Who Has the Burden of Proof? Apparently Not the Christian. (3 of 4)

Who Has the Burden of Proof? Apparently Not the Christian. (3 of 4) January 22, 2020

In part 1, we looked at a couple of arguments from popular Christian apologists with a deceptive view of the burden of proof.

Who knew atheists had that much to defend??

Here’s another trick Christian apologists like to play with the burden of proof. This is from Alan Shlemon:

While it’s true that atheists don’t have to prove the absence of God, they’re hardly off the hook when it comes to making sense of their position. If they don’t believe in God, their view entails at least three incredible assertions that require a lot of explaining.

Huh? You’d think that a Christian apologist would understand the definition of “atheist.” But let’s play along. Shlemon says that atheists must explain (1) how the universe came into existence by itself and how it came from nothing, (2) how free will can exist, and (3) where morals come from.

Bullshit.

Wow, how many ways is this wrong? First, atheists don’t claim these things. Ignoring the inept wording, if you’re saying that these are things for which modern society is trying to explain, sure. By why is this any particular burden on the person who has no god belief? Sigh . . . the old kindergarten try.

Second, I’m sure that Shlemon is bursting to share with us Christianity’s explanations for these topics. I agree that Christianity could have answers, but then so could Hinduism, Buddhism, and a thousand other mystical worldviews. Show me that Christianity is any more plausible than the others (which aren’t at all plausible), and you have an argument. Until then, you only make yourself look clueless.

Third, Science has no obligation to provide answers, and “We don’t know” is a perfectly reasonable answer. Science has nothing to be ashamed of and an immense body of work to be proud of. “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God” is no argument. Christians may have answers, but their answers are based on nothing.

Fourth, Christianity needs to stop worrying about the speck in the eye of Science and focus instead on the beam in its own eye. There are a pile of silver-bullet arguments against Christianity that it needs to resolve, each of which are arguably enough to sink it.

And finally, I can’t let these challenges go without brief responses.

  • What does “the universe came into existence by itself” mean? If you’re saying that things don’t come into existence without a cause, that’s probably not true. And show me that the consensus of cosmologists is that it came from nothing. (I respond to William Lane Craig’s Kalam cosmological argument here.) If you think that the universe couldn’t have come from nothing, justify Christianity’s claim that God did it.
  • The only opinion I have about the free will argument is that it’s a big topic about which I’ve read very little. “God created free will!” might be a tempting response for the Christian, but it’s groundless.
  • Morals come from evolution. (As an evolution denier, Shlemon is gleefully on the wrong side of the scientific consensus.) He is doubtless demanding to know where objective morality came from, to which I respond: first show us that objective morality exists. I see no reason to imagine that it does (more here, here, here, here).

As with the claim for unicorns, the skeptic has no burden of proof. That these puzzles have a natural explanation, like the countless things science has shown in the past, is the default. Religion has no track record for explaining reality.

Christian strategy exposed

Apologists admit quite a bit when they reveal this strategy. They want to attack because they can’t defend!

We see the same strategy with Creationism/ID. The Creationism argument is just a pile on of questions, challenges, and demands. Creationists don’t want to stand and defend their position because it’s not particularly defensible; they’d rather attack by mocking evolution and demanding answers to questions that have been answered a hundred times. The public often doesn’t know that, so this approach can be effective in a public debate, but it isn’t science. How do we know? Because if there were science behind it, Creationists would publish in scientific journals!

What does it say about their position that they must resort to rhetorical tricks? It’s like pleading the Fifth Amendment (that is, asserting your right to not incriminate yourself)—you’re admitting that your position is weak or embarrassing. If they had compelling evidence, they’d give it.

And when in this process do they plan on sharing the Good News? Koukl’s stratagem seems to be designed to remove the Christian from the opportunity (predicament?) of evangelizing. The burden of proof is (incredibly) a burden.

If your argument is weak, dancing around to avoid engaging head-on might be a good option, but a better one might be to admit that you’ve lost the argument. That might be the first step to putting together a worldview that is defensible.

Concluded with some final observations in part 4.

I conclude [that this fallacious reasoning]
must be a product of a brain unsatisfied with doubt;
as nature abhors a vacuum,
so, too, does the brain abhor no explanation.
It therefore fills in one, no matter how unlikely.
— Michael Shermer

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Image from Lance Goyke, CC license

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  • Wan Kun Sandy

    Because if there were science behind it, Creationists would publish in scientific journals!

    They cannot do real science that they have to impersonate it by their own “Creation Science” and publish their analysis musings in “Creation journals”. They even have attempted to infiltrate mainstream scientific journals on occasion, using dirty tactics. Examples:

    https://ncse.ngo/creationism-slips-peer-reviewed-journal

    https://www.whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/creationist-paper-gets-into-a-springer-journal/

    https://www.gizmodo.com/science-journal-publishes-creationist-paper-science-co-1762677821/

    It shows how disingenuous and dishonest they are.

    • RichardSRussell

      Let’s call out the deceitfully self-proclaimed “Discovery” Institute for what it truly is: an oxymoronic propaganda mill masquerading as a research facility but completely dedicated to pushing the dominionist dogma of “intelligent design” as if it were real science. What has it ever actually discovered since it was founded in 1990? Nothing! That’s because it employs no scientists, operates no laboratories, conducts no experiments, sponsors no colloquia, publishes no papers, and has no intention of ever ever ever submitting its hypotheses for peer review.

      • What has it ever actually discovered since it was founded in 1990? Nothing!

        They’ve discovered that their money is best spent on PR aimed at the American public. They’ve lost the science battle.

        • Jim Jones

          > They’ve discovered that their money is best spent on PR aimed at the American public.

          And also that their money is best spent on potential donors.

        • Steven Watson

          Aren’t the donors meant to be spending money on them? /s Not that I’m suprised, they give stupid a bad name.

        • Jim Jones

          When you buy a politician’s ‘friendship’ you get a payback of about 750 to 1. It may be a similar ration here.

  • Wan Kun Sandy

    Shlemon says that atheists must explain (1) how the universe came into existence by itself and how it came from nothing, (2) how free will can exist, and (3) where morals come from.

    Wow, how many ways is this wrong? First, atheists don’t claim these things. Ignoring the inept wording, if you’re saying that these are things for which modern society is trying to explain, sure. By why is this any particular burden on the person who has no god belief? Sigh . . . the old kindergarten try.

    In my opinion, religion’s position has been reinforced for so long that those concepts are like taken for granted as very important, and it has largely provided the “answers” to those questions for so long too. So, when atheists remove the “god answers”, religionists see them as having to replace those “answers” that have been provided by religion for those questions, and since those questions are deemed oh-so-important, in their eyes atheists must answer them. So they view that atheists also have the “burden” to provide answers to replace the religious answers. They don’t understand that those are not “answers”, rather claims, and as Bob says, if we play along and treat those as valid questions, “we don’t know” is a reasonable answer, especially if we are yet to have the means to investigate the real situation. Many Christians don’t do well on the unknown or the bleak, they’d rather have answers than nothing. Let’s also not forget that Christians very often make strawman of those outside of their tribe, supposing that those outsiders must have the same way of thinking as them. That’s why they often say “atheism is a religion” and operate on the paradigm of the Law of Conservation of Worship (i.e. all people, including atheists, must worship something; in case of atheists, instead of god, they worship other things, maybe such as reason, humanity, hobby, etc.)

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Exactly. The problem for theists’ rational is that realizing an answer is wrong (or at least unsupported) and finding the correct answer are distinct; the former does not necessitate the latter.

  • eric

    (2) is only a conundrum for atheists who think libertarian free will exists. There are both “determinist” and “compatibilist’ camps that think it doesn’t, and thus for them, (2) is a non-problem. Though if Mr. Schlemon wants to ask the compatibilists how their non-libertarian concept of free will works, I won’t stand in his way.

    But aside from that quibble, yeah, there’s nothing wrong with “I don’t know” for all three questions. There’s no cosmic law that requires the workings of the universe be explicable to humans. Maybe they all will be – if so, great! But maybe they won’t, and humanity will have to make do with a partial understanding for the species’ entire run. C’est la vie.

    Some Christians are fond of saying the bible is not a science textbook. And they seem to be fine with that. Well, what’s sauce for the goose…atheism is not a science textbook, either. Atheists (in general) are fine with that.

    • Treyarnon

      True, (2) is also a conundrum for certain types of Calvinists who deny libertarian free will to preserve the sovereignty of God, which rather undercuts that apologetic claim. They resort to “determinist” and “compatibilist”definitions just as some Atheists do.

  • Jim Jones

    > But let’s play along. Shlemon says that atheists must explain …

    We can’t because you can’t comment on his posts. I take that as his admission of failure./

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Reminds me of that scene in “Interesting Times” where Rincewind is being questioned by the Ruler and every time he opens his mouth to answer , his guard yells “SILENCE!”

    • A very good clue indeed. Anyone can win a monologue.

      • eric

        Oh, I bet he scores some own goals…

  • Castilliano

    Right off the bat, you nailed it since “I don’t know” beats “unsupported explanation” in most books.
    Done. False premise that I must supply (and presumably defend) a proposition unrelated to the concept of whether or not I believe in gods.

    But I also can address his questions, both with questions and answers.

    1. Q: When was there nothing? Who’s proposed there was absolute nothing?
    or A: There’s always been something, even if just quantum foam, virtual particles, & leptogenesis.

    2. Q: Which version of free will? (Often enough to display it’s just a buzzword w/ little meaning.)
    or When and how was it established that we had free will?

    or A: I do not believe absolute free will exists. I do not believe we are truly free, and accept the uncomfortable ramifications that has upon our sense of justice and mercy.

    3. Q: What makes an action moral? (While a basic question, it often leads to either a definition that can be explained via naturalism (empathy & reason) or which inserts their god (a form of morality I deny existing to begin with.)
    or Can you demonstrate an objective morality, as in one that would exist without human thought? Mind you, shared beliefs point toward intersubjectivity, not objectivity.

    or A: Empathy & reason. Morality is a social construct based on personal opinions, and I accept the uncomfortable ramification that has. Also, there are many behaviors and actions we take, which naturally each of us places along a personal scale of “good” to “bad”. Being human, our judgments mostly agree, yet we also disagree so there’s no reason to suppose an objective source.

    Bonus ones for when he shifts gears:

    Transcendent concepts are just concepts. Logic is formalized, descriptive language keyed to how reality function. Laws are descriptive, not prescriptive. And yes, I can feel awe, wonder, and gratitude without a higher power involved.

  • Michael Neville

    (1) how the universe came into existence by itself and how it came from nothing,

    1.a. We (and we includes Shelmon) don’t know if the universe came into existence by itself.

    1.b. Shelmon needs to define “nothing” rigorously.

    (2) how free will can exist

    2. Shelmon needs to define “free will” and then show that it exists.

    (3) where morals come from.

    3. This one is easy, we evolved morals. If Shelmon thinks otherwise then he has to (a) refute the evolution of morals and (b) justify whatever source he posits instead.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Ok Xtians, explain where invisible rainbow farts come from if not from the &#8203ass of unicorns? Explain how the voices in my head ONLY recite lyrics by Pink Floyd if there is no Dark of the Moon where we all eventually end up. Explain why most green martians are lesbian even though they have 4 genders. Go ahead, ball is in your court.

    (I like this game, it fun)

  • Polytropos

    If we have to explain how the universe came into existence, apologists have to explain how god came into existence. That’s only fair. It’s worth reflecting on the fact that a lot of leading physicists have put a lot of time and thought into working out hypotheses for how our universe came into existence, whereas I’m not aware of any apologist who has ever seriously tackled the question of where god came from.

    • Michael Neville

      The answer to that is that the Abrahamist gods* are “eternal” and various bits of the Bible are quoted (Psalm 90:2, Deut 32:40, 1 Tim 1:17, Rev 10:6) that say so.

      *While an argument is made that the Jewish, Christian and Islamic gods are the same god, these three gods have different attributes, so they’re not really the same god.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Fair enough. So what caused god to have the attributes that he does?

      • Steven Watson

        Eternal with reference to… What exactly? The word appears to be meaningless without reference to the universe.

        • Michael Neville

          That’s an excellent question to which I have no good answer.

        • Steven Watson

          You might not have good answer but you have the best answer. Have an internetz.

  • Joe_Buddha

    What’s this “free will” these folx are talking about? If God knows everything you’re going to do (which many believe) and you can’t do anything else, your free will is an illusion. Speaking as a Buddhist. 😉

    • RichardSRussell

      I behave as if I have free will because, really, what choice do I have?

      • Michael Neville

        ISWYDT.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      If things are deterministic and choices were made at the origin of time, you can reconcile omniscience and free will.

      The problem is that this limits god to mere voyeur. As soon as he sticks his finger into our reality knowing how the ripples will unfold, free will us lost.

      Of course, the bigger problem is god’s omniscience and his own free will. Those cannot be reconciled by any amount of tsp dancing or mental gymnastics.

    • Lord Backwater

      Many atheist philosophers do not believe in free will. Some do, but frequently you will find they admit that by the usual definition, the concept is clearly absurd; but since we all ‘know’ it exists let’s make up a new definition and defend that instead. (I’m looking at you Daniel Dennett)

      As for Christians, “free will” is so important to Christian theology that the term appears precisely zero times in teh Bible (KJV), and YHWH, the tribal god of the Jews who was later re-purposed as the omni-God of Western Christianity frequently violated free will, such as when He ‘hardened the heart’ of Pharaoh in order that He could show off by killing more animals and people. (Exod 7,8,9,10,11,14)

      • MR

        Yes, I’ve always found the appeal to free will as one that grasps at straws so that “I can continue to have an excuse to believe.” Just like abortion, it’s not not something that is actually in the Bible.

        • Greg G.

          I have seen churches with that in their names, like “Free Will Baptist Church”. Now they may have changed it recently to take out the word “Baptist”. There’s a lot of that going around.

  • RichardSRussell

    Christianity has been around for 2000 years, during which time it’s been exposed to countless challenges and has had plenty of time to come up with responses to them all. You probably can’t think of a single question for Christianity that it doesn’t already have an answer to. Some of them are even right.

    • Jim Jones

      > Some of them are even right.

      Like, “Is it OK to add things like cheese to bread when you eat it?”

      • Greg G.

        Christianity a religion that will let you eat a bacon cheeseburger. Most religions are OK with lamb-burgers, I think.

        • Steven Watson

          Whiskey and Lamb-burgers as Communion. JC is the Water of Life and Lamb of God. Contracting congregation problem solved.

      • epeeist

        Like, “Is it OK to add things like cheese to bread when you eat it?”

        Would that be cheese or American “cheese”?

        • Greg G.

          “American cheese” is embarrassing. Why not call it “desperation cheese”? It is fake cheese for people who don’t like cheese.

        • Anytime somebody talks about American cheese, I’m reminded of this Simpsons scene:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMR8a8nCM4c

          “I think I’m blind”

        • Michael Neville

          American “cheese” has the same relationship to real cheese as a wax apple does to an apple from a tree. American “cheese” is produced in the dark, Satanic “cheese” mills of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin:

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D_0DJiNVAAAd8lO.jpg

        • epeeist

          Real cheese is made a few miles up the road from me – https://www.wensleydale.co.uk/

          It goes extremely well with a slice of (un-iced) Christmas cake.

        • Greg G.

          Uh-oh, I feel a Monty Python sketch coming on again.

          Customer: Uuuuuh, Wensleydale.

          Owner: Yes?

          Customer: Ah, well, I’ll have some of that!

          Owner: Oh! I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mister Wensleydale, that’s my name.

        • epeeist

          Uh-oh, I feel a Monty Python sketch coming on again.

          I feel extracts coming on – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RmT094XH9g

        • Michael Neville

          Wensleydale is a good cheese. I’m not familar with Christmas cake, however every year in September I make Christmas pudding which sits in the pantry until Christmas day. Hard sauce, made with rum, goes particularly well with Christmas pudding.

        • epeeist

          I’m not familar with Christmas cake

          It is supposedly a rich fruit cake, but in actuality is dried fruit bound together with a minimal amount of cake mix. I make mine in October and feed them with a few spoonfuls of spirit each week, this year I used some spiced rum.

        • Jim Jones

          Real, real cheese is made in New Zealand.

        • Michael Neville

          The only thing that comes out of Noo Zilund is orcs. This is Reginald Halkgug, the Senior Vice President-Marketing for Fonterra Co-Operative Group, the largest dairy exporter in Noo Zilund:

          https://i.imgur.com/NXtDGx9.jpg

        • Jim Jones

          Tui Tasty Cheddar.

        • Huh–orcs clean up pretty good.

        • Lex Lata

          Easy, now. My younger son was born in Oconomowoc, which is a perfectly lovely little town. Good fishing, great comic book shop. Plus a Culver’s.

          But I agree American cheese is an abomination and blight on the human experience–the Neverending Story 2 of dairy products.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m familiar with Oconomowoc, it’s a middle-class suburb of Milwaukee. I grew up in Oshkosh so I know about places like Oconomowoc, as well as Sheyboygan, Pestigo and Wauwautosa.

        • Lex Lata

          Small world! We lived in Oshkosh for several years. And yeah, Wisconsin has way more than its fair share of place names that are fun to say.

        • epeeist

          We have Oswaldtwistle and Mytholmroyd. The latter is down the hill from Slack Bottom.

        • I’m a fun date. On our honeymoon, I took my wife to the National Hollerin’ Contest in Lizard Lick, North Carolina.

        • epeeist

          I used to live in Menai Bridge on Anglesey. I turned right to get to my cottage once you crossed the bridge. If you turned left you ended up in this village.

        • That’s a nice counterexample to the idea that only German has the long words.

        • epeeist

          Total aside, has Ed had a warning as yet? Not only does he lie constantly, if he is picked up on his lies he simply resets and repeats them as though nothing has been said.

        • MR

          And I noticed Don Camp set himself up to siphon off readers to his own site promoting a five-part nonsense-fest. It’s tiring watching the worst of the worst constantly &#8203shit all over this blog. The honest ones always end up leaving, and the worst liars for Jesus always end up dominating. It’s just not interesting anymore.

        • epeeist

          It’s tiring watching the worst of the worst constantly ​shit all over this blog.

          Unfortunately it is unlikely that any but the bigots and liars will ever come to the blog and stay. Take Ed (I used to think that this was a name but now I regard it as an initialism for “Extremely dishonest), Don and Jesse H as examples. All here to evangelise not to engage and none of them remotely interested in the truth.

          My only positive is that there are almost certainly more lurkers than posters and that the latter will take note of and be repulsed by their tactics.

        • MR

          I’m not convinced of that. I think there’s a point of diminishing returns that was likely passed months ago.

        • Pofarmer

          The problem is, the U.S. is stuffed full of them.

        • Good question. I’m not sure. Are you saying that Ed has run out of usefulness?

        • epeeist

          Are you saying that Ed has run out of usefulness?

          That rather assumes that he was useful in the first place.

          But yes, for example in this response to me he makes claims on the position held by Hofstadter and Nagel. Subsequent posts reveal that he has nothing to support this. However he then repeats the same claim to Greg G several days later.

          As for his claim that “But at time =0, there is no time for a quantum event to occur.” in this post to you, to my knowledge he has repeated this at least three times.

          There are many other examples of his inability to back up what he says, misquoting of sources and general dishonesty.

        • Thanks for the feedback. I’ve initiated proceedings.

          Surely he’ll become useful now. Or something.

        • epeeist

          Surely he’ll become useful now.

          And yet he hasn’t. A while back he raised the idea of string theory and multiple dimensions of time, needless to say he couldn’t support it and eventually was forced into admitting that he might, just possibly have misread the paper that he referenced.

          Yet, here is again making the same point as though nothing had been said.

        • Thanks.

        • epeeist

          And he is doing yet again, in this post he simply repeats something he was caned on a month back.

        • Greg G.

          My wife took second place last year in that contest a-hollerin’ at me from Ohio.

        • Jim Jones

          It could be fake cheese even. Dollar Tree sells some which I quite edible.

        • Steven Watson

          Cheesus Christ On A Crutch.

    • rationalobservations?

      There is no historical trace of “Jesus” or any messianic cult of “Jesus” that originates from within what only became known as the “1st” century during what at the same time became known as the “8th” century.

      The Roman religion they called christianity was cobbled together and brutally imposed upon the world in the 4th century.

      Ignore the myths, legends and lies and research the tangible evidence!

      • RichardSRussell

        So you’re saying that Saul/Paul didn’t live during the 1st Century, either? Citation, please.

        • Bob Jase

          Which Paul? The Paul in Acts has a different backstory than the one in the highly edited & interpolated & mostly pseudographical epistles. And some evidence for the claims made in these variously authored writings would be nice, other than anonymous later developed legends.

        • RichardSRussell

          Come on, guys, you’d have us believe that nothing remotely resembling Christianity occurred in the 1st Century, that it was all made up by some unnamed and dubiously motivated Roman conspirators centuries later? I have a healthy respect for the extent to which legends and myth-making were occurring at the time, but this seems too far over the top to swallow unless you’ve got some solid scholarship to back it up.

          Burden of proof, and all that.

        • rationalobservations?

          The first and early second centuries appears to have been a hotbed of rebellion and a breeding ground of messiah claimants and messianic cults. The only one of which that left us significant historical evidence is “Simon Christ” (Simon bar Kokchba). There is not a single historical trace of any messiah claimant named “Yeshua/Jesus” and no trace of a messianic cult following anyone of that name or anything similar.

          Religionists would have us believe that a cult of “Jesus” existed and that the most newsworthy events surrounded a cult leader /radical preacher / worker of magic of that name – but no one can explain the utter, total and complete absence of a single shred of evidence in support of the centuries later written and then almost endlessly re-re-re-re-re-written, edited, amended myths and legends.

          https://i0.wp.com/restlesspilgrim.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sinai.jpg?w=960&ssl=1
          https://stern255.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/ehrman.png

        • Bob Jase

          Jesus is a name, Christ is a title Titles can be attached to anyone with any name, This simple fact has been ignored, unknown &/or forgotten for centuries as believers have confabulated the name Jesus with the title Christ when they originally were two separate things.

          Just look how Frankenstein became the name of the monster and not its creator in less than a generation.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus is a name, Christ is a title Titles can be attached to anyone with any name,

          Names and titles can be attached to imaginary people just as easily.

        • rationalobservations?

          There were many historical “Messiah/christ” claimants between around 8BCE and 149CE. There is no historical trace of a Yeshua/Jesus among them.

        • Greg G.

          Paul in Acts is certainly fiction. The epistles are edited and interpolated and some are forged. But there is a backbone to them that help explain the development of the idea of a first century Jesus.

          The early Epistles do not refer to a preacher/teacher from Galilee nor his teachings. All of the references to Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, mostly the Septuagint, so they do not appear to have thought there was a recent Jesus.

          The Epistle of James seems to be a response to Galatians and the Epistle to the Romans appears to respond to the arguments in James and 1 Corinthians appears to have some references to James, too.

          The author of Mark appears to have invented the first century Jesus using some of Paul’s letters, Josephus’ Jewish Wars, Homer’s epics, a version of the Septuagint, Vespasian propaganda, and other literature of the day for a story for Romans. I think John used Mark. Matthew used Mark, got ideas from John, and used Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities for the nativity stories. The “eye-witness accounts” Luke mentioned were probably those three, but he used Antiquities and Josephus’ biography, too, and relied heavily on Deuteronomy for the trip to Jerusalem where he deviates from the Markan outline.

          I suspect Mark was written during the Vespasian dynasty when the propaganda would be fresh in the minds of his intended readers. The Mark we have might be the expurgated version of what Clement (?) may have called “Secret Mark”. They may have scrubbed almost everything that John and Matthew didn’t use.

        • rationalobservations?

          “Paul in Acts is certainly fiction. The epistles are edited and interpolated and some are forged. But there is a backbone to them that help explain the development of the idea of a first century Jesus.”
          What evidence can you present that supports these presumptions and assumptions?

        • Greg G.

          What evidence can you present that supports these presumptions and assumptions?

          The words, phrases, and concepts presented in the texts.

          The letters of Paul only say things about Jesus that can be found in the OT, nothing about a first century Jesus. The Gospel of Mark has ideas from other writings and puts Jesus in the early first century. Other gospels make Jesus divine from the beginning. There is a progression going on there.

        • rationalobservations?

          So you claim the texts somehow validate the texts regardless of the total and complete absence of tangible historical evidence?

          Do you consider that the text of “War of the World’s” confirms an historical invasion from Mars and the Harry Potter books confirm magic and a school for wizards.

        • Greg G.

          So you claim the texts somehow validate the texts regardless of the total and complete absence of tangible historical evidence?

          Of course. A copy implies an original. The formatting of the Codex Sinaiticus shows planning, like they anticipated how many pages they would need which implies they had a previously written copy which is not in evidence and probably no longer exists. The question is how far back that goes.

          They included the Septuagint which we know goes back long before the Codex Sinaiticus. If they had a previous copy of that, then it is likely they had previous copies of all the other books of the New Testament.

          Do you consider that the text of “War of the World’s” confirms an historical invasion from Mars and the Harry Potter books confirm magic and a school for wizards.

          Of course not, nor do I think the previously written New Testament manuscripts have anything to do with a real Jesus of Nazareth or a real Jesus Christ.

          Our only fυcking disagreement is when the fυcking shιt was written. The inconsistencies of the manuscripts lead me to believe the writings developed over time so they were not all conceived together in a short period by a single group.

          You can believe whatever you want to believe. If you want me to see it your way, you will have to come up with something better than being dumbfounded that papyrus writings are not indestructible.

        • rationalobservations?

          The facts are:
          1) No historical trace of any kind has ever been discovered regarding the existence and centuries later written extant bibles.
          2) The oldest bibles were written by men in the 4th century.
          3) The oldest bibles differ from the KJv in over 14,800 ways.

          All else is evidence devoid speculation assumptions and suppositions.

        • Greg G.

          FACT: I told you, “If you want me to see it your way, you will have to come up with something better than being dumbfounded that papyrus writings are not indestructible.”

          FACT: There are manuscripts that are collections of NT books that are older than the oldest bibles.

          3) The oldest bibles differ from the KJv in over 14,800 ways.

          That might be because the versions of the NT books were already diverse by the time the Codex Sinaiticus was copied. The KJV was not translated from the Sinaiticus. The KJV didn’t have Greek manuscripts for all the books of the Bible so they used Latin translations.

        • rationalobservations?

          You finally appear to agree with me on the long and slow human “guided” and human fabricated evolution of bibles that I have been reporting upon for at least a decade.

          It is interesting to note that KJV is an “interpretation” of Jesus myths and legends fabricated after Sinaiticus making them part of the re-re-re-re-interpretation I observe myself.

          It is telling that there is no historical trace of any Jesus based cult(s) from within the 1st century and that any oblique references to a “Jesus” appear to come into existence for the first time after the only “Messiah” acclaimed in Rabbinical circles lived and was killed by Rome in the second century.

          I find it puzzling that one or two of us appear to “argue” in such broad agreement?

          Best wishes to you and yours.

        • Greg G.

          You finally appear to agree with me on the long and slow human “guided” and human fabricated evolution of bibles that I have been reporting upon for at least a decade.

          It is what I have been saying all along and you keep arguing against what I say.

          It is interesting to note that KJV is an “interpretation” of Jesus myths and legends fabricated after Sinaiticus making them part of the re-re-re-re-interpretation I observe myself.

          [Oops. Hit the wrong button here.]

          The Sinaiticus was unknown to Europeans until the 1800s. The KJV was done in the 1500s using other manuscripts, including substituting the Latin Vulgate for books they didn’t have Greek sources for, and they called it the Textus Receptus. When scholars got access to the Codex Vaticanus, they were shocked at all the differences.

          It is telling that there is no historical trace of any Jesus based cult(s) from within the 1st century and that any oblique references to a “Jesus” appear to come into existence for the first time after the only “Messiah” acclaimed in Rabbinical circles lived and was killed by Rome in the second century.

          Josephus tells us that the Jews were seeing “signs” that they interpreted as messages from Yahweh that the Messiah was coming, which emboldened them to take on the Roman army. He also says they were using the idea to get the soldiers to not give up until the final days of the sage of Jerusalem.

          I find it puzzling that one or two of us appear to “argue” in such broad agreement?

          Best wishes to you and yours.

          That’s what I have said multiple times.

          I wish you health, wealth, and happiness in the new Asian year.

        • rationalobservations?

          Q. What historical evidence validates the texts?
          Your answer: “The words, phrases, and concepts presented in the texts.”

          The texts validate the texts. (“The content of my version of bible validates the content of my version of bible”)

          That is circular non-logic and non-argument of the most ridiculous nature that I expect from a religionist but am surprised and disappointed to find you descending to, Greg.

          https://wp-media.patheos.com/subdomain/sites/8/2016/03/TheBibleSaysPig.jpg

        • Greg G.

          The texts validate the texts. (“The content of my version of bible validates the content of my version of bible”)

          You are missing the point, AGAIN! I am not using the content of the texts to validate what is described, but to identify the content’s source, comparing the styles and habits to identify texts written by the same author and when the author is referencing other writings. It’s in the subtext.

          The oldest manuscript gives the latest possible date for when the text was written. You are taking that as the earliest possible date. You are doing it all bass ackwards.

        • rationalobservations?

          It is you who appear to miss the point, Greg.
          I refer to the actual tangible evidence while you reference the assumptions, presumptions and suppositions of those religionists who seek to excuse the utter, total and complete absence of evidence by offering excuses that are not evidence supported.

          Based upon what actual, authentic tangible and original evidence do you base your assumption: “The oldest manuscript gives the latest possible date for when the text was written.”?

        • Greg G.

          I refer to the actual tangible evidence

          You are still missing the point. You are only focused on the tangible and you ignore what the tangible evidence tells us. It’s like you are doing a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle and you keep asking for evidence that the other 450 pieces are missing.

          P46 is an early third century manuscript (200-225) with several epistles arranged by size. Hebrews is after Romans. Romans, the Corinthians, and Galatians are written in a similar style and content consistent with being written by the same person but Hebrews is not like those, so it appears to be written by someone else. Colossians and Ephesians are in there but many question them being authentically Pauline because of style. So these were probably actually sent to different places and had to have copies collected for this manuscript. That some are not by the same person who wrote Romans means the author was so well-known, he was worth forging an epistle or nine. That indicates a history for the writings from before the time that the manuscript was written.

          You are missing so much. I am not trying to change you. You have said all you have to say. Let it go.

        • rationalobservations?

          I AM aware of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri and have referenced it many times. I am also aware of the Papyri conserved within the University of Michigan Collection.
          Papyrus P46 has been claimed (by mostly unqualified religionists) to be one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts in Greek, written on papyrus, with its ‘most probable date’ between 175 and 225. Some recent and more advanced forensic science has been applied to the papyri collections and especially P52 and P46 as they are claimed to be the oldest.

          As I repeatedly observe: Even if mid to late prototype legends of “Jesus” can be validated. It is not EVIDENCE of the existence of a god-man/messiah claimant of which historical evidence is conspicuously absent from any time near the time in which the legends are merely set.

          see:
          https://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?url=article&id=2957937&journal_code=ETL
          and
          https://vridar.org/2013/03/08/new-date-for-that-st-johns-fragment-rylands-library-papyrus-p52/7
          and
          https://www.lib.umich.edu/reading/Paul/

        • Greg G.

          I am trying to find a list of the sites where ancient New Testament manuscripts have been discovered. When I find the origin of one, it is either Egypt, the Sinai, or Qumran, which is on a high and dry plateau. Even the Codex Vaticanus is thought to have come from Egypt or the Sinai. Do you have a reference for that information?

          If early Christianity and their writings spread in other places where it rained fairly often, it would be stupid to expect the papyrus to have lasted more than a century.

        • rationalobservations?

          The thing is that it’s not just the total, absolute and complete nonexistence of written texts that include any reference to a god-man named “Yeshu/Yeshua/Jesus” – there is no historical trace of such an apparently famous / notorious individual as described in diverse and very different legends written centuries after the time i which they are merely back dated and in which they are merely set.

          No texts letters or chronicles of the time mention “Jesus”.
          No inscription includes reference to “Jesus”.
          No artefact references “Jesus”.
          Not even 1st century originated graffito mentions “Jesus”.

          Add to the absence of a single item of authentic and original historical evidence that confusion and endless contradiction within the centuries later written and endlessly re-re-re-re-written legends of “Jesus” and it is little wonder that so many among this current living generation find nothing to believe in within that brand of religionism? Those of us who have researched other brands find nothing to believe in there either.

        • In your opinion, what are the earliest evidence(s) for Jesus or Christianity? Presumably, you’d give me the date of the writing of an original plus the date of our oldest surviving copies.

          I think in the past you’ve said Sinaiticus. But that ignores the second-century copies.

        • Greg G.

          I think Jesus is a myth. I wouldn’t expect there to be first century evidence of his existence.

          The Pauline epistles are similar to the Jewish beliefs before the war with Rome, according to Jewish Wars. Paul appears to argue with James about faith vs works. Neither say anything about thinking Jesus was a first century person. James barely mentions Jesus, only as being a servant to a god thingy. Paul mentions “Jesus”, “Christ”, and both combinations hundreds of times but always in OT terms, not as first hand, eye witness accounts. Paul even says his knowledge was not inferior to the superapostles’ knowledge. Paul didn’t see Jesus, so he must have known the “superapostles” didn’t either. You shouldn’t read the gospels back into the epistles. The early epistles don’t talk about a first century Jesus. They do not hurt your case no matter when they were written.

          The gospels are clearly fiction. They do not support a first century Jesus. It doesn’t matter when they were written.

          The Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus are quite different, more than if one was a recent copy of the other. That indicates that the sources they used were copies of copies of copies of copies that diverged with every reproduction. That is evidence that the original manuscripts were written long before the Sinaiticus. The CS and the CV were apparently kept in the desert. That is why they lasted longer than the older copies.

        • rationalobservations?

          What?
          No!
          I am observing that there is no actual tangible authentic and original first century originated historical evidence of the existence of “Saul/Paul” or “Jesus”.

        • Lark62

          Lucian of Samosata mocked Christians as gullible and easily scammed circa 160CE.

          Christians existed in the 2nd century.

        • rationalobservations?

          Authentic and original, 2nd century originated historical evidence of your claims is required.

          Centuries later written legends and fables are not EVIDENCE.

        • Lark62

          What? Lucian of Samosata is a 2nd century writer who mentioned Christians in his writing.

          This and dozens of similar mentions do not mean christianity is accurate. But it does prove christians existed.

        • Bob Jase

          But were they REAL Christians?

          They could have been Docetists, Adoptionists, Montanists, Marcianites, Gnostics, apollonarians, Arianites or any of the hundredss of other heretical (according to the RCC( who the thousands of Protestant versions consider heretics)?

        • Greg G.

          What is a “REAL Christian”?

          If the RCC had realized that Epistle Jesus is nothing like Gospel Jesus and that the gospels were based on Greek and Hebrew literature of the day, they would have labeled Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John as heretics.

        • Greg G.

          You pretty much have to have the original written by Lucian and a chain of possession before ro? will accept it. The earliest evidence he accepts in the Codex Sinaiticus.

        • rationalobservations?

          You assume that originals of the many centuries later texts merely attributed to “Lucian” actually exist/existed?
          Assumptions and presumptions do not represent historical evidence and there is no historical evidence of any kind.

          Sinaiticus exists and it’s contents condemn all later written bibles as further propaganda.
          No historical evidence supports the content of Sinaiticus which is significantly different from the content of bibles in circulation today.
          These are the simple facts that no one has, or can ever contradict through the presentation of tangible, authentic and compelling original historical evidence.

          You KNOW this, Greg.

        • Greg G.

          The formatting of the copies we have are a clue that the writing is not a first draft. So we know that the original was written at some time prior to the existent manuscript. It is just a matter of how long before the copy was made that the text was actually written.

          The Codex Sinaiticus contains has OT writings in it along with NT writings. We have writings that show the OT writings existed long before the Codex Sinaiticus. Reading the NT writings, we can see that there were many different writers with many different ideas, some in conflict with one another. This should be a clue to you that those writings came long before the Sinaiticus copyists did their work.

          Most things that were written to be shared across distances were written on papyrus for easy transport. Papyrus does not last for centuries unless kept very dry. Moisture in the air can cause it to decay. We should not expect or demand them to last to the present day unless they were buried in Egypt or continuously stored indoors.

          There are copies that are credibly dated to the second century. An explanation for that is that there were many copies in different places and a few of them happened to be in a place where they didn’t completely decay.

          Your demands for such evidence is as irrational as a creationist asking for fossils of the first biological cells.

        • rationalobservations?

          “The formatting of the copies we have are a clue that the writing is not a first draft.”
          Since there is no one single trace of an actual authentic and original, 1st century originated “first draft” from which to compare the oldest 4th century human written NT bible or any of the significantly different bibles that have been written by men since the 4th century – your assumptions, presumptions and suppositions remain unsupported by evidence.

          “…So we know that the original was written at some time prior to the existent manuscript.”
          More assumptions, presumptions and suppositions that remains unsupported by evidence. We know only the extant texts and can only treat them as the originals in the absence of any earlier versions.

          We also know that no historical trace of “Yeshua/Jesus” from within the 1st century has ever been discovered.
          No letter mentions “Jesus”.
          No text mentions “Jesus”.
          No artefact references “Jesus”.
          Not even 1st century originated graffito mentions “Jesus”.
          Non-Jesus “messiahs” (later translated/interpreted into Greek as “christs”) – YES
          “Jesus” (Yeshua) and any reference to a cult of “Jesus”? NO

          “The Codex Sinaiticus contains has OT writings in it along with NT writings. We have writings that show the OT writings existed long before the Codex Sinaiticus.”
          The OT texts are not relevant to the nonexistence of historical evidence of the existence and exploits of “Jesus”. The utter, total and complete absence of evidence of and for Hebrew tribes, Hebrew slaves, “exodus”, a “city of David”, “Moses” and David himself have been discussed elsewhere. The historically unsupported and historically inaccurate NT content of Sinaiticus and absence of significant texts similar to NT Sinaiticus are the facts under contention and no in has so far offered any authentic and original historical evidence in support and validation of Sinaiticus or any of the diverse and very different NT bibles written by men since the 4th century fabrication of Sinaiticus.

          “This should be a clue to you that those writings came long before the Sinaiticus copyists did their work.”
          It is logical to assume that Sinaiticus was based upon previous myths and legends that arose between the 2nd and 4th centuries. Some 600+ diverse and different messiah fables are considered to have existed and/or have been referenced including tales of the baby “messiah” flying around his mother’s head and others apparently have him killing dragons. All is speculation however and the evidence supported facts remain factual.

          “Papyrus does not last for centuries unless kept very dry.”
          Of course. You do have a habit of overstating the bl**dy obvious.!
          That is why many of the ancients are recorded upon clay tablets, lead sheets, inscriptions upon stones and artefacts. This is also why I continually reference the utter, total and complete absence of a single item of evidence of the existence of “Jesus” that can be dated to origination within the time in which the centuries later (extant) texts are back dated to and in which they are merely set.

          “Your demands for such evidence is as irrational as a creationist asking for fossils of the first biological cells.”
          Really?

          The age of the Earth is about 4.54 billion years; the earliest undisputed evidence of life on Earth dates from at least 3.5 billion years ago.There is evidence that life began in the earlier part of this one billion year range.
          Ref: https://www.journals.elsevier.com/precambrian-research/

          Within the past decade or two – puzzling “patterns” upon many of the world’s oldest rocks have been recognised as the microscopic fossilised remains of the oldest and most primitive life forms ever discovered.

          https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/8/21/1313943357847/Fossil-microbes-from-Stre-007.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-align=bottom%2Cleft&overlay-width=100p&overlay-base64=L2ltZy9zdGF0aWMvb3ZlcmxheXMvdGctYWdlLTIwMTEucG5n&enable=upscale&s=b18c74a53f413f0a6c18dd254b4c3b99

        • Greg G.

          Since there is no one single trace of an actual authentic and original, 1st century originated “first draft” from which to compare the oldest 4th century human written NT bible or any of the significantly different bibles that have been written by men since the 4th century – your assumptions, presumptions and suppositions remain unsupported by evidence.

          Now you are back to this argument again. Just yesterday you said:

          You finally appear to agree with me on the long and slow human “guided” and human fabricated evolution of bibles that I have been reporting upon for at least a decade.
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2020/01/who-has-the-burden-of-proof-apparently-not-the-christian-3-of-4/#comment-4775325155

          You are arguing to be arguing and you don’t even consider who you are arguing against. Why bring up first century arguments about Jesus? I argue that Jesus is a myth.

          If you want to argue with me, argue where we disagree. The Codex Sinaiticus was kept in the Sinai Desert, so it is not likely to have rotted away while other manuscripts were not kept there so they would rot away due to humidity. The Codex Vaticanus was probably kept in Egypt for a thousand years, too.

          Until you have an argument why there should be older surviving manuscripts lying all over the place, keep it to yourself.

        • rationalobservations?

          Oh the sad irony of your straw man non argument: “Until you have an argument why there should be older surviving manuscripts lying all over the place, keep it to yourself.”

          My observation that no evidence of any kind (not just texts!) regarding the existence and exploits of “Jesus” is based upon fact.

          Again:
          We also know that no historical trace of “Yeshua/Jesus” from within the 1st century has ever been discovered.
          No letter mentions “Jesus”.
          No text mentions “Jesus”.
          No artefact references “Jesus”.
          Not even 1st century originated graffito mentions “Jesus”.
          Non-Jesus “messiahs” (later translated/interpreted into Greek as “christs”) – YES
          “Jesus” (Yeshua) and any reference to a cult of “Jesus”? NO

        • Greg G.

          Why do you keep trying to argue this with me? Our only disagreement is your misunderstandings of terminus post quem and terminus ante quem.

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

        • rationalobservations?

          I am not “trying” to argue anything.
          I present the evidence supported facts while you offer only assumptions, presumptions and suppositions regarding the actual evidence supported facts.

          https://i0.wp.com/restlesspilgrim.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sinai.jpg?w=960&ssl=1

        • Greg G.

          There are 14,800 differences between the Codex Sinaiticus and the KJV. There are over 3000 differences between the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus in the gospels alone. This is all explained much better by accepting that two oldest Bibles were based on different lines of manuscripts that had diverged centuries earlier.

        • richardrichard2013

          https://www.academia.edu/41047528/The_Early_Papyri_Gospel-Parallel_Variants_and_the_Text_of_the_New_Testament_in_the_Second_Century?fbclid=IwAR0lKu-AAk7fzLhVb1NC5wzR_3LBpkZVm69inzfIaw6s8DYJ4noU67VJK74

          are you able to download this ? this guy seems to be saying that the earliest manuscripts have much more variants than the later ones. he says, i think that the revised form of mark has reached us, not the form available to mat and luke

        • rationalobservations?

          My only objection is to your assertion that there is evidence of manuscripts that had diverged centuries earlier.
          As previously mentioned with links – P52 and P46 have been dated recently as no earlier than the 3rd century and it is probable that the 4th century Roman “Jesus” cult religion was cobbled together from a vast and long list of god-man myths and legends that are so very similar to the legends and attributes of the apparently fictional “Jesus”.

          We still appear to be debating the hairsbreadth between interpretation of the evidence supported facts that there is no historical evidence in support of the “Jesus” cults religion or the ever changing “Jesus” myths, legends and fables?

          https://i1.wp.com/36.media.tumblr.com/de1f373a2f3a8ecfe11a70c6dde0ead2/tumblr_o3nch6g75k1rpw0zao1_1280.jpg

        • rationalobservations?

          You write: Now you are back to this argument again. Just yesterday you said: “You finally appear to agree with me on the long and slow human “guided” and human fabricated evolution of bibles that I have been reporting upon for at least a decade.””

          Yes. That has n=been qualified by the evidence that both christianity as it was cobbled together and the oldest bibles that were cobbled together date from the 4th century so far as tangible evidence is concerned.

          Recent dating of the fragments and scraps of papyrus that also exist indicates that they date from the third century at the earliest and some forensic analysis considers them to be nearer contemporaries to the 4th century and the Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

          The point you avoid at all costs to your credibility is that there is no evidence of any sort of the existence of “Jesus” or of any “Jesus” based cult from within the first century.

          Your speculation and recycled religionist propaganda fails in the face of the actual evidence and the absence of validating evidence.

          https://i0.wp.com/restlesspilgrim.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sinai.jpg?w=960&ssl=1

        • Greg G.

          The point you avoid at all costs to your credibility is that there is no evidence of any sort of the existence of “Jesus” or of any “Jesus” based cult from within the first century.

          That is not my position. How many times do I have to tell you that? I argue that Jesus is a myth all the time.

          You only argue from a lack of evidence. I argue that the evidence we have is positive evidence that Jesus was invented. I point out that everything Paul says about Jesus that is construed as a first century person is taken from the Old Testament verses so Paul is not referring to a first century Jesus. Paul says that he goes by what is written in the scriptures and we see that in his claims. When he talks about a revelation from the Lord, it is through the scriptures he is reading. Paul even claims that his knowledge in not inferior to the “super-apostles” which means he knows they didn’t know a first century Jesus either.

          Most of the other epistles are like that, too.

          I see that Mark uses mimesis to write his stories using Homeric epics, some of Paul’s writings, some Septuagint writings and Josephus’ Jewish Wars. Matthew uses Mark, John, James, the Septuagint, and Josephus’ Antiquities, Luke used the other gospels and their sources and used Josephus’ Antiquities and his autobiography a lot.

          That shows that the stories are invented.

        • rationalobservations?

          Your assertion that you are as convinced as I am that the fables of “Jesus” are fiction is gratifying.

          I am puzzled by this statement that appears to accept the existence of “Paul” when there is as little historical evidence of his existence as there is for “Jesus”?
          You write: “I point out that everything Paul says about Jesus that is construed as a first century person is taken from the Old Testament verses so Paul is not referring to a first century Jesus.”
          This assumes the existence of “Paul” while no actual, non biblical evidence of such a person appears to to exist.

          https://i1.wp.com/36.media.tumblr.com/de1f373a2f3a8ecfe11a70c6dde0ead2/tumblr_o3nch6g75k1rpw0zao1_1280.jpg

        • Greg G.

          I am puzzled by this statement that appears to accept the existence of “Paul” when there is as little historical evidence of his existence as there is for “Jesus”?

          Romans, the two Corinthians, and Galatians give all the signs of being written by the same person who used the name “Paul”. For convenience, I call that person “Paul”, just like I call the author of the Gospel of Mark “Mark” and the author of the Gospel of John “John” simply because we have no idea who actually wrote them so one name is as good as another. I consider Acts to be fiction loosely based on some of the letters attributed to Paul, but probably more reliant on Josephus’ Antiquities and his autobiography

          The Epistle of James is written in opposition to Galatians. The Epistle to the Romans refutes some of the arguments James made against Galatians. Two people were making actual theological arguments, with the Paul character taking the position of Rabbi Hillel. This appears to me to be an authentic argument between this Paul guy and this James guy. Paul says faith is important. James says works are more important.

          Galatians 3 cites Genesis 15:6 that Abraham was justified deemed righteous by faith. James 2 says that Abraham was actually justified by works when he bound Isaac to the altar. Romans points out that Abraham was justified in Genesis 15 before he was circumcised, which was before Isaac was even conceived.

          Galatians 5:14 cites Leviticus 19:18 on loving your neighbor fulfilling the whole law. James disputes that in James 2:8-11 saying it is a good start but if you don’t follow the whole law, you will be murdering and committing adultery. In Romans, Paul points out that if you love, you won’t be murdering, adultering, nor stealing.

          The “authentic” Pauline epistles cite scripture a lot. Now look at everything the author of those epistles says about Jesus. Everything he says comes from the Old Testament scripture. He doesn’t say anything about a preacher/teacher from Galilee. The author of these epistles was not writing about Gospel Jesus! He knew nothing about a first century Jesus. These writings were about an imaginary Jesus created from Isaiah’s Suffering Servant imagined to be “hidden mysteries”.

          Why would someone invent two different Jesuses and throw the writings together? I think you are still in the habit of reading Gospel Jesus back into the Epistles. Just because they were canonized by people who didn’t know where the sun went at night doesn’t mean they belong together. They are separate writings. They were “non-biblical writings” when they were written.

          Now, we can always play the game of asking whether the Homeric epics were written by Homer or someone else named Homer. Substitute Shakespeare and his plays if you like. We can never have absolute certainty but I think the evidence favors that Paul and the James mentioned in Galatians were the actual authors of at least some of the books of the New Testament, even if the names are pseudonyms.

        • rationalobservations?

          Why are you still offering the content of contentious apparent fiction to present only assumptions, presumptions and suppositions that fail to “validate” that apparent fiction?

        • rationalobservations?

          Again:
          The earliest extant manuscript of the Greek author Lucian of Samosata (c. 125-180) is from the early 10th century and contains 19 of his Dialogues. 10th century propaganda written by christian scribes is NOT evidence that supports historically unsupported legends merely set in what only became known as the “1st century” in what at the same time became known as the “8th century” in a calendar invented by a christian monk in what we now call the “6th century”.

          You have yet to present any historical evidence of a 1st century “Jesus” based cult called “christianity”.

          Messianic cults? YES.
          Jesus based messianic cults? NO.

        • Lark62

          There are multiple sources of evidence. Lucian is just an example. Nobody forged hundreds of different pieces of information and put passing mentions of Christians in longer texts to just support the existence of 2nd century Christians. And if they did, they were outrageous screw ups. Because these same people who created hundreds or thousands of pieces of evidence for Christians didn’t bother to create one single proof that Jesus existed. Hogwash. They didn’t just create the texts that made it into the NT, they created some written by the same person in the 1st century, some written later, some as forgeries of that first person and some as 2nd and 3rd century forgeries. Then they had to create the texts that were destroyed as heresy to be found later buried in Egypt. And they had to create several centuries of different theological controversies most of which were forgotten by the 10th century. And then they had match the forgeries to the correct era since the forgeries were used to promote theological claims. And then they had to create the council of Nicea and several other gatherings to resolve the disputes.

          It is also possible that the entire Roman empire never existed and is entirely due to 10th century forgeries. But the person making the absurd, ludicrous and/or outrageous claim has the burden of proof.

        • rationalobservations?

          “There are multiple sources of evidence. Lucian is just an example.”
          The 10th century originated texts merely attributed to “Lucian” are evidence of christian productivity in the 10th century and nothing else.

          “Nobody forged hundreds of different pieces of information and put passing mentions of Christians in longer texts to just support the existence of 2nd century Christians.”

          Why do you suppose that there is NO first hand authentic and original evidence of these “christians” while so many non “Jesus” based messianic cults and messiah claimants (like Simon Christ – Simon bar Kokchbah) left a wealth of tangible evidence of their existence and exploits?

          Your gullibility is charming but your logic fails and your evidence is nonexistent.

          You constantly mistake myths, legends and propaganda written centuries after the time in which it is set for “evidence”. It is not.

        • Lark62

          Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          Likewise ordinary claims require ordinary evidence.

          Christians exist today. People existed who called themselves Christians is an ordinary claim. There are dozens of ordinary passing references to Christians in late first century to third century. Textual analysis experts have dated authentic Pauline letters to the first century.

          There is no evidence for large numbers of Christians until much lster. There is no evidence for Christian persecution. There is no evidence a dude name Jesus founded christianity. But there is evidence Christians existed.

        • rationalobservations?

          It is you who make extraordinary claims based only upon legends and propaganda written centuries after the time to which those legends and that propaganda is back dated and in which it is merely set but of which no historical evidence contemporary to the times has ever been discovered.

          As an example you mentioned Lucian of Samosata and claimed that he mocked Christians as gullible and easily scammed circa 160CE.
          The earliest extant manuscript of the Greek author Lucian of Samosata (c. 125-180) is from the early 10th century and contains 19 of his Dialogues. 10th century propaganda written by christian scribes is NOT evidence that supports historically unsupported legends merely set in what only became known as the “1st century” in what at the same time became known as the “8th century” in a calendar invented by a christian monk in what we now call the “6th century”.

          Your gullibility regarding propaganda appears matched by your overly simplistic view of actual evidence supported history.

          You have yet to present any historical evidence of a 1st century “Jesus” based cult called “christianity”.

          Messianic cults? YES.
          Jesus based messianic cults? NO.

        • Steven Watson

          Which 1st Century? The internal evidence from Paul’s letters rule out a human Jesus. The internal evidence when aligned with history places Paul no later than 55BC. This is problematic if the Jesus of the Canon actually existed; since it is all but impossible this was so we are free to understand the letters as written and not have to make things up to allow a Tiberian Jesus.

          In the same wise it is very difficult to place the writing of G.Mk earlier than the Bar Kochba War.

          That such reasoning is objected to shows how far even atheists and skeptics have internalised the Gospel narative.

          Irrationalobsfusications’ whack-a-loon ideas derive from a Russian nutcase who denies any history from before the 2nd millenium as fraudulent. There is some crazy stuff out there.

      • Lark62

        Actually, christianity existed and was mentioned in the second century.

        Paul existed and created Christianity in the mid to late 1st century. My opinion is that Paul appropriated the name of a semi famous Jewish wannabee messiah to give his new religion an exotic flair. Everything else was made up by Paul in keeping with normal mystery religion themes or created later as fan fiction as people made up stories to merge Paul’s mystical Jesus with Jewish religion and prophecy.

        It’s all make believe.

        • Bob Jase

          Show me some contemporary evidence for Paul that backs up the claims made in his story. Hint – there isn’t any.

        • Lark62

          You asked for two different things. 1. Evidence for a person calling himself Paul and
          2. Evidence that what he wrote wasn’t pure hogwash.

          Item 1 is doable. Several new testament epistles were written by the same person. These letters date to the first century. These letters created and/or popularized a new religion. And that religion existed based on mentions in a variety of sources.

          Paul or someone calling himself Paul existed and wrote letters promoting a new mystery religion.

          Item 2. There is nothing to say Paul didn’t make it all up. The road to Damascus. The thorn in the side. The mystical Jesus. The works. The religion created / promoted by Paul checked every box for elements required in any self respecting mystery religion. Virgin births. Rising from the dead. Magic meals. Etc.

          After Paul, others came along and wrote fan fiction and more epistles including some forgeries attributed to Paul or “apostles.” They added pointless miracles and pithy sayings and 12 zodiac based hangers on and so forth. They looked at Jewish texts and made up stories “proving” their Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. This stuff was written beginning in the late 1st century with some of the forgeries probably dating to the third century.

        • Bob Jase

          No, quoting highly edited & interpolated writings doesn’t constitute evidernce of what said documents say – circular logic & all. There is just as much evidence for Glycon but you don’t worship him.

          You admit there is no reason to not think the author(s) made it all up so why not think they also made up the ‘author’? No rrason to believe that biblical fan fiction didn’t start much earlier – not every ancient HJebrew boo0k made it into the canon.

        • L1: Item 2. There is nothing to say Paul didn’t make it all up. The road to Damascus.

          GW1: We have a story, actually three versions of the same story, about the alleged incidents on the road to Damascus. If you are asserting that Paul “made up” this story, then you have a burden of proof to meet. The story could be false without it being “made up.” Right?

        • Bob Jase

          If there are three versions of the same story at least two are made up. So should I believe the one written by the hallucinating religious zealot or one of the two lying religious zealots?

        • BJ1: If there are three versions of the same story at least two are made up.

          GW1: That is not necessarily correct, if by “made up” you mean intentionally fabricated. Couldn’t all three be false without any of them being “made up”?

          BJ1: So should I believe the one written by the hallucinating religious zealot or one of the two lying religious zealots?

          GW1: You are presenting a false dichotomy. It is possible that all three were written by the same person. Also, you are going to have a great deal of difficulty showing beyond a reasonable doubt that one was the result of hallucination and two were the result of lying, or which was which. You are speculating too far beyond the evidence, IMO.

        • rationalobservations?

          I know a few versions of the mythology and a surprising amount of the propaganda that has been churned out since the founding institution of Roman “christianity” .

          I know quite a bit of the actual history of several Messiah claimants and messianic cults that actually existed between Circa 8BCE and Circa 140CE.

          I recognise that Christians have claimed every reference to a historical “Messiah” as a reference to “Jesus” even though no historical trace of Jesus has ever been discovered.

          I find no evidence that any “Jesus’ or “Jesus” based messianic cults existed between 8 BCE and 140CE.

        • Lark62

          You seem to have failed to note that I think the only thing about Jesus that is known is that a person with that name might have existed. Everything else is fiction.

          I think Paul existed, because someone wrote a half dozen letters in the mid to late 1st century. And this person spoke of conflicts with the Palestinian cult followers of a person named Jesus.

          So I think someone named Jesus existed, died and left behind a small cult in Palestine.

          Paul in Asia Minor took the name to make his new mystery religion sound exotic. He knew nothing about Jesus and neither do we. It was just a name.

          Paul wrote some letters and the religion grew slowly, but existed.

          Over the next 200 to 300 years, other people started creating fan fiction that became the gospels etc. and wrote fake letters they attributed to Paul or the make believe apostles mentioned in the fan fiction.

          This sequence makes sense to me and is supported by some evidence.

        • Bob Jase

          https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Letters_of_Jesus_and_Abgarus

          Anyone can sign any name to a ‘letter;.

        • Greg G.

          But can they reproduce the theological ideas, themes, write in the same style without making it too similar in structure to any one particular letter, use similar vocabulary and phrases, and still spell the name right?

        • rationalobservations?

          “You seem to have failed to note that I think the only thing about Jesus that is known is that a person with that name might have existed. Everything else is fiction.”
          I note that there is not one single authentic and original, 1st century originated historical trace of “Jesus” or any of the centuries later written legends of “Jesus”.

          “I think Paul existed, because someone wrote a half dozen letters in the mid to late 1st century.”
          Not a single letter attributed to “Paul” can be traced to origination within the 1st century.
          Approximately 800 “early copies” of the letters of Paul have survived to the current day. No two copies are completely identical and none were written by anonymous christian scribes earlier than the 10th century. More than 85 percent of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament were produced in the eleventh century or later.
          The date and people to which centuries later written texts are attributed is not evidence of the authenticity of the texts or the attribution.

          “So I think someone named Jesus existed, died and left behind a small cult in Palestine.”
          Why do you think that there is not one single trace of historical evidence in support of this presumption?

          “Paul in Asia Minor took the name to make his new mystery religion sound exotic. He knew nothing about Jesus and neither do we.”
          “Paul wrote some letters and the religion grew slowly, but existed.”

          “Over the next 200 to 300 years, other people started creating fan fiction that became the gospels etc. and wrote fake letters they attributed to Paul or the make believe apostles mentioned in the fan fiction.”

          Upon what actual, tangible, authentic and original historical evidence do you base these presumptions?

        • Lark62

          You’re boring. Go read a book.

        • rationalobservations?

          You are confounded and have no answers to the evidence that confounds you.
          Retreat in humiliated capitulation before making an even bigger fool of yourself. Thats what almost all the ignorant and the gullible have done in the past when faced with evidence they cannot refute and the absolute and total absence of authentic and original evidence that supports their myths and legends and the propaganda they recycle regarding those myths and legends.

          Next..?

        • Now you are stooping down to Lark62’s level, responding in kind, by criticizing his personality traits. You too are out of line.

        • Bob Jase

          HEY LOOKY!!! we have a new moderator!

        • MR

          =’D

        • Yes, I am always monitoring the discussion for insults and other uncivil behavior. Hey, would you like to become a voluntary member of the patrol?

        • Bob Jase

          Gee I appreciate your offer but I’m busy trying to keep Thanos from returning.

        • Greg G.

          Thanos is still trying to get a head.

        • rationalobservations?

          Do you find anything untrue or unjustified in my response?

        • Please don’t criticize discussants’ personality traits. Instead, please stick to discussing issues. You are out of line.

        • “You seem to have failed to note that I think the only thing about Jesus that is known is that a person with that name might have existed. Everything else is fiction.”

          “So I think someone named Jesus existed, died and left behind a small cult in Palestine.”

          I think those two statements are contradictory because of your use of the words “everything else.” Please correct or explain.

        • You should respond to scholars’ dating of the NT books in the first century.

        • rationalobservations?

          There are no authentic and original NT books or texts that date as origination from within the first century.

          Speculation regarding legends written in prototype in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus bible that are merely set in the first century is the basis of assumptions, presumptions and suppositions that are unsupported by any tangible evidence.

          You know this Bob. Why are you playing “devils advocate”?

        • You know this Bob.

          Huh? There are no first-century copies. I’m talking about NT books that were authored in the first century. That’s the consensus view, and I’m provisionally accepting that.

        • rationalobservations?

          Again: What authentic and authenticated NT books that were authored and originated from within the first century, Bob?

          As you agree, there are no first century “copies” (meaning “originals”).

          Accepting propaganda that is devoid of evidence is for religiots, Bob?

          Best regards my friend and don’t take any wooden nickels.

        • Again: What authentic and authenticated NT books that were authored and originated from within the first century, Bob?

          I’d go with whatever Wikipedia says. Revelation, gJohn, 2 Peter, and others might be suspect, but the consensus is that they’re all from the 1st century.

          As you agree, there are no first century “copies” (meaning “originals”).

          There are no copies or originals because it was a long time ago. (But you already knew that.)

          Accepting propaganda that is devoid of evidence is for religiots, Bob?

          Non-Christian scholars agree that most New Testament books were written in the first century. The burden of proof is yours.

        • Greg G.

          There are no authentic and original NT books or texts that date as origination from within the first century.

          The date of a hardcopy manuscript is the latest possible time it could have been written, not the earliest possible date. We don’t have 2700 year old copies of the Odyssey but we do have copies of Plato referring to the Homeric epics, so we know it must have been around in Plato’s time, unless you want to say that Plato’s philosophy was invented by tenth century monks.

        • rationalobservations?

          This obfuscation fails to detract from the fact that there is no historical trace at all of the existence of “Jesus”.

        • Greg G.

          So what? I do not argue for the historicity of Jesus. I argue against it.

          I agree with most of the things you say but I think your fixation on the Codex Sinaiticus is ridiculous.

        • rationalobservations?

          No “fixation”, Greg.
          The fact that no bible predates the 4th century orrginated Sinaiticus and Vatican’s and the utter, total and complete absence of any form of historical trace of historical evidence of the existence of Jesus or of the legends of “Jesus” are facts that no one has ever contradicted through the presentation of actual first century originated historical evidence.

        • Greg G.

          Those facts you keep repeating like a mantra do not imply your conclusion. You continue to point to the 14,000 differences between the C. Sinaiticus and the KJV but there are over 3,000 differences between the C. Sinaiticus and the C. Vaticanus in the gospels alone. It has been said that if you compare two consecutive verses from both, you are more likely to find a difference than to find both verses to be the same. Both of them seem to be compiled with care and planning. That implies that the copying must have been done with care. That implies that they were compiled from different sources that must go back to long before the C. Sinaiticus was written. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_codices_Sinaiticus_and_Vaticanus

          Manuscripts tend to decay when not kept dry. The C. Sinaiticus was kept in a monastery in the Sinai Desert! That is why it survived better than other manuscripts. The C. Vaticanus has been in the Vatican for several centuries but nobody knows where it was for the previous thousand years but scholars suspect it was copied in Egypt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Vaticanus

          Again, the oldest copy of a manuscript defines the latest possible date that it could have been written, not the earliest possible date. Nobody should expect to find the original document from that long ago. The clay tablets of the Gilgamesh tale are not likely to be the original copy of that either. The oldest copies of the Homeric epics are not the original documents. Aesop’s Fables are older than the oldest copy of them. The fact that the C. Sinaiticus is the oldest complete manuscript does not mean that the different books are that age, it just means it was kept in a desert.

          Your are committing the logical error of survivor bias.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

          We agree on most everything but strongly disagree on one point and your reasoning does not support your conclusion. Until you have a more rational argument, let it go.

        • Greg G.

          I think Zechariah 3 of the Septuagint would be a likely place for the first century Christians to get the name of “Jesus”, the Greek form of “Joshua”.

          I think they were reading the Suffering Servant as a “hidden mystery” rather than as a metaphor. In Isaiah 53:5, the SS is crushed for iniquities which kind of fits with Jesus appearing before God in dirty clothes in Zechariah 3.

          In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul says that “Christ died for sins according to the scriptures” which means it was not an eye witnessed event, as an observer can’t tell whether one death was for sins and every other death was not. There are several verses in Isaiah 53 about dying for sins but most likely it was Isaiah 53:8 because verse 9 says he was buried as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:4. Then comes the “raised on the third day” which could be from Psalms or Job but since Paul quotes Isaiah and Hosea together in Romans, even citing them by name, I think it was more likely to be Hosea 6:2 that he had in mind.

          Everything Paul says about Jesus can be found in OT passages, as if he was reading the OT texts as “a hidden mystery” as he says in Romans 16:25-26.

        • By “make believe” do you mean the originators of the Christian religion deliberately fabricated it, knowing it was false? Please explain.

          Is Christianity more like a lie or a delusion?

    • Most of them are wrong.

  • Lark62

    Where do morals and/or absolute morality come from?

    When Christians explain how they know that the following are wrong, we’ll have an answer since their precious font of absolute morality is either silent on, approves of, or actually commands these things.

    Spousal rape.
    Raping slaves and war captives.
    Genocide.
    Murdering prisoners of war.
    Child abuse.
    Animal abuse.
    Torture.
    Abortion.
    Locking children in cages.
    Refusing to welcome refugees.

    Every human society creates and enforces norms of behavior to allow humans to live together in cooperative society. These rules vary from place to place and era to era. There is no master list.

    • eric

      Now they need to explain why the following are okay –
      Locking children in cages.
      Refusing to welcome refugees.

      “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49, NIV.

      • Lark62

        And yet evangelicals ignore it.

    • I have a different perspective on this. I think there are correct universal moral rules, but they have not yet been complied into a master list. But still, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights comes close.

      Bob used the term “objective morality,” but in your post you are using the term “absolute morality.” Did you mean to use a different term? Do you think these terms refer to different concepts? Please explain.

  • Bob Jase

    How does defaulting to a giant invisible magician in the sky actually answer anything?

  • Lord Backwater

    Science has more important things to do than waste its time responding to wacky Christian apologists.

    Scientists discover ‘why stress turns hair white’

    • Oh, I don’t think it is a waste of time. Did you think Bill Nye wasted his time in debating Ken Ham on evolution? If so, please explain.

  • abb3w

    I suspect Shlemon pulls two fast ones, at “need to” and “explain”.

    “Need to” sounds an awful lot like “ought to” from my Hume-fan perspective; and I don’t think he and I would agree as to what the necessary and sufficient criteria are for an “explanation”.

    The particular things he thinks atheists “need to explain” merely add insult to this injury.

  • I read the article from Shlemon. I probably shouldn’t have done that, because I read this bit of nonsense:

    Second, it means that atheism—or any belief—is not rational. Deterministic forces act on all physical objects, even the neurons in
    our brain that allegedly make up our thoughts. Every thought, then, results from the collision of billions of atoms governed by physical forces. Our brains are deterministic boxes without the capacity of free will and reason to guide our thinking.

    It bugs me that people make these arguments, and don’t even seem to have the self awareness of understanding what they’re saying. In effect, His last point is simply a non-sequitur, as far as I can tell. If I’m presented with an argument that appears to be valid (determining that an argument is valid is a deterministic process), and has premises that I accept as true (which should also be a deterministic process), I really have no choice but to accept the conclusion of that argument on the pain of irrationality. So how does non-determinism ever come into the picture? Why does non-determinism even need to come into the picture?

    It’s almost like Shlemon cannot imagine how one can arrive at a conclusion without some spooky ghost being inside his head that just gives him the ability to magically pick the right answer, and never considers that rationality is probably a deterministic process anyways.

    • eric

      don’t even seem to have the self awareness of understanding what they’re saying

      It’s the “I’m taking you down with me” defense. Christians who understand that their beliefs aren’t rational will often try to argue that nobody else’s beliefs are either.

    • There are at least two forms of determinism — religious and scientific. But if either of them is true and if God exists, it would hardly be moral for God to punish sinners in Hell forever.

  • Steven Watson

    God is about the most complicated thing imaginable. We can reply “Who made God?”. These folk are parvenu, blissfully unaware that a Christian, William of Ockham, blew their arguments up about seven hundred years ago. The Bible can be refuted from the Bible and Christers can be refuted without going outside the Christer population.

  • RichardSRussell

    Why do I get the nagging feeling that one of Shlemon’s ancestors got his family name from a nearby Yiddish community, and all of the descendants since then have been too dumb to figure out that it was an insult?

  • Otto

    I don’t understand how an atheist’s supposed lack of answers concerning any question gives credence to his conclusion.

  • Derek Mathias

    If you are interested in having a response to the Christian claim that we have free will, hit them with this argument I have come up with:

    NOWHERE in the Bible does it say free will exists, or that the choices we think we’re making are our own. It does stress the importance of making the right CHOICES, but being able to make choices doesn’t require free will. In fact, even simple animals that clearly don’t have free will are perfectly capable of making decisions. Computers can even be programmed to make decisions, and clearly they don’t have free will. What the Bible does say about humans being in control of their choices indicates the exact OPPOSITE of free will by clearly stating that God plans EVERYTHING, including our very steps:

    • Proverbs 16:4 THE LORD WORKS OUT EVERYTHING to its proper end–even the wicked for the day of disaster. [He doesn’t just determine SOME things, he determines “EVERYTHING,” including what the wicked do.]
    • Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but THE LORD ESTABLISHES THEIR STEPS. [God even determines our very steps!]
    • Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap, but its EVERY DECISION IS FROM THE LORD.
    • Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but IT IS THE LORD’S PURPOSE THAT PREVAILS.
    • Proverbs 20:24 A PERSON’S STEPS ARE DIRECTED BY THE LORD. HOW THEN CAN ANYONE UNDERSTAND THEIR OWN WAY?
    • Proverbs 21:1 In the Lord’s hand THE KING’S HEART IS A STREAM OF WATER THAT HE CHANNELS TOWARD ALL WHO PLEASE HIM.
    • Ephesians 1:5 He PREDESTINED us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS PLEASURE AND WILL.
    • Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been PREDESTINED according to the plan of HIM WHO WORKS OUT EVERYTHING in conformity with the purpose of his will.
    • Jeremiah 10:23 LORD, I know that PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE NOT THEIR OWN; IT IS NOT FOR THEM TO DIRECT THEIR STEPS.
    • Jeremiah 13:23 Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? NEITHER CAN YOU DO GOOD who are accustomed to doing evil.
    • Jeremiah 43:11 He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those DESTINED FOR DEATH, captivity to those DESTINED FOR CAPTIVITY, and the sword to those DESTINED FOR THE SWORD.
    • Psalm 37:23 A MAN’S STEPS ARE ESTABLISHED BY THE LORD, and the LORD delights in his way. [Evidently God delights in establishing a man’s steps to take the wrong path.]
    • Psalm 90:9 WE SPEND OUR YEARS AS A TALE THAT IS TOLD.
    • Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; ALL THE DAYS ORDAINED FOR ME WERE WRITTEN IN YOUR BOOK before one of them came to be.
    • Psalm 105:24-25 The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, WHOSE HEARTS HE TURNED TO HATE HIS PEOPLE, TO CONSPIRE AGAINST HIS SERVANTS.
    • John 6:44 No one can come to me UNLESS THE FATHER WHO SENT ME DRAWS THEM. [Only God decides who will be saved and who won’t.]
    • John 6:37 ALL THOSE THE FATHER GIVES ME WILL COME TO ME, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. [If God decides to save you, you WILL be saved, no choice.]
    • Romans 8:7-8 Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for IT IS NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    • Romans 8:20 For THE CREATURE WAS MADE SUBJECT TO VANITY, NOT WILLINGLY, BUT BY REASON OF HIM WHO HATH SUBJECTED THE SAME IN HOPE. [It’s not our will that subjects us to vanity, but God’s.]
    • Romans 9:18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and HE HARDENS WHOM HE WANTS TO HARDEN.
    • Romans 9:19-21 “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, TO MAKE FROM THE SAME LUMP ONE VESSEL FOR HONORABLE USE AND ANOTHER FOR COMMON USE?”
    • Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I RAISED YOU UP FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” [God created Pharaoh to behave in a specific way so he could show off.]
    • Exodus 10:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I HAVE HARDENED HIS HEART AND THE HEARTS OF HIS OFFICIALS so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them.” [God forced them to behave as he wanted so he could show off.]
    • Ezekiel 38:3-4 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I WILL TURN YOU AROUND, PUT HOOKS IN YOUR JAWS AND BRING YOU OUT WITH YOUR WHOLE ARMY.
    • Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD HAD MADE HIS SPIRIT STUBBORN AND HIS HEART OBSTINATE in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done.
    • Joshua 11:20 FOR IT WAS THE LORD HIMSELF WHO HARDENED THEIR HEARTS to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally.
    • Isaiah 14:27 For THE LORD ALMIGHTY HAS PURPOSED, and who can thwart him?
    • Isaiah 37:26 Have you not heard? LONG AGO I ORDAINED IT. IN DAYS OF OLD I PLANNED IT; now I have brought it to pass.
    • Isaiah 46:10 I MAKE KNOWN THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, from ancient times, what is still to come.
    • Amos 3:6 Does disaster come to a city, unless THE LORD HAS DONE IT? [People don’t cause disaster unless God makes them do it.]
    • Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, “I know that You can do all things, And that NO PURPOSE OF YOURS CAN BE THWARTED.”
    • 2 Timothy 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, WHICH WAS GIVEN US IN CHRIST JESUS BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.
    • Acts 4:28 They did what your power and will HAD DECIDED BEFOREHAND should happen.
    • Acts 13:48 and ALL WHO WERE APPOINTED for eternal life believed. [Those who come to believe in God were appointed to do so.]

    If the above passages are true, then clearly free will is only an illusion, God determines every decision we will make, and HE is the one responsible for EVERY evil action.

    In summary, assuming the Bible isn’t lying, God plans not just SOME things, but EVERYTHING. We have the PERCEPTION of free will, that’s true…but evidently that is just an illusion. As an analogy, it’s like God is a writer and we are the characters in his novel. We THINK we have free will and that all our thoughts and actions are ours to make, but the reality is that the writer plans EVERYTHING that happens, both in thought and action. The difference is, characters in a novel can’t actually suffer, and thus there is no harm in having horrible things happen to them. But we DO suffer, yet God deliberately “writes” people to commit murder and genocide, animal and human sacrifice, torture, child and animal abuse, theft, slavery, rape, incest, cannibalism, betrayal, lying, megalomania, sociopathy, narcissism, and more. According to the Bible, he himself commits or condones all those evil behaviors…yet he sends the vast majority of humanity to hell to be tortured for doing exactly what he created them to do, and for which he himself is guilty.

    I have all sorts of arguments like this on my YouTube channel: https://YouTube.com/underlings

    • Greg G.

      I have long thought that Calvinism is the logical conclusion of the Bible and its refutation by reductio ad absurdum.

    • I think your argument is correct, and I like it. However in addition, it would be immoral for a god to determine human acts of cruelty and then to punish those same humans by sending them to Hell forever. So, if this god exists, he is an immoral and evil person himself.

      • Bob Jase

        You mean like Yahweh did to Pharaoh (bad enough the guy had no name) or anyone else according to 2nd Timothy.?

        • Well maybe. Did he send them all to Hell after he caused them to behave badly?

      • Derek Mathias

        Yes indeed. Not to mention the fact that throughout the Bible God commits or condones murder and genocide, animal and human sacrifice, torture, child and animal abuse, theft, slavery, rape, incest, cannibalism, betrayal, lying, megalomania, sociopathy and narcissism, all behaviors used to identify evil persons. I have a TON of scripture to back these up, too much to fit here, but I have a document online where I show all my evidence: http://introducedrat.com/debatenotes.docx

        • Derek, I appreciate your sharing the evidence.

          I cannot understand why anyone would revere, respect, love, and worship this god described in the Bible. It baffles me. Why do you think they do it?

        • Derek Mathias

          You’re welcome. Hmm, good question. I think most people simply don’t think about it. Most Christians have never even read the Bible from cover to cover (which baffles me–why wouldn’t anyone who believes the Bible is God’s manual for salvation NOT read it?), so they really only get the cherry-picked passages their pastors choose to share. They’re also not taught to think critically, so they swallow the fallacious claims made by those pastors to justify God’s behavior.

          Another thing is that I think we are evolutionarily wired to be religious for a variety of reasons. First, we have a LONG helpless period as children, and it behooves us to respect without question the authority figures represented by our seemingly strong and knowledgeable parents during part of that, since it keeps us focused on staying close to them and learning what they have to say. Religion may be essentially a carryover from childhood.

          Also, humans have good reason to be anxious about the unknown. If you don’t know what’s over that hill or in that cave, it could kill you, so you’d better find out. So anxiety and curiosity are part of our DNA. But some things simply have no answers for primitive (and even modern) people–stars, the sun, earthquakes, etc.–so to alleviate that anxiety we make up stories to give us a sense of understanding of what’s happening.

          There are other reasons, but I think those are the most probable.

        • DM3: You’re welcome.

          GW3: I scanned through your document, and overall I believe it is excellent. I will be using some of these points in my debates with theists and discussions with agnostics.

          DM3: Hmm, good question. I think most people simply don’t think about it.

          GW3: Sheep?

          DM3: Most Christians have never even read the Bible from cover to cover (which baffles me–why wouldn’t anyone who believes the Bible is God’s manual for salvation NOT read it?), so they really only get the cherry-picked passages their pastors choose to share. They’re also not taught to think critically, so they swallow the fallacious claims made by those pastors to justify God’s behavior.

          GW3: That sounds correct to me. (I am an atheist. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover twice and the Gospels at least a dozen times.)

          DM3: Another thing is that I think we are evolutionarily wired to be religious for a variety of reasons.

          GW3: From selection or spandrel?

          DM3: First, we have a LONG helpless period as children, and it behooves us to respect without question the authority figures represented by our seemingly strong and knowledgeable parents during part of that, since it keeps us focused on staying close to them and learning what they have to say. Religion may be essentially a carryover from childhood.

          GW3: I generally agree with you, although I would frame it differently. Young children generalize their belief in, respect for, and compliance with respect to their parents TO invisible authority figures, e.g. God, purported to exist by their parents, teachers, religious leaders, and friends. So, this is an OVERGENERALIZATION to which persons not trained in critical thinking, in this case children, are prone.

          DM3: Also, humans have good reason to be anxious about the unknown. If you don’t know what’s over that hill or in that cave, it could kill you, so you’d better find out. So anxiety and curiosity are part of our DNA.

          GW3: I totally agree with that idea.

          DM3: But some things simply have no answers for primitive (and even modern) people–stars, the sun, earthquakes, etc.–so to alleviate that anxiety we make up stories to give us a sense of understanding of what’s happening.

          GW3: And as we learn more about the world we discard those fictions, though some hang on for a long time.

          DM3: There are other reasons, but I think those are the most probable.

          GW3: Thanks. I think we mostly agree.

        • Derek Mathias

          “I scanned through your document, and overall I believe it is excellent. I will be using some of these points in my debates with theists and discussions with agnostics.”

          Feel free!

          “Sheep?”

          Not a baad guess.

          “I am an atheist. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover twice and the Gospels at least a dozen times.”

          Thus:
          “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” — Isaac Asimov
          “A thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to atheism.” — Donald Morgan

          DM3: Another thing is that I think we are evolutionarily wired to be religious for a variety of reasons.

          “From selection or spandrel?”

          Spandrel.

          “Young children generalize their belief in, respect for, and compliance with respect to their parents TO invisible authority figures, e.g. God, purported to exist by their parents, teachers, religious leaders, and friends.”

          I would agree with that.

          Cheers.

  • Douglas Bailey

    Atheism is not a belief, it’s a non-belief. There would be no need for the word if their weren’t theists.
    If you don’t collect stamps are you an aphilatelic? And have to explain why you don’t choose to collect stamps. No, just don’t collect stamps and perhaps many, many other endeavors.

    • Greg G.

      If religions were television channels, atheism would be “OFF”.

      • Douglas Bailey

        Well put. Then I guess they’d want you to explain how you can live without TV, since you can’t go through life without the TV playing some nonsense. And how in the world did you turn it off?

    • But if you are the kind of atheist (I am) who claims “God does not exist,” then you do have a burden of proof. This is different from claiming “I lack any belief in God.”

  • Just Bob

    Simplest logic: If (the Christian) god is omniscient, including knowledge of the future, then there simply cannot be any free will. Everyone is compelled to do exactly what god already knows you’re going to do. If you have the freedom to choose something else, then god cannot be omniscient.

    • The Christian might say that you’re arguing for foreknowledge, which is different from lack of freedom.

      Example: God sends you a video of the 2020 Superbowl, and you watch it. Then, you watch the Superbowl live, and you know how every play will go. But did the players still have free will in that live game?

      I’d be curious to hear your thoughts/rebuttal.

      • Just Bob

        But did the players still have free will in that live game?

        Obviously not. How could they possibly do anything different from God’s omniscient foreknowledge (and the video he sent me)? Even their weighing and debating of various options — their very thoughts — must run as god knows they will.

        Example: God “omnisciently” foresees a hail Mary pass on a particular play. But the quarterback makes a last-millisecond choice to run with it, thus establishing his free will, but ruining god’s omniscience.

        • Knowledge of the future is not necessary determination of the future. I think Bob has made a good point.

          It is possible for there to be a being with complete knowledge of the past and the future but with no power to determine events or alter events.

        • Bob Jase

          ba-woosh!

          That was omnipotence being flushed down the toilet.

        • Not necessarily. Please explain.

        • Just Bob

          If the being knows the future, then something has shown it the future. That thing has then determined the future. Otherwise there could be no certain knowledge of that future.

          It might not be the “being” with the foresight that has obviated free will, but something has, since the future must unfold exactly as foreseen — else no omniscience.

        • JB1: If the being knows the future, then something has shown it the future.

          GW1: I don’t think that is necessarily true. It would not need to be shown the future by something else. It could just “look” at the future on its own. We are talking here about what is possible, not about what is likely.

          JB1: That thing has then determined the future. Otherwise there could be no certain knowledge of that future.

          GW1: I disagree. If a being causes the future, then presumably it would know the future. But I don’t think the converse is true. If a being does not cause the future, then it could still know the future. (If a particular being X does not cause the future, then the future could be undetermined, or it could be caused by another particular being Y, or it could be caused by “natural processes.”) Thus, if a being is omniscient and knows the future, it might have no role in determining that future. Omniscience does not logically require determination, but determination logically requires omniscience.

          JB1: It might not be the “being” with the foresight that has obviated free will, but something has, since the future must unfold exactly as foreseen — else no omniscience.

          GW1: See my explanation above for a different view.

        • So foreknowledge on God’s part implies a lack of freedom on mine. Or maybe it just redefines “free will”–my free will might seem entirely unconstrained to me but is in fact an illusion, since every action is already listed out in God’s mind.

          The Christian might respond that God pre-knows but doesn’t pre-determine. But is that distinction relevant or even meaningful?

        • Just Bob

          But is that distinction relevant or even meaningful?

          Nope. Pre-knowledge entails, indeed requires, pre-determination. Else how could there be pre-knowledge?

        • Just Bob

          I further maintain that God cannot be both omniscient and omnipotent.
          Can an omnipotent god choose not to know how something will turn out (thus relinquishing omniscience)? Maybe he enjoys suspense now and then.
          If he cannot so choose, to give up omniscience, then ipso facto he is not omnipotent.

        • Bob Jase

          Know what I like?

          Christers who claim god doesn’t know the future yet cite ‘prophecies’ as a reason for their beliefs.

    • I’m an atheist and I have heard this argument before, but I am not convinced that it is correct. If a god with knowledge of the future did exist, this knowledge might be like our knowledge of the past. If there is free will (I personally doubt it), then our free will does not seem to be influenced by our knowledge of the past. Free will could be real, but uninfluenced by anyone’s knowledge of the past or the future. Knowing the future does not mean compelling the future.

      • Just Bob

        Knowing the future does not mean compelling the future.

        Yes it does. Otherwise you don’t know the future.

        • I disagree. It is possible for a person to not compel the future and still know it. I already explained why this is so. Please explain your alternative view.

        • Just Bob

          Easy. The person knowing the future doesn’t have to be the power compelling the future. But it does have to be compelled by something, otherwise positive knowledge of it would be impossible. And if the future is compelled — so that it can be positively known — then there can be no free will. Things must happen as they are “fated” to happen, whether anyone “foreknows” them or not.

        • JB3: Easy. The person knowing the future doesn’t have to be the power compelling the future.

          GW3: I agree with that part. The power compelling the future (the reality of determinism) could be another supernatural person or just natural processes.

          JB3: But it does have to be compelled by something, otherwise positive knowledge of it would be impossible.

          GW3: But would it be impossible? You are suggesting that foreknowledge necessarily entails determinism. I’m not convinced of that. It seems possible that knowledge of the future could be like knowledge of the past, regardless of whether events are determined or undetermined. Remembering the past could be analogous to knowing the future. Yes, this sounds a little weird, but I believe that some physicists, cosmologists, and philosophers have already suggested it. If you changed “impossible” to “unlikely,” then I’d be more likely to agree with you.

          JB3: And if the future is compelled — so that it can be positively known — then there can be no free will.

          GW3: No free will FOR WHOM? The behavior of human beings may be compelled or determined, while the behavior of a god may not be. And so, this god could intervene in a determined world. This would be a supernatural act.

          JB3: Things must happen as they are “fated” to happen, whether anyone “foreknows” them or not.

          GW3: I tend to agree that determinism is true in our world, but this does not rule out an independent god who could disrupt or change the determined course of events in our world. That’s the whole point of supernaturalism – acts beyond and above nature by some god. Yes, it is very unlikely, but not impossible.

        • Just Bob

          The difference between the past and the future is that the past is unchangeable, thus omniscient knowledge of the past has no implications for free will. You can’t today decide to do something different yesterday. Free will is only about the future. And if the future is omnisciently known, then it must be determined, else it could not be known. And if it is determined, there goes the free will.

        • JB4: The difference between the past and the future is that the past is unchangeable, thus omniscient knowledge of the past has no implications for free will.

          GW4: I agree that the past is unchangeable, as far as we know. But the future may be changeable or unchangeable. We don’t know about that. But knowledge of the future could be like knowledge of the past. It could be like a snapshot.

          JB4: You can’t today decide to do something different yesterday.

          GW4: I agree, but that is not the point of contention here.

          JB4: Free will is only about the future.

          GW4: Not really. Free will (or the converse determinism) could have been true or false in the past as well as in the future.

          JB4: And if the future is omnisciently known, then it must be determined, else it could not be known.

          GW4: That’s where we disagree. You are claiming that foreknowledge absolutely requires determinism to be true. Surely, if determinism were true it would make foreknowledge easier than if indeterminism were true, but I don’t think you know or can prove that foreknowledge is certainly contingent on determinism being true.

          JB4: And if it is determined, there goes the free will.

          GW4: Free will for whom? Again, you fail to distinguish between us ordinary human beings and these hypothetical supernatural beings, known as “gods.” So, all our behavior may be determined by natural processes, but there might exist a god who has free will and can intervene in these natural processes.

          GW4: Before about ten years ago, I thought the same way you are thinking about this, but after much reading and thought, I changed my mind.

  • Gord O’Mitey

    Of course I wus created outa nothin’, eh. I wus created in the image of man, in whose mind there existed nothin’ in the way of scientific un’erstandin’. Them thar Stone Age folks wus goddamned ignorant, an’ epistemologically challenged, eh. So, I guess I oughta now go an’ feckin’ disappear up My own Ass&#8203hole.

  • BS1: Shlemon says that atheists must explain (1) how the universe came into existence by itself and how it came from nothing, (2) how free will can exist, and (3) where morals come from.

    GW1: Atheists don’t have to explain these things, unless they make direct assertions about them. Atheists may or may not assert that the universe came into existence by itself or came from nothing. Some atheists may make direct assertions about these topics, and if they do, then I think they need to present explanations and defenses. But as Bob says, it’s fine to say “I don’t know.”

    BS1: “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, God” is no argument.

    GW1: I completely agree. This is the old God of the Gaps approach which religious people often or always use.

    BS1: Morals come from evolution. (As an evolution denier, Shlemon is gleefully on the wrong side of the scientific consensus.) He is doubtless demanding to know where objective morality came from, to which I respond: first show us that objective morality exists. I see no reason to imagine that it does…

    GW1: Morals come from human minds which were shaped by evolution. Morals may have some basis in intuitions or natural sentiments, but they also have some basis in rational thought. There are two versions of “objective morality” which exist: 1) Morality derived from objective facts. And 2) Morality which is the consensus of people using the same method of reason to derive it. I doubt that “objective morality” in the sense Shlemon defines it exists. Morality is not a thing that several people can see, hear, or touch at the same time. It is not objective in THAT SENSE, but it is objective in OTHER SENSES.

    BS1: As with the claim for unicorns, the skeptic has no burden of proof.

    GW1: A skeptic about unicorns lacks a belief in unicorns. However, a skeptic about unicorns who directly asserts “Unicorns do not exist!” has a burden of proof, IMO. Similarly, a skeptic about God lacks a belief in God. However, a skeptic about God who directly asserts “God does not exist!” has a burden of proof, IMO. If you don’t want any burden of proof, don’t make direct assertions about things.

    BS1: Apologists admit quite a bit when they reveal this strategy. They want to attack because they can’t defend!

    GW1: I totally agree.

    BS1: It’s like pleading the Fifth Amendment (that is, asserting your right to not incriminate yourself)-you’re admitting that your position is weak or embarrassing. If they had compelling evidence, they’d give it.

    GW1: Sort of like Donald Trump and his cronies who invoke executive privilege, the Fifth Amendment, and scathing attacks against those who ask them questions. Why are they so reluctant to straight-forwardly tell whatever they know about the incidents under review?

  • Connie Beane

    In regard to free will: some people deny it exists. For Christians to assert that atheists must prove how something (like unicorns) came into existence, they must first prove that that something exists.