Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – myth, fact and what should be presented in a magazine about science and history

smithsonian coverJust got my latest Smithsonian magazine. I have a particular fondness for this magazine, being one of the first I got when I was a kid in the late 70s. One of the first issues had the shots of Io’s volcanoes from Voyager 1.   About a decade later, I got an internship at one of the Smithsonian’s museums, the National Air and Space Museum. Very cool and I’ll never forget it or the folks who I worked with there.

This current issue, January/February 2016, has as the front cover a title “The Search for Jesus: new archaeology from Galilee to Jerusalem” with a very nice, if fantastical, picture of an artist’s rerendering of a 6th-7th century image of a beardless man from a cave in Egypt. Perhaps the original painting has more information to ID it as Jesus Christ, but I don’t see much reason to in what is presented in the magazine. Inside the magazine is a considerably less breathless title “Unearthing the World of Jesus”.

I do understand that magazines are business and they do have to make money, which I am sure is the reason behind the cover being the way it is; the magazine also contains a full page ad about how patriots need to buy survival food, unsurprisingly right across from part of the Jesus article. However, my respect for the magazine has gone down hill rapidly and that isn’t a good thing when this issue also announced that it was my last unless I renew. There are some very good articles in this issue, about the continued existence of unexploded ordinance in Germany thanks to WWII, some of the earliest cave paintings, how autism may not be a new thing, and a touching story about a WWII veteran in his twilight. To renew or not is the question, can one bad article turn me off of what is generally an excellent source of information?

The article is written as if the story about Jesus Christ is unquestioned historical fact. The use of may and might are so sown throughout the article that it reads like something from any gossip rag or like a show like Ancient Aliens. For a magazine that has excellent journalism and excellent research, I find this extremely unusual and largely inexcusable.

For example, the claim that a site across from the modern town of Migdal is Magdala and Magdala *is* the hometown of Mary Magdalene. It may indeed be Magdala. This is not evidence that Mary existed but evidence that a character was claimed to be from there. That a synagogue was found there is interesting and is evidence that Jews existed there but that was already known. There is a claim that there is a “possible” site for Jesus’ trial that aligns with the description of Herod’s palace on the gospel of John but strangely enough, there is no description of Herod’s palace in that gospel, the only words about Pilate’s palace and the only description is that Pilate went in and out of it, then going to another place to judge him (the gospel of Luke is the sole source for the trial by Herod). There is also claimed the usual inscription about Pilate which shows that there is a difference between what the bible claims and what an official Roman inscription claims.

A more interesting thing is that a small stone block (size of a “toy chest”) carved with imagery from the Old Testament was discovered. The article claims that these images are symbols associated with the temple in Jerusalem. They may be also associated with that, but they are also easily found by just reading the Torah/Tanakh, so it’s not terribly strange that a Jewish person would know them. There is little reason to think this block is a miniature version of the temple, though it may be, and less reason to think that Jesus Christ put a torah on it and spoke from it. Chariots of fire existed in other mythologies so it’s not too surprising that Jews had the idea too, and that later Christians would use the same imagery, blending Christ with the sun god of the area they were in, Rome in the 3rd century. In the article, there is one very odd comment about this block, that there is question about what material it is from, baboon 1400 BCEeither limestone or quartzite and the analysis isn’t complete yet (the stone was found in 2009). Now, if you are familiar with geology, quartzite is metamorphosed (changed by pressure and heat) sandstone. It’s very very hard and durable. Now, limestone can be hard but not nearly so hard as quartzite. It’s also mostly calcium carbonate, which is easily identified because it will dissolve in acid. Why there is any question what this block is made from 6 years after the discovery makes no sense at all. It also makes me very much concerned when the Israel Antiquities Authority has given exclusive access to this block to one person, an art historian that claims that most sculptors didn’t use quartzite and that isn’t terribly true, considering how many of them were made by ancient Egyptians.

A timeline is presented, with images of various items that are claimed as evidence for the Jesus story. What they are is evidence that there were Jews, that people were buried and that people were cruxified, and that Herod had a place to live; it also presents ‘when’ JC lived. To present this information under the aegis that this is evidence that Jesus Christ, Son of God, existed, is poor research, and unfortunately similar to the excuses apologists offer.

And those apologist excuses are also to be found in the article itself. There is Mark Chancy, “religious studies professor of Southern Methodist University”, who says this “He wasn’t a political leader, so we don’t have coins, for example that have his bust or name. He wasn’t a sufficiently high profile social leader to leave behind inscriptions. In his own lifetime, he was a marginal figure and he was active in marginalized circles”.   These are claims that don’t quite track with that the bible claims about this character, that Herod knew of him and was “greatly pleased” (Luke 23)to see him in order to see a miracle, that multiple times a legion’s worth of men, plus women and children followed this man around.

Craig Evans also makes an appearance. Evans is a New Testament scholar, from Houston Baptist who has debated Bart Ehrman, also a New Testament scholar, about the historicity and veracity of the New Testament. He says that the most impressive gain of historical Jesus research is “a renewed appreciation of the Judaic character of Jesus, his mission and his world.” Hmmm, finding that Jews are Jewish is something you have to renew your appreciation for? The article is somewhat redeemed by stating that the current research does make the character of Jesus have to be more Jewish and does not support the claim that JC was out to convert everyone as Christians would claim. In my research about Evans, I have found the debates he has had with Ehrman (2012, and 2011) and a review of one of them.

The article ends with the Catholic priest who wants to build a Christian spiritual center in Israel whose construction was halted with the discovery of the synagogue “We didn’t find any evidence yet that says for sure Jesus was here.”   He goes on “To have scientific, archaeological evidence of Jesus’ presence is not a small thing for a Christian. We will keep digging”.

For all of the protestations of how religion is all about faith, it seems that is not quite enough. Articles like this are trotted out all of the time, and there is still no evidence that the myth is true.

Postscript – lest anyone be curious, I don’t believe in an historical Jesus Christ Son of God. I believe that there could be a kernel of truth, that there was a itinerant rabbi who thought he was the messiah, and there is evidence that this was not uncommon to happen in Palestine at that time, but there is no evidence of this one person. I find the whole thing to be legend. There may have been a big strong guy who claimed he was the son of Zeus but that’s no reason to believe it.  BTW, I did renew the subscription and wrote a letter to the editor.

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132 responses to “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – myth, fact and what should be presented in a magazine about science and history

  1. You, my friend don’t like us. It is holiday time. Not time to make us think so hard.
    This was a nice read.
    I hope the authors of the magazine will stop pandering to half truths

  2. I gave up on Scientific American about 20 years when they started pushing the leftist global warming hoax.

    And the latest class on Darwin has become disappointing because almost all the biology back then was pure conjecture and nobody really knew what they were talking about, including Charles Darwin.

    Thank goodness for the biotechnology revolution that began with Watson and Crick!

    It’s heartening to know that science can still be science, somewhere at some time.

    • I knew you’d slither in, SOM. So, SOM, show us the evidence that global warming is not happening. Surely you can, right?

      Poor SOM, still claims that evolutionary science ended with Darwin. It’s a great deal of fun watching you intentionally lie about people. Bearing false witness is so becoming to you.

      Darwin did know what he was talking about, but it’s nice to see one more lie from a TrueChristian who can’t support his claims.

      The same science that supports DNA and biotechnology shows that creationists like you are sadly mistaken. Do show evidence for your claims and your god, SOM. I’m still waiting for the evidence of your claims, made the last time you posted on my blog.

      • club,

        Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence.

        There is no evidence of global warming.

        NOAA the UN and climate scientists have all been caught multiple times either falsifying evidence or just making it all up.

      • Ah, so you do have evidence of your claim that “NOAA, the UN and climate scientists have all been caught multiple times”? I’m waiting for it. It’s quite an extraordinary claim that all climate scientists, the entire UN and NOAA have done what you claim, so by your own words, we do need extraordinary evidence. Where is yours?

        There is evidence of global climate change:
        http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
        http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/may/06/top-ten-global-warming-skeptic-arguments-debunked
        https://reason.com/archives/2015/04/03/what-evidence-would-persuade-you-that-ma

        I am more than happy to watch you dig yourself deeper. Please do show evidence that the evidence presented is wrong. Surely you can, right, SOM?

      • This has been the best laugh yet, SoM. Best line ever – coming from you – “just making it all up”. Oh, my. . imagine, falling for that. .

      • Club,

        Your sources are among those who are just making it all up.

        Being caught red handed cooking up data is irrefutable.

        Don’t you call people who have faith in make believe, religious?

        And Club, “change” is what climate does.

        So it is absolutely stupid to think climate change is some sort of oddity that needs mankind’s attention.

      • So, you do have evidence for your claims, right, that people are “caught red handed”? Still waiting. Or are you lying again, SOM, as you have before? Sometimes I do think you must be an atheist intent on making theists look bad.

        It’s great to see you unable to show any evidence at all, despite being asked to do so. What does this say about a Christian who makes unsupported accusations and when asked, cannot provide any evidence? No, I don’t call those who believe in lies religious, I consider them ignorant. I do consider people who intentionally tell false things about others to be liars. You fit that definition admirably, SOM.

        Climate does indeed change and changes with known causes. We can see that it does and we can see that it has changed faster with the advent of humanity and the burning of fossil fuels. Let me ask you, SOM, what happens when one releases carbon into the atmosphere, carbon that has been eliminated from the environment for millions of years? Oh yes, you don’t believe in millions of years. It’s wonderful to see that you are such a hypocrite to refer to science and ignore that it shows your bible to be completely wrong.

        it’s most curious that even companies who claimed that there was no anthropogenic climate change secretly acknowledged it? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-10/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-exxon-climate-change-probe

        Please do show where NOAA, the UN and scientists have been shown to have lied, SOM. Please do show that the evidence given is wrong. If you cannot, there is no reason to think you anything but a liar, bearing false witness and ignoring the bible which he claims is the truth. You are always welcome to show evidence. The fact you do not shows that there is little reason to believe you and to know that if someone claims that they are a Christian, this means nothing. Thank you for establishing that Christians are nothing special.

  3. Club,

    The stories about the climate crooks getting caught red-handed have been in the news for nearly a decade.

    I can’t be held responsible because you are a low information citizen.

    Also, there is no “consensus” in science.

    Something either is or isn’t.

    Something is either provable or not.

    The admission of “scientific consensus” is further proof that global warming is a hoax perpetrated on the gullible.

    • again, you have not shown any evidence. There is little reason to not consider you a liar. You made the claim, where is the evidence to support it? where is the evidence that NOAA, the UN and scientists have been shown to be wrong? Thank you so much for showing that Christians can be liars, SOM. You’ve done more for showing that Chrisitanity is worthless than many I’ve encountered.

      You have been given evidence to support global climate change. You cannot show it to be wrong. You try to avoid having to show evidence for your lies by claiming that I am a “low information citizen”. You, of course, can’t show that to be true either. You bear false witness again. What excuse will you offer your god for your lies? A few Hail Marys?

      There is scientific consensus: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ . Please do show that there isn’t. You’ve made the claim, support it. Consensus means that the evidence gathered by independent researchers agrees. Can you show that it doesn’t?

      All you have shown is that Silenceofmind makes claims he cannot support.

      Let me guess, you are also sure that Neil Armstrong et all didn’t land on the moon, right?

      Something is provable or not, I agree. So, since your god isn’t provable e.g. has evidence to support it, it must not exist, per your own words. Of course, you can provide evidence. Can you?

      Or are you lying again?

    • Its amazing that people, idiots like SOM, claim a conspiracy in a field, science, where the only way to notoriety and success is proving another incorrect…yet fully trust a field, theology, where the only path to success is agreeing with those before them but saying it in a more clever way.

  4. It would seem that your reason for subscribing to Smithsonian is similar to the reason religious people go to church; to have your faith affirmed. You’re convinced that Jesus is mythical and shame on the Smithsonian for publishing anything that opposes that view.

    • It seems you did not read my post, and made assumptions based on what you want to blindly accuse me of. No, John, I do not read the Smithsonian mag to have my “faith” affirmed. I have no faith, belief in things unseen just because I want to believe, but I do have trust, which is supported by evidence. The Smithsonian has had my trust because their articles have always had very good rearch and journalism. Despite the title, the article had no evidence for the character of Jesus Christ, son of God. One can see this because anything referring to this character had to invoke “may” or “might” with no evidence at all. This article claimed that the palace of Herod was mentioned in the gospel of John, and the layout of the building claimed as the palace matched the description; the gospel of John doesn’t mention Herod’s palace at all, only Pilates’ and doesn’t describe the palace at all. That is amazingly bad research to make such an erroneous claim. It’s also bad journalism to present the claims of theologians as true when their claims conflict with their holy books and the evidence.

      The problem I have with the Smithsonian publishing this article is that it is badly done. You would know this if you read my post.

      There is no evidence for Jesus Christ, son of God. But if you’d like to present what you think is evidence, please do so. Please do be aware that I am well read in Christian apologetics.

      • Right. Like I said, the Smithsonian deviated from the framework you deem appropriate, therefore the Smithsonian is wrong. There’s little point in presenting any evidence to someone who’s mind is closed to it.

      • No, not like you said at all. But thank you for trying to lie about what I posted. You are more than welcome to support your claims, John. the Smithsonian published an article that made claims that are not supported with facts. The article made ridiculously errors in what facts that they did pose. Or do you wish to claim that it’ perfectly fine to say that the Gospel of John mentions Herod’s palace and this supposed description matches an archaeology site, when the gospel doesn’t mention Herod at all, much less his palace and what it was like?

        I do enjoy your excuse why you can’t show any evidence to support your claims. Unfortunately that is also built on a lie because my mind is not closed to evidence at all. I will acknowledge it and if it is based on fact, I will acknowledge it. If it is not, then I will show why. Are you so afraid of that? Please do present this evidence. I will be waiting. If you cannot, then there is little reason to believe you have any and reason to assume that you know how weak the arguments presented by Christians and other theists are.

      • In the Gospel of John (18:28) it describes Jesus being taken to the Roman Governor’s house (some translations call it the Praetorium) which is also called Herod’s Palace. In chapter 19, verse 9 of the same book, there is a reference to Pilot going ‘…back inside the palace…’ after a conversation with the Jews.

        I think we can cut the Smithsonian a little slack.

        It took me awhile to find the offending quote. I wasn’t expecting it to be a caption under a photograph. I was expecting it to be one of the main themes in the article.

        I did take note of the author’s careful assertion that archaeologists are not digging to prove the biblical texts but to get a better understanding of first century Galilean life.

        After actually reading the article, I’m still of the opinion that you are unsettled by the fact that archaeological discoveries consistently line up with New Testament claims. While a solid, iron-clad ‘proof’ of Jesus existence has not been unearthed, it is not reasonable to claim that no evidence for Jesus exists at all.

      • Hmmm, now who is the Roman fellow in charge, John? Is it Pilate or Herod? The bible never claims that Pilate lives in Herod’s palace or that Herod lives with Pilate. Now, what we do have s actual archaeology, which is about herod’s palace and what is likely where Pilate did things:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod%27s_Palace_(Jerusalem)
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilate%27s_court

        I am curious which translations of the bible say “praetorium”. Please provide that information.

        Unsurprisingly, Christians can’t agree on where things are, just like they can’t agree on where the supposed tomb of Jesus is, etc. It could very well be that Pontius Pilate did exist in this building, though the evidence of Herod’s Palace doesn’t agree with what Josephus writes. We still have no evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ, only a description of a building. Now, if that is evidence, then Spider-man must be real since the stories about him have him living in New York City and Jack Ryan exists because he works in Washington DC, and Athena and Poseidon exist since they contested over getting the city now called Athens after them.

        Yes, as I noted in my article, it’s amazing what the article says, which is not what the various titles of the article say. Again, where do the archaeological finds line up with New Testament claims? We have the failure about the palace. We already know that the Romans cruxified people, we know that Jews had synagogues, we know that they bathed and they buried bones in ossuaries. There were things that held the Torah when one read it. We also have evidence that people worshipped many other gods, are the temples in Egypt evidence that Ra, Horus and the most holy Sekhmet exist?

        So which of the finds shows something in the NT? Nothing at all that has been found supports any of the claims of the NT. As always I am waiting for you to show evidence that it does. I know that there is no evidence at all, much less “solid iron clad” proof for Jesus Christ, son of God. There also is no evidence for Mohammed riding to Jerusalem on a magic pony and creating a footprint at the mosque on the temple mount, the Exodus, Quetzalcoatl visiting the Mayans, animals created as they are today, a magical mountain and earth covering flood, gods flying magical vehicles over India, the sky darkening for hours/major earthquake/walking dead on one day in a city, etc, and there is plenty of evidence of other things happening in their places. Shall we “cut some slack” for these claims too? So, yes, John, there is plenty of reason to claim that there is no evidnce for Jesus at all. I am still waiting for you to show this evidence you claim exists. Show me what you think is the strongest evidence for the existence of your Jesus Christ, son of God.

      • Being well read in Christian apologetics, you are doubtless familiar with any evidence I could present. It is your God-given right to reject any evidence presented.

        I’m curious why evidence is so crucial to you when your conversion to atheism was an emotional reaction to church people arguing. You didn’t fall out of faith for lack of evidence.

      • No, it is not one’s god given right to reject any evidence presented. If the evidence supports the claim, then it is silly to reject it. There is always the chance you have some actual evidence and not what Christian apologists claim. I am waiting for it if you have it.

        The actions of my church was only one of the reasons I lost my faith, which is stated in my essay about why I am an atheist. I would direct you to what I actually said “Each religion makes the same claims of “truth” as the next and none have the evidence to back their claims up. I realized that any good that occurred in the world was because of people, not some supernatural force.”

        Your claim “You didn’t fall out of faith for lack of evidence” is wrong. Evidence is crucial to existing. This is how humans know how to interact with reality.

        I’ll ask you again, show me what you think is the strongest evidence for your religion’s claims.

      • When I gave you an explanation on Herod’s Palace, you didn’t acknowledge it as a possibility. Instead, you unleashed a torrent of demands for more evidence. At least the apostle Thomas believed when he stuck his finger in the hole on Christ’s hand. You would continue to demand more evidence.

        When the police look for evidence at a murder scene, they don’t expect to find a photograph of the murderer with a gun in his hand. They’re going to find tiny clues. Maybe even an eyewitness. By your own admission, you have read volumes of evidence and remain unconvinced. You don’t really want me to give you evidence. You’re not really looking for answers. You are looking for a fight.

        There is no ‘strongest evidence’ for the historicity of Jesus. There is no photograph of the murderer at the crime scene. You have the God-given right to reject any evidence you’re presented. You have already rigorously exercised that right.

        So…here we go…

        Some of the compelling evidence for Jesus historicity is:
        1. Archaeological findings always support, never refute New Testament writing (people, places, things)
        2. Extra-biblical writings of authors outside Christianity.
        3. Jesus’ empty burial tomb.
        4. Disciples willingness to die for their cause.
        5. Jewish leaders formulation of a story that they attempted to spread as an alternate explanation for the resurrection.
        6. Joseph of Arimathea is unlikely to be a fiction designed by early Christians.
        7. References to women in positions of power or prestige throughout the Jesus narrative.
        8. Eyewitness accounts of postmortem encounters with Jesus recounted in multiple sources.
        9. The rapid rise of the Christian faith after the execution of Jesus.
        10. …articles in secular magazines like Smithsonian that do not demonstrate biblical text to be anything other than reliable accounts of actual history.

        Fire away!!

      • I didn’t acknowledge it as a possibility since there is no reason to do so. I also don’t acknowledge that it is a possibility that Santa Claus really does come down chimneys to deliver presents or that Mohammed rode on a magic pony to Jerusalem. Do you think those things are possible? Why or why not?

        There is no evidence for such things and no evidence for even somewhat similar things. You seem to confuse possibility with probability. There is a thing called Russell’s Teapot. It discusses the difference between the possible and the probable, and who has the burden of proof when making a claim. If one claims that there is a silver teapot in orbit around Jupiter, then one has to consider the possibility and probability of this occurrence. If there is no reason to believe the claim about the teapot e.g. there is no way for it to get there, etc, there is no reason to default to believing in it because you cannot prove it isn’t there. Is it possible for a teapot to be there? Yes, if one assumes that *anything* is possible, even if the possibility is vanishingly small. Is it probable that a teapot is there? No, because other occurrences preclude it, driving the probability down to essentially nothing.

        I’m glad you mentioned the apostle Thomas. So many Christians want to claim that how dare any non-Christian demand evidence and that their god should never be so tested, but they forget that their bible says its perfectly okay. According to the story, Thomas asked for evidence and got it immediately. Jesus didn’t say that he couldn’t have it or that he was damned if he asked. All JC said is that it’s better to believe without evidence but it’s okay to ask and he’ll give it with no problem. You’ve not shown any evidence all, John. All you’ve done is say something is evidence and it is not. There is nothing about the finding of something that may be Herod’s Palace that shows that any of the New Testament events happened. AS I have stated, if this is evidence, then Spider-man must be real since New York City is real and the gods of the ancient Egyptian pantheon must be as real as your god since we have temples, believers, etc. If you do not find this conclusion to be true, tell me why. Why should your claim be considered when they are no different from the claims of other religions, religions that you are sure are wrong?

        No, investigators at a murder scene do not expect to find a photo. Thanks for the strawman argument. They do find clues, tiny and large. They never go only by what an eyewitness claims, they always compare it to the clues. If things are contradictory, then further clues are sought. I have read volumes of claims made by Christian apologists, and volumes of claims made by other theists for their religions. Those aren’t evidence, those are claims; evidence is what supports the claims. For example, the bible is claimed to be “evidence” of the events in it. It is not. The bible is the claim and needs to be supported by evidence, external sources to support the claims within it e.g. physical objects, reports by contemporary sources, preferably primary sources, reports by hostile sources, etc. The bible has none of this. I want you to give me evidence, so you are trying to make false claims about me again. This is bearing false witness, John, in order to avoid supporting your claims.

        It is promising that you admit that there is no “strongest evidence” for the historicity of Jesus. There is not only no photograph of the murder, there is no dead body, no murder weapon, no motive, no eyewitnesses, no murderer, nothing. Again, no, no one has any god given rights at all (there being no evidence for god), especially to ignore evidence. No one get their own reality just because they really really want some nonsense to be true.

        Let’s look at your supposedly “compelling” evidence for a historical Jesus Christ. I am going with Jesus Christ, the son of God, no some itinerant rabbi, since that is not the entity you worship, is it?

        1. Archaeological findings do not always support the New Testament, or the Old Testament for that matter, and the one rests on the other as the supposed “truth”. There is no tomb that is agreed upon by Christians, which is a rather major part of the bible that is not confirmed at all. There is no evidence for the “massacre of the innocents”. Where is the sudden influx of children into tombs? There is no evidence for a grand temple in Jerusalem that was supposedly filled with tons of gold and expensive objects, including a curtain that supposedly tore during the cruxifiction that took at least a hundred men to carry it. There is no geological evidence of a major earthquake happening around Jerusalem at any point that Christians claim that Jesus existed, and the fact that they don’t’ agree is one more point against believing in the story. Now, you may give evidence that the archaeological record always supports the NT’s claims. I do like how you try to focuse on the NT because the claims of the OT are even less supported by archaeology.

        2. The extrabiblical writings about Christianity mention Christians and that they believed in Jesus Christ. If this is evidence, then as I have pointed out before, this would mean that the Egyptian gods are as real as yours since there are writings about believers and what they believed in. Do you agree with this? Why or why not? We also have writings about Jesus by people like Josephus, but he was writing second hand at best, and the most claimed writing of his about JC can be shown to be a forgery. If there is a certain writing you find compelling, please cite it.

        3. Ah, WLC’s usual claim. There is no tomb that can be agreed on, so there is no “empty” tomb to point to as “evidence”. If you can verify what tomb this is and tell me how you know, I would like to see that evidence.

        4. So, being willing to die for a cause is evidence that something is true? Then by your claim, Allah is the true god and Mohammed is his true prophet, Jim Jones was sent by God, and there really were aliens behind Comet Hale-Bopp. People die constantly for their beliefs and kill for them, witness the children murdered by their parents because of some idiotic belief. It does not make those beliefs true.

        5. There is nothing that shows that Jewish leaders did any such thing as invent a story to replace a story that is also baseless. There is a claim that they did in the bible, no where else. The bible does its best to demonize the Jews. Evidence is need to support the claim, John.

        6. There is no reason to think that Joseph of Arimathea is an unlikely character invented by Christians. He is called a disciple of Jesus by the author of the gospel of Matthew. Mark has him going right up to Pilate and asking for the body. Now, John claims that Joseph was a “secret” disciple, but that doesn’t match the other gospels, where this supposedly secret disciple went right up to Pilate and asked for the body, so much for the author of John’s claims. You need to tell me why Joseph is an unlikely character to be invented? Of course there is also the problem that the gospel of John claim that Joseph prepares the body and the others say it was the women. Both situations can’t happen.

        7. How does the references to women of power and prestige support that a man was the son of a god? Second, it’s known that women had businesses, that is a declaration of a known fact from many cultures. But you claim “power and prestige” something entirely different than women who had their own money and businesses. What verses have women with power and prestige? Evidence please John.

        8. There are no eyewitness accounts. That would be a primary source and we have none. What we have are stories written decades after the supposed events, stories that contradict each other (see the story of Joseph of Arimathea prepping the body). The stories of post-mortem encounters with JC contradict each other. Who saw JC first, John? Where did they see him and what did he say? It only takes a quick read of the gospels to know your claims to be untrue.

        9. A rapid rise of a religion means that a religion is true? Why then again Allah is god and Mohammed is his true prophet, praise be unto him. However, please do tell me what you consider a “rapid rise” to be, so we can be on the same page.

        10. Alas, articles in secular magazines don’t make your religion true, especially articles that have no evidence for your religion at all and must make the same claims of “may” and “might” just like are made for ancient aliens. Again, the bible is no more a reliable account of history than the Odyssey or the Iliad. Those mention real people and places too. Does this mean that Zeus and Athena are just as real as your god? Why or why not?

        I do hope you will answer my questions. From the evidence so far, I am fairly certain you will not.

      • John, yielding is the first step. Now try THINKING – really THINKING. Quite a few of us were where you are now. We’ve since been enlightened. Try it on. 🙂
        oh, and Happy New Year to both of you!!

      • As I thought, no answers and no evidence at all.

        If you yield to my arguments, this would mean that you now agree with what I have said. Is this true? Or are you saying something false in order to retreat?

      • Actually, looking back at the way this discussion has unfolded, I’m starting to believe I might be clairvoyant.

        And you are 10 for 10 when it comes to dismissing evidence presented. Not that anyone is keeping score…

        I submitted a reasonable explanation for the Smithsonian’s reference to Herod’s Palace. It was not intended to prove the existence of God, Jesus, Herod or Jerusalem. Just an explanation for the use of the term. And, as I predicted, you refused to acknowledge it.

        Exactly as I said when this whole ball got rolling…you are completely closed to any evidence or argument contrary to your atheist faith.

        I await your evidence to the contrary.

      • John, as I indicated in each one of your instances of supposed evidence, there is a reason that it fails. Just because you want me to accept it isn’t reason enough to do so blindly. It is telling that you cannot answer one of my questions about your supposed evidence. Why is it that you cannot defend what you have posted?

        You did not submit a reasonable explanation for the author’s mention of Herod’s palace in the article as being described in the Gospel of John. The gospel does no such thing, and you have indeed invented a excuse by wholesale claiming that the bible must have “really meant” something else than it stated. I do agree, it wasn’t for proving the existence of God or JEsus or Herod, or Jerusalem, since it fails amazingly well at that. You have tried to claim repeatedly that the NT is supported completely by archaeology, and this is why you tried to invent a reason why archaeology somehow supports the NT by perhaps finding it, though there is no description of the palace in the bible (the only description apparently is in other works).

        Again, you unfortunately must resort to making false claims about me again. I have considered your claims and found them wanting. Now it’s your turn to support your claims and rebut my position. However, it seems that you do not wish to do so and have refused to answer any of my questions.

      • There is no such thing as ‘supposed evidence’. Evidence is evidence. You then use your God-given right to either deem it convincing or unconvincing. You have deemed it unconvincing. As I predicted.

        I’m used to discussions like this because my father is mentally ill. Sometimes he calls the house to ask what time it is. He has a clock in front of him, but he doesn’t believe what it says. (Evidence isn’t credible). Of course, it’s possible that the clock is wrong so he calls me to double check. What he doesn’t realize is that MY clock might be wrong too. Or I might misread the clock. Or I might be lying to him for some nefarious reason…

      • There is ‘supposed evidence”. Supposed in this context means “questionably true” aka so-called, alleged. You claim that archaeology supports the NT without question, this is supposed evidence because you present the claim as evidence and that it is true. There is nothing to support this so-called evidence. Archaeology does not do as you claim “Archaeological findings always support, never refute New Testament writing (people, places, things)”

        Again, there is no God-given anything, since you cannot show that your god exists, or that anyone has the right to ignore facts when they are shown to be true. Your supposed evidence is unconvincing and this is why it is called “supposed evidence”. If you want your evidence to be convincing, you need to answer my questions and rebut my points. You have yet to do so, even when given opportunity.

        Such a lovely attempt at an insult, John. I am sorry your father is mentally ill. Being mentally ill is no laughing matter and it’s sad that you try to imply I am mentally ill because I have shown your claims to be false. Again, I’m waiting for you to answer my questions. The “clock” or your supposed evidence can be analyzed to determine the truth, that’s why one asks questions and points out facts that don’t jibe with the claim of supposed evidence. Take the bible for instance and let’s use your clock story. You have a clock/book in front of you and you claim that the time/story presented by it is correct. No other clock shows this time, but you say everyone else is wrong and cannot present any evidence to support your claim. You say that the real world supports your claim, but the sun isn’t up when you claim it is 12 noon at your location. You say that someone two thousand years ago said that your clock was accurate, but you don’t know who this person was or their motives. You claim that you’d die for this clock and what it says but that doesn’t make it true. You claim that since other people believe you and your clock, this means it is true and yet again that doesn’t make it true either.

        I am curious if you have indeed yielded to my superior intellect, then why are you still arguing? Or were you being untrue when you wrote those words?

      • I wasn’t suggesting that you are mentally ill, only that you behave in a similar fashion to my father who happens to be mentally ill.

        You have difficulty understanding what is implied by evidence offered. For example, when the book of John references the Praetorium or “governor’s headquarters” and those terms are synonymous with ‘Herod’s Palace’, that is a small part of John’s narrative being supported by archaeology. That’s all it is. Archaeology lines up with that tiny piece of scripture.

        The clock reading 12 noon is evidence for the correct time. The position of the sun is more evidence for the correct time. When the clock says 12 noon AND the sun is in the middle of the sky, then I say it’s Noon. That’s all. I’m making no claims about the date, the barometric pressure, the wind speed or anything else. Just the time.

        Your dogged atheistic faith won’t allow you to acknowledge ANY evidence that indicates biblical accuracy. The Bible mentions the town of Bethsaida which wasn’t discovered by archaeologists until 1987. People like yourself were quick to include the town as one of the many ‘myths’ perpetrated in scripture. Locating Bethsaida is evidence that the bible is true ABOUT THAT ONE THING. Suggesting that locating Bethsaida proves every bit of scripture is 100% true would make me mentally ill.

        Your refutations of presented evidence is accomplished by misinterpreting (intentionally or not) what the evidence demonstrates.

        I stated from the outset how this discussion would proceed because I’ve had these discussions many times. There is no evidence that you will accept for any theological claim. That is not the same as no evidence at all.

        You seem to think that you get to decide what counts as evidence and what doesn’t. But evidence isn’t made invalid when it’s misunderstood. It isn’t made invalid just because you don’t like what it implies.

        The Book of John mentions Herod’s Palace. The Smithsonian was right. You were wrong. It’s okay though. You could be right about Jesus being mythological…you just need to find some evidence for that claim.

      • John,

        Your credibility is in jeopardy here just by the one statement. “Your dogged atheist FAITH”. . .John, come on. That is a contradiction in terms, right there. FAITH is believing in things without evidence -that’s the definition. Do you see?? Atheist means “lack of belief in god(s)”.

        Your whole refutation on this thread has proven that you are doing what every theist does – BELIEVES in imaginary beings, then goes looking for ‘evidence’ to support that belief. As far as I – or anyone else – has ever known, there is NO evidence for ANY god(s). None. Nada. It’s just not there, John.

        As I suggested to you earlier, THINK.

      • I’m trying, Carmen!

        I’m not sure how I’ll muster up the skepticism that you guys have. I’m dependent on faith! It’s ingrained in me. Seriously! I’m a mess! I believe almost everything without evidence.

        I believe that numbers are infinite.
        I believe physics works the same in every part of the universe.
        I believe I was born, not hatched or assembled in a laboratory.
        I believe that everything that begins to exist has a cause.
        I believe that my conscious perceptions describe reality.

        And here’s the really hard one. I believe that intelligence only rises from intelligence.

        I don’t have evidence for ANY of this stuff! Do you see how lost I am?

      • Oh, John. My heart goes out to you, truly it does. You need to realize, however, that there are very powerful psychological reasons for people to believe in the supernatural – the very real and perfectly natural fear of death (Christianity holds out the ‘carrot’ that you’ll ‘live forever’), the innate yearning for a father figure, the need for answers to mind-boggling questions – and you are a human being. We make mistakes (mistakes, NOT commit sins) and need to be absolved of responsibility, we want to feel that we are being taken care of, we all want something that makes sense to us – no matter how bizarre the explanation. So please do not feel that you are a mess. Again, you are human. Just like the rest of us. It’s just that your cognitive dissonance is becoming too great and you are muddled and searching. It’s perfectly normal. Look, I’m 58 years old and spent a lifetime involved in church. It’s only been in the last 3 -4 years that I’ve come to the conclusion that religion is a very powerful, comforting myth. Read, John, read. That’s what I did. Find a community you can get support in, no matter how troubled you feel. There are many, many people who are going through the same thing you are, believe me. I’ve spent the last 3 years online reading story after story of ones exactly like yours. Honestly, you don’t sound any different to me than anyone else – we’re all looking for answers and bouncing ideas off each other.

        Welcome to the club, John. . 🙂

      • Reading is what got me into this mess in the first place. I’m ashamed to admit this, C.S. Lewis actually makes sense to me. Lee Strobel, Edgar Andrews and Gerald Schroeder have all messed with my head. Confused me with all sorts of philosophy and logic.

        How do you know which authors are reliable? Obviously, I can’t anyone who professes any sort of faith. Those guys are biased. Which atheists authors do you recommend and how can I know they are immune from personal prejudices?

      • I have found more information just reading people’s blogs, to tell the truth. I have a short attention span and that’s why blogs and/or videos (I especially like Christopher Hitchens and Mr. Diety) are much easier to handle.

      • I’m not expecting this to be easy to handle. Questions this big won’t have simple answers. I’m okay with any of ‘heavy stuff’ you can recommend.

        Anybody can write a blog. I can’t trust the religious whacko blogs because those are filled with faith claims. How am I supposed to know which blogs are trustworthy?

        I’ve read a lot of Christopher Hitchens. Read a lot of his brother, Peter, too. Peter is a Christian. That’s what confuses me. Again, how do I know which one is right?

      • I think, as Mister Deity explains in his latest video, it all comes down to evidence. Hard evidence, of which there is currently ZERO for the christian god – or any other god, really – as existing. There’s all kinds of speculation, but nothing to suggest that any of it is true. It’s a giant money machine, John . . there are many making bank off Je$u$.

        Try watching this one – only 15 minutes but this guy is pretty hard-hitting. (I hope you don’t mind me putting a link on, clubschadenfreude)

      • Not at all, Carmen. Thanks for keeping John busy while I was visiting the relatives in deepest darkest western Pennsylvania 🙂

        Mister Deity is great and I love Potholer54 for showing how creationists are so bad at the sciences.

      • Again, still waiting for you to rebut my points and provide evidence for your claims, John. Claiming you’ll do one thing and then not do it appears to be evidence you do intentionally lie.

      • Clubschadenfreude –
        You might want to go to the latest post on John’s blog. Methinks John is TRYING to figure this all out. Your responses are very challenging for him; he’s been in a certain mindset for a number of years. I have a feeling that in his ‘real life’, he’s surrounded by religious people who reinforce a lifetime of ‘ways of thinking and doing’ and then he reads a bit online and cognitive dissonance sets in. The bit I like about John is that he is at least TRYING.
        You’ve forced him to think, Club, and that is the first big step. 🙂

      • Ah, thanks. In that one, I will admit that I only see a Christian disagreeing with other Christians on what their god “wants” and then defending the actions of the rich Christians by excusing them because they may have introduced someone to Jesus Christ.

      • What I thought you might see is that he is confused and questioning; he’s genuinely wanting some direction. Not so different than many other intelligent people who’ve arrived at a certain point in their life when what they’ve believed for so long is now being scrutinized and found wanting. It’s a difficult thing for many to realize they’ve been duped by a myth that has no divine source. It takes awhile to create new neural pathways. . (my friend VIctoria Neuronotes can explain it much better).

      • The challenging part about providing you evidence is that you, as I’ve stated before, mistakenly believe that you are the final judge on what is evidence. It’s similar to the way my father thinks. When my dad finds the milk jug empty, he sometimes insists that someone came into his house and drank it. I quit trying to reason with him after he’s convinced he knows the truth.

      • One can trust the authors with evidence. Strobel, Lewis, Andrews and Schroeder have no evidence and no logic, at least none that cannot be applied to any god. What they present is arguments built for those who have an a priori belief in a god. Lewis goes so far to tell Christians not to tell possible converts that Christians don’t agree.

        To read for finding out the claims of religions are wrong? Read the bible, cover to cover, every word. Compare it to reality. The OT and NT make claims that should have evidence to support them, claiming huge events that affected the physical world. If this is true, why can’t anyone find this evidence? And, why is it that what they claim is evidence, can’t possibly work with the laws of physics as they are? Why are prophecies so vague and why do believers have to have an entire industry to make up excuses for why the bible fails in getting basic facts straight and its own stories straight? What happened at the tomb, John? Joe of Aramathea take care of the body or the women? Who saw JC first and where? What did the apostles do?

      • Numbers can be infinite, it can be shown by mathmatics. There is no reason to believe that physics doesn’t work the same in all parts of the universe. You very likely were born, because there is evidence that people aren’t hatched. There is also evidence that no supernatural beings can have sex with a woman and have a child.

        I do love the cute little bit of special pleading about your god. “everything that begins to exist” has to have a cause. So, evidence that your god didn’t need to begin to exist? And evidence that the laws of physics haven’t always existed? The same physics we have now have no problem explaining the universe we have and how it got that way. Alas, poor ol’ Jahweh is finding the gaps shrinking all of the time. Your conscious percepts don’t describe reality, just take some drugs with hallucinatory properties, get very cold or very hot and you aren’t perceiving reality. But reality doesn’t care. No matter what you believe, that ladle of molten steel will kill you quick if it is poured over you, prayer, spells, wishful thinking or not.

        I am quite glad to see you admit that you don’t have evidence for your most silly claim “I believe that intelligence only rises from intelligence”.. So, John, is your god not intelligent? Or did something intelligent make it?

      • I’m gonna say ‘No’ to your claim that physics works in undiscovered places in the universe. You have NO evidence for that. Unless you’re okay with making inferences from available data. Are you okay with inferences? I’m waiting…

        There’s no evidence that I was actually born. Surely you’re not suggesting I make an inference from available data! Are you good with inferences? I’m waiting…

        If we can’t infer, do you have hard evidence that you were born, Club? I mean, more than a mere document.Something irrefutable that you can offer me to prove beyond all doubt that you exited your mother’s womb. I’m waiting…

      • No one cares what you are “gonna say” without evidence. Astronomy shows that physics certainly seems to work in the universe the same as it does here. Light works the same way, stars are born and die just as predicted, planets form, gravity works in the same way, etc. Now, John, since you have made the claim that the laws of physics aren’t the same, what is your evidence? It seems your excuses are the same for the god that hides under a rock somewhere on Ceti Alpha 5: making up something that isn’t the god you worship or the universe we observe and insist it must be real since no one can show it isn’t. Again, one more Christian desperately reaching for Russell’s Teapot.

        Your existence now as a human being is evidence that you were born. Considering that there is no other way for a human to come into the world (and this may be a “yet” since we may some day have mechanical uteruses), there is no reason to assume you popped into existence or were delivered by a stork.

        People make inferences “conclusions from evidence and logic” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference with available data quite often. Now, I’m sure that you’ll try to claim that you’ve somehow inferred the existence of Jesus Christ or your god. As I have demonstrated, the claims of evidence you have made all fail for various reasons. Again, John, how can someone clam an empty tomb when there is no tomb to be found or any evidence that a certain tomb had something in it to vanish? False premises and a priori beliefs lead to false conclusions.

        Yes, you do have hard evidence that I was born. My mother, my father, my DNA. I have the same evidence for you. Now, I fully expect you to propose all sorts of conspiracies and other nonsense to excuse yourself from trusting this information.

      • There’s no evidence to believe I ‘popped into existence’ yet that’s exactly how all life started in the Universe, isn’t it?

        Forgive me and my muddled thinking, but am I mistaken? I know the theory that random chemistry over eons of time produced proteins which somehow turned into living organisms. We can quibble about the definition of ‘popped’ but at some point there was suddenly life in the universe where none existed before.

        And for the record, I don’t believe in Russell’s Teapot. I’m sure you already understand the fallacy of equivocating that teapot with the concept of God and were just being poetic when your referenced it.

      • That’s quite a way to make a strawman about how the universe may have begun or at least this iteration of it with ignorant simplicity. There is no evidence to believe you popped into existence since you are a human being and we do know how sex and procreation works. Do you need to be told about the birds and the bees? 🙂

        There is evidence that particles can “pop into existence” and this may be how the “big bang” happened. We don’t completely known yet and we may never know and that’s okay. It still doesn’t mean that magical beings exist, like your god. That you may not understand the concepts involved makes no difference, the science that supports these theories is what also supports you using computers, GPS systems, modern medical equipment like PET scanners, etc. Theists are often such hypocrites when they love to use the science that makes them comfy but attack that same science when it shows their beliefs to be nonsense. If you ‘d like to know about quantum mechanics, particles and the theories about the big bang, follow the links: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2012/10/quantum-foam-virtual-particles-and-other-curiosities/
        http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-powered-the-big-bang/
        http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_tests.html

        Yes, you are mistaken and there is no need to forgive “muddled thinking”. That can be cured by reading and analyzing your beliefs as compared with reality and not repeating ignorant tropes spread by theists who are ignorant of the sciences they attack.

        For example, chemistry is not “random”. It follows very specific laws. Theists, especially Christian creationists, try to claim that everything is random and anything can happen so they can attack evolutionary theory and support their beliefs that their god and its miracles can exist without any evidence at all. They claim a Dr. Seuss universe where anything can happen and that is simply not true. They depend on willful ignorance to support their false claims. Current research does indicate that chemicals can self-replicate, and that the chemicals that make up life were on earth very early one and could come from cometary impacts. If you are interested in actually learning about what evidence there is for abiogenesis and not some god making people from dirt, you can follow these links (the wiki article has many external links): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
        http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/

        No, I am not quibbling about the definition of “popped”, I am saying that you depend on ignorance and spreading the false claims of creationists to support your belief that some magical being exists and cares for you. You may not believe in the idea of Russell’s teapot but you invoke it every time you want to claim your god is hiding somewhere and that everyone has to believe in something because they cannot look under ever rock to show that your god doesn’t exist.

        I think you want “equating” rather than “equivocating” in your claims about the teapot and your god. What is this fallacy of comparing your god to a teapot when the claimants of both have no evidence for their god or their teapot at all? It’s always a tell when you want to claim that I somehow must understand some fallacy that you don’t just state outright. I was not being poetic at all. Your god has as much evidence as the teapot in space: none. a link to an article about the teapot: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Russell's_Teapot

        I can understand your reluctance to believe that Christians lie. I had a very hard time believing that too, since I was taught to equate honest behavior with Christians. That was a false belief too.

      • Of course, you’re right! I realize how ignorant I sounded. I forgot all about procreation!

        I used to think that all claims about the origins of the universe were faith claims but I see now that’s not true. You made several claims about the origins of the universe and you don’t possess faith. I am wrong again!

        To clarify, I didn’t mean to suggest that chemistry (or any aspect of science) is ‘random’. It’s very ordered. That’s my hangup. The beginning of the universe was a random, one time event. Some of the physicists that I’ve read (who aren’t theists) claim there’s too much ‘fine tuning’ for the universe to be the result of unguided chaos. Anthony Flew claimed to renounce his atheism for this reason. Of course it’s possible that Dr. Flew was just a kooky old man. Most of the atheists I’ve talked to figure that he just went senile.

        At the risk of showing my woeful ignorance once again, it seems that particles ‘popping into existence’ is one definition of magical. I know that’s silly because there’s nothing in the Universe except proven science and unproven science. (Not a faith claim. That’s a trust claim.)

        In my addled brain, I thought Russell’s Teapot was a weak analogy for the existence of God because God is an explanation for me being alive, sentient and curious about the universe. I want an explanation for why I’m here. Russell’s Teapot doesn’t explain anything so there’s no reason to suggest that it exists.

        I do hope I can convince you (though I have no evidence for this) that I believe Christians lie. That’s why I’m suspicious of the things people claim. Maybe, with practice, I’ll be able to reject theistic claims reflexively and accept secular claims unfettered by skepticism.

      • John, I have no idea if you are being serious or not. Generally you come across as an ignorant man who thinks he’s being terribly clever and sarcastic but still being unable to support his claims.

        I have no faith, belief in things that have no evidence to support them. I have trust in the results science has presented as evidence for the big bang, evolution etc. The reason I trust in such things is because the same science I trust for modern medicine, computers, cars, cell phones, GPS etc is the same science that supports the concepts of the big bang, evolutionary theory, quantum mechanics, etc. One cannot say one works and then say that the other doesn’t work just because it contradicts a dearly held belief that some god exists, you known exactly what it wants and that it cares for you and agrees with you.

        I do not believe you that you didn’t mean to suggest that chemistry was random. I think you meant exactly that since that is exactly what you wrote. I think that once I pointed out that your claim was wrong, you have changed your mind, which is a good thing.

        There is nothing to say that the beginning of the universe was, or was not, a random one time event. Humans have no idea if that is the case or not. So again, your claims are baseless and unsupported. Which physicists have said that there is “too much fine tuning” who aren’t theists, John? I do expect names.

        The claims of fine tuning are always amusing, to paraphrase someone “like a puddle claiming how wonderful that there is a hole just made for it and only it”. We are a result of the universe, our existence is not evidence that the universe was made *for* us.

        I had wondered of you’d try to run to Anthony Flew, who was a philosopher not a physicist. Flew became a deist, far from your Chrisitan god that is an existential being that has a “son” and offers salvation for people created from dirt who were talked to by a snake. It’s a lovely appeal to authority fallacy but I do not care at all what Anthony Flew became. Unfortuantely, there is the unfortunate story around Flew and how his words were possibly twisted by Christians who had less than good deeds planned: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Flew From what I have read, Flew became a deist, not a Christian and not an atheist. He may have had some memory problems but he seems to be quite sure what he was and Christians glom onto him just like they have tried to claim that other people have had deathbed conversions and have been shown liars on most, if not all, cases. It’s terribly sad, and not a little disgusting, that people must lie to support their beliefs.

        No, John, virtual particles coming into existence is not a definition of magical. It’s sad that you try to claim this but it’s not surprising. Again, links about the physics: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-virtual-particles-rea/
        I know you aren’t interested in reading such things for you wish to keep your belief, but perhaps someone else will stumble upon this set of comments. There may indeed be other things in the universe other than what humans have discovered or invented and what we will discover or invent, but until you can show evidence of such there is no reason to think that they exist. I am still waiting for evidence of your claims, John.

        Your argument against comparing your god with Russell’s Teapot appears to be that your god must exist since you exist. So, you should be able to show that no other god could have created you or that the laws of physics couldn’t have done the same thing. Can you? I’m waiting for your evidence. Your specific god doesn’t explain anything either, John. You just declare it exists without a reason why it exists, so it answers no questions. This is called special pleading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

        I have seen you make excuses for Christians, so I’m not quite sure I should believe you when you say you think Christians lie. Perhaps you can expand on this and explain this. You also seem to be trying to accuse me of ignoring the claims of theists “reflexively” which means without thought and consideration. I do not do that and it would not be a good thing for you to do either.

      • Gosh. I wasn’t the one who suggested procreation as the source of first life.

        “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

        There is NO evidence for complex life, like me, evolving from lower life forms. There is NO evidence life popped into existence from nothing. Believing these things requires faith. Call it trust if it makes you feel better. You don’t need evidence. You need to quit being stubborn.

        Your response to Anthony Flew is naive and completely misses the point. I know he became a deist. I know that is a long way from Christianity. It’s also a long way from ATHEISM.

        I’ve not made any claims about Christianity. Pearls before swine. When you’re unwilling to admit that there is a first cause behind the existence of the universe, there’s no reason to dialogue about the nature of that source.

        Herod’s Temple is mentioned in the Book of John. You need to deal with that before we can tackle deeper truths.

      • Hmmm. It seems you are excusing your action with citing the bible. That’s sad, but not unexpected, a lot of Christians excuse their unpleasant actions by citing the bible.

        There is plenty of evidence to show that humans evolved from lower life forms. Stomping your feet and using cap lock doesn’t make evidence go away. The fossil record: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil shows that life has gone from unicellular to multicellular, simple to complex. The idea of common descent: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_descent is supported through genetics. Again, your willful ignorance is the basis of your false claims that I have faith in such things. I have pointed this out to you repeatedly and you still return to your false claims. You are lying, John, intentionally repeating false claims about me and about science. I don’t have much respect for your religion but I do know that it does say that lying is a bad thing. I do not have faith, I have trust, and that trust is based on the fact that the same science that I benefit from is the same science supports the conclusion of the big bang and the theory of evolution. The laws of physics don’t randomly change just because you wish it did.

        Again, we do not have the information *yet* of how abiogenesis works. We may never know exactly and that’s fine. There is still nothing that shows that the Christian god and religion is true.

        Sorry, John, it isn’t a matter of being stubborn. It is a matter of standing up for the facts and knowing that you have no evidence to support your claims. I’m still waiting for you to show evidence for your claims.

        My response about Flew is not naïve at all. It is the facts about who he is and what he believed and ended up believing. The point is that he was an atheist and came to the conclusion that deism was a better fit for the evidence he saw. I disagree with that, and I know that there is no evidence for a deistic god just like there is no evidence for your god. You did not mention he became a deist and seem to have tried to present him as a physicist, “Some of the physicists that I’ve read (who aren’t theists) claim there’s too much ‘fine tuning’ for the universe to be the result of unguided chaos. Anthony Flew claimed to renounce his atheism for this reason. Of course it’s possible that Dr. Flew was just a kooky old man. Most of the atheists I’ve talked to figure that he just went senile.”

        so again, I do not have any reason to believe you when you claim you knew that he became a deist rather than a Christian or what his profession was. I’m still waiting for you to provide names of these physicists who “aren’t theists” that claim that there is “too much fine tuning in the universe to be the result of unguided chaos”. Again, there is no chaos, the laws of physics work quite well. Please also tell me how this fine tuning works when the vast majority of the earth and the universe is inimical to human life?

        Deism is a curious religion that theists have invented to get around showing any evidence for their gods and to avoid having any responsibility for the horrors that their religions have caused. A vague undefined god is convenient if one has no evidence. Some Christian apologists, like Karen Armstrong, Paul Tillich, etc have reinvented the Christian god as this vague concept, so they can get around the problem that there is no evidence for the existential being the Christian god as described in the bible.

        You have made claims about Christianity, and it’s quite amusing to see you quote the bible. You’ve made these claims on your own blog and here. One of your most recent posts is all about why the awful televangelists should be excused because they “lead” people to Jesus Christ despite their greed. You cite Christian apologists as supposed experts, like Lews, Strobel and Craig (still waiting to see why I should believe in a “empty tomb” if no tomb at all can be found). You have defended the NT as true and said this false claim “1. Archaeological findings always support, never refute New Testament writing (people, places, things)” among other false claims. So you seem to be lying again, when you say you haven’t made any claims about Christianity, when you made a whole list of them in this post: https://clubschadenfreude.com/2015/12/25/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-myth-fact-and-what-should-be-presented-in-a-magazine-about-science-and-history/#comment-8104 You refuse to answer questions I have posed to you. What exactly you are doing here, I’m still not quite certain.

        Again, I’m waiting for your evidence to support your claims. What is the evidence that there is a “first cause” to the universe? There is no reason at all to admit that there is a first cause when there isn’t evidence for one. You are again just stomping your feet and shrieking everyone must agree with you no matter what. I am more than willing to consider what evidence you have for this first cause, John, and that it your version of the Christian god. Now, as soon as you can show this to be true, then we have plenty of reason to discuss the nature of that source. Then we can discuss if the bible is an accurate portrayal of this “first cause”. We can see if there is evidence for the events this “first cause” supposedly made happen. We can also see if there is any reason to think that this “first cause” split itself into three entities which are one entity and required a third it to be killed tomake the other two parts forgive humanity for a problem it caused in the first place. We can look at the gospel of John and see if Herod’s palace is mentioned there and find that it isn’t, the author never wrote those words and it is John Brayan who wants to falsely claim that those words are there. I do love your new invented excuse why you can’t show any evidence. Poor thing, you now need me to completely agree with you before you can do that. Isn’t that terribly convenient? If your evidence is so wonderful, one might be curious on why it can’t take a little scrutiny?

        I will say, after reading over your blog, you certainly seem assured that your version of Christian god is the only right one. I do like when you attack the FFRF and don’t quite get the idea that your religion shouldn’t be supported by the US government. The FFRF has no problem with nativity scenes at churches and on private property. Oh well, a bit of false witnessing from you isn’t unexpected.

        Still waiting for your evidence for your claims, rebutals to my points and answers to my questions.

      • You’re stubbornly denying you’re being stubborn.

        You possess great faith. To insist that you don’t believe in God flies in the face of science: http://goo.gl/24B2rj so your world view, like every religion, necessitates faith. No cause for shame!

        Can you think of an example of something that exists without a cause? I can’t. It’s reasonable to conclude, from evidence, that the universe has a cause because everything in the universe has one.

        And it must be terribly frustrating having to invoke Christianity in order to scold me for lying. I understand why you do it. Atheism cannot speak on the subject of morality. I mean, if there is no God, why shouldn’t I lie to you?

      • John,

        I simply cannot believe you are peddling that line – ‘without (a) god there is no morality’. How disappointing. Also straight-up delusion on your part. 😦

      • Whether you tell me the truth or not has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether there’s a god or not, John. As you know. It’s your personal choice and – in this case – will have consequences that only matter to you. So go ahead, lie to me John. 🙂

        But don’t think I can’t see your dodge – you cannot FACE the deeper truth – that (your) god is imaginary.

      • You keep repeating that, John. That way you won’t have to address your own cognitive dissonance. I can assure you, however that it ISN’T going to go away. Your willful blindness is evident to everyone else on this thread.

        Actually, not everyone . . . it’s probably shared by one other person . . . 😉

      • It’s not a line.
        When you say there is no God, you have no way to define good or evil. Morality is relative. Accusing me of being delusional isn’t a reasonable rebuttal.

      • This is a great question!

        Truth is the reason religion and philosophy exist.

        Science can’t completely describe reality. Science can describe how to build an atomic bomb. It can’t say whether or not that bomb should be built.

        There isn’t a lot of moral disagreement among people (not just Christians). You and I probably agree about morality on the majority of topics. Disagreement crops up when people make personal preferences issues of morality (smoking, drinking, appropriate beach attire…).

        There is an invisible mechanism inside (most) human beings that makes us uncomfortable when we misbehave. Let’s call it a ‘conscience’. It’s odd when someone doesn’t seem to possess one. (We marvel at ‘remorseless’ criminals because we can’t understand how anyone can murder their family without feeling badly about it.)

        I don’t know that anyone has all truth. I think everyone has bits of truth including Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims and even Baptists. I rely on my conscience to detect correct behavior…(though I’m completely hypocritical about following my own).

        The only reason to “let your conscience be your guide” is if that conscience speaks truth.
        Would you agree?

      • Unsurprisingly, for claiming I’ve asked a great question “John, then you should be able to explain this. If your god is the font of morality, why do Christians disagree on what is moral? How do we tell who has the “truth”?” you can’t seem to answer it.

        The quest for truth is a reason that religion and philosophy exist. Neither have done much for showing that their claims are the truth. The claims of religion and philosophy are opinions and those opinions are informed by human experience. There is no evidence that there is some objective morality, as Christians and other theists would claim, especially since they cannot agree on their own morality and what their god/s want.

        The sciences do describe reality. It seems you may forget that sociology, anthropology, psychology are part of the sciences. You are just attempting the usual “non-overlapping magisterial” that theists hope will preserve their god in the gaps.

        You again try to tell falsehoods when you claims that there “isn’t a lot of moral disagreement among people (not just Christians). Let’s just look at what Christians disagree on: the rights of women, homosexuality, punishment of humans, is their god a trinity or not, how one is saved, etc. All of these are moral questions and Christians claim that their god will punish those who don’t get the answer “right”. We likely do agree on some moral questions, and that is because we are humans, not because that there is some magical being that is the font of objectivity. Human morals have shifted as we have evolved and our culture has changed. The claims of religion and absolute morality have always lagged behind, a great example is the bronze age nonsense you try to claim as god-given morality. I do
        find it highly amusing that you want to claim that what one wears to the beach is a moral issue. I suppose it can be but only if one believes that some ignorant agrarians had the right answer on how women should dress.

        There is no “invisible mechanism” inside any human beings. It’s great that you try to claim that its only inside “most”. There is a brain inside of all human beings (except perhaps those with ancephaly) that has evolved to be intelligent and to be aware of the ideas of ‘us vs them’, compassion and empathy. No god needed. The lack of this can be shown to be problems with the brain and its chemicals. No “soul” needed.

        There may be a conscience, but it’s a product of the brain, not some supernatural spook. Humans suffer when their brains are injured. If there were some supernatural part of humans, then this would not happen. You mention people killing their family. I would point out that quite a few of these killers cite God as the reason that they kill, because God told them too. Now you may argue that it couldn’t have been your god, but per your bible, this god has no problem in telling people to kill others, even their sons and families.

        You have repeatedly claimed on your blog that you know the truth and you sure have no problem in judging others. So, I have little reason to believe you when you say you don’t “know” that anyone has all of the truth. It seems to be words said to avoid being shown that you are wrong. You have yet to show that you think atheists or any other theist have any truth at all. You insist I am wrong and they wrong but when I ask for evidence, you refuse to provide any.

        I know you rely on your own conscience to detect “correct behavior”. You also create your god in your image and claim that it agrees with you and only you, again, evidence that there is no such thing as a supernatural objective font of morality. I also know you are a hypocrite, that is no surprise at all.

        There is no reason to think that one’s personal conscience has any more “truth” than anyone else’s. Your conscience has no more “truth” than mine, so no I don’t agree with you at all. Again, humans have created a group of rules that allow civilization to function. Still no god needed, still no need for a “savior”, no need for sadistic fantasies of hell, or sycophantic ideals of heaven.

      • Why John, you decided on being a coward and try to attack me on your blog. What good Christian Comedian! https://branyancomedy.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/what-a-fool-says/

        I do enjoy that you ignore your bible. “Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matthew 5. Thank you so much. TrueChristians do more to show their religion false than any atheist could ever do.

        Now, I am going to put a comment on your post. I wonder if you will allow it. Surely you would not be afraid of others seeing what you have written, correct?

      • I’ve responded to your post on my blog.

        There’s little reason to discuss the meaning of Matthew 5 with you since you’re convinced the entire Bible is superstitious nonsense.

        It doesn’t seem like quoting scripture is a good way to convince people that it’s false.

      • What you have done on your blog is try to falsely claim I am wrong and you would have never told me about how you “responded” to me. That took a friend of mine to notice that you were hiding.

        Again, nice excuse for not showing your evidence or being able to discuss anything. Matthew 5 points out that one should not call others a “fool”. Please do try to excuse your actions, my dear TrueChristian.

        I am not quoting scripture to convince people it is false. I am quoting scripture to show how hypocritical John Branyan is and why Christianity isn’t even followed by supposed TrueChristians when convenient for them.

      • Hmmm, how does Christian hypocrisy demonstrate that Christianity false? WEll, hypocrisy means “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do”. Christians do this, and they can’t even agree on what they tell other people what to do. WE also have the god of this religion that is also a hypocrite, murdering people and saying don’t murder, being murderously jealous and telling people not to be jealous, telling people not to lie and intentionally lying to people.

        This rampant hypocrisy shows that your god is at best impotent, at worst imaginary. For a god that constantly smote people for the most ridiculous things, this god of yours does nothing when horrible things are done by people claiming that this god approves.

        The hypocrisy of Christians is wonderful in the picking and choosing of what they want to claim is sin and isn’t sin. What they want to do isn’t sin but something that they don’t want others to do is sin. Again, no way to see which Christian is the TRUECHRISTIAN. This god of yours does nothing to show that one version is the “right” one.

        Since there is no objective morality that your god shows, the hypocrisy of Christian doing what ever they want and pointing to the bible is evidence that the claims of Christianity is false. Of course, we could postulate a moronic god, that can’t get its ideas through at all, that can do no miracles and can’t make itself known to anyone.

        Add to this that there is no evidence for your god, your savior, any of the essential events of the bible, there is no reason to believe any of it.

      • Apparently, anything short of complete uniformity in belief renders any worldview invalid. By your definition , there is no such thing as a TRUECHRISTIAN.

        There is no such thing as a TRUEDEMOCRAT, TRUEREPUBLICAN, TRUEBOYSCOUT or TRUEATHEIST or TRUECOMICBOOKFAN.

        Hypocrisy doesn’t disprove Christianity. Your argument fails. Before you tell me how ‘amusing’ I am, answer this question: Do you know any hypocritical atheists? Does their hypocrisy render atheism untrue?

        The evidence for ‘my God’ is still swirling all around you. It isn’t difficult to see. Your problem isn’t an intellectual one. Your problem is pride.

      • Nice strawman argument again, John. Again, still waiting for you to show that your god is as claimed in the bible, unchangeable, and the font of objective morality you have claimed.

        Please do show that there is one true version of Christianity, which would be this objective font of morality. That’s what you claim exists so I’m still waiting for your evidence. If Christians don’t agree on what is moral, and can’t show that their god exists and has an objective morality, there is no reason to think that any Christian is any more correct than the next Christian or next theist.

        It’s quite amusing to see you try to compare Christians who claim an objective font of morality to Democrats, Republicans, Boy Scouts, atheist and comic book fans. Hmmmm, so where do these groups try to claim that some magical omnipotent, omniscient being supports their claims of what is objective morality (I supposed some of the folks in the Boy Scouts did try this with their fear of homosexuality)? Let’s see, atheism is based on one idea, there are no god/gods. So, as long as this is true about someone, one could have true atheist with no problem. We all know that atheists differ wildly on their opinions about politics, conspiracy theories, etc. You are quite right that democrats, republicans, boy scouts, and comic book fans aren’t the same. I never said that they were and again, no claims of objective definitions of what they are defined by some magical being.

        I also always enjoy when you try to say I’m wrong but again nothing to support that claim. Show me how my argument fails, John. Surely you can, right? Or are you just gainsaying me and have nothing as usual? You ask if I know any hypocritical atheists. How would an atheist be hypocritical since what defines being an atheist is coming to the conclusion that there are not god/s? It seems that the only way to be a hypocritical atheist is to worship a god but saying that they don’t. So, no, John, I don’t know any hypocritical atheists; a person who worships a god isn’t an atheist. The term atheist means one thing. Now, if you want to say do I know any atheists who are hypocritical in what they advocate and in what they do e.g. morally, politically, etc, a completely different question, I can answer that I certainly know folks like that. It has nothing to do with their atheism. The hypocrisy of Christians has everything to do with their Christianity since they can’t agree on their versions of Christianity. Still waiting for evidence for your objective font of morality.

        You make this claim again “The evidence for ‘my God’ is still swirling all around you. It isn’t difficult to see. Your problem isn’t an intellectual one. Your problem is pride.” Most, if not all, religions make this claim and surprise, they can’t show that their claim is true either. If a Hindu says that it isn’t difficult to see the evidence for their gods, why do you disbelieve, John? Per your own argument, it’s right there. It’s just pride that makes you not see that Vishnu created this world, John. Anyone can make vague claims that one just has to look around and see their god, and insist that the reason you won’t worship a god is because you are too prideful. Showing evidence that these claims are true, that’s the problem for theists.

        I am still waiting.

      • A response is not a rebuttal.

        You aren’t addressing the original question. It will be quite impossible to cover a barrage of accusations simultaneously. We should settle the hypocrisy issue first. I’ll ask my question in another way.

        For illustration purposes, let’s say my religion teaches that it’s wrong to throw kittens off rooftops. One afternoon, several members of the press wander past my house and notice a small pile of wounded kittens in my front lawn. The authorities are called. I’m arrested (because it turns out that cruelty to animals is not just part of my religion) and after hours of sweating under a hot lamp, confess that I have indeed been throwing kittens off my roof.

        What affect does my conviction have on the law? Is the principal still true even though I didn’t follow it? If several people disagree about chucking kittens, does that nullify the law? If there is disagreement about the height of the rooftop should the whole law be discarded?

      • Again, you are correct, a response doesn’t necessarily act as a rebuttal. However, I have indeed rebutted your points and claims. Just because you don’t want to acknowledge my rebuttal doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
        I have answered all of your questions, so I don’t know which you are trying to claim is the “original question”. It seems that, unsurprisingly, you are trying to ignore all of the questions you’ve asked that have failed to get the answers you desperately need.

        Again, I am waiting for you to show that your version of Christianity is the one true version. Your story about the kittens is quite bizarre. Let’s see if I can make any sense of it. You have postulated that your religion says that one should not do “something” considered harmful and illegal to society’s law. Evidence that this “something” was done on your property. Now, you say “I’m arrested (because it turns out that cruelty to animals is not just part of my religion)” which indicates that this “something” (cruelty) is part of your religion and that you apparently practice it (“is not *just* part”). I doubt if you meant this but it’s really odd that you typed it. Regardless of the “hot lam”, you confess that you are guilty and apparently are, if the above noted weird sentence is correct.

        What does any of this have to do with the hypocrisy of Christians and how this impacts on the validity of Christianity? Your questions don’t make any sense since your initial story makes no sense, is the cruelty part of your religion or not? Now, I’ll assume that you meant that your religion says one thing and you do another and society’s law happens to agree with one tenant of your religion and can punish you for breaking the laws. Your breaking of the law and punishment has no effect (not affect) on the law. The punishment of cruelty can be valid and have nothing to do with your religion or its validity, especially since this idea is solely from your religion. Society’s laws are built on consensus so laws can be nullfied if the consensus finds the law wrong i.e. the ending of laws like segregation, slavery, etc.

        Another point I’d make is that if your god were real, it’d be quite the hypocrite itself. The bible has one fairly decent part, where it says what love is. And this god fails it at every word. This god murders people left and right and than supposedly says that one should not. It says not to worship money but demands literal tons of gold, silver and the most expensive things that the authors of the bible knew. This god says that one should never resist evil and…hmmm, well, it doesn’t resist evil does it? It intentionally allows evil to be in the “garden”, it wagers with satan, and it intentionally allows Satan to murder faithful believers for no reason whatsoever other than apparently to get its jollies from more blood.

        It’s most curious that you want to claim that the major differences in the various versions of Christianity are just “the height of the roof”. What a classic attempt to dismiss the differences as minor and not important. Again, John, the hells of each version have plenty of those “others” in them. Eternal torture is a bit more important than the height of the roof. It’s wonderful fun to watch you try to ignore the fact that Christians don’t agree and this god of yours does nothing to show which of you TrueChristians are correct. If these differences are so minor, it is amazingly disgusting and stupid of Christians to have murdered each other over them and of your god to do nothing about that at all, just letting the murder, misery and sorrow continue for no reason whatsoever unless again, it gets its jollies from it, or it doesn’t exist at all.

        I can understand why you wish to minimize the differences. All of those differences damage the myth that there is one god that has one morality and is the only creator of the universe and is omnipotent/omniscience and supposedly omnibenevolent. If one discrepancy is shown to be ridiculous, most if not all of the others can be and since none of you can show you have the one true religion, that is a problem. If this god can’t get its one true message through, then there is no god as claimed by you.

        You sure are great with strawman arguments. Still waiting for evidence for your objective font of morality.

      • I am of course waiting for your “correct” interpretation of Matthew 5. Is it that JC is only talking about his disciples and what he says in the bible only applies to believers talking about believers?

      • It doesn’t matter what JC says if he’s fictional. We might as well talk about what Thor says in the current issue of that comic book.

      • Well, John, it seems you’ve become an atheist, since it is your argument that you won’t discuss what JC says since JC is fictional.

        It’s hilarious to watch you declare you won’t discuss the words of your supposed savior since he is fictional. I have no problem in discussion JC no matter if he’s fictional or not. But you seem to have dredged up that excuse so you don’t have to answer any of my questions. Hmm, I do wonder if I hear a cock crowing somewhere. It is a shame that you are that afraid of a discussion and supporting your claims.

        again, I am of course waiting for your “correct” interpretation of Matthew 5. Is it that JC is only talking about his disciples and what he says in the bible only applies to believers talking about believers?

      • You should stick to lecturing me on the theological implications of Marvel comics. It suits you much better than actual Philosophy.

      • again, I am of course waiting for your “correct” interpretation of Matthew 5. Is it that JC is only talking about his disciples and what he says in the bible only applies to believers talking about believers?

        Or is Jesus just a fictional character that you can’t bother discussion what he meant? “It doesn’t matter what JC says if he’s fictional. We might as well talk about what Thor says in the current issue of that comic book.”https://clubschadenfreude.com/2015/12/25/not-so-polite-dinner-conversation-myth-fact-and-what-should-be-presented-in-a-magazine-about-science-and-history/#comment-8261

      • You are the one believing Jesus to be fictional. I can’t understand why you care about the meaning of His words except when they’re useful for hurling at Christians. How many times do I have to say this?

        Your position is that the words of Thor and Jesus are equal. This, in my opinion, is childish. I’m not going to discuss Matthew 5 with you for the same reason I don’t discuss it with my granddaughter. On the subject of religious philosophy, you’re both 4 years old.

        I’m willing to dialogue but before we can talk about deep subjects you’re going to have to put away your coloring books.

      • I do indeed know that Jesus Christ, son of God, is fictional. There is no evidence for his existence. The bible, the book that claims to be true, cannot agree on what the story is. Christians do not agree on the story, have somehow lost the most important site to their religion and disagree on what this god wants or approves of. You have claimed “It doesn’t matter what JC says if he’s fictional. We might as well talk about what Thor says in the current issue of that comic book.” And then have proceeded to refuse to discuss what Jesus supposedly said. So, it certainly seems that you find Jesus to be fictional since your excuse for not discussing what JC has supposedly said is that JC is fictional.

        It does not surprise me that you are trying the tedious ol’ TrueChristian claim that no one should talk about their religion if they don’t believe in it. I talk about your religon, and your version and every other Christian’s version, because you cause harm with those claims that you and only you are right. This is why I also talk about Islam and Judaism and Wicca and every other religion that makes false claims and insists that its nonsense is “objective morality” and tries to force it on everyone. I do not care if you whine and whine about why I shouldn’t ask you to explain what Matthew 5 really means when you claim that I don’t have it right. You want to make claims and then not be responsible enough to support them. I have no problem in pointing out your attempts to dodge, like this one “There’s little reason to discuss the meaning of Matthew 5 with you since you’re convinced the entire Bible is superstitious nonsense.” I find JC’s admonition to not call people names a humane idea. Why are you so angry that I have pointed it out to you, he who ignores his bible to call me names that his supposed savior said was a bad thing to do?

        No one cares what you want to call childish, John. That’s your opinion and you are welcome to it. What you need to do is show that the words of Jesus and Beta Ray Bill (not Thor) aren’t equal. They are from fictional characters. They are declarations of morality. They are read by humans and they are taken with various levels of belief and interest. Now it’s your turn to show how they aren’t equal.

        Tsk, more personal attacks and an outright lie. Sorry, John, I am quite a bit older than 4 years old. But thanks again for having nothing left other than personal attacks and still no evidence for your claims. All I have from you is figurative foot-stamping. I have provided much discussion about religions and philosophy and all you have contributed so far is questions, refusals to answer my questions, lies and personal attacks. I am still waiting for your evidence for your claims and rebuttals to my points. When I answer a question and you don’t agree with the answer, it’s your turn to show me how I’m wrong, with evidence. There is no evidence you are interested in dialogue because that requires you to answer my questions, John, and present evidence for your claims. The questions are there, but still no answers from you (so, do you find genocide moral or not?). I’m still waiting for your evidence.

      • Again, I am not being stubborn. Reality matches what I have pointed out. If you wish claim that reality is stubborn, please do so.

        I do not possess faith, but I know you really wish I did because this would make my points just as baseless as your claims. That is quite an article you linked to. Not one link to the actual studies and lots of unsupported claims in it. Let’s look at one of these claims “In the United States, 38% of people who identified themselves as atheist or agnostic went on to claim to believe in a God or a Higher Power”. The problem is that this is not what the study actually says: “However, there are stark differences in this regard between the unaffiliated who identify themselves as atheist or agnostic and those who describe their religion as “nothing in particular.” Among the “nothing in particulars,” about eight-in-ten (81%) say they believe in God or a universal spirit – and a plurality of those who believe in God say they are “absolutely certain” about this belief. In addition, about four-in-ten atheists and agnostics (including 14% of atheists and 56% of agnostics) say they believe in God or a universal spirit.” As one can see, the actual story is that 14% of atheists who participated in the survey may believe in a god or a universal spirit. There is no definition of this “universal spirit” given nor is it split out to who selected god and who selected universal spirit.

        The article does go on to say that humans are wired for belief, but it says nowhere that this predisposition is unable to be ignored. It’s great to see you intentionally misrepresent the article. It is no surprise, since Christians do this constantly when making claims about creationism.

        The article is just great in also misrepresenting information. This is probably one of the best claims “While the UK is often defined as an irreligious place, a recent survey by Theos, a think tank, found that very few people—only 13 per cent of adults—agreed with the statement “humans are purely material beings with no spiritual element”. For the vast majority of us, unseen realities are very present.” Theos is an group created by the Anglican Church, and the author of the article does do his best to claim that since people believe in spiritual elements these elements simply must exist. It’s quite an appeal to popularity, with not one bit of evidence that these gods and spiritual claims are true. Of course, this quote is up there for utter nonsense “In war situations, commanders frequently comment that atheist soldiers pray far more than they think they do.” Hmmm, where is the evidence for this, John, or is it just made up by a theist who is writing for a website that has no peer review, and nothing more required than registering to be able to write an article. Shucks, why should I doubt something that is nothing more than a vanity press?

        It’s no surprise that the author must run to Einstein.who was not an atheist and not a Christian at all “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive. However, I am also not a “Freethinker” in the usual sense of the word because I find that this is in the main an attitude nourished exclusively by an opposition against naive superstition. My feeling is insofar religious as I am imbued with the consciousness of the insuffiency of the human mind to understand deeply the harmony of the Universe which we try to formulate as “laws of nature.” It is this consciousness and humility I miss in the Freethinker mentality. Sincerely yours, Albert Einstein. “

        Nice try, but you still have nothing, and you have shown you have no problem in trying to lie to others. Again, my world view does not necessitate faith, that’s a claim made by that opinion piece presented as an actual scientific article. Humans may have a tendency to believe in the imaginary but that does not mean we must or the universe depends on it.
        Ah, here we go with the first cause argument. I’m glad you can’t think of anything without a cause, since that means your god evidently must have one, right? Or are you going to try to use special pleading to excuse that imaginary entity? Now, we can go the first cause route but that only gets us to *something* that wasn’t caused. It could be just the laws of physics.

        Now, I’m still waiting for you to show it’s your version of the Christians god and show that it can’t be anything else.

        I invoke Christianity because you claim you are a Christian, and your actions certainly are Christian in all the bad and good that encompasses. I always enjoy seeing Christians insist that they would be liars if they weren’t Christians. It’s a shame since I have no need to lie and no need to have a carrot and a stick not to lie. Atheism cannot speak to the idea of morality, since it only concerns the idea if there is a god/s or not. However, reality again shows your claims to be false since people for all time have been honest and humane without knowing about Christianity at all. Atheists, polytheists, other types of monotheists, agnostics, pantheists, all can be moral since morality isn’t dependent on a magical being. It is sad that so many theists invents gods in their image to play pretend that some magical omnipotent being agrees with them and only them.

        Why shouldn’t you lie to me? Well, that isn’t hard at all. You shouldn’t want to hurt me. Lies almost always cause harm. The only time I can think of a reason to lie is to save a life. Empathy, compassion, those are reasons me not to lie. If you don’t have that, I suppose I do hope you keep your religion if that’s all keeping you from being an amoral monster.

      • On what basis does an atheist decide what is empathy and compassion? What prevents an atheist from being an amoral monster?

      • It’d be nice if you answered my questions as you expect me to answer yours. But questions are all you have John, since you refuse to answer questions.

        It’s rather easy to decide what empathy and compassion is because I would wish the same afforded to me. I think we can agree on the definition of empathy ” the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this”
        and compassion “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”

        Please do tell me if you disagree and why.

        I keep myself from being an amoral monster. Civilization has come up with laws that help civilization exist and deter people from being amoral monsters.

      • I agree with everything in your definition of empathy.

        I agree that you keep yourself from being an amoral monster.

        My reflexes are telling me to ask a question but I’m going to ignore them momentarily…

        Laws are not morality. Fear of punishment is a deterrent to breaking laws but it is not the reason most people are law-abiding. Some laws SHOULD be broken because they are immoral themselves. So Civilization or laws does not determine what’s right and wrong. Laws reflect what a culture already believes to be correct behavior. So there is a higher authority. There is a higher truth to which we must appeal. That’s why I asked on what basis an atheist decides right and wrong.

      • Why aren’t laws morality, John? They aren’t literally, of course, but they are the expression of morality. You appear to wish to claim a false dichotomy because you want to pretend that your supposed god and its supposedly being a source of objective morality. That fails if laws and morality are simply human inventions.

        Your bible itself says that there are laws because they state the morals that this god supposedly approves of; remember those lovely commandments, the law of your god? If one is to believe the bible, these laws are put into place by this god, via itself and in all of the governments that ever existed because this god puts them all into place, to enforce morality. Per your bible, no laws should be broken ( JC says this when he says that the law is still in place until earth ad heaven pass away and Paul says this in Romans 13); Christians often fail to remember these verses when convenient.

        It’s always very curious when a theist like you tries to capitalize words that don’t need capitalized at all. I always wonder the psychological processes behind that. Civilization and laws do determine what is right and wrong. There is no evidence for your god existing, much less being an objective font of morality. I am still waiting for evidence of your “higher authority”. Christians do not show this exists because, again, Christians do not agree on what this god finds moral and not moral.

        If morality comes from your magical source and is supposedly objective and unchangeable, then why has morality changed over time? This would indicate that there is no objective source at all, and that humans just muddle along. Or we can go with a non-omniscient, non-omnibenevolent, non-omnipotent entity to explain how your “god” changes its mind or just can’t get its concepts through to humans at all, nothing new, just one more Bronze/Iron Age god that humans have invented.

        We have your god starting out having no problem with treating people like property, genocide, wanting gold and expensive things just like any human warlord, supposedly constantly interfering. Then, despite claims on how different the NT is, we still have commands that god needs money (to the point of murdering people for it), interfering like always (no genocide since Rome was in power, and no magical armies of 100s of thousands), and slavery and treating women as owned things is still completely okay. And ever since these words were written, Christians have been trying to reinterpret them or ignore them to bring their supposed holy books into line with modern morality. I suppose you could be one of those who things the bible is correct as written and approve of slavery, genocide, etc but I suspect not.

        There are some decent bits in the NT (all around long before 1 CE in other cultures) but there are also some in the OT. The rest of humanity went along changing its morals, but the books written by unknown early Christians (and Arabic merchants, princes and others) don’t change in what they advocate. Again, the theists, including Christians, try to “reinterpret” parts of them and ignore other parts that are simply irredeemable, in favor of modern morals, whatever they are at the time. Again, morals advance and religion is stuck with what they claimed as the TRUTH last decade, last generation, last millennia. So we get either that they claim that they knew that their book meant the new moral landscape “all along”, or that how sinful everyone is for ignoring their version of whatever the last claim of “truth” was. Those last folks are usually on street corners screaming since no one is paying attention to them anymore.

        Humans have human invented morals based on our empathy and compassion. That’s why they are incomplete, subjective and changing and that’s why they are often similar; we’re all humans. No god/s aka “higher authority” needed. As always, you can show what evidence you have that your version of the Christian god exists and should be considered the ultimate arbiter of morality. You could also tell us what this ultimate morality is. It will be considered and analyzed. I will be pleasantly surprised if you actually do this. I suspect you will not.

      • I don’t believe you for a moment that you weren’t trying to imply I was mentally ill. Trying to claim that I act like something is mentally ill is trying to implh that I am. Howver, that lovely little bit of your words is between you and your supposed god. I’m more than happy to watch you act the way you do and say the things you say.

        I have no difficulty at all in understanding what is implied by evidence offered. The Gospel of John refers to the governor’s palace, and the term is not synonymous to Herod’s palace. There are some theories that they may have been part of the same group of buildings but that has not been established. YOu would know this if you had read the wiki entry on Herod’s palace. The archaeology we have about what people think is Herod’s palace is that it does not match up with what Josephus has claimed about it nor what the bible has claimed about it. No monstrous cut stones, etc. Again, there most likely was a place were Herod lived and a place where Pilate lived. We have no evidence it was the same place, as you claim. So your claim that archaeology matches everything in the NT isn’t true nor is it impressive that there were people and buildings in Jerusalem. If this is evidence for your god, then it’s evidence that Spider-man lives in New York City and that the gods of ancient Egypt are just as real as your god.

        The clock point to twelve noon and no sun in the sky isn’t evidence for the same thing, as I wrote. Thanks for misreading my post and then misrepresenting it. I’ll post it again

        “The “clock” or your supposed evidence can be analyzed to determine the truth, that’s why one asks questions and points out facts that don’t jibe with the claim of supposed evidence. Take the bible for instance and let’s use your clock story. You have a clock/book in front of you and you claim that the time/story presented by it is correct. No other clock shows this time, but you say everyone else is wrong and cannot present any evidence to support your claim. You say that the real world supports your claim, but the sun isn’t up when you claim it is 12 noon at your location. You say that someone two thousand years ago said that your clock was accurate, but you don’t know who this person was or their motives. You claim that you’d die for this clock and what it says but that doesn’t make it true. You claim that since other people believe you and your clock, this means it is true and yet again that doesn’t make it true either.”

        As I have pointed out, your “clock” aka the bible has nothing to support it, and there is no reason to think it is telling the right time with no evidence to support it. I agree, if the clock is pointing to 12, and the sun is directly above your position, it’s evidence for the clock being right. Now, what do we have to show that the bible is right? Nothing. No evidence of the essential events in the bible, no archaeology to support those, no contemporary accounts to agree, no hostile accounts and what we do have is evidence that entirely different events happened in stead of what your bible claims,, not to mention your own bible not being able to get the same story straight and making ridiculous contradictions in it.

        I have no faith, John. I have trust in what the evidence says and it indicates that the claims of the bible and its believers are wrong. As for your claim about Bethsaida, it’s true that the bible mentioned it. It mentioned Nineveh too, which also was thought to not to have existed. And archaeology found Troy which was also thought to be myth; so does that mean Zeus and Athena are just as real as your god?

        Well, JOhn, you said this “1. Archaeological findings always support, never refute New Testament writing (people, places, things)” So, it seems that you have said that archaeology findings a 100% of the time aka always support and never refute NT writings (people places and things), so are you mentally ill? It seems that you are desperately trying to walk back this claim when you now want to claim that it’s only Bethsaida that you were talking about: “Suggesting that locating Bethsaida proves every bit of scripture is 100% true would make me mentally ill.”

        I’m still waiting for you to actually show my refutations of supposed evidence wrong. You still continue to make baseless claims and showing that you have nothing to support your claims. Show how I’ve supposed misinterpreted what the evidence supposed demonstrates. I’m waiting.

        Nice to see ou falsely claim prophet powers. I wonder, should I demand you are stoned to death since you’ve failed? Theological claims are just that, claims. and you discount the claims of other religions for the same reasons I discount yours: you have no evidence. It’s always cute to watch you do your best to not answer one of my questions, especially about why you don’t believe in the claims other religions.

        I don’t get to decide what is evidence. That’s already been determined by humans long dead. I look at claims and then the facts. IF those who make claims have no facts to support them, then there is no reason to believe them. Just like you don’t believe in Allah or Tezcatlipoca or the wicca Goddess.

        The Book of John doesn’t mention Herod’s palace at all. Here’s a link to John 18 (AKJV, but you can check on quite a few other translations) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+18%3A28-40&version=AKJV now, show me where it says Herod’s palace. I’m waiting. Surely if it says it, you can just cut and paste and show me, right, John?

        I believe that Jesus Christ is a legend. I suppose you could also say that I would need to find evidence that Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, Paul Buynan and Pecos Bill all really existed. The problem is no one is claiming a tomb for Babe the Big Blue Ox. Since Christians cannot find the tomb, show that it was ever full, much less magically empty, cannot show that there was any miracles, OT or NT, no world-wide flood, no massive earthquake/daytime sky dark for hours/dead patriarchs hanging out with JEws in Jerusalem, I think I’m pretty safe in being sure that there was no god/man who existed as the bible describes. There could have indeed been a man who thought he was the messiah, but that isn’t who you worship is it? There’s no evidence for that character.

      • Using words isn’t a bad thing, John, just like thinking isn’t a bad thing. Theists often make this claim, and there is a reason for it: anyone can use a few words to make up things and refuse to answer questions. It takes a lot of words to address complex subjects and present evidence.

        Still waiting for you to rebut my points and answer my questions.

      • John, if a noted magazine on science and history had an article in it about how there was evidence that Mohammed was the true prophet and may have ridden Jerusalem on a magic horse and may have dictation from an angel, or posted that there was evidence that there was evidence that Joseph Smith was telling the truth right from god and there may be a planet for every Mormon male to own, or that there was evidence that there were aliens on earth and that Queen Elizabeth 2 may be one of them, would you question the that magazine and its motives? Or is it that since it is speaking about Christianity, your skepticism goes out the window since you evidently have your self-worth invested in believing these religious stories are true?

  5. John, I just saw this on another blog and you popped into my brain as soon as I read it –

    “Coming to terms with reality is a long and winding road for those who travel it. It takes time to sort through things in your head. It takes some doing, it takes work. For those willing to do the work, and follow that work to its inevitable conclusion, it takes courage.

    I salute you for travelling the road.

    May your roads be easygoing in the new year.”

    So you see that there are people who will always give you comfort and encouragement, John. There’s a huge community of people exactly like you online. They have experienced what you are going through and it has been every bit as painful for them. You will find many of their stories affirming and I am hoping you won’t feel so ‘messed up’. Do reach out; you’ll feel so much better.

    Besides, you’re worth it. 🙂

  6. Skepticism is the single best tool of separating fiction from reality. While not every atheist uses that tool, it is assured that every theist has left that tool in the box, untouched.

    • Again, show me where, John Brayan. This article, from a site run by the Assemblies of God. There are claims that the palace of herod exists, and unsurprisingly the quote from Josephus is quite chopped up. The full text is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod%27s_Palace_(Jerusalem)#Josephus.E2.80.99_description and what has been found in Jerusalem isn’t quite what Josephus claimed.

      Now, the article says this “Mark parenthetically identified the praetorium as “the palace” (Mark 15:16; cf. Acts 23:35).” And here is the verse “16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers.” The author of the article also mentions Acts 23, where it claims that Paul was kept in Herod’s Palace. Of course, there is no evidence of this at all, but it does read as a way to try to give some validity to Paul’s claims of being the only one all Christians should listen to.

      Again, there likely was a herod’s palace. It does’t make any of your myths true, just like New York City doesn’t make Spider-man true. Pilate may have been in it the place but that is not agreed on by archaeologists, and it is not mentioned in the gospel of John. The author of the GoJ said this “Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor.” He wrote this and chose not to write “Herod’s palace” or “the palace of Herod”. If he knew that the location was Herod’s palace why wasn’t this written, John? In the GoJ, the people carting JC around wouldn’t come in to the palace because of ritual purity but in Luke, Mark and Matthew this appears to be no problem. Again, the stories don’t match and there is no reason to believe them.

      Now, the sentence just after the various claims of verses is this “The principal palace in Jerusalem used by the Roman prefects was the palace of Herod. Pilate pronounced his judgment on Jesus at a place in Greek called lithostratos (John 19:13). This Greek term refers to a paved floor with colorful tiles known as opus sectile. Within the land of Israel, this style of floor, within first century buildings appear primarily in those of Herod the Great, which indicates that Pilate condemned Jesus in Herod’s palace.” This is full of assumptions and the author appears to know it. He tries to go from a claim of a principle palace, which indicates that there were other palaces supposedly, if one can distinguish one from another, to indicating that there were more than one place that has a certain kind of floor and then makes the claim that this means JC was condemned in Herod’s palace, when it does nothing of the sort. By the author’s own claim, there is no reason to think this since there were other locations and other floors, not to mention there is no evidence that Jesus Christ existed at all. It’s the worst kind of archaeology, having an presumption of existence of a magical being and then trying to force the archaeology to fit.

      The last paragraph is also quite interesting “Early Christian tradition remembered Jesus’ appearance before Pilate in Herod’s palace. The earliest tradition that commemorated Jesus’ walk from Pilate to the cross began in the Armenian church of St. James, built upon part of Herod’s palace. These two events at the beginning and end of the life of Jesus took place in Herod’s palace. The casual visitor and pilgrim to Jerusalem today often walks through Jaffa Gate — the area of Herod’s palace — and does not realize the events that transpired in that place.”

      Early Christian tradition has claimed that JC appeared before Pilate in Herod’s palace, but there is nothing to say that this was remembered. If early Christian tradition can get this, then why is there no “remembering” where the tomb is and evidence that it was filled, much less emptied? All Christianity has is tradition and myths, no evidence at all, just like how ancient Greeks claimed that Poseidon and Athena contested over who got their name on the city that became Athens.

      • I get it now.

        If the Smithsonian article had referred to ‘The Big Apple’ you could correctly say the article never mentioned New York City.

        When I say, ‘The Big Apple is another name for New York City’, you would be correct in saying, “That doesn’t prove Spider-Man exists.”

        And I agree with you that Herod’s Palace in no way proves any of the bible’s claims about Jesus .

      • It doesn’t appear you “get it” at all, John. All you have come up with is a false statement trying to imply I would say that if the Smithsonian article said “The Big Apple” I would deny it was in reference to New York City, if it was presented in that context. It seems that it is all you have false claims and refusing to answer my question or rebut my statements.

        You have attacked my blog post about the article in the Smithsonian. You have for some reason focused on my point that the GoJ did not mention Herod’s palace, and have claimed that it does. You have been unable to show where it mentions Herod’s palace, have been unable to show that Pilate’s palace was the same as Herod’s palace or show that Pilate lived with Herod. The bible does not agree with your claim, the archaeology does not agree with your claim and again, you have been unable to show evidence that your claims is true. You have repeatedly asked me questions and I have answered. When I ask you questions, you have consistently refused, answers few and far between. You have cited opinion pieces from vanity presses as supposed scientific articles, and I have shown where they fail. You accuse atheists of having no morals and make claims that only your god is the font of some objective morality but you cannot show this any more true than your claims about the bible. You have evidently intentionally lied when claiming you acknowledge my points as true, when you continue to ignore them.

        Now, I don’t mind this at all, because it shows that the claims of Christians are not to be trusted and that the claims of Christians that they have some superior morality are shown to be false by your actions.

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