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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great New Book Out!

God is Great, God is Good is finally available on Amazon.com! This is definitely one to check out! Find it at:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830837264/ref=pe_5050_13598020_snp_dp

Some other notable titles are:

The End of Christianity by Dembski (A deceiving title)
Signature in the Cell by Meyer
The Devil's Delusion by Berlinski
Contending with Christianities Critics by Copan
Atheist Delusions by Hart
The Edge of Evolution by Behe
Billions of Missing Links by Simmons

Response: RustyLime's Interview with 'God Hates You. Hate Him Back' author CJ Werleman (Part 2)

This is part two of my response to the interview with Courtenay Werleman on Rustylime.com. You can find the original interview here: http://www.rustylime.com/show_article.php?id=3813

1. The first questions ignores the fact that Courtenay’s entire book is based on his naturalistic presuppositions which he uncritically applies to the Bible. Nothing of what he believes changed because nothing in his worldview was confronted. As pointed out in my response to the first part of this interview, Courtenay did not research and dissenting opinions for this book and thus nothing in his worldview was ever confronted. He isolated his worldview, making it unfalsifiable, and thus found precisely the conclusion that he wanted to find. It was like the fundamentalist who looks for God everywhere and thus finds affirmation for God in everything. (Much like the aesthetic argument for God that is only one premise: The music of Mozart exists: Thus God exists.) Courtenay always assumes his conclusion and so he will always find what he wants to find, whether it’s a valid interpretation of the data or not.

2. What is strange about his 1st claim is the jump from 9/11 to the Bible. Forgive me for asking, but I believe that it was Islamic Fundamentalists who were attempting to kill Western, Christian Infidels… The leap from 9/11 to investigating the Bible is invalid and shows that Courtenay was LOOKING for an occasion to attack the Bible and contrived one.

3. He then claims that he gained an “end-to-end understanding of the Bible” which, if you actually read his writings and the many dialogues that I have personally had with him, it is crystal clear that Courtenay has absolutely no understanding of the Bible. This can only be expected when someone completely ignores historical/textual/literary/theological context, original languages, and Biblical scholars. Courtenay is a prime example of the outcome of subjective and pervasive eisegesis rather than careful and studies exegesis.

4. The irony of this is that Courtenay clearly does not understand even basic Biblical interpretation but then presumes to build arguments regarding what Jesus “would have said.” That would be like me trying to say what Mohammed would do just because I have given a quick cursory reading to the Koran. I know that my reading of the Koran was simplistic and really just in an attempt to get the basic story line, not an in depth understanding to where I could give critical analysis of the debatable issues.

5. Notice that his response is also a priori presuppositions and not a posteriori conclusions. He assumes that miraculous events cant happen. While he doesn’t specifically use the argument here, he has in several of our conversations, that the Bible is false because miracles occur in it, and that miracles cannot occur. The problem is that “miracles cannot occur” is actually a faith based premise. He assumes it to be true and thus he begs the questions by assuming the conclusion in his premises. He wants humanity to “grow up” but bases it on an invalid argument.

6. He then strangely argues something like a modern day preacher. “Believe and you will be liberated!” It’s like holding out the carrot of experience in order to gain a convert. Strange for a son of the enlightenment to argue this way. In fact, he explicitly betrays the illogical nature of his premise when he posits the “leap of reason” in experiential terms (i.e. “liberation” and moral freedom apart from any culpability, which strangely sounds more like the warning of Dostoevsky, “without God, all things are permissible” and of Judges, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” than like Walden’s Pond.) It seems that he is actually taken evangelistic methods from the Prosperity Preachers! Promise them health, wealth, and happiness and it doesn’t matter how illogical your argumentation is. His personal liberation smacks of post-modern existentialism, which is, if true, ironically the death knell for absolute laws of logic.

7. He also slips in an unsubstantiated version of “human flourishing” that is entirely at odds with his own worldview. In a naturalistic, neo-darwinian worldview, why should I “give love, receive love, taste and touch everything that the earth has to offer”? What is the possible basis for that statement if my sole purpose is gene preservation? If I am going to die soon and ashes to ashes, dust to dust, with no consequences for my actions, what possible basis is there for maintaining that view of human flourishing, besides “you just should because community says so”?

8. He then again attempts to base morality on the organization of societies. This is a path he and I have trod before. Maybe he thinks he will fair better this time. Let me simply paste the section from my response in the previous interview’s comment section: “If morality is a social contract, who in the society picks the contract? In America the Christians think abortion is murder and the secular liberals dont. Who's contract? Is it subjective down to subculture? If its subjective down to subculture, then who's subculture? Maybe Dahmer had his social contract and his victims simply had another? Who are you to judge another person's social contract? Or imagine society changed. Lets say suddenly all the women in the world decided to never have sex with men (sorry Vanessa). Well according to your worldview the major premise of neo-darwinian theory is the survival of the fittest, and so the only way for men to reproduce to pass on their genes is to rape the women. Now, is rape suddenly a moral action because it is best for the survival of the community? You see, as a theist I can say morality is rooted in the nature of God and thus rape is ALWAYS immoral. You want to base it on entirely subjective and relative social contracts.” To claim that morality is based on the nature of God does not betray ignorance but is the only possible basis for our use of universal, absolute, immutable moral codes. Anyone who wants to debate not only with the basis but also the conclusion that we use universal, absolute, immoral moral codes are easily proven wrong by simply doing something in which they feel wronged (punch them in the those, give their paper on relativism an F no matter how well written, steal their car, etc.). What will their response be? It will always be an appeal of some kind to a universal concept of justice.

9. The only valid thing that people will be able to know after they read his book is that he has no clue what he is talking about. Any person who thinks that they have learned anything about the Bible is simply the blind following the blind (something Courtenay admits to off the record). He has admitted that the book is not for scholars (those who know better) but for the uneducated masses who wont know any better.

10. He laughs at funerals and wants to involve his wife in three-way? And this man wants to critique the moral actions of God? (let alone he may be a Yankees fan, which should automatically rule him as irrational.)

11. As for God hating “fags.” Christians are just as repulsed by those crazies who picket with signs like that as Courtenay is. The only thing that that I think I have agreed with him on is that those people are the “radical fringe.” Strangely He can differentiate between radical fringe on this issue but not on the difference between orthodox Christian faith and the Islamic extremists? But if he did make that decision, there would be no book, no ego stroking, and no money to be made. So what else should I expect.

12. Strangely enough he also admits the old adage, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” There is a very strong distinction, and no it is not just semantics, between hating an action but not hating a person. As a Christian I have always been perplexed why homosexuality became such a central point of contention? God hates adultery but does he hate adulterers? God hates lying, but does he hate liars? Don’t we do the same thing? Do we hate when our children disobey? Yes. Do we then hate our children? No. Do we hate when the neighbor’s kid beats up our kid? Yes. Do we hate our neighbors kid? No. (even if we don’t like them and tell our kid not to play with them because they are a bad influence.) It is not semantics. It is a common distinction that we all make every day of our lives.

13. But Courtenay, when he gets to Paul, out fundamentalists the fundamentalists again. Paul does not single out homosexuals believe it or not. They are rebuked yes. But so are idolators, liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, deceivers, schemers, gossips, etc. In fact, Paul’s “sadomasochistic, vicious, and barking made epistles” are intended to show, not that homosexuals are wicked, but that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” even Paul himself! He calls himself the “chief of sinners” and that even his most righteous deeds are like “dung.” His point is that all people have sinned and thus all people deserve death and thus all people can only be saved by grace. In fact, the idea that Christianity requires self-righteousness simply misunderstands the gospel that we are NOT saved by how good we are or how morally superior we may be, but it is only when we recognize that we are NOT good that we can be saved. In C.S. Lewis’ words, “we are one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.”

14. The funny thing is that when Christians are harangued for calling homosexuality sin because it goes against the designed order of the sexes (something clear from the function of the organs) the accuser will often hold similar convictions for similar reasons. Why is it that pedophilia is wrong? Beastiality? Necrophilia? Christians just draw the line closer than further. But all the same objections launched against Christian “bigotry” can be launched against all those other prohibitions.

15. As for Jesus not saying anything on homosexuality, that is actually an argument from silence. Why should Jesus have to address what was already so clear? Jesus usually only addressed issues that the people of God had strayed from. If the people of God at that time hadn’t strayed on that conviction, why should he bring it up? He also didn’t say anything about pedophilia. Does that mean he was for it? The line of “reasoning” Courtenay uses here is just so absurd.

16. Your question about injustices done in the name of God also commits an informal logical fallacy. You see, the actions of adherents does not verify the truth of falsity of a worldview. The premises of its claims and the logic of its syllogisms do.

17. Lenin, Stalin and Mao alone killed nearly 100 MILLION people under atheistic regimes… you really wanna compare body counts of worldviews?! That’s not including the reign of terror of the French Revolution, Enver Hoxha (who called Albania an “atheist state”), Castro, Pol Pot… and the list goes on an on. What about even explicitly Darwinian science such as the eugenics programs that did medical experimentation, forced sterilization, and flat at genocide of the “unfit.” You REALLY wanna try and compare body counts? Especially considering that theists can at least say that those people were acting contrary to their own religion where as naturalism’s only universal is “survival of the fittest.” You can’t even say Stalin acted against his own worldview because his worldview said if he was strong, he should exert his power however he wanted! Dog eat dog baby! I recommend seeing that it’s not a valid argument anyway and just let it go.

18. It should also be noted that the major crimes of the church happened centuries ago in highly specific and unrepeatable contexts. What are the chances of inquisition coming back to Los Angeles? Whereas the crimes of atheism, which vastly outweigh the crimes of the church, occurred in the Modern era and in many instances are still going on today. They are repeatable and actually likely to occur again. In fact, what most people miss is that Nietzsche predicted the outcome of his own worldview, that with the death of God, the 20th century would be the bloodiest century in the history of the human race. Dostoevsky anyone?

19. Christians have not dismissed the command, but we read it in the light of the entire revelation of God within its historical/textual/theological context. In fact, what Courtenay entirely misses is that civil and ceremonial laws (which is what most of the Old Testament is since it was primarily the constitution for geo-political Israel) are much like laws today. They are the EXTENT that is justified by the law. They are not REQUIRED actions. Hence the law of eye for an eye is the EXTENT that one can go for reprobation. They cannot exceed equal punishment for the crime. But Jesus says, yes that was the extent, but what a loving person would do is turn the other cheek. In modern society imagine that for 2nd degree manslaughter the state statute says the maximum penalty is 15 years. Does that mean that the judge is obligated to execute a sentence of 15 years? No, not at all.

20. Christians also recognize that is the law giver who is the rightful law judge. Not us. Hence God telling us that vengeance is his, not ours; that we are not to judge those outside the church; and that we are to love our enemies, not just those who agree with us. This is a prime example where Courtenay betrays his ignorance on Biblical theology and its applications. This is obvious to anyone who has even a preliminary understanding of Christianity or Islam when he compared Shaira law to Old Testament law. This is like comparing apples and oranges.

21. Ha, I have to laugh that Courtenay refers to Depak Chopra. Im not sure if this was a backhanded remark or a compliment to Chopra. It seemed like a compliment which would be ironic since Chopra is actually seen as more blindly religious that most Christians are. Strange for someone who is so diametrically opposed to faith.

22. He then claims omniscience: “we know there isn’t a hell.” Really? How do you know? Have you explored the entire non-physical, supernatural world? For someone who says beliefs are only valid if based on evidence (a belief which itself is not based on evidence) what is the empirical evidence for this claim? Do you really wanna try and support a universal negative?

23. His argument is a kind of appeal for a new “common sense.” The strange thing is that for the vast majority of the human race, it is actually this very common sense that tells them that God exists, that there is more to life, there is something after this life, that all life must have purpose, that we cannot get an entire universe from nothing, that moral absolutes exists, and that people get what is coming to them.

All in all, his worldview, his book, and our many dialogues, have shown that he is hopelessly irrational, unquestionably unqualified for any real analysis of the Bible or any worldview criticism, and so biased that he cannot be called anything but an anti-theistic fundamentalist or ideologue. Does no one see the irony of Courtenay’s critique of the Biblical authors based on their own “agendas” that make them “unreliable” in a book so blinded by his own agenda that he cant even tell the difference between historical narrative and moral imperatives?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Response: RustyLime's Interview with 'God Hates You. Hate Him Back' author CJ Werleman (Part 1)

The following is my response to RustyLime's interview of Courtenay Werleman. he original interview can be found at http://www.rustylime.com/show_article.php?id=3808. This response was posted there but I also wanted to post it here. I recommend reading his blog and then reading mine.


First, your history is wrong. Literalist interpretation (the method of fundamentalism) did not spawn Baptists, Evangelicals, or Creationists. Wow, if you cant even get basic chronology correct, what else will you miss? We’ll see.

Well to start, if his book is the “ultimate case” then I think we theists really have nothing to worry about since his “ultimate case” is easily refuted by people with even a cursory knowledge about the Bible, history, logic, philosophy or science.

Nothing about what he does could rightly be called “meticulously scrutini[zing]” since he simply combs over it to find statements that he can purposefully misconstrue, read out of context (both historically and textually), and ignores 2000 years of research and scholarship from both sides of the isle. (The shock for him will come when his book is panned by atheists who are scholars in the field and, at the very least, have a shred of intellectual and scholarly integrity.) Often the “contradictions” and “misconceptions” that he elucidates are little more than hasty generalizations or out and out misrepresentations of what the text actually says. A prime example is his insistence that God is evil because in Judges a concubine is raped by the Benjaminites. The problem is that the entire book of Judges is written as a CONDEMNATION of Israel for their sin. Courtenay cannot even identify a historical narrative (what the Bible describes) from a moral imperative (what the Bible prescribes). This is one of MANY examples where it is not the religious that overlook something, by Courtenay.

You also assert that few “fundamentalist/evangelical/creationist Christins” have a mind for science. Yet then you go on to assert that it is then pointless to use “methodological logic” to try and debate with them. Do you honestly mistake science and philosophy? You also make a hasty generalization that is some (or in your words “many”) do not have a mind for science, then NONE must have a mind for science (or “methodological logic”). That would be like saying that some women do not have a mind for science so none do. Or that some atheists do not have a mind for science (for surely not all do) so none do.

Let us imagine that it were the case that “few” Christians hand a mind for science or logic (something that is epidemic in all of a America, not just the religious sector), would that mean that the Bible is itself incorrect? I’m not sure what the intelligence level of adherents actually have to do with the truth/falsity of a text or a worldview? Basically, it is a behind the back ad hominem argument meant to sound accurate but actually quite pointless.

Quick thought… Courtenay admits to be a guy “pretending to be a guy writing about a bad guy named God.” Now, is he pretending to be the guy, or pretending to write, or pretending to be able to write something of merit about God? It cannot be the first because then he would be a make believe author and no book would be written. He cannot be pretending to write or he would not be actually writing, and then again, no book would be written. Since we have a book written, it is best to assume he meant the third, in which case he admits that he has no clue what he writing about. Which, in a private conversation that I had with him he admitted that this book was not written for scholars since scholars would entirely disagree with him, but rather is written for every day people who don’t know any better. I suspect that is because they would accept what he writes without any hesitation because it is funny and entertaining and completely miss the fact that it is entirely hateful and fallacious.

Courtenay makes a big deal that people haven’t read the Bible. Now, there is no poll taken, but my guess would be that fewer people have read The Origin of Species than have the Bible, but that many people believe in the evolution and would call themselves Darwinians. What does that get you? Nothing. Again it is a red herring. The amount of readership among adherents plays no roll in the truth/falsity of a text. The fact that he calls this “a great f*ing LOGICAL dilemma” betrays two things. First, he has no clue what he talking about because the same thing would stand for Darwinism. Second, he himself does not have a mind for logic because even if his assertions are true, it is not a LOGICAL dilemma even if it may be a sad turn of events, or a even hypocritical of Christians to say they believe but haven’t read. But there is nothing in the premises that entail some kind of logical dilemma or a breach of any law of logic. Is this the type of “argumentation” that you approve of on this blog?

He then tries to build a case that God is not loving because people have read the Bible. Putting more holes in a bottomless bucket wont make it hold water. Just because some people have not read the Bible cover to cover, does not entail that they “worship and ideal or a concept of God.” Now is it possible that they may be duped? Of course. If anyone knows anything about philosophy we can all be duped that we are not just butterflies dreaming that the world exists. But that’s not an argument. He then goes on to cite the people who more than likely HAVE read the Bible, our parents (the previous generations) our teachers, and church leaders but he ascribes to them the same Bible illiteracy as the mass public? That would be like saying that no scientist has read Darwin because most non-professional scientists haven’t.

He then goes on to spew his “hardly a single sentence anywhere in the Old Testament….” nonsense. As can be shown on nearly every count where he deals with the text, he abuses the context (both historical and textual) commits eisegesis (reading his own 21st century atheism back into the text) and assumes the conclusion of nearly all of his assertions to be true before they are proven. Its not only bad scholarship, which he doesn’t claim thank goodness but should have at least a modicum of if he is going to write a book on the most prolific piece of literature ever written, but its also just bad reading. He just doesn’t read it. My guess is that he would be more than capable of reading and understanding context in other books, but when it comes to the Bible he has an axe to grind and he grinds it on every passage regardless of what the text actually says.

A good example is even in his answer concerning Cain and Abel. Was God playing favorites? No. The fact is that Cain could have brought an acceptable offering from the fields (as seen later in fine flour being acceptable in place of an animal), but that he didn’t. Abel bought the FIRST BORN of the flock while Cain just brought whatever he found left over. This was, if you do even more than a cursory glance, a sin offering. They were not just saying “hey God, thanks for being cool.” They were to give of their lively-hood to atone for their sin. Abel took it seriously, Cain did not. Now, agree with that or not, the problem is that Courtenay NEVER deals with what the text ACTUALLY says or the context because he simply has not done any research beyond reading other vitriolic rants, something ironic considering one of his major beefs with Christians as that we ignore facts that disagree with us.

But surely Courtenay would do better on the New Testament? Nope, not even in the slightest. The fact that he claims that the biography is fabricated and embarrassingly put together shows that he is not only out of line with Christian scholars, but even Secular Biblical scholars! In fact, the view point that he eschews (that Jesus never even existed) is so rare that you could count on one hand the number of scholars who agree with him out of the thousands involved with the SBL, Jesus Seminar, or any other New Testament Studies fellowship (Christian or non). The sheer ignorance it takes to call Jesus and “unremarkable dead man” just seems so beyond the pale. If the life and teachings of Jesus has impacted the vast majority of human life, culture, politics, law, ethics, education, family, etc. more than anyone else in the history of the world, to make the claim that Courtenay does seems to be the one beyond ignorance. Believe in Jesus as the Son of God or not, but to make a statement like that is just false to anyone with a shred of historical or ethical understanding.

You then ask about Courtenay’s “research.” Courtenay didn’t do any research (hence why he knows that his book will be a wash with scholars). Research requires diligent study of all the information, opposing views, scholars, the history of the discussion, and the study of all relevant areas of study that might come to bear on the topic (in this case with the Bible that would include things like Biblical/Higher Criticism, Literary analysis of original languages, manuscript transmission study, canonical studies, hermeneutics, philosophy, history, theology, etc.). Courtenay has obviously done none, if only being the Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Erhman lapdog.

He then makes the existential argument that we believe in God because of our need to feel like there is purpose, meaning, and life after death to appease our fears. This may be true for some but not most. Many of us, like myself, had no fear of death as an atheist to drive us to belief. We rather we convinced by the force of evidence, argument, and consistency/coherency of the Bible.

This argument amounts to the parallel of the Christian version that atheists are only atheists to escape the fear of judgment. While it may be entirely true, it is not actually a viable argument.

Besides, imagine my fear of death keeps me from jumping off the edge of a building. Does that means that if I just got over my fear of death that I would not die if I jumped off of a building? It seems absurd to try to use our reasons for coming to a belief to invalidate the belief itself.

He then goes on to blame the Israelites for inventing God due to “lack of air-conditioning” and a kind of god-envy of the surrounding nations. This is easily dismissed since convincing an entire people group (which would have to have taken place within one generation from the exodus of Egypt would have to suddenly start believing in a new God without any reason to do so. In fact, we see the surrounding nations have gods that are quite amenable to our desires. Crop gods, and sex gods, and fertility gods, and gods of money, and power, etc. What do we see God do the first time the Israelites take over a land? Tell them they don’t get to keep a single dime. And they are now on a tight diet. And they don’t get to be just like their neighbors. If I were going to invent a deity for myself, it would be MUCH more like Baal or Ashtoreth than like Yahweh. Why would I want a God like a consuming fire over my sins, than one who says I can just have sex with a temple prostitute to be all good?

I also find it funny when atheists like Courtenay try to use those foolish beliefs that religious people had way back when, like it proves something? What about scientists who believed thay could turn lead into gold? Or, that the earth was moving because we could see the oceans sloshing about. Or what about the facts that in the early 1900’s a list of 100 things that scientists knew with 100% assurance was published and we don’t believe a single one of them now? Does that prove the scientific endeavor wrong? Nope. It means some people went wrong somewhere but it has nothing to do with the worldview itself. (Ironically his own example about Pasteur overlooks that before Pasteur it was the SCIENTISTS who were wrong. Did Pasteur correct the pastors? Nope. The doctors.)

His analogy about the shovel also fails. I’m not looking to the Bible to tell me about positrons, quasars, supernovas, quarks, string theory, or anything like that. So no, when it comes to astronomy and the workings of planetary rotations, I’ll go to the astronomer. When it comes to liver disease and kidney transplants, I’ll go to the physician. But when it comes to timeless things like truth, reason, morality, God, etc. the time when someone writes has very little to do with the accuracy of what they write. Should we abandon atheism because they had progenitors 2000 years ago also? Now, I know some people read Genesis 1 like a science text book. They have their own problems. I’m not gonna help you win that argument (though I think you can.) But there is nothing illogical about positing a first cause.

As for previous stories being a tool to falsify the Bible. First it shows you have no concepts of polemics. Second, let me give you an example. Did you know that there was once a book written about a new super ocean liner called the Titus, and that on its maiden voyage it hit an iceburg and sank, and that most people died because it was not equipped with enough life boats? Does this sound familiar? It should! It is the story of the Titanic! Or is it…? Would you surprise you to know that the story of Titus was written DECADES before the actual events? Does that mean that everything written about the historical event of the Titanic are actually plagiarizing the story about the Titus? No of course not. Before you can prove plagiarism you need more than similarities. You need to provide proof. Something that has been universally refuted to those who keep up with scholarship.

As for his examples of his “favourites” there are so many problems with each one and this is becoming quite long that I will only pick one (as much as it pains me to let his other transparent errors slide). Well do an obvious one that shows that Courtenay actually hasn’t read the Bible himself, but just cherry picks concepts and runs with them.

Did David really dance naked “waving his pecker around as if it was a jump rope.” The story being cited here is from 2 Samuel 6:20 where David’s wife says, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" So wait… did David dance naked!? Well if you read this verse in isolation in order to mislead people and grind your axe, it would sure seem so. But wait… what’s this!? It’s a little thing called CONTEXT. Am I asking you to look back 5 chapters to an obscure reference to solve it? No. Try 4 verses. 2 Samuel 6:14, which actually is the verse that describes the dancing, says, “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might.” David was fully clothed! Why did Micah fret? Because David, the king, had taken of his royal garments and crown in public and went out dressed as a commoner.

Now, does Courtenay’s rash “synopsis” of the passage do anything to prove the Bible false even if it were correct? No not really. Besides being awkward for David it would really have no impact on the truth of the Bible or if God is hateful or not. So why point out this one? Because if Courtenay cannot even get something this simple right (and this is REALLY simple… just remember what was written 2 lines up) then how much can we trust him when it comes to complex issues of justice, religious practice, text criticism, historicity, covenantal structures, law/gospel distinctions, thematic tension/resolution, types/shadows/fulfillment, theology, logic etc. If he can’t even get basic narrative right, he will miss interpretation EVERY time.

His final statements, while tragic (truly, no one should have to suffer witnessing anything like that) are simply appeals to emotion to buy an illogical argument. To say that all religion is wrong because some religion is wrong, or that all Biblical religion is wrong because fundamentalist Islam is built off of the OT (which is actually a common misconception but quite incorrect) is like me saying that all evolutionists are evil because some evolutionists were involved in Nazi Germany’s experimentation on prisoners, or on the wicked eugenics programs of America, Brittan, and Germany. Or that all atheists are evil because of the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Cruschev, and Castro. The fact is that ANY belief can be used and abused by ideologues. To compare radicalist Islamic terrorists to even everyday muslims, let alone evangelicals, is not only sociologically fallacious, but just flat out logically fallacious as well.

Well, I hope I have put more than one rock in your shoe. I look forward to the other half of this interview.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An ironic turn of events

Update: Courtenay Werleman has deleted me as a friend on facebook and has banned me from posting on his website. My comments have always been civil and polite and focused on the arguments and the evidence. Apparently I was out of line to contradict him. The irony of this however is so obvious. One of his major predications is that theists, and Christians in particular, are guilty of ignoring evidence, being irrational, ahistorical and believing by blind faith. He then turns around and deletes the one descenting voice to his book on his facebook and his blog. Rather than exploring the evidences and arguments that refute his fallacious claims or that oppose his worldview, he chooses to silence them; to cut them off from the conversation. It is like the scientist, who in the name of science, only allows in data that agrees with his pre-approved conclusions.

This is proof positive that the New Atheist movement is all bark and no bite. When they are met with resistence they shout longer and louder, with more vitriol, more character abuse (ad hominem arguments or character assasinations) and more hasty generalizations. It has been my experience that people with sound arguments and evidence on their side, just simply do not resort to such tactics.

To all you Christians who have run ins with atheists like this. I encourage you to stay dedicated to the truth, speak boldly and confidently, but NEVER resort to the level of character assasination. Speal the truth in LOVE. Do not be offensive, insulting, divise on purpose. The truth may already carry an offence, so we should not add insult to injury. But we have the truth, and the truth will set us free.

Does God hate women?

On Courtenay Werleman's blog, he posted 10 "proofs" that God hates women. In this blog I have posted his original ten "proofs" with a brief response to each. Much more can be said to each but the point of this blog is to show a prime example of a person who blames Christians for using faulty history, believing myths, blindly ignoring evidence, and being irrational HIMSELF doing those very things. This is not a POSTIVE argument for the Bible (as Jerome said that he would "sooner defend a lion" than defend the teachings of the Bible) but rather is to show that the atheistic arguments often are simply blind to what is actually written in the text, unconcerned with the historical/literary contexts, and blinded by their own worldview.

1. The villian in the story of Garden of Eden is Eve, for seducing Adam into taking a bite. Eve’s punishment is she will now experience the excrutiating pain of childbirth, and Adam, well he now has to shave everyday.

1. Have you actually READ the accounts? The women have pain in childbearing and an uneven longing for her husband. Where in the world did you get that man has to shave only? The curse is that the man will have to toil EVERY day of his life to bring food from the ground and will fight with thorns and thistles. The funny thing is that it is the WOMAN who receives the promise of Redemption (that it is HER seed that will crush the head of the serpent, and no don’t read that uber-literally) but the man gets the official pronouncement of DEATH. Ha, if anything, Adam has it WAY worse than Eve as far as the curses go. And who is blamed throughout the entire Bible for plunging the entire human race into sin? Adam! Eve is almost NEVER blamed save one or two ambiguous references, while Adam is seen as the head of fallen humanity. So your first point…. pointless.

2. Women are not included as citizens under Mosaic Law. They are not considered in any Census, nor does their genealogy count for anything.

2. Census’ did not include children either. The purpose of census was to find the number of HOUSEHOLDS within a clan, not to find the number of citizens. They were done in order to determine land distribution, not citizenship recognition. Women had all the equal rights under the law and underwent a covenant ritual parallel to circumcision. Since women don’t have penises they could not be circumcised (the symbol of the covenant) so they underwent purification to be citizens. And how can you say that their geneaology doesn’t count? Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew is the lineage of Mary and includes Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth, and Mary! So your second point… pointless.

3. The law of adultery applies only to women, punishment by death. A man may have 700 wives as in the case of King Solomon, but if a man discovers his wife has slept with another she is to have her brains smashed on the pavement.

3. Both sexes were to be punished by death. See Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:24. As for the kings having multiple wives, you mistake an event being recorded in the Bible with events that are condoned by the Bible. There is a VERY big difference. We see in Deuteronomy 17:17 that Israelite kings were FORBIDDEN to marry more than wife. The Bible records them doing so as a fact of history, not a moral imperative. Your third point… pointless.

4. God thinks so lowly of women that in the hierarchy of man’s livestock, she is positioned beneath a goat. For if a man has sex with a goat, he is to be executed. Whereas if a man rapes a woman he only has to pay 50 sheckles to the victim’s father.

4. Sorry, read Deuteronomy 22:22-26. The man who rapes a woman is to be killed. Your 4th point… pointless.

5. What compensation does the female rape victim receive for such man forced violation? Well God says she must marry her assailant. Nice!

5. The word for rape in Hebrew is (transliterated in English) ‘chazak’ and means forced upon. The word in the passage you are referring to is ‘tapas’ (no, not Spanish finger food) and it means to grab or to hold. Rape is shown to be a capital crime just a couple verses before and explicitly calls it ‘chazak’ (rape) and that the offending party is to be killed, then it would not make sense just two verses later to say that the offender isn’t killed. The word ‘tapas’ is used in CONTRAST to ‘chazak’ and the idea is if a man sleeps with a woman (consensual), as long as she is not pledged to be married (which would be adultery and punished by death) then they are to be married and he is to pay the father the dowry plus extra for the offense. So sorry, this isn’t a law making a rape victim marry his attacker since the law regarding rape has already been established previously. Your fifth point… pointless.

6. If a man discovers his wife is not a virgin on their wedding night, the groom is to drag her to her father’s doorstep and murder her there. But a man can have more notches on his bedpost than Hugh Hefner.

6. If all the above laws hold, both the husband and the wife SHOULD both be virgins. Because if EITHER has had sex previously it was with either a person not pledged to be married, in which case the law says that they MUST be married, or a person pledged to be married/already married in which case they should be killed. So in any of those cases, a capital crime has been committed. And you are flat wrong because the men are not to be Hugh Hefner either. (If they aren’t virgins they either slept with someone who wasn’t pledged and should have paid the dowry to the father and married them, or it was with a pledged/married woman in which case they are to be stoned). Sorry, your sixth point… pointless.

7. Paul says that women are not only forbidden form holding any position of authority in the Church, but it is disgraceful to allow a woman to speak inside it’s four walls

7. The women are not forbidden from holding any authority, but only the office of Elder. Women in Corinth were not allowed to speak in public because (and if you read this IN CONTEXT of Paul talking about orderly worship settings) in Corinth the women were known for speaking out and gossiping in the middle of the service. It would be like if you went to a catholic mass and someone was talking loud on their cell phones. It has to do with a specific kind of disruption that was taking place. This is a good example of actually doing research would help you instead of reading the Bible anachronistically. Your seventh point…. Pointless.

8. Women are excluded from entering Heaven. John in the Book of Revelation reveals that only 144,000 souls may enter the Kingdom, this number equal to the 12,000 men of each of the 12 tribes of Israel.

8. A great example of you out fundamentalisting the fundamentalists by reading the Bible MORE literally than they do. Even fundamentalists realize that Revelation is apocalyptic literature and should not be read like a news paper or a court brief but uses literary devices. You really think John mean 12000 EXACTLY? Scholars note that most ancient cultures used numbers symbolically more than mathematically in literature. And that 12 was a number of completion and 1000 was like saying “more than we can count.” So 12000 from each tribe is A LOT and is EVERYBODY involved (completion)! In fact, this is clear when John “HEARS” the number of each tribe but then when he LOOKS to see the people that were JUST numbered, it is a great multitude that cannot be counted. But the two groups (the 144000) and the countless multitude are the same group. Welcome to literary symbolism and numerics. Ha, 144000 cant include women. Wow, if this is what you have, youre stretching it. Kinda like a UFO conspiracist. Lol Your eighth point… pointless.

9. If men are sold into slavery, they are to be freed after serving six years. A woman is never freed.

9. This is based on Ex. 21:1-11, and it clearly refers to women in a marriage relationship. The man has paid a dowry and if she is “displeasing in the eyes of the master who has DESIGNATED her for himself, then he shall let her be REDEEMED.” Then later, “If he designates her for his son…” that is, if the dowry was so she would be his son’s wife, “he shall deal with her according to the custom of DAUGHTERS” not SLAVES. Sorry, but this is actually a safety measure for daughters who are married. She some men who wanted to divorce, rather than send her back to the family (and not get their dowry back) would try to get their money back by selling the girl into slavery. This is to PROTECT women by not allowing that to happen by making the man allow the family to REDEEM her, that is, repay the dowry. Wow, simply commentary work would solve all of this for you. Your ninth point… pointless.

10. In God’s eyes it is better to offer your daughters to be gang-raped than to surrender two male guests that you had only met five minutes earlier. (Lot; the story of a Levite man in Judges)

10. Sorry, wrong again. In most cultures it adultery was ALWAYS taboo. There is no ancient culture near Israel that allowed for adultery. IT was ALWAYS a capital crime. Homosexuality was not the same. Many cultures allowed for the practice. So when the entire city of Sodom came out to gang rape the two ANGELS (not just men) Lot offers up his two daughters and describes them as his daughters “who were pledged to be married.” Why? Because the Sodomites would recognize that adultery was unacceptable and would be distracted from their original intent. In fact the Sodomites recognize the ploy and don’t fall for it because they don’t accept his offer (because they recognize that they would be sinning if they did, which was Lot’s intention) but rather than dispersing, they got MORE mad and violent.

And as for Judges, the entire book of Judges is written to show that Israel had become just as wicked, if not MORE so, than all the neighboring people (hence the main theme, “and everyone did what was right in their own eyes” said throughout the entire book). So the incident with the Levite and his CONCUBINE (didn’t you find it strange that a priest would have a concubine) was to illustrate that even the priests, the ones who were supposed to be the MOST pure and minister before God at the tabernacle, was just as wicked as the Sodomites! And the Benjaminites, who raped his concubine, had become MORE wicked than the Sodomites! Did you not notice that the Levite, when finding his concubine, just dispassionately steps over her, throws her on his mule like a sack of potatoes then CUTS her up and sends a piece of her to the different tribes to incite civil war!? You moral repugnation at his actions are what you are SUPPOSED to feel! That WHY the story is told! Israel had become wicked and needed a JUDGE (hences the book of Judges), someone to DELIVER them and lead them back to faithfulness to God.

It is clear that you are entirely unable to differentiate between and indicative (what happened) with an imperative (what we should do). Most of the Bible is indicative, simply telling the story of what happened and often the implied imperative isn’t “be like David,” but “DON’T be like David when he did this!” Just because the Bible records an event does not mean that God condones the action. Sorry man, but your tenth point… pointless.

Your final score – 0/10.
This is where ACTUAL research would help.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Blog!

This is my first post on this new blog. I guess I have atheists like Courtenay Werleman and his new book "God Hates You. Hate Him Back" or Godless Blogger (unnamed) from Godlessblogger.com to thank for inspiring me to start my own blog. In my interactions with this rising advocate of the New Atheism movement (Werleman), I have realized that massive lack of Christians who are willing, able, educated, and trained to interact with the movement. Because these authors, though some may be academic, do not argue on an academic level, they are actually quite easy to refute. This is not to say that they are not intelligent or witty, but it is to say that their argumentation, reasoning, "evidence" and rhetoric are often inflamitory, elitist, illogical, vague, irrational, biased, unresearched, ahistorical, inaccurate, or flat out wrong. 

This is my first blog project so forgive me if my posts are scattered at first. I look forward to addressing this issue and providing helpful resources to Christians who find themselves being bullied by those who take their talking points from men like Werleman.

Stay posted, spread the news, and join the discussion! I look forward to dialoguing with you all.