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Richard Dawkins interview: 'I have a certain love for the Anglican tradition'

The world’s most famous atheist shows off his human side

14 September 2013

14 September 2013

‘You owe me an apology,’ Richard Dawkins informs me. It is a bright Oxford morning and we are sitting in his home. His wife has just made me coffee and I have met their new puppies. I am here to discuss a new book of his, but he is smarting from a disobliging reference to him in a recent one of mine. That, and an earlier encounter I wrote about here, have clearly rankled. I try a very limited apology. But it does strike me that Dawkins is more easily bruised than one might have imagined. I wonder if it has anything to do with the deluge of criticism he attracts, provokes and possibly unwisely takes notice of on social media. ‘Do you feel beleaguered?’ I ask. ‘Do you?’ he fires straight back.

The sensitivity comes across in An Appetite for Wonder: the Making of a Scientist, the first of a projected two-volume autobiography. In this surprisingly charming memoir, Dawkins seems especially keen to pre-empt any critics who will attack him for his fortunate background and privileged education — Oundle School and Oxford. ‘Have you met the phrase “check your privilege”?’ he asks.

It is not the only sign of bruising. Throughout the memoir Dawkins makes a special effort to appear, well — how else can one put it — human. He is at pains to point out that he is much moved by poetry and music — particularly the poetry of the late 19th and early 20th century. He relates a poem that regularly moves him to tears, Belloc’s ‘To the Balliol Men still in Africa’, which finishes:

Balliol made me, Balliol fed me,
Whatever I had she gave me again:
And the best of Balliol loved and led me.
God be with you, Balliol men.

As his book makes clear, it was indeed Balliol — and Oxford as a whole — that ‘made’ Dawkins. Several generations of his family — nearly a dozen members in all — attended the college and it is a place for which he holds deep gratitude as well as affection.

What is Oxford to him? ‘Very much the tutorial system. I suspect even Cambridge doesn’t do what Oxford at least did in my time.’ His gratitude for the superb tutoring he received makes him caustic about what is out there in the profession today.

‘I think there is a sort of box-ticking mentality. Not just in the teaching profession. You hear about it in medicine and nursing. It’s a lawyer-driven insistence on meeting prescribed standards rather than just being a good doctor.’ He recently stopped teaching but says, ‘We were just beginning to have to fill in forms accounting for every hour of the day and I think it’s got worse since I retired.’ All of which leaves him more time for, among other things, his oldest adversary: God.

In his new book, Dawkins relates for the first time the full story of his schoolboy break-out as an atheist. In the chapel at Oundle, he helped lead a small insurgency of boys who refused to kneel. The school’s headmaster was in Oxford on the day that the young Dawkins took his university entrance exam and drove him back. During this lift, Dawkins writes, the headmaster ‘discreetly raised the subject of my rebellion against Christianity. It was a revelation,’ he says, ‘to talk to a decent, humane, intelligent Christian, embodying Anglicanism at its tolerant best.’

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I ask him about this. ‘I’m kind of grateful to the Anglican tradition,’ he admits, ‘for its benign tolerance. I sort of suspect that many who profess Anglicanism probably don’t believe any of it at all in any case but vaguely enjoy, as I do… I suppose I’m a cultural Anglican and I see evensong in a country church through much the same eyes as I see a village cricket match on the village green. I have a certain love for it.’ Would he ever go into a church? ‘Well yes, maybe I would.’

But at this point he turns it back around again. I try to clarify my own views to him. ‘You would feel deprived if there weren’t any churches?’ he asks. ‘Yes,’ I respond. He mulls this before replying. ‘I would feel deprived in the same spirit of the English cricket match that I mentioned, that is close to my heart. Yes, I would feel a loss there. I would feel an aesthetic loss. I would miss church bells, that kind of thing.’

And what about the fear of losing the tradition? ‘Yes. I sort of understand that. I certainly would absolutely never do what some of my American colleagues do and object to religious symbols being used, putting crosses up in the public square and things like that, I don’t fret about that at all, I’m quite happy about that. But I think I share your Anglican nostalgia, especially when you look at the competition.’

Then how do we pass it on? How do we make sure that succeeding generations in our country — even if they do not believe — are not so stripped of their religious heritage that they are prey to ignorance and possibly much worse? Dawkins is surprisingly receptive to the worry — and hearteningly impervious to the curse of cultural equivalence.

‘I am thoroughly in favour of educating people in this country in the Bible,’ he says. ‘So you know where phrases like “through a glass darkly” come from.’ But wouldn’t students also have to learn the Koran and all other ‘religious’ books?

‘I don’t think you have to actually,’ he says. ‘Because if the justification for it is a literary one — since in this country we are on the whole not studying Arabic literature — it’s enough to know the King James Bible, like you have to know Shakespeare. European history you can’t begin to understand without knowing about the perennial hostility between Catholics and Protestants so I suppose for history we need to. But I don’t buy the feeling that because we have Christian faith schools we therefore have to have Buddhist and Muslim and Hindu faith schools as well.’

Nevertheless he is concerned that the nice bits of Christianity, let alone making a virtue of faith as a whole, can make the world ‘safe for the suicide bomber’. I put it to him that certain atheists are a bit too keen to lump in the old lady at evensong with the suicide bomber. Some time after 9/11 it became easy for people to say ‘all religion is bad’. Would he agree that we may only now be reaching the point at which we can say that some religion is slightly worse than others? ‘More than slightly,’ he answers.

But what would come next if everyone followed him? I put to him the argument Jonathan Sacks recently made in these pages: après Christianity le deluge.

‘I don’t think I buy that really. I live in a post-Christian world in Oxford, it is quite rare to meet somebody who is religious in academic life now and there is absolutely no tendency for rioting and mayhem and it is extremely civilised.’ (I resist the urge to make him check his privilege.) He is much influenced by a recent book by Steven Pinker which he says shows that we humans are in fact ‘just getting nicer’.

And what about his own followers? He does have some fervent admirers who seem able to worship him and turn on him with surprising ease.

‘Well I don’t know, I can’t help it if that’s true. I would absolutely hate anybody to take what I say as a sort of ex-cathedra pronouncement on how they should behave, I just want people to listen to the arguments and judge for themselves, that’s always been my goal.’

It has been — and he has probably been more successful at it than almost anyone else alive. As we say our goodbyes it guiltily occurs to me that Richard Dawkins is a man more sinned against than sinning.


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  • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

    Well, there would be no Anglican tradition if the Romans and Jewish authorities had not themselves KNOWN who Jesus was, and what they knew (via their agents within and outside the Jesus Sect) was that Jesus was who He claimed to be!

    When one reads the Gospels and match those accounts to (1) what we know from history was the IMMEDIATE reaction of Roman governors towards even peaceful deluded Messiahs (immediate execution); and (2) what the Jewish authorities immediately did to those who preached blasphemies (stoning, and in the case of Jesus, it would have been gross blasphemies), we know that both Rome and the Jewish authorities (in both Judea and Galilee) knew Jesus to be a deity; for Rome a Jewish deity walking the Earth, as Roman subjects believed the Emperor to be.

    This is why the Sanhedrin didn’t also arrest the eleven remaining disciples (Rome didn’t either; and neither did the Sanhedrin press Pilate into arresting the disciples!)! The Sanhedrin itself was operating under the knowledge that Jesus was indicating it was time for Him to die. How did Jesus send this signal to the Sanhedrin? By His entrance into Jerusalem with the mob (which Pilate inexplicably refused to stop by cutting down Jesus and followers while they were far from Jerusalem!), which was a direct affront to the Pax Romana (remember, the week before Passover the Roman governor was always in Jerusalem to prevent such excited spectacles as Jesus pulled off when He entered Jerusalem with the mob).

    Now, thanks to the existence of the Roman Empire, and our knowledge of what happened to persons such as Jesus who attracted the attention of large crowds, upsetting the Pax Romana (the Roman governor immediately cut down such individuals along with their followers), the only way Roman subjects living outside of Judea/Galilee would accept a Gospels’ narratives that had (1) Pilate refusing to arrest Jesus for three years; (2) when the Sanhedrin brings Jesus to Pilate for adjudication, Pilate is hesitant to do so; and (3) after Jesus is executed, Pilate inexplicably doesn’t also execute the remaining eleven disciples, is if the otherwise childishly forged Gospels’ narratives were known to be true! This is how we know (1) Jesus existed; and (2) that Jesus was who He claimed to be! In other words, thanks to the particular way the Roman Empire was administered, we have proof that Jesus was the Messiah…God!

    You see, because there was a Roman occupation in Judea, both Roman and Jewish authorities had to maintain their silence on whom they knew Jesus to be, hence the dearth of Roman/Jewish literature on Jesus.

    • imageWIS

      “we have proof that Jesus was the Messiah…God!”

      No, you don’t. You really need to learn what demonstrable proof is before using the word again.

      • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

        We have historical proof due to the acceptance of the otherwise KNOWN fraudulent Gospels’ narratives by Roman subjects. That is proof!

        • imageWIS

          Huh?? Please try that again.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            As I said in my updated comment (see further up this thread):

            “…thanks to the existence of the Roman Empire, and our knowledge of what happened to persons such as Jesus who attracted the attention of large crowds, upsetting the Pax Romana (the Roman governor immediately cut down such individuals along with their followers), the only way Roman subjects living outside of Judea/Galilee would accept the Gospels’ narratives that they knew from personal experience were false, where we have,

            (1) Pilate refusing to arrest Jesus for three years;

            (2) the Sanhedrin bringing Jesus to Pilate for adjudication, but Pilate is hesitant to do so; and

            3) after Jesus’ execution, Pilate inexplicably doesn’t also execute the remaining eleven disciples,

            is if the otherwise childishly forged Gospels’ narratives were known to be true! This is how we know (1) Jesus existed; and (2) that Jesus was who He claimed to be! In other words, thanks to the particular way the Roman Empire was administered, we have proof that Jesus was the Messiah…God!”

            We know Jesus was who he claimed to be because the Gospels’ narratives would have been laughed at by Roman subjects otherwise, such Roman subjects knowing from personal experience how Roman governors immediately reacted towards persons such as Jesus and followers.

          • imageWIS

            “the only way Roman subjects living outside of Judea/Galilee would accept the Gospels’ narratives that they knew from personal experience were false”

            Utter and complete nonsense You have no idea WTF you are babbling about. The anonymously-written gospels aren’t proof of anything.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “The anonymously-written gospels aren’t proof of anything.”

            Where did I say the “anonymously-written gospels” prove anything? You’ve thoroughly misread the proof! Again, my proof has nothing to do with (1) Jesus; or (2) the Gospels.

            My proof relies totally on the Roman Empire and what Roman subjects accepted as true. Now re-read my amended comment at the top of this thread.

          • imageWIS

            you’ve done nothing but to appeal to the gospels. Your postulation about roman citizens is so utterly ridiculous, that’s it’s not even worth countering. You’ve failed.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “Your postulation about roman citizens is so utterly ridiculous, that’s it’s not even worth countering.”

            The acceptance of the Gospels’ by Roman subjects was critical for Roman subjects, since they accepted what would have been known to be otherwise laughably forged stories.

          • imageWIS

            You keep on repeating the same thing over and over again, but doing so doesn’t make it true!!

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they knew to be false! That’s your mission. Good luck!

          • imageWIS

            Are you learning impaired? They didn’t think it was false, but just because you don’t think something is false, doesn’t mean that it’s true!

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “Are you learning impaired? They didn’t think it was false, but just because you don’t think something is false, doesn’t mean that it’s true!”

            I know Roman subjects didn’t think the Gospels’ narratives were false. That’s my point. They would have known them to be false as written, UNLESS the narratives were already known true.

            I’ll attribute your slow pickup as shock to my discovery. As I said, “You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false!”

          • Thor fenris

            You know nothing of the sort

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You know nothing of the sort”

            Assuming that to be true, it’s now up to you to back up that charge by proving that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false!”

          • Thor fenris

            The slaves knew nothing of the sort. Educated Romans knew it was nonsense.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            Education had nothing to do with living day-to-day under Roman governors and seeing (or hearing) what happened to those who upset the Pax Romana.

            Now, proving that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false.

          • Thor fenris

            No he dopesn’t. The burden of proof is on you. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Why won’t you refute his argument then? I don’t understand. If your right, what is there to worry about?

          • Thor fenris

            Since the roman citizens of the 1st century didn;t convert en masse I think we can safely say that they weren’t taken seriously

          • Nowistherighttime

            Explain to me the rise of early Christianity then.

          • imageWIS

            It was no faster than any other cult.

          • Nowistherighttime

            That’s not an explanation. “Cult”, drop the rhetoric.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            Are you kidding? Christianity was rapidly supplanting the belief in Greek/Roman gods, hence the sporadic attempt by certain Emperors/governors to stamp out Christians, who viewed Christians as threats to the Empire not because they believed in Jesus, but because Christians had adopted a misconceived belief that they shouldn’t support the Empire. In other words, as Christianity grew the particular Emperor/governor saw the fall in numbers of those who would defend the Empire.

          • Thor fenris

            It impressed some slaves with talk of salvation.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Is that a serious answer? I’m only asking so I know whether to engage in a reasonable debate with you on the topic. If your willing?

          • Thor fenris

            I don;t think you are willing to do anything but make unproven assertions then demand I disprove them. I also think that NOTHING would make you change your mind because you will ignore all evidence that doesn’t support your faith. I would love for their to be endless life in heaven so you can;t accuse me of thesame thing. I also think you will just ignore any logical argument presented to you.

            If you want a debate then you will have to bring proof.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “It impressed some slaves with talk of salvation.”

            I wasn’t aware that Pilate and the next nine Roman governors of Judea were slaves?

          • Thor fenris

            So what independent evidence do you have of Pontius Pilates attitude to Jesus Christ or is it all contingent on the self contradictory and obviously fabricated Gospels?

            Jesus special in the yes of the Emporer? Are you claiming now that Tiberius was a Christian?

            And no there is no confirmation of the Gospels from you. Yoru tawdry arguments may impress your fellow converts but they hardly stand to independent scrutiny.

            Your entire argument is based on circular reasoning. You claim the Gospels are real…using narrative taken from…the gospels and acts.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “So what independent evidence do you have of Pontius Pilates attitude to Jesus Christ or is it all contingent on the self contradictory and obviously fabricated Gospels?”

            Have you not read my comments? One of the independent evidences is the fact that Paul and Peter (and their disciples) are preaching at all throughout the eastern Roman Empire. This is an impressive feat for followers of Jesus, a crucified “enemy” of the Roman Empire!

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “I think we can safely say that they [Gospels] weren’t taken seriously”

            You made my point! The ludicrous Gospels’ narratives WOULD have been laughed at as ridiculous childish forgeries. However, as time went on, and knowledge of Jesus spread as a real person who walked the Earth, where ten Roman governors are inexplicably refusing to put to death Jesus’ disciples, who are still attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles(!), the acceptance of the Gospels grew.

        • Thor fenris

          No It isn;t

      • petergauhar

        Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophesies concerning the messiah, could that be just coincidence.? In an interview, one scholar answered: “Not a chance. The odds are so astronomical that they rule that out. Someone did the math and figured out that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion.” Putting those odds in perspective, he stated: “If you took this number of silver dollars, they would cover the state of Texas [an area of 266,807 square miles [690,000 square kilometers]] to a depth of two feet [0.6 m]. If you marked one silver dollar among them and then had a blindfolded person wander the whole state and bend down to pick up one coin, what would be the odds he’d choose the one that had been marked?” He then stated that those are “the same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just eight of the [Messianic] prophecies.”

        Yet, during his three-and-a-half-year ministry, Jesus fulfilled not just eight but many Bible prophecies. In view of such overwhelming evidence, that scholar concluded: “Jesus—and only Jesus throughout all of history—managed to do it.”

        • Thor fenris

          We don;t know that jesus fulfilled the prophecies at all since the Gospels are so obviously faked. The whole invention of Joseph going to Bethlehem there was no such census.

          You have no evidence bar a book written years after the Historical jesus supposedly lived and none by eye witnesses. Its

          • petergauhar

            All you have to do now is prove that the gospels are fake.

          • imageWIS

            The burden of proof is on those making the claim. Please demonstrably prove the gospels are true.

          • petergauhar
          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            There is no burden of proof necessary, since the otherwise ludicrous Gospels’ narratives WERE accepted by Roman subjects, who would have known they were ludicrous narratives!

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “We don;t know that jesus fulfilled the prophecies at all since the Gospels are so obviously faked.”

            You’ve made my point again!!!! The only way Roman subjects would have accepted the otherwise silly Gospels’ accounts, is if Roman subjects knew those accounts to be true! How is this proof STILL not obvious to you?

    • JabbaTheCat

      “In other words…we have proof that Jesus was the Messiah…God!”

      Ah, I see you are pretending to know things you don’t know…

      • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

        I don’t pretend to know what Roman subjects would have known about the Gospels’ narratives. We know from history that Roman subjects, who lived under Roman governors 24/7/365, would know the narratives to be obvious forgeries, UNLESS those “forgeries” were known to be true. You see, when charismatic persons came on the scene, attracting large crowds, the Roman governor didn’t waste any time in eliminating that threat to the Pax Romana, including eliminating any followers. Now, what have the Gospels to say concerning Pilate (as I pointed out in my three bullet points)? What Roman subject would except such outlandishly hilarious behavior on the part of a Roman governor, unless the Roman subject already knew the behavior to be true, and what that truth meant for who Jesus was?

        God KNEW (of course!) what He was doing when He chose the Roman Empire to execute His will…and one of God’s purposes for choosing the Roman Empire is the particular way its governors were trained to administer the provinces, such administrative behavior proving that Jesus was who He claimed to be…God!

        • JabbaTheCat

          “God KNEW (of course!) what He was doing when He chose the Roman Empire to execute His will”

          You should seek professional help for your delusion…

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You should seek professional help for your delusion…”

            You mean to say that Roman subjects should have sought professional help for accepting the Gospels that they KNEW to be false!

        • petergauhar

          Jesus never claimed to be God. John 14v28 says as one example of many “If YOU loved me, YOU would rejoice that I am going my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “because the Father is greater than I am.”

            That verse is not a denial of divinity, it’s an affirmation of divinity, where Jesus’ personnel believe is that the Father is greater than He is:

            John 14: 8-10:

            8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘? 10″Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.…

    • chris heath

      Luckily, Jesus was a Muslim. (According to Muslims.)

  • zanzamander

    Dawkins comes across as a quaint fellow, almost belonging in a Hinge and Bracket stage play, harking back to the days of yore to the sound of leather ball on willow, village fetes and the church bells…

    Talking of church bells, I wonder what his views are on Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, performed five times a day through loudspeakers atop Mosque rooftops, basically shouting, albeit in a melodious and impenetrable Arabic so fond of the Lefty progressives sorts amongst us, that Allah (remember he alone) is the greatest and that Mohammad is his only Prophet. Basically saying to the rest of us non-Muslims who has the misfortune of living around the said edifice, that your gods and prophets that you believe in are all shite.

    Dawkins, like many Western atheists have grown up in a bubble of Christianity totally unaware of the ferocity of Islam. They think it is a game and that they can “take on” Islam the way handle all other faiths and beliefs. And therein lies the fall of all good men.

    • hellosnackbar

      Dawkins is not pro Muslim.
      He opposes everything where dogma trumps common sense!

      • tomblair

        The best way to promote Islam is simply to attack Christianity – and only Christianity.

    • seba

      “Talking of church bells, I wonder what his views are on Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, performed five times a day through loudspeakers atop Mosque rooftops”

      I think you should ask atheists from muslim countries about it.

      • chris heath

        I believe (ha-ha) that one of those prayers involve saying how superior muslims are, and how like animals the rest of the world is. ( A classic reverse, if ever I heard one.)

    • Deanjay1961

      Yeah, everyone knows that Dawkins is basically a dotterer almost unaware of Islam with little to say about it…..Seriously, have you been hiding under a rock? Try Googling ‘dawkins islam’.

  • mikewaller

    The thing missed by most people about Dawkins is how much he has changed his emphasis, if not his tune, in recent years.

    The man who wrote:

    “Natural selection in its most general form means the differential survival of entities. Some entities live and others die but, in order for this selective death to have any impact on the world, an additional condition must be meet. Each entity must exist in the form of lots of copies,and at least some of the entities must be potentially capable of surviving – in the form of copies – for a significant period of evolutionary time. Small genetic units have these properties: individuals, groups, and species do not.”

    can now be heard on a TV programme about his “beautiful mind” saying:

    “To the extent that Natural selection is politically unpleasant, which it rather is, if you were to live your life as though you were continually striving for Darwinian success, then the political result would be very unpleasant with the strong oppressing the downtrodden. (But) we can emancipate ourselves politically by saying “I want to live in a kind of society that is very far from Darwinian natural selection”. I am a passionate Darwinian who believes that Darwinian natural selection has given us our bodies and our brains; but I also believe that our brains have become big enough to rebel against that.” ?

    The contradiction here is obvious. According to the first quotation, although evolved beings can, in principle, do all sorts of things; but only those things which enable their defining genes to persist over evolutionary timescales will avoid the winnowing effects of natural selection. Yet now he is telling us that we can rise above it.

    I think he is driven to hold both ideas in his head for reasons:

    1.The first is logically unassailable.

    2. His values are essentially liberal (in the soft left sense) so the second statement is very much a case of the wish being the father to the thought.

    3. In very courageously taking on religion in its manifold forms, he needs all the liberal support he can get.

    Accepting that, with us, natural selection has “granted” seeming freedom of action in return for an iron grip on our motivational systems (how else would the genes that seem to give agency persist?; and how otherwise do you explain the myriad self-serving horrors for which humans are responsible?) is for Dawkins a nasty thought too far. Hence the caring, sharing Dawkins Douglas Murray interviewed.

    • Deanjay1961

      There’s no contradiction between those two paragraphs, nor do they indicate a change in attitude.

      • mikewaller

        Think about it. The cerebral enlargement which underpins our seeming capacity to act independently of the dictates of natural selection is the products of genes, and, as such, subject to Dawkins second quotation, which summarises the bedrock of the evolutionary process. So if we use the gift they seem to have given us to act in ways not conducive to their evolutionary survival, they and our idealistic behaviour will assuredly go to the wall. Indeed a great deal of The Selfish Gene is about the inevitability of nice guys getting shafted by selfish ones. I am not talking here about being nice to your kin or “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch your”, but actually doing self-sacrificial thinks in favour of unrelated others which is what I take Dawkins to be talking about in the first quote.

        There are two possibilities here:

        1. Dawkins is right, some people can so behave, but this has to be an evolutionarily unstable strategy that will be driven out of existence by selfish individuals who shaft the nice guys.

        2. Dawkins is wrong and neither agency or genuine altruism are stable evolutionary possibilities and we are deluded in both regards.

        I am strongly of the opinion that 2 is correct, not least because developments in what is now called neuroscience are pilling up the evidence that even the sense of self is an illusion. As to how the circle is to be squared by keeping faith with Dawkins second proposition regarding the pivotal role of genes and the observable fact that people do appear to be capable of acting in the strictest sense, altruistically, please put “Family stigma, sexual election and the evolutionary origins of severe depression’s physiological consequences” into Google. If you want it in a sentence, recipients of posthumous VCs confer great prestige on their families whereas cowards do the reverse; and in human affairs prestige readily translates into enhanced mating opportunities.

        N.B.Avoid the schoolchild error of thinking that I am suggesting that is what the hero thinks he is doing. We are not here interested in proximate causes, merely evolutionary effects.

        • Deanjay1961

          If you want to live your life continuously striving for Darwinian success, you are free to do so within the bounds of the law. What you can’t do is derive an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’. Evolution is an ‘is’, you can’t legitimately derive how you ought to live from it. I disagree that it’s an unstable strategy anyway (see Always Defect, Always Cooperate, and Tit for Tat in the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma), but even it were, it doesn’t follow that it’s not the right thing to do. Evolution isn’t about right and wrong, but (in large part) being human is.

          • mikewaller

            I think you are about 30 years behind the science.The naturalistic fallacy and arcane debates about free will and determinism may have kept philosopher in business for centuries, but now we are getting answers from neuroscience that are taking us way beyond that. It isn’t about what “I” want to do. It increasingly looks as if Dawkins’ original description of us all as being no more that survival machines for our genes, was bang on the money. Of course, you THINK you are an independent actor, but that is just an adaptive illusion as can be shown in cases where damage to the relevant cerebral software creates an appalling situation in which the sufferer feel totally detached from the body and the body goes on regardless.

            The reality is we can make conscious choices but only as in-feeds to the ancient control systems that “operated” the organism long before consciousness came on the scene. The key thing is against what criterion are those in-feeds evaluated. Certainly I am convinced that it is the same criterion that has applied since the advent of life: the course is chosen that is most likely to ensure the replication of the genes that shape our motivational systems. Of course, the genes are just mindless specks of DNA and the whole process is essentially pointless; but, for better or for worse, that’s how things are.

          • Deanjay1961

            Science is helpful in informing our decisions, but it can’t tell us what to value. Free will being at least partly, if not entirely, an illusion doesn’t mean we should endeavor to serve our genes.

          • mikewaller

            It is nothing to do with “should” we simply can’t help it, We are the products of eons of evolution; not two or three millennia of religion and philosophy. Regrettably, particularly in terms of how you would like things to be, T.S. Eliot had it right in “Murder in the Cathedral”, even when we do the right thing, we do it for the wrong reason.

  • Icebow

    There would appear to be something wrong with Disqus. Most comments on this topic seem to have disappeared since this morning, and something similar seems to have happened on an American site.

  • geoffreybrittan

    Like all atheists, Dawkins is a heartbeat away from knowing God. God
    is the spirit in each one of us, that awareness of our consciousness,
    that voice that makes us hold back an impulsive slur, rebuke, or
    condemnation. An atheist is a Christian who doesn’t realise that God
    has been standing just outside the door, figuratively of course, and
    that God, whatever has happened in one’s life, will forgive if one
    believes in Him.

    God is not a white man, floating on a cloud, waiting for Bart Simpson
    to stop spitting over the side. Christians have long grown past such
    primitive and simple images. Few atheists seem to grasp who God is; one
    should make a descent effort if one is determined to critique His
    existence.

    Just below the surface, beneath the glibness, Dawkins is a man who is
    standing next to God, figuratively of course, and God is well pleased.

    • Thor fenris

      Just prove that God exists and we will be happy to follow him.

      • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

        I already did! Didn’t you read my initial comment on this thread, posted before yours? Anyway, an amended form of that comment is now further up the thread.

        That proof doesn’t include this proof:

        “Man observes “beginnings” to everything in nature around him, therefore he reasons that since nature can’t be arbitrary there exists a non-corporeal entity that began the physical realm itself.”
        — Dean Michael Jackson (1995)

        I have another proof for the existence of God, to boot! If anyone’s interested, I’l post that proof on this thread too. It’s five times as clever as the “beginning” proof (though, obviously with all these revelations coming my way in under one-year, I must give dues to the Holy Spirit!)!

        • Thor fenris

          Your initial comment proved nothing. Your comment from ‘Dean Jackson’ is just a non sequiter.

          But please post proof. proof is not a pithy little heartwarming saying. Proof is not finding a passage in the bible that says ‘God is real’.

          Proof is at least the level of evidence that it takes to convict someone of murder and all you have offered is opinion.

          • Nowistherighttime

            If you sincerely ask for Jesus Christ to come into your life, tell him your doubts, and disbelief. You will find your proof. There is enough time in your life to try. You could gain everything.

          • Fred Scuttle

            You are more likely to go nuts.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Again with the insincerity. If you want to find God, then try it, you will find all your proof.

          • James Hoey

            Every culture from the beginning of awareness and community has established a pantheon which they absolutely believed in and whose dictates were rigidly followed by the believers. What makes the Judeo-Christian hagiography any more special than Olympus or Valhalla?

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            As I already wrote above three days ago (you didn’t read it!), “The classical gods of the Greeks and Romans were in a distant past where knowledge of them was purely written or through the spoken word. The Jesus narrative, however, has Jesus actually walking among Roman subjects…not a far off and blurry history, but a real, existing entity.”

          • Deanjay1961

            If you tried as hard to find Krishna, you’d find Krishna. You can beieve anything if you try hard enough.

          • Nowistherighttime

            “Man will believe anything, as long as it’s not in the Bible” – Napoleon Bonaparte

          • Andy M

            That isn’t proof. That is called belief. You are welcome to believe, but you are not welcome to lie to others and call your belief anything other than what it is, and certainly not call it ‘proof’. Hard evidence is needed. Visual, tangible evidence that is available for everyone to see at all times. You have none.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Belief in God can be what philosophers calls a “properly basic belief”. Beliefs that are appropriately grounded may be rationally accepted as basic beliefs not grounded on argument. You can experience God through a relationship with him. Some other properly basic beliefs are beliefs in the past or the reality of the external world. We cannot “prove” these, but evidently are true, and certainly are not arbitrary. These are grounded as I said in a sense of experience. e.g, through my sense and experience of the physical world, I can firmly believe in it’s existence and truth.
            So it becomes that arguments for God can serve as distractions away from him, excuses such as “visible tangible evidence that is available for everyone to see at all times”, or “how am I meant to know which God there are so many!”, stop us from sincerely seeking and finding God. Shouldn’t concentrate on the external arguments and fail to hear Gods inner voice and his natural law. If you listen God becomes an immediate reality in your life.

            Regarding evidence for God or understanding, the belief and faith must come first. You don’t seek to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand. Without the belief, there is no understanding. The evidence and understanding serves as, to quote one scholar, “the icing on the cake”.

            It is impossible for God to lie. He has granted us free will. We can freely accept Christ, or freely reject him. If God provides absolute proof, prior to faith, our free will is compromised. We have no way to reject him. God needs plausible deniability, so we can say we freely accepted him and the son.

          • Deanjay1961

            If you search inside for a special feeling of whether someone accused of a crime is guilty or not, you’ll find it: but we’d be fools to let you be a judge who gives his feelings as justification for his verdicts. It’s no good in real life, no matter how well it’s caught on in speculations about deities and afterlives.

          • Nowistherighttime

            I think you’re confused about the concept of a properly basic belief.

          • Deanjay1961

            A properly basic belief is one that is so self-evident that you don’t have to be taught to believe it. Note how belief that the sensory world is real and that things we remember actually happened is different in that respect from belief in God.

          • Nowistherighttime

            I completely disagree. Whether or not you see differences in the two examples, the fact remains, belief in God, is a properly basic belief.

          • Deanjay1961

            That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. –Hitchen’s Razor

          • Nowistherighttime

            Which brother? The Christian or the Atheist?

          • Deanjay1961

            The observation works no matter who said it. I only attributed it because I didn’t want to take credit for it.

          • Nowistherighttime

            For clarification, are you denying that belief in God, is a properly basic belief?

          • Deanjay1961

            I’m denying that you have established that it is.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Seriously?

          • Deanjay1961

            At this point, I’m about ready to deny that you’re even trying to establish that belief in God is properly basic.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Fine, If you want to be insincere go for it. Typical of an atheist. I don’t have the time at the moment, but I will write an extensive reply to why exactly belief in God is a properly basic belief.

          • Deanjay1961

            How is it insincere to observe that, as yet, you’ve not done what you’re finally getting ready to do? I hope your display of bigotry isn’t typical of Christians.
            Looking forward to reading your effort.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Your use of Hitchens’ quote, clearly shows, your confusion with the concept of a properly basic belief!

          • Deanjay1961

            Your comments do everything but support your contention that God is a properly basic belief.

          • Nowistherighttime

            By the way, just spoke to a colleague, who told me your Hitchens’ quote is actually from the Scottish philosopher David Hume, and it’s demonstrably fallacious apparently. I will write an extensive defence of why belief in God is properly basic. I just don’t have the time to sit at my computer all day on forums.

          • Deanjay1961

            It’s a translation of the latin phrase ‘Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur’. It’s usually translated as ‘What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously’.
            If it takes an extensive defense of why a belief is properly basic (a self-evident axiom or derived from one), that in itself is an indicator that it isn’t. ‘Cogito ergo sum’ is an example of a properly basic belief. The act of thinking ‘I think, therefore I am’ verifies it. I suspect you’re convinced by Platinga’s ‘reformed epistemology’, so I might be able to save you some time. Platinga rejected classic foundationalism’s criteria for ‘proper basicality’ without fully replacing it, which leads to his arguments being just as useful for claiming belief in Santa’s elves is reasonable as long as you say it’s a properly basic belief. So your challenge will be to come up with a defense of God as a properly basic belief that can’t be equally as well applied to beings you would think are imaginary.

          • chris heath

            Ahh, I miss that geezer, a proper mind pleaser….

          • chris heath

            Mustafa pint before the pubs shut……thats my religion….

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “proof is not a pithy little heartwarming saying. Proof is not finding a passage in the bible that says ‘God is real’.”

            You’ve mis-read my proof! My proof doesn’t rely on (1) Jesus; or (2) the Gospels, it relies on what Roman subjects would have KNOWN about those Gospels’ accounts when they heard them.

            Now, if my discovery is faulty, then the critics are going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false.

          • Andy M

            No, he doesn’t have to prove that. What he is saying is that nothing you are told by other humans on this topic can be proven to be true, and the same applies to humans living in the past such as Romans. There is no tangible, irrefutable, visual evidence of God. It is always just words on a page written by other humans. Nobody has to be required to assume that things Roman subjects believed were fact, no more than you are required to believe that everything you are told is fact without being provided with evidence. But through rationality and reason you have to accept there is no proof of any deity and there will never be proof unless said deity reveals itself to us all in a visual and universally-recognized manner, or you can live life selectively believing some things and ignoring others depending on your own personal whims and agendas. The latter might make you happy (ignorance is bliss), but it won’t ever make you correct or rational, or able to prove your belief.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “There is no tangible, irrefutable, visual evidence of God.”

            Yes there was, and His name was Jesus, whom Roman subjects accepted as true because they knew the otherwise childishly formed Gospels’ narratives to be true!

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false!

          • Andy M

            No, I am not going to have to prove anything, because there is no evidence of anything other than that they, like you, believed in a being that there was no evidence for. Jesus is not god. Jesus is a religious figure who has had bestowed upon him superhuman abilities by the imaginations of those who want to believe he is the son of a mythical deity named ‘God’. There is evidence of a MAN named Jesus. Nothing more.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “…because there is no evidence of anything other than that they…”

            The proof went right over your head! Though, I suspect you’re in shock, which means you’re suffering from cognitive dissonance.

          • Andy M

            You don’t understand. That isn’t proof of anything other than belief. You are making the inference that this belief immediately grants it was true, otherwise they wouldn’t believe it. There is no evidence of that and you cannot make presumptions as to why they believed, let alone claim that this belief is concrete evidence that it validates what they believed in. That is your speculation and as far from fact as possible.

            This also can’t explain the reason why there were many other religions pre-dating Christianity and the other Abrahamic religions. If you want to argue using trends and inferences, then the trend of religions being created by members of societies in order to appease and control the uneducated masses spans throughout history, rather than just the Abrahamic timeframe, and there is plenty of psychological theory to back that up rather than just a hopeful ‘well they believed it, so it must be true’.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You don’t understand. That isn’t proof of anything other than belief.”

            Again, you’re obviously in shock! Your brain is telling you that proof isn’t proof!

            Once more, you’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false! There’s the verifiable proof that you are struggling against.

          • Andy M

            You can’t deal with what I said so you won’t address it. You have no comeback for any of this, particularly the issues with pre-Abahamic religions, so you simply give a silly one-line response that means nothing. My work here is done.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You can’t prove what I said wrong, so you won’t address it. ”

            You said nothing right so far, but still I address you with the proof:

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false!

          • Andy M

            I already stated that this is what you were inferring and that it no way means I have to prove that. You are making an inference and an assumption. Once again, no sign of you addressing pre-Abrahamic religions. Boring. Next please.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You are making an inference and an assumption.”

            It’s a fact. Learn your Roman history!

            For the third time, “You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false!”

          • Andy M

            Learn to draw a distinction between making assumptions based on historical documents and identifying evidence-based facts based on historical documents.

            For the third time, I don’t have to prove anything as I am not the one making claims that I can’t provide evidence for. That would be you and your religious chums. Your claims are all hypothetical psychological and social speculation.

            Thus, if you want to speculate about this, then you immediately open the door for me to speculate about how humans are geared to need to believe in deities with no need for evidence and that because so many deities were invented by societies before this Christian deity, not to mention parallel societies with contradicting Abrahamic religions, it makes it obvious that Christianity is simply another cog in the wheel of organised religion, another attempt to make sense of life, to control the masses and ultimately another mythical and unprovable belief system. There’s an obvious pattern – societies invent deities.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “Learn to draw a distinction between making assumptions based on historical documents and identifying evidence-based facts based on historical documents.”

            For the fourth time, my proof has NOTHING to do with the Gospels. My discovery has to do with Roman subjects and what they would have known to be a childishly forged narrative.

          • Andy M

            For the fourth time, making assumptions based on your own interpretations of historical documents is NOT proof.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “For the fourth time, making assumptions based on your own interpretations of historical documents is NOT proof.”

            For the FIFTH time, I’m not making assumptions on historical documents, I’m referencing the historical facts of how Roman governors immediately reacted to crowd-attracting charismatics and their followers…immediate death. In the case of Jesus, whether or not Jesus was real or fiction, Roman subjects accepted the otherwise fake narrative, but would have only done so if the narrative was known to be true.

          • Andy M

            You are making assumptions. Stating otherwise is simply lying and/or displaying ignorance of your own actions. Either way it is not doing the credibility of your views any favours.

            You are assuming that by cause-and-effect it is true, due to a set of conditions and thought-processes that you have attributed to different groups from that period of history, which you cannot possibly prove to be accurate or factual without any experience of the reality of living in that time. Your analogy is ok but once again it’s all theory and relies on us assuming that society 100 years ago was the same as the society in the time of Jesus. It also relies on the idea that there is only one possible chain of events and reaction to events by various parties. You are giving your interpretation of the behavior of various groups of people in reaction to events. I could give my own interpretation of why people thought they knew something to be true and therefore accepted it even though the behaviour of the governors was out of character. It’s your interpretation of events.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “Your analogy is ok but once again it’s all theory and relies on us assuming that society 100 years ago was the same as the society in the time of Jesus.”

            No it doesn’t assume any such thing! Where did I say society during World War II was the same as Imperial Roman society?

            My analogy relies on individuals and what individuals know WITHIN each of those two societies, not that the two societies were the same.

          • Andy M

            I have not idea why you bothered to focus on that sentence. I was fine with the analogy, but it made no difference to the ultimate issue. However, you said:

            “Where did I say society during World War II was the same as Imperial Roman society?”

            I never claimed you did say it was the same. I said your analogy relies on us assuming it was the same. By society, I mean the level of education, the social awareness, the physical development of the human brain in society at that time – society in the times of the creation of the Bible and before was not developed. people were not as advanced, and could have been convinced something was true far easier than today without the need for concrete evidence.

            Even if I just wave everything you said with regards to the analogy through my nonsense filter for a moment, it still doesn’t make any difference to the key to all of this – the Roman subjects cannot be proven to have KNOWN anything. You are making the assumption they all knew something, based on your own interpretation of events. You think they by process of elimination the only reason they would have accepted such a narrative is if they knew it was true. This isn’t the only explanation for why they would accept such a narrative. Even if it was granted that by default they had to have known, you are making the assumption that their knowledge is infact correct. This once again goes back the the fact that society then was not as advanced as it is now, and raises issues relating to the flawed nature of the human mind. You are wrong to state that they had to have known something as being unquestionably true. It’s impossible to assert with evidence that this was the case. You can have this opinion, but it is just an opinion.

            They believed something to be true based on a combination of events that took place and actions that were made by various individuals, which led to convincing them it was true. This is not evidence and all this is proof of is that they believed in something and therefore that belief led to them accepting the story even though it had the various groups playing very out-of-character roles. No-one is denying it wasn’t a very complex situation, but that isn’t going to prove they had to have known anything.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            ‘”Where did I say society during World War II was the same as Imperial Roman society?”

            I never claimed you did say it was the same.”

            Yes you did! You said, “[My] analogy…relies on us assuming that society 100 years ago was the same as the society in the time of Jesus.”

          • Andy M

            So where did I say that YOU said it was the same. I said the fact you made an analogy, which (the analogy) relies on US assuming…

            I never at any point stated or claimed that “YOU” said it was the same. Where is the sentence you can quote where I say this? You won’t be able to find it :)

            Noticeable lack of ability to respond to the rest of my post. As expected.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “So where did I say that YOU said it was the same.”

            LOL! Who are you replying to when you said, “Your analogy is ok but once again it’s all theory and relies on us assuming that society 100 years ago was the same as the society in the time of Jesus.” You’re claiming I inadvertently made the comparison.

            “Noticeable lack of ability to respond to the rest of my post. As expected.”

            There’s nothing to respond to since by your admitting my “analogy is ok” you admitted, though unknowingly, defeat!

          • Andy M

            No, I admitted your analogy was ok in terms of drawing a parallel. That’s it. If “ok” is all you strive for in life… well, that explains a lot. The rest of my post destroys all your arguement on a different level to your analogy, which is insignificant and of no importance. You clearly didn’t read what I said or you’d realise this.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “No, I admitted your analogy was ok in terms of drawing a parallel.”

            I very well know that, and you’re still in denial to what that “ok” parallel means…your defeat.

            “If “ok” is all you strive for in life.”

            What has life got to do with a logical debate? Let’s not get philosophical, now! If the analogy is “ok”, then it is correct.

            Back to where we left off:

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false, just as you would have to prove that post World War II Europeans would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false.

            Clearer, now?

          • Andy M

            You have lost the logical debate because you have still not come back with a response to the points made in my last post. You focused on the least important piece of the post because you couldn’t cope with the points made in the latter part. You have also clutched at straws here by attempting to pretend that by saying your analogy was ok it in some way gives you something. It has done nothing of the sort and it’s rather amusing how you are now showing how desperate you are to avoid having to address they key issues raised any further

            I don’t have to prove that the Roman subjects would accept anything. You are attempting to structure the options in a way which benefits you, when the reality is the following: You are going to have to prove that there is no other way possible that they could have accepted a narrative without knowing it to be true. You cannot, because as I have already pointed out, there are other explanations for why they may have been mistaken in thinking they knew something, so infact this knowledge you claim they have is simply a belief that is unproven. You will have to read through my posts again to properly understand the concept, as at the moment it seems you can’t quite grasp the idea.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false, just as you would have to prove that post World War II Europeans would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false.

            Clearer, now?

          • Andy M

            …and when someone gets this desperate, where they just copy and paste the same dross twice without even attempting to articulate the challenges posed to them, you know they’ve given up all hope.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            You’re going to have to prove that Roman subjects would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false, just as you would have to prove that post World War II Europeans would accept a narrative that they KNEW to be false.

            Clearer, now?

          • Guest

            …and when someone gets this desperate, where they just copy and paste the same dross twice without even attempting to articulate the challenges posed to them, you know they’ve given up all hope

          • Andy M

            You’ve done it again.

          • Nowistherighttime

            Huge fail

          • Andy M

            Nope, I clearly am correct.

          • Andy M

            P.S. Ignoring the pre-Abrahamic religions again are we? Tee hee. The religious are so selective with what they are willing to debate, they only want to talk about things they think they have an answer to.

          • Deanjay1961

            Nobody knows the narratives they accept are false. I’m sure the Heaven’s Gate saps were sure what they believed was true.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            Roman subjects would know they’re accepting a falsehood, since they lived under Roman governors.

            An analogy:

            Imagine the Nazi German occupation of France lasted 20 years, and every two years a new German military governor was sent to Paris. Then after the war several former members of the French Resistance travel throughout Europe telling the story that all ten German military governors* refused to (1) arrest any members of the French Resistance, who went about freely attacking German occupation forces; and (2) the first German military governor refused to arrest the founder of the French Resistance, but the Mayor of Paris did arrest the founder of the French Resistance, brought him to the German military governor for execution, but the military governor was reluctant to execute the French Resistance leader!

            Everyone hearing that narrative in post war Europe, who knew from personal experience how German military governors behaved, would be laughing at the obviously forged narrative, unless they knew the narrative to be true.

            Clearer, now?
            —————————————
            * Ten German military governors equaling the ten Roman governors of Judea between the time Jesus begins His ministry and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

          • Deanjay1961

            Thinking a narrative is true is a totally different thing from knowing it is true, yet people will still die for something they think is true but can’t possibly know is true (as in the Heaven’s Gate cult). Judea during Roman occupation was a rumor mill with all kinds of purported messiahs and wonder-workers being taken at face-value. There was no fact-checking, no one making sure people’s stories agreed. And in your example you have a relatively small group trying to convince the general populace not to believe their own eyes. In Judea, the general populace knew of Jesus only from what they were told by his followers. And that’s a tale that likely grew over decades of re-telling.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “There was no fact-checking, no one making sure people’s stories agreed.”

            You mis-read my proof. My proof assumes (1) Jesus was a fraud; (2) the Gospels’ narratives were a fraud; and (3) that we’re talking about the Eastern Roman Empire outside of the area around Judea/Galilee (I have a different proof for that area, where Jesus was said to travel).

            Now, once again, since Roman subjects would have known the behaviors of ten Roman governors towards Jesus and disciples to be obvious childish lies, the fact that Roman subjects accepted such childish lies is proof that the Gospels’ narratives are true.

          • Deanjay1961

            You don’t know the difference between a proof and a mere argument. At the least, a proof is convincing to almost anyone who reads it. It is almost universally true that someone who proclaims their argument to be a proof is kidding themselves. You don’t even understand the word ‘once’ and seem incapable of entertaining the idea that you could conceivably be wrong about something. I find it difficult to interpret your posts as other than comedy.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You don’t know the difference between a proof and a mere argument…It is almost universally true ”

            proof (prf)

            n.

            1. The evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true. — http://www.thefreedictionary.com/proof

          • Deanjay1961

            Right. When no one finds your argument compelling but people who already agree with you, clearly it is not proof.
            You have a pile of assumptions, each of which has to be true for the rest of your argument to work. Only someone who accepts all of your assumptions will agree with you.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You have a pile of assumptions”

            As I’ve said multiple times, I have no assumptions. In fact, I already told you my proof assumes everything about Jesus is a fraud. Why do persist in these strawman tactics?

          • Deanjay1961

            Assumptions don’t stop being assumptions based on how many times you swear they aren’t. For starters, you assume the average Roman citizen isn’t gullible. Half of Americans today believe in alien abductions, and people were even more credulous then.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “For starters, you assume the average Roman citizen isn’t gullible. Half of Americans today believe in alien abductions, and people were even more credulous then.”

            You can’t be gullible with what you know is a fact, as opposed to being gullible with matters that are hear say–speculation, such as the myths of the Greek/Roman Gods.

            Come on, can’t you do better than that lame strawman tactic?

          • Deanjay1961

            And in the absence of knowing exactly what happened, they’d believe just about anything, with an emphasis on whatever sounded the most entertaining. We don’t have contemporary accounts confirming the events of the life of Jesus. None of the Gospels were written before 70 CE. We don’t know what story the early Christians were telling or what really happened, all we know is what was written down forty years later after the story had decades to grow in the telling.
            You’ve built your ‘proof’ on sand.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “We don’t have contemporary accounts confirming the events of the life of Jesus.”

            You are dense, aren’t you? As I said, my proof assumes the whole Jesus narrative to be a fraud.

            Now, stop wasting my time by repeating yourself!

          • Deanjay1961

            So you’re saying that, assuming the narrative is a fraud, it can’t be a fraud. You’re a right genius, you are.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “So you’re saying that, assuming the narrative is a fraud, it can’t be a fraud.”

            Since Roman subjects accepted a narrative that they knew was false on its face, that means they already knew the narrative to be true.

            How many more times must I repeat this?

          • Deanjay1961

            Until you grasp that ad hoc explanations are not proofs or until you get tired, whichever comes first. You don’t know what Roman subjects thought about Jesus in his lifetime. The lack of contemporary writing about him suggests no one thought he was significant enough at the time to write about, or at least that any such records haven’t survived. Roman governors made no claims about Jesus that we have any record of (Nero had some complaints about Christians, but that there were Christians about is not what is in question). Dozens of mystery cults thrived in the Roman empire. The Romans sporadically persecuted the Christians, but they would go into hiding for awhile and resurface when the heat died down.
            Since you’ve proven you can’t accept the most simple corrections (‘once’ means ‘after’, not ‘before’), it follows that you are incapable of seeing any flaws in your own arguments. Only a supreme egoist goes about proclaiming how ironclad their proofs are, and responds to all criticism by merely repeating themselves over and over instead of actually atempting to address the points raised.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You don’t know what Roman subjects thought about Jesus in his lifetime.”

            Yes we do know what what Roman subjects thought about Jesus in his lifetime, because they accepted the otherwise known false Gospels’ narratives.

            You keep repeating the same mantra, failing to realize you’ve answered your own question!

          • Deanjay1961

            The first Gospel wasn’t written untl Jesus had been dead 40 years. Paul’s writings were earlier, and he shows little awareness of the supposed events of the life of Jesus.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            It took you that long to come up with that observation, assuming it’s true, since the Gospel of John still has standing the gate where goats entered through the Temple wall, and that gate came tumbling down in 70 AD, and John’s Gospel was the last written.

            But that’s neither here nor there as the Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, and in the very early years the unwritten Gospels’ narratives were being transmitted by Paul (and disciples) and later Peter.

            The fact is, the Gospels’ narratives (written or unwritten) were accepted by Roman subjects! And well they would be. Why? Because everyone had already heard that Jesus had indeed raised the dead, and they realized that since Rome in the early years was protecting these “rebels” who followed the crucified Jesus, that the Emperor(s) knew too who Jesus was.

      • petergauhar

        If a person wants proof that God exists then he must make a search, ask questions and seek answers. If a Jehovahs Witness knocked on your door and you said I not interested then one might conclude that you don’t want answers to the existence of God. We don’t want to be like the man described in Psalm 10v4 do we ” The wicked one according to his superciliousness makes no search; All his ideas are: “There is no God.”
        Its up to you

        • Thor fenris

          Oh no. You are asserting that God exists. You prove it. It is not up to me to prove your assertion.

          • petergauhar

            As I said its up to you to look at the evidence. You must make some effort.

          • Andy M

            No, if you make a claim that has absolutely no evidence, it is up to you to prove it to be true. There is no evidence. There are only words spoken or written by other humans, and seeing as humans all have their own agendas and differing priorities none can be trusted to be impartial or truthful.

          • petergauhar
          • Andy M

            What a jaw-droppingly useless link. A website produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes, that’s bound to be impartial…

          • petergauhar

            Everyone is entitled to their opinion but for millions of others it is a wonderful link.

          • Andy M

            They will think it is wonderful because it tells them what they want to hear. It’s a shame that people post such links for others, that tell them things to please them rather than giving them impartial information, some of which might please them and some of which that might upset them.

          • petergauhar

            That’s correct it does tell them what they want to hear. People want the truth about God and the Watchtower does just that. You have made a sweeping statement but not backed up by evidence. If JWS are wrong then who would you recommend as the faithful slave that Jesus spoke of at Matthew24v45 who would be feeding mankind with spiritual food

          • Andy M

            No, people who need to be reassured about their faith want to be told whatever they need to hear, and yes the Watchtower does exactly that, with no regard for impartiality. It is also helpful for those of your ilk who enjoy posting links to overtly-biased material in the hope that it will in some way look like they have an arguement. I have made no sweeping statements, as it’s quite obvious to anyone with a grip on reality what I have said is true and clear to see.

          • Deanjay1961

            You’re asking us to convince ourselves you’re right. You first.

          • petergauhar

            No, evidence comes from many different sources,its not my personal evidence but that of historians, archaeologists ect. Go to the British museum there are many artifacts that prove the bible correct. Sir F Kenyon of the British M in the 50s said that the bible can nothing but gain from an increase in knowledge.

          • Deanjay1961

            Much of the Iliad has been proven true, that doesn’t prove the war started because three goddesses had a contest over which was the most beautiful. It doesn’t prove Achilles was really invulnerable except for his heel. You can’t reasonably infer from ‘these ordinary claims are true’ to ‘ these extraordinary claims must also be true!’.

          • petergauhar

            “Every religion has its origin in Asia.”—Japanese proverb

            THE Japanese are right. The roots of religion are traceable to Asia. More specifically, basic religious teachings and practices found in the world’s religions issued from ancient Babylon, located in Asia.

            In confirmation, the book The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria says: “Egypt, Persia, and Greece felt the influence of the Babylonian religion . . . The strong admixture of Semitic elements both in early Greek mythology and in Grecian cults is now so generally admitted by scholars as to require no further comment. These Semitic elements are to a large extent more specifically Babylonian.”

            The Babylonian elements of Greek mythology were easily absorbed into early Greek religion, which, according to The Encyclopedia of Religion, had “no sacred book in which the truth was fixed once and for all . . . It sufficed for a person performing rites to give credence to a vast repertory of stories learned in childhood. Each of these stories existed in many versions, allowing a wide margin of interpretation.”

            Typical of such stories were the ones told in the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, the renowned Greek poet probably of the eighth or ninth century B.C.E. His works, highlighting the relations between the mythical gods of Mount Olympus and humans, including intermediate godlike mortals venerated as heroes, became a ready source from which Greek religion could draw. That is why, explains writer G. S. Kirk, “myth and religion overlap.”
            You would have a hard job proving the Iliad as truth

          • Deanjay1961

            You would have a hard time proving Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven as well; and THAT is what you need to prove for Christianity to be true.

          • petergauhar

            The bible states that upward of 500 people saw Jesus go back to heaven. It is noted from History that many early Christians went to their death in horrific ways, set on by lions hung on poles and set alight. The question you have to ask is would I have been prepared to die on an assumption that a man rose from the dead. The early Christians were in no doubt that Jesus rose from the dead and there is no reason 2000 years later to say any different.

          • Deanjay1961

            Upwards of 500 people saw me flying over the neighborhood unaided by means of telekinetic levitation a few weeks ago. Can I produce these witnesses? Can I even name them? No, and neither can you name yours.
            People have always been willing to die for their beliefs. That has never made their beliefs true.
            2000 years later, all we have is what they had then: hearsay, only now it is all copies of copies of copies and there’s no such thing as an original text. Petergauhar, as gullible as people are now, they were even more gullible then. You can’t trust second hand reports of miracles…you can’t even trust first-hand acounts of miracles, and for Jesus, those don’t exist.

          • petergauhar

            Good night and goodbye

          • petergauhar

            goodnight and goodbye for a second time

          • John Haggerty

            They found fragments of the Gospel of St John in the Sinai desert thought to be dated between 80 AD and 120 AD. Each of the words in the fragments matched those of the text we have today. The fragments were the remains of a Jewish community who followed Jesus. We have the testimony of the early fathers of the church, some of whom would have known men who had spoken with the Apostles. Christianity had many enemies from the start. But not one of them denied that Christ had ever existed. Paul was telling people to go and speak with those who had seen Christ risen. It would have been easy to have exposed Paul as a self-deluding charlatan if that was what he was. NT Wright speaks about Paul on YouTube. Read his writings.

          • Deanjay1961

            Are you under the impression that 80 AD is contemporary with 30 AD? It’s not even likely that whoever wrote those fragments was old enough to have first-hand knowledge of Jesus. And we have no idea who it was that wrote them. You’ve got ‘would haves’ and ‘could haves’. I did not claim that Jesus never existed, I’m much more doubtful of supposed miracles.

            There were plenty of self-deluded charlatans back then. Can you name one who was exposed? Between poor communications and willingness to believe all kinds of magical tales, people didn’t have much use for debunkers back then. Most of them have little use for them now, and would rather believe whatever happens to be the religion of their parents than question its actual veracity.

          • John Haggerty

            No, we are not in a position to prove it. Christianity says – You are accountable to God and will have to stand before him one day and give an account for your life. I can’t prove that either. But I can say with absolute certainty that I am a sinner. I can give you tons of proof for that. I can prove to you that without Christ I am walking in darkness.

          • petergauhar
          • justejudexultionis

            Atheists fall into two traps. Either they must assert that the universe is eternal, creating an infinite regression of secondary causes, which Aristotle says is impossible; or, they must posit a self-making or self-creating universe, as in the so-called Big Bang, but this defies reason and as an entirely circular explanation is not useful as science, as well as defying the common sense observation that things do not make themselves.

          • Thor fenris

            Oh Aristotle says so. If Aristotle says its impossible then it must be impossible because what someone said over 2000 years ago about cosmology must be absolutely true and uncontradictable…right?

          • chris heath

            Or they resort to science, and rationality – reference Lawrence Krauss – A Universe from Nothing.

        • geoffreybrittan

          People want scientific evidence. They know, beneath the denial, that scientific evidence is impossible and unnecessary. Mathematics for the past 40 years has pointed to the smallest particle in matter, though proving it has proven to be a super human challenge that only recently has been achieved.

          When people see a tree bending in the wind, they know they can’t see the wind, though they accept the fact that it is real.

          Finding faith is a lifelong journey. It isn’t just a set of beliefs; it’s a way of living. Most atheists are limited by their assumption that God cannot exist, not that He does or doesn’t. They cannot prove their hypothesis anymore than you and I can prove that God lives.

          You are right about one thing; God finds you as much as you find Him. Dawkins believes underneath the valiant protest, and hopefully, he will make this discovery before he dies.

          • Deanjay1961

            Ah, Dawkins is a believer and lying about it. Classy.

          • Thor fenris

            Trees bend because of wind, whioch we can measure and explain..

            of course scientific evidence is neccessary. Just because you are gullible doesn;t mean we are.

        • Fred Scuttle

          What do we look for? An invisible being with nail holes?

          • justejudexultionis

            Look at the historical record as presented in the four Christian Gospels.

        • Deanjay1961

          The method of finding ‘evidence’ that believers propose works for anything. If I made the same search, I could as easily find that Voudun or Islam or Hinduism is ‘true’. It amounts to a demand that we convince ourselves that you’re right.

          • petergauhar

            How wrong you are, we present evidence that we have the opportunity to reason on as to which fit the facts. The jews were looking for the messiah Jesus comes along at the appointed time according to the scriptures. Details about the messiah and what he would do where written in the Hebrew scriptures. The Jews had the opportunity to see the fulfilment of those prophesies. Psalm 22 v18 says of the messiah ”
            They apportion my garments among themselves,
            And upon my clothing they cast lots.

            Fulfillment Mark15v24 ”
            And they impaled him and distributed his outer garments by casting the lot over them as to who takes what.
            This way shows who was the true messiah. You can do this hundreds of times concerning the messiah. Its not me that right its the bible. Im not asking you to believe in me but believe the bible because it is Gods word not mans. John 17v17

          • Deanjay1961

            Perhaps I misunderstood you or confused with another poster. I thought you were taking the ‘search within’ approach.

      • justejudexultionis

        You have all the evidence you require in the four Christian Gospels.

        • Thor fenris

          errr…..no. The Gospels are not eyewitness acounts, independently verified ,in any way shape or form. They are mutual contradictory and clearly partially fabricated.

      • John Haggerty

        You are a smart kid, Thor. But even if we could prove of his existence, would you really be happy to follow him? ‘If a man is to be my disciple let him take up his cross daily and deny himself.’ Christianity isn’t a happy hike to heaven. You put your sinful self to death every day. ‘Not I who live but Christ who lives in me,’ said St Paul.

    • Fred Scuttle

      “God is not a white man, floating on a cloud, waiting for Bart Simpson to stop spitting over the side of the escalator”

      Do you have evidence for that, or is it a faith position?.

      Actually there are loads of Gods, all imagination figments lurking in the indoctrinated minds of believers. That’s why none of them agree.

      • justejudexultionis

        It is a clear logical fallacy to think that because there are many mutually contradictory concepts of ‘god’ then none of them can be true. Either some or all of them are true in part, all of them are false or one is substantially true to the exclusion of all others. What you said is akin to saying that because there are a practically infinite number of answers to the question 2+2, a single right answer cannot exist (or at the very least that the single answer is unknowable).

    • JoeDM

      Utter tosh.

      Which god? Us humans have invented so many down the millennia

    • Eddie

      ‘An atheist is a Christian who doesn’t realise that God has been standing just outside the door’
      More classic comedy!
      Dear oh dear, where to start. Are you American? That would explain a lot…
      I think you’ll find atheists believe in consciousness. Just not imaginary friends, sky pixies and unicorns.
      A person of Faith is just a course of rational education away from knowing Reason perhaps?
      You have your Faith – and all atheists I know are tolerant of everyone’s right to believe in any mumbojumbo they want. Just don’t say it’s an evidence based beliefe or that atheists are somehow lacking by not sharing your irrational certainty.

      • chris heath

        The excellence of reason , outweighs the absurdity of non-evidential claims.

  • vesselanaw

    ? in what way is dawkins “sinned against” ?

  • The Blue Baron

    “But I think I share your Anglican nostalgia, especially when you look at the competition.”

    An elegant aside in an enjoyable article.

  • Syttende Mai

    lol. No one takes Anglicanism seriously any more. Hell, the entire CoE is run by people like Dawkins.

    • Fred Scuttle

      The good old Anglican church. Far less harmful than all the other varieties.

    • Eddie

      Yep, thank goodness for the fundamental Christians who think the world is 6000 years of and Adam and Eve lived in a pretty garden with dinosaurs… And also for the Catholic church, a top-down quasi-fascistic dictatorship which enslaves people with threats and fear – though their churches are also quite nice (if a bit overdone to British tastes – all dem bones…euk). I hear their pews have softer cushions too. Probably on account of all the sore bottoms around the place (but let’s not mention that abuse of power eh, not even in confessione…)
      The point here is that one can appreciate human culture as expressed through religions without worshipping sky pixies or adhering to a irrationalk belief (ie Faith). So atheists like Dawkins and me can appreciate the history, culture. music, art, architecture etc of the Church – most of which it appropriated from other religions and pagan customs anyway.
      For example – Churches have altars – so what are they then? Well they are the old stones where animal sacrifices were carried out by pre-Christians. The early churches in Britain built churches around them in the exact same places.

  • A. F. Brooke

    I am glad to see this side of Dawkins reflected. The truth is that whilst I have always agreed with his arguments from a strictly scientific and philosophical point of view, nonetheless there still remains a human (irrational) sense of belonging to all such things whose the NOMINAL raison d’être one may not believe in in the slightest.

  • crosscop

    God is dead. He exploded a very long time ago. There was this almighty Big Bang…

    • Nowistherighttime

      I’d say the big bang has provided us with much evidence of God. Its given us a definite origin. Our universe is not eternal, as many atheists used to claim in order to avoid the necessity of a creator.

      • Fred Scuttle

        So the big bang created a god?

        • Nowistherighttime

          Immediately starting a conversation with blatant insincerity, doesn’t draw me to enter into a reasonable debate with you.

          • Fred Scuttle

            You must know that there is no evidence for any god, so you started it.

          • Nowistherighttime

            “I’d say the big bang has provided us with much evidence of God. Its given us a definite origin. Our universe is not eternal, as many atheists used to claim in order to avoid the necessity of a creator”

            Explain how I started the insincerity?

            How “must I know there is no evidence for God”? How can you make such a sweeping statement? There is plenty of evidence for God. More for theism than atheism

          • Fred Scuttle

            If there was evidence for your god faith wouldn’t be required, but I’ll bite. What evidence is there?

          • Nowistherighttime

            Good. If we are going to engage in a reasonable civil debate, we should both try to avoid any sort of personal attacks or insults. If we reach that point, I’ll refuse to participate. I’m not interested in wasting my time on the quarrelsome. My only hope is challenge someone to question their presuppositions, to further myself, to learn something new, to defend my faith, and maybe lead someone else into it.

            Faith, is the necessary requirement within Christianity to achieve salvation. It is how a Christian is justified righteous, not through our own good deeds or works, but, through faith in Christ Jesus’ sacrifice. Not one is good. No one can earn salvation, it is either freely accepted, or freely rejected.

            Regarding evidence for God or understanding, the belief and faith must come first. You don’t seek to understand in order to believe, but believe in order to understand. Without the belief, there is no understanding. The evidence and understanding serves as, to quote one scholar, “the icing on the cake”.

            It is impossible for God to lie. He has granted us free will. We can freely accept Christ, or freely reject him. If God provides absolute proof, prior to faith, our free will is compromised. We have no way to reject him. God needs plausible deniability, so we can say we freely accepted him and the son.

            I don’t want to focus on the faith aspect at the moment, or Christianity, or the specifics of any other religion. I thought your objection on faith needed an adequate reply.

            We should start with the original question/comment regarding the big bang. How this has provided the theist with evidence of Gods existence. Further, how the theistic perspective is more justifiable than the atheist view. One thing should be clarified here, which I’m sure we agree on. Absolute proof of theism or atheism, for now, is implausible. What we can talk about is evidence. With that evidence, you can build up a case, with each piece or area of evidence acting like an individual leg of table. Each leg on it’s own has little use, whereas, together they can successfully hold the whole thing up. Once I’ve thoroughly presented the evidence for God, and after our discussions, which will inevitably take a few days, I will happily explain why I feel Christianity is the most plausible world view.

            What existed then, at the beginning of this universe? why did it begin at all? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why did the universe take the form that it did altogether? These questions are by far contemporary, they have been present in the minds of humans since recorded thought. The atheist would often say the universe is eternal, uncaused, no need for a first cause, or creator, it was infinite in the future and past. However, through modern day advancements in science, astrology and cosmology, we have very good evidence that in fact the universe has an origin. A definite beginning, around 13.8 billion years ago. The big bang.
            Currently there are three main possible answers to why the universe exists at all. Why something rather than nothing?

            1) There is simply no explanation, it came into existence by chance, for no reason, and thats that.
            2) Physical necessity
            3) The universe is created by God for a particular purpose.

            As an atheist, you will have to take either option one or two. After I have laid out my case for why I believe the evidence points towards the third hypothesis, the theistic one. You can explain what evidence it is you have to support the atheistic view, furthermore, refute my case.

            I’ll post this comment and begin to lay out my case in a separate reply. Thanks for your patience.

          • Nowistherighttime

            I believe the best possible explanation for the existence of the universe is the mind of God, who willed it, for reasons I shall explain later.

            Everything that has a beginning has a cause. Everything that happens has a cause. The world is contingent, that is the existence of everything depends upon prior activities. Something necessarily has to exist that did not depend upon a prior activity for its existence. This is God, what Aristotle referred to as the “unmoved mover”. Additional evidence of the necessity of a first cause is when one eliminates a cause, you eliminate its effects, thus one cannot have a last cause, or an immediate cause, without a first cause. God. We exist, but because we are contingent, it is also possible that we wouldn’t exist (miscarriage, murder, great great grandparents die in car crash etc). The same applies for the universe, which is contingent. In fact, the majority of scientists (atheists & theists alike) believe there is very good reason to assert that before the big bang, there was literally, absolutely nothing. Not an unorganized random space of particles colliding into one another, no quantum forces in equilibrium, absolutely nothing.

            Now, considering our universe does exist, its possibility necessarily has had to exist, before it’s beginning. One of countless other possibilities. However, mere possibilities can’t exist on their own in nothingness, thats all they are, mere possibilities, completely abstract. For them to be actualized, as this specific one (our universe, earth, life, consciousness) evidently has been, they have to exist in something actual, along with every other possible contingent universe. This actuality is the mind of God.

            The theistic hypothesis postulates that there is one necessarily actual reality, the mind that conceives all possibilities. No universe is possible that denies that existence of that mind. The best explanation for this beautifully precise, ordered, life producing universe, is a transcendent, timeless, space-less, immaterial mind which freely intends it to exist. Why? For the sake it’s beauty and goodness. A mind being conscious, can distinguish between good states and bad ones. A good state, is one not only of beauty and goodness, but one which beauty and goodness can be contemplated by other conscious minds. Why the actualization of this possible universe, rather than its mere possibility, as it necessarily once was. Because God wants to enjoy its actuality, and for us to consciously enjoy its actuality, for the sake of goodness. It explains how the universe is engendered in a way which we can freely, with our God given liberty, come to know and love God, and contemplate his beauty in his creation. The gift of life, thought, reason, logic, science, music, art, literature, laughter, companionship and love.

            The main point I am attempting to emphasis above, albeit briefly in summary, is that the actualization of a mere possibility of a physical universe (of whatever sort), is highly improbable and totally inexplicable if it is to be seen as the complete creation out something out of absolutely nothing. What else out of nothing could come, but nothing? It seems obvious that the universe really is something! Something magnificent to be beautifully contemplated. If anything actual exists it must be caused by something actual, moreover, with at least as much actuality as the effect.
            Again we arrive at the mind of God. This mind is the conceiver and basis of all possibilities, thus logically cannot be caused by anything. If God wasn’t the first cause, he would have to have been at one point a mere possibility, thus conceived by something actual, God! Clearly absurd. Back to the “unmoved mover”. On the theistic hypothesis, the universe is caused by God, whose knowledge and power is greater than that of any being in all the possible universes that God could cause to be. As God is “that which nothing higher can be conceived of”. All things over than God, come from God, and God is far from nothing as you can possibly get. The unrestricted pure actuality.

            I have much more to say but unfortunately I have to leave the house! Apologies! You can wait for me to continue my case tomorrow or just go ahead with any objections you currently hold. Anything you wish for me to clarify, do tell.

            It has been a while since I’ve engaged anyone publicly or through the web (seems to get too heated at times). Hope I’m not too rusty.

            (not proof read either)

            Thanks.

            p.s – My response prior to this is below this comment. Still not completely familiar with how these threads work.

          • Eddie

            Replace the word God with ‘energy’. No amount of wriggling and twisting like an evangelical eel can disguise that fact that the Bible’s story of creation is literally wrong – a myth, a fairy tale, a metaphor. But it is, as so much in old books cobbled together in ancient deserts, utterly and comprehensively discredited and disproven by Reason and evidence that cannot be rejected (even the Pope accepts Darwin was right now).
            No-one knows for sure how the universe started -but I’d rather believe in scientific explanations than those who until VERY recently seriously argued that the world was 10,000 years old because some old book said it did.

          • Nowistherighttime

            There was no “energy” before the big bang! To imply energy is to imply something, not absolutely nothing! Whatever it was that caused the big bang, has to be 1) timeless, there was no time before the big bang (the origin of spacetime). 2) Immaterial, there was no matter (as I stated, we are not talking some unorganized incoherent mess, literally absolutely nothing) 3) Space-less (physical space didn’t exist) 4) A personal willed mind of incomprehensible power (something as actual as the universe is not “caused” out of absolutely nothing by absolutely nothing). Nothing can’t cause anything!

            The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the big bang is the beginning of our universe, of space-time, everything. Moreover, before this point there was absolutely nothing.

            I am not talking about the bible, I’m using science, reason and logic. Exactly why in my statements I said I am not talking about any religion in particular or faith! I’m speaking in regards to the universe and the big bang! So that people like yourself can’t object about the theist hypothesis, on the grounds it is not scientific, It is scientific! Science is based upon the premise that everything can be explained and understood.To say there is no explanation, it just is, is the death of science. Something as actual as the universe needs an explanation. The thesistic hypothesis I have provided is attempting to provide an explanation for the big bang, it’s origin, cause, why something as actual as the universe came from absolutely nothing. I’ve not mentioned the bible in case here, my case is for theism, don’t attack your own straw man, refute my case and present your own. I have presented good evidence for theism and a good explanation for the origin for the universe and the big bang. Rather than attacking your own straw man, provide me evidence and good case for the atheist view for the origin of our universe, what does it have to say about all this, what reasons do you have to feel justified in your view? I’ve never implied the world was 10,000 years old, i said it’s 13 billion years old! In fact we have very good reasons and evidence to support the theistic hypothesis. Read my comment again. Thanks!

          • Nowistherighttime

            Eddie, have you received my reply regarding “energy”? I had posted one the other night, however, I can’t seem to see it displayed. Not too familiar with the thread format. Apologies if I haven’t.

          • Nowistherighttime

            I still haven’t received a reply to whether you got my original reply to the “energy” comment.

            Which one do you stand by? I’d like to hear the scientific explanation you have for one of the two?

            1) There is simply no explanation, it came into existence by chance, for no reason, and thats that.
            2) Physical necessity
            3) The universe is created by God for a particular purpose.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “If there was evidence for your god faith wouldn’t be required”

            Exactly, faith isn’t, and I see you too haven’t read my comments on this thread, where a new discovery was made…

        • Nowistherighttime

          You never replied or made your case for atheism Fred.

          1) There is simply no explanation, it came into existence by chance, for no reason, and thats that.
          2) Physical necessity
          3) The universe is created by God for a particular purpose.

          Which one, out of the first two?

  • MattMeslier

    The subtitle of this article is ridiculous. As if being an atheist prevents someone from showing their “human side.”

  • David Tiffany

    “His oldest adversary: God.” How true. http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • Fred Scuttle

      God is neither the problem or the adversary.

  • Gerald Brienza

    I have been called out by Lon , a Huff post commentator, on the issue of the old lady and the bomber. Dawkins does say that some religions are worse that others. That’s like saying some diseases are worse than others, also true yet they are all disease and he also recognizes that as well (read the god delusion). Also, which religion is worse is constantly changing over the years depending on who is more powerful and determined at that point in time. To say that all religious people and their good deeds are not valid is not fair. To acknowledge that all of that good can be accomplished without servitude to a celestial dictator is simply common sense. Intrinsically, religion has no redeeming value, other than what the mis-guided faithful perceive, which often times is misanthropic to say the least. Religion at its core is at best unnecessary and at worst, pure evil ( read Hitchens, god is not great). As far as the argument (by Lon) that “Atheist” regimes have caused much of the recent death and destruction. That is specious, take Hirohito in Japan, he simply took a page out of the religious play book and declared himself “god” and eliminated the competition (the various churches) for the hearts and minds of the “faithful.” He even had his own suicide bombers (kamikaze). Even in North Korea, Kim is considered a “god” so much so that when when world charitable groups deliver food, medicine, etc. the people are told that these are “offerings” to Kim and his dead father (who still holds a prominent position in that government. This is not atheism, just religion disguised.

  • Theoldlady

    There just may be hope for this man after all.

    • Fred Scuttle

      Jesus?

      • Theoldlady

        Sanity.

  • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

    Dawkins says, “I sort of suspect that many who profess Anglicanism probably don’t believe any of it at all in any case but vaguely enjoy, as I do… ”

    Maybe, but that’s because they’ve given no real thought to what’s in plain sight between the Gospels’ lines and what those unspoken words prove concerning Jesus:

    When one reads the Gospels and match those accounts to (1) what we know from history was the IMMEDIATE reaction of Roman governors towards even peaceful deluded Messiahs (immediate execution); and (2) what the Jewish authorities immediately did to those who preached blasphemies (stoning, and in the case of Jesus, it would have been gross blasphemies), we know that both Rome and the Jewish authorities (in both Judea and Galilee) knew Jesus to be a deity; for Rome a Jewish deity walking the Earth, as Roman subjects believed the Emperor to be.

    This is why the Sanhedrin didn’t also arrest the eleven remaining disciples (Rome didn’t either; and neither did the Sanhedrin press Pilate into arresting the disciples!)! The Sanhedrin itself was operating under the knowledge that Jesus was indicating it was time for Him to die. How did Jesus send this signal to the Sanhedrin? By His entrance into Jerusalem with the mob (which Pilate inexplicably refused to stop by cutting down Jesus and followers while they were far from Jerusalem!), which was a direct affront to the Pax Romana (remember, the week before Passover the Roman governor was always in Jerusalem to prevent such excited spectacles as Jesus pulled off when He entered Jerusalem with the mob).

    Now, thanks to the existence of the Roman Empire, and our knowledge of what happened to persons such as Jesus who attracted the attention of large crowds, upsetting the Pax Romana (the Roman governor immediately cut down such individuals along with their followers), the only way Roman subjects living outside of Judea/Galilee would accept the Gospels’ narratives that they knew from personal experience were false, where,

    (1) Pilate refuses to arrest Jesus for three years;

    (2) when the Sanhedrin brings Jesus to Pilate for adjudication, Pilate is hesitant to do so; and

    3) after Jesus is executed, Pilate inexplicably doesn’t also execute the remaining eleven disciples,

    is if the otherwise childishly forged Gospels’ narratives were known to be true! This is how we know (1) Jesus existed; and (2) that Jesus was who He claimed to be! In other words, thanks to the particular way the Roman Empire was administered, we have proof that Jesus was the Messiah…God!

    You see, because there was a Roman occupation in Judea, both Roman and Jewish authorities had to maintain their silence on whom they knew Jesus to be, hence the dearth of Roman/Jewish literature on Jesus.

    Now, we have next nine Roman governors of Judea (after Pilate, but before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70) again inexplicably protecting the Jesus Sect, which tells us that it wasn’t ad hoc policy for each of those governors to allow the remaining eleven disciples to carry on attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles, but Roman Imperial policy from the Emperor himself!

    • randall crowley

      reaching, reaching !

      • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

        Be more specific, please.

    • John Haggerty

      Thanks for this. I can see why there was a dearth of Roman/Jewish literature on Jesus. Do you think there would have been records of his trial? Roman records and Jewish records? Would the Jewish records have all been lost with the destruction of Jerusalem? And what of the Roman records? Do any of the later fathers of the church touch on this? I mean on the dearth of literature on Jesus outside the canonical books. Do the writings in the Pistis Sophia touch on this at all? I am not even remotely gnostic but I like reading Gnostic literature. I must go back to the New Testamanent scholars again. But thanks, Mr Jackson.

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “Do you think there would have been records of his trial?”

        Of course! Tiberius would have wanted the transcript, since the Emperor was already appraised of Jesus and why Rome was doing nothing to confront Jesus and followers with sedition.

        • John Haggerty

          You have gone to some trouble in your reply, Mr Jackson. I am most indebted to you. I intend to type out your statement and have it before me as I go through my rather amateur research. My reading of New Testament scholars tends to be a bit of a hit and miss. It is difficult if you have no background. I have moved between James Robinson, Dale C Alison, Ben Witherington’s The Third Quest for the Jew of Nazareth and his Christology of Jesus, as well as the Jesus Seminar scholars (Funk, Sheehan, Borg, Crossan, Spong, Karen King, Ludemann etc) in their Once and Future Jesus, Hyram Maccoby, John P Meier’s huge tome A Marginal Jew and others. I also hunt down serious books on Paul, the latest being from NT Wright. I also read the brilliant systematic theologians of the Free Church of Scotland who, I imagine, would interrogate your sources in the most rigorous fashion. I will also go to John Calvin (a late and happy discovery) for his writings on Acts as well as Karl Barth. Your writing is most incisive. It is no surprise to learn that you are a social scientist. That the fathers ‘locked themselves into a three hundred year old lie’ over their ‘laughable interpretation of the Gospel/Acts narrative’ is to say the least challenging. As Freud would say, we will return to this.

          • John Haggerty

            To Mr Jackson. I should be interested to hear of your opinions on a blog Patheos: CNN Covers Mythicism. It features a new book by John Dominic Crossan. The comments by Dr James McGrath on ‘mythicists’ are of great interest to me. I must hunt out my old copies ofThe Myth of God Incarnate and the Truth of God Incarnate. What do you think of Dr McGrath’s statements?

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “As Freud would say, we will return to this.”

            I just devised a syllogism that succinctly captures the essence of this subject and assists one to more easily organize one’s thoughts on the subject…

            (1) No civilization accepts a religion they know to be false; (2) Rome accepted a new religion that was known to be false; therefore (3) the new religion was known to be true!

          • John Haggerty

            Where does it leave one regarding the anti-mythicist school, so ably developed by Dr James McGrath? Last night found me re-reading The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (1968, reprinted 1971) by the late SGF Brandon, formerly professor of comparative religion at Manchester University. He writes of Matthew’s Gospel as Jewish-Christian, written for Jews. Yet the narrative (writes Professor Brandon) exonerates the Romans and incriminates the Jewish people. ‘Indeed,’ writes Brandon, ‘it is one of the strange ironies of history that it is in the most Jewish of the four Gospels that the Jews are so dramatically portrayed as the murderers of Christ.’ I want no part of any anti-Semitic, ‘deicide’ theology nor I am sure do you, Mr Jackson.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “I want no part of any anti-Semitic, ‘deicide’ theology nor I am sure do you, Mr Jackson.”

            As my writings affirm, the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem acted only when Jesus signaled to them that it was time to hand Him over to the Romans (that’s why they didn’t arrest the disciples, only Jesus; they had no intention of stopping the spreading of the Word, only assisting Jesus’ mission to die), and the Gospel of John is EXPLICIT as to who the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem knew Jesus to be. I quoted Caiaphas above, so you’ve forgotten it.

            “‘it is one of the strange ironies of history that it is in the most Jewish of the four Gospels that the Jews are so dramatically portrayed as the murderers of Christ.'”

            Which informs us that the Gospel was written very soon after the resurrection, when the disciples were very angry at the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, whom they ignorantly believed were the morally culpable agents in the death of Jesus. Of course, as time passed (and two arrests by the Jewish authorities who set them straight, if you know what I mean!), they calmed down and came to realize that the Jewish authorities were actually on their side, which is why the Jesus Sect grew by astounding numbers in Jerusalem before the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans in 66 AD.

            In summation:

            Who was guilty for Jesus’ death? Jesus, of course! Who else? Jesus was doing everything He could to get Himself arrested, but no one was biting, until He entered Jerusalem with the mob, which was a direct provocation against Pilate (who was in Jerusalem to prevent such a spectacle, but again he didn’t move to prevent Jesus from entering Jerusalem with the mob). The Jewish authorities recognized the provocation for what it was–a signal to have Jesus arrested. The three Q&A sessions with Jesus were to ensure that Jesus was really signaling that He was ready to die. Jesus’ silence confirmed that Jesus was indeed signalling that the time had come to fulfill His ultimate mission.

            Keep the good questions/observations coming. They’re jogging my mind.

          • John Haggerty

            The evils inherit in ‘deicide’ theology are as old as Luther and pre-date Luther. I do not share Bishop Spong’s theology, but he is right when he says Jewish children feared for their lives on Good Friday. They were taunted with the words ‘Christ killer’. I had no such fears for you, Dean. These are ghosts we will never lay to rest, at least this side of eternity. My fear that Christianity was anti-Semitic at its roots kept me from faith for many years. I would slip into church for a sung communion service or for vespers, and to hear the beautiful Collects and the Book of Common Prayer. But reading Martin Buber and Simone Weil led me to suspect certain aspects Pauline theology. I am haunted by the rich Jewish culture described so movingly by writers such as Sholom Aleichim and IB Singer. As for Kafka, I reread The Trial every year and I am always dipping into Kafka’s Journals. I remember a turning point for me was learning that the great literary critic George Steiner admired the theology of Karl Barth. You may remember that Barth refused to take his oath of allegiance to Hitler, and was summoned to appear before a Nazi judge. The Cambridge Companion to Karl Barth (2000) contains 18 essays by Barthian scholars. (You can see Barth on YouTube, and see young women at Yale who are studying Barth at post-graduate level in the course run by Professor Bruce McCormack.) Going back to your own comment. Yes, I can understand the anger in the Gospels concerning the high priests, the Pharisees and the scribes. You know, of course, that some New Testament scholars think Jesus had no such quarrel with the Pharisees, and that it was the early Jewish Jesus movement that was in conflict with the Pharisees. I am not convinced but I am not a scholar. I can recommend Dale C Allison’s book, The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus (Eerdman 2009). I reread it last week and it kept me up half the night. I won’t spoil your pleasure in it but it is a book I would PAY people to read . Professor Allison is a Christian but he speaks to readers of other faiths and no faith. You might also try Donald Macleod’s Christ Crucified – Understanding the Atonement (IVP 2014). Professor Macleod studied at the Free Church of Scotland college. Those Free Church ministers are giants in systematic theology. He reminds us that ‘blood has proved repugnant to many sectors of modern theology, ill at ease with what they see as a primitive, sub-ethical concept of religion’. He quotes Athanasius, the greatest of the Greek fathers. I think you are in profound error in saying the fathers are not to be trusted. They had to contend with so many heresies from Gnosticism to Arianism. Think of the brutal pagan world in which they preached and suffered for the faith. We are in their debt, Dean.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “You know, of course, that some New Testament scholars think Jesus had no such quarrel with the Pharisees, and that it was the early Jewish Jesus movement that was in conflict with the Pharisees.”

            Yes, that’s precisely what I’m saying. Jesus would critique the Pharisees periodically for vanity, etc., but that’s to be expected since Jesus expects more from those who serve Him, and Jesus would be just as critical with Christian clergy today. That being said, Jesus and the Pharisees pretty much got along with each other because the Pharisees knew who Jesus was.

            As for Jesus’ apostles post resurrection, they were confused and didn’t know what to do; Jesus left no instructions for their future behavior, save the promise that the Holy Spirit would guide them IF they were receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Finally the apostles got their acts together, stopped blaming the Pharisees for Jesus’ death, and began to spread the Word.

          • John Haggerty

            I shall need time to digest what you have said. This is just from the top of my head. Where are the writings within Roman culture demonstrating some sympathy with the idea of Jesus as Messiah? Gospel texts quote Jesus as warning his disciples they would be thrown out of the synagogues – eventually they were. Paul meets with hostility from Jews, and I don’t think all of this is just more grist for anti-Semites. These Jewish believers would have been angry with Paul as once Paul (as Saul of Tarsus) had been angry with the Jewish Nazarenes. We know of the later persecutions under the Emperors after Paul was dead and gone. The synoptic Gospels are products of different Greek-speaking Jesus-following communities. In John we have some real witness from the beloved disciple, but there is also another John, the redactor. (I am still not sure how these Greeks in the Jesus movement related to the Ebionites). And how could those from a Roman background understand (understand in any real depth) the concept of Messiah? I remember seeing the film The Greatest Story Ever Told. Not the kind of movie I enjoy. But there was a pithy exchange between the newly arrived Pilate (Telly Savalis) and Herod Antipas (Jose Ferrier).’Who is this Messiah they keep talking about?’ asks Pilate. ‘Oh, someone who will never come,’ Herod answers with a shrewd and wordly-wise smile. OK, it’s just movie hokum. But consider Matthew. The text makes it plain that Pilate and Herod were at loggerheads until the arrest of Jesus. After that they became friends, bonded by their hatred of Jesus. Were there not many like Pilate? Among the men-folk at least. Another thought. Would the wives of Roman officials have been drawn to the Jesus movement? Some Roman and Greek women worshipped in the Gentile court in the Temple.

          • John Haggerty

            ‘The church fathers persecuted those they consider heretic.’ Persecuted? Or prosecuted a vigorous campaign of opposition? ‘Gnosticism is the inevitable offspring of Hellenistic-Oriental syncretism,’ write MacGregor and Purdy in their book Jew and Greek (1936, 1959). ‘One can easily discover in the Gnostic systems Babylonian mythology, Persian dualism, Egyptian mysticism and occultism, the Orphic cosmology of a fall and the restitution of the soul from the weary circle of reincarnations, Jewish theology, Greek philosophy, especially Platonism and Pythagoreanism, astral ideas and mystical conceptions and practices, together wi is th the idea of a First or Heavenly Man of Eastern provenance.’ So what were the Fathers to do? This was a hydra-headed thought system. Some of the brightest people of the age are thinking this way. On the plus side, Professors MacGregor and Purdy see Gnosticism as ‘a long sustained effort to reconcile religion and science and reduce religious beliefs to a comprehensive system of metaphysic’. What does that remind you of? It reminds me of the religious-science debate going on today. It reminds me of Karl Barth’s rejection of Teilhard de Chardin’s as ‘the old snake of Gnosticism’ dressed up as modern science and mysticism. There is even a return to Gnostic Christianity in the theology of Father Thomas Keating and Father Richard Rohr on YouTube. I was brought up as an RC so I know how they think. I would correct their views with Reformed theology.

          • John Haggerty

            Sorry. I meant to write ‘together WITH THE idea of a First or Heavenly Man of Eastern providence’.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Where are the writings within Roman culture demonstrating some sympathy with the idea of Jesus as Messiah?”

            There are no such writings, of course! Their behaviors, protecting Jesus and the Jesus Sect, is all they could do, otherwise political forces would have set in motion where the Romans’ judicial hands would have been forced.

            As for the Jewish authorities, how could they proclaim Jesus the Messiah in a Roman world? No one has ever recognized this simple and devastating observation that completely undermines the “Jews didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah” canard. Of course they did, since Jesus made it clear to everyone that He was the Messiah!

          • John Haggerty

            If there are no pro-Christian Roman texts, then there are no primary sources, Dean. You are, of course, free to interpret Pilate’s alleged reluctance to prosecute Jesus as you like. You could say Jesus was no threat to Rome – ‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ etc. But historians may dismiss your interpretation. I have no competence to do so. NT scholars, some of them, say the Gospel writers let Pilate off too lightly. So ‘the Jews’ get the blame. ‘His blood be on us, and on our children.’ (I shudder whenever I read these words because they would have confirmed Luther in his anti-Semitism which, though religious and not racial in its tone, was still murderous and horrible in its expression.) One scholar I read said, if you want to know who was responsible for the death of Jesus, it was the Roman imperial system. The Romans invented crucifixion. Professor Brandon in The Trial of Jesus, says that the Matthew text is written – ‘to interpret the death of Jesus in the light of the catastrophe that had befallen his people in AD 70. He saw that terrible disaster as the self-invoked penalty that Israel had incurred through rejecting and killing its Messiah.’ So how then are any of us to read Matthew, given the events of AD 70 which destroyed Jerusalem, led to the crucifixion of who knows how many men, and started a cruel war of attrition as Roman soldiers harried Jewish men, women and children? Josephus had changed sides and he was a survivor. His writing must have had political and self-serving motivations.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “If there are no pro-Christian Roman texts, then there are no primary sources, Dean. You are, of course, free to interpret Pilate’s alleged reluctance to prosecute Jesus as you like.”

            As my initial comment made clear (please re-read) it’s not Pilate, it’s Pilate and the next nine Roman governors of Judea; and after Jesus’ resurrection it’s Roman governors outside of the Levant where Paul and Peter (and their disciples) are causing sedition by attracting large crowds and causing unrest. All these stand down behaviors by dozens of independent Roman magistrates tells us the stand down policies are not ad hoc policies carried out independently by each Roman magistrate, but imperial policy set by the Emperor. Pretty obvious. Then, other than Agrippa I & II, we have the Jewish authorities in Judea doing their best to safeguard Jesus’ apostles, 33 AD – 66 AD.

            Agrippa I and Agrippa II Prosecutions of Jesus Sect Members

            Why did Agrippa I mount a prosecution campaign against the Jesus Sect in what would be the last month of his over three-year rule of a re-united Israel? Thanks to Emperor Claudius’ gift extending new territories onto the territories that Agrippa I already ruled (Judea and Idumæa added to Galilee, Batanaea and Perea), Agrippia I was now ruler of a re-united Israel, a nation not seen in over 970 years when the Kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms; the Kingdom of Israel (including the cities of Shechem and Samaria) in the north and the Kingdom of Judah (containing Jerusalem) in the south.

            If we combine Jewish and Christian accounts of Agrippa’s rule we see a ruler that (1) is making Rome nervous with Agrippa’s foreign policy moves with neighboring Roman client states/city states, which Rome would see as rebellion; and (2) taking on the grandeur of a god. In fact, according to Josephus, Agrippa allows himself be called a god:

            “Presently his flatterers cried out, one from one place, and another from another, (though not for his good) that he was a god [clearly these “flatterers” weren’t Jewish, but Romans setting Agrippa up for retribution from Rome, just as Josephus implies]; and they added, “Be thou merciful to us; for although we have hitherto reverenced thee only as a man, yet shall we henceforth own thee as superior to mortal nature.” Upon this the king neither rebuked them nor rejected their impious flattery.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_Agrippa

            Did Agrippa I believe himself to be the [divine] Messiah, who accomplished the reunification of the Kingdom of Israel? Before Jesus it was believed that the Messiah would reunify the Kingdom of Israel. In the Gospel of John High Priest Caiaphas believes that the death of Jesus will accomplish as much (see John 11):

            “51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”

            http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11:45-57

            It is my opinion that Agrippa I came to believe himself to be the Messiah, therefore viewing Jesus Sect members as deceivers, and when his son Agrippa II got the chance to carry on his father’s work in this matter, thanks to the death of the Roman governor of Judea, Porcius Festus, in 61 AD, he took advantage of the temporary Roman power vacuum in Judea, proceeded to fire the High Priest in Jerusalem replacing him with Ananus ben Ananus (appointing a new High Priest in Jerusalem was a privilege previously granted Agrippa II by Rome), who would carry out Agrippa II’s wishes.

            When Agrippa I took control of Judea in 41 AD he too refused to take part in any prosecution of Jesus Sect members, let alone kill any under the Law of Moses, meaning he too knew Jesus to be the Messiah, but something changed in him. Vanity blinded him to what he already knew to be the truth, a vanity born of immense pride in being able to secure the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Israel after 970 years. No doubt the adulation and praise he received by his fellow subjects for accomplishing that truly momentous feat fed into this vanity, blinding him to the reality of Jesus, and believing himself instead to be the Messiah.

            “You could say Jesus was no threat to Rome – ‘Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ etc. But historians may dismiss your interpretation.”

            Firstly, Jesus has just committed sedition with that quote, since it is the Emperor/Senate who determines what is rendered unto the empire, not a Roman subject! Secondly, Jesus attracted large crowds, which is a breach of the Pax Romana, what Rome calls sedition. Thirdly, Jesus referred to Himself as a “King”, and not just any king, but a heavenly king on Earth whose real domain is in Heaven; a double threat to Rome–not only a king, but a deity king! Yet, what did Pilate do, the man who never suffered fools, who had a bad habit of shooting first and asking questions later? He didn’t want to touch Jesus!

            “One scholar I read said, if you want to know who was responsible for the death of Jesus, it was the Roman imperial system.”

            So we blame Jesus’ death on Roman imperial law? The law that Jesus broke? What perverted logic is this?! At any rate, Pilate did everything he could to NOT execute Jesus. How is that not obvious to you?

          • John Haggerty

            I feel rather like a redneck, hillbilly lawyer (self-taught in barrack room law) who finds himself in the courthouse with Clarence Darrow. In this scenario, the redneck always asks the judge for more time. Then he hits the whisky bottle and figures out how he can find a false witness or three. I have no intention of doing the latter. But I beg for more time to absorb the impressive historiography you have marshalled. The material on Agrippa is extraordinary. The material on the Jewish Revolt staggering. I am reminded of my first reading of The Passover Plot 40 years ago. Much later I saw its flaws. You haven’t theorized as The Passover Plot author did. (He was a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar but I think his editor musthave talked him into writing a bestseller with a big explosive finish.) I did take in your point that there were nine Roman governors after Pilate. But first I wanted to be very clear about Pilate’s motivation (you acknowledge he was ruthless) in appearing to be unwilling to lay a hand on Jesus. Now I see he could have arrested him at any time during Christ’s public ministry in Jerusalem. Our Lord didn’t just overturn the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple. He was a disturber of the peace. Sedition. Inciting crowds. Claiming kingship. Your point about the Roman coin is telling; I had not thought of it before. Do you then think the charges of anti-Semitism in the Gospels overstated?

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Our Lord didn’t just overturn the tables of the moneychangers…”

            Twice! Punishable by execution. Any such disturbance would have been punished, and was frequently, though Jesus got a pass.

          • John Haggerty

            The Persians invented crucifixion. This I did not know. Thanks. Your portrait of Agrippa I not persecuting Christians, and then doing so because he grew vain and believed himself to be a god, is persuasive. If I had the eloquence and learning of Robert Graves, I could put it better. The High Priest’s prophetic calling for Jesus’ death in John (as though he knows it is preordained) always puzzled me. You make a convincing enough case that he knew (or half knew?) Jesus to be Messiah. So did Pilate. Harder to accept in Pilate’s case, but then as you say, why didn’t Pilate have Jesus arrested earlier? Then also have the apostles arrested? It is true the temple guards fall to the ground when they see Jesus in Gethsemane. It is an astonishing piece of writing, this half-hearted arrest of Jesus. Full of wonder. And I write this on Good Friday. As if they too know he is the Messiah. Your reading is so rewarding because it reveals the wrongness of anti-Semitism. You make brilliant sense of the stoning of Stephen. You make better sense of Hyam Maccoby’s point that Paul, on his travels, enjoyed more than just the protection of being a Roman citizen. If memory serves, Maccoby called Paul a Roman spy. (See ‘Paul and the Invention of Christianity’ by Hyram Maccoby.) I do wonder about a number of things. Do we now read the New Testament by unveiling, so to speak, the full historic truth that lies behind it? Coded, as you say. A coded text. Do we bother to read the early fathers at all? I must be stupid because there’s one other thing I still cannot grasp. Why didn’t the church come out with all this after the conversion of Constantine? What was there to hide now? And wouldn’t full knowledge of the truth bring some relief? Wouldn’t the faithful have felt greater awe, knowing that God had worked through both the high priests and Pilate to reveal the glory of Christ the King? Would not such an admission have brought the Jews of the Diaspora into a knowledge of Christ? I am asking, not telling. You say when the faith prevailed in 313 AD, there was no going back. No, but couldn’t they have gone forward by saying what you are saying now? If what you are saying is Good News now, why not then? Was it that churchmen did not want to lose face? But those church fathers could have said there was no lie intended. It was all part of God’s wonderful plan. The God who absolutely controls history. Even Luther would have been a better man if all this had come out in the third century. Imagine a Luther (for he had great qualities) without his horrid anti-Semitism? Imagine a Christian history we don’t have to be so ashamed about.

          • John Haggerty

            Correction. HYAM MACCOBY. I hate to misspell a name. He was a distinguished scholar and dramatist. Published many fine books. Born in 1924. Died 2004.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “If memory serves, Maccoby called Paul a Roman spy.”

            Following that logic, and based on my research/analysis, Jesus and all others were Roman spies too(!); Rome was doing all it could to commit suicide! Maybe Rome thought the “light of the world” no longer was the “light” and decided to commit voluntary collapse of its civilization? Boy, it took a long time, didn’t it? Over another 400 years. So much for Maccoby!

          • John Haggerty

            Prayers mind-numbing? Jesus bids us ‘pray constantly’. It is a commandment. All Scriptures are ‘God-breathed’ — so God’s holy Bible tells us. Frank Schaeffer (see his Patheos blog) joined the Greek Orthodox Church for its fidelity to the apostolic faith and its beautiful liturgy. Catholics sick of mediocre services are flocking to hear the Tridentine Mass. The metrical psalms sung in the Free Church of Scotland and the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland are extremely beautiful. When I say ‘beautiful’ I mean more than aesthetics — I mean ‘the beauty of the Lord.’ The Alpha courses have brought many to a knowledge of the Lord. But I would like to see more churches offering courses on sound reading of Biblical texts. It could help the faithful deal with all the current heresies (i.e. ‘all religions are saying the same thing’ — how often does one hear that nonsense?). Retired lecturers from Bible colleges might enjoy sharing their scholarship and learning. Modernist readings of Scripture could be challenged. More churches could take Bible classes out to libraries and community centres and coffee shops. Many evangelical churches already do so. I am reading Michael Bird’s book ‘The Gospel of the Lord – How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus’. He is a lecturer in theology in Melbourne, Australia. Some churches host reading clubs using good books like this. Now regarding your other points. If there was some widespread understanding that Jesus was the Messiah and the Logos, why weren’t there mass conversions in Judea, Galilee, Samaria? Why does the risen Lord instruct his disciples to preach the Gospel ‘to the ends of the earth’? It’s going to be hard work and a hard life, and it will end in their violent death. (Think of the anger our good street preachers have to deal with in American and British cities.) Where are the widespread conversions in Rome and throughout the Empire? It is slaves who are converted. Paul’s preaching elicits laughter in Athens, though some of the philosophers say ‘we will hear of this again’. Also, you never come to grips with the opposition Jesus receives during his lifetime. Rejection in Galilee.The scribes and the Pharisees in Jerusalem trying to trick him. The people ‘no longer walk with him’ – even after his miracle of the loaves and fishes. The multitudes gather to hear Jesus preach, but as the 19th Century preacher Robert Murray McCheyne said, the multitudes are not saved. Five hundred saw the risen Lord, Paul tells us, but that is not a multitude. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would have gathered you in prayer’. Jesus weeps as he looks down on Jerusalem. In John he appeals to the Pharisees. ‘I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am, ye shall die in your sins.’ (St. John 8-24) Later in the text — ‘I am the good shepherd … the good shepherd layeth down his life.’ The apostles do not understand Christ’s words regarding his passion, death and resurrection. (How on earth could Pilate have understood?) Further on we read: ‘There arose a division among the Jews because of these words. And many of them said, he hath a devil and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the sayings of one possessed with a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? … The Jews therefore came round about him and said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.’ If you read John Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries ‘ John I-I0’ published by Eerdmans translated by THL Parker (please do read it) — Calvin says: ‘For God effectually calls those whom He has elected, so that Christ’s sheep are proved by their faith. And indeed, believers are called sheep because they surrender themselves to God to be ruled by the hand of the head Shepherd … It is no small consolation to godly teachers that, although the larger part of the world does not listen to Christ, He has his sheep whom He knows and by whom He is also known.’ Your reading of the NT never comes to grip with the doctrine of election. I am sure John MacArthur’ James White and John Piper have sermons on election on YouTube. Listen to them, please.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Prayers mind-numbing?”

            When performed in excess, inhibiting thinking of Jesus and the mysteries of God.

          • John Haggerty

            You are building your case in the most cogent way. Thank you for letting me know of biblegateway, christiananswers and biblehub/Aramaic. The word ‘aramaic’ jumped out at me. I think we are all fascinated by the idea of the New Testament being retranslated into our Lord’s own tongue. (Hearing Hebrew spoken is also a pleasure. I once heard the distinguished novelist Amos Oz reading an excerpt from his autobiography, concerning the tragic death of his mother. He read the passage in Hebrew.) You remind me that Gentiles of all ranks were converted, slaves and free men. Some historians have said the new faith made initial converts in Jewry, but that the numbers of Jewish converts then declined, and that Christianity only revived again because of widespread Gentile conversion. Do you agree? If so, why the decline in conversion in Jewry? Was there hardline opposition to the Jesus movement among holy Jews? Did they feel monotheism was under attack? There were Jews who thought Jesus was Messiah but not the divine son of God, weren’t there? Dr James McGrath says no one thought of Jesus as Logos until the John’s Gospel. (Eusebius of Caesaria thought John wrote to fill in the gaps in the Synoptics.) Do you agree with Dr McGrath? Did it take some years before the Jesus movement thought of their saviour as the Logos? Is this what some mean by ‘mythicism’? And what the devout mean by the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing men to a fuller knowledge of who Jesus really was? I do read your posts with interest. If I don’t answer you again for some hours, it’s only because I need to stretch my legs. Brisk walking is the only exercise I do……..Off subject. Are you the author of a thriller on the CIA? Among my other interests. I am rereading William Colby’s ‘Honorable Men’ and watching a fascinating documentary about Mr Colby by his son on YouTube. Perhaps it is another Dean Jackson who writes political thrillers. Regards.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Some historians have said the new faith made initial converts in Jewry, but that the numbers of Jewish converts then declined, and that Christianity only revived again because of widespread Gentile conversion. Do you agree?”

          • John Haggerty

            Intentionally lowered? By ‘most theologians’? Who are these theologians? And wouldn’t contemporary historians who specialize in the period we call ‘later antiquity’ set them straight? I am also wondering where you go for your sources. Who are the historians you might recommend? You talk of ‘thousands’ and ‘tens of thousands’ but do we really have accurate figures? There was nothing much between the number of American citizens who voted for Kennedy and those who voted for Richard Nixon. But political scientists and American historians have plenty of material to work with. They are able to break down the voting figures, state by state. But how do you count the heads in Palestine (as it wasn’t yet called), Greece, Asia Minor? And when did the Gnostics enter the scene, and so muddy the waters? I mean how did you define a Christian in those days? I am told many Anglicans today do not believe in the virgin birth of Christ. I would give them copies of Gresham Machen’s scholarly defence of the virgin birth published in 1930. But they prefer fluent waffle of the kind written by Don Cupitt. And now I really must go for that brisk walk. Hear from you again, I hope.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Intentionally lowered? By ‘most theologians’? Who are these theologians?

            As I already referenced the “tens of thousands” replaced with “thousands”; a direct attack on the Jews’ knowledge of who Jesus was thirty years after His resurrection. Most Bibles still have the “thousands”, therefore most theologians are lying.

            “And wouldn’t contemporary historians who specialize in the period we call ‘later antiquity’ set them straight?”

            Historians? As my research has shown, they don’t know what they’re talking about, assuming the historian in question specializes in New Testament studies.

            “Who are the historians you might recommend?”

            Me, the amateur historian(!); the only person to have properly analyzed the Gospels/Acts narratives, where the narratives don’t come of reading as though they were concocted by inept forgers.

          • John Haggerty

            ‘Most theologians are lying.’ Historians ‘don’t know what they’re talking about’. This is internet language at its most juvenile, Dean. Hilaire Belloc wrote in a vigorous style and made enemies left and right. He may have been proven correct in his views on the English Reformation and the seizure of church lands by the nobles. I read one academic historian who said Belloc’s thesis was mostly accurate on that subject. Belloc’s other assertions, as a journalist, were challenged. But he would have thought twice about calling theologians liars or historians utterly misinformed, at least in the broad terms you do. For all his set views he had a winning way with him. In all charity I recommend that you do not sound such a self-assertive note.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “This is internet language at its most juvenile…”

            If that’s what you call the truth.

          • John Haggerty

            I did make my remarks ‘in all charity’ Dean. You have managed very well up to now without any advice from me, so feel free to ignore it. Yes, Professor Moss dismisses Acts as ‘apocryphal’ as so many scholars do, perhaps nearly all. Pilate’s refusal to have Jesus arrested is the key, you say. Yes, I am being won over to this idea. But suppose Pilate’s motives were not as you state. Suppose Pilate was playing a long game. If Jesus is the Messiah, then he’s not a political one. His kingdom is of another world. Jesus is the man of peace who pacifies the crowds. He is calling on them to repent. Pilate likes this, it’s a form of social control. Pious people are no trouble. Pious people are not a rabble or a mob. Pilate is more worried about the zealots and the temple priests with all their petty grievances. Pilate just thinks of Jesus as a holy fool, though a fool who performs healings everywhere he goes. A holy fool touched by some divinity. Jesus tells the people to cooperate with the occupying army, to ‘go the second mile’. Jesus speaks to centurion officers. Jesus might even tame the zealots. I remember a writer suggesting Judas might have been a zealot. Of course, my off the cuff theory and your very considered theory, rests on Pilate having a good intelligence system. And so he would have, the Romans being so clever and all. The weakness, as I see it, is this. Jesus spoke in riddles at times, even to his disciples. My quotation from John suggests Jesus’ reluctance to declare himself Messiah. ‘How long does thou hold us in suspense?’ the Pharisees say. ‘If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Now you may not trust a line of John’s Gospel. You may think it’s half fiction. I have plenty of friends who think the whole New Testament is a Harry Potter story. OK, but that leaves you with no text to work from. It would mean you are making suppositions — intelligent suppositions, I grant you — from a fragile base. I mean we are talking about a long time ago, kiddo. NT scholars admit there is a dearth of hard material to work with. On the other hand, your theory does make sense at the end of the day. Now try and poke holes in it as if you were your own critic. You may even make a break through……And now I must sleep Dean, it’s the middle of the night. Easter already. I look forward to your next post. Go well.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Yes, Professor Moss dismisses Acts as ‘apocryphal’ as so many scholars do, perhaps nearly all.”

            No, she mentions the apocryphal acts, which are these books not included in the NT…

            http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/actspaul.html

            …when the non-apocryphal New Testament “Acts” clearly shows Paul creating unrest among the Jews, where in at least one instance Paul is brought to a Roman magistrate, but the Roman magistrate inexplicably tells the Jews who brought Paul before him that it’s not his concern! Maybe Professor Moss only mentions the apocryphal acts because there are so many more examples there to be found where even other apostles are causing unrest. That must be it, though she should have included the non-apocryphal Acts itself.

          • John Haggerty

            Now you are back on form. This is most engrossing. I know you have already answered my questions on this thread. But there are many issues in history which one needs to go over again and again. Maybe ALL issues. Think of a cop movie. The detectives in the precinct are interrogating a murder suspect. They begin to see this isn’t the killer though he does have a criminal record. ‘Tell me again,’ they say. ‘I’ve told you a hundred times,’ cries the weary man. The police are looking for an overlooked clue that may lead them to the truth. Historians talk about interrogating the archives, don’t they? You caught the mistake I made. I DID see that Professor Moss was referring to the apocryphal acts. But I went off like a dog chasing a possum. I just had to express my unease over NT scholars who refer to the non-apocryphal Acts as ‘fiction’, didn’t I? Again you are on form here. In the canonical Acts the Roman magistrate tells the Jewish elders that he will not (cannot?) put Paul on trial. You are convinced that historians have ignored, or not sufficiently grasped, these details. The overlooked clue. Inexplicable, as you say. And so you have found (not invented) the syllogism. In order to make the inexplicable explicable. It does indeed make sense. That is also the reason to keep on questioning it. To put it under the microscope as it were. Even what we call ‘independent scholars’ do not operate alone. They belong to a community. I love the books of Barbara Tuchmann. She had independent means and worked outside of academe, but she would have had friends in places of learning who would have read her unfinished works with a critical eye. Now, I do not know if Rome refused to permit assemblies. Assemblies lead to sedition. I don’t know if that was the case but I will take your word for it. I will also need to check it against what books I have by Michael Grant and other Roman historians. You say my sceptical friends (and I presume other informed people) ‘see the Christian interpretation of the NT as a hilarious and obvious forgery’. Let us be clear here. Books can be fraudulent and an interpretation of a good book can be flawed or fanciful. But an interpretation can’t be said to be ‘forged’. The books of the NT can be fiction, half fiction, three quarters fiction. They can have a basis in the truth – i.e. there was a Jesus of Nazareth who may have been a charismatic healer, and who may have preached the coming of the kingdom of heaven, and who may have been executed. But added to this thin base of possible truth we have lots and lots of theological and mythological thinking. Thinking that was the thought-world of apocalyptic Jews like Paul. After all, they did think this world was coming to an end. Paul said so himself. You are taking us out of this impasse or dead end, historically speaking. You are saying that Roman subjects would not have seen anything odd about the Gospel/Acts. Why not? They knew they were ‘true’ because ‘word of Jesus had already preceded the arrival of Paul’s ministry’. Then you push rapidly ahead and remind us that nine Roman governors in Judea (nine because we have already dealt with Pilate and his refusal to arrest Jesus) will not arrest, indict or even harass the Jesus followers. Earlier in the thread you say your case is ‘iron clad’. I would call it ‘interesting’. Not as weak a word as it may sound. To me ‘very interesting’. But tons of labour still needs to be done, Dean. I had a girlfriend who wrote about the working class trades union movement in England in the 19th Century. She belonged to a history workshop attached to a university. Her reading and research was massive. She questioned every sentence she wrote. Your closing remarks say ‘therefore the new religion was known to be true’. In what way was it ‘known’? By whom? Over what period of time? What did mean by the ‘truth’ if their thought-world was mythological? What writings by these men do we turn to? ‘There are more questions than answers’ as that irritating song goes. Let me close by quoting from Noam Chomsky’s recent book, ‘On Anarchism’. He writes that ‘the sources of power and authority that people could see in front of their eyes in the 18th Century were quite different from the ones that we have today — back then it was the feudal system, and the Church, and the absolutist state’. Professor Chomsky said ‘they couldn’t see the industrial corporation, because it didn’t yet exist’. Roman subjects — and we only really know of the Roman elite and ruling class — could only ‘see’ the emerging Jesus movement in a limited and partial way. They couldn’t see what did not yet exist, to use Noam Chomsky’s words.

          • John Haggerty

            -Correction. I meant to write – ‘What did MEN mean by the truth if their thought-world was mythological?’ I am saying that men in the 21st Century speak about truth in a way that is very different from the way educated men did in the first century. I mean men in the West. I know a hardline Muslim and enjoy his company but a rational discussion about Islam is difficult to say the least. It’s strange to think that Richard Dawkins might think of me as I think of my Muslim friend. I do like Dawkins very much.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “In the canonical Acts the Roman magistrate tells the Jewish elders that he will not (cannot?) put Paul on trial.”

            When FINALLY arrested in Jerusalem, Paul demanded an audience with the Emperor, so the Roman magistrate was correct. No debate there. However,

          • John Haggerty

            Before I go out for a long walk, let me fire off another question. (No need for an answer today or even this week. You can just keep it in mind.) We do not know how Paul’s life ended. A.N. Wilson wrote a most readable biography of Paul and said that we don’t know how the story ends. In a sense we feel cheated because Paul, for those who like the man, is important to us. Do you think it is likely, very likely, or possible that he died in Rome as tradition has it? Was he executed? If so, why? And if he was executed by Rome, what light does this throw back on the Jesus movement and its status in the Roman world ….There are lots of questions there. As my teacher at school used to say ‘Rest your voice, Haggerty.’

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Do you think it is likely, very likely, or possible that he died in Rome as tradition has it?”

            Paul was executed, otherwise we’d have heard more from the man; Paul had immense energy, if nothing else! Periodic executions of Christians by Rome were for mere political expediency, otherwise not even Jesus and His disciples would have lasted three days spreading sedition in Judea, let alone survive three days spreading blasphemies in Galilee and Judea.

          • John Haggerty

            Periodic executions for political expediency. OK, I can see this world is as complex as our own. But the execution of the Apostle to the Gentiles is beneficial to whom? (‘Who Whom?’ as I think Lenin said) Something for you to ponder rather than answer immediately. I am still trying to understand this widespread belief throughout the Roman world that Jesus the charismatic preacher of obscure origins is the Messiah. I am trying to understand how the Roman ruling class understood his death. ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures and to save us from the wrath to come.’ Is this being preached? If the Roman elite already believe it then Paul’s execution would be seen as a terrible sin for which God would judge the perpetrators. Also, do the Roman elite believe Jesus rose again on the third day with a glorified body? That he will return to judge the living and the dead? Have the common people abandoned the old gods en masse? Getting the people of my native city to think about God on Sunday seems like a lost cause. Without my belief in the Holy Spirit it would be impossible. My city’s motto is ‘Lord let Glasgow flourish through the preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy Name’. This has now been adapted to ‘Let Glasgow flourish’. The post-Christian world is a godless place. Wasn’t the pre-Christian Roman world equally godless? John Knox would be booed in today’s Glasgow. Wouldn’t Paul have been booed too in Rome?

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “I am trying to understand how the Roman ruling class understood his death.”

            The Roman elite wouldn’t have been clued-in to the subtleties of Jesus. At least not until they got clarification on the matter. All they knew was that Jesus was, at the very least, a demigod, so they left Jesus and disciples/apostles alone.

          • John Haggerty

            If they thought of Jesus as a demi god they might well have left his disciples and apostles alone. I am reminded of Billion Dollar Baby, one of my favourite movies. Clint Eastwood is quite brilliant as the seasoned old boxing coach. He is a daily communicant and taxes his priest about the mystery of the Trinity. ‘Is Jesus a demi god?’ he asks. ‘There are no demi gods, you pagan,’ the priest responds good naturedly. But a mind conditioned in Roman culture would have thought of our Blessed Lord in this way. Morton Smith in his book ‘Jesus the Magician’ suggested that some Jews would have thought of our Lord as a worker of magic. What you say interests me in a pastoral way. I am sure we need to spend more time with people in their pre-conversion state. And by people I do mean everyone not under the covenant of Christ’s redeeming blood. From the engaging Richard Dawkins to the dear confused people I saw in Glasgow today. We musn’t frighten them off too soon by talking about judgment and hell. I believe in judgement and hell, but let’s start with the words of the Lord Jesus …’WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?’

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “If they thought of Jesus as a demi god they might well have left his disciples and apostles alone.”

            That’s precisely what Roman governors did.

          • John Haggerty

            By a thought-world we call mythological, I mean that men interpreted events in a religious way. The gods are acting through events and intervening in events in a supernatural way. When people heard about the birth narratives of Jesus, they did not ask ‘Did this really happen?’ but instead asked ‘What does it mean?’ (In their thought-world real events and supernatural events did not always have a clear line of separation. On the other hand, Scripture assures us that we are not being fed a lot of myths or stories concerning the saviour Jesus Christ.) The Pharisees tell us how men might have thought. ‘Suppose some angel or spirit has really spoken to him?’ However you are using the term ‘mythological’ in a misleading way, i.e. ‘Roman subjects would never accept a mythological narrative’. Wouldn’t it be better to say that Roman subjects would not accept an unconvincing narrative? You might show me the first draft of your new novel about the KGB. I say ‘The first half is thoroughly convincing but the second half of your novel doesn’t convince me at all. Your characters wouldn’t behave in this way. You must rewrite and reimagine your own thought-world.’ OK, ‘Roman subjects would have been laughing at such a made-up story’. But this implies a degree of sophistication that properly belongs to the post-Enlightenment world. WHY were they convinced by the Christ-redeemer story? But what means of comprehension? What tools of understanding? What methodology? Richard Dawkins says that before Charles Darwin men by and large did not question that there was a creation, and therefore a creator. Darwin’s greatness lay not just in his scientific inquiry but in his moral courage, and in his determination to solve the really big question — life, natural selection. Now for that walk.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “When people heard about the birth narratives of Jesus, they did not ask ‘Did this really happen?’ but instead asked ‘What does it mean?'”

            Roman subjects would know it was true. Any deeper appreciation of the birth narrative would depend on the interpretive capabilities of the particular Roman subject, and such capabilities would be few.

            “However you are using the term ‘mythological’ in a misleading way, i.e. ‘Roman subjects would never accept a mythological narrative’.”

            I didn’t say that! Roman subjects DID accept what turned out to be mythological narratives, but they didn’t have any reason to know that those mythological narratives were false. In the case of the Gospels/Acts narratives Roman subjects had for the first time, and not only Rome, empirical standards to judge whether the Jesus phenomena was real or not, and that proof, as I’ve been saying since the beginning of this thread, was the failure of Roman officials to stamp out sedition/rebellion among the Jesus Sect. Roman subjects witnessed these incredible manifestations of sedition with their own eyes, so they knew Jesus was who He claimed to be. Roman subjects wouldn’t have accepted such obvious lies UNLESS they knew the Jesus narrative to be true. A Roman subject who first hears the Jesus narrative KNOWS from first hand experience that the narrative is a badly concocted, a-historical, forgery UNLESS that Roman subject already knew the narrative to be true.

            “But this implies a degree of sophistication that properly belongs to the post-Enlightenment world.”

            What sophistication? Roman subjects lived under Roman governors! They needed no sophistication. What is lacking is that today most people don’t know how Roman governors treated charismatic figures who attracted large crowds, and those who do know still haven’t connected the dots as to what that proves concerning Roman officials’ knowledge regarding the divine mission of Jesus and disciples/apostles.

          • John Haggerty

            I am not one to demythologise the birth narratives. I do not think they were theological folk-tales or any of the mumbo one hears in liberal churches. I will go into this another time. You must understand that I step outside of my faith as an evangelical Christian and employ critical language. Liberal can be a tricky word. The Scottish theologian William Barclay was liberal and in a book he said he believed the Apostles wrote each of the four Gospels. Your sentence beginning ‘A Roman subject who first hears the Jesus narrative KNOWS from first hand experience’ etc lost me syntactically speaking. But I think I know what you are saying. It is your syllogism. I am delighted you end on the note of Jesus’ mission as divine. This is the truth on which Christianity rests, Peter’s faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, ‘on this rock I will build my church’. Of course we have the Richard Dawkins Foundation winning a generation over to the idea that we are suffering from ‘thought disorder’. Some neuroscientists seem to be saying something similar. Only ‘the peace of God that passes all understanding’ can bring a wordly man or woman out of wordly thinking. Only Jesus Christ.

          • John Haggerty

            I have only just noticed the subsidiary paragraphs on this comment. I enjoyed your reading of the Pharisees and the Sadducees playing good cop and bad cop. The ‘angel or spirit’ line is a canard? Yes, I think this is an intelligent interpretation of what may be going on. Can empirical litmus tests be applied to the Gospel narratives? We may have thought they couldn’t. You are demonstrating the Roman citizens could do so owing to the stand-down behaviour of the magistrates — what I will now call your ‘non prosecution of Christians’ argument. It doesn’t look as though the argument can collapse. We would all owe you a debt. As long as you can sustain the case over a longish prose work citing sources and a bibliography. Definitely not for this blog. A book, ideally. I will return to some of your points again. Please don’t be impatient if I do so. Chomsky is off topic. I am too old in the tooth to debate Vietnam with an American and an American who is a political scientist. I admired the documentary DVD on Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent, especially the early interviews such as the one with William Buckley Jnr. You and I come from very different histories and cultures. I could talk about the libertarian Marxist traditions in thought, writing, political and cultural activity and just the actual lives of men and women in Europe, the United States. I could talk about the history of American socialism and trades union activity and those who withstood and protested against the US military industrial complex from I.F. Stone to Grace Paley and yes, Noam Chomsky. I could talk about the recent history of the CIA, ‘A Legacy of Ashes’ and the neo-imperialist ventures of Tony Blair and George W Bush. But this is so off topic I will lose sight of our faith in Jesus Christ.

          • John Haggerty

            Dean, watch ‘Gore Vidal on Understanding America’s Terrorist Crisis’ (YouTube) and read all of Gore’s political essays. He will help sort your head out. I have a booklist of recent titles published by Penguin which you should read written by front-rank economists, journalists, professors of political philosophy, academic historians and distinguished foreign correspondents: you need to start engaging with first rate minds. I had a scan of your political comments on YouTube. Some of it is quite dotty. You are better than this. Regarding the Cold War there are lots of well grounded, well researched scholarly books available. But worthwhile older books on the subject would have to include I.F. Stone’s ‘The Truman Era’ and ‘The Haunted Fifties’. You can watch the late great Izzy Stone on YouTube.

          • John Haggerty

            I have only just noticed this. ‘After the resurrection everyone knew who Jesus was’ you write – well, no, our Lord appeared to some five hundred disciples, Paul writes, some of whom are asleep in the Lord, but many are still alive. Clearly the multitudes were aware of some great change in the followers of Jesus, and of course there was Pentecost. James Jesus Angleton, many believe, damaged the Central Intelligence Agency with his obsessive belief that there was an American Philby. (Philby and Angleton had been met on a number of occasions and were on friendly terms.) William Colby’s son said his father had admired FDR and had believed in the New Deal and was a labour lawyer at heart. That doesn’t make him a Marxist. Mr Colby headed up the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Chile. All on the orders of the President and the administration of course. Millions of dollars went into destabilising Chile’s economy and turning the middle classes of Chile against the democratic Allende government. Allende was Marxist in some of his thinking. So what? American governments have propped up rotten right-wing regimes in Latin America because their policies were dictated by capital, the dollar, greed. The result of the CIA’s involvement in the overthrow of Chile’s elected government was the butchering, the murder, of many decent honest Chileans who had only wanted to see a society which had basic health care for the poor. I could cite many books on the subject but just read the most recent – ‘The Story of A Death Foretold: Pinochet, the CIA and the Coup Against Salvador Allende, 11 September 1973’ by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, who teaches international law and international affairs at Birbeck College, London. Incidentally, Angleton got it into his head that the Labour prime minister Harold Wilson was a Soviet agent because Wilson had made a number of trips to the USSR in the 50s as an economic adviser to a private British firm. That Harold Wilson could have been a Soviet spy made Angleton a laughing stock. Angleton’s mind was broken. Possibly by his shock at learning that his friend Kim Philby was a double agent and had been passing on valuable intelligence since the time of Stalin. Many British agents died as a result of Philby’s treachery. But please do not equate Marxist with pro-Stalinist.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “I have only just noticed this. ‘After the resurrection everyone knew who Jesus was’ you write – well, no, our Lord appeared to some five hundred disciples, Paul writes, some of whom are asleep in the Lord, but many are still alive.”

            You still fail to comprehend my discovery! The fact that ten Roman governors in Judea, and all Roman governors that Paul and Peter run into outside of the Levant, fail to arrest Jesus/disciples/apostles tells us that EVERYONE heard of Jesus, and that Roman governors were following policy from the Emperor. You’re spinning your wheels here when there’s no need to! Why would that be?

            “James Jesus Angleton, many believe, damaged the Central Intelligence Agency…”

            Yes, the “many” are called Marxists, which is why the CIA covers for the fake collapse of the USSR…

            (1) The Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian State Duma building…

            http://footage.framepool.com/shotimg/qf/544004264-duma-kremlin-palace-russian-flag-red-square.jpg

            Notice that the State Emblem of the Soviet Union is illuminated at night for clear viewing by Muscovites…

            http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-3345878-stock-footage-street-traffic-on-okhotny-ryad-and-state-duma-at-evening-in-moscow.html

            …however the coat of arms of the Russian Federation, situated above the door between the fourth and fifth floors, isn’t illuminated, though either side of the heraldic design is illuminated for no apparent purpose other than to highlight the heraldic design’s obsolescence.

            (2) High atop the facade of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, the State Emblem of the Soviet Union
            is Illuminated with pinpoint precision at night…

            http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4149/5168126126_02c5505a79_m.jpg

            (3) The State Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian Ministry of Defense building, including other Soviet era iconography…

            http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/51802114.jpg

            (4) Soviet Red Stars atop Kremlin towers remain where Stalin placed them in 1935…

            http://rt.com/files/news/37/3d/30/00/russia-ukraine-dialogue-peskov.si.jpg

            (5) Moscow’s Central Post Office employees are still in the dark as to the “collapse” of the USSR in late 1991..

            http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2012/10/Central_telegraph_Moscow.jpg

            Why, you ask? Click the following link for the answer…

            https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSWwliNXIZONPNidfnkRh6BxX75JS3mQB5Qp0PCgGiYzNI61EF2

            (6)Headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service, and the Soviet Union’s security service, the KGB…

            https://worldsgreatesttravelblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/russia-1021.jpg

            Note the State Emblem of the Soviet Union still over the main door (click picture to enlarge), and hammer and sickle logo still above the clock. And here’s the Lubyanka at nightime…

            http://vindenes.nu/gallery/wp-content/gallery/m419.jpg

            Note illumination of hammer & sickle, and enhanced illumination of area above the main door, where the office of the KGB chief was located (third floor).

            (7) Satellite image of the Volga River cities of Engels, (right), and Saratov (left)…

            http://img-fotki.yandex.ru/get/9504/190708966.8/0_8a367_1ca2f18f_L.jpg

            Engels Air Force Base is east of Engels city, where the two long parallel lines are located, …

            http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-w6rMlJAPFXU/UJ7KEuTD1FI/AAAAAAAABnE/9JkaNrXYY28/s1600/RUSSIA-ENGEL.jpg

            Notice that Engels city and adjacent air base were named after Marxist “hero” Friedrich Engels, but the names were never changed after Russians were “liberated” from Soviet tyranny in December 1991 with the “collapse” of the USSR.

            (8) Red Star, the Official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Defense…

            http://cdn3.img22.ria.ru/images/98392/32/983923224.jpg

            Note the Soviet era title (Red Star) and the four Soviet emblems (representing awards) to the left of the masthead, the outer emblem displaying Vladimir Lenin. Now, click the following link to view the official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…

            http://www.redstar.ru/

            The newspaper is still called Red Star(!) and still has the four Soviet emblems with Vladimir Lenin still present!

            (9) Soviet roundel still on Russian military aircraft…

            http://theuspatriot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Russian-fighter-jets1.jpg

            (10) Soviet era Communist emblem (red star) still attached to the port bow of the Russian missile cruiser Varyag…

            http://global.fncstatic.com/static/managed/img/fn-latino/news/Russian%20Naval%20Ship.jpg

            The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists,* which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

            Notice that not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

            It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

            There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

            Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

            The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

            The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

            Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.
            —————————-
            *The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States, while we don’t know when exactly the Democratic Party was co-opted by Marxists, thanks to the peculiar historical nature surrounding the founding of the Republican Party, we do know when exactly the party of Lincoln was co-opted.

            The following incomplete list identifies Marxists/socialists who after the failed 1848 revolution in Germany came to the United States, subsequently infiltrating the embryonic Republican Party, many forming voluntary Germanic Union Armies and becoming General Officers themselves within the Union Army, such as…

            (1) Brigadier General Joseph Weydemeyer of the Union Army was a close friend of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels in the London Communist League (Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, close friend of Marx, published with Joseph Weydemyer a number of Communist journals and, also “The Communist Manifesto,” commissioned by Karl Marx. As a member of the Communist/Socialist Fourier Society in America, Dana was well acquainted with Marx and Marx’s colleague in Communism, Fredrick Engels. Dana, also, was a friend of all Marxists in the Republican Party, offering assistance to them almost upon their arrival on the American continent.);

            (2) Brigadier General Louis Blenker, Union Army—radical socialist/Communist from Germany—was remarkably successful in encouraging German immigrants to join the Union Army and the Republican Party;

            (3) Major General August Willich—often called “The Reddest of the Red ‘48ers” was a member of the London Communist League with Karl Marx and Fredrick Engles. Before seeking refuge in the U.S. Willich was a personal acquaintance of Karl Marx;

            (4) Major Robert Rosa, of the Union Army, was a proud member of the New York Communist Club;

            (5) Brigadier General Carl Schurz –as a young socialist, was noted for helping Gottfried Kinkel of Bonn escape from Spandau while imprisoned there for his socialist activities in the ’48 Revolts. Schurz came to America in 1848. He was a forty-eighter who became very active in the development of the Republican Party and in politics. He was given a high position by Lincoln in the Union Army;

            (6) Brigadier General Alexander Von Schimmelfenning, after the failed revolution in Germany he fled to Switzerland, then traveled to London where he became a part of the German ‘democratic movement’, a sectarian group within the Communist League led by Karl Schapper and August Willich. In 1854, Schimmelfennig emigrated to the United States and worked in the War Department, where he maintained his association with the Forty-Eighters;

            (7) Major General Franz Siegel, thought to be one of Lincoln’s most controversial and the poorest of his generals;

            (8) Commander Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker, (exact military title not known) known as “Red” and “Flagrant Friedrich.” Educated in Germany, received his doctor of law degree in Munich. He was expelled from Prussia. Arriving in the U.S., he took part in the creation of the Republican Party, encouraged the proliferation of German newspapers carrying the Socialist propaganda, aided in the election of Lincoln, and propagandized heavily among German immigrants for volunteers for the Union Army. He was named Commander of a regiment he raised of Germans;

            (9) General John C. Fremont was noted for his close association with all of the socialist/communists whom Lincoln placed in positions of command in his army. Fremont was the first Republican candidate for president. He was considered to be the “darling” of the most radical socialists. His chief of staff, early in the war, was Hungarian socialist revolutionary;

            (10) Brevet Major General Frederick Charles Salomon, one of a group of four radical socialist brothers, with highly similar names– three of whom were in the group of Socialist 1848ers. Frederick began his career in the Union Army as a Captain in MO, wound up as a Colonel in the Ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, then a brigadier general and a brevet major general;

            11. Brevetted Brigadier General Charles E. Salomon, also started his American military career with a bunch of MO volunteers. Born in Prussia, he, also, was one of the radical socialists arriving in the U.S. after the 1848 Socialist uprising failure and was a brother to Frederick Charles;

            12. Governor Edward Salomon, a third Salomon brother, also born in Prussia, did not do military service, but ran for political office in Wisconsin, was elected lieutenant governor, becoming Governor of Wisconsin when the elected Governor “drowned”; and

            13. Colonel Fritz Anneke/Annecke was a Forty-eighter, with a strong leftward tilt. He was a Communist League member and a Baden Revolt veteran…the list goes on…

          • John Haggerty

            ‘You still fail to comprehend my discovery.’ Forgive me, but you sound a trifle self-important here. It comes with the territory. Someone who thinks he has a kind of mission. Inspired by the Holy Spirit. Now I am ‘spinning wheels’. And you add ‘Why would that be?’ I am troubled by your last sentence. As though I am playing a game. This too comes with the territory, Dean: paranoia. However I am pleased with the volume of information you have forwarded regarding the Soviet Union. I shall spend some time digesting it. Angleton was a liability. I would have fired him myself. His paranoia was apparent in his remark about the Soviets having created ‘a wilderness of mirrors’. As I said, he couldn’t get over Philby who had been passing information to Stalin as early as Yalta. Stalin even knew something of the state of FDR’s failing health. You are speaking to a man who loathed the Soviet system, Dean. I followed the situation in Gdansk, Lech Walesa etc. I was fairly sure the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul was communist in origin. It was, the KGB working through Bulgarian agents, if I recall. Nor am I in the least averse to leftists who became conservative in their politics. I was reading the biography of John Dos Passos when I was 16 (in 1967) because I am nuts about American literature. Dos saw the truth about communism in Spain and the murder of his Spanish translator was a sea-change in his personality. Even Hemingway spotted it. After that Dos began to see the greatness in his own history and wrote a book on Thomas Jefferson. I am also a student of the Alger Hiss-Whittaker Chambers question. Too complex to go into now but I never forget that Lionel Trilling, an anti-communist liberal, said Chambers was a man incapable of telling lies. I agree. My study contains stacks of back copies of Encounter, the liberal anti-communist monthly magazine. Encounter, we now know, was financed by an American cultural foundation funded by the CIA. But as Stephen Spender said, there was no external attempt to control editorial policy by any ‘spooks’. Encounter’s writers would have known the extent to which the Popular Front had been infiltrated by Stalin’s agents, as did Orwell, but not probably the full extent. That doesn’t mean the Front didn’t do great things unless you want to use the odious term of the McCartheyites, that some Thirties radicals were ‘premature anti-fascists’. Remember, you cannot apply one set of standards to left-wing dictatorships and another to right-wing ones. Jacob Timerman established that principle when he took on neo-cons Sidney Hook and Jeane Kirkpatrick. Timerman had been tortured by a neo-Nazi military government in Argentine. Read his book, ‘Prisoner Without A Name, Cell Without A Number’. I am not a political animal but I am anti-globalist anti-international capitalism. Big business is pushing for the privatisation of Europe’s social and health care provision. Multinationals would be in a position to sue democratic governments. It isn’t Marxism you have to fear. It is being a wage slave of the free market.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Forgive me, but you sound a trifle self-important here.”

            Then why reply at all. Goodbye, Comrade.

          • Charles

            Comrade? Russia isn’t shilling here, only you Mr Israel.

          • John Haggerty

            My friend, I had to chuckle when you called me ‘Comrade’. All my old acquaintances in the Communist Party of Great Britain stopped talking to me many years ago. It saddened me because they were good company. My thought crime was to have given qualified support to Pope John Paul’s friendly relations with the Reagan administration. However I was a critic of the Reagan administration’s action in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In those days I was giving friends copies of Bob Woodward’s book ‘Veil’ on the CIA’s secret wars in Latin America. As I read your comment, my eye fell on a back copy of The Catholic Herald which happened to be lying in my study. There is a front page strap with a photograph of Paul Johnson and the words: Why CS Lewis is our Saint Augustine. Paul Johnson is one of my favourite writers. I read his book ‘The Offshore Islanders’ when I was a student. It was a crash course in British history and of course he writes like an angel. I intended to quote his words on CS Lewis on a Patheos blog. The bitter atheists who tend to dominate Patheos remind me of the doctrinaire communists of old. If only I was another Paul Johnson. (I can dream, can’t I?) However I should point out that Paul Johnson seems to have had no trouble getting a ‘spot’ on American television whenever he was in your good country. How often did you see Edward Said on American TV? How often do you see Noam Chomsky? Father Daniel Berrigan was dropped by sections of the US media when he criticized Israel. Amos Oz my favourite living novelist criticizes Israel his own country. I wonder whether the truth lovers at Fox would welcome him on a discussion on the Palestinian question? I talked about a reading list in one of my earlier comments, Dean. I recommend Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars – the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. Read any book you can find by the British correspondent Robert Fisk. I also recommend Economics: The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang (he teaches economics at Cambridge, England). Mark Mazower’s Governing the World – the History of an Idea. David Priestland’s Merchant, Soldier, Sage – a New History of Power. Thomas L Priestland’s The World is Flat – the Globalized World in the Twenty-First Century. Evgeny Morozov’s To Save Everything, Click Here – Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don’t Exist. Cullen Murphy’s God’s Jury – the Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. Simon Critchley’s The Faith of the Faithless – Experiments in Political Theology. Paul Hazard’s The Crisis in the European Mind 1680 – 1715. There are many first-rate books on the ‘Velvet Revolution’ so I will let you discover these for yourself. I like going back to the journalists who were on the ground in the last days of the Soviet Union or when the Berlin Wall fell. Sometimes more experimental books say something which lies beyond the remit of a first-rate journalist. Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty – Inside the Fifties’ Soviet Dream is one such book. I am currently reading David Slatter’s It Was a Long Time Ago and it Never Happened Anyway – Russia and the Communist Past (2012). Mr Satter was Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times from 1967 to 1982, then a special correspondent for the Wall Street Journal on Soviet affairs. He is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute and a fellow of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. I have just finished reading A Study in Ambiguity, a new biography of Francois Mitterand. The Kremlin has just given 9 million Euros to the right-wing anti-immigrant French political party founded by the late demagogue Jean Marie le Pen and now run by his daughter. I wonder what Mitterand would have thought of that. We live in strange times. Open your mind Dean before it is too late. We are here for such a short time.

          • John Haggerty

            Four more books, Dean. Read the most massive systematic attack on Marxist thought since Karl Popper. I refer to Leszek Kolakowski’s ‘Main Currents of Marxism’. But also read Terry Eagleton’s new book ‘Why Marx Was Right’: if you don’t know what an unreconstructed Marxist thinks, then how can you debate with one? My third book is little known outside of evangelical circles. It was published way back in 1972, I think, and republished in the 1990s with a new introduction by the author. I refer to ‘The Dust of Death’ by Os Guinness. Mine is the IVP first edition. This was the book which made me think about Christianity as a viable faith for the 20th Century. I read it at the age of 22-23 and I can still remember the excitement I felt then, and still do. Until then I had been reading the books on Zen all my generation read. Mr Guinness enabled me to see through the shallowness of writers such as Alan Watts. His critique of the American and European counter culture, as well as the New Left, was fair and highly informed. (He is a distinguished sociologist.) He called the then current infatuation with Eastern mysticism ‘the kiss of death’. I had never read anyone like this before. But the infatuation with anti-Christian mysticism is all around us – see Father Thomas Keating on YouTube: this is NOT Christianity but Gnosticism. But it was OG’s living faith in reformed Christianity and his commitment to Biblical truth which so impressed me. You can hear Mr Guinness on YouTube. He is a popular public speaker. His new book, ‘Renaissance’, is a must read too. My prayers and friendship.

  • Jyri Kokkonen

    Dawkins is a civilised man noting and giving recognition to the cultural heritage within which he grew up. In this case it happens to be English, or British, as defined by his class of society and education and informed by the historical role and traditions of the Church of England – quite regardless of what he actually believes, or doesn’t believe. Not all atheists foam at the mouth every time religious institutions are mentioned.

    • Theoldlady

      Most of them do foam at the mouth.

  • Eddie

    I think the reason Christians and Muslims get so het up about Dawkins is that they know inside that their faith is just a load of old mumbo jumbo, but simply can’t face admitting it because its traditions provide the whole skeleton of the body of their lives – and they are terrified of the self same ‘what next?’ moment if they admit that.
    Of course, most of religion is not faith, per se – it is culture, tradition, family, music/art/literature/poetry/theatre/architecture, food, history etc. I too love old churches and hymns – and I am well aware of how Christianity took many of the ideas for these from elsewhere too (the only thing really Christian about Christmas is the name, for example).
    But anyway, Christianity has billions of followers, millions of marketeers engaged in a hard sell, and the Catholic church alone is worth squillions – and yet they get their cassocks in a twist over an atheist who shows, quiet clearly, that evolution is fact, and that there is no evidence for religious faith. That suggests to me a certain weakness and lack of confidence on their own beliefs; maybe that’s why the religious are so aggressive all the time?

  • justejudexultionis

    ‘Very much the tutorial system. I suspect even Cambridge doesn’t do what Oxford at least did in my time.’ —

    What on earth is he blabbing on about? I went to Cambridge and the tutorial/supervision system is world-beating.

  • justejudexultionis

    We have Richard Hooker and the Latitudinarians to thank for the irenic character of Anglicanism.

  • justejudexultionis

    Wait a minute. Didn’t nineteenth-century evolutionary theory feed directly into eugenics and fascist Uebermensch thinking?

    • Daniel Maris

      Yep, via Galton who I think was Darwin’s son in law.

      • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

        Francis Galton was a cousin of Darwin, and a racist:

        “On the other hand, the opinion of the present day repudiates the belief that the negro is an extremely inferior being, because there are notorious instances of negroes possessing high intelligence and culture, some of whom acquire large fortunes in commerce, and others become considerable men in other walks of life. The truth appears to be that individuals of the mental caliber I have just described are much more exceptional in the negro than in the Anglo-Saxon race, and that average negroes possess too little intellect, self-reliance, and self-control to make it possible for them to sustain the burden of any respectable form of civilization without a large measure of external guidance and support.”

        http://galton.org/letters/africa-for-chinese/AfricaForTheChinese.htm

        It didn’t occur to Galton that the fact there were “negroes possessing high intelligence and culture” meant his theory that blacks couldn’t “form [a] civilization without a large measure of external guidance and support” was bunk. There was nothing theoretically preventing blacks from matching Western Civilization in sub-Sahara Africa, IF blacks in sub-Sahara Africa had the same culture/religion as the West.

        In any event, Galton’s analysis is a waste. Since the various races are obviously human, differences between the races are explained by the particular cultural beliefs practiced.

        • chris heath

          Try introducing Islam, and see how many ways in which society can decline…

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Try introducing Islam, and see how many ways in which society can decline…”

            I’m a Christian, and I’m spreading the latest discoveries on the subject of Jesus, and who Rome and the Jewish authorities knew Jesus to be, which God neglected to inform the Prophet Muhammad.

            See my comment to the linked article for clarification…

            http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/articles/Rediscovering-The-Mystery-of-Jesus.aspx

    • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

      The theoretical foundation upon which macroevolution rests is nonsense: By the time the last “beneficial” or “neutral” traits that are unintentionally (randomly) going to produce a new species have arrived, the first “beneficial” or “neutral” traits have disappeared according to natural selection (they served no purpose), meaning there is no new species!

      • ClausewitzTheMunificent

        Rubbish! Any organism possessing a randomly mutated selective advantage would quickly (measured in evolutionary time) become dominant within the species, thus the adaptive mutation would survive. Regarding the creation of new species, I would advise you to do one of the following: either take out a “hard science” biology book, or find one of Dawkins semi-popular books, and take the time to go through it.

        • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

          How? By the time the “new species” has arrived, at the very least the first set of “beneficial” traits have been lost due to [the concept of] natural selection…they served no ultimate purpose.

          • Deanjay1961

            If I misunderstood ‘macroevolution’ so badly, I wouldn’t believe it either. First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning once we became bipedal, something well within the capacity of an ape brain.
            The simple answer to your mystification is that the traits weren’t waiting for another beneficial trait to come along, they were beneficial at the time; which is something found over and over again in the fossil record: a new trait is useful even in its earliest stages of develpment.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning once we became bipedal, something well within the capacity of an ape brain.”

            How did “early man” become bipedal when he no longer existed? The morphology of “early man’s” hand didn’t alter until AFTER he was said to have attained bipedal movement. In fact, “early man’s” feet are the same as before, making him a lumbering bipedal, unable to evade the faster quadrupedal prey that’s hunting him.

            “The simple answer to your mystification is that the traits weren’t waiting for another beneficial trait to come along, they were beneficial at the time;”

            My initial comment proved that’s not so. A species in existence means it is in equilibrium with its environment, a deviation in the morphology of the species would necessarily produce a disequilibrium between the species and its environment, leading to the species extinction. That’s why we see species become extinct…the environment changes, producing a disequilibrium between the species and the environment.

          • Deanjay1961

            That bipedalism developed first is what I said.
            You use the word ‘prove’ a lot. I don’t think it means what you think it does.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “That bipedalism developed first is what I said.”

            No, you said, “”First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning ONCE [emphasis: mine] we became bipedal, something well within the capacity of an ape brain.” That sentence means the change in hand morphology came first!

            Now, once more:

            How did “early man” become bipedal when he no longer existed? The morphology of “early man’s” hand didn’t alter until AFTER he was said to have attained bipedal movement. In fact, “early man’s” feet are the same as before, making him a lumbering bipedal, unable to evade the faster quadrupedal prey that’s hunting him.

            Are you beginning to see what a confused and contradictory mess Macroevolution is?

          • Deanjay1961

            First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning ONCE WE BECAME BIPEDAL. That means, ‘AFTER we became bipedal’. That you didn’t get this even after it was pointed out and think it actually means the opposite certainly clarifies why you’re having difficulty with the concepts involved.
            Arguably, early man didn’t exist UNTIL he became bipedal. With his hands freed, he could use them for other things besides locomotion, so changes that helped him throw and grip objects were selected for: making us more dangerous prey in a group, able to discourage predators from a distance and strike them up close.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning ONCE WE BECAME BIPEDAL. That means, ‘AFTER we became bipedal’. That you didn’t get this even after it was pointed out and think it actually means the opposite certainly clarifies why you’re having difficulty with the concepts involved.”

            It means BEFORE!

            An example, clarifying your confusion:

            ‘First of all, my military background was an asset ONCE I became a police officer.’

            Get it?

          • Deanjay1961

            Sigh. ONCE you became a police officer, THEN your military background was an asset. Not BEFORE you became a police officer.

            once
            wəns/
            adverb
            adverb: once
            1.
            on one occasion or for one time only.
            “they deliver once a week”
            synonyms:on one occasion, one time, one single time More
            “I spoke to him only once”
            antonyms:twice, many times, often
            at all; on even one occasion (used for emphasis).
            adverb: if
            “he never once complained”
            synonyms:ever, at any time, on any occasion, at all, under any circumstances, on any account More
            “he did not once help”
            2.
            AT SOME TIME IN THE PAST, FORMERLY.
            “He had once been an Army officer”
            synonyms:formerly, previously, in the past, at one time, at one point, once upon a time, time was when, in days/times gone by, in times past, in the (good) old days, long ago;
            Get it?

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “ONCE you became a police officer, THEN your military background was an asset. Not BEFORE you became a police officer.”

            You reversed the sentence to fit your interpretation!

          • Deanjay1961

            I reversed it in an attempt to educate you, but you’re highly resistant.
            My military background was an asset ONCE I became a police officer.
            My military background was an asset BEFORE I became a police officer.
            My military background was an asset AFTER I became a police officer.
            Two of the above sentences beginning with ‘My’ mean the same thing. One of them means the opposite of the other two. You can do this.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “I reversed it in an attempt to educate you, but you’re highly resistant.”

            Reversing the sentence, reverses the meaning of the sentence!

            As I said, an example clarifying your confusion [and placing the word “once” in its proper physical location of the sentence, matching the location in your original sentence]:

            ‘First of all, my military background was an asset ONCE I became a police officer.’

            The subject already had a military background.

            Get it?

          • Deanjay1961

            It means exactly the same thing either way.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “It means exactly the same thing either way.”

            I’m not referring to reversing my sentence, but referring to reversing your sentence:

            “First of all, our longer thumbs and shorter fingers were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning once [meaning after] we became bipedal…”

            has a different meaning to

            “Once [meaning after] we became bipedal we had longer thumbs and shorter fingers [that] were ‘handy’ for throwing and bludgeoning.”

            Get it now?

          • Deanjay1961

            In both, bipedalism exists before the longer thumbs and shorter fingers. In both cases, the longer thumbs and shorter fingers are after the bipedalism. Ask you minister, I think you need fresh eyes.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            It took you three weeks to come up with that reply!

          • Deanjay1961

            Either that or it took me three weeks to notice you are still confused about what ‘once’ means and that even your own examples of what I said illustrate that the meaning remains the same if you switch the order, and then less than a minute to formulate my reply. I’m fairly busy. You’re welcome to think I’ve been working out how to respond to you the whole time, day and night, if it pleases you, though.

            But perhaps in those three weeks, you came to realize that ‘once’ means ‘after’, and the phrases mean the same in either order?

    • ClausewitzTheMunificent

      Too easy a slander, I’m afraid. Anything can be twisted for the purposes of an ideology, and this does not undermine the fundamental value of the theory. Science is at least conceptually, morally pure, when people choose to distort it, its their business and their fault. Moreover, you’re confusing the national socialist master race with the philosophical Ubermensch, while eugenics was based on an incorrect application of science and a facile assumption regarding the biological existence of “race”. Oh and don’t forget them lefties, you know Homus Sovieticus and all that.

    • Fred Scuttle

      Doesn’t make it false. Didn’t Martin Luther preach anti-Semitism?

      • The_Head

        in 16th century? yeah

      • Jyri Kokkonen

        Luther’s wrote his anti-Semitic texts towards the end of his career. At the time, eugenics and Uebermensch notions were still a few centuries in coming. Are you sure you know when Martin Luther lived?

    • Deanjay1961

      The Naturalistic Fallacy. You can’t get from an ‘is’ to an ‘ought’. It’s like claiming the theory of gravity justifies pusihing people off buildings.

      • justejudexultionis

        I know the fallacy. I didn’t say that the use of evolutionary theory for certain evil purposes makes the theory scientifically invalid. My point was that atheists cannot simply blame ‘religion’ (whatever that is) for most or all of the evil in the world when they do not acknowledge the often negative moral effects of their own particular set of beliefs.

        • Deanjay1961

          I personally don’t think religion accounts for most of the evil in the world. There is no ‘set of beliefs’ common to atheists, nor to theists, for that matter. Are you talking about atheists who are communists, humanists, anti-theists, bare-bones Buddhists, Christian atheists, naturalists, existentialists, objetivists, or other?

          • justejudexultionis

            Fair point, but there are a great many casual atheists around nowadays who use ‘religion’ (whatever that is) as an explanation for all the world’s problems without ever telling us what they mean by ‘religion’.

          • Deanjay1961

            I have to agree with you about that.

  • Shorne

    I share Dawkins’ feelings about the Anglican tradition but for me it is inextricably linked with the 1662 Prayer Book. I went to a village CofE primary school and sang in the church choir (It was that or the cubs – you got paid in the choir). There was then a gap of several decades of non-church attendance until a few years ago finding my nearest church had a 1662 Communion Service every Sunday morning at 8am I went. There were about a dozen people in the congregation, the morning sun was coming through the stained glass windows and the open door meant the birds could be heard singing outside. I found to my surprise the words of the service came back to me and I did not need to look at the prayer book, which was probably just as well as my eyes seemed a little blurred…can’t think why.

    • Eddie

      Yes, I find the same thing: as a former choir boy and having sung hymns every day at morning assembly aged 8-16, I find I know many hymns off by heart.
      As an atheist, I find it sad that it is seen as non-PC for all children at school to start the day with a hymn. I prefer the traditional besties (I do so hate those acoustic guitar and tambourine modern hymns! Or cod-gospel evangelical wailing and clapping).
      It’s a culture issue, not a faith one – anyone can enjoy a hymn or art depicting religious figures or a beautiful church without having any Faith. After all, PEOPLE created all that stuff, not God (unless you choose to make a leap of Faith and believe he acted via people), and often the Church was AGAINST a lot of vernacular art – songs which became hymns, Christmas carols based on folk tunes etc – before appropriating them, and then, in an act of typical churchy cheek, claiming they inventing all these artforms in the first place!

  • terence patrick hewett

    A chronic case of Nobel-itus.

  • david walters

    Yes, I understand how tradition becomes almost sacred to so many people. Although I am a Christian, I have little to do with traditions, even though I enjoy a few of the major ones, such as Christmas and Easter. I also have Jewish cousins. Most of them are Atheists, but still keep the Jewish feasts and cultures. I think Richard Dawkins like most older people, look back with fondness of past traditions, and would hate to find them lost or forbidden in our modern secular culture.

    • Fred Scuttle

      Secular culture includes both the religious and non-religious, so you need have no fears.

  • david walters

    Even though I have stated the case that I personally have found that it takes more faith to be an Atheist, than to be a Christian, the walk of faith is still a challenge. I remember meeting a man on the street who told me that no one has ever convinced him that God exists. I asked him if I could attempt to do so, to which he replied, “You can’t!” “Let me try,” I asked. “No! you wouldn’t be able to!” As he walked off he mumbled, “See! I told you that no one can convince me that God exists!” That’s what I call blind prejudice. I have an article that I wrote “God or Atheism.’ saying that the biggest problem is that most unbelievers, either wouldn’t read it, or not finished reading the whole article. For those who are interested here is the a link to it.

    http://www.davidwaltersministry.com/god-or-athesim

    • Fred Scuttle

      Most of us atheists have been there, done that and got the tee shirt as far as your nonsense is concerned. We have come to terms with the godless world we all inhabit and your primitive middle eastern tribal claptrap doesn’t cut the mustard any more. Time to face reality.

    • Eddie

      ‘Even though I have stated the case that I personally have found that it takes more faith to be an Atheist…’
      That is utterly absurd. All atheism means ia A-Theo – i.e. not believing in any gods because there is a lack of evidence – which there is.
      The old trite arguments that atheism is a faith are just plain silly. Atheism is NOT communism or socialism or even secularism – which could be seen as quasi-faiths.
      There is not ‘and then…’ with atheism.
      There are no gods because there is no evidence for them. There is just faith – the opposite of empirical truth. Didn’t the pope once decide looking for evidence for God was a sin too?
      You take a leap of faith to believe something for which there is no evidence. Fine. Believe in whatever you wish – but don’t call atheism a faith or say you need faith to believe there are no gods.
      I think someone need to buy you a set of Jesus and Mo books mate.

  • LogicGuru

    I’m with Dawkins on this. As a Christian, I can’t fathom why I should give a rat’s ass what other people believe. Even if I thought God did, other people’s beliefs would be no skin off my nose. For the same reason I don’t understand why atheists should care about people’s theological beliefs. Of course all intelligent, educated people, including “mainline” Christians like me, want to stop Evangelicals from promoting their crazy anti-science doctrines and conservative social agendas. Their theological beliefs however are of no importance.

    Metaphysics, including claims about the existence and nature of God, is inconsequential. Believe in one God, or many gods, or no gods; believe in Platonic forms, or sets, or possible worlds, or atomless gunk: it makes no difference. My concern is that the buildings and ceremonies survive: if they don’t, that is skin off of my nose–and a loss for us all.

    I’m NOT suggesting some detoxified faux-religion that promotes art and edification while denying metaphysics. I’m suggesting that “cultural Anglicanism,” as it is now, is metaphysics-optional. And this is what Anglicanism has historically been all about: “It is not our business to make windows into men’s souls.” Metaphysics is speculative, and inconsequential.

  • Andy M

    As much as I don’t agree with the obviously desperate attacks on him from religions folk, I don’t take Dawkins very seriously. He has frequently contradicted himself with various statements about religion, faith, Islam, etc. and I feel he sometimes opens himself up to be an easy target for attacks. The religious tend to be quite desperate for a foothold in their losing battle against rationality and atheism, so they take every opportunity they can to attack, so he needs to try a little harder to not make silly comments. For me he’s a fantastic scientist but not in the same league as Hitchens or Harris when it comes to debating religion.

    • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

      “The religious tend to be quite desperate for a foothold in their losing battle against rationality and atheism…”

      You spoke too soon! After 2,000 years the Holy Spirit has made known what was common, unspoken, knowledge by Roman subjects.

      See my comments and replies below…

      • Andy M

        No, there is no evidence for any deity and telling me something about something some other humans believed in the past and then passed on to you to believe does not constitute evidence of any kind. You are one of the more desperate religious folk I take it…

        • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

          If you had taken the time to read my comments, you’d see that Roman subjects believed nothing about Jesus, they knew who Jesus was thanks to the what would have been seen by Roman subjects as childishly forged Gospels’ narratives.

          • Andy M

            Muddying the waters will not help you. Believing in a man named Jesus is not the issue, believing in anything that there was no absolute, universally-accepted evidence for, is the problem here. You are relying on the idea that because these people believed something to be true it is impossible that they would believe it without seeing evidence for it. This is entirely wrong.

            Firstly, bringing the pre-Abrahamic religions in here, it is very likely they would believe just because of humans need to believe or at least have an explanation for their existence. They would rather believe in something than not know. Be it a sun god, Jesus or any other, people are eager to believe and will fill in gaps in their mind if evidence is lacking. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, because the vast majority of people could have not possibly been in the right place to all see evidence at one given time, this is mostly well-orchestrated spreading of word of mouth. So really this boils down to saying that the masses believed in what they were told by a select few who claimed to have witnessed something. Trust the words of a few humans… Easily done, but not a good idea. This is evidence? Oh dear…!

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “You are relying on the idea that because these people believed something to be true it is impossible that they would believe it without seeing evidence for it. This is entirely wrong.”

            That’s not my proof!

          • Andy M

            I find it amusing you still don’t acknowledge the pre-Abrahamic religions and what I have stated in regards to these. Sore spot?

            You’re completely wrong. Everything you are saying is quite astonishingly loopy. The only proof of something happening, is for a person to have concrete evidence provided to them that is universally-accepted as being correct. Nobody can know something is true without seeing evidence presented to them personally. Nobody can know something is true without being a witness to evidence, so Governors governing in one way or another means nothing here. You cannot prove, as the governors could not prove and anyone who believed or believes cannot prove, that Jesus performed miracles, that he is the son of a deity, or that any supernatural phenomenon occurred. There is no evidence and if someone at the time claimed to have seen something it is simply a claim, not evidence. There is no evidence that anyone KNEW anything to be true, because there is no evidence that was provided to them, other than scripture that says it was. That is not evidence, those are words on a page written by a human.

            Humans lie, for various reasons. Some lie for control, others lie for fun. Some lie to benefit themselves. If you applied your same unquestioning, illogical trust in human governors passing down fairy-tales like this to their subjects as you do in all other areas of life, your life would be a mess, you would be conned continuously, walked all over by others and you would simply be laughed at for being gullible.

            Moreover, you are making an assumption that the behaviour of society of that time is proof of something. This is your interpretation, it is not evidence.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “so Governors governing in one way or another means nothing here.”

            Of course it does, otherwise Jesus and disciples, and later the apostles who shouldn’t have made it to the stage of apostles(!), would have been executed. In fact, Roman governors are also refusing to arrest Paul and Peter when those two are spreading the Word outside the Levant! No Roman subject would accept this ludicrous narrative unless they already know it to be true.

            “Nobody can know something is true without seeing evidence presented to them personally.”

            We do see the evidence, Roman subjects accepting a narrative they know to be false. A syllogism that succinctly captures the essence of this subject and assists one to more easily organize one’s thoughts on the subject…

            (1) No civilization accepts a religion they know to be false; (2) Rome accepted a new religion that was known to be false; therefore (3) the new religion was known to be true!

            Just as we know that gravity exists due to the regularized movement of bodies in space, so too we know that Jesus was known to be a deity due to Roman subjects accepting a Gospels/Acts narratives that would have otherwise been known to be childish forgeries.

          • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

            I’ve read your long post below, and I still don’t see any evidence of your claims in any way whatsoever. Please cite sources outside of the bible in which these claims are upheld. You cannot cite the Bible as a source because it is the document which is making the claim.

            Also, I must note a few other things:

            1) The Koran also makes claims of a supernatural nature. It was written shortly after Muhammed’s death with stories collected from many who actually knew him and were there during his exploits. In some instances, we even have their names – unlike the New Testament. Does this make their claims true as well?

            2) Even if you provided evidence of some external sources to the Bible in which somebody actually verifies these claims, I would refer you to point number 1. It would, in no way, prove these claims to be true. We do have, for instance, the Iliad, in which the places are verified with archaeology, and yet we (and I assume you as well) dismiss the supernatural aspects of this story as mythology. Yet you apparently do not dismiss the supernatural claims of your own book in the same way because of (and here I prove that I’ve read your post) “revelation”. Well, I’m sorry, “revelation” isn’t valid for me. It’s not valid in a court of law or any scientific study. In fact, “revelation” is not valid in any court of skeptical inquiry in any way whatsoever. So even if others feel that the truth was “revealed” to them during the time of Jesus, and you could show that with, as of yet, undiscovered third party documents, it would still not prove that these claims are true any more than the “revelation” of Muhammed and his followers, or the “eyewitness” accounts from the Iliad.

            Christians apparently are either unable to grasp these basic concepts, or are simply unwilling to admit that they are involved in special pleading – just like any other religious fanatic in the world from any other religion. Your religion is no more special than others and is, frankly, just mythology until proven otherwise.

          • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

            “The Koran also makes claims of a supernatural nature.”

            You obviously mis-read my proof if you bring the Koran into the subject. Why not bring the classical Roman/Greek gods, or Egyptian gods while your’re at it?

            My proof has nothing to do with (1) claims; (2) the existence of Jesus; nor (3) the veracity of the Gospels.

            Now, with those thoughts in mind, re-read my comments on this thread in order to assess what my discovery is actually saying.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    Richard Dawkins interview: ‘I have a certain love for the Anglican tradition’. Mr. Dawkins you may be wrong. The gene is not selfish it just does what it’s told to do, a very complex feedback mechanism controlled by the junk of DNA. As far as God is concerned who in I believe I have attempted to give a kick up the back side for being lazy.

  • Dunstan Harding

    Dawkins may be right about life after death, but if he’s wrong I imagine the only acceptable form of heaven to consist of attending Cranmer’s dressed Matins in Canterbury cathedral with the strains of Byrd, Tallis, Gibbons, Stanford et al. With readings from the King James version of the bible.
    With the scratch of his pen Cranmer threw out the pope, popish superstition, and Romish idolatry. None of which is acceptable in this life or in heaven.

  • mdawd123

    Well! Do not tell fairy tales! http://luxmodels.zendesk.com/entries/66472074

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