25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 2)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 2) June 22, 2018

Let’s continue with our list of stupid Christian arguments (Part 1 here).

Stupid Argument #5: you can’t prove Christianity false.

You can’t know that God doesn’t exist unless you’re omniscient.

First off, don’t ask for proof. Proofs are for math and logic, not science or history. You can’t prove that God exists, and I won’t ask that of you; I simply want compelling evidence of your claim. And vice versa: ask for arguments and evidence from the atheist, not proof. If there is insufficient evidence to support the God hypothesis, you have no grounds for holding it. Belief in God is like belief in unicorns—don’t believe without sufficient evidence.

More important, the burden of proof is on the person making the claim. I’ve made many positive arguments for atheism in posts at this blog, but the fundamental claim is made by the Christian that God exists. There would be nothing to talk about without this claim by the Christian. You’re making the claim, so it’s your burden. Don’t shirk it by demanding that the atheist prove Christianity false.

So many Christians want to dance away from this burden of proof that it’s almost like giving an answer to those who ask for the reason for the hope within them . . . is a burden.

Stupid Argument #6: Creationism.

Evolution is flawed. It isn’t repeatable, observable laboratory science; it’s only forensic science. And it makes no sense.

Evolution is the scientific consensus—deal with it (more here and here). You say your common sense is offended by the idea of evolution? Unless you have a doctorate in biology, you of all people should appreciate how meaningless this is. If common sense were the guide to science, no one would need to spend years getting a doctorate.

Science isn’t always right, but it’s the best means that we’ve got of finding out the truth about reality.

Ask yourself if you object to science in proportion to how much it steps on your ideological toes. Do you get in a lather about evolution, Big Bang, or climate change but ignore the conclusions of superconductivity, string theory, or the Millennium math problems? If you accept science according to how you’d like the world to be rather than follow the evidence, your biases are showing.

Another ridiculous tangent is to point to something controversial written by Charles Darwin. In the first place, most Creationist quotes of Darwin are misinterpreted. Before you make this argument, read Darwin’s words in context. Second, no one cares what Darwin said. Darwin’s work was hugely influential, but Darwin now resides solely in the History of Science domain. No one validates new ideas in biology by testing them against the great man’s writings.

And to those who say that evolution is “just a theory,” do some reading and then get back to me. (Slapping down Creationism isn’t the goal at this blog, but I do touch on that here.)

Stupid Argument #7: If you throw out the account of Jesus, you must discard the record of every other figure of history.

The quality of documentation of the gospel story is unprecedented.

The account of Jesus is primarily in the gospels, written decades after the events they claim to document. (More on the long and turbulent journey of the Bible here.) We have 25,000 copies (or fragments) of New Testament manuscripts, which is impressive, but that doesn’t turn out to be much of a plus for the apologetic argument.

The Christian wants to compare our evidence of Jesus with that of figures like Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great. But this confident comparison withers when we consider the coins and busts with the likeness of Julius Caesar. Or the more than a dozen cities across the Ancient Near East named after Alexander. We have nothing comparable for Jesus.

No, the evidence for the very existence of Jesus is paltry, let alone evidence for the incredible supernatural claims in the gospel story. More important, historians reject supernatural claims, including the many supernatural claims made about the great statesmen from 2000 years ago. Christians do themselves no favors by demanding a critique for the gospel story from an unbiased historian.

Stupid Argument #8: “One of the most important legal criteria . . . is that the accused and witnesses are innocent until proven guilty.”

This is an argument advanced by lawyer John Warwick Montgomery. He says that the gospels are the equivalent of witnesses and must initially be presumed accurate.

Let’s ignore that the presumption of innocence doesn’t apply to witnesses. Montgomery assumes the historicity of the story and that it was written by eyewitnesses (both of which must be demonstrated) and ignores how unreliable the New Testament books are. A document written 2000 years ago in Ancient Greek, for which our oldest fragment dates to two centuries after the original authorship (which is true for Mark), for example, is not equivalent to a living eyewitness who we can cross-examine.

Even ignoring all this, eyewitness testimony is unreliable (I’ve written about unreliable memory and thinking). Can Montgomery actually expect us to credulously accept claims from 2000 years ago for what might be the most remarkable supernatural claim imaginable? We’re comfortable with myth and legend, and that’s what the Bible looks like.

To be continued.

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—
it says so right here on the label.
If you have a mind capable of believing
all three of these divine attributes simultaneously,
I have a wonderful bargain for you.
No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.
— Robert A. Heinlein

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 10/1/14.)

Image via marneejill, CC license

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  • Milo

    Well done

  • Lucand

    About argument number 8: how is it true about the bible, and not about the epic of Gilgamesh, the australian aborigine creation myth, the classical greek creation myth and son on? and since many creation myths contradict each other, they cannot be all true.

  • Michael Neville

    One of the major problems of discussing Christianity with Christians is trying to get them to define their god. It’s almost impossible to get a consistent description of Yahweh. I’ve seen definitions change in the same conversation, depending on which particular definition is needed for the specific argument the Christian is making.

    • Lark62

      And when necessary, they change definitions in the same sentence.

    • Jim Jones

      They can’t define it. Many know it and won’t try. The only good definition I know of is my own:

      “God is the ego projection of the self styled believer in the supposed being — with added super powers”.

      It’s impossible to attribute any effect from such a ‘god’ outside of its effect on the self described follower so it is irrelevant to everyone else.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      It is the hallmark of a dishonest debater that they will not allow careful definition of their terms, it instantly proves that they intend to, at the very least, equivocate at some point during the ensuing melee. An honest but inexperienced apologist will try to define terms and then either come to the realization that they can’t in a meaningful way, while preserving their argument, and become dishonest or the whole conversation will mire at that point, hopefully with them questioning the basis of their arguments.

      I have often said that nearly all questions have a simple answer, as long as everyone agrees on the definitions of all the words involved. even those supposed stumpers like ‘if a tree falls and no one is there does it make a sound?’ once everyone agrees what all those words actually mean the answer is obvious.

    • Tim Ellison

      The problem with the definition of God, is that there are as many christianities around as there are Christians. Logic says, there would then be as many conceptions of God as there are religious people who believe in god.

      • Greg G.

        That coincides with Jim Jones reply to MN at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/06/25-stupid-arguments-christians-should-avoid-part-2-2/#comment-3958322345 below/above depending on your Disqus settings.

      • Yes, the Bible is so ambiguous that everyone sees their own god in it. Doesn’t that make you question the supernatural basis of the Bible?

        • Tim Ellison

          Thanks for sharing this post Bob – part 1 and 2. I agree with much of it.
          I am not a follower of Jesus because of the bible being ‘inspired’. In fact, I do not believe it is god’s word. But i am open to the idea that god can speak through it. This is a hermeneutic that i am in the process of understanding and trying to work out. There are two voices in the text that i think keeps it from being ambiguous.

        • When you and someone else get different messages out of the same book, how can it not be ambiguous?

        • Tim Ellison

          That’s why I keep trying to get everyone else to think like me because i have finally got it right! You’re welcome!

        • Greg G.

          I hope you can convince the Westboro Baptist Church and Mars Hill to agree with you.

          Two thousand years ago, Jesus prayed for Christians to agree in unity so much that the world would be so impressed that they would believe.

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          May you do what Jesus couldn’t.

        • Tim Ellison

          Well, I was being a bit facetious – the one thing that could be the unity of all who call themselves followers of Jesus would be to be forgiving. Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. These words recorded from the cross would revolutionize everything. Instead of bombing our enemies, we forgive them.

      • ildi

        “Logic says, there would then be as many conceptions of God as there are religious people who believe in god.”

        Let me guess, you’re going with your gut instead.

  • Halbe

    Still, I think the wedding in Cana water-to-wine miracle is a great story. It has this really nice Bruce Almighty vibe; truly one of the literary triumphs in the Bible.

    • heleninedinburgh

      Although there are uber-fundies who try to spoil it by insisting that the wine in question was actually just non-alcoholic grape juice. Because obviously that’s what you want to load up on at a wedding dinner. And the bit where someone expresses their surprise that the caterers had held back the good stuff contra to normal practice just refers to the fact that generally when people drink a lot of non-alcoholic grape juice it all starts to blur into… into… BUT JESUS WOULDN’T GET DRUNK! JESUS WAS STRAIGHT EDGE!

  • RichardSRussell

    “You do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into.”

    —Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Irish satirist

  • Deplorable_ME

    There are no stupid arguments or dumb questions. I enjoy this blog and find many of the arguments sintilating. We all know those who are unable to hold two thoughts in their minds at the same time – my argument is why try to convince someone of something in which they do not display a willingness to accept? Is that then fake belief? Christian or Athiest? One believes there is and one believes there isn’t. So what? Often I think oh there is a god – then maybe not so much…

    • epicurus

      Christians probably feel they are commanded to defend the faith, preserve God’s honor, convert people to keep them out of hell, show nonbelievers their lives could be so much better with Jesus in it, and reassure fellow belivers they’ve made the right choice.

      Non believers probably feel they need to defend themselves against a religion(s) that claims it has divine truth (but poor evidence for it) and wants the political and ethical laws of the land the reflect that, as well as defending themselves from claims that they are deceived and rebellious and going to hell.

      • Deplorable_ME

        Yes, I am sure this is true and I refer to those people as busy bodies. I am happy for people who are happy in their faith and happy for people who do not have a religious path – why should I care? And I enjoy this site as well as biblical sites –

        • epicurus

          If you don’t care, it seems odd you would be going to the sites of people you think are busy bodies, including this one. Why not go for a bike ride or listen to music instead?

        • Deplorable_ME

          No one here has ever tried to convince me of anything, I guess I was writing about peple who overreach on the ‘ Born Again’ issue. I find discussing and sharing beliefs all over the spectrum is very enlightneing. Not saying I know what is true or not just that I am always open to listening. I guess ‘not care’ is a little strong, it doesn’t change my sense of feeling good about my life. My world view doesn’t change because of someone elses story.

        • Lark62

          Lucky you. You can care about christian overreach or not depending on your mood.

          Not so the graduating students at Great Bend High School, Kansas, who were told at their own HS graduation (May 20, 2018), a once in a life time event, that they will never be successful without Jesus.

          But you can treat christian proselytizing as an irrelevant subject because you are not on the receiving end of people using government power and authority to influence your religious belief. Well mercy me, bless your heart.

        • Deplorable_ME

          How sad! I agree and how foolish of those who imposed Jesus. To my knowledge ( Theology 8 years) Jesus didn’t impose. I always feel those who do impose are just afraid to go it alone and so they pressure others by proselytizing. I am not saying my way is better – I am just sharing that what they do they do out of ignornace, fear or nervousness and I veiw as annoying not important. I guess if I had the neurotic burden of feeling I had to save people from a terrible fate – perhaps I too would be annoying. And thanks for your blessing- it seems kind.

        • epicurus

          You studied theology for 8 years?

        • Deplorable_ME

          I took my time – LOL! I kept thinking there would be answers and by the time I understood that the questions were really the answers – 8 years had passed. Some one more agressive would have done it in four – but No – I was in it for answers- much to my surprise – Philosophy, Theology and Psychology- I did teach for a few at Univ.
          I have always felt I am probably the most educated- unemployed person ever…:) However I am told I am cute and interesting for 72 haha.

        • epicurus

          Ok, you keep throwing out bait, so I have to ask, you taught philosophy, psych, and theology at a university, so you have one or several Phd’s in those disciplines?

        • Deplorable_ME

          Yes, I guess this is true- I enjoy the attention. Yes, a Phd in philo, a Psy in psych and clearly I didn’t finish Theology! I’m still looking for an answer perhaps? Yes, I loved teaching. I am a very open minded person, but discipline is important to know ones self and as I grew older I became impatient with the lack of discipline by the students and Admin., however – my lack of patience with them is really my lack of patience with my own inability to adjust to many things. Thanks for noticing and I have enjoyed convo. Would like to know more about you.

        • epicurus

          Undergrad degree in philosophy, with later personal uncredited study of history of Christianity.

        • Deplorable_ME

          Very good! It always seemed courageous to study history of Christianity – thank you for sharing.

        • Otto

          Jesus didn’t impose? What was all that table flinging and chasing people around in the Temple grounds? What is with saying “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt 10: 38-39)

          These are just a couple examples. This seems like he is trying to impose his beliefs to me.

        • MadScientist1023

          Congratulations! You have the privilege of being able to not care. Many people are not so fortunate as they live around “busy bodies” (most often Christians) who feel the need to impose their ways on others. Historically, Christian “busy bodies” have had more than enough political clout to do just that.
          But since you’ve never been in said position where your rights or your life has been decided by “busy bodies”, then count your blessings. You’re in a more privileged position than many others.

        • Deplorable_ME

          Yes, it is true and very grateful of my priviledge. However, as early as 14 years I recall telling people ‘they were not the boss of me,’ moving on and taking the consequesnces of not following the tribe. I understand it is not always possible and or desirable but as I finish my last chapter and find few regrets and have no bucket list. It’s all good.
          I do encourage people to not seek advice or give it unless it is dire and required and I only say this when asked- or engaged. Often I complied because I had children to feed – sick parents to care for or perhaps I got tired… but mostly I try to not indulge in the nervousness of others trying for group think- Perhaps that is why I like it here on this blog?

        • ildi

          Lucky you, you don’t have to care, unlike other people in the U.S.:
          https://cnn.com/2018/06/25/health/arizona-prescription-walgreens-miscarriage/index.html

        • Bald Humanist

          So long as the religious do not try to force me to follow laws based on their religion.

        • Deplorable_ME

          It has always confounded me when others insist they are doing things for my own good. It is ‘My Good’ And I can’t imagine the ego and arrogance that another individual knows how to run my life instead of me. I understand if I have a brain disorder or dementia or I am drunk ( I don’t drink) but it is a real red flag when people do this about religion or anything else. Also the religious laws are for those who want to accept that religion – I believe Integrity, moral behavior is not limited to the religous. I would respect a law or tradition if in a friends homeland – but it would only be to respect that person – not to take it for myself- does that sound right? Like if i smoked indoors ( I don’t smoke) but my host didn’t – I would not smoke indoors….

    • Otto

      Did I miss something and suddenly people are forced to read this blog?

      And yes there are stupid arguments.

      • Deplorable_ME

        Hey, Otto – You are right there are stupid arguments, it didn’t read as well when I was typing- but I don’t care when someone is givingme one of those arguments – I do not listen well, I do listen but then I make sure I do not stop and chat with that person again. I enjoy this blog and other blogs – It is all theory and why should I really care?

        • Venavis

          If you don’t care, why are you commenting about it?

        • Deplorable_ME

          Because I can. Have a great day!

        • Venavis

          Ah. So you are just being dishonest about the ‘not caring’ thing.

        • Deplorable_ME

          No, not dishonest- Sometimes it is fun/enjoyable/informative to debate/argue, a point but when I get bored I leave – I do not thnk about it again unless it has something of interest -it matters not to me and I would not waste my breathe trying to convince anyone of anything.

        • Otto

          I don’t expect you to care, as they say to each their own. I do care because I live smack dab in the middle of Christian culture, my friends and family are all almost exclusively Christian. They wouldn’t know these arguments except in a rudimentary way as has been handed to them from Christian authorities. I need to know and understand the arguments better than they do. I also find the arguments interesting because they use the same tortured logic I grew up with in Christianity.

          Again I don’t expect you to care, but you shouldn’t think that other people like myself are just arguing to be pedantic.

      • Lark62

        Yep. Likewise there are plenty of dumb questions, as evidenced by the type of people who think “then why are there still monkeys?” is original and insightful.

  • Ctharrot

    1. “More important, historians reject supernatural claims, including the many supernatural claims made about the great statesmen from 2000 years ago.” To be clear, of course historians don’t exercise mindless, secular bias against antiquity’s copious miraculous claims (a common accusation from apologists), but rather a prudent skepticism of all unlikely claims, supernatural and natural alike–omens and prophecies, superpowers, unrealistic troop numbers, contrived schemes, artfully clever words delivered at the coolest possible moment, etc. Good historiography is probabilistic, provisional, and complicated, and never a simplistic, all-or-nothing effort. Any apologist who makes Argument 7 is simply announcing that he or she has no idea how the practitioners of history operate.

    2. Putting aside the many methodological flaws in Argument 8 (which I recall These Things Were Written pushing in the comments section hereabouts a few months ago), I would again note that it works just as well for non-Christian claims. According to this argument, we must presume, unless it is definitively demonstrated otherwise, that aliens are abducting people, that Roman emperors could control the weather and heal the blind, and that Gautama Buddha was born speaking like an adult. All notions that apologists like Montgomery and TTWW summarily (and correctly) reject. [Edited to add: Whoops! I see Lucand beat me to the punch on this one.]

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      In light of #7, I would add to the list of bad arguments: “History confirms that there was a ‘historical Jesus’ who was a radical preacher who upset the Roman authorities and so they put him to death”

      Even if it were true that there were said radical preacher, Jesus was NOT just some radical preacher who pissed off the authorities. If he didn’t do the miracles reported in the Bible (including rising from the dead), then he isn’t Jesus Christ of the Bible, Son of God, etc. It’s like saying there was a guy hunted down by the Sheriff of Nottingham who was Robin Hood. No, if he didn’t rob from the rich and steal from the poor, he wasn’t Robin Hood, no matter how much the Sheriff of Nottingham hunted him down and Friar Tuck liked him.

      Or if there was a little girl who lived in Kansas with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. If she didn’t fly away to the Land of Oz, would you say she is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz? (in fact, there WAS a little girl named Dorothy who lived in Kansas who had an Aunt “M” and, indeed, WAS the basis for the little girl in the WoO; she was L Frank Baum’s niece. That doesn’t mean Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz existed, though)

      • Kevin K

        What you say is 100% correct, but I think we cede way too much territory when we grant … even merely for the sake of argument … that someone named “Jesus” actually existed and preached in the time of Pilate.

        My bar for establishing his corporeal existence remains the presence of contemporaneous eyewitness accounts of the secular events recounted in the NT. Preaching to thousands (as much as 10% of the population of Jerusalem at a time) would not have gone unnoticed. Committing a terrorist act in the temple would not have gone unnoticed. Riding into Jerusalem in a way specifically designed to declare oneself the new king to the acclaim of the entire city (as recounted in the NT) would not have gone unnoticed. Pilate granting a pardon to someone who was scheduled to be executed would not have gone unnoticed. An earthquake in the city on Passover eve would not have gone unnoticed.

        All of those things (and others) should have been remarked upon … but instead were unnoticed by people who were there at the time, writing about that era. Decades later, suddenly these events (and others) are claimed to have happened. It would be like me declaring that my father (who was a foot solder in WWII) single-handedly stormed Hitler’s bunker and killed the fuhrer with his bare hands.

        • MadScientist1023

          From what I recall, there were a few historical letters written by Romans that corroborate the existence of some Jewish preacher around the right time that inspired a following.
          Personally, I find it a little hard to believe there wasn’t *someone* to inspire all the stories. Obviously most, if not all the natural and supernatural claims in the gospel are utter garbage, but there must have been some charismatic man who was the catalyst for the religion. I don’t think accepting that premise really cedes any ground. We know there were charismatic preachers in the past. We know there were people who disliked the Roman empire and said so. It takes little effort to imagine there were charismatic preachers who disliked the Roman empire and said so. I don’t see why it cedes any ground to supernaturalists to agree to something that is probably true based on purely naturalistic reasoning.

        • Greg G.

          Sure, it would be the Jesus in the epistles who was never described as a preacher/teacher or even a first century person. The early epistles only refer to him in terms of the Old Testament scriptures.

          There was talk about the coming Messiah that Josephus wrote about that he says emboldened the Jews to go to war with the Romans and was used to keep up their spirits during the siege of Jerusalem.

        • MadScientist1023

          I was more thinking of the letters by Josephus and Tacitus, although now that I look them up, it seems like those were still decades after the fact. Still, I think it’s more plausible that there was some kind of charismatic folk hero named Jesus who was executed by the Romans and was mythologized over time, than the entire story being entirely made out of whole cloth.

        • Otto

          But what Greg describes is not being made out of whole cloth, it is being made out of the OT.

        • Greg G.

          Tacitus was apparently not using any ancient records as he uses Pilate’s full name but gets his position wrong. He would probably have gotten that information from Christians who were relying on the gospels of the day, if it is not a forgery. The Josephus account is most definitely forged in the fourth century by Eusebius. Origen wrote a lot about what coincided with the gospels but states explicitly that Josephus did not think Jesus was Christ. When Origen bequeathed his library to the city of Caesarea, it was curated by Pamphilus of Caesarea who was the mentor of Eusebius of Caesarea. Eusebius is the first person to remark about the Testimonium Flavianum which he supposedly found in Origen’s own copy of Jewish Antiquities.

          Read Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 3 (22 verses total). The Septuagint version was favored by the NT writers and the spelling of Jesus in Zechariah is the same as Jesus in the New Testament. The Jesus story could have been based on that alone and not an actual person.

        • Kevin K

          For what it’s worth, I would count Tacitus (if not a forgery) as being the strongest early secular reference to Jesus … him being executed by Pilate certainly would be a secular event.

          But Clement of Alexandria, a third century bishop who collated all of the pagan references to Jesus up to that point, did not mention Tacitus. Nor does Eusebius (he who probably was the forger of the Testimonium Flavium).

          Strong evidence, I think, that it’s a later forgery.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks. I shall look up Clement of Alexandria.

        • Agreed. There HAD to be a kernel of historical truth, even if that was just one of the many preachers of those years. He could have even been crucified for participating in a revolt against the Romans, but everything else is fiction.

        • Kevin K

          And that would be fine and dandy … except there’s no evidence in support of that hypothesis. To merely make a claim … “there HAD to be a kernel of historical truth” … without demonstrating which “historical truth” you’re talking about and how you came to verify it is to cede miles of territory in a full retreat against the facts we have on hand.

          Show me the historical “truths” — not the miracle claims, those are bullshit. Show me the secular events being recounted by anyone other than the NT authors.

          Basically, what you’re offering is the “special pleading” logical fallacy. Were I to accept this argument, I would have absolutely zero defense against people who would declare that I must therefore also accept the fact that Lord Krishna lived as a real human. Or Hercules. Or Osiris. Or Mithra. Or Romulus. Or Achilles. And on and on.

          Man-gods are common as grass. So there HAD to be a kernel of historical truth for all of them … right? No? Didn’t think so.

        • It’s just that I prefer to think the origin for that stuff had to be, say, one of those who revolted against the Romans back in the day and ended up quite badly or a preacher nobody but a couple of followers gave a fuck. Those you mention had centuries behind even if they did not exist at all, while the Gospels where written just a couple of decades after Jesus’ theoretical death.

          I find difficult to believe in just a couple of decades that could be born, just that.

        • Greg G.

          I recently read Josephus’ Jewish Wars. Many of the Jews involved in the war in that are identified by their name and their father. It amazed me how many character names in Mark correspond to the names of the fathers in JW. Also most of the cities in Mark correspond to cities in JW except for the “Beth-” cities and Dalmanutha might be a portmanteau of Dalmatia. There are a few verses in Mark that have the same structure and similar content. The names of Jesus’ four brothers in Mark 6:3 can be found in a 13 word span In JW.

          But the references in the epistles to Jerusalem show the stuff about Jesus was before the war and they only refer to Jesus in terms of OT verses and say nothing about him as a first century person. They only knew him from centuries old texts.

          Gospel Jesus is based on the some of the most popular literature of the day (like the Homeric epics) rewritten with OT passages with details lifted from some more modern writings like JW and some Christian literature, like Paul’s letters.

        • Thanks for letting me know. I’ve also seen commented elsewhere that Mark (or Matthew?) was inspired by precisely Homers’ Odyssey.

        • Greg G.

          That would be from Dennis R. MacDonald, Yale University, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, 2000.

          New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash [LINK] by Robert M. Price covers sources for each of the gospels and Acts. That link eventually became the heart of his book The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems.

        • Bald Humanist

          I think it is plausible that the stories reflect a KIND of wandering Jewish sage that was around at that time…probably a combination of stories of various “messiahs.”

        • there must have been some charismatic man who was the catalyst for the religion.

          I think everyone grants that it’s quite plausible to imagine that Christianity had an actual man at its origin, but I don’t think that that was essential. You’re familiar with the process of euhemerism in which a god story gradually gets turned a human story?

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

        • Kevin K

          Don’t think so. If there were such evidence, I would definitely have been told about it; because I’ve been spending the past decade or so asking for exactly that. And Christians of all stripes have argued with me about my being unfair in asking for such evidence.

          Of the contemporaneous writers who were on-site at that time, they speak of a number of different messianic preachers, who they name. And none of them comes close to being a “Joshua”, and no one is mentioned either from Bethlehem or Nazareth. And they do not mention any of the secular events that have been attributed to Jesus — most especially the terrorist act in the temple, which definitely would not have been ignored.

          The first secular narrative that mentions Jesus is Josephus in what is known as the “Testimonium Flavium”. Two problems with that. Josephus was not contemporaneous — we was born in 37 ACE, after the events in question, and wrote his history while a captive in Rome. And the “testimonium” itself is a forgery. An insertion made a couple of hundred years after Josephus wrote it.

          I have long held that there was a possibility that the figure of Jesus could have been what Hollywood calls a “composite” character … that is, a life stitched together from the doings of several first century rabble rousers. The fact that none of the events that are recounted in the NT are found anywhere else is, in my opinion, a strong argument against that notion. It’s the events I’m looking for, not the man.

  • Potentially you can disprove God if say the idea has incompatible properties, as the Heinlein quote suggests.

    I have to wonder what law that this guy practices, making such an argument.

  • Otto

    Witnesses are not determined to be ‘innocent’ or ‘guilty’. They are judged on their reliability. And if some ‘witness’ got on the stand and tried to give testimony about what some other witness knew, it is hearsay and not even allowed. Some lawyer he is.

  • Greg G.

    I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough. –William Cowper Brann (1855 – 1898)

  • Paul

    “If you accept science according to how you’d like the world to be rather than follow the evidence, your biases are showing.”

    Biases are prominent in science. Watch lecture 1 in “The Joy of Science” by Robert Hazen. You can borrow it from your local library or buy it from The Great Courses. Preconceptions are a part of the scientific method. They help form hypotheses. Nothing wrong with biases in and of themselves. Bad ones should get eliminated if they are not observable, testable and repeatable. Emphasis on “should.” Sometimes they don’t get eliminated.

    “Big bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities – things that we have never observed. Inflation, dark matter, and dark energy are the most prominent. Without them, there would be fatal contradictions between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences. Whereas Richard Feynman could say that ‘science is the culture of doubt,’ in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model. Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.” Eric Lerner, “Bucking the Big Bang,” New Scientist, 182:2448 (22 May 2004), p. 20 – Signed by over 400 scientists

    • Ctharrot

      “Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.”

      Agreed. I have yet to receive any NSF or NASA funding to research my theory that the earth, seas, and plants existed before the sun and stars. Apparently copies of copies of copies of millennia-old narratives transcribed by anonymous clerks don’t count as “scientific data” anymore. Blatant, entrenched bias.

      • Greg G.

        Even night and day existed before the sun. They thought the fact that the sun was in the sky during the day was a coincidence.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Try again.

      Unpopular views WITH EVIDENCE get you a Nobel Prize.

      Unpopular views with worthless baldass assertions get you laughed out, censured, and your funding cut.

      Guess where fundagelical ideas fit?

      • Paul

        “”Many scientific
        papers are written each year about the Oort cloud: its properties, its
        origin, its evolution. Yet there is not yet a shred of direct
        observational evidence for its existence.” Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan,
        Comets, 1997, p. 230

        If you have a popular view with no evidence, then you’ll be welcomed with open arms (provided that it’s a completely naturalistic explanation).

        • Greg G.

          You would not have to see every Bigfoot to know that they exist. You only need to see one.

          Long period comets are evidence of long period objects which is what the Oort cloud would be. What they didn’t have evidence of in 1997 was evidence of long period objects with non-eccentric orbits. But now we do.

          https://www.gemini.edu/node/12292

          I wonder why those silly creationist sites you visit haven’t removed that from their websites? Maybe they do not care about truth.

    • Max Doubt

      “Biases are prominent in science.”

      Science is a process we use to help us understand the workings of the universe. The only bias in the process favors what we can objectively show is true.

      “Bad ones should get eliminated if they are not observable, testable and repeatable. Emphasis on “should.” Sometimes they don’t get eliminated.”

      Utter fuckin’ nonsense. Christians have hooked into that misunderstanding about “observable, testable, and repeatable” in order to discount scientific explanations too complicated for them to understand or which contradict what they desperately want to imagine. It’s dishonest.

      “”Big bang theory relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities – things that we have never observed. Inflation, dark matter, and dark energy are the most prominent.”

      Fuckin’ nonsense again. We use the terms “inflation”, “dark matter”, and “dark energy” to describe things that have been observed. That’s why we’ve given them names. Either you don’t know that because you’re ignorant, or you do know that and your claim that these things haven’t been observed is a lie.

      “An open exchange of ideas is lacking in most mainstream conferences.”

      Not true. If you have an issue with some particular area of science or some particular tentative explanation we’ve arrived at through the process of science, by all means take your concern to a relevant mainstream conference. If you’re correct in your criticism you’ll be on the fast track to win a Nobel Prize.

      “Whereas Richard Feynman could say that ‘science is the culture of doubt,’ in cosmology today doubt and dissent are not tolerated, and young scientists learn to remain silent if they have something negative to say about the standard big bang model.”

      In cosmology today we have a related group of explanations, some of which are better supported than others, but nobody is being denied a seat at the table for having alternative explanations that work, take into account all the data we have so far, and neglect none of it. Sure, if it can’t pass that first level of scrutiny it’s not part of the conversation, but your complaint that any scientifically derived explanations are somehow being systematically denied consideration is complete paranoid conspiracy theory crackpot bullshit.

      “Those who doubt the big bang fear that saying so will cost them their funding.” Eric Lerner, “Bucking the Big Bang,” New Scientist, 182:2448 (22 May 2004), p. 20 – Signed by over 400 scientists”

      No, there is no conspiracy among those funding scientific research to make scientists toe some party line. If you have a theory to include in the discussion about cosmology, no matter how far outside the mainstream it might be, bring it on. The problem you seem to have is the rejection of explanations that rely on ignorance, incredulity, or magic in some form or another. The god explanations are not excluded because of some big bad conspiracy, but because magic is not an explanation. For anything.

    • Tony D’Arcy

      “Science works – bitches”. (Richard Dawkins)

      • Paul

        Yup, it works the same for everyone. Creation scientist Dr. Russel Humphreys correctly predicted the magnetic field of Uranus and Neptune.

        • Greg G.

          Creation scientist Dr. Russel Humphreys correctly predicted the magnetic field of Uranus and Neptune.

          The name is D. Russell Humphreys. It is amazing how many creationist sites cannot get his name from the cover of his books.

          See http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/magfields.html for a discussion of his method. His prediction is within an order of magnitude and that counts as a prediction. But he had to pull some numbers out of his butt to get some of his input values which he doesn’t justify. Just using Saturn’s dipole moment as his SWAG would get him the values of Uranus and Neptune.

          If his method is valid, it should give the magnetic dipole of Jupiter as well, but it doesn’t. https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Russell_Humphreys#Magnetic-field_formation_model

        • epeeist

          The fact that planets still have magnetic fields is evidence the universe is young, since magnetic fields don’t last billions of years.

          Citation required, otherwise you are talking bollocks.

        • epeeist

          Incidentally, the reason I haven’t been posting of late is that the WiFi doesn’t tend to be all that good in places where you can find these:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f5ef780049ddacd5331a5615087e659d7d9b0d2211b60262fcbcef146d5ec29.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bd05e8a73793815285106ff2a02f04ef1a8281230d165be2ebaa72df60f16cea.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Do you mean chameleons won’t share their passwords?

        • epeeist

          The net runs about the same speed as the chameleons in Madagascar.

          Here is the Madagascar version of the world wide web, made by an orb spider, it was more than a metre across with the attaching lines being up to 3m long.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4f96320d0d90d9a3e71a99d222e61f99aaca3e5a5d818c32ec6f78a7e96a3731.jpg

        • Ah–nature’s cellphone antennas! Ain’t God wonderful??

        • epeeist

          Ah–nature’s cellphone antennas!

          You want antennas? Check out this guy (for those of a squeamish disposition, look away now):

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/84be8b460061df43d75f02afa1874d1264cc440a2c00550be560a5611c3cb05b.jpg

        • These are all photos you’ve taken? Looks like you’re seeing a lot of nature.

        • epeeist

          These are all photos you’ve taken?

          Yes, I am gradually working through the couple of thousand I took in the two weeks I was there.

          Looks like you’re seeing a lot of nature.

          That was the main reason for going, I have pictures of a number of lemur species from mouse lemurs up to indri, a variety of spiders, chameleons, scorpions, frogs, owls, hedgehogs, a “kung fu cricket” and baobob trees.

          But I also have pictures like this one:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4a14fb8ead3ad58da62cc6a8b5bfd06eb53129ecdfe65d745cd824c92d40ae17.jpg

          Poverty is rife and abject, but in most towns the biggest and finest
          building is that of the church (mostly Catholic with a few evangelicals). A church which encourages families to have large numbers of children even though they are unable to afford to educate them and where the jobs for them are almost non-existent.

          At the moment the country is a carbon sink, but due to the population explosion is due to become a carbon source by 2030. As much anything this is due to the felling and burning of trees for charcoal burning (a real “tragedy of the commons”). More trees are being felled than planted and the very large majority of the rain forest is gone though there do seem to be small scale efforts to replant and restock with animals (the ring tailed lemurs below are habituated to humans now the local population has stopped eating them).

          Opinion only, but my view is that the society is at a tipping point. Unless they change the culture so that the aspiration is to have a smaller number of well educated children with actual jobs that earn money rather than a large number of children (7 boys and 7 girls is regarded as the ideal family) then the cycle of poverty can only get worse.

          Anyway, more animals with antennae:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f91b422020081be063db46ddd33f15b5f3fead12f45e4d4cc96a4eac2cf1ff61.jpg

        • Great photos! Do I recall correctly that lemurs are our most distantly related primate cousin?

        • Susan

          Check out this guy.

          What species are we looking at?

          How big is it? (The photo doesn’t provide perspective.)

          Glad to see you’re having a lovely time. 🙂

        • Greg G.

          The spider is on the ledge of a 500 meter cliff.

        • epeeist

          What species are we looking at?

          It is a huntsman spider of some kind, not sure of the actual species.

          How big is it?

          Those are grains of sand under her feet, it was about 10cm across.

        • Michael Neville

          The Earth has a magnetic field because the outer core, a 2,000 km thick layer of iron, nickel, and small quantities of other metals, is liquid. Differences in temperature, pressure and composition within the outer core cause convection currents in the molten metal as cool, dense matter sinks whilst warm, less dense matter rises. The Coriolis force, resulting from the Earth’s spin, also causes swirling whirlpools. This flow of liquid iron generates electric currents, which in turn produce magnetic fields. Charged metals passing through these fields go on to create electric currents of their own, and so the cycle continues. This self-sustaining loop is known as the geodynamo. The spiralling caused by the Coriolis force means that separate magnetic fields created are roughly aligned in the same direction, their combined effect adding up to produce one vast magnetic field engulfing the planet.

          The core is heated primarily by the decaying of radioactive isotopes like Potassium 40, Uranium 238, 235, and Thorium 232. In a few billion years the radioactivity will become negligible and the Earth’s core would become cold. However this will happen after the Sun enters the red giant stage of its life cycle, when it will swell in size and engulf the Earth. So the Earth will retain its magnetic field until it ceases to exist.

          Learn some science before you make silly statements which just show your ignorance.

        • Susan

          Learn

          Paul made it clear from the get go and continues to demonstrate that he’s not the least bit interested in learning.

          He ignores all substantive responses and does nothing but parrot crappy apologetics.

          Lying for Jesus. That’s all he’s got.

          It’s hard not to be disgusted at the the level of dishonesty required to be an apologetics delivery system.

          Paul is just one more example.

        • Yup, it works the same for everyone.

          Then I guess I’m confused. Creation scientists follow the evidence? I wonder then why I should think that of Humphreys, when he writes for creation.com, whose mission is:

          To support the effective proclamation of the Gospel by providing credible answers that affirm the reliability of the Bible, in particular its Genesis history

          Doesn’t sound like following the evidence to me.