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Feedback #16

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: 3/24/99

I cut you some slack and said I'd look for a few different things. You have TONS of errors on your page. Jesus being the first in a "new reserected body" Before they were revived. Read it would ya!

I assume that you are talking about the fact that Paul refers to a "spiritual body" in I Corinthians 15. If so, you might be interested to know that a number of scholars suspect that Paul was talking a spirit, not a physical body at all. He was referring to the then current belief that the Resurrection would take place in a spiritual, not  physical form. I Corinthians was written at least thirty years before the first Gospel, and a long time before the theory of Jesus' physical resurrection.

If Paul was claiming in Acts 26:23 that Jesus was the first to be resurrected in a spiritual body, he certainly did not clarify his statement. In addition, this statement directly contradicts the gospels, which go to great pains to point out that Jesus was raised in a physical body. In any case, the whole discussion is moot, because there is no proof whatsoever that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead, and consequently no justification for believing such a tale.

Balaam. He went after the reward just like it says!

20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

[ Does it say in vs. 21 that the men called Balaam? NO! Balaam went anyway!]

Read it again. God directed Balaam to go with the princes of Moab to curse Israel in vs 20. When the men arrived the next morning, Balaam went with them exactly as God had commanded. Your assertion that the princes did not "call" Balaam borders on the ridiculous. The whole story of Balaam in the Old Testament proves that Balaam only did what god commanded of him. Thus, his negative reputation in the New Testament is still unwarranted.

Did you look into any of this? You just stole these ideas from other people! You just jumped on a badwagon and didn't think for yourself! Freethought! What a joke! You are a robot! You couldn't think foryourself right now if I paid you.

I did look into all of these problems. They all stood up under scrutiny, proving that the Bible is definitely not a reliable guide to truth.

Why don't you start thinking for yourself. read the Bible. Pray. Ask God (You know there is one. You have spent enough hours alone to know there is one) for help. May God have mercy on you.

I started thinking for myself years ago. That is why I am no longer a Christian.

Received: 3/20/99

I obtained this quote from your web page "The Annotated Book of Mormon."

http://www.primenet.com/~heuvelc/annotated/inep20.htm#1 ...modern scholarship has determined that Isaiah 40 through 55 were written by an unknown person (usually denoted deutero-Isaiah) sometime after the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon in about 536 BC...

Do you have a reference detailing the factors upon which modern scholarship based its opinion of the author and the date?

The question of the authorship of Isaiah is discussed in just about any of the more "liberal" commentaries on the book. I found three quotes dealing with the issue:

"It is today generally accepted that Isaiah 40-55 (often referred to as Second Isaiah or Deutero-Isaiah) is the work of an unknown prophet who lived in exile in Babylon toward the end of the reign of Nabonidus (555-539)." (The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, pg 175)

"On linguistic grounds alone, ch. 40-55 cannot be the work of the prophet of the eighth century. Not only is his name never mentioned in this section, but the historical setting is about two centuries later: Jerusalem has been captured, the people are captives in Babylon, Cyrus has already made his appearance and is about to be the instrument of their deliverance." (The New Jerusalem Bible, pg 1169)

"The 2nd period is that of the 2nd Isa., the great unknown prophet of the Exile, author of chs. 40-55, whose activity is to be placed in all probability within the reign of Nabonidus, the last Babylonian ruler (ca. 555-539)." (The Interpreters Commentary on the Bible, pg 330)

The question of the authorship of second Isaiah is a complicated one. Generally, the argument against the unity of Isaiah can be summarized into the following points:

The style of Isa 40-55 differs markedly from the preceding section.

The theological bias of Isa 40-55 seems divergent from the preceding section.

The historical background of Isa 40-55 is set about 200 years after the first section.

The name "Isaiah" is never used in chs 40-55; it appears about 13 times in the first section.

If you need more information, you should be able to find a good commentary in your library, or a local bookstore.

Received: 3/15/99

Hi, I've enjoyed reading your information but wanted to point out that Poultney and S.Royalton, where Joseph Smith actually lived (next to Sharon) is far more than a couple of miles away. While I find the Cowdery connection to Ethan Smith, Poultney/Middletown, Wells, etc(moreso to the Woodscrape incident)-intriguing and significant-I rather doubt Joseph Smith traveled to Poultney in his short childhood in Vermont. You imply that he could have simply because he lived so close-but in fact he lived quite far away and travel in VT was not an easy matter until the 1820s-after the Smith family had emmigrated west. What reason would he have to go to Poultney? There was a distant family connection between the Cowdery family and the Smiths but it does not seem to have been significant enough to bring the families together to visit. I would opt for the theory that the topic/ideas central to E.Smith's book were thick in the culture of VT and J. Smith grew up in that tapestry of magic/uncovered antiquities/rural folkore/Biblical symbolism/masonic mysteries/and the protective and fertile blamket of a large family.

Actually, I agree with you. I am of the opinion that parallels between works should only be considered when we have other reasons to suspect that a later author had access to the earlier works. This is why I would place the VOTH into the "interesting, but unproven" category. I think it is far more likely, as you suggested, that Smith was influenced by the prevailing attitudes of the day, and the Bible, whose influence on the Book of Mormon is undeniable.

I am also curious where the idea that Ethan Smith's VOTH was so hugely popular? I've read that in several places before but I've never seen the sources to actually back up that statement. Does someone have a sales log? I have had my eyes out hoping to find VOTH in antiquarian stores here in Vermont or around New England-and I've never seen one. I've seen a lot of other stuff that was so hugely popular that loads of them are still floating around from attics, private collections, junk boxes, etc. Ethan Smith doesn't show up! Did they all end up in Salt Lake? Just curious. Anyhow-carry on!

Personally, I'm not sure what evidence one could adduce to show that the VOTH was popular, other than the fact that it went through two editions in just a few years. In addition, one could point out that there were many other works that dwelt on similar themes of the time, in particular works by Josiah Priest and James Adair. As to why there are so few copies still around, I suspect one could easily ascribe that to the fact that the book was quote quickly superceded by new research into Indian origins. I strongly suspect that all available surviving copies have long since been snapped up by serious collectors.

Received: 3/27/99 (in response to above)

I appreciate your having taken the time to respond to my comments. You mentioned Josiah Priest and I wanted to share that I recently came across Priest's 1827 book on the "Expected Christian Millenium." Not knowing anything about Priest, but guessing that the topic, date, and place of publication, had some relation to the development of the Mormon Church, I took the book home did some research and lo and behold found that Priest actually figures quite prominently along with Ethan Smith and possibly Spaulding and even Thomas Dick Mormon roots. I find that Smith actually quoted Priest when in Nauvoo in relation to VOTH.  Do you know much about Josiah Priest? I have been able to locate little info.

Aside form having heard him mentioned in connection with Mormonism, I know little about him. The Tanners have a few paragraphs regarding possible connections between Priest's book "The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed" and the Book of Mormon. I also know that he and Ethan Smith seemed to share some information between themselves, or they may just have been collating the same urban and folkloric legends that permeated early nineteenth century New England.

Also, John Brooke has pointed out that a family connection existed between the Cowderys and the Smiths, so it is possible that the Smiths went to Poultney?

It seems possible, although I am not aware of any actual records that would indicate such. In any case, I suspect that Ethan Smith's influence extended a lot further than Poultney, if the popularity of his book is any indication.

I have also stumbled across a manuscript in Vermont that features a dream record pre-Mormonism(likely in the 18 teens)-that features stone boxes with ancient manuscripts that were expected to impart ancient wisdom. The dreamer(writer) wakes before he can decipher the ancient texts and beofre he was able to see what was in the second stone box. I find this to be an interesting reflection of certain themes prevalent in the Vermont culture at that time-when the Smiths were still here. These themes, which in part reflect a Masonic influence, were certainly shared by upstate, western New Yorkers and probably taken west by emmigrating Vermonters.

Interesting. A very similar episode can be found at the beginning of Spaulding's "Manuscript Found". It seems that folkloric tales of lost manuscripts being magically deciphered formed a significant part of the New England mythological landscape. I am not overly familiar with Masonry. Can you expand a little on the connection with this tradition as regards the stone boxes?

Anyhow, just sharing discoveries that you might appreciate! I still hunt for VOTH, though I would not describe myself as a serious collector, just curious.

Received: 3/13/99

I have been interested in the origin of the Book of Mormon and the history of the Mormon church ever since Mormon missionaries wanted to convert me when I was in college in the late 1960s. I have again had Mormon missionaries in my home over the last few months along with a former bishop of the local ward. The former bishop loaned me a copy of the book "Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins" origionally published in 1982.

The discussions I have had with the Mormons do not follow their standard discussions which they normally present. Since I had read a couple of books back in the late 1960s about the Mormons and am a skeptic when it comes to religion, we had more general discussions about religion and also discussions about the origin of the Book of Mormon. Most of what I had read in the late 1960s and some information on the web that I recently read is out of date. Much of what I was learning from the Mormons was quite new to me. Some of this information in the above mentioned book and information I have been told by the bishop would almost convince me that there is more to the Mormon's claims than I ever expected.

I also have a copy of the Fall 1997 FARMS catalog and can see that the Mormons have been publishing a lot of books and other materials in support of their claims about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This is why I am interested in the other side of the Mormon story.

Could you recommend a book or books which give other interpretations to the information presented in this book and other books published by FARMS?

The FARMS catalog is probably a good place to start. If you are interested in the Mormon side of the story, the most popular books are those by John Sorenson ("An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon" is regarded as something of a classic, although it may be a little dated now) and Hugh Nibley (although his works are now very dated). Some of the more recent authors include John Welch, who has written a few works on Chiasmus, John Tvednes and William Hamblin.

To add my own 2 cents worth: these books are interesting, not for what they reveal about the origins of the Book of Mormon, but rather for what they reveal about believers in general. You will note that most of these works are long on speculation, but very short on actual proof. (You may also want to check with non-LDS archaeologists before you accept as gospel anything that these authors tell you about ancient America). In other cases, they will tell you only half of the facts, often leaving out the most important pieces.

For example, many of the later authors will point out that recent discoveries have brought into question the "standard model" of American prehistory, and a growing number of Mesoamerican archaeologists and ethnologists are now beginning to accept that the ancient Americans may have been represented by more cultures than the Mongolians. There is even a growing consensus that transatlantic contact may have been possible. All of the above is true, of course, but what the Mormon apologists will often fail to mention is that none of these supposed transatlantic contacts are thought to be Jewish, and all of these contacts are thought to have occurred many thousands of years before the Book of Mormon story is supposed to have taken place.

I guess the bottom line, as with anything, is that it is important to double-check sources, especially where religious apologists are involved. Even the most well-meaning believer cannot help but re-interpret vague parallels into "evidence" for his own pre-conceived notions.

Received: 3/10/99

Do you believe the author of Revelation thought Daniel's "weeks" were groups of 360 day "prophetic" years?  Revelation does mention 1260 days in a passage.  1260 days would be 3 and 1/2 "prophetic" years, right?  Do you know if there was any concept of a 360-day "prophetic" year before Revelation was written? It would seem that if the author of Revelation thought Daniel was speaking of solar years, the author would have mentioned more than 1260 days.  Does the Bible ever mention a year or group of months and equate them with anything but 30 day months?

This is a somewhat confusing subject. First point to note is that one should be careful in equating Revelation and Daniel. They were written centuries apart, in response to different historical circumstances. While the author of Revelation does obviously borrow some imagery from Daniel (or, another possibility is that both Daniel and John were influenced by Jewish apocalyptic material, such as I Enoch), one cannot use Revelation to elucidate Daniel. The latter book must be approached on its own terms.

As to your question of whether the weeks were sets of seven 360-day years, I can only say that we are not sure. The Jews used a lunar calendar (as do most of the Middle Eastern inhabitants, even to this day), and as such the Jewish year had a variable number of days. An extra month was inserted every few years in order to bring the lunar calendar back into alignment with the solar year.

The only meager clue is that Daniel in one place uses the phrase "a time, times, and an half" (12:7). It is not at all clear what he meant by this, since he refers to three different time periods in the book: 2,300 days (8:14 - the word "days" in the KJV should actually be translated "evenings and mornings" at this point), 1,290 days (12:11) and 1,335 days (12;12). The relationship between these groups of days is anything but clear. Most scholars suspect that the latter two periods were inserted by later editors in order to make Daniel's "prophecies" of the Maccabean period seem more accurate, but their exact meaning is lost forever.

Received: 3/10/99

A sudden attack similar to Pearl Harbour will break out within the next 2 years.  The Muslim empire will create great havoc as we all sleep.  Libya with its underground factories and money, North Korea with its legacy of Cash to build Missles, Iran with its Money and hatred will take a leading role in fulfilling Komen's objectives. You can read about it everyday.   Don't be sceptical.  I'm not !!

Received: 3/8/99

Found your site interesting.  These are the questions I have wondered:

1. The population of the earth at the time of Jesus' birth was approximately 140-400 million; what is the status of the salvation of those who existed prior to his reign?

This is a question that is answered in many different ways by Christian believers. I used to be told that the pre-Christian believers were justified by "looking forward" to the sacrifice of Jesus. Still other believers hold that there is a special place in the Underworld called the "Bosom of Abraham" where these worthy souls are kept until Judgement day. The number of different responses reveals that Christian theology really has no answer to this question. In a similar manner, the question of what will happen to those who have never heard the gospel is also greeted by much skirting of the issue and blatant speculation. Once more, Christian theology has no real answer to these questions.

2. If he was indeed the Son of God, would there not be overwhelming historical evidence and would not the world had known about it?

This is again a very pertinent question. The historical records of the time are very silent about Jesus and his alleged miraculous deeds. In fact, outside of the Christian New Testament, there is not one single eyewitness account of the man called Jesus. Even the books of the New Testament that concern his life on earth were written many years after the events, by people who were evidently not associated with Jesus during his lifetime.

3. Why did someone have to die for my sins, I have not committed any sins, I have not killed anyone or broken the ten commandants.

The usual answer, of course, is to hold that all mankind is cursed with "original sin", i.e. that we all inherited a sinful nature from our forefather Adam. The moral and ethical issues raised by this blatantly false assertion are legion. For example: is it just of God to punish innocent people for the sins of their fathers? Is this not specifically forbidden by the Bible? If, as some people assert, we just inherit Adam's tendency toward a sinful nature, and not the sin itself, does this not mean that a person can be justified by leading an exemplary life? If so, what was the use of Jesus' sacrifice?

I often suspect that Christians rarely think deeply about the tenets they are expected to hold. If they did, the logical, moral and ethical flaws would quickly become evident.

4. And the big one, what kind of God issues ultimatums that society should live in fear that if they don't abide by his laws, they will burn in hell.

Coupled with this issue is the question of why God could not reveal himself in such a way that there would be no doubt about it? Surely if eternal punishment is looming for the unbeliever, God should at least be expected to make a reasonable attempt to ensure that non-believers are punished for their wrong-doing, and not for their ignorance, since the latter is obviously the fault of God himself.

Received: 3/7/99

My web site has predictions for the future:


Received: 3/1/99

I have something to add to the comments made in the article mentioned above. I have often seen Christians come into contact with apostates through usenet, and their standard tactic is to simply deny that the apostate was in full possession of all the facts and faiths that the believer holds. The 'He wasn't a real true Christian' argument. This allows the believer to retain the belief that nobody in full possession of the facts could deny the faith. He simply denies the apostate was in full possession of the facts.

You are absolutely correct. I have lost count of the number of times I have been told that I simply never had a relationship with Jesus, or that I refused to humble myself, or that I did not read the Bible with an "open mind", or that I have been blinded by the Devil, etc. It seems that believers are willing to go to almost any lengths to convince themselves that the apostate himself was somehow to blame for his "sin", rather than face the thought that the religious system itself might be flawed.

Received: 2/28/99

I found out about a prediction made by M. Aumont, from Dozulé (France). It's related with a series of "apparitions" that "occured" in the 70s.
You may be interested in checking the following link:
http://perso.club-internet.fr/dozule/indexus.html (frames)
and especially the following pages:
http://perso.club-internet.fr/dozule/messageus5.html (21st apparition)
(the pages are translated in english)

some say that the crosses they're building are intended to protect us from the end of the world (that some believe to be happening in the beginning of the new millennium...), so let's be prepared for a lot of BS: when the world doesn't end they'll probably say it was their crosses that saved us...

Received: 2/26/99

I just browsed your Doomsday List and had a lot of laughs with it -- Thanks!
I wanted to make a suggestion: you should indicate the birth year/death year of the authors of those predictions (if you have that info -- at least the century). It's totally different in terms of looniness is the person saying that is from this century of from the 17th (just to give an example). Thank you, once again!

I think that almost all of the inhabitants of the List come from this century. There are, of course, contless false predictions from millenia past, but I was aiming to catalog the current idiocy that pervades our society.

BTW, my birthday is at March 18th -- it's going to be a hell of a party, this year! ;o)

It would have been, but sadly, Ola cancelled Doomsday for this year, and rescheduled for April 6, 2000. Looks like we all get to live another year ;-)

Received: 2/25/99

I found your website.  I read your questions for the church.  As a Christian those are some tough questions which will never be answered to everyone's satisfaction.  A lot of those you are attacking theologians who do a poor job of teaching, but of course others there is no answer for.  Its like the man who asked to borrow a friend's shovel.  The man replied he couldn't loan his shovel to him because he was having beans for supper.  The man asked what that had to do with it, and he replied, "when you are looking for an excuse, any will do." 

Received: 2/24/99

You sure take a lot of your time to try and disprove the bible.  Voltar said that 100 years from his day no bibles would be published.  100 years later his house was bought and made into a publishing plant for bibles.  Have you ever imagined if Jesus was never born what type of world we would have?  Do you know that it were Christians who started many major universities such as Yale and Harvard?  Do you know Christians started public hospitals.  If you have an open mind you can obtain a book called "What if Jesus had never been born," by Dr. D. James Kennedy.  It is really enlightening. 

My feeling is that if Jesus had never been born, the world would be pretty much the same as it is today (except, perhaps, there would be a good many people who lived to old age, who would otherwise have been murdered during the Crusades, or the Inquisition, or the innumerable witch-hunts over the centuries). If Christianity had not existed, some other religion would have taken its place. In fact, Christianity came very close to extinction during the second and third centuries AD. Had it not been for one random twist of fate, I strongly believe, Christianity would have died out, and the Western world would probably be celebrating the birth of Mithra on December 25 (as the Romans did for centuries before Christianity hijacked the holiday).

On reading what you wrote, you took just about all of Jesus's sayings out of context.  The bottom line is this Jesus did not come to the world to condemn it but He came to save it and to bring hope into it.  I know many alcoholics and drug addicts who after they came to Jesus, He totally saved them from their addictions that were destroying their lives.  So if Jesus is the only lasting answer for peoples problem, why do you mock Him?  Perhaps your life has problems itself.  I would ask you do be open and give Jesus a try.  Ask Him into your heart and not just into your mind.  Once you have a relationship with Him the bible will start making sense.

For one thing, I really don't see that Jesus is "the only lasting answer for peoples problems". In fact, if anything, Christianity has caused far more problems for mankind than it has ever solved. It may be true that some people experience changed lives after becoming a Christian. The same is true of people who have embraced Islam, Mormonism, Jainism, or any of the host of other religions. In fact, I have known a good few people who have had their lives changed for the better after abandoning Christianity, or some other restrictive religion.

The fact is that some people need authority in their lives. They need to have a sense that someone out there knows all the answers, even if they personally do not. Far too many people are quite content to let someone else do their thinking for them. Then, there are some people who cannot live in such situations, and feel a need to think for themselves, to decide in their own minds what is true and false, what is good or evil. Such people are generally called "freethinkers", and it is to this latter group that I belong. No, there is nothing wrong with my life. I am perfectly happy the way that I am.

Your last statement is unfortunately the way that many people approach religion. They prefer not to think critically about their beliefs, and simply accept whatever their particular authority figure may proclaim as the "truth". It is such thinking that I am opposed to, and will continue to oppose, because it is my firm belief that uncritical and unreasoning thought has been one of the major forces behind much of the misery that has bedeviled mankind since time immemorial.

Received: 4/3/99 (in response to above)

Thanks for replying to my e-mail.  After reading what you have written, I would like to say that  "So called Christians," did do detestable things during the inquisition and the witch-hunts. However, just because someone says they are something doesn't mean they really are. 

True, but we really have no way of knowing what they really believed. The fact is that many of these people claimed to be Christian, and yet have gone down in history as examples of everything that is evil and monstrous about human nature. Since we have no way of knowing what they really thought, it is a little disingenuous to arbitrarily state that they were not "real" Christians. Also, one must remember that many of these atrocities were committed because these people thought that they were carrying out the Will of God. In this latter category we can place the Crusades, Inquisitions,Witch-hunts of both Europe and Salem, innumerable pogroms directed against the Jews, etc.

By the same token of course, we must note that many people who professed to be Atheist have committed equal or greater atrocities. I'll have more to say about this later, but it seems ironic that the record of Christianity is no better than that of Atheistic Totalitarian regimes.

If you see what Jesus talked about he never said to kill anyone or force people to do anything.  He came talking about peace, hope and love. 

Well, this was a part of his message, certainly. Unfortunately, he also included such questionable statements and deeds as the following:

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 10:34-37 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

John 2:14-15 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables...

Mark 11:13-14,20-21 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

The only thing we can say for sure is that Jesus' ethical teachings seemed to be somewhat ambiguous.

The fact that Christianity and Judaism have been around and will always be, is that it is not made up by man like all other religions.  They both are from God. 

By this token we must also grant divine status to Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, etc. All three of these systems are older than Christianity. Hinduism appears to be even older than Judaism itself.

No matter what any man says, whether he believes in God or not is irrelevant.  Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Castro etc, have all tried to burn the Bible, tried to force people to turn their backs to God but look at them now.  What legacy did they leave behind.  They promised so much but delivered a bloodbath, enslaved their own people and produced a holocaust.  The first things these leaders did was to promise great things and took away peoples liberty to worship God.

This is a good example of an anti-atheist bias. Due to the fact that these men were among history's most infamous murderers, you assume that they must be atheist. It may come as a surprise to you, but the most heinous of them all, Hitler, was a Christian. This fact should be documented in any biography of the man. Briefly, Hitler was born and raised a Catholic. He also had great admiration for his countryman, Martin Luther, who was as bigoted an anti-Semite as they come. Luther advocated murder of the Jews, both in print and word. It should therefore come as no surprise at all that Hitler on more than one occasion referred to his "final solution" as the fulfillment of God's Will.

As to they others, there is no dispute that these men advocated an atheist worldview. There is also no dispute that they committed grave crimes against humanity. Does this mean that all atheists are similarly morally bankrupt? Only if you agree that the deeds of Hitler and the Catholic Church also argue that all Christians are soulless murderers. I make no such statement. I am simply pointing out that the human rights abuses of the Christian Church are just as egregious as those of Atheistic regimes. Christianity appears to be no guarantee of moral rectitude.

There is another point to be made: both the Catholic Church (and other Christian groups responsible for similar atrocities) and the Communist regimes had another thing in common. Both placed absolute faith in an unproveable  assertion. In the case of the Catholics, they believed that God's authority rested in them. They had absolutely no proof whatsoever for this statement, but this did not prevent them from exercising that supposed authority against those that they deemed to be "heathen". Similarly, Marxist philosophy places all faith in the principles of Dialectical Materialism - a system as equally devoid of proof as Catholic "authority". Again, their unreasonable belief in this system led them to label all dissidents as enemies of the State, and to act against them accordingly.

The point of being a skeptic, as I am, is to realize that unless a principle can be backed by real proof, it is not worth believing. This applies no matter what the source of the alleged principle.

Every man or nation that turns their back to God will become a living Hell.  When absalute truth is taken out of a nation.  People run wild and that nation collapses.  It happened with Greece, Rome, Babylon, Assyria and the list goes on. 

Soon and very soon the same God that people mock will be spliting the eastern sky and coming back to earth to set up an everlasting government.  The first time Jesus came was as a baby in a manger, His second coming will be as a conquering King.  History and the futur has already been written.  It's only a matter of time for it to play out.

I'm afraid not. Jesus plainly stated that he would return for his followers within one generation. Many of the New Testament writers held the same opinion. Jesus did not return as he promised, and he is now two thousand years overdue, with no end in sight.

The only question I have for you Curt is what will you tell Jesus when you see Him face to face as a King?

That will never happen, of course. However, speaking hypothetically, I strongly suspect that if there was any sort of God, he would approve of humans using their divinely appointed logical minds to discern truth, rather than relying on blind faith.

To put your statement in perspective, I might as well ask you what you plan to say to Allah when he asks you why he should let you into paradise? Or, what do you plan to say to Osiris, when he judges your soul in the presence of Anubis to see if you are worthy to enter the afterlife? Do you see how ridiculous this sounds?

I guess we will have to just wait and see.

Indeed. However, in all likelihood, we won't "see" anything. If there is some sort of life after death, I'll be just as happy as the next person. If not, I suspect that I won't care all that much...

Received: 2/24/99

Yeah I'm a Christian and I'm offended by all your blasphemy.  Not really. I applaud the search for truth in all things, and if that leads you away from Christ, more power to you.  While getting all the facts and details straight isn't nearly as important in proving to me Christ's existence as the difference He's made in my life, I will humor you off the top of my head, and look into some of the other ones.

Basically, it seems that a lot of the inconsistencies are just trivialities in the text.  Though God inspired the test, he did not write it, and the focus of each writer is different (for instance, the two versions of the Christmas story).  That seems to support the age old rebuttal to the age old argument about Judas's death.  Naturally this can't be proven, but it is possible, and placing faith in the text, it would seem that it is recorded as such (without faith in the text how do I know all these documents [Bible, historical records, etc.] weren't printed up a year before I was Born?) 

This is actually the point that most of my debates end up banging against. My feeling is that there is nothing that absolutely proves that the Bible must be the Word of God, so one must exercise faith (as you said) in order to believe it. This is where I have a problem. If I am expected to exercise faith in the Bible, then why not the Koran or the Book of Mormon? The problem is that faith is subjective, almost by definition.

I really have no problem with someone who exercises faith in the Bible, provided that they understand that it is a subjective faith. As I have stated many times before, the problem comes in when a few people decide that what they believe is objectively true, and therefore that everyone else must believe it, or suffer the consequences. I realize that these represent the minority of believers, but they are fanatical enough to cause problems for everyone else, including more reasonable believers (like yourself, I trust).

As an example, many high school biology textbooks are still wary of using the  word "evolution" for fear of offending some people who have a very poor grasp on what science is and how if functions. This is a little like a geography textbook not referring to the spherical globe for fear of offending the Flat Earth Society. As a result, many high school students will never get a clear grasp of what biology is really about.

You also pointed out that most of the contradictions are "trivialities" in the text. While I agree with you for the most part, it still raises the question of why these discrepancies exist, trivial or not. Surely if God had indeed had a hand in writing the Bible, these things should not exist? What we are seeing is compatible with the theory that the Bible is simply a collection of books written by people who shared a more-or-less common belief, but differed on the details. There seems to be no place for the theory of inspiration anywhere.

Another thing that would go along with that is what is written on the Cross.  Not even accounting for what was lost in translation (assume none) they are superficial differences at best.  Only one of the four gospel writers was present that day, and they all record is accurately, if not verbatim. 

Well, I'm not sure that we can even state that one of the gospel writers were present with any certainty. Again, the difference in wording is probably trivial, but it does raise some interesting questions, as I pointed out above.

Another thing is the Abraham works/faith thing.  I'd be interesting in looking at the original text of these passages (it wouldn't do much help, since I don't speak Greek, but :))  The word Justify seems the only stumbling block.  James was intent upon the good works that are the proof of Christ in us.  So he saw Abraham's act as a sign of his faith, and proclaimed it as justified.  But Paul didn't emphasize the act itself but the faith it symbolized.  To Paul, the works would have been for Abraham to offer Issac as an offering to God.  God didn't want that to justify Abraham, all He wanted was faith.

The word translated "justify" is the same in both passages. Whether each author meant it in the same sense is another question, of course, and one that we will probably never know the answer to. Again, the question is this: if God had indeed provided the salvation of mankind, and if it was indeed imperative that we must believe in order to be saved, then why is the path of salvation so confusingly presented? The fact that there are so many different interpretations is beyond dispute - there are literally thousands of Christian sects, all of whom put a slightly different spin on the question of Salvation. If it were so important, however, why did God not simply present the message in such a way that it could not be misunderstood?

I dunno.  Another thing is that the Bible, while imperitive to Christianity, is not the only sign of it.  If the Bible had never existed, Christ's teachings would still live on, thanks to the work of Paul and Peter and the early church. Christ and the fruit that can be produced by a relationship with Him is the ultimate proof.   If you were able to leave the relationship with Him by figuring out a few superficial errors with your Bible, maybe the relationship was never really there to begin with.

Well, if that were true, then there are millions of Christians today who also mistakenly think that they have a relationship with Christ. The fact is that I felt the same emotions, went through the same rituals, and believed much the same things that many Christians do. There really is no difference between myself back then, and believers today. The only real difference is that at one point I decided that if Christianity were the One True Religion, then it should be obvious from a cursory study. But such a study failed to turn up any such evidence. Instead, I found that the way that Christians believe, and the manner in which they defend those beliefs, and the experiences of the Divine that they present are really no different from a person of completely different religion.

Again, I have the upmost respect for you and your decision.  I just got through with a debate with a woman who thought that every word I typed was a personal affront to her, and I didn't intend it as such then, I don't now.  Thanks for your time.

Received: 2/22/99

I found you page very informative.

I am a Muslim and Muslims believe that nobody know exactly the when is Doomsday. But, before it comes there will too many signs and some of them are happening these days. Also, we believe that a great leader (Imam)  sent by god will get rid of all injustices in the world.

My personal feeling is that if Doomsday does indeed come, it will either be the result of some natural force (such as an asteroid), or as a result of human meddling (biological agents, nuclear weapons).

Since I don't believe in any supernatural forces, I suspect that the chances of mass human extinction will remain small.

Received: 2/22/99

Here is the link to a page from another religious weirdo who says that underground supplies of natural gas are going to explode and burn the US "off the map".  Although I couldn't find a specific date on the site, someone posted the following message to alt.religion.mormon that says it will happen by this summer:

"If you want to know the Truth about what is going on, please read the report of the prophet, BANDS, one of The Lord's 2 requisite witnesses to a doomed nation."

"If you wish to know why The Almighty is about to burn the North American continent off the face of the earth...by summer, 1999....this is a must read."

Received: 2/20/99

Your list of Book of Mormon name origins is fascinating, to say the least.  I noted a number of additional correlations which might be of interest to you. You will notice immediately that many relate to Greek Mythology.

* Manti = Mantis Greek word for Prophet
* Siron = Siren Greek Mythology, a Sea Nymph
* Neas = Aeneas Greek Mythology; see Virgil's Aeneid
* Amulon = Amulet
* Mulek = Molech (see Lev 18:21; I Kings 11:17;  II Kings 23:10)
* Minon = Minos Greek Mythology, a King of Crete (Also, Minoan)
* Pachus = Pascha Greek;  in New Testament, the Passover
* Jeneum = Jinni (?) Muslim folklore, a class of demons (see Genie)
* Moriantum = Morion A variety of quartz

Evidently, Joseph Smith was reading quite a bit of Greek Mythology at the time of writing the Book of Mormon, or so it would appear from just a few of these name correlations.  I have not read the Book of Mormon through (only particular verses), and am curious if any story lines follow those of Greek Mythology.  Perhaps this is a source to go along with A View of the Hebrews?

I have not noticed any particular connections between the storyline of the BoM and any of the Greek legends. It is always possible that Smith had read some Greek mythology in a local library, and incorporated some of the names into the BoM.

I think that what this exercise proves is that there are any number of different sources that Smith could have used to produce the names that pepper the Book of Mormon. This means that the existence of so many "new" names in the BoM cannot be used as proof of its authenticity, as so many apologists have claimed.

Received: 2/15/99

I read a bit of your story and have to disagree where you mention that the Bible has  no mention of God revealing himself through nature.  Read Romans the first chapter,  Paul very clearly describes how God has revealed himself to all men so they are without excuse, he reveals himself in a way that's unavoidable and unmistakable.

Actually, I was already aware of Romans 1. What I was referring to was the fact that some Christians attempt to get around the problem of those who have never heard by stating that God will provide salvation for the unpreached by his revelation through nature. Such a concept is not found in the Bible.

As to the words of St Paul, obviously I disagree. Creation reveals nothing other than that it exists. It tells us very little about the existence or non-existence of God. What we do find from a close examination, however, is that there is nothing about the natural world that requires a supernatural explanation. If God did indeed reveal himself through his creation, he certainly seems to have gone out of his way to fool us into thinking he does not exist.

He reveals himself in every single one of your sensory experiences that you appeal to to try and prove that he doesn't exist.  He reveals himself in the very fact that you are trying to argue and debate because without him the world we live in is just matter in motion, things happen and that's it. It makes no rational sense for an unbeliever to complain about death and suffering in a world where people are nothing more than molecules in motion, period.

Why not? The fact that this is the only life that any of us will ever get is all the more reason to oppose injustice, cruelty and tyranny. True, in several billion years the universe will cool to nothing, and all life will inevitably perish. But, here and now, we should live for the moment. Life is a rare and precious gift. Enjoy it while you can, because there is nothing after.

And don't give me any of that nonsense about man discovering values, or morals being part of the ecosystem to susain our species.

I'm not going to "give you" anything. I'm simply going to ask you to provide some proof for your thesis that morality or ethics derive from God. You will quickly find that there is not such proof. So why should I believe it?

You'll just end up appealing to things that are not matter in motion, emotion driven claims.  And the Bible has literally tons of evidence in artifacts and excellent credentials as a text to stand on it's own two feet where the Book of Mormon has none.

Well, this is true, but as I so often point out, so what? I never claimed that the Bible was a total fabrication. I am well aware that large parts of the Bible reflect real history. But this in no way compels us to accept that its message (what ever that may be - opinions vary) is true.

Received: 2/14/99

The Holy Spirit reveals to men and women the truth
that you say you strive to prove; however, we are saved by faith!  You have rejected this for your eternity. OK.  I do understand people like a crowd, hell won’t be lonely for you, continue to try to mislead others. There are some things that are unforgivable, of which you may be guilty.
Christ is the only way.
According to you, If God had not allowed Christ to sacrifice himself for you and I - there would be no true definition of love.

Honestly, I tried, but I really have no idea what that last sentence is supposed to mean. Can you elucidate?  

As for my going to Hell, I'm afraid that I won't be able to give you the pleasure. There is no such place, of course. How do I know that? Well, the Bible says so.  

Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 I also thought, "As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"  

Ecclesiastes 9:2-6 All share a common destiny--the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them. This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. Anyone who is among the living has hope --even a live dog is better off than a dead lion! For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.  

Received: 2/12/99

You sound like an ex-comunicated member with a lot of time.  The page looks nice though.  Remember the quote of Brigham Young "When ever you kick a Mormon, he never falls downstairs, he always falls up.  The harder they fight against us the stronger we become."

Actually, I never was LDS. Mormonism is something of a hobby ;-)

As to having too much time on my hands, I only wish that were true.

Received: 2/11/99

I have a website with predictions: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2360

Received: 2/7/99

You have asked many questions.  I will, for now, answer just one.  If you really want to know more Truth, with God's help, I intend to answer every single question you have.  You referenced Joseph's father.  You state that one account says Joseph's father was Jacob (and humanly speaking this is correct).  You assume that Heli, in the Greek, means someone other than Jacob and you are also correct.  Your conclusion, however, is in error. Heli (Eli in the Hebrew) was INDEED Joseph's Father.  Eli is a well known Aramaic word for God.  Remember what Jesus said on the cross?  "Eli, Eli...".  He was talking to His Father, my Father, and though you deny it your Father.

The only problem is that this would then make Matthat (see Luke 3:24) the father of God. Somehow, I doubt very much that this was the impression that the author of Luke wished to convey. Try again.

Received: 2/3/99

The Prince of Wales banner is NOT a red dragon- it is a red Griffon. Head of a bird, body of a lion, bird claws for feet.  Where do they come up with these stupidities, regarding those who claim to have scoped out the antichrist.?

Thanks for the info. To answer your question, it has been my experience that many believers try not to let the facts stand in the way of an exciting story.

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