Why I Left Jesus – by Fred

To family and friends,
It seems that we are in a kind of “day of reckoning”: right now, with people making firm decisions about their lives and lifestyles, and then pronouncing such changes and affirmations openly. I feel it is time for me to make a proclamation myself and clear the air, lest rumors fly and inaccuracies occur in the speculative reporting of the situation.
Anyone who knows me also knows I am a pretty religious person. Make no mistake, things of a spiritual nature have always been important to me, as well as the idea of “doing the right thing” whenever I could, according to the knowledge I had at the time. This has been a struggle for me, since all people want to be happy, myself being no exception. However, there has always been a tension in my soul between pursuing happiness and pursuing meaning. One does not always lead to, or bring about, the other. Unfortunately, I have also projected such a paradigm onto others, including my children. I cannot really apologize for that, being as how I still believe that meaning in life is should always be pursued even at the cost of happiness, which I believe is fleeting and dependent upon circumstances. Happiness can be stolen from you,but meaning never can be.
However, the pursuit of meaning and truth is a journey that requires taking different paths, viewing things from various perspectives and at times exposing oneself to rejection and pain. I do apologize for putting my family and friends through any pain they may have suffered as a result of my pursuit of meaning and truth. On the other hand, I also hope that my children , family and friends have enjoyed a deeper life experience on some level as a result of the same.
The pursuit of meaning and truth has no end, and is always in motion. It often means “trading-in” one paradigm, or mindset, for another. These trade-offs can sometimes demand not only a change of thought, but a change in lifestyle that accompanies that change of thought, if one is to be consistent. However, I have also learned that compromise is not always bad, and that oftentimes compromise is the wiser path. Obviously there are those who would vehemently disagree.

In 1999, during a time of personal distress over my circumstances. I made a decision to let God take my life and mold it into whatever He thought best. This decision led to convictions about many things. The first of which was to surrender completely to God. I decided to persue my Christian faith in an uncompromising way and to open my heart to anything God wanted to show me. It was at this point that questions came to mind:

1- Why do people pray to Jesus if Jesus said to pray to the Father and not to him?
2- Why don’t Jews, who had the Law,the Prophets and a rich history of deep spiritual persuit of truth accept Jesus?

I had actually made a phone call to a local synagogue in order to ask a rabbi why he did not accept Jesus. At this point I had no information on the matter being as how the “Information Age”, i.e., the Internet, had not yet made it to my household. The rabbi was not available at the time, so I decided to try at a later date.

I was able to find an old friend from my “Christian rock band” days, ________,who was now a pastor, and made an appointment to discuss these things with him. His answer was that Jesus was not what the Jews expected in a Messiah:
1- A warrior to destroy the Romans, so they could dominate the world
3- The egotistical Jewish leadership saw Jesus as a “threat to their power”
These seemed to satisfy my curiosity for a while. I also asked Pastor _____ why people pray to Jesus when Jesus said to pray to God. Of course the answer was that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit were all the same God, and to pray to any one of them was to pray to them all. It still made no sense, but I pursued my Christianity with great zeal nonetheless. As most of you know, I later became a Seventh-Day Adventist due to my conviction that God’s laws could never be changed, since God himself could never change. But in the spirit of transperancy I must add that SDA was not my first choice.
All of my life I have had a strong and inexplicable pull toward Israel and the Jewish people. Prior to attending the Adventist Church I investigated “Messianic Judaism”, that is, a form of Judiasm that was also Christian. However, the congregations were few and far between, and the ones I found were focused more on political Zionism than God. I had no problem with Zionism ( centering on Israel as a nation), but I was hungry for God and his truth. I has already begun keeping the Shabbat ( Sabbath), adopted a kosher diet and taught my children accordingly.

I joined the Adventist Church, took and Adventist wife and later took a job at a Seventh-day Adventist high school in Oklahoma. During this time, I continued my pursuit of truth regarding my very first question as a “born-again Christian”: Why do people pray to Jesus when Jesus said to pray to the Father? Christianity was very “Christ-centered”, but Jesus seemed more “God-centered”, at least in the Synoptic Gospels. I got many different answers for this, bit none satisfied that nagging curiosity that goaded my conscience and my intellect.

I continued my research for the next couple of years in earnest to uncover this odd mystery . Much to my surprise, I discovered that the SDA Church was nontrinitarian for its first 90 years, and that the trinity was only made an official doctrine in 1980! I then wrote a piece using my over 1000 pages of gleaned study notes, which resulted in the manuscript called “The Trinity Chronicles”. This MS made its way around the globe, was translated into several slavic languages, and eventually found its way to the leadership of the SDA denomination. Calls were made by the General Conference to the school I was on staff at and my contract was not renewed for the following year.

I then began to investigate my original question: why do Jews not accept Jesus as messiah?
This question took me to a few different rabbis, all of whom had a different story than the standard Christian response. The rabbis took me through the Jewish Bible, called Tanakh, which includes what Christians call “the Old Testament”. They showed me that, in fact, there was an entire litany of scriptural requirements spelled out plainly in the Bible which must be met for any messianic claimant; events that would accompany his arrival into the world ( this is only a partial list):

1- The Messiah is not God or a divine being, but a mere mortal, and will not be worshiped in any way
2- He will be of the tribe of Judah and tribal affiliation comes through the father’s bloodlines
3- The Third Temple will be rebuilt and fully functional, including Levitical priests
4- Universal knowledge of God, nobody will have to preach anything to anyone
5- The Jewish Bible says nothing about eternal salvation being dependent on “believing in” the messiah.

I then went back to the Christian side for their response. I was presented with “over 300 prophecies about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled”. Rather than study all 300, I asked for the “top 40”; those that were considered the plainest and most important. I took these prophecies one by one and studied them in their context and in their original language ( Hebrew) using my concordance and lexicons. Of the 40 I was presented, I concluded that Jesus only fulfilled three:
1- He was human ( the seed of Eve)
2- He was Jewish ( His mom was Jewish so he was too)
3- He rode a donkey into Jerusalem ( although he had his disciples steal the donkey for the sole purpose of fulfiling that prophecy)

Most of the “messianic prophecies” I was presented with were not even prophecies. And those that were prophecies were taken out of context or had a verse attached to the context , such as sins the “messiah” would be repenting of, that would eliminate Jesus as the New Testament presents him. One proof text even tells of a false prophet … and Christians applied this text to Jesus!
I stopped attending the SDA church entirely and there was growing contention with my wife and in my home. Eventually, we divorced in 2010 ( not just over religion, but several reasons).
I attended the Conservative synagogue in Oklahoma City for three years, from 2008 to 2011, while also studying with Orthodox rabbis over the phone and by internet ( the Orthdox rabbis believed I have a “Jewish soul” that is trying to find its way home). I was asked by the rabbi in OKC to convert. But by 2011 my life had become lonely. The synagogue I was attending hired a new rabbi, who became vocal in [liberal] politics from the pulpit which was a turn-off for me ( my friends know I lean conservative, but I also do not enjoy secular political activism from the pulpit) and I found myself in the middle of an emotional “no man’s land”. I missed my “old life”: my wife, my kids, my step-kids and my SDA friends, and tried my best to win back as much as I could. My youngest daughter was still Christian as well.

On the strength of all these difficulties I decided to “hold my nose” and return to the SDA church, burying my antitrinitarian and “non-Jesus” thoughts as best I could. I made no secret of the fact that my Christian faith held by only a weak thread. But in the back of my mind, I knew I was not walking out my convictions, and every Adventist sermon that centered on Jesus grated on my conscience ( I actually appreciated the ones that centered on the law and God’s justice). I found it increasingly difficult to add “in Jesus’ name” to my prayers. You know that feeling when you tell a lie and you know you are lying? Like a “mini headache”, right?

The point of personal crisis came at a communion service when the pastor made it clear that only a human being was sacrificed on Calvary, because God cannot die. A human sacrifice was made by the God who condemned human sacrifices as evil? I got up and walked out, never to return.
I said all of that to announce that I am converting to Judaism once and for all and at any and all cost. In my personal experience I cannot accept anything else in my pursuit of meaning, truth and of who God made me to be. I cannot be atheist or angostic, as it has been to clear me from my life’s experience that there is a God and that this God does in fact intervene in mankind’s affairs, else I would not be here today ( I’ve got stories!). A personal God, in my view, is self-evident.

There is no doubt in my mind or my heart that I was meant to be Jewish, or that I always was before my birth: with all of its trials and difficulties, with all of the hate directed toward us from so many directions, but also with every spiritual form, blessing and tradition given by God to His people. Anything else would be a denial of who I really am. I long to wear a tallit, kiss the Mezuzah on my door post and repeat the Sh’ma in unison with the entire people Israel. The Shabbat has always been in my heart, as has the nation of Israel; the people , the language I seem to somehow recognize on the inside but have to “relearn” on the outside. But mostly, we think differently. It is not a Western linear way of thought, but a cyclical and poetic way of thought. We do not see God’s laws ( mitzvot) as restrictions but as freedom and a way to show God we love all He has supplied, which is everything and everybody. To us, God is not a fictional “Flying Spaghetti Monster” nor a mean-spirited ogre that demands a human sacrifice to assuage His anger. Does God get “angry”? In a way. Is he an “angry God”? Not at all. Judaism goes as deep as anyone could comprehend, but God’s request of His people is still so simple a child can understand it.
Anyway, that is all I have to say at this point. I hope this clears up any speculation of confusion as to my thoughts, my beliefs and my motivations.
Blessings to all in His glorious name!
Fred

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859 Responses to Why I Left Jesus – by Fred

  1. Tsvi Jacobson says:

    Fred: Amazing! I see much of what you experienced though I from a different direction. Nobody except one who experiences this can fully understand it. Many really wouldn’t have the patience to approach the questions either. Love to talk with you. Rabbi B will give you my phone number if you would like to talk

  2. Jim says:

    Fred,

    Welcome home.

    Jim

  3. Cindy says:

    In order to really study on Moshiach, you must go to outside sources, as Tanach does not have very much information. As to the death of an individual atoning for others (not using the word sacrificed), I would offer the following:

    “Suffering and pain may be imposed on a tzaddik (righteous person) as an atonement for his entire generation. This tzaddik must then accept this suffering with love for the benefit of his generation, just as he accepts the suffering imposed upon him for his own sake. In doing so, he benefits his generation by atoning for it, and at the same time is himself elevated to a very great degree. Such suffering also includes cases where a tzaddik suffers because his entire generation deserves great punishments, bordering on annihilation, but is spared via the tzaddik’s suffering. In atoning for his generation through his suffering, this tzaddik saves these people in this world and also greatly benefits them in the World-to-Come. In addition, there is a special higher type of suffering that comes to a tzaddik who is even greater and more highly perfected than the ones discussed above. This suffering comes to provide the help necessary to bring about the chain of events leading to the ultimate perfection of mankind as a whole. … Beyond that, the merit and power of these tzaddikim is also increased because of such suffering, and this gives them even greater ability to rectify the damage of others. They can therefore not only rectify their own generation, but can also correct all the spiritual damage done FROM THE BEGINNING, FROM THE TIME OF THE VERY FIRST SINNERS.” (emphasis mine) .. (Derech Hashem, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translation by Aryeh Kaplan Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1977, pp 123-125)

    • Cindy Did you notice that he says nothing about Moshiach? He also says nothing about the death of a tzaddik in this section. Do you believe everything that Rabbi Luzzato believed?

    • Cindy, I constantly hear Christians insist that Judaism endorses the idea of, “The death of the righteous atones for sin.” Christians constantly appeal to Isaiah 53 as well as many of the Rabbinic writings, claiming that their belief in Jesus’s supposed “atoning sacrifice” is within the confines of Rabbinic Jewish thought. While the general concept of “The death of the righteous atones for sin” can be found in the Rabbinic writings, the specific context of Jesus’s supposed “atoning sacrifice” and the implications of his death as articulated in the NT, are not in line with Rabbinic Jewish thought at all! The NT insists that the blood of a sinless man (Jesus) will bring ultimate atonement to all who believe in his supposed death/divine nature. Nothing in Rabbinic literature supports this means of atonement in such a way, and neither does the Tanach itself.

      You and other Christians I have spoken with, (assuming you are Christian) have abused the Rabbinic concept of “the death of the righteous atones for sin,” and attempted to erroneously argue that the death of Jesus must be a superior means of atonement compared to any other death since Jesus was supposedly “sinless.” The concept of a “sinless person’s death atoning for the sins of the world so that the Torah is ‘fulfilled’” is COMPLETELY FOREIGN FROM RABBINIC THOUGHT! To prove this, the Talmud speaks of 4 sinless men, Amram, Yishai, Binyamin, and Kilav…(Shabbat 55b) All of them died and none of their death’s “fulfilled Torah.” Likewise, if we assume jesus was “sinless,” his death would not have any bearing on “fulfilling Torah” in the sense that the NT claims it does. Such a concept is not supported by rabbinic writings!

      And most importantly, it is most important to recognize that the Tanach as well as the Rabbinic writings recognize that **blood shed/death is NOT THE ONLY WAS TO ATONE FOR SIN.** There are plenty of examples in the Tanach of other means of atonement other than through blood sacrifice or death. Exodus 30:16 is one such example, along with II Chronicles 30:16-20. There are clearly other ways to atone for sin apart from blood sacrifice/death. Thus, the NT errors in Hebrews 9:22 when it states that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” This is patently false. Indeed, there are other ways to atone for sin outside of blood shed/death. Thus, there is no need for any one to believe that jesus “died for our sins” in any capacity in order for us to merit “salvation” or “righteousness” or any sort of heavenly kingdom. The Tanach does not prescribe jesus as “the only remedy for sin” or “the only gateway to salvation” or even as a remedy for sin or gateway to salvation at all! Likewise, the Rabbinic writings do not prescribe jesus as a “remedy for sin” or as a “gateway to salvation” either.

      So we can safely conclude that jesus is not needed for atonement in any capacity.

      Shalom

      • Arkenaten says:

        @Yehuda Yisrael

        So we can safely conclude that jesus is not needed for atonement in any capacity.

        Absolutely 100% correct.

      • The heavy insistence on the need for the blood of the sacrifice being needed to “save” a species or an individual certainly sounds a whole lot like Roman Pagan Mithras belief to me. New Testament scholars are coming more and more to realize how much was added in to the writings long after Jesus’ time. Saved by the blood. Devout Mithracism.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          I mean no disrespect Mariah Windrider, but we can’t substantiate these claims based on the available evidence about the cult of Mithras. The theory that Mithras is born on December 25th, of a virgin, that he died to save his followers, etc. are based on theories ranging in time from the 1700s-1900s, that have very little verifiable evidence, and contradict some of what we know about early Christians too.

          Firstly, no religious texts of the cult of mithras (from the Roman period) survive, so everything we know is largely based on secondhand information, pictorial reliefs, and Archaeology, together with much interpretation. Some scholars see connections to hinduism and pre zoroastrian religion in Iran, but there is scant evidence available to draw a firm link as films like Zeitgeist try and do.

          http://www.britannica.com/topic/Mithraism

          http://ecole.evansville.edu/articles/mithraism.html

          Mithras was born from a rock as far as the sources show us, not from a virgin woman.

          Also, many Jewish Christians rejected the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, and the doctrine was not mentioned in the earliest Pauline sources that date from the 50s-60s C.E. IE it was a late 1st century belief at best.

          Christmas it appears was not celebrated (as it is today) by the early Christians.

          http://ehrmanblog.org/did-jesus-exist-the-birth-of-a-divine-man/
          http://ehrmanblog.org/did-jesus-exist-the-birth-of-a-divine-man/

          “Take the idea that divine men in the ancient pagan world were thought to be born of virigins. It’s not true. What is true is that remarkable men – demigods, emperors, powerful figures of all kinds – were often thought to have been miraculously born. But it was not because their mothers did not have sex—which is what the early Christians said about Jesus and his mother. On the contrary, the mothers of these pagan divine men certainly did have sex. In fact, they had sex with a god to conceive their miraculous children. One might say they had divine sex.”

          Sacred procreation was an extremely common theme in polythesitic mythology, but its about sacred sexuality and the bond of male and female, not about virginity.

          Stories of women having youthful vigor restored to them in old age, and of conceiving children when it would not be biologically possible is a theme found in the Torah narraitve. We even have examples of a Jewish writer using the pattern of the birth of a hellenic hero from Philo’s version of the birth of Moses.

          In terms of the slaying of mithras: “A central image to Roman Mithraic cults was the myth of Mithras slaying the bull. Originally, this “cosmic bull” was slain as a sacrifice to give birth to the world. Creation leapt forth from the bull’s blood, thus creating a heavily gendered creation myth. The artistic iconography usually involved Mithras plunging a dagger into the bull’s throat while a dog lapped at the blood collecting at the bull’s feet. In the Roman Mithraic cults, the bull represented masculinity, because of its strength and sexual power, as well as lunar and earthly forces; the slaying of the bull represented the triumph of male spirit over his animality. According to the Roman version of the Mithraic myth, from the god’s slaying of the bull came wheat, wine, and the growth of herbs and plants.”

          http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Projects/Reln91/Gender/mythras.htm

          So, we can see that the slaying of the bull by this deity is of significance for regenerating the cosmos ie the cycle of life, kind of similar to the Mesopotamian creation stories (Marduk and Tiamat.) A concept of death and resurrection in the cult of mithras therefore is somewhat a weak inference.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Cindy, the fact that you say “In order to really study on Moshiach, you must go to outside sources, as Tanach does not have very much information,” and can bring such a novel concept from rabbinic sources should inspire in you further questions, not cement your opinion.

      Why is so much of this literature (that supposedly supports your view) only found in the so called “traditions of men?” IE ORAL TORAH? Was Jesus perhaps not too different in his observance as are Jews today?

      When you bring the idea of the atoning death of a Tzaddik in support of Jesus, you neglect that this teaching of certain rabbis says clearly that ANYONE CAN BE A TZADDIK, there is nothing to say that it only applies to Moshiach, in fact the notion applies to all Israel.

      There is no analogue to the unique Christian notion of “one G-d, and one mediator between G-d and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Christians say Jesus is the NECESSARY GO BETWEEN. That appears to blatantly contradict Deuteronomy 4.

      You may be able to find certain things here or there Jewish IN ORAL TRADITIONS (WHICH CHRISTIANITY REJECTS BTW) that seemingly support your view, but you are missing the forest for the trees.

      Judaism is first about following Torah’s commands, not about questions concerning who the messiah is. If Jesus is the messiah, let him come and finish his job which even Christians admit isn’t done.

      As yet, he hasn’t built the temple, gathered the lost sheep, or brought universal peace. He still has work to do. In that sense, he cannot be accepted. Moses wasn;t universally accepted until he did the job, why should Yeshua be different?

      • Fred says:

        And to add to your point, even my last year as a Christian, “eternal salvation” became less and less of a concern for me, since it is the ONE thing I have absolutely no control over. My Christian friends were blown away by that, since who in his right mind would not care about eternal salvation? As I told them, I prefer to walk in what I know than what I do not know. Walking with God, doing His mitzvot and pleasing my Creator came first.

        Christians are “faith” people. They have to be, because there is no evidence at all that Jesus resurrected, that he is sitting at the right hand of God, that he walked into a “heavenly sanctuary” to make atonement with his blood, etc. The Christian’s best argument for their faith is the fact of Christianity’s continued existence…and not much else. The promises in the gospel that are visually self-evident are only exhibited by its followers few and far between, if at all. Hebrews 10 pretty much destroys the Christian religion, since according to that chapter, every Christian I know of has “trampled the son of God underfoot” by sinning willfully at some time after becoming a Christian, looking forward to that “certain fiery judgment that will destroy the adversaries”.

        • Reuben Hart says:

          I found your story, i.e. your path very interesting. I was born Jewish and grew up with four Yiddish speaking grandparents, but went into New Age and even Scientology, and was thus easy prey for messianic missionaries. I was in a messianic group for three years; but G-d himself led me out so as not to suffer koras. Right now I’m finding it difficult to love G-d. He allows babies to be beheaded and raped. Hundreds of dogs in China are being beaten to death. I’m looking for a way to reconcile His apparent indifference to loving him. Any suggestions? By the way, have you heard Rabbis Michael Skobac or Tovia Singer? They are amazing in their scope of understanding.

    • Daniel says:

      I thank you Cindy for the above very neatly explained even when you diverted from the word sacrificed, however, I was told that the Torah is against human sacrifices am I right or wrong? If so please tell me where to find it, I am new so excuse my ignorance, thanking you.
      Daniel

  4. It is good that you have made a start.
    The only thing I can say is nobody has a so called Jewish soul; Hashem created man & woman not Jew & gentile.
    Best regards.

    • Fred says:

      You could not prove it by me one way or the other. I am open to the idea, since it does explain a few things in my life’s experience ( such as always being emotionally attached to Israel from my childhood), even before any religious convictions took hold) that no other explanation seems to suffice. I do not put too weight on that, though. I find it more “interesting” than vital.
      However, your assertion that God made them “Male and Female” does not speak to the soul, but to the body, right?

      • Too often we hear the term “Jewish soul” expressing baseless, Jewish arrogance. Others accept the heretical belief that God literally blew a “piece” of Himself” into man: “And He breathed into his nostrils a living soul” (Gen. 2:7) and, “And God created man in His image; in the form of God He create him [man]…” (ibid, 1:27) Certainly, if Maimonides, Ramban, Rashi, Unkelos and literally all other Rabbis rendered such anthropomorphisms as false and heretical, we must fully understand why these genius minds reinterpreted these verses, and then adopt these truths.
        Maimonides teaches that since God is not physical, He possesses no physical qualities or accidents, such as “division”. (13 Principles; Principle III; Yesodei HaTorah 1:7) All Rabbis agree; God has no “parts”; thus, metaphors like the “Tzelem Elokim” (“Form of God”) placed in man, must be understood differently: simply indicating the “higher status” which humans possess over all other creations. As a Rabbi taught, God called our soul Tzelem “Elokim” – including His name – to underscore the great potential of our souls. For only with our souls, can we learn about God. But in no way can God have parts, and therefore, man’s attempt to abandon responsibility by feeling God is “inside” him, is a fallacy. (This pantheistic view led Jews to believe that God existed even inside sin, and other absurdities.)
        Ironically, these arrogant Jews contradict themselves, basing their view of a Jewish “superior” soul, on those verses above…which address the “gentile” Adam the First. Continuing with the Torah’s lessons, God’s selection of the convert Ruth as the forerunner of our future Messiah, and Kings David and Solomon, clearly teaches that God finds no favorite in the Jew. In fact, God created man only once, and all humans are direct descendants of that first gentile couple. God never re-created man or the soul, giving the Jew a “new and improved model”. We all share the exact same design and potential. It was only due to mankind’s idolatrous sins and Abraham’s monotheistic lifestyle, that God selected Abraham and his children to receive and guard the Torah…for “all” mankind. God’s plan was, and remains, that “All sons of flesh call His name”. (Alenu Prayer) Furthermore, since God planned to give His Torah to descendants of gentiles, this means that gentiles are fully capable of practicing Judaism and obtaining Torah perfection. The born Jew has no advantage.
        It is not the “receipt” of Torah that perfects humans, but our adherence to the commands…and this applies to Jew and gentile alike. Human perfection is not a Jewish birthright, but an accomplishment, available to all God’s creatures. And if a gentile is wise, he will love the Torah as does a knowledgeable Jew, and he will take on more than his mere seven Noachide laws. He will see that God’s commands perfect a human, and he will wish to share in that lot. Gentile converts throughout history showed themselves as the wisest members of their cultures – and ours – many becoming great, Jewish leaders.
        Those seven commands are not a “limit” for the gentile, or as some say, “their” system. A Rabbi once taught: the Noachide laws are the bare essentials that entitle a human to retain his right to life. It is not “his” system, or a perfection system. Rather, Noachide laws are a starting point – not an exalted destination. Since the gentile is no different than the Jew, he too benefits equally by adhering to the Torah’s commands, as the Torah teaches: “One Torah and one statute you shall have for yourselves, and the convert who dwells among you.” (Numb. 15:16) This proves all humans share the identical design and potential.
        The foolish view that converts always had some Jewish “spark” is equally arrogant, and baseless. For all the Talmud means by “future Jews and converts stood at Sinai” (Shavuos 39a) is that any person, who sees the truth of Torah, is “as if” he or she witnessed Revelation, which proves Torah beyond all doubt. Just as witnessing Sinai removed all doubt of God’s existence and the Divine nature of Judaism, those today who realize this truth are viewed “as if” they stood at Sinai. Equally true: a Jew today who abandons Torah is “as if” he wasn’t at Sinai.
        Abraham was no more Jewish than Sodom’s sinful inhabitants annihilated by God. But Abraham’s difference was in his use of his Tzelem Elokim, extricating himself through reason alone from an idolatrous youth, and discovering and teaching monotheism to his fellow man. He viewed all humans as equal expressions of God’s will. All men are created equal.
        Abraham was a prophet, and more perfected than anyone alive today: Jews and Rabbis included. He was not Jewish, yet God loved him. Talmud Sanhedrin 59a states: “A gentile who studies Torah is akin to a High Priest.” And the prophet Isaiah 2:2 teaches that in messianic times, gentiles will literally stream to Jerusalem to learn Torah. But gentiles cannot simply wake up one day and desire Torah, and thus, Moshiach cannot arrive…if Jews hide the Torah from gentiles by voicing acceptance of other religions. No, that deludes them into believing that we view their religions on par with Torah. However, the Torah teaches, “From a false matter distance yourself.” (Exod. 23:7) Hence, we must be honest and clear: Judaism views all others religions as imposters, since no other religion was God given. This explains why others preach faith, and not proof, as does Judaism. Our core tenet is that Judaism alone is Divine, proven by the mass witnesses at Sinai…the same manner in which all history is proven. Such a mass revelation is absent in literally all other religions, and why we do not accept their baseless claims. Furthermore, if we recognize any other religion, we violate God’s words: “Do not add to it [Torah] and do not subtract from it.” (Deut. 13:1) All other religions defy this fundamental directive of God in their addition to, or subtraction of Torah law. Again, God said, “One Torah…for yourselves, and the convert.” This means no other laws are acceptable, for any people.
        One other popular misquotation is from Job 31:1,2: “A treaty have I made with my eyes; for what shall I gaze at a virgin? And what portion of God above shall I have, and an inheritance of God on high?” Job rightfully defends himself, claiming that he never gazed at a woman for any other reason than examining her qualities, to determine if she was a fit bride for his sons. For by gazing longer, it would be out of lust, and he would forfeit his share of God’s reward. But many Jews and a popular, chassidic work misquote this verse, illiterately isolating the words “portion of God above” (“chelek Elokim mimaal”) to mean that God placed a part of Himself into man: truly an inexcusable corruption of Torah. This is also an outright denial of our greatest Rabbis who state such beliefs forfeit our Olam Haba, our afterlife. And this is all in the name of feeling that as Jews, we are better? Since when does illiteracy and denial of God’s Torah and Rabbis elevate one’s soul over the gentile?
        In truth, the arrogance of these Jews, is the exact opposite trait which Ruth the convert expressed, and earned her great status, and the role as ancestor to Messiah and our great kings. God did not create gentile and Jew; rather, He simply created “man and woman

  5. Arkenaten says:

    Reblogged this on A Tale Unfolds and commented:
    This is an interesting de-conversion and re-conversion story.

  6. colonialist says:

    It seems strange that you do not apply the same penetrating analysis to the essence of the Jewish faith. Take away the superstition and the inconsequential, and what is left?

    • Colonialist Go ahead – apply the same analysis – read Christianity Unmasked

    • Fred says:

      Of course I did. Wouldn’t you critically research something in which opting for that direction would cost you everything? My life as an SDA was very comfortable. I was an up and coming teacher, writer and seminar speaker. I had a beautiful home, plenty of friends, a gorgeous wife and wonderful kids. Leaving the church cost me nearly everything. I did not take that decision lightly.

  7. Argus says:

    An atheist myself I regard all religions (such as I know anything at all about) equally.

    We find our answers where we can—and if we find one that satisfies, for us at least that’s marvellous.

    You’d love the rabbi guy in Billy Connolly’s ‘The Man Who Sued God’ …

  8. Fred says:

    Sorry you’re an atheist. That just means you do not see God in His works and have not recognized his work in your life….unless your life and every experience has been completely explainable from an atheistic POV. I believe that even atheists are capable of cognitive dissonance where their faith is concerned. As for me, I have seen and experienced things that leave no room for doubt in the supernatural in general and in the God of Abraham in particular. Best of luck! 🙂

  9. Concerned Reader says:

    To be fair to atheism, atheists are simply not convinced by so many people’s claimed “miracles,” and adopt a cautious stance in accepting such claims, as any sane person would. Take one of the main theological proofs for G-d’s existence, the first cause argument.

    if you can prove the universe had some cause, you are still very far from ascribing biblical attributes and miracles to such a cause. Any divinity can be plugged into such arguments. Miracles listed in Exodus and Joshua, such as the death of the first born, or the stopping of the sun in the sky are miracles that would have been impossible to cover up, and it’s hard to believe there is no extra biblical reference to these events, especially one of global impact.

    I don’t blame those who lack faith in light of so much horribleness in the world, including the evil that happens to the “righteous.”

    • Dina says:

      Con, I agree that it isn’t right to judge other people’s beliefs, but I think it’s fair to say that atheism requires at least as much a leap of faith as belief in a Creator God.

      Furthermore, it would be nice if people like Arkenaten would reciprocate and also kindly not judge us as dimwits, halfwits, nitwits (did I miss one?) because we do not share his belief.

      • Dina says:

        By the way, Con, Arkenaten and I have been debating the existence of God over at “Why Jews Don’t Believe in the Trinity.” Archaeology and ancient religions–your area of expertise–were raised. If you are interested, I would love to hear you weigh in.

        • Fred says:

          I addressed the archaeological point to Arke earlier. Those who believe that the Tanakh is a book of fiction, with fictional characters, fictional places and fictional events should consider what HAS been confirmed by archaeology, and perhaps withhold judgment of those parts which have not been confirmed yet. Bible characters, such as Nebuchadnezzar and King David,places such as Jericho and David’s palace, etc., were all considered “fiction” by “science” not long ago, but since have been proven legit. Even National Geographic has confirmed Hebrew writing from at least 1200 BCE, and mention of the Israelites on Egyptian pylons. One must then ask, if they are to be objective and honest, if those places and people have been confirmed, then doesn’t it stand to reason that the rest may be confirmed at a later date? I feel that is only common sense. But to say “unconfirmed by science= fairy tale” and then call people names and insult researchers you disagree with is intellectually feeble at best, dishonest at worst. it certainly is not the intellectual high ground.

          • Arkenaten says:

            You are obvoisly not familiar woth the term Historical Fiction?

            Consider it in a similar light as a Harry Potter novel being set in England and JK Rowling describes London and the Queen and maybe Hyde Park and buses and Oxford Road etc.
            These are all real, but flying broomsticks, Hogwarts and wizards are not.
            This is the Old Testament/Torah

            Adam and Eve are made up and so was Noah’s Flood and Moses and the Exodus. All fiction set upon a historic background.

            But Babylon was real as was Nebuchadnezzar. And so was Cyrus the Great.

            Do you get it?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Fred, the problem with the Archaeological record and reconciling it with the Exodus accounts is that we cannot precisely anchor the Israelite people before they were in Canaan, the dates they were in Egypt, we don’t see the presence of the uniquely monotheistic Israelite culture in Egypt, the miracles, etc. The Bible itself does not give us the adequate indicators to do a proper historical investigation, and Archaeology tells a different story from that of the Bible. (Who was Pharoah under Joseph, or Moses for example? when? Nobody in scholarship knows.)

            We do know from the Archaeological record that there were some Semitic peoples (people from the area of Canaan/Syria) occupying an ancient city called Avaris in Egypt, (the Nile Delta) where the Bible purports that the land of Goshen was located. The problems are that those people were there near the end and after the middle kingdom period, some hundreds of years before the supposed dates of the Exodus’ occurrence which most people place in the New Kingdom period under Ramses II because of the Torah’s mention of the names of cities like pithom and Ramses which Israelite people are said to have built.

            Changing the accepted Chronology would throw what we know about the rest of history out of whack, as well as cast doubt on the Torah text itself. These people in Avaris also had foreign “gods,” ie we know they were some kind of polytheistic worshipers sharing polytheistic sentiments (near as we can tell.)

            2 waves of these people Occupied Avaris in this and later years, namely, a wave of Shepherds with flocks engaging in trade, and then later, it was the capital of those known to history as the Hyksos, or “heqa khaseshet,” (called rulers from foreign lands by the Egyptians.) Even if we believed these were somehow the Israelite people, (as Josephus thought,) they had a kingdom, and ruled over the Egyptians, replacing and displacing the native Egyptian Pharoah’s and gods.

            These people were thus not slaves in the way that the Bible described. These Hyksos were rulers in Egypt. At most, (from examining bones) we can say that they suffered from very high infant mortality rates, and they also dealt with bouts of famine in the city as did any ancient society. As such, we can only make guesswork of whether they may have been enslaved. Either way, if we found that these shepherds were of Israelite origin, we would still have to explain all the discrepancies. Why are they Polytheists? Why no references to hashem? Why were they ruling in the land and not enslaved in it? Why are the Egyptians strongly present in Canaan where the Israelite people are supposed to be safe?

            http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp455-us12/2012/08/02/who-were-the-hyksos/
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus#Historicity

      • makagutu says:

        Hi Dina,
        Why is it not right to judge the beliefs of others? Why should beliefs be immune from criticism? And in the same statement where you say this you claim atheism requires as much leap of faith.

        I think you have left some. Some religious people judge atheists so harshly; they claim they are amoral, without meaning and so on. I think it is only fair they return the favour.

        • Dina says:

          Hi Mak,

          You are correct; I was imprecise with my words. I should rather have said that “it isn’t right to judge others for their beliefs.”

          I agree that it is fair to examine the beliefs of others and see if they stand up to scrutiny. Judge the beliefs, not the person.

          I agree that some people judge atheists harshly; I don’t support that. There are good people who are atheists. Although I’m sorry to say that the atheists who are visiting this blog recently have not demonstrated good will, sneering at those who are right wing or creationist.

          One more point, though. About meaning. If you are an honest atheist, you have to admit that if there is no God, if we are all accidents of evolution, then life has no meaning, or at least it has only whatever meaning Mak ascribes to it.

          • makagutu says:

            We are almost in agreement. I think there are occasions when we are justified in judging the person. Why for instance would a person claim theirs is a religion of love and does the exact opposite. This person would be judged, and rightly so, a hypocrite.

            Do you mean there are atheists on this particular thread whom haven’t been charitable in their comments? In all honesty, I haven’t seen one. I may have to reread the comments.

            Your question implies I could be a dishonest atheist. And you say we are not charitable? What meaning is there if we posit a god?

          • Dina says:

            Mak, I’m not sure I follow all your questions, but I will try to answer as best as I can.

            Ark has expressed great disdain for people who believe Moses was a real person. He named creationists (I haven’t looked them up yet), and then called them nitwits, halfwits, and dimwits. He says it is justified because true, but that is his opinion–it is not a fact–and name calling is uncivil. He has dismissed the views of Schroeder without giving him a fair hearing just because he is a creationist. He has used bad language, and when I called him out on it, instead of apologizing he used the non-sequitur argument that the Torah contains descriptions of violent acts.

            John has snorted at the idea of my presenting a video discussing global warming because it was produced by a right wing radio talk show host.

            So far, I have not been impressed by the manners of your friends.

            I agree with you that if a person doesn’t practice what he preaches he is a hypocrite–if it is habitual. For example, I would not call a hypocrite one who holds that honesty is an ideal to strive for but who occasionally falls short. A person who preaches about honesty but is a habitual liar and a corrupt businessman is a hypocrite.

            However, I wasn’t talking about individuals. I was talking about a person as morally and/or intellectually inferior because he holds differing beliefs.

            I did not mean to imply that you are dishonest. But I do believe that honest atheists will admit that life inherently has no purpose, no meaning. How can it?

          • makagutu says:

            Dina, we are in agreement on who we would call hypocrite.

            As to my friends; first Ark, I think it would be fair on your part to maybe consider the claims of the creationists and decide if they aren’t halfwits. I do think this description is accurate. You may disagree. And further, Ark has said severally on his blog or elsewhere that most of those who claim the historicity of Moses haven’t studied anything critical of that view. I do understand where he is coming from.

            I would be similarly skeptical to listen to a radio host on global warming. If this radio host is anything like the ones I hear over here, then I wouldn’t take them seriously even for a minute.

            There are two things here; life has one purpose, if any- to propagate itself. That is how I see it.
            Globally there is no grand meaning for each of us to chase, but each person finds what is meaningful for them, something to live for.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, that is what I said: that life has whatever meaning one wishes to ascribe to it in the view of the atheist. You are an honest man, thank you.

            I do not think there is any good reason to sneer at people or call them names even if you think they haven’t done their due diligence. Even if Ark thinks that Ken Ham and the others are wrong, he is wrong to name call.

            It doesn’t do his cause any good and only damages his credibility because everyone knows that if you’re losing a debate then the only thing left to do is attack your opponent’s character or person.

          • makagutu says:

            If you could allow me to ask, what meaning does life hold for the believer? what purpose and how does this make the believer’s life better than the atheist’s?

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            First, I would say that religion or belief in God does not necessarily make the life of its adherents better than the lives of atheists. I have no way to measure that, and in any case it’s irrelevant. If there is a God Who created us, then we are obligated to serve Him whether or not it makes our lives better.

            Having said that, I came across an article that intrigued me but I didn’t want to pay for it :). Maybe you will ;). It’s about whether religious people are happier. To me the question is not really relevant and I’m not sure how accurately this can be measured, but here it is:

            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/healthy-skepticism/

            Second, belief in God in my view gives life meaning because life is sacred because we are created in God’s image. It gives life meaning to know that are not no different from animals. It gives life meaning to know there is justice (i.e. reward for good deeds/punishment for bad deeds) either here on earth or in the hereafter. In other words, it gives life meaning to know that Hitler and his victims do not suffer the same fate, oblivion. It gives life meaning to serve Someone beyond yourself. Etc.

            You might say that all this is a human construct to give life meaning because there is no God, fine. But at any rate, belief in God gives life meaning other than what each person himself ascribes to it–which is also important, by the way.

            It’s a pleasure to talk to you, Mak, despite our differences.

          • makagutu says:

            I don’t know if you have read Brothers Karamazov? You don’t have to read the whole book. Just look for Grand Inquisitor. It is an interesting discussion on the issue of justice.
            I don’t think I agree with you. Most believers think we are different from animals. The atheist on the other hand believes we are all animals. I don’t know whether you ever ask yourself why if a person believes god has a plan for them do we have miserable and bored believers? Or why a believer would be praying for this or that which could be in direct opposition to god’s will?
            In short, if I get your meaning, if god exists we are to be its slaves and that is the meaning of life?

          • Dina says:

            Mak, you wrote, “I don’t think I agree with you. Most believers think we are different from animals. The atheist on the other hand believes we are all animals.” That is what I said, but I used a double negative and I think threw you off. Here’s what I wrote, with emphasis added, “It gives life meaning to know that are not no different from animals.” Sorry for not being more clear.

            I will list your questions and answer them as best I can:

            “Why if a person believes god has a plan for them do we have miserable and bored believers?”

            Belief in God is not a guarantee against boredom and misery. I have never heard this claim made before by believers. (I speak for Jewish believers.)

            “Why a believer would be praying for this or that which could be in direct opposition to god’s will?”

            Fair question. If you believe in God, then it behooves you to find out what is God’s will for you, which religion is the truth, etc., to the best of your ability. Some people think their will must be the same as God’s and so pray for God to fulfill their will rather than the other way around. That is their choice.

            “If god exists we are to be its slaves and that is the meaning of life?”

            According to the Jewish tradition, we owe nothing less than obedience to the One Who loved us into existence in the first place. We believe that God is loving and gave us commandments that benefit us, not Him. He does not need us; there is nothing we can give Him that is not already His. The commandments in the Bible are indeed meaningful to us.

            Of course, we also believe that God gave us free will to choose whether we will obey His commandments or not.

          • makagutu says:

            If it can be argued that the search for meaning in this absurd universe is what leads to misery, one would logically expect the person who believes there is a grand meaning to be happy and settled.
            So one first has to know the right religion before they can know the will of the gods.
            I wouldn’t want to start a discussion on freewill now.

          • Dina says:

            Mak, I don’t follow what you’re saying but thanks for responding.

          • makagutu says:

            What exactly don’t you follow, I would be more than willing to explain

          • Dina says:

            If the search for meaning makes you miserable, then if you find it you’re happy? I don’t understand that argument.

            I need more time to ponder, my brain is beginning to shut down. It’s getting late in my part of the world and I am already sleep deprived :).

          • makagutu says:

            I don’t think that is what I said. Many people, believers included, appear to me to lead miserable lifes or complain about lack of meaning in their lives. You would expect, logically, that if such a person who believes there is a god, and a grand plan for their lives, that their lives would be much different from the rest of us who have no such belief.
            Sleep well

          • Dina says:

            Okay, Mak, I think I see what you are saying, but I disagree with your premise. A personal emotional or spiritual experience is not a standard of proof for the truth of a particular religious belief system.

            If someone tells me that finding a particular religion lifted them out of drug addiction or they found peace in their heart or whatever, I would tell them that an emotional or spiritual experience cannot be the starting point in determining the truth of their religion. Their decision must be based on reason. If someone were to tell me that religious people are miserable, I would find that irrelevant. If God is real and we must obey Him, then we must do so even if it made us miserable.

            Does that make sense?

          • makagutu says:

            Dina you know I agree with you that a personal experience is not proof of the truth of a particular belief. Many a believer want us to think their religion true because of their experiences. My argument is not even about experience though. It is on the question of meaning. How would we tell a believer who has found the right god and the meaning for their life? What would we measure?
            If god were real and such belief made us miserable, then the question of whether god is good would be relevant and what good means when referring to god would be a big question.

          • Dina says:

            Thanks for clarifying, Mak.

            Some religious people find meaning and purpose through their faith. Others are miserable, aimless, and drifting. The same is true for atheists. Some find meaning and purpose in their lives; others are bitter and angry.

            Why do you think that is?

          • makagutu says:

            Because there is no grand meaning for all of us to follow. That is how I see it

          • Dina says:

            Interesting, Mak. I see it as a choice. You can choose to be happy and find meaning in your faith or anything else, or you can choose to be unhappy.

            Allow me to return to your question on meaning: “How would we tell a believer who has found the right god and the meaning for their life? What would we measure?”

            We can’t tell and it’s not measurable because it’s subjective. Experiencing meaning in your life is a subjective, emotional experience. It cannot be used to tell who is the right God. A lot of people find meaning and purpose for their lives by joining ISIS. Others found that meaning in Nazism. If God is good, then this cannot be the measure.

            There must therefore be a different way to discover which deity is the right one, or whether there even is one in the first place.

            You also asked: “If god were real and such belief made us miserable, then the question of whether god is good would be relevant and what good means when referring to god would be a big question.”

            I agree. My point was that whether belief made you unhappy or happy is less important than the question of whether there is a God. First we need to establish whether there is one, then we can talk about meaning (which I will still consider unimportant in the grand scheme of things).

          • makagutu says:

            Dina, have you met a person who has chosen to be unhappy? I honestly haven’t met one unhappy person who chose to be happy, maybe I haven’t met many people.

            I like when you say each person finds their own meaning; some by joining ISIS. Don’t you think this is similar to what I have been saying that there is really no grand meaning and each person has to find their own in this absurd existence

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            I have much to say in response to this as I have made studying happiness a bit of a hobby, but I am going to be super busy today going into two weeks of major Jewish holidays. I don’t know when I’ll have the time because after the holidays I have to finish the new edition for one of my books for which my publisher gave me very little time, as he wants to get it to the bookstores ASAP.

            I might have time to jump in later today, we’ll see.

            Thanks for your patience!

          • makagutu says:

            No problem. I am patient any time you write a response, let me know even if it is after a month

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            I have a lot to say on happiness but I’ll limit it to this link from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/09/scientific-proof-that-you_n_4384433.html

            And also quickly to say that I used to be a very negative person and through conscious effort and practicing the discipline of gratitude (more on what I mean by that another time), I became a much more positive and happier person. I became more even-tempered and serene. I not only know this through my own experience but through common sense observation of people. Some people who have pretty good lives complain incessantly and are always griping while others who have every right to be bitter are serene and cheerful. My aunt for example lost her entire family (including extended) except for one sister in the Holocaust. Then she lost all but one of her children to a genetic disease of which it turned out both she and her husband were carriers (but the testing and prevention were not yet known). Then she lost her husband to cancer. She always had a smile on her face and I never once heard her complain about anything.

            Some people are by nature cheerier than others, but that doesn’t explain my aunt. And I know it doesn’t explain me, because I know I changed through my own efforts.

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina,
            Let me know when you have time to get back on this, I will have a lot to say about this article you linked then.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            Sorry to take so long, but here’s a question that I think cuts to the heart of the issue. Do you believe people have free will?

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina hope you have been well.
            No, I don’t believe people have freewill. But while on it, I would like to hear your definition of freewill because we may be talking about different things

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            I agree with dictionary.com’s definition: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/free-will?s=t

            free will
            noun
            1.
            free and independent choice; voluntary decision:
            You took on the responsibility of your own free will.
            2.
            Philosophy. the doctrine that the conduct of human beings expresses personal choice and is not simply determined by physical or divine forces.

          • Dina says:

            Do you agree with that definition, Mak?

          • makagutu says:

            We can work with the second definition

          • Dina says:

            Okay, Mak, so what causes people to behave as they do? Why do some addicts free themselves from their addiction and others don’t? Why do some people turn tragedy into an opportunity to help others while some fall into despair? Why do some people murder and steal and others don’t? What causes people to choose one profession over another, assuming they have talents and skills to choose among several options? What causes some people to turn away from religion and others to turn to religion?

            I am much interested in getting your thoughts on this.

            Thanks,
            Dina

          • makagutu says:

            Many things cause people to act as they do. The environment both physical an mental, genetic makeup, training and so on. And this applies to all the groups of questions you asked

          • Dina says:

            And we have no choice?

          • makagutu says:

            We have a choice[s] , that is, awareness of alternatives but tells us nothing about what we will do

          • Dina says:

            Mak, do we have the ability to choose among alternatives, or is the feeling that we have free will an illusion?

          • makagutu says:

            It is an illusion

          • Dina says:

            Mak, just to be sure I understand you: if I commit a theft, although I might be under the illusion that I could have acted differently, I really lack the ability to have chosen a different alternative (i.e., not steal). Am I understanding you correctly?

          • makagutu says:

            You understand me quite well. What do you think?

          • Dina says:

            I think I would like to probe you a little on this concept. In your view, it would be silly and meaningless to condemn anyone for heinous acts because he could not have acted differently (like Hitler and the Nazis, to pick an obvious example) or to praise anyone for making a tremendous success of himself despite enormous odds (like Ben Carson). Do you agree?

          • makagutu says:

            By all means Dina.
            I wouldn’t call it silly. But I generally agree.

          • Dina says:

            So by extension, people who believe in God cannot choose to believe differently. People who do not believe in God cannot choose to believe differently. Is that right?

          • makagutu says:

            Did you choose to believe as you do?

          • Dina says:

            We have a different idea of free will, so I am trying to understand what you mean when you say it’s an illusion. Did you choose to be an atheist? Does anyone? Can anyone choose to believe or not to believe in a deity, or is the ability to choose always an illusion?

          • makagutu says:

            I thought we had a working definition of freewill. I haven’t offered to change it or modify it.
            If I may ask, can you at this moment chose to be a Buddhist? What will stop you?

          • Dina says:

            I’m sorry, Mak, I wasn’t clear. We did indeed agree on a definition. I meant to say, we disagree on whether humans have free will or not, and I’m trying to understand what that means to you. So you’re saying, also in the area of religion versus non-religion, the ability to choose is an illusion. Do I have that right?

          • makagutu says:

            Not just on the area of religion- the area of beliefs. You can’t choose to believe A or B unless you are convicted of the truth of A or B. And where you are not convinced, you suspend judgement

          • Dina says:

            “You can’t choose to believe A or B unless you are convicted of the truth of A or B.” But you can choose to believe A or B if you are convinced of the truth of A or B?

          • makagutu says:

            But you will already be convinced, there will be no choosing. Belief will follow automatically

          • Dina says:

            If people believe what they are convinced of, is it pointless to try to convince them otherwise? For example, after much study, I am convinced that Judaism is the truth. Do I have the ability to choose to believe differently?

          • makagutu says:

            It is not pointless. You are challenging their convictions. If you are good at it, they may just change.
            If I could convince of the truth of say Buddhism and you really were convinced, belief would follow as a matter of course

          • Dina says:

            Okay, now I get what you’re saying. If something is crystal clear to you then you have no choice but to act on it. Thanks for the clarity.

          • makagutu says:

            You are welcome.
            Any further questions

          • Dina says:

            I’m interested in clarifying the areas wherein we agree and disagree. I do agree with you that in situations where the truth is obvious then belief follows automatically.

            I do think people have free will, but I also don’t think they have absolute free will. I also agree with you that physical factors like environment will influence a person’s choices. But I do not think this means that he has no ability to choose whatsoever. For example, you might present the same evidence to two different people. One person will see it and act on it even though it means making enormous and possibly painful life changes. The other one will refuse to even acknowledge it, unwilling to face the implications. I think each one of these people did have a choice—and it may not necessarily have been automatic. It may have been arrived at after a long period of study and reflection and reasoning it out.

            Does that make sense to you?

            Also, are you able to refrain from condemning or praising people based on their behavior since their ability to choose does not exist?

            Do you refrain from praising or punishing your children (if you have any) to teach them good behavior? For example, if the teacher calls to complain about disrespect or not doing their classwork, would you explain to the teacher that they cannot help how they behave. Their choice is simply an illusion?

            Is it even fair to expect people to adhere to any moral standards, if their ability to choose is an illusion?

            Okay, that’s a lot of questions for one post :). I may have to drop out for a couple of days, but I’m looking forward to getting your thoughts on this.

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina, hope you have had a good week.
            I don’t believe we have any freewill.
            Presenting the same circumstances and expecting the same result is to ambitious. These two people are different and could have likely have had different experiences. I will give an example; when there is a fire a firefighter may lose his life trying to save lives another person may just stand and watch. They are faced with the same problem; a fire but they react differently because of their training among other things.
            Praise and reproach are only useful to the extent that others may learn from it.
            Yes, it is fair to expect people to behave morally because morals are part of the social/ mental environment they live in. Morals do not exist in isolation and only make sense in groups. To a person living alone, what morals would they need?
            Let me know where I am not clear, I will attempt to clarify.
            Be well

            .

          • Dina says:

            Mak, what I don’t understand is the idea of holding a being without free will morally accountable for his actions. Isn’t it like holding a lion accountable for killing another lion? How is it fair be accountable if we lack the ability to choose our actions?

          • makagutu says:

            There is nowhere I have said such a thing. Have I?

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            No, you did not say that; I was asking you what you think. I will phrase the question differently. People lack the ability to choose whether or not to adhere to a moral code. Therefore, is it not pointless to insist on imposing one, and if so, what is the point?

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina,
            The only reason I can see for society removing offenders from the general population is to protect itself. Moral mores/ codes aid survival and life or the desire to live is I think the strongest desire among animals. Being social beings, I think it follows that there will agreed codes of conduct.
            On your original question, I don’t believe anyone is morally responsible. I don’t see the utility of adding morally to responsibility other than the desire to make them worthy of punishment.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Mak,

            Moral codes are only useful insofar as they aid in survival. Do I have that right?

            Do moral codes aid in survival among species other than homo sapiens? If yes, can you explain how? If not, why did only humans figure out this way to survive?

            In a repressive society, is it better to go along to get along—i.e., survive—or to stand up for freedom for the benefit of future generations, and if so why? For example, should the Chinese revolt to create a freer society at the risk of massive loss of life, or should they maintain the status quo in order to survive, despite the risk that for generations to come the Chinese people will be repressed?

            If I have it right that moral codes are only to aid in survival, then how do we decide what type of offenders should be put away and for how long? For example, should only murderers be imprisoned to keep society safe? Is it right or fair to expect people not to engage in crimes that do not result in loss of life, such as theft or tax evasion or unfair business practices?

            Do people have the ability to choose whether they will be rude, cut in line, smack their kids out of anger (not spanking for disciplinary purposes), and if not, is it wrong then to expect standards of behavior that do not aid in survival, such as good manners?

            There are a lot of programs to protect children from trauma and to penalize those who inflict it. Since children can survive trauma and still reproduce when they reach adulthood, are these programs pointless? Why would we want to protect children from trauma if there is no practical survival outcome? Is it because we lack the ability to choose not to want to?

            Thanks for answering all my questions.

          • makagutu says:

            Other animals for as far I can tell are far advanced than we are. I am yet to meet a herd of cattle ganging up to attack the next village. But more to this, to ask why other animals don’t behave as we do, would in my view be comparable to calling a fish stupid because it can’t swim.
            In a repressive society, the rebel suffers more than the thief because he represents an idea and ideas have longer lives. But while it may good to revolt, you shouldn’t die at it, you could be wrong and it may be too late.
            Maybe we should start by having more equitable societies. This way I think we reduce the occasions for theft and then we have only murderers to deal with and we can send them on exile.
            Most of those who smack children don’t know better. They can’t help it and you find some regret it almost immediately. I don’t think anyone chooses what to be. They become by acting.
            Nope. I said mental environment is important in character development just as genes and physical environment among others.
            Most mammals care for their young ones. We are not doing anything out of the ordinary

          • Dina says:

            This is an interesting response that raises yet more questions. I need to think about it. But in the meantime, here’s an interesting opinion article from the New York Times arguing against the scientific case that free will is an illusion.

            http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the-death-of-free-will/?_r=0

          • makagutu says:

            I have skimmed through the article. I like to point out that the studies it links to at the beginning have not been reproduced and are therefore not good argument against the freewill skeptic.
            The definition of freewill used in that article is meant to confound the reader. I will write a response to it in future on my blog when I have access to my computer.

          • makagutu says:

            I haven’t written a response yet but since you shared a link with me, you could read this one too. The comments are very interesting too.
            https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/does-disbelief-in-free-will-make-people-cheat/

          • Dina says:

            Thanks, Mak. Interesting article, but doesn’t really prove anything one way or another. I like Con’s view of limited free will. It makes logical sense to me. Our respective positions to do not provide any easy answers to the question of free will. But to say we have zero free will or absolute free will are both radical positions that don’t make sense to me.

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina,
            I thought it was great reading and it deals with the two issues raised in the article you sent me; failure to replicate the studies and redefining freewill to confuse.
            I didn’t intend it as proof of anything. Proof is for mathematics.
            And the only way we can have some freewill is if the definition is so changed to not make any sense anymore

          • Dina says:

            Fair enough, Mak. I missed the citation of that study in the article I linked. I think he makes a good case for the ability to choose in situations where you are consciously deliberating on making a choice, though.

          • makagutu says:

            Hi Dina,
            I would like an example of such situations. Could you describe one and maybe we use it for discussion

          • Dina says:

            Sure, here are a few examples.

            You’ve just finished a huge grocery shopping. You strap your baby into her car seat and load up your car with groceries. You get to the last bag and realize that you left an item in the bottom of your shopping cart that you neglected to put on the conveyor belt. You take a few seconds to think. Your baby is already in her car seat, she’s cranky and tired, you haven’t eaten breakfast yet and just want to get home, the item is no big loss to the supermarket, what’s the big deal; but on the other hand, taking an item from a store without paying for it is stealing, if everyone stole just one small item each time they shopped at the store it would really hurt the supermarket, if you were the storeowner you would want people to go back and pay for items they accidentally left the store with.

            Whatever you decide, you had a choice, you deliberated for a few minutes, added up the pros and cons of doing the right thing versus doing the wrong, and chose one of two options: take the item back, or load it into your car and leave. If you would have arrived at your final decision regardless of the thought process you undertook, that is one powerful illusion and I’d like to know how science proves it to be so.

            Here’s another example: you’ve been accepted to three colleges. One’s more expensive but prestigious and so might land you a better job when you graduate but it’s very far from your family, one’s very close and very low-cost so you won’t have to worry about paying student loans for the rest of your life; one’s super expensive but offers exactly the kind of courses you want to take to further your career. You might spend a few weeks or a few months deliberating, weighing the pros and cons, talking to people and getting their input, and so on, until you come to a final decision.

            Last example (I presented something similar to Tilde): you’re walking along the seashore and you see someone in distress in the water. You start wading in to help, then you recognize the person as your incredibly nasty neighbor who makes your life hell. Assuming you have a few minutes to think, you deliberate: If you walk away, there will be one less miserable excuse for a human being on the planet and no one will be the wiser. On the other hand, it really isn’t right to walk away and let someone die. If the situation were exactly reversed, you would hope your neighbor would save your life.

            Oh, no, wait, here is a good one. Your teenager has just done something truly outrageous and you are fuming. You’re about to react angrily, but you stop and think for a minute. You can either punish him right now, and since your judgment is impaired by your anger it probably won’t be good, whatever you do (for example, you might punish too harshly, or say things you will regret later), or you decide not to react and deal with it when you calm down, and give yourself time to come up with a plan to teach your child, whether through consequences or other methods, the correct behavior.

            These are of course hypothetical scenarios off the top of my head, but these types of situations come up a lot. I usually reread what I write before sending it off but am too rushed, please forgive typos and wordiness.

          • makagutu says:

            Don’t worry about typos, I may not notice them.
            You have given me so many examples, I am spoilt for choice. Any time when one deliberates, it is not that they are exercising their freewill but are faced with motives that have almost the same weight. They are undecided.

          • Dina says:

            They are undecided until they make a choice, no? This process of reasoning it out—is that an illusion? Has science proven to be mere illusion those decisions reached after conscious deliberation?

          • Dina says:

            Yes, but once they act they’ve chosen from among a set of alternatives. I have not seen that science has studied this process of deliberation and conscious choosing and concluded that it’s an illusion. To say it’s an illusion without evidence makes no sense; besides, it defies common sense, our lived experience, and observation of real life.

            That’s why I don’t think free will is starkly black and white (either zero free will or absolute free will).There are nuances; that doesn’t mean we have completely redefined free will.

          • tildeb says:

            Dina, you explain that “once they act they’ve chosen from among a set of alternatives. I have not seen that science has studied this process of deliberation and conscious choosing and concluded that it’s an illusion.”

            I’ve been careful to refer to these kinds of observations about choice as the appearance of ‘free’ will. Note the emphasis on ‘free’. It is this notion that has been brought into question by a significant number of peer-reviewed scientific results in this new pursuit called ‘neuroscience’. For example, from the National Academy of Science we have a study by Soon et al, that demonstrate conclusively that, “Our results suggest that unconscious preparation of free choices is not restricted to motor preparation. Instead, decisions at multiple scales of abstraction evolve from the dynamics of preceding brain activity.” ( source )

            The point here is that long before we even recognize that we are undertaking what we think is the directed and/or guided consideration for a ‘free’ choice, our brains are already busy – without some other agency or guidance or direction from our executive function – preparing which circuitry will be provide the input to be used. That is why identifying activity in the certain areas of the brain before – sometimes more than a dozen seconds before some ‘choice’ has been offered – has a robust correlation with specific choices. This is key, in that the predictive nature of this early identification is an argument against any ‘freedom’ we actually exercise. This evidence draws into question just how ‘free’ we are to make choices, and this is why I keep saying we are quite comfortable going along with the appearance of ‘free’ will because it gives us the illusion of our will being in the driver’s seat – busy organizing and guiding our choice decisions when in fact it’s already been done by unguided chemically activated brain circuitry – rather than feel rather uncomfortable that our brains are actually doing this job regardless of any ‘will’ we think we are bringing to the table.

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, does the science show that the decision has been completely made before it reaches the conscious mind, or does it show that the brain starts preparing for the decision making process?

          • makagutu says:

            What are these nuances. Give me an example

          • Dina says:

            Mak, the black-and-white position that I’m seeing you argue for/against is for zero free will with the whole conscious part of our part being an illusion when it comes to choosing among alternatives against absolute free will with the ability to consciously think through split-second reactions as well as the ability to deliberate.

            Here’s the more nuanced position:

            For split-second reactions and reflexes and things we do routinely, we don’t have free will. So, no, we don’t consider every morning whether we should walk down the stairs or throw ourselves out the window (unless we are contemplating suicide). We just walk down the stairs without consciously thinking about it.

            When my son’s hair caught fire at the age of two (long story) I didn’t stop to ponder. My body reacted long before my conscious brain caught up—I flew to his side and beat out the flames with my bare hands—and so swift was my reaction that besides for a bald spot where his hair was completely burned away, neither of us suffered even minor burns. Lucky it was that I didn’t have free will at the moment!

            On the other hand, when it comes to matters of deliberation—buying a car or a house, choosing a spouse, choosing a school, deciding how much to give to charity, deciding whether to go back and pay for that item at the bottom of your shopping—there we do have free will, although I will argue that it is still not absolute. Many factors influence (though they don’t necessarily determine) our decisions, such as our upbringing, personality, and intelligence. But we still have some ability to exercise a choice.

            Sometimes you might make up your mind to do or not do something, and the next day or week or month you think it through and change your mind.

            If you made a decision that you later think is wrong or immoral, you may experience regret or remorse.

            That is quite an illusion. And a tremendous waste of energy and emotion—what could be the evolutionary purpose of a powerful illusion that afflicts every single human being? Even you! I say this because I’ll hazard a guess that although you “know” that free will is an illusion, you still take the time to deliberate before making important decisions (such as which house to buy, what to say in response to these comments, and so on).

          • makagutu says:

            What to say in response to this comments has nothing to do with freewill whatsoever.
            Regret is a useless emotion. You feel guilt but if the circumstances remain the same, you’d do the same thing.
            You feel regret simply because one thinks they would have acted otherwise.

          • makagutu says:

            and in fact as long they are undecided, they will not act

          • Dina, I read through UR 3 scenarios, and couldn’t help but finding myself listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct my steps… God gives all of us a moral compass to give us a start in the right direction… But the Christian has (in my humble opinion) the advantage of their lifelong Helper…Comforter…and built in Guide for life with the Holy Spirit to direct our path…

            Can’t help but throw in some scripture written by the wise Solomon to high-lite this concept…

            Proverbs 3:5-6… Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (NKJV)

            Have a great day !!! I must end any responses till later, so as to get some stuff done for the afternoon…

            bruce

          • Bruce If you are only using the words that people are posting here as cues for your preaching then please do not come back

          • Dina says:

            By the way, Mak, although I believe humans do have free will, I do not think it is a simple concept to grasp. Ultimately, I have questions about both philosophies, although free will makes the most sense to me.

          • makagutu says:

            I agree it isn’t a simple concept and it has a lot of implications in how we treat each other.

          • Dina says:

            The firefighter analogy is a good one. Very clear, thanks.

          • 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

            test

            >

          • Dina, I don’t want to butt in here…but I can tell U before and after my salvation, why people do as they do…

            bruce

          • Dina says:

            Bruce, I’m much more interested in how you resolve the contradiction I presented to you between your faith and the Torah, which you persist in ignoring. Thanks.

          • Dina says:

            Also more to say about meaning but another time. Thanks for your patience and kind courtesy!

          • makagutu says:

            Looking forward to it

          • Dina says:

            Hopefully more tomorrow, Mak.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I have stated on many occasions I have no problems, per se with deism.

      • “kindly not judge us as dimwits, halfwits, nitwits (did I miss one?) because we do not share his belief.” Dina, I see U must have posted some positive Christian remarks on Ark’s site !! You did miss one… Ark and Arch call me a “D”… Could be they haven’t used this obscene name on U because U are a female ??

        Blessings in Christ, bruce

  10. Kathy Han says:

    Death is not ATONE for Sin. It’s not concept of Judaism. and Couldn’t be. Because HaShem already stated each person will die by his own sin. This is concrete rule of this Universe. I believe it and absolutely G-d’s ruling this Universe. Even though in view of someone there might be death of innocent, but, it’s only their sight for out figure. G-d knows and sees only inside of each human and each animal.
    There is no death to atone for sin. Very Clear by HaShem own speaking through Ezekiel.

  11. Concerned Reader says:

    but I think it’s fair to say that atheism requires at least as much a leap of faith as belief in a Creator God.

    I wouldn’t say it takes faith at all. If anything, any sense of what could be called by the religious person “faith,” for atheists, comes from daily experienced awe of reality and its mysterious nature, not from something external.

    Atheism in fact can be very apathetic to the whole faith or mystic concept, (depending on the person asked,) ie most atheists adopting live and let live attitudes. Its all the other stuff (like when the religious person claims an absolute knowledge) that gets in the way. Atheism is the absence of a belief in deities, so there isn’t really a position to have “faith” in.

    • Dina says:

      We mean two different things when we use the word faith, Con. It requires the willing suspension of disbelief to accept that the world sprang into being on its own–at least as much as to accept that there is a God.

      That was the point I was trying to make.

    • Concerned Reader you are describing agnosticism which is a position of not knowing – atheism is a conviction that there is no deity – although the word is often not used this way

      • tildeb says:

        atheism is a conviction that there is no deity

        False.

        Atheism means non belief in gods or a god. That’s it.

        You are attempting to play bait and switch here: magically turning non belief into a kind of belief you call ‘conviction’. That’s like trying to turn a fish into another kind of bicycle by defining anything that moves a kind of bicycle. It’s no just silly bit rather dishonest. Non belief is the absence of belief and not some version of a belief.

        As for the reasons why atheists don’t believe in gods or a god, the fundamental one is that there is no compelling reasons to do so… in exactly the same way that you have no compelling reasons to believe in Quetzalcoatl or Balberith. If you had such reasons, you would believe but in almost every area of life except religion, you first expect reality to offer up evidence around which you then form a testable belief and give little if any thought to stuff you don’t believe in. You have no prior ‘conviction’ that your dwelling has undergone transubstantiation during your absence and is now a toad, and if someone were to suggest as much you’d rightly scoff because you have the same amount of compelling evidence in the claim’s favour from reality as religious believers do in their various gods and demons. That is… none.

        The reasons why believers believe is because they are taught to do so. First they believe and then they impose the god hypothesis on reality. The testing that follows is absolutely typical: they try to utilize confirmation bias to pick out any bits that appear to support the belief while, at the same time, dismiss any and all compelling evidence against the belief. That’s why you define atheism the way you do: because it aids you is presenting your religious beliefs as if equivalently reasonable. They’re not. They are beliefs imposed on reality that by doctrine then detaches reality from adjudicating these beliefs held about it. It’s an epistemological failure… if we are actually concerned with what’s true about reality but a champion if we want to elevate our beliefs to be what determines reality. Of course, in medical terminology, this practice is called ‘delusion’.

        • Dina says:

          The idea that the universe formed itself out of nothing requires at least as much a leap of faith as the idea of an agency causing the universe to evolve. You also would not accept the proposition that computers and cars could assemble themselves out of a scrapyard over billions of years, and these are much less complex than, say, the human system.

          I’m making this point generally, not addressing it to any of the atheist trolls in particular. I have no more stomach for their nastiness. In my opinion Rabbi Blumenthal has been kinder and more gracious than they deserve by allowing them to post their vitriol couched in obscene language on his serious website.

          He has further been gracious in allowing them to post, being that this conversation violates the site’s comment policy, which is to stick to the topic. This is not a counter-atheist website.

          It’s like visiting a cooking blog and insisting on talking about soccer: rude.

          • tildeb says:

            Dina, I’m not here to call you names but simply wanted to correct an all too common misrepresentation you wrote. Rather than recognize the point I raised, you now veer off into cosmology. You say with equitable charm,

            The idea that the universe formed itself out of nothing requires at least as much a leap of faith as the idea of an agency causing the universe to evolve.

            This demonstrates two things:

            The first is that you don’t understand some of the basic ideas of physics (your presumption that there was ‘nothing’ to begin with is yours and not physics, and your assumption that there was a later development when time itself had not yet begun reinforces your presumptive misunderstanding). The second is that you certainly don’t understand evolution and why it is true. You seem not to care.

            This indicates to me that your correctable ignorance – a state we have all shared at some point – is not a good basis on which to then assign ‘faith’ to those who have corrected their ignorance with knowledge. This accusation you make is a tactic you then lace with pejoratives about all atheists who offer you a means to first point out and then attempt to alter your presumptive ignorance. This is not trolling. Neither is your response helpful nor respectful.

            Atheists have very good reasons for not believing as you do. These reasons – adduced from reality – are not equivalent to some faith-based belief in that they have been arbitrated by reality to deserve more confidence than beliefs that are incompatible with how we know reality operates. I sincerely hope you decide to find out what those reasons may be in order to judge for yourself. But replacing that inquiry with presumptions that are factually wrong is not a good start.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Tilde,

            I respect atheists who believe what they believe (perhaps they would prefer to say “who know what they know”) based on an honest and objective examination of the evidence. It does not bother me at all that some people do not believe in God. I was not specifically addressing you here; I made that clear. Some of the atheists who have been commenting recently—the noisiest ones—have been trolling. That is evident from the disdain dripping from their words, their refusal to address a point head on but instead call the poster names, their obscene language in some cases, and the anti-religious bigotry evident in their words.

            I have no problem with a fair discussion, either. But while it does not bother me that people like Ark and Arch don’t believe in God, it seems to bother them terribly that I do. And they have expressed that most unkindly. I am trying to present the idea that good and honest and well-meaning people can respectfully disagree.

            I do not see how you answered my argument. I think it is a convenient response to dismiss an argument by saying that the one who presented is simply ignorant—you need to show why the argument is fallacious. Gerald Schroeder is an Orthodox Jewish physicist—so it would be safe to assume he knows something of physics—and he wrote a book called Genesis and the Big Bang. This book shows why belief in a Creator God and the Torah is not incompatible with science. I found the book convincing, but I read it too long ago to give you a brief overview. At any rate, I do not expect you to agree, and that is truly fine with me.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, cosmologist (who, it would be safe to assume, knows something of physics), author, and science communicator, had this to say:

            “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes on.”

          • tildeb says:

            Sorry… that yourpharisefriend wrote.

        • Dina says:

          One more point for today:

          Ancient pathogens (as in 30,000 years old) have been found to be more complex than their modern counterparts.

          From http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/scientists-reanimate-30000-year-old-giant-virus-found-frozen-ancient-permafrost

          “These ancient viruses are also more complex than many modern ones. For instance, M. sibericum has more than 500 genes, and some other giant prehistoric viruses have been found with an excess of 2,500 genes. By contrast, the modern Influenza A virus has only eight genes. So studying these ancient viruses could also provide valuable hints about virus evolution.”

          Evolution going backwards?

        • Tildem, I absolutely disagree with this statement…”The reasons why believers believe is because they are taught to do so.” Becoming a true believer (a redeemed child of God, as a born again Christian) is not something one learns how to do… We are all dead in our trespasses from birth…and it is totally God’s decision to draw the unbeliever in…as they are presented the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (See the link in the “About” section of my blog)…and believe with saving faith in Christ (also a gift of God – Ephesians 2:8-9)…seeking Him to become Lord an personal Savior of their life…

          There are Christians (in their minds only) who believe they must learn and fulfill all these works done in the name of the Lord, to be justified in God’s eyes… But the Bible clearly teaches that this works based salvation won’t get you into heaven when U die… Jesus warns us of this false Gospel in Matthew 7:21-23…

          Being filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation is not a learned experience, it is God’s grace, and is a gift from God, and will truly transform a new believers life in every aspect… It is a change (regeneration) of the heart that is truly filled with the fullness of Christ, giving one a joy that must be experienced to be believed…John 15:11-12…

          • tildeb says:

            Well, if it’s as you say and it’s God’s grace that selects you over not just me – a highly worthy individual, if I don’t say so myself – then how on earth can you look a fervent past believer in the eye and tell them that there pain-filled journey away from faith was somehow their fault when God could so easily have intervened at any time and alleviated this unnecessary suffering?

            I think your presumption here is remarkably callous and incredibly mean-spirited if you have any inkling of the pain so many past believers have had to traverse… even if you don’t see it, filled to the brim as you are with your pious self-assurance that you are correct.

          • I think your presumption here is remarkably callous and incredibly mean-spirited if you have any inkling of the pain so many past believers have had to traverse… even if you don’t see it, filled to the brim as you are with your pious self-assurance that you are correct.

            I am sorry for your belief that I am callous and mean-spirited…but I do feel sadness and empathy for all of U like Violet and Peter… I don’t know UR personal experiences… I can only reveal what God has done in my own life…

            My pious self-assurance of my salvation stems from the changed life God has given me…and I give Him all the praise and the glory for His grace and longsuffering for patiently waiting until I was almost 52 to save me…

            I am called to spend time here to share the love of Christ living in me and the truth with as much love as I can muster…with all of those who for whatever reason have not been filled with the Holy Spirit like I am… Praise God !! I am no better than any other human being, except for God’s grace He has given to me…

            I still sin, just like any other man…(including the Pope by the way)…And I must continually confess and repent of any sins to remain in sweet fellowship with my Lord and Master…

            But the absolute God given peace, and the fullness of joy in my heart cannot be denied…

            It must, as I often say, be experienced to be believed…

            bruce (Got to run for the afternoon !!)

          • Dina says:

            GMF, please explain your belief that God chooses whom to save with His teachings to the contrary in the Bible. Here they are again: Genesis 4:7; Deuteronomy 30, Ezekiel 18 and 33. Thanks.

          • Dina, there is much scripture I base my salvation, and my belief in “OSAS” doctrine…
            Here is one of the most prominent scripture, but one has to realize and believe Christ ushered in a New Covenant which the teaching from the O.T.

            Romans 8:28-30… And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NKJV)

            Here is other scripture telling us we are dead in our own trespasses…

            Ephesians 2:1-5… And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (NKJV)

            And this where we see it’s God’s will to draw us in, and not our will but a gift from God to be saved…

            John 6:44… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (NKJV)

            Ephesians 2:8-9… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

            2 Timothy 1:8-9… Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (NKJV)

            Of course all of this is true if U believe Christ died on the cross and rose again…and that the entire Bible (all 66 books) are God’s inerrant Word…

          • Dina says:

            Bruce, despite your good intentions you are violating the Golden Rule and exhibiting an extreme form of disrespect.

            You want us to reconsider our deeply held beliefs and make major life changes—but you do not want to do the same. That is not treating others as you would want to be treated.

            Furthermore, when offered concrete reasons for our skepticism, you do not listen to what we have to say, instead pointing to your personal experience. That’s absurd! You are saying, in effect, that we should just trust you because you know.

            I showed you Scriptural passages from the Jewish Bible that directly contradict your notion that God chooses whom to save (Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 30, Ezekiel 18 and 33). Instead of addressing them, you cited passages from the Christian bible that are completely irrelevant to the discussion, and that is disrespectful because it shows you are not listening and that you could not care less what I have to say. If you cannot reconcile these contradictions, you have a problem, and you need to confront it head on.

            You wrote that if you believe that the entire Christian bible is the inerrant word of God, then it is true. Please do not check your common sense at the door. You cannot assume the NT is the inerrant word of God just because you believe it; you must have rational grounds for doing so. If the Hebrew Bible is the inerrant word of God, and the NT contradicts it, then the NT is false.

            I have shown you that the NT contradicts God’s inerrant words. Defend it if you can. And if you can’t, then it is unethical for you to try to foist your beliefs on us.

          • bruce
            As much as I disagree with tildeb – I find that he is more respectful of humanity than you are and therefore more in the spirit of the Bible than you are. I have to agree with him here. I know people who risked their lives for Christianity (missionizing in Saudi Arabia) and then left it when they realized it was false – instead of appreciating the courage that such a move took – the Christians told him that he was never saved. This is petty, insecure and small. Even if you think a person is making a mistake can you not admire his courage? And in what measurable way is someone “saved”?

          • Dina says:

            Bruce, if it has to be experienced to be believed, then aren’t you wasting your time? You can just sit back and wait for God to send this experience to whomever He chooses, and to send to hell those who through no fault of their own were not chosen to have this experience.

          • “Bruce, if it has to be experienced to be believed, then aren’t you wasting your time? You can just sit back and wait for God to send this experience to whomever He chooses, and to send to hell those who through no fault of their own were not chosen to have this experience.”

            What I am saying Dina, is that once you are saved…you will know beyond any doubt… It is God’s ultimate decision to grace one with salvation…but He uses believers like myself to share the General call of the message of the cross (the Gospel of Christ)… I don’t remember if I am repeating myself…because I use my own testimony and personal life changes, along with my writing to share God’s blessing in my life…

            The General call of the Gospel of Christ is received in one of 4 types of soils (individuals)…as Jesus presents in His parable of the soils in 3 gospels… I wrote about this in 7 days of writing, linking my own conversion to the 4 soils… Go to my blog and type in 4/10/2015 if you want to read about it…

            I heard the Gospel message over 30 times in a 15 month span… We must love the lord with ALL of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, as we are told in the O.T. Jesus tells us those who have ears to hear in the fertile 4th soil will be saved… Our part is to hear with a heart that only God can regenerate…and to repent of our sins with godly sorrow that only God can give us… Ultimately, only a rejection of this good news message (Gospel), is what will condemn a sinner to hell, if they die in their sins (John 8:24)

            Dina, all I can do is share God’s Word and my own heart, and pray that the Lord opens the eyes of those in need of a Savior… It’s really not complicated, and yet it is not possible without God’s intervention in our lives…

            Our part of salvation does require obedience to the Gospel of Christ… I shudder every time I read 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9…

          • Dina says:

            Bruce, you are still not confronting the Scriptural passages I laid out before you. If you want to have any credibility here, you need to read them in a serious way and explain why you reject them (which you must do in order to cling to your doctrines).

            You wrote that you shudder every time you read 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Well, I shudder every time I think of 1 Thessalonians 2:15 and the millions of tortures, expulsions, and murders of the Jewish people that verse caused over the centuries.

          • Dina says:

            2 Thessalonians 1:8-9New International Version (NIV)
            8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

            Does that mean, Bruce, that Hitler’s six million Jewish victims are being punished with everlasting destruction while the Church and her adherents who either actively participated in Hitler’s crimes or stood by and watched with apathetic indifference are rewarded?

            Does Torquemada, a fervent and fanatic believer in Jesus, who was responsible for the torture and burning alive of untold numbers of Jews and Christian “heretics” also get rewarded?

            Or are you going to cop out and say that the overwhelming majority of Christians in Europe during the 1940s and that Torquemada were not “real” Christians?

            So let me tell you something else, Bruce. Jews have many good reasons to reject Christianity, but the blood-soaked pages of Christian history are a good enough reason all on their own.

          • Dina says:

            GMF, this flatly contradicts the Hebrew Bible which teaches us that our spiritual destiny is entirely in our own hands. See Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 30, Ezekiel 18 and 33.

            According to these passages, we freely choose our path in life. God does not choose our path for us.

          • Fred says:

            GMF wrote:
            “I still sin, just like any other man…(including the Pope by the way)…And I must continually confess and repent of any sins to remain in sweet fellowship with my Lord and Master…”

            Sorry, the New Testament does not allow for that. The whole point of Jesus coming and dying “once for all” was so that the holy spirit (christ in you) will guide you into a new life, a new creature who walks in the spirit that no longer sins because the fallen nature has been cleansed and abolished. Hebrews 10 says:

            For the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

            NOTE- according to the author, the problem with the Mosaic law was that people were not being made PERFECT, and still sinned, requiring a yearly atonement and cleaning.

            2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

            NOTE- the author just reiterated his point that the Mosaic law failed because it did not result in people who stopped sinning! He is also directly contradicting the Torah, which says that the sacrifices DID take away sins.

            5Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

            NOTE- The author just altered the words of scripture! The REAL text is:
            “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Psalm 40”

            6-In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
            7-Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
            8Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jsus Christ once for all.

            11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

            16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

            17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

            NOTE- The author has once again changed the words of scripture!The real text is:
            “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jer 31:33

            This speaks of the universal knowledge of God….And this event HAS NOT HAPPENED!

            18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
            (Jude 1:17-23)

            19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

            NOW HERE IT COMES!!!!!

            26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

            NOTE- If you have sinned willfully after becoming a Christian you are damned, period, because there remains no more sacrifice, but a certain expectation of hell, because J cannot be sacrificed again! Unlike the Jewish system where you go back on Yom Kippur for a new cleansing, Christianity says “one and done” and if it didn’t work, I guess you were not “elected”!

  12. Concerned Reader says:

    Dina, among many atheists, there isn’t an issue like what you are describing vis a problem of “suspension of disbelief to accept that the world sprang into being on its own.”

    In fact, there is a marked difference in stance among atheists taken on the issue of parthenogenesis (the question of how everything started to begin with,) compared to how we now know the world behaves and functions since then. Ark even said “I have stated on many occasions I have no problems, per se with deism.” In other words, he clearly says he has no problem per se with someone believing that “something” started the universe going.

    Believing in a first cause of the universe (that theists would define as G-d) is not as problematic for an atheist as many people may think. Metaphysically speaking, “nothing” (No PHYSICAL THING) and G-d are somewhat similar.

    It is the common beliefs expressed among religious people about the divine authorship of certain books, the answering of prayers, intercession, wrath, miracles, classification of others as heretics and idolaters etc. that we humans usually cannot adequately investigate impartially, that causes problems for atheists with the whole G-d concept. Most atheists I know simply suspend judgment on the question of the existence of deities and their influences. The ancient Greek philosophers did much the same thing, and adopted a live and let live stance.

    • Dina says:

      Con, it seems to me that you are describing an agnostic, not an atheist. But I would be interested to know if Ark believes in a first cause, something non-physical that got the universe going. He said he has no problem with deism because it is not doctrinal, not because he agrees with it.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        If he knows Lawrence Krauss’ talk “A universe from nothing,” then metaphysically, nothing would be the first cause. As Krauss puts it, “nothing isn’t nothing anymore, but a bubbling brewing vat of virtual particles.”

        I have heard Richard Dawkins state in an interview that he has no issue with someone believing in Spinoza’s god, and I heard Sam Harris state that he sees how people can view certain practices as sacred. As Dawkins once said, “everyone is an Atheist about someone’s god.”

      • Arkenaten says:

        @Dina

        But I would be interested to know if Ark believes in a first cause,

        I never concern myself with such thoughts. Let the scientists sort it out and if I am still alive when they do, super.

        The refrain – ”I don’t know” if a perfectly acceptable response.

        ‘Goddidit’ is the response of the indoctrinated. ( and of course many are confused about which god as well; something that always makes me smile.

  13. Andy G. says:

    I can somewhat understand the authors journey, atleast in part. I was raised Greek Orthodox but started loosely keeping Shabbat, Moedim, and Kosher (when I was 18 [I’m 36 now]) as part of a church that partially and loosely observed Torah. In the last few years many things began to bother me… The subtle antisemitism and disregard for any rabbinic input whatsoever… A focus on all things Greek and less emphasis on Hebrew… Thinking tzitziot, shatnez, or other mitzvot were irrelevant… and an air of superiority as if we were the one true assembly that G-d favored… which became laughable considering our ignorance of Torah.

    This awakening and coming to awareness has lead me to inquire into Judaism. I find allot of error in many Messianic’s and its undesirable to want to be associated or categorized under their banner. But, I’ve also discovered that there are other sects of Judaism who regard a Tzadik as Moshiach… such as the Lubavitchers or some of the Breslovers.

    I think there is allot of hostility from sincere Jews because christianity has persecuted them in an effort to overturn Torah and paganize the world… but I think this isn’t fair to the historical person of Yeshua, who was a very observant Jew who required his Talmudim to keep Torah and obey the Pharisees of his day.

    I hope I won’t be berated for saying these things as we’re all on a journey. Not everyone was raised in an observant household. I am not at the end of my journey but am still in flux; It has caused turbulence in our marriage but I’m trying to keep things pleasant… I can relate to the story somewhat though.

    • Dina says:

      Andy, it doesn’t really matter who the historical Jesus was for the Jews who were tortured and murdered in his name, although I agree he would have been horrified had he known what his followers would do. Good luck on your spiritual journey. It takes immense courage to do what you are doing and it is inspiring to hear about it!

    • Andy May Hashem grant you light and courage every step of the way

    • Andy G. says:

      Thank you both!

    • “I think there is allot of hostility from sincere Jews because christianity has persecuted them in an effort to overturn Torah and paganize the world…” I am a born again” Christian, who would never persecute anyone…Jewish, atheist, or otherwise…

      Jesus Christ came, not to overturn the Torah, but to fulfill the laws that we as humans could never obey…

      There is much more I could say here… But if UR interested, my e-mail address is brucermillslast@comcast.net There is no question I would not answer…but I will respond with the truth, from a biblical perspective, and with love…through the helping power of the Holy Spirit…

      I wasn’t graced with salvation until I was almost 52 years old… Praise the Lord for His long-suffering and His patience with me…

      Blessings in Christ, bruce

      • Bruce you say that there is no question you will not answer – please read some of the articles on this blog and try to answer the questions – start with Contra Brown

      • Peter says:

        There is no question I would not answer

        Sorry Bruce, I have to warn people on this blog, that you will not answer any question that suggests the Bible is not the inerrant word of God.

        • Peter U are 100% correct !! I won’t waste my time reading anything contrary to the inerrant Word of God… What U are asking me to do is to say God is a liar, and His Word is not truth… I know God exists…I have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to prove it…and I am not interested in checking up on God for U or anyone else…

          • tildeb says:

            That’s a guaranteed recipe to being a gullible fool in exchange for feeling pious.

            Why do I say that?

            Well, nowhere else in life would you make such an exchange and feel good about it. In fact, I have no doubt you’d fight against it. And that’s why this kind of religious belief is so pernicious… because it leaves you no room to exercise honest intellectual integrity that is the bedrock of reason and no moral guide independent of your beliefs to act as an responsible moral agent. You’ve rejected reason in place of your faith, so you have in effect replaced reason with faith. That means you believe what you believe and nothing from reality – no matter how compelling or reasonable or well informed by fact it may be – will cause you to even question the absolute trust you have decided to place in the correctness of your beliefs. That’s the doorway to totalitarianism and you should know better than that but you don’t. And that tells us something important about you: you admit you cannot be wrong if you believe some element of your faith to be correct and have disallowed any means independent of your belief to rectify an incorrect element of your belief. That’s why it’s a recipe for gullibility and a guaranteed way to utter foolishness… to not only act like a fool in the name of piety but to be one by submission. Such a belief shuts down cognitive functioning and rejects in the name of piety any respect for what’s true independent of your faith-based beliefs.

            This raises a legitimate question: why should anyone pay the slightest attention to anything you have to say about anything? You don’t care about what’s true – you care only and completely about what you believe to be true – and have zero desire to verify your beliefs independent of them. That’s what your faith has turned you into: a good little automaton for your Dear Leader unwilling to be a responsible autonomous moral agent. I think that’s a capitulation of your humanity.

          • tildeb If you want truth – study Talmud. The scientific community – and I am talking about the non-practical sciences – are not the bastion of honesty that you make them out to be. The scientific community has spit out many falsehoods in the name of unadulterated truth – not so much out of blatant dishonesty – but simply out of arrogance and an inhibition for asking the “wrong” question or perhaps an inability to think out of the box

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Hey, GMF – have you read this: “Ancient Confession Found: ‘We Invented Jesus Christ’

        • Fred says:

          The headline of the article is a lie. There is no “ancient confession” that says “We Invented Jesus Christ” even presented in the article. The article is about a guy who thinks he has pieced together enough literary evidence to support a theory. The headline implies a direct confession and admission that Jesus never existed. It is more misleading nonsense from fringe extremist antitheists. So , arch, does the dishonest use of words in the headline bother you or is it okay so long as atheists are doing it?

          As for the article itself, the theory is not even a good one because it based on a false narrative, i.e., that Jesus was presented as a “peaceful messiah”. Jesus was anything but a pacifist in the gospels: he called Gentiles dogs and pigs, violently attacked people in a temple, denied his own mother, said straight up that he did not come to bring peace but a sword, called his own leaders vipers,etc.

          The idea that Jesus was a fictional character does not answer the following questions:
          1- Why would anyone “invent” a character who continually contradicts himself?
          2- why would the enemies of Jesus at that time reject this “fictional character” over his qualifications, calling him a false messiah and a sorcerer, rather than just denying his existence?
          3- How did the Jewish church in Jerusalem, and /or the Ebionites, fall for a pagan-based myth invented by Rome? And how did Rome convince mostly Jewish apostles to do their dirty work for them?
          4- The church was not just “invented”. Christianity has both a written and oral tradition that goes back to the crucifixion.
          5- If the Jesus story was “invented by Roman aristocrats”, how come most of the “christology” surrounding the NT Jesus originated in Egypt and had to “win” acceptance in Rome against Greeks and Romans who opposed the Alexandrian theology? Why did Constantine adopt the Egyptian Athanasian theology over the Roman theology? Why did Constantine’s brother flip back to Arianism if the entire thing was a Roman scam?
          6- If the Jesus story was “made up by Roman aristocrats”, then why does the NT story chronologically evolve from Jesus as a simple preacher, to prophet, to messiah, to demigod, to trinity? The story is not a neatly arranged and structured narrative. It is a self-contradicting mess.
          7- If the Jesus story was “made up by Roman aristocrats”, then why did they also “invent” an apostle who claimed his own authority, defied many of Jesus’ teachings, called Jesus’ disciples hypocrites, defied the founder of the Roman church while still being canonized as an apostle by the same church, etc.?
          8- Why would those who have previously and historically devoted themselves to attacking Christianity from an historical point of view claim that he existed?
          9- Why did Jewish Christians during the time of Bar Kochba’s revolt risk life and limb, as well as expulsion from the synagogue, over a fictional character who was “made-up” less than 60 years prior, for not supporting the revolt or Bar Kochba himself?
          10- Why would Rome, who killed many Jews without a second thought, care about protecting Jews by inventing a “peaceful messiah”, who was not peaceful, to trick their own government? Was the Roman government really so stupid as to fall for that and not verify the story?
          11- Why do you accept the theories of fringe scholars, while rejecting the peer-reviewed and scholarly-accepted fact that Jesus was a real person?

          There are probably hundreds more questions that could be raised, but you get the point. The information to be considered is quite extensive, and certainly makes the article’s subject scholar look like an uneducated idiot trying to build a case on scraps that he read into Josephus.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Don’t ask me, Freddie, ask the author – I merely asked GMF if he’d read it – sheeesh!

          • Arkenaten says:

            why would the enemies of Jesus at that time reject this “fictional character” over his qualifications, calling him a false messiah and a sorcerer, rather than just denying his existence?

            What ”enemies”?

            Utter unadulterated bulldust! There is not a single piece of contemporary evidence to support such a fallacious statement.
            You are either lying through your teeth or simply an indoctrinated, misguided fool

          • Fred says:

            So first Arch posts a link to an article he implies that he has not even read. Then Ark accuses me of lying or “indoctrination”. There’s the pot calling the kettle black. You two are a joke.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            he implies that he has not even read.” – I read it before I ever commented on it, leaping to conclusions without evidence is likely how you became religious in the first place.

          • Fred says:

            “Don’t ask me, Freddie, ask the author – I merely asked GMF if he’d read it – sheeesh!”

            But you believe what he wrote and accept it or you would not have recommended it. Playing dumb, while claiming to be educated, is becoming too natural for you. Thanks for admitting you read the article.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            But you believe what he wrote and accept it or you would not have recommended it.

            There you go again, leaping to tall conclusions in a single bound – no wonder you’re religious! What part of asking if he had read it, qualifies as recommending it?

          • Fred says:

            Whatever, Arch. Go chase your own tail for awhile.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            How childish.

          • Arkenaten says:

            @Fred

            Then Ark accuses me of lying or “indoctrination”. There’s the pot calling the kettle black. You two are a joke.

            Well, it has to be one of the other -liar or indoctrinated – as you ditched worship of Jesus Christ for worship solely of his ‘dad’, Yahweh, didn’t you?
            Walking on water, advanced course in metaphysical viticulture, coming back from the dead, curing lepers and destroying the livelihood of several local pig farmers. which at one time you swore was the absolute truth, the inspired word of Yahweh. Oh, and jump in any time you like if I am saying anything that was not true of your former belief , Fred?

            Or … wait a moment. You have evidence?

            So, as you are a sideways deconvert I am very, very interested what actual physical evidence you discovered demonstrating beyond doubt that Christianity is the heap of talking donkey droppings we know it is and what irrefutable evidence you came across demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that Judaism is evidently true?

            Let’s hear it Fred.
            Only the facts.
            I am all ears.

        • Don’t waste UR time showing me anything with a title like this, Arch… Sooner or later God will draw one of U in, and you will join me in declaring God’s glory and power living with-in you… This I am confident of, or I wouldn’t be wasting my time on these blogs…

  14. It’s really good that you all can spend so much time pontificating. And what are you achieving? Honestly your time would be better spent washing up the dishes, and I personally loathe doing that. But seriously! You actually waste time thinking about this? No wonder the world is a disaster.

    • Dina says:

      Another one of Ark’s friends! What a charming bunch.

      The world is a disaster because some people like to spend time discussing religion, not because some people are beheading women for the heck of it and killing American and British and other journalists for fun and wiping out villages over which they plan to impose their radical religion. That is good to know, thanks.

      By the way, I washed all the dishes already, my housework is all done, I’m putting my baby to bed soon, the other kids are doing their homework, and then I’m going to head off to the kitchen to bake for the upcoming holidays. Oh, and still find time to meet my tight book deadline.

      If you have good time management, you can find time for things you enjoy doing, like talking about the meaning of life and why we are here and whether there is a God. Some people find that more intellectually stimulating than washing dishes, watching TV, or reading a novel.

      • Thanks. It’s nice to be told I’m charming. 🙂

        Yacking about religion serves no purpose.
        Does it?

        Amazingly my dishes are washed too (by hand), I’ve finished off some book editing, and I’ll be looking at some other books tomorrow, seeing as that seems to be your other interest. Deadline? Don’t even go there unless you have worked to serious deadlines.

        Actually, you are right. My time management involves enjoying my life, with my partner. That is what matters. And I don’t have a TV. Maybe you’ll learn as you age 🙂

        • Dina says:

          I don’t have a TV either. I think it’s an enormous waste of time. And I have worked to serious deadlines. One of my books is a New York Times bestseller. Why are Ark and his friends so condescending? (Besides for Mak; he’s a nice guy.)

          If by talking about religion your purpose is to spread the truth, then it’s not a waste of time. If talking about your religion inspires you to dig deeper to understand your beliefs, it’s not a waste of time. It does not mean that there is no time left for your spouse and children. I make lots of time for both because they are my priorities.

          Sneering at people serves no purpose, except perhaps to make you feel superior. Is that what you want to spend your free time doing?

          • Fred says:

            Dina,

            1- Atheists, who are really antitheists as evidenced by the effort they put into harassing people of religious faith, claim to be these open-minded and objective people while paying no heed whatsoever to anything they do not already believe. They have a ton of faith in the ideas and interpretations of men they choose to believe, while calling anyone who disagrees with those interpretations “idiots”, or “Dimwits” as was said here.

            Thus:
            2- Many of them are true fundamentalists in their attitude and are personality-wise no different , or more tolerant, than Jimmy Swaggart or Jerry Falwell.

            3- They take the easy way out. All religions are the same to them because all they ask for is any evidence that is interpreted to disprove even a few points, and in their mind that settles it. The idea of researching the origins of the latest religion they are bashing, asking the pertinent questions of how the meta-narrative, and everything that goes with it, came about it not worth their time unless it is a university prof regurgitating the same things he was taught and graded on. They accuse us of being simplistic, but there is nothing more simplistic than saying ” There is no empirical proof that Moses existed, so he must not have” ( as they once said about David and Nebuchadnezzar), or accepting ANY ancient historic writing, written in a long dead language, as factual so long as it is not the Tanakh, and being are 100% certain that there were no mistakes at all in interpreting the data or the language. The truth is, the existence of the Jewish people, their tribal affiliations, the law and the Torah ARE empirical proof. Judaism was not invented around the campfire by a bunch of primitives trying to figure out what thunder was, nor did it arise in a vacuum. The ideas presented by Mosaic Judaism were so unheard of at that time that there is no way they came about by “primitives gathering around the campfire”.
            4- They call anyone who claims knowledge and experience of the supernatural a superstitious liar, even though they have no proof whatsoever that they are lying.

            BTW, is it pronounced Deena, or Dyna? I like to know what I’m saying even if it is in writing?

          • Dina says:

            Well said, Fred!

            I must say, this group of atheists contains the most mean-spirited and arrogant people I’ve ever met (with the exception of Mak). Condescending, sneering, convinced of their moral superiority and intelligence. It’s a shame, because there are some famous atheists out there who are kind, humble, and admirable human beings (Charles Krauthammer and Charles C.W. Cooke come to mind). They would do their cause more good by learning about civility from these wonderful folks than crudely bashing anyone who disagrees with them.

            As for my name, it’s pronounced Deena, thanks for asking.

          • Why are Ark and his friends so condescending?

            If by talking about religion your purpose is to spread the truth, then it’s not a waste of time.

            One would go some considerable way to find a more arrogant and condescending statement than that. 1) There is more than one religion, so by default that dismisses other people’s belief out of hand. 2) The conviction that the believer’s religion is the RIGHT one, and within Christianity, not just the correct religion, but the absolutely best and only way to interpret it (eg Calvinism, Catholicism, Baptist, Methodist etc etc) is truly amazing. It lacks something I thought Cheistianity was meant to embody. Humility.

            Sneering at people serves no purpose, except perhaps to make you feel superior. Is that what you want to spend your free time doing?

            I could say the same to you. Condescending, sneering and I’ll add sanctimonious and smug to it. I merely find it odd that people spend so much time talking about religion. That’s all.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Rough,

            I’m sorry I let you get under my skin. You posted a comment that the world is a disaster because of people like us who discuss religion rather than doing more productive things with our time. It was pointless and mean-spirited, but I should have ignored it. I apologize for responding in kind, because two wrongs don’t make a right.

            Instead, I’d like to address other points you raised.

            First, you wrote, “It lacks something I thought Cheistianity [sic] was meant to embody. Humility.” It probably makes no difference to you, but this is a Jewish website, not a Christian one. Religious Jews tend not to try to spread their beliefs. We keep ourselves to ourselves and wish everyone would leave us alone. The purpose of this website is not to discuss atheism but to defend Judaism from aggressive Christian proselytizing specifically targeting Jews who are biblically uneducated and ignorant of their history and heritage.

            Second, you wrote that religious people are arrogant because they dismiss the beliefs of other religions out of hand. I would counter that by saying that atheists, who comprise a tiny minority of the world’s population, dismiss the beliefs of nearly everyone else on the planet. And I have no problem with that. If someone determines that his or her belief, whatever religion or no religion, is the correct belief, then he or she is right to discard everyone else’s. My problem is with dismissing people.

            Honest and good people can disagree. Do you agree?

          • Hi Dina (which I think of as Deena as one of my neighbours is a Dina – she’s Jewish, but more of that later).

            I agree that we did both get sidetracked, and I’m happy to admit that was partly my fault for saying how pointless I feel these circular discussions are, but yes, neither of us abided by the comment policy of the blog.

            Yes and no. I thought all religions espoused similar virtues, but, Christianity shouts louder than others so that came to mind first. Culpa mea. As you accurately point out, Judaism does not proselytise or seek to impose opinions on others (let’s leave out the Gaza Strip and the West Bank on this one). Thanks for the information about the site. While I realised it was Jewish, I didn’t realise the specific purpose. I too agree that Christian missionaries are a pain, whoever they are trying to convert. Live and let live?

            I live in a Jewish-owned block in the Jewish quarter of my city. We get on well with our neighbours, one sends me Christmas cards(?!), another will knock on our door and ask us to do something on Shabbat for them eg turn on the fridge, accept a phone call etc. As a community, they are tightly knit, and in our city, strictly orthodox. I know something about the culture, but little about the teachings. What I (and my partner) aim to do is not to disrespect our neighbours, so for example, I wouldn’t call a meeting on a Jewish holy day. (I chair our block management committee.) I’m sorry we started off on the wrong foot, with which, I’d like to wish you a belated Rosh Hashanah.

            Again, I think for the most part that, because the average Jewish person, and I’m speaking as an outsider obviously, doesn’t go around talking about their views, they/you are less obviously intransigent unless a non Jewish person seeks out a Jewish perspective. My point about the arrogance, was that, if everyone is convinced their view is correct about any deity, who determine which one is right? Most religions don’t allow for multiple deities of different beliefs. To a non-believer, it doesn’t hold water, it’s illogical. To a believer, I suppose it is irrelevant.

            And yes, I agree.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Rough,

            I’m glad we cleared that up, and you sound like a good neighbor. You got the pronunciation of my name right too.

            I think it’s a fair question to ask, as an outsider, who gets to decide which religion is the right one? In fact, I had a similar question when I was in my early twenties. Having been raised Orthodox and experienced Judaism as warm, joyous, ennobling, enriching–in short, everything you’d expect from religion–I asked myself if I were a practicing Orthodox Jew because I was raised that way. The question I confronted was, if all religions contradict each other, either none of them are true or only one of them is true, so how do I know which?

            Each person has to determine that answer for himself, seeking the truth as honestly as he can, acknowledging his biases. In my case, my biases included my experience with Judaism and the fact that I was already married with a child. I also had to admit to myself was that I was hoping to find confirmation for my views (it was very hard to admit this). Then I went ahead and did the best I could. I found essays such as the following useful (it’s long, so I don’t expect you to read it):

            http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/works/RabbiGottliebLivingUpToTheTruth.pdf

            The Jewish view is that you do the best you can and God takes all of your limitations into account. That is why Jews don’t believe that only Jews get into heaven, but that anyone who lives a basically moral and good life has a place.

            As for the West Bank and Gaza, if you are interested in giving a hearing to the other side, I recommend the following websites:

            http://www.liberalsforisrael.org/israels-right-to-exist-and-defend-itself.html

            Sometimes if you post too many links, the comment doesn’t go through, but let’s give it a try:

            http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/177041/why-israel-victim-david-horowitz

            A liberal source and a conservative source.

            All the best,
            Dina

          • Dina, thanks for those links. I will get round to reading them, because if someone has taken the time to post, I invariably read, but, it won’t be tonight.

            I can imagine a Jewish community to be a number of things, close-knit but stifling. Rewarding but limiting. Etc. As I say, culturally I can understand it, and to some extent that must influence religious views. But, as with many religions there are aspects I dislike, and logically it doesn’t hang together – for me.

            Incidentally, are you orthodox like my neighbours, ie no phones, computers, electrical equipment, driving etc after sundown?

          • Dina says:

            Hi Rough,

            Yes, I am Orthodox and will have to stop responding soon until after sundown tomorrow. In my time zone sundown is in a couple of hours.

            Speaking as an insider, I do not feel stifled at all. I can confidently say that my friends and family would say the same, although I’m sure you will find those whose experience is not so positive.

            The question for me is not how it makes me feel but if it’s the right thing to do.

            Thanks for agreeing to read the links I posted. It’s a lot, so take your time. I owe Ark a bunch of reading, myself.

            Have a great weekend,
            Dina

          • That’s helpful, seriously. I am so used to dealing with Orthodox Jews that I check out sundown, festivals etc. When I was a child, we mixed with non-orthodox Jews who worked on Saturday and sneaked bacon and ham …
            I see my local Jewish community (in Gibraltar) as a small but strong one that contributes to our society. Insular to a large extent, but friendly at a personal level. Eventually.
            We all need to feel right within ourselves. Religion doesn’t suit me, but if others are happy within that, who’s to decry it if it doesn’t impact on others. Ergo, the difference between Judaism, and Islam and Christianity.
            As you are going to be offline for 24 hours then I might catch up in your absence. *Might* no promises, I have a ton of work to read too, and that takes precedence.
            Enjoy your weekend too Dina.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Rough,

            It might interest you to know that not only do Jews traditionally not seek to convert, we actually discourage it. That’s because according to Judaism, the Torah was given to the Jewish people and so only Jews have to keep it. According to the Jewish perspective, non-Jews have a perfectly acceptable path in life by living a decent and good life to the best of their ability. I fully agree with your live-and-let-live attitude.

            I know I mentioned that earlier but I just wanted to clarify it more deeply.

            All the best,
            Dina

          • Hi Dina
            When I was a kid, I was always told that people could only be Jewish if their mother was so I had no idea people could convert until fairly recently. When I was reading about conversion, I remember reading that the rabbi would actually make the process difficult for the potential convert, to test how strong their desire for conversion was. I don’t know how true that is obviously. If one is inclined to be religious, I can see why one could be attracted to Judaism.

          • Dina says:

            Yes, this is true, Rough. Becoming Jewish is a huge commitment and once someone converts they stay Jewish even if they revert to their previous religion or non-religion (for example, if a secular person converts to Judaism and then reverts to secularism he would be considered according to Jewish law still a Jew). Since we don’t want to see that happening, and since a non-Jew doesn’t have to convert in order to live a life acceptable to God, we do discourage potential converts.

          • Thanks Dina. I did read about ‘deconversion’ or rather, wanting to leave the faith too, but still being regarded as Jewish. Helpful to have it confirmed though.
            You’ve got another busy week coming up, so I’ll just say best wishes for your important holy days.
            RS

          • Dina says:

            Thank you, Rough!

          • U go Dina !! I do find RS filled with hate and resentment for anyone who tries to share their love of Christ with others… I pray for Ark, Arch, and about 12 others on his blog, asking the Lord to draw them in (John 6:44)… Their spiritual blindness will never be changed in their own strength…

            Blessings in Christ, bruce

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            If by talking about religion your purpose is to spread the truth, then it’s not a waste of time.

            I don’t believe any of us knows “the truth,” Dina – we’re like the blind men and the elephant in that regard. At best, those who “spread the truth,” are only spreading their version of it.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Judaism was not invented around the campfire by a bunch of primitives trying to figure out what thunder was, nor did it arise in a vacuum.

            In my opinion, Fred, all religions began “around the campfire by a bunch of primitives trying to figure out what thunder was” – or possibly even before fire was discovered – and evolved in different ways from there.

            It’s my personal opinion that Judaism began when a group on nomadic worshipers of Amurru (Google him) joined for a time – perhaps as long as 50 years – with a group of Midianites/Kennites, who happened to worship an obscure desert storm god they called YHWH, and over the length of their association with the second group, the first group merged the two god-concepts (as evidenced in Exodus 6:3) into a single entity.

            Do I have proof? About as much as any theist has that ANY gods exist, but I’m working on developing more.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I pray for Ark, Arch, and about 12 others on his blog, asking the Lord to draw them in (John 6:44)…
            Translation: GMF talks to himself and mentions us.

    • LB says:

      So your pontificating the world is a disaster because people talk?

  15. Fred says:

    Oh,and in response to an earlier comment regarding Charles Krauthammer, here is an excerpt from a Wiki article on him :

    Krauthammer is Jewish, but “not religious.” In a Jerusalem Post interview he reflected on how he had been influenced by his study of Maimonides at McGill with Rabbi David Hartman, head of Jerusalem’s Hartman Institute and professor of philosophy at McGill during Krauthammer’s student days.[55]

    Krauthammer is a critic of intelligent design, and wrote several articles in 2005 likening it to “tarted-up creationism”.[56] He also stated that “atheism is the least plausible of all theologies. I mean, there are a lot of wild ones out there, but the one that clearly runs so contrary to what is possible, is atheism.”[57]

    I agree with Charles with regards to atheism. Atheism is like a person on a beach, where the sand represents all knowledge, who has but one teaspoon of that sand and thinks he knows a lot. Atheism is like a blind man who tells the person who can see that color does not exist.

    • Dina says:

      I thought he was an atheist. Maybe he is agnostic.

      • Fred says:

        Actually, I believe there are literally millions of “Krauthammer-esque” Jews in America: nonpracticing, secular in nature and lifestyle but acknowledging their Hebrew roots and culture. I do not believe he is agnostic based on the above statement,

        “He also stated that “atheism is the least plausible of all theologies. I mean, there are a lot of wild ones out there, but the one that clearly runs so contrary to what is possible, is atheism.”

        I do not believe an agnostic would say that. Perhaps a Jewish deist? I would like to ask him. Maybe I can.

        I also wonder about Ben Stein. 🙂

    • Concerned Reader says:

      Atheism is like a person on a beach, where the sand represents all knowledge, who has but one teaspoon of that sand and thinks he knows a lot.

      And some religious people put that teaspoon of sand into a goblet, hail it as the most profound thing ever, and then often beat people to death with the goblet when they disagree. Aren’t we all a fine bunch of misfits? : )

  16. shields3 says:

    I think everybody is complicating things about religious belief and atheism. The truth is we are animals on a planet in the massive universe at the top of the food chain with a large brain that we have no complete control of. Why ask what purpose do we need to exist? We are only a life form just like the dinosaurs and after many millions of years we may eventually die out, but we are lucky enough to be here right now, so enjoy it and believe the science because when you are dead it is just like before you were born…..nothing.

    And Ark may have ways of saying things that some people do not like but from what I read he is very well educated in what he says and he defends the religious indoctrination of children that is something I and all of us should support.

    • Arkenaten says:

      Thanks for the support shields3, but just to clarify I don’t defend religious indoctrination of children, I abhor it.
      Though I am sure this is what you meant. Well, I hope so!
      🙂

      • Dina says:

        Ark, do you think passing on religious values and beliefs to children is a problem that needs to be solved by government, and if so, what solution would you suggest?

        What values and beliefs are okay to teach children, in your view? Should they be indoctrinated in good manners, for example?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Secular humanism. Period. Teach all religions at school as a subject ( akin to history) and let the child ”discover” religion as an adult.
          I have heard that your god chooses. If it is true, then the child will have no worries as your god will sort everything out when the kid becomes an adult.

          I don’t know why on earth you would wish to indoctrinate kids in good manners. Maybe you felt’feel obliged to with your children?

          I mostly taught my kids through good example. Worked out fine too.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Ark,

            I’m responding to your comment about secular humanism here: https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/why-i-left-jesus-by-fred/#comment-23430

            I asked you what you propose for society since you oppose the religious indoctrination of children, and you said, “Secular humanism. Period.” You also said, if I understood you correctly, that children do not need to be taught good manners as they learn by example–and this worked just fine for your kids. I have several questions about both these points.

            In your view, since children learn by example, should parents be allowed to practice their religion in front of their children, or must they do so secretly? How should parents answer their children’s questions about their own religious practices? For example, if a child asks his parent, “Where are you going?” Parent says, “to synagogue,” now child wants to know what that is, what you do there, and why. Is the parent allowed to answer? Is the parent allowed to bring his child along? If the child wants to come along, may he?

            How should parents celebrate religious holidays and festivals in their home without exposing their children to their dangerous rituals?

            What should a person who believes his scripture is true do if his sacred text contains a religious command to teach his religion to his children?

            Also, how would you enforce this? What punishment would be meted out to parents who teach their religion to their children? Would you have security cameras in every home? Would you encourage children to report their parents?

            I don’t know what you mean by “your god chooses” and therefore “your god will sort everything out when the kid becomes an adult.” Chooses what?

            Who are you to decide that everyone should adopt secular humanism? According to your friend “shields3” we are all just animals. Let’s say someone says he wants the world to adopt nudism, like animals. Animals don’t wear clothes and they urinate and defecate where they please, eat other animals, kill with impunity, don’t read to their kids or send them to school. So our nudist wants to make it a crime to wear clothes and use toilets and be prosecuted for murder and educate your kids. He says, let them choose when they’re adult to be secular humanists. Is he wrong, and why or why not?

            And what kind of secular humanism? Some humanists are capitalists and some are communists, how do you propose to resolve the differences?

            Now to your point about manners. You said that teaching by example worked for you. I find this intriguing because I have five kids. Do you mean to say that you never had to teach your kids to say please and thank you and sorry because they automatically followed your example, they were automatically respectful to you because you were respectful to them, they automatically did chores without being told because they saw you doing chores, and so on? And if you did have to actually tell them and they didn’t listen, you didn’t enforce it? That would be indoctrinating them in civilized behavior (i.e. good manners). You sent them to school, I imagine? Did they go willingly or would they rather have stayed home and played all day? Maybe they should be given the choice, when they’re adults, whether they want to be productive members of society.

          • shields3 says:

            Fair enough, doctors have been investigating the near-death experience for many years and to believe you have continuing consciousness after death or after the brain has stopped working is by all accounts not possible. However it is likely these are similar symptoms when a head is severed from its body such as explained here. http://www.livescience.com/39219-can-severed-head-live.html. The brain is complex and it is practical that certain areas in the brain may still function after blood flow has stopped, however it will always only be a brief period of time.

            By the way Dina, I do not recall having accused the Jews of proselytizing or in any way imposing their religion on anyone. You seem to be offended by something; however I just put my 2 cents worth in when I can is there some problem with that?

          • Dina says:

            Not offended at all, Shield, and I have no problem with your two cents. I hope that helps!

          • Arkenaten says:

            I was raised in a nominally Christian household;. Church of England.Religion/going to church
            was always more optional rather than mandatory, other than a few Sundays Schools and Church Parades during Boy Scouts.

            Teaching by example will generally work better than telling. Though I no doubt had to explain a great many things, once the children had the grasp of language telling them to say please and thank you on a continual basis was not an issue.

            My kids were never ”told” to do chores. Everyone mucked in and if such things are made fun telling is not usually necessary.
            It is called personal responsibility and can be instilled by example.

            You seem hell bent on reducing this discussion to argumentum ad absurdum.

            I don’t play such games.

            But if you wish to make yourself look silly …. carry on. 🙂

          • Dina says:

            One more thing, Ark, I raised a point that you perhaps didn’t see, so here it is again:

            You mentioned the violence caused by religion. I countered by pointing out that in the twentieth century alone between 150 million and 200 million people died as a result of secular ideologies (Communism and Nazism combined). This is likely more than all the people who died as a result of all the violent religions of all the world in all of history.

            I would like to know what you have to say to that.

            It also occurs to me to add here that in any event you would be right to dismiss religions that are so blood-stained. I have good reason to reject Christianity and Islam, but if the only reason I had is their history of bloodshed it would be enough in my opinion.

            Now you can’t counter that Judaism attempted genocide on the Canaanites because the only record of that is in the Bible, which you say is historical fiction :). And as you must surely know, since post-biblical times when we do have extra-biblical historical evidence, the Jewish people have been remarkably non-violent.

            In trying to anticipate another possible response from you, you might say that Israel is attempting to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. That is a charge I would dispute, but not now. Instead I will remind you that the State of Israel is a secular state.

          • Arkenaten says:

            I can counter with the Canaanite Genocide, especially if you are going to cite Divine Command Theory.
            Of course I think it is all nonsense, but if you persist in suggesting the Pentateuch is based on fact/history then you will have to defend you god’s actions.

            And don’t try to preempt my questions. You will always come short.

          • “I have heard that your god chooses. If it is true, then the child will have no worries as your god will sort everything out when the kid becomes an adult.” Ark, the Bible is clear that if we are believers, we are to teach our children in the ways of the Lord… U are correct, in my humble opinion…that God chooses us…but it is the Gospel of Christ…the message of the cross, that God uses through believers who share this “good news” message as a general call to all… The “effectual call” God does initiate, as the unbeliever is first drawn in by God the Father (John 6:44)…

            Our part in salvation, is to repent of our sins…seeking Christ to become our personal Lord and Savior… This obedience to the Gospel of Christ we see as necessary for salvation, or as 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 states…

            2 Thessalonians 1:8-9… in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (NKJV)

            Blessings in Christ,

            bruce

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power

            As I told you on Ark’s blog, GMF, and you’re demonstrating here – it’s fear that causes you to cling so tightly to your mythology.

      • shields3 says:

        Sorry Ark slip of the keyboard.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      so enjoy it and believe the science because when you are dead it is just like before you were born…..nothing.

      “I was dead for millions of years before I was born, and I can’t see that it inconvenienced me any”
      — Mark Twain —

      • “As I told you on Ark’s blog, GMF, and you’re demonstrating here – it’s fear that causes you to cling so tightly to your mythology.”

        Arch U won’t experience my God given peace and joy, until U are filled with the Holy Spirit… What part of the following piece of scripture do U not understand…besides ALL of it ?? It truly is amazing how God’s inerrant Word explains my life with Christ…

        John 4:18… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (NKJV)

        Arch, I don’t fear anything !! I don’t hate anyone !! I am satisfied with whatever the Lord provides me !! Life isn’t about who collects the most stuff… And that void in UR heart can only be filled with the love of Christ… Until then, my friend…U will never understand how living for the Lord will free U (John 8:31-32) from this world of dog eat dog !!

        bruce

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          GMF, we’ve already discussed the fact that “John” wasn’t actually John, the son of Zebedee and brother of Andrew, in fact, no one knows who he was, yet you are ready to take a total stranger’s word for something, simply because it’s found in the Bible. Rather pathetic, actually.

      • “As I told you on Ark’s blog, GMF, and you’re demonstrating here – it’s fear that causes you to cling so tightly to your mythology.”

        On the contrary Arch… I have absolutely no fear of anyone or anything… I refer U to John’s penning of this, which is absolutely true…

        1 John 4:18… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (NKJV)

        I am fearful, however, for the eternal life of all those who haven’t placed their faith and trust in Christ as their personal Lord and Savior… I wouldn’t be wasting my time here or on other blogs if I didn’t care so much about all of U…

  17. Fred says:

    >>>>>We are only a life form just like the dinosaurs<<<>>>when you are dead it is just like before you were born…..nothing.<<<<
    Statement of faith

      • Fred says:

        Because it is an declaration of a firm belief concerning the unknown. Yes, we are a life form. No, we are not just like the dinosaurs. But the real “Faith” statement was “when you are dead it is just like before you were born…..nothing.”

        He cannot possibly know that. That is a declaration in a belief concerning the afterlife, or lack thereof, that was made purely on faith and belief. And being as how he came to this site to espouse his belief and present it as in fact “the only view that is true”, that makes him, and you, evangelists; antitheist missionaries.

        Personally, I find atheism, especially the missionary variety you involve yourself in, the height of arrogance. Atheists believe humans are the supreme beings in the universe, and of those, that THEY are superior beings among humans, calling those who disagree ‘dimwits”, “morons”, etc. Thus, atheists are, in their own minds, as close to being a god as anything.

        Face it, you people have your own quasi-religion, complete with “apostles” and “sages” (Dawkins, Darwin, even Bill Maher, etc), your own “holy books” (Origin of Species, The God Delusion), organizations like the ones who sue people for having putting a Christmas tree on a street corner, “evangelists” such as yourself, and many followers who proclaim your world view from person to person. I had a friend once who was so committed to the propagation of your religion that in 1998 he literally rode his bicycle twenty five miles to my home so he could “witness to me” and play me a recording of an evolution/creationist debate ( of course produced and edited by the atheist missionary group). Another time tried to give me a copy of “The God Delusion” ( I had already read it, may I suggest to you “The Dawkins Delusion”?) and tried to start a debate in the middle of a reunion dinner in 2010. Yes, it was his “Bible”, Dawkins his “pastor”, and “Religulous” his propaganda video

        • Arkenaten says:

          Because it is a(n) declaration of a firm belief concerning the unknown. Yes, we are a life form. No, we are not just like the dinosaurs. But the real “Faith” statement was “when you are dead it is just like before you were born…..nothing.”

          Actually, it is well know what happens when organic life forms die. But maybe you are referring to what you would call the ‘’soul’’, yes?
          If you could please provide some sort of evidence for this ‘’soul’’ I will gladly review the data.

          He cannot possibly know that. That is a declaration in a belief concerning the afterlife, or lack thereof, that was made purely on faith and belief. And being as how he came to this site to espouse his belief and present it as in fact “the only view that is true”, that makes him, and you, evangelists; antitheist missionaries.

          No, not made on faith, made on observable evidence. Faith, as you are postulating in this instance – is believing in something without any tangible evidence whatsoever.

          Personally, I find atheism, especially the missionary variety you involve yourself in, the height of arrogance. Atheists believe humans are the supreme beings in the universe, and of those, that THEY are superior beings among humans, calling those who disagree ‘dimwits”, “morons”, etc. Thus, atheists are, in their own minds, as close to being a god as anything.

          Your caveat: ‘‘personally’’ says it all. In my experience, most people quite like the missionary position.

          Face it, you people …

          ‘’ You people’’ . Really? Are yu serious? You might as well have said, ‘’ You Whites, Blacks, English, Chinese, Catholics, Devil Worshippers, Manchester United Supporters.’’ ( or similar)
          In my book this makes you nothing but an ignorant, bigoted, son-of-a-bitch.

          • Fred says:

            >>>>>‘’ You people’’ . Really? Are yu serious? You might as well have said, ‘’ You Whites, Blacks, English, Chinese, Catholics, Devil Worshippers, Manchester United Supporters.’’ ( or similar)
            In my book this makes you nothing but an ignorant, bigoted, son-of-a-bitch.<<<>>>>>Your caveat: ‘‘personally’’ says it all.<<>>>>If you could please provide some sort of evidence for this ‘’soul’’ I will gladly review the data.<<<<

            There are thousands upon thousands of witnesses to the afterlife. There are millions, perhaps billions, of witnesses to supernatural phenomenon, many are recorded by scribes before many witnesses. Again, you are like a blind man asking for proof that vision exists and then rejecting the proof because you cannot see it yourself.

            The truth is, you believe you have a water tight belief system, but it all depends on you keeping your eyes closed and your ears shut. Have a good day!

          • Arkenaten says:

            Really? Well as you are a believer in the supernatural why did you reject the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth?
            There were hundreds of witnesses to this event. It’s even written in the holiest of books, the bible.

            So come on, then , Mister Smart Alec, let’s see you explain this one away with the wave of a hand.
            If you have the integrity that is.

          • Arkenaten
            I don’t understand your question to Fred. Just because someone believes one supernatural event (or several) does that mean he must believe in all? There are clear distinctions between the testimony concerning the exodus and the testimony concerning the resurrection – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/the-exodus-versus-the-resurrection/

          • Arkenaten says:

            Distinctions?
            Well, yes, they are two separate fictional events.

            And why are you unable to understand the question?

        • shields3 says:

          For a start I have no belief in the afterlife because there is as far as I know no afterlife so my belief and faith does not exist regarding an afterlife. If you received it as “the only view that is true” I understand if you are worried about your own views.

          You claim “Atheists believe humans are the supreme beings in the universe” Wrong, we are equal to the other animals; however there is some who will never make this grade.

          You also claim “Thus, atheists are, in their own minds, as close to being a god as anything.” Correct that we do have our own minds and if you need another god to worship, feel free.

          You say “I had a friend once who was so committed to the propagation of your religion that in 1998 he literally rode his bicycle twenty five miles to my home” First of all check out the definition of religion and atheist and you will see the huge difference, secondly you should have listened to your ex-friend.

    • shields3 says:

      Yes Fred this is faith that the promises from any god including eternal life in heaven is based on nothing but wishful thinking.

      • Fred says:

        Thank you for your admission. I appreciate honesty even when I disagree with it. But you really might consider leaving a little room in your mind for what you have not yet seen or experienced. Of all the knowable knowledge in the universe, the most educated man has only a microscopic drop. That leaves “a whole bunch” left unknown to any one person.

        I am not sure if anyone has ever mentioned this to you or your fellow athe-ites, but truthfully, your paradigm is quite outdated, stuck in the 19th century higher criticism fad. Jung ( agnostic), Nietzsche, Marx, Darwin and the rest of your “patriarchs” have long passed away and their arguments are well-worn. You might think about getting up to speed here in the 21st century, where we realize how vast the universe is and how irreducibly complex the simplest cell is. 🙂 Blessings!

        • shields3 says:

          I thank you for your view. I do not claim excessive knowledge about anything but nobody I know has experienced death and come back to life to claim there is anything but death. It may be a microscopic drop of knowledge I have but the obvious evidence, logic and history tells me that death is just that…nothing…zip…zero…call it whatever you like. As I have said we are just animals on this planet and it is arrogant for man to believe we humans are special and will have eternal life when every other organisms, living cells, insects, animals will die and rot to nothing, how could that be?

          If you think any religion is in the 21st century you are confused. Why do Christians reject scientific evidence and support creationism? They think humans are special because it was written in a book from how many centuries ago was that? And guess what? Scientists are responsible for exposing the complexity of cells and what is more we share up to 99% of our Genomes with chimps and share a lot in common with other animals and even plant life so that may just mean that this is going some way to explain our position as just another primate….or a vegetable?? 

          • Dina says:

            Hi Shield,

            Some doctors are investigating the phenomenon of the near-death experience and are beginning to conclude that there is some kind of continuing consciousness after death. Even as they admit that it’s difficult to apply the scientific method to this study, they have found ways to approximate it as closely as possible. A fascinating book on this topic is Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, by Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist. He also answers objections such as hallucinations and the like.

            By the way, Shield, it might interest you to know that Jews do not seek to proselytize or in any way impose their religion on anyone. Do you also believe in live and let live?

        • Fred, U post this…”But you really might consider leaving a little room in your mind for what you have not yet seen or experienced.”

          I have spent much time reading through this blog…and find an assortment of respondents…from the extreme atheistic belief that God does not exist, to UR position that there is a God…but with a problem believing Jesus was the Son of God…

          You stated…”I decided to persue my Christian faith in an uncompromising way and to open my heart to anything God wanted to show me. It was at this point that questions came to mind:
          1- Why do people pray to Jesus if Jesus said to pray to the Father and not to him?
          2- Why don’t Jews, who had the Law, the Prophets and a rich history of deep spiritual pursuit of truth accept Jesus?

          Fred, the pastor who told U that “that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit were all the same God, and to pray to any one of them was to pray to them all.” You then said… “It still made no sense,”…and U were right !!

          As Christians, we are to pray the the Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit… All three of the Trinity are equal…but they all have different roles to play in the Christian’s life…

          You said…”I found it increasingly difficult to add “in Jesus’ name” to my prayers. You know that feeling when you tell a lie and you know you are lying? Like a “mini headache”, right?” This is because you were never a Christian in God’s eyes…by grace through saving faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ… (Ephesians 2:8-9) The Bible tells us this, in…

          John 8:23-24… And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (NKJV)

          It’s not about faith and good works, which Catholicism is based upon… How can Catholics read Ephesians 2:8-9…and also read Jesus’ warning about being turned away from heavens gates by believing their good works are needed for salvation, in…

          Matthew 7:21-23… “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (NKJV)

          You are much further along that Ark and Arch and the others, who don’t believe God exists… But remember your words…”But you really might consider leaving a little room in your mind for what you have not yet seen or experienced.”

          I have experienced God’s saving grace first hand… But it is not the act of saying the “sinners prayer” that saves… It is all God’s work, and His perfect timing… I would urge U to read a post I did back on 7/11/2013 for my then dying brother-in-law, titled “The Truth About Sin”…which is my presentation of the Gospel of Christ… It includes my own personal testimony about receiving God’s grace…

          http://godsmanforever.com/2014/10/26/the-truth-about-sin-10262014-by-bruce-reposted-from-7112013/

          Fred, all I can do is share my real live changing experiences with U…all of it true… And may God receive the glory for the visible power of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life !!

          Blessings in Christ, bruce

          • Sharbano says:

            In reading that link I find there is misconceptions at the beginning. You quoted Isaiah and completely distorted the subject. Isaiah is quite specific in who is being referred to. It is the “king of Babylon”.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

      • Shields, it is much more than wishful thinking my friend !! When God graces the Christian with the Holy Spirit, they know that they are indeed graced with salvation… (Romans 8:15-16)… When I became a new creation, just like God tells us in the Bible…there was absolutely no doubt that I was just then a redeemed child of God… My life changed in the blink of an eye, and over and over again I have seen nothing but truth from the Bible being revealed right before my own eyes…

        Since I have not seen one word of the Bible prove to be false…I can believe in absolute faith that I will be in heaven with the Lord when I die…

        Yes it does take faith…and this saving faith does come from the God… It does require obedience to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (See link in the “About” section to my blog) Once the non-believer is graced with salvation…and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is experienced…there is nothing in life that can compare to this freedom in Christ…

        bruce

        • Fred says:

          Bruce, you wrote:
          “Since I have not seen one word of the Bible prove to be false…I can believe in absolute faith that I will be in heaven with the Lord when I die…”

          All you have to do is compare the three crucifixion/ resurrection stories, since they cannot all be true. Was J crucified on Passover or not? Was the last supper a Passover Seder or not? Matthew says it was a Passover Seder, John says it was the day before. They cannot both be right.One must be false.
          The New Testament also blatantly misquotes Tanakh and alters the words for their quotes of “prophecies”. That is also false.

          Lastly, your assertion about the HS cannot be true, since every Christian is taught something different, and often contradictory, by the “Holy Spirit”. The trinitarian says that the Arian does not have the holy ghost or he would see the truth of the trinity. The Arian says the same about the trinitarian. I know because as a Christian of many years I saw the “spiritual discernment of the holy ghost” war played out on every doctrinal disagreement.

          Who had the holy ghost, Calvin or Wesley? Certainly not both, since they taught diametrically opposing doctrines on free will vs predestination, asserting opposite views on the very essence of God’s character. Did the holy ghost lead Calvin to teach that most of humanity was born predestined to eternal torture with no choice in the matter?

          What would you say if I claimed that it was the holy ghost that led me away from Christianity?

          • “What would you say if I claimed that it was the holy ghost that led me away from Christianity?” Fred, quite honestly I could only say one thing…You were never truly saved to begin with… I say this with love because of my belief that once truly saved, one cannot lose their God given grace…

          • tildeb says:

            It’s always just a matter of time before the not-a-true-Scotsman fallacy rears its ugly mug.

  18. Hi Fred! I read your post and found your journey interesting. I’m a little confused about something. Were you born a Jew, or are you an Israelite? Or do you accept Judaism by adoption into the faith, a bit like Ruth in the Bible?

    Secondly, you didn’t mention Islam at all. They reject Jesus, and consider Him to be just a prophet. Have you considered that maybe they are a better fit than Judaism? I understand that you reject the Christian teaching about Jesus, and I don’t know if you believe Jesus is a prophet or that he even lived and preached about God. I’m just trying to understand why you have settled on Judaism. That is not altogether clear.

    Cheers, Ufuoma.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Ufuoma,

      I hope you don’t mind my jumping in here. What is the difference between a born Jew and an Israelite?

      Why would Islam be a better fit for anyone than Judaism?

      Thank you,
      Dina

      • Actually I sort of mind, because I really do want to hear from Fred. I’m sure you know that Jews were simply one tribe of the Isrealites. And I’m not saying that Islam is a better fit, I was only asking if he considered it and why not? Or if he hadn’t considered it, is it an option?

        Cheers!

        • Dina says:

          Thanks for clarifying, Ufuoma. Scripturally, the term “Jew” applies to all the tribes, although originally it comes from the word “Judahite” for the tribe of Judah. In Scripture the word “Jews” is used to refer to all members of the nation of Israel. For example, the Book of Esther refers to Mordecai the Jew although he was from the tribe of Benjamin. In 8:16 it refers to all members of the nation of Israel as Jews.

          I will wait for Fred to answer you on Islam, but if I may, I would like to point out that if the Torah is true, then Islam cannot be true because the Koran contradicts the Torah.

          The question, therefore, should not be, “is Islam a better fit than Judaism?” but “is Islam true”?

          Please accept my apologies for sticking my nose in where it was not wanted :). Have a nice weekend!

          Peace and blessings,
          Dina

          • Arkenaten says:

            Or, in fact is Judaism true?
            The really scary thing for Ufuoma, of course, is not whether Islam is true or not but if Judaism is true?
            Because, if it turns out that the Pentateuch is Historical Fiction, the Jews could still carry on … sort of. At a pinch. But her religion, Christianity, gets flushed down the drain. And that would be too terrible to contemplate.

            Oh, but wait a moment. The Pentateuch is Historical Fiction.
            Oops.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            First, Dina, let me say that I had no trouble pronouncing your name, as I have a daughter named Dina.

            if the Torah is true” – You ARE aware, I must presume, that the Torah was written by at least four different sources, over a time period that ranged from about 950 BCE to 550 BCE, then redacted around 400 BCE – skillfully pieced together like a patchwork quilt – into a single set of volumes, AKA, the Torah. Except of course for the book of Deuteronomy, which was likely compiled by King Josiah (or possibly his Merlin, Jeremiah), based on traditions from the Northern Kingdom of Israel, brought south to the Kingdom of Judah in the wake of the Assyrian destruction of Samaria in the 8th century BCE.

        • Why do you mind that another Jewish person joins the conversation to add their perspective? What’s wrong with that?

          • What’s wrong with that is that it stops Fred from answering my question himself and derails my question into something that was never my intent.

            If she had allowed him to answer first, then it wouldn’t have been inappropriate or indecent for her to add her two cents. As it turns out, I’m not sure I’ll appreciate Fred’s response anymore, because it will most likely be informed by the deviated discussion, rather than a simple honest answer… which is what I’m looking for.

          • No it doesn’t. Why does another answer stop someone else from commenting? That is a farcical argument. Maybe you should have said ‘no responses please until Fred replies’. I mean, seriously, this is a public blog. People reply to comments ad hoc. As Dina’s reply was relevant, what is the issue? It’s a valid and Jewish POV. Fred may be busy, and as Dina has pointed out, it will shortly be Shabbat in their part of the world. So we all need to take that into account.

          • The fact that Dina felt she could better address my questions doesn’t make it a decent thing to do in any case.

            Sure, it is a public blog. But there is such a thing as common decency and manners. I wrote, “Hi Fred”, which made it clear that I was writing to Fred, and expecting to have a dialogue with him, not whatever this is!

            Now, she’s not altogether indecent, because she knew that it could be received wrongly, which is why she started with “I hope you don’t mind if I cut it”, meaning she (and anyone else for that matter) understands that I was addressing Fred, and she was “cutting” in line. In her second response, she acknowledged my feelings that I’d rather have heard from Fred first and apologized (whether genuine or not) for cutting in. I appreciated that and I liked her response.

            Now, you have seen an opportunity to derail the discussion even further by picking an argument with me for expressing my feelings that I’d rather have heard from Fred first. In all of this, do you even care what Fred thinks??? Do you think this is the way he would like people to be treated who are trying to engage him in conversation?

            Granted, if he’d responded and told me his mind, and I asked a follow up question, I think it would be understandable if someone who felt they understood where the conversation was going joined in with their two cents. That’s how to have a conversation in public! Interruptions are recognised by their negative impact is making situations more emotional and derailing people from their thoughtful contributions.

            If Fred supports your approach, and feels that I’ve been rightly engaged for daring to ask questions, it says a whole lot about him. But I don’t know if… and I won’t assume anything until he makes his contribution. But the delay and interruptions have increased my expectations!

            Anyway, Doc, kindly wait for Fred to response before you derail me any further. I saw your own contributions and if I really wanted to engage you, I would have.

            Many thanks for understanding!

          • It seems I have you mixed up with Doc Vicky from Ark’s blog. Sorry about that. What’s your name please…?

          • Dina says:

            Ufuoma,

            I’m sorry you were so deeply offended by my contribution, but I agree with Rough that your strong words (“indecent” and “inappropriate”) are a little over the top. This is a public forum and I do try to respect others. I am quick to apologize when I fall short. I hope you will not dismiss Fred’s response on account of my interruption.

            Thank you,
            Dina

          • Hi Dina,

            I was not deeply offended by your contribution. For me to say that interruptions of that nature are indecent or inappropriate is merely stating facts. And believe me, those are gentle and not strong words. Consider what has come out of that small interruption – all because I admitted that “I sort of mind”! Does that sound like someone who’s deeply offended? So, my defending my right to mind an interruption has now become the issue rather than Fred’s heart-revealing post. Can you not see the problem?

            What was a small scratch has now left a ridiculous sore. When will you guys stop picking at it? You’re the ones showing that you get easily offended by people’s right to take offense at your ill-judged actions.

          • Dina says:

            Hi Ufuoma,

            I would like therefore to direct you, if I may, back to Fred’s story. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it.

            Thanks,
            Dina

          • Direct me? I’ve read it. And I shared my thoughts already. I found it interesting. However, I wanted to clarify a few things I wasn’t clear on.

            Now it sounds like you want to become the moderator here. Is this actually your blog?

          • Dina says:

            Ufuoma, I’m not the moderator and this is not my blog, I’m just curious. Although this is not my blog, I’m a very active commenter because this is one of my favorite topics. I hope that clears things up for you.

            Fred posted his response to your question here:

            https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/why-i-left-jesus-by-fred/#comment-23441

            I was just curious to hear what you thought of it, and I didn’t see your response. Perhaps you haven’t read it yet?

            Peace,
            Dina

          • No I haven’t read it, because he didn’t reply me directly. Or maybe it’s a WordPress error. Thanks for sharing the link.

  19. Concerned Reader says:

    I would counter that by saying that atheists, who comprise a tiny minority of the world’s population, dismiss the beliefs of nearly everyone else on the planet.

    Dina, you don’t really believe this? Do you? Judaism (before Christianity and Islam existed) literally dismissed the spiritualistic beliefs of EVERY CULTURE ON EARTH, despite being a very tiny nation. The only reason that “nearly everyone” is religious, is because of remnants of polytheism, and these “wrong” monotheism’s of Christianity and Islam.

    Given the violence (at worst) and the apathy (at best) that has characterized the history of western religions, I would think twice about calling the atheist/agnostic out on his/her dismissing the theistic position. Can you blame them for doubting, when here you are defending Judaism against its larger equally zealous offspring?

    • Dina says:

      Con, I’m surprised at you. You must have not read my entire comment, nor did you understand its context.

      The accusation I was countering was that religious people dismiss the beliefs of everyone who does not believe as they do. I responded by saying that atheists do the same, and then I added that I have no problem with that. I said that if you believe your beliefs are the correct ones then you are right to reject everyone else’s. Please read my entire comment in the context of the conversation and you will see why I find your response so baffling.

      I also think it’s ridiculous, forgive me, to say that it’s understandable for atheists to reject theism because of the violence it has produced in light of the fact that secular ideologies in the twentieth century alone caused more deaths than all the world religions in all of history combined (about 100 million due to Communism and 60 million as a result of Nazism).

      I don’t blame atheists for doubting. Where did you get that idea from?

      This is very disappointing, Con.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        Dina, when I once brought up those statistics (highlighting the role and breadth of secular violence) in the past (as compared to say, Christianity’s faith based violence,) you saw it as utterly inconsequential in light of the fact that it was the Church’s unrelenting influence through the ages bringing violence and hate to fruition (as the chief motivator.) Now, here you are marshaling that same data to say the opposite, that it is secularism, not religion mainly that has been essential in adding more violence than ever in history. You have yourself proven how violent religions can be (in the case of Christianity and Islam,) so why not stick with the original data and follow through with it?

        I genuinely don’t blame atheists for doubting G-d’s existence in light of all that history of extreme religious violence. This entire blog exists solely to thwart Christian attempts at proselytizing, and to highlight a history of hate. It is a blog devoted to one theism versus another theism. What is an agnostic to make of all the contradictory information presented herein? If an atheist person becomes Christian, or Muslim, this site sees those brands of theism as a contradiction in terms, and idolatrous.

        You are always saying, “where is the problem if the belief is the truth?” But, that question itself highlights the problem. ALL THEISTS BELIEVE (to the point of either condoning violence or condoning martyrdom,) that their claims are the truest Truth.

        When atheists dismiss theistic claims, it is most often a rejection from the realm of miracles, etc. not the good or ethical things. Judaism also doesn’t rest on miracle. For example, most atheists I know believe in the golden rule, not stealing, being holy etc. The only area of contention they have is in positing things that require a fundamental sense of faith without observable verifiable evidence or a strong degree of probability. Jews use this same standard against Christianity’s unverifiable miracle claims.

        “I said that if you believe your beliefs are the correct ones then you are right to reject everyone else’s.”

        Actually Dina, I couldn’t disagree with you more strongly there. It is not “right” or good to dismiss the views of others simply because you “believe strongly that you are right.”

        As an example, Christians dismissed Jews for centuries, just because they likewise believed in the view that you are advocating above. They believed they “knew the truth,” so it was ok to dismiss Jews and others. Look at all the hell they have wrought in this world. A person should strive to know things, but never assume to know because of belief, that’s the whole point. If you believe in the absolute truth of G-d, and his Torah you should have the humility of heart to be able to truly question and cross examine your own faith with as much zeal as you do any other belief system.

        Unfortunately, that is where all world religion falls short. All Religions say exactly what you did just there: “I responded by saying that atheists do the same, and then I added that I have no problem with that. I said that if you believe your beliefs are the correct ones then you are right to reject everyone else’s.”

        Dina, you should have a very large problem with a given theist’s assumption of possessing “truth,” because you have to fight that exact unfounded assumption every day. The Christians and Muslims use the exact same line of reasoning you have just used, IE “I should reject everyone else’s view because I believe I have the truth.” It’s Just ridiculous. respectfully.

        • Dina says:

          Con, either I did not make myself clear or you misunderstood me, so I will try to clarify.

          First, I do not recall ever saying that religious violence was worse than or led to all secular violence. I did say that the particular Nazi war against the Jews was the result of Christian anti-Semitism because the Nazis were influenced by centuries of Christian Jew hatred, so even though Nazism was a secular ideology, when secularists abandoned Christianity they retained their Jew hatred (a lot of historians like William Nicholls and Malcolm Hay have made this observation). However, Nazism caused 60 million deaths approximately, so I am now discussing it from a different angle. The 60 million gentile deaths were as a result of Nazism causing World War II and was not the same as the Holocaust.

          Communism had nothing to do with the teachings of the Church and caused about 100 to 150 million deaths. I have not discussed Communism with any of my Christian opponents on this blog as far as I can remember.

          The fact is, secular ideologies have been more violent than religious ones, so the secularist cannot smugly point to religions and say they are the cause of all evil; he has to confront the problem of secularism as well. I he wants to dismiss religion because of violence then he needs to be consistent and reject secularism because of violence.

          Now as it happens, I agree that violence caused by religion is a good reason to doubt that religion. But that wasn’t my point! Do you see what I am saying?

          You disagreed with my statement: ““I said that if you believe your beliefs are the correct ones then you are right to reject everyone else’s.”

          Here I see where I wasn’t clear, so let me add this: If you have done your due diligence, examined all the evidence from every angle, and then whatever belief you conclude is correct is the belief you choose–then it makes sense to reject everyone else’s. We can’t all be right! Either all of us are wrong or one of us is right, there is no other option. But what I am not saying is your example that “Christians dismissed Jews for centuries, just because they likewise believed in the view that you are advocating above.”

          That’s because I did not say anything about dismissing people but about dismissing beliefs. Honest people can disagree and still be friends. Live and let live, and all of that.

          Now do you see where you have misunderstood me?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Yes, I do partially understand your point. Yet, at the same time, people can still do their due diligence, homework, etc. and still be wrong about something, that’s my whole point. There is indeed a third option, ie an inability to know when lacking information.

            Take Christianity as the prime example.

            1. Christians point to Daniel 9 and say Aha! That could have been Jesus. Rashi says the anointed who was “cut off” during second temple times was Agrippa who died in 40 C.E. and it couldn’t also be some rabbi like Jesus who died 10 years earlier?

            2. Judaism has a belief in the warrior messiah ben Joseph who dies (even though the belief is rather late,) and they use texts like Isaiah 53 to describe his role, as well as the suffering of Israel collectively. It couldn’t be Jesus too in light of that?

            3. The same type of proto-theology and devotion to a leader has emerged among different Jewish groups like the Sabbatians and then Chabad in later Jewish history. Sure, they too fly in the face of Deuteronomy 4 in their devotion, but all those angel texts in the Tanakh at least appear to walk the same line of ambiguity without issue, and this is all occurring in a religious Jewish setting.

            4.Texts like Isaiah 49:4 (describing the state of Israel in exile gaining converts/unable to convince the people to repent,) can also be construed as a messianic figure lamenting that he couldn’t gather the people, SO G-D SENDS HIM TO THE NON JEWS!

            Even though you can know the Christian theology is wrong as per Jewish law, the fact that it has been replicated more than once, that it has aspects that are traditionally acceptable, and that it has happened in very religious circles, illustrates the problem. Even when you do your homework, there is still room for conclusions that aren’t right as per Judaism’s view, because people have different methods and wear different goggles when asking questions.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            So, my point is, you can have a belief in “truth” and still be wrong. Its just fact.

  20. Fred says:

    Ufuoma,
    I was born a white, Anglo Saxon Protestant in the Pacific Northwest in America. My parents attended many churches, and so did I. My parents raised us Portestant until I was 14 and then they switched to Catholicism because it fit their [smoking, drinking gambling] lifestyle better. So in answer to your question I arrived at Judaism because:
    1- God has worked in my life and has revealed Himself to me as the One God of Abraham.
    2- Judaism is the religion of the One God of Abraham.
    3- Islam is a hybrid religion that combines Arab culture, Christian concepts and Judaistic concepts.Islam, like Christianity, is a religion of promises that cannot be seen, such as 72 virgins. Moreover, when it comes to Islam, I am convinced by history that the ISIS/Taliban version of Islam is the authentic one, and I have no interest in a religion of oppression and violence toward those who think differently…and do feel they misrepresent the God they claim to worship. 72 virgins for dying while killing “Infidels”? Really?

    Judaism is by far the most intelligent of theistic faiths, and presents a God that I not only know personally ( go ahead and laugh) but one that makes sense of the human nature and human choice. I have everything I will ever need in Judaism. I have also studied the Eastern religions such as Zen and Hinduism. But since I have experienced God on an intimate and personal level, I cannot accept anything but monotheism.

    4- Jesus “as a prophet” is one of the compromises that Islam makes in trying to combine monotheistic faiths. There was, as I understand, a connection between Muhammad and the church of Rome. Jesus never proved Himself to be a prophet, but did prove himself to be a false one, if he actually claimed to be one at all.
    5- Although I can break the New testament into “pieces of Jesus”, and actually follow the evolution of his story from opinionated and controversial apocalyptic Jewish street preacher ( which is what I truly believe He was) to Messiah, to begotten son of God, to God himself, Christianity itself does not allow for that option. One either accepts everything the NT says or he does not. A “partially inspired NT” and a “somewhat divine” Jesus are not what the NT as a whole or what Christianity of any kind teaches. And while Islam tries to break Jesus into a “partial messiah”, whom they believe will have a second coming, I think such a view is a hybrid denial of both the Jewish view, and of the Christian view, finding itself in doctrinal and theological no man’s land where you either believe Muhammad or you don’t. One is not at liberty to say, “I believe some of what Muhammad said, but only some of it”. However, Judaism is built on a personal relationship with God through the Torah. And your view is continually growing and your knowledge growing, you are free to have a different opinion on certain issues ( within the accepted framework of the religion) without reprisal or rejection as a Jew. A Jew who is pro-choice is just as Jewish as one who is Pro-life. Some are liberals, some are conservatives. Some believe in theistic evolution, some take the Torah as it reads in that subject, some believe Genesis is completely allegorical.

    For me, Jewish is what I truly am on the inside. Everything about my personality, my motivations and my way of thinking drips of Judaism and always has. That is why one commentator said “welcome home”, not “welcome to Judaism”.

    • Hi Fred, I really appreciate your well thought out answer and you have fully answered my questions. Thanks!

      I thought it was interesting because I rejected Catholicism because of their over-emphasis on Mary, so your rejection of Christianity based on our exaltation of Christ was interesting to digest.

      I don’t know why you added “go ahead an laugh”. Why would I? My own faith is built on a personal relationship with God who I also know personally and who has revealed Himself to me repeatedly. It’s just mind boggling that we all have our own profound experiences of God, but end up on different sides of the fence. But whichever of us is wrong, God is not wrong.

      I wish you the best!!!

      Sincerely, Ufuoma.

      • Fred says:

        My mistake, I assumed you were another antitheist looking to try to mock my walk with God. My apologies.

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          No, Fred, Ufuoma is a Christian with a very volatile temper.

        • Ufuomaee says:

          I can never mock belief and faith in God. God is universal and will bring His people together, even against our different belief systems.

          Have a great day!

          • Arkenaten says:

            You mock Catholics, and they invented your religion. ( if you discount Judaism, of course)

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Careful, Ark – the last time I addressed Ufuoma (on Knowledge Guild), she called me a liar and went up one side of me and down the other. It tickled.

            (She mistakenly believed I wrote Kuba’s blog, but when informed otherwise, offered no apology!)

          • Ufuomaee says:

            I don’t mock Catholics, I just disagree with them.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Is that not a form of mockery?
            And surely you should be a lot more respectful as it was the Catholics that invented your religion and thanks to the urging of everyone’s favorite wife and child murdering Genuine Christian(TM), Emperor Constantine, along with some help from that lying SOB Eusebius, compiled the New Testament.
            I am surprised all Christians don’t have a little Constantine Action Figure ( with real moving parts, only 9.99 ) on a Key-ring or something as a sign of gratitude.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            How can disagreement be a form of mockery? Maybe for you they are one and the same, but there is such as thing as respectfully disagreeing with someone.

            Why should I be thankful at the concept of my faith being invented

          • Arkenaten says:

            Well, because if the church had not invented t you would not have had a religion.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            By the same vein, I expect that you accept that Darwin invented your religion!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            By that, you must mean that Darwin objectively investigated how life changed from single-celled organisms to complex lifeforms, instead of automatically believing that everything was blinked into existence, as is.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            No, by that I mean that he fed you the evolution lie you were deeply craving

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I can’t believe, Ufuoma, that someone as intelligent as you have appeared in the past to be, could possibly believe that. I’m aware that you live in Nigeria, where education is not of the highest quality, but your first language, by your own words, was English, so I must assume you have had the advantage of a reasonably decent education, yet you still doubt that species evolved, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. I can’t even find words, and I’m generally quite loquacious, to describe how I feel about that degree of a total waste of education on what would otherwise appear to be an above average mind.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            What evidence? Your theoretical assumptions are not evidence, especially when they are cooked out of a desire to reject God.

            I believe everything you believe about what is out there and the vastness of the universe, I just believe GOD DID IT!

            Please stop trying to insult me that my ancestors evolved from apes.

            My education was not at all wasted. You feelings that I learnt so much in school yet rejected your prize doctrine is more evident of your indoctrination not my foolishness. Intelligence is not measured in how much rubbish you can consume. You take in what you believe to be true and reject the rest.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Please stop trying to insult me that my ancestors evolved from apes.” – You and I are both apes, Ufuoma, of the species Homo sapiens sapiens – I can’t imagine why knowing that would bother you. Dogs evolved from wolves, but I’ve yet to find one that is upset about it.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            I am not an ape. Your evolution theory is so bogus because if we evolved, we are certainly still evolving… yet, there is no documented evidence that any human is turning into another form, apart from human! Do you have a lab of those evolving and developing tails and extra hands or legs?

            I think it is funny how you feel that insulting me and demeaning my intelligence in rejecting your bogus theory will in any way turn me around to agree with you! If school didn’t do it, it’s better you give up the fight.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            if we evolved, we are certainly still evolving…” – We are.

            yet, there is no documented evidence that any human is turning into another form, apart from human! Do you have a lab of those evolving and developing tails and extra hands or legs?” – Clearly you don’t understand how evolution works, which could go a long way toward explaining why you decline to accept it.

            Are you aware that the trait for blue eyes in humans is relatively new? It’s a product of recent (comparatively) mutation in a gene called OCA2 that came into being nearly 8,000 years ago, and can be traced back to an ancestor from the Black Sea. The research was published in the Journal of Human Genetics.

            As for tails, each of us have a vestigial tail from times when our ancestors had one – ask any medical doctor – believe it or not, you have one too.

            I think it is funny how you feel that insulting me and demeaning my intelligence in rejecting your bogus theory will in any way turn me around to agree with you!” – I neither insulted you NOR demeaned your intelligence. All of the intelligence in the world does no good if it goes unused.

            If school didn’t do it, it’s better you give up the fight.” – So you’re saying you were exposed to the theory of evolution in school and rejected it there as well? How sad.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            When did the theory of evolution develop? It certainly wasn’t thousands of years ago! For all your evidences to make sense, scientists would have had to have been collecting data for thousands of years and collating it.

            I seriously doubt that there’s anyone around now who can attest 100% to your claims of evolution, who can provide evidence for your blue-eyed syndrome! I know that black people are still black, and white are still white. Wouldn’t you have thought we’d have one colour by now?

            All you computers and experiments will never give you 100% proof, because you and your grand scientistssl have only lived in this time, and to make claims on your experiments requires as much faith as the faith I put in God.

            It clear to me that evolution is a theory of convenience… even if it where to be true, it certainly does not disprove God! In any case, I reject it.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I know that black people are still black, and white are still white. Wouldn’t you have thought we’d have one colour by now?

            It’s hard to believe, Ufuoma, that being African, you aren’t aware that humans originated in Africa, then about a hundred thousand years ago, a small group crossed over to the Middle East, multiplied, and eventually spread around the globe.

            Originally, all humans were black, as the melanin in their skin helped protect them from UV rays, but as Humanity spread further north, where the rays of the sun struck less directly, the need to continue to produce melanin diminished, as can be seen in Scandanavians, with their blonde hair and pale skin. Had Humanity remained in Africa, we WOULD have all been one color, as living conditions that brought about the changes in skin color wouldn’t have existed.

            I seriously doubt that there’s anyone around now who can attest 100% to your claims of evolution, who can provide evidence for your blue-eyed syndrome!

            I told you where you could find it – The Journal of Human Genetics – you can look it up yourself, reference Dr. Hans Eiberg, of the University of Copenhagen.

            For all your evidences to make sense, scientists would have had to have been collecting data for thousands of years and collating it.

            Why? They’re collecting and collating them now. I collect antique cars, did I really need to be there when they rolled off the assembly line?

            …even if it where to be true, it certainly does not disprove God! In any case, I reject it.

            I never said it did, you must have inferred that. As for your rejection, I’ve no doubt that somehow the theory will withstand such an assault.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            You use the word theory, as if you understand the liberal implications of such a word, yet you conservatively thrust your theoretical views down my throat, as though it were sacred dogma, while you deride me for holding to my dogmatic views based on faith in God.

            For your information, this is the definition of theory:

            “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.”

            This is the definition of fact:

            “a thing that is known or proved to be true.”

            When your doctrine progresses from theory to fact, then you can bother me with it. Until then, I don’t really give a flying “evolution”. Read between the lines.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            theory
            [thee-uh-ree, theer-ee]
            noun, plural theories.
            1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity.
            Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

            Scientific theories differ significantly from the common definition of the word, ‘theory.’ We have gone to the moon, several times, based of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. A scientific theory is evidence-based, tested and peer-reviewed, not just something someone dreamed up. I’m not really sure how much good your education has done you.

            You were quick to define fact, let’s see your definition of belief

          • Ufuomaee says:

            My definition of belief does not change my belief! My rejection of evolution as an explanation for our existence also does not change the fact that I accept other scientific theories! I was excellent at physics and maths and used laws and formulas myself. I have a scientific mind in that respect. Many scientists initially rejected the evolution theory. Even now, I doubt there is a 100% concensus on it. Accepting it will change my life in no way, but I do not wish to propagate your anti-God agenda.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I can’t think of much that you and I will ever agree on, Ufuoma.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            Glad to end the discussion there.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            When your doctrine progresses from theory to fact, then you can bother me with it.” – How about I do that right after your religion progresses from belief to fact?

            Until then, I don’t really give a flying “evolution”. Read between the lines.” – Getting a bit snippy, aren’t you?

          • Ufuomaee says:

            Arch, I have ceased to bother you with my religious beliefs. Kindly extend me the same courtesy!

            Even your definition of theory acknowledges that doctrine is a synonym. Just because it is scientific doesn’t mean you are not dogmatic or religious about it! In fact, I think you’re much more fundamental than I am.

            Kindly leave me be, if you have any respect for my human right not to accept your religion!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I only comment in response to yours.

          • Ufuomaee says:

            My comments were not for you. If I want to engage you, I know where to find you.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            (blows kisses)

          • Arkenaten says:

            Lol. Atheism is not a religion, dear.
            Another reason why those who do not believe in your make-believe sky daddy – or any other – consider such believers as wantonly and willfully ignorant.

            I have explained the definition of atheism to you on several occasions and if you are still not happy then simply Google for the explanation from someone else.

            At best, you practice Pauline Theology and let’ remind ourselves there is no guarantee that he was a genuine historical character either as there is no non biblical record of the bible’s famous tent-maker, good old Saul of Tarsus.

            And remember, Marcion wished to ditch old Yahweh entirely as he thought, rightfully so, he was a ( Canaanite) Jewish god and a rather nasty piece of work, to boot.
            But the church was having none of it, as they wanted Hell and Original Sin included so this is why they had to invent a religion that included a man-god – Jesus of nowhere Nazareth.

            You claim to be a devout believer so why the hell don’t you lot ever study the history of your damn religion for the gods’ sake?

            Are you afraid of discovering the atheist might be right or are you simply too damn lazy?

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      72 virgins for dying while killing ‘Infidels’? Really?
      In the unlikely event that that should come to pass, there’s always a good chance that it may not turn out exactly as anticipated —

  21. Fred says:

    And an interesting side-note. My late father in law was a pioneering genetics scientist and University professor. He was also a lifelong liberal Christian, but thought of Judaism as “the thinking man’s religion”. He never converted, but he always thought it was the most intellectually credible. And this from a well-traveled and highly educated Yale alum who had been pretty much everywhere and exposed to many cultures. He was even involved in the Nuremberg trials during his military career. He would not reveal in what capacity, however. I saw the photos. so I know he was there.

  22. shields3 says:

    Fred with all these religions to choose from with the doctrine of each one containing overlapping and entwining stories with different views about the main characters and divine individuals, the controversial events and many various interpretations over many years from many different people, how can you know what is the right one to put faith into? Even if one looks or feels more authentic does this situation not tell you something?

    From my perspective it tells me as an atheist with an average understanding of religions that the writers of these so called holly books were intent of claiming authenticity over other religions and if the truth could be adjusted to suit it was. It is absolutely impossible to believe that everything written many thousands of years ago by largely uneducated superstitious peoples could be in the realm of truth. The bible has been demonstrated to contain some historical place names; however that is about as good as it gets, and as we have so much conflict and discrimination between them why would anyone want to bother with any religion at all?

  23. Fred says:

    >>>>>>It is absolutely impossible to believe that everything written many thousands of years ago by largely uneducated superstitious peoples could be in the realm of truth. <<<<

    Yet, people like you and your friends here accept ANY ancient Egyptian writings as factual that would appear to contradict Torah. The same Egyptians who were far more superstitious than the Hebrews ever were. It sounds like the only source you would really accept as factual and believable are those who are from people who share your beliefs. In that sense, once again, you prove that atheism is a fundamentalist religion, in fact a cult. I think you do not know the difference between superstition and knowledge of the supernatural or belief in God.

    Some of the most superstitious people I know are non-religious: wearing "rally caps" when their baseball team is losing, stacking matchbooks or bringing charms to help win in bingo, not stepping on cracks and other silly rituals meant to bring good luck or to prevent bad luck.

    • shields3 says:

      Fred, I and I would say most atheists do not discriminate against religions because of ancient Egyptian writing, however it does along with many other controversial issues offer the arguments and consequential uncertainty that any religions were ever based on solid facts. I do not know how this issue or having a superstition makes atheism a cult or fundamentalist religion.

      Atheism is the default, we are born atheists and we maintain our right to not believe in any god, so please check your dictionary on the definitions of religion and atheist before you come out with such sweeping claims.

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        “It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists, and if religion were not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.”
        — Ernestine Rose —

  24. Concerned Reader says:

    It sounds like the only source you would really accept as factual and believable are those who are from people who share your beliefs.

    Fred, I don’t mean to interrupt, but that’s just ridiculous. Have you ever read Philo? He too used Egyptian historical sources (Manetho and others) to try and equate the Hebrews with the hyksos people. The problem with hypothesis was that these people had a kingdom in Egypt, they weren’t slaves.

    Nearly every Jewish philosopher worth his salt has examined the wisdom of the world’s nations through the lens of Jewish law to glean from it. We trust Egyptian history for one reason, its very well documented (as ancient history goes,) and is corroborated by Archaeology and the data available from nearby cultures. Studying the ancient near east without some references to Ugarit, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian sources would be like studying the history of WWII without consulting American, British, German, or Japanese records available on the subject. There is a certain way history is done.

    Dismissing the available Data for reasons of ideological bent is the first step to rationalizing a belief that lacks a substantial basis. Biblical Chronology is unique unto itself as a source, so, historians, in order to try and anchor its statements, have no choice but to use the Egyptian and Roman historical and chronological data. Throw any of that out, and the only evidence you have for anything stated in the sacred text is circular reasoning from that same text. You can’t use the source in question (Torah) to prove that Torah is true without falling pray to circular reasoning. Judaism has used this same standard against Christianity and Islam to great effect. The Torah must also have an anchor in history, because it makes a historical claim.

    If you are interested in an amusing little documentary check out “Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus.”

    You will see that we can place Canaanite peoples in Egypt, (just not during the right time period, and that the people suffered from malnutrition, not slavery.) The reasons mainstream scholars doubt the Exodus is because there is simply not enough evidence to determine the truth of the claim. Even if we want the data to fit the Bible, it throws out what we know of the available corroborated chronological order of things. Scholars want to find the data, trust me.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      “yet, people like you and your friends here accept ANY ancient Egyptian writings as factual that would appear to contradict Torah.”

      Do you think that the thousands of evangelical scholars that look into Egyptology want the archaeological or documentary data available on the Exodus to be so Meager? I for one would love it if the Bible had simply done two things. Tell me Pharaoh’s Egyptian name, and the date on Egypt’s calendar in which he ruled. Give a watch to that documentary.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Con,

      I agree that we should not dismiss archaeological evidence simply because it does not suit our religious beliefs. Nevertheless, when studying ancient records it’s important to bear in mind that ancient histories were more often works of propaganda aimed at glorifying whichever civilization the historian belonged to, rather than a serious attempt at objectively recording history. Therefore, if an ancient record contradicts the Torah, it does not necessarily mean that the ancient record is the more accurate of the two. To assume that those records are always correct when there is a contradiction is to reveal a bias (albeit perhaps an unconscious one) against the Torah. This is even true of historians like Josephus–we know that some of his claims were greatly exaggerated.

      Archaeology is not an exact science. For years, archaeologists insisted that David was a mythical figure, until a column from his time period bearing the inscription “House of David” turned up.

      Archaeology is all well and good as far as it goes–but it doesn’t go far enough.

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        when studying ancient records it’s important to bear in mind that ancient histories were more often works of propaganda aimed at glorifying whichever civilization the historian belonged to, rather than a serious attempt at objectively recording history.

        I sincerely hope, Dina, that you will consider that that is as true of the Tanakh, as it is of any other attempt at ancient history.

        “History, as usual, will lie.”
        — General Cornwallis —

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      William G. Dever, son of a minister and possessing a Harvard doctorate in biblical theology, spent 30 years in the Levant as an archaeologist, having gone there originally to prove the Bible true, and returned an atheist.

      In his book, “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?” he writes: “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible ‘historical figures.’” He writes of archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as having been “discarded as a fruitless pursuit.

  25. Pingback: My God is More Real Than Your God. | A Tale Unfolds

  26. Concerned Reader says:

    It’s important to bear in mind that ancient histories were more often works of propaganda aimed at glorifying whichever civilization the historian belonged to, rather than a serious attempt at objectively recording history.

    Dina, off course historians know that, and that’s why historians are taught as part of the profession to rigorously cross examine the stories of different culture’s and their various sources, so we can get the clearest picture possible. Why else do you think I myself am so skeptical? I’ve been taught to question the available sources, not to take them at face value.

    As an example, in Egyptian history, there is not much mention of the Pharaoh Akhenaten in primary written sources. He rejected all the traditional deities of ancient Egypt and so was unpopular. As a result, Egyptians attempted to erase references to him. They failed, but not for lack of effort. Its near impossible to erase things that actually happened. We know about him because modern historians can piece together available information, both written and archaeological from different sources in different cultures. No historian takes a single source at face value, sacred or otherwise.

    • Dina says:

      Good, I’m always glad when we agree on something, Con!

    • Arkenaten says:

      Excellent, Con!
      And this is why the story of Moses and the Exodus has no historical veracity whatsoever.
      There is no evidence. And we are not simply talking of that old trope ”Absence of evidence etc..”.
      Because there is evidence of the Settlement Pattern of Canaan and it most certainly did not involve the sudden arrival of 2 million wandering Israelites completely fed up from spending forty years munching on Manna and damn Quail!

      And if mainstream Judaism acknowledges this as fact, then what’s the matter with die-hard fundamentalists?

      • Arkenaten
        Did you read the works of Kenneth Kitchen?

          • Arkenaten
            I don’t understand your code – and I wrote an article explaining why they are two different TYPES of events/testimonies to answer your question – if you want to understand where I am coming from read what I wrote

          • Arkenaten says:

            Kitchen is an Egyptologist. And also an Evangelical Christian.
            This is extremely important and governs his worldview which includes a
            conservative interpretation of the Old Testament.
            He is not an authority on the archaeology.
            Do you understand the significance?

            So, to reiterate. The Exodus is a fictional event. It never happened. And this is accepted as fact by the vast majority of archaeologists, and biblical scholars across the globe.
            Are there any more serious questions?

        • Arkenaten says:

          @youphariseefriend

          I will add: I do not mean to come across as holier than thou or smug, but please, take it as a given I have studied this topic and researched it as well – for years.

          Also, if you wish to present an argument, you can skip philosophy.

          Evidence and evidence alone. And it better be peer reviewed and accepted.
          Hope this makes thing clear and easier for you?

  27. Fred says:

    >>>>>It’s my personal opinion that Judaism began when a group on nomadic worshipers of Amurru (Google him) joined for a time – perhaps as long as 50 years – with a group of Midianites/Kennites, who happened to worship an obscure desert storm god they called YHWH, and over the length of their association with the second group, the first group merged the two god-concepts (as evidenced in Exodus 6:3) into a single entity.<<<<

    Yes, I have read National Geographic, too! 🙂

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      That brings back memories – I haven’t thumbed through one of those since I was a teenager, looking for pictures of native girls in their birthday suits. But it’s good to know you’re an avid reader, though I’m not sure how relevant is is to the subject.

  28. Fred says:

    Oh, and your chimp video narrator perfectly illustrates your paradigm, how you interpret facts and skew language to support your own worldview. It drips with intellectual dishonesty. Thanks for posting it!
    Chimps submitting to dominant male chimpanzee = people worshiping God. LOL! Now, if he would have compared the dominant male chimp to the biker gang leader, the starting QB or even an emperor, he might have a point. But to make the jump and use “supreme being”, that is just comical, except that antitheists ( notice I did not say atheists) do see themselves as the universal supreme beings. Pardon me if I do not kiss your hand.

  29. Sharbano says:

    I find the similarity interesting, in that ‘atheists’ have little difference with Xtians in regards to the efforts to remove Judaism from the Jew. Instead of a ‘new’ god the only difference is ‘no’ god.

  30. Fred says:

    That is true, Sharbano, but I see a vast difference between atheists and antitheists. The former see no reason to mock or deride others, while the latter spend their time attacking and sending missionaries to “convert” others to their belief system. I have friends and relatives who are atheists and find no reason to attack or mock anyone. Like us, they just want to be left alone to seek their own way.

    My best friend John was atheist when we met in 2009 ( I was a realtor and sold him and his wife a home) and became friends. Over time, he noticed the “uncanny coincidences” that seemed to always happen in my life, so he opened his mind to the possibility of a “higher power”, becoming agnostic around 2011. By 2012, he began to realize that similar “coincidences” had happened to him as well, but that he had previously failed to recognize them anything but coincidences being as how he had no religious upbringing or inclination of any kind. He came to accept that there must be a higher power, but that he did not know who or what this power was or which religion, if any, understood Him/it correctly.

    John is my “hero” in terms of an open-minded and intelligent person who knows how the world works, that politics has taken over pretty much every facet of civilization, and thus every publicized opinion has a preconceived bias and agenda. John has the utmost respect for my position, and also knows I am open-minded and intellectually honest, thus we have wonderful conversations about important topics. John is still, in his words, “Not very religious”, but enjoys speaking with me on these issues and respects my opinions.

    As I once told my High school students, “Finding truth is like trying to play chess against yourself. Eventually, your human nature will “pull” for one side to win and will actually sabotage one side so one side can win.” Try it sometime. Not easy to do!

  31. Fred says:

    I see absolutely no evidence that the antitheists posting here have ever tried to be objective regarding the Bible. As one poster wrote:”Evidence and evidence alone. And it better be peer reviewed and accepted.”

    Translation: “Peer-reviewed”-by atheists, “accepted”- by atheists. He knows the deck is stacked in his favor when it comes to academia,since the onjy academia he would “accept” is secular/atheist academia. Thus that is the only “evidence” or interpretation of “evidence” he will accept. The truth is, the poster does accept much of what Exodus reports as “peer-reviewed” and “accepted” fact: Egypt existed, Goshen existed, Rameses ( both the city and the persons) existed, Midian existed, the Red Sea existed, Sinai existed. Egypt had Pharoahs, there were officials in Rameses II administration named Moses, etc. So even Arkenaten believes much of Exodus, he just does not accept several unproven, or in his opinion “unprovable” points.

    For example, anything in Exodus that involves interaction between Israelites, such as the giving of the Law, Moses before the burning bush, etc, can only be substantiated by Torah, since that is the only written record of such interaction between Israelites that did not involve another nation or culture. So throw that out.

    He agrees that the places mentioned in Exodus existed, and that accounts for a certain percentage of the story, so he cannot say “it is 100% fiction”. He can only find fault with those things attributed to Egypt that appear in contradiction with Egyptian records….as found, understood, translated and interpreted by those who share his bias; the only ones he will listen to. Yet, that accounts for only about 25% of the Exodus story. So he can only state that about 25% have been “proven” to conflict with Torah according to the latest data. The real question, and this cannot be proven, is if that final 25% is confirmed according to his own biased sources, will he admit error? Only God knows.

    • Hello Fred,

      I just want to provide a point of clarification here that the meaning of “peer-reviewed” is not what you are describing it to be. All the term means is that other people can take the evidence you offer and evaluate its truthfulness and accuracy for themselves. These evaluations can then be compared so people can know something is true based on independent principles.

      The analogy you draw here is like that of an historical fiction. Just because some parts existed doesn’t mean that everything in it is 100% true. People have gone out and verified that Ramses existed, and that ancient Egypt had several dynasties, and that’s fine. But we do not have the same level of verification for burning bushes, parted seas, and other claims of that nature.

      Right now, the stance you have taken in your above comment is circular. People must agree with your belief in order to agree that the evidence leads to the conclusion you claim it is. So, the reasoning is that it is true because it is already believed to be true.

      What I invite you to consider is that requiring people to agree with your outlook is no different than the pastor in your SDA church saying that a human needed to be sacrificed on a cross. Notice how people must already believe that Jesus is the son of a deity in order to believe that he died for everyone’s sins.

    • makagutu says:

      Hi Fred,

      I am interested in a few things. How would one read the bible objectively? Does this mean reading it as you wish we read it or is there some special way to read it objectively?

      I don’t think everyone in academia is atheist. I don’t recall where peer review meant atheist review. But I don’t know how to peer review supernatural claims. How do we review the claim that the bible authors were inspired by a god? Is this to be taken on their say so or there is an external and independent way to verify such a claim that doesn’t resort to faith claims?

      Among the stories we were told as kids was that of Lwanda Magere whose achievements parallel those of Samson, in his case, his strength was in his shadow. Pierce his shadow and you kill him. This story mentions extant place names. Are we to believe this story because it includes the place names that are known today?

      • Fred says:

        One reads the BIble objectively by comparing scripture with scripture and letting it interpret itself. Now I am not talking about comparing the Bible with Assyrian texts, Chinese legends, or the Book of the Dead. I am talking about taking it from the starting point of accepting it for what it is. That is a different question than what you are asking. This website exists for the purpose of Jewish monotheists and Christians to discuss what the Bible means, since both groups come into the discussion viewing the Tanakh as true and inspired scripture. This website was not put here to defend Monotheism against antitheist missionaries. I understand that antitheists enjoy comparing the Hebrew scriptures to local folklore, fairy tales, etc. But Tanakh is different in that it encompasses far more than just “outlandish stories of miracles”. How many of those folklore legends include medical information 3 millenia ahead of its time? How many speak of the earth as a globe and not flat? How many perfectly describe the weather cycle and the evaporation of water into clouds? How many speak of resting cropland for a year, which replenishes the minerals? How many have set up advanced civilized societies that survived thousands of years with the same laws?

        No, not EVERYONE in academia is an atheist, but that is not the point. The atheistic contingency controls academia, so that is a different issue. besides I was responding to a certain person and his personal biases. Let me ask you this. Would you accept a paper as “peer-reviewed” if those peers were made up of scholars from Southern Methodist, Biola, Providence, Notre Dame and Azuza Pacific? I mean, not EVERY professor from those colleges is a Christian.

        But back to the other. Do you then doubt the millions of claims of supernatural phenomenon? Lets say that 99% of them are hogwash, made-up stories by people with active imaginations. That still leaves many thousands of stories that must have some root in fact. Some miracles are well-documented and are not even argued over by those on opposite sides of the theological fence. One would be the red ribbon on the head of the yom kippur goat. Christians do not deny that this event took pace, since it is well-documented by scribes and witnesses. So nobody disagrees that a red ribbon turned white, they disagree on the interpretation of what it meant when it did not turn white, and some years it did not.

        You can read about it here: https://outreachjudaism.org/yomkippur/

        • Sharbano says:

          Considering the lack of a common frame of reference I see little benefit or purpose in such a debate.

          • makagutu says:

            Sharbano, you may be right but I would be interested in knowing why have debate if it is only with people you agree with? Why not just have a choir?

          • Sharbano says:

            There’s a difference between disagreement AND a common frame of reference.
            Atheism would assert man created his gods. I think this is unlikely. If there were no creator then why would mankind look for some entity above. Without a creator it has to be assumed there had been a gradual knowledge of self-awareness and therefore any event would not have been a cause in man believing some unknown entity was the cause.

          • makagutu says:

            You seem to underestimate humanity’s ability to create. I don’t know why you think our great grandparents would not create gods, a thing that requires no raw materials other than ignorance of nature.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            If there were no creator then why would mankind look for some entity above.” – Because that’s where weather comes from. Mankind, as it often does, assigned agency where there was none.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Atheism would assert man created his gods. I think this is unlikely. If there were no creator then why would mankind look for some entity above.

            So as far as you are concerned Quetzalcoatl, for example is not man made by Real.
            I see.
            And this must also apply to all the Canaanite gods, yes, including Yahweh and his escort of course?

            Where do you stand on Thor and Odin?
            As for looking skyward. Try thunder and lightening. Or the Moon and Sun.

            Looking for a reason/agency is not the same this as ”knowing” there are gods.

            Now, say after me: ”Once upon a time ….”

          • Sharbano says:

            As I said, I find it unlikely than ‘primitive’ man would conceive of some unknown, invisible entity that was at the root cause of what he sees. Only if man came on the scene in an instant would he fear something and create a god to describe it. A person would have to use ‘Faith’ to come to that conclusion. But since man is believed to have evolved from a position of non-cognizance of Himself to one of being self-aware and independent thought it has to have occurred in an evolved process. Therefore his surroundings would not be considered in any way catastrophic that would warrant such thinking. It IS fathomable that man Knew OF G-d at the beginning and subsequent generations would consider the creations as “part of” many gods that should also be taken under consideration. Then it is acceptable to assume the many variations from there.

          • Arkenaten says:

            This simply your opinion and has no basis in fact or verifiable evidence. However, there are plenty of scientific studies that demonstrate why humans believe in gods.

            I can organize a link or two if you are remotely interested?
            And please remember, your god is nothing special and was simply one among many of the Canaanite pantheon.

          • Sharbano says:

            It should be quite evident I expressed an opinion but You haven’t addressed the premise. There is no evidence in science of when and how primitive man came to a conclusion in a belief in a god. YOUR assumption was weather events, which must have been based upon fear. A fear wouldn’t likely translate into a belief in a god. This is an assumption, no doubt compounded by movies depicting virgin sacrificing to appease an angry god.

          • Arkenaten says:

            When you say there is no evidence how primitive man came to believe in a god , you mean gods obviously.

            So therefore, as you likely dismiss every Hindu god , your god can be dismissed with exactly the same impunity.
            Unless you have evidence of your god, of course?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            A fear wouldn’t likely translate into a belief in a god.” – Surely you jest!

            “It is fear that first brought gods into the world”
            — Petronius —

            Do you want to discuss all of the hoops that Orthodox Jews jump through every week on Shabbat, to make certain they do no work? Did they ever once ask what would happen if they simply chose not to jump?

            And what about this poor schmuck, terrified of flying over a cemetery and thus getting “evil” on him —

            Remove all fear from religions, tell the people that they all will go to heaven, that none will go to hell, and see how fast you lose adherents.

          • Sharbano says:

            Clearly you know Nothing of Judaism.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Anyone recall that RS (Rough Seas) had Jewish neighbors that asked her to come over and flip light switches for them on Shabbat? If that isn’t fear, I don’t know what it is!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            And please remember, your god is nothing special and was simply one among many of the Canaanite pantheon.” – And a late-comer at that!

          • Sharbano says:

            It sure troubles you that people have a belief in G-d. If you haven’t such a belief why such passion against those who do, since it doesn’t affect you. Such distress usually signals a lack of confidence in one’s views.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Such distress usually signals a lack of confidence in one’s views.” – In whose opinion?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I find it unlikely that man would conceive of some unknown, invisible entity that was at the root cause of what he sees.” – I just presented a brief video that demonstrates that Man’s nearest relative does exactly that, sees forces in the sky that it fears.

            Only if man came on the scene in an instant would he fear something and create a god to describe it.” – What is your reasoning here? We instinctively create agency where there is none.

            Therefore his surroundings would not be considered in any way catastrophic that would warrant such thinking.” – Clearly the apes in the video envisioned the phenomena in their sky to be catastrophic. Your reasoning is murky at best.

        • makagutu says:

          So you say I take scripture and compare with scripture. That would for example mean reading about Lot shagging his daughters and comparing with Onan’s sleeping with his sister in law and let it interpret itself? Somewhere in this thread you have said you are a seeker after truth, I don’t know what problems you have with atheists. And I really don’t see why you should keep defending the motive of the blog unless you are implying no dissent is welcome. Are you implying by your questions also because a tale has lived long then it must be true? If this is your measure, then why don’t you accept the Vedas/ Upanishads or the Buddhist writings?

          I honestly don’t know what you mean by atheist contingency. You care to explain? What are they reviewing? I would first have to read it.

          Yes, without exception. All claims of the supernatural are antecedently unbelievable. I wouldn’t know how to differentiate one claim from the other. Do you have one in mind that you think is believable and you would want me to consider?

          • Fred says:

            I have no problem with athiests whatsoever, since some of my best friends are/were atheists. I have a problem with militant antitheist trolls who make it their business to invade religious websites and spew nonsense about something they have no clue about. As I mentioned before, antitheists are like a blind man saying color must not exist because he himself has not experienced it and has solid evidence that black is all there is….and you cannot prove it unless he sees it himself. Nobody likes to be called a liar,or deluded, which is what all of you are doing. Not only that, some of you have been extremely condescending, mocking, childish and insulting to what is the very center of our being and our existence.

            >>>>If this is your measure, then why don’t you accept the Vedas/ Upanishads or the Buddhist writings?<<<>>>>All claims of the supernatural are antecedently unbelievable. I wouldn’t know how to differentiate one claim from the other. Do you have one in mind that you think is believable and you would want me to consider?<<<<

            No sir, since you would not consider anything other-worldly as believable, according to your own criteria. I get it: if it is "believable" then it is not supernatural, but if it is "unbelieveable" then you would not believe it happened. I know this game and refuse to play. This is not a game, it is serious and powerful stuff. I hope one day God touches you as he touched me. I hope He speaks to you as He spoke to me. Good luck. 🙂

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I have a problem with militant antitheist trolls who make it their business to invade religious websites and spew nonsense about something they have no clue about.

            Many of us were deeply religious until we realized how ridiculous the whole thing was.

            I hope He speaks to you as He spoke to me.

            That’s certainly telling. Were any burning bushes harmed during the course of that conversation?

          • Dina says:

            “Many of us were deeply religious until we realized how ridiculous the whole thing was.”

            If that is the case then you ought to show more compassion and less derision. If you went through this, how about some empathy? Your scorn does not bode well for your credibility. It’s a turn-off, frankly.

          • Dina says:

            Fred, it doesn’t work like that. “I hope one day God touches you as he touched me. I hope He speaks to you as He spoke to me”? That’s what Christians tell us all the time! Spiritual experience cannot be the basis of your faith.

          • makagutu says:

            Fred you have done everything else except answer my questions.
            I don’t know if it is part of the religion to bear false witness. Are they trolls because they disagree with your position? Is everyone who disagrees with you a troll?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Lets say that 99% of them are hogwash, made-up stories by people with active imaginations.

          So if you are prepared to accept that 99% are ”hogwash” why not 100%?
          Why not accept that although this one per cent may be claims from highly respected and intelligent individuals their claims are, nevertheless, simply products of natural phenomena or and/or the mind playing tricks?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          How many have set up advanced civilized societies that survived thousands of years with the same laws?” – The Sumerians, for one, their civilization lasted 4,000 years and their literature was the source for many of the Bible/Tanakh’s stories, such as Noah’s flood. Their ultimate conquerors, the Akkadians, were the source of the baby in the basket fable, as well as the legendary Nimrod, who was a personification of Sargon I. The Akkadians were ultimately conquerored by the Amurrites, whose great ruler, Hammurrabi, the law-giver, was the model for the Biblical Moses.

          • Fred says:

            So you say. You see, I see these kinds of statements the same way I see a fully constructed and illustrated “Piltdown man” family- complete with skin color, hair and soft tissue- all derived from a pig’s tooth, on the cover of a magazine. Oh, wait…

            Besides, How do you know the Sumerians were not the original people described in Genesis? Where was Sumeria? Where was Gan Eden according to Tanakh? Both the BIble and archeology agree on where civilized society began.

            What you are really doing is confirming the Bible Arch, not debunking it. That old friend I told you about tried this too. When I responded, “You mean there are several global flood accounts spread all over the world?” He looked like a deer in the headlights and he stopped talking. You see these other accounts as proof it never happened, I see them as confirmation that it did, and then the story was taken around the world and retold.

            Do me a favor, Arch. I want you to think of something original. Anything. Make up something that does not and never did exist. Something completely new.Then describe it to me.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Besides, How do you know the Sumerians were not the original people described in Genesis?

            Are you saying that the Sumerians were the ancestors of the Jews?

            Do me a favor, Arch. I want you to think of something original. Anything. Make up something that does not and never did exist.” – Truth from a theist.

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          While you’re about it Fred, do you want to tell us of the scientific accuracy of the sun standing still and thereby lengthening the day?

  32. Concerned Reader says:

    Fred, a person can be religious and have no issue at all with secular studies, people understand scripture in myriad different ways. Academia does not commit to anyone’s faith claims, because religions all make mutually exclusive claims, and it would be ridiculous to validate theism just because of “so many little coincidences.” Most of the evidence presented in favor of the historicity of Bible stories for example comes from evangelical Christian scholars, does that mean we should endorse evangelicalism? No! When you use the word anti-theist it is somewhat disingenuous because many (one might even say most) theists are indeed anti atheist and seek the conversion of the non believer to religion. “Religious” is the majority culture, even though its not everybody’s culture. How can you berate the scientists when they are not impeding your ability to practice your faith privately in the least? Atheists are fine with faith in your private life, its the public sphere they worry about.

    Fred, he said the Bible was “historical fiction.” In other words, it has elements of truth mixed with the fantastic. Every religious Jew on this website would say that Christianity is “historical fiction,” so I don’t see why having issues with miraculous claims of religion bothers you so much.

    “as found, understood, translated and interpreted by those who share his bias.” Good sir, I have degrees in both comparative religion and history, and I can assure you, everyone has their biases. Even the die hard evangelicals with a different theory surrounding the Exodus and biblical history are aware that they are a minority opinion in the field with a bias. They know their colleagues don’t agree with them.

    Peer reviewed and accepted material can refer to biblical, or archaeological journals, etc. The problem with accepting theism based on science and probabilities, is that it breeds huge problems when we ask which theisms can be supported.

    Science looks for empirical evidence (the visible evidence,) and the testable hypotheses with repeatable results, and independent attestation from diverse unaffiliated groups, etc.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but if you use that kind of scientific or probabilistic rubric, why isn’t Christianity legitimate? Scholars can test to see if Yeshua of Nazareth was a historical person, we have different written sources from different cultural settingd saying that he was a real person, we have the repeated Messianic movements (not unlike those of early Christianity) arising in later Judaism, and we have the recognized historic impact of Christianity on the western world. There is lots of empirical data there, though very little biblical reason to accept the available visible evidence.

    • Arkenaten says:

      I wouldn’t be so quick to champion those ”sources” that supposedly state Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical person, CR.

      The early Church was rather naughty and we already know how they were perfectly at home with forgery and lies to further the aims of their New religion.

  33. Concerned Reader says:

    Ark, NT scholars like Bart Ehrman (he doesn’t accept religion) and accredited historians accept that Jesus existed, and if you think about it, it doesn’t really hurt anyone or advance a religious cause if there happened to be a Jewish guy named Josh who got nailed to a cross. Saying he lived does not come anywhere close to validating Christianity’s legitimacy. There is no reason to fake a historical Jesus who was just an ordinary wandering Torah observant Jewish preacher.

    We also have two versions of the disputed Josephus passage, (one that is clearly manipulated by the Church, and one in Arabic that just mentions the crucifixion with no Christian overtones.) That is significant because the Arabic version doesn’t even make Jesus out to be a prophet or a messiah, (an Islamic view) it just states that he died. In other words, no Muslim or Christian tampering is evident in this other version of the Josephus passage.

    I think its probable that Jesus existed for numerous reasons. For one, aspects of the NT’s own literary development undermine fundamental Christian beliefs about him, and there is some literature that assumes a historical core to the man that had to be excused or dismissed, IE Christians who said, “he was just a human.”

    Also, Jewish literature in the second temple period was inherently and notoriously pithy when it came to details of historicity, so even If we doubted Jesus’ existence, (due to a lack of documentary evidence and the presence of myth,) we would quickly reach absurd numbers of “fictional” persons if we applied that standard to, or considered the sheer number of other rabbis who would likewise go onto the fiction pile due to having even less documentary evidence than Jesus. In other words, consider the sources in question. The books were not written to give historical details, but to teach a religion. I find Richard Carrier’s and Jospeh Atwill’s hypotheses about Jesus being a literary fiction to be ludicrous for just that very reason. You would have to erase every last Talmudic rabbi from history by using Carrier’s method.

    • Arkenaten says:

      There was a time that people scoffed at those who claimed Moses was fictional, and look how that turned out?
      We have come from Fact, to semi fiction ( composite) Martin Noth etc, to Myth.

      There may have been an eschatological itinerant preacher called Yeshua Ben Josef running around Palestine at the turn of the first century; there were one or two and even Josephus makes mention.
      But I am in agreement with those who doubt the entry in Annals and of course Josephus’ claim is a blatant fraud.
      Atwell, yes I would side with o=you. BUt Carrier? No, he is a clever, if somewhat pedantic fellow
      He also scoffed at one time, did he not?

      As for Bart – well, as good a scholar as he his I have a suspicion he knows more than he lets on and is simply hedging his bets for now.

      Wait until it’s time for him to retire and he needs t go out in a blaze of glory!

      I truly believe that eventually all Jewish academia etc will come out of the closet and acknowledge it is all hokum and then the entire House of Cards will begin to fall.

      Now that will be a day to celebrate!

      • Arkentan So this is how the need to hope for a better future evolved in your world-view – You have faith that the world will come round to your way of seeing things. Interesting

        • Arkenaten says:

          Humans are evolving all the time.
          To reach a point where we are – to use a term you will understand- spiritual beings then the demise of religion and belief in gods is a necessity, not least because the ultimate goal/direction of Islam and Christianity is for all of humanity to come under their umbrella one way or another

          As a Jew you must abhor what is happening, and rightfully so, but this is tempered by the fear that letting go of the nonsense of god belief and religion will somehow diminish your identity or worth as a human being.

          Can you not step back for a moment and realise just how silly this truly is?

          • Arkenaten
            I find it interesting that you share with the Christian the need to attribute motives to those who differ with your beliefs. You attribute my belief to fear just as Christian missionaries attribute my belief to a desire for power. How would you feel if I would attribute your belief to a fear of being mocked by people who you respect?
            I have no problem accepting that you came to your belief through an honest journey – and I have no problem searching in my heart on a regular basis to see if fear and not truth is motivating me – but for a healthy debate it would be better if we accept that the other is as honest as we would like to think of ourselves and put logical arguments on the table.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Fine. Lets’ begin with the story of Moses, agreed?

          • Fred says:

            If you do not mind me saying so, I have as much reason to believe in God as I have to believe in you. It blows me away how people with absolutely no clue about spiritual or supernatural things, and very little knowledge of the universe, can be so certain that God’s existence is “nonsense” to the point of belittling and insulting those who know more than they do. Are antitheists really that insecure? You and I are less than bacteria compared to the infinite God, yet he still provides, speaks, touches and loves. But He does it in His own time, His own way, and does not have to answer to you. And if He did touch you, you would explain it away just as you explain away all the evidence He has already given you. HaShem is God and you will come to know that eventually.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            GMF Junior?

          • Arkenaten says:

            And you have no frakking clue about supernatural or spiritual things either, as these are all part of indoctrination and wishful thinking.
            And, please. when you talk about ”god’s existence” have the decency and integrity to specify which darn god you are referring to.

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          You have faith that the world will come round to your way of seeing things. Interesting.

          I’m not seeing that. Rather I’m seeing the kid that early on realized that there was no Santa Claus, and knew that in time, the rest of the kids would catch up. There’s a difference.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        So you agree, its possible there was a Jewish preacher named Jesus. Good, that’s all the historical consensus is stating. He lived, he died. The end. Like I said, the issue I have with Richard Carrier’s hypothesis is that his main premise for accepting Jesus’ mythic nature rests on the extreme probability of the falsehood of the miraculous accounts in the NT, (a Duh statement) and then on a lack of sufficient documentary evidence. The problem is, you would also have to dismiss the existence of most of the rabbis from the 1st-4th centuries by using his methodology. I have no doubt that the mythical tales are not true, (but consider that those kind of accounts permeate all of second temple, and Roman literature.) When the aggadic tales are such a profound part of the culture, it becomes absurd to dismiss everything written based on that, (especially when we can correct for it to a degree.) The other huge reason that I dismiss carrier’s hypothesis is that we have seen (in modern times,) the same process happen to someone else as happened to Jesus, ie a rabbi who became so enveloped in miracle and his followers’ devotion as to become larger than life and mythic.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Let’s establish what we can consider is fact.
          A religion named Christianity arose in the 1st century, supposedly based upon a character called Jesus of Nazareth.

          And this is all
          we can assert.

          But let me clarify this a little more.
          I believe the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth is, like Moses wholly fictitious.

          He may have been loosely based on someone , we can call him Yeshua Ben Josef for arguments sake, but he may not have. He could be entirely fictitious like his biblical counterpart.

          Was someone by this name crucified by the Romans for sedition? Probably not.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Was someone by this name crucified by the Romans for sedition? Probably not.

            What are you talking about? Crucifixion for sedition is the one historical fact that we can certifiably establish from the available sources, as its mentioned in the Annals of Tacitus and in Josephus. The discrepancy between Christos and Chrestus as found in the annals of Tacitus can be explained by examining the Codex Sinaiticus and also Christian funerary grave stones found in Phyrgia that contain both spellings ie Chrestus and Christos together.1

            Jews (especially would be messiahs) were crucified for sedition all the time. There is no conceivable reason for that information to be forged by anyone, hence the consensus among biblical scholars. I’m not even a Christian and I can see that there is evidence that the guy died.

            Christian scribes intent on forgery are known to have gone much farther in elaboration with their tale-bearing.

            Consider also my point about the major flaw in Carriers argument. He’s using statistical analysis stating that the presence of myth = a high likelihood of no factual basis for the sources, but mythical writing is a key aspect of the cultural context, and mythic elaboration is independently attested across different time periods in Judaism, even in modern times where there is a historical core. How is the death of this person truly a controversy?

            If anything, the unique Christian theology surrounding Jesus starts in the 60s C.E. with Paul’s genuine epistles and is cemented by 90 C.E. with the community responsible for john’s gospel. Jesus as a Torah teacher was not unique in any sense, nor were the ethics of the early Christians.

            1. Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 pages 33-35

          • Arkenaten says:

            Sorry,I tend to think the entry in Annals is an interpolation – or at best simply hearsay.
            There is no confirmed evidence of anyone called Chrestus, Christus or Yeshua being crucified from any other source and Tacitus did not quote his source either.

            Besides, those that should have written about him did not.
            Philo for one.
            There is no such thing as Paul’s Genuine Epistles.
            It is merely assumed that someone called Paul wrote them and he was a genuine historical figure. Why on earth for?
            There is not a single scrap of evidence for this character outside the bible. Nothing.
            The author could be anyone.
            Just my personal belief.

            I think there is as much substance to the characters of Jesus and Paul as there is Wily Coyote and Road Runner.
            Beep beep!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Tacitus – Born: 56 AD, Gaul, France – Died: 117 AD, Roman Empire
            Josephus – Born: 37 AD, Jerusalem – Died: 100 AD, Rome, Italy

            Which of these do you suppose were eye-witnesses?

  34. Concerned Reader says:

    http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=357 This is a book that asserts that the rabbis invented the Arch-heretic of the Talmud called, Elisha Ben Abuyah. This kind of book illustrates the problem I’m referring to with people not thoroughly considering the sources examined. You can make the exact same argument that any of the rabbis didn’t exist using Carrier’s or Atwill’s rubric.

    For example, If we looked at the writings of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe in 2,000 years, (and just his writings,) we could say he was a myth too, and we’d be absolutely wrong to say he was a myth.

  35. Concerned Reader says:

    Ark, you are not addressing my chief objection to your opinion. You are asking why we should accept Paul or Jesus as real at all? I ask you then, Indeed, why should I accept Judah ha Nasi, or Elisha ben Abuyah, or any other rabbinic figure of the Talmudic period as real? There is no mention of any of them outside of the rabbinic corpus, or in Roman sources, are they fake too? See the rabbit hole you are now going down? There is no good reason not to accept the historicity of these people, you are respectfully requiring evidence from these literary sources that they never sought to provide.

    You “believe” that the Tacitus reference is interpolated, fine, but I provided a source that substantiated the usage of “Chrestus” among Christians and referring to them based on what is available archaeologically. There is no reason to state emphatically that Jesus was simply crucified and died. A forgery would do much more, as we see from the Greek Josephus text. Also, we are capable of seeing beyond scribal interpolation, and correcting for it to some degree. However, if none of that information appeals to you, that’s fine too.

  36. Concerned Reader says:

    archaeopteryx1, that’s a good question. Technically speaking, none of those documentary sources are eyewitnesses to a whole lot of Roman history, not just in the case of the Jesus question.

    I’m very curious why you guys feel so threatened by the scholarly consensus of the mere existence and DEATH of a Jewish preacher from the 1st century? There is really no good reason to consider him a fiction, given that none of the sources support any religious contentions concerning Jesus.

    You know who else has very little documentary evidence? Bar Kochba. The only reason we even know he existed is because of the coins that his short lived kingdom minted. The rabbi who heralded him as messiah, rabbi Akiva, has even less documented evidence beyond the Talmudic corpus then Bar Kochba. Are they all fake too? 😉

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      I simply have a problem with belief in the supernatural – I realize it’s a holdover from the stone age and slow to fade, but I’m particularly incensed when it is passed on to little children as truth.

      • Dina says:

        Why do you care so intensely? We all fade into oblivion anyway, so what difference does it make what anyone at any age believes? So what?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Because children should be carefree, not terrified of flipping a light switch on a given day of the week. No one should instill fear in a child. There are those among you who are afraid to even write god, but rather, write “g-d” – the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions are fear-based, and there are enough real things in life to fear without fabricating more.

          And what is it with not using “Yahweh,” so everyone will know to which g-d you’re referring?

          • Sharbano says:

            Once again you show your ignorance of Judaism. It has been my experience that atheists, in general, are indifferent to religion. If this distresses you to such an extent why inflict punishment upon yourself. It is a serious condition when one self-inflicts punishment.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            It’s even more serious when one indoctrinates a child to fear.

          • archaeopteryx1 Indoctrinating a child with a mocking scorn for anything you don’t understand or disagree with is also not a healthy way to raise a child

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I’m a bit confused, pharisee – where did I say that a child should be indoctrinated with ANYthing?

            “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.”
            — H. P. Lovecraft —

          • archaeopteryx1 Whether you said it or not – This is what you do

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Whether you said it or not – This is what you do

            How presumptuous – first you put words in my mouth I didn’t say, then you presume to tell me what I do. Sadly for you (but fortunate for the children), you’re wrong on both counts.

          • arcaeopteryx1 I don’t presume to tell you what you do – you are doing it in almost every comment that you post here. Concerned Reader is telling you something very reasonable about the study of history, he is not trying to get you to believe anything supernatural – just a simple detail of history and yet you mock him at every turn. This is not presumption.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            You’re confusing me even further, Pharisee – how does my effort to refute CR in anyway relate to your accusation that I indoctrinate children? Have you totally lost track of the topic of the conversation between you and I? Possibly you’d better go back and reread the thread.

            …he is not trying to get you to believe anything supernatural – just a simple detail of history” – In case you’ve lost track of the content of that thread as well, I am maintaining that at least the majority of the “history” in the Bible/Tanach is fiction, while he maintains that much of history is unreliable, an allegation with which I do not disagree. I maintain, however, that the majority of history makes no supernatural claims, no promises of eternal life, no magical, talking donkeys, as does the Bible/Tanach, consequently, the latter needs to be held to a higher standard of evidence.

            If you consider that mocking, so be it – I certainly make no apologies.

          • archaeopteryx1 The discussion between you and I is about indoctrinating children – you accuse religious people of indoctrinating them with fear and I accuse you of indoctrinating them with scorn. I pointed to the way you are reacting to Concerned Reader’s arguments as an example of how you are so deeply steeped in scorn. Concerned reader doesn’t believe anything supernatural about Jesus and I also agree – in fact I don’t think that Jesus was a good person. All Concerned Reader is saying is that there is a high probability that a man existed upon whom the legends were eventually based. Concerned Reader pointed to a well documented historical trajectory that follows the trajectory of Christian imagination about Jesus and it started with a real person – this clearly documented. So what is the big deal? How does the fact that the majority of history make no supernatural claims fit in to the argument?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            …and I accuse you of indoctrinating them with scorn.” – And I emphatically deny it, my attitude toward my children is a world away from those adults who would maintain that fiction is fact.

            Concerned Reader pointed to a well documented historical trajectory that follows the trajectory of Christian imagination about Jesus and it started with a real person – this clearly documented.” – I can accept the trajectory regarding Christian imagination, which would seem to have no bounds, but have yet to see evidence that, “it started with a real person.”

          • archaeopteryx1 So how do you teach your children to talk to people who believe what you consider to be fiction as fact? By the way – I have about 500 articles on this blog – please find where I use fear as a motivator or as a persuasive tool. I actually have several articles discouraging the use of fear and encouraging people not to allow fear to cloud their thinking process. Your assumption that all religion uses as a motivator is fear is pure fiction You didn’t understand what Concerned Reader wrote – He showed you that in a certain specific context we have a documented trajectory following points a,b,c,d,and e. In the same specific context we see points b,c,d, and e, are followed and there is some evidence for “a” as well – is it unreasonable to assume that “a” happened? remember – none of these points (a,b,c,d or e) are supernatural.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            So how do you teach your children to talk to people who believe what you consider to be fiction as fact?” – I don’t, that would be indoctrination.

            By the way – I have about 500 articles on this blog – please find where I use fear as a motivator or as a persuasive tool.” – Are you trying to impress me? I have neither the time nor the inclination to read 500 of your articles just to find something that would allow me to say, “GOTCHA!” – franky, nothing you’ve said thus far has been all that interesting, I can only imagine what wading through 500 of your articles would be like. Could I just volunteer for the rack instead?

            …is it unreasonable to assume that ‘a’ happened?” – Yes. I find most assumptions to be unreasonable and generally based on falacies.

          • archaeoteryx1 So your children don’t hear how you talk to people you disagree with? No, I am not trying to impress you – I am just showing you that you have a ready body of evidence to consider in questioning your assumptions – but you won’t – this is not a search for truth. This is not true – you thrive on assumptions. You make assumptions about all religious thought by the actions of a few.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Your concept of evidence is a bit too nebulous for me —

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Sorry, meant, “frankly” – looks like I didn’t strike the ‘l’ key hard enough.

          • Dina says:

            Why do you care if children are terrified? So what? Who cares if people are nervous or serene, what difference does it make? Do you find animals concerned about these things? What’s the difference how anyone lives their lives?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Do you find animals concerned about these things?” – The more highly evolved ones, yes.

          • Dina says:

            They worry about the offspring of other animals on the other side of the world?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            That’s difficult to say, we’ve never really chatted about it to that great an extent. A better question might be, do they know about the offspring of other animals on the other side of the world?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Why does this gorilla care? I wonder which god he worships?

          • Dina says:

            I don’t have time to watch it now, but why indeed does he care? Why should anyone? What’s the difference? Does he care which god if any anyone else worships? Why should you?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Because some of the more highly-evolved species learned early on the trait of reciprocity, which was then taught by example in a pre-verbal species, or ingrained into engrams which were then passed on. This trait helped the species survive.

          • Dina says:

            I’m not trying to make a point about God. I’m trying to understand why from an atheist perspective it matters what others believe. Why care, from an atheist perspective? As you can see, the species had no problem propagating with religious beliefs, and anyway, why care if the species propagates or not? (Lack of reciprocity has not stopped roaches, for example, from propagating, by the way.)

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            (Lack of reciprocity has not stopped roaches, for example, from propagating, by the way.)

            Roaches are SO highly evolved that you can cut off one’s head and it will still search for food – great example!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “Two hands working can do more than a thousand, clasped in prayer.”
            — Madalyn Murray O’Hair —

            In 1998, while onlookers were praying, Binti, the lowland gorilla, saved an 8-year old girl who had fallen 25 feet into the gorilla pit.

            I wonder which religion Binti was following?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “If you ask anyone, what is morality based on? These are the two factors that always come out: One is reciprocity, … a sense of fairness, and the other one is empathy and compassion.”
            — Frans de Waal —

          • archaeopteryx1 And how about a yearning for truth and dislike for falsehood?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            How about that!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            This one must be religious too, otherwise, why would he care?

          • Dina says:

            I just don’t understand why atheists are upset that everyone else isn’t atheist either. What difference does it make, we all end up in the same place anyway? I would think that atheists would care the least of everyone what others believe, yet from the sampling of visitors to this blog, they seem to care the most.

          • Sharbano says:

            Maybe they doubt their “new found faith”.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Because your religion, and the religions of others, affect my world. They form the basis of what would otherwise be baseless laws, they influence governmental and international decisions, they cause idiots to kill members of my species by flying jets into buildings, and it’s time such nonsense stopped, at least in terms of spreading it to children.

            “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.”
            — H. P. Lovecraft —

          • arcaeopteryx1 An unbending quest for truth finds no need for mockery

          • Dina says:

            Arch, I still don’t understand. Who cares? Shouldn’t an atheist philosophy be, eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will die? Why shouldn’t the powerful get to dictate the laws? Survival of the fittest and all that?

            I don’t understand why an atheist, of all people, would be so intolerant of other people’s beliefs. From an atheist perspective, the logical thing, it seems to me, would be to shrug them off and say, believe what you want, I don’t care.

            So you didn’t really address that, you just made a disingenuous claim about religion affecting your day-to-day life. You know that not all religions are equal. Orthodox Jews, for example, are not flying planes into buildings or trying to impose their values on you (rather it’s the other way around–you came here; we didn’t come to you). Bear in mind that secular ideologies have fared worse than religious ones in terms of murder, with estimates ranging up to 150 million dead in the twentieth century alone as a result of the secular ideology of Communism. The fact is, humans are ideological, whether secular or religious, and it is the imagined fear of the Other, your irrational fear of Orthodox Jews, for example, that leads people to dehumanize and kill them.

            I don’t understand your need to proselytize, I don’t understand your hatred, I don’t understand your bigotry, I don’t understand your disdain, I don’t understand your complete lack of empathy or regard for us as human beings.

            I don’t understand why an atheist would not want to adopt a live-and-let-live attitude, such as Rough Seas espouses.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Shouldn’t an atheist philosophy be, eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will die?” – Clearly you know very little about atheists.

            Bear in mind that secular ideologies have fared worse than religious ones in terms of murder, with estimates ranging up to 150 million dead in the twentieth century alone as a result of the secular ideology of Communism.” – That had nothing to do with atheism, but rather the pursuit of power, unlike the untold deaths attributed to the concerted effort by Christians, from roughly 600 CE to 1600+ CE, to force Christianity down the throats of the population. And as for Judaism, one need look no further than the Tanach for a record of the millions killed either by Yahweh or at his order.

          • Dina says:

            Arch, how do you decide which parts of the Tanach to accept as true and which parts to accept as historical fiction? Are you seriously worried that Orthodox Jews are going to kill you and your family?

            You still didn’t answer my question, by the way. You’re skirting it. You and your children have nothing to fear from Orthodox Jews and even Christians today. Why should you as an atheist care what anyone else believes, as long as you’re safe? Everyone’s going off to oblivion anyway, so what difference does it make how anyone else lives their lives, whether they suffer or are happy? Why not live and let live?

            (By the way, I agree that Christianity has a terrible track record. But so do atheist regimes. You are using a double standard to judge here.)

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Are you seriously worried that Orthodox Jews are going to kill you and your family?

            Since I’m not Canaanite, Amalekite, Philistine, Hittite, Emorite, Jebusite or Girgasite, I’m probably on fairly safe ground. However if any would like to take a swipe at my son-in-law, I could tell them where he lives —

            Everyone’s going off to oblivion anyway, so what difference does it make how anyone else lives their lives, whether they suffer or are happy?

            When you earlier made a similar statement, I went to great lengths to show you examples that demonstrate that empathy is a quality possessed not only by we naked apes, but others of our close relatives as well, which you ignored, then you come back with this. For shame!

            Here’s another outlook – if everyone’s going to heaven or hell anyway, for those going to heaven, what’s 70 years of misery on earth compared to an eternity in paradise? And for those going to hell, misery on earth is good practice.

            (BTW – liked your attempted use of operant conditioning on Mak – suppose it worked?)

          • Dina says:

            I just don’t see how that answers my question, Arch. You are trying to answer a question I am not asking. I am not making a point about God or religion. I don’t care what you believe. Why would you care what I believe? I’m not hurting you or your family, so what do you care? Why are you not content to live and let live? One would expect that attitude the most from an atheist, that’s all I’m saying. You have nothing to fear from us, you know that. Neither does your Jebusite brother-in-law.

            I find it telling that the only part of Tanach you accept as true is that the ancient Israelites committed genocide.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I find it telling that the only part of Tanach you accept as true is that the ancient Israelites committed genocide.

            Actually no, I don’t. Archeologists have proven that most of the cities claimed in the Tanach to have been destroyed by invading Israelites, had been destroyed centuries earlier, or abandoned due to disease or famine. It’s all of the fabrications in the religion that bother me the most, very little of any of it can be believed.

            Live and let live? Isn’t that what the polio virus said to Salk?

          • Dina says:

            “Live and let live? Isn’t that what the polio virus said to Salk?” So, Arch, Orthodox Jews are like a dangerous virus who must be eradicated, is that what you’re saying? What did Jews ever do to you personally that you bear such a murderous hatred toward them?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            No, Dina, not Orthodox Jews, religion.

          • Dina says:

            Religion can’t be stamped out except by brutal means.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Religion can’t be stamped out except by brutal means.

            “Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.”
            — Chapman Cohen —

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Why are you not content to live and let live?

            Interesting that you should ask that, Dina, as there is evidence that Orthodox Jews ejected early Christians (who were also Jews) from the synagogues – hardly the live-and-let-live policy you advocate, was it?

          • Dina says:

            Arch, what does the actions of Jews 2000 years ago have to do with you and me today? Because of an event that took place 2000 years ago you can’t live and let live? I don’t understand the logic. I would be much more concerned with the much more recent murders of millions of people by atheist regimes (last century). Judging from your and Ark’s comments, if the two of you were in charge of the world, you would lead a brutally repressive regime.

            Because, as you said, you can’t live and let live with dangerous pathogens (i.e., other humans who disagree with you).

          • tildeb says:

            Your just full of tropes in need of correction, aren’t you?

            …the much more recent murders of millions of people by atheist regimes (last century).

            This trope tries to associate the mass murders committed by tyrannical states with atheism. This is false. People were not murdered by a state because the leaders were atheist. They were murdered because the state sought all power. Total power. That’s why they’re called ‘totalitarian’. And not all totalitarian states have an official policy of atheism. Many are religious, too, but I don’t blame Catholicism for Hitler any more than you should blame atheism for, say, Stalin’s reign of power (trained as priest, don’t forget).

            Atheism didn’t cause the mass murder, wasn’t the reason for committing it, and isn’t a part of any ideology that promotes murder. Atheists were just as widely killed as any other identifiable group if they were part of any organization that tried to hold power separate from the state.

            That you present this atheism-causes-mass-murder repeatedly as if responsible for mass murder demonstrates your willingness to believe non belief is somehow pernicious. It isn’t. It is exactly what you keep trying to advocate… a live and let live philosophy. But when atheists are faced with your kind of malicious trope, why are you so surprised that some of us vocal atheists criticize your misguided ideas? After all, if we don’t, no one else will. And this is how group vilification begins. And we know where that leads, don’t we?

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, I should have been more clear. I’m trying to point out that atheists aren’t more likely to be more peaceful/less dangerous than religious people, regardless of ideology. I think I did mention that in one of my comments, maybe you missed it. I sense a strong totalitarian instinct in the comments I’m reading which makes me thankful you guys aren’t in power.

            Atheists are the ones who are saying that we Orthodox Jews are dangerous pathogens who need to be eradicated (Arch, for example). I was simply responding to what he said. I don’t like when people vilify each other, I agree with you. This website is not about vilifying atheists, so why did they all suddenly jump in here en masse with scornful comments and obscene language? I respect atheists who believe what they believe because that is where the evidence leads them. I don’t like proselytizing, which is what they are doing. I also don’t appreciate the incredible lack of civility I’ve seen from Ark and Arch. I have frankly never seen anything like it.

            I don’t see why you aren’t content to live and let live. This is the first time I’ve spoken to atheists, and that’s because they sought out and addressed this website in a most aggressive manner.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Atheists are the ones who are saying that we Orthodox Jews are dangerous pathogens who need to be eradicated (Arch, for example).

            Dina, why are you lying?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Arch, what does the actions of Jews 2000 years ago have to do with you and me today?

            If I understood correctly, you’re going through some sort of religious observance this week because of something someone of your religious persuasion claims was done 3000 years ago, so apparently, the answer is, a lot.

          • Dina says:

            I don’t know what operant conditioning is but it sounds very cynical.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I’m sure you know how to Google.

          • larryb says:

            is that humans in a monkey zoo or monkeys in a human zoo?

          • archaeopteryx1 Can you imagine no other motivation for religious behavior other than fear?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Can you imagine no other motivation for religious behavior other than fear?

            Yes, ignorance.

            “That fear first created the gods is perhaps as true as anything so brief could be on so great a subject.”
            — George Santayana —

            “If we go back to the beginning, we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve their own interests. If the ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, the knowledge of nature is calculated to destroy them.”
            — Baron D’Holbach — cited in Jonathan Miller. (2004). A Brief History of Disbelief.

          • arcaeopteryx1 Ignorance is not a motivator – it only provides space for motivation that would otherwise be discouraged. So I gather that you can imagine no other motivator than fear. Fact is, people follow religions out of love, for practical considerations, and because they sincerely believe that it is the truth amongst other motivations.

          • larryb says:

            “Because your religion, and the religions of others, affect my world”

            Athiest Governments of the 20th century
            I’m sure you know just what religion these Govt. officials were

            Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,00 people murdered
            Jozef Stalin (USSR 1932-39 only) 15,000,000 people murdered
            Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000 people murdered
            Kim II Sung (North Korea 1948-94) 1.6 million people murdered
            Tito (Yugoslavia 1945-1987) 570,000 people murdered
            Suharto (Communists 1967-66) 500,000 people murdered
            Ante Pavelic (Croatia 1941-45) 359,000 people murdered
            Ho Chi Min (Vietnam 1953-56) 200,000 people murdered
            Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20) 30,000 people murdered
            Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-1945) 12,000,000 people murdered

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-1945) 12,000,000 people murdered

            “Who says I am not under the special protection of God?”
            — Adolph Hitler —

            “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.”
            — Adolf Hitler —
            April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.

            Estimate of the number of people killed in the Bible either by Yahweh personally or under his order: 24,994,828.

          • LarryB says:

            Arch
            It must be true, everyone knows how honest, forthright and champion for school children Hitler really was. Killing people was just his way of showing his concern for the misguided.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Not at all, Larry – Germany was in economic chaos after investing heavily in WW I and losing, just as the American South was in economic chaos after starting and losing America’s Civil War. Both groups invented scapegoats to take the public’s minds off of the economic situation – in the American South, it was the African-Americans, in Germany, it was the Jews.

            In fact, it is quite conceivable that in attempting to eradicate the Jewish population, Hitler believed he was doing “god’s will,” by eliminating those that he perceived had killed his son. Granted, he was batshit crazy, but that has never stopped any number of people from being religious.

          • larryb says:

            Arch
            It is much more conceivable that in attempting to eradicate the Jewish population, Hitler Used religion for that and to achieve his political goals.
            Article I of the Concordat states:
            “It [i.e., “The German Reich” – J.I.] acknowledges the right of the Catholic Church, within the limit of those laws which are applicable to all, to manage and regulate her own affairs independently, and, within the framework of her own competence, to publish laws and ordinances binding on her members. 1. “Within the limits of law meant within the limits of whatever the Nazis decided” Also in article 16, of course the church has their own lame version but another translation reads, “In dutiful solicitude for the welfare and the interest of the German State, I will, while exercising the religious post that has been assigned to me, strive to prevent any harm that could threaten it.” Meaning that the Vatican is ordering bishops to seek out (“strive”) and repress (“prevent”) action that could harm the Nazis.
            hitler had the church doing his will, putting himself in front of god. Thats anti religious and clearly political. Where it can be argued that religious people will do all kinds of crazy things to please god, in hitlers case he had the church doing crazy things to please himself

          • I have been staying off this topic because I find it irrelevant. But since this Archaeopteryx1 fellow and tildeb and the like seem to be trolling this forum with their atheist views, I figure I’ll chip in one idea..I’m someone who fully acknowledges the “emunah” aspect of Torah. The Kuzarie argument is nice for comparative religion, demonstrating how Judaism is more logical than other religions, but I really don’t care for arguing for the “existence” of G-d. It is simply my reality based off of my emunah. I freely admit this and I expect atheists to ridicule this. It really makes no difference to me…

            But the one thing that I will debate atheists about is the idea that religion is “morally wrong” or “evil.” From an atheist point of view, morality is subjective, so from a logical standpoint, an atheist has no right to accuse religion as being “morally wrong” or “evil.”

            This video explains this very succinctly…

          • Yehuda Yisrael Your point is indeed important – but I feel that certain questions against our position need to be answered. I have blocked ark and arch because they have no interest in a genuine interaction. Other atheists seem to be motivated by a legitimate negative feeling towards religion in general – they feel that the respect that people give Islam is aiding and abetting the terror of Isis and the respect that people gave the Catholic Church aided and abetted in the crimes of that criminal organization – and they are 100 percent correct. the mistake they are making is that they throw all religion into the same pot and I want to demonstrate that Judaism is different

          • tildeb says:

            I think all religions DO belong in the same discredited pot because all require the reliance on the same broken method of thinking. This method is a necessary component to elevate faith-based belief to be an acceptable and equivalent way of knowing – even if contrary to all evidence independent of the faith-based belief – about reality without allowing reality to arbitrate these claims made about it. Take away the faith component and one is left with a set of claims about reality that is very often incompatible with our applied understanding of it. That’s why religions have to rely on metaphysics and superstition to try to defend the indefensible and are rich nesting grounds for extremism in the name of piety.

          • tildeb
            Judaism is built on the principle that man’s yearning for truth is the highest point in our psyche and should lead man in the right path. This is also the most powerful force in the human psyche and will ultimately prevail (survival of the fittest). The Jewish people have engaged in pursuit of truth and honed that pursuit into a fine art. It is no coincidence that the children of the Talmud scholars are so disproportionally represented in measurable achievements (i.e. nobel prizes).

          • tildeb says:

            And not one of them were aided by any religious belief but in spite of it. You seem to gloss over the fact that what we have is a correlate and not a causal factor. If you want to offer the it as a causal factor then you have demonstrate the link. Otherwise, what we have is you saying the rain is caused by the dancer because rain follows the dancing. As any good critical thinker knows, appearances can be deceiving.

            But I will grant you that the pursuit of what’s true is worth far more respect and far more productive than allowing only what is believed to be true any equivalency. In fact religious belief has never, does not, and shall never produce on jot or tittle of knowledge. By all means demonstrate otherwise. But such faith-based belief can and often does play a critical role interfering with exactly this pursuit.

          • tildeb
            To say that religion never produced an iota of knowledge is to ignore reality. The concept of the equality of all men and the centrality of following our yearning for truth were taught to the world by Judaism – as was the belief that ultimately all of mankind will overcome their pettiness and live in peace with each other.

          • tildeb says:

            No, those are values you are imposing on it. It’s perfectly fine in the Pentateuch for people to maintain gross inequalities… like slavery. There is no recognition of any divine desire for equality law and the factually incorrect claims throughout demonstrates no inherent respect for what’s true or what’s knowable. What you are doing is imposing your idea that equality and respect for what’s true derives from these ancient writings rather than what is the case: they come from you in spite of these teachings.

          • tildeb These are not values I am imposing on them – but these are the values that the readers of these texts have always seen in them – and I mean readers who have taken these texts seriously – not read them to denigrate them. – For slavery and the equality of man see Job 31:13-15 and the desire for truth has been the motivating drive of Jewish education and I mean religious Jewish education throughout history – This is the tradition bequeathed to western civilization by the Jewish people as they understood their holy book

          • tildeb For example – read “ethics of the fathers” (Pirkei Avot in Hebrew) written almost 2000 years ago and ask yourself where these people were coming from in that time and age

          • tildeb says:

            The video’s insistence that atheism is nihilism and therefore something to be avoided at all costs always reminds me of Susan Neiman’s lovely quote from her book Moral Clarity:

            “Those who view religion as necessary for morality reduce us to the moral level of four-year-olds.”

            Why this claim is true – and how following religious precepts for moral justifications creates a class of people who willingly give up some or all of their moral autonomy (and the willingness to BE morally responsible for their own behaviours) in exchange for the security that supposedly comes with becoming moral automatons following the orders of some divine Dear Leader – is a standard atheist argument ignored by those who wish to vilify the moral character of atheists. The lack of understanding by religious folk who presume atheism leads to nihilism (and of course its negative connotations) is so common and typical a trope that it’s a mystery how such folk can manage to put aside their own argument long enough to board a plane, trusting with their very lives that the inherent nihilism from utilizing the relative standard of ‘altitude’ won’t kill them outright!

        • Fred says:

          Dina, I cannot deny what has happened. The problem comes if I try to tell you my doctrine is correct because it happened. I realize that supernatural events take place for people of all walks of life. As has been stated, God has a reason for these things, whether it be a test, or in my case, a simple one word of encouragement and revelation of His existence. Therefore, I take it as it is and have never used such an event to declare the truth of any particular religion or point of view. I only know that something happened, that a word was spoken to my mind, and a realization was given to me. For this reason no atheist can ever convince me that God is not there.

          G’mar chatima tovah!

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            For this reason no atheist can ever convince me that God is not there.” – You and GMF should hold hands and skip off into the sunset, some god talks to him too! I would never dream of trying to convince you of that, that’s a job for a competent psychiatrist, I can only point out the flaws in your reasoning – the voices in your head are another matter entirely.

          • Dina says:

            Fred, do you know how many Christians have said the same thing? For that reason, nothing anyone can say can change their minds, does that seem right to you? Is it fair that God chooses some people “to speak a word in their minds” but not others?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Is it fair that God chooses some people “to speak a word in their minds” but not others?

            I can’t speak to the fairness of a delusion, Dina, but your Bible/Tanach is filled with people who believed they had been singled out for one-on-one, tea-and-crumpet tête-à-têtes with their version of the big guy.

        • Tildeb, you missed the point of the video. The video is not saying that atheism “should be avoided at all costs.” All the video is saying is that IF you declare yourself an atheist, THEN if you are to be INTELLECTUALLY HONEST with your atheism, THEN your views on morality are simply your own subjective opinions. The video isn’t suggesting that anyone “should” do anything or “should” have a particular view on what is right and what is wrong. All the video is saying is that from a LOGICAL INTELLECTUALLY HONEST ATHEISTIC PERSPECTIVE, atheists have a subjective perspective on morality. Your opinion on religion is just that…Your opinion! You cannot logically derive facts from your opinions because from an atheistic perspective, all opinions are subjective. Your disagreement with this is simply your own opinion and nothing else.

          Shalom

          • tildeb says:

            YY, you say All the video is saying is that IF you declare yourself an atheist, THEN if you are to be INTELLECTUALLY HONEST with your atheism, THEN your views on morality are simply your own subjective opinions.

            And that’s the trope that is factually wrong.

            We use exactly the same kind of ‘subjective opinion’ all the time in anything that involves a relative comparative standard. Like measurement.

            As is the case with comparative ‘morality’, ‘measurement’ is just a word of some kind of comparison. Contrary to the video narrator’s assertion that morality is a thing (it’s not… because it has no properties independent of what properties we assign to the term), the fact is that we use such words all the time and pretend it a thing… for convenience’s sake. This is true for measurement, as well. And we can and do utilize different standards all the time. That does not relegate comparative values – be they moral or measurable values – to being synonymous with ‘subjective opinion’ at all. And that’s the fatal error of this argument. As long as there is agreement to utilizing a comparative standard, we can and do use this ‘subjective opinion’ to establish facts all the time and to a remarkable degree of accuracy that is both consistent and reliable.

            Because your argument does not withstand scrutiny but reveals a very jmuddled and misguided understanding of what ‘morality’ is, the claim upon which you base your argument is factually wrong. Only if your original claim is true – that morality is indeed a ‘thing’ independent of values we assign to the term – can you then logically deduce that you cannot logically derive facts from your opinions. And if I can’t do that then any disagreement with this is simply your own opinion and nothing else. But because the premise from which hinges your conclusion is factually wrong, this argument is wrong and demonstrably so. We adduce facts from relative comparative standards all the time, which – in metaphysical language – is getting an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. (We ought to increase our altitude – regardless of which standard is being used, like metric or Imperial or cubits or parsecs – to fly over that mountain that is of greater elevation that our relative position).

          • Tildeb, your argument is a desperate attempt at trying to lump the concept of “morality” in with that of “measurement.” Measurement, is by inherent nature, a fact. It is, at its core, a tangible means of assigning facts to our reality. While it is true that there are a seemingly infinite amount of ways that this can be done, nonetheless, the inherent nature of measurement is fact.

            Morality, on the other hand, is defined as a way in which human beings “should” or “should not” act. It isn’t a construct used to assign quantitative values to our reality, relative to other people, places, things, ideas, etc. Morality is simply a subjective interpretation of reality, from an atheistic point of view. In order to prove this, I could ask you the question, why is it “immoral,” to kill a new born baby in cold blood? Since you are an atheist, from a rational point of view, it could be rationalized that you are doing this baby a favor, since the baby would inevitably have to endure the suffering that all these “horrible religions” have supposedly brought onto the world. After all, since said atheist does not believe in any sort of afterlife, what makes the difference?! We’re all doing to the same place anyway! We’re all going to rot in the ground anyway! Why not do the baby a favor and end its life now so the baby won’t have to suffer in the horrible mess that religion as supposedly created?

            Now, before you start rambling on about how “empathy” is an inherent moral quality of mankind and all that nonsense, I suggest you listen to the video again, as humanism isn’t some panacea to your “moral dilemma.” And also, please don’t accuse me of saying that all human beings would be sadistic murders without religion…I didn’t say that, so please, take the high road, and don’t put words in my mouth, should you be considering doing so…Remember, this is a debate about whether or not morality is subjective from an atheistic perspective. Your opinion on the murder of an innocent baby isn’t what we are discussing.

            So please, from a logical, intellectually honest, atheistic perspective, can you please explain to me why murdering an innocent baby with the intent of putting it out of its potential misery of life is not considered to be morally sound? I am not interested in your opinion. I am interested in your logical proofs for this. That is my challenge to you…

          • tildeb says:

            YY, your comment aimed at me is rather ironic asking me to “not put words in your mouth” only to have you do exactly that with me. Much of what you say I’ve said I’ve never said. So let’s step back a moment.

            As soon as we encounter the idea of ‘natures’ we’re talking about Aristotelian physics… a methodological approach that does not produce knowledge. Ever. It assigns knowledge and has no means to verify or test whether or not the assignment is accurate. That is why religious belief globbed on to ‘natural’ sciences and has yet to let go. Galileo’s great thought experiment of the inclined plane removed the cornerstone of this method and it has never recovered. Things don;t have natures. So when you proclaim that ” the inherent nature of measurement is fact”, what we’re reading is a throwback to a kind of thinking that does not concern itself with reality but imposes on it whatever premise is need to arrive at the favoured conclusion. This is what you’ve done with morality.

            I;ve been very clear that the term ‘morality’ is first and foremost a convenient word. I’ve pointed out that it is not a thing but that it must be a thing for the argument put forth by the narrator of the video to logically follow. You’ve simply ignored this point and gone right back to assigning a meaning to the word that fails to match up with reality, that it is a thing and that it possesses a nature we can know something about.

            You claim that for the atheist morality must be a ‘subjective opinion’. Well, show me a morality. Show me where it resides, what shape it is, how it is formed, by what processes, and demonstrate its properties independent of thee and me. If you can do this, then the argument you support may proceed. But without this evidence, your claim is nothing more and nothing less than an assignment by you… making you as guilty as you think atheists are making morality into nothing but ‘subjective opinion’.

            Now, to be clear, I don’t claim morality is a subjective opinion. I think morality is a term we use to describe where a consequential behavioural effect falls on a spectrum between two bookends we call ‘good’ and ‘evil’. This spectrum is a standard of measurement and it usually involves determining whether or not a behaviour enhances or detracts from the welfare of a sentient being. Behaviours that enhance we tend to call ‘good’ and those that detract we call ‘bad’. These changes to well being can be measured in all kinds of ways independent of your or my beliefs about it. That’s an improvement over a despotic edict that claims something is ‘good’ if some god approves of it (divine comment theory) because we can measure, we can compare and contrast, we can improve for compelling reasons that are entirely independent of our beliefs. This is what measurement allows us to do: remove the confusion between believing something is the case and determining whether or not something IS the case. It is measurement that allows us to cross the formidable boundary between ‘ought’ and ‘is’: by using a standard that allows measurement.

            This is what many religious people disregard in their quest to be pious: they assume divine command theory has merit not by any measurable and knowable results of effect on well-being but by submission to an absolutism that defines itself as ‘good’. Slaughtering the Canaanites – men, women, children, animals – is ‘good’ not by the improvement of well-being but because some divine Dear Leader supposedly commands it. This is the identical reasoning used by Himmler in his Warsaw speech to the SS, that they do ‘good’ by submitting their actions to the mass murdering direction of their Dear Leader.

            If we are to ‘know’ anything about moral standards, then we have to come up with a way to measure, to compare and contrast, different behaviours not by despotic fiat but by compelling evidence independent of ourselves. This flies in the face of the notion that to do so is somehow only ‘subjective opinion’.

            Something has gone badly astray in your reasoning about morality and yet, under its religious guidance, is touted to be ‘superior’ to that of the non believer’s… not by evidence from reality but by fiat. And we both know where respecting such Dear Leader proclamations can lead: to the greatest horrors imaginable done in the name of ‘goodness’.

          • My goodness, Tildeb…Your argument is not only a giant strawman, it also proved my point…Your insistence that I “prove” that morality is a “thing” is a giant semantic strawman argument for you to weasel out of dealing with the issue at hand. Morality is an idea…It is a concept. If you want to play childish semantic games with this and make up a lame excuse not to engage in debate on this topic, then I will take that as a concession on your part that you cannot answer my challenge as to you concerning the example I gave you with the baby…

            But this is where you really expose your ignorance…

            You claim this:

            “I think morality is a term we use to describe where a consequential behavioural effect falls on a spectrum between two bookends we call ‘good’ and ‘evil’. This spectrum is a standard of measurement and it usually involves determining whether or not a behaviour enhances or detracts from the welfare of a sentient being.”

            You then go on to assign a spectrum of values as “good and bad” to this “standard of measurement.”

            Your problem is that your “standard of values” is being “measured” by an undefined standard of measurement! What is “bad”? What is “good”? Why is it “bad” to kill a baby? Why is it “good” to give food to the homeless? What is the objective standard of measurement to determine what is “good” and what is “bad”? You haven’t even attempted to address this and instead have used a strawman argument to try and weasel yourself out of my challenge to you. But I’m not letting you get away. Why is it “bad” to kill a baby? What objective standard are you using from an atheist perspective?

            You don’t have one…Clearly…

            Also, how do you define what “enhances” or “detracts” from the “welfare of a sentient being”? How do you objectively determine such? Going back to the baby example, why can’t you argue that ending the life of a baby can be a means of simply hastening the circle of life, sparing the baby from the “evils” of the world that you would argue that religion has been contributing to? Killing this baby could be argued, from a logical, intellectually honest, atheistic perspective, that you are “enhancing the welfare” of this child by preventing it from going through the hardships of life by simply killing it, letting it end up in the same place of lacking sentience that all human being will eventually succumb to.

            I already know you don’t want to admit this, so I did the dirty work for you. You lost the challenge, clearly. You are still welcome to try, but as of now, you have epically failed…(And you won’t succeed.)

            And now you have the nerve to accuse religion as claiming “superiority” over others…News flash Tildeb! You’re the one claiming that religion is “illogical,” and “preventing forward thinking.” You’re claiming “superiority” in your position as well! So stop being a hypocrite and quit acting like this is something unique to religion and something that atheists are immune to…You are guilty of your own “superiority” complex concerning your atheistic views. We all are. That’s the nature of a debate. We all find our views to be “superior” to another. You bringing that up is not only a strawman argument, it is also hypocritical…

            Shalom

          • makagutu says:

            Tell me something, how do you arrive at what you consider moral? Is there any judgement on your part or you take it straight from your religious book of choice?

          • Dina says:

            I’d like to take a stab at answering this question, Mak. The radio host of a show I used to listen to had a motto: “First tell the truth, then give your opinion.” It’s a good motto. So first I will tell the truth and then I will give my opinion.

            The truth of the matter is this: Most cultures all over the world throughout history followed the same basic moral code: they considered murder, theft, dishonesty, and marital infidelity to be immoral. So the truth is, no one religion, culture, or non-religion has a monopoly on morality. There are good and bad religious people and there are good and bad atheists. That’s the truth.

            Now for my opinion: if life is inherently meaningless, we are going nowhere, we don’t even have free will (although not all atheists subscribe to that notion), then there’s no point in trying to live a moral life. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you will die, each man should be for himself, who cares about the survival of the species, anyway, so what if humans or any other species become extinct, and so on—all that seems to be a more logical conclusion to the meaninglessness of life than the conclusion of atheism which insists on a moral code. Just my opinion, for whatever it’s worth.

          • makagutu says:

            well Dina I like the anecdote from the radio host and we can agree on the truth of that comment too.
            Now, on the next question. Life is inherently without meaning. I don’t think this removes the makes the meanings we assign to it useless. On the contrary, it is the meanings we assign to whatever we do that, I think, makes life livable. And this, in my view, has nothing to do with whether one believes there is freewill or not.
            Atheism doesn’t insist on a moral code. Animals intelligent enough, living in society require one. The will to live is strong in all things that have life; it makes the tree grow towards light and extend its roots to where there is water.

          • Dina says:

            Intelligent animals require a moral code. How do you know this? The will to live is strong in me, but why should I care about your will to live? As a result of their desire for racial purity, the Nazis attempted to eliminate Jews, the infirm, the disabled, blacks, gypsies, and homosexuals. Why should they have cared to do otherwise? Why should anyone have cared to try to stop them (in fact, no one really did until they were nearly successful)?

            Why should I in the U.S. care if mass murder is taking place in the Congo (just grabbing an example)? It has zero effect on my survival.

          • makagutu says:

            How do i know this? Really Dina?
            Most books you read claim human beings are intelligent, the apex of creation and they need morals to live with one another, do you object to this?
            You don’t have to care about Somalis killing one another, if doesn’t solve their problem anyway.

          • Dina says:

            Of course I don’t object to that. How do you know that we require a moral code to live by? Why? Who cares? That’s my question for the atheist.

            You get points for consistency about not caring about mass murder going on in other parts of the world. But if I could help them somehow, should I, and why? It has no effect on my survival one way or another.

            There were people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Was that commendable or was it stupid and pointless? It did nothing for their personal survival.

            Just probing in order to try to understand your perspective.

          • makagutu says:

            why do you help a homeless person next door?
            it doesn’t mean all things done are for survival. I don’t think i have implied that. I have said the will to live is a powerful motive.
            being an atheist says nothing about moral codes.

          • Dina says:

            Mak, Tilde insists that atheism does produce a moral superiority. He (or she) bristles at the notion that atheism “says nothing about moral codes” if I have understood him (or her) correctly.

            I don’t see how altruism helps with survival and why an atheist would be concerned about it. I’m not saying atheist aren’t and I’m not saying they shouldn’t be. I just don’t understand why they are if they know that it’s all meaningless, it’s all futile, in the end.

          • makagutu says:

            how does a belief in god make you help the poor if they will go to heaven anyway and suffering is a blessing?
            Maybe he has his reasons, I haven’t read them. If they are in this thread, I will find time to read them and maybe say my two cents.
            Life isn’t just about belief in gods. And yes, it is all vain. At the end we die and are forgotten but while we live, we can only live as best as our nature allows us to

          • Dina says:

            Mak, I’m not a Christian so I don’t think poverty is a virtue and I don’t think suffering is a blessing. There are some horribly nasty poor people and wonderfully kind rich people and vice versa. I also don’t think belief in a God makes you help the poor—I think I mentioned already that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on morality.

            I’m not asking, how can you be an atheist and be moral? That’s a silly question because my observation of reality is that there are a lot of moral atheists. There are a lot of immoral religious people. My question is, why would the atheist care about morality if it’s all pointless in the end? Why should we in your words “live as best as our nature allows us to”? What was wrong with the Nazis’ concern with racial purity and attempt to eliminate Jews most of all but also blacks, gays, homosexuals, the physically and mentally disabled?

            So my question about the Holocaust still stands; I’ll paste it here for your convenience:

            “There were people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Was that commendable or was it stupid and pointless? It did nothing for their personal survival.”

          • makagutu says:

            The question you ask, that is, why would an atheist care if it is all meaningless, shows me you have treat the individual as an island. The moment you realize they live in society and that associations, training and temperament matter you will cease to ask that question.
            Those who helped the Jews did it first and foremost for themselves. They couldn’t bear the thought of their suffering and they could have risked their limb and life if they could rescue just a single Jew. It was in their make.
            The Nazis thought that was the best thing to do. Years of reinforcement of the idea that the Jews were guilty for whatever crime culminated in that. Hitler could not have originated the idea if it wasn’t already there.

          • tildeb says:

            Dina, imagine yourself accompanied by your child trying to find a place to live approaching different camps that have signs out front, some telling you that this camp welcomes unfettered rape and excuses murderers, this other camp is full of selfish people out for their own benefit, but this one will offer resettlement help, community defense, and share their resources with newcomers. Which one would you select?

            In effect, this is what evolution has produced over time: millions of Dinas that have selected more communities like the last one and these populations have since flourished more than other tribes that support the other kinds of camps. Now multiply that preference globally by ten thousand generations and you can see how natural selection favours those Dinas and their fit offspring to spread the importance of human reciprocity.

            Reciprocity is the root of altruism, of fairness. Infants demonstrate this inherited feature and show preference for fairness over and above selfishness. This is not to say we cannot be selfish, cannot exercise self-centered behaviour, but that we come into this world with a preference for fairness and demonstrate a very early willingness to benefit those who exercise reciprocity. And this preference crosses all other boundaries… like culture, language, ethnicity, race, gender, and so on. It does not derive from religious belief but precedes it. This is indisputable but you can quickly test this yourself by how you read or consider scripture: you elevate certain principles you encounter and suppress those you don;t agree with. That’s why you don’t try to gather the neighbours to kill someone who picks up sticks on the Sabbath or dares to trim the corners of their hair. You exercise your own inherited sense of reciprocity and fairness and dismiss such morally infantile commandmentsfrom some supposedly divine Dear Leader.

            When we extend this understanding into the worlds we inhabit on a daily basis, we are the ones determining what is and isn’t fair… according to our innate sense of reciprocity. And this raises two aspects I want to mention.

            The first is that we are both autonomous moral agents. The difference is that non believers (the grown-ups, that is) have no option but to accept full responsibility (but far too many are all too willing to pass it on to some other authority… be it ‘society’ or the local despot). This is not true for many believers – people who can rationalize – and are taught from a young age to do just this – that this moral authority actually belongs elsewhere. And I shouldn’t place that only on believers, of course; many people are only too willing to pass on this responsibility to any Dear Leader… divine or temporal. The root problem is the willingness to shift the burden of moral responsibility. In this sense believers are ripe for do just this because they are usually raised in a family that thinks this moral capitulation is actually a virtue as long as its pious. That’s why I call it a rationalization and a very poor reason for giving away one’s moral autonomy.

            The second is that this consideration about fairness is not just a human one. Many studies have shown the same preference by critters from apes and whales and birds to dolphins and rats. And this, too, is just starting to be studied by neuroscience. Such exciting times we live in.

            So that’s why atheists are deeply concerned about moral autonomy and responsibility and why so many of us try to convince those who have given up their moral autonomy to take it back and be fully responsible for their behaviours. When an atheist is vilified for the umpteenth time for supposedly lacking a moral standard because they do not share the predominant religious belief, we grow weary of how this ridiculous assertion then plays out in inequities and prejudices and legal discrimination. You bet we are concerned and you can guarantee our continued advocacy to give up the moral tether to some archaic and barbaric religiously inspired moral code. We don’t need it. In fact and deed, it’s a moral capitulation – a root problem – that causes unnecessary but real suffering to real people in real life every day for the sake of maintaining undeserved power in piety. We need to get back to understanding our own moral responsibilities as the autonomous agents we really are and leave this childish and selfish notion of accessing some imaginary divine morality where it properly belongs: in the childhood of humanity.

          • tildeb
            I actually find myself agreeing with much of what you wrote here – although I would use different terms to describe the concept. I believe that the underlying root of morality is planted in the heart of man – this is expressed in the Talmud with the teaching of Hillel – “that which you hate done unto yourself do not do unto others – that is the entire Torah the rest is commentary”
            In other words there is a drive inside man (and I have no problem believing that some animals share this drive to some degree) that cringes from cruelty and sees kindness as something positive – cringes from falsehood and dishonesty and finds honesty as something pleasurable – and following this drive is morality – whether you believe in God or not.
            If belief in God is true and moral it would have to be a result of man following this particular drive and no other – and even if God is true (which I believe He is) then if one follows God because of a desire for power or to make him/herself feel better and above others – then the moral atheist is closer to the God of truth than this immoral religionist.
            https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/do-not-do-unto-others/

          • Dina says:

            Tilde, looking at your second paragraph here, then I guess that in the twentieth century moral evolution not only came to a standstill but zoomed back to prehistory, as it was one of the bloodiest centuries—if not the bloodiest—in human history.

            I don’t understand your claim that religion shifts our responsibility for our behavior to our God. Have you been talking to Christians again :)? Jews believe that we are personally responsible for our actions, that we are free to choose, and the responsibility for those choices lie with us and no one else.

            I also don’t understand how you can assign responsibility to a being that doesn’t have free will. If our subconscious brains choose for us and we therefore have no conscious ability to choose, how is it fair to hold someone accountable for doing something wrong?

          • tildeb says:

            I intensely dislike discussions about ‘free will’ because it takes so long just to get to understand what it is we’re talking about that most people grow very weary… including me. When you add ‘morality’ into the mix, then the discussion grows by at least a factorial!

            How we come to differentiate between right and wrong has many components not least of which is a biological preference for fairness we call ‘reciprocity’. We find the ubiquity of this ‘rule’ – this innate sense of recognizing what is an is not fair – not just in every human community but across the species boundary. We find it in every type of scripture. We find it played out by infants demonstrating this preference. We know it is biological in origin for each of us. But we also know that people are quite capable of demoting this preference for all kinds of reasons. Figuring out how we are able to do that is not a religious question; it is a neurological one and so my preference is to look for explanations and answers where they actually can be found: in biology generally and neuroscience in particular.

            But to address the question about whether or not we have ‘free will’ always seems to require a mandatory dive into the murky depths of philosophical and metaphysical and religious waters that do nothing to reveal the very physical processes and neurofunctioning that constitutes what makes up the idea of ‘free will’ but takes on a never-ending journey into the hypothetical. I don;t find this helpful.

            I have already described good science that reveals predictive brain activity long before any conscious ‘choice’ is even considered. This fact alone draws into question what we mean by ‘free will’ and if we in fact have whatever it is. Although this brain activity is predictive, this activity does not mean we cannot change the particular circuitry we apply before acting, but the evidence is very strong that we have to consciously intervene before we act in order to include different circuitry. This process gives the appearance of having choice because we have options on going ahead with different actions. To be clear, if we don’t intentionally intervene, we act with no choice involved. In this sense we have no ‘free will’. If, for example, we feel aroused by someone of the same sex, we have no ‘choice’ in this circuitry and this fact undermines the various notions vilifying those who have this response. And this understanding matters.

            If we do intentionally intervene, we have to have alternative circuitry available. This is where learning comes into play; if we haven’t built the different circuitry (if we haven’t learned) how to think differently than simple responses to stimuli, we have no option, no choice, no ‘free will’.

            So here’s the thing: morality is a term we use to describe the consequences of actions on some comparative value metric. Note that we’re talking about actions and trying to relate these back to ‘free will’ with the assumption that all actions are freely made! But that’s not neurologically true.

            Can you see the problem with assuming that all actions are freely made… which is exactly the assumption needed to be true that the consequences of those actions can be comparatively measured fairly, but that is, in fact, not true?

          • makagutu says:

            I have thought about this for a while and though I haven’t seen the particular instances tidleb has mentioned, I would say that while atheism is simply about lack of belief in deity[ies], it means everything else is up for grabs, morals too and that moral codes, whatever they mean, are arrived at rationally but not taken at the say so of a particular book.
            Tell me something, how does the command don’t kill tell you why you shouldn’t kill? IS it moral because it is in a book or because someone said a god said so? Why is it a good thing not to kill?

          • Dina says:

            If moral codes are up for grabs, then we have no business judging or condemning the morality of, say, Christianity or Nazism. Certainly, praise or condemnation is out of place for beings who lack the will to act any differently.

            By the way, there is no command as far as I know in the Hebrew Bible “don’t kill”; rather, it says “don’t murder.” There’s a difference. You tell me, why is it a good thing not to murder?

          • makagutu says:

            i don’t want to be killed, at least not now. That is enough motivation not to kill another.
            Why not? It is in all our best interest to live in a society where people don’t kill people because they don’t like their colour or height.

      • larryb says:

        I feel the same way about the theory of evolution.

    • Arkenaten says:

      I’m very curious why you guys feel so threatened by the scholarly consensus of the mere existence and DEATH of a Jewish preacher from the 1st century?

      Not threatened at all. I am sure there were lots of Jewish preachers in the 1st Century, but the one reflected in the bible is, in all likelihood, a myth.

      Furthermore, I am entitled to raise objections to a mythological set of characters who are imposed upon society as genuine historical characters with supernatural attributes by people who then try to sweetly indoctrinate children with their nonsensical religious fantasies.

      It has led to certain politicians claiming their god speaks to them and/or guides them on a daily basis.

      Anything that lends any sort of credence to such bullshit needs to be discouraged.

      Sorry that I have not addressed your previous question, but I am not au fait with the other characters you list.

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Here ya go, Ark —

        The pseudo-Messiahs begin to appear with the end of the Hasmonean dynasty, when Rome commenced its work of crushing the independence of Judea. For the maintenance of the endangered state the people looked forward to a Messiah.

        From Josephus it appears that in the first century before the destruction of the Temple a number of Messiahs arose promising relief from the Roman yoke, and finding ready followers. Josephus speaks of them thus: “Another body of wicked men also sprung up, cleaner in their hands, but more wicked in their intentions, who destroyed the peace of the city no less than did these murderers [the Sicarii]. For they were deceivers and deluders of the people, and, under pretense of divine illumination, were for innovations and changes, and prevailed on the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them in the wilderness, pretending that God would there show them signs of liberty” (Josephus, “B. J.” ii. 13, §; 4; idem, “Ant.” xx. 8, §; 6).

        Thus about 44, Josephus reports, a certain impostor, Theudas, who claimed to be a prophet, appeared and urged the people to follow him with their belongings to the Jordan, which he would divide for them. According to Acts v. 36 (which seems to refer to a different date), he secured about 400 followers. Cuspius Fadus sent a troop of horsemen after him and his band, slew many of them, and took captive others, together with their leader, beheading the latter (“Ant.” xx. 5, § 1).

        Another, an Egyptian, is said to have gathered together 30,000 adherents, whom he summoned to the Mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem, promising that at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall down, and that he and his followers would enter and possess themselves of the city. But Felix, the procurator (c. 55-60), met the throng with his soldiery. The prophet escaped, but those with him were killed or taken, and the multitude dispersed (ib. xx. 8, § 6; “B. J.” ii. 13, § 5; see also Acts xxi. 38)

        Another, whom Josephus styles an impostor, promised the people “deliverance and freedom from their miseries” if they would follow him to the wilderness. Both leader and followers were killed by the troops of Festus, the procurator (60-62; “Ant.” xx. 8, § 10).

        Even when Jerusalem was already in process of destruction by the Romans, a prophet, according to Josephus suborned by the defenders to keep the people from deserting announced that God commanded them to come to the Temple, there to receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Those who came met death in the flames (“B. J.” vi. 5, § 3).

        With the destruction of the Temple the appearance of Messiahs ceased for a time.

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Furthermore —

        From the beginning, his mother knew that he was no ordinary person. Prior to his birth, a heavenly figure appeared to her, announcing that her son would not be a mere mortal, but would himself be divine. This prophecy was confirmed by the miraculous character of his birth, a birth accompanied by supernatural signs.

        The boy was already recognized as a spiritual authority in his youth; his discussions with recognized experts showed his superior knowledge of all things religious.

        As an adult, he left home to engage in an itinerant preaching ministry. He went from town to town with his message of good news, proclaiming that people should forgo their concerns for the material things of this life, such as how they should dress and what they should eat. They should instead, he insisted, be concerned with their eternal souls.

        He gathered around him a number of disciples who were amazed by his teaching and his flawless character. They became convinced that he was no ordinary man, but was indeed the Son of God. Their faith received striking confirmation in the miraculous things that he did. He could reportedly predict the future, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.

        Not everyone proved friendly, however. At the end of his life, his enemies trumped up charges against him and he was placed on trial before Roman authorities for crimes against the state.

        Even after he departed this realm, he did not forsake his devoted followers. Some claimed that he had ascended bodily into heaven; others reported that he had appeared to them, alive, afterward, that they had spoken with him, had touched him, and had become convinced that he could not be bound by death.

        A number of his followers spread the good news about this man, recounting what they had seen him say and do. Eventually, some of these accounts came to be written down in books that circulated throughout the empire. Ultimately, these eye-witness stories were collected into a single book, in the third century A.D., and the details of his life and teachings preserved for us today in the twenty-first, by author Philostratus, in his biography, “The Life of Appolonius.”

        Appolonius of Tyana was a great, first century A.D. neo-Pythagorean teacher and pagan holy man, a worshiper of the Roman gods, and only one of numerous others during that century, who were believed to have been supernaturally endowed as teachers and miracle workers, many of whom were said to have performed miracles, calmed storms, multiplied loaves, to have foretold the future and healed the sick, to have cast out demons and raised the dead, to have been supernaturally born and taken up into heaven at the ends of their lives. It seemed to have been the century for it – or something in the water.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Don’t forget about Asclepius archaeopteryx1.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            I can’t list them all – I just created a sampler.

            Rome’s conquest of the Levant (unlike the gentler Greek conquest earlier) seemed to have sparked a need for a Messiah that brought those guys out of the woodwork.

    • makagutu says:

      I’m very curious why you guys feel so threatened by the scholarly consensus of the mere existence and DEATH of a Jewish preacher from the 1st century?

      You and I are aware this is not how the story is told. I don’t think any christian would agree with your calling the fellow a Jewish preacher of the 1st century.
      To turn your question on its head, why does it bother you so much if this said preacher is considered a work of fiction/ legend?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I don’t think any christian would agree with your calling the fellow a Jewish preacher of the 1st century

        I’m sorry, I have to disagree with you there based on my knowledge of Christianity. Dr. Michael Brown, James White, James Dunn, Anthony Buzzard, (you name an educated theologian,) and they would all agree that Jesus was a 1st century Jew, though they will envelop him in a theology and miracles, nobody denies that.

        Most Christian laity know nothing about the Jewishness of Jesus, that’s very true, (they are not exposed to Jewish culture,) but anybody with the slightest knowledge of the subject matter couldn’t deny it.

        Well, its not that I have an issue with you doubting the NT miracle claims, its the fact that we have solid primary source evidence outside of the NT. We have scholarly reasons to believe that he existed, and there would be absolutely no benefit to Christianity as a religion based on the available historical information.

        The fact that very similar messianic phenomenon have been replicated by Jews of later periods around people whom we know to be historical should give one pause. I’m just pointing out a flaw in the logic of calling Jesus a myth. If Jesus wasn’t real based on the criteria you guys are establishing, neither were most of the rabbis of the Talmud real. Based on your rubric much of modern Jewish history (as preserved among religious Jews) wouldn’t count as real to you. You would say, “that’s myth too.”

        We have less documentary evidence for the existence of various sages than we do for Jesus, but there is no reason for faking it. There just isn’t any logical reason to deny a historical Jesus. The only reason that the Jesus myth hypothesis even exists (as per Ark’s admission) is to discredit Christianity. Consider carefully that Jews have used the Christian N.T narrative itself for centuries to do the discrediting.

        • makagutu says:

          I agree with you on the Jewishness of Jesus if he existed. What I meant to say was that to the christian, he is much more than a messiah and depending on which christian you ask; he is god incarnate or son of god. And thus to put him at the level of other preachers would be demeaning.

          Are you saying we have external evidence for miracles? Or did I misunderstand its the fact that we have solid primary source evidence outside of the NT?

          Many people think of Helene of Troy as a woman of flesh and blood, of Hector of Paris and stories have been told about them. I see Jesus or rabbinic claims in the same light. To ask that I treat them differently without offering much more in their support is to ask me to make a case of special pleading.

          Is there a way the non existent of Buddha would negatively affect the state of the Buddhist teachings? Or better still, if it were possible to demonstrate that Socrates is a creation of Plato, would this particular detail derail the Socratic teachings?

          I don’t think the Jesus myth exists only to discredit Christianity. In my view it is a legitimate position to hold, one that I subscribe to.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Are you saying we have external evidence for miracles? Or did I misunderstand its the fact that we have ‘solid primary source evidence outside of the NT’?

            I was wondering about that myself, Mak – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

            “If it is a miracle, any sort of evidence will suffice – if a fact, that requires proof.”
            — Mark Twain —

          • makagutu says:

            And that claim reminds of UncleE who always repeated that line of consensus but couldn’t tell which Jesus they agreed on.

          • Concerned reader says:

            no, not evidence of miracles. What I meant was, Jesus’ existence and death is validated in that he is referenced in Josephus, Tacitus, and in Suetonius, 3 major historians that have no stake in Christian mythology. It is not logical to hold that all of these sources are100% forgeries/myths especially after scholars have painstakingly corrected for Christian and Muslim interpolation and bias. As I’ve said also, Jewish literature is notoriously pithy on historical details, because that is not the aim of the literature. You will find less evidence (for even more important people than Jesus,) if you just look at the documentary evidence available in Jewish sources.

            depending on which christian you ask; he is god incarnate or son of god.

            Or he’s just a Jewish man who has been enveloped in myth the same way several other rabbis have been in his cultural setting. The Christian sect of the Ebionites, (followers of Jesus who maintained their Torah observance,) said he was just a man chosen by G-d to be the messiah. That is not a unique thing.

            I’m not advocating special pleading. Jesus is referenced in 3 separate major historians of his period, and we know that the religious sources (like the NT) were interested only in the Messianic ideology, but we can correct for that because of clear evidence of redaction.

            There are Jews who were far more significant than Jesus, IE Bar Kochba (from a historical perspective,) who had even less data available on their existence, until we got very lucky. We know about bar Kochba now from coins, a few references in the Yerushalmi, one from Cassius Dio, and from letters of his found in a cave at Nahal Hever.

            Before the discovery of these letters, we had just 3 very tiny documentary sources, only one of which came from outside of Jewish culture. Jesus, by contrast has 2 Roman historians and one Jewish. The history of the N.T.’s development as a text shows us Jesus’ evolution from Jewish sage to an incarnate god, Christian sects themselves highlight that he was seen as an average human by some, etc. Most importantly, THE SAME MESSIANIC PARADIGM HAS BEEN REPLICATED. It has happened more than once.

            As I’ve said, this same phenomenon (mythologizing a known existing person) has happened in Judaism in modern times. Given all that available information, it goes against the historical evidence to hold that he was just a myth. Its not a case of special pleading when you have multiple attested sources, from different cultural settings, indifferent to Christian claims, and can cross examine them.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Jesus’ existence and death is validated in that he is referenced in Josephus, Tacitus, and in Suetonius, 3 major historians that have no stake in Christian mythology.

            I can only repeat what I said earlier – no eyewitness accounts, only multiple-hand reporting, and that hardly counts as evidence. “That’s just the way it was in those days” does not translate to evidence.

            We know about bar Kochba now from coins, a few references in the Yerushalmi, one from Cassius Dio, and from letters of his found in a cave at Nahal Hever.

            Good to know, when such hard evidence like that turns up on Yeshua, let us know.

          • makagutu says:

            I think it is not true that the three historians you mention attest the existence of Jesus.

            I think we need to be clear on something, and in my view this is where the contention is; there is Jesus as described in the NT- a son of virgin- you know the rest and the Jesus of scholars- an itinerant preacher in first century Judea. The existence of the first one is highly unlikely and when I say Jesus didn’t exist, I mean the first one. As to a preacher man in Judea at the turn of the century; there is no doubt several existed and one could have been named Jesus.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            As to a preacher man in Judea at the turn of the century; there is no doubt several existed and one could have been named Jesus.” – Likely several, Mak, as Yeshua was a common name. In fact, the NT’s “Bar abbas'” first name was also Yeshua.

  37. Concerned Reader says:

    Anything that lends any sort of credence to such bullshit needs to be discouraged.

    The scholarly consensus on the existence and death of Jesus doesn’t lend credence to Christianity, that’s why I’m confused by your perspective. Even the New Testament doesn’t automatically support modern Christianity, because the text shows clear evidence of sectarian disagreement and orthodox redaction.

    I’m disagreeing with you as a historian, not because of your skepticism.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      To doubt the miraculous is warranted and very normal, (just look at all the mutually exclusive miraculous claims that different religions make, they doubt each other so you don’t have to 😉 .) You however, are advocating a hypothesis (that someone didn’t exist,) when the available (non threatening and corroborated) evidence suggests otherwise. That’s all I’m curious about. If we threw out all of the Pseudepigrapha and Appocryphal tales we found in ancient history, there would be none of it left.

      • makagutu says:

        Hi CR, allow me to ask, when you say some preacher existed at that particular point in history, do you mean the one whose story is told in the bible or the one scholars have tried to carve out from the stories? The bible one was born of a virgin, walked on water, fed thousands of people on 2 loaves, turned water into wine; did he exist? Or which type of preacher have you in mind?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          As you know, Mak, all four authors of the gospels were anonymous, and began writing in 70 CE through the turn of the first century, and thus never met the man and had no information about him that didn’t come to them multi-hand. Evidence of this nature would never stand up in a court of law, and is certainly insufficient to base a life upon.

          • makagutu says:

            You know we agree, arch. What I don’t understand is who CR and others insist lived back then. Is he the fellow whose story is told in the bible or someone else

  38. Concerned Reader says:

    Maybe I can ask a question that will make things clearer? In Judaism, there are literally hundreds of rabbis who are named in discussions of Jewish law in the Talmud. In many of these discussions, there are miraculous events described, such as rivers flowing backwards on command, walls caving in on their own, calves being created from nothing via a sages permutation of letters, visits from Elijah the prophet who is in heaven, etc. Does the telling of these miraculous tales automatically invalidate the existence and legal opinions of all the scholars that are listed in the Talmud?

    We can believe Jesus was a historical person, because, the miraculous tales about him are a dime a dozen and form an integral part of the culture and tradition we are discussing. Miracle is an inherent aspect of Jewish literature, poetry, cosmology, etc. Does it mean all these miracles happened? Not necessarily, that’s a faith experience thing, but that doesn’t mean that we throw the people mentioned out as myths. Myth permeates the culture.

    Did the Lubavitcher Rebbe (who died in 1994) do any miracles or raise from death to life? Chances are very slim. Jesus is likely historical because, for one thing, he is not unique in the history of Judaism’s history of failed would be messiahs, his message (and tales of similar miracles) have been replicated more than once in Jewish history. Jesus like figures have arisen since the time of Jesus. Where do you think miracle comes from? It usually starts as an interpretation of some real event, that is later imputed with greater significance. Consider this example.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      I’m guessing mass religious hysteria – I can’t help wondering how much pressure was on those to say they saw it, whether they did or not. Is any part of that film the actual “vision,” or are the images a dramatization?

      The Talmud, or the ‘Oral Law,’ is a collection of interpretations, aka, opinions.

      In many of these discussions, there are miraculous events described, such as rivers flowing backwards on command, walls caving in on their own, calves being created from nothing via a sages permutation of letters, visits from Elijah the prophet who is in heaven, etc.

      For stories even more fantastic than those, I suggest a perusal of Louis Ginzberg’s, Legends of the Jews” From Gen 14, for example, we learn that 90-year old Abraham miraculously grew to an enormous height, with steps a league in length, and single-handedly chased down the five armies, rather than wait for his 300 Ninja-shepherds to keep pace.

      Want to know why Jacob had time to kill and skin two kid goats, dice and boil them, just to make his dad a single bowl of “savory stew”? “Legends” can answer that – it’s because despite the fact that Esau was considered an expert bow-hunter, he decided instead to run down a deer on foot, to use for making the stew, and for some reason, decided that a single deer wasn’t quite enough for a simple bowl of stew, he needed to run down a second. So he tied up the first deer, and went out in search of the next, but Satan came along and released the first deer, so Esau was forced to chase down yet a third, etc.

      And that, boys and girls, is how Jacob, Yahweh’s favorite, was able to deceive Isaac, his father, and steal Esau’s blessing. Yup, the Bible’s the place to go if you want to learn morality, the book is full of it.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        See archaeopteryx1, what you don’t realize, (and what most Christians don’t realize either,) is that mythic themes and elaborations of bible stories are an integral part of Jewish culture and tradition, but they don’t actually have a legal binding authority on Jews. Jews know that those stories can be simply allegories that express religious teaching.

        Jews don’t have to believe in Aggadic legends if they have rational reason to doubt them. You are looking at Jewish myths and literature and assuming they would read it like a Roman. You think, “man, are these people so stupid that they believe just anything?” You don’t even consider the possibility that Jews can be living in real life like everyone else but use myth for elaboration and elucidation.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        You are missing the point. There really was some cloud phenomenon captured on film in the 60s-70s, it was reported in newspapers, witnessed by thousands, etc. Was it really Mary? NO! Not unless you believe Mary appears in people’s toast. Was there something that physically happened that prompted this crowd to get in religious frenzy thinking it was Mary? Yes! A person or event can be real, without all the paranormal stuff being real too.

  39. Concerned Reader says:

    Good to know, when such hard evidence like that turns up on Yeshua, let us know.

    Again, you missed the point. Those coins were not discovered until the 1880s. The letters of Bar Kochba not discovered until 1955-57. Before those finds, we had much less documentary evidence (just 2 sources) for Bar Kochba (who lived much later than Jesus,) than we have for Jesus of Nazareth.

    The mythologizing of real people has happened to modern rabbis, its not hard therefore or silly to accept historical consensus for that reason.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      I suppose I could repeat it: “Good to know, when such hard evidence like that turns up on Yeshua, let us know.

      Or, I could say, “I’ll believe it’s true, because in 1800 years or so, someone just might turn up some hard evidence —

  40. Concerned Reader says:

    well, good luck proving much of anything from ancient history, or even the Medieval period. The data you are looking for is very sparse most of the time.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Thanks for the warning, I’ll remember that if I ever find the need to prove that King Arthur was real.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        I think my central objection is going unnoticed. I am not questioning your skepticism of Christianity. If you believe Jesus is a myth due to a lack of substantial archaeological or documentary evidence, that is your choice. However, consider that your method causes many thousands of people to be considered mythical, many of whom we now know to have existed in real life. The percentage of people (based on your criteria) in the Jewish community who would be considered mythical is astronomically higher than in other cultures, due to the nature of the sources and the data they present, compared to the information you are asking for. How many of the rabbis of the Jewish people do you consider to be wholly mythical?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          consider that your method causes many thousands of people to be considered mythical, many of whom we now know to have existed in real life.

          And how do we now know that these people existed in real life? Concrete evidence, or multi-hand legends?

        • Arkenaten says:

          @CR
          One difference between someone like Alexander the Great ( first name off the top of my head) and Jesus of Nowhere Nazareth is that Jesus started life as a god-man/divine.
          Only after when he was dead and buried disappeared into the sky were there references made to a ”Chrestus”. or that stupid nonsense in Josephus.

          But for the better part of two millenia it was accepted he existed.

          But why should this be? Is there truly any genuine evidence for this character? No. None at all.
          And as he was portrayed as divine first why was there never any Hooplah during his Mission or directly after?

          And if he was based on a real historical figure then who?

          You would expect someone to have said/written:
          ”Oh, him. Yeah what an arse! Running round claiming he was their god’s son, supposedly doing all these miracles.Stupid Jew. Well we showed him didn’t we?”

          Alas, not a peep or whisper. And there isn’t anyone that comes to mine who may have fit the bill.
          Unless you know of someone?
          From a theological POV it would be dangerous for him to have been based on a local boy as someone would have bound to have recognised him.
          And of course, the Crispyans will tell you this is because Jesus was who they say he was – Divine.
          Now do you truly believe he was some divine entity? Of course not. And I don’t either. Therefore, common sense screams at you that he was simply a narrative construct.

          Just like Moses in fact.

  41. Concerned Reader says:

    1. Carrier notes that the historical consensus on the existence of Jesus is untrustworthy and based on methodoogical fallacies. (ex. all Scholars such as the Jesus seminar are working from hypothetical models of a possible historical Jesus.)
    2. Carrier does not support Ditto Mythicism IE the religilous or Zeitgeist documentaries which have misinformation of primary sources.
    3. He asks that we Adopt skeptisism of the conventional views of the historicity of Jesus because they were initaially proposed and held by Christian scholars, though they are still maintained by secular scholars years later. (don’t assume research was conducted in anunbiased way.)
    The alternative theory that Carrier propounds is that Jesus was not ever a real existing Charismatic rabbi, but began his existence conceived solely as an Archangel, a celestial being at war with evil forces in the heavenly realm conceived of in the Judeo Christian theologies, he was a theological construct who revealed deep scriptural wisdom to his followers.
    Carrier believes that the “pesher method” is key to unlocking the myth building of Jesus. Jesus was Euhemerized ( from Euhemerus 4th century B.C.E mythographer responsible for saying stories of the gods were about real people who were later deified.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euhemerus
    4. We have confirmed the presence of Euhemerization in religions in polynesia (the cargo cults) that anthropoligically speaking (while they were coming into being,) had no basis in fact.
    5. The sequence of evidence (authentic epistles, then synoptics, etc.) corrispond to a clear process of Euhemerization, IE Paul’s epistles only mention a celestial christ. (this is debated within the field of religious studies btw.)
    6. This celestial logos (also called by the name Jesus (from Zechariah) is elaborated upon by Philo of Alexandria. We can therefore see this type of Euhemerized literature exists for Enoch, Moses, Elijah, and the Jesus from Zechariah. We see then that Carrier believes that a coincidence is impossible, Christians must be believing in some form of pre-existing Jewish Jesus theological construct.
    7. Philipians 2:5-11 predates Paul acording to Carrier himself. He recieved a doctrine of a celestial Jesus from others.
    “We have confirmed the presence of Euhemerization in religions in polynesia (cargo cults) that anthropoligically speaking, had no basis in historical fact.”

    Carrier is using as his primary source example of Euhemerization in action, an anthropological study conducted during the rise of the cargo cult. A religion sprang to life with no historical persons at the start.
    What carrier fails to take note of is an awareness of anthropological data on Judaism. Its very true that in some cultures immaterial animistic spirits take on historicity when sncretism is present, but sometimes (also well documented) is where this occurs in reverse. A clealry existing earthly being gets enveloped in mythology.
    Documented cases of this Occuring within Judaism are
    1. Eva Frank
    2. The Lubavitcher Rebbe
    There may indeed be more cases, I am not sure, but anthropolically speaking, we have documented cases of living people who took on a heavenly role, either during their life, or within as litlle as 20 years of their dying. So, while I hear carrier’s objections (based on Greek myth formation, history, and anthropology of Polynesian and Greek cultures,) THE DATA SURROUNDING JEWISH CULTURE HAS ANTHROPOLOGICAL EVIDENCE (film, interviews, debates etc. OF REAL LIFE EXISTING PEOPLE undergoing this process in reverse (humans becoming heavenly beings.)

  42. Concerned Reader says:

    Clearly, during his lifetime, no one thought he was important enough to write about.

    Can you find contemporary accounts of many ancients?

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Why would I care? None of them promised me eternal life. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        You are showing that you have a bone to pick with religion, I get it. However, it seems you don’t care about what we can reasonably know to be true from available scholarly evidence. In that respect, you are being no different than an emotionally driven evangelical believer. I mean that respectfully BTW.

        I have just refuted Richard Carrier’s Jesus myth hypothesis using his own argument’s premises and standards of evidence, and all you can think to say is, “Why should I care?” I respect your decision to reject religious opinion, but if you can’t try to see why people may find faith relevant, then you don’t have much credibility in a discussion. You are 100% right to speak your mind, but don’t make people out to be fools when you answer a thought out response with “Why should I care?”

        I have Hitchens’ The Portable Atheist right in front of me on my desk, I have read and listened to mainstream theories of the Jesus myth hypothesis, and I find the argument lacking in substance. The same anthropological data that shows Carrier that gods can be Euhemerized, shows that real historical people can become deified whilst being historical.

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          it seems you don’t care about what we can reasonably know to be true from available scholarly evidence.

          I get the impression that you may be somewhat confused about the difference between knowing something and assuming it to be true. When it comes to evidence, “reasonably” is not a term that I’ve ever encountered. Do you know of anyone who is “reasonably” dead?

          I said, “Why should I care?” to your question, “Can you find contemporary accounts of many ancients?” I can’t believe you didn’t understand that.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I understood your response to my question. You asked If I could produce contemporary accounts of Jesus. We don’t have contemporary accounts of anyone in ancient history. Your dismissal based on that is meaningless. Where are the 1st hand accounts of Plato? Aristotle? Any of the Caesars?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Again, who cares? They didn’t promise me eternal life. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Seems like it’s deja vu all over again – (Yogi Berra died today at age 90, but clearly his heritage lives on.)

          • Concerned Reader says:

            When it comes to evidence, “reasonably” is not a term that I’ve ever encountered. Then why does a mythical Jesus hypothesis like Carrier advocates mean anything to you guys? Its an abductive argument Carrier is using.

            All empirical knowledge is “reasonably” true based on our observations and experiments relative to our present level of knowledge as a species. Inference to the best explanation.

            Richard Carrier sees what he believes is an inference to the best explanation. He’s using Greek cultural examples based off of Euhemerus and based off of an anthropological study of the Malaysian New Religious movement called “cargo cults.” Using these examples as his model, he believes Jesus and others were likely created whole cloth from a similar process.

            I too have an inference to the best explanation, based on similar premises as Carrier’s, but using a different (more relevant) model as a basis of comparison. I’m using the culture of the Bible, the one that produced all of the known biblical literature, the Jewish culture, as my model to come to my conclusion. In a study of the native culture that produced biblical books, we see people who we know were historical that have become enveloped in myth and made into heavenly beings. We can examine this process from a place of firsthand anthropological evidence from within the culture in question. Unlike Carrier (who is using a foreign culture) as his rubric, I am looking at the native context.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            We can examine this process from a place of firsthand anthropological evidence from within the culture in question.

            By examining books written thousands of years ago, by anonymous authors about whom we know nothing?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Actually, you may be confused about something else as well, Ark is the one saying Yeshua never existed, not I. All I’ve ever said is show me the evidence that he did, and thus far, I’ve not seen any.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Again, who cares? They didn’t promise me eternal life. I’m not talking about Christianity, or Christian claims, this is a Jewish site. You will find that Jews agree about the mythic proportions of the NT Jesus, the difference is, Judaism can explain the emergence of this movement from an insider perspective that Christians don’t get.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Judaism can explain the emergence of this movement from an insider perspective that Christians don’t get.

            A philosophy based on the writings of anonymous authors, about whom we know nothing, and the opinions of Rabbis (Midrash), also based on those anonymous writings. The Pharisees, for example, also believed in eternal life and the coming of a Messiah – I understand they’re still waiting on that, how’s that working out?

  43. Concerned Reader says:

    By examining books written thousands of years ago, by anonymous authors about whom we know nothing?
    Umm, yeah. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to studying any ancient history, not just biblical history. Any history department in a university will tell you that. Still it is more reasonable, (and indicative of sound methodology) to be at home in the native context of the work you are studying, rather then to rely on a foreign example as a basis for comparison.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Umm, yeah. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to studying any ancient history, not just biblical history.

      The majority of “biblical history” has proven to be historical fiction, one only has to look to the archaeological work of Dever or Finklestein to be aware of that.

      And again, other examples of ancient history aren’t trying to convince anyone that there’s a sky fairy who performs magic that can affect anyone’s daily life. And again, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        And again, other examples of ancient history aren’t trying to convince anyone that there’s a sky fairy who performs magic that can affect anyone’s daily life. Really? How much ancient history have you read?

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          I really don’t know how to answer that question, how does one quantify how much of anything one has read? Do I say half of it? Do I express it in percentage points? Do I provide a bibliography? I’m not only not sure how you want that answered, I’m not sure it’s worth my time to answer it.

          Better yet – if you have examples of ancient history that try to convince the reader that there’s a sky fairy who performs magic that can affect anyone’s daily life, why don’t you trot it out? That would be simpler.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            Better yet, we don’t need the sky fairy, (ancient polytheists tend to see the sky fairy as largely irrelevant.) We have earth fairies. The Pharoahs, the Caesars, the Chinese emperors, etc.

  44. Concerned Reader says:

    Again, how many of these rabbis are you willing to write off as non existent?

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      It doesn’t matter – they’re only voicing opinions, based on anonymous sources, about whom we know nothing – opinions that are based on their own biases, fears, and in some cases, doubtless, delusions. Have these been on archaeological digs and inspected evidence for themselves? Or do they just sit around philosophizing? I suspect the latter.

  45. Concerned Reader says:

    Its not that you have no evidence, its that you do not find the available documentary evidence convincing. That’s not the same thing.

    • Arkenaten says:

      There is nothing convincing about the available evidence. It isn’t difficult.

      Why make an ordinary man not only divine but espouse claims of him being Yahweh incarnate when there is a real possibility that this character may be ”found out”.

      Simply start from scratch and” ‘Make your own god in a weekend”.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        its just how religious devotion often works Ark. Apparently the documentary evidence and anthropological evidence from later history is convincing enough for 99.99% of NT scholars and for ancient historians.

        A Cargo cult that Richard Carrier forgot to mention (maybe because it goes against his central thesis about Euhemerization) is the Ghost Dance movement. Wovoka AKA Jack Wilson the Paiute prophet who died in 1932 was subject to the same level of adoration as a Christian messiah figure.

        Why make someone who isn’t divine an object of adoration? Its as simple as an irrational devotion to a devoted leader in a time of distress. Even Christians who consider Jesus a human being still adore him as such.

        It happens in Secular movements and in new religious movements all the time. That’s why its not that crazy to believe that a historical human being, like the historical Jesus could be deified. It happens often. Its happened more than once in Judaism since the Nazarene. Here is some possible Archaeological evidence for you.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talpiot_Tomb

        I’m not saying this is the Nazarene’s tomb, but if it could be somehow authenticated, there is the historical Jesus, in the least its a Jesus. We know there are at least 28 Jesus’ mentioned in Josephus. The point is, the phenomenon of deification is common enough (even in the history of Jewish Messianic movements,) so as not to be implausible.

        Also, a unique perspective on Docetism (the belief that Jesus wasn’t a physical person, but that a likeness of Jesus only appeared to die,) can be easily explained. Devoted followers actually saw him die by crucifixion, but the belief system hadn’t yet developed the empty tomb tradition. Resurrection, and the continuing existence of righteous people after death in a Jewish context doesn’t rule out people seeing a body put inside of a grave.

        I think Carrier’s hypothesis falls apart chiefly because his anthropological model (The rise of the Malaysian cargo cult) is not the best model to use. Why not use the native culture as the model when it is available?

  46. Arkenaten says:

    I am fully aware of the ”tombs’ and every time such nonsense is thrown in the mix it simply adds credence to the myth.

    There is no need to use umpteen comparisons to try to demonstrate the supposed historicity of this character or lack thereof.

    Apparently the documentary evidence and anthropological evidence from later history is convincing enough for 99.99% of NT scholars and for ancient historians.

    What documentary evidence are you talking about?
    Tacitus/Annals and Josephus?
    There is not a single scrap of contemporary evidence. And nothing of Saul of Tarsus, either.

    Why did Philo not make a single mention of him?

    Your attempts at trying to rationalise Jesus into being is falling on deaf ears, I am afraid.

    That someone called Yeshua may have been executed by the Romans for sedition is quite plausible.
    But there is no record of this event.

    That this character is in any way related to the character in the gospels is simply nonsense.

    There are people who still think Moses was real.
    I am not one of them and simple common sense tells me that the documentary evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is hearsay or fabricated.

    But you continue to believe what you like.

    • Concerned Reader says:

      What ancient source isn’t hearsay? Do you not consider how history is transmitted? You want evidence for ancient things that you will never find.

      • Arkenaten says:

        There is either a basis of fact or it is fiction.
        Considering the lengths the church went to create a religion: the abuse, the interpolation, outright fraud and the likely wanton destruction of contradictory texts and complete lack of contemporary evidence,
        the option of pure fiction is more likely.

        There cannot be evidence of something that did not exist or an event that did not happen other than a confession to the creation of a fiction.

        I am following the ”Trial” posts and these are cleverly written and just believable enough to convey the writer’s aim – that the bible can be trusted and the stories have more than enough credibility to reassure the faithful and maybe give doubters pause for thought.
        Just as the story of a real Jesus being at the root of Christianity. Considering what’s at stake, some people are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the status-quo remains.

        However, as the writer of the ”Trial” posts, fluffs it at the last by adding ”God Bless” to his sign off, so you ( and others) are prepared to tip your hat and say well, we have Christianity so we surely must have someone they based it on.

        And I ask : Why must there have been a real historical person as the basis for the religion?

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Then you can’t rightfully call it factual, can you? There is factual evidence that Pontius Pilate was prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, it can be found in Roman annals, and they were anal about annals – not hearsay, evidence – yet there is none for the alleged son of a god who came to save the world by sacrificing himself to himself because of some rules that he, himself had made.

        • Concerned Reader says:

          Then you can’t rightfully call it factual, can you? There is factual evidence that Pontius Pilate was prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, it can be found in Roman annals, and they were anal about annals – not hearsay, evidence

          Yes, Roman evidence preserved in Christian manuscript traditions transcribed by Christians, maintained by them, etc.

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Even the Gospel of John, which itself was written anonymously and goes further than any of the synoptics to attempt to persuade that Yeshua was definitely the Messiah and implies that he and Yahweh were one, was either composed by several different authors, the credentials of whom cannot be authenticated. Even the story of the ‘woman taken in adultery‘ was first ascribed to Luke, – in the 4th century CE, no less – before it was decided it fit better with pseudo-John’s writing style. Attempting to find any degree of authenticity there should be discarded as a fruitless pursuit.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        No scholar (including Robert M. Price, John Crossan, Bishop Spong, Bart Ehrman, Richard Carrier, etc.) expects to find a historical Jesus in John’s gospel. Every respectable scholar, both mythicist and historicist respects the consensus view when it comes to recognizing the clearly mythic aspects of the text, and seeing motifs that were shared with Judaism of the period. The area of disagreement comes from the question of whether there is a plausible historical person at the root of it. I think when we look at Judaism of the second temple, (the native context,) it is more likely that a historic person lies at the root than a non existent one, if only because the same phenomenon (mythologizing of a real known person,) has happened in Judaism since Jesus on more than one occasion.

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          So, “mythologizing of a real known person has happened in Judaism since Jesus on more than one occasion” is proof positive that Yeshua was real. Well, that’s all the proof I need!

          Do even YOU believe that?

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I find it infinitely more Plausible (because its been replicated in the native context) than what the Jesus myth hypothesis proposes. The rubric set by the Jesus myth theory would also “prove” that every rabbi not mentioned outside of rabbinic sources is also mythical. Before 1800 Bar Kochba would have qualified as wholly mythical, which today we would consider crazy.

            To use the native culture as my model to determine what’s likely to have occurred is infinitely stronger method then using Uhemerous, a dubious 2nd century Christian appocrypha, and a malsyian cargo cult to support my thesis.

            I’m fine if you believe he’s a myth, but the available method for reaching that belief is unsound on every level.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            When his existence is a fact and not a belief, you will let me know, won’t you?

  47. Concerned Reader says:

    http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/julian-jews.asp

    Consider that you will find virtually NOTHING of the above event in Jewish sources. Nothing.

    • Arkenaten says:

      And your point is what exactly?

      • Concerned Reader says:

        My point is that one of the key reasons why Richard Carrier doubts the veracity of references like the Testimonium Flavianum is because all of the (presently) available copies of Josephus were preserved only by Christian scholars whom we know edited many a text to suit their agenda. He dismisses the source due to the source of preservation, not due to a weakness in the reference, or its presence in all available copies of the manuscript tradition.

        Even the Arabic version is preserved by a Melchite Christian author (Agapius of Hierapolis,) and Carrier believes therefore that there is sufficient reason (because of Muslim interaction with Byzantium at the time of the Arabic version’s preservation in the10th century,) to reject the reference that lacks interpolation.

        He argues that the lack of Christian interpolation can best be explained as this author being sensitive to a threatening Muslim theological environment. While I will grant that this is very possible, I showed evidence above of a known historical event (very much involving the Jewish people directly,) but that is only preserved in Roman and Christian historical records, not in Jewish ones. Just because biases exist, because reasons not to write exist, and or events aren’t mentioned by some, doesn’t mean we can’t reasonably correct for those issues.

        Carrier says that the Arabic reference only alludes to Jesus’ death (out of sensitivity for Muslim theology it isn’t bluntly stated,) but he neglects that nobody doubts a crucifixion, they only doubt the nature of the Crucifixion, and who it happened to. This also goes back to a flaw in his method. His central source “proving” a celestial Crucifixion of Jesus in the heavens, as opposed to an earthly one is the Ascension of Isaiah (a second century CHRISTIAN Apocrypha that exists primarily in Ethiopic and has fragments in Greek, Coptic, and Slavonic. There is a theory that this text is Jewish, but it is just like the theory of the Q text.
        In other words, his whole theory is built on a very dubious source. He tells his readers, “hey guys, don’t believe all those idiot Christian scholars who just accepted that Jesus existed,” but then he goes and uses an obscure second century apocrypha to prove his main hypothesis.
        The reason that I asked if you were a historian is because background knowledge is necessary to even understand Carrier’s hypothesis properly. I have a degree in both history and religious studies (comparative religions) and I can tell you that the evidence isn’t so cut and dry.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I have not raised Carrier; not that I am aware of, and I do no know why you continue to do so? To be honest, while I agree his POV I find his method of presentation pedantic.
          Perhaps this is how historians behave/write?

          There are no facts we can reliably state that confirm this character existed.And the supposed evidence is so feeble as to render it useless unless you want it to reveal what you want?

          The biblical character is obviously a fiction – a narrative construct.

          If the mention in Annals is not interpolation, as some believe ( I think Gibbon was one?) then it is merely hearsay and has no genuine merit. As Tacitus does not mention a source it is little more than a throwaway paragraph. He could simply be repeating an urban legend or myth.
          Strike one.

          The entire TF was once considered a rank forgery then, for some reason, it appears to have been re-examined and now some believe there is a core that has historical merit.
          I wonder what was the motivation behind this?

          Other than this there is nothing.
          And Philo makes no mention of this character.
          Why not? He was around before during and after the supposed ministry?

          If you wish to argue Carrier’s POV, then please, go and argue with him.I have no interest in convoluted arguments and analogies.

          When looked at in isolation, maybe it it is possible to wring some sort of historical core out this story, especially when faced with so much opposition, some may be desperate to maintain credibility and suggesting that the character Jesus of Nazareth dd not exist would be the death knell for one’s academic career.
          I have no such concerns.

          However, when the entire text is considered the idea of a genuine historical figure at the core is simply nonsense.
          Strike 2

          • Concerned Reader says:

            The reason that I brought up Richard Carrier, is that he has the proper credentials, (in contrast to someone like Joseph Atwill) and he offers the best reasons to reject the historical consensus on Jesus’ existence. A lot of ancient history (particularly Jewish history) is based only on hearsay, namely oral transmission. Again, consider your sources. We don’t throw out everything as myth because myth is present. Myth was a valid method of transmitting information in the ancient world. The objections that discredit Christian preservation of history, ignores that a lot of the Roman history, philosophy, etc. that we possess today was preserved and comes down from the hands of Muslims and Christians. Galen, Plato, Aristotle, Tacitus, Pliny, etc. all preserved by those very groups that aren’t trusted.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Once again, the references to this character are unreliable and can easily be dismissed with impunity.
            You have not offered a single credible source and you do have yet to address probably the most simple, common-sense example , Philo, and why he is silent on this character.

            Believe what you like, there is no evidence worth considering and that is the bottom line, I’m afraid.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            A lot of ancient history (particularly Jewish history) is based only on hearsay, namely oral transmission.

            Agreed, and by the time that archaeologists William G. Dever and Israel Finkelstein dismantled the mythology, there was very little left.

  48. Concerned Reader says:

    Ark, just out of curiosity are you a historian?

    • Fred says:

      He’s a musician, CR, which explains a lot. I say this as a former long time rock musician from the late 70s to the early 90s. Musicians are very egocentric and for them a little knowledge, even a single books worth, is exaggerated into the wisdom of Solomon and the intellect of Einstein.

      Who are your influences, Ark? Megadeth? Rob Zombie? Rammstien?

      • LarryB says:

        Fred
        This guys “arkenaten” reputation proceeds himself.
        http://citizentom.com/2015/02/23/why-i-banned-two-trolls-from-citizen-tom/

        • Sharbano says:

          That is why I decided any further pursuit of dialog is pointless and accomplishes nothing except to further the ego of those. The types of rebuttals they have given are evident to their purpose.

          • larryb says:

            Fred
            At least we get almost a 30 minute break in between his comments. He must be working with a 5k upload speed. A normal 10 minute conversation turns into 3 hours. Get a life.

        • Arkenaten says:

          ARK
          I’ll bet you guys work in teams discussing amongst yourselves who to go and harass next.

          Darn it! Rumbled. How did you work it out? That is so smart.
          Yes, we are part of a secret convocation spread across the globe.
          The WordPress sect meets every Friday down at a Top Secret local pub, The Nazarene Arms, where we exchange notes and plot the further downfall of religion.
          Shucks, there go my Friday nights!

          • larryb says:

            ARK
            that’s 2 non denials.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Is it? Are you keeping score, Larry? How sweet.

          • larryb says:

            ARK
            that’s 3 NON DENIALS

          • Arkenaten says:

            And you can count as well! I am impressed. Wait when it gets past ten and you have to take your socks off.

          • larryb says:

            ark
            3 denials all you get. I know your curious so here goes.

            archaeopteryx1 on September 25, 2015 at 2:36 am said:
            Tildeb, why don’t you give poor old DP a chance to catch his breath, and pop over to https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/ where Ark and I currently are. Things are getting interesting.

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm said:
            So either I accept your definition, or I’m “paranoid and pissy” – sounds like you’re trying to pull a Monahan.

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 9:08 am said:
            They are infested woth creationist idiots over there. I had one stupid dipshit tell me that Intelligent Design was science. I can’t be doing with such moronic arseholes, and the only time I can pretty much guarantee a comment will be printed these days is if I begin a thread by telling James to fuck off. 🙂 I find it too funny.
            He has a habit of cherry picking on other occasions but drop an ”F” bomb and, wham! there’s the comment. I think he gets a rise from the ”bad language”

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 9:33 am said:
            Actually, I’m amazed that Fred is letting us get away with what we are – especially YOU!

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 9:43 am said:
            Turns out I am the good one after all!
            In your face, you old fossil!

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 3:33 pm said:
            After the language you’re using over there? In your DREAMS! Wanna take a vote?

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 4:49 pm said:
            What the frak are you talking about?

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 5:14 pm said:
            I don’t have time to waste my morning going over there to copy the language you used! It doesn’t bother me in the least, I’m just surprised Fred let you get away with it.

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm said:
            What? I only seriously swear at James. And he loves it because it winds up some of those creationist half wits that follow him. I drop no F bombs at Fred’s spot. The worst I said was shit.

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 5:43 pm said:
            Is this the part where I relinquish the title and admit you’re the good one because you only said “shit”?
            (Ain’t gonna happen!)

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 6:02 pm said:
            Naturellment! Surely you must be tired of all the schmoozing with the fundies by now?

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 6:07 pm said:
            I know it will be hard for you to understand this, but I simply don’t rant – unlike you, it’s not in my nature, hence,
            ‘the good one’ –.
            And it’s not ‘schmoozing,’ it’s a verbal chess game.

            Arkenaten on September 23, 2015 at 6:09 pm said:
            Verbal chess game! lol
            So, actually you are being a crafty, scheming prig?

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 6:30 pm said:
            Pretty much.

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 3:34 pm said:
            Good one, my achin’ asteroid –!

            violetwisp on September 23, 2015 at 11:31 am said:
            You satisfy his cartoon atheist understanding. Especially when you swear.

            archaeopteryx1 on September 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm said:
            And rant.
            (“Good one” – it is to laugh! Ha!)

          • Dina says:

            Very revealing of character. One would expect such serious, sober thought couched in careful language from these types, wouldn’t one?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Isn’t this the clown, Ark, who told YOU to get a life? I wonder how much time he spent digging all that up? Physician, heal thyself!

          • Arkenaten says:

            Good heavens! You do have a lot of free time on your hands, don’t you? I would never imagine I am worthy of so much attention. Tell me, Larryb, what do do when you are not ”Trolling” after me, watch porn or the cartoon network?

          • makagutu says:

            I am hosting the group meeting this Friday 🙂

          • Dina says:

            Dear Mak,

            I’ve been holding you up as the model of courtesy and decency that your atheist friends should emulate. Have I been wrong about you? Do you support their hatred and bigotry toward religious people, and their obscene language?

            It has always been one of my mottoes that good and honest people can disagree and still be friends and respect each other. Do you agree?

          • makagutu says:

            We agree. We can disagree and still be friends. Hate and bigotry will not get us anywhere, being reasonable will, I think.

          • Dina says:

            Perhaps you will be a good influence on your friends, then :).

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            their obscene language” – Mz Dina, would you please be so kind as to show me where I have EVER used obscene language? Thank you —

          • Arkenaten says:

            Shall I bring cake?

          • makagutu says:

            Cake and beer, I haven’t tried this combination but I think it can be great

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            (Don’t tell anyone, but we were also on the ‘grassy knoll’ —)

        • archaeopteryx1 says:

          Good one, Larry! Yeah, I’d buy a used car from “Citizen Tom,” who pretends to model Tom Paine, who said –

          “Among the detestable villains that in any period of the world have disgraced the name of man, it is impossible to find a greater than Moses.”
          — Thomas Paine —

          – by appearing to maintain that Paine was a devout Christian. The man’s word is as good as gilt.

      • Arkenaten
        Please do not use obscene language on this blog
        Thank you

        • Arkenaten says:

          You object to obscenity?

          Fair enough. I actually do not think the word is obscene, but rather a vernacular term for procreation.

          However, if you are really worried about obscenity, how do you feel about this?

          “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:16-18)

          or …

          “Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished.” (Isaiah 13:15-16)

          or even this, which is a real corker – one of my favorites, in fact!

          “And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under the axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.” (II Samuel 12:31)

          Nothing like a good old Holy Holocaust, right?

          Considering these verses are considered sacred Holy Text and read to small children as bedtime stories as an example of how truly loving and just your god is please, I am interested in your educated opinion; on an Obscenity Scale of 1-10 how do rate the word fuck now?

          • Arkenaten
            Fair enough question.
            the One who gave a life can take it – the One who blessed can remove the blessing. That is not obscene.
            In any case using foul language is certainly very low on the obscenity scale of what humans are capable of – but I still ask you to please desist from using such words here.
            Thanks

          • Arkenaten says:

            Ah, another champion for the disgusting Divine Command Theory.
            We really are stooping to the crass and idiotic theological bumph are we not?
            Well, FTS as they say.
            You and William Lane Craig should become pen pals. He adores DCT.

            Oh, and which god are you referring to please?
            Are you perhaps hanging you hat on the megalomaniacal egotistical son-of-a bitch and most importantly, fictitious Canaanite god of the Pentateuch that the Israelites ripped-off , dumped his female consort and made their own?

            Or had you another deity in mind?.

          • shields3 says:

            “the One who gave a life can take it”…… that is obscene. You must not commit murder is one of the ten commandments is it not? Is this a case of do as I say not as I do? Are you that scared of this so called god that you condone all of his violence?

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            — and that’s exactly the fear I originally mentioned, regardless of what other excuse for believing is offered.

            When Jacob’s rambunctious boys slaughtered all of the males of Schechem, was Jake incensed that they had slaughtered helpless men? No —

            — Gen 34:31, KJV

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            Good old WordPress – that posted before I was finished typing —

            “And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.
            — Gen 34:31, KJV —

            I find it especially ironic that Ham, son of Noah, glimpsed that little old winemaker naked, where he had passed out on his bed, and he and his descendants were cursed forever, while the descendants of Levi, who co-murdered an entire city’s male population, went on to become holy priests. Yahweh seems to have a strange sense of justice.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            But where would our morality be without him?

          • shields3 The point of the sentence – “The One who gave life can take it” is that when the Creator takes a life the grand total is that He granted the gift of existence for the time the being existence – He didn’t terminate something – with Him the grand total is always positive. This is mathematics.

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

          • shields3 says:

            If you are saying God created life but he did not terminate it and grants a certain amount of time in existence, is this not the same thing? As I am not good at mathematics the grand total you mention is the positive the fact you lived for a certain amount of time?

          • shields3 To answer your last question – the answer is yes – the grand total “positive” is the fact that you existed for an amount of time

          • Arkenaten says:

            What frakking ”Creator” are you talking about, YPF?
            I was unaware we had established there was one.

          • Arkenaten I thought you were of scientific bent – you could study theories without them being proven

          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            That’s known as speculation, or hypotheses.

          • Arkenaten says:

            Again what Creator are you talking about? At least, give me a name

            Oh, and ”God” doesn’t count as a name – just in case you were thinking along such lines.

      • makagutu says:

        Fred what has Ark being a musician got to do with the content of his argument? Is this how low you can get? If you can’t answer him, smear him with mud, really and you complain of people being caustic or call others trolls! You amaze me

    • I am. Or at least I have a degree in ancient and medieval archaeology. So what? That doesn’t mean I know more or less than Ark about biblical history.

      That was a pointless and snotty question. In my opinion as a historian and an archaeologist.

      • Concerned Reader says:

        “I am. Or at least I have a degree in ancient and medieval archaeology.”

        Was this response directed towards me roughseasinthemed?

        I only asked Ark if he was a historian because the whole Jesus myth hypothesis is a debate between historians about the efficacy of the methods used to study history. It wasn’t meant to be snide.

        As I pointed out to Ark, there are many figures in ancient history that have Zero Archaeological evidence, and only very sparse documentary evidence (particularly in the case of Jewish history,) and the myth hypothesis doesn’t factor that into the equation. I used Bar Kochba as my main example. Prior to 1880, he too was considered a completely mythical character until we found coins and letters.

        Ark further questioned my bringing up Richard Carrier when he himself did not bring him up. I brought him up because he is the best support the minority Jesus myth theory has, and its my opinion that Carrier’s methodology (though it seems rigorous) is deeply flawed, partially because of the data he used for his statistical analysis, (Malaysian cargo cults, Greek thought, and hellenic mystery religions,) and also because he doesn’t follow his own standard.

        Using Bayes’ Theorum (an equation used for determining probabilities) is only as good as the data you put into the equation, and he didn’t use all the available relevant data. Carrier does not use anthropological data that is relevant to the host culture or readily available from it, (the Jewish culture,) but uses data relevant to many foreign cultures. He’s going to get slanted results because of this.

        If you want to determine the likelihood of a historical event or person, not only do you need data from within the host culture, but you should also ask the relevant questions of historiography (how does this culture transmit its history,) so that you don’t use unequal weights and measures in making a determination.

        In the lecture I posted by Doctor Carrier, he urges listeners not to listen to the consensus opinion because it was inherited from Christians. He then fails to heed his own advice when he uses a second century CHRISTIAN apocryphal text (the Ascension of Isaiah) to prove his thesis. That is sloppy scholarship, and that is the best support that mythicism has.

        Just so you know, I am restating for the sake of blog readers, not to be rude, snide, or anything else.

        • Yes, it was.

          I think it’s fair to consider historical methods of study, basically primary and secondary sources and their validation. Similarly archaeological sources.

          But, I’m not looking at this from any biased perspective about religion, merely what the raw data tells us.

          And I only replied, because you asked about a historian. I still defer to Ark in terms of biblical knowledge because my degree dismissed religion.

          • Concerned Reader says:

            I don’t blame an Archaeologist for doubting a historical Jesus based on Archaeology alone, unless the Talpiot tomb was actually proven to be genuine eventually. But, we do have Tacitus and Josephus, (references that are in all of the available manuscripts,) and we can correct for interpolation. Philo can be dismis