Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 of Them. (Part 4)

Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 of Them. (Part 4) May 1, 2019

This is the conclusion of our look at a Christian’s list of 16 supposedly bad atheist arguments (part 1). Take a look and see if your critique is the same as mine.

If you want more, here are other posts in which I’ve responded to claims of bad arguments.

Argument #13: Religion is toxic

“The idea here is that religious thought always motivates actions that are bad. One problem with this idea is that ‘religion’ is a broad term. It puts people who follow all kinds of religions under one umbrella, even if the differences between those religions are stark. It also downplays any potentially ‘good’ actions taken under religious motivations.”

Yes, let’s avoid sweeping statements, and let’s admit both that Christianity can make Christian do good things and that Christians can find value in church services and their church community. But yet again, we are given a caricature of a reasonable atheist argument. Was a thoughtful critique of Christianity too hard to respond to?

Christianity is a hydra. Some flavors are nurturing, but many denominations or individual congregations contain toxic elements. You don’t need to be in a Jim Jones cult or be in the thrall of a televangelist who continually demands “Your most generous love offering of at least $80.” The problem can be debilitating feelings of guilt. It can be constant anxiety over whether you’ve done enough or believed enough to avoid hell. It can be the fear in the mind of a child startled awake by a noise, wondering if the imminent End has finally started. Some denominations hold friends and family hostage—sure, you can leave, but you leave them behind.

Christianity is often a social busybody, imposing its morality on society. It can also intertwine with politics. Christianity is flexible enough that you can find biblical support for almost any political position, and this can give some Jesus pixie dust to an election campaign. I’m particularly annoyed by politicians eager to attack church/state separation in return for Christian votes when church/state separation is central to the Constitution and the friend of the Christian as much as the atheist.

No, Christianity isn’t universally toxic, but it’s still only partway between Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.

(Click for a rebuttal to the claim that Christianity improves society’s social metrics.)

Argument #14: Jesus is just a copy of pagan gods

“This argument seems powerful on the surface as Atheists stack up to similar traits between Jesus and pagan gods—‘born of a virgin,’ ‘resurrected,’ ‘born on December 25’, etc. But when you dig deeper into the primary sources for the pagan gods, you will find that the traits don’t align with the actual stories of those gods.”

We’re starting with a point of agreement, because he seems to acknowledge the precedents—Dionysus and Tammuz died and rose again (before Jesus), Alexander the Great and Helen of Troy had supernatural births (before Jesus), and so on. Here’s a paraphrase of the argument: “Okay, Jesus did rise from the dead like other gods, but when you look at the biographies of those gods, they aren’t anything like Jesus!”

Uh, yeah. If the Jesus biography were the same as that for Dionysus, we’d call him “Dionysus.” No one claims that their stories are identical.

List the miracles of Jesus—healing the sick, raising the dead, water into wine, walking on water, virgin birth, and the resurrection, for example. Which ones are unique to Jesus? Asclepius healed the sick. Achilles was raised from the dead by his mother Thetis. The Oenotropae were three sisters who could change water into wine. Helen of Troy had a supernatural conception. Dionysus rose from the dead. How does Jesus stand apart as the only real one?

Christianity was a latecomer to the supernatural-ideas swap meet. Palestine was at the crossroads of Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, and other empires, and it’s not surprising (from a natural standpoint) to see borrowing of supernatural ideas from all over the ancient near east.

If the Jesus story were true, it would not look like an quilt made from ideas plucked from its environment. Sure, the details of the Jesus story are different from those of Asclepius, Achilles, Dionysus, and the rest, but that’s true for all of them. Each one is unique. The supernatural achievements of a true god would look dramatically different from the results of human imagination.

Argument #15: The Flying Spaghetti Monster

“New Atheists intended to make a point by bringing up this fictional creature—that you could assign the attributes of God to any random thing. But many Atheists who mention the creature now seem to do so in order to mock religious ideas rather than make a substantial point about them. Overall an Atheist who brings the creature up today ends up looking more ridiculous than thoughtful.”

There is indeed a ridiculous element to this, but it’s not where this author thinks. When considering the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sauce be upon him), Christians find that his properties compare poorly against those of Yahweh, who is the ground of all being, the Creator of all, and Aquinas’s necessary First Cause.

But that can be easily remedied. What’s missing? You say that the FSM isn’t omnipotent? Okay—then make him omnipotent. You say that the FSM isn’t omniscient? Okay—make him omniscient. Make him outside of time and space. Make him the Creator. Heck, give him a jet pack and a ray gun. The FSM is an idea that can be shaped as necessary.

You say that’s cheating? Nope—that’s how Yahweh got many of his properties. The Bible doesn’t say that Yahweh exists outside time and space, that he is three yet one, or that he was the cause of the Big Bang. And those properties that the Bible plausibly does give him are also refuted by the Bible. God is love, God is omniscient, God as the creator of the 200 billion galaxies in the universe? The Bible itself can be cited to argue otherwise.

The deist arguments that are apologists’ go-to arguments for God—the design argument, the moral argument, the Transcendental Argument, and so on—point to the FSM as readily as to Yahweh.

Sure, the FSM is ridiculous, but guess what other god also is.

Argument #16: Christians never agree

“The argument goes like this: Since Christians always seem to disagree about everything, it’s clear that God isn’t involved in the whole process.

“This argument is incredibly broad and immeasurable—it is uncertain how much agreement there would need to be before the objector no longer sees a problem. It also ignores that ‘mere Christianity’—the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—is almost entirely agreed on amongst Christians.”

What part of “omniscient and omnipotent” do you not understand? I would stop seeing a problem if your god could accurately convey his message. That’s not much to ask of a god, and yet Christians’ 45,000 denominations argue that he can’t. The Bible itself is ambiguous and contradictory. The Christian can respond that maybe God doesn’t want to make a clear and unambiguous message, but then what kind of trickster god have they created?

What I’d expect from an actual god is a simple, clear message. What we get instead is the 780,000-word blog from a primitive desert tribe. The manuscripts from which we get our New Testament are a flimsy foundation that doesn’t support an unbelievable story. Few old manuscripts remain, and the time gap from original to best copies is large (more here).

The author wants to take the “mere Christianity” route, which looks at the overlap that is common to almost all denominations, but how does that help? Yes, there are a small set of shared beliefs, but lots of conflicting beliefs remain. And if he likes the “mere Christianity” route, why not the “mere theism” route as well? That is, if you say that some overlap exists among Christian denominations and so declare them all valid routes to God, why not look at the overlap among religions and declare them all valid routes to the same God? Admittedly, this overlap may only be “the supernatural exists,” but his mere Christianity isn’t much of an overlap either.

(Click for a thought experiment that highlights the weakness of the Bible record.)

A holy book that looks manmade—full of factual errors, ambiguity, and contradictions and not protected against decay—is one more reason to be satisfied with the natural explanation for Christianity. No supernatural assumptions are necessary.

The Good Book—
one of the most remarkable euphemisms ever coined.
— Ashley Montagu

.

Image from Matthew T Rader, CC license
.

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  • ThaneOfDrones

    … in order to mock religious ideas rather than make a substantial point about them.

    So he wants more substantial mocking. Can do.

    Food Photographer of the Year 2019: Noodle feast scoops top prize
    https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/976/cpsprodpb/146BB/production/_106634638_celebration_jianhuiliao__bigcauldronsurface_hi-res.jpg

    • NS Alito

      I clicked on it! Argh! Food porn!

  • ThaneOfDrones

    It also ignores that ‘mere Christianity’—the divinity, death, and
    resurrection of Jesus Christ—is almost entirely agreed on amongst
    Christians.”

    So what and who cares? Jesus/God doesn’t matter unless he has some impact on human life. Is there agreement on how Jesus/God wants people to behave in this world? Absolutely not.
    Is there agreement on how people should behave to win the grand prize of eternal life offered by this not-ridiculous, not-to-be-mocked religion? There never has been.

    • epicurus

      Put ten christians not from the same church or denomination in a room and I bet even trying to get a cohesive concept of “mere christianity” or what is the minimum set of beliefs required to be called a Christian and get to heaven could be a challenge.

      • ThaneOfDrones

        First you would have to get some of the southern evangelicals to acknowledge that Catholics are even Christian.

  • Michael Neville

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented by Bobby Henderson for a serious reason. In 2005 the Kansas State Board of Education voted to allow intelligent design to be taught in Kansas public schools along with real science. Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for “Flying
    Spaghetti Monsterism”, alongside intelligent design and evolution. After the FSM became an internet phenomenon, the Board of Education had another vote rejecting ID.

    Since then Pastafarianism has become a parody of religion, but originally there was a good reason for Henderson to promulgate it.

    • Agreed, and I think there’s a good reason to promote the FSM now.

    • Neo

      I’m surprised the vote to reject it was so close, 6 to 4 to reject ID, but they really did give it a good try…but evolution, “real science”, you’ve got to be kidding!

      • Lex Lata

        I know, right? The theory of natural selection isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the account of the dirt man and his rib-clone girlfriend that appears in our copies of copies (etc.) of ancient documents transcribed during human civilization’s credulous adolescence by unknown priest-scribes who apparently thought that plants and daylight existed before the sun. Now that’s real science!

        • Nor anything we know since we got instruments to peer at Nature much better than our eyes, or even something beyond Near-Middle East

      • Michael Neville

        ID was invented by a lawyer, Phillip Johnson, to get around the Constitutional prohibition of teaching religious mythology in public school science classes. Even the Discovery Institute admits that the “Intelligent Designer” is the fundamentalist Christians’ god with the serial number filed off.

        As for “real science”, we have the consensus of the vast majority of biologists and allied trades, backed by literally tons of evidence, for evolution. On the other hand we have 2500 year old myths stolen from the Babylonians by Hebrew priests who didn’t know where the Sun went at night.

        • Neo

          Evolution is a theory, Michael Neville, the consensus of which you speak is not that evolution is a provable fact, but that it is their “favorite” theory. My favorite theory is ID – I’ve always been interested in watches….

        • Doubting Thomas

          Evolution is a fact. The theory is the explanation of the fact.

        • Michael Neville

          Do you even know what a theory is? A theory is not a guess. When scientists use the word theory they mean an explanation. The Germ Theory of Disease is not a guess that itty-bitty critters cause certain illnesses. Similarly, the Theory of Evolution describes how life forms change over times due to mutation, gene transfer and natural selection.

          Despite what your religious masters have told you, evolution is a fact and is accepted by by biologists. ID is a failed attempt to sneak religious mythology into the classroom. Evolution is science, ID is lies pretending to be science. I know the difference, even if you don’t.

        • Greg G.

          Nope, there is a difference between a colloquial theory and a scientific theory. A scientific theory has evidentiary support. Intelligent Design lacks evidence to support it. “Irreducible complexity” was explained in evolutionary terms a hundred years ago as “interlocking complexity”. ID was proved to be creationism in a fake lab coat at the Dover trial.

        • Newton’s second law of motion (f = ma) is a law. It’s not an explanation, which is why it’s not a theory.

          You need to use words correctly.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Facts are like dots. Theories are like connecting those dots to present a cohesive and coherent picture of the reality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed…the ToE isn’t a fact…it’s a bundle of facts that all added together make it the current best explanation of the steps in how humans got from the simple organisms of the distant past, to the complicated organisms we are today.

          God-did-it magic is feckin useless.

        • al kimeea

          Neo’s heart tells him otherwise

        • Ignorant Amos

          And that’s where all his thinking gets done…so he must be correct.

        • Evolution has an overwhelming support of observations and evidences. it has even been done in laboratory with bacteria (look for Richard Lenski), and can be seen at work when bacteria become resistant to our medicines.

          ID has at its heart a book, and everything must be interpreted on the basis of what that book says, a text quite faulty in that regards -and it’s quite telling how the Garden of Eden history, except on Mesopotamia from where it was ripped off after changing some thingsby th e authors of Genesis, does not appear in any other culture as it should if that was truly the origin of man. Real science does not work that way.

        • Bacteria that metabolize nylon and PET plastic (which didn’t exist a century ago) are also evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Evolution is a theory, Michael Neville, the consensus of which you speak is not that evolution is a provable fact, but that it is their “favorite” theory.

          Oh fer feck sake…not the “It’s only a theory” fuckwittery again.

          Why don’t you learn something before spewing your asinine drivel here.

          The meaning of the term scientific theory (often contracted to theory for brevity) as used in the disciplines of science is significantly different from the common vernacular usage of theory. In everyday speech, theory can imply an explanation that represents an unsubstantiated and speculative guess, whereas in science it describes an explanation that has been tested and widely accepted as valid. These different usages are comparable to the opposing usages of prediction in science versus common speech, where it denotes a mere hope.

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

          The ToE is the former, ID is the later.

          My favorite theory is ID –

          Based on what, exactly?

          I’ve always been interested in watches….

          And then you jump to your preferred imaginary “watchmaker” whose watch is a complete and utter clusterfuck of a design when one drills down into it…and with not a shred of reasonable evidence in support.

        • epeeist

          My favorite theory is ID – I’ve always been interested in watches….

          Let’s ignore the fact that ID is not a scientific theory for the moment.

          The thing about watches is that they are made by watchmakers (note the plural). We know that watchmakers exist, that they are mortal, that they are made of the same material as the universe, that they are not omnipotent, that they are fallible (otherwise watches would never break and always keep perfect time).

          In other words Paley’s argument from design is simply an example of special pleading and weak analogy. This was pointed out by David Hume even before Paley made the argument.

        • Greg G.

          Gravity is a fact. The Theory of Gravity is a scientific theory. Evolution is a fact. The Theory of Evolution is a scientific theory.

          The colloquial definition of “theory” is more like a hypothesis and is not analogous to the scientific definition of “theory”.

        • Joe

          My favorite theory is ID – I’ve always been interested in watches….

          I happen to be interested in watches too, see my profile picture. Every one I own was made by a human being.

        • al kimeea

          So, the fossil record is the work of… SATAN!!!

          Theories aren’t popular votes or personal choices.

          There is a consensus on Evolution because there are scads of supporting evidence, just like there is for Atomic Theory. If there weren’t evidence for either of these things, or gravity, none would even be considered for consensus.

          Evolution concerns the origin of species, not life itself.

          ID is the arrogant claim that a deity did it.

          Dilettante…

      • Joe

        Evolution is real science. Why would they be kidding?

        • Neo

          Joe, let’s put it this way, real scientists admit that there are as many faults in the theory of evolution as there are for intelligent design –

        • Doubting Thomas

          Can you quote any of these “real scientists” for us?

        • al kimeea

          Claude Rains… again

        • Doubting Thomas

          I notice that even though Neo has been commenting lately he still hasn’t responded to the numerous people who wanted him to name his “real scientists.” I’m guessing he did some digging and found out his pseudo scientific indoctrination makes a lot of claims but is short on evidentiary support. Now he’s onto the next part of the creationist game plan: When called out on your bullshit, avoid, avoid, avoid.

        • al kimeea

          Well, I stumbled into Neo @ the PoMoWoo hive. The creationism explains the apparent credulous affinity for that philosowoo.

          We can hope Neo has met Lucifer, hard to say. Mind closed or so open the brain has fallen downward.

          The creationist game plan is a woo plan that comes in many guises depending on the pseudo-scientific numbnuttery on offer and the bravado of the wooligan.

          One’s slinking away from legitimate inquiry is another’s refusal to jump through hoops…

        • Michael Neville

          You’re forgetting the fact that you’re posting on an atheist blog. We don’t accept religious myths and lies, so your attempts to sell us lies about evolution and ID won’t fly here.

        • Neo

          I understand, Michael Neville, but honestly, my problem is that even if I concede the Evolution Theory is provable, having cast a blind eye towards the issue of the missing link, and even if I concede Evolution solves the riddle of how we exist as we do today, I still believe Evolution comes up short – the Creationist theory completes the picture and gets you to the solution of how that first, whatever, existed – the two theories can coexist – – or am I missing something?

          Where the Kansas State Board of Ed went wrong, in my opinion, was lambasting the Evolution theory in their effort to include ID.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your incredulity on the ToE, while your credulity on an ancient book of myths and yarns, is not lost on any of us here.

        • Michael Neville

          You really need to learn something about evolution before you sneer at it. “Missing link” is creationist talk, the term biologists and paleontologists use is “transitional fossils” and there’s plenty of those. Your ignorance and incredulity aren’t arguments against evolution, they’re evidence that you’re ignorant and incredulous.

          ID and evolution cannot coexist for the simple reason that evolution is science and ID is religious mythology tarted up to look sort of scientific if you don’t know much about science. Creationism doesn’t even pretend to be scientific, it’s straight 2500 year old conflicting myths (compare Genesis 1 and 2, you’ll find they tell different stories) written by Iron Age people with no knowledge of science. The only reason why creationism exists at all is that some people worship a book rather than a god.

          I agree that the Kansas State Board shouldn’t have lambasted evolution, but then what do you expect from ignorant people?

        • epeeist

          but then what do you expect from ignorant people?

          Not just ignorant, but deliberately ignorant.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s the ignorance combined with the confidence that makes for such a shit show of blatant stupidity.

        • epeeist

          I understand, Michael Neville, but honestly, my problem is that even if I concede the Evolution Theory is provable

          And once again we have someone who knows nothing about basic science. Theories are both tentative and provisional, they are not proved.

          I still believe Evolution comes up short – the Creationist theory completes the picture and gets you to the solution of how that first, whatever, existed – the two theories can coexist – – or am I missing something?

          The major thing you are missing is that creationism is not a scientific theory. If it were then it would provide some testable predictions. So, off you go, give us some examples of the testable predictions that creationism makes, how these predictions have been tested and what the results were.

        • al kimeea

          One is a theory, the other is a myth like the “missing link”

        • We teach science in the science classroom. We ask the scientists what the consensus is, and that’s what we teach. No, ID isn’t the consensus.

          even if I concede the Evolution Theory is provable

          As Michael Neville noted, you seriously need to learn some stuff before you complain about evolution in public. When you get your information from Answers in Genesis or the Disco Institute instead of unbiased biology sources, we can tell, and you sound like an idiot.

        • al kimeea

          There is no longer any such thing as a missing link as we have pretty much filled out our lineage back to wee rodent like mammals.

          Kinda explains our population.

        • Greg G.

          There is probably more faults with the Theory of Evolution than for Intelligent Design simply because the ToE is more robust than ID. ID accepts much of ToE but adds a godidit (wink, wink).

        • What real scientists are these? Names and affiliations, please.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Theory of Evolution has its faults, but Intelligent Design is completely faulty.

        • Neo

          “…but Intelligent Design is completely faulty.”

          on the same token, the idea that the “design” was produced by random chance is ludicrous.

        • Ignorant Amos

          on the same token, the idea that the “design” was produced by random chance is ludicrous.

          Indeed. If that was all there was to it, then yes, you might have a point. But it isn’t, is it? Or don’t ya know what yer talking about?

          Here, let me help in explaining what is a complex subject in under 12 minutes.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOfRN0KihOU

          So that isn’t the “idea” of what the ToE claims. You really don’t know anything about this stuff, do ya?

          It is incumbent on you to learn about the stuff you wanna talk about before saying stupid shite and making a complete arse of yerself.

          Try picking up a different book from time-to-time.

        • Greg G.

          on the same token, the idea that the “design” was produced by random chance is ludicrous.

          It is ludicrous to leave out natural selection from the model. You reject evolution because you do not understand it.

        • Kodie

          Why is the phrase “random chance” so popular a slam against evolution by dumbhead Creationists? Because you have it all wrong in your head, because you were programmed like a robot to listen and repeat the lies they told you. You’re just a pawn saying things you don’t think about or bother learning about. “Random chance” is the tell-tale signal that you’re talking to someone who believes everything they hear in church, i.e. an easy mark, a gullible moron, programmed with the confidence of a loud dunce, uneducated about science…. how much have you paid them so far?

        • Joe

          Name one.

  • 200 billion galaxies in the observable universe

    FTFY. And no mention at all of them in “the book”.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Unless you want a very liberal interpretation of John 14:2-3

      2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
      3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

  • RichardSRussell

    I think we should be prepared to concede that in the sweepstakes for having the most bad arguments, the Christians come out way WAY ahead.

  • Polytropos

    #13: Oh please, this is a blatant strawman. I’ve never met an atheist who claimed no one ever did anything good in the name of religion. But many of us do claim religion has toxic effects on society and let’s face it, when it comes to Christianity we have a lot of evidence to point to. Additionally, most of us are aware not all religions are created equal and will qualify this argument by acknowledging that some religions, and some denominations, are more toxic than others.

    #14: Linn has a fair point here. There are some really bad versions of this argument floating around the internet. No, Jesus is not a rebranded rip-off of any one pagan deity, let’s get that very clear. However, there are good forms of this argument. The Jesus story has a lot of elements in common with other myths which were circulating in 1st century Judea, and the whole format of Christianity is suspiciously reminiscent of ancient mystery religions. It’s up to us as atheists to use this argument well, and avoid the lazy specious versions.

    #15: Just because Linn doesn’t like us mocking his religion, doesn’t mean our mockery is undeserved. The purpose of the FSM was always to illustrate the ridiculous nature of religion, and He has always delivered. R’amen.

    #16: “Mere Christianity” doesn’t work, because once you whittle away everything the various denominations of Christianity disagree on you’re left with nothing of any value. Those conflicting beliefs are not incidental, they’re vitally important things like how to obtain salvation, what happens when you die, and what things you can and can’t do while you’re alive.

    • 14: “The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviours Christianity Before Christ” by Kersey Graves hasn’t been helpful, because its many flaws gave apologists something to attack. Lesson: make sure your arguments are well researched.

      • Polytropos

        Definitely. We can do better, and we should.

      • Christianism clearly owes a lot to Zoroastrism, passing by Judaism.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Dying-and-Rising Gods: It’s Pagan, Guys. Get Over It.

        Every dying-and-rising god is different. Every death is different. Every resurrection is different. All irrelevant. The commonality is that there is a death and a resurrection. Everything else is a mixture of syncretized ideas from the borrowing and borrowed cultures, to produce a new and unique god and myth. In my article on virgin births, I also mentioned this about resurrected gods, with citations of all the evidence I already published under peer review in On the Historicity of Jesus (pp. 45-47, 56-58, 98-100, 105-06, 168-73, 225-29). I also list and discuss a lot of the evidence and theology of resurrection in the world Christianity was born from and in full knowledge of—both Jewish and Pagan—in Not the Impossible Faith (Chapter 3). But on my blog, in the same paragraph, I also mentioned Derreck Bennett’s article, “Ehrman Errs: Yes, Bart, There Were Dying & Rising Gods,” as making a start on showing this. Though I said I felt there were some errors in that, and that I’d write about this myself someday to shore up the facts and get them as right as possible, the same way I did for the virgin birth concept. Well, here we go.

        https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13890

        Virgin Birth: It’s Pagan, Guys. Get Over It.

        https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11161

    • eric

      R;#14; the ‘turning water into wine’ miracle depicted in the marriage at Cana verses was evidently a somewhat common con-man’s trick that wandering “prophets” used to do throughout the region. The bible version intentionally includes some details meant to show the reader that Jesus was not using one of the typical stage magic tricks to do it.

      I mention this because it appears that at least some of the bible authors wanted to show that their characters’ miracles were better than the competition. Yahweh’s flood is bigger than the babylonian one. Moses and Aaron do everything the Egyptian magicians do, only better. Jesus beats Simon Magus at the water-wine game. Thus one possible explanation for the parallels between Jesus and pagan deities is that the NT authors weren’t stealing or rebranding pagan myths, so much they were one-upping them.

      ***

      Re: #16, it’s also the case that their ‘counter’ proves nothing. For example, we can point out that Sunni and Shia Muslims agree on fundamental aspects of Allah – they disagree on a somewhat theologically minor point, which is who inherited Mohammed’s authority (somewhat akin to the Orthodox sects’ rejection of Rome’s Pope being the one and only inheritor of Peter’s authority and interpreter of scripture). Does this make Islam true? Obviously not, to Christians. So while Linn might take some comfort in responding to “Christians never agree” with a quick “do too!”, the fact that they agree on some important theological points means…bubkis.

      • Reminds me of Uri Geller vs. James Randi. Geller did spoon bending, compass-needle moving, etc. and said that he was using supernatural forces. Randi duplicated all his tricks.

        Maybe Randi is Jesus.

      • Neo

        I like to view the Wedding at Cana miracle along side the multiplication of loaves – 5 fish to feed 5K, can we all agree, no mirrors were involved?

        • Greg G.

          I like to view the Wedding at Cana miracle along side the multiplication of loaves – 5 fish to feed 5K, can we all agree, no mirrors were involved?

          No mirrors, no fish, no loaves, just a quill and ink, from a ripoff of an Elisha story:

          2 Kings 4:42-44 (NRSV)42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” 44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          *Neo has left the chat.*

        • Greg G.

          I hope it wasn’t something I said.

        • You’re such a kidder!

        • Neo

          But, it is a known fact that Jesus said I am the fulfillment of the law – you have it wrong, Greg G., that’s not a ripoff, that’s foreshadowing..

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          But, it is a known fact that Jesus said I am the fulfillment of the law –

          It’s a known fact the same way that Superman being allergic to Kryptonite is a known fact.

          you have it wrong, Greg G., that’s not a ripoff, that’s foreshadowing..

          It’s literature. 😉

        • Greg G.

          First, it is not a known fact that Jesus said that. It is attributed to Jesus in Matthew and Luke.

          Matthew 5:17 says he didn’t come to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfill. Luke 24:44 adds Psalms to the list.

          2 Kings is not the law, the prophets, or the psalms. It was not a fulfillment, it was a ripoff of the Elisha story.

          Matthew had a bad habit of picking a verse out of context to make it seem like a prophecy.

          Mark had Jesus doing spit miracles as if he was ripping of Vespasian miracles in the Serapis temple in Egypt. Matthew and Luke must have recognized that and deleted them.

          Many of the Jesus miracles are taken from the miracles of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha. If it is foreshadowing, then NT Jesus had little to no free will. Foreshadowing means his story was choreographed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Known fact is it? Wise up.

          Augustus came from a miraculous conception by the divine and human conjunction of [the God] Apollo and [his mother] Atia. How does the historian respond to that story? Are there any who take it literally?… That divergence raises an ethical problem for me. Either all such divine conceptions, from Alexander to Augusts and from the Christ to the Buddha, should be accepted literally and miraculously or all of them should be accepted metaphorically and theologically. It is not morally acceptable to say directly and openly that our story is truth but yours is myth; ours is history but yours is a lie. It is even less morally acceptable to say that indirectly and covertly by manufacturing defensive or protective strategies that apply only to one’s own story. ~John Dominic Crosssan, “The Birth of Christianity”, 1998, pg 28 – 29.

        • Neo

          IA – apples and oranges, the fulfillment of which Jesus spoke was of the writings of the Old Testament that still exist as viable truths today – the stories of Apollo and the like are cute but have been debunked years ago.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…I realize you believe that shite, because you’ve bought into a particular version of the God Virus and you’re hooked.

          Other versions of the virus are also available and believed with the same fervency that you believe your flavor. Based on the same sort of poor evidence.

          …the stories of Apollo and the like are cute but have been debunked years ago.

          That they are now believed to be exactly what they are, myths? Absolutely. You missed the point. At one time they weren’t. Eejits believed the stories were true. You and I think that was a bit stupid. But the difference between us is you continue to believe in a story that is also a silly myth.

          There are lots of folk like ya. Believing religious stories today that you have no truck with and believe are ludicrous. When you realize the reasons why you think those folk are eejits too, then you’l realize why most here think the same about your nonsense.

          Try taking The Outsider Test for Faith.

        • Greg G.

          Do you realize that you are saying that Jesus came to fulfill mistranslations of the Old Testament? The virgin birth story is supposed to have come from Isaiah 7:14 but the word used in Hebrew (almah) means “woman” with no implication about her sexual status though the following words indicate that she is pregnant and will give birth. Isaiah 14:2 mentions male and female servants but every other reference to females has to do with their sexual and childbearing status as virgins, barren, pregnant, or in labor. Four times, Isaiah uses “bĕthuwlah” for virgin, as it is a variation of the word for “virginity”, but not in Isaiah 7:14.

          The Septuagint translated “almah” to the Greek word for virginity.

          Matthew 1:23 quotes the mistranslated Septuagint verse. Which should tell you that Matthew was cherry-picking verses to create fake fulfilled prophecies.

          So when Matthew quotes Jesus saying that he came to fulfill the law and the prophets, that is Matthew writing more fake stories.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And that likely suited the authors, because virgin spawned god-men was a trope about the area back in them days.

          Early Christians believed Jesus was the Jewish messiah. Not a big deal. Lots of Jews back then believed this fellow or that one was the messiah. What the Christians also believed was that their own particular messiah fellow was also divine. And as we’ve seen ancient people thought divine godmen had special births, and fulfilled prophesies. So the early Christians went went flipping through the Jewish scriptures looking for the prophesies their godman messiah fulfilled. The Old Testament book they lit on hardest was the one about the prophet Isaiah, and the prophesies he supposedly prophesied.

          One of which included this.

          “13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.”

          Maybe. I mean, maybe Isaiah’s sentence included the word “virgin,” but maybe it didn’t. Pointy headed people argue. The didn’t crowd point out that away back in the BCs the original Hebrew word was “almah.” Almah meant young girl. But in the third century BC the Jewish Hebrew scripture got translated into Jewish Greek scripture, and written down and passed around in Greek, in a book called the Septuagint—named after the Simon and Ellie Septuagint Foundation, which funded the research, I think.

          Anyway, the fellows who moved Isaiah’s Hebrew “almah” over to the Septuagint picked the Greek word “parthenos,” παρθενος, which Greek speakers used for both “virgin” and for “young woman,” or “maiden” —the thing being, they didn’t see much difference, what with them being patriarchal primitives and all, without the benefit of modern misogynist feminism to convince them there should be a difference between “virgin” and “young girl.”

          The problem apologists have is that no one is claiming that Christians copied the virgin birth motif from a particular dying and rising god-man yarn. The motif itself was a common enough one that it was utilized.

          So, did Christianity copy the virgin birth from Mithras? Or Isis? Or anyone? There were, after all, quite a few virgin birth stories available as sources.

          No, Christianity didn’t get it’s virgin birth myth by having “Matthew” and “Luke” copy some other God’s story fact by fact. That’s not how ancient religions got their myths. We’ve seen how they did it. They absorbed the religious ideas of the time, and made up their own myth “facts” to fit those ideas in with the rest of their myth.

          http://pocm.info/pagan_ideas_virgin_birth.html

          And the poor Christian apologist just can’t be having any of this stuff at all.

        • Get a clue: other supernatural stories have been debunked as well.

      • WCB

        Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem about the Trojan war, tells of the three magical sisters, half mortal, half divine daughters of Apollo who could change water to wine, berries to olives and weeds to wheat. The Maneads, the female followers of the god Bacchus could change water to wine. It’s an old miracle working trope.

        https://isiopolis.com/2015/02/01/isis-wine/

        “There was even a tradition in Egypt that, on occasion, the water of the Nile turned to wine. Epiphanius, the early Christian polemic writer, tells us that many people attested to this Nile-water-into-wine miracle. Of course to Epiphanius it was a Christian miracle, taking place on the 6th of January and commemorating Jesus’ water-into-wine miracle.”

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

        According to the Bibliotheca, their great-grandfather was Dionysus, and he gave them the power to change water into wine, grass into wheat, and berries into olives. For this reason no one around them ever had to starve.[3] According to other sources, however, the daughters were devotees of Dionysus, and the god rewarded them with the extraordinary ability to produce oil, corn, and wine from the ground or merely by touch.[1]

        • Greg G.

          That is interesting. the first link mentioned that Osiris was called “The Lord of Wine” in the Pyramid Texts. I had an urge to verify that by doing a word search on “wine”:

          Utterance 442

          819c. Behold, he is come (again) as Śȝḥ; behold, Osiris is come as Śȝḥ.

          820a. lord of the wine-cellar at the Wȝg-feast,

          Utterance 577

          1523c. Anubis, the counter of hearts, deducts Osiris N. from the gods who belong to the earth, (and assigns him) to the gods who are in heaven,

          1524a. lord of wine at the inundation.

          Then I stumbled across;

          Utterance 610

          1723a. Raise thyself up (like) Ḫnti-Ḫm (chief of Letopolis),

          1723b. when the great bread and this wine-like water were given to him.

          It seems that the idea of “water into wine” and the Eucharist ritual might go back to the late pyramid-building era, which was further back in time to the first century than the first century is to us.

    • Jim Jones

      #14:

      http://pocm.info warns about this as well. But it points out that Jesus is built out of the Greek god-erector-set.

  • Brian Davis

    Few old manuscripts remain, and the time gap from original to best copies is large.

    You’d think that the god who told Noah how to build a boat big enough to carry all of the “kinds” could have taught the apostles the arts of paper making, printing and book binding.

  • NS Alito

    Argument #15: The Flying Spaghetti Monster

    :
    You say that’s cheating? Nope—that’s how Yahweh got many of his properties. The Bible doesn’t say that Yahweh exists outside time and space, that he is three yet one, or that he was the cause of the Big Bang. And those properties that the Bible plausibly does give him are also refuted by the Bible. God is love, God is omniscient, God as the creator of the 200 billion galaxies in the universe?

    My favorite is how people are to worship Yahweh ahead of any of the other elohim, except we meant to say that Yahweh is the only god ever.

    • Jim Jones

      So ‘God’ is outside the universe. So is Eric the Magic Penguin.

  • NS Alito

    Argument #16: Christians never agree
    The closest point of agreement I am aware of is that Jesus came to save/forgive us for something that our distant ancestors did (Original Sin, or whatnot). This basic premise, on its own, reflects the fundamental injustice of blaming people for something someone else did.

    • Kodie

      Plenty of denominations agree with atheists that the Adam and Eve story never happened, nor Noah’s Ark. Without the fall, Jesus doesn’t make as much sense. I’d argue Jesus doesn’t make any sense as a way to reach out to humanity – not the planning, and not the execution (no pun intended), but it makes slightly more sense if you planted a fall from grace earlier on in the plot.

      • Greg G.

        Some denominations have an Eden mantra, “Jesus didn’t die for a metaphor.”

    • Jim Jones

      Except in some societies, this is still the way they work. There are parts of the world where children cannot play outside, go to school etc., because they will be murdered as revenge for something a relative did despite their innocence.

      Christianity has absorbed that along with other toxic socialization.

  • eric

    #13 is a straw man, IMO. Even atheists who subscribe to the “religion poisons everything” idea are going to happily agree that there exist Christians who will do good things out of religious motivation.

    #14-15 are more misunderstanding where the burden of proof lies.

    #16 is, as Bob says, an observation inconsistent with a God that is both capable of and wants to send a clear, unmistakable message. Which is not a problem for deists or some non-Christians, but is a serious problem for Christianity. So I don’t see how that’s a bad argument.

    Here’s the final count. Out of 16 Christian responses…
    Ten misunderstand their burden of proof.
    Three assume a point the Christians should be trying to prove.
    Two are nonresponsive to the key atheist argument posed (#11 was an argument against religion, not the existence of God. While #16 is an argument against a God who can and wants to send us a clear message)
    One is responding to a straw man argument that, AFAIK, no atheist actually makes.

    So….I think one lesson I take away from Bob’s series of articles is that Mr. Linn simply doesn’t understand or doesn’t accept that Christians have the burden of proof, not skeptics.

    • But then if you consider that the audience is wavering Christians, not us, it makes more sense.

    • rationalobservations?

      Even atheists who subscribe to the “religion poisons everything” idea are going to happily agree that there exist Christians who will do good things out of religious motivation.
      The motivation based upon fear of punishment or reward after death appears poor motivation when compared with the world’s third largest and fastest growing human cohort of the “godless” who do good as it’s own reward within the only life that any individual living thing ever gets.
      Meanwhile – evil is never done so joyfully as when done in the name of a religion…

  • Greg G.

    Argument #16: Christians never agree
    “The argument goes like this: Since Christians always seem to disagree about everything, it’s clear that God isn’t involved in the whole process.

    “This argument is incredibly broad and immeasurable—it is uncertain how much agreement there would need to be before the objector no longer sees a problem. It also ignores that ‘mere Christianity’—the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—is almost entirely agreed on amongst Christians.”

    That takes us to:

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

    If the believers were “one”, then they would be so impressively in agreement that the rest of the world would believe in Jesus. The fact that the whole world does not believe, makes that the Greatest Prayer Failure of All Time.

    If believers are in unity, then Jesus’ prayer failed because Jesus overestimated how impressive that would be. But the fact that there are 45,000+ denominations shows they lack unity by their disagreements, so Jesus’ prayer fails because of the lack of unity.

    But if the canonized gospels can’t agree on whether Jesus was crucified before or after the Passover meal, then there is little hope for believers to agree.

    • Neo

      Argument #16 Christians Never Agree –
      If the believers were “one”, then they would be so impressively in agreement that the rest of the world would believe in Jesus. The fact that the whole world does not believe, makes that the Greatest Prayer Failure of All Time.
      “If believers are in unity, then Jesus’ prayer failed because Jesus overestimated how impressive that would be. But the fact that there are 45,000+ denominations shows they lack unity by their disagreements, so Jesus’ prayer fails because of the lack of unity.”

      Greg G, my reading of the bible is that Jesus wanted the Word to be published throughout the world but expected that his words like seed would fall onto rocky ground, not accepted. Moreover, why would Jesus believe his words would be accepted by everyone after he was gone, when not all believed him when he was working miracles in their presence – he said, it was to fulfill the prophecy, ears will hear but not understand.

      Argument #16 refers to the Christians who have broken from the one true church of Rome to follow Luther. Indeed Catholics would agree with Atheists in this argument that would support the need for the Authority that Catholicism offers. Argument #16 has no absolutely no merit against the Christians following the Vicar of Christ, who has the benefit of 2000 years of apostolic succession from Peter.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Greg G, my reading of the bible is that Jesus wanted the Word to be published throughout the world but expected that his words like seed would fall onto rocky ground, not accepted.

        Published? Where does it say that?

        Moreover, why would Jesus believe his words would be accepted by everyone after he was gone, when not all believed him when he was working miracles in their presence – he said, it was to fulfill the prophecy, hears will hear but not understand.

        Anno…imagine the prophecy failing. You are placing restrictions on multi-omni YahwehJesus?

        Argument #16 refers to the Christians who have broken from the one true church of Rome to follow Luther.

        Ahhh haaa!…the “No True Scotsman Fallacy”

        Indeed Catholics would agree with Atheists in this argument that would support the need for the Authority that Catholicism offers.

        But that’s your opinion on authority, it isn’t based on anything tangible.

        Argument #16 has no absolutely no merit against the Christians following the Vicar of Christ, who has the benefit of 2000 years of apostolic succession from Peter.

        Which is the same Catholic propaganda ballix that others have told themselves since they split from Roman Catholicism. Here, let me give ya an example from the bullshit brigade I was Christened into…..

        The Church of Ireland considers itself Catholic because it is in possession of a continuous tradition of faith and practice, based on scripture and early traditions, enshrined in the Catholic creeds, together with the sacraments and apostolic ministry. However, the Church of Ireland is also Protestant, or Reformed, since it opposes doctrines and ways of worshipping that it considers contrary to scripture and which led to the Reformation.

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

        Your problem with you nonsense is that the RCC was only a thing from the beginning of the second millennia.

        https://danielharper.org/yauu/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/TimelineChristianity1.pdf

        Prior to that, there was more Christianities than you could shake a stick at. Claiming apostolic succession. The RCC was the version that eventually got all the power, but even then there was never one unified Christian church. The whole shebang was a bag of tits well before Luther nailed his paper to the door.

        You’ve bought a pup.

      • Greg G.

        Greg G, my reading of the bible is that Jesus wanted the Word to be published throughout the world but expected that his words like seed would fall onto rocky ground, not accepted.

        That is what the Synoptics say.

        Moreover, why would Jesus believe his words would be accepted by everyone after he was gone, when not all believed him when he was working miracles in their presence – he said, it was to fulfill the prophecy, ears will hear but not understand.

        I wouldn’t know why Jesus would believe that but that is what it says in the prayer in John 17:20-23. Maybe the Jesus character knew prayer doesn’t really work so it didn’t matter what he said. Maybe John invented the prayer. The Synoptics have parables, John has Jesus deliberately saying ambiguous things to confuse the person he is talking to so he can correct the person.

        How do you know which Jesus words to accept and which to ignore?

        Argument #16 refers to the Christians who have broken from the one true church of Rome to follow Luther.

        The RCC would have you believe that. Baptists say the RCC went wrong and they are correct. The Anabaptists say they go back to John the Baptist. But if the John17:20-23 prayer was not a failure, there would be no denominations. Everyone would agree in unity that was impressive enough to make the whole world believe.

        Argument #16 has no absolutely no merit against the Christians following the Vicar of Christ, who has the benefit of 2000 years of apostolic succession from Peter.

        2000 years of apostolic succession is 2000 years of Jesus failing to return which makes the whole religion a failure. That was supposed to happen in the first century.

      • Kodie

        my reading of the bible is that Jesus wanted

        Exactly!

        • al kimeea

          God is mysterious, but any schmuck can really know the mind of Jebus

      • It must be heartbreaking to be the Creator of the universe and yet be so clumsy with words that you can’t convey your plan simply and clearly.

      • Protestants and Catholics both trace their roots back to the same place.

    • Jack the Sandwichmaker

      Or the Christian’s ARE in unity! It’s just only the Christians belonging to the one true flavor of Christianity count. The Christians of the RCC or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, or Pastor Joe’s Church of the Almighty Savior of South Jefferson, Virginia are United! Jesus never meant that 90% of the people calling themselves Christians wouldn’t be heretics…

  • Kodie

    Argument #13: Religion is toxic

    Christianity is a hydra. Some flavors are nurturing, but many denominations or individual congregations contain toxic elements. You don’t need to be in a Jim Jones cult or be in the thrall of a televangelist who continually demands “Your most generous love offering of at least $80.” The problem can be debilitating feelings of guilt. It can be constant anxiety over whether you’ve done enough or believed enough to avoid hell. It can be the fear in the mind of a child startled awake by a noise, wondering if the imminent End has finally started. Some denominations hold friends and family hostage—sure, you can leave, but you leave them behind.

    Christianity is often a social busybody, imposing its morality on society. It can also intertwine with politics. Christianity is flexible enough that you can find biblical support for almost any political position, and this can give some Jesus pixie dust to an election campaign. I’m particularly annoyed by politicians eager to attack church/state separation in return for Christian votes when church/state separation is central to the Constitution and the friend of the Christian as much as the atheist.

    Christianity, or any religion, can, of course, motivate people to do things I think are good, or better than other Christians would. But I don’t see it that much. Just a second – what I don’t like is people feeling like they are a good person solely because of Jesus. I don’t know if it’s often fear or actual empathy or social imitation, but people giving credit to their behavior of generosity or inclusion or love in a liberal sense, is almost worse. They think it’s Jesus alone that makes anyone do the right thing, which makes them hostile toward atheists.

    Then there is, if you are a bot for Jesus, doing whatever your social group approves of, you aren’t authentically doing good. Everything any Christian does because of Jesus makes them feel altruistic, whether they are guiding a woman to a crisis pregnancy center that will ultimately berate her for getting pregnant and harass her into giving her child up for adoption, or disowning a gay child and throwing them out of the house as a teen to get them right with the lord. There is no distinction between that and someone who feeds the hungry, but only if they can read bible passages while they eat, or homeschool their children stupid because they want to protect them from learning about evolution at the cost of learning how to spell. Argument #16 will come back to this. Everything all Christians do they think is loving their neighbor.

    Oh yeah, what I don’t see from Christians, almost forgot. I see most people are probably Christians, and they are selfish, grubby, annoying humans who don’t seem to think about the lord most of the time. They don’t seem as self-loathing as one might imagine for as rude as they can be. I think they have what appears to be a healthy psyche, behaving like a normal, sociable human who lies, cheats, takes credit for someone else’s work, makes excuses for their failings, passes the buck, is spineless, and dare I say, meaningless and replaceable in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, I know, once your family knows and loves you, you’re a very special person to a select few, but maybe this is where religion really comes from. People know their role on the earth is not unique, so they fall for the pitch that they are very unique and very meaningful, eternally.

    • harass her into giving her child up for adoption, or disowning a gay child and throwing them out of the house as a teen to get them right with the lord.

      Imagine such a Christian who finally gets it, that they’ve been a dick in the service of a nonexistent god (but an existent and possibly manipulative spiritual leader or congregation). It must be hard to look back on such a life once you’ve returned to reality.

  • Kodie

    Argument #14: Jesus is just a copy of pagan gods

    I think learning about some of the Greek and Roman myths, as well as a year of Social Studies spent studying the Iroquois culture really helped me clarify my atheism. I did not think about it at the time, but I was absorbing the essence of cultural storytelling and myth-making. When I knew other people had a religion, I assumed they regarded it like the stories we were learning in school, just like…. I think I should also say, I don’t really have a nationality other than American. I am not a Native American, but there was no national hyphenate-American culture that I was raised on. Just white bread suburban toaster oven backyard swingset. I’m a 4th generation American at the least, and raised without any ethnic qualities whatsoever, just socio-economic ones. So, these interesting cultural myths blended into what it meant to have a national pride. I knew plenty of kids who were essentially like me but they had this additional national identity kept alive by their grandma’s cooking and other traditions, probably to do with their church or other house of worship at holiday events like Christmas and Easter.

    What I mean to explain is, learning about the ways different cultures make up stories that we do not consider true, not having either a religion of my own or a hyphenate nationality of immigrant pride, I did not really know what having a religion meant to people. I had been to church, still up to this time, maybe 8 times that I can remember. As a teen, with my boyfriend, at a Methodist midnight mass on Christmas Eve, I thought that was really nice. I liked singing the songs, and I liked when the lights were turned down and we passed the flame from our candles on to the next person. I get how a person can be positively affected by a ritual and feeling that this group-love makes this a special occasion. Can’t cross that bridge to believe insanely impossible stories are true and that a 2000-year-old corpse is the key to the best possible afterlife.

    In summary? All religions are basically the same. They make claims, and they’re not true.

    If the Jesus story were true, it would not look like an quilt made from ideas plucked from its environment. Sure, the details of the Jesus story are different from those of Asclepius, Achilles, Dionysus, and the rest, but that’s true for all of them. Each one is unique. The supernatural achievements of a true god would look dramatically different from the results of human imagination.

    The code shortcuts for the combox are not working for me anymore. Secondly, I think the supernatural achievements of a true god would not necessarily look different. Maybe they all have the same story because they’re all expressions of the same god to different cultures! Nah. I don’t know how humans would express an encounter with an actual god. I think theists know the human imagination is limited, that’s why they think every bible that survives a fire is a miracle, even if everyone in the house died, including infants and children. As horrifying sad as that would be, they are looking for the message god sent them so they can even start to cope with it! The supernatural achievements of a true god was the creation of everything there is, but the achievements of Jesus are parlor tricks. I still can’t get over how effective could Jesus have been if he had truly sacrificed his life, by which I mean, the entire rest of his life. Dying means you can’t act anymore. The dumbest part of the story is how he has to die for god to save everyone else. Jesus fed the masses, Jesus cured a couple of lepers, Jesus was a friend to a prostitute. I am possibly mistaken. Imagine if Jesus could live forever and continue improving the lives of people, boots on the ground, instead of wasting the rest of his life by dying.

    If you think of a normal person, maybe you know, or see something on the news, someone dies in young adulthood. Maybe a doctor, or a mother, or a police officer…. why mention their profession or role? Because they didn’t get to have the rest of their life to do good things! And that’s not for the loss of that person, but the effect they had and could have continued to have on other people. We are not just person X, that you are deprived of life by dying, all the people you could have and would have affected in the rest of your life don’t get you there. Are we supposed to feel good that Jesus died for us, or how much better it could have been if Jesus had lived in service of humanity instead.

    • To know how much stuff has been ripped off by Christianism (and Judaism before) from Zoroastrism was quite a shock.

    • Ignorant Amos

      No religion is based primarily on theology. First comes the story; and later, when the imaginative fires have died down and the myth-making faculty has ceased, along come the theologians to try to turn the story into a system, ~Hyam Maccoby, “The Mythmaker”

  • Kodie

    Argument #16: Christians never agree

    How many times do we have to see a Christian say “we’re not all like that”? I think that’s all that needs to be said about that – Christians on an atheist board tend not to call each other out if they disagree, but Christians all seem to think you haven’t heard the story correctly before. Why is there always another new Christian here? Do they think we’ve never been visited by a Christian before? Why do they all seem to think they’re the only one who can explain it right? The problem with atheists, they say, is we’re constantly misrepresenting their beliefs, that religion is something you do in church, but each one thinks their version is a relationship. Every one of them thinks if we heard their explanation, it would make more sense than either our upbringing, or the thousands, or many more, of Christians who have visited this blog, has a unique and exceptional take, and then it’s our own sin, or whatever, that causes us not to get it this time. They call us swine because the bible assures them what they are casting are pearls, and take about 7-100 more posts to actually give up and get the fuck gone, aka shake the dust from their feet.

    Maybe Christians agree more than just about Jesus though,

    • Jennny

      I notice these x-tian trolls are so arrogant. They know ”The Truth” and have the god-given right to put us straight. Bruce Gerencser gets this a lot, a troll will tell him everything that’s wrong with his life and how to come back to jesus. He tracks back and finds they’ve usually spent only a few minutes on his blog and read just 2-3 posts. This makes them an authority on his life, makes them able to give an expert diagnosis on everything from Mr G’s peronal appearance to his worldview – which can all be put right in a moment if he will just fall on his knees and say the sinners’ prayer. Cos, as you say, no one has ever told him the gospel correctly until now.

      As commenters say, the troll really wants – and delusionally expects – to be ‘The One’ who facilitates this famous atheist’s reconversion so he gets a zillion brownie points and much adulation from his fellow-believers.

      • Neo

        Jenny, Bob has invited discussion, as long as the comment is dumb, you engage, the minute he presents a good argument, he’s a troll.

        • Jennny

          Trouble is, having followed many well known P/NR and other atheist blogs for a long time, I honestly can’t think of one time when your so-called ‘good argument’ has ever shown up. Which is precisely how so many of us here deconverted…there are no good arguments for everyone neeeding to come to jesus, we spent a while wishing there were, willing there to be some…but, reluctantly and with horror sometimes, realised there ain’t!

        • Neo

          that’s fair.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It’s not that religious are called trolls for presenting good arguments. There aren’t any good arguments for religion (at least I haven’t seem them).

          The problem usually arises when the obvious and blatant faults in the religious person’s “good argument” is pointed out and the religious person starts the tactics of avoidance, evasion, and topic changing that we so often see when they get slapped by reality. That’s when the label of troll usually comes out.

        • Not to mention those who do a LANCB after posting something virulent, full of threats of eternal damnation and the like. A whole lot of them works that way.

    • The Christian says: “Describe to me me this God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in him, either.”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      How many times will you find certain Christian sects accusing other sects of being not true Christians? Among those “not true Christians” are Catholics, Mormons and Episcopalians (apparently, because they don’t condemn homosexuality), and others.

      But when a terrorist attacks those worshiping in a Catholic church on Easter, suddenly there is a major outcry if everyone doesn’t acknowledge the attack on CHRISTIANS and only call them “Easter worshippers” (btw, add “those who only go to church on christmas and easter” to the list of not true christians)

      The whole “Christians have all this in common” only seems to count when it comes to arguments with non-believers. Amongst themselves? Oh, it’s heated to the point of accusing others of being heretics.

      • The Fundies I best know, all Evangelicals, have in that regard:

        One -Pentecostal- who claims only the faiths that are centered in Jesus give salvation and all that BS -Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses are not included-, but at the same time mocks Catholic worship of images claiming they follow a living Christ.

        Another -denomination unknown- as per above, minus the “Jesus-centered faiths” and threatening unbelievers with Hell, if not other times inviting them to join that “no religion”.

        Another -denomination also unknown-, but borderline Seventh Day Adventist, obsessed with Israel -but as usual just because he wants Jews accepting Jesus as their Messiah-, and who claims souls are a Platonism creation, with nothing in the Bible supporting them, and laments so many people thinking that.

  • Jim Jones

    pocm.info

    • Greg G.

      The Maria natans iconography is a blatant ripoff of the Isis natans iconography.

      • Jim Jones

        That’s obscure.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    “This argument is incredibly broad and immeasurable—it is uncertain how much agreement there would need to be before the objector no longer sees a problem.

    Certainly I’d expect Christians to at least agree on what they needed to do to be saved and avoid hell. That would be the core, most important thing, that a loving savior God would want to make sure everyone could agree on, right?

    • Doubting Thomas

      Before they could agree on what it takes to avoid hell, they would have to agree that there is a hell. Some think Jesus saying he would toss people into eternal flames was just a metaphor.