I met him.

      Anyway, I’m not sure if he’s the real deal. Go and find out.”

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Consistency isn’t very important to you, is it?

  • FWIW the standard schtick on John the Baptist is that he probably did exist and baptized Jesus (because the early Jesus movement would not have mentioned this if it did not actually happen, as it puts Jesus in a secondary role, so it meets the “inconvenience” or “embarrassment” criterion of authenticity). The gospels, as one followed another, progressively downplayed John’s role, just as you would expect from this reasoning.

    So, basically, most scholars suggest that the later accounts were designed to tone down the authority of John the Baptist aka Baptizer (the now-preferred term) and to play up the importance of Jesus in the story.

    The grain of truth is that apocalyptic expectations ran high in those days, as shown by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Both John the Baptizer and Jesus probably existed as itinerant apocalyptic preachers, fully expecting the climax of history to come soon (as so many others have throughout history).

    The really interesting thing about early Christianity (IMHO) is what Jesus said to DO about it (love, compassion, etc). We all face our end times, after all, and we all have to decide what to do about it. The response of the Dead Sea Scrolls community was to demand absolute compliance with a complex law system aimed at “purity,” under penality of exclusion and banishment and damning all who disagreed. The response of Jesus to the same end-of-time expectation was totally different: inclusion of the formerly excluded, forgiveness, love.

    Not that fundamentalists and evangelicals are interested in such an approach. To figure out what a historical Jesus might have said, you have to engage with the scholarship, like the original Jesus Seminar did, to locate the earliest and most likely authentic teachings. Evangelicals are typically unwilling to do this. They quote the Gospel of John as if it is a transcript.

    • Greg G.

      In Mark’s world, Jesus was just a regular guy who got baptized and it was like being a store’s One Millionth Customer with spirits descending and voices over the galactic intercom praising him to high heavens. Jesus needed to be baptized for the remission of sins.

      When the other gospels had Jesus being special from conception and a pre-existent being, then the baptism account became bizarre and embarrassing. The other gospels had to play it down. Matthew has John ask permission. The Gospel of John has John talk about what he saw but he never mentions actually performing the baptism. Luke conveniently moves the account of John’s arrest from Mark 6 to immediately before the verse that says Jesus was baptized, making it ambiguous.

      When we see in the Josephus account of JtB that it specifically says John’s baptism was not for the remission of sins, we should suspect that it could be an interpolation during the time the other gospels were being written.Then look at the internal evidence like John being sent to Macherus by Herod but the previous verse paragraph says that place was under control of Aretas. The forger wasn’t reading carefully enough. I mention other clues for this elsewhere in this comment section.

      When Mark made up a character, he often based it on a character from a non-Christian writing and added some OT flavoring. Legion is based on Polyphemus, the Cyclops seasoned with descriptions from Isaiah 65:4 and Psalm 107:10. Bartimaeus is like Tiresias, the blind seer from the Odyssey and the name is from Timaeus in Plato’s writings influenced by Isaiah 35:3-8.

      You don’t see that with Pilate, an actual historical person.

      His John the Baptist character comes from the Sumerian god “Enki”, also known as “Oannes”, who was half fish and taught humans about civilization during the day and swam at night. The name transliterates to Greek as Ioannes, and to English as John. It would also transliterate to English through Hebrew as Jonah. Mark does a little reversal, making his John reject civilization and bring people into the water to make him fit Malachi 3:1, Exodus 23:20, Leviticus 11:21, 2 Kings 1:8, and Zechariah 13:4.

      I expect the baptism ritual was a real thing in various religious rites.

      • Yes, ritual bathing goes back centuries, and Jews of the time had mikhvahs (ritual baths) so that’s not a problem. Borrowing characters and references from the OT was absolutely pervasive, so I also have no trouble with the idea of people claiming they were living out OT prophesy…supposedly over 30 messiah claimants were put to death by the Romans. Equating John with Enki is a stretch… do you have a citation for that by any chance? I guess I could google “Enki”…

        • Greg G.

          Here’s the results of a search on “enki oannes john baptist” without the quotation marks:

          https://www.google.com/search?q=enki+oannes+john+baptist

        • Interesting! Here is the concluding paragraph from the mythologyjournal site, 6th on the list, the first I visited:

          “Despite these mythic associations, the scholarly consensus is that both Jesus and John were historical figures. New Testament historians recognize that tension existed between the ministries of both Jesus and John, later threatening to undermine Jesus’ prominence over John. If the Gospel accounts are fictitious then such tension would be difficult to explain. Also, why would Jesus need to be baptised by John? This was also a problem for early Christians. John’s baptism was for sinners. So, if Jesus wasn’t actually baptised it wouldn’t make much sense to invent it. The only other option would be to assume a mythical proto-tradition that had two co-equal figures (such as Graves’s ‘tanists’). I’m not ruling the possibility out.”

          That seems reasonable. Because ritual bathing was embedded in Jewish culture of the time, it seems natural that an apocalyptic prophet, warning people to repent because the end was near (!), would use bathing as a symbol of coming clean and getting right with God. I also find the “historical-critical method” logic compelling on this one. J the B would not have been part of the story, if the story was being written by people around 90 A.D. It is too inconvenient, as shown by the way the later gospel writers felt compelled to modify it.

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    I guess it’s possible John may have been goading Jesus into actually doing the messiah thing. He wasn’t doing the messiah thing like the Jews thought he would do. Sadly they got their own religion wrong and they didn’t know how to read the Bible just like a lot of atheists. So maybe John’s question was a rhetorical “WTF Jesus? We gonna do this thing or not?” But Jesus should have explained to John that he would be back a few thousand years later and finish the job. If it was texting it should have gone like:

    John: “WTF Jesus?”
    Jesus: “brb”

    • Sophia Sadek

      A significant segment of the Jewish population expected that the Messiah would be a Jewish Caesar. A Jewish Socrates was the last thing they would consider to be regal.

  • Sophia Sadek

    Another way to look at the gospels is as documents of sects competing for members. The competition between John and Jesus for students may have played a role in how John was portrayed by the students of Jesus.

  • R Vogel

    The baptism story is an interesting look into the evolution of the story though. In the oldest gospel Jesus just gets baptized and then seems to have some sort of vision, in Luke that vision is expanded to everyone and the dove becomes real, then in Matthew the whole refusal is added. Clearly John’s odd question is leftover from an earlier version of the story where he wasn’t quite so sure of things….

    • Pofarmer

      Oh cmon, evolving stories are perfect signs of history.

      • wtfwjtd

        Oh sure, in law enforcement they teach that you can always tell when someone is telling the truth because their story changes each time they tell it. Wait a minute, something don’t sound quite right here…

  • I love when people nail bible stories like this to the wall where people can see them clearly for what they are. The Bible readily manipulates the story of Jesus on many fronts for the purpose of theater. What greater theater is there, than to have John the Baptist ask this question and then have his head chopped off and served on a platter? It’s pathetic how literalists love to wield the “letter of the law” when it fits their purposes and ignore truths like these when confronted by them. Nice work.

  • Scott Davidson

    Bob, what kind of Messiah were the Jews expecting?

    • MNb

      A warrior king who would kick out the Romans. Matth. 8:28-34 makes that clear. The story also shows that Jesus’ love didn’t extend to the honourable and noble species of Sus Scrofa Domesticus. That’s a stark contrast with Buddha and even with Franciscus of Assisi.
      No, Jesus was not the perfect embodiment of love.

      • Scott Davidson

        If you feel the need to mock Jesus then that is up to you but I do give you warning that unless you repent of your sin you are subject to God’s wrath after His patience with you ceases. I am guessing perhaps at one time you claimed you were a Christian, am I right?

        • Kodie

          That’s just like telling us Santa is only going to put coal in our stocking because we’re bad boys and girls.

        • Scott Davidson

          A crude analogy but if that is one you want to use you can.

        • MNb

          You threatening me with divine wrath makes exactly as little sense. I grew over it many decades ago.

        • Kodie

          That’s just how silly you are to threaten us with your imaginary friend.

        • Pofarmer

          Mocking Jesus is cathartic, you should try it.

        • MNb

          Boooooohhh – now I’m scared! Scott D is calling for his imaginary father the bully to teach naughty atheist MNb a lesson! And I wasn’t even mocking yet – I talked about a story from your favourite Holy Book.

          “I am guessing perhaps at one time you claimed you were a Christian, am I right?”
          No. I haven’t even been baptized. Thanks, parents.
          I was lost for christianity forever almost 40 years ago, when I was a young teen. Would you want to know why? You’re not going to like the answer.

        • I would like to know. (I think..?)

        • MNb

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

          In that time dictator Pinochet, a devout catholic, was a hot issue. Folks from Youth for Christ (they were about 17) told me he would go to Heaven fine if he confessed and repented and his victims not. It was and is impossible for me to combine this with a just and righteous god.

        • Kinda undercuts your claim that Yahweh is the omniscient, omni-benevolent creator of the universe if he gets petulant if we don’t worship him correctly.

          Would you demand worship if you built a robot with human intelligence?

        • adam

          Demonstrate that YOUR ‘god’ is not imaginary and that your THREAT is real…..

          otherwise you just look childish and foolish.

        • Cognissive Disco Dance

          If you feel the need to mock Jesus then that is up to you but I do give you warning that unless you repent of your sin you are subject to God’s wrath after His patience with you ceases.

          Why would he have patience if he already knows. Let me guess, he already knows when his patience is going to cease lol.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          why not mock nonsense with nothing to support it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or why not just mock nonsense?

          Particularly when it is harmful nonsense.

        • Greg G.

          The ridiculous deserves ridicule.

    • Ignorant Amos

      Depends who ya ask and when?

      The word “mashiach” does not mean “savior.” The notion of an innocent, divine or semi-divine being who will sacrifice himself to save us from the consequences of our own sins is a purely Christian concept that has no basis in Jewish thought. Unfortunately, this Christian concept has become so deeply ingrained in the English word “messiah” that this English word can no longer be used to refer to the Jewish concept. The word “mashiach” will be used throughout this page.

      http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm

      The most startling feature of this new book is that in it Ehrman has now completely reversed a position he took against me in Did Jesus Exist (as is well known, I published a detailed critique of that awful book). He now admits that from the very earliest recorded history, indeed even earlier than that, even possibly their very first year, Christians regarded Jesus as a pre-existent divine being. That this was not a later development first encountered in the Gospel of John, for example. “The idea that Jesus is God is not an invention of modern times…it was the view of the very earliest Christians soon after Jesus’s death” (p. 3). Because, “soon after Jesus’s death, the belief in his resurrection led some of his followers to say he was God” (p. 83). Ehrman concludes that at least “some Christians were saying that Jesus was a preexistent being (a ‘later’ view) even before Paul began to write in the 50s–well before our earliest gospel was written” (p. 235), in fact, he admits, “it must have been remarkably early in the Christian tradition,” because “it was in place well before Paul’s letters” and thus did not originate in the time of the gospel of John as has commonly been insisted (p. 276).

      And on that point he is right. I have been making this argument for years. I saw the evidence and scholarship proving this even before I wrote Not the Impossible Faith. Now he has looked at all of that, too, and come to the same conclusion. Ehrman also very carefully demarcates a variety of distinctions crucial to this realization, which is one of the best contributions this book makes to the field: Ehrman shows that there was no binary dichotomy of either God or human, but that in fact a whole continuum existed between them, even in Jewish conception. Indeed, far from being unusual, the Jews already believed “divine beings (such as angels) could become human” (p. 5) and that there were many other degrees of divinity between man and God.

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/6923#more-6923

      Whatever kind of Messiah the Jews perceived was coming, the Jesus of myth is the one that came into the frame and was promoted.

      At least one Jew worked with it, and probably some more. Was Paul the Joseph Smith or Muhammad of his day, or was it someone else and Paul seconded the theme, who knows, perhaps we will never know, but the messiah/saviour of Christianity was called Yeshua.

      • Scott Davidson

        I will stick with what God’s word says and God tells us that Jesus is the Messiah sent by the Father to destroy the works of the devil and die for the sins of mankind. Thanks for the links.

        • Pofarmer

          Uh huh. Why doesn’t your all powerful God just do away with the Devil all ready? And if Jesus died for the sins of mankind, why didn’t it alleviate the consequences of the son of Adam, which is kind of the old idea.

        • Satan has read Revelation. He knows what’s going to happen.

          Why would he participate in the charade? It’s almost like the whole thing isn’t a real prophecy for our day.

        • Maybe he’s just as confused about it as the Christians, since they can’t seem to settle on what it all means.

          It’s almost like there wasn’t a divine guiding intelligence behind it.

        • adam

          “It’s almost like there wasn’t a divine guiding intelligence behind it. “

        • David Schmidt

          Because like you, Satan doesn’t want to believe. Satan is hoping for a different end.

        • Greg G.

          Satan must believe. He has first hand evidence, if the Bible was true.

        • David Schmidt

          No. Belief and Truth are distinct. One can have evidence of truth and not believe it. Happens all the time. Just go to criminal court. You will see plenty of individuals deny truth even when it is staring them in their face. Pride, specifically, and sin in general blind people. This includes Satan.

        • Greg G.

          I think you are the one who is blurring belief with truth.

          One must consider the evidence in context.

          How do you determine truth? We can know some things by deduction but we need induction to be able to apply deduction to the world we exist in.

          Your pride seems to come from your faith in ancient texts written by grifters who wondered where the sun went at night.

          Many Christians believe the serpent in the Garden of Eden was actually Satan masquerading as a serpent. If so, why were serpents punished and not Satan? If God was fooled there, how do you know Satan won’t trick God into punishing you for Satan’s own sins? Maybe every sin committed by Satan was performed wearing either a serpent costume or a David Schmidt mask.

        • adam

          ” Pride, specifically, and sin in general blind people. ”

          You mean like it did for bible ‘god’ against Job?

        • adam

          “Because like you, Satan doesn’t want to believe. Satan is hoping for a different end.”

        • wtfwjtd

          If he died for the sins of mankind, what’s there to worry about? Problem solved!
          It looks like he’s still having a devil of a time with the devil, though. Maybe that part was a little too ambitious for him.

        • MNb

          Of course. You’re hopelessly stuck. And if god’s word says something that contradicts science you don’t enjoy science anymore.

          “to destroy the works of the devil”

          So you believe in two gods – a good and a bad one.

        • Dys

          Bible says it, you believe it, that settles it. I always find it hilarious that apologists accuse atheists of being close-minded, when they’re almost always far more guilty of it themselves.

        • Greg G.

          Or is it “Scott said it, God believes it, that settles it”?

        • Kodie

          So you should just donate your brain to research and go to heaven as soon as possible. You have fallen for the traps of religion to agree to become a pawn and so useless to reality.

        • Greg G.

          So you should just donate your brain to research and go to heaven as soon as possible.

          Research is contesting the will.

        • IDogITrust

          Two snaps up in a Z formation!

        • adam

          what ‘God’s’ word says

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do ya know it is God’s word?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’ll stick with your book.

          I’ll need evidence before accepting any supernatural claims.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The thing is, his book of alleged God words doesn’t even say what he thinks it does. If he knew the earliest of the cult’s writings, the Pauline corpus, he’d know that.

      • David Schmidt

        St. Paul, being Jewish and a Pharisee, was deeply knowledgeable about Jewish thought and knew more about the Old Testament then most. He had no problem proclaiming Jesus as the Christ or if you will the Messiah. He wrote frequently to Jews of the first century claiming Jesus as their Messiah referring to Scriptures.

        • Greg G.

          Right. Paul just loves talking about Jesus. He uses “Jesus”, “Christ”, “Christ Jesus”, and “Jesus Christ” 300 times in less than 1500 verses in Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philippians in praise and adulation, yet everything Paul tells us about him can be found in the Old Testament. He says nothing about a first century Jesus that he never met.

          PS: All the other early epistles are the same. Nothing about a preacher or teacher. They only refer to Jesus in OT terms.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly. Paul only talks of his knowledge of Christ being through scripture and revelation/dreams. A bit odd don’t ya think?

          He doesn’t know the Jesus described in the gospels. He never refers to a geezer that was born in Bethlehem, roamed around Galilee with a group of lads teaching scripture, miracle working, getting into bother, wrecking the Temple, getting arrested, tried by fellow Jews, put to death by the Romans, etc., etc., none of it. All that stuff comes in stories at least a generation after the alleged facts.

        • Greg G.

          Paul also tells us that he is not inferior to the super-apostles in knowledge and that he didn’t get his knowledge from humans, specifically not from Cephas and James, so he doesn’t think they know about Jesus except from scripture, too.

    • One answer: no messiah.

      I’ll be interested to see your Old Testament verses that support your answer, because one source (I haven’t researched this thoroughly, BTW) says that the whole messiah thing is simply modern Christians reading that back into the Scriptures.

    • Greg G.

      They were expecting Julius Caesar, not Sathya Sai Baba.

      • A world-conquering general? Not a side-show magician with an afro?

        OK, if you say so.