Thursday, January 22, 2009

A recent email exchange with Larry, a Christian minister

Hello Larry: Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I apologize for the
tardiness of this response. Its been a busy day. The many positions in
your response, that if actually held by a person would indicate they
have been the victim of an improper education, draw attention like a
neon sign in the night. First, I'd like to assure you that I
personally like and respect you although I strongly disagree with you
in matters religious and philosophical. To speed my reply, I'll adopt
a wide spread practice of quoting your text within [bracket] symbols.

Larry wrote [God "became" a homo sapiens.]

This is impossible. The Law of Identity cannot be broken or refuted.
A=A. A does not equal not-A. Man cannot be GOD, nor can GOD be man.
Besides there is no valid and sound historical evidence the Christian
Messiah actually existed as a real historical person. See "The Jesus
Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the
Existence of an Historical Jesus" By Earl Doherty for a very competent
case against the historical Jesus.
http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Puzzle-Christianity-Challenging-Historical/dp/096892591X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231297083&sr=8-1

Consider that in ACTS 23:26-31 we find Claudius Lysias' letter to
Felix. This letter makes no sense in light of a historical Jesus, but
is readily explained if Paul believed Jesus to be and was always a
spiritual divinity that performed its salvific action only in the
spirit realm. Claudius' letter claims he was present in the council of
the Jews when Paul explained his case. Claudius found Paul to be only
in dispute with the Jews over a matter of their law. If Claudius had
heard Paul say something like, "Jesus was recently a living man who
the Jews tricked the Romans into condemning and crucifying, but GOD
raised him from the dead. And we know this because he was seen alive
by the Apostles", Claudius Lysias was Greek and likely an initiate of
the Elysian mysteries with no belief in a physical bodily
resurrection. Claudius, being Tribune and top cop in Jerusalem, would
have thought Paul to have assisted the criminal Jesus in escaping or
that Paul knew who helped Jesus get away. So instead of sending Paul
to Felix with a nice letter, Claudius would have tortured Paul to find
out were the Apostles were and would have sent out the troops to find
Jesus and the Apostles. So it would seem Acts indicates that Paul in
the council of the Jews said nothing about Jesus being a man in
Jerusalem recently crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead.
If however he had instead presented Jesus as a spirit world deity
similar to an ordinary god, Claudius Lysias would have acted as he is
recorded as doing in Acts 23. In Rome of the first century, it was a
capital crime to deify any person after their death other than the
Emperor. If Claudius had heard Paul doing so, he would have had to
have arrested Paul on charges of treason. But Claudius sent Paul on to
Felix, so Claudius heard Paul and the Jews disputing only about
matters of Jewish law and not about a physical historical Jesus. This
is very well explained if Paul believed Christ Jesus to be only a
spirit world deity. Paul's silence regarding details of the alleged
life of Jesus is strong evidence no such life actually existed as we
very strongly expect Paul to relate to his congregates in terms of his
Lords alleged life.

I also strongly recommend the works of Dr. Robert M. Price. Especially
his "Deconstructing Jesus"
http://www.amazon.com/Deconstructing-Jesus-Robert-M-Price/dp/1573927589/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231297393&sr=1-1

and "Incredible Shrinking Son of Man"
http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Shrinking-Son-Man-Tradition/dp/1591021219/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231297427&sr=1-2
Taken together these three books make a good case for an entirely
mythical Jesus.

Larry wrote [Christianity doesn't assert that mankind is "vile" nor
that God hates mankind. ]

In my prior missive I did not assert GOD hates mankind. However,
Christianity's doctrines of HELL and Original Sin along with the
notion that YAHWEH is morally perfect taken together indicate that
human beings have no intrinsic worth to GOD. YAHWEH condemns all
humans to HELL not because of any thing they do but because of what
they metaphysically are, (ie: sinners). Christianity asserts its GOD
is morally perfect in so doing and is goodness itself. Thus YAHWEH is
perfectly justified in sending all humanity to be tortured in HELL
forever. If YAHWEH were to exist and is thought to be sovereign in the
sense of complete free-will and to be Omnipotent, then whatever YAHWEH
wished to obtain would and would be good. If it is good to send all of
humanity to HELL as YAHWEH wills, then humanity must be awful and
devoid of worth otherwise YAHWEH would not be morally perfect or
goodness. Thus the implication of the afore mentioned Christian
doctrines do assert humans are horrible and lack any merit.

Larry wrote [ He loves us.]

Any attributable quality assigned to the Deity would necessarily have
to be viewed as a metaphysical primary. Love is a human emotion not a
metaphysical quality. It follows from the assignment of value to the
love object. Only beings that have needs can have values. The
hypothetical Deity in question is logically incapable of valuing
anything as it is allegedly an eternal, infinite, perfect,
indestructible, self-sufficient, self-contained, complete being which
lacks nothing. If it did exist, it would not act in the interest of a
goal. It would have no basis for goal-setting whatsoever. It will
always be what it is, nothing can change it, nothing can harm it,
nothing can threaten it, nothing can deprive it, nothing can be of any
value to it, for nothing can benefit it. It would be incapable of
valuing anything, and thus it would be incapable of love. If the
Christian GOD existed, it could do nothing for any action would
diminish its perfection and perturb its sufficiency.
If YAHWEH/Jesus existed it could not love, nor could it be love as
love is simply a human emotion that comes from assigning value to
something that is needed or desired.

Larry wrote [He has rescued us,]

Sir, you are invoking the Christian doctrine of the Atonement. There
are many problems with this dogma that many hundreds, if not
thousands, of very well educated Christian theologians and apologists
have wrestled with. It is beyond the scope of this reply to even
scratch the surface of the Atonement. However, I will point out an
obvious flaw in the case for the Atonement; it violates the principle
of final causation. An Omnipotent being by definition does not utilize
means to achieve an end. Whatsoever it wishes to obtain simply does.
No muss-no fuss. The entirety of the Christian Jesus story is a means
to an end, the salvation of mankind. If an Omnipotent Deity existed
and wished to save mankind via conferring immortality and remaking
the basal metaphysical essence of humanity, it would simply wish it,
and "poof"; it would be so. The allegations of Christianity are strong
evidence that such a Deity does not exist or if it does exist (in
contradiction of the Law of Identity) that it is not interested in our
world.

For more on the problems with the Atonement see "The Case Against
Christianity" by Michael Martin.
http://www.amazon.com/Case-Against-Christianity-Michael-Martin/dp/1566390818/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231299134&sr=1-1

and "Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity"
by John Loftus http://www.amazon.com/Why-Became-Atheist-Preacher-Christianity/dp/1591025923/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231309491&sr=8-1

[ We are a sinful people...] Within the context of Christianity, sin
is violation of the Will of YAHWEH. As neither YAHWEH nor its will
exists, there can be no such thing as sin. However, please open your
Bible and turn to Numbers chapter 31:1-18. If a person murders and
commits genocide in the name of YAHWEH, the Christian GOD, she is
good. Now turn to Numbers Chapter 25:1-9. Here if a person worships
the divine essence by honoring the BAAL (or a god other than YAHWEH),
he is to be killed, and the leaders of the people were executed as
human sacrifices to the Christian GOD. In the Christian Bible, murder,
genocide, rape, pillaging, slavery, and human sacrifices are the will
of the Christian GOD. Also see 1 Samual 15:1-3. The Christian GOD is
a monster. Thus sin has nothing to do with right or wrong and
everything to do with the will of the alleged Christian GOD. It should
be noted that our ability to honestly question the goodness of YAHWEH
is proof beyond a doubt that YAHWEH is not goodness and consequently
not GOD.

Larry wrote: [ you owe it to us Christians not to distort what we teach...]

I do not distort what the Bible teaches. Perhaps you distort the
teaching of your sacred stories. I cannot say as I have not read your
stuff except for your LRC essay and this response.

Larry Wrote [Your citation of "law" is itself an assertion of the divine.]

Logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality arise as axiomatic facts
of material existence. Last year I wrote an essay on this subject. It
is available at
http://robertbumbalough.blogspot.com/2008/08/logic-arises-from-material-existence.html

Larry wrote [ every creature must have a creator]

Divine creation is impossible as it requires cause and effect or
causation. But causation is the Law of Identity in action. Causes
produce effects because of the basal metaphysical material essence of
the cause and that which is acted upon to produce effect. To say
creation occurred is to say causation was operative before the Law of
Identity was extant. This is incoherent by virtue of
self-contradiction, and therefore divine creation is clearly
impossible. Additionally, I composed a syllogistic argument showing
creation is impossible based on the writing of Ayn Rand. Ir follows.

1. To believe that a theistic creator deity exists, the believer must
imagine their deity was in some timeless fashion akin to "before"
existence alone in a timeless, non-spatial, void, without matter,
energy, location, dimensions, fields, concepts, knowledge, symbols,
perceptions, physical natural law, logic, or referents. And that it
then wished existence to instantiate.

2. Consciousness is an axiomatic irreducible primary process that at
the most common denominative rung on the ladder of complexity consists
of awareness of existence.

3. Consciousness of consciousness necessarily requires primary
consciousness to first obtain as awareness of existence.

4. Prior to existence there could not have been anything to be aware of.

5. Without anything to be aware of, there could not have been any awareness.

6. Without awareness there could not have been any consciousness.

7. From 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 there could not have been a primordial
consciousness prior to existence.

8. Creator gods are defined as primordial consciousness.

9. From 7 and 8 Creator gods cannot exist.

For further reading on cause and effect see "CAUSATION AND THE LOGICAL
IMPOSSIBILITY OF A DIVINE CAUSE" By Quentin Smith at
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/causation.html

But it should be noted that to disprove the very ancient (and true)
argument against the Abrahamic theistic GOD I mentioned in the prior
missive, the Law of Identity has to be shown to be false. I failed to
find anything in your reply that directly addressed this. To restate
my prior argument, I submit the following.

1.To be GOD, YAHWEH must be an ontological person that is infinite in scope.

2.To be an ontological person is to have a specific identity.

3.To have a specific identity is to necessarily be finite.

4.YAHWEH has a specific identity.

5.YAHWEH therefore is necessarily finite and cannot be infinite.

6.By modus tollens from 1 and 5, YAHWEH cannot be GOD as it cannot
both be infinite and finite.

To refute this argument the Law of Identity must be shown false. If
someone were to be successful in showing the Law of Identity false,
the implication then would be that there is no material existence for
material existence requires the Law of Identity. If what we understand
to be the world around us does not actually exist, then it is a
fantasy of some sort as are we. Then all the evil in the universe is
directly attributable to the source of the fantasy. If that were
YAHWEH, then it would be directly responsible for all the suffering,
pain, misery, death, affliction, natural disasters, predator-prey and
parasite-host relationships. The infliction of suffering for sheer
enjoyment of witnessing sentient beings in misery qualifies as EVIL.
If the Law of Identity is false, and if YAHWEH is responsible for what
we think of as reality, then it is malevolently EVIL. And all who
worship YAHWEH are duped and deceived.

Larry Wrote [... every great mind until very recently believed in a
supernatural Deity or deities...]

Faith is the opposite of reason and constitutes the abrogation of
rationality. Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the
material provided by our senses. It is how we integrate our
perceptions by forming abstractions or conceptions. Reason raises our
knowledge from the perceptual level to the conceptual level. The
method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the
art of non-contradictory identification. Reason is our only means of
grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is derived from
reality by means of sensory perception or the extension of the senses
through instrumentation. The acceptance by faith of mythical imaginary
beings is the rejection of reason and means that humanity should act
regardless of or in contradiction to the facts of reality. That many
smart people make the mistake of having faith is no evidence the
fantasies they embrace are reality. I had a few thoughts on that topic
posted to the blog.
http://robertbumbalough.blogspot.com/2009/01/faith-vs-reason.html

Larry wrote [...These people were far brighter than you and I put together.]

Yes. Christian scholars have a long history of defending their faith
by denying reality often in very sophisticated and subtle ways. In
"The Non-Existence of God" Nicholas Everitt does are splendid job of
showing up many of the classic Christian defenses for the shams and
hoaxes they are. See
http://www.amazon.com/The-Non-Existence-of-God/dp/B000OI16GU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231305003&sr=8-2

Larry wrote [...but those "laws" do not govern the person holding the brush.]
Larry your making a category mistake here. To be transcendent is to
not be in space or time that is to not be in reality. Unless the agent
exerting influence is in reality, it cannot exert influence. All that
exists is existence. To infer the encapsulation of existence by
employing a rather clever metaphor, " but those "laws" do not govern
the person holding the brush", is to say there is causality without
cause and effect or that there is Identity without Identity. This
defies reason and is irrational in the sense that the inference is
repugnant to reason.

Larry wrote [ God doesn't hate mankind...] Your right and your wrong.
Your wrong in that GOD is a metaphysical descriptor not a name or a
title. To be GOD the entity must exert all its powers all the time
without fail. Your right in that none of its powers includes the
capacity to hate. The argument I made above regarding love also
applies to hate. The Abrahamic Deity is incapable of any emotion or
thought or will. It however is alleged to have these attributes. Aside
from this being yet another incompatible property rendering the notion
of GOD incoherent and thus impossible, my previous argument regarding
the doctrines of HELL and Original Sin still stand. Christianity
asserts humanity is worthless and contemptible. The Christian GOD
cannot hate any more than it can think or hear prayers.

Larry wrote [I think you hate God.] Of course I hate GOD. I, hate all
gods and all religions just as I hate all lies and liars. All
religions are vile and disgusting to me. They are based on lies and
fraud and are used to control the minds of human beings. Reason
demands all people be free. They cannot be free if they are deluded.
As Denis Diderot wrote: "Man will never be free until the last king
is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

Larry wrote [He came to earth to make peace between mankind and God -
by taking the form of Jesus Christ,]

Again the inference to the Atonement is troublesome for the Christian
religion. The notion of the Atonement is found in Torah's Paschal Lamb
sacrifice ordinances. The following is an essay I wrote in an effort
to help me understand this issue.

*******************************
The Author of Acts thought the Torah Law came from an angel. In Acts
7:37-38(RSV) Stephen's speech reads in part: "This is the Moses ....
This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the
angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he
received living oracles to give to us. "

The Apostle Paul thought that the Torah Law came from angels. In Gal
3:19 (RSV) "Why then the law? ... and it was ordained by angels
through an intermediary." , Paul directly stated this.

The author of Hebrews thought the same. When discussing the Torah Law
in Hebrews 2:2 (RSV),
"For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;",
he ascribes the Torah to angels.

This is how the Paulian Christians were able to get around the
assertions of the earlier Jewish Christians that the Torah Laws had to
be obeyed. Paul's special pleadings would have carried no
argumentative weight if his opponents could appeal to the words of the
divine Yahweh. If there were no word's of the divine Yahweh in the
Torah Laws, then Paul's contentions were as good as those of the
Jewish Christians in the James, Mandean, Nasoraean, and Ebonite cults.
The problem with this view is that it requires the Paulian Christian
to steal the concept of the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifices that
under gird the doctrine of the Atonement. If the Torah Laws found at
Exodus 12:43-50 and Numbers 9:9-14 were given by angels, then they
were never in actual effect by any god. The Paulist needs to assert
the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifices were in effect to vivify the
doctrine of Atonement, but she also needs to deny validity of the
Torah Law in order to makes Paul's special pleading to the doctrine of
Grace seem valid. The early Catholics understood this and
consequently they wrote the doctrine that angels delivered the Torah
into the mouth of Stephen to facilitate Hellenization of Christianity.

If Yahweh actually exists and is responsible for the Torah law,
Christianity is false, and the way to relate to deity is via Judaism.
An interesting pair of Biblical contradictions falsifies
Christianity, and the archeological record falsifies Judaism. A
contradiction entailed between the alleged revelations of Christianity
and Judaism is the formers glorification and dependence upon symbolic
consumption of blood offered in sacrifice. 1 Cor. 11:23-25 relates "
23: For I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took
bread, 24: and having given thanks broke [it], and said, This is my
body, which [is] for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25: In like
manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, This cup is the new
covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye shall drink [it], in
remembrance of me. "

Judaism's alleged revelation in Lev 7:22-27 states "22: And Jehovah
spoke to Moses, saying, .... 26: And no blood shall ye eat in any of
your dwellings, whether it be of fowl or of cattle. 27: Whatever soul
it be that eateth any manner of blood, that soul shall be cut off from
his peoples."

Jesus is identified as Yahweh in the following passages. John 1:1,
John 1:14, John 8:58, John 10:30-31, John 10:38-39, John 14:9, John
20:28, Acts 20:28, Col 1:16, Col 2:9, 1 Tim 3:16, Titus 2;13, Phil
2:6, Heb 1:8, Rev 1;17, and Rev 22:13.

The Bible assures the reader that Yahweh cannot lie as expounded in
the following passages. Num 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29, 2 Sam 7:28, Titus 1:2,
Heb 6:18.

The Bible also relates that the Law of Moses is a perpetual Covenant
that cannot be rescinded ever. Gen 17:19, Ex 12:14, 17, 24, Lev
23:14,21,31, Deut 4:8-9, 7:9, 11:26-28,1 Chron 16:15, PS 111:7-8,
Psalm 119:151-2, 160, Mal 4:4, Matt 5:18-19, Luke 16:17.

If Yahweh exists, then either Judaism is a true revelation or it
isn't. If Moses got a true and correct revelation, then that
revelation is incompatible with and contrary to Christianity, and
Jesus and Paul were wrong, self-deluded, and Jesus cannot be equal to
Yahweh. On the other hand if Moses was a deceiver or a myth, then
Judaism is a fictional religious fairy tale, and Jesus and Paul were
incorrect, self-deluded, and Jesus cannot be Yahweh because
Christianity presupposes Judaism to be a true revelation. Either way
Christianity is false, and Jesus is not Yahweh.

If Paul had the truth and his Law of Moses as schoolmaster argument
(Gal. 3:24) was true, then either Yahweh lied to Moses or the Bible's
assertion that Jesus equals Yahweh is false. Either way the Passover
Paschal Lamb sacrifices, that under gird the doctrine of the
Atonement, found at Exodus 12:43-50 and Numbers 9:9-14 would be
invalid and the entire pretext of Christianity would evaporate.
Additionally, if Yahweh is a liar, then it is not most worthy of
worship, and . If Yahweh is not most worthy of worship, then it cannot
be God and the Christian God must be something else. If the Bible's
assertion that Jesus equals Yahweh is false, then Christianity's
dependence upon a truthful historical Judaism is also a lie and the
use of Old Testament proof texts to support Christian claims is
fallacious and there could not then be Christ as Jewish Messiah.

Both Moses and Paul cannot be correct, but both can be wrong. If
Moses, the Exodus, the Conquest of Canaan, the
Davidic-Solomon-Reboaham unified empire are myths cooked up by the
eighth century BCE Judean Yahweh cultists in response to the
prosperity of the Omri-Ahab dynasty of the northern Israel kingdom and
territorial encroachments of the Assyrian empire, then the Mosaic Law
and the Torah are human fabrications. And Jesus, the Jews, and Paul
were wrong and self-deluded. Christianity presupposes and requires
Judaism to be a true revelation from Yahweh, but if the Bible
minimalists are correct, as they appear to be, then Judaism is just
another mythological religious fairytale, and the New Testament's
equivocation of Jesus and Yahweh is a lie, and there was never a first
Passover. Without a first Passover as per the story in Exodus 12,
there is no basis for the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifice laws. This
would be fatal for Judaism and Christianity. This case is supported
by the statement of the alleged prophet Jeremiah at Jer 8:8 "How can
you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? But
behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made {it} into a lie.:
*******************************

My brief candle burns low. Thank you for your reply and taking time to
read my scribblings. I sometimes hang out at John Loftus' blog

http://www.debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com

John is a very smart and well educated Christian apologist who
deconverted from Christianity after thoughtful consideration of the
religion's claims and the facts of modern science that contradict
them. Perhaps if you have time and wish to engage in online discussion
of these important issues you may drop by sometime.

Best Regards and Wishes for Continued Success

Robert Bumbalough

1 comment:

Daniel GodIsTime said...

What a great blog entry! I love the details. Did he answer you back? Did you post anymore from him?

In Humanity,
Daniel

P.S. Thanks for the link to David Kelly's book!!