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Ranger

I'm surprised that your post hasn't been swamped by comments from the supporters of that site.

The reason Debunking Christianity is successful is because the fundamentalism that they rail against is so successful in certain parts of America. It's also where many of them come from personally and the only form of Christianity that they are personally familiar with is of that type.

Furthermore, I think one of the biggest problems with the issue isn't whether people really believe Genesis 1 as totally literal, young earth, etc., but that they believe that is the way it's supposed to be interpreted. They personally don't see it as such, but believe an attack on that interpretation is an attack on their whole belief system.

John W. Loftus

I suppose it's convienient for you to think all we do is debunk an extreme form of Christianity. Yes, that's our focus. But we think all forms of Christianity are delusional. I also wrote a brief critique of Liberal Theology as a former liberal myself.

FYI. We have a few PhD's and those who have the equivalent as contributors at DC.

And I am not an angry atheist, nor a new atheist. I think these misconceptions come from the title to the Blog itself, a title which was chosen to merely attract attention.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus

Oh, Hector Avalos and William Lane Craig have both posted something on my blog. This is from Avalos, and this is from Craig. This is also from Avalos.

JohnFH

Ranger and John,

It is undeniable that religionists, including fundamentalists, are prone to delusional thinking of various kinds. But this seems to be the case among anti-religionists as well. It comes with the territory of being human.

As a religionist, I could spend my days railing against the delusions of anti-religionists, and once in a while, with my research focus, ancient hebrew poetry, as my point of departure, I do (see my review of chapter 5 of Hector Avalos' "The End of Biblical Studies").

Most of the time, however, I just want to have a civil discussion about the contents of biblical literature among believers and non-believers alike. There are good reasons why this literature continues to speak in powerful and positive ways to believers and non-believers alike.

Those reasons are unforgivably obscured by a blog like Debunking Christianity.

Scott Ferguson

I think Ranger makes an important point. Religion in America is very different than that in other parts of the world. I doubt that in any country in Europe raw, fundamentalist religion plays a prominent role in politics. Here, even the liberal politicians have to suck up to the religious right.

It has been claimed that the problem with N T Wright and Bart Ehrman's internet debate was exactly this disconnect. American skeptics are trapped by their circumstances and the rest of the world lacks the framework to understand their dilemma.

While I don't think religious believe is necessarily or always delusional, I stick by a non-believing position with regards to the truth of religious claims. Also, I am not yet ready to accept the non-believing Christian position at face value. It just doesn't smell quite right to me but I am trying to keep an open mind - and fight the urge to only breath through my mouth ;)

James Pate

Oh yeah, John W. Loftus. I read about his book on Amazon. I thought he already had a blog.

JohnFH

Scott, you make an interesting comparison (Europe vs. the United States), and let me speak to that briefly. I've lived half my adult life in Europe; half my family is Italian; I know whereof I speak.

You are right that people with very strong religious beliefs and the religious movements they are affiliated with do not currently influence Italian life, for example, as much as here. Still, the Catholic Church and component movements such as Communion and Liberation and Opus Dei, are very active in the public square and the bishops and the Pope are not at all disinclined to telling people how to vote. Not only that, but their guys are in power again, and Berlusconi, a first-class clown, also goes to Mass all the time, refers to God whenever it suits his purposes, etc. Now maybe you think Roman Catholic influence in politics and morals is all right because the Church opposed the war in Iraq or some such, but if that's the case: out with it, this discussion is not about the place of religion in public life at all, but about the religio-political taboo system currently in vogue among the egghead class in America.

It used to be different in Italy, for sure. 30 years ago, a competing fundamentalism was alive and well: Communism. Italy was a happier place, from my point of view, when more than one fundamentalism was strong and feisty. If you read issues of the Communist daily from earlier decades, L'Unita, I'm sure you will agree with me: the paper took positions on many things that can only be described as delusional and self-delusional in nature. But it was the "false conscience" thought necessary to keep a mass movement involving tens of millions of people afloat.

In some European countries, there is no real ideological debate of any kind. Everyone is spoon-fed political correctness and most do not complain, usually. But that is one reason that Europe is kind of a sad place right now. There is an emptiness about it that perhaps you pine for.

I don't.

John W. Loftus

JohnFH said...I just want to have a civil discussion about the contents of biblical literature among believers and non-believers alike.

Me too.

JohnFH said...Those reasons are unforgivably obscured by a blog like Debunking Christianity.

Again, the title is an attention grabber. Apparently you have never read much that we write.

James McGrath of "Exporing Our Matrix" is a regular reader and commenter. Ask him what he thinks of our Blog.

And for comparison purposes we link to several great Christian sites and Blogs. Do you? If you want a great discussion and not a one way street rant then why don't you link to the best secualar sites and Blogs? If you'll notice, of those sites that link to secular sites ours is often linked to.

Cheers.

JohnFH

John, thanks for your comments.

I did sample the posts on your blog a bit, but perhaps I was unlucky and landed on the more poorly written ones.

I'm interested in biblical blogging first and foremost; the great James McGrath casts his net far wider, which I think is wonderful. But if you have a short list of biblical bloggers you think I should consider, cough it up.

John W. Loftus

I'm not sure what you're looking for since I don't have the time to look much through your site, nor do I know what you believe.

As you can tell I don't believe the Bible, and I know a lot about it.

Look for my book in a few months and see what you think. Norman L. Geisler and James F. Sennett both recommend it. It's respectful in tone and it contains what I consider a unique and powerful case, a summary of which can be found here.

In the future, if you mention either my name, my book, or my blog in a post, I will be alerted to it via Google Alert.

See ya 'round, and I wish you all of the best.

Lee Randolph

I wrote some things about genesis.
interpretation is everything isn't it? Its like art, and music and poetry. But to some its not. It like the absolute truth. And they try to force that on the rest of us. So I debunk the literalist, fundamentalist, Christian interpretation. As you know, you are free to interpret as you wish. As long as you realize that your interpretation is just an interpretation you shouldn't run the risk of infringing on anyone else's rights.
That's the point.
We Push back to those that promote dis-information and restrict the freedoms of people that would otherwise have them in a secular, evidence based society.
As an atheist, I run the risk of being discredited just because I don't think there is a god, therefore I can't possibly have a moral center. Isn't that worth fighting over?

JohnFH

Lee, thanks for commenting here.

I don't know what the source of your moral center is - more precisely, I actually think I do, as you might imagine - but I'm sure you have one, and for all I know, you are a better person than I am.

As someone who has spent a lifetime reading ancient Near Eastern texts, I would just point out that a text like Genesis 1, however primitive it may seem to you, is a brilliant step forward in context, in which life was seen against the background of a dark and foreboding god-eat-god narrative.

Indeed, Gen 1 towers above many contemporary metanarratives which buy into a dog-eat-dog, or live and let die narrative. I'm sure you don't promote those narratives, but you might recognize that a text like Genesis One is your ally in the fight against the vicious of this world.

Edward T. Babinski

You seem to have little sympathy for non-Hebrew literature/creation narratives, which you depict as merely "dark and foreboding god-eat-god, live and let die narratives."

Firstly, such narratives are earlier than Genesis 1 whose author(s) had more time to fully incorporate later henotheistic refinements and be influenced possibly by Persian Zoroastrian concepts as well.

Non-Hebrew literature/creation narratives were indeed more emotionally driven via stories of struggling gods and goddesses though for that very reason they were emotionally important to those who developed them, drawing a unity between the struggles of gods with one another and struggles of humans with one another.

In other words there are scholars with sympathy for non-Hebrew literature/narratives who are cognizant of the genius of such works just as you are of the Bible's.

Secondly, the Biblical creation narrative relies on a wealth of ancient ideas. Creation by divine word? That's been done before in both Egypt and Babylon. Creation using the four basic elements of fire/light, water, earth, wind? Been done before. Creation of things from the ground? Been done before. Splitting the cosmos in half with earth below and heaven above? Been done before.

As for what any particular blog wishes to do, or say about the Bible, such as Debunking Christianity, it's mere existence raises awareness of the fact that so few Christian scholars, perhaps including yourself, feel the need to interact with the average "Bible believer" in a simple enough and regular enough manner that such a Christian may understand why "inerrancy" is not a viable scholarly option.

If scholars such as yourself do not spend a bit more time explaining such things to the average Bible believer and making your arguments crystal clear, then once any Christian does begin questioning the Bible he's that much more likely to discover blogs like DC and eventually leave the fold entirely, or even become a "fellow debunker" with them.

So, are scholarly Christian moderates and liberals shirking their duty to communicate scholarly biblical findings with the public in ways the public can understand?

Of course I think the same thing is true concerning scholars making evolutionary data clearer to the public as well. Though right now I suspect there are more Christian professors of biology who are writing pro-evolution books and speaking to the public on the evidence in favor of evolution, than there are Christian biblical scholars willing to take the time, the effort and patience to write more books speaking about why "inerrancy" is unconvincing.

Tell me the next time someone of theological stature like James Barr writes another classic like his book titled, Fundamentalism, published around 1981.

And I've only read a single debate between James D. G. Dunn and Roger Nicole on inerrancy in an obscure publication from Britain titled, "Churchman," and that was in the 1970s.

If you know of more cases like the above in which moderates-liberals get into the nitty gritty of what conservative "Bible Believers" believe about the Bible, please email me the names of such works.

One such book that did recently catch my eye was "In God's Time," that helps explain to conservative Christians the real meaning of biblical prophecy, as understood by biblical scholars.
There's a website too, and the author includes a brief mention of his own former fundamentalist Christian past.

That is one Christian making a concerted effort to help the public understand what moderate-liberal Christian scholarship is about. If you know of more such cases in the realm of moderate-liberal biblical scholarship please let me know. I read Cross-Talk2, Biblical Studies Carnival, and other moderate-liberal sites, and suspect that "debunking" is best served if more Christians can simply be pointed to other Christians concerning these obnoxious ongoing debates over "inerrancy" or "creationism."

And yet, I've also seen just how Christians treat other Christians when a moderate-liberal debates a conservative for very long over such matters. So the problem doesn't seem to be with Debunking Christianity so much as with the difficulties of the human mind to communicate information and its ability to come up with all sorts of ingenious reasons to maintain its current state of mind, whatever that might be. So really, the difficulty (in such cases of obstinacy and truculence) might be said to lie with the creator of all minds?

And it also lay with the fact as Erasmus pointed out that the great god/goddess known as "Wisdom" seems to have made it such that the person who spends their time seeking knowledge is also often unlucky in begetting many children, which merely helps to keep the level of the world's folly relatively high, generation after generation.


JohnFH

Edward,

thanks for a long and interesting comment. Your blog looks very interesting.

You might be surprised to learn that I believe Scripture is without error so long as one keeps in mind what the authors were doing, which was not, for example, trying to help us in the 21st century decide between competing scientific explanations of how things came to be.

I happen to think of evolution as a means by which a purposeful Creator brought life into being in all its complexity. But maybe I am wrong about that. I try to keep an open mind.

If you want to get a feel for how evangelical scholars approach the creation narratives today, I would point you to works by John Walton, Kenton Sparks, Peter Enns, and Bruce Waltke.

Johnny West


I think Christians and skeptics alike have contributed to confusion surrounding the Bible. Fundamentalists argue that if any part of the Bible is false, the entire Bible is. Since it is impossible to prove God did not write the Bible, critics attack the history. Their attack is based on a lack of archeological evidence which is based on errors in dating events prior to the time of the Kings. The Bible does not claim that God wrote the Bible,other than the first ten commandments.Inspired by does not mean written by.Unbelievable does not mean impossible.The absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.The Bible scribes used literary license in a manner not unlike modern writers do. While it is unlikely that Goliath was as huge as the Bible claims,there is no reason to believe he could not have been a very large man. Believing that he could not have been killed by a slingshot is unfounded. Believing that Adam and Eve talked to a snake is a stretch of the imagination. Believing that Eden could not have been a real place is showing a lack of knowledge of ancient history.

Johnny West

Lee Randolph
I agree. Although I am a Christian I respect the rights of others to believe or disbelieve as they choose. It is not my place to condemn or accuse anyone of being immoral. Morality is necessary to survive in society and may or may not have been invented by God.It is a human trait, not a Christian trait.

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    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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    Copyright © 2005 by John F Hobbins.