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Mar 11 2007

The clownish arguments of Dan Marvin: Part 1

Well well well. I go away for a week, and look what happens. I know, I said I’d be back to deal with the nonsensical disquisitions of Dan Marvin. But I wasn’t expecting an 80+ comment-long thread in which I’d be treated to some of the most flagrant displays of ignorance and dishonesty I’ve seen from an evangelical in a long time &#151 complete with gloriously unflinching rebuttals to same.

This is, of course, what having an atheist blog is all about, and I’m utterly delighted. I’ve had nothing but pleasure in observing the punishment Dan has been dealt at the hands of Stephen, Tracie, and other commenters here.

However, lest any of you think there is no more to be said, rest assured, I have plenty to say. And as I’m not limited to replying to just one or two posts from Dan, I can over the course of the entire comments thread make an assessment of his overall pattern of arguing. Hopefully, this will prove both a convenience to readers here who don’t wish to devote an afternoon to reading over 85 comments, and instructive in helping other atheist arguers out there try to comprehend and navigate the whirlpool of confusion that is the mind of the fundamentalist.

I suppose it should have come as a kind of bleak foreshadowing when Dan confessed to being an admirer of Ray “Banana Boy” Comfort, evangelism’s greatest unintentional comedian, that we weren’t going to be dealing with a guy who was firing on all five cylinders here. But Dan exhibits all of Comfort’s least admirable character flaws, a selective reading (informed by flat ignorance) of the contents of his own beloved Scripture, married to a form of scientific illiteracy that is made doubly infuriating by an undeserved smug confidence. There’s probably nothing more exasperating than a scientifically illiterate person attempting to lecture scientifically literate people on science, and in the second part of these posts, I’ll supply the corrective Dan needs to remedy this little error.

While it’s nice of Dan to think he needs to use “kid gloves” in his own posts, here the gloves come off. Dan, welcome to school.


I. Dan’s Biblical dodgeball

In his first of many posts, Dan attempts to respond to my bullet points in a manner that starts poorly and gets increasingly inept as the comment rebuttals come in. He first tries to whitewash the Doctrine of Hell in a way that indicates he completely skimmed over the very first of those bullet points: remember, most of us here used to be Christian and have read Scripture. Indeed, it’s because we read it and understood its implications that is a large part of why we left the Christian fold. Dan writes:

Hell was not created to punish the ones that “doubted” God; it was created to punish the morally evil people.

Stephen immediately heads this one off at the pass, pointing out that there are many passages in scripture that make it abundantly clear that mere disbelief is all that is necessary for condemnation to the lake o’ fire. Dan’s reply to this:

When Martin said ”chooses to punish people with an eternity of torture “for” doubting his existence” I was under the impression that he meant just because you doubt you go to hell, which is not the case, our sins is what we are judged by, as well as doubting, not just doubting.

Okay, class, it’s Reading Comprehension 101 time. Let’s look specifically at each of the preceding passages I referenced.

Mark 6:16: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

John 3:18: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

If anything in the hopeless literary mishmash that is the Bible seems unambiguously clear, it’s this. Nowhere in any of these scriptures does it say that that disbelief-plus-sinful behavior is the required combination for being hellbound. Nowhere in any of them does it say that an unbeliever who nonetheless lives his life virtuously will get a pass to Heaven on general principles. Instead, it’s quite simple: Don’t believe? Go directly to hell.

Dan and other Christians might try to worm out of this one by saying it’s all a moot point, that we’re all born into sin and are thus condemned merely for being alive in the first place — a position of sheer misanthropy so sickening I’m really at a loss for words to condemn it adequately. But that would not change the reality that there are those passages in scripture stating without equivocation that disbelief alone will earn you lunch-special placement on Satan’s Barbecue of Souls.

Dan has ignored another of my bullet points. Don’t make logical fallacies. The fallacy Dan is flailing in here is called shifting the goalposts, in which one attempts to change one’s views, or at least the premise of their argument, in mid-argument. Dan starts by saying, “No no, God won’t condemn you for not believing in him, only for your sinful ways,” then, when shown scriptures saying that’s exactly what God will do, he waves his hands and says “No no, what I meant was that God will condemn you for not believing in him as well as for your sinful ways.” The pitiful thing is that Dan thinks we won’t notice this. Once more with feeling: what’s the hallmark of an amateur arguer? Yup. The open employment of logical fallacies.

Stephen follows up with the correct assessment that in a world where everyone sins, “the only differentiating factor is belief.” He then ambushes Dan with a fantastic pop quiz of the sort that makes Christians utterly livid when arguing with atheists, the kind designed to get straight “no spin zone” answers about exactly what it is they believe. I don’t think I could’ve done better than this if I’d tried.

True or false: A horrible, genocidal monster who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and accepts him into his heart on his death bed goes to Heaven.

True or false: A sweet, loving little girl who dishonored her mother once by crying when she was hungry, dies without accepting Jesus into her heart, so she burns in Hell for all eternity.

Multiple choice:
A sinner accepts Jesus into his heart at age six, and is therefore forgiven for all sins, past, present and future. Later, one of those sins is doubt that God exists after all.
a) Will he go to Heaven because, once saved, he was always saved?
b) Will he go to Hell for being born a sinner, by no fault of his own?
c) Will he go to Hell for discontinuing belief?

Caught like a deer in the headlights by this direct confrontation, Dan resorts to an Olympic-quality feat of rhetorical calisthenics to avoid anything like a direct answer. Replying to the first of the three, Dan squirms as follows:

Not sure by that example. I don’t know the level of righteousness and only God can judge that. BTW No where in the bible does it say accept Jesus in your heart to be saved. That is quite an insult.

Who knew that bullshit was such a compressible solid? Dan’s packed more of it in those few sentences than can be dealt with using an
ything short of a high-pressure hose. First, what has the “level of righteousness” got to do with a damn thing? I suspect that the point Dan is making here is that if someone makes a dishonest or false conversion, then God will see through their dishonesty, being such a smart guy, after all, and promptly eject them into hell anyway.

But so what? That little detail is irrelevant to Stephen’s question. Stephen posed a hypothetical scenario, so let’s assume that, for the sake of argument, Dan is being asked to consider that the genocidal killer’s deathbed confession is truthfully 100% sincere. What then is Dan’s answer? If Dan wanted to follow scripture, the only correct answer could be “yes,” as Christian teaching makes it clear that all one’s sins can be forgiven and washed away in the blood of the lamb, and all that. But Dan has at least enough synapses firing to recognize that Stephen has laid a trap for him to get him to state outright that there are ways for the world’s Adolfs to get into Heaven while more virtuous people — perhaps not sinless in Christianity’s ugly worldview, but at least not monstrous, genocidal killers &#151 may find themselves thrown in hell for far less heinous offenses.

So the best Dan can offer is a mealy-mouthed “I dunno,” followed by an attempt at distraction by huffing and puffing over Stephen’s use of the phrase “accept Jesus in your heart.” Coming from a guy who has himself already rather blatantly claimed the Bible says things it doesn’t say, and doesn’t say things it actually says, this is about as hilarious a scene of getting caught with his pants down as Dan could suffer. Stephen, being no slouch, recognizes Dan’s dodge for what it is and calls him on it front and center.

Dan fares no better in his reply to the second scenario.

…you are not dishonoring your mother by crying “I’m hungry, mumsy”. You dishonor your mom for example by arguing with her because you want to stay out until 3am instead of the 10pm rule and you stay out until 3am anyway.

Wow. Does Dan really believe a kid deserves eternity in hellfire just because she stays out past curfew? The guy’s not exactly making a very appealing argument for his god’s loving, fatherly nature, is he?

Dan, again, resents being trapped into saying the Bible advocates certain things, like ghastly eternal punishments for children. Here his reply is even more brazen. The guy who just attacked Stephen for using a phrase that isn’t in the Bible (despite the fact Stephen never claimed he got it from the Bible in the first place) now just plain makes up a position for the Bible on a subject that troubles him morally.

YES the bible is clear of that, “FOR ADULTS” but I believe all children go to heaven it is just logical.

Logical? Maybe. Biblical? Not at all. Again, take a quick scriptural read-through and you’ll see God making no distinction whatsoever between adult and child when he orders those who don’t worship him and oppress his chosen people put to the sword. (Okay, maybe I could understand ordering those who enslave your chosen people to be taught a nasty lesson, but what did their kids ever do?) Try Exodus 11:4-6, 1 Samuel 15:3, Hosea 13:16; and Psalm 137:8-9 for starters. Now, is Dan going to suggest that when God ordered the massacre of the Amalekites, the Midianites, and the Egyptian first-born, he went ahead and sent the adults’ souls to hell but gave those of the children to Heaven, on account of his being such a swell guy? And if so, what scripture would Dan get that from?

With Dan’s answer to this, we have a shining example of why I and many other Atheist Experience alums often refer to the Bible as Christianity’s Big Book of Multiple Choice. Point out something in their Bible that is undeniably morally reprehensible, and Christians will either tap dance around it all day, or “interpret” it out of all recognition — anything to avoid having to face the clear moral atrocities condoned and even ordered by God in its pages, and the quandary that puts Christians in when having to deal with the Doctrine of Hell and Problem of Evil. Pick ‘n’ choose, pick ‘n’ choose. In the end, the Bible is the Divine Word of God, and yet it somehow always says what they wish it to say.

Now, Stephen responds to Dan’s waffling with Mark 10:15, which is probably not the best choice since it can be interpreted to mean that one must experience conversion with the wide-eyed, unquestioning mental state of a trusting child, not necessarily that they must convert while still a child in age. But there we go again with the “interpretation” business (something Christians like to call hermeneutics, which, though it might sound all scholarly and stuff, still amounts to “let’s make sure the Bible says what we want it to say”). I think it would have been much more to the point to go back to John 3:18 and 3:36 and note that, just as there is no qualifier about sinful behavior, neither is there an exception made for youth. Dan’s “logical” belief that all children go to Heaven by default is just something he made up to counter an aspect of his religion he finds morally troubling — another hint, if one were needed, that perhaps Christians don’t get all their morals from their Bible the way they think they do.

(By the by, Mark 10:14 and 2 Samuel 12:22-23, which Dan later references to support his point, in fact say nothing on the subject of whether or not children go to hell.)

Finally, Dan squeezes out a popcorn fart of a nonanswer in reply to the multiple-choice scenario, mumbling something about real belief versus “going through the motions” that addresses nothing in particular. With this, Dan ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. Stephen administers the coup de grace with a nice little summing up that I could not improve upon. (Stephen is really good at that sort of thing.)

I noticed that each of your answers to my quiz questions was a noncommittal “I don’t know.” That’s a fine answer for a scientist to offer, but someone who claims to have special knowledge from an all-knowing God really ought to have a better idea of what it takes to get into the club. Why hasn’t God made the correct answers to these important doctrinal questions more clear?

As we’ve seen, Dan Marvin is a rank amateur. It’s taken a lot of guts for him to drop by and take on the old pros. But I promised that we wouldn’t allow bad arguments to slide, and the commenters here have lived up to that promise admirably. I don’t suspect Dan has learned anything; the depth of his fundamentalist indoctrination appears to have rendered him ineducable, and though he claims to appreciate Stephen’s getting him to think, a real resentment does seem to seep through. Nevertheless, it’s the duty of smart and honest people not to give foolishness and dishonesty a pass, and here at The Atheist Experience, you can rely on us to be on the job.


Next: Dan’s scientific illiteracy earns him a knuckle-rapping with the big wooden ruler, and he’s sent to the corner with the pointy hat.

22 comments

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  1. 1
    Atheist in a mini van.

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.I really enjoyed that synopsis of events. I read the large comment thread and thought Dan was getting his ass handed to him pretty effectively.

  2. 2
    The Super Sweet Atheist

    Lurker here. First comment. Wonderful post…so much ammo and so little time.My fundie relatives don’t argue with me anymore. Like Dan they don’t know the bible very well and don’t enjoy being upstaged by an atheist. I would imagine it’s not a nice feeling.

  3. 3
    Andrew

    Nice post, Martin. I look forward to seeing what you thought of the rest of the debate (if we are even calling it that).

  4. 4
    Stephen

    Now, Stephen responds to Dan’s waffling with Mark 10:15, which is probably not the best choice … … I think it would have been much more to the point to go back to John 3:18 and 3:36 and note that, just as there is no qualifier about sinful behavior, neither is there an exception made for youth. Dan’s “logical” belief that all children go to Heaven by default is just something he made up to counter an aspect of his religion he finds morally troubling — another hint, if one were needed, that perhaps Christians don’t get all their morals from their Bible the way they think they do.(By the by, Mark 10:14 and 2 Samuel 12:22-23, which Dan later references to support his point, in fact say nothing on the subject of whether or not children go to hell.)Yeah, I was trying to head him off at the pass, but Dan went ahead and used Mark 10:14 anyway, apparently oblivious that I basically refuted the argument he used before he even made it. He’s not paying close enough attention to understand and respond meaningfully to anything we say, he’s just reacting reflexively with the defenses he has been programmed to use.Incidentally, 2 Samuel 12:22-23 can be interpreted in many ways, as well. In this passage, King David laments over his dead child, “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” When Dan reads this, he thinks it means David will go to Heaven (where Dan circularly presumes the child is), but the child will not return to live on Earth. When I read the same passage, I think it means simply that David will also die, but the child will not return to life. This passage only supports Dan’s interpretation if King David was speaking with New Testament theology of Heaven and Hell in mind–which, I daresay, he probably wasn’t. Instead, he was probably speaking from the perspective of Old Testament Hebrew theology, which did not incorporate concepts of an afterlife until much later, after exposure to such ideas from the Greeks and other neighboring civilizations. The closest the OT gets to talking about an afterlife is through the use of the Hebrew words Sheol (the Grave) and Abaddon (Destruction). There is no equivalent to Heaven. The Old Covenant was about receiving rewards for rigteousness in life. Even Job supposedly received his reward in life. The context of this passage, including the context of the era in which it was written, supports my interpretation far better than Dan’s. However, because Dan picks and chooses what to believe first, and only later selects any and all passages he can find that might even tangentially support those preconceived notions, he believes there is only one plausible interpretation for this (or any) passage: his. Often, he doesn’t even explain his interpretation, he just drops the verse and assumes it means the same thing to everybody that it means to him. Yes, Dan is just that self-absorbed!

  5. 5
    D.A.N.

    Sorry typo but I am sure you all are used to it. This is worth repeating although I retracted it in the earlier post:.” Dan isn’t trolling, but is a sincere guy who doesn’t want us all to go to hell. I’m happy to have Dan visiting us,” John Wayne Gacy used to invite people into his house give them milk and cookies and then cut them to pieces, do you have this same mentality, where are your manners? OK I retract it. I still love you although I pity you as I am sure you do the same for me. We can always agree to disagree and call it a day. God reveals himself clearly. Stop the post modern thinking that we have to figure him out or the worst have to find evidence of him. I thought that at a point in my life but it was a weak moment and was counterproductive. I crawled back to God humbled and retentive and he accepted me back and he will accept you back also if you are serious about letting him lead you. God spoke his words and you have a choice now to believe it or not. To attack a Christian is unnecessary and again counterproductive. Use your anger to attack the cause to combat and help stop the starving children in Africa, not to attack a dude no bigger or smaller then yourselves. I was just told of a book called THE TRUTH WAR it would be a good book to read, it debunks the exact thing these atheist are doing here at this blog.In reference to most of your high minded opinion of yourselves, I have thought of a good verse for all of you to think about. It’s when God instructed Moses to preach the word and lead his people. Exodus 4:10-12Have a great day all and I wish you the bestFor Him,Dan

  6. 6
    Martin

    John Wayne Gacy used to invite people into his house give them milk and cookies and then cut them to pieces, do you have this same mentality, where are your manners? OK I retract it.Cripes, does this man’s stupidity know no end? No, that remark isn’t worth repeating because it has nothing to do with our relationship to you vis-a-vis this blog. Remember, you came to us, we never sought you out. And, since you seem to think that the proper way to behave after losing every argument you’ve tried to make since you’ve been here is to spout childish comments comparing us to serial killers, then just as childishly going “tee hee hee, just kidding,” — not to mention hypocritically following that up with a whine about how “unnecessary” it is to attack Christians and a bizarre non-sequitur about starving children — then consider this a formal retraction of the statement that I was happy to have you here. On second thought, no, I won’t retract that statement, and I am still happy to have you here, because you’ve done more to demonstrate the embarrassing mental chaos of fundamentalist foolishness in the past week than we ever could have done. Your performance here has been so bad that you’ve actually embarrassed at least one other Christian. You should think about that — but you won’t. As for our own high-minded opinions of ourselves, can we help it if you’ve validated them? Simple fact: we know what we’re talking about. You don’t. Since you have again stated that being able to back up one’s arguments (at least those concerning the Christian God) with evidence is “counterproductive,” and that it’s better just to believe all of Christianity’s claims without the slightest recourse to the act of thought, nothing you say here can have any intellectual value. You have effectively stated that to be a good Christian like you, we have no choice but to surrender the very use of our minds and give in to uncritical belief, which is to say, be stupid on purpose. Once again, gang: LOGICAL FALLACIES. Now Dan’s using one called Special Pleading. As there is no reason simply to accept Dan’s premise that Christianity and its claims deserve to bypass the same rigorous investigative process that human beings use to establish the validity of any other truth claim, his opinions can be dismissed as the ravings of a fanatic.

  7. 7
    TXatheist

    Just do what Dan does, delete comments, then you won’t have to answer them, just say they were blasphemous and that ends the discussion.

  8. 8
    Martin

    Thing is, we’re just too honest for that! (And besides, Dan deletes critical comments because he can’t refute them. We aren’t exactly having that problem!)

  9. 9
    D.A.N.

    Christianity is not a flue shot. Your entire life will be transformed forever. I submit this sermon as something I was relating to you but most wanted to ignore it and blame me for the message. Now we talked about a great deal of thing and speculated about what God is thinking and what God might do in a hypothetical situations and I was only doing that, speculating. If I am wrong in the message of the gospel then God will punish me more then you but if I am right then you will have something to be afraid of and that is God’s wrath. But the message is clear in the Bible. If your Christianity is genuine it will last, even if you try to run away from it you will not be able to. What matters is that if Jesus knows who you are not the other way around. For Him,Dan

  10. 10
    Zed

    Martin, you are a saint for having the patience wade through the crap that is being shoveled here.Dave, it might if you read the book first but, since it is un-reviewed and not commented on gives me a clue that it is so pedestrian that it is not worth debunking.You are misusing post-modern. Post-modernism and your theology have a lot in common. It is all relative to the hole you are trying dig yourself out of. As for the sermon, it did took but 5 minutes to get to the, you’re going to hell if you don’t tow the line and the line is held by the false prophet priest.Bottom line Dave, you are a tedious wind bag. Nothing in the slightest is original about your arguments and you have had a 2000 year head start and yet remain empty handed and empty headed.Zed

  11. 11
    Stephen

    If I am wrong in the message of the gospel then God will punish me more then you but if I am right then you will have something to be afraid of and that is God’s wrath.Either way, then, it is very, very important to establish which of us knows the truth.We have made a real effort to show you, through at least three different arguments, why it doesn’t make sense to trust in God, independent of whether or not he “exists”.Your rebuttal? Be stupid on purpose! (Thanks for the nutshell summary, Martin. You totally pegged the apocryphal Gospel According to Dan!)Your approach does not strike me as an effective method for discovering truth.But the message is clear in the Bible. If your Christianity is genuine it will last, even if you try to run away from it you will not be able to.As per Romans 9:18, I presume.No matter, though. You have amply demonstrated that “genuine” Christianity, Christian apologetics, and even Christian evangelism have even less worth than the limited, vulnerable minds they infect. The willful ignorance you have offered us appears to contain nothing more of significant value than did the identical-looking, presumably “false” Christianity we abandoned years ago, for very good reasons.

  12. 12
    Stephen

    God reveals himself clearly.Well, we still don’t perceive any God or gods, so the God you have in mind clearly isn’t revealing himself clearly.God spoke his words and you have a choice now to believe it or not.Oh, you’re calling yourself God now? You spoke, and we made our choice: it doesn’t make sense to believe in your God. We made that choice about the Christian God long ago, but every time someone like you comes along, we openly reevaluate that choice. Curiously, the result is consistently the same: disbelief in God turns out to be the right choice.In reference to most of your high minded opinion of yourselves, I have thought of a good verse for all of you to think about. It’s when God instructed Moses to preach the word and lead his people. Exodus 4:10-12Not to diminish your high minded opinion of yourself, but you are not Moses. Sure, you have a few communication difficulties, but there’s at least one big difference between that story and yours: God didn’t come through for you.Now ask yourself: Was your unqualified failure here the result of trying to convey a message that was not in alignment with your God’s will? Or was your God just punishing you for your unearned sense of pride?Please spare us the mock self-pity. It doesn’t make you or your faith look any better than your signature self-aggrandizement. In your prideful boasting and anemic follow-through, you have publicly and permanently rendered yourself an embarrassment to your God, to Christianity, to Christians, and perhaps eventually to your wife and kids. But not to the one person who should be the most ashamed of all–yourself.Prov. 11:2: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”You might try being a little less cocky next time.

  13. 13
    Tom Foss

    Christianity is not a flue shot. Your entire life will be transformed forever.I guess when Martin said that most of us are former Christians, Dan must have had his blinders on. See, my life hasn’t really changed since my deconversion, and I suspect the same can be said for most of the folks ’round here. If I am wrong in the message of the gospel then God will punish me more then you but if I am right then you will have something to be afraid of and that is God’s wrath.This, Dan, is called Pascal’s Wager. It was pretty conclusively refuted shortly after Blaise Pascal proposed it almost 400 years ago. For something that is so important to you as evangelizing, sermonizing, and spreading the faith, Dan, you really ought to learn a little of the history and writings vital to those pursuits. Yes, if we’re wrong and you’re right, then we’ll all have to faith the wrath of God. But Pascal’s Wager contains a false dilemma, where a hypothetical situation contains only two choices, while in real life there are far more than two. What if we’re both wrong, Dan? What if Allah is the one true God, and he doesn’t care for your heretical worship of this Jesus Christ fella? What if the Valkyries decide that you are worthy of Valhalla, where you will wait with the other holy warriors until Ragnarok? What if you are condemned to the Underworld in Hades’s realm, where you will drink from the lethe waters of the river Styx and forget all the nonsense of this world? What if you are reincarnated as a cow, to make up for your closed-mindedness in this life? Religion’s not true-or-false, it’s multiple-choice.

  14. 14
    Atheist in a mini van.

    Dan said: Use your anger to attack the cause to combat and help stop the starving children in Africa, not to attack a dude no bigger or smaller then yourselves. Wow! That’s the pot calling the kettle black! How about you give all of the time, energy, and money you spend worshipping a mystical sky fairy and channel it into solving world hunger?How about you use all of that prayer capacity to actually change someone’s life in a way that’s above-and-beyond the standard, Christian: “You’ll be in my prayers.”?? In reference to most of your high minded opinion of yourselves, I have thought of a good verse for all of you to think about. It’s when God instructed Moses to preach the word and lead his people. Exodus 4:10-12Again…pot, meet kettle. Do I have a high minded opinion of myself? Probably! Do you? DEFINITELY. In fact, I’d wager that you think you are “better” than most of the people on this planet. Your smug and arrogant demeanor is abundantly apparent. Anyone who walks into a room and says, “You’re wrong and I’m right!”, without offering up any solid evidence, has to have a large set of cajones on him. If I am wrong in the message of the gospel then God will punish me more then you but if I am right then you will have something to be afraid of and that is God’s wrath. No. If you are wrong, then there will be no God to punish you. And, your inner masochist will be disappointed. All of those hours preaching that could’ve been spent ACTUALLY HELPING another human being will have been wasted. But the message is clear in the Bible.No. It’s not clear. That’s why there are so many different religions. Furthermore, if the message is clear, then why spend all of that time agonizing over each and every passage? Why are their BILLIONS of dollars tied up in writing bible studies and materials to help people “understand God’s message”? For something that’s so “abundantly clear”, there’s sure a lot of people profitting from the cliff notes.

  15. 15
    bernarda

    Here is a book that needs to be translated into English soon.”Quand Notre Monde est Devenu Chrétien(312-394)” by Paul Veyne.”When Our World Became Christian”The xians were a multitude of minor fringe sects until Emperor Constantine decided to convert. Constantine told them to get their act together and come up with one story–not so simple, but entirely arbitrary.http://www.amazon.fr/Quand-notre-devenu-chr%C3%A9tien-312-394/dp/2226176098/ref=sr_1_1/403-3708893-2485261?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173782681&sr=1-1Then there is “Lost Christianities:The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew” by Bart Ehrman.http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Christianities-Battles-Scripture-Faiths/dp/0195141830/ref=sr_1_9/104-1293993-2294316?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173783266&sr=1-9Once again it is question of the entirely arbitrary choice of dogma.Ehrman has a new book out, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why”http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060859512/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-1293993-2294316?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173783266&sr=1-1

  16. 16
    TXatheist

    Martin,Dan has deleted your comments and mine from his blog. What a coward. No cursing or anything, just honest assessment of his cowardice to have a civil discourse.

  17. 17
    Martin

    Well, I only ever commented there once. It tends to be a feature of fundamentalist blogs that discussion is never a two-way street. We will, being honest people, leave all of Dan’s comments up here.

  18. 18
    D.A.N.

    As to not be misinterpreted, misrepresented, and misquoted. Twisted tornadoes and accusatory dialog is pointless here on both our parts. From now on I will only give you verses for an answer. It appears our group here is revolting against me because they feel I misrepresented the Bible somehow to them and they are offended or the appearance of.So for example instead of an opinion like: “Let’s look at the basic Justice scale: Lie to your parents get spanked, move on. Lie to a teacher, principle’s office. Lie to a cop, face the judge. Lie to a judge, contempt of court, minor jail time. As the authority gets higher, the same offence warrants a greater punishment. God created the universe and is eternal; therefore, He has the final say in ALL things; So on your death when facing a Holy God, to avoid Hell, what are you going to do? Lie to the greatest authority in existence?”Instead of voicing true concerns it appears that the main group (with a few exceptions) is merely gathering ammo to refute later to make themselves feel superior and rendering themselves pointless. I am disappointed in Martin’s deceitfulness in so called “welcoming” me to discuss only attempt to belittle and degrade me. The so called “rules for engagement” rendered any opinion (outside of there’s) obsolete so I am reduced to just Bible verses. I have said things I regret and have repented and I have no ill will to any of you, I was conveying what I believe to be true. Life is a journey to find God. There was a brief point in my life I studied the Gnostics and apocryphal and I ran away from God. I lived in Houston and was very successful. I helped start a company to sell POS touch screen systems. I even sold, installed, and trained for a new system in a club just north of Highland Mall in Austin. We were rolling in money and I gave it all up because God was pulling me back. So Austin is very familiar to me. South Congress Café has great breakfasts BTW. Why am I saying all this? I want to let those out there know that there is hope for you. I had success and wealth and as many contacts as anyone else on this blog and it never completed me. God was pulling me back and I gave success and worldly things up for God. It was worth it because I actually found God. I am not a flake or a ruse as these people would have you believe. I genuinely found salvation and this angry mob would have you believe otherwise but the truth is the truth. My journey helped me find God and without a single doubt I am written in the book of life and will go to heaven to be with Jesus. To help atheists understand that, I have to work on more. But we all know that is not my “Job” right. To focus your anger at the proper authority, from this point forward I will use bible verses, because you can not refute or personally attack or get confused with the word of God, although I am sure you all just might. Here are my first responses to back up what I have been saying all along. John 15:18-21Rom 9:1-33

  19. 19
    Matt D.

    “From now on I will only give you verses for an answer.”That gets my vote for “Most Creative Goodbye Post of the Month” – I’d have gone bigger, but I’ve read similar stuff too many times.Enjoy your world, and if you ever want to step back out into reality and have a discussion rooted in reason and evidence, we’ll be here.

  20. 20
    Don

    …because you can not refute or personally attack or get confused with the word of God, although I am sure you all just mightWait. First you say we cannot refure, personally attack, or get confused with the “word of god.” As in “It is categorically impossible to refute, personally attack, or get confused with the word of god.” Then you go say you’re sure someone here might do it. So obviously it isn’t impossible. Hey, I’ll do it right now.Refutation: The Bible is a compilation of texts written between 5000 and about 2000 years ago, some by an itinerant, desert-dwelling tribe of bronze age goatherds, some by a later apocalyptic sect of the same goatherds, some by a dipshit named Saul of Tarsus. There are many, many other books by other members apocalyptic sect that were net included because Emperor Constantine did not want them there in the year 397. There is no evidence to back up most of the claims of the Bible, certainly the miraculous ones, and thus they should be regarded with the skepticism of an enlightened age.Personal attack: The Bible is shit. Everyone that had a hand in writing the Bible is a dumbass.Confusion: In John 3:22, we are told that Jesus himself baptized people:After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.But then, only a few verses later, in John 4:2, we are told that Jesus did not baptize anyone:Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples.I’m confused. Which is it? did he baptize or not?Well, there we go. I guess your prophecy came true. Is that yet more evidence of the power of god?Incidentally, my confirmation text was “klewz,” as in “Dan Marvin needs to get some klewz.” All hail Blogger!

  21. 21
    Stephen

    The so called “rules for engagement” rendered any opinion (outside of there’s) obsolete so I am reduced to just Bible verses.Let’s briefly review Martin’s ground rules:# Be aware that most atheists have come from religious upbringings. # Be aware of logical fallacies so that you do not make them.# Don’t mock guys like Charles Darwin or Richard Dawkins if you’ve never read a word they’ve written.# Don’t make foolish assertions that your religious belief is on the same footing as science.# Be aware that the minute you fall back on “You just have to have faith,” you’ve lost.Each of these rules strikes me as a rather obvious way to avoid looking stupid. And yet, they offend Dan because they hamstring his arguments. What’s so difficult about knowing one’s audience and understanding one’s subject material? Except for those who strive to be stupid on purpose, what could possibly be wrong with trying not to look stupid?To help atheists understand that, I have to work on more. But we all know that is not my “Job” right.Oh, but it is your “job”, Dan! You chose evangelism, in accordance with the Great Commission. You chose to set yourself up as an ambassador of God. And yes, you have a lot more work to do before you can become an effective ambassador, who doesn’t put God in a worse light with every paragraph he writes. You need to do some serious introspection. Feel free to review what you have written–it’s on your permanent public record. Lookn for clues to where you may have gone wrong.To focus your anger at the proper authority,You still don’t understand why your arguments have failed with this audience. We do not believe God has any authority, because we have no reason to believe he even exists. We do not believe the Bible has any authority, because it was written by people who knew far less than we know today, and contains obvious factual and moral errors, doctrinal contradictions, and outright lies.Quote the Bible all you like. This will have no effect. The Bible, after all, is what convinced many of us that even if your God exists, he is not trustworthy–and certainly unworthy of the copious ink and blood spilled in his name.The only authorities to which we will respond are verifiable evidence and sound, logical reasoning. Until you take your ambassadorship seriously enough to learn to speak our language, that ambassadorship will remain a shambles.

  22. 22
    tracie harris

    >Use your anger to attack the cause to combat and help stop the starving children in Africa, not to attack a dude no bigger or smaller then yourselves. And this I say to Dan—if he’s still around: I didn’t get angry or exhibit any anger toward you, I’m guessing this isn’t addressed at me (the anger part); but I saw something very telling about the remainder of this statement that I wanted to address: Your statement clearly implies that our energies are misguided—and that we’d do better to engage in something you consider more positive and helpful—such as charitable work.My question is this: Why do you assume that people at this forum don’t engage in charitable work already? I do charitable work—and have done charitable work for many years with many different groups. And having a conversation with someone—written or verbal–does not impede me doing charitable work in any way. This was just one more clear example of how your mind makes unconfirmed assumptions about things and people—and I believe your god as well. You “think” or “feel” it is so—so it is (in your mind). You don’t need to verify whether or not we do charitable work. You just make it clear that since you “think” we are uncharitable—it’s perfectly reasonable to assume it must be so, without the least evidence, investigation, observation or examination. And by NOT verifying your assumption, it turns out you are WRONG. THIS is why I kept saying you need to verify what you “think” and “feel” and “believe.” You can’t just assume things hard enough as a means to make them be true. Even if it _seems_ true to you—it may not be true in objective reality. You think in this fashion with regard to many things. You jump to conclusions—with little (or in this case, no) evidence. Ironically, in trying to describe how incorrect the people at this forum are—you’ve just offered perhaps the best real-world example of the claim we’ve all been making: that you don’t reason well, and could therefore be wrong about a great many of your great many assumptions.

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