I get emails from goddies

Here’s an email I received this morning. Though it’s addressed to multiple people, it may have been sent to me and “atheists and LGBTQ friends” may be the readers.

I will reveal, besides the state where he lives, the fact that the person is an older gentleman (he has a publicly viewable Facebook page) and—no surprise!—is a God-fearing, Trump-supporting Republican. His morning message:

Greetings atheists and LGBTQ friends. I found your e-mail addresses while browsing through the University of Chicago website, and God inspired me to write this letter to you, because He loves you and gave His life for your salvation. Please reply with honest questions and comments, and if you would like me to visit you and give you a more detailed testimony and Bible study. Or, you can visit one of the many Apostolic Pentecostal churches in Chicago, and show this to the pastor.

I really appreciate the honesty of your website, making your e-mail addresses available. Here is some good news for you. But before I tell you, please consider this: understanding new information in your mind, and believing in your heart are 2 separate issues. Please take time to honestly consider my point of view. Then, if you can prove you understand me, and you can then tell me something better, I will consider your point of view.

Before you decide to agree or disagree with this message, please try to understand it. Afterwards, you can make a more well-informed decision whether or not to believe it. This is what I recommend of you. “Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding” (2 Timothy 2:7). The Bible is true scientifically, historically, archeologically, emotionally, generationally.

I would like to show you many forms of infallible proof that the Bible is true, and also show you what is true about the Bible. If you have access to a Bible, please read the cited Scriptures. I understand more than catholic and protestant theologians what is true about important parts of the Bible, intellectually (by meticulously analytically studying original dictionary definitions of Old Testament Hebrew words and New Testament Greek words) and their context (author’s intended meaning), and emotionally (by experience, having received some of God’s promises). Also, keeping everything in proper context, there is nothing in the Bible that contradicts itself, and there is no evidence that can be used to prove anything in the Bible is false.

NAME REDACTED

Of course I’d like to see the “infallible proofs that the Bible is true,” but engaging someone like this is like stepping in quicksand: you’re going down and there’s no help. I love the last sentence with its loophole of “proper context,” as well as this claim: “there is no evidence that can be used to prove anything in the Bible is false.” What about evolution? (Of course, he’d probably say it was a metaphor, but I’m not going to find out.)

The beliefs of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church can be found here; they’re more or less what you’d expect: Bible infallible word of God, Jesus is coming back, accepting him will save you, and so on. No mention of snake-handling. . .

103 Comments

  1. Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Religion exists to control the behaviors of people. The most successful religions get those so controlled to work to convince others of the rightness of their position, so the control mechanism is self-sustaining.

    I am told that Donald Trump is going straight to hell. This suggests two things to me: there is no curved path to hell as everyone is condemned to go straight there, and that since someone in power has finally done something about Mr. Trump, I can go back to posting kitten pictures on Instagram and photos of everything I eat on Facebook.

    One part of the control of people’s behavior is the belief that everyone’s hash will be settled in the afterlife, so we don’t have to worry about it now. Hmm, just who does this protect? Certainly not the believers. How about the miscreants running the show who are causing all of the grief for you and me? We are not powerful enough to take them on, so we are told that god will do it … later, yeah, that’s the ticket!

  2. Joseph Stans
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I’m sure your parents warned you about talking to strangers on the street. Publishing your email is like talking to a stranger on the street.
    You don’t know where they have been and they may not have had all their shots. You all be careful out there.

  3. Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Dear NAME REDACTED,

    You write, ““Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding” (2 Timothy 2:7). The Bible is true scientifically, historically…”

    How do you square this with the fact that 2 Timothy is a pseudepigraphic forgery? The writer wrote it with the fraudulent intention of pretending to be the authoritative St. Paul.

    • darrelle
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Simple. Goddidit. It was all part of His plan and you don’t get it because He is so much smarter than us that your brain would melt before it could parse The Plan.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    He lost me after the True scientifically part. It is interesting how this guy used public information to spread his word to others. The idea then is that those others spread it to millions more. Just as lots of people do on twitter, facebook and other platforms. Some will say, oh well, it is just spam of another kind but mostly harmless. We are just beginning to see how powerful these internet connections are and maybe how they influence every aspect of peoples lives. And maybe from the past election cycle and far into the future, the influence they have on political life. These platform owners will not control this kind of thing because it is the opposite of profitable, so who will regulate it?

    • Hempenstein
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Just from an arm’s-lenght perspective I’ve long suspected that an important component of Hitler’s ability to rise to power (or maintain a grip on it) was harnessing electronic amplification of sound for those mass rallies he staged. Those would not have been possible without it. Similarly, Tr*mp harnessed the National Enquirer audience via Tw*tter.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        The Trump campaign hired a guy to run it’s twitter and facebook part during the election campaign and they were light years ahead of Clinton in this regard. And this does not even touch on what the Russians did which is all just now being uncovered. We may very well be able to thank twitter and facebook for the president we have today and the hacking of emails and all that may not even have been necessary. It just gave the campaign an additional boost.

    • darrelle
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I’m wondering why, if he is from a literalist cult, he is proselytizing so vigorously rather than praying in the closet as his good book instructs.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        I’ve never seen any overly religious type who did not want to spread the word. They cannot help it.

  5. Quadrivial
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I always like to ask those who claim that the Bible never contradicts itself: who killed Goliath?

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Not to mention Genesis 1 & 2. And how many commandments exactly?

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        And which list of ancestors of Jesus is true?

        And which version of Jesus’ birth, life and death is true?

        And which of the books of the new testament (if any) were written by disciples of Jesus (or their disciples) and which were fakes? And what about the many books that weren’t included? And all the many variant beliefs of different Christian sects?

        Believing that everything in the Bible is true is somewhat like taking as factual some of the tweets, fake news articles, etc. we are more and more inundated with today. We are supposed to be intelligent creatures with a capacity for reason. Let’s use it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:34 am | Permalink

          “Believing that everything in the Bible is true…” also means that literalists should be killing/enslaving a lot more people than most of them actually do.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted November 3, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            Don’t encourage them! 😦

            cr

    • Mark Reaume
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      This would be there answer FWIW: https://carm.org/who-killed-goliath-david-or-elhanan

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        “Second, it appears there was a copyist error in 2 Samuel 21:19.”

        Amazing that God would allow his inerrant word to be marred by a copyist error. You’d think that’s exactly the sort of thing that divine inspiration would prevent.

        • Mark Reaume
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          There is a special place in hell set aside for that copyist.

        • BobTerrace
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          God was busy that day supervising the killings of the Amalekites. He had to keep watching whether Moses’ hands were up or down. It’s hard work, you know.

        • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

          The good old copyist error, because copyist errors don’t count.

          When I was at school in the 1980’s I attended – as everybody in England had to – religious education lessons. The teacher was a Biblical inerrantist. He told us this in our first ever lesson.

          We started off reading the Bible and discussing its text. We talked about the contradiction between the first two chapters of Genesis and he claimed it could be resolved because there was a copyist error in chapter 2, namely the tense of one sentence was wrong thus making it appear the animals hadn’t already been created before Adam.

          I should have said “we’ve only got to chapter 2 of the inerrant Bible and we’ve already found one error by your own admission”. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of it u until after the lesson was over.

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The Bible is true … historically, archeologically, ….

    I’d like to see some archaeologists weigh in on that, or ref to some that have.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      “The Bible Unearthed” – Israel Finkelstein & Neil Silberman. Simon & Schuster. Briefly, Judaistic monotheism is a late C7th CE priestly and deuteronomistic invention, developed by the exilic elites in Babylon and consolidated in the post-exile C5th CE 2nd Temple Ezra and Nehemiah period.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Which even some sociologists of religion don’t get, because they don’t do textual analysis very well it seems. (This is one of the problems with Bellah’s book about religion in human history.)

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        There’s more to the Bible Unearthed than just that:

        – there’s no evidence the patriarchs in Genesis existed. In fact the stories appear anachronistic and the earlier ones are indisputably made up.

        – there’s no evidence that Moses existed or the Exodus happened.

        – there’s no evidence of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. In fact, there is evidence that the populations of the two kingdoms arose from local settlements.

        – there’s no evidence of the Davidic empire or Solomon

        – there is evidence of the two kingdom period but it suggests that the Biblical account is heavily spun.

        • Posted November 3, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          I half-listened to a BBC Radio 4 item the other day in which a proper astronomer referred to the Joshua story of the sun standing still and reinterpreted it as meaning an eclipse. He worked backwards to date the eclipse to ca. 1200 BCE or whenever and seemed happy with that. Lord knows if the predicate was circumstantial evidence for Joshua’s non-invasion. I tuned out at that point and filed it under waste of ear-power. All he needed do was google Profs. Finkelstein and Silberman for a derisory snort.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Aren’t there some places mentioned in the Bible that archaeologists have gone looking for and come up empty?

      • BobTerrace
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Yeah,

        Heaven and Hell.

  7. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    since he requires proof from you before he acts, perhaps a response in the vein of “prove that you actually care about me and my salvation etc etc …” before you act.

    people like this do NOT care about you, they are selling a product and once sold they will drop you and move on. Slimier and trickier than used car salesmen …

  8. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    …or snake oil handling…

  9. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Dear NAME REDACTED,

    Please pardon me while I suppress a yawn. And my irritation at your patronizing tone. Understand your question? Pretty simple, mate: You assert that the Bible is “true” and doesn’t contradict itself.

    This is silly, very old stuff that has been thoroughly refuted long ago. In fact, very few people try to claim there are no contradictions, since they are simply so obvious in the text. And any truth in there is mighty thin as well. (There are a few stories that reflect human nature.)

    Here is a convenient web site that lists many of the contradictions in the Bible: https://infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/contradictions.html

    If you want to “interpret” the Bible by making up new definitions of words, then you are fall afoul of the 8th Commandment (Catholic/Lutheran count). Or, one could say, expressing “Alternative Facts™”, which my Sunday School teacher instructed me were, in fact, lies.

    Right from the top, first example that comes to mind: Is the creation story in Gen 1 or the creation story in Gen 2 the “correct” one? (Of course, neither is correct.)

    I have read the entire Bible, have you? And tough slogging it was. My main impression was: All those ministers and Sunday School teachers were not being honest with me. They were cherry-picking the Bible and then claiming it to be authoritative. They said that this part is to be taken literally, these other parts figuratively, and these further parts ignored entirely. And yet, it’s authoritative. Right …

    My question to you: Have you thoroughly read, made sure you understood, and then decided on the truth of: The Hindu scriptures, the Buddhist scriptures, the Koran, the Hadith? (I, at least, have read them.) What did you decide, and why?

    –Cheers!

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Your last point is conveniently covered in the latest Jesus & Mo.

  10. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Guys, guys. This is obviously not from some Joe Schmoe, run-of-the-mill theist. Can’t you all see there’s really something to what this man is saying? I mean, there are underlined words! The scales have fallen from my eyes!

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      If god is not in all caps, italicized *and* underlined, then NameRedacted isn’t putting in the full effort. Why does he hate the lord so much?

      • David Coxill
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        This guy name Redacted is everywhere on the interweb.

        • Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          😀

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          REDACTED is already omnipresent? OMG. His full apotheosis must be imminently immanent.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        Let us not forget the age-old aphorism: “The truth of what you say is dependent on how many exclamation points you follow it with. If you accidentally include th numeral 1, it is extra true.”

        I think that comes from Confucius.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:44 am | Permalink

      On the plus side, he is one of the few proselytizers who can spell and use correct grammar.

  11. BobTerrace
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Come on down!!!

    Pray to Jay-Zus!

    God himself done tol’ me what YOU need to do.

    Believe Me!

    Want salvation? You can have it for the low price of $19.99 + tax. (+Shipping: $14.95)

    UNlimited time offer. Roaming rates may apply.

    (Offer applies in US, Puerto Rico and Nambia)

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      You forgot the other parts of the stereotypically American trinity, namely football and guns. 🙂

      (Yes, that’s four items, not three, but this *is* the trinity we’re talking about. :))

      • phil
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  12. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    If you did confront him with any one of the many contradictions, he would probably resort to glossolalia. Then after five minutes he would smile and say “See?”

    • David Coxill
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Hi ,had to look than up ,is there an English /glossolalia phrase book on sale ?
      I understand he is part of the mob that likes to play with snakes ?
      Very strange .

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        I grew up near a Pentecostal church. When they all started talking in the tongues it was weird. No snakes that I can recall.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:45 am | Permalink

        Try watching some YouTube vids of it. You’ll understand quickly why the answer to your (sarcastic, I’m sure) question is “no.” 😉

  13. Carey Haug
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I understand the thinking of Christians quite well as I have attended church in the distant past and have extended family members who are Evangelical Christians. Their strong belief doesn’t make God exist and doesn’t prove the Bible is true.

    This person should be reading your books not the other way around.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:46 am | Permalink

      Indeed!

  14. Jake Sevins
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I’m no expert on the Bible, but my understanding is that it was pieced together from various writings. The “editors” chose some of these to be authentic and others were discarded as “apocrypha”. Finally, this was issued as the word of God, unalterable and inerrant. Really?!

    The Quran is a little better since it was dictated by Mohammed and not changed (as far as I know) subsequently. The Hadith are another story… the assorted saying of the Prophet numbering in the 100s of thousands, and then being vetted by people later on to determine their authenticity and reliability.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      The story goes that the Third Caliph, Uthman (579-656 CE) gathered together the various recensions to create a standard version. Ibn Warraq counts 14 different versions.

      The recent University of Birmingham discovery of parts of chapters 18-20 from a very early transcript, possibly pre-dating Uthman, contain “minor variations” from the standard text. I know because I asked the Head of Faculty.

      You would expect discrepancies in a written language which did not include vowels for a few centuries more, and which was therefore subject to simple misinterpretation.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Out of curiosity, what does ibn Warraq say about that famous sura (I think) which is just a single letter? That should immediately raise questions to almost anyone about whether the text is intact. 🙂

        • Posted November 3, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

          Can’t remember, I don’t have the book on me. Are you referring to the suras with gobbledygook random letters at the start?

          • Posted November 3, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

            A friend (who reads Arabic) gave a talk to the local CFI group a while back on the Koran and its history. He had one with him, and showed the sura (or whatever) that is a *single* letter. (A qoph, if I remember correctly.)

            To be fair I have never actually thought much about the manuscripts in any of the bible parts either – I know there are weirdnesses like the animals for Noah’s ark entering “twotwo” (hence Mordechai Richler’s character? :)) but …

  15. Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    God “gave his life for your salvation,” eh? So either god is dead now, or he didn’t really give up anything for your salvation. Religious people are so stupid it hurts.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      But only *other* people. Religious people are immune.

      • claudia baker
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        But wait, “God gave his life for our salvation?” Jesus came back to life on Sunday, after dying on Friday. So, god really only gave up his weekend for our salvation. Not the same thing. Not a big sacrifice. Big f’n deal god!

    • Walt Jones
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        You don’t know that. He may have been partying it up for those days. Rocking and Rolling.

        • Walt Jones
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          When in hell, do as the hellions.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Or maybe he intended to stay, but the other gods didn’t like him, so we’re the girlfriend he goes back to when he can’t get it elsewhere.

          Or they just kicked him out after a couple of days because he thought he was boss, and they decided to show him who’s really boss. I mean, he doesn’t even have a hammer! He’s just making the best of a bad situation with humans. You can tell he doesn’t really like us by all the suffering he dishes out in a completely arbitrary fashion.

      • Posted November 3, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Sam Kinison had a nice take on Jesus’s BAD WEEKEND!

        Kinison had been a Pentecostal preacher before becoming a comic. You can tell … 🙂

        • Posted November 3, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

          In that vid, it’s Kinison’s voice and someone else in front of the camera. Kinison died in 1992.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

      The opening Titles of Top Cat contain, what I consider to be the best metaphor for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It’s the section from 14 to 18 seconds.

    • Posted November 3, 2017 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Which reminds me of an old joke (told by Jews — I may have heard it from Jerry):

      What?! Why are the Christians so angry with us for killing Jesus? — He got better!

      🙂

  16. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    First problem. The Bible is not ‘a’ book. It is a collection of writings produced for different purposes, at different times, in different literary styles, in different languages, and translated into yet other languages, and translated again, and currently read in different cultural contexts.

    Even if the Bible was ‘the word of god’ (which I expect it wasn’t) there’s no guarantee that modern people can read the books of the Bible accurately.

  17. Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    It worries me that these people troll Universities for e-mails. Rather creepy.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      A university email address is a magnet for attracting messages from cranks, along with enormous spam. I get hundreds of crank emails and I’m not doing anything to attract them like PCC.

      • Walt Jones
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Imagine having a common name like Jones. I’ve found spam in new email accounts the first time I opened the inbox.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        I get occasional ones and I’m just a published author in a few academic journals and edited collections (the number of which can be counted on two hands).

  18. Desnes Diev
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    “and God inspired me”

    When I read such phrases, I am always wondering if God would agree to what the believer is saying. Here: to have played any role in NameRedacted’s compulsion to write his letter.

    We should ask Him/Her/Them/It one day 🙂

    • darrelle
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      When I read such phrases I think, “Uh oh, this person is delusional.”

      • Desnes Diev
        Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        My first thought also. But perhaps musical beef is right: god’s will is always in phase with that of the theist, and vice-versa.

        😉

        • Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Time for armchair psychology: It seems to me that even theists who would insist that their will doesn’t always line up with god’s are still projecting their own will as god’s. They call the times when their will doesn’t line up “temptation”. They still agree with “god”. They simply have just enough self-awareness to admit that they don’t always live up to their ideals.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Well, of course. The will of god is always perfectly aligned with the will of any given theist.

  19. Smith Powell
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of a student I had who claimed that he could use Greek and Latin dictionaries and better understand the Bible than our Classics professor could even though the latter had years of experience with the languages and with Christianity. I don’t understand such hubris.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Dunning-Kruger. He was unaware of just how much expertise he lacked, and, more importantly, had no interest in trying to find out if he really did posses the expertise he thought he did.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        In my experience, and I’m sure in Jerry’s, there is, for the vast majority of the faithful, no amount that one can know about religions and their texts which would be enough to convince them that you know what you’re talking about.

        • Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. Having no (or a very limited) concept of one’s own fallibility is a key component of DK.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”

      ― Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

  20. Posted November 2, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    “Consider what I say, and the Lord (will) give you understanding” (2 Timothy 2:7) doesn’t apply because it says to consider what Paul says in that letter, not what this guy says, unless of course he’s claiming to be Paul.

    He says “I would like to show you many forms of infallible proof that the Bible is true, and also show you what is true about the Bible. If you have access to a Bible, please read the cited Scriptures.”

    He wants to show you that the Bible is true, implying that all of it is true, yet he also wants to show you which parts of it are true. Wait, what?

    Anyway, I say “Using the Bible to prove God is like using a comic book to prove Superman.”

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      “Consider what I say, and the Lord (will) give you understanding” (2 Timothy 2:7) doesn’t apply because it says to consider what Paul says in that letter, not what this guy says, unless of course he’s claiming to be Paul.

      Well, technically no. It says to consider what the person who forged the letter says. 2 Timothy was written by somebody pretending to be Paul as already stated by Dermot O’Sullivan above.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      “Anyway, I say “Using the Bible to prove God is like using a comic book to prove Superman.””

      *Like* 🙂

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redacted,

    While keeping an open mind, a red flag in your Epistle to the Atheists, is your claim that “I understand more than catholic and protestant theologians what is true about important parts of the Bible”.
    There are many readings of the Bible, and judging whether anyone is valid either historically or personally is not simple.

    In my experience, appeals to context are often false pretexts for imposing a template or biblical texts an agenda of one’s own.

    There are portions of the Bible that I enjoy, such as Ecclesiastes and the story of Joseph, but I have a rather jaded view of Leviticus and other sections.

    Finally, I do not understand the thinking of Christians who support Trump. He seems to me to be far more like Nero or Caligula than the Jesus that you worship.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      Jesus, like Trump, was pretty self centered. He told people to abandon their families and follow him. He expected people to believe outlandish things just because he said they were true. He thought buying costly oils to wash his feet was better than spending money to help the poor because the poor will always be with us and he’s special. I think Jesus and Trump have much in common.

  22. Mark R.
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Please take time to honestly consider my point of view

    No thanks. I already wasted about 10 years of my youth living within your point of view. (Thanks mom and dad!) Those are poisonous waters- no way am I getting back in.

    • Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      A point that often never occurs proselytising theists. They assume we’re completely unfamiliar with theism. I’d bet most atheists, at least in the US, spent several years as theists, and that honestly considering the issues is what prompted them to conclude that theism is false.

      • Posted November 2, 2017 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes! They appear to think that if they could just get us to read a few passages in the Bible, we would be hooked for life (and death). We’ve all looked through it and it really is as bad as we thought.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 3, 2017 at 1:56 am | Permalink

          Worse!

  23. Walt Jones
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I, too, have felt emotional evidence for God when my prayers were answered. Amazingly, even after I stopped praying (years ago), I still get the same feeling when I find a good parking space.

  24. JOANN SERRANO
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Dear NAME REDACTED:

    The Universe is not based on abracadabra, magic or skygods.

    The Universe is based on rudimentary concepts like Difference.

    Fixed It For You.

  25. Rod
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    The thing I think about is this: What an impact could be made on humanity if Mr. Redacted had concentrated his energies on, say, recycling polymers, or making a better fertilizer, or how do you store solar energy at night, or how to make a better battery, or any one of a ton of issues, the results of which would benefit mankind, or at least a major portion of mankind.
    So much waste!

  26. jrhs
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    It amuses me when believers claim to know what their God wants and does.

  27. grasshopper
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Three statements from various religious practitioners I have met over the years have shown me the wide range of positive philosophical thought that can underpin faith, and dispelled ideas that faiths/cults/sects can have can contain freethinkers.
    One statement was from a Sikh who sent his children to a Catholic school. His explanation was that ‘everybody needs a spiritual education.” Sikh schools in the area did not exist.
    Another statement was from a group of Vietnamese Buddhists who posted on a notice board at a temple in Kew, Victoria, that Buddhism fulfilled their religious needs, but that if a better religion was to come their way then it would be buh-bye Buddha and thanks for the memories. The statement was allowed to be posted by the Abbot.
    The third was from a Christadelphian whose ecclesia criticised him because his children did not embrace his faith as they grew older. His response that his goal was not to create Christadelphians but to raise his children in a Christadelphian household.

    • grasshopper
      Posted November 2, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Edit: “dispelled ideas that faiths/cults/sects can have can contain freethinkers.”
      Should read “dispelled ideas that faiths/cults/sects can have CANNOT” contain freethinkers.

    • Posted November 3, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      About the Sikh who sent his children to a Catholic school: he probably realized that the important thing is to get them an education which didn’t include any critical thinking. Having their brains soften up enough to accept Catholic dogma would serve them well when they were a bit older, and he needed to switch them to believing in the various myths Sikhs find essential.

    • Posted November 3, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      A fair number of Muslims send their kids to the (publically funded) Catholic schools here in Ontario because they figure it is “closer” than the secular alternative. (Some of the Maronites do the same thing, but that’s a bit closer …)

      As for Buddhism, I think I remember there’s a saying in Zen that “the higher Buddhism is not Buddha”, which can be taken any number of ways …

  28. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    “… and God inspired me to write this letter to you …”

    What makes NAME REDACTED so cocksure it was God what inspired him, and not the Devil, or a bad anchovy on last night’s pizza (or maybe just some random electro-chemical activity going on inside his own noggin)?

  29. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    God inspired me to write this letter to you, because He loves you and gave His life for your salvation. Please reply with honest questions and comments,

    My honest response is primarily that injecting his unlikely myth as if it was somehow shared or even a fact makes me queasy. It would make both of us happier – since I would be more receptive to his letter – if he stopped relating this nuttiness.

    But I can add that the ending obviously means I have no questions, since the letter writer fully unsupported thinks he has the answers:

    “… show you many forms of infallible proof that the Bible is true … keeping everything in proper context, there is nothing in the Bible that contradicts itself, and there is no evidence that can be used to prove anything in the Bible is false.”

    Netting the double whammy that a) with his method there are no facts to discuss, nothing to test for falsehood, and b) he is fact-resistant. Of course a cursory check shows that the first two chapters of that religious text contradicts itself – different time orders of two separate creation myths mashed together – and that round estimates finds 50 % of the myth false by testing against observation, 50 % of the myth is untestable and therefore not fact.

    In sum, that religious text is false, as all of them are when we check them out. Which is by the way another reason – besides the obnoxious behavior of some people with minds rotted by religion – I am not entertaining any religion (“atheist” as he puts it).

  30. Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Redacted,

    Have you ever been inspired to reconcile any of the beliefs that distinguish your church from the Pentecostals?

  31. BJ
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    “Greetings atheists and LGBTQ friends. I found your e-mail addresses while browsing through the University of Chicago website, and God inspired me to write this letter to you, because He loves you and gave His life for your salvation.”

    Oof. Not a good start.

    “But before I tell you, please consider this: understanding new information in your mind, and believing in your heart are 2 separate issues.”

    No kidding! If you understand the Bible, you’re certainly not going to believe it.

  32. eric
    Posted November 2, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    understanding new information in your mind, and believing in your heart are 2 separate issues.

    Well, he’s not wrong.

    The problem is that with humans (and not just theists, though that’s the appropriate example here), the latter often comes before the former, creating a filter and bias that affects the former..

  33. Diane G.
    Posted November 3, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    11 Things the Bible Bans But You Do Anyway

    http://monicks.net/2009/09/12/11-things-the-bible-bans-but-you-do-anyway/

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 3, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Speak for yourself, DeeGee; I, for one, am down to 10, since I won’t wear poly-blend. 🙂

      I do, however, eat an inordinate amount of shellfish, so I reckon that evens things out.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 4, 2017 at 3:08 am | Permalink

        Hmm, I’d be careful if I were you, Ken. Sounds like you might be on a slippery slope, there…

        😀


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