"To all you
intellectually dishonest
'thinkers'"
Cliff Walker's discussions with a loving Christian

Greetings:

I wish I could give you the dignity of addressing you by name, but you did not sign your letter to me. I will consider publishing it in our magazine, however, as yet another example of the arrogance that atheists such as myself face every day -- simply for refusing to go along with organized falsehood.

You said:

This one requires very little thought.

First, though, you are as much of a hypocrite as the Jesus of the New Testament is portrayed to have been, in that you call me a fool; yea, "more than a fool." Out of one side of his mouth, the Jesus of the New Testament railed upon his followers that to call someone a fool would put them in danger of Hell's fire. Almost immediately afterward, he did precicely what you have done to me: he called people fools, simply for disagreeing with him (or so the Bible says).

No. It doesn't require much effort to live a life that is superior -- morally, and in every other respect -- to that which the Jesus of the New Testament is alleged to have lived and to have advocated for others to live. If I felt I needed to follow after a man, I would probably choose Bruno, Paine, Lincoln, Ingersoll, Gora, or perhaps Gandhi -- never mind that none of these men thought that people should follow other people, but that people should think for themselves. More likely, though, I would follow after my father, who is as fine a man as any of those I mentioned above, though he will not be remembered for very long after he dies.

In the above wager, though, you offered only two choices, or chances, out of numerous possibilities. Why do you not mention all the other gods that vie for my loyalty? What if, for example, we're both wrong and Allah of the Koran is right? Allah of the Koran is just as phony as the others, of course, but ponder, for a moment, if Allah of the Koran was real and was calling the shots on a cosmic scale. If that be the case, then we are both fools. Same goes for each of the other gods whose followers claim that their god is the One True God and that all the other gods are false gods.

Many of these faithful and loving and compassionate people (including you) prescribe for me, the unbeliever, eternity and forever in the sulphurous flames of Hell -- with the spiritual equivalent of an asbestos body, "wher their worm dieth not." So how am I to determine which god, if any, is the real god, so that I can avoid the real Hell -- especially if I am, as they say, dead in my trespasses in sin? In other words, how can I read and understand and believe the claims of the Bible if I, being an unbeliever, do not have the eye of faith with which to discern? And would a just god hold me accountable for being unable to bring myself to believe a teaching that appears, from every respect, to be an ancient myth that was recounted by illiterate goat-herders around a campfire of camel dung?

No. No just god is going to hold me accountable, because the alleged words of all the gods have every sign of being nothing more than the ponderings of those who chose to lord it over their ignorant fellowmen. These scrolls -- alleged to be the commands of One who resembles an Oriental Despot, only bigger, and invisible -- have made slaves of the men who believe them and have made tyrants and deceivers of their brothers who teach them.

Back to your wager: When I poll humanity, asking which god is the true god, I get a few votes for each god. However, when I poll humanity and ask which gods are false, each believer votes for all the gods as being false gods except one: the god they think is the One True And Living God. Each god gets lots of votes for its falseness.

The only difference between you and I is that I think there are three more false gods than you think there are. I include, in my list of false gods, God The Father and God The Son and God The Holy Ghost. You seem to have left these gods off your list of false gods.

I include these three gods on my list of false gods because I have read the Holy Bible from cover to cover twelve times, and have read The New Testament Of Our Lord And Saviour Jesus Christ about two-hundred times -- cover to cover. That book is patently absurd and is responsible for more human bloodshed and misery on this planet than all other things put together.

Even if you're right (and I have no reason whatsoever to think that you are), I refuse to join such an evil organization as what is collectively known as the Christian Church, and I refuse to give credence or credibility to the book which has foisted such misery and backwardness upon my fellow humans throughout history.

P.S., I don't know what you mean by "intellectually dishonest"; one is either being truthful or one is not being truthful, but is mixing lies with their presentation. It matters not whether the liar thinks he is being truthful. Also, people of intelligence do not boast a greater or lesser incidence of truthfulness.

Let's take a look at these claims and see if you are being truthful and if you are being arrogant:

You state:

I cannot comment on claims that purport to describe "everybody" or "nobody" -- especially when those claims allege to describe people's likes and dislikes. First, I don't know "everybody." Secondly, even if I did know "everybody," all I have to go on is appearance and behavior. I cannot go inside anyone's mind and verify their own claims as to their likes and dislikes.

What!? You have been an ex-Christian? Cool!

So, then, you have seen through the fraud and charade of present-day Christianity and have taken a firm stand in denouncing the evil and bloody history of the Christian church, lo these past millennia. I take it, then, that you have also spent thousands of hours studying the Old and New Testaments and have discovered the passages and teachings which justify Christians' acts of murder, deceit, treachery, and wanton disregard for truth, life, and the happiness of mankind.

Tell me: Why, then, did you go back after having seen these things as I have?

How did you find this? Tell me! What criteria did you use to determine whether the above claim (that a man who lived 2000 years ago is still alive) is truth or falsehood?

Or do you use different meanings for the words "real" and "alive" than most people do?

Please explain.

If your claims on this matter are true, and I cannot come to the same conclusion that you have, then I am in real trouble (the moniker "fool" notwithstanding). If there really is a place called "Hell" where unbelievers go after they die, then it is imperative that I be given adequate reason to believe that these claims are truthful. Lying to me and about me will only give me more and more valid reasons to reject your claims.

Part of me wants to retort by saying, "Fortunately for me!"

Another part needs to ask, "How do you know this? How do you know where I've been, when you don't know me well enough to tell me your name?"

You are being arrogant:

If I needed any further convincing that the Christian philosophy and way of life is false, destructive, morally bankrupt, and simply not for me, you would be providing "Exhibit 'A'" through this correspondence.

However, I need no further convincing: I have seen enough; I have seen more than enough.

Most people I've known of who shot themselves in the head, died as a result. It doesn't take very much thought to figure out that I'd better shoot myself in the head. I can discover this fact abstractly, through reason; I do not even need to conduct experiments to see this. Likewise, since most of the Christians I've met are unthinking, intolerant, bigoted, and the like (or they simply live in a fantasy world that is entirely foreign to what I and most people have observed with our senses), then I'd better find a set of values and skills that is superior to those taught and practiced by Christians.

Still no name, eh?

You wrote:

Quit flattering yourself. You can't make me mad; only I can make me mad. You can try to "push my buttons," so to speak, but the joke is on you: those "buttons" aren't connected to anything.

Meanwhile, I edit an atheist magazine and you've provided me with some grand opportunities to cover a situation that our readers encounter every day at the hands of "loving and well-meaning" Christians.

Also, how else would you expect someone to react to such arrogance as you have displayed in your three letters to me? Should I simply laugh it off? Perhaps I should. But in this context it is my responsibility as a spokesman and an editor to engage in such discussions for the benefit of our readers: the members of the single most despised, misunderstood, and misrepresented minority in America: atheists.

I have stopped wondering about Christians. I now vigorously oppose Christianity and the Bible as parasites that have ruined countless lives.

What I do wonder about is why would you continue to support this institution in light of the above comment.

You presuppose that "God" exists, and you presuppose that it is God's Word. I have no reason to think you are accurate in making these presuppositions.

While it may someday be possible to establish that Jesus, the man, existed, what can never be established is the meaning you attach to his death. This meaning is pure speculation on your part. Such meaning is not testable and will forever remain in the realm of speculation.

You misquote me, here. I never said any such thing, because I never thought such a thing. This is a patently inaccurate attempt at describing my motives. (Whaddaya expect, Cliff? Take a look at the source!) This is one more example of why I would go out of my way to avoid Bible-believing Christians were it not for my position as a spokesman for atheism and separationism. Discussing issues with a person who prefers simply to believe, rather than to investigate and think, is very frustrating; since faith-based people so often miss the point and get things wrong with their presuppositions, most of the energy from my part of the dialogue goes toward setting the record straight, etc.

I would believe in a heartbeat if I had any valid reason to do so. Being a despised minority and the victim of fierce discrimination is no fun. I would believe except for one thing: I refuse to be a hypocrite. I refuse to say something is true when all my observations lead me to believe it is a falsehood. (My loyalty to truth, at one point, cost me a marriage. I would have loved, and would still love, to be with this gal. But it is against the very core of my nature and of my values to lie about such matters and to pretend about what isn't so.)

Since no proof has come from the "Jehovah" or the "Jesus" or the "Holy Spirit" of the Bible, it would be sheer arrogance on my part -- arrogance against truth -- to believe that any of these three gods do, in fact, exist. The descriptions of these gods, presented by men, contradict almost everything we have found to be verifiable. Also, the descriptions of these gods always point to "man's inability to comprehend the mysteries of God"; therefore, to believe in these gods is to be an agnostic -- because we can never know what we are talking about.

But the followers of these fictitious characters want me to jump to a highly unlikely conclusion about an admittedly unfathomable subject based on no evidence. (And I'm supposedly going to burn forever in Hell for seeking truth!?)

These followers cannot even agree as to the correct pronunciation of Jehovah's name, for god sakes! That was the first thing Moses wanted to know of his hallucination -- and Moses is greatly respected throughout history (although I have no reason for thinking he ever existed either). If it is true, as some claim, that you can supply your own vowels, then YHWH could conceivably become, "YooHoo-WahHoo."

Were you there? or are you simply repeating hearsay and calling it testimony? Even the man-made courts know better than to allow that kind of testimony in to a trial. Certainly a supernatural god would do better in making His case (if such a being existed).

But, then, I've stopped wondering about Christians.

Tell you what: Have Him come over to my place (He ought to know my address; I won't post it here). Then, we'll go over to your place (again, He knows where you live; I don't have to ask; in the interim, I'll even ask him to tell me your name). Then the three of us (or the five of us, as He is described by men as being a trinity -- whatever that means) will discuss hunger, injustice, despotism, women's sufferage, race problems, anti-atheist bogotry, drug addiction and disease. We will ask Him what we should do about these problems. I will challenge Him to retract his statement, "The poor shall always be with you"; I think that has been one of the more unfortunate sayings ever recorded by the scribes of an alleged wise man.

Although, as we have seen and will see again, it is certainly not a wise choice.

If anyone knows how well I know the Bible, it is I.

It is not my Bible; however, I know it well enough to understand that it is not to be trusted in any respect or to be taken at face value. I know the Bible much better than most Christians and even many preachers. I have studied it from several different perspectives, so don't try to say that I simply belonged to the wrong denomination.

First, you are conversing with an ex-Christian. I am an ex-Christian. (And you criticize me for denying the existence of a god -- something that you are not!? Yet you deny me! You deny that I exist!)

Secondly, gotcha! Some passages in the Bible teach this, but other passages in the Bible teach just the opposite. This is what's so fun about discussing the Bible with a fundamentalist Christian: Whatever they tell me that the Bible says this or that, I can probably find a contradictory passage. The Bible is clumsy and unreliable and can be made to teach almost anything; it was written and edited long before the concept of systematic theology was known to man. Joseph Smith, however, had no excuse for his clumsiness.

A case in point is the fictional character known as Judas Iscariot: Jesus, in Jn. 6. 70, is alleged to have said, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?"

Another case is in the book of Hebrews, Chapter 6, which uses very strong language:

There's that fire, again. Hell is the most despicable idea ever invented by man.

Notwithstanding, the Bible, being replete with contradictions of itself (not to mention discrepancies from testable reality), can be used to teach either side of a number of arguments, simply by reading those passages which back one side and by ignoring or "explaining" those passages which contradict that side.

I beg your pardon! Show me my arrogance! I have continued to uphold the pursuit of truth throughout this conversation, and have gone out of my way to denounce falsehood. Where, then, is the arrogance on my part?

Clever excuse.

You still haven't changed your behavior today, in broad daylight. You're still acting as arrogant and abusive as you have from the get-go. I maintain that this behavior is influenced by having a faith-based outlook rather than a reason-based outlook. Observe your next sentence:

Smug?

Matt. 7. 16: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

The Lord!?

You don't seem to get it: I still have yet to make any claims against any "Lord" because I have no reason to believe that any such critter as "the Lord" exists -- except in the imaginations of certain men who often are devoid of reasoning skills and who often lack a respect for truthfulness.

Men said that, and you implied it.

You still have yet to make even one move toward arguing your claim that such an animal as "the Lord" even exists.

So, men said that, and you implied it. And the Jesus of the Gospels is alleged to have said it. Does that make the idea just? No. The idea is not just at all.

Again, you lie about my motives -- not knowing what my motives are and making pronouncements about my motives based on -- whatever.

Once more: I have yet to hear a persuasive argument for the existence of any supernatural "Lord"; how, then, can you jump to the conclusion that I don't want him when I have yet to verify that he even exists? (You'll admit, won't you, that this whole Gospel yarn is a stretch for any imagination?)

How can you think you are being truthful in your dealings with me? If you would lie about something that I can verify, my own motives, why should I take your simple word for it on a claim which I cannot even test, namely, your claim that such a place as Hell awaits people like me?

Is this more of that "guilt by association" we keep hearing? the line of reasoning that atheists, by being atheists, are de facto undesirables?

"The Lord is..." what? Fiction? A sick joke? I agree! (Heh, heh, heh!) I have been given no reason to think otherwise. In the entire course of this conversation, you have provided not one point in favor of your case; you have merely made claims and presuppositions and have expected me to accept them at face value. You also have, from the very start of this dialogue, threatened me with an eternity in Hell if I abandon my quest for truth and simply go along with you on faith.

This is not going to happen.

By the way, your Bible says, in 1Pet. 3. 15: "...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience." I actually enjoy discussions with the Christians who follow this advice, who give me the reasons for their case. These matches are most rewarding: then I can actually do some thinking and get a workout for my brain. You, on the other hand, have simply made statements -- claims -- and you have pretended that your claims are so obvious as to warrant blind acceptance on my part. In this pretense, you err.

The Bible disagrees with you, saying that the fires of Hell were created by God for the Devil and his angels. It was apparently an afterthought on God's part when He decided also to throw thinking, truthful, and peaceful men, women, and children into those everlasting fires.

What a pathetic weenie, this "God" must be! I am truly glad your story is not true. If it were, we would all be in big trouble: only those who would go along with such a despotic regime would survive. Only those people who lied -- calling this parasite-god "Just" and "Righteous" and "Holy" -- would make it: the rest of us, those who withstood falsehood and injustice in the face of the auto-da- and who stood up for truth and justice in the face of red-hot objects inserted into sensitive bodily orfices, would be cast into the Lake of Fire, created by Jesus and his ministers for people like Gandhi and myself and my little brother who, at the age of 6, died of a chronic and acute brain disorder without ever having understood a word that was said to him. (He still could cry, though, so he knew what pain is.) Ditto for the rest of us who simply minded our own business.

Jeez!

"Waah! I want people to love me! It's no fair! (sniff!) And if I don't have my way, I'm gonna zap everybody! Bawwl!"

Loving a fictional character would be no harder than taking a ride on Santa's Sleigh.

Respecting someone who thinks and acts like the "Him" you describe would be no harder than respecting, say, Idi Amin or Josef Stalin or Pope Innocent III or Cæsar Nero or Adolph Hitler or John Wayne Gacy.

You said:

The job description includes: editing, layout, production, writing, and a number of synonyms for the words writing and typing.

The word verbose is very specific, and your use of it implies that I use way too many words. It is a value judgement. Should I take your use of this word as yet another slap? another sign of arrogance on your part? Or does something tell me that, this time, I should give you the benefit of the doubt? We'll see.

A faith-based outlook can be reduced to a slogan on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker; a reason-based outlook often requires at least a page or a stapled pamphlet, if not volumes, to undo the misconceptions and misrepresentations and misunderstandings we encounter when we discuss truth with people who make their observations through the eye of faith rather than through observation, reason, induction, deduction, etc.

I was trying to point out that you are making assumptions not only about the untestable realm of the supernatural, but also about me as well. I then proceeded to point out that your assumptions about me are incorrect. Then I asked why I should simply believe the assumptions you make about things unknowable, things such as the meaning you attach to Jesus' alleged death on a Roman cross, when the assumptions you make about knowable things -- me -- are so far off the mark.

Let me get this straignt: (1) I exist; (2) Mom said The Stork brought me; (3) I have no proof that the stork does not exist; therefore (from 1, 2, & 3), The Stork exists.

I get it!

Such claims need to be substantiated by the one making the claim, because we can test whether storks can fly while carrying babies weighing as much as eight pounds. Since Mom's claim contradicts what we know about storks, I need to be very skeptical about Mom's claim.

Now: you prove to me that The Stork does not exist.

I cannot prove the non-existence of anything. I can, however, document errors, discrepancies, and contradictions in the books called "The Holy Bible" and "The Glorious Koran" and can therefore eliminate the claims of those books from the realm of serious consideration. Should someone persist in trying to convince me that the untestable claims made by those books are true, I have every right to demand evidence and explanation before I begin to consider those claims as valid. And I have every right to end the dialogue until something resembling evidence and explanation comes forth from the one making the claim.

Do you see what you're doing?

Can you see that your argument is intellectually dishonest? being based on faith, rather than on reason?

Once something can be explained in terms of reason, there is no more need to think in terms of faith.

Being able to predict that the chair I'm sitting in will not fail is not an act of faith. I am familiar with the properties of matter, including metals and plastics, and can safely predict -- without any faith whatsoever -- that the chair will hold me up.

The building inspector just recently pronounced my stairs fit as a fiddle, but I didn't need him to tell me that: I can just look at them myself. I am familiar with the properties of steel and stone. The licencing bureau, however, wisely refuses to take my word on matters such as the safety of my home office, so they make me hire a certified inspector to offer her independent, professional opinion on those matters. None of this involves faith in any sense.

The light switch near my desk doesn't work, but it won't take an act of faith to find out why: I just need to get off my lazy butt and troubleshoot it and fix it. I don't even need to be able to understand electricity in order to find and fix the problem, I simply need to be familiar with the characteristics of electricity and how they act upon voltmeters, etc. And I won't even need to put much conscious thought behind it beause I've been working with electrical devices and circuits for so many years that I can practically do it in my sleep. None of this is faith, even though I still am not satisfied I know which direction the energy "flows."

I can and have taught people how to quit an addiction in my sleep: my addiction recovery hotline is open 24 hours a day. This is called rote, and has nothing to do with faith -- on my part or on theris.

This is not faith, either. Faith is something entirely different, involving me accepting something, such as "God" or the supernatural, without the benefit of reason or evidence (or the ability to fathom unfathomable mysteries about the nature and deeds of omni-beings). Had I the benefit of reason and evidence regarding gods, there would be no more need for faith.

There is plenty of evidence that I am no different from any other living human in that respect. I have seen x-rays and other images of my own brain, and have watched electoencephalograph tests of my brain. I was placed in a carotid choke-hold by a Portland Police officer for jay-walking in the wrong section of town. Within fifteen seconds, the absense of fresh blood to my brain caused me to pass out. In fact, for someone to make the claim that I am different from my fellows in this respect would rightly pique my doubt.

I don't even need this much evidence to know that I have a brain and that "I" am established by the processes in that brain and that if those processes stop working, "I" cease to exist. Just where and how does the "soul" interact with the brain? Such an answer must come from faith, because we cannot determine with our senses or our instruments anything that remotely resembles a "soul." So, any claim in favor of the existence of a human "soul" is based in faith; the lack of belief in the existence of a "soul," in the absense of any detection of its existence, is a normal, healthy response. Therefore, I do not believe that any such thing as a human "soul" exists.

More faith-based presuppositions: filling in the blanks where information was deliberately ommitted by me, and then commenting on those presumptions.

My only reasons for wanting to believe are pragmatic: how much easier would life be were I not an outcast for my lack of faith. However, I have absolutely no philosophical reason for believing at all. At all.

This gal won't marry me (she said) because she found fault with my refusal to believe in UFOs, Crop Circles, and a strange "Jesus" who only remotely resembles the one I read about in the Bible. Had I pretended to go along with this crap, she would likely have become my wife. I dislike her religious talk about as much as she dislikes my smoking. The difference is that I refuse to smoke in her presence. I didn't like it, but I certainly could handle it. In any event, I would have given her my all -- but to sacrifice truth is not mine to give. Meanwhile, there are others. But I'm not going to lie in order to gain companionship; this is not a fair trade and I would likely mistrust her if I had lied to her. As lonely as life gets, and no matter who else is there with me, I still have to live with myself. Awareness becomes a very miserable condition when I have called something true which I have no business affirming as true.

My senses are only one method at arriving at truth, but if a claim is made that contradicts what I have observed, I need to doubt its validity and to seek a more realistic and less contradictory explanation. It is easier for me to believe that two men would lie than it is for me to believe that a witch could fly up through a chimney on a broom. David Hume wrote: "No testimony shoudl be sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish."

Love involves trust, attraction, and devotion, among other things. Much of this can be explained (to my satisfaction) through the sciences of biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics. I don't need to resort to the mysterious and the supernatural to explain love. It doesn't need to be unexplainable in order to be cool. I don't need anything but to experience it with someone.

(Sometimes love can be maintained through falsehood, but I do not want love or friendship or companionship or even work on those terms.)

Because belief and knowledge are two different, mutually exclusive things. I, too, count faith as being an inferior and detrimental and inaccurate method of gaining truth.

Have you read his book, The Demon-Haunted World?

This is a wrong (and very faith-based) assessment of how I approach truth. In it, you assume that because I need evidence, I need photographs -- as if photographs cannot be doctored. I saw that photo of Satan coming up out of the ground on the cover of the Weekly World News; need I say more? (Or shouldn't I simply dismiss that photo as the hoax it obviously is? Do you think I should look at that photo through the eye of faith?)

I have not studied the story of William the Conqueror; I don't even know which country he is alleged to have represented. Therefore, I cannot make the claim that he existed. I have, however, tried very hard -- as a Christian, no less -- to prove that Jesus existed, and I cannot do this and remain honest. I think a man named Jesus -- the man who later became the subject of the various "Jesus myths" -- may have existed; that he probably was a Pharisee; that he probably opposed the quisling Saducees -- not the nationalist Pharisees; that he probably was married to Mary Magdelene; that he probably thought he was heir to the Judaean Throne; that he probably thought his god would conquer the imperialist Romans in a supernatural feat on the Mount of Olives, as "predicted" in the book of Zecharaiah. If so, he was mistaken about this, and probably hollered out "Why hast thou forsaken me?" after the unexpected twist of being nailed to a Roman cross -- the end of thousands of rebellious Pharisees and Zealots in those days. But I cannot find any independent evidence that such a man as Jesus did exist and I certainly cannot prove that such a man did not exist. You cannot prove a negative.

I can say that I doubt the man Jesus ever existed, and that the Christianity doesn't require a real-live, historical "Jesus" to explain its origins and its existence. I can rest on the fact that the only remotely contemporary writings which mention his name ended up in the New Testament, and that those writings contain historical discrepancies, scientific discrepancies, internal discrepancies, evidence of editing and tampering, and tales of miraculous interventions and conjurings and superstitions common to mythical literature and propaganda.

Rom. 10. 17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

So then, if I have not faith to begin with, how can I get faith but by hearing the Bible? If I am not qualified to read the Bible, because I lack the eye of faith, then why am I (allegedly) being held accountable for not understanding it (the way you do)? Problems like this drive me further into my conviction that the Bible and its devotees are not to be trusted on any matter.

Any time I disagree with a Christian -- er, point out a Biblical problem -- the Christian can resort to the claim that I, not having faith, am not really qualified to read the Bible. Why, then, whenever I rent a hotel room, is there a Bible in the dresser drawer? Why do so many Christians want me to read the Bible if I am unqualified to read it?

You meant to say, "there are three gods," didn't you?

The Bible clearly teaches gods -- plural -- in the beginning passages of Genesis, in the Ten Commandments, and in the New Testament. Gen. 3. 22 says: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us." Ex. 20 says: "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me" -- not challenging the existence of those other gods, just their supremacy. First Jn. 5. 7 says: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The Bible speaks through both sides of its mouth concerning precisely how many gods we are commanded to believe in, and to believe exist (but not necessarily believe in) -- lest we be cast into The Sea of Tapioca Pud--  er, The Lake of Fire, "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Jesus in Mk. 9. 44, 46, 48).

Every time I discuss it, I find more and more reasons to disregard the Bible and its followers as unreliable sources information regarding untestable claims about admittedly unlikely occurrences. And since the Bible is wrong about testable things, why should we trust its testimony on untestable things, such as the existence of Hell? You will admit that it would be in our best interest to verify claims made about Hell before we die, don't you think?

Not so. More faith-based presupposition on your part regarding how I approach truth.

My approach to truth is just that: an approach.

Nothing more.

I never made any claim to having "latched on to The Truth," because I do not think in terms of "The Truth"; rather, I seek truth and expose error, just as I seek water (not "The Water" but any potable water) and avoid poison. And I suspend judgement when need be. Science approaches various claims of truth in similar ways. Science can make some amazing predicions; why should I go further and accept the realm of faith as a valid tool for truthseeking?

Meanwhile, there is no god in my life: truth is not god, nor is anything else. I don't think in terms of gods, metaphorically, poetically, literally, or otherwise.

Only if that jury came from Los Angeles or was in the court of a Christian Nation, where painful and degrading physical death awaits those who disagree with the State Religion.

Besides, if the Bible is true, then the Flat-Earthers are right: they base their outlook on the Bible's claim that the earth is flat. Check your Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, because the post-Copernican versions suppress this stuff by retranslating and re-interpreting the flat-earth passages -- based on the presupposition that the Bible cannot err on such matters.

Wait. You show me one Bible verse that literally and unmistakeably claims that "a person can have the living Lord come into their lives" in the first place. No metaphors and no spiritualizing, please; only direct, inmistakably clear, non-poetic wording to this effect.

You can't do this and you know it.

This teaching is an interpretation on your part -- a popular interpretation, to be sure, but an interpretation nontheless -- an interpretation of passages that are clearly and obviously allegorical, passages such as Rv. 3. 20 and Jn. 3., which use clearly metaphorical language such as knocking on a door and drinking water.

If you can explain, by clear, literal text from the Bible, what you mean by the claim "a person can have the living Lord come into their lives," then we can discuss what Heb. 6. and several other passages are talking about when they indicate, on the surface and in clear language, that people can and do lose faith (according to the Bible's definitions of faith -- not according to my definition of faith or to your definition of faith).

(Reminds me of the San Francisco judge presiding over the Lenny Bruce obscenity trial: "You'd better bring your toothbrush!")

Do we need to understand these languages in order to understand?

If so, then whay are there so many copies of the Bible published in English and other modern, common languages? What is the usefulness of these translations if we need to have the Greek in order to talk?

Also, how do we know which version is closest to the original, if we don't have an original with which to compare it? How do we know we are any closer by reading the Greek or the Latin if we cannot compare it with the original?

Why can't the ever-popular King James version suffice? After all, I stole mine from a motel room, fair and square. Isn't that humility enough for you?

And why would a god bother to reveal His message to illiterate goat-herders -- to keep it simple, I am told -- and then require highly educated scholars to find out for us what He was really saying?

Again, I have yet to be told a reason for believing in Jesus which passes even simple tests of truthfulness.

I do not create the impass, truth does.

I cannot believe in Jesus any more than I can believe in the Easter Bunny or in Mr. Simpson's innocence of the murders of Nicole Brown and her friend, Ron Goldman. The evidence simply points the other way in each of the above-mentioned matters. No amount of emotional jumping up and down on anybody's part can override the lack of substance in these and many other claims that I hear every day.

Remember, it's not only the Christian gods that I lack a belief in, I also take flack like yours from the Muslims, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witlesses, the Zoroastrians, the Catholics, the liberal Christians, the Jesuits, the MCC Gays and Lesbians, the Gandhians, the Wiccans, the Twelve Steppers, the Discordians, the Universal Lifers, the Heaven's Gaters, the Branch Davidians, and the Brahmin Hindus (now there's a tough bunch to tangle with, having actually put some thought behind their arguments).

How could something bite me and be a blessing at the same time?

Besides, you don't know my present life; you merely make faith-based assumptions about it.

Who said I think I am having an abundant life? I sure didn't! I expressed no opinion one way or the other; I remained silent; I left the matter open to speculation. Anyone who says I did say that is basing their guess on faith, rather than on observation, because nobody ever heard me say that (because I didn't say it!).

And what is your definition of "abundant life"? If, by "abundant life," you mean having a relationship with the fictional Jesus, then how am I to know if it is abundant other than by using the line of reasoning which says: Life with Jesus is, by definition, an abundant life?

If you say so. I guess....

Based on the fact that you told me about it (I wasn't there, remember) makes your claim hearsay. It is not hearsay to you, but it is hearsay to me because no such thing happened to me. For me to go into court and try to make a case based on what you just wrote is called hearsay. That is the definition of hearsay: I heard (or read) your statement, but I cannot be considered a witness.

For me to beleive your claim is one thing; to believe your interpretation of the experience is another. I can doubt your interpretation without challenging your motives or your credibility.

Again, it is easier for me to believe that two men would lie than it is for me to believe that a witch would fly up through a chimney on her broom. And it is easier for me to beleive that your interpretation of what happened (that God did it) was generated by your imagination or your wishful thinking than it is for me to believe that you spoke to the One True And Living God -- which would mean that the the god which Mohammad claimed to have spoken to was either a false god, a hallucination, a fraud on Mohammad's part, etc. How am I to differentiate between your claim and that of Mohammad? I wasn't there. I can only go on hearsay.

Also, for me to think that a just god would reveal Himself to you but not to me, and then condemn me to Eternal Hell Fire for not believing in Him, flies in the face of every concept of justice I've ever encountered (not simply those I agree with).

Also, if you've seen it, it is no longer a matter of faith.

Meanwhile, I saw a man standing on my private porch last night -- clear as day. And he was huge, too; about six-foot-five, weighing over three-hundred pounds, and wearing a dark baseball cap and a dark mask. To quote the Heavy-Metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, "I saw it / I saw it / With my own two eyes." The adrenaline had made its way to my nervous system before my mind ever turned to thoughts of weapons and of protecting myself.

Good thing, too: what I saw was the reflection of my coat-tree in the glass. A light which I normally do not use (except during certain rituals of courtship) had inadvertantly been switched on by mistake. This is a satisfactory explanation as to why I saw a reflection when I normally see nothing from that vantage point. I do not need to resort to the realm of "angels" or "demons" or "clever burglars" or "God" or other similar things to explain why what I saw with my own two eyes "disappeared" on closer examination.

Yes, you do.

You called me "more than a fool" which is the translation, in the Bible, of the word raca.

Jesus (allegedly) turned around and called the Jews "fools" -- raca. Did he then offend the Lord? No. The Lord doesn't exist.

C.S. Lewis was a fool and his books of fiction are useless -- raca -- just like the Bible is useless for gaining knowledge about matters -- earthly or otherwise.

Graphic Rule

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