Chr



"J. P. Holding"
A Christian apologist named Robert Turkel, who goes by the name "J.P. Holding" online, maintains a web site called Tekton Apologetic Ministries. Turkel's site contains a large number of essays in which he insults Bible skeptics and attempts to attack their positions. Turkel actually had a page devoted to deceased Bible skeptics entitled Rogue's Cemetery. Very tasteful.

Curiously, Turkel seems to have a great deal of trouble actually providing links to the articles upon which he heaps his scorn, which makes for a bizarre website. In his "Rogue's Gallery" section, he mainly appears to be fighting an army of foes that only he can see. How hard is it to make a link, anyway? Why is it so incredibly difficult for Turkel, who earned a Master's degree in Library Science and who has worked for many years as a reference librarian, to simply paste in a URL? Actions speak much louder than words and clearly the problem here is that Turkel is terrified of what skeptics write. Of course he does link to some skeptic's articles and to some debate responses, but this behavior is the exception rather than the rule. His "explanation" for why he links to Christian articles but does not link to most of the skeptical articles that he attacks is that these latter articles can be found using search engines!

The folks at the Secular Web are familar with Turkel's modus operandi:

"...he avoids linking to or even naming the essays he rebuts, and usually avoids so much as naming the author he is attacking. He also routinely changes his essays after being refuted, yet rarely announces the changes or concessions in any way, and he also employs childish insults and other rudeness."

(To see the full quotation above, Go here.)

Some other details about this apologist:

I became aware of much of this only after getting into a discussion with Mr. Turkel. He offers his e-mail address for questions-so I decided to e-mail him a few questions in 1999. After three or four exchanges he asked me to post my next questions publicly. I have complied with his wish and have decided to include all of our correspondence here, further on in this page. Immediately below I am posting a large number of links to other people's replies to Turkel as well as some of Turkel's own writings. I believe that Mr. Turkel's actions and statements demonstrate the dangers of fundamentalist indoctrination. My hope is that readers will find the information on this page educational and enlightening.

If you would like to contact Mr. Turkel, you can reach him at his e-mail address or you can get into a discussion with him on this free discussion board for Christian apologetics.




'James Patrick Holding,' the Want-to-Be Apologist

An interesting article about this apologist.

Tektonics Ministry

My own modest contribution to this genre. Turkel's dishonesty is examined and a page of hilarious Turkel quotes is provided. This site is still under construction.

The Turkey Challenge

More of Turkel's dishonesty is exposed, and he is challenged to a live debate on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

TEKTONICS.ORG EXPOSED!

A great site that contains a collection of links and information that detail Turkel's weak apologetics. This essay from the site employs Turkel's style of apologetic doublespeak to demonstrate that the cow really did jump over the moon.

Turkel's Software Blunder

This is actually an essay from The TEKTONICS.ORG EXPOSED site. The essay details a very revealing mistake Turkel made when, in a discussion with Farrell Till, he tried to explain a repeated word in the book of John. Turkel claimed that the author of the book repeated the word twice for emphasis:

"First let's understand exactly what is in John here. The words are 'rise again from the dead' -- 'rise again' is the Greek anistemi used twice for emphasis. In fact this we will see is the key to the whole issue; the word is commonly used for anyone just getting up from their place."

Unfortunately for Turkel, the word was not actually repeated twice. Software that Turkel was using repeated the word and he didn't catch the error. Turkel's explanation of why the author repeated the word is simply bogus-something he made up off the top of his head. This reference has now disappeared from Turkel's site.

Ebon Musings and Turkel

A rebuttal to a Turkel rebuttal. In it, the author asks Turkel what he would accept, hypothetically, as a Bible contradiction. Despite being asked the question numerous times, Turkel never answers it. Gee, I wonder why?

Ebon author describes Turkel's apologetics

This author deserves to be quoted at length:

"In regards to more substantive material, it is my impression that Mr. Holding essentially has only one argument, only one defense to skeptical attacks and charges of contradiction. This defense recurs throughout his site, phrased in a variety of different ways and appearing in a number of different guises, but it always boils down to the same thing. This defense, as I have pointed out before, is essentially, 'The Bible doesn't mean what it says.'"

"Naturally, though, Mr. Holding is never this blatant about saying so, and he has devised a wide variety of ways to say it so as not to appear that he is repeating himself. He might say that the Bible can't be 'read like a newspaper'. He might say that statements in it are 'paradoxical' or 'in tension', but they are never contradictory. It's not true that God doesn't know everything, but nevertheless there are some verses where he 'feigns ignorance' and acts as if he doesn't. It's not true that two gospels depict the same event as having happened at different times - that's just an example of 'dischronologized narrative'. If a blanket statement contradicts some other verses, that statement is 'proverbial literature' and thus non-absolute; or else there were exceptions 'implicit in the social context'. Or else that statement is a 'strong, colorful expression', an 'outrageous, rhetorical teaching technique', or an 'exaggeration for emphasis', the product of a mindset that was 'given to expressing itself in hyperbole and extremes'. If an entire book contains many such blanket statements, it is a symbolic 'discourse of a man who lives without knowledge of God' and we're supposed to realize that nothing in it can be taken literally. If a statement contradicts other statements by saying 'don't do X,' it's a 'negation idiom', and what it means is 'do do X'. And if all else fails, Mr. Holding simply declares the contradiction 'intentional', which 'puts [it] beyond the measure of 'contradiction' and into the semantic realm of artistic license.' After all, a Van Gogh painting can hardly be construed as 'contradicting' a Picasso."

"(I hear some major corporations have been using similar tactics in court lately - arguing that the blatant errors and discrepancies in their books were 'intentional', which puts them beyond simple-minded measures of 'legality' and into the semantic realm of artistic license. If only the investors had done their homework and learned to view reality through the eyes and mindset of a modern executive, they wouldn't have foolishly assumed these balance statements were intended to be true in all places and at all times!)"

"My comments above about Mr. Holding's straining for any explanation rather than admit the errancy of the Bible apply with force here. In his bid to defend this book, which he believes to be the true Word of God, he has indeed actually declared some of the contradictions in it 'artistic license'. While the ludicrousness of the lengths he will go to may provoke laughter, the fact remains that he is deadly serious, and can offer such incredibly forced arguments without irony. This is, of course, another symptom of fundamentalist religious indoctrination, that memetic virus which has locked itself around the minds of Mr. Holding and those like him, preventing them from viewing the world through any lens but their own rigid preconceptions, and removing their ability to ever admit error or uncertainty in any matter of theological significance. (A clear case of Morton's Demon in action.)"

-Emphasis added-

An informal reply to J.P. Holding's "Allan Glenn's Questionnaire,...

A guy named Allan Glenn wrote a questionaire for religious folks. Turkel wrote a "rebuttal" to the questionaire, and Mr. Glenn responded.

From the response:

10. Do you better understand the atheist/agnostic position now than before taking the quiz? Yes ( ) No (x)

(Turkel) I already understood that atheist/agnostic positions often took refuge in ethereal issues rather than hard data, primarily because the hard data tends to make the atheist/agnostic position go to the cleaners.

(Glenn) How odd: I was under the distinct impression that science and critical thinking, in particular, have taken religion to the cleaners time and time again during the past 10,000 years or so on almost every specific, testable claim it ever made, from gods causing natural disasters to the entire universe and all terrestrial life forms being created in a span of six 24-hour days. This apparently necessitated its ever-continuing retreat into affairs ethereal and untestable due to its complete lack of anything which might be called "hard data".


Mr. Holding and Evolution

In this critique, the author describes how Turkel dismisses all of biological science simply because he doesn't like an analogy that a scientist uses. Turkel, of course, is a young earth creationist who accepts Genesis as literal history.

Farrell Till's response to Turkel

Till used to be a fundamentalist minister, so he has an excellent understanding of the Bible and he is very familar with how apologists like Turkel operate. He is willing to go into exquisite detail in order to explain why Bible inerrantists are wrong.

Turkel and Farrell Till had a discussion over the Internet a couple years ago. Till posted his response to Turkel, but Turkel has never linked to it, and it looks like he never will. Of course this is not terribly surprising, since Turkel almost never links to skeptics' replies. In his response, Till shows that Turkel very selectively quotes the Bible in order to misrepresent the meaning of a Hebrew word, he explains that Turkel's main method of "argumentation" is simply to cite people who agree with his position, he exposes Turkel as a colossal hypocrite, he demolishes Turkel's effort to portray himself as an expert in linguistics, and he also addresses Turkel's desperate use of taunts, insults and name-calling. (Turkel actually goes so far as to suggest that Till is a member of the Klu Klux Klan, something he also implies about me in the discussion below.) This excerpt summarizes these points.

Since this initial debate or discussion, Till has repeatedly requested that Turkel engage in a formal debate with him on the Internet, on a Christian web site if possible, so that people can see EVERYTHING that Farrell writes, but Turkel has repeatedly refused. Clearly he is afraid of the fact that he would not be able to control access to the information as he does on his site, and would not be able to prevent his readers from seeing EVERYTHING Till writes when he responds to him. Because of his refusal to debate, and his unwillingness to link to skeptics' responses, and perhaps for other reasons as well, Till has described Turkel as a "sniveling coward."

While Turkel has adamantly refused to debate with Till, he devotes an inordinate amount of space on his website to angrily belittling and insulting Till like an enraged, petulant child. Of course, he never links to any of Till's articles or to his publication-The Skeptical Review. What is quite humorous about Turkel's attacks on Till is that while he repeatedly dismisses Till as not worth anyone's time, he has clearly spent more time focusing on him than on any other skeptic on his large and growing roster of Bible doubters. Can you say cognitive dissonance?

Till describes e-mails he gets from Turkel's fans, and his response:

"Whenever anyone who sees his articles writes to me and says, 'Ha, ha, Holding [Turkel] nailed you,' I send them a 28-part reply that I posted to his position on Jehu's massacre. I include a request that the recipient remind Turkel that he has been challenged to debate on the internet, and that always ends the matter."


Update

After much prodding, Turkel has finally agreed to debate with Till. Although he has refused to agree to formal rules, Turkel has been forced to link to Till's articles and his responses. The debates are located here:

The Skeptical Review

Quotes from one debate, located here:

"He (Turkel) is using a tactic of cutting and pasting irrelevant comments over and over to make the debate so long that some readers won't remember whether he has answered specific points 'above and below.' His dishonesty has become so flagrant that it amounts to outright lying."

(snip)

"So Turkel cut and pasted another evasive comment. Why didn't he just cut and paste his explanation from 'below'? If he actually had an explanation, he could have pounded me mercilessly by just putting it into all of the places where he has cut and pasted his evasive comments like those above. Well, he didn't do that because he knows that he has not explained anything 'above or below.'"

"In a word, Turkel is a liar, who hopes that inattentive readers won‘t notice his lie."



Turkel and the Trilemma by Brian Holtz

Turkel attacks this article, but will not link to it or name the author. Here is a quote from the article:

"Turkel is losing this debate so badly that his defeat is amusing to quantify. In his latest response alone Turkel fails 79 times to answer, acknowledge, or correctly represent my arguments. On six occasions his reasoning is so faulty as to constitute textbook examples of fallacies, and in six other instances he exhibits a misunderstanding of the elementary logic of his own Trilemma argument. In 19 instances he edited his essay to hide from his readers his defeat on particular points, and six other times he changed the subject to deflect attention from a defeat. Seven separate times he adopts the pretense that forcing a successful defense of my thesis is somehow a victory for him. Finally, on 14 occasions he indulges in insubstantial argument by way of generalization, hollow bluster, ad hominem, and slurs (such as calling me 'bigoted' for disagreeing with people of other cultures)."


The Not-So-Impossible Faith by Brian Holtz

Turkel attacks this article, but will not link to it or name the author.


Richard Carrier's comments on Turkel's antics

Carrier is the Editor in Chief of the Secular Web. He views Turkel as childish, disrespectful, misinformed and dishonest:

posted December 09, 2001 03:36 PM

"I see no need anymore to respond to Holding. His method is typically polemical, childish and disrespectful, he rarely comprehends anything I or any opponent says or means, and he has a nasty tendency to make wild, unsubstantiated claims about antiquity, and then, when he is called on it, deletes or alters his essays without notice, and modifies them to suit research he conducted only after his lack of research was pointed out."

"In this case, his argument against me is simply bizarre. He says that a story about a man who died and came back to life and founded a religion wherein believers went to eternal paradise has no parallel with Christianity. That is to engage in some pathetic special pleading, and I think it is patently absurd to any reasonable observer."

(snip)

"The rest of his points fall to the same objections: wild generalizations about antiquity that he does not back up with any scholarship, and which are seriously suspect to anyone familiar with the actual literature of the period; complete disregard for how my evidence actually relates to my point; misunderstanding of even the simplest things I said; and addressing details as if they refute my point when in fact they have nothing whatever to do with it."


G. A. Wells replies to Turkel's criticisms

In a familar cycle, Turkel attacks an article written by a Bible skeptic, the skeptic somehow finds out about the critique and writes a reply (linked above). Turkel then criticizes the reply, spews a bunch of grade school insults, and links to neither the skeptic's original article or the skeptic's reply.

A sampling:

"Holding begins his criticisms, as do many of my critics, by questioning my qualifications to say anything on the subject at all. His final dismissal of my views as 'the result of a fallen and sinful human nature, and nothing more' is just childish."


Response to "Packham Refuted"

Richard Packham has to shame Turkel into actually linking to the original article he attacks (it is a miracle that he makes the link), and Turkel, of course, predictably hides this response from the eyes of his readers.

Packham writes:

"Since we are discussing bigotry and bias, and Holding's accusation that I am guilty of such a terrible thing, it might be appropriate to quote his own statement, referring to himself, from another article on his website:

'As far as the "mind already made up" issue - that is absolutely correct! Hopefully, the whole reason the non-professional evangelist is wanting to witness is because he KNOWS JESUS CHRIST personally. Their mind IS made up - and why else would you witness?!? The personal experience of Christ is so much more convincing than academic and intellectual discussions!'

"Thus Holding himself discards the first requirement for the honest searcher for truth: the open mind. I cannot imagine a clearer statement of bias and bigotry than Holding's own statement of his position just quoted. But he accuses me of 'bias.'"


Acharya S. describes Turkel's apologetic hijinks

From article:

"(...I have read so many absurd and inaccurate statements of his I am beginning to wonder if he's a joke, hired by some millionaire philanthropist out to destroy Christianity by making its representatives look idiotic. Not that they need any help.)


Hilarious Turkel quote

E-mail about this apologist

Demented Turkel quote

Turkel caught in bald-faced lie

goof or lie?

Turkel's childish parody of a Secular Web article

Another silly parody

Turkel accepts the "Josephus" quotes

Despite the overwhelming evidence against the legitimacy of statements about Jesus attributed to the historian Josephus, Turkel concludes the quotes are genuine.

Released from the Holding Cell

Turkel critisizes this guy, but-surprise, surprise-does not actually link to the guy's site. This guy replies to Turkel's criticisms, and among other things, has this to say:

"Once he got back to his site, the apologetics began. He did what all 'good' apologists do; he attacked, he belittled, he used ad hominem arguments, he ignored the issue at hand, and he was largely dishonest."


A response to Turkel from Earl Doherty

From the response:

"I have been known to employ touches of sarcasm myself, and I can be provocative, but I have always been careful to maintain a basic level of civility. Mr. Holding knows little of this concept, which is a common characteristic of the zealot, who regards dissenters as the incarnation of the devil."


Another response from Earl Doherty

From the reply:

"Absolutely no reason . . . superfluous data . . . out of context. Mr. Holding is clearly in a state of denial, one which has led him and many others to make the most untenable claims and rationalizations about the great void on the Gospel Jesus in the early Christian record."


Nous Article

Critique of Turkel's extremely humorous article on the Genesis creation stories. Turkel has since changed his article in reponse to this critique.

I believe the following quotes illuminate the motivations of people like Turkel:

"A major function of fundamentalist religion is to bolster deeply insecure and fearful people. This is done by justifying a way of life with all of its defining prejudices. It thereby provides an appropriate and legitimate outlet for one's anger. The authority of an inerrant Bible that can be readily quoted to buttress this point of view becomes an essential ingredient to such a life. When that Bible is challenged, or relativized, the resulting anger proves the point categorically."

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism, (San Fransisco: Harper Collins, 1991), p. 5.


"To say that atheism is credible is to suggest that the atheist may be right; to say that the atheist may be right is to suggest that the Christian may be wrong; to say that the Christian may be wrong is suggest that faith may be an unreliable guide to knowledge; to say that faith may be an unreliable guide to knowledge is to suggest that each and even tenet of Christianity should be reexamined in the light of reason-and from here all hell breaks loose as the process of deconversion dashes headlong to its logical destination."

"When reason is liberated from the shackles of faith it will inevitably claim sovereignty, the right of critical jurisdiction, over every sphere of knowledge. This inner logic of ideas (for which we have many historical examples) is one reason why so many theologians have found it necessary to dismiss the case for atheism as unworthy of serous consideration. To move from the position that atheism is unreasonable to the position that it is credible is a bigger step than the step from credible to justification-for it may require the Christian to question God himself by subjecting his divine revelation to critical analysis. Thus has the slander of atheism and atheists played a major role throughout the history of Christian propaganda."

George H. Smith, Why Atheism [Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2000] p. 17-18.





Discussion Highlights

This discussion is lengthy so I have highlighted what I feel are some of the more interesting comments and statements. Enjoy!




first e-mail to apologist


Subj: George Smith:Atheism-the case against God
Date: 6/30/99 10:55:20 PM EST
From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. Holding,

You have a very impressive website. Quite large.

I was referred to your site by someone who visited my page. I have not gone through your entire site, but I did not see a critique of George Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" This is a an excellent book and lays out the case against Christianity very clearly. Is a critique of this work on your site, and if not, are you planning to make one?

By the way, if you want to visit my site, it is located at:

http://members.aol.com/bbu84/biblicalstupidity/home.htm

Thanks for your time and have a nice day.

Brooks T


second e-mail to apologist


Subj: a stumper question
Date: 7/1/99 10:54:53 PM EST
From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. JPHolding,

According to Christian theology, anyone and everyone who is not a Christian deserves to be and will be tortured for eternity. This includes all the Jews who suffered and died during the Holocaust.

My question is this: does your god or does your god not torture all the Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brooks T


first apologist response


Subj: Re: George Smith: Atheism-the case against God
Date: 7/4/99 7:21:01 AM EST
From: jpholding@integrityonline15.com
To: BBu84@aol.com

Greetings, JP Holding here -- sorry it's taken a while to answer, but I only answer mail twice a week and you sent your first message a few hours after my last session. At any rate --

"Atheism: The Case Against God" This is a an excellent book and lays out the case against Christianity very clearly. Is a critique of this work on your site, and if not, are you planning to make one?

None yet -- since my material tends to be request-driven, I usually only write about books when people ask me to. I suppose your inquiry counts as a request, so I've ordered it via interlibrary loan, where hopefully it will fall on the positive side of my local library's 95% ILL success rate.

I gather that Smith is mostly concerned with the "existence of God" debate. I don't enter that arena much because the field is far too crowded as it is, so if that's his main concern, don't expect me to say much of anything about it. A book review may be all I'll do.

Concerning item #2 ---

According to Christian theology, anyone and everyone who is not a Christian deserves to be and will be tortured for eternity. This includes all the Jews who suffered and died during the Holocaust. My question is this: does your god or does your god not torture all the Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust?

Well, let's see. My guess is I'm supposed to do one of two things here: 1) Fudge and fumble and compromise by saying "no", because I'm supposed to be ashamed of a God who condemns to hell anyone who went through something so awful on earth; 2) Say "yes" and thereby justify your view of the Biblical God as a cruel and vicious beast who unfairly sends to Hell anyone who went through something so awful on earth. I'll answer closer to #2, although"torture" implies a sense of direct activity where Christian theology actually avers that Hell is esentially a person's own choice (so that God's role in "sending" someone there is more passive rather than active). It also seems to assume a Dante-esque vision of eternal torment; I doubt if things in Hell are that variable and creative.

The "question" you put forth rates well as a psychological manipulation, but I don't fall for that kind of thing. The modern notion that some previous experience ought to mitigate a penalty for a crime ("Your honor, although my client did murder 32 people, he deserves to get out of the death penalty because his father kicked him as a child.") is an irrational play on the emotions . Were the Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust not sinners? Did they have a perfect life before and during the Holocaust? No more so than anyone else, unless you have a list of them you can show me who didn't sin. The question is really no different if you substitute "Jews/Holocaust" for "peasants/invasion of the Visigoths", "unwilling Aztec sacrificial victims/Aztec sacrifices", or "Kosovars/Serbian invasion".

If you have sincere questions for me, or if you just threw this out because others do, fine -- I'll be glad to exchange thoughts with you. But don't think that you're just dealing with an everyday doof-Christian who attends church and sits there with a hypnotic gaze swallowing sermons whole. I've had my bouts with the arguments by the likes of Barker, Paine, etc. and they don't impress me. Knowledge isn't picked up just by shuffling through the pages of a few books down at the Seven-Eleven.

Regards,

XXXXX aka JPH


third e-mail to apologist


Subj: follow-up from BBu84@aol.com
Date: 7/15/99 1:09:05 AM EST
From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

July 14

Dear Mr. Holding,

I wrote a few weeks back concerning a book called "Atheism: The Case Against God" and I also asked you a question regarding the Christian hell. You replied to both my questions, for which I thank you. I will check back on your site to see when you review the George Smith book. I was not satisfied by your answer to my question about the Christian hell, however. The question was regarding the torture of unbelievers in the Christian hell. I asked if the Christian god tortured the victims of the Holocaust in the Christian hell, and you replied that the Christian god does not actively send people there and torture them but that it is a person's choice to go there. I have problems with both parts of your response. To begin with, I have never met anyone who would chose to go to a place where they would be tortured for eternity. Have you met anyone like this? Can you imagine anyone "choosing" to be tortured for eternity? I can't, but maybe you have a more active imagination than me.

As far as your god not actively torturing people, well, that is just semantics. According to Christian theology, the Christian god created Hell and is all-powerful: a person would not go to the Christian hell unless it was the wish and desire of the Christian god. If the Christian god thought it was wrong for a person to end up in hell, all this god would have to do is snap its fingers and, presto, that person would be elsewhere. It is meaningless to talk of an omnipotent god not "actively" sending people to a hell it created.

You also try to say that what happens to people in the Christian hell does not qualify as eternal torture. However, the torments of Hell have been a part of Christian theology for the last 19 centuries. Was it Augustine who mused that one of the main pleasures of Heaven would come from observing the torments of unbelievers in Hell? In any case, your claim flies directly in the face of Jesus' own words. He describes the Christian hell as a place where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched," (Mark 9:48), where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."(Matt. 25:30). Jesus warns people that "If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." And there is, of course, Jesus' colorful parable of the suffering man in Hell begging to have his thirst quenched. Because of all this, I am a little perplexed as to why you would think that the Christian hell is not a place of torment and pain. Does the Christian devil just spend his time throwing ice cream parties?

You made an interesting foray into a strange form of "blame the victim" argumentation by averring that anyone who goes to hell deserves to go there because they are sinners. Since I am not a Christian, I am a little fuzzy on the meaning of the terms "sin" and "sinners," though, obviously from your perspective, the crime of sinning deserves eternal torture. Whatever sinning is, it must surely be more evil than eternally torturing people since eternally torturing people is deemed the appropriate punishment for sinning by an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful god. I surely can't imagine what would be more evil than eternally barbecuing someone, but again, maybe you can enlighten me.

You made this point about sinning by using an interesting metaphor:

JP Holding: The "question" you put forth rates well as a psychological manipulation, but I don't fall for that kind of thing. The modern notion that some previous experience ought to mitigate a penalty for a crime ("Your honor, although my client did murder 32 people, he deserves to get out of the death penalty because his father kicked him as a child.")

With this metaphor, you were implying that all 6 million Jews who suffered in the Holocaust were each guilty of committing something as evil as murdering 32 people apiece and thus richly deserve their fate of being sent to the Christian hell. Again, please enlighten me: what "crime" did these people commit such that they deserve eternal, infinite punishment?

Let's do a brief review, shall we?

Could you please clarify you responses for me? Help me to understand your belief system, because so far it is not making any sense to me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Brooks T


second apologist response


Subj: Re: follow-up from BBu84@aol.com
Date: 7/18/99 8:25:23 AM EST
From: jpholding@integrityonline15.com
To: BBu84@aol.com

G'day,

your site to see when you review the George Smith book. I was not satisfied by your answer to my question about the Christian hell, however.

I rather wonder whether your "satisfaction" is a goal that can be achieved on this subject. I will respond to your query at any rate, but may I ask if there are any circumstances under which you would accept that eternal punishment is justified? Or is this a dead steed that I will be beating?

met anyone who would chose to go to a place where they would be tortured for eternity. Have you met anyone like this? Can you imagine anyone "choosing" to be tortured for eternity?

Perhaps you have not understood my point1; notice that I said "essentially" people choose hell. I do not imagine people "choosing" hell in the sense that they open one of two doors, and seeing what is behind each door, state their preference. I see the choice being made first in the very actions of living, i.e., in that rebellion against God is chosen; therefore, the end result is that they end up where those who have rejected God belong. [Of course this inevitably involves the question of whether Christian faith is the "correct" choice; for the sake of further discussion (without tangents) we must assume that it is.] Of course you will reply that no one would choose to act in such a way as to obtain that fate; but faced with the choice, what is it that people do? They either a) accept it as true and thereby avoid it; b) reject it as false -- for what reason? Christian theology assumes that it is because of the sinful nature that people choose b). It may well be so, and I see no reason to doubt that it is so, but nor do I see it as provable from a scientific or logical perspective. Intent of mind/heart is hardly the sort of thing that can be put in a test tube. I am content to argue that a severe shortage in critcial thinking skills is a primary cause of poor choice-making...and at least can prove it to a goodly extent where certain individuals I have encountered are concerned.

According to Christian theology, the Christian god created Hell and is all-powerful:

I have addressed this matter in an essay at http://www.integrityonline15.com/JPH_DTW01_VV.html, but for convenience will summarize here. You speak of God "snapping His fingers" and getting people out of Hell. Christian theology also avers that God cannot change His nature so that sin/sinners can remain in His presence. This has nothing to do with being "all-powerful". It has to do with being holy, with being unchanging and immutable, and being non-contradictory.

You also speak of sending them "elsewhere". By definition there would be no "elsewhere" -- I see we're getting to this, so I'll hold off a moment.

You also try to say that what happens to people in the Christian hell does not qualify as eternal torture.

No, what I said was that the word "torture" "seems to assume a Dante-esque vision of eternal torment; I doubt if things in Hell are that variable and creative." Beyond that, if you have studied the literature of the period, as I have, you would realize (unlike Augustine and Dante) that the descriptions given are metaphorical -- how else could hell be a place of fire, but also a place of darkness? Is the fire black?

I would ask you to read an item of mine at http://www.integrityonline15.com/JPH_BOC.html. It is not all relevant, but pay particular attention to the word "apollumi" and its meaning. This does not eliminate torment and pain, incidentally; I imagine the actual nature of hell -- a place where God's presence is absent (2 Thess. 1:9) -- is far worse than the metaphors can capture.

hell is not a place of torment and pain. Does the Christian devil just spend his time throwing ice cream parties?

He tried it once, but the ice cream melted. These days they have weenie roasts. ;-)

You made an interesting foray into a strange form of "blame the victim" argumentation by averring that anyone who goes to hell deserves to go there because they are sinners. Since I am not a Christian, I am a little fuzzy on the meaning of the terms "sin" and "sinners,"

The three words used most often in the NT are:

266. hamartia, ham-ar'-tee'-ah; from G264; sin (prop. abstr.):--offence, sin (-ful).

4624. skandalizo, skan-dal-id'-zo ("scandalize"); from G4625; to entrap, i.e. trip up (fig. stumble [trans.] or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure):--(make to) offend.

3900. paraptoma, par-ap'-to-mah; from G3895; a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression:--fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass.

good, all-knowing, all-powerful god. I surely can't imagine what would be more evil than eternally barbecuing someone, but again, maybe you can enlighten me.

I think I have made it clear. The "eternal BBQ" is the result of willful rebellion against God. It is what people choose: They do not want to live with God while on earth, and God, consistent with His nature, will not force them to be with Him afterwards; nor can they endure His presence unless their sin is paid for, and because any sin, no matter how small, is an infinite offense against an infinitely holy God (Anselm first noted this, I believe), it requires an infinite payment of some sort -- hence Christian theology's argument that Christ's sacrifice pays for sin. Hell remains the only place that will hold those who reject the payment.

Could you please clarify you responses for me? Help me to understand your belief system, because so far it is not making any sense to me.

I perceive that by "making sense" you mean more along the lines of "I find it distasteful, offensive," etc. rather than "I don't understand the process." But I have answered as though it were the latter rather than the former.

Regards,

JPH


fourth e-mail to apologist (months later-3/00)


From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. Holding,

Could you please explain something to me? The Christian god is called the source of morality and goodness by Christians, and yet this god is responsible for much murder and suffering in the Old Testament. He murders children, he supports slavery and he continually orders the massacre of men, women and children in the Old Testament. In the new Testament, of course, this god is said to torture people for eternity for their opinions. There is one verse in particular which I have a great deal of trouble understanding, in light of Christians' continual claim that their god exemplifies moral perfection. Deuteronomy 20:22 contains an explicit order directly from the Christian god which reads as follows:

"But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has wrought folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father's house; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you."

A few questions regarding this quotation. Why is this viriginity law directed at females and not at men as well? How was the girls' virginity determined by the men of the village? The quote mentions "tokens of virginity"-what does this refer to? What God-ordained failsafe investigative method was used to insure that true virgins were not inadvertantly stoned to death by the men of the village? Would it be morally right to stone girls to death for not being virgins on their wedding nights in the first place? Which is the worse crime, not being a virgin (or not appearing to be a virgin) or ganging up on a girl and pitching rocks at her until she was a splintered, bleeding pile of pulverized protoplasm?

Finally, do you think the Christian god smiled as these ancient men pelted helpless young women with rocks on his command?

Thanks for your help in answering these deeply intellectual questions.

Brooks T


third apologist response


Subj: Re: a question - from JP Holding
Date: 3/7/00 7:37:58 PM EST
From: jpholding@integrityonline15.com
To: BBu84@aol.com

Ah -- you again. You haven't changed, have you? Have you really gotten interested in an answer yet, or is this just another attempt to annoy me? It looks very much like the latter, but you amuse me, so I'll treat it seriously for a while.

Tortured for their opinions, eh? That's an interesting way to refer to sins...merely opinions, are they? Yeesh -- and people like you wonder why God doesn't interfere when the Holocaust victims cry out? Little wonder -- you want God's help when bad things happen, but when it comes to following a few simple standards He lays down, it's: "What? Get out of my face -- we don't need you telling us what to do." You want a senile Grampa who pats you on the head; why aren't you happy when He gives you that?

To business. Deut. 20:22. I have some social background data for you, although I seriously doubt that it would interest you, or that you inquired actually having the desire to know...or that you won't just smugly and anachronistically assume your personal values to be superior to those of a bunch of backwards, bone-in-the-nose tribesmen...but just in case you are sincere...

A few questions regarding this quotation. Why is this viriginity law directed at females and not at men as well?

That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin "If a man..." mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)

How was the girls' virginity determined by the men of the village? The quote mentions "tokens of virginity"-what does this refer to?

There are two ideas offered:

1) It refers to menstrual blood -- proving the woman was not pregnant (and therefore did not have sex) before marriage.

2) It refers to blood drawn after the initial act of intercourse -- this is a practice still done (quite proudly, and with no reservations by anyone, may I add) in some Near Eastern countries today.

What God-ordained failsafe investigative method was used to insure that true virgins were not inadvertantly stoned to death by the men of the village?

As noted, ancient law codes were didactic -- ancient judges made the decision based on evidence at hand; the laws were exemplars. Investigative methods would be used just as they are used today for any crime. (You can debate standards of evidence and competence of investigation, of course...but that is a human matter.)

Would it be morally right to stone girls to death for not being virgins on their wedding nights in the first place?

In the context of the Ancient Near East, where the family structure was essential for personal survival, I would say that it was quite right to stone someone to death who put the survival of the family and community at risk by their foolish behavior.

not being a virgin (or not appearing to be a virgin) or ganging up on a girl and pitching rocks at her until she was a splintered, bleeding pile of pulverized protoplasm?

This is rational argument? I favor the death penalty: That you may say that the electric chair is an instance of men forcibly tying a man to a wooden seat with cutting leather straps and zapping him until he is a quivering, burning, sizzling chunk of flesh may stir the emotions of those whose maturity as on a kindergarten level, but it hardly passes as a rational argument against the implementation of the supreme penalty. Suffering is temporal. Results are eternal. Please grow up before you write to me again.

Finally, do you think the Christian god smiled as these ancient men pelted helpless young women with rocks on his command?

No; most likely He strummed a tune from the Rolling Stones on his harp. Maybe He played "Rock of Ages."

Thanks for your help in answering these deeply intellectual questions.

Snort, snort, guffaw....

- JP


fifth e-mail to apologist


Subj: corrected-stoning of non-virgin girls e-mail
Date: 3/19/00 9:25:26 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. Holding,

Thank you for your response to my last e-mail regarding the stoning to death of Israelite females who are not thought to be virgins when they are married.

In the first part of your response you wrote:
"Tortured for their opinions, eh? That's an interesting way to refer to sins...merely opinions, are they?"
What I was referring to was the New Testament's description of the punishment of those who do not accept the divinity of Jesus Christ. According to the New Testament, people who do not hold to the idea that Jesus Christ was a god or the son of a god deserve to be and will be tortured in a place called hell for eternity. Not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is an opinion. So, torturing people for not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is torturing people for their opinions. There is no other way to describe it.

Regarding the stoning of non-virgin girls on their wedding nights: the appearance of menstrual blood does not prove a girl to be a virgin, of course. And the lack of menstrual blood indicates pregnancy, of course. If the accused girl was stoned to death in the absence of menstrual blood, if she was pregnant, then the men of the village would not only be killing her, but would be killing the embryo developing inside her. Don't you think the biblical god could have come up with a more intelligent way to deal with a pregnant, unwed girl than murdering her?

Maybe the "tokens of virginity" refers to the blood produced from a hymen being broken by intercourse. But there is an obvious problem with this. Remember that this law comes directly from the biblical god-it is a direct quote. Surely this being, the creator of everything, would know that not all girls have hymens in the first place, that in the course of everyday life hymens do break prior to sex, and that not every girl bleeds from having intercourse for the first time. So the lack of blood from sexual intercourse does not necessarily prove that a girl is a non-virgin. And what about girls who are the victims of rape or incest? If they could not prove their virginity to the satisfaction of the men of the village, would they then richly deserve to be battered to death with rocks? Again, it seems doubtful that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good god would create such a ridiculous law.

I found it interesting that you would equate the imposition of the death penalty on murderers with the stoning to death of girls whose only crime was not being able to sufficiently convince some village yahoos that they possessed hymens on their wedding nights. There is no comparison. You say that girls who cannot prove their virginity on their wedding nights "put the survival of the family and community at risk by their foolish behavior." Could you describe in detail how? In any case, here is an idea: why doesn't the biblical god, in his infinite wisdom, make a law that a gentleman who gets a girl pregnant has to help her raise the child? Wouldn't that make far more sense then having a gang of men pelt helpless, pregnant women with rocks till they died?

This brings us to the question of equality. If a girl is to be stoned to death because some village men think she is not a virgin when she is married, then how is this law applied to men? What are the "tokens of virginity" that a man would have to generate to certify that he was a virgin on his wedding night? Realize that this quote, which comes directly from Jehovah, does not refer to a "young man" but rather to a "young woman." If we are to take the Bible literally, not adding to it or taking away from it, then this law is only applicable to girls and women. Why would the biblical god make this law apply only to females?

You say that I am making an emotional argument when I describe the effects of being stoned to death. I agree with you. The idea of stoning a girl to death because she could not prove her virginity is barbaric. To get that point across, it is necessary to make it clear as possible what is being described. I am sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. As a villager living in ancient Israel, would you personally take part in stoning a girl to death for not being a virgin on her wedding night? Yes or no?

Finally, the murder of presumed non-virgin girls or women was not confined to new brides among the Israelites-it was also practiced on girls and women living in the villages around the Israelites. As we read in Numbers 31:17, Moses commands his soldiers to go into a neighboring village and "kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." I wonder how they determined the virginity of the girls and women? I mean, it does not appear that there was time to collect "tokens of virginity."

Thank you for you considering these questions.

Sincerely,

Brooks T

fourth apologist response


Subj: Re: corrected-stoning of non-virgin girls e-mail
Date: 3/21/00 4:59:47 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: jpholding@integrityonline15.com
To: BBu84@aol.com

for eternity. Not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is an opinion. So, torturing people for not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is torturing people for their opinions. There is no other way to describe it.

Other than as a refusal to accept hard fact, and if you are able to prove otherwise, I have a challenge posted...you know where it is.

In terms of the rest of this you wrote, I bother little with it. Most is already answered. I have told you at least twice how ancient law codes were put into effect; if you understood this point then you would know that your "questions" are already answered. The fact that you are clearly unable/unwilling/pretending not to see this is prime evidence that you are writing merely to make a nuisance of yourself and have no true interest in these subjects...or else do not have the capacity to understand them. The fact that you resort to mere denigration and snobbery ("village yahoos") is further evidence. Do you think ancient judges were picked by drawing straws?

I am answering no further inquiries from you. If you have anything further to say to me, put it on your page and send me the URL, because I want the next question to serve to publicly expose your intentions and your manifest ignorance/snobbery. If you want to know more about ancient cultures, haul yourself down to a seminary library and learn something; start with "Social World of Ancient Israel" by Matthews and Benjamin if you are actually interested in anything beyond snobbery and anachronistic inquiries.

being a virgin on her wedding night? Yes or no?

YES.

with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." I wonder how they determined the virginity of the girls and women? I mean, it does not appear that there was time to collect "tokens of virginity."

Gee, if you weren't such a snob, you would know that ancient cultures often had coded dress for various strata-members of society. Beyond that, how about a simple question to the girl at issue, the answer taken for granted in the context of one outside of Israel's laws? Now leave me alone before I report you for spamming.


sixth e-mail to apologist


Subj: web page now up, as per your request
Date: 4/16/00 12:10:57 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: BBu84
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. Holding,

Thank you for your prompt reply to my last e-mail. In your reply you wrote:

"I am answering no further inquiries from you. If you have anything further to say to me, put it on your page and send me the URL, because I want the next question to serve to publicly expose your intentions and your manifest ignorance/snobbery."

In order to comply with your wish and show my questions in their complete context, I have compiled all the e-mails we have exchanged, including this one, and made them into a web page, which is available here:

http://members.aol.com/bbu85/hold.htm

This web page will serve to publicly expose my "manifest ignorance/snobbery" and will allow others to judge how well you respond to questions about the Bible. Since you have already stated that you will not answer any more of my questions, the lack of a reply to this e-mail will not necessarily be interpreted as an inability to answer any of my latest questions.

I appreciate the fact that in your last e-mail you did answer my query about whether you would hurl rocks at pregnant young girls till they were dead. You said that "YES" you would stone girls to death. I would not, but I guess I am not as morally advanced as you. I guess that, unlike you, I don't have the moral fiber to pitch rocks at a young girl as she was crying, screaming, bleeding to death, suffering multiple bone fractures and internal injuries.

You wrote that in order for the rampaging Israelite warriors to determine the virginity of the young women of the village they were attacking, all they would have to do was ask them. Interesting. Let's see…how would it work? The soldiers would be running amuck, slaughtering the men, the young boys, the women, the elderly and the infants with swords. If they momentarily interrupted their stabbing and hacking frenzy to ask a young woman or girl if she was a virgin and she answered no, what would the soldiers do? Well, according to the clear instructions from Moses, they would then kill her, with their swords. If she answered yes, then she would be abducted and raped. Pretty much a lose/lose situation for the girl or woman, but apparently what was of utmost importance was that the soldiers did their killing and collected their virgins, as per Moses' direct command. Would you follow this command from Moses?

You said that you explained to me twice how ancient law codes were put into effect. I examined your e-mails to determine if you had, in fact, clarified how ancient laws were put into effect. Here are the relevant quotes:

"That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin 'If a man...' mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)"

You are implying that this virginity law is a general law directed at both men and women. Again, I am confused. If this law is directed at men, what are the "tokens of virginity" that they would need to produce to certify their virginity was intact? You still have not answered this question.

Here is the second relevant quote which you apparently feel clearly explains the implementation of this God-ordained law:

"As noted, ancient law codes were didactic -- ancient judges made the decision based on evidence at hand; the laws were exemplars. Investigative methods would be used just as they are used today for any crime. (You can debate standards of evidence and competence of investigation, of course...but that is a human matter.)"

What would the "evidence at hand" be? The verse only mentions "tokens of virginity"-nothing else. As I explained before, bloody bed sheets do not represent a perfect test of virginity, and neither do menstrual-blood soaked undergarments. If these items were considered tokens of virginity or the "evidence at hand," they would not necessarily differentiate virgins from non-virgins. Just tell me how, in practice, in detail, a girl's non-virginity was ascertained prior to her torture and murder at the hands of the village men. This law came directly from God's mouth, so it should be perfectly clear-don't you think?

I call Jesus' divinity an opinion; you call it "hard fact." Despite all of the verbiage on your web site promoting this idea, there is no evidence that such things as gods exist in the first place. So whether an ancient book proclaims that Jesus was the son of a god or that he rose from the dead to go up to live in a place called heaven, the assumption of a supernatural realm, an assumption that underlies all of your essays, is not supported by observations in the real world. On your web site you have a challenge for skeptics to disprove anything that you write about. In one of your articles, you write that there are NOT two separate creation stories in Genesis, and you spend a good deal of time discussing various ways in which you think the language can be interpreted to make the two stories non-contradictory. I applaud you for your efforts but I am wondering why the writer(s) of Genesis had to tell the creation story twice? Wasn't it clear enough the first time? In any case, the supposition underlying your essay is that Genesis is an accurate portrayal of events a few thousand years ago (this time-line is based on a genealogy of Jesus to Adam given in the third chapter of Luke). If it is your contention that Genesis is an accurate portrayal of the geological, meteorological and biological history 6000 or 10,000 years ago, I think I can provide a reasonable amount of evidence to show that you are mistaken. Want me to try?

Thank you for the time you have taken to answer my questions. And thank you for a very interesting apologetic web site.

Sincerely,

Brooks T

fifth apologist response


Subj: Re: web page now up, as per your request
Date: 5/6/00 7:04:12 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: jpholding@integrityonline15.com
To:BBu84@aol.com

G'day,

I appreciate the fact that in your last e-mail you answered my query About whether you would hurl rocks at pregnant young girls till they were dead. You said that "YES" you would stone girls to death. I would not, but I guess I am not as morally advanced as you.

Clearly not, for you have no appreciation of what this sort of behavior meant in the context of a society where corporate survival was key and such behavior could easily lead to the destruction and death of a family unit as a whole. Such behavior today drains the tax base and causes a lot of headaches, but in this age prior to daycare centers, food stamps, and government programs for the needy, the need to enforce chastity strictly and set an example of those who violated this cardinal rule was rather significant.

I guess that, unlike you, I don't have the moral fiber to pitch rocks at a young girl as she was crying, screaming, bleeding to death, suffering multiple bone fractures and internal injuries.

In which case, you would likely be one of those who would contribute to the overall death of society. I admire the moral fiber of someone so self-centered and wrapped up in emotion that they are unable to grasp moral concepts that carry a longer view.

You wrote that in order for the rampaging Israelite warriors to determine the virginity of the young women of the village they were attacking, all they would have to do was ask them. Interesting. Let's see…how would it work? The soldiers would be running amuck, slaughtering the men, the young boys, the women, the elderly and the infants with swords.

Yes, of course. Military campaigns are always unplanned and every one of them was like the stereotypical Viking raid. No one ever planned a campaign carefully and berserkers were the norm.

If they momentarily interrupted their stabbing and hacking frenzy to ask a young woman or girl if she was a virgin and she answered no, what would the soldiers do? Well, according to the clear instructions from Moses, they would then kill her, with their swords.

Correct.

If she answered yes, then she would be abducted and raped

Incorrect. Read Deut. 21:10ff, which is quite an advanced bit of legislation for this period.

Pretty much a lose/lose situation for the girl or woman, but apparently What was of utmost importance was that the soldiers did their killing and collected their virgins, as per Moses' direct command. Would you follow this command from Moses?

Sure -- Deut. 21 sure beats turning them out into the wilderness to starve to death, don't you think? Very merciful action in that day and age, in fact. But perhaps, living as you do in a modern housing unit with televsion, air conditioning, a computer, social services, grocery stores, and so on, you fail to appreciate the significance of such actions within their context. I would not be surprised.

You said that you explained to me twice how ancient law codes were put Into effect. I examined your e-mails to determine if you had, in fact, clarified how ancient laws were put into effect. Here are the relevant quotes:

"That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin 'If a man...' mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)"

You are implying that this virginity law is a general law directed at Both men and women. Again, I am confused. If this law is directed at men, what Are the "tokens of virginity" that they would need to produce to certify their virginity was intact? You still have not answered this question.

What need is there to do so? A man who did not preserve his virginity in this day and age left behind a great deal of evidence: Babies. (No effective birth control, remember. And you know the laws against adultery...the didactic applications would be the same.)

Moreover, keep in mind that a virgin daughter would live a highly protected life; the accusation delivered would suppose that she had purposely left/evaded the security of her household and was sneaking around at night. The man bringing the charge against the woman is saying much more than that she wasn't a virgin, but that she was of suspicious moral character.

Here is the second relevant quote which you apparently feel clearly Explains the implementation of this God-ordained law:

"As noted, ancient law codes were didactic -- ancient judges made the decision based on evidence at hand; the laws were exemplars. Investigative methods would be used just as they are used today for any crime. (You can debate standards of evidence and competence of investigation, of course...but that is a human matter.) "

What would the "evidence at hand" be?

Anything. What constitutes evidence of (or against) a crime today? Beyond DNA testing, there is little that did not have an analogue in ancient times that is not used for evidence today. Questioning potential witnesses. (Remember the "2 or 3 witnesses" requirement?) Investigating the security of the household and the character of the family. Discerning what the basis of the accusation is, and whether it has any validity. Establishment of reasonable doubt is not a new process.

men. This law came directly from God's mouth, so it should be perfectly clear-don't you think?

It's perfectly clear to scholars who study ancient law codes. Perhaps the problem of clarity is your own?

I call Jesus' divinity an opinion; you call it "hard fact." Despite all Of the verbiage on your web site promoting this idea, there is no evidence that such things as gods exist in the first place.

Oh? You have refuted all the standard proofs? (Cosmological, design, ontological, etc.?) What a relief! The Secular Web can shut down, and we can throw all of those turgid works of philosophy in the trash. That's great, because I need the bookshelf space.

So whether an ancient book proclaims that Jesus was the son of a god or that he rose from the dead to go up to live in a place called heaven, the assumption of a supernatural realm, an assumption that underlies all of your essays, is not supported by observations in the real world.

Ack! That same old line from David Hume...why are "observations in the real world" absolute proof in this regard? You got a logical syllogism for that argument?

you write that there are NOT two separate creation stories in Genesis, and you spend a good deal of time discussing various ways in which you think the language can be interpreted to make the two stories non- contradictory. I applaud you for your efforts but I am wondering why the writer(s) of Genesis had to tell the creation story twice? Wasn't it clear enough the first time?

Your bigotry is showing again, Brooks. Did you read what I said about how other ancient creation accounts had double accounts? (I guess ancient people were stupid, huh? They all told the same story twice in a row because they were not sure the first time was clear.) Get this: In an oral-based society, repeating a story, putting it in slightly different form, was NORMAL. And what I call G1 and G2 likely represented originally separate oral units that were combined literarily into what we now call Genesis. Now can you get beyond your temporal provincialism and try to understand these texts on their own terms?

In any case, the supposition underlying your essay is that Genesis is an accurate portrayal of events a few thousand years ago (this time-line is based on a genealogy of Jesus to Adam given in the third chapter of Luke). If it is your contention that Genesis is an accurate portrayal of the geological, meteorological and biological history 6000 or 10,000 years ago, I think I can provide a reasonable amount of evidence to show that you are mistaken. Want me to try?

Nope. Unlike you I do not venture into realms where I do not have knowledge, and my science knowledge is minimal, as I will freely admit. (Take the hint: Until you learn about ancient law codes, literature, and societies, you need to change the subject. But somehow I doubt if you will refrain....too much pride at stake.)

Thank you for the time you have taken to answer my questions. And thank You for a very interesting apologetic web site.

My own thanks for your honest representation of our interchange, thus showing a commodity that I have lately found rare in skeptics: Integrity!

Regards,

seventh e-mail to apologist (7a)


Subj: reply posted
Date: 1/25/2001 11:39:42 AM Pacific Standard Time
From:BBu84@aol.com
To: jpholding@integrityonline15.com

Mr. Holding,

Ahoy. This is Brooks, the owner of the Christianity: Bogus Beyond Belief web site. We have exchanged a few e-mails over the last couple of years and our exchange of e-mails is preserved on a page in my web site. I still have some questions and some thoughts in regard to the issues we have discussed and the things you have written, so I have posted a reply to your last e-mail on the aforementioned page on my site. I am forwarding you the URL to the reply rather than e-mailing the reply itself, which is what you instructed me to do "If you have anything further to say to me."

Here is the URL:

http://members.aol.com/bbu85/hold.htm

Have a nice day.

Brooks



response 7b


         January 25, 2001
Mr. Holding,

I have sent you an e-mail directing you to this reply, which is in response to your last e-mail. Your last e-mail was sent way back in May 2000.

One of the questions I asked you earlier was whether the Christian god condemns to hell all the Jews who were beaten, starved, tortured and killed in the Holocaust. You stated that, indeed, the Jews who suffered and who died in the Holocaust are sinners and deserve to be tortured eternally. It even appeared that you compared the Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust to serial murderers:

'The modern notion that some previous experience ought to mitigate a penalty for a crime ("Your honor, although my client did murder 32 people, he deserves to get out of the death penalty because his father kicked him as a child.") is an irrational play on the emotions.'

I am sure that the Jews who suffered in the death camps and who survived will be surprised to find themselves compared to serial murderers, but then Christians have been denigrating and demonizing the Jews ever since the time the Gospels were written. In any case, your effort to label a person's opinion a crime worthy of infinite punishment is truly fascinating:

"The 'eternal BBQ' is the result of willful rebellion against God. It is what people choose: They do not want to live with God while on earth, and God, consistent with His nature, will not force them to be with Him afterwards; nor can they endure His presence unless their sin is paid for, and because any sin, no matter how small, is an infinite offense against an infinitely holy God (Anselm first noted this, I believe), it requires an infinite payment of some sort -- hence Christian theology's argument that Christ's sacrifice pays for sin. Hell remains the only place that will hold those who reject the payment."

Let's see if I understand this whole scenario, JP. People who do not accept Christianity are willfully rejecting something that is obvious to them? People somehow "choose" not to believe in Christianity, even though, in some way, they know it is true? Are you seriously suggesting this? Could you clarify how people do NOT believe in something that they DO believe in? And if people are engaged in "willful rebellion" against something that is so obvious, then why do apologists like yourself go to such remarkable lengths and compile such prodigious quantities of text to try and reconcile the Bible with reality? If everyone believes in Christianity anyway, then just whom are you trying to convince?

Think about this: the main claim of Christianity, the fundamental belief, is that Jesus was resurrected. Thomas, as the story goes, was there when this event occurred and he was not willing to accept that Jesus was resurrected-so how can people who were NOT there be expected to give credence to the conflicting and highly absurd resurrection stories?

Apart from the historicity of the hearsay resurrection stories, the whole schema of sin and redemption is rife with difficulties. Your god can see the future, and knew before he created Adam and Eve that they would eat that apple, right? (Okay, so maybe the apple is figurative for something else) Your god also foresaw that he would get so angry with the people he created that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) so that he could forgive them, but only if they believed that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) for being angry at them, and it all started because a man and a woman ate an apple (which probably means something else), an event which the biblical god had foreseen, and which he created them to do. What kind of sense does this make to you, and why should people be tortured forever for thinking that this story's relationship to truth and reality is, well, somewhat tenuous?

A god which sees the future with perfect clarity and which creates people knowing that they will suffer eternally for their beliefs in a hell it created, is a god that is either very stupid or very sadistic, and possibly both. What is obvious is that the qualities of omniscience, omnipotence and omnibenevolence are incompatible with eternal torture. What is also clear is that the threat of eternal torture for skepticism is a remarkably effective persuasive technique, and some people have even suggested that this is the real reason why it is found in Christianity.

We discussed the subject of stoning young women to death on their wedding nights. The Bible states, in Deuteronomy 20:22, that if the "tokens of virginity" are not found in a young woman on her wedding night, then she is to be taken to the door of her father's house and stoned to death by the men of the village. I asked you to put in plain words what "tokens of virginity" were, and you offered the explanation that they were probably bloody sheets on the marriage bed or garments stained with menstrual blood. When I pointed out the problems with using these things as evidence of virginity, you floated the idea that Israelite judges launched extensive background investigations to determine a girl's virginity:

"Questioning potential witnesses. (Remember the "2 or 3 witnesses" requirement?) Investigating the security of the household and the character of the family. Discerning what the basis of the accusation is, and whether it has any validity. Establishment of reasonable doubt is not a new process."

The problem here is that the quote in question specifically refers to "tokens of virginity." It does not talk of a 'virginity board of inquiry' that took testimony, performed exhaustive background investigations and then carefully deliberated on the question. The quote does not imply this in any way, in any shape or in any form. In fact, a previous passage reveals the sum total of this "evidence" and the very limited way in that it was used:

Deuteronomy 22:13-19

"If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings an evil name upon her, saying, 'I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity,' then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate; and the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he spurns her; and lo, he has made shameful charges against her, saying, "I did not find in your daughter the tokens of virginity." And yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him; and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

So to be clear, the basis of stoning a young woman to death on her wedding night appears to have rested solely on her "garments," and, as I pointed out, these can hardly be considered reliable indicators of virginity. I asked you whether you would stone the young women in question to death, and you shouted "YES," apparently in the belief that this would be the performance of a valuable social service, the women in question threatening to bring about the very "death of society." Let's put aside the issue of how reliable this "test" of virginity was for just a moment. If young, unmarried non-virgin women were such a scourge and a danger to Israelite society, what happened to mothers who were widowed when their husbands died? Were they also pelted, pegged and pummeled with stones by their neighbors? Also, were there women who never married, and if so, what happened to them?

Apart from the problem of accuracy and fairness of this test of virginity, there also seems to be a problem of equality. You claimed that simply because the quote refers to "young woman," it does not exclude men.

"That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin 'If a man...' mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)"

Apparently, you still do not see the difference here. The specific virginity rule found at Deuteronomy 22:20 can only and does only apply to females. Nowhere does the Bible say that if men do not produce "tokens of virginity" on their wedding night, they must be immediately stoned to death. This was not a unisex, equal opportunity rule-it couldn't have been. The Bible writers clearly had no idea of what would constitute "tokens of virginity" for males. And no, babies cannot be considered evidence of a male's illicit sexual unions. If an unmarried girl got pregnant, it seems clear that she would be stoned to death before giving birth. If a married woman got pregnant and gave birth, the assumption could only be that her husband was the father. In any case, the ancient Israelites did not have DNA testing and could not link a particular baby to a particular male if they wanted to. For the sake of argument, however, IF the Israelites did have a law which specified the stoning to death of non-virgin, unmarried men and IF they could actually link specific men to specific babies, then instead of killing the men and the mothers, why could they not simply make the men marry the women they impregnated? If not, why not? There certainly is precedence for this in Deuteronomy 22:28.

I think it will be instructive here to examine Deuteronomy 22:22 along with some of the other crime laws in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 22:22-30:

"If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel. If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing; in the young woman there is no offense punishable by death, for this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor; because he came upon her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

"If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.

In the first passage, the woman is stoned to death because she did not cry out. But if the woman was being raped and she did cry out, her attacker may have killed her. Seems like a cruel Catch 22 situation to me. What do you think? Also, it appears that the man is to be executed not because he attacked a woman, but because he "violated his neighbor's wife." Deuteronomy shows that it is not rape per se which deserves death, but the violation of another man's property. As we can see in the last passage, a man who rapes an unbethrothed girl is not put to death, but gets to marry her after paying off her dad. I know that you would say this is a wonderful, merciful solution to the problem of finding this girl a husband, but don't you think the supreme ruler of the universe could have come up with something slightly more palatable to the girl than forcing her to marry her rapist?

I explained to you that, according to the Bible, the Israelites went on war raids and killed a sizable number of women and children. I asked whether you would have taken part in these God-ordained massacres. You seem to indicate that you would have-however I will give you the benefit of the doubt for now. Could you clarify this for me? Would you go on war raids with specific orders to kill women and children?

I described these killing sprees as "stabbing and hacking" frenzies where "the soldiers would be running amuck, slaughtering the men, the young boys, the women, the elderly and the infants with swords." You sarcastically replied that

"Yes, of course. Military campaigns are always unplanned and every one of them was like the stereotypical Viking raid. No one ever planned a campaign carefully and berserkers were the norm."

I did not say these raids were unplanned. I only said that they involved the killing of women and children by hacking and stabbing. Do you disagree with this description? Planned or not, if "soldiers" are ordered to kill women and children and they attempt to carry out this order-using swords and battle axes-the people who they are trying to murder will not patiently stand in line and wait to be skewered, disemboweled and decapitated. Rather, these people will be attempting to flee the gore-soaked "soldiers" in desperation. How this situation could be described as anything other than a stabbing and hacking frenzy is unclear.

Of course, the virgin girls were somehow identified and spared in these raids. Their entire families were slaughtered, but they were saved to become wives of the men who butchered their families and friends. You described this as a "very merciful action in that day and age." That is a fascinating perspective. However, this seems like it had less to do with mercy and more to do with the soldiers getting good-looking wives. The women in question certainly did not have any choice in the matter:

Deuteronomy 21:10-13

"When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hands, and you take them captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall put off her captive's garb, and shall remain in your house and bewail her father and her mother a full month; after that you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife."

Let's put aside Deuteronomy, and move on to Genesis. You wrote an essay that attempted to reconcile the two creation accounts given in Genesis. Whether or not you were successful in resolving the disagreements between the two creation accounts is a moot point, in my opinion. You are missing the forest for the trees. There is a far bigger and more basic issue that you completely fail to address. In my previous e-mail, I explained to you that the Bible puts this creation event within the last 6000 years (see the genealogy for Jesus given in Luke 3). Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), actually calculated the creation of the universe to have been in the year 4004, BC. Today we know that the earth is quite a bit older than 6000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 years. You refused to take up this subject in your last e-mail, writing:

"Unlike you I do not venture into realms where I do not have knowledge, and my science knowledge is minimal, as I will freely admit."

I would suggest to you that it is not necessary to earn a science degree or to be a scientist to understand and accept that the earth is not and cannot be only a few thousand years old. It does not take a PhD in astrophysics to see this, just a sixth grade education and some measure of common sense. This particular discrepancy between the revealed facts of reality and the claims in Genesis is a serious problem, a very large problem, and one for which you owe your readers an explanation.

On a related subject, I see no discussion of the Noah's Ark story anywhere on your site. This is an event that is also placed within the last few thousand years by the Bible writers, but the evidence for this astounding, catastrophic worldwide flood is pointedly absent from every single field of study of the ancient world. To be fair, you do have a link to a book titled Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study by a gentleman named John Woodmorappe. This book, however, does not appear to address the lack of evidence for the biblical flood, but instead it concentrates on the engineering aspects of building the ark and maintaining the staggering horde of animals on board the ark. Interestingly, a review of the book indicates that Woodmorappe believed Noah trained the animals to defecate into buckets:

"When it comes to care on the ark, Woodmorappe enlists the aid of the animals themselves. According to Woodmorappe, prior to the flood, Noah had kept a menagerie and trained the animals to defecate and urinate on command into buckets. They were also trained to leave their pens for exercise and return to their cages on command. Snakes and bats were trained to take inert food. Birds were trained to take sugar water from pots. This, of course, makes Noah the greatest animal trainer in history. How much time Noah and his hired hands required to train 16,000 animals is almost incalculable..."

"....Woodmorappe states (p. 27) that the urine could be drained overboard by gravity. He does not tell how this is possible from the lowest floor level which was below the water line. At one point he suggests that the animals could be trained to urinate and defecate upon command while someone holds a bucket behind the animal. Assuming that this can be accomplished for the largest quarter of the animals and that they need to be serviced three times per day, each person must service 125 animals per hour, 2 animals a minute. What a fun job that must have been."

I won't comment further on this book, as this excerpted description is quite eloquent. I will say, however, that I am pleased that you have seen fit to make a link to Woodmorappe's work.

My main point, again, it that you do not deal with an issue that has very serious implications for everything else that is written on your site. I would not expect you to try and refute every problem in the Bible-after all, who would have the time? But this one seems to be basic and foundational. It is just too large to ignore.

To sum up: I don't understand how you reconcile an all-knowing, all-good god with eternal torture in hell; I don't think your explanation of the "tokens of virginity" is in accord with what is written in the Bible, nor do I think you made the case that men and women are treated in an equitable manner; I am unable to see how my description of the Israelite war raids on civilians was inaccurate as you have implied; and, finally, I feel you are doing your readers a grave disservice by not explaining how the creation story (or stories) and the Noah Ark story of Genesis fit into modern astronomy, meteorology, the geological and biological history of the earth, and the history of human civilization.

Have a nice day.

Brooks

sixth apologist response


Subj: Re: reply posted
Date: 1/25/2001 2:33:30 PM Pacific Standard Time
From: jpholding@mail.integrityonline15.com
Reply-to: jpholding@mail.integrityonline15.com
To:BBu84@aol.com

Well, Brooks,

It'll have to sit a while...I have checked your site periodically for updates and wondered if you'd been run over by an elevator or something, as Bugs Bunny would say.

At any rate, I am working on self-publishing a book, and will be busily engaged for the next few months. Depending on how things go, I may respond in a few days or a few months. Nevertheless, the alert is appreciated.

Regards,

JPH

seventh apologist response


Subj: The next installment
Date: 4/4/01 3:14:05 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From:jphold@iexalt.net
To: BBu84@aol.com

File: brooks.doc (27136 bytes)
DL Time (48000 bps): < 1 minute

-------------------- My next reply is attached. Please update at your earliest convenience.

JPH

Howdy again, Brooks,

I have sent you an e-mail directing you to this reply, which is in response to your last e-mail. Your last e-mail was sent way back in May 2000.

Yep, it's been a while; and I took only about 3 months to get back to you. At this rate we'll be done by June 2008. Just so you know, if you get back quickly this time, don't expect a quick response from me -- that self-publishing effort is starting to come together, and you're not exactly top priority, nor do you need to be, on my list.

One of the questions I asked you earlier was whether the Christian god condemns to hell all the Jews who were beaten, starved, tortured and killed in the Holocaust. You stated that, indeed, the Jews who suffered and who died in the Holocaust are sinners and deserve to be tortured eternally.

Actually, "tormented" is a more accurate word -- the suffering in question would be primarily spiritual and emotional rather than physical; but, that's another topic.

It even appeared that you compared the Jews who suffered and died in the Holocaust to serial murderers:

That's because you're a very shallow reader, Brooks. I used the most outrageous and facetious example of the modern notion that some previous experience ought to mitigate a penalty for a crime -- that is, that someone did not deserve the death penalty because they were kicked as a child (that's an actual example, by the way) in order to make the point as clear as possible. Only a mind as wooden as yours could conclude that a comparison was thereby being made in the manner you suggest. And I find your comment that "Christians have been denigrating and demonizing the Jews ever since the time the Gospels were written" rather comical in hypocritical, in light of your classification elsewhere of the Jews who executed the judgments prescribed in the OT law as "a deranged mob of superstitious, goggle-eyed pinheads." I'm sure the B'nai B'rith folks would find that comment eminently worthy of attention. Or did you not mean to denigrate and demonize all Jews, and am I using too much imagination? And by the way, I think you mean "google," not "goggle." I know of no evidence that Ancient Near Eastern Jews had a special ability to see clearly underwater.

In any case, your effort to label a person's opinion a crime worthy of infinite punishment is truly fascinating:

I'm glad we found something to occupy your otherwise valuable time.

Let's see if I understand this whole scenario, JP. People who do not accept Christianity are willfully rejecting something that is obvious to them? People somehow "choose" not to believe in Christianity, even though, in some way, they know it is true? Are you seriously suggesting this?

Yup. Beyond this there may be issues of those who have never heard the Gospel, but that's another realm of discussion, so don't try to drag it in to score brownie points, as you're wont to do. I'll discuss it, but as a separate issue only and after all else is settled here.

Could you clarify how people do NOT believe in something that they DO believe in?

Gee, Brooks, you can't figger that one out? By your thinking it is me who is deluding myself, and must be refusing to accept the obvious truth. So how do people do this? Think of how you think I and other "goggle-eyed pinheads" do it, then just turn it around. One of us is obviously deluding ourselves, or maybe both of us are; but we can't both be right. Get it?

And if people are engaged in "willful rebellion" against something that is so obvious, then why do apologists like yourself go to such remarkable lengths and compile such prodigious quantities of text to try and reconcile the Bible with reality? If everyone believes in Christianity anyway, then just whom are you trying to convince?

No one -- apologetics is mainly for the information and edification of the believer, not for the shifting of the will. I can hardly expect temporal provincialists like you to appreciate any of it.

Think about this: the main claim of Christianity, the fundamental belief, is that Jesus was resurrected. Thomas, as the story goes, was there when this event occurred and he was not willing to accept that Jesus was resurrected-so how can people who were NOT there be expected to give credence to the conflicting and highly absurd resurrection stories?

Well, there's that usual yellow-belly sniping tactic I see from skeptical quarters. You throw in this little two-cent comment about "conflicting and highly absurd resurrection stories," thereby reducing complex issues of literary methodologies of the first century (Have you ever compared parallel accounts in Josephus' Antiqiuities and Jewish War? If you haven't even looked into this area, you shouldnt even open your mouth.), philosophy, psychology/human will, Jewish eschatology, and so on, down to a sound bite; and I'm supposed to look bad if I don't answer. Well, I'll just be content with exposing that little manipulation for what it is, then move on; I have answers enough on my page for such blatherskeit. No brownie points for you, except among your little play-friends of equal critical capability.

As for Thomas, what do you mean that Thomas was "there when the event occurred"? What event? If you mean the resurrection, he wasn't "there" for it; no one was. He was not "there" when the Risen Jesus first showed up, if that's what you mean. And he, like every skeptic I have run into, including you, was disbelieving in spite of sufficient evidence. He had nearly a dozen men, if not more, whose company he had known for many years, whom he had come to trust and know as friends, testify of this to him -- isn't that enough to believe? If not, why not?

Apart from the historicity of the hearsay resurrection stories,

Please, Brooks -- if you want to play that game, nearly all recorded ancient history (indeed, nearly all recorded history, period) is hearsay. So are you planning on throwing out Livy and Tacitus as well? Come to think of it, temporal provinicialist and sound-bite chucker that you are, you might at that.

The whole schema of sin and redemption is rife with difficulties. Your god can see the future, and knew before he created Adam and Eve that they would eat that apple, right? (Okay, so maybe the apple is figurative for something else) Your god also foresaw that he would get so angry with the people he created that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) so that he could forgive them, but only if they believed that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) for being angry at them, and it all started because a man and a woman ate an apple (which probably means something else), an event which the biblical god had foreseen, and which he created them to do. What kind of sense does this make to you, and why should people be tortured forever for thinking that this story's relationship to truth and reality is, well, somewhat tenuous?

Why should this be a problem? According to the scenario, you have the free choice to accept salvation right now, and nothing to lose by doing so; and yet you're going to complain that simply because God foresaw your rejection, there's some kind of problem? Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

A god which sees the future with perfect clarity and which creates people knowing that they will suffer eternally for their beliefs in a hell it created, is a god that is either very stupid or very sadistic,

In so saying, you've just proven the very point I'm making -- and emasculated your own arguments.

torture for skepticism is a remarkably effective persuasive technique, and some people have even suggested that this is the real reason why it is found in Christianity.

Really? Do you see any mention of hell in the missionary preaching of Acts? I don't. It didn't form any part of the kerygmatic message. And the Greco-Roman peoples had their own conceptions of Hades and a miserable afterlife well before the time of the NT; who were they trying to scare?

blood. When I pointed out the problems with using these things as evidence of virginity, you floated the idea that Israelite judges launched extensive background investigations to determine a girl's virginity:

"Questioning potential witnesses. (Remember the "2 or 3 witnesses" requirement?) Investigating the security of the household and the character of the family. Discerning what the basis of the accusation is, and whether it has any validity. Establishment of reasonable doubt is not a new process."

The problem here is that the quote in question specifically refers to "tokens of virginity." It does not talk of a 'virginity board of inquiry' that took testimony, performed exhaustive background investigations and then carefully deliberated on the question.

It doesn't have to, Mr. Temporal Provincialist, no more than your state statutes have to specify that a detective or police officer will investigate your crime. It's part of the social background of the Ancient Near East. Of course, I know you and a friend of yours, Mr. Krinkles, categorize such explanations in the "blah blah blah" realm, so perhaps I would be better off explaining it to a wall; they certainly have greater powers of comprehension, and are more apt to look into the matter rather than brush it off. Certainly a man like you with a career in photofinishing doesn't have the patience or wherewithal to pick up, much less understand, material on Ancient Near Eastern life and practices. Do you see anything about investigations or judges in the Code of Hammurabi, or in the Assyrian codes? Let me know when you find out.

If young, unmarried non-virgin women were such a scourge and a danger to Israelite society, what happened to mothers who were widowed when their husbands died?

Hello? The issue is not that they were "young, unmarried, non-virgin" per se; the issue is that they were engaged in licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival. A widow isn't doing that, nor are the unmarried.

Apart from the problem of accuracy and fairness of this test of virginity, there also seems to be a problem of equality. You claimed that simply because the quote refers to "young woman," it does not exclude men.

That's right, and as you quote me, I said:

"That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin 'If a man...' mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)"

To which you say:

Apparently, you still do not see the difference here. The specific virginity rule found at Deuteronomy 22:20 can only and does only apply to females.

Apparently the entire point I made went far over your head. Read it again: Ancient law codes were didactic. They presented case law, not exhaustive remedies. The rule could be modified and applied to a man by application. Do I need to put this in the form of a pop-up book for you? Clearly so, because later on, you still don't get this.

And no, babies cannot be considered evidence of a male's illicit sexual unions. If an unmarried girl got pregnant, it seems clear that she would be stoned to death before giving birth.

Where do you see that, may I ask? Now who's reading things into the law that aren't specified? Attorney, heal thyself! Show it to me in the societal context, not based on your personal opinion.

If a married woman got pregnant and gave birth, the assumption could only be that her husband was the father. In any case, the ancient Israelites did not have DNA testing and could not link a particular baby to a particular male if they wanted to.

Uh, Brooks? What is DNA? It's the genetic code for all we are -- including our appearance. You have the traits of your own father and mother, do you not? Hello? Sounds like a way to make a link to me, but I'd guess you'd put that above the heads of "goggle-eyed pinheads," right? Been fitted for your white sheet yet?

For the sake of argument, however, IF the Israelites did have a law which specified the stoning to death of non-virgin, unmarried men and IF they could actually link specific men to specific babies, then instead of killing the men and the mothers, why could they not simply make the men marry the women they impregnated? If not, why not? There certainly is precedence for this in Deuteronomy 22:28.

Why not? Well, Brooks, as I noted, the behavior in the former case, which is an instance of mutally-agreed upon fornication, involved licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival. Man and woman alike in this situation are guilty, and deserve the death penalty. Now knowing how the wheels in your head turn, you are saying: "Gee, JP, didn't the rapist in Deut. 22:28 commit licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival?" Of course he did, but unlike in the previous case, there is an innocent victim left behind who will now be, in light of ancient conceptions of purity, unmarriageable. Therefore, the punishment for the rapist is to take full responsibility for his victim for the rest of his life. (I can anticipate your anachronistic objections at this point, so go ahead and make them so I can make you look more foolish.) And if you think that's getting off easy, let me ask you this: Would you prefer to die, or be enslaved the rest of your life? IOW, do you agree with Henry's epigram, "Give me liberty of give me death?" Or do you cherish your life so much that you'd keep it even if it envolved unalterable servitude? I look forward to your answer -- it will reveal a great deal about your character.

In the first passage, the woman is stoned to death because she did not cry out. But if the woman was being raped and she did cry out, her attacker may have killed her. Seems like a cruel Catch 22 situation to me. What do you think?

I think that if your critical thinking skills were better, you'd see how what I said about the nature of ancient law codes ("blah blah blah") would cover this, and your complaint that follows. Try and figure it out.

would say this is a wonderful, merciful solution to the problem of finding this girl a husband, but don't you think the supreme ruler of the universe could have come up with something slightly more palatable to the girl than forcing her to marry her rapist?

You're being a temporal provincialist again. In this time and place, the girl would want this solution -- you need to look at this through the eyes of a society where the essence of survival was the preservation of key social units.

for now. Could you clarify this for me? Would you go on war raids with specific orders to kill women and children?

Yup. Pass me my Hackenstabber 3 Iron, boy.

the norm." I did not say these raids were unplanned. I only said that they involved the killing of women and children by hacking and stabbing. Do you disagree with this description?

Nope, just having some entertainment at your expense. Or haven't you figured that out yet? It's so amusing to watch you play these little emotional games and throw your head out the window for the sake of your heart.

Of course, the virgin girls were somehow identified and spared in these raids. Their entire families were slaughtered, but they were saved to become wives of the men who butchered their families and friends. You described this as a "very merciful action in that day and age." That is a fascinating perspective.

And one you might understand, if your mind weren't so narrowly focussed on this world in which we have a 7-11 on every corner and grocery stores everywhere and welfare checks flying out of the government's wallet every month. Virgin girls aren't too hard to narrow down to.

Let's put aside Deuteronomy, and move on to Genesis. You wrote an essay that attempted to reconcile the two creation accounts given in Genesis. Whether or not you were successful in resolving the disagreements between the two creation accounts is a moot point, in my opinion.

Meaning, you have no answer to it. I happen to consider that item irrefutable, and I seriously doubt that anyone has the brains to address it. Certainly Farrell Till's loyal legions couldn't.

You are missing the forest for the trees. There is a far bigger and more basic issue that you completely fail to address. In my previous e-mail, I explained to you that the Bible puts this creation event within the last 6000 years (see the genealogy for Jesus given in Luke 3). Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), actually calculated the creation of the universe to have been in the year 4004, BC. Today we know that the earth is quite a bit older than 6000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 years. You refused to take up this subject in your last e-mail, writing: "Unlike you I do not venture into realms where I do not have knowledge, and my science knowledge is minimal, as I will freely admit." I would suggest to you that it is not necessary to earn a science degree or to be a scientist to understand and accept that the earth is not and cannot be only a few thousand years old. It does not take a PhD in astrophysics to see this, just a sixth grade education and some measure of common sense.

That you think that such complex matters as this, and Noah's Ark (which you go on to refer to) can be resolved by someone with "just a sixth grade education and some measure of common sense" (is that a self-description by you?) only shows how naive you are. Well, Brooks, I'll tell you what, here's a deal for you. In my opinion, you too are missing rather a significant forest, and are failing to address many things you ought to, and fail to deal with issues that have very serious implications for everything else that is written on your site, including many things that are basic and foundational and just too large to ignore. So, I'll make a deal with you. I have a bibliography of at least 150 books for you to read that cover these foundational issues. You can make a corresponding list for me, and we'll go at it simultaenously. What do you say?

Have a nice day.

Already did! C'ya at Christimas time? Ho ho ho!


eighth e-mail to apologist (8a)


Subj: one point
Date: 4/17/2001 1:51:44 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: BBu84
To: jphold@iexalt.net

Mr. Holding,

This is Brooks. I am adding a very short reply to one of the points in your last e-mail, with an eye to providing a more detailed response later.

Cheers,

Brooks


response 8b


         April 17, 2001
Mr. Holding,

I will respond to your latest e-mail in greater detail later, hopefully sooner rather than later. For now, however, I would like to comment on just one of the statements you made.

ME: Let's put aside Deuteronomy, and move on to Genesis. You wrote an essay that attempted to reconcile the two creation accounts given in Genesis. Whether or not you were successful in resolving the disagreements between the two creation accounts is a moot point, in my opinion.

YOU:
Meaning, you have no answer to it. I happen to consider that item irrefutable, and I seriously doubt that anyone has the brains to address it. Certainly Farrell Till's loyal legions couldn't.

I only referred to your article because in it you assume that Genesis is historically accurate. Whether one person or 1000 wrote Genesis is quite beside the point. I could care less-it is irrevalent. The real conundrum, the overwhelming, crushing problem here that you are obviously trying to sidestep, is that the Genesis stories are contradicted by each and every fact of history, science and civilization that touch on the subject. Most of the Christians I talk to concede this, and simply accept Genesis as mythology. In light of all this, your tortured efforts to reconcile the two creation accounts in Genesis are about as significant and as impressive as a gnat fart in the midst of supernova explosion.

In any case, despite it being a completely and totally moot point, if you really think your arguments for a single author of the Genesis creation stories are "irrefutable," perhaps you would like to take a look at a critical review of your article (from) another website. The reviewer points out that, among other things, you leave out verses that contradict your argument. I would say that you do this much in the same way you omit links to the skeptical articles you attack. I wrote to the author of the article, pointed him to our discussion and asked permission to link to his review. His reply contains some interesting observations on our conversation, so I have decided to incorporate his e-mail into this discussion page.

Enjoy.

Brooks



Subj: Re: JP Holding article
Date: 4/6/01 7:06:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: nousministries@yahoo.com (Nous Ministries)
To: Bbu85@aol.com

Brooks,

Thanks for taking the time to write to us. You are, of course, more than welcome to use our article on the two creation stories in your "debate" with Holding. However, since much of your conversation revolves around "theology," (i.e. whether or not God would behave in a particular way) it may not do much good. We frankly don't care about the stories people keep in their heads. If Holding wants to believe that there is an invisible being that exists in some parallel spirit world that's fine by us. We leave it to him to decide the rules this being lives by, as we have nothing to do with it.

If you don't mind us making an observation, your conversation with him began with your incredulity regarding the moral directives of God in regard to the handling of virgins (i.e. killing young unwed women who weren't!). It seemed impossible to you to believe in a god that would require such an extreme solution. However, notwithstanding his usual condescending attitude, Holding does make a few valid points regarding ancient law code and the necessity thereof. We agree that the ancient Middle East had differing standards of rules and regulations than we do today in order to keep its societies alive. Given the context of the cultures (which Holding rightly points out) such harsh requirements and solutions might seem reasonable. But how does Holding pretend to know more about how the ancient world operated than anyone else? From what authority does he speak? Does he have some magic mirror that allows him to see into the past and tell us with unqualified assurance that he knows exactly how these people behaved and what motivated them? He can speculate, to be sure. We can all speculate. However, how does such an observation argue for God in the first place? As you pointed out, the "tests" of virginity are flawed (if indeed they came from an omniscient mind) and are stronger evidence that the requirement came from man and not from a supernatural being. Like many other moral precepts, the ones of the Bible can exist without the intervention of a god (especially when they can be shown to be culture-specific [as Holding did] and not universal). Sure, such injunctions carry more weight when they are believed to have been directed from a Supreme Being but what precedent do we have in believing this is true? Triangles have three sides as well but it doesn't take a god to make them so.

But more to the point, we think our article regarding the two creation stories demonstrates the fallacies in Holding's thinking when it comes to a historic and literary reconstruction of the Bible. He has his opinion, for what it's worth, but we wonder how this one individual has "all the answers" regarding this subject while the majority of the world's Hebrew Bible scholars differ with him radically. What does he know that they do not? Yet we noticed in his reply to you that he stated,"Get this: In an oral-based society, repeating a story, putting it in slightly different form, was NORMAL. And what I call G1 and G2 likely represented originally separate oral units that were combined literarily into what we now call Genesis."The first problem with his statement is that nothing like it exists in his article "Creation Account, Times Two." Secondly, when the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4a is read followed by the one from 2:4b onward, how can one make the observation that they are indeed *only* "slightly different?" They are radically different despite what Holding says. And what the heck are "originally separate oral units" other than two separate creation stories anyway?

Holding now is claiming something he doesn't say in his article: that the stories as we have them today in Genesis, "likely represented originally separate oral units." How does this support his contention that only one author penned both accounts? Unless he is claiming something new and trying to argue that the same person created both "separate oral units," we agree with him whole-heartedly that the stories came from two separate traditions (i.e. two authors). It is true that the version we have today was *penned* by one author (what he refers to as "combined literarily") in much the same manner as an editor will take two stories about the same subject but by two separate authors and combine them into a single account. What is far more likely is that the "P" author, who composed Genesis 1:1 -2:4a, had before him the version from the "J" author (who composed Genesis 2:4b onward). He was responsible for the form in which we have them today, combining his account with "J's." He composed his own version--likely based on information from an oral tradition--and combined it with a written copy (perhaps) of another version based again on another separate oral account. But regardless of the actual process of composition and redaction, the creation stories themselves are indeed from separate traditions. We're not sure, exactly, how he reconciles this fact given the article that he wrote. Perhaps we are mistaken in our reading of it but he seems to us to be contradicting himself.

No matter the outcome, remember that Holding has told you all his apologetic work is not meant to convince anyone but "is mainly for the information and edification of the believer, not for the shifting of the will. I can hardly expect temporal provincialists like you to appreciate any of it." He has made the foregone conclusion that his material is nonsense to anyone who doesn't already believe the way he does (while not being able to avoid insulting you in the process) so continuing your "debate" with him appears to be futile. He has already decided that anyone not as intelligent or "well connected" as he is is doomed to never understand the pearls of wisdom that he dispenses. Remember, Bible-defenders like Holding maintain that "the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) Just remind him that "Iihilllbni884 hioolx ghirr" doesn't make any sense either except to the Hbiljketiets so what's the point of continuing a conversation if the Hbiljketiets tell you that you cannot understand them? Holding and his kind have convinced themselves that they live in a different world than the rest of us and they, somehow, have the special key to understanding its rules. If that's the way they want to entertain themselves in their corner of the playground, so what? As long as they stay there and keep to themselves they are harmless.

--ed



eighth apologist response


Subj: Re: one point
Date: 4/17/2001 2:05:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: jphold@iexalt.net
Reply-to: jphold@iexalt.net
To: BBu84@aol.com

Howdy,

>>I am adding a very short reply to one of the points in your last e-mail, with an eye to providing a more detailed response later.

As you wish. If you note therein that a more detailed reply is forthcoming I will wait until that reply is done before responding.

Cheers,
JPH


ninth apologist response


Subj: Response -- insert at earliest convenience
Date: 4/23/2001 3:03:32 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: jphold@iexalt.net
To: BBu84@aol.com

Howdy, Brooks,

May I venture a small reply on this tangent? Thanks, knew I could count on ya!

Most of the Christians I talk to concede this, and simply accept Genesis as mythology. In light of all this, your tortured efforts to reconcile the two creation accounts in Genesis are about as significant and as impressive as a gnat fart in the midst of supernova explosion.

Hey, Brooks, you're the one who brought up the subject in the first place, so you're the one who wanted to smell gnat farts, not me. Anyway, it seems you've embarked on a new career, scraping barrel bottoms. Photofinishing got boring, did it? You referred me to an article at a rather curious place called "Nous Ministries." Quite an appropriate hangout for someone of your age level, I must admit! That gift shop is a real horse laugh, but there were many other, funnier things about the site I noticed right away.

First of all, this Nous character is clearly relying on seriously outdated versions of the articles he critiques. Not surprising, since his link to me is to the old URL I abandoned almost a year ago.

Second, I found his anonymity interesting. As I know, there can be quite valid reasons for staying anonymous or using a pseudonym, and I didn't doubt that this fellow had some -- turned out I was right, too. I noted at once in his "About Us" section that he claimed to have attended seminary, and left it, and had a degree in religious studies. That was a big clue. Then I did some digging. You know who your hero at Nous is, Brooks? He's a dropout from the XXXXXX. Stayed there only 6 months before he dropped out. Big whoop. I've spent eight times that studying on the same level on my own. His degree in "religious studies" comes from one of those low-level schools (XXXXXX) where you make your own degree program. This turkey (and I know his name, but I'll leave that out) is nothing but a child crying for attention and banging on pots and pans as loud as he can in order to get it. He certainly isn't qualified to write articles, and that he thinks that whining, "How do you know?" is a form of argument is further evidence of that, as is that he basically does little more than regurgitate what he reads in the material he has picked out.

As for his criticisms you listed, most of them, like the ones in his article, are outdated. Others are misdirected -- and yes, he is misunderstanding the issue with relation to the "oral units" quote; that is only a tangent in context, but since it was brought up, I'll probably add in an analysis of the "oral units" issue after I get done reading Crenshaw's Education in Ancient Israel as well as finish some recently-acquired books on the JEDP theory, which he alludes to (and which, sorry, ain't the solid rock he thinks it is; ask Mr. Nousie, did he read Whybray's Making of the Pentateuch? It's at that school he dropped out of....he could also stand to read Sailhamer's Pentateuch as Narrative, though that's not there.) His charge that I "omit" portions of the text is of no relevance, since his application is off the mark in the first place. And his charge that, "What Holding doesn't tell his readers is that the actual division between the two creation stories occurs in the middle of this verse! (2:4)" is also a laugh -- I'm sure he knows that not all agree, even in the JEDP camp, that that's where the division should occur. His attempt to paste JEDP on the subjects is ad hoc, just like most of that theory is.

Interesting that he had to spank you much as I did about keeping in mind the societal context -- and very honest of you to print it. Which reminds me, if he wants to know where my "magic mirror" is, he should know -- unless he skipped out on XXXXXX before getting to all those classes on social background data. With only 6 months under the belt, that's likely the case.

Rather funny, too, that he pops out with "the majority of Hebrew Bible scholars" -- I don't see much in the way of footnotes anywhere on that site, much less critical analysis of the positions of all of these "Hebrew Bible scholars." He relies mostly on that nutty popularist Friedman, JEDP's version of John Shelby Spong. I wonder if that stint at XXXXXX was actually cut short because he didn't have the sense to know how to compose a research paper properly.

All in all, while I see a couple of points worth developing, they are of the sort that I have already found in other critical sources on the subject (though done much better) and have planned to address anyway. If this is the best you can come up with to help you defend yourself, though, I had better back off -- lest the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals get upset about my unfair advantage. Gnat farts, indeed!

JPH


response 9a


Subj: another reply
Date: 8/6/2001 2:24:27 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: BBu84
To: jphold@iexalt.net

Mr. Holding,

I am adding another reply to our discussion page here:

http://members.aol.com/bbu85/hold.htm

Brooks
Christianity: Bogus Beyond Belief


response 9b


         August 7, 2001
Mr. Holding,

ME: I have sent you an e-mail directing you to this reply, which is in response to your last e-mail. Your last e-mail was sent way back in May 2000.

YOU: Yep, it's been a while; and I took only about 3 months to get back to you. At this rate we'll be done by June 2008.

You pride yourself on having the last word. I have no intention of letting you have the last word-so perhaps this discussion will last even longer.

Just so you know, if you get back quickly this time, don't expect a quick response from me -- that self-publishing effort is starting to come together, and you're not exactly top priority, nor do you need to be, on my list.

This may shock you, but I don't care where I fit on your priority list.

Actually, "tormented" is a more accurate word -- the suffering in question would be primarily spiritual and emotional rather than physical; but, that's another topic.

Why do you shy away from calling it torture? Are you embarrassed? Jesus is very colorful in his description of Hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, as a place of burning and torment. Remember that wonderful story Jesus told of Laz'arus in anguish, begging for water? Do you recall Aquinas' musings on the suffering of the damned, and on how much enjoyment Christians would derive from observing it from heaven? The torture of the damned is a fundamental Christian doctrine and it has been promoted quite enthusiastically for the last 19 centuries. Modern efforts to spruce up this beloved biblical doctrine and make it more politically correct are asinine.

Only a mind as wooden as yours could conclude that a comparison was thereby being made in the manner you suggest.

This brings us back to the original point. If you are only exaggerating the point of why the Jews deserve to be tortured for eternity, then what are they really, actually, specifically guilty of? Instead of using exaggerated analogies, tell me exactly why it is that Jews DESERVE to be tortured, or tormented, or punished, or made to suffer for all eternity in some place called Hell. It should be noted here that the Jews were God's chosen people at one time.

Puzzling.

Or did you not mean to denigrate and demonize all Jews, and am I using too much imagination?

Yes, you are using too much imagination. I only apply the "pinhead" description to the primitive, superstitious and violent people portrayed in the OT. This is an effort at misdirection on your part, since you have not responded to the question of why the Jews deserve eternal torture. I will reiterate here that the Gospels denigrate the Jews and that Christians have persecuted the Jews virtually since the time the New Testament books were slapped together.

Think of how you think I and other "goggle-eyed pinheads"

Once again, I have never termed modern Christians or Jews “goggle-eyed pinheads.” I reserve this term for the primitive, superstitious and violent people portrayed in the Old Testament.

ME: Could you clarify how people do NOT believe in something that they DO believe in?
YOU:One of us is obviously deluding ourselves, or maybe both of us are; but we can't both be right. Get it?

No, I don't. People may conclude that you are deluding yourself, but your belief in God is quite genuine to you. To clarify this further, let's me return to the original statement you made which initiated this part of the discussion:

The 'eternal BBQ' is the result of willful rebellion against God. It is what people choose.

The term “willful rebellion” implies a belief in God, for how can people willfully rebel against something they don't believe exists? You are clearly implying that atheists are really theists. I will submit to you that you are not making sense. Imagine, for a moment, that I claimed that you know that God does not exist, that you are arguing for something that you know is false, that you are in willful rebellion against the truth. Would that make any sense to you? I don't think it would.

So let's be very clear about this: You honestly and truly believe that God exists, and I honestly and truly believe that God does not exist. You can call me delusional and I can call you the same, but we both genuinely believe that our positions are correct.

Back to the original question: How can people "choose" to not to believe in something that they believe in?
ME: And if people are engaged in "willful rebellion" against something that is so obvious, then why do apologists like yourself go to such remarkable lengths and compile such prodigious quantities of text to try and reconcile the Bible with reality? If everyone believes in Christianity anyway, then just whom are you trying to convince?

YOU: No one -- apologetics is mainly for the information and edification of the believer, not for the shifting of the will.

Apologetic argumentation is to keep believers from straying from the fold, which is a big problem since Christianity does not conform to the facts of reality.

ME: so how can people who were NOT there be expected to give credence to the conflicting and highly absurd resurrection stories?

YOU: Well, there's that usual yellow-belly sniping tactic I see from skeptical quarters. You throw in this little two-cent comment about "conflicting and highly absurd resurrection stories," thereby reducing complex issues of literary methodologies of the first century (Have you ever compared parallel accounts in Josephus' Antiqiuities and Jewish War? If you haven't even looked into this area, you shouldnt even open your mouth.), philosophy, psychology/human will, Jewish eschatology, and so on.

Despite all the convoluted verbiage and linguistic gymnastics on your web site, the resurrection stories remain contradictory and highly absurd, so I stand by my statement.

ME: Not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is an opinion. So, torturing people for not believing that Jesus Christ was divine is torturing people for their opinions. There is no other way to describe it.

YOU: Other than as a refusal to accept hard fact, and if you are able to prove otherwise, I have a challenge posted...you know where it is.

The hard fact is that the biblical god threatens to torture people for their opinions. Period.

As for Thomas, what do you mean that Thomas was "there when the event occurred"? What event? If you mean the resurrection, he wasn't "there" for it; no one was. He was not "there" when the Risen Jesus first showed up, if that's what you mean. And he, like every skeptic I have run into, including you, was disbelieving in spite of sufficient evidence. He had nearly a dozen men, if not more, whose company he had known for many years, whom he had come to trust and know as friends, testify of this to him -- isn't that enough to believe? If not, why not?

These are simply four anonymous, conflicting stories about highly unnatural events that no one else noticed at the time. They are unsupported. There is not “sufficient evidence” for anyone to believe these stories, there never has been, and no amount of apologetic tap-dancing work will change this. No reasonable person can be expected to believe such absurd stories 2000 years removed from their origin.

ME: Apart from the historicity of the hearsay resurrection stories,...

YOU: Please, Brooks -- if you want to play that game, nearly all recorded ancient history (indeed, nearly all recorded history, period) is hearsay. So are you planning on throwing out Livy and Tacitus as well? Come to think of it, temporal provinicialist and sound-bite chucker that you are, you might at that.

Historians do not accept miracle claims, and especially anonymous miracles claims, as historical. Maybe you were unaware of this. That is why the Gospels are part of a religion, are believed in on faith, and are not taught as history.

ME: the whole schema of sin and redemption is rife with difficulties. Your god can see the future, and knew before he created Adam and Eve that they would eat that apple, right? (Okay, so maybe the apple is figurative for something else) Your god also foresaw that he would get so angry with the people he created that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) so that he could forgive them, but only if they believed that he would arrange to have them kill him (or his son) for being angry at them, and it all started because a man and a woman ate an apple (which probably means something else), an event which the biblical god had foreseen, and which he created them to do. What kind of sense does this make to you, and why should people be tortured forever for thinking that this story's relationship to truth and reality is, well, somewhat tenuous?

YOU: Why should this be a problem? According to the scenario, you have the free choice to accept salvation right now, and nothing to lose by doing so; and yet you're going to complain that simply because God foresaw your rejection, there's some kind of problem? Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

Again, this is an absolutely asinine story, by any measure. That is the problem. A “god” which would demand that people believe it or face eternal torture would be evil.

ME: A god which sees the future with perfect clarity and which creates people knowing that they will suffer eternally for their beliefs in a hell it created, is a god that is either very stupid or very sadistic,

YOU: In so saying, you've just proven the very point I'm making -- and emasculated your own arguments.

Come again? Explain it this to me because I am not following you. Thanks.

ME: torture for skepticism is a remarkably effective persuasive technique, and some people have even suggested that this is the real reason why it is found in Christianity.

YOU: Really? Do you see any mention of hell in the missionary preaching of Acts? I don't. It didn't form any part of the kerygmatic message.

Try reading the words of Jesus in the Gospels. Or don't you believe Jesus?

And the Greco-Roman peoples had their own conceptions of Hades and a miserable afterlife well before the time of the NT; who were they trying to scare?

There is a difference between Hades and Hell. If I remember correctly, the Greco-Roman view of Hades was that it was where everyone went at death. Christianity promoted the notion that there was Heaven for believers and Hell-a place of torment-for un-believers. The concept of Heaven and Hell has been an excellent tool for conversion, regardless of whether such places exist.

ME: When I pointed out the problems with using these things as evidence of virginity, you floated the idea that Israelite judges launched extensive background investigations to determine a girl's virginity:

YOU: "Questioning potential witnesses. (Remember the "2 or 3 witnesses" requirement?) Investigating the security of the household and the character of the family. Discerning what the basis of the accusation is, and whether it has any validity. Establishment of reasonable doubt is not a new process."

That is not what the quote indicates, and I do not see you providing any evidence that the ancient Hebrews launched detailed investigations to determine a girls' virginity. You'll remember that when I first asked you this question, you theorized that “tokens of virginity” referred to bloody sheets or undergarments. When I pointed out the obvious problems that were entailed by trying to use these things to ascertain a girl's virginity, you then focused on this idea of a virginity board of inquiry.

The Bible gives a description of what "tokens of virginity" are in Deuteronomy 22:13-19:

"If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and then spurns her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings an evil name upon her, saying, 'I took this woman, and when I came near her, I did not find in her the tokens of virginity,' then the father of the young woman and her mother shall take and bring out the tokens of her virginity to the elders of the city in the gate; and the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, 'I gave my daughter to this man to wife, and he spurns her; and lo, he has made shameful charges against her, saying, "I did not find in your daughter the tokens of virginity." And yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take the man and whip him; and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days."

So tokens of virginity appear to be garments of some kind. How a garment spread out on the ground is supposed to provide a reliable demonstration of whether or not a girl has had sex is not made clear. There does not seem to be any way a garment could provide this sort of information in a trustworthy way. You'll recall that the death-by-stoning-virginity law was instituted by God itself. One would imagine that God could have devised a more dependable test. Let's read the original law again, shall we?:

“But if the thing is true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones...”

If you will notice, the quote does not read “if the tokens of virginity are not found in the young woman, you shall gather an army of people and a vast array of resources and launch an exhaustive investigation-questioning numerous witness and examining multiple types of evidence until a just, reasonable and informed conclusion can be handed down from a blue ribbon panel.” No, what the law says is that if the tokens of virginity are not found, the girl is to be brutally executed. Period. Waving your hands around and claiming that the law implied a virginity board of inquiry just isn't convincing. Nothing in the original quote, and nothing in anything you have presented even begins to suggest this.

ME: The problem here is that the quote in question specifically refers to "tokens of virginity." It does not talk of a 'virginity board of inquiry' that took testimony, performed exhaustive background investigations and then carefully deliberated on the question.

YOU: It doesn't have to, Mr. Temporal Provincialist, no more than your state statutes have to specify that a detective or police officer will investigate your crime. It's part of the social background of the Ancient Near East. Of course, I know you and a friend of yours, Mr. Krinkles, categorize such explanations in the "blah blah blah" realm, so perhaps I would be better off explaining it to a wall; they certainly have greater powers of comprehension, and are more apt to look into the matter rather than brush it off. Certainly a man like you with a career in photofinishing doesn't have the patience or wherewithal to pick up, much less understand, material on Ancient Near Eastern life and practices. Do you see anything about investigations or judges in the Code of Hammurabi, or in the Assyrian codes? Let me know when you find out.

Again, the quote in question does not mention a board of investigation. You do not provide specific references to, nor evidence of, these board of inquiries that investigated girls' virginity-you merely claim that such things existed. You excuse the absence of evidence for such investigative committees in the Bible only by saying that that these laws were didactic, or instructive, and were not meant to be specific as to how they were to be carried out. But this explanation for the lack of evidence for such investigative committees does not show that such investigative committees actually existed. Moreover, Deuteronomy 22:13 describes "tokens of virginity" simply as a garment of some kind.

Your “virginity board of inquiry” is apparently something you have manufactured to make the ancient Hebrews and their god look more reflective, intelligent and fair than the Bible would indicate.

ME: If young, unmarried non-virgin women were such a scourge and a danger to Israelite society, what happened to mothers who were widowed when their husbands died?

YOU: Hello? The issue is not that they were "young, unmarried, non-virgin" per se; the issue is that they were engaged in licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival. A widow isn't doing that, nor are the unmarried.

If the widowed and the unmarried did not threaten society, please tell me exactly what these other people did and how, precisely, it threatened society's survival. I am curious.

ME: Apart from the problem of accuracy and fairness of this test of virginity, there also seems to be a problem of equality. You claimed that simply because the quote refers to "young woman," it does not exclude men.

YOU: That's right, and as you quote me, I said:

"That it is directed at females does not exclude men at all. Ancient law codes were didactic in nature; they were meant to present case law, not an exhaustive remedy for all situations...no more so do all the laws that begin 'If a man...' mean that a woman could get away with whatever it was. (Thus a judge could use the case law Deut. 22:22 to convict a man who had violated a willing virgin.)"

To which you say:

Apparently, you still do not see the difference here. The specific virginity rule found at Deuteronomy 22:20 can only and does only apply to females.

Apparently the entire point I made went far over your head. Read it again: Ancient law codes were didactic. They presented case law, not exhaustive remedies. The rule could be modified and applied to a man by application. Do I need to put this in the form of a pop-up book for you? Clearly so, because later on, you still don't get this.

Men and women were not treated equally in ancient times. This was a male dominated, male-ruled society, and women were considered little better than farm animals. Laws for women would not necessarily be applied to men. Clearly there were gender specific laws. You have presented no evidence that there was a virginity law for males as there was for females, and you still have not resolved how such a law for males, if it did exist, could be implemented or enforced.

ME: And no, babies cannot be considered evidence of a male's illicit sexual unions. If an unmarried girl got pregnant, it seems clear that she would be stoned to death before giving birth.

YOU: Where do you see that, may I ask? Now who's reading things into the law that aren't specified? Attorney, heal thyself! Show it to me in the societal context, not based on your personal opinion.

Girls who were lost their virginity outside of marriage were stoned to death. Girls who had sex outside of marriage were stoned to death. A girl who got pregnant outside a marriage would fall into this category, and would also be stoned to death. Or am I missing something?

ME: If a married woman got pregnant and gave birth, the assumption could only be that her husband was the father. In any case, the ancient Israelites did not have DNA testing and could not link a particular baby to a particular male if they wanted to.

YOU: Uh, Brooks? What is DNA? It's the genetic code for all we are -- including our appearance. You have the traits of your own father and mother, do you not? Hello? Sounds like a way to make a link to me, but I'd guess you'd put that above the heads of "goggle-eyed pinheads," right? Been fitted for your white sheet yet?

“Sounds like a way to make a link to me.” Obviously you are just making stuff up as you go along, trying one explanation after another till something sticks. Or are you actually going to tell me that you read this somewhere? Genetics does not work the way you describe. Anyone who has ever had a baby knows that you can rarely link babies to fathers by their appearance. Take a look at the next baby you see and try and determine who the father is. Why do you think there is such a booming business in DNA paternity tests? Heck, if everyone looked like their father, we would all look like Adam.

You are going to have to come up with a better virginity test for males. With your very fertile imagination, I am sure you will be able to invent some other explanation.

ME: For the sake of argument, however, IF the Israelites did have a law which specified the stoning to death of non-virgin, unmarried men and IF they could actually link specific men to specific babies, then instead of killing the men and the mothers, why could they not simply make the men marry the women they impregnated? If not, why not? There certainly is precedence for this in Deuteronomy 22:28.

YOU: Why not? Well, Brooks, as I noted, the behavior in the former case, which is an instance of mutally-agreed upon fornication, involved licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival. Man and woman alike in this situation are guilty, and deserve the death penalty. Now knowing how the wheels in your head turn, you are saying: "Gee, JP, didn't the rapist in Deut. 22:28 commit licentious behavior that threatened the society's fabric and survival?" Of course he did, but unlike in the previous case, there is an innocent victim left behind who will now be, in light of ancient conceptions of purity, unmarriageable. Therefore, the punishment for the rapist is to take full responsibility for his victim for the rest of his life. (I can anticipate your anachronistic objections at this point, so go ahead and make them so I can make you look more foolish.) And if you think that's getting off easy, let me ask you this: Would you prefer to die, or be enslaved the rest of your life? IOW, do you agree with Henry's epigram, "Give me liberty of give me death?" Or do you cherish your life so much that you'd keep it even if it envolved unalterable servitude? I look forward to your answer -- it will reveal a great deal about your character.

I don't understand what you are asking me. I don't view marriage as lifelong enslavement. If you do, then you have a much different opinion of it then me. Did the ancient Hebrews view marriage this way? If so, why did anyone ever marry?

In any case, this law seems to present an out for the girl who is believed not to be a virgin on her wedding night and who is going to be stoned to death for it. She could claim that her new husband had raped her. This would insure that she would not be pummeled with rocks, and her marriage would become binding.

ME: In the first passage, the woman is stoned to death because she did not cry out. But if the woman was being raped and she did cry out, her attacker may have killed her. Seems like a cruel Catch 22 situation to me. What do you think?

YOU: I think that if your critical thinking skills were better, you'd see how what I said about the nature of ancient law codes ("blah blah blah") would cover this, and your complaint that follows. Try and figure it out.

I guess I am slow. Please explain to me how ancient law codes protected women from such a terrible Catch 22 situation.

ME: would say this is a wonderful, merciful solution to the problem of finding this girl a husband, but don't you think the supreme ruler of the universe could have come up with something slightly more palatable to the girl than forcing her to marry her rapist?

YOU: You're being a temporal provincialist again. In this time and place, the girl would want this solution -- you need to look at this through the eyes of a society where the essence of survival was the preservation of key social units.

Let's say that you were raped by a 300 pound psychopath name Bruno. Would you "want" to be his bed-partner and life-long companion because he raped you? Would you "want" this “solution” to the problem of being made un-marriable by Bruno? Would a perfect “God” make such an idiotic rule? I look forward to your answer -- it will reveal a great deal about your character.

ME: Could you clarify this for me? Would you go on war raids with specific orders to kill women and children?

YOU: Yup. Pass me my Hackenstabber 3 Iron, boy.

Thank you for your honesty. That you can make a joke out of the dismemberment of mothers and their children reveals "a great deal about your character.”

ME: I did not say these raids were unplanned. I only said that they involved the killing of women and children by hacking and stabbing. Do you disagree with this description?

YOU: Nope, just having some entertainment at your expense. Or haven't you figured that out yet? It's so amusing to watch you play these little emotional games and throw your head out the window for the sake of your heart.

And it is quite enlightening to see the kinds of moral atrocities you will support and defend because of your religious beliefs.

ME: Of course, the virgin girls were somehow identified and spared in these raids. Their entire families were slaughtered, but they were saved to become wives of the men who butchered their families and friends. You described this as a "very merciful action in that day and age." That is a fascinating perspective.

YOU: And one you might understand, if your mind weren't so narrowly focussed on this world in which we have a 7-11 on every corner and grocery stores everywhere and welfare checks flying out of the government's wallet every month. Virgin girls aren't too hard to narrow down to.

Virgin girls are not hard to narrow down to? Really? How do you know-have you ever tried to pick out girls who were virgins? Or boys for that matter? If so, why? In any case, I am still trying to understand the mercy of forcing girls to marry the men who butchered their friends and family. You see, I do not operate in the rarefied air of your morally perfect theology, so, regrettably, I have some trouble discerning the moral goodness of this practice.

ME: Let's put aside Deuteronomy, and move on to Genesis. You wrote an essay that attempted to reconcile the two creation accounts given in Genesis. Whether or not you were successful in resolving the disagreements between the two creation accounts is a moot point, in my opinion.

YOU: Meaning, you have no answer to it. I happen to consider that item irrefutable, and I seriously doubt that anyone has the brains to address it. Certainly Farrell Till's loyal legions couldn't.

Again, I consider this is a moot point. They are clearly two separate stories, your tortured article notwithstanding. You should know that you have a link to a site by an apologist named Metacrock who views all of Genesis as mythological and who admits that the Genesis creation account represents two different stories that were combined into one. Metacrock uses the CADRE site as his link page, and this site links to your site. Perhaps you should have made some kind of effort to align your opinion of Genesis with Metacrock's prior to linking to his site, because your mutually exclusive views of Genesis will surely create dissention and division amongst Christians desperately seeking “edification” on your web site.

ME: You are missing the forest for the trees. There is a far bigger and more basic issue that you completely fail to address. In my previous e-mail, I explained to you that the Bible puts this creation event within the last 6000 years (see the genealogy for Jesus given in Luke 3). Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), actually calculated the creation of the universe to have been in the year 4004, BC. Today we know that the earth is quite a bit older than 6000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 years. You refused to take up this subject in your last e-mail, writing: "Unlike you I do not venture into realms where I do not have knowledge, and my science knowledge is minimal, as I will freely admit." I would suggest to you that it is not necessary to earn a science degree or to be a scientist to understand and accept that the earth is not and cannot be only a few thousand years old. It does not take a PhD in astrophysics to see this, just a sixth grade education and some measure of common sense.

YOU: That you think that such complex matters as this, and Noah's Ark (which you go on to refer to) can be resolved by someone with "just a sixth grade education and some measure of common sense" (is that a self-description by you?) only shows how naive you are. Well, Brooks, I'll tell you what, here's a deal for you. In my opinion, you too are missing rather a significant forest, and are failing to address many things you ought to, and fail to deal with issues that have very serious implications for everything else that is written on your site, including many things that are basic and foundational and just too large to ignore. So, I'll make a deal with you. I have a bibliography of at least 150 books for you to read that cover these foundational issues. You can make a corresponding list for me, and we'll go at it simultaenously. What do you say?

There is nothing complex about Noah's Ark. It is a simple-minded, mythical story, believed in by primitive people who didn't know any better. I don't blame them for this. I do, however, criticize modern, educated people who promote this story as the truth.

As far as the “deal” to read 150 books, what is the point of this? The point, clearly, is to make an absurd challenge that you know no reasonable person would ever accept, to take my refusal to accept such a "deal" as some kind of victory for your position, and then use this "victory" in any future responses you might make. Pathetic.

I will reiterate, once again, that by revealing that you accept Genesis as literal history and by actually linking to a feasibility study of Noah's Ark (!), you end up undercutting everything else you write. This literalist view of Genesis is absurd, absolutely ridiculous, and I think you have some vague, perhaps subconscious understanding of this because you do not make any real effort to address the issue. Instead you brush the issue aside, ignore it, claim you are not scientifically qualified to discuss it, or this or that, but this problem cannot be swept under the rug and ignored. It is too big. It is huge. Natural history, biology, astronomy, the development of civilizations, and science in general render a literal interpretation of Genesis completely, absolutely and totally untenable. Most Christians understand and accept this. So my suggestion to you is to remove any trace from your site that you accept Genesis literally, deny it if possible, and take out your link to Metacrock's web site, as well as the Woodmorappe Ark link. That way there will be a slightly better chance for people to take you seriously.

Hey, Brooks, you're the one who brought up the subject in the first place, so you're the one who wanted to smell gnat farts, not me. Anyway, it seems you've embarked on a new career, scraping barrel bottoms. Photofinishing got boring, did it? You referred me to an article at a rather curious place called "Nous Ministries." Quite an appropriate hangout for someone of your age level, I must admit!

You are going to have to be a bit more creative with your insults. These were pretty weak.

...Then I did some digging. You know who your hero at Nous is, Brooks? He's a dropout from the XXXXX. Stayed there only 6 months before he dropped out. Big whoop. I've spent eight times that studying on the same level on my own. His degree in "religious studies" comes from one of those low-level schools (XXXXXX) where you make your own degree program. This turkey (and I know his name, but I'll leave that out) is nothing but a child crying for attention and banging on pots and pans as loud as he can in order to get it. He certainly isn't qualified to write articles, and that he thinks that whining, "How do you know?" is a form of argument is further evidence of that, as is that he basically does little more than regurgitate what he reads in the material he has picked out.

You spend all of your time belittling this guy rather than dealing with his points, but that is your standard MO, isn't it? Not impressive.

As for his criticisms you listed, most of them, like the ones in his article, are outdated. Others are misdirected -- and (etc)

Nothing here worth responding to.

His charge that I "omit" portions of the text is of no relevance, since his application is off the mark in the first place.

But you DO omit very relevant text, just like you omit links to the articles you attack, which, I might add, is a very bizarre way of running a website.

Interesting that he had to spank you much as I did about keeping in mind the societal context -- and very honest of you to print it.

The ancient Hebrews' “societal context” did not justify the butchering of toddlers, or forcing girls to marry their families' murderers.

Rather funny, too, that he pops out with "the majority of Hebrew Bible scholars" -- I don't see much in the way of footnotes anywhere on that site, much less critical analysis of the positions of all of these "Hebrew Bible scholars." He relies mostly on that nutty popularist Friedman, JEDP's version of John Shelby Spong. I wonder if that stint at XXXXXX was actually cut short because he didn't have the sense to know how to compose a research paper properly.

You are quite the stickler for footnotes, but you are unwilling to direct people to the articles you attack on your site. Curious. Seems rather hypocritical somehow. In any case, most people who look at Genesis know there are two creation stories there that were stitched together. It is just obvious, and no amount of apologetic doublespeak can disguise this. It is not even worth arguing about.

Let review some of the main points, shall we?

Best wishes,

Brooks


tenth apologist reasponse


Subj: Re: another reply Date: 8/6/2001 5:56:47 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: jphold@iexalt.net
Reply-to: jphold@iexalt.net
To: BBu84@aol.com

> http://members.aol.com/bbu85/hold.htm

Message received. However, I did not give you leave to edit my last response (the X's). I must insist that you restore it to its original condition, or else I will withdraw permission for you to use my material on your site.

Regards,

JPH


response 10


Subj: personal info
Date: 8/6/2001 11:09:01 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: BBu84
To: jphold@iexalt.net

Mr. Holding,

The information I edited was only the name of the school this other person attended and the city the school is in. This is information that could be used to determine this person's identity, which, for whatever reason, the person did not want people to know. It is obvious the information has been edited. If you will recall, you demanded that I remove personal information that you had, for whatever reason, included in your original e-mails after I had posted the e-mails. I happily removed the personal information that you requested I remove. I am simply doing the same for this other person (though I was not specifically asked to) out of basic courtesy.

Would you want me to publish the following information about you within our discussion, as if it has any bearing on the topics?:

"James Patrick Holding (not his real name) attended the XXXXXX where he obtained his Bachelor in English with a specialty in literature, then earned his Master's at XXXXXX in Library Science. He currently is employed as a Reference librarian at a medium-sized public library in XXXXXX. "

Yes or no? Let me know, because I am going to post this e-mail too.

As someone who guards his identity as you do, surely you can understand my position.

Or is this how you get out of discussions with skeptics-you cynically include personal information in your e-mails about third parties that you know cannot published in good conscience by the web site owner, and then demand that everything be removed once the web master, out of simply courtesy, blanks out personal information about the third party? If so, it is not a very impressive way of running away from a discussion.

If people really want this personal information about this third party who does not want his personal information known, they can always contact you via your e-mail address posted with each and every e-mail, and, with Christian love, you can joyfully reveal the personal information about this third party to all the people who e-mail you, while at the same time retaining your jealously guarded anonymity. In fact, I can make the XXXXX's into a hotlink to your e-mail address, in order for people to obtain this other person's personal information. Would that make you happy?

Cheers,

Brooks


eleventh apologist response


Subj: Re: personal info
Date: 8/7/2001 10:23:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: jphold@iexalt.net
Reply-to: jphold@iexalt.net
To: BBu84@aol.com
File:XXXX.doc (51200 bytes) DL Time (49333 bps): < 1 minute

Brooks,

>>> The information I edited was only the name of the school this other person attended and the city the school is in.

The issue is not the content; the issue is that you removed it without consultation with me.

>>> Would you want me to publish the following information about you within our discussion, as if it has any bearing on the topics?:

Go right ahead. I put that on Zion's Lighthouse myself; do you think it matters, therefore, if you put it on your page? I don't even care if you use my real name anymore -- had you kept up with my updates, you would know that that is no longer an issue for me. (Though I will continue to use JPH nevertheless -- no one knows who the hell XXXXXX is.)

>>> Yes or no? Let me know, because I am going to post this e-mail too.

Go for it. And while at it, post the attached as well at your earliest convenience, please.

>>>> As someone who guards his identity as you do, surely you can understand my position.

Mr. Nous works at XXXXXX in the XXXXXX area, last I checked, not at a prison. If he has paranoid visions of fundamentalist death squads coming out to give him noogies, then maybe he needs psychiatric care before he needs anything else. Be sure and post this point as well. ;-)

>>>> Or is this how you get out of discussions with skeptics

? -- Who's getting out of a discussion? If you refuse to reverse the editing, I want to post our discussion on my site, unedited. Conversely, you could just remove all of your own earlier refs. to Nousie Boy, if you're really interested in being nice to him. After all, you dragged him into this, not me.

Here's a clue: Nousie Boy isn't too bright about keeping his identity quiet. All the info I offered and more is/was public on the Net. Heck, he's posted personal info all over the place of his own volition! Not the brightest match in the set by any means.

>>> you via your e-mail address posted with each and every e-mail, and, with Christian love, you can joyfully reveal the personal information about this third party

They don't need my help for that -- it's not hard to figure it out when someone posts the same bio about themselves in two different places, one of them with their name all over it and lots of personal data. Real bright way to keep yourself anonymous!

Ah, well, some folks just don't get the perils of the Information Age, do they?

Cheers,

JPH/RT


XXXX.doc


Howdy Brooks,

>>>You pride yourself on having the last word. I have no intention of letting you have the last word-so perhaps this discussion will last even longer.

Who expressed pride, old boy? I just remarked upon the remarkable length of time it took you to respond last time. Shows a rather remarkable lack of interest for one who was so eager to be in on a conversation like this in the first place, going to all that trouble and what not. A bit faster this time, though -- photofinishing business a little slow in the recessive economy?

>>>This may shock you, but I don't care where I fit on your priority list.

Then why make mention of it? My goodness, but that polite chocolate shell you started with is starting to crack.

ME: Actually, "tormented" is a more accurate word -- the suffering in question would be primarily spiritual and emotional rather than physical; but, that's another topic.

YOU: Why do you shy away from calling it torture? Are you embarrassed?

Only if the dictionary is, old chap. Mine defines "torture" as the infliction of severe physical pain. The evidence indicates that spiritual and emotional pain is the primary component of eternal suffering, so "tormented" (by the dictionary, a much broader term) fits better what happens. At any rate, how would "tormented" be any less "embarrassing"? Have you conducted a survey of some sort in this regard? Have you gone up to random individuals and said the words "torment" and "torture" and measured their response? How did you do that? By degree of facial redness? Did you find that their faces were redder when you said "torture" rather than torment? Maybe they were embarrassed for you personally?

>>>Jesus is very colorful in his description of Hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, as a place of burning and torment.

Oh, foo -- now you're using that word. Are you embarrassed?

>>> Remember that wonderful story Jesus told of Laz'arus in anguish, begging for water?

Yep. Do you remember that in Judaism thirst is symbolic for the loss of God's presence? Not that that's any better. Personally I think that literal flames would be much more pleasant.

>>>Do you recall Aquinas' musings on the suffering of the damned, and on how much enjoyment Christians would derive from observing it from heaven?

No, haven't read him, but he's rather out of the Judaistic loop. Smart fella, but not altogether in the contextual department.

>>>The torture of the damned is a fundamental Christian doctrine and it has been promoted quite enthusiastically for the last 19 centuries. Modern efforts to spruce up this beloved biblical doctrine and make it more politically correct are asinine.

I haven't seen an actual proof of this point from you, and length of time that a belief is held is not a certification of that belief. Surely you of all people know that to be an "argument from authority."

>>>specifically guilty of? Instead of using exaggerated analogies, tell me exactly why it is that Jews DESERVE to be tortured, or tormented, or punished, or made to suffer for all eternity in some place called Hell.

I did; you have nor provided any answer, just repetitions of emotion.

>>>Yes, you are using too much imagination. I only apply the "pinhead" description to the primitive, superstitious and violent people portrayed in the OT.

And then you will tell me that there was an otherwise unknown party that was advanced, scientific, and peaceful? No, Brooks -- you had that designation on all ancient Jews, and now you're trying to back out of it.

>>> I will reiterate here that the Gospels denigrate the Jews and that Christians have persecuted the Jews virtually since the time the New Testament books were slapped together.

The Gospels "denigrate" the Jews no more than the OT and intertestamental literature written by Jews does -- indeed, they are far less "denigrating." So, then, swami, want to break open another can of worms and humiliate yourself some more? Cite the three most "anti-Jewish passages in the NT for me.

YOU: Could you clarify how people do NOT believe in something that they DO believe in?

ME: One of us is obviously deluding ourselves, or maybe both of us are; but we can't both be right. Get it?

YOU: No, I don't. People may conclude that you are deluding yourself, but your belief in God is quite genuine to you.

In other words, it is subjectivity, and it is a delusion -- fostered by preference and a refusal to acknowledge contrary evidence. So you haven't answered the point, only made an attempt to make it more complex. One of us has a false belief; we both cannot be right. The one of us that is wrong is either misinformed and/or mentally defective. I don't see that either of us could be classified as lacking sufficient information, though maybe you are; the more we do this, the more ignorant it seems you are. But if that is not the case, then one of us is not being honest -- and is deluding ourselves. Don't try to make it politically correct with all this talk about "genuineness" -- that's a political game.

>>>Imagine, for a moment, that I claimed that you know that God does not exist, that you are arguing for something that you know is false, that you are in willful rebellion against the truth. Would that make any sense to you? I don't think it would.

It makes sense to me, perfectly. I have seen that very mental pattern repeated time and time again on all sorts of issues.

>>>Apologetic argumentation is to keep believers from straying from the fold, which is a big problem since Christianity does not conform to the facts of reality.

Well, there's that yellow belly showing again -- bet those brownies taste good with toast points, huh!

>>>Despite all the convoluted verbiage and linguistic gymnastics on your web site, the resurrection stories remain contradictory and highly absurd, so I stand by my statement.

Read: "I have never made any study of ancient literature, so I will just reassert my original argument and say nothing more about it." Ah, the pleasures of being a freethinker and not being bound by study and scholarly discipline! Your old friend at Nous would be ashamed of you.

>>>The hard fact is that the biblical god threatens to torture people for their opinions. Period.

There it is again! Are you getting tired, maybe? A little nap will do you good. That's obvious in this as well:

ME: As for Thomas, what do you mean that Thomas was "there when the event occurred"? What event? If you mean the resurrection, he wasn't "there" for it; no one was. He was not "there" when the Risen Jesus first showed up, if that's what you mean. And he, like every skeptic I have run into, including you, was disbelieving in spite of sufficient evidence. He had nearly a dozen men, if not more, whose company he had known for many years, whom he had come to trust and know as friends, testify of this to him -- isn't that enough to believe? If not, why not?

YOU: These are simply four anonymous, conflicting stories about highly unnatural events that no one else noticed at the time.

OK, more worm cans ahoy, then? Tell me why we can't accept the ascribed authorship of the Gospels. And make sure you develop your argument in terms of other ancient documents (for example, Tacitus' Annals, which is "anonymous" by the same definition, since Cornelius doesn't say anywhere in the Annals who he is).

>>>>They are unsupported. There is not "sufficient evidence" for anyone to believe these stories, there never has been, and no amount of apologetic tap-dancing work will change this.

Wow, Brooks, y'know, I ought to just throw out my entire library of scholarly literature and bow at your feet right now. Where do I join the school you've started that makes all current historical-literary study anachronistic?

>>>>No reasonable person can be expected to believe such absurd stories 2000 years removed from their origin.

So, time is what tells the truth? At what chronological point are such absurd stories to be believed? What's the magic cutoff point? 1000 years? 500? 666?

YOU: Apart from the historicity of the hearsay resurrection stories,...

ME: Please, Brooks -- if you want to play that game, nearly all recorded ancient history (indeed, nearly all recorded history, period) is hearsay. So are you planning on throwing out Livy and Tacitus as well? Come to think of it, temporal provinicialist and sound-bite chucker that you are, you might at that.

YOU: Historians do not accept miracle claims, and especially anonymous miracles claims, as historical. Maybe you were unaware of this. That is why the Gospels are part of a religion, are believed in on faith, and are not taught as history.

I asked you about hearsay; you changed the subject -- obviously because you have no answer because you aren't a student of history. You say "historians do not accept miracle claims" -- a little broad there! -- the historians I know don't reject miracle claims per se; they say that causes of alleged miracles are beyond historical investigation, and thus make no statement on causes where that is concerned. Where have you been taking your history courses?

ME: Why should this be a problem? According to the scenario, you have the free choice to accept salvation right now, and nothing to lose by doing so; and yet you're going to complain that simply because God foresaw your rejection, there's some kind of problem? Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

YOU: Again, this is an absolutely asinine story, by any measure. That is the problem.

An order of Roquefort to go with that whine, Garcon! Again you refuse to answer the issue and merely restate your original argument. You're starting to bore me, and sounding more like my usual Rogues all the time.
ME: In so saying, you've just proven the very point I'm making -- and emasculated your own arguments.

YOU: Come again? Explain it this to me because I am not following you. Thanks.

Try reading it again. I know they don't teach phonics in school these days, but it is a little hard to grasp a self-deception, isn't it?

ME: Really? Do you see any mention of hell in the missionary preaching of Acts? I don't. It didn't form any part of the kerygmatic message.

YOU: Try reading the words of Jesus in the Gospels. Or don't you believe Jesus?

Yes, but I also read them in their context. The words of Jesus on hell were not missionary/kerygmatic preaching to those he was trying to convert -- they were said either to his disciples or to his ideological enemies (who agreed that such a place existed). Can you see a difference in these groups, or is that too advanced a thought for your black and white television set? So now answer the question: Where do you see hell being used as a way to convert people in the NT?

>>>There is a difference between Hades and Hell. If I remember correctly, the Greco-Roman view of Hades was that it was where everyone went at death.
Yes, if they didn't do something about it -- that's what the Gnostic and mystery religions were about. Several (not all) had conceptions of a relief from suffering in the afterlife. So again, who were they trying to scare?
YOU: When I pointed out the problems with using these things as evidence of virginity, you floated the idea that Israelite judges launched extensive background investigations to determine a girl's virginity:

MOI: "Questioning potential witnesses. (Remember the "2 or 3 witnesses" requirement?) Investigating the security of the household and the character of the family. Discerning what the basis of the accusation is, and whether it has any validity. Establishment of reasonable doubt is not a new process."

YOU: That is not what the quote indicates, and I do not see you providing any evidence that the ancient Hebrews launched detailed investigations to determine a girls' virginity.

There you go yet again! You act as though these laws were written in a vacuum and everyone who lived before you was a wooden brain. Well, guess what! In the interim while you've been polishing your toenails, a friend of mine has written a more detailed essay on this very passage -- right here. It's the same thing I've been arguing all along, only in lots more detail -- and all you've offered in reply to me, as usual, is temporal provincialism. Again: It doesn't need to say anything about questioning witnesses, etc. because it is not (read carefully!) intended to be an exhaustive treatment of conditions and terms. It is an ancient law code. The Sumerians said nothing about investigations in the laws either, but it was part of the process, in spite of your wooden, two-dimensional ignorance. So: Take that "period" you put at the end of your arguments and stick it on your forehead! You may not find a three-dimensional explanation grounded in the societal context convincing, but I find your ignorance less convincing. Check this quotes from the article:

The biblical laws in the OT (as with the written law codes of the ANE neighbors) are not all the laws that Israel would have 'lived by' in ancient times. They are only a core set of laws, and there would have been many, many more laws needed, and many, many more details about the laws that we DO NOT have preserved in the OT:

"The biblical law collections, even when considered in toto, fall short of including all of the legal areas operative in ancient Israelite society. There are, first of all, categories which appear in the ANE laws but which are absent or unregulated in the OT law collections. Many of these categories are, however, alluded to in the Bible; thus, it is certain that they were operative in Israelite society. So, for example, robbery (tangentially mentioned in Lev 5:21–26—Eng 6:2–7; 19:13), hire of wet nurses, lease and rental of property, surety (cf. Gen 43:9; Prov 6:1; 20:16), hire of labor (cf. Lev 19:13; Job 7:2), bride-price and dowry (cf. Exod 22:16; 1 Sam 18:25), and sale (e.g., Isa 24:2; 2 Sam 24:24; etc.). In connection with sale, Jer 32:11 mentions the "sealed deed of purchase . . . and the open copy." This custom finds parallels in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DJD 2: 244–46), the Elephantine papyri (Porten 1968: 198–99), and the Mishnah (B. Bat. 10:1). This type of document is ultimately derived from the practice of using an inscribed and sealed clay envelope to contain and protect a cuneiform document; the text written on the inner tablet was duplicated on the outside envelope.

"Some of the other "missing laws" also appear in the Mishnah. While one cannot assert that all regulations of the Mishnah go back to the biblical period, some laws apparently do, at least to the extent that they can be shown to have ANE parallels. For example, the Babylonian laws treat the case of how to dispose of marital gifts and property in a situation where either the bride or groom-to-be has died before the wedding. This case appears in LE 17 and CH 163–64. The case is not discussed in the Bible but does appear in the Mishnah (B. Bat. 9:5). Another such case is "assault" upon the dignity of an individual by slapping his face. This case is considered in LE 42 and CH 202–4, and in the Mishnah (B. Qam. 8:6); this offensive act is also addressed by the NT (Matt 5:39, Luke 6:29).

"One can look again to the Mishnah for "preservation" of laws dealing with rental of houses and lease of fields (B. Mes\. 8:6–9, 10:1–10). These activities are highly visible both in the Laws of Hammurapi (CH 42–47, E–G) and the contemporary cuneiform documents. An arrangement modeled after a field lease may be reflected in Lev 25:15–16. Another such example is the special class of dowry property (Akk muluµgu; Heb meáloµg) and the type of property for which the user is responsible regardless of loss (Akk ul imuµtuµ, "they shall not have died," said typically of livestock and thus described as s\oµn barzel, "iron sheep," in the Mishnah; cf. Yebam. 7:1, B. Mes\. 5:6).

"The paucity of ancient Hebrew records limits real knowledge about the use of writing in Israelite legal practice. Scholars have noted the absence of writing; for example, in the description of Abraham's purchase of the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23) as well as in the redemption of Naomi's family property in Ruth 4:1–12. But documents were written for the redemption of family property by Jeremiah (Jer 32:6–14) and were prescribed for divorce in Deut 24:1–3, Isa 50:1, and Jer 3:8. Some scholars have seen the use of written documents as a late development, perhaps reflecting increased foreign influences and sophistications (cf. further Job 31:35). The biblical law collections, however, are all represented as part of orally delivered addresses or sermons. The renewal or rereading of the law is similarly depicted; the laws are read out to the populace in Deut 31:10–13, 2 Kgs 23:1–3, and Neh 8:1–9:3. So it would seem that in ancient Israel, as for her Near Eastern neighbors, writing was not an indispensable feature of the legal tradition and practice but functioned, rather, as an aid to memory (cf. Deut 31:22–26; Josh 24:26). [ABD, s.v. "Law")

and……….
"Israel was basically an agricultural people form the conquest of Canaan until the Babylonian captivity…, a study of their land laws may be of some interest. First, it is well to notice that no complete system of land laws can be built up from the Pentateuch alone; and yet no other codification of early Israelite laws is known, except for the Mishnah, which seems to preserve additional laws in force at the time of the destruction of Herod's Temple. Obviously, Israel had more land laws than these two works contain; therefore it is only reasonable to assume that in this area (as doubtless in that of commerce and elsewhere) she simply used the common Semite law, supplementing it by specifically Israelite regulations where such were necessitated by Israel's revelation of Yahweh. Only some such practice can account for the otherwise inexplicable 'gaps' in the Torah, here and elsewhere." [ZPEB, s.v. "law"] This essentially means that our few references to virginity and rape recorded in the bible are undoubtedly not the only laws about this in force in ancient Israel, so we had better not assume they were applied uniformly to all cases involving these topics.

And:

Now take the case of the 'virginity dispute':

From the ANE we see that cases could involve character witness, self-testimony—and NOT just the 'bloody sheet' (a practice in most of the ANE):

"When virginity was disputed, the courts called on expert female witnesses to offer testimony. A letter from Mari described the situation of a betrothed girl: 'The 'wife' of Sin-iddinam declared as follows: Before Sin-iddinam took me, I had agreed with [the wish of] father and son. When Sin-iddinam had departed from his house, the son of Asqudum sent me the message, 'I want to take you.' He kissed my lips, he touched my vagina—his penis did not enter my vagina. Thus I said, 'I will not sin against Sin-iddinam.'" In an earlier trial in Nippur, a man denied physical penetration using the same words. Obviously, penetration was the criterion to establish whether a woman—virgin, betrothed, married or slave—was raped or seduced, in order to determine culpability." [OT:DLAM:135f]

Although we don't have any records of court cases going back to OT Israel, the rabbinic writers—often demonstrating significant continuity with ancient practice—certainly didn't apply the 'bloody sheet' test in an unreasoning fashion:

"Several rabbinic sources shed light on the legal aspects of the problem of virginity. In various cases brides are accused of having already lost their virginity but the sages invalidate the accusation. All these cases appear in two collections of baraitot, one in the Palestinian Talmud and the other in the Babylonian Talmud, and the sages who appear in them, with the exception of R. Ishmael b. R. Yose, are all from the house of the nasi. In the first story, in which the protagonist dates from the Second Temple period, a man went before Rabban Gamaliel the Elder and claimed that he failed to find the signs of virginity in his wife, but Rabban Gamaliel believed the wife, who claimed that she came from the Dorkti family, which was a family in which women were known not to bleed when they lose their virginity (bKet. 10b). The same claim was twice brought before Rabbi, who accepted the wife's explanation and rejected the husband's complaint in both cases: in the first, the wife attributed her failure to bleed to years of famine (Ibid.), and in the second the wife maintained that her hymen fell from the rigor of climbing the steps of her father's house (yKet. 1.1, 25a).R. Ishmael b. R. Yose, when he heard the case of the woman 'whose signs of virginity were no larger than a mustard seed,' ruled in her favor and even said a blessing over her…" [WS:JWGRP:98-99]

These quotes come from scholars familiar with the text and the history of the period. None of these scholars thinks that the law code in Israel (or in any ancient society) was the end-all, do-all that was woodenly followed to the letter to the exclusion of anthing else. I.e., it was didactic. So at least answer my question, which you ignored compleely: "Do you see anything about investigations or judges in the Code of Hammurabi, or in the Assyrian codes?" I'm waiting -- and expect to wait longer. And I sure would be less inclined to believe what a photofinisher has to say about this subject than a scholar of ancient law and history.

>>>If the widowed and the unmarried did not threaten society, please tell me exactly what these other people did and how, precisely, it threatened society's survival. I am curious.

Well, gee, Brooks, you don't see even today how licentious behavior threatens society? Are you locked in a barrel somewhere? So you don't think screwing around and having illegitimate children doesn't drain society's resources and cause emotional, physical, and other difficulties? It's bad enough today; now frame it in terms of an ancient society with limited food supply and living one step away from total societal breakdown. I read a nice little book recently called Education in Ancient Israel by Crenshaw -- not the type you'd read, because it doesn't have any pictures you can color. But Crenshaw shows how Ancient Near Eastern societies lived under the constant threat of extinction if immoral behavior was not reigned in. Maybe you should put away that copy of The Poky Little Puppy and try something relevant and educational for a change.

>>>Men and women were not treated equally in ancient times. This was a male dominated, male-ruled society, and women were considered little better than farm animals.

Boy, you sure are off the beam. You need to read some other stuff on that site I linked -- there are links within the article you need to follow, ayup. Let me know when you've refuted it all. (heh heh)

>>> Laws for women would not necessarily be applied to men.
I'm sure not going to take your vague, generalized word over that of numerous scholars of the ANE who deal in specifics. "Not necessarily"? Do you have proof that a specific law was applied unfairly?
YOU: And no, babies cannot be considered evidence of a male's illicit sexual unions. If an unmarried girl got pregnant, it seems clear that she would be stoned to death before giving birth.

MOI: Where do you see that, may I ask? Now who's reading things into the law that aren't specified? Attorney, heal thyself! Show it to me in the societal context, not based on your personal opinion.

YOU: Girls who were lost their virginity outside of marriage were stoned to death. Girls who had sex outside of marriage were stoned to death. A girl who got pregnant outside a marriage would fall into this category, and would also be stoned to death. Or am I missing something?

Yes, you are missing the answer of where it says that babies can't be used as stated. Skip it -- we deal with that next.

>>>"Sounds like a way to make a link to me." Obviously you are just making stuff up as you go along, trying one explanation after another till something sticks. Or are you actually going to tell me that you read this somewhere? Genetics does not work the way you describe. Anyone who has ever had a baby knows that you can rarely link babies to fathers by their appearance.

I won't take your word for it, Mr. Geneticist, especially because you don't think very clearly:

>>> Take a look at the next baby you see and try and determine who the father is. Why do you think there is such a booming business in DNA paternity tests?

Because a) people want to find out paternity BEFORE a birth, which is often when those tests get done; b) because deadbeat dads try and weasel out of the obvious and that's a good way to nail them in court. So how was paternity argued in, say, Victorian England? It is not, as you imply, because appearance doesn't give enough evidence -- it's because our society isn't observant enough (as the ancients were, and had to be, to survive) to use that criteria properly and considers it subjective (but it isn't). Our society thinks technology is a cure-all -- that's why there's such a booming business for DNA tests!

Given a small enough pool of applicants (such as in an ancient village) it would not be hard to make such a determination -- especially coupled with other investigative factors that you don't think any ancient society knew how to do. I guess Hammurabi just went around randomly slapping people in the pokey every time a crime occurred, huh?

>>>Heck, if everyone looked like their father, we would all look like Adam.

Overbroad conclusion -- the genetic pool allows enough selectable factors to draw a conclusion. You're being wooden in your thinking, as usual.

>>>I don't understand what you are asking me. I don't view marriage as lifelong enslavement. If you do, then you have a much different opinion of it then me. Did the ancient Hebrews view marriage this way?

Yes, you really missed the point. Let's expand it with your Bruno story, shall we?

>>>I guess I am slow. Please explain to me how ancient law codes protected women from such a terrible Catch 22 situation.

Read the linked article and others on the site linked -- I would say it no differently.

>>>Let's say that you were raped by a 300 pound psychopath name Bruno. Would you "want" to be his bed-partner and life-long companion because he raped you?

You assume that the forced marriage means automatically a bed-partner and companion. Now Brooks, think in more than two dimensions -- do you think that rapist would settle down into a happy family life? No! He'd be no more than the servant of the family whose daughter he disgraced. He would have to make up for the lost financial support -- that means work in the fields, polishing the doorknobs, no getting out of it! The marriage would be, as it always is, a binding legal covenant; but that's not the equal of bed partnering (yes, you don't understand marriage at all). Bruno the Psycho isn't going to be a happy camper the rest of his life -- he'll be paying his debt off with sweat. Now would you "want" that, maybe, if Bruno had bonged you? I'd find it immensely satisfying, personally.

>>>Thank you for your honesty. That you can make a joke out of the dismemberment of mothers and their children reveals "a great deal about your character."

Yes, it reveals how seriously I take you as an opponent.

>>>Virgin girls are not hard to narrow down to? Really? How do you know-have you ever tried to pick out girls who were virgins? Or boys for that matter?
Hey, guess what! My friend has an article that talks about that too...deal with it! It's all just like I said. He says:

First of all, there was no 'test for virginity' needed/used. In spite of the elaborate/miraculous one created by the later rabbi's (ingenious, but altogether unnecessary) using the Urim and Thummim (!), the 'test for virginity' in the ANE was a simple visual one:

  • Was the female pre-pubescent?
  • Was the female wearing any attire, jewelry, or adornments required for/associated with virginity for that culture?
  • Was the female wearing any attire, jewelry, or adornments required for/associated with non-virginity for that culture (e.g., veil indicating married status)?
Because virginity was generally associated with legal proof for blood-inheritance issues in ancient cultures (e.g., land, property, kinship, relationships), virginity itself was often marked by some type of clothing (e.g., the robe of Tamar in 2 Sam 13) or by cosmetic means (cf. the Hindu 'pre-marriage dot'); as was more typically non-virginal married status (e.g., veils, headwear, jewelry, or certain hairstyles). Of course, non-virginal unmarried status (e.g., temple prostitutes and secular prostitutes) were also indicated by special markings or adornments (e.g. jewelry, dress—cf. Proverbs 7.10; Hos 2.4-5).

For example, the erotic art of the ANE shows a consistent difference in hairstyles between women and sacred prostitutes:

"In fact, the physical characteristics of the women on the [erotic] plaques are totally different from those of other female representations in Mesopotamian and Syrian art. As with the clay figurines, they are frequently naked and their hair is loose—none of these traits is to be found in statues or seals that represent women...These groups [associations of cultic prostitutes] were defined by a generic name [the 'separated ones'], while their specific names of individual associations hinted at their garments, which were particularly luxurious, or odd, their coiffure, or to their general appearance, which distinguished them from other women." [OT:CANE:2526]

Some of these patterns varied by culture/age:

"Once married, women were not veiled in Babylonia. Legal texts imply that married women were veiled in Assyria." [OT:DLAM:135]

"The bride was covered with a veil that the groom removed. Married women were not veiled in Babylonia but seem to have had a special headgear; legal texts, however, suggest that married women were veiled in Assyria." [OT:CANE:489]

In other words, the process of identifying the females who were (a) not married and (b) not prostitutes, either sacred or secular, would have been relatively straightforward—at the precision level required by the event.

Once again, Brooks, you think everyone lived like we do in 21st century America? Better get your head out of that pointed sheet and wake up to cultural diversity!

>>>If so, why? In any case, I am still trying to understand the mercy of forcing girls to marry the men who butchered their friends and family. You see, I do not operate in the rarefied air of your morally perfect theology, so, regrettably, I have some trouble discerning the moral goodness of this practice.

That's obvious, because as I say, you do live in the rarified air of a society with a grocery store on every corner and money to burn. You'll never get it, because you've got temporal tunnel vision and are a societal bigot against all except 21st century Western society.

>>>Again, I consider this is a moot point. They are clearly two separate stories, your tortured article notwithstanding. You should know that you have a link to a site by an apologist named Metacrock who views all of Genesis as mythological and who admits that the Genesis creation account represents two different stories that were combined into one.

Shrug. Meta and I are on good terms; if you want to sic him on my article, go ahead. I don't care if he differs with me, and he doesn't care if I differ with him. We knew of our differences when we agreed to counter-link. We've talked, Brooks, which is what you and that Nousie guy should have done before you went shooting your hypertext off.

>>>of Genesis will surely create dissention and division amongst Christians desperately seeking "edification" on your web site.
Hmm, maybe unlike you, we can tolerate differing views on less-central issues. Coming as this is from the hand of a bigot who has no appreciation for any society outside the 21st century West, I find that likely.

>>>There is nothing complex about Noah's Ark. It is a simple-minded, mythical story, believed in by primitive people who didn't know any better.

In other words, you're not inclined to take up the deal, to wit:

>>>As far as the "deal" to read 150 books, what is the point of this? The point, clearly, is to make an absurd challenge that you know no reasonable person would ever accept

As in, expecting me to go out and read all that science material? Ha ha! Actually what has happened here is that you've realized you've put your foot in your mouth and are now backing up as fast as you can.

>>>absolutely ridiculous, and I think you have some vague, perhaps subconscious understanding of this because you do not make any real effort to address the issue.

Huh? You mean I'm deluding myself? You won't recognize this as something I genuinely believe, like before? Golllll-leee, Sgt. Carter! I didn't think ya'll could be so inconsistent in just one short essay!

>>>ignored. It is too big. It is huge.

It is dull. It is not my interest. It doesn't bother me, because when I see noodniks like Richard Dawkins making logical errors that a 2 year old could spot, I don't see a need to go any further.

>>>Metacrock's web site, as well as the Woodmorappe Ark link. That way there will be a slightly better chance for people to take you seriously.

Which people, please? Do you have a list of people not taking me seriously because of this perceived incongruency?

>>>You spend all of your time belittling this guy rather than dealing with his points, but that is your standard MO, isn't it?

The points are dealt with inside the essays, which he failed to note, were updated since he critiqued them. He could respond to them in current form -- though whoops, guess now that he's vamoosed, we won't be seeing that for a while. And darn it all, I had my noogie squad targeting him! Now he's gone.

>>>The ancient Hebrews' "societal context" did not justify the butchering of toddlers, or forcing girls to marry their families' murderers.

There it is again -- argument by outrage, not answers. And I've already explained why it's not a "forcing" issue.

>>>You are quite the stickler for footnotes, but you are unwilling to direct people to the articles you attack on your site.

Yes, I like doing that, it gives small-minded people something to complain about. :-) Last I checked, though, the search engines were still working.

See you in -- what? February? Better get those photos finished before it's too late.

Later,

JPH


response 11


Subj: Re: personal info
Date: 8/7/2001 2:34:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: BBu84
To: jphold@iexalt.net

In a message dated 8/7/2001 10:23:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time, jphold@iexalt.net writes:

Mr. Nous works at XXXXX in the XXXXX area, last I checked, not at a prison. If he has paranoid visions of fundamentalist death squads coming out to give him noogies, then maybe he needs psychiatric care before he needs anything else. Be sure and post this point as well. ;-)
Mr. Holding,

How de doo!

I am not going to include the Nous guy's company or where he lives when I post your e-mail. Last I heard, this guy wants to remain anonymous and I am going to respect that, even if the big secret is out already. It is called common courtesy. I will not include your personal information, either, even though you give me your permission to use it. I don't feel the need to publicize where you live or what you do or where you went to school since this has no bearing on the discussion. And I want to insure that your grandmother is protected from those angry ex-cons. : )

However, I may now add a link to a certain discussion you had with Farrell Till that includes your name, but which you don't link to for some strange reason.

Cheers,

Brooks



Editor's note: To be entertained by more of Turkel's desperate evasions, blatant misrepresentations, childish insults and absurd rationalizations, go here. You can also see Turkel flailing about in a frenzy on this discussion board, where you can respond to him.



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