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Saturday, April 30, 2011

What does the bible say about slavery?

1 Peter 2:18 ESV
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

Colossians 4:1 ESV
Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ.

Hmm, the bible says nothing negative about slavery. The book of perfect morality states that slavery is acceptable. And Christians wonder why people laugh when they say it should be the basis for laws in this country.

What does the bible say about rape?

“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father fifty skelels of silver, and she shall be his wife, and he may not put her away all of his days (Deut:22; 28-29).” Here the victim of rape is as treated the property of the father. Since the rapist has despoiled the father’s property he must pay a bridal fee. The women apparently has no say in the matter and is forced to marry the person who raped her

Deuteronomy 21:10-14     
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.

God seems to have no issue with the topic at all.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Can religion and evolution be compatible?

Of course. Many religions accept that Evolution does not conflict with their religious teachings. The Theory of Evolution also does not try to explain how life first started. It could have been by the biblical god, Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl. The study of the formation of life is called Abiogenesis.

Below is list of religions that accept evolution.


Many Buddhists see no inherent conflict between their religious teachings and evolutionary theory. Indeed, according to some Buddhist thinkers, certain aspects of Darwin’s theory are consistent with some of the religion’s core teachings, such as the notion that all life is impermanent.


The Catholic Church generally accepts evolutionary theory as the scientific explanation for the development of all life. However, this acceptance comes with the understanding that natural selection is a God-directed mechanism of biological development and that man’s soul is the divine creation of God.

Episcopal Church

In 1982, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution to “affirm its belief in the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, and in this affirmation reject the rigid dogmatism of the ‘Creationist’ movement.” The church has also expressed skepticism toward the intelligent design movement.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

While the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not issued a definitive statement on evolution, it does contend that “God created the universe and all that is therein, only not necessarily in six 24-hour days, and that God actually may have used evolution in the process of creation.”


While there is no single Hindu teaching on the origins of life, many Hindus believe that the universe is a manifestation of Brahman, Hinduism’s highest god and the force behind all creation. However, many Hindus today do not find their beliefs to be incompatible with the theory of evolution.


While the Koran teaches that Allah created human beings as they appear today, Islamic scholars and followers are divided on the theory of evolution. Theologically conservative Muslims who ascribe to literal interpretations of the Koran generally denounce the evolutionary argument for natural selection, whereas many theologically liberal Muslims believe that while man is divinely created, evolution is not necessarily incompatible with Islamic principles.


While all of the major movements of American Judaism – including the Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox branches – teach that God is the creator of the universe and all life, Jewish teachings generally do not find an inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and faith.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

In 1969, the Presbyterian Church’s governing body amended its previous position on evolution, which was originally drafted in the 19th century, to affirm that evolution and the Bible do not contradict each other. Still, the church has stated that it “should carefully refrain from either affirming or denying the theory of evolution,” and church doctrine continues to hold that man is a unique creation of God, “made in His own image.”

United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ finds evolutionary theory and Christian faith to be compatible, embracing evolution as a means “to see our faith in a new way.”

United Methodist Church

In 2008, the church’s highest legislative body passed a resolution saying that “science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with [the church's] theology.” Moreover, the church states that “many apparent scientific references in [the] Bible … are intended to be metaphorical [and] were included to help understand the religious principles, but not to teach science.”

A letter from Christopher Hitchens

Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. _________________________________________________________________________
Did Jesus attract people?
One time there were 5000 men, plus
women and children (Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:30-44; Lk. 9:10-17; Jno. 6:1-14).
On another occasion there were 4000 men, plus
women and children (Matt. 15:32-38; Mk. 8:1-9).
The answer would seem to be yes. Therefore, this verse cannot be describing Jesus.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
One of the things about the life and ministry of Jesus is how many times he was invited into people’s homes. And it wasn’t just sinner’s homes or his friend’s or disciple’s homes. It was sinners, tax collectors, Pharisees, former prostitutes, friends, and his disciples and their families who all invited Jesus into their homes and lives.

Plus, he was invited to at least one wedding that we know of. And, Lazarus planned a dinner party in His honor (it was the least he could do after being raised from the dead, right?)

Obviously, Jesus was well-liked by numerous kinds of people, and he aroused people’s curiosity (from the skeptic to the believer). He taught with authority and wisdom, so He attracted the wise and well-educated. He was compassionate and forgiving, so He attracted the sinners and tax-collectors. He healed numerous people with power and compassion which caused large crowds to constantly be hunting him down.

That is hardly a person who was despised and held in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

According to the story, it is NOT by his wounds, but by being the sacrifice
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
If Jesus is god, the only way he could have been killed is if he allowed himself to be killed. Therefore, he would not have been led to slaughter, he would have gone there willingly and in control of the entire situation. this gets into heart of the conflict Christians have with their belief. If Jesus is god, then he is all powerful and all knowing. There is no way an all powerful god could not be in control of the entire situation from start to finish. If he is in control, then the people around him are just puppets, playing a role in his predestined crucifixion.
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In the Gospel accounts Jesus speaks very little, and gives very infrequent and indirect answers to the questions of the priests, prompting an officer to slap him. In Matthew 26:62 the lack of response from Jesus prompts the high priest to ask him: "Answerest thou nothing?" In the Gospel accounts the men that hold Jesus at the high priest's house mock, blindfold, insult and beat him, at times slapping him and asking him to guess who had hit him that time.[14][9][10][11]

Mark 14:55-59 states that the chief priests had sought witness against Jesus to put him to death but did not find any, so they arranged false witness against him, but their witness did not agree together. Mark 14:61 states that the high priest then asked Jesus: "Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am" at which point the high priest tore his own robe in anger and accused Jesus of blasphemy. In Matthew 26:63 the high priest asks: "tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus responds "You have said it", prompting the priest to tear his own robe.[9][10][11]

In Luke 22:67 Jesus is asked: "If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe". But, in 22:70 when asked: "Are you then the Son of God?" Jesus answers: "You say that I am" affirming the title Son of God.

He did not say much here, but he did say something. That does not fit with the passage which says he did not open his mouth.

8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]

9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, ________________________________________________________________________
No, he was placed in a tomb, and he was alone. There were no wicked or rich people placed in there with him.
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
Jesus had no offspring. And how do you prolong his days when he is eternal?
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
Jesus is not the servant of god. According to Christians, he IS god. He cannot be a servant to himself.
and he will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
What portion could Jesus be receiving? Again, he is god. he is in charge of everything.
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
Who exactly would Jesus, (god) be dividing the spoils with?
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are there Atheists in foxholes?

Let us hear from actual atheists in the military to answer that silly question.

Predestination vs Free Will

If predestination occurs, then it makes no difference what choices we decide upon. Whether I believe I am choosing A or B, I will still end up with the result that god decided (forced) upon for me. For free will to have any relevance, my fate cannot be known in advance.

However, there is also the issue that the biblical god is considered all knowing. If he knows everything, he knows my fate in advance. Again, my choices are meaningless, since the choices I make are preprogrammed to end up with a single result. It makes no difference to say he knows the result, but still allows me the choices to achieve my fate. If the outcome is known in advance, then the game is rigged from the beginning.

It also makes it meaningless to say god loves everyone equally. If he knows I am damned and you are saved, based on the choices we are predestined to make, then he already knows I will end up in hell and is unwilling to do anything to advert my fate, even though I also cannot do anything to change it. He is therefore, choosing favorites. Christians often say that you need to let Jesus in your life. However, they also say that only god can decide to save someone. How can you decide to let Jesus in your life if god has already decided not to allow that to occur? And if only god can decide to save someone, how does my free will choices have any bearing on this issue?

Then you add the element of prayer into the equation. Prayer cannot change anything in a predestined situation as the outcome was already decided. If god decides to "answer" a prayer, then the outcome has been changed and it was never predestined. However, you can also argue that the reason the prayer was answered is BECAUSE it was predestined. Therefore, the prayer was simply part of the script and god did not change anything, he simply fulfilled his original design. Prayer is, therefore, useless.

Free will and Predestination are two concepts which are in complete opposition to each other. They are mutually exclusive.

Do Christians live longer?

Here is a link to an article that claims people who believe in god live longer than others.

When you look at real data, you see a different answer.

By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine
The quest to live longer is one of humanity’s oldest dreams and three isolated communities seem to have stumbled across the answer. So what can they teach us about a longer life?
Something remarkable links the remote Japanese island of Okinawa, the small Sardinian mountain town of Ovodda and Loma Linda in the US. People live longer in these three places than anywhere else on earth.

While the article mentions that that the group in Loma Linda is religious, Seventh Day Adventist, not exactly mainstream Christianity, the one component that was common in all three groups was diet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Donald Trump and the Presidency

Donald Trump is a straight talking, speaks his mind, successful businessman. He would also be a disaster as our President.

He is currently leading the pack as the Republican candidate for President. He is a shameless self-promoter, which is a plus in his business operations, but would be useless as the leader of the country. We do not need someone who promotes himself, we need someone who can provide a vision and the leadership to achieve that vision.

His ideas on how to fix the problems in the country as meaningless. When asked about oil prices, he says that all that is needed is someone like him to tell the Middle East leaders that the game is over. That should fix the problem immediately. When asked about China, he says that all that is needed is for him to tell the leaders in China that we will not put up with their actions anymore and will place a 25% tariff on their imports. Besides the fact that this tariff will result in a trade war, that we can ill afford to fight, it overlooks that China has many allies around the globe who will support it in this idiotic economic campaign.

The country has many issues. We need a serious candidate to head the Republican charge against Obama and his policies. Donald Trump in not that person.

Is Obama a US citizen?

With the posting of the long form birth certificate, I hope we can move on from this topic and focus on the actual issues President Obama promotes. They are much more destructive than this nonsense.

Between green energy policies , gas prices, the Middle East, the economy, the deficit, China, health insurance and taxes, his policies are driving this country to ruin.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why did god HAVE to sacrifice Jesus?

It shows the limitations of the biblical god. Since he is supposedly all powerful, it is amusing to hear that Jesus had to be sacrificed. Why is an all powerful god limited to this one choice in a creation of his own design that is entirely under his power? If there really was only one way to fix the problem, then god is not all powerful, because he was limited to this one solution. If there was another way to do it, but he was unaware of it, then he is not all knowing. If there was another way and he was aware of it, then he is malevolent.

One of the big problems with the story is that Christians really do not understand what all powerful and all knowing really implies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ayn Rand accepted social security and medicare.

So Ayn Rand is a hypocrite because she accepted social security? After all, she rails against people taking government assistance, correct?
Except, there’s one problem: Rand specifically addressed the issue of individuals taking benefits from government programs they were forced to pay into in a 1966 article for The Objectivist newsletter:

"It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration."

In other words, programs like Social Security and Medicare aren’t optional. People are forced to pay into them or they are fined or imprisoned.  Given that reality, there’s really nothing hypocritical at all for a proponent of limited government, and an opponent to social programs like Social Security and Medicare, to try and get back from these programs what they were forced to put in.

The Sun does not move around the Earth

Joshua 10:11–13 reads: ‘And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died … Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and He said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?2 So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.’

The absurdity of this verse is self evident. The sun was not moving around the Earth. Therefore, it would not have stood still in relationship to the Earth's rotation. The sun does move in the galaxy, but it is not a rotational movement. If the sun stopped, the Earth would not have stopped rotating, but its orbit would have been disrupted, and the planet would have been thrown out of the solar system. In addition, if the sun's movement was stopped, then every other planet in the solar system would have had their orbits destroyed as a consequence.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The perfect Country / Western song.

When I was in college, a lifetime ago, this song would get played often at the bars I was at. I have never been a fan of Country/ Western music, but I have to admit, this song was fun to listen to.

What is listed here is not the entire song, but the really funny part of it.



















Are Christians being persecuted?

Are Christians being persecuted? In some parts of the world, yes they are. But it is hardly an issue unique to Christians. Most religious groups are being persecuted somewhere around the world, and in some places it is the Christians who are doing the persecution. Many secular groups are also being persecuted by theists. Christians make the claim that they are constantly being persecuted for their beliefs. Yet they persecute others for not believing as they do. I can find stories of persecution or attack on almost every religious or secular group, be it Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taos, Sihks, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics, Wiccans, Jehovahs Witnesses, Mormons, Unitarians or Humanists. I am sure there are other groups I have missed here.

It is also a fascinating belief since for almost 1500 years, it was the Christians who did the bulk of the persecution around the world (and yes, Catholics ARE Christians). However, now that it is not longer acceptable to try and convert people by the sword in the Western world, and people are deciding that Christianity is not true, Christians are now crying that they are the ones who need protection. Ignoring any persecution of a group, whether it is religious or secular is a crime against humanity. However, until I see Christians being upset that Wiccans, Buddhists or Atheists are being persecuted, their protests ring rather hollow.
I also do not expect to see that Christians start to embrace other faiths or secular groups as equals. They want the world to help them, yet they dismiss the rest of the world as sinners lost to the devil.
Here are a few stories of other religions being persecuted.

Now, do not take this as an endorsement of Islam or any other religion. Islam, especially these days, is just as guilty of persecuting others. In fact, Islam is one of the major problems in the world today. It is at a crossroad. It will either temper itself, or the Western world will shut it down like the mad dog it is acting like. Religious extremists are not going to be allowed to rule the world any longer. It is simply a statement of fact that Christians are not the only ones experiencing this problem.

Have Christians been freed from sin?

The freeing of Christians from sin? The opposite is actually what has occurred. Christians are obsessed with sin. It is their number one talking point. All people are born in a state of sin and almost every activity is considered to be sinful. I would say instead of it being a freedom from sin, it has become their bondage. They simply cannot view life except through the blinders that sin is everywhere. Normal life experiences become scary brushes with the Devil. They lose their joy of life, or rather redefine it as only being able to enjoy an activity that is sanctioned by their omnipresent god. But it is like eating food without flavor. They can say it tastes good, but no one agrees because it actually has no flavor.

Where did St Thomas die?

There are six tombs for St Thomas in South India. Two are in San Theme Cathedral at Mylapre, a third on an island SW of Cochin, a fourth in a Syrian Church at Tiruvancode, a fifth in a Shiva temple at Malayattur in Tranancore and a sixth at Kalaymuthur west of Maduri. In addition, there is one in Brazil, one in Germany, one in Japan, one in Malacca, one in Tibet and one in China.

He seems to have died quite often around the world. I would say if he is actually buried in all of these sites, that would constitute a miracle of its own.

For that matter, how did the Ceylon tradition arise then on "Adam's Peak" there, "is the sepulchre of Adam, our first parent", as Marco Polo recorded when there is another tomb of the same Adam that is located in Arabia?

Refuting The “Legend” Theory

Another theory claims that the resurrection is simply a legend that developed over time and was recorded later in the Bible as fact. There’s a couple of major problems with this naive theory. The first problem is that Biblical account reveals embarrassing details about the disciples.”

Actually, the first problem is that the bible really says next to nothing about the disciples. The apostles should be twelve of the most famous people in history. We’re told they were hand picked by Jesus to witness his wondrous deeds, learn his sublime teachings, and take the good news of his kingdom to the ends of the earth.

Which makes it all the more surprising that we know next to nothing about them. We can’t even be sure of their names: the gospels list a collection of more than twenty names for the so-called twelve disciples – with Bartholomew sometimes showing up as Nathanael, Matthew as Levi and Jude as Thaddeus, Lebbaeus, or Daddaeus!

It should be apparent that if the twelve were actual historical figures, with such an important role in the foundation and growth of the Church, it would be impossible to have such wild confusion over the basic question of who they really were.

But what do we know about any of them?

The fact is that for seven of the twelve, our only early source, the Gospels, say nothing about them at all. They are just names on a list.

Isn’t it a tad odd that such worthies, infused with the Holy Spirit and given powers to heal the sick and cast out demons, wrote nothing, or had nothing written for them or about them? Isn’t it odd that men chosen to be eye-witnesses to the mighty deeds of Jesus, wrote no eye-witness statements, left no sermons, no memoirs, no letters, no teachings, no pithy words of encouragement?

All that we have about “the twelve” are conflicting legends and fantastic stories from a much later date, tall stories about where they went, what they did and most especially how they died. Their deaths, it seems, have been recorded in loving and lurid detail. And it is the graphic deaths of the disciples that solves the riddle. We’ve all heard the apologetic claim: “Would they have died for a lie? Therefore the story of Jesus must be true.”

But we all know how useful to a cause is a dead martyr, even if he’s a fiction. In the case of Jesus, the twelve are a fiction, a necessary entourage for a sun god, passing through the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Just like other saviour gods, Jesus had to have his retinue.

The truth is, the twelve disciples are a grubby and sordid invention.

“Would the disciples have suffered and died for a fabricated saviour?”

One of the reeds of straw holding up the shabby edifice of Christendom is the alleged suffering and cruel fate of his original apostles, the twelve disciples chosen by the Lord himself. By their heroic, cheek-turning sacrifice, these worthies earned their martyr’s crown and joined their Lord in Heaven. In so-doing, they inspired generations of noble Christians, who ultimately taught the blood-thirsty Romans the Christian values of compassion and brotherly love. Well, that’s the myth.

Though cruelty and human suffering have ever been integral to the history of the Church the fanatics of Christ have rarely been the victimized innocents. Rather it has been the Christians who have bathed their faith in the blood of others.

There is NO corroborating evidence for the existence of the twelve Apostles and absolutely NO evidence for the colourful variety of martyrs’ deaths they supposedly experienced. The Bible itself actually mentions the death of only two apostles, a James who was put to death by Herod Agrippa (see James for a discussion of this tricky character) and the nasty Judas Iscariot (see below), who gets several deaths because he’s the bad guy.

Legend and tradition alone, dreamed up by the early churches in their bid for legitimacy and authority, provided the uplifting fables of heroics and martyrdom. The plethora of conflicting claims and alternative deaths stand eloquent testimony to wholesale fabrication of the non-existent godman’s non-existent companions.

Can an unbeliever be allowed in heaven?

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right Hand of God, then to wait until His enemies should be made a stool for His Feet.”
Hebrews 10:12

Now how exactly will these enemies of Jesus be a stool for him in Heaven when they are actually roasting in hell and heaven cannot allow any sinful thing in it? If he plans on going to hell to use them as a footstool, then the presence of the lord would be in hell, and that of course is contrary to the story as well. It also reeks of being somewhat petty. After all, they are already in hell, burning all eternity, but lets add insult to injury and have you be a footstool for a period.

"Depart from Me you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared or the devil and his angels..." (Matthew 25:41).

As a side note, Jesus is simply going to sit there waiting until his enemies are made into a stool? He is the ruler of the universe, and that is how he has decided to bide his time?

How large is the Christian church?

One comment I hear repeatedly is that the Christianity is the largest religion in the world. It is estimated that there are around 2.1 billion Christians in the world. It is a source of comfort to Christians that their belief is the most widely accepted. However, I also hear Christians say that various groups are not actually Christians. The Catholics, for example, are not considered to be Christians by many Protestant religions. If Catholics are not really Christians, then they should be counted separately as their own group. Therefore, instead of there being 2.1 billion Christians, there are actually, 1.1 billion Catholics and 1 billion Christians.

My point is that if Christians do not accept that certain groups are really Christians, then they should not get the benefit of lumping their numbers all together.

Now, I am sure there will be protests about this statement. After all, in the Muslim faith, there are various sub-groups as well. I would say the same logic applies to them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Would Jesus even be in a tomb after he was killed?

This comment was made in regards to the body of Jesus being pulled down from the cross after he died.
"Furthermore, it is a command in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 that a body hung on the tree should not be left overnight to avoid contamination of the Land."

However, the Romans did not follow the laws of the biblical god at that time. Just because that was the law of the Hebrews would not mean anything to the Romans. It was actually common for the body to remain on the cross after death.

Notorious mass crucifixions followed the Third Servile War in 73–71 BC (the slave rebellion under Spartacus), other Roman civil wars in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, and the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To frighten other slaves from revolting, Crassus crucified 6,000 of Spartacus’ men along the Appian Way from Capua to Rome.[54] Josephus tells a story of the Romans crucifying people along the walls of Jerusalem. He also says that the Roman soldiers would amuse themselves by crucifying criminals in different positions. In Roman-style crucifixion, the condemned could take up to a few days to die. The dead body was left up for vultures and other birds to consume.

The goal of Roman crucifixion was not just to kill the criminal, but also to mutilate and dishonour the body of the condemned. In ancient tradition, an honourable death required burial; leaving a body on the cross, so as to mutilate it and prevent its burial, was a grave dishonour.

Do atheists believe in nothing?

How Easter and Christianity undermine atheism

By Anthony DeStefano

This Easter it seems that atheists have a lot to rejoice about. According to the latest poll released by the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Religious Identification Survey, the number of self-proclaimed atheists in America has nearly doubled since 2001 — from 900,000 to 1.6 million.

In a nation that once prided itself on its Judeo-Christian heritage, one out of every five Americans now claims no religious identity whatsoever; and the number of self-proclaimed Christians has declined by a whopping 15%.

Yes, those who believe in nothing seem to be winning more and more converts every year.

This story was in USA Today. The author made an outlandish comment when he said that Atheists believe in nothing. Atheists do not “believe in nothing”. We believe in the what we can see, verify, confirm, touch and support by experimentation and research. We believe the universe exists. Obviously, the universe is not a “nothing”, so the statement from the article is meaningless.

Now to be fair, he then goes on to say that Atheists do believe in something. However, he then provides a straw man version of what materialism is and to top it off, discounts Atheism completely. So, he ends up agreeing with his absurd statement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Degrees of genocide

After the flood, god decided he would never kill all of humanity again with flood waters. Genesis 9:11, "I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

However, I guess that does not mean that god can't kill all the people in an area if they irritate him, as long as he does not use a flood. Seems like a selective use of never again.

"I will sweep away everything in all your land," says the LORD. "I will sweep away both people and animals alike. Even the birds of the air and the fish in the sea will die. I will reduce the wicked to heaps of rubble, along with the rest of humanity," says the LORD. "I will crush Judah and Jerusalem with my fist and destroy every last trace of their Baal worship. I will put an end to all the idolatrous priests, so that even the memory of them will disappear. For they go up to their roofs and bow to the sun, moon, and stars. They claim to follow the LORD, but then they worship Molech, too. So now I will destroy them! And I will destroy those who used to worship me but now no longer do. They no longer ask for the LORD's guidance or seek my blessings." (Zephaniah 1:2-6 NLT)

And let us not forget that god promises to kill or torture most of humanity when he comes again.

Revelation 9:1-18
1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.

17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.

Heck, even Jesus has it out for little children in Revelations.

Revelation 2:22-23
22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

The Argument for Evolution It would be exceedingly difficult to summarize all of the arguments for evolution in a concise fashion here. However, the most important point to remember is that evolution theory, like all scientific theories, was originally a solution to a problem. What's remarkable about anti-evolution propaganda is that it never acknowledges this fact, and so never takes on the burden of producing a better explanation for that original problem.

So what was this original problem that evolution theory was invented to solve? It's called the Linnaean Taxonomy, named after Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778). If you are not familiar with the term, it is the categorizations of plant and animal species into a hierarchical structure. This structure has 7 layers: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species. Now, the remarkable thing about this system is that the early naturalists classified animals into a hierarchical "family tree" structure long before the theory of evolution was proposed. In other words, all naturalists agreed long before Darwin that the animal kingdom appeared to be a family tree.

Now the question becomes: why did they do that? The theory of evolution did not exist yet, so they obviously didn't do it to please "evolutionists", as creationists are wont to call them. What was their reasoning? Well here's where we run into an interesting coincidence in the animal kingdom: the appearance and development of animal features also looks like a family tree. In other words, you can take any given feature and trace its appearance, in various levels of complexity, along lines of animal species. Sometimes a feature will change in one direction for one branch of the tree and another direction for the other branch of the tree, and as you examine more complex organisms on any given branch, the two diverging features always (I must repeat this: ALWAYS) stay that way. They never jump back and forth; while features can jump between bacteria due to genetic material exchange (they're so small that they can literally swap pieces of DNA), we have never observed a feature exchange between complex organisms. There is no reason why an engineer would steadfastly refuse to take features from one product line and use them in another, so why would this be the case for an engineered biosystem?

This is a classic example of a problem in need of a solution. It is not enough to classify it as coincidence, not when it is so incredibly consistent. And the problem gets worse: when those early naturalists examined the geographical distribution of the animal kingdom's "family tree", they discovered yet another impossibly unlikely "coincidence": species which appeared to be very close to one another on the family tree were also geographically close to one another. And whenever someone found what appeared to be an exception to this rule, they discovered a migratory path. Centuries later, the rule is unchanged: when species show a biological connection, they also show a geographical connection.

The significance of these two intertwined globe-spanning coincidences cannot be overstated: it was an enormous problem for taxonomy. If someone had indeed designed and created these species, he went to enormous lengths to make them appear to be related, by carefully arranging their structures and geography to match! Why would he do this? There was no intrinsic need for this, as we have proven in the last century by artificially moving species outside their natural habitat and seeing that in many cases, they thrive in far-off environments. There was no intrinsic need for features to be arranged in a hierarchical fashion, or for structural proximity to invariably mirror geographical proximity. So why would the designer do this? No one ever provided an answer ... until Darwin.

This, then, is the single largest argument for evolution: it is a solution to a problem that no other theory can explain. Creationists often try to argue that God could have chosen to make the animal kingdom look that way, but they can't explain why or how. And if they can't explain why or how, then they actually do not have an explanation. Can anyone explain how you would derive the prediction of a "family tree" animal kingdom from the idea of God? It's not enough to say that God reused previous designs; that would explain the similarities but not the divisions in the family tree. The Linnaean taxonomy is a family tree, not a family sponge. Only evolution offers a real explanation: the kind of explanation where you can start from its mechanism and use it to logically work forward to predict the outcome.

The Trinity

Christ, according to the faith, is the second person in the Trinity, the Father being the first and the Holy Ghost third. Each of these persons is God. Christ is his own father and his own son. The Holy Ghost is neither father nor son, but both. The son was begotten by the father, but existed before he was begotten--just the same before as after. Christ is just as old as his father, and the father is just as young as his son. The Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father and Son, but was equal to the Father and Son before he proceeded, that is to say, before he existed, but he is of the same age as the other two. So it is declared that the Father is God, and the Son and the Holy Ghost God, and these three Gods make one God. According to the celestial multiplication table, once one is three, and three time one is one, and according to heavenly subtraction if we take two from three, three are left. The addition is equally peculiar: if we add two to one we have but one. Each one equal to himself and to the other two. Nothing ever was, nothing ever can be more perfectly idiotic and absurd than the dogma of the Trinity." (Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 4, p. 266-67).

A challenge

I am often told this by Christians. "Let’s face it NO AMOUNT of ANY evidence would convince you of anything and you know it."

Nonsense. If there was a actual case a leg or an arm being regrown, I would have to rethink my position. So, lets do a test. You get all your church members and any others around the world to pray for god to regrow a limb. Get as many people praying as possible. Have the patient be documented as truly missing that limb by a nuetral third party medical team and then pray your hearts out. Film or have the third party medical team monitor the results.

It should be easy. After all, in the Bible, Jesus promises many times that he will answer our prayers. For example, in Matthew 7:7 Jesus says:

Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Ask and you will receive. What could be simpler than that?

In Matthew 17:20 Jesus reiterates that same message:

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Since a mustard seed is a tiny inanimate object about the size of a grain of salt, it is easy to imagine that the faith of a mustard seed is fairly small. So, paraphrasing, what Jesus is saying is that if you have the tiniest bit of faith, you can move mountains.

Jesus says something similar in Matthew 21:21:

I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

The message is reiterated Mark 11:24:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

In John chapter 14, verses 12 through 14, Jesus tells all of us just how easy prayer can be:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

In Matthew 18:19 Jesus says it again:

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Jesus is actually in our midst and God answers our prayers.

Pray that God spontaneously and miraculously restores the missing limb overnight. If possible, get millions of people all over the planet to join the prayer circle and pray their most fervent prayers. Get millions of people praying in unison for a single miracle for this one deserving amputee. Then stand back and watch.

What is going to happen? Jesus clearly says that if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. He does not say it once — he says it many times in many ways in the Bible.

And yet, even with millions of people praying, I say nothing will happen. Now, if you can do this, and the limb is actually re-grown, I will admit I am completely wrong. Now, it should not take millions of people, it should only take one person, if that person has faith as small as a mustard seed. I would assume your faith is at least that large. I am just saying, get as many people as you can to give you the best shot possible. .

Now I suspect you will say that god is not to be tested. However, that is not what Jesus said, as I have already pointed out above with the passages listed. He said ask it and I will do it. Besides, people pray to Jesus every day. Why are those prayers not a test?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pagans Knew Better

"It is surely unsound to deny that good of life to animals only because they do not appear to man to be of great account ... The very plants: they have life, and life may bring good or evil; the plants may thrive or wither, bear or be barren ...

Those that deny the happy life to the plants on the ground that they lack sensation are really denying it to all living things ...

What then is happiness? Let us try basing it upon Life ... Happiness can exist only in a being that lives fully ... Life in its greatest plenitude, life in which the good is present as something essential not as something brought from without, a life needing no foreign substance called in from a foreign realm, to establish it in good.

When man commands not merely the life of sensation but also Reason and Authentic Intellection, he has realised the perfect life.

There exists no single human being that does not either potentially or effectively possess this thing which we hold to constitute happiness.

And if death taking from him his familiars and intimates does bring grief, it is not to him, not to the true man, but to that in him which stands apart from the Supreme, to that lower man in whose distress he takes no part."

– Plotinus (204-270), The Six Enneads. Plontinus was one of the last of the great pagan philosophers.

Porphyry (232-305) was the nemesis of the Christians. They 'refuted' him for generations and then settled for burning his books.

"A famous saying of the Teacher is this one: 'Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have no life in yourselves.'

This saying is not only beastly and absurd; it is more absurd than absurdity itself and more beastly than any beast: that a man should savor human flesh or drink the blood ... and that by so doing this he should obtain eternal life!

Tell us: in recommending this sort of practice, do you not reduce human existence to savagery of a most unimaginable sort?"

– Porphyry Against the Christians (Hoffmann, p49).

"Injustice is a sin. Nature has constituted rational beings for their own mutual benefit, each to help his fellows according to their worth, and in no wise to do them hurt."

"When those about you are venting their censure or malice upon you or raising any other sort of injurious clamour ... it is still your duty to think kindly of them; for nature has made them to be your friends."

Jesus? No, 'Meditations' of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180), a pagan who devoted his life to the defence of Roman civilization.

He despised the fanatics of Christ who delighted in Rome's misfortunes.

Celsus (110-180?) was an Epicurean rationalist. He wrote scathing critiques of magicians and Christian tricksters.

"Just as the charlatans of the cults take advantage of the simpleton's lack of education to lead him around by the nose, so too with the Christian teachers: they do not want to give or receive reasons for what they believe. Their favorite expressions are "Do not ask questions, just believe!" and: "Your faith will save you!" "The wisdom of the world," they say, "is evil; to be simple is to be good." We are told that Jesus judged the rich with the saying 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.' Yet we know that Plato expressed this very idea in a purer form when he said, 'It is impossible for an exceptionally good man to be exceptionally rich.' Is one utterance more inspired than the other?"

– Celsus (On the True Doctrine)

"Peregrinus, having strangled his father, unable to tolerate his living beyond sixty years ... learned the wondrous lore of the Christians, by associating with their priests and scribes in Palestine.

In a trice he made them all look like children, for he was prophet, cult-leader, head of the synagogue, and everything, all by himself. He interpreted and explained some of their books and even composed many, and they revered him as a god ...

When imprisoned, the Christians, regarding the incident as a calamity, left nothing undone in the effort to rescue him ... from the very break of day aged widows and orphan children could be seen waiting near the prison, while their officials even slept inside with him after bribing the guards ...

Peregrinus ... procured not a little revenue from it. Indeed, people came even from the cities in Asia, sent by the Christians at their common expense, to succour and defend and encourage the hero ...

The poor wretches have convinced themselves, first and foremost, that they are going to be immortal and live for all time, in consequence of which they despise death and even willingly give themselves into custody ...

They despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. So if any charlatan and trickster, able to profit by occasions, comes among them, he quickly acquires sudden wealth by imposing upon simple folk."

– Lucian of Samosata, The Passing of Peregrinus

How can I be an atheist?

I get asked all the time how I can not believe in a god. This is a response I used to explain my viewpoint. It does not convey every reason for my disbelief, but it does provide some of the reasonings I use.

As you have no idea what I have read over the course of my life, your assertion that I ignore anything that might change my opinion is groundless. I read many books and articles that provide a differing point of view. I find that reading an opposing point of view is the best way to determine if a belief is valid or not. Just this week, I watched a debate that Despeville brought to my attention. I wrote my response to it. So far, no one has commented on my post. Not saying they won't, but I find that it is easier for many Christians to issue a challenge than to actually debate the topics. When they do try to engage, they post a few times and then say something to the effect of, “of course an atheist cannot understand my brilliance”

You may find it hard to believe that one can be an atheist, yet over a billion atheists, worldwide,  would disagree with you. The percentage of atheists in the sciences is much higher than the rest of society. Interestingly, people who study the sciences as their job, find the concepts of a god to be unnecessary.

Even if there is a god, the purpose of science is to explain the universe we live in. Stating god did it is not an explanation. How did god do it? For thousands of years, people have believed that gods cause earthquakes, lightning, rain, floods, sickness as well as any other topic they did not understand. Each year, science finds natural reasons for the issues that previously was thought to be caused by gods. At one point we did not know what fueled the sun. But we learned. At one point, we could not build a spaceship or replace an organ, but we learned. Not from reading the bible, but by using the scientific method. Does science know or explain everything? Of course not. That is what keeps us looking for new information. What fun would be left if there was nothing new to discover?

You may be content to live your life blindly accepting ancient myths as truths from tribal savages. But do not ever think that viewpoint places any limitations on the rest of us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Is the biblical god the moral authority?

I was asked to review a debate. Here is the link.

The argument that if the Nazi’s had won the war and promoted a universal moral code would not make it moral is my favorite. That is exactly the Christian viewpoint. That their version of god has decreed a universal morality that we all should follow. However, that version is not moral. It permits slavery, killing of nonvirgins, disobedient children, unbelievers, false prophets, people who eat shellfish, who wear blended fabrics and those do not shave their beards, It is the complete opposite of a real moral code.

He discusses a competent moral authority. He uses a police officer as the basis for competent authority. However, some police officers (not all or even most) abuse their authority. Just because they have a badge does not make them competent. The biblical god is also not a competent moral authority, for the same reason already posted.

In part 5, he says that gods will is unknown, but then also says that gods will is the basis for morality. If it is unknown, it cannot be “KNOWN” as the basis for anything. Since it unknown, it could be the basis for evil or stupidity. We would never know since it is unknown.

He says it is not relevant to the discussion if god exists. However, his entire argument is that without god, there is not a basis for morality. Of course it is relevant if god exists. If god does not exist, his entire argument is pointless. (To be frank, his entire argument IS pointless, but let’s let that stand on its own for now). Of what value is there to say that there must be a god for moral understanding if there is no god. That is the silliest thing he states.

Now what he does not mention is that the bible says god created evil in the first place. Isaiah 45.7. Since god created evil, it is funny that it also says it is godless.

Harris points out out that we have the benefit of 21st century knowledge, as opposed to the 1st century knowledge of the disciples or the 6th century knowledge of the muslims. On what basis do we know that the stories of the bible are evil? We can say we think the bible is the basis for morality, but we do not agree with how we live our lives. We do not allow slavery or the stoning of non virgins. We know that is not moral behavior, even though the bible says it is.

Now, what gets really interesting is the idea that without god there is no morality. I would say without people or societies, there is no reason for the idea of morality. If there was only one person left in the world, who would care if he cussed, destroyed a bible or masturbated? You can say that god would object, but we both know nothing would happen to that person from a god.

Is the viewpoint that the biblical god is moral a valid perspective?

Christians believe there is one moral absolute, based from the nature of their god. I believe there are ideals which can be shown to be better than other viewpoints based on whether they benefit humanity or not. Now, their arguments rely on gods commandments from the bible. Mine are based on human nature, logic and rational discourse. Since their god allowed slavery, and commanded that people kill disobedient children and women who are not virgins when they got married, it becomes very obvious which mindset is actually benefiting mankind. Killing children who were disobedient does not help society. Killing women who are not virgins when they get married does not either. In fact, since a woman can break her hymen from other physical activities than sexual intercourse, you could be killing virgins by mistake. That viewpoint is not only harming people, it permits people to be killed for no mistake on their part. That is not only a proof that their belief system is flawed, it harms the very people they believe they are helping.

How to win an argument with Atheists

I wish I could take credit for this, but I ran across it years ago on a opinion page and do not know who created it. However, it is too funny to leave out.

Christians, are you tired of those annoying “Jesus mythers” who have the audacity to question whether your godman ever existed at all, even as a “historical character”? In the good old days, these heathens could be silenced with the proper application of dungeons, torture chambers and burning stakes. Unfortunately, Christian leaders today don’t have that kind of power anymore. However, with the use of logical fallacies and semantic trickery, you can still be a valiant defender of the faith.
In fact, there’s an easy formula that you can follow which is often used by Christian apologists:
Step 1: The Ad Hominem
The first step in dealing with the Jesus Mythers is to simply dismiss them. After all, the easiest way to win this argument is not to have it. Most people in our world believe that Jesus existed. The last thing Christianity needs is a discussion that makes them aware that there’s actually not one shred of evidence that dates to the time of the alleged Christ to support that conviction.
The ad hominem, where you insult your opponent instead of addressing their arguments, is very useful in this end. Casually dismiss them as crack-pots or crazy conspiracy theorists. You can throw in a false association by asking rhetorically if they also believe in the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot or some similar mythical being. By this quip, you can help confuse who is the skeptic in the discussion and hopefully shift the burden of proof.
This tactic will probably not discourage the doubting heathen. In fact, they may object that you’re avoiding the issue by insulting them. Still, you’ve helped to set the tone of the debate and you can easily transition into step 2.
Say something along the lines of, “Oh, sorry if I sounded a bit harsh there but…”
Step 2: The Appeal to Authority
“…what else am I supposed to think of you when no historical scholar doubts the existence of Jesus?”
The appeal to authority is where you try to silence an opponent by referring to an expert or group of experts as sharing your belief. This is a logical fallacy because even experts are expected to provide evidence to support why they believe what they believe. “Because I said so” is not a logical argument even if the speaker is an expert.
The great thing about this logical fallacy is that many scholars are willing to assume the existence of a historical Jesus and leave this controversial character to the theologians. Although Christianity can’t burn heretics at the stake anymore, this multi-billion dollar industry with their millions of fanatical followers can still be a powerful and intimidating force. A professor’s career can be endangered if he or she has the temerity to question the existence of Jesus. Just ask Steve Bitterman, a community college professor in Iowa who says he was fired for questioning whether the story of Adam and Eve was just a fable[1]. Most historians have better things to worry about than putting their careers on the line just to make a point.
Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of brave scholars like Robert Price or Acharya S. who are willing to take on Christianity. You may need to combine the “no true Scotsman” fallacy in with your appeal to authority. The “no true Scotsman” is where you make a universal generalization about a certain group of people. When a contrary example is offered, you dismiss that example as not being a “true” member of that group. In this case, you can clarify, “No serious scholar doubts the existence of Jesus.” What is a “serious scholar”? One that doesn’t doubt the existence of Jesus, of course.
If the Jesus myther persists in demanding to know the evidence that has apparently “convinced” so many scholars that Jesus existed, transition to the next step.
Step 3: The Jesus-of-the-Gaps
You may want to prepare for this step early on by downplaying just how significant Jesus was in history. If you’re forced to this step by a particularly persistent skeptic, you’ll need to be ready to admit that there is not a shred of evidence that dates to the time Jesus allegedly lived that suggests he really existed. Claim that none of this matters because it’s unreasonable to expect that such an insignificant character would be noticed by anyone at that time.
Hopefully, you won’t be debating against anyone savvy enough with the Bible to know that it alleges that Jesus was famous and had a successful ministry (Matthew 4:23-25), that he fed thousands of families with magically generated food (Mark 6:37), or that he stirred up such controversy that the Jewish leaders conspired to have him killed. To argue for an insignificant Jesus is to contradict the Gospel accounts of his life. It also precludes the possibility that he was a miracle worker, for surely the kind of miracles that Jesus allegedly performed would have gotten someone’s attention.
If your opponent makes this annoying point, you’ll need to proceed to the next step.
Step 4: Compare Jesus to Another Historical Figure
If you’re unfortunate enough to be arguing against a clever Jesus myther that has forced you to this step, you’ll need to be prepared to lie. True, this breaks one of the Ten Commandments but remember that Jesus died to fulfill these ancient Hebrew Laws, so they no longer apply. The only value the Ten Commandments have these days is to annoy freethinkers by posting them on government property. If dishonesty bothers your conscience, remember that lying for Jesus isn’t really lying; it’s committing a “pious fraud”. Feel better?
In any event, this lie involves claiming that historians believe in the existence of other historical characters even though there’s no evidence contemporary with them. Fill in whatever example you like. You’re making it up anyway.
You might, for example, claim, “There’s more evidence for Jesus than there is for George Washington”.
When evidence for Washington is offered, switch to, “There’s more evidence for Jesus than there is for Julius Caesar.”
When evidence for Caesar is produced, switch to, “There’s more evidence for Jesus than there is for Plato.”
Repeat as needed, changing the character from history as you like. Maybe you’ll get lucky and pick one that your opponent isn’t familiar with.
If your opponent insists that you stop trying to change the subject and present the evidence you have to support the idea that Jesus ever existed, proceed to the next step.
Step 5: Josephus, Pliny, et al.
Although there’s not one scrap of evidence that dates to the time Jesus allegedly lived (this point bears repeating), there are some questionable references to him that date to the end of the first century or the first half of the second. These references range from the doctored passage from Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews” (when Christians alter a document, make sure that you call that an “interpolation”; it sounds better than forgery) to Pliny’s letter to Trajan which confirms the existence of second century Christians (it says nothing to confirm the existence of a historical Jesus but hopefully no one will notice).
Bringing up these late references is changing the subject somewhat, since your opponent may have asked for evidence contemporary with Jesus. Don’t let this bother you anymore than the problems with each of these pieces of “historical evidence”. Remember, you’re a person of faith and faith doesn’t require you to be reasonable.
If your opponent is educated enough to know the problems with each of these references and brings you back to the subject of the dearth of evidence that is contemporary with your godman, simply retreat back to step 2 and claim that "all the scholars don't agree with you that the evidence is inadequate".

If that doesn't work, proceed to the final step.
Step 6: Wash, Rinse, Repeat
When your back is against the wall and your opponent has refuted all your arguments and now demands you to produce a shred of evidence to support idea that Jesus existed, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by employing the most annoying of logical fallacies: Argumentum Ad Infinitum. Claim that you’ve already submitted evidence. When the skeptic points out that you haven’t, repeat your claim that you have. Go back to repeating any of the steps that we’ve already covered. Shamelessly trot out arguments that have already been shot down. Eventually, the skeptic will get tired of the repetition and give up. At this point, you “win”. Praise the sweet name of Jesus!

[1] "Teacher: I was Fired, said Bible isn't Literal", Megan Hawkins, Des Moines Register, Sept 22, 2007

Jacobs ladder

Genesis 28:10-17: Jacob left Beersheba and started out for Haran. He reached a certain place and stopped for the night. The sun had already set. He took one of the stones there and placed it under his head. Then he lay down to sleep. In a dream he saw a stairway standing on the earth. Its top reached to heaven. The angels of God were going up and coming down on it. The Lord stood above the stairway. He said, "I am the Lord. I am the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your children after you the land on which you are lying. They will be like the dust of the earth that can't be counted. They will spread out to the west and to the east. They will spread out to the north and to the south. All nations on earth will be blessed because of you and your children after you. I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go. And I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Jacob woke up from his sleep. Then he thought, "The Lord is certainly in this place. And I didn't even know it." Jacob was afraid. He said, "How holy this place is! This must be the house of God. This is the gate of heaven."

Now the interesting part of this verse is the following: "All nations on earth will be blessed because of you and your children after you". Do you as Christians believe that all nations on earth have been blessed by god? If no, why not? God clearly stated that ALL nations will be blessed.

If all nations have been blessed, it is hard to understand why we are having all the turmoil in the world. If they have been blessed but that does not prevent turmoil, just what did the blessing accomplish? If they have not been blessed, then the passage is wrong.

Friday, April 15, 2011


In Exodus 7:10+ how can that act of going ‘One On One’ with Moses’ miracles such as the staff turning into a serpent or the staff turning the water to blood, etc… be explained? This wasn’t just 3 Card Monte or slight of the hand tricks. These were huge events that took place.  Yet Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform them as well. If Jesus is the basis for a miracle, then how could this have occurred in the bible?

8 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 9 When Pharaoh shall say to you, Show signs; you shall say to Aaron: Take your rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, and it shall be turned into a serpent. 10 So Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and did as the Lord had commanded. And Aaron took the rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it was turned into a serpent. 11 And Pharaoh called the wise men and the magicians; and they also by Egyptian enchantments and certain secrets, did in like manner. 12 And they every one cast down their rods, and they were turned into serpents: but Aaron's rod devoured their rods. 13 And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not hearken to them, as the Lord had commanded.

And the Lord said to Moses: Go in to Pharaoh, and you shall say to him: Thus says the Lord: Let my people go to sacrifice to me. 2 But if you will not let them go, behold I will strike all your coasts with frogs. 3 And the river shall bring forth an abundance of frogs; which shall come up and enter into your house, and your bedchamber, and upon your bed, and into the houses of your servants, and to your people, and into your ovens, and into the remains of your meats: 4 And the frogs shall come in to you, and to your people, and to all your servants. 5 And the Lord said to Moses: Say to Aaron: Stretch forth your hand upon the streams, and upon the rivers and the pools, and bring forth frogs upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched forth his hand upon the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians also, by their enchantments, did in like manner, and they brought forth frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 But Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron, and said to them: Pray to the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. 9 And Moses said to Pharaoh: Set me a time when I shall pray for you, and for your servants, and for your people, that the frogs may be driven away from you and from your house, and from your servants, and from your people; and may remain only in the river. 10 And he answered: Tomorrow. But he said: I will do according to your word; that you may know that there is none like to the Lord our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from you, and from your house, and from your servants, and from your people; and shall remain only in the river. 12 And Moses and Aaron went forth from Pharaoh: and Moses cried to the Lord for the promise, which he had made to Pharaoh concerning the frogs. 13 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses: and the frogs died out of the houses, and out of the villages, and out of the fields: 14 And they gathered them together into immense heaps, and the land was corrupted. 15 And Pharaoh seeing that rest was given, hardened his own heart, and did not hear them, as the Lord had commanded.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Was Jesus buried for three days?

As Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate Easter, they will follow a familiar chronology: Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on “the third day,” in the words of the ancient Nicene Creed.
But if Jesus died at 3 p.m. Friday and vacated his tomb by dawn Sunday morning — about 40 hours later — how does that make three days?
The chronology conundrum is "a bit of a puzzle," said Marcus Borg, a progressive biblical scholar and co-author of "The Last Week," a book about Holy Week.
But Borg and other experts say the puzzle can be solved if you know how first-century Jews counted time, and grant the four evangelists a little poetic license.
Jews of Jesus' time followed a lunar calendar, meaning that days began at sunset. For them, Saturday night was actually Sunday, a schedule that still guides Jewish holy days, such as Shabbat.
Ancient Jews also used what scholars call "inclusive reckoning," meaning any part of a day is counted as a whole day, said Clinton Wahlen of the Seventh-day Adventist Biblical Research Institute in Silver Spring, Md.
Using these counting methods, a backward calculation from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon makes three days.

(Matthew 12:40) – “for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

The author tries to get around the problem with this verse by saying that you can count a part of the day as one of the three days, therefore, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are three days. Whether that is true or not, it does not resolve the issue that the verse also says three nights. And there was only two nights involved here, Friday and Saturday night.

Do animals act altruistically?

There are many occurances in the animal world where animals help out others.

Perhaps the highest degree of altruism is giving up your life so that others can live. For example:

•Individual bees defend their colonies to the point of killing themselves. You risk being stung disturbing a honeybee nest. The sting from a bee embeds in your skin and when the bee flies away the embedded sting pulls out the bee’s viscera killing the bee. Bees act altruistically by sacrificing themselves for their colony.

•Some animals, such as robins and thrushes, place their lives in danger when warning others of an approaching raptor, eg a hawk, by emitting a high pitched whistle. Whistles are difficult for raptors to pinpoint but might nevertheless reveal the caller’s position, who could then fall prey to the raptor. Meerkats (above graphic) post sentinels to watch for danger from predators and the sentinels are similarly at risk when sounding their alarm. Sentinels are acting altruistically.

There is always a cost of some sort in altruistic behaviour, although the cost need not necessarily endanger the altruist’s life. Two examples of altruism not involving danger come from wild chimpanzees:

•Chimpanzees eat plants and fruit but occasionally catch and eat baboons. A chimpanzee who catches a baboon sometimes gives bits of the carcass to soliciting chimpanzees. By giving away the food the altruist loses potential nourishment.

•The adoption of orphaned infants is another altruism characteristic of chimpanzees, and humans. A major loss to the altruist is the energy put into raising someone else’s offspring.

Take, for example, the story of a female western lowland gorilla named Binti Jua, Swahili for “daughter of sunshine,” who lived in the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. One summer day in 1996, a three-year-old boy climbed the wall of the gorilla enclosure at Brookfield and fell twenty feet onto the concrete floor below. As spectators gaped and the boy’s mother screamed in terror, Binti Jua approached the unconscious boy. She reached down and gently lifted him, cradling him in her arms while her own infant, Koola, clung to her back. Growling warnings at the other gorillas who tried to get close, Binti Jua carried the boy safely to an access gate and the waiting zoo staff.

Even more striking, within this huge repertoire of prosocial behaviors, particular patterns of behavior seem to constitute a kind of animal morality. Mammals living in tight social groups appear to live according to codes of conduct, including both prohibitions against certain kinds of behavior and expectations for other kinds of behavior. They live by a set of rules that fosters a relatively harmonious and peaceful coexistence. They’re naturally cooperative, will offer aid to their fellows, sometimes in return for like aid, sometimes with no expectation of immediate reward. They build relationships of trust. What’s more, they appear to feel for other members of their communities, especially relatives, but also neighbors and sometimes even strangers—often showing signs of what looks very much like compassion and empathy.

Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark - a monster great white that came out of nowhere - had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone. That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life

Is manmade climate change actually occurring?

This concept is taking the assumptions that:

1) there is climate change occurring
2) that man is responsible or at least mostly responsible
3) that we can actually make any real impact even if we do try and change our behavior.

1. I would cheerfully agree that the climate is changing. It has been changing since the world was formed. The world has gotten warmer and colder many times before people or our evil SUV's existed. It will continue to change for as long as the world exists.

2. The more critical concern. The cause and effects is what is driving this debate. There are many studies showing that the warming trend has slowed or reversed during the last decade. Hence the need to call it climate change instead of global warming. Therefore, no matter what the climate does, it fits the theory. As it is often said about Creation Science, or Intelligent Design, it is a theory that can predict anything, which means it is useless. There was a report out in the last week where it is being projected that the world will be substantially cooler starting in 2014. The world keeps warming and cooling regardless of our activities. I find it fascinating that the roles of atheists and theists have been reserved in this debate. The theists are asking for more proof and definite proof before we start making radical changes to our economy. Normally, it is the atheists asking for the proof. Kind of ironic, really. Now, how do we know that humans are responsible? Why, from computer models. So, once we move beyond computer models, what is the actual proof? It disappears.

3. The real kicker.  We would have to revert to carbon outputs from the 1800’s. That simply is not going to happen. At the recent Copenhagen conference, the participants agreed that even if their proposals were enacted it would not make any difference. So, we are going to commit economic suicide and not even get any benefit from it. I would say that is the real definition of insanity.

Now, having said all that, is it possible that I could be wrong and mankind is responsible? Of course, absolutely. I just believe we should make sure of the data before committing economic suicide. I will also say I believe that science will be the determining factor of what is the truth.