[ref001] From the Mailbag [ref002] From the Mailbag What an honor to be published by your

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[ref001] From the Mailbag [ref002] From the Mailbag What an honor to be published by your fine magazine. I enjoyed your article entitled "Mcbull to the rescue". Its [sic] me, Mr. Till! I am the mighty McBull!!! I was sure to thank Richard Fiori for forwarding our little debate to you. In my defense however, I was unaware that he was going to do that. So it comes as both an honor and a surprise, that I find myself gracing the pages of your periodical. I do have to admit that my response was not as complete as I would have liked, had I known it was going to be picked apart by someone of your caliber, I could have provided you with references and further background information. The thing you have to remember, Mr. Till is that not too many people will stand in and debate with me on America Online [sic]. Most people are not as informed (or deceived) as you are, and as a result never respond back to me. That being the case, if I were to write a detailed response to every person, then I wouldn't have time to eat, sleep, or take a dump, for that matter. On the issue of the Amalekites, I would be more than happy to provide you with my sources and information, then perhaps we could debate the issue further to the enjoyment of your readers. However, I picked up on an nference [sic] in your article that the subject had become tedious to you. Perhaps you would rather let it go? We can just call it a draw. By the way, what's the story with all the "sics'? All I could picture was my cat when he gets a hair ball, going "sic....sic....sic". Ever have a cat do that? It's sort of entertaining to watch, if you know what I mean. The most profound thing to me in the piece you mentioned "...The fact that two people working independently of each other would write such similar articles..." I found that to be most profound, for reasons I don't expect you to understand. I'll assume Mr. Mitchell knew he was being published? Anyhow, I'll leave this one up to you, I'll defend every point I made, refute all of yours, or move on. More on than [sic] in a moment. Please accept my subscription, enclosed you will find $4 cash for my first year. Ingersol told me that was the cost, I assume he is correct. Please mail it too [sic] the Mighty McBull care of the address above on this letterhead. Now, I had a thought. Would you consider me for a position in your publication? I got to thinkin' I would be interesting [sic] in being your resident whipping boy. Perhaps we can have a debate for the sake of the reader's [sic]. I'll take you on - in any subject. I'll even let you choose the topics and I don't even want to be paid for it! How about that!!! Maybe, I could have an editorial column, The Christian Perspective, or something like that. I could get the readers all riled up, and get them interested in the debate process. What do ya think Farrell, I'm game for it? I even have a great sense of humor, and I'm a really nice guy to boot. Drop me a line. By the way, could I get a copy of the issue that I am going to be published in, I'll pay for whatever it costs. My mommy will be so proud of me. (Matthew C. Bullard, The Mighty McBull, 15520 Rockfield Boulevard, Suite E-2, Irvine, CA 92718.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Gee, I don't know what to do. Should I take the Mighty McBull on and risk humiliation from the blows of his impeccable logic or should I crawl into a hole and hide until he goes away? Oh, well, what the heck, I always have been the foolhardy type, so I think I'll take him on. Let's begin with that impeccable logic of his. He tells us that "not too many people will stand in and debate" him on AOL. Well, okay, if that's the case, then I would think that he would have all the time he needs to eat, sleep, and attend to his bodily functions. He informs us, however, that since few will take him on, if he were to "write a detailed response to every person [who did], then [he] wouldn't have time to eat, sleep, or take a dump, for that matter." Somehow, the coherence of his reasoning eludes me. Perhaps he can explain why not having very many AOL opponents infringes on his time for eating, sleeping, and toilet duties. The Mighty McBull assured me that he would have put forth a better effort had he known that his response to Ingersol (Fiori) was going to be published in _The_Skeptical_Review_. Am I to believe that he didn't mind if tens of thousands of AOL users saw a sloppy performance but he would have preferred TSR's 1,200 readers to see him at his best? What I suspect is that we really have seen McBull at his best and that he is just desperately trying to put a better face on a pathetic performance that he thought was pretty good until he saw his silly pulpit arguments critically analyzed. An informed analysis of his Gleason Archer-Norman Geisler echoes was probably a new experience for him. For reasons that he doesn't expect me to understand, McBull thought it "most profound" that I had pointed out that "two people working independently of each other would write such similar articles," so let me see if I do understand what McBull sees profound in this. I suspect that he wants us to think that the similarity wasn't really coincidence but merely the result of truth being easy to recognize. However, until he makes good his promise to "defend every point [he] made" and "refute all of [mine]," I'll choose to believe what is probably the real reason for his and Mitchell's agreement in the matter. They both relied on a pathetically weak "explanation" that has been widely disseminated in fundamentalist churches. So should I make McBull our "resident whipping boy"? Well, first I have problems with the title he wants to appropriate. A whipping boy was someone designated to stand in and take the punishment due another, but McBull has personally earned every whiplash I have administered. He has simply parroted the absurdly illogical "explanations" of the apologetic professionals, and he did it on the writing level of a junior high school student. Did he seriously think that I would tremble in fear at the prospects of crossing verbal swords with someone who doesn't know what a sentence is or the difference in there and their and to and too? Does he expect us to believe that someone who doesn't know the basic rules of punctuation nevertheless knows the answers to questions that have puzzled Bible readers for centuries? Although we can't make McBull our "resident whipping boy," we are certainly willing to give him space to demonstrate his forensic skills. He boasted that he can defend every point that he made and refute all of mine, so we're going to give him the opportunity to make good that boast. If he will send us a reply to "McBull to the Rescue," we will publish it. We will expect him to make good his boast to defend every point that he made and refute all of mine. This means, of course, that he will present proof that (1) the Amalekites of Saul's day were "guerrilla terrorists" who had been given "plenty [of] time to repent of their utter rejection of God," (2) the Amalekites of that time practiced incest, molestation, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice, and murder, (3) the Amalekites of that time had to be destroyed because of the gravity of their sins and so that the "remnants could not continue their acts of violence against the nation of Israel," and (4) the act by which God took the lives of the Amalekite children was far from merciless because the children went to heaven. In support of this final point, we hope that McBull will provide us with photographs of children frolicking in heaven. If he lives up to his expectations, we will certainly look forward to publishing him again on another subject. Dear Mr. Dobbs: As a university student, I am relatively new to the intellectual scene of religion and skepticism. Recently, I have watched the tapes of your debate with Farrell Till, which took place in Portland. There are many things that I can comment on about the debate, but I have chosen one topic in particular to discuss in my letter. I would like to comment on your argument for the veracity of "metaphorical prophecy" from the Old Testament. I believe that Farrell Till was correct in stating that this was a rather "weak" argument and that you "stretched the meaning by a country mile." For example, you stated that the story of Jonah living three days in the whale gave the "substance" of prophecy for Jesus rising out of his tomb after three days. Don't you see the fallacy you are making? This allows Christians to snatch practically anything out of the Old Testament, twist it around to fit their own theology, and proudly declare it a glorious "fulfilled" prophecy. This is exactly what the writers of the Gospels were guilty of doing. Let's just take a hypothetical case. With your definition of a Bible prophecy, I can easily say that the story of the Genesis Flood was a messianic prophecy. How you might ask? Well, Yahweh wanted to flood the world so that he could destroy the wicked, but Noah was righteous in Yahweh's eyes, so he instructed him to build an ark so that he could be saved from the floodwaters. Hence, the wicked symbolize all those who are unsaved and thus will perish in the final judgment. The ark is a metaphor for Christ who will save all those who are righteous before God. It took me only about forty seconds to think up this metaphor. I am willing to predict that if I stood in front of your congregation, told them I was a Christian apologist, and stated the above metaphorical "prophecy," I would probably receive full acceptance and maybe a chorus of "amens" too. In Dan Barker's book _Losing_Faith_in_Faith:_From_Preacher_to_Atheist_, in his chapter on Bible prophecy he states, "Maybe this kind of thing is a 'proof' to those who already believe, but they should certainly be able to understand why the rest of us raise our eyebrows" (p. 191). In closing, I would like to say that when I watch public debates I try to look past my biases and the rhetoric to determine the winner. Mr. Dobbs, I can honestly say that you were not the victor in Portland. If you wish to convince us skeptics that Christianity is true, arguments like "metaphorical prophecy" will certainly not establish your case. (Jason Munroe, 70 Nottingham Road, Sherwood Park, AB, Canada, T8A 5L5.) EDITOR'S NOTE: As soon as the last session of my second debate in Portland ended (May 24, 1994), Mr. Dobbs, who had served as one of Jerry Moffitt's assistants, angrily confronted me and called me a liar for saying that I had distributed video tapes of the Till-Dobbs Debate to various TSR subscribers. The longer he ranted, the angrier he became, saying among other things that _The Skeptical_Review_ was a big nothing and had nowhere close to a thousand subscribers. I was understandably delighted just a month later to receive Jason Munroe's letter, which proves not only that I have made the tapes available to TSR viewers but have even sent them out of the country. I have had several debating opponents, but Mr. Dobbs has easily proven himself the sorest loser of them all. I recently received a copy of your _Skeptical_Review_ and read it cover to cover. How you got me on your mailing list I'll probably never know, but I am grateful. Although I am not as yet an atheist, I am certainly a skeptic and found your arguments profound and titillating. Enclosed is a check for $5 for copies of the _Laws-Till_Debate_ and _Prophecies:_Imaginary_and_Unfulfilled_. I will look forward to receiving them Thank you for the copy of your publication, and I trust you will continue to send them. (Lola R. Reams, 412 Memphis Way, Vancouver, WA 98664.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Reams was put on our mailing list at the request of a friend. If you have friends or relatives whom you think would like to receive _The_Skeptical_Review_, send us their names and addresses. We will send them TSR for a year at no cost. I am writing to inform you of a change of address, but first I just want to say how much I have enjoyed your publication. My only complaint is that the issues are too small and too infrequent. I read and reread each issue I receive, eagerly anticipating the next one. Keep up the great work. The world needs more clear thinking and rationalism such as yours to make it a better place and to free people from intolerance, guilt and hatred such as is engendered by religious superstitions. (Bob Hypes, P. O. Box 305, Howe, IN 46746.) Thank you for allowing me to view your taped debate with Mr. Dobbs. I think you did an excellent job. Mr. Dobbs is mistaken with his analogy between testimonies of the life of Jesus and other secular figures. The first involves events of a totally unique nature; the second are particular instances of general phenomena, which may or may not be true but are possible or probable. I am very interested in Bible inerrancy (or errancy?) and contradictions, but so far I have read only Thomas Paine's Age of Reason. What books do you recommend? Which Bible translation do you think is best? Thank you again, and I hope to hear from you soon. (Richard G. Rich, Route One, Box 89A, Decatur, AL 35601.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Isn't it strange that simple truths are so obvious to some people but not to others? Mr. Rich has no difficulty distinguishing ordinary historical information from extraordinary religious claims. Now why can't Bible fundamentalists see the difference too? _The_Christ_ by John Remsburg, _Is_It_God's_Word?_ and _Forgery_in_Christianity_ by Joseph Wheless, _The Diegesis_ by Reverend Robert Taylor, _How_Did_Christianity Begin?_ by Howard Teeple, _The_Story_of_Christian_Origins_ by Martin A. Larson, _The_Myth_of_the_Resurrection_ or just about any other book by Joseph McCabe would be excellent reading materials for those interested in researching biblical origins. For research in basic biblical contradictions and discrepancies, _The_Bible_Handbook_ (G. W. Foote, W. P. Ball, et al) and Dennis McKinsey's monthly paper _Biblical_Errancy_ (3158 Sherwood Park Drive, Springfield, OH 45505) would be good sources to study. Emmett Fields, 514 Eastern Parkway, Louisville, KY 40217, has scanned numerous freethought classics and recorded them on computer disks. A set of 10 HD disks on which most of the books listed above and many others have been copied in ASCII files can be obtained from him for only $10. If there ever was such a thing as a bargain, this is definitely it. I use primarily the American Standard Version but probably only because it is the version I used when I was a preacher. I have 27 different versions in my library. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Modern versions, such as the NRSV or NIV, can make meaning much clearer than the old King James Version, but one must use them carefully. In some cases, these versions seem to mistranslate deliberately in order to conceal inconsistencies in the original texts. The NIV, for example, changed Ahaziah's age from 42 to 22 in [ref003]2 Chronicles 22:2 to make it agree with a parallel statement in [ref004]2 Kings 8:26. You asked for permission to use my original letter in the winter 1995 issue of TSR. You certainly do have my permission. If its publication could lend courage or support to even one other person, pastor, missionary or spouse, then I would want it printed in bold letters. May I take this opportunity to relate to you just a bit more of my--that is, our--story? You might find it interesting. Both my wife Virginia and I were raised in conservative Christian homes during the '40s and '50s. Charles Fuller's Old-Fashioned Revival Hour was a regular in both our homes, as were the broadcasts of Donald Grey Barnhouse and many others. We met in our first year at college (the former National Bible Institute, renamed Shelton College; this eventually became one of the strongholds of Carl McIntire, founder of the American Council of Christian Churches) and have been together ever since. I graduated from Gordon Theological Seminary (now Gordon-Conwell) in Wenham, MA, and served churches in both the Baptist and Presbyterian denominations, all strictly evangelical/ fundamentalist. During those years, I always preached the standard gospel message of the "necessity of the new birth," based on the foundation of an "inerrant" Bible. I gave altar calls, held evangelistic and missionary conferences, sent the young people to Christian camps, etc., etc. But despite all this, which of course included an active personal prayer life, I became more and more concerned about the truth and validity of what I was doing and what I was saying. To help quiet my ever-growing uneasiness, I decided to return to formal studies, eventually graduating from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA) with a Th. M. degree. Two years later, I again returned to the books, entering the Ph.D. program of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln ("Big Red" territory). My major was ancient history; my hopes were to find a way to bolster my sagging faith. (Yes, I was serving a church at the time.) I became a "teaching fellow" and was well on my way to a degree, but time began to run out in the sense that I was losing in the faith department faster than I was gaining in the doubt department. More knowledge--knowledge about the Bible and Christian history and other religions, etc.--only made the situation worse for me; now I could clearly see the fallacies, problems, cover-ups, denials, inconsistencies, exaggerations, and misrepresentations, which at one time I only suspected existed. To her eternal credit, it was my wife who had the guts to say, "This is crazy; you can stay in the church if you want, but count me out." Without her, I fear it would have taken me twice as long to do what needed to be done years earlier: I resigned never to pastor another church again. And--I want it clearly understood--not only did I resign from my particular church, but we also left the entire Christian system behind. Have we ever regretted this decision? Never. Not once. I admit, for a while, we didn't know what, if anything, to do about beliefs, or god, and such things. But this should not be mistaken for sorrow for leaving either the pastorate or the "faith." We have never, at any time, been sorry. We feel free, unburdened, relieved... and happier than we have ever felt in our entire lives. The initial concern that god would "get us" for this is gone. Now, together we explore ideas, seek new realms, experience wisdom previously lost to us. We look at social, political and spiritual issues in an entirely new way, invariably diametrically opposed to our old "Christian" views. As we consider the condition of the evangelical church of today, see their tactics, listen to their "logic," understand their agenda, hear their rationalizations, we are indeed glad that no longer are we caught up in this mindset, which once so powerfully "had us." Well, I'm not finished expressing myself by a longshot, but I'll stop, appreciative of this opportunity to have my say. There's a lot more to relate, about our present "beliefs," and what we are endeavoring to do, but I know you're a busy man. If you would like to hear more some time I'll be happy to comply. In the meantime, we do wish you success in your work. We feel a close kinship to people like you and are glad someone is doing something to refute the claims of that so-called "mighty army." One final question: do you know of anyone who is seeking to help former preachers and missionaries and their spouses on an emotional or psychological level through a support network or newsletter or something? ...I'm thinking of former Christian workers only, not lay people. (Ransom L. Webster, 121 Jaffrey Road, Marlborough, NH 03455.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Webster sent an earlier letter in which he said that he had been a fundamentalist preacher for 20 years and now "shudder[s] at those days and the amount of energy spent leading so many people astray." Although his second letter was much longer, I couldn't resist publishing it instead of his first. Again, we have personal testimony of the happiness and intense satisfaction that comes from breaking the shackles that enslave the mind to religious superstition and nonsense. In my debates, the opposition continually charges that I have nothing to offer but doom and despair, but those who have been down the same road I have traveled consistently testify to the tremendous joy and relief that accompany abandonment of the ridiculous belief system that Christian fundamentalism represents. Although I am pleased to publish this ex-preacher's story, there is really nothing new in it. Long-time subscribers to TSR will remember similar letters that we have published, and they all tell essentially the same story. A preacher begins to study higher criticism, world history, religious history, philosophy, etc., and eventually, he begins to see that he has been misled. Christianity is not a unique religion that God revealed in the first century but only a patchwork of pagan beliefs fraught with "fallacies, problems, cover-ups, denials, inconsistencies, exaggerations, misrepresentations," and many other flaws that Mr. Webster didn't mention. Each letter like his makes me wonder how many more fundamentalist preachers are out there wallowing in misery, who want to get out but don't know how. If by chance any read this and want whatever assistance I can give, please be assured that your letters will be held strictly confidential. I have been where you are, so I know what you are going through. I received the Spring 1994 issue of _The_Skeptical_Review_ and read the whole issue the same day. My wife snagged it next; then I took it to work where I have been involved in the occasional argument over Biblical errancy. We enjoyed it very much, and I would like to express our appreciation of your efforts in making this available to others. I run an electronic bulletin board on my personal computer, and the articles in _The_Skeptical_Review_ look as if they will make excellent reference material for the debates I am involved in regarding Judeo/Christian religions. I have accumulated a variety of information and opinions which I store electronically to facilitate rapid searching and quoting when needed, and I was curious if I could get the past issues of _The_Skeptical_Review_ on disk so as to utilize in the same manner. I have enclosed the fee requested for the 17 back issues and three booklets listed on the last page of the Spring 1994 issue (_The_Laws-Till Debate_, _Jackson-Till_Debate_, and _Prophecies: Imaginary_and_Unfulfilled_). If this request is not possible to be fulfilled, please just send the paper versions instead. Assuming I can get the information electronically, there are several options open for me. I have an IBM compatible, with a 1.44 meg 3.5" floppy drive, or my bulletin board is operating 24 hours a day with a 14.4 US Robotics modem running at 57,600. I have a guest account which requires no password to log on, and a compressed file containing all of the information can be attached to e-mail to the sysop (me). I can also call out to Illinois to pick up the data if there is a board which is willing to act as an intermediary for us (which I could quite easily arrange; I know several sysops out there.) If there is any other information you need, or if you have any questions or even want my reference materials (don't know if they would benefit you or not, but you are certainly welcome to them), my home phone is (619) 667-1223, and the BBS phone number is (619) 697-9635. (Dante Ridley, 5639 Amaya Drive, Apartment 305, La Mesa, CA 91942.) EDITOR'S NOTE: We sent Ridley not just the paper versions of all back issues but also all of the articles in ASCII. This will be just one more of many BBS's sending out TSR and other biblical errancy materials. As I said in an earlier "Mail-bag" column, computer technology will undoubtedly hasten the demise of Bible fundamentalism. In the past, Christians could suppress information detrimental to their cause, but this is no longer possible. The lay public is going to learn a lot about Christianity that is not complimentary to it. If other BBS enthusiasts would like to have our articles on disk, please let us know. I hate to see you waste your time or our time by sending your "junkmail" to us. We will not read it or show it to any of our friends as it is offensive to us. So be advised we wish to never see another copy of this sent to us. We trust we will not hear from you again. [ref005]Matthew 24:4, "Watch out that no one decieves [sic] you." [ref006]Mark 13:13, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." This is our stand! (Randy and Candy Eckstein, 695 Hillcrest Road, Milan, IL 61264.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Since we have no desire to send TSR to people with the Ecksteins' attitude, we opened our address files to remove their name and found that they were not listed. We have no idea who sent them the copy that raised their hackles. Some scriptures give good advice, and the Ecksteins quoted an excellent one in [ref007]Matthew 24:4. It contains advice that we would urge them to heed, but, unfortunately, it is too late for them. They have already been deceived. The world's best biblical scholarship rejects the Bible inerrancy doctrine, but apparently the Ecksteins continue to allow preachers to deceive them into believing superstitious nonsense. We are publishing their letter so that whoever sent them TSR will know how close-minded they are. If they should ever flaunt their righteousness or attempt to evangelize the one who sent them TSR, he/she will then have every right to tell them that their "junk-belief" is offensive. While picking Lindell Mitchell's arguments to pieces, you overlooked a simple flaw at the heart of his logic. Mitchell argued that god "looked down the corridor of time" and foresaw that "the babes of Amalek were destined to become vicious beasts like their ancestors." Reality check! The babes of Amalek were not destined to become vicious beasts. Obviously, they were destined to die as babes, slaughtered by marauding Israelites. How can anyone, speaking normal English, say an event was predestined yet did not happen? Can anything be more self-contradictory? Just what does predestined mean in Mr. Mitchell's vocabulary anyway? Well, perhaps he thinks God "changed destiny." Then destiny is flexible. "Destined" events are not inevitable. So why bring it up, except to fog the issue? Lindell Mitchell is a master of evasion. Don't let him get away with it. (Kenneth E. Nahigian, 2411 Tyrolean Way, Sacramento, CA 95821-4809.) EDITOR'S NOTE: Nahigian makes an excellent point, and I must admit that I'm a little embarrassed for having let it slip by me. The fact that a reader picked it up just may be one of the reasons why Mitchell and his inerrantist cohorts are reluctant to have their articles published in TSR. They realize that they are writing for a much more critical audience than what they are accustomed to in their religious journals. Like newly-hatched nestlings, pew-warmers tend to swallow everything poked down their throats, but Mitchell has seen enough from our readers to realize that this isn't the type of audience he will be dealing with when he is published in _The_Skeptical_Review_. I enclose $10. Four dollars is for this year, and since it is likely that the postal rates will go up next year, the six bucks is to cover the second year's subscription. If you do not raise the subscription rate next year... well, you really ought to raise it. Four bucks is too cheap. (Jacques A. Musy, P. O. Drawer 69, Valrico, FL 33594.) EDITOR'S NOTE: The subscription rate is $5 this year but only because we will be publishing five issues rather than four. Postage rates did increase for nonprofit bulk mail, but we are trying to absorb the increase without raising the subscription rates. After Reading my first two issues, I'm so favorably impressed that I want to order all the back issues from Winter 1990 through Winter 1994. I think that comes to 17, so here's my check for that many dollars. Your responses to the letters from Nikki Kaley and Mildred Bahn were especially well put. As you say, though, it does amount, as far as they are concerned, to casting pearls before swine. Those people are so deluded as to very likely be past any hope of enlightenment. As the saying goes, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." I know, because I grew up around that kind and was once almost one myself. Fortunately, I eventually came to my senses. (Jerry Brown, 8929 Hubbard Street, Culver City, CA 90232.) Having just sampled your excellent publication, Skeptical Review, Winter '94, I would now hate to miss another debate. Please put me on your mailing list A.S.A.P., and I will gladly pay any postage or fees. I currently subscribe to _Freethought_Today_, _Humanist in_Canada_, and _American_Atheist_. It took me 37 years to discover others like me (M. O'Hair on Donahue, 1992), who are anxious for information and determined that critical thinking should have more exposure and be much more accessible; we can't help each other or make a difference by helplessly letting others dictate to us. (Judy Loewen, Box 429, Debolt, Alberta, Canada T0H 1B0.) I enjoyed your summer issue, particularly your discussion of Buster Dobbs' argument that the existence of a counterfeit proved the existence of a real article. I like Mr. Dobbs' logic. Many of the sayings attributed to Jesus are copied from Jewish scripture, so he clearly destroys Christianity. It's only a counterfeit of Judaism. But... much of the material in Jewish scripture--outside of the historical chronicles--is copied from even earlier works. For instance, Genesis 1 is counterfeited from the Mesopotamian origin work the "Enuma Elish." Genesis 2 is plagiarized from a separate Mesopotamian origin story, which explains the contradictions between the two accounts. Also, the Noah story is counterfeited from the earlier Mesopotamian story of Atrahesis and the ark, which is copied from the earlier (about 2000 B.C.E.) story of Utnapishtim and the ark, found within the Gilgamesh epic, which is copied from the 3rd millennium B.C.E. story of the Sumerian king Ziusudra, who rode an ark to safety atop a worldwide flood. Many more examples of counterfeiting from pre-Israelite societies in the Middle East can be cited. Thus, Judaism is only a counterfeit of the Mesopotamian religion. Dobbs' logic makes the origins of the Bible easy to explain. Your list of dying/resurrected gods, from whom Jesus was counterfeited, was good, but left out one significant deity. The Sumerians worshiped the goddess Inanna as the Queen of Heaven, the source of the fertility of life, the original sex goddess, and the creator of civilization. Later Semitic peoples joined in worshiping her under the name Ishtar, aka Anath and Astarte to the Canaanites and Israelites. ([ref008]Jeremiah 44:17-19 is a reference to Israelite worship of her with a sacrament of wine and cake). She was regarded as the power behind all thrones, the source of victory in war, the healer of the sick, and the inspiration of prophets and visionaries. Inanna/Ishtar also was a dying/ resurrected deity. She supposedly visited her twin sister (or the dark side of her psyche) Ereshkigal, who was ruler of the underworld. Ereshkigal had Inanna/ Ishtar killed, and her body was hung up, either upon a peg in a wall or upon a wooden stake (almost like a crucifixion). After three days, the goddess was resurrected. She then appeared to various people on the earth, looking for a substitute for her in the underworld. She finally selected her lover--Dumuzi in Sumerian stories, Tammuz in Semitic ones. He then had to spend part of each year in death. That's why the women of Israel, among others, wept for Tammuz, as you cited in your article ([ref009]Ez. 8:14). Scholars in recent years have gotten away from earlier theories that Christianity was simply copied from pagan ideas and are focusing instead on Christianity's inspirations from Judaism. So I can't say that Jesus is just a transvestite version of Inanna/Ishtar, but it's obvious that if Jesus' parents were Jewish, his grandparents were pagan. This is why Christians, every Easter, prominently feature such pagan fertility symbols as fresh flowers, egg-carrying rabbits and bright green grass. They're honoring the ancient fertility deities--mother goddess Inanna/Ishtar; grain god Osiris; and rain god Adad, aka Baal, the dying/resurrected son of the Canaanite/Israelite high god El, who is revived through a grain-sowing ritual. Truly, some things under the sun never change. (William Sierichs' address is printed on page 8 at the end of his article.) 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