Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “A Case for Christmas” critique Part 1

Part One – Setting the Record Straight

Well, Lee has quite a challenge here since the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, and therefore Christmas, is certainly quite a mess.  We have two gospels that just ignore it, two that have the details everyone knows but are contradictory and Paul who has seems to have no idea what the gospels said about JC, except for a few bits about resurrection.

Lee says he thought he’d find that the claims about the nativity were going to be “flimsy”. Well, if the following isn’t flimsy, I’d hate to see what he would consider that.

The first claim is that his sources are too “immediate” to be considered legend.  He also claims that “legends” can have “contaminated” the “actual account of what really took place.”  So, which is it?  Add to this that the bible is supposedly inspired/written by a perfect omnipotent, omniscient being, and it doesn’t look too good for its validity.

First on the block of not being “quite right” is the manger scene.  Lee claims that it would be “unthinkable” for anyone to turn away a “pregnant Jewish woman seeking shelter.”  Nothing seems to support that at all, despite the claim of a “scholar”(Kenneth Bailey, a ThD whose entire experience relevant to this seems to be being a missionary in Egypt) saying it.  He also claims that the “inn” wasn’t part of the story, but again, nothing to show this in the bible which is ostensibly from a perfect being.  Is it lying or is Lee?  Rewriting the denial of shelter denies a bit of theology that insists that how martyred Christians are.  Lee also goes on to claim that there is a special word for “inn” in Greek rather than “kataluma” which is used in the NT to describe a rentable or guest room.  He never says what that other word is.  We also have Lee saying that a translation of the bible nearly 1400 years later goes from “guest room” to “inn”.   Amazing how mangled this perfect god allows its one and only set of words to humans to get.

Lee also tries to claim that somehow Jews and people in the middle east would allow their farm animals into the living area.  Noting how paranoid these people are about being ritually clean, it’s hard to imagine that would be allowed, to the point of having a manger in the living room from the animals to eat from?   I grew up on a dairy farm and often found myself in the milking parlor where the cows would poop whenever they wanted to and sometimes to ah, “explosive”, results.  I also mucked out the area were they lived, especially during the winter.

Lee also claims that the Protoevangelion of James is the source of Mary being really really pregnant and that it is mostly legendary.  One wonders which parts Lee considers true, Mary being fed by angels?  Mary’s hymen being examined?   It’s no less or more silly than the other versions of the story.  (now, if you want a really bizarre one, try the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, written around the same time.

Lee tries to claim that the author of the Gospel of Luke (AGoL) was writing much closer to the events.  Not really, the GoL was written between 5 and 8 decades after per most scholars.  And the author claims of having “investigated” things is meaningless.  No reason to believe this at all, considering how the gospels vary all over the place in claims of detail.  In the GoL, it says that the time came for Mary to give birth.  Now exactly how long are they staying there for this census that never happened, away from family and work?  Lee wants to claim that it could have been quite a long time.  But he forgets that the author of the Gospel of Matthew shows that this is all nonsense, no census, no need to invent a “guest room”.   And no need to make up a cave, though Lee is stuck with saying a prominent Christian apologist, Justin Martyr, was just making nonsense up in the same time period that the AGOL was writing.  The cave appears in the Protoevangelion mentioned above.

“Probably” and “surely” figure in most of Lee’s claims.  He claims that Joseph and Mary just went to the house of a friend or family member and stayed with them being seen by the shepherds who wandered in after the angel tells them what’s up, having no idea where to look among a supposedly huge throng for one woman who had a child.  Then they wandered off.  It’s great to see a Christian making nonsense up wholesale.

However, this is a moot subject, since there is no evidence at all for any such ridiculous census taking place.   This assumes that all of David’s descendants return to a village (there was never a “City of David” there).  *all* of them, at least a thousand years’ worth.  First, there needs to be some way of the Romans knowing who should be where to make the census valid. There isn’t.  There is also the fact that travel takes days in this era with at best a donkey and at worst feet.  How far do we think a donkey burdened by a pregnant woman can travel?  How far do we think a pregnant woman at the last couple of weeks of her term can travel, period? Of course, one can invoke magic, but that isn’t what Lee wants.  He wants to pretend that reality where this story takes place.

So, we have the author of GOL (AGOL) claiming this census, and then the author of the Gospel of Matthew (AGOMt) says that nothing like this happened, Joseph had a dream, they lived in their house and then ran off to Egypt, after the magi showed up.

So much for Lee’s claim that all of the gospels are to be taken as biographical history.  That doesn’t work very well when they directly contradict each other, mentioning drastic events like the massacre of the innocents or never mentioning them at all. As opposed to the majority of biblical scholars, Lee has to pretend that the gospels were written far close to the supposed events than we have any evidence for at all.  Nothing shows that AGoL was a physician (and at that time a physician wasn’t the assumed well informed person we know now), or a friend of Paul’s. We also have no reason to expect that the AGOL would mention Paul in the gospels (if they are indeed biographical histories) nor that he would have mentioned the baseless claims of martyrdom of any other supposed apostle.  Acts does end unfinished and this signifies nothing, especially that the GoL is somehow true and written early.  There is also no reason to mention the destruction of the temple since the need for the temple in the story is done.  I will mention that GoL is inconvenient for Christians since it has the apostles wandering right back into Jerusalem and celebrating at the temple.  Rather silly considering what supposedly happened earlier and still didn’t see those dead wandering around like the AGOMt claims.

The scholar that Lee claims as one of the “greatest historians who ever lived” (??) AN Sherwin-White, seems to only be worthy of such a ridiculous claim because he thought that the NT was history.  This is no more than an appeal to authority, and an attempt to pretend that this person’s opinion, that two generations is not enough to have a legend to wipe out a “solid core of historical fact”, is somehow immutable fact.  Just by looking back 60 years, we know that all sorts of nonsense overtakes reality, from JFK, to the moon landing.  It is stretch to claim that the GoL was written in the same generation of the supposed Jesus’s appearance.

The claim that archaeology has supported the bible’s claims is simply a deliberate false claim from Lee.  The AGoL has not been called a “first rate historian” by many scholars.  The only people who claim this are those who need the New Testament, and AGoL’s version to be true.  It’s notable that Lee does not mention the supposed scholars who supposedly think that the AGoL is a “first-rate historian”.

The instance that Lee tries to claim that was thought wrong and then was found right is the claim that JC lived in Bethlehem and then went to live in Nazareth some time later.   At one point we had no evidence for a Nazareth as claimed in the bible.  Now we do, since archaeology is always going on, and no, that doesn’t mean that Jesus exists since a town’s name was mentioned.  As repeatedly told to Christians, the fact that some myth mentions a real place or person, doesn’t make it true.  IF you want it to make it true, then every Greek god, every Egyptian god, Spider-Man, etc are as real as your god.  I’ve asked many of them if they are good with that. Unsurprisingly, most never comment again. The few who don’t run end up digging themselves deeper with further attempts to invent evidence for their god’s existence.  Of course, believers being believers, they had to declare that the one house found in what they want to call Nazareth (found by a group who went in with the presupposition that they would find Nazareth, and darned if they didn’t find something they named), under a convent called Sisters of Nazareth, of a correct time period “could be Jesus’ house”.   What they found was a Jewish house, nothing more, nothing less, in an area where Jews had lived for thousands of years.  Not exactly a shocking find.  This does not show that AGoL was right at all.  If we are to believe that, we should be sure that Horus and Isis exist since surprise, we’ve found houses of Egyptians in Karnak.  We should believe in Spidey since there is a Greenwich Village.

Finally, Lee tries to claim that there is no problem at all with the author of the Gospel of Mark (AGoMk) and the author of the Gospel of John (AGoJ) not mentioning one thing about the birth of JC.  He also simply doesn’t mention the discrepancies by the AGoMt.  He wants to claim it is an “argument from silence” which is drawing a conclusion from the silence of an opponent.  And he would have a point if that were the only evidence that is present.  We have the lack of mention of these magical events in two of the gospels, AND what stories we have contradict each other AND we have no corroborating evidence for either of those stories.  What we do have is that no one noticed any of the events of JC’s supposed birth, life or death and things went on as normal in Roman-occupied Palestine, no magical nonsense happening.  So we have an absence of evidence and evidence of absence.

We also have the excuse that the gospels didn’t contain everything since “everyone” knew the other parts.  Which doesn’t work with the other Christian excuse, that every gospel author was writing to a different audience.  Why not mention such wonderous events to those who evidently didn’t know them if they didn’t know the rest of the story?   Again, Lee’s baseless assumptions destroy his claims.  There is no evidence of Ignatius being mentored by anyone special (other than “tradition” which we know how well that works especially when it comes to who wrote the gospels) nor that the author “must” believe in the claim of the virgin birth.  We don’t’ even have Paul mentioning that rather special claim to prove JC’s bona fides to pagans.  Paul seems to know nothing about it at all.  There is no reason to assume that Ignatius was completely ignorant of the other nonsense being claimed about Christianity 70 years after the supposed events.  All of these various Christians seem to know about each other, if for no better reason than to attack them.

Strobel is right, the AGoMk wasn’t interested in the birth of JC nor was he interested in the death or supposed resurrection.  The oldest copies of that story end with nothing more than women running away and telling no one anything about the supposed empty tomb.  He does try mightily to claim that AGoMk “really” mentions the odd nature of JC’s birth, but all the verse he cites says is this “On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.”

Not one mention of magic in birth, but some real world acknowledgement that charlatans can’t fool their neighbors and that everyone was in on the secret that Joseph was cuckholded.

Lee notes a common problem for Christians, that Paul has no idea who Jesus is or anything about him or his life.  Lee’s excuse is that the details weren’t pertinent, but that is rather silly when even Christians now cite what JC said, the parables, etc.  When Paul chides his followers why does he not once mention Jesus and his words and at times directly contradicts Jesus?

Lee tries to claim that lack is because everyone knew the gospels, but we know that is likely not the case since the gospels are usually dated after the epistles *and* those far flung churches he establishes have no evidence of knowing anything about the gospels.  Paul is the first to find his new audience there since the supposed messiah never returned when promised.  He had to invent a new version of Christianity.  Are we to presume that since Paul didn’t mention things in the gospels, they didn’t exist?  Nope, but neither are we to presume that he ever knew about them in the first place.  For complaining about “arguments from silence” Lee uses them constantly.  Since we have no evidence of a magical man, a virgin birth, etc there is
no reason to think that they *ever* existed and were not just stories.

“What have we learned so far?”

  • That there is no historical record of Christ’s birth as claimed in GoL or GoMt.
  • That those stories contradict each other.
  • Historical people and places mentioned in a story doesn’t mean the story is true.
  • That the gospels are not the best source of evidence we have for what happened 2000+ years ago. They are the *only* source of badly contradictory myths about a birth of a man/god.
  • They mention events that there is no evidence for e.g. census, massacre, etc. and we have evidence that nothing strange happened during that time.
  • That, like stories about St. Nicholas, and Santa Claus, there is no practical implications for our lives in these stories. Virgin births and claims of descending from gods was nothing new.
  • The stories of the birth of Jesus cannot be shown as true and thus can be ignored. In the end, there was no magical child and it does not deserve our allegiance or worship.

Strobel finishes with declaring how “humble” JC was in his birth.  How?  This is the plan that he/his father came up with, evidently as the ONLY way for this god to not damn all of humanity for this god’s failure in Eden.  Christians can’t even agree on when JC became the salvation sacrifice, before he was born, after he was born, after he was baptized, etc.

A week or so until Part 2.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – as expected Christians who supported Trump now insist that they never did

As some of my readers might remember, I’ve clashed with John Branyan and his rather peculiar daughter Amanda before.

They were all for Trump, how great he was, how Amanda voted for him and how dare anyone point out how much he was a failure.  We can see that right here “On behalf of your friends and family who are sick of listening to you but are too polite to stop you, I’m offering 6 things you can do instead of nursing your irrational hatred for Donald Trump. You believe you’re doing a good thing when you “expose Trump’s vile behavior”. You’re wrong. We prefer Trump’s behavior to your endless bloviation…”  You can only see part of his nonsense now.  JB is hiding behind a “membership” wall on his blog.  How expected.

He also had lovely bits like this too:

“Vote by mail requires you to be stupid. To be clear, the people suggesting vote by mail are quite clever. They might even be geniuses. Vote by mail is a brilliant idea that will have an enormous impact on national elections. Only stupid people think that is a good thing.

Universal vote by mail was created strictly for the purpose of cheating.”

Always good to see that poor JB agreed with Trump….once upon a time

and now we get:

“My target audience for this article is Christians who boarded the “Trump Train” back in 2016 thinking it would take them to where America was great again.

Other people would start this article with, “I hate to say I told you so,” but it would be dishonest for me to do that. I LOVE to say, “I told you so.” Being right about things feels great!”

oh gosh, poor JB doesn’t quite figure out that his blog is a recorded media.

Now, how many quatloos you want to bet he’ll try to claim he was just “joking”?

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – yet one more TrueChristian(tm) offers a “challenge” to atheists and fails

So, we have a Christian, Andy Bannister, who wants to ask “Why are some atheists so afraid of changing their minds?”.  This is a video, and of course, the comments are turned off.  So much for being the “confident” Christians that Solas claims on their website, eh?

Unsurprisingly, the video starts off with the usual false claims about atheists, how rude we all are for not blindly accepting what the particular Christian says, that we all evidently can’t come up with anything ourselves but have to repeat what other atheists say (which begs the question “since we are all repeating someone else, who is actually the originator of these things?”), that we have bad grammar and spelling (oh do call the kettle black, pot), and of course trying to be insulting by equating atheist with idiot, in the ever-so clever “village atheist” comment.

We end up quickly in the claims somehow atheists are fearful and this is “why” atheists don’t engage with the “best” arguments for Christianity.  This isn’t a new claim, it is just the “sophisticated theology” bit of nonsense that many Christians trot out, that atheists only pick the low hanging fruit to address.  This excuse is, of course, dependent on the theist being willfully ignorant about how atheists have indeed addresses those “best” arguments too.  This video isn’t for atheists, it is for a Christian to reinforce the false beliefs of himself and other Christians.  Apologetics aren’t for atheists, they are for theists.

Unsurprisingly, Andy says that atheists should “properly” examine the claims of the Christian faith.  The term “properly” comes up often in apologetics and the definition that is used this context is “in an acceptable or suitable way” not “in an accurate or correct way”.  It is nothing more than a code word for agreeing with the theist and not questioning what they say, something that is “acceptable” to them.

Andy goes on to appeal to authority in the form of Alistair McGrath, who evidently must be correct because he has a degree.  This fellow, anglican priest at Oxford (who defines atheists as ” I became an atheist – somebody who deliberately and intentionally does not believe in God and thinks that anyone who does believe in God is mentally deficient or seriously screwed up.'”, supposedly received a letter from a student that who became a Christian after reading one of McGrath’s books and the “very best” Christian philosophers.  Of course, this student was an atheist, because that makes the story.  This atheist never ever read the “other side of the argument” but when he did, poof, he became a Christian.  This of course ignores reality since this doesn’t happen every time, and indeed, atheists often become atheists because they did read the holy book of Christianity and realized what nonsense it is and read other books to see that the bible didn’t reflect reality.  To see McGrath’s other use of failed apologetics, here is a video/transcript of an interview with him.  This is the “quality” of McGrath’s arguments:  “Number one, there are a very large number of scientists who are religious believers; and these are not stupid people at all. ”  Quite a pathetic start, an appeal to authority fallacy.  Here‘s a more thorough take down of McGrath’s arguments.  If he is one of the ‘best’, Christianity doesn’t have much to support  it.

Andy goes on to repeat the claim that atheists don’t address the “best” arguments for Christianity by recommending these “best” authors like Rebecca McLaughlin.  Now, Dr. McLaughlin is one of those with again degrees, beloved by Biologos and is an entirely awful apologist.  This is her on her ‘one minute apologetics.”  “The Jesus of the Gospels is either God in the flesh or a terrible imposter. There is no middle ground.”  That is really all she has, nothing different from Paul saying, yep, we believe becuase we gotta believe.  She wrote a book, Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion.  That’s one assumption right in the title, since we know that Christians don’t consider each other Christians by the millions.  Looking at the amazon preview of the book, we see the usual apologetics, that somehow Christianity has dibs on every good human action and is the only thing responsible for human rights, the claim that persecution makes Christianity true, that somehow atheists have no morality, etc.  In other words, the same false and baseless claims, nothing new or “sophisticated” here at all.

He also of course tries to claim that atheists don’t read these arguments with an open mind and accusing atheists of being cowards and not “serious”, to again try to claim that we aren’t being honest or brave or seriously considering the material.  He also insists that pointing out that a Christian is wrong is being “rude”, doing the typical appeal to politeness when he has nothing else.  Nothing like a Christian accusing someone of lying and having no evidence for it.

It is interesting that Andy never mentions what a single one of these “best” arguments are.  One would suspect that is because when one of the arguments is dismantled, he can insist that wasn’t one of the “best” ones and then run to the next, never taking responsibility for his claims.

Atheists aren’t afraid of changing our minds.  We have no reason to .

What the Boss Likes – Some random photos

I was going through my photos on my phone and decided to put a handful up.

pumpkin pie
pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Pie that I made this weekend.  I’ve found I like the Joy of Cooking version the best, which uses heavy cream rather than the common American ones that use evaporated and/or condensed milk.


two cats
two of our cats

This is Mr. Athena (top) and Hera (bottom).  Mr. Athena (a male cat that we named before we could tell what sex the kittens were) is the kitten of Hera.  Hera had five kittens who grew to this size.  They are about twice as big as she is.

PA forest and creek
PA forest and creek

This is a pretty typical forest/creek in western PA.  It’s in a place called Mineral Springs, outside of Emlenton, PA.   There are many orange colored seeps in Western PA thanks to the coal, iron ore and sulfur in the area.  It is called Mineral Springs because of

Mineral Spring
Mineral Spring

This mineral rich spring.  You can see leaves and branches being coated with minerals.  They’ll probably be fossils someday. At one point, people could take the waters here for their health.

praying mantis
PA forest and creek

A praying mantis that came with a delivery of plants when I was working as a plant merchandiser.  She was having a good time eating.

hummingbird clearwing moth
hummingbird clearwing moth

You can see a hummingbird clearwing moth at the lower left.  He was hard to get a picture of since he was moving fast.  Those are butterfly bushes being visited.


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – oh look a Muslim creationist lies: Atheism succinctly refuted

a theist, muslim in this case, caught in a lie.
a theist, muslim in this case, caught in a lie.

oh look, a Muslim creationist lies.

It isn’t Ilya Prigogine lying, it is our friends over Blogging Theology.   Now, how did I know to question this false claim?  Well, Dr. Prigogine signed the Humanist Manifesto in 2003.  Rather unlikely that someone like this would be an authority that a theist would run to, right?  It stank of a lie.  

this is what the real quote is:

“The statistical probability that organic structures and the most precisely harmonized reactions that typify living organisms would be generated by accident, is zero.”Ilya Prigogine (Chemist-Physicist) Recipient of two Nobel Prizes in chemistry I. Prigogine, N. Gregair, A. Babbyabtz, Physics Today 25, pp. 23-28

The statement is misquoted and removed from context so as to inaccurately simplify and overstate the authors’ statement.

The exact phrase is (see also above):
The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small. The idea of spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore highly improbable, even on the scale of the billions of years during which prebiotic evolution occurred…

Theists are often lazy and almost always making false claims. How pathetic when their holy books tell them not to lie. Poor Paul has failed to listen ““Lying is not permitted except in three cases: a man speaking to his wife to make her happy; lying in times of war; and lying in order to reconcile between people.””  and “

“O you who believe! Fear Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).”(9:119)”

Tsk, lying just like a regular ol’ conservative Christian.  

What the Boss Likes – my interview about the event in Harrisburg

It’s on instagram  @keystonecalendar




What the Boss Likes: I need an idea for a sign for Women’s March

Hello all, I’m involved in the Women’s March and I need a sign to show off. Any good ideas? The main thrust of the march is celebrating RGB, standing against the dictatorship/theocracy that Trumpies want and standing together so Liberty is for ALL.

I need one of these:


What the Boss Likes : a new mask pattern

Hello world!

Ugh, this pandemic really needs to stop.   I’m bored, depressed and just done with it.  I was reading a old book I picked up in a thrift store, “Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern” for those of you who read fantasy.  It’s all about a pandemic on Anne McCaffrey’s Pern.  The disease has symptom: fever, headache and cough.  It was really weird to read that during this time.  Alas, I have no dragon to hang out with.

On that note, I’ve been working with some mask patterns I’ve found on the web and adjusting them to what I need.  Being one of the glasses wearing persuasion, I need something that doesn’t make my glasses fog up and being a little hard of hearing (thanks, childhood ear infections that blew out my eardrums!) I find it easier if I can see people’s lips and find it easier if I can smile at people, being that I’m currently working in retail (I am a plant merchandiser at a Lowe’s, which means I move plants around to make them look pretty and throw out the ones that are dying.  Oh and don’t forget the eternal sweeping the area)

So, you may find below my pattern that I cobbled from these two: first mask video and pattern  and  mask pattern for glasses by Barb.

My pattern is hand drawn and until I master my pen tablet, this is how it will be.  Anyone at all is more than welcome to improve on it.  My pattern is really for an experienced seamstress/seamster, and they’ll know to put cuts in curves to make it work out.  Print out at 100%.

I used a page protector that I stole from my husband, who is addicted to office supplies, to make the window.  It’s a decent weight of clear plastic and this particular one is a matte finish.

Things you might want to know:

Cut little slits in the fabric for the curves so it doesn’t bunch up.

Use a wider stitch length when sewing the plastic in so you don’t perforate the plastic too much and have the window fall out.

The chin and nose are gathered with a thread so they can fit around the face a little better.  It’s just like using a thread as the string on a drawstring bag.

The center hole will be cut as shown.  Fold the flaps back.  The flaps can be cut narrower so you won’t have quite so much to fold back.  It just depend on how comfortable you are with really narrow stitching.  I double stitched around the window just to make sure everything was caught.

A light film of dish soap can help with the fogging.

If you have any questions, please ask. This was a quick and dirty project of mine.


And yes, that is a deer skull behind me above our fake fireplace.  I found that deer skull about 40 years ago as a very decayed roadkill, and it hadn’t had the antlers eaten off by a porcupine.  My parents weren’t thrilled that I brought it home.  😀  I will have to admit that wearing this mask reminds me of those weird  cartoons with people’s mouths placed on them, like Clutch Cargo.

May you all be happy and safe!