This Jesus Fellow

Christianity’s god awfully awkward, nightmarish question

JesusIt’s the most overlooked question in the Christian world, the stuff of nightmares for Sunday school teachers across the planet: If Jesus was God, why didn’t he say anything useful?

He didn’t mention bacteria, pasteurization, or the importance of dental hygiene. He didn’t explain lightning, the tides, the sun, our position in the solar system, the galaxy, gravity, the composition of the atmosphere, or dispense the formula for sun block. He didn’t point anyone in the direction of morphine, teach a soul about the nature of asthma, epilepsy, atoms, genetics, subatomic particles, the periodic table, volcanology, the causes of headaches, muscle cramps, prenatal care, plate tectonics, architecture, evolution, or tell a single living being about the science of corrective-optics. He didn’t mention anything about better, faster, safer forms of transportation, communication technology, math, the metric system, a new swimming technique, scuba diving, blast furnaces, magnetic compasses, quartz watches, wind turbines, the wonders of reinforced concrete, ball bearings, immunization, New Zealand, the physics of flight, thermal dynamics, podiatry, water purification, desalination, stainless steel, umbrellas, telescopes, microscopes, macroeconomics, paper, washing machines, tupperware, bicycles, bras, buttons, refrigeration, or even introduce a single new spice to spruce up otherwise bland Judean recipes.

As an imp branded, raised and schooled in the Catholic Church this simply didn’t add up. Forget for one moment the patently ludicrous stories and fantastically unsavoury life coaching tips rolled up in the Old Testament, the simple fact that the New Testament – the supposed record of God on earth – made no mention of the link between mosquito’s and malaria, radio telescopes, representative democracy, or even electricity was preposterous to my curious little head. In all honesty when I first looked at the story with a mildly studious and independent eye I found it to be an astonishingly selfish tale, especially in light of the world in which this Jesus fellow apparently lived. Flushable toilets, a technology based on gravity alone, would have saved thousands of lives lost to dysentery and cholera in the time of his alleged ministry and tens of millions in the two millennia since.

Granted, Jesus hasn’t been alone in this un-ignorable delinquency. Sages of all religions have all come up woefully short in presenting anything even approaching the useful, let alone the practical. Roll them all together in a single noisy ball of seething religious fervour and you won’t find a solitary constructive word about weather stations, a global language like Esperanto, or even the wonders of vulcanized rubber; a certain showstopper in the age of sandals. Few of these sages however actually claimed to be god so on the face of it they get a pass. Jesus? Not so lucky I’m afraid. Here was the self-proclaimed son of god, the right hand man to the fashioner of atoms, the sculpture of life and nebular, the kickass be-all and end-all Uncreated Creator who couldn’t even present his mother the first earthly egg timer.

It’s a little pathetic. Three year ministry and not a single helpful titbit was offered up by this Middle Eastern demigod as he moved about on his purported sojourn on the earthy plateau; a journey we’re told that was rather oddly limited to about 90km2 on a 508,000,000km2 planet and which somehow miraculously missed all political, philosophical, and scientific hotbeds of the day.  Not to labour the point, but placed side by side in a sort of blind taste off few rationally minded mortals could in fact disagree that there was and still is more useful information contained in the late Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech of 2005, J.K. Rowling’s marvellous 2008 Harvard address, or Bono’s incalculably practical advice discharged to University of Pennsylvania students in 2004 than in all books of the New and Old Testaments combined.

Now there is of course a reason why neither Jesus nor indeed any of the characters in the books of the New or Old Testaments mentioned anything even approaching the moderately functional. It’s the same reason why the authors of the works failed to note that an average sized adult is a composite of some 7, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 flavoured atoms arranged on a 4.54 billion year old planet circling a middle-aged 4th or 5th generation star on its 23rd trip around the centre of a galaxy composed of about 200 billion stars in a 13.7 billion year old universe peppered with hundreds of billions of galaxies glued together in super clusters along expanding tendrils held in-place by the indirectly observed but otherwise still utterly mysterious dark matter. That reason, to put it politely, is that the authors of the Bible and the rather dubious characters contained within were not speaking from a position of observed strength.  To put it not so politely, the Bible is utter nonsense; a regularly and predictably absurd work of fiction which D. L. Foster noted as missing only the words “Once upon a time” and, “Happily ever after.”

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331 thoughts on “Christianity’s god awfully awkward, nightmarish question

    • Agreed, agreed, and agreed. I mean, the “Golden Rule” is nice, but seriously, ask any five year old how people should behave to one-another and inside a minute that kid would pretty much nail the sentiment offered up by this jesus fellow.

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      • Talking about the ‘golden rule’, he is still not an original. Confucius said that many years before the jesus fellow, Buddha was even more original.
        The guy didn’t make any original claim, wrote no books and what we have been told about his is that he was a charlatan at best and must have lived in the underground or why else would he have to be betrayed by Judas and not a single person came in his defense during the trial.

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      • I’d say to that the golden rule is not exactly of heavenly inspired quality either. ‘Do unto others as they would have you do unto them’ would be a significant improvement.

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      • Good twist. The concept though dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

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  1. “It’s the same reason why the authors of the works failed to note that an average sized adult is a composite of some 7, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 flavoured atoms arranged on a 4.54 billion year old planet circling a middle-aged 4th or 5th generation star on its 23rd trip around the centre of a galaxy composed of about 200 billion stars in a 13.7 billion year old universe peppered with hundreds of billions of galaxies glued together in super clusters along expanding tendrils held in-place by the indirectly observed but otherwise still utterly mysterious dark matter.”

    This is one of the greatest sentences I have ever read… seriously, fantastic.

    Everything you said in this was completely reasonable, which is unfortunate. By now I’m sure you’ve realized that reason has the opposite effect on Christians. If it were any different, a two thousand year old Jew zombie wouldn’t have 1 billion+ followers, as exemplified by Turtullian, “Credo quia absurdum.”

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  2. Thanks for following me. & the only interesting tid bit of information I found in the Bible was all in Leviticus talking about how not to have sex with animals and your family members. bahahaha!

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  3. John,

    Like you, I went to Catholic school and, in my studies, was puzzled at Jesus’ incapacity to conform to my idea of what a god should say or do.

    After catching hell from his mother at the age of twelve for heading off on his own during an excursion to Jerusalem, he went back with her to Nazareth where he “grew in wisdom” which tells you he was lacking in the wisdom department previously.

    When the woman with the hemmorage touched the hem of his garment he became flummoxed, trying to figure out who it was that upended his plans for the day. When the Gentile woman asked him to heal her son he initially refused, quoting scripture to justify his refusal. She proposed a line of reasoning he hadn’t considered and changed his mind about the healing. He was wrong and he admitted as much. As a child, I didn’t consider that behavior godly in the least — as an older man, I have come to think that a willingness to admit it when you’re wrong is an extremely admirable (and rare) characteristic.

    When he spoke to the multitude, he ‘ran over’ causing everyone to miss their dinner. He consulted with his disciples as to what to do and followed a suggestion of Phillip’s. Once again, as a child I believed that turning to one’s subordinates for guidance was a sign of weakness — now I consider it the mark of a good administrator.

    The gospel writers made it pretty clear that Jesus lacked the attributes of a Superman/Super-genius.

    Remember that Joan Osborne song? The one that went, “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home”? I’m not smart enough to add anything new to the argument about whether God exists; but, speaking for myself alone, if it turns out that there IS a God I hope he’s like the god in Osborne’s song rather than the Turbocharged Zeus that some people are looking for.

    Paul

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  4. Yeah, that’s the idea.

    Christianity teaches something vitally important that a lot of Christians find a hard time accepting. Namely, that when God visited us He completely overturned our idea of what God is.

    Instead of commanding, he yielded; instead of judging, he forgave; instead of becoming strong, he became weak. God controls the universe, but not by force. God controls the universe through patience and mercy. On a practical level, we’re taught that in order to be happy and know what life is really about we’ve got turn the other cheek instead of asserting our ‘rights’. That’s hard for non-Christians to follow. It’s even harder, it seems, for Christians to follow.

    “Happy are the poor”, “Happy those who mourn”, “Happy are the meek”, “Happy the merciful”, “Happy the hungry”, “Happy the pure of heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted.”

    I delight in scientific/technological/medical advancement as much as anyone. It thrills me that every time I turn around some scientist is discovering some new thing that’s even more weird and wonderful than we could have imagined. Why do you think I went to the school I did? I’m definitely pro-advancement.

    The lesson, though, that I’m presenting to you is that as wonderful as all those things you listed are, they’re not the things that give life satisfaction. In order to become happy you must worship, and emulate a God who’s almost the opposite of what you’d think God should be. To do so you’ve got to do the opposite of what a lot of folks who think they’re Christian are doing.

    Paul

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    • “In order to become happy you must worship, and emulate a God who’s almost the opposite of what you’d think God should be…”

      Sorry Paul, but I think that’s utter codswallop. Worship what? Your god, his god, her god? There is no god. Never was. It’s no coincidence humanity ‘found’ the first stirrings of religion (ancestor cults and later animism) at about the exact point in time our frontal cortex stopped growing and we started learning what that new clump of neural bundles was capable of. It’s the region of the brain children use to create imaginary friends. It where we do our abstract and creative thinking, and tease out our predictions of the future. It’s where our superstitions take root. Coincidence the two things happened at about the same point in evolutionary time? I think not.

      Happiness is subjective. I believe you’re probably referring to spiritualism, what I’d call a life in balance.

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    • Paul, you make an assumption that what Christianity teaches about a son god visiting us here is true, and that is where you are wrong. They created from the power of their imagination. That aside, though, the sentences that you quote from the beatitudes discourage one from fighting oppression, tyranny and working to improve their situation. This message was useful to the priests, it is the only way they can justify begging, you find it a noble teaching, I don’t.
      Are you implying to be happy we must live in servitude to a non existent deity, hell no! To be happy is to make another person happy not to make them slaves of gods through priests which amounts to the same thing.

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      • OK, did the Son of God take on human form and live among us? We disagree; but I wonder if we’ve established how MUCH we disagree. My understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation is that it’s not enough, simply, to believe that a certain Jewish carpenter who lived in
        Nazareth back in the First Century was the Son of God. You could believe that much and still be unable to make any sense of the meaning of the Incarnation and the relevance it has to your life.

        Believing that the Jewish carpenter was the Son of God isn’t sufficient. Truthfully, I sometimes wonder if it’s even necessary. You may know this as well as I do, but the search for the historical Jesus yields only the merest of crumbs. How anyone could be satisfied placing the entirety of their faith on ‘scripture alone’ is beyond me. You’ll have to ask a Protestant about that!

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      • You have lost me. You sometimes wonder if believing jesus as son of carpenter necessary… since you live on faith and revelation where do you base your beliefs? If a search for the historical Jesus yields zero, what is the point believing there was one?
        Apart from scripture what else would a believer need?

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  5. John,

    I must not have made my point clear.

    I want to set aside the question of whether God exists. Instead of “Is God an ‘imaginary friend’ or a real being?”, let’s talk about “Am I striving to be powerful or vulnerable?”, “Am I looking to condemn those who’s behavior is destructive or to forgive them?”, “Do I want to be in control or ‘under orders’?”, “Should I work for my own well being or the well being of others?”, “Do I rely on myself or on others?”

    Would it be all right with you to talk about those things instead of whether God exists. If you give me an opportunity to elaborate you’ll see that my underlying question is, “Do I believe other human beings exist?”

    Paul

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  6. Pingback: Jesus Wasn’t Great Part 1 | Robert Nielsen

  7. What many people miss is that jesus didn’t say anything new, let alone thinks novel or informative. This is why I struggle when people talk about Christian morality. When people who argue that there is such a thing are asked what specifically is that morality they say things like “Love God,” “turn the other cheek,” or “the 10 Commandments” as if Jesus was the first to utter them. I find very little in the way of morale precepts that address one person to another but a lot about the relationship of a person to god, which is not a morality per se..

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  8. John,

    Recently, you visited my ‘site, http://reflectionsofacatholicchristian.wordpress.com/, and we had a discussion about Adam & Eve: http://reflectionsofacatholicchristian.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/what-god-has-joined-together/

    We found agreement on some things. For example, we agreed that the story is a fairy tale and that it is similar in detail to other fairy tales that were around before the Bible was written. We also agreed that the tale of a Super Being who planted a paradisial garden for people to live in, imposed dietary restrictions which those people were bound to violate, and then banished them for disobedience is something that never did, never would and never could happen.

    In other words, we agreed on the extraneous and trivial points. On the essential points, though, we were completely at odds. You believe that we would be well rid of the fable whereas I believe that it is perfectly suited to enable people to discuss what life is about and what it truly means to be human. For you, the story is worthless, whereas for me it is priceless.

    You also took me to task for my frequent use of the name, “God”. I’m going to have a lot of trouble satisfying you there since exegesis is the whole point and purpose of my website and I see no way to interpret a piece of writing without referring to the characters who appear in that piece of writing. Your aversion to the word might prove to be a big obstacle in our discussions.

    And yet, here you are, writing an entire post to examine the question, “If Jesus was God, why didn’t he say anything useful?” You seem to be able to endure the word “God” when it comes out of your pen!

    At any rate, I hope to discuss your question because it’s a good one. Actually, it’s more than good; it’s just about the most important question a person could entertain. So, “Bravo” to you for your question even if our contrasting styles prevent us from talking about it.

    I, for one, cannot propose a facile answer to your question. No matter, lots and lots of people can; so if you want to kick around facile answers you’ll find plenty of people who are willing to argue with you. I have no sound bite, or quip, or slogan with which to respond so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my response is completely unsatisfactory to you.

    But I’ll respond anyway.

    My response is a question in return: “If you, John, were God and had the ability to assume any power or attribute you chose to, what would you do if you visited us here on earth?”

    I’ll let you speak for yourself, of course, but I suspect that John-as-God would supply us humans with a mountain of knowledge and technological advancement and would, on top of that, wipe out every form of sickness and suffering, pausing from time to time to build gleaming cities of indescribably beauty and grandeur.

    Or maybe I’ve got it all wrong…..

    Paul

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    • Paul, i believe fables are wonderful. They should be celebrated and held aloft for the cultural gems that they are. If you’d seen my About section here you’d know Alice is my literary hero and I rigidly stand by the assertion that there’s more sound life advice in Alice in Wonderland than in all the books of the new and old testaments combined. As for religion, it was our first attempt at science, and we should honour that. Magical sky beings and hideous hobgoblins made sense to an immature species. About 90 generations ago we however grew up. Well, some of us did. Many unfortunately remained fixed in a world of fairytales where supernal beings wrestled for our love and devotion. Those people, of which you are one, have failed to step into adulthood. You’re desperate to believe in some magical sky father, and that desperation clouds your vision. You sound reasonable enough, you’re certainly earnest, but you and I are simply not on the same level of reality. You believe in magic. I do not. For this reason your question is moot. It’s completely redundant. It means nothing to me. Perhaps you have trouble even understanding that, but it’s the equivalent of asking me why Santa didn’t bring me a shiny red bicycle last year.

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  9. “Many [are] in a world of fairytales where supernal beings wrestled for our love Those people, of which you are one, have failed to step into adulthood. You’re desperate to believe in some magical sky father. You sound reasonable enough, but you and I are simply not on the same level of reality. You believe in magic. I do not.”

    John, you slander me — and it’s no fun being on the receiving end of slander.

    You also seem to be clueless to the fact that there is a sharp divide between Christians (Fundamentalists) who actually believe believe the stories in the Bible have scientific validity and those (such as myself) who endorse the view of the Pope’s own Pontifical Biblical Commission which is that, ” [t]he fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations. ” cf. http://college.holycross.edu/faculty/fmurphy/iot/Fundamentalism-CatholicStatement.htm

    One obvious ‘human limitation’ is that the people who were writing two or three or four thousand years ago couldn’t possibly have made any references to science that don’t sound laughable to our ears.

    To say that I have ‘failed to step into adulthood’ or that I’m “desperate to believe in some magical sky father” is to demonstrate a total lack of understanding with regard to my beliefs regarding God, the Bible, or the Christian life.

    I would like to motivate you and enable you to stop slandering me. Please take the trouble to read something I posted on September 14 of this year: http://heartonthejourney.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/post-from-paul-martha-dont-you-moan/ as well as something I posted on September 26: http://heartonthejourney.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/post-from-paul-more-to-follow/

    I wonder if you took the time, before posting your comment to me, to imagine what it would be like for me to read it. How about a little respect?

    Paul

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    • Paul, it’s my blog so I’m quite free to say what i want. But, no, I was not slandering you. Slander would be saying something that was inaccurate. I was simply pointing out the reality of the matter. If you don’t like it then that’s your problem, not mine.

      Now, you seem to be having serious trouble in understanding that I find your Christian beliefs utterly childish. I find all religions utterly childish. Your god, like all the thousands of gods ever dreamt up, is a manmade mirage, and your need to believe in this mystical creator sky fairy is, also, childish. In your case this appears to be doubly accurate as you have said in previous comments you run back to “spiritual advisors” (I think that was the term you used) to seek “guidance and clarity” on posts and responses. Doesn’t that sound like something a child would do? Is your faith that fragile you cannot conduct a logical, adult discussion about it without scurrying to some authority figure? Are you that desperate for reassurance? If you don’t like being called a child then you should perhaps re-examine the mysterious invisible magical beings you’re trying to tell me are real…. Or would you like to discuss Unicorns instead?

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    • Paul, I have taken time to read the two posts and from them I gather that you are catholic and that your wife has cancer, I wish her quick recovery, but question is if a god exists, why would he make your wife sick just so you have faith in him? Doesn’t that sound fishy to you?
      John doesn’t slander you when he asks you step into adulthood. I usually ask people to behave and join us in the 21st century. You can’t live your life believing in ghosts, holy or otherwise, and expect not to be told that is childish and crazy. It is crazy by any other name.
      We respect you so much, but we can’t believe you have such ridiculous beliefs. Be kind to yourself and know that no miracles happen and to think any will as you write in the post is to lie to yourself. I noticed you mentioned that a gentleman said his cancer was in remission, then for anyone whose cancer is growing, god is indicted and remains guilty. Cancer going into remission ain’t a miracle, sometimes it does happen and then reappears and kills it’s patients. If you believe in a creator god, then he is responsible for creating cancer and is thus malicious and not deserving of worship. Do you intend to change his mind, if it has one that is, by servitude?

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      • I gather you read what I posted on Pam’s blog for 9/26/12 entitled “More to Follow”. Did you read through to the end? If you did, you will discover that my belief in the efficacy of praying for miracles is similar to your own

        I hope you will also read the post I put up on 9/14/12 under the title, “Martha Don’t You Moan.” I complained that John slandered me because he insists on faulting me for beliefs I just don’t have. I don’t think either of you ‘get’ me. A lot of Christians believe in the gospel which, from my perspective, is fabulous. Trouble is, many ALSO believe a whole lot of hokum that isn’t part of the gospel but is part of a belief system that gets packaged as Christianity. A lot of people can’t separate the baby from the bath water!

        Read those posts and then we’ll talk about miracles.

        Paul

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      • If you read my comment, you’ll notice I said i read the wto articles to the end if I didn’t already mention that and I know what you said about miracles.
        Now you say we don’t get you, why not make yourself more clear.
        I don’t think we are agreed on miracles, you believe praying for one will not make one happen, I believe there are no miracles. So tell me what would you want us to talk about concerning miracles, while at it, please define miracles then we see if any of it is possible.

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      • Mak, this is precisely the point i was trying to make. The good Captain believes in magic, I (you, too) don’t. I’m sure Paul means well but he comes across as a little bipolar in his ‘beliefs.’

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      • I dunno. I suppose ‘miracle’ means anything that provokes wonder. When I think about the fact that 97% of the sun’s energy that reaches the earth bounces back into space without being used, and that nearly 3% is used to fuel all the phenomenon we call ‘weather’ whereas a virtually negligible amount is used for human purposes I find myself wondering. I don’t know why. Sometimes I look up in the sky and watch the clouds go by, or watch brooks flow, or observe the tide and I consider how ‘expensive’ it is to keep all that weather going.

        The flurry of interest about the Higgs Boson last July got me wondering. Every new development in brain research I hear about triggers amazement. The more I learn about science, the more wonderful it seems to me.

        There is, of course, lots and lots of weird shit that goes on and nobody knows why — not yet, anyway. Everybody is different, I suppose, but the human discovery of the laws that undergird the things that go on in the world is more wonderful to me than the things that go on for which we have no explanation.

        Prime numbers get me wondering — so does the Pythagorean Theorem. I like to think that prime numbers existed before the Big Bang and will continue to exist after the Universe has extinguished itself. I also like to think about the fact that if another species evolved in another part of the universe that had enough intelligence to understand mathematics they would come up with the very same list of prime numbers that we have. I don’t know why, that just blows my mind.

        Here’s another, before human beings developed the technology to cool matter to super low temperatures the lowest temperature that had ever existed in the universe was about 3 degrees Kelvin. The hottest temperature ever achieved was around 10,000,000,000 degrees Kelvin. So, if you “measured” the universe in terms of the heat continuum, it would have been about 9.5 orders of magnitude.

        Now, using human technology, we’ve attained a record low temperature of one third of one billionth of a degree Kelvin — so now the size of the universe (again, in terms of the heat continuum) is about 19.5 orders of magnitude. I tell people that human beings have been able to double the size of the universe — which is, to me, really something to wonder about.

        You say you don’t believe in miracles. I’ll take you at your word. Tough break for you!

        How does one define wonder? It seems to me that one can only wonder if one has the capacity for subjective experience. We can use science to explore objective experience but we have to rely on art, or literature, or religion to make sense of subjective experience.

        I think you’re not going to be satisfied with that, so I will add that I find the claim that human beings can utilize the power of prayer to manipulate events in a way they choose to be revolting. I’m not even interested in examining the ‘evidence’ such as it is. Prayer isn’t about us telling God what we want. Prayer is about us listening to find out what God wants.

        Paul

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      • Paul, good try brother except you didn’t define miracle. I agree science inspires awe and wonder but it isn’t miraculous. We may not have an explanation for some things, but if we infer from what we know now, all things are natural. Cause and effect.
        Now tell me brother Paul, I hear friends praying at the beginning of a journey asking for safe journey mercies, tell me is that what god wants or is that what they want? I don’t know how god speaks to anyone or how one gets to know god has spoken. For the entire time I was a catholic, I never heard him, not even once, unless he started recently, then that’s a new one.
        We are in agreement on many things Paul, and as John says you mean well, I think there is just a disconnect between what you know and what you believe. If you are revolted by the idea that a finite being can manipulate an infinite being with prayer, then why pray at all. If you believe praying for a miracle is insane, why believe that one could happen? Why not see just see that things that happen are natural, at times we may lack a working explanation but they are still natural.

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  10. Makagutu, (I assume you’re Onyango Makagutu — correct me if I’m wrong)

    Every time I get a new post from you, or from John, my heart sinks and I feel a wave of hopelessness. I tell myself, “I’m not nearly smart enough to make myself understood to these guys.” Then, after a few hours, or a day, I think, “Give it one more try.”

    That’s what I’m thinking now.

    I’m convinced — in fact, I’m passionate about it — that one of the most significant threats to the survival of our species is rooted in our own distorted thinking. To be human is to be prone to irrational fear, to superstition and to wishful thinking. Dealing with these distortions is just one of the many costs of being human. As the world becomes smaller and as our capacity to affect each other’s lives becomes greater, distorted thinking poses a greater and greater threat. We’ve always been troubled by cognitive distortions — but we humans have lately acquired a staggering amount of power without learning much about how to correct our distortions. Mad men have their finger on the button. Every day there are more mad men and every day the button connects to more powerfully destructive forces.

    Am I paranoid, or am I appropriately concerned about the dangers of paranoia?

    We all agree that Christianity is replete with irrational fear, superstition and wishful thinking; but we disagree about why, and we disagree about what to do about it. My position is that believing in God doesn’t make a person irrational, being human does. It’s never going to be possible to stamp out theism; but even if it could be stamped out we’d all discover that the elimination of religion is neither sufficient nor necessary to the task of rooting out distortion.

    You guys believe, wrongly, that Christianity is craziness through and through. That’s why I accuse you of wanting to throw the baby out with the bath water. When you look past the hoo-hah you discover that Christianity is about repentance. It’s about combatting selfishness, willfulness and condemnation. It’s about being released from the power of sin.

    I don’t want you to believe that Jesus walked on water, I want you to consider what sort of a person you are, and to learn the truth about how completely you need to repent. How are we going to be able to get into THAT sort of conversation if we eliminate Christianity?

    Paul

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    • Paul, how do i break this to you gently… I. Don’t. Believe.In. Any. God. Or. Gods. Or. Supernatural. Forces.

      I am a humanist. I believe in man. I strive to lift our species free from the superstitions that you, sir, are riddled with. A humanist does not believe in magic. We believe in the power of human imagination and seek to direct that power to constructive causes, not the destructive pursuits of the religious. Reality is reality.

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    • Paul you are right am yours truly Onyango Makagutu.
      You know for a moment I had a good laugh when I started reading your comment at what John and I have managed to do.
      I find from your comments that you are quite an intelligent fellow but I am lost where we loose you. Now repentance is for those who believe in ghosts, holy or otherwise, something which John and I do not.
      As my friend says, we believe in humanity, that if anything is to be done to better our lot then man must do it. And whenever anything has been done to better our lot men did it. Am able to communicate with you now not because a god invented the internet but man did it. I recognise it is the duty of all us together to make life pleasant for as many people as possible, no gods will. I hope this is easy to understand now 🙂
      Christianity or almost any religion for that matter is batshit craziness. How for a moment do you believe that god was tempted by a devil if you aren’t crazy? Think about it, to be a christian one has first to be a little crazy even if you are intelligent in some other matters.

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      • Well, I think we’ve reached a good spot to draw this discussion to an end — but I hope to continue conversing with you both.

        One of the things you will learn if you accept my invitation to read my blog is that one of my stock comments, that I repeat from time to time when I think it will be helpful is, “The test of faith is not a belief in the existence if God, it’s a belief in the existence of other human beings.”. Another one of my stock phrases is, “I like atheists because the god they don’t believe in is the god I don’t believe in.”. I’ve been making these comments for years and years and many of my blog followers have told me these sayings are helpful to me.

        Almost all my blog followers are devout Catholics.

        You feel certain that you’ve got Christianity figured out. Your certainty gets in the way of your learning. I have something useful I could teach you. I wish you would believe that as strongly as I believe you have something to teach me.

        Carry on….

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      • Paul I do acknowledge we will learn from each other. As you have called this to a close allow me to just ask a small question; if the test of faith, why we need faith I don’t see, is not a belief in the existence of god but of other human beings, why then do we have people parroting the same old story that god -their god-exists?

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    • I have been reading some of your posts and I can conclude that like most Christians you have completely lost the plot.
      Why would Jesus manifest in human form in a village at the arse end of nowhere, and ,much later, after he had allowed other fools to mutilate his penis learned carpentry and grown a beard appear to a bunch of unwashed, semi-literate Jews and claim he was God Almighty?
      When, not surprisingly, they ‘Extracted the MIchael’ and called him out , he was unable to deliver, so they hung him from a tree.
      So this is god, is it? Right.
      But just to keep you Chrispyuns happy they made up a cock and bull story about him rising from the dead and whizzing off to heaven. Cool!
      Now all you have to do is worship this ‘bloke’ til you die and you get to go to heaven with him. In fact, when he comes again (Mary Magdalene wishes!) he plans to take you all with. No waiting, no queuing or immigration control. And you don’t even have to cut a piece off your willy either! Wow, even more cool.

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      • Why’d you choose such a backward place in such a strange land?
        If you’d come today you’d have raised up a nation,
        Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication….

        I see what you did, there, Arkenaten, ripping off Andrew Lloyd Webber’s thoughtful objection to the mission of Christ and then passing it off as your own observation. I suppose your contribution was to drain all the poetry, wit and charm out of Webber’s lyric.

        I visited a site that translates phrases of UK slang into English and found out that “extracting the Michael” means to tease or ridicule. I get the idea that you think the circumstances that led up to Christ’s crucifixion were that Jesus made a boast he couldn’t back up, had his bluff called by the authorities, was ridiculed for his inability to do as he said he could, and then (in what seems to me to be a massive overreaction) was executed for telling tall tales.

        In actual fact, Arkenaten, the ‘boast’ that Jesus made that caused such an uproar is that he claimed to have the authority to forgive sins. I’ve put my faith in that very boast.

        You claim to have visited my blog and to have read some of my posts. I’m at a loss to understand why you’ve drawn the conclusions you have. Where have I ever commented about what happens after a person dies; except, perhaps, to warn that spending too much time speculating about an afterlife is a good way to waste the blessing of the life we have now? Where have I ever made a literalist interpretation of the Resurrection or the Ascension? And what claim have I ever made about the Second Coming other than to suggest that none of us has a clue as to what it even means?

        If you really were interested in THINKING about why Jesus lived his life in such meagre circumstances instead of wasting time extracting every Tom, Dick and Harry you could find, you might come around to discovering that Jesus taught that our ideas about who are the ‘important’ people, or the ‘important’ nations, or the ‘important’ historical eras are false. In other words, you have no chance to grasp the gospel if you insist on believing that wealth, military might, scientific advancement and celebrity are the things that are truly important. They’re not.

        Paul

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      • Paul, if you think Andrew Lloyd Webber was the first to recognise the utter silliness of your godman missing ALL political, scientific and cultural hotbeds of the day (quite a miracle if you think about it) then i’m afraid to say you’ve lost your mind.

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      • To quote Sheldon Cooper, John, “I know I haven’t lost my mind, my mother had me tested.”
        I don’t know who was the first to raise that objection (enlighten me if you can) I do know Webber expessed himself in a snappy way. I will also reveal that ‘Superstar’ was first popular when I was a teenager, around the time I first began to wonder why Jesus made an appearance in nowheresville. At sixteen, I was more than worldly enough to appreciate the concer that the whole Jesus business was a gigantic hoax.

        My thought, over the ensuing forty years, was to ask myself if I was making inaccurate assumptions about what (to use your phrase) was a ‘hotbed’ and what wasn’t.

        Let’s you and I discuss our prejudices when we evaluate which societies are ‘superior’ and which are ‘inferior’

        OK by you, boss?

        Paul

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      • Good shot at a joke… not bad! To tell you the truth i really don’t know who first saw the silliness in the story. My guess is some 2nd century skeptical Turkish shopkeeper fending off the first evangelicals knocking on his door. As to your point on hotbeds, if i was a godman i’d probably choose to make my appearance in Greece when Democritus was formulating his theory of atomism. Wouldn’t you?

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      • Of course that’s what I’d do, so would anybody. We humans, at least those of us who are willing to examine their lives and life in general, come up with some very clear ideas about why life isn’t as good as it should be (that assertion seems to be axiomatic–everyone accepts it, irrespective of religious or philosophical beliefs) and what must be done to make life better.

        Over and over people have fingered ignorance as a major cause of human suffering. If we accept the premise that ignorance is our problem, we should be
        able to easily conclude that any omnipotent being disposed to treat us well would make the elimination of ignorance a chief priority.

        What better way to eliminate ignorance than to send an ambassador to tutor those geniuses seminally responsible for our manner of thinking. Jesus in Greece in the Sixth Century BCE? Good idea! Jesus in First Century Palestine? WTF????

        Paul

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  11. “If Jesus was God, why didn’t he say anything useful?”

    Best guess – He chose the wrong time to make an appearance. The people were still convinced that God was somewhat of a quixotic deity prone to total annihilation and Jesus felt that trying to correct this view would only confuse and anger them.

    Hey, who knew?

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  12. Maybe no hot beds were missed+each& everyLast ,oneBeing accounted for in that certain camo the faithful loyal eye that is from the womb ,thSource skipping all the middle men -created specifically to recognize its link with self. instead of some manmade plan involving powerlending vicious cycle full of cogs and wheels of rape and revenge and back to murder forth and back again with hidden evasive secret trickery and absolutely not some veiled national ticking time bomb of a strategic gimme needy treaty , yet, openly blending rather ensuring enduring(safely)

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    • Ok, considering we could skip the political ‘hot beds’ (can’t give you scientific and cultural hot beds, though) might it not have then been somewhat prudent to then visit a few more people, say, in a larger geographic field? Nice try, but fail.

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  13. @ Captain Catholic
    Why’d you choose such a backward place in such a strange land?
    If you’d come today you’d have raised up a nation,
    Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication….

    Er…this reply seems a bit odd. Surely a god who wanted to get his message across would have picked someplace like China? I would.

    “I see what you did, there, Arkenaten, ripping off Andrew Lloyd Webber’s thoughtful objection to the mission of Christ and then passing it off as your own observation. I suppose your contribution was to drain all the poetry, wit and charm out of Webber’s lyric.|\’
    Actually, have never listened to AJW. Not my type of music.
    Prefer Hendrix, Mozart, and Astor Piazolla. But I am flattered you think I did!
    Unlike Christians, I have no need to plagiarise anything I write and if i wished to use another’s material I would definitely give credit. It is the Christian(sic) thing to do, not so?

    “I visited a site that translates phrases of UK slang into English and found out that “extracting the Michael” means to tease or ridicule. I get the idea that you think the circumstances that led up to Christ’s crucifixion were that Jesus made a boast he couldn’t back up, had his bluff called by the authorities, was ridiculed for his inability to do as he said he could, and then (in what seems to me to be a massive overreaction) was executed for telling tall tales.”

    Clever lad…you got it in one.

    “In actual fact, Arkenaten, the ‘boast’ that Jesus made that caused such an uproar is that he claimed to have the authority to forgive sins”
    Ah, so as a Christian you are saying he DIDN’T claim to be God, is this correct?

    .“I’ve put my faith in that very boast.”
    Some folk need an excuse to have their sins forgiven it abrogates responsibility somehow. Confession and all that stuff.

    “You claim to have visited my blog and to have read some of my posts.”
    Sorry, Chief. Misunderstanding here. I meant, I read your comments on John’s blog. Though I did pop over to your spot for a quick look around. Nothing I haven’t seen or read before.

    I’m at a loss to understand why you’ve drawn the conclusions you have. Where have I ever commented about what happens after a person dies; except, perhaps, to warn that spending too much time speculating about an afterlife is a good way to waste the blessing of the life we have now? Where have I ever made a literalist interpretation of the Resurrection or the Ascension? And what claim have I ever made about the Second Coming other than to suggest that none of us has a clue as to what it even means?
    “If you really were interested in THINKING about why Jesus lived his life in such meagre circumstances instead of wasting time extracting every Tom, Dick and Harry you could find, you might come around to discovering that Jesus taught that our ideas about who are the ‘important’ people, or the ‘important’ nations, or the ‘important’ historical eras are false. ”
    Yes, well, proselytizing never worked on me I’m afraid, and you know so little of the historicity of the Jesus character that a meaningful response here would be a waste of cyber paper.

    “In other words, you have no chance to grasp the gospel if you insist on believing that wealth, military might, scientific advancement and celebrity are the things that are truly important. They’re not.”
    I know a fair wack abut the gospel as it happens but I don’t recall bringing any of these other things up and object to you putting such words i m my mouth. In fact I recoil at anything a Christian might wish to put in my mouth, thank you very much.

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  14. @Zande,
    cc: @Arkenaten

    Actually, John I’m luring you in for a ‘sucker punch’. More on that later.

    As to whether I will start posting with the CaptainAtheist nick; I will say that it’s an intriguing idea and I’ll give it more thought before deciding.

    You’re probably also following the conversation I’m having here with Arkenaten. Seems as if none of us could find dates on a Sunday 😉 I shall say to BOTH of you that it is never my intention to put words in anyone’s mouth; but I will often reframe, in my own words, something someone has said to me — not for the purpose of besting them in a debate but simply to establish whether or not we’re communicating.

    To BOTH of you I shall say that I want us to consider what our assumptions are. If we don’t trouble ourselves to do that we’re passing up a chance to actually learn from each other.

    It seems to me that, when you ask why Jesus didn’t do anything useful, we’ve got to establish what we mean by ‘useful’. Again, I’m not saying these things to ‘extract the Michael’ from you (oh, those Brits!). I’m honestly trying to make sure we’re all on the same page.

    I’m getting the idea that by ‘useful’ you mean ‘useful’ in the sense of enabling people to live better, happier, more meaningful lives. Furthermore, I get the idea that you’re both taking it as a ‘given’ that the way to live a better, happier, more meaningful life you need to find a way to relieve yourself (or be relieved of) ignorance, poverty, sickness, threats to physical safety, obscurity, isolation and like that there.

    If I’ve misunderstand, please accept it when I say it was an honest mistake and give me the correct answers to the questions of what you mean by useful, and what are the things people need to be happy.

    Fair enough?

    Paul

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    • Fair enough, Paul. By useful i mean something worth a “Wow!” I cited a few examples, but something like the science of corrective optics would stand out as something ‘useful’ and worthy of attention…. perhaps even belief.

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      • Ahh! Here’s something I didn’t anticipate….. The WOW! factor.

        If I were going to bet, I would bet that somebody this century actually DOES develop corrective optics. Given the trajectory of medicine and science I expect that, by the year 2100, nobody is going to need glasses or cataract surgery. I wouldn’t be surprised either if many medical conditions which currently result in blindness were also corrected.

        Again, with my ‘bet’. I suspect that, again in 2100, credit for these accomplishments couldn’t be given to a single individual. I can imagine that, when historians assess the accomplishment, they will assert that it came about due to the coordinated efforts of many talented people.

        Were I around to see it, I doubt it would have any impact on my system of ‘belief’. I already believe that human beings have an incredible amount of imagination, determination, perseverance and intelligence. That belief would, perhaps, be strengthened but not to the point where I would award a WOW! to anybody.

        You might consider this silly, but my own personal WOW! in the field of science came a few years ago when a team of scientists from MIT successfully dropped the temperature to .00000000003 degrees Kelvin (the closest approach yet to absolute zero). If I get to meet any of these women and men I’ll definitely give them a ‘Salame’ but I’m not likely to be persuaded that their accomplishment is proof that one of them is the Messiah.

        WOW!! WOW!! What would it take to evoke the WOW!?? Well, if somebody comes along with an idea to get the conservatives in government to stop being obstructionist and passes effective legislation that guarantees everyone a decent standard of living you would you consider it ‘useful’. What’s your WOW! factor there? Do you need something to be unexplainable, something to be mind-boggling, something to be scientifically IMPOSSIBLE to earn your WOW!?

        Here’s what I mean: what would you think if someone gathered a group of scientists and skeptics and offered to let them observe while he took a stroll across a pond on a summer’s day? If he did it well enough to silence all the scoffers would you agree that his stunt had passed the WOW! test? I’m thinking you would, but I have no intention of ‘putting words in your mouth’.

        Me??? I’m less interested in WOW! and more interested in ways to increase humanity’s store of happiness. In my evaluation, the first example would be extraordinarily useful whereas the second example would be no more useful or valuable than a rowboat.

        Peace,

        Paul a.k.a. ‘Captain Atheist’ 😉

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      • I can see your point, Paul, and for the great part I agree with it. My “wow” was not what was really important. Rather more the fact that your godman miraculously missed every hotbed of the day, made no contact at all with a literate person, wasn’t literate himself, supposedly did see himself clear to heal a single blind man, but strangely chose not to tell the local glass-smith about the wonders of convex shaping. It’s a very silly story.
        As to happiness, I’m all for that. Here your godman really didn’t say anything either. The central message, the pitch as it were, was Golden Rule, but that little bit of wisdom was plagiarized from Confucius.
        Funny you should mention politics. Not a word either about representative democracy, or even communism which, if working perfectly, would be truly wonderful. Even Ghandi presented a new system of governance called Swaraj.
        Listen, at the end of the day I’m not anti jesus. I actually don’t believe he ever even existed. As a humanist I’ll back any person who seeks to better the lot of our species. My problem with religion, as you might know, is I see it as perfectly fallacious and distracts people from reality. It’s a cop out, and I don’t like seeing people waste their lives. You’re English (right?), I’m Australian, so we both come from cultures not overly affected and effected by religion. My real gripe is what the evangelicals are doing in the US, and the lunatic Islamists everywhere else. Read my recent post from earlier today and you’ll see what excites me.
        Peace to you, too, Captain-A 😉

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      • I am a hopeless optimist, addicted to noticing that the glass is “half full”; that’s why I consider it a positive sign that you’ve stopped telling me I’ve lost my mind. I’d be fooling myself, of course, if I really thought I still had all my marbles, but the fact that you’re being nice enough, now, to overlook it makes me feel as if we’re progressing along the path to civility.

        The thing about the Golden Rule is that everybody agrees with it even though nobody follows it. You’re right to point out that Jesus is just one member of a rather large fraternity of teachers who’ve pointed out over the years and centuries that all moral precepts are rooted in the instruction to treat others as well as we’d want to be treated.

        The Golden Rule is an effective ‘rule of thumb’ for determining whether a particular behavior is good or bad, so you’ve got a gauge to tell you when other people are treating you badly. How much comfort is that? Not a lot, I think.

        Everybody gets mistreated from time to time — some more, some less — and everybody knows when they’re being mistreated. So, we arrive at a question that confronts believer and non-believer alike: “What can you do when somebody else is shitting on you?”

        That’s a question worth examining. I’m more interested in that question than I am in the question of whether prayer can heal illness. (FYI, my ‘answer’ to that question is “yes and no”. There seems to be a non-zero causal correlation between prayer and health, but it’s nearly impossible to figure out why prayer ‘sometimes’ works and ‘sometimes’ doesn’t. I pray for the sick, and I figure it does some good. It’s like hand washing. I expect it improves my chances at combatting the flu — but it’s not a panacea.)

        As I said, the complex and thorny question of “miracle cures” is less important to me than the question of what to do when somebody else behaves like an asshole. Seeing that all of us are surrounded by assholes, it seems to me that there is no more pressing issue.

        Agree?

        Paul

        P.S. I’m from the USA. Born and bred in Boston Massachusetts. I have ancestors from England, but I have ancestors from other places besides….

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      • Paul, I’ve never considered a crazy theist. Someone however like Roy, well…. He’s just nuts. What I find intriguing about you is that by all accounts you come across as a rabid Deist (said in the nicest possible way). I’m perfectly fine with deists. We don’t know all the answers and if placing a non-interfering entity into the mix helps you make meaning then so be it. Deists don’t interfere in society like (many) theists do. You’re in Massachusetts, huh? Don’t need to give you a history lesson about the hysteria sparked after 12 year old Ann Putnam accuses some innocent slave girl of witchcraft. You, however, call yourself Captain Catholic, and that puzzles me. You’re far more spiritualist/humanists than catholic.

        The Golden Rule is just empathy with a different name, and empathy was a well-established cognitive/social trick around long, long, long before the first gods were ever dreamed up. NYT’s did a great article recently (about a month ago) on detailing research into how children learn empathy. I don’t have a link, but it’s worth searching out.

        So, to your question: what do you do with assholes? Well, praying doesn’t help. You have to take them on and de-asshole them. I find mockery a good tool. In Brazil (where there is an oversupply of assholes) it’s pretty easy, plus I get a laugh out of it.

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      • Frustration, John; ‘frustration’ is the best word I know to describe my experience in this interchange. My frustration isn’t that I can’t get you to agree with me, my frustration is that I can’t even get you to trouble yourself to disagree with me. I don’t even have the assurance that you even know what I said.

        Awkward and nightmarish. That’s what you wrote about. That’s what I’m attempting to respond to. Let me break down your argument and if you object to anything about my analysis of your thinking process please set me straight.

        You assert that in order for any rational person to accept the claim that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the World he must be convinced that Jesus gave Humanity something we really need, something important, something (to use your word) useful. Guess what? I agree with you! I don’t agree with you in part, I agree with you completely. “Amen!” I say, “If Jesus gave us nothing useful he’s nothing more than a bag of wind, if he even existed in the first place.” Do you see? We can’t argue about this point because we don’t disagree about it.

        You go on to point out that Jesus never provided us with any sort of medical or scientific advancement (True!). He didn’t elucidate anything useful in the realm of political theory. He offered no improvements in commerce or manufacturing. Other than mouthing a few vanilla platitudes he made no real progress in the battle for social justice and human rights. True! True! True!

        You point these things out with an attitude of certainty that any Christian would blanch with shame to hear you speak them, as if you had caught us in a lie, as if you’d offered an argument that absolutely demolished any claim Christianity could possibly make. A slam dunk, you think.

        John, when I teach Christianity, if these points aren’t raised I raise them myself. The fact that he didn’t do these things is actually important in the understanding of what he DID do.

        We did these ‘useful’ things. We human beings, on our own, did all the things that you imagine a savior would have done FOR us if he were actually up to scratch. As if doing something for someone that they could actually do for themselves is evidence of divine wisdom.

        You successfully demonstrate that, for someone to prove he’s the Son of God, he must give something useful to humanity. You also demonstrate that Jesus did none of the things you consider useful, that we had to do all these things on our own. You conclude, then, that Jesus was a total fraud. You tip your hat to those responsible for crucifying him. Good riddance!

        Your conclusion is logical. I happily concede that point. But there’s a point that I wish I could get you to concede — and that’s that there is ANOTHER logical conclusion one could draw from these bits of evidence, an ‘alternate explanation’ for the things you bring up.

        That ‘alternate explanation’ is that you are wrong about what’s ‘useful’. The things that you’ve suggested as ‘useful’ aren’t really the things that we human beings need. They’re nice, but we could get along without them if we had to. What we DO need, what we require a savior to give us, is infinitely more useful than any of the things you pointed out that Jesus DIDN’T give us.

        The thing that we actually need is the thing he gave us.

        I do not ask you to agree with me. I simply ask you to assure me that you know what we’re disagreeing about.

        Paul

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      • I’m guessing you’re just itching to tell me what it was that your godman actually ‘gave’ humanity, right?

        Word of warning, if it’s some airy, esoteric, completely worthless “savior of spirit” talk then I wouldn’t really bother. My eyes just roll into the back of my head the moment I see such poetic drivel.

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      • Itching to tell you???? Not exactly. My feeling is more of a dull, defeated disappointment. I’m disappointed that I HAVE to tell you. Disappointed, but not surprised. Why should atheists understand much about Christianity when Christians themselves are so ignorant?

        You’re certainly not bound to take advice from the likes of me, but I would think that if you want to be a proper atheist you really ought to know why Christ was born and died, at least according to Christians.

        At the core of Christianity is the Mass, and at the core of the Mass is the Agnus Dei. That’s your clue. “Savior of spirit”???? Not hardly. We are all in the soup, waiting for Jesus to fish us out. Airy, esoteric, worthless???? If you really understood what you’re being saved from, you’d see how vital, palpable, and essential salvation really is.

        Paul

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      • Paul, in case you didn’t already know, i was born into a catholic family, schooled by Carmelite nuns then Augustinian priests. You’re not educating me on christianity. I know it like the back of my hand. I even attended a service by John Paul in the Vatican. I did not have a “bad” experience with religion and rebelled in some fit of anger. I simply started thinking for myself and the journey from the fairytale to rationalism was quite smooth but altogether noiseless. Australia has very few crazy fundamentalist (not like the US), religion does not interfere in politics and has no influence in society. For these reasons i never had cause to plant my foot down and pronounce, “I’m an atheist.” Since 2001, however, my simple atheism has steadily grown into anti-theism, and the more i see the whackjobs from both Christianity and Islam fuck up with societies the louder i have become. It’s that simple. You’re not educating me, you will not re-convert me. The sickness that is religion, the childish superstitions that ruin adults and hinder human advancement must be burnt to the ground…. and i will set flame to this sickness wherever i can.

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      • It is never my intention to insult. I am sorry you felt disrespected, I was not so much attempting to ‘educate’ you as to chide you for being unable to recall that the mission of Christ, the ‘useful’ thing that he gave us, was to save us from sin.

        Do you fault me for thinking that that should be rather an easy question for one as well versed in Christian theology as you present yourself to be.

        I’m not looking for a fight, just an explanation.

        Paul

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      • I’m far from being insulted, Paul. Real things like animal cruelty and child abuse insult me, not someone’s imagination regarding some magical hogwash. In all honesty i genuinely feel sorry for you. Now, i don’t mean to sound condescending, but what i have to say on this matter will surely be received as condescending. No original sin was washed away by your godman and to believe that is just childish. It’s doubly silly because to even believe that you have to first believe in the original sin which would mean believing in Adam and Eve. If you don’t believe in Adam and Eve then there’s no original sin, no original sin and no need for your godman to appear on some ridiculous suicide mission. See the theological problem you’re facing? To believe your sin story you have to admit you have no regard for logic or science. Anyway, i think we’ve explored this subject enough. Perhaps we’ll take it up again on some other playing field one day…

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      • @ Paul
        You’re certainly not bound to take advice from the likes of me, but I would think that if you want to be a proper atheist you really ought to know why Christ was born and died, at least according to Christians.”

        The answer is quite obvious in actual fact. “Because it’s written. That’s why.”

        In all honesty anything else is pure dogma, and it is more important that Christians understand why they believe what they do, and when they have disseminated all the lies maybe they will be able to walk away and wonder what the hell they were doing?
        Go visit any deconvetee’s blog and read their stories.

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  15. @ Paul.
    Lol reading your replies is a bit like listening to William Lane Craig: after a while one gets lost and starts to look for the aspirin, eventually not understanding anything he said and forgetting the original question. I call this the theological two step.
    Anyhow, the most salient point I got from your comment was that you believe we must try to understand each other so that we can…er… understand each other, or something.

    This is an atheist blog and you are a Christian. Two diametrically opposed worldviews, one based primarily on observation and yours based on belief in a Sky-daddy and salvation, people rising from the dead and hell etc etc.
    What could i POSSIBLY learn from you concerning these things? *other than it is all hogwash, of course)
    The primary basis for your belief is built on the premise than Jesus was a man-god, the ‘Son of God’ and will eventually return and settle accounts with naughty humans and take all believers under his wing and sod off to Never Never Land where the faithful don’t get to play with lots of virgins, get pissed or have a rollicking good time.
    Stuff that for a bunch of soldiers.

    The bible is a crock and the church ( and bizillions of cults)it spawned is a deviant organisation that corrupts children and maligns adults.

    The head of your particular church believes he is an earthly conduit for your god and allowed pedophiles to run riot for centuries and still does his best to ensure they are shielded.
    No, Paul, you can teach me nothing…..

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  16. You’re right. I suspect we’re both fatigued with this little chat. It’s best for us to let it go, at least for a while.

    Give me this parting gift: assure me that you know that I know the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a myth. There’s no more ‘real’ about it than there is about Santa Claus. There are enough true reasons to think me a fool, I don’t want you to add unnecessary reasons.

    There’s no need to ‘believe’ the story. What’s important is to appreciate the way the poetry and allegory disclose something fundamental and universal about the human condition.

    Very little in the Bible passes muster as ‘history’.

    Peace,

    Paul

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    • Paul, i already knew you didn’t believe in Adam and Eve. I also knew (from previous posts) that you find most of the bible foolish gibberish. That’s why i consider you a deist, not a Christian. Anyway, good health and travels to you, until our next encounter!

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  17. Very impressive piece of work. And why are humans afflicted with so many diseases and infirmities that severely limit enjoyment of their lives?

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  18. Despite what you’ve written here, and it is beautifully done, in this very day/week/month there are fundamentalist evangelicals who believe they the ‘holy spirit’ can speak through them. That is to say that they believe god is speaking to Earth bound creatures every week. Not one of these channelings of the holy spook have mentioned anything useful. Here is YHWH’s chance to say who should be the next pope, but nope. Not one thing useful.

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  19. I’m glad this got a re-blog so I can appreciate your earlier work! It’s great, of course. But the chat with Captain Catholic takes it to another level. I think I’ll have to start following him. Even just to admire the haughty-smarty-pants picture on regular basis.

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  20. Gee Willikers, John! I’m flattered to know you’re thinking of me. 🙂 .

    As I recall it, you and I got into a rough patch and had trouble liking each other.

    As often happens in these on-line discussions, I end up feeling as if people are talking past each other rather than communicating. I’m hardly blameless in this area; but I’d like to move past the ‘sound bite’ phase of conversations.

    Case in point, you just gave me a ribbing about the ‘Rapture’. That’s not even part of the Catholic mindset. I’m not expecting Rapture any more than you are. From my theological perspective, the idea of Rapture grew out of the imaginations of people who took Biblical prophesies much too literally.

    You see, John, I don’t know what you know or don’t know about my beliefs. My frustration comes out of the suspicion that you’re satisfied believing that everyone who calls himself a Christian believes the same things as everyone else who calls himself a Christian — and that simply isn’t true.

    Many of the criticisms you level at the thinking of certain Christians are identical to the criticisms I make. Much if what you call ‘atheism’ is stuff I also believe — and my beliefs are considered orthodox by people who actually understand Catholic teaching.

    You and I could ally on many things if you’d open your mind to it. Biblical literalism is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. The Pontifical Biblical Institute has referred to fundamentalism as ‘intellectual suicide’ — and you can’t get more Catholic than that.

    I’d feel more confident in conversations with you if you weren’t constantly making me feel that you were talking to somebody else instead of me.

    Peace,

    Paul

    Like

    • I’m not going to defend atheism or bash catholicism …

      Just want to make a comment about blogging and public forum in general.

      You both know that other people are going to read your discussion here, if you want to have a private conversation — then you should email each other. I would discourage that as the discussion becomes more important when people read it … and with that in mind, it becomes important to keep the back and forth heated and entertaining.

      Don’t pull any punches, John. And, you shouldn’t either, Captain.

      Like

      • I like that. The discussion is more “important” if it’s public — and, presumably, folks feel free to kibbutz as the discussion develops. Also, “heated and entertaining” is, I agree, a legitimate goal; but communication and learning and mutual respect have to be part of the package if I’m going to sign on.

        Look, the Rush Limbaugh show is heated and entertaining; but, in the long run, it’s a waste of time. Nobody ever learns anything and emotion always trumps reason. Proving that I’m ‘right’ isn’t really going to give me satisfaction — I’d like to actually learn something that will make my life better, or (perhaps) help someone else learn something to make his life better.

        I can’t imagine that you need worry that either John or I are going to be tempted to “pull punches”.

        Paul

        Like

      • OK, John, let’s “mix it up”!!

        Promise me, though, that you’d listen to what I say as far as what I believe, and what I think, and what motivates my behavior. You seem to have some very firm ideas about what “Christians” believe and tend to insist that I defend the same ideas you’re already an expert in debunking. I know I’m repeating myself, but I really am as eager as you to debunk the kind of thinking you ridicule on this ‘site.

        What will you say to my observation that I’m often unsure about what people are even talking about when they talk about God? I suspect that the god you don’t believe in is the same god I don’t believe in. Can you set “god” aside for a bit and let me tell you what I believe about HUMAN BEINGS and learn what you believe?

        I think that I’m pretty much the same as everyone else in that my idea of human beings and my idea of what it is to be a human being are informed by thoughts about “consciousness”, “volition” and “identity”. Like you, I notice that the things people say about “God” can never be validated scientifically; but I also notice that the things we believe about consciousness, volition and identity resist scientific inquiry.

        Formative personal experience: When I was in twelfth grade, my physics teacher wrote the equation “F=ma” on the chalkboard and proceeded to explain that this formula explained and could predict every movement of every atom in the universe. He pointed out that ‘free will’ is an illusion since we can only behave according to the laws of physics. I found his teaching to be monumentally depressing and I had no way of refuting him.

        Science, it seems, can demonstrate that there’s no such thing as God but it can also demonstrate that there’s no such thing as “me”. Do you catch my drift? Science can verify that there exists 180 pounds of living flesh that operates in accordance with natural law — so I ‘exist’ in that sense; but that’s not what I mean when I ask whether “I” exist. What I really want to know is what to make of my experience of life, my interiority. I also want to know why it is that I seem to have choices when it comes to my behavior when, viewed scientifically, choice itself is an ignorant notion. Why do I perceive some sort of boundary between “me” and “not-me” when there’s no trace of that boundary that can be explored using science?

        I’ll be happy to examine with you why I believe God exists; but, before I can do that, I have to come up with a vocabulary we both feel comfortable with to discuss whether I exist, and whether you do.

        Paul

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      • Hi Paul, i was only kidding about “fighting.” I really don’t know if there’s anything more to actually discuss. Well, of course there is, but it’ll no doubt end up like last time and achieve little other than going around and around. As I see it you’ll always have your faith, and I’ll always require evidence. You’ll cast your mind out and believe in something unseen (but which you say you can feel), while I’ll cast my mind out and rejoice in the majesty of the universe (for what it is, and what it appears likely to be). You believe effort should be devoted to prayer, whereas I will always believe prayer achieves nothing except waste everyone’s time. You’re not a bad bloke. Far from it from all I’ve seen, but I think Chris might be a better pen-pal in this instance. You’re not an evangelical nutcase, so you kind of fly under my radar. My skin crawls and my blood boils with religious interference in our secular societies. That’s where my fight is directed, not at your individual faith.

        Like

      • “You’re not a bad bloke.”

        And, of course, there’s no reason for me to think you’re being condescending there!

        John, my suit may be hopeless. Perhaps nothing I can possibly say will induce you to come out of the intellectual corner you’re hiding in; and that, I might add, is entirely your right. As far as I see it, you’re doing the LORD’s work by putting the lie to the idiotic things that fundamentalists say and, for that, I’m glad.

        This probably comes out of an excess of self-love, but I don’t see how anyone could resist a provocative comment such as the one I made: “I’m more interested in discussing what it MEANS to say, ‘there is a God’ than in debating whether God actually exists and, while we’re at it, we ought to think about what it means to say, ‘there is a me’.”

        You say, “As I see it you’ll always have your faith, and I’ll always require evidence”; but do you see why I’m curious to know whether you’re uneasy about the fact that there’s no evidence that YOU exist. I’m not even sure you know what I mean. I’ll certainly concede that there is a ‘John Zande’ phenomenon that can be verified scientifically — but that’s the objective aspect of John Zande. Do you deny that you experience the SUBJECTIVE aspect of John Zande, an aspect that can’t be studied scientifically?

        Seven billion people in the world, and no reason to imagine that John Zande is remarkable. And yet, to you, he is extraordinary inasmuch as he’s the only one who has the quality of me-ness. Are you following? Will you admit that you believe in “me-ness”? Will you tell me if I’m right in assuming that you’re willing to “make a leap of faith” and believe that there’s a quality of “me-ness” that I experience with respect to the Paul Bradford phenomenon and to no other phenomenon — even though neither of us can possibly prove anything about the Paul Bradford “me-ness” or the John Zande “me-ness” or any of it at all since the required evidence does not and can not exist?

        “My skin crawls and my blood boils with religious interference in our secular societies.” Yeah, I get it — and I share your feelings; but don’t you think you’re being overly narrow? Religious interference, that’s bad; but what about interference from non-religious political crackpots; what about the way psychiatrically unbalanced people ‘interfere’ with life itself when they grab a gun and start shooting school children; what about folks whose religious beliefs are benign but who are so hyper-patriotic that they’re a danger to anyone who has a different nationality; what about gangsters, and sex offenders, and identity thieves, and Wall Street bigshots who rip off the retirement accounts of millions of innocent victims?

        Religious zealotry is just one way out of many to be dangerously sociopathic. I think you should set your sites on sociopathy and realize that religion is a red herring.

        That’s what I think….

        Paul

        Paul

        Like

      • That’s exactly the tone we need directed to the fundamentalists. Paul, it’s time for you to dust off your suit, straighten your cape, and pull on those Captain Catholic goggles! Chris will find you an post that you’re going to have to respond to. You have to defend your lord against the crazies out there soiling its name.

        Like

    • I was just joking about the rapture, you know that. Actually, this story was re-discovered today and that meant you, my friend, were also re-discovered!

      So, are you happy about Pope Francis, the Argentinian?

      Like

  21. Reading your posts have made me heartsick. I wish there was something I could say that would change your mind being that I am a dyed in the wool Christian. I respect your opinions, and would simply ask that you please be careful to respect others and not make people who are different than you out to be less intelligent or idiotic for the foundations of faith that they build their lives on.
    Jenness

    Like

    • Hi Jenness, i might equally say reading (certain) Christian blogs makes me genuinely heartsick. The thought that someone is so lost and frightened saddens me. My beef, though, is not with the ordinary layperson. For them i feel only sympathy. Believe what you like, but keep that belief to yourself and inside your places of worship. My fight is with evangelical fundamentalists who wish to impose their lunacy on our secular societies. These fundamentalists (of any religion) must be met and confronted by sane, rational people. You see, I’m a humanist. I want only the best for our species and planet… and I will defend both against irrational, destructive and regressive religious interference.

      Like

      • John I too am a humanist and have the same ideas in mind I believe that God put me on Earth to serve people in whatever capacity He leads me too…your comment ” and I will defend both against irrational, destructive and regressive religious interference” is also a goal of mine because I believe that is breeds hatred and that is a very self serving agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with the cause of Christ and my Heavenly Father. Extremists who spread hate talk and intolerance are not furthering the God’s kingdom but only perpetuating the human invention of hatred. Whether you believe in God or not humans and their sin are sin nature are the problems being discussed and that has nothing to do with the Creator.
        Jenness

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      • Paul, you know fully well i’m not at all nasty to an individuals beliefs. I find them silly, yes, but i don’t single out individuals. It’s the institutions and the evangelicals i confront. Even you’re against those nutters!

        Like

      • John,

        OK, 100% straight, serious and candid:

        You and I are more allied than you realize. We’re both railing against insane beliefs and, even though I haven’t yet seen where you’ve written this, I strongly believe that you agree with me when I say that I’m exceedingly concerned that we’re getting close to a ‘tipping point’ where the sheer number of ‘reason deniers’ will reach a point and achieve a level of political power that civilization itself may enter into a second Dark Age. And, because of technology, the planet itself will be in peril.

        Look John, I don’t spend a whole lot of time meditating on doomsday scenarios such as the one I just shared — I have no desire to become as unbalanced as the folks I’m concerned about. I only wish to point out that this is more than an amusing game we get to play on web boards — it’s actually serious stuff.

        Frankly, I don’t think either if us have zeroed in on the root of the problem. You’re operating on the assumption that theism is the danger. I think that’s too simplistic. For example, I think capitalism itself is an insane destructive belief that has the potential to shake civilization’s foundations. Furthermore, I see evidence that their are elements in religion that actually provide an antidote to economic insanity.

        We could learn from each other if we were both willing.

        P

        Like

      • Agreed, 100%… and greed is indeed the biggest threat. This blog is atheist themed because its my little effort to push back against fundamentalists. You’re not one, and i appreciate that. I haven’t written about economics or political practice because it’ll only confuse the nature what these pages are. Any humanist is an ally of mine, and you don’t need to be an atheist to be a humanist. 🙂

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  22. @ Paul

    Paul, you have not posted a single rational or reasonable comment that would give John (or any ordinary person) an iota’s pause regarding his atheism. In fact , your posts would likely turn the average Christian to seek salvation in atheism.

    ”Frankly, I don’t think either if us have zeroed in on the root of the problem.”

    THIS IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

    YOU AND YOUR DAMNED RELIGION

    You are a member of an organisation that hides among its ranks pedophiles, believers and propagators of ridiculous myths and outright lies.
    You are a member of an organisation that considers contraception a ‘sin’, thus contributing to the deaths of many, many people, through the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus and inadvertently responsible for orphaning many more.
    You belong to an organisation that, during the period of its existence sanctioned torture and the murder of hundreds of thousands,through the Inquisition; that never did away with it but merely changed its name.
    You belong to an organisation that was responsible for the virtual extermination of several competing christian sects, including the Waldenese and the Albigenieses, the latter after a civil war in France. Go research Carcasonne.The testimony of some of the soldiers is quite something to read.
    In John’s (current) country, Brazil, a huge statue of the narrative construct, the man-god, Yashua, stands testament to some of the worst aspects of Catholicism and more insidiously, the Jesuit priests whose mission it was to physically protect the Indians from the Bandeirantes. However their complete disrespect for native traditions resulted in the cultural annihilation of the indigenous population.

    The list of your ‘faith’s’ vile Human Right’s record is exhaustive, and it is not getting smaller.

    Are you getting a clearer picture, Paul? Have you the intellectual capacity to fathom what the root of the problem is yet?

    If you have a glimmer of compassion,and empathy and a mere few cubic CC’s of grey matter then the answer should be perfectly clear by now. But just in case there is any doubt whatsoever…

    F*****G RELIGION AND ITS ADHERENTS ARE THE ROOT OF THE F*****G PROBLEM,PAUL.

    Are we learning yet?

    Like

    • @Arkenaten

      You know, every now and then I’m tempted to try and learn something about writing rational or reasonable comments, but I keep putting it off. Damned procrastination!

      Well, Ark, I’m thinking that you and I are talking past each other.

      Quick quiz: Which Christian is quoted as saying, “I’m more comfortable talking with atheists than I am with most Christians. The god atheists don’t believe in is the same god I don’t believe in.” Give up?? It was ME!

      You see, Ark, I’ve never been struck with the desire to give an atheist “pause” and try to get him to believe in God. I’m not convinced that would be a good thing, and it even might be a bad thing. Furthermore, if my “posts are convincing the average Christian to seek salvation in atheism” it’s probably because I’ve managed to get said Christians to use their heads to think, which could be a good thing. Of course, it might be a bad thing to get certain people thinking. Some of them might become suicidally depressed if they started thinking.

      My incapacity to be rational and reasonable has probably made it difficult for you to figure out what my point is. Please be patient with me! John wrote a post about how Jesus never made any contribution to medicine or science or technology and then concluded that he’d never given us anything (I’m using John’s word) ‘useful’. Now, I’m more than happy to concede that Jesus never made contributions in those areas but my observation is that those things don’t really make people happy. Well, a little bit happy; but not profoundly joyful.

      The thing I’ve noticed that makes people really happy is the forgiveness of sins. The characteristic I most associate with truly happy people is mercy — that is, acceptance, understanding, patience and kindness towards the faults and failings of others (and, for that matter, toward one’s own faults.)

      So, what about Jesus?? Forgiveness of sins? Well, that was his whole schtick, wasn’t it? Science? Not really his strong suit. And, given my way of viewing things, I find myself concluding that John’s thesis is wrong — Jesus gave us the most useful thing of all!

      As you’ve heard enough times to make you want to scream, the gospel teaches that we’re all steeped in sin. That is, we’re all convinced that we’ll be rewarded for doing good things and punished for doing bad things. Furthermore, while we’re in a state of sin, we attempt to control each other by rewarding behavior that we like and punishing behavior we don’t like.

      Of course, it gets a bit confusing because different people ‘like’ different behaviors. I might be busy trying to train you to say nice things about the gospel at the same time John is training you to say nasty things about religion. We’re both attempting to get you to be ‘good’ by rewarding good behavior but we have diametrically opposed definitions of ‘good’. You see what I mean? Confusing!!

      Anyway, according to the gospel, we’re supposed to stop all that. Instead of rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior we’re taught to constantly strive to be good to everybody, without taking their behavior toward us into consideration. I’m sure this is very tedious to you. Christians have been rattling on and on about mercy and forgiveness for 2,000 years. I’m sure that, for you, it has gotten very, very old.

      But not for me. I simply don’t get tired of believing in the gospel. It really does seem to me to be the path to happiness. You have tried very hard to explain things to me despite my obvious lack of “cubic cc’s of grey matter” and I appreciate what a trial it must be to you. You want me to understand that fucking religion is the root of the fucking problem. Perhaps, if you will allow me to ask a really, really, really stupid question I might have at least a tiny bit of a chance to catch on.

      When you say ‘religion’ are you talking about going to Church, reading the Bible, telling people that God exists and worrying about what happens after we die? Or, perhaps, do you mean to have me understand that ‘religion’ is the lifelong dedication to the goal of becoming merciful, unselfish and willing to sacrifice the habit of needing to have your own way?

      Peace,

      Paul Bradford

      Like

      • ”When you say ‘religion’ are you talking about going to Church, reading the Bible, telling people that God exists and worrying about what happens after we die? Or, perhaps, do you mean to have me understand that ‘religion’ is the lifelong dedication to the goal of becoming merciful, unselfish and willing to sacrifice the habit of needing to have your own way?’

        Let me be as succinct as I am able.
        You cannot be a Christian unless you acknowledge that Yashua is God. Please note that I have even been nice and added the capital ‘G’ for you.

        Now, before we move on I need to know if is there anything in that sentence you do not understand?

        No ambiguity. Answer the question directly please.

        Like

      • “You cannot be a Christian unless you acknowledge Yashua is God.”

        Well, you’ve certainly made yourself clear!! I get the feeling, reading that sentence, that I’ve been a very, very bad boy. I get the same feeling whenever I see the bumper sticker (I’m sure you know it!) “You cannot be a Catholic and be Pro-Choice.”

        I’d better straighten up and fly right or I’m really going to get it!

        OK, OK, “Uncle!”, you win. I believe that Yashua is God. (Phew! Looks like a dodged a bullet there.)

        Of course, being the wise-ass kid that I am I’m really going to piss you off and say, “and what does it mean to believe Yashua is God?” I’m really going to get it this time!! Especially because, before you get a chance to stick a bar of soap in my mouth I’m going to say, “To believe that Yashua is God is to believe that alone among the gods, Yashua is kind and merciful. Unlike the other gods, Yashua never punishes or destroys, he hold no one in contempt, he forgets all offences. Other gods maintain their power through fear. Yashua is patient, his power is meekness.”

        Woah!! I’m gonna catch a lickin’ now !

        Peace,

        Paul

        Like

      • His power is meekness? What the….? What the hell was all the Old Testament genocide and baby killing and war and pestilence, and rape, and whatnot…. did this god fellow have a change of heart?

        Like

      • Hello John,

        Surely you don’t need me to point out to you that the Bible doesn’t present a consistent depiction of the nature of God. Why should that be? Your suggestion that “this god fellow had a change of heart” seems pretty unlikely. May I present what I think is a much more probable explanation, which is the fact that there are many, many human beings — over the course of two millennia, some from fortunate circumstance, some from meagre circumstance, some who were fairly well adjusted, some who clearly showed the scars of a troubled life — who were involved in the creation of the Bible?

        Parenthetically, it has always struck me that the very word ‘Bible’ a misnomer. As everyone knows, the word ‘Bible’ means book — but the actual Bible is many, many books. Even those sections we consider a single book (the book of Genesis, for example) are obviously a hodge podge of many stories by many authors that somebody — or some group of somebodies — gathered together within a single collection. Even single sections of Genesis (the creation story, for example, chapters 1-3) must certainly have originally been at least two, and possibly three different stories.

        Viewed by today’s standards and considering modern tastes in literature, the Bible is in dire need of editing!

        There are a lot of books about God that do a much better job of presenting a cohesive rendering of God’s nature and personality. Tooting my own horn, I’ve considered collecting the reflections of my blog and compiling a book. Am I flattering myself when I boast that all those reflections, taken together, render a remarkably unified presentation?

        I suspect you’ll react to this comment with something along the lines of: “Oh Paul, I’ve known all of that for ages, I was just joshin’ when I said ‘change of heart’.”

        Peace,

        Paul

        Like

      • Said it before, and i’ll say it again….The more ou express your faith the more it’s clear: you’re a Deist, Paul. How on earth you call yourself a Christian is beyond me. You don’t believe in any Christian dogma. Sure you believe Jebus lived (i don’t) but so do Muslims and pretty much all the UFO religions.

        Like

      • Honest and true?? It kind of irritates me, John, that every time you and I get close to having a meeting of the minds you go and slap a label on me. In fact, it pisses me off. You label me and I end up feeling dismissed, disrespected and degraded. I’m hoping you’ll find it in your heart to stop sticking me in one of your intellectual cubbyholes.

        Maybe it’s a family trait. My daughter is happy as a clam if you call her ‘queer’ but she’ll blow her stack if you call her a lesbian. Wanna know what? I don’t call my daughter a lesbian and I’s be mighty obliged if you’d stop calling me a ‘Diest’.

        I’m not going to go on and on about it, though. I really think we could have a good conversation. You’re smart and passionate — two traits I greatly admire, plus you’ve got a sense of humor. More than once you’ve cracked me up.

        Why can’t we be friends?

        Peace,

        Paul

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      • I’m not dismissing you at all… Merely pointing out the conclusions I’m making from your statements. I have no problem with Deists. Jefferson was a Deist!

        Like

    • “Religion” is made up of yes flawed and bad people hence why true Christians align themselves with the redeemer and not a particular sect of faith i.e. Catholic, Lutheran…though many, many true and faithful believers are housed in the church what you have to understand is that their flaws have little to do with our Heavenly Father. And it is only love and a desire for the salvation of human kind that people spread the word of God and try to convert people. Your hatred will turn no one to your side or even bring you respect. Extremism seems to be the problem you have with the Christian faith if you have turned from God (which is obvious in your statements) and you want to live the life you have chosen then do so but don’t seep your hatred onto a community of people who have no hatred in their hearts for you. Being open-minded is a two way street. Grace, understanding and love are what can make the world a better place not hatred.
      Jenness

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  23. Ark’s Statement: ‘’You cannot be a Christian unless you acknowledge that Yashua is God. Please note that I have even been nice and added the capital ‘G’ for you.’’
    Captain Catholic: ‘’OK, OK, “Uncle!”, you win. I believe that Yashua is God. (Phew! Looks like a dodged a bullet there.)’’

    Captain Catholic’s statement is one of faith, not fact, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it.
    The entirety of the Christian faith and its religion, including some 40,000 different sects/denominations and their various interpretation of scripture and doctrine, whether formal or informal, is based on the above declaration. A declaration that was never even uttered or alluded to by the biblical character Yashua.

    In fact he, himself, dismisses the claim in Mark 10:18

    His claimed divinity, formalized by the Catholic Church and eventually written into Canonical Law is based primarily on the erroneous Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 7 which Christians claim pertains to Yashua’s supposed virgin birth. It does nothing of the sort, of course, and this is a known fact, and is nothing but a blatant plagiarism by the gospel writer
    The other more important aspect of this claim of godhood is based on an unverifiable resurrection, which, even if it were verifiable would still not prove Yashua was any sort of god let alone the god of the Christians.
    However, it was with this man-made assurance of god-hood, backed and initially funded by the might of the Roman Empire that Christianity eventually became a worldwide export, forced upon indigenous populations, (largely from behind the sword and gun ) across the globe.

    It is all a lie and not a shred of verifiable evidence can be produced to back a single biblical claim of this godhood.

    So, I reiterate.

    THIS IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

    YOU AND YOUR DAMNED RELIGION

    Are you understanding yet?

    Like

    • @Ark

      You’re one tough customer! You insisted on making me assure you that Jesus is God and then you tell me I’m wrong.

      I really don’t know what to do with literalists such as yourself. You have a binary mind, so a lot of declarations are going to confuse you. Don’t get down on yourself, though, the overwhelming majority of Christians have binary minds as well and are similarly confused.

      Which, by the way, is why I make provocative statements like the one I made after Sandy Hook to the effect that I was more concerned that people have unrestricted access to Bibles than I am about them having unrestricted access to guns.

      Ark, this is what I say to you: forgive the dirty deeds that the assholes in this world have inflicted on you and take your fair share of responsibility for the happiness of others, particularly the needy.

      Just stop fretting about the other stuff. What good does that do anybody?

      Peace,

      Paul

      Like

  24. You’re one tough customer! You insisted on making me assure you that Jesus is God and then you tell me I’m wrong.”

    No, I did not insist you said it at all. It is the number one tenet of your faith. If, however, you actually DON’T believe it then I would suggest you have grown up a little.

    ”I really don’t know what to do with literalists such as yourself. You have a binary mind, so a lot of declarations are going to confuse you. Don’t get down on yourself, though, the overwhelming majority of Christians have binary minds as well and are similarly confused.”

    You have nothing to ”DO” with me and I resent the tacit implications in your tone that you would even presume to do so. The only one among us who is even vaguely confused is the Christian. Although, once again, you are unable to grasp this concept and revel in the condescending nature of your ilk.

    ”Ark, this is what I say to you: forgive the dirty deeds that the assholes in this world have inflicted on you and take your fair share of responsibility for the happiness of others, particularly the needy.”

    LOL! Inflicted? On Moi? You are so dense.Truly, you are an apologists wet dream.
    When these same assholes – and this includes their followers – admit they have been part of a lie for the better part of 2000 years I’ll crack a beer with my blog pal, John, raise a glass, smile, say, ”Eff em all” and consider it a job well done. This might well open the door to real enlightenment.

    ”Just stop fretting about the other stuff. What good does that do anybody?”

    And that final, utterly callous and mindless sentence confirms what I stated up front and damns your religion and its rather silly followers, simply because you are too inculcated to understand. And this is why atheists will continue to take you and your ilk to the cleaners in the hope that kids wont be subject to this diatribe and people will be encouraged to walk away from your kind.
    Go read this blokes story and learn some humility.

    http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/

    Like

    • “Go read this blokes story and learn some humility.”

      Well, I immediately clicked on your link to the ‘Finding Truth’ home page and saw that it was a blog with a great deal of content. I’ll gladly read “this bloke’s story” if you’d be willing to break off, say, a 2,000-3,000 word chunk of it. Tell you what, I’ll even go as high as 5,000 words but I’m not going to take a class.

      I did, however, read the post at the top entitled “Contra Apologia: Christ Crossing the Rubicon- Standards of Historicity” I see that you’ve also read it and commented on the fact that your comments end up in his spam filter. Shit like that happens to me, too, so I can commiserate.

      It wasn’t anybody’s story, and you’re wanting me to read a ‘story’ but you’ll have to give me a clue. How do I navigate from the home page to the story you want me to read?

      While I’m waiting to have you solve that little mystery for me, I’ll give you my reaction to the March 13th post which we’ve both read. He seems to have gone to an awful lot of effort to demonstrate something that I, and that most knowledgeable people, would quickly and happily concede without explanation or elaboration. Namely, that we know virtually nothing about the ‘Historical Jesus’. I know that there are lots and lots of “scholars” who are willing to go on wild goose chases in an effort to dredge up some crumb or another about him but the best any of them can do is provide us with wild speculation or wishful thinking.

      This isn’t hyperbole, it’s my honest belief: We will learn about ET’s before we learn anything more about the ‘Historical Jesus’.

      I slogged through the entirety of his tedious and repetitive post and I’m wondering what I’m supposed to do now. He says nobody knows much of anything about the Historical Jesus. I say nobody knows much of anything about the Historical Jesus. Historians say nobody knows much of anything about the Historical Jesus. Would it help if I wrote a long boring post about the futility of searching for the Historical Fred Flintstone?

      What I did notice, and would like to comment on, are some misunderstandings he has about the practice of Faith. For example, he says, “This fact [of a dearth of knowledge about the Historical Jesus], which doesn’t seem to be that difficult to accept for those not engaged to the faith, poses a significant threat to the faithful.”

      Ark, I know lots and lots and lots of ‘faithful’ and none of the faithful I know feel significantly threatened by the fact that Jesus didn’t make a significant historical mark. I’ll admit that, for many, it’s a point of curiosity. I’m sure there are lots of folks who’d like to have a video tape of the Sermon on the Mount show up on YouTube. Wouldn’t that be marvelous??? Trouble is, it ain’t gonna happen!

      Personally, I’m happy that we DON’T know. Historical knowledge, in my estimation, would be more of a hinderance than a help. Christians have done fine for the past 2,000 years encountering the Mystery of the Incarnation without knowing much about the “Jewish Carpenter”.

      Now, I shall wait for you to direct me to what you want me to read in “this bloke’s story”.

      Peace,

      Paul

      Like

      • If you look you will find Nate’s journey out of Christianity.
        The post you perused was not written by Nate, as I hope you figured out, and at this point I have no interest discussing it.
        If you feel like making a comment on the relevant blog, maybe I will respond.

        Nate has been where you are regarding your religion (although he wasn’t Catholic) and more…a lot more.

        Yet again, you deftly two step around the issues we have been discussing, ensuring ( or at least you believe so) yourself daisy fresh and untouched, by once more not confronting the core that your faith is based on an insidious lie, a lie developed and pushed by a (still) corrupt organisation, of which you are a member.
        And I reiterate, every time you try to push the man-god diatribe you and your ilk will be resisted.
        Truth always prevails…eventually. It is unlikely that the demise of belief in your man-god will happen in our lifetimes, but it is already being eroded, and as advancements in communication continue to ‘shrink’ our world so Christianity will be forced to face the reality that is has continually abused those it claimed it served.

        Start here and read however much you want. Or don’t. It’s all the same to me in the long run.

        http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/how-it-happened-my-deconversion-part-1/

        The Ark

        Like

      • Oh, and,Paul, you might as well take this thought with you once more while you are reading.

        THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS CHRISTIANS AND YOUR DAMNED RELIGION

        Is it beginning to register yet?

        Like

      • Thanks for the link. I will be happy to read it and I’ll get back to you with my reaction. I did not, in fact, figure out that the post I’d read was “not written by Nate” but, at your suggestion, I have made a comment on the “relevant blog”. Maybe you’ll respond. I’m hoping that who ever wrote the piece will respond first.

        You’ve pointed out that religious organizations (with the emphatic inclusion of the Catholic Church) have been controlled for centuries by corrupt men who were bent on exploiting the gullibility of those entrusted to their charge….

        … and this is supposed to surprise me??????

        Peace,

        Paul

        Like

      • I promised to give you a reaction to Nate’s story, and I’ll make good on my promise here.

        I read ‘Deconversion’ Parts I and II. I’ve posted comments to him and now I’ll post this comment to you:

        I realize I’ve only started what I’m sure is a very long story, and I may come to an epiphany later on in the story; but, so far, it’s a story I’ve heard many times before. In fact, I’ve lived that story. It’s the story of growing up, of becoming an adult and of realizing that there were a lot of things that you took for truth when you were a kid that are simply false.

        I do empathize with Nate’s feelings of betrayal because I know that feeling from my own entrance into adulthood. My overall reaction is to say, “How true, how true. It is a hard, hard thing to escape that madhouse we call childhood. It is a hard, hard thing to be a human being.”

        Soon enough I’ll go back and read some more of his story. Perhaps, as you hope, it will teach me some humility.

        I’ll keep you posted.

        Peace,

        Paul

        Like

  25. ”You’ve pointed out that religious organizations (with the emphatic inclusion of the Catholic Church) have been controlled for centuries by corrupt men who were bent on exploiting the gullibility of those entrusted to their charge….

    … and this is supposed to surprise me??????”

    I am fast approaching the point where your obtuse nature has tried my patience enough.
    I mention the Catholic Church simply because it was the first church, or THE church if you prefer. That you happen to be member s incidental. That you are a Christian is Paramount.
    That you seem to take the emphasis on your church personally I could care less.
    I hope I have made myself clear on this point?

    If you are so blase with your negative throw away lines directed at your own church then why do you still belong? It isn’t only the politics of religion that is corrupt but the polemic.
    And as you acknowledge this, why do you still worship a man-god that is largely the narrative construct of the religious organisation you belong to?
    It is all very well you admitting no surprise at the depth of corruption of your faith and its religious organisations, but to continue to be part of it makes you even more corrupt, simply because you ARE aware.

    Once again, Paul…

    THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS CHRISTIANS AND YOUR DAMNED RELIGION

    Has it registered yet?

    Like

    • Ark,

      Here’s an idea: If you open your mind to the possibility that I’m trying to tell you something that you’re resisting, something that you don’t want to think about, it might be possible for you to consider the possibility that something other than my “obtuse nature” is blocking communication between us. You claim to be “fast approaching” the state of impatience, but I don’t see it that way at all. My experience is that every one of your comments to me has been fashioned out of your impatience.

      You repeatedly sign off by typing a formulation of your thesis in caps and then insinuate that I’m having trouble understanding you. That’s the only possibility that you’re willing to consider.

      Your thesis falls apart once you consider the fact that the treacherous, exploitive and manipulative behavior you notice in Christians is evidenced in the behavior of non-Christians as well. Do you honestly believe that the kind person who utilizes religious power to victimize others would be powerless to cause hurt if there were no Christianity? If that’s what you believe then we disagree — and not because I’m uncomprehending. I believe that organizations, tribes, families, nations, businesses and, yes, churches (or temples, ashrams and so on) will never be eliminated because we human beings can not possibly survive without assembling ourselves into groups. Furthermore, I believe that groups MUST have something we refer to as ‘politics’. In conclusion, I believe that wherever there is politics there’s a vulnerability to political corruption.

      The solution to corruption is not to eliminate politics — that would be to eliminate the disease by killing the patient; neither is the solution to religious hypocrisy the elimination of religion. You notice the correspondence between power and corruption within the Church — certainly you must notice the same correspondence outside the Church.

      If I were to say, “You will please God if you ask to have your sins forgiven and forgive the sins of others” I will have said something profoundly true and supremely (now we’re back to John’s original discussion) ‘useful’. How about if I were to say, “You will spend eternity in torment unless you learn to define ‘sin’ as ‘whatever offends me’ and come to believe that you can only be forgiven by submitting to my authority.”

      Is the meaning of the first sentence identical to the meaning of the second? You seem to be unwilling to notice the distinction. I would say that the first statement is an expression of religion whereas the second statement is an expression of religious hypocrisy. You see no difference between religion and religious hypocrisy. I do. That is where we differ. You’re convinced that my insistence that the two things are different is an example of me being obtuse, of me being able to ‘register’ your clarity and logic. We’re looking at the same thing, religious hypocrisy, and we agree that it a horrible problem. You take the stand that the problem is religion, you accept as ‘undeniable’ the notion that the way to eliminate hypocrisy is to eliminate religion.

      It can only be stupidity that leads me to disagree with you. It must be because I’m obtuse that I say:

      THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS HUMAN BEINGS AND YOUR DAMNED HYPOCRISY AND CORRUPTION

      It may be that the only way to eliminate hypocrisy is to eliminate humanity; but are you quite certain that it is only my lack of intelligence that causes me to hope for another alternative?

      Peace,

      Paul

      Like

      • Hi Paul! Out of interest, could you read my new post (Brain orgasm, anyone?) and jump in. I’ll understand if you don’t, but i’d be interested to hear some responses from theists. No, this is not a set-up… the lions are getting cleaned today 😉

        Like

      • @ Paul
        You can use semantics ’til your head explodes; I don’t care.
        You are avoiding the central issue of this whole discussion. You are a Christian. To be a Christian you are obliged to believe that Yashua is God.

        And this is the lie that Christianity is based upon. This is what Christianity asserts and is yet to provide a single verifiable piece of evidence…never mind proof, just evidence, to back this.

        Meantime they have,in one form or another, over the past 2000 years, forced Christianity upon humanity until it has become as institutionalized as the Pope and the Rolling Stones, and only the latter have any merit worth believing in.

        So, until you realise – though I suspect , deep down, you know that I am correct, that what you believe is a lie, then you and your damn religion are, and will continue to be, the problem.

        Note I didn’t use the caps this time.

        Succinct enough.? Super duper.

        Oh, and are you getting it yet?

        Like

  26. As far as Nate’s deconversion goes, I am unable to rationalize your metaphors. Childhood?
    The posts are about him leaving Christianity, about him asking perfectly ordinary biblical questions and realizing that the bible is little more than one big erroneous diatribe.

    Like

  27. What makes you think Jesus should have known anything about physics?

    He didn’t even know when he was going to be returning (Matthew 24:36).

    The Jesus of the gospels isn’t even close to being omniscient.

    Like

  28. Pingback: Christianity’s (other) god-awfully awkward, nightmarish problem | the superstitious naked ape

  29. UPenn, where Bono gave his commencement address in 2004, is NOT Penn State. As a UPenn grad it bugs me to no end when people fail to make the distinction.

    Like

  30. Actually, He gave us a lot of good advice.
    I believe He was too busy healing people, teaching, and explaining how to save your soul to worry about the little stuff. He figured you’d learn that on your own–eventually.

    Like

  31. Not that John (or any of his allies) actually need my help, but I could feel my brain turning to jelly as I read some of these pro-religion posts, so I just have to jump in.

    1. If Jesus really was totally human AND totally god, then he must have been omniscient — it goes with the definition of being god. If you’re not omniscient, then you’re not god. If Jesus was not omniscient, then he wasn’t god. Therefore, if he was god, he would intimately understand physics ‘cuz he thought that s*** up when he created everything, right? The assertion that Jesus was all (or half or one-third or any amount) god is the proof that Christians believe he was omniscient. How could it mean anything else? They could not have meant he was some lesser breed of god, because Christianity is a monotheistic religion (this despite the Holy Trinity, but that’s another can of worms), so he could only have been the “one, true god.”

    2. Jesus didn’t write the Bible, so if he existed, we have no bloody idea what he actually said. We know what other people claim he said (if he said anything at all). The books that would become the Bible started being written years and years and years and years after he was gone (if he existed at all), by other people, and were based on oral history — or what we today call hearsay.

    3. In addition to local folklore, Jesus/God was supposed have inspired the actual Bible writers to pen the stories they did, so he easily could have told them to include information on the DNA double helix and the nature of pulsars and a really great recipe for ice cream sundaes and to bet on the Giants against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. And when his stenographers asked, “But Lord, what is this ‘Breaking Bad’ and the ’66 Mustang and comic books of which you speak?” god would have said, “I am the Lord thy God! Shut up and write what I tell you. It’ll make sense in the 21st century.”

    I really don’t see why this is up for debate. John is right: why didn’t Jesus share anything original or useful? Because he had nothing.

    Like

    • Nothing at least that hadn’t already been said before. Buddha, Confucius, the Greeks (and others) all said the same things long before J apparently lived.

      Still, it always makes me laugh when the Jesus = God things is raised. As such:

      God sacrificed himself, to himself, to save humanity from himself.

      Makes perfect sense!

      Like

      • Of course you are trying to change the embarrassing subject, RommelV, and I will indulge you only far enough to point out that you cannot “prove” one fairy tale by referring to another fairy tale. Also, the writers of the New Testament had many years’ perspective to tailor what they made up to fit some of the old prophecies. Also, you’re totally forgetting that claiming to be the Messiah was a cottage industry back around that time. Jesus was hardly alone in claiming divinity; the Middle East was swarming with guys claiming to be The One. Somebody had to be from the “correct” region, just by the laws of chance.

        But, enough of your diversionary tactics. Let’s back to the matter at hand.

        You avoided addressing my legitimate points:
        Even though Jesus was supposedly god, he said nothing that any other Bronze Age con man couldn’t make up. If he was god, he could have given the primitives astrophysics and the secret of electricity. He could have said something important. All he had to do was include the formula for, say, the polio vaccine, or something else useful, instead of pandering to his audience of downtrodden poverty-stricken mobs by telling them that the meek will inherit the Earth, or “helpfully” telling lepers to heal themselves. Whatta guy!

        Like

      • Chance, big word. Just kidding. Do you know that Jesus fulfilling only 8 of the Messianic prophecies as “1 out of 1017 (a 1 followed by 17 zeros). This is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars 2 feet deep, marking one of them, mixing them all up and having a blind-folded person select the marked one at random the first time”. HMMM.. This is one lucky guy!

        Anyway, it is not may intention to divert you to the topic. But it is very related. It is not just the things that he said, but the things he did. The legacy he left. Just Him fulfilling ALL the prophecies of the promised Messiah to the very detail makes you think – maybe, MAYBE, this man truly is special. But just as I said, that is just the start. If God permits, I will tackle more of the things he did said and what they mean.

        Sure he did not teach of astrophysics, or chemical science. That’s not His intention. If you will listen closely, that’s not why He came. He said that he can send a batallion of angels to save him from the cross but he did not. Because he had a mission. His mission is to die in substitute for the sinners.

        Now, I know you will respond accusing me again of telling a superhero saving the world. But the idea itself, listen.. The idea of a God, all-powerful, leaving His glory in heaven, and became one of the poorest man, to die the most shameful and painful death instead of man. Teaching to serve, not to be served. That to be the greatest, you have be the least. To give your left cheek, etc, etc. Isn’t that fascinating?

        Like

      • JOE,

        You, sir, are a strawman. You are misrepresenting Jesus’s intention and attack him for it.
        Here you are suggesting things that he should’ve done to prove he is God. You suggest he teach science for example, and how things worked on the natural law of physics to prove that he is God. My question to you is – if he did, will you believe him, that he is God? Well, I won’t! I would say he’s just simply ahead of his time. When Ampere, Volt, and Ohm was able to explain electricity, we didn’t say they were God for becoming so intelligent to know those things before everybody else knew.
        What Jesus did, however, are things out of the natural law (supernatural, yes). Things that only of deity can do. As if making the blind see is not enough for you, or making the disabled walk, or feeding a thousand men with a few pieces of bread and fish, or RESURRECTING a DEAD person is not enough! Or prophesying his own death, and resurrecting himself the third day!
        Second, his teachings. I would not find a person, directly or indirectly, that has not been influenced by his teachings – such as humility, love, and compassion. To love your enemies, to give the other cheek, to serve rather than be served, to be the least if one wishes to be the greatest, and forgiving to another, and loving one another. To not be hypocrites – to help not to get praise. And many other more…

        Like

      • No sir, Jesus is no fairy tale. Christians are called to an intellectual faith, not a blind one. Here are some of the great thinkers that were brought to Christ by their minds:

        The man who made the university of Harvard famous – was Dr. Simon Greenleaf. He became a Christian through trying to refute Jesus Christ as the Eternal Word and the resurrection. Finally, after trying to do it, he came to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the best established events of history, according to the laws of legal evidence administered in the courts of justice.

        C.S. Lewis, the literary genius of our age, was the professor of medieval and renaissance literature at Oxford. He was a giant in his field. No one could question his intellectual capabilities. He became a believer in Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord when he tried to refute the reliability of the New Testament and he couldn’t. And he said, “I was one of the most reluctant converts, but I was brought to Jesus Christ because of my mind.”

        Lord Caldecote, the Lord Chief Justice of England, a man that held the highest offices that anyone could hold in the legal systems of England, said, ” … as often as I have tried to examine the evidence for Christianity, I have come to believe it as a fact beyond dispute.”

        Thomas Arnold was the headmaster of a major varsity and university for 14 years. He is an historian and the author of the famous three-volume series, the History of Rome. He said, “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

        Dr. Werner von Braun, the German scientist was one of the creators of the American Space Program. He said he never really became a scientist until he came to know Jesus Christ personally as Savior and God.

        Sir Frederick Kenyon was a man who was second to no one in the ability and the training to make authoritative statements about manuscripts of literature in history. The former curator and director of the British Museum, he said, “The last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us as they were written now has been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may now be regarded as finally established.”

        Like

    • Response:

      1. If one did not mention something does not mean he does not know it. Even if Jesus did not mention physics, that does not mean he doesn’t know it. It is not his intention after all to lecture natural science.
      2. Contrary to what you said, the writers of the NT scriptures are first hand inteviewees and eyewitnesses of Christ. If Christ wrote it, you may label him as a forger or deceiver. However, Jesus’s history was written by 4 writers, 3 of which are his disciples. The Bible says – in the presence of 2 or 3 witnesses, let the matter be established. It is the same concept we apply today on the rule of law. Here’s a good presentation of the historical accuracy of Jesus resurrection for example:
      http://answering-islam.org/Debates/Deedat_McDowell.html
      3. He could’ve. But again, that is not his intention. He left us, however, with other evidences. See:
      http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps which includes: manuscript evidence, archeological evidence, prophetic evidence, and statistical evidence

      Like

  32. It all boils back to— Who was God speaking to when He said “Let there be light~!”

    (and suddenly you could see for miles, wow!).

    Perhaps my theory of an ever godier God creating the god after isn’t so dumb after all?

    Perhaps ol’ Jeez really was/is the end of the line …

    Like

  33. John,
    Sorry I’m a bit late with discovering this outstanding post of yours.

    Sadly, the reason the Christians handbook is so useless is that it was written by ignorant savages over 2,000 years ago. We (some of us, at least) have learned a few things since . . .

    Lest I forget – thanks for dropping by my blog now and then and leaving a comment, or two.

    Like

  34. Let me give you first an example of the OT’s prophecy of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. It is listed number 9 on the list. The prophecy was stated in Micah 5:2

    But, thou, Behtlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.

    And the fulfillment, you can find in Luke 2:4-20

    So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
    He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
    While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
    and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
    An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
    Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
    This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
    Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
    “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
    When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
    So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
    When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
    But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
    The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

    The fact of what happened is this: It is apparently not the choice of Joseph and Mary that Jesus be born in Bethlehem. It was forced upon them by Caesar Augustus’ taxation decree which required Joseph to leave his home in the city of Nazareth and return to his place of origin to pay the tax. Please read more on the list I gave above and search your Bible while you do so. It is a fascinating book, don’t you agree? Will you consider it perhaps by looking on few evidences the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Bible?

    Here’s some points why we think the Bible is trustworthy:
    http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps

    Like

      • You seem pretty obsessed by prophecy which, unfortunately, always suffers confirmation bias. I’m sure if you wanted to believe in rainbow-farting unicorns you’d find some way to believe in them. That doesn’t, however, make rainbow-farting unicorns operationally valid in the real world.

        Now, back to reality: this post has nothing to do with prophecy. Perhaps, if you can, you could name something new or even marginally useful which Jesus actually said. Anything, anything at all…. name something new which he apparently said.

        Like

      • John,

        So what we have here is a list of Old Testament Scriptures. Which foretold the coming of the Messiah. What he will be like and what he will go through. Some are vague, but some are very specific. I need not prove to you the difference of time when these Scriptures were written to the time Jesus was born. We have history and archeology that has already proven that. Second, we have the living proof of their authenticity: the Jews. The Jews use the same OT Scriptures but reject Jesus as their Messiah. And the amazing thing, too, is that even their rejection of the Messiah is also foretold, and the giving of the covenant to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Please see:

        Psalm 118:22-23
        Isaiah 8:14-15, 28:16
        Matthew 21:42-43
        Acts 4:11
        Romans 9:32-33
        Ephesians 2:20
        1 Peter 2:6-8

        And you see this now, do you? Do you now know why there is still Judaism of the Israelites, and Christianity of the Christians? Because Jesus “came unto his own, but his own received him not”.

        Like

      • This is one misconception of Christianity. People thought that Christianity is based on blind faith. We are not called based on heresies, but to faith backed up with evidence.
        If you are objective and open enough, I would like to invite you to read through the sections of http://www.faithfacts.org and tell me what you think.

        Yours Truly,
        Rommel

        Like

      • Hello JOHN,

        I thought you are looking for evidence. You saying Jesus did not do anything new, means there is nothing special about him and Christianity. Well, let me know of you know of any book who can prophesy as accurate as the Bible do, and Jesus just fulfilling every single prophecy of the Messiah? How can it be biased? Can you explain? Did you even look at the list? Did you investigate yourself? You even did not try to refute each of them. JOE refuted it and that’s good.
        I told you, I only gave you a starting point, so you consider the Bible. Did Jesus do some things that are significant. Yes, he did! And even the critics can’t deny that Jesus is really something special. Phrases like, he is good moral teacher, etc, etc.

        Like

      • You haven’t answered my question… rather continue to waste space here.

        Name something new that Jesus allegedly said which hadn’t already been said before?

        I’m not being “anti-Jesus” here, I really couldn’t care less if the man lived or not, its just a very simple question: name something new (or even remotely useful) he actually said…

        Like

      • JOHN,

        You mean something he has said that is nothing new? I can list you with tons, but it is not whether it is new or not. But whether it has affected the lives of many people. You can debate that they are not new whenever you like, but it makes you wonder, was Jesus even influenced by these supposedly people or even have the means to copy. That is not the point, however. But let me add that it is not just the things he just said, but the things he did. The legacy he left. Even his greatest critics can’t deny his contribution to man. Some says he is a good moral teacher. But as Lewis said, he didn’t intend to be just a good moral teacher. He claimed something more significant, to the point that the Jews label him blasphemous. He claimed equality with God. He claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah. So not even saying anything, but fulfilling everything prophesied about Him, I hope you realize what I presented to you – that this man truly is something special. That’s just the start. If you will listen closely to everything He said, it will make perfect sense. Yes, even the ‘tantrum’ you said he did when the fig tree did not bear fruit while out of its season. 🙂

        Like

      • Sorry John. Here are some:

        Number 10: He Takes It Personally

        “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
        Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
        And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
        (Matthew 25.35-40 ESV)

        Jesus kept and promoted God’s passion for the oppressed, hungry, widows and orphans that permeate the Hebrew Scritpures.
        In fact, it was so much a part of the fiber of His being that to care for them was to care for Jesus. Worse: to not care for Him was to turn your back on Jesus Himself. He takes it personally.

        Number 9: The True Path to Greatness

        “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
        For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
        (Mark 10.42-45 ESV)

        A lesser known but equally great among Jesus quotes, this verse teaches the true path to greatness is seeking to serve, leading with humility, and giving of self.

        Number 8: The Main Motif of Jesus Life

        “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
        (Matthew 4.17 ESV)

        Spoken at the introduction of His ministry, Jesus introduced what would become the theme of His life: The Kingom of Heaven. Here, he proclaims it; in His teaching He explained it; in His parables He illustrated it; in His miracles, death, and resurrection he demonstrated it.

        Number 7: The Antidote to Worry

        “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
        Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
        (Matthew 6.31-34 ESV)

        Jesus knew us well. We are, by default, worriers. He taught often and well on the peace and freedom from worry that only He can give.

        Number 6: A Better Way to Live

        “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
        “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
        “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
        “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
        “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
        “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
        “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
        “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
        “Blessed are you when others 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 they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
        (Matthew 5.3-12 ESV)

        Often misunderstood because we don’t understand the Jewish way in which Jesus taught, these Jesus quotes from the passage we call the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ are nonetheless often quoted and provide a truly counter-cultural way to live.

        Number 5: Gain the World and Forfeit Yourself

        “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
        For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
        (Mark 8.34-36 ESV)

        This Jesus quote cracks the top half simply by virtue of its closing phrase, which gets cited for any circumstance in which someone has traded their own humanity and values to gain something of only temporary worth and pleasure.

        Number 4: Judge Not..

        “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?
        You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”
        (Matthew 7.1-5 ESV)

        Among Jesus quotes this is trotted out by some of the most unlikely people at the most unlikely of times in the most unlikely places. It’s usually quoted when someone is feeling criticized or condemned.
        Of note is that Jesus wasn’t saying never to critically evaluate, but rather not to be judgemental in spirit, which is an altogether entirely different matter.

        Number 3: Love Your Enemies

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
        (Matthew 5.43-45 ESV)

        The most radical of Jesus quotes, less often quoted, least often practiced.
        Jesus great conspiracy to was to undermine evil with good. Would to God that His followers would do it.

        Number 2: The Golden Rule

        “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
        (Matthew 7.12 ESV)

        One may argue that this needs to be at the top of the list, and they may well be right by virtue of popularity. But notice the similarity to number one, and I think this is actually number one restated in a different way.
        Ah, to treat others as we would want to be treated. This would change humanity forever.

        Number 1: The Bible, in a Word.

        “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
        (Matthew 22.37-40 ESV)

        Love.
        God.
        Your neighbor as yourself.
        The “Law and the Prophets” was a shorthand way of saying “The entire Hebrew scritpures. Jesus said it all could be summed up in these two commands.
        Further yet, using a Jewish teaching method known as a kesher connection, Jesus linked the two. In other words, he was saying that to love your neighbor was to love God. You couldn’t do one without the other.
        The Bible, in a word.
        Love.

        Like

      • Hi Rommel, seems everything you’ve put here revolves around the Golden Rule. It’s a wonderful idea, a fine philosophy, but it was far from being new. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

        If you look, and by that I mean really look and do your research, you’ll find there’s absolutely nothing Jesus said that hadn’t been said before, particularly by Confucius, Laozi, Siddhartha Gautama, and multiple Greek philosophers.

        So, again, if you can actually find something new or truly revolutionary which Jesus apparently said then by all means let me know. Until then, I’m afraid to tell you his message was just a re-hash of the same thoughts many, many, many teachers and thinkers and philosophers had had before.

        Like

      • Hello John,

        Good morning. I’ve listed 10. And you only got 1? If it is ok to you, can you list the equivalent person who said the same thing for every number I have listed and what date? Appreciate it.
        But putting those aside, wonderful words, don’t you agree?

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      • Contraire… 10, 9, 4, 3, 2, 1 all hype back to the golden rule which i have shown you was an age-old idea reproduced in countless more ancient texts.

        5 is poetic but ultimately meaningless, although it also hypes back to the Golden rule.

        6, 7 and 8 say nothing at all. Poetic gibberish.

        So, you’ve not demonstrated anything new or marginally useful which Jesus actually said.

        Want to try again?

        Like

      • Number 10 for example states — You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself… But continues… On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

        Now you probably know the 10 Commandments even though you don’t believe in Christianity.

        1. I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.
        2. You shall not make idols
        3. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain
        4. Keep holy the Sabbath day
        5. Honor your father and mother
        6. You shall not murder
        7. You shall not commit adultery
        8. Thou shall not steal
        9. Thou shall not bear false witness agains your neighbor (lie)
        10. Thou shall not covet your neighbors possessions

        And you probably know that there is more to this list. For example, looking at a woman with lust, you already sin the sin of adultery. Or getting so angry at someone, you wish him harm, you already commit murder. Why was that so? Jesus said:

        For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies.
        Matthew 15:119

        It is the HEART that makes someone bad or good. Perhaps, if man’s heart can be transformed, the world will be a better place to live in. Does it make sense? Jesus, therefore summarized the 10 Commandments, and it was already stated. The key word is — LOVE. Love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself, this is the summary of all morality.

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      • 5 is poetic but ultimately meaningless, although it also hypes back to the Golden rule.

        >> How was this meaningless? What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but lose his own soul? What does it profit if you gain riches, fame, greatness, if you lose your own humanity, your family that matters more, or happiness itself? Or life to eternity, if you believe in one? What does it profit if you gain all the luxury if in return you lost honor and love.
        >> I don’t know how you connect this to the golden rule.

        6, 7 and 8 say nothing at all. Poetic gibberish.

        >> I understand that they mean nothing to you. Perhaps the golden rule shouldn’t mean anything to you, either. Being humble, being merciful, being pure in heart. They are all vain ideas. Dying in exchange of a stranger, much more an enemy, that won’t profit you anything! I bet you won’t do it. Why would you? You have only one life. After that, that’s it. You’re done. The world will always be unfair for you.
        That’s why these words are not for you. I get it.

        Like

      • I can appreciate a good piece of poetic meanderings as much as the next man, but you have simply failed to identify anything new or marginally useful which Jesus said. How is what you’ve listed any different to this: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Siddhartha Gautama.

        Confucius, Laozi, Siddhartha Gautama, and a multitude of Greek philosophers said it all long before Jesus, and they often said it much better. You also haven’t acknowledged that the Golden Rule was voiced long, long, long before Jesus plagiarized it.

        So, again, can you actually name a single thing new or truly useful which Jesus apparently said?

        I’ll give you one last chance.

        Like

      • JOHN,

        I can name more. But even with the ones I presented, I don’t know if you didn’t see them or you just choose to ignore since they don’t support your argument.

        9 for example is one of my favorites, as an aspiring leader myself:

        “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.
        For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

        But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. — This is leadership at its best. This is not so at the time of Jesus, especially with the Romans. If you are an emperor or a governor, people serve you. In a wisp of the hand, you can do as you wish. But Jesus said, if you want to be greatest, you have to be the least. If you wish to be the first, then be a servant to all. I bet there would be no corrupt politicians if this is the heart of every leader. Again, I don’t know how you will connect this to the golden rule. This is an entirely different concept.

        Guess, I’ll give you one last word from Christ. I can list more, but you choose not to see.

        Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid that shall not be known.
        Matthew 10:26

        This is a good concept. Justice at its best. To shame the man who thought he got away with his crime. No, there is no secret that will not be revealed. This is impossible in your world as an atheist. There will always be a perfect crime, and corrupt authorities. And people will never know. I bet you are struggling to comprehend how unfair it will be for weak people to stand against the powerful. But God knows everything and He is a just God. Whatever justice our system can’t give, God will deliver.

        Good day John! You said you were a Catholic and you will always be counted as one, a Christian. If it is not much of a burden for you, and I wish you could spare some time to read this, please do. And let me know what you think.

        http://www.goodseed.com/products/atp-eng-book-eBook/

        You can download the pdf format, a kindle ebook format, or an epub (iphone, ipad) format. 🙂 Oh and everyone who wish can download this, please. It’s free. 🙂

        Sincerely,
        RommelV

        Like

      • You see, Matthew 10:26 is nothing new… It’s just the concept of Karma repackaged. That originated with Shramana (different to the Vedic traditions) which pre-dates Buddhism and Jainism.

        Once again, nothing new. These ideas were around loooooong before Jesus.

        Now, I’ve given you ample opportunity to name something actually new he apparently said, and you’ve not been able to. I think that just about does it.

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      • Can you state what he said? How about the LEADERSHIP thing. I’m sure you’ll find one as well. Please be specific. The person who said it, what he/she said, and the date in history. 🙂 You are generalizing and that’s an easy way to dodge.

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      • Karma is the concept of moral causation, of a great balancing and, ultimately, of higher justice. Hinduism, Buddhism, Seikhism, and Jainism all teach it but its origins date back to the Vedas of 1,000–700 BCE. I am not going to write you an essay on the history of the Eastern religions but if you’re an honest enquirer (which I seriously doubt) you’ll find it all and see every line Jesus said about having a confidence in a larger reckoning and the necessity of right actions is nothing but a rehash of this theme; a repacking of an otherwise quite beautiful idea that had been in wide circulation (and taught) for over a millennium before he supposedly lived.

        You see, you can’t identify a single thing Jesus said which was actually useful, or genuinely new, revolutionary, or truly original and unique. Nothing. Why? Because Jesus didn’t say a single thing that was useful or unique which wasn’t already widely known and taught. It’s an important point because one would expect a god-man to actually say something that had never been said before in history… something astonishing. One would expect a god-man to demonstrate a knowledge so unique that his claims could not possibly be questioned.

        Alas….

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      • 1. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”

        You haven’t said something about this one. Any saying of old with a connection or resemblance? The golden rule is a different concept. The golden rule states do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you. Karma is a different concept as well. It states that whatever you do today will affect of what you will become.
        But this one states, a good leader is a good servant. A leader is not to be served, but serves and gives his life to his constituents. Just that simple, but very contrary to the conventional idea of being a ruler.

        2. Love your enemy – is also a different concept from the golden rule. Jesus said that even if they do you bad, do them good. Not because you ought to to do to others what you want others to do to yourself. But.. I don’t know. This one even escapes logic except that may be you may win your enemies. By loving even your abusive dad, or nagging wife. Applies especially to Christians perhaps so they can win them over to Christ.

        3. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but lose his own soul?
        You haven’t said anything about this one too. You said that it is the same as what Siddharta said about happiness, but I don’t see any connection. Sidd simply said that happiness should be shared. Jesus said, don’t exchange riches, and fame, or even short-term happiness for what matters more. So again, please be specific. State how it is just the same thing. I haven’t cited anything new here yet.

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    • Do you want more? Jesus to die crucifixion. At the time the Psalms was written, the way people execute a criminal is through stoning. Not piercing. Long before the Romans invented crucifixion, it was written there in Psalm 22:15-18. Remember how the soldiers took Christ’s vest and tear it, and cast lots on it? Mere coincidence?

      Fulfillment:
      Matthew 27:34-50
      John 19:28-30

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      • You do know that there was no worldwide census taken by any Roman emperor, let alone Caesar Augustus. The Romans were meticulous record-keepers and loved their taxation system, so there is no way they could have forgotten to record something so monumental as a worldwide census for taxation purposes.

        And the Gospels mention Jesus being born during the reign of Herod the Great, and even meeting him — but Herod the Great died in 4 BCE.

        For a supposedly divine text, the Bible is riddled with “holy” errors, proving that god is not infallible, and therefore not a god at all. QED

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      • Hello JOE,

        I don’t know where you are basing your data. But there are extra-biblical evidences that census was taken to Judea at the time of Jesus, namely, a Jewish historian named Josephus. He recorded that in the year 6-7, Quirinus, a Roman senator, became governor of Syria, while an assistant named Coponius was assigned governor of the newly created Judea province. These governors were assigned to conduct a tax census for the Emperor in Syria and Judea.
        This was referred as the Census of Quirinus which is the enrollment of the Roman provinces of Syria and Judea for tax purposes. It was taken during the reign of Augustus. Please see:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census_of_Quirinius

        Regarding Herod dying in 4BCE, you raised a very good point. What you didn’t realize, however, is that no one knows exactly when Jesus was born. Dates as early as 18 BC as well as later than 1 AD have been postulated, with some degree of valid documentation.
        Let me quote and unquote:
        “Although scholars generally believe that Christ was born some years before A.D. 1, the historical evidence is too sketchy to allow a definitive dating” (Doggett 1992, 579). According to the Gospel of Matthew (2:1,16) Herod the Great was alive when Jesus was born, and ordered the Massacre of the Innocents in response to his birth. Blackburn & Holford-Strevens fix Herod’s death shortly before Passover in 4 BC (2003, 770), and say that those who accept the story of the Massacre of the Innocents sometimes associate the star that led the Biblical Magi with the planetary conjunction of 15 September 7 BC or Halley’s comet of 12 BC; even historians who do not accept the Massacre accept birth under Herod as a tradition older than the written gospels (p. 776).”

        Like

      • JOE,

        Here’s another answer:
        http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/jesus-birth-and-when-herod-the-great-really-died

        The point of the fact is this: The point you raised is RESOLVABLE.
        P.S. I want to correct you that Jesus did not meet Herod. According to the Bible, Jesus was born on the final years of the tyrant Herod. When Jesus was born, he panicked and had all the baby boys in Bethlehem be killed. Joseph and Mary, after knowing this, fled to Egypt and remained there until Herod was dead.

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  35. Without reading through all the comments—great drivel, by the way, inspiring—why did ol’ Rommel (any relation to the historical Rommel?) change colour halfway through? I often wonder if such are committees using the one call-sign …

    So Good ol’ God had all the baby boys sacrificed to preserve young Jeez? Coool …

    Like

  36. Hi RommelV.
    So… your defense of the veracity of the Bible is that it was wrong about something so incredibly important as the year of Jesus’ birth. That’s… an interesting defense. So when Luke claimed Jesus was born in the year of the census (6 BCE) it was a sort of divinely-directed shot in the dark. An infallible being’s guesstimate of HIS OWN DATE OF BIRTH. Gotcha.

    And your last line that people accept the date as “tradition” points out your basic problem: accepting “tradition” in place of cold, hard facts.

    Anyway, you’re still wrong about the census. The Census of Quirinus was not a census of “all the world” as suggested in Luke. And the idea that citizens had to return to their birthplace is not only wrong but patently ridiculous — and completely useless — on its face. If you live “here,” why go be counted someplace else? It makes no sense. The reason Luke made up that part was as an excuse to make it look like Jesus fit those ancient prophecies you are so enamored of (I mentioned this 20-20 hindsight cutting-and-pasting to fulfill an agenda in an earlier response to you.) Luke needed the messiah to be born in Bethlehem, so he stuck him there.

    I found a pretty good, compact summation of what’s wrong with this fairy tale from a reality-based, historical perspective at The Straight Dope (straightdope.com), an exhaustively researched site that I find useful in situations like this.
    (A warning to others: When I say “compact,” it’s a relative term. Probably only RommelV will stick around and read all of this.)

    Here it comes:

    “Luke’s famous account of the census (Luke 2:1-6) reads as follows:

    In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David . . .

    P. Sculpinius Quirinius was legate (governor) of Syria in the years 6 – 7 AD. He did order a census. However, the assumption that Jesus was born in the year of Quirinius’s census (6 AD) leads to irreconcilable chronological problems in the subsequent events of his life. It is entirely unlikely that Jesus was born in the year of Quirinius’s census; most scholars put Jesus’ birth around 4 BC, a good ten years before Quirinius’s census.

    The remainder of Luke’s account is also highly improbable (I’m being generous here), for a number of reasons:

    There was no census of “all the world” (read: the entire Roman Empire) declared by Augustus; at least, if there were, it’s not mentioned in any Roman documents that we’ve uncovered so far. The census was of Judea, Samaria, and Idumaea–not Galilee (where Luke puts Joseph and Mary). Quirinius used the opportunity to also conduct a census of Syria.
    The notion that each male would have to register in the home town of a remote ancestor is unbelievable. The entire Roman world would have been turned upside-down. There would surely have been records of such widespread dislocations, and there are none. Augustus was arguably the most rational of the emperors, and would never have ordered such an irrational thing.
    Ancient census-takers wanted landowners to be connected to their land, for tax purposes. The census-takers traveled, not those being taxed.
    So, almost all scholars agree that it is not reasonable to think that there was ever a decree that required people to travel for purposes of tax registration.

    Why, then, do we have Luke’s account? Luke wanted to report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the City of David, in order to fulfill various prophetic interpretations. On the other hand, he also wanted to report that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, presumably for historic reasons. He thus reported the story of Joseph going to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, and then returning to Nazareth where Jesus was raised.

    Matthew does something similar, but has Joseph and Mary living in Bethlehem, then fleeing to Egypt until Herod died, then returning to Bethlehem, finding another Herod in place, and so moving to Nazareth (where there was actually a third Herod, namely Herod Antipas. One of the difficulties of describing any of this is that the whole damn family was named Herod.)

    So Luke reported that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth. Why report a census? Well, there were riots after Herod’s death in 4 BC and again at the time of the census in 6 AD, so it is possible that Luke (or his source) accidentally combined the two riots and the two dates. A ten year error is relatively slight for ancient authors, working without archives, without a standard calendar, and writing about a period around 80 years earlier.

    Thus we speculate that Luke had “discovered” what he thought was a census at the time of Herod’s death, and decided to use that event as the reason for Joseph traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem, to satisfy Hebrew prophecy.

    ASIDE: The belief that Jesus was born in 1 AD originated in the 6th Century, when a monk in Italy named Dionysius Exiguus miscalculated the date in trying to reconcile different accounts. The calendar (that is, the “Christian Era”) was set based on those miscalculations.

    ANOTHER ASIDE: Most of the information about Quirinius’ census comes from Josephus, who is reliable on some things, but not reliable on others. There are also some supportive ancient inscriptions. There is a small minority opinion that does not accept Josephus’s account. They hold that the census described by Luke took place somewhere around 8 to 6 BC, under an earlier governorship by Quirinius from 4 to 1 BC (of which there is no outside evidence). This would mean that Luke’s account was only off by a year or so, not by a decade.”

    And… that should be enough from TSD to demonstrate my fact-based position.

    PS: I know Jesus met Herod because I saw it myself: There was a whole song-and-dance in “Jesus Christ Superstar” about it. 🙂

    Like

    • ** Anyway, you’re still wrong about the census. The Census of Quirinus was not a census of “all the world” as suggested in Luke. And the idea that citizens had to return to their birthplace is not only wrong but patently ridiculous — and completely useless — on its face. If you live “here,” why go be counted someplace else? It makes no sense. The reason Luke made up that part was as an excuse to make it look like Jesus fit those ancient prophecies you are so enamored of (I mentioned this 20-20 hindsight cutting-and-pasting to fulfill an agenda in an earlier response to you.) Luke needed the messiah to be born in Bethlehem, so he stuck him there.

      >> OK. Now I get your point and I bothered to research around this topic.. Now consider this:

      When Luke states that a decree from Caesar Augustus went out that all the world should be taxed, was he talking about just one empire-wide census? No, according to Roman historian A. N. Sherwin White. The censuses were taken in different provinces over a period of time. But Caesar Augustus was the first one in history to order a census or tax assessment of the whole provincial empire. Luke uses the present tense to indicate that Augustus ordered censuses to be taken regularly throughout the empire rather than only one time.

      Second, papyri collected in Egypt, have shown that the Romans undertook periodic censuses throughout their empire. In Roman Egypt, for example, from A.D. 33 until 257 A.D., 258 different censuses were taken at 14-year intervals. This evidence has been known for a number of years, and substantiates Luke’s reference to Augustus’ census, but it seems to work against the Lucan account in terms of the year when Jesus was born. Why? Because the 14-year intervals do not intersect with the year of Jesus’ birth in 4 B.C.

      But concerning that problem, the Dictionary of New Testament Background [Craig Evans and Stanley Porter, eds., InterVarsity, 2000] states: “Evidence indi­cates that Egyptian censuses were taken at 7-year intervals during the reign of Augustus and can be established with indirect and direct evidence for the years of 11-10 B.C., 4-3 B.C., A.D. 4 and 5, and A.D. 11 and 12.” This information is based on documentation presented in The Demography of Roman Egypt by Bagnell and Friar, a book published by Cambridge University Press in 1994.

      Third, there are other reasons to believe a census was taken by Caesar Augustus in 4 or 5 B.C. Augustus knew of Herod’s paranoia. Herod frequently changed his will and then would kill the family member he had put in charge if he were to die. Each time he changed his will and the one who would succeed him, he had to get permission from the Roman emperor to do so.

      So, Emperor Augustus knew what was happening in Palestine. It is reasonable to assume that Augustus, anticipating the problems that would come about when Herod died, would want to take a census of Herod’s territory and might well have extended the Egyptian census of 4-3 B.C. or performed something like it in Judea.

      The mentioning of the census in Luke 2:1 is the only historical reference of this census from antiquity, yet it rests on a plausible reconstruction of events. Edwin Yamauchi comments, “…this is a case where we do have something recorded in the New Testament which is not directly correlated by extra-biblical evidence. This doesn’t mean that it did not happen, however, because there are many things that occur only in a given text without corroborative evidence of other texts or inscrip­tions.”

      But what about Luke’s reference, “this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria?” When Luke says this was the “first” census that took place under Quirinius, the Greek word prote, usually translated “first,” according to some Greek scholars can also be translated “prior.” If that is Luke’s meaning, then, he would be referring to a census taken prior to the one taken when Quirinius was governor in 6 A.D. Is it possible that a prior census was taken, or even taken by Quirinius himself?

      Well, historians know that Quirinius had a government assignment in Syria be­tween 12 B.C. to 2 B.C. He was responsible for reducing the number of rebellious mountaineers in the highlands of Pisidia. As such, he was a highly placed military figure in the Near East and highly trusted by Emperor Caesar Augustus. Augustus, knowing of the turmoil in Herod the Great’s territory, may well have put his trusted friend Quirinius in charge of a census enrollment in the region of Syria just before the end of Herod’s life.

      The time period from 7 to 6 B.C. also coincides with the transition period be­tween the rule of the two legates of Syria: Saturninus from 9 to 6 B.C. and Varus from 7 to 4 B.C. The transition of power between these two men took place be­tween 7 to 6 B.C., and Augustus again may have appointed his friend Quirinius to step in and conduct a census taxation when he could not trust anyone else.

      Again, Luke’s statement has a plausible foundation in history.

      Next, what about the criticism that in a Roman census Joseph would not have been required to travel to Bethlehem and he would not have been required to bring Mary with him? Well, now historians have found that in A.D. 104, Vivius Maximus issued an edict that states, “It is essential for all people to return to their homes for the census.” This indicates it was plausible for Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem as Luke indicates. In fact, it is just one of the many reasons scholars have found why Mary would have needed to go with Joseph on his trip to Bethlehem. Claire Pfann suggests another.

      I think that we find a few basic presuppositions that are just our own modern skepticism and really don’t deal with the reality of the fact that, if Joseph and Mary had come to live together as a married couple at this point, why on earth would he leave her at home when he faced a prolonged absence, waiting for the census to be accomplished?

      Next, what can be said to those who say a Roman census could not have been carried out in Herod’s kingdom while Herod was alive?

      This is simply not true. Records have now been found that show the emperor did take censuses in vassal kingdoms like Herod’s. In fact, when Herod died, his domain was divided among his three sons, and Augustus ordered that taxes be reduced in the territory of one of his sons. It proves the Roman emperor was not afraid to intervene in one of his vassal kingdoms.

      Further, it is now known that in 8-7 B.C., Herod came into disfavor with Augustus and was thereafter treated as a subject rather than a friend. It resulted in Herod’s autonomy being taken away from him.

      Third, historians have also discovered that the people of Herod’s domain took an oath of allegiance not just to Herod, but to both Augustus and Herod, which proves there was a greater involvement of Augustus in Herod’s realm.

      Finally, Luke’s account points to a census taken before Herod the Great’s death and the division of his kingdom. Why? It would have been highly implausible to think that after Herod’s kingdom had been divided between his three sons in 4 B.C. that people in Nazareth under Herod Antipas would have traveled to Bethlehem, the territory belonging to Archelaus for purposes of taxation. It makes more sense that such traveling would have been done when all the territories were under Herod’s rule himself and Augustus called for an overall census.

      So, since it has been proved that Augustus had taken censuses in other vassal kingdoms, and since Herod had come into the emperor’s disfavor, and since Herod was having troubles in his own realm with his sons, it is more than probable that Augustus would have wanted to conduct his own census, assessing Herod’s king­dom, while Herod was still alive. And this is exactly what Luke recorded.

      **PS: I know Jesus met Herod because I saw it myself: There was a whole song-and-dance in “Jesus Christ Superstar” about it.

      Uh-oh… You confused Herod the Great with one of his sons.

      When Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. his kingdom was divided into three parts and each part was given to one of his sons. Herod Archelaus ruled over Judea and Samaria [Matthew 2:21-23]. Herod Philip took over Ituraea and Trachonitis, which were to the North and East of Galilee. Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch, received Galilee and Perea. Perea was to the East of the River Jordan. In 6 A.D. Herod Archelaus was deposed by the Romans following complaints, and Judea and Samaria became a directly ruled region of the Roman Empire. Pontius Pilate was one of these rulers.

      >> Now there is something I want to bring to your attention. And I will ask a question. You have concluded Gospel writers are forging or creating stories of Jesus, to fit the prophesies. My question is, and I wish you could give me an answer. What are their motives? Why do they have to create these stories to support this Jesus?

      Like

      • So, again, RommelV, you’re making the same case: that the Bible was wrong, therefore it’s correct. Luke got stuff wrong, but you claim it’s conceivable that similar stuff might have happened. And as “evidence” you bring up censuses taken in Egypt (certainly you’re not saying Jesus was born in Egypt, so,,, why bring it up?) as well as a census taken some 100 years later (again, Jesus wasn’t alleged to have been born in AD 104, so how is that relevant?). You’re saying Luke was “right” because lots of similar stuff happened elsewhere and at some other time. The best argument you can make is that it’s “plausible” that something similar to what Luke wrote might have happened — but Luke got it wrong, so we should cut the Bible some slack and just assume it’s actually correct. That’s not fact-based evidence, that’s faith-based obfuscation.

        The Bible must be absolutely and completely perfect because god is absolutely and completely perfect. How can a perfect being write a badly flawed book?. Without god, the Bible is just another book of ripped-off fairy tales. Utnapishtim weathered a worldwide flood in the “Epic of Gilgamesh” (written perhaps as long as 18 centuries before the Bible or maybe just 7 centuries) and then got renamed Noah for new book.

        Like

      • So, again, RommelV, you’re making the same case: that the Bible was wrong, therefore it’s correct. Luke got stuff wrong, but you claim it’s conceivable that similar stuff might have happened.

        >> The problem is you already claiming that Luke is wrong. I am begging to disagree!

        And as “evidence” you bring up censuses taken in Egypt (certainly you’re not saying Jesus was born in Egypt, so,,, why bring it up?) as well as a census taken some 100 years later (again, Jesus wasn’t alleged to have been born in AD 104, so how is that relevant?). You’re saying Luke was “right” because lots of similar stuff happened elsewhere and at some other time. The best argument you can make is that it’s “plausible” that something similar to what Luke wrote might have happened

        >> The significance of the papyrus containing censuses take in Egypt, is that it confirms the decree that Augustus did in Palestine. It will be similar, of course. And archeological discoveries have already proven taht Augustus did in fact decree censuses every 14 years. The first census was in 23-22 BC. The second in 9-8 BC. Being in the far reaches of the empire, the census may not have reached Palestine until 7 or 6 BC, the latter of course, the date for the birth of Jesus. The papyrus also state that “Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.” This confirms why in the case in Palestine, Joseph and Mary have to go home to their hometown Bethlehem. Again, the significance of the papyrus in Egypt provide astounding confirmation of Luke’s account. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the more reliable source (the New Testament) confirms the accuracy of the less reliable source (the papyrus in Egypt).

        I want to quote and unquote John Oakes:

        It is my opinion that those who claim that the account of Luke is dubious historically have to purposefully ignore the evidence. As far as I know, every single time skeptics have attempted to disprove the accuracy of Luke, they have been proven wrong, or at the very least, the jury is still out. Luke was a very careful chronicler of events, down to the smallest detail. Yes, there was a census in around 7-6 B.C. Yes, Quirinius was governor at the right time. Yes, it makes sense that Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem, yes, yes, yes….. Some people doubt that the decree found in Egypt applied to Palestine. That is true. Before the decree was found, some doubted that Augustus ever ordered a census! These skeptics keep shifting their criticisms. If I have to choose between the skeptics (who have an extreme bias, and whose goal is to prove the Bible to not be inspired) and Luke, the careful historian who interviewed the people who were involved in the events, I will trust Luke. If there was evidence that Luke was a shoddy historian, I would say that the skeptics have a good reason to question the accuracy of his statements, but the fact is that Luke was a great historian who, in addition, was a disciple of Jesus. He would not lie.

        Like

      • …That brings us to yet another aspect of your accusation to Luke – motive. More to that later. Good morning by the way. 🙂

        Like

  37. Sorry, I forgot to address the part about Luke’s motives specifically (yet again). Luke was pursuing an agenda to establish that his guy was divine. No one likes to have a cherished belief knocked out from under him. Luke thought an effective way to do that would be to fulfill some prophecies. Maybe he just saw it as a little white lie, or merely fudging some already hazy dates. Or maybe he just wanted to make himself look important and be remembered. Personally, I don’t really doubt his sincerity; I’m sure he truly wanted Jesus to be god and the son of god at the same time, so when he sacrificed himself to himself it would appear to be a divine plan. If Luke really meant Quirinus ordered the census, then why did he credit Augustus? If he meant Quirinus, write Quirinus — most especially if he was getting this information by interviewing people who were supposedly there some 60-80 years earlier. (I have seen no references to his gospel being written any earlier than sometime in the AD 60s, with many suggesting it was probably more like the 90s.)

    For this discussion, we are assuming that Luke the Evangelist, the physician who was a disciple of Paul, actually wrote the material attributed to him, Also, remember that Luke admitted he himself was not a eyewitness to Jesus’ life.

    Yes, you could say I am assuming Luke was wrong — because the stuff he wrote doesn’t add up. And you are assuming he was right, because Bible. And some historical information from other places and other eras that you are assuming apply.

    As far as the Egypt papyri go, I never said Augustus conducted zero censuses, just that he didn’t order the entire world enrolled in the year 6. Also, the Egyptian evidence argues against a headcount being done in the Bethlehem region, because when a census was taken, it was recorded. When it happened in Egypt, they wrote it down on those papyri. When it happened elsewhere, they wrote it down (which is why we know it happened). But the census Luke referred to? That one wasn’t recorded.

    Also, the key to understanding why Joseph wouldn’t have had to trek someplace else to be counted is right there in your argument:
    “Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”

    The key is reference to the tilled lands: the government wanted the farmers to go back to their homesteads so they could be recorded with their crops and be properly taxed. If Farmer Peter went to sell some stuff at market in the next town over, he should get back to his farm — get back to his home, the place where he lives — not the hometown of his ancestors. This also applied to people doing other stuff that had staying (or “residing”) someplace else, say, caring for sick relatives, attending classes, or whatever. Go home and be counted where you live, so place can be taxed properly.

    As for John Oakes, if he’s looking for evidence of Luke being a shoddy historian, well, there’s plenty of that (including in this discussion). And saying “He would not lie” — well, Oakes has a lot faith, I guess.

    Like

    • Sorry, I forgot to address the part about Luke’s motives specifically (yet again). Luke was pursuing an agenda to establish that his guy was divine. No one likes to have a cherished belief knocked out from under him. Luke thought an effective way to do that would be to fulfill some prophecies. Maybe he just saw it as a little white lie, or merely fudging some already hazy dates. Or maybe he just wanted to make himself look important and be remembered. Personally, I don’t really doubt his sincerity; I’m sure he truly wanted Jesus to be god and the son of god at the same time, so when he sacrificed himself to himself it would appear to be a divine plan….

      >> So, did Luke just erred, or he did he lie on purpose? Ì will not tackle about his sincerity. You admitted that Luke may be sincere in a way to his readers. On the other hand, I will cover more on his honesty. First off, there is no evidence whatsoever that Luke and Paul and any of the disciples are liars. In addition, their “leader” Jesus is a moral teacher of his time. Things such as you are the light of the world, tell the truth is one of the main themes of his teachings. Secondly, Luke and the other disciples are willing to die for what they know and proclaim. Psychologically, if you know that something is a lie, you won’t go so far to even risk your life for it.

      >> Side Note: Jesus even prophesied that their willingness to die will be their testimony or proof that what they are proclaiming are true. Let me quote:
      But before all these, they shall LAY THEIR HANDS ON YOU, and PERSECUTE you, delivering you up to the SYNAGOGUES, and into PRISONS, being brought before KINGS and RULERS for my name’s sake.
      And it shall turn to you for a TESTIMONY.
      Luke 21:12-13, Mark 13:9, Matthew 10:18

      >> Thirdly, the writings of Luke (and the rest of the gospel writers) went through the apostolic age. He went through the test of the apostolic period of the first century to confirm their accuracy, authenticity, and reliability. If he proclaim such a lie, people will know, especially the Romans and the Synagogues who are very careful with their history. Yes, they were brought forth before kings and rulers and synagogues. Remember that these people are dying to falsify the disciples. But as I said, this writings went through the history uncontested.

      If Luke really meant Quirinus ordered the census, then why did he credit Augustus? If he meant Quirinus, write Quirinus — most especially if he was getting this information by interviewing people who were supposedly there some 60-80 years earlier. (I have seen no references to his gospel being written any earlier than sometime in the AD 60s, with many suggesting it was probably more like the 90s.)

      >> Luke meant Augustus at the time of Quirinus. Please see my earlier post. You’re misrepresenting me again. Ok I’ll post a portion of my earlier post:
      But what about Luke’s reference, “this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria?” When Luke says this was the “first” census that took place under Quirinius, the Greek word prote, usually translated “first,” according to some Greek scholars can also be translated “prior.” If that is Luke’s meaning, then, he would be referring to a census taken prior to the one taken when Quirinius was governor in 6 A.D. Is it possible that a prior census was taken, or even taken by Quirinius himself.

      For this discussion, we are assuming that Luke the Evangelist, the physician who was a disciple of Paul, actually wrote the material attributed to him, Also, remember that Luke admitted he himself was not a eyewitness to Jesus’ life.

      >> Which makes him more credible. Here is a man who interviews eyewitnesses. If he wrote a lie, or even deviate from the truth, people will say, hey i didn’t say that. Which goes back again to the fact that his writings went through the apostolic age.

      “Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”

      >> You ignore the word homes and focused on the tilled lands. What you failed to see however is that it is separated by the clause “and”. Their homes AND their tilled lands

      As for John Oakes, if he’s looking for evidence of Luke being a shoddy historian, well, there’s plenty of that (including in this discussion). And saying “He would not lie” — well, Oakes has a lot faith, I guess.

      >> You have demonstrated here a great deal of double standard. You look at the writings of Luke (which went to the apostolic era and was exposed to criticisms of his time as he is not a powerful man, and hated for his testimony of Jesus) as an ancient document that is not reliable. Yet looked at the papyrus of Egypt with all trustworthiness and authencity. But I will repeat, if this means anything to you:

      >> It is more accurate to say that the more reliable source (the New Testament) confirms the accuracy of the less reliable source (the papyrus in Egypt).

      >> You, sir, relying to a less reliable source, have greater faith than Oakes.

      Like

      • RommelV,
        One thing’s for sure, you cannot be put off clinging to your same arguments, which is why we are going in circles.

        >>First off, there is no evidence whatsoever that Luke and Paul and any of the disciples are liars. In addition, their “leader” Jesus is a moral teacher of his time.<>He went through the test of the apostolic period of the first century to confirm their accuracy, authenticity, and reliability.<> Luke meant Augustus at the time of Quirinus. Please see my earlier post. You’re misrepresenting me again. Ok I’ll post a portion of my earlier post:
        But what about Luke’s reference, “this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria?” When Luke says this was the “first” census that took place under Quirinius, the Greek word prote, usually translated “first,” according to some Greek scholars can also be translated “prior.” If that is Luke’s meaning, then, he would be referring to a census taken prior to the one taken when Quirinius was governor in 6 A.D. Is it possible that a prior census was taken, or even taken by Quirinius himself.<>Which makes him more credible. Here is a man who interviews eyewitnesses. If he wrote a lie, or even deviate from the truth, people will say, hey i didn’t say that.<> You ignore the word homes and focused on the tilled lands. What you failed to see however is that it is separated by the clause “and”. Their homes AND their tilled lands<> You have demonstrated here a great deal of double standard. You look at the writings of Luke (which went to the apostolic era and was exposed to criticisms of his time as he is not a powerful man, and hated for his testimony of Jesus) as an ancient document that is not reliable. Yet looked at the papyrus of Egypt with all trustworthiness and authencity.<> You, sir, relying to a less reliable source, have greater faith than Oakes.<<
        Nope. No faith at all here, sir.

        Like

  38. I want to make sure I’ve got this right. You’re considering the question of whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest pith producer of all time. Is that what it is? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Speaking just for myself, it seems that Jesus did OK for himself. He really does seem to have gotten off his share of snappy zingers. Was he the best ever? Hmmmm. Well, there’s kind of a lot of competition in that category so, speaking as a Christian, I’d be happy if he managed to get in the Top Forty.

    Trouble is, we’ll never know. Reason being that everyone has an axe to grind. How are we ever going to get the requisite number of objective, competent wit critics together to decide?

    But, just for the purposes of discussion, let’s say we could crown the king or queen of wise sayings. What have we got then? I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to entrust my soul to somebody based solely on his or her facility at generating bumper sticker material.

    Or maybe I’m missing something….

    Paul

    Like

    • Hi Paul! Good to hear from you. Last time was the Boston bombing, right?

      You’re of course right; clever sayings are just sayings. My point was simply that Jesus said nothing new or marginally useful. This tends to shock people, but no matter how hard anyone has tried no one has been able to identify a single thing that was revolutionary or even useful. Nothing. I find that very interesting.

      Like

      • Don’t want to put words in your mouth, John, but it sounds to me that when you say “I find that very interesting” you’re implying that somebody to be “marginally” good at greeting cards before he merits consideration as Messiah.

        By the way, I find the whole conversation shocking — but not for the reason you mean. 😉

        Paul

        Like

      • 🙂

        Well, what I find “interesting” is the total lack of knowledge people actually have about Jesus. He’s a comic book superhero to most. “Golden Rule? That’s Jesus’!!!”

        Out of interest, can you actually name something new or marginally useful that Jesus apparently said, Paul? (Or have we already had this conversation? This post is very old)

        Like

  39. John,

    I’m a Catholic! The “useful” thing that Jesus said was, “My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink.”. The source of all satisfaction to me — source of ridiculous grotesquery to non-believers.

    As far as the ‘Golden Rule’ goes. You are right to point out that many others came up with similar formulations, and — of course — it’s a big favorite of everyone. Even atheists like it!

    Trouble is, who actually follows the Golden Rule? As far as I’ve been able to determine, anyone who’s given it an honest try has come up short. Shouldn’t surprise anyone, though. The whole ‘problem’ with the human condition (Original Sin, or whatever you want to call it) is that we’re trapped by our own self preference.

    When I’m in town there’s always someone on the sidewalk, waving a Bible, asking me if I’m “saved”. I tell them that what I want to be saved from is an obsessive concern with my own salvation.

    Eternal Life is simply “getting over yourself”.

    Enough!

    Paul

    Like

    • I was a Catholic. Actually, I’m still counted as one! Never seen a disenrollment form.

      The Golden Rule is great; a true piece of workable wisdom. In all reality it’s just a forward projection of natural empathy, but it strikes right to heart of good behaviour.

      Eternal life is an unbearable thought; a true hell. Have you ever read God’s Debris? It’s the only articulation of a god (and explanation of life) that sounds reasonable to me. It’s a short book, only 100-odd pages, and you can download the pdf file from the interwebs for free. I think you’d enjoy it. Not saying I believe in the god posited in that book, but that god is at least logical.

      Like

  40. Amazing!

    Reading Rommelv.

    I am always amused when such inculcated fanatics introduce Josephus with such memorable lines.
    “There was a historian called Josephus”…. or some such as if they had just discovered him on the back of their cornflakes packet over breakfast and now want to share it with all the atheists in the whole wide world! H9w sweet of them.

    It reminds me of the time my daughter got home from nursery school bursting to sing Twinkle Twinkle and when I suddenly sang the last line with her she looked at me in utter amazement and said.
    “How did you know that song, daddy, I only learnt it at school today!”

    RJ just related a story about a conversation he had with a Christian where he mentioned Tertullian and the christian thought it was a pagan god.

    By and large Christians are the most ill-informed and oft times ignorant group of individuals when it comes to their own religion.

    Joe has a lot of patience, but we’ve all been there , I guess.

    Like

    • Joe is showing the patience of a saint!

      Funny, i read Rommell the same way, as if he’d just heard of Josephus and wanted us all to know!!

      I’m going to put up a prologue to a book written by a rabbi tomorrow. You’re going to love it.

      Like

      • I know will.

        I am beginning to question the wisdom of Elucidations in encouraging meaningful discussion with the religious.
        Of those of a religious bent that visit they are as intractable as unkle -Clapham comes to mind.
        Sure, I am learning some new things but I tend to go into cruise mode with the philosophical type posts. When I see words such as ontological and Plantinga I can’t help think of Prayson and my fillings begin to hurt and I become like a Dalek…”‘Exterminate…”’
        😉

        Like

  41. Hmmm. it seems something happened to my long, detailed reply to RommelV… All of my points are missing except the intro and the very last line. How did that happen? I must have messed something up — and I spent a long time on that post.

    Trust me, it was withering. 🙂

    Like

    • This one? This is all i can seem to see.

      RommelV,
      One thing’s for sure, you cannot be put off clinging to your same arguments, which is why we are going in circles.

      >>First off, there is no evidence whatsoever that Luke and Paul and any of the disciples are liars. In addition, their “leader” Jesus is a moral teacher of his time.He went through the test of the apostolic period of the first century to confirm their accuracy, authenticity, and reliability. Luke meant Augustus at the time of Quirinus. Please see my earlier post. You’re misrepresenting me again. Ok I’ll post a portion of my earlier post:
      But what about Luke’s reference, “this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria?” When Luke says this was the “first” census that took place under Quirinius, the Greek word prote, usually translated “first,” according to some Greek scholars can also be translated “prior.” If that is Luke’s meaning, then, he would be referring to a census taken prior to the one taken when Quirinius was governor in 6 A.D. Is it possible that a prior census was taken, or even taken by Quirinius himself.Which makes him more credible. Here is a man who interviews eyewitnesses. If he wrote a lie, or even deviate from the truth, people will say, hey i didn’t say that. You ignore the word homes and focused on the tilled lands. What you failed to see however is that it is separated by the clause “and”. Their homes AND their tilled lands You have demonstrated here a great deal of double standard. You look at the writings of Luke (which went to the apostolic era and was exposed to criticisms of his time as he is not a powerful man, and hated for his testimony of Jesus) as an ancient document that is not reliable. Yet looked at the papyrus of Egypt with all trustworthiness and authencity. You, sir, relying to a less reliable source, have greater faith than Oakes.<<
      Nope. No faith at all here, sir.

      Like

      • Sadly, no. I had a very long post that addressed each of Rommelv’s points individually… I cannot find it. The above text you refer to looks like my post with all my responses clipped out — except the last line about having no faith. I don’t know how it got messed up. And I don’t have the will to retype the whole thing right now, especially if it might disappear again.

        It is a puzzlement.

        Like

  42. On the subject of big numbers, I read recently (New Scientist?) that in just our Milky Way galaxy alone there are some 8.8 billion ‘earth-like’ planets.

    Lest we think it a typo, for those of us who were brought up knowing there is only one Earth-like planet in the universe—that was eight thousand millions of them in just our own local neighbourhood. If only one in (say) a thousand million has folks like us, does that mean that the only unique Son Of God has seven identical twins?

    As for the rest of the universe … wow!

    Like

      • He shouldn’t … He made ’em … 🙂

        Or did the perfect artificer make an imperfect 8.8 bill of them? Bugger, another can of worms …

        Like

      • Well, according to god’s followers on this planet, he hates anyone who doesn’t worship him or — worse! — worships a rival god or no god at all!!!!

        So I would say god hates those other planets with the perfect hate of a perfect being… it’s even a more virulent hate than the enmity shared by Yankees and Red Sox fans! Or Manchester United and Liverpool!

        Like

  43. Pingback: Christianity’s Nightmare Question | the superstitious naked ape

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