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June 3, 2021

Anti-theist atheist Jonathan M. S. Pearce wrote the article, “The Exodus Debunked: You Philistines!” (3-9-18), to which I respond. His words will be in blue.

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[see the Bible passages in the Old Testament where the Philistines are mentioned (RSV): including Exodus 13:17 and 23:31 and eight times in Genesis]

Pearce makes another argument that reference to the Philistines in Moses’ time is anachronistic: thus suggesting that the Bible is 1) woefully inaccurate, or that 2) the book of Exodus was written way later than the time of Moses.

The basis for a lot of what I will be telling you will come from my friend and Skeptic Ink Network colleague Rebecca Bradley and her chapter, “The Credibility of the Exodus”, in John Loftus’ Christianity in the Light of Science . . . 

[W]hatever the date chosen for the Exodus, believers must adhere to the idea that the Philistines were already established along the Mediterranean coast. Of course, you can guess what is coming next…

They weren’t.

This anachronism is rather similar to the camel issue and the pitch issue, both already mentioned.

I refuted the false claims about the alleged absence of camels in three papers (one / two / three), dealt with the supposed absence of pitch in the time and place of Moses’ birth (Pearce was dead-wrong again, according to archaeology, not the Bible only), and also supposed anachronistic biblical use of the term “Israelites”.

As Bradley states (p. 263):

This is a problem for even the “late date,” since the Philistines’ arrival was part of a dramatic process that only began at about 1200 BCE: . . . 

…they were defeated in the epic battle with Rameses III in about 1180 BCE and then were allowed to settle along the southern coast of the Levant. From the late twelfth century BCE [i.e. 1100s BCE, not the 100 years earlier, the proposed later date of the Exodus], they were a strong presence in the form of the Philistine Pentapolis, until they came under Assyrian control in the eight century BCE, along with most of their neighbours.

. . . Simply put, when the Bible mentions the Philistines in this Exodus context, the Philistines did not exist. It’s not that they were there, but were called something else – it’s that they did not yet exist.

The problems with this scenario are not confined to merely the Exodus account. Genesis 21 and 26 have Abraham and Isaac visiting the Philistines some nine centuries before they existed! (Perhaps a series debunking Genesis is on the cards…) . . . 

The only reason, as an objective historian, to maintain that the Conservative, traditional biblical interpretation of the Bible is correct would be that you really, really wanted the Bible to be correct. 

Genesis 10:14 (RSV) Pathru’sim, Caslu’him (whence came the Philistines), and Caph’torim.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges comments on this passage:

The parenthetical clause within the brackets seems to be out of place. According to Deuteronomy 2:23, Jeremiah 47:4, Amos 9:7 the Philistines came out of Caphtor. Accordingly, we may conjecture the clause originally stood after the word “Caphtorim,” and has been accidentally transposed. On the other hand, this explanation seems so obvious, that some scholars consider that the clause “whence … the Philistines” is in its right place, but that the words “and Caphtorim” are only a gloss on the mention of “the Philistines.”

Deuteronomy 2:23 As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caph’torim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their stead.) [see more info. on the Avvim]

Jeremiah 47:4 . . . the LORD is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.

Amos 9:7 . . . [God]: “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?

At this point I can imagine Pearce muttering to himself: “But this is from the Bible; who cares about that? It’s blind faith circular reasoning and so proves nothing . . .” Well, hold your horses, my friend. I’m just beginning my article, and this is the biblical background, which will be considered in light of the non-biblical sources I am about to bring to bear (and I will show that they are both in harmony, as always).

Josephus‘ Antiquities of the Jews i.vi.2, . . . placed them explicitly in Egypt . . . using extra-Biblical accounts [he] provides context for the migration from Caphtor to Philistia. He records that the Caphtorites were one of the Egyptian peoples whose cities were destroyed during the Ethiopic War. (Wikipedia, “Caphtor”)

Here is the passage in question:

Now all the children of Mesraim, being eight in number, possessed the country from Gaza to Egypt, though it retained the name of one only, the Philistim; for the Greeks call part of that country Palestine. As for the rest, Ludicim, and Enemim, and Labim, who alone inhabited in Libya, and called the country from himself, Nedim, and Phethrosim, and Chesloim, and Cephthorim, we know nothing of them besides their names; for the Ethiopic war, [*Antiq. b. ii. chap. x.] which we shall describe hereafter, was the cause that those cities were overthrown.

What Josephus calls the “Ethiopic War” occurred during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose II (1493-1479 BC).

A location called Kaptar is mentioned in several texts of the Mari Tablets and is understood to be reference to Caphtor. An inscription dating to c. 1780-1760 BCE mentions a man from Caphtor (a-na Kap-ta-ra-i-im) who received tin from Mari [Syria]. Another Mari text from the same period mentions a Caphtorite weapon (kakku Kap-ta-ru-ú). Another records a Caphtorite object (ka-ta-pu-um Kap-ta-ru-ú) which had been sent by king Zimrilim of the same period [r. 1775-1761 BC], to king Shariya of Razama. A text in connection with Hammurabi [r. c. 1792-1750 BC] mentions Caphtorite (k[a-a]p-ta-ri-tum) fabric that was sent to Mesopotamia via Mari. An inventory thought to be from the same era as the previous texts mentions a Caphtorite vessel (GAL kap-ta-ri-tum) (probably a large jug or jar). (Wikipedia, ibid.)

Trude Dothan (d. 2016) received the coveted Israel Prize for archaeology in 1998, in recognition for her many years of excavating (at Deir el-Balah, Hazor and Qasile) and teaching (at Hebrew University, Princeton, New York University, Brown University and the University of California at Berkeley). One of the world’s leading authorities on the Philistines, Dothan is the author of The Philistines and Their Material Culture (Israel Exploration Society, 1982) and, with her husband, Moshe, of People of the Sea (Macmillan, 1992).”

She explains the well-accepted theory that the Philistines came originally from Crete, and thus reflected that background and the larger historical and cultural influence of the Mycenaean civilization of Greece (1600-1100 BC):

The homeland of the Philistines, Caphtor (Amos 9:7), is generally recognized by scholars as Crete, (although some believe Caphtor to be located in Cilicia in Asia Minor.)

In other Biblical references, the Philistines are synonymous with the Cherethites; that is Cretans (see Zephaniah 2:5 and Ezekiel 25:16). Various Biblical traditions suggest that the Caphtorim (or at least some of them) are to be identified with the Cherethites. Thus the Biblical sources seem to link the Philistines with a previous home in Crete. . . .

The detailed Biblical account of Goliath’s armor and weaponry is a vivid description of a Philistine warrior in full battle dress:

“And he had a helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail. … And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and one bearing a shield went before him.” (1 Samuel 17:5–7)

Goliath’s dress and armour (bronze helmet, coat of mail, bronze greaves [leg guards], and javelin) as well as the duel between champions are all well-known features of Aegean arms and warfare. They clearly indicate Aegean traditions carried on by the Philistines. The 12th century Warriors’ Vase from Mycenae shows Mycenaean warriors very similarly equipped. . . .

The shapes and decorative motifs of Philistine pottery were a blend of four distinct ceramic styles: Mycenaean, Cypriot, Egyptian, and local Canaanite. The dominant traits in shape and almost all the decorative elements were derived from the Mycenaean repertoire, and, as we have said, point to the Aegean background of Philistine pottery Philistine shapes of Mycenaean origin include bell-shaped bowls, large kraters with elaborate decoration, stirrup jars for oils and unguents, and strainer-spout beer jugs; the latter no doubt served as centerpieces at many a Philistine party. A few of the many decorative motifs are stylized birds, spiral loops, concentric half-circles, and scale patterns. Although Philistine vessels were richly decorated with motifs taken from the Mycenaean repertoire, these motifs were rearranged and integrated with other influences to create the distinctive “signature” known as Philistine. . . .

Female pottery figurines also reflect Philistine cult origins and beliefs. The “Ashdoda” is the only complete example of a well-defined type that was common from the 12th to the eighth century B.C. The Ashdoda figure is probably a schematic representation of a female deity and throne. It is clearly related to a grouping known throughout the Greek mainland, Rhodes and Cyprus—a Mycenaean female figurine seated on a throne, sometimes holding a child. These Mycenaean figurines are thought to represent a mother goddess. . . .

Burial customs are generally a sensitive indicator of cultural affinities, and Philistine burial customs reflect the same fusion of Aegean background with Egyptian and local Canaanite elements that distinguishes every other aspect of their culture. (“What We Know About the Philistines”, Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1982)

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Genesis 26:1 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to Abim’elech king of the Philistines.

I accept the life and death dates of Abraham as being c. 1813 BC-c. 1638 BC (this period is the Middle Bronze Age II, for the Near East), based on the estimate of the Jewish Virtual Library. In 1956, the eminent Israeli archaeologist  Yohanan Aharoni identified the Tel Haror site as the biblical Gerar. It’s located in the western Negev Desert of Israel, between Gaza and Beersheba, some 14 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. This is the ancient territory of the Philistines. Could it have been visited by Isaac, as the Bible states? Yes! The Wikipedia article on the archaeological site states:

During the Middle Bronze Age II it was one of the largest urban centres in the area, occupying about 40 acres. The city contains substantial remains of Middle Bronze Age II through to Persian-period settlement strata.

The Middle Bronze Age in the Levant ran from 2000-1550 BC, with Middle Bronze Age II referring to 1750-1650 BC.

Minoan graffito was found in the sacred precinct dating to ca. 1600 BCE. Analyses of the sherd determined that it originated in Crete, most likely the south coast. (Ibid.)

For more information on this find, see: Day, Peter M., et al. 1999 “Petrographic Analysis of the Tel Haror Inscribed Sherd: Seeking Provenance Within Crete.” Aegaeum 20: 191–96; and Oren, Eliezer D., et al. 1996 “A Minoan Graffito from Tel Haror (Negev, Israel).” Cretan Studies 5: 91-118.

Israeli archaeologist Avner Raban (1937-2004) wrote a very educational article in 1991, entitled, “Minoan and Canaanite Harbours.” Aegaeum 7: 129-46. It has many tie-ins to our subject matter, and supports a notion that commerce may have been what brought the Philistines from Crete to Canaan (and to Egypt):

Cretan artifacts were found in [Egyptian] 12th dynasty [1991-1802 BC] sites in many places along the Nile Valley (such as Karun, Gahob, Abydos and even in the oasis of Harageh). Egyptian artifacts of that period were found at Cretan Middle Minoan [2100-1600 BC] context . . . Similar Middle Minoan II [1800-1700 BC] artifacts were found in Levantine trade centres such as Byblos [Lebanon], Ugarit [Syria] and even the inland Qatna [Syria] . . .

Sargon I [20th-19th c. BC] of Akkad (Agade) mentioned Crete (. . . the biblical Kaphtor) together with sources of metal ores from over the Mediterranean, already in the 24th century B.C.E. and a broken Akkadian cuneiform  inscription of around 1800 B.C.E. was found on the island of Kythera [island between the Greek mainland and Crete]. An early Babylonian cylinder seal of about the same period in Tholos B in Platanos, in the Messara Valley in Crete. (p. 144) [my bracketed material and links]

Australian archaeologist Robert Merrillees reports in his 2003 article, “The First Appearances of Kamares Ware in the Levant.” Egypt and the Levant 13: 127-42, on the discovery of a portion of a Minoan cup from around 1800 BC, that was found in Ashkelon, part of ancient Philistia, on the coast.

At Tel Kabri in present-day northwest Israel on the coast, are archaeological remains “containing one of the largest Middle Bronze Age (2,100–1,550 BCE) Canaanite palaces in Israel” (Wikipedia). The article continues:

Among the discoveries at the site by the two full-scale archaeological expeditions, two have attracted particular attention from the archaeological community. The first finding to come to international attention was the discovery of Minoan-style frescoes in the palace at Kabri. As of 2015, these are the only Minoan paintings ever discovered in Israel.

Sources:

Cline, E. H.; Yasur-Landau, A.; Goshen, N. (2011). “New Fragments of Aegean-Style Painted Plaster from Tel Kabri, Israel”(PDF)American Journal of Archaeology15 (2)

Science Daily (7 December 2009). “Remains Of Minoan-Style Painting Discovered During Excavations Of Canaanite Palace”.

These have been dated by Cline et al to the 17th century BC (p. 245; Abstract).

No one needs to hold that these earlier Philistines from Crete were a great nation prior to the 12th century BC, when everyone believes they quickly became so. But archaeology suggests that there were enough of them present in the region, to be mentioned as such in the early Bible passages.

Nature (7-4-19) reports:

The Philistines appear repeatedly in the Bible, but their origins have long been mysterious. Now genetic evidence suggests that this ancient people trace some of their ancestry west all the way to Europe.

Choongwon Jeong and Johannes Krause at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, and their colleagues analysed the DNA of ten ancient people whose bones were found in Ashkelon, a Philistine city located in modern-day Israel. The DNA suggests an influx of people of European heritage into Ashkelon in the twelfth century BC. The individuals’ DNA shows similarities to that of ancient Cretans, but the team warns that it is impossible to specify the immigrants’ homeland because of the limited number of ancient genomes available for study.

The closest DNA match was Crete: about 43%. So once again, we see that archaeology has supported biblical accuracy. The Philistines (according to genetics) likely originated in Crete, just as the Bible stated in Genesis, Jeremiah, and Amos. And significant numbers of them were present in Egypt and Canaan before 1200 BC: again, precisely as the Bible states.

Note also that when the Bible mentions Isaac’s visit to the Philistine king Abim’elech (1950 BC or so), no mention is made of the five famous cities of Philistia: Gaza, Ashdod, Ash’kelon, Gath, and Ekron (Joshua 13:3). They were much more important later. All that was mentioned was Gerar, which I have shown from archaeology was flourishing at that time. But if the Bible were so anachronistic, as charged, it seems like it would have mentioned them. Instead, it’s historically accurate.

And we would expect the systematic historical and archaeological accuracy that we actually find, in a book believed in [very reasonable] faith by Christians and Jews to be the inspired revelation of God.

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Photo credit: Aaadir (4-29-21). Tel Haror, widely thought to be the remains of the biblical city of Gerar. [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication]

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Summary: Atheist JMS Pearce tries to argue that the early biblical references to the Philistines are anachronistic: thus proving the inaccuracy of the Bible. Wrong again!: says secular archaeology.

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May 22, 2021

Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce has fun in his latest attack on the historical accuracy of the Bible: “Debunking the Exodus III: Camels” (5-22-21). In it he presents the findings of various archaeologists. He opines:

I have in other posts mentioned a Tel Aviv University Press Release reporting research that has built on work hinted at in Israel Finkelstein’s The Bible Unearthed which claimed that camels were not domesticated in the Ancient Near East [until] long after they are claimed to be existent and members of a goodly number of biblical stories. In other words, these anachronisms strongly suggest that the claims of the Bible were made up. . . . 

Mentions of camels are problematic because camels were simply not used at the time [19th c. BC in Egypt, by Joseph] as domesticated animal transportation. . . . 

[end of article] The narratives and the facts claimed about them (i.e., their dating) are thus found to be riddled with problematic holes. This is the joy of skepticism – doubting even the most innocuous things and analysing claims to see if they stand or fall.

He cites several people who conclude that camels were not domesticated in the ancient near east until the 9th century BC. The folks he cites take shots at camels in Egypt during the time of Moses and the Exodus (generally dated by non-radical scholars at 13th-12th c. BC).

It looks like he ignored a ton of evidence to the contrary. I guess that’s the “joy” he refers to: ignoring and making out that a bunch of sources don’t even exist. That doesn’t sound like true “joy” to me; it sounds like either 1) stupefied ignorance or 2) deliberate intellectual dishonesty. In charity to Jonathan, I will assume that the first scenario is true in his case. He doesn’t strike me as a deliberate liar. But woeful ignorance about biblical matters and biblical scholarship among atheists (especially the many who were former fundamentalists and who think that small sub-community is the sum and height of Christian scholarship) is both endemic and relentlessly pathetic and uninformed / misinformed.

As but one example of this rank ignorance, Pearce mentions Rebecca Bradley, who wrote the chapter, “The Credibility of the Exodus”, in John Loftus’ Christianity in the Light of Science. She wrote:

Equally damning is the mention of Job’s herd of six thousand camels (Job 42:12) at the impossibly early date of 2100 BCE according to conventional Bible chronology.

“Conventional Bible chronology”?? Way back in 1910, the Catholic Encyclopedia (“Job”), stated:

The author of the book is unknown, neither can the period in which it was written be exactly determined. . . . It is now universally and correctly held that the book is not earlier than the reign of Solomon [approximately 960-920 BC].

Protestant evangelical (“conservative”) scholar Gleason L. Archer, in his book, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1964, gave his opinion:

Inasmuch as Job contains no references to historical events and reflects a non-Hebraic cultural background concerning which we possess little or no information, it is not easy to assign a probable date for the lifetime and career of Job. . . .

A distinction must be drawn between the historical period when Job actually lived and the time when this record of his ordeal was composed. . . . In general there are five main views maintained by biblical scholars today: (1) in the patriarchal age; (2) in the reign of Solomon; (3) in the reign of Manasseh; [r. c. 687-c. 643] (4) in the generation of Jeremiah; [c. 650-c. 570 BC] (5) during or after the Exile. [after 586 BC] . . .

In our present century there are rather few scholars even among leading conservatives who would venture to insist upon a pre-Mosaic date. . . . (pp. 440-442)

Despite all of this, Bradley somehow (inexplicably) thinks that 2100 BC for the time of Job is “conventional Bible chronology.” She couldn’t possibly adopt such a date if she actually looked at what Christian scholars held in actuality. The only way we can understand such a ludicrous claim is to be aware that atheists habitually assume that fundamentalist Christian thinking is somehow representative of Christianity as a whole (as I have been pointing out for at least twenty years now).

As it is, what she thinks is “conventional” in Christianity about the dating of Job is held by vanishingly few scholars, even among the most conservative and traditional (it’s an extreme, fringe position even among fundamentalists). The dates held by the vast majority of Christian scholars are within or not chronologically distant at all from even the claims of Pearce in his paper: 10th century BC (Solomon) or earlier (thus making Job’s possession of camels a complete non-issue).

As an archaeologist, Bradley should know far better than to make such a ludicrous claim. But misrepresenting Christian scholarship is the order of the day among anti-theist atheists. When your constant goal is to make Christians and Christianity look stupid and anti-intellectual / anti-scientific (and to foster wrongheaded prejudice against them), this is what you do.

Dr. Dewayne Bryant, in his article, “Abraham’s Camels” (Apologetics Press, 2014), blows all these claims out of the water. Here are his academic credentials:

M.A. in Bible from Reformed Theological Seminary (2000) and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in Old Testament from Amridge University (2017). He has additional coursework in Biblical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (2004-2006). He has participated in archaeological excavations at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional memberships in the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

I cite a large portion of his case from the article (with my bracketed geographical interjections):

Evidence shows that camels were known as early as the 4th millennium B.C., and domesticated before the beginning of the second. Biblical scholar Joseph Free surveyed the available evidence and concluded that the camel was well known in Egypt from earliest times, as early as the Fourth Dynasty [c. 2613-2494 BC] (Free, 1944). Michael Ripinsky notes that excavations carried out over a century ago established the presence of camels in Egypt dating back at least to the First Dynasty (3100-2850 B.C.) with additional evidence indicating they were known in Pre-Dynastic times (prior to 3100 B.C.) (1985, 71:136-137). Although the domestication of the camel may have come much later, it nevertheless preceded the age of the patriarchs.

Ancient texts mention the camel in passing, but do so in ways that indicate they had been domesticated early in Mesopotamian history. A lexical text found at Nippur [ancient Sumeria; present-day Iraq] known as HAR.ra-bullum, alludes to camel milk (Archer, 1970, 127[505]:17). To risk stating the obvious, one does not simply milk a wild animal. Another text from the ancient city of Ugarit [present-day Syria] mentions the camel “in a list of domesticated animals during the Old Babylonian period (1950-1600)”, suggesting that it, too, was domesticated (Davis, 1986, p. 145). A fodder-list from Alalakh [present-day Turkey] (18th century B.C.) includes the line 1 SA.GAL ANSE.GAM.MAL (269:59), translated as “one (measure of) fodder—camel” (Wiseman, 1959, 13:29; translation in Hamilton 1990, p. 384). Animals in the wild do not need feeding; they forage for themselves.

A cylinder seal from Syria (c. 1800 B.C.) depicts two short figures riding a camel. Gordon and Rendsburg state, “The mention of camels here [in Genesis 24] and elsewhere in the patriarchal narratives often is considered anachronistic. However, the correctness of the Bible is supported by the representation of camel riding on seal cylinders of precisely this period from northern Mesopotamia (1997, p. 121). While the riders on the seal seem to be deities, it nevertheless demonstrates the concept of camel riding (for illustration and discussion, see Gordon, 1939, 6[1]:21; Collon, 2000, Fig. 8).

Numerous discoveries of figurines depicting domesticated camels have been found from a wide range of locations in the ancient world. From the territory of Bactria-Margiana near present-day northern Afghanistan (late 3rd to early 2nd millennium) comes a copper alloy figurine of a camel equipped with a harness, now housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Terracotta models of camel-drawn carts (dating as early as c. 2200 B.C.) have been discovered at the city of Altyn-Depe in present-day Turkmenistan (Kirtcho, 2009, 37[1]:25-33). A bronze figurine of a kneeling camel found in Byblos [ancient Phoenicia; present-day Lebanon] (19th-18th century B.C) is incomplete, with the hump (and its load) missing. However, the figurine has a slot in its back where the hump could be attached separately. Early in the 20th century, excavations conducted by the British School of Archaeology at Rifeh, Egypt explored a tomb and discovered a pottery figurine of a camel bearing a load of two water jars. Based on the pottery in the tomb, William Flinders Petrie dated it to the Nineteenth Dynasty (c. 1292-1187 B.C.) (Ripinsky, 1985, 71:139-140).

A rock inscription in hieratic (a type of Egyptian script) found near Aswan has an accompanying petroglyph of a man leading a dromedary camel. It is thought to date to the Sixth Dynasty (c. 2345-c. 2181 B.C.; Ripinsky, p. 139). If interpreted correctly, this petroglyph gives evidence of the domestication of the camel in Egypt roughly 2300-2200 B.C., centuries before the patriarchs ever visited. Additional petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai include a depiction of a man leading a dromedary. One author tentatively dates these petroglyphs to 1500 B.C. based on the presence of nearby inscriptions whose dates are known (Younker, 1997).

Finally, a curious piece of evidence comes from the ancient city of Mari [present-day Syria]. A camel burial (c. 2400-2200 B.C.) was discovered within a house. Ancient people often buried their animals, and this could hardly be explained away as a wild camel wandering into a home and subsequently buried by the occupants. . . .

The Bible records the existence of domesticated camels in the patriarchal narratives, but their footprint is actually quite small. They are listed among the very last items in the total wealth of both Abraham (Genesis 12:16) and Jacob (30:43; 32:7,15). They are mentioned as being used for travel by the patriarchs (Genesis 24:10-64; 31:17,34) and by the Midianites (Genesis 37:25). The Egyptians used them for transport as well (Exodus 9:3). Despite their use for transportation, however, the donkey appears as the favored mode of transportation for the patriarchs. In the ancient Near East as a whole, the same might be said during the early second millennium B.C.—the camel was known and domesticated, but not widely used until later.

Free makes an important observation that applies today just as much as it did a half century ago: “Many who have rejected this reference to Abraham’s camels seem to have assumed something which the text does not state. It should be carefully noted that the biblical reference does not necessarily indicate that the camel was common in Egypt at the time, nor does it evidence that the Egyptians had made any great progress in the breeding and domestication of the camel. It merely says that Abraham had camels” (Free, 3:191). Kitchen sums up the matter: “[T]he camel was for long a marginal beast in most of the historic ancient Near East (including Egypt), but it was not wholly unknown or anachronistic before or during 2000-1100” (2003, 339, italics in orig., emp. added).

Those claiming the absence of domesticated camels during the patriarchal age must deny a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, the evidence is both early and spread over a large geographical area. It includes figurines, models, petroglyphs, burials, seals, and texts. While some of this evidence is relatively recent, some of it has been known for over a century. Critics often claim that believers refuse to consider any evidence that has a bearing on the validity of their faith. It would appear that in the case of Abraham’s camels, the opposite is true.

REFERENCES

Archer, Gleason (1970). “Old Testament History and Recent Archaeology from Abraham to Moses,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 127[505]:3-25.

Collon, Dominque (2000), “L’animal dans les échanges et les relations diplomatiques,” Les animaux et les hommes dans le monde syro-mésopotamien aux époques historiques, Topoi Supplement 2, Lyon.

Davis, John J. (1986), “The Camel in Biblical Narratives,” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer: Essays on the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody Press), pp. 141-150.

Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels.” Journals of Near Eastern Studies, 3[3]:187-193.

Gordon, Cyrus H. (1939), “Western Asiatic Seals in the Walters Art Gallery,” Iraq, 6[1:3-34.

Gordon, Cyrus H. and Gary A. Rendsburg (1997), The Bible and the Ancient Near East (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.), fourth edition.

Hamilton, Victor P. (1990), The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Kirtcho, L. B. (2009), “The Earliest Wheeled Transport in Southwestern Central Asia: New Finds from Alteyn-Depe,” Archaeology Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, 37[1]:25-33.

Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Ripinsky, Michael (1985), “The Camel in Dynastic Egypt,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 71:134-141.

Wiseman, Donald J. (1959), “Ration Lists from Alalakh VII,” Journal of Cuneiform Studies, 13:19-33.

Younker, Randall W. (1997), “Late Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai,” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, 42:47-54.

The Website ABC Religion & Ethics offers the article, “Did the camel break the Bible’s back? Nice try, but no” (2-27-14), by George Athas (a Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, who teaches Hebrew and Old Testament at Moore Theological College. He specialises in ancient Israel and is the author of The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappraisal and a New Interpretation [Sheffield Academic Press, 2003]):

[W]e have carvings from Egypt of humans leading one-humped dromedaries from circa 2200 BC, and perhaps earlier. How did these camels get there from their native Arabia? These ships of the desert didn’t sail across the Red Sea. And Moses wouldn’t be born for centuries yet, so they can’t have opportunistically crossed at the parting of the Red Sea either! They must have swung through or close by Israel instead.

What’s more, we have texts from ancient Syria dated to circa 1900 BC mentioning people using camel’s milk. This is roughly the time Abraham would have ridden a camel through that area on his way to Israel. We have similar texts dated to the same period from Mesopotamia, where Abraham was born. . . .

I fear it’s not the ancient authors demonstrating their flaws on this one, but the modern ones. . . . The evidence is clear: camels were domesticated throughout the Ancient Near East well before 930 BC. . . .

Perhaps the Bible is more than a collection of moral parables. Perhaps it’s an account of God’s tortured relationship with humanity, marvellously retold by those at the historic heart of the relationship. Or is it easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for us moderns to admit we might learn something – even something divine – from our ancient forebears?

In any case, swallowing this headline about camels is little more than straining over a gnat.

Jews have weighed in on this debate as well. Orthodox rabbi and Bible scholar Joshua Berman wrote in The Times of Israel an article, “Yes, Virginia, the Patriarchs really did ride on camels” (11-12-20):

[subtitle] The New York Times was wrong: Archaeological data about the camel actually affirms the accuracy and antiquity of the Genesis accounts. . . .

The NY Times piece was an exercise in journalistic sin. . . .

[T]he NY Times article was not only sensationalist but incorrect. Camels in Genesis are right where they belong. It is true that camels were not domesticated in Israel until the time of Solomon. But read Genesis carefully and you see that all its camels come from outside of Israel, from Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, where there is ample evidence of domestication of the camel during the period of the patriarchs. . . .

But what about the camels that carried Joseph off to Egypt (Gen 37:25)? Here, too, Scripture tells us that the camels arrived from outside of Canaan. And just as the spices they bore surely came from the east, so, too, we may surmise, did the camels. And while Jacob rode camels on his trek back from Mesopotamia (Gen 31:17; cf. 30:43), nowhere in Genesis does anyone ride a camel originating in Canaan. In the Joseph story, the brothers descend to Egypt exclusively on donkeys (Gen 42:26–27; 43:24; 44:3.13); that’s what people rode in Canaan. And thus when Joseph sends them to fetch Jacob, he provides them with donkeys and she-asses (Gen 45:23); those were the animals they knew how to handle. . . .

Camels in Genesis appear right where they should be in the patriarchal period — and, on that score, that’s all the news that’s fit to print.

See also:

“Did Camels Exist in Biblical Times? (5 reasons why domesticated camels likely existed)” (Megan Sauter, Biblical Archaeology Society / Bible History Daily, 11-12-18)

“Were There No Camels During the Time of Biblical Patriarchs?” (Mikel Del Rosario, Apologetics Guy, 12-1-17)

“Yes, Abraham Had Camels” (Alice C. Linsley, Just Genesis, 2-9-17)

“Camels: Proof That the Bible Is False?” (Christopher Eames, Watch Jerusalem, 3-29-19)

“Patriarchal Wealth and Early Domestication of the Camel” (Associates for Biblical Research / Bible and Spade, Summer 2000)

“Research: Did the Patriarchs Have Camels? Adulterating the Bible” (Ministry: International Journal for Pastors, May 1953)

“Abraham, Camels and Egypt, or, Where did Abram get his Camel from?: Genesis 12:16” (KJ Went, Difficult Sayings, 2021)

“Was the Bible wrong about Abraham having camels that early?” (Glenn Miller, Christian Thinktank, 4-18-98)

“The Date of Camel Domestication in the Ancient Near East” (T. M. Kennedy, Associates for Biblical Research, 2-17-14)

***

I got into this pathetic exchange with one of the regular commenters on Pearce’s blog (and actually one of the few nice guys and non-insulters), Geoff Benson. He wrote:

I suppose I should look at the actual text of the comment you posted but I’m fairly sure that it’s perfectly reasonable to consider Dr Dewayne Bryant. I Googled him and there was absolutely no prompting to his name. He may be a nice guy but he has no claim to anything remotely in the way of credentials. I did trace his presence to, as I expected, an evangelical church of which he is pastor. I have little doubt that his ‘doctorate’ will be in theology, possibly even one he purchased. It’s certainly not a discipline connected with that about which he writes.

If I were a flat earther I actually could come up with arguments that appear compelling to anyone who is not familiar with the subject. It would rapidly become clear, however, that the better evidence was being presented by those opposing the assertion, and that would have to include the credentials of the people who were providing that evidence. Similarly it’s reasonable to assume that the better evidence on the subject of camels in the context of the OP comes from those who are qualified. In short, quoting Bryant makes me even more certain that the OP is correct, as you would otherwise have found a better authority.

And then twelve minutes later:

Exactly as I thought. No academic background.

I replied:

Yeah, always a good policy to read what you are responding to. And so you draw me in to comment again with this inanity:

[Dr. Bryant credentials; green portions added presently] . . . graduate of Lipscomb University, where he received a B.A. in History (1998) and a M.A. in Bible (2003). He also holds a M.A. in Bible from Reformed Theological Seminary (2000) and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in Old Testament from Amridge University (2017). He has additional coursework in Biblical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (2004-2006). He has participated in archaeological excavations at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional memberships in the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

Funny: one can look up Jonathan MS Pearce for his credentials, but one learns very little. He doesn’t seem to have a doctorate degree. I think (after he got angry with me for asking) he told me he had one article published in a peer-reviewed journal or one about to be published. Yet you sop up everything he says about biblical archaeology (obviously not his field). Jonathan is an expert about every subject he writes about! Relevant degrees be damned! Do you atheists ever tire of exercising ridiculous double standards?

And of course there are tons of credentials in the many people cited. But no matter. The atheist can never be wrong, about anything, ever. The Christian is always wrong, and usually an intellectual troglodyte to boot.

Kenneth Kitchen in particular is probably the greatest living biblical archaeologist.

A second person I cited is George Athas. He teaches Hebrew and Old Testament at Moore Theological College, specialises in ancient Israel and is the author of The Tel Dan Inscription: A Reappraisal and a New Interpretation [Sheffield Academic Press, 2003]). He worked with two other people on Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: A Reader’s Edition, a work of massive biblical scholarship. He’s authored several other books about the Bible, too.

I also cited Orthodox rabbi and Bible scholar Joshua Berman: A.B. at Princeton University in 1987 and PhD at Bar-Ilan University in 2002. He has two books published by Oxford University Press.

Does that meet your exalted criterion (JMS Pearce being the exemplar of universal / renaissance man scholarly excellence and dependability)?

***

See my follow-up refutation: OT Camels & Biblically Illiterate Archaeologists [5-24-21]

***

Photo credit: OpenClipart-Vectors (4-1-16) [PixabayPixabay License]

***

Summary: Atheists argue that it is historical anachronism & inaccurate to refer to Abraham & Moses & camels; that the domestication of camels in the ancient near east dated from much later. Wrong!: as I show.

April 10, 2021

Dr. David Madison is an atheist who was a Methodist minister for nine years: with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Boston University.  I have replied to his videos or articles 45 times as of this writing. Thus far, I haven’t heard one peep back from him  (from 8-1-19 to 4-10-21). This certainly doesn’t suggest to me that he is very confident in his opinions. All I’ve seen is expressions of contempt from Dr. Madison and from his buddy, the atheist author, polemicist, and extraordinarily volatile John Loftus, who runs the ultra-insulting Debunking Christianity blog. Dr. Madison made his cramped, insulated mentality clear in a comment from 9-6-19:

[T]he burden of the apologist has become heavy indeed, and some don’t handle the anguish well. They vent and rage at critics, like toddlers throwing tantrums when a threadbare security blanket gets tossed out. We can smell their panic. Engaging with the ranters serves no purpose—any more than it does to engage with Flat-Earthers, Chemtrail conspiracy theorists, and those who argue that the moon landings were faked. . . . I prefer to engage with NON-obsessive-compulsive-hysterical Christians, those who have spotted rubbish in the Bible, and might already have one foot out the door.

Only preaching to the choir from Dr. Madison! One can’t be too careful in avoiding any criticism or challenge. John “you are an idiot!” Loftus even went to the length of changing his blog’s rules of engagement, so that he and Dr. Madison could avoid replying to yours truly, or even see notices of my substantive replies (er, sorry, rants, rather). He wrote in part:

Some angry Catholic apologist has been tagging our posts with his angry long-winded responses. . . . If any respectful person has a counter-argument or some counter-evidence then bring it. State your case in as few words as possible and then engage our commenters in a discussion. . . . I talked with David Madison who has been the target of these links and he’s in agreement with this decision. He’s planning to write something about one or more of these links in the near future.

Needless to say, I still await these long-promised replies to any of my critiques from good ol’ Dr. Madison. His words will be in blue.

Presently, I am replying to his article, “Bible Blunders & Bad Theology, Part 6″ (11-27-20).

*****

Question Two: How Would Anyone Acquire Knowledge of a Miraculous Conception?

“Well, God told the authors, didn’t he?” This works for those who believe the Bible is God’s inspired word. But they react with proper skepticism when other religions claim the same thing for the Qur’an and Book of Mormon—which they don’t accept for a moment. Historians know very well that “God told them” doesn’t work; it’s faith-bias out of control, claiming far more than can be objectively known. John Loftus pointed this out in his Christmas day post in 2016: 

How might anonymous gospel writers, 90 plus years later, objectively know Jesus was born of a virgin? Who told them? The Holy Spirit? Why is it God speaks to individuals in private, subjective, unevidenced whispers? Those claims are a penny a dozen.

You may fervently believe within your heart, but there are no data by which virgin birth can be confirmed; it is a feature of ancient folklore. . . . 

How many Catholics have paused their adoration of Mary long enough to ask: How do theologians know what was happening in the womb of a first century Galilean teenager? . . . 

This theology thrives among those who never ask—who have been taught not to ask—How do you know all this? All this is fueled by theological imagination, and a fair amount of craftiness too, that is, digging for texts that can be construed to support flights of fantasy. Why do people take it seriously? 

I doubt that theology can be grounded in reality; objective evidence for god(s) has never been found. . . . superstitious folklore that gods use virgins to beget human children.  

Wow. Really? Is Dr. Madison truly this fantastically clueless and, well, stupid? Just a moment’s thought (no more) will provide any sentient being with an IQ higher than a rusty nail enough time to figure this one out. It’s not rocket science, but it is science of a rather obvious, straightforward type: the science of biology and specifically reproduction, to be exact.

How would anyone know that they were the carriers of a baby who was not conceived by man, but by God? Here’s how it works (perhaps Dr. Madison — i.e., if he ever read any opposing opinions ever — and his equally zealous buddy John Loftus will have to read this three times to grasp it):

1) Mary is visited by an angel (the Annunciation: recorded in Luke 1:26-38).

2) This angel (Gabriel) informs her that “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son” (Lk 1:31).

3) Mary asks the logical and reasonable question: “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” (Lk 1:34). She was a farm girl. She knew how babies came about in both animals and human beings.

4) The angel explained to her that she would bear the Messiah and the Son of God / God the Son (Lk 1:32-33, 35) by means of a miraculous virgin birth: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35).

Now, how could anyone possibly find out about such a miracle? Well, we can by listening to Mary’s own testimony about it, which got to Luke either directly, or through oral tradition.

How can we possibly verify such a miracle? How can we “know”? After all, Dr. Madison in his infinite wisdom, has informed us that “there are no data by which virgin birth can be confirmed” and that it’s mere “folklore” and is simply “imagination” and “craftiness” and “flights of fantasy.” Why (Dr. Madison passionately inquires), would anyone “take it seriously”? It’s not “grounded in reality.”

Now, we all realize that we’re dealing with an atheist (and apostate) who rejects all biblical texts as inaccurate and untrustworthy: especially if they express a supernatural event that the atheist redefines out of existence before even fairly examining it. But that’s rather beside the point. Here, as in all his innumerable bashings of the Bible and Christianity, Dr. Madison is making the point that it is internally incoherent, and ought not be believed by any rational and “scientific” person.

He’s not asking the question: “why should we believe the account of Luke 1 as historical?” He’s asking a much more philosophically fundamental question and an epistemological one: how could such a thing as a virgin birth be known at all, by anyone? That’s why he frames it as “how would anyone acquire” such knowledge? In other words, how it is possible even in a theoretical or hypothetical sense, to know this and to pass it on to another chronicler like Luke? He thinks the entire thing (believe it or not believe it) is impossible and absurd from A to Z: totally ridiculous and nothing but. And so he taunts us Christians to explain this event that to him is utterly inexplicable.

With that runaround introduction, let’s get back to the second question: How can we possibly verify such a miracle? Well, again, it’s very simple:

1) In due course, it will be physically evident that she is indeed pregnant, and in nine months she delivers the baby Jesus.

2) She knows for a fact that she has not been intimate with a man at any time before Jesus was born, nor (most Christians through history have believed) at any time in her life.

3) Therefore, she has rather compelling proof that a miracle did indeed occur. She was impregnated by the Holy Spirit and not a man, precisely as the angel told her.

She not only “knows” this for sure, but she knows it with a certainly perhaps as compelling as that for any miracle ever, since babies can only come about by one natural process, which did not occur in her case. 

So how can we “know”? How can anyone “confirm” or “take” the virgin birth “seriously”? I just explained it. It happened to a human being, and the most reasonable explanation is to accept that what the angel told Mary was absolutely true: since the obvious miracle has to be explained somehow.

Once Jesus was born and lived His life, performed many extraordinary miracles, claimed in many ways to be God in the flesh, and ultimately rose from the dead, even visited His followers after His death, then it was also confirmed beyond all reasonable doubt that He was God.

The entire process is verifiable and empirical at all stages: the virgin birth is a physical event that’s proven by a pregnancy occurring without intercourse. Jesus proves Who He is by performing verifiable miracles (a lame man walks, a blind man sees, a demon-possessed man is liberated; dead people are raised; Jesus Himself rises from the dead. He meets with His disciples after death and shows that He has a resurrected body, by eating fish and having Thomas feel the wound in His side. 500 people see Him after death. They go out and transform the world with His gospel message of salvation: many of them dying for their faith.

What more does one need? Nothing except faith. The atheist lacks that and immediately shrugs off all such evidence (usually with accompanying smirks and mockery). There are many possible causes for why they might do so: but none of them derive from a fair, objective examination of Christian claims, or a rational, logical analysis. We see how utterly irrational and laughable this objection was.

***

Photo credit: The Annunciation (1644), by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

***

Summary: Atheist anti-theist sophist Dr. Madison asks how Jesus’ virgin birth could possibly be “confirmed”? How can anyone “know” it happened? Very simple: listen to Mary’s own report. This ain’t rocket science. But it is biological science.

***

Tags: alleged biblical contradictions, anti-Christian bigotry, anti-theism, anti-theists, Atheism, atheist exegesis, atheist hermeneutics, atheists, Bible “contradictions”, contradictions in the Bible, critiques of Christianity, David Madison, Debunking Christianity, Madison Malarkey, virgin birth, Mariology, Annunciation, Blessed Virgin Mary, John Loftus 

***

April 10, 2021

Mark 16:17-18 and the Various Sign Miracles

Dr. David Madison is an atheist who was a Methodist minister for nine years: with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Boston University.  I have replied to his videos or articles 44 times as of this writing. Thus far, I haven’t heard one peep back from him  (from 8-1-19 to 4-9-21). This certainly doesn’t suggest to me that he is very confident in his opinions. All I’ve seen is expressions of contempt from Dr. Madison and from his buddy, the atheist author, polemicist, and extraordinarily volatile John Loftus, who runs the ultra-insulting Debunking Christianity blog. Dr. Madison made his cramped, insulated mentality clear in a comment from 9-6-19:

[T]he burden of the apologist has become heavy indeed, and some don’t handle the anguish well. They vent and rage at critics, like toddlers throwing tantrums when a threadbare security blanket gets tossed out. We can smell their panic. Engaging with the ranters serves no purpose—any more than it does to engage with Flat-Earthers, Chemtrail conspiracy theorists, and those who argue that the moon landings were faked. . . . I prefer to engage with NON-obsessive-compulsive-hysterical Christians, those who have spotted rubbish in the Bible, and might already have one foot out the door.

Only preaching to the choir from Dr. Madison! One can’t be too careful in avoiding any criticism or challenge. John “you are an idiot!” Loftus even went to the length of changing his blog’s rules of engagement, so that he and Dr. Madison could avoid replying to yours truly, or even see notices of my substantive replies (er, sorry, rants, rather). He wrote in part:

Some angry Catholic apologist has been tagging our posts with his angry long-winded responses. . . . If any respectful person has a counter-argument or some counter-evidence then bring it. State your case in as few words as possible and then engage our commenters in a discussion. . . . I talked with David Madison who has been the target of these links and he’s in agreement with this decision. He’s planning to write something about one or more of these links in the near future.

Needless to say, I still await these long-promised replies to any of my critiques from good ol’ Dr. Madison. His words will be in blue.

Presently, I am replying to his article, “Remarkable Resistance to Rational Inquiry” (2-19-21).

*****

Many of the faithful . . . sense that religion has claimed too much. They know that the famous promise of the risen Jesus in Mark 16 just isn’t true, i.e., that baptized Christians—using Jesus’ name—will be able to “…cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (vv. 17-18)

These verses quality as Bible silliness (not really excused because they’re in the fake ending of Mark) and are disconfirmed by Christians in their daily lives. But there are still great expectations of God the Great Healer, with little more than faith to go on.

The only silly and dumbfounded person here is Dr. Madison: who should know much better than to make such a clueless argument. As so often, this involves non-literal genre of the Bible: a not uncommon occurrence. For example, hyperbole (exaggeration) is often used by Jesus. But in this instance it’s proverbial language: general statements that are often true, but which admit of many exceptions. In other words, this is not some hyper-literal statement that any and every Christian will be able to do any of these things anytime, at will.

No; rather, it’s a proverbial statement that among Christians as a whole, one will be able to observe all of these phenomena: demons being cast out (mostly the domain of the exorcist today), speaking in new tongues, not being hurt by poisonous snakes or poison in a drink, and healing the sick by touch.  We can easily show in several ways that this saying was not meant literally; that is, wasn’t intended to describe universal application.

I’ve already educated Dr. Madison three times (one / two / three) with regard to the true biblical teaching on healing, which is not universal or on command. I dealt with the topic of healing in the Bible early on in my apologetics apostolate (1982). But he never learns anything because he refuses to engage any criticism, let alone to be corrected; so he repeats the same hogwash over and over (apparently thinking his argument improves by repeating lies). He even buys the same tripe that some of the silliest, most gullible, and scripturally ignorant Christians (that he despises) accept. How ironic, huh? The “smart” atheist who believes the same ridiculous and unbiblical thing that fundamentalist ignoramuses do (i.e., that God supposedly heals all the time, upon command, as if He were a genie in a bottle) . . .

The way Jesus phrases it shows that He is talking generally about the collective of Christians: “these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will . . .” (Mk 16:17, RSV).

It’s like saying, “these things will accompany those who play basketball in the NBA: slam dunks, 55% three-point-shooting, triple-doubles, 20 rebounds a game, scoring of 50 points a game, and averages of 10 or more assists per game.”

We can see examples of individual Christians doing these things in the Bible. Speaking in tongues occurred on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4-12) and on other occasions of new believers receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45-46; 19:6). St. Paul talks about “gifts of healing . . . the working of miracles . . . various kinds of tongues” (1 Cor 12:9-10) but specifically states that not everyone has every gift: “All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (12:11).

He nails down this point of diversity and not unanimity of every gift by comparing the spiritual gifts and the Church itself to different parts of the body (12:12-27). Then he reiterates the notion of different gifts for different Christians: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? [30] Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” (12:29-30). This is a literal explanation of what Jesus expressed in a proverbial fashion. St. Paul is described as not being hurt by a snake:

Acts 28:3, 5-6 Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, when a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. . . . [5] He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. [6] They waited, expecting him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

Acts 8:7 states: “For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed . . .” References to healing can be found in Acts 5:16 and 8:7.  The first says “all” were healed; the second says “many.” So it’s not true that all are supposed to be healed all the time. See my healing paper above for much more along those lines. Acts 28:8 refers specifically to Paul healing a man by laying his hands on him.

***

Photo credit: St. Paul, shipwrecked on Malta, is attacked by a snake which he shakes off into a fire; it does not harm him and the onlookers take him for a god. Etching after J. Thornhill. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. Refer to Wellcome blog post (archive). [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license]

***

Summary: Atheist Dr. David Madison appears to take everything in the Bible literally: leading him to the same silly conclusions as uneducated fundamentalists. I explain biblical proverbial language, so he (and many atheists like him) can get up to speed.

*

Tags: alleged biblical contradictions, anti-Christian bigotry, anti-theism, anti-theists, atheism, atheist exegesis,  atheist hermeneutics, atheists, Bible “contradictions”,  contradictions in the Bible, critiques of Christianity, David Madison, Debunking Christianity, Madison Malarkey, biblical proverbial language

***

April 3, 2021

Atheists love to discuss the problem of evil, which they consider a knockout punch to Christianity: or at least to the notion that God is good and all-powerful. Recently an anti-theist atheist polemicist noted that someone “constructed an annotated bibliography of more than 4,200 philosophical and theological writings on the problem of evil published from 1960 to 1990—nearly one publication every 2½ days, and that is only in English.” They milk it for all it’s worth.

And for our part, many Christian apologists and theologians (including myself) agree that the problem of evil is the most difficult issue that Christians have to deal with and explain: though we do believe (over against atheists and other skeptics) that it’s not fatal to Christianity or the belief in a good God at all, and that we have more than adequate answers to it.

We hear a lot less, however, about the corresponding (and I contend, even more difficult) issue that atheists have to explain from their own perspective: “the problem of good.” After seeing yet another treatment of the problem of evil on my favorite atheist blog (A Tippling Philosopher), I decided to produce this paper, drawn from three previous efforts (the first listed is my favorite debate ever, with anyone):

The “Problem of Good”: Great Dialogue with an Atheist (vs. Mike Hardie) (+ Part Two) [6-5-01]

Dialogue w Agnostic/Deist on the “Problem of Good” [7-18-18]

The “Problem of Good”: Dialogue w Atheist Academic [9-11-19]

I will be selecting “highlights” of my own comments (with a word or a capital added here and there), in order to produce a more succinct or compact version of the argument. Three asterisks will separate the excerpts from each other.

***

The atheist:

1) Can’t really consistently define “evil” in the first place;

2) Has no hope of eventual eschatological justice;

3) Has no objective basis of condemning evil.

***

Atheist justifications for morality (i.e., logically carried through) will always be — i.e., in their logical reduction and/or ultimate result — either completely arbitrary, relativistic to the point of absurdity, or derived from axiomatic assumptions requiring no less faith than Christian ethics require.

***

Atheists are usually as moral and upright as a group as any other group of people. But to the extent that they are moral and good, I argue that this is inevitably in conflict with their ultimate ground of ethics, however it is spelled-out, insofar as it excludes God. Without God it will always be relative and arbitrary and usually unable to be enforced except by brute force. Atheists act far better than their ethics (in their ultimate reduction).

The Communists, though, acted fairly consistently with their atheistic principles (as they laid them out — not that all atheists will or must act this way, which is manifestly false). God was kicked out, and morality became that which Marx (or Lenin) decreed.

***

In the atheist (purely logical and philosophical) world, Hitler and Stalin and Mao and other evil people go to their graves and that’s it! They got away with their crimes. They could have theoretically gone out of the world (as well as all through their lives) laughing and mocking all their victims, because there literally was no justice where they are personally concerned. Why this wouldn’t give the greatest pause and concern to the atheist moralist and ethicist is beyond me.

In the Christian worldview, though, the scales of justice operate in the afterlife as well as (quite imperfectly) in human courts and in gargantuan conflicts like World War II where the “good guys” (all in all) managed to win. Hitler and Stalin do not “pull one over on God” (or on an abstract notion of justice). They don’t “get away with murder.” They are punished, and eternally at that, barring a last-minute repentance which is theoretically possible, but not likely. All makes sense in the end. . . .

That doesn’t make it a bed of roses for us, by any means, but it is sure a lot easier to endure than under atheist assumptions, where one returns to the dust and ceases to exist, quite often having utterly failed at life, or having been abused their entire life, with nothing significant to ever look forward to. Where is the hope and purpose in that?

***

This is not so much an argument, as it is pointing out that the logical conclusion to atheist ethics is utter despair at what goes on in the world, and the ultimate meaninglessness of it all. It is not arguing that:

1) All is meaningless in the end; therefore no morality (in practice) is possible, and therefore all atheists are scoundrels.”

but rather:

2) The ultimate meaninglessness of the universe and the futility of seeing tyrants like Stalin do their evil deeds and never come to justice in this life or the next, ought to bring anyone who believes this to despair, and constitutes a far greater (“existential”) difficulty than the Problem of Evil — which has a number of fairly adequate rejoinders — represents for the Christian.

***

Meaning is put into all human beings by God. But more accurately, I am simply acknowledging — with Sartre — that it is a sad and troubling, devastating thing if God does not exist, that a universe with no God is (when all is said and done) a lonely, tragic, and meaningless place. This is presupposed by the very Argument from Evil that is used against us! So you can scarcely deny it! Most lives on this earth are not all that happy or fulfilled.

And you would have us believe that after miserable, ragged lives lived all through history (e.g., the millions who don’t have enough to eat right now, or the Christian victims of genocide and slavery in the Sudan), the persons die and go in the ground, and that they ought to be happy during their tortured lives? Why? What sense does it all make?

***

It is clearly far worse to have a Hitler and a Stalin do what they did and go to their end unpunished, than it is to believe in an afterlife where monster-morons like that are punished for what they did, and that those who lived a far better moral life are rewarded at long last (for many, the only significant “happiness” they ever had).

***

Atheist ethics will always end up being self-defeating, and/or relativistic to the point of being utterly incapable of practical application. Failing God, the standard then becomes a merely human one, therefore ultimately and inevitably arbitrary and relativistic and unable to be maintained for large groups of people except by brute force and dictatorship (which is precisely what happened, if Stalinism or Maoism are regarded as versions of consistent philosophical atheism to any degree, or even corrupt versions of it).

***

The atheist problem is: how to arrive at an objective criteria; how to enforce it across the board; how to make such a morality something other than the end result of a majority vote or the power of governmental coercion.

***

Christians have the universal and absolute standard: God. What do humanists have? How are worldwide ethics to be determined and lived out? If there is an atheistic ethical absolutism (as I suspect), then that will have to be explained to me: how it is arrived at; why anyone should accept it, etc.

***

1. Objective morality must be non relativistic (not relative to cultures, governments, or individuals).

2. Without a higher being, all behavioral imperatives logically and in practice reduce to (ultimately arbitrary) relativism, in the sense that no single standard will be able to be enforced for, or applied to one and all (which is what “objective morality” — #1 — requires); and that because no substantive or unquestionable criterion is given for the grounds for such a standard, as an alternate to the Christian axiomatic basis of God, in Whose Nature morality resides and is defined.

3. Therefore, there cannot logically be a self-consistent objective morality (one able to be consistently practiced by one and all in the real world) without a higher being; all merely human-based efforts will end in arbitrariness (and often, tyranny), due to the inability to arrive at a necessary, non-relative starting point and systematic moral axiom.

***

We defeated the Nazis’ and put an end to it. Great (thank God), but how does that bring justice to the 6 million Jews and many thousands of others who perished in the camps and in battle? In the Christian view there certainly is justice, because there is the Judgment and the sentence of damnation for evil persons. This is how we view the world in terms of ultimate justice and meaning, and seeking your alternative system of making sense of such monstrous evils as Nazism and Stalinism.

***

You just admitted (as far as I can tell) that “good” is relative to the individual. How, then, can there be an objective standard of “good” applied to all? By what standard do we decide what is good for everyone to do (what obligates them)?

***

Hitler thought the Holocaust was good. Stalin thought the starvation of the Ukrainians was good. Corrupt Crusaders in the Middle Ages thought slaughtering women and children was good. Timothy McVeigh thought blowing up a building and killing 168 people was good. Terrorists think blowing up cars in crowded market places is good. The American government (and most of its people) thought annihilating civilians in two entire Japanese cities by nuclear bombs was good. America thought slavery was good (and later institutional racism and discrimination). Pedophiles think molesting children is good. Etc.

How do we resolve this inherent relativism? The Aztecs thought human sacrifice was good; the Catholic Spaniards thought it was a hideous evil. How do we resolve such conflicts? Was Aztec sacrifice good or evil (or neither)? And if the latter, how do we convince someone of a different culture that what they are doing is evil?

***

I am trying to understand the atheist rationale for the most important, fundamental issues that all human beings face: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? Is there life after death? What is right and wrong? What is justice? How does one end injustice? What is love? What is truth? Etc.

***

I’m saying, “assume that all this afterlife and God business is false and untrue; now tell me how purpose, hope, and meaning is constructed in such an atheistic worldview.”

***

Is the atheist view simply existentialism, where one believes whatever they want, so as to achieve “meaningfulness”? That would be no better than the pie-in-the-sky which atheists so despise, of course. It simply substitutes pie-in-the-head (no pun intended).

***

Human beings are very curious mixtures of both great evil and great capacity for good and love. This is another thing that the Christian view explains far better than any other I have seen.

Atheists always have to chalk evil up to environment, because they don’t look at it in metaphysical, ontological, or spiritual terms. So McVeigh had a Bircher for a father; Hitler was done in by his anti-Semitism; Stalin by his lust for power, the killers at Columbine High School by the availability of guns and right-wing fanaticism, etc., and what-not. Christians say that all people are capable of great evil or great good, depending on the courses of action they take, and how they respond to God’s graces. Environment is a factor, but not the sole or overwhelmingly primary factor.

***

How about committing genocide or child molestation, or deliberately oppressing people through wealth or political power? What if those things gave a person “meaning,” since you have admitted that these things are relative to the person, and strictly subjective? No one else can tell the person who does these evils (which we all — oddly — seem to agree are “evil”) that they are wrong — it being a relative matter in the first place. This is now very close to the heart of my logical and moral problem with atheist morality (which, in my opinion, always reduces to relativism and hence to these horrendous scenarios).

***

The atheist is simply living off the cultural (and internal spiritual) “capital” of Christianity, whether he or she realizes it or not.

***

I am talking about the ultimate logical implications of atheism, regardless of how one subjectively reacts to them. The very fact of objectivism and subjectivism (assuming one grants both as realities) allows the possibility that the atheist is not subjectively facing the objective logical implications of atheism (which I maintain are nihilism and despair).

***

Just because I think atheism has bad logical implications, doesn’t mean that I think atheists are therefore “bad” people.

***

When all is said and done, the Christian believes there is a certain sort of God, and this affects everything else, and the atheist says there is no such God, and that affects everything in their view.

***

Atheism doesn’t account for the evil person whose reflection amounts only to a ruthless, Machiavellian calculation as to how he can get ahead, indifferent to how many others suffer in the process. If your “standard” is rationality and a sort of abstract utilitarian outlook, then it breaks down when we get to the quintessential evil, selfish person.

***

[2nd dialogue]

I used Hitler and Stalin in order to highlight and make it clear (by using the worst-case scenarios) what atheism entails, in terms of “cosmic justice.” It’s a scenario which is both incomprehensible and outrageous to me, and I don’t believe that the universe is like that: whatever it turns out to be in the end. In any event, Christianity (whether true or not) at least offers final justice and ultimate meaning in a way that atheism never has, and never will.

***

It is this inherent quest for meaning and happiness (which I believe is put into us by God), that causes atheists (who still have it within them too!) to deny that the universe is meaningless. I think their view that it is meaningful without God is an “unconscious” carryover from the Christian worldview. In my opinion, they have not fully grappled with the implications of a universe without God. For the Christian, such a universe would be like hell: the ultimate horror.

***

[3rd dialogue]

The problem of good is at least as big of a problem for atheism, as the problem of evil is for theism (it’s a classic turn-the-tables argument).

***

The problem of good is well  summarized in Dostoevsky’s statement, “If there’s no God and no life beyond the grave, doesn’t that mean that men will be allowed to do whatever they want?” [see more on this quotation from The Brothers Karamazov (1880)]. The way I used the argument (back in 2001) was not to assert that it proves God exists. Rather, I think it helps to establish that theism (considered as a whole) is more coherent and plausible than atheism.

***

In the Last Judgment the scales will be weighed and divine / cosmic justice will be applied. Evil people will be judged and sent to hell, and those who are saved by God’s grace will be allowed to enter heaven. Atheism obviously has no such scenario, since it denies the existence of God, the afterlife, human immortality, heaven, and hell, so my statement is absolutely true, as to atheism. It has no such thing, and cannot, by definition. And from where we stand, this is a huge problem. It’s central to the problem of good.

***

“Objective” in this context means a binding, non-arbitrary standard of absolute morals within the framework of atheism. I’m not denying that individual atheists have such moral / ethical standards for themselves. Of course they do. What I’m saying is that they are all ultimately arbitrary and relativistic without a God to ground them in, and that large atheist systems act in accordance with this moral relativism and/or amorality (Mao, Lenin, Stalin et al): and we see what they produced.

***

Any good and noble impulses within atheist consciences are there because they are innate in human beings: put there by God in the first place. If there were no God, they wouldn’t be there and evil would be far, far greater than it is now (and it is a huge and troubling problem now).

***

In the atheist outlook, the next person can always say, “who cares what you think about morality; that’s just you, and your view is no more worthy of belief or assent than the next guy’s . . .”

***

The Christian “rock bottom” is God. The atheist rock bottom is like peeling an onion: it’s nothing.

***

Many atheists (at least those in power) did indeed conclude that any evil was possible in a godless universe. If there is no ultimate morality and justice, of course this is true. It comes down to raw power and “might makes right” and reducing human beings to the “red in tooth and claw” state of primal nature and the animal kingdom, where the strong rule, in an amoral state of affairs.

***

What is the measure? And how and why would all human beings be bound to it, in a godless ethical system?

***

On what absolute / objective basis do you define “kindly” and how and why would all human beings be bound to it?

***

You certainly believe (or act like you believe) that rape is a thing that is essentially a moral absolute [i.e., absolutely immoral] in all times and places. It’s presupposed in your arguments . . . But Japanese troops during the Rape of Nanking (not particularly religiously observant) did not do so, did they?:

In the mere six weeks during which the Japanese perpetrated the Nanking Massacre starting on Dec. 13, 1937, an estimated 20,000-80,000 Chinese women were brutally raped and sexually assaulted by the invading soldiers. They sometimes went door-to-door, dragging out women and even small children and violently gang-raping them. Then, once they’d finished with their victims, they often murdered them. . . .

The invaders, though, didn’t even stop at simply murder. They made these women suffer in the worst ways possible. Pregnant mothers were cut open and rape victims were sodomized with bamboo sticks and bayonets until they died in agony.

You don’t think that rape is a moral absolute, and that it is wrong at all times? If you don’t, then you just justified the Rape of Nanking, or at least provided the “ethical” basis for someone else (in power) to justify and rationalize it. In atheist “eschatology” there is  no ultimate justice for perpetrators of monstrous crimes such as these. In Christian cosmology there is ultimate justice and hell awaiting those who do such things and who do not repent of them.

I think you would agree with me, on the other hand that the nuclear bombing of Japan was immoral insofar as it killed innocent civilians (the US then became as evil as their enemy). But in an atheist world of morality, there is no compelling reason to explain why it is immoral, and must never be violated.

***

The problem of evil presupposes that there are things that are indisputably wrong, and agreed to be so by all, as virtually self-evident. Otherwise, the atheist indictment against God (which fails, even as is) could not even begin to succeed. In other words, the atheist has to tacitly admit that the problem of good is a problem for atheism, in order to proceed against God and theism; and that is incoherent and self-contradictory. He or she winds up arguing as much for God as against, by utilizing such weak arguments.

***

I’m saying, “these are the consequences on the ground of atheism, taken consistently to its logical extreme.”

***

Societies construct legal systems, which hold that certain behaviors are wrong, and therefore, punishable by law. Law presupposes moral absolutes. Jails and judges and laws all presuppose an absolute system of morals and right and wrong. Otherwise, there could be no laws at all, and “everything would be permitted” (legal and moral anarchy). We would be back to Dostoevsky.

***

You have to casually assume moral absolutes to discuss morality at all (i.e., if you condemn any particular behaviors).

***

It can be shown that all societies agree on basic moral principles. C. S. Lewis in fact did this at the end of his book, The Abolition of Man. (what he called the Tao). We would say that is natural law and the human conscience, grounded in God. Commonalities don’t “prove” God’s existence, but this is perfectly consistent with what I wrote above, and what we would fully expect to find if God did exist. All societies, for example, have prohibitions of murder, as inherently wrong. They may differ on the parameters of murder (the definition). But they don’t disagree that there is such a thing as murder: that ought not be done, and for which there are strict penalties.

***

Related Reading

I have written a lot of material on the problem of evil as well (the first listed being my most in-depth effort):

Problem of Evil: Treatise on the Most Serious Objection (Is God Malevolent, Weak, or Non-Existent Because of the Existence of Evil and Suffering?) [2002]

God and “Natural Evil”: A Thought Experiment [2002]

Dialogue on “Natural Evil” (Diseases, Hurricanes, Drought, etc.) [2-15-04]

Replies to the Problem of Evil as Set Forth by Atheists [10-10-06]

The Problem of Evil: Dialogue with an Atheist (vs. “drunken tune”) [10-11-06]

Dialogue w Atheist John Loftus on the Problem of Evil [10-11-06]

“Logical” Problem of Evil: Alvin Plantinga’s Decisive Refutation [10-12-06]

Reply to Agnostic Ed Babinski’s “Emotional” Argument from Evil [10-23-06]

“Strong” Logical Argument from Evil Against God: RIP? [11-26-06]

Why Did a Perfect God Create an Imperfect World? [8-18-15]

Blaming God for the Holocaust (+ Other Such Bum Raps) [11-1-17]

Atheists, Miracles, & the Problem of Evil: Contradictions [8-15-18]

Alvin Plantinga: Reply to the Evidential Problem of Evil [9-13-19]

Ward’s Whoppers #14: Who Caused Job’s Suffering? [5-20-20]

God, the Natural World and Pain [National Catholic Register, 9-19-20]

***

Photo credit: Billie Burke (1884–1970), playing Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, in The Wizard of Oz (1939) [WizardofOz.com]

***

Summary: Atheists love to discuss the problem of evil, which they consider a knockout punch to Christianity. But we rarely hear about the equally or even more difficult atheist “problem of good.”

***

March 18, 2021

I got these examples from Jonathan MS Pearce’s A Tippling Philosopher blog, from four different comboxes with many hundreds of comments each: made between 3-11-21 and 3-18-21. Links will be provided. I am only documenting what they say about me; not every Christian or otherwise non-atheist who dares to enter their sublime hallowed, oh-so-academic and intelligent environs.

I’ve allowed a measure of the “PG-13” language. It almost had to be let through in order to illustrate the utter idiocy and worthlessness of all of these comments. So be forewarned.

*****

Proverbs 1:22 (RSV) How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

Proverbs 15:2 . . . the mouths of fools pour out folly.

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 26:11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool that repeats his folly.

Luke Breuer: Curiously enough, Tippling actually manages to keep a lot of insults down to a reasonable level, such that actual discussion can keep happening. And this without uniform groupthink,  . . . (3-14-21)

***

HairyEyedWordBombThrower:

Still fishing for clicks, you hack? Go away. We’re not giving you any traffic, so I hope those Communion wafers have all the required vitamins and minerals, because no clicks means no MONEY. (3-15-21)

Davie-poo, stop lying. We HAVE replied, often at great length. Then you, in your predictably cowardly fashion, block / ban / rewrite the comments as necessary to make you the hero. YOUR KIND no longer have the ability to goad us into following you back. Ain’t it great? ;-) (3-15-21)

Fishing for clicks like the beggar you are. Worse, a beggar who thinks he’s a prince, a The Prince and the Pauper-style, jumped-up cretin ‘prince’. (3-15-21)

Davie-poo, YOU make the positive claim, YOU provide evidence. We just don’t believe you because
– You *haven’t* provided evidence
– You’re a demonstrated honorless lying cretin. (3-15-21)

Dishonorably lying, blocking those who counter your assertions, rewriting comments to retroactively show you to be ‘right’…. the list goes on, Davie-poo. (3-15-21)

Oh, I know YOUR KIND demand we deny reality and allow ourselves to be abused and browbeaten with your lies… but we’re under no obligation to comply. (3-15-21)

You’ve blocked / banned / removed any contesting views, no matter how respectfully addressed. Get over yourself, or at least have the honor, courage, and general decency to not lie and then double down on your Big Lie. (3-15-21)

I see you’re still raging against your insignificance. We don’t want you to go away *mad*, just go away. And we won’t visit any more than we *have*, which is why you infest our spaces with your scrofulous presence. (3-13-21)

You’re a pathetic, needy, lonely liar who tries and constantly FAILS at taunting any of us to give your page any hits. Why don’t you just go martyrbate with YOUR KIND and leave us good people here in peace? (3-13-21)

You just want to plaster your hateful authoritarian agitprop like manure on somebody else’s property. (3-15-21)

YOU have and do support Nazis. Not our problem. Get over your hate and prejudice. (3-13-21)

You’re dodging an answer, as the answer you’re itching to give would condemn yourself. And concerning just and fair moderation of fora… pot, meet kettle. YOU PERSONALLY are the least just, least fair, *most* thin-skinned weakling bully that I’ve seen in Patheos. (3-13-21)

Poor Davie-poo. IF he answers honestly, he’ll be exposed as the fascist authoritarian power-lusting scumbag that he is. (3-13-21)

Davie-poo, when you fly in, purposely try to create bad feeling to bait denizens of those fora to follow you back to your own path etic, forlorn, deserted blog for clicks, shit in the punchbowl, etc… why SHOULDN’T you be banned as a sociopathic danger to civil discussion? What makes you think you have a right to soil somebody else’s private property? Why do you hate the free market of ideas and free enterprise, complete with rules to exclude those obviously dealing in bad faith? (3-13-21)

Dave, (sadly) you’d be AMAZED at how little we care about what you believe. You’re a crybully wasting the time of everybody in this thread, and need to fix yourself, rather than lashing out at those of us who HAVE freed our minds of the supernatural terrors that still bedevil you. (3-13-21)

Poor pathetic Davie, mining for clicks and relevance again. We know you’re a liar who just wants traffic…. so I’ll do my best to make sure nobody wastes time on your martyrbating hypocritical blog. (3-17-21)

Liar. You pontificate, then either insult / misdirect / derail, or, if it’s on your own moribund blog, you deceptively edit and delete posts that aren’t amenable to such selective editing, and block those who have valid arguments that you can’t counter . . . (3-18-21)

Ignorant Amos:

You’re lying again. We know how to tell, your hypothetical mouth is moving. (3-15-21)

Bwaaahahahaha… what a cretin. You’ve banned those who attempt to defend at your dump, ya dishonest lying louse. (3-13-21)

What a lying for Jesus piece of pish, is Armstrong. (3-13-21)

Liar, liar, pants on fire. (3-13-21)

You’ll burn in Hell brother, so will you brother…see ya’ll down there.. (3-13-21)

What a lying bastard. You banned Bob Seidensticker when he went to your shitehole to respond to your dross. You were subsequently banned at Cross Examined because you banned Bob for doing that very thing you accuse him of not doing here, not hearing from him again. Now you engage in bad mouthing him, when it is you who is the chickenshite cowardly bastard who can’t hack it. I don’t think Jonathan MS Pearce should be giving you a platform for spewing this lies and slander. (3-14-21)

Well it gets very lonely in his wee “panic room” of a shite blog where he goes to hide, and where saying anything he decides is contentious, which is just about everything that is in disagreement with his nonsense, gets one the the banhammer. With nothing but a handful of toady arselickers for company in his own house, it’s understandable he can’t maintain his flounce for any noticeable length of time. (3-14-21)

He’s the proverbial “legend in his own lunchtime”, isn’t he? (3-14-21)

Ya lying piece of shite. (3-14-21)

So still a very disingenuous louse, if not technically a liar. (3-15-21)

He lies about lots of other stuff, so I’ve no reason to trust his honesty where there is ambiguity. (3-15-21)

And that is a loada lies, and demonstrably so. (3-14-21)

90Lew90:

I’m sure your six readers will be along presently. (3-12-21)

I can assure you that the level of tolerance in comments here far exceeds anything Armstrong allows. Dave, meanwhile, has me blocked and banned for daring to challenge him on his site. I should add, he locked and banned me after creating two whole posts on his blog out of our exchange, thus precluding me from replying. That’s how Dave rolls. Very poor show. (3-12-21)

It says a lot more about his ego than his readers. His books are all self-published and he has no readers. (3-12-21)

Your project of trying to show the truth of the Bible “from a Catholic perspective” just betrays that you haven’t shaken off your evangelical perspective which is decidedly un-Catholic and you’re missing the point of Catholicism by trying to stitch your evangelicalism into it. Poorly. (3-11-21)

You appear to know almost nothing about the Catholicism you have adopted and profess, and have gotten yourself a soapbox from which to wave around your ignorance of it, . . . your attempted racket, ahem, ‘blog’, ‘Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, With Dave Armstrong’. The title on its own smacks of self-promotion; life lessons from your burnt out local radio host. . . . You’re the kind of person who would be a priest if you thought there was money in it and you could still have sex. . . . you appear to have spent more time studying how much tax-deductible cash you can get for the “papers” you publish on your blog. . . . Apart from your constantly begging for money all over your posts, redirecting to more of your posts for clicks, and plugging your 50 self-published books, the detail you provide here is all about how people can give you income on which you don’t have to pay tax. As a dubious bonus, we’re treated to an unflattering picture of you looking every bit the pea-brained burnout (perhaps you thought you looked like a kinda cool “family man” or something), still aiming for that one big money maker. . . . You include in your “qualifications” your “literary resume”. Give me a break you venal little &%$@#. (3-13-21)

You’re here to drive traffic to your blog. (3-13-21)

Armstrong comes here solely to drive traffic to his own blog. (3-13-21)

Frankly, the man doesn’t know Catholicism at all, and to read one or two of his articles is enough to leave one feeling somewhat sullied. He’s applying his former Protestant, evangelical approach in a kind of Christianity where it has no place. (3-13-21)

democommiescrazierbrother:

I just took a look at his facebook page, wottan#%$@&*%. One might be forgiven for thinking it’s more “griftin’ teh roobwazee than prinicipled apologetics*. * I’m not sure if it’s like intermarriages between matter and anti-matter but, I do think that, “principled apologetics” is prolly an oxymoron or contradiction in terms. (3-12-21)

Bob Seidensticker:

In short, you’re too much trouble. Wading through the bile to find an interesting point has been too much work. (3-14-21)

WCB:

You ban everybody who does that. That is why nobody over at your black hole site does it. Banned1 Banned! Banned! (3-14-21)

You are not that good as an apologist. And when anybody starts demonstrating that on your site, you ban them. (3-13-21)

Armstrong is an apologist. Not much of a theologian, but theology is not his mission. One of the reasons to play with people like Armstrong is to see what he has been peddling to the world. So we can be sure that we atheists are not using bad arguments that do not apply to people like Armstrong. Debunking Dave is not hard really. (3-17-21)

If Dave won’t seriously discuss these issues with me, it is because I bring up issues he has no easy, glib apologist’s argument that can win the day. This is all off the apologist’s beaten path, with the usual canned answers, an my posts are designed to be that way. . . . Playing the apologist game is not new with me, and Armstrong is not much different. (3-17-21)

JMallett:

You: Nobody wants to play with me!!! This could be a hint that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t that good at your job. (3-11-21)

Tiresome drivel. (3-16-21)

Grimlock:

Lots of Patheos Catholic blogs with more commenters. Not to mention more interesting and civilized commenters. (3-15-21)

im-skeptical:

You stand in proud defiance of truth and reality. (3-13-21)

Raging Bee:

You’re the only one who doesn’t see the debunkings and rebuttals you routinely get. (3-14-21)

Maybe he should be banned from this one too, since he’s banned nearly all of us from his blog while taking advantage of Pearce’s tolerance to hog attention here — while blocking and ignoring most of the people he’s badgering here. That’s both unseemly and unfair. I don’t mind letting people with such opinions comment and argue here, but hypocritical dishonest behavior like Dave’s should not be tolerated. (3-17-21)

TheMarsCydonia:

I am unsurprised that after all these years that you believe there one iota of fair moderating practices in your forums. (3-13-21)

You do say a lot of things to avoid having rational or objective discussions whenever you’re called out… (when you don’t outright ban people). (3-13-21)

3lemenope:

He bragged of his great patience after giving up with someone over the course of a couple of exchanges. I’m not against blocking as a rule–it’s a tool with a purpose, and very helpful for preserving bandwidth for non-trolls–but this guy thinks of his own thin-skinned hair trigger banning reflex to be the height of patience and deliberation. That kind of distorted self-perception is weird almost to the point of parody. (3-13-21)

It certainly isn’t my fault that you literally stand in common cause with ‮sizaN‬, Fascists, nihilists, and neo-Confederates by supporting Trump and the modern GOP. That’s your problem. It’s just compounded by your unwillingness to notice or acknowledge that the people you stand next to, by choice, are the very worst people. Maybe you’re just an angel in a sea of demons, bringing the light of conscience to pandemonium. But it isn’t likely. And when you try to dress up the vile movement you willingly associate with as something of actual intellectual pedigree, like conservatism in its primary descriptions in the annals of political history and political science, I’m gonna call you out on that shit. (3-13-21)

Fmr ATrealDonaldTrump ��:

People like Armstrong illustrate that there are “Conservative Cafeteria Catholics” as well as liberal “Cafeteria Catholics. (3-15-21)

Neko:

&%#$ Armstrong, he banned me for accusing him of being an apologist for the insurrectionist party, i.e., the Trumpist GOP, which is nothing less than the *^&%$#@%$ truth! (3-14-21)

John Loftus [cited by “WCB” who apparently asked him why he wouldn’t respond to my critiques]:

Yes [Dave was banned], because he is ignorant and obnoxious. It’s the obnoxious part that was too much. (cited on 3-13-21)

al kimeea:

I’ve read of your behaviour to valid criticism, so no traffic for you. (3-18-21)

RoverSerton:

Funny how you go to sites like this for interaction since you have ZERO comments on your dark spot on the internet. Since you ban everyone that you can’t refute, it must be a lonely lonely place to live. (3-18-21)

Lark62:

You’re nothing but a dishonest hack begging and pleading for clicks. Everyone outside your small collection of sycophants knows you’re pathetic. (3-17-21)

Here he cannot ban anyone and everyone who hints at disagreeing with him. He cannot bear to have anyone point out his inadequacy. (3-17-21)

Ya know what? I don’t give a tinker’s dam about what King You thinks “doesn’t fly.” Pathetic hacks terrified of actual conversation are in no position to the judge whether an argument “succeeds.” (3-17-21)

Illithid:

If you wanted open-minded, rational interaction, you wouldn’t ban people from your blog for specious reasons. (3-16-21)

***

Related Reading

Debunking Christianity: Never-Ending Insults of Christianity [2-7-11]

The Atheist Obsession with Insulting Christians [9-15-15]

Angry Anti-Theism Strikes Again! (“Dave Armstrong is Delusional”) [3-31-17]

Illogical Angry Atheists: Five Typical Examples [7-21-17]

Not Many “Angry Atheists” Online? You be the Judge [7-22-17]

Atheist Blogs Delete & Block Insulters & Idiots, Too! [7-31-17]

Why I Blocked Anti-Theist Atheist Bob Seidensticker [8-8-18]

Hysterical Frenzy vs. Me on Atheist Seidensticker’s Blog [8-10-18]

Atheist Eloquently & Admirably Denounces Anti-Theism [4-12-19]

Anti-Theist Atheist Snobfest & Insult Extravaganza [12-7-20]

Atheist Blogger Renounces Angry Anti-Theist Obsessions [3-16-21]

***

Photo credit: Philippe Gillotte (9-7-10) [Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license]

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Summary: I document a classic “feeding frenzy”: a regular, time-honored tactic of anti-theist atheists, who collectively decide to lie about & slander a person (me in this case), sans any semblance of rational arguments.

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March 12, 2021

This took place in the combox of the atheist Jonathan MS Pearce, underneath his article, “Differences, Contradictions and Speculations of the Resurrection Listed” (3-11-21). Respondents will be in various colors. I’ve already replied to several portions of the book mentioned in the article: Refuting 59 of Michael Alter’s Resurrection “Contradictions” (3-12-21).

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Geoff Benson: Oh it’s perfectly possible to contrive all sorts of solutions to the conundrums that contradictions present, and if you’re especially interested in working through them, the way that Dave Armstrong does, then you can perhaps persuade yourself that they aren’t inconsistencies. The trouble is that they are so numerous, so vast in number, that there must surely come a point where you say enough is enough. No, well probably not! And don’t think we aren’t interested in facts, it’s that what you see as biblical facts we see as mythological meanderings.

If there were any likelihood that the stories depicted in the bible were true then perhaps we might give more attention to your attempts to reconcile the contradictions. Unfortunately, almost every story has been proved to be untrue, especially in the OT. The nativity and resurrection accounts are now both regarded as interpolations that don’t exist in the earliest available copies of the gospels, and as there is pretty well no eye witness testimony to anything you might begin to understand why we continue to retain some scepticism.

This is the copout of atheist anti-biblical polemics. “There are just so MANY contradictions . . .!” But there can be long lists consisting of one lie after another and each one has to stand on its own and withstand proper scrutiny. And the Christian can in turn, produce our counter-lists (I have many of these myself), showing how atheist accusations are consistently and persistently wrong (therefore, if they are wrong hundreds of times, why believe that atheist critiques of the Bible are true and accurate and that the Bible is a fraudulent, ridiculous document?). How does one know that one side is right and the other wrong?

So laundry lists in and of themselves prove little. The argument on either side, however, does come down to cumulative effect (I do agree about that). And it becomes a matter of the nature of plausibility, which is an extraordinarily complicated matter.

I’ve read most of your ‘challenges’ that you have provided on your blog, and I can only say that they are far too long and convoluted to represent valid rebuttals of the contradictions and inconsistencies referred to. There’s far too much ‘messing about’ and waffle. Why not stick to a few lines? If you are addressing, for example, the number of women at the tomb contradictions then surely no more than ten lines of comment would cover the salient points. I think that’s why you aren’t getting much in the way of detailed response.

It’s an impossible demand. It’s not possible to thoroughly and effectively refute many alleged contradictions without writing (usually) at least twice the amount of words that it took to assert them.

If I give short answers, I’ll simply be accused of not taking the charges sufficiently seriously, and will convince no one. If I get in depth and thoroughly dismantle it, then the atheist comes back with your response: “too long”; “why should it be so difficult to defend supposedly inspired text?”; “why wouldn’t an omniscient God make it self-evident?” etc. Well, the nature of the reply is based on how complex and multi-faceted the charge of contradiction is.

So, for example, in one of my replies in the paper I just put up in response to the book mentioned in the OP, I got very in-depth, because it was a technical literary point that no one would even grasp, let alone accept, unless it was explained at some length and verified by several scholars.

It’s called “compression” of time or “telescoping” and is a phenomenon not only in the Bible but in classic Greek and Roman literature as well.

In the end, every argument has to be considered on its own merits. They can’t just be dismissed with a wave of a hand. If you have no interest, that’s one thing, But if you do, this response won’t do. You have to get down in the “dirt” of argumentation and give it your best shot in reply.

In my latest reply I answered 59 alleged biblical contradictions in about 6,000 words (an average of 102 words per reply). It’s hard to get any briefer than that in these sorts of discussions. But many of my replies were also links to article-length replies I had already done. And it took me about 12 hours to write it. Here it is: Refuting 59 of Michael Alter’s Resurrection “Contradictions”.

To tear down something is always much easier (at least on a surface level) than to defend it.

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ericHello Mr. Armstrong,

I have to admit, I think the whole apologetic approach is just backwards from legit scholarship. Taking your very first one as an example, yes it may be possible to make all the gospels align with the three days if you assume any bit of a day counted as “a day and a night.” And it’s possible to make the clock hour reports of the various gospels align if you assume Mark was counting hours one way but John was counting hours an entirely different way.

But for legit scholarship, there is no prima facie reason to do any of that assuming. One has to start with the premise that there must be one consistent story being told before doing that makes any sense. And if you assume that to start with, you are in a significant sense merely assuming what you are trying to convince nonbelievers is true. I.e. arguing circularly. An objective scholar not making the assumption that there must be a single consistent story under all these accounts would much more naturally conclude that the various stories report different details.

I hold to biblical inspiration on faith, but based on many cumulative reasons, too. That said, it is entirely possible to separate that logically from a defense of any particular proposed contradiction, because the latter boils down to simply a logical matter, not even requiring faith or Christian belief at all for one to comment upon.

How the ancient Hebrews construed these issues of time and chronology is indeed relevant to this issue of “three days and a night.” But it’s not rocket science. In fact, we talk in similar terms in our culture, too, per the analogies I gave in my reply:

It would be like saying, “This is the third day I’ve been working on painting this room.” I could have started painting late Friday and made this remark on early Sunday. If I complete the task on Sunday, then the chronology would be just as Jesus’ Resurrection was. The only difference is the Hebrew idiom “three days and three nights” which was not intended in the hyper-literal sense as we might mistakenly interpret it today. . . .

We speak similarly in English idiom – just without adding the “nights” part. For example, we will say that we are off for a long weekend vacation, of “three days of fun” (Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday).

But it is understood that this is not three full 24-hour days. Chances are we will depart part way through the first day and return before the third day ends. So for a Saturday through Monday vacation, if we leave at 8 AM on Saturday and return at 10 PM on Monday night, literally that is less than three full days (it would be two 24-hour days and 14 more hours: ten short of three full days).

Yet we speak of a “three-day vacation” and that we returned “after three days” or “on the third day.” A literal “three 24-hour day trip” would end at 8 AM on Tuesday. Such descriptions are understood, then, as non-literal. The ancient Jews and Romans simply added the clause “and nights” to such utterances, but understood them in the same way, as referring to any part of a whole 24-hour day.

And it’s possible to make the clock hour reports of the various gospels align if you assume Mark was counting hours one way but John was counting hours an entirely different way.

Indeed they were counting the hours differently: the Synoptics used Hebrew time, which started the day at 6 PM. John used Romans time, which was like ours (start at midnight). John refers to Jesus’ trial as being at the “sixth hour” (19:14). That would make it 6 AM Roman (and our) time, before when the Synoptics say He was crucified at the third hour, Hebrew time (9 AM our time and Roman time). We know that John used Roman time from other internal examples, such as John 1:39 (preaching at 10 AM rather than 4 AM).

None of this argumentation requires special pleading or circular reasoning at all. I’m simply showing how the objections are not strong or plausible and that Christian explanations are much more so. Each thing must be considered on its own.

I would also point out that the atheist assumption that the Bible must always be wrong and contradictory is no more “objective” than our premise of believing it is inspired revelation. Both viewpoints provide a bias. Generally speaking, not despising and detesting something makes for a better and more objective analysis of it. In that sense, I think the Christian premise leads to more constructive and productive Bible commentary and analysis. Atheists approach the Bible like a butcher approaches a hog. The butcher has not the slightest interest in the hog. He only wants to slaughter it and cut it up.

Apologetics is a means to help Christians have a better understanding of how reason and faith are in harmony.

But that’s the problem: you can’t legitimately academically explore how they are in harmony if you premise/assume at the outset that they must be in harmony.

I very much doubt that when discussing Mormonism, you assume Moroni really did visit Joseph Smith and then talk about how the literary and historic evidence of events surrounding that create a better understanding of how reason and the Mormon faith are in harmony. That approach makes no rational sense to you, right? We shouldn’t beg the question of the Mormon faith being true, that undermines the entire analysis of the events! Well, you’re that guy. Just not the Mormon version of that guy.

What you are blasting is what is called presuppositionalism in apologetics. I’ve never been of that school. I make much more of a separation between reason and faith, while not forsaking the place of faith at all.

I would also point out that the atheist assumption that the Bible must always be wrong and contradictory is no more “objective” than our premise of believing it is inspired revelation.

Where did I make that assumption?

Generally speaking, not despising and detesting something makes for a better and more objective analysis of it.

I don’t despise or detest the bible. Where did you get THAT idea?

Atheists approach the Bible like a butcher approaches a hog. The butcher has not the slightest interest in the hog. He only wants to slaughter it and cut it up.

And for a third time you attribute to me unfair motives and attitudes I’ve given you zero reason to think I hold.

For the record, I view the bible as a sincere work of scripture developed by many religious people over time. One containing stories, allegories, quotes, sayings, advice, poetic flights of fancy yet also practical letters to congregations, mundane historical claims and not a few remarkable miracle claims. I’m not trying to refute everything it says. I’m not trying to justify everything it says as consistent. I want to understand what it says, but I don’t think to do that one should either assume it’s fully consistent OR assume everything it says must be wrong/evil/incorrect. Either of those starting positions would seem, to me, to potentially lead to very poor scholarship. Rather I try to take it as it comes. Bears kill kids because they make fun of Elisha? Probably not intended as an allegory but as a recounting of an event. Seems pretty unlikely though. And pretty damn evil if true. Jesus preaching turn the other cheek? The golden rule? Also probably not intended as allegory but rather as a recounting of an event. This is pretty obviously moral advice meant to be taken seriously. And, it’s pretty darn good advice in my opinion. See how it works?

I was referring to atheists in general, not you, as I think was clear enough. I said, “the atheist assumption” (not “your assumption”). All generalities (like rules) have exceptions. So you are one. Congratulations. But it doesn’t make my general point invalid.

Since you are open to being corrected, I’d love to see you examine any article of mine where I take on an alleged biblical contradiction and admit that I got the better of the argument, and that the proposed critique utterly failed, so that the passages were not contradictory at all.

“Being open to” /= “admit you got the better of the argument.” This is, in my opinion, a pretty common problem with emotionally triggering topics; whether it’s biblical exegesis or politics or something else. People who strongly, emotionally favor a single outcome do exactly what you just did – they can’t understand disagreement as being anything other than misunderstanding or self-interest/close-mindedness. But in reality, it’s often neither. Your conversation partner may understand the topic, they may be open to arguments, have no ulterior motive, and yet they may still conclude differently from you. This is one such case.

You’re getting way off-track. I’m not talking about all that and you are wrong as to my overall opinion of such disagreements and their motivation. I’m simply noting what I constantly observe in atheist circles (usually anti-theist ones, which are not all atheists). Why anyone does what they do or argues a certain way is a much more complex topic, that is usually best avoided.

So are you willing to look at one of my papers and see if you can admit / concede that I was ever right about any particular anti-biblical argument, in front of your atheist buddies? I’m just about to post my reply to the book above, which takes on 59 separate alleged contradictions. That would be an excellent place to start.

If you can concede that I was correct, say, nine times out of 59 (which is only 15% of the time) then yes, I would readily grant that you have a significantly open mind, for an atheist not inclined to accept (or be gung-ho about) biblical accounts. And you would gain a lot of respect in my eyes, since I have always highly valued open-mindedness and nonconformity.

I would also point out that the atheist assumption that the Bible must always be wrong and contradictory is no more “objective” than our premise of believing it is inspired revelation.

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Anri: One of these viewpoints posits that holy books are fallible. The other… makes a few more assumptions.

But if you think your average Christian is familiar enough with the bible well enough to actually know what’s in it aside from a few cherry-pickled points here and there, ask around. I would personally argue that a necessary but non-sufficient step in being able to say one reveres a work is to have a working knowledge of it.

To extend your analogy, your average Christian is neither swineherd nor butcher – they are a consumer of pork who honestly thinks it appears pre-packaged in the grocery store and is ignorant of the fact that it comes from butchering hogs.

I totally agree that “your average Christian” is very ignorant — inexcusably so — of many things in the Bible and theology. That’s why I do what I do. Apologetics is a means to help Christians have a better understanding of how reason and faith are in harmony.

My standard comparison is between the anti-theist atheist (often a former fundamentalist) who mistakenly thinks he or she is an expert on the Bible, vs. Bible scholars or at least someone sufficiently educated in their faith (in my case it is 44 years of Bible study and 40 years of active apologetics).

Atheists, however, very often love to run across Christians who don’t know their stuff (neither theology nor apologetics), so they can toy with them and toss them around as a plaything, to “prove” that Christians en masse are ignoramuses: indeed, that the entire system is nonsensical and absurd and only fit for mockery.

This is why I keep vocally objecting to the anti-theist tribe of atheists who refuse to defend their views under scrutiny. It proves that they aren’t interested in the standard thinkers’ back-and-forth argument. They simply want to preach to the choir and always appear unvanquishable. A lot of that is good old human pride.

Atheists, however, very often love to run across Christians who don’t know their stuff (neither theology nor apologetics), so they can toy with them and toss them around as a plaything, to “prove” that Christians are ignoramuses: indeed, that the entire system is nonsensical and absurd and only fit for mockery.

And you’re quite certain that this is not a case of atheists quite correctly identifying that what average, ignorant Christians believe is, in fact, highly nonsensical, absurd, and worthy of mockery?

Some of that takes place, yes (which was stated in my own comment). But it goes far beyond that to a failure to make distinctions between educated and uneducated Christians: to mocking the entire religion and belief-system and everyone in it, with sweeping statements. Extremely common here and on every atheist forum I’ve ever seen.

And might – perhaps – the atheists (and non-Christian theists) have a point that this confident ignorance brings a variety of evils into an ostensibly secular society?

Absolutely. And I have a point to make about radical atheist positions having a deleterious effect on a society that is largely theist in orientation: such as forcing taxpayers to fund abortion, when half of us think it’s murder or forcing nuns to provide or teach contraception: both things occurring right now or being vigorously pushed; also the vast amount of censorship and suppression of free speech being done by Big Tech. It works both ways. I think there is a lot of common ground which could be had. I could agree with much of, e.g., the Humanist Manifesto.

And that if the average ignorant Christian were able to be swayed by informed debate… they wouldn’t be an average, ignorant Christian?

Intelligent and constructive debate will cause conversions in both directions. Desire to learn and seek truth is a thing that somehow has to be cultivated and nourished in individuals.

Speaking for myself (and, I do not doubt, a large number of non-Christians, atheist and otherwise), I’d rather not have my life impinged upon by Christians, ignorant or not – but you know as well as I that that’s just not possible in the US.

I would largely agree, just as I detest having my free speech now interfered with and being forced to fund what I think is outrageous murder of innocents. Catholics, pro-lifers, and conservatives like myself have plenty of experience being suppressed, mocked, lied about, just as an atheist like you would have. We actually have a lot in common in that way. We’re people who strongly believe in certain things, and who seek to live by principles.

I don’t interfere with any atheist and how he or she lives his or her life. When I’m here I’m just talking and dialoguing like I do with everyone. If someone doesn’t like it, they can ignore me (I highly encourage them to do so). The ones who can’t do anything but insult, I simply ban and ignore. Good riddance. I love talking to people like you.

On a (possibly) separate note, should an atheist consider scholarly research into the Koran with the same weight they accept yours into the bible? How about other holy works? Should I take a scholarly analysis of, let’s say, Shinto, as seriously as yours of Christianity?

Everyone has to seek truth wherever it leads them. I naturally (especially as a professional apologist) think Christianity can be defended in a way that Islam cannot, and they think that of Islam. But there are objective ways to judge the relative strengths of arguments and evidence.

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FicinoPeople have been trying to harmonize everything in Plato for over 2000 years, and agreement has not been reached. Why not just say, with many other commentators, that some things said by leading interlocutors in Plato contradict things said by leading interlocutors elsewhere in Plato? The people who take the latter approach by and large do not despise Plato or assume that everything in his work is false or try to butcher it. Lots of them love Plato without going on to take the neo-Platonist view that Plato was “divine” etc.

Similarly with nonbelievers’ approach to the Bible – or even the approach of many less conservative Jews (re what we call the OT obviously) and Christians.

No one claims that Plato is inspired revelation.

In a working, practical sense, however, I’m not trying to prove biblical inspiration (which is ultimately a proposition of faith). I’m trying to establish non-contradictoriness of any given couplet of passages and accuracy and trustworthiness in the biblical accounts (insofar as they are able to be objectively critiqued: matters of history, geography, linguistics, the culture of the time, etc.).

I’m making a defensive argument and defeating the defeaters. In that sense, it’s irrelevant to the discussion itself, that I believe the Bible is inspired. I was simply being honest and open about that, in my replies to Eric.

No one claims that Plato is inspired revelation.

As I said, there were philosophers in antiquity who would refer to Plato as θεῖος. That’s what I had said in English.

Earlier in this thread you wrote:

I would also point out that the atheist assumption that the Bible must always be wrong and contradictory is no more “objective” than our premise of believing it is inspired revelation. Both viewpoints provide a bias. Generally speaking, not despising and detesting something makes for a better and more objective analysis of it. In that sense, I think the Christian premise leads to more constructive and productive Bible commentary and analysis. Atheists approach the Bible like a butcher approaches a hog. The butcher has not the slightest interest in the hog. He only wants to slaughter it and cut it up.

My reference to the habits of commentators on Plato is meant to give an example of a willingness to let contradictions in a corpus be contradictions without therefore treating that corpus from an assumption that it is always wrong or approaching it as [not “like”] a butcher approaches a hog. There are many atheists who approach the Bible the way non-neo-Platonists approach Plato. It’s not hard to appreciate a body of texts while also noticing contradictions among things asserted therein.

I’ve never noticed that much here, and I have yet to find an atheist venue where such a tolerant, broad-minded outlook predominates. But there are individuals in any forum that do a lot better. I consider you one of them. You always offer thoughtful analyses, minus the childish insults.

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You’ll understand that mockery, in my humble opinion, pales in comparison with an opinion that someone deserves an eternity in hell.

Does anyone deserve a lifetime in jail? And if so, why? We all pretty much agree on the general parameters and worthwhileness of civic justice. Christians also believe in cosmic justice. If someone is evil and unrepentant (say a Hitler or a Stalin or a Pol Pot, to use the usual examples), he or she ends up in hell, not because God is a hateful monster, but because justice demands a punishment. Whoever is there, is based on their own free will and choices to do evil rather than good. God judges people based on what they know (Romans 2). Therefore, it’s possible for atheists to be saved (as I have written about for years).

But if someone knows there is a God and rejects Him (the question of what it means to truly “know” being the big question here)? Yes, they go to hell because that’s the nature of a separated eternity from God, Who offers every human being the free offer of salvation and an eternity in the utmost bliss.

That’s my nutshell answer! Of course, as an apologist, I’ve written a lot about the problem of evil (the most serious objection to Christianity) and hell.

It is in the nature of a complex democratic society that some of our tax money will go to things we find morally repugnant, such as foreign wars, or the building of weapons of mass destruction, or capital punishment, or tax breaks for religious organizations merely because they are religious organizations.

Good reply! But that’s fine because I was trying to make the point that the non-atheist conservative, Christian like myself has plenty of things forced on me that I don’t like, either. We have that in common, in other words. And (to rejoice in more common ground), I oppose all unnecessary and unjust wars (but not all wars, because some are just and necessary), use of nuclear weapons as intrinsically immoral (the Catholic official position), and capital punishment. I would even be happy with removal of tax breaks for religious folks, provided the (ever more secular) government would cease trying to repress our religious and free speech freedoms.

I would argue that secular states have done a better job of producing societies that are equitable and progressive than explicitly (and enforced) religious ones.

What would be examples of three of these “secular states” that you admire? And the US is basically a secular state, but with a profoundly religious background culture.

Do you think religious institutions, when in power, did not engage in censorship? And – unlike secular governments – did so as agents of the greatest source of morality in the universe?

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This goes for governments of all stripes and religious persuasions, although its obvious that atheist, anti-religious states have been exponentially more wicked than Christian ones: Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, Mao’s China, China today with its slave camps and forced abortion and little religious freedom, etc.

The “evils” of past ages of Christian-run governments are vastly exaggerated (e.g., the Inquisition and the Crusades). I’ve had people with a straight face tell me that the Inquisition killed “68 million” people: certainly more than the entire population of Europe at the time. The actual numbers (from real historians) are less than 9without looking) maybe 7-8,000.

If a government condemns a type of speech, they can be voted out. How does one vote out god when he has condemned something?

I don’t see how your life is much affected by us Christians out here living our lives and wishing — just like you — to be free of coercion and forced immorality as well. Do you break down at the sight of a manger at Christmas? How does it work? Everyone gets insulted these days (as far as that goes; I understand a lot of Christians are very uncharitable to atheists, and I condemn that). Try being a Christian in an atheist forum (pretend sometime!). Most of the replies to me I don’t see because I blocked people who were only insulting with no substance, so I can utterly ignore them. But the insults are up here right now. You can see ’em.

Speaking as an atheist, I don’t much mind being mocked. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to rail against it. Mock away. Mockery doesn’t hurt me, in much the same was as – presumably – it can’t possibly hurt god.

My views exactly, too. I’ve been called absolutely everything; lied about in every imaginable way in my 24 years online as an apologist. It’s just a running joke to me. No effect on what I do whatever . . .

I don’t care to be lied about, either, but hey – it’s a free country.

That’s right. No one likes to be lied about. I’m sad for the people who do that, not for myself.

As far as being oppressed, I oppose forms of oppression based on religion… when this ‘oppression’ isn’t simply the removal of privilege for a group that has exercised it for so long, so unconsciously and prevalently, that they simply consider it their due.

What would be an example of such oppression?

So, when you claim that Christianity can be defended in objective ways Islam, or Shinto, or Hinduism (I am assuming you think this) cannot, what do you think is wrong with the reasoning of the scholars who continue to accept them?

All false worldviews are built upon false premises somewhere along the way. It’s as simple as that. So I believe as a Christian that Christianity has all the right premises in a way that no other worldview has (though many other views have many true premises and truths too).

Are Christians just that much smarter? Have they done their homework where adherents of other faiths – however otherwise well-educated – simply haven’t?

No. All religions (and all worldviews of any sort) have their educated, seriously observant adherents (a small number) and a much larger mass of uneducated sheep.

Or – to put it a less-snarky way – do you think it’s just a coincidence that most people end up in the faith they were raised in as children?

No. That’s how most human beings function. I’ve written about this stuff (replying to John Loftus and others, who love this argument: that I think proves nothing whatever s to relative truthfulness of different beliefs). Most people are sheep rather than free and independent thinkers, and so they end up with whatever they are surrounded with. I always rebelled against that, so I was raised Methodist and became a practical atheist with a big interest in the occult, then an evangelical Protestant, and at length a Catholic. It was based on a deliberate informed decision, not following everyone else.

Great discussion! Thanks! I hope we can continue for a long time.

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Photo credit: geralt (1-31-17) [PixabayPixabay License]

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Summary: Excellent and constructive dialogues with four friendly, serious-minded atheists in a large atheist forum. I discuss Bible “contradictions” but also note that we have much in common too.

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March 7, 2021

I’ve done quite a few of these. I thought it would be good, then (for reference purposes) to collect them together all in one place: alphabetically categorized by topic. If people would buy self-published books of Catholic and general Christian apologetics, I’d collect them in a book, but since they don’t (unless the book is massively advertised, which I can’t afford), I won’t.

In any event, you have my rebuttals here for your use, for free. Please prayerfully consider financially supporting my apostolate, if you have been aided by it, or want to support apologetics and evangelism, generally speaking. The laborer is worthy of his hire. I’m not getting rich over here: just working my tail off in defending the Bible, Christianity, traditional morality, and specifically, Catholicism. I’ve written 3,217 articles (and counting) and fifty books, as well as lots of published articles (242 at National Catholic Register, etc.). 2021 is my 40-year anniversary of writing Christian apologetics (the last 30 as a Catholic).

*****

“Contradictions” (Supposed): Examined More Closely

Reply to Atheists: Defining a [Biblical] “Contradiction” [1-7-11]

Debates with Atheist “DagoodS” (“Bible Difficulties”) [2006-2007, 2010-2011]

Review of The Book of Non-Contradiction (Phillip Campbell) [5-9-17]

Critique of Theologically Liberal Bible-Basher [6-6-17]

Alleged “Bible Contradictions”: Most Are Actually Not So [2002 and 6-7-17]

Atheist Inventions of Many Bogus “Bible Contradictions” [National Catholic Register, 9-4-18]

Seidensticker Folly #28: Lies About Bible “Contradictions” (1. Christians don’t sin? 2. Universalism? 3. “Tomb evangelism”. 4. Can human beings see God or not?) [10-23-18]

Bible “Contradictions” & Plausibility (Dialogue w Atheist) [12-17-18]

Seidensticker Folly #32: Sophistically Redefining “Contradiction” [4-20-19]

Seidensticker Folly #37: “What is a Contradiction?” 0101 [4-15-20]

Reply to Atheist Ward Ricker Re “Biblical Contradictions” [5-15-20]

Dialogues on “Contradictions” w Bible-Bashing Atheists [5-16-20]

Alleged Bible “Contradictions” & “Difficulties”: Master List of Christian Internet Resources for Apologists (Links) [7-19-10; links updated on 9-6-20]

Seidensticker Folly #69: “Difficulties” Aren’t Contradictions [1-4-21]

Atheists, Biblical “Contradictions” & the Plausibility Issue [2-4-21]

Refutation of Atheist Paul Carlson’s 51 Bible “Contradictions” [4-6-21]

General Principles / Preliminaries / Premises

An Introduction to Bible Interpretation [1987]

Atheist Bible “Scholarship” & “Exegesis” [3-18-03]

Are All Bible Books Self-Evidently Inspired? [6-19-06]

Are All the Biblical Books Self-Evidently Canonical? [6-22-06]

Were Apostles Always Aware of Writing Scripture? (6-29-06; abridged on 9-25-16)

Is the Bible in Fact Clear, or “Perspicuous” to Every Individual? [2007]

How Do Catholics Approach & Interpret Holy Scripture? [6-17-09]

Catholic Interpretation of Scripture (Hermeneutics / Exegesis): Resource List (Links) [6-28-09]

The Bible & Skepticism: Irrational Double Standards & Bias [8-6-09]

Bible: Completely Self-Authenticating, So that Anyone Could Come up with the Complete Canon without Formal Church Proclamations? (vs. Wm. Whitaker) [July 2012]

The Bible: “Clear” & “Self-Interpreting”? [February 2014]

“Butcher & Hog”: On Relentless Biblical Skepticism [9-21-15]

Dialogue with an Atheist on Bible Difficulties, Plausibility Structures, & Deconversion [6-10-17]

Why We Should Fully Expect Many “Bible Difficulties” [7-17-17]

Richard Dawkins’ “Bible Whoppers” Are the “Delusion” [5-25-18]

Biblical Interpretation & Clarity: Dialogue w an Atheist [5-26-18]

Is Inspiration Immediately Evident in Every Biblical Book? [National Catholic Register, 7-28-18]

Catholic Biblical Interpretation: Myths and Truths [National Catholic Register, 12-3-18]

Bible “Difficulties” Are No Disproof of Biblical Inspiration [National Catholic Register, 6-29-19]

Seidensticker Folly #33: Clueless Re Biblical Anthropopathism [7-24-19]

“Difficulty” in Understanding the Bible: Hebrew Cultural Factors [2-5-21]

An Omniscient God and a “Clear” Bible [National Catholic Register, 2-28-21]

Abortion

Seidensticker Folly #62: Bible & Personhood of Fetuses [11-10-20]

Abraham

Abraham & Beersheba, the Bible, & Archaeology [6-9-21]

Absolution

Resurrection #28: Remission of Sins “Contradictions”? [5-5-21]

Animal Rights

Dialogue w Atheist on Jesus, Demons, Pigs, & Animal Rights [7-5-18]

Arameans and Amorites

Arameans, Amorites, and Archaeological Accuracy [6-8-21]

Bible: Cosmology of

Biblical Flat Earth (?) Cosmology: Dialogue w Atheist (vs. Matthew Green) [9-11-06]

Flat Earth: Biblical Teaching? (vs. Ed Babinski) [9-17-06]

Bodies, Spiritual

Seidensticker Folly #26: Spiritual Bodies R Still Bodies! [10-9-18]

Seidensticker Folly #52: Spiritual Bodies R Physical [9-10-20]

Camels and the Patriarchs / Archaeology

Abraham, Moses, Camels, & Archaeological Evidence [5-22-21]

OT Camels & Biblically Illiterate Archaeologists [5-24-21]

When Were Camels Domesticated in Egypt & Israel? [5-25-21]

David, King

Ward’s Whoppers #13: How Did David Kill Goliath? [5-19-20]

Disciples, Twelve

12 Disciples of Jesus: Alleged Contradictions Debunked [12-9-06]

Resurrection #26: “Twelve” or Eleven Disciples? [5-4-21]

Documentary Theory

Documentary Theory of Biblical Authorship (JEPD): Dialogue [2-12-04]

Documentary Theory (Pentateuch): Critical Articles [6-21-10]

C. S. Lewis Roundly Mocked the Documentary Hypothesis [10-6-19]

Edomites

Edomites: Archaeology Confirms the Bible (As Always) [6-10-21]

Eucharist, Holy

Madison vs. Jesus #8: Holy Eucharist as “Grotesque Magic”? [8-7-19]

Exodus

Seidensticker Folly #5: Has Archaeology Disproven the Exodus? [8-15-18]

Faith & Reason

Seidensticker Folly #66: Biblical “Evidence-Less Faith”? [12-9-20]

Faith & Works

Final Judgment & Works (Not Faith): 50 Passages [2-10-08]

Seidensticker Folly #22: Contradiction? Saved by Faith or Works? [10-1-18]

“Fools” (Calling People That)

The Biblical “Fool” & Proverbial Literary Genre: Did Paul and Peter Disobey Jesus and Risk Hellfire (Calling Folks “Fools”)? Did Jesus Contradict Himself? Or Do Proverbs and Hyperbolic Utterances Allow Exceptions? [2-5-14]

“Foreigners” / “Neighbors”

Ward’s Whoppers #9-10: Parting the Red Sea / “Foreigners” [5-18-20]

Seidensticker Folly #54: “Neighbor” in OT = Jews Only? [9-12-20]

Gadarenes / Gerasenes

Gadarenes, Gerasenes, Swine, & Atheist Skeptics (vs. Jonathan MS Pearce) [7-25-17]

Demons, Gadara, & Biblical Numbers (vs. JMS Pearce) [12-18-20]

Gerasenes, Gadarenes, Pigs and “Contradictions” [National Catholic Register, 1-29-21]

Genesis: Abraham

Isaac and Abraham’s Agony: Dialogue with Agnostic (vs. Dr. Jan Schreurs) [June 1999]

Ward’s Whoppers #5: Isaac: Abraham’s “Only” Son? [5-18-20]

Ward’s Whoppers #7-8: “God of Abraham…” / Passover [5-18-20]

Genesis: Adam & Eve

Adam & Eve, Cain, Abel, & Noah: Historical Figures [2-20-08]

Bishop Robert Barron: Adam Wasn’t a “Literal Figure” [9-23-11]

Defending the Historical Adam of Genesis (vs. Eric S. Giunta) [9-25-11]

Adam & Eve of Genesis: Historical & the Primal Human Pair? (vs. Bishop Robert Barron) [11-28-13]

Adam & Eve & Original Sin: Disproven by Science? [9-7-15]

Only Ignoramuses Believe in Adam & Eve? [9-9-15]

Ward’s Whoppers #4: Which Tree Fruit In Eden to Eat?  [5-17-20]

Genesis: Cain & Abel

Adam & Eve, Cain, Abel, & Noah: Historical Figures [2-20-08]

“Where Did Cain Get His Wife?” [3-7-13]

Dialogue on How Cain Found a Wife [6-22-18]

Genesis: Documentary Hypothesis and Chiasmus

Pearce’s Potshots #38: Chiasmus & “Redundancy” in Flood Stories (Also, a Summary Statement on Catholics and the Documentary Hypothesis) [7-4-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #39: Ignoring Chiastic Literary Genre in Genesis [7-5-21]

Genesis & Evolution

Scripture, Science, Genesis, & Evolutionary Theory: Mini-Dialogue with an Atheist [8-14-18; rev. 2-18-19]

Genesis & History

Modernism vs. History in Genesis & Biblical Inspiration [7-23-18]

Genesis: Noah & the Flood

Old Earth, Flood Geology, Local Flood, & Uniformitarianism (vs. Kevin Rice) [5-25-04; many defunct links removed and new ones added: 5-10-17]

Adam & Eve, Cain, Abel, & Noah: Historical Figures [2-20-08]

Noah’s Flood & Catholicism: Basic Facts [8-18-15]

Do Carnivores on the Ark Disprove Christianity? [9-10-15]

New Testament Evidence for Noah’s Existence [National Catholic Register, 3-11-18]

Seidensticker Folly #49: Noah & 2 or 7 Pairs of Animals [9-7-20]

Pearce’s Potshots #36: Noah’s Flood: 40 or 150 Days or Neither? [7-1-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #37: Length of Noah’s Flood Redux [7-2-21]

Local Flood & Atheist Ignorance of Christian Thought [7-2-21]

Local Mesopotamian Flood: An Apologia [7-9-21]

Genesis: Serpent

Exchange w Biblical Skeptic on the Genesis Serpent [6-1-17]

Orthodox Interpretation of Genesis and the Serpent [National Catholic Register, 11-19-18]

Genesis & Time

Genesis Contradictory (?) Creation Accounts & Hebrew Time: Refutation of a Clueless Atheist “Biblical Contradiction” [5-11-17]

The Genesis Creation Accounts and Hebrew Time [National Catholic Register, 7-2-17]

God: Anthropopathism

Anthropopathism and Anthropomorphism: Biblical Data (God Condescending to Human Limitations of Understanding) [1-20-09]

Seidensticker Folly #33: Clueless Re Biblical Anthropopathism [7-24-19]

God: Bloodthirsty?

Jesus’ Death: Proof of a “Bloodthirsty” God, or Loving Sacrifice? (primarily written to and for atheists) [7-21-10]

God: Creator

Seidensticker Folly #14: Something Rather Than Nothing [9-3-18]

Ward’s Whoppers #1-3: Genesis 1 vs. 2 (Creation) [5-17-20]

Seidensticker Folly #41: Argument from Design [8-25-20]

Seidensticker Folly #42: Creation “Ex Nihilo” [8-28-20]

“Quantum Entanglement” & the “Upholding” Power of God [10-20-20]

Quantum Mechanics and the “Upholding” Power of God [National Catholic Register, 11-24-20]

God: Eternal & Uncreated

Seidensticker Folly #38: Eternal Universe vs. an Eternal God [4-16-20]

God & Evil

Problem of Evil: Treatise on the Most Serious Objection (Is God Malevolent, Weak, or Non-Existent Because of the Existence of Evil and Suffering?) [2002]

God and “Natural Evil”: A Thought Experiment [2002]

Replies to the Problem of Evil as Set Forth by Atheists [10-10-06]

“Logical” Problem of Evil: Alvin Plantinga’s Decisive Refutation [10-12-06]

“Strong” Logical Argument from Evil Against God: RIP? [11-26-06]

Is God the Author of Evil? (vs. John Calvin) [Oct. 2012]

Why Did a Perfect God Create an Imperfect World? [8-18-15]

Atheists, Miracles, & the Problem of Evil: Contradictions [8-15-18]

Alvin Plantinga: Reply to the Evidential Problem of Evil [9-13-19]

God: “Evolves” in the OT?

Seidensticker Folly #20: An Evolving God in the OT? [9-18-18]

God: Existence of

Seidensticker Folly #13: God Hasta Prove He Exists! [8-29-18]

God & Free Will

Seidensticker Folly #3: Falsehoods About God & Free Will [8-14-18]

God & “Hard Hearts”

Reply to a Calvinist: Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart (vs. Colin Smith) [10-14-06]

God “Hardening Hearts”: How Do We Interpret That? [12-18-08]

God: Immutability

Is God in Time? [11-30-06]

Critique of Atheist John Loftus Regarding a Timeless God . . . And of Course, “Jittery John” Again Explodes [11-30-06]

Seidensticker Folly #34: Does God “Regret” or “Repent”? [7-25-19]

God: Judgment

Judgment of Nations: Biblical Commentary and Reflections [9-21-01]

God’s Judgment of Humans (Sometimes, Entire Nations) [2-16-07]

“How Can God Order the Massacre of Innocents?” (Amalekites, etc.) [11-10-07]

God’s “Punishing” of Descendants: Unjust? [7-8-10]

Final Judgment is Not a Matter of “Faith Alone” At All [National Catholic Register, 10-7-16]

Does God Ever Judge People by Sending Disease? [10-30-17]

Is God an Unjust Judge? Dialogue with an Atheist [10-30-17]

God’s Judgment of Sin: Analogies for an Atheist Inquirer [9-6-18]

Seidensticker Folly #17: “to the third and fourth generations”? [9-11-18]

Does God Punish to the Fourth Generation? [National Catholic Register, 10-1-18]

Madison vs. Jesus #9: Clueless Re Rebellion & Judgment [8-7-19]

“Why Did God Kill 70,000 Israelites for David’s Sin?” [4-13-20]

God & Lying

Seidensticker Folly #35: Is God an Inveterate Liar? [7-25-19]

God & Murder

Did God Command Jephthah to Burn His Daughter? [6-8-09]

Seidensticker Folly #12: God Likes Child Sacrifice? Huh?! [8-21-18]

Did God Immorally “Murder” King David’s Innocent Child? (God’s Providence and Permissive Will, and Hebrew Non-Literal Anthropomorphism) [5-6-19]

Loftus Atheist Error #6: Is God “Love” or a “Moral Monster”? [9-9-19]

Does God Cause Miscarriages?: A Farcical Exchange [8-23-20]

God: Name of

Ward’s Whoppers #6: Meaning of “Knowing” God’s Name [5-18-20]

God: Narcissist?

Madison vs. Jesus #6: Narcissistic, Love-Starved God? [8-6-19]

If God Needs Nothing, Why Does He Ask For So Much? (Is God “Narcissistic” or “Love-Starved?) [National Catholic Register, 8-22-19]

God: Omnipresence

God in Heaven & in His Temple: Contradiction? (vs. Dr. Steven DiMattei) [11-23-20]

God in Heaven and in His Temple: Biblical Difficulty? [National Catholic Register, 12-10-20]

God: Omniscience

Ward’s Whoppers #15-16: God & Omniscience / Worship [5-20-20]

God & Rape

Seidensticker Folly #6: God Has “No Problem with Rape”? [8-15-18]

God & Repentance

Madison vs. Jesus #7: God Prohibits Some Folks’ Repentance? [8-6-19]

Does God Ever Actively Prevent Repentance? [National Catholic Register, 9-1-19]

God & Sin

Does God “Want” Men to Sin? Does He “Ordain” Sin? [2-17-10 and 3-16-17]

God: a Spirit

Loftus Atheist Error #8: Ancient Jews, “Body” of God, & Polytheism [9-10-19]

Seidensticker Folly #71: Spirit-God “Magic”; 68% Dark Energy Isn’t? [2-2-21]

Dark Energy, Dark Matter and the Light of the World [National Catholic Register, 2-17-21]

God: Trinity

50 Biblical Evidences for the Holy Trinity [National Catholic Register, 11-14-16]

Seidensticker Folly #9: Trinity Unclear in the Bible? [8-17-18]

Seidensticker Folly #40: Craig, Trinity Definition, & Analogies [4-17-20]

God, Worship, & Praise

Why Do We Worship God? Dialogue with an Atheist [5-11-18]

Ward’s Whoppers #15-16: God & Omniscience / Worship [5-20-20]

Seidensticker Folly #47: Does God Need Praise? [8-31-20]

Seidensticker Folly #51: God and Praise, Part II [9-8-20]

Does God Have Any Need of Praise? [National Catholic Register, 9-24-20]

Golden Calf

Golden Calf & Cherubim: Biblical Contradiction? (vs. Dr. Steven DiMattei) [11-23-20]

Goliath

Goliath’s Height: Six Feet 9 Inches, 7 Feet 8, or 9 Feet 9? [7-4-21]

Hell

Dialogue w Atheists on Hell & Whether God is Just [12-5-06]

Herod the Great

Reply to Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce: Herod’s Death & Alleged “Contradictions” (with Jimmy Akin) [7-25-17]

Hittites

“Higher” Hapless Haranguing of Hypothetical Hittites (19th C.) [10-21-11; abridged 7-7-20]

Homer and the Gospels

Pearce’s Potshots #49: Homer & the Gospels (Mythmaking Scholar Suggests the Story of Priam in the Iliad as the Model for a Fictional Joseph of Arimathea) [10-15-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #50: Obsession w NT Imitation (?) of Homer (Once Again, Archaeology and Legitimate Historiography [i.e., Known Historical Facts] Refute These Ridiculous Claims [10-18-21]

Immigration Issues

Immigration & the Bible (w John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe) (see also the longer Facebook version) [9-18-17]

Do Jesus and the Bible Advocate Open Borders? [9-18-17; expanded on 6-21-18]

Borders and the Bible [National Catholic Register, 1-14-19]

“Israelites”

Pearce’s Potshots #27: Anachronistic “Israelites”? [5-25-21]

Jairus’ Daughter

Pearce’s Potshots #44: Jairus’ Daughter “Contradiction”? [8-17-21]

Jeremiah

Loftus Atheist Error #10: Prophet Jeremiah vs. Mosaic Law? [9-11-19]

Jesus & “Anxiety”

Jesus’ Agony in Gethsemane: Was it “Anxiety”? [National Catholic Register, 10-29-19]

Jesus: Ascension

Seidensticker Folly #15: Jesus’ Ascension: One or 40 Days? [9-10-18]

Jesus: Bethlehem (and Nazareth)

Reply to Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce: Bethlehem & Nazareth “Contradictions” (Including Extensive Exegetical Analysis of Micah 5:2) [7-28-17]

Jesus: Burial of

Resurrection #12: Who Buried Jesus? [4-26-21]

Jesus: Census

The Census, Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem, & History [2-3-11]

Jesus: Children of?

Did Jesus Have Children? (“Offspring”: Isaiah 53:10) [5-30-06]

Jesus: Christmas

Vs. Atheist David Madison #36: Matthew & Christmas [12-10-19]

Jesus: Disciples’ Forsaking of

Resurrection (?) #8: Disciples Forsaking Jesus [4-23-21]

Jesus: Divinity of

Was Jesus Confused About His Mission? [9-8-15]

Jesus Had to Learn That He Was God? [12-15-15]

50 Biblical Proofs That Jesus is God [National Catholic Register, 2-12-17]

Seidensticker Folly #55: Godhood of Jesus in the Synoptics [9-12-20]

Jesus: Existence of

Seidensticker Folly #4: Jesus Never Existed, Huh? [8-14-18]

Jesus & Families: Leaving of

Dr. David Madison vs. Jesus #1: Hating One’s Family? [8-1-19]

Madison vs. Jesus #4: Jesus Causes a Bad Marriage? [8-5-19]

Madison vs. Jesus #5: Cultlike Forsaking of Family? [8-5-19]

Did Jesus Teach His Disciples to Hate Their Families? [National Catholic Register, 8-17-19]

Seidensticker Folly #50: Mary Thought Jesus Was Crazy? (And Does the Gospel of Mark Radically Differ from the Other Gospels in the “Family vs. Following Jesus” Aspect?) [9-8-20]

Jesus: Genealogies

Reply to Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce: “Contradictory” Genealogies of Christ? [7-27-17]

Are the Two Genealogies of Christ Contradictory? [National Catholic Register, 1-5-19]

Jesus: Great Commission

Seidensticker Folly #30: Small vs. Great Commission? [10-26-18]

Jesus & Jewish Burial Customs

Seidensticker Folly #31: Jesus’ Burial Spices Contradiction? [4-20-19]

Madison vs. Jesus #12: Discipleship & Jewish Burial Customs [8-8-19]

Jesus & Jews & Gentiles

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #7: Ch. 7 (Gentiles) [8-19-19]

Vs. Atheist David Madison #39: Jesus the Xenophobic Bigot? (And did Jesus minister exclusively to Jews and not Gentiles at all: an alleged Gospel inconsistency)? [12-12-19]

Did Jesus Minister Exclusively to Jews and not Gentiles? [7-2-20]

Did Jesus Heal and Preach to Only Jews? No! [National Catholic Register, 7-19-20]

Jesus: Last Words on the Cross

Jesus’ Last Words: Biblical “Contradictions”? [4-8-21]

Jesus: “Many NT Jesuses”?

Seidensticker Folly #56: Many Jesuses in the New Testament? [9-13-20]

Jesus: “Mean”?

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #8: Ch. 9 (“Mean” Jesus) [8-19-19]

Jesus: Messianic Prophecies of the OT

Isaiah 53: Ancient & Medieval Jewish Messianic Interpretation [1982; revised 9-14-01]

Psalm 110: Examples of Jewish Commentators Who Regard it as Messianic / Reply to Rabbi Tovia Singer’s Charges of Christian “Tampering” with the Text [9-14-01]

Isaiah 53: Jewish-Christian Dialogue: Is the “Servant” the Messiah (Jesus) or Collective Israel? (vs. Ari G. [Orthodox] ) [9-14-01, with incorporation of much research from 1982]

Reply to Atheist on “Fabricated” OT Messianic Prophecies (ProfMTH”‘s Video Jesus Was Not the Messiah – Pt. I) [7-1-10]

Reply to Atheist on Isaiah 53 & “Dishonest” Christians [7-2-10]

Reply to Atheist on Messianic Prophecies (Zech 13:6, Ps 22) [7-3-10]

Reply to Atheist Jonathan MS Pearce: “Mistranslation” of “Virgin”? (Isaiah 7:14) (with Glenn Miller) [7-26-17]

Dual Fulfillment of Prophecy & the Virgin Birth (vs. JMS Pearce) [12-18-20]

Jesus & Money

Vs. Atheist David Madison #42: Jesus vs. Financial Responsibility? [12-19-19]

Jesus: Mustard Seed

Seidensticker Folly #25: Jesus’ Alleged Mustard Seed Error [10-8-18]

Jesus: Nativity

Pearce’s Potshots #11: 28 Defenses of Jesus’ Nativity (Featuring Confirmatory Historical Tidbits About the Magi and Herod the Great) [1-9-21]

Jesus the “Nazarene”

Jesus the “Nazarene”: Did Matthew Make Up a “Prophecy”? (Reply to Jonathan M. S. Pearce from the Blog, A Tippling Philosopher / Oral Traditions and Possible Lost Old Testament Books Referred to in the Bible) [12-17-20]

Jesus the “Nazarene” Redux (vs. Jonathan M. S. Pearce) [12-19-20]

Jesus: Palm Sunday: Olive and Palm Branches

Resurrection Debate #4: No “Leafy Branches” on Palm Sunday? [4-19-21]

Jesus: Parables

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #5: Chapter 4 (Parables) [8-16-19]

Jesus: Passion of

David Madison: Synoptics vs. John Re Jesus’ Will & Passion? [8-22-19]

Jesus: “Prince of Peace”

Madison vs. Jesus #11: He’s Not the Prince of Peace? [8-8-19]

Jesus: Resurrection

The Resurrection: Hoax or History? [cartoon tract with art by Dan Grajek: 1985]

“Three Days and Nights” in the Tomb: Contradiction? [10-31-06]

Dialogue w Atheist on Post-Resurrection “Contradictions” [1-26-11]

Seidensticker Folly #18: Resurrection “Contradictions”? [9-17-18]

Seidensticker Folly #57: Male Witnesses of the Dead Jesus [9-14-20]

Pearce’s Potshots #13: Resurrection “Contradictions” (?) [2-2-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #14: Resurrection “Contradictions” #2 [2-4-21]

Refuting 59 of Michael Alter’s Resurrection “Contradictions” [3-12-21]

12 Alleged Resurrection “Contradictions” That Aren’t Really Contradictions [National Catholic Register, 4-7-21]

Resurrection (?) #6: “Three Days and Three Nights” [4-21-21]

Resurrection #15: Luke & Jesus’ Galilee Appearances [4-28-21]

Resurrection #17: Women Who Saw the Risen Jesus [4-29-21]

Resurrection #18: “Touch Me Not” & Mary Magdalene [4-29-21]

11 More Resurrection “Contradictions” That Aren’t Really Contradictions [National Catholic Register, 5-8-21]

Jesus: Second Coming

Dr. David Madison vs. Jesus #3: Nature & Time of 2nd Coming [8-3-19]

Seidensticker Folly #58: Jesus Erred on Time of 2nd Coming? (with David Palm) [10-7-20]

Jesus: Sermon on the Mount

Atheist “Refutes” Sermon on the Mount (Or Does He?) [National Catholic Register, 7-23-17]

Jesus: Thieves Crucified With Him

Resurrection (?) #7: Crucified Thieves Taunting Jesus [4-21-21]

Jesus: “Turning the Other Cheek”

Jesus Didn’t Always Turn the Other Cheek (Proverbs) [7-6-19]

What Does “Turn the Other Cheek” Mean? [National Catholic Register, 7-20-19]

Jesus and Unbelief

Resurrection #27: Jesus’ View of Unbelief & Evidence [5-5-21]

Jesus and the Women at the Crucifixion

Resurrection (?) #9: The Women at the Crucifixion [4-23-21]

Job

Ward’s Whoppers #14: Who Caused Job’s Suffering? [5-20-20]

Who Caused Job to Suffer — God or Satan? [National Catholic Register, 6-28-20]

John, Gospel of (Author)

Pearce’s Potshots #46: Who Wrote the Gospel of John? [9-2-21]

John the Baptist

Dialogue w Agnostic on Elijah and John the Baptist [9-24-06]

Seidensticker Folly #27: Confusion Re John the Baptist [10-9-18]

Jonah

Catholics and the Historicity of Jonah the Prophet [6-27-08]

Joseph (Patriarch)

Pearce’s Potshots #28: Pharaoh Didn’t Know Joseph?! [5-26-21]

Genesis, Joseph, Archaeology, & Biblical Accuracy (+ A Brief Survey of Evidence for “The King’s Highway” in Jordan in the Bronze Age: Prior to 1000 BC) [6-8-21]

Joseph of Arimathea

Dialogue w Atheist: Joseph of Arimathea “Contradictions” (??) (Lousy Atheist Exegesis Example #5672) [1-7-11]

Resurrection #11: “All the Council” / Joseph of Arimathea? [4-25-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #49: Homer & the Gospels (Mythmaking Scholar Suggests the Story of Priam in the Iliad as the Model for a Fictional Joseph of Arimathea) [10-15-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #50: Obsession w NT Imitation (?) of Homer (Once Again, Archaeology and Legitimate Historiography [i.e., Known Historical Facts] Refute These Ridiculous Claims [10-18-21]

Joshua & the Sun

Seidensticker Folly #39: “The Sun Stood Still” (Joshua) [4-16-20]

Judas

Death of Judas: Alleged Bible Contradictions Debunked (vs. Dave Van Allen and Dr. Jim Arvo) [9-27-07]

Resurrection #19: When Was Judas Paid? [4-30-21]

Resurrection #20: Motivation of Judas’ Betrayal [4-30-21]

Resurrection #21: Chronology of Judas’ Evil Plans [5-1-21]

Resurrection #22: Did Judas Repent Or Not? [5-2-21]

Resurrection #23: How Did Judas Die? [5-3-21]

Resurrection #24: Judas & the Potter’s Field [5-3-21]

Last Things (Eschatology)

Debate with an Agnostic on the Meaning of “Last Days” and Whether the Author of Hebrews Was a False Prophet [9-13-06]

Biblical Annihilationism or Universalism? (w Atheist Ted Drange) [9-30-06]

“The Last Days”: Meaning in Hebrew, Biblical Thought [12-5-08]

Love of Enemies

“Love Your Enemies”: Old Testament Teaching Too? [9-7-20]

Luke: Gospel of

Gospel of Luke Bashing Examined & Found Wanting (vs. Vexen Crabtree) [2-12-21]

Lust

Vs. Atheist David Madison #40: Jesus: All Sexual Desire is Lust? (Replies to some of the most clueless atheist “arguments” to ever enter the mind of a sentient human being . . .) [12-18-19]

Mark: Gospel of

Dr. David Madison vs. Jesus #2: Weird & Fictional Mark 16? [8-3-19]

Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #1: Intro. & Overview (Gospels as “Con Job”? / Parables & Repentance / Old Testament Sacrifices & Jesus / “Weird” Mark 16 / Why Jesus Was Killed) [8-13-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #2: Chapter 1 (Why Did Mark Omit Jesus’ Baptism? / Why Was Jesus Baptized? / “Suffering Servant” & Messiah in Isaiah / Spiritual “Kingdom of God” / Archaeological Support) [8-14-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #3: Chapter 2 (Archaeological Support / Sin, Illness, Healing, & Faith / “Word” & “Gospel”) [8-15-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #4: Chapter 3 (Unforgivable Sin [Blaspheming the Holy Spirit] / Plots to Kill Jesus / Rude Jesus? [“Who is My Mother?”]) [8-16-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #6: Chapters 5-6 (Supernatural & Miracles / Biblical Literary Genres & Figures / Perpetual Virginity / Healing & Belief / Persecution of Jesus in Nazareth) [8-18-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #9: Chapter 10 (Christian Biblical Ignorance / Jesus vs. Marriage & Family? / Divinity of Jesus) [8-20-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #10: Chapter 11 (Two Donkeys? / Fig Tree / Moneychangers) [8-20-19]

David Madison vs. the Gospel of Mark #11: Chapter 12 (Jesus Predicts His Passion & Death / Judgment Day / God’s Mercy / God as Cosmic Narcissist?) [8-21-19]

Pearce’s Potshots #15: Gospel of Matthew vs. Gospel of Mark? [2-7-21]

Groundless Gospel of Mark Bashing Systematically Refuted (vs. Vexen Crabtree) [2-9-21]

Mary & Jesus

“Who is My Mother?”: Beginning of “Familial Church” [8-26-19]

Did Jesus Deny That Mary Was “Blessed” (Lk 11:27-28)? [11-19-19]

Did Jesus Denigrate Calling Mary “Blessed?” [National Catholic Register, 12-24-19]

“Who is My Mother?” — Jesus and the “Familial Church” [National Catholic Register, 1-21-20]

Seidensticker Folly #50: Mary Thought Jesus Was Crazy? (And Does the Gospel of Mark Radically Differ from the Other Gospels in the “Family vs. Following Jesus” Aspect?) [9-8-20]

Mary: Sinless

“All Have Sinned” vs. a Sinless, Immaculate Mary? [1996; revised and posted at National Catholic Register on 12-11-17]

Jason Engwer and a Supposedly Sinful Mary (Doubting Jesus’ Sanity? / Inconsiderate (?) Young Jesus in the Temple / “Woman” and the Wedding at Cana) [11-16-20]

Matthew: Gospel of

Seidensticker Folly #53: Matthew Cited the Wrong Prophet? [9-11-20]

Pearce’s Potshots #15: Gospel of Matthew vs. Gospel of Mark? [2-7-21]

Gospel of Matthew Bashing Refuted Point-by-Point (vs. Vexen Crabtree) [2-10-21]

Moses

Did Moses (and God) Sin In Judging the Midianites (Numbers 31)? [5-21-08]

Righteous and Sinful Anger in Moses: Smashing the Tablets and the Rock at Meribah [5-22-08]

Ward’s Whoppers #9-10: Parting the Red Sea / “Foreigners” [5-18-20]

Moses & Aaron & Their Staff(s): Biblical Contradictions? (vs. Dr. Steven DiMattei) [11-21-20]

A Bible Puzzle About the Staff of Moses and Aaron [National Catholic Register, 1-14-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #29: No Pitch / Bitumen in Moses’ Egypt? [5-26-21]

Moses, Kadesh, Negev, Bronze Age, & Archaeology [6-10-21]

Pearce’s Potshots #34: Atheist Throws a Screwball Pitch (Part II of “Pitch / Bitumen in Moses’ Egypt”) [6-12-21]

Did Moses Exist? No Absolute Proof, But Strong Evidence (Pearce’s Potshots #35, in Which Our Brave Hero Classifies Moses as “a Mythological Figure” and I Reply!) [6-14-21]

New Testament: Citation of the Old Testament

Old Testament Citations in the NT Defended (Jn 7:38) [7-4-10]

Pacifism

Pacifism vs. “Just War”: Biblical and Social Factors [April 1987]

Passover

Ward’s Whoppers #7-8: “God of Abraham…” / Passover [5-18-20]

Paul & Atheism

St. Paul: Two-Faced Re Unbelief? (Romans 1 “vs.” Epistles) [7-5-10]

Paul: Knowledge of Jesus

Seidensticker Folly #24: Paul’s Massive Ignorance of Jesus (?) [10-5-18]

Paul & Lying

Pearce’s Potshots #16: Does St. Paul Justify Lying? [2-12-21]

Paul: “Pluralist”?

St. Paul: Orthodox Catholic or Theological Pluralist? [12-28-18]

Paul & Romans

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #1: Chapter 1 (Virgin Birth / God in Creation / Human Rebelliousness / Paul’s Loving Tolerance / God’s Forgiveness / Paul on Sex & Marriage / God’s Just Judgment) [8-22-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #2: Chapter 2 (God’s Fair Judgment / Soteriology / God Knowing Our Thoughts / Chosen People) [8-26-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #3: Chapter 3 (Pauline / Biblical Soteriology: Faith and Works, Grace and Merit / Hyperbole [“No one is good”]) [8-27-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #4: Chapter 4 (Development: Law & Grace & Faith / Circumcision & Abortion / Eternal Salvation & Damnation in the Old Testament) [8-27-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #5: Chapter 5 (Conversion & Apostolic Credentials / Pre-Pauline Evangelism / “Rogue Apostle”? / Falsely Alleged Fears / Universal Atonement / Foolishness of the Cross / Unspiritual Persons) [8-28-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #6: Chapter 6 (Baptismal Regeneration / Is Paul a Killjoy? / Paul & the Last Days) [8-28-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #7: Chapter 7 (Stock Atheist Insults / Flesh vs. Spirit / Did Paul Wallow in “Personal Torment”?) [8-29-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #8: Chapter 8 (Meaning of “Flesh” / Original Sin & Man’s Rebellion / Paul’s Triumphant Solution / Paul & Greek Culture) [8-29-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #9: Chapter 9 (“Hardening Hearts” and Hebrew “Block Logic”) [8-30-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #10: Chapter 10 (“Circumcision of the Heart” & the Law / “Being Saved” in Ancient Jewish Scripture) [8-30-19]

David Madison vs. Paul and Romans #11: Chapter 11 (“Scary” & “Vindictive” Yahweh? / Endless Stupefied Insults of God / Judgment Explained Yet Again) [8-30-19]

Peter: Denials of

Seidensticker Folly #48: Peter’s Denials & Accusers [8-31-20]

Philistines

Pearce’s Potshots #33: No Philistines in Moses’ Time? [6-3-21]

Polytheism & the Bible

Seidensticker Folly #19: Torah & OT Teach Polytheism? [9-18-18]

Loftus Atheist Error #8: Ancient Jews, “Body” of God, & Polytheism [9-10-19]

Do the OT & NT Teach Polytheism or Henotheism? [7-1-20]

The Bible Teaches That Other “Gods” are Imaginary [National Catholic Register, 7-10-20]

Seidensticker Folly #70: Biblical “Henotheism” [?] Redux [1-31-21]

Prayer

Seidensticker Folly #7: No Conditional Prayer in Scripture? [8-16-18]

Should We Pray for All People or Not (1 John 5:16)? [9-5-18]

Biblical Prayer is Conditional, Not Solely Based on Faith [National Catholic Register, 10-9-18]

We Can’t Demand That God Directly Communicate to Us or Answer Prayer Exactly as We Want Him to (and God’s non-answer is no reason to leave the faith) [blog combox, 2-23-19]

Madison vs. Jesus #10: Universal Answered Prayer & Healing? [8-7-19]

Proverbs

Ward’s Whoppers #17-21: Proverbs Allow of Exceptions [5-21-20]

Salvation

Seidensticker Folly #29: Repentance: Part of Salvation [10-26-18]

Seidensticker Folly #64: A Saved Dahmer & Damned Anne Frank? [11-24-20]

Science & the Bible / The Universe

Seidensticker Folly #21: Atheist “Bible Science” Absurdities [9-25-18]

Seidensticker Folly #23: Atheist “Bible Science” Inanities, Pt. 2 [10-2-18]

Loftus Atheist Error #9: Bible Espouses Mythical Animals? [9-10-19]

The Bible and Mythical Animals [National Catholic Register, 10-9-19]

The Bible is Not “Anti-Scientific,” as Skeptics Claim [National Catholic Register, 10-23-19]

Vs. Atheist David Madison #37: Bible, Science, & Germs [12-10-19]

Vs. Atheist David Madison #38: Who is Insulting Intelligence? (. . . with emphasis on the vexing and complex question of the ultimate origins of matter and life) [12-11-19]

Seidensticker Folly #36: Disease, Jesus, Paul, Miracles, & Demons [1-13-20]

Slavery & the Bible

Biblical Inspiration & Cultural Influences: Contradictory? (emphasis on slavery) [8-10-18]

Seidensticker Folly #10: Slavery in the Old Testament [8-20-18]

Seidensticker Folly #11: Slavery & the New Testament [8-20-18]

Souls

Seidensticker Folly #8: Physics Has Disproven Souls? [8-16-18]

Ten Commandments

Seidensticker Folly #16: Two Sets of Ten Commandments? [9-10-18]

Ward’s Whoppers #11-12: Ten Commandments Issues [5-19-20]

Tomb of Jesus

Resurrection #14: When Was the Stone Rolled Away? [4-27-21]

Resurrection #16: Peter & John at the Empty Tomb [4-28-21]

Women

Dialogue: Sexist, Misogynist Bible and Christianity? (Debate with Five Atheists. Are Christian Women Abused as “Sheep”?) [9-20-10; abridged a bit on 2-12-20]

“Zombies” (Matthew 27:51-53)

Seidensticker Folly #45: “Zombies” & Clueless Atheists (Atheist Neil Carter Joins in on the Silliness and Tomfoolery as Well) [8-29-20]

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Photo credit: geralt (8-18-16) [PixabayPixabay License]

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Summary: I’ve done quite a few rebuttals of falsely alleged biblical “contradictions”, so I thought it would be good (for reference purposes) to collect them all together in one place, categorized by topic.

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Last updated on 18 October 2021

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February 15, 2021

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I want you and your adherents to know that I am not . . . so faint-hearted as to be disturbed by your insults. But the fact that you are so disparaging, derogatory, and utterly contemptuous towards my Discussion argues that it is not as contemptible as you make out. If it did not bear down on you, your pen would not have produced such outrageous insults to its author.

[Y]ou are so impudent in your insults . . . so unrestrained in your abuse when you are hemmed in by arguments, that no one, even if he bent over backwards to be fair to you, could find any excuses for your spirit. (Erasmus responding to Martin Luther, Hyperaspistes [1526], pp. 103, 140 in Vol. 76 in Collected Works [1999] )

Matthew 5:11-12 (RSV) Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 10:22, 25 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. . . . [25] . . . If they have called the master of the house Be-el’zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

Man, this was tough to narrow down to a mere ten, but I thought I’d have some fun with it. At bottom, however, it is very serious, since it is sin (see my final remarks).

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10. I’d characterize you as an arrogant bloviator with a penchant for TL;DR diatribes . . . I do believe, though, that you’ve helped people over the years. I have friends who benefited from you during their conversions before they realized what a self-parody you have become. They find it sad that you’re so far from who they thought you were. . . . at the present moment, you’re doing more harm than good with your name-calling and your absurd denials of the truth in front of your face, and that’s why you’re just not taken seriously by many people now. Trying to debate with you about anything is an exercise in futility – not because of your skill as a rhetorician, but because you simply are unable to conceive of any scenario where you aren’t the triumphalistic victor. . . . We’re trying to do work here that matters, and we don’t have time for playground fights.
[5-26-16]

Personally, I’ve found you ridiculous from the moment I first ran into you. You’re a modern day, post-conciliar Don Quixote, all bravado and sword swinging, invariably picking the wrong targets. . . . here you are, sword as dull as ever, energy for a thousand battles, none of them worthwhile. . . . you’ve been wrong as long as I’ve ever come across anything you’ve written about anything that matters, and history will judge you to have been on the wrong side of the schism that is even now coming to a head. It’s a thing, I think, with Protestant converts. They don’t have sola scriptura anymore, so they resort to papal positivism as their one and only guide. Is the current pope saying something that’s an almost complete contradiction of one of his predecessors? No problem! Like Muslims have the theological principle of abrogation, we have Super-Ultramontanism! . . . we have a bad pope (and a run of Modernist-influenced ones before him) and are still reeling from a bad council and a bad Mass means having to deal with an uncomfortable level of cognitive dissonance. . . . You could be a part of the solution if you want, but only if you stop making it about you and start making it about the truth. . . . I feel bad for you, I really do. Someone was calling you the Napoleon Dynamite of Catholic Apologetics, but really, you’re the Uncle Rico. You just keep fantasizing, 20 years on, about what would have happened if coach had just put you in fourth quarter. You keep telling people that you can throw a football over the mountains from your front porch. But coach didn’t put you in, and you can’t throw that far, and the only thing that matters right now is if you fight the evil that is, at this very moment, threatening to strangle the faith of millions of Catholics because it is being perpetrated from the very top. [5-28-16]

It’s all about you. All hubris, all the time. . . . of course, you pulled your trademark move of twisting whatever the other person says to fit your narrative. You’re not just predictable, you’re on rails. Get over yourself, Dave. You’re not even a little deal. And you are doing more harm than good. [5-28-16]

Steve Skojec [radical Catholic reactionary and webmaster of One Vader Five]

I like the folksy style and Steve’s way with words, and wanted to preserve it. No one I’ve seen in the present era can insult with the sheer derision and contempt in the way that Steve does. But I pity him and think I understand. He barely has any [Catholic] faith anymore, absolutely hates Vatican II, and has virtually asserted that the Church and Pope Francis have entered into heresy, which is contrary to the Catholic dogma of the indefectibility of the Church and of the pope. Pray for the man. He is in very deep spiritual trouble and could very well end up an atheist if he doesn’t change his dangerous trajectory soon.

9. You’re a joke. I’m surprised you have an audience. You’re also a psychologist, eh? Wow! . . . Again, you’re a joke. To think you could pompously proclaim you are better than me is beyond me when you don’t know me. It’s a defensive mechanism you have with people like me. It’s called respecting people as people, and Dave’s Christianity does not do that with people who don’t agree with him. I’m just tired of pompous asses on the internet who go around claiming they are superior to me in terms of intelligence and faith. Such arrogance makes me vomit. . . . self-assured arrogant idiots out there, like Dave, who prefer to proclaim off of my personal experience that they are better than I. (10-16-06)

You are an idiot! You never critiqued my whole deconversion story. Deconversion stories are piecemeal. They cannot give a full explanation for why someone left the faith. They only give hints at why they left the faith. It requires writing a whole book about why someone left the faith to understand why they did, and few people do that. I did. If you truly want to critique my deconversion story then critique my book. Other than that, you can critique a few brief paragraphs or a brief testimony, if you want to, but that says very little about why someone left the faith. You walk away thinking you have completely analysed someone’s story. But from where I sit, that’s just stupid. That’s S-T-U-P-I-D! If you truly want to critique a deconversion story, then critique mine in my book. I wrote a complete story there. . . . Dave, I can only tolerate stupidity so long. I challenge you to really critique the one deconversion story that has been published in a book. It’s a complete story. A whole story. It’s mine. . . . Do you accept my challenge? (10-16-06)

— John Loftus [prominent online atheist author and webmaster]

John was rather displeased because I critiqued his “deconversion” story and showed, I think, that his reasons for rejecting Christianity were woefully inadequate and at places downright silly or ignorant. At first, I refused to take up his challenge, because I wanted him to d=send me a PDF copy of his book (traded for several of mine), and he refused. But in September 2019 I bought a paper copy of his book and took up the challenge, writing ten in-depth critiques of it. And guess what? Surprise! He has utterly ignored all ten.

8.  This man is on drugs. Either that, or he’s possessed. It’s unbelievable that there are “Catholics” defending apostasy and scandal. Does he have any articles defending the child molesting homosexual priests as well?

— “Traditio” [radical Catholic reactionary] (7-17-08)

I’m honored to bear this insult, since Jesus was accused of being demon-possessed, too. Part of following Jesus is taking up His cross, which includes the insults He received as well.

7. [T]here are not that many of us who take Armstrong’s writings seriously . . . his writings are little more than a bunch of words that have been loosely strung together). (1-3-05)

. . . strategy of deceit that he [yours truly] uses all the time . . . (1-11-05)
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[T]he “nature” of his apology was insincerity . . . That’s the “strategy of deceit” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4. (1-13-05)
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He has no problem with lying, so long as he thinks he can pin that same charge on someone else; that way he doesn’t “appear” to be lying. What a sad spectacle. (1-14-05)

*

What’s my “lack of charity” got to do with DA’s lack of honesty? Nothing. . . . that’s just what DA does best–he deceives, and he usually accomplishes that by focusing on half-truths (that’s the “strategy of deceit” that marks the heretic). (1-15-05)

— Dr. Eric Svendsen [anti-Catholic Protestant author and former webmaster]

Eric has been known on several occasions to declare that some unfortunate is definitely damned to the fires of hell. But I suppose that if he thinks I am a heretic, I am already consigned to the reprobate in his fertile discerning mind. He was one of the more colorful and active anti-Catholic polemicists online, in the early 2000s. Then he decided to leave the Internet in April 2010 (I did a fond remembrance post) and has never been heard of since (to my knowledge). I’d like to think that he came to his senses (at least to some extent).

6. [Y]ou are a chronic liar . . . shoddy, incompetent,and anachronistic exegetical work. . . . Titus 3 says to reject the factious man. You are the epitome of that man. . . . Further, this isn’t about the truth for you Dave, however defined, it’s about stroking your own overbloated ego. . . . a person of such obviously low character . . .

— Gene M. Bridges [anti-Catholic Protestant] (10-25-07)

I’m surprised (and a bit disappointed) that Gene didn’t consign me to hell, or at least to the insane asylum . . . this could have been so much better! But to be fair, in the same post, he consistently compared me to the Korean dictator (i.e., the father of the present one), complete with pictures. That’s pretty good, too!

5. Dave . . . is a self-appointed e-poligist [sic] and largely self-published author. [I have had eleven books “officially” published, by six major publishers: four of them bestsellers, and ten additional ones by FaithLife / Logos: the largest Christian electronic publisher; I also have several Imprimaturs] . . . not all of his doctrines are Catholic . . . Dave has apparently never defined Christianity. . . . Maybe Dave will actually stand behind the dogmatic declarations of the church for which he is allegedly an apologist. (10-29-07)

[Y]ou’re not really in line with orthodox Roman Catholic teaching, Dave. (7-6-09)
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You are as kind as you are wise or honest. (8-21-09)
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I’ve recently commented on your lack of integrity. It seems this is going to be an ongoing trend for you. (8-21-09)
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[Y]our agenda is more important to you than the truth. (8-21-09)
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“Turretinfan” [anti-Catholic Protestant Calvinist and blogmaster]
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This particularly obnoxious fool is so obsessed with his anonymity that he actually has appeared in live debates with Catholics with a bag over his head (looking like either a Klansman or a kid at Halloween with a lousy costume). I’ve noted and/or refuted several of his ridiculous opinions, such as that God wanting men to sin, and statues of Jesus Christ being idols.
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4. I’m not the one publishing books and attempting to define my very being as an “apologist.” If these men wish to be taken seriously, I suggest they do serious work. . . . [He] craves attention. (12-22-07)
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This is a big difference between DA and I. I’ve never been bored. I actually have a job, . . . On the other hand, I think DA considers sitting up in his attic tapping away on a computer all day an actual job. Oh that’s right, he’s a professional Catholic apologist. (7-17-09)
*
I think it’s quite possible you have serious psychological issues. . . . your cyber-behavior strikes me (and probably others) as very bizarre. If you get yourself checked out, and my suspicions prove accurate, and you get the help you need, be it medication or therapy, and we see a change in your cyber behavior, . . . I don’t want to be known as a guy who picked on a person struggling with deep psychological issues. . . . (8-24-09)
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[P]erhaps it is time we back of from Dave Armstrong a bit. I know you probably think I’m being sarcastic, but actually, I’m not. . . . There’s just something not right with Mr. Armstrong. I think he needs some help. (8-26-09)
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Yes indeed, I do find your shenanigans quite odd behavior. . . . I think you’re wacky, . . . your eratic [sic] behavior, particularly on my blog, lead[sic]  me to question whether or not you needed help. (2-27-10)
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Part of looking over your “work” and commenting on it is nothing else than showing why you shouldn’t be taken seriously. (4-18-10)
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James Swan [anti-Catholic Protestant polemicist and webmaster]
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This guy’s a real piece of work. I don’t say that he’s nuts, as he says about me, but I do say (from long sad experience over 18 years) that he is a first-class fool and inveterate liar: at least when it comes to anything to do with me. He was at least somewhat cordial in the beginning of our interactions (as much as an anti-Catholic bigot can be with a Catholic), but what put him over the edge was foolish pride: after (in June 2003) I roundly refuted his second hit-piece about my Luther research that he had worked so hard on (with 201 footnotes, no less!). It probably took him several weeks to write; took me just a few hours to refute. That blow to his ego was just too much to take, and so he has “replied” ever since with the asinine juvenile insults we see above. Bitterness and jealousy drive many many people to serious sin.
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3. I put forth to you right now that Dave Armstrong, without regard to who trained the ass, educated the ass, is a reflection of exactly what’s wrong with the Catholic Church in America today. If you want to know why it’s split and disfunctional [sic] as a unifying force? Look at Dave. He is the spitting image. . . . Dave Armstrong- you as a heart- aren’t worth the Tomahawk payload to blow you to hell. . . . And if I was your wife I’d divorce you. For being a prissy phony.
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[Mary reminds me of a funny saying from Winston Churchill. Some woman who didn’t like him much said, “Sir, if I were your wife, I’d put poison in your tea.” The great man replied, “Madame, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”]
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. . . You are in this for the money. Not me. Peace out. You are off the rails and too egotistical to know who your friends are. . . . My daughter married such a nightmare. . . . I think if I were you I’d spend sometime wondering who the hell I was before God. Trembling before him certainly is not in your line. . . . what he sorely lacks for as an apologist is love- either for people or the Church. Can’t quite leave his Protestantism behind. . . . A sad sad case Dave is. No love. . . . There is no love, no peace, no charity on your page or in you. You abuse anyone who disagrees with you. And apparently your no does not mean no and your yes does not mean yes. . . . Still waiting for some Catholic apologetics. . . . I also venture to say that one of the more truly toxic forms of Catholicism are with those who convert yet never truly leave their Protestant home. They are neither one or t’other. . . . Not only are you an idiot, but unethical, a bulky and a liar. . . . You are just amazingly STUPID. It boggles the mind anyone reads you at all. . . . It’s time you got a real job man. . . . I have no intention of reading apologetics from a guy who acts premenopausal.. . . This is all you’ve got. Gossip, . . ., slander, calumny, insults and screenshots. Stop blaming the Church by calling this pig tripe of yours “apologetics”. . . . Armstrong just has no credibility left. . . . An apologist? The man is a joke.  . . . complete dishonesty . . . Very dishonest and completely unaware of his own prejudices. . . . It’s hard to decide what is worse. Dave Armstrong or his supporters. (April 2017 on my own Facebook page]
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Mary Hammond [liberal Catholic]
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Mary would derive huge benefit from a reading of Proverbs. But of course she wouldn’t apply the “fool” verses to herself:

Proverbs 18:2 (RSV) A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to himself.

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise dispenses knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

2. [G]uys like Dave Armstrong . . . present an artificially Evangelicalized version of Roman Catholicism . . . sterile hybrid theology that isn’t consistently Catholic or Protestant. (9-14-06)

*
I used to think that Dave Armstrong was just a jerk. Not deeply evil. Just a jerk. . . . He isn’t just a narcissistic little jerk. He’s actually evil. It’s not something we can spoof or satirize anymore. He’s crossed a line of no return. (4-13-09)
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[H]ypersensitive, paranoid, an ego-maniac, narcissistic, with a martyr and persecution complex, . . . a self-obsessive individual . . . Not only is Dave an idolater, but a self-idolater. He has sculpted an idol in his own, precious image. A singular, autobiographical personality cult. (7-16-09)
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You have to wonder what Armstrong would do with himself in heaven. I don’t think heaven is big enough for God Almighty and David Armstrong. If Armstrong ever gets to heaven, he’ll have to evict the Lord to make room for himself. Dave is his very own religion. Both subject and object. He carries around a mental icon of his adorable self-image. Lights imaginary candles to his self-image. Burns imaginary incense to his self-image.
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This overweening self-importance isn’t limited to Armstrong. In my observation, it’s fairly characteristic of Catholic converts who become pop apologists. . . . What is it about Catholic converts like Armstrong which selects for this particular mindset? (“The Cult of St. Dave”, 7-16-09)
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[Y]ou play the innocent victim when someone exposes your chicanery. . . . you’re a hack who pretends to be a professional apologist . . . you don’t do any real research. . . . Dave is a stalwart enemy of the faith. He’s no better than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Just like the militant atheist, his MO is to destroy faith in God’s word to make room for his alternative. (1-28-10)
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[Y]our persecution complex (btw, you need to have your psychiatrist up the dosage) . . . I didn’t say you were evil in this one instance. You have an evil character. . . . There’s always a clientele for P. T. Barnums like you. . . . I’m supposed to be taken in by your bipolar tactics? (1-29-10)
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. . . a schizophrenic guy like Armstrong . . . One of Dave’s problems is his lifelong love affair with himself. He reacts to any imagined slight the way a normal man reacts if someone slights his wife or mother or girlfriend. . . . Dave is self-important. . . . If would help Armstrong if, in refuting the allegation that he’s emotionally unhinged, if he didn’t become emotionally unhinged whenever he hears the allegation. . . . because he doesn’t trust in the merit of Christ alone for salvation, Dave has an insatiable need for self-justification. He, like other Catholics, has no peace of mind. . . . Yes, Dave, that’s evil. Pure evil. . . . Of course, that’s symptomatic of Armstrong’s instability. (4-18-10)
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It’s bad enough to be a narcissist, but when you’re at war with your mirror-image, who’s left to turn to? It’s hard to be Dave Armstrong. Hard to be a bipolar solipsist. (“Split-personality narcissist”, 8-3-11)
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Both Paul Hoffer and Dave Armstrong are bad men who imagine they are good men. That’s not unusual. Bad men often have a high opinion of their own motives. And Catholicism reinforces that self-deception. (12-7-11)
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— the late Steve Hays [anti-Catholic Protestant webmaster and polemicist]

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This is seething literal hatred and contempt, in a way that only an anti-Catholic Calvinist applying his own false doctrine of total depravity can express. The problem with supposedly “determining” who is of the elect or not (which means also who is going to hell) is that the Bible never sanctions doing any such thing (and even John Calvin agreed). But once a person goes down that road and doesn’t like someone else or his or her ideas, the danger is that they will decide that they are scumbags, judged by God and on the way to hell. This in turn justifies any outrages and slanders heaped upon the object of derision. It’s as far away from the love of Jesus and the fruit of the Holy Spirit as can be imagined. I don’t thereby conclude that the one committing such sins is not a Christian. But I do know for sure that such inveterate lying puts them in serious spiritual danger. I sincerely pray that Steve was saved when he passed in the last year. I know that God does everything in His mercy to save as many as possible, given human free will and sin.
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1. DA lacks the ability to engage the text of the Scriptures in a meaningful fashion, and 2) DA will use anything to attack the truth. . . . As to the first, I simply direct anyone to the “exegesis” presented in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, his 2001 publication. The book is a monument to how to ignore context, avoid grammar, shred syntax, and insert the traditions of Rome willy-nilly into any passage you cite. . . . DA thinks himself a modern Socrates, yet, his writing takes wild leaps from topic to topic, inserts endless (and often gratuitous) irrelevant material that serves only to cover the shallow nature of what is being said, and in the end requires one to possess the skill of nailing jello to a wall to be able to respond to it for its utter lack of substance.  (3-28-04)
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[I]f you read his materials, he’s very very high on himself and, uh, makes sure that you know how many books he’s written. Of course, they’re vanity published,

[at this point in time — April 2004 — I had two books published, by two different Catholic publishers: one the largest one: OSV; both bestsellers]

but how many books he’s written, and uh, you read the top of his page, and it’s [mocking tone] exegesis and history and apologetics and philosophy and all this stuff, and you know, in your heart of hearts, that this fella, uh, bless his soul, has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s read some books, but the important foundational stuff that allows you to actually make sense out of all that stuff, he’s clueless; he has no idea what he is talking about, but he writes constantly!

. . . Cuz, it’s sorta, sort of; it’s really disturbing to me, uh, that I hear from people, and they go, “well, well, whaddya think about what he said about this?” And I sorta, I sorta; I, it’s really hard for me to go, “well, have you really thought about, you know, the foundation of this argument, and the background of this argument?” People need to learn how to examine argumentation! And see through fluff! Uh, see through stuff that shouldn’t even be called an argument; it’s complimenting it way too much to call it an argument! And [sigh] it’s just, how do you deal with folks like that? . . .

When you respond to him, and I don’t know if anyone followed it, if they went to his blog — we provided some of the links and stuff — but, I went through, I provided, I quoted from his book, and then I quoted from the article I had written. And the whole point was to illustrate the difference in exegetical methodology. I have one. He doesn’t. And he doesn’t because he doesn’t know the field. He’s just; he doesn’t know what he’s doing! I mean, that would be like my trying to, to, write to a CPA and criticize uh, an audit that he’s done on a major corporation. I’m not trained in that. I don’t know the terminology. I don’t know the basics, the foundational rules that you’re supposed to do and why you put this in this ledger and why you put that — I don’t know that stuff. It’s not my area, I; you can go to school and learn those things. Uh, but he hasn’t done so.

And so, I just provided as an example. Well, he writes this response which has nothing to do with the text; it has nothing to do with exegesis; it just simply proves my point, but that’s one of the things [mocking me] “see, he just ignores this.” Well, okay, yeah, I did, because it wasn’t worth responding to! I mean, it’s just that bad! So, I did respond to it, after he said I wouldn’t, and so I responded to it, demonstrated that it had no connection with reality whatsoever, it was really really bad, and his response to that was basically to accuse me of attacking him, and all the rest of this stuff, which for him means, I pointed out that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

When do, where do you draw the line? I mean, it would be so much easier to just ignore all these people, but the problem is, we’re one of those few folks that actually gets out there and we get our hands dirty. We actually take on these, these individuals, and show where the argumentation’s bad, and you’re gonna end up with dirt on your hands, and on your face, when you wallow with some of these folks, and we try to figure out where the line is. This guy [sigh], sadly, there are people who write recommendations of his stuff! I mean, you got Scott Hahn, all these folks, which amazes me. Uh, because you [laughter] look at some of his books, and it’s just like “wow! there’s just no substance here.” It’s just rattle rattle rattle rattle, and quote John Henry Cardinal Newman and that’s the end of the subject. And there’s no meaningful argumentation going on at all.

Where do you draw the line, because eventually, I have to trust that the people who are reading these things, and are concerned about these things can eventually go, “hey, wait a minute, that wasn’t even a response; that’s not even a meaningful argument,” without my having to hold their hand and show that to them. But, sadly, in a postmodern world, where, for a lot of folks, if you can produce a response, and spell it right, that somehow means something. The view of logic, rationality, the ability to examine argumentation; let’s face it, folks, listen to the political dialogue in our nation! There’s not a whole lot of meaningful discussion going on there! And yet you get people all excited; you know, I could play my Howard Dean .wav here, you know. [laughter] It’s just like, “whoah!” People, people look at this kind of stuff and as long as your mouth is moving, somehow you’re making a point! Instead of going, “you know what? That person didn’t answer that question, either!, that person didn’t answer that question, either,” wow! you know, all the rest of that kind of stuff . . . it is, it is, it’s a daily battle as to how to decide what you respond to and what you don’t.

Well, on a much higher level; on a much much much higher level; uh, on a, on an extremely much higherly [sic] level [derisive laughter], . . . (webcast of 4-20-04)

Mr. Armstrong has provided a reading list on his blog. In essence, this means that instead of blaming ignorance for his very shallow misrepresentations of non-Catholic theology and exegesis, we must now assert knowing deception. (12-31-04)

Quite honestly, I just don’t see that he follows an argument really well. . . . A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. This is a self-published book, alright? [At first it was, but it was published by Sophia Institute Press in June 2003: a year and seven months before this screed by Bishop White] There’s no editor in the sense of a Bethany House or something involved with this particular book [really? That would be big news to Todd Aglialoro: currently editor for Catholic Answers] . . . . The man does not know how to do exegesis. It’s a fact. I went through it and demonstrated that. But that book really didn’t have a lot of distribution. [That would be news to Sophia, and is a curious comment, since the book was a bestseller in its field] Well now he’s put one out with Sophia Institute Press. [Yeah, my second one!] Now that’s an actual publisher. And so that means it’s gonna get actual distribution [my 2nd of three bestsellers for them!] . . . so it would be useful to a wider audience to go ahead and respond to some of the arguments that are presented in the book, The Catholic Verses, . . . there is a consistent pattern of eisegetical misunderstanding, and an inability to deal with the text . . . basically, Mr. Armstrong melted down . . . it does not seem that anyone knows what ad hominem argumentation is . . . the reason that Dave Armstrong is doing this is pretty much the same reason that Dave Hunt won’t debate me. He can’t. He can’t . . . the facts are not on Dave Armstrong’s side. He can’t respond! . . . Dave Armstrong has gone into hiding . . . because he can’t respond anymore . . . . . . If you don’t read what the other side is saying, you can’t call yourself an apologist, can you? . . . if it’s right there, and you are writing on the subject of sola Scriptura or against sola Scriptura, and two pages prior to something you do cite, a hole is blown right through your argument, facts are presented that are completely contrary to your own position, and you hide that; you say nothing about it, that’s not honest! That’s not apologetics! I don’t have any respect for that, and I’m gonna point it out! You’re misusing your audience when you do that. Aren’t you? . . . I would rather have had 20 verses that confound Protestants, and had serious arguments presented, than 95 fluffy pieces; 95 fluffy passages. Most of the time, these passages are cited, and there’s no exegesis offered. It’s just, “well here’s what the text says, and my Catholic tradition says this, and therefore we move on from there.” That’s not meaningful argumentation . . . if you’ve been in a serious, Bible-oriented, Bible-preaching church for the past ten years, you should be able to refute clearly and exegetically, at least 90 of these 95 . . . the argumentation is so basic and so clearly fallacious . . . clear, obvious, logical errors . . . Armstrong could throw his hands up in the air and say, “look, I’m not a scholar; I have no scholarly training. [I guess that is why I wrote in the Intro. of this very book (p. xiii): “This is not a scholarly work, as I am no scholar in the first place . . .”] . . . . . . your refutation is actually based upon your own ignorance; you didn’t understand what they were saying . . . . . . If Mr. Armstrong can’t defend his material, then so much the worse for Mr. Armstrong. Maybe he will move on to doing something else. Maybe he’ll recognize this isn’t something he should be doing. Maybe he’ll think twice before putting himself in that situation again. . . . No one has even tried to document that I have misrepresented Dave Armstrong. They can’t. (webcast of 1-4-05)

[I]t truly amazes me that someone who utterly lacks the tools to do the work he claims to do with such expertise continues to be dragged along by the rest of his compatriots. Just another example of “as long as it is in the service of Mother Church, it is all good.” (4-5-05)

Now, moonbat is an interesting phrase. It is generally used to describe the wacko left, but it strikes me as being particularly descriptive of wackos in general, unhinged folks who have no self-control and are utterly controlled by their angry emotions. Most religions have their moonbats. Rome surely does. Off the top of my head, we can list . . . Dave “the Stalker” Armstrong . . . (5-4-07)

Steve Ray and Dave Armstrong, . . . those Roman Catholic apologists who really are not serious about truth but do what they do for less-than-noble reasons, . . . (7-31-08)

The little yip yip yip yip yip dog? That’s Dave Armstrong, because he never does anything original on his own. He always borrows from somebody else. . . . . . . try doing it truthfully. Try presenting both sides; maybe try listening to both sides sometime. You’re not gonna get that kind of example following Dave Armstrong and Jerusalem Jones [Steve Ray], but I call you to a higher standard. (webcast, 7-31-08)

Serious readers in the field realize that while Dave may stumble over a thoughtful argument once in a while, it is always to be found somewhere else. He simply does not produce original argumentation of any kind, and clearly does not understand the responses that have been offered to him over and over again. (1-6-10)

Dave Armstrong is not a Roman Catholic scholar. He trolls the Internet and cobbles stuff together. Worst of the worst. (Twitter, 5-17-12)

Dave Armstrong is not a serious or thoughtful or reflective or studied Roman apologist or writer. Period. (Twitter, 5-17-12)

Dave Armstrong has never had a fresh insight on a theological and doctrinal topic. Period. (Twitter, 5-18-12)

[the hilarious thing about that is that he was replying to Dan Pritchett, who is is Executive Vice President at FaithLife / Logos Bible Software, which publishes eleven of my books!]

— The Right Reverend Bishop “Dr.” [???] James White [anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist Apologist, Elder, Author, famous debater, with a supposed PhD, etc., etc.]

Ah, what can one say about the inimitable Bishop White? He has wasted more ink in lying about me since our first postal debate in 1995 (where he was so defeated that he split before the end and has never attempted a serious debate with me since), than any man alive. None of it has had the slightest effect, anymore than it had the slightest truth contained in it (not that this would ever stop him from doing it). He brags endlessly about his skill in oral debates and how every Catholic on the face of the earth is supposedly scared to death of him. Well, I don’t do oral debates, but I did one spontaneous “live chat” with him in his chat room, with no notes (making patristic references off the top of my head), and I thought I did fine (you be the judge).  I have compiled a book of my written “debates with” (er, more like my refutations of) him and have a lengthy web page devoted to His Eminence as well.

Thanks for the memories and laughs, James!
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Please pray for all these poor souls, as I do (and am commanded to do in Scripture). I can only pity persons who have to lie like this about a brother in Christ: even a fellow Catholic, in several cases. I had fun with this (as Erasmus did with Luther’s endless insults; what else can one do with this sort of rotgut?), but at bottom it is a wicked thing and a very serious spiritual problem: to bear false witness against a fellow Christian (or, fellow human being, in the case of atheists and agnostics).
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May we all be prevented by the Holy Spirit from ever entering this despicable territory. Thus I end what was originally a humorous post — poking fun at the stupidity and sheer ludicrosity of such insults — on a very serious note indeed. Sins may be funny and laughable in their folly and silliness, but they are not in the least bit funny in their effects on the soul of the person who is committing them and failing to repent.
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Photo credit: James White: posted on 14 May 2020 on Twitter [source]

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February 13, 2021

I recently observed:

Our beloved atheist critics are constantly informing us lowly, ignorant Christians that atheism itself is, alas, not a formulated position, but only the absence of a position (belief in God). It’s not a worldview, etc. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that. It’s not true, but we hear it all the time. (2-2-21)

Lo and behold, on the very next day, Dr. Richard C. Miller, put up on the notorious Debunking Christianity website (which just banned me again for merely noting that I had refuted one of the big shots there: Dr. David Madison, 44 times, with no reply back) the article, The “Atheist” Misnomer. We shall examine his arguments. His words will be in blue.

Atheist. Let us problematize the term just for a moment, shall we? In classical Greek etymology, the alpha prefix denoted sheer negation, precisely equivalent to the Latin “non.” “Theos,” of course, meant “deity” or “god,” and the Greek suffix “-ismos” became applied in Latin and, as such, pulled up into early English, conveying “adherence toward” or “belief in.” So, an atheist is one who is not a theist, that is, one who does not hold a belief in the existence of any deity.

No one doubts that that is the literal meaning of the word. It doesn’t follow, however, that the atheist believes nothing in a positive sense, or that he or she possesses no worldview or sets of beliefs. They certainly do (as virtually all sentient human beings do, whether they acknowledge it or not). Someone wisely said: “the most dangerous philosophy is the unacknowledged one.”

We often find in the false rhetoric of Christian apologists and of Christian pseudo-intellectuals the claim that atheism is itself a belief.

Technically, “non-belief in God” is not a belief, but a rejection of another; I (and we) agree. However (and it’s a huge “however”), atheists do highly tend to hold to certain beliefs, whether they will acknowledge them or not. And these beliefs do in fact add up to a particular worldview held by the vast majority of atheists. Briefly put, most of them are philosophical materialists, empiricists, positivists, methodological naturalists, enraptured with science as supposedly the sole valid epistemology: making it essentially their religion (“scientism”): all of which are objectively identifiable positions, that can be discussed and either embraced or dismissed.

So it’s not so much that we are saying that there is an “atheist worldview” per se. Rather, we make the observation (from long personal experience, if one is an apologist like myself) that every self-described “atheist” will overwhelmingly tend to possess a particular worldview (whatever they call it or don’t call it) that is an amalgam of many specific, identifiable things that themselves are worldviews or philosophies or ways of life.

Whatever one thinks of the above analysis, it remains the case that atheists call themselves atheists, and that it is highly likely that they will hold to one or more the (usually clustered) belief-systems outlined above. And they will often be blind to the fact that they are doing so, and will talk in terms of their simply following “science” and/or “reason” (with the implication that the non-atheist usually does not do either or is fundamentally irrational or “naive” or “gullible” simply because they reject atheism). Dr. Miller reflects this annoying and condescending attitude as well, when he writes:

We may as well call ourselves the adrogonists or the alephrechaunists, inasmuch as the very identity “atheist” tacitly legitimates the patently ridiculous, as though a genuine rational debate exists between two opposing sides. To carry on with non-belief in fairies, leprechauns, ghouls, gods, angels, genies, or phantoms is merely to be reasonable, not to stake a position in any legitimate debate to be waged in society. The moon is not made of green cheese, and the dismissal of such a “Mother-Goose” characterization of reality does not earn one the tag “a-green-cheese-moonist,” but merely one who is “reasonable.” 

For, belief in mythology is and always has been a conscious, willful indulgence, not a compelling, evidence-driven conclusion; the latter we instead properly term “knowledge.” So, when it comes to the matter of deities, in a more honest world we “atheists” instead would be known merely as the reasonable (in the most literal sense of the term), that is, those compelled by a mental construction of reality determined rather exclusively by evidence and reason.

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I cannot count how many times and contexts I have come across this ridiculous claim, a claim akin to smokers alleging that non-smokers are also themselves smokers.. Ummm.. huh? No. By very fundamental definition, atheism entails no belief. Indeed, the term affirms nothing other than the negation. By comparison, in the phrase “The man is not a bingo player,” we affirm nothing about the man, except what he is not!

Again, the word does this, but I’m not discussing a mere word; I’m talking about what atheists do in fact believe, and asserting that atheists hold to beliefs and belief-systems (usually quite predictable ones at that). In other words: atheists are just as likely to hold worldviews as anyone else.

In like fashion, the appellation “atheist” stamped upon us has served as a rhetorical misnomer, the binary recessive determined by exclusion vis-a-vis the dominant group, to follow the parlance of Jacques Derrida. Where else do people play such a game with language? Atheism is a non-group, a namespace only by negation.

This is downright comical; as if atheists don’t massively choose to call themselves this name? They could reject it if they like. They’re free to do so. No one is forcing them at gunpoint to use this name for themselves. They could use “agnostic” (and many do, but it is a less certain and less dogmatic outlook), or they could use a word like “humanist” (which a number of them also do). But the fact remains that lots and lots of atheists show no reversion to the term atheist. Quite the contrary, they proudly embrace it.

For heaven’s sake, on the very website where this essay was published, if one looks at the top, we see John Loftus’ books in a photograph: one of which is Why I Became an Atheist (which I have critiqued ten times: with total silence back from Jittery John: he of explosive disposition on the few occasions where we actually interacted).

One can peruse book titles with “atheism” in them at Amazon. The late Christopher Hitchens (a very famous and influential atheist indeed) edited a book entitled, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. Loudmouthed anti-theist atheist Dan Barker authored the modestly titled volume, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists. I could note a guy like “DagoodS” whom I have met in person and have debated many times. He used to be very active also at Debunking Christianity. He exhibits no aversion to the term “atheist” at all, and write a post there called “Why is an atheist an atheist?” (1-11-07), in which he opined:

But ask an atheist why they are an atheist, and most times the person is so ready to respond to why the atheist is incorrect in her reply; they literally cannot wait for the poor person to stop talking. . . .

But get into this field, and I have people everywhere almost giddy with the joy of informing me why I am an atheist, regardless of what I say. Yes, sirree! . . .

You want to know why an atheist is an atheist. Ask him. . . .

See, people become atheists for as many and varied reasons as people do just about anything else. Yes, some do because of an emotional reaction. Some are born in atheist homes.

One could easily go on and on, with scores of further examples, but it quickly becomes ridiculous and an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

In conclusion, here are some of the many things that atheists en masse believe:

1) that matter exists.
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2) that he or she exists.
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3) that matter can be observed according to more or less predictable scientific laws (uniformitarianism).
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4) that we can trust our senses to analyze such observations and what they mean (empiricism).
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5) in the correctness of mathematics, which starts from axioms as well.
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6) in the laws of logic, in order to even communicate (not to mention argue) anything with any meaning at all.
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7) in presupposing that certain things are absolutely true.
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8) that matter has the inherent “God-like” / in effect “omnipotent” capability of organizing itself, evolving, inexorably developing into all that we observe in the entire universe. There is no God or even any sort of immaterial spirit that did or could do this, so it has to fall back onto matter. The belief in this without any reason whatsoever to do so is what I have written at length about as the de facto religion of “atomism.”
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9) that the universe began in a Big Bang (for who knows what reason).
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10) that the universe created itself out of nothing (for who knows what reason), but it’s deemed more rational than the Christian believing that God is an eternal spirit, Who created the universe.

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11) that science is the only method by which we can objectively determine facts and truth (extreme empiricism + scientism).
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I’m sure I could come up with many more things if I sat and thought about it a while, but this is more than sufficient to demonstrate my point: atheists (as people) have worldviews, even though the word atheism itself merely means “rejecting a belief in God.”

And that’s what we lowly, despised apologists are saying. If it’s disagreed with, then I’m more than happy to interact and defend this paper. Have at it!

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Photo credit: geralt  (1-23-21) [PixabayPixabay License]
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