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If we’re wrong and the Koran really is what it claims to be, then we must conclude that Allah is the original “try-hard wanker”.



Discussion (111)¬

  1. K P Spong says:

    You left out “under-achiever.” Or perhaps that’s covered by “wanker.”

  2. J Ascher says:

    Touche, author and bravo!

  3. Richard Harris says:

    Spot on! (One can speculate as to why the faithful of other religions either do or don’t have the same ‘tendencies’.)

  4. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Sublime, and painfully pertinent.
    A brilliant contender for the get-it-into-a-national campaign.

  5. Well, what are you going to do when your cognitive dissonance overwhelms your brain? This strip explains all fundamentalists, of whatever stripe. Author, you continue to nail it.

    I posted this link near the end of the last thread. I’m going to re-post it here because it’s too good to miss.

    Totally OT but this is hilarious and a lot of fun. Try the new age bullshit generator and see what kinds of deeply meaningful phrases it comes up with for you. It just generated this for me:
    “This life is nothing short of a condensing vector of unified inseparability.”

    Man, I could write a book and give that Deepak fella a run for everybody’s money.
    http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/

  6. Sashab says:

    Christianity has had its moments, too, Richard

  7. Lurker111 says:

    Ouch! Totally on target here.

  8. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    If suffering a crisis of belief
    No need to fall into grief
    Threaten the submissive with rage and wrath
    If they don’t follow your violent path
    Teach your disciples to murder and thieve.

  9. Markus River says:

    Or you could just quietly slip away, Mo. It’s not as if anyone would recognise your face from, say, a cartoon. . . oops.

  10. I always enjoy your strips. For a Ruthless take on Evangelical Christians, see the ABCs of Evangelical Christians. http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/20429/abcs-evangelical-christians-2/

  11. Ephphatha says:

    “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29 http://youtu.be/m03vpmiAhAg

  12. two cents' worth says:

    Great to see you back here at the Cock & Bull, Nassar! Here’s to your health!

  13. JohnM says:

    Welcome home, Nassar. It’s been a strain for all of us not having you around, as you will see from previous comic’s comment threads.

    As Ephphatha has reverted to random quotes from the “Wanker’s Book of Nonsense”, I suppose we’ll all have to start with our own favourites again. Here’s mine:
    “A very great part of the mischiefs that vex this world arises from words.” Edmund Burke (1729 – 97)

  14. steeve says:

    DH, I am literally crying into my keyboard at that site. Do I mean literally? Yes, I do.

  15. Mahatma Coat says:

    DH, thanks so much for the link and so glad that you gave it a second time. I now have something of value to while away waking midnight hours.

  16. Chris Phoenix says:

    Hey Author, check this out –
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2627663/Teenager-forced-leave-prom-chaperone-dads-ogled-complained-make-sons-impure-thoughts.html
    This girl was forced to leave her prom because she might cause “impure thoughts.”

    This one is Jesus’s fault, not Mo’s. It happened in the U.S., in the state of Virginia. Ugh.

  17. Mary2 says:

    Nassar’s back! Welcome and hope you are well and happy! The break seems to have done you well – I like this poem!

    Ephphatha, “It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law and the Gospel before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).” – Holy Quran 3:3

  18. Mary2 says:

    “Making tea is inside cosmic fulfillment” – this one must be for the Poms on the page – I’m not particularly fond of tea (nor, probably, ‘cosmic fulfillment’)

    from the Wisdom of Deepak Chopra page which does a similar thing to DH’s link: http://www.wisdomofchopra.com/

  19. Again, everyone please donate to this great site. We cannot let this site tragically disappear simply for the lack of money. I will match every donation made in the next 24 hours, up to $100 USA. Do it.

  20. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Nassar, good to have you back. You realise that you now have to belatedly do your thing on the comics you’ve missed?

    Brilliant, Author. I wonder if our new friend Ephphatha would classify Mo’s crisis of faith as atheism, just as he did with his own?

    The following, to Darwin and Walter, is copied from the last comic:
    Darwin Harmless says:
    May 14, 2014 at 3:02 am
    ……………..
    Did Ephphatha actually suggest that we’re angry at god?

    Darwin, it was a couple of comics back where he (I presume) muttered something about us fundamentalist atheists looking for a chance to vent our rage at God.

    Walter, I have no problem with the idea of an ex-atheist, I simply don’t believe that one would ever make such a fundamentally(!) stupid statement as the one I mentioned above, so either our new friend is simply lying in the hope that his conversion would impress around these parts, what with him having been one of us, or he’s mistaking his disillusion with the god his original sect worshipped, and what he calls atheism was no more than the period between his rejection of the ‘wrong’ god and the finding of one that complied more with his expectations of what a god ought to be.

    Darwin (again), the ‘strike’ thing is done the same way as italics, you just type the word strike between the left- and right-facing arrows at the start of the bit you want to strike out, and at the end you do the same, but add a / between the left arrow and the word strike

  21. Ephphatha says:

    All of your speculation about me is incorrect, AoS. And please note that I already addressed the lack of a difference between anger with God and/or the idea of belief in God. Same net result for all intents and purposes here. Half a dozen of one, six of another. No points for moot points.

  22. One for Ephphatha: And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man – Genesis 27:11

    Steeve and Mahatmacoat, glad you got a kick out of the link. Thought you might.

    Nassar, welcome back. I see your poetry is as memorable good as ever. Hopefully your health has similarly rebounded.

  23. Author says:

    @cosmicstargoat – That is extremely generous of you! Thank you.

  24. Markus River says:

    I’ve just re-read my earlier comment, and realise that it reads as a criticism of Author’s cartoon, which it wasn’t, rather than Islamic paranoia over images of Mo, which it was.

    Sorry if there was any confusion. Small donation made as penance for my sin :o)

  25. hotrats says:

    AoS:
    Well that’s what you get for engaging with Ephphoph – more of the same pretentious, self-contradictory drivel. Now we’re all angry that anyone believes in god, and this is the same as being angry at god, which means we’re fundamentalists, which means he doesn’t have to answer any impertinent questions about what being an ex-atheist might mean. Add to that the absurd claims to might in the babble quote, and a link to some gospel music, and there you have it; a troll floundering out of his depth on any site where snide antagonism is not the norm.

  26. botanist says:

    Markus: I for 1 read it as you intended :-)
    cosmicstargoat: you prompted me to donate again, thanks :-)
    Author: a facility to donate on a regular basis would be good :-)

  27. IanB says:

    Sent my donation I’ll try and do another next month too

  28. machigai says:

    Yay Nassar!

  29. @author, just send me an amount via email. Here is my rant on creationism, I wrote this some time ago. http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/962/fuck-creationism/

  30. ShallowEnder says:

    This is the apex of religion. Barbaric, stupid, inhuman savagery institutionalised into the force of law and enforced by sheer strength of arms.
    “If you don’t do it our way, die.”
    Lovely.
    Ephphatha, I’m sure you are a civilised woman who hates the idea of murdering a new mother simply because her *parent* was part of a temporary, militant little cult, but would you condemn them?
    Or excuse them?
    Would you and your priests agree that these are vermin? Uncivilised savages? Or would you condone and support them as “fellow priests” whose “beliefs and culture” are “worthy of respect”?
    Ephphatha, it’s people like you that enable them to murder. Without your support, aid and succour those cretinous slime would be extinct.
    *That* and “Dem books am bad” (the African and USAlien versions both) are why we sane people dislike your magical fantasy fairy-tail world with its paedophile, baby-raping priests and witch doctors who eat bits of albino people.
    Yes, Eppy, old girl, your insane ramblings and pompous, pretentious posturing over delusionary wafflings lead directly to eating bits of people and raping babies to “cure AIDS”.
    And to the murder of Christians, like you pretend to be, by “the faithful” for absolutely nothing.
    So, Eppy, are you going to condemn them?
    Or are the fraternal bonds of fairy-tales stronger than your alleged civilised nature?
    To repeat: This is why we dislike your fantasies.
    Because they kill.
    Two hundred girls stolen to be raped, sold and murdered because “buke lurrninn is bad”. Boko Haram.
    An innocent lady murdered because her *father* had a fantasy life.
    Has the point sunk in, yet?
    Or have I not been heavy-handed enough with my subtle hints?
    Ephthatha, your religions are evil.

  31. Brother Daniel says:

    “The humans outwardly attributed benevolence, compassion, and mercy to God, not because they truly believed it, but because they were afraid of the consequences of not believing it. So another division came about: the division between what the humans believed and what they believed that they believed.”

    The Book of Hyperbole, 3:16-17

  32. Hobbes says:

    Hmmm, been there done that–too many bodies to count.

  33. ShallowEnder says:

    Ephthatha and cosmicstargoat, how about I – a thoroughly not-religious guy with no superstition whatsoever – have a go at the game? http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/962/fuck-creationism/ and the questions at the end. I’ll do the “Creationism is Truth” viewpoint and respond to the questions posed in order.
    It’s good debating practice to try to uphold the alien, contrary viewpoint every so often. It’s even fun. Sometimes.

    1: The gods don’t want Man to become as powerful as them. That is shown in every hubris story, like the Tower of Babel and even sort of in the Babble-book’s Genesis story; the one with the trees, the monkeys and the deity who couldn’t build a fence. Every time Man advances his tools and makes life harder for the demon soldiers sent by the gods to harass him, the gods obviously improve the demon soldiers. There is no such animal as “bacteria” but the “antibiotics” humans have developed to restrain the demons [which are in truth magical potions devised by evil alchemists but our governments hide that fact to protect the companies that make them] are a problem for the gods, so the gods build better and better demons. *That* is what is happening. An arms race between the demons and the satanic, anti-gods “scientists” who are nothing more than alchemists. It’s all very logical and super-scientific.

    2: SSA has no relationship to malaria. Obviously it’s just a fiction made up by the scientists to get more research money. [There is more cancer in the world than there was in 1900. There are more TV aerials. Cancers cause TV aerials. That is what the "scientists" are saying about malaria and SSA.] They are caused by two entirely different classes of demon sent as punishments for two entirely different crimes.
    The Peppered Moth was a statistical fluke. Some of them are always totally black. Just like some people have grey irises. When the Industrial Revolution covered the trees in soot the black ones were not eaten because they were nearly invisible. The “peppered” black-and-white ones stood out. They got eaten. So what? That’s not any crazy “evolution” guesswork, it’s just birds being lazy. It’s not evidence of anything.
    Snakes and whales have structures that look like vestigial hind legs for the same reason humans have vermiform appendices, because they are in The Design and they serve a Purpose. In humans, the purpose is to get infected with demons as a punishment, a test or an example. The “legs” are for some other worthy purpose. That should be obvious.
    Some beetles are beautiful. Have you never seen the glossy, greeny-blue shiny ones? Beetles have a multitude of tasks in the Great Plan, as do fruit flies. Having one beetle do them all would confuse the poor things. Having lots of different beetles is like having a set of screwdrivers. Have you ever seen that “Swiss Army knife” with a thousand tools? It’s five foot wide and weighs more than I do, which is a lot. A beetle built to do all the beetle jobs would have to look like that. (Okay, not so wide nor heavy as I said, but it is definitely never going to be described as a “pocket knife”, unless you’re a “Pacific Rim” Jaeger.)
    Muscles that flap ears are useful for making people laugh. Surely you are not one of those fun-killing fun-die atheists who hate people having joy in their lives? It’s not a great trick, but flapping your ears is amusing. Of course evil, satanic scientists would take the fun out of everything by reducing it to mere science, so they couldn’t understand the sheer joy of ears flapping.

    3: See the previous answer about beetles. As far as the Ark goes, the universal answer is: “it is bigger on the inside”. It was a holy vessel after all, do you really think it behaved like something humans made? And no species has ever become extinct. That’s just scientists trying to justify digs in exotic places to their grant committees. Those rocks that look like bones are exactly that, rocks that look like bones. Or do you think that engineering drawings *are* the machines and buildings depicted? Can you ride a drawing of a car to work? You fundamentalist atheists make such a fuss over practice finger-painting. You really should study the sacred writings and get a clue.

    4: all of those different “races” are just the gods’ ways of telling us how lucky we are to be blessed by the gift of variety. It’s like dancers and musicians, we should be amazed and awed at the endless talents and powers of our fellow creatures. [While, of course, obeying The Law about enslaving the inferior ones and killing the infidels for their own good.] We are supposed to love our neighbour as a man like ourselves even if he looks a little odd or different. It’s just another test of our faith. All of the seed of Noah were “black”, and “white” and “Inuit” and all the other types. These are divinities we are discussing, they can do anything. Haven’t you ever seen a family with one black child and one white child born as a twin? Imagine a triplet where one is black, one Inuit and one Mongolian. The gods can do these things. And they obviously did. The evidence is right there in front of you. You fanatical evolutionists are just so deluded that you are blinded to it and refuse to look at it.
    Poor evil, evolutionist atheists.

    Fuck, that leaves a sour taste in what would be my soul if I had one. So, how did I do? Dear Eppy, darling, and cosmicstargoat, was I convincing?
    Do I have a career as a preacher of crud, crap and bellicose fantasies?

  34. Ephphatha says:

    @ ShallowEnder, Just for the record, not to deny that theists are without sin by any stretch… http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100032569/far-worse-crimes-have-been-committed-in-the-name-of-atheism/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_atheism#Atheism_and_politics

    @ hotrats
    Frothing at the mouth does not a challenge worthy of response make.

  35. Ephphatha says:

    Previous post should say, “not to *suggest* that theists are without sin by any stretch.”

  36. @ShallowEnder, You can have a church, and a BIG one, especially in The South. Your explanations might be quite a bit too technical for these people http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/20501/abcs-redneck-culture/ but they will nod a lot in agreement, PRAISE JEBUS and put most of their measly income in the collection plate. You have no idea how convincing your rebuttal is in the mind of those who have huge problems with any facet of evolutionary theory, but have absolutely no problem believing a god made a man from dirt and a woman from the man’s rib. Thanks for reading and replying. Regards, Goat from Ruthless.

  37. ShallowEnder says:

    Ephphatha, honey, thank you for reading and replying, even though I am very rude to you and your delusions.

    Dear darling Eppy, “crimes have been committed in the name of …”. THAT is your defence? That Stalin and Saloth Sar and all their like were evil shite so your gods are only mildly bad?
    So witch doctors telling clients with AIDS to rape four-year-olds are not nearly as bad as those promoting the rape of infants?
    So killing the pregnant lady because her daddy had a delusion is okay after the birth because murdering her before it is more evil?
    Is that really the defence you want? That your fairy-tale boss isn’t quite so evil as other bosses?
    “Hey, worship my merciful deity because this one doesn’t kill pregnant ladies until they stop lactating. He just jails them for two years then kills them.”
    You really think that makes your fairy better?
    “My big daddy is such a good big daddy because it doesn’t order its people to kidnap, rape, murder and sell little girls in huge bunches, he just blesses the other faithful who do.”
    I have never said those without faith are guiltless and clean and pure and not nasty at all.[ Though some of us are] Even an idiot sycophant knows Uncle Joe wasn’t a very nice man. But he would have been a not nice man whether he was under the care and protection of a boss deity or not.
    It is entirely irrelevant that humans have killed in the name of nationalism, racial purity, voodoo politics or anything else. Rwanda wasn’t any nicer or gentler because both teams were under the dubious protection of the same gods. They have *also* killed, raped, looted and destroyed in the name of your gods.
    That makes your gods no better than excuses for bloodlust.
    Remove them all and we have one fewer reason to kill.
    One fewer reason to rape babies.
    One fewer reason to murder people because a relative was criminally insane.
    Remove nationalism, economic unfairness, educational unfairness and a few other things and we’d have many fewer reasons to kill.
    Kidnapping 200 girls, forcing them at gunpoint to wear bin-bags and to profess faith in nonsense while threatening them with mass, serial rape and murder is evil, even if worse evil has been done elsewhere.
    Murdering a lady because her daddy was deluded is evil. Even if other evils are committed at other places and times.
    And only a sick, evil, nasty mind would refuse to see this.
    Eppy, dearest, your religion is a mental illness. An evil mental illness that causes massive harm.
    And by not condemning those scunners you imply that you support them in their fanatical savagery. Is that really the message you wish to send? That your gods are not so bad as others but that you earnestly support those others simply because they are religions?

    cosmicsatrgoat, in your review http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/20429/abcs-evangelical-christians-2/ you mention that Paul’s “sin” might have been that he was a closet poof. That’s unlikely. Being a poof was accepted, normal, ordinary and even applauded in those days and places. In many ways it was the kind of society our citizens would love to have now, far more open and free and tolerant. very few tribes rejected same-sex sex. It’s condemned in the Babble a couple of times but only in obscure books, among all the other demented laws and rules and only in passing. The carpenter fellow, for example, never mentions it. It’s never treated as being important. Because it wasn’t. If anything, homosexual encounters were treated as no more than bad taste and only by exceptionally weird cults. Everyone else treated it as just more sex. A very enlightened attitude our “gay pride” people have been trying to promote since the 1960’s or earlier. Paul wouldn’t have been ashamed of being homosexual, he might have squirmed a bit at eating bacon and oyster sandwiches, though. Or wearing nylon with wool. [For the sake of people like poor, benighted Eppy, that was humour. I know when nylon was invented.] [3951 B.C. by Ra in Ur.]
    The Romans even tolerated other people’s gods’ temples in their capital city, that speaks of an extremely open society. Paul would no more fret over his sexuality than he would have over a disliking for grapes.
    My theory is that he was a druggy who liked bacon sannies too much. That and he had tertiary syphilis. I doubt the dear Eppy lady would agree.
    I have a tendency towards thinking that the writers of the last sub-book of the Babble were also hopped-up syphilitics with worms eating their fore-brains but that’s only a conjecture. I don’t have the evidence for it to rise to being even a hypothesis.
    I doubt it would make any difference if we did.

  38. ShallowEnder says:

    cosmicstargoat, thank you. I know I’m a little long-winded, and possibly even rude in places, but that is the first time I have really got into character and *tried* to be the voice of unreason. Normally, I attack the Armies of Darkness. It was – shall we say “different” ? – to be their advocate. I think i could do a far better job were I not distracted by aching shoulders, tired eyes, hunger, a need for tea and the thought of a bacon sannie.
    Truly, bacon sannies are the food of the gods.
    I am reading your blogs (do they still get called that?) slowly and with great attention. You should be required reading in every seminary and Religious Education class. The priests would hate you.
    No higher praise is possible.
    Thank you for them.

    And, Eppy, nothing personal, darling lady. Just tell us you’re in with the Angels of Light and you condemn those bastards.

  39. Ephphatha says:

    ShallowEnder, honey, hate to interrupt your conversation with yourself, especially seeing how much you love the sound of your own words, but if the only way you can make a case against me, personally, is to put large volumes of words into my mouth, then I’ve gotta wonder why you address me at all since you’re so sure that you already know me better than I know myself.

  40. Ephphatha says:

    p.s., Of course I condemn acts of evil no matter who commits them.

  41. ShallowEnder says:

    Darling Ephphatha, did you really say in your posting on May 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm:

    “ShallowEnder, Just for the record, not to deny that theists are without sin by any stretch…” … ?

    You do not deny that believers are without sin?
    You condone those shites?
    The witch doctors advising clients to rape infants, the witch doctors cutting bits of albino humans and eating them, the priests and believers kidnapping girls for rape and forced marriages and those faithful who would murder a pregnant lady because her father had no faith in your pet deity? The priests and their helpers who maim the genitals of baby girls to prevent them from enjoying noookie? Do you really see them as without sin just because they have a religion? Is there any horror or atrocity a theist can commit and have you accept it as being wrong?
    Or was that yet another case of not thinking it through?
    I’d prefer to think the better of you, dear lady, and assume you meant that you did not deny that theists are with sin.
    And after all isn’t that the very message your pet daddy sent down all them years ago? That you are all sinners?
    Me, I *am* without “sin”. Totally and utterly. I am one of the famed “Other People” to whom your gods’ restrictions do not apply. I cannot ever sin.
    Which doesn’t automatically make me a good guy. Though I do try.

  42. @ShallowEnder, we at Ruthless are actually a tenured movie review site for the most part, but we do often offer up outright righteous hate for some pop culture and political naughtiness. We try to offer contrarian viewpoints, our Christmas movies are a good example, here I take Scrooge’s side, of course: http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/1023/a-christmas-carol/ This is just an example of what we do. Some reviews are quite touching and serious, like Midnight Cowboy, http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/22307/midnight-cowboy/, but others are merely rants showing our disdain for bad movies or shitty behavior in our society, a target-rich environment, for sure. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it. EDIT: My entire body of work is listed here http://www.ruthlessreviews.com/author/goat/

  43. ShallowEnder says:

    cosmicstargoat, it’s early, or late and I’m so very, very tired but I just have to share one of the best bits of The Book with everyone, especially darling Eppy.
    Remember, this is the word of a benevolent, caring, merciful, loving daddy who wants us all to be ever so happy and nice:

    “”Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.” (Hosea 13:16)”

    There, isn’t that ever so nice?
    I’ll get around to reading the rest of your rantings, postings, bloggings and whatnots but now I need tea.
    Have a truly delicious day, everyone.

  44. ShallowEnder says:

    Oh, dear, I really should know better than to respond, but:
    Ephphatha, on May 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm was seem to type:

    p.s., Of course I condemn acts of evil no matter who commits them.

    Okay, but do you agree that the things I so rudely mentioned *are* “acts of evil’ or are they good acts because a believer or two says their big boss daddy lawgiver made them do it and they were only following orders?
    can any act committed in the name and by the laws of your gods be evil? And can the believers?
    Darling Eppy lady, do you think I should be allowed to rape any hot virgin girl I fancy, pay her daddy fifty sheckels (or fifty UK quid as I don’t have any sheckels at hand) and then marry the bint? Do you fully accept that the penalty for being a virgin victim of rape is for your pimp to get a wad and for you, the victim to be forcibly wived to the rapist? That’s what your god said in it book, in Deu 22:28.
    In short, is your book inerrant or is it a chamber of horrors written to perpetuate the aims of a tiny cult in a minor tribe two millennia ago and used as an excuse for atrocities ever since?
    Are you, in spite of your religion, a good enough person to condemn those folks and the religious excuses they use?

  45. Ephphatha says:

    ShallowEnder, surely you know that the bible is a record of how revelation from God has come in stages. So, just as it seems that I cannot reasonably expect you to pose an intelligent question without loading it down so heavily with your jaded predisposition to the whole subject matter, so too was it unreasonable for God to expect our ancient ancestors to receive and process revelation as quickly as your question nevertheless suggests they should have received and understood it. The following link leads to an excerpt from the New Testament in which the Pharisees attempt to test Jesus in roughly the same way you are now trying to test me: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A1-8&version=NIV

  46. JohnM says:

    @AoS advice to DH

    The use of escape characters makes explaining HTML a whole lot simpler when HTML is active. Thus one is able to embed e.g. <strike> and </strike> without having the in-between bit, in this case “and”, struck out.

  47. JohnM says:

    Ephphatha wrote:”ShallowEnder, surely you know that the bible is a record of how revelation from God has come in stages.”

    Of course he doesn’t know that, anymore than you, and millions of other deluded fuckwits, know the truth or falsity of such bollocks.

    In the book “Da Vinci code”, the author Dan Brown assures the reader that certain elements of the plot are reality based. So it must be true because the writer says it’s true, eh? Just as the Bible must be true because it says so right there in the Bible. Such breathtaking disregard of basic logic leaves me… well… breathless.

  48. hotrats says:

    Effy:

    So, just as it seems that I cannot reasonably expect you to pose an intelligent question without loading it down so heavily with your jaded predisposition to the whole subject matter…

    Just for once, answer the fucking question, you pompous, drivelling cretin.

  49. NSPike says:

    I, for one, like it when people of faith find they can enjoy the J&M cartoons, and try to welcome them to the Cock and Bull for some reasoned and interesting debate. If it just turns into an attack (which sometimes can’t be helped as the faithless far outnumber the faithful here) then I’ve got to say the thread becomes a little cringe worthy and embarrassing to me.

    Ephphatha, I agree that words and conclusions are being put into your mouth. I also agree that a lot of the time pro-religious arguments often end up saying the same things and atheists end up having to refute the same points repeatedly, but I would personally give you the chance to reach those points before refuting, if I could.

    ShallowEnder – I’ll be totally honest and say the phrase “tl;dr” sprang to mind as soon as I saw the posts. I’d like to say I persevered and read on anyway, but that isn’t true… sorry, but tl;dr :-D

  50. Chiefy says:

    Ephphatha said: “… surely you know that the bible is a record of how revelation from God has come in stages.”
    That’s a poor argument, unless you think God evolved along with humans. Assuming that is not your position, then one has to ask what God was doing in all that time before beginning his revelation. How could he let humanity get so far off the right path for so long? Why wait for the arrival of Abraham to begin guiding his chosen people? Wasn’t Adam his chosen, and Noah? Seems like God has exceptionally bad parenting skills.

    Or, perhaps God did evolve as humanity developed, and the Bible is simply a primitive people’s attempt to understand the world. That is a concept of God that I can relate to, and it would explain much about the nature of the Bible. Where do you stand on that, Ephy?

  51. ShallowEnder says:

    Eppy, darling, okay, less venom, less antagonism, just a simple question.
    An entity that creates sentient, thinking toys to play with, that creates darkness, light, gravity, the two nuclear forces, ants, beetles, giraffes and cancers by the hundred, an entity that creates stars, thunder, rainbows (eventually), winged robots to act as messengers (even if a few of them were poorly programmed and turned out to be broken) wants his toys to play nicely with each other. So the entity creates rules. The question comes in two parts: firstly, how come this super-being can make geodes and rocks that look very much like fossilised creatures and can build a liking for sugar into its toys but it can’t build into its toys a liking for being nice?
    Don’t bleat about free will. I have free will but I don’t cheat, rob, lie (much), kill humans, hurt people (if I can avoid it), rape (ever) or incite a mob to burn down your house. I have a liking for doing good. For helping people. So how come the thing that can program dogs to like chasing cats can’t program its toy, pet humans to prefer to be nice?
    Secondly, even if it was too stupid, inept and shoddy of a builder to be able to build in a liking for obeying the rules [or too deeply dim to think of it], why did not the thing that built the Alps, Andes, Himalayas, Grand Canyon and other large structures build a moat and a fence around its precious tree?
    That would have prevented “the fall”, the pains of childbirth, the original sin and all the other bad stuff that ensued. Just one moat fifty miles wide, eight miles deep and filled with lava, erupted magma, and a fence of steel and rock and glass and electricity twenty miles high, sharpened to razor keenness at the peak, smoothed to the atomic level and completely surrounding the tree.
    And a guard of fifty million “angels” just as a backup, because humans are determined little buggers. Seraphim with seven flaming swords and seven horns each.
    Your entire religion is built on the premise that your deity is too stupid to think of a fence, when even dogs and cows recognise the concept. And it’s too stupid to make its humans have free will and prefer peace to violence. Your deity built its humans to prefer violence. Why?
    Because it’s a sick, pathetic, sadistic, psychotic nut-job that is more evil than anything else in this universe?
    Or perhaps human blood-lust is an effect of evolution? A result of people evolving from predator apes? A residue of hunting and killing? That would let your daddy off the hook for creating it, but it would imply *Evolution*.
    Too stupid to build a fence? Or not there in the first place?
    Too inept to build a good human or just a fairy tale?
    Y’know, I’ve never gotten a good answer to that from any priest.

  52. ShallowEnder says:

    Eppy, it’s like this: you give the puppets, toys, robots the ability to select random or non-random options from a list and the ability to imagine adding more options when they think of them, but you build in a bias for the results you prefer. You repeat the “good” options fifty million times in the look-up table, while having only one instance of each “bad” choice. Or you weight the good choices with an attached variable or you do any of a hundred other tricks.
    Humans have been programming impure silicon to make the right choices for fifty years.
    Christianity, and many other religions, would suggest that we’re far better builders than the gods.
    Reality also suggests this.
    Isn’t it nice when the two agree?

  53. Sceptic Sarah says:

    The bit that always got me was that the importance of eating the apple was that if they did, they should have knowledge of good and evil (genesis, ch3 v5). Which kinda presupposes that they did not yet understand the difference, and therefore could not be expected to know that doing what you are told is good, and not doing what you are told is bad. Which kinda makes god’s major hissy fit unfair in the extreme.

  54. Mary2 says:

    I’m with NSPike. I welcome the contrary position and conversation with those who hold opposing views but, I must say, Effaffatha is making it difficult by not actually ever answering even the gently-worded questions or explaining his/her reasoning.

    I think the idea of a god staging revelation to humans so they could keep up doesn’t hold water. If that was the case one would expect the second half of the bible to be full of god’s injunctions against slavery and rape and those things he doesn’t condemn in the Old Testament. But he goes further than not condemning evil things, he actually commands and commends humans to keep slaves and commit rape and murder. This makes no sense if it is his plan to later reveal a more sophisticated moral code.

    And why would a god find it necessary to stage his revelations? Were the humans of 2000 years ago not as clever as the humans of today? – I think the participants on reality TV shows are proof that previous generations couldn’t have been less intelligent. If you believe that culture needed to evolve until it was sophisticated enough to understand the full-strength proclamations, I believe any student of history could show you that human culture and morality does not evolve in a pattern from ‘darkness’ to ‘light’ – there are several countries in the Middle East which less than 50 years ago were liberal and enlightened but are now bastions of fundamentalist dark ages values.

    It makes more sense to think that the bible was written to progressively reveal its message to the reader so as not to overwhelm them by being entirely like Leviticus – pronouncement after pronouncement – no one could keep that all in their head without a few of the biographies thrown in to improve narrative flow. The problem with this idea is that we know, for a fact, that the bible wasn’t written in one fell swoop but was written piecemeal over hundreds of years, so that doesn’t work either.

    What say you Effaffatha? What’s your reasoning for the staging of revelation?

  55. ShallowEnder says:

    Sceptic Sarah, “the knowing of good and evil” is a very old, now very obsolete way of saying “all knowledge”, or omniscience. To the writers of the Babble [thanks for that one, folks] there were only two kinds of knowledge, knowledge of good and knowledge of evil, put the two together and you know everything, obviously.
    What the petty godlings didn’t want was their pet puppet people learning how to use the technologies that could build universes.
    See “The Gates of Creation” by Philip Jose Farmer for a very entertaining fictional take on the idea of puppets kept dumb and weak by “Lords”. It’s the first novel in a very complex series.

    Mary2, perhaps the puppet-master had to reveal its truths slowly and piecemeal because that was the commandments of the other universe-makers? The Genesis sub-book admits to there being many of them. “Lest they become like us.” It’s talking to a bunch of “Lords”, universe-makers, puppet-masters and it’s extremely worried about the potential powers of its puppets.
    That isn’t the picture of a very confident deity, but of one suffering from extreme insecurities and suffering from performance anxieties.
    Maybe the reason for its endless rules about washing with only the left hand and building stuff to precise specifications are symptoms of a weak, wankerish wassock that is inadequate in its own society so it has to make pretend people to boss around and torture. Rather like the outsider child who wounds his dollies because he’s too weak to wound the other, more popular children.
    As a psychological assessment, it’s fairly amateurish, facile, simplistic and childish but maybe Jar-of-Wee is simply the strange child no one likes?
    How about it, Xtians, think your big daddy could be compensating for being a bed-wetter?

  56. Ephphatha says:

    Most appreciated. Thank you very much, NSPike.

  57. Ephphatha says:

    Chiefy, since you prefer that I do not quote scripture, I will suggest that the answer to your question may be found in the answer to the question of why it is healthy to catch a cold http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/05/opinion/05ackerman.html?_r=2&src=me&ref=homepage&amp , why it is better to allow bread dough to rise twice http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/9014/why-let-dough-rise-twice , or why God allowed the Holocaust to happen http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/how-could-god-have-allowe_b_1207672.html

  58. Ephphatha says:

    ShallowEnder, the first part of your two-part question confuses me. Are you saying that you do not prefer to be nice and asking me why God made you that way, or are you are wondering why not everyone prefers to be as ‘nice’ as you?

    Second part, which ScepticSara’s question seems to overlap with, you both make what I think is the most common error that all people (including myself) make when reading the bible. That is, the fatal error of missing the teaching point of biblical stories by getting hung up on details, irrelevant to the teaching point, which do not seem to make sense or that seem to be erroneous, contradict science or other things the bible says. Using your question about why God did not put a fence around the forbidden fruit tree as an example, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, knowing they would disobey, not to discover anything for himself but to show us what we are like when left to our own devices. To help us understand our own sinful nature.

    ShallowEnder, despite your solemn vow to rise above yourself, your latest questions are no less filled with “venom” and “antagonism” than your previous questions. Please do not make any more promises that you can’t keep. Meanwhile, I will continue to try to answer your questions as long as I can find any that appear to be worthy of an answer among the noxious weeds of your prickly garden of venom and antagonism.

    I will respond to Mary2 next, either later today or tomorrow.

  59. Ephphatha says:

    Mary2, considering the time I have spent answering your previous questions and explaining my reasoning for those answers, naturally I am very disappointed to hear you now claim that I have never answered any of your questions or bothered to explain my reasoning. What gives?

    And if I really failed so miserably with your first set of questions, why bother asking me a second set of questions? Makes no sense.

    You were also invited by me to follow up with any supplementary questions you may have had to my previous answers if you were not satisfied with those answers, which you did not do. Apparently, it was easier just to retreat into the shadows and resurface later with a new set of questions, a sin which would have been easy to forgive for the sake of expediency if only you had not falsely claimed that I ducked your previous questions.

    Anyway, the complete lack of any examples or references offered by you to back up your new claims about what the bible says doesn’t help at all. Where does the New Testament condone rape and murder? Jesus washed the feet of his disciples partly to illustrate the virtue of submitting to slavery. I am a slave to your dumb questions right now;)

    Even though you didn’t ask me for it, here is another example of where Jesus contrasts what he came to say with what the Old Testament had said: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A27-48&version=NIV

    And here is the answer to the only (two-part) question you actually ask me in your last post:

    Third paragraph you ask, “why would a god find it necessary to stage his revelations? Were the humans of 2000 years ago not as clever as the humans of today?”

    Obviously, I cannot answer the second part of your question any better than you can. Seems like average intelligence levels have gone up and down over time, just like years of life expectancy. As for the first part of the question, it appears not only that the earliest primitive civilizations would have had little or no use for Jesus’ message but also that revelation had to be revealed in the context of or through lived experience, which apparently took many generations of life to spell out. Truth is I don’t find your latest question(s) to be very interesting, relevant or penetrating. Surely you can do better next time.

  60. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ephphatha says:
    May 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm
    ……. Using your question about why God did not put a fence around the forbidden fruit tree as an example, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, knowing they would disobey, not to discover anything for himself but to show us what we are like when left to our own devices. To help us understand our own sinful nature….

    So this god of yours is either incapable of making intelligent beings able to behave themselves, or it deliberately made them disobedient for the sheer pleasure of punishing them for transgressions that it built into them.
    Incompetent or psychotic?
    As to your ‘why it’s better to catch a cold’ analogy, I have to wonder what kind of sick puppy it takes to not only accept suffering as something good, but to want to worship the monster that you believe causes such suffering.

  61. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, You are disappointed that I claim you don’t engage in actual discussion and then spend three paragraphs engaging in passive aggressive hurt feelings instead of furthering any actual discussion.

    Where do I say that the New Testament condones rape and murder? I say that god orders rape and murder in the OT, which is nonsensical if that was against the morality he believes is good, and I said that the New Testament says absolutely nothing to contradict this earlier exhortation to violence.

    Matthew 5:17 Jesus says “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Hence, he does not oppose anything in the Old Testament – including god ordered rape and murder.

    The NT is slightly different than the OT because it is not god ordering humans to kill others but Jesus gloating about all the people who will die and how viciously it will happen. Just a couple of examples are:

    Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
    10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    Mark 7:10 Jesus reinforces Moses’ law that people should kill children who do not ‘honour thy father and mother’

    Luke: The whole of Luke is about Jesus telling people about the horrible hell that awaits them and the violence that god will commit on people who don’t do as he orders. No, it is not quite the same as the OT where god orders humans to commit murder on his behalf, but it hardly counts as being against the violent taking of human life.

    Romans 1. More people Jesus thinks are worthy of death.
    1:31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
    1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death

    Hebrews 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
    10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God. More people that god is going to kill without mercy

    And that’s not even including Revelations, in which god orders ‘Death’ to kill a quarter of the entire population: 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

    Or where god gets people to kill each other 6:4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

    And please enlighten us by explaining where the virtue is in submitting to slavery. I am dying to know how you justify that!

    And on what basis do you suggest that “revelation had to be revealed in the context of or through lived experience, which apparently took many generations of life to spell out”? Where’s your evidence for this claim? I’m assuming from this sentence that you believe in a literal Adam and Eve because, otherwise, the antecedents of humans had lived for hundreds of thousands of years before the stories described in the bible could have happened so I don’t understand how you get this need for generations before god can explain that it is wrong to rape children (which he doesn’t ever say, by the way).

  62. ShallowEnder says:

    Regarding Ephphatha on May 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm :

    It is irrelevant whether I am nice or not as I’m one of the “Other People”, the ones your Genesis family married into after they split up. Your fairy tale and gods don’t have anything to do with us, though you do try to impose your laws and regulation on us.
    My question was fairly simple: you profess belief in a super-being that can make dogs that like rolling in smelly stuff and elephants that like eating over-ripe fruit to get drunk but that is too inept to make a human with both free will and a preference for being nice to each other. Do you not see the sheer idiocy of this?
    As a “morality” tale told by the elders to children it is on a par with Santa Claus and “be nice or no pressies”, would you agree?
    Yet your people want it to be presented in schools as “the Truth” and given more weight than evidence-based Science.
    Would you agree that all of this is wrong?
    Or do you think a deity too inept to design his people well is really worthy of respect?

    Eppy, darling, how about this one for a thought-provoker? http://www.thinkatheist.com/photo/satan-more-powerful-than-god?
    Your all-powerful deity made a bunch of flying robots, some of them “rebelled” against their programming and somehow one of them is far more powerful than your godling. That sounds more like the premise to a 1930’s robot rebellion SF movie than a cult.

    My point about the fence was this: irrespective of how obedient the puppet people were made to be, the builder of the tree and the gardens must have known there was a chance they would eventually try the fruit he forbade them. After all they were then immortal, the gardens were quite limited in extent and there was no TV. So, just as a precaution, why didn’t he build a fence in addition to telling them not to?. I would have. As a warning not to disobey the bosses that morality tale falls a little flat when thought about, don’t you think? I’m surprised it was included in the books.

    You profess to follow a deity too inept to make his pets have a preference for niceness, or, as AoS suggests a psychopath who built them to disobey just so he could do the death-and-resurrection dance, and who is too inept to take a simple precaution that every farmer has taken for ten millennia.

    And that is just the start. The collection of infamies you profess to hold holy is just full of stuff even more absurd.
    Not to feel too bad, Eppy, darling, all the other sacred books are just as bad.

    Eppy, dear lady, if you feel I’m venomous and vicious, I apologise.
    I love the sinner and hate the sin. [Youcan sin as you are a believer.] I dislike the push for religion to conquer the worlds but I’ve nothing much against the religious themselves. I just wish you would take your boss’s commandments to heart and pray in secret in a cupboard.
    And stop bothering the rest of us.
    Not you as a person, just the general, inchoate “you” mass.

  63. ShallowEnder says:

    Last point, Ephphatha, while catching a particular variety of “cold” may make you immune to that one mutation of the bug for the rest of your existence [it may not as immunities can often be dropped by the organism if not used, which is one reason for boosters] it does nothing for the next lot of bugs that come your way.
    This is a particularly poor example you chose. Indeed, it is a perfect example of evolution in action and the arms race between a multicellular organism with a mutable defence mechanism and an attacking single-celled bug with a mutating attack mechanism. It shows that every cold you get is a new species, or at least a new variety of the species, an evolved sub-species.
    The same is true of influenza, SARS MERS and all the other viruses that afflict us.
    Indeed, cases of rape and other crimes have been solved by the very fact that HIV and other bugs evolve and that their family strains can be tracked through their changing DNA.
    Court cases have been settled by these facts.
    In your cited page at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/05/opinion/05ackerman.html?_r=3&src=me&ref=homepage&amp&amp; there are any number of errors, misconceptions, simplifications and downright idiocies. While it is true that some humans do not react too badly when infected this may have absolutely nothing to do with them, per se, but only with the viral loading. If you get sufficient numbers of bugs the immune response will create antibodies but if the viral load is also insufficient there may be no visible symptoms. This is true even of Ebola. It is entirely possible to be infected with the most dangerous of pathogens and to have no visible reaction simply because you didn’t get enough of them to matter. This is only one of many, many aspects of our immune system and its interactions with the outside world that can’t be covered in a short op-ed piece from a layman.
    Finally, while catching colds may be beneficial in that you are made immune to that particular strain of cold virus, it does absolutely nothing for your immunity to Ebola, HIV, Valley Fever, rabies or several thousand other illnesses.
    It is a stupid point to bring up. Sorry, but it is.
    It is also quite irrelevant. Your deity could have given the very first evolved human, or manufactured pet puppet person a finely-etched platinum-iridium tablet coated in transparent diamond bearing all of its rules, regulations, revelations and restrictions. It could have then magically appeared one with every single birthed human from then on. Sort of like grails in the “Riverworld” series. The language of the etchings would, of course be that of the person itself. Why not? It’s capable of anything.
    No need for “repeated jolts of infection”.
    Your analogy is idiotic and Chiefy’s question stands.
    The common response has always been : “the gods move in mysterious ways”, or “it is not ours to question the ways of the gods” but that’s just a cop-out; a way of saying “I can’t think of a rational explanation so we’ll just put it down to gods being tricksy bastards and we’ll carve up any smart-arse who still questions it.” Because the people who heckle and question the priesthood are often far smarter than those priests, I know I always was, the priests often run out of sensible answer and resort to hand-waving and threats of dismemberment to keep the cheap seats quiet.
    Your analogy with viral loading and immune responses is daft. But it is a lot better than any priest I’ve met ever managed.
    At least you do think about these things. It’s a good start, Eppy, dearest.
    Maybe one-day we’ll make a sceptic out of you.

  64. Chiefy says:

    Ephy, it doesn’t bother me that you quote the Bible or anything else. I would prefer you use those quotes to bolster your claims, and not in lieu of composing your own arguments. Rabbi Lurie’s answer to the Holocaust was well written, but it’s an old argument. It only addresses part of the problem. What about all the suffering that is not related to free will?

    ShallowEnder, thanks for that bit about “knowing good and evil” as a reference to becoming all-knowing. I hadn’t thought of it that way, and it makes sense.

  65. Macha says:

    @Ephphatha

    I always follow the discussions on here, but comment rarely.

    However, I decided to follow the links posted by you on May 17, 2014 at 8:07 pm, expecting some great revelations. Unfortunately, I was left mouthing a comment oft used by my late Grandma following some nonsense spouted by one or more of her numerous grandsprogs – “What has all this got to do with the price of cheese?”.

    So, as for the actual links, the first was a report on something pretty straightforward about the effect of cold viruses on human tissue. Why is that relevant to the existence or otherwise of God? Or is it some particularly clever piece of “Sophisticated Theology”?

    The second link was about why we let bread dough rise a second time (the clue is in the name of this process, i.e. “proving”).

    As for the good Rabbi’s piece, well, where do I start? He came across as an erudite and intelligent person, so why he was happy to burble on (at length) using unsupportable axioms, shaky lemmas and dodgy conclusions must forever remain a mystery. For example “How can something come from nothing?” (happens all the time), “see the obvious design in creation” (Sheesh!). The list goes on ….

    So, seriously Dude – if you’re going to tempt us up the garden path, please at least present us with a silliness warning at the outset.

    @NSPike

    Please don’t refer to me as “faithless” because I find it rather rude, implying as it does a lack of something worthwhile (as in, for example, “armless”). Otherwise, I may be pushed to refer to you as “deluded”, “irrational”, or even “bonkers”.

    Thank you.

  66. Undeluded says:

    @Ephphatha

    I was quite satisfied to lurk in the background and follow the exchange of views (I really cannot call this a “debate”) between you and some of the locals. So now, I’m taking a deep breath, and plunging in with what (I hope) is a different tack.

    Here is what I assume: The reason you joined this site was to try to shed a different light on atheist views (I am being very gentle in my choice of words). Perhaps even gain a convert or two – or at least an “atheism doubter.” I also assume you are not here to bash or debunk atheism – this would be a very poor place to attempt that.

    In (what I consider to be) the true style of an atheist, I am opening myself to receive your message. I am prepared for you to present me with arguments, evidence, anything – to show me why your approach is more “truthful” or “factual” than mine (and that is what you think, isn’t it?).

    Let me restate what has been offered by previous posters – quotes from religious texts (as proof for promoting truth) will be rejected by me offhand! However, if you use logic and reason, and especially if you use science (but you don’t have to), you will find in me an avid listener.

    So, with your permission, I shall start off by asking my questions first. I shall phrase them so that the answers do not need detailed elaboration – maybe we’ll come to that later. I would just like you to share with me a few basic concepts.

    1. How do you define “truth?”
    2. How do you define “reality?”
    3. How do you define “evidence?”
    4. How do you define “delusion?”
    5. How do you define “faith?”
    6. Are religions other than yours wrong? (This is a yes/no question, but your response may require a couple of sentences of explanation).

    I believe, dear Eph (pardon the contraction), that by clearly stating your views on the above questions, we’ll be off to a good start. These are certainly not the only questions I have for you, but the rest can wait for later. Furthermore, you might want to ask me some questions, too. By all means, go ahead!

  67. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I think there is some misunderstanding of Ephy’s cold analogy here. It has nothing to do with the immune system and everything to do with the inability of the ancients to cure the sick and the willingness of the priests to prey on the ill and disadvantaged. A little suffering here on Earth was thought – and still is in some quarters – to be a good thing, if not a neccessity, if it brought the sufferer to whatever god prevailed at the time. It was, and still is, a sop to feed to those in desperate times, and instead of actually doing anything useful to help them. they decided on the story that the more one suffers in ‘this’ life, the more one can appreciate Paradise in the next.
    So, suffering a mild cold is a good thing if it prevents a harsher attack later (which it doesn’t, as Shallow Ender pointed out above); suffering hardship, poverty and pain is a good thing if leads the sufferer to Paradise.
    What a shit analogy.

    Now, just a quick backtrack to that old canard about Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc. The one thing the believers such as Ephy seem unable to grasp is that the dictators were so obviously inspired by the god-tales and so set themselves up as gods, using the very same methods as OT God. Worship the Great Leader and none other; do not criticise the G.L. upon pain of death; kill or enslave those who do not follow the G.L; the word of the G.L. is the absolute truth, etc, etc.
    These men were not atheists, they were more akin to tribute acts.

  68. Macha says:

    @AoS

    But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? Analogies, metaphors, fables and so on can only be used to clarify and/or explain an already proven or generally accepted idea. They cannot be used to actually prove anything.

    So, Ephphatha’s “common cold” analogy could only be offered as a clarification or exemplification of the notion of suffering (or something) – which could just as easily have been done with simpler, non-obfuscatory language, without trying to dress it up with disingenuous references to sciencey articles.

    In fact, it proved nothing. It was pretty poor on the clarification front as well.

    PS: I like the “tribute acts” – I might nick it :)

  69. IanB says:

    Acolyte of Sagan says:

    “Now, just a quick backtrack to that old canard about Hitler, Mao, Stalin, etc.”

    Not sure about Mao but in regards to Hitler in 1933 he said “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter” in the late 1930s he forbade his chief associates from leaving the church and in 1941 or 2 said “I was born a catholic, I am now a catholic and will always remain so”

    Stalin originally was to be a catholic priest and after seizing power he reopened the orthodox church hardly a good atheist™

  70. Ephphatha says:

    To answer your most recent first question, M2, it was in your second last post that you claimed the New Testament condones rape and murder. Here is the quote:

    “…one would expect the second half of the bible to be full of god’s injunctions against slavery and rape and those things he doesn’t condemn in the Old Testament. But he goes further than not condemning evil things, he actually commands and commends humans to keep slaves and commit rape and murder.”

    In response to the verses of scripture you quoted in your last post, which were offered as evidence to support your own previous claims, not to pose new questions:

    Matthew 5:17: “the law” refers to the Ten Commandments, which Jesus did “not come to destroy but to fulfill”. Already referenced in my last two posts are verses where Jesus specifically changes Old Testament teachings (as opposed to Ten Commandments), concerning such things as love for one’s enemies, eye for an eye, divorce, etc.

    In Matthew 10:34-35, the word “sword” is obviously used as a figure of speech. Surely, you don’t think these verses were meant to teach that Jesus came to start real sword fights between members of the same family. I will concede here, however, that it is difficult to understand these verses even when Jesus is interpreted to be speaking about a figurative sword.

    Mark 7:10, Jesus was using this particular teaching of Moses to point out the Pharisees own inconsistent application of Moses’ teachings, not to reaffirm that teaching.

    Romans 1:31-32, Again, New Testament verses that just mention an Old Testament teaching, not to reaffirm the same teaching.

    Hebrews 10:28-29: Which version of the bible are you quoting from? I cannot find those same words even in King James: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+10%3A28-29&version=KJV

    I don’t mind how much homework everyone is piling on me, but that is all the time I have for now. I should be able to finish responding to you, M2, and perhaps everyone else sometime within the next couple of days.

    Thanks to everyone for their responses.

  71. Chiefy says:

    I have to call BS on that, Ephphatha. The Law refers to the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy, not merely the Ten Commandments. Jesus, as portrayed in the NT, reinterpreted the OT, but he never chucked it out and replaced it. He left that job for future cult members. Jesus didn’t show any preferential interest in the Decalogue over the rest of the Law.

    I have to say that, though I am familiar with the contents of the Holy Book, hassling over its details make me feel like a nerd debating Star Wars trivia.

  72. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Chiefy, it never fails to amuse me to see believers hassling over the details. One would think that a deity that wanted its message understood by all wouldn’t make it so ambiguous that just one branch of its followers can be split into hundreds of denominations, each with its own slightly different interpretation.

    Ephy, as you seem to be the expert on what parts of the Bible are literal and which are analogy, could you tell me if the weapons that the meek and mild, non-violent Jesus and his angels come bearing in Revelations are meant as real or just analogous? Just wondering.

    IanB, something else the believers ignore is that their favourite evil atheists Hitler and Stalin both had anti-Jewish pogroms, and they ignore it because to accept it would be to admit that far from being atheists, Hitler and Stalin were just a pair of good Catholics getting revenge on the killers of Christ.

  73. Mary2 says:

    Ephphatha, Many thanks for your response. I second Undeluded’s words – I am very happy to learn and to be proven wrong if a belief I hold is erroneous.

    I have re-read your quote of mine but, to me, it still says – you would expect the New Testament to contradict the old as god added extra revelation which, presumably, would include morality like not to rape and murder, but the bible (i.e. the OT explicitly and the NT implicitly by not contradicting it) states quite clearly that god not only condones but orders murder and rape. If that is not how this quote is interpreted by other people, apologies for the lack of clarity in my expression.

    If, as you suggest, Matthew is incorrectly quoting Jesus as saying he has not come to change the law (the OT itself makes quite clear, several times, that at least the whole of Leviticus, not just the Ten Commandments, is the law of god “for all time”) why does he change the law regarding loving one’s enemies and divorce but still supports slavery and makes no mention of thou shalt not rape?

    I don’t care if the word ‘sword’ is used by Jesus literally or figuratively, it is still a passage in which Jesus describes how he has come to split up families and cause people to leave their parents etc. There are plenty of other passages (which I quoted) which cannot be read in any other way than Jesus glorying in the detail of all the people who will die and be tortured in the afterlife.

    Hebrews 10:28-29 New International Version (NIV)
    28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

    Hebrews 10:28-29 King James Version (KJV)
    28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of 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?

    Hebrews 10:28-29 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
    28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?

  74. Mary2 says:

    Chiefy and AOS, Stop it. I enjoy debating Star Wars trivia! ;)

    It is, perhaps, unfair of me to argue against Yahweh using the bible because, as you quite rightly suggest, even if the book was entirely logically consistent and ethically sound, we still wouldn’t have any more evidence that it was ‘true’ than we would for Harry Potter (although I really hope Hogwarts is real).

  75. NSPike says:

    @Mary2 – I agree, the wish that Hogwarts is a real place is far too strong to be reasonable in many people, including myself. I also enjoy debating Star Wars trivia :)

    @Macha:

    @NSPike
    Please don’t refer to me as “faithless” because I find it rather rude, implying as it does a lack of something worthwhile (as in, for example, “armless”). Otherwise, I may be pushed to refer to you as “deluded”, “irrational”, or even “bonkers”.
    Thank you.

    While that reaction reads as a little harsh, point taken. Perhaps I should say ‘believers’ and ‘non-believers’ next time (in case it was unclear I fall into the second camp, by the way).

  76. Macha says:

    @NSPike

    Yes, sorry about that – having read all those quotes from the OT, I must have been in a “take no prisoners” frame of mind.

  77. Yahweh says:

    Returning to the “try hard wanker” strapline, why is it that Muslims are so much more touchy about people bad mouthing The Prophet ® than Allah? Which one is actually in charge? Hasn’t Allah’s deputy got a bit above himself?

  78. Macha says:

    Ah yes, but is it ..

    try hard wanker

    or

    try, hard wanker

    or

    try hard, wanker

    or even

    try! hard! wanker!

    ??

  79. Chiefy says:

    Mary, I didn’t say I don’t enjoy debating details of the myth; I intended to imply that it hasn’t much value besides entertainment. ;-)

    Yahweh, I have wondered that myself. Maybe because Mo was a real person, with warts and all. It’s harder to insult an entity you can’t see or hear.

  80. Ephphatha says:

    To first finish my response to M2, although I see she since has written more that I have yet to read, I think it is unfair to use forewarnings from Revelation (or cautionary tales from the Old Testament, for that matter) as proof that God is wantonly violent. Would you blame the administration of a city for squatters who die in the collapse of a condemned building they refuse to vacate, or while hiding in one that is being demolished?

    ….

    M2, do you really need me to explain what is arguably one the most often repeated and belabored precepts of Christian teaching? Namely, the virtue of submitting to slavery. Surely the idea of serving one’s neighbor is not new to you. What about the idea of making oneself last instead of first? Or to give a thief your coat too if he steals your sweater? All the way up to and including dying on a cross for people who hate you if necessary? I have not been able to find a reference yet but I’m pretty sure that I heard Carl Sagan say before dying something along the lines of the highest form or most evolved level of consciousness is the awareness that it is better to be killed than to kill. Something like that. It was a virtue of submitting to slavery even unto death quote of some kind, as I recall.

    ….

    I should not have entertained your notion that I was implying revelation from God came in stages because people used to be less intelligent and had to become smarter. The problem was more a matter of hard hearts than of soft minds according to Jesus: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19:8&version=NIV

    It is irrelevant to me whether there was a literal Adam and Eve, M2. Misses the teaching point of the story, in my opinion. But I think that the original cradle of civilization was probably like one big Garden of Eden full of Adams and Eves, and that the world probably seemed like a paradise to them until population numbers grew to the point where demand for wild fruits and vegetables outstripped supply. I also suppose that’s why the story of Cain and Abel describes (or is a metaphor for) the advent of agriculture and livestock farming.

  81. Ephphatha says:

    ShallowEnder, I think the nice and friendly enough disposition that is concealed not very far beneath your noxious and prickly exterior undermines the whole premise of your question about why God did not create us with a preference to be nice. And I doubt that our species would have survived this long if everyone’s desire to be nice and ask each other questions first, like you and I are doing now, were not slightly stronger than our desire to shoot each other first and ask questions later.

    Your critique of the minutia of the NYT article about cold viruses is interesting, but it appears that everyone missed the point I was hoping to make by using that article to respond to Chiefy’s question about God’s parenting skills: That we are our own worst enemies. Not our own worst fatal enemies. At least not over the short term. Obviously, we live to fight ourselves and each other another day. Please let your next reply prove me wrong.

  82. ShallowEnder says:

    Nspike and macha: I wouldn’t mind were you to call me “faithless”. Infidel, unbeliever and heretic have other meanings that are close but not quite right. Non-believer is too restrictive, it demands the question: in what do you not have belief?
    I just don’t have the bone that other people have. I’m missing a bit. I don’t have and have never needed faith.
    I’ll go by the evidence and my own built-in biases[1]. They’ve served me well for decades, I expect they’ll do for a while longer. Or forever if I end up being the exception to the “all men are mortal” rule. Statistically, some bugger has to be.
    “Faithless” does not mean “untrustworthy” or “mean-spirited” or even lacking in trust of my fellow critters.
    It just means I look in the chamber before I decide it’s unloaded.
    I check it’s unplugged before opening it [that's one I had to learn from repeated experience] {electricity doesn’t look painful}.
    I can be faithful and loyal to those I like, but that has nothing to do with “faith” as a belief in anything.
    As stated above, I don’t seem to have that sub-routine installed. This may make me less happy over all than those who have the comfort of a nice, woolly, warm delusion but my cold, meaning-free delusions of a totally uncaring and completely unconscious cosmos that just happens to have sufficient cracks in its Physics to permit life and thinking and books suffices for me.
    I actually don’t give a rat’s fart in a windstorm whether anyone else has a “faith” in something supernatural. I’m not against darling Eppy believing whatever she likes. So long as she extends the same privilege to me.
    And that’s the rub.
    They don’t.
    For some weird reason supporters of a religion, be it of gods, rock stars, soap operas, football teams, political parties or economic wafflings wish to convert the rest of us. This strikes me as both wasteful and counter-productive.
    Wasteful in that they need an evil enemy to point at to frighten the kiddies into line and they are expending effort in removing us and counter-productive in that the fewer and weaker the enemies are the less tithes they’ll get for fighting us.
    No religion in recent history [say the last four millennia] has warred on the animals and plants of this world. That is a ridiculously easy “enemy”, too soft a target to bother about. Humans haven’t really had to worry about anything living that is visible to the eye since their near-chimpanzee ancestors discovered the antelopes’ thigh-bone and thrown rocks. So the only evil enemies left are vastly over-rated super-beings who have very little evident effect on the world yet who are constantly accused of being in a massive conflict with the gods and the infidel humans; infidels and heretics.
    Which leads to the conclusion that the religious should want more of us not fewer. They should be working hard to support evolution, support atheism, support secular, non-religious education, support Science and the technologies it causes so they can have bigger, better, badder and more obviously evil enemies to fight.
    What is Superman without Lex? A mere bully.
    The churches should be aiding us, even paying us.
    For without a strong enemy their “war on evil” looks a little sick.
    How about it, Ephphatha, dearest, feel like trying to convince your church elders to offer me a pension so I can be your satanic adversary full-time?
    A very generous pension, of course, as there are other churches I could work for … against … you know what I mean.
    I think that’s an equitable arrangement. But I would, as I would be getting paid for having fun.

    [1] “Built in biases”? Well, I have found that being hurt is painful and pain is not a very nice thing, so I’m rather biased against it. That being so, I suspect it’s possibly a moral thing to extend my dislike of pain to the other critters I find around me. So I try not to hurt anything if I can reasonably avoid it. It’s a bias. I have no proof that pain, agony, screaming, torture and other stuff is per se “bad” but I don’t like it so I suppose you don’t either. And that extends to cats, moths, trees, worms and [surprisingly] [nay, astonishingly] even lower lifeforms like politicians and priests.
    And that is followed through even to not wishing them into the cornfield. I’m biased in that I want to life forever. I have a small suspicion that cats, worms, bugs, humans and vermin like priests and politicians might also be reluctant to be corn-fielded. Again, I’ve no real evidence that wiping out vast hordes of Parliaments and Churches is, in itself, “bad” and I’ve nothing like a divine guidance to convince me of this but I don’t want wiped out so I’ll extend the courtesy to anything else that’s living, if I can.
    Buddhist? Not really. I eat meat. I’ve even been known to eat a vegetable when presented with one by a trusted person. But I won’t go hunting or fishing just to put trophies on a wall and I won’t wander the countryside picking flowers.
    It’s a moral stance, or maybe a philosophy. I can live with it. More importantly, perhaps, other people can live because of it. [That is probably more important to the others concerned but again I have no real evidence to support this, only their word - and they, too, may be biased.]
    I don’t know if my stance is any more “good” than that of a crusading zealot cutting off heads by the bunch and raping and swording and dashing against rocks in his spare time. I have no higher authority than me as to what amounts to “good”. But I’m fairly happy with it as a lifestyle and my neighbours are still breathing so I guess it works. By and large, in the main, pretty much.
    Not all prejudices and biases are necessarily evil.

  83. Ephphatha says:

    Chiefy, in response to your follow-up question about the kind of suffering that does not seem to be related to free will, I believe that all suffering can be traced back to sin, although certainly not necessarily back to the sin of the sufferer. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5:10&version=NIV In my opinion, the Jewish people are the most obvious example of how God blesses those who are persecuted. They stand out as being persecuted and blessed at the same time. Not the only example, just exhibit A. God’s chosen example. Anti-Semites should only persecute Jews to the extent they would like to see God bless Jews.

  84. Ephphatha says:

    Undeluded, Thank you for offering to “open yourself up” to my message, but it is to God, not to me, that I believe we ought to open ourselves. Feel free to criticize, ask specific questions about what I post, dismiss and/or ignore me. Just don’t try to dictate the order in which I present whatever it is that I will have to offer here, or to ask me to write exams for you to mark. But I will now say in response to your first reply, which I nevertheless appreciate receiving very much, that your initial assumptions about me are wrong. I have no particular agenda here but to sow seeds. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+13%3A1-9&version=NIV It is up God, as far as I am concerned, to send or withhold the rain, sunlight, etc.

  85. Ephphatha says:

    Macha, it’s too bad that our manners are not especially good (yours and mine) because, like hotrats, you seem to be an otherwise very intelligent person. And it’s not as though most of what you and hotrats have to say is incorrect so much as it is incomplete, in my opinion, such as your good but apparently incomplete working knowledge of the complicated field of quantum physics and hotrats stale but not completely dead take on the ultimate fate of the universe. One of the posts I am waiting for an opportunity to share here concerns quantum physics, and I hope to receive your feedback, minus the personal insults please. hotrats, too. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s also plenty of room to improve my own manners. So, going forward, allow me to humbly suggest that we should at least try not to bring out the worst in each other. After all, the science of game strategy has proven that cooperation is more profitable than competition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat

  86. two cents' worth says:

    This discussion has illustrated for me once again that the upside of using a story to teach a lesson is that the story makes the lesson memorable, but the downside is that different people draw different–even contradictory–lessons (or no lesson at all) from the same story.

  87. two cents' worth says:

    Ephphatha wrote, M2, do you really need me to explain what is arguably one the most often repeated and belabored precepts of Christian teaching? Namely, the virtue of submitting to slavery.

    Ephphatha, I am curious about who taught you the precepts of Christianity. Aside from time spent in church, I spent 10 years in parochial schools run by the Roman Catholic Church, where I attended religion class five days a week. Never did the clergy or the lay teachers so much as mention the virtue of submitting to slavery. (Perhaps this is because I went to school during the post-Vatican II era.) Which Christian sects repeat and belabor the precept that it is a virtue to submit to slavery?

    My schools taught that it was a virtue to serve humanity, but I think my teachers would argue that it would be better for a slave to strive to escape to freedom rather than to submit to slavery, especially since slaves can be forced by their masters to do sinful things.

  88. hotrats says:

    Ephphatha:

    As long as you associate ‘reluctance to return to scripture’ as evidence of ‘fundamentalist atheism’ and send people off the field of play on summary conviction for it, avoid polite questions with accusations of being wet behind the ears or frothing at the mouth, and post scriptural references as if they were more than a record of poor mental health in the Bronze Age, it won’t matter how much you improve your manners.

    You will still be like every other god-believing sheep, keeping two sets of books; one for what you know to be true, so that you can function without embarrassment in the real world, and one for what you want or need to be true, for your psychological comfort. This is perhaps not the best place on the internet for you to parade the intellectual compromises that have to be made, in the attempt to resolve the inevitable contradictions.

    This is one of the few sites where ‘god’ has no more functional definition than ‘unicorn’, and scriptural authority is a paradigm of oppressive political opportunism, not a quotable resource in a rational debate. Until you take this on board your posts will remain tangential, cowardly and divisive, in short an insult to the intelligence, and I reserve the right to insult you back.

    By the way, the science of game theory (not strategy) also proves that in a fight to the death, or to establish objective truth, competition is more profitable than cooperation.

  89. steve oberski says:

    Hey there Ephphatha, what parts of your big bad book tell you that other parts of your big bad book are “figures of speech” ?

    Or perhaps you are using your own human values to decide which parts of your big bad book are metaphors, figures of speech, not applicable to you etc.

    In which case why not just dispense with your big bad book and use your human values to decide what is right and wrong ?

    “Christian, n.: one who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor.”

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

  90. steve oberski says:

    And by the way you still have not answered my question about the goats.

  91. Chiefy says:

    “The humans outwardly attributed benevolence, compassion, and mercy to God, not because they truly believed it, but because they were afraid of the consequences of not believing it. So another division came about: the division between what the humans believed and what they believed that they believed.
    ~ The Book of Hyperbole, 3:16-17″

    Brother Daniel, is that yours, or did you get it from somewhere? Sounds like a great story!

  92. Chiefy says:

    “I have no particular agenda here but to sow seeds.”
    That’s what I gathered from your posts, Ephy. There is nothing wrong in sowing seeds. We all hope to have some subtle influence on the thinking of others. But if you are only here to do that, if you have no interest in listening to different opinions and dialoguing in order to possibly learn something, then you are just a troll.

  93. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Here to sow seeds? But we’re atheists. We only eat babies.

    Ephy, I was right, you really are a sick puppy. You said
    I believe that all suffering can be traced back to sin, although certainly not necessarily back to the sin of the sufferer.”

    Sweet! So the quadraplegic cerebral palsy suferer I saw on the TV earlier was being punished for the sins of a long-dead, distant relative? As are the billion or so people around the world barely living through drought, famine and disease, not to mention wars and Catholic schools?
    And this is a just god you gush over?

    the Jewish people are the most obvious example of how God blesses those who are persecuted
    I’ll bet he was worn out from blessing the 6 million fast-tracked to paradise in the 1940’s.
    Are you sure this is a just god you fawn over. How could anybody even want such a monster to be real, let alone willingly kiss its metaphorical arse?

    Do we move on to your social conscience? Yes, I think we will. Remember this?
    Would you blame the administration of a city for squatters who die in the collapse of a condemned building they refuse to vacate,
    Quite frankly, yes I would, especially if that administration was doing nothing to help the poor and needy folks so desperate for a rooof over their heads.
    Wouldn’t you?

    Now for a little random silliness from your posts.
    This just kills me:
    I’m pretty sure that I heard Carl Sagan say before dying something along the lines of the highest form or most evolved level of consciousness is the awareness that it is better to be killed than to kill. Something like that. It was a virtue of submitting to slavery even unto death quote of some kind, as I recall.

    It might be common practice in your cult to interpret words to mean whatever you want them to mean, but here in the real-life world we take them for what they really say. Not wanting to kill people is not, in any manner, shape or form, no matter how you cut it or look at it, the same as saying that slavery is OK.

    This is almost genius:
    you both make what I think is the most common error that all people (including myself) make when reading the bible. That is, the fatal error of missing the teaching point of biblical stories by getting hung up on details

    Yeah, don’t get hung up on the details; it’s not like you’re supposed to believe it’s the received word of God, is it?

    And finally, how much does Ephy understand about meteorology?
    It is up God, as far as I am concerned, to send or withhold the rain, sunlight, etc.

    Ah, evidently not a lot.

  94. Macha says:

    @Ephphatha

    You’re just messing about aren’t you? It’s almost like you’re trolling 4 Jesus.

    Firstly you pepper us with a load of almost random and largely irrelevant quotes from the Bible, then fail to answer the resultant questions – simply engaging in more peppering.

    You don’t have a coherent framework of arguments to actually support any definable thesis – you change tack more often than a sailboat in a storm.

    You seem to place an undue emphasis on “good manners” as if they’re pertinent to the arguments, which, by the way, you consistently refused to address.

    You keep throwing in irrelevant references to “science” as if somehow that lends credence to the other things you are saying.

    Since you seem to be fond of bad metaphors, I have to say that you remind me of one of those flies you get on a hot and damp summer’s evening which will insist on repeatedly attempting to land on various parts of your plate and gets swatted away with increasing levels of frustration at its irritating pointlessness.

    PS: this is just my opinion and is not official policy of the Cock & Bull ™ management.

  95. JohnM says:

    @ steve oberski
    “…use your human values to decide what is right and wrong ?”
    You need to understand the nature of the beast/troll. See @Macha for an explanation, “…one of those flies you get on a hot and damp summer’s evening …”, etc. Except there is a simple and efficacious technique for fly swatting, which done correctly kills ‘em stone dead almost every time. Unfortunately, Internet trolls are more tenacious.

    Ahh… Ephphatha. The farce is strong in this one.

  96. Mary2 says:

    Yahweh, good point! Allah seems able to take care of himself (as he should) but don’t dis de Mo!

    Ephphatha, Thanks again for responding.

    Yes, I certainly would hold the owner of a building responsible for the building collapsing and killing the inhabitants that s/he knew were living in the building and was quite happy to have them keep living there whilst knowing not only THAT the building definitely would collapse on them but exactly WHEN it would collapse and how many of them would die.

    It may have escaped your attention but I am not a Christian. How on Earth could I be expected to know the details of much discussed Christian theology? This is the first time I have heard someone who was not alive during the times of slave trade trying to justify the virtue of owning or being owned, body and soul, by another person. I think your attempt to justify slavery as ‘serving one’s neighbour’ is pure equivocation. Those two things are not the same at all. It is very different to ‘serve’ i.e. help out, or be of benefit to, another person and to be owned by that other person – theirs to hurt or kill on a whim if they please and you should be happy about it.

    I will grant your argument that god staggered his revelations because humans weren’t listening but this would only make sense if he then told them which bits were no longer relevant. He at no point tells them that the bits where he had them commit genocide would no longer be permitted (although Matthew 19 does indeed seem to say he changed his mind about divorce – good to see he has his priorities correct).

    I like your point about a garden full of Adams and Eves but you seem to suggest that they moved out of Eden because they grew too populous and required land for agriculture. I thought god kicked them out because they ate the apple? If that story is not literal then why do we all need redemption anyway?

  97. Mary2 says:

    ShallowEnder, I get why they try to convert everyone: if I believed my friends were going to suffer for all eternity unless they believed in Whatever, I would spend my life trying to convert people. I admire the Jehovah’s Witnesses who actually live what they believe (although I still enjoy torturing them when they knock on the door – I seem to have been taken off their list as they no longer visit).

    I like your theory on the Religious supporting Infidels because they need enemies to fight against. Very George Orwell 1984.

    Ephphatha, I’m curious how you see Jewish people as ‘blessed’. I know the first half of the bible says they are god’s chosen people but I don’t see any evidence of that in the actual world unless you count the fact that their religion has managed to last for thousands of years even though the people themselves have been virtually wiped out several times over.

  98. Undeluded says:

    @Eph

    Dear, dear! What a disappointment. What a let-down. In fact – what a cop-out!

    You joined this site to “sow seeds,” yet your basic acquaintance with the necessary “agriculture” involved appears to be zero! Here I am, ready to be sown and nurtured, realizing your total ignorance of the nature of the “virgin soil” you claim you wish to nourish, explaining which type of seeds are effective and how to irrigate them – and all I get for my efforts is the type of fertilizer that has repeatedly proved to be totally useless (if not harmful). You rely on god for the sprouting of the seeds you sow – wouldn’t he appreciate a little more help from you in the choice of soil and type of cultivation?

    For some reason you interpret my willingness to come to any kind of common ground with you, as “dictating” how you should present your views. This is a somewhat childish escape route: “You’ll either do it my way or not at all!” Wake up, Eph – your way doesn’t seem to be working on this site, does it? And when you say “ask specific questions about what I post” (it is too, too, obvious you cannot manage any other type of question, and even those are lame to the extreme – thanks for allowing me to criticize) it seems that you are the one doing the dictating.

    What’s this semantic babble regarding “opening myself?” You really sound weak by referring me (and Mary2) to god. Why? Because you have been informed again and again that with us such an approach is futile! You know exactly what the term means! Paraphrasing Einstein – repeating the same actions but expecting a different result is a symptom of instability. (I did say I was paraphrasing…)

    Come on, Eph – what have you got to lose by trying a different approach? Be brave – give us a few definitions as politely requested. Naturally, I would like to know your definitions, but I wouldn’t mind it of you claim these are god’s definitions – but in that case please rephrase them into colloquial English. TIA.

  99. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    John M, ‘Ahh… Ephphatha. The farce is strong in this one.’
    I get that one, and I’ve never even seen a Star Wars film all the way through (I got the reference thanks to the excellent Family Guy, which has done a couple of what I’m assured by my sci-fi-loving friends are pretty accurate spoofs). :-)

    Mary, Ephy’s ideas about the migration from Eden to find good land sound a little as though he (I’m pretty sure it’s a he) is conflating Genesis with the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of Man’s origins, as first espoused by the Leakey family after finding remains of humans dating from around a million years ago in the Olduvai gorge.

    What he’s doing is conflating Biblical legend and established fact, or trying to use fact-based evidence to back up his Little Book of Horrors, a tactic much loved by theologians, conspiracy theorists, and other pushers of lies everywhere.
    A good portion of the O.T. does describe real events, though much dressed-up and ‘Godified’. Keller’s The Bible as History* matches archeological finds to stories in the O.T., and makes it very clear that the book pretty much describes inter-tribal fighting for control of the ‘Fertile Crescent’ of good agricultural land that stretched around the bottom portion of the Nile to the Red Sea. It was the Jewish tribes that eventually won the day, and as it’s always the winners that write the history, Jaweh got the credit for the bloodshed. I’m sure that the gods of the non-Abrahamic tribes also promised their people that they were the chosen ones (a tactic used by armies the world over right to the present day -Gott Mit Uns), but it was superior weaponry, better tactics, and sheer weight of numbers that won the day for the tribes of Moses and their descendants.

    *Keller tried to use the archeological evidence as proof of God (the strap-line was Archeology Confirms the Book of Books!), but instead simply confirmed what most right-thinking people had known for years; that the O.T. was a history of that part of the Middle-East that we know as the Fertile Triangle (and Ephy and his ilk know as Eden) written from the ancient myths passed orally down many generations and distorted beyond recognition as a consequence, but a half-decent history non-the-less which was used quite successfully to guide archeologists to likely places to dig.
    As it turned out, they found lots of evidence of the various settlements as mentioned in the O.T., but no evidence whatsoever that any of the pantheon of gods shared among the tribes had any hand in anything.
    Sadly, Keller seemed to lose all vestiges of academic credibility by saying things like (and here I paraphrase) ‘The Bible talks of a place called Nineveh; archeologists have found remains of Nineveh; therefore God’, which was a real shame as otherwise the book was as good an example of the archeologists’ art as one may wish to read.

  100. JohnM says:

    @AoS
    Perhaps you know already, but Peter Griffin and his family go to Springfield, and visit Homer and the Simpson clan. It airs in August; I can’t wait :) Sorry about going O/T in the C&B

  101. Mary2 says:

    AOS, I have no problem with religious people adapting which parts of their books are literal and which are story in the face of real world evidence. I much prefer those who acknowledge that the story of Adam and Eve, for example, does not fit with established facts about how the world works and look for the morality tale rather than the history. I think people who believe the bible as an historical account or the Koran as science text end up tying themselves in so many knots as to look ridiculous.

    I know that seems to contradict what I wrote to Ephphatha about the story of eating the fruit of knowledge but it is the earlier sentence that was poorly written. Or maybe I do mean the two contradictory things – I mean, it’s not up to me to be able to coherently mesh what we know of reality (there was no single Adam and Eve) and the very underpinning message of Christian theology (without the fall from grace there is no original sin and therefore no need for Christ’s sacrifice or our redemption). What do you say Ephphatha? Do you have a solution for us to this conundrum?

  102. Theo says:

    I have hung out at J&Ms but not posted – unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to. Really enjoy the site and reading the comments. So thought I should post/contribute. Apologies if there is then a significant pause until my next post.

    In particular I read Chiefy’s comment:

    “Rabbi Lurie’s answer to the Holocaust was well written, but it’s an old argument.”

    …and couldn’t help but post. I like some of the comments that Chiefy has posted but I thought I should “expand” on this one.

    I am hoping that by “well written” Chiefy means something like “grammatically correct and poetic/flowery”. I clicked through to the link and found only a vacuous piece of writing, devoid of any real meaning. Almost every sentence is dripping with vacuity. One particular example that stands out is “long before it was discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1929 it was seen by mystics from many traditions, especially by those in northern Israel in the 16th century”. People have come up with hand wavy creation myths since the beginning of recorded human history, and no doubt prior to that… why pick on northern Israel in the 16th century as if they discovered anything particularly special? However, to compare any of these philosophical musings with the very specific (and observationally supported) theoretical models related to the Big Bang either shows a complete lack of knowledge of the enormous amount of work, detailed specific mathematical calculations and vast amounts of data that relate to current understanding… or, is a deliberate, dishonest attempt to hoodwink readers who do not have some knowledge in this area. If it turns out that his statements can be excused by a lack of knowledge in this area he is then guilty of making statements about such things of which he does not have sufficient knowledge, dishonestly presenting aspects of his essay from an apparently “expert” point of view. Whichever it is, the author does not come out of this smelling of roses.

    Back to preparing for some lectures on Special Relativity.

  103. ShallowEnder says:

    Ephphatha, dear lady, I feel some sympathy for you. I am sorry we all are ganging up on you. It’s not just mere herd security, nor is it “pink monkey”. It’s more like we have found a nice mouse and we’re teasing it to death.
    We don’t truly expect you to change your mind about what some one called “Wee Ally-akbar” [I've been going through the archives and I love that one] nor do we expect you to explain things two millennia and more of scholars could not.
    Basically, we’re just venting.
    But you are well wrong about me. I’m not a nice person by any stretch of the word, not even in its older meaning. I really am a nasty, irascible, irritating, mouthy, arrogant bastard.
    I wish I weren’t. I wish all people weren’t. I wish you were right and that we were all nice, lovable moneys poking at the universe for fun, but we aren’t.
    I’ve seen evil up close.
    And I’ve seen it on TV. “Boko haram” are evil, whatever they dress up their stinking foetid savagery as.
    My question is, was and always will be: do you agree? Or does “doing the work of the gods” make them angelic?
    Are the witch doctors who offer raping babies as a cure for AIDS criminal scum or the “good guys”? Would you support a movement to get them all jailed forever without possibility of parole? Preferably on a maximum Coventry island.
    The answer to that one question, whether you condemn them unreservedly or support their hideous, monstrous barbarities in the name of your loving, merciful daddy will determine whether you are a true human being or one of the filth.
    I know which way I’m betting, but I truly hope I’m wrong.
    I want to like you, Eppy, dear. I want to like everyone.

  104. ShallowEnder says:

    Eppy, honey, I’m assuming the feminine gender – unlike some of the others – because of he “a” suffix.
    Should I be wrong, I apologise and I’ll stop.

  105. ShallowEnder says:

    Regarding Acolyte of Sagan on May 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm:

    Acolyte, there was a ten-year long TV serial called “Stargate: SG1″. Basically, it re-interpreted the Egyptian gods as aliens, guys from offplanet with high tech and spaceships. It took things like the “Arthurian legends” and rolled them into the mixture.
    Basically it did what your guy Keller did with the babble-book.
    I’m not recommending this one TV show, though a few of the stories were pretty well done, I’m pointing out that everyone is doing that. Interpreting the books for their own purposes.
    “Asimov’s Annotated Bible” is about the best and least partisan addition to the original books. That one I strongly do recommend and promote and advise people to read and study. That and a few concordances.
    You can force a lot of babbble-book stories to fit many, many other legends and myths and real histories if you fuck about with the names.
    None of this is proof of the existence of aliens, gods, demons [though I do have many daemons in my computers], ghouls, vampires, Reticulans or any other supernatural entity or effect.
    There has NEVER been any proof of any of these. Nor of magic, psychic powers or any other non-physical process or phenomenon.
    Re-interpreting one book in another isn’t proof.
    Nor are “Stargate” movies.
    Though both can be entertaining.

  106. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary, I get your point about using the holy books as morality tales, but at the same time I have to wonder why anybody would need to get their morals from Bronze- and Iron Age fables.
    I too have no problem with people adapting their holy books, but I do have a problem with people adapting the books yet still claiming to be believers. Unless I’m very sorely mistaken, the O.T., Torah, and Koran are supposed to be the perfect words of God, Yaweh, or Allah; that is fundamentally why they are thought to have such power, why they should be followed to the letter.
    That is what supposedly prevents the holy tomes from being nothing more than just some old books.
    So as soon as somebody decides to re-interpret this bit or explain that bit away as analogy – usually in an attempt to make their faith fit with science, common sense, or the Zeitgeist, what they are in effect doing is admittting that the books had a very human origin, and that strips them of their magical, deity-authored power.
    Bearing in mind that the words in their books are the only scraps of anything even approaching evidence for the existence of gods, the act of accepting them as man-made removes the only reason to believe in those same gods.
    Which to me makes anybody but the most fundamental, follow-the-book-to-the-letter believer as atheist as you or I.

    JohnM, I didn’t know about that one. Thanks. Homer’s already had excellent cameo appearances in a couple of Family Guy episodes so I’m looking forward to seeing this one.

    Finally, I can’t believe that nobody’s called me a philistine over my Star Wars admission. :-)

  107. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    And I’ve just seen the google front page.
    Today’s the birthday of Mary Anning, who no longer sells sea-shells on the sea shore.

  108. Mary2 says:

    AOS, Yes, the bible, torah and koran are supposed to be the perfect, literal words of god – but nobody but a half-witted idiot would believe that to be true! ;) So, I’m allowing leeway for the word of several bronze age humans, slightly edited and culled, inspired by god/s.

    P.S. I greatly exaggerated the extent of my own Stars Wars knowledge in an attempt to gain Nerd cred. I have only a mild to moderate case of sci-fi nerddom. I know of Stargate: SG1, saw the original movie and one or two episodes but have never seen a single one of the spin-offs and couldn’t name any of the characters.

  109. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary2 says:

    May 21, 2014 at 4:49 am

    AOS, Yes, the bible, torah and koran are supposed to be the perfect, literal words of god – but nobody but a half-witted idiot would believe that to be true!

    Which tells us all we need to know about the True Believers.
    You know those churches that have Bible verses usually printed on day-glo paper pinned up outside? I think I may have to print up some of my own and do a little guerrilla bill-posting. How about You don’t have to be insane to worship God…but it helps?

  110. hotrats says:

    AoS:
    My favourite church grafitti: ‘If your knees, knock, kneel on them’,

    closely followed by a large, banner-headline JESUS CHRIST originally followed by ‘is my Lord and Saviour’ which was pasted over with ‘IS THAT THE TIME?’

  111. It occurs to me to seriously wonder if the Abrahamic god didn’t just have a terrible speech impediment as he dictated the Torah, the Wholly Babble, and the Qur’an?

    “Fwow him to the fwoor, centuwion. Vewy woughly!”*
    “Er..a quarter past four, sir.”

    Or, considering what I’m learning about the astonishing humanness of the original Greek witnesses (papyri, codices, manuscripts, and so on) the first few scribes charged with copying the fables simply couldn’t hear the verbal stories properly!

    “Blessed are the cheesemakers?”
    “No, no, no. I said, PEACEMAKERS, you deaf old fart!”
    “I heard that!”

    Or, the scribe (not unlike agent Maxwell Smart) spent the whole of his interviews with the dying Apostles simply sharpening his stylus.

    Or worse, ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!

    *Not the right setup line, but the original’s too long, it’s too late, and I’m near crashing.

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