Tailor Made

So where did the stories of Jesus life on Earth come from? The traditional answers to this question are wholly inadequate. As we’ve seen, they didn’t seem to be around when Paul was writing; the hypothetical Q is an unconvincing way of explaining them while unreliable memory, coupled with the so-called oral tradition, don’t offer any means of conveying accurate verifiable information about Jesus.

The writers of the gospels, particularly Mark the creator of the first, would have known this. The gospels are not collections of the speculative tales that were doing the rounds. They might have made some incidental use of them, but all of the gospels are carefully constructed, designed to make theological points about their hero. Particular kinds of stories were required for this and the gospel writers thought nothing of making them up. It’s possible they made use of existing tales, but if they did, they almost certainly retooled them to suit their purposes. The stories we find in the gospels are tailor made to illustrate these purposes. None of the gospels is history: they are all carefully crafted literary creations.

What were the purposes and the agendas of the gospel writers? Propaganda, designed not so much to convert non-believers, but to explain to those who were already part of the cult, and their own sects in particular, what belief in Jesus entailed. To this end, they created allegories, symbolic stories about his life on Earth.

Mark began the process. He constructed his narrative by adapting Paul’s teaching ;and inventing stories based on ‘prophecies’ from the scriptures to create a symbolic narrative every part of which makes a theological point. He may also have retooled existing stories while borrowing features of existing myth that fellow cultists would expect to find in an account of a demi-god’s adventures.

Matthew and Luke then followed his lead, lifting what they thought was of relevance to their own agendas, dropping or amending the rest and inventing their own symbolic stories.

You think they didn’t? I’ll show you that they did, and how, using Mark, Matthew and Luke’s gospels, in a couple of posts time. But before that: a slight and relevant diversion.

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124 thoughts on “Tailor Made

  1. Once the gospels are fully exposed for the nonsense they are and the character Jesus of Nazareth is shown beyond doubt to be a narrative construct I wonder what stories/ lies the Apologists will spin to ensure the Indoctrinated toe the line?
    Or worse, how will children be inculcated to maintain belief in this vile religion?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a wonderful narrative about Mark that you weave. I’ll bet you actually believe it. Fortunately, most are not so gullible. We ask where is the evidence or support?

    It is too easy, of course, to credit those who knew Mark with knowing how it all came to be. Better to trust those who 2000 years later weave their stories.

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    • Patience, Don. As I say in the post the evidence is on its way, all of it from the Bible itself.

      It’s dishonest of you to suggest such criticism of Christianity and the Jesus story is a recent phenomenon. You conveniently overlook the likes of Celsius, Porphyry and the pagan Emperor Julian. Of course not much of their work survives as Christians systematically destroyed it. But enough does.

      The conclusions I draw are, however, my own, from 25 years of reading the bible and commentaries from a faith perspective and another 25 with a more sceptical, critical eye.

      It’s funny, but when I express my own views you criticise me for not referencing scholars’ works. When I do, you dismiss them out of hand and insinuate I’m in thrall to them. You really need to do better.

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      • I’ll try to do better.

        I know it is difficult to put all the documentation in a blog post, and you probably don’t need to for most of your readers. I simply push a little because it sounds like you are just repeating what you’ve heard without thinking it through.

        I have read Celsus. I didn’t find that his critique is the same as yours. I’ve read a little about Julian and find that despite his intent he is a testimony to the reality of Jesus and to the goodness of Christians who follow Jesus, even encouraging the devotees of pagan religions to follow their example. I am fascinated by the attempt to rebuild the Jewish temple – and its failure. I guess my takeaway has been that Christianity thrives under opposition and God seems to thwart attempts to destroy his church.

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      • Did I say the ancient critics of Christianity and the gospels agreed with me? No. I cited them because you said such criticism was a modern phenomenon. Of course it isn’t; thinking people in the past could see through the cult’s stories and beliefs. Thanks to the church it eventually became dangerous for them to do so.

        Thanks for the suggestion I don’t think through what I read. How mightily condescending of you. You’d be hard pushed to find much of what I write in others’ critiques of Christianity, but I forgive you for overlooking that fact.

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      • Thanks for giving me a pass, Neil, but after a lot of years – from college on – of engaging with skeptics and atheists, I have not found anything really new, and I have found far too many who accept uncritically what they have gotten from atheists who have gone before them. (The same might be said of many Christians who do not think critically. In their case, however, faith in what God speaks is more important than understanding all the reasons.) I am glad you consider the question important and are doing your own thinking and research.

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      • So an argument has to be ‘new’ for you to consider it? And an old argument has no legitimacy? Talk about thinking uncritically, Don.

        All of your apologetic arguments are old so we can, I take it, dismiss them on this basis alone?

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      • Neil, you have dismissed them long ago. I have dismissed them long ago. I hang around in hopes of hearing something new. I like the mental challenge. But really this all amounts to batting practice for both of us.

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      • BINGO! That last paragraph sums things up so perfectly! Not only does Don do this, but a few thousand others do as well. Maybe they have a club membership that we’re not aware of???

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    • As you are a devout believer and trust the bible narrative implicitly let’s see if we can test this truth you are so fond of.
      There are around a dozen foundational tenets of the Christian faith.
      I would ask you to choose one of these tenets and present evidence to demonstrate its veracity.

      If you were able to do this without deflection, obfuscation,equivocation, or quoting bible text I will consider you have at least some genuine integrity.
      I don’t expect you to jump through hoops or suchlike, just provide evidence for a single foundational tenet to demonstrate its veracity.
      Will you do that?

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      • Are you talking about theology or history? If theology, I’d ask for the privilege of qualifying the ‘tenet’ since I may not personally agree with it or may think it not foundational. There is no sense in my arguing for someone else’s position.

        However, I am interested in what you consider foundational. I personally can’t think of a dozen I think so.

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      • 3 Examples.
        The Trinity,The Resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth, Salvation.
        I can suggest more if you are unhappy about these three?

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      • The Trinity is theological and a hot topic in theological circles over the centuries but is not foundational. You can be a Christian and not a trinitarian in the strictest Orthodox definition. Far more foundational is the ‘tenet’ that a personal creator God exists. In fact, why bother about the Trinity until that issue is settled. But that topic has been discussed often, and there is little I can add that you do not already know. Briefly, the cosmos and your existence argue for a personal God.

        The bodily resurrection is a historical issue with theological implications, but it has been discussed here and elsewhere so thoroughly that it seems to me to be rehashing an old topic. It is in my mind also not a ‘foundational tenet’. There are Christians who believe in a spiritual resurrection rather than a bodily resurrection.

        There are, in my mind, only a few foundational tenets that all Christians hold. The existence of a personal creator God is one. That we are alienated from God is a second. That God acted in history to reconcile his lost creation by sending his Son to be our Savior is a third. That there is a judgement at the end of this age and an age to come is a fourth.

        I am not trying to avoid your questions, ARK, but you said “foundational” and I thought I should clarify where I am on that issue.

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      • Fine. We can go with your examples,I have no problem with this.
        Pick one, your choice, and provide evidence to demonstrate the veracity of the claim.
        Oh, and please,I implore you, don’t come back and ask: “What do you mean by evidence?”

        Thanks.

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  3. There is a personal creator God.

    Evidence: the creation (cosmos).

    Reasons: The universe began to the best of our knowledge and as far back as we can know as a singularity of undifferentiated matter. That is as simple as it can get. From that point the universe developed into an extraordinarily complex universe. And that complexity includes us as perhaps the most complex thing in the universe.

    That fact begs the question HOW?

    One answer is that it happened largely by chance. But random chance is pressed to the breaking point by the unimaginable number of chance events that must have combined to bring the universe and us to our present state.

    The other answer is that the universe developed according to the design and power of God. Since we know by experience that complexity is often created out of simplicity by intelligent and capable humans, this option seems the most reasonable.

    But what about the personal part?

    Since we are persons, it is logical that personhood could not come from a source that was not a person with the attributes of personhood including volition.

    It is therefore reasonable that a personal God with the ability to design and put in motion the processes that would result in a complex universe inhabited by people/

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    • Your opening assertion is
      a claim and not supported by evidence.
      Your next paragraph is rationalisation, probably influenced your faith/religious brliefs
      You might like to listen to someone such as Sean Carrol.

      Therefore, Don, the only honest answer would be: “I don’t know.”

      The same applies to your claim regarding a personal god.

      You are making an argument for not providing evidence for.

      The origin of life is unknown at this point.
      We may even be part of a holographic projection.

      I think you should pick another tenet.

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      • My logician friend, evidence comes in two forms: direct or circumstantial. The universe is circumstantial but, like the gun on the floor of the murdered man’s apartment, it is evidence.

        The task of the person seeking to solve the crime is to account for the gun. Usually that means he must consider several possible explanations and choose the most likely. I provided a second possible solution in my first reply and rejected it because it seemed improbable due to the incredible amount of chance required.

        Your holograph solution actually argues for the God explanation because if it were correct the creator of the holograph would be the equivalent of God, a person with volition existing outside the hologram and having the ability to create and control the hologram.

        In either case – God or a God-like hologram creator – the next question would be what is this creator like? A crime scene investigator could determine quite a bit about what the murderer was like by carefully examining the crime scene. In the same way we can determine quite a bit about the creatror of the universe by examining the universe. And we have. Several books by people who have done that work are Natural Theology by William Paley and The Privileged Planet by astronomer Guillermo Gonzales. Happy reading.

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      • Bottom line is, Don, you don’t present any evidence. What we have here is specious argument, speculation and leaps of faith.

        I can hear Judge Judy now: ‘I’m not interested in what you think is the case, where is the evidence?’

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      • Like I said, evidence comes in two forms indirect or circumstantial and direct. The universe is adequate circumstantial evidence. And many billions of people have considered that evidence, some of them in depth and with the tools of science, and have found it adequate to conclude that there is a personal and powerful creator God.

        But indirect evidence is not as conclusive as direct evidence. Some want to see for themselves this God in action, or at least a video of him actually creating.

        Seeing it happen yourself would be direct evidence and that would, I am sure, be adequate for you and for anyone. But that is not possible because creation happened in the distant past and over considerable time. We are limited in our personal experience to the present. But maybe a little example. If God would just do something a bit smaller yet clearly something God-like, that would be adequate, right?

        Well, in fact. God did. Jesus, created out of nothing: the loaves and fish. He created life: the raising of the dead to life. He turned sickness to health. And he knew things that no one else could know: the thoughts of men and the action of men who he had not seen: Philip under the tree. He controlled the elements of nature: quieting the storm.

        But not right in front of you – or me – right? Maybe others saw this, but not you. If he did this in front of you, it would be adequate as it was for many, right?

        But that is true of many, many things that we are nevertheless convinced of by the testimony of those who did see and experience for themselves. You did not see the bombing of London in the late 30s and early 40s. But you believe it happened because people who did see it told about it. You were not there to see the gassing of Jews in the holocaust, but you believe it happened because people who did see it told about it.

        The testimony of a witness is direct evidence in a court of law, just as if the jury had seen the murder happen. Of course, the accuracy and veracity of eyewitness testimony would be subject to examination. Even the results of an experiment in the lab are subject to examination. You can read the experimenter’s notes. You don’t need to be actually looking over her shoulders. And you can check with others who have done the experiment. You don’t actually have to do the experiment yourself.

        We have such direct evidence of God. We have the testimony of those who were there and saw Jesus do these things. In fact, we have multiple testimonies. Their testimony is preserved for us in the Gospels they wrote. Their testimony, if accurate, is direct evidence. and is adequate to prove God.

        Of course, just as in a trial, the testimony of witnesses should be tested. That is perfectly appropriate. You have done that. I have done that. See https://biblicalmusing.blogspot.com/2022/11/eyewitness.html And I am convinced that what they witness to is true.

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      • Is there enough circumstantial evidence to convict? No. The human tendency to attribute that which we don’t understand to (a range of incompatible) gods is not evidence that such gods exist.

        I search in vain for direct evidence of God in the gospels. There are no eye-witness testimonies, only 40 to 100 year old hearsay and made-up stories.

        In both instances, seek ye first the human contrivance and you will find a far more plausible explanation for the invention of gods.

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      • As I said in one of the replies, Jesus is the direct evidence. But billions throughout history, even before Jesus, many have had another kind of direct evidence, the still small voice.

        I read through your profile again. I did not see anywhere in your telling of your experience as a Christian the mention of that “still small voice” that is the ‘personal’ in our personal relationship with the Lord. I don’t know how many ‘Christians’ do not have that experience, many I assume because not all speak of it. But for those who do, it is like a call from home and the voice of Dad on the phone. It warms the heart, and I doubt that any have serious questions after that.

        It is not that we do not continue to think about the facts; we may even have doubts about the facts we have been taught and change some of our ideas – I have – but we have an anchor that holds us. I am so very thankful for that still small voice.

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      • The first part I responded to, I think: the Jesus of the gospels. Are you now saying that that Jesus is not direct evidence: it’s the voice in your head. Is that what your evidence for the God of the Universe boils down to? Is that, as the song says, all there is?

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      • I am saying that there are two testimonies to Jesus as God the Son. One is the direct evidence of the many who saw and heard and experienced him. The other is the direct evidence of my own experience of God. When they agree, as they do, that is sufficient evidence.

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      • don: The universe is adequate circumstantial evidence.

        It’s neither evidence nor adequate.

        It is defining God into existence. It is the ultimate in circular reasoning. You define God as the creator of the universe then point to the universe as evidence of God. That’s stupid. And only stupid people or the indoctrinated fall for it.

        I could define Jeff as the maker of all pencils. Then point to pencils as the evidence that Jeff exists and makes pencils.

        Of course, we can point to different brands of pencils and pencil factories and (no doubt) youtube videos showing pencils being made as actual evidence that pencils are not in fact made by 1 guy named Jeff.

        But that’s true with God as well. We’ve discovered how rocks are formed, how they are worn down to sand, how mountains are raised up, how valleys are made, how stars and planets form and how they are destroyed. In everything that we’ve examined and learned in every area of science not once has a creator god been found or even implied. It’s natural processes all the way down.

        Creator gods (and there are dozens, maybe hundreds) are the creation of primitive people who couldn’t conceive of the fundamental forces of physics or the subatomic particles they act on. Unable to grasp the reality around them, they created gods in their own image. Human like super beings that could form mountains the way human could pile up sand at the beach.

        Hundreds of thousands of years of human existence, thousands of gods, and not once has any actual evidence for their existence been provided.

        Sorry, Don. The universe is evidence for the universe. Nothing more.

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      • Kos: It’s natural processes all the way down.

        Don: And how did that process happen to be the rule of the universe?

        But there is an equally probing question: At every stage, from the development of the first stars to the evolution of Homo sapiens, there are random and chance events. So many that it would be impossible to calculate. Why do the dinosaurs not rule the earth?

        So, bottom line, what you advocate is chance.

        Question: At what point does chance become zero-probability?

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      • Don: And how did that process happen to be the rule of the universe?

        Obviously, your god was hiding in that particular gap. I mean, where else would he be?

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      • Kos: It’s natural processes all the way down.

        Don: And how did that process happen to be the rule of the universe?

        Kos: Obviously, your god was hiding in that particular gap. I mean, where else would he be?

        Don: That might be my answer, but I was interested in yours.

        My answer: I don’t know. We don’t know. There are many ideas proposed. But right now we don’t know. We may never know.

        We were lucky enough to discover the cosmic background radiation that revealed the big bang and expansion of the universe. But that is leftover from the big bang, which happened in the universe. It’s possible, if the universe began outside of itself, there is nothing inside it to discover that would reveal a cause (if it has one).

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      • Don: Why do the dinosaurs not rule the earth?

        They did, Don. For 200 million years, dinosaurs ruled the earth. Since then, about 60 million years, mammals have ruled the earth. Of that 60 million years, humans have ruled for maybe 12 thousand.

        Of course, that’s also subjective. Single-celled life has out numbered all other species for 4 billion years. And they will be here long after humans are gone. (They are God’s favorites, after all.)

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      • My point was that it was not because of biological evolution. It was not inevitable, in other words. It was because of a mass extinction that happened because of a meteor stake.

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      • Don: So, bottom line, what you advocate is chance.

        No, Don. I don’t believe in chance. Maybe you should check with your local community college to see if they have a course on probability.

        Don: Question: At what point does chance become zero-probability?

        When something is impossible. Two examples: rolling a 42 on a single roll of a single standard 6-sided die; a herd of fully grown elephants flying out of my butt before distributing Reagan/Bush in ’84 bumper stickers.

        The problem is we generally don’t have enough information to begin to calculate probabilities. And most people just go with their instincts (which are usually wrong). That’s how we get stupid ideas like “nothing is impossible.”

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      • don: We have such direct evidence of God. We have the testimony of those who were there and saw Jesus do these things. In fact, we have multiple testimonies. Their testimony is preserved for us in the Gospels they wrote. Their testimony, if accurate, is direct evidence. and is adequate to prove God.

        You keep repeating the party line never learning anything.

        We don’t have a single eyewitness account of Jesus. Not in the New Testament or out. And we have only one eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus — Paul, a man who never met Jesus when he was alive. But who, like you dear Don, just accepted the voices in his head when they claimed to be Jesus.

        How do I know all this? It’s the consensus of biblical scholars. And yes, I bow to the expert consensus because that’s how the world works ever since we gave up hunting and gathering and broke into specialities.

        I turn to experts to grow my food and deliver it to a store near me. To dentists for dental care, to mechanics for mechanical work. Every aspect of life is best done by people who are experts in their field. Yes, I’m interested in science and read quite a bit about it. But I’d never pretend to know more than the experts. And I’ve got a weird attraction to learning how religions form and how people are attracted to them. But I don’t pretend to know more than the experts.

        The consensus among biblical scholars is that none of the gospels are written by eyewitnesses. If you want to challenge that consensus write up your paper, have it peer reviewed, get it published by a scholarly press, and start presenting it around to the experts. Once you’ve convinced the majority and changed the consensus get back to me.

        And don’t start with oral tradition. As we’ve seen with the supposed oral traditions of the ancient Hebrews that led to the Hebrew Bible, the actual history on the ground is much different that what eventually got written. It as though oral traditions don’t reflect reality. I imagine the same is true of the New Testament traditions as it is of the Old.

        Sorry, Don. Your Bible is the claim, not evidence.

        Interesting quick look at a new book about the origins of Judaism was posted today at Vridar: https://vridar.org/2022/11/17/the-late-origins-of-judaism-the-archaeological-evidence/

        The evidence is mounting that the Judaism presented in the Bible didn’t appear until the 2nd century BCE, along with the books that claim it to be ancient.

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      • The bible is evidence of a “book” or collection of ancient texts but it is not evidence of the veracity of its contents, which have been shown to be error strewn across almost every discipline.
        Therefore, for someone – you, for example to claim the bible can be considered evidence of Moses ,Jesus, disciples, Mary, Noah or any of the characters or tales featured, is, in fact incorrect. The bible is nothing more than historical fiction and cannot be used as evidence to show it’s veracity or even truth-value.
        As the only source of your god,Yahweh, is the bible it can be stated you have failed to demonstrate the veracity of your assertion which remains nothing but an unsubstantiated claim.

        The holograph example could suggest numerous answers, not least highly advanced aliens.
        To now assert this is an example of God is disingenious not only because you used the capital G but your tacit implication is this must be your god, Yahweh, which we already know was simply a man made Canaanite deity.

        So, once again you have failed to provide evidence to demonstrate the veracity of your claims, Don.
        Ergo, they remain ( unsubstantiated) claims.

        I did suggest you choose another tenet if your faith.
        However, as you initially mentioned, if you can’t provide evidence of your god, Yahweh what would be the point of trying to demonstrate the veracity of the resurrection, for example?
        Although, I would be interested to see if you were more honest in such an approach.
        Why not give it a go?

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      • Sounds like you recognise the fact the bible is Historical Fiction and are now hand-waving or whining?

        I had hoped you might show a little more integrity and at least present a more honest case for your faith?

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      • It would be refreshing ( honest?) if Don acknowledged that faith is all there is and stopped trying to present historical evidence or similar where none exists.

        Deism is at least in that ballpark.
        But Theism is simply wishful thinking , as you point out.

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      • Wouldn’t it just! He comes close this time to saying it all comes down to voices in his head. Watch the swift backtrack now as he leaps to the defence of whatever the Bible says.

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      • Nan: Ark, how does one present an “honest case” for one’s faith when it’s all based on some sort of nebulous feeeeeling in one’s “heart”?

        And head voices. Don’t forget the head voices!

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      • Are you at least going to try to make an evidence-based case for the Resurrection?

        Assuming you believe in a physical Resurrection?

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      • don: Why do worms not build rockets to the moon?

        Maybe their descendants will one day.

        (Also, your egocentrism/anthrocentrism is showing again.)

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      • It is fashionable – kind of modern-think – to think that worms and humans are equal. But I doubt the worms think so.

        However, I think the difference is that worms do not want to build rockets. And why not? Maybe because they have no aspiration to do so. 🙂

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      • Don: It is fashionable – kind of modern-think – to think that worms and humans are equal. But I doubt the worms think so.

        “Equal” is a value judgement. And values are always subjective. And of course how we consider them equal (or not) is subjective.

        What attribute are we comparing?

        You mentioned “brains.” By which I think you’re referencing intelligence. And I’ve pointed out that I believe you chose that attribute because you believe you can “win” in that comparison.

        You bring up building rockets. And you consider that a win for humans v. worms. But worms don’t fight other worms, they don’t go to war with other worms, they haven’t created global warming that may cause the extinction of their own and many other species. Maybe using those standards the worms “win” over humans.

        But as far as evolution is concerned worms are exactly as evolved as any humans or cats or sharks or bacteria of today.

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      • I didn’t bring up brains. I think Ark did.

        What attribute am I comparing? Spirit and the capacity to interact with God. Now, I know that we can’t know that worms do not have a spirit, but they do not display characteristics of interacting with God. They are glorifying to God as a painting is to an artist, but they do not respond to the artist, as far as I can tell, anymore than a painting does.

        Worms are living things and have an important role to play in the ecosystem. They should be valued.

        We are different, however, as you indicated in your reply. We have the ability to destroy it – or enhance it. It is a great responsibility, and we are not doing well at it.

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      • Rather than write more asinine comments- remember, you wrote in a comment to Nan: “If worms had brains they would respond… etc”,
        why not offer some evidence for the Resurrection claim?
        I presume you consider this was a factual historical event, yes?

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      • Further, I think Don is giving FAR too much credit to the genesis of humanity. In essence, we’re just a fluke of the elements and environment and atoms that existed those oh-so-many-years ago. Consider: it wasn’t until “brains” were developed that any kind of “god” entered the picture.

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      • If worms had brains, they would be asking the same questions we are and probably coming to the same conclusions.

        How do you know that you are a fluke of the elements? What evidence do you have? That is just part of your worldview and is founded on faith.

        Really there are only two possibilities that I have ever heard of with some slight variations such as the holographic projection idea of Ark.

        The idea that we are a fluke of the elements fails in my mind due to the impossible series of accidents needed to arrive where we and the universe are; a mind and design are by far the better explanation. And it eventually runs into a presumption that runs counter to logic and intuition. This space, time material universe must have had a beginning.

        Even if this universe is one of a multitude of universes, the same logic and intuition argues against infinite regression. And a multiverse does not argue against God. In fact, I rather think that it is reasonable given who God is.

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      • Of course! It HAD to be a supernatural entity that created us! A fluke of the elements?? Oh my! How absurd! Any reasonable person simply MUST see that it was a lonely “being” that simply needed some company to fill its solitary existence and decided to create a seneschal to oversee its vast universe.

        I mean, really! It’s just so amazing that some people are so closed-minded and unable to see/accept all the evidence of this centuries old story that is firmly ensconced in a undeniable book of TRUTH.

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      • No, Nan, it did not need to be a supernatural entity. Other options can be considered. It might be a “fluke of the elements” as Ark proposed. Which would in my mind be the only other option.

        No, God had other options. He did not need to create beings who could relieve his loneliness. It is God’s character, as I understand him, to create. He is like an artist who has a drive to create. He is also personal, as I understand him. But he does, being a multi-person being as I understand him to be, have the Son with whom he has a relationship. (That is the classic theological answer to God’s need for relationship.)

        But why not create other beings capable of relationship and even partnership? He is a being with volition, as I understand him. He could choose to do so.

        The book, as you call it, has not been around forever. In fact, the book has been around for a very small part of human existence and has been available to only a small part of that population. Yet people everywhere believe in a God, even if for some God has been quite different. How did they come to the conclusion that there was a God and that he is personal?

        Answer: They had nature and the cosmos. And they had what Elijah described, as well as all the patriarchs before there was anything written, as the “still small voice.”

        The book of nature is enough, as David, who had very little of the book, says in Psalm 19. There were the heavens. From the heavens alone we can know that there is a God.

        There were no other options for most of these people of old. To suggest that all this was the product of “a fluke of the elements” would have been laughable. (It still is in my mind.) But today we can imagine that possibility.

        But, consider the two options. Which makes more sense to you? Which has the greater weight of reason and evidence? For me it is a personal creator God. And I need no book to tell me that.

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      • Don: the same logic and intuition argues against infinite regression.

        This is an old greek philosophy conclusion, infinite regression is impossible.

        It always cracks me up when a theist of any stripe, including Christians, pick it up.

        If there cannot be an infinite regress, your god cannot be eternal in the past. There must be some point at which your god began to exist.

        Also, you cannot look forward to an eternity in heaven. If a past infinite cannot exist, neither can a future. At some point your god will have an end.

        You know. If you’re consistent in your “logic.”

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      • KosIf there cannot be an infinite regress, your god cannot be eternal in the past.

        Don: Come on, Kops, when we say that we are talking about the material universe or multiverse, if you like.

        Kos: There must be some point at which your god began to exist.

        Don: The rules of cause and effect are rules in the material universe, but not necessarily so outside the material universe. But just as significant is that this question is non sequitur. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

        Kos: you cannot look forward to an eternity in heaven. If a past infinite cannot exist, neither can a future.

        Don: Actually, we don’t look forward to an eternity in heave. What we look forward to is an eternity in a new heaven and new earth. But your idea is still interesting.

        If the new heaven and earth is new, it does not need to follow the rules of the present universe. In fact, almost every clue we have implies that it will not. But whether an infinite (eternal) future requires an infinite past is not so certain. “Infinity” is usually defined as having no beginning or end. It has no starting point. So, infinity from this point is logically non-sensical.

        But eternal is different. It is logical to say from now on forever. And that is what is meant by the word as used in the Bible.

        So, will God have an end? Not if God is infinite. And though there was no word for infinite such as we have, that is what is implied by the descriptions of God in the Bible.

        However, it seems to me you are trying too hard and straying into logical absurdities.

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    • don: There is a personal creator God.

      😅😂🤣😂🤣

      don: The universe began … as a singularity of undifferentiated matter. That is as simple as it can get.

      An infinitely dense, infinitely hot ball of energy where none of the known laws of physics apply. The thing is we have no idea how such a thing could exist or behave. It is a HUGE unknown. Being a big old unknown, we have no idea if it was immensely simple or immensely complex. Once again, Don, you’re talking out of ignorance.

      don: From that point the universe developed into an extraordinarily complex universe. And that complexity includes us as perhaps the most complex thing in the universe.

      It’s so easy to speak confidently of things you couldn’t possibly know, isn’t it Don? You have no way of knowing where humans sit on a list of complex things in the universe. And it should be noted that simplicity, not complexity, is the hallmark of good design. Also, your superiority complex is showing.

      don: One answer is that it happened largely by chance. But random chance is pressed to the breaking point by the unimaginable number of chance events that must have combined to bring the universe and us to our present state.

      * takes deep breath * I will attempt, one more time, to explain “chance” to you Don. Or, more precisely, probability.

      Probability exists on a scale from 0 to 1. Something with a probability of 0 is impossible while 1 is a certainty. The probability of a person being LGBTQ is about 0.1. Or about 1 in every 10 people.

      We call it “chance” because we don’t have (at present) any way of knowing which 1 in 10 people it will be.

      With the immensity of the universe and the equal immensity of deep time, anything with a non-zero probability will happen. As I’ve said before, it’s an inevitability.

      don: …random chance is pressed to the breaking point by the unimaginable number of chance events…

      The only thing broken here is your imagination. You say it yourself by naming it “unimaginable.”

      don: The other answer is that the universe developed according to the design and power of God. Since we know by experience that complexity is often created out of simplicity by intelligent and capable humans, this option seems the most reasonable.

      There is nothing reasonable in assigning a cause to something that hasn’t been demonstrated to exist. This is defining a god into existence, which is both unreasonable and irrational.

      don: Since we are persons, it is logical that personhood could not come from a source that was not a person with the attributes of personhood including volition.

      This is baffling beyond belief.

      Let’s try it with something a little more concrete than “persons.”

      Since there are dams, it is logical that damhood could not come from a source that was not a dam with the attributes of damhood.

      So we see that only a dam can create another dam.

      Nope. The logic fails completely.

      A dam is an emergent property stuff placed in such a way as to block a flow of water.

      Sure, a dam may be intentionally built by “intelligent designers” such as humans or beavers. But can also occur naturally and unwilled by mud slides or avalanches or debris washed downstream in a storm.

      “Personhood” appears to be an emergent property of the mind, which is itself an emergent property of the brain. I’ve seen personhood in many animals (including humans) I’ve known over the years. Cats, dogs, pigs, cows, horses. Distinct individuals with unique personalities, desires, and emotions. I’ve only seen it in mammals myself. But that could be because I don’t know what to look for in birds and reptiles to identify it.

      don: It is therefore reasonable that a personal God with the ability to design and put in motion the processes that would result in a complex universe inhabited by people

      Nope. It is in no way reasonable or even rational. You’re presupposing your desired outcome and forcing the “facts” into it. And yet again, your superiority complex is showing. Insisting that the universe exists for the sake of humans. There’s nothing reasonable about such an assumption.

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      • Kos: You have no way of knowing where humans sit on a list of complex things in the universe. And it should be noted that simplicity, not complexity, is the hallmark of good design. Also, your superiority complex is showing.

        Don I don’t need to know, but I do know that we are the most complex of all the things we know of.

        You are speaking in relative terms when you say simplicity is the hallmark of simplicity. The thing needs to work and that requires a certain degree of complexity.

        And all that does not inspire a sense of superiority, rather it inspires humility.

        Kos With the immensity of the universe and the equal immensity of deep time, anything with a non-zero probability will happen.

        Don Tell me what zero-probability is.

        Kos There is nothing reasonable in assigning a cause to something that hasn’t been demonstrated to exist.

        Don Apparently you did not follow my discussion of circumstantial evidence. There would be nothing reasonable about assigning a cause to something WE KNOW NOT TO EXIST. But we do not know that God does not exist. Dismissing that possibility amounts to circular reasoning. So, allowing for the possibility of a personal creator God is quite reasonable, and it becomes more and more probable when other explanations fail.

        Kos damhood

        <b.Don Realy, Kos, this is your most absurd reply yet. A dam is a machine. It does what it is created for, generate electricity. A person is not just different in degree but different in kind, even your dog.

        Kos And yet again, your superiority complex is showing. Insisting that the universe exists for the sake of humans. There’s nothing reasonable about such an assumption.

        Don I am not sure I actually said that. If so, let me correct. The universe is an artifact created by God for his pleasure, not for mine. Within the universe there may be many beings who can apprehend God. However, we know of only one such race, ourselves.

        We know also that the universe and in particular the place where we find ourselves is rare at the least and possibly unique and yet is particularly well suited for creatures like ourselves to develop in. You might even say we were highly probable if not inevitable given the fundamental laws and make-up of the universe. (That was Michael Denton’s thesis in Nature’s Destiny and Kenneth Miller’s in Finding Darwin’s God) Though just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is inevitable in a finite universe any more than a series of 1000 heads when we flip a coin.

        So, if the universe has a purpose, and I would argue that it does on the basis of what it produces (just like a dam has a purpose), we are part of that purpose. I think that is as reasonable as your thesis which is that all this is a cosmic crap shoot. That does not make me feel superior. It makes me humble, for I know that I am not here for myself but to bring pleasure to the creator – as is every other thing in the universe. The only difference is I know it.

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    • don: One answer is that it happened largely by chance. But random chance is pressed to the breaking point by the unimaginable number of chance events that must have combined to bring the universe and us to our present state.

      New youtube video out today called “Physicists & Philosophers reply to The Fine Tuning Argument.” ( https://youtu.be/jJ-fj3lqJ6M )

      Includes a great discussion on probability and why you’re wrong.

      From the same people who gave us “Physicists & Philosophers reply to the Kalam Cosmological Argument featuring Penrose, Hawking, Guth.” ( https://youtu.be/pGKe6YzHiME )

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      • Kos, the arguments in the video are all non sequitur and eventually veer off into the absurd. They miss the point, and they digress from the point the further they go.

        God is not a physicist. He is a CREATOR in something of the same way an artist is a creator. And he is personal and volitional. That is, he desires personal relationships with beings whom he has created, and he can choose any means that will produce that. But the idea that God can do anything he wants is actually not valid from a Christian point of view. God establishes constraints by the goals he chooses, and he chooses between means that might accomplish his goals. The result in the video is that the physicists and philosophers create a straw man that they demolish.

        Sean Carroll is a good example. Though God can do whatever God wants as far as the physics of the universe are concerned, God’s objective, from a theological point of view, is to create a universe that works and supports life. Natural processes are not so constrained. They have no goal. They don’t care. If we were talking probabilities, the earth and life as we know it upon it is the least probable result of the natural laws. Look around, how many are there like the earth. If I may use your term, it is at the point of zero-probability. Carroll is simply wrong.

        God must be amused. My reaction is that they have gotten too smart for their pants.
        —————————
        I did like the beans in a jar demonstration. But anyone who has ever paid attention to the sorting that occurs in nature such as sand and rocks in a river or panning for gold knows that two things of different densities and different sizes will not mix naturally. What that actually had to do with the topic is anyone’s guess.

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      • You’re not in a position to cry non sequitur, Don. Remember, this thread began when in response to Kos, you volunteered to provide evidence of God. This, by general consensus, you failed to do. Now you’re speaking of ‘him’, by way of worms and dinosaurs, as if his existence is proven. What’s more, you casually attribute qualities to him that you wish him to have. You are a very long way off being able to do this.

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      • To reiterate, I presented two lines of evidence: indirect evidence from nature and the cosmos and direct evidence from Jesus and God’s still small voice.

        If you are not persuaded by that I am not surprised. There are many who have looked deeply into nature and the cosmos and are not persuaded. There are many who have pored over this as philosophers and are not persuaded. And there are others who are persuaded.

        There were men who saw and heard Jesus and ended up opposing him and his claim to be the Son of God. And others who were so persuaded that they laid down their lives for that “truth.”

        That is a puzzle, isn’t it? So, I think the bigger question than the one we are discussing is WHY. Maybe you have an answer.

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      • How is it a puzzle? Some folk are gullible. There are those still today who are persuaded by religious claims and are willing to die for them (for example, David Koresh’s followers or the 9/11 terrorists). This doesn’t make the religious claims true. It was no different for those convinced by Jesus mumbo jumbo.

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  4. Don wrote (in a comment above without a “reply” option) … It is God’s character. Of course, one wonders how he could possibly know that. Oh wait! I overlooked his next few words … as I understand him. Oh my, my yes! That’s the key! We need to assimilate Don’s understanding! Then we can all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

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    • No one understands God perfectly or fully. So, what I say comes from my understanding. But that comes from over sixty years of walking with God and attending to his voice and listening to others who walk with God. Their experience and mine agree in wonderful ways so that I consider them bosom brothers and sister.

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      • So what a person needs to do is “walk with God” for sixty years plus … and then they’ll FINALLY gain a less-than-perfect understanding of God. Yes? Seems like a pretty big expanse of life to give to understanding something that, in the end, one still doesn’t understand. 🤔

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      • Oh dear. I’m pretty sure I don’t have 60 years left! Besides, I did “try it” for over 15 years before I came to the realization that nothing is there … there.

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  5. Nan: Consider: it wasn’t until “brains” were developed that any kind of “god” entered the picture.

    And look at Don’s god, invented in the Bronze Age, a brutish war god whose only solution to every situation is to kill anyone who disagrees with you. Certainly not an all wise, fatherly figure. But certainly the type of god the Israelites wished had been on their side as they were conquered and occupied by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonian, Persians, and Romans in turn.

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    • I wonder if you have actually read the text. There is no question that God was jealous for his people and the plan of salvation he was planning to bring to completion through them. But to kill everyone who disagreed with you? I don’t see that at all. I do see his protection of them from those who would have destroyed them.

      The example you mention of the oppression of Israel by the Assyrians, Babylonians, etc. demonstrates that God was as determined to prepare his people for the completion of his plan as he was to protect them. And he was successful, btw. Their dalliance with false gods ended.

      And that was an all-wise father’s response to the threat presented by Israel’s enemies. To do otherwise would endanger his children. Would you do that? When it comes to an existential threat to your children, would you not take as strong an action as protection required?

      I have an idea God is still in the business of protecting his people from existential threats. Wouldn’t the destruction of Germany fall into that category? Not only was Germany’s oppression ended but the result was the opening of the land of the Jews to resettlement. Nice, right?

      I wonder whether your obsession-like return again and again to God’s judgement of the enemies of Israel and protection of his people doesn’t have a personal component. I imagine the Babylonians would have similar reactions. Very personal.

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      • And that was an all-wise father’s response ,,, — it’s statements like this that are so off-the-wall. You don’t KNOW what God’s (if he exists) response would be. It is pure speculation influenced by your “60+” years of indoctrination.

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      • In fact, I do KNOW I what God’s response would be. And so does every child of God who pays attention. Examples of his response are everywhere around us.

        In this world there are children of God and enemies of God. That is observable throughout history and quite so today. The enemies of God are enemies of his children as well. Those enemies who act to harm God’s children are in danger of his fierce protection that surrounds those children. That is simply reality both on the level of God’s family but any normal human family. A loving human father will defend his children from harm even if that requires lethal force.

        There is, however, an opportunity open to everyone, even the enemies of God. You, Nan, can become a child of God and enjoy his love and protection. But you know that. You’ve heard it before.

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      • I’m only letting this through because it’s a response to Nan, but it’s proselytising, Don, which I’ve asked you not to do. I will leave it to Nan to reply, but honestly, you do talk some rubbish.

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  6. I just returned from a concert where kids from 4 to 15 played selections from Mozart and Chopin as well as others. I felt moved to revisit Kos’s comment

    Kps ““Equal” is a value judgement. And values are always subjective. And of course how we consider them equal (or not) is subjective.”

    Kos, I recommend you take the time and attend a symphony this holiday season. Any composer will do. Or visit an art museum or read again Les Misérables or Moby Dick.And then come back and say seriously that humans and the other creatures are equal.

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    • Isn’t it the Bible that compares us with worms? Job 25:6 – ‘how much less man, who is but a maggot- a son of man, who is only a worm!’

      Even though the Bible is wrong, as it is about so much, your pointing out that we are so much more creative and intelligent than worms adds nothing to your argument for God.

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      • And … as most of us know … such actions are NOT limited to Don’s contributions. It’s a very common trait among nearly ALL believers as they attempt to defend their faith.

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      • Actually, Kos, I think it is the tendency to read the literature of the Bible in a wooden literal fashion that is at the heart of the problem many here have with understanding the Bible. That may be from your experience with Christian groups that choose a literal reading in every case over figurative. But that is becoming far less common.

        I think unbending literalism is a hermeneutical fault and gets everyone who uses it exclusively into trouble as they try to understand the Bible in the modern world. Pity more do not take literature some time in their life or did not really learn it in high school.

        The irony is that Neil, who is well educated in literature, continues to apply the old extreme fundamentalist interpretive model to what is obviously not in many parts intended to be read literally. Good grief, has he not read poetry? What sense can he make of poetry if he approaches it as he does the poetic parts of the Bible?

        I expect that with people who think as engineers. I do not with people trained in the arts.

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      • So it’s all my misreading. The Bible is metaphorical and figurative. Got it.

        But… isn’t this what I’m saying in the current series of posts? That the gospel writers are creating symbolic myth? That the resurrection, like almost everything else in the gospels, is metaphor? And yet who is the one commenter who disputes this every time? Why, that’d be you Don. The Bible is metaphorical when you say it is, but when I say it is, it isn’t. I’m being too literal or something.

        Which is it, Don? Is the Jesus story symbolic or is it historical? Does it just depend on your argumentative mood? I’m looking to you for some consistency so that I might get it right in future.

        Oh, and you can refrain from the ad hominems. I’m quite capable of analysing fiction. It’s you that takes it all at face value.

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      • Neil, I think you are playing your readers.

        Neil: The Bible is metaphorical when you say it is, but when I say it is, it isn’t and I’m being too literal or something.

        Don:Is that what you taught your students in literature? That whether something is a metaphor or not is a matter of personal opinion? Something is metaphorical when it cannot be understood as literal. That is the usual rule of thumb. But when something can be understood as literal, even though it is unusual, it should be read as literal.

        So, when something like the resurrection is included in a narrative were everything else is literal and where the resurrection is treated as literal by real people in a real world, it should be considered as literal.

        Neil: I’m quite capable of analysing fiction. It’s you that takes it all at face value.

        Don: Metaphors and similes are used in non-fiction just as often as in fiction. We use metaphors in our ordinary conversation.

        But the thing about metaphors wherever they are found is that they represent something else. They enhance our understanding of the other thing by using a picture that is vivid and understandable. So, if the resurrection is a metaphor, what is it a metaphor of?

        But maybe ‘metaphor’ is not the right word. Maybe what you mean is symbol (though the two are similar). If so, what is it a symbol of? And if the Jesus story is a symbol, what is it as symbol of? Or maybe it is an allegory – something like Pilgrim’s Progress. If so, what is it an allegory of?

        I find that the Jesus story including the resurrection is best understood as historical, and it seems the Christians of the first century did as well.

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      • Sarcasm: something else you don’t understand, Don, as you demonstrate in both this response and that to Kos.

        Here’s a metaphor for you to ponder. ‘When an annoying fly doth buzz persistently around thine head, give it a minute or two to fly off; when it doth not, swat it with all thy might and get rid of it.’

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      • Why aren’t histories, biographies, science, and math books written in allegory, metaphor, and song? Because when you’re dealing with facts you don’t want them open to interpretation. The death of the author is a thing. And if you don’t want every Mark, Luke and Matthew reinterpreting what you’ve said, you have to say it plainly, clearly, and literally.

        But the Bible doesn’t deal with facts. So it is written in allegory, metaphor, and song. Symbolism abounds. perhaps specifically to allow the reader to imagine his own Truth™. Is Jesus the only begotten son of God? Maybe. Depends on how you choose to read it.

        Let’s take an allegorical look at a few verses.

        [16] And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “And you, man, take you one stick and write upon it For Judah and for Israel joined to him, and take another stick and write on it ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for the [17] Israelites and all the house of Israel, joined to him. And put them together each to each as a single stick for you, and they shall be one in your hand. (Ezekiel 37:16-17)

        These aren’t verses that came up much (if at all) when I was a Christian, so I had to look up commentary on them. Seems these verses are taken literally. Ezekiel is to get two sticks and write phrases on each and bind them together in a sort of object lesson his audience can remember.

        But let’s allegorize them a bit. Let’s say the sticks are scrolls. Scrolls are wrapped around sticks after all. Not a big leap there. And let’s say the scroll written for Judah is the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament. And the scroll written for Ephraim is another book of scripture written by members of the tribe of Ephraim that were separated from the other tribes. One that made its way to the Americas.

        Bam! We now have a two verse prophecy of the Book of Mormon! And of the Bible and Book of Mormon coming together in the last days!

        Let’s do it again!

        [22] Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: (Genesis 49:22)

        Ephraim is a son (a branch) of Joseph. Some of of whose descendants (more branches) run over the wall (the ocean) to the Americas! Another prophecy of the Book of Mormon!

        One more?

        [16]And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)

        Jesus quotes this verse to the ancient American Hebrews when he visits them after his resurrection. Telling them that he was speaking of them, but his disciples in Jerusalem didn’t understand.

        My god(s)! The Book of Mormon is all over the Bible. If you know how to interpret it correctly. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

        If you had the most important information the world would ever have, would you state it clearly, literally so all could understand. Or, would you couch it in symbolism and imagery that could interpreted in a thousands ways?

        The god of the Bible chose imagery. Creating “a church” that can’t even agree on how salvation is had. The god of the Bible IS the author of confusion. He’s a complete moron.

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      • Kos: Why aren’t histories, biographies, science, and math books written in allegory, metaphor, and song?

        Don: Actually, some histories and biographies, even modern histories, include figurative language. Science and math books are written in technical language. But in fact, the history of the Gospels is not written in figurative language. Jesus uses a lot of figurative language, yes, but is simply speaking in the idiom of the Jewish culture.

        Kos: Ezekiel 37.

        Don: Thew passage is a prophecy foretelling that the two nation s of Judah and Israel will be eventually united as one nation again. It is not an allegory. It is an object lesson. If you had read the rest of the chapter that should have been clear. So yes, they are to be taken literally.

        I do not know nor care what the Book of Mormon says. Stick to the topic.

        Kos: If you had the most important information the world would ever have, would you state it clearly, literally so all could understand.

        Don: Let’s talk the Bible. Jesus used parables, little allegories if you like, to speak truth to people, knowing that there would be some who would not get it. So did Isaiah, btw.

        Why? In some cases, to separate those who had already decided that they did not care what God had to say from those who cared. Those who were seriously interested would press in deeper to know the truth proclaimed.

        Kos: Or, would you couch it in symbolism and imagery that could interpreted in a thousands ways?

        Don: You might. The same principle applies. Those who really desire to know will press in deeper.

        As for “how salvation is had” I don’t think there is as much disagreement as you imply. But the same principle does apply. Those who don’t care will go with the crowd, even when the crowd is wrong. Those who care will go deeper. If you dig dep enough, salvation is had by simply saying yes to God. And continuing to say yes with every new understanding of what God says to you. That is called faith.

        I emphasized “to you” because sometimes we believe what God said to others and how they interpret it when they pass it on to you. We go no deeper, and we don’t seek God’s truth in it. That is riding on someone else’s coattails. It does not matter if those coattails are what our parents told us or what the Pope said. If we want to know, look to God to give us personal understanding. Wait on him, even if it takes a lifetime. That is what Abraham did, and God credited him with righteousness. Even though he had very little understanding beyond that.

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      • kos: Takes way too many words to say that, if you take the Bible allegorically, people can make (and have made) it say whatever they want.

        Don: You need to Bible harder and let God reveal what it all means.

        kos: Can’t help thinking that we just talked about how the Christians threw out everything the Jews had to say about their (the Jews’) holy book in order to co-opt it and reinterpret it to make their (the Christians’) failed messiah the Real Messiah™.

        Which brings me full circle to why I don’t believe anything anyone has to say about god(s). If a god can’t make itself clear why should I have to sort it out?

        If God wants a personal relationship with me, he knows where to find me. Speaking of which, tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and there’ll be a big spread. That open invitation is still open, Jesus. Come on by. We’ll eat. We’ll talk. It’ll be great.

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      • Kos: the Christians threw out everything the Jews had to say about their (the Jews’) holy book in order to co-opt it and reinterpret it to make their (the Christians’) failed messiah the Real Messiah™.

        Don: Except for the thousands and thousands of Jews who did believe the Jewish Messiah that was described in their holy book was Jesus, that he perfectly fit that description. Right?

        Have you forgotten that the first Christians were all Jews?

        Have you forgotten that all the New Testament except perhaps Luke and Acts was written by Jews, several of whom made a very strong case for Jesus being the Jewish Messiah: Hebrews, Revelation, Romans, Mark, Matthew, John.

        Have you missed that Paul and every one of the other Apostles went first to the Jews? The Apostles did not “co-opt” the Old Testament, they completed it.

        It was not for thirty or forty years that the Gentiles began to equal the Jews in numbers of believers in Jesus.

        Kos: I don’t believe anything anyone has to say about god(s). If a god can’t make itself clear why should I have to sort it out?

        Don Well hooray for you. Does that make you the captain of your soul, the decider of your fate? (Insert “Invictus” here. That’s a poem if you don’t know.)

        Kos: If God wants a personal relationship with me, he knows where to find me.

        Don Yes, he does know where to find you. The question is whether you’ll open the door.

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      • It’s impossible to have a personal relationship with someone you don’t know exists.

        God has not made his existence known to me.

        The best conclusion is that God doesn’t want a personal relationship with me. So all the preachers and apologists are wrong about what God wants. I’m left with no reason to believe any of these preachers and apologists on anything they have to say about God.

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      • This idea of being lead by the lord is . . . let’s say . . . interesting.

        If the lord leads one person to Mormonism but leads another to Taoism, that must mean both are equally True™. The “lord” leads people to every religion and belief system in the world. So they all must be True™. Heck, I was led from Christianity to atheism. So atheism must be True™ too!

        Atheism. 100% backed by “the lord!”

        Also, Abraham was wrong. The only correct response when a god or its messenger tells you to sacrifice your child is “F#ck off! God would never demand a human sacrifice.”

        But Abraham knew the God of the Bible was a murderous, bloodthirsty, barbarous god. Human sacrifice was exactly the kind of thing his god would demand. So he said “Sure thing, boss. I’m on it.”

        It’s stories like this that make me thankful that Bible God doesn’t exist.

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      • Two opposites cannot be true. Theism and atheism cannot both be true. both But you know that, right? Otherwise, why are your arguing for atheism and against theism?

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      • As usual you miss the point. Kos is demonstrating how the idea of ‘the Lord’ leading people into belief easily results in opposing positions.

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      • I am going to guess that Kos meant the Abraham and Issaac story.

        Opposing in your judgment, but not God’s. The Abraham and Isaac story is not God leading Abraham to do something immoral but a demonstration that God had another design. You do remember that God stopped Abraham and provided a sacrifice.

        You also ignore the passage in Hebrews where we see the ‘Christian’ understanding of Abraham’s thinking. Abraham did not think God would allow the death of Issaac to stand. He believed God had a solution.

        By faith, Abraham, being tested, offered up Isaac. Yes, he who had gladly received the promises was offering up his one and only son, 18 to whom it was said, “Your offspring will be accounted as from Isaac,” concluding that God is able to raise up even from the dead. (Hebrews 11:18)

        It was a test of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise. So, the correct response was for Abraham to trust God to make all this tun out right.

        Kos’s response is of course expected of someone who thinks he is better, wiser, and more moral than God.

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      • Don: Kos’s response is of course expected of someone who thinks he is better, wiser, and more moral than God.

        Again, you show you don’t understand me or atheism.

        I, and other atheists, do not think I am “better, wiser, and more moral than God.” As God doesn’t exist that would just be silly talk. I, and many other atheists, know I am “better, wiser, and more moral than” the people who created and wrote the biblical stories of God.

        That’s a huge difference. I am free to look at this biblical moral and say, “that’s a good principle,” while looking at that biblical moral and say, “that’s monstrous, that’s frickin’ evil.”

        You on the other had must excuse any evil, any depravity attributed to God in your Big Book of Fairy Tales.

        Freed from my biblical glasses, I am free to call the character God (created by many authors over the years) a moral monster. Thank god(s) the world has moved on, for the most part, from that barbaric book.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To my explaining the difference between God and stories about God, Don sez: Same difference, Kos.

        Which I find both intriguing and disturbing. Mostly disturbing.

        But it explains how preachers can get on the interwebs and claim the most ridiculous things about God and the gullible sheeple lap it up.

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      • No, opposing God or the people of God is the same. Or as in this case, feeling superior to God or the people who speak God’s word is the same. In either case the people of God represent God.

        Of course, people may claim the authority of God improperly, but if a person who dismisses even those without humility are not being respectful of God. It is not gullibility but caution. I have not detected either humility or caution in your remarks.

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      • So c’mon guys, show some respect to God’s appointed representative here. In dissing Don you’re dissing the Lord. Let’s see a lot more emboldened humility and caution. Jeez!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don: No, opposing God or the people of God is the same. Or as in this case, feeling superior to God or the people who speak God’s word is the same. In either case the people of God represent God.

        That’s the Big Scam, isn’t it Don? People claiming unearned respect by claiming to speak for God. But that scam doesn’t work with people who don’t believe in god(s). There is no respect there for the scammers to glom on to.

        Don: Of course, people may claim the authority of God improperly,

        Yes, Don. That’s everybody who ever claimed to speak for any god, ever. They’re everywhere. In books, on TV, on the internet. You can’t swing a cat without hitting someone who claims to speak for some god or other. It’s really getting out of hand.

        Don: but if a person who dismisses even those without humility are not being respectful of God.

        You’re going to have to help me out here, Don. Am I the one “without humility” here or is it the people who “claim the authority of God improperly?”

        I’ll admit that versus God, I do lack humility. It’s the nature of things. God and me, we started out pretty much the same. There at the Big Bang, neither of us existing and all. And we were neck and neck for 13.79 billion years, both non-existant. But then, BAM! a sperm met an egg and I went from not to is. While God was stuck being not. I have to admit, I’ve let that go to head, all humility just gone.

        Don: It is not gullibility but caution.

        I see that now, Don. Nothing requires greater caution than that which does not exist. Anything could happen. That great big non-existent thing could explode without warning! And believe you me, getting non-existent nothing out of your hair is a real pain. You can never really know if you’ve gotten it all.

        Don: I have not detected either humility or caution in your remarks.

        Thank god(s)! I know sometimes you don’t quite grok what I’m trying to say. But I definitely didn’t want to have any humility or caution seeping out in my comments. I’m glad we’re on the same page.

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      • Kos: But that scam doesn’t work with people who don’t believe in god(s). There is no respect there for the scammers to glom on to.

        Don In your mind aren’t all Christians scammers?

        Kos: You’re going to have to help me out here, Don. Am I the one “without humility” here or is it the people who “claim the authority of God improperly?”

        Don : It is both. Christians are not above criticism and even condemnation for their action at times. Certainly, we are not above correction. There are simply some wonky and toxic Christians and fakes who need correction. And there are scammers and fakes who use Christianity to line their own pockets or achieve some position of authority over others. My point, however, is that even these should be corrected in humility. I may be guilty of wonkiness myself. I certainly err in judgment at times (and am embarrassed by it). I need and value correction. But Christians, when I correct, should be correct with caution and humility and with respect for God who is their Lord not me (Romans 14).

        Those who don’t believe in God, of course, have no respect for God or for those who are the children of God nor any humility regarding their position as creatures before their Creator. For that reason, incautiously and arrogantly attacking any and everyone because they identify as a Christian is acting in disrespect for God whether they know it or not. At least as far as God is concerned.

        That does not excuse breaking the law. I have to say that because that is where this sometimes goes in discussion. A Christian scammer who materially harms others is a criminal and should be held accountable under the law just as any other person should be. A ‘Christian or a fake who physically harms people should be held accountable, as well, both before the law and in the church. In fact, I believe more so because of his or her violation of the trust that is accorded those who claim God’s authority or claim to be believers. Though such condemnation by the church should be done through tears.

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      • You’re right. I also get discouraged with the behavior of some. But I know so many exemplary Christians who are living their life for others even to the extent of giving their lives away as Jesus tells us, that they outweigh the bad apples. But I have been blessed to run in those circles where believers are truly following the Lord.

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      • Okay, Don. I’m going to try to explain the situation as calmly as I can with as little azzholery as I can manage.

        A fundamental principle of society is often simplified to “women and children first.” Human society works best when we look after our most vulnerable.

        The proper response of any adult, but especially a leader of any kind, when the safety or wellbeing of a child is at issue is to protect that child at all costs.

        So, when asked to kill a child the proper response is “I would rather burn in Hell for all eternity than harm a child. Any child. Let alone my own child.”

        Abraham fails this test. And the authors of his story in the Bible fail to call him out on it. Instead they make excuses for both him and God who demanded the murder.

        This basic moral failure of the Bible characters and authors is one of the many reasons many of us have for disregarding the book.

        Then, in you trot, Don. Teaching and defending the sociopathic “morals” of the Bible. And when we call you out on it, you demand (demand!) that we show your sociopathic God and his sociopathic fan boys “respect.”

        Sorry, Don. Respect is earned. You sociopathic God and his sociopathic fan boys haven’t earned it. Indeed, they’ve shown themselves to be contemptible, not respectable.

        I hope that clarifies my, and others’ here, response to your posts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • What I find puzzling is that you seem to have invested a lot of emotional coin in a subject you don’t believe ever happened. Do I have that right?

        I mean, you don’t believe God exists. So, no God spoke to Abraham. No God gave a command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Do I have that right?

        You probably don’t believe Abraham existed. So, the story of Abraham and Isaac did not happen. Do I have that right?

        The best you can say about the story is that it is a story. Right? Maybe a myth, which is of course a story. Right?

        So, what is your problem?

        Now from my perspective as a literature nut, a story almost always has a point; they are seldom, especially for the ancients, entertainment. They have a lesson to teach, and that is particularly true of the stories collected in the Bible. So, what is the meaning of the story and what is it about the meaning of the story you object to?

        If I were teaching a lit. class and this story was one of the selections, I would encourage my students to understand the story in the context of the time and place in which it was written BEFORE applying any modern interpretation and judging it according to modern standards. I mean you would do that for the Iliad, right? Could you do that. Could you think as a first reader? Try it.

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      • Kos, as you are cogitating on this topic, I refer you to the several websites that document child sacrifices in ancient cultures, including the Canaanites. How would that cultural environment affect the understanding of the Abraham and Isaac story?

        I can’t pass by the equally horrific murder of children in our own culture. About 600,000 children a year in America are sacrificed on the altar hoping for a better life without them. So, unless you repudiate the practice of abortion in our culture, I hardly think you have anything to complain about in the Abraham and Isaac story.

        You do remember that God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. Is that a statement of some kind, do you think?

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      • Let’s imagine a dad with a little girl who wants a puppy. She’s always wanted a puppy.

        One day the dad finally gives the little girl a puppy. She’s so happy! She feeds it. She walks it. She cleans up after it. She bathes it. She diligently teaches it how to behave and obey basic commands. She loves it with all her heart.

        Then, when the puppy was about half way grown into its paws and ears, the dad comes to the little girl again and tells her she must now kill her puppy. He tells her to go fill the bathtub with water and she is to hold the puppy under the water with her bare hands until it stops moving completely.

        The girl fills the tub, hugs the puppy goodbye, lifts it into the water when the dad says, “Just kidding! You don’t have to kill the puppy. Kill this kitty instead.” The puppy lives and the little girl drowns the kitty instead.

        A heartwarming story about a loving family, right? Frack no! The dad is a monster. He is evil. He’s inflicted emotional scares on that child that will last her lifetime. The dad is seriously mentally ill and he’s spreading that illness to his daughter.

        There is nothing in the Binding of Isaac that is inspiring or even normal. It is seriously fracked up. Proving again that the God character is evil to the core.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Don sez it’s okay for Abraham to kill his son, because he knew God could raise his dead son from the dead.

        So this woman is to be praised for her faith! Praise Jesus!

        God told me to kill boys, says mother

        A Texas woman who stoned two of her children to death and seriously injured a third on Mother’s Day last year told psychiatrists she was driven to kill by a message from God and that she was sure they would rise again from the dead.

        “I felt like I obeyed God and I believe there will be good out of this,” she explained in the interview, looking wide-eyed and sometimes smiling. “I feel like he will reveal his power and they will be raised up. They will become alive again.”

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/god-told-me-to-kill-boys-says-mother-54427.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • Curious … at the time of Abraham’s tête-à-tête with Yahweh about his kid, had there been any other folks who had died and been returned to life? Seems to me that Don’s reference to the passage in Hebrews wouldn’t count since it was a theory advanced a considerable number of years later.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nan, I was going to point out that the concept of resurrection is a late development in Judaism. As in 200 BCE and later. Abraham would not have had any conception of God raising people from the dead.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I could post these all day, every day, If I wanted to take the time.

        These people are mentally ill.

        Leading to the conclusion that Abraham was also mentally ill. Or God was. Or both.

        Psychiatrist: Woman believed God told her to kill her son

        A woman won’t face criminal charges in the 2017 stabbing death of her 5-year-old son and attack on her husband after a judge declared her legally insane on Monday.

        https://www.wral.com/psychiatrist-woman-believed-god-told-her-to-kill-her-son/18972799/

        Mom accused of letting son kill daughter, says God told him to do it

        https://cbs4indy.com/news/mom-faces-murder-charge-blames-god-for-childs-death/

        ‘God’ told mother to kill her child

        https://caymannewsservice.com/2016/03/god-told-mother-to-kill-her-child/

        Mom who killed her 2 kids as part of ‘God’s plan’ gets 120 years

        A Connecticut woman convicted of killing her two children saying it was God’s plan was sentenced to 120 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

        https://nypost.com/2019/06/28/mom-who-killed-her-2-kids-as-part-of-gods-plan-gets-120-years/

        Like

      • The Holy Spirit witnesses to contradictory things ALL THE DING DONG TIME. So why not to both theism AND atheism?

        I’ll hang this here one more time in the hopes it will sink in:

        Liked by 1 person

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