Sye ten Bruggencate: The turd that won’t flush

Bungle, out of Rainbow

Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. You pull the chain to send your little brown bombs to the beach, and just as you’re washing your hands, up floats Bungle’s finger. So you wait for the cistern to refill, and pile on a few extra pages of blog roll, pull the chain, and “Eureka! It’s gone!”

Would that it were so easy with $ye. Like a buildup of pungent effluent, in the lavs outside Hardwick shops, the King of wishful thinking is evolving into a new species of bacteria, and becoming the massive cult leader we always knew he had ambitions of achieving. And by massive, I mean analogous to a three day buildup of chicken jalfrezi, post oesophagus.

After PZ Myers and reddit.com picked up on the story, surrounding his illegal use of our content in a promotional video for his up-coming DVD release, tentatively entitled ‘I don’t know jack shit, and neither do you’, the $yentologists went into Bachman Turner Overdrive; leaping to his defence, and all without seeming to know anything at all about the actual depth of his lies.

Crown Rights, who think they’re going to release a DVD containing media which isn’t theirs to commercially exploit, under the Creative Commons Licence attached to all Fundamentally Flawed works, started posting on their Facebook about the article on reddit and PZ’s kind intervention. Pretty soon people who hadn’t read the details of the story, started commenting on the said Facebook post.

Among the usual flurry of “atheists are so hateful” and “sounds to me like they’re scared” gibberish, one Michael Alan Guilford had the simple honesty to point out that our grievance has nothing whatsoever to do with “hating God” but that $ye ten Buggerface was using something he was specifically told he didn’t have permission to use, and had simply lied about when he was told these specifics, and why he was told them.

What, do you think, L. Wrong Cupboard’s response to this was? Did he point Mr. Guilford towards the evidence he repeatedly claims to have, that he is allowed to commercially exploit our content without our permission? Did he respectfully suggest Michael look at things from another point of view perhaps? No. No he didn’t. He suggested, instead, that he would be angry if his brother in Christ; his customer in waiting, who had already bent over backwards to make clear that he was himself a bible believing Christian who meant no offence to $ye; he would be “angry” if it turned out that Michael was a “child molester”.

That’s right folks, if you dare to question circular $ye’s basic honesty, with regard to something he is provably wrong about, and for which you have publicly available documentation to back up, you’re the one who needs to change your mind and ignore the facts. Not $ye. No. YOU are the one who is wrong. $ycophant $ye is never in the wrong.

Don’t take my word for it. Here are the screenshots:

Crown Rights are clearly a group in need of a leader. Ironically, $ye was the natural selection. It’s rumoured that his arrival was foretold; that he would come like a thief in the night, to pilfer other people’s content and lie about where he “found it”, so that the single digit IQ brigade, or as $ye calls them his brothers and sisters in Christ, can self-confirm their preexisting opinions about him, and his “ministry”, and what it is exactly that he claims to have proof of, but refuses to ever demonstrate.

Let’s just remind ourselves, for a moment, of the love and devotion to the truth which these clodpate can enjoy under $ye’s tutelage — and doubt no further what $ausage ten Baguette’s actual motives really are.

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David Fitzgerald: Examining the Existence of a Historical Jesus

Bible scholars the world over have long known about the many discrepancies and contradictions in the bible. And while your common-or-garden parish priest can at least fallback on the argument that it’s all somewhat above his pay grade, to inform his flock about these facts, his superiors in the church have no such luxury.

We regularly have guests on the podcast who seem surprisingly untroubled by the notion that the very experts upon whom they ultimately rely, when they begin their screed with the sentence “Jesus said…”, are in total agreement with one another on some startling facts, surrounding the basic Jesus story.

For instance, the fact that Saul of Tarsus never writes about the life of a physical human being, but refers only to Jesus as a spirit, and that most of his letters are provable forgeries. Or that Mathew and Mark’s gospels are almost completely contradicted by that of John’s, and that all three borrow from Luke, who borrowed from Josephus, whose only reference to Jesus in his 1st century tome “Antiquities of the Jews” is acknowledged the world over as a fake by every bible scholar outside of those tied to Americanised evangelicalism.

A possible reason for their apparent lack of concern for these facts, is that many apologists share one very telling trait; that no amount of evidence and reasoned argument can trump the faith card. Their inability to see what is completely obvious to everyone else; that believing something and proving something are two completely different things — enables them to split their brain in two, and hold completely contradictory opinions on certain matters, while believing that this is itself a component of faith; that it is not for mere humans to understand the ways of a god they only believe in because they are compelled to by the very biblical text which has been so resoundingly falsified.

The game of switcheroo they must then play, when presented with these facts, has become so heavily steeped in loaded terminology, that when they find themselves in need of an answer to an awkward question from an atheist friend, they dive headfirst into a pool of sounds-like-an-answer-but-isn’t-an-answer religious in-speak, without paying any mind as to where their words are actually coming from. Their very eagerness to avoid such questions, and get back onto a topic they think they know, has the rather amusing effect of highlighting how little they actually understand about their own religion.

Of those Christian scholars who have thought to make basic enquiries, for example into the efforts made throughout the centuries to solve some of the bible’s many contradictions, many have started out as evangelical warriors for Jesus, on a mission to convert the world to Christianity and send the atheists packing. Few of them have remained as certain of their belief that Jesus was the creator of the universe in human form, once the problems thrown up by their own investigations begin to pile up.

One well known example of this, is the author Bart Ehrman, who began as a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, and found himself writing a number of best selling books, on his journey towards agnosticism, including ‘Misquoting Jesus’, ‘God’s Problem’, and ‘Jesus, Interrupted’. Each of these books are an excellent read, but they rely heavily on the real nitty gritty of the academic process; the near endless lists of ancient historians with almost impossible to pronounce names and political axes to grind, which tends to make Ehrman’s books a little heavy going, once you get beyond the opening chapters.

David Fitzgerald takes a different approach. In his book ‘Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All’, he enumerates the origin of ten myths, commonly associated with the Jesus story, and traces their lineage throughout the early Christian movement.

In the below video, David talks us through a brief overview of his work, by way of a few example passages from the bible, which Christian apologists continue to use when debating with the non-religious, despite that they’re provably false.

While he’s clearly nervous addressing a large audience, some of Fitzgerald’s set-ups are among the clearest explanations of certain biblical contradictions I’ve yet to hear, and I look forward to a healthy comment thread, once the usual crowd have either turned off their caps-lock key, or run out of ways to try and change the subject.

Enjoy!

Did Jesus Really Exist?

jesus-thumps-up1The purpose of this post is to expand the on-going debate from an older blog posting, in which many constructive ideas and explanations were bounced around as to the historical verisimilitude of the Jesus story.

Armchair theologians are fond of recalling nuggets of received opinion that stand as unqualified proof that the Jesus of the new testament was a living, breathing single individual who really did perform miracles and preside over a ministry as not only detailed in scripture, but in the narrative of ancient historians such as Josephus.

These third party sources are widely sighted as corroborative proof that Jesus and the Nazarene, as a distinct organised group violently opposed to Roman rule, to which Jesus belonged, were known to and written about by independently reliable sources of information vouchsafed by references made in their extended works to other figures from antiquity, such as various Roman Caesars.

To that end, commentary from Nick, in what I have to say is one of the most succinct explanations of why these historical reference points are not to be considered as the hard evidence of Jesus’ existence as they are often said to be, asserted the following:

Most of the scholarly works on the Testimonium Flavianum agree that it is either partly inauthentic or wholly inauthentic. Origen was clearly familiar with the Antiquities, and writes about a far less significant brief possible allusion to Jesus via James, and yet he not only makes no mention of the Testimonium passage, he further characterizes Josephus as not believing in Jesus the Christ–totally inconsistent with the transcriptions of the Testimonium we now have. Indeed, we don’t have any reference at all to the Testimonium passage from any of the early church fathers until Eusebius, writing about three centuries after the supposed time of Jesus. So 1) the authenticity of the passage is highly suspect. 2) Even if it had been authentic, it would have been written decades after the time of Jesus, based on, at best, second-hand information taken from unreferenced sources of unknown reliability. And 3) As the story goes, the creator of a vast cosmos of (at least) a hundred billion galaxies comes to our tiny speck (after a few billion years) and actually lives among us for a while. Given the limitless power at his disposal, why are we having to scratch for a pathetic few highly-suspect crumbs of transcriptions of second-hand stories written long after the fact? Does that really sound like the modus operandi of a god? If he came to this planet to reveal himself, why did he do so in a secretive way that leaves behind the exact same lack of hard evidence that we typically have for personages of myth?

You can read the rest of Nick’s reply here, but PRETTY PLEASE WITH A CHERRY ON TOP reply in this comment block and not the original Greg Koukl thread linked here–which is too long and off-topic already. Thanks!

Is Ben Stein dangerously brainwashed or just drawn that way?

In this comment, Kim linked to a story over on friendlyatheist which links to a video on a Christian broadcasting site showing an interview with Ben Stein, who’s film on so-called Intelligent Design is the latest attempt to legitimise “teach the controversy”, in the war against reason and truth in our classrooms.

I did intend to screen-rip the video so I could post it in a more accessible format to YouTube or Google video, but I got 5 minutes into the interview and had to walk away for a moment, so as not to inflict some serious damage on my computer.

These people are frightening. I’ve never seen such blatant lies dressed up as serious debate in my life. What on Earth are we going to do to help these strangers in our midst wake up?

Truth be told, I was considering walking away from posting any heavy duty blog entries for a while, because – well – summer is upon us here in the North of England and Satan only knows it’ll only last a couple of short weeks, so I had planned on spending as much of that time as possible with Lucy, mine hotty, rather than stuck in front of the computer.

But, the other day, I was up at my son’s school and while I was waiting in reception I noticed that the school magazine was riddled with references to doing things “the Christian way” and it sent a shiver down my spine.

Without going into the whole long and complicated reasons as to why I’d never realised his school had a leaning in this direction before, it did sit on my mind for a day or two and bring home the frightening fact that this isn’t just one of those wacky yank things we Europeans find strangely endearing about you guys across the pond; it’s happening everywhere and it is really super scary.

In the opening remarks of the Stein interview, he asserts that the scientific method rules out the possibility of understand how life on Earth originated from a supernatural perspective; the complexity of the cell and how the planets stay in their orbit. You can’t make this stuff up, but – seriously – the guy interviewing him, actually nodded in agreement. Someone really should buy these people some grade school science books that haven’t been written in the body of Christ (up his sacred arse hole presumably).

Of course, Stein knows full well that these are in fact exactly the very subjects which science is interested in. He knows that by simply making up his argument as he goes along (rather like Joseph Smith) he’ll raise enough hackles in the real world, so as to appear vindicated in concluding his film’s overarching theme, that no one is allowed to challenge Darwin’s fact of evolution through natural selection, without being branded dangerous and either fired from their job or shunned in some other way because of it.

We normal folk, who wouldn’t dream of clinging to a belief that has been proven false, should recoil in horror every time we encounter someone who forces themselves, or is being forced by others, to act opposite to the entirely human instinct to trust what we can prove truthful. The very ability to think logically and reasonably like this, requires a great deal of faith in oneself; that being on your own (metaphorically speaking) is no bad thing.

Because there are no other voices in your head, unless you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, engaging in that internal dialogue between what we want to say and what we feel, we can be sure that our thoughts are our own. But what about the terminally Christian? I wonder how their brains divide, from a numerate functioning point of view, between what they know to be true and what they’re telling themselves is true, despite the many contradictions which ordinary people see so clearly?

Unfortunately, an answer to that is probably very difficult to definitively find; since the vocabulary of religious indoctrination pre-programs theists to see their own will as the will of an exterior supervisor and not, in fact, from their own head. Dan Dennett, in his book ‘breaking the spell’ suggest that certain people are more likely to actually physically and emotionally need religion for some very good evolutionary reasons.

I’ve written before about the idea of Cro-Magnon man instinctively knowing not to go into the cave after dark; there are bears and wolves. And professor Dawkins’ book ‘The ancestors tale’ was hugely insightful in this area in comparing it to other possible explanations for how we developed the instinct to trust certain of our senses more than others, millions of years before we were even remotely capable of forming complex thoughts about our origins through verbally handed down creation myth and folklore.

But I’ve yet to find anything (which I’d appreciate links and comments for) on the study into the religious brain and how so many billions of devoutly mislead people, manage to live a relatively normal life, despite having no higher functioning mind of their own.

Perhaps they’re the Ben Stein’s of this world? Perfectly capable of chewing and walking at the same time; even managing to string sentences together with fairly complicated words in them, not just for their own lips to form, but for the lips of others as well. And yet utterly incapable at the same time, of having any real perspective on anything at all, even for a single second – which is all it would take if they gave themselves that second, to have a hand to forehead moment at the utter shite that comes out when they speak without thinking.