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Gary, If You Would Just Read One More Christian Book…

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. - Christian  Scholar's Review

Christian: Now you’re just mocking Christianity. Well, mocking it can harden yourself all the more to the truth of Christianity. I wonder if you’ve ever honestly sought God through serious humble prayer and soul searching. I find that most apostates haven’t. Few, for example, even read the entire Bible before their deconversion. Few even spent at least 3 days in fasting and praying. Few actually read serious works on apologetics. Rather, most were nominal Christians who never took their Christian faith seriously.

The Norman L. Geisler Apologetics Library (12 vols.) | Logos Bible Software

Gary: Since the day I first expressed doubts about the core claims of Christianity in early 2014, Christians have told me that my doubts are due to not having a full understanding of Christian teaching; not being sufficiently well read in Christian scholarship and theology. So, I decided to read some books:

-“The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
-“Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham
-“The Death of the Messiah, Volumes I and II” by Raymond Brown
-“Making the Case for Christianity” by Maas, Francisco, et al.
-“The Resurrection Fact” by Bombaro, Francisco, et al.
-“Miracles, Volumes I and II”, by Craig Keener
-“The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
-“Why are There Differences in the Gospels” by Michael Licona
-“The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig
-“The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus” by Raymond Brown
-“The Resurrection of Jesus” by Gerd Luedemann
-“Resurrection Reconsidered” by Gregory Riley
-“John and Thomas—Gospels in Conflict?” by Christopher Skinner
-“The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor
-“Israel in Egypt” by James Hoffmeier
-“The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Silberman
-“The Resurrection of Jesus in the Light of Jewish Burial Practices“ by Craig Evans, (newsletter article) The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, May 4, 2016
-“Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?” by Jodi Magness, SBL Forum
-“Genre, Sub-genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman biography” (article) by Justin M. Smith, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
-“Cold-Case Christianity” by J. Warner Wallace
-“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel
-“Misquoting Jesus” by Bart Ehrman
-“Jesus, Interrupted” by Bart Ehrman
-“How Jesus Became God” by Bart Ehrman
-“Jesus Before the Gospels” by Bart Ehrman
-“Did Jesus Exist?” by Bart Ehrman
-“Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus” by Asher Norman (endorsed by Talmudic scholars for its accuracy in presenting a Jewish perspective of Jesus and the Christian New Testament)
-“The Book of Miracles” by Kenneth L. Woodward
-“Why I Believed, Reflections of a Former Missionary” by Kenneth W. Daniels
-“Why Evolution is True” by biologist Jerry Coyne
-“Masters of the Planet-the Search for our Human Origins” by Ian Tattersall
-“A Manual for Creating Atheists” by philosopher Peter Boghossian
-“Can We Trust the Gospels?” by Peter Williams
-“The Outsider Test for Faith” by John W. Loftus
-“God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion” by physicist Victor J. Stenger
-“Lone Survivors: How We Came to Be The Only Humans on Earth” by paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer
-“Evidence that Demands a Verdict” by evangelical apologists Josh and Sean McDowell
-“The Case Against Miracles” edited by John Loftus
-“The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry” by Jewish author, Michael Alter
-“The Blind Watchmaker” by biologist Richard Dawkins
-“The Other Gospels: Accounts of Jesus from Outside the New Testament” by Bart Ehrman and Zlatko Plese (currently reading)
-“The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine
-“Conversations With My Inner Atheist” by evangelical theologian Randal Rauser
-“Lord or Legend? Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma” by Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy

And guess what Christian apologists say now? Answer: You still haven’t read ENOUGH Christian books!

I have come to the conclusion that Christians will never be satisfied with my level of knowledge of Christian teaching…until I convert back to Christianity! There is always one more book that I must read to be fully informed.

Baloney.

14 Apologetics Books You Should Read | The CVM Blog

How many books have most Christian apologists read on Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, and other world religions before dismissing the supernatural claims of these religions as nonsense with a simple wave of the hand? I bet few to none.

But, hey, I agree with them! You don’t need to read one Mormon book to know that Mormon supernatural claims are nonsense. You don’t need to read one Muslim book to know that Muslim supernatural claims are nonsense. And the same for Hinduism, etc..

And, you do not need to read one, single Christian book to know that the supernatural claims of Christianity are nonsense. Why? Because the evidence that the supernatural operates in our universe is so very, very poor! The only evidence that the supernatural operates in our universe comes from superstitious theists! For some odd reason, the supernatural does not like performing in front of non-supernaturalists (atheists)!

Dear Christian: your religious beliefs are a comforting delusion. Abandon them for the good of all humankind! A world without superstitions would be so much safer and healthier.

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Since Christianity Has Greater Explanatory Scope, It Must Be True

Christ Walking on the Water
Jesus and Peter walk on water. Historical fact or silly nonsense?

Gary: Eyewitness accounts of people seeing a walking/talking resurrected Jesus is the best evidence Christians have for the central claim of their holy book—the resurrection of Jesus—but these alleged eyewitness accounts are disputed. Disputed eyewitness accounts for an event which allegedly happened 20 centuries ago is NOT good evidence

Christian blogger: That begs the question [petitio principii/circular reasoning] that the Bible isn’t self-attesting and self-authenticating and that there is no sensus divinitatis and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit to the truths of the Gospel. I deny that non-Christians can make any sense of knowledge given their consistent use of their non-Christian worldviews and presuppositions. For example, let’s deal with atheistic worldviews. Not all atheists are materialists, but many/most are. Because of that, they have a hard time, if not are unable to account for things like the famous and enduring epistemological and metaphysical problems of induction; cannot overcome the problem of Eliminative Materialism and of Mereological Nihilism; cannot overcome the Hard Problem of consciousness; or even rationally assert atheism given the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism [the famous EAAN]. I could go on. Those are just some of the philosophical problems in atheism. While Christianity as a worldview can provide for the preconditions of intelligibility in a consistent way. It has greater explanatory scope, explanatory power etc.

Eliminative Materialism, for example, holds that human consciousness, thoughts, desires, beliefs, feelings, deliberations, decisions, intentionality, ratiocinations and acts of will aren’t real. Mereological Nihilism states there are no parts that make up wholes. In which case, there are no human beings made up of cells. There are only subatomic particles. I’ll limit my objections to these. I don’t want to Gish Gallop too much, myself.

Moreover, the miracle claims didn’t stop at the 1st century.

Gary: And there you have it, folks.

That begs the question that the Bible isn’t self-attesting and self-authenticating and that there is no sensus divinitatis and the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit to the truths of the Gospel. I deny that non-Christians can make any sense of knowledge given their consistent use of their non-Christian worldviews and presuppositions.

According to evangelical (and many other conservative and moderate) Christians: atheists are blind to the truths of Christianity due to the fact that we lack the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit: magical knowledge from a ghost!

This is why debating historical evidence with an evangelical Christian is a complete waste of time. Their belief is not based on historical evidence! Their belief is based upon the intense emotions they experience in their delusion that the ghost of a man who died 2,000 years ago lives somewhere within their bodies; a ghost who whispers secret wisdom and life guidance into their ears.

Regarding worldviews: Just because a particular worldview pretends to have all the answers to life’s big questions, does that automatically make that worldview true? The evidence indicates otherwise. Time and time again science has proven the Christian worldview wrong. (a six day creation, a flat earth, heliocentricity, etc..). It is always science causing revisions (reinterpretations) of the Christian worldview and not the reverse.

Orthodox (conservative) Christianity is a cult. It’s members are seriously deluded. That is why when backed into a corner, they appeal to vague philosophical principles in a desperate attempt to give respectability to their belief in ghosts and magic.

Virgins don’t give birth to babies. Humans can’t walk on water. Brain-dead corpses never come back to life. It’s that simple, folks. You don’t need a PhD in philosophy to know that.

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Evangelical Christianity’s Top Three Weaknesses

When Americans tried – and failed – to reunite Christianity

Christian Blogger: Gary, what do you see as the top THREE weaknesses of evangelical Christianity?

Gary: The top three weaknesses of evangelical Christianity are:

1.) Disputed eyewitness testimony of an alleged supernatural event is not good evidence. 2.) The overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians came to belief in Jesus due to emotional factors or a life crises, not due to historical evidence. Evangelical Christians use historical evidence as a socially respectable facade for their belief (an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less creditable reality). 3.) Perceptions of a spirit/ghost “dwelling within” you, communicating with you in a “still, small voice”, is delusional thinking unless you can provide better evidence for its reality.

1. Disputed eyewitness testimony for a 2,000 year old supernatural claim is NOT good evidence. You may believe that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, but I am not interested in debating your opinion. I am simply pointing out that the best evidence Christians have for the central claim of their religion, the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, is disputed: almost all NT scholars, with the exception of evangelicals and fundamentalist Protestants, reject the eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Therefore, with the eyewitness authorship of these books in doubt, it is entirely possible that all the miracle stories told about Jesus in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts are legends, legends which had evolved and been embellished over decades, or fictional stories invented for theological purposes.

2. I have found that most evangelical Christians did not come to faith in Jesus the resurrected Christ through historical evidence but due to an emotional experience or a life crisis. Would you briefly detail the circumstances for your conversion to Christianity?

3. I believe that most evangelical Christians believe that Jesus is alive and well today due to something they call “the testimony of the Holy Spirit”. Would you please explain what this is and if you have experienced this “testimony” yourself in some fashion?

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Hundreds of Jewish Scholars Reject the Christian Claim That Jesus Fulfilled OT Prophecies. Why?

Rabbi Tovia Singer, anti-missionary man, to speak at Beth Yeshurun later  this month
Rabbi Tovia Singer

Gary: I left Christianity after evaluating the many inconsistencies and false claims in the Bible, not just because of a couple of books by Bart Ehrman. One of those inconsistencies/false claims is:

The alleged OT prophecies about Jesus are all disputed. Jewish Bible scholars can provide good arguments that none of the passages in question are talking about Jesus.

Christian blogger: A common objection to the historicity of Jesus is that there are too many parallels to Jesus and the Old Testament. But the parallel aren’t as strong as they could be or would be if the Gospel writers were making it all up and fabricating it whole cloth. Another related objection is that passages in the Old Testament are eisegetically [rather than exegetically] pressed and forced to refer to Jesus. But if the Gospel authors were making it up, they would have made the parallels and fulfillments fit better if they used JUST A LITTLE bit more imagination. The fact that the Gospels don’t do that fits better with the Gospel authors being constrained by the actual historical facts of Jesus rather than spinning fake tales. See the following video:

Is the Story of Jesus Stolen From the Old Testament?
https://youtu.be/AgHfZaPNddo

Moreover, the fulfillments are often more literal than is usually realized at first glance. See the MANY book recommendations in the 2nd half of the blog linked below that argue for the genuine messiahship of Jesus:

HERE https://misclane.blogspot.com/2021/09/the-prophecies-of-old-testament.html

It’s often been said by non-Messianic Jews that no great rabbis believed Jesus was the Messiah. That’s factually false. Many great rabbis have. Some of them were even very learned gedolim. See the following articles:

Rabbis Who Thought For Themselves Part ONE
http://www.messianicjudaism.me/yinon/2011/11/02/rabbis-who-thought-for-themselves/

Rabbis Who Thought For Themselves Part TWO
http://www.messianicjudaism.me/yinon/2011/12/01/rabbis-who-thought-for-themselves-part-ii/

Again, see the links I provided above. Including the MANY book recommendations of I linked to in the blog above.

[32 Youtube Videos]
Michael L. Brown’s introductory responses to Jewish Objection to Jesus:

It’s interesting that many Jewish counter-Missionaries don’t want to debate Michael L. Brown. For example, rabbi Tovia Singer has been avoiding debating Brown again [a 3rd time] for decades. Here’s a video where Brown addresses Singer’s refusal to debate him and Singer’s inaccurate statements:

Dr. Brown Responds to Rabbi Tovia Singer
https://youtu.be/U5-TJPz6Y94

Gary:

The Gospel authors say themselves that the purpose of the gospels was: “so that you believe (in Jesus as the Christ). They were not attempting to write class room history books. They were writing works of evangelization in a genre of ancient literature that allowed for extensive embellishments as long as they remained true to the character of the central figure of the story. The Gospel authors believed that Jesus was the promised messiah, the promised King of the New Israel. The Messiah would have to be the greatest prophet and king that Israel had ever seen! So that is what they did: they invented stories, paralleling stories from the OT, shoehorning Jesus in, so that it appeared that the arrival of Jesus had been prophesied.

One only has to look at the prophecy of “a virgin shall conceive” in Isaiah 7 and the “suffering servant” prophecy in Isaiah 53 to see that Christian authors completely distorted these passages. Anyone who sits down and reads the entire chapter of Isaiah chapter 7 can clearly see that the author was talking about a child born during King Hezekiah’s time, not centuries later in Jesus’ time. And if one reads the five chapter before Isaiah chapter 53, one sees the suffering servant is none other than…”Israel”, the corporate body of the Jewish people.

Even evangelical apologists Josh and Sean McDowell agree that these two prophecies were not initially written about Jesus. They believe that the Gospel authors used these passages as Midrashes. Good grief! Why can’t Christians just admit: the Gospel authors “shoehorned” Jesus into prophecies and passages which were clearly not about him. Again, the Gospel authors were writing religious propaganda, not history books.

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Should Christians Be Concerned About the Evolving Concept of An Afterlife in the Old Testament?

Afterlife (Video 2018) - IMDb

Gary: I left Christianity after evaluating the many inconsistencies and false claims in the Bible, not just because of a couple of books by Bart Ehrman. One of those inconsistencies/false claims is: the evolving concept of an afterlife in the OT.

Christian blogger: That’s not problematic given Jewish or Christian theism. Since there’s the Biblical concept of progressive revelation whereby God grants more and more information about spiritual matters down through Redemptive History. It’s not one large data dump. That progression is seen even within the the Old Testament. And even within the first five books [i.e. the Torah/Penteteuch]. Also, “evolving” in what way? The Old Testament taught a conscious afterlife in Sheol and hinted at a more blessed condition for the righteous than for the unrighteous. That basic outline is completely consistent and compatible with the New Testament’s understanding of the afterlife. While it has some flaws [as Annihilationists point out], I recommend the general arguments presented by Robert Morey in his book “Death and the Afterlife.” For example, he points out how Gen. 35:18 says regarding Rachel “And as her soul was departing (for she was dying).” Implying an immaterial aspect to Rachel and its departure. Sure, the Hebrew word “soul” used could sometimes be translated “life,” but in this case it could also [more?] plausibly be translated as “soul.” Similar to how in 1 Ki 17:21 the “soul” [or “life”] came back INTO the child’s body. Or how Jacob said in Gen. 37:35, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Implying Jacob believed in a conscious afterlife in Sheol where he would be reunited with his son Joseph.

While a bit dated, here’s a public domain link to Messianic Jewish scholar Alfred Edersheim’s Appendix 19 in his famous book, “Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.” He shows how the New Testament didn’t invent the Christian afterlife out of thin air, but was partly built upon previous 2nd Temple Jewish beliefs about the afterlife. Beliefs that themselves were built upon from the Old Testament revelation.

Appendix 19, On Eternal Punishment, According to the Rabbis and the New Testament by Edersheim
https://ccel.org/ccel/edersheim/lifetimes/lifetimes.xi.xviii.html

Gary:

“Since there’s the Biblical concept of progressive revelation whereby God grants more and more information about spiritual matters down through Redemptive History. It’s not one large data dump.”

Says who? Did God say this or is this “apologetic spin”, an ad hoc “harmonization” to explain away inconsistencies in one’s belief system? Yes, the Christian god may exist and, yes, progressive revelation might be true. But it is also entirely possible that the concept of an afterlife did not develop until the Jews were taken into captivity and exposed to the religions of Babylon, Persia, and Greece/Macedonia. Prior to their captivity, Jews believed that obedience to God resulted in blessings in THIS life. Once they were captives, the chances of blessings in this life looked bleak, their theology changed. Now obedience to God might not provide any benefits in the life, but one could look forward to blessings (or punishment) in the next.

Bottom line: Progressive revelation might be true but it also may be nothing more than an ad hoc rationalization for a gaping inconsistency between the God of the Hebrews and the God of Christians. In my re-evaluation of Christianity, it wasn’t just one inconsistency. It was MANY. I came to realize that Christianity is a house of cards, a house of cards held together by the glue of ASSUMPTIONS. Christians must make a lot of assumptions to maintain their faith.

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Do Most Egyptologists Believe in the Historicity of the Exodus?

The Real Story of The Exodus: Paul L. Maier, Gerad Taylor: 9780758612687:  Amazon.com: Books
History or legend?

Gary: I left Christianity after evaluating the many inconsistencies and false claims in the Bible, not just because of a couple of books by Bart Ehrman. One of those inconsistencies/false claims: the lack of archaeological evidence for the Exodus, an event Jesus believed was historical.

Christian blogger: Not all archaeologists are Egyptologists [i.e. specialize in ancient Egypt]. According to archaeologist James Hoffmeier’s informal survey, while it’s true that most archaeologists reject the historicity of the Exodus, from his finite inductive study, most Egyptologists either believe or suspect that the Exodus occurred. See this link:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170930132901/https://faithfulphilosophy.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/vast-majority-of-egyptologists-believe-the-exodus-happened/

Dr. David A. Falk is an Egyptologist who believe in a literal Exodus. See his website: http://www.egyptandthebible.com/​

Also check out Dr. Falk’s YouTube channel where he defends a literal Exodus:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF1f7vTqonOIwaGU6DwTvjg

While Falk thinks there are weaknesses in Titus Kennedy’s works, I recommend checking out his book and videos as well. Archaeologist James Hoffmeier’s books and videos are a bit dated and have partially be refuted, but they are good introductory resources.

Gary: I’ve read Hoffmeier’s books. He makes comments such as: “We found the ruins of such and such city mentioned in the Book of Exodus. This find substantiates the Exodus Story!” Nonsense. Someone writing a fictional story in circa 650 BCE might have been aware of an ancient Egyptian city and included it in his tall tale. Hoffmeier desperately wants the Exodus Story to be true, and therefore desperately appeals to poor quality evidence as proof of his desired outcome.

Why do you choose to believe Hoffmeier’s “informal survey” without actually seeing the actual data? I would guess it is the same reason many evangelical apologists accept Gary Habermas’ unsubstantiated claim that 70% of all NT scholars believe in the historicity of Jesus’ tomb. They want to! I suggest we see actual data before believing anyone’s “informal” survey.

But the fact remains, a significant percentage of the world’s archaeologists reject the historicity of the Exodus, the Forty Years in the Sinai, AND the Conquest of Canaan. Even the majority of Israeli archaeologists reject the biblical Conquest of Canaan.

Bottom line: hundreds of thousands, maybe a couple million, Jews exited ancient Egypt in mass, wandered around the Sinai for 40 years, and then invaded and conquered Palestine…but the majority of archaeologists say there is no trace of these events. Yes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but absence of evidence in this case is a strong indication that this event did NOT happen. Apologists still want to debate the evidence on this issue, but I trust the overwhelming majority expert opinion.

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What the Hell Was Jesus Doing for Forty Days?

Daniel Peterson: The mysterious 40-day ministry of Jesus after Easter -  Deseret News
It’s a pity the claim that Jesus spent 40 days teaching the disciples after his resurrection didn’t result in clear guidelines for some of the major doctrinal disputes that would tear apart Christianity over the centuries, e.g. Incarnation, Trinity, Salvation, Predestination, Church leadership, etc. — Epicurus, a reader of this blog

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying[a] with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. –Acts chapter 1:1-4

In this passage of the alleged “Word of God” we are told that after his miraculous bodily resurrection from the dead, Jesus spent forty days with his disciples “giving them instructions” and “speaking to them about the kingdom of God”.

But what specifically did Jesus tell his disciples during these forty days?

Remember, if the Gospels are correct, Jesus had come back from the dead in a supernatural (“heavenly”) body with supernatural powers, teleporting between cities and popping in and out of locked rooms. These displays of supernatural power convinced the disciples that Jesus was not just the Messiah, but God himself, at least according to the author of the Gospel of John:

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God! –John 20:26-28

Wow! God himself, the Omniscient and All Powerful, spent FORTY days with twelve men, men who would be commissioned to take God’s Good News of eternal salvation to the entire world, teaching them about “the kingdom”. But sadly, none of Jesus’ disciples bothered to write down what Jesus said during these forty days, except for one short speech on the last day, right before he lifted off into the clouds! What a lost opportunity! Imagine how the last 2,000 years would have been different if Jesus had:

–taught the disciples how to follow proper hygiene and how to make antibiotics and vaccines.

–commanded the disciples to forbid Christians from owning slaves.

–explained that demon possession is actually epileptic seizures and provided the formulation for making anti-seizure medications.

–provided instructions for good agricultural techniques to increase harvest output and thereby decrease the world’s chronic, massive, shortage of food. The lives of millions would have been saved!

But, no. Jesus obviously did not have time during his forty days with his disciples to give any of these instructions. But why? Christians will tell us that Jesus’ focus while here on earth was our spiritual health not our physical health or social well-being.

Oh well, hand washing and antibiotics will just have to wait for two millennia.

Yet, if Jesus was only focused on our spiritual well-being, why didn’t he spend those forty days writing out a doctrinal statement, clarifying very concisely and clearly the doctrines of the Trinity, justification by faith alone, the purpose of baptism, the purpose of the Lord’s Supper, his preferred church government structure. The great schisms of the Church could have been avoided! The millions of Christians killed in the wars between Catholics and Orthodox and the wars between Catholics and Protestants could have been spared agonizing, horrific deaths. But obviously Jesus didn’t have time to discuss these issues, or at least he didn’t bother to have anyone write them down. It seems, Jesus only wanted to talk about “the kingdom”.

But if Jesus spent the entire forty days talking about “the kingdom” why is it that on the fortieth day, the day when he (allegedly) ascended into heaven, this was the final question put to him by his disciples:

“Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” –Acts 1:6

What??? The kingdom of Israel??? Jesus just spent forty days entirely focused on teaching the disciples about the kingdom and these twelve guys still think Jesus is going to establish an earthly kingdom??? Good grief. Either the Twelve were the dumbest, densest human beings ever to walk planet earth or this tall tale is pure FICTION!

The standard Christian response: “God’s ways are not our ways. God works in mysterious ways. Just because Jesus’ behavior makes no sense to you, Gary, does not mean that it doesn’t make sense to God.”

Baloney!

That excuse is used by every group of theists on the planet whenever their god or gods fail to perform or their holy book’s prophecies are proven false. Hindus use it. Mormons use it. Muslims use it. Christians use it. It is a bullshit excuse. Use your brain, folks. Don’t fall for that pathetic excuse.

The above discussion is just more evidence that the Gospels and the Book of Acts are NOT reliable sources of historical information. No one should believe in a once-in-history corpse reanimation based on the inconsistent, contradictory, preposterous tales found in these five ancient texts.

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Dear Gary, Evangelicals Don’t Care About Scholarly Consensus

Review Article: Expert Opinion - Author Services

Christian: Gary, every time I’ve seen you spam comments on the comments thread of a Christian blog/article, I can’t help but wonder what exactly you think you’re accomplishing. A lot of the times I’ve seen your discussions online, the Christian apologist will adopt the ‘minimal facts’ approach and explicitly set aside defending the Gospels’ historical reliability. So your Bauckham quote is meaningless to them.

On the other hand, if you’re going to argue with a Christian who wants to defend traditional authorship (which actually wouldn’t be necessary to defend the accuracy of the Gospels btw) as Jonathan [*Jonathon McLatchie] does, you should realize that they probably know and just don’t care about the scholarly consensus on this issue. Jonathan is an evangelical scholar who’s previously written about this subject before, so you should deal with the arguments directly.

As it stands, it just comes across as a sort of bullying tactic to make Christians feel insecure about their beliefs because smart, secular scholars disagree with them. So what? Christian scholars are also smart and competent as well. Christians have made arguments for their beliefs about the Gospels in the past; something that Jonathan has done many times in the past. Scholarly consensus can and has been wrong before.

And most Christian scholars know that their views are controversial. Again, so what? Deal with arguments from Christian scholars like Tim and Lydia McGrew. Sociological surveying only gets you so far — scholarly consensus must give way in the face of direct evidence to the contrary.

Gary: Excellent. Someone who actually wants to engage in a discussion of the evidence! Let’s do it!

“Gary, every time I’ve seen you spam this comment on the comments thread of a Christian blog/article, I can’t help but wonder what exactly you think you’re accomplishing.”

I am doing what Christians call “evangelizing”: engaging in discussions, leaving “tracts”, knocking on doors, sending missionaries, preaching, writing blog posts in an effort to reach as many non-believers of my worldview (naturalism/non-supernaturalism) as possible, hopefully leading to the widespread adoption and acceptance of my belief system and the abandonment of all supernatural thinking.

“On the other hand, if you’re going to argue with a Christian who wants to defend traditional authorship (which actually wouldn’t be necessary to defend the accuracy of the Gospels btw) as Jonathan does, you should realize that they probably know and just don’t care about the scholarly consensus on this issue. Jonathan is an evangelical scholar who’s previously written about this subject before, so you should deal with the arguments directly.”

Excellent. This is an important point. Let me be clear, I am not trying to debate Jonathon on the evidence. He is a Bible scholar and I am not. It would be like me trying to debate a nuclear physicist on nuclear physics. No matter how much time I spend on the internet studying nuclear physics, if I will never be a nuclear physicist, so no one should pay any attention to me. And the same is true for issues related to biblical scholarship: my non-expert opinion is worth very little. However, just because Jonathon is an expert on biblical scholarship and I am not does NOT mean that I and the other non-experts should simply accept his scholarly opinions as fact. That is not what university educated people (like myself) have learned. University educated people have learned the importance and value of trusting consensus expert opinion.

University educated people have learned that it is unnecessary for educated people to be experts on each and every issue. That would be impossible. No one has the time to be an expert on everything. Studies have demonstrated that consensus expert opinion has a very high track record of being a “good bet”. Yes, the consensus of experts can be wrong, but most of the time they are correct. Most of the time the minority of experts is wrong. So let’s bring the discussion back to the authorship of the Gospels, looking through the lens of how most university educated people see the world: The overwhelming majority of non-evangelical NT scholars reject the traditional/eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels. Even the majority of Roman Catholic scholars reject the traditional/eyewitness/associate of eyewitness authorship of the Gospels, even though this group of scholars very much believes in the supernatural and the bodily resurrection of Jesus! Why? Evidence or bias?

The overwhelming majority of evangelical scholars believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses/associates of eyewitnesses. Why? Evidence or bias?

Who should lay persons/non-experts believe? The overwhelming majority of liberal Protestant scholars, moderate Protestant scholars, conservative and moderate Roman Catholic scholars or the overwhelming majority of evangelical/fundamentalist Protestant scholars? Which group of scholars seems to be driven by a bias? I will let the university educated audience of this blog answer that question themselves.

*note: As far as I can tell, Jonathon McLatchie is not a scholar, just an apologist. From the bio on his website:

Currently, Jonathan is an assistant professor at Sattler College in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also working on his MA in Biblical Studies at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Jonathan is a contributor to various apologetics websites, including CrossExamined.org and AnsweringMuslims.com. He is also a contributor at Evolution News & Science.

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How Do Protestants Know the Bible is Inspired: A Ghost Tells Them!

Review: 'A Ghost Story' Has a Sensitive Specter With Time on His Hands -  The New York Times

Protestant Christian website: How do we know that these [the cannon of the Protestant Bible] are the right sixty-six books? Is there a way for the church to know a book is given by God? Here we will briefly consider three attributes that all canonical books share.

The first attribute to consider, and one often overlooked, is that we have good reasons to think books from God would contain within themselves evidence of their divine origin. The Reformers referred to these as divine qualities or indicators (indicia). If God is genuinely the one who stands behind these books, then we would expect these books to share God’s own qualities.

After all, we know that the created world is from God by seeing God’s own attributes revealed therein (Ps. 19Rom. 1:20). Likewise, we would expect God’s special revelation, his written word, to do the same. Examples of such qualities in God’s word would be beauty and excellency (Ps. 19:8; 119:103), power and efficacy (Ps. 119:50Heb. 4:12–13), and unity and harmony (Num. 23:19Titus 1:2Heb. 6:18).

Through these divine qualities, Christians recognize the voice of their Lord in the Scriptures. As Jesus himself declared, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Of course, non-Christians will object to the idea of divine qualities in Scripture because they don’t personally see such qualities. But we must remember that humans are corrupted by the fall and darkened by sin. In order to see these qualities rightly, they need what the Reformers called the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. For those in Christ, the Spirit opens our eyes to see the divine qualities in these books that are objectively present.

Gary: There you have it! Christians have zero objective evidence that Jesus authorized the 27 books of the New Testament cannon as his “Holy Word”. Catholics can appeal to the powers of the “Magisterium”, but Protestants reject the authority of the Church to decide the will of God. Protestants are left with just one form of evidence for the divine inspiration of their holy book: the still, small voice in their hearts (heads): the voice of a spirit. The voice of…a ghost.

How can educated people living in the 21st century still believe such superstitious nonsense? Ghosts do not exist, my Christian friends. Ghosts, ghouls, phantoms, and other spirits are imaginary figures invented by scientifically ignorant people in the ancient past. They aren’t real. Stop allowing your preachers and Sunday school teachers to hoodwink you into believing in their reality.

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Bible Scholar Admits that the High Priest at Jesus’ Trial Was Unaware of Jesus’ Claims of Divinity Found in John’s Gospel

Joel Edmund Anderson on Twitter: "Want a Signed Copy of “Heresy of Ham” (at  a discounted price)??? https://t.co/xWybX0k1W9… "
Biblical scholar Joel Edmund Anderson

Gary: My question to you is: Even if Jesus didn’t outright claim to be God, but only inferred he was God, as he does frequently in the Gospel of John, why didn’t the high priest (in Mark’s account in Mark chapter 14) bring up this issue in front of the Sanhedrin when they were desperately looking for anything to accuse Jesus of that would warrant killing him?

All the high priest had to say was, “Jesus of Nazareth, you have said that you existed before Abraham. You have said that you and your father, Yahweh, are one. You have said that you are the “I AM”. By these statements are you inferring that you are God, Yahweh himself??”

Mark’s chief priest and the entire Sanhedrin were either complete idiots for not bringing up John’s Jesus’ many inferences to his divinity or Jesus never made any of these statements, ie, the author of John invented them. So which is it?

Joel Edmund Anderson: Fascinating. You are taking something in John’s Gospel, which was written circa AD 90, during an entirely different “post-AD 70 setting,” and you are asking why the high priest in Mark’s account of the night time trial before the Sanhedrin (written circa AD 66-70 about Jesus’ trial in AD 30) doesn’t ask Jesus about the details of John’s more creative, spiritual Gospel.

So here’s my answer to your question. The reason why the high priest in Mark didn’t ask Jesus about the details of John’s Gospel is because the high priest didn’t have a Delorean and didn’t travel to the future to read John’s Gospel in AD 90, and then (obviously) didn’t travel back to AD 30 to ask Jesus about what John wrote.

Gary: Excellent! So you agree that during his lifetime Jesus never said:

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

I and the Father are one.

Either Jesus said these things, but at his trial before the Sanhedrin, the chief priest and all the Jewish leaders amazingly forgot about these shocking inferences of divinity, or, Jesus did not say these things; these statements are literary/theological inventions of the author of the Gospel of John. It is one or the other, Joel. Which is it?

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Mark 14

There is no possible way that the Sanhedrin “couldn’t find any valid accusation against him” if Jesus had truly made the two statements above. If Jesus made these two statements, any Jew would instantly realize he was claiming to be God.

(Dear Reader: the gist of this discussion is that I seriously doubt that the historical Jesus ever claimed to be God. He probably did claim to be the Messiah and that is what got him killed, but there is no way he was criss-crossing Palestine for three years claiming or even inferring he was God, Yahweh himself. No way! The divinity of Jesus and the Trinity are later inventions of the Gentile Church.)

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