From the Mailbag From the Mailbag I read your piece on why Saul died, and it reminded me o
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.  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).  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
).  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
).  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
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!
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.
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.
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.
_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
Thank you again for your publication and your tireless pursuit
of the truth.
_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
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.
_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
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
Please do not send us anymore [sic] criticism of the Bible. We
really believe that the message of Scripture and Christ will save
_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?
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank