Category Archives: Christianity

Extra-Biblical, Non-Christian Confirmation of Jesus

My response to a claim from an email exchange that I didn’t get to address during our conversation.

“There are actually lots of extra biblical non Christian sources that wrote about the life of Jesus and wrote them with in 100-150 years of his life. Historians like Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny, Trajan, Hadrian, Talmud, Toledoth, and more. What they wrote correlates with the biblical account.”

While I have heard of some of these, a few I’ve never heard of so I just want to go through each and see what claims are made for each. I would like to point out that I don’t think I was ever a mythicist. I see no contradiction is accepting that a preacher called Jesus existed; though, I will make clear that I don’t see any reason to believe the supernatural claims about him. What I know about these sources before this post is that most, if not all, are merely evidence that the Christian sect existed, not that a supernatural, god-man existed.

The first place I went to get information is Wiki, other sources will be linked when used.

After doing the research below, I wonder if those who spout these names, as sources of information that confirm the existence of Jesus, have done the same. A few of these are so sketchy that I wouldn’t use them and would think even a believer could see that they aren’t helpful in their arguments.

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Josephus

A Jewish historian, ~90CE, credited with two mentions of Jesus. Josephus is one of the ones I’ve heard of before but really don’t know what he was supposed to have said.

The first reference in Book 20, a reference to Jesus as the brother of James:

-Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law.

This reference seems okay though it does have some criticism surrounding it.

Critics like to point out that in the same passage Josephus references Jesus Damneus and Jesus son of Gamaliel. Richard Carrier says “who was called Christ” was likely an addition not written by Josephus in the original text. While supporters say it is used to distinguish this Jesus from the other two.

-While the authenticity of some passages in Book 18 of Antiquities of the Jews has been subject to debate, the overwhelming majority of scholars consider the discussion of the death of James in Section 9 of Book 20 to be authentic. –Wiki

I think that by this consensus of people who know better than I, I will agree that this passage is likely talking about the biblical Jesus. That being said, I don’t think there is any reason for me to convert instantly. This is simply a passage that may be used to verify that he actually existed, not the claim that he was more than human, and it was written approximately 60 years after he supposedly died. That seems like plenty of time for stories to spread. Mythicism may be out of the window but post-mortem apotheosis seems more likely.

The second reference, in Book 18, and quite possibly the best a believer could hope for:

-About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.   – Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3

But then there’s this:

-Scholarly opinion varies on the total or partial authenticity of the reference in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities, a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, usually called the Testimonium Flavianum. The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus, which was then subject to Christian expansion/alteration. Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear, there is broad consensus as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus

The TF contains some obvious Christian glosses that no Jew would have written; such as “he was the Christ” and “he appeared to them alive again the third day.” – http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm

If there existed that much doubt about this source I would definitely not be using it to back my claim. That criticism even lends credence to the apotheosis hypothesis (that’s fun to say).

-After reading the rest of the text of this passage we find that the Jews were so angry about the stoning of James that they they demanded that King Agrippa fire Ananus. Why would the Jews be angered over the killing of a Christian, since Christians were seen as heathens by the Jews? After the angry Jews get their way, “Jesus” is put in charge, Jesus son of Damneus and not Jesus son of Joseph. It seems as though “who was called Christ” was simply a margin note that got added to the text. The context would suggest that Jesus and James are brothers and after James is killed his brother is made to be high priest. And therefore the passage has nothing to say about any Christians but rather Jewish infighting. –http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Testimonium_Flavian

In the end, I will accept that the writings of Josephus are possibly factual accounts of the existence of a man named Jesus. They can’t be used as anything more than that and I have already admitted that I am not a mythicist. I would agree that most of his information came from Christian sources but I don’t think that is any reason to disregard all of the information.

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Tacitus

A Roman historian, ~100CE, provides an account of the persecution of the early Christians and the crucifixion.

-Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (i.e., Crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus… -Tacitus, Annals

So, he states that a man called Christ, whom a sect of Jews were named after, was crucified by Pilate. But he calls Pilate a procurator, not a prefect. Tacitus would surely know the difference, even if we don’t.

-Thiessen and Merz, while stating that Tacitus provides few details the source of which is unclear, conclude that there was a Jew named Christus who Pilate had executed, and he began a religious movement which was widespread during Nero’s reign.

I think this next quote is relevant to most of the people/references on this list considering the events were so long ago, so poorly documented, and the claim is so extreme.

-In his book Jesus, Charles Guignebert states that “so long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus was simply repeating the story as it was being told], the passage remains quite worthless.” Without more information, which we don’t currently have, the passage proves nothing (it can’t be used as evidence for or against).

But…

-Scholars generally consider Tacitus’ reference to the execution of Jesus by Pontius Pilate to be both authentic, and of historical value as an independent Roman source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

The IronChariots Wiki gives a list of other objections to the claim of relevance of Tacitus. Many of them lead me to believe that Tacitus was merely documenting what the Christians at the time were saying.

-Given that we are lacking key information, and that the passage itself provides very little detail, a determination about Tacitus’ diligence in investigating it cannot be made. Any statement which assumes he did exercise due diligence (i.e. that what he said was based on fact) is speculative.

My final judgement…Confirmation of a man named Jesus, leader of a set of Jews, but nothing about a deity. Even with just these two sources I am confident that the Christ Myth theory is debunked but I won’t go all the way to say that Jesus was the savior the bible bills him as.

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Suetonius

Roman historian, ~115CE, reported to mention Jesus by name.

-“As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome” –Suetonius

This one is pretty short and I’ll just copy/paste the whole of the article from the wiki.

-Elsewhere in the same work (The Lives of the Caesars) Suetonius talks about how “Punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.” under Nero demonstrating that Suetonius knew the difference between Jews and Christians.

Suetonius wrote in the year 115 CE, so this is far from a contemporary account. He doesn’t cite or list sources and Christianity would have been decently established by this time.

The name in the text is not “Christus” but “Chrestus,” which by no means is the usual designation of Jesus. It was a common name, especially among Roman freedman. (Cicero, Epistulae ad Familiares, book 2, letter 8, section 1; “What! Do you suppose that I meant you to send me an account of gladiatorial matches, of postponements of trials, of robberies by Chrestus, and such things as, when I am at Rome, nobody ventures to retail to me?”) Hence, the whole passage may have nothing whatever to do with Christianity.

I don’t think that most of the people who parrot the names of these “extra-biblical, non-Christian sources” have actually looked at them, just as I hadn’t. This is not a good example to use in favor of Jesus.

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Thallus

If Suetonius was a sketchy source, this one is worse. This “reference” to Jesus is from a 9th century source working on a manuscript of a 3rd century commentary of Thallus’ writings about the supposed darkness referenced in the Bible after the crucifixion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_darkness

“On the whole world there pressed a fearful darkness, and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. Thallos calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun in the third book of histories, without reason it seems to me.” –Africanus, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Thallus

So, Africanus is commenting on, criticizing really, something supposedly said by Thallus from 200 years prior. Not to mention the name is spelled differently though that is easily explained away I know.

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Pliny

Pliny the younger, I assume, was apparently a Roman lawyer and the only mention relevant seems to be:

“Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.” –Pliny, the Younger, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Pliny_the_Younger

This in no way confirms the existence of Jesus, it only confirms that there were Christians. This couldn’t even be used as evidence against a mythicism view of Jesus. I guess I have to concede that Christians do exist based on this source, but again I’ll say it doesn’t have anything to do with a halfling Jesus.

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Trajan

So, Trajan was the Emperor of Rome from 98-117CE, he is who Pliny the Younger was writing to in the quote passage above so there isn’t much more to say about him that wasn’t said to Pliny. There is a passage of him replying to Pliny but it too is only about the treatment of Christians in legal matters, not about the veracity of their claims about Jesus being a god.

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Hadrian

Emperor from 117-138CE, after Trajan, his secretary happened to be Suetonius. Again, he doesn’t actually say anything to confirm the existence of Jesus. The only account I can find of him that is useful:

“I do not wish, therefore, that the matter should be passed by without examination, so that these men may neither be harassed, nor opportunity of malicious proceedings be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly evince their charges against the Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not by mere petitions, and mere outcries against the Christians. For it is far more proper, if anyone would bring an accusation, that you should examine it.” Hadrian further explained that if Christians were found guilty they should be judged “according to the heinousness of the crime.” If the accusers were only slandering the believers, then those who inaccurately made the charges were to be punished.” http://www.westarkchurchofchrist.org/library/extrabiblical.htm

All he is doing is speaking of the way to treat Christians based on their crimes not based on the fact that they are Christians. A noble quote, for sure, but not evidence for the existence, let alone godhood of Jesus.

A piece of evidence that would make an apologist not bring up Hadrian may be this:

“There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis. Even the Patriarch himself, when he comes to Egypt, is forced by some to worship Serapis, by others to worship Christ.“ http://caesarsmessiah.com/blog/2011/11/hadrian-wrote-that-serapis-and-christ-were-the-same-god/

He wrote that Jesus and Serapis were the same god. Strange indeed. If you want Hadrian to be used as evidence that Jesus existed then we would have to also accept that Jesus and Serapis were the same deity.

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Talmud

The Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical teachings, supposedly referencing Jesus’ death, the passage in question:

“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!” –excerpt from the Talmud, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Talmud

One criticism states that Jesus was crucified, not hanged as the passage states, but I can explain that away by saying the hung him up on the cross. A better criticism is that the Bible recounts Jesus being tried and then executed the day after his trial which was either on or after Passover; no 40 day waiting period and not on the eve of Passover.

Matt 26:2-5 – Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified… …But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

The Bible says he was killed after the Passover; it seems more likely that this reference to an unnamed person who was hanged is someone else and the passage is just vague enough to be used for Jesus.

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Toledoth

I’ve never heard of this source before and in asking for clarification I get this response:

Well of course I have never read teledoth just know him as early historian who wrote about the life if Christ. Let me ask around about that pRticular resource though.

You are citing a source you don’t even know about? Please agree with me that this is fallacious thinking. Considering what I’ve come across I would bet that many people who cite these “sources” haven’t done the least bit of research on them either.

I searched for a source by this title and the only thing I could come up with was the Toledot Yeshu.

Ok, so yes you are right I think. That is the one that has been referenced for me. Have you read?

If this is the source you were speaking of I must confess that I am sure that you didn’t actually look at the sources you sent to me. Laughably I read about this so-called source; it is called an “anti-gospel” and a parody of the life of Jesus.

The stories claim that Jesus (Yeshu) was an illegitimate child, and that he practiced magic and heresy, seduced women, and died a shameful death.

Jewish and Christian scholars agree that isn’t worth discussing as fact.

This scurrilous fable of the life of Jesus is a medieval work, probably written down in the tenth century. …. Though its contents enjoyed a certain currency in the oral traditions of the Jewish masses, it was almost totally ignored by official or scholarly Judaism

I hope this isn’t a source that is seriously being sent around but I fear it is still being parroted to extend the list of so-called sources and evidence for the apologist arguments. In stark contrast to giving veracity to the claims of believers, giving sources like this is harmful to the discussion.

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Lucian

This is one that wasn’t in the original list given to me but I came across it and wanted to see what it had to say too. Perhaps you know of this one but have decided to leave it out because it isn’t good enough but that would mean you approved of the others that were so bad. The passage in question is:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.” –Lucian, http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Lucian

The sarcasm or vitriol in this passage is thick. This isn’t an eyewitness account of either the “distinguished personage” or the death of the “sage”. The link says it was from ~120 after the death of Jesus. I can accept that this is speaking about Jesus but it doesn’t seem like anything more than someone talking about the Christians, he certainly doesn’t give them any credit in their beliefs by speaking about them as he does.

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I would like to comment that it seems funny that the names of the ‘extra-Biblical, non-Christian sources’ seem to be in the same order everywhere. The list that was given to me in the email exchange is the same order as the list on IronChariots and the same as I’ve heard numerous times, though it could just be me counting the hits.

If we accept most of the above as evidence enough that Jesus existed, the following points are made:

  • There was a Jew named Jesus who founded a religious movement
  • He was ordered executed by a Roman prefect named Pilate
  • His martyrdom is likely what fueled the growth of the movement

However, we have not made the points that:

  • The man had magic powers
  • The Biblical account is factual
  • The Bible is a reliable historical source
  • What people believe today is true
  • Suetonius, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, and Toledot Yeshu are useful names to drop as extra-Biblical, non-Christian sources of Jesus related factoids.

If you are one of the people who has been giving the above as sources of confirmation of the claims of Jesus…

to-admit-that-you-were-wrong-is-to-declare-that-you-are-wiser-now-than-you-were-before2

This post is not to say that I am smarter than anyone else. I feel like I have openly investigated the sources and criticized them fairly. Please take the sarcasm in this post as friendly. Above all take the information in this post back to your circles and make sure people stop citing some of these sources as confirmation of the life of Jesus. Admitting that some of the sources aren’t useful doesn’t mean you are admitting that Jesus wasn’t god; it means you are intellectually honest with both yourself and others.

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Myth Math

Noah’s Ark is likely one of the biggest stories from the Bible. In this post I want to show that it just isn’t likely to have happened, and perhaps just couldn’t be possible.

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
-Genesis 7:17-20

So, we have a few very good math problems ahead of us. Not only are they just math, they aren’t even that complicated of a problem. Before we begin I will lay out the parts of the problem that are similar to each version.

First, the size of the Earth. NASA (clicky click) states that the volume of the Earth is 108.321 x 10^10 km³. These are big numbers, but I have all the room I need, it’s my blog. The average radius, the mean of the equatorial and polar radii, is:

(6378.1 km + 6356.8 km ) / 2 = 6367.45 km

That is the radius we will use to find the volume of the Earth and compare it to what NASA gave us.

V = 4/3 π r³
V = 4/3 * 3.14 * 6367.45 km³
V = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258164563961 km³
V = 1078146900000 km³
V = 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³

NASA reports the volume of the Earth to be 108.321 x 10^10 km³. I’d say a difference of 500 km is close enough, yay us!

15 Cubits Flood

So the text states that the waters went up 15 cubits. That is the first measurement we are going to work with. I am going to do the math to see how much water would be required to raise the sea level 15 cubits. But, how big is a cubit?

 

cubit-manBecause I want to give as much leniency to the story as possible I went to the group that takes the story most literally, Answers in Genesis.

They state that the cubit could range from 17.5 to 20.6 inches. I think the best bet for this problem is to take a middle point between the two.

(17.5 + 20.6) / 2 = our cubit
19.05″ = 1 cubit

15 cubits = 19.05 * 15
15 cubits = 285.75″
285.75″ = 23.8′

That doesn’t seem like a flood to me and it certainly doesn’t seem like it would cover the mountains. We are going to go with this measurement first.

So to find out the volume of water we simply find the volume of the Earth during the flood and take away the volume of the Earth. The 15 cubit flood raised the water level 23.8 feet so we add that to the mean radius we found earlier, a difference of only 0.00011%.

23.8′ + 6367.45 km = intra-flood radius
23.8′ = 0.00725424 km
0.00725424 + 6367.45 = 6367.45725424 km radius

If we then plug that radius into the equation to find volume during the flood, V(f):

V = 4/3 π r³
V(f) = 4/3 * 3.14 * (6367.45725424 km)³
V(f) = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258165446319.04806285631451844903 km³
V(f) = 1078150536917.6085 km³
V(f) = 1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³

Then subtract the volume of the Earth, V,  from V(f) to find the volume of the water, V(w).

V(f) – V = V(w)
1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³ – 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³ = V(w)
2705768589.0812231584367839065848 km³ = V(w)

That’s a really hard number to imagine, at least for me it is. Let’s make that volume into a sphere and see how it shapes up (I know it’s a bad/good pun however you see puns). If we take that volume and place it into the equation to find volume and work backwards we can find the radius of a sphere of water, r(w).

V = 4/3 π r³
r = ((3V)/(4π))^(1/3)
r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r(w) = 1188.4360369823730308866574874648 km
r(w) = 738.5 miles

That’s it. A sphere of water with a diameter of >1400 miles would be needed to raise the sea level to just 15 cubits. You know what else is about 1400 miles in diameter?

SLw0NlC

That’s right, a ball of water the size of Pluto would be needed to raise the sea level just 15 cubits. Like I said above though that’s only 23.8 feet of water, nowhere near covering the high hills or mountains.

Maybe we didn’t go by the Bible well enough. It does say “…and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

“and the mountains were covered” Flood

The tallest mountain we know is Mt. Everest at 29,029′ above sea level. If we change our math enough to cover it, not even counting going over it by 15 cubits, how much water would be needed then?

We are going to add 29,029′ to the radius of the Earth from above. Because water levels itself it would need to be at this level around the entire planet to cover any part of it. If you hold that the Earth was covered by a layer of water 15 cubits deep like a film over all the mountains and hill then I can’t do anything for you, that’s ridiculous (and I’m the one doing math to figure out Noah’s flood).

The radius of the Earth from earlier plus the added distance to the top of Mt. Everest:

r = 6367.45 km + 29,029 ft
r = 6376.2980392 km

An addition of just 0.1389%. If we then use that in the volume formulas from above we get the volume during the flood (I cut out the math but you are welcome to check for accuracy):

V(f) = 1085360995411.5541311496090510458 km³

To find the volume of the water, V(w):

V(w) = V(f) – V
V(w) = 7214100000 km³

Now, let’s find the radius of the sphere of water that would be required for that volume:

r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r = 1198.6641207880081840568342435861 km
r = 744.8 miles , d = 1490 miles

Isn’t that interesting? I know I am shocked. It’s less than 100 miles difference. That being said, that amount of water is staggering. Where did it come from and where did it go. Those are the big questions.

I know immediately the believer would bring up:

…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
-Genesis 7:11

There just isn’t that much water underground, nor in the clouds, nor in the ice caps, nor in all of those combined. According to the USGS, all combined, there is about 1409560910 km³ of water on the Earth. That’s about 20% of the water needed to cover the Earth above the mountains.

Another theory I remember hearing is that the water came from an asteroid or some such object. Like we found the object would need to be nearly the size of Pluto to contain enough water, and that still leaves the question of where the water went after the genocide was complete.

The water couldn’t have been absorbed into the planet. Our planet is powered by a magmatic engine that would solidify if cooled by water. Without the core spinning we lose both our magnetic cover and our atmosphere.

It simply didn’t happen. I’m sorry if you can’t accept this point, but I feel like I have shown very clearly that the evidence just isn’t there to accept your claim of a global flood.

Well, that’s it. That was actually fun for me. I messed up the math in a few places because of the exponents and units but I feel this final post is error free. If you disagree with the math I urge you to do it for yourself and see that the only way Noah’s Ark would have actually happened is by magic. Be truthful to yourself and align your beliefs with those things that are provable. And let’s not even get started on the animals.

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A Response to a Blog’s Response to a Blog’s Response to a Meme

I don’t know how I did it but I came upon an almost year old post by an old acquaintance which happened to be a response to this post by an unacquainted third-party. This is my response to each in turn. My initial comments are directed at the unacquainted one or to anyone who holds similar views. Just in case the links don’t work I’ve posted them below.

Original Post: http://brianhblack.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-honest-concern.html?spref=bl

Witzlaw’s Response: http://blog.witzlaw.com/2014/04/reblog-raised-brow-tech-honest-concern.html

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I was brought to your blog randomly (and, yes, a year late) but I must make a few comments about what you have written. I am admittedly much less pithy with my comments than you and for that I’m sorry. First and foremost about this meme and the following quote:

i-think-that-svg4go

“What leaves me laying awake at night is that people can force repercussions on someone for their beliefs, totally contradicting the first Amendment of the Constitution.”

In reading this quote I am forced to assume that you aren’t aware that the Constitution is a restriction on the actions of the government only. The Bill of Rights offers specific protections of individual liberty and justice and place restrictions on the powers of government. The Freedom of Speech says only that you can’t be prosecuted by the government for your speech, it says nothing about the backlash you can receive from its citizens.

The Free Exercise Clause guarantees a person’s right to hold whatever religious beliefs he or she wants, and to freely exercise that belief. Since when did exercising a belief mean that someone else couldn’t have the same rights as you? Your belief is that homosexuality is wrong and you shouldn’t marry someone of the same gender, the free exercise of your belief isn’t being hindered; Believe it, but you can’t force your belief system on everyone else. The only way your right to free exercise would be dampened would be if the government said that you could only marry someone of the same gender (just so you know, I would be against that position as strongly as I am against yours). Being unable to force everyone to follow your belief system isn’t persecution.

“I understand the hate, the fact that we are closing an option for them.”

I don’t think you understand the hate completely. Most of the ire that is directed at the religious is based on the religious person’s stance that their belief is more important than everyone having the same rights. Believing, in your head or heart, that a homosexual person is sinning is very much different from taking actions against that person. Whether it be refusing service or publicly harassing/demeaning them.

I wonder what your position on race relations is. Some very similar statements to those you are making about sexuality were not too long ago made about race. I’m not saying that you are a racist, I want you to think about how hard people fought against desegregation and interracial marriage and now it isn’t even a thought in our mind (most of us at least). Marriage equality will be accepted in the future, don’t be one of those protesters everyone sees pictures of in the history books!

imagine-how-stupid-you-are-going-to-look-in-40-years

“Three years of late night programming and frustration may go to waste if employers start to reject potential leaders on the basis of what they believe.”

“As soon as someone takes a stance against gay marriage, you may as well quit your job.”

This could very well have been a legitimate fear decades ago but there are restrictions (laws) put in place to keep an individual safe from faith-based discrimination in the work place. Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you can not lose your job because of your faith/belief; religion is a protected class. You can however lose your job if your actions bring the company into a negative light. It is then no longer about your faith, it is about your actions. In most jobs you are acting as an extension of the company and as such you are acting as that company, quite like in John 15:2, if you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to you get cut out. Religious belief has very little to do with most careers and shouldn’t even be brought up, especially yours unless you are currently coding for some church.

“It is an opinion and a belief that I hold to be true from God Almighty. It won’t affect how I work in a position at a company.”

What if your company was contracted to program something for a gay person? Would it then affect (it’s affect, by the way) your work? If not, good for you! I hope it wouldn’t, as it very well shouldn’t. What if you said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do the work because of that belief, do you think you should be kept on at that company? How could your belief that you personally shouldn’t be homosexual or marry someone of the same gender have ANY impact on the quality of work you would/could do for a client? Why would their sexuality even come into play/question?

Hopefully you say ‘it doesn’t, it wouldn’t affect my work’, again I say kudos, why then would their being able to get married possibly affect your belief system?funny-protest-signs-7

It is well-known, perhaps more so than Mormons against gays, that Jehovah’s Witnesses are bound to not receive into their body that which isn’t from their body; most notably no blood transfusions. This is a religious belief that they hold dear and will fight to be able to keep, but what is different in this scenario is that they aren’t out in the public arena denigrating those people who have had a transfusion, they aren’t attempting to pass legislation to make it illegal for people who don’t hold the belief to abide by it, they aren’t screaming “persecution” because someone disagrees with them.

Those who want to ban marriage equality must admit that it isn’t about their beliefs being attacked, it’s about attempting to make everyone see things the way they do. Why not hold your belief about homosexuality like the JWs hold their belief about transfusions; Think it’s wrong, don’t do it yourself, but it’s none of your damn business if someone else does it as long as they aren’t forcing you to do it.

Lastly, and possibly annoyingly, you could do with some spell and grammar check, specifically, change the “effect my carrier” to ‘affect my career’ as I assume that’s what was meant.

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And now I switch my commentary to Witzlaw’s post.

 I don’t see this as being very far removed from posting the Family Proclamation (which, incidentally, I’m going to do here), in a public forum, such as my own timeline on Facebook, in my own blog, or over on Twitter.

Actually, it is a bit different. You aren’t the CEO of an internationally recognized company. Also a financial contribution (however small compared to his salary) is a bit more meaningful and has more grip than posting the Proclamation to your personal Facebook wall. What’s that saying… “Actions speak louder than words”.84a3296e2686be248e9d22a6babe8d0e

The last General Conference was, I thought, pretty emphatic about the need to respect others, but doing so does not require that one adopts the views or orthodoxy of the person(s) with whom you disagree. In my mind, it means that one acknowledges the differences, agrees to disagree on those points, and then move on.

This is the best thing I’ve seen you write but I wonder if you see any hypocrisy. In not simply holding your belief but attempting to make marriage equality illegal the protesters are trying to make everyone “adopt the view” that homosexuality is wrong. I said it above and I’m sure you read it but I’ll ask again; Why not be like the Jehovah’s Witnesses are with transfusion? Respect and “acknowledge the differences”, “agree to disagree”, don’t require others to adopt your view, and “move on”.

I don’t know much about you Sander but I think you are in law, as part of that I assume that you very well know the laws about the EEOC and protected classes. I must confess that I was a little stunned that you didn’t say anything about these things when you responded. At the very least you could have reassured this person that their job wasn’t in limbo.

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 I will leave you with a quote routinely attributed to Paul Mattingly (I know it isn’t actually his, it’s a joke from the Ice Cream Social Podcast).

“You have the right to be offended, you don’t have the right to not be offended.”

In The Year 5000

Everyone knows about my connection to the Harry Potter universe; it’s how I have made many friends, I immortalized it in tattoo on my leg, and most importantly of all it sparked the connection to the woman I asked to be my wife. It is not unthinkable that I would relate much of my life and stories to the series and as such I bring you this post.

If someone in the future were to look back and try to line up the events of the Harry Potter series to our history, do you think they would be able to?

There are factual locations and events in the series that could be used as evidence of it occurring in our world, but we have other sources of evidence that say some of the events didn’t occur. Which are we to believe, this single book or the accepted history? The timeline of the late 20th century could be adapted to fit the events in the series; we have had wars, bridges have fallen, explosions have happened. Some of the more mystical events must be taken on faith to have happened because there isn’t any other evidence that they did or could have happened. (Please note: I am not saying that the events of the series ever happened or ever could have or will happen)

If the timeline that has been set up from multiple sources in history must be adapted to fit just this one story/book, perhaps there is a possibility that the story was made up, or at the very least had some changes throughout history that have damaged its factual basis.

I hope you agree that the above scenario is outlandish to say the least. Please understand how intellectually dishonest this act is. In order to make the story contained in one book seem factual we are told that we should change what is accepted of so many separate sources that have been used to construct our history.

We (the people of our time) have records from the Egyptians, and they are almost universally agreed upon to be an accurate history of the people of the time. If the stories in the bible were literal historical accounts it would easily be discovered in the records of the Egyptians. The proposed timeline of the bible has been made to match up with the records of the Egyptians but only by ‘correcting’ the Egyptian records and the dates associated with them.

I would not state that none of the stories in the bible ever occurred but I am confident enough to state that some of the ‘facts’ contained in the true stories most likely have been exaggerated or falsified, either purposefully or not. I will say that the events of the bible are NOT a literal, factual, history of our people and should only be accepted as true as we would accept Harry Potter. Basically there are parts that are true, there are parts that are exaggerations of reality, and there are parts that are unbelievable.

I hope every gets the titular reference there, if not please click here.

In re: In re:

I know the title sucks but sorry I couldn’t come up with something right now. Basically this post is a rebuttal post to Witzlaw at Blogger. Obviously I’d like you to read his first as mine is merely a rebuttal of his statements. Its long, I’m sorry, but it is needed. There are many misconceptions and errors in the blogger post I hope to confront and correct.

http://blog.witzlaw.com/2014/01/in-re-faith-versus-atheism.html

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By the definitions set in this post I would be considered an agnostic, but these definitions are not the generally accepted ones. First and foremost atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive. Agnostic and Gnostic are mutually exclusive; Theist and Atheist are mutually exclusive. Actually if you want to be nit-picky we are all atheists about the vast majority of the gods that have ever existed (or said to have existed), I just go a few more. A Venn diagram or Punnett square are the best ways to look at these terms.

Most atheists classify themselves as agnostic atheists. One who doesn’t believe that a god exists because they don’t ‘know’ and would change their belief if the evidence supported any god, while most theists claim to be gnostic theists claiming they know that god exists. Someone claiming to be a gnostic atheist is simply untruthful or mistaken on the terms. Similarly a theists claiming to be gnostic is likely mistaken or untruthful. I offer that we are all agnostic.

More directly this post says Atheists “are those who firmly adopt a belief system in which god does not exist, and where there is not even a possibility of such existence.” This is the most blatant exaggeration of the atheistic stance I have ever seen and you need to know that for the vast majority this is not the case. In fact later in his post the author states that atheists are lead by truth, this statement does not correlate with that. This statement about all atheists is akin to if I went around spouting that all Mormons are polygamists. Mine, like most others, is a position that there is not enough evidence to support belief in this particular god and the claims thereof. If evidence surfaced that supported a god claim, and the evidence was sufficient enough, I and most others would change obviously to gnostics but also to theists.

You may be weary of what I have said and retort that some atheists would be hard headed enough to still reject god even after the evidence surfaced and I agree, some would. Have you ever heard of the geocentric theory of our solar system or that our planet is a sphere (an oblete spheroid actually)? There is an abundance of evidence for each of these theories and they are readily accepted as fact but unbelievably there are people who deny them. The Flat Earth Society is the largest.

Objective and Subjective are fairly well defined but the examples given are not the best. Yes a snowball is objective; the cold, the texture, the taste even, but in criminal trials we allow objective evidence but he makes no mention that we also, faultily, allow subjective evidence. Eyewitness testimony is a subjective thing. It is what that person thinks they saw. It has been shown that eyewitness testimony can be faulty and lead to bad results. If you’ve ever seen the show Mind Games you know a bit about what I am talking about.

The example of pain as a subjective thing is not the best. Pain can be examined with scientific instruments and tests. When the body is in pain it changes the brain chemistry and electrical waves. Endorphins are released and a reaction to the pain can be examined. A better example of subjective evidence is, noted later, prayer. Spiritual is a sub category of subjective evidence only.

“I would also submit that answers to prayers are repeatable under the right conditions.” This is a strong statement that has ZERO backing. The answers to prayers are subjective at best. The ability for answers to be repeatably given has never been shown to be true. The conditions given are basically ‘if you believe you are going to get the same answer you will’.

Inference is logic. We must approach logic arguments with care because you can infer truth from another statement but only if the truth is the basis for the argument. He knew his friend had more than enough drinks but what if those drinks weren’t alcoholic? You can have an internally consistent argument that is based on false information.

Why is Webster ok to define agnostic but not faith? I must point out that the majority of the world doesn’t go to Alma for their definitions. Just because this single definition fits his personal need for a definition and that makes it the best for the situation is ridiculous; Webster’s definition is clearly the best.

This idea that saying there is no proof means that there can be no proof is beyond absurd. That is not what the definition says! There is no current proof of what gives matter it’s mass but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any proof to be found. At one time there was no proof that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe but that didn’t mean we would never find any (we did by the way and we found out earth wasn’t in fact at the center of anything).

It’s strange that a theist would liken the argument for his god to the tooth fairy, but since it was laid out I will talk about it. He says the child’s belief in the tooth fairy wouldn’t be called faith by this definition but again this is wrong. The tooth fairy is taken on faith by the child the first time until the money appears, then it is considered, faultily I’ll admit, an objective belief. Of course we all know that the entire system of the tooth fairy is set up to deceive the child and they are not faulted for their belief in such myths. The money is given as evidence and the child infers that the tooth fairy is real; remember an inference, or logical argument, can lead to a faulty answer if based on false information.

Again this post restates that having faith means you can never find evidence to validate your point.

Amazingly, the statement, “I would infer that even the most outspoken among them would say that their one guiding principle is the truth,” is one of the best in this entire post. That is the most truthful statement he has made, in fact one of the most out spoken atheists Matt Dillahunty is credited with saying, “I want to believe as many true things as I can and as few false things as I can.” We don’t know absolutely that mermaids don’t exist but we don’t believe until it’s disproven; we don’t believe until it is proven. This is the position of the atheist/agnostic

But on to the main point….

He is correct in stating that Korihor’s statement is similar to what would be said by atheists today because HE WAS AN ATHEIST! Korihor didn’t believe in god and told people about it. Why would this be such a revelation?

“…even the concept of experience seems to be constrained by the need for objectivity, repeatability, and verification.” YES! If you assume that a single experience you had yourself was truth you would likely be flawed. We have experiences everyday that show our senses can be mistaken. Repeatability and verification are extremely important. You see a shadow on the wall or hear a sound in another room; you don’t instantly think someone is in your house. You look around for what could have made the shadow or sound and attempt to recreate it usually to satisfy curiosity and imagination.

Korihor and today’s atheists do not think anyone can look into the future and know of future events. Harold Camping prophesied of the end of the world many times and after each failed prophecy followers dwindled. You likely didn’t believe any of his prophecies and you had the attitude of Korihor when it came to Mr. Camping.

Korihor “characterizes the interaction between god and man as indicative of a form of mental illness.” More and more, lately, the news has had to report on scenes of gruesome death/murder based on religious belief. A Phoenix man takes an axe to his son because he thinks he has a demon inside him. A woman drowns her children in the bath because god told her to. Daily in the Middle East religion is used as the basis for murder. Maybe Korihor was on the right path.

Atheists are not an organization of people who have to think the exact same like religion. There are those who like to ridicule those who have a faith in god, but over all atheists do in fact believe that faith in god is faulty thinking. Publicity of criticism of religion can go too far sometimes but it is the best way to get the message out sometimes. You don’t believe in unicorns but you likely don’t disbelieve them at the same amount as I do. You may think that even entertaining the thought of unicorns is laughable while I think it is possible however improbable. If you wanted to tell other people about my beliefs you would say it was laughable that I believe and that it is ridiculous.

I think this next paragraph is very telling of many religious people. “…but I can also assure you that my own views will not change.” This is not the stance of most atheists but it is the stance of most theists. An atheist will change his/her views in accordance with the evidence. The closed mindedness of this and many other theists is harmful to our world as a whole.

“First, atheism’s emphasis upon the purely objective and the scientific is inconsistent with how even much of secular society operates.”

The rambling of this post is hard to read but it basically states that subjective evidences is used in society sometimes. Yes, it must be. Subjective evidence is used and it just can’t be avoided. The only thing the author doesn’t mention is that the decisions made based on the subjective evidence are relatively meaningless compared to those that are made based on the objective evidence. Guilty or not is based mostly on objective evidence while the sentence or pain and suffering payment is based on the subjective. Who to market to is likely based on objective evidence (who buys the product, who watches tv at this time, who listens to the radio in the car) but whether to use cats or dogs in the commercial is subjective. The subjective evidence is not being used to decide the fate of the world, as well it shouldn’t be.

“Second, atheism’s emphasis upon the objective and the scientific—even to some extent its emphasis on experience—is also inconsistent with how individuals naturally operate, even when decisions are made outside the realm of religion or spirituality.”

Talents are hard to explain. In fact I can not explain them properly, I doubt you can either, but that isn’t evidence of god. Intuition is similar but I have the distinct feeling that intuition is based in our brains on personal experience. The examples given about a manager hiring someone or a cop talking to a particular suspect may very well be some good examples. What about that manager who hired someone who turned out to be a thief and stole from the company? What about that suspect who had enough time to get away because a cop went to interrogate someone else first? The manager and cop made these decisions based on intuition and ‘gut feelings’ too but they turned out to be wrong. I’ve bought a different kind of toilet paper because of a gut feeling but I have since gone back to my trusty Angel Soft. Experience is a type of scientific inquiry, however informal we use the scientific method within our own heads everyday. Look at a child who has had no formal science education and you can see them decide to put something in their mouth, it tastes bad, they see something similar they decide to not try that one because of their experience with the last one.

Our brains are not very well understood yet. Growing up we are confronted with millions of stimuli that affect us is unknown ways. A particular font or color on a sign that at the time you didn’t notice but your brain made note of it. If in that same instance you had something bad happen to you, your brain would likely have connected the two items and caused a ‘gut feeling’ later in life for some unknown reason.

“Third, atheism, as a philosophy, discounts the fact that scientific knowledge is itself very limited and finite.”

“the very best we can do—when left to our own devices, is to make an entire series of inferences and extrapolations to form models.” Yes, we do, that’s called science. The models and inferences are based on very basic mathematical facts and just like the logical arguments above are only as good as the information fed into them. Scientists know this and are careful that the information is as correct as possible. This is why the peer review process is so important in the scientific community. One person doesn’t just say ‘this is how it works’ and everyone believes them; someone says that and everyone tries to disprove it. In addition to the models science is very open about the facts that theories and models degrade at some points and our current understanding just doesn’t work. That is why they keep going!

The author quotes Korihor again but now he agrees with him. “You cannot know of things that you do see.” I must disagree with the both of them. Inferences can be made to gain the knowledge of something I didn’t physically see. The entire field of forensics is based on this fact. The author takes Korihor’s statement and ‘runs with it’ but he just runs off a cliff of misunderstanding. Science holds theories about planetary formation, stellar formation, the origin of life, and evolution; yes, but they are not held so dear that they can never be overturned. Through his rant, the author, has missed one or two points that would go well with his argument: Were you around when Joseph Smith found the golden plates? Were you around when Mormon/God/Jesus/Evil Spirit came to Joseph in the grove? Were you around when Jesus rose from the grave and then came to the America’s?

The author states that it takes faith to make the extrapolations or inferences, but this does not mesh with even the author’s definitions in his own post. And the author makes a false correlation with the inferences based on known data and the belief that god created the universe less than 10,000 years ago.

“Fourth and finally, atheism discounts, discards, and even ridicules the notion that knowledge can be obtained in ways other than the objective or purely scientific. Specifically, it ridicules the idea that knowledge can be obtained spiritually, since this is the antithesis of the view that there is no source that exists which can provide spiritual knowledge in the first place.”

Again the author makes the mistake, knowingly or not, that atheists are completely against even the idea of a god existing. The atheist will change their position depending on the evidence and can usually conceive of a universe ruled/reigned over by any particular god, so this line he speaks of is only for his point of view. “…and as certain as anything, I will not even consider unlearning such things,” it’s so sad to read this and think about how closed minded this person is and that many more people feel this way without speaking about it.

Alma is quoted speaking to Korihor that all things denote a creator god, and the author falls in line 100%. The author then takes to explain that the intricacies of life and the universe are evidence of a creator and another false claim about atheists. Imagination lends itself to be able to help me conceive of the thought that the universe is so vast that we don’t know how abundant or probable life is. We have theories that explain the movement of the planets, the formation of stars and star systems, and even at the galactic level. And again most atheists don’t hold the position that there is no possibility of the existence of a god.

The author says Alma says that everyone can come to the same conclusion as he has about god if they only have the correct state of mind. Basically ‘if you believe you can come to the same conclusion, you will.’ Crazy. Especially since he claims the freedom for the people to believe as they will but (not quoted by the author) in Alma 1 Nehor was killed for heresy and in Alma 30 Korihor was taken before a judge for the same.

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“For just because something is subjective doesn’t invalidate the underlying truths behind what that person is feeling.” A faulty statement; the mere fact that something is felt doesn’t mean it is true and too we must be open to the possibility that our feelings and senses can be fooled. Just because someone feels that they have truth doesn’t necessarily mean they do. That man in Phoenix felt his son was a demon; his evidence was spiritual and subjective but I doubt you would agree it was based on truth. The lady who drowned her children knew god had spoken to her; it was a spiritual truth to her, but I doubt you would side with her. Just because we feel something does not instantly make it true. Many mind games and puzzles are easy examples of this.

“a person who sincerely loves god with all of his might, mind and strength will behave a certain way and desire to do certain things for himself, his family, and his community, within the limits of his capabilities, and notwithstanding his weaknesses and imperfections.”

A good quote on the surface but look deeper and it’s not much. The author states that spiritual truth is objective because that person then acts better. Two things about this statement:
1-What about those religious people who do bad? (i.e. Catholic priests molesting altar boys, the Mormon boys who nearly killed a guy for fun, or honor killings in the Middle East)
2-What about those good people who aren’t religious? (I hope you don’t think you can only be good with religion. I find myself to be a better person now than I was with religion; I am more honest and giving)

The author has likely had a few bad encounters with atheists and has formed his conclusion based on them. I want you to know we aren’t all like that. We have no mantra that we live by. We have no creeds we are bound to follow. The only thing that makes us different is that we require more than feelings to lead our lives. In closing I must ask you to not be completely set that you will never change your mind. Thank you for reading.

Exodus 2

Exodus 2 – Moses is Born, Kills, and Marries

 

Moses is born to a man from the house of Levi and a woman from the house of Levi. We don’t know his parentage? After all of the droning genealogies one of the absolute main characters has unnamed parents?

Remember that the pharaoh charged all of his people at the end of Ex. 1 to kill the sons of the Hebrews. The woman from above had a son and quote ‘when she saw he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.’ I wonder what would have happened if the kid had had something wrong, probably wouldn’t have been hidden I’m thinking.

She hid the child for three months but eventually couldn’t keep it a secret so she took him and made a boat to set him in in the river. After attempting to hide the child for three months she decides to give it up?

And guess who finds the child? The pharaoh’s daughter.

Who is v.7 speaking of? It says, ‘then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter…’ who is the male? The story only talks of the daughter, her servants, the mother and the sister, and of course the baby boy being at the river. I could concieve that it is speaking of the baby’s sister; one of the servants. This could be the reason that when the pharaoh’s daughter calls for a milk maid, the child’s actual mother is chosen; because it is that servant girl’s mother too.

Pharaoh’s daughter gets a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her who turns out to be the child’s actual mother. Apparently the name Moses means to come from the water from what the Pharaoh’s daughter says in v.10.

We don’t know how much time passes between v.10 and v.11 but he must then be in his teenage years judging by his actions in the rest of the chapter.

Moses is grown and joins his brethren, likely working under the slave drivers, when he sees an Egyptian ‘smiting’ one of the Hebrews. When he saw the Egyptian alone and that no one was looking he ‘slew’ him and hid his body. Premeditated murder, pretty wrong but no response from god.

The next day he returned to the work site to find that two Hebrews had been placed in charge of the slaves and were treating them just as the Egyptian had. Moses confronted them asking why they would smite their brethren. One of them responds asking who made you boss basically and asked if Moses was going to kill them just like had killed the Egyptian the day before. Moses got scared knowing that it was known that he had been the one to kill the guy so he fled to Midian. It pretty clearly states that the Pharaoh was angry at Moses and Moses fled ‘from the face of Pharaoh.’

In Midian Moses was sitting by a well when seven women and their flocks came to get water. Some shepherds came and took over the well and tried to shoo the ladies but Moses stood up to the shepherds and drew the water from the well for the women.

When the women returned to their father Reuel and told him the story he told them they should have brought Moses with them for the good deed. Within the same verse, v.21, Moses moves in and receives Zipporah as his wife and then his son Gershom is born in v.22.

‘…in process of time,’ the Hebrews in bondage in Egypt sighed because of the bondage. OK, they didn’t complain about the slavery until now? Anyways, they cried to god to release them. It says then that god remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and he looked unto the children and had respect unto them. I thought god saw everything, did he not see them in slavery all this time? Did he forget his covenant until now?

You Aren’t Going To Read This Post…

Ha, I knew you would read this post, the title was just a joke.

Been thinking and discussing free will lately and I’ll apologize now, I just love memes.

One acquaintance of mine, I like to call her Handy Helper (HH), has been attempting to explain her god and his power and awe to me for quite a while and was the spark of my inquiry. She is quite literally the thickest headed person I have ever talked to as she will not hear or conceded any points I make. She even goes so far as to say that we needn’t worry about the lives of any other person in the world, or at least in the third world countries. More about her later.

As luck would have it, a call came in to a podcast show I listen to and the topic turned to free will. Below is a questionnaire-like response that was given to the caller. Courtesy of Matt Dilahunty of the ACA, I present to you an argument against the idea of free will. I didn’t conceive of the questions but I have changed them slightly because I couldn’t recall them exactly but i have captured the essence of them.

I offer them to you to ponder.

Answer each question honestly and then continue to the next. I do not expect this to change everyone’s mind nor do I expect everyone to have the same beliefs about free will and god, but it is at least something to think about.

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Do you believe god created everything?

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Yes-this universe and our lives are a direct result of that creation

No-why praise him, he is not then the all powerful creator god

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Do you believe god had decisions about what kind of universe to make or is this the only possible outcome?

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Yes-he chose this one, everything in it was created purposefully

No-is he not all powerful?

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Do you believe god has knowledge of the future; is he eternal, knows the future, knows the outcome of decisions and actions?

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Yes-god is eternal and all powerful, he created time and space and knows the past, present,and future.

No-god’s power has limits

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If you answered yes to all of these questions, like most people do, you should rethink your understanding or thoughts on free will.

These three circumstances preclude the option of free will.

A god that created this universe over other options with a knowledge of the future has already decided everything that has and WILL happen. He chose this universe in which this specific set of decisions has already been made; there is NO free will.

Many people believe that the god that created the universe knows the decisions that have/will be made, but the series of question addresses the fact that a god would have known the result of the decisions that would be made in the billions of different options and that god chose this very sequence of decisions. This logically means that the person would sense that they have the ability to choose between two or more options but that god has decided which decision will be made and knows what future decision will be made as a result of this one. Free will could only exist with a creator god if that god did not have knowledge of the future and had very little control over the universe that was created.

Back to HH, her stance is the most firm ‘just believe‘ stance that I have ever encountered. She believes in free will but also believes in ‘god’s plan’ (see the diagram below, the bottom question has so many options that I have presented her with but the loop continues). I have attempted to explain to her that free will doesn’t exist but I have been unsuccessful so far. She is the polar opposite of myself; she completely and admittedly refuses to think about anything she believes. I plan to continue because it is fun to see her try to explain something but then go back to the ‘mysterious ways’ claim. My arguments have never been as concise as the one presented above but also I understand now that my claim must change. I can’t argue against free will because I think free will does actually exist.

I will not try to explain that free will doesn’t exist anymore. I understand that my stance is, now, that free will does exist, just not in connection with the creator god claim, most especially the god of the bible, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.

The atheistic stance is the penultimate free will claim.

I do not accept the claim that a god is in charge and I make my decisions myself; the decisions I make affect myself, my friends and family, my community, and even my world.

That sentence can easily be continued to the conversation about morality, but I’ll save that for another post.

Exodus 1

Exodus 1 – Israelites Multiply and are Enslaved

The story of the life of Joseph and his brothers is wrapped up pretty quickly in v.6.

We are told that the generations of the children of Israel become more numerable than the people of Egypt. The timeline of BibleHub gives about 100 years span between the death of Joseph (1800 BCE) and the enslavement (1700 BCE). Think about that in a mere 100 years the Israelites go from about 70 people (v.5) to outnumbering the Egyptians (v.9).

v.8 talks of a new king coming to power in Egypt who doesn’t know Joseph. It doesn’t say how many kings have taken the throne since the famine only that this is the king who didn’t know of Joseph. Two things must be questioned:

1-Similar to Jacob/Israel, why is this king called king and not Pharaoh? The most likely answer is that the word Pharaoh is an anachronism. It is the title that WAS used for the ruler of the Egypt but we must look at the fact that the title wasn’t in use until about 1400 BCE.

2-How does this ‘king’ not know of Joseph? Joseph saved the country from a seven year famine with a dream interpretation and was placed in power over all the land. Even if the king hadn’t met Joseph in person, he would be familiar with the story of that person, its only been about 100 years after all.

The new king warns his people that if the Israelites continue to multiply and they side with an enemy that Egypt would fall. As a result the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel. Is it correct to think now that the ratio of slaves per capita is greater than 1:1? The population of slaves is greater than the population of the country of Egypt? That would definitely be something that would be recorded in history in more than this single source, but in fact it can’t be found in any of the records of the Egyptians.

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The lives of the children of Israel were made rough, it says everything they were made to do they had to do with rigour. In this instance the bible speaks of the harsh parts of servitude that were never covered when it was the Hebrews that had the slaves.

The king tells the midwives (only two midwives for all of them) that when they birth a baby they are to kill the boys. But the midwives feared god above the king and did not obey him. The king brings the midwives back to ask why they have not listened to him. They responded with little jab at the Egyptians saying that the Hebrew women weren’t like the Egyptians, they give birth to their children before the midwife gets there. Because the king couldn’t get the midwives to kill the sons he commands all of the people to kill the sons and save the daughters.

It seems that he was trying to keep this little bit of infanticide under cover if possible but the midwives wouldn’t listen to him so he had to make it public. Perhaps this is why he didn’t punish the midwives more than talking to them as we would expect him to.

 

Genesis 50

Genesis 50 – The Death of Joseph

Jacob has died, Joseph weeps and then commands that his father be embalmed which took 40 days back then. It even says the Egyptians mourned for him.

Joseph goes to Pharaoh to tell him of the oath he made with his father to bury him in the land of his fathers. Pharaoh accepted and told Joseph to go and to do as he had sworn.

Joseph didn’t go alone though. He took with him everyone from his father’s house, everyone from his house, his brothers (and likely their families), the elders of the land of Egypt and all the servants of Pharaoh.

It says they left only the herds, flocks, and the little ones in Goshen. Undoubtedly they also left the women but they just aren’t notable enough to the authors of the bible.

v.9, It was a very great company. No doubt, with all of those people the group was likely no less than 100 people.

On the journey Joseph had the group stop for seven days to mourn again, but the group and the sons of Jacob fulfilled their obligation and buried him in the cave.

After returning from the burial Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph would change. They feared that since their father was gone Joseph do them like they had done him. Because of their fear they sent a message to Joseph containing a message that Jacob had supposedly wanted Joseph to receive before his death.

The message was for Joseph to forgive his brothers for the evil they had committed against him.

The brothers came to Joseph and bowed before him and said they were his servants but Joseph responded by telling them that he is no god. He explained that the evil they committed against him was god’s plan for good to save the people from the famine. He reassured them that he would take care of them and their families.

Joseph stayed in Egypt and lived long enough to see the third generation born. Joseph tells his family that even though he was to die god would bring them out of the land to the land that he had promised to Abraham and then to Isaac and then to Jacob and then to himself.

Four generations of promises that THEY and their children would control that land and they have yet to. How many promises can be made and not followed through and still be believed?

Joseph dies at 110, he is embalmed and laid to rest in a coffin in EGYPT.

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So, not only the promises about the land but also about getting out of Egypt. Jacob was promised just like Joseph that god would deliver them from the land but now both have died in Egypt. Jacob’s body was at least taken out and buried with his fathers’ but Joseph was laid to rest in Egypt.

Genesis 49

Genesis 49 – Jacob Blesses his Sons

Jacob’s death is really being prolonged.

Jacob calls his sons to him to explain what will come to be and bless them.

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Reuben – Firstborn, mighty, dignity, power, but also unstable and will not excel because of his affair with Bilhah.

Simeon/Levi – brothers of cruelty

Judah – his brothers will bow to him and praise him, a lion among prey, king among the people until Shiloh comes. Jacob explains him as the ruler and lawgiver with the scepter and also the details about his clothing being dyed purple. A strange detail about his eyes being red with wine but I think it was less about the color of his eyes and more about being wealthy enough to have lots of wine; something like ‘I’ve drank so much my eyes are swimming’.

Zebulun – will live by the sea bordering Zidon.

Issachar – strong and stubborn. And something I don’t understand in v.15

Dan – the judge

Gad – will be overtaken but will come back

Asher – will be rich with bread and will yield ‘royal dainties’

Naphtali – a smooth talker

Joseph – fruitful, hated by the archers because of his skill and strength, blessed of the air, the sea, the breast, and children.

Benjamin – will share his spoils.

These are described as the twelve tribes of Israel. The sons of Jacob whose descendants would populate the country of Israel. Along with the blessings he gave them he tells them to bury him in the cave with Leah and Isaac/Rebekah and Abraham/Sarah.

These blessings weren’t very good. A blessing should be used to make people better, to increase the good in the world. He just told his sons about the future and some of them weren’t something to look forward to, except for his favorites Jacob and Benjamin of course.

Immediately after having this conversation with his sons he died.

 

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