Monday, July 19, 2021

My reply to R.L. Solberg on the problems of bible "inerrancy"

This is my reply to an article by apologist R.L. Solberg entitled

Can the Bible be our Authority and not be Inerrant?

Link to original article.

Look, I get it. There are a growing number of Christians who love Jesus and do not want to give Him up, but they are also uncomfortable with some of the teachings of what we might call “mainstream Christianity.”

And if you refuse to say they lack salvation, then skeptics can demand that you explain why it is that some Holy Spirit filled people affirm inerrancy, while other Holy Spirit filled people deny inerrancy.  Does the Holy Spirit "try" to convince ignorant Christians and sometimes fail?  Does the Holy Spirit know exactly what needs to be done to successfully convince an ignorant Christian of the errors of her way?  If so, then the Holy Spirit's failure to put forth such divine effort makes it God's fault if the Christian, despite sincerity toward God, continues to persist in doctrinal error.

Especially those teachings that challenge the big issues we have to wrestle with today. Things like social justice, gender quality, women’s issues, and sexual issues like LGBTQ+.

My advice is to quit trying to change things, because making even one change social policy does little more than create 4 additional problems that didn't exist before.  Keep up that shit, and you wind up with a society that is so complex that it will collapse.  America would be far better off today had it never succumbed to innovation.  Suffrage and Civil Rights might have seemed good from a short-term perspective, but in the long-term perspective, these changes emboldened the people to cry out for further and further innovation, and presto, here we are today, with some states legalizing hard drugs, and the U.S. Supreme Court having legalized gay marriage.  The Christians are correct:  America's problems all stem from its citizens' inability to be content with what they currently have.  

There’s a tension there, especially for those who care deeply about these issues and want to be right with God. I feel the tension, too. And it raises a legitimate question: How do we balance our faith and our love of Jesus with these other important issues?

Good question, if Jesus was the YHWH of the OT, he probably still wanted to kill gays even after the incarnation.  Leviticus 20:13.  Consistency would demand no less.  Of course, I don't trifle about Jesus "fulfilling" the OT laws because the fact that Protestants and Catholics disagree on the theological significance of his death despite myriad scholarly tomes from each camp trying to "explain" it, I find the death of Jesus to constitute nothing more than the death of a mammal.  Thus there is no intellectual obligation on me to consider that maybe Jesus didn't advocate the brutality of the OT morality because he "fulfilled" those laws.  Not even close.

One approach currently growing in popularity is to retain the Bible as an authority but reject the belief that it is inerrant.

A more refined version of that position would be to avoid inerrancy because the bible simply doesn't teach it.  Never having taught it, there is no bible inerrancy doctrine to reject in the first place.  Mainline Inerrancy says "only in the originals", the bible never specifies any such qualification, and only stupid people would pretend that God wants them to wrap their lives around a doctrine that they constructed partially from non-biblical "truths".  If any conception of inerrancy says something that cannot be found in the bible, then to that extend that doctrine is not "biblical".

This gives us some wiggle room to hold on to both Jesus and our social positions. Rejecting the inerrancy of the Bible can help to resolve a number of thorny moral issues. We can, for example, conclude that the teachings found in Scripture against homosexual behavior are outdated, ancient notions that are no longer appropriate. (See my LGBTQ+ sensitivity statement.)

If you don't advocate killing homosexuals, then you have concluded that at least one law in scripture against homosexual behavior is an outdated ancient notion that is no longer appropriate.

However, rejecting the inerrancy of Scripture also introduces some very tricky complications. At first glance, rejecting inerrancy seems to allow us to cut off those old, dead branches from Christian teaching that are no longer bearing fruit. But in reality, we end up sawing through the very branch that holds up our faith. Let me explain what I mean.
What is Biblical Inerrancy?
Biblical Inerrancy is simply the teaching that the Bible is without fault or error in everything that it teaches or affirms.

Only in the originals. But correctly qualifying it that way makes the doctrine unbiblical.  None of the classic biblical texts on "inerrancy" express or imply "only in the originals".  They were talking about the state of the copies that were available to the author.  So "only in the originals" might be a qualification that solves a lot of problems for the trifling inerrantist, but it's not "biblical".  

And since the biblical authors who mentioned scriptural inspiration were talking about the copies currently in their possession (2nd  Tim. 3:16, see v. 15), the bible will require any doctrine of inerrancy to ascribe inerrancy to at least some types of copies in the unqualified way that Paul did in that verse.  Welcome to hell.

This is, by nature, a binary issue. The Bible is either inerrant or it is not.

If the bible were a composite whole, that is valid.  But the bible is a collection of different works from different authors over a time span of 1500 years.  There is nothing about mistakes in Genesis that would require mistakes in Matthew.   There is nothing about the inerrancy of Deuteronomy that would require Romans to be inerrant.  There is nothing about mistakes of Southern Baptists that requires mistake among the Assemblies of God.  Dedication to the "canon" of the bible is a shockingly ignorant thing, because it has more to do with accepting what was produced by the traditions of men and less to do with following what Jesus said.  If Jesus did not require the church to create any canon, then Jesus cannot have thought creating a canon was very important to the spiritual health of his church.  So to the extent the church makes any canon fundamental to its purpose, they are doing the Pharisee-thing and adding to the word of the Lord.

It cannot be “partially inerrant,” since that would be the same thing as being errant.

That doesn't make sense.  There is nothing wrong in saying one document contains a mixture of truth and error.  The evidence in favor of the divine origin of the bible is not sufficiently weighty to justify insisting the bible should be viewed as either entirely inerrant or untrustworthy. Like any other document, there is nothing unreasonable in saying the bible also contains mixtures of truth and error.

The 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy captures the mainstream Christian position on this issue. For our purposes, here’s a simple definition of the two possible positions:

The Bible is Inerrant 

The fact that so many Christians believe this but differ on what they mean, would justify skeptics to label the matter a confusing and pointless waste of time, if they chose to avoid spending time on it.

The Bible is not Inerrant 

Jesus never talked about any NT canon, so Christians are not under any obligation to even care whether any NT book outside of their personal favorite gospel is inerrant.  If Paul the Pharisee wanted others to view his NT writings as inerrant scripture, then apparently upon converting to Christianity he didn't lose all of his Phariseeic tendencies to equate traditions of men with god's word. 

The Bible was written by men but superintended by the Holy Spirit and is, therefore, without error or fault in all that it teaches or affirms.

No, because God can guide you today, without rendering you perfect in the process.  Hence, there is no logically necessary reason to insist that if God inspired the bible, it must therefore be considered inerrant.  You'll have to plead and prove something more about the bible than merely god's "inspiring" it.

The Bible is a collection of writings from good but fallible men. Therefore, some of the things it teaches or affirms may be wrong.

No, you think Moses was the author of the Pentateuch.  You have read plenty of stories from pagans living around 1300 b.c. who slaughtered children in times of war, and you think they are all batshit crazy, not "good".  But as soon as you read that Moses specifically commanded his people to kill children and babies (Numbers 31:17), then suddenly, you insist that Moses is "good" in a very special way.  LOL.

That's the most objective position since the evidence in favor of the bible's divine inspiration is so weak that the bible does not deserve to be viewed as an exception to the rule.

Let’s take a brief look at four aspects of this issue.
“God is inerrant but the Bible is not.”
The progressive Christians that I have read or spoken with all subscribe to the idea that God is inerrant, but the Bible is not. That seems reasonable on the surface. But it opens up the proverbial can of worms.

God opened a proverbial can of worms when he got bored of his perfect pre-creation state and decided to create creatures that he knew would cause him to become intensely wrathful.   That's like a man who knows he is easily pissed off at kids, deciding to have kids.  If the kids make him so angry that he kills them, who's fault is that?  The kids for misbehaving, or Dad's fault for choosing to create the condition under which he knew his wrath would become aroused to the point of killing?

If God is without error, was it His intention to give us a set of writings that He knows contains errors?

The bible doesn't answer that, so maybe Paul would have considered this one of those "foolish questions" he wants Christians to avoid? 

Was God unable to use human authors to successfully communicate His truths inerrantly?

Depends on whether you ask a Calvinist or an Arminian, who differ on whether man's "freewill" is capable of thwarting God's purposes. 

Or maybe the Bible was an entirely human idea that God did not intend we should have created?

Since you couldn't prove the divine origin of the biblical canon to save your life anyway, this seems a reasonable position. 

If that’s the case, what can we as Christians know about God apart from Scripture?

Well the fact that God doesn't want you to know anything about him except what you read in the bible, and the fact that God doesn't wish for Christians to agree on what God is like, might suggest that your religion cannot provide a reasonably certain answer to your question.

In Romans 1, Paul teaches that we can know some things about God from His creation.

Paul was a heretic and in Romans 1 and elsewhere he took the OT out of context.  In Romans 3 he condemns the entire human race on the authority of various OT texts that in their original context were not talking about the entire human race.  In the real world that's called "ripping the OT out of context".   But in Fantasyland, where nothing is ever yucky or wrong, we call it "God allowed Paul to see a deeper meaning than what the OT authors themselves intended".  LOL, is the evidence for God's inspiring Paul to write Romans so great that the only reasonable choice for the reader is to grant Paul an exception to the rule of context whenever it "looks like" he is taking the OT out of context? No.  you will do that because of your present trust in Paul's divine inspiration, but the evidence supporting his divine inspiration is so weak that it cannot possibly place the non-Christian reader under any intellectual obligation to worry about "double-fulfillment" or "sensus plenior"

This is what theologians call general revelation. From the “book of nature” alone we can learn that God is powerful, creative, intelligent, majestic, and so on.

The book of nature also has baboons eating baby gazelles alive.  So the book of nature also testifies that this god is a sadistic lunatic even if it also testifies that he is "smart", just like Nazi scientists were smart, but barbaric and cruel nonetheless.  You will say "I'm a young-earth creationist, animals didn't start brutalizing each other until Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit."  But many other Christians are "old earth creationists" who say God intended carnivores to inflict horrific misery on each other for millions of years before Adam and Eve existed.   If Nature exhibits intelligent design, you cannot avoid the question of what type of morality the "creator" of that design harbors.  If I create a robot that kills humans in complete disregard of their own feelings, individual lives and rights, what does that tell you about my morality?  That my ways are mysterious, or that I'm barbaric?  And yet because the bible uses so much exaggeration, you cannot just read the bible like yesterday's newspaper and pretend that God's "goodness" must prevail over his "works".  God's "word" always calls himself good and righteous.  But if nature exhibits his "works", well, actions speak louder than words.

But does the “book of nature” reveal to us a God who is loving and merciful?

No.  The "book of nature" consists of various different life forms, some of whom treat each other fairly, others of whom treat each other like shit.  The "book of nature" does not give you a consistent position, except perhaps n the sense of a super smart child who creates random robots just to see how they will interact with each other.

If we only study nature, we might come to the opposite conclusion. The world can be a violent and unfair and unforgiving place. Creatures violently killing other creatures for food or fun. Indeed, without the Bible how would we arrive at the idea that God is inerrant?

But some Christians who revere the bible are open-theists, who say God is imperfect and learns from his mistakes.

Wouldn’t we see the violence and injustice and suffering and evil in the world and conclude that God probably got a few things wrong?

No, the god of Deut. 28:15-63 fits perfectly a world full of sadistic lunacy.  See esp. v. 63, where God promises he will "rejoice" to inflict these horrific miseries on disobedient Hebrews no less than he rejoices to provide abundance to obedient Hebrews.  If you try to avoid that carnage by saying ancient Semitic authors often exaggerated to make a dramatic point, then we have to wonder how many other statements about God in the bible, also written by ancient Semitic people, are mere exaggeration, and if so, what damage to existing doctrine would be caused if you started trying to figure out which parts of doctrinal texts were exaggerations and which parts were true.  Does Psalm 90:2 teach that God is eternal?  Or is this merely an ancient Semitic exaggerated way of saying God is really old?  Does John 1:1 teach that Jesus is God?  Or is this just an ancient Semitic exaggerated way of saying Jesus is the greatest of all creatures?

Aside from God appearing and speaking to us directly, the Bible is our only source of direct knowledge about God — including His perfection and goodness.

and God's unwillingness to do everything he can to convince you that you are headed for disaster, also tells you something about God - his love for you is limited.  

It offers what theologians call special revelation. Scripture is God’s witness to Himself. And if that witness is full of errors, what do we really know? Can we even conclude that God is inerrant?

If your human spiritual leaders are imperfect, what do you really know?  Can you ever get the right interpretation of the bible if you are constantly at the mercy of other imperfect sinners who provide you imperfect English translations and imperfect commentaries?

Exactly how stupid is it to give an "inerrant" message to a person without also providing them with the infallible interpretive key?  "Well maybe god wants us to grope for  the "correct" interpretationi" for a few years before he will allow us to detect it!"

Blame it on my genetic predispositions, or my environmental conditioning, or both, but I don't waste my time serving fuckhead leaders who demand that I align with "truth", but who then intentionally hide the truth from me.

Inerrant bible without infallible interpretive key is just batshit crazy, at least in the case of modern Americans who cannot benefit from direct real-time apostolic oral tradition.

And if God allowed first century people to have the infallible interpretive key (i.e., Jesus and the apostles), why doesn't God allow modern America to recover the correct meaning of scripture with equal ease?  Does God hate modern America more than he hated 1st century Palestine?  

Did you ever wonder about those "corporate responsibility" texts in the bible?  Could it be that if God dislikes a great leader in America, God will not merely punish the individual leader, he will do what he did in the bible, and punish the entire nation?  In other words, because most leaders in America are corrupt, "god" punishes the entire American nation (i.e., including Christians)?  Maybe that might explain why "god" doesn't answer even sincere prayers of American citizens?  Maybe God is the type of being who will punish American churches and their members because they happen to be settled in a country that is run by corrupt politicians?

How is that different from God allowing innocent children to be swept up in disasters and crimes that they obviously aren't personally responsible for?  Maybe your god won't start healing Christianity until the American nation stops being so corrupt....because for whatever reason, your "god" coincidentally just happens to believe in the same doctrine of corporate responsibility that most ancient people believed in?

The Problem of Objectivity

A progressive Christian writer named Derek Vreeland brings up a compelling point against inerrancy. In a 2019 article, he claims that “Underneath the arguments for biblical inerrancy is the desire for pure objectivity.” He goes on to point out that there is really no such thing as pure objectivity. Any interpretation of the Bible is going to be subjective based on who is doing the interpreting. To underscore his point, he asks some tough questions:
Who determines the difference between what the Bible is recording and what it is affirming?
Who determines the criteria by which we judge the correctness of our interpretation?
Who determines the meaning of each biblical text?
Vreeland summarizes the problem of objectivity by pointing out the inherent difficulties it presents:
Fallible people have to decide what the Bible is affirming. Mistaken-prone human beings must do the hard work of interpretation. Imperfect people have to determine the meaning and purpose of Scripture.Derek Vreeland

Vreeland’s observations are current. However, what I think he misses is that problem of objectivity gets worse—much worse—if we reject the inerrancy of the Bible. If we accept the idea that the Bible is a collection of historical writings from good but fallible men and, therefore, some of the things it teaches or affirms are in error, we are left with a much scarier set of questions. Then we have to ask:
Who determines which teachings in the Bible are free of error?
Who decides which biblical affirmations can be rejected as faulty?
Who determines which verses or passages we can ignore because they got it wrong?

In all three cases, the individual interpreter.

If we accept the Bible’s inerrancy, the differences of opinion between fallible human beings are naturally addressed by comparing the opinions to Scripture.

No, because inerrantists disagree on what scripture teaches, which would hardly be the case if scripture were "clear". 

The text of the Bible becomes the arena in which the battle of interpretation is waged. On the other hand, if the Bible is errant, we can only appeal to the ever-shifting arena of public opinion to work out the differences.

I don't see the problem, YOU are errant, yet you seem to find your way in the world just fine without some infallible person showing what to do and where to go.  A better question is what's more reasonable:  denying inerrancy because it is false and accepting the consequent increase in bible-difficulties?  Or accepting inerancy despite its falsity so that you can feel secure that there's some magical book guiding your life, when in fact because of the need for interpretation, the book's magic never actually gets to you, YOU are guiding your life by YOUR interpretation of that book. How could it be otherwise?

The Authority of Scripture
Vreeland claims that the language of inerrancy grows out of an “evangelical anxiety of elevating a human critique of Scripture over the intended divine revelation within the text.” And he’s not wrong. We should have serious anxiety about elevating our own opinions over the teachings of Scripture.

But it is an "opinion" that says the bible is inerrant.  When you say "the bible is inerrant", you mean some defined canon of books, different from the Catholic and Orthodox canons.   You also mean that the teachings of the biblical authors are inerrant, which is foolish since it wouldn't matter if this were true, you are never going to successfully trivialize the need for subjectivity.  We see inerrantist Christians in constant disagreement (I'm mean the serious scholars, not just any yayhoo, see Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society).  I have to wonder how dumb it really is to insist that a text that proves to be fatally subjective in meaning, must nevertheless be "inerrant".

If we get to decide what parts of the Bible are right and which parts are in error, we are putting the Word of God under submission to (what even Vreeland would concede) are the opinions of fallible humans.

Fallible humans also wrote the originals, and later fallible humans decided which books should go together.  Belief in inerrancy might make it seem as if there is a decrease in subjectivity, but it doesn't.

In other words, we’re putting subjective human opinions in position of authority over the Bible.

What makes you think the human authors of the originals weren't putting their subjective opinions in a position of authority over God?  You'd be begging the question to say "my belief in inerrancy!" 

If Vreeland is right and the Bible is errant, we need to update his quote to read:
Fallible people get to decide what the Bible got right and wrong. Mistaken-prone human beings get to determine the meaning and purpose of Scripture.

 I'm not seeing the problem, because that has never ceased being the case with Christians for the last 2,000 years.  Once again, inerrant text without inerrant interpretive guide is just stupid, stupid, stupid.  As soon as you start in with "well maybe God wanted a person to be a Jehovah Witness for 30 years before showing them the truth..." you permanently open a door to justifying disagreement with your god.  I don't want to believe something false, EVER.  So if your god wants me to believe something false for any reason, then apparently a sinner has greater desire for truth than even your god.

If the Bible is not inerrant in all it teaches and affirms, then anything goes.

"anything goes" is what inerrantist Christians have given to the world with their contradictory "biblical" answers to issues of Jesus' resurrection, his "deity", the theological implications of his death (Protestants and Catholics disagree on this), abortion, pacifism, death penalty, dating, church attendance, creationism, Lordship Salvation, etc.

Each of us get to decide—as a community or even as individuals—which teachings seem right to us. The parts we don’t agree with, or we don’t understand, or don’t “feel” right can be dismissed as ancient human errors.

Inerrantist Trinitarian Christian apologists Copan and Flannagan (2014) get rid of the bible texts showing God commanded his people to slaughter children, by saying that because the pagans living around the Hebrews in the days of Moses often exaggerated their war victories, we may safely assume the Hebrews did the same.  So since "exaggerate" means "go beyond the truth", and there is no other category this would be except "error", we have modern inerrantists admitting that biblical authors sometimes spoke errantly.

A fanatical inerrantist will narrowly define "error" as a falsehood which the biblical author intended the reader to believe...that way, when errors are proven, the inerrantist can simply scream "satire" or something else and insist that because the bible author didn't intend the reader to take the factual assertions literally, then presto, there is no genuine "error" here.  But they can know nothing about God except from the bible, and there's nothing in the bible suggesting that certain types of error, "don't count".

And, as Augustine so eloquently wrote seventeen centuries ago:

If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.—Augustine

Then all inerrantists are guilty of this, since they all reject biblical teachings they don't like.  For example, they don't like that the earliest gospel found great significance in Jesus' pre-cross teachings, but saw none in Jesus' alleged resurrection appearances.  So they come up with fancy excuses for insisting that Mark had more to say after 16:8.  Maybe the last page went missing.  Or maybe Mark disagreed with the other 3 gospel authors and decided that the resurrection appearances should be limited to the oral-stage.  Or maybe Mark wanted to be less direct in telling the reader that the risen Christ was seen by his disciples.  Etc, etc.  They obviously don't like the notion that Mark intended to end at 16:8.

We cannot claim that Scripture is our authority and at the same time exercise our own fallible human authority over what it says by vetoing or rejecting certain teachings.

That's idealistic, but inerrantists still violate this every day.  If Revelation seems to say something you don't like, you can choose from several different interpretive schools to get rid of the problem.

Recognizing Error
Here’s one way to think about this issue. In order to recognize that the Bible got a particular teaching wrong, we need to know what the “right” teaching is. In other words, we need to claim that we know better than the Scripture, that we have some level of knowledge over and above the Biblical authors.

No, we can know that one biblical teaching is false, if we can prove that it contradicts another biblical teaching.  Because they contradict each other, logically at least one of them has to be false, and whichever one is false doesn't matter, its falsity will defeat a claim of full biblical inerrancy. 

How else could we recognize an error unless we thought we knew the right answer?

By noting that two teachings contradict each other, so that logically one of them MUST be false even if you cannot know specifically which one is false. 

How does an English professor grade her student’s papers unless she knows the correct answers to the questions she asked?

Not a good analogy, the correct answers to English test questions are more obvious than the correct answers to the question of how to "correctly" interpret a bible verse.

And if we know better than the Bible, how can we claim it as an authority over our life?

Good point.  Jesus never expressed or implied that any of his followers ever had to "read the bible" to anywhere near the fanatical degree pushed by modern inerrantists.  Probably because he thought his 2nd Coming would occur sooner than any need to canonize a NT.

The spiritual and moral truths taught in Scripture are not reducible to facts on par with scientific knowledge. With science, we might come across an ancient writing that claimed the Earth was flat. But now that enlightened modern man has actually travelled through space and seen the Earth from above, we know that it is round. But the Bible is not a science book.

But if its words are "inspired by God" then the question is:  how likely is it that a god who is infinitely more fanatical about "truth" than today's inerrantists, might condescend to using mere "language of appearance" when addressing ancient mankind?  Would such a god ever tell a sinner "the sun is setting"?  We accept that language, but only because we don't care about truth to the same infinite degree that the inerrantist's god allegedly does.

This god was allegedly capable of causing even his enemies to believe whatever he wanted them to believe (Ezra 1:1).  So causing his human followers to write in the bible "the world is spherical in shape" wouldn't have been very difficult.  Not if we factor in God's sometimes granting them the ability to physically fly "up" to heaven (2nd Cor. 12:1-4) where they could presumably fly around and note that the earth is spherical.

It teaches us about issues of origin, purpose, morality, meaning, salvation, destiny. These aren’t the types of issues on which modern humanity has uncovered some enlightening new information. These are the foundational elements of the human experience.

We certainly know a whole lot more about human biology today than our ancient ancestors did. And yet, the human body still needs the same fundamentals it always has: food, water, oxygen, rest.

I think that is a valid point, but...isn't this what most apologists would label as the fallacy of uniformitarianism (the present is the key to the past)?  Wouldn't a Christian have a problem with you presuming that the way human bodies work today is the way they worked in the past?  After all, using the present to interpret the past is precisely why naturalism rejects the miraculous aspects in ancient stories.

Humans also still need—as we always have—love, meaning, moral direction, spiritual salvation. Those things have not changed since the Bible was written.

Preaching to the choir.

In Sum
The questions that progressive Christianity asks are hauntingly similar to the question that the devil asked Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1)

Now you are just playing upon the fears of the choir. 

This is how our spiritual enemy began his campaign to draw Eve into disobeying God, and in the process, brought down the whole human race.

Blame it on God.  That's what Calvinists advise me to do. 

Progressive Christianity uses that same question today: “Did God actually say ________?”

Because if they DIDN'T ask that question, then they would have no reason to bother distinguishing alleged words of God, from other works which pretend to give, but don't really give, words of God. 

Fill in the blank with whatever biblical teaching you want. Rejecting the inerrancy of the Bible is the doorway into asking these kinds of questions.

No, acceptance of inerrancy is also the doorway into asking these questions, since as soon as the inerrantist thinks some bit of the bible wasn't in the originals, they confuse their imperfect textual opinion for God's own presence. At the end of the day, a Christian cannot possibly believe anything beyond what his fallible human mind has decided is "truth".

Did God actually say that Jesus is the only way to salvation?

Not sure that it makes any sense to remark that god "said" anything.  If God is spirit (John 4:24) and spirits are not composed of human parts (Luke 24:39), then you'll have to come up with a theory of non-physical-vocal-cords-in-another-dimension-which-can-nevertheless-disturb-the-physical-air-in-this-world, before it can make sense to further remark about the bible god "saying" anything.  It's arguments like this which justify skepticism toward biblical stories about voices coming from the sky.  Or you'll have to establish the possibility of telepathy so that God can "say" something directly to the brain of a human being.  Good luck.  What?  Daniel 9?  LOL.

The OT prophets always spoke dogmatically, yet according to Jeremiah there were many who were false. Apparently, not even when you have the very word of God delivered direct by the true prophet, would it be the least bit "clear" that God is truly inspiring him. 

Did God actually say homosexual behavior is a sin?

Did God ever tell anybody that the death-penalty for homosexuality was "fulfilled" any more than the prohibition on adultery was?  It's probably no coincidence that what "god" wants his followers to do proves to get more and more tolerant and liberal as the centuries roll on.  If you are gay in the days of Moses, you die.  If you are gay in modern America, "we'll pray for you". 

Did God actually say that the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church?

No, that was Paul the heretic. Since he perverted the basic gospel, the question of whether he had anything else useful to say at all, is about as moot as the question of whether Mormons have anything useful to say.  Yes, the probably do, but because of their great heresies, probably best to just completely avoid their advice.

If we regard the Bible as errant, these questions are all fair game for changing the teachings handed down by Jesus and the Apostles into a faith we’re more comfortable with personally.

And you just described exactly how things are in the inerrantist-camp.  They are just shrewd lawyers who pretend they aren't rejecting, but only "interpreting", whereas it appears the more honest answer is that they are doing both. 

On the other hand, if we regard the Bible as inerrant, when we come to passages that rub our modern sensibilities the wrong way, we’re forced to wrestle with them.

A completely unnecessary headache, given how obvious it is that bible inerrancy is a false doctrine. 

And in the end the question is this. Do we adjust our beliefs to align with what God teaches, or do we adjust what God teaches to align with our beliefs?

Neither, God hasn't provided an infallible interpretive key to the bible, so you are stuck forever in subjective interpretation, a thing that keeps even conservative Protestant Trinitarians in disagreement with each other, let alone with non-Protestant denominations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

My reply to Dr. Phillip J. Long on Mark 3:21 and John 7:5

Dr. Phillip J. Long raises the issue of the problems of Jesus' own family refusing in Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 to believe his claims before he was crucified.  See here.  There he even admits there is some evidence that the brothers had seen Jesus' miracles prior to their adopting an unbelieving stance toward him.  Dr. Long has a Ph.d  in NT studies, so his notion that the brothers became skeptical after seeing Jesus alleged "miracles", appears reasonable, unlike several desperate apologists I've debated in the past who trifled that the NT never actually says the brothers ever saw Jesus doing any miracle.

Those texts are genuinely problematic, because they occur in gospels that otherwise say Jesus romped around the countryside wowing people with his genuinely supernatural miracles...leaving modern people of common sense to wonder why so many strangers found Jesus believable, but Jesus' own family not only didn't believe him, they maintained that unbelief all the way up to some point past the crucifixion.  Here's a screenshot of the reply I posted to Dr. Long's blog, the full of text of which follows:



Full text:

Hello, I'm a skeptic, and here's my take on the problems raised by Mark 3:21 and John 7:5:

First, numerous Christian scholars and apologists concede that Jesus' brothers did not believe in him throughout the entire duration of his pre-crucifixion ministry.  Licona is representative of Geisler, Habermas and others in saying
"The preponderance of the evidence favors the conclusion that the brothers of Jesus were not counted among his followers through the time of Jesus’ execution. By all accounts, they appear to have maintained a distance from their brother’s ministry (Licona, “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach”, IVP Academic, 2010, p. 455).  
So which is more likely:  Jesus' brothers didn't believe in him because they were so blinded by jealousy and/or a desire for a military messiah that they refused to apply common sense toward miracles they saw Jesus was doing, like feeding 5,000 and raising the dead?  

Or Jesus' brothers don't believe in him during the pre-crucifixion period because they saw a few of his "miracles" and, like skeptics at a Benny Hinn crusade, decided those miracles were fake?

I take the latter since a) the brotherly-unbelief passages pass the criterion of embarrassment while the passages saying Jesus did miracles do not, so the brotherly-unbelief passages are more historically reliable than the passages saying Jesus did miracles, and

b) it violates common sense to say that Jesus' family could be so shockingly dense toward their own brother who is allegedly doing these miracles ("Yes, we know that Jesus has raised back to life people who were obviously dead....but....we just want a military messiah...can't you just leemee alone!?!")  LOL, 

b) Matthew 10 tells us that the disciples themselves also went around performing miracles including raising the dead, so that when the brothers exude unbelief toward Jesus, they are also denying the ministries of other people where such miracles are supposed to be repeated and corroborated.  So the unbelief of the brothers is so shocking that it screams for something other than jealousy of Jesus' popularity, or some unreasonable biased expectation for Jesus to be a military messiah.

Second, most responsible Christian scholars of today acknowledge that Benny HInn has thousands of devoted followers, yet they also insist that Hinn has never employed supernatural power, or at least cannot demonstrate it so when directly challenged to produce evidence of such.  So there's nothing about the gospel passages saying large crowds followed Jesus, that mitigates the skeptical position I take, supra.  We learn from the health-and-wealth gospel that large crowds can indeed be duped into thinking a miracle happened when it in fact did not.

Third, If we allow the protestants' mostly symbolic interpretation of Jesus cannibalistic sounding statements in John 6:57, then the many disciples of his who stopped following him because of that saying (6:66) can only imply that Jesus had not done much more to ground his messiahship claims beyond "teaching" stuff.  In other words, the "miracles" Jesus was allegedly doing, if any, were not genuinely supernatural, and many of his disciples did not believe those "miracles" successfully corroborated any of his teachings.

Fourth, most apologists trifle that there's no evidence the brothers ever actually saw any of Jesus' miracles, but then you disagree with such notion by saying "John 7 implies they have seen some of his signs yet still do not believe", supra.  So apparently, when skeptics like me who argue that in the collectivist honor/shame culture, Jesus' family would surely have heard back from others about such miracles, even if his family didn't start out monitoring Jesus from the beginning, we skeptics are justifying our naturalistic interpretation from the cultural realities of the day.

Fifth, if we assume Jesus was god since before he was born into humanity, then we must also assume that never during his childhood, or ever in the entire 30 years that his family knew him, did Jesus ever sin.  His parents and brothers during his childhood would have found this disconcerting in the least (and I seriously doubt anybody will trifle that Jesus sinned in his human nature but not his divine nature, just so they can get rid of this bit of skeptical common sense).  

So if Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 are true, it would appear that Jesus' family did not see anything about Jesus in their 30 years of knowing him which gave them probable cause to believe he was anything other than a normal if perhaps extroverted person.  

I have much more to argue, but for right now, the question is whether skeptics can be reasonable to interpret Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 the way I do, supra.  I say we skeptics can indeed be reasonable that way.  It isn't like my skeptical interpretation is failing to take into account any rule of historiography, hermeneutics or common sense.  Yes, I deny the rule "scripture interprets scripture", as that merely presumes the truth of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, a doctrine which I along with most Christian scholars deny, a doctrine that even inerrantists cannot come to agreement on despite decades of trying within the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.   barryjoneswhat@gmail.com

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Once again, I only care to reply to fundamentalist Christians and "apologists" who say skepticism toward Jesus' resurrection is always unreasonable for those who know the gospel and have seen the evidence.  I obviously use Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 to argue that Jesus could not do genuinely supernatural miracles...and it's a very short walk from "Jesus couldn't do genuinely supernatural miracles" over to "God probably wouldn't ground his Second Covenant upon the words and works of a deceiver".

So the question this blog piece will be limited to is:  What is it about my above-posted skeptical interpretation of Mark 3:21 and/or John 7:5, which violates any standard canon of historiography, hermeneutics, or common sense?  If I am "unreasonable" to interpret those texts the way I do, why?  

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Update June 27, 2021: Dr. Long responded to me, and I replied to his response, as follows:

Phillip J. Long
June 23, 2021
Thanks for your detailed response…
“First, numerous Christian scholars and apologists concede that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him throughout the entire duration of his pre-crucifixion ministry”

Agreed, this is uncontroversial.

“Jesus’ brothers don’t believe in him during the pre-crucifixion period because they saw a few of his “miracles” and, like skeptics at a Benny Hinn crusade, decided those miracles were fake?”

This is more or less the gist of the original post, which was about the people in Nazareth questioning the source of his authority to teach and perform miracles. I suspect (although could never prove) that they were convinced by the Pharisees that he was doing miracles by the power of Beelzebul.

“Matthew 10 tells us that the disciples themselves also went around performing miracles including raising the dead”

I do not see any raising the dead in Matthew 10. Matthew 10:1, he gave the authority to drive out impure spirits and heal every disease and sickness. But otherwise the point stands.

“We learn from the health-and-wealth gospel that large crowds can indeed be duped into thinking a miracle happened when it in fact did not.”
This is a great analogy (I am stealing it). I personally would play the role of a Pharisee with respect to Hinn and others and say the source of that power is not God.

“In other words, the “miracles” Jesus was allegedly doing, if any, were not genuinely supernatural, and many of his disciples did not believe those “miracles” successfully corroborated any of his teachings.”

Here is where we will disagree, since in the Second Temple Period a messiah who does not do miracles does not make sense. Jewish messianic expectations drawn from Isaiah 35:5-6 or Isaiah 61:1-2 (for example) connect healing with the coming eschatological age (blind see, deaf hear, lame, leap). Jews at the time of Jesus did not allegorize those texts, they really did expect signs from heaven. Pharisees asked Jesus for signs, and explained his power of demons as a sign he too was in league with Beelzebul.

“most apologists trifle that there’s no evidence the brothers ever actually saw any of Jesus’ miracles, but then you disagree with such notion by saying “John 7 implies they have seen some of his signs yet still do not believe”

Well, I did not know you when I wrote that, so you might agree with me . I cannot imagine the brothers not being aware of what Jesus was doing if the villagers in Nazareth knew he was doing miracles; I have no idea what would motivates an “apologist” to say such a thing.

Barry Jones
June 27, 2021
barry: “Matthew 10 tells us that the disciples themselves also went around performing miracles including raising the dead”
Phil: I do not see any raising the dead in Matthew 10. Matthew 10:1, he gave the authority to drive out impure spirits and heal every disease and sickness. But otherwise the point stands.
barry: see Matthew 10:8…”Heal the sick, raise the dead, (Matt. 10:8 NAU)

barry: “We learn from the health-and-wealth gospel that large crowds can indeed be duped into thinking a miracle happened when it in fact did not.”
Phil: This is a great analogy (I am stealing it). I personally would play the role of a Pharisee with respect to Hinn and others and say the source of that power is not God.
——Why? I see no reason to think there is anything supernatural whatsoever in Hinn’s “miracles”. He always fails when challenged to document his “healings”, and several investigative reports established that a few who got “healed” were not only never healed, but sometimes got worse.

barry: “In other words, the “miracles” Jesus was allegedly doing, if any, were not genuinely supernatural, and many of his disciples did not believe those “miracles” successfully corroborated any of his teachings.”
Phil: Here is where we will disagree, since in the Second Temple Period a messiah who does not do miracles does not make sense. Jewish messianic expectations drawn from Isaiah 35:5-6 or Isaiah 61:1-2 (for example) connect healing with the coming eschatological age (blind see, deaf hear, lame, leap). Jews at the time of Jesus did not allegorize those texts, they really did expect signs from heaven. Pharisees asked Jesus for signs, and explained his power of demons as a sign he too was in league with Beelzebul.
barry: I’m not seeing your point. Even assuming the Jews of the 1st century expected the messiah to do miracles, that doesn’t render unreasonable a theory that one such messiah was only doing fake miracles. But your point would make my argument stronger. Supposing Jesus’ brothers were also caught up in the miracle-working-messiah craze of the first century, then they were even more likely to carefully analyze Jesus’ miracles, so that their persisting in unbelief toward him reasonably implies they discovered those miracles to be fakes.

barry: “most apologists trifle that there’s no evidence the brothers ever actually saw any of Jesus’ miracles, but then you disagree with such notion by saying “John 7 implies they have seen some of his signs yet still do not believe”
Phil: Well, I did not know you when I wrote that, so you might agree with me . I cannot imagine the brothers not being aware of what Jesus was doing if the villagers in Nazareth knew he was doing miracles; I have no idea what would motivates an “apologist” to say such a thing.
barry: They say it because the further they can distance Jesus from his brothers, the less likely the brothers ever saw the miracles, and therefore, the less likely they would ever have concluded Jesus’ miracles were fake, and therefore, surely some other explanation, which doesn’t require denying the miraculous nature of his miracles, can explain that unbelief….such as the brothers being too crazed with a military-messiah expectation to use their common sense when hearing numerous reliable reports of Jesus doing miracles. I reply that this was an honor-shame society where if Jesus were doing anything that could result in shaming the family name, the family would have great interest in checking out the scandal for themselves to decide whether the actions in question were honorable or dishonorable.

But for now, what do you believe is unreasonable in using a theory of Jesus’ fake miracles to explain the unbelief of Jesus brothers? But if there’s nothing unreasonable about it, well, being reasonable to say Jesus’ brothers concluded his miracles were fake, would in turn make it reasonable to conclude that ALL of Jesus’ miracles were fake (who would trifle that only some of his miracles were fake?). And if it be reasonable to say all of Jesus’ miracles were merely naturalistic tricks of the sort that we know televangelists use to deceive thousands of people, then it cannot be unreasonable to say God would be very unlikely to premise his second covenant upon the words and works of a deceiver (i.e., the skeptical interpretation of Mark 3:21 and John 7:5 makes it reasonable to deny that Jesus rose from the dead).




Saturday, June 19, 2021

Apologist Dr. Jonathan McLatchie's bullshit excuse for declining my debate challenge

originally posted September 9, 2017

My challenge to Christian apologist Jonathan McLatchie

The following is the challenge I emailed to Cross-Examined author Jonathan McLatchie,  his reply, and my response. McLatchie is describes himself as one of the "world's leading apologists" at his youtube site, and  apparently has a master's degree in evolutionary biology and is active in other apologetics ministries involving Frank Turek and Josh McDowell, and if that is the case, then his stated reason for refusal to debate me is even less sensible, since apparently he isn't a know-nothing hack, but is quite capable of understanding what needs to be done to validly defend something he believes.
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On Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 10:36 PM, Barry Jones <barryjoneswhat@gmail.com> wrote:

Though I am an atheist, I agreed with and replied to your blog post about how modern Christian apologetics can reduce "Christianity" to little more than a game of intellectual jousting.

In my reply, I insist that apologists Steve Hays, Jason Engwer, and especially James Patrick Holding, bear about as much spiritual fruit as a dead alligator.  The passion for holines seen in the NT epistles and in 3 more centuries of patristic writings is screamingly absent from their online writings.

James Patrick Holding libeled me and I sued him, and instead of doing the Christian thing and apologizing, he hired a lawyer at great expense to himself and his followers, to get both cases dismissed on technicalities...then continued libeling me anyway, as if he was just brick stupid.  Holding's claim to fame is his citing the Context Group to justify his belief that the NT authorizes Christians of today to belittle and defame anybody who publicly criticize Christianity, a position he cannot find support for in any published Christian scholar, including the Context Group, who have disowned him in no uncertain terms more than once.

I am also finishing up a book to be marketed to doubting Christians, to motivate them to not be afraid to take that last step and actually stop having faith.  So since your goal is the exact opposite, perhaps you'd be interested in some discussions with me, especially since I use my blog to advertise reasons for doubt around the internet, potentially reaching the same Christians you are trying to protect.

As usual when I contact Christian apologists, I will be posting this email to you at my blog, to make sure that if you choose not to respond, you will likely be asked why by Christians who read my blog, and they can then decide whether your reason for refusal to engage was because you think I am not intellectually qualified, or because you were fearful that you could not defend your faith in light of my attacks.
Here's a short list of matters I'm willing to discuss with apologists:

1 - There are only 3 eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection in the NT, at best, all the rest are hearsay.  And that's generously granting assumptions of apostolic gospel authorship that I am otherwise prepared to attack on the merits.

2 - Apostle Paul's gospel contradicts the one Jesus preached.

3 - The actions of the 11 apostles after allegedly experiencing the risen Christ indicate what they actually experienced, if anything, was something less than the "amazing transformation" lauded so loudly by apologists.

4 - Because Matthew is in all likelihood not responsible for the content in canonical Greek Matthew, he and his gospel are disqualified as witnesses.

5 - Because John was willing to falsely characterize divine words he got by vision, as if they were things the historical Jesus really said and did, John and his gospel are disqualified as witnesses.

6 – John’s intent to write a "spiritual" gospel as opposed to imitating the Synoptics which he knew had already disclosed the “external facts”, argues that “spiritual” here implies something different than mere writing down of eyewitness testimony.  The historical evidence that is accepted by even fundamentalists makes clear that John’s source for gospel material included visions and not just memory.

7 - The NT admission that most of Paul's converts apostatized from him for the Judaizer gospel, warrants skeptics to be a bit more hesitant than Christians before classifying Paul as a truth-robot.  The NT evidence against Paul's integrity is many, varied and strong.

8 - Papias asserted Mark "omitted nothing" of what he heard Peter preach.  Because Bauckham is wrong when saying Papias here was using mere literary convention, Papias meant that phrase literally...in which case Mark's silence on the virgin birth is not due to his "omission" of it, the virgin birth doesn't appear in his gospel because there was never a virgin birth story available for him to omit in the first place...a strong attack on Matthew's and Luke's credibility.

9 - Paul's belief that Mark's abandonment of ministry justifies excluding him from further ministry work (Acts 15) will always remain a justifiable reason (assuming Acts’ historicity here) to say Mark wasn't too impressed with gospel claims, even assuming he later fixed his disagreements with Paul and wrote the gospel now bearing his name.

10 - Mark's strong apathy toward writing down Peter's preaching supports the above premise that he was less than impressed with the gospel, and likely only joined himself to the group for superficial reasons.  Not a good day for fundamentalists who think Mark was inspired by God to write his gospel.

11 - Peter's explicit refusal to endorse Mark's gospel writing, militates, for obvious reasons, against the idea that Peter approved of it.

12 - stories of women becoming pregnant by a god in a way not disturbing her virginity, are securely dated hundreds of years before the 1st century.  The copycat Savior hypothesis is virtually unassailable, once the admittedly false skeptical exaggerations of the evidence are excluded, and rationally warrants skepticism toward Matthew's and Luke's honesty.

13 - The failure of Jesus' own immediate family to believe his ministry-miracles were genuinely supernatural (the logical inference from John 7:5 and Mark 3:21-31) provides reasonable and rational warrant for skeptics to say the miracles Jesus allegedly did, were no more real than those done by Benny Hinn and other wildly popular religiously fanatical con artists.

14 - The evidence for the specific contention that most of the apostles or earliest Christians died as martyrs (i.e., were forced to choose between death or committing blasphemy, and chose death) is furiously scanty and debatable, justifying skepticism toward this popular apologetic argument.

15 - the mass-hallucination hypothesis does not require the exact same mental images to have been shared by the original apostles.  Mass-hallucination need not require such impossibility any more than Pentecostals being slain in the spirit requires them to all move and talk in the exact same way before they can validly claim to have shared the same experience.

16 - There are contradictions in the resurrection accounts that are not capable of reasonable harmonization.

I am also willing to discuss whatever apologetics argument you think is the most clear and compelling.  Intelligent Design?  You'd be surprised at how easy that is to refute and how it justifies Marcion's heresy.  Messianic prophecy?  I'll discuss whichever one you believe is the most compelling.  Atheism?  I argue that "God" as believed in the Judaeo-Christian heritage is an incoherent concept, which provides all the rational warrant necessary to dismiss it just as quickly one dismisses pyramid power or telepathy. Epistemology?  I advocate empiricism, namely, you cannot give a convincing argument that anybody has ever learned a fact completely apart from their 5 physical senses, therefore, believing facts never come to our minds except via one or more of our five physical senses, is about as invalidly presumptuous as believing the cars I see continue to exist after I shut my eyes. 

I will discuss any other topic you wish. 

Sincerely,
Barry Jones



On Sat, Sep 9, 2017 at 10:20 AM, Jonathan McLatchie <jmclatchie@apologetics-academy.org> wrote:
So let me get this straight: you have a history of suing people, and you are basically saying that if I don't accept, you're going to assume that you won? I'm going to save us both the trouble now, because I am not predicting a fruitful exchange of ideas. Best wishes on your future endeavors.



Jonathan






Barry Jones <barryjoneswhat@gmail.com>           
12:14 PM (8 minutes ago)   to Jonathan

First, I said good things about you and agreed with your basic premise, so I'm a bit less incorrigible/ignorant than you imply.

Second, if you really are the good conservative Christian you paint yourself to be, then you have no rational basis to believe I might take something you tell me and sue you for it.  If you didn't plan to libel or defame me, then you leave yourself no reason to avoid debate with me, especially in light of the fact that in your reply you don't mention any such thing as lack of time or being too busy. If you are fearful that I twist the law to frivolously sue people for libel, feel free to request from me a copy of my two lawsuits against James Patrick Holding, and you'll quickly discover that I don't twist the law or the facts when I sue people for libel.  You might have to face the grim possibility that your Christian brother Mr. Holding is every bit the unrepentant dishonest scumbag my lawsuits and my blog allege that he is, whether this truth upsets you or not.

Third, I did not express or imply that I'd win a debate with you all because you refused to step in the ring.  What I said was

    As usual when I contact Christian apologists, I will be posting this email to you at my blog, to make sure that if you choose not to respond, you will likely be asked why by Christians who read my blog, and they can then decide whether your reason for refusal to engage was because you think I am not intellectually qualified, or because you were fearful that you could not defend your faith in light of my attacks.

That neither expresses nor implies "if you don't respond, I win!".  I leaves it to the reader to decide whether your excuse for refusing to debate is genuine, or pretext.

Fourth, I'm not seeing how my history of suing people is relevant to you and I discussing your favorite apologetics arguments.  You cannot avoid the criticism "the 'sign' in Isaiah 7:14 was not the girl's virginity while pregnant, but the timing between the defeat of the two rival kingdoms Ahaz feared, and the boy's ability to distinguish good and evil" by saying "you've sued people in the past!"   My suing people in the past wouldn't help you escape the sad fact that there are only 3 resurrection testimonies in the NT that come down to us today in first-hand form.  If you think 3 is sufficient to compel belief upon pain of being proved irrational, you can surely attempt to sustain that thesis without needing to bring up the fact that I sued people in the past.

Fifth, You don't say so, but I cannot help believing that some of the reason you are so terse with me is that I really slaughtered the reputation of James Patrick Holding in a rather brutal way, and you are merely miffed at this gaping wound in the body of Christ left by a person you think is a disciple of the devil.  All factual allegations I made against anybody in any of my lawsuits were true, especially the two lawsuits I filed against James Patrick Holding.  Mr. Holding, dishonest fake Christian that he is, chose to pay a lawyer $21,000 to obtain dismissal of my lawsuits against him on technicalities so that he wouldn't have to answer my charges on the merits...instead of settling with me for thousands of dollars less as Jesus required of him in Matthew 5:25, 40.

Mr. Holding's refusal to agree to reasonable settlement was in violation of Jesus' legal advice, supra, and when he finally couldn't stand the pressure anymore, he posted a video giving an interpretation of that passage that he still cannot find any support for from any Christian scholar, liberal or conservative.  Worse, his interpretation contradicts the one espoused by conservative evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg, as I prove in one of my blogs.

Sixth, shame on you for dishonestly pretending my litigation history makes you think I'd be an unworthy or unqualified debate opponent.   I offered you specific debate challenges on specific debate topics that do not require either of us to bring up any living person's litigation history or reputation.  The reader will have to decide what makes more sense:  You really think my lawsuit history somehow proves I'm either dishonest in my bible arguments or too stupid to be deemed a worthy opponent, ...or you are instead fearful that you would lose a debate with me, but saving face is more important than letting the gazing public know the humbling truth.   You are an apologist.  You cannot exactly afford to admit your true fears.  You wish to lead others to the light.  You cannot achieve that goal if you admit there are some unbeliever-arguments that really kick your theological ass to the moon and back.

Well given that my suing people in the past doesn't have jack shit to do with whether my views of the bible are correct, I'm guessing that you are genuinely fearful you could not sustain a reasonable defense of your faith in debate with me, and the reason you lie about why you refuse to engage is because your desire to save face is stronger than your desire to be honest.

One of these days, a doubting Christian will take you up on your offer to help them get over a biblical problem, and will mention that something at my blog encouraged their doubts, then you will have to explain why you think the fact that I sued a lot of people in the past is sufficient reason to turn away from my bible criticism and tell yourself I surely must have gotten something wrong somewhere.  Good luck with that.

I continue to say that your bible-god approves of sex within adult-child marriages.  You have no rational warrant to charge me with foolishness and cataclysmic ignorance until AFTER you have debated me and found out for yourself how much or little I can sustain that thesis as you try to refute it.

When you become prepared to handle academic criticisms of your cherished beliefs in a way that doesn't involve the childish irrelevant subject matter you are currently trying to hide behind ("you've sued a lot of people!", etc), you know how to contact me.

Best wishes,

Barry Jones
http://turchisrong.blogspot.com

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 Update: September 9, 2017:  I just found Mr. McLatchie's Youtube channel, and thus found out he has also formally debated atheists and others, so when this is combined with his academic degrees in evolutionary biology, his "you've sued a lot of people!" excuse for refusing to debate me is even less sensible than I first asserted, but for now, this is what I posted at his channel, and I predict that it will be deleted by him as soon as he notices it:




I responded to another of his youtube videos:




I posted the following to another one of McLatchie's videos, here:




My reply to R.L. Solberg on the problems of bible "inerrancy"

This is my reply to an article by apologist R.L. Solberg entitled Can the Bible be our Authority and not be Inerrant? Link to original artic...