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Jesus: The Greatest Con Man to Ever Live

Jesus: The Greatest Con Man to Ever Live

The Great Jesus Conspiracy

(AKA, Christians are either wicked, or fools, sometimes both)

Copyright Anthony Horvath 2004


How the document transcribed below came to me I cannot divulge. My hope is that I can get it into the mainstream before my fate becomes like those of the original author, and those that followed. You will soon see what I mean. In order to maintain my integrity I need to point out that though I received the document as a whole, it seems that the document really recorded fragments. I took the liberty of filling in the gaps in order to make the document as coherent as possible. The part that I had to include is put in brackets [ ] so that all will be able to tell which parts of this terrible story which were part of the original document and which parts- though authentic- were my own inclusion.If anyone disputes the translation of this document, the original Greek is available upon request. I make this document out to be written 35-45 AD. Only one conclusion is clear from this stunning account: The greatest fraud in all of history has been hoisted upon us and many people have bought it wholesale. And dangerous people know it is a fraud, but perpetuate it for their own reasons. Read, and see. Signed, Anthony Horvath.


[ One’s guilt can only be assuaged for so long before at last a man must speak. For some people, time provides the layers of earth by which to bury that guilt and if enough of it has been heaped on, nothing springs forth. Alas, for me the guilt was laid bare in one fateful moment as I watched that wretched and innocent man die on account of his faith. Given recent events, you already know I mean Stephen. But I can no longer contain the truth I know. Being in my place in life, one sees many things. I have been in Jerusalem well long enough to have seen many things of great consequence. I no longer wish to participate, especially if this scourge is allowed to continue.

In my work as a Roman officer I was stationed often in Jerusalem, that vilest of cities. I knew the so-called Jesus of Nazareth personally, for I was part of his plot. He came to me knowing that I had influence. He astounded me with the plan envisioned in his mind. On his lips, a cruel smile. “How fun,” he said, “It would be to pretend that I am the messiah! I will pay you good money if you will protect me as I make sport of my fellow countrymen.” I replied, “You are a poor man, Jesus. You will need money to buy my life besides, for I would surely be put to death if I dishonored my position as a Roman officer.”

This Jesus smiled and told me that the surest way to make money is to start a religion, and he had a fair plan to do just that. For three years I protected him and as he said, he was well paid. Contriving the miracles to persuade the Jews was something he took great pleasure in. I myself found it merry. Looking back I regret it. The feeding of the five thousand? Look at me Walking on WaterAccomplished with baskets with false bottoms! Walking on the water in the midst of a storm? I myself watched him lay the planks of wood just inches below the water extending out three stadia! The healing of the blind man? Merely a man he had paid off in advance. This goes to show you the wickedness of this man. When both were young men, Jesus approached the man and involved him in his plot, convincing him to spend his next 15 years pretending to be blind so that he could persuade the gullible Jews that he had actually been healed. Jesus paid this boy handsomely for his 15 years of wallowing outside the temple.

There are many examples like this. But the worst was the plot that his disciples and he himself hatched in order to spring something new upon the Jews. He would make light of them by convincing them he was the messiah, but then be killed, and have others pretend he was risen. The disciples, of course, were co-conspirators. I was present in Jesus last days as he carefully manipulated the Jews to come to a point where they would be compelled to kill him. It cost him a great deal of money to fake miracles throughout town. Truly, he was a master at such illusions, and no less in convincing people to pretend to have ailments for decades in order to make the most compelling illusion.

I pause again. The woman bleeding for years? She merely carried a sponge from the Mediterranean that she soaked with red colored water and dripped down her leg as she walked. I was there when he ‘healed’ her. Their eyes fluttered together with mischief at the great prank (editors note: likely, they were winking back and forth). But the paralytic showed real dedication to his mission. Pretending to be completely helpless all those years for the sake of promised fortune and for exploitation of Jewish susceptibility. I was not there when he was lowered through the roof to be ‘healed’ but I am sure he was hooting with suppressed laughter all the while.

But the greatest mischief was his last days. Knowing the great cost involved in pulling off this illusion, Jesus went over the final details of his great deception with me, swearing me to great secrecy and giving me great deals of treasure in advance. He had upon his body a checklist (editor: original word here was ‘spreadsheet.’ That can’t be right?). Knowing that he had found several Old Testament Scriptures that he had ‘fulfilled’ even before he was born, having been born in Bethlehem, re-locating to Alexandria in Egypt on account of his father’s import and export business of fine balsa wood, and then returning to live in Nazareth- all before he had any way to influence the course of such events, he set about to plan also the details of his death in accordance with some Scriptures. He chose among them for his checklist something from the Psalms.

He said to me, “Now, everything revolves around the proper timing of things. In order for people to be convinced, I shall alert them to the ‘prophecy’ I am going to be fulfilling by reciting the first line of the Psalm. That line is, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ You must do as I say and have others do as I say or no one will believe the deception.” The Psalm was Psalm 22. He showed unto me verses 7-8, and said, “In this passage David is being mocked. I will be David. I will pay a man fine treasure to be crucified with me and instruct him to say something very similar.”

Evil GrinI objected immediately: “Jesus, you plan on being crucified? How will you arrange such a thing? Do you even have Pilate in your sway?” Jesus flashed again his wicked smile and uttered something incomprehensible sounding very much like, “Pilate is one of my poker buddies.” I did not understand any of this, but I did as I was told on account of the great wealth Jesus was giving to me.

He continued to saith unto me, “I will pay a man to be crucified next to me in order that this prophecy will be fulfilled. Only the daft will not see the similarity. But you must be sure to stretch me out well so that my bones are nearly out of joint. You must be prepared to offer me gall so that I can pretend to be thirsty. Please, my dear friend, put something especially strong in the gall, for I shall be in great pain. After this, you must take charge and offer my clothing to your guards. Give them lots to cast. If you need more money to pay them to do this at the proper time, see Judas, and he will accommodate you.”

The way in which he brought upon this gruesome death was again mastery. In order that he may have both his hands and his feet pierced, he instigated the Jews to want him dead by pretending to do miracles, toying with them in regards to his position on his messianic nature, and then ransacking the temple with such vigor that a detachment of Roman guards was dispatched to regain order. I saw Jesus leave with a smile on his face, and he handed me a bag of gold he had confiscated. The Jews were outraged. At this point, Jesus met with his disciples to make the final revisions and sent word through Judas to the Jewish leaders that Jesus meant to be at a certain location. At this time, Jesus also alerted Pilate to the fact that his plan was going to begin.

Pilate played the Jews as well as Jesus had, sending Jesus first to Herod and then delaying the verdict as long as he could. This was important in order that the disciples could prepare the tomb with provisions so that they may stay in the tomb in hiding so that they may later flee with the body of Jesus through a secret trap door. As part of the deal, Pilate had Jesus beaten and flogged. When Pilate finally received word that the preparations were done, I personally witnessed the smirk they shared between the two of them. True to the prophecy (or so I was told), Jesus said nothing in his defense and went like a lamb to the slaughter.

For my own part I was amazed that Jesus had been successful this far. I gave my cue to the mob to encircle and mock him according to the checklist. When at last it came time for him to die, I personally gave the final spear to end all things. My part was not yet over. Knowing Jesus’ claims of rising from the dead, the Pharisees and such went to Pilate to demand a guard be placed at the tomb to prevent the disciples from making off with the body. Jesus had anticipated this by having the disciples in the tomb in advance, paying off Pilate with hordes of gold to goad the Jews, and paying off me and my twenty soldiers to stand by the tomb and ‘protect it.’

The only problem was that the Jews sent their own guards on account of mistrust of the Romans. Jesus anticipated this as well by leaving extra sums of money and of course a specially engineered tomb. The Jewish guards would be paid to say that they’d all fallen asleep and the disciples managed to move that heavy stone without waking a soul. Jesus knew that the Jewish leaders, upon learning of the disappearance of the body, would inspect the tomb, but once convinced the body was gone, would pay both Roman and Jewish soldier alike to say what in fact was the truth- that the disciples had stolen the body- in order that they may not be disgraced. So both Roman and Jewish soldiers would be paid twice for their part in the deception. It would come to pass in this way.

The body of Jesus was not long in the grave before the disciples made off with him. Even I did not suspect the next part of his plan. I learned later that there was a Psalm about the “Holy One” not seeing decay, so he had to now show mastery over death. In his notes left for us for use after the crucifixion, there was nothing for the Roman soldiers on this point. I was told about it later by that wicked Peter over a drink at the pub. The body of Jesus was taken to receive cosmetic treatments so he would look fit. The disciples walked the streets with a skeleton of wood supporting Jesus body covered by his clothes. The disciples would move Jesus’ head by use of their hands and since their arms and legs were tied as one, it seemed as though Jesus were really walking.

And three thousand believed in a single day.

I had thought nothing more of the matter, on account of the great profit I had, until it became evident that people were really believing the deception. Who could have known? I was not the only one who felt as such. Judas himself thought to go public but Peter, hadst him whacked. The disciples, however showed no remorse. They perpetuated their deception throughout their world converting many. Some of them have already gone to their deaths rather than betray the joke. I had no guilt until others saw this self-sacrifice and also began dying. Like Stephen. In fact, I should say….]

Editor: The document breaks off suddenly and new handwriting begins underneath it. Again, I have included the helpful brackets.

[I, Caissious Clay, pick up the pen of this noble man. Given the task of killing this noble man before he could spread the word of truth throughout the countryside, have now read the full account, and knowing now the full depths of the deception that Jesus and his kin have spread upon all of Israel, feel great remorse. I only wish now I could withdraw my dagger…]

Editor: The document again breaks off suddenly and continues with new handwriting.

[Anticipating that Caissious Clay would grow weak and make some failure, I myself was sent to see the job was done.]

Editor: There appears to have been a pause. The handwriting remains the same, but a different ink is used.

[I too now regret having laid my hand upon that noble Clay who had killed the righteous Centurion I have read the full account and can only surmise that the truth must be told. I here certify that the deceptions was really a deception- innocent and gullible sheep beware….]

Editor: Again, a break and new handwriting.

[Having come upon a heap of bodies I sought to add to them by killing the former author while he was at his pen. Only after I read the full account do I know that their cause was just….]

Assassin’s BladeEditor: The final break is here, with new handwriting.

[Jesus was right when he told me never to send a boy to do a man’s job. In my gratitude for being released by Pilate instead of Jesus, I was tasked as part of the deal to keep an eye on those who might betray the deception. It seems I have come just in time. If the morons believe such a ridiculous story, I say they deserve it. I must now conceal three bodies.]

Editor: Given the fate of others who attempted to reveal the grand deception, you can tell that I am risking everything even releasing what I have. I could not even begin to consider revealing how this document has come to me. It is the only document as far as I know of that contradicts explicitly the claims contained in the New Testament. I will say this much: It is only an act of God that has brought it down to us today, so that in fact now we may all know the truth.

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    • f0ru0l0rd on March 5, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Um… there were no verses at that time in the Old Testament.

    Sorry to tell you… But I think you’ve been duped.

    • Stathei on March 6, 2011 at 12:07 am

    This is a pathetic hoax, obvious from the first sentence. Atheists don’t need crap like this to dismiss your cult, SJ, and you know it only too well. Your little flourishes (“How the document transcribed below came to me I cannot divulge”, “the original Greek is available upon request” – oh, please) only serve to make it even more hilarious.

    The only conceivable reason you put this up is to pretend that this is the sort of depth to which evil unbelievers need to stoop in order to cast doubt on what you “know” to be true. In fact, it shows the depth to which evil believers like yourself are forced to stoop in order to discredit those of us who don’t share your beliefs.

    How pathetic is it to deceptively use a laughable hoax in extreme bad faith to try to shore up your cult? Just about as pathetic as it gets. You are more than prepared to lie when it suits you and have shamelessly done so on multiple occasions. This is just another.

    • End Bringer on March 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    “Atheists don’t need crap like this to dismiss your cult, SJ, and you know it only too well.”

    Yes Stathei, we’re all too aware of the fact that atheists like you have loads and loads of more “crap” to call upon to maintain that little bubble of security you live in. 😉

    • Stathei on March 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    At least we have SOMETHING to call upon…;)

    • End Bringer on March 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    True, but I don’t think sheer denial is all that impressive.

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Whether it’s true or not, it’s at the very least more plausible than the events described in the bible.

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It’s true. And it’s equally as plausable or even more than events as held by atheism/evolution.

    See? I can assert too. 😉

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    So, are you saying that “An immaterial all-powerful being created a fruit tree and told two people who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it but they did because they didn’t know right from wrong so he punished them and everyone else even though they didn’t do anything and then spent a few thousand years making his chosen people wander around the desert and committed a few genocides and turned the odd person into salt and asked fathers to kill their children and cut off random body parts as a symbol of some idiotic covenant that he repealed and re-issued several times and laid down a few crimes that warrant death like picking up sticks on a certain day of the week or talking back to your parents before sending his son who was himself to be born from a virgin and dabble in carpentry and plagiarise other moral philosophers and needlessly kill the odd fig tree and throw temper tantrums in temples before being tortured and killed (despite asking his father who was himself if he had to go through with it but deciding that his father’s will which was his own will be done) and spending three days in hell and then rising from the dead because that was the only possible way that all the people who he had punished because the two original idiots had eaten a piece of fruit could be forgiven for a crime that wasn’t their fault” is more plausible than “Some people made it all up”?

    • Anthony on March 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm
      Author

    At some point I would like to hear someone speak to where these standards of plausibility are coming from? Is there a baseline universe somewhere I’m unaware of that allows us to decide which universal explanations are more likely than others? How many universes have you experienced, Tim, in order to know which explanations are more plausible than others?

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Compared to the idea that a cosmological, ecological, and biological system more complex than a car or the computer your typing on to ramble strawman and inaccuracies was thrown together by purely random chance? Absolutely.

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I guess they come from our innate common sense, paired with our past experiences. To a child, with less common sense and less life experience, perhaps those two stories do seem equally likely.

    Likelihood is, of course, only partially related to truth. Life is extraordinarily unlikely, yet here we are. The DNA sequence of which I personally am comprised is, again, ridiculously unlikely… but again, here I am. When assessing unproven claims, however, likelihood is very important. Common sense would seem to say that less likely explanations should be viewed less favourably… or at least, that’s what my own common sense tells me.

    Consider this… you have lived alone on a desert island for the last 20 years. You have never seen another human on the island. You awake one morning to find a set of footprints on the beach. Now, you don’t recall walking on that part of the beach for quite a while, so where did the footprints come from? Did you walk there, but just not remember? Is there, in fact, someone else living on the island? Did someone visit the island and then leave? Was it an alien with feet shaped just like a human? Was it an immaterial, timeless, all-powerful being who is using the footprints to send you a message? Or did you sleepwalk?

    All of these explanations are technically possible. But which is the most likely? Or at least, which may be excluded for practical purposes, based on their high improbability, which is in turn based on your own past experiences and knowledge of the world?

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    End Bringer… please identify the strawmen and inaccuracies from my previous post.

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Pretty much everything after “An immaterial all-powerful being created a fruit tree and told two people who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it…”.

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Can you give a specific example, and explain how it is a strawman and / or inaccuracy?

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Also, I appreciate your implicit confirmation of “An immaterial all-powerful being created a fruit tree and told two people who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it”.

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    How about you just actually read the Bible to find out for yourself if you’re so interested.

    • Anthony on March 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm
      Author

    “I guess they come from our innate common sense, paired with our past experiences.”

    ‘our’? You mean your. Let’s suppose that my innate common sense is different than yours, as of course my past experiences are, too. Now what? Your ‘innate common sense’ and ‘past experiences’ are more valid than mine?

    “Likelihood is, of course, only partially related to truth.”

    Agreed.

    “When assessing unproven claims, however, likelihood is very important.”

    It’s importance has to be kept in perspective, however. If I say that I flipped a coin and it came up heads, you can reason that the likelihood was 50%- a reasonable potentiality, I think you would agree. You wouldn’t argue against the claim, though it is still possible I was lying. But now what if I say that I flipped a Gooba-gooba and it came up feathers. What would you say the likelihood of that was?

    “Common sense would seem to say that less likely explanations should be viewed less favourably… or at least, that’s what my own common sense tells me.”

    But that isn’t actually how you operate in real life. As you said, your particular DNA code is highly unlikely, yet here it is. Every day, 1 in a trillion events take place but you don’t dispute them. Each has infinitely unlikely chains of causality leading to them. I don’t think this is how you really evaluate evidence in general. I think you raise this standard of ‘common sense’ only for certain kinds of claims. Eg, those that smack of ‘religious’ interpretations.

    “All of these explanations are technically possible. But which is the most likely?”

    lol, well, this may be me, but I would take a set of human foot prints as prima facie evidence that humans created them. I would consider something else if the evidence warranted it. You didn’t give me any reason to suppose that an “an immaterial, timeless, all-powerful being who is using the footprints to send you a message” may be present. Do you think people invoke ‘an immaterial, timeless, all-powerful being’ just for fun?

    One invokes an explanation commensurate with the thing presented for explanation. A human foot print is prima facie evidence of the existence of a human. Likelihood doesn’t enter into this analysis at all. Only if there were some other bit of phenomena present would I be justified in searching out other explanations.

    But then, I have seen humans and their foot prints, and so I have actual past experience to draw on in making any likelihood calculations if I were to do so. You have seen thousands of humans and hundreds of their footprints. Your past experience actually brings something to the table on the matter. But you have only seen one universe- the one that you’re presently in- and so have no way of knowing from past experience or common sense whether any explanation is more likely than another.

    The question is unanswerable on probability grounds. If it is to be answered (and possibly no answer is possible) it will have to come from some other direction.

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Congratulations, End Bringer… Another question successfully avoided!

    And I have read the bible. Why do you think I’m an atheist?

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    I admit, I tend to give irrelevant issues little attention. And if your strawman rambling is any indication, I’d suggest you read again.

    • End Bringer on March 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    My apologies. I should have said – ‘irrelevant issues that are clearly a dodge from the topic being discussed’ as your line of asking whats a specific strawman clearly is.

    • Timaahy on March 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    You’ve made an accusation, I’m merely requesting that you back it up with a specific example. The fact that you won’t is very enlightening.

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “You mean your.”

    No, I mean “our”.

    “Let’s suppose that my innate common sense is different than yours, as of course my past experiences are, too.”

    There’s no need for suppositions, since that is precisely what my use of the word “our” implied.

    “Now what? Your ‘innate common sense’ and ‘past experiences’ are more valid than mine?”

    Perhaps. I will return this point further down.

    “It’s importance has to be kept in perspective, however.”

    And it’s importance is heavily influenced by the consequences of the truth claim being made. If you had told me that if the coin came up heads you would give me a dollar, I don’t think I would bother verifying that you were telling the truth. It would be a different story if you told me that, instead of giving me a dollar, you would shoot me in the head.

    Both issues apply to your gooba-gooba. On the one hand, I have never heard of a gooba-gooba. This, of course, does not mean gooba-goobas don’t exist, but my own experiences will (quite reasonably) lead me to give your claim a low likelihood. On the other hand, what are you claiming will happen as a result of the gooba-gooba coming up feathers?

    “I think you raise this standard of ‘common sense’ only for certain kinds of claims.”

    Yes, exactly.

    “lol, well, this may be me, but I would take a set of human foot prints as prima facie evidence that humans created them”

    Again, exactly. You have used your own knowledge to exclude some possibilities on the basis of their extreme improbability.

    “You didn’t give me any reason to suppose that an “an immaterial, timeless, all-powerful being who is using the footprints to send you a message” may be present.”

    Bingo.

    “Likelihood doesn’t enter into this analysis at all.”

    Yes, it absolutely does. It is entirely possible that an all-powerful being put those footprints there to send you a message, or to trick you, or whatever. If that was what had actually happened, you would be looking at exactly the same evidence as if they were your own footprints from sleepwalking the night before. You reject the former conclusion precisely because it is unlikely.

    “But you have only seen one universe- the one that you’re presently in- and so have no way of knowing from past experience or common sense whether any explanation is more likely than another.”

    I really don’t see how you can say that. Yes, I have only seen one universe, and only one set of physical laws, and only one planet. But, much like the man on the island, I can make reasonable probability statements based on past observations. I may turn out to be wrong, but that doesn’t make my assessment of likelihood unreasonable, as my rightness or wrongness will only be known once the claim has been conclusively proven. Until then, it is perfectly reasonable to make educated guesses and, for practical purposes, dismiss those explanations which I deem unlikely.

    To return to my “Perhaps” comment from earlier…

    There are universal truths out there to be discovered, whether we are able to discover them, or accept them once discovered, is a different story, of course. That is, there is an explanation for where the footprints came from. There must be. The man on the island, as it stands, has no way to prove conclusively how the footprints came to be there, but he can postulate some explanations and assess their likelihoods.

    These likelihoods, are, of course, heavily influenced by the man’s own experiences. Perhaps he had a dream the night before where he saw an all-powerful being walk along the beach. Perhaps he’s being hearing voices for the last week. So, yes, there is certainly a chance that a person observing the island from afar (but who still doesn’t know how the footprints got there) will have a better assessment of likelihood than the man on the island.

    • Anthony on March 16, 2011 at 7:27 am
      Author

    “No, I mean “our”.”

    No, you really mean YOUR. It is indisputable that we have different past experiences and thus our notions of what constitutes ‘common sense’ will be different. By calling it ‘innate’ you try to sidestep this but the facts are all against you. It is indisputable that many millions and even billions of people have used their past experiences and ‘innate common sense’ to come to some radically divergent conclusions on things. No, you really mean YOUR.

    “There’s no need for suppositions, since that is precisely what my use of the word “our” implied.”

    Your ‘our’ implied that we had the SAME ‘innate common sense’ and ‘past experiences.’ We clearly do not.

    “Both issues apply to your gooba-gooba. On the one hand, I have never heard of a gooba-gooba. …. what are you claiming will happen as a result of the gooba-gooba coming up feathers?”

    This is irrelevant. I want you to tell me what the odds are that a gooba-gooba will come up feathers.

    The nice thing about a gooba-gooba is that it speaks merely to your attempt to calculate likelihoods for things you have no experience with. 🙂 You’ve never heard of a gooba-gooba? Your past experiences never brought you into contact with one? You don’t know how many ‘sides’ it has? For all you know, it has only one side, making the likelihood of feathers coming up 100%. Or, it could have a thousand sides. You don’t know.

    But you are a skeptic, so instead of admitting that your sample size forbids you from speaking intelligently about one outcome of a gooba-gooba toss being more likely than another, you go ahead and speak anyway.

    Please note: I am NOT speaking to the maxim “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” I know that’s what you want to talk about but I am speaking to the issue of likelihood and your expectations on the universe.

    “Yes, exactly.”

    Of course. I commend you for your honesty. But of course it is a hypocritical and prejudicial method. Purely arbitrary. It can’t be anything else.

    “Again, exactly. You have used your own knowledge to exclude some possibilities on the basis of their extreme improbability.”

    No, that isn’t at all what I did. The other possibilities remain on the table, pending more evidence. Other possibilities will be considered if evidence arises to generate them. What I am doing is ‘positive.’ What you say I am doing is ‘negative.’

    “Bingo.”

    Yea, bingo. So, the funny thing is that you think you’re making a point against the Christian world view. Possibly your past experiences only include stupid Christians, but mine include a fair bit of bright ones. They would never have disputed this general principle. This would probably be you… attacking a strawman. 🙂 Evidently, your perception of a Christian approach to epistemology is… wrong. 🙂

    “Yes, it absolutely does.”

    No, it really doesn’t.

    “It is entirely possible that an all-powerful being put those footprints there to send you a message,”

    Many things are entirely possible. In the main, we do not NOT consider them because of the probabilities involved. That’s a ‘negative’ view that I contend is not how any of us actually live. The ‘positive’ view is just as I have described: we match our explanations with the nature of the phenomena in front of us. We don’t zip through an infinite number of ‘entirely possible’ scenarios, ruling them out as we go. Human footprint? Simple inference: a human was present.

    And of course, one may be deceived or wrong. Even so, the simple inference was a reasonable one.

    “I really don’t see how you can say that.”

    Well. What other universe have you observed, then?

    “But, much like the man on the island, I can make reasonable probability statements based on past observations.”

    About other islands, maybe. If have only encountered one island- the one that you are on- I think you would get a great big laugh out of the people who have seen hundreds. If you island was a pacific atoll and you began telling people that it was unlikely for an island to have high cliffs and lush forests and even rivers you would be mocked. If the positions were reversed, you would join in the mocking. It is obviously preposterous to for someone with such a small sample size to make probability calculations.

    Let’s leave aside the stakes that may rest on the probability calculation. It is a separate issue from the rationality of making one at all. At the very least, you must surely concede that if you’ve only seen one island the weight you give to your probability calculation must be very small? And even less is the weight you’d give for your probability calculation for a gooba-gooba coming up feathers, no?

    “There are universal truths out there to be discovered, whether we are able to discover them, or accept them once discovered, is a different story, of course.”

    Did I just enter the twilight zone? That’s the Christian view. 🙂 You are an atheist, right? Give me more background. Are you also an evolutionist?

    “Perhaps he had a dream the night before where he saw an all-powerful being walk along the beach.”

    You keep bringing this up, as if it is important somehow. You mention universal truths. One of them is the simple and natural inference from a thing observed directly to the thing that our past experience tells us created it. We don’t go through the book checking off all possibilities- unless evidence exists that challenge us to consider them. Like, for example, the discovery of two wooden sticks with fake human feet on the bottom of them found hidden in the leaves. 🙂 This isn’t a matter of calculating probabilities. It is a matter of apportioning the explanation/inference to the phenomena at hand.

    To return to my point, though, if you had only ever seen one human- and this, yourself- then if you insisted on determining truth through probability calculations, you would be a fool to do so. At least, if you do it without acknowledging the inherent weaknesses and limitations of your approach. For all you know, there are creatures that look completely different with noodly appendages that resemble a human footprint when pressed on the sand. For all you know, other humans like you don’t even exist! They aren’t within your past experience if you are the only human you’ve ever met!

    The same applies if you’ve only ever seen one island- a tiny area compared to the entire surface area of the earth. And you’ve only ever seen one small portion of this one planet- a tiny area compared to the entire universe. And you’ve only experienced this one universe.

    You are in no position to make statements about what explanations for the universe are more probable, just as you are in no position to make statements about the probability of a gooba-gooba coming up feathers.

    Now, there may end up being a great deal at stake. I may shoot you in the head if you deny the penny comes up heads, for example. Nonetheless, the actual likelihood of a penny coming up heads remains exactly the same: 50/50. But this you know only because your past experience encompasses many pennies. If you didn’t, without me giving you more information, your assessment about the odds of heads coming up would be as baseless as if you told me it was unlikely that a gooba-gooba came up feathers. It is just as baseless as your assessment that our universe is not likely to have been created by God. Seen more than one universe have you?

    Nope. You’ve only seen a teeny-weeny bit of the one you are currently in. Not much ‘past experience’ to go on, I’m afraid, and that leaves you only with your ‘innate common sense.’ But one must wonder where exactly you got that and why we should trust it outside of the biological purposes that on your view created it.

    • End Bringer on March 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    “You’ve made an accusation, I’m merely requesting that you back it up with a specific example. The fact that you won’t is very enlightening.”

    Actually if you are so interested in backing up EVERY accusation made, YOU are the one who provides NO evidence that your rambling summation is in any way accurate.

    But again, it’s just an irrelevant red-herring to avoid the issue Anthony is pointing out – your contention on what is “plausable” and “common sense” is based solely on YOUR opinion that you demand everyone follows.

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    You would have made a great Peter, End Bringer.

    Anthony… I will respond more fully when I have time, but from my quick reading of your response, I think we are mostly in agreement!

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    End Bringer – you would have made a great Peter.

    Anthony – I will response more fully when I have time, but from my quick read through of your post, I think we are mostly in agreement!

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    *respond

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    “YOU are the one who provides NO evidence that your rambling summation is in any way accurate.”

    An immaterial (John 4:24) all-powerful (Deuteronomy 10:17) being created a fruit tree and told two people who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it (Genesis 2:16-17) but they did because they didn’t know right from wrong (Genesis 3:6) so he punished them (Genesis 3:16-19) and everyone else (Romans 5:12) even though they didn’t do anything and then spent a few thousand years making his chosen people wander around the desert (Exodus) and committed a few genocides (Deuteronomy 2:33-34, Deuteronomy 20: 16-17, Joshua 11:20-26, 2 Kings 2:23-24, among others), and turned the odd person into salt (Genesis 19:26) and asked fathers to kill their children (Genesis 22:2)and cut off random body parts as a symbol of some idiotic covenant (Genesis 21:4) that he repealed and re-issued several times and laid down a few crimes that warrant death like picking up sticks on a certain day of the week (Numbers 15:32-36) or talking back to your parents (Leviticus 20:9) before sending his son who was himself to be born from a virgin (Matthew 1:18) and dabble in carpentry (Mark 6:3) and plagiarise other moral philosophers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule) and needlessly kill the odd fig tree (Mark 11:12-14) and throw temper tantrums in temples (Matthew 21:12) before being tortured and killed (all four Gospels) despite asking his father who was himself if he had to go through with it but deciding that his father’s will which was his own will be done (Matthew 26:39)) and spending three days in hell (Matthew 12:40, Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, 1 Peter 3:19-20) and then rising from the dead (all four Gospels) because that was the only possible way that all the people who he had punished because the two original idiots had eaten a piece of fruit could be forgiven for a crime that wasn’t their fault.

    Done.

    • End Bringer on March 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    An immaterial (John 4:24) all-powerful (Deuteronomy 10:17) being created a fruit tree and told one person who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it (Genesis 2:16-17),but they did because they chose to disobey and give in to temptation (Genesis 3:6) so he punished them (Genesis 3:16-19) and everyone else (Romans 5:12) for their very deliberate sin and disobedience and then spent a few thousand years making his chosen people wander around the desert (Exodus) and engaged in war against decadent and evil nations (Deuteronomy 2:33-34, Deuteronomy 20: 16-17, Joshua 11:20-26, 2 Kings 2:23-24, among others) for the land He promised, and turned the odd person into salt (Genesis 19:26) for the same disobedience and tested their fathers faith (Genesis 22:2)and cut off random body parts as a symbol of an important and meaningful covenant (Genesis 21:4) that the nation of Israel frequently broke and laid down a few crimes that warrant death for deliberate acts of rebellion and presumption (Numbers 15:32-36) or having murderous intentions against one’s parents (Leviticus 20:9) before sending his son who was himself to be born from a virgin (Matthew 1:18) and humble origins (Mark 6:3) and give enlightened objective truths, some that others recognised (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule), and demonstrate His authority and power (Mark 11:12-14) and end violations of places for worship (Matthew 21:12) before being tortured and killed to save the world (all four Gospels) despite asking his father who was a different personage of the same Being if he had to go through with it (Matthew 26:39)) and spending three days in hell (Matthew 12:40, Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, 1 Peter 3:19-20) and then rising from the dead (all four Gospels) because that was the only possible way that all the people who were punished because of original sin that two people had eaten a piece of fruit could be forgiven for a crime that was entirely their fault as is all individual’s sin the individuals fault.

    Fixed.

    So indeed quite a bit of strawmen and misrepresentations you make in your rambling.

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Oh… my… god. Did you just (sort of) answer a question?! And at only the fourth time of asking?! Praise Jebus!

    Shall we take these one at a time? (I will assume that you only corrected those points that you believe to be strawmen or inaccurate – please correct me if I am wrong)

    1
    You changed “two people” to “one person”, but I note that you did not dispute the claim that this person did not know right from wrong. My claim that they ate the fruit because of this inbuilt moral deficiency is therefore more appropriate than your claim that they disobeyed and gave into temptation, since your claim is predicated on the assumption that were not morally deficient, which you have already implicitly denied.

    Strawman / inaccuracy claim: debunked.

    Next.

    • Timaahy on March 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    I also note that:
    (a) Even if I accept your revised representation of events, it doesn’t help your case at all – it’s still ridiculously implausible.
    (b) On the one hand, you say that “all [sic] individual’s sin [is] the individuals [sic] fault”, but on the other hand, it’s perfectly reasonable for god to punish all of mankind for the alleged disobedience of two specific people? Interesting.

    • End Bringer on March 17, 2011 at 10:43 am

    “You changed “two people” to “one person”, but I note that you did not dispute the claim that this person did not know right from wrong. My claim that they ate the fruit because of this inbuilt moral deficiency is therefore more appropriate than your claim that they disobeyed and gave into temptation, since your claim is predicated on the assumption that were not morally deficient, which you have already implicitly denied.”

    Your claim of not knowing right and wrong is technically true. But it’s also irrelevant. One doesn’t have to know “right and wrong”, or more accurately “good and evil”, to know what “Don’t eat this.” means and know that eating goes directly against this command. So your spin on the events is indeed a strawman. They ate the fruit because they simply gave into temptation and willfully disobeyed a painfully simplistic restriction.

    “Even if I accept your revised representation of events, it doesn’t help your case at all – it’s still ridiculously implausible.”

    It’s still completely plausable. Far more so than evolution, as my innate “common sense” and life experience doesn’t include even relatively simple things like a watch being put together through random naturalistic forces. So there’s certainly grounds to dismiss evolution based on your own criteria (if you were employing it consistently).

    “On the one hand, you say that “all [sic] individual’s sin [is] the individuals [sic] fault”, but on the other hand, it’s perfectly reasonable for god to punish all of mankind for the alleged disobedience of two specific people? Interesting.”

    Basicly no different than someone who develops second-hand smoking due to the actions of another person, and willfully chooses to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s warnings of the consequences. Being born with original sin may not be your choice, but how you deal with it certainly is and that’s where you’ll be mostly held accountable.

    • Timaahy on March 17, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    How is it irrelevant? If you don’t know right from wrong, you are by definition unable to assign a moral ranking to different actions – every action is amoral. You are saying that they (a) didn’t know right from wrong, but (b) should have known that it was wrong to disobey god. You may as well say they didn’t know maths, but should have been able to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem.

    Your next exmaple is yet another contradiction… you compare Original Sin to someone who “chooses to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s [sic] warnings of the consequences”, but then admit that Original Sin does not arise from an individual’s own choice.

    In your smoking example, the person is deemed to have “sinned” because of their own individual action. With Original Sin, every human ever born is deemed to have sinned, from the moment they were born, as a direct consequence of the actions of two people who lived thousands of years ago. How, then, are those two situations the same?

    • End Bringer on March 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    “How is it irrelevant? If you don’t know right from wrong, you are by definition unable to assign a moral ranking to different actions – every action is amoral.”

    Because the command isn’t based around “right and wrong”. It’s based upon the simple obediance of “don’t eat this”. Something a 6 year old can understand despite not having a concious knowledge of “right and wrong”.

    “You are saying that they (a) didn’t know right from wrong, but (b) should have known that it was wrong to disobey god. You may as well say they didn’t know maths, but should have been able to solve Fermat’s Last Theorem.”

    Nope. I’m saying (a) they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil, but (b) one doesn’t need such knowledge to know what “don’t eat this” means and that eating goes directly against the command. So (a) is simply in no way relevant.

    “In your smoking example, the person is deemed to have “sinned” because of their own individual action. With Original Sin, every human ever born is deemed to have sinned, from the moment they were born, as a direct consequence of the actions of two people who lived thousands of years ago. How, then, are those two situations the same?”

    *snort* Your confusion is due to ignorance in how Orignial Sin works in contrast to willful sin. Original Sin is described as being no different than a genetic disease one is simply born with. Yeah, people can’t help it. But they can help it when their actions and choices exacerbate the problem further. Regardless, one needs the ‘Cure’ to be saved. Christ’s sacrifice was the ‘cure’ for sin. And like any disease one will have to face the consequences for the willful choice of not accepting the cure. That’s simple reality.

    • Stathei on March 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    ““YOU are the one who provides NO evidence that your rambling summation is in any way accurate.”

    An immaterial (John 4:24) all-powerful (Deuteronomy 10:17) being created a fruit tree and told two people who didn’t know right from wrong not to eat from it (Genesis 2:16-17) but they did because they didn’t know right from wrong (Genesis 3:6) so he punished them (Genesis 3:16-19) and everyone else (Romans 5:12) even though they didn’t do anything and then spent a few thousand years making his chosen people wander around the desert (Exodus) and committed a few genocides (Deuteronomy 2:33-34, Deuteronomy 20: 16-17, Joshua 11:20-26, 2 Kings 2:23-24, among others), and turned the odd person into salt (Genesis 19:26) and asked fathers to kill their children (Genesis 22:2)and cut off random body parts as a symbol of some idiotic covenant (Genesis 21:4) that he repealed and re-issued several times and laid down a few crimes that warrant death like picking up sticks on a certain day of the week (Numbers 15:32-36) or talking back to your parents (Leviticus 20:9) before sending his son who was himself to be born from a virgin (Matthew 1:18) and dabble in carpentry (Mark 6:3) and plagiarise other moral philosophers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golden_Rule) and needlessly kill the odd fig tree (Mark 11:12-14) and throw temper tantrums in temples (Matthew 21:12) before being tortured and killed (all four Gospels) despite asking his father who was himself if he had to go through with it but deciding that his father’s will which was his own will be done (Matthew 26:39)) and spending three days in hell (Matthew 12:40, Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31, 1 Peter 3:19-20) and then rising from the dead (all four Gospels) because that was the only possible way that all the people who he had punished because the two original idiots had eaten a piece of fruit could be forgiven for a crime that wasn’t their fault.

    Done.”

    BEST. POST. EVER. Utterly brilliant.

    • Timaahy on March 31, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Sorry… haven’t checked back for a while… been busy.

    Stathei – thanks. 🙂
    ___

    EB,

    If you don’t know the difference between right and wrong, you are not able to morally rank two different actions. So god said “Don’t eat this”… so what? From Adam and Eve’s perspective, eating the fruit and not eating the fruit are morally equivalent. Not knowing what “good” and “evil” even are means that eating the fruit is just as valid an action as not eating it.

    God may also have said “Don’t stand in one spot too long” or “Don’t pick your nose” or “Don’t end a sentence in a preposition”… but in each and every case, no matter what the proscription, obedience and disobedience are morally equivalent because, as far Adam and Eve are concerned, morals don’t even exist.

    “I’m saying (a) they didn’t have knowledge of good and evil, but (b) one doesn’t need such knowledge to know what “don’t eat this” means”.

    Well yes, in one sense, I guess that’s technically true. God endowed them with some kind of brain, so they knew what the words meant – but they had absolutely no reason to follow the command, because they did not have the ability to compare the two possible actions and pick the most moral one.

    Please don’t assume that, because I am now an atheist, and find Christianity contemptible, that I don’t understand how Christianity “works”. I have a more than adequate understanding of the vile doctrine of “original sin”. It seems that your understanding is lacking – since you equated it with passive smoking.

    In original sin, the alleged actions of two people who lived thousands of years ago now means that everyone is born with the stain of sin, from their very first breath. In your smoking example, someone is exposed to passive smoking through their own actions. Again I ask you – how are these two situations the same?

    You said that [original sin is] “basicly [sic] no different than someone who develops second-hand smoking”.

    Now compare the following (again, in your own words):

    1. A person who “willfully chooses to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s warnings of the consequences.”

    vs

    2. “Being born with original sin may not be your choice”

    They are not the same. Your own words admit it.

    Either:
    (a) admit your smoking example is a poor analogy for original sin; or
    (b) explain how the two are the same.

    • End Bringer on March 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “From Adam and Eve’s perspective, eating the fruit and not eating the fruit are morally equivalent.”

    As you say – So what? From God’s perspective the two aren’t morally equivalent. The whole flaw in your argument is that moral perspective isn’t needed to know that eating something is the exact opposite of ‘don’t eat this’. It’s a violation of the explicit command. Pure and simple.

    “…obedience and disobedience are morally equivalent because, as far Adam and Eve are concerned, morals don’t even exist.”

    Except it doesn’t matter what Adam and Eve’s perspective was. God had/has the only perspective that matters. Adam and Eve knew what was told to them and what the consequences would be, and they knowingly and deliberately disobeyed a simple restriction. And the consequences naturally followed.

    “…but they had absolutely no reason to follow the command, because they did not have the ability to compare the two possible actions and pick the most moral one.”

    When the Lord of all things, who breathed life into you from dust, tells you not to do something or else that’s more than enough reason to follow the command. They didn’t have to know what the most moral choice was. They knew which one God said not to do.

    “Please don’t assume that, because I am now an atheist, and find Christianity contemptible, that I don’t understand how Christianity “works”.”

    I’m not assuming anything Tim. I’m deducing from your arguments that basicly come down to base assertion, and your proven lack of literary skills.

    “In your smoking example, someone is exposed to passive smoking through their own actions. Again I ask you – how are these two situations the same?”

    I believe I compared it more to a genetic disease in this aspect, but the similarity in the example is that the second-hand smoker is obviously exposed through the choice of another, ie. the actual smoker.

    “They are not the same. Your own words admit it.”

    I said “continue” in the first quote. I said nothing in how one came to be exposed in the first place. Say perhaps one was born to a house-hold of a smoking parent?

    “Either:
    (a) admit your smoking example is a poor analogy for original sin; or
    (b) explain how the two are the same.”

    As for a, all analogies fall short if they’re nit-picked, and I’ve already answered b.

    • Timaahy on March 31, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    “From God’s perspective the two aren’t morally equivalent.”

    But god knows the difference between right and wrong – Adam and Eve do not.

    “It’s a violation of the explicit command. Pure and simple.”

    Yes, it’s a violation of an explicit command. But why should that command be followed? What makes following the command the right thing to do? To someone who lacks the ability to discern right from wrong, and, indeed, doesn’t even know that right and wrong exist, why is following the command a better thing to do than not following it? The snake told Eve to eat the fruit. Why should she follow god’s command and not the snake’s? She didn’t know eating that the fruit was wrong.

    You are arguing from the point of view of someone who knows the difference between right and wrong. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. Can you accept that, from Adam and Eve’s perspective, the two actions are morally equivalent?

    “They knew which one God said not to do.”

    This still assumes that they knew that obedience is right and disobedience is wrong. And you’ve already admitted that they didn’t know that at all.

    “your proven lack of literary skills.”

    Having previously demonstrated a rather lax definition of “proof”, you’ll forgive me not being very offended by that remark.

    “I believe I compared it more to a genetic disease in this aspect”

    No, you didn’t. Not until much later, when you were trying to dig yourself out of your hole.

    “the similarity in the example is that the second-hand smoker is obviously exposed through the choice of another, ie. the actual smoker.”

    Again, no. You originally said that the “sinner” was the one who “willfully chooses to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s warnings of the consequences”. You put the blame squarely at the feet of the person who suffered passive smoking, not the smoker.

    “Say perhaps one was born to a house-hold of a smoking parent?”

    And for the third time, no. Your analogy relied on someone suffering the effects of passive smoking via a deliberate choice. If you would like to change your analogy, please do so. But stop defending the indefensible.

    “all analogies fall short if they’re nit-picked”

    No, all analogies fall short if they bear no resemblance to the thing they are describing.

    For the last time. With original sin, I am stained with sin because of the actions of two people who I have never met. In your smoking example, the person develops passive smoking because of their own choice. They are not the same.

    “I’ve already answered b.”

    Ah, OK. I must have missed that bit. Where, exactly?

    • Stathei on April 1, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Much as I hate to get into this sort of discussion, which is like arguing about who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman, I do have a quick question – what would have happened if Eve hadn’t eaten the fruit?

    • Timaahy on April 1, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Superman, obviously! 🙂

    Funnily enough, I was asking myself that same question as I was replying to EB.

    If mankind hadn’t rebelled, none of us would be here.

    • Anthony on April 1, 2011 at 7:04 am
      Author

    Maybe.

    I think about this every now and then. Certainly, things would be better in a variety of ways. Our direct knowledge of God would be much more substantial, as we would still be in relationship with him. I have lots of speculation on this. Someone in a next generation could have fallen, creating some really interesting scenarios.

    But would it be the case that we wouldn’t be here? I’m not so sure. Who we are is not solely a function of materialistic processes from a Christian point of view. I would suggest that it is possible and maybe even probable (under a Christian point of view) that not only would we be here, but we would be more ourselves. Who we are, ultimately (from a Christian point of view) is something known by God and sustained by his active willing.

    Some Christian somewhere said that our body does not have a soul, rather our soul has a body. That might help you conceptualize what I mean.

    The final resurrection of the rescued will not obliterate who we are either, or abolish our dignity or strip us of our personality. We will be more ‘us’ than ever before.

    CS Lewis’s “Perelandra’is a good imaginative work exploring some of these things, but you might want to start with his “Out of the Silent Planet” first to have the context.

    • Timaahy on April 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    “we would still be in relationship with him”

    Are you not in a relationship with him…? Or do you simply mean a direct, physical relationship?

    The rest of your response seems to talk about how we would possibly be different to our current, fallen selves, but doesn’t seem to discuss whether we would exist at all. I contend that, had Adam & Eve not sinned, they would still be the only two humans on the planet (notwithstanding the fact that I don’t believe they ever existed themselves, and even if they did, they didn’t “sin” because they didn’t know right from wrong).

    Firstly, I must ask – do you believe that the events described in Genesis are to be interpreted literally, or metaphorically?

    Now…

    In Genesis 1:28, god tells Adam & Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”, so, at first glance, it seems to indicate that god always intended for there to be more than two humans.

    (cue dramatic music)

    OR DID HE…?!

    God made Adam, put him in the Garden of Eden, and told him not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (“Good and evil…? What on earth are they?” said Adam), or he “would surely die” (I’ll come back to this in a bit). The story implies that, after a while, god realised that “it was not good for man to be alone”, so he would “find a suitable helper for him”. So what does he do? He brings Adam all the animals on earth, so he can name them, and select a suitable helper. Once it became obvious that goldfish, wombats, and seagulls would not make suitable helpers, he put Adam in a sleep, performed the world’s first costectomy, and made a woman.

    This brings us to a variation on the age-old chestnut, “Did Adam & Eve have navels?”. Now, Christians generally dismiss this as facetious, but it’s actually a very valid argument – they obviously didn’t have navels, but did they have reproductive organs when they were first made?

    I think the answer must be “no”:
    1. God only realised that Adam needed a helper after he had already made him; and
    2. God first tried to find a helper from all the animals he had already created.

    This would seem to suggest that reproduction wasn’t on god’s mind when he made either of them.

    The other issue is this – the punishment for eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was death. Now, this could either mean instantaneous death, or death at some point. If the former, god is a liar (because neither suffered instantaneous death when they ate the fruit), and if the latter, Adam & Eve were originally intended to live forever.

    So, if mankind hadn’t sinned, we are left with two people, without reproductive organs, who will never die… and we would never have existed. It’s only after the fall that we start talking about death and pains in childbirth etc. Indeed, Adam didn’t even give Eve a name until after the fall, and he named her Eve “because she would become the mother of all the living”. This only makes sense if it was only at that point that it became known that Eve would become mother of all the living.

    Now, from your statement that “Someone in a next generation could have fallen”, you seem to take it as given that Adam & Eve would have produced children regardless. What do you base this on?

    A few other issues to consider:
    1. Why would an omniscient god not know from the beginning that Adam needed companionship?
    2. Once he realised Adam needed a companion, why would he not know that none of the animals he had already created were suitable?
    3. Why would a being that just created the entire universe out of nothing need a rib to make Eve?
    4. Why did god plant the tree in the first place (if he didn’t want anyone to eat from it)?

    • Anthony on April 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm
      Author

    Holy cow, Tim. I throw out a rumination and you treat it like I’ve offered a treatise.

    “Are you not in a relationship with him…? Or do you simply mean a direct, physical relationship?”

    Right. A direct physical relationship. This is clearly implied by the text, which has God walking in the garden with Adam and Eve and then after the fall, they are kicked out of the garden.

    “The rest of your response seems to talk about how we would possibly be different to our current, fallen selves, but doesn’t seem to discuss whether we would exist at all.”

    Then you should look again. You are regarding a person only in physical, materialistic terms. A Christian does not view people that way. At the very least, you recognize that our respective genomes are filled with corruptions and accretions which will likely bear on events in our life- and thus who we become as a person- but in an unfallen world we would retain that perfect genome. No doubt many of us are shaped by victories over cancer… but in an unfallen world, there would have been no cancer. The examples extrapolate from there. Same person, different manifestations depending on the body through which that person is expressed.

    “they didn’t “sin” because they didn’t know right from wrong).”

    By making my comment, I didn’t at all wish to suggest to you that I was going to step into the debate that you and EB are having. I’m not really paying attention to it to tell you the truth. I just saw something interesting and though I would share one of my own thoughts.

    “Firstly, I must ask – do you believe that the events described in Genesis are to be interpreted literally, or metaphorically?”

    I don’t understand the question. So, if I see it say that God made man, Adam, I can either choose from the option that it means what it says, a male human, or perhaps by a man it really means the esoteric understanding that stones will not move unless one breaks them?

    “god tells Adam & Eve to “be fruitful and multiply”,”

    That’s an awful literal interpretation of you. Are you sure we shouldn’t take it metaphorically? Maybe what he meant was, “Here is a calculator, now go at it!”

    “Now, Christians generally dismiss this as facetious, but it’s actually a very valid argument”

    I’ve never heard it dismissed as facetious. Maybe your question just isn’t as difficult as you think it is.

    “they obviously didn’t have navels, but did they have reproductive organs when they were first made?”

    Uh. Yea.

    “This would seem to suggest that reproduction wasn’t on god’s mind when he made either of them.”

    So, you’re in the “God handed them a calculator” camp. Got it. 🙂

    “So, if mankind hadn’t sinned, we are left with two people, without reproductive organs,”

    That’s assuming your analysis is correct. Your interpretation is pretty strained if you ask me. It doesn’t say that God was particularly surprised by not finding a helper for Adam among the beasts. You’re reading into things. The text does not support your leap.

    “who will never die…”

    Yea, that’s about right.

    “and we would never have existed.”

    Even if we granted your argument, which I don’t for a minute, this conclusion is not warranted. You’ve got to keep the terms of the discussion in hand, and you are accepting the premise- for the sake of discussion- that The Genesis account recounts real events and that the Christian scriptures are not mere ‘holy’ books but contain much that are actual descriptions of fact. Thus, you must accept that we are not merely physical beings. If, on your view, Adam and Eve didn’t have reproductive organs, it still says that God told them to go forth and multiply, the natural inference would be that a means of multiplication was provided. The only thing we can gather on your view is that this reproduction wouldn’t happen using the organs that we have. Maybe God would just keep pulling ribs out of poor Adam. 😉

    Anyway, the primary driving factor in your analysis is the assumption that the text doesn’t make sense. Ie, guilty until proven innocent. That’s no way to interpret a text. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ seeks out other possible explanations that could square with the text before screaming “guilty!” There are many other possible explanations, here.

    “It’s only after the fall that we start talking about death”

    Right.

    “and pains in childbirth etc.”

    Best to be careful with the text, my friend. Actually the passage says that there will be an increase in the pain of childbirth. This clearly implies that there was childbirth before the fall. The difference is that post-fall childbirth will be accompanied by more pain.

    In your experience, do women tend to experience much pain during childbirth? What about dogs, horses, cows, and chickens? Do they?

    “What do you base this on?”

    What is so hard to understand about “go forth and multiply’? What is so hard about ‘pain shall INCREASE in childbirth’?

    Where does it SAY that they won’t have reproductive organs? It doesn’t say anything of the sort. This is conjecture on your part.

    “A few other issues to consider:”

    As interesting as these are, I really don’t have time to get into it. You are not the first to consider such questions, I hope you know. I made the mistake of thinking that once. It led me to atheism. Then I discovered that in the 2,000 years of Christendom, there wasn’t a single thing that hadn’t yet been covered. You might do well to keep that in mind. If you take a perspective of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and actually start reading without prejudice the writings over the centuries of Christians you may find many of your zingers are already well handled.

    Just a thought!

    • Anthony on April 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm
      Author

    By the by, I am actually 2 books into a 7 book series tackling many of the questions that you’ve raised, though not of course all. I bet I thought of some you didn’t. 😉 They are fiction books, not treatises. At any rate, I offer them here: birthpangs.com. That’s 300,000 words to get you started. I should have book 3 ready for you soon. 😉

    • Timaahy on April 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Anthony,

    Thanks for responding.

    “Holy cow, Tim.”

    Ha! I knew you were really a Hindu! 🙂

    “Then you should look again. You are regarding a person only in physical, materialistic terms.”

    The text following on from there still seems to assume that we would exist regardless of Adam & Eve’s sin, and merely speculates on how we would be different to our current selves had the fall not occurred.

    I am happy to assume any and all Christian beliefs in this discussion – including the existence of souls – but in focusing on how our existence would be different, rather than on existence itself, are you saying that our souls existed before our bodies were created?

    “I just saw something interesting and though I would share one of my own thoughts.”

    Yes I realise that… I meant it just as a throw-away line.

    “I don’t understand the question.”

    Really? I’m sure you do. Do you believe that god made a man named Adam and put him in a garden with a forbidden fruit tree and then made a woman out of one of his ribs before a talking snake told her to eat the forbidden fruit and she ate it and so god kicked them out of the garden? Or do you believe the whole thing is made up, and simply an allegory for mankind’s inherently sinful nature?

    “Maybe what he meant was, ‘Here is a calculator, now go at it!'”

    Much better!

    “Maybe your question just isn’t as difficult as you think it is.”

    No, I don’t think it’s difficult at all. 🙂

    OK… so you believe they were created with reproductive organs. Now the question is, why?

    God made Adam, then saw that he needed a companion, then tried to find one among the animals, then created Eve. It’s clear from the text that Eve wasn’t part of the original plan – she was a response to an unperceived problem.

    For Adam to have reproductive organs, god had to have created him with testes, and sperm, and all the other complicated biological machinery that is necessary, even though at that point Eve hadn’t even been thought necessary. So, he had the foresight to make sperm, but didn’t realise that wombats were lousy companions?

    “It doesn’t say that God was particularly surprised by not finding a helper for Adam among the beasts.”

    Why would it? How is that relevant? The salient point is that he looked for a companion amongst the animals first, before deciding to create Eve.

    “This clearly implies that there was childbirth before the fall.”

    Well the bible is nothing if not inconsistent. 🙂

    At that point they were still the only two people on earth. I can imagine Eve simply saying, “Childbirth? What on earth are you talking about?”. Or had god sat them down and talked them through the birds and the bees the day before?

    “In your experience, do women tend to experience much pain during childbirth? What about dogs, horses, cows, and chickens? Do they?”

    Many species seem to experience pain during birth, and many don’t. Ours is certainly one that does. But it’s well documented that our heads are a lot bigger than our evolutionary descendants. I think that might have something to do with it. 😉

    “What is so hard to understand about “go forth and multiply’?”

    Nothing, except that it’s completely inconsistent with the other details of the story.

    “You are not the first to consider such questions, I hope you know.”

    Yes, I know.

    “If you take a perspective of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and actually start reading without prejudice”

    With thousands upon thousands of religions, each with their own holy books, who’s got the time…?!

    • End Bringer on April 2, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    “But god knows the difference between right and wrong – Adam and Eve do not.”

    Again irrelevant, God has/had the only perspective that matters, morality did exist, and one doesn’t need to ‘know’ it to figure out what ‘don’t eat this’ means. Your complaint is moot.

    “Yes, it’s a violation of an explicit command. But why should that command be followed? What makes following the command the right thing to do?”

    Already addressed – because God said so. His garden, in fact His entire universe, His rules. Also pure and simple.

    “Why should she follow god’s command and not the snake’s? She didn’t know eating that the fruit was wrong.”

    She knew not to do it and what God said the consequences would be. By following the snake it effectively means calling God a liar. Choices being follow the Being with all the power and authority, or the reptile who just spouted words. The choice was made and the consequences followed.

    “You are arguing from the point of view of someone who knows the difference between right and wrong. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. Can you accept that, from Adam and Eve’s perspective, the two actions are morally equivalent?”

    Uh…yeah. As I’ve been saying one doesn’t need to know ‘good and evil’ to know that eating is a direct disobediance to ‘don’t eat’.

    “This still assumes that they knew that obedience is right and disobedience is wrong. And you’ve already admitted that they didn’t know that at all.”

    Also said it’s irrelevant, and it will continue to be irrelevant no matter how many times you assert it. I don’t expect 5-year olds to have a full knowledge of ‘good and evil’ either, but it doesn’t change the fact they can grasp what simple commands mean and be punished for their willful disobediance.

    “Having previously demonstrated a rather lax definition of “proof”, you’ll forgive me not being very offended by that remark.”

    No biggie, as your converstions with me and SJ shows, you have trouble with the definitions of a lot of words. 😉

    “Again, no. You originally said that the “sinner” was the one who “willfully chooses to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s warnings of the consequences”. You put the blame squarely at the feet of the person who suffered passive smoking, not the smoker.”

    And the key word there being “continue”, which is indeed a choice.

    “For the last time. With original sin, I am stained with sin because of the actions of two people who I have never met. In your smoking example, the person develops passive smoking because of their own choice. They are not the same.”

    They actually are. You may not have much choice in being born to a house with smoking residences, but when you reach the point where your free to move out and limit contact (and get treatment), but decide not to do any of these things (and choose to actively smoke yourself), then that’s indeed the point where it becomes YOUR responsibility. And sin is no different.

    • Timaahy on April 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    EB,

    “She knew not to do it and what God said the consequences would be.”

    Yes, but she didn’t know it was wrong.

    “Uh…yeah.”

    Right. So you’ve just admitted that, to Adam & Eve, not eating the fruit is just as moral as eating the fruit. Case closed.

    “I don’t expect 5-year olds to have a full knowledge of ‘good and evil’ either”

    Yes, but they have some knowledge, don’t they… aren’t we talking about people with no knowledge at all?

    Tell me EB, are you in favour of society punishing people who commit what is normally regarded as a criminal act, despite having a reduced or non-existent moral capacity?

    • End Bringer on April 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    “Yes, but she didn’t know it was wrong.”

    Again, irrelevant.

    “Right. So you’ve just admitted that, to Adam & Eve, not eating the fruit is just as moral as eating the fruit. Case closed.”

    Not even close, because as I’ve said numerous times Adam and Eve’s perspective are completely irrlevant even if true. It doesn’t matter an iota that the two was morally equivalent from their perspective. It wasn’t morally equivalent PERIOD. So again, your objection is moot.

    “Yes, but they have some knowledge, don’t they… aren’t we talking about people with no knowledge at all?”

    Your position is that the lack of knowledge matters. As a 5-year old has a rather big lack of knowledge the comparison stands.

    “Tell me EB, are you in favour of society punishing people who commit what is normally regarded as a criminal act, despite having a reduced or non-existent moral capacity?”

    You’re hypothetical hinges on the fact that such capacity is often what implicitly let’s people know not to do something. In Adam and Eve’s case the command was explicit. Of course it also hinges on the fact that moral capacity is TRULY nonexistant, which WE can’t really know for a fact. God can.

    But to answer your question – yes I am. Little “moral capacity” doesn’t give people carte blanche.

    • Timaahy on April 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Your argument boils down to:

    “They didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, but they should have known that disobedience is wrong.”

    How you can say that with a straight face is beyond me.

    • Timaahy on April 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    “Little ‘moral capacity’ doesn’t give people carte blanche.”

    Nothing gives anyone carte blanche, but the moral capacity of the perpetrator should affect our response. Or would you dish out the same punishment for murders committed by a high-functioning adult and a mentally-retarded nin-year-old?

    • Timaahy on April 4, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    *nine-year-old

    • End Bringer on April 5, 2011 at 6:24 am

    ““They didn’t know the difference between right and wrong, but they should have known that disobedience is wrong.”

    How you can say that with a straight face is beyond me.”

    Strawman. As I’ve said MANY times now my argument is:

    They may have had no knowledge between right and wrong, but it’s irrelevant because they knew what ‘don’t eat’ means.”

    As ever you’re showing a need for you to retake basic reading and English lessons.

    “Nothing gives anyone carte blanche, but the moral capacity of the perpetrator should affect our response. Or would you dish out the same punishment for murders committed by a high-functioning adult and a mentally-retarded nine-year-old?”

    *shrug* You just asked if I think punishment should be applied. I never said that society’s punishment couldn’t be mitigated by taking such factors into account, but ultimately punishment should indeed be applied in some form.

    But your response just furhter highlights the difference in your comparison – lack of MENTAL-capacity is ultimately different than a lack of knowledge between ‘good and evil’.

    • Timaahy on April 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    “You just asked if I think punishment should be applied. I never said that society’s punishment couldn’t be mitigated by taking such factors into account”

    Right you are – my bad. I could have phrased my question more clearly.

    So you do, then, believe that the punishment society applies should take into account someone’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong?

    “Strawman. As I’ve said MANY times now my argument is:

    They may have had no knowledge between right and wrong, but it’s irrelevant because they knew what ‘don’t eat’ means.”

    And as I’ve said many times, understanding the words is one thing, but understanding that the right thing to do is to obey the command is something else entirely.

    Honestly mate, you don’t have a leg to stand on. If someone doesn’t have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, how can you hold them accountable for their actions, let alone every single one of their descendants?

    Back to your smoking example…

    “You may not have much choice in being born to a house with smoking residences, but when you reach the point where your free to move out and limit contact (and get treatment), but decide not to do any of these things (and choose to actively smoke yourself), then that’s indeed the point where it becomes YOUR responsibility. And sin is no different.”

    Now who’s failing English?

    Your original example had someone develop passive smoking from “willfully [choosing] to continue to hang around the smoker and ignore other’s warnings of the consequences”. There was no mention at all of how they came to be there in the first place – your equivalence was between an adult deliberately putting themselves in harms way, and a baby being stained with original sin straight out of the womb. There is no possible way you can argue these are the same. But I admire your persistence. Sort of.

    “You may not have much choice in being born to a house with smoking residences [sic]”

    Exactly. If you want to compare this with original sin, go ahead. But, as I think you realise, that would simply prove my point.

    • End Bringer on April 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    “So you do, then, believe that the punishment society applies should take into account someone’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong?”

    Sure. Key word being – ‘society’.

    “And as I’ve said many times, understanding the words is one thing, but understanding that the right thing to do is to obey the command is something else entirely.”

    Yes, the former being what’s valid, the latter being totally irrelevant. That’s indeed “something else entirely”.

    “Honestly mate, you don’t have a leg to stand on. If someone doesn’t have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, how can you hold them accountable for their actions, let alone every single one of their descendants?”

    Because distinguishing between right and wrong is totally irrelevant. If you know not to do something then do it, then accountability is totally valid. That they were the head of the entire human race (and to some extent the entire world), is what validates the ship going down with them. All your argument comes down to is pure assertion.

    “There was no mention at all of how they came to be there in the first place – your equivalence was between an adult deliberately putting themselves in harms way, and a baby being stained with original sin straight out of the womb. There is no possible way you can argue these are the same. But I admire your persistence. Sort of.”

    And now that how they came about being there in the first place HAS been mentioned, I see you have little to argue with except blatant denial. You’re not making an argument as much as statements at this point.

    “Exactly. If you want to compare this with original sin, go ahead. But, as I think you realise, that would simply prove my point.”

    It actually doesn’t, since it’s rather pointless to the fact that you’re actively choosing to immerse in the ‘smoke’, actively ‘smoking’ yourself, and ignoring ‘treatment’. So what naturally follows will follow.

    • Timaahy on April 6, 2011 at 1:08 am

    “Key word being – ‘society’”

    Are you implying that it is appropriate for god not to take it into account?

    It’s clear that you’re obtuseness knows no bounds, and we’re never going to get anywhere with this. You’ve admitted that obedience and disobedience are morally equivalent from Adam & Eve’s perspective, yet still maintain that they should have known not to eat the fruit.

    Adam: “Well let’s see, Eve. Eating the fruit and not eating the fruit are both amoral (whatever that means), but if we want to do the right thing (whatever that means), we had better eat the fruit. Or not eat the fruit. I really don’t know. God said not to, but is obedience the right thing to do (whatever that means)? Or is disobedience the right thing to do (whatever that means)?”

    Timaahy: “That’s right Adam. God hasn’t given you the tools to make the correct decision. But if you fuck it up, every single human that comes after you will share in your punishment. By 2011, that will mean you’ve fucked up the lives of about 110 billion people, so… no pressure.”

    Awesome. What a loving, logical god is the Christian god!

    “And now that how they came about being there in the first place HAS been mentioned, I see you have little to argue with except blatant denial. You’re not making an argument as much as statements at this point.”

    Seriously, what on earth are you on? Whatever it is, it seems to allow you to hold two contradictory positions. Perhaps you could become Pope.

    “All your argument comes down to is pure assertion,” said the theist. And then my irony meter exploded.

    • End Bringer on April 6, 2011 at 10:12 am

    “Are you implying that it is appropriate for god not to take it into account?”

    I’m saying God takes far MORE into account than society ever could.

    “Awesome. What a loving, logical god is the Christian god!”

    Your facetious protrayal is just another strawman and a sign of your lack of reading skills. Facts remain that eating and not eating WASN’T amoral regardless of Adam and Eve’s perspective. One can’t get a much simpler command than to ‘not eat’ and so they knew what not to do and what the consequences would be. They disobeyed. End of story.

    “Seriously, what on earth are you on? Whatever it is, it seems to allow you to hold two contradictory positions. Perhaps you could become Pope.”

    I guess logic and reason would seem strange to an atheist, seeing how it’s so foreign to atheistic ways of thinking. 😉

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