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Feedback #15

Names and e-mail addresses have been witheld to protect the guilty. If you recognise your letter here, and wish to have your name and address displayed, feel free to contact me.

Received: 1/27/99

Interesting questions you pose about the Bible.  Many of them are questions for the sake of questions and don't make much sense.  Having said tht, however, and giving you the benefit of the doubt in some cases, you still have not or cannot destroy or make insignificant the living GOD who is and always will be THE SAME yesterday, today, and forever.  Interesting take, though.

Thanks for your message. The problem that I have always had with the phrase "the same yesterday, today and forever" is that it means that God will always act as he did in the past. This means that we can expect more genocide, infanticide, murder, intolerance and racial exclusion, such as that which colors the pages of the Old Testament. Personally, I think I would prefer a God who did learn from his mistakes, and promised to behave in the future.  

Received: 1/26/99

I'd like to recommend to you a thoughtful Muslim response to Ibn Warraq's book. You may be surprised to find that it acknowledges that there are valid criticisms in the book, along with some serious intellectual and moral flaws.

Thanks for your link. I did read the article, and found it a fairly well-balanced treatment of the subject, mostly free from he usual polemics that unfortunately accompany such responses.

The only thing I would question, however, is the degree to which Dr. McAuliffe's opinions are shared by the Muslim community at large. For example, at the start of Part I, Dr. McAuliffe makes some observations about the historical context of Islam and the Quran, and then states that "This is all accepted in Islam, and causes no problems."

From my own interactions with Muslims, both on the Net and in the "real" world, I have generally found that they are not comfortable with these sort of observations. I recall some time ago discussing the problem of very early variant versions of the Quran (prior to the Uthmanic standardization) with a devout Muslim. This person simply refused to believe that such versions could exist, and instead maintained that the Quran was the pure and unchangeable Word of God. I am fairly certain the Dr. McAuliffe would have no problem discussing the evolution of the Quranic text, but the very concept, in my experience, tends to draw strong reactions from the rank-and-file Muslim.

This is not very surprising. Conservative Christians, for example, generally maintain that Moses was the sole author of the Pentateuch, despite the vast and varied evidence against that position.

In summary then, while I find Dr. McAuliffe's article to present some valid points, I'm really not sure how relevant it would appear to the majority of the Muslim population.

Received 1/25/99

You have apparently studied your Bible, but have failed to understand the meaning of Matthew 24.  When Jesus refers to "this generation", he is speaking of the generation that sees the restoration of the nation of Israel.

The problem with this interpretation is that it is not consistent with the manner in which Jesus used the phrase "this generation" in Matthew's gospel. The phrase is used five times - in 11:16, 12:41-42, 23:36, 24:34. The last is the one that is under the dispute. In the first three cases, the phrase unambiguously refers to the generation that was alive at the time of Jesus. The fourth case (23:36) is interesting. It, too, says that terrible calamities will befall "this generation" in retaliation for the crimes of their ancestors. Leaving aside the moral ambiguity involved in punishing the descendants for the sins of their forefathers, it is also clear that this phrase refers to Jesus' generation. Most scholars understand this as a reference to the destruction of the city and the Temple in 70 AD.

Now, turning to 24:34, what evidence is there that Jesus meant this phrase to have a different sense from his previous four utterances? There is none. Nor is it clear that Jesus meant his parable of the fig tree to have application to the rebirth f Israel. Jesus clearly explains the meaning of his parable - he simply says that as the leaves on the fig tree indicate the imminence of summer, so the signs of calamity on Israel indicate the looming end of the age. Nowhere does he state that the fig tree is meant to symbolize Israel.

Jesus' statement is in fact in harmony with his earlier pronouncements of doom on his own generation. Also, in 16:28. Jesus clearly states that some of his followers would still be alive when the end comes. (Some interpreters have attempted to state that Jesus was here referring to his transfiguration, recorded in the next chapter. Most scholars reject this view on the basis that his statement in 16:28 makes little sense in this context).

Guess what my friend.  That generation is us.  See the reference to the fig tree.  The Bible consistently uses the fig tree as a symbol of the nation of Israel.

Consistently? Paul used the metaphor of an olive tree (see Romans 7). Isaiah used the fig tree as a symbol of Israel, but how does that relate to Matthew? They are different books by different authors, written 800 years apart. The fact that they appear in the same collection does not imply that we can use one to interpret another.

Jesus did not expect the fulfillment of prophecy during the lifetime of the apostles.  He knows when all prophecy will be fulfilled, except the specific time when He will return for His bride for only the Father knows of that.  The apostles probably did not understand his symbolism of the fig tree and actually did expect the return of Jesus during their lifetime.  The ignorance of simple fishermen cannot detract from the fact that the prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled around us.

I'm not sure I understand this last statement. Are you stating that the later authors of the New Testament, who did claim that the end was near (see Rom 13:11, Heb 9:26, Rev 22:12) were mistaken in this belief?

I know deep down you understand this and are only hanging on to prideful sin of man, just as I did for many years.  I pray that you too come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior and Messiah.

I understand deep down that there was a belief in the early church that the return of Jesus Christ was to happen soon. I understand that the New Testament reflects this belief, and places it in the mouth of Jesus himself. I also understand that it failed to happen, just as every other prophecy of the imminent end of the world made from time immemorial has failed. The rebirth of Israel is now fifty years in the past. What will Christians say when it is a hundred years past? Will they find some other event to mark the beginning of the "time of troubles"? Alas, almost certainly.

Received: 1/25/99

Hello, I must say that your website is interesting.  But while your articles say that Christians are guilty of circular reasoning, so are the writers themselves!  They are not looking at the evidence of Christ in a proper fashion.  Archaeology has many times proven that the Bible has been accurate on locations, and even tombs of Bible figures. 

Well, this is true, but what does it mean? Simply because the Bible is historically accurate in places does not mean that every book is as accurate. For example, while we have good evidence that David was an actual historical person, there is likewise good evidence that Darius the Mede never existed.

Secondly, even if the Bible were accurate in every detail, this does not automatically mean that it's message is true. I could point out that Homer's Troy was long thought to be a mythical city, until it was excavated by archaeologists. However, no scholars interpret this mean that the Greek gods physically inhabit Mount Olympus. In like fashion, the historical accuracy of parts of the Bible tells us very little about the veracity of its theology.

I don't think you present a fair assessment of the Christian world view, I guess that's why it is an Atheist web page.  I respect your right to your belief, and I only hope that you look at the evidence of Jesus Christ to base your decision.  Have Christians been guilty of atrocities? Yes!  But note the word; Christians, not God. 

Well, I think that the Bible disputes this point. For example, most civilized humans regard genocide as an evil act, but God commanded the Israelites on a number of occasions to do just that.

I Samuel 15:2-3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

If you find abortion morally abhorrent, what do you think of the murder of innocent, newborn babies commanded by the Lord of Hosts Himself? Have a look at II Samuel 12:13-18. Here we find that not only did God personally kill an innocent baby, but he also broke his own commandment by punishing the child for the sin of his father. It matters very little whether this God exists or not. I will have nothing to do with such a being.

Man has been guilty of many atrocities, and if you atheists think that you are so innocent remember this;  Atheistic people have been guilty of more atrocities than any other!  Communist and dictatoral regimes such as Lenin and Hitler, were responsible for millions upon millions of deaths of innocent people. 

Quite true. But was their motivation atheism, or something else? In Stalin's case, he definitely was an atheist. But, he was also a Marxist, and it was this that provided the impetus for his actions, not his lack of belief in God. After all, people generally do things because of what they believe in, not because of what they fail to believe in. I am quite certain that Stalin also failed to believe in fairies at the bottom of his garden. Does that mean that all persons who disbelieve in fairies are morally culpable? I suspect not.

The point is that Stalin was motivated by a misguided and unsustainable belief in dialectical materialism as the path to the fifth state, just as the Catholics were motivated by a misguided and unproveable  belief in the historical authority of the Holy Roman Church. The fact that Stalin was an atheist is ancillary to the issue.

Also, I suspect that you will find that Adolf Hitler referred to himself as a Christian.

Let us not forget the untold holocaust of millions of babies in abortion clinics.  I wonder if people would stop being atheists if they knew that the atheistic world view has been guilty of these heinous crimes against humanity.  No way.  That is why you must reject or accept Christ on what He has done, not what man has done.

Once more, I must ask you how the atheistic worldview has been the cause of moral decay in society. I think that you will find that the times when a theistic philosophy has guided a state government tends to coincide with the greatest human rights abuses.

Also, are you claiming that no Christian woman would have an abortion? I suspect you will find a number who call themselves Christian, who nevertheless support freedom of choice. Personally, I am opposed to abortion, but at the same time I realize that I have never, nor will I ever be pregnant. It is therefore not my place to decide the fate of another person whose situation I will never experience. That is what freedom of choice and expression is all about.

Received: 1/18/99

I predict that, even if the heavens should fall on our heads and the oceans rise, and even New York falls...that I'll keep breathing. That I'll get up every morning, and watch sailor moon before taking a shower, dressing, eating, and going to school. I predict that I'll graduate in 2001, and go off to college. And as long as the TV guide keeps coming in the mail, I'll know- life will go on. Its about as simple as that.

I have a feeling that yours will be the only prediction that will actually come true in 2001. Sadly, many people still seem to prefer flashy fantasy to real life. We can only hope that the human species will evolve some sort of collective common sense in the new millenium. But I doubt it.

Received: 1/16/99

Having read Haywood's "Creation and Evolution" myself, I also strongly suggest, if you are honestly open to facts, read it yourself.  Also, " The Creator and the Cosmos", by Hugh Ross is strongly recommended. I was brought up to be a free-thinker, but Jesus overtook me regardless of my training.  "Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your path." deny Him and He will deny you.                                 

I have actually read several of Ross' books. Although he is not quite as desperate as the young-earth creationists, he still commits several errors of logic. The point is that it is still too early to answer the question of ultimate origins. Although we know the "how" of common descent, we still don't know the "why". Nor do we know how the whole chain got started. There may still be room for some theory of intelligent design, but at this point there seems to be no strong reason to accept such a conclusion. Time will tell.

Received: 1/14/99

I know exactly where you are coming from. It took me a BS and an Masters of Divinity before I could figure that all out! Do you know of a book that documents the other "saviors" that are similar to Jesus? I would really like to have some hard facts. I am really interested. You have a great web site by the way. Take care!

Thanks. As for books about other "saviors", I suggest that you look into the old Persian god, Mithra. There are some interesting similarities between Jesus and Mithra.

Received: 1/10/99

My name is Ammar Ali Khan and my prediction is:  

In the year 2000 the muslims last Prophet that is alive and well wil come in mankinds vision and he will gather all of the muslims and for 30 years the muslims will be at war with all of the rest of the world and after that time period we will go back in time like back to caveman times. While that is going on we all will be starving to death and then will come Satin riding on his donkey with animal dropings hanging from the back of his donkey which all people will think is the most delicous food and the unpatient people will follow him and they will go to hell with Satin himself and will burn for there sins.But the patient people will survive and fight in armagedon and when all the world is muslim the world will end and every ones sins and good deeds will be payed. After all of that there will be another kind of creatures made and will live for one time periods just like humans and these creatures will have to start from the begining just like humans.

Received: 1/9/99

I think it is very fascinating the the Book of Abraham has Hebrew words in it.  And why shouldn't it?  The last time I checked Abraham was a semitic Hebrew.  You think it out of the question that one writing a manuscript in another tongue could through some words from his own tongue, particularly words relating to astronomy, which Abraham taught to the Egyptians.  Perhaps the Hebrew word was the best, or parhaps even the only, word for the particular things Abraham was trying to say.  

Did you know that the word for "train" in Spanish is "tren" (obviously derived from the English counterpart).  So if I decide to write something in Spanish and I say "tren", will someone (like you) say three thousand years later that I was merely writing in English, and hence someone purporting to translat my manuscript from Spanish was lying.  Hmmmmmm.   I find it far more facsinating that Joseph Smith didn't try to hide anything by seeking out the Egyptian counterparts, since he had nothing to hide.

I think it is more important to note that the Hebrew words that are found in the Book of Abraham are also all found in Andrew Sexias' "Manual of Hebrew Grammar". Smith was studying this book at the time that he purported to be translating the Book of Abraham. Not only do we find Hebrew words from Sexias' manual in the BoA, but some of them are also transliterated in the same manner.  

On the other hand, the BoA appears to display no knowledge whatsoever of the Egyptian language. This is odd, because, after all, the book was supposed to be written originally in Egyptian.   For more information, have a look at the articles on Hebrew in the BoA by Zucker and Wright.

Received: 1/5/99

No predictions to add to the list, just a short thank you for a marvelously entertaining page.  Your asides were funny and to the point.

Received: 1/6/99

I read "Your Story" and was very moved. I too was raised Baptist and My grandfather, who was a Baptist Minister, wanted me to follow in his footsteps. I instead became a medical doctor and latter in life joined the Anglican Church. I never before read what I for along time have felt, until I saw your essay. There are probably Thousands of us former Baptist who at one time really believed we were the defenders of the "True Faith". Later our inner voice begins to trouble us by asking those question you so well expressed in your writings.  I'm still a Christian, but I have to state, I don't know! In this statement I somehow found a sense of resolution. I now believe there are many paths to the apex of the mountain; but what awaits us there-???

Thanks for your message. In my opinion, you have voiced the only honest answer that anyone can give to the question of the meaning of life - "I don't know". Anyone who says that they have the answer are, in my experience, either delusional or trying to sell you something.   Life is definitely a journey. What lies at the end, if anything at all, is unknown. So, we might as well enjoy the ride while we can.

Received: 1/1/99

Just a short note to say thanks for the work you have done on your website. Your journey has been mine.  I , until last April, was a church pastor, who managed after 28 years to get himself bounced for being too intellectual.  I have always loved "knowing" and the stuff I thot I knew, changed with more knowing.  I now know evolution to be true, including mans and it is all so fascinating to me.  What it all means,  I am not sure, but the quest is interesting.

Amen. This is one of the things that I, too, discovered after I jettisoned my delusions. Suddenly, the Universe became a much more mysterious, and much more exciting place. I look forward to the progress of Science in the decades to come. I enjoy thinking and speculating about the origin of life and our place in the Universe. I doubt that I will find any answers to these questions, but, as you say, the journey certainly is an interesting one.

Sincere Christians, especially fundamentalists, don't want to know.  They are not teachable and seem a fearful of information group.  Someone once said that religions are the result of the stark terror we all fear to think there is nothing after death.  This is true.

Again, I agree. People, in general, are afraid of the Unknown. One way to confront this fear is to give the Unknown a name - God, and to assert that this being is intimately concerned with his creation. It is comforting, in the same way that children seek out their parents for comfort.

Received: 12/13/98

I messed with Mormonism in the late 80s, rejected it soon thereafter (even though I went and got baptized first!!!). ANYWAY, regarding "MORONI", since Joseph Smith said that this "angel" appeared to him IN his ROOM, I began to suspect that IN (his) ROOM was scrambled to be the name, MORONI.

An interesting thought. Anything is possible, I guess, but it seems a little unlikely to me. Coincidentally, "Moroni" also happens to be the capital city of the Comoro Islands, known in Joseph Smith's time as Camora, which might be where he got both "Moroni" and "Cumorah".

Received: 12/31/98

It never fails to amaze me why all those prophets,preachers who hang a PHD on thier titles,life time bible serchers (Ted G Armstrong a good example)waste so much time & effort on a futile quest.The bible is NOT a book of  riddles  to be solved.The prophecies are simply "after the fact proof of fulfillment"that can be pointed to so the non-believers might be convinced. Why this simple truth is not obviois to these learned experts, PHDs, DR.s of Divinity,University Theologens,and other self porclaimed "pipeline to God liseners" fail to see this obviois fact,when a 10th grade dropout such as I has dicerend it. 

I totally agree. It just goes to show that intelligence is, unfortunately, no sure vaccine against delusional thinking.

Received: 12/22/98

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on his favor rests." Luke 2:14 NIV

I wish you and yours the very best for this season. I pray that tragedy will not lead you to the Lord as it did for me, Accepting Him is so easy and leads to an internal peace you can not imagine or acheive with all your education or money. I was once where you are now, I have lost family, children, and beautiful grand children, without Him I could never have survived. Sitting in the back of a dark closet and weeping did not prove to be an answer. Believe it He does exist!!! As a result you exist. Embrace your loved ones every chance that presents itself and accept the fact that without Him you would not have them. "Many men live as atheist, but none die as one."

Thanks for your message. It is true that I have probably not had to suffer the things that you have. However, I sincerely doubt that, in my case, turning to God will solve anything. I have spent far too much time investigating the Bible and the history of Religion. No matter how much I try, I doubt that I would be able to suppress all that I have learned.

Also, I suspect that you will find that there are many people who died as fiercely unrepentant Atheists. I certainly intend to.

Received: 12/31/98

Hi! I was just wondering with many of the predictions that have failed, has the famous Nostradamus ever been wrong?? Just curious--have a happy new year!!   and thank you for your time.

The problem with Nostradamus is that his quatrains are generally so vague that just about any interpretation could be placed on them. One will often find the same quatrain interpreted in several completely different ways by the different students of Nostradamus. So, the question of whether he has ever been wrong really depends on trying to uncover what he originally intended to "prophesy", and this turns out to be a very difficult task indeed.  

He did make one specific prediction, however, and that happens to be this year, 1999. he claimed that a great terror will come from the skies in the seventh month. I guess we will have to wait and see.  

Received: 12/27/98

I'm sure I belong somewhere on your list. Please examine the following page, and my few other pages:

Biblical Prophecies correlated with Modern Objects http://www.hughes.net/~scheper/prophecy.htm

Received: 12/15/98

 Here is a link to another candidate for your Doomsday List.  He doesn't offer specific dates as some of the others, but seems to believe that most of the calamities will befall us in 1999 and 2000.  Have fun!

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