Apologist Michael Licona “Outs” Atheist Critic

Image result for image of mike licona

Evangelical Christian apologist Michael Licona is pissed.

Licona was recently invited to author a series of guest posts on Bart Ehrman’s blog regarding the inspiration and inerracy of the Christian holy book, the Bible.  In the comment section below Licona’s guest posts, an atheist asked Licona if he believes that a spirit (the Holy Spirit) lives inside his body and communicates secret truths to him, including the truth of the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  (This concept is known in evangelical circles as “the Testimony of the Holy Spirit“.)

Licona hemmed and hawed.

At first Licona characterized the skeptic’s description of the “Testimony of the Holy Spirit” as a false “stereotype”.  But when the atheist persisted, repeating the question over and over again, Licona finally gave a (dishonest) answer:

Atheist:  Dear Dr. Licona, Is it true that since you were ten years old (the age of your conversion to Christianity), you have believed that the spirit (ghost) of an executed first century man (Jesus of Nazareth) lives inside your body and communicates with you in some fashion, “testifying” to you that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is an historical fact?

Michael Licona: No.

The atheist pointed out that on Dr. Licona’s Facebook page, Licona states that the testimony of the Holy Spirit is “essential” for someone to believe in Jesus as his resurrected Savior! Why the discrepancy, Dr. Licona???

The atheist then copied and pasted this interchange and posted it on several evangelical Christian websites to see the reaction of evangelicals to Licona’s prevarication on the evangelical teaching of the Testimony of the Holy Spirit.  Evangelicals began calling and emailing Licona asking for an explanation.

Licona was furious!

Licona then divulged the full name of the atheist; details about his business/profession; and his geographical location on both Bart Ehrman’s blog and Licona’s own Facebook page—giving enough information for any right-wing nut job to locate the atheist at his place of business with one click of the mouse.

Such are the tactics and behavior of the followers of Jesus!

 

Update:  Bart Ehrman has deleted the atheist’s personal info from Licona’s comments.  Licona had steadfastly refused to apologize to the atheist for his “doxing” or delete the atheist’s personal information himself, even though the atheist had requested he do so.

 

 

 

Image result for doxing

Doxxing: What Is It And How To Avoid Being A Victim [Infographic]

 

 

End of post.

93 thoughts on “Apologist Michael Licona “Outs” Atheist Critic

  1. A harsh lesson about apologists. Forcing someone to admit publicly that they have been lying to themselves, to expose their hypocrisy, could really be seen as a personal attack. It certainly goes to the root of who apologists think they are, or who they claim to be. And then you followed up by exposing his hypocrisy to his tribemates. I’m not surprised at someone lashing out in response to that, and he had no other way to attack you.

    If you try this again, I’d recommend using a pseudonym, and never letting them have your real name or email.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If a blog owner has your email address and IP address, there are ways to find out your personal info. Every time someone comments on this blog or any other, the blog owner can see the email address you are using. Be advised if your email includes your real name!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve had this done to me too Gary recently by a fanatical Christian (militant?) zealot acting as a comedian: John Branyan at https://johnbranyan.com/ Ironic, their behavior and thus “testimony” are no different than ISIS/ISIL, Klu Klux Klan or Aryan disciples, Boko Haram, New People’s Army in the Philippines, etc. Though Licona and Branyan are not lethal threats (yet?), they do stoke the coals/embers of hostility—this IS willingly playing with fire. Again, is it Christ-like? Hmmmm.

        Perhaps this was Bart Ehrman’s fear… being passive with Licona? Maybe? It is a legitimate concern for Secularists and Atheists. 🙂

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        1. Branyan has been banned from this blog for similar behavior. I welcome opposing views and criticisms of my positions, but do not tolerate personal, denigrating attacks toward other blog commenters or myself.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. And THAT democratic style of Netiquette Gary—not to mention just simple common decency!—should be modeled and implemented everywhere, not just on the internet. Unfortunately, being so wide open and easily accessible, the internet is a double-edged razor, is it not? :/ But that is indeed the paradox of TRUE freedom, liberty, and democracy—with a fluctuating, fluid forms of responsibility/accountability. No matter, we must endure. 🙂

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  2. Very unfortunate—and glaringly UN-Christ-like—this happened Gary. Licona’s behavior certainly demonstrates what length embarrassed, hyper-pigheaded (tricked) Apologists will go to in order to save face publicly, as Ubi above pointed out. I would need a calculator with 20-digits to add-up all the times Christians or Xian Apologists retaliated on me with similar fury and personal slanders.

    It’s sad when it reaches that point—especially too quickly—because our scrutiny, questions, and exposing the fallacies and maligned history of the Christian origins and “Holy” Bible are NOT personal attacks at all. They are simply directed onto the bulls-eyes of 1) c. 515 BCE to 70-73 CE, then from 70 CE to 787 CE at the end of the 2nd Council of Nicaea, and 2) the formation of the Canonical New Testament out of that geographic, sociopolitical, polarized sectarian religiosity, of battling Jewish Messianism within that portion of the Roman Empire. Period. WHY stubborn (foolish?) Apologists won’t equitably study and research NON-Christian sources, evidence, historicity, etc, boggles the mind… unless Ubi is spot on: to save face at all costs.

    Oh well, when modern, intelligent people believe that a woman can be impregnated (raped?) by a Ghost or divine being then give birth to a pseudo or demi-god or non-hybrid God, 🤣 then as a mental-illness it does make better sense. I’ve spent years working in the field of Psych/A&D and believe me, the human brain and neurology is capable of the most BIZARRE interpretations and perceptions of reality never imagined!!! THAT you can take as Gospel. 😉

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  3. It’s very difficult to evaluate your testimony as an honest broker, seeing you go out of your way to provoke and then claim victim status.

    You willfully mischaracterize and intentionally malign virtually everything you disagree with, (a most disagreeable behavior itself,) and then hold up your hands as though you couldn’t have done anything wrong.

    You decry retaliative behavior but on what grounds? If we are nothing more than animals, and you hate the morality you claim theists uphold, then this “law of the jungle” should not only be unsurprising, it should be highly preferable, according to your view.

    If you insist on holding theists to their book, what book do you use to judge them by?

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    1. I don’t see copying and pasting Licona’s denial of the Holy Spirit on Christian websites as equivalent with Licona placing my personal info on the world wide web to potentially endanger my safety and that of my employees.

      If you do, you must be a right-wing Trumper, and as everyone knows, it is impossible to reason with Trumpers, so I will not try.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…unless they are atheists—then do whatever the hell you want to them!the evangelical Christian Golden Rule

          I realize that Christians like yourself believe that without your imaginary deity in the sky there is no right or wrong; that atheists have no business appealing to any form of morality; but I am not interested in debating you on that topic. Are you going to answer my question?

          If you are 100% certain that Christianity is true based on your personal perceptions (of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in your heart) and someone of another religion is 100% certain that their religion is true based on their personal perceptions, how can a neutral observer determine which of you is correct?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Gary, your last question (“how can a neutral observer determine which of you is correct?”) is excellent! Notice, however, that it is not answered.

            Christians are simply unable to answer such a question and must instead revert to their own “belief” and “personal” experiences.

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            1. Very true. I’ve learned to avoid specifying the “other” religion, or I will get a lecture about the historical evidence against that religion. Dear Christian: I asked you about your subjective perceptions about your faith and asked how a neutral observer can know that your subjective perceptions are more trustworthy than the subjective perceptions of someone from another faith.

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    2. You never answered my question, RC: If you are 100% certain that Christianity is true based on your personal perceptions (of the testimony of the Holy Spirit in your heart) and someone of another religion is 100% certain that their religion is true based on their personal perceptions, how can a neutral observer determine which of you is correct?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It depends on what standard you use.

        If you think we’re all animals, then no discernment is necessary. Dogs eating dogs could hardly care about anything past their bellies, so who cares?

        But if we are higher beings with an inborn sense of morality, (which is an evidence of an accountability to something beyond ourselves,) then inquiry into it’s source is meaningful, (i.e. “which god?”)

        Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christian belief. Who He is, what He did, and the totality of His desires can be compared to that inborn moral standard; “He that has an ear, let him hear.”

        The objective, historical facts that undergird everything about the Christian faith – His perfect life, crucifixion and burial, and third day resurrection – do not require a subjective appeal, (irregardless of a person’s degree of certainty.)

        The objective testimony found in the Bible stands on its own, independent of anyone’s subjective opinion of it.

        But if that belief comes along with a changed life, (however incomplete,) then the objective combined with the subjective is how truth can be meaningfully discerned.

        “When you seek after me with all your heart, then will you find me.”

        Does this help you?

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            1. Do you believe that someone can come to believe in Jesus as their resurrected Lord and Savior without the assistance of the Holy Spirit in his or her heart?

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        1. Here is the bottom line, RC: If you are 100% sure of the presence of Jesus within you, then why do you and so many other Christians appeal to historical evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection? Does the Holy Spirit need assistance in convincing people of the truth?? Why don’t Christians simply pray for the Holy Spirit to convince skeptics instead of debating historical evidence with them??

          Doesn’t all this indicate that your perceptions of a presence within you are not 100% convincing, after all??

          Liked by 2 people

          1. The objective teachings in the Bible match up with my subjective experiences, so there is no discrepancies between them.

            If what I experience or believe does not match up with the Bible, (Ranters,) it is suspect and potentially heretical. This is why the Bible is pillar and ground of the truth.

            The same way, if the Bible describes something that I am not experiencing, (being born again,) then I have to question whether I am in obedience to the Bible’s teachings.

            Instead of focusing on subjective experiences as the ground for the truth, (which is heretical,) look to the actual teachings of the Bible and whether you are in obedience to them. (Ye must be born again.)

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            1. So you are saying that the testimony of the Holy Spirit (in one’s heart) is not in and of itself sufficient for one to believe in the resurrected Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior??

              Liked by 1 person

              1. How would someone know to believe in the resurrection of Jesus without objectively hearing about it?

                “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

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        2. @ RC

          The objective, historical facts that undergird everything about the Christian faith

          This is a statement that demands to be supported, and if one were a neutral observer they would expect you to do so.
          Therefore, RC provide evidence to back your claim, otherwise your case is a failure..

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Not at all. I’m born again based on my obeying the terms of the Gospel, (re: repentance unto God and faith unto the Lord Jesus Christ,) which is specifically prescribed in the Bible, (John 3:3,) so the two are self-authenticating.

            It’s when someone DOESN’T obey the Gospel from the heart, (and interprets the terms as, “I’ll really try harder now,”) to which God doesn’t respond, and a supposed rift between the subjective and the objective is perceived.

            All anyone can say is that that person didn’t actually comply with the terms, (under which God is under no compunction to honor,) and stands in stark contrast to all the millions who HAVE obeyed it and have received the salvation of Jesus Christ.

            The failure is entirely in the hands of the disobeyer.

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                  1. I’m sorry. You ask these open ended questions, as though you were genuinely interested in information, but then turn around and become abusive if someone gives you answers.

                    Is there honestly any reason why someone should give you any respect for your behavior?

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                    1. Because you are the epitome of the theological two step artist and think you can hop on to a site like this as if you are the first Born Again wunderkind to spew forth your New Found Fundamentalist drivel.
                      If you had an ounce of integrity you would ditch the rhetoric, and offer up the historical facts you claim exist.

                      I say you are a fraud, another of life’s whiners who claim that ”Jesus Save Me”.
                      So, as the saying goes, ”Put up or Push Off.”

                      The Historical Facts if you please.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    1. I have a sneaking suspicion that RC is really Mike Licona’s Mother-in-law in disguise who is here to because you hurt his feelings even more than the late Norman Geisler.
                      Pee Ess – Ironic the initials(RC) are the same as those folk who say ”Dominoes,Pasties and Sanctions” and wear long dresses and funny hats.

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    3. For Reasonable Conservative —

      If you insist on holding theists to their book, what book do you use to judge them by?

      I find this question to Gary to be very peculiar. I could be mistaken, but it implicitly hints of some universal, absolute accounting (if you will) of only Debits or Credits, or Black and White… nothing in between, nothing grey or To Be Determined Later. For example, why did you choose to use the word “book,” singular tense, when 99% of Atheists, Secularists, Humanists, and Freethinkers would NEVER use such hyper-constrictions of Agnotology. Strange choice of framing RC.

      For us, and maybe Gary too (though I cannot speak 100% for him) would not posture “judgement/judging” in that way. For Freethinking Humanists like myself would broadly define the context of discerning, assessing, evaluating human activity, governing, or positions regarding laws, morality, ethics, truth to be formed on the basis of evidence, logic, and reason, by a majority consensus by a panel of established, reputable, meritorious experts, rather than a supreme singular authority, tradition, or other dogmas that the Abrahamic religions adhere to and try to intrude upon/force onto others—the latter less so with Judaism.

      Also, I hope you spend more equitable time getting to know and understand Gary and other non-Christians in a polite, patient, productively engaging method. In the end, we are all simply human beings from planet Earth, each with valuable unique gifts, talents, skills, knowledge, ingenuity, and several virtues to share and help others. Many times life is just THAT simple. 🙂

      Best regards RC.

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      1. The term “book” may be metaphorical, but the moral standard you are using to judge has:

        A source, (where does it come from?)
        A definition, (what are it’s boundaries?)
        An authority, (“How does it apply to anyone but yourself?”)

        That’s as complex as this issue needs to be. Can you answer any of these?

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        1. Yes, I can actually. Thank you kindly for asking RC. Before jumping right in I want to comment on the first-half of your intriguing opening sentence, or rather vague, ambiguous sentence:

          The term “book” may be metaphorical…

          The word metaphor (in the Cambridge Dictionary) is defined as “an expression, often found in literature, that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics to that person or object.” Some synonyms for metaphor are allusion and likeness, of course, but also fable or hyperbole to name only four synonyms. “Metaphor” has a variety of meanings for people’s subjective interpretations and uses. Interesting that you are now using MY initial device and description of your choice of words “book,” singular, as a mental image: in a huge, multi-story library with completely empty shelves, but only one single book. We both know this expression, definition does NOT reflect reality, i.e. the realities of human existence and/or the natural world is a massive, fluid (i.e. perpetually expanding and shrinking) Library of Congress, if you will.

          Then you make our dialogue about “one book” more complicated or ambiguous by adding the word/condition “may”—may be metaphorical—expressing a possibility based on an unfulfilled condition. I found this usage VERY surprising from you given what you are attempting to defend. Yet, nowhere here on Gary’s blog and these comments nor in your opening comment have you precisely defined WHAT it is you are defending. Is it Michael Licona or someone/something else? I can presume to make a guess on what you are defending, but then to do that both parties must be highly articulate about their positions of defense… or offense for that matter. 😄

          …but the moral standard you are using to judge

          Are you referring to my comment-reply above to you, other topics, facts, behavior about me you’ve experienced, or something more general, metaphorical? I ask because this second-half of your opening sentence assumes (intimate?) knowledge of me, after only ONE comment! If this is the case, then I must say you are being extremely presumptuous. I’d kindly suggest you ask many, MANY more questions of me, open-ended questions, to allow ME to speak to or define my “judging” methods rather than put words in my mouth. Nonetheless, I’ll overlook this/your audaciousness and indulge you with these three questions. My answers will essentially be further elaborations of what I’ve stated to you above and who/what a Freethinking Humanist most often believes.

          A source, (where does it come from?)

          Quick answer? Reality. Freethinkers are naturalistic. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds with reality. Reality is limited to that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason. This reasoning is best kept as accurate as possible by a consensus majority, possibly near neck-n-neck by the minority. The greater the number of experts, affirmed and opposed, the greater the accuracy of this hedging tool.

          Reason is a tool of critical thought that limits the truth of a statement according to the strict tests of the scientific method. For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad-hominem character attacks?).

          A definition, (what are it’s boundaries?)

          See previous answer.

          An authority, (“How does it apply to anyone but yourself?”)

          Quick explanation/answer: Authority is found in various forms, various circumstances, and various implementations. Regarding morality and the “judging” or forming of higher morality?

          There is no great mystery to morality. Most freethinkers employ the simple yardsticks of reason and kindness. As author Barbara Walker notes: “What is moral is simply what does not hurt others. Kindness… sums up everything.” Most Freethinkers are Humanists, basing morality on human needs, not imagined “cosmic absolutes.” This also embraces a respect for our planet, including the other animals, and feminist principles of equality.

          Moral dilemmas involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason (as partially defined above) to weigh the outcomes. Freethinkers argue that religion promotes a dangerous and inadequate “morality” based on blind obedience, unexamined ultimatums, and “pie-in-the-sky” rewards of heaven or gruesome threats of hell. Freethinkers try to base actions on their consequences to real, living human beings in the present life.

          There it is RC, as simple as it all needs to be. 🙂

          Best regards to you and enjoy your weekend.

          Like

          1. I do believe this particular diatribe might, quite truthfully, be the most self-absorbed and long-winded expulsion of hot air ever bloviated in the entire history of mankind.

            Congratulations, Professor Taboo. [censored]

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          2. Hi Prof,

            I personally don’t read comments, here or on someone else’s blog, any longer than two or three short paragraphs. I think people would engage with you more frequently with shorter, more concise comments. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Thank you for the suggestion Gary. 🙂

              I do understand why you kindly recommend shorter, concise comments. Other bloggers have suggested the same. I have never been a Pulitzer Prize winning writer/author. 😉 I appreciate your idea to invite possibly more engaging bloggers to my comments. However, I’m not concerned with whether anyone responds, engages or not.

              Unfortunately, this subject of the Holy Spirit, Trinitarianism, the purpose of Christ’s death and “claimed” resurrection, and the source(s) of it all, are not quick, fly-by-night, easily understood theology/concepts covered in 5-10 minutes or in 100-words. A good analogy of this social-media misnomer/dilemma is that one cannot expect 6th graders (or adults?) to understand/use mathematical calculus without first understanding and adequately applying the prior 15-levels of mathematics of which calculus is built upon.

              If I may be more specific and straight to the jugular of Christianity, 98% of modern professing Christians can correctly state that Jesus was a Jew and maybe 1-3 more general trivial traits about him, but REMARKABLY they cannot tell you factually or plausibly anything else about his authentic historical Jewish background of which his Jewish sect descends. This authentic context is paramount to fully understanding the man Yeshua bar Yose. and what he most likely taught and wished reformed.

              Therefore, I politely and respectfully decline your good suggestion Sir. I will borrow a familiar Christian parable to explain:

              Staying only on shallow, diluted milk your entire life, one can never digest the meat, bone, or marrow of these topics. (Heb 5:13 and 1 Cor 3:2)

              P.S. Thank you also Gary for addressing Dead Atheist’s useless comment. 😉

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              1. I can understand in part where you are coming from Taboo
                It’s true. Many of these issues are more complex. Volumes have been written. It can be difficult to adequately respond in a few sentences across a blog. We can only do our best.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. HEAR HEAR Becky! (holds his glass up in salute) 😉

                  We can only do our best.” Indeed, and stop being LAZY with the available, exhaustive, independent (i.e. non-Xian) sources, evidence, and full historical context of the subject(s) in question! IOW, who ever would want to listen strictly to musical nursery rhymes all their life when so SO MANY other exquisite, inspiring music genres are out there!? ❤

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                1. Yes, of course. I will do my best Gary, thank you. And I do appreciate your patience and professionalism in this. It is not unnoticed.

                  If it’s any consolation, I am taking a writing class at university to improve and refine my average skills. This will help… for all of us, huh? 😄

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Your comment about the class reminded me that MANY years ago, I had a writing teacher “discuss” with me my OVER abundant use of words and phrases. It took me awhile, but I finally learned that less is (often) more. Hope your writing class produces the same results. 😊

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. I too was accused of being long-winded in my comments on Ehrman’s blog so I sympathize with Prof. Taboo. If you feel strongly about a topic, you want to give it your best defense. But if you overwhelm the reader with too much info, they will simply stop reading. I personally never read comments, here or on other blogs, that are five or more paragraphs so I should follow my own advice. 🙂

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. Hahahaha! I’m afraid to ask “HOW long” it took Nan. 😬 You and some others have given me some great tips and suggestions. I appreciate that. Hopefully old Father-time doesn’t catch me too soon as I run from him… slower and slower each year it seems. 🙃

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          3. “Your opening sentence assumes (intimate?) knowledge of me, after only ONE comment! If this is the case, then I must say you are being extremely presumptuous.”

            You have held my behavior in comparison to a moral standard. Where did you get it, why it is authoritative, and why do you assume it applies to me?

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            1. No, I was addressing the fact that you used the word “book” (singular) rather than many other forms of someone or a group being evaluated, scrutinized, or judged. Then I also chose to address your use of an ambiguous word “metaphorical.”

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                1. RC,

                  Out of courtesy I’ve read and reread my first two comment-replies made to you to find where I may have “made a moral judgment on your behavior.” I did not find anywhere where I explicitly (or implicitly) judged you.

                  Now, I DID indeed pick out your mistake(s) in how you were framing non-Christians on the subject of morality. You wrongly projected on to us some imaginary, single non-Christian book. Again, not to belabor your fixation with judging and its origins, but I was pointing out your stereotyping of non-Christians, especially if you were presuming there was one universal methodology, one book, or Monistic ideology to establish world-wide morality. We Secularists, non-Theists, Humanists, Atheists, etc, do not hold to or live by such a mentality… for MANY accumulating, soundly reasoned, empirically supported, and epistomologically supported grounds.

                  If this final explanation does not suffice or satisfy your inquiry, your quest, then I’m sorry. You’ve somehow misunderstood my first two correcting/suggesting comments to you. At this point I’ve tried my best to clarify for you. I will not continue.

                  Enjoy the remainder of your weekend RC.

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                    1. Good question RC. I gave you a few in my comments. I suggest you go discover, equitably study and understand ALL the known available standards in the world. In the end you’ll find there is no such thing as black-or-white, or Monism.

                      Enjoy your weekend.

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                    2. If no black and white, exactly how wrong was I, and what difference does it make? (Are you sure you understand this stuff well enough?)

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                    3. Geezzz, I’m trying to be patient and as explicit for you as possible RC! “Exactly how wrong was I?” 🙄 PLEASE try and focus on and comprehend exactly what I’ve already stated from above in my initial comment then following comment. Here they are:

                      For example, why did you choose to use the word “book,” singular tense, when 99% of Atheists, Secularists, Humanists, and Freethinkers would NEVER use such hyper-constrictions of Agnotology. […]

                      For us, and maybe Gary too (though I cannot speak 100% for him) would not posture “judgement/judging” in that way. For Freethinking Humanists like myself we would broadly define the context of discerning, assessing, evaluating human activity, governing, or positions regarding laws, morality, ethics, truth to be formed on the basis of evidence, logic, and reason, by a majority consensus by a panel of established, reputable, meritorious experts, rather than a supreme singular authority [one book], tradition, or other dogmas…

                      And then in my 2nd reply to you:

                      Quick answer? Reality. Freethinkers are naturalistic. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds with reality. Reality is limited to that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason. This reasoning is best kept as accurate as possible by a consensus majority, possibly near neck-n-neck by the minority. The greater the number of experts, affirmed and opposed, the greater the accuracy of this hedging tool.

                      Reason is a tool of critical thought that limits the truth of a statement according to the strict tests of the scientific method. For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what evidence or repeatable experiments confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions, non sequiturs, or irrelevant ad-hominem character attacks?).

                      Then regarding “authority”…

                      Authority is found in various forms, various circumstances, and various implementations. Regarding morality and the “judging” or forming of higher morality?

                      There is no great mystery to morality. Most freethinkers employ the simple yardsticks of reason and kindness. As author Barbara Walker notes: “What is moral is simply what does not hurt others. Kindness… sums up everything.” Most freethinkers are humanists, basing morality on human needs, not imagined “cosmic absolutes.” This also embraces a respect for our planet, including the other animals, and feminist principles of equality.

                      Moral dilemmas involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason (as partially defined above) to weigh the outcomes. Freethinkers argue that religion promotes a dangerous and inadequate “morality” based on blind obedience, unexamined ultimatums, and “pie-in-the-sky” rewards of heaven or gruesome threats of hell. Freethinkers try to base actions on their consequences to real, living human beings in the present life.

                      All of this was to clearly explain to you that your stereotyping of Atheists, non-Theists, Secularists, Humanists, etc, about morality and judgment was mistaken. It is really that simple! I corrected your mistake about us. That was not a judgment, as YOU define it.

                      And so to be final with you RC while remaining polite, after FOUR courteous clarifications now I’ll reiterate what I stated to you earlier: “At this point I’ve tried my best to clarify for you” my FIRST two comments. Accept my above answers/replies, whether you like them or not. “I will not continue this merry-go-round with you.” Should you persist on this I will ignore you. Let’s not turn this into unnecessary harassment. Thank you in advance.

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  4. Nan, maybe I need to give this more thought, but I can’t see that a neutral observer could make an accurate determination. It seems to me that each person needs to examine the historical evidence and also seek God for themselves. How we can simply rely on the subjective perceptions of others?

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    1. That’s correct, Becky. a a neutral observer (bystander) could not determine which belief/religion is correct simply based on the testimony of two different individuals.

      But then you took it to the next step — and I don’t think this was the point of Gary’s question.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think someone could examine the historical evidence and become persuaded of the truth of the resurrection of Christ. So in an objective intellectual sense, they might “believe.” But, I think to believe in the way of actually trusting Christ as Saviour and then following Him as Lord also requires the work of God. To put this in another way, it might depend on how we define what it means to “believe.” But, what do you think? When you were a Christian, how would you respond to this question?

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        1. I think someone could examine the historical evidence and become persuaded of the truth of the resurrection of Christ.

          Only if they do not do a thorough examination and ask too few questions. This is unfortunately what I did at the age of 20 surrounded by a college campus of 95% Christians. Eleven plus years later while discussing Christianity and its Canonical New Testament with a dear friend from Kashmir, Pakistan, he asked me one simple question that ultimately collapsed and dilapidated the entire veracity and reliability of the New and Old Testaments.

          I am so VERY grateful for him for doing that!!! He is still a very dear friend. 🙂

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        2. I think someone could examine the historical evidence …

          Seriously, how many times must this be explained to you, Becky? There is no damn evidence for the resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth. .
          You are either not paying attention and have a serous blind-spot in this regard or you continue to ”play dumb” in the hope that we simply won’t notice,

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  5. “There is no damn evidence for the resurrection of the character Jesus of Nazareth.”

    This is true. There is no evidence at all of the resurrection itself. It is also true that there is no evidence that the disciples hallucinated, or that Jesus’ tomb had been mistakenly identified, or that Jesus “swooned” on the cross and wasn’t dead at all. There is absolutely no evidence for any “alternate theories” as to what happened.

    What did happen? Jesus was crucified. That’s about as far as “history” goes. And even mythologists say that didn’t happen. But, then, they cannot explain what happened next, which was this: By 36CE, Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the followers of “The Way”. And, in that same year, Saul himself determined somehow that Jesus had been resurrected.

    [ Paul’s conversion is usually dated between 33CE and 36CE. I use 36CE because the Book of Acts, which may or may not be accurate on this point, puts Paul’s conversion in the reign of the high priest Ananus (which was Joseph ben Ananus), who served only one year, which was 36CE)

    But, whether one uses the range (33-36) or tries to nail it down more tightly to 36CE, it still begs the question: What happened that would cause followers of The Way to start saying Jesus had been resurrected?

    Did they make it up? Was it hallucination? Did Jesus swoon? (and so on, with alternate theories) Or was he resurrected?

    There is no evidence for any of these theories – either that put forth by Christians, or the alternate theories put forth (presumably) by non-Christians.

    One must reconstruct what one thinks actually happened. That goes for us atheists / skeptics as well as for historians, whether Christian or not.

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    1. One can reconstruct from the earliest evidence that they believed Jesus “was raised” and that he “appeared.” The problem is the appearance to Paul was some sort of “revelation” while Jesus was believed to be located in heaven – Gal. 1:12-16. He makes no distinction between what “appeared” to him and what “appeared” to the others in the list of 1 Cor 15:5-8. Thus, it seems most plausible to read the creed as all of the appearances coming from heaven like Paul’s did (since no distinction is made). Paul gives no evidence of a physically resurrected Jesus walking around the earth or of a separate and distinct ascension. Those stories develop later in the sources which are not firsthand and each one grows in the telling in regards to how the “Risen Jesus” is experienced.

      So the evidence is consistent with legendary tales that originally grew out of a spiritual belief that Jesus was up in heaven “appearing” to people.

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      1. I used to actually believe that theory myself. But, it doesn’t answer the question “what was Saul persecuting”? Because, in Judaism, a belief in some type of “symbolic” or “spiritual” resurrection, while not being “mainstream”, is not anything other Jews would be inclined to violently reject. It is just a “belief about the afterlife”, like believing in no afterlife at all, or no resurrection at all (like the Sadducees), or “survival of the soul” or even reincarnation – all of which are acceptable in Judaism (though, not without theological debate).

        A mystical, spiritual-only resurrection claim would be grounds for debate, but that’s all. It is not, in any way, grounds for “persecution”.

        I discarded this theory a long time ago, because it cannot explain Saul’s persecution.

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        1. How do we know that Paul ever persecuted one single Christian?? All such stories may have come from the same source: Paul.

          There are many, many assumptions in the Christian belief system. Assuming that Paul was mentally healthy is one of them.

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        2. “By 36CE, Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the followers of “The Way”. And, in that same year, Saul himself determined somehow that Jesus had been resurrected.”

          a:
          did he speak to women witnesses?
          b:
          did he speak to joseph of arimatea?
          c:
          did he discover an empty tomb which was not really empty, because mark says an unknown man was in the tomb and later on matthew came along and made the tomb COMPLETELY empty by having the angel come down, role the stone away and invite the women to come in the tomb.

          christians could have experiences does not tell us that a-c was known to them.

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        3. Does Paul ever say he persecuted Christians precisely because they preached the physical Resurrection of a single individual?

          It seems to me there could be other reasons for persecution such as violating/not following Jewish law or viewing Christians as a novel cult that was considered to be a perversion of Judaism. That would explain the persecution right there.

          In fact, aside from a claim in Acts, there is no source that says Christians were persecuted precisely for believing an individual had been resurrected.

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    2. “By 36CE, Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the followers of “The Way”. And, in that same year, Saul himself determined somehow that Jesus had been resurrected.”

      You have no evidence of this other than the writings of Paul and the writings of the anonymous author of Acts, whom most scholars believe was not a companion or contemporary of Paul. How do we know that Paul wasn’t bipolar and invented these stories in a psychotic break in a manic episode? Why should we trust the testimony of one man??

      “What happened that would cause followers of The Way to start saying Jesus had been resurrected?”

      What would cause a group of men in upstate New York to believe that an angel had appeared to them and given them Golden Plates? Why would a group of people believe the ravings of one man who claimed that the angel Gabriel had appeared to him and that he had flown on a horse to heaven? Human beings believe and do really bizarre things!

      I don’t need to explain or provide one sliver of evidence for why the early Christians believed their leader was raised from the dead. We have massive evidence throughout human history of new religious sects sprouting up with a new twist to the beliefs of the mother religion. (Some) first century Jews believed in bodily resurrection. The earliest (Jewish) Christians simply gave the resurrection belief a new twist…typical of most new religious sects or cults.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What would cause the followers of Jesus to proclaim he had been resurrected? The gospels say Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection no less than three times. In one instance it says they didn’t understand but in the two other ones there is no confusion expressed.

        Moreover, there is also the claim in Mark 6:14-16 that some were saying John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. John was a similar apocalyptic preacher like Jesus was so if this is historical then we already have the idea of a single dying and rising prophet figure within apocalyptic Judaism. If resurrection was a “hot topic” of the day and Jesus actually predicted he would die and be resurrected, then we have a perfectly plausible natural explanation for why his followers would proclaim Jesus was resurrected after his death.

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        1. Hogwash – you point out “The gospels say Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection no less than three times…. and …. there is also the claim in Mark 6:14-16 that some were saying John the Baptist had been raised from the dead.

          The problem here is that if you’re going to use the Gospels for evidence of one thing (ie, Jesus’ predictions, or some saying John had been raised) then you have to allow them to be used as evidence for other things as well.

          Are you saying you accept the Gospels as evidence?

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          1. I personally do not believe that the Gospels are good sources of accurate historical information, but I will let “Hogwash” answer for himself.

            Here is an interesting question: If Jesus truly had been predicting his death and resurrection, multiple times during his ministry, isn’t it odd that no one was waiting outside the tomb on Sunday morning to see if this prediction would come true?? But no, no one (at least not that we know of) was waiting outside the tomb for Jesus’ resurrection.

            Due to this fact, it is highly improbable that Jesus predicted his death and resurrection “after three days”. This is more evidence that the Gospels cannot be trusted as historical sources.

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              1. because in the gospel of mark , the women come to the tomb and find a man in the tomb. the tomb is not empty. matthew comes along and has the women come along and see the angel role away the stone and invite them into the tomb.

                guards function is to prevent ANY man from getting in the tomb.

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              2. @ RC
                What evidence is there that there were two Roman Guards on duty?
                What tomb are you talking about and what archaeological evidence can you provide to support any calim

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          2. I’m playing by the Christian’s rules. They regard the New Testament to be a reliable source of history. Well, one can use the approach that I just did above to construct perfectly plausible natural explanations using the New Testament texts themselves! Sometimes this approach even gets the more “sophisticated” apologists to admit that some of the gospel stories may not be historical after all. Ha! Quite an admission!

            As for your point about using other parts of the gospels, sure, but each story must be justified on its own merits. An objective historian doesn’t approach the text with the presuppositional attitude – “it’s either all true or none of it is.” That is the sign of a fundamentalist. The job of a historian is to sift through the data and find out what makes the best sense of it, whether historical or embellishment.

            Since, a priori, Christians are:

            a. committed to everything in the New Testament being true

            and

            b. Usually have a hard time accepting a natural explanation for the origin of the belief in the resurrection

            Then my argument above is successful in showing that there actually could be a perfectly plausible natural explanation for the origin of the belief which, then, rivals the supernatural hypothesis!

            There is nothing supernatural about predicting your own death and resurrection. That doesn’t mean, however, your followers won’t be gullible enough to believe and declare it as sincere, yet mistaken, fact. Given (if) resurrection was a “hot topic” during the time period of Jesus and (if) Jesus was just a crazy apocalyptic yokel from backwater Galilee who predicted he would be vindicated in the (general/end times?) resurrection, then one can easily see why his followers, after some initial time trying to reinterpret the events (cognitive dissonance), would vehemently proclaim the resurrection of their unjustly executed leader had occurred and would soon usher in the Kingdom of God (end times).

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    3. One must reconstruct what one thinks actually happened.

      Or, to use the more vernacular term.
      Make it up as you go along.
      For what it’s worth, the claim in Tacitus’ Annals regarding the crucifiction of Chrestus is also a matter of dispute, some scholars consider it may well be an interpolation or at best merely heresay.

      And when the subject of the Empty Tomb is inserted into the dialogue one should immediately say, ”What tomb?”
      But that piece of drivel is trotted out so often even non-believers have taken to argue from the point that it could have been real.

      There is no evidence for the character Paul either, and the only thing we can say about ”him” is that, the ”letters” ( some are smaller tracts cobbled together ) regarded as genuine were written by the same hand.

      Apparently,these missives did not appear on the theological radar until Marcion collected them and handed them over to the Church.

      But as you suggest ….”One must reconstruct what one thinks actually happened. ” , and if you want to beleive there were real historical characters behind this tale then you will construct a scenario that fits this belief,

      it isn’t evidence, any more than a Harry Potter novel is evidence of teenage wizards flying around on broomsticks.

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      1. I think that’s fair. “Jesus agnosticism” is an approach that should be considered.

        I just think that it’s more plausible that there actually was a known apocalyptic preacher named Jesus that a man named Paul was writing in reference to, than to think that some kind of “organic” process that had no real connection to anything corresponding to “reality” was the basis for Paul’s writings. And to argue that a writer named “Paul” did not exist – while worthy of consideration – seems even more implausible than the idea that an itenerant preacher named Jesus didn’t exist.

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        1. Again, you fall into the ”scholars say …” trap.
          Every advocate of the Real Man Behind The Magic trots out the same ”evidence” – Josephus, Tacitus, etc as if this is a solid foundation for belief.
          It isn’t.
          You think it more plausible?
          Why? Based on what evidence ?

          Example: Which Church Fathers or Christians cited this particular passage in Annals before it was discovered?
          In fact, do you know when the Annals surfaced and where it was found and by whom?

          Furthermore, there is no historical evidence for the character Saul/Paul outside of the Christian context.
          There are no Jewish records of any individual who was a Christian Persecutor.
          And why on earth would he have been given permission to traverse occupied territory in pursuit of a few deviant individuals when there were followers of The Way right there in Jerusalem in plain sight?

          As the majority of the ”letters” are forgeries what possible motivation is there to accept the 6 or 7 as being written by said individual who does not feature anywhere outside of the Christian or Jewish context?

          In fact, no matter what we are almost forced to accept regarding plausibility, etc the only demonstrable evidence we have is the fact there is a Christian religion and there are Christians.
          .

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  6. What do you care about my reasons for considering a Jesus & Paul more plausible than the Myth idea?

    I certainly don’t care what your reasons are for having the Myther view.

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