Hector Avalos to Debate a Young-Earth Creationist

Hector Avalos to Debate a Young-Earth Creationist February 12, 2014

If you haven’t had your fill of debates about creationism, Hector Avalos (a scholar of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament who happens to be an atheist) will be debating someone named Juan Valdez on the topic “Is Genesis 1-3 a scientifically reasonable account of the origin of our world?” The debate will take place on February 16th, and you can watch it here (the countdown has begun). It will be interesting to see how this debate, which is not between people claiming to be scientists, unfolds differently than the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye.

"While there are inevitably differences between what Phillip K. Dick espoused and ancient Valentinianism, he ..."

"According to a biblical numerology article online the number 153 equals the number of all ..."

153 Fish – The Definitive Explanation
"Bob please get a copy of the book “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr. Caroline ..."

153 Fish – The Definitive Explanation

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • histrogeek

    Juan Valdez? Seriously?
    For once I feel sorry for the creationist. It’s really not his fault that the Colombian Coffee Growers picked his name as their avatar/stereotype.

    • Gary

      But he is like Jesus. Both rode on a donkey.

      • histrogeek

        And both separate the good from the bad.

        • But he isn’t blue eyed and nordic-looking, so an American audience wouldn’t notice the similarities.

  • Just Sayin’

    I think we should have McGrath vs. Gantt next!

    • Mike Gantt has bid goodbye to James’ blog. At about the same time he bid goodbye to Peter Enns blog, and later to Tyler Franke’s blog

      • Just Sayin’

        I didn’t know that; thanks for the info.

        • I have edited my comment in retrospect, but for the record I confess to rudeness. Mike is not here to defend himself, so I was being a jerk to cast dispersions on his arguments in his absence.

          Shame on me.

  • Sean Garrigan

    Now there’s a debate in which I have zero interest.

  • Are we not ready to put this stuff to rest? Good Lord. I guess it will always sell as it has since Scopes. If it sells, it will stay in the news.

  • arcseconds

    Somehow I missed this the first time around, discovered it in this post.

    My reaction is broadly the same as to the Nye debate: Avalos did quite well, I think better than Valdes (although it’s hard for me to be objective about this) but could have done better.

    He’s got an awesome argument: Genesis literally describes God creating from water, and describes a solid sky. That’s what Avalos has that scientists, including Nye, do not. He also made the excellent point that even if God exists and created the universe, it does not at all mean that Genesis is a scientific account of that. Valdes isn’t committed to some kind of generic creationism, but to 6-day, ‘literalist’, young-earth Creationism.

    But I felt he allowed himself to get sidetracked into side-issues. He should have continually emphasized the above points, I reckon, that’s not to say that side-issues can’t be addressed too, but keep returning to that.

    And Valdes actually practically concedes the entire debate about 6 minutes from the end, where he announces quite happily to an audience question about proving God’s existence scientifically as the creator of the universe, that God’s existence can’t be proven scientifically. Avalos could have made something of that (‘so you admit you’re appealing to a scientifically unknowable entity to explain the existence of the earth? But it is the actions of this being that Genesis describes. Thanks for conceding the debate!’) but he doesn’t, preferring instead to run an opaque theological argument that the existence of the Universe proves that a perfect God can’t exist, as a perfect being lacks nothing and therefore would create nothing. That might get some atheist heads nodding, but no theist (YEC or otherwise) or fence-sitter is going to be impressed by this, and it seems besides the point.

    Valdes follows up immediately with the appeal to incredulity which he makes time and time again throughout the piece, which Avalos just failed to respond to. He could respond substantively (‘really?!’ isn’t an argument, and there are lots of things in science that provoke this kind of response), but he could also go back to his initial point: even on the assumption that life does require an intelligent origin, it doesn’t prove 6-day creationism, there are clearly lots of other options, including old-earth theistic evolution.

    Another point that Avalos makes that I think is an excellent line of argument, but should have been made more of, was the way creationists continually misrepresent the science. A couple of small points along these lines: when Valdes says the cambrian explosion proves the Genesis account, the response should be ‘you don’t believe in the cambrian explosion. So how can it count for evidence for your view?’, and when Valdes says ‘so now we’re hearing that iron can preserve organic material! what next?’ the answer should be ‘yes! that’s how science works: you continually adapt your theory to fit new evidence as it comes along.’.

    Also, the observational science versus ‘stories’ thing was bound to come up, so I was disappointed that Avalos didn’t have something prepared for this. The transitional forms thing was also predictable, and an audience member put it particularly crudely, they wanted an example of a frog turning into a bird. It’s pretty clear that they have a big misconception around how evolution is supposed to work. Avalos did mention that it’s also a problem for creationists with their super-speed evolution, which is a good point, but there was an opportunity to teach the science here.

    He was also challenged on the origin of ethics. Again, this was predictable, and what he really should have said here was to separate out this question from the question of the scientific virtues of Genesis: if it turns out a God is required for ethics, it doesn’t at all show that They created the world six millenia ago in six days. Also, while I wasn’t expecting a brilliant piece of metaethics from Avalos, saying it’s all just evolved won’t win any hearts and clearly isn’t true: at minimum our ethical behaviour is a cultural achievement, built no doubt on inclinations that are evolutionary in origin, but it isn’t just those inclinations playing themselves out.

    Overall, I think Avalos got too drawn in to defending his brand of atheism versus Valdes’s brand of theism. That’s conceding far too much ground to the creationist: they want it to be a clash of worldviews, because it helps support their framing argument that it’s about the presuppositions you bring to the matter, and it also helps with the all-or-nothing deal they offer. Best to just stick to the fact it’s bad science and bad Biblical interpretation: that’s all that’s necessary to win the debate in front of you, and is more likely to win hearts and minds too.

  • John MacDonald

    Just a heads-up for anyone who is interested: Dr. Hector Avalos, along with Dr. Kenneth Atkinson and Dr. Robert R. Cargill have published a “Statement from Bible Scholars in Opposition to Bill That Adds ‘Bible literacy’ Class to Iowa Public Schools” over on the “Bible and Interpretation” web site. Dr. Avalos and I have been having an engaging discussion in the comment section of the post. Check it out! See http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2018/01/ava428023.shtml

    • Gary

      A respectful debate, which I respect.
      However, I have to laugh silently at this.

      A section of Dr. Avalos’ comments:

      “There is also little or no oversight. Teachers with conservative religious opinions will be able to say what they wish without much of a challenge from grade school childen who will not know enough to challenge teachers…

      Our complaint is that there are no safeguards to ensure that indoctrination is eliminated. There are really no peer review processes to monitor teachers who wish to indoctrinate students….

      These legislators know that any safeguards will be met with a wink and nod by anti-science and religionist administrators, especially in smaller communities.”

      Realistically, there is no true oversight over any teachers, liberal or conservative.


      At some point, people have to just do their job, and live with trusting teachers, left or right. And if you are a PhD in Bible Studies, you have no more pull on the subject than the parents of the students in the school district.

      • Gary

        If someone doesn’t like Iowa, try living in California.

      • John MacDonald

        Being an elementary school teacher who has taught grades 2-8, as well as first year University seminars, there is an enormous amount of accountability – to students, parents, the principal, your grade team, Standardized Tests, etc. It’s been my experience that that teachers who have more of a multicultural makeup of students tend to be less uncritical when sharing their personal belief system with the class.

        • Gary

          Agreed. Although oversight exists in the parents going to school board meeting. They pull the strings, whether conservative, liberal, or middle of the road.

          • John MacDonald

            One of Avalos’ more offensive comments was “In areas where creationists dominate a school district, I am not sure that standards are that meaningful.” This is ridiculous. Whether liberal or conservative, teachers are still professionals. In cases where personal beliefs conflict with delivering content (such as teaching creationism in science class), what is needed is Professional Development. Teachers may simply be unaware that what they are doing is detrimental to student learning, and the overwhelming majority of teachers would not teach creationism in science class if their “Standards of Practice” document forbid them to do so.

      • John MacDonald

        My concluding thoughts on my debate with Dr. Avalos (which have been submitted to the Bible and Interpretation website but haven’t been published yet) were something like:

        (1) The science curriculum documents should be updated to reflect the fact that Evolution should be taught instead of Creationism. Of course, Creationism can still be taught regarding The Philosophy of Religion (e.g., the cosmological argument), The History of Science, and for cross-curricular reasons. The school board Science teams for the various districts should send an update memo to the individual schools to inform the teachers.

        (2) As to the position of Avalos, Atkinson and Cargill that, regarding their proposal to reject the bill that adds ‘Bible literacy’ class to Iowa Public Schools, my position is that not only should the bill to promote Biblical Literacy be accepted, it should be expanded to include in depth studies of all the world’s religions (including the worldviews of secular children), to promote Faith/Worldview literacy, multiculturalism, and inclusiveness.

        • Gary

          As I remember, even California has bible literacy taught as electives, but not in a “church” context. I assume the point of the PhD’s is that they don’t trust the politicians, school administrators, and teachers in Iowa.

          My main objection, is their inference that only bible scholars can teach the Bible in the correct context. Won’t be possible to get bible scholars to teach in elementary school through high school. Also, I can see it, if the Phd’s have kids in schools, that are impacted. Otherwise, they come across as trying to tell parents and school administrators, and teachers at the 1st through 12th grade, how to do their jobs. I think they should stick to their jobs. Or, as a private citizen, they should run for their local school board positions. Then it would be their job. But whatever. I don’t have any kids in the school system, so it really doesn’t raise or lower my blood pressure, either way. Just seems like the Phd’s Would have better things to do. I used Ph’ds because I can’t remember how to spell their names, I’m getting so old.

          • John MacDonald

            Hector Avalos also tends toward atheist fringe positions sometimes, like the possibility that Jesus didn’t exist, and the idea that Biblical Studies should end.

          • John MacDonald

            For instance, Avalos writes “Earl Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle outlines a plausible theory for a completely mythical Jesus.” See https://vridar.org/2010/05/27/how-and-why-scholars-fail-to-rebut-earl-doherty/

          • Gary

            I didn’t realize that…
            Looking at his book, the ad says,
            “In this radical critique of his own academic specialty, biblical scholar Hector Avalos calls for an end to biblical studies. He outlines two main arguments for this surprising conclusion. First, academic biblical scholarship has clearly succeeded in showing that the ancient civilization that produced the Bible held beliefs about the origin, nature, and purpose of the world and humanity that are fundamentally opposed to the views of modern society.”

            Oh my!
            I think he should include that quote along with his petition 🙂
            Ought to get about three other people in Iowa to sign it. And that’s about it.

            Kind of like Germany deleting anything to do with Nazi’s. I guess history shouldn’t be studied either, since mankind throughout history was kind of a pain in the ass to nature, world, and mankind. I think the problem is mankind, not religion.

          • John MacDonald

            Of course, to be fair to Dr. Avalos, I entertain the secular fringe/conspiracy theory that the reports of visions of the risen Jesus in the pre Pauline Corinthian creed may not have reflected the fact that Cephas et al had actually seen a ghost, or that 12 people were hallucinating (and it may be too early to just be legendary development), but rather that the reports of the risen Jesus were simply noble lies to lend divine clout to Jesus’ ethical message of love of God and neighbor: “See, God so approved of Jesus’ message that he raised him from the dead! – so you better get on the winning team because the world is about to end !” See my blog post and reader comments here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.com/2017/10/ “Conspircay” just means that people don’t want made public the actual reasons for something, which happens all the time, such as with Santa Clause, lol.

            I’m actually having an interesting discussion with Dr. Amy-Jill Levine about this over Email (I initially contacted her because I found a typo in the second edition of “The Jewish Annotated New Testament,” which she is co-editor of along with Dr. Mark Brettler – and the 80 scholars who contributed to the book).

            I guess we all have our special little crazies!, lol.

          • Gary

            I prefer to think of Paul as seeing an exploding comet or asteroid, and combining that with his extreme personal guilt over persecuting his own Jewish brothers, who leaned toward Jesus mania 🙂
            I tend to not want to lump Paul into the same basket as Joseph Smith. You can lie for sex, money, and power. But I can’t see Paul lying for no sex, no money, and no power. Just to be noble? I can’t see Paul singing, “If I were a rich man, da da da da da da da…”

            If it wasn’t for the fringe, we’d have nothing to talk about.

          • Gary

            Think of Paul singing this:

          • John MacDonald

            Actually, I think of Paul singing this, lol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-zEtAuKuUY

          • John MacDonald

            Paul was certainly proud of his ability to be deceptive, and that he would change his message depending on whether he was trying to “sell” his message to Jews or Greeks. Paul wrote:

            (1) “But be it so, I did not myself burden you; but, being crafty, I caught you with trickery. (2 Corinthians 12:16)”

            (2) “To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law. 21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law (1 Cor 9:20-21).”

            Gary wrote “I tend to not want to lump Paul into the same basket as Joseph Smith. You can lie for sex, money, and power. But I can’t see Paul lying for no sex, no money, and no power. Just to be noble?.”

            Actually, lying for noble reasons was well known in antiquity. The idea of the “Noble Lie” was well attested to in History generally. The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy provides a helpful brief explanation of the Noble Lie in Plato’s Republic. We read:

            “For Plato we should live according to what reason is able to deduce from what we regard as reliable evidence. This is what real philosophers, like Socrates, do. But the non-philosophers are reluctant to ground their lives on logic and arguments. They have to be persuaded. One means of persuasion is myth. Myth inculcates beliefs. It is efficient in making the less philosophically inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble things. In the Republic the Noble Lie is supposed to make the citizens of Callipolis care more for their city. Schofield (2009) argues that, for instance, the guards, having to do philosophy from their youth, may eventually find philosophizing ‘more attractive than doing their patriotic duty’ (115). Philosophy, claims Schofield, provides the guards with knowledge, not with love and devotion for their city. The Noble Lie is supposed to engender in them devotion for their city and instill in them the belief that they should ‘invest their best energies into promoting what they judge to be the city’s best interests’ (113). The preambles to a number of laws in the Laws that are meant to be taken as exhortations to the laws in question and that contain elements of traditional mythology (see 790c3, 812a2, 841c6) may also be taken as ‘noble lies’.”

            Similarly, in Euripides’ “Bacchae,” Cadmus says “Even if this man (Dionysus) be no God, as you think, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race.” People have long suspected that Euripides’ Bacchae influenced the New Testament. An interesting recent book in support of this framework is “The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides (2017)” by Dr. Dennis R MacDonald. This book, while not picking up the noble lie theme, meticulously maps out the literary relationship between Euripides’ Dionysus and Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (other books by Dr. Dennis MacDonald explore the imitation of Euripides’ Bacchae by the Book of Acts).

            The charlatan Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon from golden plates from heaven that he found. But it gets worse. Smith produced witnesses who described the plates as weighing from 30 to 60 pounds (14 to 27 kg), being golden in color and being composed of thin metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with three D-shaped rings. So there would be historical analogy for Jesus and the apostles being charlatans.

            But what of the Christians dying for their beliefs? Would they die for a lie? I think the thing to focus on is not “dying for a lie.” The lie is merely the vehicle. The point would be, through lying about the resurrection appearances, lending divine clout to Jesus’ message of loving God and neighbor. All the first Christians needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for.

            Or maybe the Corinthian creed originated because there were 12 separate hallucinations. Or maybe the group did indeed encounter the risen Jesus. Maybe it was just legend accumulating over time (although, as I said, many scholars feel the Corinthian creed is too early to be legend). Who knows, lol? We certainly know there was justified lying in early Christianity, as Bart Ehrman demonstrated in his two books on forgery. Clearly the forgers believed God wanted them to lie (as per 1 Kings 22:21-22), for otherwise why would they have forged?

            And justified lying is clearly part of the Judeo-Christian tradition:

            1. God rewarded the Egyptian midwives for lying to the Pharaoh. (Exodus 1:18-20)
            2. Rahab was “justified” when she lied about Joshua’s spies. (Joshua 2:4-6); (James 2:25)
            3. David lied to Ahimelech when he said he was on the king’s business. (He was King Saul’s enemy at the time.) We know that God approved of this lie, since 1 Kings 15:5 says that God approved of everything David did, with the single exception of the matter of Uriah. (1 Samuel 21:2)
            4. Elisha told King Benhadad that he would recover, even though God told Elisha that the king would die. ( 2 Kings 8:8-10)
            5. In the Deuterocanonical book of Tobit, the angel Raphael lied to Tobias, saying “I am Azarias.” (Tobit 5:16-18)
            6. Jesus lied when he told his family that he wasn’t going to the feast, but later went “in secret.” (John 7:8-10)
            7. Even God lies by putting lying spirits in the mouths of his prophets. (1 Kings 22:21-22)

          • Gary

            I guess what I was getting at is –
            What was Paul’s motivation?
            Joseph Smith -1. power (made himself General, ran for president). 2. Sex (obvious). 3. Money – (any established church has money flowing to the leader).

            Paul had none of this. To be noble, to reinforce an apocalyptic preacher’s message, just for the sake of being a good guy – when we know Paul wasn’t a good guy. Based upon a mysterious vision? That changed his whole philosophy. I don’t get it. If Paul told a noble lie, why? To make the world a better place? Why, when you know the current world sucks, and you expect the world to end.

          • John MacDonald

            Paul wanted to prepare people for the end of the age and the coming Kingdom of God on earth. Paul wrote “The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14).'” So maybe Paul believed that professing the risen Christ would lend his message divine clout to convince and prepare more people about how God wanted them to act in those last days. It’s also possible Paul was just making up the idea that he thought the resurrected Jesus was the first fruits of the general resurrection at the end of days, and Paul wasn’t actually apocalyptic, but just believed the apocalyptic message would be a good technique to get people behaving in a more loving way to one another – and hence creating a better world: “The current Age is about to end, so you better join the winning team and start loving one another!”

            The Jesus movement was all about winning converts. This was their “motivation” you were asking about. They thought this was the way to create a better society. From beginning to end, the purpose of the movement was to sell the new religion to the world:

            (A) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

            (B) The Great Commission
            16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

            (C) Sending out Emissaries
            Dr. Robert M. Price points out that: “Just as Moses had chosen twelve spies to reconnoiter the land which stretched “before your face,” sending them through the cities of the land of Canaan, so does Jesus send a second group, after the twelve, a group of seventy, whose number symbolizes the nations of the earth who are to be “conquered,” so to speak, with the gospel in the Acts of the Apostles. He sends them out “before his face” to every city he plans to visit (in Canaan, too, obviously).”

            (D) For Paul, Paul was selling the story that Jesus resurrection is understood as the “first fruits” of the general resurrection, and so this might have been a selling point for the new religion: “The end of the world is at hand, so you better join the winning team.”

            Christianity was all about winning converts and spreading the word, so it is no surprise that they succeeded doing just that. In any case, prior to that, you can perhaps picture Jesus and his followers running around the ancient world threatening and scaring people with the lie that “The World You Knew Is About To End, so you better get right with God and start loving one another, because the kingdom approaches!” A healthy dose of made-up miracle stories and a resurrection story would have helped to sell the ethical message of loving one another, especially decades after Jesus was gone and it became apparent that the world wasn’t ending any time soon.

            Dr. McGrath makes the point that: “Jesus, like other famous figures, became more miraculous in the eyes and perception of others over time, including after his death as stories continued to be created, embellished, and exaggerated.” This is absolutely true. However, on the other hand, some say that the miracle story about the resurrection, as described in the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed (1 Cor 15), is perhaps too early to be the result of “legendary development.” It is a possibility that it was a lie. Cephas and the twelve fled to Galilee after Jesus’ arrest (possibly explaining why Paul has no narrative details of the crucifixion like we find in Mark), and you can perhaps still picture them, devastated by the loss of their beloved Master Jesus, inventing Jesus resurrection appearance stories in hopes of carrying on, and lending divine authority to, Jesus’ ethical mandate of loving your neighbor and enemy – a cause that could create a better and just society, one that they may been willing to die for.

          • Gary

            “Paul wanted to prepare people for the end of the age and the coming Kingdom of God on earth.“…

            Maybe so. But, just a short answer, don’t you think it unusual that a guy the kills proto-Christians one day, wants to prepare them for a coming Kingdom a day later? Kind of like Hitler becomes Mother Teresa? From executioner, to noble-lie-teller, all for the betterment of his fellow man? Kind of hard to believe. Unless Paul had a split personality.

            Maybe I stumbled upon the answer. Split personality Saul/Paul/Gnostic Paul. Giving mixed messages as he slipped into each personality 🙂

          • John MacDonald

            Paul could have been torturing one of the inner circle of first Christians and found out it was all a lie, thought about how devoted to Jesus the run of the mill Christians were, and decided it would be a good way to bring about a better society. On the other hand, the Corinthian Creed is pre Pauline, so the original twelve could have been making things up, and Paul’s conversion experience was genuine.

            Anyway, it’s okay you don’t find this persuasive, lol. Shopping the idea around the internet, I do at least have supporters among mythicists like Carrier, Fitzgerald, Lataster, and Covington (God help me, lol).

          • Gary

            I guess we just have to disagree.
            “a good way to bring about a better society” doesn’t fit Saul, killer.
            “Paul’s conversion experience was genuine”… certainly this would turn a bad guy into a good guy. “Genuine”, being genuine to Paul. Maybe not a real “vision”, but something that flat out scared the hell out of him – literally. Like something he never saw before. I prefer to think an exploding comet, until I hear something better. That might turn Paul into an itinerant monk.

          • John MacDonald

            Saul certainly didn’t view himself as as “killer,” but as a pious Jew helping out his society by persecuting Christians.

          • Gary

            He viewed himself a killer, after his conversion.

          • John MacDonald

            It’s odd that you think it so reasonable that Paul could switch sides to faith in a risen Jesus, but not that Paul could switch sides to faith in the lie of a risen Jesus as a social engineering tool.

          • Gary

            As I said before, motivation.

            To use your words, (mine in parens)
            “It’s odd that you think it so reasonable that Paul could switch sides to faith in a risen Jesus (a lie – but it scared the crap out of him, so he did indeed believe the lie), but not that Paul could switch sides to faith in the lie (which he knew was a lie) of a risen Jesus as a social engineering tool (because if he was such a beneficial social engineer, he would not have been killing people before his conversion).”

          • John MacDonald

            Before his switching of sides, as I said, I’m sure Saul believed he was doing a service for his faith and his society

          • Gary

            So did Hitler.

          • John MacDonald

            Paul’s conversion story is suspicious, to say the least. What people don’t realize is that, if true, it would undermine the whole point of Jesus’ mission. If all it took was a vision, why waste time with a 3-yr mentoring process?”

          • Gary

            And the whole point of Jesus and Paul’s mission, getting ready for the end of the world as we know it, and getting ready for the Kingdom of God, didn’t happen.

            Of course, after the resurrection, maybe Jesus realized that the Cliff Notes version of conversion (ghost/vision), was a hell of a lot easier than spending 33 years, and suffering a crucifixion, to get an efficient assistant to spread his message. At least, until, the Internet was invented.

          • John MacDonald


          • John MacDonald

            Socrates lived his entire life trying to make a better society, and then chose a noble death by unjust persecutors even though he could have easily escaped his fate, because he knew what a tremendous effect his unjust execution could have on others: “Crito, we ought to offer a rooster to Asclepius. See to it, and don’t forget.”

          • Gary

            I don’t know that much about Socrates, but I bet he didn’t go around killing people that didn’t agree with his current belief system (as Saul did).

          • John MacDonald

            Saul’s actions may seem repulsive to us now, but it is clear that what Saul was doing in persecuting the Christians fit in with at least some strands of Judaism which were present at the time, and so meant Saul thought he was doing a societal and religious service.

          • Gary

            I think I’ve got to give this a rest. My fingers are getting tired.

          • John MacDonald

            Agreed. Thanks for chatting!

          • Gary

            And remember, Paul may have established churches at various locations. But he never stayed at one site long enough to call it his own church. So he didn’t do it for fellowship. He was always on the road. Usually with only one other guy. So he didn’t even use the “Jesus model”, with a following of 12 other guys as disciples, with a cadre of rich women trailing behind him, where ever he went. So Paul was a strange duck.
            No money. No women. No buddies. Like an itinerant monk.

          • John MacDonald

            Sure, Paul laid and planted the acorn of a better society, and then went on his way to further his mission – leaving the acorn to mature into a mighty oak on its own.

          • Gary

            I actually think you might be more religious than me.

          • John MacDonald

            I’m arguing that the original Christians might have been liars. I’m the most secular person who ever lived!, lol. Except maybe for Nietzsche, he was the first one who said “”Paul simply shifted the centre of gravity of that whole life to a place behind this existence in the LIE of the ‘risen’ Jesus (Nietzsche, Anti Christ, Chapter 42).” Anyway, social engineering through lies was the cornerstone of Plato’s Republic, which was the most famous book in the ancient world. And lying about Jesus being resurrected wouldn’t mean these men were being un-pious. After all, Hebrew scripture taught God advocated lying in His service: ” And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him … I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him and prevail also; go forth and do so. 1 Kings 22:21-22.” And we know justified lying was definitely in the air for the early Christians, as evidenced by all the forged writings, as Ehrman points out.

          • Gary

            Ok, Ok…I was just kidding.