From the Mailbag From the Mailbag I read your piece on why Saul died, and it reminded me o

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From the Mailbag From the Mailbag I read your piece on why Saul died, and it reminded me of the inconsistency of the Bible as to just who killed Saul. [1] Was it the LORD? Saul "enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse" ([ref001]1 Chron. 10:14 , KJV). [2] Was it the Philistine archers? "And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers" ([ref002]1 Sam. 31:3 ; [ref003]1 Chron. 10:3 ). [3] Was it suicide? Saul begged his armor-bearer to kill him, but he would n't. "Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it" ([ref004]1 Sam. 31:4-5 ; [ref005]1 Chron. 10:4-5 ). [4] Was it a young Amalekite? A young Amalekite man happened by and Saul begged him to "[s]tand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me." [The Amalekite told David], "So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen" ([ref006]2 Sam. 1:8-10 ). Again we have a situation where all versions cannot be right, but they can all be wrong! _(From_Fred_Acquistapace,_author_of__Miracles That Never Were_,_Eye-Opener_Books,_P._O._Box_1531,_Santa_Rosa,_CA_95402). _ It's a fool's errand to fool around with a foolish passage from a discredited book in order to prove someone a fool. That neither fools the skeptic nor makes a fool of him. Thus, we may answer Liddell's short letter. As for Mr. Moffitt, I'm delighted that his heart is neither wicked nor rebellious, thus making him privy to the inner secrets of the Bible. Breathlessly I read on, hoping to catch the deep pearls of wisdom which surely must fall from such lips. No doubt, I would learn things that had eluded those worldly Bible scholars for centuries! But alas! Mr. Moffitt uses the same old tired crutch so necessary to all wishful thinking. Mr. Moffitt demands that the skeptic prove biblical errors with 100% certainty or renounce the claim of biblical error. Such a proof, of course, cannot be had outside of formal systems of logic, such as mathematics. Let me make clear the unfairness of such a requirement. I challenge any reader to prove, with 100% certainty, that the earth exists! However clever your reply, I can counter with logically possible alternatives which you can't disprove. Should we adjust our lives to the possibility that the earth might not exist? Of course not! In the real world of atoms and energy, and that includes Bible apologetics, error is always a matter of probability. To say that a book is erroneous is to say that it is erroneous beyond any reasonable doubt. Once it has been shown that the case for error is much stronger than the case for no error, then one might rightly claim an error. The rational mind will accept that, even as it provisionally accepts the existence of the earth, but will always be open to new evidence. Meanwhile, it does not cling to mere possibility with the idea that someday, somehow, vindication will be had. If a book cannot be defended on the basis of what is probable, then it cannot be rationally defended, period. Anyone venturing beyond that point day. enters the realm of wishful thinking and fanaticism. (I will leave it to Mr. Till to provide the customary rejoinder to Mr. Moffitt's exercise in wishful thinking.) In closing, I find Mr. Moffitt's god (small "g" as befitting an inferior concept God) reprehensible. Any good teacher will go out of her way to help a sincere, failing student; she will clear away the obstacles to his learning. Mr. Moffitt's god, however, not only ignores the student but blinds him as well! _(From_Dave_E._Matson,_whose_address_appears_after_his_article on_page_13_in_this_issue.)__ On the matter of absurdity, I've always compared Jehovah to the gods of Zoroaster, who lived around 2,600 years ago. He had two gods, Ormuzd or Ahura Mazda, the god of light, and Ahriman, the god of darkness. The Jewish people encountered Zoroastrian ideas in the Babylonian captivity. Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, the hotbed of Magi magic, astrology, and Zoroastrianism. The "wise men" or Magi reportedly saw Jesus in their horoscopes and came to see him. Following Jesus' "star," they very well might have believed in the gods of darkness and light. Modern Zoroastrians are known as Parsees. They follow the war in heaven and earth via astrology, and worship the sacred fire, which has the light of the good god, as well as the god's heat. The heat of the fire and the sun is the life of the god of light, like human body heat. Like the Jews, the Zoroastrians have clean and unclean animals. The good clean animals, like cows and sheep, were created by the god of light. They do not kill, and they eat plants to live. The bad unclean animals, like wolves and tigers, were created by the bad god of darkness. They kill and eat people and animals alive! The problem with equal and infinite gods of good and evil is that they can only exist in eternal stalemate. They neutralize each other. Also, the good god is a lousy fighter. He cannot fight the war in heaven because he cannot do harm to his enemies. To overcome this problem, the Jewish worshipers of Jehovah made Jehovah a mixture of good and evil. Jehovah punishes. He kills. He lies and deceives his enemies and his friends. There is nothing so vile that Jehovah would not do it or allow it, and nothing so good and perfect that Jehovah would not give it as a gift to his children. The mixture of good and evil in God confounds the Jews and Christians to this day. The absurdity of such an object of worship is clear. Like the gods of light and darkness of Zoroaster, the two sides of schizophrenic, split-personality Jehovah and the Trinity neutralize each other. The good and evil in the universe from no god, from imaginary gods, or the one being who can only exist forever in stalemate. This means that such a being cannot act in either direction, and effectively cannot exist If the being does exist, his (their) wheels continue to spin, unnoticed, for all after his eternity. The Christian New Testament is faced with this hellish problem and tries all, a weak, limited devil cannot create or co-create with God. No Christian is nuts enough to claim that the devil has enough power to create the evil half of the universe--including tigers, snakes, mosquitoes, and the firmament itself. No, it is God who created it all, creeping and crawling insects included, and "saw that it was good." So the devil, bad as he is, is just another creature who can be zapped by God just like humans and man-eating wolves. The devil created nothing: his creator created the whole works. And since Jehovah and the Trinity cannot zap the devil because they are tied-together bundles of goodness and evil, the devil does as he pleases. In this picture, the universe would be entirely evil under the devil. This is absurd, because even Christians admit there is much beauty and goodness in the universe. Therefore, neither a mixed good and evil being nor even the devil can be detected in the universe. _(From_Frank_Mack,_P._O._Box_3012,_Chicago,_IL_60654.)___ I [have] gathered a list of gospel passages that are not found in the oldest extant manuscripts. This list is based only on footnotes, deletions, and bracketing of the passages in the five post-KJV bibles (who'd have thought the more militant the atheist you become, the more bibles you buy!). I've bought both the RSV and NASV since I wrote last.... Part of what led me in this direction, I think, was the lack of recognition from the crowd in Portland to your dismissal of the Josephus citation as an insert. The term just didn't register with most of the people there. And I was rather surprised when I developed my list of gospel inserts to find so many of the most famous and most often quoted passages on the list. Well, hopefully, I'll have something worth showing to you on that before too long. I've also started working up a rebuttal to Moffitt's rebuttal of your "Dead Man" article, focusing on the "good hearts" slur he throws on us from [ref007]Luke 8:15 .... Congratulations on the new printer and format. It looks great. _(From_Earle_C._Beach,_13203_Tamayo_Drive,_Austin,_TX_78729-7403.) _ The New format with laser print looks great! I continue to excerpt from TSR your articles (with full credit given) for BBS posting where Bible inerrancy discussed. With excellent results over all, I am happy to report. _(From_Frank_Lovell,_Jr.,_1907_Deer_Park_Avenue,_Louisville, KY_40205.)_ _Editor's_Note_: We knew that many subscribers were feeding our materials into computer bulletin boards, because we receive many inquiries and subscription requests in response to things that were seen in BBS. Those who wish to post TSR articles or excerpts may do so without ask ing permission. We would appreciate receiving credit to assist us in establishing new contacts. I want to thank you for your excellent publication. I have enjoyed the year's worth of my introductory subscription and am renewing it with great enthusiasm. I have made the check for $10 for a one-year subscription. I know that this is way over your rate. Please use it to help new freethinkers, like the woman in your lead article Autumn 1993.... I would also like to extend an invitation to you to speak in our area, should you be in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. There are several active groups of freethinkers in the metro area. There is an active atheist group, humanist group, a skeptics group and a growing group of atheists at the University of Minnesota. I am program chairman for the Humanist Association of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Our groups often set up joint meetings when nationally known speakers come to town. Dan Barker of the [ref008]Freedom From Religion Foundation will be speaking at a joint meeting in November. Last year Tim Madigan, of _Free_Inquiry_, came to speak at the university meeting, which all groups helped with. One member of our group has also started a freethinker BBS, the Freethought Thinktank. Thank you again for your publication and your tireless pursuit of the truth. _(From_Scott_Lohman,_3822_Aldrich_Avenue_N,_Minneapolis,_MN 55412.)_ _Editor's_Note_: The freethought movement must be alive and in Minneapolis. _TSR_ has more subscribers in the greater Minneapolis region than any other urban area. The invitation to speak was accepted with the explanation that it would give my wife and me the opportunity to visit our daughter, who lives in Minneapolis. I think your publication is worth a lot more than $4. I would love to get a loan copy of the _Dobbs-Till_Debate_. After I view the tape, I would like to forward it to the Spokane, Washington, F.F.R.F. [[ref009]Freedom From Religion Foundation ], and they can get it back to you.... If all the readers who appreciate you were to send a letter, I think you would be deluged. _(From_Leonard_Reitz,_3660_Ninth_Drive,_Baker_City,_OR_97814.) _ _Editor's_Note_: I do, in fact, receive many letters. I regret that I don't always have the time to answer all of them, so I will take this opportunity to say that even if you don't receive a response, I appreciate receiving your reactions to the paper. Needless to say, the tapes were sent to Mr. Reitz, and permission was granted to send them on to the Spokane chapter of F.F.R.F. We think that the Bible inerrancy position took a trouncing in this debate, so we want as many people as possible to see how weak the evidence is for the prophecy-fulfillment argument that bibliolaters so frequently resort to in trying to defend Bible inerrancy. The tapes are still available on two-week loan for $2 to cover cost of packaging and mailing. From a few perusals of the articles in your newsletter, we feel that you are not at all interested in the veracity of the word of God in the Bible. We certainly feel that the Bible is the word of God and your letters are the words of men. As Roman Catholics, however, we do believe that just as Jesus, the Savior, commissioned 12 apostles to carry on his message to all the earth, he also has apostles today in the name of Popes and Bishops and they are responsible for promoting the message today. Bible interpretation is not for individuals but is subject to Church teachings. Most of the known world believes in the Bible and that it is the word of God. Why would you want to destroy that belief? Please do not send us anymore [sic] criticism of the Bible. We really believe that the message of Scripture and Christ will save the world. _(From_Stu_&_Judy_Locklin,_2026_North_3372_Road,_Ottawa, IL_61350.)_ _Editor's_Note_: To comment on everything that is wrong with the thinking in this letter would require a special edition of _TSR_. The Locklins were added to the mailing list because they wrote a letter to the Ottawa newspaper about the activities of The [ref010]Freedom From Religion Foundation (in which I was involved) during the controversy over the display of religious paintings on public property. Their letter communicates not just an appalling ignorance of basic facts about religion but also the reason for their ignorance. They see no need to inquire and investigate. They are perfectly willing to let popes and bishops think for them. How backward would the world be if everyone had this attitude? [ref001] [ref002] [ref003] [ref004] [ref005] [ref006] [ref007] [ref008] [ref009] [ref010]


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank