Face(book) to Face(book) Conversation - Pt. 2


Tom: Um no [ME], other way around. If either A or B, if not A, then B. That is sound tested philosophy. Thus, argumentally speaking, either side could prove one side right by proving the other side wrong. Besides, what person in the world would ever believe anything that they cannot see the evidence of? Totally ignorant from a pretty intelligent person my freind.

Tom: [ME] let me ask you a question, and I want all sincerity with your answer okay buddy. Last October I buried my son. Okay, I know you feel my pain and that stuff okay. But seriously tell me....where is he? And you had better be right, after all, how evil would it be to tell the parent of a deceased child something wrong.

Your turn:

ME: Tom, for your first comment. No, that is not sound philosophy. If A and B are the only options, then yes, it's great philosophy. But A and B are not the only options when it comes to life/origins/cosmology/morality. There are millions of possibilities for why we are here. Yes, God is one of them, but not the only one. This means it's not a choice between A or B. It's a choice between A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and so on. Proving one wrong does not make the others right, only slightly statistically more probable. And, I think you're making my point with the next question you ask about why anyone would believe anything they have no evidence for. I agree. So where's your evidence? Please share it.

ME: For comment number 2. I am sorry for your loss, Tom. Sincerely. I can't imagine there being a more terrible feeling than burying a child. But as to the question of where he is, I don't know. This question depends on whether you believe there's a soul or not. You likely assume there's an eternal soul and it has to go somewhere after the body dies. But there is no evidence for this. None. If you take the elements which we would use to categorize the soul (i.e. personality, behavior, decisions), you can change these things dramatically by physically altering the brain (strokes, lobotomies, BFTs). Each of the aspects we attribute to the "soul" can be changed with a blunt force trauma to the head. You can alter parts of your brain which will inhibit you from making rational/moral decisions. You can alter your brain so that your behavior becomes erratic and destructive.

Now, of course, we have no evidence either way for what happens to our consciousness when we die. But just because we want to believe that we don't actually die (i.e. fear of death) does not justify us creating an alternative dimension to relieve our fears. This leads people into thinking that life on earth is just a veil of tears, a trial for us to get into heaven or hell. How sad, Tom. Truly. I would rather look at this life similar to how Dan Barker does, that this life is "the afterlife." My first life was as a seed and an egg. I and billions of my brothers and sisters were in a race for our survival. I won. My reward is the chance to experience this life. No matter how short and fleeting it may be, it is infinitely longer than that lived by my fellow spermling brothers and sisters. I fear death the same as all of you, but I don't ritualize my life or make my decisions dependent on what happens after my death. This death fixation is destructive to our emotions and our judgments.

Tom, my mother passed away in 2003. The torment I suffered trying to think of whether she was in heaven, or, "God forbid" in hell, drove me nuts. Once I adopted this worldview, I came to accept that my mother's life had ended, and that was it. She lived a good life. Was a good person. A loving wife. She gave birth to 3 amazing kids, and was a great teacher. And held no hatred towards anyone or anything. Her life ended. That's all I know. That's all I can know. Contemplating what comes next will only make things worse, trust me.

Your son is gone. I'm terribly sorry for your loss. Again, I would never attempt to belittle the emotions or impact that event has for your and your family. But all you can know about your son, is that he's gone. Nothing more.

ME: I just revisited this conversation because something was nagging me after writing my response this morning. I didn't feel at ease with my response, not because I would say anything different, but because I felt like answering this question wasn't the right move to begin with. I've been pondering this all day, Tom, and it just now hit me why it bothered me.

All you did here was present an emotional appeal. If you want to believe your son is in heaven, go ahead. No one's stopping you. But all you've done by asking me this is put me in a position to either lie about what I think to make you feel better, or to be honest and be portrayed as the ugly non-believer who said your son wasn't in heaven. It's lose-lose. I was honest with you because, frankly, there's no other way to be in these conversations. I sympathize with your loss, not because I've been there, but because as a human being I can try to put myself in your place and, to be honest, I would go nuts if I lost a child. But that doesn't change my position on the afterlife. I don't believe there is sufficient evidence to think that we have an eternal soul. So believing that we go somewhere after death, to me, is unrealistic. But again, believe whatever you want.

Let me ask you a question: Before you were born, where were you? Do you remember?

It's easy to ask "tricky" or "emotional" questions to the non-believer in an attempt to look clever to your peers, and/or to justify your beliefs to yourself. But it's much more difficult to ask yourself these tough questions and honestly seek out the answers. I don't know everything, and I don't claim to. I'm not a scientist, but I am scientifically literate. I'm not a religious scholar, but I have studied religion. Before asking these "Questions of the night" like you do on your Facebook status, stop and ask yourself: "Am I asking real questions, or am I asking leading questions with a bias premise built into them?"

The only reason I saw a need to answer you this time around was because I couldn't take it anymore. You have yet to ask a real question about religion on Facebook. You just ask leading questions for other believers to nod their head to and share non-sense testimonies about how dirty and unworthy they are.

Try asking a tough question for once! Something like: "Do you believe genocide is evil? Then why did God command the Israelites to do just that? Your turn:"

Or: "In what year was Jesus born? King Herod died in 4 BC, the census implemented by Quirinius took place in 6 AD. This is a 10 year discrepancy in the Bible regarding something as important as our savior's birth! Your turn:"

Or how about this one: "The Egyptians were some of the best record keepers in antiquity, yet there isn't one shred of evidence suggesting a mass exodus of Hebrew slaves. There is, however, strong evidence to suggest that much of the early Old Testament literature took place near the modern-day border between Israel and Jordan, and that the Hebrews were more likely a group of Canaanites which changed religions and rose up against their neighbors in what started as a blood feud and grew into a religious war. Can you rectify this discrepancy with our understanding of early Judaism? What impact might this have on modern day religion, if any? Your turn:"

Let's try one more: "The word used in Greek to describe Mary, mother of Jesus, could be used both as "virgin" and as "fair maiden." Why did Christian translators go with "virgin" instead of "fair maiden?" Could Roman paganism, which features virgin birth as a common legend among pagan gods, have influenced this decision? Your turn:" [I CORRECT THIS MISTAKE IN A LATER POST - IT'S A HEBREW MISTRANSLATION, NOT A GREEK ONE]

Related to this question above: "If Jesus is supposed to be descended from the line of David, why do they list the genealogy from David to Joseph? Joseph wasn't Jesus' biological father, or was he? Your turn:"

Or, here's a challenge: "Take the Gospel stories of Jesus' resurrection and compare them side-by-side in chronological order as Dan Barker points out in his book (Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, Peter, John). Notice how the number of people involved (the number of people who went to the tomb, number of people in the tomb, number of people Jesus appeared to, etc.) increases with each telling. Could this have to do with the typical evolution of a "legend" story in which the original telling wasn't really as far fetched as the rest made it sound? Could it be that the original telling was made up?Your turn:"

Your turn, Tom.

Tom: First, [ME], I am not asking you if A and B is sound philosophy, it is the most elementary philosophical point taught in EVERY PHILOSOPHY CLASS IN THE WORLD. Saying it is not is either ignorant of basic phil classes. A and B is absoultely the argument, A God or B No God, that's it. Unless you think there is a C SORT OF GOD, which is dumb.

Tom: I don't know is a good answer for where my son is. But it doesn't depend on whether I believe there is a soul or not. There is a soul, therefore he is in one or two locations. Just because a person believes there is no soul doesn't mean they are right. Just as assuredly, if I think I live in Vegas does not make it so if I am wrong.

Tom: "pondering it all day," if you are right, why would you think about it at all? Um...its not an emotional appeal. It's fact. My son passed a way, you offered your first reaction--a non-definitive answer, which is honest. [ME], you just told a dad of a deceased child that his son is now dirt because that is what you believe. Then your conscience, assigned by you according to Romans 1 spoke to you to offer a more solid answer because that is how the conscience works.

I'll answer the other stuff at a diff time, in a hurry now.

Tom: I'm back. [ME], your first answer is "I don't know." That was the honest answer. But then hours of deliberation were spent because you realized that an "I don't know" answer disqualifies you as an atheist. Therefore, you had to correct your answer to justify your faith in atheism. Romans 1 mentions this. Obviously there is a creator. Just as a building has a builder, creation has a Creator. To suggest otherwise is foolishness.

Now, for your answers....

Tom: Before I was born...I was known by God, as the book of Jeremiah states. Um, can't remember, cause I wasn't born. Kind of a stupid question, your better than that.

Question of the night absolutely has bias in them. That's the point. To show the world that a savior can save them from sin. It's called witnessing, something Christians are called to do... Funny though, that you do it to, evidenced by this conversation, no bias in your posts? Doubt it.

"One shred of evidence of Jews exodus," odd again. The Bible is the most historical record keeping in ancient history. And of course, when government controls the record keeping it would be logical for a totalitarian paper to keep that out. Or is that papyrus? Do you have any Egyptian newspapers from the day about the weather? So you are saying there was no weather either?

By the way, so far, none of these matter. None of them are used to disprove Christ's resurrection which is what mattered. To be honest, bored a bit having to answer these, but I will go on.

10 year difference in birth of Jesus. Um, techincally, if you study the gregorian calendar overlayed with the lunar holidays since we now use mostly solar holidays except Easter, you woudl find out the diff could be as much as 34 years. Again, so what? Are you saying there was no Shakespeare because we can't pinpoint the date. Evidence of Herod and Jesus in the same era is proof enough. No dates in the Bible, again, who cares on the dates.

Virgin means virgin. Can you prove she was not a virgin? You have religious studies you say. Again, please stay on proof okay?

They list both geneologies in the Gospel messages, both seeds are described.

Gospel stories of Jesus overlap, and if you studied your history, you would obviously know that Eastern thought and Western thought tell stories differently. USA and western thought, chronological. Eastern thought startes with a main point and then circumnavigates the point, still does that today if you and I were ever to attend school in middle east.

Tom: what is your next question/cliche. How many angels sit on the head of pin? Question about a heavy rock? Swoon theory? Stolen corpse theory? I sense a bunch of dawkins crap in your questions, surely you got better than that.

Tom: Now your questions:

1. Do you consider yourself a good person?

2. If God were to judge you on the Ten Commandments, what would the verdict be?

3. What is blasphemy?

4. What are the odds that 700 years before Jesus was born a prophet would correctly predict the city of Bethlehem?

5. What are the odds that 700 years before Christ died on a cross that a prophet would corectly identify his death on two pieces of wood when there was absolutely no form of capitol punishment like that at the time.

Your turn:


ME: I'm beginning to believe those who wrote me private messages not to bother with this conversation. I was warned that you were too arrogant to even attempt to understand my point of view. I disagreed at the time, Tom, but you're really making a believer out of me (not in the religious sense).

Let's see, you gave 7 responses. Let's go through them 1 by 1:

1) I'm pretty sure if you re-read my previous messages (the ones you're now responding to) you'll see that I did in fact say, if A and B are the ONLY choices then it is great philosophy. But the original point of the A/B metaphor was not "God or no God," it was referring to "Big Bang or God." The point about there being multiple possibilities refers to the potentially thousands of possible starting events for the universe, God being one of them. Disproving one does not prove another, only makes the remainder slightly more probable. You're mis-reading my posts.

However, I can gander at how you came to assume that I'm philosophically ignorant. You probably view the world through a black and white spectrum where EVERYTHING is either God or No God (with "No God" assumed wrong before any evidence is collected). This is called "bad scholarship."

ME: 2) Prove there is a soul.

"Just because a person believes there is no soul doesn't mean he's right."

Likewise, just because a person believes there IS a soul, doesn't mean he's right either.

Where's your evidence? I can prove whether or not I live in Vegas, as can you. Where's your proof for the soul?

ME: 3) Again, YOU ARE MIS-READING MY POSTS. I did NOT say that I was pondering it all day because I would change my mind. I was pondering it all day because I RESENTED THE QUESTION. As the day progressed I became more disturbed that a "righteous" person like you would put me in a position (without justification) designed just to make me look like an asshole. I don't take back my position. I still hold that there is no evidence for there being a soul as described by religions. I'm not claiming there is no soul. I'm simply saying the evidence for one is lacking.

Um... it WAS an emotional appeal because a question was presented in which you were trying to influence me with a gut-wrenching scenario. That scenario was "my son died, I know you feel sorry for me, but it will be evil for you to tell me what I'm already sure you're going to say." Which IS an emotional appeal for me to recant my position in order to avoid the "evil" label, or lie to you out of sympathy. Either way it was lose-lose for me, that's why I pondered it all day. But I wouldn't (AND DIDN'T) change my position. I didn't offer a "more solid position," I simply reaffirmed my exact same position, but with an additional comment that I resented you asking this of me.

ME: 4) An "I don't know" answer does not disqualify me as an athiest (please see my very first comment on this series for a definition of "atheist"). In fact, an "I don't know" answer is what most atheists would say.

Furthermore, how does one have faith in "no faith?" The common saying among non-believers is that "calling atheism a belief is like calling bald a hair color." Tom, do you attend a service for your non-belief in Zeus? How about singing hymns to your non-belief in leprochauns? You are an atheist about every mythical being or god that has ever been believed in by humanity, except one. Does that mean you belong to as many "faiths" as there are things you don't believe in?


You could not be more mis-informed. But then again, that is to be expected. I don't expect you to have ever taken an honest look at anything. Your comments and questions are probably among the most ill-informed, illogical, and pretentiously arrogant I have come across in a very long time. But I'm sure you're proud of that.

It would be funny if it wasn't sad. The saddest part of all, however, is the fate of your children [he has 5 kids]. They'll probably never know that a world exists beyond Christianity. That life is more beautiful outside this narrow religious perspective that you and your wife are no doubt brainwashing them in. You can believe whatever you want. I keep repeating this point, yet none of you would likely be willing to return the favor to me. Believe what you want, but form opinions based on evidence. There is nothing in the Bible which says you have to be a condescending, scientifically-ignorant prick to be a Christian. Yet that's what many Christians are, in my experience. You're verifying that stereotype very well, Tom. I must applaude you.

ME: 5) Stupid question?? How dare you! Who are you?

It's not a stupid question if you took more than 3 seconds to consider it, as I'm sure that's how much time it took you to shrug off my "stupid question." The point of the question is to show you that BEFORE YOU WERE BORN, YOU WERE NOTHING. So why assume that it's impossible to return to nothing after you die?


"to show the world a savior can save them from sin."

- Sin is a religious invention. There is no "sinning against God" without "God." You have to first believe in God to believe you're sinning against him. So essentially, religion is cutting you, in order to sell you a band-aid. But in your black and white world, it's "obvious" there's sin. You've never thought differently, why would you start now?

I'll restate this in case you're lost: If I don't believe in God, I therefore don't believe I can sin against God since I can't sin against what I don't believe exists; why, then, is a savior necessary?

- My posts are biased only insofar as I'm biased with what I know and how I came to know it. I have not stated that there is no God; just as I have not stated that there is no soul. I don't claim to have knowledge I cannot possibly have. But you do. You claim answers to things you cannot possibly know. To things no human can know. But I'm obviously being ignorant. I'm obviously "better than that."

"The Bible is the most historical record keeping in ancient history."

- No it's not. Josephus' works are far better. It's not a history book, Tom. It's not meant to be a history book. The Bible is meant to be a faith and ritual guidebook, not a science or history book. THIS IS WHY I POINT OUT THE LITTLE HISTORICAL INACCURACIES! Again: It's not a history book because its history has been deemed inaccurate by many Bible scholars who STILL accept the messages in Christianity, just not the historicity of it.

The Egyptians kept records of everything. Pharoanic lineages, building records, tax records, even weather conditions, and YES, they kept records of every military defeat and peasant/slave revolt. But no mention of a Hebrew revolt. Interesting. But again, I don't expect you to have ever even glanced at an ancient Egyptian history book, or bothered to learn the disagreements among the scholars in the field of Egyptology. Why would you?

- You're bored answering my questions? You have yet to answer any of them!

- The point of the date controversy is to show you the possibility that the authors were just making it up as they went along. I don't expect people who were alive in 70 CE to have been present at Jesus' birth at an obscure manger in Bethlehem. WHICH MEANS, the story of his birth IS A FABRICATION! (fabrication means "made up").

This is how you deal with questions that contradict your Bible knowledge. You dismiss them without even considering what the person is asking, or what it would mean if the person's assumption was right. You just say "who cares?" and then turn to something which you know there is no proof for one way or the other as "proof" that the Bible is infallible (which their initial question obviously proved false - the Bible is NOT infallible). Your way of thinking about religion is completely uncritical, credulous, and narrow-minded.

"Virgin means virgin. Can you prove she was not a virgin"

- Yes. Easily. SHE WAS PREGNANT!

And furthermore, virgin means virgin in English. But in Greek the word for virgin can mean "virgin" or "fair maiden" as I've already said. Can you say "mistranslation"? I know it has a lot of letters, but give it a go. [AGAIN, I CORRECT THIS IN A LATER POST]

- Please site where in the Bible Mary's lineage is laid out. You may want to check your facts on that one. Oh I forgot, you're probably assuming that I've never read the Bible. Very clever of you, but wrong. Nice try.

And to finish on your last point in this section: I studied in Israel. Is that not in the Middle East? Again, check your facts. Even Western scholarship (good scholarship at least) starts with an idea and circumnavigates it. This is how I learned history, politics, and religion from both American and Middle Eastern universities. Chronological description is high school level scholarship. You can't understand anything about history without understanding the layers of society, economics, politics and culture around an event or idea. The stories of Jesus overlap, true. But the reasons for this are not as clear as you want to believe they are. Again, the word credulous springs to mind.

ME: 6) What's next? You tell me. I didn't have any of that "crap" you listed in mind because it doesn't fit this conversation. A smart person would know that. I don't attest to have knowledge about "what actually happened" to explain Jesus' resurrection. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But a case could probably be made as to the non-existence of Jesus in the first place. So who cares if people (writing 50 years after the fact) claimed to have "seen" him resurrect. People claim to see UFOs all the time (see Carl Sagan comments I quoted in earlier sections).

ME: 7) Answers to your questions:

1) By my understanding of the word "good," yes.

2) Do I care? You admitted to having lustful thoughts about women in one of your earliest comments, what would your verdict be? The Ten Commandments say nothing of eternal judgment, salvation, or heaven. It's just an early rule book.

3) Blasphemy is a religious notion that one can speak ill about an invisible being, but shouldn't because it's "unholy."

4) Well, Tom, someone needs to read his Bible a little more thoroughly. Shall I educate you?

- I assume you're referring to Micah 5:1-6 and Matthew 2:6? There are 3 reasons why these 2 were probably not referring to Jesus.

First, Micah says "Bethlehem Ephrathah" which is not referring to Bethlehem, but rather to the clan which resided in Bethlehem which was descended from the son of Caleb's second wife, Ephrathah (1 Chron. 2:18, 2:50-52, 4:4).

Second, the verse does not call for a messiah, it calls for a military leader who will defeat the Assyrians, which Jesus never did.

Third, Matthew quotes this verse as saying "Bethlehem, in the land of Judea," which Micah does not say. Micah, it should be remembered, says "Bethlehem Ephrathah." Very likely, Matthew did this on purpose to try and "reinterpret" a prophesy to fit his message.

In short, Matthew re-wrote history to fit his preachings.

5) If it can be shown that Matthew re-wrote one section of his teachings to fit his message, is it really all that inconceivable that he would continue to do so, or that others would follow suit? Again, DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME, I am not saying Jesus does not fulfill these prophecies (if they can be called prophecies at all), only that there may be other explanations that you're unwilling to consider for whatever reasons you think you have.

ME: [MY CORRECTION] I have to recant an earlier statement after some further research. I discovered that I mixed up my languages when talking of the virgin birth. It was not a Greek word, but a Hebrew word. The King James Version of the Bible mistranslates the Hebrew word "almah" (עלמה) as "virgin" when this word actually means "fair maiden." The Hebrew word for virgin is "bethulah" (בתולה).

No, being wrong about something does not automatically prove everything I'm saying wrong, as I'm sure you're assuming. It means I'm human just like you, and sometimes I make mistakes. At least I admit them when I make them, and am willing to change my position when corrected (something none of you are even willing to consider on any of these points).

ME: Now more questions for you Tom:

1) Matthew 1:12 lists Jeconiah (aka Jehoiachin) as part of Jesus' direct lineage. Yet in Jeremiah 22:28-30 it says that the line of Jeconiah will not continue. I'll quote it for you: NIV "This is what the Lord says [about Jehoiachin/Jeconiah]: Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah."

So tell me, do prophesies only count when they are in favor of Christianity?

Another false prophesy? Ezekiel 26:14, 21, 27:36, claims that Tyre will be destroyed and never rebuilt. But Tyre was never fully destroyed when it was sacked and continues to exist today - after being rebuilt.

Mark 13:30: Jesus says that he will return and usher in the end of the world within the lifetimes of those listening. We're still here, and he hasn't come back. Those who were there are long gone. What gives? And don't feed me a line of BS about those people being eternal, it was spoken to them as if they would still be alive when he came back. Not "alive in spirit form."

Almost all the Gospels speak as if the end of the world is around the corner. Yet we're still here 2000 years later. Are they wrong?

ME: I'm curious where Jeff, Scott, Nicholas, and Josh are. I hope they're ok...


Views: 44

Comment by Velogiraptor on May 11, 2010 at 8:10pm

I have to say that he almost seems to be intentionally misunderstanding you. I've had this problem while discussion whether a person can be good or have morals without the Bible. He kept intentionally sidestepping the obvious point I was making.

I don't blame you for becoming annoyed here either. He was antagonizing you and with each response he would have to say something to sound as if he was simply above the conversation. Things like "bored" come up as a kind of tangential ad-hominem attack. He then goes on to dismiss Dawkins and his ideas blanketly and outright without justification. He calls it crap, but doesn't even offer a word as to why.

It was good of you to provide examples of other prophecies. I notice that one of them refers to a military leader. Doesn't that actually fit Mohammed better? In that case, isn't the Quran better supported?

He also reveals his hand when he says that the Bible is a historical record. It's what's left over after several meetings of the surviving Christian sects picked over a much larger set of 'testaments'. I say surviving, because it seems to me that the most violent sects killed off anyone else who had a peaceful interpretation of Christ. If not, then the Gnostics would probably still be around today. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) Once the competing philosophies were killed off (litterally) the remaining coalition decided which books would best fit their wishes. The result is the New Testament.

This is not to say that it has no historical value, but it is not itself fact or history. One can learn a lot about the prevailing values of the time by examining the finished work. One can also learn a lot about the Nazis by reading their literature, but that doesn't mean that the Jews are responsible for all of Germany's problems of the time and that there is a master race which must carry out a final solution for the sake of the world.

Perhaps that is an extreme example, but I think it makes the point.

I haven't read your first post on this conversation, but you might point out the difference between an atheist and an antitheist for Tom's future reference.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 10, 2012 at 6:55am

Excellent rebuttals to all the points made. The scenario is a common one for me to be in with fundamentalist Christians. While reading your post - one of the best I have read in recent times. - I am reminded of a 3 hours debate with a Jehovah Witness who frustrated me so much by not “getting” my points that I remember thinking I was going to chew my arm off up to my elbow. It is a shame to see another person being so deluded. God exists because the bible says so and the bible is true because it is the word of god so He must exist so take that for making a life style choice to be an Atheist.

Being armed with a good knowledge of the bible and its historical setting is always useful and can confuse and even silence some theists. I am looking forward to the next instalment. Later today I will be explaining to the above JW why the bible is not a science book and its writers did not know the world was round or how the nitrogen cycle worked.

Note - It is quite likely that the only 2 references to Jesus in the works of Josephus were inserted at a later time than to when originally written. Sorry reference to that is not to hand.

Comment by Doc Feral on March 10, 2012 at 3:01pm

Again, beautifully stated and presented. ... If this was the site (ie, forum) for it I'd post a similar conversation I had with a couple people recently. That one was more political history, (ie, influences of the Founding Father's, etc) but the overall tone was the same, I feel. Especially with the other-side deliberately (I feel) misunderstanding my points. 


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