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Oct 27 2011

The next response from “AS” – the teen apologist

I’m afraid to hit the “publish” button for fear of breaking the blog. I’m including his full text, which is substantial combined with my general verbosity. Apologies. Starting with him:

I’m just flat out tired of the responses from people, as to “why” they clearly don’t or WON’T believe in God. He’s NOT allah, He is Jesus Christ, the one who is alive, forevermore, and IS coming back. I can’t give you the “prove” that you want. And I’m NOT saying to read the Bible, ALL you have to do is ask God yourself. but since you don’t believe in Him, you won’t ask. if you TRULY want to know, you will go to God, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

I sent AS “Dragon in My Garage”—and he still has either not read it or not understood it. Note that AS isn’t claiming above that Jesus was a man who used to exist—he’s claiming that Jesus is a god that exists now—and should be demonstrable now. We should be able to examine current evidence for the measurable manifestation of whatever “Jesus” is that exists now. Anything for which we make a claim of existence must be demonstrated to manifest in a way that differentiates it from nothing. Otherwise, what does it even mean to exist—if things that have all the same attributes as “nothing” are to be reasonably considered as “existent”?

[Click "Read More" to the right to see the full exchange.]

ok, here’s my response:
Secular historians recorded the general facts of Jesus’ life, but his close associates made more detailed reports based on direct eyewitness testimony. These are called the four gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. How can we be sure these biographies of Jesus are accurate?

When historians try to determine if a biography is reliable, they ask, “How many other sources report the same details about this person?” Here’s how this works. Imagine you are collecting biographies of President John F. Kennedy. You find many describing his family, his presidency, his handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and almost all of the biographies report similar facts. But what if you found one biography reporting that JFK lived ten years as a priest in South Africa? The other biographies had him in the U.S. at the time; a sensible historian would go with the accounts that agree with one another.

Here is exactly what I said in my prior correspondence when AS claimed that it was unreasonable to not accept the gospel claims about Jesus, but accept historic claims about George Washington:

“ Jesus never wrote anything himself that we know of. We have no autographs. And we have no records of Jesus supplied to us by reliable eye-witness, contemporary authors. So, it’s not ‘just like’ what we have for Jesus when it comes to George Washington. The mountain of records available for the existence of George Washington, and the specific records by contemporary peer sources for his actions during his lifetime, and his personal correspondences, make George a historic person, where Jesus becomes more myth than man.”

There are no secular contemporary reports of the life of Jesus by any eyewitnesses. There is zero archeological evidence to confirm any specific event unique to the life of Jesus occurred. There are four highly mythologized Biblical accounts that contain a mix of outrageous miracle claims along with mundane, reasonable claims.

In historic records, outlandish miracle claims are rejected—even when we’re talking about far more recent historic figures about which far more is known than Jesus. Figures who wrote things themselves. Figures for whom we can confirm specific mundane events in their lives. Figures who left hefty trails of public records. We still reject not only miracle claims, but even mild exaggerations. Again, the claim that George Washington cut down a cherry tree and told the truth about it is considered to be myth. How much more a claim that someone converted water to wine by magic?

I’ve already been through this in my prior replies to AS—but as I said before, it’s like I’m sending my replies into a void.

Regarding Jesus of Nazareth, do we find multiple biographies reporting similar facts about his life? Yes. While they don’t redundantly cover all of the same information, the four gospels tell essentially the same story.

Actually, the facts aren’t “the same” in the gospels. The resurrection stories between the books couldn’t be more of a conflicting mess. And the end of the Gospel of Mark was revised to try and make it less conflicting. I have confronted AS with the passage in Mark in every response, and have yet to receive feedback.

But serious historians accept the reasonable assertions—even of the gospel writers—and reject the wacky ones. I’ve maintained that, and AS offers nothing to demonstrate otherwise. I’ve also maintained that we have nothing like we have for George Washington as far as evidence for the existence of Jesus, and AS has offered nothing to demonstrate otherwise.

I never said Jesus did not live and that there is no validation for a historic Jesus. I asserted serious historians reject the myths and do their best to try and piece together what the real person was most like. It’s not a science. It involves expert, educated speculation. Historians have to work with very limited data and records, to try and recreate, to the best of their ability, the most reasonable explanation they can of past events and realities.

Two of the gospels were written by the apostles Matthew and John, men who KNEW Jesus personally and traveled with him for over three years. The other two books were written by Mark and Luke, close associates of the apostles. These writers had DIRECT access to the facts they were recording. The early church accepted the four gospels because they agreed with what was already common knowledge about Jesus’ life.

The early church accepted the books because the books agreed with what was already popularly believed?Is that supposed to be an endorsement? But in fact, that’s what AS does, so why wouldn’t he admire this philosophy. Don’t accept it as valid because it’s justified by reason and evidence, accept it as valid because it agrees with what you already believe.

In fact none of the gospels contain an author’s attribution. For example, John is considered to be John the apostle because the book contains a reference to “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This is traditionally considered to be John. So, it is attributed to John, because whoever penned appears to have been claiming to be John. But as it was written over 2,000 years ago, we must take the writer at his word and have no means to verify the claim.

Again, here is what I offered to AS earlier: “Historic claims have to be investigated and the best, most reasonable, most educated evaluations should be made, because we can’t go back in time to confirm them. Some historic claims are easier to confirm than others—such as claims of Roman battles where we are able to excavate and find evidence of Roman battles. Other claims are harder to verify—such as whether or not a guy named Robin Hood ever existed. Our best guesses about history, then, can still be incorrect; but we have only whatever evidence remains to examine and expert opinion to go on.”

Historic claims differ from scientific claims in our capacity to verify them. And verifying authorship of a 2,000 year old letter is not comparable to verifying paternity using a DNA test.

The temptation is to research and rebut the gospel claims. However, there is no need, as I’ve already told AS at the beginning of my first response:

“First of all, nothing below matters in the least unless a god exists. If no god exists, then there was no sacrifice. If no god exists, there was no deity who walked among us. If no god exists, the Bible is not divinely inspired. And so on. In the same way it makes no sense to say “Fairies make the flowers bloom, and if you doubt me, I have but to show you a blooming flower,” it makes no sense to say “God is responsible for X, and if you doubt me, I have but to show you X.” And X can be filled in with “coming to earth as a man,” or “inspiring the Bible,” or “creating the universe,” or whatever your heart desires. Whatever you think god has done, until you demonstrate a god actually exists, you haven’t made your point.”

No matter what is contained in the Bible, you can’t point to it as something that proves a god exists. You actually have to demonstrate a god exists before you can claim god wrote the Bible. And if we’re just doing a circle jerk here about whether or not Jesus lived, I have to ask “why?,” since, I easily conceded that historical consensus is that the myths about Jesus are based on a real rabbi. Here is exactly what I wrote:

“The ‘historic’ Jesus that is put forward by historians is nothing like the Jesus recorded in the Bible. I am willing to accept that there may have been a rabbi upon whom these myths were based, since this is expert opinion. I never said I think Jesus never existed. But I reject the miracle claims (as do serious historians)…”

So what is AS doing here? Why is he presenting evidence intended to demonstrate historically that it’s a valid claim, according to serious historians, to say “Jesus existed”? Where have I disagreed?

Each of the four gospel writers made a very detailed account. As you would expect from multiple biographies of a real person, there is variation in the style but agreement in the facts. We know the authors were not simply making things up, because the gospels give specific geographical names and cultural details that have been confirmed by historians and archaeologists.

No, we do not “know the authors were not simply making things up.” Every miracle claim is an example, according to the consensus of serious historians, of “made up things.” If you research “historic jesus,” you will find a vastly different figure than the one recorded in the gospel accounts. Why? As far as the fact that city names are included and references to real places and things (such as the Temple at Jerusalem), again, where did I dispute this? Here is exactly what I said previously:

“There is more than the Bible to substantiate the existence of particular Roman rulers. And when we are presented with more evidence than just Bible stories, we tend to give the claims more weight.”

In other words, when we excavate a city and find the remains of a temple where the Bible indicated a temple was built, we tend to agree that the Bible description is justified. Where it says the tomb of Jesus was empty and people saw him raised from the dead—we have no verification, the claim is outrageous,  and it is not accepted as justified. This is no different than how we would judge any other historic text making similar claims. And, as I will note later, we reject such eyewitness claims today in a similar fashion, even when the witnesses are alive, we can interview them in real time, they provide evidence that we can examine, and we have far more than four.

Jesus’ recorded words leave out many topics the early church would have liked a statement on. This indicates that the biographers were honest, not putting words in Jesus’ mouth to suit their own interests.

In my prior letters, I have asked for an explanation of John 7:53-8:11—where the NIV (and NASB) Bible translators’ notes indicate the entire story of the Adulterous Woman appears to be forged material. I have yet to hear a rebuttal. This story contains one of the most famously quoted lines by Jesus, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” The gospels are beyond putting words in Jesus’ mouth? Bart Ehrman, who is himself a Bible scholar, has a book titled “Misquoting Jesus.” When you read it, you can follow along in modern annotated Bibles and see the translators verify his claims about problems with the content, down the line. It’s ironic to me, then, that AS has used the phrase “not putting words in Jesus’ mouth,” regarding the gospel content.

And then we come to a big dump of claims about reliability, that I have already told AS are “moot.” Unless he can demonstrate a god exists, I have nothing with which to compare claims about what he says that god does. I have mentioned before how there are hack cryptozooligists who talk about all the social structures and family dynamics of Big Foot societies. It would be nice if they’d first confirm there is such a thing as a Big Foot before they start expounding on its daily routine. And AS is doing the same thing with god.  But I will hit on a few points below.

Some people have the idea that the New Testament has been translated “SO MANY TIMES” that it has become corrupted through stages of translating. If the translations were being made from other translations, they would have a case. But translations are actually made directly from original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic source texts based on thousands of ancient manuscripts.

For instance, we know the New Testament we have today is true to its original form because:
1. We have such a huge number of manuscript copies…. over 24,000.
2. Those copies agree with each other, word for word, 99.5% of the time.
3. The dates of these manuscripts are very close to the dates of their originals.

When one compares the text of one manuscript with another, the match is amazing. Sometimes the spelling may vary, or words may be transposed, but that is of little consequence. Concerning word order, Bruce M. Metzger, professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, explains: “It makes a whale of a difference in English if you say, ‘Dog bites man’ or ‘Man bites dog’ — sequence matters in English. But in Greek it doesn’t. One word functions as the subject of the sentence regardless of where it stands in the sequence.

I agree that sometimes small differences don’t matter, but sometimes a single letter or word creates an entirely different meaning. Note already that the oldest texts we have don’t contain punctuation. Can using incorrect punctuation impact meaning? Of course. But how about one changed letter? I Timothy 3:16 there is a dispute over one letter that changes the content like so:

From the King James: “…God was manifest in the flesh…”

From the NASB: “…He who was revealed in the flesh…”

As we uncover new evidence and improve our methods of textual criticism, we begin to recognize which manuscripts are more reliable than others and where errors or problems must be acknowledged. “God” may have been considered reliable in the past—not today. Today, “god” is considered an error due to a visible problem with the base manuscripts. When you look at the words on the page, it’s an easy error to make:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/alexandrinus4.html

Was it an honest error or a scribe who favored Trinitarianism, and thought a small adjustment could help that cause along? I’ll be safe and go with error. But it’s an unfortunate coincidence considering the idea of Jesus as god wasn’t established as Christian orthodoxy until 325 CE. The conflict never really ended, though, and some denominations today continue to reject the trinity as a valid concept supported by the Bible.

Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a visiting professor at Oxford University, also comments: “In real terms, the New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the documents, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual availability and integrity.

The New Testament is humanity’s most reliable ancient document.

Caesar himself penned two books, I have read one that records his campaigns in Gaul. These battles can and have been recorded in other sources and excavated—actually validating his records of the battles. The book reads like a military campaign travel manual and journal. I don’t know what Zacharias means when he says that the New Testament is “humanity’s most reliable ancient document,” but I can say that the amount of content in the gospels that is rejected by modern historians is not slight—all of the miracle claims. Whereas Caesar’s campaign records, while they may be biased from a cultural and political aspirations standpoint, are nothing but war records—and they’re pretty well accepted as reliable because they match evidence found in excavations. I’m not even saying Zacharias’ claim is wrong. I’m saying I don’t know what he means by this statement; and as a layman, the obvious interpretation of his statement would be incorrect.

Its textual integrity is more certain than that of Plato’s writings or Homer’s Iliad. For a comparison of the New

I wonder how it compares to Caesar’s Gallic records in his view—which are older than the New Testament texts, and are generally accepted as reliable accounts? But he’s not here to ask, so I have no idea. Homer’s writing is also older, and to be fair, he was writing poetry not history. Also, as should be the case, his accounts were considered to be total myth before excavations of Troy validated at least some of his claims in the eyes of historians. Regarding the reliability of Plato, again, you judge based on reasonable scholarly assumptions. When he writes about Atlantis, it’s considered myth. And we treat the Bible the same way.

Testament to other ancient writings
The Old Testament has also been remarkably well preserved. Our modern translations are confirmed by a HUGE number of ancient manuscripts in both Hebrew and Greek, including the mid-20th century discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls hold the oldest existing fragments of almost all of the Old Testament books, dating from 150 B.C. The similarity of the Dead Sea manuscripts to hand copies made even 1,000 years later is proof of the care the ancient Hebrew scribes took in copying their scriptures.

Just as a side note, I want to explain that there is more than one official Bible Canon used by modern Christians, and the Jewish holy books do not align with the Christian Old Testament. Additionally, there are apocryphal books that were excluded from some of these canons, accepted by others, or rejected by all. In some cases books that were included or rejected in one canon were then rejected or included, respectively, at later dates within that same canon. The available evidence and methods to confirm reliability of texts were not “better” 2,000 years ago, and have greatly improved in modern times. Bear in mind that later church leaders had to battle each other to determine who was “right” on many doctrinal issues. Losing such a debate could result in a label of “heresy” and your execution, an intimidating way to eliminate ideological challenges. Such doctrinal clashes existed from the start of the church and are even recorded within the New Testament.

Several secular sources support Jesus’ existence as well. In a book coauthored by Dr. Gary Habermas, an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion, he writes that approximately eighteen non-Christian, extra biblical sources mention more than one hundred facts, beliefs, and teachings from the life of Christ Like: “Did Jesus Rise From The Dead? The Resurrection Debate.

I mentioned Jesus in this letter. Is it now a source that testifies to Jesus’ existence? I don’t know what Habermas means here when he says there are 18 sources that mention Jesus. What sorts of sources is he talking about, AS? I’m not given any context here that makes this claim meaningful. It’s like AS is just dumping anything and everything in order to make me wade through a giant pile, in hopes I’ll just throw up my hands and give up—defeated on sheer volume. Is he even reading what he’s sending me as he copies and pastes what these people assert?

Gaalyah Cornfield, a Jewish scholar, says in his book that “Modern archaeology and scholarship have now established beyond all doubt that a man known as Jesus certainly did exist in history and that the criticism of the skeptics was ill founded … HE said: “We are today able to assert beyond a shadow of a doubt that the historical Jesus existed” .Cornfield’s research and findings are significant because he’s an unbeliever, and a non-Christian, yet he acknowledges Jesus’ existence!! As well as Josephus, a Jewish historian, described Jesus as a wise man who was crucified by Pilate, in his book, “Antiquities of the Jews”.

Josephus never saw Jesus, he just related a few mentions, and of those, the best have been debunked as questionable or forgeries. But that’s not relevant. A historian makes claims within the context of historical scholarship. I actually agree with Cornfield that if a serious historian is presented with “criticism of the skeptics” who claim Jesus never existed, those people are ignoring the scholarly consensus. Within the circle of reputable historians, the question of Jesus’ existence is not disputed. And it would be fair to say within that context that it’s indisputable, and that those who assert Jesus did not exist are being unreasonable.

Fortunately, I never claimed Jesus never existed. I only explained that what is consensus in the arena of “history” is not comparable to what is consensus in the arena of science. Science can verify in a way history often cannot. And if Cornfield is asserting that among historians it is doubtless Jesus existed, then he’s correct. They, as an expert group, don’t doubt it.

But, unlike science, they lack the capacity to verify their judgment. They all accept it as true Jesus existed. It is a reasonable opinion. But with the current state of evidence and technology, we are unable test or verify to confirm they are actually correct. “Doubtless” to a history expert talking about how historians view a particular claim, is not comparable to “doubtless” in the context of a DNA match. Context matters.

So, as I never asserted Jesus did not exist, and maintained I am fine with the expert view he did. I agree with Cornfield as long as his statements are confined within his area of expertise and he acknowledges the limitations of verification inherent in his field.

EVEN The Talmud, books about Jewish law, also mentions Jesus of Nazareth several times, and never disputes His status as a historical figure. Interestingly, both Josephus and The Talmud mention other figures noted in the gospels. John the Baptist. Other pagan writers from the first and second century A.D. also provided proof that Jesus existed. Among them was Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian, who wrote of Jesus in his Annals. As well, Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor, wrote to the emperor, Trajan, about Christians’ devotion to Christ. Importantly, NONE of these extra biblical sources disprove the historical facts which the gospel writers penned about Jesus.

Wait, none of these sources “disprove” historical facts about Jesus, but you realize they don’t justify miracles, though, right?

What disproves Bible facts is what we’ve already gone over. Geologists agree there was never a world wide flood a few thousand years ago. We can say that with quite a high degree of certainty. You asserted “evidence” for The Flood, and I provided you real science to explain how you were misinterpreting your “evidence” by totally ignoring realities such as continental plates colliding and glacier movements. Unless you know something the field of geology doesn’t—I demonstrated where your Bible made a claim that was factually wrong.

Additionally, I explained that Babel as a story is disputed by expert linguist consensus—another fact your Bible got wrong. Care to show me your evidence that linguists are wrong, and that all languages in the world today spawned from a single city-sized location just a few thousand years ago?

Other writers aren’t needed to show your Bible makes false claims about reality. All you have to do is read the claim test it, and see that the evidence we can examine today, disputes what the Bible says happened.

You never responded to any of that in this letter, but when you say you want some disproving about your Bible “facts,” please know you just totally glossed over some doozies in my last letters.

However, now your bent on proving Jesus existed to someone who never disputed it, so let’s move on. I’m mentioning Jesus right now in this letter—is that proof he existed? The writers you’re citing never saw any more of Jesus than I did, and are relaying what they have heard. Many people record things they’ve heard. Many people believe things they’ve heard.

On the other hand, I’ve heard about haunted hotels from people who believe what they’re saying. Does that make it true? The fact that someone mentions something they heard about or even believe is true does nothing to demonstrate it’s true. However, this is a huge amount of resource wasted to get me to say I agree it’s reasonable to assert Jesus existed—since I already said I agree it’s reasonable to assert Jesus existed.

Here is what AS asserted in his earlier letters: “The Bible is infallable.. without error

Not only have I demonstrate that as wrong, he’s now moving the goal post to “prove” to me what I have been telling him in every reply so far: That it is the scholarly consensus that Jesus is based on a real figure—but that the myths are not validated by that, and the Bible is not error-free. This supports what I have been asserting and does nothing to demonstrate AS’s original claim, which was, and still is, incorrect.

And finally, even though I put a lot of energy into responding to the claims above, they are, every single one of them, irrelevant. And here is why: Today we have more people than four or 18 or even 100 claiming that they have been, or are being, abducted by aliens. These are live human beings, who can be interviewed and who are not locked up in asylums, who are making this claim right now. They come on television, and testify to being scared to tell people for fear of being ostracized by family, coworkers, friends—labeled as nutcases by society. And they endure it all, because they really, really believe they were abducted by aliens. And we hear their stories, and they are strikingly similar. We have similar stories from people who swear they have encountered Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot (and provided video evidence), seen a ghost, been told their future in Tarot cards, or been cured of cancer by some useless homeopathic remedy.

Do you see the problem? We can argue about Biblical minutia and reliability for the next 2,000 years—but what is the point? Even if you had living eyewitnesses making the claims asserted in the Bible about a person living today, stories could never be sufficient as evidence of the more outlandish claims. They aren’t to serious scholars of history—and neither should they be to any reasonable layperson. Any person is only justified in asserting what can be reasonably justified as historical fact—and we are compelled to reject supernatural claims supported only by stories, even if we found ourselves totally unable to explain the prevalence of the stories. As “Dragon in my Garage” explains—when it makes no sense and cannot be explained, the only honest response is “I don’t know what is causing so many people to claim alien abductions, but until we can even reasonably assert aliens exist, we can’t justify that they’re abducting anybody.” So, again, I’m with the historians—I’m happy to accept a historic version of Jesus. But that isn’t evidence of an existent god, and all of this text has been for nothing.

And a response to this: “If your god answers you when you ask him for things—as you’re telling me that if I need proof I can just ask—why don’t you pray and ask him for a proof that actually convinces nonbelievers? If he exists, you’ll get it, right? If he truly wished his adherents to seek and save the lost—that is, the unbelievers—why did he only supply you, this round, with reasons that you say only convince those who already believe?”

well, how about this for example, it’s a cheezy one but, still TRUTH…..you know how an apple tree has apple’s on it right? duh, well, okay, but here’s the catchy thing about it….. the tree doesn’t bare fruit for it’s self. it bares fruit for OTHERS. Not just any others, but HUMANS. So that’s evidence right there that God exist, but if your STILL not convinced.. I shall continue!!!

*Facepalm* moment. Fruit trees bear fruit to propagate themselves; however, AS is right that apple trees specifically don’t. But that’s not divine, it’s because apple trees are artificially bred. That is why their seeds rarely sprout, and if they do, the trees won’t generally bear fruit, and if they do, it’s not very edible. In other words, you can’t plant a Red Delicious apple seed to grow red delicious apples. You have to use grafting. But that’s due to the fact that it’s a domestic fruit tree that humans have engineered. A wild fruit plant absolutely bears fruit to propagate itself. It isn’t being generous and trying to be kind to the Blue Jays and squirrels. In some cases plants bear fruit and also propagate via rhizomes. This also has to do with evolution. Once a plant begins to propagate using rhizomes, the fruit can become vestigial, like a human appendix. However, vestigial properties are actually evidence for evolution. Where is the intelligent design, for example, in nipples on men?

well, since your an athiest YOU believe in the big bang, right?

No. I understand a super basic version of that highly complex model, so I don’t offer myself up as anyone who can explain or defend it on any reasonable level. I’m an atheist, not an astrophysicist. I don’t care how the universe formed. And by that, I don’t mean it’s not interesting. I mean it has no bearing on my atheism.

Only someone demonstrating that a god exists in some form that can be demonstrated as different than “nothing” would impact that.

well if you do let me explain. Which makes more since, that the big bang was a random event, or that it was under the control of the Creator?

To start with the big bang did not start with an explosion, it started LONG before…
before the explosion there was a primordial dust cloud, a dust cloud in the NOTHINGNESS of space,

A “dust cloud”…of “nothingness”…? Note that in my very limited understanding, what I do know is that Hawking asserted in his public essays, available online, that he can’t talk about the time before Big Bang. I know there are some high level claims about it more recently, based on…even more high level stuff I don’t claim to understand. But I’m curious how AS knows what happened before BB, if Hawking says even he can’t talk about it?

which drew together as a massive hyperdense core of mass and energy, and it was THAT that exploded…So where did this dust cloud come from, and where did the ENERGY, and primodial dust cloud come from??

For that you would ask an astrophysicist, I assume? I recommend Lawrence Krauss’ lecture “A Universe from Nothing”—but again, this is his theory, not mine, so I claim no understanding of it or capacity to explain it. It’s over my head, not my theory, and clearly has no bearing on the existence of a god, since many believers accept BB; however, their reasons for accepting it, only they can speak to. All I  know is that the best minds in the field of physics, best educated to best understand the best evidence, say they have a good model of how it happened. If they’re wrong, then there is no field of study I am aware of that would be able to offer anything better or more valid than they have, and, believe it or not, that includes Bronze Age goat herding Mid East nomads.

But why are we talking about this? What I really want to know is exactly what I’ve been asking you for every time I reply: How is your god different than nothing?

Until we have that, we can’t assert your god is responsible for anything, since only existent things can cause other things. Demonstrate your god exists, we can examine it, and only then can we offer some informed ideas about what it might cause. Otherwise, we just have a lot of baseless assertions about what a god does, while we can’t even reasonably say it exists.

If there is ONE thing we know from science, it’s that we know we do NOT get something out of nothing.

Again, I have limited, elementary, really ridiculously basic—can’t stress how stupidly layman’s basic—grasp; but, I know Hawking, in “Beginning of Time,” says you can’t apply modern physical laws to the time before BB—so how AS knows that a current rule of thumb (that even virtual particles seem to violate) would apply during that time, I have no idea. Additionally, I am reminded again of Krauss’ “A Universe from Nothing.” If I wanted to understand if or how something can come from nothing, I’d be reading as much astrophysics as I could get my hands on, not just sitting around pondering it based on my child’s level grasp of physics.

In the explosion, it was the greatest explosion in the HISTORY of OUR universe….. it blew everthing OUTWARD to the universe as we have it today …which is expanding as we know it……and we are to believe that this supposedly “random” event resulted in the PERFECTION of the universe???

I’m not sure anyone knows if it was random. I think “naturally caused” is not the same as “random.” There could have been some rules that applied at that point, but it’s my understanding that we either can’t speak to them or can only to a very limited capacity—and, again, it’s way over my head—and I’m guessing AS’s as well.

whereas ANY explosion we have ever seen here, has been CHOAS..and destruction.

This is an example where science contradics science. What do I mean by that??
Well, If you are going to explain the universe on the bases of science, you CAN’T have science contradicting the science that explains the EXISTANCE of the universe.

Well, while I think I know what you mean, I have to point out that I’ve heard quantum level physics contradicts all sorts of “rules” of matter that apply above the quantum level. But so what if it does?

In science, there is a general principle, called Entropy- unless there is a greater control of a process..the process tends to choas.

Now lets put that into REAL world terms. It DOESN’T matter if your talking about your childs bedroom, your kitchen sink, or a complex chemical reaction, or a work place…
If it is NOT under control, it generates into chaos, if YOUR child doesn’t clean his room, if someone doesn’t control the dishes in the sink, if someone doesn’t control the chemical reaction, the result is going to be RANDOM and CHOAS.

Well, if you’re only saying things will wind down—yeah, the universe is actually doing that. Still, chemical reactions generate reactions as long as they have the energy to do so, before they wind down. No?

But we are to believe that the massive explosion of the big bang (in which God made)resulted in perfection and NOT chaos..

Wait—where do you see “perfection”? What is your basis for comparison? Wouldn’t calling “creation” “perfect,” actually be contrary to Christianity orthodoxy? I thought after The Fall, it was all supposed to not be perfect anymore—and that’s why Jesus became a human sacrifice. Isn’t that your story? But  now the universe is “perfect”?  If I mix lye and oil it undergoes a chemical reaction known as saponification. In what way would any chemical reaction or series of chemical reactions “doing whatever they do,” equate to “perfection”?

This is a CLEAR example of science contradicting science.

The theory is that it all expanded quickly and it’s winding down. In the meantime, it’s causing chemical reactions due to the energy and matter released in the original explosion, right? And we would expect that to continue until the processes are done and all the energy is used up, right? Where is the contradiction? That’s exactly what I’d expect even as an ignorant layman.

In the same way, when the “athiests” explain our existance as living beings, they use the example of “evolution” ,”Natural selection”, how can YOU explain life as having evolved?

Well, you can start by using artificial selection. Once you understand how that works, you move away from human-directed breeding, and apply the same concept in nature: naturally selection.

what do I mean by “life” I mean the power that gives a body “once assembled” to live.

“Organic” beings are a mass of chemical reactions that exist as long as they have the energy to do so. Just like you’d expect, once those processes wind down, the reactions all eventually stop when the energy runs out—just like the entire universe will supposedly do one day.

But we’re supposed to be resolving whether the claim “god exists” is true or false. So far we’ve spend a sick amount of time talking about everything but god. Some book about a rabbi, and then how you disagree with astrophysicists, and now why you reject basic biology (along with your earlier rejection of basic geography and linguistics, too, right?) What I haven’t seen a speck of yet, though is any of your evidence that supports your belief that a god exists. I get you reject the evidence and expert consensus of physics, biology, geography, linguistics, history and textual critics, because they don’t agree with what you believe about the Bible, but you have yet to explain in what way your god is different than nothing. Design some way to demonstrate that god exists outside the subjective mind, and show how it functions to create life and matter. That is how you justify your own claims that a god exists and has ever done anything at all.

You reject expert evidence and models, but what is your model? A thing you can’t demonstrate exists did something you can’t explain, and here it all is? How is that different than “I don’t have a clue”? Just cut through the pages of apologetics, and say “I got no idea how all this stuff is here.” Your life will not only be much simpler, it will be founded in more honesty.

We have reached a point in science, where we can transplant EVERY organ of the body, we can make a frankenstein if we so desire, but we CAN’T make them live.

Well, we’re not quite to that level yet, but just to clarify, Big Bang and evolution make no claims about how life began. That’s another area of science. But so what? People can’t make a human, therefore god? People can’t calculate pi to the last digit, therefore math is magic? People can’t fly without mechanical assistance, therefore birds rule the skies? People can’t breathe underwater, which means wind created the oceans? You’re saying that if people can’t do something then the answer must some unrelated magical explanation. I can’t agree.

When we want to know the answer to a question, we investigate. Every question ever successfully answered so far in human history has had a demonstrated natural explanation. There is not one example of a confirmed supernatural answer to date. So, why would you think that any questions currently unanswered would likely have supernatural explanations?

we can’t give a body life. We have STUDIED evolution, and the proposal OF EVOLUTION is, that EVERYTHING in our exsistance,

This sentence made no sense to me.

“if we don’t have SOME control over it to keep it in order, everything degenerates into chaos, OH “exept for the big bang, and evolution, just those two things, “everything else, is ok to put it in our control.. haha

Where do you get the idea that the universe is not impacted by entropy? Evolution is the chemistry that happens while the energy is still around (things are burning, like our sun, but science isn’t claiming they will last forever. I don’t know where you got this idea scientists claim it will?)

doesn’t that sound odd to you??? Honeslty….

Not really. It sounds like what you see when anything explodes. You see pieces go everywhere and things burn and things near those burning things undergo chemical changes—such as wood turning to ash. And the process endures as long as there is energy from the explosion. So, that’s pretty much precisely what happens in every other example of even “small bangs.” And while that’s just my intuitive thinking and no claim of physics, I’m just saying it’s doing the only thing I have ever seen any explosion do, but on a way grander scale with far more potential outcomes.

well that’s what evolutionist propose, isn’t it??

No. I don’t know anyone who thinks that the chemical processes we label as “living things” aren’t affected by entropy. Do you think that biologists assert living things never die?

Ironically, it’s the theists who assert that things can be immortal and enduring in defiance of entropy (souls, heaven, god, hell), and that the universe was created from nothing (god spoke, and poof, it all just was). Didn’t you just assert such claims make no sense to you and are ridiculous to believe? Aren’t these the very claims you swallow from religion without any justification whatsoever? They don’t even offer you any demonstration that gods, souls, heaven and hell exist. And they have provided you no explanation of a process by which any of these things would work. They’ve said “it’s a magical, invisible being we can’t explain”—and you just said “OK, makes sense.”

well, there are some that except that theory, but I for one, am NO fool…

Pass.

Is that enough proof for you..

OK, how can I make this clear to you?

You told me there are some stories that a rabbi existed about 2,000 years ago, and historians believe he existed. And I had already agreed that it was a reasonable assumption the rabbi existed, because I deferred to the historians’ consensus from the beginning, since they study that stuff, and I don’t.

You then explained you don’t believe in scientific theories—and that’s your right. I don’t really care about them all that much. They’re sort of interesting, but I’m not really a huge science buff, to be honest.

And, now, out of the blue, while I’m still waiting to hear what you’re going to offer about god, you just drop the dialog and ask “is that enough proof”? What did you prove? You proved it’s reasonable that the myths about Jesus are based on a real rabbi and you asserted, and I believe you, that you don’t believe in science, but think your god does stuff. I understand you believe in god, that’s not revelation; but it’s not proof of god, either; Are you going to demonstrate your god exists, to show me that it’s reasonable to assert your god does anything?

and I actually did pray, and here’s the evidence, now

He may have provided stamina, but he scrimped on the evidence.

where do you stand with God??? Cuz I for one have ALL the evidence I need! :)

There is no evidence at all in your letter. You never explained how I can tell your god from nothing, which is something I’ve been explaining to you is the justification for any claim of objective existence. Please, please, read “Dragon in My Garage.” It’s very short and it might help you understand what I’m asking you to provide in the way of a demonstration of an existent god. It’s not anything to persuade you about anything—it’s just an analogy that might help you grasp what is required to demonstrate a claim of objective existence to someone who doubts it. I know that even though I’ve asked you to please read it in every reply, you haven’t, because you still keep asserting that what you’re offering is “proof”—when it’s not. You don’t actually seem to know what “evidence” is.

What, that can be differentiated from nothing, are you calling “god”?

72 comments

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  1. 1
    CJO

    Secular historians recorded the general facts of Jesus’ life, but his close associates made more detailed reports based on direct eyewitness testimony.

    You have no way of knowing who wrote the gospels, or whether they were associates of Jesus. The traditional attributions to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are founded on the conjectures of patristic authors in the 2nd century and later. There is no reliable chain of provenance, and those authors were writing in an era when apostolic succession was a pressing issue. They had a vested interest in their spurious attributions.

    These are called the four gospels, the first four books of the New Testament. How can we be sure these biographies of Jesus are accurate?

    Calling them biographies without analysis is begging the question. Genre is extremely important in identifying the intent of an author and the likely reception a text received from its audience. The gospels’ resemblance to the well-studied genre of Greco-Roman biography is superficial, at best. In general, ancient authors of biography and historiography treated supernatural and miracle claims very skeptically, either indicating that they are “tales people tell” or offering multiple accounts of the same events and allowing the reader to add the grain of salt. Read Tacitus’s accoount of Vespasian’s healing miracles in Egypt, for example. It’s extremely sarcastic. The gospels, by contrast, relate miracle stories with an almost comically earnest tone.

    When historians try to determine if a biography is reliable, they ask, “How many other sources report the same details about this person?”

    The problem with this is that the gospels are not independent accounts. Matthew and Luke each contain the bulk of Mark, with re-writes and additions, and the author of John was certainly at least aware of the synoptic tradition. I note also that you’re privileging canonical sources. A great many “gospels” appeared in the 1st two centuries CE that are not to be found in your Bible. If we ask the “how many other sources agree” question taking under consideration the whole scope of ancient narrative literature about Jesus, we find that agreement on key facts is actually quite limited. And that the ones that agree with each other most closely share an obvious literary relationship. Check out a parallel synoptic table sometime.

  2. 2
    Helena Constantine

    “I don’t know what Zacharias means when he says that the New Testament is “humanity’s most reliable ancient document,” but I can say that the amount of content in the gospels that is rejected by modern historians is not slight—all of the miracle claims. ”

    What he means is that the vast number of witnesses allows the ur-text to be reconstructed with great certainty–Note that the ur-text is not the same thing as the autograph.

    But what it ultimately means is we know the text of the copy of the Gospel of Mark in the Church in Alexandria in the early second century–it says absolutely nothing about the reliability of the Gospel of Mark as a historical source.

  3. 3
    Helena Constantine

    They need to stop calling the initial expansion of the universe of the universe an explosion, and they need to stop talking space and time existing outside of or prior to the initial inflation–it reveals a complete lack of understanding. They especially need to stop attributing creatio ex nihilo (a Christian doctrine) to science, and to stop denying its possible when its their own belief.

  4. 4
    EricR

    AS could have just pointed you to the website he copied word for word in his e-mail.

    http://www.everystudent.com/mobi/why_you_can_believe_the_bible_96.html

  5. 5
    Helena Constantine

    You should have called him out on his vitalistic definition of life. Life is complex biochemistry, not some kind of vital energy (otherwise homeopathy and Reiki would be real medical treatments).

    And, of course, we have made artificial life from non-living components:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-form

  6. 6
    feralboy12

    Cuz I for one have ALL the evidence I need!

    Finally, a statement I can believe.

  7. 7
    Cyphern

    AS’s response to you appears to be plagiarized, at least in part. I did a search for “Each of the four gospel writers made a very detailed account. As you would expect from multiple biographies of a real person, there is variation in the style but agreement in the facts.” That quote appears to be lifted word for word from this site: http://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html . Other sections of AS’s text are also lifted verbatim from the same page.

    The reason why AS’s response seems to ignore your previous points is that the substence of the response was not actually written by AS.

  8. 8
    Andrew EC

    This kid is just quoting random Lee Strobel at you, Tracie. You might as well ask him for proof about Vardaman’s magic coin.

  9. 9
    colubridae

    Tracie, you deserve a medal.
    It’s a pity there isn’t a nobel prize for calm patience.

    If he’s real, it’s unlikely he’ll be swayed… But it is likely he’s told his friends how he’s dealt with you.
    So they may well be watching your dialogue, and some of them may be capable of picking up some critical thinking for themselves from your responses.

  10. 10
    pyrobryan

    That was painful reading. Seems like it boils down to something like

    Proof of God is that some things in the Bible are true.
    Proof of God is that AS believes in God.
    Proof of God is that science doesn’t have all the answers.

    On a side note, I wonder if AS is actually speaking in some hidden code that can be revealed through the examination of the randomly capitalized words…

  11. 11
    tracieh

    I think the most disappointing thing about a cut-and-paste reply is knowing that I actually am investing in providing my own ideas and understanding while I talk to a content-relay-bot. I’m not even communicating with a human being at this point. In my e-mail back to him with the blog link, I expressed that when I have to repeatedly copy and paste old material I’ve already stated into a new “response”–I know the conversation is over. If he’s not reading what I write or replying to what I write, then why should I waste my time. As someone posted above, I might as well be posting to the website he stole the material from. And yes, no wonder his reply made no sense in light of my repeated questions in my first two replies.

    What kept me going was the thought of other people finding the post, I admit/agree with that. Sadly, though, when I was his age, I probably would have done the same thing he just did to me, if I’m honest. :/

    Thank you all for some wonderful and fast feedback. I was “skeptical” anyone would bother to wade through it–but I’m glad you all did and your additional information is nice to see, since I couldn’t bear the thought of doing a blow by blow for all of the gospels. I found some choice quotes at the Catholic Encyclopedia on the page about the Gospel of John–where they gave defending the book their best shot, but ultimately had to admit that expert consensus is that it’s not historically reliable.

  12. 12
    tracieh

    Pyrobryan: I am jealous. I could have used your three points as my entire reply and it would have been just as good, in my opinion–only more concise, which would have been an improvement. But you really boiled it down beautifully.

  13. 13
    Lorence Sing

    For people like AS, facts are malleable, and the truth is an inconvenience. Debate is useless.

  14. 14
    davidct

    AS is not speaking for himself. He is presenting the arguments and words of selected scholars found in Lee Strobel’s book “The Case for Christ”. This book is notable for its bad scholarship. Robert M. Price wrote a direct counter to Strobel’s claims called “The Case Against The Case for Christ”.

    There are no extra biblical contemporary records of the biblical Jesus. It is agreed that Josephus contains a fraudulent paragraph. This text does not fit with the surrounding paragraphs and the are seamless when they are the Jesus reference is removed. As to the other historians, when they mention Jesus it is in the context of explaining the beliefs of early Christians not recounting of any historical events.

    AS has read Strobel and is feeding you material from this book. He is not putting forward any ideas of his own or really considering your answers. He already knows the truth.

  15. 15
    Crommunist

    There’s an interesting booklet by David Fitzgerald called
    Ten Beautiful Lies About Jesus: How the myths Christians tell about Jesus Christ suggest Jesus never existed at all
    . It’s a pretty thorough take-down of the idea of a non-mythical Jesus, and a handy reference I pull out whenever someone brings up this topic.

    I’ll also take this opportunity to say I’m a big fan of the show and I’m glad y’all are here at FTB.

    1. 15.1
      Achrachno

      Thank you, Crom. That link you provided is a great summary.

      Ten Beautiful Lies About Jesus: How the myths Christians tell about Jesus Christ suggest Jesus never existed at all.

  16. 16
    cag

    When a christian asserts that

    “The Bible is infallable.. without error”

    it does not mean what we interpret the words to mean. It means the parts of the bible that they have had read to them, contain no errors that they would admit to being errors. Indoctrination allows the mind to warp meaning.

    Imagine what would happen to a first created earth when the sun, more than 330,000 times more massive, was created 3 days later. The effects of gravity would terminate earthly existence in short order and the sun would gain the mass of one earth. We’re still here, so in the first ten words of the bible there is the first errancy. Earth first is like a carpenter building a house by first putting up the roof.

  17. 17
    Jim

    From AS: “To start with the big bang did not start with an explosion, it started LONG before…
    before the explosion there was a primordial dust cloud, a dust cloud in the NOTHINGNESS of space,”

    That statement is a common screwup that I have seen many creationists make, and it is widely distributed in apologist videos and sermons. It is mixing up the Big Bang Theory of the formation of the universe with the Condensation Theory of the formation of the solar system.

    The universe (everything) began to expand (for unknown reasons) about 14 billion years ago. As it cooled energy formed matter, matter formed stars, etc, etc. That is the Big Bang.

    Then, about 4.5 billion years ago, a dust cloud in one out of the billions of galaxies formed after the Big Bang, collapsed because of gravity to form our sun, planets and solar system. That is the Condensation Theory.

    The Big Bang was a one time event. Condensation of gas clouds is a common event we see happening all the time as new stars and planetary systems form.

    The two events are separated by about 10 BILLION years. The Big Bang theory does not depend in any way on the Condensation theory.

    1. 17.1
      Comment1

      Yeh, I saw a potholer54 thing about Kent Hovind mixing up star formation (the energy is gravity) with the Big Bang, even though the slides and quotes he used were taken straight from a page clearly describing star formation.

  18. 18
    jacobfromlost

    I will take this opportunity to quote Jeff Dee: “Good grief.”

    This kind of reminds me of an argument I had in high school with a kid who said animals had no emotions whatsoever. We argued for days, until I finally said, “Have you ever HAD a pet? A dog? A cat?”

    Without missing a beat, he shouted (as if this would be the absolute CLINCHER to his argument), “I had a worm once!”

    That’s what happens when you argue with someone who starts with their conclusion. The fact that their nonsense makes no sense whatsoever, is completely divorced from any objective evidence, and is totally unfalsifiable…makes them refer back to the conclusion they started with and declare themselves correct.

  19. 19
    L.Long

    What!?!?!….EVEN The Talmud, books about Jewish law, also mentions Jesus of Nazareth several times, …. What?!?!?!!?

    How can the Talmud mention Jesus of Narareth when ‘Jesus’ is the greek name and not his real jewish name, which I don’t remember at this time But I think was Joshua or some variation.

  20. 20
    CJO

    Re: Josephus,
    This text does not fit with the surrounding paragraphs and the are seamless when they are the Jesus reference is removed.

    Yes, and the tone of it is absolutely wrong. There is zero possibility that Josephus, a devout Jew, wrote the passage as we have it. So the apologists allow that there was some Christian tampering, but they don’t get that their admission means the passage is useless, because, if there was something about Jesus there, we don’t know what it was. I mean, what if the original Testimonium Flavianum, as it is pompously known, originally said “Then there is this Jesus whom the tribe of Christians say was crucified by Pilate and reveres as their savoir, but I never heard anything about such a man.”

    It wouldn’t be such apologetics fodder then, now would it? And I see no reason to take that off the table as a possibility if you’re admitting that it’s interpolated. If there was a “kernel” it was obviously problematic or it wouldn’t have needed such heavy-handed forgery. After dismissing this line of reasoning without warrant, the apologist will invariably point to the other mention in Josephus, in his Antiquities where he makes a passing reference to Jesus “who was called Christ” as the brother of James, whom the passage is about. The problems are numerous here, too. First, there’s a parallel account of the exact same sequence of events in The Jewish War in which James is not mentioned at all and the outcome is different. Second, Josephus would not have used “Christ” uncritically, and I have reason to doubt he would use that word at all in a book of apologia for Judaism written for a Roman audience within a couple of decades of the war in Judaea.* Finally, like the Testimonium, the whole passage makes equal or better sense if you omit the “called Christ” and take the Jesus being talked about as the same Jesus who receives the high priesthood at the conclusion of the episode.

    *Josephus never refers to messianism directly in either work. In The Jewish War when he’s writing about Theudas, and the Egyptian, and other early 1st-century figures of unrest and subsequent Roman repression he never uses messianic terminology, even though it’s pretty clear that these troublemakers were messianic pretenders. They’re always “magicians” or “false prophets” and he portrays their followers as deluded fools who deserved what they got. And there are other passages in Josephus that lead me to believe that, in his apologetics for Judaism, he is not interested in giving a reliable portrait of the currents of sectarian and eschatological thought that we now know were a big part of what was going on at the time. Looked at in this context, that “Christ” without further comment is absolutely glaring as the single instance in all the writings of Josephus when he makes such a reference.

  21. 21
    CJO

    L.Long:

    The Aramaic name is Yeoshua. The Talmud calls him Yeoshua bar Yusef, I believe. Those mentions are 2nd century at the earliest and they’re dependent on the gospels. Like all the other genuine ancient secular sources, they reflect the existence of narratives about Jesus at the time they were written, nothing more.

  22. 22
    kraut

    I am sorry, but I would not read any of that guys writing further than the first four sentences. He is a clueless idiot that regurgitates the apologist fecal matter over and over again, asking someone to believe some dubious claims without much historical evidence and none at all as to the proclaimed divinity of his favourite zombie.

    Yes, I repeat phrases written over and over again, because the idiots for christ have nothing new to add, and I have come to the conclusion it is not worth an atheists time to engage with any proponent of religion anymore.
    They do not come up with any evidence, as there is none beside some claimed as such “holy” text, and we as atheists have refuted that claim over and over again.
    Those discussions with the shills for christ are futile to the utmost,

  23. 23
    Jacob

    Good grief indeed.
    Seriously, entropy IS NOT the same as chaos (he didn’t even spell chaos right the first couple of times). I hope AS reads this: Please don’t analogize entropy to macroscopic scale things. It just doesn’t work. Entropy is relevant in chemical reactions, and the chemical states of a system. Not in children’s rooms. Not in evolution. Not in the expansion of the universe. Because if you were to analyze the entropy of those systems in total, you would STILL have entropy tending to increase, no matter if evolution is true or the expansion of the universe or the presence or absence of a child to tend to his room.

    I always see this argument of “you believe everything came from chaos, haha”, and it’s just so disappointing that we as atheists have to combat not just the creationist arguments themselves but their ignorance of our positions. No I’m sorry AS, but we believe that the laws of the universe allowed for the Big Bang, the creation of the Earth and the solar system, and the evolution of life to happen. In fact both of us should agree that there’s a reason things happened the way they did. As an atheist though, I don’t in fact believe in God as a valid explanation for how everything came to be, because then where did God come from? Did he come from nothing? Can’t the universe come from nothing then? Or was he always there? Can’t the universe always exist then? Atheists agree with theists that some reason exists for why we’re here, but we’re just cutting out the middleman (aka God) when there’s no evidence to warrant God’s existence. And of course, there isn’t evidence for God, at least not objective and verifiable evidence. The Bible’s not verifiable, and personal experience isn’t objective. Logical proofs (like TAG and such) don’t address evidence, they are always reasoning that can only speculate on the nature of the universe, but don’t actually reflect reality. And finally, I had asked God to show himself to me, pleaded for him to show his existence. Instead I’ve gotten nothing, no response no nothing. Is it because I wasn’t taking psychoactive drugs? I wasn’t meditating and changing my breathing state (and hence, the state of my brain)? Or I just didn’t believe hard enough, because if I believed hard enough either God would actually show his existence or my brain would just invent his existence to my brain, right? Why can’t God, if he exists, show himself to me when I am in a rational and skeptical state, when I am most amenable to actual evidence and not delusion?

    1. 23.1
      Kathy

      Your question at the end of your post # 23 prompts my reply…

      First we know the man, Jesus walked the earth… (No “issue” as to any human existence question)

      He must have known what it is like to have someone want to know him, and others not want anything to do with him, correct?

      If he IS who he is described to be, (and pre-dating the Bible, so let’s leave that out) as the part of “God” who was separated for a time-sensitive task, then restored, then it would be true he knows you, correct?

      Consider this… If you have a home/apartment, and had someone doubt your existence, and who decided they have already refused to accept any proof of who you are, your right to your property and accountability for behaviors committed on that property, would you bother?

      If he knows you have already decided that you want nothing to do with a dialogue and relationship, why would he proove anything to you?

      Alternatively, if you are truly open to be shown he is God, and to be given the mind necessary to understand him. All you need to “do” is ask him who he is, and he will show you.

  24. 24
    jdon

    Good lord Tracie, you have the patience of a saint.

    ;)

  25. 25
    N. Nescio

    I’m glad you’re posting this up for other people to come across. Maybe it’ll help other people start to realize what nonsense their religious beliefs are. Your past few posts have done a terrific job of rebutting theistic arguments. That’s about the only value this has, however. ‘AS’ is clearly not interested in discussing *anything* seeing as how he’s not even reading what you’ve written before hitting CTRL+V.

    At least with regards to this individual, you’re casting your pearls before swine. Maybe telling him that might get his attention.

  26. 26
    August

    On the subject of Biblical infallibility, John Mill, an English theologian, produced in 1707 a Greek New Testament from approximately 100 manuscripts. During the course of his work, which lasted 30 years, he found some 30,000 discrepancies between the manuscripts. There are a lot more manuscripts now, and the number of discrepancies is known to exceed the number of words in the New Testament.

  27. 27
    mikee

    Aren’t you spelling this persons name incorrectly. I would have thought ASS would be more appropriate.

  28. 28
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    you have to do is ask God yourself. but since you don’t believe in Him, you won’t ask. if you TRULY want to know, you will go to God, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

    Here’s the thing, though. Most of us used to be Christians. We asked. We sought God. And we found a big, fat NOTHING.

    So much for God revealing himself on request…

    o_O” Ghaaa, I just, holy crap, the phrase “revealing himself” makes God sound like a flasher!

  29. 29
    An engineer

    Note that my knowledge of astrophysics is also rather elementary, and this is really cutting-edge stuff, only discovered in the past few years, but I do believe that the current consensus amung astrophysics is that the universe is, contrary to all initial assumptions and human logic, not “winding down” in its expansion, but is in fact, actually speeding up, due to an as-of-yet unknown process. (The energy behind this process has been dubbed, “Dark Energy,” as in, energy that we are still in the dark about.) The 2011 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded, “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.” (Quote wikipedia quoting official Nobel Prize website.) Although, I do believe that astrophysicists have known about this for at least the past 4-5 years.

    Since you seemed quite honest that you had only a layman’s grasp on the subject, this is not any sort of attempt to show your mistakes, but is rather an attempt to allow you, and all readers, to better educate yourself/themselves.

  30. 30
    An engineer

    “This is a CLEAR example of science contradicting science.”
    Science (and more specifically physics) often contradicts itself. More specifically, our limited knowledge of the universe often gives rise to scenarios where we have two competing models which both apply, but are actually quite incompatible with each other. Sometimes, even a single competing model will be incompatible with itself. For example, the twins paradox was a thought-experiment by Einstein to point out a flaw in his own Theory (at the time it was just an idea) of Special Relativity. Basically, Special Relativity works as such: The faster you go (really fast, as in, comparable to the speed of light), the more your time slows down, as viewed by an outside observer. That is to say, if I’m standing still, and you’re on a rocketship going at 50% the speed of light, and I look at my wrist-watch, and look at the clock on your spaceship, then your spaceship’s clock will be moving more slowly than my wrist-watch. Of course, this would mean that you age more slowly on your spaceship, from my vantage point. From the vantage point of someone on the spaceship, my wrist-watch would be turning slowly, and their clock would be normal.

    The twins paradox is this: So what happens if one twin stands on Earth, and the other twin goes into orbit around the Earth at a speed comparable to the speed of light, then comes back to Earth. Which twin is younger, and which twin is older? From each twin’s vantage point, he is aging normally, and his twin is aging more slowly.

    This is a clear and classic example of a paradox, that is, when a hypothesis or theory, or set of hypotheses and theories, contradicts itself in a way that there is no (readily visible) correct answer, or multiple mutually exclusive correct answers. Science, however, does have a defined process to resolve paradoxes and determine if there is indeed no possible correct solution to the problem, or if the hypothesis/Theory is incorrect.

    (In case you are wondering how the twin paradox was resolved, it is the twin in orbit that turns out to be yonuger at the end of the trip. This is because the accleration to and from near light speed, as well as the acceleration of the orbit, cause the laws of physics to slightly change and Special Relativity does not hold true in these accelerating reference frames.)

  31. 31
    An engineer

    “No. I don’t know anyone who thinks that the chemical processes we label as “living things” aren’t affected by entropy. Do you think that biologists assert living things never die?”

    Now this, is something that I do happen to be an expert on! The Second Law of Thermodynamics, most commonly taken to mean in a qualitative sense, “In a closed system, entropy increases as time increase,” only applies to a closed system. And living things are *not* closed systems. As such, it is perfectly physically possible for entropy to decrease within a living being. (Although, you’d have to ask a molecular biologist as to whether or not DNA formation and cell processes count as an increase or decrease of entropy…)

    And actually, I do believe there are one or two species of life which are theoretically capable of living eternally. (Although, in actuality, they usually end up being eaten before eternity arrives.) Here’s a jellyfish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turritopsis_nutricula

  32. 32
    B-Lar

    Awesome. I seriously enjoyed that.

    The only bit I would have changed in your rebuttal was when he was talking about perfection and chaos. I take great delight in Chaos mathematics (despite not having a complete graps on the detail) because it shows how a chaotic system develops order and patterns within itself naturally).

    Chaos is not randomness which is I think were AS is getting confused.

    As for perfection, you made the point already I think, that we dont really see perfection around us in the classical sense.

    However, I subscribe to a loose Taoist philosophy which suggests that everything operates in a gloriously harmonious system where balance is constantly lost and gained. It is a glorious form of natural order and, in my opinion, nothing could be more perfect and delightful than a universe-sized mechanism with no point or reason working exactly as it should at every level.

  33. 33
    Lutz

    I admire your patience.

    Also: “People can’t breathe underwater, which means wind created the oceans.”

    Priceless.

  34. 34
    heicart

    Thanks to all of you for your further input on the issues of science and Biblical texts. The discussion on either could go on forever, and I’m unqualified to discuss the science, and with regard to the Bible, it’s irrelevant to the question “does god exist?” So, while I think it’s certainly interesting, and even enlightening to discuss either, I don’t ever want to give a theist an idea that either impacts my atheism. When a person says “X exists”–even if they explain their reasons for thinking that is so, ultimately the reality will emerge that “OK, this is what you think. It seems reasonable. But how do we test to see if it’s right?” We certainly can’t skip that part and just start saying “X exists and does what I think it’s reasonable it does.” You actually can’t make assertions about what X does until you demonstrate X is. That’s the part most theists just skip over. And I try to take them back to that step and ask them: “OK, if your god did this, then your god must exist–have you verified/demonstrated that small part of your claims BEFORE you went off asserting all the things this god does?” It’s a really important step.

    With the end of the Universe, I was working from “heat death”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_death_of_the_universe

    But since I know that new theories and data are always being collected and updated, I always give the disclaimer. I recall when I was all up on “natural laws”–and got a lot of letters from people studying physics telling me to stop saying that. Today I avoid it, because I understand they’re just a sort of short-hand and not really the full story.

    I find that in order to rebut all the various claims of all the theists I encounter, I either have to be informed on the latest theories of everything (and not just science), or stick to the basics: Where is your demonstration of your god. I don’t care WHY you think a god exists (what you think it does), I care, after you were convinced god existed, how you verified that? Or did you not, and you’re just proceeding on your assumption that “I intuit X, therefore X is true”?

    It’s amazing how intelligent and educated people have to be in order to see a god exists. You have to fully understand biology, cosmology, geology…and then reject them. What I find interesting is that they will reject extremely complex ideas with only superficial understanding/information, but accept “god exists” after someone makes a load of unfounded claims to them and demonstrates none of them. _That_, they will believe, but a mountain of evidence put out and explained by a mountain of educated people who have devoted their lives to understanding that evidence–they get a one paragraph summary of it and say “Nope. This makes no sense.”

  35. 35
    heicart

    I’d also like to add that where he asked god to help him provide “proof,” I wish god would have replied, “Go back and actually read what Tracie wrote. Take your time–and maybe really check out that Dragon thing to see what it is she’s trying to get you to understand about what she’s asking for. Once you have an actual grasp of what she’s calling _evidence_, hunt it down and give it to her. In fact, let me help: Here’s a list of a few extremely specific private things in Tracie’s head that you couldn’t possibly know about–stuff that’s been on her mind in the past few weeks. Send this to her–it will really help your case. And I’m here if you need more; but that should at least intrigue her sufficiently to think you might be onto something.”

  36. 36
    trj

    A creationist who triumphantly exclaims that no order ever came from an explosion and that the second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution. Color me surprised.

    Also, I wonder how AS knows about the “primordial dust cloud” preceding the Big Bang. Probably it’s another thing he copied from someone else. Perhaps from Kent Hovind, or some equally eminent creation scientist.

  37. 37
    marisa

    Wow,

    I read the entire thing, and all I can say is… wow. I am sad to hear that it was a copy and paste job, but I’m not surprised.

    I might not normally comment since I have nothing constructive to add, but since you worried that no one would read it, I wanted to add my “I did” to the chorus. Nice work.

  38. 38
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    People who know nothing about science should not argue against science…

  39. 39
    Andrew

    “In real terms, the New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the documents, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it.”

    The same could be said of the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita.

    1. 39.1
      Cascadia

      Andrew: “The same could be said of the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita.”

      Ha! Exactly. cut to the quick while I was writing up a ramble.

    2. 39.2
      colubridae

      You don’t even need to compare to anything else.

      All the attestations derive from the bible, they aren’t external. It’s like saying the vast quantity of films/magazine articles/discussions/critiques of Harry Potter demonstrate that Harry Potter is real.

      Utter self-delusion

  40. 40
    Cascadia

    Since all AS can do is plagiarize another website, maybe they should expand their browsing a little. And work on their ethics and morality around theft and lying, since they’ve somehow missed that lesson somewhere in their indoctrination.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve bothered keeping track of why the bible is dumb, but back when I was 15 (raised athiest, thank (ha!) God, but you still have to deal with those nutjobs plenty in daily life as a teen), I had a binder-full of printed out usenet collections containing thousands of not insignificant biblical contradictions.

    I think AS needs something like that. I’m sure there’s a lot better on the ‘net these days, but I just found this:

    http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/central.html

    You deserve a halo for patience.

    My favorite funny: God is not Allah. Except: he is.

    If you want to go on the basis of the Bible by appeal to popularity and support that by stating that the Bible is historically consistent, you really *must* accept Allah into the Abrahamic tradition. The Qu’ran was thoroughly memorized and verified within the lifetime of it’s prophet, was meticulously transcribed and far more consistently tracked and guarded since than were the selectively chosen and translated stories that were eventually compiled and manipulated into the Bible, without the problems presented by the translations of the bible from several original languages which have since gone completely extinct. Arabic didn’t change so significantly as to present these problems in temporal subjective understanding, and the Qu’ran is not translated into other language-concepts as its base for teaching. Problems and disagreements of subsequent factions are well understood and documented by scholars. Oh, and Jesus is mentioned in the Qu’ran more than Mohamed, or in the bible. And though Mohammed had no real reason to have intimate knowledge of many of the details or teachings of Jesus’s story or the Jewish traditions, there are Many correlations within the Qu’ran, showing that this *was* divinely granted information. It’s also more consistent with the older Abrahamic view of God and Jesus’ own teachings against the idea that he is divinity.

    I don’t personally support this at all, mind you, but for the sake of fun argument I do occasionally enjoy throwing my own half-knowlege and ignorance behind Islam. Most of the above is probably inaccurate, but good enough for Bible work. It’s more fun than arguing atheism with hard-headed theists, and uses most of their own arguments and assumptions against them. :)

    Also: if I choose Islam, hell is less scary and I get to keep my house and property when my Husband dies.

  41. 41
    jacobfromlost

    Here’s an approach that others might find useful.

    I found myself arguing with a theist who wandered into the “where did we come from, where did the earth come from, where did the sun come from, etc” argument.

    My understanding of physics is limited to the popular books (Hawking and so forth), the classics (Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Aristotle, etc), the Krauss youtube videos, and a few other things, so I simply cut to the chase–as far as I know, I told him, most physicists are not saying existence itself started at the Big Bang. They are just saying that space-time, gravity, energy, etc, as it is balanced in our observable universe “started” with it (although “started” may or may not be the wrong word in this context).

    So let’s take all of those same theist arguments and apply them to EXISTENCE instead of the universe (as I think the confusion of the two is what makes the theist think this is a good argument).

    Can existence “come from nonexistence”? No, since that would be a contradiction.

    Can a god create existence? No, because the god would have to exist to create existence, and if he existed before he created existence, he didn’t really create existence, did he?

    The only possibility is that god does not exist, and that existence in some form didn’t “come from” anywhere at all–it couldn’t have, as the only other place existence could come from is NONEXISTENCE, and that is impossible. Existence, therefore, simply IS in some form (one might say “always” or “eternally”, but that gets them confused again regarding Newtonian absolute time).

    The theist actually agreed with most of this, simply ignoring the “where did god’s existence come from if god created existence” problem.

    So I asked him why he is asking me where things “come from” then, if existence simply IS, and the fact that we can see things existing around us in particular ways certainly does NOT mean they came from nonexistence (ie, absolute nothingness).

    He didn’t respond. At all. The first time in a month long debate where he didn’t quickly respond. Is it possible he understood?

    1. 41.1
      Jacob

      Their argument about existence tends to separate God’s existence (a metaphysically existent being) from ours (physically existent beings). It gets kind of messy to go down the road of trying to define God as somehow non-physical, and yet still exists, since of course it’s just special pleading. It’s funny because we agree with theists, something may have existed for all time, it’s just that we atheists cut out the middleman (aka God). Occam’s Razor, it works.

      1. jacobfromlost

        “It’s funny because we agree with theists, something may have existed for all time, it’s just that we atheists cut out the middleman (aka God). Occam’s Razor, it works.”

        Sure. Then there is the old “Can something come from nothing?” garbage.

        Is god something, or is god nothing? If god is something, he has to come from something else. If god is nothing, then something didn’t come from god. (And I’ll even give them the “god is not physical” part. I’m willing to accept that something can be nonphysical and EXIST, even as a condition that leads to a universe like the one we see around ourselves. I only need the EXIST part to show how their argument actually works against them.)

        Unless, of course, you eliminate god altogether and accept that some form of existence simply IS, and there was no condition (and cannot be a condition) in which existence “comes from” a state of utter nothingness.

        The irony, as I see it, is that when you clarify the terms, the argument supports the ATHEIST position far better than the theist position. Either existence IS, or existence ISN’T–and it seems clear to me that it IS. As such, existence couldn’t “come from” anywhere. The most you could say about a god in this context is that god IS existence, which is about as watered down a god concept as you could possibly get (and would not in the least satisfy most of the people that blather on about “Where did the earth come from?”).

  42. 42
    Kes

    Augh! It absolutely kills me when someone guilelessly asserts that the four people who wrote the gospels were in actuality four of the disciples of Christ who actually heard him preach.

    It is well known that the author of John’s Gospel was not a disciple of the living Jesus and that he wrote his book nearly a generation after Jesus died. Also well know is that the author of Luke almost certainly also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, was a companion or friend of Paul, and equally much never met Jesus in life. Furthermore, it is demonstrable that the authors of the Synoptic gospels, especially Matthew & Luke, were working off of Mark and perhaps another document of Jesus’ life. The possibility that any of the Evangelists ever saw, much less met or spoke to, Jesus of Nazareth, is vanishingly remote.

    Just as frustrating is the idea that “THE BIBLE” is some sort of coherent, internally consistent, centuries-long narrative, culminating in the death of Jesus. It is not. It is a combination of old myths & legends, law books, erotic & liturgical poetry, familiar aphorisms, apocalyptic visions, and inter-church correspondence written by hundreds of different authors in dozens of countries over thousands of years. An impressive work of scholarship and preservation of tradition, but little else.

    An excellent summary of how the Bible came to be assembled from its dis-separate parts can be found in Karen Armstrong’s “The Bible.” In fact, I can’t recommend any of her books highly enough, especially “A History of God.”

  43. 43
    bkhawkeye

    Funny, I facepalmed at the exact same point in the story as you.

  44. 44
    Zinc Avenger

    I read the whole thing, shaking my head at the utter lack of engagement on show. How can you debate someone who isn’t listening, just waiting for you to stop talking so they can start again?

    The very first word of the Bible is “In”, and the concept of “in”-ness is irrefutable. Therefore, God.

  45. 45
    Pierce R. Butler

    A few niggles: … it [Gospel o' John] was written over 2,000 years ago…

    1,940 years ago, max.

    … historical consensus is that the myths about Jesus are based on a real rabbi.

    Anachronism, as the title “rabbi” was not used until after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, 70 CE.

    The most widely accepted account of a historical “Jesus” (Yeshua) concerns a country boy who visited Jerusalem on a holy pilgrimage, flipped out and started prophesying, and got into major trouble as a result – see my Pharyngula comment here.

    Second the motion regarding Bart Ehrman – anybody who wants to claim historical reliability for the Xian testament needs to address his clearly written analyses first and foremost. Those who want to dig deeper into the question of whether a historical Jesus existed at all should look for the books of G.A. Wells.

  46. 46
    Anthony K

    Based on his reasoning, this Canada Post site, plus the fact that protein-folding is not completely understood, proves Santa exists.

  47. 47
    Aquaria

    Within the circle of reputable historians, the question of Jesus’ existence is not disputed. And it would be fair to say within that context that it’s indisputable, and that those who assert Jesus did not exist are being unreasonable.

    Uh–yes, it is disputed, by reputable scholars, so it’s reasonable to question that his emo scumbag deity existed.

    Historians Richard Carrier and Alvar Ellegard question the existence of Jesus, so you’re wrong about that, or that questioning that the scumbag existed is unreasonable.

    When I look at the lists of people who support the existence myth, I’m always struck with how many of them are either christians themselves, or teach at christian universities. It makes me think they might have a reason for believing the emo slacker did exist.

    1. 47.1
      Achrachno

      You’re right that some reputable scholars doubt that Jesus is more than yet another mythical founder figure. The Romulus and Remus of Christianity, perhaps. My favorite book on this topic is “The Historical Evidence for Jesus” by G.A. Wells — turns out there isn’t much evidence.

      I don’t know about this emo scumbag stuff though. If he existed, and if the NT is partially true about him, and depending on which parts, he might have been quite an OK sort, especially for the times — not a scumbag. I don’t know what you mean by emo in this context — do you think he sang with the Smiths?

      1. drdave

        Better than Wells is Earl Doherty on Jesus as myth – “Jesus: Neither God nor Man”.

        For takedowns of “Jesus” scholars and the “Concensus for Historical Jesus”, see Neil Godfrey at Vrider

  48. 48
    Achrachno

    Tracie — Please don’t feel that what you’re writing is to no effect. Even if AS is paying no attention, the rest of us are. Your efforts are much appreciated.

    Your pen pal AS made a few claims that I wanted to answer more directly than you did, so here goes:

    AS: 1. We have such a huge number of manuscript copies…. over 24,000.

    But many of those are late and of little use in trying to sort out what the original ms may have said. You tend to get a lot of copies of any old book that had medieval clubs devoted to making copies of it.

    AS: 2. Those copies agree with each other, word for word, 99.5% of the time.

    Bart Ehrman pointed out somewhere that among all the New Testam. manuscripts combined there are more errors than here are words in the thing. That 99.5 number was clearly made up based on no study at all. Word for word 0.5% of the time might be closer!

    Luckily they’re mostly minor errors and so scholars using modern critical methods can usually figure out what the original probably said. Still, this puts a rather large torpedo below the water line of the good ship “God Preserved His Word”.

    AS: 3. The dates of these manuscripts are very close to the dates of their originals.

    No one knows the dates of the originals, except roughly and disputably. The “concensus” view is that the earliest gospel, Mark, dates from around 70, but the evidence for even that early is weak and it could conceivably be from 1st decade of the 2nd century. The gospels are all undated and anonymous. Many of the manuscripts are several hundred years younger than that, and the oldest fragment (a few words from John) is dated to the 2nd century. I’ve forgotten the date of the oldest reasonably intact bit of text or complete ms, but I think it was 100-150 years after that. The AS “very close” in time claim would be a lie, if AS or his source were well enough informed to be held responsible. He probably just doesn’t know better, because he’s been fed a steady diet of apologetic balogna.

    1. 48.1
      Achrachno

      To add to what I just said — According to Wikipedia, the earliest intact NT manuscripts are 1 & 2 Tim. and John, all dated to around 350. Earlier than that, it’s just fragments of various sizes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_manuscript

      1. rrpostal

        Mostly I find the history of the bible to be a rather boring affair. I’ve read Ehrman and tried to get a passing knowledge of what is really known. But for some reason this morning I am finding this rather fascinating from a historical perspective. It piqued my interest more than usual. I only wish we invested such focused group interest in other directions. If nothing else, it gives me a great respect, and a bit of jealousy, for the people who are capable and studied enough to research such things.

  49. 49
    Jadehawk

    ack! SIWOTI Syndrome kicked in; I appologize for this teal deer

    He’s NOT allah, He is Jesus Christ, point of interest: allah is the arabic word for god, and muslims worship abraham’s god. So, since allah=jahweh, and since (according to christian mythology) yahweh=jesus, logically allah=jesus must also be true.

    Secular historians recorded the general facts of Jesus’ life

    no. what “secular” historians have done is record more-or-less accurately the beliefs of christians.

    but his close associates made more detailed reports based on direct eyewitness testimony.

    too bad they didn’t write it down then, since the writing we have is from decades after JC’s supposed death, written by people who never met his or probably none of the people who met him; meaning, it’s all second and third hand at best.

    These are called the four gospels, the first four books of the New Testament.

    hahahahahaa. no.

    How can we be sure these biographies of Jesus are accurate?

    erm, actually, they can’t be accurate, seeing as they directly contradict each other. They can’t even agree on which year JC was supposedly born.

    When historians try to determine if a biography is reliable, they ask, “How many other sources report the same details about this person?”

    yep. and in the case of JC’s story, the answer is “none”; not even the evangelists count as separate sources, since they were cribbing off each other where they’re not contradicting each other.

    Two of the gospels were written by the apostles Matthew and John, men who KNEW Jesus personally

    this is factually incorrect.

    Each of the four gospel writers made a very detailed account.

    sure; a very detailed contradictory account, and not one of those versions has been confirmed by non-christian historians of the time.

    there is variation in the style but agreement in the facts.

    you’ve not actually ever read the bible, have you.

    We know the authors were not simply making things up, because the gospels give specific geographical names and cultural details that have been confirmed by historians and archaeologists.

    that’s silly. Historical fiction and political propaganda always get background-information right, so as to make their fiction more realistic. However, “realistic” != “real”.
    And that’s assuming the details are right, and some scholars have actually pointed out that some of the gospels seem to take liberties with the political structure of Rome to be able to tell the stories the way they’re told.

    Jesus’ recorded words leave out many topics the early church would have liked a statement on. This indicates that the biographers were honest, not putting words in Jesus’ mouth to suit their own interests.

    nah. it just means that they weren’t writing instruction-manuals.

    For instance, we know the New Testament we have today is true to its original form because:
    1. We have such a huge number of manuscript copies…. over 24,000.

    …no two of which are identical…

    2. Those copies agree with each other, word for word, 99.5% of the time.
    3. The dates of these manuscripts are very close to the dates of their originals.

    no and no.

    When one compares the text of one manuscript with another, the match is amazing.

    they were copied one from the other; why would high degree of agreement be “amazing”?

    Concerning word order, Bruce M. Metzger, professor emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary, explains: “It makes a whale of a difference in English if you say, ‘Dog bites man’ or ‘Man bites dog’ — sequence matters in English. But in Greek it doesn’t.

    not entirely true; but asides from that, because other languages have declensions and conjugations, sometimes a single letter can change the meaning of an entire sentence by changing its grammar

    Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a visiting professor at Oxford University, also comments:

    he’s either a very ignorant person, or he’s lying. Either way, the NT is not the best-attested piece of writing from antiquity; it’s merely the most-copied, which doesn’t mean much in terms of determining the veracity and accuracy of originals which we don’t have.

    Several secular sources support Jesus’ existence as well.

    this is also incorrect. at most, you have one secular source, which however is tainted by the fact that chunks of it have been forged by christians later, casting doubt on even the one remaining possible passage about a dude named Jesus. All other non-Christian sources merely report the beliefs of Christians.

    HE said: “We are today able to assert beyond a shadow of a doubt that the historical Jesus existed”

    anyone who says that without actually having archaeological evidence for a person’s existence (a body, court records, handwritten notes, stuff like that) is simply lying and/or being a bad historian. “beyond a shadow of doubt” is simply not a phrase commonly uttered by honest historians.

    As well as Josephus, a Jewish historian, described Jesus as a wise man who was crucified by Pilate, in his book, “Antiquities of the Jews”.

    most of the passages about Jesus are 3rd century forgeries, casting some doubt on the one or two remaining ones; and those ones only say that a person named Jesus existed.

    Other pagan writers from the first and second century A.D. also provided proof that Jesus existed.

    incorrect; they provide evidence that Christians believed that Jesus existed, which is somewhat meaningless. Of course they did, that’s what made them Christians.

    the tree doesn’t bare fruit for it’s self. it bares fruit for OTHERS.

    wut. no. what a massive biology fail.
    an apple tree has apples because that’s how it reproduces. it very much does it for itself. later, humans bred larger apples for themselves, but that’s not the tree doing things, that’s humans doing things.

    well, since your an athiest YOU believe in the big bang, right?

    atheism and acceptance of the evidence for the big bang are orthogonal issues.

    Which makes more since, that the big bang was a random event, or that it was under the control of the Creator?

    randomness is both the Null hypothesis in this case, and more parsimonious due to lack of evidence for a creator and lack of need for one to explain it.

    before the explosion there was a primordial dust cloud, a dust cloud in the NOTHINGNESS of space,

    now you’re making stuff up. “dust”? before atoms? yeah, no.

    which drew together as a massive hyperdense core of mass and energy, and it was THAT that exploded

    please learn the difference between an expansion and an explosion. the big bang was the former, not the latter.

    So where did this dust cloud come from, and where did the ENERGY, and primodial dust cloud come from??

    the dust-cloud obviously came from your imagination (or from the imagination of whoever told you that silly story); energy OTOH… if I understand this correctly, the total energy of the universe is near zero (apparently, gravity counts as negative energy), so it didn’t need to come from anywhere.

    If there is ONE thing we know from science, it’s that we know we do NOT get something out of nothing.

    wut. things appear out of nothing all the time. they’re called virtual particles.

    we are to believe that this supposedly “random” event resulted in the PERFECTION of the universe???

    what evidence is there that this universe is”perfect”? what would a non-perfect universe be like, for comparison?

    This is an example where science contradics science

    no, in this case it’s just an example of you not knowing what you’re talking about.

    If it is NOT under control, it generates into chaos, if YOUR child doesn’t clean his room, if someone doesn’t control the dishes in the sink, if someone doesn’t control the chemical reaction, the result is going to be RANDOM and CHOAS.

    that’s not how entropy works. and i don’t even know where to start correcting this, so I won’t bother. however, i assure you the second law of thermodynamics has nothing to do with dirty dishes. :-/

    what do I mean by “life” I mean the power that gives a body “once assembled” to live.

    that’s a tautology; you can’t explain “life” as “the power to live”, because life and live come from the same word.

    1. 49.1
      vethtiche

      I love Jadehawk’s response, would probably have been more effective, no disrespect to Tracie.

      Sometimes what a Christian needs is not meticulous answers to be explained and put on a platter for him/her (since we know this one doesn’t really read the reply).

      What this kid needs, and which Jadehawk provides, is a series of strong “No”s to plant the idea that his current worldview & knowledge is plain wrong and not shared by the the majority of an educated & scientific society.

      Short & concise answers work best in this situation, and a dose of “Haha you’re an idiot!” wouldn’t hurt either methinks….

  50. 50
    Jadehawk

    The reason why AS’s response seems to ignore your previous points is that the substence of the r
    sponse was not actually written by AS.

    oh for… *sniff*

    well, that was an hour I’ll never get back

    1. 50.1
      Achrachno

      Such is so of all our hours. As long as you enjoyed the writing, all is well. Besides, you made a contribution here, to the rest of us. Thanks.

  51. 51
    Athywren

    I honestly and openly asked god to show himself to me, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.

  52. 52
    Andrew G.

    Also well know is that the author of Luke almost certainly also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, was a companion or friend of Paul, and equally much never met Jesus in life.

    Um, no.

    The author of ‘Luke’ also wrote Acts (the two are often treated as a single work, Luke-Acts, in two volumes), but we have no evidence that this author is the same person as the Luke who Paul refers to as a fellow worker.

    Luke the companion of Paul gets 3 references: one in Philemon [authentic] in which he appears in a list of fellow workers sending greetings; one in Colossians [disputed] similarly; and again in 2 Timothy [a forgery] in which he is referred to as a physician.

    Luke-Acts was written long enough (40-50 years) after the travels of Paul to make it pretty unlikely to have been written by an actual companion, and Acts’ account of Paul’s doings does not square with Paul’s own authentic writings, so Luke-Acts is pretty much universally regarded as being just another work of unknown authorship to which the early church attached a convenient name.

  53. 53
    heicart

    Just to clarify my comments on the existence of Jesus. Michael Behe is a reputable scientist, employed by a decent university, in their Department of Biological Sciences. He also supports Intelligent Design.

    Saying that within the circle of reputable biologists, evolution is the consensus view, and that dissenters are not being reasonable is not, in my view, unfair. That does not mean Behe is not “reputable”–because he has a reputation/vitae that is impressive and legitimate.

    Reputable experts can dissent. But that does not negate that a consensus view does not have to be unanimous to be held as expert consensus. If an Intelligent Design advocate held up Behe or Francis Collins (as another example) against consensus view of other scientists, I would say rare dissent may be interesting, and such dissenters may even turn out to be correct one day, but they offer no legitimate reason for a lay person to go against an expert consensus view in a valid, recognized area of study. To do so is to advocate the same M.O. that conspiracy theorists employ.

    And I won’t turn hypocrite just because it would be nice to be able to demonstrate Jesus didn’t exist. I go with expert consensus, because that is reasonable for me, as a lay person to do, and because I reject it when theists go with rare dissenters in trying to “prove” their points. I can’t just go with dissenters when they agree with me, and go with consensus when the dissenters don’t agree with me. As a layman, I go with the larger accepted expert view. And with regard to historic Jesus, it’s accepted the stories are based on a real person at some point in history.

  54. 54
    Achrachno

    Tracie: I go with expert consensus, because that is reasonable for me, as a lay person to do, and because I reject it when theists go with rare dissenters in trying to “prove” their points.

    The awkward thing here is that there is no expert literature demonstrating the existence of Jesus, unlike the situation with respect to evolution and ID. There are thousands of scientific papers exploring evolution and applying to theory to various aspects of observed reality. With respect to Jesus there’s just the general societal assumption he existed, based on the dominance of Christian theology here. If you go looking for books arguing for the existence of Jesus, based on something other than the assumption that the Bible is true, you find the pickings are pretty thin. There are a number of blatantly apologetic works, and some explorations by honest workers that give varying degrees of negative results. Albert Schweitzer’s quest for the historical Jesus is a fine example of a failed effort by an honest Christian theologian.

    IMO, the current consensus of scholars that have actually looked into the matter is that there is little or no reliable information about any historical Jesus. Can’t prove he never existed, but sure can’t show that he did.

    A fairly recent book that sets out to present the historical Jesus is The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders (a liberal Christian and intelligent and well-educated scholar). Read next to something by a scholar with no apologetic concerns (say, G.A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus) and the case for Jesus is seen to obviously be very weak. The case Sanders makes is about as good as any — but he fails. I’m probably being a bit unfair here, because Sanders’ book is aimed more at a popular (but educated) audience than Wells’ and so the arguments are not as detailed. Habermas argues in some detail for Jesus, but is one of the blatantly apologetic ones. Heck, he’d be unemployed (Liberty U.) if he reached any unorthodox conclusion. He doesn’t.

  55. 55
    guest

    actually, the guy who termed the BB Big Bang was making a joke. From what I learned there was no “Bang” or “explosion” I guess the term just holds up for the lack of a better term and because it’s catchy.
    Also AS: please work on your spelling.

  56. 56
    AJ

    Just curious Tracie, but is AS the handle the writer used to identify themselves, or is it just an abr you have used to maintain their pivacy? I only ask because in the back of my mind I can just hear myself saying “Funny how AS is also the acronym for Austin Stone.”

  57. 57
    jacobfromlost

    Test.

  58. 58
    Stacey Padol

    Please let me know we really didn’t look like that, dress that way, and dance like this? I swear I saw a person who could pass for the sista, another Michael Jackson “don’t stop til you get enough” video clone, and Rhianna’s mother (the chick with your ex hair into her ass dancing in most sort of baby doll lingerie outfit). Oh and i am sure I saw a Rick James wannabe in there too. All this before 10 each morning!

  59. 59
    darkstar

    I feel like I’m trolling old threads but so be it…

    HEY GOD!!! REVEAL YOURSELF TO ME RIGHT NOW!!!

    (waits)

    Hey you are right, I know God now, it worked – God is nothing because nothing happened.

    And I second what #28 said, been there, done that.

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