From the Mailbag From the Mailbag I have never subscribed to Skeptical Review, but I have
From the Mailbag
From the Mailbag
I have never subscribed to Skeptical Review, but I have read one
issue. Enclosed is $4 for a subscription. If I have missed any issues
that would be included in this subscription, please send them.
Do not think me foolish for enclosing cash. If you had been a
Christian, I would have sent a federal money order, registered mail,
(Adam P. Currie, 3519 22nd Street, Meridian, MS 39301.)
We recently received our first copy of _The_Skeptical_
I wasn't sure quite what to expect when I sent off for it and was
therefore knocked for a loop when I read it. Several weeks later, I am
And several weeks and numerous re-readings later, I am still left
dazed and reeling by Lindell Mitchell's incredible dismissal of the
Amalekite massacre as possibly a calamity but not an atrocity. I have
trouble believing anyone could seriously argue as he does--or that his
friends and co-religionists are not shocked to hear him put forth such a
defense of slaughter.
Please send me the 3 booklets mentioned in the newsletter:
1 Laws-Till Debate....... 2.50
1 Jackson-Till Debate.. 2.50
1 Prophecies.................. 2.50
Also please send me all 16 back issues of TSR. Enclosed is a money
This newsletter deserves a much wider distribution. Good wishes on
your continued success!
(Elizabeth Dyak, 304 Sunnyland, rear, Pittsburgh, PA 15227.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ms. Dyak may rest assured that most of Mitchell's
colleagues will not be at all shocked at his defense of the Amalekite
massacre. The same defense that he made is what they preach to their
gullible pulpit audiences.
As I was reading Ms. Dyak's letter, a thought occurred to me.
Mitchell did indeed admit that the Amale- kite massacre was a "terrible
calamity" (Winter 1994, p. 4), so I wonder how he is able to know that it
was a calamity in the absence of an objective (absolute) standard of
calamity against which he can measure "thoughts, words, and deeds."
Please RUSH me a copy of your journal. I am surrounded by
literalists... daily letters to the editor in 2 of 3 papers I read.
Themes: USA is a Christian nation founded on the Bible.... It is a lie
and a myth that there is separation of church/state.... Secular humanism
is a religion and is being taught in public schools.... There is only one
God, our Lord and Savior....
(N. Z. Cassidy, P. O. Box 72, Fallbrook, CA 92088-0072.)
I heard mention of _The_Skeptical_Review_ on a computer BBS,
and I think I'd be interested in taking a look. Could you add me to your
mailing list? Thanks.
(Dave House, P. O Box 111, Essexville, MI 48732-0111.)
In the January/February issue of The Humanist, I saw your ad for a
quarterly journal refuting Biblical fundamentalism. I have not had the
opportunity to see this journal and would very much appreciate it if you
would put me on your list for that "free first-year subscription"
mentioned in the ad.
My own former fundamentalist perceptions not only failed to redress
various personal problems in my own life but in many ways exacerbated
those problems to the point that I now find myself in prison. Fortunately
for me, I have had the past 15 years to reevaluate and sift through much
in my life, including those entrenched fundamentalist beliefs and values.
I should explain that my former beliefs were no small thing in my former
life. I was indoctrinated in fundamentalism since a small child, was
reading portions out of the Greek New Testa- ment before I graduated from
high school, and then went on for 3 years of theological training at one
of the most fundamentalist schools in the nation at that time. Anyway,
over those past years I have reformed a good deal of my previous views,
including fundamentalism, its position of "literalism," "inspiration," and
bibliology in general. So I would very much like to read some of your
reflections on similar subjects.
Please send that subscription to me at the address below.
(Bob Dornbusch, OTF-160255, P.O. Box 5000, Carson City, MI
Thank you for _The_Skeptical_Review_ Winter 1994. I am very
well pleased with it. It is so very very awful that I never got in contact
with people like you sooner, like 1979 or any time afterwards. I am still
very frightened from what the Bible has done to my poor self since 79. I
still kind of believe it, but when you tell me about Abraham and Sarah and
Abimelech, I wonder just how many other stupid things in the Bible I've
overlooked! Well done, Mr Till! I read your letter over and over front
to back. I love it!!! I would love to read your Prophecies: Imaginary
I am still unsure of that Holy (unholy) Bible, but please please by
no means, don't you dare take me off your subscription list. If all your
letters are as great as volume five, number one, winter 1994, then I am
going to be on my way to recovery....
(William Kotis, 2199 Kamehameha Highway, Honolulu, HI 96819.)
The Arizona Student Atheists would like all of TSR on this disk
[enclosed] so that we can distribute some articles to hungry minds.
(Erik Mickelson, 9827 Longford Drive, Tucson, AZ 85741-9501.)
I just received my first issue of _The_Skeptical_Review_
today. I love it!!! In fact, I was so impressed with it that I would
like to order back issues for every other issue ever published. I have
been challenged by some fundamentalist (and I don't mean that in a
derogatory sense) Christians to investigate the evidence for the alleged
physical resurrection of Jesus. They maintain that the Bible is the
inerrant Word of God and that the New Testament is the most historically
reliable set of ancient manuscripts we possess today. They also happen to
be major fans of Josh McDowell, whom I am sure you are familiar with.
Needless to say, I found your publi- cation a refreshing perspective after
all of their one-sided tracts and books. And I hope you will publish a
transcript of your debate with Norman Geisler. That would be worth its
weight in gold to me....
Would you ever be willing to come out to Seattle and do a debate on
New Testament reliability, the resurrection, etc.? In a month, we are
sponsoring a debate on New Testament reliability between an SPU professor
and a professor at the University of Washington. However, both of them
claim to be believers of one sort or another. It would be nice to have
someone like you for a future debate so that we could have a believer
versus a nonbeliever.
I also read your response to the letter mentioning computer BBSes.
In response (and in gratitude for the free year's subscription), I typed
in your article entitled, "No Morality Without the Bible?" and posted it
on the Internet. Specifically, I posted it to the Usenet newsgroups
alt.atheism and talk.religion.misc. And I gave your address so that
people may contact you if they were interested in a subscription.
(Jeffery J. Lowder, Seattle Pacific University, SUB Box 1692,
Seattle, WA 98119-1997.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I will be happy to debate the issue of the
resurrection (or other biblical matters) at Seattle Pacific University if
it can be held at a time compatible with my teaching schedule or after I
retire in 1995. May I suggest that the student organization invite Josh
McDowell to represent the Christian position. After securing his
agreement, they may then wish to teach pigs how to fly.
Let me play the prophet. The personal computer, probably more than
any other single factor, will eventually drive the final nail into the
coffin of Bible inerrancy. The 18th and 19th centuries produced enough
works in biblical criticism to kill the myth of inerrancy ten times over,
but the general public was unaware of the information because it was
suppressed. Clergymen never told their congregations about it, and few
libraries stocked the books that published it. Whatever was
uncomplimentary to Christianity was kept from the sheep.
In the information age that we are now living in, the suppression
can no longer be sustained. Facts about the Bible's origin, its flagrant
plagiarism of pagan beliefs, and its inconsistencies and contradictions
now flow freely through computer networks. A revolution in religious
thinking is inevitable.
Now who will be the first bibliolater to tell me that the "word of
God" will live and abide forever?
Thanks for the loan of the tapes of your debate with "Buster"
Dobbs. You may receive this card first, but the tapes are on their way.
I enjoyed the debate but found some parts embarrassing to sit through. In
More Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell says atheists and agnostics resort to
irrational methods of argumentation when they reject the supernatural as a
valid explanation of life's mysteries. I felt that Mr. Dobbs worked from
the same premise. His position is not far removed at all from a bumper
sticker I saw: The Bible said it, I believe it, and that settles it. I'm
not equipped to critique the whole debate, but Mr. Dobbs seemed very
peeved at your resistance to accepting his generalities as well as your
insistence on debating specifics. I have run into the same tactic, i.e.,
if I can't explain how the universe came to be then that "proves" that the
only other available explana- tion is Genesis. I've known people who
consider me a satanist because I do not believe in the existence of a
monotheistic god. It's hard to negotiate with such a point of view....
(Bill Courtney, 5620 183 SW, Apt. 210, Lynnwood, WA 98037.)
I'm sending you something I'm copying from The Workbook on
Spiritual Disciplines by Maxie Dunnam. The piece is called "The Cloud of
Unknowing" by an anonymous writer.
"Silence is not God, nor speaking; fasting is not God, nor
feasting; solitude is not God, nor company.... He lies hidden between
them and no work of yours can possibly discover Him save only your heart's
love. Reason cannot fully know Him for He cannot be thought, possessed or
discovered by the mind. But loved He may be and chosen by the artless,
affectionate longing of your heart. Choose Him, then, and you will find
that your speech has become silent, your silence eloquent, your fasting a
feast, your feasting a fast, and so on. Choose God in love... for this
blind thrust, this keen shaft of longing love will never miss the mark,
Mr. Till, I promise to pray for you every day that you may return
to the joy of your First Love!
(Nikki Kaley, 505 West Washington, Lewistown, IL 61542.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: As a former Christian fundamentalist, I can
certainly understand Mrs. Kaley's motivation, and I know that she wrote
this letter with the best of intentions. However, I hope she will somehow
under- stand me when I say that I would much prefer that she attempt a
logical response to my arguments rather than that she pray for my return
to my "First Love." Something that she probably doesn't realize is that I
still to this day have nightmares in which I find myself sitting on the
front pew with Bible in hand, waiting for the congregation to finish the
hymn that will be my cue to step into the pulpit and start preaching.
When I wake up, I experience inexpressible relief from knowing that it was
only a dream and that I won't have to stand in the pulpit and say things I
know I don't believe as I did back when I was struggling to come to terms
with my unbelief. So why would I ever consider returning to something
that has left psychological wounds that thirty years have not been long
enough to heal?
Mrs. Kaley's letter probably came in response to a letter of mine
that was published in a local newspaper in which I pointed out parallels
in the lives of Jesus and the many pagan savior-gods who were worshiped
long before him. Rather than try to disprove my arguments, she chose to
ignore them completely, just as if they didn't matter, and to her, of
course, they don't matter. Nothing matters except her blind allegiance to
a faith system that hasn't a shred of logic in it. All the prayers that
she could possibly utter the rest of her life if she did nothing else but
pray continuously could ever make me respect that kind of mentality.
As for the prayers she is uttering for me, I wish I had a nickle
for everyone who has told me he is praying for me. There must be
thousands of people out there praying for me at any given moment. So I
wonder when we can expect to see any results from all these prayers. God
wants all men to be saved: "This is good and acceptable in the sight of
God our saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Therefore, if the Bible is truly
the infallible word of God, as Mrs. Kaley no doubt believes, then she must
agree that God certainly wants Farrell Till to be saved. So I see a
dilemma for her when this scripture is considered in conjunction with 1
John 5:14-15: "And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if
we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that
he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which
we have asked of him." Now please notice that this passage does not say
that if we ask anything according to God's will, he may hear us and grant
it; it flatly says that we can know that he hears it and will give us what
From this, I can only conclude that the New Testament promises that
God will hear and grant the prayer of any Christian who asks ANYTHING in
accordance with God's will. So since it is obviously God's will that
Farrell Till be saved, then why haven't the many prayers on my behalf been
answered? I once presented this dilemma to a Baptist preacher who had
told me that he was praying for me. His response was that I am not dead
yet, so there is still the possibility that I will yet be "saved." I
suppose that he is technically right, but if I should die without
returning to my former beliefs--and I really don't believe there is even a
remote possibility that I will return--would this not constitute logical
proof that the Bible is not inerrant?
We could even extend the dilemma by noting that the passage in 1
Timothy clearly says that God wants all men to be saved. Since it is the
will of God that all men be saved, in order to have all men be saved, one
should only have to pray for the salvation of all men to happen.
Otherwise, the statement in 1 John 5:14-15 is erroneous. However, the
salvation of all men cannot occur without causing other problems for the
Bible inerrancy doctrine. The Bible clearly teaches that some men will be
lost; in fact, it teaches that most men will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). If
most men will be lost, then obviously all men can't be saved. If all men
can't be saved, even though a faithful, believing Christian might pray for
all men to be saved, then 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 1 John 5:14-15 cannot both
be true statements.
This is just one dilemma that Mrs. Kaley will discover when she
applies logic to her studies of the Bible. There are many more that I
could point out. However, since logic is of no concern to her and those
of like persuasion, I don't suppose it will matter to her that she has
committed herself to an activity (prayer on my behalf every day) that is
Please remove my name immediately from your mailing list. I am a
FIRM believer and NO ONE can take my experiences from me.
I'm not interested in your TRASH-- and I have more important things
to do in this life than pick the Bible apart. What do you expect to gain
from it anyway? Silly! If you don't believe in it--DON'T read it. If
you don't like what you hear or see on the air waves (if your wrist isn't
broken), turn the dial or switch. You have the option to believe or not.
I have no desire to discuss or argue any of your issues. Life is too
precious to waste it in being rebellious or critical.
I know Christ exists. I've had two personal experiences some years
ago-- and no one can change my mind or my love for Him.
I shall continue to pray for you. Your paper goes straight in the
(Mildred M. Bahn, 636 Pearl Street, Lancaster, PA 17603-5010.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ho hum, another Christian who has had a "personal
experience"! If I had a penny for every Christian who has had a personal
experience with Jesus, I could retire a rich man. The only problem, of
course, is that "personal experiences" are purely emotional and
psychological, so in terms of evidence or proof they are absolutely
worthless. Moslems have "personal experiences" and so do Mormons, Hindus,
Sikhs, and you name it. If it is a religion, it has its believers who
have had personal experiences.
If a Moslem should tell Ms. Bahn that he is a FIRM believer in the
prophet Mohammed and has had two "personal experiences" that NO ONE can
take away from him, so therefore he KNOWS that Mohammed is Allah's
prophet, would this mean anything to her? Would she see this testimony of
"personal experience" as proof that Islam is God's true religion?
Certainly not--yet she expects us to accept her testimony of personal
experiences as absolute proof that Christ exists.
Of all the arguments that Christians use, the personal-experience
one is by far the most idiotic. If I should claim that I have had two
"personal experiences" in which God informed me that the Bible is a hoax
that Satan perpetrated in order to deceive the world and that NO ONE can
take those experiences from me and make me believe that the Bible is God's
word, how many Christians would accept this as proof that their view of
the Bible is erroneous? None of them would, yet they seem to think that
we should accept without question that they have had "personal
experiences" that confirm the truth of their belief in Jesus. That anyone
would even offer such "evidence" as proof of his faith merely shows that
he is incapable of logical reasoning. That is exactly the situation that
Ms. Bahn finds herself in.
She wonders why we read the Bible if we don't believe it and why we
don't just turn the dial or switch when we hear something about it on the
air waves. Well, I'll make a deal with Ms. Bahn. If she will get her side
to do the same and just not read the books and magazines and see the
movies and TV programs they find objectionable rather than trying to ban
them everywhere for everyone and if she will get her side to stop trying
to force its "Christian-nation" agenda onto our society through the
various tactics that Bible fundamentalists are using to influence
legislative and judicial decisions, then I will stop publishing _The
Skeptical_Review_. Until then, we will continue to publish evidence
that clearly shows that people like Ms. Bahn are living in fantasyland.
She said that "(l)ife is too precious to waste it in being
rebellious or critical," and so what did she do? She sat down and wrote a
critical letter that demonstrates a rebellious attitude toward the world's
best biblical scholarship. No, we are not laying claim to being the
world's best scholarship, but we do claim to have that scholarship on our
side. The Bible inerrancy doctrine has been so thoroughly discredited
that few serious scholars believe it anymore. Reputable seminaries no
longer teach it to their students, and their professors freely admit that
the Bible is riddled with myths and legends. In the position that she
tries to defend, then, Ms. Bahn has simply demonstrated that she is
willing to waste part of her precious life to rebel against what the
world's foremost scholars say about biblical origins. In this respect,
she puts herself into the position of those who were outraged by Galileo's
an- nouncement of a scientific discovery that conflicted with their view
of what the Bible taught. Who knows? Maybe some of those who opposed
Galileo had had "personal experiences" that made them absolutely certain
that the sun revolved around the earth.
I will agree with Ms. Bahn in one thing: life is indeed precious.
It is much too precious to waste clinging to a faith that had its origin
in superstitious times when mystics thought that God routinely talked to
them and commanded deeds as ignominious as the murder and rape of children
(Num. 31:17-18). We aren't praying for Ms. Bahn, of course, but we do
sincerely hope that some day she will come to her senses.
I have written a personal letter to inform her that she was
receiving _The_Skeptical_Review_ at the request of another subscriber
who will be notified that she thinks it is TRASH, so if she should ever
attempt to win her friend to Jesus through testimony of her "personal
experiences," he just might tell her what he thinks about her personal
experiences. I further assured her that her name would be removed from
our mailing list, because we can see no need to send TSR to someone who is
just going to throw it "straight in the trash." Also, we can see nothing
to gain from casting our pearls before swine.
Thank you so much for existing!
I defected from the Jehovah's Witness cult as a teenager. Most of
my family, going back four generations (which is about as far back as
the JW's go), belong to that group. I am 27 now and find that there still
are ridiculous beliefs left over from them that I have to remove one by
one from my brain. While there are many ideas regarding religion that are
perhaps unknowable, whether or not the Bible contradicts itself, is not
one of them. The following quote, from a J. W. tract, stimulated me to
begin a search for the best quality and most valid contradictions:
While some may claim the Bible contradicts itself, has anyone
ever shown you an actual example? We have never seen one that
could withstand scrutiny. True, there may appear to be
discrepancies in certain bible accounts. But the problem usually
is lack of knowledge regarding details and circumstances of the
times (From the tract "Why You Can Trust the Bible").
I am looking for some more quotes like the one above showing the
rigid fundamentalist position. For over a year now, I have been compiling
contradictions that I hope to put into a small book. I expect your
publications and videos will be of great benefit to me.
(Darrel Henschell, 3633 East Huntsville Road, Fayetteville, AR
EDITOR'S NOTE: We are always gratified to receive letters like this
one, and we receive them quite often. To know that so many are finding
their way out of the absurdities of Bible fundamentalism restores our
faith in humanity. It is encouraging to see that at least some who are
indoctrinated in Bible fundamentalism as children refuse to let their
adult lives be ruled by emotionalism.
I just wanted to say that The Skeptcal Review is a brilliant piece
of work. You include arguments from both sides which makes your journal
stimulating to read. Your exchange with Lindell Mitchell on the Amalekite
massacre was very interesting indeed! After you had made a strong and
very compelling case for your position, I almost couldn't believe that an
intelligent and educated man like Mr. Mitchell went on to defend a total
act of barbarism. I gave a copy of your debate to a Lutheran minister I
know. After reading your article and Mr. Mitchell's, he said it was
(Jason Munroe, 70 Nottingham Road, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada,
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank