6/30/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Edinburgh University Resurrection Debate

A two-hour video debate on the historicity the resurrection between Liberty University Professor Gary Habermas and JesusNeverExisted.com Author Ken Humphreys. The debate was held McEwan Hall, Edinburgh University on March 10, 2008.From Wikipedia:

Gary Robert Habermas (born in 1950 in Michigan) is an American Christian apologist, theologian, and philosopher of religion.

Habermas is Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman of the department of philosophy and theology at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. (1976) from Michigan State University in the area of History and Philosophy of Religion; and an M.A. (1973) from the University of Detroit in Philosophical Theology. He is a prolific author, lecturer, and debater on the topic of the Resurrection of Jesus. His work defending the resurrection is often cited in the area of Christian apologetics. He has also specialized in cataloging and communicating trends among scholars in the field of historical Jesus and New Testament studies. Habermas has authored twenty-one books on religious and philosophical subjects. He continues to do research, publish popular and academic papers, give debates, and he frequently appears on television.

From JesusNeverExisted.Com:
About Ken HumphreysSome people want to know where I'm coming from:I'm an ex-college lecturer, ex-photographer, ex-computer salesman – but not an ex-Christian, Jew, Moslem or Nazi! I had a religion-free childhood and from the youngest age acquired an interest in history. In turns I was both fascinated and appalled by the history of the 'Christian Faith' and have made its legacy and crimes a life-long study, not because – as Christian apologists often imagine, I was ever 'hurt', abused, or rejected by the Church or Christians – but because humanity's fate has for so long been held captive by this pernicious creed. But all religion is inherently dangerous.

6/29/2008                                                                                       View Comments

His eye is on the sparrow



A video by TruthSurge showing how much God loves each of us and how he looks after us all. Matt 10:29-31

6/28/2008                                                                                       View Comments

God is your ATM, Prayer is your PIN



The True Christian

By billybee

According to recent statistics, there exists approximately 4,684 different denominations, groups or sects of Christianity in America.

I think it fair to assume that most -- if not all -- of these different and distinct faith-based groups possess what they believe to be a substantially clear understanding of the book they present as an authentic message from the single most powerful being in the universe.

There exists approximately 4,684 different denominations, groups or sects of Christianity in America.Understandably these various groups consider this message (when correctly understood) to be the most important collection of ideas to which the human race has ever had access. Therefore, it is not only their strong desire, but it is their duty and obligation to see that this message is delivered to all human kind.

The method of transmission of the message is extremely varied. The components of the message are extremely varied. Usually, however, there is one factor that appears to be common among most (if not all) carriers of this special proclamation. That common factor is a nearly universal mind-set that their group has the best, most correct and truest understanding of the message. This not-so-subtle attitude of superiority may remain mostly unspoken by the group members, but then at other times, this faith-fed confidence will surface, causing rise to division and mistrust between the groups of people who might actually be seeking the same ultimate goal.

When a Christian religious leader, like Dr. James Dobson, accuses Barrack Obama of not being a "true" Christian, Dobson provides himself as a perfect example of the person described in the previous paragraph. Dobson, in my humble opinion, could be unintentionally contributing to the erosion of the religion that he mistakenly believes he is trying to protect and nurture.

I will assume, of course, that Dobson and the members of his flock might strongly disagree. As for the other 4,683 possible points of view, I will not even begin to speculate.

6/26/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Jesus shows up in another ultrasound

Is it a blessing from above?

A Lorain, Ohio, woman got an ultrasound in preparation for her first baby, but instead of seeing the image of an infant, Monet Sledge saw something else (video: MyFoxCleveland).

"I was shocked like really," said Sledge.

She showed the picture to her sister Tequoia Smith, a married mother of four who has seen her share of ultrasounds.

"I was expecting to see little body parts," said Smith. "Like a face, arms and legs." But instead she too saw the image of Jesus on the cross.
"As soon as I saw it I was like oh my gosh."

The baby girls legs are completely extended and straight in the photo, which resembles Jesus' arms stretched out on the cross.

Her developing knees look like Jesus' head with a crown of thorns.

Sledge said she also found it weird that when you turn the picture sideways, "her legs are perfectly crossed at the ankles, like Jesus' legs would be nailed on the cross."

Doctors say the baby is perfectly healthy and due August 12th.

Some people are encouraging the mom to sell the image on eBay, but she has not decided wether or not the image is for sale just yet.

She embraced the picture as a positive message from above.

"People say maybe my baby is gonna be blessed and maybe it is a good sign," said Sledge. "I don't know, I've done wrong in my life, maybe he's forgiven me early."

Big sister Smith agreed.

She added that the family has had some challenging times lately with injury, employment and other stresses.

"Maybe it's a sign of a good pregnancy or maybe we've just been through so much it's a sign that everything is gonna be okay. After the initial shock it's like God is here even when you don't know it."

Story Link

More Jesus appearances: Jesus is nearly everywhere.

God loves America best

I confess. I have a degree of loyalty to the my homeland that is probably typical to that of any U.S. veteran after 20 years of active duty military service. However, when I attend veteran's organizational events, am asked to stand for prayer, and forced to hear people prattle on about how God loves and blesses America, well...



The Doyle and Debbie Show is sublime parody, simultaneously lampooning and idolizing country music's tradition of iconic duos. Bruce Arntson and Jenny Littleton take audiences on a freewheeling joyride through a wickedly funny script and slew of equally hilarious original songs. Over the past year and a half, Doyle and Debbie have developed a rabid cult following in Nashville, TN.

6/25/2008                                                                                       View Comments

That was the Old Testament...

By DocMike

leader said, yesterday, that was "distorting the " when he made the following statements in a speech:

Obama asked, "Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?"

Dobson said, "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology," adding that Obama is "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter." He went on to say that Obama should not be referencing "antiquated dietary codes and passages from the that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the ."

Isn't this typical? It's okay for Dobson and other Christians to distort the Bible to fit their world view; for example calling certain parts "antiquated" and "no longer relevant" while claiming other parts are still completely relevant. I wonder who decides which is which...

In my world view, the entire book is antiquated and irrelevant!

I especially like the phrase "traditional understanding of the Bible." I guess that means don't use your own mind (or reason) to figure out what it says or means. Just ask Uncle Jimmy. He'll set you straight on the "real" meaning. After all, we're all too stupid to figure out what the sky-daddy was talking about. Right?

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Christian charity raises money for non-gay famine victims

A report from The Onion news network


Christian Charity Raising Money To Feed Non-Gay Famine Victims

Sexual symbols in religion

Note: This video is not work friendly



A look into the symbolism of sex and it's reflection in religion, modern symbolism, and architecture.

6/24/2008                                                                                       View Comments

The Cambridge Companion to Atheism - Michael Martin


the cambridge companion to ATHEISM In The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, eighteen of the world’s leading scholars present original essays on various aspects of atheism: its history, both ancient and modern, defense, and implications. The topic is examined in terms of its implications for a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, religion, feminism, postmodernism, sociology, and psychology. In its defense, both classical and contemporary theistic arguments are criticized, and the argument from evil and impossibility arguments, along with a nonreligious basis for morality, are defended. These essays give a broad understanding of atheism and a lucid introduction to this controversial topic. Michael Martin is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Boston University. He is the author of more than 150 articles and reviews as well as several books, including Atheism, Morality and Meaning; The Impossibility of God (with Ricki Monnier) and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification.

One less god

What is Atheism?

A paper by Psycholex

Read this document on Scribd: What is Atheism?

What is Atheism? Just about everyone knows what an Atheist is, right? Well, judging by what I've read on the internet, read in chat rooms, & received in Emails; many people still have no clue what Atheism really is! Since not all Atheists have the same view of Atheism as I do, I may not cover your individual outlook on it, but I will attempt to define the basics of Atheism. Defining Atheism To define Atheism, you must first look at its root word, theism. Theism is simply the belief of a god(s). Theism by itself is not a religion; it is just simply a belief, nothing more. Theists can be either polytheists or monotheists, depending on how many gods they choose to believe in. After this we go into specific religions, like islam, judaism, & christianity. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism. The prefix A means "without" or "not", so Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s). It is not a religion, just like theism is not a religion, but there are specific philosophies of Atheism that can be defined as religion, thought since they all lack a belief in a god or the supernatural, they are not true religions, for example Humanism. Atheism also has branches off the basic disbelief. There are "strong Atheists" and "weak Atheists." Strong Atheism usually is a total denial of the existence of god(s); it usually is aimed at one or two specific gods for various reasons. Most Atheists, who think this way, see a belief in a particular religion's god to be totally irrational and see no possibility for the existence of their god. Weak Atheism, is what most Atheists would be; simply without belief in any god(s). Weak Atheists do not believe in god(s) for the simple reason that it is irrational and no evidence for the god has been brought to their attention. Most weak Atheists are quite ready to believe in a god as soon as there is some sort of evidence in its favour. Weak atheists will not choose a particular god to deny, they look at all gods equally. Theists & Atheism Theists generally focus on their individual gods and fail to realise that other gods are believed in besides theirs! They then use this lack of understanding to make all sorts of wild and irrational claims about Atheism. They would like to think that since Atheism does not follow their one "true" god(s), then Atheists must be against their god. We are often lumped together with other theists when this happens, since every other belief system in the world would deny the trueness of that one god, just like Atheists do. They all fail to realise that Atheism is not focuses on individual gods, in some cases they are, but not in the general definition. Atheism deals with the disbelief of all gods, not just those of christianity, islam, wicca, judaism, etc... Theists simply assume that everyone has the same image of god as they do. But the christian's gods are not even remotely similar to the gods of Wicca. So first we must define what a god is, and then can debate weather or not it exist. As long as the theist holds the belief that there is only one god, then the conversation is pointless, because of flawed logic on the part of the theist. This can lead to many headaches as the Atheist attempts to explain how everyone else in the world views god, so the theist can actually understand the position of the Atheist. Theists tend to make some very irrational assumptions about Atheism, most are based on either incorrect information or flat out lies based on hatred. 1. People stop believing in god, so they can sin and do whatever they want. This misconception stems from the idea that atheists not only cannot be moral without god, but in fact do not want to be moral. Theistic, particularly Christian, attitudes towards atheists can often be summarized by the oft-quoted verse Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good. Despite numerous attempts, no theist has ever conclusively demonstrated that belief in their god is required for morality - and in fact there are many good reasons to think that such a claim is simply false. Perhaps there are atheists who rejected belief in gods in order to avoid morality - but I've never encountered any, and the many atheists I have known have had quite different reasons for their atheism. 2. Atheists hate God. This is just a misunderstanding of what Atheism is! Atheists cannot hate something that they do not and cannot believe exists. It's one of those arguments that are designed to make people hate Atheists, nothing more. 3. Atheists worship Satan. Again, we find a theist thinking that for some reason that only their god is relevant to the atheist - and if the atheist does not believe in their god, then they must worship the antithesis of their god, Satan. But the fact of the matter is, atheists who don't believe in a god also aren't going to believe in the god's supernatural competitor, either. 4. Atheist relies as much on faith as theists do. This is theists trying to place their irrational beliefs on Atheists, which is impossible, by definition! Faith is the assumption that something is their without any proof; it is pretty much wishful thinking. Theists try to say everyone has faith in something, but this degrades faith. To say Atheists have faith in science could just as easily be applied to theist’s faith in science. That would then make the theist definition of faith lose al its supernatural meaning, therefore destroying their so-called proof of god through faith. 5. Everyone worships something, so atheists must have some god. This complaint runs along lines very similar to the previous, and sometimes this idea is also expressed by claiming that "Atheism is a religion." Since they cannot imagine living their life without worshipping their god, they also cannot imagine atheists living without worshipping something, like money or humanity. We must redefine worship to make this make any sense. Worship would have to include anything that ultimate concern or most important. This is a grasp at straws, just because you can identify one "most important" aspect of your life, does not constitute worshiping it. By defining worship like this does an injustice to the religious meaning of worship. 6. Atheism is due to bad childhood experiences with false religions. It is certainly true that many atheists have had poor experiences with religion, often in childhood. It is also true that such experiences have caused people to reconsider how they feel about religion and, in some cases, to finally reject religion and even belief in gods. However, this is by far not the only reason why people are atheists. Some, for example, never believed in any gods and never belonged to any religion. 7. All atheists believe in "X." Many theists still try to pigeonhole atheists into a single philosophical straight-jacket - be it humanism, communism, nihilism, objectivism, or something else. By claiming to have identified this other belief system necessary to Atheism, they can then proceed to attack that belief system and pretend to have refuted atheism without ever actually addressing atheism itself. It is certainly true that atheism can be a part of the aforementioned worldviews, among many others, but it is not true that atheism necessitates any of them. Not only does atheism fail to imply an agreement with any one belief system, it also fails to imply agreement with any other atheists. My neighbour might also be an atheist, but we might disagree on nearly every single philosophical and social issue imaginable. Just because we agree on not believing in magic elves, unicorns or gods does not announce to the world that we agree on anything else. Psycholex

Grow up, already!

By Astreja

One of the odder things about Christianity is its tendency to exalt the child at the expense of the adult. In fact, the "Ye must be born again" meme lies at the heart of the evangelical form of the religion.

But is this desirable? Well, it all depends on what the "keepers" of that faith are actually trying to accomplish.

Consider this: In most cultures, the transition to adulthood is a highly significant time. "Childish things" are put aside, and the mantle of responsibility is assumed. In return, the initiate gains the authority to participate in adult matters such as procreation, governance and support of the tribe.

Contrast this with the infantilization of Christians by Christianity. Cast in the role of eternal child to an Eternal Parent, the natural maturing process is short-circuited. Responsibility gives way to "I'm not perfect, just forgiven". Reasoning, skepticism and problem-solving skills are downplayed or denigrated, while credulity is elevated to a virtue.

And then there's all those late-night chats with one's Invisible Friend. Lovely, just lovely.

For the average person, this deliberate abrogation of full maturity is a tragedy of the highest order -- Both for the self and for the community at large.

For those who would lead such trusting young lambs, however...

6/23/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Oh sinner do not stray from the straight and narrow way, for the Lord is surely watching what you do.

Is God a Delusion?



A two-hour debate between Bill Cooke, Senior Lecturer at Manukau Institute of Technology and William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada.

Born and raised in Kenya, Bill Cooke was educated there, in the United Kingdom, and in New Zealand, where he now lives. He is currently Senior Lecturer at the School of Visual Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology, in Auckland and is editor of the NZ Rationalist & Humanist. Cooke has authored several books, including "A Rebel to His last Breath, an intellectual biography of Joseph McCabe" and "A Gathering of Infidels."

William Lane Craig is an American philosopher, theologian, New Testament historian, and Christian apologist. He is an author and lecturer on issues related to the philosophy of religion, the historical Jesus, the coherence of the Christian worldview, and natural theology. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

A tribute to George Carlin

Bullshit


The Ten Commandments


On June 22, 2008, American comedian George Carlin was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California complaining of chest pain. He died later that day at 5:55 p.m. PDT of heart failure at the age of 71. He had a history of cardiovascular issues, including several heart attacks.

"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck."
-- George Carlin
Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, Carlin often denounced the idea of God in interviews and performances. He invented the parody religion Frisbeetarianism, defining it as the belief that when a person dies "his soul gets flung onto a roof, and just stays there" and cannot be retrieved.

Carlin also joked that he worshiped the Sun, because he could actually see it, but prayed to Joe Pesci (a good friend of his in real life) because "he's a good actor", and "looks like a guy who can get things done!"

Carlin also introduced the "Two Commandments", a revised "pocket-sized" list of the Ten Commandments in his HBO special Complaints and Grievances, ending with the additional commandment of "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself."

6/22/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Why I Deny the Virgin Birth of Jesus

By Daniel Florien of UnreasonableFaith.Com.

The test read positive. Ayesha’s face flushed; tears formed in her eyes. She was trapped. She would be killed. She was a stain on her family’s honor. Amir, her soon-to-be husband, would turn her in as soon as he found out. She knew she deserved death. The shame was unbearable.

That night she had a vision. The brightness blinded her at first, but gradually she saw an angelic face and it said, “Ayesha! You are favored indeed by Allah! For God himself is the Father of your child. Do not be afraid. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High.”

The next day Ayesha told her fiancé that God had impregnated her, she was still a virgin, and an angel had told her this. Would you believe Ayesha?

An ancient book says a man 2,000 years ago was born of a virgin and was sired by God himself. I once believed this, because I believed the Bible — a book I thought God himself wrote.

I was wrong. Here are five reasons why I no longer believe in the virgin birth.

1) There is no reliable evidence.

We have no eyewitness accounts, no doctor confirmations, no DNA samples…

Ordinary events require evidence, but extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence. By any classification, the virgin birth is an extraordinary event, yet there is no evidence to support it.

We have no eyewitness accounts, no doctor confirmations, no DNA samples — we have nothing except a couple references in the Bible that were written many decades after the event occurred.

2) The earliest references are late and sparse.

Why is such an important story left out of all the early sources?
Probably because it hadn’t been made up yet.

Paul, the earliest New Testament author, never mentions the virgin birth. For someone who we rely upon for much of Christian theology, it is an odd omission. Paul refers to Jesus’ birth twice (Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4) and never says he was born of a virgin or of different means than anyone else. You’d think that would be important.

The virgin birth is also not in Mark, the earliest gospel, or in John, the only other gospel not based on Mark. Why is such an important story left out of all the early sources? Probably because it hadn’t been made up yet.

Why would the story be made up? Perhaps to fulfill an old prophecy of a virgin birth, which the Gospel of Matthew cites:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Some scholars say “virgin” was a mistranslation in the Septuagint (the Greek translation the gospel writers used), and should have been translated “young woman.” That means the story might have been based on a mistranslation!

It seems likely the virgin birth was created to boost the authority of Christianity through prophecy and compete with rival gods who were born of virgins.

3) It’s the same old myth.

The claims of Jesus’ birth are no different from any of the other virgin birth legends.

Jesus was not the first god to be born of a virgin. Mut-em-ua, the virgin Queen of Egypt, supposedly gave birth to Pharaoh Amenkept III through a god holding a cross to her mouth.

Ra, the Egyptian sun god, was said to be born of a virgin. So was Perseus, Romulus, Mithras, Genghis Khan, Krishna, Horus, Melanippe, Auge and Antiope.

In the ancient world, great men were born of divine fathers and human mothers. Alexander the Great and the Roman emperor Augustus were great men and (therefore) said to have divine fathers. Jesus was also a great man, so he too must have a divine father.

The claims of Jesus’ birth are no different from any of the other virgin birth legends. It doesn’t have any more evidence or appear to be any more likely. Why believe it over the others?

4) Is it more likely to be a lie, or to be true?

“It is therefore at least millions to one, that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.”
Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine, American revolutionary and author, said “Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course, but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time; it is therefore at least millions to one, that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.”

A betrothed teenage girl finds out she is pregnant. The father is not her soon-to-be husband, and he knows this. In her society, the penalty for this prescribed by God is death by stoning. What does she do? She claims an angel appeared to her and told her God impregnated her, and that she is now carrying the Son of God.

Now what is more likely, that she is lying or telling the truth? Even if Mary claimed this herself, we would not believe her. Now consider that the story didn’t appear until over 50 years after it supposedly happened.

The likelihood of the virgin birth being true is very, very, very low.

5) We would never, ever, believe this today.

Imagine if a teenage girl in your neighborhood claimed that her pregnancy was due to God impregnating her and that she was still a virgin. Would you believe her? Or would you think she was lying?

If she insisted on it being true, we would put her in a mental hospital.

Why does this change just because Jesus’ birth happened 2,000 years ago? There is no evidence in favor of it. Even if Mary herself claimed it, there would have been every incentive to lie about it since the only alternative was death. Again, why would anyone believe this?

* * *

We have seen this incredible claim has no reliable evidence and no early Christian sources. There were claims of virgin births before Jesus, and Jesus’ virgin birth was probably invented to compete with those claims. It is far more likely to be a lie than true. And we would never believe anyone who claimed such a thing today.

Because of these reasons, I have no choice but to deny the virgin birth of Jesus — and all other claims of virgin births and divine fathers.


Daniel Florien was an evangelical Christian for over a decade. He attended Bible college to be a pastor and was the guy handing out tracts and knocking on doors. Now he admits he was wrong. To read more about his journey out of Christianity and other tremendous articles like the above, visit Daniel's blog, Unreasonable Faith, at http://unreasonablefaith.com.

Restoration, renewal, and big bucks

By webmdave

For those who remember the scandal a few years ago surrounding Tom Tewell, the pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, and who also remember the nearly worshipful devotion in so many of the comments posted here, and who have developed a decided cynicism toward all things Christian, the following information will come as no surprise.
Salary and Benefits
Salary - $145,000
Housing Allowance - $50,000
Benefits including Pension, Medical and Continuing Education - $80,775
Total - $275,775

The Presbyterian Church has created a job for him, one that pays him over a quarter of a million dollars a year. What is this job? He is the executive director over a new pilot program aimed at "renewing Presbyterian ministers."

Executive Director of The Pilot Project on Renewing Presbyterian Pastors

MISSION STATEMENT

Believing that Leadership is the key to the future of the Church of Jesus Christ and that a congregation cannot go farther spiritually than the Pastor has gone, the Pilot Project, sponsored by the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, the Presbytery of Flint River, and an Atlanta Foundation, seeks to provide practical resources to Presbyterian Pastors in struggling and challenging congregations. We believe that numerical growth is rooted in spiritual growth and that Pastors cannot give away what they are not in the process of experiencing. The 3 year Pilot Project will seek to renew the spiritual lives of clergy in order to create a culture of spiritual growth in congregations who are experiencing declining membership, financial instability and loss of hope. Clergy in challenging congregations often focus on survival rather than focusing on “ equipping the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12). The Pilot Project in Pastoral Renewal provides these pastors some spiritual direction and coaching, as well as practical resources to enrich their own lives and the lives of their congregations. The Pilot Project in Pastoral Renewal will employ an experienced Pastor as the Executive Director who will be able to “walk alongside” clergy in a time of struggle, encourage them in their leadership and offer practical suggestions to help their congregations to grow spiritually and numerically.

JOB DESCRIPTION

The Executive Director of the Pilot Project will be responsible for:

1. Meeting with the Executive and Associate Presbyters of the Greater Atlanta and the Flint River Presbyteries, as well as the appropriate committees, to identify a specific number of clergy who will be included in the pilot program. A process will be developed, in conjunction with the leaders in each Presbytery, to determine how to invite Clergy into the Pilot Program in future years. The first year, our plan is to begin with 10 Clergy- 9 from Greater Atlanta and one from Flint River. 7 of the clergy from Greater Atlanta will be from congregations identified by the Presbytery as primed for growth. A Clergy couple from Greater Atlanta Presbytery who are Pastors of an Emerging Church in the Atlantic Station area will also be included, as will the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, Georgia, in the Flint River Presbytery. It is hoped that approximately 5 additional Clergy will be added to the pilot each year. Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
February 23, 2008.

2. Coordinating a regular Gathering of Clergy in the program for mutual support, prayer, devotional reading and study.

3. Preparing and identifying Small Group Study Materials and Devotional Guides for Clergy in the Pilot to use with their congregations.

4. Providing Regular Individual Coaching Sessions for each Pastor in the Pilot Program to help him or her to develop creative ideas for ministry and hone their pastoral, preaching and leadership skills.

5. Coordinating an Annual Renewal Retreat for Clergy in each of the two Presbyteries, led by experienced clergy, who would be willing to share not only their expertise, but their struggles and failures as well. The Clergy in the Pilot Program would attend the retreat at a minimal cost to themselves or their congregations and would have an opportunity to learn from and get to know some of America’s most creative clergy leaders.

6. Consulting with the clergy in the Pilot Program about such topics as:
A. Leadership – Developing the Leaders around you
B. Creating a Culture of Creativity in a Congregation
C. Best Practices in Ministry
D. Healthy Habits for a Pastor
E. Finding Creative ways to increase Worship Attendance
F. Developing a Vision for the next 5 years in your church
G. Attracting the next Generation into the Church
H. Surviving as a Pastor when you want to Quit!

7. Teaching an occasional Continuing Education Seminar at Columbia Theological Seminary, if invited, on Models of Church Growth ( Spiritual and Numerical) for Clergy and lay leaders.

8. May from time to time take on other assignments at the direction of the CF Foundation staff examples include: Assisting and advising on the Chaplaincy Program in East Lake and involvement in churches assisting with the replication of the East Lake model around the country.

Pilot Program Time Table

This 3 year Pilot Program will begin with the hiring of an Executive Director who will begin in April of 2008. The Pilot will be measured annually against evaluative criteria that will be established by the each Presbytery and the CF Foundation to determine the success of the pilot. The Pilot will conclude at the end of June of
2011 and a determination will be made, at that time, whether the Pilot will become a Permanent Renewal Ministry of the Greater Atlanta Presbytery and the Presbytery of Flint River.

Salary and Benefits
Salary - $145,000
Housing Allowance - $50,000
Benefits including Pension, Medical and Continuing Education - $80,775
Total - $275,775


To read the publicly released report from the Atlanta Presbytery, click here. The quotation above comes from page 29 in the report which appears on page 10 in the .pdf file.

Is this job really worth a quarter million a year? Is this why Christians want to give money to their churches?

What is wrong with this picture? Or is anything wrong with it all?

What do you think?

6/19/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Deity Comparison Test

Sponsored by


Tim Simmons, CEO


How does your god stack up? With so many gods on the table, how can you be sure you're worshiping the very best god?

Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on... Oh, wait. Sorry. Just take this simple test to see how your god compares, but be HONEST! If you aren't honest with yourself, the results will be worthless and why even bother? Each question has two choices so pick the BEST answer.

(Click here to take the test...)

Come back here to comment!

6/18/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Debunking Christian Apologetics: Fanaticism "Proof"

By John L Armstrong



Does the alleged fanaticism in the face of the alleged persecution of the alleged disciples and apostles prove the validity of Christian belief?

If so, does it also prove a variety of other cults and religions who's followers and leaders demonstrated the exact same fanaticism?

6/17/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Does a belief in God give us morality?

From www.TheBlackAtheist.com

Two of the most common arguments in favor of the existence of God—or against atheism— are: 1. God gives us morality, 2. without religion people would be immoral. These arguments, which are essentially one in the same, are illogical and ill-informed on several counts. Nonetheless, this type of thinking permeates so much of our culture. We can approach, and subsequently debunk, this argument somewhat scientifically:

1)One popular assumption is that the “godless” are less moral than those who believe in God. If we use propensity to commit crime as a measure of moral health, you would expect that there would be a high ratio of atheists in prison. But studies have shown that at least 80% of people in US prisons define themselves as religious: 50% as Baptist or Catholic, and roughly 30% claim to have a religious preference but do not specify a specific religion or denomination. Additionally, if morality was a byproduct of a belief in God, than states with a high number of believers would conceivably have lower rates of crime than those that are comparably more secular. But this is also entirely untrue. SC ,Tenn, Tex, Louisiana and Georgia all rank among the top 10 in terms of crime rates, and these states are the heart of the Bible Belt...but if there are so many believers then why do these places have the highest rates of crime? The point is if we use crime rates as a metric, a high degree of religiosity does not correlate with morality, which is exactly what you would expect if religion or a belief in God were the bedrock of our sense of morality.


2) What about Hitler? Theists just love to point out that the mass murderers of the 20th century (Hitler, Stalin, etc) were all atheists, which proves atheists are evil and cannot be trusted in positions of power. Again, this view is not based in the facts. Hitler's ideology contained both pro- and anti-religious doctrines and dogmas so at the very least his religiosity is inconclusive. On one hand, he speaks about carrying out 'His' (God’s) will in exterminating the Jews and the importance of prayer. On the other hand, he speaks of maintaining the superiority of the state over the church. Beyond that, anyone who has ever read the Bible knows it provides ample anti-Semitic ideology. Not surprisingly, Antisemitism in Germany was biblically based and these ideas were prevalent in German society well before Hitler ever came to power. My point is that, despite Hitler's religious ambiguity, Antisemitism would never have been tolerated if not for its biblical roots.

Stalin was a self-affirming atheist but he does not support the conclusion that atheism leads to moral decay since he never killed anyone because of his atheism. Compare that to murderers that are clearly motivated by their religion—Timothy McVeigh, the September 11th martyrs, abortion clinic bombers, etc. Who could dispute that, but for a belief in the afterlife and the ideas of martyrdom, Islamic terrorists would lose most of their destructive motivation? Who could deny that religious ideology has been the root cause of innumerable conflicts in modern times?

3) More recently, scientists have begun studying what underlies morality. They’ve found that regardless of social class, religious upbringing, or country of origin, people have similar basic principals regarding morality. Additionally, specific areas of the brain are activated in response to moral questions. Collectively, these studies suggest that our sense of morality is innate and, therefore, independent of religious background. If our morality is not dependent on religion then where does it come from? Although the jury is still out, there is evidence of morality in animals. One study demonstrated that a chimpanzee will starve itself in order to prevent harm to another chimp and studies from behavioral biology clearly demonstrate that social primate societies are intolerant of rape or theft. This is obvious evidence of morality among creatures that completely lack the capacity to believe in God.

From the examples above, it is clear that being religious and believing in God does not correlate in any way with social health or general morality. Furthermore, scientists are beginning to understand where our morality comes from and it is clear from the work done thus far that our sense of right and wrong has roots in our evolutionary past--not a system of beliefs and ideologies invented merely 2000 years ago.

6/16/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Believing the Unbelievable: The Clash Between Faith and Reason in the Modern World



Sam Harris speaking at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Conference.

Sam Harris is the author of two best-selling books, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. He speaks regularly on television and radio about the danger he believes religion poses to modern societies. His essays have appeared in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, The Boston Globe, and numerous other publications. A graduate in philosophy of Stanford University, for 20 years he has studied both Eastern and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative disciplines. He is also currently completing a doctorate in neuroscience.

This video is approximately 70 minutes in length.


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6/15/2008                                                                                       View Comments

If God hates homosexuals, then...

By Brother Jeff
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. -- Mohandas Gandhi

I find myself in agreement with Gandhi. Though I don’t believe that he was god, I have nothing in particular against Christ. I do, however, have something against Christians, and it is this -- I hate their willful ignorance and I hate their bigotry and intolerance. I am referring specifically to homosexuality.

I get so tired of hearing about how homosexuality is allegedly a “sin” and an abomination worthy of death and eternal damnation. I get so tired of hearing Christians -- who are supposedly filled the the Holy Spirit and the Love of Jesus -- continually spout hatred and bigotry against homosexuals. I get so tired of their willful ignorance in this area. I have news for Christians -- you have no idea what you are talking about, the opinions of the authors of your Bronze Age Book of Myths be damned.

If you actually, truly knew anything at all about homosexuality, you would know that it is present throughout the animal kingdom, and you would know that it is as natural as heterosexuality is. You would also know that homosexuality may have evolutionary advantages. See the latest issue of Scientific American Mind for the details, if you have any interest in educating yourselves.

Another News Byte for Christians -- there is no such thing as some evil “homosexual agenda” as you imagine, with homosexuals out to destroy America and the traditional family unit. That’s a delusion and a myth that you have been taught to believe in church. Homosexuals, in reality, want nothing more than the same basic rights that heterosexual couples enjoy, and they most certainly should have them. I have personally known several homosexual individuals over the years, and not one of them has been “evil” or “immoral” in any way. They all have, in fact, been fine, upstanding members of society.

There is nothing at all “wrong” with being homosexual just as there is nothing “wrong” with being left-handed. Genetics is key in both. If God hates homosexuals, then he must also hate the left-handed. I am very thankful that my mother raised me to see that those who are different from me are not necessarily “wrong” or “evil”, but just simply different. I see no reason to hate those who are different from me, and that includes homosexuals.

Jesus, by the way, hung out with “sinners” instead of hating them. Christians, don’t you think it’s about time that you did the same? Whenever you express hatred, bigotry, and intolerance, you send the message that that is what your religion stands for, and believe me, we get that message loud and clear! When you start showing love and tolerance and respect for others who differ from you, then perhaps we’ll believe you when you claim that your religion is about love.

Glory!

6/14/2008                                                                                       View Comments

How to be a Bible Apologist

From the EAC:

An Eight-Step Guide to Bible Literalism through Christian Apologetics

Step One

Accept the divine, absolute, and literal truth of the Bible.

This is by far the most important step: If the Bible isn't the literal and absolute truth, we might as well just give up the whole game right now.

Step Two


Redefine "literal" when needed.

Yes, the Bible is a the literal word of God. We all know that from step one. But does this mean that every word is supposed to be taken literally? The answer is yes, except in those cases where it isn't.

For example, the Bible clearly says that God hates homosexuality. That part is literal. The bible also says that God hates mixing different fibers in clothing. That part is not literal.

Now, critics will ask "Ok, but how did you decide?" If this happens, do not panic. A few simple rules of thumb will help:

Shortcut: Before applying these rules, ask the questioner if he or she is an atheist. If so, mention that some famous atheist writer or another is a god to them and then you don't have to proceed any further. It's in the rules, I checked.

a) Everything in the Bible is literally true until it is questioned.

b) If the section is question is not in contradiction with anything else in the Bible, it is most likely literally true.

c) If the section is question is in seeming contradiction with something else in the Bible, it is a possible candidate for requiring interpretation.

d) If the section is question is in seeming contradiction with something in the outside world, it is a possible candidate for requiring interpretation.

e) If the section is question would lead to ridiculous or uncomfortable conclusions if taken at face value, it is a possible candidate for requiring interpretation.

Note the words "possible" and "candidate" on these last few: the preferred situation by far is to have everything be literally true. In cases where this is unfortunately not possible, your job as an apologist is to properly interpret the nearly literal statements to make them figuratively literal and relevant again.

Many non-apologists incorrectly assume that since God wrote the Bible, it should be clear, concise, and without the need for interpretation. We apologists know better. The real skill is to know when the Bible is clear, concise and not needing interpretation, but also to know when it does. Following the rules above will show you the way.

So, God hating homosexuality is literal. God hating mixing diverse fibers in clothing is not literal. Perhaps it is a metaphor for not mixing with other races, or possibly it has to do with the way the ancients divided their world into categories, or following the practice of not mixing fibers was a sign of love for God, or it only applied to the ancients and not to modern people, etc. Which one you choose is not important. The important part is that you can now wear wool and linen at the same time without being sent to hell, but still know that Liberace is there.

Important Note Some "Newage Christians" might try to use this step to say that Genesis allows for evolution if you read it just right. For reasons I won't go into right now, this is incorrect.

In a similar manner, when God says to keep some law "forever", it may or may not mean a literal "forever". To find out if it was meant literally, just look around:

Is the law still practiced by Christians today?

Do you think it should be practiced today?

If the answer to either of these is "yes", then it probably meant "forever" literally. If not, check to see if a later passage says something which would lead you to believe it wasn't a literal "forever". Chances are it was not a literal "forever". It could have been just a metaphor for "a good long time" and only said "forever" as a kind of hyperbole to show He meant it really good and proper.

There is one caveat though: while it may be all well and good to interpret large portions of the Bible as metaphor and hyperbole, you should still know that those sections are still literally true and not at all the same as saying the Bible should be read as an allegory today.

And always remember, it's you, the apologist, who gets to apply these rules and interpretations; not the critics. So if someone else's interpretation of a section makes the Bible say something you personally disagree with, you can simply discard it. You must always keep in mind the purpose of this whole project is to make the Bible literally true and relevant for today: so, anything that makes it worse is obviously not a proper interpretation.

Another, more advanced, technique in re-interpreting so-called problem sections takes a bit of practice: pretend to learn ancient Hebrew and Greek better than almost anyone else so you can re-translate a section to know what was "really meant" instead of the meaning from the more common translation that is causing the problem.

An example of this would be the global flood in Genesis. If you think this is causing a problem because of a (supposed) total lack of evidence of such an event, just say that when it said "all" the world was flooded, the word that was used in the old text was really not intended to mean "all" like it is commonly translated, it really just meant "some part of" the world. But again, this is optional: You could take any number of angles to make it literally true.

Many many "problems" can be set straight by interpretation. However, I cannot stress enough that you should only attempt to re-translate and interpret those sections being questioned. You would not want to go to a random passage and see if there are any mis-translated words or areas that can be taken as hyperbole. So do not, under any circumstances, interpret or re-translate a section which no one is questioning, those are by definition already literally true!

The best part of re-interpretation is that you can still believe in the common meaning when you want: you only have to acknowledge the re-interpreted meaning when someone questions it, which is the subject of our next step:

Step Three

Learn to believe two or more contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Helpful Tip: Use this step to believe in the Trinity.

You, as a Bible apologist, should be able to believe any number of mutually contradictory ideas. For example, you should have no problem believing that the Old Testament is the unchanging word of God, and, at the same time, believe that the New Testament is the unchanging word of God. This seemingly impossible feat is easily accomplished.

Let us take the above as an example and look at each section in detail:

The Old Testament is the unchanging word of God.

This is obviously true. Since the Bible is the divine word of God, the Old Testament is literally and absolutely true. Therefore, all the stories, conclusions, and moral lessons of the Old Testament are still valid and are valuable and relevant for today.

The New Testament is the unchanging word of God.


This is obviously true. Since the Bible is the divine word of God, it is literally and absolutely true. Therefore, all the stories, conclusions, and moral lessons of the New Testament are valid and are valuable and relevant for today.

If anyone were to intimate that these two collections of stories are mutually exclusive and incoherent if viewed as one treatise on God, religion or morality, you can quite properly inform them that they are both true and do not contradict each other.

So to the ancient Hebrews, God was a angry cloud who demanded sacrifices and rituals and had myriad laws and statutes from which the slightest deviation could result in the deaths of thousands. To the early Christians, God was a transcendant being who required next to nothing but private prayer and actively worked to prevent the punishment of people who had committed moral crimes what would previously have required stoning. The glory of this step is that both of these are true... They are both accurate representations of one unchanging God.

This is true for any number of reasons. You could, for example, let them know that the important moral lessons and knowledge of God gathered from the literal stories have a deep dependence on the time, place, economy and culture where they originated. So, if viewed through the lens of those dependencies, both accounts point to the one overriding theme or something (Please see step six if the idea of culturally-dependent moral lessons sounds realistic). Or get creative: invent one of your own! A liberal application of step two will help greatly.

Step Four

Ignore or re-interpret the last 600 years of scientific knowledge

Helpful Tip: A good rule of thumb is to try to re-interpret science before you try to re-interpret the literal Bible.

Many of those who attack the Bible will try to use science to show that parts of the Bible aren't literally true. When someone does this, you have several courses of action available. You can:

a) Claim science is wrong.

b) Claim that the attacker believes science to be a god.

c) Claim science has always agreed with Bible.

d) Redefine "literal" (via step two) so you can claim the Bible doesn't actually say what the attacker claims.

While many apologists automatically choose the first option, the others are equally valid.

Shortcut: Before you bother to refute a critic, simply see if there is someone with a Ph.D with views similar to yours. If so, you win. The field of study doesn't matter: a Biblical apologist Ph.D. wins automatically in any argument on any topic (see step one).

For example, when a Bible attacker tries to attack Genesis by saying "it isn't possible that there was a global flood because of scientific reasons x, y, and z," you can:

a) Claim that science is wrong and can't explain anything, and therefore reasons x, y, and z are just designed to mislead people into thinking there are problems with the Bible.

b) Claim that the attacker believes science to be a god. It doesn't actually address the issue, but it's fun.

c) Claim there is plenty evidence for a global flood and science will one day prove it and answer x, y, and z, and therefore science totally and completely agrees with the Bible.

d) Claim that the Bible doesn't say the flood was global, therefore reasons x, y, and z don't apply.

As an apologist, you are free to choose any of these, depending on the objections raised. (You should also be willing to accept all of them if the situation dictates.)

For example, we know that evolution simply does not happen; the literal reading of Genesis tells us that. But we can still also believe that evolution does happen in cases where it will help support the Bible.

"Really?" You say? Yes. During the global flood (if you read it that way), Noah built a big boat to hold all the different "kinds" of animals. The "problem" is, if you define a "kind" as a species, there wouldn't be room (if you acknowledge that). So if you define "kinds" as geneses or families, there just might be room possibly. So after the flood, all the animals evolved into the various species we have today on their ways back to their native lands. (See step three)

Another fun technique is to mention that some miracle depicted in the Bible is explainable by scientific means. However, you must be extremely careful when applying science to the miracles of the Bible. If you do it occasionally you can win an argument that such and such miracle was possible, and it just might quell some doubts in the semi-faithful. But just because a miracle can be explained by science, actually doing so to all of the miracles of the Bible would not be desirous: there'd be no miracles left!

Step Five

Acknowledge the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible.

As a Bible apologist, one of your main occupations is to locate and be amazed at all the wonderful and fulfilled prophecies contained in the Bible. After accepting the previous steps, this step should present no problem.

Helpful Tip: Those of you with a background in logic may find the idea of supporting a proposition with that same proposition a bit strange, but because we already know the Bible is literally true, we can use the Bible to support the Bible.

The prophecies you will find in the Bible are not always in the form of "Event X will happen in the future", and are never in the form of "Event X will happen at 12:30 on December 8 102 AD in the city of Jerusalem to Jacob who owns that bakery on 1st street" (which is what many non-apologists incorrectly expect), but these facts shouldn't slow you down: you are an apologist, mere facts can't stop you. We'll just apply the previous steps to reveal the prophecies.

a) Because of step one, we already know the Bible is the divine and literal word of God, so now we can use this knowledge to automatically assume all the prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled, thus supporting the literal Bible further.

b) Using step two, we can make virtually any phrase found in the Bible into some sort of prophecy.

c) Step three allows us to believe the facts and prophecies are in agreement.

d) Thanks to step four, we can bend facts around to fulfill even the most tenuous of prophecies

What you'll be looking for, mainly, is phrases in the Old Testament that can be twisted around (via step two) so they remotely resemble something found in the New Testament.

So when you see a phrase like "Do not break any of the bones" in the old testament, you, as an apologist, should easily be able to read that as a prophecy if you just try. Since none of Christ's bones were broken, we know that "Do not break any of the bones" must have been a prophecy, even though it was referring to slaughtering a sheep and didn't mention anything about being a prophecy of Christ.

If someone was to claim that one of these prophecies is not actually a prophecy, just a similarly worded piece of text or simply a repetition of a previous story for context's sake, you can either ignore it (the preferred method), or claim it isn't a prophecy and fulfillment after all, it is just a set of interesting passages which mutually validate each other. This makes it a very neat usage of step three, allowing you to believe it is a prophecy while simultaneously believing it is not a prophecy.

Important Note: It's very important that you don't try to use this same technique with other religious texts, only the Bible. While it's true that you may find the same kind of "prophecies" in other religious and even secular books, those are not true prophecies since they are not in the Bible (see step one). You may find it helpful to avoid reading any books that aren't written by Hank Hanegraaff.

Another significant portion of the prophecies you will find are prophecies of things outside the Bible. The general idea is to claim that anytime the Bible mentions a town, village, nation, person, or event; it is a prophecy. So if the Bible mentions a nation called "Egypt", and there really was a nation called "Egypt", this makes that Biblical reference a fulfilled prophecy. As you can imagine, this means there are literally thousands of these prophecies. Many non-apologists will try to debunk these kinds of prophecies, saying that all ancient books reference thousands of physical locations, almost all of which really do exist. The answer is simple: they aren't from the Bible, so therefore they don't count.

One of the best types of these external prophecies is the prophecy of the destruction of a city. There are many of these in the Bible. Take the city of Sodom as an example: the Bible tells us that the ancient city Sodom was destroyed by God, and sure enough, after 3000 years, the city doesn't exist. It was so thoroughly destroyed that modern archaeologists can't even agree the city of Sodom ever even existed!

The most famous of these prophecies is the prophecy of the destruction of the city of Tyre: the Bible clearly says it will be destroyed and never, ever, be rebuilt, and if we apply the previous steps, we can certainly make this absolutely true. Non-apologists will likely say the city still exists and there are over a hundred thousand people who live there, but this shouldn't concern you: you're an apologist! We'll just interpret the literal story to say any of the following corrections:

a) "Sure it still exists, but it's not nearly as important as it was, therefore the prophecy was fulfilled. Really!"

b) "When the Bible say it won't ever be rebuilt, it was just hyperbole, and was meant to show how strongly God felt about destroying it in the first place (see step two.)"

c) "The Bible was talking only about the part of the city which has never been rebuilt, not the part which has."

d) "The prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, one day the city will be destroyed, and then it will never ever be rebuilt."

Since the city still exists, the real meaning of the prophecy must have been one of them; otherwise the passage would not be literally true and it obviously is. Of course, if the city did not exist and people weren't pointing it out, you would not want to use any of these since it would be literally true and no correction would be needed!

Step Six

Learn that moral relativism is not true.

Moral relativism, the belief that all moral decisions and evaluations are dependent on the surrounding society and culture, is simply not true. If something is wrong, it is wrong for all people at all times.

Take slavery for example: we modern Christians know slavery is wrong, and that slave-holders are immoral, but 200 years ago people thought slavery was perfectly moral. If the moral relativists are right, those slave-holders weren't immoral, they were just following the morality of their times. But, since we modern Christians know that slavery was always wrong, there must be an absolute morality as given by the Bible.

Step Seven


Learn that absolute morals can change depending on the situation or society.


Helpful Tip: Many non-apologists will call this "stupid" or "a cop out". If this occurs, it's a good idea to question the morality and/or sexual preference of the attacker, but be sure to ignore any answers given, or at least re-interpret them in a negative light.


Now while it's true that slavery is, and always has been, morally wrong, this doesn't mean that slavery was always always morally wrong. There are many situations where the rules of the time and the culture of the society cause the absolute morality to be modified.

This means that while slave-holders were wrong to keep slaves 200 years ago, it wasn't wrong for people in ancient Israel to keep slaves.

This is because of any or all of the following reasons:

a) In that society slavery was simply the way things were done back then, so God "put up with it".

b) Slavery just wasn't that bad for Hebrew slaves, rather like Club Med in fact.

c) Slavery might have been slightly harsher for non-Hebrew slaves (minor things like beating them, selling them, and stealing their spouses and children), but it kept them from sinning by giving them something useful to do.

d) It was based on nationality and ethnicity, not race, and so it got the "moral thumbs up" from God.

e) It was really for the best, since the slavery provided shelter and food for the slaves, and good labor for the owners.

Remember, none of these points have anything to do with moral relativism. This is true because there is no moral relativism in the Bible.

Following this same scheme, it is possible to resolve all the so-called "moral conflicts" in the Bible, all without ever saying the phrase "moral relativism".

Helpful Tip: The last thing you want in a discussion of morality is someone pointing out outrageous moral behavior, so don't allow critics to use the Bible as evidence to show the Bible is not a good moral guide. Besides, the use of morality in a discussion about morality is a fallacy.

So, when Bible attackers ask such mean-spirited questions as "If it wasn't wrong for the ancient Hebrews to own slaves, and now it is, didn't morality change?" you can safely say "No: morality didn't change, the situation and cultural context changed... in a way that doesn't involve any moral relativism of course."

All questions about the differences between the Biblical and the present morality of things like incest, adultery, racism, women's equality, child welfare, rape, murder, and genocide are also easily dismissed using this method.

Another method you may find useful is to claim the past behavior was seen as acceptable because a "greater good" was done. Thus, when God commanded people to murder and/or rape all the women and children of entire towns and nations, this was so those women and children wouldn't end up in hell, or be able to cause others to sin, or something else bad.

So murder, rape, and genocide were always wrong, but when God commanded people to do it back then, it wasn't moral relativism, so it was good. However, this argument only applies to the past: genocide, rape, and murder are really really wrong now, so do not try them now, no matter what greater good might come out of them!

You may want to re-read the previous steps if you have any questions on this step.

Step Eight

Become comfortable with your own insanity.

Helpful Tip: To help combat doubts, try sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "La la la la la la" repeatedly.

During the process of becoming a Bible apologist, you may find yourself becoming quite insane. Don't worry, this is a normal, and even necessary, step on the road to true Bible literalism.

Many people become frightened at their growing insanity at this stage and back off, saying it's impossible to reconcile the literal Bible with the world around us, or even with itself.

But, alas, they are wrong. It is quite possible to do these things, but you must first become comfortable with your own cognitive dissonance. You must learn to believe all the impossible and contradictory ideas inherent in Bible literalism.

You must learn to believe the Bible is both an ancient work of literature which must be interpreted through the lens of those who wrote it while simultaneously believing it to be a profoundly relevant moral treatise for modern life.

Your blossoming insanity is the key to your future as a Bible apologist.

Conclusion


Congratulations! You are now well on your way to becoming a Bible apologist!


Though this guide doesn't try to be a comprehensive resource on Biblical literalism, we hope it has answered some of the non-apologists' objections, and helped you along the path towards true Bible apologetics.

Messed-Up Bible Stories: Adam and Eve

6/08/2008                                                                                       View Comments

RELIGION vs. SCIENCE -- a familiar story?

By Tom C

I really love this website! - many thanks to everyone here for not suffering in silence and reminding me how un-alone I am as an ex-Xtian. Having eagerly digested lots of the juicy philosophical debate on exchristian.net, I feel compelled to contribute some thoughts that may be relevant for some to a couple of the more popular topics here on site.

Disclaimer: I have to admit that personally I feel quite strongly about some of these things, and my enthusiasm may come through in a slightly assertive writing style at times, but let me assure you I'm not trying to convert anyone (and if I do convert someone they've seriously missed the point!) These are just thoughts, intended to inspire thoughts, and any implications of value judgments are for the most part unintentional, but left in to keep things interesting and to preserve the original flow of said thoughts.

Just see what -you- think...

***

I II III

I. Having only just left the relative comforts of blind faith in one thing, it is all too easy to jump in feet first with blind faith in the next vaguely believable thing that comes along — think spiritual 'rebounding'.

II. Leaving the spiritual and intellectual confines of the church can feel like a massive 'awakening', but (following that analogy) after such a heavy night it can be so tempting to fall asleep at the bus stop and miss the journey you were previously dreaming of.

III. An escape from oppression/depression/hell/whatever into freedom/happiness/heaven/whatever doesn't end at debunking Xtianity (though it's as good a start as any!).

---

RELIGION vs. SCIENCE
a familiar story?


1. Religion vs. Science
2. Science wins (obviously!)
3. Science claims Religion's place
4. Science becomes Religion
5. repeat from 1.

Science is deep down just as much of a religion as all the others. In it's purest form it is the religion of CHANGE, and as such is wholly commendable as far as I'm concerned. However, in a less refined sense it exhibits many of the blindness and arrogance of the less credible religions:

When pitted against other's 'stupid beliefs', Science is often fought for just as fervently, and some of it's followers seem to really enjoy convincing themselves (and others) they have the monopoly on truth (or as they call it "fact"). But under the wrong conditions it will inevitably lead to just as much of a rigid, mechanistic, impersonal and pointless an existence as Xtianity.

Once you've got your head out of your ass it's pretty easy to satisfactorily debunk a lot of the Bibles rambling narrative - after all, it's only one book's worth of information; checking it out shouldn't take too long.

But compared with Xtianity, the doctrinal material of Science is so broad and often so esoteric that it would take a ridiculously long time to satisfactorily check absolutely everythingin person. Despite this, for many the assumption is that Science doesn't need checking, that it's assertions can just be accepted by the layman as gospel.

In all its logical glory, Science is simply a vast, mostly useful collection of suppositions upon suppositions upon theories about uncertainties that it's often easiest to treat as 'fact' but are basically a 'best fit' thing. Yes certain suppositions provide useful marker points or hand/foot holds for getting things done, and are often empirically more or less on the money, but that doesn't mean to say that they are the outright and absolute 'truth'.

We can lay Scientific theories over reality in our mind, but they are not reality itself:
"The map is not the territory" [Alfred Korzybski]


By this logic, perhaps the closest human beings can get to the REALITY that Science appears to be attempting to usurp would be through experiencing something you can feel through your own senses and/or interpret with your own mind.

If we as a species are ever going to get to the bottom of things, we need to avoid atomizing ourselves through our own stupidity. I reckon it's gonna to be up to each individual person — not a god, not religious leaders, not politicians, not scientists, not family values, not peer pressures — to make of reality what he or she will and to take responsibility for that highly individual choice regarding 'the truth'.

When leadership-types say, "This is how it is," we should all be rebuking their blinding assertions with, "Maybe. Let us find out for ourselves what we can and get back to you on that", instead of just nodding in compliance then defending that leader's B.S. as if it was our own.

Knowing the volumes of a pseudo-religious entity like Science will never be as satisfactory as the actual experience of reality — without first-hand experience, it is just THEORY, and if it was clearly presented as such there would probably be less of a problem with scientific religiosity. i.e.:
"Current studies so far, using the best equipment available at the time, appear to be showing, in the majority of cases, while under lab conditions, that this might be the way this works."

Of course, such wordplay quickly becomes absurd and unreadable, so a degree of shorthand inevitably becomes involved. Then things often get even more condensed. So, what we end up with is some "Statements of fact" which was derived from the reduced shorthand of a complex theory that took many years to research and check, and that realistically requires a whole bookshelf chock full of paperwork to properly explain and understand. All that's left to most of us is a single paragraph, phrase, or sound byte, not something the creator of the theory would have wanted.

It worries me to see how often scientific approximations so rapidly become "This is how it is!" in the minds of those distant to the source of a particular scientific theory. Eyes become closed to any conflicting information which should be taken into account, investigated, and maybe even used to advance a theory into something even closer to reality.

If the insidious mechanisms and metaphysical stupidities exemplified by Xtianity are ever going to become a thing of the past, we need to be careful not to let our guard down; As a catalyst for change and growth is great, but I get a very uneasy feeling about the way Science is used by leadership types to convince others to do as they want, and I worry I may be already seeing more people falling for it than for Xtianity.

Large groups of humans have always had a way of 'normalizing' themselves, subverting and consuming the 'pure' and diluting it with meaninglessness. It's probably a safety mechanism of sorts that aims to totally neutralize anything that might cause change in the group. The effect often seems to be just as strong for positive change as negative change, probably due to how difficult it can be to tell the two apart before it's too late.

But if we are able, we ourselves have an important choice to make — to either try and stay one step ahead of the consensus, or else be consumed, compartmentalized and sedated by a herd mentality. I'm not saying there's a right choice to be made there, but I know which one I'd choose.

---

-ATHEISM vs. DEISM-


Just a thought: blindly being convinced, without any doubt, and without incontrovertible evidence, that THERE IS NO GOD is just as fearfully stupid, socially/psychologically dangerous, and ultimately nonsensical as blindly being convinced without any doubt that THERE IS A GOD.

"God... a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive." [Ayn Rand]

By definition one cannot prove or disprove God exists. If we proved he/she/it existed it wouldn't be God. So lengthy debates on the subject are at best tantamount to theological/philosophical masturbation; at worst there can end up being a hell of a lot of self-deception going on.

"Try telling that to the Xtians,"

Yes, I know.

All I'm saying is that if you flat out deny the existence of God, you're asking for trouble from those with the diametrically opposite viewpoint, and you won't have a logical leg to stand on. Barring personal amusement or post-Xtianity catharsis, it's kinda futile.

***

In a nutshell:

Xtianity and its notions of God seem to be very obviously manipulative B.S. when contrasted with the relative sanity offered by Science. But still, denying the possibility of the existence of 'the infinite' and then whole heartedly championing a mechanistic Victorian religion in it's place is, by it's own rules, just 'bad science' (just as pretty much 99.9999% of Jeebus freaks are, by their own rules bad xtians').

If anything, these thoughts are a call for vigilance. In the 'modern' world where god is either dying or dead already, the doctrine of Science, wielded by the unscrupulous and manipulative, is gradually beginning to offer the same bogus carrot religion did to the many fearful and confused among us:
"Here is a world of clear cut, externally mediated concepts — rules you can live by so you don't have to take responsibility for your actions... Here, let us show you how to make the total chaos surrounding you seem fair and rational... That'll be $50 please..."


Sound familiar?

---

Tom, 21, UK
Hail Eris! D

6/07/2008                                                                                       View Comments

Who wrote the Bible?

A film by Robert Beckford



In 2004, Robert Beckford hosted a documentary called Who Wrote the Bible? in the UK. Beckford begins this documentary with this question and pursues the assertion that the Bible's history involves multiple revisions, exclusion and political imperative.

The documentary is NOT meant to be inflammatory, but informative.

Length: approximately 100 minutes long.