Christians: Can ANYTHING Change Your Mind?

Christians: Can ANYTHING Change Your Mind? December 18, 2015

unfalsifiable hypothesis

In a recent post, I called Christianity “The Ultimate Unfalsifiable Hypothesis.” I am bothered by the worldview held by many Christians in which good things are evidence that God exists, and bad things are also evidence that God exists. This impervious-to-reality God belief can’t lose, but it isn’t realistic. It’s merely insulation from reality.

Christians who want to willfully reject evidence can certainly do so, but they have no grounds to pretend to be following the evidence where it leads. Let’s consider some examples.

Evidence Against Prayer

Imagine a prayer experiment that showed no effectiveness. But we needn’t imagine this; such a test has been conducted. The 2006 STEP experiment, often known as the Templeton Study because of the foundation that funded it, was “by far the most comprehensive and rigorous investigation of third-party prayer to date” (source). It found no value to prayer.

Have any Christians turned away from faith because of this study? I doubt it. They’ll say that you can’t test God or that God isn’t like a genie who answers to your command. They’ll say that using science to study religion is like using a hammer to carve a turkey—it’s simply not the right tool.

But if a prayer study had shown a benefit, you can be sure that Christians would be all over that, citing it as important evidence that everyone must consider.

Mother Teresa’s story is an excellent personal example of the results of prayer. As a young woman, she had an ecstatic vision of Jesus charging her to care for the poor. Surely she would’ve said that this was evidence for the existence of God and Jesus. But then mustn’t we also take seriously the absence of evidence and consider what that means? Her life was colored far more by the agony of ignored prayers than the ecstasy of visions. Late in life she wrote, “the silence and the emptiness is so great” and “I have no Faith … [the thoughts in my heart] make me suffer untold agony.”

Accepting positive evidence for prayer and ignoring any negative evidence is no honest search for the truth.

Pat Robertson publicly prayed that the 2003 hurricane Isabel wouldn’t hit the Virginia Beach area where his Christian Broadcasting Network is based. He demanded:

In the name of Jesus, we reach out our hand in faith and we command that storm to cease its forward motion to the north and to turn and to go out into the sea.

Here’s a photo of Isabel making landfall just south of Robertson’s 700 Club headquarters. It was that season’s costliest and deadliest. Oops.

How did Robertson explain the failure to the faithful? My guess is that it wasn’t too hard to dismiss unwelcome evidence to a flock that doesn’t care much about evidence. Where else can you fail this badly and come out looking good?

Evidence Against Divine Inspiration

A Mormon example of selective consideration of evidence is Joseph Smith’s translation of an Egyptian papyrus he called the “Book of Abraham,” which has become part of Mormon canon. Modern evaluation has shown Smith’s “translation” to be nonsense, but did that sink Mormonism? Of course not—it’s not based on evidence!

When presented with plausible natural explanations for sensations of God’s presence, some people prefer to cling to the imaginary. One epileptic patient wouldn’t take meds because it would destroy her link to God. She said, “If God chooses to speak through a disease to me, that’s fine.”

Evidence Against Prediction

A religious leader’s specific prediction is a great way to put religion into the domain of science. You’d think that if the prediction doesn’t come to pass, the followers would realize that the entire thing was a sham.

But no—when the prediction doesn’t happen, a little song and dance can restore the leader’s credibility with at least some of his followers. The Millerites’ Great Disappointment of 1844 is an example. Determined post-Disappointment believers morphed into several groups, including one that became the Seventh Day Adventist church (which itself has made a number of failed end-of-the-world predictions).

More recent participants in the Guess the End of the World contest, which has been ongoing for 2000 years, include Hal Lindsey, who predicted the end in 1988. More recently, Harold Camping was wrong about his highly publicized prediction of the Rapture on May 21, 2011 and the end of the world five months later.

Even after the complete failure of his “prediction,” he rationalized that it was all God’s will, but what about his followers? How many concluded that Camping was totally wrong, that they were fools for being duped, and that they should’ve seen through his charade from the beginning?

The biggest failed prediction is the one that the end of the world was at hand that’s been in the gospel accounts all the time:

This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Matthew 24:34).

I’ve already deflated three of the most popular predictions (the virgin birthIsaiah 53, and Psalm 22).

The Ultimate Falsifying Evidence?

Imagine that historians discovered an ossuary (bone box) from roughly 30 CE that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph, born in Bethlehem and crucified in Jerusalem” and, after much study and debate, the relevant scholars reached a consensus that it was as convincing as any Jesus evidence. Given this compelling evidence of an un-risen Jesus, would all Christians discard their belief? William Lane Craig has made clear that he would not, and I’m sure that many or most would side with him. Rationalizations abound, such as the Justin Martyr gambit: argue that the devil planted false evidence to deceive us.

Remember Poe’s Law: without some obvious wink that you’re joking, you can’t create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing. A Christianity where Jesus actually died? Not a problem!

Christianity has weathered Galileo, evolution, and the 14-billion-year-old universe. It shrugs off the Problem of Evil and the Bible’s sanction of slavery and genocide. What negative evidence could sink Christianity? Probably not even clear evidence that Jesus was just a myth. A religion operating on faith after the generation of the founders is like an arch that stays up after the scaffolding is removed.

Christianity is the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who said, after Arthur chopped his arm off, “ ’Tis but a scratch.” It’s the Teflon religion.

Before you say something is out of this world,
make sure it isn’t of this world.
— Michael Shermer

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2/7/13.)

Image credit: Joe Loong, flickr, CC

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  • Raging Bee

    …They’ll say that you can’t test God or that God isn’t like a genie who answers to your command.

    Except, of course, for all the times they swear he does.

    • tsig

      They will simultaneously cite answered prayers as proof of god while claiming god won’t answer prayers.

    • Greg G.

      How did people find their lost car keys before Jesus came?

  • Kevin K

    Isabel making landfall just south of Robertson’s 700 Club headquarters. It was that season’s costliest and deadliest.

    …except Robertson and his followers used that as evidence that prayer WAS effective. Apparently, according to them, the hurricane was knocked off course so it did not directly hit their headquarters.

    Yet another “miracle of incomplete devastation”.

    • Raging Bee

      So “al Qaeda Pat” did a Ben Carson, and protected himself by begging his vengeful God to destroy someone else’s homes instead.

      • Kevin K

        Yep. Pretty much.

        • Shadowbelle

          Jews believe that praying for your own welfare shouldn’t divert evil to someone else. For example, if you are near home and hear a fire engine coming your way, you shouldn’t pray that your house isn’t burning down. That would mean you’d be praying that someone else’s house was burning down.

        • Kevin K

          Sounds eminently sensible…and so therefore beyond the realm of comprehension of the Pat Robertson wing of Christianity.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m not surprised. Christian charity is “Hey look, God, I’m doing good to score points with you.” Jewish charity focuses on giving relief to the afflicted.

      • tsig

        As long as it’s non-Christian homes it’s all good.

      • adam
    • Greg G.

      “miracle of incomplete devastation”

      The Phrase of the Day!

    • Greg G.

      In 2011, there was an earthquake in late August with the epicenter very near Pat, followed by Hurricane Irene, the first hurricane to make landfall on the US in three years, just a few days later.

      He still didn’t get the message.

    • tsig

      Why was god sending a hurricane at him to begin with?

  • Raging Bee

    Rationalizations abound, such as the Justin Martyr gambit: argue that the devil planted false evidence to deceive us.

    I’d be careful with that if I was them. Once you admit that your all-powerful God would knowingly allow false evidence to be planted in his creation, then NOTHING IN THIS UNIVERSE can be trusted, including our own sensory information and even the Bible itself.

    • Good one. But then some young-earth Creationists say that the red-shifted light from distant galaxies was placed there en route when God made the world 6000 years ago as a test of faith. The entire world becomes fun house mirrors.

      • tsig

        God becomes a Cosmic Jokester.

        • The Trickster is yet another popular religious trope. Loki in Norse mythology, the coyote in Native American lore, etc.

          The Bible celebrates the second-born (that is, unprivileged) of the world like Jacob who trick their way through life.

          But if the guy in charge of our world is so slippery, it makes you wonder if our guy is the good one or the bad one.

        • Thought2Much

          Which brings us to Good Guy Lucifer memes!

    • Greg G.

      We wouldn’t be able to trust our own memory. We could have been created with false memories last Tuesday… or was it Thursday… I forget which.

      • tsig

        It was Last Tuesday, Thursday is heretical.

        • Greg G.

          I always get those two mixed up… Wait, no that was the first time I ever actually mixed them up.

    • tsig

      Satan writing the bible to confuse mankind makes much more sense than a loving god writing such nonsense.

  • SteveK

    >> I am bothered by the worldview held by many Christians in which good things are evidence that God exists, and bad things are also evidence that God exists.

    The reason you’re bothered is because you are critiquing a Christian worldview from the perspective of a non-Christian worldview. I’m not surprised that you’re bothered.

    >> It shrugs off the Problem of Evil

    Really? The entire message from cover to cover is about dealing with the problem God’s way. I think the problem here is you would like God to deal with it your way. True?

    • The reason you’re bothered is because you are critiquing a Christian worldview from the perspective of a non-Christian worldview. I’m not surprised that you’re bothered.

      And the Christian is totally OK with their belief being unfalsifiable? Speak for yourself, but I think you sell your fellow believers short. Surely some have some intellectual responsibility.

      The entire message from cover to cover is about dealing with the problem God’s way. I think the problem here is you would like God to deal with it your way. True?

      True. The buck stops here. You bring me a claim, and I must evaluate it. If it’s an important belief that I’m bound to hold, I’d prefer to evaluate it myself. When Christianity’s decrepit claims fall under their own weight, I won’t accept them.

      As an aside, I’m mulling over a post that discusses other flavors of Christianity (Marcionites, Gnostics, etc.) and how they deal with the Problem of Evil. In short, they deal with it by not having one.

      I personally think that the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is worse for Christianity, but the PoE is a biggie.

      • SteveK

        >> And the Christian is totally OK with their belief being unfalsifiable?

        In the scientific sense of the word? Of course I’m okay with that.

        >> True. The buck stops here.

        Then you’ve created your own problem. There is a solution.

        >> When Christianity’s decrepit claims fall under their own weight, I won’t accept them.

        It doesn’t fall under it’s own weight. The existence of evil is explained and so is God’s plan to deal with it.

        >> I personally think that the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is worse for Christianity

        It’s a problem because the buck stops with you, right?

        • ”And the Christian is totally OK with their belief being unfalsifiable?”

          In the scientific sense of the word? Of course I’m okay with that.

          I’m a little surprised, but thanks for owning that.

          ”The buck stops here.”

          Then you’ve created your own problem. There is a solution.

          Solution? I can’t even see the problem.

          It doesn’t fall under it’s own weight. The existence of evil is explained and so is God’s plan to deal with it.

          Do you even understand my point? The other Christianities don’t even have a problem of evil. Atheism doesn’t either. No, the PoE isn’t explained, though I’ll admit that Christians do a helluva lot of tap dancing to divert attention or imagine that it all makes sense.

          “I personally think that the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is worse for Christianity”

          It’s a problem because the buck stops with you, right?

          I don’t follow. The Problem of Divine Hiddenness is a big problem for the Christian, not the atheist. The atheist has no difficult things to explain, while the Christian does.

        • MR

          Do you even understand my point?

          No, Bob. He doesn’t. He takes great pains not to. You want to see tap dancing? Ask him to repeat your own argument back to you to see if he can coherently describe it. THEN you’ll see tap dancing!!

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          So SteveK is trolling. Let’s put him in the “troll” category and treat him as such.

        • SteveK

          >> Solution? I can’t even see the problem.

          The problem: your demand that God do it your way.

          >> The other Christianities don’t even have a problem of evil.

          What does the text say? Does it talk about sin as if it’s a problem that requires a solution?

          >> The Problem of Divine Hiddenness is a big problem for the Christian, not the atheist.

          At the individual level it can be a problem for one reason or another, yes. But you said it was a problem for Christianity. No.

        • “Solution? I can’t even see the problem.”

          The problem: your demand that God do it your way.

          Wrong again.

          What “God”?? We haven’t established God’s existence yet! That’s what this whole project is trying to do.

          Here’s the situation: Christianity (or anyone) makes a claim, and then I evaluate it. That’s always the first step. I can go out for help to understand the issue, of course, but in the end, the buck stops here. God’s relationship with evil is just one of many problems that Christianity can’t surmount; therefore, I reject the Christian claims. Make more sensible claims, and maybe I’ll change my mind.

          “The other Christianities don’t even have a problem of evil.”

          What does the text say? Does it talk about sin as if it’s a problem that requires a solution?

          Maybe they do, but they have no Problem of Evil. This is a problem that Christianity’s bizarre claims perhaps uniquely have created.

          At the individual level [the Problem of Divine Hiddenness] can be a problem for one reason or another, yes. But you said it was a problem for Christianity. No.

          It sure looks like a problem to me. But you think I’m missing something? OK—straighten me out then. Why is the PoDH not a problem for Christianity?

          And note that I’m looking for something besides, “God is a billion times smarter than you, so just because you don’t understand his actions doesn’t mean he doesn’t have danged good reasons.” I agree with that, but that’s yet another excuse to avoid confronting the evidence.

        • SteveK

          >> Wrong again. What “God”??

          You accepted my statement and the problem. Don’t try to pretend otherwise. Here’s the exchange we just had.

          Me: I think the problem here is you would like God to deal with it your way. True?

          Bob: True.

          >> It sure looks like a problem to me. But you think I’m missing something? OK—straighten me out then. Why is the PoDH not a problem for Christianity?

          How can I straighten you out when you already know the answer. Are you pretending to know this, Bob?

        • You accepted my statement and the problem. Don’t try to pretend otherwise.

          Sure, as a hypothetical. We can also discuss the hypothetical itself.

          You said, “your demand that God do it your way.” That is, you assume God first and then see what issues this raises. No one who’s actually eager for the truth does it that way. Instead, we do it the other way around: first we evaluate the evidence, then we follow it where it leads. If it leads to God, you sure haven’t shown that.

          How can I straighten you out when you already know the answer.

          Here again, I’m surprised that you admit that you have nothing that would convince me. But OK, thanks for the candor.

          Are you pretending to know this, Bob?

          Pretending to know what? That the Problem of Divine Hiddenness is a huge problem for Christianity?

        • Kodie

          “God” dealing with problems would be evidence he exists. There is no evidence that there is a god who deals with anything. It looks evidently there is no god. If you can’t see it, you’re not looking at it. You’re cowardly willing to accept that nothing is something, and no action is god’s plan of action.

        • MNb

          “Does it talk about sin as if it’s a problem that requires a solution?”
          That’s not what philosophers (including religious ones) call the Problem of Evil, dear ignorant.

        • Greg G.

          The Problem of Evil is older than Christianity by a few centuries. It was stated before Jesus was a gleam in God’s eye.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope. First there has to be some dawg to make demands of.

          You haven’t provided ANY evidence for that, just assertions and arguments.

        • Pofarmer

          “In the scientific sense of the word? Of course I’m okay with that.”

          What other sense is there?

        • SteveK

          There are non-scientific ways to falsify. Logical is one. Mathematical is one. Philosophical is one. There are probably many others.

        • Pofarmer

          Sorry.

          Logic won’t work universally because you need Empericism to tell you if your logic is sound. Ever heard of the Paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise? http://platonicrealms.com/encyclopedia/Zenos-Paradox-of-the-Tortoise-and-Achilles It took new developments in mathematics to finally resolve it. The fact that something so plainly false, can be logically coherent, is an indictment of logic as a tool of proof or disproof.

          Mathematics, I think, would be called soundly scientific. Philosophy is the same as logic. In the realm of the material, the only way Philosophers can make sure they are on track is by using inductive reasoning, along with deductive reasoning, to make sure their Premises are sound. Without science, philosophy is blind.

        • MNb

          “Mathematics, I think, would be called soundly scientific.”
          I disagree for the exact reason you yourself provide. Mathematicians are not interested in deciding whether we should use Euclidean Geometry or some non-Euclidean version. They only are interested in coherence. Math hardly uses empiricism; one exception is determining the value of pi.

        • Pofarmer

          The way I look at Math, math is a language that was/is developed to describe the world around us. If it didn’t work for that, it wouldn’t be used. That’s all I mean. There have to be checks built in to assure what we are mathematicaly desribing actually happens.

        • Greg G.

          You need true premises for logic to yield true conclusions and science provides the most reliable evidence for premises.

          You have to know what equations apply to reality before you can use math and we get those from science.

          Philosophy might be able to give you a nice sound belief system but without using empirical methods, you don’t know which universe it applies to – the universe you live in or the universe that lives in your head.

        • SteveK

          >> You need true premises for logic to yield true conclusions and science provides the most reliable evidence for premises.

          Facts do no come with labels like “most reliable”. It’s the interpretation of facts that result in that label being applied. But interpretations are always built upon premises that could be true or false. So more facts are needed, with more interpretations and more premises. And on it goes, forever.

          There’s a reason logical empiricism/positivism was discarded.

        • MNb

          How many interpretations are there of the fact that “science has in 200+ years changed how the world looks like more than anything else before during millennia” open for more than one interpretation?
          It’s that fact that leads us directly to the conclusion that science is the most reliable method.

          “And on it goes, forever.”
          Exactly – in the meanwhile increasing its reliability.

          “There’s a reason logical empiricism/positivism was discarded.”
          Yes – but that doesn’t mean it was wrong on every single point. Plus the reliability of science doesn’t depend on logical positivism nor on empiricism alone.
          Are you a binary thinker? Either something is 100% absolutely eternally certainly true or it must be dismissed? That would explain your science denial.

        • SteveK

          >> Exactly – in the meanwhile increasing its reliability.

          You haven’t established the truth of the premises that you relied on when interpreting the series of facts, yet here you are jumping to a conclusion.

          Philosophy might be able to give you a nice sound belief system but without using empirical methods, you don’t know.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          If the premises match experimental evidence, then we HAVE established the effective truth of the premises.

          I’ve never seen a single bit of evidence for *any* of the supernatural assertions of your book.

        • Greg G.

          Facts do no come with labels like “most reliable”.

          Some facts do. A distance measured with a car odometer is not as reliable as a distance measured by a surveying team. When measurements are given, they are given with a margin of error as a plus/minus range.

          Your premises need to be validated. Some methods of validation are more reliable than others. Appealing to the feelings of people who cannot reconcile their fear of nonbeing for evidence of the existence of God is a terrible way to validate a premise.

        • SteveK

          >> A distance measured with a car odometer is not as reliable as a distance measured by a surveying team.

          You’re talking about accuracy. Reliability involves consistency, dependability, quality and trust. My car odometer reliably clicks off miles very well. I expect that it is less accurate than a survey team. That has already been factored into my assessment. My car is less accurate than the survey team, but the measurement is equally reliable.

        • Greg G.

          How often can you measure a distance with a car in a straight line?

          Accuracy is a factor in reliability. Can a plane make it to Chicago with a given amount of luggage and fuel? Can it make it all the way across Lake Michigan? Can it take off and land safely if you add more fuel?

          But you are not exactly worried about whether you believe false things as long as they make you feel good.

        • SteveK

          >> Accuracy is a factor in reliability.

          Sure. You were talking about accuracy, thinking it was reliability. We can say this much. The car odometer is reliable and so is the survey team when all things have been considered.

        • Greg G.

          Car odometers are not reliable even if they were accurate to the inch because cars measure the road distance around hills to a place which is not as accurate or reliable as being able to measure straight line distance “as the crow flies”. You then must estimate the additional distance from the turns in the road. That is probably good enough for somebody who does not care whether his beliefs are true as long as it makes his wishful thinking feel good.

        • SteveK

          I didn’t know car odometers were supposed to measure “as the crow flies”. Silly me. Silly car engineers. But beyond that, cars odometers can do this very reliably if you put them in the situation where it’s possible.

        • Greg G.

          You’re lost. We were talking about straight line distances, remember?

        • Greg G.

          Car odometers are good for measuring how far the car goes, not the distance from point A to point B unless there is a direct path between them. If you need a more accurate distance to make reliable estimates, GPS is better.

          How can we use a car odometer to get a reliable measurement of the width of the river in order to build a bridge there?

        • MNb

          Our science denier strikes again!
          Falsifiability tells us something about the relation of theories with empirical facts. It’s not just about showing something incorrect.
          Better look something up before you start producing nonsense, genius. And unlike you I will help you:

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/

          “For Popper, a theory is scientific only if it is refutable by a conceivable event.”
          Logic, math and philosophy typically don’t produce events.

          https://explorable.com/falsifiability

          That doesn’t mean that logic (which is btw a branch of math), math and philosophy are useless. Math for instance is used to guarantee that theories of physics are coherent. But demonstrating incoherence is not synonymous to falsifiability.
          Thanks for demonstrating your ignorance once again.
          Or is it dishonesty? Often the difference is hard to tell with you.

        • Kodie

          The perception of evil is described, and so is some guy’s conclusion that god doesn’t want to deal with things sometimes, since there isn’t any evidence that he does. I’m not sure if I remember if you think natural disasters are big honking warnings from god or not.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You accept your religion’s explanations without critique, or even supporting evidence.

          Not our way or style, when probability weighs so heavily against it.

      • Greg G.

        Bob, you are critiquing the Xtian world view from an objective position. No wonder you get the wrong answers.

        • tsig

          If you haven’t drank the Kool Aid how can you assess the flavor?

        • Kodie

          Purple is grape. Red can be one of several different flavors. Green is that green flavor that’s neither lime nor apple but always tastes like “green”.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Synesthesia FTW! 😉

    • 100meters

      I thought the problem of evil had been answered for the jew and the xian around 2500 years ago.
      Isiah 45:7, where god unequivocally states that he is responsible for all the good AND all the evil in the world.

      Oh, wait!!!
      “This is one of those times when a verse doesn’t mean what it says.”
      Uh huh.

      • tsig

        CONTEXT!!!!:( 🙁

      • SteveK

        It means what it means.

        • Greg G.

          That is the type of Christian response that 100meters is mocking. You are essentially saying that it doesn’t necessarily mean what it says. Slimy apologetics take a verse to mean whatever it needs to mean in an argument but it can mean something else in a simultaneous argument.

          It would have been helpful if you had just said what it means.

        • FaithIsGlorifiedDelusion

          I like the way you troll.

        • adam

          Certainly helps to explain you:

    • tsig

      You know Gods’ way?

    • MNb

      Good job showing that you don’t understand what the Problem of Evil is. It’s not in that entire message from cover to cover.
      So no, not true.

      “The reason you’re bothered”
      is that the method “head wins, tails I don’t lose” makes all research and all logic totally superfluous. If you’re not bothered you actually say that every single comment of yours on this blog is a waste of time and byte.

    • RichardSRussell

      The reason you’re bothered is because you are critiquing a unicorn worldview from the perspective of a non-unicorn worldview.

      This makes equal sense to you, right?

      • SteveK

        Critiquing one worldview from the position of another. If that is your point, yes it makes sense.

        • Greg G.

          You are criticizing the critiquing of a subjective viewpoint from an objective viewpoint. You are not making sense. It is no wonder your mind has been captured by the Catholics.

        • Kodie

          Why do you have to have the worldview in order to analyze it? I know you don’t like it, and apparently feel that we’re misunderstanding everything, but you also never clear it up, since your perspective, according to you, is superior.

          How could you honestly blame an outsider for mocking you and your religious beliefs when you fail and refuse to clarify anything? What do you think you’re doing here?

          We have no choice. No brilliant winning argument has ever been put forth by you, nor any of the other dozens or hundreds of Christians who come by. It sounds like you’ve been scammed, because no rational person would buy what you’ve been sold. You’re not selling it to us, we have to reject it, and if we’re rejecting it on faulty premises, blame your own fucking self.

    • Kodie

      The entire message is a superstition of how an imaginary guy is “handling” things in whatever way seems the most evident. Like, he doesn’t do anything because, uh, he doesn’t wanna. Fools like you sign up for this shit, that he’s even there, based on delusions of ancient people who didn’t know a whole lot.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      your dawg commits or sanctions more evil that anyone else could imagine, and you consider the book an explanation of why such a being, if it exists, is worth worship?

  • MNb

    “How many concluded that Camping was totally wrong, that they were fools for being duped.”
    To their credit: I know a mother and son who made that conclusion. Well, not exactly that they had been fools, but indeed that the hype was foolishness and that they should not buy it anymore. The son became an atheist about a year later, when he learned that science can make accurate predictions. The mother talks a lot less about supernatural stuff since then (there is a lot of it where I live and she had known for years that I think it nonsense).

    • Helpful anecdote, thanks. I’m sure that, in the face of a monumental failure (the most recent one that comes to mind is John Hagee’s 4 blood moons nonsense), there are people who wake from their supernatural bliss and return to reality. I wish there were more.

      I suppose this speaks to an inner itch that religion scratches.

  • Greg G.

    She said, “If God chooses to speak through a disease to me, that’s fine.”

    That reminds me of the guy on a plane who would pull out a tissue, sneeze into it, then put it inside his pants.

    The woman next to him asked him what he was doing.

    He apologized and explained, “I have a condition where every time I sneeze, I have an orgasm.”

    She replied, “I see. What do you take for a condition like that?”

    “Pepper!”

  • Yonah

    In seminary, our New Testament professor said, “If they found the bones of Jesus in a Jerusalem tomb today, it wouldn’t bother my faith one bit.” I agree.

    • Greg G.

      Merry Christmas, Yonah!

      At least then you would have evidence that Jesus actually existed. It would obliterate that bit of faith.

      • Yonah

        And to you and yours with a Happy New Year!

    • Could anything bother your faith?

      • Yonah

        Yup. Every day. Christians that refuse to do Christianity. It’s why clergy drink.

        • Kodie

          Well, that’s pathetic..

        • Yonah

          But, it’s ok. Since we are also Jewish, when the Christian side is having a bad day, we break out the Manischewitz.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      “from a false antecedent, anything follows” that’s a flaw in logic, right there.

      • Yonah

        Thank you. The goal of the Gospel is to defy logic. Eastern religions are so messy.

  • Pofarmer

    Do I sense a little frustration here Bob?

    • Not frustration so much as a desire to see people put their cards on the table. If a Christian “just believes,” that’s fine, but then don’t tell me that that faith is actually well supported by evidence. If the intellectual arguments advanced by the Christians are there either to convince nonbelievers or to convince themselves that they’ve backed the right horse (though they never came to faith through those arguments), I’d like that out in the open.

  • Clover and Boxer

    This is why you ask the person you’re engaging if they are interested in the truth. Most people will say they are interested in the truth. Then when you show that shifting the burden of proof (can you prove Jesus wasn’t resurrected?), special pleading (accepting any explanation to defend Christianity, but not doing so for other claims), and retreating to the unfalsifiable (God could have answers that we just don’t know) are not reliable ways of determining the truth, people might become aware of the problems with Christian apologetics and start to think differently about the issue. At least that was my story.

  • SteveK

    >> Imagine that historians discovered an ossuary (bone box) from roughly 30 CE that said, “Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph, born in Bethlehem and crucified in Jerusalem” and, after much study and debate, the relevant scholars reached a consensus that it was as convincing as any Jesus evidence.

    This is quite the hypothetical situation. If this occurred, I would doubt the resurrection. It would not alter my belief that God exists, however.

    I don’t think this hypothetical could actually occur though. You’d have to be able to link the bones to Jesus himself, and nobody else, with a high degree of confidence and that would require information about Jesus (DNA perhaps) that we just don’t have.

    • It’s just a thought experiment. I agree that getting a scholarly consensus is hard to imagine.

      But thanks for engaging with it. Tell me, though: if there is no resurrection, doesn’t that put an enormous cloud of doubt over the Bible? How can you hold to God belief?

      • SteveK

        I can hold to God belief because I think the ontology of such a being can sufficiently explain the reality I experience (generally speaking). Holding to an ontology of physical matter/energy for that same explanation doesn’t keep me from holding any beliefs so in that respect both positions are equal. It just forces me to into a different set of beliefs that, to me, don’t match up with experience.

        • Greg G.

          But your God belief could sufficiently explain any reality. In this reality, though, God is not necessary to explain physical matter/energy, evolution or thunder. If we lived in a universe where turtles made of lead could fly, then we would need supernatural explanations.

          It just forces me to into a different set of beliefs that, to me, don’t match up with experience.

          It doesn’t force you into those beliefs. You do it because of wishful thinking. You support your wishful thinking with bad arguments and complete fallacies.

        • SteveK

          >> In this reality, though, God is not necessary to explain physical matter/energy, evolution or thunder.

          So everything explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation? Is this your worldview?

          >> It doesn’t force you into those beliefs.

          Since you don’t know my experiences you are unable to know what this forces me to believe. You’re wrong.

        • Greg G.

          So everything explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation? Is this your worldview?

          No, I hold propositions to be true according to the strength of the evidence for and against it. We understand some things very well and some things we do not understand well, if at all. Just making up or accepting an explanation that explains everything by “POOF!” is for people who don’t much care about what is true. I recognize that if I am 99% certain about a thousand things, I am probably wrong about 10 of them. A false sense of certainty is for suckers.

          Since you don’t know my experiences you are unable to know what this forces me to believe. You’re wrong.

          You don’t know how many Christians have told me similar things while being coy with their experiences. When they finally get up the nerve to tell me, it has always been something readily explainable.

          Several of them were waking dream experiences where you feel for certain that you are awake but seeing strange things, One guy was six and saw angels flying through a hole in the wall and he swore up and down that he was awake. But the hole was gone after he got out of bed. I asked him if he was paralyzed during the experience and his eyes got really big because he had never told anybody that, but it is common in waking dreams, along with the false certainty of being awake and alert from which the term is derived. Often it’s a recently deceased friend or relative making an appearance. Getting probed on a spaceship by aliens seems to be a common one these days. The boogey man waking dream is a classic where he may have a hook nose and/or a knife. Then there’s the hag that sits on your chest, which is where our word “nightmare” comes from.

        • SteveK

          >> No, I hold propositions to be true according to the strength of the evidence for and against it.

          So which position do you hold based on the evidence up to today?

          Logic dictates there can only a few possible options. I gave one option. The other is that things need an explanation but at least one thing does not. If you can think of a third option, then toss that one into the mix.

          >> When they finally get up the nerve to tell me, it has always been something readily explainable.

          You’re a real Sage for the age, son. Anyone can explain part of an experience but nobody can explain the full experience. That would require a full accounting of everything about the person and you don’t have that information. Sorry, old sport.

        • Greg G.

          Which position? What topic do you mean? You seem to know my position very well. Nobody could consistently misrepresent the way you do without knowing what not to say.

          As to the waking dreams, none of them knew what it was or that it was common to about a third of the population in their mid-thirties and younger. Since the didn’t know about and argued that there was no such thing, it is obvious that none of them had considered it, let alone ruled it out.

          You seem touchy on that. Did I just burst your bubble with a wild stab?

        • SteveK

          >> Which position? What topic do you mean?

          I mean the topic of explanations that I asked about. Don’t leave me guessing. Here’s the exchange in condensed form.

          Me: So everything [in nature] explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation? Is this your worldview?
          You: No, I hold propositions to be true according to the strength of the evidence for and against it.
          Me: So which position [regarding explanations] do you hold based on the evidence up to today? Logic dictates there can only a few possible options.

        • Greg G.

          You don’t understand the nuance of my answer. As I have said before, some things can be explained and some things are beyond our ken at this time and maybe forever. t makes no sense to hold positions with evidence that may or may not exist in the future. But that is no reason to fill in the blanks with guesses.

        • SteveK

          All I am doing is asking you to tell me what science knows TODAY. I don’t expect you to tell me what science doesn’t know or what will happen in the future.

          Based on what science knows TODAY, has science found anything that they know either explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation?

        • Greg G.

          There are proposed theories that cannot be tested at the present time. Alan Guth has shown that, from what physicists know, it could be possible that space and energy are opposites mathematically so that particles could pop into existence so that the energy of the particles is equal to the potential energy of the distance between them if space was created. That explains the expansion of the universe and its acceleration.

          Lawrence Krauss wrote A Universe from Nothing” that explains things in that perspective.

          These ideas are falsifiable but not in our lifetime.

          Why are you so persistent with this? I am not sure what you are asking for but even if the answer is that science has zilch, it does not justify jumping to a religious conclusion.

          Less than a century ago, it was thought that the universe was our galaxy. The rate of increase in knowledge is still accelerating. We don’t know where it will end. Religion blocks people from even considering what we have learned.

        • SteveK

          >> …from what physicists know, it could be possible that space and energy are opposites mathematically so that particles could pop into existence…

          From what physicists know, it could be possible that this doesn’t happen. They really do know this. Ask them.

        • Greg G.

          What we “know” comes from induction from empirical observation, so we will always have a tiny element of doubt which is a tiny gap you want to force a big god into.

          I keep telling you that we don’t know everything but that doesn’t mean it is reasonable to believe your imagination because it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. We don’t know X, therefore godidit is the argument that started religion and it has failed ever since.

          You protest that you aren’t doing a god-of-the-gaps argument when that is exactly what you are doing. You use a cargo-cult form of reason with fallacy after fallacy to maintain your fuzzy-wuzzy feelings.

          If you have a good reason to believe, bring it. We really want to hear it. I don’t know why you want to waste your time presenting your second best argument for god. Every time you do, a different becomes your second best argument when you realize it is refuted. Then you go away for a few weeks and come back with amnesia.

        • SteveK

          Thanks for answering my question…Science knows there are things that don’t require an explanation.

        • Greg G.

          Science knows there are things that don’t require an explanation.

          Which things? Name them.

        • SteveK

          If that wasn’t your answer, just say so. Are you telling me that this isn’t true?

        • Greg G.

          I never said that there were things that “required” an explanation. I never said that we it is impossible that we could never explain things scientifically. I did say it was possible that we could never explain everything. At the end of the 19th century, physicists thought they had all but a few details ironed out. Then Einstein and Curie upset that apple cart so humans have only been studying Relativity, radioactivity, and quantum physics for barely a century. I have no idea what humans will know a hundred years from now and neither do you. Maybe it will take ten billion years to explain everything. Unfortunately, the sun will probably die in five billion years.

          Quantum virtual particles are not caused externally, they cause themselves. There are theories that explain how they happen but we can’t explain when or where they happen and it may be impossible to explain those things but we may well be able to explain why we can’t explain it.

          From what you know, what does science know that doesn’t require an explanation? You used the plural so you should be able to name two of them.

        • SteveK

          Then I misread your reply. MNb said science knows that quantum fields don’t require an explanation. A real science stopper they’ve turned out to be. There’s the answer.

        • Greg G.

          I think he means that since they are not caused by prior events, they do not need an explanation on a case-by-case basis. That doesn’t mean that no explanation could ever explain the general case of them.

        • SteveK

          Merry Christmas, Greg, and all the best to you in the new year.

        • Greg G.

          Thank you, Steve. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

        • MNb

          I didn’t write that. Thanks for showing your dishonesty once again. Do it again and I’ll call you a liar.
          What I wrote is: if your god doesn’t require an explanation then quantum fields don’t either. That’s a philosophical claim and not a scientific one.
          What I also wrote was:

          1. MNb: quantum fields explain everything in our natural reality and don’t require an explanation themselves.
          2. SK: quantum fields do require an explanation and I call that explanation “God”.

          Your view has one entity more than mine and doesn’t have extra explanatory power. Hence it falls under Ockham’s Razor.
          That’s still philosophy and not science. Science doesn’t ask why or how come that there are quantum fields. Science is just happy that they explain so many things. In exactly the same way science doesn’t ask why or how come that nothing can travel faster than light. For some peculiar reason – could it be intellectual dishonesty perhaps? – theists never bring that one up as an argument for their god.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re trying to force absolutes, since we’re filled with conditional certainty and you are absolutely convinced, albeit with no evidence.

          Try again

        • MNb

          Irrelevant. Because “science doesn’t know hence god” is and remains a god of the gaps.

        • SteveK

          Huh? You said that science knows quantum fields don’t need an explanation so this comment makes no sense.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It meets the observed facts at the moment and has predictive power, which is all that can be asked of a theory or knowledge.

          Show that religion does/has either

        • What is your point? Science has unanswered questions, therefore God?

        • MR

          Why are you so persistent with this?

          Because that’s his game. Ask the same question back and watch him ignore you. Why are you doing all the work? If he wants answers, make him justify his own answers back.

        • MNb

          Yes.
          Quantum Fields don’t need an explanation.
          You contradict this? Then I answer that your god as the first cause and/or ultimate explanation demands an explanation as well. And then I invite William Ockham as a referee and you lose.

          MNb: “Quantum fields ultimately explain everything in our natural reality, including our natural reality itself, and don’t need an explanation.”
          SK: “Oh yes, quantum fields need an explanation and I call that explanation god. I don’t know how god explains quantum fields, I just believe god does provide an explanation.”

          Yours is a classical example of an extra entity with zero extra explanatory power.

        • SteveK

          >> Quantum Fields don’t need an explanation.

          Thanks for answering the question. I don’t know how science knows this, but I trust that you are correct.

        • Greg G.

          I am still not sure I know what you mean by something explaining itself. If something explains itself, it is a circular and it may or may not apply to reality. A concept might explain itself yet be absurd. It may be possible to contrive an explanation that explains itself and reality, yet be imaginary.

          A concept that explains itself is unfalsifiable so we have no way to tell if it is false or to have confidence that it is true.

          I mentioned Krauss before. He talks about an unstable nothingness that would explain the multiverse. The alternative is a stable nothingness. What keeps it stable? If there is something that maintains the stability, then it is not a nothingness. An unstable nothingness is all around us. A perfect, stable nothingness is an imaginary construct of our minds. The Platonic ideals that they thought had to exist in order for a mind to conceive of them is where they went wrong. That is where the idea of a perfect nothingness comes from.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Science doesn’t know everything. Religion doesn’t know anything” –Aron-Ra

          Well?

        • Can you cut to the chase? Are you drunkenly wandering toward the conclusion that God explains himself or doesn’t need an explanation?

          I accept neither option.

        • Anyone can explain part of an experience but nobody can explain the full experience. That would require a full accounting of everything about the person and you don’t have that information. Sorry, old sport.

          And this is your opinion consistently? When someone from a very different culture/worldview tells you about his supernatural experiences, you assume that they’re true until proven false? Or do you apply logic and experience to see if a natural explanation will be sufficient? If the latter, then it sounds like, despite your protestations, you approach things pretty much like Greg G does.

        • SteveK

          All explanations involve God at some level. That’s my belief. God does not exist in the gaps.

          >> Or do you apply logic and experience to see if a natural explanation will be sufficient?

          Yes, I do this. Keep in mind my opening statement though. If a explanation involving the natural order is not sufficient then I conclude that God has intervened to alter that natural order.

          >> If the latter, then it sounds like, despite your protestations, you approach things pretty much like Greg G does.

          It doesn’t sound like that to me.

        • If a explanation involving the natural order is not sufficient then I conclude that God has intervened to alter that natural order.

          If science doesn’t know then I conclude that science doesn’t know. Easy. The God explanation never has evidence behind it. I’ll stick with the worldview that delivers results and backs them with evidence.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I think our friend SteveK has forgotten the First Rule of Tautology Club? 😉

        • Mary Callanish

          …This is how I see it. If an explanation involving the natural order is not sufficient, then I conclude that SATAN-KITTY has intervened to alter that natural order. You are wrong, Greg. It’s SATAN-KITTY. I know it in my heart. There is Scripture to prove it. And if you don’t believe, he will send you to StinkyLitterBox to inhale forever when you die. I feel sorry for you that you got it so wrong. The box is awful. I know because one cat came back from the dead to tell me about it last week. 🙁

        • MNb

          “If a explanation involving the natural order is not sufficient ”
          And could you provide any example of something in our natural reality that necessarily can’t be sufficient, never and ever? Could you also demonstrate that necessity? If no this is just another god of the gaps.

        • SteveK

          Hmm….how about a man dying and then coming to life on the third day?

          Wouldn’t it be ironic if you told me that this situation can fit within naturalism.

        • Greg G.

          Do you know of any? How do you know he died? How do you know he came back to life? How do you know the story isn’t made up?

          How about somebody that was dead 4 days and resurrected? See Lazarus in John 11.

          But “Lazarus” is the Greek version of “Eleazar” which is the Semitized version of “Osiris”, since the god Osiris would have had “El” placed before his name. He was dead and brought back to life by supernatural forces (i.e. different gods in different versions of the story) in Egyptian mythology.

          His sisters took him to Heliopolis, the Greek name for “City of the Sun”, a reference to the worship of the sun god there. In the Bible, it is called “On”, a Semitization of “Iunu” (also “Annu” and “Anu”) and “Beth-shemesh” for “house of the sun”. A similar transliteraion would be “Beth-Anu” to “Bethany” in Greek.

          The name or title of one of his sisters is “Nephthys”. The two hieroglyphs that reference her are the one for “Lady”, a feminine form of “Lord”, and “enclosure”, often interpreted as “temple” or “house”. It so happens that the name of one of Lazarus’ sisters is “Martha” which comes from the Aramaic “marta” (the “t” would be like a Greek theta with a “th” sound) for “mistress”, the feminine form of “master”. Many sources say that “Martha” means “Lady of the house”, which would be how Martha is depicted in John. It is also one possible meaning of “Nephthys”. I just happened to see the meaning of Martha a few months ago and remembered when I serendipitously stumbled over the meaning of “Nephthys” last week.

          So it looks like John may have got his story from an Aramaic source that came from an Egyptian source. It so happens that many of the lines of the story have an affinity to the Pyramid Texts that were carved into the inner chambers of about ten of the Pyramids.

          Utterance 670
          1975a They say to thee, Osiris N., “thou art gone, thou art come;
          1975b thou art asleep, [thou art awake]; thou art [dead (lit. thou landest)], thou art alive.
          John 11:11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.”

          1973a The gods in Buto were filled with compassion, when they came to Osiris N.,
          John 11:35 Jesus wept.

          1973b [at the voice of we]eping of Isis and at the lamentation of Nephthys,
          John 11:31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

          Utterance 665A
          1914c The tomb is opened for you, the doors of the tomb-chamber are thrown open for you.
          John 11:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

          Utterance 412
          722a Flesh of N.,
          722b rot not, decay not, let not thy smell be bad.
          John 11:39b Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

          Utterance 670
          1753b Come forth, awake, I will avenge thee.
          John 11:43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”

          Utterance 703
          2202a Horus comes to thee; he separates thy bandages; he casts off thy bonds.
          John 11:44 He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.

          The text itself suggests an Egyptian source and we have a likely candidate for the Egyptian source.

          Can you think of any other stories with a resurrected person, weeping women, and a tomb opened up? Any ideas where it might have come from?

        • MNb

          And why can’t that necessarily fit within naturalism? Sure, if it was demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt (a well known story from about 2000 years ago doesn’t qualify) quite a few scientific theories would be shown incorrect. But that’s not what I’m talking about. That’s not nearly good enough.
          See, dying belongs to our natural reality. Becoming alive also belongs to our natural reality – every time sperm fertilizes an egg that’s exactly what happens. The same for a time span of three days. Every single aspect in principle can be investigated with the scientific method.
          So saying “science can’t explain a dying man resurrecting after three days, hence god” is also a god of the gaps.
          Of course I didn’t think of this myself. So I’ll quote a famous christian:

          “How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”
          Dietrich Bonhöffer, letter May 1944.

        • SteveK

          >> And why can’t that necessarily fit within naturalism?

          I’ve been told this by naturalists.

          I agree with your commentary on gaps. I’m not a gapper and don’t fit God into gaps of our knowledge. I fit God into every area of reality.

        • Greg G.

          I fit God into every area of reality.

          But you don’t do it rationally. You do it with wishful thinking. You can’t say why you reject other religions, superstitions, and contrived solipsisms without special pleading and any fallacy that comes to your mind.

        • SteveK

          Thank you Dr. Freud for the analysis.

        • Susan

          Thank you Dr. Freud for the analysis.

          Greg G. has not proclaimed himself a doctor. Nor has he made any claim that subscribes to Freudian theory. Nor has anyone here.

          He said:

          You don’t do it rationally. You do it with wishful thinking.

          That is, you have provided nothing substantial after all these months. Everything you’ve contributed after all these months looks like nothing but wishful thinking.

          You can’t argue your way out of a paper bag. People have made great efforts to engage you in argument but your strategy has been logical fallacies and “you can’t prove it’s not true” which is equal to “you can’t prove solipsism isn’t true” and “you can’t prove catholicyahwehjesus isn’t Vishna’s dream” isn’t true.

          Your logic can’t survive outside the hothouse of your local Mass.

          If you proceed from the assumption that a specific supernatural agent created everything ’cause it wanted a relationship with humans, that it put (and continues to put) our fellow earthlings through the horrors of natural selection for hundreds of millions of years, that it manifested itself for a few brief cycles around the sun where it would appear to be indistinguishable from thousands of other supernatural belief systems to which humans easily succumb and where it left no record in those years that would distinguish it from Zeus, then the logic of the RCC might be emotionally sufficient for you.

          Just don’t call it logic.

          It ain’t.

          You have no evidence nor logic. Your claim doesn’t survive that process.

          Your claim relies almost entirely on ignoring those facts.

          Your claim doesn’t address those facts.

          You can’t prove Zeus isn’t ontologically sound.

          You just state “My claim is logical.” (without demonstrating that you care about logic on any level) and “Don’t be ridiculous.” when claims exactly logically equal to yours are provided.

          This is exactly what “wishful thinking” looks like.

          They’re lying to you, Steve.

          But they’re lying to you in a way that fulfills your wishes.

          I’m always at a loss as to what sort of thing a person could possibly wish for that fulfills that wish.

          That’s all you’ve got, so far. No evidence. No argument. What is it you wish for? It seems highly immoral, as well.

        • SteveK

          Merry Christmas and all the best to you in 2016.

        • Susan

          Thank you, Steve. Same to you.

          All the best in the New Year.

        • Greg G.

          If you are trying to steer the conversation toward your recurring dreams of trains entering tunnels, take it elsewhere, please.

        • Pofarmer

          “I fit God into every area of my alternate reality.”

          FIFY.

        • MNb

          “I’ve been told this by naturalists.”
          Given the fact that you don’t provide any source and given your preference for dishonesty I doubt it. What they likely told you is that “a man dying and then coming to life on the third day?” contradicts modern science (especially biology and physics). But that’s not the same, because one fundament of modern science is

          “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

          Richard Feynman.

          That applies to your example as well.

          “I’m not a gapper”
          For a non-gapper you suspiciously often argue along the lines “science can’t explain” (one time you specifically added “here and now”) “hence god”. Which is the very definition of the god of the gaps.

          “and don’t fit God into gaps of our knowledge.”
          Except when you do, for instance regarding the origin of our Universe.

          “I fit God into every area of reality.”

          But this is interesting. How does your god fit in this area of reality?

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

          And of course you’re god remains a gambler and cannot be any abrahamistic version, because every area of reality is probabilistic. But that’s where your science denial comes in.

        • SteveK

          Merry Christmas to you and your family.

        • MNb

          Have a good time yourself as well.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          of course you’re a ‘gapper’…you’re making assertions, treating them as evidence, and then daring us to disprove them….prime example of gapping.

          and your last phrase SHOULD be, “…I *CRAM* dawg into every area of reality, regardless of the distortion or damage it does”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          How about an infant who lived after being zapped with a killing spell from a wand, saved by the magic of his mother’s love?

          Both are equally fictional, based on evidence.

        • Greg G.

          The Harry Potter Scripture mentions London. Therefore they are reliable as history.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          show me your dawg in math, then.

          You can’t merely assert your dawg is the ground of all…E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E is required.

        • Greg G.

          All explanations involve God at some level. That’s my belief. God does not exist in the gaps.

          Your theory is that “at some level”, there is a gap that God can fit in.

        • adam

          “All explanations involve God at some level. That’s my belief. God does not exist in the gaps.”

          God exists ONLY in the gaps:

        • Kodie

          Sorry, people and their relationships with a fictional character they invented aren’t that special or interesting.

        • Susan

          Logic dictates there can only a few possible options.

          “Logic” does not dictate anything of the sort. It’s hilarious that someone who relies on special pleading, shifting the burden of proof and who appeals to argumentum ad populum as some sort of reliable tie-breaker when the fallaciousness of those arguments is pointed out, goes on from there to lecture people about logic.

          (Hilarious and sad. Also, deeply annoying.)

          Anyone can explain part of an experience but nobody can explain the full experience.

          How is this relevant? Your experience (like your logic) does not dictate reality. The problem lies with your interpretation of those experiences, with no effort or concern for making logical connections from it to your extrapolations.

          Catholicyahwehjesus reliably explains all reality and all experience because I had this really fuckin’ wow experience is not “logic”.

          You have to show your work. You don’t seem to have done any.

          Make up your mind, Steve.

        • MNb

          “The other is that things need an explanation but at least one thing does not.”
          Eh – that’s actually the explanation you offer. Your god is the first explanation, but doesn’t need an explanation him/her/itself. By definition or something.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You give an option and provide zero evidence, instead trying to bolster it with assertions and arguments.

          Evidence or be an adult and admit you’re wrong. My position is that, based on the evidence to date, I have no reason to believe you, and neither does anybody else not entrappped by superstition.

        • adam

          “Anyone can explain part of an experience but nobody can explain the full experience. “

        • adam

          “That would require a full accounting of everything about the person and you don’t have that information. ”

          Oh, I think we do have enough information

        • It’s almost like a hypnogogic hallucination changes and adapts as society does.

        • Kodie

          I had a dream the other night about, well one of those panic kind of dreams where you’re late and unprepared, and unexpected social semi-disasters, but I had forgotten part of it until later in the day, when I walked to my car and forgot about the flat tire. I had one tire that used to lose air that’s been replaced, but it was like walking to my car up the street, thinking/realizing my tire was flat, as I recognized the walk up the street from my dream when I got close enough to see my car. I had a dream a long time ago that I had a pair of sunglasses I really liked, and in waking times, convinced I actually had them and couldn’t find them anywhere, for weeks. Miracle!

        • Greg G.

          When i was a young teen, I woke up sad and felt that way all morning but didn’t know why. I was doing something in front of the house when a kid rode by on his bicycle and I was rather shocked. I realized that I had dreamed that I had been to that kid’s funeral the day before and had seen that bike mangled as he had been hit by a car. Once I figured out that it was all a dream, it turned into an ordinary day.

        • Kodie

          No, we don’t know what your experiences are that lead you to believe in any god, as though it were the only explanation you’d accept. You never get to that part.

          There are other explanations, and you tell us your poor reasons for rejecting them. It’s not really convincing. I don’t see any reason why you’re even spending time here.

        • Sure, “God did it” is unfalsifiable. I see how you say that it can explain your reality. I don’t think it’s an especially parsimonious explanation, and dropping the God hypothesis does quite nicely.

          You’re saying that a naturalistic explanation is insufficient? If you’re saying that science has unanswered questions, yes, of course that’s right. Nevertheless, “God did it” has never justifiably explained anything in the past, and I vote for letting science wrestle with its unanswered questions (especially since it usually uncovered them in the first place).

        • SteveK

          >> You’re saying that a naturalistic explanation is insufficient?

          Yes. You’re saying you’ve considered the ontological issues and concluded from the evidence that “nature” explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation. That’s what it means to say nature is the sufficient explanation.

          What evidence do you have this this is true? Have you found anything in nature that explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation?

        • If I understand your dilemma, this is just another First Mover argument. That chain of explanations, A is explained by B, which is explained by C, etc.–where does it end?! OMG, the existential anxiety is overwhelming … until I posit a god, with no evidence, to ground everything.

          Ahhhh …

          When the evidence makes clear that God exists, I’m there. Until that point, it’s a useless explanation (except for allowing you to pretend that your faith is on firm footing).

        • SteveK

          I’m asking you to consider the evidence and answer a question about sufficient explanations. These are subjects you are very familiar with so you must have an opinion. How would you answer?

        • We don’t know everything. Some things don’t have explanations but will; some things may never have explanations.

          Why even ask the question? You know how I’ll answer.

        • SteveK

          Consider only what science KNOWS – today, right now – and answer the question. “I don’t know” is not an option given this constraint.

        • MNb

          It totally is an option. “I don’t know hence god” is the very definition of a god of the gaps, which is a special case of an argument from ignorance.
          To avoid the god of the gaps it’s not nearly enough to consider only what science know TODAY, RIGHT NOW. You’ll have to consider what science possible can know and especially demonstrate what science necessarily never ever will be able to know.
          In case you missed the quote in my other comment:

          “How wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.”

          Dietrich Bonhöffer, letter May 1944.

        • Consider only what science KNOWS – today, right now – and answer the question. “I don’t know” is not an option given this constraint.

          Unlike you, I don’t know everything. But let’s go back to your original questions:

          You’re saying you’ve considered the ontological issues and concluded from the evidence that “nature” explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation.

          “Nature explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation”? I don’t even understand that, and I have little interest in finding out. Can’t give you an answer.

          That’s what it means to say nature is the sufficient explanation. What evidence do you have this this is true? Have you found anything in nature that explains itself or doesn’t need an explanation?

          What I’m saying, as if this weren’t obvious, is that science is the only vehicle we have for explaining the hows and whys of nature. It ain’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. It’s certainly better than religion, which has explained nothing.

        • SteveK

          >> Unlike you, I don’t know everything.

          I asked you to tell me what science knows. Okay, you don’t know what science knows and therefore can’t give me an answer. Got it.

        • MNb

          Yes.
          The unprecedented success of the scientific method, also called methodological naturalism.
          Tell me as soon as you have found a method that yiels even vaguely comparable results.

    • Greg G.

      The DNA of someone who was half-human and half-something else would be quite distinct from every other human. Would the father’s DNA even degrade over time? Finding such bones in an unmarked ossuary should be pretty good proof of something strange and would make the Jesus hypothesis quite likely. Of course it would make the Zeus hypothesis more likely, too.

      Do you believe in the Swoon Theory of the Resurrection or a science-denying theory of it?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      “….imagine a world with no hypthetical situations….”

  • Markus Rostig

    This Onion article (http://www.theonion.com/article/christ-converts-to-islam-754) in which Jesus converts to Islam, sums it up best:

    Ruth-Anne Girolamo, a Sunday school teacher in Stillwater, OK, disagreed. “I’ve been a Bible-believing Christian all my life, and nothing, not even a direct order from Christ Himself, is going to change that,” Girolamo said. “If Christ is going to leave the fold and become a sinner, we’ll just have to go on worshipping Him against His will.”

  • ClayJames

    How do intercessory prayer experiments guarantee that the control group not receiving intercessory prayer is in fact not receiving prayers from third parties (family, friends, etc.) outside of the experiment?

    • I would think that that’s just noise common to all participants.

      Anyone in the hospital has a particular chance of being prayed for. If that likelihood is the same for everyone in the hospital for the same malady, it evens out.

      • ClayJames

        How can we then conclude that intercessory prayer has no effect when everyone is receiving it (for example, the complication rate might be higher across the board without any payer).

        It seems that at the least we can conclude that knowing you are being prayer for increases your chance of complications and at the most (still a stretch because it is in no way quantified) that mechanic prayers from strangers has no effect.

        However, the conclusion that intercessory prayer doesn’t work does not follow from that study. The authors acknowledge this to be a but problem in their methodology but it is rarely talked about. More scientific rigor is necessary.

        • Greg G.

          If intercessory prayer worked, two groups should have had zero complications.

        • ClayJames

          Acording to that logic applying for a loan doesn’t work if you don’t always get the loan. I don’t see why your requirement for a 100% correlation is necessary.

        • Pofarmer

          The problem is, there isn’t any correlation at all. Hospitals and police departments and etc, keep dizzying amounts of statistics. For instance, we know from these statistics that Mormons tend to live slightly longer and be slightly healthier, most likely due to their prohibition on “colored” drinks. So, if there were correlations for specific faith groups, fewer car crashes say, then you have to think the statistics would pick that up, and religious groups would be touting it, because they certainly are looking for it. I think we can safely conclude there isn’t any there, there.

        • Greg G.

          It was a bit of hyperbole, but the point remains that if intercessory prayer had a significant impact, there should have been a significant difference between the two of the groups versus the one that was not prayed for. Instead, the most significant difference was that those who were told they were being prayed for did the worst.

          The Placebo Effect is more powerful than the Prayer Effect. Medicinal drugs are tested in a comparison with placebos but nobody tests a drug’s efficacy with and without prayer.

          We should see more spontaneous remission of diseases in countries that pray the most. We should see spontaneous remission at similar rates depending on the religion of a person rather than the disease of a person or at least higher rates of remission of each disease in relation to religion. If it was a significant factor it should stand out.

          I recall seeing a study that showed a lower mortality rate for people who attend church regularly vs those who don’t. At first I thought it might be due to such things as people who drink excessively on Saturday night don’t make it to church on Sunday morning and would have a higher mortality rate. But it turns out that the “attend church regularly” moves people who would attend church regularly but are on their death beds already or too old to do so to the other group which skews the whole statistic into irrelevancy.

        • That loophole (those who are dying likely can’t be in the “attend church regularly” category) is a subtle one. Thanks for pointing that out.

        • Greg G.

          It tends to limit the cause of death to accidents and sudden cardiac arrest for regular church-goers.

        • ClayJames

          It was a bit of hyperbole, but the point remains that if intercessory
          prayer had a significant impact, there should have been a significant
          difference between the two of the groups versus the one that was not
          prayed for.

          No, if this type of intercessory prayer was significant there should have been a difference between the groups. The experiment does not allow us to conclude, like you want to do, that this applies to all intercessory prayer.

          Regarding your other comments, there are far better ways to test the efficacy of prayer by taking a macro approach and there have been many such experiments done in the past that have taken this approach. Unfortunately, this Templeton experiment was very badly designed.

        • Greg G.

          No, the Templeton study was not poorly designed. It would be inappropriate to do a macro study with the previous prayer studies because they were poorly designed. Some had the people evaluating the conditions of the patients knowing which group they were in which might bias the ratings. The Templeton study eliminated that with double-blind evaluations. One study had the admitting nurse choosing the group to which a patient was assigned which could bias the study if there was a slight tendency to assign patients according to their expected outcomes. The Templeton study eliminated that pressure on the nurses by truly randomizing the assignments. Some studies were too small to be definitive. The Templeton study fixed that.

          Favoring biased studies makes you seem biased against a study that eliminates bias.

        • What are these other prayer experiments?

        • I find it fascinating that atheists often need to explain to Christians what “omnipotent” means. You pray to a perfect God who gives you what you ask for, and you’ll get it.

          God is perfect, while neither your loan application nor the loan officer is.

          You’re flailing around with the additional prayers as a complicating factor. Forget them–if prayer actually worked, there would’ve been zero complications in the people prayed for. Jesus’s declarations about the efficacy of prayer are wrong.

        • ClayJames

          So if someone asks god for a squared circle then they should receive it?

          You are offering a difference without a dinstinction. The analogy to a loan officer has nothing to do with how powerful they are because after all, we can assume that the loan officer is omnipotent as it pertains to granting you a specific loan (he has the complete power to grant you your wish). First, it has to do with the erroneous idea that for a prayer to work it must work 100% of the time. Asking for a loan does work in getting that loan, but it doesn´t work 100% of the time. Secondly, it has to do with the fact that, like loan officers, believers accept that god has other plans outside of what they ask for and that they do not always get what they want specifically because there are other desires at work.

          If your goal is to show that god does not always give people what they want, then I believe with you, but so do most Christians and theists in general. I fail to see the point in stating the obvious.

          It is also ironic that you bring up Jesus´view on the efficacy of prayer when in the garden of Gethsemane he specifically asks God to save him from his pending crucifixion and God decides to not grant his wish, which he then accepts. How does this not support that prayer does not ¨work¨ 100% of the time?

        • Kodie

          Sorry, prayer is an illusion. You are arguing for an illusion.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody is asking for square circles. The prayers of the study are supposed to be in prayer’s wheelhouse. However, practically everything that is in prayer’s wheelhouse also happen to in confirmation bias’ wheelhouse. Spontaneous remission happens so it should occur in people who happen to have prayed but the prayer always gets the credit. When spontaneous remission doesn’t happen, nobody tells their fellow church-goers about the failure of prayer.

          Do you really need to evaluate every type of prayer before you see the futility of it?

          Religious people see miracles in lots of things that are not miracles. An accident happens and someone survives counts as a miracle. I recall reading about an old lady who cared for her disabled son but she worried about who would take care of him when she died. She didn’t show up for church one Sunday so they checked on her and found her and her son dead. Her church friends were praising God for the miracle that both were taken together though it appeared that the son died because of what the lady most feared.

          Confirmation bias appears to be the main factor in miracles and answered prayer.

        • Pofarmer

          “When spontaneous remission doesn’t happen, nobody tells their fellow church-goers about the failure of prayer.”

          And the evidence of prayers not working is voluminous. Young people dying of cancer, genetic disorders, etc. The millions who go to Lourdes and don’t get healed. The simple truth if the matter is, nothing happens unless someone gets off their butt and does something.

        • Greg G.

          Of all the data in medical science for patterns in disease progression and healing, if religion played a role, there should be evidence for it.

        • ClayJames

          Whether I think that prayer is futile or not is irrelevant to drawing warranted conclusions from an experiment. Prayer can be futile and this experiment not lead to that conclusion and I find it ironic that because you believe that prayer is futile you cannot be objective about the faults and warranted conclusions of this experiment while at the same time, preaching about the dangers of confirmation bias.

          Your comments about confirmation bias, spontaneous remission, miracles and your anecdote regarding that woman´s story are irrelevant to this scientific experiment and the warranted (and unwarranted) conclusions that it reaches.

        • Greg G.

          My rejection of the efficacy of prayer came when I was praying sincerely but not seeing the results my friends were claiming. I began to notice that their “results” were often simply confirmation bias (though at the time I didn’t know the term or that there was such a concept) using any connection they could to call it a hit, rather than an actual specific hit. The only one that sounded like a hit was a couple of guys went fishing in the evening and the mosquitoes were eating them alive, so they decided to pray about it and the mosquitoes stopped bothering them. A few years later I read that mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn when it is too dark for birds to hunt and not dark enough for bats.

          You said HERE

          No, if this type of intercessory prayer was significant there should have been a difference between the groups. The experiment does not allow us to conclude, like you want to do, that this applies to all intercessory prayer.

          You wanted to do a meta-study on prayer using poorly designed studies that favored prayer, including the same intercessory prayer that you say is shown not to work.

          If you really think that another study could show that some form of intercessory prayer is effective, you should present your methodology to The Templeton Foundation. They would love to show that prayer is effective. There are probably others who would shell out a few million bucks for such a project.

        • ClayJames

          I still fail to see how your stories have anything to do with this experiment. Once again, prayer can be futile and this experiment still be invalid.

          You wanted to do a meta-study on prayer using poorly designed studies
          that favored prayer, including the same intercessory prayer that you say
          is shown not to work.

          I did?

          If you really think that another study could show that some form of
          intercessory prayer is effective, you should present your methodology to
          The Templeton Foundation. They would love to show that prayer is
          effective. There are probably others who would shell out a few million
          bucks for such a project.

          I prefer not to. I have too much on my plate and don´t want to raise all that money for something like this. Maybe you should give it a go.

        • Greg G.

          You wanted to do a meta-study on prayer using poorly designed studies that favored prayer, including the same intercessory prayer that you say is shown not to work.

          I did?

          That is how I interpreted:

          Regarding your other comments, there are far better ways to test the efficacy of prayer by taking a macro approach and there have been many such experiments done in the past that have taken this approach.

          I’m sorry if I misunderstood your meaning.

          PS:

          I prefer not to. I have too much on my plate and don´t want to raise all that money for something like this. Maybe you should give it a go.

          I’m not interested. Besides, it needs to be done by believers to have any credibility with believers.

        • ClayJames

          I’m sorry if I misunderstood your meaning.

          I said that taking a macro approach would be better from a methodological point of view. I am not saying that we should take prior studies that were poorly designed as part of some meta-study. Taking a macro approach does not mean the experiment is well designed (and some in the past have definetly not been) but my point is that this is a better path to take in the future because of the limits of these kind of studies.

        • Greg G.

          One large study with a sound methodology is better than several small studies with varying methodologies. More than one large study is better than one if they have sound methodologies.
          But diehard wishful thinkers will always find an excuse to discount them.

        • ClayJames

          One large study with a sound methodology is better than several small studies with varying methodologies. More than one large study is better than one if they have sound methodologies.

          I would have no problem accepting this. What large study with sound methodology are you refering to?

        • Greg G.

          After two thousand years of prayer, if there was a difference in the success rate of different kinds of prayer, it should have been noticed long ago. If intercessory prayer was ineffective, someone should have noticed. If any other time of prayer was particularly successful, besides praying for the sun to come up, it should have been noticed and spread.

          So the Templeton Foundation should have tested a type of prayer with a stronger success rate.. It must have been bad luck that they chose a type of prayer with no significant impact. But we can assume that those believers involved with the study would have prayed for guidance in designing the study. If praying for guidance was effective, surely they would have been guided to pick a test for a type of prayer that worked. So this experiment also shows that prayers for guidance are ineffective, too.

          That believers thought intercessory prayer was as effective as any other type of prayer, it means that no other type of prayer is significantly better than intercessory prayer, which failed the most rigorous test ever.

          Since believers thought intercessory prayer would be significantly effective when it isn’t, there must be something about human, or even basic animal, psychology that would make them think it is effective. Since intercessory prayer was thought to be as effective as every other type of prayer, we should expect that the same psychology is at play with the other types of prayer. Confirmation bias would explain it more efficiently than prayer working supernaturally.

        • ClayJames

          A lot of people have noticed that prayer can be successful. Now, your claim that it´s confirmation bias is nothing more that a claim that should be tested or supported. Even if prayer does work, your claim of confirmation bias can be used to discount it so even though that is a possible hypothesis, simply asserting it doesnt make it so.

          The rest of your post seems to be nothing more than conjecture, especially when saying that prayer should have guided this people to design a much better experiment. It seems that pointing out that these people were unaware or underestimated the limits of such study and that prayer itself is not going to necessarily show them the way, especially if it might have been ignored, are better interpretations.

          Here is a great article on some of the limits of prayer studies in general: http://www.strangenotions.com/prayer-science-and-the-existence-of-god/

        • Greg G.

          A lot of people have noticed that prayer can be successful

          “God works in mysterious ways” is an acknowledgement that a lot of people have noticed that prayer is not reliably successful.

          Now, your claim that it´s confirmation bias is nothing more that a claim that should be tested or supported. Even if prayer does work, your claim of confirmation bias can be used to discount it so even though that is a possible hypothesis, simply asserting it doesnt make it so.

          It has been shown that confirmation bias is a real thing that even animals are subject to. Superstitions could either be confirmation bias or it could be that walking under a ladder is bad luck.

          As the article you linked to points out, whether prayer is effective or not, it doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of a god. Prayer could work through Karma or the god could exist but not answer prayers. So testing prayers can only hope to see if prayers work. When tests are done on medicinal drugs, they don’t test for 100% effectiveness. They are looking for an increased effectiveness over nothing.

          But the Christian God is presented in the New Testament as answering prayers. It does not exclude intercessory prayer.

          Mark 11:24
          Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
          The phrase “believe that you have received it” sounds like confirmation bias.

          John 15:7
          If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

          Matthew 7:7
          “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

          Jeremiah 33:3
          Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

          1 John 3:22
          And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

          James 5:16
          Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

          Matthew 21:22
          And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

          Matthew 18:19
          Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

          Those are claims of the Christian God. “God works in mysterious ways” shows that particular god doesn’t exist. It doesn’t rule out other religions’ gods. If any particular religion prospered just by “luck”, we might expect that religion was on the right track. Since no religion has sustained prosperity, we have no candidates for a more correct religion.

          Then we are debating whether prayer works. Until we have evidence that it actually does work that cannot be accounted for by the human tendency toward human confirmation bias, we should assume that is the case. Rigorous accounting and double-blind evaluations of success are required. Any god or force that would deny an answered prayer to someone who would otherwise get it just to malevolently muck up a study of prayer that is more rigorous than confirmation bias is [insert nasty insulting term here].

          Churches bring in billions of dollars per year. They could do extensive rigorous studies for the cost of a few new megachurches. If the studies show that prayer is effective, the churches will draw so many new members that they will more than make up the investment. If the prayer experiments show that answered prayer is nothing but illusion and wishful thinking, then they can stop wasting people’s tithes on new church buildings.

        • Hmm. That’s weird. The atheist quotes the Bible passages on prayer.

          I wonder why Clay didn’t do that? I’d have thought that quoting the perfect and immutable word of God would be a great way to make his case. Maybe not.

        • Greg G.

          Funny that the Bible is at odds with Christian observations of the power of prayer.

        • MR

          “God works in mysterious ways”

          One of my favorites is, “Everything happens for a reason.” They’re like God’s get-out-of-jail-free cards.

          I love these shifting of burden arguments. “You can’t prove God/prayer doesn’t exist/work!” Well, that’s not even interesting. The only thing anybody cares about is if he does exist or that prayer does work. Do you really expect me to believe that an omnipotent God who so loves the world can’t be bothered to allow himself to be detected? Show me and I’m happy to consider it, but crying “you-can’t-prove-the-negative” is like a school kid’s taunt, “Neener-neener!”

          😛

        • ClayJames

          “God works in mysterious ways” is an acknowledgement that a lot of people have noticed that prayer is not reliably successful.

          If all you mean by this is that people do not always get what they want, then I think most people would have no problem accepting this and yet, that does not invalidate that prayer can be successful. Your claim of confirmation bias is a possible explanation that should be supported and I am not telling you that you should believe that prayer can work because of faulty studies or what other people think about it.

          Churches bring in billions of dollars per year. They could do extensive rigorous studies for the cost of a few new megachurches. If the studies show that prayer is effective, the churches will draw so many new members that they will more than make up the investment. If the prayer experiments show that answered prayer is nothing but illusion and wishful thinking, then they can stop wasting people’s tithes on new church buildings.

          I think a scientific study regarding prayer cannot conclude that prayer is effective. I think that in proving prayer, a macro approach would be better than trying to establish rigid controls, but it would still not be sufficient. How can the application of the scientific method, that assumes methodological naturalism, confirm a supernatural cause?

        • Greg G.

          How can the application of the scientific method, that assumes methodological naturalism, confirm a supernatural cause?

          If a supernatural cause has effects in the natural world, the effects can be detected.

        • ClayJames

          Of course the effects can be detected, but we cannot come to the scientific conclusion that the cause of that effect is supernatural because science assumes methodological natural.

        • Greg G.

          Correlation does not always imply causation but correlation could be established. OTOH, such studies could show no correlation with prayer and the object of prayer, just like the Templeton study did.

          Believers would then be making excuses for that, just like they do now with “mysterious ways” and “sometimes God says no”. Confirmation bias is shown to be related to superstitions, other weird beliefs, and some types of prayer, so belief in prayer in general seems to be no different.

          Of course demons could just be messing with all of our experiments or the Keepers of the Vats with the Brains could be feeding me various inputs and you don’t exist or vice versa. There are many explanations that work as well as theology. The definition of “supernatural” sets it apart from the natural world, so that it is immune from evidence. Then the problem is that we can’t distinguish between the imaginary supernatural realms from the real supernatural realm, or if there is a real one. All believers have equal evidence that their supernatural realm is the true one, which is absolutely zero by the design of the concept of supernatural.

          We have thousands of different sects of religions that think their own theology is better than every other theology. Each can only point to their own illogic and say that it cannot be proven wrong because it is supernatural.

          If we remove the false dichotomy from Pascal’s Wager, it would be better to disbelieve all theologies because you have a slim chance of being correct. A rational god would likely favor such a rational approach. Who knows what an irrational god would do, even if you had the right theology?

        • ClayJames

          You are rambling now and I fail to see what this has to do with the supernatural not being a valid scientific conclusion.

          Do you still think that the supernatural is a valid scientific conclusion? If so, do you accept the scientific conclusion of methodological naturalism? If not, then why not?

        • Greg G.

          You haven’t said much more than “maybe you’re wrong”. It’s not very interesting. We cannot even get around the problem of solipsism so everything could be an illusion. If I am 99.9% certain of a million things, I expect that I am wrong on about a thousand of them.

          Do you still think that the supernatural is a valid scientific conclusion?

          That is a silly question as the supernatural is defined as being outside what science can test.

          If so, do you accept the scientific conclusion of methodological naturalism?

          Anything we know beyond deductive logic has some built-in doubts due to the problem of solipsism. Methodological naturalism is the best way to get reliable knowledge within the reality that is presented to us as reality. Inductive logic can only proceed from that reality.

          All other ideas are from imagination. If we can test them, we can determine whether they are likely to be true or reject them as false. Our imaginations are capable of contriving things that are untestable. Our imagination is capable of convincing us of things that are not so, too. Sometimes we can determine where imagination has misled us.

          Religions are built on imaginary concepts. Most religions are necessarily wrong since they are contradictory. Either almost every one is wrong or they are all wrong. We have no way to distinguish a right one from a wrong one. They all look like tall tales of the imagination. Neither can we distinguish which solipsism is untrue, as they are all contrived to be impossible to refute because they are outside of our limits of observation.

          What do you believe and why do you believe it?

        • ClayJames

          You haven’t said much more than “maybe you’re wrong”.

          This is not at all what I am saying and I have no idea how you have interpreted this to be my point.

          That is a silly question as the supernatural is defined as being outside what science can test.

          Right, therefore the answer is ¨no¨, the supernatural is not a valid scientific conclusion. Which also means that your condition that churches run scientific studies that show that prayer is effective is also silly since the supernatural is not a scientific conclusion.

        • Pofarmer

          Are you really this stupid? Nobody is saying that we should be studying the cause of what makes prayer successful. What we COULD study, is “is prayer successful.” We don’t need to even speculate on a cause, naturalistic or otherwise, to see the effects of something. We don’t fully understand Gravity, or Dark Matter, and yet we can see their effects. I don’t fully understand the computer code my ipad runs or the touch screen I’m typing on, yet here are my words projected across the internet. And, anyway, the proper scientific response to a phoenomenon we don’t understand or an effect we can’t fully tease out the reason for is “I don’t know.” But, in this case, despite your sophomoric protestations, we don’t even have an effect say “I don’t know” about. And you haven’t even tried to supply one, while atheists (me) have indicated instances where prayer does seem to be effective and religion does seem to produce some benefits. At this point, your position is simply untenable and your best option to not look like an idiot is to drop it.

        • Greg G.

          You haven’t said much more than “maybe you’re wrong”.

          This is not at all what I am saying and I have no idea how you have interpreted this to be my point.

          I realize what your underlying theme is but you aren’t coming out with it. It has been pointed out to me that this type of argumentation often comes from Catholics, not that there is anything wrong with it but it is timid apologetics. It is a way to give the impression that the supernatural is possible without actually stating it. It is an implied false dichotomy.

          That is a silly question as the supernatural is defined as being outside what science can test.

          Right, therefore the answer is ¨no¨, the supernatural is not a valid scientific conclusion. Which also means that your condition that churches run scientific studies that show that prayer is effective is also silly since the supernatural is not a scientific conclusion.

          If prayer has effects in the natural world, then we can detect those effects. We may not know the cause or it may be determined that it can have psychological effects like placebos. It seems that you really want to believe in the power of prayer but your cognitive dissonance is telling you that any objective investigation will probably dispel the effects of prayer.

          Please tell us what you believe and why you believe it.

        • ClayJames

          It is a way to give the impression that the supernatural is possible without actually stating it. It is an implied false dichotomy.

          I have explicitly stated that I believe that the supernatural exists and that prayer can work.

          If prayer has effects in the natural world, then we can detect those effects. We may not know the cause or it may be determined that it can have psychological effects like placebos.

          And more importantly, which you have failed to accept, the supernatural cannot be a scientific conclusion.

        • adam

          “And more importantly, which you have failed to accept, the supernatural cannot be a scientific conclusion.”

          AGAIN, it doesnt NEED to be to detect the non-effects of praying.

        • MNb

          Adam, you don’t get it. Praying belongs to the supernatural. Human beings belong to our natural reality. Hence human beings cannot pray and thus it’s only to be expected that there are only non-effects!
          What believers call praying is nothing but uttering or thinking some meaningless words.

        • adam

          “I have explicitly stated that I believe that the supernatural exists and that prayer can work.”

          Yes, and The Flying Invisible Pink Unicorn farts glitter when it flies.

        • MNb

          If prayer can work and praying means saying or thinking some words then science should be able to detect it.
          If praying means something supernatural then humans, who with their bodies (including brains and mouthes) belong to our natural reality, are not capable of praying, because they lack the means. Plus “prayer can work” bears no relevance to our natural reality (because science cannot detect it).

        • Greg G.

          I have explicitly stated that I believe that the supernatural exists and that prayer can work.

          OK, I’ll take your word for it. I’ve read many of your posts, but not all, and I may have forgotten if I did read it. I have always had the impression that you believed in the supernatural but you usually seemed coy about it.

          And more importantly, which you have failed to accept, the supernatural cannot be a scientific conclusion.

          Failed to accept? You quoted me in your previous post in this sub-thread as saying, “That is a silly question as the supernatural is defined as being outside what science can test.”

          If something that was thought to be supernatural turned out to be a measurable thing, then it would no longer be considered supernatural, simply because it would no longer fit within that definition.

          If prayers or saying “hocus pocus” and “abracadabra”, objectively affected some physical process when all known forces were accounted for, it would demonstrate that something unknown was going on, even if it was temporarily causing a biased reading at CERN.

        • Pofarmer

          “I think a scientific study regarding prayer cannot conclude that prayer is effective.”

          Then by your own admission, prayer is imaginary. You can study the effects of something, even if you don’t know the cause. That’s how ultraviolet radiation was discovered, for starters.

        • ClayJames

          That doesn´t follow unless you claim that all things that cannot be scientifically proven are imaginary.

          Also, ultraviolet radiation is a naturalistic hypothesis and completely within the
          realm of methodological naturalism. Even if a supernatural cause has a natural effect, science cannot conclude that the cause is supernatural because science assumes methodological naturalism.

        • Pofarmer

          The point was, we can observe an effect, even if we don’t understand the cause. Correct?

        • ClayJames

          Correct and my point is that ¨the cause is supernatural¨ is not scientific conclusion.

        • Pofarmer

          In that case, the scientific cause would be “I don’t know.”

          But that isn’t really even the problem here. The problem is that you can’t even demonstrate and effect to have cause to appeal to.

        • Pofarmer

          “A lot of people have noticed that prayer can be successful. ”

          Uhm, no, a lot of people notice that things they pray for sometimes happen. Also sometimes they don’t. Conformation bias is a documented real thing. The effiacy of ANY prayer is not. I will even gice a caveat that I think that certain types of prayer are effective or helpful, not because of any kind of divine intervention, but because they help in a self actualization kind of way. This kind of praying, much like meditation, can be healthy and helpful. Intercessory prayer though, has never, and IMHO will never, be found to have any effect.

          “Even if prayer does work, your claim of confirmation bias can be used to discount it so even though that is a possible hypothesis, simply asserting it doesnt make it so.”

          Uhm, no. If Prayer “worked” then statistics would bear it out. Confirmation bias in the part of the individual wouldn’t be a factor. That’s what good data is about.

        • your claim that it´s confirmation bias is nothing more that a claim that should be tested or supported.

          OK, but this is simply the null hypothesis. This is where we start. If you want to move off this point and show that prayer actually works, then you have the burden of proof.

          I marvel that you can simultaneously say that prayer works and give caveat after caveat explaining away its lack of efficacy. Looks to me like “prayer doesn’t work” is much easier to defend.

        • ClayJames

          OK, but this is simply the null hypothesis. This is where we start. If you want to move off this point and show that prayer actually works, then you have the burden of proof.

          Correct.

          I marvel that you can simultaneously say that prayer works and give caveat after caveat explaining away its lack of efficacy. Looks to me like “prayer doesn’t work” is much easier to defend.

          Correcting unwarranted characteristics of prayer, starting with the strawman that prayer should always get you what you want, is very different from offering caveats. You only see them as caveats because you truly believe Christians accept that prayer should get them everything that they want.

        • Kodie

          I truly believe that Christians are forced to make excuses why prayer doesn’t seem to do anything.

        • you truly believe Christians accept that prayer should get them everything that they want.

          I assume you’re kidding.

          Everyone knows, Christians included, that prayer to Yahweh/Jesus doesn’t get you everything you want. I’m simply pointing to the elephant in the room, the fact that the Bible says exactly that.

        • ClayJames

          Everyone knows, Christians included, that prayer to Yahweh/Jesus doesn’t get you everything you want. I’m simply pointing to the elephant in the room, the fact that the Bible says exactly that.

          And once again, that elephant in the room is not true, the Bible does not say that prayer gets you everything you want. You can only get to that conclusion by 1) ignoring what the Bible says of prayer as a whole and 2) misinterpreting certain passages without the context that surrounds them.

        • This is news to me.

          Show us. Take the passages that Greg G gave, give us the correct context for each one, and show us that each one unambiguously makes clear the limitations of how prayer works.

          That you’ve not done this so far makes me think that there’s nothing behind your claims. But perhaps you’ll surprise me.

        • Scott_In_OH

          … you truly believe Christians accept that prayer should get them everything that they want.

          No, I believe that for prayer to be called effective, people who pray should get what they want more often than people who don’t, all else being equal.

          Likewise, for Christian prayer to be called effective, Christians who pray humbly to Yahweh could get what they want more often than people who don’t pray or who pray to other gods, all else being equal.

        • ?? He simply suggested that you summarize the problems with the Templeton methodology, outline your superior approach, and encourage Templeton (or someone) to fund this improved study. As Greg G noted, Templeton would be very eager to see positive results. (Kudos to Templeton for being open about their negative test results.)

          You could do that with a comment here, hone it based on feedback, and then ask to do a guest post at some Christian blog.

          Doesn’t sound like that much work, especially if you’re sure prayer works and know how to do a study correctly to show that.

        • Greg G.

          He doesn’t seem to think praying for guidance or assistance would help.

        • But don’t some kinds of prayer work in his mind?

          One Christian cop out is to say that prayer works but it just can’t be tested. I don’t know what that means when translated into reality, but that’s beside the point if Clay is saying that a corrected Templeton methodology would work.

        • Greg G.

          God always answers prayers. Sometimes he says “No way”. Except when it is a rigorous test, then intercessory prayer to God is as effective as praying to a milk carton. He thinks maybe there is just a problem with intercessory prayer.

        • ClayJames

          Bob, I don´t think there is a way to design a prayer experiment that can get us to a scientific conclusion that prayer works. My original response pointed out that the conclusion ¨prayer does not work¨or ¨intercessory prayer does not work¨ does not follow from this Templeton experiment because of it´s faulty methodology. I then stated that a macro approach would be much better, but I still think it would be lacking in trying to prove that prayer does work.

          The problem is that it is impossible to conclude a supernatural cause using the scientific method that assumes methodological naturalism. Even if an experiment shows that prayer works 100% of the time, positing a natural explanation (ie. our minds have the power to naturally influence the outcomes of the universe) is a better scientific explanation than ¨god did it¨, which is not scientific at all and not in the realm of possible explanations.

        • busterggi

          “Bob, I don´t think there is a way to design a prayer experiment that can get us to a scientific conclusion that prayer works. ”

          Oh I dunno. How about all believers pray that all the amputees alive regenerate their missing limbs overnight? It should be pretty clear what the result is the next morning.

        • I don´t think there is a way to design a prayer experiment that can get us to a scientific conclusion that prayer works.

          I’ll agree with you there.

          a macro approach would be much better, but I still think it would be lacking in trying to prove that prayer does work.

          But what do we conclude from this? How is it impossible for a well-designed prayer experiment to show that prayer works but you still claim that it does?

          And this ignores what I and others have mentioned several times already: that the Bible makes clear that prayer does work.

          it is impossible to conclude a supernatural cause using the scientific method that assumes methodological naturalism.

          Why? Given a time machine, couldn’t you find scientific evidence for the walls of Jericho supernaturally falling down or the Israelites supernaturally evading the Egyptians and staying alive in the desert?

          Even if an experiment shows that prayer works 100% of the time, positing a natural explanation (ie. our minds have the power to naturally influence the outcomes of the universe) is a better scientific explanation than ¨god did it¨, which is not scientific at all and not in the realm of possible explanations.

          Hardly. When prayer works 100% of the time when you’re praying to Yahweh, Jesus, or Saint Basil, patron saint of bad hair, but works no better than chance when praying to any other religion’s god(s), doesn’t that tell you something?

        • ClayJames

          But what do we conclude from this? How is it impossible for a well-designed prayer experiment to show that prayer does not works but you still claim that it does?

          First a clarification, I added the ¨does not¨ above because it seems to me that this is what you meant since it would make no sense without it. Let me know if this is correct.

          (Assuming the ¨does not¨) Because I see no reason to accept that beliefs should only be based on what can be scientifically demonstrated. If I accepted this, I would be a naturalist (which would lead to a whole different set of questions), but I am clearly not one.

          And this ignores what I and others have mentioned several times already: that the Bible makes clear that prayer does work.

          It doesn´t and once again, I would be open to looking at specific examples. I offered Mark 11:20-24.

          Why? Given a time machine, couldn’t you find scientific evidence for the walls of Jericho supernaturally falling down or the Israelites supernaturally evading the Egyptians and staying alive in the desert?

          Absolutely not, one can only come to these conclusions if they misunderstood science.

          The stars in the sky could rearrange to say ¨Hi Bob, this is God¨ and the conclusion that this had a supernatural cause is not a scientific conclusion because science assumes methodological naturalism. So as scientists, we would offer natural hypothesis to test (its an optical illusion, you were drugged, this is a rare phenomenon, aliens are trying to communicate with you, etc.) and if we can´t prove these causes then, as scientists, we withold judgement, accept we don´t know and keep testing. ¨The cause is supernatural¨ could be true but it is not a scientific conclusion. Once again, this doesn´t mean that it cannot be held, just that it is not scientific.

          When prayer works 100% of the time when you’re praying to Yahweh, Jesus, or Saint Basil, patron saint of bad hair, but works no better than chance when praying to any other religion’s god(s), doesn’t that tell you something?

          Scientifically, it tells me that there is a cause (my prayer) that is leading to an effect (my hair growing) but science assumes that the cause is natural so we set up predictions and we test them. The conclusion ¨the cause is supernatural¨ is not a scientific conclusion. I find it quiet ironic that I am the one defending the scientific assumption of methodological naturalism.

        • I see no reason to accept that beliefs should only be based on what can be scientifically demonstrated.

          So you’re OK believing things that science shows are false or that science says you have no evidence to support?

          Yet again you declare that my interpretation of God as a wish-granting genie is false, according to the Bible. I await the evidence.

          It doesn´t and once again, I would be open to looking at specific examples. I offered Mark 11:20-24.

          Sure, that would be one to start with. Just don’t forget to address the other places as well.

          “Why? Given a time machine, couldn’t you find scientific evidence for the walls of Jericho supernaturally falling down or the Israelites supernaturally evading the Egyptians and staying alive in the desert?”

          Absolutely not, one can only come to these conclusions if they misunderstood science.

          So the walls of Jericho did just fall down for no natural reason, but if you were there with a team of videographers, geologists, and anyone else you wanted to capture the evidence, you would come back empty handed? Why is that?

          The stars in the sky could rearrange to say ¨Hi Bob, this is God¨ and the conclusion that this had a supernatural cause is not a scientific conclusion because science assumes methodological naturalism.

          The scientists could say that no natural explanation seems plausible. They might even prove that any or all possible natural explanations are impossible—that baring new scientific laws being discovered (possible, of course), this had to be supernatural.

          Science never says that anything is proven, but this would be far, far more evidence than anything that Christians can point to now.

          ¨The cause is supernatural¨ could be true but it is not a scientific conclusion. Once again, this doesn´t mean that it cannot be held, just that it is not scientific.

          Sounds right to me. Again, this would be immensely more evidence than Christians have now. By comparison, what Christians point to is unworthy of supporting any supernatural beliefs.

          Scientifically, it tells me that there is a cause (my prayer) that is leading to an effect (my hair growing) but science assumes that the cause is natural so we set up predictions and we test them.

          And what does science say when praying to St. Basil gives consistent results but praying to Kali gives chance results?

        • ClayJames

          So you’re OK believing things that science shows are false or that science says you have no evidence to support?

          I am not ok believing things that science shows are false but I am ok believing in supernatural things that science cannot support because science assumes methodological naturalism.

          So the walls of Jericho did just fall down for no natural reason, but if you were there with a team of videographers, geologists, and anyone else you wanted to capture the evidence, you would come back empty handed? Why is that?

          Because, for the fifth time, science assumes methodological naturalism so ¨the supernatural did it¨ is not a scientific conclusion (even if the supernatural did do it). Do you deny that science
          assumes methodological naturalism? If you don´t deny this, what does methodological naturalism mean?

          The scientists could say that no natural explanation seems plausible. They might even prove that any or all possible natural explanations are impossible—that baring new scientific laws being discovered (possible, of course), this had to be supernatural.

          A scientist would never claim that something had to be supernatural because no natural explanation can be found. How is this is not the God of the Gaps?

          And what does science say when praying to St. Basil gives consistent results but praying to Kali gives chance results?

          Like I said, we set up natural predictions and test them. A scientist might first look at the type of people that pray for one vs. the other or if he controls for that, wether we view St. Basil different
          than Kali or if he controls for that, that holding a certain thought about St. Basil yields different results than Kali. But even if we cannot come to a natural conclusion, we withold judgment and keep testing. The supernatural did it, is not a scientific conclusion.

        • The prayers of the study are supposed to be in prayer’s wheelhouse. However, practically everything that is in prayer’s wheelhouse also happen to in confirmation bias’ wheelhouse.

          Nicely stated.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I think it would have been better if I had put the word “be” after the last “to”.

        • Pofarmer

          “believers accept that god has other plans outside of what they ask for and that they do not always get what ”

          Which really renders prayer-moot.

          “Think about what Rick said:

          He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, “You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” [Psalm 139:16]
          Rick also says:
          God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
          If God has a divine plan for each of us, then he had a divine plan for Hitler too. It is when you stop to think about it deeply that the contradictions hit you.
          Now let’s imagine that you say a prayer in this sort of universe. What difference does it make? God has his plan, and that plan is running down its track like a freight train. If God has a plan, then everyone who died in the Holocaust died for a reason. They had to die, and each death had meaning. Therefore, Holocaust victims could pray all day, and they would still die. The idea of a “plan” makes the idea of a “prayer-answering relationship with God” a contradiction, doesn’t it? Yet Christians seem to attach themselves to both ideas, despite the irresolvable problem the two ideas create.”

          Rick is Rick Warren

          Godisimaginary.com

        • Which really renders prayer-moot.

          Since God knows what’s best for us and won’t change his perfect plan based on our pathetic input, why pray at all?

        • So if someone asks god for a squared circle then they should receive it?

          Don’t complain to me—I didn’t write the New Testament.

          The analogy to a loan officer has nothing to do with how powerful they are

          As I made clear in my analysis. God is perfect while your loan officer isn’t.

          First, it has to do with the erroneous idea that for a prayer to work it must work 100% of the time.

          Then what does “prayer works” mean?

          When I say my car works, that means that it works all the time. On those rare occasional when it doesn’t, that’s “not working.” I’d assume that something God-given would work at least as well as that.

          Asking for a loan does work in getting that loan, but it doesn´t work 100% of the time.

          Correct. And the Bible makes clear that this is no parallel with how prayer works. I’m sure you’ve read Jesus’s claims about prayer?

          If your goal is to show that god does not always give people what they want, then I believe with you, but so do most Christians and theists in general. I fail to see the point in stating the obvious.

          I wish you would state the obvious: the grand claims made about prayer in the New Testament don’t hold up. Jesus was lying … or maybe he or his magical powers were made up, too.

          when in the garden of Gethsemane he specifically asks God to save him from his pending crucifixion and God decides to not grant his wish, which he then accepts.

          Jesus praying in Gethsemane isn’t a point you should be reminding us about. The second person of the Trinity® is asking that the divine plan be subverted?? He’s having cold feet halfway through his own plan? That’s not what perfect gods do. Sounds just a wee bit adoptionistic if you ask me.

          If you want to analyze the prayer, Jesus does indeed pray like modern Christians: “God, it’d be swell if I got X, but if you think that’s inappropriate, that’s cool, too.”

        • ClayJames

          As I made clear in my analysis. God is perfect while your loan officer isn’t.

          God is also immaterial and the loan officer is material, but the again this difference does not invalidate the analogy. If you think that God´s perfection or omnipotence invalidates the analogy I gave, then you do not understand the analogy.

          Then what does “prayer works” mean?

          Similar to the loan analogy, in this context, for prayer to work it must increase your chance of getting what you want.

          Correct. And the Bible makes clear that this is no parallel with how prayer works. I’m sure you’ve read Jesus’s claims about prayer?

          I disagree, I think that the Bible (and also tradition) makes it clear that this is how prayer works.

          Jesus praying in Gethsemane isn’t a point you should be reminding us about. The second person of the Trinity® is asking that the divine plan be subverted?? He’s having cold feet halfway through his own plan? That’s not what perfect gods do. Sounds just a wee bit adoptionistic if you ask me.

          That is not how the Trinity is understood. If you are going to take this ignorant view of the Trinity then forget prayer, just point out that Jesus died and say that that´s not what perfect gods do.

          If you want to analyze the prayer, Jesus does indeed pray like modern Christians: “God, it’d be swell if I got X, but if you think that’s inappropriate, that’s cool, too.”

          But didn´t you just say that this is not how prayer works in the Bible? That according to the Bible, God gives people what they want regardless of his will?

        • No, I don’t understand the analogy. Sure, an analogy won’t parallel every aspect of what it’s being compared against, but the imperfection of the loan officer (and my loan application) is very relevant to my not getting the loan every time.

          for prayer to work it must increase your chance of getting what you want.

          “Increase your chances”?? That’s quite surprising. I don’t remember Jesus saying, “Ask, and you will increase your chances of getting what you want.” There are half a dozen places in the NT where prayer is pretty much guaranteed. I encourage you to support your interpretation of prayer, not with reality, but with Bible verses.

          That is not how the Trinity is understood. [You have an] ignorant view of the Trinity

          Then explain it to me. The adoptionistic view explains this beautifully. Show me how the Trinity view does a better job.

          But didn´t you just say that this is not how prayer works in the Bible?

          Correct.

        • Kodie

          Prayer to god is as superstitious as making a wish on a dandelion or a birthday cake. You want what you wish for, and it may or may not happen based on some quality of you or your wish that may appeal arbitrarily to some immaterial mafia lord. Maybe he likes your face, maybe you did the dishes before you were asked, maybe you regularly volunteer at a soup kitchen. You don’t know what will or won’t appeal to this being, you just wish his plan includes whatever outcome you wish for. When it happens, he likes you, and when it doesn’t happen, it must be your own suffering or deprivation that serves some larger plan, like, it is important for you to suffer or be deprived of some outcome in order for a garden to make someone smile on the other side of the world, OR you did something wrong, you messed up, you made a small but selfish error that cost you the outcome you wished. Should have acted on your charitable impulses more often? This is why people make bargains to god when they think they’re going to die. This is, in fact, why Cat Stevens isn’t Cat Stevens anymore. Riptide. Bargain with Allah.

          Loan applications – you have spending habits, credit history, income requirements. You either meet the bank’s qualifications to be offered a loan, or you don’t. There are things you can do to increase your chances, none of which are prayer. Sometimes, you have to plan far ahead. Young people fuck up their credit really easily, and down the road, can’t borrow money from the bank to buy a house, for example. The loan officer can tell you exactly what you did so you can’t qualify for a loan, and a credit counselor can tell you what you need to do to increase your chances to qualify some other day. Everyone knows or can know exactly how this works. It’s not because your family grew up to the loan officer’s family growing up, it’s not because you wore your lucky yellow socks, it’s not because you brought a muffin basket to your meeting at the bank, and it’s not because you worship the loan officer and have made him your new cult leader.

        • After burrowing through psychics predictions lately, I notice that the predictions aren’t usually very surprising. They’re often of the form, “In the election between X and Y, X will win.”

          And that’s how prayers often work. “Please get me that promotion,” for example. If you’re a qualified candidate for the job, it wouldn’t be all that miraculous if you actually got it. That means lots of hits in the prayer scorecard.

        • ClayJames

          Sure, an analogy won’t parallel every aspect of what it’s being compared
          against, but the imperfection of the loan officer (and my loan
          application) is very relevant to my not getting the loan every time.

          You are not getting the loan not because the loan office is imperfect but because the loan officer has other desires that are inconsistent with you getting that loan. Whether he is perfect or not is completely irrelevant. Similarly, God decides not to give someone a loan because doing so would be against his will. This is what the analogy is trying to comunicate and I fail to see what perfection has anything to do with this.

          There are half a dozen places in the NT where prayer is pretty much guaranteed.

          I would say this is not the case if you read those verses in context and considering other references to prayer. Mark 11:24 comes to mind, but one could only make the conclusion you are making by not taking a holistic approach to this passage.

          Then explain it to me. The adoptionistic view explains this beautifully. Show me how the Trinity view does a better job.

          Did Jesus poop? Most people would say that he did along with experiencing many other human conditions that are clearly not divine. So while most hold that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, this does not mean that he did not experience exclusively human and exclusively divine conditions. There is nothing human about raising someone from the dead and there is nothing divine about feeling hunger, thirst and fear. It is in this human condition that Jesus prayed to be saved (no pun intended) from the crucifixion and to say that a divine god would not say this, misses the point.

        • Kodie

          It’s awfully common to want something that isn’t so, and reasonable to get that outcome a statistical amount of the time, depending on what it is and the probability of it happening, not who you are and what offerings you’ve given, and no greater plan is evident. It’s a story, a superstition. It’s not because you prayed, it’s not because you were a good person. What “plan” is there that you assume is divine and intentional? Bad people get what they want, and good people suffer, and then you have to adjust the “no” answer to your prayer as to be part of some greater “plan”. Rationalizing that YOU are a specific part of that plan because you don’t always get what you want, because “god is not a vending machine”, that the whole universe hinges on whether you, specifically, don’t recover from cancer, or you lost a child, or you won an award, or you found someone who would marry you, or you didn’t get the loan you applied for, or any of this other NATURAL bullshit, you think is part of a huge divine “plan”. You might pray and you might get the outcome you desire, but the part where you think whatever happens to you has to happen as part of a huge plot that must happen in the universe in order for god’s work to be accomplished. Puh. leeze. But it’s not for you to know what that plan is, because who could guess why? It’s not really that hard to figure it out.

          By contrast, loan officers exist, and you can get what you want, no matter who you are, if you are qualified to their specifications to run the business of their bank. If you know what those qualifications are, you can easily know the “plan” and get your financials in order to achieve the outcome you want.

        • You are not getting the loan not because the loan office is imperfect but because the loan officer has other desires that are inconsistent with you getting that loan. Whether he is perfect or not is completely irrelevant.

          Then let’s make it my analogy.

          Let me explain my analogy. Notice how all sorts of imperfections can make you not get the loan. The loan officer could be cranky, not like your appearance, or be given some sort of new rule that makes it unfairly harder for your type of loan to go through (bank funds are limited, after all). Or maybe you have bad credit history, your house isn’t a great investment, or whatever.

          Now, contrast that with God, who has no limit on his favors, never gets tired or cranky, and would never be biased against you because of racism, sexism, etc. This is the bin that prayer is in. We know that because that’s what the Bible says.

          I’m surprised that you haven’t given us a survey of the handful of places in the New Testament where prayer’s power is mentioned. Isn’t that the place to look?

          Similarly, God decides not to give someone a loan because doing so would be against his will.

          God doesn’t not give “loans”!

          “Ask and ye shall receive,” remember?

          I would say this is not the case if you read those verses in context and considering other references to prayer. Mark 11:24 comes to mind, but one could only make the conclusion you are making by not taking a holistic approach to this passage.

          “Holistic” meaning taking into account the fact that we try prayer and it doesn’t work? OK, but I don’t think that’s being honest to the Bible.

          Give the New Testament to a non-Christian scholar. A Muslim scholar, say—he wouldn’t have any objection to the supernatural. Ask him to give an honest summary of what the New Testament says about prayer. You’re seriously telling me that he would say what you’re saying here, that prayer works only intermittently?

          It is in this human condition that Jesus prayed to be saved (no pun intended) from the crucifixion and to say that a divine god would not say this, misses the point.

          So Jesus was just 10% wiser than the next-wisest man on earth, say. Is that right? He had the confidence that he was, in fact, the second person of the Trinity but very little to show for it. He could only do C-level magic tricks, he was wise for a human but pathetic for a god, and so on. Is that it?

          That’s certainly one interpretation, though I wonder if that’s heretical. I don’t know that you have much to back you up compared to the person who says that Jesus was 100% god (perfectly wise, omnipotent, etc.).

        • ClayJames

          Then let’s make it my analogy.

          If that is your analogy, then it is a faulty analogy since if a loan officer does not grant you a loan because of racism, sexism or some other type of bias then that would not apply to God. But who is making the argument that God does not give people what they want because of these reasons or that in my analogy the loan office is not giving the loan because of these same reasons?

          I’m surprised that you haven’t given us a survey of the handful of places in the New Testament where prayer’s power is mentioned. Isn’t that the place to look?

          Look at one of Greg´s last posts, he gave several. I also gave you Mark 11:20-26, would you like to analyze that specific example?

          “Holistic” meaning taking into account the fact that we try prayer and it doesn’t work? OK, but I don’t think that’s being honest to the Bible.

          No, holistic within the Bible itself. You also bring tradition into this, but I don´t think that is necessary. If you were to take a full view of the Gospels and take Jesus´ claims about prayer in context instead of just quoting 5 words.

          “Ask and ye shall receive,” remember?

          See above.

          Give the New Testament to a non-Christian scholar. A Muslim scholar, say—he wouldn’t have any objection to the supernatural. Ask him to give an honest summary of what the New Testament says about prayer. You’re seriously telling me that he would say what you’re saying here, that prayer works only intermittently?

          Why does this even matter? First of all, analyzing what Jesus actually said about prayer does not require you to believe he is God or that he was right about what he said but I would say that most muslim scholars would agree with what Jesus meant when speaking about prayer (afterall, he is a prophet).

          But even if they disagreed, so what? Jesus either meant X or not X and whether someone that shares similar views regarding the supernatural agrees or not says nothing about what he actually meant so I fail to see your point. At the most, this shows that Jesus did not speak at a 1st grade reading level so that it is painfully 100% clear to everyone what he meant, but I don´t see how this is a prerequisite.

          So Jesus was just 10% wiser than the next-wisest man on earth, say. Is that right? He had the confidence that he was, in fact, the second person of the Trinity but very little to show for it. He could only do C-level magic tricks, he was wise for a human but pathetic for a god, and so on. Is that it?

          Are you seriously asking or are you trying to be witty? I can´t tell if this is truly the view of the trinity that you are trying to refute. Because if that is truly the interpretation that you are trying to argue against then you have no understanding of what most Chrisitian denominations believe about the Trinity.

        • If that is your analogy, then it is a faulty analogy since if a loan officer does not grant you a loan because of racism, sexism or some other type of bias then that would not apply to God.

          Yes, that’s my point. The analogy is indeed faulty.

          Look at one of Greg´s last posts, he gave several. I also gave you Mark 11:20-26, would you like to analyze that specific example?

          For starters, sure. Is this one that you can spin in a positive direction? My goal is to see you show that each of the half-dozen or so places where prayer is mentioned consistently make clear that God is not a genie, granting everything that’s asked of him.

          Go.

          You also bring tradition into this, but I don´t think that is necessary.

          Good. I want to see the clear message from the Bible, unsullied with tradition or reality.

          If you were to take a full view of the Gospels and take Jesus´ claims about prayer in context instead of just quoting 5 words.

          Stop the throat clearing. Show us.

          Why does this even matter?

          Are you an unbiased scholar who will happily follow the plain reading of the Bible, regardless? I doubt it. That’s why I propose an imaginary independent scholar to evaluate it.

          Personally, this all seems to me to be pretty easy to interpret myself. I don’t know why all the rigmarole … unless this is just tap dancing on your part.

          analyzing what Jesus actually said about prayer does not require you to believe he is God or that he was right about what he said

          Of course. I’m simply trying to see what the Bible actually says. You seem to be setting up a smoke screen to prevent our reading the Bible at face value.

          Jesus either meant X or not X and whether someone that shares similar views regarding the supernatural agrees or not says nothing about what he actually meant so I fail to see your point.

          “What Jesus meant” may be our goal, but we don’t have access to that. All we have is the Bible. Just read the frikkin’ Bible and tell me that the Bible is unambiguous in stating that God/Jesus isn’t a wish-granting genie.

          Are you seriously asking or are you trying to be witty?

          Sure, that’s stupid, but don’t blame me. You’re the one who’s trying to say that Jesus was a man, not a god when he begged God to “remove this cup.”

          You say that Jesus was fully part of the Trinity when he was here on earth? Fine—that’s all I was saying when you slapped my wrist. In that case, Jesus begging God makes zero sense.

        • ClayJames

          Yes, that’s my point. The analogy is indeed faulty.

          Yes, your analogy is faulty but mine is not because human imperfections have nothing to do with my analogy. Once again, you are giving a difference without a distinction.

          For starters, sure. Is this one that you can spin in a positive direction? My goal is to see you show that each of the half-dozen or so places where prayer is mentioned consistently make clear that God is not a genie, granting everything that’s asked of him.

          I wouldn´t call it spinning, I would say it is interpreting the text within the context instead of just having the literal interpretation of a first grader. I am guessing you weren´t a fan of literary
          analysis clases in high school.

          Regarding the Mark passage, along with some of the other passages regarding prayer, I recomend John Piper´s analysis: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/what-do-answers-to-prayer-depend-on-part-2 . When I have time, I´ll try to cover the other ones.

          Are you an unbiased scholar who will happily follow the plain reading of the Bible, regardless? I doubt it. That’s why I propose an imaginary independent scholar to evaluate it.

          Personally, this all seems to me to be pretty easy to interpret myself.

          Are you an unbiased scholar who will happily follow the valid interpretation of the Bible, regardless? I doubt it.

          We can play this silly irrelevant game all day.

          Sure, that’s stupid, but don’t blame me. You’re the one who’s trying to say that Jesus was a man, not a god when he begged God to “remove this cup.”

          How do the ¨witty¨ things you said about the
          trinity, follow from what I say? They don´t follow at all.

        • We can play this silly irrelevant game all day.

          The “silly irrelevant game” we’re playing is where I demand support for your claim that the Bible contains a single, consistent message that prayer works as we see it in daily life (rather than what it literally says, that you get what you ask for) and you respond with deepities. As you imply, this is tedious.

          When you want to actually answer the question, let me know.

        • ClayJames

          The ¨silly irrelevant game¨ was refering to your ad hominem that because I can´t possibly be unbaised, that therefore my interpretation of the Bible cannot be valid, and at the same time saying that ¨this all seems to me to be pretty easy to interpret myself¨ when this same criticism can easily apply to you. All of this was preceded by a silly muslim thought experiment that doesn´t even prove your point. You keep confusing lines of conversation.

          I also did give you an answer to the Mark 11 passage in the very post you responded to but, for some reason, you chose to ignore. I would be interested to read your response.

        • refering to your ad hominem that because I can´t possibly be unbaised

          Not what I said. If you want to complain about what I actually said, that’d be fine.

          this same criticism can easily apply to you.

          Yes, it can.

          All of this was preceded by a silly muslim thought experiment that doesn´t even prove your point.

          Huh? What point did you think I was trying to prove? My goal was to try evaluate the New Testament’s claims about prayer honestly, without using people like you and me who you say are biased.

          I’ll double down on my “silly thought experiment.” Here it is again: “Give the New Testament to a non-Christian scholar. A Muslim scholar, say—he wouldn’t have any objection to the supernatural. Ask him to give an honest summary of what the New Testament says about prayer. You’re seriously telling me that he would say what you’re saying here, that prayer works only intermittently?”

          Making it a Muslim helps you out because we’re using someone who has no problem with the supernatural.

          I also did give you an answer to the Mark 11 passage in the very post you responded to but, for some reason, you chose to ignore.

          You mean this: “Regarding the Mark passage, along with some of the other passages regarding prayer, I recomend John Piper´s analysis: http://www.desiringgod.org/mes… ”?

          Give me the CliffsNotes version.

        • Greg G.

          Piper’s analysis is apologetic excuses for why prayer fails where he cites other verses with the excuses already built in. For example:

          James 4:2b-3 (NRSV)2b You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.

          He re-translates the words so that “whatever” doesn’t mean “whatever” but “whatever (with restrictions)”.

          So, prayer is a game where you try to guess what is going to happen anyway and pretend it is your understanding of God’s will when confirmation bias kicks in on a hit while dismissing the misses as still in contention until you forget them completely.

        • The analysis of prayer that makes the most sense of me is that it should simply be, “God, please align my desires with yours.” That’s very different from what the New Testament says, but at least it comports with reality.

        • Greg G.

          That person’s God just ends up agreeing with that person’s desires.

        • I don’t think it imagines God changing.

          If you read what the Bible actually says about prayer, you’ll be disappointed when it doesn’t work that way in practice. But that disappointment goes away if you ask God to change your desires to his desires and (far more important) you just satisfy yourself with prayer not working as advertised. At all.

        • Greg G.

          No, it’s the believers’ God who exists in their mind that changes as the believers’ attitudes evolve through their lifetimes.

        • Scott_In_OH

          There’s definitely some of that (couched, of course, in the language of God “further revealing Himself,” not actually changing), but it’s also the case that people change their own minds and behavior to comport with their understanding of what God wants.

          One place we see this is in de-conversion stories: “I spent years trying to do what God wanted and feeling horrible that I couldn’t do it. When I finally realized I was trying to please a non-entity and had to figure out what was right and wrong on my own, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.”

          There are plenty of well-intentioned people who remain in their religion and keep trying to change to meet God’s desires.

        • adam

          “That person’s God just ends up agreeing with that person’s desires.”

          There is no other way for Revealed ReligionTM to work.

        • Scott_In_OH

          It’s also largely what I was taught, at least by the time I became a young adult. God-as-wish-granter was seen as childish, and prayer was about changing your own mind (or “heart,” in the lingo), not about arguing with God.

          (I’ve still never really comprehended the Jewish understanding that arguing with God successfully is possible. It clearly happens in the Old Testament, but I’m not sure how that’s explained in the theology. A couple of people have tried to explain it to me, but it’s never stuck.)

        • A couple of people have tried to explain it to me, but it’s never stuck.

          Faith, my brother! There’s no problem that a little more faith can’t solve.

        • Greg G.

          Confirmation bias works on arguing with God, too.

        • MNb

          “(or “heart,” in the lingo),”
          It’s language like this that shows how full of superstition christianity is. Not so long ago people thought that emotions resided in the heart indeed. It probably is not an original christian thought, but it’s telling that christianity never was able to correct this error.
          Since we know that emotions reside in the brain “praying to change hearts” is totally meaningless, a remnant of backward times. So it suggests that praying is a backward activity as well in my secular eyes.

        • Greg G.

          TruthSurge did a YouTube video or two a few months ago about how heart and kidneys are used in the Bible when they should have said brains. He showed how this thinking goes back to the Egyptians. He showed how modern scholars say that “heart” and “kidneys” were used as metaphors but TS showed that it wasn’t as that is where they thought they were thinking from. The KJV translated it as “reins” which is related to the kidney related adjective “renal”. Modern translations, like the NRSV and NIV, use “brains”.

          Revelation 2:23 is only verse in New Testament that mentions kidneys, in a paraphrase from Jeremiah 17:10. It uses the Greek word “nephros”.

        • MR

          Another Egyptian link. Thanks.

        • MNb

          Oh, that’s a safe bet – together with links to Babylonia, Assyria and Greece. There was a lot of exchange of ideas going on in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

        • MR

          Oh, God just likes to argue for fun. He loves playing the devil’s advocate.

        • Greg G.

          I started laughing as soon as I saw it in the Recent Comments.

        • Pofarmer

          First off, the OT God is not the Tri-omni God of the NT.

        • Greg G.

          I have found a supernatural power of my own. Homemade brownies never get stale when I am around. You can’t explain that!

        • Nor can I explain how the tide goes in and out. Bill O’Reilly continues to outsmarted me.

        • ClayJames

          I’ll double down on my “silly thought experiment.” Here it is again: “Give the New Testament to a non-Christian scholar. A Muslim scholar, say—he wouldn’t have any objection to the supernatural. Ask him to give an honest summary of what the New Testament says about prayer. You’re seriously telling me that he would say what you’re saying here, that prayer works only intermittently?”

          Making it a Muslim helps you out because we’re using someone who has no problem with the supernatural.

          And my answer to this irrelevant thought experiment is still the same:

          1. I think most Muslim scholars would accept the interpretation of prayer that I am defending over the simplistic literal interpretation that you are, specifically because this idea of prayer is not inconsistent with Muslim teaching.

          2. Who cares? You are simply offering a type of argumentum ad populum, which is a very basic logical fallacy. What a certain group of people believe about a certain issue says nothing about the reality of that issue. Forget Muslims, even if there are Christians that accept your interpretation of prayer, it does nothing to further your cause.

          Give me the CliffsNotes version.

          That is the CliffsNotes version. Considering there are books and entire courses of biblical scholarship focused exclusively on the four gospels, a 10 minute read is the CliffsNotes.

        • And my answer to this irrelevant thought experiment is still the same:

          I’m trying to find an honest and unbiased way to interpret the Bible, and that’s irrelevant? Fascinating.

          Who cares? You are simply offering a type of argumentum ad populum, which is a very basic logical fallacy.

          Wrong again. Finding an unbiased observer through a thought experiment is used in lots of fields. In law, for example: “Would a sensible person think that this action crossed the line?”

          I presume you’d rather nitpick my thought experiment because actually defending the Bible is beyond you. Still, that’s where I’d prefer the conversation go.

          That is the CliffsNotes version.

          “Go read this article; I can’t bother to summarize”? You can’t do better?

        • adam

          “God is also immaterial IMAGINARY and the loan officer is material,”

          ftfy

        • MR

          It’s kind of like how your individual vote doesn’t matter, Bob. Just another drop in the bucket. Why even bother praying?

          For me, the conclusion seems to match reality as I see it. People who pray don’t seem to get what they want any more or less than anyone else. People who pray seem to latch on to the slightest indication as a sign that it worked (“I prayed for a cure for Uncle Jim’s cancer and, hallelujah!, he was up to eating solids last I saw him!”), and to ignore indications that it didn’t (“Uncle Jim died, God said it was his time. Hallelujah!”). They’re going to believe what they want and ignore evidence to the contrary.

          The experiment shows that prayer didn’t work at a level that most people think it should: that individual prayers make a difference. Not happy with the results and want to take it to another level, great, I eagerly await the research. But I doubt there would be this much push back on the results if we were talking about the efficacy of magic, or channeling positive energies or crystals or something. To me this argument is just another form of god of the gaps.

        • How can we then conclude that intercessory prayer has no effect when everyone is receiving it

          What Greg said. But clarify your point for me. How do you propose to salvage any value from prayer? Tell me how prayer could “work” given Templeton.

        • ClayJames

          I think Greg’s point is invalid for the reason stated in my response to him.

          The Templeton experiment is badly designed and has an admittedly polluted control group. Given Templeton, prayer could “work” by lowering the complication rate of people who received prayer (admittedly all 3 groups) over those that didn’t (no such groups in this experiment).

        • Adam

          But, science and logic and reason. That study confirms my personal bias!
          http://www.weeklysouthernarts.com/uploads/5/7/5/5/5755954/1513584.jpg?1349369708

        • As I remember it, the 3 groups were prayed for and knew it, prayed for and didn’t know it, and not prayed for.

          I’ll grant you that people in all 3 groups were, in addition, prayed for by people not participating in the study. Are you arguing that that is the far stronger signal, with the additional prayer power contributed by the Templeton participants being insignificant?

          If not, then I’m not seeing the problem. The polluting effect by the additional prayers is evened out by the law of large numbers. Every ill person in the study was equally likely to get (or not) additional prayers.

        • ClayJames

          Like I said in my first comment, at the most, this study shows that this mechanic intercessory prayer from strangers (that called the prayer requirements given to them as ¨strange¨) does not work.

          I am not trying to argue anything. I am simply pointing to the fact that the claim that ¨prayer does not work ¨ or ¨intercessory prayer does not work¨is not a sound conclusion given the experiment provided. So yes, this study does not control for other types of prayer that could be far stronger signals than the prayer type measured.

        • Pofarmer

          And yet, this is the most rigorous attempt at a study to date. It was organized by a Catholic Priest, and one of the prayer groups was a group of Nuns. They didn’t have a specific group that excluded all prayer because they thought that would be “immoral” if I remember correctly. That’s how sure they were that they would get positive results. Here’s my prediction-other rigorous studies of proper design will show the same thing.

        • Greg G.

          I recall that they didn’t have a fourth group that was told they were being prayed for but were not because it would immoral. They still had a control group to give a baseline.

        • Pofarmer

          You are correct. I’m Misrembered

          I remember reading an article or something that came from the organizer from the study, who, when initial results were coming in, was all excited because it looked like things were coming in positive, then, by the time they got all the data in it was way far inside the margin of error.
          In a similar vein, my youngest son missplaced an ipad the other day. My wife was praying to St. Anthony and when they had turned the house upside down and hadn’t found it she told the bous that “St. anthony just hadn’t found it yet”. Which, of course, you still find it. Nit St. Anthony is supposed to guide your hand, or something. It’s a great example of how to set up an unfalsifiable prayer paradigm. I actually found it the next day by looking closely in all the places he normally leaves it. It had fallen between the box springs and bedframe on our bed, and wasn’t immediately visible just looking behind the mattress, even with a light. So either St. Anthony guided my hand or I beat the ole saint.

        • ClayJames

          I don´t see how this being the most rigorous attempt at a prayer study or the fact that it was organized by a Catholic priest or a group of Nuns does anything to hide its short comings.

          A badly designed experiment that leads to the unwarranted conclusion that intercessory prayer works should be called out for its shortcomings.

          This also means that a badly designed experiment that is used by many people to conclude that intercessory prayer does not work, should also be called out for its shortcoming, whether it is designed by the Pope or Richard Dawkins.

          Your hypothesis, that other rigourous studies properly designed would show that prayer does not work, is a great place to start and the next step would be to test this prediction.

        • MR

          Your hypothesis, that other rigourous studies properly designed would show that prayer does not work, is a great place to start and the next step would be to test this prediction.

          The studies he refers to are to show that prayer does work. His prediction is that they will fail.

        • Pofarmer

          Why do I think that if had gotten positive results it would have been the moat well designed study ever? It it is “badly designed” it’s badly designed because of the prejudices of it’s designers. The fact of the matter is, it’s the most well designed study of it’s type to date.

        • A badly designed experiment that leads to the unwarranted conclusion that intercessory prayer works should be called out for its shortcomings.

          You might want to identify and criticize those so we can see your consistency.

          If the Templeton study had gone your way, I wonder if you’d be warning us to reject it because of its flaws.

          Your hypothesis, that other rigourous studies properly designed would show that prayer does not work, is a great place to start and the next step would be to test this prediction.

          It’s a $2M study that went completely against you. I’m afraid your rejection looks like an attempt at pressing the reset button so you can go back to hoping that the next study will prove prayer for you.

          As a meta comment, think about what you’re saying. The claim “prayer works” is obviously wrong, and only redefinitions of “works” lets you pretend that your hypothesis is still in contention. Consider the half-dozen places in the New Testament where God is described as, yes, a genie who grants your wishes. You’re being dishonest to the Bible if you reinterpret prayer’s efficacy to the lukewarm version you’ve adopted.

        • ClayJames

          If the Templeton study had gone your way, I wonder if you’d be warning us to reject it because of its flaws.

          Based on what? Or are you just showing contempt? I could be as pejorative in saying that you would take a much more rigorous look at this experiment if it came to the opposite conclusion but I chose to give you the benefit of the doubt.

        • Dys

          I don’t put much stock in the studies on prayer, because there’s always going to be uncontrollable variables that will allow excuses to be made as to why prayer didn’t work.

        • You’re arguing that there was additional unaccounted-for prayer happening but that there were still complications? How does this support your hypothesis that prayer works if this is simply yet more prayer that didn’t achieve the prayed-for goal?

        • ClayJames

          Because, prayer can work without doing so 100% of the time.

        • Then you need to edit your Bible. We get this from practice, not from the Bible.

          I’d have thought that the Bible was the ultimate reliable source, not pathetic human interpretation, no?

        • ClayJames

          I’d have thought that the Bible was the ultimate reliable source, not pathetic human interpretation, no?

          Who told you that? And even if it were true, how are those two mutually exclusive?

        • Good point–“The Bible says X” is inherently subjective. We can’t get away from human interpretation.

          Nevertheless, my point stands. You say (and experience says) that praying to God is no more reliable than praying to a jug of milk. Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t. Often you get a comforting feeling when you pray to God, but if you believed that the jug of milk were magical, you’d feel the same about it.

          The Bible is pretty clear that prayer is reliable, like a car or the lights in your house.

        • ClayJames

          Nevertheless, my point stands. You say (and experience says) that
          praying to God is no more reliable than praying to a jug of milk.
          Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t. Often you get a
          comforting feeling when you pray to God, but if you believed that the
          jug of milk were magical, you’d feel the same about it.

          This is not at all what I have said. I haven´t even said anything about feeling comfort when praying.

        • adam

          “Because, prayer can work without doing so 100% of the time.”

          So you can demonstrate this?

          If it ‘works’ as the same rate of natural means, THAT means it doesnt ‘work’.

        • adam

          ” Given Templeton, prayer could “work” by lowering the complication rate
          of people who received prayer (admittedly all 3 groups) over those that
          didn’t (no such groups in this experiment).”

          So it OBVIOUSLY doesn’t ‘work’ if all it ever does is ‘lower the complication rate’.

          Who is praying to ‘lower the complication rate’?

    • Golf Pro

      First, if you believe that human beings have telepathic powers and second, the power is somehow analogous to microwave energy, what controls would be sufficient in the experiment to matter on the outcome?

      • ClayJames

        Could you explain what this has to do with my question regarding how we can know that the control group is in fact not receiving intercessory prayer from other people outside of the experiment?

        • adam

          “Could you explain what this has to do with my question regarding how we
          can know that the control group is in fact not receiving intercessory
          prayer from other people outside of the experiment?”

          For the sake of argument, let’s SAY they were….
          IF this is the best you get out of prayer, then OBVIOUSLY ineffective.

  • Michael Pinecone

    If I didn’t have evidence for God, I’d be an atheist. If prayer didn’t work for me, I’d stop praying. Interesting piece. Somebody challenged me to read it. Thanks for sharing your beliefs and opinions.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    You could park a tardis and record every fucking moment from say 100bc to 100ad showing that this Jesus person never existed, and it would STILL not stop these people.

  • Agabu Ndhlovu

    Yes! Demonstrating with reasonably good evidence that Jesus didn’t in fact rise from the dead. We have the life of Jesus preserved in the Gospels. Show that they are cleverly invented stories with no real substance to them through careful analysis and criticism of their contents. We have the origins of the Church preserved in Acts. Show the lack of continuity in history down to our own time as to what Christian churches have been organized around as per Acts 2:42 in the practice of their faith. We have the teaching of Jesus that is meant to regulate the community of believers preserved in the Epistles. Show us where Christians are ever encouraged to do evil in this life to anyone or any institution. We have the prophecy of Christ’s exaltation in heavenly glory after being raised from the dead attested to in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD as per Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 and substantially expanded on in the book of Revelation. Show us how Jesus prophecy failed with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. Do these things, you can at the very least change my mind.

    • The burden of proof for the remarkable claims (Jesus rose from the dead, etc.) is on the Christian’s shoulders.

      I don’t argue that they’re cleverly invented stories (it’s Christians who say that, not atheists); I say that they’re legends–a very different thing.

      As for Jesus and the Temple, the gospels were written after the Temple was destroyed, so giving Jesus clairvoyance isn’t hard.

      As for any or all of this changing your mind, I doubt it.

      • Agabu

        And that burden of proof has been met through the provision of four Gospels telling of the life, death and resurrection of Christ; Epistles that articulate the implications of the life of Jesus for faith and practice; and an apocalyptic letter to seven churches that unveils Christ in heavenly glory and as the One who will Judge the living and the dead. The whole New Testament is written in a way that lends each of its works of literature to historical research and literary analysis.

        Saying that the Gospels are legends is a curious thing coming from you. How did you arrive at this? The insinuation that what we have in the Gospels is legendary is pure fiction. It is at best a purely speculative hypothesis that is the product of modern anti-supernatural bias. Rather than reading the Gospels on their terms, this mentality reads them in terms of modern criteria imposed on them from the outside, which makes it easy for the critic to pick and choose what’s legitimate history and what is legendary on basis of contemporary presuppositions. The miracles, let alone the resurrection can be dispensed with as legendary accretion since today we apparently don’t see such things happening. We call this approach giving someone the benefit of doubt.
        Matthew offers a biographical sketch of the life of Jesus that accentuates His humanity. He begins with a genealogical record, identifies Jesus mom and dad whilst

        • Agabu

          In another article titled 12 reasons why Jesus is a legend you Bob say, “I admit that I don’t know that the gospel story is false, and I don’t know that the supernatural elements were added during the decades of oral history.” If you don’t know, why then do you conclude its a legend? You give no good reasons on the basis of textual analysis, textual criticism and textual evidence. You just say, say and say. Saying it’s just a story isn’t proof of anything except you think it’s just a story. Is that all you’ve got?

          We Christians accept the Bible at face value as recording historical realities unless proven otherwise. I’m to encounter anything that proves otherwise. We call this giving the text the benefit of doubt. I read your article the same way. Gave you a hearing so as to see if you proved your case. I weighed the evidence and well, found your conclusions wanting. You don’t deal with the biblical material well at all. Like I said before. You say, say and say with no good reason except claiming we Christians have the burden of proof.

          If the New Testament documents record that Jesus rose from dead then by golly He rose from dead given the facts in the records. You want evidence? The accounts are the evidence of that fact. They are documentary evidence (being written records of what actually happened) providing within them such as eyewitness testimony (post mortem appearances to specific men and women who are identified by name), and circumstantial evidence (the rolled away stone that had a seal on it from the tomb). The New Testament writings corroborate each other and pass on information that has an identifiable cultural milieu and historical setting. The mention of times, conspiratorial going ons, names of people, civil and religious leaders/government infrastructure, places mitigate the whole its just a story hypothesis. The nature of the accounts is that of history. A lot of things basic to human experience happens in said story. Jesus is neither a superhero nor a magician/demigod. He odinarily walks, talks, sits down to teach, travels from place to place, sleeps, gets hungry or thirsty on occasion and even weeps. He is involved in fun activities like singing, going to weddings or attending a banquet hosted in His honour. He encourages civic duties like paying taxes by paying taxes Himself. In the biographical sketches of the life of Jesus, there are sick people, blind people, crippled people, rich people, poor people, tax men, hookers, lawyers, politicians, beggars, soldiers, fishermen, children and even a little person etc. He has family, close personal friends, admirers, skeptics and enemies. Other normal people stuff happens albeit sad like His cousin John the Baptist being imprisoned and then eventually getting beheaded. Some folks don’t like Jesus at all, and at some junctures many stop following Him. Many others gravitate towards Him.

          Having highlighted all this from the Gospels, now tell me, What about all this and then some is legendary?

          I read the Bible on its terms, just like I do any other piece of literature. I most certainly read your article like that as well. You wrote what you wrote on your terms. The Bible should be treated no different.

        • adam

          “We Christians accept the Bible at face value as recording historical realities unless proven otherwise.”

          Yes, we know

        • Agabu

          And your point is?

        • Michael Neville

          The Bible was written by people trying to convince themselves and others that one particular religious figure was real.

        • Agabu

          And it would seem the above quote was written by someone trying to convince himself and others that one particular religio-historical figure isn’t real contrary to evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          So, godsoaked Jesusite, you got any evidence besides your collection of myths, fables and lies called the Bible that somebody named Jesus even existed, let alone was some sort of god or something like that?

        • adam

          “religio-historical figure isn’t real contrary to evidence.”

          What evidence?

        • adam

          You’ve been indoctrinated by propaganda.

          Michael says it much nicer below.

        • Agabu

          Sure! And you haven’t been indoctrinated by the propaganda of your own self importance

        • adam

          “And you haven’t been indoctrinated by the propaganda of your own self importance ”

          What self importance?
          They a character in a book loves me and will give me eternal life if I believe that a Jewish zombie is a ‘god’?

        • adam

          “We call this giving the text the benefit of doubt. ”

          Of course you give this same benefit to the Vedas, The Koran and all books of ‘faith’…

        • Agabu

          I have. Given them a hearing. I’ve weighed their claims and found them wanting. The Bible on the other hand has passed every test and continues to stand my intense scrutiny every time.

        • Michael Neville

          Your intense scrutiny, the scrutiny of a believer. Ever hear of confirmation bias? If you’re going to show us how the Bible is anything but a collection of myths, fables and lies, then you’re going to have to give more than your personal testimony.

        • Agabu

          Interesting! And how is your assessment that the Bible is a collection of myths, fables and lies not your personal testimony O wise one?

        • Michael Neville

          I say its’ a collection of myths, fables and lies because there’s zip point zero evidence that it isn’t fiction.

          Myths: The entire book of Genesis.

          Fables: Daniel

          Lies: Exodus and all the gospels.

        • adam

          “The Bible on the other hand has passed every test and continues to stand my intense scrutiny every time.”

          Yes, I understand….

          Same kind of claims…. unbelievable to you,
          The SAME they say of you and your ‘belief.

        • MNb

          Like what tests and scrutiny? What makes your underbelly feel warm and cozy?

        • We Christians accept the Bible at face value as recording historical realities unless proven otherwise.

          And yet you don’t take the Book of Mormon or alien abduction stories as historical. Weird, since the evidence for those is far better.

          We call this giving the text the benefit of doubt.

          I’ll consider supernatural claims, but the null hypothesis is that they’re wrong.

          If the New Testament documents record that Jesus rose from dead then by golly He rose from dead given the facts in the records. You want evidence? The accounts are the evidence of that fact.

          If the Quran and hadith record that Mohammed rode the winged horse Buraq to heaven then by golly Mohammed flew to heaven given the facts in the records. You want evidence? The accounts are the evidence of that fact.

          They are documentary evidence (being written records of what actually happened) providing within them such as eyewitness testimony (post mortem appearances to specific men and women who are identified by name), and circumstantial evidence (the rolled away stone that had a seal on it from the tomb).

          I’ve responded to these claims. Look up “Naysayer Hypothesis” and “500 eyewitnesses” in the search bar for posts on them. I’d be interested in your response.

          The mention of times, conspiratorial going ons, names of people, civil and religious leaders/government infrastructure, places mitigate the whole its just a story hypothesis.

          The Wizard of Oz writes about Kansas. Heck, I’ve been to Kansas. It’s a real place.

          Uh, no—the Bible accurately naming people and places merely gets you to the starting line. You’ve placed the bar of evidence on the ground; don’t brag to us when you’re able to cross it.

          Having highlighted all this from the Gospels, now tell me, What about all this and then some is legendary?

          Uh … the supernatural part? Or was this a trick question?

        • Agabu

          Book of Mormon, alien abductions, the Qur’an, the Wizard of Oz etc. Please! Stop deflecting. The issue is biblical claims. I’m disappointed with you. Very poor line of reasoning Bob.

          Picking and choosing what’s legitimate history and what’s not ad hoc I see. Once again I remind you, read the Gospels on their terms not your own made up ones. After all, you want your writing to be treated as such, which really is the fair thing to do. This is what giving someone the benefit of the doubt is all about. Needless skepticism is unreasonable and unwarranted.

        • Michael Neville

          Bob is discussing fictional books like the Wizard of Oz and the Bible. What’s your complaint? Or are you claiming the Book of Mormon isn’t fiction?

        • Agabu

          My complaint is that it is an apples to oranges comparison. It’s bound to cloud the matter and not illuminate it.

        • Michael Neville

          So you think the Bible isn’t fiction? Got any evidence it isn’t?

        • MNb

          “Picking and choosing what’s legitimate history and what’s not ad hoc I see.”
          Ah, the christian hypocrite who accuses his/her opponent of what he/she’s guilty of him/herself. The fact that you call Book of Mormon etc. deflections demonstrates that you are only interested in ad hoc arguments, not BobS.

          “Needless skepticism is unreasonable and unwarranted”
          as much for the Bible as for the Book of Mormon etc.

        • Otto

          Bob is saying that are all on equal footing historically…you are the one saying the Biblical mythology is real and the others are fiction…so you are picking and choosing.

          Projection much?

        • Agabu

          I’m not saying biblical mythology is real. You’re saying so. I’m saying read the Bible in the sense in which it is written, making a genuinely concerted effort to understand what the authors are saying on their own terms and not twisting their words according to your own leanings.

        • Otto

          Why in the world should I or anyone think you are able to understand what the authors are saying? What exactly makes you special? Demonstrate YOU don’t twist their words according to your own leanings.

        • No, not deflecting. If you reject the Book of Mormon or alien abductions as readily as I do, I wonder that you would accept the far more tenuous New Testament claims. (I assume you’ve seen the separate posts I’ve written on each of those topics. Let me know if you can’t find them.)

          You claim that the gospels are history? OK–I’ll read them as if they’re history to see if that claim holds up. Nothing made up at all.

          You’ve made no argument to justify your claim of poor reasoning. You want to hold onto that claim? Then present the evidence.

        • Agabu

          You keep bringing up the Book of Mormon, Alien abductions, the Qur’an, the Wizard of Oz and such. These examples you raise have no bearing on biblical claims. None of these works and situations share the cultural milieu of the Bible. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. This is what makes your line of reasoning poor. I don’t need to address those matters because they are very separate things from the Bible. Each of them is a matter that can take us away from the issue at hand here.

          I accept New Testament claims because they hold up quite well under close scrutiny especially when read on their terms. If one doesn’t do this this is why one may make them say what one wants. Even well meaning Christian people have been guilty of this at times. But non Christian people tend to be more guilty of it since they rarely care about applying interpretative methodologies consistently often forgetting that there are rules to follow for the proper interpretation of any work of literature.

        • That you want to run away from the comparisons with Mormonism and aliens suggests that you have no idea what I’m talking about. Read those posts and respond.

          And I’ve still seen nothing to justify your claim of using inconsistent rules of evidence for the gospels claims vs. other historical claims. Simply handwaving that the NT claims are convincing doesn’t get us anywhere. Show me. Or, search for my posts on those subjects and respond there.

        • MNb

          “I’m to encounter anything that proves otherwise.”
          You already did, courtesy Adam:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/12/christians-can-anything-change-your-mind/#comment-2488045127

        • adam

          “And that burden of proof has been met through the provision of four Gospels telling of the life, death and resurrection of Christ;”

        • adam

          “And that burden of proof has been met through the provision of four
          Gospels telling of the life, death and resurrection of Christ;”

          Same burden of proof for any fictional character.

        • Agabu

          How so? Which fictional character has the same kind of evidence as Jesus? And who worships this fictional character as some kind of god and historical figure?

        • Michael Neville

          The Bible is only one book. I’ve read two books about Gandalf (and seen six movies with him in them). There’s more literary evidence for Gandalf than Jesus.

          Here’s a picture of Gandalf getting instruction on how to be Gandalf:

          http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.191597!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/alg-lordoftherings-jpg.jpg

        • Agabu

          Evidence that Gandalf is what exactly? I’m sure there are Gospels and Epistles about him being God or something right?

        • adam

          ” I’m sure there are Gospels and Epistles about him being God or something right?”

          You mean like Zeus?

          No, Gandalf is newer.

        • Michael Neville

          My point is there is more evidence for Gandalf than there is for Jesus. And Tolkien was a better writer than the hacks who wrote the Bible.

        • Agabu

          Tolkien being a better writer probably. Hey, the man was a linguist and a lover of history. But this is irrelevant to the veracity of the Gospels. Ironically though, Tolkien was himself a Christian who placed a high premium on the Bible and his Christian predilections influenced a lot of the themes in his middle-earth mythology.

        • Michael Neville

          Tolkien was a Catholic (he was quite annoyed when he convinced his friend C.S. Lewis to become a Christian that Lewis became an Anglican). So what?

          Your problem is that you’ve shown no evidence that your Bible has the slightest veracity. How is it any more true than any other “holy” book? There’s lots of Muslims who swear to the veracity of the Quran and Hindus proclaiming the Vedas and Upanishads to be true. How is the Bible any more “true” than those books?

        • adam

          “Which fictional character has the same kind of evidence as Jesus?”

          All of them that were written about in any place in history.

        • adam

          “And who worships this fictional character as some kind of god and historical figure?”

          You mean like they used to worship Zeus, Here, etc?
          Or worship Shiva, Ganesh or Brahma?
          Or John Frum?

          Or do you just mean like EVERYBODY who ever believed in Santa? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/31eeb571a6bf36bfdbfd2354e6da2411ed3adf5f55b766bbea7c038e127bc6cb.jpg

        • MNb

          Karl May and Winnetou. Thirteen books about the latter and more about the first. Plus a couple of movies.
          Aha – as soon as they are worshipped they are “real” – yeah, that’s convincing.

        • And that burden of proof has been met through the provision of four Gospels telling of the life, death and resurrection of Christ

          And old book says something supernatural, and that’s good enough for you? It’s certainly not for me. You indeed have the burden to show that the obvious natural explanations (the gospels are largely legends) are insufficient.

          an apocalyptic letter to seven churches that unveils Christ in heavenly glory and as the One who will Judge the living and the dead

          … that sounds like the author was on acid. (You really oughtn’t lead with Revelation as part of your evidence.)

          Saying that the Gospels are legends is a curious thing coming from you. How did you arrive at this?

          Because I’m very familiar with how stories change when told from person to person. You too, I’ll bet.

          The insinuation that what we have in the Gospels is legendary is pure fiction.

          In the same way that Wizard of Oz is pure fiction? Wizard of Oz and the gospels are both untrue, but I wouldn’t call the New Testament fiction.

          It is at best a purely speculative hypothesis that is the product of modern anti-supernatural bias.

          You don’t have an anti-supernatural bias? When someone says that he saw a ghost or that a holy man restored an amputated limb but says that you’ll just have to accept it on faith, you do so?

          (Your comment was cut off.)

        • busterggi

          Then clearly you must believe in Zeus, Hera, etc of the Olympians because so much more literary evidence exists for them – their followers wouldn’t have lied or made things up.

        • Agabu

          No I don’t believe in Zeus, Hera and such. Actually more literary evidence exists for Jesus Christ in antiquity than for any other person including the legendary Greek gods. We have the entire New Testament canon of Scripture to that effect.

        • adam

          “We have the entire New Testament canon of Scripture to that effect.”

          Then you have no idea how this ‘canon’ was formed.

        • Agabu

          Oooh…avoiding the question again. Those crickets are getting louder.

          I do know how the canon came about.

        • Michael Neville

          This is wrong. Other than the Bible and the forgery in Josephus, there’s no contemporary or near contemporary evidence for Jesus. Pliny was reporting what Christians told him they believe and Tacitus was reporting what Pliny wrote. There’s a whole lot more evidence for Julius Caesar than for Jesus.

        • Agabu

          Really?? There are 27 writings in the New Testament alone not including early references from among Christian writers and non Christian ones that all mention Christ by name. How many writings does Julius Caesar have about him exactly?

        • Greg G.

          Revelation doesn’t tell about Jesus on Earth. Only two of the epistles say anything about Jesus with information from the first century but the information comes from the gospels. The epistles talk about Jesus a lot but it is mostly adulation and adoration of Jesus in heaven. Everything the other epistles say about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament. They give no independent testimony about a first century Jesus.

          The gospels show massive evidence of being fiction by be being derived from other literature attributing deeds to Jesus that was previously performed in older fictional tales about somebody else.

          For Julius Caesar, we have sculptured busts, coins minted with his image, writings from him and from his contemporaries all from his era. No history of Rome from the first century BC would be complete without Julius Caesar but We have histories of Judea from Philo and Josephus, with nothing but a forged Testimonium Flavianum and something that looks like a margin note in a passage that is about Jesus Damneus.

        • Agabu

          The point is Jesus Christ is mentioned by name. Where he is is of little bearing on the matter. Julius Caesar may have had sculptured busts but some of the world’s greatest works of art have Jesus as the focal point. Julius Caesar may have had coins minted with his image on it, but Christ has been emblazoned on the hearts and minds of people from every nation on earth from generation to generation for two thousand years and counting. People have not gone after Jesus as an ideal. They’ve followed Him personally. I follow Him because I’ve found that He truly is the Son of God. The Jesus i’ve read about on the pages of Scripture that’s proven Himself real to me in my life.

          I’ve never seen Him. Yet I love Him. Even though I don’t see Him now, yet I trust Him. I’m not a Christian because Christianity has some nice ideas about how to live a good life. I’m a Christian because Jesus Christ changed my life. I believed on Him on the basis of everything said about Him in the Gospels. The more I read the whole Bible from end to end the more i’ve gotten to know God and His Son Jesus.

          You may mock this as gullibility. You may even even call me delusional. But the evidence of the scriptural records persuades me of the fact of that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. He lived, he died and on the third day He rose again from the dead. The sin that so plagues us all whose evidence is seen in the evils we all tend to perpetrate, He dealt with in His death. He offers forgiveness of sins to you and me. He conquered our great foe, death itself. Commanding us to trust Him as He will make good to raise our mortal bodies to life at His appointed time. The resurrection of Christ is the evidence He offers that if we only but trust Him, He will raise us up to experience joy and everlasting life. If we reject Him then shame and everlasting contempt will be our just desert. I express nothing but the hope that everyone here may experience the beauty and excellence of Christ so that joy eternal life may be yours as well. This is my simple plea to everyone here. Trust in Christ and live or else perish with an eternity of unending anguish and sorrow awaiting.

        • Greg G.

          The works of art about Jesus are not from his time. Most of the art was done centuries later and he looks European. Being emblazoned on someone’s heart means nothing if he is only known from reading stories about him that are actually based on other literature than was not about him. You only have fictional accounts that people followed him personally.

          I’ve never seen Him. Yet I love Him.

          You only know him from fictional accounts.

          But the evidence of the scriptural records persuades me of the fact of that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. He lived, he died and on the third day He rose again from the dead.

          That comes from 1 Corinthians 15 and Paul says it is “according to the scriptures”. The “died for our sins” comes from Isaiah 53:5, the “was buried” comes from Isaiah 53:9, and the “rose on the third day” comes from Hosea 6:2.

          Your other claims come from Paul who got them from the Old Testament, not from a “human source” [his words].

        • Agabu

          Thanks for making my point that it’s all Scripture anyway. I know Christ from biblical accounts that can be trusted and whose truth is well established as to changing people’s lives even as we speak. Biblical Christianity maintains a viability that penetrates any cultural milieu with many testifying to the reality of Jesus Christ in their lives.

          The fiction of calling them fiction is the preoccupation of the frivolous whose index of reality is themselves. I’m glad nothing revolves around me but around Christ the Son of God.

        • Greg G.

          Paul was reading into the Suffering Servant allegory what he wanted to get out of it – that the Messiah was coming while he was still alive. He read other verses the same way. He obviously missed. It has become a Christian tradition to misread scripture.

        • adam

          ” I know Christ from biblical accounts that can be trusted”

        • adam

          “The point is Jesus Christ is mentioned by name. ”

          Just as Peter Parker is mentioned by name in Spiderman.

        • adam

          “Julius Caesar may have had sculptured busts but some of the world’s greatest works of art have Jesus as the focal point. ”

          Of course!

        • Michael Neville

          Caesar wrote a book, is mentioned in numerous other books written by contemporaries and near-contemporaries, has statues and coins with his image, and is otherwise well attested. Jesus appears in one book written years after his supposed death.

        • Agabu

          The Bible is one book. It is a collection of writings. Each written account was written independently. The word Bible itself means library of books

        • Michael Neville

          So? An anthology, which is what the Bible is, is still one book.

        • Agabu

          Collected into a body of work that makes it accessible for your perusal and consideration

        • Otto

          Anti-supernatural bias? It is not bias if you can’t demonstrate the supernatural claims to be in fact true.

          Me: “I can read peoples minds!”
          You: “Really? That is cool can you show me?”
          Me: “No…”
          You: “Ummm…then why should I believe it?”
          Me: “You are just showing your bias against mind reading”

        • adam

          Otto: “I can read peoples minds!”

          Really? That is cool can you show me?

        • Agabu

          The evidence is in the accounts. As to your mind reading powers I’m sure they are second to none. I believe you. Since I assume you are probably an upstanding guy, I gather you’re not lying about it. Unless you are.

        • adam

          “The evidence is in the accounts.”

          OK

        • MNb

          Immaterial fairies tend the flowers in my backyard, so that they blossom more beautifully. The evidence for this is in this very comment, that accounts for it.

        • Agabu

          You have immaterial fairies tending the flowers in your backyard? Dude, that’s awesome. I’m sure a lots happened to assure you of their presence and exquisite gardening skills.

        • Greg G.

          MNb has told about them many times. I am sure he wouldn’t say that unless it was as true as the Bible stories.

        • Agabu

          I’m just concerned with the merits of his account. Not sure what that has to do with the Bible. If the man says immaterial fairies tending his flowers goes on in his backyard only he knows that this is the case. So I’m taking his word for it. Unless other pertinent facts emerge proving otherwise.

        • Greg G.

          Cue Sagan. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” If he said he had Surinamese gardeners tending his garden, it would not be an extraordinary claim and we could accept it at face value. When he says he has magical fairies tending his garden, we should ask for good evidence and not be gullible.

          You are bending over backward to allow that you believe him because to not believe him would show you are using different standards when it comes to Bible claims.

        • adam

          “Unless other pertinent facts emerge proving otherwise.”

          Then you can obviously demonstrate that this ‘god’ of yours is anything but IMAGINARY?

        • MNb

          “I’m just concerned with the merits of his account.”

          Like we are concerned with the merits of the accounts called Bible.

          “Not sure what that has to do with the Bible.”
          Your concern is our concern.

          “If the man says immaterial fairies tending his flowers goes on in his backyard only he knows that this is the case.”
          If the authors of the Gospels say Jesus resurrected only they know that this is the case.

          “So I’m taking his word for it.”
          In other words, anything goes, as long “other pertinent facts emerge proving otherwise” – and you are the one who with your underbelly decides what’s pertinent and what’s not.

        • Otto

          The account are the CLAIMS…the claims are not evidence despite the fallacious arguments from the apologists.

          And if you believe me on my word that I can read minds you are a gullible simpleton.

        • Agabu

          You’re the one claiming you can read minds. I’m just giving you the benefit of the doubt and taking your word for it unless proven otherwise. If this is gullibility then count me gullible. Otherwise if you really can’t read minds then just say so.

        • Otto

          If you take the extraordinary claims of others at face value and believe them on their word you are gullible. You are counted.

        • Otto

          There is another genealogy in Luke that does not match Matthew.

        • adam

          “Saying that the Gospels are legends is a curious thing coming from you. How did you arrive at this? ”

          The millions of other legendary supernatural claims.

        • Agabu

          And what do these other alleged supernatural claims have to do with Biblical claims?

        • adam

          The bible makes the same or similar supernatural claims.

        • Agabu

          Give me an example these allegedly similar or same supernatural claims?

        • adam

          “Give me an example these allegedly similar or same supernatural claims?”

          Sure, right after you demonstrate that YOUR ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY…..

        • MNb
        • MNb

          If those other supernatural claims are alleged, then why not the Biblical ones?

        • Greg G.

          And that burden of proof has been met through the provision of four Gospels telling of the life, death and resurrection of Christ; Epistles that articulate the implications of the life of Jesus for faith and practice; and an apocalyptic letter to seven churches that unveils Christ in heavenly glory and as the One who will Judge the living and the dead. The whole New Testament is written in a way that lends each of its works of literature to historical research and literary analysis.

          Yet the epistles don’t support the gospels stories about Jesus being a teacher or a preacher nor do they bring up any of his teachings. When we do a literary analysis of the New Testament with respect to the literature of the day, it appears that the whole New Testament collection was derived from Greek literature, Aramaic literature, and some Christian literature that was not about Jesus.

          The miracles, let alone the resurrection can be dispensed with as legendary accretion since today we apparently don’t see such things happening. We call this approach giving someone the benefit of doubt.

          We call that “being gullible.”

        • Agabu

          Of course the Epistles don’t talk about a lot of what the Gospels talk about. Why would they? They had different concerns. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Epistles are Epistles and not Gospels and vice versa. In any case the Epistles do touch on some of the highlights in Jesus life. Romans summarizes the genealogy of Jesus by tracing it to a single individual namely David (Romans 1:3). David is listed in the extended accounts of both Matthew and Luke. In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul talks a bit about the last supper and some things that happened then. This is an event touched on by all four Gospels. In 2 Peter 1 Peter talks about the incident when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. This is an event touched on in Matthew 17, Mark 9 & Luke 9. The Epistles touch on the teaching of Jesus and use it to develop the doctrines they elaborate on. The idea that the Epistles don’t support anything in the Gospels is simply false. At best it is an argument from silence, which really has very little bearing on the matter.

        • Michael Neville

          The genealogies given in Matthew and Luke are not identical.

          and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Matt 1:16 NIV

          Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli Luke 3:23 NIV

          So just like Jesus had at least six penises, Joseph had two fathers.

        • Agabu

          No they are not. So Joseph had two fathers. What’s your point? This is resolvable by cross referencing the accounts and seeing that Joseph had a biological father and an adoptive one. Matthew reckons his ancestry through one while Luke does so through the other.

        • Michael Neville

          My point is that the Bible has contradictions in it, which makes it unreliable as evidence for anything. Your feeble attempt to explain away an obvious contradiction fails, just like your Bible.

        • Agabu

          Give me an example of a real contradiction in the Bible. The only thing I’m seeing is your failure to read the Bible for all its worth.

        • adam

          “Give me an example of a real contradiction in the Bible.”

        • adam

          Plus just STUPID glaring errors

        • Agabu

          Like what? Stop with just saying. It isn’t evidence. Cite some proof text man.

        • adam

          Proof that the people who wrote the bible were ignorant and supersitious?

        • MNb

          He just did, not so smart 12 year old kid. He cited Gen. 30:37-39.

        • MNb

          Aha – everything that could be brought up will be “a non-real contradiction”.
          Very convincing.
          The fact that you have to make up an explanation only confirms there is a contradiction.

        • Agabu

          Didn’t make it up dude. It’s all in the book, if you would just read it with an open mind on its terms. Trust me, I’m not trying to be dismissive of you. I’m only interested in getting us to read the Bible objective, and fairly.

        • MR

          It would help if you could define objective and fair, because it doesn’t seem like that is what you are doing. It seems to me that you are using special pleading for your favored book, while dismissing similar claims from other beliefs. Can you define objective and fair so that it applies across all beliefs and show what method you then use to determine your belief is the correct belief?

        • Susan

          It would help if you could define objective and fair.

          It’s very simple, MR. If you jump to the conclusions that agree with Agabu’s, you’re being objective and fair.

          The bibles and two thousand years of apologetics predicted this. You don’t have an open heart and an open mind.

          It seems to me that you are using special pleading for your favored book, while dismissing similar claims from other beliefs.

          But in this case, if you don’t accept this particular special pleading, then you are not being objective and fair.

          It’s SO obviously true.

          You only reject it because you want to sin.

        • Greg G.

          This is strange. I opened all ten links under Recent Comments and all but this one came up with 404 errors. I tried a few of them a second time and again this is the only one that opened. I had made a post to the most recent article just before. Anybody else getting this problem?

          PS: Links work on my phone, though.

        • Susan

          A while back, I was seeing 404 banners on the right hand of the page but it didn’t prevent me from reading comments or replying to them.

          I have no idea what that means or if it’s helpful. I have no idea how any of this stuff works.

          Just reporting from my end.

        • Otto

          I saw a headline from JT’s Blog today that said they were aware of the problem.

        • Otto

          Objectively and fairly….right.

        • adam

          What evidence do you have that Joseph was adopted?

        • Greg G.

          Mark, Matthew and Luke say that Jesus ate the Passover Meal before he was arrested. John says he was arrested before the Passover.

        • Agabu

          Yes Jesus ate the Passover Meal before He was arrested. In John’s account actually did eat the Passover Meal before He was arrested. In John 13:1 says it was just before the Passover Feast and then in the following verse he says the evening meal was being served. What evening meal exactly? John of course curiously says nothing about the institution of the Lord’s Supper. But saying nothing doesn’t mean it never happened. That would be an argument from silence. The fact that the Synoptic Gospels clearly indicate the Passover Meal was before Jesus’s arrest means that even in John’s account it may reasonably be placed before Christ’s arrest. The fact is in John’s account according to verse two of chapter 13 the evening meal was being served. There’s no reason to doubt this is the very same meal of the Synoptics. All four accounts share certain common features. Jesus talks about His betrayal at the meal even in John’s account. This feature makes the evening meal of John same Passover Meal of the Synoptic Gospels. So Greg even in John’s account Jesus arrest actually happens after the Passover Meal.

        • adam

          What evidence do you have that Joseph was adopted?.

        • Greg G.

          In John’s account actually did eat the Passover Meal before He was arrested.

          John 18:28 (NRSV)28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.

          John 19:14 (NRSV)14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”

          Eating a meal and pretending it was the Passover meal is not the same as eating the Passover which is eaten in the evening following the fourteenth day after the new moon in spring.

        • Greg G.

          Three gospels say Jesus attended the Passover before he was arrested. John says he was arrested before the Passover meal.

          Matthew says Joseph and Mary lived in Bethlehem and went to Nazareth only because of a dream. Luke says they lived in Nazareth and went to Bethlehem for a concocted story that people had to go to some random ancestor’s town for a census. It’s not like David was his only ancestor. Why didn’t everybody go to Abraham’s place?

          Matthew says the family had to flee to Egypt for fear of the king while Luke says they went straight to Jerusalem where they would have been asking for it.

          Matthew said the Magi came from the east following a star they saw in the east. That would have led them away from points west.

        • busterggi

          See, complete agreement if you ignore all the details.

        • Michael Neville

          I’ve already given one, Joseph having two fathers. And don’t try to pretend he was adopted because neither Luke nor Matthew mention that fact. It was made up years later by apologists trying to hide the fact their Bible has contradictions.

        • adam

          What evidence do you have that Joseph was adopted?

        • Greg G.

          What evidence do you have that Joseph was adopted?

        • Otto

          This is resolvable by cross referencing the accounts and seeing that Joseph had a biological father and an adoptive one.

          you spelled rationalized wrong.

        • adam

          “At the risk of stating the obvious, the Epistles are Epistles and not Gospels and vice versa.”

          Of course you realize that there were a lot more gospels than 4…..

        • Agabu

          Yes I do. What’s your point?

        • adam

          Politics

          With the usual PROPAGANDA…..

          These people werent interested in Truth, but political POWER.

        • Agabu

          How in the world was a persecuted minority for the first three centuries interested in political power? Can you give me a quote from the first, second or second century that that was the case?

        • Greg G.

          The whole Christian religion is about the Messiah coming with power and conquering the world. Paul apparently thought the fact that his generations was getting the revelations was his proof that the Messiah was coming during his generation.

          1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
          14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.

        • Pofarmer
        • Greg G.

          Thanks. It seems interesting. I’ll be looking at it.

        • adam

          “How in the world was a persecuted minority for the first three centuries interested in political power?”

          To uhhh, prevent such persecution….

        • Greg G.

          There were no gospels when the most of the epistles were written. People had to be reminded about big and little things. Paul had to explain the whole crucifixion thing to the Galatians but he used a series of Old Testament scripture to do it, not first century history. Mark didn’t have Jesus descended from David and John raised a conundrum about that. One lineage would require generation after generation of consistently having a son at age 40 and the other would be much younger.

          The passage in 1 Corinthians 11 you bring up is an interpolation. 1 Corinthians 10:18-22 sets up a pattern of an exhortation, a question, and an answer using the same metaphor as the question. The answer to the third question doesn’t follow but it can be found in 1 Corinthians 11:30-31, which shows a seam of interpolation. The Eucharist passage draws on Psalm 41:9 and Isaiah 53:11 in a way Paul doesn’t but it is characteristic of the way Mark combines scriptures to create a story. But this appears to have been taken from where Luke borrowed it from Mark.

          2 Peter is not independently reporting the story, the forger is writing what he read from one of the gospels. Where Mark 9:2 says it was after six days when Jesus went up the mountain, Mark is winking at his readers that he is basing his fiction on Exodus 24:13-18 where Moses waited six days before going up the mountain.

          Mark used some of the epistles, often putting words and ideas of Paul into Jesus’ mouth. In Mark 7, Jesus defends the disciples against charges that they don’t wash their hands according to the law. Jesus uses an argument Paul used in his argument with Peter at Antioch in Galatians 2. It is hard to believe the Antioch argument would have happened if Peter was with Jesus during the Mark 7 story. Peter would have completely agreed with Paul but Paul says Barnabas was led astray.

    • Greg G.

      I think the gospels are cleverly concocted stories. New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price collects the studies of scholars who make strong cases for the sources that the gospel authors used that were not about Jesus. Individually, they are sound arguments. Combined, they devastate the claims that the gospels come from oral traditions about historical events.

      The prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem by Jesus were written after the fact and the retrodictions are fictional accounts put into the mouth of Jesus.

      • Agabu

        So you think the Gospels are cleverly concocted stories. Based on what? Their literary structure? Grammar? Syntax? While Robert Price is an admittedly fairly proficient professor of Biblical criticism, his reading of the Gospels often leaves a lot to desire. Sorry man, he hardly provides the devastating critique you allege. For a scholar Price may offer some insights into the historical context of the Gospels but doesn’t know how to read
        them in their own right and on their terms.

        Price in his New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash may conclude that the Gospels are an “inspiring pastiche of stories derived creatively from previous scriptures by a means of literary extrapolation” but a careful and more nuanced reading of the Gospels reveals otherwise. Take this example for one: Price writes, “modern scholars might admit that Hosea 11:1 (“Out of Egypt I have called my son”) had to be taken out of context to provide a pedigree for the fact of Jesus’ childhood sojourn in Egypt.” And further alleges “the words in Hosea 11:1 “my son,” catching the early Christian eye, generated the whole story, since they assumed such a prophecy about the divine Son must have had its fulfillment.” The problem with all this is that it is pure speculation read into the text as fact. How does Price know that the Gospel accounts generate the whole story from previous Scripture? Short answer, he doesn’t. He postulates by sheer speculation dressed up in midrash garb that the Gospels assumed prophecy fulfilment. Notice that he actually has no real evidence for this except to claim it’s an extrapolation i.e. it is as he puts it “wholly the product of haggadic midrash upon previous scripture.”
        When Matthew says something about the life of Jesus and then points out that this was to fulfill what was written he is not generating anything about the life of Jesus but rather proof texting an occurrence in Jesus’s life by remembering in order to show the significance of the person of Christ. John’s Gospel Reading the text of the Gospels on their terms brings this fact to light. When Matthew wrote what he wrote it is fruitless to make assumptions about what was on his mind. All we have are the words on the page, and that is what we have to go on. Fulfilled prophecy in the Gospels is a literary marker that comes from remembering what they read from what was written in Scripture in light of what they saw and heard in the life of Jesus (see John 2:17)

        • adam

          “So you think the Gospels are cleverly concocted stories.”

          No, not that clever, the propagada that used them was very cleaver.

          “Gospels but doesn’t know how to read them in their own right and on their terms.”

          You mean like reading them like every other religious writing claiming supernatural beings?

          “How does Price know that the Gospel accounts generate the whole story from previous Scripture?”

          By looking at previous scripture and the writing styles of the times.

          “When Matthew wrote what he wrote it is fruitless to make assumptions about what was on his mind. ”

          And you are making fruitless assumptions that Matthew actually wrote it.

        • Agabu

          And you know Matthew didn’t write it how?

        • adam

          “And you know Matthew didn’t write it how?”

          The anonymous author was probably a male Jew, standing on the margin between traditional and non-traditional Jewish values, and familiar with technical legal aspects of scripture being debated in his time.[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Matthew#cite_note-FOOTNOTEDuling2010302-4

        • MNb

          Who is Matthew? Where did he live, what was his profession, where was he born?
          Matthew is a nobody – nothing but a random name.

        • Agabu

          Wow! So the Gospel was written by nobody. That’s freaking amazing. Its one hell of a miracle dude. It makes more supernatural than ever

        • Otto

          Sounds like the argument of a 12 year old.

        • Agabu

          Sounds like one smart 12 year old.

        • MNb

          Not smart enough to recognize the difference between “nobody” and “a nobody”.

        • adam

          “Sounds like one smart 12 year old. ”

          Nope, like an ignorant IDiot.

        • Otto

          Not at all. You twisted MNb’s meaning of Matthew being A nobody, as in Matthew is just a name that was applied to the author and we know nothing about him…

          …to Matthew was nobody as in he did not exist. Intellectually dishonest. It is that kind of Christian argumentation that drove many of us away from seeking answers from Christians who espouse to be authorities. Well done. Be sure to continue to do that with those in the faith.

        • Greg G.

          The gospels don’t name the authors. That was just a guess by people in the middle of the second century. They assumed they were eyewitnesses, including Luke but it is clear that Mark was writing fiction and Matthew and John copied it which shows they didn’t know any better.

        • Agabu

          And yet here you are saying that MARK wrote fiction. MATTHEW and JOHN copied MARK. LUKE wasn’t an eyewitness. Which is it dude? Are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John anonymous or were they written by the people whose names they bear? Methinks they were.

          The early Christians didn’t assume they were anonymous. They unanimously received them as having been authored by each of their namesake. Sections of modern scholarship that cast doubt on the authorship of the Gospels is driven by the presuppositions of alleged plagiarism, hypothesis of interdependence or reliance on a common source since the synoptic Gospels contain a great deal of the same information.

        • adam

          “The early Christians didn’t assume they were anonymous. ”

          LIke YOU they didnt care are truth.
          They cared about wishful thinking.

        • Greg G.

          The early fathers thought Matthew was the first and Mark was second, too, but this was wrong, so their beliefs about the gospels should not be taken as, well, gospel.

          Papias speaks of two gospels written by Matthew and Mark. His Matthew was written in Hebrew or, more likely, Aramaic and they had trouble understanding it. This is not the gospel we know as Matthew. But the fathers had to have one gospel named Matthew, so they named a different gospel “Matthew”.

          As Price shows in the link, nearly every passage in Mark has been traced to other material, so there is no reason to think it is written by an eyewitness. Even the early fathers didn’t believe that. Yet, the other three gospels used it for source material. Luke says he is looking at other writings from “eyewitnesses”, and is setting the events in the proper order. But he mainly follows Mark’s order, with added words of Jesus from Matthew, from the baptism to around Luke 10 where he bases his story on Deuteronomy, including topical snippets from Matthew and Mark, until Luke 18 where he goes back to Mark’s chronology.

          The other three gospels show signs of copying from one another. Matthew makes slight changes to Mark but later in the passage he has forgotten his change and reverts to Mark’s language. Luke does the same thing with both Mark and Matthew. This is called “editorial fatigue”. There don’t seem to be any cases where Matthew does this with Luke or Mark does it with either, so we can see the order.

        • MNb

          Comprehensive reading is difficult, isn’t it? I wrote a nobody. Funny, but no miracle, how one letter can make such a difference. Or does that fly above your head?

        • adam

          “Fulfilled prophecy in the Gospels is a literary marker that comes from
          remembering what they read from what was written in Scripture in light
          of what they saw and heard in the life of Jesus (see John 2:17)”

          Nope….

          It is FANTASY.

        • Agabu

          How did you arrive at the conclusion that it is fantasy? Give me a piece of evidence from a simple analysis of the biblical text that it is fantasy. Something, anything!

        • adam

          “How did you arrive at the conclusion that it is fantasy?”

          1. Because that is not how reality works
          2. Millions of other fantasy claims that you reject out of hand.

        • Agabu

          So you don’t have any evidence? Just generalities with no substance to them. Figures! All bark and no bite.

        • adam

          “So you don’t have any evidence?”

          I have MILLIONS of pieces of evidence.

          But ALL you need to do is DEMONSTRATE that YOUR ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY and you could end atheism, Hinduism, etc…

        • Agabu

          Wow! Millions of pieces of evidence and I only asked for one. All I got was the sound of crickets.

          But seriously dude, my chief interest isn’t to end atheism or Hinduism but to have you consider the claims of Jesus Christ. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Give His teaching a fair hearing, and I assure you as the good book does as well that you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

        • MNb

          “… to have you consider the claims of Jesus Christ.”
          Done so. Bogus, especially his failed prophecies regarding his spectactular comeback.

          “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
          Ah yes – we first have to believe before your god can convince us.

        • Agabu

          Jesus has failed prophecies? O my God, and I didn’t know about it? Where is this prophecy that so spectacularly failed? I mean I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, I’ve never come across this alleged failed prophecy. Please! Do enlighten me.

        • Greg G.

          Mark 13:30 (NRSV)30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.

          One of those things was:

          Mark 13:10 (NRSV)10 And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations.

          That generation passed away before anybody preached the good news to anyone in South America.

        • busterggi

          Drat, you beat me. Not that numbnuts will admit that error.

        • Greg G.

          I’ve given him a handful but he stopped responding to me.

        • Agabu

          Well this numbnuts would gladly admit the error, if it was shown beyond a reasonable doubt that it was in fact an error. Sorry to burst your bubble but it hasn’t been shown to be so. Not trying to be difficult, just consistent with the Gospel material at hand.

        • busterggi

          Including the Gospel of Judas? Gospel of Nicodemus? Gospel of Thomas? Gospel of the Hebrews?

          You conveniently ignore lots of gospels.

        • Agabu

          Don’t conveniently ignore them. They were never received as canonical. They’ve never been part of the Bible and were rejected as lacking apostolic authenticity. Those gospels approximated the use of an apostle in order to pass along their fanciful teachings. They were weighed and found wanting in conveying authentic Christian teaching.

        • adam

          “They were never received as canonical. ”

          WHY weren’t they?

        • Agabu

          Because they conflicted with essential Christian teaching at decisive points

        • adam

          “Because they conflicted with essential Christian teaching at decisive points ”

          Well lets see your EVIDENCE for this claim.

        • Greg G.

          That’s circular. The essential Christian teaching came from the other gospels. How did they know the gospels they chose were correct and not the others? Examining those gospels, it is clear that Mark was based on fictional literature of the day and the other gospels copied it. They should have rejected those gospels and based their essential Christian teaching on something else.

        • Agabu

          Base essential Christian teaching on what else? A non Christian telling Christians to base their beliefs on something else other than the Four canonical Gospels. Imagine that!

        • Greg G.

          They weren’t canonical in the second century.

        • busterggi

          And who decided what was canonical? Oh yes, the group that killed off all who opposed them – very Christian.

        • Greg G.

          They accepted four gospels because Irenaeus insisted that there should be four gospels. Do you follow his reasoning?

          The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, ‘O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself ‘. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of a man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.

          They were justifying their decisions on canonicity on reasons like these.

        • adam

          “Not trying to be difficult, just consistent with the Gospel material at hand.”

        • Agabu

          Sorry I couldn’t get to respond to you quickly. Call of duty to another matter and all.

          That’s it? A text quoted out of context and used as a pretext? Sorry Greg but this prophecy was fulfilled to a tee. A careful analysis of this text, read in context and in conjunction with its counterparts in Matthew 24 & Luke 21 reveals that the issue Jesus was addressing was the desolation of Jerusalem culminating in the destruction of the temple.

          The disciples had just been marvelling at the beauty of the old Herodian Temple. Then Jesus proceeded to shock them with a prediction that the temple would be destroyed. This surprised them a great deal considering such information was potentially scandalous, if not downright dangerous. Telling any devout Jew that the temple where he or she worshipped God was going to be torn down was no easy thing to swallow. This is why in the text the disciples talk to Jesus about the matter privately.

          The verse you quoted is part of what is commonly referred to as the Olivet Discourse. The disciples asked Jesus when the destruction of the temple will happen. Since Jesus talks about appearing in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory it is often misconstrued that He is talking about His Second Coming. Not so fast. Jesus was addressing the issue of the impending desolation of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple. The disciples explicitly ask Him what the sign of His coming, that is, the sign of His words being fulfilled something actually Jesus clarifies with His heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not hyperbole. In Luke 21 the disciples question is summarised for us with them asking what the sign will be that Jesus’s words are about to take place. Jesus talks about man made catastrophes like wars and revolutions. He then proceeds to index this with natural disasters such as earthquakes, famines & pestilences in various places. He gets more personal by warning His disciples that they will be persecuted in the lead up to the seismic event of coming desolation of Jerusalem. He then tells them what the sign that His words are about to take place is. When Jerusalem is surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20). Matthew and Mark call this the abomination of desolation. This is clearly a literary device utilized for maximum rhetorical effect. Jesus is talking about the impending judgment that will befall Jerusalem and uses very colorful and stylized language to make His point. Jesus then hammers home the point the Son of Man will come on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. This apocalyptic imagery has counterparts in Old Testament Scripture (see Daniel 7:13 for instance). The imagery of coming on clouds is a metaphor for judgment on a nation using the armies of another nation. Jesus already told us Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies. These armies would exact vengeance on Jerusalem by destroying it. In this way, the Son of Man (Jesus ) would come on the clouds of the sky (the armies which surround Jerusalem ) and judge Jerusalem. The fulfillment of Jesus’s words would vindicate Him as a true prophet.

          The historical record is clear. The Roman legions did surround Jerusalem and laid a siege on it in the Jewish war of 67AD-70AD. Josephus the Jewish historian documented these events having been carried off as a prisoner himself. This all happened within a generation of Jesus words. So you see Jesus words didn’t fail. A careful reading of the Olivet Discourse and comparing Scripture with Scripture doesn’t warrant the wooden interpretation that Jesus’s prediction didn’t take place of His literal coming on clouds. Jesus use of hyperbole, metaphor and such wasn’t lost on His original listeners but we moderns can easily misconstrued His if we don’t pay attention to context and the literary devices utilized to make a point. Make no mistake about it, Jesus use of hyperbole and metaphors is still alluding to something that would actually take place, which it did.

        • Greg G.

          In Mark, Jesus is speaking privately with Peter, James, John, and Andrew who ask, “When will these things be?” in the context of the Jesus’ comment that the buildings will be thrown down. Matthew changes the question to the be about the sign of Jesus’ coming and the end of the age from from the disciples, not specific ones. So either Mark and Matthew are referring to different conversations or you have another contradiction. If they are different conversations, you are taking them out of context. If the same conversation, you add contradictions. Luke conflates the question from Mark with the answer from Matthew.

          Is your final answer really going to be that when Jesus said in Mark “all these things happen”, he meant “some of these things happen”?

        • Agabu

          They were people living in South America in the first century AD? You know I’m gonna grant that they were. But still the world of the Roman empire included people groups from every known corner at that time. The early Christians won converts from every known identifiable group at that time. So th good news about Jesus Christ reached the ears of every known people group at that time.

        • busterggi

          Really? Even the Chinese? Polynesians? Native Americans? Your deliberate ignorance to pretend your magic book is right is amazing.

        • Agabu

          Those are historical facts. You don’t need the Bible to prove this. You just have to look into the history of how the Church grew from analysis of what people said about the spread of Christianity.

        • adam

          “You just have to look into the history of how the Church grew from
          analysis of what people said about the spread of Christianity.”

          Yes, Crusades, Inquisitions, witch burning, fear, intimidation and cruelty….

        • Greg G.

          Christianity was just a another religion for the first few centuries until Constantine realized it could be exploited to have people do his bidding with the promise of being rewarded when they died. Then, it just happened to be in a position to fill the power vacuum when Rome collapsed.

        • Agabu

          Wow, a reworking of history to suit your jaundiced view. Bravo!

        • Greg G.

          No, it is a healthy view. You should try an honest approach.

        • MNb

          Another historical fact is that this

          “Mark 13:10 (NRSV) 10 And the good news must first be proclaimed to all nations.”
          only happened in the 1950’s. By then “this generation” (Mark 13:30) had passed away since long. And we’re still waiting for the big come back.
          Prophecy fail, in every single respect.

        • adam

          ” You don’t need the Bible to prove this. You just have to look into the
          history of how the Church grew from analysis of what people said about
          the spread of Christianity.”

          Yes, through fear, coercion, propaganda and mass murder.

        • Greg G.

          You are qualifying “all” with “only known people”. If Jesus had the ability of making a prophecy, he should have known about other groups. On the other hand, if the gospel authors were writing fiction, then your explanation would work as they can only give Jesus knowledge that they knew or made up.

          An apologetic to a problem is OK when someone needs to allay a doubt, but your apologetics must be consistent, too, if they are going to work the way you are trying to use them.

        • MNb

          “groups from every known corner at that time.”
          In addition to Greg G underneath: rather telling that Big Hero Jesus didn’t know there were people living in the Americas. Apparently they were not “a known identifiable group” for Big Hero Jesus. So much for his divine knowledge.

        • vaiyt

          “Every known corner” for the people who lived in that particular corner.

        • Agabu

          No my good man. My point is put God’s word to the test. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Approach Him on His terms and learn from Him. Then you have your proof and then make up your mind about whether you’re going to follow Him.

        • adam

          “My point is put God’s word to the test. ”

          Done so and dismissed as a MONSTEROUS character.

        • Agabu

          That is a choice you’re entitled to make. I can say no more to you. The Bible still stands as is. You can either accept it or reject it.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible still stands as is.

          Yes, it does. It stands full of fiction.

        • Agabu

          So you say.

        • Greg G.

          So do New Testament scholars.

        • adam

          “The Bible still stands as is”

          Of course, but THAT IS the problem…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/395f4aa3abb4333d52a79cf57c8f276c35b8f0cde416637ea66d6ecabc0b7bd4.jpg

        • adam

          ” You can either accept it or reject it.”

          The very same with Spiderman being real….

        • Greg G.

          Buddha says the same thing about Buddhism. You are recommending that a person enter a situation that allows confirmation bias as a test. That works for any religion whether it is true or false, so it is not a test for truth. Did you fall for it?

        • adam

          “Did you fall for it?”

          Hooker, line and sinker…

        • Agabu

          Greg. You don’t seem to understand confirmation bias very well. Putting things to the test is what we all do. You take a car on a test drive to see if it’s what you want. You read a popular book to get a handle on whether it’s what it’s cracked up to be. You taste food to see if you’ll like it. This isn’t confirmation bias. It’s good sense. We do this sort of thing in life all the time.

        • adam

          ” It’s good sense. ”

          Then demonstrate that this ‘god’ of yours is anything but IMAGINARY…

          It is only good sense…

        • MNb

          “Putting things to the test is what we all do.”
          No, not you. Adam asked you underneath: what evidence do you have that Joseph was adopted? Quote from the Gospels please or another document.
          No?
          Then you just made it up. The same “method” you used to explain Jesus’ failed come back away.
          Making things up like you do is not testing.

        • Greg G.

          No, you do not understand what confirmation bias is. We try something out and see if we like it. But if we test a religion, any confirmation will have a greater impact on the memory than all the times that there is no confirmation, which is what we expect in most cases. That is a bias. For example, with prayer, you remember every time you pray for something that happens, but when it doesn’t happen, you allow that it hasn’t happened yet until you forget about it completely. When prayer experiments are done to eliminate this bias and others, the prayers are no more effective than the control group.

        • Agabu

          So now you’re concocting different rules for religion so that you can pat yourself on the back for showing its errors as you see them. Your standards are too low and twisted. Taste and see is just as fitting my good man.

        • Greg G.

          Confirmation bias is not just for religion. Animals are subject to it. We get superstitions from it. People think weird things happen because of the full moon. Something weird happens, they look up and see a moon that is full or nearly full about 10% of the time and that confirms it. The other 90% of the time the weirdness is forgotten.

        • adam

          Draw near to Zeus, Ganesh, etc and He will draw near to you. Approach Him on His terms and learn from Him. Then you have your proof.

          Same proof that you’ve already rejected.

        • MNb

          “My point is put God’s word to the test. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
          Been there, done that – and many an atheist with me, especially ex-Christians. Nope, no god drew near me.
          “Approach Him on His terms and learn from Him.”
          And one of his terms is that we first have to believe him before he can convince us. Thanks for confirming what I wrote in my previous comment.

        • adam

          “But seriously dude, my chief interest isn’t to end atheism or Hinduism but to have you consider the claims of Jesus Christ.”

          What claims can you present with evidence? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f25bd7bee17b068845967d24dc1624fcf6a04ff1b9e5f2ad24231be27f652bd.png

        • MNb

          Asks the guy who doesn’t care about evidence for Joseph being adopted.

        • Greg G.

          This is not simply Price’s argument. He combines the work of several scholars. Alone, they make strong arguments. Combined, they show that nearly every passage in Mark is drawn from other material.

          Mark started the story. John used Mark but he introduces a conundrum in John 7:41-42 about how the Christ could come from Galilee when he was supposed to be descended from David and born in Bethlehem. Matthew countered that by creating genealogy showing descent from David and making a big deal about the groups of 14, apparently because the name David in Hebrew numerology would represent 14 (4 + 6 + 4). However, the first 14, from Abraham to David is consistent with the Old Testament but the next fourteen omits four names. Further, the list that is supposed to be 28 from David has 27 names so Matthew apparently counted the Babylonian Exile as a generation. Also, one of the names included in the genealogy had a curse put on him that his offspring would not prosper.

          Then Matthew needed to get Jesus born in Bethlehem and the family to Nazareth. The narrative put them living in Bethlehem and Jesus being born but it mimics the story of Moses but more like Josephus’ account in Antiquities 2 than the Old Testament account with the dreams his father had. Antiquities 17 also tells the story of King Herod killing some of his younger relatives out of fear of prophecies of the Pharisees, which Matthew turned into Magi from the East who saw a star in the east, followed it, but somehow went west.

          Luke saw the problems with Matthew’s genealogy and corrected them with a more elegant genealogy, based on the Septuagint, that was 77 generations with God being number 1 and Jesus being number 77 with Abraham and David hitting on multiples of 7, too. Luke needed some names to fill out after David and many of them are similar to the Hasmodean names in Josephus’ genealogy.

          Luke seems to have cringed at Matthew’s account of the nativity with God allowing all those babies to be killed while Jesus escaped. His account had them living in Nazareth and had to go to Bethlehem because of the first event described in Antiquities 18. They never went to Egypt but they did go to Jerusalem to get Jesus circumcised on the eighth day.

          Matthew repeatedly uses OT verses taken out of context and pretends they were a prophecy. Using Hosea 11:1 is just another case. Price is saying that most modern scholars accept that. Mark does it, Luke does it, and John does it, too.

          Mark has Jesus perform miracles and tells the healed person to not tell but they do. John has Jesus showing off as signs.

          In Mark, Jesus prophesies Peter’s denial. The trial in front of the Sanhedrin is sandwiched around the denial. Jesus is smacked around and ordered to “Prophesy!” while his prophecy is being fulfilled. This is a literary device to show simultaneity but Mark is in omniscient narrator mode as nobody could have been in both places to know they happened simultaneously. It shows that this is a fictional story. But John also has Jesus prophesy Peter’s denial, he has Jesus being tried sandwiched around the denial but he omits the part about Jesus being ordered to prophesy. This is an indication that John was copying Mark but missed the point of the sandwich.

          You can look at one or two points like that and scoff it off as the similarities being coincidences. But when you have to do that with 80% of Mark, you have a pattern that cannot be a coincidence. When it becomes apparent that the other gospels authors rely on Mark and do the same thing, you don’t have actual stories about Jesus. You have fictional stories.

          The so-called fulfilled prophecies turn out to be retrodictions after the fact or fictional accounts written to match OT verses so they will look like prophecies.

          Then the epistles don’t support the teacher/preacher narrative of the gospels, either.

        • Agabu

          You speculate a great deal in your interpretative methodology by imagining . Accusing the Gospel writers of fabricating facts, plagiarism, disagreement while interesting is disingenuous. You don’t ask pertinent questions like why does Matthew for one quote Old Testament Scripture a lot to make His case about Jesus being the Son of God? You make leaps in logic like he’s guilty of wrenching texts out of context when as a Jew immersed in the body of Old Testament Scripture literature, he clearly has a better handle on how to read it than you, me or Bob Price. Reading his gospel on the terms he sets for it reveals that he did wrench any texts out of context. He applies Scriptures to Christ by acknowledging their immediate historical setting while highlighting what they were ultimately pointing to, which in this case was the coming Messiah. This was very well known to the Jews of his day. He takes the life of Christ and elaborates on how Jesus meets that criteria from birth to death and the eventual resurrection. Notice, I didn’t accuse Matthew of shoehorning anything. I just approached him on his terms, and let him speak for himself. This is how we are supposed to treat any writer.

          The Gospels are dealing with the same subject matter, Jesus Christ. Of course Matthew, Mark and Luke are going to have a great deal of the same information. This is what makes the Jesus story legitimately historical and plausibly true. They are going to have variations in their data at some junctures no doubt. But turning these variations into mountains of contradictions is disingenuous. Because each has different concerns for writing and a different target audience, reading them on their terms while giving each the benefit of the doubt is better since it helps try to get at what they meant and not speculate about what we think they meant.

        • Agabu

          I meant reading Matthew on his terms reveals that he DIDN’T wrench any texts out of context.

        • Greg G.

          You speculate a great deal in your interpretative methodology by imagining . Accusing the Gospel writers of fabricating facts, plagiarism, disagreement while interesting is disingenuous. You don’t ask pertinent questions like why does Matthew for one quote Old Testament Scripture a lot to make His case about Jesus being the Son of God? You make leaps in logic like he’s guilty of wrenching texts out of context when as a Jew immersed in the body of Old Testament Scripture literature, he clearly has a better handle on how to read it than you, me or Bob Price.

          I read the gospels at more than one level. If they cannot stand critical scrutiny, they should not be trusted and read naively. I consider what the author is trying to say but you are denying that Matthew takes OT verses out of context to pretend it is a fulfilled prophecy. It indicates that Matthew had no independent knowledge of Jesus and is inventing stories.

          The Gospels are dealing with the same subject matter, Jesus Christ. Of course Matthew, Mark and Luke are going to have a great deal of the same information. This is what makes the Jesus story legitimately historical and plausibly true. They are going to have variations in their data at some junctures no doubt. But turning these variations into mountains of contradictions is disingenuous. Because each has different concerns for writing and a different target audience, reading them on their terms while giving each the benefit of the doubt is better since it helps try to get at what they meant and not speculate about what we think they meant.

          It is disingenuous to say these variations are not contradictions so you can maintain a faith that there are no contradictions. I don’t have a problem with the gospels having contradictions. Subsequent gospels were trying to correct the earlier gospels.

        • Agabu

          Because they are not contradictions. I’ve no reason to maintain a faith that there are no contradictions. But I have a duty to treat Scripture responsibly. The very fact that you have no problem assuming the Bible has contradictions is why your interpretative methodology is suspect and lacks the ability to treat it responsibly.

          There may be difficulties in the Bible but the responsible read will seek to interpret Scripture with an eye on consistency. To ignore this is what is disingenuous. Difficulties in the Bible certainly exist. Irreconcilable differences with no discernible ways to be interpreted consistently, not so much.

        • MNb

          “I’ve no reason to maintain a faith that there are no contradictions.”
          Eh yes. All your attempts to rationalize them away are based on faith. In fact you admit it yourself.

          “The very fact that you have no problem assuming the Bible has contradictions is why your interpretative methodology is suspect and lacks the ability to treat it responsibly.”
          In other words: the only responsible methodology according to you is assuming that the Bible does not have any contradiction and use that to show that the Bible does not have any contradiction.

          “There may be difficulties in the Bible but the responsible read will seek to interpret Scripture with an eye on consistency.”
          In other words: you assume consistency to demonstrate consistency.
          ‘Cuz faith.

        • Agabu

          The only responsible interpretative methodology isn’t assuming there are no contradictions. It is working to get at the best possible interpretation that is consonant with broader biblical themes. There are any number of ways one may interpret portions of Scripture, the responsible student will seek the best interpretation possible.

          Consistency is something you aim at not because it’s first assumed but it is a guideline that helps in not treating a writer unfairly. I’m mindful of that even with respect to your posts so that I don’t say what you don’t. This is treating you fairly because I have an eye on consistency for your sake.

        • adam

          “There are any number of ways one may interpret portions of Scripture,
          the responsible student will seek the best interpretation possible.”

          Same with Spiderman or any other fiction..

        • MNb

          “The only responsible interpretative methodology isn’t assuming there are no contradictions.”
          Agreed. Unfortunately every single rationalization of yours is build on this very assumption.

          “It is working to get at the best possible interpretation”
          which is that it’s all manmade with no divine inspiration. That gets rid of all your made up rationalizations – like Joseph being adopted.

        • Agabu

          You still have hang ups about Joseph being adopted? What is implausible about that contention? In ancient Jewish society it wasn’t uncommon for someone to be adopted into another household and even assume that family’s ancestral pedigree. Since Matthew was writing to a largely Jewish audience, his genealogy reflects Jesus royal pedigrees. Luke on the other hand is writing to a non Jew called Theophilus. The genealogical account he writes about reflects its not purely Jewish nature. The Old Testament has detailed genealogical accounts that can be cross referenced to help aid in understanding why Matthew and Luke’s genealogical accounts differ. The information is all in the book.

          This explanation may not wholly satisfy you but it isn’t implausible.

        • Greg G.

          Being adopted and “assuming” the family’s pedigree is not the same as being David’s seed. It is a contradiction and you are making up something hoping it is plausible in one context but it is implausible in the context of what it is supposed to represent. Matthew also makes a big deal about the number 14 but he omitted three consecutive generations and a fourth elsewhere and the generations total 27 after David unless the Babylonian Exile is a generation as it is a marker in Matthew’s genealogy, like David is a marker.

        • Agabu

          The Gospel authors don’t give us extensively detailed genealogical accounts. They telescope their respective genealogical accounts. Which is to say they give us highlights. They include some people while omitting others for the sake of brevity. This is why Matthew condenses his account to to multiples of seven.The man was a professional tax collector. He knew his mathematics. His mathematical prowess is sprinkled through out his Gospel. A lot of things are organized around the number seven.

          Luke also pretty much summarizes his genealogy as well. Otherwise if neither summarised their gospel accounts would be nothing but lists of names.

        • Greg G.

          The man was a professional tax collector. He knew his mathematics. His mathematical prowess is sprinkled through out his Gospel. A lot of things are organized around the number seven.

          You are making stuff up again. In the first fourteen, Abraham is #1 and David is #14. In the second fourteen, Solomon is #1 and Jehoram was #6.

          Then three generations are skipped. If you check the genealogies in the Old Testament, there are only four names missing. I will get to the fourth below. Why would Matthew omit these three? It looks like a clerical error and maybe his confirmation bias kicked in when he noticed fourteens, like a checksum bit, so he didn’t feel a need to check his work.

          Uzziah becomes #7 and Josiah is #13. Jehoiakim is skipped. If Jeconiah is #14 in the second fourteen, then Jesus is #13 unless Matthew is counting the Exile as a generation.

          So Matthew must have been a wonderful tax collector if he couldn’t count to 14 reliably.

          But if we give Matthew the benefit of the doubt on the count and some scribe omitted the name because of:

          Jeremiah 36:29-31 (NRSV)
          29 And concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah you shall say: Thus says the Lord, You have dared to burn this scroll, saying, Why have you written in it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will cut off from it human beings and animals? 30 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning King Jehoiakim of Judah: He shall have no one to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night. 31 And I will punish him and his offspring and his servants for their iniquity; I will bring on them, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the people of Judah, all the disasters with which I have threatened them—but they would not listen.

          But that makes Matthew’s genealogy irrelevant. It is no wonder that Luke rejected it in favor of his own creation.

        • Agabu

          There you go again with spoon feeding Luke with rejecting Matthew’s account. Pure speculation. The fact that Luke constructs a different genealogical account has nothing to do with rejecting anything in Matthew. It has everything to do with reasons for writing. No where does Luke say He’s trying to correct any existing Gospel account, nor does He ever say He’s got one right in front of him to copy or correct. This is you reading these imaginative hypotheses into his writings.

        • Greg G.

          Luke certainly rejected the nativity story. Why wouldn’t he reject Matthew’s genealogy?

          No where does Luke say He’s trying to correct any existing Gospel account, nor does He ever say He’s got one right in front of him to copy or correct.

          Luke 1:1-4 (NRSV)1 Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us,  2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,  3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,  4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

          The fact that he has taken so much from Mark and Matthew verbatim plus the evidence of editorial fatigue when isn’t copying verbatim at the beginning of a passage but slips back into verbatim mode tells us he had them in front of him. The orderly account is to follow Mark’s chronology, primarily, but he mimics Deuteronomy for a large portion and adds clips of Mark and Matthew to it. If he was using another source for that besides Deuteronomy, it is remarkable that the Mark and Matthew bits are not repeated elsewhere. See Fatigue in the Synoptics for more.

        • Agabu

          Classic case of you not paying close attention to Matthew Greg. You’re so wrapped up in reading between the lines that you’ve forgotten to read the lines. Matthew is a first rate mathematician for an ancient as well as an astute teacher of Old Testament Scripture that credulous or careless readers can easily miss even the things he says plainly.

          Matthew in his account says the following in summarising Jesus’s family pedigree “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.” (1:17). Did you catch his rationale for fourteen generations from the exile to the Messiah? Read verse 17 again. Did you catch it now? I’m sure you’re asking yourself what am I missing here? Well here’s what you’re missing.

          Matthew counts fourteen generations from David to the exile. Notice he doesn’t mention a specific name. The second group of fourteen moves from David to the exile even though he ends it with Jeconiah the son of Josiah. The third group of fourteen he summarizes as from the exile to the Messiah even though the first name he begins that grouping with is Jeconiah. Jeconiah concludes the second grouping of fourteen while also headlining the third grouping of fourteen. Jeconiah is doubly counted to emphasize the continuation of the royal line of David. Jeconiah was the last of David’s descendants to seat as king of Judah. Matthew uses Jeconiah the man with royal pedigree to telescope the intervening descendants from Jeconiah to Shealtiel in order to keep the royal line flowing. At the very beginning of the chapter he tells us that he is giving us a “record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham.” (1:1). Jeconiah stands in place of the other descendants after him leading to Shealtiel as a literary device to summarize the genealogical account. or condensing the family line. He omits the other names not because they don’t matter but to keep the line moving seamlessly. For anyone who wants to know the omitted names, the Old Testament accounts have the more detailed lists of names in the family tree.

          Because Matthew telescopes the genealogy around the exile, he invites the discerning reader to count Jeconiah twice not because he is two people but because he is representative of the intervening descendants from himself to Shealtiel. So counting from Jeconiah as representative head of the intervening descendants after the exile to the Messiah is now 14 generations.

        • Greg G.

          Then Matthew was not a first rate mathematician and neither are you. You can’t count somebody twice unless you are consistent. Following your rationale, David should be counted twice. That throws off your counts. You are showing us how irrational one must be to be an inerrantist.

          Christian math is amazing.

          13 = 14
          3 = 1
          Pi = 3
          Pi = 1, by the commutative property

        • Well, we’ve already concluded that 3 = 1 by the Trinity property, so that opens doors for lots of options.

        • busterggi
        • Agabu

          Already explained in my piece why he counted him twice. Read the piece again. I use his own words to make the case. Methinks, you just don’t want to be wrong. So much for following evidence wherever it leads.

        • Greg G.

          I have already explained that Matthew didn’t count generations. If he “telescoped” the genealogy, he is lying when he makes a big deal out of there being fourteen generations. He omits names to get to fourteen and counts some people twice. That is Christian inerrantist math. If the fourteen generations is supposed to mean something, telescoping is dishonest. It is either fourteen generations or it is false and not inerrant.

        • Agabu

          Spoken like a real modern suffering from a headcase of chronological snobbery. “Matthew can’t be smart. He lived at a time of great superstition. I live today in an age of scientific enlightenment. There’s no way he can be smarter than me. I have computers and TV and YouTube. If he can’t write in a way I can understand today, he’s nothing but a hack. Ancient people dumb! Modern people smart.” Oy vey!

        • Greg G.

          You said he was an excellent mathematician based on the assumption that he was the Matthew mentioned in the gospel. I don’t think he was either. I allow that a scribe may have omitted a name and that Matthew may have made a mistake.

          You are attempting to make the words come out true by destroying the meaning of what it is saying. If Matthew omits names, then the fourteen generations have no meaning. Something has to give but the inerrantist is too stubborn to admit it.

          We see editorial fatigue where he is copying Mark, and even correcting Mark, but fails to maintain the correction. For example, in Mark 6, Herod is consistently called a king. Mark is basing the story on Esther. The “Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom” is clearly from Esther 5:2-3, 6. Since Esther is dealing with a king, Mark uses the title so it can be consistent with the use of “kingdom”. Matthew 14:1 correctly identifies Herod as a tetrarch. But a tetrarch would not be able to give half of a tetrarchy that was under ultimate control by the Romans away for a dance. But in Matthew 14:9, he slips up and calls Herod a king. That error is editorial fatigue.

        • Agabu

          I didn’t attempt anything. I simply followed his own reasoning and made conclusions to that effect. The fact that Matthew omits names by assuming them under Jeconiah is why his fourteen generations makes sense. He’s the one who says they were fourteen generations from the exile to the Messiah. He begins that third grouping with Jeconiah thus alerting us to start counting from there. The name Jeconiah is here mentioned as beginning the line leading to the Messiah. I’m just following him on his terms. You on the other hand just want him to do things your way. If his chronology doesn’t go like you think it should go then Matthew in your own words, “I allow that a scribe may have omitted a name and that Matthew may have made a mistake.” Sorry Greg, this isn’t reading Matthew on his terms but on yours. You allow for mistakes. I allow for me to be mistaken in understanding Matthew aright. This is why reading him on his terms is so important. It makes it easier to read him with a measure of consistency while giving him the benefit of the doubt albeit not taking for granted that he can’t make mistakes. The thing is apparent are resolvable with studious research and analysis.

        • Agabu

          I mean the thing is apparent contradictions or discrepancies are resolvable with studious research and analysis.

        • busterggi

          I mean the thing is contradictions or discrepancies are resolvable with bullshit research and retro-conning.

        • adam

          “I mean the thing is apparent contradictions or discrepancies are resolvable with studious research and analysis.”

        • Greg G.

          You aren’t using “studious research and analysis”, you are making up your own fictional accounts to reconcile real contradictions. You are trying to make the Bible trivially true by wrecking the text.

          If I were still a Christian, I would say you should pay attention to:

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

          You are taking away the meaning of the words “preparation for the passover” in John 19:14 and you adding to Matthew 1 by counting Jeconiah twice to get from 13 to 14. But I wouldn’t worry about the Revelation warning. It’s more make-believe.

        • Agabu

          Aaah…there it is. Left the faith did we? I’ve no problem or fear of the Bible being scrutinized. It’s truth is well established. Didn’t take away any meaning. Simply interpreted John 19:14 in context keeping in mind everything John says around it. John 19:31 clarifies exactly what the Day of Preparation really was thereby making sense of John 19:14 as the Day of Preparation coinciding with the Passover. You’re stuck on the English language translation phrasing of the passage the day of Preparation of the Passover. Thinking it can’t mean anything else other than the it’s allegedly the preparation day for the Passover. This is a misreading. It’s the Day of Preparation because the next day was a special Sabbath.like John says in verse 31 of chapter 19. The NIV rendering of verse 14 is therefore appropriate as the Day of Preparation of Passover Week.

          Not adding anything in Matthew 1. Just following his own train of thought. Inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

        • MNb

          And you’re inconsistent when it comes to adding stuff to the Gospels – like adoptive fathers. Thanks for confirming that you have a little mind.

        • MR

          Were you the one who posted the video of those guys reading verses from the Bible as if they were in the Koran? Imagine we took this guy’s arguments and presented them as if they represented Mohamed. How many Christians, I wonder would buy into all this telescoping and creative math and day juggling and adoptive fathers…. This is about as far from fair and objective as one can get. It doesn’t pass the smell test.

        • MNb

          Possibly, but I found the video at The Friendly Atheist.
          It doesn’t pass the smell test indeed, at least since he asked for “real contradictions”.

        • Agabu

          The only little mind is the one that still has hang ups about adoptive fathers. Seemingly not able to get it or let it go

        • Greg G.

          Aaah…there it is. Left the faith did we?

          There is what? I didn’t leave the faith, the faith left me. I tried to maintain it but it was a good thing when I stopped trying. That was almost 40 years ago. I’m over it.

          John is saying that it was a preparation day for the sabbath but it is a special one. He also said it was the preparation day for the Passover. That is why it is a special sabbath – because the Passover happens to be on the sabbath. There is no real reason for the Jews to have been concerned about becoming unclean because there is no law addressing anything like that but it tells us the did not eat. If the next day was the Passover, then Jesus and the disciples did not eat the Passover as the Synoptics say they did.

          You keep digging a deeper hole for yourself. You are going to disturb a Balrog.

          The NIV is notorious for making up words to hide contradictions. Show me the Greek word(s) that say “week”. I liked the NIV as a study Bible because of its footnotes and cross references but now I look at other translations for the text because the NIV is not honest for that. I’ve heard Christians call it the “Not Inspired Version” but that is because of where they were honest.

          But even it was a preparation day for the whole week, Jesus didn’t eat the Passover since it hadn’t begun yet.

          You keep trying to read things in that are not there. If the words you are adding were already there, it wouldn’t be the contradiction you deny. Your attempts to make up something underscores that the text is not there.

          When I point to a relevant passage for clarification you accuse me of pulling something out of context when it is not. When I pointed to Mark 13:10 and 30, you go to Matthew for clarification where Matthew has a completely different question. If it is an answer to a different question, it is out of context. If you are saying the context is the same, then we have a contradiction in the question and the answer. Still, any way you look at it, Mark still has a contradiction.

        • Dys

          resolvable with studious research and analysis.

          Or more commonly, an active imagination and a dogmatic refusal to admit that the bible is not inerrant.

        • Greg G.

          Bingo!

        • Agabu

          Inerrancy isn’t a pertinent matter in the discussion at hand for me. You’re the one making it an issue and presuming it. I haven’t even brought it up. Making unwarranted assumptions about someone is what we call prejudice.

        • Dys

          You haven’t brought up the term inerrancy, of course, but considering the way you’re dealing with the contradictions contained in the bible, it’s not difficult reading between the lines.

          Making unwarranted assumptions about someone is what we call prejudice.

          And if it was unwarranted, you’d have a point. But it isn’t, so you don’t. No victim card for you, I’m afraid.

        • MNb

          Don’t worry, Dys, if necessary Agabu will redefine “inerrancy” so that it doesn’t apply to stuff he/she doesn’t want to apply it to.

        • Greg G.

          You have to make up your own meanings for words to make the Passover meal work out and your own way of counting to get Matthew to work out. If you can make those changes, then everything is inerrant. 1+1=3 if you add one of the ones twice. True is false if false is defined as true. Your Bible doesn’t mean anything because you change everything to agree with you.

          Matthew follows the same pattern with the begats. Abraham does the first begat and Joseph does the begat of Jesus. Everyone in between Abraham and Jesus are mention as a son and then as the father. Matthew has no rational reason to count one person twice and four people not at all. You are forced to do weird math because you picked a silly religion and you are afraid to give it up because you can’t handle the truth.

        • Agabu

          There’s no such thing as Christian math. There’s just math. Jeconiah is counted twice not because 1 equals 2. But because 1 counts as one in one group and then counts as one in with respect to another group as a literary device summarising an ancestral lineage. Nothing complicated about it.

        • MNb

          Oh yes, there is such a thing. Two examples:

          http://thecreationclub.com/how-did-all-the-animals-fit-on-noahs-ark-jonathan-sarfati/
          http://recursed.blogspot.com/2016/01/yet-more-bad-creationist-mathematics.html
          Now I’m not saying that that kind of math reflects your views. I’m saying that that’s christian math.
          I find genealogies boring, but you would be not the first christian who writes about them – and applies christian math. It’s method is to adapt calculation as long as necessary to get the desired outcome.

        • Greg G.

          OK, I stand corrected that there is no Christian math. That explains why the names do not add up in Matthew 1. The term should be Christian dishonesty.

          If you are going to be consistent with what you call a literary device, then you must count David twice, too. If the first literary device is Abraham to David, and the second is David to the Exile, then you should count David with the second group because his name came first just as Abraham did for the first group. You are still screwed,

          Counting a name twice is stupid, inconsistent, and stupid.

          The literary device of skipping four generations and saying the number of generations is fourteen is also wrong.

          Jeconiah was king for about a hundred days when he was deposed by Nebuchanezzar and held in captivity for 37 years. When he was released, he stayed in Babylon. At least forty years later, Cyrus allowed the Jews to return under Zerubbabel who was a prince being actually descended from David, but under Jeconiah’s curse.

          Jeconiah was never in Israel after the Exile so there is no sane rationale to include him in the second group. It is just desperate apologetics.

          Furthermore, in Matthew and Luke, Jesus is not actually Joseph’s son, so Joseph’s hereditary and adopted lineages are irrelevant.

        • Agabu

          And the gold medal for awesome interpretative gymnastics trying to force Matthew to make his genealogy comport with the way we do geneaologies today goes to….

        • Greg G.

          Thank you for your tacit admissions of defeat.

          Unity in unity is word play my asphalt. “Faith matters” is word play. Unity in unity is ludicrous redundancy.

          My blood pressure is just ay okay, my Bible misinterpretating friend. I didn’t force the text to mean anything. I simply read it in context highlighting everything else happening around it. You on the other hand are simply fixated on the text without regard for context. No wonder your interpretative gymnastics are all over the place reading all sorts of things from elsewhere.

          And the gold medal for awesome interpretative gymnastics trying to force Matthew to make his genealogy comport with the way we do geneaologies today goes to….

          Unity in unity is a tautology. A redundancy could only be ludicrous if it was ludicrous without being a redundancy. Since that tautology happens to be true it is not ludicrous. But saying you have unity in diversity of beliefs is a mockery of Jesus’ prayer which is about a unity so complete that outsiders will be impressed by it. That couldn’t even be achieved when the church slaughtered the people with the diverse views.

          You are the one who is misinterpreting the Bible. The day of preparation for the Passover is the day before the first day of Passover Week or if we can allow that maybe it was the last day of Passover meal. Whether it was a day before a sabbath is irrelevant. The meal is not eaten before it is prepared on the day of preparation. If Jesus was arrested on the day of preparation for the Passover, as is clearly stated in John, then Jesus did not eat the Passover immediately before his arrest. Your argument is that “the day of preparation for the Passover” in John 19:14 means anything but what it says.

          As for the genealogies, it is not about how they did genealogies back then, it is about the ability to count past 13. Genealogy was important back then. That’s how kings were determined. They didn’t need to be accurate but they did need to be plausible to be accepted. Matthew didn’t omit any generations in the first fourteen. He claimed that there were exactly fourteen generations from David to the Exile. If he meant at least fourteen generations, it loses its magic as it eighteen is not as important in Hebrew numerology. It is ludicrous to count Jeconiah twice anyway, but since he never came back to Israel after he was freed from captivity, it is even more ludicrous to count him in the third fourteen.

          Than you for demonstrating how dishonest one has to be to be a Bible inerrantist.

        • Agabu

          Unity in unity is no tautology. It doesn’t repeat the same thought in different terms. It is useless repetition with the same term. That makes it, o yeah, redundant.

        • Greg G.

          OK. Now will you admit that if John says Jesus was on trial on the day of preparation for the Passover, he could not have eaten the Passover? If it was the day of the Passover meal, saying it was the day of preparation for the Passover is an error. If he meant it was the preparation for the sabbath, then it was an error to say it was a preparation for the Passover as he could have just said what he did in John 19:31. Saying that it was a preparation day for Passover Week means it was not yet the Passover so Jesus could not have eaten the Passover meal.

        • MNb

          “You’re so wrapped up in reading between the lines that you’ve forgotten to read the lines.”
          Says the guy who has no problem reading adoptive fathers between, beneath, above, everywhere but in the lines.

        • busterggi

          “Matthew is a first rate mathematician ”

          i would think a first rate mathematician should be able to do more than count to fourteen.

        • Greg G.

          Jeconiah stands in place of the other descendants after him leading to Shealtiel as a literary device to summarize the genealogical account. or condensing the family line.

          In other words, Matthew was deliberately lying about the number of generations, and not simply making an error by accidentally skipping a section of names. Using literary devices is a good way to make your math wrong.

        • adam

          “They include some people while omitting others for the sake of brevity. ”

          Same with any fiction series.

        • Greg G.

          Luke also pretty much summarizes his genealogy as well. Otherwise if neither summarised their gospel accounts would be nothing but lists of names.

          Luke gives every father-son combination listed in the Septuagint from Adam coming from God to Nathan being the son of David. The number of generations from that point is more plausible than the number in Matthew’s genealogy, but if it is not complete, there couldn’t be too many missing or the average age of fatherhood over 42 generations becomes implausibly young. Luke used Josephus a lot for the gospel and especially Acts and his genealogy when he ran out of Old Testament names appear to be quite similar to Josephus’ genealogy, which was Hasmonean and not from David.

          Matthew 1:12 and Luke 3:27 have a Shealtiel with a son named Zerubbabel, which is consistent with Ezra 3:2. In Matthew, Shealtiel is the son of Jeconiah but 1 Chronicles 3:19 has a Zerubbabel as the son of Pedaiah, a son of Jeconiah. Luke has Shealtiel as the son of Neri. Nowhere does Zerubbabel have a son named Rhesa [Luke] nor Abiud [Matthew].

        • MNb

          “They include some people while omitting others for the sake of brevity.”
          Ah yes – accuracy when it suits you and rationalized inaccuracy when accuracy doesn’t suit you.
          Excellent method.

        • Agabu

          And how many people do you know that have been adopted into a family and are still not considered part of the family, and not sharing in its name?

        • Greg G.

          That’s irrelevant. The OT “prophecy” was that the Messiah would be from David’s seed.

          Some people consider their dog to be part of the family but it still isn’t descended from apes.

        • Agabu

          Now that’s just silly Greg. You’re going to be talking about dogs now? We’re talking about legal adoptions where a person takes on a family’s name. If you adopt a child, you will be for all intents and purposes the father of that child. This would make your father his or her grandfather. That’s how adoption works. Bringing in dogs is just grasping at straws. Your position is just plain ludicrous and weak.

        • Greg G.

          It is to employ reductio ad absurdum to your argument. A person or pet can be considered a member of the family, but the genetic heritage does not come with it. If your understanding made sense with respect to the so-called prophecy, then anybody could consider themselves a descendant of David and a potential Messiah so the prophecy would be meaningless.

          Either the word for “seed” means a direct descendant or it is meaningless. Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9 forbid growing different crops in the same field. Could you get out of it by saying that your wheat seeds adopted those barley seeds so it’s OK.

        • MNb

          “We’re talking about legal adoptions where a person takes on a family’s name.”
          Then undoubtedly you will provide the legal evidence that such a thing happened.
          We are waiting in anticipation.

        • adam

          “We are waiting in anticipation vain.”

          ftfy

        • MNb

          “What is implausible about that contention?”
          There is zero evidence. It’s made up. An ad hoc explanation. Explaining the problem away. It looks like cognitive dissonance, it smells like cognitive dissonance, it is cognitive dissonance.
          It’s a perfect example of demonstrating consistency by assuming consistency, with only one criterium: the explanation makes you underbelly feel warm and cozy.

        • Greg G.

          I am treating the text objectively. You are bending over backwards to accommodate your claim that there are no contradictions. You just said that John has Jesus eating the Passover when it clearly states that he was tried on the day of Preparation for the Passover. That is irresponsible gullibility.

        • Agabu

          You are hardly treating it objectively Greg. Read the text again closely. This isn’t the day of Preparation for the Passover as you say. It is the day before Sabbath. Normally Friday was the day people prepared for the Sabbath. Jesus’s crucifixion happened during Passover Week an important Jewish festival. The day of Preparation John mentions has more to do with the approaching Sabbath day than the Passover. Compare different English translations of the Bible and you’ll see that John didn’t say anything of what you’re accusing him of.

        • Greg G.

          Ha, ha, ha. Read John 18:28 again. It is not me that is saying it was the day of preparation for the Passover, John 19:14 says it.

          Compare different English translations of the Bible and you’ll see that John didn’t say anything of what you’re accusing him of.

          GOD’S WORD® Translation
          The time was about six o’clock in the morning on the Friday of the Passover festival. Pilate said to the Jews, “Look, here’s your king!”

          New American Standard 1977
          Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”

          Jubilee Bible 2000
          And it was the preparation of the passover and about the sixth hour; then he said unto the Jews, Behold your King!

          King James 2000 Bible
          And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said unto the Jews, Behold your King!

          American King James Version
          And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said to the Jews, Behold your King!

          American Standard Version
          Now it was the Preparation of the passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, Behold, your King!

          Douay-Rheims Bible
          And it was the parasceve of the pasch, about the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews: Behold your king.

          Darby Bible Translation
          (now it was [the] preparation of the passover; it was about the sixth hour;) and he says to the Jews, Behold your king!

          English Revised Version
          Now it was the Preparation of the passover: it was about the sixth hour. And he saith unto the Jews, Behold, your King!

          Webster’s Bible Translation
          And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith to the Jews, Behold your King!

          Weymouth New Testament
          It was the day of Preparation for the Passover, about six o’clock in the morning. Then he said to the Jews, “There is your king!”

          World English Bible
          Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, at about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”

          Young’s Literal Translation
          and it was the preparation of the passover, and as it were the sixth hour, and he saith to the Jews, ‘Lo, your king!’

          And from the Textus Receptus:
          John 19:14 ἦν δὲ παρασκευὴ τοῦ πάσχα ὥρα δὲ ὡσεὶ ἕκτη καὶ λέγει τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις Ἴδε ὁ βασιλεὺς ὑμῶν

        • Agabu

          I salute you for bringing up the various English language translations of the Bible.

          But once again, the day of Preparation isn’t the day before the Passover. It is the day before Sabbath during Passover Week. Thus the various translations can say it’s the day of Preparation “for” or “of” the Passover due to the fact that the festival lasted a whole week (Exodus 12:14-15). Each rendering is simply emphasizing the fact that it’s the Friday before Sabbath /Saturday for or the Passover. The best possible interpretation here is to read John in this way because if you don’t you end reducing the Passover to just a mere day when Jews actually celebrated it a whole week as per command in the Torah. Notice that in the Old Testament there’s no mention of a so called day of Preparation for the Passover. The day of Preparation was typically preparation for the approaching Sabbath. But this day of Preparation was during the Passover..

        • adam

          “But once again, the day of Preparation isn’t the day before the Passover.”

          NO problem then demonstrating your claim with facts…

        • Greg G.

          Did you notice the dishonest translation of the GOD’S WORD® Translation? There is nothing in the Greek that says it was a Friday. It is a purely dishonest theological translation.

          The Festival of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days. The Passover meal is eaten on the evening of the fourteenth day. See Leviticus 23:5. The day of Preparation for the Passover may not have had the name proscribed in the Old Testament but Christmas and Easter aren’t named in the New Testament, either. But the day before was used for preparation as seen in this example:

          2 Chronicles 35:1
          Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

          Reread John 18:28. The Jews had not eaten their Passover meal.

        • Agabu

          Duty calls. I shall return later.

        • Agabu

          Greg, you’ve made much of the fact that the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John contradict each other over the Passover. Unfortunately for you, you’ve so misconstrued the whole scene that you’re entangled in a web of inconsistencies in your own interpretative methodology. Let’s unpack this.

          Indeed Matthew, Mark and Luke have Jesus eating the Passover on the FIRST DAY of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-38). Matthew and Mark specifically place Jesus eating the Passover on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is interesting. Why? Because the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the fifteenth day of the first month and the day after the Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth of the first month (Leviticus 23:5). Luke simply tells us that the day of Unleavened Bread came on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Mark frames it slightly different by saying it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb on that first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When you go back to the Old Testament God says of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, “On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.” (Exodus 12:16). John tells us that it was just before the Passover Feast (John 13:1). Notice that he doesn’t say it was the day before the day of the Passover Meal. He then proceeds to tell us in verse 2 of chapter 13 that the evening meal was being served. When we link this to the initial setup in verse 1 about it being just before the Passover Feast then this evening meal becomes the Passover Feast that was just about to be served. In other words, Jesus and His disciples were preparing to eat their Passover Meal/Feast. In John’s Gospel then Jesus and His disciples have the Passover on the day He was arrested. So what of your point alleging that John clearly states that he was tried on the day of Preparation for the Passover?

          In the first place keep in mind that Jews reckoned days differently from the way we do today. For them a day started at sunset. So the evening or night part was the first part of the day of any day. Jesus and His disciples in John have the EVENING MEAL. It is therefore clear that John’s time stamp “it was just before the Passover Feast.” is pointing to the day ending as the evening was approaching for start of the next day, which would be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread like the Synoptic Gospels say on which it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb. John therefore is in harmony with the Matthew, Mark and Luke since he explicitly tells us it was just before the Passover Feast which would start the moment evening came.

          When evening came it was thus officially the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on which it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb as well as eat the Passover Meal. Jesus was arrested during the night on the same day He ate the Passover Meal/Feast. Once again, keep in mind that the night part was the first part of the day and the morning/afternoon part was the latter part of the day. The arrest of Christ happens in the night on the day of Preparation for or of the Passover. Jesus had His Passover Meal in the early evening on the day of Preparation for the Passover. The book of Exodus has God commanding the Israelites to do no work at all on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread except to prepare food for everyone to eat (Exodus 12 :16). This is what we see happening in John’s Gospel especially when he tells us the evening meal was being served. John 18:28 says, “Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.” Did you catch that? John says it was early morning. Still the same day Jesus had His Passover Meal by ancient Jewish reckoning of time. Greg it is still the same day. The Passover Meal could be had at any time during the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All the Jews could do that day was to prepare food for everyone to eat as per Exodus 12 prescription. John clearly regards this day Passover. The grammatical structure in English may seem to suggest that the time of the Passover Meal had not yet come, but read in context keeping everything in mind from all the way back in chapter 13 of John’s Gospel we see that the whole festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread, which lasted seven days and included a number of meals is in presently going on. It’s not that the Jews hadn’t eaten the Passover Meal yet. It’s that the whole day was Passover from the first sunset to the next one. This is precisely why they didn’t enter Pontius Pilate’s palace in order, as the text says, to avoid ceremonial uncleanness.

          Furthermore, this day is called the day of Preparation in John 19:14 not because the Jews were preparing for Passover the next day but because the next day was to be a special Sabbath (John 19:31). You see that reading John’s account with a great deal of care has him clarify Himself. We see then that John’s Gospel doesn’t at all conflict or contradict the Synoptic Gospels unless one haphazardly quotes isolated verses wrenched out of context from the natural flow of the narrative. This is what you unfortunately have done my friend.

        • You see that reading John’s account with a great deal of care has him clarify Himself.

          Why a great deal of care? Why isn’t it obvious? Is God such a poor editor that he can’t make sure that his perfect message gets out there perfectly?

          If you must turn cartwheels to see things a certain way, ask yourself if you’re following the evidence or just adjusting the evidence to support a conclusion you’ve already made.

        • MR

          All this talk about objective and fair and it’s special pleading ever since. 😛

        • Agabu

          Why a great deal of care you ask? Because any written accounts dealing with complex issues even in story form require it. John’s Gospel is generally written with admirable simplicity but there are things in there highly detailed and thus complex thereby warranting appropriately careful analysis and study.

        • My point remains: when you see easy and difficult passages in the Bible, you’re adapting it to your conclusion. Admit it to yourself, even if you won’t to us.

        • adam

          “Because any written accounts dealing with complex issues even in story form require it. ”

          So YOUR ‘god’ couldnt make this clear?

          No wonder virtually NOBODY agrees about what the bible says.

        • busterggi
        • adam
        • busterggi

          well this is the same god who couldn’t get his biographers to agree on who visited the so-called empty tomb and who they found there – 4 gospels, 4 versions.

        • Greg G.

          God couldn’t keep track of Abel when there were only four people on the planet.

        • adam

          He couldnt keep track of Adam and Eve when there was only 2 people on the planet.

          Genesis 3:8

          And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

        • Greg G.

          There are Bible Inerrantist Christians who take Matthew 12:40 as seriously that Jesus was in the tomb for three full days and three full nights. They infer that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday and arose on Saturday afternoon but the body was discovered missing the next morning. Their position is as strong as yours but they cannot use your argument.

          When the synoptics say that they made preparations on the first day of the unleavened bread, they are wrong. Matthew dropped only the killing part but Mark and Luke have it. The first day of unleavened bread begins in the evening and you make that point. But the preparations are done the day before. The lamb or goat was killed “between the twilights” – after dawn but before dusk but usually interpreted to mean before dark, on the day before and the meal was eaten when the new day began. The OT says the Feast of the Unleavened Bread begins at the evening of the 14th day, that is the beginning of the fifteenth. See Leviticus 23:5, Exodus 12:5-6 and Exodus 12:18-19 for when the Passover was offered, when the meat was slaughtered and when the Feast of the Unleavened Bread begins and ends. An example of how that goes is Leviticus 23:27 saying the Day of Atonement is on the tenth day of the month and Leviticus 23:32 says it begins in the evening of the ninth day.

          But you are stuck with Jesus and the disciples having eaten the Passover but John says the Jews didn’t eat the Passover and John says it was the day of preparation for the Passover. If the Jews didn’t eat the Passover, then Jesus and the disciples didn’t either because it was not the evening of the fourteenth day (the beginning of the fifteenth day) of the first month.

          I haven’t found any historical references to a special Passover. The only references seem to be Christian lore trying to resolve this problem.

          But that is just a symptom of a bigger problem. Mark used some Aramaic terms and some Latin terms but explained the Aramaic words, which indications that his intended audience was familiar with Latin but not Aramaic. He explains the name Bartimaeus so his readers know that “bar” means “son of”. In Gethesemane, Mark has Jesus pray “Abba, Father” so his readers will associate “Abba” and “father”. When Barabbas is introduced to be released, the readers should know that a second “Son of the Father” is being released indicating that Jesus is like the scapegoat that is killed for the sins of Israel in Leviticus 16:5-22, so Jesus is a sin offering.

          For John, Jesus is the Passover Lamb being killed on the preparation day for the Passover. But the Passover lamb is not a sin offering, it is a memorial. So the theology of the Synoptics is at odds with John’s theology, as well as their significant interpretations of the crucifixion.

          I hope you limbered up before doing all that twisting. You’ll be sore two days from now. The Synoptics still say Jesus had the Passover meal before he was arrested and John clearly says that the Jews did not eat before Jesus was arrested and John gives a reason for why they didn’t – because the Passover had yet to be prepared. You are going against the clear meaning of the words and inventing stories to make it sort of be consistent.

        • Agabu

          My interpretation is consistent through out. Your interpretation is convoluted and needlessly complicated juxtaposed with unnecessary scriptural citations. There’s so much crank exegesis in it, it’s not even funny.John doesn’t even say the Jews didn’t eat before Jesus had been arrested. All he says is, “the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover” (John 18:28). It is the day of the Passover. There was an evening meal (which they most likely ate) and a morning/afternoon meal to come which is what is being referred to as per Exodus 12 :16 prescription. Dude, you’re just flat out wrong on this one.

        • Greg G.

          All he says is, “the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover” (John 18:28).

          No, John 19:14 says it was the day of preparation for the Passover, not the Passover.

          It is a contradiction to say that it was the day of the Passover and the day before the Passover.

          Where does it say in Hebrew Law that entering the Praetorium makes one unable to eat the Passover? Did it make the foreskin grow back or something?

        • busterggi

          If it does then I’m going to schedule a visit to the Praetorium asap – no one asked my permission 61 years ago to lop pieces off randomly.

        • Agabu

          There you go again trying to use one text as a pretext without regard for context to simply maintain conflict among the Gospels. You really are bending over backwards to keep the contradictions as you see them. My interpretation is consistent and the simplest one with the fewest assumptions. Occam’s Razor dude. Occam’s Razor.

        • Greg G.

          What are you talking about? I am the one say that the words “day of preparation of the Passover” means the day of preparation of the Passover. You are the one who is trying to force it to mean the day of preparation for sabbath and that Jesus ate it but the Jews didn’t. You should use the unsalted pretzel logic to keep your blood pressure in check.

          I am going with what the text says and you are making assumptions that it means something that it doesn’t say. That’s your blood from mishandling Occam’s Razor.

        • Agabu

          My blood pressure is just ay okay, my Bible misinterpretating friend. I didn’t force the text to mean anything. I simply read it in context highlighting everything else happening around it. You on the other hand are simply fixated on the text without regard for context. No wonder your interpretative gymnastics are all over the place reading all sorts of things from elsewhere.

        • adam

          “There may be difficulties in the Bible but the responsible read will seek to interpret Scripture with an eye on consistency. ”

          No with an eye on wishful thinking, i.e. ‘faith’

    • adam

      “We have the life of Jesus preserved in the Gospels”

      And of course we have the life of Peter Parker…preserved as well.

      • Agabu

        So what? What does Peter Parker have to do with Jesus?

        • MNb

          A smart 12 years old kid wouldn’t have asked that question.

        • Agabu

          Then that would be the dumbest smart 12 year old. If he’s smart at all, he’ll ask questions even when it may seem dumb to do so. Because if he wants to know anything, he’s gotta be smart enough to know that the only way to learn is to ask questions.

        • adam

          “So what? What does Peter Parker have to do with Jesus?”

          same kind of human created fantasy…

        • Agabu

          Your ignorance is breathtaking.

        • adam

          Ah, so YOU DONT believe in the bible.
          Good.

        • adam

          OBVIOUSLY, since you can’t even demonstrate it.

    • adam

      “Show us how Jesus prophecy failed ”

      Because earth is still here:

      • Neil Carter calls this “The most fantastically failed prayer in history”:

        [Jesus said:] My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20–23)

        Complete unity? Hardly. Christianity is evolving rapidly, with 45,000 denominations and counting.

        Sorry, Jesus.

        • Agabu

          Ha ha ha! Really Bob? Another poor attempt to prove Jesus wrong? The only thing wrong here is you and Neil Carter’s inept reading of Christ.

          Yes, the Christian landscape is diverse with many Church denominations. But that is just the point . Christianity possesses a diversity in its visible expressions. We don’t have the uniformity of Islam and other world religions. We are rather a university consisting of a variety of expressions of faith and practice. Granted there are sections of disunity over certain particulars but that is to be expected when not everyone is going to be well intentioned or committed to essential truths of the Christian faith.

          In any case, Jesus prayer which you just quoted above has long been answered, and the ripples of its power have moved from generation to generation. Christ prays for a unity of being in him and He in us. This is a metaphor for a deep abiding relationship, kind of like when we say someone will always be in our hearts. How is Jesus in His followers and His followers in Him? And how does this translate to complete unity? One is in Jesus when one believes in him. Christ’s prayer for all believers is prefaced with praying for those who will believe in me through their (His original band of disciples) message. Earlier in context he prayed for His original band of disciples with the words, “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” To believe in Jesus is to accept His words (i.e. teachings) along with actually believing Him. The unity that Jesus prays for is a unity of trust in Him. He is the object and subject of faith. Everything revolves around Him in true Churches. If a visible expression faith in a particular identifiable denomination sustains belief in Christ or complete trust in Him as the Son of God then that church is in Christ and one with any other church body that does the same no matter the denomination variations. Jesus wasn’t praying against denominations. He was objectively praying for a relational unity that was underlined by total trust in Him as God’s Son. There’s real unity across the diverse Churches that is built on one faith in Christ the Lord and hundreds of thousands of people put their faith in Christ all around the world every year. This is why Christianity maintains its position as the largest religion in the world. And it is also unsurprisingly has the largest number of people targeted for terrible persecution according to the U.N.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus prayed for complete unity, not complete diversity. The unity was supposed to show “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” A diversity of opinions does not show unity. There has never been complete unity in Christianity. Galatians shows that Paul didn’t agree with Cephas and he expresses disdain for the pillars, who he identifies as Cephas, James, and John.

        • Agabu

          We have unity in diversity. There is such a thing you know.

        • adam

          “We have unity in diversity. There is such a thing you know. “

        • Greg G.

          That graphic fits AN to a T. If you don’t count all the generations and you count this one guy twice, the math comes out perfect.

        • Greg G.

          “Unity in diverstiy” is not apparent to show that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” To have the prayer answered, it would have to be unity in unity, because it must impress outsiders. If Christians can’t agree on whether the Bible is inerrant, whether science is legitimate, how salvation works, agreement that the sabbath must be observed but disagreement on which day is the sabbath, a Trinity or straight Monotheism, and more. Agreeing on a few points is not unity.

          If you have to redefine words to support your religious beliefs, your religious beliefs aren’t worth holding. It is just word play. I like puns but I my life won’t revolve around them.

        • Agabu

          Hahaha! Hahaha!

          Unity in unity? What the heck is that?

          Should we now start talking about unmarried bachelors? Or better yet, diversity in diversity?
          Hahaha! You crack me up man. Unity in unity.

        • Greg G.

          “Unity in unity” is word play. You started it.

        • Agabu

          Unity in unity is word play my asphalt. “Faith matters” is word play. Unity in unity is ludicrous redundancy.

        • adam

          “We have unity in diversity.”

          Yes, but you have a talking snake, a talking donkey, wizards, sticks turning into snakes, demons, people walking on water too.

        • MNb

          Yeah. That worked nicely during the religious wars of the 16th and 17th Century. Entire diverse christianity united in war.
          I rather prefer the Surinamese version of Unity in Diversity (it’s the national motto). It includes atheists like me. I can’t remember Jesus preaching about that one.

        • But that is just the point . Christianity possesses a diversity in its visible expressions.

          Diversity = unity? I suppose also War = Peace, Freedom = Slavery, and Ignorance = Strength from 1984. Welcome to Dystopia.

          In any case, Jesus prayer which you just quoted above has long been answered

          When you lie, baby Jesus cries. If you’re talking about a oneness between each Christian and Jesus, that’s going to be hard when there is a diversity of Christian routes to get there, with many declaring that the others’ routes are bogus.

          Everything revolves around Him in true Churches.

          Are the Christians who go to not-true churches united with Jesus? You’ll say that they’re not really Christians … and prove my point.

          There’s real unity across the diverse Churches that is built on one faith in Christ the Lord

          Does it matter which Christian door I go in? Can I be a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Baptist or JW or Christian Scientist or Mormon? Or are there (dare I say it?) routes in this diversity that are wrong?

          it is also unsurprisingly has the largest number of people targeted for terrible persecution according to the U.N.

          What study are you thinking of?

        • Greg G.

          What study are you thinking of?

          My guess is that he means a small percentage of the world’s Christians who are trapped in countries under the threat of ISIS. But even a random threat of violence will have the largest group under the threat will be whichever group has the largest percentage of the population in it.

        • There are quite a few Muslims that’ve gotten on the wrong side of ISIS as well.

          What also comes to mind is a recent report about Christian “martyrs” which was simply about people who were killed who happened to be Christian, presumably mostly the killings in Zaire.

        • Agabu
        • Muslim persecution is also real and a problem. Does that bother you as well? I’m trying to figure out if you’re saying “people are being persecuted” or if it’s just “people like me are being persecuted.” If the latter, you’re encouraging me to not care.

        • Agabu

          Yes Muslim persecution does bother me. The persecution of anyone regardless of beliefs bothers profoundly. My point is that Christians experience far greater levels of persecution than any other group. Whether you agree with Christianity or not isn’t the issue. The issue they shouldn’t be so mistreated for their faith. The fact that you are trying to cloud the issue is greatly disturbing. Because I most certainly wouldn’t want you to experience persecution even for your atheist beliefs. Bob, please don’t trivialize the suffering of others. It’s is irresponsible, insensitive and just plain wicked.

        • MNb

          “My point is that Christians experience far greater levels of persecution than any other group.”
          Great job downplaying the suffering of all other groups – something you called plain evil just above.

        • adam

          “My point is that Christians experience far greater levels of persecution than any other group. ”

          “Great job downplaying the suffering of all other groups – something you called plain evil just above.”MNb

        • Bob, please don’t trivialize the suffering of others.

          I don’t. I’m neither a Christian nor a Muslim, but persecution of either bothers me.

          That you ignored my suggestion makes me wonder if it’s actually you who’s at fault here. When you say, “I’m a Christian, and persecution of fellow Christians bothers me,” you’re encouraging me to say, “Well, I’m not, so why should I care?” Much more effective would be for you to say, “Persecution of anyone for their religion bothers me, regardless of whether they share my religious beliefs or not.”

        • adam

          ““Persecution of anyone for their religion bothers me, regardless of whether they share my religious beliefs or not.””

          But how can worshipers of the “God of Abraham” do so when CLEARLY that ‘god’ says something completely opposite?

          They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

          Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must
          examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

          If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have
          not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

        • I’m guessing Agabu picks and chooses the passages to follow. I’ll bet he even rejects slavery and genocide.

        • 1no Yamanaka

          What a hideous old queen.
          I bet when you expose your little thingy to 3rd-grade boys, they laugh really hard.

        • Greg G.

          Nice way to introduce yourself. Now we have an impression of you.

        • busterggi

          He’s no REAL Christian.

        • Agabu

          Didn’t ignore your suggestion, and certainly didn’t even say “I’m a Christian and persecution of Christians bothers me.” You asked for the source of the data for the persecution of Christians with the three sources identifying that they simply suffer for their faith. I gave you three. Instead you sidestep this with questions about whether I care if Muslims are persecuted too. I opted to address your query and say I am bothered by it too, and even added that I’d be bothered if someone like you underwent persecution for your beliefs. Receiving data that shows that Christian persecution is indeed a big problem should simply have invoked a sympathetic response not evasive maneuvers about me not asking the question rightly.

        • Didn’t ignore your suggestion, and certainly didn’t even say “I’m a Christian and persecution of Christians bothers me.”

          Sounded like it to me. You said: “This is why Christianity maintains its position as the largest religion in the world. And it is also unsurprisingly has the largest number of people targeted for terrible persecution according to the U.N.” That looks like a partisan take on religious persecution to me.

          Receiving data that shows that Christian persecution is indeed a big problem should simply have invoked a sympathetic response not evasive maneuvers about me not asking the question rightly.

          You said, “Bob, please don’t trivialize the suffering of others. It’s is irresponsible, insensitive and just plain wicked.” That was in response to my suggestion that you focus on religious persecution (of which there is plenty) rather than persecution of your own group.

          You say you’re simply passing on information about Christian persecution? OK, thanks. And I in return am trying to point out how your focus on just your people is off-putting.

        • Agabu

          That’s a shame. Pointing out the the difficulties of an identifiable group shouldn’t be as you say, “off-putting.” Mentioning their plight specifically was meant to inform and simply engender understandable concern & compassion.

        • I’m just trying to give you a tip, bro. This is an opportunity to make your argument more compelling.

          Pointing out how your people are hurting, while potentially valid and informative, is simply missing an opportunity to reach across the aisle and talk instead about how lots of people are hurting.

          But this conversation isn’t going anywhere. If my suggestion isn’t appealing, OK.

        • Agabu

          Point taken Bob. Thanks!

        • adam

          “http://webtv.un.org/watch/the-…”
          A variety of speakers who are demanding the world help protect Christians around the globe.

          Probably people just like you.

          http://erlc.com/issues/quick-f
          In 41 of the 50 worst nations for persecution, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic extremists.

          So you have worshipers of the “God of Abraham” persecuting OTHER worshipers of the “God of Abraham”

          Childish jealousy over who sky daddy loves most and will leave it’s estate to.

          http://www.statista.com/statis
          In 41 of the 50 worst nations for persecution, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic extremists.

          So you have worshipers of the “God of Abraham” persecuting OTHER worshipers of the “God of Abraham”

          Childish jealousy over who sky daddy loves most and will leave it’s estate to.
          .
          .
          .
          What do almost all of these have in common?
          The “God of Abraham”

          There IS YOUR problem….

        • Agabu

          And then we have someone like you trivializing the immense suffering of others. What kind of person are you? People are losing life and limb, and all you can do is continue to showing a disdain for people you disagree with even in their suffering. Dude, this is just plain evil. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

        • MNb

          Pointing out the cause of that suffering is not the same as trivializing.

        • Agabu

          And that is how you show your compassion. The issue is people are being grossly mistreated. Your response should simply be, “That is horrible. My sympathies to the hurt and afflicted.” Insensitive musings about causes and such are morally reprehensible. There’s something wrong with your moral bearings Mnb

        • adam

          ” The issue is people are being grossly mistreated.”

          Crusades, Inquisitions, witch burnings, gay killings, etc, etc, etc..

        • Greg G.

          “That is horrible. My sympathies to the hurt and afflicted.”

          That response is right unless you have the power to stop the pain and suffering. If God is omnipotent, he should have stopped it unless he is allowing it for some reason. If it was for a good reason, God should be able to achieve that reason without the suffering. Therefore, God is allowing the suffering with no good reason.

        • Agabu

          The point is to just show some heart, concern or compassion. If you can do something about it you do your part. Sneaking in the matter of what God’s role is in all this is another matter entirely. I’m just talking about you and my response when faced with such realities in our world

        • Greg G.

          You are taking atheists to task over their responses to the suffering. Why not take God to task over the suffering? Don’t you think he is powerful enough? It’s a good way to see if you really believe in the god or if you just want to believe. It is harder to argue justifications for suffering when you have an example of it in front of you instead of a sterile definition of it.

          What can that suffering do that God could not achieve without the suffering? If God is potent enough to make do without the suffering, then God is not benevolent because the suffering is gratuitous.

        • Agabu

          Yes I am taking atheists to task. Because if you’re human at all, show that you feel something. Exhibit concern or empathy for your fellow human beings irrespective of what they believe. If you don’t, then vile people like the Nazis, Stalin, Mao Zedong and such are pretty much good company. The God question is besides the point.

        • MNb

          “Exhibit concern or empathy for your fellow human beings ”
          Hehhehhehhehheh.
          See how prejudiced and judgmental you are? Nothing is easier for me.
          I live here.

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

          This is the school where I teach:

          http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49419631

          Due to inflation my salary has gone down from 600 USD to 450 USD within a year. Not a big deal, though. My belly remains full, but I have some doubts about some of my poorer pupils.

          An ex-pupil (watch that guy, he may become a top-athlete) with some kids who may enter my school within a few years:

          http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=foto+Miquel+van+Assen&view=detailv2&qpvt=foto+Miquel+van+Assen&id=2001896CBA525C85112B72E36F57A95086F4622D&selectedindex=1&ccid=pT4pV28U&simid=608034406401969885&thid=OIP.Ma53e29576f14b938d8d7fc6adb1f739fo0&mode=overlay&first=1

          And how do you react when I write that pointing out a cause of suffering is not the same as trivializing?
          You condemn my morality and end up with “meh”. Who do you think you are – the executive manager of your imaginary sky daddy?

        • Greg G.

          I do have empathy for those who are suffering there. They are not the only people who are suffering in this world. Don’t trivialize the suffering of non-Christians by insisting that we focus on those incidents involving the Christians only. Did you only bring them up to flaunt your compassion to tut-tut us when we point out other sufferers.

          You are very reluctant to discuss suffering with reference to God. Is it cognitive dissonance? Yes, people suffer as well as animals in general. We feel bad for them. If we live in an indifferent universe, it is only natural. If we live in an intelligently designed universe, why did the designer make the limits of agony so extreme? Why make creatures capable of feeling pain instead of being intelligent enough to recognize the advantages of not doing detrimental things?

        • adam

          “Sneaking in the matter of what God’s role is in all this is another matter entirely.”

          Unless your ‘god’ is IMAGINARY, it’s role is KEY.

        • MNb

          And ….. we can enjoy the spectacle of another righteous christian wiping his moral ass with Mattheus 7:1.
          Sorry, Oh Righteous One, I never defend myself against stupid accusations like yours. What you think of my moral bearing can oxidate at my lower end of my digestive system. Especially how you hypocritically are jumping from christians being grossly mistreated to people being grossly mistreated.
          Or perhaps you implied that only christians are people. Fortunately I know a lot of christians who know me better than you: my colleages, my pupils and their parents. So I can afford to laugh at a stupid apologist like you.

          “Insensitive musings about causes and such are morally reprehensible.”
          Yeah. Your god may forbid that we would gain some understanding about these causes, what would allow us to actually do something about those gross mistreatments. The idea! Then Agabu wouldn’t have nothing left to whine about. We can’t have that.

        • Agabu

          So your response is to:
          1. Insult (So I can afford to laugh at a stupid apologist like you.)
          2. be manipulative (Especially how you hypocritically are jumping from christians being grossly mistreated to people being grossly mistreated.)
          3. Be mean-spirited (Sorry, Oh Righteous One, I never defend myself against stupid accusations like yours.)
          4. Be overbearing (perhaps you implied that only christians are people. Fortunately I know a lot of christians who know me better than you: my colleages, my pupils and their parents.)
          5. Ridicule (Then Agabu wouldn’t have nothing left to whine about. We can’t have that.)
          6. Attack with vulgarity and/or make lewd remarks (What you think of my moral bearing can oxidate at my lower end of my digestive system.)

          I’m sure you’re an upstanding guy in your family, social & work sphere(thumbs up for that). Your remarks here on this comment section (and just speaking of them and nothing else) aren’t putting you in a positive light.

        • MNb

          “So your response is to”
          Yup. Six times yes.
          The important thing is though that I have the facts at my side and you don’t. Like when you write

          “I’m sure you’re an upstanding guy in your family, social & work sphere(thumbs up for that).”
          You know zilch about this. So once again you just assume things without any evidence and rely on illogic.
          You don’t like my attitude? Improve the quality of your comments. Until then my response aims to drill through your thick skull how poor your comments are. Your extensive answer indicates that I’m getting through.

          “Your remarks here on this comment section (and just speaking of them and nothing else) aren’t putting you in a positive light.”
          I already addressed this one. But I’m happy to repeat:

          Sorry, Oh Righteous One, I never defend myself against stupid accusations like yours. What you think of me and my moral bearing can oxidate at my lower end of my digestive system.

        • MR

          Ha! It’s like a litany of his own sins. I especially like the part where right off the bat he criticizes you for insulting him and then [edit:]immediately insults you. Sorry, just realized he was quoting you. His own insult came later. =D

        • MNb

          And that’s why I admit I’m mean – I want to provoke them to explicitely demonstrate their hypocrisy, so that everyone plainly sees who we are dealing with.

        • Agabu

          So to be clear. You admit to being an insulting, manipulative, mean-spirited, overbearing, ridiculing, vulgar & lewd individual. Understood. Your character then is well established then by your own admission. No more argument from my end.

        • Greg G.

          You’ve gone too far. MNb is not vulgar and lewd. He just gives his honest opinion. He does the same with me on topics where we disagree. He speaks like a grown man. Nothing wrong with that.

        • Agabu

          I understand about giving opinions Greg. You and I have had spirited conversation here without resorting to insults and such. I merely pointed out to him to clarify what he he was doing in his post, so he obliged with pride in his attitude. So no argument from me. In any case, Bob’s page says that this is a place to discuss things with civility. Mnb’s post was anything but I’m sorry to say.

        • MNb

          “without resorting to insults ”
          And ….. you wipe your moral ass with the 9th Commandment. You were the one who insulted me with your unchristian judgment of my moral bearing. The difference between you and me is that I can take an insult, while you are a whiner.
          And you whine because you don’t have a response with content to

          Pointing out the cause of that suffering is not the same as trivializing.

          Sorry for you Agabu, you are the one who looks bad – because you violate your own moral standards to avoid admitting that the two are not the same indeed.

        • Agabu

          Again. Meh!

        • MNb

          Yeah, that’s the ultimate demonstration that pointing out the cause of that suffering is the same as trivializing it.
          Excellent job, thanks.

        • MNb

          Insulting, manipulative, mean, overbearing and ridiculing, yes. And only when I think someone writes stupid comments – like you, but far from only you. Like this:

          “No more argument from my end.”
          Was there an argument, then? You didn’t even address my core statement, so I’ll repeat it as well:

          “another righteous christian wiping his moral ass with Mattheus 7:1.”
          Which referred to

          “how you show your compassion. ….. Your response should simply be, …. Insensitive musings”
          So you are also guilty of a Tu Quoque and a few more logical fallacies.
          Plus there is the saying about the log and the splinter. Isn’t that in the Bible as well?
          Yeah, you are totally treading the footsteps of your big hero Jesus. Not.
          Which totally suits me.

        • Agabu

          Meh!

        • adam

          “Dude, this is just plain evil. ”

          Yes, the childish MURDERING of fellow believers in the “God of Abraham” over who it ‘loves’ most while following that ‘god’ to kill non-believers of a particular view of that ‘god’ certainly IS evil.

          But YOU want to BLAME ME?

          You ought to be ashamed of yourself for supporting the beliefs of this ‘god’ and for TRYING to play the VICTIM CARD….

        • adam

          “Christianity possesses a diversity in its visible expressions. We don’t have the uniformity of Islam and other world religions.”

          That’s the easiest way to know they are IMAGINARY.
          Everyone IMAGINES them differently.

    • Dys

      So by “Yes”, you really mean “No”, since you’ve set up an unfalsifiable religion for yourself.