Alt.Atheism Frequently Asked Questions Introduction This document contains responses to po

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Alt.Atheism Frequently Asked Questions Introduction This document contains responses to points which have been brought up repeatedly in the Usenet newsgroup alt.atheism. Points covered here are ones which are not covered in the "Introduction to Atheism" document; you are advised to read that article as well before posting to the newsgroup. These answers are not intended to be exhaustive or definitive. The purpose of FAQ documents is not to stifle debate, but to raise its level. If you have something to say concerning one of these questions and which isn't covered by the answer given, please feel free to make your point in the newsgroup. Overview of contents: What is the purpose of the alt.atheism newsgroup? Adolf Hitler was an atheist! The Bible proves it Pascal's Wager (Why God is a safe bet) Lord, Liar or Lunatic? What is Occam's Razor? Why it's good to believe in Jesus Why I know that God exists Einstein and "God does not play dice" Everyone worships something Why there must be a causeless cause The universe is so complex it must have been designed Independent evidence that the Bible is true Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem George Bush on atheism and patriotism I know where hell is! Biblical contradictions wanted The USA is a Christian nation/state The USA is not a Christian nation/state How come nobody has answered this point? The Bible says 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'... What does "xian" mean? The Bible says pi is 3! What is the purpose of the alt.atheism newsgroup? "Why have a newsgroup about atheism? Why do atheists organize in groups? What is there to discuss?" Many things are discussed in alt.atheism, including: Whether it is reasonable to pretend to be religious in order to avoid upsetting one's family Prayer in schools Discrimination against atheists Sunday trading laws The Satanic Child Abuse myth Whether one should be an overt atheist or 'stay in the closet' How religious societies prey (sic) on new college students How to get rid of unwanted proselytizers Whether religion is a danger to society and/or the individual Why people become atheists Of course, inevitably alt.atheism tends to attract evangelical Christians looking for someone to convert. Most readers of the newsgroup don't want to be preached to, although a few seem to derive perverse pleasure from tearing apart particularly ill-considered or uninformed postings. Adolf Hitler was an atheist! "Hitler was an atheist, and look at what he did!" Adolf Hitler was emphatically not an atheist. As he said himself: The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. [original italics] For God's will gave men their form, their essence, and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will. Therefore, let every man be active, each in his own denomination if you please, and let every man take it as his first and most sacred duty to oppose anyone who in his activity by word or deed steps outside the confines of his religious community and tries to butt into the other. [...] Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. [original italics] -- Adolf Hitler, from "Mein Kampf", translation by Ralph Mannheim. Hitler certainly appears to have been a theist, and claimed to be a Christian: The Fuhrer made it known to those entrusted with the Final Solution that the killings should be done as humanely as possible. This was in line with his conviction that he was observing God's injunction to cleanse the world of vermin. Still a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite detestation of its hierarchy ("I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so" [quoting Hitler]), he carried within him its teaching that the Jew was the killer of God. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of God -- so long as it was done impersonally, without cruelty. -- John Toland (Pulitzer Prize winner), from "Adolf Hitler", pp 507, talking about the Autumn of 1941. The "I am now as before a Catholic..." quotation from Hitler was recorded in the diary of Gerhard Engel, an SS Adjutant, in October 1941. Hitler was speaking in private, not before a mass audience, and so it is difficult to dismiss the comment as propaganda lies. Of course, someone bad believing something does not make that belief wrong. It's also entirely possible that Hitler was lying when he claimed to believe in God. We certainly can't conclude that he's an atheist, though. The Bible proves it "In the Bible it says that..." Most atheists feel that the Bible is of questionable accuracy, as it was written thousands of years ago by many authors who were recording oral tradition that existed many years before. Thus, any claimed 'truth' in it is of questionable legitimacy. This isn't to say that The Bible has no truth in it; simply that any truth must be examined before being accepted. Many atheists also feel that because any passage is subject to "interpretation", any claim that a passage 'means' one thing and one thing only is not legitimate. Note that this feeling tends to extend to other books. It is also remarkable to many atheists that theists tend to ignore other equally plausible religious books in favour of those of their own religion. Pascal's Wager (God is a safe bet) "If you believe in God and turn out to be incorrect, you have lost nothing -- but if you don't believe in God and turn out to be incorrect, you will go to hell. Therefore it is foolish to be an atheist." This argument is known as Pascal's Wager. It has several flaws. Firstly, it does not indicate which religion to follow. Indeed, there are many mutually exclusive and contradictory religions out there. This is often described as the "avoiding the wrong hell" problem. If a person is a follower of one religion, he may end up in another religion's version of hell. Secondly, the statement that "If you believe in God and turn out to be incorrect, you have lost nothing" is not true. Suppose you're believing in the wrong God -- the true God might punish you for your foolishness. Consider also the deaths that have resulted from people rejecting medicine in favour of prayer. Another flaw in the argument is that it is based on the assumption that the two possibilities are equally likely -- or at least, that they are of comparable likelihood. If, in fact, the possibility of there being a God is close to zero, the argument becomes much less persuasive. So sadly the argument is only likely to convince those who believe already. Also, many feel that for intellectually honest people, belief is based on evidence, with some amount of intuition. It is not a matter of will or cost-benefit analysis. Formally speaking, the argument consists of four statements: 1. One does not know whether God exists. 2. Not believing in God is bad for one's eternal soul if God does exist. 3. Believing in God is of no consequence if God does not exist. 4. Therefore it is in one's interest to believe in God. There are two approaches to the argument. The first is to view Statement 1 as an assumption, and Statement 2 as a consequence of it. One problem with this approach, in the abstract, is that it creates information from no information. This is considered invalid in information theory. Statement 1 indicates one has no information about God -- but Statement 2 indicates that beneficial information can be gained from the absolute lack of information about God. This violates information entropy -- information has been extracted from no information, at no "cost". The alternative approach is to claim that Statements 1 and 2 are both assumptions. The problem with this is that Statement 2 is then basically an assumption which states the Christian position, and only a Christian will agree with that assumption. The argument thus collapses to "If you are a Christian, it is in your interests to believe in God" -- a rather vacuous tautology, and not the way Pascal intended the argument to be viewed. The biggest reason why Pascal's wager is a failure is that if God is omniscient he will certainly know who really believes and who believes as a wager. He will spurn the latter... assuming he actually cares at all whether people believe in him. Lord, Liar or Lunatic? "Did Jesus exist? If not, then there's not much to talk about. If he did, he called himself Lord. This means that either: He was Lord, He was a liar, or He was a lunatic. It's unlikely he was a liar, given his morals as described in the Bible, and his behaviour doesn't sound like that of a lunatic. So surely we must conclude that he was Lord?" Firstly, note that this argument hinges on the assumption that Jesus did in fact exist. This is at least debatable. Secondly, the argument attempts a logical fallacy which we might call "trifurcation", by analogy with "bifurcation" (see the Constructing a Logical Argument FAQ). That is, the argument attempts to restrict us to three possibilities, when in fact there are many more. Two of the more likely alternatives are: 1. He was misquoted in the Bible, and did not claim to be Lord. 2. The stories about him were made up, or embroidered with fictitious material by the early Christians. Note that in the New Testament, Jesus does not say that he is God. The claim was first made after the death of Jesus and his twelve disciples. Finally, note that the possibility that he was a "lunatic" is not easily discountable. Even today in the western world there are numerous people who have managed to convince hundreds or thousands of followers that they are the Lord or his One True Prophet. People like L. Ron Hubbard, Sun Myung Moon, Jim Jones and David Koresh continue to peddle their divinity. In more superstitious countries, there are literally hundreds of present-day messiahs. What is Occam's Razor? "People keep talking about Occam's Razor. What is it?" William of Occam formulated a principle which has become known as Occam's Razor. In its original form, it said "Do not multiply entities unnecessarily." That is, if you can explain something without supposing the existence of some entity, then do so. Nowadays when people refer to Occam's Razor, they often express it more generally, for example as "Take the simplest solution". The relevance to atheism is that we can look at two possible explanations for what we see around us: There is an incredibly intricate and complex universe out there, which came into being as a result of natural processes. There is an incredibly intricate and complex universe out there, and there is also a God who created the universe. Clearly this God must be of non-zero complexity. Given that both explanations fit the facts, Occam's Razor might suggest that we should take the simpler of the two -- solution number one. Unfortunately, some argue that there is a third even more simple solution: There isn't an incredibly intricate and complex universe out there. We just imagine that there is. This third option leads us logically towards solipsism, which many people find unacceptable. Why it's good to believe in Jesus "I want to tell people about the virtues and benefits of my religion." Preaching is not appreciated. Feel free to talk about your religion, but please do not write postings that are on a "conversion" theme. Such postings do not belong on alt.atheism and will be rejected from alt.atheism.moderated (try the newsgroup talk.religion.misc). You would doubtless not welcome postings from atheists to your favourite newsgroup in an attempt to convert you; please do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Often theists make their basic claims about God in the form of lengthy analogies or parables. Be aware that atheists have heard of God and know the basic claims about him; if the sole purpose of your parable is to tell atheists that God exists and brings salvation, you may as well not post it, since it tells us nothing we have not been told before. Why I know that God exists "I know from personal experience and prayer that God exists." Just as many theists have personal evidence that the being they worship exists, so many atheists have personal evidence that such beings do not exist. That evidence varies from person to person. Furthermore, without wishing to dismiss your evidence out of hand, many people have claimed all kinds of unlikely things -- that they have been abducted by UFOs, visited by the ghost of Elvis, and so on. Einstein and "God does not play dice" "Albert Einstein believed in God. Do you think you're cleverer than him?" Einstein did once comment that "God does not play dice [with the universe]". This quotation is commonly mentioned to show that Einstein believed in the Christian God. Used this way, it is out of context; it refers to Einstein's refusal to accept the uncertainties indicated by quantum theory. Furthermore, Einstein's religious background was Jewish rather than Christian. A better quotation showing what Einstein thought about God is the following: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings." Einstein was unable to accept Quantum Theory because of his belief in an objective, orderly reality; a reality which would not be subject to random events and which would not be dependent upon the observer. He believed that QM was incomplete, and that a better theory would have no need for statistical interpretations. So far no such better theory has been found, and much evidence suggests that it never will be. A longer quote from Einstein appears in "Science, Philosophy, and Religion, A Symposium", published by the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, Inc., New York, 1941. In it he says: The more a man is imbued with the ordered regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted [italics his], in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am convinced that such behavior on the part of representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress. In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope which in the past placed such vast power in the hands of priests. In their labors they will have to avail themselves of those forces which are capable of cultivating the Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself. This is, to be sure, a more difficult but an incomparably more worthy task... Einstein has also said: It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. The latter quote is from "Albert Einstein: The Human Side", edited by Helen Dukas and Banesh Hoffman, and published by Princeton University Press. Also from the same book: I do not believe in immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it. Of course, the fact that Einstein chose not to believe in Christianity does not in itself imply that Christianity is false. Everyone worships something "Everyone worships something, whether it's money, power or God." If that is true, everyone is a polytheist. Theists care just as much about those things that atheists care about. If the atheists' reactions to (for example) their families amount to worship then so do the theists'. Why there must be a causeless cause "Sets of integers that have a lower bound each have a smallest member, so chains of causes must all have a first element, a causeless cause." The set of real numbers greater than zero has a definite lower bound, but has no smallest member. Further, even if it is true that there must be a causeless cause, that does not imply that that cause must be a conscious supernatural entity, and especially not that any such entity must match the description favoured by any particular religion. The universe is so complex it must have been designed "The presence of design in the universe proves there is a God. Surely you don't think all this appeared here just by chance?" This is known as the Argument From Design. It is a matter of dispute whether there is any element of design in the universe. Those who believe that the complexity and diversity of living creatures on the earth is evidence of a creator are best advised to read the newsgroup talk.origins for a while. There is insufficient space to summarize both sides of that debate here. However, the conclusion is that there is no scientific evidence in favour of so-called Scientific Creationism. Furthermore, there is much evidence, observation and theory that can explain many of the complexities of the universe and life on earth. The origin of the Argument by Design is a feeling that the existence of something as incredibly intricate as, say, a human is so improbable that surely it can't have come about by chance; that surely there must be some external intelligence directing things so that humans come from the chaos deliberately. But if human intelligence is so improbable, surely the existence of a mind capable of fashioning an entire universe complete with conscious beings must be immeasurably more unlikely? The approach used to argue in favour of the existence of a creator can be turned around and applied to the Creationist position. This leads us to the familiar theme of "If a creator created the universe, what created the creator?", but with the addition of spiralling improbability. The only way out is to declare that the creator was not created and just "is" (or "was"). From here we might as well ask what is wrong with saying that the universe just "is" without introducing a creator? Indeed Stephen Hawking, in his book "A Brief History of Time", explains his theory that the universe is closed and finite in extent, with no beginning or end. The Argument From Design is often stated by analogy, in the so-called Watchmaker Argument. One is asked to imagine that one has found a watch on the beach. Does one assume that it was created by a watchmaker, or that it evolved naturally? Of course one assumes a watchmaker. Yet like the watch, the universe is intricate and complex; so, the argument goes, the universe too must have a creator. The Watchmaker analogy suffers from three particular flaws, over and above those common to all Arguments By Design. Firstly, a watchmaker creates watches from pre-existing materials, whereas God is claimed to have created the universe from nothing. These two sorts of creation are clearly fundamentally different, and the analogy is therefore rather weak. Secondly, a watchmaker makes watches, but there are many other things in the world. If we walked further along the beach and found a nuclear reactor, we wouldn't assume it was created by the watchmaker. The argument would therefore suggest a multitude of creators, each responsible for a different part of creation (or a different universe, if you allow the possibility that there might be more than one). Finally, in the first part of the watchmaker argument we conclude that the watch is not part of nature because it is ordered, and therefore stands out from the randomness of nature. Yet in the second part of the argument, we start from the position that the universe is obviously not random, but shows elements of order. The Watchmaker argument is thus internally inconsistent. Independent evidence that the Bible is true "The events of the New Testament are confirmed by independent documentary evidence. For example..." The writings of Josephus are often mentioned as independent documentary evidence. Early versions of Josephus's work are thought not to have mentioned Jesus or James; the extant version discusses John in a non-Christian context. Many scholars believe that the original mentioned Jesus and James in passing, but that this was expanded by Christian copyists. Several "reconstructions" of the original text have been published to this effect. Much information appears in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius (about 320 C.E.). It is worthless as historical material because of the deliberate falsification of the wily Eusebius who is generally acknowledged as 'the first thoroughly dishonest historian of antiquity.' It is Eusebius who is generally given the title of authorship for this material. Aside from the New Testament, the biographical information about Jesus is more well-documented. For further information, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions file for the newsgroup soc.religion.christian. Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem demonstrates that it is impossible for the Bible to be both true and complete. Gödel's First Incompleteness Theorem says that in any consistent formal system which is sufficiently expressive that it can model ordinary arithmetic, one can formulate expressions which can never be proven to be valid or invalid ('true' or 'false') within that formal system. (Technically speaking, the system must also be recursive; that is, there must be a decision procedure for determining whether a given string is an axiom within the formal system.) Essentially, all such systems can formulate what is known as a "Liar Paradox." The classic Liar Paradox sentence in ordinary English is "This sentence is false." Note that if a proposition is undecidable, the formal system cannot even deduce that it is undecidable. The logic used in theological discussions is rarely well defined, so claims that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem demonstrates that it is impossible to prove (or disprove) the existence of God are worthless in isolation. One can trivially define a formal system in which it is possible to prove the existence of God, simply by having the existence of God stated as an axiom. (This is unlikely to be viewed by atheists as a convincing proof, however.) It may be possible to succeed in producing a formal system built on axioms that both atheists and theists agree with. It may then be possible to show that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem holds for that system. However, that would still not demonstrate that it is impossible to prove that God exists within the system. Furthermore, it certainly wouldn't tell us anything about whether it is possible to prove the existence of God generally. Note also that all of these hypothetical formal systems tell us nothing about the actual existence of God; the formal systems are just abstractions. Another frequent claim is that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem demonstrates that a religious text (the Bible, the Book of Mormon or whatever) cannot be both consistent and universally applicable. Religious texts are not formal systems, so such claims are nonsense. George Bush on atheism and patriotism "Did George Bush really say that atheists should not be considered citizens?" The following exchange took place at the Chicago airport between Robert I. Sherman of American Atheist Press and George Bush, on August 27 1988. Sherman is a fully accredited reporter, and was present by invitation as a member of the press corps. The Republican presidential nominee was there to announce federal disaster relief for Illinois. The discussion turned to the presidential primary: RS: "What will you do to win the votes of Americans who are atheists?" GB: "I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me." RS: "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?" GB: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." RS: "Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?" GB: "Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists." UPI reported on May 8, 1989, that various atheist organizations were still angry over the remarks. The exchange appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on Monday February 27, 1989. It can also be found in "Free Inquiry" magazine, Fall 1988 issue, Volume 8, Number 4, page 16. On October 29, 1988, Mr. Sherman had a confrontation with Ed Murnane, co-chairman of the Bush-Quayle '88 Illinois campaign. This concerned a lawsuit Mr. Sherman had filed to stop the Community Consolidated School District 21 (Chicago, Illinois) from forcing his first-grade atheist son to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States as "one nation under God" (Bush's phrase). The following conversation took place: RS: "American Atheists filed the Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit yesterday. Does the Bush campaign have an official response to this filing?" EM: "It's bullshit." RS: "What is bullshit?" EM: "Everything that American Atheists does, Rob, is bullshit." RS: "Thank you for telling me what the official position of the Bush campaign is on this issue." EM: "You're welcome." After Bush's election, American Atheists wrote to Bush asking him to retract his statement. On February 21st 1989, C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, replied on White House stationery that Bush substantively stood by his original statement, and wrote: As you are aware, the President is a religious man who neither supports atheism nor believes that atheism should be unnecessarily encouraged or supported by the government." For further information, contact American Atheist Veterans at the American Atheist Press's Cameron Road address. I know where hell is! "I know where Hell is! Hell is in Norway!" There are several towns called "Hell" in various countries around the world, including Norway and the USA. Whilst this information is mildly amusing the first time one hears it, readers of alt.atheism are now getting pretty fed up with hearing it every week. Biblical contradictions wanted "Does anyone have a list of Biblical contradictions?" American Atheist Press publish an atheist's handbook detailing Biblical contradictions. See the accompanying posting on Atheist Resources for lists of other such books. There are also files containing some Biblical contradictions available from ftp.mantis.co.uk. Jim Meritt's list is available in hypertext form. The USA is a Christian nation/state "Because of the religious beliefs of the founding fathers, shouldn't the United States be considered a Christian nation?" Based upon the writings of several important founding fathers, it is clear that they never intended the US to be a Christian nation. Here are some quotes; there are more in a companion document, and the archives at ftp.mantis.co.uk contain still more. "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not." -- James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance", 1785. "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" -- John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. "History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. " -- Thomas Jefferson to Baron von Humboldt, 1813. "I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it." -- Benjamin Franklin, from "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion", Nov. 20, 1728. The USA is not a Christian nation/state "Is it true that George Washington said that the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian religion?" No. The quotation often given is in fact from Article XI of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli (8 Stat 154, Treaty Series 358): Article 11 As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, -- as it has in itself no character or enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, -- and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries. The text may be found in the Congressional Record or in treaty collections such as Charles Bevans' "Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America 1776-1949", vol. 11 (pp. 1070-1080). The English text of the Treaty of Tripoli was approved by the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797 and ratified by President John Adams on June 10, 1797. It was recently discovered that the Arabic version of the treaty not only lacks the quotation, it lacks Article XI altogether. The person who translated the Arabic to English was Joel Barlow, Consul General at Algiers, a close friend of Thomas Paine -- and an opponent of Christianity. It is possible that Barlow made up Article XI, but since there is no Arabic version of that article to be found, it's hard to say. In 1806 a new Treaty of Tripoli was ratified which no longer contained the quotation. How come nobody has answered this point? "Since nobody has been able to refute this point, it must be true." Ignoring the obvious logical flaw in such statements, it could be that nobody saw whatever comments were made. Because of the high volume of alt.atheism, it's a safe bet that many readers have "kill files", sets of instructions for their newsreader programs to perform automatically when they enter the newsgroup. Kill files can be used to perform all kinds of useful tasks, such as picking up replies to your own articles, picking out subjects you're interested in, or skipping articles about things you find boring. Sometimes someone will manage to annoy the readership of alt.atheism enough that many people will program their newsreaders to discard all his postings. It's even possible to get some newsreaders to skip over all articles which even mention a particular person. For this reason, never assume that silence in response to a Usenet argument means that it cannot be refuted. More likely, it means nobody is even reading it. Very few arguments presented on alt.atheism pass without comment. Please do not re-post entire articles with a note saying "Please refute this, somebody". If everyone skipped the article, the chances are they did so because they didn't want to see it. Watch the newsgroup for a while, and you'll get a pretty good idea of who's in lots of kill files. If you want to know how to set up a kill file, consult the manual page for your newsreader. If you use rn, trn or strn, you can look at the "rn kill file FAQ", posted to news.answers regularly. The Bible says 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'... "The Bible says "Thou shalt not kill", yet many Christians serve in the military. What hypocrites!" The commandment is more properly translated as "Thou shalt not murder". Most modern translations of the Bible express it that way. What does 'xian' mean? "What does the abbreviation 'xian' mean? Is it an insult?" "Xian" is short for "Christian", in the same way that "Xmas" is short for "Christmas". The letter X represents the initial letter chi of the Greek 'kristos', meaning "Christ". It's not an insult. Another variant often seen is "Xtian". The Bible says pi is 3! In I Kings 7:23, the Bible says: And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. If you make a molten sea with a circumference of thirty cubits, you'll find that the diameter is 30/pi or 9.55 cubits. Or ten cubits, to round to the nearest integer. In short, the Bible does not say that pi is three, unless you are going to assume that the numbers given are accurate to more than two significant figures, which is unjustifiable given the wording. mathew

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