Tanya Simmonds and Fundamentalist Atheism

Is fundamentalist atheism a sign that our churches are failing? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently in the Tektonics section of TheologyWeb, there was a whole thread devoted to someone complaining about an article of theirs being given a screwball, as we call them. It was an article written by her and her husband and a large part of it was written extensively on the topic of masturbation. The idea was that this is a clearly wrong teaching across the board in Christian churches and it’s a way that Christianity oppresses people.

Overly dramatized to be sure, but just false really. Focus on the Family doesn’t even take a hard line on this. Numerous other ministries don’t. When I was preparing to marry, I read books by Christian counselors and writers encouraging that it be done before the wedding night so a man can prepare himself. Some of you might still disagree with that. That’s fine. It’s a side issue. The long and short of it is it led to the apostasy of one of the writers, namely Tanya Simmonds. She sent a message to one of our members daring him to publish it.

It’s been published and now I have my response.

Simmonds says “I was a Christian, on fire for Jesus, many, many years ago. I was young (18) at the time. The Jesus I knew and loved was a few selected passages from the pulpit and Robert Powell.”

Unfortunately, this kind of event happens too often. Am I opposed to people having a passion for Jesus? Absolutely not! What I fear has happened here is an emotional reaction purely without any real in-depth look at matters. Note that the Jesus she knew was based on a few select passages and on a pastor and a teacher alone. What study was Simmonds doing on her own?

Simmonds continues to say “The day came when I decided that it was time for me to read the Bible. As I got into it, I began to shake my head. “No! This can’t be right,” I thought. But the more I went through it, the more horrified I became. This wasn’t the God – the Jesus – that I thought I knew, and who I felt inside me. This was a monster from my very worst nightmares. It had to be a mistake. I prayed endlessly for clarification, but no answer came.”

Personally, I’d read the Bible when I was in Middle School and never had a problem. God judges the world? What’s the big deal. He’s a judge. That’s what judges do. Notice Simmonds’s reactions are all emotional. “The Jesus I felt inside me” and “I prayed endlessly for clarification.”

What’s sad about this is that this is usually what Christians recommend. “You know Jesus is who He said He is because you feel Him inside of you!” “If you want to know what a passage means, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you.” No. If you want to know that Jesus is real, study the resurrection. If you want to know what a passage means, study the text. Of course, prayer can be a part of study, but it is not meant to be a substitute for study.

She goes on to say “After I became a solicitor, I went back to university, part time, and studied for another degree, this time in theology. I had an emotional need to learn for myself just exactly what I had got myself into.”

Once again, the emotional aspect. Now there is nothing wrong with emotional wholeness at all, but it sure looks like the cart is pulling the horse in the case of Simmonds. We can at least hope there was real study going on, but only a further look at what is shown will be our information.

As Simmonds continues she says “I know that people get around the horrors of the Bible by either skipping over the passages, or expressly convincing themselves that they don’t mean what they say. I can almost understand that. I wept for weeks at what I discovered. I was heartbroken. My Jesus was gone!”

Actually, I never saw these passages as horrors at all. Yet let’s consider some options.

First off, Simmonds says they don’t mean what they say, assuming that what they say is what is meant to be read by a modern American. Perhaps modern American isn’t the way to read the text. Maybe it should be read in the style of an ancient Jew? If so, it is entirely proper to look at how ancient Jews and people around them spoke. Paul Copan has done an excellent job of that in “Is God A Moral Monster?” My review of that can be found here.

Second, it could be our understanding is accurate and we just have to deal with it. Perhaps it is not the moral tastes of the Bible that are a problem but rather it is ours. Perhaps we could be helped by studying what was going on in these ancient cultures that were destroyed.

Third, it could be that these parts are not accurate even and that Inerrancy is the problem. I do not hold to this position, but I bring it up for sake of argument. It could be that Jesus rose from the dead and the Bible is not Inerrant. If that is the case, you still do have Christianity. You just have a different view of Scripture.

There could be other options. Simmonds had married her Christianity to a modern view of Jesus. It has long been my contention that this view is wrong. It is part of American hubris.

Returning to Simmonds we hear “But I can tell you, in twenty five years of study and debate, I have never met a theology professor, a pastor, or an archbishop who denied that these terrible stories were not as they appeared. Certainly, I’ve heard many attempts at justifications for them, but none that I didn’t find incredibly transparent, unfounded, and completely invalid. That’s all I can say on that. ALL of the experts I have consulted on these issues concurred with my understanding of the passages. They mean exactly what they say.”

All of them? I have on my bookshelf a book called “Show Them No Mercy.” It contains four views of the Canaanite conquest and has each view critiquing each other. They are quite different including one with a thinking much like Simmonds’s that a God of love would not order such a thing. Has Simmonds read Copan? Is she aware In fact, he has just written another book on this topic with Heath Thomas and Jeremy Evans. Is Simmonds willing to interact with these works?

Moving to another topic Simmonds writes that “My studies then moved to the historical origins of the Bible, where the books were written, and when. I was stunned when I learned that they were not written by the people they are ascribed to. I couldn’t believe that Matthew didn’t write Matthew, nor was it written by anyone who could have known him. The same went for Luke and John, and half of the letters of Paul. Mark was the earliest Gospel known to exist, but imagine how jaw-dropping it was for me when I discovered that not only did nobody named Mark actually write it, but that nobody alive on this earth knows, to this day, who this ‘Mark’ was supposed to have been. Imagine my shock at discovering that the final verses (16:9-20) were not to be found in the earliest surviving copies of the original papyrus, but were, in fact, added by another author 200 years later.”

To be fair, there are some scholars who would say that these books aren’t written by their traditional authors, but there are several who would disagree. Simmonds could pick up any NT commentary and find a case made for authorship. Even if the authorship was wrong, the information in the accounts still needs to be dealt with. Has Simmonds done that? Has she considered a work like Bauckham’s “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.”?

As for Mark, I just got out my grandmother’s NIV that I keep here with me. What do I see right before those verses in it? “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” The information was right there. Why was Simmonds surprised by this?

It would have been better for her to have read something on textual criticism. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking happens all too often. I had a friend who graduated from a highly conservative institution that was KJV-only and was concerned when he found categorical proof that 1 John 5:7 was not part of the original manuscript. Fortunately, this guy has since been doing his own reading and studying and that is the proper response. Were I to recommend a book to Simmonds, it would be Paul Wegner’s “A Student’s Guide to Textual Criticism of the Bible.”

Simmonds continues with “Imagine my greatest shock in all of my studies on this subject when I was shown the historical evidence that the 200 CE earliest surviving copy of John didn’t contain one of the most precious of Christian stories – the tale of the Adulterous Woman (John 7:53-8:11.) I learned that it first started circulating in the late 4th, early 5th centuries, and wasn’t include in the New Testament officially until the turn of the first Millennium.

These discoveries shook me to the core.”

Looking in the same NIV again, I find the same message before John 7:53-8:11 (Only a difference in referents of course). This is not shocking news, but it’s showing that we’re not teaching our young people well. When a pastor preaches on this passage, he should say something about the textual criticism of this passage. Actually, if a pastor is preaching on any passage with textual variants, he should mention those if they’re especially relevant.

Now Simmonds goes for all-or-nothing thinking with ” And then common sense began to creep in. The claims about Jesus in the Gospels are fantastic in nature. They would have been the most ground-breaking news in history. And yet extra-biblical history was silent on him – in deference to some pretty regular mundane stuff about 1st Century Judea.”

Well of course they were! Why? For a number of reasons, as pointed out by David Instone-Brewer in “The Jesus Scandals”, miracles would have been an embarrassment to the general populace. Most of them saw miracle workers the way we see televangelists today. For a look at Instone-Brewer’s book see here and for a link to my interview with him on the Deeper Waters podcast, see here.

The reality is, most people would have responded to Jesus the way we do today. Skeptically. Does Simmonds really think Roman authorities are going to go check a claim about a rabbi working miracles in the backwaters of Judea? Messiah claims were a dime-a-dozen. They’d come and gone. Furthermore, this one was crucified. It is not astounding that so few mention Him. It is astounding that any of them do.

As we look further at this she says “There’s a passage about him in Josephus known as the Testimonium Flavinium that even the Catholic Church recognizes as an embarrassing forgery inserted by the early church father Eusebius in the 4th Century.”

It would be nice of Simmonds to tell us where the Catholic church says that it is a forgery. They certainly admit interpolations, as most anyone does, but they do not say the whole passage is a fraud. For an excellent look at this, see the work of the Bede here.

Moving on she says “There was nothing about the most amazing man who was ever supposed to have lived outside of writings from Christian circles. Christians often cite the ‘Jamesien’ passage as, at least, verification of the man’s existence. But farther down the page, it is easy to find the ending that Christians are always so averse to revealing — Jesus, Son of Damneus.” ”

Unfortunately, the only thing the two have in common is a name. Isn’t that something? No. Jesus, according to Bauckham in “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” was the 6th most popular male name. Consider that for women, one in four of them were named Mary. So let’s see why should I think this Jesus in Josephus is the one in the NT and not Simmonds’s?

First off, this case involves identification by the brother instead of by the father, which means James must have had a very well-known brother. Second, this Jesus is said to be the so-called Christ, not something that would be interpolated by a Christian. Third, there is no reference to the other Jesus being called Christ anywhere that I know of or having a brother named James that was executed by Herod.

Simmonds needs to tell scholars of Josephus why they’re wrong, but notice something important. Simmonds has gone from being on fire for Jesus to denying his existence, a path not taken seriously in scholarship. The emotional effort has gone the other way.

On Tacitus she says “The Jesus passage in the Annals of Tacitus is highly persuasive as extrabiblical evidence for Jesus, although it actually says precious little about him, and contains enough ‘red flags’ to remove it from the ‘solid evidence’ category.”

Yes. Precious little except crucified under Pontius Pilate, something that corroborates well with the NT. There is no evidence of interpolation and Simmonds does not mention any of the red flags. Again, scholars of Tacitus across the board would disagree with her here, and yet she persists.

She finishes that part saying “Horrified by atrocities the Bible says were instigated by God, and with no reason to believe the Bible any longer, I had become a non-believer by the time I acquired my B(th.)”

I cannot say I am surprised. Simmonds started as an emotional thinker and that never changed. Her methodology is still the same. It is only the allegiance that differs.

She goes on to say “You have mocked me in wolfpack attacks, gloated, and made extremely biased representations against me, compiled highly selective, and largely irrelevant statements by me, refused to answer my most significant points, and you have become increasingly bitter towards me the more I have stood my ground against you. Your mockery and gloating has been of the most unreasonable nature. As I have said repeatedly, the Bible is supposed to be for the whomsoever. I have not only read it, but I have studied it, soaring my knowledge of it far above that of the average citizen. You have balked at me because I was not born with the sum total of every single apologetics book ever written, most of which disagree with one another, on many key issues. How can you reasonably expect me to be privy to the obscure theories of the likes of JP Holding, and insult me for that? His theories are not obvious, and not shared by many within the theological community. So why do you think I am a ‘moron’ for not being inside his particular head? Moreover, do you think that the average Joe who picks up the Bible and becomes as horrified as I was, is an imbecile, too?”

Simmonds here fails to mention that she came out with both barrels blasting and plays the victim and plays it very well. It is a quite manipulative approach that fits in line with an emotional thinker. Do we expect her to know every book written? No. No one does. We expect her to have done background study. She says she’s done more than the average citizen. I do not dispute that. Yet that is not saying much. No one is born with this knowledge. I and others have worked for it. Note though the ego she has in a statement like “soaring my knowledge of it far above”

Note also her constant speaking to what is obvious. Obvious to who? A 21st century American? A 16th century Chineseman? A 12th century Frenchman? A 5th century German? A 1st century Jew? Who? Also, I have no reason to think the “average Joe” understanding of the Bible is accurate. Why should I? The Bible is a deep and complex work that requires much study.

Simmonds goes on to say “What you don’t realise is that all along, I have been fighting for the psychological freedom of us all. Christianity is the most sadistic and totalitarian philosophy I have ever encountered. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe that.”

And I can just as easily say I have been fighting for the salvation of us all. Simmonds doesn’t realize that passion does not equal truth. Simmonds is arguing against a highly legalistic form of Christianity to which I say “Feel free! Go ahead!” I certainly don’t want any of that in Christianity, but is it what Jesus taught?

Her line continues with “At baseline, it is an assertion that there is an all-powerful cosmic being who created us all, and gave us each incredibly powerful survival instincts, independent of our own request. He then throws all of the rules in opposition to those instincts, and then demands sullen woe from each of us each time we fail to uphold these cruel directives. I’m not talking about murder, theft, or actions which infringe upon the rights of others. I am talking about the most basic of fundamental freedoms. It expressly states that we have no right to our own bodies, no right to our own individual personalities and interests, and no right to our own thoughts. It asserts that we are under surveillance around the clock, and that we can be convicted for even what goes through our minds, and will be cast into eternal torture, lest we spend our lives beating ourselves up about it (repenting.) This is the very definition of tyranny!”

No. This is fundamentalism. Let’s start at the end. I believe in Hell, but not in eternal torture. Most evangelicals don’t, which makes me wonder again how much study was going on.

Second, I do believe God is always watching. So what? Saying you don’t like He’s always watching doesn’t change that He is. I do not know where she gets this idea about rights being denied. I find I have a great right to be myself. I can enjoy my personal interests and like my personality. Of course, there are ways I can improve and if Simmonds thinks no one needs to change their personal temperament, she has problems. I am a married man who enjoys my sexual freedom within the bond of marriage. I do seek to control my thought life since it affects everything else that I do.

Perhaps the real problem is with Simmonds’s thinking. Could she want to do some things Christianity condemns? Possibly. We all do. That’s because we’re sinners. Yet in all of this she has left out any mention of grace. She has the judgment, but not the mercy, a sure indication of fundamentalist thinking.

Simmonds continues with “Its apparent get-out clause is the insidious concept of vicarious redemption, through a brutal and sadistic human sacrifice (that none of us asked for) where this God transformed himself into a man and offered himself up as a sacrifice, to himself, in order to appease himself. However, the ‘sacrifice’ element evades my understanding, given that ‘dying’ doesn’t usually involve coming back to life within 48 hours, with powers greater than ever, (facial morphing ability, bodily intangibility, teleportation ability, and finally — flight!), and then taking off to the stars to become a God for all eternity. With that in mind, the crucifixion/resurrection scenario comes across as much more of a self-imposed transaction rather than a sacrifice. A wise man once said, “At least when Elvis died for my sins, he stayed dead.” ”

Simmonds has a bachelor’s in Theology and butchers the Trinity like this? No one worth their weight in salt in knowledge of the Trinity would phrase it this way. In fact, the Philippian hymn states that before the incarnation Christ had the form of God and did not became a deity. Furthermore, once Jesus offered the sacrifice to God, God was free to do with it what He wanted. My own writing on this can be found here. It is odd that she complains that we didn’t ask for the sacrifice of Jesus. So what? She complains that God sends people to Hell and then when God does something to solve that, she complains about that too saying “We didn’t ask for this!”

She goes on to say “But even this so-called sacrifice wasn’t good enough given that there are too many predestination passages in the Bible to ignore. Simply laughing out loud saying, “Ha, ha, Tanya is a Calvinist” does nothing to address this issue. I’m not a Calvinist in the least. My opinion is that Calvinism is evil too, which brings me to my next point.”

Let’s suppose this is true. If it is true, then oh well. It is dealt with by accepting it. Reality doesn’t change based on what we like. I don’t think her stance is true, but if it is, then I must deal with it. Saying “unfair!” will not change it.

Simmonds goes on to say “I do not believe that the Bible is representative of the truth because I have no reason to believe that it is. But what if a person does believe it? There is a clear distinction between believing something to be true, and WISHING it to be true. I believe that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were real people. I believe that the UK is currently suffering its worse financial recession since the 1940s. But that doesn’t mean that I desire them. To wish Christianity to be true is to wish to live as an abject slave to an unconquerable tyrannical dictator, from whom there is absolutely no escape. The moral, sound-minded believer would not wish for this. Rather, he/she would be traumatized by it.”

Considering the poor study done thus far, I’m not surprised, and if Christianity was what Simmonds says it is, I would also not be surprised to hear she doesn’t like it. I wouldn’t like it either. Yet this is not what Christianity is. Christianity is about God’s solving the problem of evil through the work of Israel most exemplified in the ultimate Israel, Jesus Christ, and his reigning as king restoring the world to rights.

Simmonds again continues with “Christianity, through fear and credulity, enslaves the minds of so very many, forcing them into a position where they must become joyous about sacrificing their fundamental freedoms in deference to it. We live in a democracy that provides freedom of choice. “Find Jesus or he will send you to Hell” is the very antithesis of choice. One cannot morally reside in, and enjoy the privileges laid down by that democracy, whilst simultaneously endorsing tyranny, and using coercive persuasion to pressure others into doing likewise.”

Freedom of choice does not mean freedom to choose consequences. In fact, there are some freedoms I do not have. I am not free to murder. If I make that choice, the police will make a choice to respond. The purpose of freedom is to enable us to be good, and that is a freedom Christ brings. It is not “Choose me or Hell!” It is “You are on death row now. Choose me and I’ll get you out!” If Simmonds wants to know what someone goes to Hell for, I’ll tell her.

You go to Hell for your works.

You do not go to Hell for not believing in Jesus.

Now Jesus is the antidote of course. If you believe in Jesus, God judges your salvation based on the work of Christ. If not, God judges you based on your works, and those most be absolutely perfect. If they are not, then you are guilty of divine treason.

In fact, Simmonds has been railing against the God of Christianity for some time. Is she saying if He was real, she would actually want to spend eternity in His presence? If not, then she is freely choosing the alternative. If so, then why does she want to do that after death, but not before?

Not only that, Hell was not really mentioned in the early Christian teaching that often. In a Jewish milleu where the doctrine was known, it was mentioned often, but in the Pauline epistles, there is hardly anything. It’s a strong topic in modern fundamentalist evangelism, but not in the NT.

Simmonds then says “Deep down, I think you know this, and rather than face it, you find yourselves hell-bent on trying to discredit me at every opportunity. Well, you won’t discredit me, as long as reason prevails in our world.”

If Simmonds wishes to point to what her opponents know, she should ascertain that they do. I know of no such thing. I find her case quite flimsy.

Simmonds “Yes, I have a foul temper! It is the passion within that drives me. Spartacus and Boudicca had a similar temperament, as did William Wallace. All were branded as criminals by those whom they fought against.”

So what? I think of the biblical passage about zeal in accordance with knowledge. Simmonds has zeal. No doubt. She does not have knowledge.

Simmonds ends with “But history recalls them as heroes and legends.

I dare you to publish this essay.

Tanya”

I do not see anything in this essay that I consider a serious challenge and wonder why it was a dare to publish it. I instead see a case study in fundamentalist atheism. Let this be a warning to the church. When we do not teach proper education and study, then young people that fall away become like Simmonds.

Do we really want more of that?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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50 Responses to “Tanya Simmonds and Fundamentalist Atheism”

  1. John D. Miller Says:

    I stopped reading after about 40%.

    This kind of text is definitely not for me.

  2. ChazIng Says:

    It would seem that her theology degree was from a liberal institution. Sadly, there are those who claim to be Christian and also display simplistic theology.

  3. Joe Foster Says:

    “Imagine my shock!” “Imagine my shock!” “Imagine my shock!” Lots of drama there, but precious little scholarship, and even less common sense. For a Christian to swallow whole this aged and worm-eaten atheistic argument, is an exercise in almost unbelievable gullibility. What we have is 100% argument from outrage, nothing more. But Ms. Simmonds does perform one valuable service. She demonstrates the truth of Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21, wherein she is so aptly described by Jesus Himself. Tragic.

  4. Apologetics Inoculation | Deeper Waters Says:

    […] some readers know I recently wrote on the case of Tanya Simmonds that can be found here. The response to what was in her mind a devastating essay by myself and readers was just the […]

  5. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Despite the fact that most of what was presented in that article arose from private emails between myself and another that were then pasted onto TheologyWeb, initially without my consent, I am not going to back down to theocratic terrorists. Your religion is founded upon cruelty and tyranny of the most insidious nature and can only be defended through unfounded hypotheses and ideas not present in the Bible. The fact that it is a collection of absurdities and lies is irrelevant. Defending theocratic atrocity is the first step towards aircraft being flown into skyscrapers, and using hellfire threats to procure followers negates the unlearned person’s right to free choice. Put simply, you are threat to democracy, and I absolutely will not back down to you!

    Yes, I am emotional, which is something that Christians balk at, unsurprisingly. Emotionless heartlessness is the foundation of your religion.

  6. apologianick Says:

    Tanya: Despite the fact that most of what was presented in that article arose from private emails between myself and another that were then pasted onto TheologyWeb, initially without my consent, I am not going to back down to theocratic terrorists.

    Reply: Oh. I see. You dare him to put it up there and when he puts it up there, you complain about it. There’s just no pleasing some people.

    Tanya: Your religion is founded upon cruelty and tyranny of the most insidious nature

    Reply: Yes. That love your neighbor as yourself and belief in the defeat of death. Just tyranny I tell you. Tyranny!

    Tanya: and can only be defended through unfounded hypotheses

    Reply: It would be nice if you provided some evidence of this instead of just assertions. I thought we were supposed to make decisions based on evidence.

    Tanya: and ideas not present in the Bible.

    Reply: You mean like the chapter and verse that condemns masturbation that you go on and on about?

    Tanya: The fact that it is a collection of absurdities and lies is irrelevant.

    Reply: Once again, it would be nice if you would show it. Your case is a pitifully weak one and you just can’t stand that it got blown out of the water. Way too much pride.

    Tanya: Defending theocratic atrocity is the first step towards aircraft being flown into skyscrapers

    Reply: You might want to read some N.T. Wright before you make embarrassing claims about thing you don’t understand.

    Tanya: and using hellfire threats

    Reply: No hellfire here oh whiner. But hey. We know you know all about making threats, especially since your own husband threatened physical violence and you threatened legal action against theologyweb. Ever heard of hypocrisy?

    Tanya: to procure followers negates the unlearned person’s right to free choice.

    Reply: Well you’d know all about being unlearned I suppose.

    Tanya: Put simply, you are threat to democracy, and I absolutely will not back down to you!

    Reply: I’d like it more if you made an actual argument sometime.

    Tanya: Yes, I am emotional, which is something that Christians balk at, unsurprisingly. Emotionless heartlessness is the foundation of your religion.

    Reply: Wait. I thought it was tyranny and cruelty. Which is it?

    And no. I’m not opposed to emotion. I’m opposed to a life out of balance where emotion is all that there is, such as in your case. I’m a good Aristotlean like that.

    But hey, thanks for coming here and showing all my readers exactly what fundamentalist atheism is. You know, all you’re doing is convincing them of how unthinking atheists are.

    • Tanya Simmonds Says:

      Nick,

      Lower down this thread, you will find a lengthy response to your original article. You say that you want something more specific from me, ergo, I have obliged you.

      I must take issue with your claim that my husband threatened physical violence on TheologyWeb. Whilst what he does on his own accord is absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever, what he said on TW were not, in any legal sense, threats. When a man asks another to “Step outside,” it is not a threat. It is an invitation under the Queensbury Rules.

      The legal action I threatened TheologyWeb with was a preventative measure against stalking, which, at the time, seemed likely, judging from the behaviour of some of its members.

      There is no doubt in my mind that you hate me with every fibre of your being, despite your faith forcing you to deny it. I hope that my response to your article will help to alleviate that venom somewhat – or at least lead to a better understanding of my position.

      And please, no more insults. The name-calling game does nothing to help your “Do good to those who despise you” command.

      Tanya

  7. Jimbojsr Says:

    Tanya, you really are barking mad, do you know that? Although I suppose me thinking you’re lacking nonsense makes me some sort of heartless tyrant. Or something.

  8. Jimbojsr Says:

    Lacking = talking

  9. ChazIng Says:

    Your religion is founded upon cruelty and tyranny of the most insidious nature and can only be defended through unfounded hypotheses and ideas not present in the Bible.

    Please list as many examples as you can.

  10. infowarrior1 Says:

    If hell is not torture. Then how can it be called eternal punishment?

  11. apologianick Says:

    It’s torment. Not torture. The pain is the realization of shame.

  12. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Oh, I see the TheologyWeb playground name-callers are here in droves.
    Firstly, you can’t criticize me for these quotes not having academic citations at every other sentence because they weren’t intended to be academic entries. THEY WERE EMAILS illustrating brushstrokes of my position – a position which you are venomously implying that I have absolutely no right to. Well, I’m sorry. But I haven’t read anything here to contradict my position other than, “She’s wrong, she’s mad, she’s xxxxx.” These are not arguments. They’re childish rants, and nothing more.
    Yes, I did dare my adversary to print that last entry, but INITIALLY my private communications were posted absent my consent. I had no issue with TheologyWeb until THEY attacked Me, and it’ll be a fun day at the Vatican before I put up with that!
    If you want to have an academic discussion with me, I am more than willing, but I haven’t seen anything here that demonstrates a mind capable of taking me up on it. Name-calling and sarcasm are your first and only responses.
    You condemn me for being emotional, you insult me for not having clairvoyant ability when I began to study Theology, and you completely disregard the harm I have witnessed at the hands of fundamentalist churches! Can you truly deny that hellfire threats are not actively employed in the televangelist, evangelical sector? What do you suppose the vast majority of the general public who listen to these sermons are supposed to make of them? Are you suggesting that ALL people must become theology experts when they are already reliant and accepting of the ‘expertise’ they hear from the pulpit, with no reason to question it? My knowledge of the Bible transcends that of the average congregation member by a considerable distance, and I do not perceive anything than other than ancient cruelty and unconscionable psychological tyranny in the Bible.
    You imply that it is necessary to know practically every single apologists argument to Bible atrocities, despite the fact that so many of them disagree on individual issues, in which case, why should anyone place any stock in them?
    The baseline claim of believers is that the Bible is the inerrant word of an all-knowing, all-wise being, upon which the eternal salvation of mankind is dependent, and which is for the consumption of the whomsoever – THE WISE AND THE SIMPLE alike!
    If such was true, there would be no requirement for ‘apologists.’
    I find all forms of slavery and provisions for beating slaves unconscionable. I find genocide and infanticide abhorrent. I find the concepts of smashing babies against rocks, raping innocent women as a punishment to their husbands, raping young orphaned virgins as the spoils of war, punishing innocents for the crimes of the guilty generally, cruelty to animals, human sacrifice, and eternal torture/torment (call it what you will) for disbelieving what cannot be proven, during a FINITE lifespan, beyond evil. (All divinely-sanctioned according the Bible!)
    I am not a believer, that much is true. I fight against this because I am sensitive to the suffering of those who DO believe it, and are negatively affected by it. As a starting point, perhaps some of you should consider researching the statistics of gay teenagers who are driven to suicide by Christian preachments and prejudices. By all means, come back on here with cold, heartless, sarcastic remarks on the matter, that you may expose the avarice of the believer’s heart even further.

  13. ChazIng Says:

    Understanding the bible is a long process of slow revelation thus the simple would only be able to grasp simplistic theology.

    Biblical slavery was voluntary servitude [http://christianthinktank.com/qnoslave.html].
    Killing of evil aggressors is not genocide [http://christianthinktank.com/rbutcher1.html, covers infanticide claim].

    Who smashed baby heads against rocks? Where did innocent virgins get raped? What cruelty to animals? What human sacrifice? Whose theology issues hell for “disbelieving what cannot be proven”? What cannot be proven and by what proof method exactly?

    I doubt that there are statistics on homosex teen suicides caused by Christian hate. Perhaps you can assist with said stats and provide verses with exegesis for the other claims.

  14. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    Thank you for at least asking me to explain my position rather than simply jumping in with calling me insane, an idiot, drama queen, or any other of the rather unhelpful terms that seem to be quite popular on here.

    Yes, I am fully aware of the ‘voluntary servitude’ argument regarding slavery, and I do not find it satisfactory. Working off a debt can be viewed as a contract of repayment without denying a human being the right to self-determination, and owning a person as a chattel who can be beaten to death on the provision that he/she survives for one day or two following the beating (Ex: 21:20-21.) Furthermore, much of the slavery in the Bible was not voluntary. The slaves were the spoils of conquest, and could be owned for life and passed on to one’s next of kin, innocent boys and virgins alike.

    Killing the enemy on the battlefield is not genocide, I grant you. However, it becomes genocide when it extends beyond the enemy to the innocents to the extent that an entire people are wiped out, as with the Midianites, the Canaanites, and let’s not forget Jericho.

    Baby smashing occurred allegedly under God’s will. Psalm 137:9 has the psalmist fantasising about this in a prophetic manner about Israelite vengeance against the Babylonians. This is further explored in Isaiah 13:16, where it asserts that God would stir up the Medes in vengeance against them, and it is expressly stated that babies would be dashed against rocks. In Hosea 13:16, cutting open pregnant women and tearing the unborn from their wombs is added to the baby smashing, and included in the general annihilation.

    The moral issue here is not war. It is the Bible’s continuous policy of punishing innocents for the crimes of the guilty. The ‘Sins of the Father’ doctrine is boasted unashamedly, and I can find no justification for this, regardless of historical time period, especially in view of the fact that this God is said to be ‘unchanging’ (Malachi 3:6) and in the Trinitarian sense, that he is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever.’ (Hebrews 13:8).

    The argument that these people were evil and had to be eradicated for the good of all is contradicted on several occasions. I will use one to illustrate my point: Numbers 31:17-18. It reads:

    “Slay all of the men, women and children of the Midianites. Spare only the virgins and take them for yourselves!”

    This passage shows genocide, infanticide, and child rape under divine command. Why child rape, you ask? If you are going to assert that the virgin girls were merely taken to spare them, why not spare the male children too? These infanticide passages are often defended with ‘the children had to be annihilated because they carried the seed of evil.’

    Didn’t the virgins carry this evil too?

    Take into account that at this time, girls were married off between the ages of approximately 9 and 13. If they were virgins, they would have been mere children. Little girls. You may wish to argue the notion that the Israelite soldiers took them to marry them, in which case, I would ask you, what young girl would wish to marry a man she had just witnessed slaughter her mother, father, little brother and older sister? The words “take them for yourselves” shows no margin for the virgin’s consent. You may also wish to consult Numbers 25, which states that it was forbidden for an Israelite to marry a Midianites, under pain of death!

    You will find further endorsements of this ghastly policy in Judges 21:10-24.

    Additional rape passages are 2 Samuel 12:11-14, where David was punished with his wives being given to another to be laid with on broad daylight, for what he had done to Uriah, followed by the death of his infant son (human sacrifice.) Rape was also included in the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem, again under God’s vengeance, in Zech. 14:1-2. When considering rape, one must always be mindful that it is a crime categorised by the absence of consent. No matter which way you may wish to try to justify this, it remains an assertion that one of the most sadistic forms of violation was to be inflicted upon innocents, with divine blessing, for the crimes of others.

    Another example of human sacrifice can be found in Judges 11:31 with the famous legend of Jephthah’s Daughter. Jephthah had petitioned God that if he permitted him to win his battle, he would sacrifice the first thing to come out of his house, and God agreed – knowing ahead of time that the first ‘thing’ to come out of the house would be Jephthah’s daughter. Unlike the story of Abraham and Isaac, (also a sickeningly cruel and immoral tale, in my opinion) God didn’t offer Jephthah a reprieve, and his daughter was sacrificed as a burnt offering.

    Apologetics arguments for these issues are diverse and often contradict one another. One factor they do seem to share, however, is that their positions are not apparent from the Bible itself. They are purely hypotheses that are just as immoral as the passages they seek to defend.

    Given the wealth of archaeological evidence that points strongly towards these tales being utter fiction, I have no reason to actually believe them. However, it does cause me great concern when people not only believe them, but endorse them. This shows that otherwise morally-sound individuals will embrace unconscionable cruelty and immorality if they believe that it is divinely-warranted. This is not a route to a civilized society

    As to what I would consider satisfactory proof of God, considering I have physical senses as a means of assessing reality, and in the absence of any kind of evidence for the Bible’s extraordinary claims, not to mention the 2,500 + other deities who have been worshipped with absolute conviction throughout the ages – an undeniable, visible, audible celestial appearance would be an extremely helpful starting point. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Such is the nature of a rational mind.

    I will endeavour to find you some data, testimonies and statistics on Christianity-based gay suicides and depressions, if you are interested.

    Regards

    Tanya

  15. Jimbojsr Says:

    “If you want to have an academic discussion with me, I am more than willing, but I haven’t seen anything here that demonstrates a mind capable of taking me up on it. Name-calling and sarcasm are your first and only responses.”

    Given that JP Holding has a site of over 1200 articles, and plenty of resources for further scholarly reading on request, this is demonstrably untrue. As I have pointed out several times, you made little effort to engage with the arguments that were offered against you in the Tweb thread; similarly, those of us who were entirely polite and ignored your tone got very little attention from you.

    “You condemn me for being emotional, you insult me for not having clairvoyant ability when I began to study Theology, and you completely disregard the harm I have witnessed at the hands of fundamentalist churches!”

    Incorrect. We condemn you for letting emotion get in your way of assessing the validity of an evidence-based argument (rather like a creationist who, rather than looking at the paleontological evidence for evolution, decides “Social Darwinism sounds evil, therefore evolution must be wrong!”); we express surprise that someone who boasts of a BTh makes some pretty elementary mistakes about the Bible and church history; and whilst we do NOT have a laissez-faire attitude to the crazies within Christianity (quite the opposite, in fact – http://www.tektonics.org/gk/indictment.html , and plenty of Christians feature in the Screwball Award thread) we would expect critics of Christianity to attack theistic arguments in their strongest forms, as recommended by Dan Dennett, no less – http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/19/daniel-dennett-intuition-pumps-thinking-extract .

    “Can you truly deny that hellfire threats are not actively employed in the televangelist, evangelical sector? What do you suppose the vast majority of the general public who listen to these sermons are supposed to make of them?”

    The general public should do some scholarly reading for themselves, get a little bit of education, go and slap said televangelist around the face with solid exigeisis, and get on with their lives. See indictment.html above.

    “Are you suggesting that ALL people must become theology experts when they are already reliant and accepting of the ‘expertise’ they hear from the pulpit, with no reason to question it?”

    It’s not possible for everyone to be an expert in every area (obviously); but surely you aren’t denying the benefits of a person gaining education and a critical mindset?

    “You imply that it is necessary to know practically every single apologists argument to Bible atrocities, despite the fact that so many of them disagree on individual issues, in which case, why should anyone place any stock in them?”

    Oh look, there are conflicting theories on the evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs. Guess that means all of Darwinian evolutionary theory is nonsense, going by your methodology. Rather than knowing every possible argument, perhaps a bit of humility regarding the limits of your own investigation would be appropriate.

    “The baseline claim of believers is that the Bible is the inerrant word of an all-knowing, all-wise being, upon which the eternal salvation of mankind is dependent, and which is for the consumption of the whomsoever – THE WISE AND THE SIMPLE alike!”

    I’m interested, where exactly in the Bible does it say this? In any case, my kid brother could articulate the Gospel in 2 minutes; but like with anything else in this world, the more you put in, the more you get out. Additionally, the bible shows God wanting DISCIPLES, not converts; the clear implication is that a bit of time and effort is expected on our part, so we can grow and flourish.

    “I find all forms of slavery and provisions for beating slaves unconscionable.”

    Good. As it happens. “slavery” in the Bible was so far from our modern concept of slavery (black folk, tobacco plantations, American Deep South etc) that many scholars hesitate to use the word ‘slavery’ to describe the Biblical systems due to the word’s modern connotations (http://christianthinktank.com/qnoslave.html)

    “I find genocide and infanticide abhorrent…”

    Excellent! So does God! http://christianthinktank.com/qamorite.html; http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=deutoronomy%2012:29-31&version=NIV (in stark contrast to many of the other Ancient Near-East cultures of the time)

    “I find the concepts of smashing babies against rocks…”

    Psalm 137 isn’t an endorsement: it’s a cry of anguish, which the ANE mindset wouldn’t take as a literal directive. Read the whole psalm, then see http://www.tektonics.org/af/ancientmores.html .

    “…raping innocent women as a punishment to their husbands…”

    Dunno where you get this from – a reference would be nice…

    “…raping young orphaned virgins as the spoils of war…”

    Raping?! The social contextual data show that this was integration of the girls into the Hebrew population, in order to stop the whole society collapsing. (http://christianthinktank.com/midian.html) If your mind automatically reads sex-mad Israelite child-molesting men into these verses, that’s your problem Tanya.

    “..punishing innocents for the crimes of the guilty generally…”

    …which the ‘innocent’ Ancients themselves wouldn’t have had a problem with. http://www.tektonics.org/af/achanbrachan.html

    “cruelty to animals, human sacrifice…”

    No references given, but see above for human sacrifice.

    “…and eternal torture/torment (call it what you will)”

    I’d call it shame and isolation for people who isolate themselves from God – http://www.tektonics.org/uz/2muchshame.html . The images of burning and wailing are Semitic expressions of shame, not pain; the little red devils with pokers are a medieval artistic invention.

    “for disbelieving what cannot be proven”

    Well, naturally I disagree. What Christian apologetic works defending the historicity of the Resurrection have you dealt with lately?

    “I fight against this because I am sensitive to the suffering of those who DO believe it, and are negatively affected by it.”

    So are we. If someone leaves (say) Westboro Baptist Church in terror and fear, they will find warm fellowship and a sympathetic, listening ear in every church I’ve ever set foot in. Thing is, whenever one of us DOES criticise a Fundie, you say that we “simply abuse anyone who disagrees with us”; if you criticise a Fundie, it’s “freethought”. I suggest you are being inconsistent.

    “By all means, come back on here with cold, heartless, sarcastic remarks on the matter, that you may expose the avarice of the believer’s heart even further.”

    I’ve come here without rhetoric or inflammatory language, and with links to thorough, reasonable arguments which are backed up with data from credentialed scholars. Based on your prior form, I have a feeling you will interact with them at a very shallow level or not at all, when what you should ACTUALLY do is go away, have a think about them, and come back to talk with us minus your angst and vitriol – then you’ll be treated with respect, as was pointed out NUMEROUS times to you on TWeb.

  16. apologianick Says:

    Aside from Jimbo, I do not think anyone else posting here is from TheologyWeb. It’s beyond Tanya’s thinking that maybe people react to her because of the way she acts. What I have seen is that I have made a reply to her point by point and have not had that dealt with at all. Instead, there was given an even longer rant of the same nature. What do I gather from this?

    #1-I gather that people like Chaz and Jimbo can just fine answer Tanya here and it’s a waste of my time for me to do so when she offers basic objections that I think Middle Schoolers could answer just fine. My time is better spent on my own studies and my own writing and being a good husband and other such endeavors.

    #2-Tanya complains about how she is treated, but she does not get that she will not be coddled around here. Tanya is used to getting pity to win her case, forgetting that Aristotle has said pathos is not enough to win an argument. One must have reason. Tanya has none. Her whole case boils down to “I don’t like it.” None of this gives a historical argument to show Jesus did not rise from the dead. Also in all of this, Tanya ignores the fact that her own husband threatened physical violence and that she herself threatened legal action on TheologyWeb.

    #3-Tanya’s inability to interact shows she is not really interested in rational discussion despite what she claims. She is stuck on her own emotional reaction and loves that emotional reaction. Despite her claims of sexual issues not being important, she brings up numerous passages with what, sexual issues.

    #4-Tanya being here and complaining about if we expect the church to study just illustrates my point. Readers of my blog know that I’ve spent numerous blogs arguing about lack of education in the church. Despite her claims, I am not anti-emotional, but I am for balance. Tanya leans way too heavily on the emotional side and in the end, becomes with that the bully she claims to despise when people don’t baby her. If I get a threat from this as was given on TWeb, it will only prove my point further.

    THe rest of you please feel free to play with Tanya. I will stick to writing the main blogs so many of you have come to appreciate and enjoy.

  17. ChazIng Says:

    Context, context, context. I think of (much of) the OT as God’s permissive will, not his ideal will. So when you see the word slavery, while it is easy to think enslavement, if the ANE people voluntary gave themselves to serve others to pay off a debt, this is natural and beneficial in poor ANE societies. Ex 21:20-21 shows that this slavery was not like our present chattel slavery as the master was liable to the state for the treatment of all his slaves. While ‘spoils of war’ slaves could be owned in perpetuity, this did not mean they were to be abused. Rather, they also observed the weekly sabbath rest and if I recall correctly, they were allowed to marry into the master’s family. It might be clearer if you think of these spoils of war as being mercifully assimilated, they had little viable means of self-determination which would result in continual survival.

    Logistically, the claim that ALL Caananites and Midianites (and Jericho inhabitants) were killed is false. All Midianites would not be in one place, there would be remnants (possibly quite numerous) in different places even after the divine commanded judgment on the main group. The family of the Caananite prostitute Rahab was also incorporated into Israel.

    The Hebrews did not smash baby heads NOR does this practice have God’s blessing. The psalmist is simply stating his desire for his oppressors to be similarly oppressed. “Little ones” does not ONLY mean babies. You seem to only view God as a kind Westernized God. The God of the bible is an Eastern God of kindness AND justice. The psalmist is only echoing what will happen to others as a result of their own doing i.e. the law of divine retribution. Nowhere is it stated that it actually happened so this is NOT prophetic per se but simply a psalm. Isaiah IS prophetic but does not have the connotations you wish to append, namely that God approved of all Mede actions. It is as if you are blaming God for what was natural (non-Hebrew) war practice or think that he was puppeteering them. God only allowed the Medes to punish Babylon and they naturally did the rest. Be angry with the Medes (Kurds), not God. Hosea 13:16 is the same, God’s justice demands judgment and he permits it against Samaria. Parts of how it occur is stated. Again, blame the Samarians for sinning. Additionally, the death of children would be in many cases merciful given the ANE econo-geo-political climate and they get into heaven. Again, not ideal but the ‘best’ that could occur to satisfy judgment, stop oppression by the original oppressor and give children salvation which would otherwise not be available if they grew into adulthood in their pagan cultures.

  18. ChazIng Says:

    The bible does not have a “continuous policy of punishing innocents for the crimes of the guilty.” According to the bible, even babies are born in sin. This is a legal individualization concept that is only applicable to those under NT grace. Thus, you cannot fault the OT for that which it could not provide i.e. full individual punishment. The sins of the fathers refers to iniquity (generational sins) which make sense since Adam sinned before having children. Sin thus infected Adam’s spiritual DNA and he reproduced sinful descendants. Note that it is only those who ‘hate God’ that initiate that generational curse. Mal 3:6 has a second part which refutes your interpretation. Rather God is saying that he is unchanging so that Jacob’s descendants be not consumed by judgment for their iniquity. God’s laws do not change but they can be superseded (NT overrides some aspects of the OT) and he loves being reasoned with (“come let us reason together”) as if he were a judge.

    Num 31: 17-18 does NOT show genocide but judgment (as God’s justice demands) after long periods of Midianite iniquity. It shows selective judgment on male infants/boys which as stated earlier, would have been practical given judgment requirements and salvation (among other issues). There was no rape mentioned. Rather, the female virgins would be taken as servants and when of age, possibly married into these families (beneficial assimilation). You are reading too much into the text. The males are not spared because they would be more likely to perpetuate their father’s iniquity when grown, i.e. a stop to a sinful lineage (recall: iniquity generates a curse onto the 4th generation). Also, males are more likely to be disobedient (and thus return to ancestral sins) like Adam who willfully sinned while Eve was deceived [other view here: http://www.rationalchristianity.net/numbers31.html%5D. Num 25 does not state that it is unlawful to marry any Midianite, the bible is clear that it is not anti-any ethnic group but anti-the pagan practices of said group. As for Judges 21: 10-24, you forgot to read verse 25 which tells you that what they did was not authorized by God …. “everyone did what was right in his OWN eyes”.

  19. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Jimbojsr,

    TheologyWeb attacked me first, and I responded with relatively civility. I was then subjected to a barrage of hate-filled sarcasm and abuse, which, in turn, gave me absolute licence to respond in kind. What tipped me over the edge was when I was doubly attacked for striking back – as though I was supposed to stand there and take it!

    The abuse was so excessive and came from so many that any academic contributions became largely lost in the storm, and I do have a life to lead outside of this. Your comments are so relentlessly hostile and wolf-pack-like, that it is completely unreasonable to expect your target to respond to each one. All I could see was venom and personal insults. You create that emotion in me and then condemn me for showing it. Can you honestly be morally serious with this position?

    “The general public should do some scholarly reading for themselves, get a little bit of education, go and slap said televangelist around the face with solid exigeisis, and get on with their lives.”

    Why should the general public do scholarly reading when they are raised to believe that all they need to know comes from the pulpit? Before one seeks out further elucidation, one must first be given a reason to believe that they don’t already have it. Your demand is therefore grossly unreasonable.

    “Oh look, there are conflicting theories on the evolutionary relationship between birds and dinosaurs. Guess that means all of Darwinian evolutionary theory is nonsense, going by your methodology. Rather than knowing every possible argument, perhaps a bit of humility regarding the limits of your own investigation would be appropriate.”

    How does that in any way address the fact that apologists concoct unsubstantiated hypotheses and academic spin which very often contradicts? Which hypotheses is one to know is right?

    “Good. As it happens. “slavery” in the Bible was so far from our modern concept of slavery (black folk, tobacco plantations, American Deep South etc) that many scholars hesitate to use the word ‘slavery’ to describe the Biblical systems due to the word’s modern connotations.”

    Yes, I’ve read all of the excuses and I find them unsatisfactory. DEAL WITH IT!

    I gave you citations for biblical rape, and I explained the mechanics and definition of rape for you to take into account before you deny it.

    I expressly stated that Psalm 137:9 was a fantasy of vengeance, which was also illustrated as prophetic reality in Isaiah 13:16 and Hosea 13:16.

    It is apparent that you haven’t read my latest post here. I suggest that you do so and then come back and attack me.

    Tanya

  20. ChazIng Says:

    2 Sam 12:11-14 represents God’s judgment on David fulfilled through Absalom [ http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/2-samuel-12-11.html ]. There is no data on whether these concubines were raped or willing. Again, reading into the text that which is not there. There is no form of logic that can call a child dying because of the sin of his father as a “human sacrifice.” Else we would all be human sacrifices as we die spiritually and physically for the sins of our father Adam. Zech 14: 1-2 is judgment, not God’s perfect will. There was no “divine blessing, for the crimes of others.” That’s way off base and indicative of liberal anti-Christian theology. In Judges 11:31, notice that Jephthah’s daughter accepted her fate. This shows how important vows are to God and should not be made lightly. Why should God offer a reprieve if Jephthah made the vow and not God? Abraham’s obedience allowed God to reciprocate in offering up his own son as a sacrifice for the sins of all humans, making it possible for all to reconnect spiritually with God and ushering in the law of grace where the temple veil that separated God from man was torn. It is only because of this act that you have the NT which paved the way for western freedoms which YOU personally enjoy even at this very moment. You should be thanking Abraham and the willing Isaac for their blessings to you. Methinks you have been conned into a theological education taught by pagans fronting as Christians.

    What wealth of archaeological evidence? Which Christian group advocates OT law practices? Which Christians exactly are raping and sacrificing pagans today? You claim to have “physical senses as a means of assessing reality.” However, please explain why that axiom is valid. How do you know that your mind is not the product of the dream of Brahman? How do you know we are all not under mass delusion that we are rational? Why would an “undeniable, visible, audible celestial appearance” only be “an extremely helpful starting point”? What does the bible say about those who are always seeking signs? Didn’t the Hebrews worship a gold calf even though they saw multiple visible signs of God on Mt. Sinai (and even before that, pillar of cloud, fire, manna)? Why would you be different? How can spirit issues be analyzed by simplsitic fleshly metrics? Contra the mantra on extraordinary claims, all claims only require sufficient evidence. What evidence does the bible offer for its veracity?

  21. ChazIng Says:

    Statistics on reasons for homosex suicides has never been collected as far as I am aware. However, even if you could provide data showing high Christian persecution of homosexuals leading to suicides, that would not answer the main issue: is homosexuality natural and beneficial (physically and morally) for the individual and the state?

    Anyway, you don’t seem to have a macro view of the world and culture of the bible and thus your micro issues are skewed according to your western present-day context. One should not read the bible with a Western mindset. Rather, a verse by verse commentary (e.g. Keil and Delitzsch) will aid a lot. To me, you don’t seem to understand the primary concepts of sin, divine justice, divine will, permissive will, human choice (free will), iniquity, blessing and curses, the difference between law and grace (OT vs NT). I would highly suggest taking a certificate or diploma course from a conservative bible school [or better yet, Grundem’s Systematic Theology] if you want to understand better those whose views you think are abhorrent. [I have not read Jimbojsr’s post to hopefully present a different view on these topics].

  22. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    “Context, context, context. I think of (much of) the OT as God’s permissive will, not his ideal will. So when you see the word slavery, while it is easy to think enslavement, if the ANE people voluntary gave themselves to serve others to pay off a debt, this is natural and beneficial in poor ANE societies. Ex 21:20-21 shows that this slavery was not like our present chattel slavery as the master was liable to the state for the treatment of all his slaves. While ‘spoils of war’ slaves could be owned in perpetuity, this did not mean they were to be abused. Rather, they also observed the weekly sabbath rest and if I recall correctly, they were allowed to marry into the master’s family. It might be clearer if you think of these spoils of war as being mercifully assimilated, they had little viable means of self-determination which would result in continual survival.”

    No, I feel very strongly that I have a full understanding of the context. I simply don’t see it as moral. No matter which way you look at Exodus 21:20-21, it is still an endorsement that a human being can be owned as property, and that there shall be no penalty to the slave owner if the slave survives the beating/recovers from it, within a couple of days. That is a provision for beating slaves with the utmost severity. When slaves can be passed on to the slave owner’s next of kin, THAT is property ownership. Chattel!

    “Logistically, the claim that ALL Caananites and Midianites (and Jericho inhabitants) were killed is false. All Midianites would not be in one place, there would be remnants (possibly quite numerous) in different places even after the divine commanded judgment on the main group. The family of the Caananite prostitute Rahab was also incorporated into Israel.”

    How many Midianite virgins were enslaved? 20,000? And they were just the virgins. Despite the fact that the population at that time does not allow for such a number in reality, it is pretty clear that the intention here was to illustrate the Midianite race as being ‘wiped out.’ The Jews were also subjected to a Holocaust during WW2, but they still exist.

    “Little ones” does not ONLY mean babies. You seem to only view God as a kind Westernized God.”

    So, what is the reasonable reader supposed to infer by the term ‘little ones’? Dwarves and Midgets? ‘Not only’ does not remove babies from the picture either, does it? What makes you think you know that ‘little ones’ doesn’t just mean babies? It was a rather sweeping statement on your part, and not explained in the least.

    With regards to the Medes, I find your hypothesis to be rich in wishful thinking. You say that the Medes actions were not of God’s will, and then you say that God ‘allowed’ them to (or planned to allow them) to commit this atrocity. In actuality, it says (as the voice of God) “I will stir up the Medes…” thereby demonstrating intentional influence toward this end.

    “Hosea 13:16 is the same, God’s justice demands judgment and he permits it against Samaria. Parts of how it occur is stated. Again, blame the Samarians for sinning. Additionally, the death of children would be in many cases merciful given the ANE econo-geo-political climate and they get into heaven.”

    I can’t even begin to tell you how disturbing I find statements such as this. During the Crusades, the Knights Templar took the same approach when they slaughtered and cannibalized Muslim babies. It was deemed acceptable because they believed that the babies would go to heaven. This mindset is the founder of religious extremism and one which is embraced by the Jihadists. This is not morality. It is embracing Bronze Age savagery and making excuses for it in our far more civilized, enlightened era, and to our detriment.

    Tanya

  23. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    “2 Sam 12:11-14 represents God’s judgment on David fulfilled through Absalom [ http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/2-samuel-12-11.html ]. There is no data on whether these concubines were raped or willing. Again, reading into the text that which is not there.”

    Are you being serious? “I will give your wives to another, and he will lie with them in broad daylight?” What degree of consent do you think is being inferred by the word, ‘give.’

    “There is no form of logic that can call a child dying because of the sin of his father as a “human sacrifice.””

    There is when it is illustrated as a pre-determined divine act!

    “Else we would all be human sacrifices as we die spiritually and physically for the sins of our father Adam.”

    Clearly, I have no belief that Adam actually existed, but what an absolutely horrendous idea of existence you endorse.

    “Zech 14: 1-2 is judgment, not God’s perfect will.”

    It begins, “On the terrible day of the Lord.” If it was his judgement, it was obviously his will. However, it certainly wasn’t justice in the moral sense.

    “There was no “divine blessing, for the crimes of others.” That’s way off base and indicative of liberal anti-Christian theology. In Judges 11:31, notice that Jephthah’s daughter accepted her fate. This shows how important vows are to God and should not be made lightly. Why should God offer a reprieve if Jephthah made the vow and not God?”

    I didn’t say ‘divine blessing’ for the crimes of others. I said, “Punishing innocents for the crimes of others.” Re: Jephthah’s daughter accepting her fate, may I ask, did she have any choice? And indeed, why should God offer a reprieve if Jephthah made the vow? Fine. Just don’t tell me that he is a God of omnibenevolent, unconditional love, compassion and great kindness. He accepted the vow KNOWING AHEAD OF TIME what the outcome would be.

    “Abraham’s obedience allowed God to reciprocate in offering up his own son as a sacrifice for the sins of all humans, making it possible for all to reconnect spiritually with God and ushering in the law of grace where the temple veil that separated God from man was torn. It is only because of this act that you have the NT which paved the way for western freedoms which YOU personally enjoy even at this very moment.”

    That is utter nonsense. Western freedoms today arise from secular humanism, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, not religion. Perhaps you should look through history and see the kind of culture the West offered when it was under church rule (torture and execution for heretical disbelief, hanging, flogging, burning people alive, hanging drawing and quartering, inquisitions, it was utterly charming.)

    “You should be thanking Abraham and the willing Isaac for their blessings to you. Methinks you have been conned into a theological education taught by pagans fronting as Christians.”

    No, I was educated by impartial tutors. Unlike most, I thought for myself. And – where does it say that Isaac was willing?

    “What wealth of archaeological evidence? Which Christian group advocates OT law practices? Which Christians exactly are raping and sacrificing pagans today? You claim to have “physical senses as a means of assessing reality.” However, please explain why that axiom is valid.”

    You should look up the scholarly reports on the archaeology of the Exodus. You’ll even find many references of Wiki, if you’d like a quick overview. It never happened.

    The law of the SECULAR land prohibits OT law from being practiced. Are you condemning me for having a requirement that evidence of an extraordinary claim be presented before my senses? If so, perhaps I should believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy also. I know – the Bible was ‘written.’ So were the Trials of Hercules.

    “How do you know that your mind is not the product of the dream of Brahman? How do you know we are all not under mass delusion that we are rational?”

    Why don’t you ask yourself the same question?

    “Why would an “undeniable, visible, audible celestial appearance” only be “an extremely helpful starting point”? What does the bible say about those who are always seeking signs? Didn’t the Hebrews worship a gold calf even though they saw multiple visible signs of God on Mt. Sinai (and even before that, pillar of cloud, fire, manna)? Why would you be different? How can spirit issues be analyzed by simplsitic fleshly metrics? Contra the mantra on extraordinary claims, all claims only require sufficient evidence. What evidence does the bible offer for its veracity?”

    I’m not seeking ‘signs.’ Signs can be taken any way one wishes to take them. Put yourself in my place. If someone told you that the Frost Giants of Valhalla were going to freeze you in ice for all eternity if you don’t believe and worship them, what evidence would you need? What would you think if millions of people believed that very thing and were imploring you to believe it; becoming contentious towards you because you didn’t?

  24. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    “Anyway, you don’t seem to have a macro view of the world and culture of the bible and thus your micro issues are skewed according to your western present-day context.”

    That is extremely condescending.

    “One should not read the bible with a Western mindset. Rather, a verse by verse commentary (e.g. Keil and Delitzsch) will aid a lot. To me, you don’t seem to understand the primary concepts of sin, divine justice, divine will, permissive will, human choice (free will), iniquity, blessing and curses, the difference between law and grace (OT vs NT).”

    I understand perfectly the meaning of ‘sin.’ It is a totalitarian control mechanism designed to keep people in a state of guilt, submission and fear, by focusing upon largely trivial issues over which they have no control and are subject to independent of their own request. I fully appreciate that you do not believe that I have the right to disagree with you, but guess what? – I DO!

    I would highly suggest taking a certificate or diploma course from a conservative bible school [or better yet, Grundem’s Systematic Theology] if you want to understand better those whose views you think are abhorrent. [I have not read Jimbojsr’s post to hopefully present a different view on these topics].

    I have read your views on these topics and I find them utterly abhorrent. I have no wish to share your position, because I have far too much compassion and reason for that.

  25. ChazIng Says:

    Ms Simmonds, you suffer from a very literalistic reading of the bible which belies your theological training. Have you gone to the original language and read the commentaries? I don’t think you have.

    Just don’t tell me that he is a God of omnibenevolent, unconditional love, compassion and great kindness.

    I am not saying that. I explicitly stated that he is ALSO a God of justice which is the aspect that you find repulsive.

    You should look up the scholarly reports on the archaeology of the Exodus. You’ll even find many references of Wiki, if you’d like a quick overview. It never happened.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And even if there was conclusive evidence that the Exodus did not occur, that would only negate one version of biblical interpretation. Also, archaeology is a soft interpretative science, not a hard science. It can at best make arguments for but never test its interpretation.

    Why don’t you ask yourself the same question?

    Hahaha, you funny!

    Ms Simmonds, please answer the following question as it will aid you in understanding where I am coming from: What evidence does the bible offer for its veracity? The obvious follow up is: Which ones have you personally evaluated?

  26. ChazIng Says:

    That is extremely condescending.

    I’m an engineer, it comes naturally.

    I fully appreciate that you do not believe that I have the right to disagree with you, …

    You fully appreciate that which I did not say?

    I have read your views on these topics and I find them utterly abhorrent. I have no wish to share your position, because I have far too much compassion and reason for that.

    I see, then your “compassion and reason” should have also alerted you to the dangers of associating even in emails with those at TheologyWeb and would further contradict your posting on this blog.

    More importantly, the message of the gospel is that God himself came to suffer for your sins and offers freely his salvation, peace and righteousness so as to save us from his dreadful justice. I would think that “compassion and reason” would demand a realistic evaluation of this offer. I pray you do too.

  27. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    “Ms Simmonds, you suffer from a very literalistic reading of the bible which belies your theological training. Have you gone to the original language and read the commentaries? I don’t think you have.”

    Yes, indeed I have, and the bottom line is that all translations point to extremely similar meanings to those that appear prima facie, or meanings that are conducive to a primitive culture and would be considered, not only immoral, but ILLEGAL, in the Western world today. This is compounded by the fact that it asserts that this lifestyle was commanded by God and that he is unchanging, which would mean that he would not approve of our far more benign and compassionate approach to life as it is today. You have given me your apologia on many of my points of objection, and all you have succeeded in doing is affirming my position. Those who are unable to present an argument to me simply become contentious, ergo, I have absolutely no reason to move from my position.

    “Just don’t tell me that he is a God of omnibenevolent, unconditional love, compassion and great kindness.

    I am not saying that. I explicitly stated that he is ALSO a God of justice which is the aspect that you find repulsive.”

    Tormenting/torturing someone eternally for the shortcomings of a FINITE life is the very antithesis of justice. Even the Qur’an doesn’t acknowledge an eternal Hell. Bludgeoning unruly children to death with rocks, along with homosexuals, adulterers, and anyone who does anything at all on the Sabbath, is not justice. It’s extreme sadism and draconian tyranny. Besides that, you also assert (or attempt to) that God is merciful, correct? Well, in that case, you have yourself caught in an oxymoron. Mercy, by definition, is the suspension of justice. One cannot be merciful and just simultaneously. It’s like saying “It’s a square circle.”

    “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And even if there was conclusive evidence that the Exodus did not occur, that would only negate one version of biblical interpretation. Also, archaeology is a soft interpretative science, not a hard science. It can at best make arguments for but never test its interpretation.”

    The conclusions on the Exodus are fairly conclusive, and the evidence that it never happened is overwhelming (Dever, p.99, 2001). An entire nation of people roaming the Sinai desert for forty years without leaving a trace of evidence, no mention of these events outside of the Torah, and the discovery of tangible evidence of a very different origin of the Israelites should be sufficient red flags to raise the eyebrows of even the most determined believer. The Exodus story leads, chronologically, to all that came after it. If the starting point is fiction, then the entire house of cards collapses.

    “Ms Simmonds, please answer the following question as it will aid you in understanding where I am coming from: What evidence does the bible offer for its veracity? The obvious follow up is: Which ones have you personally evaluated?”

    The Bible is a book consisting of 66 entries which arose from copies of copies of translations of copies from originals by anonymous, falsely-ascribed authors, and which today contain known interpolations. No originals of the New Testament documents exist for examination, their claims are utterly absurd, and not a word about the vast majority of it’s outrageous claims is to be found outside of the Bible? There isn’t even any actual proof of Jesus. This is not to say that I am a Jesus mythicist, far from it. On the balance of probabilities, I strongly suspect that the biblical character Jesus was loosely based on an actual living person, but one who was so unremarkable that independent history records are silent on him. (Yes, I’m more than happy to go into Josephus and Tacitus with you if you wish.) All other so-called extra-biblical evidence for Jesus only actually reference the early Christians. This is not evidence for Jesus. We have early documents chronicling the exploits of the Vikings and their beliefs. This does not prove the existence of Odin and Thor.

    Very few of the Old Testament incidents have been established by archaeology, with many discoveries actually contradicting its claims. It all comes down to my starting point – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What we have for much of this is, in fact, evidence to the contrary. (Thankfully).

    Tanya

  28. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    “I see, then your “compassion and reason” should have also alerted you to the dangers of associating even in emails with those at TheologyWeb and would further contradict your posting on this blog.”

    I don’t quite grasp your meaning. My compassion and reason have nothing to do with this. TheologyWeb attacked me, and I simply responded. From there, it became a school playground of thugs attempting to humiliate me with name-calling. I had every right to strike back. Similarly, on this blog, I discovered the extremely long essay about me that you will note above, which, naturally, I was compelled to counter.

    I will say, however, for as much of an idiot as they are accusing me of being, they are spending a considerable amount of time trying to discredit me, which would not be the approach of people who truly believe that I am an imbecile with no valid case. It is blatantly obvious that I have touched a very raw nerve.

    “More importantly, the message of the gospel is that God himself came to suffer for your sins and offers freely his salvation, peace and righteousness so as to save us from his dreadful justice. I would think that “compassion and reason” would demand a realistic evaluation of this offer. I pray you do too.”

    As much as I am loathe to plagiarize myself, I feel that my position on this issue was illustrated quite clearly thus:

    ‘At baseline, [Christianity] is an assertion that there is an all-powerful cosmic being who created us all, and gave us each incredibly powerful survival instincts, independent of our own request. He threw all of the rules in opposition to those instincts, and then demanded sullen woe from each of us every time we fail to uphold these cruel directives. I’m not talking about murder, theft, or actions which infringe upon the rights of others. I am talking about the most basic of fundamental freedoms. It expressly states that we have no right to our own bodies, no right to our own individual personalities and interests, and no right to our own thoughts. It asserts that we are under surveillance around the clock, and that we can be convicted for even what goes through our minds, and will be cast into eternal torture, lest we spend our lives beating ourselves up about it (repenting.)

    This is the very definition of tyranny!

    Its apparent get-out clause is the insidious concept of vicarious redemption, through a brutal and sadistic human sacrifice (that none of us asked for) where this God transformed himself into a man and offered himself up as a sacrifice, to himself, in order to appease himself.

    However, the ‘sacrifice’ element evades my understanding, given that ‘death’ doesn’t usually involve coming back to life within 48 hours, with powers greater than ever, (facial morphing ability, bodily intangibility, teleportation ability, and finally – flight!), and then taking off to the stars to live as a God for all eternity. With that in mind, the crucifixion/resurrection scenario comes across as much more of a self-imposed transaction rather than a sacrifice.’

    That is how I see this. It is a brutal, irrational, and utterly absurd belief system which has caused untold harm to so very many. The offence my words cause Christians to feel is largely down to the fact that people find it difficult to tolerate those who disagree with them. It is ironic that the vast majority of them would find the beliefs of Christians intolerable had they been born and raised in Afghanistan. Their mindset is entirely a product of social conditioning, conducive with the culture they were, by an absolute fluke of chance, born into.

    Tanya

  29. ChazIng Says:

    As I awoke, this verse came to mind concerning your posts: Gal 5:11.

    And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

    As I see it, you are fulfilling the ‘offense of the cross,’ i.e. being offended by Christianity.

    My other issue with you is that you don’t want to fully embrace all that reason would entail. Imagine a creationist saying that evolution was offensive yet they could not properly explain what was evolution, describe its mechanism(s) nor discuss its philosophical ramifications. Evolutionists would laugh and ridicule (as they do anyway) and you would rightly join them.

    Reason demands that you evaluate the claims of the cross despite its offense. What we have been trying to say (including and despite what you consider to be offense), is that your hermeneutics is atheistic and does not accurately represent any Christian theological tradition, thus you are in a poor position to critique.

    So once again:

    More importantly, the message of the gospel is that God himself came to suffer for your sins and offers freely his salvation, peace and righteousness so as to save us from his dreadful justice. I would think that “compassion and reason” would demand a realistic evaluation of this offer. I pray you do too.

  30. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    I’m not so much ‘offended’ by the cross as I am disturbed by what a wonderful thing so many appear to believe it is. It is the idolization of torture, and a particular type of torture that many freedom fighters of the ancient world endured. People seem to forget that when they refer to the crucifixion of Jesus as THE crucifixion, it is as though they are implying that he was the only man that this happened to. It makes very little sense to me that this God, whom Christians are so keen to illustrate as kind, loving, omnibenevolent and unconditionally forgiving, is described as a being who is utterly obsessed with torture and violence as a means of satisfying those ends. Would not a simple, “I forgive you” suffice?

    I have, indeed, evaluated the message of the cross, but given that I do not buy into the notion of ‘sin’ in this context, it all seems rather arbitrary to me. I have expressed my abhorrence for the atrocities the Bible claims were committed at the behest of God, and I must ask – what ‘sins’ have any of us committed that come even close to such barbarism? We are commanded, under pain of eternal torture, to forgive our enemies, absent permission to apply our own retribution against them. Why does the author of this proscription not take his own advice? The message seems to be, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    I am still a little in the dark about what your own position is. Are you a fundamentalist? A new earth creationist? Or do you accept evolution? What origin point are you coming from?

    Tanya

  31. ChazIng Says:

    Well if your evaluation leaves you only with the notion of ‘arbitrary,’ there is little else I can say to change your mind. I am a religious creationist but a scientific fundamentalist. Thus I cannot accept the standard evolutionary model though I don’t necessarily view the YEC model as correct either. My views can be better understood from comments here: http://thebibleistheotherside.wordpress.com/

    I think your problem is that you want the bible to be logical to you in your present western modern context. If that is the case, the cross will most likely never make sense. So my point above is that to me you look like a creationist almost begging for ridicule because you have not taken the time to fully immerse yourself in the basics of evolution. Your image of God as a sadist cannot be sustained if you understand the OT-NT difference, dispensation of grace and divine justice. I stand firm in saying that you are reading into the text your own personal context and interpretation which is improper if you want to scholarly assess the bible.

  32. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    From what I could gather from that, you are uncertain as to the actual nature of the origin of life? The link you gave me seemed to be a collection of comments that existed purely to be cynical towards ANY scientific proposition in this area. However, evolution is not a hypothesis. It is a fact, as shown by its relentless series of affirmations through demonstrable testing, peer-review and observable verifications, not to mention the extent to which modern medicine has benefited from it.

    And no, you are wrong. I am not interested in the Bible becoming compliant with modern Western sensibilities. In fact, it angers the hell out of me when I view new editions of it that do exactly that. It is dishonest, and utterly pathetic!

    There is only one difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, as far as I can tell: the New Testament is far crueller, and far more tyrannical. As recommending of slavery, rape, genocide, infanticide and torture as the OT is, there is no punishment of the dead. Once the earth has closed over you, you’re done! The New Testament introduces the idea of eternal torture after death, and with absolute endorsement of the concept, enforces thought crime (Matt: 5:20-30 – the most totalitarian idea imaginable), seeks to decimate families (Luke 14, et al), denies you the right to your own body (1 Cor. 6:18-20), encourages castration and arbitrary celibacy (Matt 19:12; Col. 3:5), instructs slaves to actually enjoy the abuse their masters inflict upon them (1 Peter 2:19-21), and impliedly orders believers to slay non-believers (Luke 19:27 – please don’t give me the, ‘It’s only a parable’ BS. Jesus was using a hypothetical tyrant king as a metaphor for himself.)

    I am a citizen of a Western democracy. It is my moral viewpoint that the Bible belongs to the primitive, savage era that spawned it. There is no place for it in our culture, other than as a matter of historical, cultural interest. In every other walk of your life, you acknowledge this without even knowing it. If you didn’t, you’d be incarcerated at this moment, or, if you live in America, you’d be on Death Row. The immorality of the Bible is limitless, if you define morality as that which serves the wellbeing of civilization. Whilst you may not be a child killer or a rapist, when I see you defending such horrors with manufactured excuses, it proves what I have always maintained – that religion forces morally sound individuals to do and say utterly wicked things.

    Tanya

  33. ChazIng Says:

    Ms Simmonds, evolutionism and creationism are both philosophical positions. Science does not deal with facts but data for which interpretations are offered and analyzed. Many (if not most) peer-reviewed articles are irrelevant to directly testable science. There have been NO demonstrable tests of macro-evolution, only micro-evolution, speciation and temporal oscillations. As for your views on the NT, I think it would benefit you to go live temporarily in a non post-Christian country where atheism reigns. I suspect you will have a change of heart as to the ‘evils’ of Christianity. And since many of the fathers of modern Western science were young-earth creationists, you might want to start on creating your own atheistic science which would be more beneficial to society. And given the record of Christianity in aiding the poor and helpless, and changing the lives of drunkards and wife abusers, it would serve your cause better to start actually showing the world how your atheism is enlightened, logical, peace-loving and not-offensive. It is obvious to all that there is a massive disconnect between your biblical interpretations and the life of the typical Christian. That alone should indicate that either billions of people can’t read (or are in denial as to what they read), or you are wrong.

  34. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    Here’s a paper on the evidence for macroevolution:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

    Whichever way you look at it, evolution clearly has far more veracity than an anonymously-authored ancient fable about evil being unleashed upon the world when an immortal female was duped into eating a magic apple from an enchanted tree, by a talking snake, 6,000 years ago. Surely you would concur with me on that. Because, as you know, there are many who do not.

    Your arguments are dovetailing rapidly. You are now trying to condemn my views of the New Testament by telling me to live in a non-Christian country – a completely irrelevant point. How others live and conduct themselves has nothing whatsoever to do with the my opinion of the preachments of the New Testament. Where would you suggest? North Korea? Because the issues that I have with the NT are exactly the same as the issues I have with North Korea. They both impose tyrannical control upon their victims, demand absolute subservience to their leader, and threaten any who dare to dissent with the very worst the leader can possibly deliver.(For the record, I am a citizen of the United Kingdom.)

    And while you are singing the praises of Christian behaviour, would you please describe a charitable action performed by Christians that could not, and is not, performed by the secular? The majority of charitable organizations are not Christian, and kindness is shown through empathic benevolence, not out of a sense of duty to an imaginary cosmic dictator. Love is wonderful, virtuous, selfless emotion, which I am all in favour of. However, it becomes extremely ugly when it is commanded under the threat of hellfire in the event of non-compliance. (“My last command to you – love one another.”) Love is involuntary. It cannot be coerced, elicited, or commanded. Such an approach destroys it entirely. It turns it into something which is forced, and subject to a totalitarian principle. It offends me deeply when you imply that a human being can have no virtuous quality without this religion.

    The Bible is a cultural icon, which, ironically, very few have actually read. It carries the moniker, “The Good Book” which people take on board without actually knowing its contents. There is absolutely no disconnect between my biblical interpretations and the life of a typical Christian. The typical Christian (if he/she has actually read the Bible. 90% of believers haven’t) simply chooses to deny what the Bible actually says, and immerses him/herself in an ocean of delusion, which the contemporary apologist movement has made a virtual science out of. “It doesn’t quite mean that,” and “You’re talking it out of context” abound as they try multiple tactics to make the Bible compliant with modern sensibilities and moralities. Christianity, and even you, have had no choice but to live by the standards of secular humanism, falsely attributing them to the Bible, and virtually rewriting it accordingly. If we hadn’t embraced secularism, we would still be living in the church-ruled culture of the Middle Ages where tyranny reigned, and slavery, torture and the most brutal forms of execution were commonplace. Statistics also show that secular societies score far higher on societal health factors, from violent crime, to deception offences, domestic violence, and even healthcare. Whilst causation for this has not been fully elucidated, the correlation is, nonetheless, undeniable.

    Tanya

  35. ChazIng Says:

    Ms Simmonds, these are extrapolations, not directly testable lab experiments which can show the creation of novel species, functions and information. This particular link has also been answered by a YEC [ http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp ] though I doubt you would care to read. Given that you are not a scientist, I am appalled that you a secularist, an independent logical thinker, would need to use a URL instead of independent research and analysis. The former blog link has all of this info already.

    I am not condemning your views of the NT, I am saying that you do not have proper experience in hermeneutics to be able to accurately critique the bible thus if you go to an atheistic country where the bible would have no pull, you would see the realistic impact of said atheistic theology, which you would expect to be sunshine, logic and the sort. I don’t have to provide anything that could not be performed by secularists. The problem with this line of logic is that it assumes pure secularism. Your secularism is firmly grounded in Christianity even if you don’t realize it or want it to be. Thus if you were to go to a secularist country, you would be able to evaluate the social programs there with those in Christianized countries. Additionally, you would need to ascertain which has better intent.

    Why you would criticize North Korea is baffling as they are simply implementing the atheism that you find enlightened. When atheists in the US created their own town, that didn’t end well [ https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1447, very comical read ]. And what secular solutions to an individual’s problems do you offer? I can easily find hundreds (if not thousands) in my small town who had their lives changed by Christ. How many atheist converts do you know who gave up alcoholism, smoking, theft and the such? You also don’t seem to understand that much of what is said to be Christian is only christianization (wolves in sheep clothing) so that the ‘churches’ to which you would ascribe slavery and torture are so-called as per Mk 16:17-18. And if the typical Christian is in delusion, what does that say about the level of your delusion in posting here and on TheologyWeb?

  36. Jimbojsr Says:

    Wow, this got going in the last few days. I’ll have a proper read through the thread before responding further, as I reckon Chaz and Tanya have probably both taken some of my points further. Tanya, I have no intention of “coming back and attacking” you with “relentless hostility”; the reason I didn’t take your response to Chaz into account is that it was uploaded after I began typing my post, so I was unaware of it even though it appears before mine in the thread. So CHILL, and enough with the paranoia, m’kay?

  37. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng

    “Ms Simmonds, these are extrapolations, not directly testable lab experiments which can show the creation of novel species, functions and information. This particular link has also been answered by a YEC [ http://www.trueorigin.org/theobald1a.asp ] though I doubt you would care to read. Given that you are not a scientist, I am appalled that you a secularist, an independent logical thinker, would need to use a URL instead of independent research and analysis. The former blog link has all of this info already.”

    I provided a link for your convenience, as YOU have done on numerous occasions for mine. This is a blog, and not a academic examination room, and I feel that to suggest that I regard it as such is somewhat unreasonable. And please forgive my bias, but I am honestly intellectually incapable of taking anything a YEC says seriously. The baseline concept is so utterly absurd that any argument one may present to support it is simply elaborate spin that goes hand in hand with complex alien invasion conspiracy theories. I know that may seem terribly dismissive, but when one attempts to show veracity in myths about magic apples and talking snakes, contempt is the best that I can offer.

    “I am not condemning your views of the NT, I am saying that you do not have proper experience in hermeneutics to be able to accurately critique the bible thus if you go to an atheistic country where the bible would have no pull, you would see the realistic impact of said atheistic theology, which you would expect to be sunshine, logic and the sort. I don’t have to provide anything that could not be performed by secularists. The problem with this line of logic is that it assumes pure secularism. Your secularism is firmly grounded in Christianity even if you don’t realize it or want it to be. Thus if you were to go to a secularist country, you would be able to evaluate the social programs there with those in Christianized countries. Additionally, you would need to ascertain which has better intent.”

    I feel that you are underestimating my understanding of hermeneutics. As I said in an earlier post, I would have no issue with the Bible if it was regarded with the same consideration as the religious beliefs illustrated by Viking Runes. The barbarism of that culture would be considered unacceptable as a way of life in the West today. Objection is not the same as misunderstanding. Whilst I fully acknowledge your view that I am looking at this through the lens of a contemporary Western mindset, I do so because, whilst far from perfect, our way of life demonstrates an evolved morality based upon centuries of acquired knowledge and reasoning, which has recognised the shortcomings of the Bible’s tenets. Our moral connection to the Bible is largely a counter to many of its doctrines, as, ironically, the New Testament as it is today, was developed primarily as a counter to the New Testament of Marcion. We acknowledge very few biblical doctrines today, for example, of the Ten Commandments, only three are considered worthy of consideration. Ergo, whilst a superficial cultural foundation in Christianity may be argued, it is not, as you put it, firm.

    “Why you would criticize North Korea is baffling as they are simply implementing the atheism that you find enlightened. When atheists in the US created their own town, that didn’t end well [ https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1447, very comical read ].”

    North Korea is far from secular. It’s philosophy is highly theocratic in nature. Kim Jung Il was considered the Supreme Leader, despite the fact that he was dead. His deceased son Kim Il Sung is now regarded as their Eternal President, thereby demonstrating an extension of the Theocratic mindset, as did the Japanese during WWII when they regarded Hirohito as the ‘Son of Heaven’; a belief the Kamikaze’s gave their lives for.

    I knew immediately what to expect when I read your post from Apologetics Press. After all, a site with a name like that is never going to present a report in defence of atheism. Typically, it cites atheism as the absolute downfall of the town of Liberal without taking any other factors into account – such as the incompetency of those people to establish a new society. It does not follow that a lack of religious belief will lead to the downfall of a culture. Sweden is a secular nation, and holds the highest score on societal health factors.

    “And what secular solutions to an individual’s problems do you offer? I can easily find hundreds (if not thousands) in my small town who had their lives changed by Christ. How many atheist converts do you know who gave up alcoholism, smoking, theft and the such?”

    Are you implying that all atheists are alcoholics and thieves? Because that is demonstrably untrue. Whatever a person’s personal problems may be, coercing them with fear and threat is not an ideal approach to solving those issues, regardless of the appearance of success. People have also overcome such ailments through secular counselling, and Christian conversion is no guarantee of a solution. Anyone can quote anecdotal testimony, but it doesn’t present evidence of factual cause, it only reveals the extent to which the placebo effect can influence SOME – which can also be accomplished through purely secular means.

    “You also don’t seem to understand that much of what is said to be Christian is only christianization (wolves in sheep clothing) so that the ‘churches’ to which you would ascribe slavery and torture are so-called as per Mk 16:17-18.”

    You have got to be kidding me! With over 30,000 denominations of Christianity in existence, around 2,000 of which claim that they are the sole owners of the truth and everyone else is bound for Hell, Christianization has never been the focus of my contention, which is why I always go straight to the source – the Bible. (Incidentally, if it was the inerrant word of an all-wise, all-knowing being, for the whomsoever, it would be clear and unambiguous, to the extent that the myriad denominations would not exist. There would be only one.) And I am most surprised that you chose Mk 16:17-18 as an endorsement of your point given that is universally held as a forged passage.

    “And if the typical Christian is in delusion, what does that say about the level of your delusion in posting here and on TheologyWeb?”

    Would you please tell me how my responding to lengthy attempts
    at discrediting me is, in any way, delusional? It seems as though Christians cannot tolerate any who disagree with their position, and even balk at those who fight their corner. My communications with TheologyWeb and right here were instigated by THEM! I had never even heard of TheologyWeb or Deeper waters until they attacked me. I had no issue with them, and neither had I issued criticism against them.

    Incidentally, if you know of an email address for Nick Peters, I would very much appreciate someone letting me have it. I haven’t had time to respond to all of the points in his article, and I do feel that it is long overdue.

    Tanya

  38. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Hi Jimbojsr

    (Laughter) absolutely no problem, and thank you for your more humorous and respectful approach. Seriously, though – no paranoia. I was merely responding, and as I got further down your comments, it became apparent that you had missed my earlier post. That’s all. 😉

    Tanya

  39. ChazIng Says:

    And please forgive my bias, but I am honestly intellectually incapable of taking anything a YEC says seriously.

    As I suspected, you do not care about accurately understanding the views of others nor of evaluating evidence. To that end, I have confirmed that I have cast multiple pearls before an intellectual swine.

    I know that may seem terribly dismissive, but when one attempts to show veracity in myths about magic apples and talking snakes, contempt is the best that I can offer.

    Then you should have more contempt for atheism which asserts that nothing exploded, life came from non-life and that logic and science can be derived from no purpose except reproductive fitness. Frankly, I would rather stick with ‘talking snakes’ and ‘magical apples.’

    And I am most surprised that you chose Mk 16:17-18 as an endorsement of your point given that is universally held as a forged passage.

    I am not most surprised that you peddle this atheistic canard and lie. It is NOT universally held as a forgery. It does not show up in some manuscripts but does in others and has been referenced by church fathers [ http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/AuthenticityOfMark16920.html, Holding also dealt with this ]. And even if that were the case, there are many other verses which could be similarly used to show that Catholicism and variants are non-scriptural [of course, there’s the obvious question as to why a forgery would be placed there which would invalidate much of what charades as Christianity in the first place, but I digress]. And even if I didn’t use those verses, it is clear that you are delusional in thinking that delusional Christians would be able to understand the profound light of your atheistic logic.

    With over 30,000 denominations of Christianity in existence …

    Now you’re peddling a Catholic myth. Google be thy friend.

    Incidentally, if it was the inerrant word of an all-wise, all-knowing being, for the whomsoever, it would be clear and unambiguous, to the extent that the myriad denominations would not exist. There would be only one.

    And again peddling poor Catholic logic! Are you a stealth Catholic? Anyways, there is wide unity on the basics and myriad disagreements on the irrelevant. That would be expected if Christianity was tolerant of free thought, you know, the same thing you claim for yourself yet you peddle this stupid argument? Which such amazing logic, there should be no disagreements among atheists.

    Would you please tell me how my responding to lengthy attempts at discrediting me is, in any way, delusional?

    If you have to ask such a question, you have fallen far from delusional into senility.

  40. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    “As I suspected, you do not care about accurately understanding the views of others nor of evaluating evidence. To that end, I have confirmed that I have cast multiple pearls before an intellectual swine.”

    As I have always maintained, Christians absolutely cannot tolerate ANY who do not share their ludicrous perspective, as is clearly demonstrated by your venomous insults.

    “Then you should have more contempt for atheism which asserts that nothing exploded, life came from non-life and that logic and science can be derived from no purpose except reproductive fitness. Frankly, I would rather stick with ‘talking snakes’ and ‘magical apples.’”

    Firstly, would you please explain what you mean by the term ‘nothing.’ For example, space is vacuum. Vacuum is ‘something.’ What is it exactly that you are inferring by ‘nothing’?
    Abiogenesis shows that basic amino acids can be cultivated from non-life in conditions believed to be similar to those of pre-life earth, as demonstrated by the Miller-Urey experiments. Here we have demonstrable verification of the basic building blocks of life arising from non-living matter. Can you provide even a snippet of evidence for a talking snake? Just look for a second at what it is that you are asserting in your cowardly unwillingness to admit that you may be in error. I was once a believer, as you are, and I had to re-evaluate my position after spending years of preaching the wonders of Jesus. Why can’t you do the same?

    “I am not most surprised that you peddle this atheistic canard and lie. It is NOT universally held as a forgery. It does not show up in some manuscripts but does in others and has been referenced by church fathers [ http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/AuthenticityOfMark16920.html, Holding also dealt with this ]. And even if that were the case, there are many other verses which could be similarly used to show that Catholicism and variants are non-scriptural [of course, there’s the obvious question as to why a forgery would be placed there which would invalidate much of what charades as Christianity in the first place, but I digress]. And even if I didn’t use those verses, it is clear that you are delusional in thinking that delusional Christians would be able to understand the profound light of your atheistic logic.”

    If you are going to put any stock in a childish, sadistic cult leader like Holding, then I really don’t see any purpose in continuing with this. ALL bibles today footnote the falsity of Mark 16:9-20. The Bible is a translation put together by an array of theologians and hermeneutic scholars. Why don’t apologists address this? Why do they persist in asserting that it “Doesn’t mean what it says,” and relentlessly ignore the fact that they disagree with one another on key issues? The futility of apologetics is shown by the fact that their work has already been done for them. The Bible contains multiple interpolations, and your unfounded refusal to acknowledge this does nothing to change it.

    “Now you’re peddling a Catholic myth. Google be thy friend.”

    You are absolutely right. I do apologize. It’s 33,000 denominations, not 30,000.

    “And again peddling poor Catholic logic! Are you a stealth Catholic? Anyways, there is wide unity on the basics and myriad disagreements on the irrelevant. That would be expected if Christianity was tolerant of free thought, you know, the same thing you claim for yourself yet you peddle this stupid argument? Which such amazing logic, there should be no disagreements among atheists.”

    No, I am not a Catholic. To me, Catholicism is an evil, sadistic, sadomasochistic death cult, which practices absolute totalitarianism and conspiratorial control. OK?

    And how dare you say that disagreements are irrelevant? Those disagreements extend to the fundamentals of your religion, from what actually constitutes ‘salvation’ to what the death state entails, to whether or not salvation can be lost irretrievably. Are you aware that Hebrews 6:4-6 (author: unknown) expressly states that a Christian who has a change of heart can never return? It is an age-old debate and one which Calvinism takes very literally. From that standpoint, I am doomed without hope, so what is it exactly that you are trying to accomplish with me?

    “Would you please tell me how my responding to lengthy attempts at discrediting me is, in any way, delusional?

    If you have to ask such a question, you have fallen far from delusional into senility.”

    Oh, well I certainly know now, don’t I? Thank you.

    Tan x

  41. ChazIng Says:

    One wonders how you define tolerance.
    A vacuum is something only if one incorrectly presumes an external mind able to name said nothing as something.
    Pure nothingness is what you consider your ancestor.
    Miller-Urey did not show abiogenesis, they showed that some AAs could form under controlled variables.
    Did the bible said that the natural snake talked or that satan talked through the snake?
    The link is not from Holding, I’m only stating that he also addressed this issue and there is NO consensus that this was a forgery as you claimed.
    There is only true church with many manifestations. Those who differ somewhat are most likely in some form of apostasy and those who differ greatly have either apostatized or were never Christian to begin with.

    Are you aware that Hebrews 6:4-6 (author: unknown) expressly states that a Christian who has a change of heart can never return?

    You assume that you were a Christian. You, poor Tanya, were christianized and it is that you fight against. Most atheists who call themselves former Christians, don’t know enough sunday school level theology to sustain such a claim, as you have so aptly illustrated in your above posts.

  42. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Tanya Simmonds and Fundamentalist Atheism by Nick Peters – A Rebuttal

    Between the long and laborious arguments Nick Peters’ article has spawned, my own discussions included, what follows is my detailed response to the original feature.
    The first point I would like to address with this article is its title. Atheism is simply the absence of a belief, not only in the biblical God, but in Gods generally. It is worth noting that, during the dawn of Christianity, the Romans viewed the Christians as atheists because they didn’t believe in the Gods of Olympus.
    Atheism is not doctrinal, and therefore, the term ‘fundamentalist’ atheism is completely inapplicable in this context. The correct term for my position is ‘antitheism.’
    (I have always been averse to referring to people simply by their surname. It’s simply a quirk of mine, but I do feel that it is highly impersonal and, dare I say – bloody rude! As such, I will refer to Nick as “Mr” Peters. I am aware that the sole surname reference is established academic acumen, but I do not favour it – except in the case of ‘Holding’ whom I utterly despise.)
    The article that I co-wrote with my husband, “The Final Frontier of Tyranny”, has yet to receive any detailed rebuttal beyond insults and sarcasm, or the simple dismissal that Mr Peters offered with, “Overly dramatized to be sure, but just false really.” Clearly, this completely ignores the opening paragraphs of the article, and what my husband actually went through when he was a teenager, not to mention the countless internet Christian blog sites that show young Christians struggling with the traumatic hormonal torment of masturbatory abstinence. Focus on the Family’s founder, James Dobson, did not have an issue with masturbation, admittedly. However, said organization has since had a reversal of policy on that particular issue. And let us not forget that Focus on the Family is not the only school of Christian thought that demonizes masturbation, which was immediately noted by Mr Peters in the midst of his very denial, when he couldn’t resist inserting: “When I was preparing to marry, I read books by Christian counselors and writers encouraging that it be done before the wedding night so a man can prepare himself. SOME OF YOU MIGHT DISAGREE WITH THAT. THAT’S FINE.”
    Mr Peters then went right for the jugular with criticizing my only having knowledge of the Bible from the television and the pulpit – when I was only 18 years of age, and “What study was Simmonds doing on her own?”
    Please, at least give me the time to study, sir. Was my later degree in divinity not enough for you? I really do feel that your expectations go way beyond what would generally be considered as reasonable.
    If Mr Peters didn’t notice the abhorrent claims of the Bible when he was in Middle School, then I put it to him that his mind was wandering as his eyes scanned the pages, at an age when an absence of concentration in deference to far more appealing interests would have been perfectly natural. His dismissive follow-up statement that this God “is a judge, and that’s what judges do” is rather remarkable if he is trying to sell the ‘appeal of the divine.’ Judges are not known for their social popularity, and in the case of the Bible, I feel very strongly that the term ‘judge’ is selling Yahweh extremely short. “Sadistic, draconian tyrant” would have been a more apt description. Brushing him off as a judge merely doing his job brings to mind the dilution offered by the Nuremburg defense. Of course, that’s just me being ‘overly dramatic and emotional’, I’m sure. If only Mr Peters would cultivate similar characteristics, he may also learn the virtues of being abhorred by the defense and endorsement of atrocity.
    His recommendation that I study the resurrection for verification of the reality of Jesus beggars belief. If one personally bears witness to an event that appears to defy the laws of nature, one must first ask oneself, “Did I truly see what I thought I saw? Or was I under a misapprehension?” That is if one bears witness to said event first hand. I very much doubt that Mr Peters would believe the words of an alleged alien abductee, and given that I am married to a professional magician, I have also learned the importance of not placing too much stock in that which initially appears to be.
    However, if such extraordinary claims come from anonymously-authored original texts that went on to become copies of copies of translations of copies of copies, based on ancient hearsay, conflict with one another to the point of absolute irreconcilability, and contain clear continuity errors, I honestly cannot view a belief in them as anything other than willful gullibility. I regret the offence that statement may cause, but I am being honest with my viewpoint. I am fully aware that many will wish to counter me on matters regarding Gospel authorship, but please be aware that you are in a scholarly minority. The majority of theologians do not hold to the view that the Gospels were written by those whom they are ascribed to, and most follow the principle of Markan Priority, as do I. I have read the dissenting arguments of Matthian and Lukan Priority, and I feel that Markan holds the stronger case.
    The resurrection narratives cannot be compiled as a linear narrative if absolutely nothing is removed from any one of them. They do not agree on who discovered the empty tomb, or what they discovered when they arrived. They don’t agree on the events following the discovery, with completely conflicting incidents that allegedly took place at the same time. In earlier chapters, we learn that Jesus raised Jairus’ deceased daughter back to life, and then Lazarus. In the Gospel (falsely) attributed to ‘Matthew’ we learn of the rather bizarre claim that at the time of the crucifixion, a legion of dead saints rose from their tombs and walked into Jerusalem to an audience of many.
    And yet when the man responsible for all of this came back to life – his disciples didn’t believe it? What was there not to believe, had they witnessed this particular miracle so many times before that it would have been regarded as a common occurrence. Would not the actual response to Jesus’ resurrection after forty-eight hours have been, “What took you so long?”
    This is what is known in fiction as a continuity error. So, why does Mr Peters cite the Resurrection of Jesus as so persuasive?
    Again, I am sure that I will be accused of emotionalism for this, but nevertheless, when Mr Peters makes statements regarding biblical, divine brutality with comments such as, “Perhaps it is not the moral tastes of the Bible that are a problem but rather it is ours,” we are looking at a clear desire on his part to embrace primitive cruelty and tyranny. This is the principle danger inherent in all religion, for once reason has been surrendered to its doctrines, it causes otherwise morally-sound individuals to do and say utterly atrocious things.
    On this thread, I have received unremitting assertions that I should not view the Bible through a contemporary Western lens. Why shouldn’t I? I am a contemporary Western citizen, as most of you are. Why should I cast aside the moral progress we have made since the time of the Industrial Revolution? I’m not saying that we should disregard the Bible’s historical foundations and contexts. I am saying that there is no place for its teachings and doctrines as a moral guide in our far more advanced civilization. I would take exactly the same position if someone was to preach the virtues of Viking and Saxon morality to me. Absolute morality founded on nothing more than an ancient hypothetical authority is not a route to advancing our culture. We establish morality in the West today through discussion, reason, trying, testing and evaluating what best serves the collective well-being. We don’t always get it right. However, I feel confident that we have come much farther towards that end since the Iron Age, and that the vast majority of our brother and sister Westerners would readily concur with me on that.
    Mr Peters goes on to criticize a statement I made that I have never met a theology professor, a pastor, or an archbishop, who denied that these terrible Bible stories were not as they appeared. It’s true. I haven’t. All of them concurred that they were not metaphoric, and that they were actual historical events. That’s distinct from individual interpretations and attempts at justifications – which, as Mr Peters quite rightly noted, are conflicting. All apologetics in this respect are hypotheses that are very rarely apparent from the Bible. For example, the Gospels claim that Judas Iscariot hanged himself. The Book of Acts claim that he fell from a cliff. The apologist says that the rope snapped and he fell down the cliff.
    Where in the Bible does it say that the rope snapped?
    I know that I am going to get my knuckles wrapped for bringing that up, with “You can’t base your entire belief system on just one issue.” I’m not. Read it back. It was JUST ONE EXAMPLE. My point is that these are unfounded conjectures, often being presented as absolute truths, in an attempt to preserve the greatest of all threats to Christian credibilit – the Doctrine of Inerrancy. Given the radical and diverse disagreements between apologists, why should anybody pay their hypotheses’ any heed?
    Mr Peters asks why I should have been surprised by the discovery that certain biblical passages were interpolations. The answer is because I was a young girl, still trying to find my way in life, and had been led to believe the Bible was the perfect, inerrant word of almighty God. Why does he persist in expecting so much out of my former self?
    I also reject his assertion that it is remarkable that any ancient historian would have mentioned Jesus if the Biblical claims about him were true. Unlike followings for other ‘Messiahs’, Christianity was growing rapidly, and drawing great attention to itself. I do not find it credible that nobody would have mentioned him in a historical narrative.
    My position on the Testimonium Flavianum is as follows. Firstly, it reads suspiciously like a Gospel checklist. Even without the universally accepted wording removed, the Testimonium is remarkably short, which is extremely unusual for Flavius Josephus. His critics have often cited his long-windedness when writing about extremely mundane issues, far less extraordinary than resurrecting miracle workers. For example, he devoted more than double the wording of the Testimonium to the story of Simon of Peraea, who was simply a Judean rebellious arsonist, circa 4 BCE. The text immediately preceding the Testimonium and the text immediately following it fit together perfectly and seamlessly when the Testimonium is removed. The Testimonium is an offbeat passage that is completely off-topic and breaks up the flow of the narrative. Prior to 324 CE, no Christian apologists who were extremely familiar with the works of Josephus, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Julius Africanus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen, wrote a single word about the Testimonium. Origen, in particular, spent much time studying Antiquities of the Jews to find evidence of Jesus, and even he didn’t find this passage.
    The first person to ‘discover’ it was Eusebius, whose unashamed dishonesty has become almost legendary in the Theological community. I have read several articles in defence of Eusebius, and whilst they are, indeed, interesting, I do not find them convincing. There are far too many coincidences surrounding Eusebius and his claims for him to be credible, in my opinion. In Ecclesiastical History, Ch. 12 he wrote, “It will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment.” – And most of our knowledge of early Christianity comes from this man. ‘Pious lies’ appear to be that which he is famous for. ALL Christian commentary about the Testimonium comes from Eusebius ONWARDS, not before.
    I am not saying that I am absolutely correct on this issue, for such would be similar to the unreasoned certainty of Christians, themselves. I am merely saying that there are too many red flags regarding the Testimonium for me to ignore. The claims of Eusebius are extraordinary, for example, he asserted from documentation THAT HAS YET TO BE PRESENTED that during the execution of Saint Polycarp the flames that were ignited to burn him did not touch him.
    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    With regards to the Jamesien passage, which version does Mr Peters adhere to? The one that reads, “… who was the Christ”? Or the one which reads, “… who was the so-called Christ”? I have read of both. Whichever way one looks at it, one cannot say with absolute certainty that the passage is not referring to Jesus, Son of Damneus. There is enough for me to establish reasonable doubt, and yet again, I am not saying I am right. Also, I have never claimed that Jesus did not exist. On the balance of probabilities, I believe that it is highly likely that he did exist, although not in the way that the Gospels portray him.
    On to Tacitus – which group of people are actually being referred to? The Christians? Or the Chrestians? Chrestus was apparently a Greek Slave who led a revolt at approximately the time that this passage refers to. This is an argument towards the statement about the crucifixion being a possible interpolation. And why would a Roman Senator, with access to Roman records, refer to Pontius Pilate as a ‘Procurator’ when he was, in fact, a Prefect, which was a higher rank. Referring to Pilate as a Procurator appears, erroneously, in several early Christian writings, ergo, once more, I have enough to establish reasonable doubt about this passage, sufficient to remove it from the ‘absolute certainty’ category. Nevertheless, this is not an absolute assertion that it is a forgery.
    Going onto the TheologyWeb incident, I am going to say this once and for all! They attacked me first. I responded with civility, and then, all Hell broke loose. I will not tolerate abuse, and when I am faced with it, I will respond in kind – with “both barrels blasting.” It’s that simple. I would appreciate it if you people would cease accusing me of having a victim complex. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
    “Victims” don’t strike back!
    Mr Peters, you claim that passion does not equal truth, and I quite agree. However, would you please explain why that rule only applies to me and not to you?
    I am well aware of the diverse interpretations of the doctrine of Hell. Seventh Day Adventist movements such as the Christadelphians and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have no belief whatsoever in any form of consciousness after death, and I find their theological reasoning to be quite sound on this particular issue. (It is their cult-like practices and policies that I have no time for.) I can even sympathize with those who simply ‘believe’ in the existence of a torturous afterlife. However, for those who defend such a notion, I harbor nothing but utter contempt. There is a marked difference between ‘belief’ and ‘endorsement.’
    Mr Peters, you say that you are happy to believe that you are under constant surveillance by a supposed celestial dictatorship. I have no issue with that. The world is full of S & M clubs where people voluntarily go to be humiliated and whipped. I’m fine with that too, so long as they don’t try to inflict it upon others. It is a Christian’s calling to spread the word, and it is that which I find intolerable. It is a coercive, threatening belief system that denies freedom of choice, freedom of body and of thought, and with an undetermined eternal penalty awaiting any who choose not to sign up to it. It actually opposes the very definition of the democracy that ironically enables it. It is hypocrisy unbound! Yes, I can hear you already: “Tanya, what if we are right, and you are wrong?”
    What if the Qur’an is right and YOU are wrong? Can you honestly say with even a shred of credibility, that had you been born and raised in Afghanistan, that you would harbor the belief system you have now?
    (What follows is my ‘berserk’ button.) Mr Peters, you say that you enjoy your sexual freedom within the bounds of your marriage. So do I. Aren’t we fortunate?
    What of those who, through a lack of confidence, attractiveness, finances, or just plain bad luck, can’t get married, or even find a partner? Please, set your “I’m alright, Jack” attitude aside and spare a thought for the lonely and disenfranchised. If I had my time again, I probably wouldn’t get married in the traditional sense. To me, a marriage is a union of hearts; a bonding of bodies and minds with mutual consent, requiring no institution. Who I choose to be with is nobody’s business other than mine and my partner’s. I’m sure that you would recognize the marriage of two Catholics as being valid, would you not? (Just a random example.) So, tell me, what difference does it make whether you choose to be together freely and without third-part permission, or whether you have been granted license to be together by a potential pedophile? (I don’t care if that offends. Christians have no qualms about offending me!) In my opinion, marriage is yet another form of man-made totalitarianism, and I deeply regret ever having entertained it. Twice!
    You can control your thought life as much as you wish, Mr Peters. But please don’t inflict such idolization of tyranny on others. That’s all I ask.
    You said that I miss out on the mercy and grace of God. What mercy and grace would that be? You say that God is a judge, and that he is merciful. This is a contradiction is terms. Mercy, by definition, is the suspension of justice, and there is a distinct difference between justice and abominable cruelty. Where lies the balance in eternal torture/torment for the shortcomings of a FINITE life?
    The phraseology I used in my position on Trinitarian beliefs demonstrated my frustration with the absurdity of it, and I feel that your abhorrence towards it was not so much the wording, but simply the fact that I disagree with you.
    You wrote, “She complains that God sends people to Hell and then when God does something to solve that, she complains about that too saying “We didn’t ask for this!””
    We actually didn’t ask for anything at all – including our very existence. Practically ALL actions described as ‘sinful’ in the Bible can be traced to the involuntary human survival instinct, from murder, to theft, to sexual desire. Am I defending murder and theft? Absolutely not. I will not defend any action which encroaches upon the rights of others – as I feel I have been abundantly clear about. However, I will absolutely stand firm against proscriptions that condemn one’s right to body and mind. These instincts come to us involuntarily, and with necessity. The Bible’s position has the designer condemning his design for the way he designed it. Don’t you find it ironic how mainstream Christianity attacks or tries to regulate human sexuality far more so than speaking out against murder, rape, child abuse, or robbery? If I was going to name what I consider to be the very worst sin any person can possibly commit, it would be the one evil that the Bible never expressly mentions – cruelty! In fact, it recommends it with relentless zeal!
    So, why does this so-called ‘merciful’ God cast people into eternal torture, and use further torture as a means of providing us with a (questionable) get-out clause? What would be so unthinkable to him about saying, “I understand why you are the way you are, and I know that you can’t help it. For that reason, I forgive you”? No cruelty, no scourgings, beatings, crucifixions, just good old fashioned love and compassion. Why is his ‘merciful’ nature so obsessed with pain? And what kind of morality does this teach? Can you see my point?
    Just as an aside, are there any Christians out there who wish to attempt answering the following question, with demonstrable evidence? – Given that this God allegedly created all life on earth; all men equal, and of myriad races and creeds… why would he select one single Middle-Eastern desert tribe as his ‘chosen’ people? Favoritism seems a little petty and unreasoned to me, for an omnipotent cosmic being. (My position is that it’s fairly obvious, but you’ll draw you own conclusions, I’m sure. I strongly suspect on this goes hand in hand with why God is always referred to in the masculine. It isn’t that the HE created the Israelites. It’s that ISREALITE MALES created HIM! Yes, I know. Esther and Ruth. Two out of sixty-six. Hardly a strong case.)
    My next point addresses possibly the most disturbing comment you have made so far, Mr Peters. Regarding the Bible’s predestination passages I alluded to, you responded with:
    “Let’s suppose this is true. If it is true, then oh well. It is dealt with by accepting it. Reality doesn’t change based on what we like. I don’t think her stance is true, but if it is, then I must deal with it. Saying “unfair!” will not change it.”
    I am almost speechless that you can be so blasé about such an unjust and insidiously immoral concept. Bereft of words suitable for public commentary, I can only ask – how can you expect to be taken morally seriously when you make statements such as that? You are literally saying that no matter what the issue is, if this God decrees it, it’s unquestionably moral. Under the alleged doctrines of an alternate version of exactly the same God, the pilots of 9/11 were acting in accordance with EXACTLY the same mindset as yours, as were the Knights Templar, Torquemada, and Salem Witch Hunters. What you have written there is, once again, a perfect illustration of the danger of religion.
    You go on to say, “Considering the poor study done thus far, I’m not surprised, and if Christianity was what Simmonds says it is, I would also not be surprised to hear she doesn’t like it. I wouldn’t like it either. Yet this is not what Christianity is.”
    You have just shown me that it is EXACTLY what I say it is. You can’t accuse me of poor study, after providing my words with even greater veracity than I ever could. Yours came “straight from the horse’s mouth” so to speak.
    Your position on having no freedom to murder and the consequences of the US legal system (I live in the UK, in case you were wondering) I have already addressed. I am not referring to acts that encroach upon the rights of others, and rational applications of cultural law. My main bone of contention is Christianity’s masochistic celebration of the denial of personal freedoms, and its common focus on sexual matters to the exclusion of all else, with an eternal penalty threatened for non-compliance. I would have been open to you defending your corner by distancing yourself from mainstream Christianity on these issues, but you have already negated that as a defense.
    “You do not go to Hell for not believing in Jesus.”
    I am astonished. That is the very first time I have encountered a Christian who has said that. Most Christians would consider such a position to be heretical apostasy, which brings me to yet another vital issue. Are there two Christians out there who absolutely agree with one another on every single biblical doctrinal issue? Are there two such believers on this very forum?
    Next, Mr Peters, you said:
    “Now Jesus is the antidote of course. If you believe in Jesus, God judges your salvation based on the work of Christ. If not, God judges you based on your works, and those must be absolutely perfect. If they are not, then you are guilty of divine treason.” (I hope you don’t mind, but I corrected a typo there for greater clarity.)
    As much as I am averse to plagiarism, I feel that the late Christopher Hitchens addressed this best when he said, “Born sick, and ordered, under pain of eternal torture, to be well again.” It sounds ugly, doesn’t it? Regardless, it’s still the baseline Christian message, regardless of supposedly-mediating crucifixions.
    “In fact, Simmonds has been railing against the God of Christianity for some time. Is she saying if He was real, she would actually want to spend eternity in His presence? If not, then she is freely choosing the alternative. If so, then why does she want to do that after death, but not before?”
    Sir, I am so pleased that you brought that up. The Bible cannot possibly offer anything that I would describe as a ‘paradise.’ It offers only two alternate versions of misery: the Hell that you go to if you don’t subscribe to its God, and the Hell that you go to if you do embrace him. I can’t imagine a more terrible ordeal than having to spend eternity with a malevolent entity like Yahweh, accompanied only by his sycophants.
    I fully agree with you that Hell played a rather small role in early Christianity, although not unheard of, even among the Jews. Its first appearance in Judeo-Christian history was in 1 & 2 Enoch, which are curiously absent from the pages of the Bible. In the New Testament, its most prominent appearance is in the metaphoric parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:9-31), which, despite its non-literal nature, and the fact that its imagery was taken largely from the Greek myth of the Trails of Hercules, it is still being abused by mainstream Christianity to this day as a factual account. It continues to literally scare the ‘Hell’ out of many.
    Mr Peters, you closed your attempted rebuttal by asserting that I have zeal (agreed) but not knowledge. I do hope that I have helped to allay that opinion somewhat, although I am not holding my breath. I would dearly welcome a hypothetical platform that we could come to where the currently invisible common ground might become apparent. Regardless of our contrary viewpoints, there is no argument to the fact that we are still brother and sister under the same sun.

    Yours,

    Tanya

  43. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    “One wonders how you define tolerance.”

    I have always believed that there is something extremely condescending about the word ‘tolerance’ – as though it is an implication that one will be accepted tentatively and under a degree of sufferance. In the broader, political sense, it is defined as an approach towards embracing diversity and variants among people with regards to race, sexuality, financial status, social position, religion, and intelligence. Regulation is placed only on individual viewpoints that would otherwise encroach upon the rights and freedoms of others.

    “A vacuum is something only if one incorrectly presumes an external mind able to name said nothing as something.”

    Who is ‘incorrectly assuming’ anything? You can’t define nothing, and yet you are taking it upon yourself to balk at my inability to define it. This is classic Christian one-sidedness. One rule for you, and another for anyone else.

    “Pure nothingness is what you consider your ancestor.”

    When have I ever made an assertion that I know the nature of universal origin? Absolute assertion of knowledge without foundation is the way of the Christian, not me.

    “Miller-Urey did not show abiogenesis, they showed that some AAs could form under controlled variables.”

    In other words, it’s not a potato, it’s a spud! If it can be shown that amino acids can arise from non-living matter, then life, over time, arising from non-living matter is feasible – as inconvenient to the Christian position as it may be.

    “Did the bible say that the natural snake talked or that satan talked through the snake?”

    Genesis never specifically identified the snake, but it clearly wasn’t intended to be viewed as Satan. At the conclusion of the creation account, the snake is condemned to crawl on its belly from that day forth. Satan’s first actual appearance is In Job – and he is flying, not crawling. Satan is not illustrated as the villain in the OT. He is God’s testing agent, and in Zechariah, he is shown in the role of God’s chief prosecutor. It is not entirely clear if Satan is God’s enemy even in the Temptation in the Wilderness account, or if he was following God’s orders by doing to Jesus what he did to Job. Nevertheless, the New Testament quickly goes on to show that Satan no longer holds his OT status, and that he is clearly the enemy of God.

    The snake in Genesis was an allusion to Canaanite snake worship. Archaeological and textual evidence does not show that the Israelites wiped out the Canaanites. The Canaanites were a polytheistic culture, for whom YHWH (likely a deity who was developed from the Midianite God, YHW) was merely one of their pantheon of gods, including Yahweh’s wife, Asherah. Due to agricultural hardship, it appears that the Canaanites viewed their polytheism as the cause of their woes, and began to move towards monotheism, assuming and entirely new identity in the process – Israelites. The Israelite’s never wiped out the Canaanites. The Israelites WERE the Canaanites. (Killebrew, 2005, p.96.) The Pentateuch is an invented history of a people who sought to remove themselves from their past existence and establish that they were the chosen people of this one single deity. In distancing themselves from their own true past, many of their previous Gods were illustrated in the negative, which is shown in Genesis when the snake is described as being instrumental in the downfall of all.

    “There is only true church with many manifestations. Those who differ somewhat are most likely in some form of apostasy and those who differ greatly have either apostatized or were never Christian to begin with.”

    That is an extremely unfounded sweeping statement, which again demonstrates fundamentalist extremism. You are making an absolute assertion that any who interpret scripture IN ANY WAY different from your own interpretation, they must be apostates. You asked me tolerance means. Well, your statement there defines absolute ‘intolerance.’

    “You assume that you were a Christian. You, poor Tanya, were Christianized, and it is that you fight against.”

    Once again, an absolute fundamentalist extremist statement, oozing with arrogance and a completely unqualified and unexplained assertion that you know me, my history, my feelings, and my mind and memories. Congratulations on having psychic abilities beyond the understanding of the rest of us mere mortals, and thank you for showing them off to me with such embittered condescension.

    “Most atheists who call themselves former Christians, don’t know enough Sunday school level theology to sustain such a claim, as you have so aptly illustrated in your above posts.”

    I must ask, what do you expect to accomplish with such insulting comments? Do you honestly think that these non-specific, unexplained tantrums are going to win me over, and persuade me to embrace your belief system? I have countered you at every single stage, with reason, much citation, and academia, and you insult me in this way simply because you can’t have your own way. This has nothing to do with me. This is an extension of your own ego, narcissistic frustration, and infantile rage, not scholarship.

    You disappoint me, Chaz. I really thought that were above that.

    Tanya

  44. ChazIng Says:

    If what you have presented here is any form of scholarship, then I need to return my undergraduate degree. Ms Simmonds, you seem to live in a mental realm all by yourself. I am not here to convert you but simply to respond to your rants in the hope that I might find some glimmer of intelligence. Sadly, I haven’t. That you insist in thinking that delusional Christians could even understand your supposedly intelligent posts and to be disappointed in me are clear signs that your brain isn’t logical. This means that my replies to you have been similarly wasted. Given your lengthy rebuttal to Nick, I’m surprised you can find time to reply to me. Anyway, here’s wishing you the best on your trip in atheism land.

  45. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    ChazIng,

    You can make as many allusions towards me being mentally deficient as you like. However, simply accusing someone of being retarded (which I’m sure you wouldn’t if you even had an inkling of a belief that it was true, given that using a persons disability as a means by which to insult them will never be viewed as ingratiating by anyone at all) and without citing a reason or justification for such a statement, I fail to see the case you are trying to make. For example, what exactly are you referring to with statements like, “… I am not here to convert you but simply to respond to your rants in the hope that I might find some glimmer of intelligence. Sadly, I haven’t.”?

    I’m not going to go into a lengthy presentation of all of my academic and professional accomplishments, because I shouldn’t have to. This is not a trial. You seem to be of the opinion that I am an imbecile simply because I disagree with you. Nothing more. You haven’t even addressed most of the points I have made, and you will most likely respond to that with, “I didn’t see anything worth responding to,” in your typically embittered and caustic style of cop-out. What brilliant rebuttals or examples of your intellectual prowess have you presented ME with? Name-calling and hate-filled scorn is the last resort of those who have no response, not that of a learned academic. If you wish to present yourself as an erudite thinker, you should at least make the attempt to conduct yourself like one.

    Tanya

  46. apologianick Says:

    Tanya: Lower down this thread, you will find a lengthy response to your original article. You say that you want something more specific from me, ergo, I have obliged you.

    Reply: I might reply Monday. I have a post for today planned and Friday’s will be about the podcast.

    Tanya: I must take issue with your claim that my husband threatened physical violence on TheologyWeb. Whilst what he does on his own accord is absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever, what he said on TW were not, in any legal sense, threats. When a man asks another to “Step outside,” it is not a threat. It is an invitation under the Queensbury Rules.

    Reply: I am not the only one who saw it that way and we have a number of Brits on the site as well. In any case, in the ancient society, such an action would be a way of saying the debate had been lost. Whoever resorts to physical violence is the loser.

    Tanya: The legal action I threatened TheologyWeb with was a preventative measure against stalking, which, at the time, seemed likely, judging from the behaviour of some of its members.

    Reply: Then I can only assume you’re paranoid.

    Tanya: There is no doubt in my mind that you hate me with every fibre of your being, despite your faith forcing you to deny it. I hope that my response to your article will help to alleviate that venom somewhat – or at least lead to a better understanding of my position.

    Reply: Your doubt is wrong. I do not hold hatred like that. If anything, you simply sadden me. At the same time, I also get the hope on seeing that atheism is going further and further downhill. Hence, my constant claim to people that we should thank God for the new atheists. They’re doing us a great service!

    Also, your story indicates a failure in the church. It’s why I’ve said constantly on this blog that pizza parties and concerts are not enough. The issues you wrote of in your essay are kiddie issues really. I could teach Middle Schoolers to answer those.

    Tanya: And please, no more insults. The name-calling game does nothing to help your “Do good to those who despise you” command.

    Tanya

    REply Then I think you need to look at the way the apostles and the early church responded to those who were encouraging apostasy. A shepherd carries a rod and a staff. A staff is for the gentle guiding of the sheep. A rod is for the backs of the wolves.

  47. Tanya Simmonds Says:

    Nick,

    I would like to begin by saying that Peter’s actions on TW were not performed under my request, endorsement, or even my knowledge. I have made this clear on several occasions, and yet you collectively persist in grouping his antics in with my comments. He was acting out of a primal need to protect me, in the wake of the unfounded abuse that had been levelled against me (unnecessary, though it may have been.) Name-calling and mockery are not valid, academic arguments. You must appreciate this. They are, in fact, the sign of a conclusively LOST argument.

    As a former Criminal Defence Solicitor, I can tell you that what Peter said, however, were not ‘threats’ as defined by law. Asking someone to ‘step outside’ is not a threat. It is what is known as an invitation under the Queensbury Rules. “I’m coming round to knock the **** out of you” WOULD BE a threat, but that isn’t what he said. It actually has to be a written threat to kill, with the intention that the recipient take that threat seriously, in order for it to be a legal matter.

    Your assertion that I lost the argument due to MY HUSBAND’S ‘threats’ is utterly absurd. His comments were made independent of my request, or even my knowledge, and he wasn’t even involved in the discussion (if that’s what you can call a barrage of playground name-calling, absent any visible academia in the swarm.) Ergo, ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ are completely irrelevant concepts in this context. He had no part of the theological ‘discussion.’ He gave an intervening side-swipe, totally unrelated to the discussion at hand.

    I had been banned from TW due the site’s universal prohibition on retaliation to abuse. IMMEDIATELY, its adherents followed me onto other internet forums. Given that one of them appeared to be based in the UK, I had every reason to fear an attempt at personal contact, given the abuse I had received, and the rapidity with which I had been pursued in cyberspace. Take account also, for example, that Richard Donner, the director of the first Christopher Reeve Superman film, received death threats from radical Christian fundamentalist groups, for his portrayal of the Christ-like way in which Kal-El was sent to Earth. (I adore that movie, by the away.)

    Paranoia is unfounded fear/concern. Given my history with TW, I do not feel that mine was unfounded.

    Your statement that atheism is going ‘farther and farther (it’s ‘farther’ not ‘further’ when describing physical distance motion as in – ) downhill’ is only true in your own masochistic fantasy. People are becoming increasingly weary of being oppressed by theocratic tyranny, regardless of whether it is Islamic, or Christian. This is the Age of Reason, which is very much distanced from the doctrines of the Bronze and Iron Ages.

    When you make completely unfounded statements like, “The issues you wrote of in your essay are kiddie issues really. I could teach Middle Schoolers to answer those,” you come across as a very bitter and twisted theology fraud. Provide me with a specific reference that I can actually address, and then, perhaps, we may communicate further.

    Warm regards

    Tanya

  48. Recommended Links III | Ethnic Muse Says:

    […] Tanya Simmonds and Fundamentalist Atheism […]

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