Why Not Call What God Does “Magic”?

Why Not Call What God Does “Magic”? December 13, 2018

Many Christians say that the supernatural wonders in the Bible performed by someone on God’s team must be called “miracles.” But look at the currency of these godly people—magic words and curses, talismans and charms, prophecies, life force, potions, divination, numerology, and more—and see if they don’t sound like magic.

Potions

Jesus healed a blind man by making mud with his spit and putting that on the man’s eyes. After he washed his eyes, the man could see (John 9:6–7). This was a tricky potion even for Jesus, because in the earlier parallel story, Jesus needed two tries to get it to work (Mark 8:22–5).

A more complex potion is needed in the trial by ordeal used to test a wife’s faithfulness (Numbers 5:11–31). Curses were written on a scroll, and those words were rinsed into a potion made of dirt and water. The accused woman had to drink the potion. She would miscarry, but only if she had been unfaithful.

Magical names

The Ten Commandments prohibited misusing the name of God, but what is a misuse? Frivolous, careless, or blasphemous use was one concern. That’s why “Yahweh” is avoided within Judaism in favor of Adonai (“The Lord”) or HaShem (“The Name”). When writing in English, Jews might go as far as to write “G-d.” By camouflaging a name that is itself a euphemism, they put themselves two steps away from using the sacred name of Yahweh.

But there’s another angle, explained in Wikipedia:

The ancient Jews considered God’s true name so potent that its invocation conferred upon the speaker tremendous power over His creations. To prevent abuse of this power, as well as to avoid blasphemy, the name of God was always taboo, and increasingly disused so that by the time of Jesus their High Priest was supposedly the only individual who spoke it aloud—and then only in the Holy of Holies upon the Day of Atonement.

This helps explain why God told Moses that his name was “I am” (Exodus 3:14). God was evasive because a name gave someone power. It also helps explain why we call the Christian god “God.” (It’s not like calling your cat “Cat” since “Yahweh” has power.)

Another example is Jacob wrestling God (Genesis 32:22–31). At the end of the contest, God blessed Jacob with the new name of Israel, but God refused to give his name to Jacob.

In the Garden of Eden story, Adam was granted the privilege of naming the animals.

Names having power is a popular idea outside the Bible as well. We see it in folklore, literature, and legend. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus used both a false name and his true name in his fight with the cyclops Polyphemus. Closer to our time, characters that could be controlled by their names include Rumpelstiltskin, Mr. Mxyzptlk (an enemy of Superman), and Beetlejuice. TV Tropes has a long list of additional examples of the power of names in literature, popular fiction, and real life.

Medicine and health in the Bible

We know that bacteria and viruses can cause disease but demons and sin can’t. In Jesus’s time, it was the other way around, and Jesus cured disease by expelling evil spirits (Mark 9:25). Disease was also a consequence of sin (John 5:14; Mark 2:2–12).

We’re told that the touch of a holy man can cure. That’s how Jesus cured a leper, a person with a fever, and two blind men. He raised two dead people by touching them. And the holy man doesn’t even have to be alive! “Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet” (2 Kings 13:21). Touch can also work the other way, and a woman was healed by touching Jesus (Mark 5:30).

Jesus doesn’t even have to be there. He healed the centurion’s servant remotely (Matthew 8:5–13). (More on Jesus’s relationship with medicine here.)

Then there’s the pseudoscience that like cures like. This is the idea of using “the hair of the dog that bit you” as medicine, and we see hints of this in voodoo dolls and homeopathy. The Bible has an example in the Nehushtan, a bronze snake, erected at God’s command, that cured bites from the snakes that God sent to punish the Israelites (Numbers 21:4–9). More here.

Taking the energy from living things

Sacrificing living things can give power to a god. In around 846 BCE, the Israelites and their allies were attacking Moab, destroying city after city as they closed in on the king. The king had one final, desperate ploy, and he sacrificed his son, the future king, to his god Chemosh. The result: “There was an outburst of divine anger against Israel, so they broke off the attack and returned to their homeland” (2 Kings 3:27, NET). More on God’s weaknesses here.

Another illustration of the mojo from a sacrifice are the dozens of references to the “pleasing aroma” of a burning sacrifice. These are identified as food offerings, and the energy was conveyed up to God through the smoke. Here, too, we see the extra value in human sacrifices. Sometimes God demanded just the firstborn of the livestock, but not always. In Exodus 22:29 we find, “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.” More on human sacrifice here.

Relics and charms

Can you say “acheiropoieta,” boys and girls? That’s a hard word! This is the category of icons made without hands—basically, icons that are not manmade artwork. The Shroud of Turin is probably the most famous one, but there are more. The Veil of Veronica is an image of the face of Jesus imprinted on a cloth when, according to legend, St. Veronica used it to wipe the sweat and blood off the face of Jesus while he was carrying his cross. The Image of Edessa (the Mandylion) is another example. You’ll be relieved to know that the International Institute for Research on the Face of Christ now exists to study these important icons.

Relics of any sort became increasingly important during the Middle Ages. The Second Council of Nicaea decreed in 787 that every church must have a relic—something physical from a saint or Jesus like a possession or a body part. Relics were already moneymakers since they brought pilgrims into town, and this decree increased the demand, both for real relics and fakes. It has been joked that there were enough pieces of the true cross to build an ark and enough nails from the crucifixion to hold it together.

The Roman Catholic Church says that the communion wafer and wine turn into the body and blood of Jesus, which makes them something of an icon.

As an aside, isn’t this reverence of sacred objects unseemly? The second commandment technically is against artwork (“You shall not make for yourself an image. . . . You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”), but this idolatry does seem like a violation.

Up next: curses, magic words, divination, and more.

Concluded in part 2.

For God so loved the world
he couldn’t be bothered to come up
with a decent argument.
— commenter MR

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Image from Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs
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  • epeeist

    To completely crib this post:

    Both Jesus and Vespasian healed the blind with spit, both Jesus and Pythagoras stilled a storm, both Jesus and Apollonius brought a girl to life at her funeral after saying she wasn’t really dead and whispering in her ear, both Jesus and Apollonius negotiated with a demon to get it to leave a man and go detectably into something else.

    If the actions of Vespasian, Pythagoras and Apollonius are magic then so must the actions of Jesus. If the actions of Jesus are not magic then neither are the actions of Vespasian, Pythagoras and Apollonius. If the claim is that they are different then the person making the claim needs to show how and why they are different.

    I also like the follow on paragraph:

    In the Wars, Josephus describes a man called Jesus who predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus was arrested by the Jewish authorities and handed over to the Roman procurator. He was scourged, and then the governor asked him who he was and what he was talking about. Then he dismissed Jesus as a madman. Jesus also predicted his own death, and when he died we are told he ‘gave up the ghost’.

    This was Jesus son of Ananus and the governor was Albinus.

    • Michael

      Jesus was the son of An anus?
      I thought it was Jesus son of Damneus. ; )

      • epeeist was talking about a different book of Josephus, I believe.

      • Michael Murray

        So God was an arsehole ? This is news ?

    • Both Jesus and the Oenotropae could change water into wine.

      Aside: I’m curious about the precedents for the 153 fish. (Bob Price had an amusing comment: “Yeah, you guys go hang with the risen son of God. I’ve just gotta count all these fish!”)

      153 = 1^3 + 5^3 + 3^3 might make it an interesting number for a Pythagorean.

      This was Jesus son of Ananus and the governor was Albinus.

      In Antiquities, Josephus talks about Jesus son of Damneus. (This is the second Jesus passage after the Testimonium Flavianum that Richard Carrier argues is about a not-the-Christ Jesus.) I’d not heard of your Jesus ben Ananus.

      https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/07/josephus-important-evidence-for-jesus/

      • epeeist

        In Antiquities, Josephus talks about Jesus son of Damneus.

        The guy who wrote the comment that I essentially plagiarised reads the literature of the time in Greek, hence his conversion from Greek to Roman characters may not be what we are used to. The person he is referring to seems to be Jesus ben Ananias.

  • Rusty Writer

    The bible is magical from beginning to end: Everything was perfect until a magical talking snake ruined everything. Godman came to save us all with his magical powers. We were left with the promise he would return from heaven someday on a magical flying horse… white, of course, since that is the color of good magic.

  • epicurus

    Maybe that’s why it took six days to create the universe – can you imagine how many magic words and incantations and turning around three times while chanting it would take to create everything in existence? Whew. No wonder God needed a rest on the 7th day.

  • carbonUnit

    Any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial intelligence is indistinguishable from God. – Michael Shermer
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clark

    Conclusion: God is advanced aliens.

    • Michael Murray

      Time traveller seems like another plausible option. More plausible than creator of the universe.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    The bible is full of all sorts of magic tricks. Elisha floats an axe head on the water. An ark repels opposing armies on the field. Saul and a medium hold a seance to revive the ghost of a prophet. And Moses and Elijah face off in separate magical duels against heathen adversaries, purely as a demonstration of their mojo.

    • Great examples. In my part 2, I may only have the Witch of Endor from your list.

      Only now that I’ve researched it a bit do I appreciate how many instances of magic the Bible has.

    • And Goliath gets killed twice-
      2 Samuel 21:19 GNT
      (Some translations insert the words: “the brother of” to avoid having this death conflict with the assault by the young sheepherd David. Then, you encounter how David gets introduced to King Saul twice. Some God-magic in that David character!)
      There was another battle with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan son of
      Jair from Bethlehem killed Goliath from Gath, whose spear had a shaft
      as thick as the bar on a weaver’s loom.

      • TheBookOfDavid

        Yeah, but both accounts are just different versions of the same story, like the gospels. It’s not as though Goliath revived after a battlefield decapitation, only to get killed a second time. Now that would have been magic.

        • You appear to have missed the concept that its a different protagonist in each account who’s delivered the killing strike?

          In so far that young sheepherd David gets an account written up where he can get the credit for the killing of Goliath – when its already on record that Elhanan performed that combat killing?

          Compare this scenario to the movie U-571 (2000) which portrays US submariners capturing an Enigma machine plus Code Book off German uboat U-571!

          https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/feb/25/u-571-reel-history
          U-571: You give historical films a bad name

          https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0141926/

          QUOTE
          The REAL story behind the films exploits is far more embarasing
          & not one that Hollywood is going to tell the great American public.

          The British cracked Enigma before the US even entered the War! Admiral
          Doenitz, suspicious that the UK had cracked the 3 code wheel Enigma
          (used by the German army), ordered a 4 wheel device & the British no
          longer were able to decode the U-Boat’s messages. Sinkings of convoy
          vessels went up as a result, until a Royal Navy officer had the bright
          idea of knocking over a German weather ship in the North Sea &
          pinching the Enigma (they couldn’t decode the messages from this ship so
          suspected, correctly, that it was a new, 4 wheel device). Code breaking
          recommenced & the U-Boats suffered such heavy losses that Doenitz
          eventually recalled them.

          In “Operation Drumbeat”, where the US,
          now in the war, had the shipping of it’s East coast targeted, the
          British supplied the US Navy with intercepts, giving the U-Boats
          locations, courses, speed & intended target areas. Also passed on
          were suggested tactics for dealing with the U-Boat threat, all learned
          the hard way & shown to be effective. The US East coast commander,
          Admiral King, IGNORED them!

          A bigoted Anglophobe, Admiral King refused to mount any anti submarine patrols & so condemed thousands of his own countrymen (the people he was supposed to PROTECT) to
          death. So many ships were sunk the U-Boat commanders called it “The New Happy
          Times”.
          UN-QUOTE

  • igotbanned999

    This is actually a more complicated issue than many people give it credit for. Of course for those of us who don’t believe in such supernatural things, there’s no difference. But in a context where you believe them to be real, the difference is important. Perhaps fantasy fiction is the best analogy to understand it. In Marvel Comics, for example, Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer both have such a wide variety of powers that they can do basically anything. But what Strange does is explicitly magic, whereas what the Surfer does comes from the ‘Power Cosmic’. Even though in many cases they might have the exact same effect and result, it is reinforced in-universe that they are not the same thing, and if any character confuses them, other characters will be quick to correct them.

    • I’m only vaguely familiar with these two characters. Don’t they both say that the tricks were ultimately done because of their tapping into some supernatural force? I’m unclear on the differences.

      • Grimlock

        I think that point is that the difference is that there’s a difference.

        Or rather, in the context of the in-universe narrative, the two phenomena is distinct. Semantics, basically.

        • Zeropoint

          There’s no point in having separate names for the two powers unless they’re materially different somehow. I mean that both in the comic book case and the “real world” case.

          For instance, the MCU version of Dr. Strange uses a magic explicitly defined as drawing energy from other planes of existence. As a consequence of this nature,
          [SPOILER ALERT]

          at one point, Strange is astrally projecting, and is able to draw on the energy of a defibrillator pulse applied to his body back on the material plane. I would guess that the Power Cosmic is connected to our cosmos in some way, and would simply leave the Silver Surfer high and dry on the astral plane.

          So, if Christians are going to insist that their god’s power is not magic, then it’s on them to either tell us HOW “magic” and “god’s power” differ in effect, or just admit that “well, we just don’t call it magic when god does it.”

    • eric

      It’s a somewhat good analogy; in both comics and the bible, the distinction is referred to but a meaningful explanation is handwaved away. When explanation is given, it’s techno- or theological- babble. Of course, comic fanboys don’t have a 1,000 year history of trying to execute people for blasphemy…

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Different entrances to the same supernatural warehouse…

  • skl

    You can call it “magic”. It’s just that for all other forms of magic, there’s at
    least one human (i.e. the magician on stage) who knows how the trick is done.

    • Doubting Thomas

      Nope. No one knows how all the magic in Harry Potter was actually done.

    • Which doesn’t really apply to Bible stories. When I’m in the audience of a stage magician, all of us can be sure that the illusion actually happened. For Bible stories, we have to get past the story part first. Once it’s history, then we can worry about whether it was a trick or not.

    • Otto

      So we are in agreement than, it’s magic.

    • Sophotroph

      Well, also, for those human magics, the tricks have actually been accomplished. That’s a pretty big distinction.

  • Lex Lata

    Let’s not forget exorcism–incantations, solemn gestures, blessed objects, holy water, etc. Of course God could always simply eject an offending demon easy-peasy, but for some reason he demands the logistical complexity and spectacle of a Vegas magic act.

    • Revelation makes clear that the end-of-times battle will be the most lopsided battle ever. Yahweh will kick Satan’s scrawny ass all over the place and then put him in the fiery pit forever.

      So why the delay? Why doesn’t God clear away these demonic forces right now?

      • Otto

        You can’t play ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ without a Bad Cop.

        • Len

          “Omnipotent Cop” doesn’t really have that same ring.

      • Damien Priestly

        Maybe God is afraid of a grudge match with Satan! Old Yahweh may be rusty after a few thousand years while Satan is working hard tempting us sinners…always fit and ready, that Dark Lord !!

      • Grimlock

        Have you read “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman? If not, you should. It’s about the end of times. It’s also hilarious.

        Or you could just wait for the upcoming TV show. Either works.

        • Thanks for the suggestion.

        • I’ve not read the book, but I did like this quote from it enough to use in at the bottom of one of my posts:

          God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players,* to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
          * i.e., everybody.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Yep, that’s DEFINITELY Sir pTerry’s (may he rest in peace) writing.

        • TheNuszAbides

          it was the first thing i read by either of them, around ’93 i think. love it.

      • epicurus

        To make it more absurd, Satan gets thrown in the pit so he’s out of commission for a while, then gets let out again to cause more havoc. Reminds me of Dr.Evil’s kid telling him to just kill Austin Powers now that he has him, but Evil says no I have to leave him in an easily escapable situation while I leave and assume everything goes to plan.

        https://youtu.be/Gb428ySuFjA

      • Kuno

        And why should Satan follow the plot? Do they think in all that time he never got the idea to skip to the end of the book?

        • Unless that version of the script was intentionally leaked with the wrong ending, and the actors will get their lines on set.

      • TheNuszAbides

        first, a random (i.e. deeply significant) number of human souls must be tested in the Faith And/Or Works And/Or Something Else Challenge! scripture is [deliberately?] unclear on how the final tallies will be conducted or what ties or runners-up receive as their just deserts.

        • David Cromie

          Dead is dead, so there is no ‘hereafter’ to experience, i.e. no supposed ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’, and no ‘reincarnation’ either. No ‘holy’ book has ever proved otherwise.

    • You can’t put on a good psycho-drama without props, man!

  • Michael Neville

    It has been joked that there were enough pieces of the true cross to build an ark and enough nails from the crucifixion to hold it together.

    Just like Jesus had nine penises because in medieval times nine separate churches in Europe and the Middle East had the sacred foreskin snipped off at Jesus’ circumcision.

    • I heard it was 18, not 9.

      2000-year-old foreskin is in my top ten list of disgusting things. And that’s to be venerated?

      • Michael Neville

        The number is immaterial as long as it’s more than one.

        • Michael Murray

          What ? More than one is wrong ? Hang-on I’ve just got to go and check something in the bathroom …

        • Michael! Look at you with the right number of penises!

      • Len

        Maybe Jesus was a Cylon.

        • TheNuszAbides

          i don’t reckon i’d venerate a Cylon foreskin either.

        • Len

          Shiny

      • Michael Murray
        • Sample1

          I know I should be open minded. I know I shouldn’t care. I know it’s really no big deal. I know what I’m going to say isn’t civilized. But when the image of that guy appeared at the top of the article I instantly felt like the evolutionary aversions to spiders, feces and heights all merged into a singularly new disgust response.

          Thanks? Haha.

          Mike

    • Greg G.

      Just like Jesus had nine penises because in medieval times nine separate churches in Europe and the Middle East had the sacred foreskin snipped off at Jesus’ circumcision.

      If he had ten, then his underwear would fit him like a pair of gloves.

  • Miranda

    This is an important distinction and you’re right to point out that many miracles look like ‘magic’.

    As a Christian I would suggest that it needs to be looked at another way – All such powers we regard as supernatural are really just accessing God infinite power – even ‘magic’ performed by demons (other religions etc.) is ultimately through Satan accessing Gods power. Its not magic or super natural rather entirely supremely natural as God is the essence source and bedrock of all creation and nature itself.

    Where a Prophet of God uses this power it is termed ‘miracle’ as it defies the ‘normal’ rules we are used to but is in the grander scheme just Gods will in action.

    People trying to harness this power against Gods will create systems such as you list here “magic words and curses, talismans and charms, prophecies, life force, potions, divination, numerology, and more” ,and sometimes Satan can facilitate these otherwise meaningless rituals with his power (which again is derived from God). So Gods power comes first and is all pervasive, people’s attempts to access it in strange ways that give rise to magical rituals comes second.

    Now before anyone asks ‘why does God allow Satan to retain power’…which is a fair question – unfortunately I don’t have nor pretended to have all the answers even – Job never got a clear answer to that question so I don’t have it either, but ultimately the Enemy can’t do anything to you unless you go looking for him and give him power over you willingly. Anyway just my 2 cents on this issue.

    • Doubting Thomas

      Your answer is both indistinguishable from fan fiction and only makes your god look horrible.

    • Susan

      All such powers we regard as supernatural are really just accessing God infinite power – even ‘magic’ performed by demons (other religions etc.) is ultimately through Satan accessing Gods power. Its not magic or super natural rather entirely supremely natural as God is the essence source and bedrock of all creation and nature itself.

      Because your superstition is “true”. Even though it looks like all the other superstitions that you ascribe to Satan (which is just part of your superstitious claim) but your deity is special.

      Why? How do you distinguish your superstitious model from the other ones?

      Now before anyone asks ‘why does God allow Satan to retain power’…which is a fair question – unfortunately I don’t have nor pretended to have all the answers even

      It doesn’t make sense. If you can’t make sense of it, why do you believe it?

      Do you have evidence for your deity that is special?

    • Damien Priestly

      Your “2 cents”…makes actually “No sense” !!

      You are kidding, right? God and Satan tag-teamed Job? God’s infinite power is not magic? That is counter-intuitive…Infinite power includes magic or it is not infinite. Or maybe infinite power is magic…either way your description can’t make any sense…it is a tautology.

      Once again, we ask a Christian..Is there some demonstrating this infinite power or evidence for it?…that would overcome more reasonable natural explanations of our existence?

    • If God had infinite power, why did he have to send scouts to Sodom to check out the rumors he had heard? Wouldn’t he just know?

      And why was he furious at humanity so that he destroyed them with a flood? Wouldn’t he have seen this coming? And if he had, the flood was part of the plan. But what kind of plan is it that has so much torment?

      Why did an all-good God create hell–infinite punishment for finite crimes?

      • Miranda

        I’m not a literalist but what you might term a progressive Christian, I consider the bible a spiritual guide, these events are more in the realm of proverbs and parables than actual events, do I think the world was flooded all over, no, Sodom and Gomorrah are more about treating guests properly and Lot was a pretty crummy father. Job is a serious exploration about the role of God in the world that leaves a big question unanswered and implies we won’t get an answer, and Satan yes is given permission to act against Job –

        I don’t think God is all good in some omnibenevolent way, one look at how he treats his chosen people gives that away, even in the form of Jesus God was hardly meek and mild all the time, but I believe he is the God we have and we wrestle with that – that is after all what the very name Israel means and we can find understanding and goodness in the bible amongst a whole lot of other anachronistic misogynist junk – these are the words of Men (and pretty much only men) engaged in their own wrestle with God. now not all Christians think that way but hey there are some 30 or 40,000 denominations who disagree on tons of other stuff.

        Re your article I think just because something looks like a ritual or magic trick other societies used doesn’t mean there wasn’t an instance where it did actually work under Gods power and people tried to copy it later – obviously didn’t work and hence got this rap as being all just made up.

        • You seem to have a realistic approach to Christianity’s claims. Why not just drop it then? Perhaps you just enjoy the tradition and community?

        • Miranda

          Why it gives us all something to talk about!

          Community/Tradition are important – but so are my experiences of spirituality – now no doubt one can chalk them up to various states of psychological arousal, but there is a thread of this happening across cultures and history that make me believe there is something more behind it – not to the letter of what any one book says but to a spirit behind it all. So I believe these miracles or magic events happened – maybe not as directly quoted but some truth behind the legend like Moses probably didn’t lead 6 million Jews out…but maybe a small group fled a particularly onerous land lord or were ex Aten worshippers – got lost and had an experience no one could explain in the desert, a voice talking to the whole tribe. The Apostles experienced something very profound after Jesus cruxification, even Muhammad had some kind of drastic experience. It may be utter whimsy but I feel like it’s all joined and connected up, not as a grand plan perhaps, but as a linked thread drawn by a God we all struggle to deal with.

          To give it up is to in essence give up that struggle and stop asking why (not ‘why’ in a mechanical sense obviously science rolls on but why in a moral and spiritual sense).

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          You are coming at this from an interesting perspective, but some thoughts on your last point,

          you seem to suggest that with out a belief in god you cannot ask why questions about morality, given my abject lack of such a belief, and my deep interest in asking exactly those types of questions i am not sure i agree with that, indeed it sounds painfully close to the ‘you can’t be good without god’ nonsense that so annoys many non theists.

          as to spiritual questions, i think you have the old dancing on pinheads problem, you can spend a vast amount of time arguing about angels and pin heads but without establishing the existence of angels all you are doing is building a castle on sand. i guess what i am saying is, what is a spiritual question and why does it require god belief to ask it / answer it?

        • Doubting Thomas

          “– but so are my experiences of spirituality – now no doubt one can chalk them up to various states of psychological arousal, but there is a thread of this happening across cultures and history that make me believe there is something more behind it”

          There is a thread that connects all these things. That thread, as you have already noted, is human psychology.

          People seem to enjoy the thought of God. People like having a ready-made answer when they don’t actually know. People, like yourself, still want to believe despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

          The common thread isn’t God. It’s God-belief.

        • Sample1

          When you have a type of explanation that can be repositioned favorably when any problem pops up, then you can indeed wrestle forever.

          What you seem to have is a meta belief: the reward is the struggle itself rather than knowing if the underlying explanation is true. Interesting.

          When one has a good explanation, the ability to maintain it decreases when problems mount up. We call explanations good when alternative theories explain less or have more problems.

          All of us experience the latter but for various reasons the former only finds acceptance in religion, medical quackery, conspiracy theories, etc.

          Your wrestling is your business. Wrestling for good explanations, however, is tiring enough for me!

          Mike

        • TheNuszAbides

          What you seem to have is a meta belief: the reward is the struggle itself rather than knowing if the underlying explanation is true. Interesting.

          excellent insight. Miranda is definitely more interesting (and civilized) than most of the latest (er … couple months ago …) theist participants.

      • Sample1

        Flood. I think of the rainbow as a kind of apology. “My bad”-God. I’m not sure God officially apologizes though.

        Which makes me wonder why the rainbow was chosen. Rarish desert phenomenon? One can’t have God apologizing everyday in a rainforest environment, his people would be like, enough already! Or what did you do now?

        I don’t recall the book or article but how religions evolve is conjectured to be topology/environment driven. As is language but that’s a different subject.

        Mike
        Edit done

    • The book of Job makes clear that Satan is on God’s team. Read the first chapter and see.

    • Michael Neville

      You know what’s weirder than having an imaginary friend? Having an imaginary enemy.

      First you have to show evidence that any gods exist, then you have to show evidence that from the existing gods your favorite god exists, and then you have to produce evidence that Satan also exists. You’ve got several hoops to jump through before we can discuss what powers your imaginary god allows your imaginary enemy to retain.

    • Grimlock

      Thanks for explaining your point of view.

      As a Christian I would suggest that it needs to be looked at another way – All such powers we regard as supernatural are really just accessing God infinite power – even ‘magic’ performed by demons (other religions etc.) is ultimately through Satan accessing Gods power. Its not magic or super natural rather entirely supremely natural as God is the essence source and bedrock of all creation and nature itself.

      If I understand you correctly, you think that miracles ain’t magic because the ultimate or final source of the power is God.

      I don’t think that distinction works. My argument is as follows:
      1) The meaning of words are determined by the usage.
      2) Supernatural events, even if considered to be due the power of some ultimate or foundational source, is often referred to as “magic”.
      3) [Conclusion] The alleged ultimate source is not sufficient to not consider miracles to be magic.

      I believe that (1) is rather uncontroversial. To justify (2), consider fantasy novels. Plenty of magic, yet they often have, or are believed to have, some ultimate source. Still typically referred to as magic.

      Note that I think an event can both be considered a miracle and magic. I don’t see these terms as being contradictory.

      So I don’t think your reason provides a reason to not refer to miracles as “magic”. What do you think?

      • Miranda

        That’s a good point, you can call such events whatever you like, magic sorcery whatever, but that doesn’t mean they are not possible and can just be written off – if you believe as I do God can act in the world freely then these things are natural and perfectly possible whatever term you use for them.

        Also words do have power, how we label and frame things matter in terms of how people think about it, if you call something ‘magic’ or even ‘miracle’ people won’t take it seriously, but if you say it’s a natural exposition of a higher power you get more traction and less instant dismissal – its that different way of looking at it I’m trying to encourage and should’ve been clearer.

        My understanding of the article was it was dismissing such events people term magic and miracles in the Bible outright because other societies did the same things to no effect – and sure 99% of attempts at magic or whatever you call it fail, but perhaps these rituals were based on something that actually did actually work at some point in time under Gods power and people tried to replicate it.

        • Otto

          >>>”My understanding of the article was it was dismissing such events people term magic and miracles in the Bible outright because other societies did the same things to no effect…”

          I disagree that was the point…

          >>>”…how we label and frame things matter in terms of how people think about it…”

          That was the point.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          but perhaps these rituals were based on something that actually did actually work at some point in time under Gods power and people tried to replicate it.

          Show me a ‘god’ before claiming that, plz.

        • Miranda

          The way God seems to work is only showing Her direct power through ambivalent actions such as those miracles/magic events or whatever you wish to call them – it can’t be denied some weird stuff has happened in history and in the present day, and across all cultures there is a desire to find a deeper meaning, and accounts of spiritual experiences that is where to look for God for a start – just consider maybe there is something behind all of it.

        • Otto
        • MR

          it can’t be denied some weird stuff has happened in history

          Actually, all we can say is that people believed weird stuff happened in history. People believe weird stuff nobody else believes even in this day and age when such claims could actually be recorded, yet aren’t. If I don’t believe my neighbor’s outrageous claims of aliens building the pyramids or ghosts in the attic, why believe even more outrageous claims and unevidenced claims from a superstitious lot who didn’t have half the understanding of the universe that we today now have? Why are we even reaching back into history? If God or aliens or ghosts exists now, today, in this day and age, show me. Your line of thinking just opens the door to gullibility and superstition. How do you protect yourself from deceit, whether intended or unintended?

        • Grimlock

          I agree with much of what you write. Specifically, I agree that
          1) simply naming something magic does not in and of itself justify a phenomena’s existence [or lack thereof], and
          2) words have power, at least in the sense of how we use words impact how compelling we can argue for our case. [Or how plausible it might seem.]

          We might differ on some other points. I’m not sure if can accurately describe your position, so if you don’t mind, I’ll make some observations, and you can see if you agree or not.

          (I) Using words to describe a phenomena in order to increase or decrease how plausible or acceptable it seems is, in and of itself, a morally neutral act. It can be done as part of a good thing (normalize homosexuality) or a bad thing (normalize racism).

          It can also be done to make something appear more plausible. For instance, all sorts of quackery likes to use pseudo-scientific phrases to make itself seem more plausible. Likewise, in order to explain evolutionary theory to creationists, one has to be careful with one’s phrasing. In the former case, the terminology is used to give a false sense of plausibility. In the latter, it’s used to communicate and come close to the actual plausibility.

          I find that referring miracles and such as a “natural exposition of a higher power” or some such is a case of trying to create a false sense of plausibility. I suspect that you disagree?

          (II) Consider the case of claims of alien abduction. Many of these are patently false. None have been confirmed. This doesn’t strictly speaking disprove all claims of alien abduction. But it does reduce their plausibility, and should impact how much credibility we give to those claiming to be such an abductee.

          Similarly, claims of supernatural phenomena have frequently been debunked. None have been confirmed. As such, the fact that 99 % of magical rituals fail (as you put it), should really make us highly skeptical of other magical clams.

          I could phrase this in more formal, Bayesian terms, but I think this gets the point across reasonably well.

          ETA: Minor clarifications in [brackets].

    • Otto

      >>>”unfortunately I don’t have nor pretended to have all the answers…”

      It is funny how you have very specific information about how and why ‘God’s power’ is used and not used, but then when your logic hits a brick wall you don’t question the steps it took to reach your illogical conclusion, you just hand wave the problem away. The reason your logic breaks down is not that you are pretending to “have all the answers”, it is that the answers you do provide don’t make any sense even within your worldview.

      All you have done is proven again what I already experienced when I was in Christianity, the Christian worldview is internally inconsistent with itself.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      I’d like a demonstration that anything supernatural *exists* before we start rearranging deck chairs on the Battlestar Galactica…

  • Grimlock

    Why Not Call What God Does “Magic”?

    Because it doesn’t sound sufficiently dignified. It has associations to superstitious nonsense. And Christianity is surely not superstitious nonsense.

    • Did you keep your fingers crossed while typing that – or were you just being tongue-in-cheek?

      • Grimlock

        Definitely the latter.

  • The distinction traditionally seems to be that miracles are things done by God or someone he gives that power, whereas magic has come from Satan or demons. Not very convincing to nonbelievers.

  • Kevin K

    Can’t imagine how that bronze snake wouldn’t be considered a graven image…but whatever.

    • Ah, but had the 10 Commandments been given at this point?

      Gotcha!

      • Kevin K

        Ah, but the 10 Cs say don’t kill people, but the first thing Moses did when he saw the Golden Calf was to slaughter thousands!

        Maybe he didn’t have it translated yet.

        • Michael Neville

          Moses didn’t kill those people, he was smiting them. Yahweh is fine with smiting, he used to do it all the time

          And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. Ex 3:20 KJV

          For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. Ex 12:12-13 KJV

          I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. Num 14:12 KJV

          Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them Num 22:6 KJV

          Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deu 13:12 KJV

          And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: Deu 20:13 KJV

          And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand. Jos 10:19 KJV

        • The OT is chock full of Smiting. But when not engaged in Smiting you come across the Begating.
          The first concept is crocked in pure horror, while the second one (all those lists) simply causes boredom.

        • David Cromie

          ‘begatting’

        • There you go. Its simply procreation. You even ended up with another “t” because you failed to observe ‘Safe Sex’ rules.

        • Ficino

          Isn’t that how they identified the Higgs-Boson particle? It was very angry and ranting about smiting the Amalekites.

        • epicurus

          Maybe he used the septuagint version! (kidding I know it wasn’t around yet)

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Easy…the snake was a casting, not engraved!

      😉

      • Kevin K

        Whenever I visited a Jewish synagogue (are there any other kinds?), I always had this feeling of something being ever-so-slightly “off”. And I finally figured out that it’s the complete and utter lack of the representation of anything “earthly”. The decorations are all pretty much geometric shapes.

        Go from that to a Russian Orthodox church … wow, the iconography.

        • TheNuszAbides

          comparable puritanism in Islamic decor/art (though it also predates Islam):

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

          a Jewish synagogue (are there any other kinds?)

          i was just thinking the other day that the word ‘synagogue’ seems appended/sequestered/appropriated like ‘exegesis’ and ‘hermeneutics’.

      • Some references are to “molten gods,” which I presume means cast from liquid metal. (But I’m just splitting hairs here.)

    • Jim Jones

      Maybe Glycon doesn’t have that rule?

  • RichardSRussell

    It’s not like calling your cat “Cat” since “Yahweh” has power.

    I once heard of a family whose dog was named Diogi and whose cat was Ciati. Most outsiders thot they were Italian names but, no, they were simply spelled-out versions of d-o-g and c-a-t.

    That said, I’ll bet everyone reading this blog has been in the uncomfortable position, at one time or another, of listening to somebody else speak knowledgeably about something, and you didn’t understand one or more of the words they were using. It was natural to assume that anyone who knew the actual names of things was smarter than you (at least on that subject) and you’d be wise to keep your trap shut. This is probably the technique that ancient shamans used to gain influence over the dumber (or at least less self-assured) members of their tribes. And thus was born the concept of tenure, which has come down to us even today.

  • David B. Appleton

    Then there’s the old Arabic saw: “Why are there no more cedars in Lebanon? Because every Frank in Christendom has a piece of the True Cross.”

    • Jim Jones

      For giggles:

      Holy Prepuce – Wikipedia

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

      The Holy Prepuce, or Holy Foreskin is one of several relics attributed to Jesus, a product of the circumcision of Jesus. At various points in history, a number of churches in Europe have claimed to possess Jesus’ foreskin, sometimes at the same time. Various miraculous powers have been ascribed to it.

      • Sample1

        Sequence the genome through trinity&me.

        • The only possible sex chromosomes are X. Therefore, Jesus was a girl.

      • Greg G.

        In theory, one could rub a Holy Prepuce and cut in half ad infinitum. Every church in every shopping center could have one.

        • TheNuszAbides

          finally, an explanation for the Holy Wingsuit!

  • HFR

    No not magic. Look up the word “Superstition” in a dictionary.
    Irrational fear of the unknown or mysterious; Misdirected reverence of religion or practice or particular opinion based on such tendencies; Widely held but unjustified idea of the effects of nature of a thing.
    People do not have a belief or a faith in religion, they have a belief or faith in the supernatural, religion is superstition, an addiction to the superstitious.
    There is the real natural world. Anything to do with the supernatural and “religion”is no more than an addiction to superstition.

  • Michael Neville

    Completely OT: I went to the base package store today and got The Deveron 18 Year Old Single Malt. While the whisky is a Christmas present I had to try it.

    Nose: Hints of creamy vanilla and light smoke. Toffee and cocoa fudge with pepper and apples are also present. Light but strong enough to keep me interested.

    Palate: Tobacco and dry leather, wood and cinnamon spices with pears and toffee. It’s a very creamy whisky and has a nice light smokey flavour as well.

    Finish: Short dry finish with pepper and apples. The finish is the only disappointing part of the dram.

    All in all, worth the $103 I spent on it.

    • Doubting Thomas

      It better be good for that price.

      I tried to get into nicer liquors like good whiskey or bourbon, but even the good ones just taste too boozy to me. So instead I became a beer snob. It suits me.

    • epeeist

      Completely OT: I went to the base package store today and got The Deveron 18 Year Old Single Malt. While the whisky is a Christmas
      present I had to try it.

      A Christmas present to you from you?

      If you are happy to pay that sort of price can I recommend Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Meant to be drunk in small quantities, note the proof.

      • Michael Neville

        Of course this isn’t a present from me to me. It’s a present from Santa Claus to me, although since it’s Santa’s busy season, I had to do the actual shopping. I don’t generally spend that much money on whisky but I thought I’d indulge myself for once.

        Unfortunately the Navy Exchange doesn’t carry Ardbeg whiskies. I shop there for alcoholic beverages because I don’t have to pay the state liquor tax, which runs about 25% of the cost. Being retired from the Navy means I can still shop at military exchanges and Naval Submarine Base New London (which is actually across the Thames River in Groton) is about five miles from my house.

        • epicurus

          “We joined the Navy, to see the world, but what did we see, we saw the sea.”

        • Michael Neville

          In submarines we didn’t even see much of the sea.

          We circled the Med. for a summer or two,
          Where the sun is so warm and the water so blue.
          Well, that’s what they tell me, but I wouldn’t know,
          ‘Cause the view ain’t so good when you’re stuck down below.
          –Cyril Tawney “Diesel and Shale”
          (Tawney was a Royal Navy sailor who spent several years in submarines)

        • epeeist

          Personally, The Grey Funnel Line is one of my favourites from Cyril Tawney.

          Long years ago I had the good fortune to meet this guy who is from the same part of the country as Tawney.

        • Michael Neville

          For years I’ve been a fan of Tawney’s songs. The Grey Funnel Line is one of his best and, as someone who spent years at sea, a song I can relate to.

        • Sample1

          I took someone (who had served on a sub) out in my skiff one time. This was a small 18 footer at the time and he sat himself right in the narrow bow on top of the anchor well. It was choppy that day but he just sat there with his face getting some spray.

          I ended up cutting the trip short because of wind/seas growing and we was like, no this is great!

          Now I get it. He never saw the water. Haha.

          Mike

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “The Ten Commandments prohibited misusing the name of God”

    In fact, the Ten Commandments does no such thing.

    There are 613 commandments in the old testament. There is a group of them that the Bible calls the “ten commandments”. There is a commandment that prohibited misusing the name of God, but that commandment is NOT one of the ten that the Bible calls the “ten commandments”.

    According to the Bible, THESE are the ten commandments:

    starting at Exodus 34:14….

    1 Thou shalt worship no other god.
    2 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
    3 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.
    4 Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day rest.
    5 Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks.
    6 Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord God.
    7 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.
    8 Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left until the morning.
    9 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
    10 Thou shalt not seeth a kid in his mother’s milk.

    Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    This is the first time in the Bible that the term “the ten commandments” appears. The Bible does NOT call the commandments from Exodus 20 the ten commandments.

    • Yup.

    • David Cromie

      I wonder who added; ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy god in vain’, and what does that actually mean?

      • When God says, “You got me off the couch for that??” I think that would be an example.

      • I think it’s a prohibition against swearing false oaths.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and once we stopped doing much of that because (a) upswing in secular values and (b) more and more of us could read and write contracts, “in vain” became mainly “outside of prayer or bible/church context”.

  • Snagglefritz Sagenschnitter

    OK, you have to believe all sorts of bullshit in order to stay in the Christian religion – but the good news is that if you pay lip service to all the miracles then you finish up with a guaranteed free trip to heaven when you die. Who’d be silly enough to pass-up an opportunity like that?

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      /s

    • TheNuszAbides

      it’s depressing merely to wonder what percentage of participants in organized-religious shenanigans is this opportunistic and lacking in integrity.

  • Gods are like Jinn (Djinn) – powerful magic without recourse to magic wands.

    You see some of that when Sam Winchester (with his drops of demon blood) casts out a demon with outstretched hand. Of course in Sam’s case, there are consequences with his “bleeding at his nose”, and the strong disapproval of Castiel (Supernatural Season Four).

    • Grimlock

      Dammit man, this is why people use spoiler tags! Some of us ain’t quite caught up on Supernatural yet.

      • The fourth season — premiered September 18, 2008, and concluded on May 14, 2009 on the CW Television Network.

        That’s a 9-10 year lag on your part . . . this is not really just a case of running up the street after the bus; is it? LOL

        Truth to tell, on-and-off I followed ‘Supernat.’ myself during its on-air broadcasting in Oz but lost contact somewhere along the way. Currently Season 14 is airing on Network 10, but I’ve been taking in the show through streaming on Stan, and am currently up to half-way through Season Four.

        Now don’t get me started on ‘Doctor Who’. I caught the very first episode (William Hartnell – B&W) in the early sixties while in New Zealand, and followed on when back in Australia. The current air-time slot on the ABC Network (like BBC in the UK) is somewhat unfortunate so I’ve been following along with CatchUp TV. Having access to such media with a broadband connection is just so convenient!
        https://www.stan.com.au/?gclid=CjwKCAiA9efgBRAYEiwAUT-jtLxvFwvFwMo-lIgLxFqMmAU5P66mCgAK0wYea0xit6frnmIR1_BgUhoCfUIQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
        https://www.catchup-tv.com.au/

        • Kuno

          Damn, they are on season 14 now? I took a break at season 10. Time to catch up, I guess.

        • Wait till we get to Season 24 or Season 32. Will Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki end up with Wheelie-Walkers (you may know these as Rollators)?
          Doctor Who has a big advantage with having a different actor every now and again – there was a long period when the actors ‘seemed’ to be younger with each change of player.

        • Grimlock

          I am actually somewhere early in season 4, though I haven’t watched it in a while. It’s a hassle to get here, and it’s only on one of the streaming services that I don’t have right now.

          What do you think of the latest season of DW? I like it better than the last couple of seasons.

        • Back in the 20th Century Jon Pertwee was one of my favorite actors in the role although I thought it a bit lame to save on the budget by keeping the Doctor Earthbound through having him “work” for UNIT.

          With the 21st Century “revival” my preferences were directed mainly towards role actors Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant; with Billie Piper playing Rose Tyler as a recurring companion. Other companions who I well regarded were Catherine Tate (Donna Noble) with her exceptional range from comedy to pathos, with Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald) and John Barrowman (Capt Jack Harkness) both being highly entertaining.

          Cannot say that I really appreciated Peter Capaldi in the role of The Doctor, and I have to admit that current player Jodie Whittaker does not fully “gell” in the role for me. Due to the subservient roles that women played in history largely prior to mid-20th Century (and shockingly-so before the 20th Century)- I’m of the opinion that a female Doctor encounters manifestly more challenges in social contact in this regard, and this was borne out in Season 11 Ep08 “The Witchfinders” with interaction with King James I (played by Alan Cumming). This can irritate like the Politically Correct (but non-historical) placing of dark skinned characters in stories set in medieval England, or like the number of times Rose tried to get Queen Victoria say. “We are not amused – with a too familiar attitude to a reigning English monarch (see linked image).

          Imagine if a future James Bond movie would have an African-American Woman playing the role of Ian Fleming’s long-life spy?

          https://inkashlings.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/tooth-and-claw.jpg

  • Jim Jones

    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

    • sandy

      That’s a rhetorical question, of course, for us atheists. When is the last time you asked a christian that question? My guess is… but Jesus is the real deal. Read the bible it’s all there. So that’s what you/we are up against. What’s the best counter argument?

      • Jim Jones

        “If Jesus was born in Bethlehem around 1 CE, how’d that happen since Bethlehem didn’t exist then? And if he spoke Aramaic, how come all the gospels were written in Greek, by Greeks, around 350 CE and by people who didn’t know much about Jews?”

        Not that it will help. They’ll just BS it all away.

        Still, it’s worth some time on http://pocm.info/

        • Greg G.

          And if he spoke Aramaic, how come all the gospels were written in Greek, by Greeks

          In Acts 26:14, Paul is in Agrippa’s court giving the third account of the event on the Road to Damascus, written in Greek but most likely would have had to have been spoken in Aramaic where he quotes Jesus speaking Hebrew who is quoting the Greek god, Dionysus, from the Greek play The Bacchae by Euripides, apparently the way we unknowingly quote Shakespeare.

        • Jim Jones

          > most likely would have had to have been spoken in Aramaic where he quotes Jesus speaking Hebrew who is quoting the Greek god, Dionysus

          Except we don’t have any Aramaic. It’s like the sermons on the mount/plains: we get a summary, not the whole speech.

          It’s more proof that Jesus is a myth.

        • Greg G.

          Except we don’t have any Aramaic.

          One of the criteria for authenticity of NT phrases is a whiff of Aramaic. Because Jesus was the only Aramaic-speaking person who could have made it up… or something like that. If you translate a Greek phrase into Aramaic and it sounds like word-play, then it is more likely Jesus said it in a circular sort of way.

        • Jim Jones

          Or: These phrases were written by a Greek who had some familiarity with Aramaic.

          I could create a passable version of Chinglish I expect. And a moderately good version of Indian-English a la Apu Nahasapeemapetilon.

        • Greg G.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if there were various books in Aramaic that were translated to Greek and carried back to Rome as loot or to Alexadria and Casarea.

        • David Cromie

          Whatever the language used, there is no evidence, whether written or archaeological, that any man-god named JC ever existed.

        • Greg G.

          Whatever the language used, there is no evidence, whether written or archaeological, that any man-god named JC ever existed.

          I go further than that. I argue that the written evidence shows that Jesus was completely invented. Gospel Jesus is based on Epistle Jesus which is based on misreadings of the Old Testament.

  • David Cromie

    If anyone could prove that any ‘god’ exists, then all actions ascribed to it would be magic.

  • “There was an outburst of divine anger against Israel, so they broke off
    the attack and returned to their homeland” (2 Kings 3:27, NET).”

    I’ve long been aware that gods besides Yahweh were treated as being real in the OT, but wow, this one’s obvious! I’ve heard people in Bible class wonder why the sacrifice made Yahweh mad as his own people and at the time I was confused, too. Now it’s so clear!

  • Kodie

    I don’t know if this will be a short or long story about my 1st World problems of the last 7 months, and not sure how long I can stay, but I feel so good to talk to you, and read your comments and be myself. I will try the short version because it’s boring, but I got sick of paying too much money every month to get internet from a major provider with all kinds of fees and taxes and requirements to pay for services I do not use, and few other choices underground in my neighborhood, and switched to the open network provided for a much smaller fee (less than half) by my apartment building. I was paranoid over the agreement and that everything I say might get back to my landlord, including being an atheist, and one of the terms was not to be vulgar. I can’t. Anyway, the service can get really slow and there’s nothing I can do when it is, because it’s locked inside a cage in the laundry room, and I complained while drunk and the owner of the thingie got all arrogant and wouldn’t improve the service and thought I was a douche because I was. Proof that being in person doesn’t necessarily change how I address someone. At one point, he complained to me how much bandwidth I had used on a particular day on things that weren’t working at home, and I felt like he was spying on my habits for sure. I was dying to make contact, but I just couldn’t risk it. A new airborne internet company will be here soon and I will try that, and it has no rules against vulgarity, and is not a public network. In the meantime, I got a freakin’ hotspot from the library for free! Also no rules, but it won’t work after 3 weeks, and I can’t renew, but I can put a hold and get on the list for another one when I get close. Yeah, that was kind of long, but I felt bad leaving like I wanted to take a break. I had to take a break, and I’ve been doing shitty substitutes in the meantime like commenting on facebook and games and tv shows to get by.

    Heeeeey.

    • Greg G.

      Hellooo, Kodie! It was great to see your name pop up in the Recent Comments!

    • MR

      Kodieeee!!!! We miss you!

    • Periodically, my wife and I revisit the outlandish bill we get every month from Comcast. My wife is good at complaining and often gets freebies or introductory offers. But I can sympathize with internet being super expensive. Maybe it’ll soon be like water and electricity–just a commodity that is everywhere you need it.

      Good luck staying online cheaply!

      • Kodie

        Verizon was not giving out any more deals, and it was like, 70 dollars a month for internet and forced payment for land line and FCC taxes and fees, and can’t even upgrade to fios. Xfinity is offering $80 for cable, phone and internet, and don’t know what other fees are added to that, plus I am pretty sure they’re in cahoots now. I am carried on another’s phone plan, and I never care about cable, but that’s a way better deal for the money. The only other option in my neighborhood was in my building, some nasty guy who doesn’t want my business offers $29 a month in my building, but it’s an open network my phone doesn’t even seem to be connected, and toward the end of the last month was not even just slow, but terrible. I complained about it enough, for good reason, probably about June or so, but the guy doesn’t cater to customers, and isn’t very friendly as a customer service agent. It’s like, you don’t like it, maybe it’s not for you. If there’s a problem, it’s my fault, he doesn’t care. Egotistical as fuck, doesn’t care if he disgruntles his customers and they leave him alone. He has indicated to me that he sees what I’m doing online, and the ToS prohibits vulgarity in addition to all the regular stuff most ISPs prohibit. Plus, the building management is tied into this, so, for my privacy concerns, I don’t really want to use it, but it is so cheap.

        Something new called Starry is coming to the neighborhood, which is on roofs and comes through the window. Not as cheap as fuckhead, but far cheaper than Verizon or Xfinity/Comcast. The first month will be free. I don’t know when they are starting here, but I’m on the waiting list. The hotspot from the library is working awesome! I like taking it with me, the speed so far is great for my expectations. Only, it’s due on Jan. 10, and then it will stop working if it’s overdue, and cost $1.25 per day. I am wondering if I can hold another one while I still have it out, and how long I can basically get free internet continuously.

        • That’s weird about the lack of privacy and the PG-13 limits on speech. I’ve never heard of such conditions (except in a chatroom or equivalent).

        • Kodie

          Well, the guy was weird and overly sensitive. Like, when I complained initially when it kept disconnecting,and he said everything was fine on his end, so when I escalated a bit, he took it pretty personally, like, then he didn’t want my business and I had to kiss his ass or go without internet, but then there was this weird page when I paid on paypal that my antivirus warned me, so I wrote to him and the first fucking thing out of him was to insult my antivirus, and thought I was making shit up to get free internet.

          I didn’t want to test any limits with my online behavior. I played games and did my work and facebook. I don’t know if he really did spy on people or could, but the building management had its own network in the building too, hooked up to new security cameras, so it was all weird at the same time. Even when it’s going smoothly, I get that it’s an open network and my computer and phone keep alerting me about that. Even with the hotspot from the library, other people can log on if they know the password, which I think they all have the same password, so it’s not necessarily private. I don’t know how to spy on other people, but I imagine it’s something other people can do if they want – the media makes me think it’s not that hard or uncommon.

      • Kodie

        I have to return the hotspot before I can put it on hold again, so I probably have to go back to the sucky internet for a month. I am not going to wait on hold without internet, and It’s due on Thursday, so I don’t know how much more I can comment until then, falling way behind. Another month and I’ll come back. Just a head’s up before I seem to fall off the face of the earth again.

        • Susan

          Just a head’s up

          We’ll miss you but it’s good to know you’ll be back.

          Your last absence, I was starting to worry.

        • Kodie

          It was kind of abrupt and I didn’t try to explain. I thought it might just be a month or two, but this shitternet is so cheap and the other options are so expensive. A medium option is promised to be coming soon, and I think the first month of it is even free, so I will take advantage of that, and in the meantime, get on the hold list again at the library on Thursday. So hopefully, just one month away, 3 weeks back on the hotspot, that should be enough time for that new thing to be made available.

          I missed everyone and need this as an outlet. I haven’t been keeping up because I don’t really want to get deeply invested in conversations I will have to leave soon, but I’ll chime in while I can.

          🙂

        • You’re always welcome.

  • I’d say that the key difference between magic and miracle is that the magician hacks reality, while the miracle worker contracts the work out.

    Assuming the Bible as fact, we have Moses the miracle worker, and Jesus the magician.