When Christian Arguments Backfire

When Christian Arguments Backfire August 24, 2018

Christians need to more carefully check the arguments they use. Sometimes these arguments blow up in their faces.

One example is William Lane Craig’s use of A.N. Sherwin-White’s rule of thumb about the growth of legend (discussed in detail here). Craig proclaims that legendary growth is slow when he wants to argue that the gospels are reliable history, but then he’s happy to point to legendary growth when he wants to reject the dozens of noncanonical gospels!

Gospel contradictions and airplane crashes

Apologists walk a similar knife edge with the problem of contradictions between the gospels.

The skeptic will demand, How many women went to the tomb? Was the tomb already open when they got there? How many angels were there? What was the women’s emotional reaction at the tomb? Did the women tell the disciples? The gospels disagree on the answers. (I document a long list of contradictions here.)

That the most important part of the Bible is full of contradictions about the easy part—the basic facts of the story—raises questions about reliability of the supernatural parts.

Neil Mammen responds to this challenge with “Gospel contradictions? Why they don’t exist. A Little Experiment to Teach Skeptics about NT Accuracy.” He uses a 2005 incident at Chicago’s Midway airport in which an airplane skidded off the runway in heavy snow to highlight the fallibility of journalists’ reporting.

He looks at five media sources written within days of the event. Each is a one- to three-sentence summary. Here are the inconsistencies he found across the sources.

#1. According to the first source, the plane went through a “boundary fence,” hit two cars, and killed a child in one of the cars.

#2. Now only one car is mentioned, there’s no fence, and it’s a “6-year old boy.”

#3. The two cars and one death are mentioned, but the fence has become a “security wall.”

#4. Now it’s a “safety barrier,” and the car(s) and death are not mentioned.

#5. No cars, no fence, and no deaths.

He wonders what to make of this, since the accounts vary so widely. Which is it—one car or two? A dead boy or a dead child or none? Some truths, some lies, and some errors? Or all lies? Or all errors? Is it a legend? A total fabrication?

He parallels this with complaints about Bible contradictions. You have multiple sources in the airplane story, which is a good thing, because each source can bring new insights. The same is true for the gospel accounts.

The airplane story and the resurrection story each have inconsistencies surrounding their own common core. In Chicago, did the plane hit one car or two? In the Bible, did one, two, three, or more women come to the tomb? And so on. Let’s be consistent, he says—if you want to reject the resurrection story for inconsistent accounts, do the same for this airplane story.

He also emphasizes that this doesn’t point to the gospel story being “a fabrication.”

Just a few quibbles

  • First, notice the brevity of the accounts—that’s because they’re photo captions! They work as an abstract of the story, but no one would argue that they’re complete or that they attempt to be. Read the accompanying stories and then let’s talk about serious inconsistencies.
  • Caption 4 is just one sentence long. It doesn’t mention the car, thought the accompanying photo might have told that part of the story. For example, here is one such photo. Also, the title accompanying this summary is, “Plane slides off Chicago runway, boy killed,” which adds yet more information. Taking these into account, the inconsistencies go away.
  • Caption 5 (here) has been truncated. Add the next sentence, and the boundary fence, car, and death are back in.
  • The only arguments I ever hear about the gospel story being fabricated (that is, deliberately invented, like a hoax) come from the Christian apologists. It’s a fun straw man to knock over, I suppose, but it’s a waste of time since that’s not the argument.

And now, let me agree

Using photo captions makes this experiment useless as a comparison, but the larger point is correct. Yes, journalists can be wrong, and articles can be incomplete. Let’s start with this point of agreement to see where that takes us in an analysis of the gospel stories.

Modern journalists are trained to focus on the facts. For some media, fact checkers double check to verify that the story is correct. Journalists can be penalized for errors in their stories. Now instead of modern journalists, imagine the followers of a religious leader in pre-scientific Palestine. Their Truth may not have been bound by any sense of journalistic accuracy.

Now add over forty years of oral history before the gospels are written.

Now make that forty years happen in a foreign culture, a Greek culture already familiar with miracles such as turning water into wine, virgin births, and dying-and-rising gods.

Now separate our oldest copies from the gospel originals by centuries. That’s a long time for rival traditions to fight it out and for copyists to add or delete as their own beliefs demanded. (I’ve discussed this long journey here, here, here, and here.)

Now how much confidence can we have in the account?

The Christian may respond that the Holy Spirit didn’t much care about preserving accuracy. It pleased him to trust fallible human processes to document the Greatest Story Ever Told. He was content to let the gospels look no different from other supernatural musings that we justifiably dismiss to the bins of Mythology or Legend.

Neil Mammen might ask us to look to the overlap of the gospel stories to find the truth, but with this approach, we’ve lost Jesus’s last words, the location where the disciples were to meet the risen Jesus, Paul’s 500 eyewitnesses, and even the explanation for how the story spread (in Mark, the women keep silent), but no matter.

Does this approach work elsewhere—when there are competing stories, do we assume the overlapping part must be true? We usually don’t do this for UFO abduction stories. Or the stories from people who saw the 1917 Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, Portugal, an accepted Catholic miracle. Or claims from alchemy. Or the accounts by the eleven Mormons who claimed to have seen the golden plates. Competing tales that are supernatural or at least extraordinary can be and usually are all wrong.

Mammen’s article argues that professional reporters can’t be trusted to get the details right on a mundane story that happened the previous day. But then it expects us to believe the gospel accounts (already suspect because they are full of the supernatural) that were written down decades later? His “little experiment to teach skeptics about NT accuracy” seems to have blown up in his face.

Christians, consider your arguments lest they backfire.

’Tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard
(that is, blown up with his own bomb).
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 3, scene 4

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/10/14.)

Image via Alexis Breaux, CC license

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  • It’s always nice when people show unwittingly why they’re wrong.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      It’s even better if you can get them to realise it; though that is rare.

  • Herald Newman

    Pointing out the obvious contradictions of the gospel stories isn’t meant to show that the gospels stories are false. We point out the contradiction in the gospel stories to show that the gospels are clearly not inerrant. Anybody who claims that the Bible is inerrant, let alone the gospel stories are inerrant, are simply wrong!

    Christians can plead with me all you want about how “there are no contradictions in the Bible.” It’s a waste of your breath when the contradictions are as clear as the monitor in front of me, and the claim of non-contradiction is just as laughable as the idea that their God exists. Move on Christians. Your Bible is a collection of stories from different writers, and there are contradictions.

    • Contradictions show at least some are wrong though, which also casts doubt on the rest.

      • Herald Newman

        Yes, clearly the parts that are in contradiction cannot all be correct, and at most only one of them is correct. That said, the contradictions of the gospels cast far less doubt for me than the simple fact that they require me to accept that magic is real.

        • epeeist

          Yes, clearly the parts that are in contradiction cannot all be correct, and at most only one of them is correct.

          In logic terms this means they are contraries, if one had to be correct while all the others were wrong they would be contradictories.

        • I agree, there’s a lot of prima facie difficulties for accepting even one as a true, literal account. Of course they will just accuse us of having a naturalistic bias etc. I don’t think they act much differently in regards to the miracle claims of other faiths though.

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          We can always just ask for “the miracle maker” to enter the conversation to give its own take on “miracles”. Predictably they never show up, and nothing claimed to be “miraculous” is ever confirmed by the “miracle maker” being claimed by mundane fellow humans.

        • True.

  • MR

    I don’t think Christian arguments are generally meant for atheists, who are usually pretty good at seeing through them, as they are meant for Christians, who aren’t very good at seeing through them, so as to give them a sense that there is, there really is, some sort of a rebuttal. Christians rarely look at the Christian argument critically. It’s enough to know that there is a response.

    I think of my friend who gave me Strobel’s, Case For Christ. If she had read it critically, and I doubt that she had read it at all, she might have known that it would have the opposite effect, effectively pushing me further from the Christian nest.

    • Yes, that is the problem–the Christian who bills one of the popular apologetics books as really good, thorough apologetics is setting themselves up for a fall. If the atheist is a critical thinker, they’ll very quickly come to the realization that if this crap is what passes for good argument in this field, the emperor has no clothes.

      • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

        That they are handing us any apologetics for the existence of God books at all pretty much says there isn’t a God. Imagine Jesus reading the book aloud to us and answering our annoyance with, “No, WAIT! You can’t believe I exist until I have read to you all the arguments in this apologetics book!” If Gods exist, apologetics are redundant and if Gods don’t exist, apologetics are irrelevant. It’s a big catch-22 dilemma that keeps happening out of tradition without much thought about why the tradition exists.

        • The Catch-22 exists for the Christian god. If they dropped the idea of him wanting a relationship with humanity and made him a hermit or curmudgeon, then there might be a call for apologetics. “Yeah, I know it doesn’t look like there’s a god, but y’see he’s just a hateful old grump who plays video games all the time!”

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          We would still hold off accepting that (likely forever because there isn’t any God) until everyone can hear from God itself. The very existence of holy texts, apologetics, missionaries, etc only makes sense if there is no immortal omnipresent person, and all the followers are running off of fear, authoritarianism, and cognitive dissonance (they have invested too much of their lives, so their religion must be the best thing EVAR!).

    • Tawreos

      Apologetics has always been about preaching to the choir. They know it won’t convert anyone so they focus on reinforcing the belief of the people that want to believe them.

    • David Hughett

      Oh, man! Someone gave me that book (The Case For Christ), as well, a few years back. That was a lousy read, for sure. Not a good case at all, it turns out! But yeah, you’re right; this type of book is aimed at people who already believe, not skeptics!

    • Pofarmer

      That is one horrible book. My wife wanted me to read G.K. Chesterton. The problem is, once you learn how to spot logical fallacies and poor thinking he’s just about unreadable.

      • epeeist

        My wife wanted me to read G.K. Chesterton.

        I can always spot the villain in the Father Brown stories, it is always the atheist that did it.

        The only book of Chesterton’s that I have enjoyed is The Man Who was Thursday.

        • Pofarmer

          I tried to read the everlasting man. Couldn’t do it.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      I had a former co-worker hand me a copy of a Josh McDowell book on the day I was leaving. How cowardly. If he had any integrity, he would have given it to me while I was still around, having read it himself, and then make himself available while I explain to him why I do not find it the least bit convincing.

  • epeeist

    Here are the inconsistencies he found across the sources.

    Err, if there inconsistencies then at most one of the accounts is true, the rest are false.

  • Rudy R

    The plane crash was a terrible analogy. It makes little difference how the story was first reported, forensic evidence would eventually clear up the contradictions from eye witnesses. We have no forensic evidence after the fact for The Greatest “Story” Ever Told.

    • Herald Newman

      What would forensic evidence for a resurrection even look like? The only evidence we have for the resurrection is the say-so of mostly first century authors. Hardly compelling evidence for any miracle.

      • Greg G.

        What if you had a burial cloth with “Jesus was here. Passover 33 AD”?

        • Kevin K

          And it miraculously appears in the 1200s. That’ll work!

      • Greg G.

        The only evidence we have for the resurrection is the say-so of mostly first century authors fishermen.

        FTFY

        • Ctharrot

          Yeah, but first century fishermen wouldn’t have been literate in Greek, which would . . . .

          Oh, wait, I see what you did there.

        • Greg G.

          The authors are either illiterate liars or literate liars.

        • Ctharrot

          Well, I prefer “storytellers,” but that’s the English major in me.

        • Herald Newman

          I would say that it’s extremely doubtful that the authors of any of the New Testament books were fisherman. At best they were people who hooked other people onto their religion. 🙂

        • Lark62

          Jesus, I caught ‘im. He was big, thiiissss big. Really. But he got away.

        • Michael Neville
        • Greg G.

          What kind of bait were you using?

        • Otto
        • Otto
        • Kevin K

          That business of inserting the name of Jesus inside the fish always seems to me to be … moronic.

          Are they not aware the fish sign was supposed to be the secret code by which adherents could be known? If you put the name of the guy you’re worshiping in secret code … then it isn’t secret anymore, now is it?

        • Otto
        • Lark62

          “For 5 easy payments of $119.99*, you too learn how to be a genocidal maniac and impregnate virgins who will give birth to you. (*Plus shipping and handling)”

        • Jim Jones

          When Osiris is said to bring his believers eternal life in Egyptian Heaven, contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, we understand that as a myth.
          When the sacred rites of Demeter at Eleusis are described as bringing believers happiness in their eternal life, we understand that as a myth.
          In fact, when ancient writers tell us that in general ancient people believed in eternal life, with the good going to the Elysian Fields and the not so good going to Hades, we understand that as a myth.
          When Vespatian’s spittle healed a blind man, we understand that as a myth.
          When Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from death, we understand that as a myth.
          When the Pythia, the priestess at the Oracle at Delphi, in Greece, prophesied, and over and over again for a thousand years, the prophecies came true, we understand that as a myth.
          When Dionysus turned water into wine, we understand that as a myth.
          When Dionysus believers are filled with atay, the Spirit of God, we understand that as a myth.
          When Romulus is described as the Son of God, born of a virgin, we understand that as a myth.
          When Alexander the Great is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.
          When Augustus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.
          When Dionysus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.
          When Scipio Africanus (Scipio Africanus, for Christ’s sake) is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, we understand that as a myth.
          So how come when Jesus is described as the Son of God, born of a mortal woman, according to prophecy, turning water into wine, raising girls from the dead, and healing blind men with his spittle, and setting it up so His believers got eternal life in Heaven contemplating the unutterable, indescribable glory of God, and off to Hades—er, I mean Hell—for the bad folks … how come that’s not a myth?
          And how come, in a culture with all those Sons of God, where miracles were science, where Heaven and Hell and God and eternal life and salvation were in the temples, in the philosophies, in the books, were dancing and howling in street festivals, how come we imagine Jesus and the stories about him developed all on their own, all by themselves, without picking up any of their stuff from the culture they sprang from, the culture full of the same sort of stuff?

          http://pocm.info

      • Kevin K

        Well, you raise the most-important point, one that I have raised often, and which you theists continue to dodge. The miracle claims of the bible — ALL of the miracle claims, up to and including Jesus’ resurrection — have left no forensic evidence behind. None. Nada. Zip. Bupkis. Not one shred. Obvious frauds like “fragments of the true cross” or the Shroud of Turin don’t count — cuz they’re FRAUDS.

        If you want me to believe that an all-powerful agent demonstrated that power by violating the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology — then you’re going to have to leave some forensic evidence behind. Otherwise, what you got is precisely and exactly nothing.

        What would satisfy me in terms of proof of a 2000-year-old resurrection? The 2000-year-old man, of course. That and nothing else.

        Show me the living Jesus. Then I’ll accept the stories. Otherwise, STFU.

        Edited for stupid grammar mistake.

        • Greg G.

          which you theists continue to dodge

          Herald is not in that group.

        • Kevin K

          Herald, accept my apologies…I won’t edit to remove my mistake.

        • Lark62

          Obvious frauds like “fragments of the true cross” or the Shroud of Turin don’t count — cuz they’re FRAUDS.

          But, but, but the Holy Jesus Foreskin must be proof of something, right, all 18 of them.

        • Greg G.

          It grew back every time Jesus laid hands on it?

        • Lark62

          And then, every time, he had to heal himself of blindness.

        • I think “pics or it didn’t happen” is appropriate for a story so incredible. And obviously “yeah, but photography hadn’t been invented back then” would be no obstacle for an omnipotent god.

        • Greg G.
        • Otto

          The argument that ‘if God gave us incontrovertible evidence he would have given us no choice but to believe’ is always a fun cop out.

        • As if faith were a desirable thing, not a stopgap. If Christians had evidence, the celebration of faith would be out the window.

    • Otto

      There is a reason it is not called The Greatest Story Ever Forensically Verified.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      ^^^^What Rudy R said…

  • That analogy does not work because the news of the plane crash are not supposedly inspired by God as the Bible also supposedly is. That said, all preachers I know of simply read one of the four accounts as if it was the truth, and do not even blink when do the same with other.

    So much for a work inspired by God. One guesses the Holy Spirit had problems in the line.

    • Not only do they read one of the gospels and think nothing of contradictions when they then read another, they also harmonize Paul into the mix. Paul’s “Christianity” is rather different.

      • Half an hour ago, I’ve been listening an old evangelist preacher -one, by the way, who considers the Roman deity Janus a “demon” which I find a disrespect even if just a couple of neopagans worship him now and sprouts creationist BS as two floods, the first one sent against Satan and his angels in the Miocene and the second, the Biblical, corresponding to the breakup of Pangaea-.

        Anyway, the man was claiming the biblical manuscripts are internally consistent, there were no errors when they were copied at hand as manuscripts, etc. when a fast Internet search showed his wrongness -the adulterous woman, which was much later added, comes to mind- at least for the NT.

        The sad part is that old man is the most reasonable of all those I’ve picked on the radio -one is a Pentecostalist who claims everyone, even Buddhists and Confucianists, will bown down upon Christ on his return, that the Sun turning off during six seconds is far more believable than evolution or the Big Bang among many other gems, other claims Christianism is not a religion and invites atheists and agnostics to join in, just to later add threats of Hell and complain about so many millions spent on probes to Mars after finding there life, other is another heller who claims atheists and agnostics are insane, and other considers far-left parties as occult practices, sees the NWO everywhere, and considers the End Times are near-, and this without including the imported bullshitters (Creflo Dollar, John MacArthur, etc).

        Everything else (typical holes, literalism, spiritual warfare, born again & pro-life BS, etc). is common to all,

        • We live in strange times. I just wish they weren’t quite so strange.

        • I’d have noticed all those are relatively old, if my memory serves the youngest one is 50 years old and the others of 60 years upwards, that brings some hope.

          The thing is, were those as scrutinized as the Catholic Church they’d receive so much flak as them if not more -the above BS aside I don’t find very respectful to pray God to kill all gays, to tell women cannot rule unless they fear God, and there’s still more I don’t remember now. Nor to call a meeting “2017 Invasion”.-

        • Greg G.

          60 is still young from my perspective.

        • se habla espol

          Some of the strangeness is quite entertaining, though.

        • Jim Jones

          We live on a strange planet with strange life forms.

        • eric

          there were no errors when they were copied at hand as manuscripts

          I’m not a biblical manuscript scholar, but I’d bet a lot of money that there’s an old hand-copied bible around with known and documented scrape marks on the parchment/vellum, or inked-over designs where a mistake was. I expect the scribes who copied them were a lot more pragmatic about mistakes than your preacher.

          On a slightly more amusing and modern note, the bible I have on my bookshelf was one I bought from a Christian bookstore. It came in a box with a big red sticker on the outside that says “Slightly Imperfect – 10% Off.” I admit it, it tickled me enough to get my money. And I’m pretty sure I kept the box, though I’m not sure now where I might have put it.

        • You cannot expect much more from basically conservatives whose targets are inmigrants -they almost never go after local people-, and who as I’ve noticed say something different each time. And the sad part is I forgot to talk about these, who are here and caring not to appear at all in their propaganda as a church, much less as prosperity gospel bullshitters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Church_of_the_Kingdom_of_God

          Oh, and throw in that mix support for Israel, often asinine, wishes for born-again people to rule, and more of the stuff the Catholic church for all its faults at least left behind.

        • Greg G.

          wishes for born-again people to rule,

          The Dominionists don’t seem to want to rule the world so much as to be able to start Armageddon so the Messiah can come and rule. It didn’t go that way the first time someone attempted to force the Messiah’s hand into appearing.

          Jewish Wars 6.5.4
          … But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how,” about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea. However, it is not possible for men to avoid fate, although they see it beforehand. But these men interpreted some of these signals according to their own pleasure, and some of them they utterly despised, until their madness was demonstrated, both by the taking of their city and their own destruction.

          During the siege:

          Jewish Wars 6.5.2
          … A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.

        • Jim Jones

          > The Dominionists don’t seem to want to rule the world so much as to be able to start Armageddon so the Messiah can come and rule.

          Because it’s not as if ‘god’ doesn’t have a plan?

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          I have a copy of the New Testament in the original Greek, with lots of footnotes about differences between manuscripts. Some of them indicate visible corrections. The vast majority of the differences are trivial, like “the disciples” vs “his disciples” vs “Jesus’ disciples”, but there are many substantial ones as well.

        • Greg G.

          I have a copy of the New Testament in the original Greek

          Ahem… Original?

        • Liz

          Original Greek as in the language it was written in. I don’t think it’s a claim to own an original manuscript. Or is there something about the biblical languages that I don’t know yet?

        • Greg G.

          The entire New Testament was written in Greek but the thing about manuscripts is that it is nearly impossible to make a perfect copy. As Bart Ehrman points out, there are more discrepancies in the manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. It has been noted that there were more changes in the manuscripts from before canonization than after so we should expect that there were changes between the original document and the earliest manuscript samples, too. We don’t know if the earliest common ancestor of all the copies of any particular document comes from the original or from a fifth or tenth generation copy of the original.

          P52 is considered by many to be the oldest scrap of a manuscript. It has text from John on both sides but it has a big hole in the middle. But the hole isn’t large enough to have all the text that is in that passage in the John we have. One of the words in the passage is so minor that it reads the same without it so that is probably the missing word so that is the most likely assumption but still an assumption. But we still don’t know if the text that matches the John we have is the text that was written originally.

        • MR
        • Greg G.

          I just read that. Otto fed me the link a few hours ago:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/08/when-christian-arguments-backfire/#comment-4061159544

          That and the recent information about the so-called first century Mark raises my skepticism even higher for claims about NT manuscripts.

        • MR

          Damn that Otto! Always stealing my thunder!

        • Otto

          I read it last night, good article but I would have liked it spelled out better because I am a bit slow.

        • Jim Jones

          The ‘dating’ of P52 is ludicrous – and irrelevant.

          “It looks like my grannie’s writing” is a valid dating technique?

          And how do we know that that section of the gospel wasn’t ‘borrowed’ from a different, older document?

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Yes, the language is the original.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, the whole NT was written in Greek but we do not know for sure what the original words in the document were, nor even in the drafts. We have many variations of some passages but we don’t know if the original sentence is among the variants. Even a passage that is consistent through all manuscripts may not be the original as the original may have change between the second and third copy and every lineage we have might be from the fourth copy.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          Yes, of course.

        • Greg G.

          The phrase “New Testament in the original Greek” sets off alarms in my brain. I think it comes down to the combination of “New Testament” and “original”.

        • Taneli Huuskonen

          It’s funny, the same happened in my brain when I wrote my … ahem … original comment in this thread. I had to re-read my own comment before posting it, just to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently saying anything about the original text.

        • Greg G.

          When read closely, it does not imply that it is the original words but many people do not read it that way, coming away with the idea that we do have the original words. Some start with that assumption and read the phrase as confirmation. So I just say “Greek New Testament” now, or mGNT for the “morphological Greek New Testament” which I think is also called the majority text though it favors older texts over more numerous recent manuscripts. But maybe I am too optimistic.

        • TheNuszAbides

          But maybe I am too optimistic.

          this exchange from The Meaning of Life encapsulates my response:

          Palin: One: People are not wearing enough hats. …

          Jones: … enough for what purpose?

        • Guestie

          Ah, I once saw a classified ad in a newspaper that read, “White family bible. Never been used. $10”

      • markr1957

        My father put it rather well when he spoke of Christianity, Paulianity and the more common (these days) Churchianity.

    • Liz

      Also in the media the correct facts are often clarified in subsequent reports, so we end up with more and clearer accounts. We’re not left to guess which is right. And we don’t have to try and harmonise the accounts because it’s clear that X media outlet got it wrong. In fact the media themselves often print retractions or corrections when they discover they made a mistake.

    • TheNuszAbides

      One guesses the Holy Spirit had problems in the line.

      indeed, the clear lack of a Holy Line Editor is evidence that the Trinity is an incomplete pseudo-entity (or that at least one of its components – therefore all of it at once, because ~mystery~ – was asleep on the job for the first several editions).

  • eric

    The airplane story and the resurrection story each have inconsistencies surrounding their own common core

    If five newspapers reported that the plane subsequently turned into a giant roc and flew off carrying the boy in it’s talons, I wouldn’t believe any of them without corroborative evidence. I might suspect a War of the Worlds type prank or a magician doing unannounced street magic, but I wouldn’t take any of the stories at face value. And neither, I suspect, would Mr. Mammen.

    So, if Mr. Mammen wants me to give the bible the same leeway I give news reporters, my response is: I do. I treat them the same. Why do you, Mr. Mammen, treat the bible exceptionally in accepting in it things you would not accept in a stack of five newspapers?

    Some contradictions in eyewitness testimony and oral retellings are to be expected. But regardless of the number or type or even lack of contradictions, that doesn’t make me throw out my acceptance of the laws of physics.

    • Ctharrot

      Exactly. Suppose I make two claims–that I deadlifted 200 pounds, and that my wife deadlifted 22,000 pounds. And suppose I provide the same evidence for both claims in the form of a written, signed statement from a purported witness. Are we to conclude that both claims must be equally likely to be true because they’re supported by equivalent evidence? Of course not.

      Would our assessment change if I could provide, say, four signed witness statements for each claim? Again, of course not.

      Overlooking or ignoring the threshold likelihood of a claim itself–the “prior probability” in Bayesian terms–renders any discussion of supporting evidence alone practically meaningless.

  • Greg G.

    Now make that forty years happen in a foreign culture, a Greek culture already familiar with miracles such as turning water into wine, virgin births, and dying-and-rising gods.

    Don’t forget that the area had been recently ravaged by war with everybody in the most important city dispersed or killed.

  • Greg G.

    This SMBC version makes a little more sense.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/disc-world

  • Jack Baynes, Sandwichmaker

    What of the many fantastical stories of the Bible that are told only once. Since we have no other accounts to compare to and look for the overlapping truth, should we assume that they probably didn’t happen at all?

    • Ctharrot

      Aye, there’s the rub. Most believers (certainly those literally-inclined) tend to accept the single-source miracle claims in the Bible, such as Moses parting the waters, Samson slaying 1000 Philistine soldiers with only a donkey’s jawbone, Peter bringing Dorcas back from the dead, etc. Yet they won’t accept–correctly, of course–comparably documented miracle claims from other traditions, such as the Labors of Hercules, Gilgamesh’s battle with the Bull of Heaven, and Emperor Vespasian’s healing powers. The special pleading is readily apparent. (And in my opinion, much easier to focus on when we’re not distracted by the kinds of side issues about dating, authorship, inconsistencies, and the like, that come up in conversations about the canonical Gospels.)

    • Liz

      Ah well in that case you just get chided for lack of faith, because after all God should only have to say things once, right?

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Sure, and being omnipotent He should have not trouble at all seeing that the stories are written down, transcribed, and translated properly. After all, eternal damnation could be the result is something goes wrong in any of those, resulting in people not believing in Him.

        • epicurus

          Like getting the meanings right for words like “this” and “generation” and “shall not” and “pass away” and especially the meaning of the word “soon.”

        • Greg G.

          At least being specific whether soon means “any second now” versus “any millennium now”.

        • epicurus

          And yet I’ve seen apologists defend things like “Jesus ascended to Heaven” with a principle that everyone back then thought heaven was in the clouds so God through the writers just used terms and concepts people of the time would understand there is a specific theological term for this which currently escapes me, anyone know?

        • epicurus

          OK, I remembered where I saw it – Divine Accommodation.
          From Randal Rauser’s book “What on Earth do we know about Heaven”
          So my point is God will accommodate we puny humans by pretending heaven is up above, but can’t be bothered to accommodate with terms like “Soon” “This Generation” “Pass away” etc.

          Here are the relevant parts from the book I took Iphone pics of:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4be674080adc7715e8024c1cd2f9e64d9de0e34121806bd1978e311f01132482.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5d2ef6544d14b54ad8fc4f210cecb2f72eb24288fc90be086950f9b64ce88a6e.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/156de292511a03f26a2c4779cfb563fd14110c04fb5b31d7e0d737e4a7d13a8a.png

        • Kevin K

          I LOLd.

        • Jim Jones

          Then I began to see that not just the scribal text but the original text itself was a very human book. This stood very much at odds with how I had regarded the text in my late teens as a newly minted “born-again” Christian, convinced that the Bible was the inerrant Word of God and that the biblical words themselves had come to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As I realized already in graduate school, even if God had inspired the original words, we don’t have the original words. So the doctrine of inspiration was in a sense irrelevant to the Bible as we have it, since the words God reputedly inspired had been changed and, in some cases, lost.

          Moreover, I came to think that my earlier views of inspiration were not only irrelevant, they were probably wrong. For the only reason (I came to think) for God to inspire the Bible would be so that his people would have his actual words; but if he really wanted people to have his actual words, surely he would have miraculously preserved those words, just as he had miraculously inspired them in the first place. Given the circumstance that he didn’t preserve the words, the conclusion seemed inescapable to me that he hadn’t gone to the trouble of inspiring them.

          Misquoting Jesus — Bart Ehrman

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          And being omnipresent and immortal, he would be shooting himself in the foot by communicating by text- the dumbass only needs to talk!

        • TheNuszAbides

          especially when ~~LOGOS~~ gets its ultra-special definition that transcends puny mortal {*spit*} text.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    I remember someone tried to pull this on me during an e-mail debate.
    If the stories agree, that is evidence that they are true.
    If the stories disagree, that is evidence that they are true.
    I asked him: what would constitute evidence that the stories are false?

    And this guy was a scientist.

    • Greg G.

      The Criterion of Coherence is that if a saying or action is aligned with the Judaism or Christianity of the day, it is likely to be authentic as it is what we would expect Jesus to have done. The Criterion of Dissimilarity is that a saying or action that differs from the Judaism or Christianity of the day, it must be authentic and come from Jesus.

      • Otto

        I don’t know squat about NT scholarship but from the little I have heard it seems fraught with dishonesty and gullible people who ‘want to believe’.

        I read this article last night…let me know what you think.

        https://www.thedailybeast.com/almost-everything-we-know-about-the-earliest-copies-of-the-new-testament-is-wrong?ref=home

        • Greg G.

          Wow! I am sure that NT scholarship does not take every new find as one step from the Holy Grail until proven otherwise, well, pretty sure, well, I assume it isn’t liike that, I mean, there must be a few exceptions…

        • Otto

          Prof Hector Avalos wrote a book on the subject that sounds interesting though I have not read it.

          https://www.amazon.com/End-Biblical-Studies-Hector-Avalos/dp/1591025362

        • epicurus

          After the gospel of mark fragment fiasco, imagine Dan Wallace involved in this!

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Good stuff. Thanks for the link.
          It would be good to have some of those old fragments carbon-dated, which requires the loss of less material than it did in previous times.

      • Heads I win and tails you lose–is that it?

        • Greg G.

          They seem to make up criteria to make it look like they have a reason for their assumption.

        • Greg G.

          Here is the improved version of it:

          http://disq.us/p/1v6zdk2

    • epeeist

      And this guy was a scientist.

      Science isn’t immune from this sort of thing (Have a look at this article on retracted papers for example), but at least you stand a chance of being caught out if your observations can’t be repeated.

      Assume one person says something when it comes to theology while another person says something totally different, how are you going to tell who is more likely to be correct?

      • Pofarmer

        Which one has access to an inquisitor?

    • Guestie

      I once met a physicist at a backyard BBQ who was a YEC. My gasts were flabbered. I quite literally didn’t know where to begin or what to say so I just got another beer.

      • Jim Jones

        Physicists, engineers and doctors are susceptible to religious twaddle. They don’t study life sciences.

        • Guestie

          Engineers I knew about. I’ve seen that a lot. I haven’t known many physicists but the ones I have known weren’t YECs until this guy.

        • Sam

          Especially the doctors. Such idiots.

        • Jim Jones

          Doctors aren’t scientists. They’re plumbers with stethoscopes.

  • Triggerman1976

    Where’s the “backfire”, Bob?
    You did exactly what any normal, thinking person would do when faced with apparent contradictions: you went to the text itself and weeded out the facts. The same thing happens when someone lodges the accusation against the Bible.

    Further, you insert the common phantom claim, a version of the Bauer-Ehrman Hypothesis, that there was, “rival traditions [that had] to fight it out and for copyists to add or delete as their own beliefs demanded.” Where’s the evidence? There’s not one single stream of transmission for the gospels, there are multiple streams, as well as for any other particular book of the NT, except for maybe Hebrews and definitely Revelation. They go off in the ANE like a bomb and get scattered to the four winds, getting quoted and copied so that if there was any major derivation in doctrine imposed on the text it would stick out like a sore thumb. It’s essentially an argument from silence.

    Further, you misrepresent what Mammen’s conclusion was–which seems to be a consistent pattern with you. He does not argue that, “professional reporters can’t be trusted to get the details right on a mundane story that happened the previous day.” Far from it, aside from using that as a hyperbolic example to demonstrate his point, rather it was to point out that different people focus on different aspects of the same events and will often use different vocabulary and ways of making descriptions to convey information, just like the authors of the gospels do.

    “But then it expects us to believe the gospel accounts (already suspect because they are full of the supernatural) that were written down decades later?”
    I mean that’s not rational, that’s just dismissive hand-waving. Let’s just take out the parenthetical, which displays your bias, and say, so what? Josephus didn’t start writing about his experience in the siege of Jerusalem until 20 years after it happened. By your logic, you have to dismiss anything that he wrote about anything that happened in his lifetime because he didn’t start writing it down for multiple decades after it happened, over 40 years in some cases. He was not in a position in life as the client of a patron who could support his efforts to record that history until that point in his life. There were no Staples or Office Depots or WalMarts in the ancient world to run down to an pick up a ream of paper or a notebook and pens. Paper, ink, and pens had to be made by hand, and it was prohibitively expensive, so it might take years for a writer to gather enough paper to write something like Mark’s gospel, and then there’s the copying so that it could go out.

    • Lark62

      The church held a series of councils where they voted on which books were most spirit filled helpful in getting and keeping power and money.

      Books that didn’t make the cut were burned, sometimes along with the people who supported them.

    • Otto

      >>>”that there was, “rival traditions [that had] to fight it out and for copyists to add or delete as their own beliefs demanded.”

      Rival traditions did have to fight it out…the Apostles Creed states what the orthodox belief’s are because every point mentioned was fought bitterly over prior to it.

      • Triggerman1976

        Well, the Apostles’ Creed appears very early (AD120), but the Didache begins with a credal statement and it’s dated REALLY early (AD60). So, how many “rival traditions” could there have been in the 60 years between the production fo the Didache and the creation of the Apostles’ Creed?
        History gives us an idea: a grand total of 2. Marcionism and the various strains of Gnosticism.
        Plus there’s the credal examples that we have in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, Philippians 2:6-10, and Colossians 1:15-20.

        • Greg G.

          Wikipedia says the Apostle’s Creed dates to the late fourth century.

        • Otto

          He knows goddamned well the apostles creed as it is currently stated does not date to 120. He is just another Liar for Jesus.

        • Triggerman1976
        • epeeist

          There are no footnotes and your source is from 1913, don’t you have anything more recent?

        • Greg G.

          Try reading what the articles in the footnotes actually say. It shows that the Apostle’s Creed was built from earlier creeds. If you meant to say that, admit your phrasing was incorrect.

          Don’t blame others for understanding what you said instead of guessing what you meant to say.

        • Otto

          I can’t find anywhere that says the apostles creed in its current form dates to 120 CE.

          I also notice you didn’t touch my statement that every belief stated in the apostles creed was bitterly fought over by Christians…because you know they were.

        • Triggerman1976
        • Otto

          It is like you didn’t even read your own reference ffs.

        • Otto

          the earliest appearance of what we know as the Apostles’ Creed was in the De singulis libris canonicis scarapsus (“Excerpt from Individual Canonical Books”) of St. Pirminius (Migne, Patrologia Latina 89, 1029 ff.), written between 710 and 714.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostles%27_Creed#History

        • Triggerman1976

          It’s in Tertullian, and cited as the “Roman Creed”.

        • Greg G.

          cited as the “Roman Creed”.

          It is not the same wording nor is it called the Apostle’s Creed.

          It is like saying that George Washington is me with a different name, but we speak many of the same words.

        • Otto

          That is not its current form.

        • Greg G.

          If the Apostle’s Creed came from the Roman Creed, then it is misnamed as it is not really from the apostles.

        • Greg G.

          Otto posted http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2018/08/when-christian-arguments-backfire/#comment-4063965039 around the same time he posted the reply you are replying to here. His reply to me was:

          He knows goddamned well the apostles creed as it is currently stated does not date to 120. He is just another Liar for Jesus.

          I can testify that is what Disqus sent to my email at the time, so it is not edited. You should address the “in its current form” bit because your link proves Otto to be correct.

        • Triggerman1976

          I wasn’t talking about a “current form”, I was talking about the historical creed. My claim stands unassailed. Otto is in error and the link proves it.

        • Greg G.

          You typed ” the Apostle’s Creed”. What we call the Apostle’s Creed did not appear around 120AD. If you meant “an apostle’s creed”, giess what you should have typed. If you meant “a predecessor of the Apostle’s Creed”, you could have typed that.

          Nobody can read the inner dialogue in your head unless you post it.

        • Pofarmer

          Nobody can read the inner dialogue in your head

          Nor do we desire to.

        • Greg G.

          I should have worded that better. He could plausibly infer that I was inviting that. But he infers whatever he wants to no matter what it says.

        • Bones

          No church historian dates the Apostles Creed to the second century CE.

          As for rival traditions see the original Twelve themselves who thought of Paul as a false apostle and who later became the Ebionites. In fact the core of their beliefs was not eating meat sacrificed to idols.That includes the Jewish scribe who wrote Revelation who considered Paul the False prophet.

          Or any of those churches condemned by Paul.

        • D.M.S.

          You are right about Franklin Graham that man takes 2 million dollars a year from Samaritan’s purse as a Salary.
          My pastor make less than 5 of that amount, which is about average in today’s market.

        • Greg G.

          My pastor make less than 5 of that amount

          What does that mean? If you mean 1/5, that’s $400,000 which is outrageous. If you mean 5%, then it’s $100,000 which is not a vow of poverty.

        • D.M.S.

          It’s less than 4%.
          Who is that vow of poverty to you or GOD?
          I live on than 2% of that amount.
          What’s it cost to to run a Church with 300+ parishioners, 22 missions, church payments and programs.
          I guess it also depends on what the cost of living is in our area.
          There’s all kinds of variables associated with it.

        • Who is that vow of poverty to you or GOD?

          Sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me–remember that?

          On a tangential topic: if you live in the US, you probably know that all nonprofits are obligated to make their financial records public … except for churches. What do you think about that? I’d like to see that exemption eliminated. It makes churches look bad, like they have something to hide.

        • Greg G.

          You scooped me here but I didn’t let that stop me.

        • Greg G.

          Who is that vow of poverty to you or GOD?

          I don’t think it matters as long as you give it all to the poor.

          Mark 10:21 (NRSV)21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

          Gospel Jesus doesn’t say much about the church as an operation or a syndicate with a hierarchy. Maybe you aren’t supposed to have missions. Maybe you are supposed to get all the believers to agree on what Christianity is all about, then everybody else will be so impressed that they will also believe. But Christians are just soooo selective when it comes to listening to Jesus. Very few of them chop off a hand, pluck out an eye, or castrate themselves, as if they decided that Jesus was just using hyperbole.

        • D.M.S.

          I guess that’s between my pastor and GOD.
          But by that scripture that would refer to ALL Christians.
          So you won’t mind if I come to your house for dinner and then poop in your yard when I leave.
          I’ve got to live some how.
          Back in the first century people would sell themselves into servitude
          ( slaves ) for food and clothing.
          So no pastors are allowed to make a living for themselves and their family while serving God?
          But then you won’t mind when we live off of the government teat to survive.
          Scripture also states that we have to work to eat.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe you could live like hippies in a commune the way the Christians did in Acts.

          Acts 4:32-37 (NRSV)32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33 With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35 They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). 37 He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

          Acts 5:1-11 (NRSV)1 But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; 2 with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” 5 Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. 6 The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.

          Compare that to Josephus’ description of the Essenes:

          Antiquities of the Jews 18.1.5 §18-225. The doctrine of the Essens is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; and when they send what they have dedicated to God into the temple, they do not offer sacrifices because they have more pure lustrations of their own; on which account they are excluded from the common court of the temple, but offer their sacrifices themselves; yet is their course of life better than that of other men; and they entirely addict themselves to husbandry. It also deserves our admiration, how much they exceed all other men that addict themselves to virtue, and this in righteousness; and indeed to such a degree, that as it hath never appeared among any other men, neither Greeks nor barbarians, no, not for a little time, so hath it endured a long while among them. This is demonstrated by that institution of theirs, which will not suffer any thing to hinder them from having all things in common; so that a rich man enjoys no more of his own wealth than he who hath nothing at all. There are about four thousand men that live in this way, and neither marry wives, nor are desirous to keep servants; as thinking the latter tempts men to be unjust, and the former gives the handle to domestic quarrels; but as they live by themselves, they minister one to another. They also appoint certain stewards to receive the incomes of their revenues, and of the fruits of the ground; such as are good men and priests, who are to get their corn and their food ready for them. They none of them differ from others of the Essens in their way of living, but do the most resemble those Dacae who are called Polistae [dwellers in cities].

          Jewish Wars 2.8.2 §119-121
          12. For there are three philosophical sects among the Jews. The followers of the first of which are the Pharisees; of the second, the Sadducees; and the third sect, which pretends to a severer discipline, are called Essens. These last are Jews by birth, and seem to have a greater affection for one another than the other sects have. These Essens reject pleasures as an evil, but esteem continence, and the conquest over our passions, to be virtue. They neglect wedlock, but choose out other persons children, while they are pliable, and fit for learning, and esteem them to be of their kindred, and form them according to their own manners. They do not absolutely deny the fitness of marriage, and the succession of mankind thereby continued; but they guard against the lascivious behavior of women, and are persuaded that none of them preserve their fidelity to one man.

          Jewish Wars 2.8.3 §122-123
          3. These men are despisers of riches, and so very communicative as raises our admiration. Nor is there any one to be found among them who hath more than another; for it is a law among them, that those who come to them must let what they have be common to the whole order, – insomuch that among them all there is no appearance of poverty, or excess of riches, but every one’s possessions are intermingled with every other’s possessions; and so there is, as it were, one patrimony among all the brethren. They think that oil is a defilement; and if any one of them be anointed without his own approbation, it is wiped off his body; for they think to be sweaty is a good thing, as they do also to be clothed in white garments. They also have stewards appointed to take care of their common affairs, who every one of them have no separate business for any, but what is for the uses of them all.

          Jewish Wars 2.8.4 §124-127
          ]4. They have no one certain city, but many of them dwell in every city; and if any of their sect come from other places, what they have lies open for them, just as if it were their own; and they go in to such as they never knew before, as if they had been ever so long acquainted with them. For which reason they carry nothing at all with them when they travel into remote parts, though still they take their weapons with them, for fear of thieves. Accordingly, there is, in every city where they live, one appointed particularly to take care of strangers, and to provide garments and other necessaries for them. But the habit and management of their bodies is such as children use who are in fear of their masters. Nor do they allow of the change of or of shoes till be first torn to pieces, or worn out by time. Nor do they either buy or sell any thing to one another; but every one of them gives what he hath to him that wanteth it, and receives from him again in lieu of it what may be convenient for himself; and although there be no requital made, they are fully allowed to take what they want of whomsoever they please.

          It looks like Mark borrowed from Jewish Wars 2.8.4 for Jesus’ instructions to the disciples when he sent out the twelve.

          Mark 6:8-10 (NRSV)
          8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.

          If you think Mark and Luke were just ripping off Josephus to write stories about Jesus and the disciples, you should just ignore this stuff. If you do not think that way, why are you not following this biblical example? Why have you learned the ways of the nations?

          Jeremiah 10:1-4 (NRSV)1 Hear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord:Do not learn the way of the nations,    or be dismayed at the signs of the heavens;    for the nations are dismayed at them.3 For the customs of the peoples are false:a tree from the forest is cut down,    and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan;4 people deck it with silver and gold;    they fasten it with hammer and nails    so that it cannot move.

          Why be so selective about the Bible verses you follow? Shouldn’t you follow them all?

        • D.M.S.

          It still amazes me, the people like you who spout scripture everywhere and believe in none of it.
          You yourself stated that Christ is a myth.
          You only use God/Jesus word to cut Christians with, nothing else.

        • Greg G.

          You spout Bible verses as if they mean something but pick and choose what to follow. I am not the hypocrite here.

          The Bible can be made to say almost anything. Slave owners used it to support their slavery for centuries.

          There are over 45,000 different denominations of Christianity according the the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. It would be impressive if you could get the Catholics and the Evangelicals to get on the same page, the way Jesus prayed they would. You should do what Jesus wants instead of hanging out here. Dave Armstrong is a Catholic. Try to work things out with him.

        • D.M.S.

          I stand with Mathew 10:22.
          And Mathew 10:32-40.
          You have no use for the Christ myth. Your own words.
          My words.
          I have no use for catholic doctrine.
          Peace.

        • Greg G.

          It’s “Matthew”, with two “t”s.

          You must be drinking. You are not quoting anything I said.

          It doesn’t matter whether you have a use for Catholic doctrine. You just have to come to agree with them on all things theological. You can convert them or you can join them. Or compromise. Not just them. The Young Earth Creationists must come to agree with the Christians who think God is the “essence of all being”. Trinitarians and Unitarians must agree or compromise to be Binitarians. The gaps are wide and diverse in Christianity. If you don’t, Jesus is the biggest prayer failure of all time, and you get part of the blame.

        • Otto

          Hate? lol…no one here hates you, you are just silly.

        • D.M.S.

          Thank you, you’re so kind.

        • epeeist

          You have no use for the Christ myth.

          It’s a myth? Thank you for confirming what we all suspected.

        • D.M.S.

          🙂

        • D.M.S.

          Blah, blah, blah.
          I’m sure you have more of your great intelligence to spout to what you think are the ignorant of this world, minion.

        • Greg G.

          minion

          Wow! I just got promoted to MINION! Mom will be so proud!

        • Greg G.

          BTW, if someone is bad-mouthing intelligence, education, and thinking for yourself while taking money from you, you should stop giving them money and start learning to think for yourself.

          If someone is bad-mouthing intelligence, education, and thinking for yourself while giving money to someone who is telling them that, they are brainwashed. Do not let that happen to you.

        • Kevin K

          Peter was a dick.

        • D.M.S.

          We do give money to the poor.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus said to sell everything and give it to the poor. You are not doing half what it takes.

        • D.M.S.

          People who hate Christ Jesus don’t get spout doctrine that they don’t understand.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t hate Jesus. I do hate Santa Claus. Christmas 1964. He knows why.

        • But you understand it?

          Tell me: how many denominations of Christianity are there? Why do you suppose there are so many instead of just 1? Could it be different interpretations of scripture? And why says that you’re the one who has it figured out?

        • D.M.S.

          Only thru the HolySpirit do I understand.

        • Raging Bee

          We don’t hate Jesus, we hate bigots and morons who claim to speak for him. THEY’RE NOT JESUS, remember?

        • D.M.S.

          How is the entire world going to hear about the Lord God/Jesus if all pastors are broke?
          We Christians are to bring the entire world to the Lord God/Jesus. With Satellite, Radio, Television and social media none of that is for free.
          Im positive that’s what our Lord God/Jesus would want us to do.
          I’m sure your master satan wants more time to manipulate the world away from GOD even more.

        • D.M.S.

          I prefer Mathew 10:22 myself.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t hate you for any reason. I hope that doesn’t keep you from being saved. It is just about the silliest theology yet.

        • Bones

          Your pastor makes what?

        • Well, at least the Athanasian Creed, which summarizes the modern understanding of the Trinity, comes from the earliest church fathers.

          Kidding. This definition of the fundamental concept of how God works was only written in about 500.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athanasian_Creed#Origin

        • Bones

          Yes in response to the Arian controversy.

          Creeds exist to divide people.

    • Ctharrot

      “Let’s just take out the parenthetical, which displays your bias, and say, so what?”

      Out of curiosity, how would you characterize your own bias? Do you think you evaluate all pre-modern miracle claims using roughly equivalent epistemological standards, or do you require less support (documentary or archaeological) to credit biblical miracle narratives than you would to accept the accuracy of a pagan miracle claim?

      • Triggerman1976

        That’s a very good question. My bias is that I am biased, and I don’t pretend to not be biased, but admitting that I am biased means that I have to be more skeptical than the average skeptic claims to be.
        As with any claim, it should be evaluated within its immediate, historical and presented context. Very few, if any, pagan claims are actually rooted in any historical context. But those that are, I am fully prepared to accept, because I recognize that there are powers and authorities that people are subject to.

        • Ctharrot

          Not sure what you mean about few pagan claims being rooted in an historical context; the records of antiquity preserve any number of narratives about signs, wonders, miracles, prophecies, visions, and the like. We might be thinking about different things.

          Let’s take just one example, at least to start with. In his Histories, Herodotus gives this account of the divine protecting Delphi from the Persians:

          * * *

          Now when the Delphians heard what danger they were in, great fear fell on them. In their terror they consulted the oracle concerning the holy treasures, and inquired if they should bury them in the ground, or carry them away to some other country. The god [Apollo], in reply, bade them leave the treasures untouched- “He was able,” he said, “without help to protect his own.” So the Delphians, when they received this answer, began to think about saving themselves. And first of all they sent their women and children across the gulf into Achaea; after which the greater number of them climbed up into the tops of Parnassus, and placed their goods for safety in the Corycian cave; while some effected their escape to Amphissa in Locris. In this way all the Delphians quitted the city, except sixty men, and the Prophet.

          When the barbarian assailants drew near and were in sight of the place, the Prophet, who was named Aceratus, beheld, in front of the temple, a portion of the sacred armour, which it was not lawful for any mortal hand to touch, lying upon the ground, removed from the inner shrine where it was wont to hang. Then went he and told the prodigy to the Delphians who had remained behind. Meanwhile the enemy pressed forward briskly, and had reached the shrine of Minerva Pronaia, when they were overtaken by other prodigies still more wonderful than the first. Truly it was marvel enough, when warlike harness was seen lying outside the temple, removed there by no power but its own; what followed, however, exceeded in strangeness all prodigies that had ever before been seen. The barbarians had just reached in their advance the chapel of Minerva Pronaia, when a storm of thunder burst suddenly over their heads- at the same time two crags split off from Mount Parnassus, and rolled down upon them with a loud noise, crushing vast numbers beneath their weight- while from the temple of Minerva there went up the war-cry and the shout of victory.

          * * *
          Which do you think is more likely? That this is human-invented legend reflecting the religious beliefs of the author and his society, or that the gods actually intervened to awe and smite the barbarians, as foretold in prophecy?

        • Kevin K

          This is remarkably similar to the “rain miracle” achieved by Marcus Aurelius.

        • Ctharrot

          Yeah, the gods used to be known for intervening in battles between warring tribes, city-states, and empires.

          Now . . . football games.

        • Triggerman1976

          –Which do you think is more likely?

          Both.

        • Ctharrot

          That response doesn’t provide much clarity into your take on this pagan miracle narrative.

          Perhaps it would help if we rephrase the question: Do you believe that Herodotus’ account of the gods miraculously intervening to save Delphi from the Persians is true?

        • MR

          If I’m not mistaken, I think TM76 is alluding to Eph 3.10:

          “Then God would use the church to show the powers and authorities in the spiritual world that he has many different kinds of wisdom…,”

          And that, yes, he does believe it as likely that the gods actually intervened. His reticence to state that outright is probably because he understands how loony that sounds; but some Christians do believe that the other gods did, in fact, exist (I presume ‘do’ exist), it’s just that God asserted his authority in the world through Jesus.

        • Ctharrot

          Possibly, although my sense is that’s a rather heterodox position (even heretical, I imagine, among certain denominations). He might also share the related belief (very common in the early medieval period, and still held by some today) that Celtic, Germanic, Greco-Roman, and other pagan deities exist, but are demonic agents of Satan playing roles to draw mortals away from the Most Correct Religion.

        • MR

          Yes, I should have been more explicit, but it boils down to believing those tales, including the supernatural aspects, to be real events, not simply legend and myth. I personally happen to know that when the Roman “gods” were thrown out of power and exorcised to the “desert places,” they were banished to the Mojave Desert to wander for 2,000 years. I mean, how else do you explain Las Vegas?

        • Ctharrot

          🙂 Ah, yes, now the existence of Caesar’s Palace makes total sense. Thanks!

          But seriously. Whether it’s on the loony side or not, at least the sort of quasi-pantheism you’re describing has the benefit of according all analogous miracle claims roughly equivalent merit when they have roughly equivalent documentary support. That leads to all kinds of other theological, ontological, and epistemological problems, but there is clearly less of a special pleading problem with such an approach.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Last Vegas? Wasn’t that the Mormons?

        • MR

          The Mormons disturbed the nest. Think about it. Where did the mafia originate? Decadence not seen since the days of the early emperors…. And Caesar and Cleopatra at Caesars Palace…, do you really think they’re actors? Dude, have you seen the disdain with which they treat both patrons and staff? Deified reincarnates. This is the real thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was thinking more that the Mormons built the first structured settlement that eventually became the place where the city was constructed, rather than the hedonistic entity it later became.

          Hallowed ground.

          Where did the mafia originate?

          19th century Sicily?

          Decadence not seen since the days of the early emperors….

          Oh I think there’s a few popes that could give them a run for their money…then there is the European royalty…not forgetting the modern middle east…Saddam Hussein was a proper decadent fellow.

          This is the real thing.

          And people flock to the place. Can’t be all that bad, I’ve a close friend whose been a few times…loves it.

          I must give it a blast meself. //s

        • Ctharrot

          It’s been a week, and I see you’ve responded to several other comments, but not my question seeking clarification about whether you believe the account of Delphi’s divine defense in the Histories of Herodotus.

          Just reminding you the question is still open, if you’re inclined to continue a conversation about the epistemology of ancient miracle claims. If you’re not, okeedoke.

          Edited to add: Incidentally, you’re more than welcome to ask me questions, if that helps. I’ll answer them forthrightly and honestly. Dunno whether they’ll always be accurate–I make mistakes–but I’m pretty good about not deflecting, changing the subject, resorting to insults, etc.

    • Where’s the “backfire”, Bob?
      You did exactly what any normal, thinking person would do when faced with apparent contradictions: you went to the text itself and weeded out the facts.

      So then you see how poor the airplane argument is. That’s how it backfired.

      The same thing happens when someone lodges the accusation against the Bible.

      Good luck with that. Too many Christians fall back on rationalization, never considering that the Bible might be wrong, corrupt, etc.

      Further, you insert the common phantom claim, a version of the Bauer-Ehrman Hypothesis, that there was, “rival traditions [that had] to fight it out and for copyists to add or delete as their own beliefs demanded.” Where’s the evidence?

      Just a rhetorical claim? You know about the different strains of Christianity—Marcionism, Gnosticism, plus a bunch of different flavors of more-or-less mainstream Christianity (witness the many heresy arguments, particularly in the early centuries) that fought it out like brands of cereal.

      Or, if you’d prefer, let’s take your extreme view. Let’s say there’s no evidence of rival Christianities. Then your position can only be, not that there were no alternative views other than the ones that we have today, but that there might have been no alternative views. That’s a weak foundation on which to build your remarkable supernatural claims.

      There’s not one single stream of transmission for the gospels, there are multiple streams

      And this is a good thing? When you have two alternative traditions, which one is authentic?

      as well as for any other particular book of the NT, except for maybe Hebrews and definitely Revelation.

      Given the problems that we know about (Comma Johannium, long ending of Mark, chapter 21 in John, 2 Peter being pseudepigraphical, and so on), I would have thought that you’d be cautious going forward, knowing that there must be plenty of other problems that the historical record is too scant to show us.

      They go off in the ANE like a bomb and get scattered to the four winds, getting quoted and copied so that if there was any major derivation in doctrine imposed on the text

      Huh?? When there’s an original tradition and a new tradition, how do you tell the difference?? I am eager to hear of this first-century mechanism that would reveal the error. Further, I’d like to hear why you know that when there are two traditions, the early Christians would even be motivated to pick the original. Sometimes the new tradition looks like an improvement.

      Further, you misrepresent what Mammen’s conclusion was–which seems to be a consistent pattern with you.

      Well, sure. As an atheist I’m not just going to stand in the way of a powerful Christian argument, will I? I’d sooner stand in front of a fire hose. Atheist are all liars—we know that.

      He does not argue that, “professional reporters can’t be trusted to get the details right on a mundane story that happened the previous day.”

      Seems to me that one conclusion from his article is that newspapers aren’t reliable, but thanks for your viewpoint.

      Let’s just take out the parenthetical, which displays your bias

      The parenthetical is “already suspect because they are full of the supernatural.” Show me someone who takes the supernatural claims of a foreign religion at face value, demoting it not a bit because of its supernatural elements.

      Josephus didn’t start writing about his experience in the siege of Jerusalem until 20 years after it happened. By your logic, you have to dismiss anything that he wrote about anything that happened in his lifetime because he didn’t start writing it down for multiple decades after it happened, over 40 years in some cases.

      Wrong again. But show me where you got the idea that I say we must dismiss every historical account written 20+ years after the fact.

      There were no Staples or Office Depots or WalMarts in the ancient world to run down to an pick up a ream of paper or a notebook and pens.

      True, but how is this relevant? Are you saying that the recording technology at the time was primitive, so we’ll just have to accept what we’ve got?

      • Triggerman1976

        Where to start…

        –So then you see how poor the airplane argument is.

        Actually it’s a very good argument from analogy because it precisely captures the extremes of irrationality that unbelievers have to go to to try to make there arguments.

        –Too many Christians fall back on rationalization, never considering that the Bible might be wrong, corrupt, etc.

        Oh, the irony.

        –Just a rhetorical claim?

        Yep. To say that these were “Christianities” is simply rhetorical flourish.

        –And this is a good thing?
        Yes. It’s a very good thing. And here’s a great explanation of WHY it’s a good thing https://youtu.be/DmA6c0yoVrQ?t=27m16s

        –Given the problems that we know about…
        CJ-not a problem
        LEM- not a problem
        John 21–(?)
        2 Peter–I’m just going to guess that you haven’t read any scholarly arguments on authorship, because there’s more reason to believe that Peter is the author than not.
        The only ones that need to be “careful” are the ones who’ve only read Ehrman.

        –Atheist are all liars—we know that.
        Can I quote that admission?

        –When there’s an original tradition and a new tradition, how do you tell the difference??
        Clearly, you’re confused. See the discussion in the video that I linked to.

        –Show me someone who takes the supernatural claims of a foreign religion at face value…
        **Raises hand.**That’s the only way that you can find out what is going on.

        –But show me where you got the idea that I say we must dismiss every historical account written 20+ years after the fact.

        Where did I get it? From you, by attempting to be consistent with your logic. If you want to say that your logic is faulty and that it should be abandoned, hey that’s cool. But it up-ends your argument.

        –Are you saying that the recording technology at the time was primitive, so we’ll just have to accept what we’ve got?

        Now you’re catching on.

        • Actually [the airplane argument] a very good argument from analogy because it precisely captures the extremes of irrationality that unbelievers have to go to to try to make there arguments.

          OK, let’s call it a good argument—that is, good compared to other apologetic arguments. It’s about as good an argument as one can find, but it still sucks. The author had to misrepresent modern journalism to invent a problem. A caption is not a news story.

          –Too many Christians fall back on rationalization, never considering that the Bible might be wrong, corrupt, etc.
          Oh, the irony.

          Huh? Where?

          I’m happy to think that I might be wrong or that scholars I’ve pointed to are wrong. It’s very freeing—give it a try. Too bad you can’t use it for the Bible—there’s your asymmetry.

          –Just a rhetorical claim?
          Yep. To say that these were “Christianities” is simply rhetorical flourish.

          Because we take you’re the modern view of “Christianity” and then map that back on to beliefs 2000 years ago and see how they measure up. Sure, that’s one approach. Not a very honest one, though.

          –And this is a good thing?
          Yes. It’s a very good thing. And here’s a great explanation of WHY it’s a good thing

          Gee, what a shame that I don’t have 3 hours to rewatch that debate.

          –Given the problems that we know about…

          I guess we’re miscommunicating, as usual. If you’re saying that Christianity has a rationalization for every problem that I know about, I’ll agree. You can just stop there and not waste your pixels. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for good, convincing explanations that are better than the obvious, “Well, ordinary people wrote it, put it together, and copied it. What did you expect but a bit of a mess?”

          –Atheist are all liars—we know that.
          Can I quote that admission?

          Why would you want to? Don’t you and all your friends already know it? One wonders why you waste your time here.

          –When there’s an original tradition and a new tradition, how do you tell the difference??
          Clearly, you’re confused. See the discussion in the video that I linked to.

          Ah, much clearer now! Thanks for the thorough analysis.

          –Show me someone who takes the supernatural claims of a foreign religion at face value…
          **Raises hand.**That’s the only way that you can find out what is going on.

          So what do you call your amalgam-of-all-beliefs?

          Where did I get it? From you, by attempting to be consistent with your logic.

          Adorable! You’re cute when you’re trying to keep up. But no, that wasn’t an accurate representation of my views.

          –Are you saying that the recording technology at the time was primitive, so we’ll just have to accept what we’ve got?
          Now you’re catching on.

          So what do you call your amalgam-of-all-beliefs?

      • Brianna LaPoint

        Cereal is an apt analogy, SOme prefer cereal in the morning. Others prefer a cup of coffee and yogurt. still others eat nothing for breakfast.

    • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

      See, but here’s the thing. If one news article only mentions one car and a different news article says there was two, and yet another says nothing about cars, I know only one of the articles is correct. And, amazingly enough, I can’t just assume that (like Christians like to do), it’s the one that says there are two cars because the other ones don’t explicitly say there aren’t two cars.

      Christians claim that the gospel is without errors of any kind. The fact that they disagree is, in fact, an issue, especially given that Christians like to make arguments from what isn’t in the Bible. For example, many Christians love to run around and say that gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because the Bible doesn’t say that men can marry men and women can marry women; it only talks about men marrying women. But we have real examples of one book of the Bible mentioning stuff from an event and different stuff appearing in that same event in a different book of the Bible, and Christians have no problem with that because, hey, who cares if something is left out (?!).

    • Curtis Wright

      If the word of god is infallible and the bible is the word of god, how can there be contradictions? And there are many contradictions. Arguing that would be foolish at best. So, what does that leaves us? That after having been re-translated so many times, by so many people, each with their own cultural and religious filters the bible is no longer the infallible word of god?

      Riddle me this. If god is omniscient and all-powerful then why did he allow his sacred text to become so muddled? Why does he allow his followers to read it and all walk away with a completely different understanding of what the words mean? Why did he allow the thousands of different “christianities” to develop? Wouldn’t he want his faithful children to all be on the same page (a little book humor there)? Because he chose not to do that, wars have been fought. Men, women and children have been murdered through the ages because they weren’t the right kind of christian. So, shower us with your wisdom. What exactly is god thinking? Oh, nevermind. We can’t know the mind of god right? He works in mysterious ways right? He would rather that billions of people die in their ignorance because the sacred text is so baffling and disjointed that there is no way that one cohesive religion could have sprouted from it. Hence the thousands of versions of “the one true church”. Why wouldn’t he want his will and his word to be perfectly clear, so that his children knew how to properly worship and praise? So, that his followers could work together instead of hating one another?

      Ten people of the same faith could walk in a room and all quietly pray to god about the same question and all ten can walk out with completely different answers. Isn’t god powerful enough to make sure his faithful all have the right answer? The lord’s answer?

      If the bible is the infallible word of god… then you have a serious conundrum. Because it can’t be both perfect and infallible while also being hopelessly contradictory due to the fallibility of humans. You can’t have it both ways.

      • Triggerman1976

        –And there are many contradictions.

        Eh, no. Big ole zero there. Are there paradoxes? Yes, quite a few. But a paradox is reconcilable.

        –That after having been re-translated so many times…

        Again, no. Hebrew is the original language of the OT, with some Aramaic sprinkled in a few books, but 99% is Hebrew. Koine Greek is the language of the NT. Are there translations of these texts? Yes, but the translations aren’t counted as authoritative unless they are reflecting a variant reading between two original language texts. All modern translations are derived from original language texts. Every ancient translation was derived from original language texts.

        — If god is omniscient and all-powerful then why did he allow his sacred text to become so muddled?

        Seems pretty clear to me.

        –Why does he allow his followers to read it and all walk away with a completely different understanding of what the words mean?

        We don’t disagree on what the words mean.

        –Why did he allow the thousands of different “christianities” to develop?

        Lemme guess: you’ve been reading Bart Ehrman. I’m going to paraphrase a movie line here, and show my age as well as questionable movie watching choices, “Jehovah loves wondrous variety.”

        –Wouldn’t he want his faithful children to all be on the same page?

        Newsflash: his faithful children ARE on the same page. I say that as a Baptist who has books in his library that are written by Presbyterians, Methodists, and even–gasp– Episcopalians and Anglicans. Surprisingly, we’re all on the same page when it comes to primary matters.

        — Men, women and children have been murdered through the ages because they weren’t the right kind of christian.

        Yeah, and you know what those all had in common: the sacral state. Where citizenship and loyalty was determined by membership to and participation in the state church. You know what stopped it? The free church movement.

        –We can’t know the mind of god right?

        Lemme quote the POTUS here: WRONG!

        –He would rather that billions of people die in their ignorance because the sacred text is so baffling and disjointed that there is no way that one cohesive religion could have sprouted from it.

        Except for the fact that there is one cohesive religion that rose from it because of its coherence and connectedness.

        –Hence the thousands of versions of “the one true church”

        There is only one true church, it just has lots of local branches. I can say that as someone who has been a member of 14 different ones in 3 denominations over the past 30 years.

        –Ten people of the same faith could walk in a room and all quietly pray to god about the same question and all ten can walk out with completely different answers.

        Lemme say this: 14 congregations; 3 denominations; 30 years: never happened.

        –If the bible is the infallible word of god… then you have a serious conundrum.

        Yeah: obey or disobey, that’s it.

        • Greg G.

          Ehrman. I’m going to paraphrase a movie line here,

          Nope, that would be a 2015 study by the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.

          “Jehovah loves wondrous variety.”

          In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays for such agreement between believers that the whole world would be so impressed that they would come to believe. That makes Jesus the greatest prayer failure of all time.

        • Triggerman1976

          –that would be a 2015 study by the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary
          I bet they got it from the movie.

          –In John 17:20-23,
          You would fail a biblical exegesis class.

        • Greg G.

          I bet they got it from the movie.

          Twenty bucks says they didn’t.

          You would fail a biblical exegesis class.

          Part of exegesis is identifying the literary genre. Biblical exegesis fails by not recognizing literary fiction.

        • You would fail a biblical exegesis class.

          It would depend on the bias of the exegesis, wouldn’t it?

        • Triggerman1976

          That’s the point of biblical exegesis: to uncover bias.

        • Well, that’s the stated purpose. When a conservative exegete finds a conservative message in the Bible (and so on for other standpoints), I suspect the purpose is instead to justify bias.

  • Michael Neville

    Well, folkie-poos, you won’t have Ol’ Mikey to kick around any more. However, to quote some immortal words:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY9jQq7U85c

    • Otto

      I don’t remember anyone here giving you permission to leave

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Whuh?

      Safe wherever, and safe return!

    • come back soon!

  • Jim Jones

    If the details don’t matter, what does? The “empty tomb” is proof of nothing, nothing remarkable, that is.

    Google (man steals corpse from grave) — About 2,330,000 results

    • Albionic American

      Usually when archaeologists come across an empty tomb, they assume that someone removed the dead body, not that the person buried there rose from the dead.

      Like the case with the empty tomb of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae, Iran.

      • Pofarmer

        Holy Crap, Cyrus the Great Resurrected?

  • Albionic American

    The Friday crucifixion makes no sense any way. Jewish superstitions about the sabbath didn’t bind the Romans, and since they ran the place, they could have kept Jesus hanging on the cross for as long as it took to make sure that he had really died, and that his body had started to decompose, as per the standard Roman practice.

    But if the Romans decided to comply with these superstitions any way for political reasons, they still faced no urgency to kill Jesus on Friday. They could have held him over the sabbath and then nailed him up bright and early Sunday morning to do it properly.

    Instead we have this contrived and implausible story in the Gospels about how the Romans had to do a rush job and get the crucifixion wrapped up by the arbitrary deadline of sundown on Friday. This shows as much as anything why we should question Jesus’ historical existence.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    it is because christian insist that they must all agree on every dot and tittle that i look upon the christian belief with disdain.

    • Greg G.

      But not agreeing on every jot and tittle makes Jesus the greatest prayer failure of all time. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays for unity of belief among believers, which would be so impressive, everybody in the world would believe.

    • It’s hard to imagine them even starting with this argument. There are 45,000 denominations.

      • LLCisyouandme

        Their philosophy tends toward schism. In practice, already, everyone has their own free will subjective experience with belief, and it is indeed a tenet of the system. Everyone lives in their own personal fantasy, spouting “objective truth.” It’s a narcissists world. They all eventually back-stab, or trade in presumed loyalty for silver.

  • Curtis Wright

    Yeah, at the end of the day the best argument against this is definitely, that “the bible is infallible”. That “the words of god are never wrong”. That “the bible is the word of god.” If these three statements are true, then how can their be contradictions? How can the weakness of men’s words be in this book when they are all supposed to be the words of god. So, are they the words of god? Does god make mistakes? Why didn’t god hire an editor? So many questions.

  • G.Shelley

    Also “a boy” and “a child” is not a contradiction. “A boy” and “two children” would be.
    But if fthat happened, we wouldn’t argue that they didn’t contradict, or argue that that fact that there are contradictions prove that there are no contradicrions. We’d ask if one was incorrect, and why the reports were different – was it really just a bit and one person had bad information, or were there two children and initially, only one was known about?

    • LLCisyouandme

      What’s being conveniently forgotten by Craig is that with the Bible the supposition is that the entire story, and thus the “recollection” of it, has been inspired by God. (Less so sleep-deprived Illinois interns and night editors on deadline.) So is it that “breath of truth” makes not a whit of difference, out of his incompetence, or that it makes not a whit of difference because it interferes with his narrative, or that error and chaos and conflicting voices in antipathy is the nature of the beast? If I’m dictating what’s essentially my autobiography, ghost-written, I’m at least going to be less constantly equivocal — unless of course my very nature is equivocal and the unreliable narrator is my best, only option.

  • Isaiah 11:11 – 12
    Predicted world geography over 2,000 years before it happened in 1948… in writing.

    It is in writing… thousand of years before it actually happened on the Earth on which you live.

    Hello Bob.

    * UPDATES
    *Ezekiel 37:11 – 12… reference also.

    • epeeist

      Isaiah 11:11 – 12
      Predicted world geography over 2,000 years before it happened in 1948… in writing.

      So let’s look at these verses.

      11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.

      12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of
      the earth.

      Note that this “prophecy” says nothing about dates, nothing about the Balfour declaration, nothing about the Holocaust, nothing about the United Nations. It’s almost as though the author wasn’t aware of the circumstances in which Israel would be reconstituted as a country.

      Note also that the only countries it mentions are in and around the Middle East, after that it gets vague and simply refers to the “four quarters of he earth”, nothing about Europe or the Americas. It’s almost as though the author didn’t know they existed.

      The “prophecy” seems to rank with those in Old Moore’s Almanac.

      • Note that this “prophecy” says nothing about dates, nothing about the Balfour declaration, nothing about the Holocaust, nothing about the United Nations

        It also says nothing about 1948!

        So much for God’s omniscience.

        • epeeist

          Personally I am convinced by this prophecy from Hildegard of Bingen:

          Before the Comet comes, many nations, the good excepted, will be scoured with want and famine. The great nation in the ocean that is inhabited by people of different tribes and descent by an earthquake, storm and tidal waves will be devastated. It will be divided, and in great part submerged. That nation will also have many misfortunes at sea, and lose its colonies in the east through a Tiger and a Lion. The Comet by its tremendous pressure, will force much out of the ocean and flood many countries, causing much want and many plagues. [After the]
          great Comet, the great nation will be devastated by earthquakes, storms, and great waves of water, causing much want and plagues. The ocean will also flood many other countries, so that all coastal cities will live in fear, with many destroyed. All sea coast cities will be fearful and many of them will be destroyed by tidal waves, and most living creatures will be killed and even those who escape will die from a horrible disease.

          This obviously predicts things like Trump, global warming, hurricanes Katrina and Maria, the rise of Russia and China, and HIV.

        • MR

          The composer?! Good Lord, there were some multi-talented people back then. Who has time for all that? Composing, prophesying, getting your kids to soccer practice…. I suppose when you don’t have the internet as a distraction….

        • epeeist

          The composer?!

          Yes. For those who don’t know her, here is a piece featuring my favourite early music soprano – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NGTsdL2YzE

    • Greg G.

      I remember back in the 1970s that Christians were predicting that Jesus was coming in 1988 because that was forty years after 1948. When 1988 came and went, it was supposed to happen May 24th, 2018 because that was 70 years later. Did I sleep through it that day?

      Isaiah 11:10 is about the root of Jesse on that day. Doesn’t that mean a king was supposed to lead? Shouldn’t it be a monarchy, not a democracy?

      Ezekiel 37:13 says that bones will come out of graves and they would live.