John Loftus, Quitter

Our good friend, John Loftus, has declared that since he had made no head way in his war on Christianity, he is packing it in. Bully for him. Of course, he says that he is just tired of kicking a dead horse, although it seems that atheism is the dead horse.

You know, I don’t mind people going against the flow – as a matter of fact, I suggest it – but when no one listens to you, you may wish to reconsider your position. I mean, if you are only attracting people like you, then you may in fact be wrong.

Now, for me, I’ve seen Christianity grow, and count the New Atheists (even those whom, um, are tag alongs) as sort of like prophetic figures who are pushing us to greater heights.

People like John have come and gone for a very, very long time and yet Christianity is still here. So, John, we’ll wait for you to come back around to the faith. Good luck. I hope that if he comes back this way again, his arguments are better. They were the same, tired, stuff.

Oh well… You can read his poor, poor pitiful me post here:

Debunking Christianity: Okay, The Time Has Come, I’m Done.

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74 Replies to “John Loftus, Quitter”

  1. It has regrettable he has achieved no advancement in knowledge in all this time. “I have no more desire to engage Christians. They are deluded, all of them.” I’m grieved he has such mistaken unevolved convictions. Bursting with over confident authority, Carrier defines ‘delusion’. Ironically – he defines himself. The three criteria of delusion, claims Carrier (on a ‘Skepticon’ youtube) are 1. certainty (held with absolute conviction), 2. incorrigibilty (not changeable by compelling counter argument or proof to the contrary), and impossibility or falsity of content. Promoting himself and a book he contributed to, The Christian Delusion, edited by Loftus, he expresses hope it will help people “evangelise for atheism”. Isn’t that extraordinary? I think many atheists are deluded about the evolution of ideas, Christian believers and contemporary faith. They’re also incompetent pseudo historians of religion due to lack of training, lack of critical skills and extreme bias. Many atheists have left fundamentalist Christianity. They once held convictions without evidence or argument and swopped them for different convictions also held without evidence or argument. They’re batting for the other side as NT Wrong once said to me. “They are deluded”: in many ways it’s an indication of psychological projection.

    1. I do however wish him well and hope he opens his eyes and broadens his horizons. And perhaps he will find inspiration from and find his soul.

        1. As my friend said to me – or at least wrote on the front page of a present he gave to me a long time ago, in an effort to pretend he wasn’t NT Wrong, ‘It’s far far far better to be wrong than boring.’ Which proved he was Wrong but not wrong.

    2. Hi Steph, I think you and Joel sound wound up over Loftus. I suspect that you are each on your own “missions.” I wonder how you each understand the Bible and Jesus and how much of that understanding has developed over your lifetimes and may be developing still? Are you more lovers of Christian “culture” as you define it, or lovers of Jesus in a “personal savior” sense?

      Speaking of which have either of you read this chapter on “the personal savior?’ I found it quite interesting.

      How much of life, your lives each day and with others, would you say revolves around Jesus and Christianity? And can either of you imagine someone who doesn’t understand matters your way and questions the relevancy of relying on “Messiah’s,” “Lord’s,” a personal deity that demands bent knee, bowed head, rational assent, a belief in miracles, or a belief that one is reading the most inspired collection of writings? Are there matters that you and Joel disagree about?

      Perhaps I don’t understand exactly what it is that you are both upset about at the moment, or how exactly your views of Christianity are so far from John’s purely secularistic ideas of life. If you don’t like John the person fine. But I hope you also don’t project that emotional revulsion onto me simply for speaking as I did. below or in this comment. I also admit that John is a feisty individual. There have been popes, Reformers, saints and sinners, that have been feisty individuals as well. J.P. Holding and Frank Walton are feisty. We all have no doubt received feisty comments concerning our beliefs and/or our persons on the internet. And John and I have not always seen eye to eye either.

      1. Take a look at the size of your comment and then get back to me on who is ‘wound up’. Hilarity smilarity. Such self pity is regrettably comical don’t you think? NO? Shame.

  2. dunno about deluded, but what about the definition of insanity?

    “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

    At least we dont _expect_ atheists to do/say/believe differently, thus proving our sanity.

    1. With typical atheist modesty Loftus whimpers “If what I have written isn’t good enough then nothing is good enough for some Christians.” Extraordinarily over confident opinion of his ability. It is not only Christians who find his incompetence transparent. and characteristic of his incompetence. “How many times do I need to kick the dead horse of Christianity?” Is that an indication of delusion? He is kicking something that doesn’t exist.

      He’s handing his bloggle over to a few ‘qualified’ people? What qualifies as ‘qualified’? I know of no atheist bashers of ‘Christianity’ who are qualified appropriately and if they were they wouldn’t be so stupid as to bash ‘Christianity’.

      He is a lost soul still focused on delusion albeit another delusion.

      On insanity ask Richard Carrier. He throws it around like confetti although I bet he’s not read much Freud on psychological projection. To be accused of insanity by Dick Carrier is reassurance of one’s sanity especially as he can be quoted saying “I don’t think there’s a problem with being a dick” on that skepticon youtube circus.

    1. Exegesis is only for the divine, John. Surely, you aren’t suggesting that you are divine? Or, are you now suggesting that you were, um, ‘picking’ with everyone?

      Couldn’t stand all the ‘who?’ comments, could you?

      1. Joel,

        Could you be more specific about what you said, “I’ve seen Christianity grow,” and about how it is moving toward new heights?

        Christianity appears to be growing more secular, malleable and individualistic in the western civilized world (the individualistic “different viewpoints” approach, even among Evangelicals, cafeteria inerrancy, build your own inerrant interpretations of the Bible or even non-inerrant interpretations of the Bible, cafeteria Christianity as a whole, cultural Christianity).

        And it’s hardly surprising that Christianity is growing in those parts of the world with large birth rates, in the Southern hemisphere especially. Islam still has pretty strong birth rates as well, and is hence “growing too,” and in Europe the former bastion of the Christian west. Will Islam finally take Europe? Will Catholicism take North America? Will Pentecostalism take Africa and South America?

        Christianity can be growing and also growing more superstitious in other parts of the world where an emphasis on knowledge of the Bible is stressed.

        Chinese christian churches are growing like wildfire in the countryside, but also arising with them are end time sectarian churches preaching the world’s end, and vying for converts with each other.

        Churches in Africa are growing and also hating witches and gays and spreading the most incredible urban myths / miracle tales.

        How do you feel about modern day miracle tales? They can be found in other religions too. But it seems a mixed bag, mixed signals from the deity. Also confusing is the history of mysticism, which is both heartening and confusing. In such a history is Christian mysticism the only true one? Same with NDEs and their variety.

        I also suspect that if grand miracles were happening today surely God would allow or even wish that the ubiquitous device the cell phone might capture images of them, since every smudge in the sky or on a lens is being posted on the web as evidence of UFOs or ghosts these days.

        And if you take the bible as an utterly true historical record of miracles (I suspect you do not, so many you’ll agree with this), why is God so shy these days compared with miracles in the past like flooding the earth, raining fire from heaven, confusing tongues, a chariot of fire ride to heaven, parting a sea, and a river, and all the technicolor miracles of Moses / plagues of Egypt? Surely you agree that neither John nor I nor you are to be damned for simply asking where’s the beef? (I have done some questioning of NT miracle as well, but that’s another story.)

    2. John – surely you don’t think all Christians are deluded. Don’t you know Dawkins is wrong and doesn’t have a clue about the evolution of religion and ideas? Or at least he pretends not to. Do you perhaps really mean that you think fundamentalists are deluded? I can empathise with that, although it would be helpful if you defined your attacks more specifically. The majority of fundamentalists are undereducated, politically manipulated and socially constructed. Most Christians I know are agnostic as most honest atheists I know are too. A Methodist minister friend here in England, publically (on BBC Radio) declares himself to be Christian by faith and agnostic by definition. I don’t know any Christians who read the bible literally or believe Genesis is more than ancient story telling exploring meaning of existence. A Catholic priest friend said to me ‘the idea of the existence or not of ‘god’ ideas is irrelevant in intelligent converesation.’ And then there is the Secular Christianity, coined by NZ theologian Lloyd Geering. Christianity without ‘God’. God as metaphor. There are many varieties of Christian belief which have evolved since the Englightenment and beliefs do not contradict the evidence of science. I really do believe alot of atheists are completely deluded about the reality of religion in the modern world. Do you agree?

      I’ve never been a believer or believed in a biblical idea of God. I’ve always been interested in history and I love religious ideas. I grew up in a secular environment surrounded by believers and others like me. I’m not really ‘agnostic’ because that’s one thing and might imply I’m agnostic about the God of the Bible. I’m not really agnostic because I change my mind about so many things every day and learn a little more and the more I learn, the more I learn I don’t know and need to learn more. I think it’s a shame that you attack all Christians so aggressively.

        1. Joel, Steph, I suspect that you’re reacting to people who want to lump all “Christians/Christianities” together and reject all of them. I agree there’s people like that. I also think we agree there’s a spectrum of beliefs and believers. And I applaud your own intellectual movements away from the conservative side of the spectrum, and your willingness to address and engage with conservative Christians and their arguments.

          I’ve also known John Loftus from before his first book was published by Prometheus, and even before that I was the one who suggested he join something called Theology Web and debate some of the conservative Christians there. He had the pleasure of debating J. P. Holding and others who later created blogs to mock him. Paul Manata even created an anonymous character to mock John, called The Discomfiter.

          John told them that their mockery increased his willingness to continue writing, which it did. He soon began blogging regularly at Debunking Christianity as well as had his first manuscript accepted by Prometheus Books.

          I think John’s part of the spectrum I mentioned above, and that moderate-liberal Christians should be aware and perhaps happy that there’s not only people on their right but also people on their left. like John, who take more heat than they do from conservatives, so that such moderates-liberals can also point out to their conservative brethren “at least I’m not John Loftus.” *smile* Personally, I’m looking forward to reading John’s debate book with Randal Rauser that should be out fairly soon.

          As for John leaving his hectic blogging and writing days behind, everyone does. And yes, Christianity remains, or rather, Christianities remain, and continue to multiply by dividing, such that most conservatives, moderates, progressives and liberals don’t appear to even recognize just how individualistic religious opinions have become. How wide the spectrum of both theological and scholarly opinion has grown as well. If John is his own pope, so have seemingly many Christians also become their own popes. According to poles people are switching churches far more often, mixed religious marriages occur more frequently, there’s a differing “viewpoints” series of books being published by three Evangelical and moderate Christian publishers. Even varieties of opinion concerning biblical scholarship have reached the popular reader via the works of Bart Ehman, or White (Scripting Jesus), or even via some of the chapters in Loftus’ books. It was only in 2010 when Evangelicals began studying Genesis 1 in light of ancient Near Eastern scholarship, and when some of them also began rejecting not only creationism but also I.D., and together they formed the BIOLOGOS website, and now Evangelicals are challenging the historicity of Adam and Eve. For Loftus (as well as yourselves) to come along at such a time an place in U.S. Evangelical history is surely no mere coincidence.

          1. Ed, as I’ve said publicly before, I have no problem with John – I think that every voice helps – however, he is a bit off with his current track. Further, his ‘one man crusade’ is… well….

          2. Correction, I was speaking about 2010 as being the founding of BIOLOGOS. But I believe 2010 was also around when books by Enns, Sparks, as well as writings by Walton began to enter the Evangelical marketplace of ideas and started creating quite a stir concerning questions of inerrancy and also the meaning of Genesis 1. True there was Conrad Hyers, The Meaning of Genesis, and also some earlier statements by B.B. Warfield (who was never very comfortable with evolution, and even less so with an non-historical Adam and Eve), but as a whole, deepset divisions within conservative-moderate Evangelicalism over the meaning of Genesis 1 seem to have ripened just this past decade, even making it to a cover story in Christianity Today over the historical Adam question. And I think we’re both happy that regardless of Loftus leaving, such questions are bubbling up more even among conservative Evangelicals.

          3. “I suspect that you’re reacting to people who want to lump all “Christians/Christianities” together and reject all of them” My you’re onto it – smart lad. That’s pretty much what I wrote. Congratulations for reading my first sentence. But then you spoil it all by drifting into biographical irrelevant waffle. Refuting fundamentalism is about the only thing hard core atheists are good at because it reflects their own past life experience, and they are so committed to doing it.

          4. Ed,
            You make less sense than loftus, and that’s not saying much.

            Did you know that theology web split from another site? I doubt it. I was a founding member of both..

            Did you also know that people have had different views of creation since forever, and the issue around evolution only really occurred for political reasons (not theological) in the 1950’s? I doubt it. Enns et al. are only clarifying what we’ve known for a long time.

            Did you know that there is only one Christianity, and the only truly important thing to believe in is the work of Christ (ie his death and resurrection for redemption of creation)? Probably not, like all people uneducated in the faith. In EVERY form of belief, whether it is a scientific theory or some form of metaphysical understanding or what ever, there is a wide range of opinion. But usually there is one core belief or “truth” that it revolves around. You can not, for example, call yourself an evolutionist if you do not believe things actually evolve. You can call yourself an evolutionist and understand the process slightly differently to another.

            Your arguments are void of any substantive content, and are the same old tripe which is regurgitated over and over.. and like a leaky sieve, will never hold water no matter how you try and hold it.
            You know.. after several thousand years, the greatest and the least thinkers of all time have failed to disprove that there was a Jesus of Nazareth, who died on a Cross outside Jerusalem as “the King of the Jews” – who then rose from the dead 3 days later. That is pretty much historical fact. *shrug* That is what Christianity is based on, believing that fact.

            This is why Loftus is deluded, and so are his followers.

  3. You guys crack me up. John posts about being done engaging Christians because of their inability to use even the most basic of reasoning, and you conclude that he is defeated due to the quality of your arguments. I would say you are as good at discerning someone else’s blog post as you are the nature of reality.

    Furthermore, before you insult me as you have John please remember that you have already lost.

    If Christianity were in fact true, there would be no reason to think people like you, who trade insult for insult, and even go out of their way to insult John, are in fact sanctified by the wizardry of some holy spirit.

    1. Say, since you know so much about me, JKX, tell me what I’m thinking now?

      But, before you guess, I would suggest that you reexamine my post and look at what you concluded and then reexamine who is without reason.

          1. Anthony, there is no difference. Both of you believe in the same gods. Both of you act the same. Both of you have the same theology.

    2. Too funny is right. The joke’s on these jokers. Do they learn this sort of smug arrogance at church? How lovely. If they can’t even parse John’s post, how can any of them be trusted to parse the very words of god. No wonder there are 35,000 denominations…

      If you could see what it’s like from this side of the wall, you’d understand why John, and the rest of us, have such derision for your self-deluding BS. That we’ve deluded ourselves in the past, and can now see outside the bubble, should give you pause. That it doesn’t is testament to the depth of the delusion.

      I don’t blame John, but I still think there’s work to do. Actually, there is clearly much work to do, from the commentary on this site. As long as there are people like you using fairy tales to ignore the reality of the impermanent world we live in, we have to keep working until your nonsense is moved from the religion to the mythology shelf where it belongs.

      1. hmm.. pot, kettle, black. Since you can not “parse” Joel’s post correctly, your problem isnt really a problem, just like there being 35000 denominations. Even if there were, it would be irrelevant.

        As for being deluded in the past, well.. since you say that.. we wonder, what has changed? Chances are nothing. If one can be deluded into believing one thing, chances are they can be deluded into believing something else. It hardly helps your case..

      2. “these jokers” to whom are you referring? You have the same fault as many other people in lumping 35,000 denominations into one group. You aren’t even interested in what people believe or think. You have your own set of convictions and appear to pour hatred on anything called ‘Christianity’. By the way I don’t go to church and I’m not a Christian either. I don’t ‘blame’ John for leaving. Not at all. On the contrary I congratulate him and hope he pursues a more positive humanistic path in life. I am only astonished at his lack of advancement in learning and I am astonished at his apparent inability to recognise the diversity of humanity and complexity of history and reality of the evolution of ideas. I hope he proves otherwise by being clearer about who he is really including in his attack on ‘Christians’ if he chooses to respond to my comments. I am astonished that you defend him so uncritically without even acknowledging the specific complaint. Instead you just perpetuate the same mistake: ‘Christians’.

    3. “If Christianity were in fact true”. I wonder what you think you mean by that. And the label ‘Christians’: – you make the same mistake as John seems to be assuming all Christians think the Bible teaches literal truth and is the inerrant word of ‘God’ or some such ridiculous thing assumed by so many incompetent pre enlightenment atheists (not that atheism existed before the evolution of science other than as a label for heretics and ‘wrong’ believers) who cannot distinguish the complexities of reality or comprehend the evolution and history of ideas.

  4. The only things more dull than Chistian apologists are atheist apologist. They all take themselves and their convictions so super seriousmously.

    1. and that’s atheist apologists with an ess – plural – as regrettably there is more than one atheist apologist…. 😉

      1. Steph (and Joel),

        I don’t identify with the term “atheist,” though I admit I have an atheistic side as well as a mystical sort of theistic side that ebb and flow. I also think everyone has their own reality tunnel via which they understand things based on their own experiences, education. I suspect from what I read above that you’re coming at things from the point of view of someone like Karen Armstrong and her writings on mythology and also the Great Transformation, the Axial Era. There have been some fascinating exchanges between her and some of her reviewers to the left and right of where she is at. Everyone’s having such exchanges these days it seems.

        I’ve also read my share of mystics, from Eckhart to Dom Bede Griffiths to William Johnson (the Inner Eye of Love among others), lots of Alan Watts (who passed from being an Anglican seminarian to a student of Eastern religions). Studying mystical religious experience, both Christian and non-Christian was fascinating for me, and helped break me free of fears of “leaving” the conservative Christian fold to which I once belonged. Though not everyone leaves a religious fold the same way, not ends up in the same place afterwards. I don’t know what you have read of John other than his blog, or what he may have said to you, so I don’t know exactly what you’re reacting to. Same with Joel.

        If I don’t seem to “get to the point” or start calling either of you names or start emoting my feelings toward you, such as “regret” or “tired stuff” or “pitiful” or other terms that you or Joel prefer in lieu of discourse, forgive me. All discussion is simply discussion in my book, with little need for that type of adornment.

        I also suspect that all conscious decisions as to how we react to other people are up to us (barring physiological stress), and that retaliating “in kind” to anyone whose views you disagree with, probably does as little for them as it does for you.

        I may also have read more of John’s published writings than either of you, and calling him a “quitter” after having published and edited that many books, and after having risen in the biblioblogger rankings in so short a time, and generalizing that all of his arguments are “tired stuff,” seems like you haven’t read his arguments, especially the ones based on the conclusions of the well known biblical scholars in his bibliography of his re-edited autobiography, or even in various chapters of his other books that he edited. There is certainly some knowledge and arguments in those books that neither of you should have much trouble acknowledging as worthwhile and even challenging. If there is some mystery to your non-atheistic views, then there must also remain questions, plenty of them.

  5. “you make the same mistake as John seems to be assuming all Christians think the Bible teaches literal truth and is the inerrant word of ‘God’ or some such ridiculous thing assumed by so many incompetent pre enlightenment atheists”

    People like you stopped believing in the Bible being literal when science proved that those events did not occur. Funny how much you have to customize the Bible and its teachings in order to still believe in it. Nothing in the Bible points to, for example, Genesis not being literal; you just interpret to be not literal because obviously you find it to be far fetched. Why would god give us stories like Adam and Eve, or Noah’s flood if it never occurred? Was he trying to teach us lessons through made up stories? Mind you once again that people believed these stories to be literal until about 300 years or so ago. What we find is the evolution of Christianity from literal to mere symbolism as we gain better understanding of our universe.

    1. JK,

      You obviously have no clue about either Christian or Jewish interpretation traditions. Please see my comments to Anthony, as they describe you as well.

      1. How do you know i have no clue? Do you know me? What am I thinking now? Obviously there are many interpretations but what you don’t understand was those were of minorities who were also seen as heretics. No wonder so many people do not believe in your god, its because he gave his message and people have to play detective to figure it out. People with your mindset distort religion, for example, there are denominations that do not believe in hell, there are denominations that do not believe in the miracles of the Bible because they too believe that the Bible is not the word of god. What’s next? Are you going to say that early Jewish and Christians interpretations did not believe in a firmament? Or a flat earth? If you say yes then you sir have no idea about early interpretations. You obviously do not understand the implications of the Bible when not taken literal. I guess when it says kill witches by witches it means something else. Believe it or not there are people that do believe that. Any problem you have with the Bible you simply ignore those parts or change their meanings by deeming them to be non-literal and then you can interpret it however you may wish. Sounds like your god was a smart dude.

        1. I’m guessing you were either a Baptist or a pentecostal before you changed.

          I’m not sure you know your Church or otherwise religious history. You’ve never read Philo, or Josephus. Further, you have never read Job, Jonah or other works which were meant to be, and understand as parables.

          No one has play detective – only the fundamentalists who miss the message for the literalistic trees.

          It’s rather difficult to answer your questions when they are nonsensical.

          You realize that hell is a development of doctrine right? That miracles had different contexts, right? You are making false dichotomies and pretending that they are the real thing.

          You were a literalist before you become an atheist and you are one now. The god you don’t believe in is the minority god. For that, I pity you.

      2. Can you find me one early Jewish/Christian interpretation of Genesis that was not taken literal? If there is one, what about it makes it correct? Would you not agree that if god was sending his message, the best way to communicate his message would be through literal stories? If he doesn’t then would you not agree that would lead people to misinterpret these stories to mean whatever they wish? Would that then not distort god’s original meaning therefore leading many astray because god decided to give these imperfect creatures his message and they have to decode it with no way knowing if they are correct except by faith.

        1. JK – The authors of Genesis didn’t take it literal. Surely, you realize that myth sorta precludes the taking of a text literal, right?

          Would you not agree that if god was sending his message, the best way to communicate his message would be through literal stories

          Um… you seem to think in evangelical terms, even now. What message do you think God was sending? You really have no clue as to genre do you? Or even how modern authors and satirists use genre, twists, and the what not, to get a message across? Or how history is ideologized?

          You still see Scripture as the written revelation of God. You realize that this is a rather new invention? That inerrancy is but a century and some change old?

          Stop being evangelical.

          1. literally not literal!! 😉 Excuse me for interrupting – but do you believe ‘God’ was sending ‘a message’ through the writers and creators of myth and story telling? And if so what was ‘the message’? Or are you just repeating JK? Just interested, not wanting to debate or contradict.

          2. just repeating JK (I set it off in blockquotes, I hope!)

            The Cosmos is one giant message, but then again, i am panentheist!

          3. I believe the Bible was meant to be taken literally and not figuratively, a simple research into early Israelite and Christian thought clearly shows that.

          4. spooky. Do you get in touch with this ‘thought’ through the spirit world? It’s interesting that alot of atheists, particularly former fundies, now fall into the gnostic camp: and of course, they are anti-history too. They believe in spirits and healing … prophecy in dreams, all manner of strange supernatural things. What you need to read ‘JK’ is ancient rabbinic work and other ancient literature. You have no evidence that stories were written to be understood literally. That’s a very modern distinction between myth and reality imposed on ancient pre scientific thinking. It’s called an anachronistic approach. Unrealistic.

          5. Seems JK needs to invest in some research that is other than *simple*.
            My daughter does simple research, but then, she is 5.

          6. yeah.. its amazing how all these people with a virtually pre-school education in biblical understanding (including Loftus) think they can tell us what we believe.. It would be like me trying to tell the CERN guys that the higgs bosun is a myth, and is illogical, and there is no record of it ever existing so they are all deluded and insane.

            Not that we are, you know, PHD scholars or anything, but we do have some formal qualifications.. a Wolowitz to Wright’s Sheldon.. if you catch my drift.. while JK and Loftus make penny look smart.

      3. One last thing, what makes you believe the Bible is not literal? Just because there may be other interpretations does that mean the Bible is not literal? What in the Bible points to the stories in Genesis to be mere symbolism’s? Is this something found in the Bible or man decided?

          1. Actually i was never a baptist, i never believed in biblical literalism. If the bible is not to be taken literally or any other religion then there is no truth from a divine creator. You would think that a divine creator would tell us truths about our universe and its contents that way we would know for a fact that it was divinely inspired instead of giving poetic fairy tales and deriving our meanings from them since they are not meant to be literal. You can sit and say that the original authors of genesis did not believe those stories to be literal but that just goes to show the limited knowledge that you do have on how they viewed Genesis.

          2. You do see the logical fallacy you have created, right, JK?

            Because you believe that it must be literal, and only literalism can carry truth, and the bible cannot be literal, then there is no truth and thus no creator.

            You provide no evidence for your insinuations and only show yourself inept and actually understanding history.

            I can give you a host of books to read on the subject, but I suspect that in the end, you would deny all of them and instead establish yourself as the authority.

            Odd, I thought you didn’t believe in god and yet, you pretend to be one

  6. Ed: You do get around. What do you do for a living, if I can ask?

    Reading this thread over, frankly, the bickering gets a little tedious. Everyone is right in their own eyes, everyone wants to show off, but is too busy posing to notice what anyone else says. I guess that pretty much defines the Internet, maybe human beings in general. More time spent with the peach trees is probably time wisely invested.

    But I like a lot of your comments, Ed, I just wonder why you wander all over making them. Are you trying to convince people? Or testing your ideas? Or just have a lot of time on your hands?

    Personally, I don’t mind John stalking off in a huff from time to time. (Right after losing it a bit with me, uncharacteristically — I almost felt guilty.) I actually like John’s shameless emotional frankness, to all the postering and posing that goes on say, at Pharyngula. Maybe he’s a bit depressed; happens to the best of us. It seems I’m one of those few Christians who actually likes the guy, including his arguments, which often support Christianity once you turn them right-side up.

    1. Emotional frankness or blithering ignorance? “everyone wants to show off” Do you? By golly you’re a weeny bit pompous, eh! I kind of like John too – when I met him he was awfully sweet but he had a huge chip on his shoulder. I just wanted to give him a hug and say ‘there, there honey, it’ll be OK.’ Obviously I should have because he isn’t OK. I think it’s quite clear that my criticism on this thread, is that he, like so many deconverted fundies, attack all Christianity with broad blade axe and seem obvious to that wonderful concept of evolution. 🙂

          1. Loftus is not guided by an altruistic motivation, but one of anger and bitterness and a little ego as well. But, as I said in his post, people like John do us all good.

          2. Do us all good? That’s odd. I never read his blog – why would I? People are interesting in their diversity – I don’t know about doing us good. I don’t think it’s very helpful when people deliberately avoid trying to understand individuality and not only that, it doesn’t do anybody ‘good’.

  7. Pompous? Sure I am, and more than a wee bit, at times. And you’re a wee bit nasty. Not to me, yet, I don’t care about that. I do suspect nasty is more of a sin than pompous, though — what have you got against Ed? The man has his sermons, but a Christian should be inerred to that.

    1. I don’t like being preached too. Ed goes on an on and never stops. I’m not really interested. I am interested more in John Loftus. At least I’ve met him (at a conference a couple of years ago). It’s like those poor Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on the door early on Saturday morning. Mind you I’m not horrible to them – I feel so sorry for them dragging their poor little children around and getting rejected by all my neighbours. I do generally say, sorry, I’m a committed Catholic, or something which is dishonest… but I don’t like being preached to especially by people with such strong convictions. I don’t think the internet is a very humanistic approach to communication. I’ll be happier when I live life again without it. I’m not a Christian, I’ve never been a believer. I just love history and most of my friends belong to some religious tradition or other. I have no convictions and I’m not an atheist. I’m just a terribly sinful heretic. Guilt will eventually kill me – I might even help it along. 🙂

  8. Steph: OK, thanks for explaining yourself. I get bored with the “internet conversation as a ping-pong game” model, with the only concern to knock the ball back at your “opponent,” not that I don’t enjoy the game myself, from time to time. I prefer to talk with human beings, even guilt-stricken heretics who lie to JWs. :- ) When I lived in Japan, they were about the only ones who would let me practice my Japanese on them, for which I could forgive them some of their inanities.

    1. Ah real people in the real world. I’m an outdooroholic so life for me is mountains bush and sea – I had never not lived by the sea until I came to England. I am not comfortable talking facelessly to faceless anonymous identities. I’m a tactile girl. I will shortly be back by the sea, where I belong. I’ll still work – but my desk is on the verandah and I can drink real gin and tonic and real cups of tea with real people and watch their faces and eyes move as they speak…. 😉

      1. I’d have though, much like New Zealand (where I live), you do not have much choice in being “by the sea” – that’s island life 😛

        I find that my decades of debate on the internet have refined my thinking about certain things and my ability to debate. Being able to write out my argument means I can think through it, do appropriate research and be less reactive than “face to face”. Now when I discuss things with people face to face, my arguments are more refined and succinct. So there is something to be said for it. The down side is there are a lot of idiots who think they have all the answers, and say things they never would if they met me face to face. So.. you got to take the good with the bad 😛

        1. It’s all about simplication and immediate responses. It’s uncontrolled and flooded with amateurs pronouncing their convictions. I’ve been introduced to the anti academic world of extremists who believe what they want to believe. Life was freer and more fun before I connected to the internet and in so many ways for research its a necessity now. I’m glad, however, that I never got sucked in to a telly, a mobile phone or any other advanced gadget that control people’s lives.

          Sure, wherever I’ve lived at home in Aotearoa I have not only lived on the coast, but in houses, flats and baches on the beach, from Wellington to north of Auckland and all up the east coast. I’ve never had to walk further than across a road and straight down the I swim in the sea every day of the year. Two narrow islands with mountain ranges down the centre its geographically designed so that towns are built round the edge. But England is more of a round island with a whole lot of dead flat mud in the middle. And I’m in the middle of the Midlands (or muddle of the Mudlunds in Nu Zild), eighty miles from the nearest sordid coast (Skeggy). And it’s hellishly claustraphobic and spiritually suffocating without my ocean to see hear touch feel and taste. But down the globe I’ll slide soon (for the thirteenth time) and this time I’ll never return! Not decided where to land – anywhere from Whangarei to Dunedin. I am quite literally a ‘fish(er) out of water here)

          1. what a muddle – I’ve never had to walk further than straight down the sand and into the sea…

          2. Well, I’m sure NZ will welcome you back 🙂
            We dont want Joel though.. he lets aussies post on his blog.

            Yes, it seems (although it is normal in life for this to happen regardless), the more minority the belief, that the more extreme the conviction, the louder the voice, the more people will kowtow to their needs. Probably because people do not like conflict IRL.

  9. Geoff and Steph,

    If there is only “one Christianity” then why have so many Christians excommunicated each other over the centuries (schisms great and small, the history of Christianity being a history of schisms and church splits too numerous to mention) such that one group feels damnably uncomfortable worshiping beneath the same roof. Churches keep splitting, and Christian colleges keep ousting professors who take Genesis “too mythically” for their denomination’s tastes, or who dare to employ new scholarly approaches, or introduce new interpretations or question the meaning of inerrancy, who convert to Catholicism (as one prof. as Wheaton did, and who had to leave as a result).

    Unlike theologians, scientists disagree but they don’t find any single book to be the one book in the world inspired by God and hence more inspired than any other book on earth. If they did, then they would probably pour over such a book, searching every passage and combination of passages and arguing over it endlessly in their attempt to find out what the inspired truth was about the cosmos. But there is no such book, not even the Bible.

    Second, Christian opinions concerning Genesis have not been as varied as they were to become after the advent of intensive studies of the geological record and biological relationships between living and extinct organisms. The geologist’s hammer and maps, along with fossils, comparative anatomy, and genomic studies have raised far more questions for “Bible believing Christians” than ever before. Just compare these passages from Augustine with the types of questions today’s Christians have to deal:


    “. . . [in Genesis 1] the firmament was made between the waters above and beneath, and was called ‘Heaven,’ in which firmament the stars were made on the fourth day.” [Augustine, City of God chapter 11.5-9] In that same chapter Augustine also cites Psalm 148:3-4 that states the “sun, moon, stars and heaven” praise the Lord along with “the waters above the heavens.” And in The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustine wrote: “The term ‘firmament’ does not compel us to imagine a stationary heaven: we may understand this name as given to indicate not that it is motionless but that it is solid and that it constitutes an impassable boundary between the water above and the waters below. . . . Whatever the nature of the waters [above the firmament], we MUST BELIEVE in them, for the authority of Scripture is greater than the capacity of man’s mind.”

    Augustine’s interpretation was echoed by Martin Luther as late as the fifteenth century: “Scripture simply says that the moon, the sun, and the stars were placed in the firmament of the heaven, below and above which . . . are the waters. . . . We Christians must be different from the philosophers in the way we think about the causes of things. And if some are beyond our comprehension like those before us concerning the waters above the heavens, we MUST BELIEVE them rather than wickedly deny them or presumptuously interpret them in conformity with our understanding” [Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 1, Lectures on Genesis, ed. Janoslaw Pelikan (St. Louis, MI: Concordia, 1958), pp. 30, 42, 43].


    In Eden, it would have been possible to beget offspring without foul lust. The sexual organs would have been stimulated into necessary activity by will-power alone, just as the will controls other organs. Then, without being goaded on by the allurement of passion, the husband could have relaxed upon his wife’s breasts with complete peace of mind and bodily tranquility, that part of his body not activated by tumultuous passion, but brought into service by the deliberate use of power when the need arose, the seed dispatched into the womb with no loss of his wife’s virginity. So, the two sexes could have come together for impregnation and conception by an act of will, rather than by lustful cravings. [The City of God, Book14, Chapter 26]


    The recorded Egyptian dynasties extend back some thousand years or more before Noah, the flood, or the Tower of Babel. Roughly speaking the great pyramid at Giza was constructed ca. 2560 B.C.E. approximately the same time as the Genesis narrative places the flood, with continuous Egyptian civilization predating and postdating this time. David N. Livingstone in ADAM’S ANCESTORS notes that Augustine (354-430) opposed these ideas. Indeed, the continuing dispute over chronology was sufficiently strong that Augustine devoted a whole chapter of THE CITY OF GOD to “the falseness of the history which allots many thousand years to the world’s past” and another chapter to the “mendacious vanity” and “empty presumption” of the Egyptians in claiming “an antiquity of a hundred thousand years ” for their accumulated wisdom. (Livingston, p. 9) While Augustine had no doubt that these reports were false, the seeds of inconsistency and discrepancy were present and were factors to be considered – if only to be refuted soundly. (See, David N. Livingstone, Adam’s Ancestors: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins. The author is Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen’s University, Belfast. His book looks at the history of the idea of pre-adamic or non-adamic humans in western Christian thinking from the early church (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine) through the middle ages, the explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, the debates on racial supremacy, and on to the present day.

    AUGUSTINE ON THE LOCATION OF HELL (In his Retractions, written later in life: “it is beneath the earth”)

    1. What a long comment. please ed I asked you not to address me. I’m not listening and not interested in your apologetics ok? I wonder if you spend your life on the internet because whatever I visit there you are with alot of long comments about I don’t care what.

        1. Steph, yes he does.

          All that is completely and utterly irrelevant. Completely… and utterly.

          Denominations are not “different christianities”, neither are schisms and excommunications. Your grasp on church history is tenuous and on top of that, what you do post, you try and pervert to fit what you want it to say.. but it doesnt work.

  10. omg it’s in my email box – you have cut and pasted that selective teaching material from Augustine AGAIN!!!! Do you repeat yourself everywhere you go??????? Haven’t you learned that you take things out of context? Don’t you remember what Martin Luther said about that?????? Whatever you think of Luther he was damn right about context and what to do with those who abuse it.

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