Request for Comments (RFC) 1001:

Note: there is nothing ‘secret’ in this document, but the language and tone might necessarily be offensive to some adherents. Please distribute wisely.

Version 0.7_A

A technical RFC containing a step outline for treatment and screenplay

A presentation to the General Federalist Constitutional Law Society (GFCLS)

by Cyrus “Kir” Komrik

Warning: like all of my documents this document has been timestamped by a notary public. Anyone working to aid the spread of atheism may use and distribute this document without restriction; provided credit is noted to Cyrus Komrik

A heartbreaking and sad utterance made when someone deeply loved has died and no one knows why.

Utterance 219 of the Pyramid, circa 2500 BCE regarding the Egyptian King Osiris and his death

167: To say the words:
“Atum, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

168: Shu, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

169: Tefnut, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

170: Geb, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

171: Nut, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

172: Isis, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

173: Seth, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom has been preserved alive, and who lives that he may punish you. He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

174: Nephthys, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

175: Thoth, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom has been preserved alive, and who lives that he may punish you. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

176: Horus, this your father is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

177: Great Ennead, this Osiris is here, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

178: Little Ennead, this Osiris is here, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

I am Kir Komrik. My name is Justice and my Title is Liberator.

I’m not so much looking for the end-all be-all answer to any given question as I’m looking to see if I can get to an answer that will make all further questions unnecessary; i.e. the point where I either convert or conclude status quo.

While it may be a heterodox view difficult for adherents to understand, I understand the deconversion process to be a search by the evangelical atheist for The One, True God that is just as sincere and real as the “belief” in atheism itself. It is an intellectually honest pursuit guided by an appreciation of integrity and virtue; or it should be. That one might deconvert as a result is ancillary to the object. And one’s identification as an evangelical atheist comes only as a result of that fact. So, one does not become an evangelical atheist and deconvert, one seeks The One True God and deconverts to become an atheist, becoming an evangelical atheist when the other party likewise deconverts. In this broadened sense I personally have deconverted hundreds of times. In offering onself up for conversion the only requirement the evangelical atheist should make is that the adherent’s apologist answer the questions directly, sensibly and honestly because the journey belongs to the evangelical atheist. When the converter starts a discussion and asks questions, the journey will be theirs.

Welcome to the Canonical Doctrine of Evangelical Atheism

Illuminatio Ubique

Volumes

On The Means and Methods of Mass Deconversion A

Deconversion for Christian Adherents

On The Means and Methods of Mass Deconversion C

Deconversion for Shia Islam Adherents

On The Means and Methods of Mass Deconversion D

Deconversion for Sunni Islam Adherents

On The Means and Methods of Mass Deconversion E

Deconversion for Judaic Adherents

Introduction

If in the last one thousand years of history there could be found any error so great, any turn of events so sad, any accretion of power so evil as to threaten the very future of humanity itself, it is the creation of the factories of ignorance and superstition, those wretched tools of mass control, the hidden bane of humanity, the spectre of religion; this cancer our own ilk created so long ago. Ignorance and superstition are two sides of a counterfeit coin minted through history in the halls of religious institutions whose melting is a clear and present moral necessity. By any sustainable means necessary I here commit my life, my time, my intellect, my energy and my passion to liberating the greatest number of my brothers and sisters from this horror, to becoming a missionary for the unvarnished truth, for the abused when alone and cold to bring them heat, for the exploited when calling for liberation to lend them a sword, for the oppressed of every brand and kind to shine the light of truth over them, and to tender to all humanity the true justice which their hearts could only imagine and by which all their fears are assuaged. The Age is Mine.

Dedication

California’s alright … somebody check my brain ~ Alice In Chains

Table of Contents

RFC Version 0.7

  1. About Division of Labor
  2. Approaching attorneys, judges and civil servants: a Functional Progam
  3. The Atheist Morality Problem
  4. The Methods of Mass Deconversion
  5. Operational Aspects of Deconversion – A Step Outline
  6. The Means of Mass Deconversion

Appendix A

Background on Christianity

NOTICE: if you are looking for deconversion scripts and formulas to start right away, see Appendix B

Appendix B

Deconversion Scripts and Formulas

  1. About Division of Labor

First, we need to announce some assumptions this author is making. I assume the reader is mathematically literate. But I am not assuming any advanced knowledge of the same, or any other discipline. I also assume the reader is an unqualified atheist and I do not recommend expending effort to train anyone who is not. Anyone attempting these methods, I advise based on several generations of family experience in doing deconversions of Shia adherents in Iran, should be twelve years of age or older and that he or she retains full legal capacity. No other conditions should need observance. If anyone wishes to obtain Seeking YHWH: An Explicated English Version of Abrahamic Primary Sources, also (edited and compiled) by this author, you may receive a free copy on request. This document is referenced heavily herein and is a corpus of primary source material for the Abrahamic religions; Judaic (Tanakh and related materials), Christian (Canonical, extra Canonical and related materials) and Islam (the Holy Quran, hadiths of both Sunni and Shia sects and related materials).

One of the recurring themes that has come up for me in this research of deconversion has been the truly remarkable breadth of expertise needed to do this well. It is truly an inter-disciplinary, cross trade venture which begs of some comment.

As the discussion ramps up I will refer to public relations and the need for experts in that field to take over the job now being attempted by persons in academia. To their credit, academics have stepped forward into this vacuum and tried to fill it. And that is largely due to the fact that atheists in other professions have not been nearly as willing to come out publicly as atheists. And in fairness to them, academia is a far less hostile environment than the public relations, marketing, legal, civil service and political “market verticals”. The livelihood of anyone in the role of, say, a judge would be seriously jeopardized by a revelation that they are atheist, especially where judges are elected in places such as the Bible belt in the United States (a region of relatively high adherence rates in the United States). In all public facing roles this is true and that is the ironic problem we face. It is precisely experts in public facing roles that are desperately needed right now. It is easy to pile on and criticize but given the noble effort academics have made it is not in order or productive. The point I will make is that we have an impasse that we need to breach.

I am developing methods on the fly based on the personal experience of my family and my own research. Many wish to scientifically debate various aspects herein, and they are free to do so. But I know from experience what works and I do not feel it would be productive use of my time to engage in such debates. Having said that, this is an RFC and constructive comments are definitely needed. The work is clearly incomplete and certainly imperfect in many respects. Anything the reader can offer is welcomed. I have come to believe (though my experience is more limited than most – I am a recent graduate in my profession) that this must begin in the legal profession. Legal professionals, most of whom I can aver are in fact silent atheists but who in many cases attend religious services weekly, are the ones needed to provide a favorable environment for those in public relations to begin the “war” of persuasion. In the “high touch” world of marketing and public relations money talks in a big way, but I believe the philanthropic demands can be met in any case. The problem is one of perception. In public relations perception and image is everything. Any discomfort or alienation felt by a client, even of the slightest kind, is managed obsessively in a high touch and very serious manner. But these are the real soldiers needed for this job.

So, it would be worthwhile to also point out that there is some overlap in the legal profession and public relations, and I think that is the proximate starting point for mass deconversion. There the talent, experience, education and general knowledge for Machiavellian antics presents vividly within a demographic where silent atheists come in significant proportion. Therefore, I’d submit that this is the specific career role to target with all other project types rescinded. I’ll discuss ways that others who are not in the legal profession can do this in the section on Mass Deconversion. I will also discriminate between the two strategies of one-on-one deconversion versus audience-based deconversion in terms of when and where to apply each.

  1. Approaching attorneys, judges and civil servants: a Functional Progam

The first step of any functional program to “proselytize” atheism should be proximately within the legal profession that specializes in matters pertaining to public relations. The methods for that are generally the same as for any situation that is purely one-on-one. The exact method applied within the profession is detailed in the section on Mass Deconversion. The reader should be careful to note that the steps shown below are based on academic research as to what constitutes the most favorable conditions for deconversion as well as personal knowledge of what works. Some of the steps may be morally unacceptable or even morally reprehensible but were included here to show the full breadth of conditions favorable to deconversion (the reader should understand that this is a universal program to be used globally – and that what constitutes acceptable practice in various locales will differ).

  1. The Atheist Morality Problem

This is the result of my own desire to try to better understand the process of mass deconversion and in what ways that can be improved. When I did this I found what looked to me like a gaping hole in the process; an intellectual liability that needed to be closed. It is a tangent. I don’t like tangents. But that is where we are. This liability has to do with what most people call “morals”. Regardless of its real importance to atheism, it is extremely important to adherents around the globe, independent of their theological beliefs or whims. For this reason, it appears to me that any rigorous program of reasonable and comprehensive means and methods for deconversion must address this problem; that is, we need a durable and sound “moral system” for application to atheism in order that we may counter the charge (and fact?) that atheism is devoid of it. It is my contention that no large scale deconversion effort is going to be effective without solving this problem.

And it is indeed a problem because, some have argued, atheism is intrinsically devoid of morality and it is not clear to me that anyone as yet has shown convincingly that atheism can be “moral”. And that is the salient point that needs to be made at the outset: it makes no difference, as a practical matter for deconversion, whether or not David Hume has destroyed any chance of morality for atheism, but rather, what matters is that we do not have a convincing argument that Hume’s logical dilemma can be overcome. There has been, in my view, a tendency to completely fail to comprehend the significance of the term “convincing” as just used previously. In fact, I would contend that for atheism to gain any significant ground globally the atheist “movement” must mature beyond this narrow womb in which it is dominated by scientists and Science. And that wouldn’t be hard to do in principle because I suspect from my own experience there are in fact more atheists outside science than within. I believe when this occurs it will represent a “break out” point where mass deconversion will rapidly accelerate. That is the hill I want to climb. But of those who are publicly open about their atheist beliefs, almost all are scientists. This must change for us to see any real deconversion progress.

Despite these appearances, I note for completeness that although religions exact a claim to objective morality, they do in fact face the same problem. Religious morality cannot be objective if it is based on the pronouncements of a god, since the god itself is not objective. This follows from the fact that one cannot arbitrarily restrict definitions of subjectivity to the homo sapiens sapiens. The proper restriction is determined by the nature of the thing, thought, and therefore subjectivity is correctly constrained to any entity capable of thought.  Any entity to which the property of subjectivity can be assigned necessarily thinks. Having said that, this doesn’t remove the need for atheists engaged in deconversion to provide an objective morality for atheists, as explained supra.

I value the genius and good work of scientists and mean no ill will in saying these things. My point is that scientists need to retire the stage and go back to Science. They need to let the experts pick up the torch in matters of deconversion and public relations generally. To their defense, much of their involvement in this has been out of necessity since the “experts” have to this point refused to come “out” and offer their skills and talents for the cause. This also needs to change. I am saddened and disappointed by the seemingly ubiquitously disastrous public relations embarrassments some are unintentionally but routinely producing daily. And I believe this is due to the fact that professionals in this field are underrepresented.

Not surprisingly some people with a highly specialized profession outside public relations exhibit an understanding of it that is crude to the extreme and, as received by the general public, it is having an absolutely devastating impact on both Science and atheism as a movement which inherently requires the public’s support in order to succeed. It is both unintentional and understandable given the false choice they have been handed. It is time for the public facing professionals to step up to the plate and do their desperately needed part.

The problem having been framed sufficiently for my purposes, I’d like to outline a solution. As the reader may know, a philosopher of some considerable time past named David Hume proposed an interesting ethics problem that many today still debate, discuss and write about. I do not give much credence or significance to ideas formulated in an environment so lacking as compared to the modern one, but the point of bringing this up is that it has a direct bearing on the issue of how others understand the issue of morality.

Hume’s idea, in a crude paraphrase, was to say that the faculty of reason can only be descriptive of causality and fact, but it cannot ascribe value to anything. Value, he proffered, comes from so-called “passions and desires”. This has an interesting nexus in law, since the student of western law will recall that law, in its most fundamental description, is the subject that deals with how value is assigned in society. We shall see that this connection is not coincidental. In any case, Hume’s “passions and desires” would today be analogous to the visceral motivational mechanisms of human beings associated, to my understanding, with the hypothalamus; provided, we restrict our comparison to those “passions and desires” guaranteed common to all human beings. The reason for this restriction is that I am interested in what I can objectively say about these so-called “passions and desires”. If the reader can hold their breath, I will come full circle on this point momentarily.

Hume goes on to frame our understanding of the proper provenance of morality as a limiting condition whereby

1.)   one may possess facts through the faculty of reason

2.)   but that those facts are insufficient, by themselves, to provide sufficient definition of the act of assignment of value.

which seems to render that morality inaccessible in any objective sense. I have examined this argument carefully and have concluded that though I believe it is in fact fallacious – something to be engaged infra – what matters is it is sufficiently sophisticated to frustrate deconversion. And it does currently.

The first order of business, however, is to substantiate the claim that it is fallacious. Harris attempts to do this with a noble effort that I believe ultimately fails. He essentially argues that this is just a “trick of language”. But the problem with this approach is that it relies on an analysis of Hume’s logical argument using the informal English used by others to describe it. And since his argument is one regarding language, this objection is material. The language often used is a substitution of “is” for “fact” and “ought” for “value”. At once it is clear how this muddies the water. What Hume is saying is that whatever facts we may “know” it is not possible, from those facts alone, to assign value to any … thing. What Hume is doing is to put the burden on the one claiming to have established an objective provenance for morality to show that value can be assigned from knowable facts alone. Harris’ argument does not accomplish this, to my understanding.

Harris’ argument for establishing the “bridge” to connect fact and value is to start by saying that fact and value are in fact “tricks of language”; i.e. a linguistic artifact. And he goes on to say that in reality fact and value are one and the same.

A friend of mine had considerable difficulty accepting this fact. These statements were made by Harris at a talk he held with Dawkins at Oxford in 2011. The video was released on youtube and I will reference the run times here.

My friend stated that, “i didn’t see at any point where he said that facts and values are one in the same.”

But it is there. At 7:14 Sam Harris: “… It is thought that there are two quantities in this world, there are facts on the one hand and there are values on the other. And it is imagined that these two are discrete entities that can’t be understood in monistic terms and it is imagined that science can’t say anything about value …”

At 10:10 Sam Harris: “I am going to argue that this split between facts and values is an illusion. And my claim is that values are a certain kind of fact …”

No, they are not.

If you are objecting because this is not exactly the same thing as “one in the same” then I think you are nitpicking and not seeing the point. The point is that he is using this statement “values are a certain kind of fact” to bridge those concepts, which is precisely what Hume was saying you cannot do; that is, you cannot derive an ought from an is. So, this statement of Harris’ is fallacious. Values are not fact … at all. He either does not understand the difference or is being dishonest.

At 11:25 he does use this “worst possible misery” argument, but I’ve also disproved that (infra).

So, between these two statements, first about values and facts and then about misery, he never is able to form a basis for deriving value, which is my point, and which is the presenting challenge.

My friend commented, “values can be facts but not all facts are values”.

I don’t know what he meant by that and I disagree. Values are not facts … period. These are two completely different concepts. By definition, a value is subjective and a fact is objective, for starters.

I found myself wondering if he understood that the term “value” here is not being used in the numeric sense. It sounded like he didn’t. He then went on:

“… though facts can lead to values.”

which then led me to think that he just doesn’t understand the difference between these two terms. Facts cannot “lead to values” … that is the whole point Hume was making.

Therefore, what he and Harris are doing, if this is really their position, is novel. They are actually arguing that Hume’s claim about not being able to derive value from fact is just not true; without providing any reason for why it is not true.

but it gets worse. Harris apparently doesn’t seem to understand that the semantics of “ought” and “is” are just a language substitution for “value” and “fact” because; at one point in the video he discusses value and fact, then later discusses “ought” and “is” as if these are two completely different discussions. And when he does get to the “ought” and “is” discussion he fumbles again. At 16:15 he says, “I happen to think that this is a trick of language … that … this notion of “ought”, falls very much into Vickensteins notion of philosophy as a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language …”

Harris’ logic is vacuous and superficial. As I initially stated, it is fallacious.

But this is a clever attempt to bridge these two things. And we shall see in what follows that the correct formulation of Harris’ argument is in fact quite similar, but we have here, it is hoped, refined it to make it more durable and resistant to public challenge. Pragmatically speaking, there is no need to waste our time trying to prove or disprove whether fact and value are in fact one and the same. Rather, we would be better served by inquiring as to whether we can strengthen Harris’ argument since any atheist moral system will obviously depend on bridging fact and value somehow. We shall show, as suggested, that we can. But first, Harris contends that the two serve identically by use of a thought experiment:

Consider the worst possible form of “bad”. Here he is trying to obtain an objective understanding of “good” and “bad”, thus showing that from fact we can indeed obtain value. The crux of this argument is that this works only because the extreme manifestation of the quality of being “bad” makes manifest (thus objective) the value intrinsically contained within that fact; or, intrinsically identical to it. This is a classic “if I add enough numbers together in a finite sequence I’ll get infinity” argument; which is fallacious. This reminds one of those limit laws we all learned about in school. It is actually pretty elegant. I gathered that Harris sees “well being” as a consequence of epistemologically prior causal events that can be subjected to empiricism. And Harris believes all this settles the issue. I demur.

I will explain my position by first attempting to show that though Harris almost certainly didn’t intend to invoke limit laws or any analogue to it, that is in fact what he must do in order for his argument to work with logical certainty. And the problem this presents for deconversion is that it presents an intellectual vulnerability if it is merely accepted as an uncertain but “reasonable” conclusion. But Harris’ argument when pressed in this manner, we can see, quickly comes apart. It is not meaningful to “pass a limit” on something that is not discrete or subject to algebraic manipulation.

This is a clumsy way of saying that there is no objective concept of what the worst (analogous to infinity) thing one can experience is in the first place. Thus, Harris cannot establish the most extreme example, and thus guarantee that all observers will agree that it is the worst of all possible instances, which is what he implicitly requires as predicate in this thought experiment (and that follows from the fact that for every bad score x there is a corresponding worse bad score y such that y > x). This step is, by definition, necessary to move from a subjective to an objective statement.

Harris tries to insulate his thought experiment from scrutiny by suggesting at 11:58 that:

“ … if you think that the worst possible misery for everyone isn’t bad, or that it might have a silver lining, or it … there might be something worse, I don’t know what you’re talking about … and what is more, I’m reasonably sure you don’t know what you’re talking about either.” This is a clever attempt to conceal intellectual bankruptcy, but it won’t wash. The problem isn’t that anything he says there is “wrong”. The problem is that his statement is undefined. To see this point, we can turn his comment around and ask it of him: “could there not be something worse?” If so, how do you know that? You don’t. It may seem pedantic, but a rigorous foundation for morality will require that every angle is solid. Harris’ argument is not.

But more importantly, any clever creationist or anyone else wishing to attack this can do so with effectiveness sufficient to place a comprehensive set of means and methods for deconversion at risk of failure. Therefore, I reject it.

For this reason, before progressing to the specifics of deconversion we’re hopefully going to tighten up Harris’ logic and render it durable. But in saying this I do not mean to suggest we are going to merely come up with an answer no one can refute, but one that also has the quality of being logically sound.

First, Harris is trying to bite off more than he can chew. All he needs to do is show that at least some overlap exists between fact and value.

To explain this we rely informally on Set Theory. Let one set A be the set of all facts accessible to reason, which we shall go ahead and promote to modern terminology if the reader does not mind:

Let one set A be the set of all facts accessible to empiricism and

Let one set B be the set of all discrete valuations knowable to any set of observers C.

Then we are asking if there is any union A ∪ B not empty. But just as Harris should have been restrained, we are restrained to the consideration of only those valuations that are common to all human beings, which is how we escape Harris’ folly. A quick conversation with a biologist will hopefully make short work of this list. The list we are building is precisely those facts knowable to us (through Biology in this case) that are guaranteed to stand simultaneously as valuations for any arbitrarily chosen human being. The list, along with what biologists currently consider the quintessential traits of each, is as follows:

Sex – ways we seek mates (allowing and enabling all the ways one might want to mate or simulate the act through sex – promoting sex basically)

Nutrition – affects our career choices (allowing for and promoting a productive career)

Control of one’s space – control of one’s environment (allowing space, sovereignty of abode, an abode)

Aversion to Conflict – protection from each other (supporting individual safety and boundaries)

fact [reason] vs. value [hypothalamus]

ð  fact [reason] vs. value [Sex, Nutrition, Control, Aversion]

Done. But what does this mean? It demonstrates that there is an objective morality that can be obtained from fact alone; with a caveat regarding subjectivity we’ll examine infra. It is morally “good” when human sexuality is as liberalized as possible and people are free in their sexual lives and affections, when nutrition is a need well addressed and no one starves or is malnourished, when one has a right to some kind of sovereignty of abode and ability to control their personal – access to housing itself being part of that – and physical space, and when persons have the tools and means to establish and maintain their safety and reasonable boundaries that others cannot cross. The latter “good” constitutes a rabbit hole in that it drags in all sorts of human rights concepts. I will expound.

First, I’d try to identify in what way this “good” thing limits human rights so that we know what to include in this discussion. Individual safety and boundaries is a “good” restricted essentially to those human rights (as we have come to call them) which serve to give deference to an individual’s safety and the personal boundaries that ensure or work to guarantee that safety. I have created a list of those rights as Article 7 of my fundamental law for a general federation and I reference the reader to that (see Appendix). In any case, what we have found is a set of axiomatic moral goods that are not all too different from what Harris and Dawkins also speak of. More on how it differs will be discussed later.

At the end of the day we really just come full circle: the morals we identify are remarkably similar to what Harris would have envisioned anyway. And the reason for this isn’t all that surprising. What Harris and most people can intuitively surmise to be “good”, I contend, derives ultimately from the very system we’ve identified as being the source of moral certainty; the Four F’s. So it should therefore be no surprise that Harris’ conclusions might look remarkably similar to Article 7. But the key difference is that what we have obtained is an objective foundation for moral certitude. And, to be sure, the morals we identify differ from those of Harris or anyone else in the details, which is also part of what makes our approach useful. It gives us a greater insight into exactly what kind of moral system is most desirable.

But, one other deficiency in Harris’ formulation has to do with group versus individual “rights” or “good”. Oddly, Harris and Dawkins both seem to be acutely aware of this problem but only in the most camouflaged sense. Harris has written numerous oblique references to this problem and we need to examine it here (these are observations from a recorded discussion at Oxford in April 2011).

1.) hospital organ donors being murdered to save more lives is posed but never engaged.

2.) There is a trolley just below a cliff and you stand above. The trolley is certain to impact and kill 4 people, but a nice large fat man is beside you and if he fell on the tracks he would stop the trolley. Do you push him off for a net rescue of 4 people? How does this compare when the act of pushing him off is abstracted from you (say, by being able to drop someone on the track by some distant remote control scheme)? This is actually something that Peter Singer wrote about in 2007 at project-syndicate.org.

3.) Harris vaguely appealed to something like reciprocal altruism as the solution to the hospital and trolley problem

4.) Did Harris actually argue in favor of human misery without meaning to do so? It sounded like it when he argued against the use of certain psychiatric drugs.

5.) Harris stated that free will is illusory and I was oddly comfortable with that, intellectually speaking, until I began to ponder the problem of non-deterministic *and* non-algorithmic mental processes. I would argue that Harris’ argument did not sustain.

6.) Harris spoke of the difference between justice (he uses this term not in the legal sense but in the popular sense of “fairness”) and “well being”; without realizing it was really just a distinction between individual and group. His argument about “well being” was basically, as I think I’ve learned tonight, his formation and assertion of archetype in consequentialism.

Perhaps the biggest public relations liability comes from the apparent views of both Harris and Dawkins which is the massive and blatant avoidance of any meaningful discussion of group versus individual rights; as evidenced from above. And “apparent” is a deliberate word choice since that is really what concerns us here; that is, appearances generally. We shall engage it here.

Group versus Individual Good

Harris speaks of zero sum scenarios when dealing with the question of group or individual. His final solution to the dilemma, unfortunately, is to just dismiss it as “not important” because he thinks that something akin to reciprocal altruism will “solve it”. In other words, he thinks people will “just be compassionate” in those difficult moral moments. This is completely unacceptable and is a recipe not only for serious challenge but serious disgust and disdain from adherents. Let’s be clear, my purpose is to spread atheism everywhere.

Harris does seem to acknowledge the problem of the zero sum game by saying that zero sum situations in which the individual’s utility increases with no utility increase for the group, or vice versa, is a reality. So, in order to better understand the discussion and frame it properly, we will go back to the statements supra that have been attributed to Harris and/or Dawkins.

In the case of the hospital and trolley example, the logic is similar but not exactly the same. In Harris’ trolley example the point of this that I gathered is to illustrate the difference between a rational decision versus the impulses of reciprocal altruism which may not be rational, at least within the limitations of the example. How is this? When a human being has to make a decision about who shall live or die based solely on number (the remote control example), the decision will revert to reason alone as there is nothing confounding the thought process. But when the presumptively purely rational decision is contaminated with an emotional component (the “fat man”) the outcome may not be rational. What we mean by emotion is essentially identical to Hume’s “passions”. And it is the introduction of abstraction into this example that finally explains this. When the “fat man” is standing directly next to you, the reality of that person’s existence is less abstract than the reality of the existence of the people on the trolley. And this is normal and good. It is a trait that helps protect us from deception.

But what does this story, as well as most of the similar stories Harris and Dawkins offer, ultimately tell us? It demonstrates that the interests of the individual may, in many circumstances, be more likely defended by an advocate acting out of passions rather than reason. To understand this, one only needs to see that the Trolley example is an extreme. Consider what would happen if we change the Trolley example to a scenario where there is one person on the trolley and the “fat man” standing next to you. You know one must die by the circumstances given. But let’s add a caveat. Say you don’t know the man next to you but the person on the trolley is a friend or acquaintance. Now it gets murky. If you don’t know the person that well you might well leave the “fat man” right where he is and let your “friend” die. In fact, this kind of oxymoronic behavior is all too common in human society. It is the physical proximity of the “fat man”, hence his reification to the actor, that forces the “passions” to override reason. And it was this “passion” that allowed the “fat man” to gain favor. We could come up with better examples for sure, but the point is that we can sustain this argument with Harris’ example alone; to wit, our example illustrates our point but need not serve as proof of it.

So, what Harris is actually dancing around here is the problem of the individual versus the group. He appears ill-equipped to respond to it apparently due to a lack of sufficient background in matters of civil society, contracts, economics and law. In other words, Harris needs to introduce the concept of equity in law to make progress in this discussion. He can be forgiven for this, but not if he then uses this to begin making statements regarding morality in human society. Thus we identify the second failure of the Harris proposition. And it is a failure as far as I’m concerned only inasmuch as it leaves Harris’ morality vulnerable to negative public relations. Often an advocate’s insecurities – of whatever stripe but in this case of the intellectual kind – are exposed by what they focus on the most and it is uncanny how reliable this is. So much time and discussion spent on these stories and examples belie what I think is an uncertainty about the completeness of the proposition. This uncertainty would be correctly founded.

We have now developed the problem enough to revisit the subjective caveat as promised previously. The astute reader will note that whether using the Harris Fallacy or the approach we’ve developed here with the 4 Fs, both cases depend on an objective basis for definition. What I mean by this is that we are justified in using the 4 Fs as a basis for a “morality” precisely because we know that phenomenon to be generally operative of all human beings. But this is misleading since a system of “morals”, in the sense that the term is understood, requires an objective referent other than that of the same type and kind; i.e. an objective referent separate and independent of human beings. For purely Machiavellain purposes we can call this “morals”, but strictly speaking it is not. Rather, it is only a system of agreed upon boundaries based on an understanding of what all human beings value, not necessarily of any kind of ultimate, most general definition of value. To understand this, we can imagine at some point in the future making contact with “conscious” exobiological beings who do not possess any analogue to the 4 Fs. Now, we can see that our system of “morality” is not generally applicable, and hence, not truly objective. Indeed, what we have devised here is merely a system of boundaries between human beings which can be generally applied to any human being. But this is just a social contract predicated on a common basis for applicability. The only “new aspect” of this is the fact that we are predicating it on that common basis rather than something arbitrary, or some ideological or religious argument. This now brings us full circle and informs the conversation sufficiently to contemplate a proof that “morality” is in fact a fiction derived of mythology and that an atheist can thus never be “moral”. Let me explain.

We prove this using an approach similar to the one used to identify the Harris Fallacy; to wit:

For any purportedly objective moral system x predicated on any set of valuable constructs common to a set of beings i; there may exist any arbitrary set of beings j such that the predicates of x are not common to all members of both i and j.

Therefore, even if we can solve the “moral” dilemma as it has been traditionally framed, we next encounter this more fundamental limitation that proves the impossibility of a “moral” system; and in fact demonstrates that we can’t even define the term sufficiently well. But we need to add another caveat. This does not actually prove the ‘impossibility’ of an objective “moral” system, it proves that we can never know if any given “moral” system is objective.

But the useful part of this proof is that it proves that we can never sufficiently define the word “morality”, thus proving the very term itself to be a fiction or myth.

This is why I’ve referred to “morality” as a fiction. But what this proof does admit of is a system of agreed upon boundaries predicated on a set of constructs valued by all members of a finite group, also known as law and equity.

What we are once again curiously seeing is the distinction between the group and the individual; while no human being can claim access to any objective “moral” system, a group of human beings can, upon the basis of biological fact alone, assess what is valuable to the entire human species as a whole.

That becomes the subject of law and economics whose full treatment is beyond the scope of this work. But the point is that Harris and Dawkins are vastly oversimplifying their true capacity to speak authoritatively on moral issues in society precisely because of their incompetence in law and economics, their refusal to engage it, or their mistake of not engaging it.  Harris’ decision to suggest that something akin to reciprocal altruism or compassion would just “take care of itself” is a disastrous mistake and will be handily dispatched should his social ideas ever result in consideration in law, which it ultimately would if successful. All of Harris’ examples of this type suffer from the same problem. This will not work aid to atheism.

I have provided a lengthy proposition regarding the matter of law and economics as it relates both to the social contract generally and to atheist morality in the form of the fundamental law for a general federation supra. That should be taken as a companion to this work and we shall proceed with the topic at hand. But whatever the specifics of a legal system are, the point to be taken here is that what we are in need of is not a system of atheist “morals” but just commonly predicated law and equity. And it is certainly the more reasonable conclusion for an individual to base their personal morals on the same precepts as does our system of law and equity; the logic behind that being that if natural selection led to this program it is far more likely to work favor to the individual.

Consequentialism is not a word

That whether something would be adjudged “good” or not should rely on empirically measurable outcomes is, for this author, the proverbial no-brainer and does not require a two-cent word. This is not intended to be facetious: it may be that this term has academic merit but we do not want to put this in front of the public for several reasons we do not need to engage here. And on this larger point there seems to be fairly wide agreement amongst atheists and to some imperfect fidelity, adherents.

We will now attempt to apply reason to establish value from fact in law and equity to generate a more complete picture of that which has already been discussed.

An executor of the social contract acting in combination of rule of law and equity in law, and presuming general equity as described in general federalism, renders the following objects as fundamental human rights that are inalienable and cannot be granted by any government, but merely exist stare decisis:

1.)   Allowing for/guaranteeing and enabling all the ways one might want to mate or simulate the act through sexual relations, regardless of kind, scope, extent or type (qualified against 4 in fl). A natural person cannot be made to suffer an infringement of their human sexuality, regardless of kind.

2.)   Allowing for/guaranteeing and promoting one’s capacity to be a “financially productive” (this phrase has a specific statutory meaning in fl) entity. A natural person cannot be made to suffer an infringement of their capacity for livelihood, regardless of kind.

3.)   Allowing for/guaranteeing space, sovereignty of abode, and a viable guarantee of housing for all with no homelessness. A natural person cannot be made to suffer an infringement of their right to be secure in shelter whose space they control, regardless of kind.

4.)   Supporting/guaranteeing individual safety and the personal boundaries that speak to it; even if to some degree if by perception only (to be expounded upon). A natural person cannot be made to suffer an infringement of their general safety and reasonable sense thereof, regardless of kind. Numerous human rights come out of this – see Article 7.

The fundamental requirement to meet this goal is that we must be able to advance by applying reason to fact from the so-called 4 F’s to the 4 statements above. The actual identity between fact and value occurs at the level of Biology as previously described. But we have here assumed this extended understanding of the four F’s because it seems reasonable and reflects what appears to be the interpretation of the “4 F’s” by most biologists who study it. However, this set of steps needs to be tightened up by someone competent in that field. I would point out to the reader that these four F’s emerge more or less fully in human beings at approximately puberty, a foreshadowing of the human rights of youth and something that is often overlooked.

To advance this discussion the reader will need to divert from here to the fundamental law already mentioned. This represents the interface between what are fairly basic sciences and law and economics (the plan is to write an “interface” document to connect the provisions of Article 7 formally). We now proceed to the main topic.

  1. The Methods of Mass Deconversion

An Introduction to Counter-Apologetics

In order to understand the specifics of Counter Apologetics we must be clear that religion involves mind control, and this mind control results in delusional thought processes. This was developed more completely in the previous section. So, for this reason, counter apologetics deals not only with “deprogramming” the adherent but “reprogramming” the adherent as well. In this sense, the characteristics of the religious con job are reflected in the “reprogramming” process as well. The difference however, is that in the case of “reprogramming” we are not dealing with a fraud. As a result, the terminology will be reflected in both senses: “con artist” and “mark” are approximately synonymous with “deconverter” and “adherent”, respectively.

The “us – them” brainwashing allows the con artist (religious leadership) to get someone to do virtually anything.  In virtually all religious communities the idea of “us” vs. “them” is a salient feature that is used frequently to control the adherent: if everyone “outside” the cult or following is “them” then “they” cannot be trusted and the only source of trust is the con artist, the religious leadership. And so, in religion everyone outside the specific sect is under the influence of the devil. You must keep that in mind. Associated with this dynamic is the fact that, typically, leaders of religious groups suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or score high in that dimension on personality (Axis I or Axis II).

The psychology of a con job begins by exploiting a person’s (the mark’s) greatest fear which is always:

“I’m scared I’m going to be rejected for …” [individual specific – it could be anything]

The mark will try to conceal this and will not freely discuss it.

This whole dynamic creates pressure on the mark:

“So that I don’t get rejected I have to hide that I am …” [individual specific – it could be anything]

This pressure and pre-occupation with hiding a set of features or traits causes the mark to be distracted emotionally and intellectually:

People tend to project their own insecurities, in its full generality, to others.  Studies show that people will tend to more strongly perceive a negative trait in others if they believe they have the same negative trait. The more negative they perceive their own trait, the stronger the projection. More finessed methodologies show that insecurities are guarded and protected by this projection, and that it is a defensive mechanism. In any case, the fear of rejection is a product of insecurity. Once one knows the insecurities, they know more precisely what the fears are.

The accomplished deconverter should use this frequently to gauge what the adherent is insecure about vis-à-vis their faith or belief in a god. This is done by observing what the adherent finds to be negative about atheism generally, which is accomplished through the question posing approach of the Socratic Method discussed infra. The deconverter is not concerned about any other insecurities the adherent may harbor.

So, the con artist has to identify the mark’s fear. For deconversion we are fortunate because the context tells us much: the greatest fears of the mark are at least partly identified; namely, a fear of mortality and punishment by a god. This gives the deconverter a huge head start. Other fears regarding the adhernet’s religion and beliefs are identified by in turn identifying insecurities using the method just described. But going back to our generalized description of the techniques, once the con artist has identified this fear, the con artist will:

1.)   Threaten to expose the secret fear of the mark or

2.)   Threaten the mark that the con artist will personally reject the mark.

It is at this point that the role of the deconverter diverges from the true con artist, the religious leadership. Here, the fear of death, for example, is not as sensitive of a secret as the kind exploited by con artists and the deconverter has no need (nor any desire) to threaten the adherent.

In the case of a genuine con job or fraud, the next step is that the mark may react by being antagonized (and thence try to control the con artist) or by fleeing. At this point the con artist has succeeded in their goal; which is to wrest power over the mark.

We can now operationally define the role of the mark in terms of the mark’s personality:

A mark is someone who will always be at increased risk of manipulation because they “feel” rejectable in themselves about who/what they are and are afraid of people finding out. A mark is almost always a particularly insecure individual.

Avoiding rejection is a survival instinct and we all do it. But to begin the deconversion process, the adherent must first be disabused of their fear (which is distinct from the fear used by a con artist to control a mark) of the wrath of their god for engaging in thoughts that might serve to question the existence of their god. This is the first true step of deconversion. The best way to accomplish this is to appeal to the authority of that god itself. Thus, a prayer, or whatever appropriate supplication as required, can be performed to ask their god to allow them to use the faculties their god gave them, the power of reason, to at least consider in the hypothetical, the best arguments available for questioning the existence of their  god. The deconverter may participate with the adherent in this act and can justify it by pointing out that their god, most likely, would value any adherents desire to strengthen their faith through inquiry and positive doubt. This is generally a well accepted notion in the Christian community, at least. By performing this act the adherent greatly reduces the stress involved in the very idea of engaging in these kinds of thoughts, something normally a massive stumbling block to deconversion. The next issue to be sure I mentioned in this supplication is the plea to the god or gods to relieve the adherent of feelings of guilt for betraying or abandoning their “personal” god. We shall refer to this as the decompression prayer.

The deconvert personality

Studies consistently show that the personality most amenable to deconversion is one with the higher openness to new experiences. Given the triage nature of deconversion, candidates for deconversion should be pre-selected on this basis.

The key to establishing arguments against the existence of God is to first and foremost, before you attempt any convincing or make any arguments against God, remove the fear inherent within adherents over even considering the possibility that God does not exist. This lies in the background of every deconversion attempt as the foundation that keeps adherents in denial, regardless of the sophistication of the challenge. The decompression prayer will address part of this. But the ubiquitous fear of death for adherents; that is, death definitive and eternal, is a more profound problem.

In attempting to “mature” the adherent to a level of understanding and acceptance of human mortality the best approach is to find a suitable alternative to assuage their fears. Not surprisingly, the very thing most atheists believe (at least everyone in my family has believed for generations) regarding purpose and eternity is likely the best paradigm we can offer the adherent. Here the concept of the indelible mark on humanity substitutes for eternal life. For all people the depth and scope of such a mark on history varies considerably. But what is important is that the adherent understands the notion of a mark on this world as analogous to the idea of “God’s ongoing creation” theology, as it is commonly presented in the Christian popular framework. In this view, the adherent “lives eternally” in the after effect they have on other human beings that follow them. While it is not a one for one substitution identity, most find that in some odd way this has the effect of placating fears of mortality. Exactly why this works is not clear, but once the adherent is fully conditioned into this world-view, they will in all likelihood experience far less anxiety over the issue of eternal life, or the lack thereof. And this view goes beyond the simplistic and in some ways venal notion of procreation as a substitute for eternal life which; by the way, is far less effective in assuaging one’s fears of death.

We recommend that a preliminary conversation occur in which both the fear of God’s reprisal for considering the possibility that “he” doesn’t exist and the introduction of definitive mortality is introduced, solidified in meaning and clarity and internalized by the adherent before proceeding to counter apologetics. This can be presented purely as a hypothetical conversation without any initial focus on why this is being done or that it is preparation for deconversion. Only once deconverted will the former adherent realize what this was about.

A final word is in order regarding the preparation and handling of the adherent. Given the description above regarding how religion operates like a con job and how it involves mind control, the deconverter must keep in mind that when “reversing” the con job one is taking on a massive moral responsibility regarding the emotional and psychological safety of the adherent, or their sense thereof, and that the deconverter must take their role in this very seriously. In a deconversion cycle such as this the deconverter is fully responsible for the psychological health and well being of the adherent and must be prepared to follow up on the progress of the adherent even after deconversion. This is an absolutely essential step not only for its moral weight but for practical reasons: failure to “care for the flock” in these cases will undermine the credibility of the overall mission of mass deconversion.

Thus, the introduction of an “atheist support structure” as mentioned supra is also calculated to serve this purpose. In mass deconversion attempts this support structure must be well established before attempting any deconversions. It is preferable that a psychiatrist familiar with this type of process is retained or part of this support structure and is available at all times. They should be able and willing to provide their services to any adherent in the process of deconversion without charge or condition.

As an overview of the services the psychiatrist will likely offer, we can describe it in terms of the experience of the adherent as they go through this process. The deconverter will likely observe that the adherent progresses through states if identity, first as Believer, then as “Profane” and then as Irreligious. when this happens the adherent gradually steps out from beneath the “Sacred Canopy” as it is called by a researcher named Peter Berger. This is a concept similar to that of public myth; possibly noble lies told to comfort and assuage us from the unknowns. In 1994 Barbour wrote a book called “Versions of deconversion”. It was a study of narratives of deconversions.

We will now provide an overview of what we hope is the current consensus understanding of psychologists regarding the psychology of belief; in our case, in religions or gods. Our intent is, of course pragmatic, as we seek to outline only the psychological artifacts relevant to deconversion. In that regard it will be somewhat selective and very much limited in scope. One of the strangest things I discovered in my research was that the techniques I learned from my family and that my famiy had used for generations was an identical parallel to psychological research on the same subject. I was astounded. Here, you will read all about it.

Fides Quaerens Intellectum

The most effective method for deconversion is one this author learned as a child and which was handed down through his family for generations. It is said in our family that over 1000 families were deconverted by our extended family from Shia Islam to atheism in our home country of Iran over a period of seventy years. This deconversion often involved a transition from traditional Shia Islam to Sufi Islam, then to atheism (this was a more exaggerated form of the “decompresson” used in Christian deconversion). The technique used was based on what is called “decompression seeding” in the context of what is called the Socratic Method, named after the philosopher Socrates. The particular Socratic (Christian) formulation I’ve used herein is based on the work of Todd Allen Gates, an accomplished Socratic expert who is familiar with Christian deconversion.

In our dive into deconversion we cannot help running headlong into an academic discipline called the Sociology of Religion. This discipline deals specifically with issues of belief, disbelief, conversion and deconversion. What we find in the literature is a healthy dose of research, particularly on matters of conversion, but not as much on deconversion. We will examine the limited literature on this topic in this section.

Purely for our purposes here we will denominate a key principle we’ve identified and which belongs to this discipline as the Principle of the Sociology of Religion:

This Principle is that adherents form beliefs about their god – and atheists form beliefs about the physicality of their world – based on a set of antecedent beliefs that are core and fundamental to their personality; and arguably inherited.

Layered over this like onion layers are more superficial beliefs that are predicated on the core beliefs. These “outer”, or superficial beliefs are considerably more amenable to change and manipulation than are the core beliefs. Some refer to this as a core belief – “sub-belief” concept in which some notion or concept of a god or gods lies at the core and several other “outer” beliefs, sub-beliefs, will typically include a set whose kind is relatively common for most adherents:

  • Logical arguments – for or against a god/s as the case may be (atheist or adherent)
  • Creation – crucial, strongly held beliefs about the origins of the universe (atheist and adherent)
  • Prayer – a strong belief in the effectiveness of prayer (adherent) or the power of reason (atheist)
  • Morality – strong beliefs about morals from a god/s (adherents) or some novel concept (atheists)
  • Bible – strong beliefs about the divinity of esteemed religious texts (adherents) and the skeptical (too skeptical?) view of such texts (atheists)
  • Others of their ilk – provide example and number and provide a social support structure
  • Personal relationship – strong personal relationships (to other adherents or atheists)

At this point, as the reader may have suspected, we contend in this work that the balance of this author’s personal experience and the research shows unequivocally that logical argumentation has virtually no persuasive effect whatsoever; whether we are talking about converting someone to a religion or deconverting someone from religion. This may be counter-intuitive to many and does seem to suggest that all the intellectual banter about teleology, first causes and the like might be irrelevant to deconversion. Mostly, they are. This is because the fundamental, core beliefs, being so deeply ingrained are very difficult to dislodge or alter. To be clear, the only reason we even discuss traditional apologetic arguments and the counter apologetics for them is as a defensive measure for the deconverter when adherents get “caught up in the wagon axle” on these objections.

Most arguments for or against god’s existence (religious arguments meaning argument that is either aimed at establishing religious belief or undermining it) beg the doxastic (def: something about belief or opinion) question; that is, arguments will be compelling only to those who already accept the conclusion. Intellectual arguments are so common because the believer or nonbeliever already accepts their conclusions.

An atheist believes no gods exist because they are physicalist and that is a core, fundamental belief. The arguments for atheism, while conforming to the atheist’s belief, do not cause the atheist to be atheist. Rather, their belief is a core, fundamental and antecedent belief.

Having said this, many atheists will insist that a greater proportion of atheists reached their belief through a deliberative process (even if it is a minority) vs. relying on antecedent belief than adherents reached their faith through a deliberative process rather then relying on antecedent belief. But it is indeed the same on both sides. The reason why most atheists do not see this is analogous to the reason adherents do not see it on their side: the physicalist view of atheism, even if not developed into an empirical world view, is a core belief that subconsciously influences their thinking, placing nature and its behavior at the core instead of a god/s. For adherents it is just the reverse. But for atheists there is one added factor that makes their belief in a deliberative decision to be atheist seem so real; atheists, like anyone, can engage in intellectual argumentation within themselves to self-justify an antecedent belief, if their personality compels them to do so. And most atheists have that personality. Most adherents do not self-justify with intellectual argumentation.

Illustrations of this phenomenon show up in theological work as well. Most faithful see understanding as coming from faith, not the reverse, as nonbelievers would. “Faith seeking understanding” in latin is: fides quaerens intellectum. So, for the faithful, they have an antecedent belief in a god upon which all else is justified. If this comes from something core, possibly even inherited, this belief is extremely difficult to modify or alter; especially if the belief deals with the existence of a god. This is such an important point that it needs to be emphasized; both because of its inherent import and because it is so common to accept its counter position in public discourse.

Logical argumentation for conversion or deconversion has virtually no impact on the probability of an adherent or a non-theist deconverting or converting; and this is especially so in the case of religion. The deconverter must rely on other techniques that deal directly with core beliefs in order to deconvert an adherent.

And that is the subject of this work; that is, we will be developing these means and methods and we will not rely at all on logical argumentation. Rather, we will operate on the premise that persuasion requires attendance to the audience’s antecedently held beliefs and attitudes; rendering the core beliefs the primary target of deconversion. This may or may not include a discussion of religion or gods at all; it simply depends on what seeds can be planted to shift the core belief in one direction or the other. We have mentioned that the more common core belief for adherents is the belief in the existence of some kind of god or gods. But this is admittedly an over-simpification and something we need to examine more closely. As we being to look into the core of an adherent’s belief system what we see is really an emotional framework:

An adherent’s core belief is a belief in a supreme being who is invisible but able to observe all things the adherent does and thinks; and a being that exacts a price for any person who fails to believe this. And this belief is an antecedent of religious belief; that is, it is epistemologically prior to any formulation of a theology or doctrine about this Supreme Being. If we wish to address the antecedent belief directly, we should start by asking what makes one vulnerable to such a belief. The answer, curiously, harkens back to a previous section in which we described the nature of religious con jobs. In that section we identified 6 “secrets” of a “Master con Artist”. These 6 secrets are in fact also the symptoms of a person who exhibits vulnerability to this core belief.

The deconverter will need to address these symptoms in the adherent, not try to persuade them with logical argumentation. The best way to do this begins by employing the Socratic Method of discourse with decompression seeding as the “active ingredient”. The counter apologetic aspect of the Socratic discourse is a diversion to discourage discovery of the decompression seeding that is occurring. If such discourse works, that is an added bonus. If it does not, it does not affect the outcome.

Therefore, we define decompression seeding as communicating and firmly planting in memory a narrative or accounting of fact that is probably false, a (preferably) trivial, logical conclusion of a given core belief, and simultaneously inconsistent with all or some other pre-existing conclusions of that same core belief which are also probably false.

The purpose of doing this is to cause the core belief to self expose as internally inconsistent to the person harboring the core belief. It is using the authority of the core belief itself to challenge the core belief. If the core belief is false this will always be possible given an appropriately chosen set of conclusions derived of that core belief. In practice the deconverter will be doing this by playing religions off of each other: If an adherent is already predisposed to disbelieve narratives of other religions (a pre-existing conclusion) then we “seed” another conclusion that logically derives directly from the core belief and is inconsistent with the pre-existing conclusion (which is that the same logic used to disbelieve other religions should likewise be applied by that core belief to disbelieve the religion the adherent believes in). I have seen the skilled application of this method and it is ruthlessly effective. This method will be described throughout this text. Even when adherents claim to hold “universal” religious beliefs we can still use this method; as there is always a contradiction within waiting to be exploited.

There are two basic types of “seeded” conclusions. The first is one that is something that can be concluded directly by the core belief in a god or gods. The second type is one that the adherent has already concluded and found to be consistent with their core belief in a god or gods. It might be derived by processes and beliefs independent of the belief in a god or gods and is therefore unique to each adherent. However, the common denominator in all of them is that they are false, compelling and capable of being used to reach a conclusion that conflicts with the adherent’s core belief in a god or gods. One can create a “library” of such seeds and conspiracy theories tend to be common types or classes of this second kind of seed. We can call the first type an ideal seed and the second type an approximated seed.

So, we begin the process of creating this internal inconsistency by utilizing these symptoms of a core belief in a god or gods. What these symptoms constitute are deficits in reasoning, to be blunt. While we cannot change one’s intrinsic abilities or skills, we can certainly give them means and methods for compensating for a weakness. The deconverter should find a simple, repeatable mnemonic that can teach and instruct the adherent in the folly of each of these symptoms. These mnemonics will serve to remind the adherent of the lesson taught for each symptom. And, it of course implies the need for a syllabus. This approach is the silver bullet of deconversion; and I can attest to that because I’ve seen it in action.

The challenge, of course, is how does one create a course syllabus and follow it in
an informal conversation with an adherent all without them realizing they are being schooled? The answer is repetition of Socratic Method questions specifically designed to make the point of the folly of each of the 6 fallacies. Indeed, at any opportunity questions of this nature can be posed, in any variety of media. The key quality of each question is that it is one, simple example of one of the fallacies that can be asked over and over in the context of the dconversion discussion we are about to outline. Through repetition of this question, being posed over and over, the nature of each fallacy becomes clearer to the adherent as the discussion progresses. Over time, perhaps even weeks or months, the adherent begins to habitually view the world in the light of the awareness of these fallacies. The result is that the core belief in a god begins to crumble. The deconverter has not raised their IQ, or given them some special Education, the deconverter has habituated them, a la Pavlov. Now, finally, the prospective deconverter begins to fully understand the program we’re outlining: the entire question and answer session, and the issues discussed throughout the deconversion sessions, are red herrings to distract the adherent away from the habituation process that is actually doing the deconversion. This process of habituation my family has been calling “decompression seeding” for many decades. The adherent only sees that we are having a series of discussions in which they are trying to convert the deconverter and the deconverter is asking several interesting questions, reading religious texts and basically educating themselves in the religion of the adherent. There is no reason for the deconverter to announce their role. It appears totally benign to the adherent. But the effect is staggering. There are no precise numbers available but it is clear that in my family this method has been effective in about 90 percent of all deconversion attempts; and this against very commited Shia Muslims.

Therefore, the syllabus we seek will be one in which we have preferably just one very good, very clear, very simple example of each of the 6 fallacies which, by their nature, are amenable to injection into the deconversion conversation. Therefore, we will develop that syllabus as we proceed through that discussion. The 6 types of decompression seeding are:

  1. Induction Fail – confirmation bias, seeing a pattern and generalizing it incorrectly.
  2. Agenticity – seeing purpose in everything
  3. Informational Influence – everyone else is saying the wrong thing; so I’ll believe it, too
  4. Insufficient Justification – exercises to be aware of your conscience
  5. Need for Closure – substitute “I don’t know” for closure
  6. The Power of Suggestion –  Misinformation Effect, converting adjectives and adverbs to weaker forms

In this section on counter apologetics we have placed a total of 24 subsections in which decompression seeding can be employed. In each of those cases, exactly one example should be provided. This results in each of the 6 seeds being repeated a total of 3 times each. In each example a memnomic or set of memnomics is provided so that these 6 seeds can thence be continually repeated indefinitely after the deconversion sessions. Though each example is told 3 times, the examples should be the same in all three repetitions.

How to be a Master Con Artist

What we shall see in this work is that deconversion deals with two sides of a counterfeit coin. On one side are the con jobs of religion and its leaders. On the other side is deconversion which necessarily depends on some of the same techniques used by con artists. So, there is some overlap, but the deconverter is not engaging in a con or a fraud. It is only that the methods required involve fighting fire with fire. And we shall see in another section a fascinating interplay in which the phenomenon discussed infra serves a dual purpose in the psychology of the adherent, these phenomenae being symptomatic of those most vulnerable to erroneous core beliefs. We elaborate the condition in that section.

So how do these con artists do their art and magic? What is their secret? There are 6 primary secrets of the Master Con Artist. For reasons that will become clear, each of these descriptions should be read in full to the adherent before beginning the process.

In order for the Socratic line of questioning we are about to describe to be effective, and introduction and three prelimary questions will need to be asked first to prime the adherent. Recalling our discussion infra, the key to deconversion is understanding that you are dealing with core beliefs which are not amenable to alteration. Thus, the only effective way to cause someone to abandon a core belief is to undermine that belief using their own core belief system as the authorirty to do so; in a fatal loop of internal inconsistency the adherent is forced to come to terms with the fact that their own core belief system is obviously flawed. This must be made clear to them. Therefore, the first thing the deconverter must do is prep the adherent to receive and accept as legitimate the format of the Socratic questions we intend to use. And we do that outside a religious context so that they can more clearly see that the question format is perfectly reasonable and is not, in fact, a ridiculous question but rather a question in which one of the options given is ridiculous.

Delivering the Introduction

The ideal tact, if you are skilled enough, is to present yourself as someone who is seeking and just wants to ask questions. Its an invitation for the adherent to convert you. You might say it like this:

This is the adherent’s golden opportunity to proselytize; to convert me.

Regardless of the partiuclar approach, you should tell the adherent that in order to do this effectively you need to ask the adherent for their imprimatur on a rule by which you can do this without bogging it down so that you can never get your questions asked. So, the deconverter might say, “So, here it is. I’ll ask a question as a hypothetical. It may be that there are more assumptions to the hypothetical that one could add, but I’ll ask for the sake of discussion that we allow only the assumptions of the hypothetical I offer. This way, I can at least get through a few questions. If someone thinks the assumptions are insufficient just state that with your answer and we’ll accept that as your answer informed by the assumptions of the question.”

And they continue, “so, here’s my question. I’ll ask it and see if I can get a useful answer, recalling that I am a lifelong atheist who has never believed and who is sincerely trying to sort out all the gods out there and figure out which one to follow”:

How do I know that your god is The One, True God?

And you should continue, “but before I do this, I’d like to ask some other questions first.”

To do this we first start with the opening question (Question Number One). It has two parts, A and B:

Question Number One:

Part A:

I’d first like to ask a question about Santa Claus. This is in now way facetious or disparaging and I’m not using it as a debate tactic or a way to trap you. I am not going to make any direct comparisons between Santa Claus and god. The full purpose of this question will be evident later. So, let me just ask you,

Is it more likely that children believe in Santa Claus because it is reinforced by their parents and society or because Santa really flies in a sled with reindeer and drops packages down chimneys?

Which could be recast as:

Is it more likely that children believe in Santa Claus because of a psychological phenom or that people believe this because the Santa of this story is The One, True Santa Claus (and therefore can do magical things like this by virtue of being the true Santa)?

The psychological phenom is that children are known to be susceptible to stories like this and society tells them this. The answer is obvious

Part B:

Suppose I live in a society in which a common story told is that when little children make straight “A”s in school a magical professor flies around the globe in a chariot going to each house where such a child resides and tosses candy down the chimney for that child as a reward for having done so well in school. Now, suppose I show you a study that clearly, and with a sound methodology and considerable replication of results, shows that children will tend to believe stories like this if they are sufficiently young and their parents and their community reinforce the tale. They call this phenom the “A” effect.

The question is:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneysHow  Is

How is the first question any different than the second, practically speaking? In other words, is the first question different than the second in any material way?

So, the deconverter must make it clear that while the second alternative is clearly ridiculous, it is still a perfectly valid and reasonable question that any educated, thinking person should be able to easily answer. Finally, the deconverter will get the buy-in of the adherent to accept this question format as legitimate generally. Explicitly, the deconverter should get the adherent’s admission that there is nothing about the question that is ambiguous, it is not a trick nor is the question malformed.

Some, particularly academics, will challenge these kinds of questions invaldily by claiming that the question is malformed or something of that nature. The deconverter must apply the Conjunction Rule in these cases very carefully and effectively. Here is how:
One of the things that’s interesting about deconverting someone of the general public as opposed to deconverting an academic (in my experience I’m guessing academics have constituted maybe 5% of the deconverted – its rare) is that the issues that come up are very different.

We’ve already explained the Conjunction Fallacy. But the other fallacy I initially didn’t want to tangent on is the Genetic Fallacy. Basically, on their face, these two fallacies seem to be arguing against each other. They are not. The Genetic Fallacy basically says that if you remove details from an assessment you can do it in such a way as to merely channel yourself to a pre-conceived conclusion; by limiting details your desired inference does not augment but rather diminishes. So, taking Sarah’s position as devil’s advocate, I could say it this way: by choosing to ignore the various different interpretations, context and facts regarding the narrative you are artifically making your conclusion seem more likely.

In the presenting case this is false. I’m not trying to trick anyone or play psychology. Here’s why.

The Conjunction Fallacy and Genetic Fallacy are not mutually exclusive. What the Conjunction Fallacy is saying, though it isn’t clear in the equation used to define the Conjunction Rule, is that the Conjunction Rule only applies if the information added is:

less likely to be true than the initial proposition itself was OR, its likelihood cannot be assessed with confidence.

Let the proposition of the turth of a supernatural embellishment be regarded an uncertainty. Then, in the common vernauclar this is just saying

You cannot make an uncertainty more certain by adding an uncertain detail. If you do, you are committing the Conjunction Fallacy.

On the other hand,

You cannot make an uncertainty less certain by denying a detail that is certain. If you do, you are committing the Genetic Fallacy.

Academics in the Humanities screw this up a lot. While seemingly quite careful not to violate the Genetic Fallacy (they love to add details ad nausea to any discussion), they all too often do commit the Conjunction Fallacy because they simply have not thought through exactly how to apply these two fallacy warnings correctly. And who would? Its kinda slippery. It’s why I didn’t want to do this tangent. When talking to an academic you usually have to spend hours before starting just to clear the air on this.

So, if one talks of “historical context”, “metaphor” or other “literary tools” they are talking about things less certain than, in our case, the proposition that Agenticity exists in human populations. And that is the key, if Sarah or anyone in her role can come up with a detail that is more certain than the proposition that Agenticity exists in human populations, then they have an argument. Otherwise, its fallacious and constitutes a mere embellishment.

An easier way to explain this is to think of it in terms of how you would actually perform this step. What we need to do is to see if the proposition, for example, that the author intended his or her statements metaphorically is more likely than the existence of Agenticity in the population in question.

The first thing we notice about this is that we really don’t even have a way to assess the odds that any given author meant to use metaphor. So the argument fails before we can even compare it. If we could assess the odds, if the odds that the author intended to use metaphor were lower than the proposition that Agenticity existed in that population, the argument would fail. Either way, the added detail is an embellishment and the argument fails. Which is what I sought to show.

Question Number Two:

This question provides us with a more neutral way of asking our key question, “How do I know that your god is The One, True God”? This alternative way of beginning the conversation can be useful for adherents whose attachment to their religious belief is built heavily on emotional investment. It goes something like this:

Suppose I’m in a parking lot and am suddenly surrounded by several people claiming to be The One, True Police Officer. But suppose each one is giving me orders none of which are compatible? Well, which one then is The One, True Police Officer?

What could I ask to figure out which one is The One, True Police Officer?

I mean, clearly, I want to obey legitimate authority, and if all of them are giving me contradictory orders, I really want to know who The One True Police Officer is. And if I only knew, I would take no issue whatsoever with obeying them, because I certainly would want to obey The One True Police Officer.

So, that’s what I would like to ask you:

How do I know that any one Police Officer is The One, True Police Officer?

It will take the adherent several attempts and perhaps several back and forth sessions before they come to accept the fact that this question really cannot be answered in the form presented. The deconverter’s job is to help them reach that conclusion on their own by questioning their answers (usually on the grounds that the response doesn’t really answer the question). Once the adherent acknowledges that there really is no way for me (the dconverter) to know which Police Officer is The One, True Polilce Officer, we can move to Question Number Three.

To do this we first start with the primary question, Question Number Three:

How do I know that your god is The One, True God?

It will take the adherent several attempts and perhaps several back and forth sessions before they come to accept the fact that this question really cannot be answered in the form presented. The deconverter’s job is to help them reach that conclusion on their own by questioning their answers (usually on the grounds that the response doesn’t really answer the question). Adherents will naturally try to evade this answer with vigor and the deconverter must be clever enough to keep them on topic and compel them to answer just that question. The deconverter cannot allow the conversation to stray. Once the adherent finally acknowledges that there really is know way you can know this, you move into the specific categories of questions as below.

  1. Induction Fail

Adherents will often seek out a concrete pattern to confirm a pre-existing, general belief. It is a form of failed induction. The capacity for inductive reasoning has been strongly associated with Spearman’s g factor, that is, IQ. Notice how this is being weaponized by religious leaders against those on the left of the bell curve? But failures of inductive reasoning can occur anytime there is a pattern in a set of specific examples in which multiple general solutions are possible. In these cases people will tend to adopt the pattern that induces their pre-existing beliefs. Since life is full of cases in which multiple general solutions exist to specific occurrences in life, this is readily exploited as well. The rate at which this occurs in a randomly selected group of people is around 73%; that is, 73% will tend to confirm a general solution that is incorrect or not verifiable by the pattern given.

The accomplished deconverter will learn how to recognize when an adherent is answering with what academics call Confirmation Bias and he or she will then respond in the following manner:

The deconverter should provide their own pattern of Confirmation Bias to explain the same presenting topic in order to demonstrate the fallibility of what the adherent is doing. It will be done in question format by simpy asking the adherent, well, what if we assumed predicate B instead of the one you assumed, A? Then I can reach the same conclusion, right? The deconverter will feign sincerity in the pattern they present, or at least not offer up the fact that this was an intentional thought provoking tool. But the point is to come up with a pattern that will reach a contradictory conclusion, or that reaches the same conclusion beginning with a different predicate, as the case may require.

How to Present the Case for Confirmation Bias

I think it is safe to say that we can’t really answer this without applying a complementary question? If that is the case, I’m going to try a slightly different form of this question.

Let me begin by describing the ancient Greek explanation of the Sun’s apparent movement; that the Sun God Helios is pulling it across the sky from his fiery chariot. Of course, we know it only looks that way and the Sun is not moving across the sky, the Earth is rotating, and the Creator would have to know this. This is a strong clue that the author of this story and the Creator of the Universe are not one and the same. We could say that the author was clever and creative, but nonetheless human.

Helios is the young Greek god of the sun. He is the son of Hyperion and Theia. By the Oceanid Perse he became the father of Aeetes, Circe, and Parsiphae. His other children are Phaethusa (“radiant”) and Lampetia (“shining”) and Phaeton.

Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot; pulled by four horses – Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon – through the sky, to descend at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death.

Homer describes Helios as giving light both to gods and men: he rises in the east from Oceanus, though not from the river, but from some lake or bog (limnê) formed by Oceanus, rises up into heaven, where he reaches the highest point at noon time, and then he descends, arriving in the evening in the darkness of the west, and in Oceanus. (Il. vii. 422, Od. iii. 1, &c., 335, iv. 400, x. 191, xi. 18, xii. 380.) Later poets have marvellously embellished this simple notion: they tell of a most magnificent palace of Helios in the east, containing a throne occupied by the god, and surrounded by personifications of the different divisions of time (Ov. Met. ii. 1, &c.); and while Homer speaks only of the gates of Helios in the west, later writers assign to him a second palace in the west, and describe his horses as feeding upon herbs growing in the islands of the blessed. (Nonn. Dionys. xii. 1, &c.; Athen. vii. 296; Stat. Theb. iii. 407.) The points at which Helios rises and descends into the ocean are of course different at the different seasons of the year; and the extreme points in the north and south, between which the rising and setting take place, are the tropai êelioio. (Od. xv. 403; Hes. Op. et Dies, 449, 525.) The manner in which Helios during the night passes front the western into the eastern ocean is not mentioned either by Homer or Hesiod, but later poets make him sail in a golden boat round one-half of the earth, and thus arrive in the east at the point from which he has to rise again. This golden boat is the work of Hephaestus. (Athen. xi. 469; Apollod. ii. 5. § 10; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1632.) Others represent him as making his nightly voyage while slumbering in a golden bed. (Athen. xi. 470.) The horses and chariot with which Helios makes his daily career are not mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey, but first occur in the Homeric hymn on Helios (9, 15; comp. in Merc. 69, in Cer. 88), and both are described minutely by later poets. (Ov. Met. ii. 106, &c.; Hygin. Fab. 183; Schol. ad Eurip. Pholen. 3 ; Pind. Ol. vii. 71.)

A similar story comes from a myth from Africa. It is a Kenyan creation story and can be found in a book called African Mythology. In it, the Sun and Moon were supposed to have the same light producing capacity but the Moon got mud on it when the Sun and Moon fought. Inaccurate and Earth bound descriptions are thus used and these are strong clues that a religion story was not authorized by the Universe’s architect. The key in these examples is to stress that these are only clues, not proof of anything.

So, imagine a person living in that time who fully and totally believed the Helios narrative. Suppose this person believed this because their parents and all the Greeks they knew also believed it. Of course, let us assume in any case that they had the freedom to explore, read and learn of other points of view; including those of other gods that existed at the time and the views of other cultures known to the Greeks at that time. So, in this example, our Greek person holds this view of the Helios narrative very solidly and strongly. It is ingrained from birth. This particular individual, in our example, harbors no doubt whatsoever about the truth of the Helios narrative.

And we can see why.

Even so, this person could easily educate themselves on alternative views. But they don’t because study after study done on this subject shows that when a person believes something they tend to seek out confirmation of that belief, not anything that argues against it. And this preference is apparently very strong. Academics call this Confirmation Bias which I’ll describe below. So, this confirmation bias says this person might never pursue any other source material, or listen to arguments or ideas that support an alternative narrative – such as a foreign or alternative religion’s narrative – because it is human nature to seek out confirmation of a belief rather than an alternative. But let us add another wrinkle to this story. Suppose the “adherent” who believed in the Helios narrative as above also established his or her own logic to back it up; reasoning that the sun does appear to move across the sky and the background story on Helios is accepted by everyone he knows and in fact is recorded in ancient texts as being true. Ergo, Helios dragging the sun across the sky does in fact explain what he or she observes, he or she reasons.

About Confirmation Bias

Adherents will often seek out a concrete pattern to confirm a pre-existing, general belief. It is a form of failed induction. But failures of inductive reasoning can occur anytime there is a pattern in a set of specific examples in which multiple general solutions are possible. In these cases people will tend to adopt the pattern that induces their pre-existing beliefs. Since life is full of cases in which multiple general solutions exist to specific occurrences in life, this is readily exploited as well. The rate at which this occurs in a randomly selected group of people is around 73%; that is, 73% will tend to confirm a general solution that is incorrect or not verifiable by the pattern given.

I’d like to ask you a hypothetical in the form of what is called a binary comparison. I will pose it not as a question of how likely one thing is, but, rather, which of two things is more likely than the other. So, I’m going to ask if it appears more likely that the Helios narrative emerged as a result of Confirmation Bias or just because Helios is The One, True God. If those were the only two options you had, which would be more likely? It will be clear in a minute why I’m asking it this way.

Relating this question back to Question Number One

Recalling Question 1:

Suppose I live in a society in which a common story told is that when little children make straight “A”s in school a magical professor flies around the globe in a chariot going to each house where such a child resides and tosses candy down the chimney for that child as a reward for having done so well in school. Now, suppose I show you a study that clearly, and with a sound methodology and considerable replication of results, shows that children will tend to believe stories like this if they are sufficiently young and their parents and their community reinforce the tale. They call this phenom the “A” effect.

The question is:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneys?

We can generate a general defense of our approach and use of the Conjunction Rule:

Let there be a set of causes Q where causes a, b, … n element of Q.

and S NOT an element of Q where

S == the probability that belief in the story is because the magical professor really does these things

Let R be all elements in Q AND’d

And we see that

P(R) > P(S)

holds generally by the magical professor example.

Q.E.D.

The only thing we are doing differently in my questions is in one case the magical professor is secular and in another he happens to be part of a religious tradition; that is, there is no material difference.

But, to be clear, I want to pose this question to the reader and see if anyone can agree:

Is it more likely that the children believe this story because of the A effect or because there is a magical professor that flies around in a chariot dropping candy down several million chimneys?

So, my question now, which we can call Question Number 4, is a variant of the third one:

Question Number Four

Is it more likely that belief in the Helios narrative is due to Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that Helios is The One, True God?

Inductive Substitution

Like the Helios narrative, we first notice that all modern knowledge in the Bible is absent. We find in fact that it is materially the same as any other religion, reflecting only the very limited knowledge of ancient men.

For example, in the narrative of the god YHWH called Joshua’s Victory YHWH holds the sun still, as if it were rotating around Earth, when he gives the Israelites extra daylight to continue their conquest (in the book of Joshua):

Now, performing the substitution with Joshua’s Victory

Quote:

So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And YHWH said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; there shall not a man of them stand before you.” So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And YHWH threw them into a panic before Israel, who slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-hor’on, and smote them as far as Aze’kah and Makke’dah. And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-hor’on, YHWH threw down great stones from heaven upon them as far as Aze’kah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the men of Israel killed with the sword. Then spoke Joshua to YHWH in the day when YHWH gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ai’jalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, (my note: but relative to Earth’s sky the Sun has always stood still, right?) until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. There has been no day like it before or since, when YHWH hearkened to the voice of a man; for YHWH fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Which demonstrates and Earth based perspective of the cosmos.

We don’t’ want the adherent to feel tricked, so to be sure our point is crystal clear, I’m going to split my next question into three parts; A, B and C. And I’ll ask as a preparatory question to ponder, given that we’ve shown the presence of these tools in narratives from every single religion, and have phrased our question generally,

What is it about Joshua’s Victory that should give it exempt status when it is the same in all material respects?

The key to understanding how to answer this fairly is to show within this narrative itself what does it contain to tell us that it should be exempt?

Recalling our previous discussion about fair questions versus truncated questions; two narratives are materially identical when they both exhibit characteristics of the tool examined, right? Any attempt to add more detail to that rather obvious conclusion is a Conjunction Fallacy, right? Did you provide additional detail when answering the preparatory question above? If so, remove it because you made the mistake of fallacy which 95% of all human beings tend to make with a rather passionate predictability and frequency. So, for the sake of this question we cannot rely on explanations of Joshua’s Victory from outside that narrative itself. We’re asking, on the merits of Joshua’s Victory alone, why is it exempt?

So, the standing question now is Question 10A:

10A: Based solely on the information given and given that the absence of a god is made clear in any other religion we choose to examine, should we be highly suspicious of the conclusion that this passage is induction exempt?

The moral of the story in the previous question then isn’t to show that one or the other exhibited an earth based perspective of the cosmos, but rather, that both exhibited an earth based perspective of the cosmos, showing this error to be a common denominator in the two and probably in most religions (we will find that this is true). But the reason why this makes the narratives all the more suspicious is that it means that god lied. The apologist by their nature will apologize for that lie by saying that it was due to metaphor, bad translation, etc. But the reality is that these are just embellishments being overlaid over the original narrative, which I do believe is a correct application of the Conjunction Fallacy. The reader can judge on their own.

Recalling a much earlier discussion about this, it is nonsensical to claim that the god that created this system would create a system he would later need to lie about. In other words, this oddity of the Earth based perspective was discussed earlier. Therefore, not only is it suspicious, it is hard to avoid the question begging an answer:

10B. Given the narrative shown above, is it more likely that Joshua’s Victory is exempt from this analysis or that it is not?

Part C is simple and probably could have been guessed.

Recalling that the Helios narrative was first examined for its relation to Confrimation Bias, the inductive substitution of Joshua’s Victory for the Helios Narrative carries that with it:

10C: Is it more likely that Joshua’s Narrative is the result of Confirmation Bias or is it more likely that your god is The One, True God?

  1. Agenticity

Human beings have a known strong tendency to engage in anthropomorphization.  Persons with brain damage and Autism tend to be devoid of this tendency or to have a weakened expression of it.  This demonstrates how ubiquitous this is in human beings. It is a strong biasing factor. When confronted with mysterious and dramatic events human beings tend to fill the void of uncertainty with human-like agents. The drama provides the motive and the agent solves the mystery. Intelligent deisgn and teleological agruments used by adherent apologists are a form of anthropomorphization. Independent of religious belief, studies show that people will tend to see a “purpose” in the design of perfectly natural (or even abstract) objects by default. The rates for this in young adults are about 33% for natural abiotic objects, 69% for biological organisms and 96% for human artifacts. But when these experiments are conducted with 5 year old children, children make very little distinction between these things. Their numbers are 73% natural objects, 78% biological organisms and 83% human artifact. What this demonstrates is a strong, innate human bias to perceive design in any object. Only upon being socialized and “educated” do human beings begin to refrain, to some degree, from this tendency. In other words, the entire teleological argument is in reality just an innate, visceral reaction to reality that is not real. Intelligent Design is literally childish.

The deconverter should prepare for the deconversion session beforehand by developing several examples of anthropomorphization in which the appearance of purpose is very compelling. These examples should be examples that confirm or appear to strongly validate principles or “truths” of religions other than the religion of the adherent being deconverted. This can be done by carefully choosing a “truth” or fact that, while consistent with some other religion, directly contradicts the tenets of the religion of the adherent being deconverted. And since this conclusion was reached by seeing a compelling purpose or agency behind the event observed, it serves to undermine the adherent’s confidence in their own perceptions of purpose or “agenticity”, as it is called by academics. Some examples have been provided in the Appendix.

The practiced deconverter will use the Socratic Method described infra to pose these observations as questions in which it is asked, “If there is disagreement in the purpose seen in different examples, how do I know which god’s purpose is genuine in all these examples”? The technique developed infra is one in which the adherent is being asked to convince the deconverter that their god is the one, true god of all the gods worshipped by human beings.

How to Present the Case for Agenticity

So, here’s what I’m going to try to do to answer the main question, Question Number 1, “How do I know that your god is The One, True God?” I’m going to continue to ask similar questions until I can narrow down the answer and coming from an adherent I can be pretty sure that my conclusion should work; that is, that I can make this crucial identification. So, I’ll move to Question 3.

Question Number 5

In the flood story of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 1800 BCE) the “gods” are just getting annoyed with humans because they reproduce too much and they are making too much noise for the gods to sleep. A meeting is held between all these gods to decide what to do about this and it is agreed that a flood will be created to wipe most of them out. In this meeting there is one who disagrees because he has a soft spot for humans in turn because he likes the sacrifices humans offer to the gods. Though he is out voted, he discreetly comes down to Earth and discloses the flood plan to a select small group of people and tells them to “build an ark”. Utnapishtim is the human leader he warns, and he instructs him in the construction of the ark and that he is to take a pair of all animals with him. Then the flood begins.

As the body count begins to mount, the gods begin to have second thoughts about the flood. “Why did we decide to destroy our people”, they asked and they all cried and trembled. So they called a halt to the flood. The clouds parted and Utnapishtim sends out various birds to test for dry ground. All the gods agree that should never do this again and a rainbow appears. This is clearly the same story as the one associated with the god YHWH. Here the gods are not all good or all powerful, so nothing is out of character in doing these things. This is clearly a religion borrowing situation. In other words, the clear distinction in these stories between all knowing and all powerful gods clearly demonstrates plagiarism.

Now, we can frame this one of two ways. This religion was polytheistic. But the point in asking these questions is to identify the One, True God, even if it means that the answer is polytheistic: it doesn’t much matter for my purposes whether we identify one or many gods as long as we can make a meaningiful identification. I’ll accept either one. But I’ll refer to one of the gods – Utnapishtim – in this story as a candidate for that role understanding that we could consider it either all of the gods or just Utnapishtim.

So, Utnapishtim can be meant to be a god or even a human being, as long as it is understood as a stand-in for the One, True God. So, I will test my question by asking, could Utnapishtim be the One, True God? This god is associated with a “flood narrative” which, though it is long, I believe any Judeo-Christian adherent will nonetheless find not a little fantastically interesting. Here is the relevant excerpt.

Please read it all the way through:

Gilgamesh said to him, to Utnapishtim, the distant:”I gazeupon thee (in amazement), O Utnapishtim!

Thy appearance has not changed, like unto me thou art also.

And thy nature itself has not changed, like unto me thou art also,

though thou hast departed this life. But my heart has still to struggle

against all that no longer (?) lies upon thee.

Tell me, How didst thou come to dwell (here?) and obtain eternal life among the gods?”

[From the shore Utnapishtim, the favourite of the gods, now relates the story of the deluge to the hero, who, sitting in his ship, is listening to him.]

Utnapishtim then said unto Gilgamesh:

“I will reveal unto thee, O Gilgamesh, the mysterious story, and the mystery of the gods I will tell thee.

The city of Shurippak, a city which, as thou knowest,is situated on the bank of the river Euphrates.

That city was corrupt, so that the gods within it decided to bring about a deluge, even the great gods, as many as?] there were: their father, Anu; their counsellor, the warrior Bel; their leader, Ninib; their champion, the god En-nu-gi. But Ea, the lord of unfathomable wisdom, argued with them. Their plan he told to a reed-hut, (saying):

‘Reed-hut, reed-hut, clay-structure, clay-structure!

Reed-hut, hear; clay-structure, pay attention!

Thou man of Shurippak, son of Ubara-Tutu,

Build a house, construct a ship;

Forsake thy possessions, take heed for thy life!

Abandon thy goods, save (thy) life,

and bring living seed of every kind into the ship.

As for the ship, which thou shalt build,

let its proportions be well measured:

Its breadth and its length shall bear proportion each to each,

and into the sea then launch it.’

I took heed, and said to Ea, my lord:

‘I will do, my lord, as thou hast commanded;

I will observe and will fulfil the command.

But what shall I answer to (the inquiries of) the city,

the people, and the elders?’

Ea opened his mouth and spoke,

and he said unto me, his servant:

‘Man, as an answer say thus unto them:

“I know that Bel hates me. No longer can I live in your city;

Nor on Bel’s territory can I live securely any longer; I will go down to the ‘deep,’ I will live with Ea, my lord.

Upon you he will (for a time?) pour down rich blessing.

He will grant you] fowl [in plenty] and fish in abundance,

Herds of cattle and an abundant] harvest.

Shamash has appointed a time when the rulers of darkness

at eventide will pour down upon you] a destructive rain.”‘

The lower part of Col. I is unfortunately much mutilated. Line 48 seems to read:

As soon as early dawn appeared.

Then continues line 55:

The brightness [of day?] I feared;

All that was necessary I collected together.

On the fifth day I drew its design;

In its middle part its sides were ten gar high;

Ten gar also was the extent of its deck;

I added a front-roof to it and closed it in.

I built it in six stories,

thus making seven floors in all;

The interior of each I divided again into nine partitions.

Beaks for water within I cut out.

I selected a pole and added all that was necessary.

Three (variant, five) shar of pitch I smeared on its outside;

three shar of asphalt I used for the inside (so as to make

it water-tight).

Three shar of oil the men carried, carrying it in vessels.

One shar of oil I kept out and used it for sacrifices,

while the other two shar the boatman stowed away.

For the temple of the gods (?) I slaughtered oxen;

I killed lambs (?) day by day.

Jugs of cider (?), of oil, and of sweet wine,

Large bowls (filled therewith?), like river water (i. e., freely)

I poured out as libations.

I made a feast (to the gods) like that of the New-Year’s Day.

To god Shamash my hands brought oil.

[* * *] the ship was completed.

[* * *] heavy was the work, and

I added tackling above and below, [and after all was finished] ,

The ship sank into water] two thirds of its height.

With all that I possessed I filled it;

with all the silver I had I filled it;

with all the gold I had I filled it;

with living creatures of every kind I filled it.

Then I embarked also all my family and my relatives,

cattle of the field, beasts of the field, and the uprighteous people—all them I embarked.

A time had Shamash appointed, (namely):

‘When the rulers of darkness send at eventide a destructive rain,

then enter into the ship and shut its door.’

This very sign came to pass, and

The rulers of darkness sent a destructive rain at eventide.

I saw the approach of the storm,

and I was afraid to witness the storm;

I entered the ship and shut the door.

I intrusted the guidance of the ship to Purur-bel, the boatman,

the great house, and the contents thereof.

As soon as early dawn appeared,

there rose up from the horizon a black cloud,

within which the weather god (Adad) thundered,

and Nabu and the king of the gods (Marduk) went before.

The destroyers passed across mountain and dale (literally, country).

Dibbara, the great, tore loose the anchor-cable (?).

There went Ninib and he caused the banks to overflow;

the Anunnaki lifted on high (their) torches,

and with the brightness thereof they illuminated the universe.

The storm brought on by Adad swept even up to the heavens

and all light was turned into darkness.

[ ] overflooded the land like * * *

It blew with violence and in one day (?) it rose above the mountains (??).

Like an onslaught in battle it rushed in on the people.

Not could brother look after brother.

Not were recognised the people from heaven.

The gods even were afraid of the storm;

they retreated and took refuge in the heaven of Anu.

There the gods crouched down like dogs, on the inclosure of heaven they sat cowering.

Then Ishtar cried out like a woman in travail

and the lady of the gods lamented with a loud voice, (saying):

‘The world of old has been turned back into clay,

because I assented to this evil in the assembly of the gods.

Alas! that when I assented to this evil in the council of the gods,

I was for the destruction of my own people.

What I have created, where is it?

Like the spawn of fish it fills the sea.’

The gods wailed with her over the Anunnaki.

The gods were bowed down, and sat there weeping.

Their lips were pressed together (in fear and in terror).

Six days and nights

The wind blew, and storm and tempest overwhelmed the country.

When the seventh day drew nigh the tempest, the storm, the battle

which they had waged like a great host began to moderate.

The sea quieted down; hurricane and storm ceased.

I looked out upon the sea and raised loud my voice,

But all mankind had turned back into clay.

Like the surrounding field had become the bed of the rivers.

I opened the air-hole and light fell upon my cheek.

Dumfounded I sank backward, and sat weeping, while over my cheek flowed the tears.

I looked in every direction, and behold, all was sea.

Now, after twelve (days?) there rose (out of the water) a strip of land.

To Mount Nisir the ship drifted.

On Mount Nisir the boat stuck fast and it did not slip away.

The first day, the second day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, and did not let it slip away.

The third day, the fourth day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, and did not let it slip away.

The fifth day, the sixth day, Mount Nisir held the ship,fast, and did not let it slip away.

When the seventh day drew nigh

I sent out a dove, and let her go.

The dove flew hither and thither,

but as there was no resting-place for her, she returned.

Then I sent out a swallow, and let her go.

The swallow flew hither and thither,

but as there was no resting-place for her she also returned.

Then I sent out a raven, and let her go.

The raven flew away and saw the abatement of the waters.

She settled down to feed, went away, and returned no more.

Then I let everything go out unto the four winds, and I offered a sacrifice.

I poured out a libation upon the peak of the mountain.

I placed the censers seven and seven,

and poured into them calamus, cedar-wood, and sweet incense.

The gods smelt the savour;

yea, the gods smelt the sweet savour;

the gods gathered like flies around the sacrificer.

But when now the lady of the gods (Ishtar) drew nigh,

she lifted up the precious ornaments (?)which Anu had made according to her wish (and said):

‘Ye gods here! by my necklace, not will I forget.

These days will I remember, never will I forget (them).

Let the gods come to the offering;

But Bel shall not come to the offering,

Since rashly he caused the flood-storm,

and handed over my people unto destruction.’

Now, when Bel drew nigh,

and saw the ship, the god was wroth,

and anger against the gods, the Igigi, filled his heart, (and he said):

‘Who then has escaped here (with his life)?

No man was to survive the universal destruction.’

Then Ninib opened his mouth and spoke,

saying unto Bel, the warrior:

‘Who but Ea could have planned this!

For does not Ea know all arts?’

Then Ea opened his mouth and spoke,

saying unto Bel, the warrior:

‘Ay, thou wise one among the gods, thou warrior,

how rash of thee to bring about a flood-storm!

On the sinner visit his sin,and on the wicked his wickedness;

but be merciful, forbear, let not all be destroyed!

Be considerate, let not everything be [confounded]!

Instead of sending a flood-storm,

let lions come and diminish mankind;

Instead of sending a flood-storm,

let tigers come and diminish mankind;

Instead of sending a flood-storm,

let famine come and smite the land;

Instead of sending a flood-storm,

let pestilence come and kill off the people.

I did not reveal the mystery of the great gods.

(Some one?) caused Atrachasis to see (it) in a dream, and so he (Utnapishtim) heard the mystery of the gods.”

Thereupon Bel arrived at a decision.

Bel went up into the ship, took me by the hand and led me out.

He led out also my wife and made her kneel beside me;

He turned us face to face, and standing between us, blessed us, (saying)

‘Ere this Utnapishtim was only human;

But now Utnapishtim and his wife shall be lofty like unto the gods;

Let
Utnapishtim live far away (from men) at the mouth of the (two?) rivers.’

Then they took me and let us dwell far away at the mouth of the rivers.”

After Utnapishtim had finished this account, he turned to Gilgamesh and said:

“Now as for thee, which one of the gods shall give thee strength,

that the life thou desirest thou shalt obtain?

Now sleep!” And for six days and seven nights

Gilgamesh resembled one lying lame.

Sleep came over him like a storm wind.

Then Utnapishtim said to his wife:

“Behold, here is the hero whose desire is life (= recovery)!

Sleep came upon him like a storm wind.”

And the wife replied to Utnapishtim, the distant:

“Transform him; let the man eat of the charm-root.

Let him, restored in health, return on the road on which he came.

Let him pass out through the great door unto his own country.”

And Utnapishtim said to his wife:

“The suffering (and torture) of the man pain thee.

Well, then, cook now for him the food and place it at his head.”

And while Gilgamesh slept on board of his ship,

she cooked the food to place it at his head.

And while he slept on board of his ship,

firstly, his food was prepared (?);

secondly, it was peeled;

thirdly, it was moistened;

fourthly, his food (?) was cleaned;

fifthly, shiba (i. e., old age) was added;

sixthly, it was cooked;

seventhly, of a sudden the man was transformed, having eaten of the magic food.

Then spoke Gilgamesh, and said unto Utnapishtim, the distant:

“I had sunk down, and sleep had befallen me.

Of a sudden thou didst charm me, and thus help me” (?).

And Utnapishtim said unto Gilgamesh:

“* * * Gilgamesh partake of (?) thy food.

* * * shall be told unto thee:

firstly, thy food was prepared (?);

secondly, it was peeled;

thirdly, it was moistened;

fourthly, thy food (?) was cleaned;

fifthly, shipa was added;

sixthly, it was cooked;

seventhly, I transformed thee suddenly,

and thou didst eat of the magic food.”

And Gilgamesh said unto Utnapishtim, the distant:

“What?] shall I do, Utnapishtim? whither shall I go?

The demon (of the dead?) has seized my [friend?].

Upon my couch death now sits.

And where my * * * there is death.”

And Utnapishtim said to Urshabani, the ferryman:

“Urshabani, thou * * * at thy side (?), let the boat carry thee;

whosoever attempts to board [the ship?] exclude him from it.

The man, before whom thou goest,

has his body covered with sores,

and the eruption of his skin has altered the beauty of his body.

Take him, Urshabani, and bring him to the place of purification,

where he can wash his sores in water that they may become white as snow;

Let him cast off his (sore?) skin and the sea will carry it away;

His body shall then appear well (and healthy);

Let the turban also be replaced on his head,

and the garment that covers his nakedness.

Until he returns to his city,

until he arrives at his road.

The garment shall not shed [hair?], it shall remain entirely new.”

And Urshabani took him and brought him to the place of purification,

where he washed his sores in water so that they became white as snow;

he cast off his (sore?) skin and the sea carried it away;

his body appeared well (and healthy) again;

He replaced also the turban on his head;

and the garment that covered his nakedness;

until he should return to his city;

until he should arrive at his road;

[the garment did not shed hair], it remained entirely new.

Then Gilgamesh and Urshabani embarked again,

and during their journey the ship tossed to and fro.

[After Gilgamesh and Urshabani had returned from the place of purification:]

The wife of Utnapishtim spoke unto her husband, the distant, (saying):

“Gilgamesh did go away, laboured, and has pulled (the oar?).

What now wilt thou do (or give), that he may return to his country?”

And Gilgamesh lifted up the pole, and drew the boat nearer to the shore.

Then Utnapishtim spoke unto Gilgamesh (and said):

“Gilgamesh, thou didst go away, didst labour and pull (the oar?).

What now shall I give thee, that thou mayest return to thy country?

I will reveal unto thee, Gilgamesh, a mystery,

and [the decision of the gods] I will announce unto thee.

There is a plant resembling buckthorn, its thorn (?) stings like that of a bramble.

When thy hands can reach that plant * * *

[The following lines 286-293 are greatly mutilated]

When Gilgamesh had heard this he opened the * * *

bound heavy stones [to his feet],

which dragged him down to the sea [and thus he found the plant].

Then he grasped the (magic) plant.

He removed [from his feet] the heavy stones [and one fell down?],

and a second he threw down to the [first?].

And Gilgamesh said unto Urshabani, the ferryman:

“Urshabani, this plant is a plant of great renown (or transformation?);

and what man desires in his heart, he obtains.

I will take it to Uruk the strong-walled, I will nurse (plant?) it there and then cut it off.

Its name is (?): ‘Even an old man will be rejuvenated!’

I will eat of this and return (again) to the vigour of my youth.”

[And now they start out to return home to Uruk the strong-walled.]

Every twenty double-leagues they then took a meal:

and every thirty double-leagues they took a rest.

And Gilgamesh saw a well wherein was cool (and refreshing) water;

He stepped into it and poured out some water.

A (demon in the shape of a) serpent darted out; the plant slipped [away from his hands];

he came [out of the well?], and took the plant away,

and as he turned back, he uttered a curse (?).

And after this Gilgamesh sat down and wept.

Tears flowed down his cheeks,

and he said unto Urshabani, the ferryman:

“Why, Urshabani, did my hands tremble?

Why did the blood of my heart stand still?

Not on myself did I bestow any benefit.

tOn the ground-lion (?) this benefit has been bestowed.

After a journey of only twenty double-leagues the plant has been snatched away,

As I opened the well, and lowered the vessel (?).

I see the sign, that has become an omen to me. I am to return,

leaving the ship on the shore.”

Then they continued to take a meal every twenty double-leagues,

and every thirty double-leagues they took a rest,

until they arrived at Uruk the strong-walled.

Gilgamesh then spoke to Urshabani, the ferryman, (and said):

“Urshabani, ascend and walk about on the wall of Uruk,

Inspect the corner-stone, and examine its brick-work,

whether its wall is not made of burned brick, and its foundation (overlaid with?) pitch.

‘Sevenfold is thy name’ (?).

[The closing lines can not be correctly translated.]

About Agenticity

Human beings have a known strong tendency to engage in anthropomorphization. Persons with brain damage and Autism tend to be devoid of this tendency or to have aweakened expression of it. This demonstrates how ubiquitous this is in human beings. It is a strong biasing factor. When confronted with mysterious and dramatic events human beings tend to fill the void of uncertainty with human-like agents. The drama provides the motive and the agent solves the mystery. Intelligent deisgn and teleological agruments used by adherent apologists are a form of anthropomorphization. Independent of religious belief, studies show that people will tend to see a “purpose” in the design of perfectly natural (or even abstract) objects by default. The rates for this in young adults are about 33% for natural abiotic objects, 69% for biological organisms and 96% for human artifacts. But when these experiments are conducted with 5 year old children, children make very little distinction between these things. Their numbers are 73% natural objects, 78% biological organisms and 83% human artifact. What this demonstrates is a strong, innate human bias to perceive design in any object. Only upon being socialized and “educated” do human beings begin to refrain, to some degree, from this tendency.

Seeing purpose – or Agenticity – in a horrific, massive geological event such as a global flood is a virtual certainty given what the studies now show. One doesn’t even need a god for it, the event will create one if its not there already.

Is it more likely that belief in the Utnapishtim narrative is the result of Agenticity or that Utnapishtim is The One, True God?

Inductive Substitution

Just as we did for the Helios narrative, we can substitute in a narrative regarding the god YHWH again in this flood epic.

Performing the substitution of the YHWH narrative

First, we’ll have a look at YHWH’s attitude toward humanity at the Creation, then we’ll see his attitude during the flood narrative.

1First Story of Creation. Gnsis001[In the beginning YHWH filled out the Lands of the Earth and her skies.L.T.E.D.R.S.C.H.A.E.Y], and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of YHWH was moving over the face of the waters. 3And YHWH said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And YHWH saw that the light was good; and YHWH separated the light from the darkness. 5YHWH called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 6And YHWH said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7And YHWH made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8And YHWH called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9And YHWH said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10YHWH called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And YHWH saw that it was good. 11And YHWH said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. 14And YHWH said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16And YHWH made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17And YHWH set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And YHWH saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. 20And YHWH said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21So YHWH created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 22And YHWH blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. 24And YHWH said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25And YHWH made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 26Then YHWH said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So YHWH created man in his own image, in the image of YHWH he created him; male and female he created them. 28And YHWH blessed them, and YHWH said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29And YHWH said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31And YHWH saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

And by Genesis 6 God is unhappy with his creation or is at least surprised at the wickedness of humankind:

Origin of the Nephilim.

Gnsis006When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2the children of YHWH saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3Then YHWH said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of YHWH came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

Warning of the Flood.

5YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And YHWH was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So YHWH said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH. 9These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with YHWH. 10And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11Now the earth was corrupt in YHWH’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And YHWH saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13And YHWH said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Preparation for the Flood.

14Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22Noah did this; he did all that YHWH commanded him.

And he regrets making humankind. Genesis 6:5-7 elucidates this disappointment clearly as highlighted in bold above. God thus kills almost all animals on Earth because he is sorry that he made humankind. Then God regrets that decision; Genesis 8:21:

121And when YHWH smelled the pleasing odor, YHWH said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.

Another puzzling aspect of this all knowing quality is that God decides to kill off all animals in a manner that results in massive collateral damage. But rather God lacks the sophistication to kill only the “bad” animals. And of course, the logistical problems make this story clearly false.
However, this tale begins to make sense if we assume that this monotheistic version of the story was borrowed from a polytheistic religion that predated Christianity.

In those cases the polytheistic versions do not contain all these contradictions. These gods are not all-knowing and all-powerful, thereby resolving most of the anomalies in the flood story. Several polytheistic flood stories predating the Christian flood story by as much as 1000 years existed. In the flood story of Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 1800 BCE) the “gods” are just getting annoyed with humans because they reproduce too much and they are making too much noise for the gods to sleep. A meeting is held between all these gods to decide what to do about this and it is agreed that a flood will be created to wipe most of them out. In this meeting there is one who disagrees because he has a soft spot for humans in turn because he likes the sacrifices humans offer to the gods. Though he is out voted, he discreetly comes down to Earth and discloses the flood plan to a select small group of people and tells them to “build an ark”. Utnapishtim is the human leader he warns, and he instructs him in the construction of the ark and that he is to take a pair of all animals with him. Then the flood begins.
As the body count begins to mount, the gods begin to have second thoughts about the flood. “Why did we decide to destroy our people”, they asked and they all cried and trembled. So they called a halt to the flood. The clouds parted and Utnapishtim sends out various birds to test for dry ground. All the gods agree that should never do this again and a rainbow appears. This is clearly the same story. Here the gods are not all good or all powerful, so nothing is out of character in doing these things. This is clearly a religion borrowing situation. In other words, the clear distinction in these stories between all knowing and all powerful gods clearly demonstrates plagiarism.
And we see that, again, there is no material difference.
In other words, what is it about the YHWH narrative that makes it exempt but that does not allow the Utnapishtim narrative the same privilege?
So, the question is:
Is it more likely that Noah’s flood narrative is the result of Agenticity or is it more likely that your god is The One, True God?

  1. Informational Influence

How can 2 billion people be wrong? It sounds compelling at first. But research shows that when subjects are asked to make a trivial assessment of fact with no knowledge of anyone else’s assessment, their accuracy is about 98%. And when that same assessment is performed after the subject observes the incorrect conclusions of several other subjects the subject reaches the correct conclusion only about one-half the time. The takeaway from this for the deconverter is that human beings tend to be influenced rather strongly by the ancillary information fed to them.

This has been replicated many times over the years. With a sufficient number of trials, not less than 75% of the general population will conform with the erroneous perception of total strangers.

But what happens when the choice is nontrivial? Now increase the stakes. The accuracy plummets yet further.

The studies have been performed in many different ways.  Police line ups, for example, show the same pattern. There the error conformity rate is found to be around 51% when a subject is asked to identify someone in a line up when others in the same room choose the wrong person (they conform to their confederates and are wrong). So, 51% of the time a person will incorrectly identify a suspect solely because everyone else in the room did.

Therefore, false beliefs can be generated with statistical reliability by making an idea popular. And the more ambiguous the judgment the higher the rates of conformity to false beliefs. People do this very thing when acculturated to the religion of, say, a particular geographic region.

The presence of a single dissenting ally is enought to reduce conformity by 80%. Use this to introduce agents provocateurs in deconversion sessions.

The accomplished deconverter will learn how to make use of a team during live deconversion sessions; all of whom are also trained in deconversion and can be remain quiet and passive during the entire session except when needed for informational influence, which the deconverter will cue when needed. For video productions, the ideal scenario is to have the adherent watch the video amongst deconverters filling the same role. If not possible, the video should contain scenes that mimic these cues for informational influence. For reasons we will learn infra, one of these assistants will preferably represent an authority figure or emotionally close person for the adherent.

The deconverter should use team members by cueing them at any point during the process in which the the adherent offers a particularly strong objection to a given point in the conversation. At these points, the team members should assist only by asking Socratic questions in a low voice; thence exposing their opinion on the matter through further development of the question and answer exchange. Each team member in turn should do this until at least three deconverters total have expressed the counter apologetic opinion. The experienced deconverter will know how to round robin these questions without intimidating the adherent or making the adherent feel as if they are being outnumbered or verbally assaulted. Video productions will ideally entail acting out these scenes explicitly.

How to Present the Case for Informational Influence

We are not talking about proof or even a great argument, just which of two possibilities is more likely.

About Informational Influence

How can 2 billion people be wrong? It sounds compelling at first. But research shows that when subjects are asked to make a trivial assessment of fact with no knowledge of anyone else’s assessment, their accuracy is about 98%. And when that same assessment is performed after the subject observes the incorrect conclusions of several other subjects the subject reaches the correct conclusion only about one-half the time. Human beings tend to be influenced rather strongly by the ancillary information fed to them.

This has been replicated many times over the years. With a sufficient number of trials, not less than 75% of the general population’s views will conform to the erroneous perception of total strangers.

But what happens when the choice is nontrivial? Now increase the stakes. The accuracy plummets yet further.

The studies have been performed in many different ways. Police line ups, for example, show the same pattern. There the error conformity rate is found to be around 51% when a subject is asked to identify someone in a line up when others in the same room choose the wrong person (they conform to their confederates and are wrong). So, 51% of the time a person will incorrectly identify a suspect solely because everyone else in the room did.

Therefore, false beliefs can be generated with statistical reliability by making an idea popular. And the more ambiguous the judgment the higher the rates of conformity to false beliefs. People do this very thing when acculturated to the religion of, say, a particular geographic region, just as repeatedly occurred over and over in the myth of the immaculate conception of Semele.

Semele, mother of Dionysus

Semele, mother of Dionysus, was also believed to have had a 7 month pregnancy, just as the Virgin Mary of the narratives of YHWH.

In the life of Zoroaster, the law-giver of the Persians, the common mythos is apparent. He was born in innocence, of an immaculate conception, of a ray of the Divine Reason. As soon as he was born the glory from his body enlightened the whole room. Plato informs us that Zoroaster was said to be “the son of Oromasdes, which was the name the Persians gave to the Supreme God” –therefore he was the Son of God.

From the East we will turn to the West, and shall find that many of the ancient heroes of Grecian and Roman mythology were regarded as of divine origin, were represented as men, possessed of god-like form, strength and courage; were believed to have lived on earth in the remote, dim ages of the nation’s history; to have been occupied in their life-time with thrilling adventures and extraordinary services in the cause of human civilization, and to have been after death in some cases translated to a life among the gods, and entitled to sacrifice and worship. In the hospitable Pantheon of the Greeks and Romans, a niche was always in readiness for every new divinity who could produce respectable credentials.

The Christian Justin Martyr, wrote:

Quote:

It having reached the Devil’s ears that the prophets had foretold the coming of Christ (the Son of God), he set the Heathen Poets to bring forward a great many who should be called the sons of Jove. The Devil laying his scheme in this, to get men to imagine that the true history of Christ was of the same character as the prodigious fables related of the sons of Jove.

Among these “sons of Jove” may be mentioned the following: Hercules was the son of Jupiter by a mortal mother, Alcmene, Queen of Thebes. Zeus, the god of gods, spake of Hercules, his son, and said: “This day shall a child be born of the race of Perseus, who shall be the mightiest of the sons of men.”

Bacchus was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Semele, daughter of Kadmus, King of Thebes. As Montfaucon says, “It is the son of Jupiter and Semele which the poets celebrate, and which the monuments represent.”

Bacchus is made to say:

Quote:

I, son of Deus, am come to this land of the Thebans, Bacchus, whom formerly Semele the daughter of Kadmus brings forth, being delivered by the lightning-bearing flame: and having taken a mortal form instead of a god’s, I have arrived at the fountains of Dirce and the water of Ismenus.

Amphion was the son of Jupiter and a mortal mother, Antiope, daughter of Nicetus, King of Boeotia.

Prometheus, whose name is derived from a Greek word signifying foresight and providence, was a deity who united the divine and human nature in one person, and was confessedly both man and god.

In Fabulae 167 by Hyginus we see the earliest account of Semele’s impregnation, apparently and by definition, an immaculate conception:

[167] CLXVII. LIBER

Quote:

Liber, son of Jove and Proserpine, was dismembered by the Titans, and Jove gave his heart, torn to bits, to Semele in a drink. When she was made pregnant by this, Juno, changing herself to look like Semele’s nurse, Beroe, said to her: “Daughter, ask Jove to come to you as he comes to Juno, so you may know what pleasure it is to sleep with a god.” At her suggestion Semele made this request of Jove, and was smitten by a thunderbolt. He took Liber from her womb, and gave him to Nysus to be cared for. For this reason he is called Dionysus, and also “the one with two mothers.”

This myth was taken and spread curiously analogously to the spread of civilization in the ancient past. Of particular interest for us is how this belief spread in its inchoate incubators at the beginning of each transferal to a new culture. In other words, adherence to this narrative followed the “masses” who give rise to Informational Influence.

If we consider a typical adherent of this myth, and considering a typical adherent across the several and varied cultures over which this narrative survived and was believed, is it more likely that this was adherence to this belief was due to Informational Influence or because Zeus is the one, True god and yours is not?

So, as we proceed and I receive your answers I am able to formulate my questions better. Thank you for those answers. I will make one last and final amendment to my questions regarding Helios, Utnapishtim and Zeus here.

I will ignore for the moment the obvious similarity to the virgin birth of The Christ, as told in the Judeo-Christian narrative. For now, I am just curious about Informational Influence.

Is it more likely that belief in this narrative was due to Informational Influence or is it more likely that belief in this narrative was due to the fact that Zeus is the One, True God and yours is not?

Inductive Substitution

Just as we did for the Helios and Utnapishtim narratives, we can substitute in a narrative regarding the god YHWH again in this virgin birth story.

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus. 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from YHWH to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, YHWH is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with YHWH. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and Lord YHWH will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of YHWH. 36And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For with YHWH nothing will be impossible.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of YHWH; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

And

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Is it more likely that belief in the narrative of the Virgin Mary was due to Informational Influence or is it more likely that belief in this narrative was due to the fact that YHWH is the One, True God?

  1. Insufficient Justification

Controlled studies show that, though it may be surprising, belief is generated by simply expressing it as fact; provided it is done in a particular manner. This is why “witnessing” is so popular in most religions; it is a deliberate tool for brainwashing and that is why it is so strongly encouraged.

In many of the studies performed on this phenomenon, a boring, monotonous and trying experience is “sold” using an insufficient justification. This concept is tricky and not at first obvious. But numerous studies have shown it to be true. It is essentially a defensive mechanism used to protect one’s conscience from discomfort or shock when a person is forced or otherwise compelled to act against their conscience. When a person is compelled to lie but given little or no justification for doing so, we tend more strongly to just believe the lie – conveniently sidestepping the guilt of lying, and we tell what we now “believe” to be true. It makes no difference how blatant the falsity of the claim is. But when given much greater justification for lying we correctly tend not to believe the lie when compelled to tell it. This is likely because the conscience is not disturbed or shocked since the individual can justify the lie. This is an utterly fascinating trick used by the creators of religion to brainwash:

… It exploits the very thing that sociopaths and narcissists lack; a conscience.

It is one’s conscience that tends to cause them to do this. Whoever came up with this knew how to run a con job and understood the psychology of a mark. And this is a tell-tell feature of religion; this tendency to observe exploitation of a person’s conscience, sense of compassion and empathy in order to gain their submission and compliance; to make them docile and malleable. It is precisely what persons in positions of power would dream of as a weapon for controlling large populations. This motif will keep coming up throughout this work.

Because it involves compelling others to lie, it is often associated with authority figures since those are the people often vested in a need to gain consensus to a fiction. So the con artists of religion long ago promoted this idea of “bearing witness” and extolled it as an adherent’s sacred duty to perfrom as often as possible. All they were doing was compelling their adherent’s to tell lies with insufficient justification. Over time these lies solidify into hardened belief systems.

Krishna, the full avatar of Hari (AKA Vishnu)

How to Present the Case for Insufficient Justification

Hindu sacred books represent Crishna, their Saviour and Redeemer, as in constant strife against the evil spirit. He surmounts extraordinary dangers ; strews his way with miracles ; raising the dead, healing the sick, restoring the maimed, the deaf and the blind ; everywhere supporting the weak against the strong, the oppressed against the powerful. The people crowded his way and adored him as a GOD, and these miracles were the evidences of his divinity for centuries before the time of Jesus.

The learned Thomas Maurice, speaking of Crishna, tells us that he passed his innocent hours at the home of his foster-father, in rural diversions, his divine origin not being suspected, until repeated  miracles soon discovered his celestial origin; and Sir “William Jones speaks of his raising the dead, and saving multitudes by his miraculous powers. To enumerate the miracles of Crishna would be useless and tedious ; we shall therefore mention but a few, of  which the Hindu sacred books are teeming.

When Krishna was born, his life was sought by the reigning  monarch, Kansa, who had the infant Saviour and his father and  mother locked in a dungeon, guarded, and barred by seven iron  doors. While in this dungeon the father heard a secret voice distinctly utter these words : ” Son of Yadu, take up this child and

carry it to Gokool, to the house of Nanda.” Vasudeva, struck with astonishment, answered : ” How shall I obey this injunction, thus vigilantly guarded and barred by seven iron doors that prohibit all egress ?” The unknown voice replied : ” The doors shall open of themselves to let tliee pass, and behold, I have caused a deep slumber to fall upon thy guards, which shall continue till thy journey be accomplished.” Vasudeva immediately felt his chains miraculously loosened, and, taking up the child in his arms, hurried with it through all the doors, the guards being buried in profound sleep. When he came to the river Yumna, which he was obliged to cross to get to Gokool, the waters immediately rose up to kiss the child s feet, and then respectfully retired on each side to make way for its transportation, so that Vasudeva passed dry-shod to the opposite shore.

When Krishna came to a mans estate, one of his first miracles was the cure of a leper.

A passionate Brahman, having received a slight insult from a certain Rajah, on going out of his doors, uttered this curse : ” That he should, from head to foot, be covered with boils and leprosy ;” which being fulfilled in an instant upon the unfortunate king, he prayed to Crishna to deliver him from his evil. At first, Crishna did not heed his request, but finally he appeared to him, asking what his request was? He replied, “To be freed from my distemper.” The Saviour then cured him of his distemper.

Crishna was one day walking with his disciples, when “they met a poor cripple or lame woman, having a vessel filled with spices, sweet-scented oils, sandal- wood, saffron, civet and other perfumes. Crishna making a halt, she made a certain sign with her finger on his forehead, casting the rest upon his head. Crishna asking her what it was she would request of him, the woman replied,  nothing but the use of my limbs. Crishna, then, setting his foot upon hers, and taking her by the hand, raised her from the ground, and not only restored her limbs, but renewed her age, so that, instead of a  wrinkled, tawny skin, she received a fresh and fair one in an instant. At her request, Crishna and his company lodged in her

house.”

On another occasion, Crishna having requested a learned Brahman to ask of him whatever boon he most desired, the Brahman said, “Above all things, I desire to have my two dead sons restored to life.” Crishna assured him that this should be done, and immediately the two young men were restored to life and brought to their father.

The learned Orientalist, Thomas Maurice, after speaking of the miracles performed by Crishna, says :

“In regard to the numerous miracles wrought by Crishna, it should be remembered that miracles are never wanting to the decoration of an Indian romance; they are, in fact, the life and soul of the vast machine; nor is it at all a subject of wonder that the dead should be raised to life in a history expressly  intended, like all other sacred fables of Indian fabrication, for the propagation and support of the whimsical doctrine of the Metempsychosis.”

To speak thus of the miracles of Christ Jesus, would, of course, be heresy although what applies to the miracles of Crishna apply to those of Jesus we, therefore, find this gentleman branding as “mfidd” a learned French orientalist who was guilty of doing this thing.

Hari in the form Krishna displaying his Universal Form

I want to ask you about a Hindu God. Perhaps he is The One, True God? Of course, the “God” is Vishnu, or Hari whose emissary was Krishna. Krishna was the “full avatar of Vishnu” meaning he was the corporeal manifestation of Vishnu on Earth, the incarnation of God.

Its not terribly long but long enough that I need to introduce him before I go further, so I’ll put this in one post as a prelude.

Hindu sacred books represent Krishna, their Savior and Redeemer, as in constant strife against the evil spirit.

He surmounts extraordinary dangers;

fills his journeys on his way with miracles ;

raising the dead,

healing the sick,

restoring the maimed,

the deaf and the blind ;

everywhere supporting the weak against the strong,

the oppressed against the powerful.

The people always crowded about him wherever he went and adored him as a God, and these miracles were the evidences of his divinity for centuries before the time of Jesus The Christ, the only begotten son of YHWH.

The learned Thomas Maurice, speaking of Krishna, tells us that he passed his innocent hours at the home of his foster-father, in rural diversions, his divine origin not being suspected, until repeated miracles soon discovered his celestial origin; and Sir William Jones speaks of his:

… raising the dead, and

saving multitudes by his miraculous powers.

To enumerate the miracles of Krishna would be useless and tedious; we shall therefore mention but a few, of which the Hindu sacred books are teeming.

When Krishna was born, his life was sought by the reigning monarch, Kansa, who had the infant Savior and his father and mother locked in a dungeon, guarded, and barred by seven iron doors. While in this dungeon the father heard a secret voice distinctly utter these words : ” Son of Yadu, take up this child and carry it to Gokool, to the house of Nanda.” Vasudeva, struck with astonishment, answered : ” How shall I obey this injunction, thus vigilantly guarded and barred by seven iron doors that prohibit all egress ?” The unknown voice replied : ” The doors shall open of themselves to let thee pass, and behold, I have caused a deep slumber to fall upon thy guards, which shall continue till thy journey be accomplished.”

Vasudeva immediately felt his chains miraculously loosened, and, taking up the child in his arms, hurried with it through all the doors, the guards being buried in profound sleep. When he came to the river Yumna, which he was obliged to cross to get to Gokool, the waters:

immediately rose up to kiss the child s feet, and then respectfully retired on each side to make way for its transportation, so that Vasudeva passed dry-shod to the opposite shore.

!!

When Krishna came to a certain man’s estate, one of his first miracles was the cure of a leper.

A passionate Brahman, having received a slight insult from a certain Rajah, on going out of his doors, uttered this curse : ” That he should, from head to foot, be covered with boils and leprosy ;” which being fulfilled in an instant upon the unfortunate king, he prayed to Krishna to deliver him from his evil. At first, Krishna did not heed his request, but finally he appeared to him, asking what his request was? He replied, “To be freed from my distemper.”

The Savior then cured him of his distemper.

Krishna was one day walking with his … disciples, when ” they met a poor cripple or lame woman, having a vessel filled with spices, sweet-scented oils, sandal- wood, saffron, civet and other perfumes. Krishna stopped where he was and she made a certain sign with her finger on his forehead, casting the rest upon his head. Krishna asking her what it was she would request of him, the woman replied, nothing but the use of my limbs. Krishna, then, setting his foot upon hers, and taking her by the hand, raised her from the ground, and

… not only restored her limbs, but renewed her age, so that, instead of a wrinkled, tawny skin, she received a fresh and fair one in an instant. At her request, Krishna and his company lodged in her house.” Oh, I’m sure he did.

On another occasion, Krishna having requested a learned Brahman to ask of him whatever boon he most desired, the Brahman said, “Above all things, I desire to have my two dead sons restored to life.” Krishna assured him that this should be done, and

… immediately the two young men were restored to life and brought to their father.

The learned Orientalist, Thomas Maurice, after speaking of the miracles performed by Krishna, wrote :

In regard to the numerous miracles wrought by Krishna, it should be remembered that miracles are never wanting to the decoration of an Indian romance; they are, in fact, the life and soul of the vast machine; nor is it at all a subject of wonder that the dead should be raised to life in a history expressly intended, like all other sacred fables of Indian fabrication, for the propagation and support of the whimsical doctrine of the Metempsychosis.

Is it more likely that the re-telling of miracles was based on Insufficient Justification or is it more likely the re-telling of the miracles was based on the fact that Hari Krishna is The One, True God and yours is not?

Inductive Substitution

Matthew 9:6-8

English Standard Version (ESV)

6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

Matthew 28:1-20

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Luke 1:34-35

English Standard Version (ESV)

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[a]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[b] will be called holy—the Son of God.

Matthew 28:5-6

English Standard Version (ESV)

5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay.

Mary turned to Jesus and said,

“They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:3-5, NIV)

Nearby were six stone jars filled with water used for ceremonial washing. Jews cleansed their hands, cups, and vessels with water before meals.

Each large pot held from 20 to 30 gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. He ordered them to draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet, who was in charge of food and drink. The master was unaware of Jesus’ turning the water in the jars into wine.

The steward was astounded. He took the bride and groom aside and complimented them. Most couples served the best wine first, he said, then brought out cheaper wine after the guests had too much to drink and would not notice. “You have saved the best till now,” he told them (John 2:10, NIV).

By this miraculous sign, Jesus revealed his glory as the Son of God. His amazed disciples put their faith in him.

After feeding the 5000, Jesus sends his disciples ahead of him in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Several hours later in the night, the disciples encounter a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. This terrifies the disciples who think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them in verse 27, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter replies, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus invites Peter to come. Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and sees the wind and waves, he begins to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches Peter. As they climb into the boat together, the storm ceases. Then the disciples worship Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

While going about his ministry, Jesus Christ received some terrible news. John the Baptist, his friend, kinsman, and the prophet who proclaimed him as the Messiah, had been beheaded by Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea.

Jesus’ 12 disciples had just returned from a missionary journey he had sent them on. After they told him all they had done and taught, he took them with him in a boat on the Sea of Galilee to a remote place, for rest and prayer.

Great crowds of people in the area heard that Jesus was near. They ran to see him, bringing their sick friends and relatives. When the boat landed, Jesus saw all the men, women and children and had compassion on them. He taught them about the Kingdom of God and healed those who were sick.

Looking at the crowd, which numbered about 5,000 men, not counting women and children, Jesus asked his disciple Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5, NIV) Jesus knew what he was going to do, but he asked Philip to test him. Philip replied that even eight months’ wages would not be enough to give each person even one bite of bread.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, had more faith in Jesus. He brought forward a young boy who had five small loaves of barley bread and two small fish. Even so, Andrew wondered how that could help.

Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down in groups of fifty. He took the five loaves, looked up to heaven, gave thanks to God his Father, and passed them to his disciples to be distributed. He did the same with the two fish.

Everyone—men, women and children—ate as much as they wanted! Jesus miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes so there was more than enough.

Then he told his disciples to gather the leftovers so nothing was wasted. They collected enough to fill 12 baskets.

The crowd was so overwhelmed by this miracle that they understood Jesus was the prophet who had been promised. Knowing they would want to force him to become their king, Jesus fled from them.

  1. Need for Closure

The need for closure is a recognized psychological trait that comes in varying degrees amongst individuals in the general population. Those with a high need for closure tend to be outwardly observed as people with strong opinions, or who are strongly opinionated. By reaching a certain conclusion on an issue, one can have emotional closure. And whenever there is a void of fact people tend to fill it with certainty, regardless of how silly the conclusion may be. Furthermore, the order in which people receive information also affects how they rate the value of the object to which that information pertains. If received in order of increasing negativity, the final rating is more positive. If presented in order of increasing favorability, the final rating is more negative. The greater one’s tendency to need closure the more the person latches on to the first pieces of information and the value it assigns. This is called the Primacy Effect.

There are specific conditions under which this is more likely to occur; an important observation for religious contexts. If little is known of the object being ranked or valued, this tendency to rank according to the order in which information about the object is given is greater. This is a fancy version of “first impressions count the most” (because they are “first” impressions, the information about the object –in this example the person – is limited).

The need for closure in making value judgements can be augmented by placing a time pressure on the individual, forcing them to make a decision quickly. Loud noise can also cause this. In these cases people will experience a greater tendency to latch on to the information received first. The tendency to base conclusions on earlier information will be augmented in environments where there is:

  • Ambiguity
  • Uncertainty
  • Time pressure
  • Audible Noise
  • Peer accountability for the value assigned

Persons with low Primacy are almost completely immune to the Primacy Effect. But here is the big takeaway; persons with a high need for closure can be satisfied by simply saying “nobody knows” the answer, and that is okay. This dramatically reverses the observed behavior rendering the person with a high need for closure virtually identical to those with a low Primacy vis-à-vis some given example or trial. In other words, instead of saying that god did it, as an immediate form of closure to any intellectual question, one can substitute “nobody knows” and it works. This is a huge thing for deconversion and why pushing scientific certainty with adherents will always backfire.

This is so important it needs repeating. This is the primary reason why scientists have done such a poor job of public relations in the matter of deconversion: they cannot shut up and have an unstoppable urge to try to answer everything.

Therefore, the adherent with a high need for closure will find any argument that satisifies their high need for closure to be compelling. The god did it answer is one such example. Therefore, the best answer an adherent can give in situations where high need for closure waxes prominent is a strong, firm, “I don’t know” or “we don’t know”. The deconverter should never attempt to answer a question, and thus should always clearly and vocally surrender the question to ignorance, unless two key conditions are met:

  1. The question posed is one that we can answer with very strong certainty and confidence.
  2. There is some clear, significant gain to be had by answering the question (which might include using the answer as a counter apologetic).

When appealing to ignorance, the deconverter is best advised to emphasize the elegant mystery of the lack of knowledge on the matter. This will quickly shut down a high Primacy. The adherent needs closure, so we have to either provide a solid answer or say we don’t know. There is no inbetween or equivocation on this point.

Therefore, the skilled deconverter will always be able to frame these kinds of opportunities in such a way that the adherent is asking the deconverter for the answer (to the question, “if god did not do it, then who”?) and the deconverter is responding; as opposed to the deconverter stating that he or she knows or does not know based on the criteria above. And the deconverter should close in this manner at every opportunity where the adherent might be compelled to use the “god did it” explanation. The opportunities for that are numerous. It takes some practice to be able to do this consistently.

How to Present the Case for Need for Closure

One of the most important things a grieving person needs to do is get past the trauma of loss and move on with their lives. This is usually called “closure”. There is a genuine and very real need of human beings for this. There is a “Need for Closure”.

The need for closure is a recognized psychological phenomenon that comes in varying degrees amongst individuals in the general population. Those with a high need for closure tend to be outwardly observed as people with strong opinions, or who are strongly opinionated. You see this in everyday life in heated political debates, blog participants who cannot accept the obvious, religious debates and virtually any discussion involving strong opinions and a participant bearing them. The good thing about this, and the compliment to those like this, is that by reaching a certain conclusion on an issue and sticking to it, one can have emotional closure. And whenever there is a void of fact people will tend to fill it with certainty, regardless of how silly the conclusion may be.

In the seminal study “Primacy Effect in Personality Impression Formation” by Norman H. Anderson and Alfred A. Barrios, something called the Primacy Effect was studied in which the personality traits of individuals were rated by others. Each trait was offered by one of six acquaintances of the subject being observed. In other words, participants were given six choices, no more, no less, of personality traits they could ascribe to a given individual they observed. The participants had no direct personal knowledge of the sujbect being observed. They were asked to rank each one of these traits on an 8-point scale of weakest to strongest.

It was scored thusly:

4 Highly Favorable

3 Considerabley Favorable

2 Moderately Favorable

1 Slightly Favorable

-1 Slightly Unfavorable

-2 Moderately Unfavorable

-3 Considerably Unfavorable

-4 Highly Unfavorable

In addition, the persons asked to do the rankings were a group of six people who were acquaintances of the subject being observed. The six traits were smart, Artistic, Sentimental, Cool, Faultfinding and Awkward”. IN this first trial, because there is an equal number of good and bad traits, one would expect an average ranking of around 1.38, which is what they got.

If we run another trial with another subject to observe and then reverse the word list, like this, “Awkward, Faultfinding, Cool, Sentimental, Artistic and smart” …

In other words, if we just reverse the order in which these adjectives are supplied to the observers (the order in which information is presented), they rank quite differently, yielding an statistically significant lower average ranking (in this trial, -0.72). This is because people tend to base final conclusions on the earliest information, regardless of type or kind.

The difference in these scores, 1.38 – 0.72 = 2.10, is called the Primacy Effect and it is well-studied. These results have been shown to be consistent over numerous studies of varying methodologies, all of them showing that:

When people attempt to render judgments under uncertain conditions a natural tendency is to experience greater influence from the information that comes along earlier rather than later. In other words, if “God” has the answer now and science doesn’t, people tend to accept the “God” answer.

One of the common methodologies was to use the example of running trials with hiring managers at a corporation in which potential candidates for a job were to be ranked by the hiring manager as to their likelihood of success in their role at the company; a scale running from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most likely to succeed. The hiring managers are given tape recordings of the candidate which demonstrate the candidates handling of situations in various business conditions. As in the other studies, though presented to the hiring managers as being in “random” order, in fact the recordings are given to one group in ascending order of favorability and to the other group in descending order of favorability. The results have consistently shown an astonishing psychology around this:

Hiring managers were told this ranking scheme was still in the experimental stage and you weren’t sure how valid their results will turn out to be: uncertainty was added regarding the applicability of their findings.

For reasons of “professional ethics” the hiring manager would not be allowed to find out how accurate their conclusions turned out to be: uncertainty was added regarding the falsifiability of their findings.

These two conditions set up the following overarching condition:

You could make these judgments (predictions of future performance) with little or no accountability because none of the other participants – or anyone else – would know how you ranked candidates. Because of these very liberal conditions one should expect a high Primacy Effect, and that is what they got, getting a Primacy Score of 7.5 on a 1 to 10 scale.

Then in follow-on sessions the opposite tact is taken: the hiring managers are told that their answers will be extremely important to the entire industry and will be believed and taken seriously everywhere. They are also told that they will be held to strict account for their answers and all will know how they responded. Finally, your predictions will be tested against measured results taken over time to see how accurate your prediction was. As expected, this caused the Primacy Effect to drop to 4.9 because now the hiring managers had strong motivation to come up with good predictions.

In a third series of trials the hiring managers are given time limits; that is, time pressure is applied for them to provide their predictions. It was generally set up as considerable pressure. When done the Primacy Effect increased because of the clinical term a “Need for Coginitive Closure”, in this case forced by a time constraint. Psychologists call this seizing and freezing in which a subject will offer up the first prediction or answer that comes mind to avoid the ambiguity and uncertainty other predictions might cause.

There are specific conditions under which the Primacy Effect is more likely to occur; an important observation for religious contexts. If little is known of the object being ranked or valued (death), the Primacy Effect increases. When there is a lack of accountability (life after death is not falsifiable) the Primacy Effect increases. Where there is uncertainty about the applicability of any one theory of death, the Primacy Effect increases. Where one can provide an answer sooner than any other answer, the Primacy Effect increases. In other words, the tendency to grasp for the simplest, “God did it” answer, regardless of its real or believed validity, increases.

The need for closure in making value judgements can be augmented by placing a time pressure on the individual, forcing them to make a decision quickly. Loud noise can also cause this. In these cases people will experience a greater tendency to latch on to the information received first. The tendency to base conclusions on earlier information will be augmented in environments where there is:

• Ambiguity

• Uncertainty

• Time pressure

• Audible Noise

• Peer accountability for the value assigned

Psychologists discovered that the Primacy Effect has a basis in personality: those with a low “Primacy” were virtually immune to the Primacy Effect and those with high “Primacy” were strongly influenced by it.

In other words, there is probably no other condition and topic imaginable that would drive the Primacy Effect more so than would all the issues related to death and mortality. It is best expositor of the Primacy Effect. For death there is great uncertainty, no accountability for claims made about it (cannot be falsified), time pressure and considerable ambiguity (unknowns).

Therefore, human beings are strongly inclined to accept the existence of a god as the quick, first up, single answer that solves all the ambiguity and mystery of death and ensures eternal life in many cases. And if one’s “God” can do this, then there god is presumably The One, True God.

Is it more likely that the authors of the inscriptions in the Pyramid Texts were experiencing a Need for Closure or that King Osiris’ God is The One, True God?

A final note regards something academics call “Normative Influence”; which refers to the fact that people tend to follow the herd. From total strangers in a riot to the modeling of behavior between lovers or parent and child, normative influence is a hereditary trait that is ubiquitous amongst human beings and varies in intensity in like manner as the emotional bond between the individuals involved increases. For deconversion its relevance lies in the effect normative influence can have on the adherent when considering abandoning their religion. For this reason, the adherent must be removed from their social network and “managed” in a new one. The deconverter should take care to create a social support structure for adherents in this regard. This topic is taken up in more detail later.

The Deconvter should read this passage to the adherent and ask the classic question; which is more likely, that this belief in life after death was caused by a Need for Closure or that Osiris is The One, True God and yours is not?

Utterance 219 of the Pyramid Texts, circa 2500 BCE regarding the Egyptian King Osiris and his death

167: To say the words:
“Atum, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

168: Shu, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

169: Tefnut, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

170: Geb, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

171: Nut, this your son is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

172: Isis, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

173: Seth, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom has been preserved alive, and who lives that he may punish you. He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

174: Nephthys, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

175: Thoth, this your brother is here, Osiris, whom has been preserved alive, and who lives that he may punish you. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

176: Horus, this your father is here, Osiris, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

177: Great Ennead, this Osiris is here, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

178: Little Ennead, this Osiris is here, whom you have preserved alive. He lives! He lives! This Unas lives! He is not dead, this Unas is not dead! He is not gone down, this Unas is not gone down! He has not been judged, this Unas has not been judged! He judges, this Unas judges!

Performing the substitution of the YHWH narrative
The New Birth

Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.

If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

      “For YHWH so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

For YHWH did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of YHWH. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in YHWH.”

  1. The Misinformation Effect: The Power of Suggestion

People’s perception of events, that is, their reliability as a witness, can be manipulated by superficial artifacts (appearances). The most common manipulation of appearance is language. By using certain verbs and adjectives, you can influence one’s testimony of fact. In addition, by introducing through our Socratic questions details that did not occur or are not true we can increase the likelihood of distorting (or shifting) one’s view of reality. The deconverter should use this in reverse on the adherent by using the appropriate adjectives and verbs in the Socratic questioning we will examine infra. Keep in mind that adjectives and verbs used in this manner must be subtle and camoflouged. Academics have operationally defined this as the Misinformation Effect. Studies have consistently shown that the memory of human beings is considerably influenced by the mere choice of words used by others to describe an event. In one study a video of vehicle test crash showed the impact of an SUV into another car at 25 mph. However, when persons observing the video were asked to estimate the speed of the vehicle they consistently overstated it, averaging a response of somewhere around 34 mph. This study, “Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction: An example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory” by Elizabeth F. Loftus and John C. Palmer, also included observations of how people were influenced by the mere description of the event before viewing. When the word “smashed” was substituted for “hit” the numbers changed to over 40 mph. In fact, several verbs were used and the more dramatic the verb, the greater the exaggeration of speed. The very nature of the question can produce peripheral, false memories. If one poses a question about the event and delays that question until some time after the event is observed, say, one week, essential facts of the story themselves can be altered by simple suggestion.

The accomplished deconverter will learn how to use adjectives and adverbs in their speech that serve to perturb or dislocate the adherent’s point of view without making their speech sound histrionic or melodramatic:

The deconverter should use terms that emphasize the absurdity of the position the adherent is holding without it sounding histrionic or offensive and with terms that are more forceful than what would normally be used. Words such as “fiction” such be replaced with terms like “fairy tale”, for example, if the deconverter can do so without being offensive.

How to Present the Case for the Misinformation Effect

From Euripides’ The Bacchae, Dramatis Personae

DIONYSUS: divine son of Zeus and Semele, also called Bromius or Bacchus.

Turning water to wine

They rubbed refreshing sleep out of their eyes,

[690]
and stood up straight there—a marvelous sight,
to see such an orderly arrangement,
women young and old and still unmarried girls.
First, they let their hair loose down their shoulders,
tied up the fawn skins (some had untied the knots
to loosen up the chords). Then around those skins
they looped some snakes, who licked the women’s cheeks.
Some held young gazelles or wild wolf cubs
and fed them on their own white milk, the ones

[700]
who’d left behind at home a new-born child
whose breasts were still swollen full of milk.
They draped themselves with garlands from oak trees,
ivy and flowering yew. Then one of them,
taking a thyrsus, struck a rock with it,
and water gushed out, fresh as dew. Another,
using her thyrsus, scraped the ground. At once,
the god [Dionysos] sent fountains of wine up from the spot.
All those who craved white milk to drink
just scratched the earth with their fingertips—
it came out in streams. From their ivy wands

[710]
thick sweet honey dripped. Oh, if you’d been there,
if you’d seen this, you’d come with reverence
to that god whom you criticize so much.

Death and resurrection of Dionysis

From Commodius XII.—Father Liber—Bacchus.

Ye yourselves say that Father Liber was assuredly twice begotten. First of all he was

born in India of Proserpine and Jupiter, and waging war against the Titans, when his blood

was shed, he expired even as one of mortal men. Again, restored from his death, in another

womb Semele conceived him again of Jupiter, a second Maia, whose womb being divided,

he is taken away near to birth from his dead mother, and as a nursling is given to be nourished

to Nisus. From this being twice born he is called Dionysus; and his religion is falsely observed

in vanity; and they celebrate his orgies such that now they themselves seem to be either

foolhardy or burlesquers of Mimnermomerus. They conspire in evil; they practise beforehand

with pretended heat, that they may deceive others into saying that a deity is present. Hence

you manifestly see men living a life like his, violently excited with the wine which he himself had pressed out; they have given him divine honour in the midst of their drunken excess.

And another source relating the death and resurrection of Dionysis by Origen Book IV, XVI – XVII

CHAP. XVI.

For there are different appearances, as it were, of the Word, according as He shows Himself to each one of those who come to His doctrine; and this in a manner corresponding to the condition of him who is just becoming a disciple, or of him who has made a little progress, or of him who has advanced further, or of him who has already nearly attained to virtue, or who has even already attained it. And hence it is not the case, as Celsus and those like him would have it, that our God was transformed, and ascending the lofty mountain, showed that His real appearance was something different, and far more excellent than what those who remained below, and were unable to follow Him on high, beheld. For those below did not possess eyes capable of seeing the transformation of the Word into His glorious and more divine condition. But with difficulty were they able to receive Him as He was; so that it might be said of Him by those who were unable to behold His more excellent nature: “We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness; but His form was mean, and inferior to that of the sons of men.” And let these remarks be an answer to the suppositions of Celsus, who does not understand the changes or transformations of Jesus, as related in the histories, nor His mortal and immortal nature.

CHAP. XVII.

But will not those narratives, especially when they are understood in their proper sense, appear far more worthy of respect than the story that Dionysus was deceived by the Titans, and expelled from the throne of Jupiter, and torn in pieces by them, and his remains being afterwards put together again, he returned as it were once more to life, and ascended to heaven? Or are the Greeks at liberty to refer such stories to the doctrine of the soul, and to interpret them figuratively, while the door of a consistent explanation, and one everywhere in accord and harmony with the writings of the Divine Spirit, who had His abode in pure souls, is closed against us? Celsus, then, is altogether ignorant of the purpose of our writings, and it is therefore upon his own acceptation of them that he casts discredit, and not upon their real meaning; whereas, if he had reflected on what is appropriate to a soul which is to enjoy an everlasting life, and on the opinion which we are to form of its essence and principles, he would not so have ridiculed the entrance of the immortal into a mortal body, which took place not according to the metempsychosis of Plato, but agreeably to another and higher view of things. And he would have observed one “descent,” distinguished by its great benevolence, undertaken to convert (as the Scripture mystically terms them) the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” which had strayed down from the mountains, and to which the Shepherd is said in certain parables to have gone down, leaving on the mountains those “which had not strayed.”

Born on December 25

In Macrobius’ Saturnalia Book 1 we see that Dionysis is not only born on December 25 but we have an explanation for that particular date:

In latin:

Sed licet illo prius adserto, eundem esse Apollinem ac solem, edoctoque postea ipsum esse Liberum patrem qui Apollo est, nulla ex his dubitatio sit Solem ac Liberum patrem eiusdem numinis habendum: absolute tamen hoc argumentis liquidioribus astruetur. 8 In sacris enim haec religiosi archani observatio tenetur, ut sol, cum in supero, id est in diurno, hemisphaerio est, Apollo vocitetur: cum in infero, id est nocturno, Dionysus, qui est Liber pater, habeatur. 9 Item Liberi patris simulachra partim puerili aetate partim iuvenis fingunt: praeterea barbata p172specie, senili quoque, uti Graeci eius quem βασσαρέα, item quem Βρισέα appellant, et ut in Campania Neapolitani celebrant Ἥβωνα cognominantes. 10 Hae autem aetatum diversitates ad solem referuntur, ut parvulus videatur hiemali solstitio, qualem Aegyptii proferunt ex adyto die certa, quod tunc brevissimo die veluti parvus et infans videatur: exinde autem procedentibus augmentis aequinoctio vernali similiter atque adolescentis adipiscitur vires, figuraque iuvenis ornatur: postea statuitur eius aetas plenissima effigie barbae solstitio aestivo, quo tempore summum sui consequitur augmentum: exinde per diminutiones veluti senescenti quarta forma deus figuratur. 11 Item in Thracia eundem haberi p173solem atque Liberum accipimus, quem illi Sebadium nuncupantes magnifica religione celebrant, ut Alexander scribit: eique deo in colle Zilmisso aedes dicata est specie rotunda, cuius medium interpatet tectum. Rotunditas aedis monstrat huiusce sideris speciem: summoque tecto lumen admittitur, ut appareat solem cuncta vertice summo lustrare lucis inmissu, et quia oriente eo universa patefiunt. 12 Orpheus quoque solem volens intellegi ait inter cetera:

Translates crudely as:

But it is lawful freedom of that before, that he is the sun and that Apollo, Bacchus and edoctoque afterwards that he was the father of Apollo, who is, no doubt some of them of the same is the father of the gods, the sun, and his children were to be considered: liquid and molten in an absolute sense, however, this astruetur arguments. Of a religious is bound to the observance of the secrets of these 8 For in the sacred, as the sun, when he is in the upper, ie, in a day, he is the hemisphere, Apollo addresses: After the I infer that there the night that is to say, Dionysus, who is the father Liber, there is to be. 9 Also, some images of father Bacchus childhood partly mold young, besides bearded p172specie age too, as the Greeks of whom βασσαρέα likewise whom Βρισέα call, and to celebrate in Campania Naples Ἥβωνα cognominantes. 10 These differences in the periods referred to the sun, see the winter solstice as a child, such as the Egyptians, produce from the shrine on a fixed day, and the next day a little bit of a child is seen, then further increase the spring equinox, like the young man gains strength, shape young adorned: later determines its lifetime fullest portrait beard summer solstice, a time when most of their gains increase from the fourth form of the god symbolized by a decrease as getting old. 11 Also available in Thrace p173solem and receive Free, whom they call the Majestic Sebadium celebrate religion, as Alexander writes, and is dedicated specifically to the hill shrine Zilmisso round, whose mean interpatet roof. Rotundity of the room shows the star of this show: Chief roof light is allowed to appear on the top of the sun light, letting the survey, and for the whole east disclosed. 12 Orpheus, too, the sun, wishing to be understood that says among other things:

And in the Hymns of Orpheus (so-called Orphic Hymns) Number 29 we read that:

To Dionysis

The Fumigation from Storax.
Dionysos I call, loud-sounding and divine [my emphasis], fanatic God [my emphasis], a two-fold shape is thine:
Thy various names and attributes I sing, O, first-born [my emphasis], thrice begotten [my emphasis], Bacchic king [my emphasis]:
Rural, ineffable, two-form’d, obscure, two-horn’d, with ivy crown’d, euion, pure.
Bull-fac’d, and martial, bearer of the vine [my emphasis], endu’d with counsel prudent [Eubouleos] and divine:
Triennial, whom the leaves of vines adorn, of Jove [Zeus] and Proserpine [Persephoneia], occultly born (born of divine insemmination) [my emphasis]
Immortal [my emphasis] dæmon, hear my suppliant voice, give me in blameless plenty to rejoice;
And listen gracious to my mystic pray’r, surrounded with thy choir of nurses fair.

“And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.”

Early Church Father and Saint Justin Martyr (c. 150 AD/CE)

You can also use an Egyptian reference to immortality if time permits

Pyramid Texts (Inscriptions in stone)

After death, the king must first rise from his tomb. Utterance 373 describes.

Oho! Oho! Rise up, O Teti!

Take your head, collect your bones,

Gather your limbs, shake the earth from your flesh!

Take your bread that rots not, your beer that sours not,

Stand at the gates that bar the common people!

The gatekeeper comes out to you, he grasps your hand,

Takes you into heaven, to your father Geb.

He rejoices at your coming, gives you his hands,

Kisses you, caresses you,

Sets you before the spirits, the imperishable stars…

The hidden ones worship you,

The great ones surround you,

The watchers wait on you,

Barley is threshed for you,

Emmer is reaped for you,

Your monthly feasts are made with it,

Your half-month feasts are made with it,

As ordered done for you by Geb, your father,

Rise up, O Teti, you shall not die!

Performing the substitution of the YHWH narrative

How to perform narrative substitution

Up to now I have asked about six different psychological phenomena – each of which you could think of as a tool in a defined tool set – in the context of various religious narratives. Of course, the point of the exercise was to see if the presence of these phenomena, these tools, could be reasonably surmised in these narratives. In the interest of time and economy I won’t explicitly go through every question again, but I would submit to the reader that if they go back and read each question again it will be obvious that any one of these tools, in fact, could be applied to any one of the narratives. In other words, all the tools were in use in every narrative, I just picked narratives that better illustrated how each tool worked.

Now, I’d like to expand the conversation and the questions to include a larger context. I’ll use Confirmation Bias as my example, but this applies to all the six tools we’ve identified so far:
Suppose I took the first narrative, that one about Helios, and suppose I said, “you know what? The truth of the matter is my question was too narrow (this is educhris’ shining moment). I could have just as well asked something like the following”:

Motivation

Given any narrative exhibiting characteristics of Confirmation Bias, would it be more likely that the narrative was the result of Confirmation Bias or that the God of the narrative is The One, True God?
The way I would confirm this is to just ask, in each and every case, how are they any different as far as exhibiting signs of Confirmation Bias? Of course, they may differ considerably in the attendant details and story line but that’s not the point. The point is that they all exhibit characteristics of Confirmation Bias.
But the adherent may object:

“I think this is invalid because whatever substitutions you make, when you
round-Robin every religion and get to mine and substitute a narrative referring
to my God it will not be what it is because of Confirmation Bias, it will be
because my God is The One, True God. In other words, my
God is the exception”.

Without examining the validity of this objection at all, we’ll entertain it anyway.
The reader should go back now and read the first two paragraphs of the “Motivation” section, changing it from any narrative to any narrative but my own, and we are ready to proceed.
Suppose I now round-Robin every religion for which a similar narrative exists, for each of the tools we’ve discussed, but dutifully exclude your narratives from that list.
Now, why would this be any different than the one case? That is, when your God is not included in this analysis, why is the case of the many any different than the case of any one of them?

About Mathematical Induction

I’d like to introduce a concept here from mathematics. I’m not purporting to be applying mathematical induction (this can only be done with algebraic objects). I’m simply going to show that this process is the logical underpinning of the logic of induction generally.
When one performs a proof in mathematics using mathematical induction they are relying on some sleight of hand to do something pretty powerful:

Exploiting the known internal consistency of algebra they are showing (in this context absolutely proving) that, whatever values any of the variables might hold in any given instance, the algebraic relationship still holds generally.

Now, let me say this in English and remove it from the formal framework of mathematics and talk about induction generally. This is a rigorous way of saying that if I can show that the process by which I step through a sequence of possible steps is provable and proven, regardless of what step I’m in, then I can show that the relationship is generally true. This is what we are doing with our substitution. In this case, we are outside the system of logic I’m talking about so we can’t say something is “provable and proven”. But that’s not the point. All we need to show for our purposes is that it is more likely than not as stated.

In other words, I’m asking the reader to forget about putting a label onto what religion a narrative belongs, and ask the more general question:

Is it more likely that tool X was in play or that the God of narrative X is The One, True God?
If we continue to honor the request of leaving out your God from this test, it should be just as easy for you to agree to that statement as the former one because the former is merely a specific instance of the latter. They are in all material respects the same thing.
We do indeed have an apparent “defect” in this argument because now we have to explicitly assume that a god you believe is 0% probable is considered. But there are two things to remember. One, what you believe about these other gods is not material right now. What matters is if it is logically possible that any of these gods could exist. Even if that were not true, we are going to remedy this “defect” shortly anyway.

This is like if your five year-old child has a ball he plays with but loses it, and he tells you the only thing he missed about it was that it was a ball, then you could replace it with any ball (not that kids are really that specific – if only) and he is happy. The thing to focus on here for our purposes is in making sure that we know the attributes of the boys fondness toward the ball (in our analogy those attributes are comparable to the tools we’re talking about). I can be confident that when I go shopping at the toy store, ceteris paribus, as long as I choose a ball my boy will be happy. It could be any size, color or texture. As long as it’s a ball. And that’s not all. If my daughter, mother, sister and sister-in-law all go out independently and do the same thing, all of them picking out a different ball, my boy will be happy even if any one of them gives him their choice of ball, and this is true regardless of which one of the 5 five of us adults’ ball is given to him.

So, here’s what I want to ask. I’ll start first with the kind of narrative similar to the Helios narrative, which we’ll call a class of narratives, X, and we’ll use Confirmation Bias as the example as we did for the Helio narrative. Remeber, they can be as different as we please; the similarity we’re talking about is in the attributes of Confirmation Bias they all exhibit. Finally, we’ve left your God out of this list for now.

Is it more likely that Confirmation Bias was in play or that the God of narrative X is The One, True God?
Dealing with Intellectual Insecurity

Usually in one-on-one deconversions this is not an issue. But in mass deconversion you will find that there are scenarios (such as public forums  – the worst way to do deconversion) in which the discussion held will be magnet for academics on this and related  subjects. Typically along with that comes an enormous amount of intellectual insecurity. The successful deconverter must know how to deal with this without letting it derail the deconversion. First, we note that the simplest and most obvious solution is the correct one; which is not to let the insecurity make you defensive and which is what usually happens with inexperienced deconverters. When you are told blatantly and strongly that you are simply wrong on some point (hopefully this won’t happen often if you are true to the Socratic method) you must gladly concede that point if it makes no difference to the effect you are trying to create. That is the first question you should ask yourself when dealing with an academic or any participant who is particularly intellectually insecure.

But it is important to note that intellectually insecure “spoilers” will often claim you are “wrong”, or will challenge the accuracy of a “statement” you make, when no such thing actually occurred. Even when sticking strictly to the Socratic approach the intellectually insecure will often try to frame an objection to straw man the deconverter into something they did not claim or “argue”. Be wary of this tactic and be ready to dismiss it as “off topic” and not related to your question, which is the point of the discussion, for them to answer your questions.

For the audience’s sake you can point out the intellectual insecurity of such a participant tactfully by simply saying, “I’m just asking you questions which you can answer or decline” and “it’s okay to say you don’t know”.

As for the genuine adherent, the deconverter should attempt to “sell” them on the notion of temporarily withholding “witnessing” and “bearing” of religious experiences for at least a week, the longer the better. This can be framed as a thought experiment in which you are going to ask the adherent to describe to you any difference the adherent noticed once the exercise is complete. The reason for the exercise should not be shared with the adherent, but it should be stressed to the adherent that this is just temporary, and is only a thought experiment in order to gain their consent. Indeed, the “low ball” technique should be used to first ask them to try it until you meet again (hopefully not long). This can be repeated in each meeting so that the adherent does not have to consent to what they might regard as too long a period of time to make it acceptable. The true purpose of it is to aid in decompression during the deconversion process (which could take several days or more). Ideally, this exercise will extend throughout that period of time, however long it may be. Additionally, the deconverter will use insufficient justification on the adherent in reverse.

The skilled deconverter will reverse this con and apply it to the adherent to convince them of the truth of a universe with no gods. But this primary strategy is purely opportunistic: It only works when the deconverter has a strong degree of influence with the adherent. This typically only occurs in close relationships or religious settings. Therefore, this can only be used on adherents with an emotional bond to the deconverter. But should that be the case, the skilled deconverter will immediately apply this technique first. And it is quite simple. The deconverter simply tells the adherent there are no gods and devises a means to get the adherent to repeat this over and over. Specifically, the most compelling evidence exposed during the deconversion session can be used in directing the adherent to repeat that evidence over and over.

And this brings up a fascinating theory I’ve heard proposed in my own family before. What if a “religion” of atheism could be devised? Then the religious nature of the relationship between deconverter and adherent can be used with incredible effect; just as it is with religious leaders and their adherents. We examine this possibility in our discussion of Unitarian Univeralism as a decompression religion to which a hardened adherent can be converted to first. We recommend this be done if time and available effort permits.

Having said this, since these opportunistic conditions may no exist, the deconverter might have to accept a secondary means of exploiting insufficient justification in a reverse con. The best way to do this is to once again employ the agent provocateur who can act in the role of a religious leader (perhaps a Unitarian Universalist) who can use their “authority” with the adherent, if that can be developed, to make requests on behalf of the deconverter that will aid the deconverter in their work. These requests might include convincing the adherent to do the same thing the deconverter would do if an emotional bond existed; as we described above. The only difference is that the perceived authority is provided form a different source. In fact, any source of “authority” (in the eyes of the adherent) will suffice for this purpose.

Overall, the limited research in deconversion has drawn out some patterns and conclusions that are worthy of note. Deconversion has been described by researchers as following a step-wise process in which the deconverted transitioned from Believer to Profane to Irreligious. The Profane state is also known as the Apostate stage. Researchers use the phrase “Paradigmatic work” to refer to the cognitive, social and emotional work processes necessary for the intentional dismantlement of a dominant worldview and the adoption of a wholly different worldview. The Paradigmatic work consists of three parts:

  • Cognitive work: Epistemological restructuring, dissonance reduction, and biographical reconstruction.
  • Social Work: Severing incompatible religious social ties and joining more congruent social associations.
  • Emotional work: Deliberat shift in emotional disposition.

In most studies common denominators throughout the religious world appear to be:

  • Most deconverted individuals report that the final deconversion point is instantaneous, though the overall process is gradual.
  • A common emotional motivator for deconverters is dissonance in what they hear from their religious leaders and what they experience in life.
  • Most of the deconverted had a strong socialization into religion by parents in childhood who were strict adherents or worked in the ministry.
  • Their core identity was seen as natural or staid.
  • Most adherents who were zealous in religion become zealous in atheism; suggesting that the hypothesis of a core set of beliefs that are difficult to dislodge is probably correct, and that the specific nature of the core belief is what drives zeal.
  • Most deconversion stories have a strong motif of intellectual justification for the transition. Other data however, suggests that logical arguments do not work, suggesting that the hypothesis of a core belief predisposition is correct.
  • After the instantaneous moment of deconversion the adherent typically enters a period of existential and/or social crisis.
  • Paradigmatic work typically begins after the moment of deconversion (obviously).
  • A full reading of scripture has a tendency to deconvert. This is great news except that getting people to read it is not realistic. We will take up the topic of reading selected texts later, however.

And we can describe the likely Profane candidate for deconversion as an adherent who:

  • Is least religious
  • Least likely to engage in religious activities
  • Has the most liberal worldview.

None of which is particularly surprising. The profane self-report lower rates of life satisfaction, happiness and self-esteem. Most studies have concluded that religious adherents are significantly happier than the profane adherents. In terms of deconversions, the four common characteristics are:

  • Intellectual doubt
  • Moral criticisms
  • Emotional suffering
  • Disaffiliation from religious community

Based on this and other information, we have compiled a short list of key items to address in any deconversion process.

1.)   Identify as early as possible the adherent’s most religion controversial lifestyle aspects (homosexuality, infidelity, incest, etc.). Use those to attack the religion that you will show attacks them for their controversy by withholding emotional support.

2.)   Make sure that the adherent, if not already experiencing a present crisis, has one. This is best done by leaking information about their lifestyle (as in step 1), which had previously been private, to their religious social network. Dissonance between adherent and exploiters must be maximized.

3.)   Next, convert them to a less fundamental, more open and mystical tradition. You can set this up as a troll operation. This should be one that better favors openness to new experiences and is more progressive generally. This can serve as the “easy” solution to their crisis. It’s a setup.

4.)   Connect the adherent to atheist friends and an atheist social support group. They need not agree to any of the group’s beliefs at that point, but the idea is to create the initial contacts to allow the adherent to lean on it later. This will be made easier by success in step 3. This group should do everything possible to persuade or compel this person to obtain and take anti-depressants. Dysthemia is a common, apparently causative phenomenon associated with religious adherence.

5.)   The next step is to completely undermine and remove the religious social support structure of the adherent. This is best achieved by undermining the credibility of the leaders of that local, immediate social structure. This is above and beyond the crisis of step 2 and is more theologically based. This can be done with disinformation once the “leader” is identified. Character assassination, innuendo, and defamation are effective but should only be done in a way that cannot be litigated.

6.)   Never challenge facts, try to tell adherents their religious “facts” are false, or try to use science to challenge religion. Never, ever, appeal to the authority of personalities in Science, or show any deference or respect for scientists whatsoever. The better tact is to approach them as someone who “does not like” science. An appreciation for empiricism will, you will find, come quite easily and readily once they have made the full deconversion. You can return to this issue then and repair this. Attack the credibility of not just their support structure, but the greatest leaders of religion. This will setup step 7.

7.)   Appeal to the religious authorities themselves to undermine their own credibility. Do this by showing how they have obviously lied knowing what they are saying is false. The historical examples for this are aplenty. Then apply arguments that show the contradiction and inconsistency in their beliefs. Specific examples are given herein.

8.)   Generate as long a list as you can of manifest, virtually impossible to refute major problems for religion and use them with each adherent by posing them; repeatedly if necessary (an excellent example is why doesn’t god heal amputees?). Do not waste time and effort on anything weaker. You have to maintain what is often called “political capital” by limiting the number of challenges to the person’s belief system. You can also reference the list contained herein.

9.)   As a step in no particular order, be sure you disabuse yourself of vulgarity or other terminology that adherents might find offensive. Terms like “fundie” or “ignorance” will shut you down immediately. They will “see the devil” in you if you do this. Don’t (this is called “in-group bias”). Following the culturally neutral practice employed by Christian missionaries is the best strategy. This can easily be researched on the internet.

Generally, some of these steps require organization and economies of scale since any one person wouldn’t have the time to make this numerically effective.

  1. Operational Aspects of Deconversion – A Step Outline

The Techniques of Counter Apologetics

Now, be sure you have a copy of the Bible (use “The Message” translation, have copies on hand. For Islam use The Holy Quran in Today’s English by Emerick and for the Tanak use can use The Message OT or an electronic copy of the Tanakh from the internet). The deconverter is well advised to spend considerable time training and practing in the use and total focus on three key forms of logic he or she will use in all deconversions:

The First Axiom of Deconversion

Before describing the specific method used, we will first note that this method is thematically driven by a phenomenon known as the “conjunction fallacy”; which refers to a violation of what academics call the conjunction rule of probability theory:

P(A + B) ≤ P(A)  ∀ A, B ∈ ℜ ; that is, the probability that A and B are simultaneously true, is always less than or equal to the probability that A is true.

This redounds to the notion that whenever you add detail to something (make it more specific and less general) it may sound more plausible to human beings. However, the more general version is more probable. In the vernacular this is usually stated as “the simpler explanation is the more likely one” because simpler in this case means more general. This rule is a formalization of Occam’s Razor also known as lex parsimoniae (the law of parsimony, economy or succinctness). The deconverter must convey this trick of con jobs clearly to the adherent as the process to be outlined is applied. And the reason why this is so important is not just because of how deceptive it is. It is important for the deconverter to internalize an understanding of the conjuction rule in this context because of its frequency in religious thinking and apologetics generally.

Please note also that the clever con artist (one of exceptionally rare skill) will be able to recognize the “anti-mark”; that person resilient to manipulation who can more easily see through the ploys utilitizing embellished details and recognize the the story or narrative that is too specific (too detailed) to believe.

The Second Axiom of Deconversion

Adherents have a predictable pattern of appealing to cognitive modes of fantasy. This creates fundamental logical problems in their arguments which the deconverter can readily exploit. We can frame this formally as a problem having to do with what is called the “necessary and sufficient” clause of empirical reality. To wit, a thing is necessary and sufficient provided:

1.)   A set of values for independent variables are operationally observed to have been necessary and sufficient for an hypothesized value of a dependent variable to obtain AND

2.)   All independent and dependent variables are sufficiently well defined.

Something is sufficiently well defined iff there can be found some causal link in which it can be entrained consisting of at least one antecedent and one descendent such that the effect of the causes entrained can be, in principle, reliably predicted in advance. That is, the causal train must be, in principle, algorithmic and deterministic.

An excellent hands-on example of the Second Axiom regards the so-called First Causes argument used by apologists of various faiths. Popular and oft-accepted without any critical thought whatsoever, even some of the most educated members of society repeat this fallacy ad nausea. Let us dispatch it by contradiction to illustrate:

First please allow me to introduce some basic logical terminology to describe what one might call the No Evil Genius’ Proof:

“Something” (think an event) is possible in a system Q (think universe) “in principle” if Q admits of “Something” that is sufficiently well defined relative to Q.

The word “admit” here is taken to mean “allows”; in the sense that the “laws” governing all behaviors in Q “allows” an event to occur. Those laws are simply the essence of what Q is; it is what defines Q as Q.

“Sufficiently well defined” relative to Q here means the set of properties (to include possibly laws) in Q minimally sufficient to causally entrain an arbitrary event, call it k1, occurring in Q into the causal history of Q. The causal history of Q is the set of events that did, are and will (think all conjugations of “to be”) occur in Q “since” its creation. Think of it like a proton. a proton in free space has what is called a Hilbert Space that describes all its possible states (degrees of freedom). All those allowed states are allowed because of the properties of the spatial system in which it is defined; that is, Q. So, a particle can have mass, for example. That is “allowed” because that is how Q (the universe) works.

Now, we can formalize our statement supra to a first-order approximation of where we’re going with this:

Let an event k1 be sufficiently well defined relative to a spatial system Q. An event k1 is possible in a spatial system Q in principle if Q admits of k1.

Now, consider two spatial systems R and S. Let an event k1 be sufficiently well defined relative to R.

In order for causality between R and S to exist, a special condition must be met. Let an arbitrary event k2 ∈ S.

Let the subset of all properties A ∈ R necessary and sufficient to define k1 relative to R be denoted, r, and the subset of all properties B ∈ S necessary and sufficient to define k2 relative to S, denoted s.

Now, the required condition is trivial,

r ∈ S, R and s ∈ S, R ∵ s ≡  r.

must hold.

But this is just the same as if r ∈ R and s ∈ R where R is the natural world exposed to empiricism and s contains all the properties necessary and sufficient to define a cause that is super natural. But that means that s can be fully predicted and understood using empiricism alone, which is not allowed under the presumptive definition of a god.  Q.E.D.

This is just how easy it is to disprove “gods”. Unfortunately, few understand it. Therefore, other approaches should be put before the adherent. This proof is provided primarily for the deconverter to better understand both the problem and opportunity outlined by the Second Axiom of Deconversion.

Scholium:

Due to the somewhat obtuse manner in which a formal topic such as the above can be introduced, and appreciating how important it is for adherents to understand all Axioms if at all possible, we will attempt to expand on what this implies in a real world scenario.

Recall the key lemma:

Something is sufficiently well defined iff there can be found some causal link in which it can be entrained consisting of at least one antecedent and one descendent such that the effect of the causes entrained can be, in principle, reliably predicted in advance. That is, the causal train must be algorithmic and deterministic.

Let’s be blunter. Whenever a condition ‘exists’ such that it is not sufficiently well defined we are, in effect saying it in the equivalent way as well:

Whenever a condition ‘exists’ such that it cannot be sufficiently well defined in order to entrain any such event (“condition”) in a causal linkage such that it can be algorithmically and deterministically predicted in advance, the “condition” referenced is logically meaningless and irrational, relative to any observer kn whose existence is necessarily and sufficiently defined in nature (as opposed to super nature).

Yea, but why?

Whenever a condition ‘exists’ such that it lacks the definition required in order to entrain any such event (“condition”) in a causal linkage such that it can be algorithmically and deterministically predicted in advance, the “condition” constitutes an infinite effects scenario whereby the “condition”, as we attempt to entrain it, can produce any effect and we have no way of knowing which one is the correct one. It is the very concept of “definition” itself that allows us to narrow the infinite list down to something finite and, if sufficient, to a single cause.

The reader may care to note now, as this concept begins to sink in, how philosophical arguments all have the quality of over generalizing in such a manner as to deny logically valid application to the real, tangible, physical universe. And this is why all the philosophical arguments (or the vast majority) are nonsense. In our case we held strictly to nature and required, as we must, that whatever we claim can be causally entrained in nature, even if only in principle.

We need to be clear here that we are not lauding the scientific method by suggesting that it is the only way to define something or show something to be necessary and sufficient. There is a logic we’re describing here that is more fundamental than the scientific method proper. It just happens that some really smart people a long time ago saw this same logic and built a formal process on top of it … called the scientific method.  If we can get people to behave honestly, come up with the right rules and conditions to ensure fidelity to this process, and thus follow the formal process (uh hmm, East Anglia Institute) then we have a silver bullet to truth that inexorably leads us to more and more of it. Scientists would be well served by making sure dishonesty in their profession is ruthlessly extirpated, not apologized for and white washed. I have a dream.

It is a word to the wise engaged in counter apologetics that because of the imaginary and fantastical realm enjoined by religion the failure to satisfy the necessary and sufficient clause, and to make arguments based on ill-defined concepts, will dominate almost all discussions with adherents. Therefore, the deconverter should be astutely aware of their frequency and should be ready to use these missteps wherever they appear.

The Third Axiom of Deconversion

We now complete the axiomatic toolbox by introducing what is perhaps the most difficult to catch and identify as being relevant in conversations with adherents. This axiom comes about as a result of the all too common tendency of human beings to confuse cause and effect when applying probability to causality. It is also an elegant bridge between the purely abstract which is fully independent of nature and nature. The best way to explain this is to start with a first order approximation in the form of a thought experiment. We will then formalize our conclusions into an Axiom.

The myth of Intelligent Design is composed of two key parts. The first part is predicated on a misunderstanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law states that the physical order of a closed system will increase for any positive increment in time, t. The key word is “closed”. The universe, taken as a whole, is a “closed” system and indeed, for any increment, t, the total order of the universe decreases. It does not increase. It may be the case that the physical order of a non-closed or semi-closed system within the universe might increase over a time, t. But should this happen, a correspondingly greater decrease in order will occur in that same time, t, in the universe as a whole. Therefore, the universe as a whole is not an “Intelligent Design” by any means, the first myth of a larger, two-part myth. Note that things like “perfect” orbits and what-not are counter-balanced by considerable disorder within stars, in interstellar dust clouds and in any number of other areas over large time intervals. This is why we can see so many examples of “pristine” order in various systems on Earth, including biological systems. But Earth is not a closed system and for every increase in order on Earth there is a correspondingly greater decrease in order either elsewhere on Earth or in the space beyond Earth.

The second part of the myth constitutes a backward claim of causality: Intelligent Design presumes that causality is the reverse of what it actually is. Typically, apologists describe Intelligent Design with sample observations such as the observation that the temperatures, atmospheric pressure, radiation levels, etc. of Earth were “just right” for human life to exist. This is synonymous with saying that the physical attributes of Earth are just right for human beings to exist and live on Earth. Ergo, apologists claim, the physical attributes of Earth must have been deterministically set by a rule that assigned from the attributes of human beings an exact set of attributes of Earth. This is backward. The “rule” used to make this assignment they ascribe to a supernatural entity since it is obviously not a rule used by nature. But when we turn causality back around into the correct flow we see that there was in fact a “rule” that rather assigned attributes of Earth to the attributes of human beings: human beings have the attributes they have because of the attributes of the environment on the surface of Earth. This “rule” (which is in fact a set of rules and a system of logic) was the set of properties that define how nature behaves; physics. And chemistry and biology are built on physics; the fundamental behaviors of nature. Stated more formally, the attributes of Earth constitute causes that led to effects; those effects being the attributes of human beings. This is a deterministic causality train translating attributes of Earth as causes to the effects in the form of human attributes. The rule set that made this translation was nature, not a god. It is puzzling to this author how something so obviously fallacious has gotten so much traction in the popular mindset. Intelligent Design is nonsensical

The best way to explain this to an adherent is to start with a rooster analogy. Ask the adherent if one hears a rooster crow in the morning can we conclude that the rooster caused the sun to rise? Obviously, the answer is no. But suppose I were a “cave man” who didn’t know anything about astronomy or the stars and planets. What then? Could a reasonable person be expected to make this mistake? Of course they could. This is exactly the same mistake, or fallacy, of Intelligent Design. In the case of the physical qualities of Earth it was those qualities that gave rise to the qualities observed today in human beings, which is what is so easy to overlook. In the case of the universe as a whole, there is no Intelligent Design – or increasing order – to start with. It has nothing to do with an Intelligent Design and roosters do not cause the sun to rise.

Let us tighten this up.

Let us begin a causality train whose program will be to generate a set of dependent variables, effects, from a set of independent variables, the causes. To get the set of effects A and the set of causes B which caused the set A, A and B must contain members that are not strictly arbitrary. We can define a rank n order m metric tensor, , of “causality” generators; each denoted ϕ11, ϕ11 , … , ϕnm. Then for each ϕij we can define a domain and range for each; corresponding to the sets B and A respectively. Now, let it be observed empirically that there exists a set a and b such that a ∈ A and b ∈ B; and both a and b contain one or more elements, that is:

r ∈ a ∈ A, s∈ b ∈ B and we guarantee that an enumeration of elements exists such that:

u < v.

where u is the enumeration ru ∈ a and v is the enumeration rv ∈ A.

If the generators ϕnm meet the definition of a function, that is, a rule that assigns to each element b ∈ B exactly one element ϕnm(b) ∈ A, then it is likewise possible to find a set of generators which also meet the definition of a function, δnm(s) ∈ a.

Now, we let the generators ϕnm and δnm be functions that strictly assign each element of its corresponding domain randomly to exactly one element in its corresponding range.

Then the probability that there exists a generator δnm is ∝ u / (v – u). However, the probability that there exists a generator ϕnm = 1.

QED.

In other words, appeals to beauty, order and the appearance of an intelligent design, as just one example of this proof’s application, to suggest, imply or otherwise provide evidence for an intelligent actor as the cause thereof is nonsense.

The Socratic Method

In the Socratic approach we frame a conversation with the adherent as an opportunity for the adherent to convert the deconverter; and an opportunity for the adherent to make statements which the deconverter may question. When someone makes a claim you then ask a question. You never make a statement. You encourage the adherent to make claims which can be exploited using the methods herein. In this sense, each claim the adherent makes is understood to be an opportunity for deconversion.

Each question is formulated by taking the statement given by the adherent and creating an example constituting one of its most extreme manifestations.

When they answer in any qualified manner (and you must continue to formulate questions until this happens) you then ask them; “So, should we then qualify your initial statement to account for this kind of example”. You are never telling them they must do it, you are getting them to do it themselves.

An (idealized) example would be if an adherent told you that honesty is always the morally correct position and that dishonesty is always wrong. You might then think of an example that illustrates this belief in one of its most extreme forms. For example, you might set up the example that the adherent is in Nazi Germany and the family of Anne Frank is hiding in the adherent’s basement. You can then ask, “what would you say to the SS Officers who came to your door and asked you if there were any Jews in your house”? “Would you tell truth absolutely, as you say, or would you refuse to tell the truth, suffer torture and probably expose them anyway in consequence of the suspicions generated by your refusal, or, would you lie”? When they qualify the statement you then ask them how they might modify the statement. You get them to offer up a modification to the statement. You never provide it yourself. You are essentially walking them into atheism; walking them into their own liberation.

Next, remember to always tell the adherent, as they try to convince you that, for example, you need to “accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”, that you are very interested and want to hear more. You can do this throughout without conceding anything (the ideal deconverter is one of extreme integrity and one should never concede points to the adherent that you do not believe to be true yourself). You are simply keeping the prospect of their converting you to their religion alive in their minds. This keeps the attention span riveted and renders them receptive to your own suggestions via the questioning method already mentioned.

Therefore, the deconversion conversation begins once you welcome the adherent to converse by making it clear that you want to “hear more” and with the adherent or proselytizer telling you that:

1.)   You should believe what they believe; namely, that their God exists to the exclusion of any other god or gods (you may guide them toward this statement if needed).

2.)   That you should believe this to save yourself from damnation (you may guide them toward this statement if needed).

The meaningfulness of the above example and the beginning of the deconversion conversation in which an adherent tells you that you will suffer a catastrophic consequence if you do not do something (accept my god or go to hell), is in all cases dependent on 4 premises. You will need to take the two statements made by the adherent supra and respond with a two step response, the second step being these 4 premises put to them as a question posed to garner their agreement. The first step will be explained afterward:

Step A:

Later in this process we will find several situations where various Christian narratives appear in other religions before the Christian versions were purported to have occurred. Two generic responses to this often are:

1.)   This does not affect “me”, or has no relevance to my relationship with Jesus (the “I don’t care argument”)

2.)   God revealed hints of his truth to the Pagans ahead of time (really a “new age”, not Christian, religion answer)

These two objections defeat the purpose of the conversation, which was for the adherent to attempt to proselytize the Christian faith. Therefore, we attempt to get the adherent to agree as a condition for convincing the adherent that their god is the one, true god that they will not use these responses later.

Step B:

The promised 4 premises are:

1.)   There must be a Creator.

2.)   This Creator must be active contemporaneous with the conversation ongoing; having inspired others to communicate to other people in this world, and continuing through the present in so doing.

3.)   There is but one Creator, and one Religion, through which one can be saved from this “hell”.

4.)   That this one Creator is the Creator of the adherent’s religion.

These can be established as building blocks to the initial claim presented. For the sake of deconversion, you can accept the first three premises. But 4 should not be conceded. You then let the adherent know clearly that if this Creator provided specific directions on how we are to behave and live that you would follow it. Point out that you wouldn’t argue with a police officer and even more so, you would not argue with an Almighty power. Regardless of the command, you would obey because this is an Almighty power. You must grant this to advance the conversation and thus the deconversion.

You now explain to the adherent that this is analogous for you to a situation where there are not only multiple police officers telling you what to do, there are multiple middle men claiming to represent the orders of the police officers; and all of whom are invisible to you. So, the question you pose to the adherent is how “can I” distinguish between these middle men to identify the true middle man representing the true police officer? And how can we distinguish the real one from the others who are just made up from our fallible human imagination?

Next, you need to get the adherent to themselves make the case for religious skepticism (you do not make that case yourself). So, you grab the alternate text. If deconverting a Christian, you grab your Quran. If deconverting a Muslim, you grab your Bible, for example. You will learn to constantly play religions off of each other (in conversation) using the adherent’s skepticism of other religions as a tool to ignite skepticisim of their own religion. You then ask them to read selected passages (select them beforehand) and ask them to tell you what hints or clues in those passages are there to tell you that this passage was made up by man and is not from the One Creator of the adherent’s religion. You must do this in a manner that appears inquisitive; which is to say, you must get the adherent excited about trying to convince you that this other text is not the Divine text. This will create a zealous religious skeptic immediately. You must then point out that it would be great if one of the many religious texts out there had some divine glow about it so that we could identify the “correct”, supernatural text. But in reality we have to examine the content in order to do this because all these texts look pretty much like all the texts that come off the printing press. If we can examine the content and find “Holiness”, perhaps we can at least figure out which ones are not “Holy”. Both you and the adherent should read multiple passages.

What you will discover, and what you can likely agree upon with the adherent, is that there are essentially four characteristics you can identify as characteristic of a man-made religion; to wit, a text that is not “Holy”:

1.)   Inaccurate and Earth bound perspective of the Universe’s layout and

2.)   Contains laws that are either barbaric or reflect senseless prejudices or both and

3.)   We can look to its origins and see, at least to a large extent, it was pieced together from pre-existing religions.

4.)   Overt fraud usually found in archaeology or some other science that proves deliberate and/or calculated deception regarding the truth of a god.

Characteristic 1

For characteristic 1 you should begin with the ancient Greek explanation of the Sun’s apparent movement; that the Sun God Helios is pulling it across the sky from his fiery chariot. But we know it only looks that way and the Sun is not moving across the sky, the Earth is rotating, and the Creator would have to know this. This is a strong clue that the author of this story and the Creator of the Universe are not one and the same. We could say that the author was clever and creative, but nonetheless human.

Helios is the young Greek god of the sun. He is the son of Hyperion and Theia. By the Oceanid Perse he became the father of Aeëtes, Circe, and Pasiphae. His other children are Phaethusa (“radiant”) and Lampetia (“shining”) and Phaeton.

Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot; pulled by four horses – Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon – through the sky, to descend at night in the west. Helios once allowed Phaeton to guide his chariot across the sky. The unskilled youth could not control the horses and fell towards his death.

The deconverter must keep the Deconversion Axioms clearly in mind throughout this entire process. At this point the adept adherent will try to wander by saying something like, “well, it could be true, who am I to say”? But of course, this is dodging the point. We are asking the adherent, “how do I know that your god is the true god”? If the Helios narrative were true, then yours would not be true. How do I decide which police officer to listen to is the key theme throughout this process. These Axioms serve as the foundation for the two standard objection handlers used thematically throughout:

1.)   I want to find one true, real God and obey this almighty power. So, how do I decide which police officer to listen to? This reduces the burden on the deconverter so that he or she does not have to prove the stories are not true, only that they are likely to be untrue. The adherent will quickly accept this – thereby acknowledging the silliness of other religious myths – if it means their own god is seen in a more legitimate light as the one true god. That is the beauty of the trap being set.

2.)   The adherent will try to tangent and stray off-topic by invoking elaborate, complex explanations for obviously ridiculous claims in order to answer your very difficult questions (which are about to become insurmountable as we read on). You must be quick to notice this tendency, which will happen with a surprising regularity throughout your conversations, and respond to it with Occam’s Razor. You must be quick to say and clear to state that their elaborate explanation could be offered for the same problems in other religions to suggest that your God is not the true god. This can be used to support Occam’s Razor, which is often difficult for the adherent to follow and understand in practice.

It is also important to keep in mind that if what you are reading sounds like pure debating tactic and you are wondering if it will actually convince the adherent, do not kid yourself. The adherent has a debate going on in their head throughout the conversation and afterward and that is exactly the seed you are trying to plant. Yes, it is a debate, but it is a debate that is also going on within the adherent’s head between two birds on two shoulders. At this point you will build the image of silliness by piling on with the Helios description, even having them read these passages:

Homer describes Helios as giving light both to gods and men: he rises in the east from Oceanus, though not from the river, but from some lake or bog (limnê) formed by Oceanus, rises up into heaven, where he reaches the highest point at noon time, and then he descends, arriving in the evening in the darkness of the west, and in Oceanus. (Il. vii. 422, Od. iii. 1, &c., 335, iv. 400, x. 191, xi. 18, xii. 380.) Later poets have marvellously embellished this simple notion: they tell of a most magnificent palace of Helios in the east, containing a throne occupied by the god, and surrounded by personifications of the different divisions of time (Ov. Met. ii. 1, &c.); and while Homer speaks only of the gates of Helios in the west, later writers assign to him a second palace in the west, and describe his horses as feeding upon herbs growing in the islands of the blessed. (Nonn. Dionys. xii. 1, &c.; Athen. vii. 296; Stat. Theb. iii. 407.) The points at which Helios rises and descends into the ocean are of course different at the different seasons of the year; and the extreme points in the north and south, between which the rising and setting take place, are the tropai êelioio. (Od. xv. 403; Hes. Op. et Dies, 449, 525.) The manner in which Helios during the night passes front the western into the eastern ocean is not mentioned either by Homer or Hesiod, but later poets make him sail in a golden boat round one-half of the earth, and thus arrive in the east at the point from which he has to rise again. This golden boat is the work of Hephaestus. (Athen. xi. 469; Apollod. ii. 5. § 10; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1632.) Others represent him as making his nightly voyage while slumbering in a golden bed. (Athen. xi. 470.) The horses and chariot with which Helios makes his daily career are not mentioned in the Iliad and Odyssey, but first occur in the Homeric hymn on Helios (9, 15; comp. in Merc. 69, in Cer. 88), and both are described minutely by later poets. (Ov. Met. ii. 106, &c.; Hygin. Fab. 183; Schol. ad Eurip. Pholen. 3 ; Pind. Ol. vii. 71.)

A similar story comes from a myth from Africa. It is a Kenyan creation story and can be found in a book called African Mythology. In it, the Sun and Moon were supposed to have the same light producing capacity but the Moon got mud on it when the Sun and Moon fought. Inaccurate and Earth bound descriptions are thus used and these are strong clues that a religion story was not authorized by the Universe’s architect. The key in these examples is to stress that these are only clues, not proof of anything.

We now switch lenses. We are going to get the adherent to see that their own religious myths are just as silly as the ones we’ve explored supra. In parallel to the “other” religions, we note that characteristic 1 applies to the adherent’s religion identically. We first notice that all modern knowledge in the Bible is absent. We find in fact that it is the same as the above religions, reflecting only the very limited knowledge of ancient men. God holds the sun still, as if it were rotating around Earth, when he gives the Israelites extra daylight to continue their conquest (in the book of Joshua):

1Joshua’s Victory. 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8And YHWH said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; there shall not a man of them stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10And YHWH threw them into a panic before Israel, who slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-hor’on, and smote them as far as Aze’kah and Makke’dah. 11And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-hor’on, YHWH threw down great stones from heaven upon them as far as Aze’kah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the men of Israel killed with the sword. 12Then spoke Joshua to YHWH in the day when YHWH gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ai’jalon.” 13And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. 14There has been no day like it before or since, when YHWH hearkened to the voice of a man; for YHWH fought for Israel. 15Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

Thought Experiment in Confirmation Bias

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“I have a question for you about this story that has puzzled me for a while and I was wondering if you could help. So, imagine a person living in that time who fully and totally believed the Helios narrative. Suppose this person believed this because their parents and all the Greeks they knew also believed it. Of course, let us assume in any case that they had the freedom to explore, read and learn of other points of view; including those of other gods that existed at the time and the views of other cultures known to the Greeks at that time. So, in this example, our Greek person holds this view of the Helios narrative very solidly and strongly. It is ingrained from birth. This particular individual, in our example, harbors no doubt whatsoever about the truth of the Helios narrative. And we can see why. Even so, this person could easily educate themselves on alternative views. But they don’t because study after study done on this subject shows that when a person believes something they tend to seek out confirmation of that belief, not anything that argues against it. And this preference is apparently very strong. This is the confirmation bias I told you about earlier [and the deconverter will need to go through all 6 symptoms of core belief in a “god” beforehand]. So, this confirmation bias says this person might never pursue any other source material, or listen to arguments or ideas that support an alternative narrative – such as a foreign or alternative religion’s narrative – because it is human nature to seek out confirmation of a belief rather than an alternative. But let us add another wrinkle to this story. Suppose the “adherent” who believed in the Helios narrative as above also established his or her own logic to back it up; reasoning that the sun does appear to move across the sky and the background story on Helios is accepted by everyone he knows and in fact is recorded in ancient texts as being true. Ergo, Helios dragging the sun across the sky does in fact explain what he or she observes, he or she reasons. My question to you is, how is this any different from the case of “Joshua’s Victory”? Again, what seems like a purely natural event (major comet or other celestial event) is occurring but an alternative explanation is provided; namely, that the god YHWH was responsible, right? And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

Thought Experiment in Agenticity

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“I have another question for you about this story as well and it is also puzzling. So, just as in the former case, imagine a person who was living in that time and who observed the sunrise and sunset and concurred with the prevailing view, which is to explain it by the actions of the god Helios. But now suppose an atheist comes along and suggests that this is a purely natural event which serves no purpose. But then the adherent responds quite predictably in this case, by suggesting that no, this could not be a natural event because the sun controls the seasons, the growth of our crops, gives us warmth, helps us track time, and so many things that there must be a purpose in it. From the point of view of Agenticity this argument makes perfect sense and is hard for me to argue against, right? And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question to you is, how is this any different from the case of “Joshua’s Victory”? Again, what seems like a purely natural event (light of the day is lingering longer than usual) is occurring which, because of it and the sun’s intimate connection to our existence, appears to have a purpose and therefore must have been an act of YHWH, right?

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

Thought Experiment in Need for Closure

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“One other thing to as about this is, given that weather was so critical to the ancients, in terms of basic survival, of happiness and general well-being, I wonder if the Helios case might represent a need for closure situation in which the Primacy Effect is exaggerated? Consider the heightened uncertainty encountered with anything dealing with whatever the sun might be doing, a known correlate of an increase in Primacy Effects, right? And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question to you is, how is this any different from the case of “Joshua’s Victory”? There is of course a difference in the context, as in this case we are talking about a battle for the life of a Jewish tribe, certainly a condition of heightened uncertainty, but otherwise the same, right?

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

Did the Christian God Sacrifice Himself?

Some have made the suggestion that the Passion of the Christ doesn’t add up. Once detractor, the vocal biologist named Richard Dawkins, has argued that it fails because of three premises:

1.)   God created humans in such a way that, as he knew because of his omniscience, we couldn’t help but be sinful yet he is angry with us for that inevitable sin.

2.)   God is all just (here to mean “fair”) but his anger at the guilty party is appeased through the bloody torture and sacrifice of an innocent party (scapegoating).

3.)   That this innocent, tortured and bloodied party was himself, since Jesus was God.

Do not mention Dawkins’ name, or otherwise allow the adherent to know that the premises above are associated with that person. The premises above are general enough that they do not have to be attributed solely to him in conversation. Now, all this makes God the plaintiff, jury, judge and the execution victim. If presented to us fresh we would all see its inherent irrationality, Dawkins argued, but its ubiquitous familiarity has dulled our objectivity (do not use that quote with an adherent).

As regards God’s anger (premise 2), this is consistent with the ancient religious motif that life’s fortunes and misfortunes reflected the mood of the gods. In ancient time natural phenomenon were baffling. So, early ancestors may have thought the sun might disappear, for example, since the sun’s time in the sky diminished through the season. Also, colder weather, crops dying and game being harder to find made all natural events a life and death issue. Thus to explain all this humans developed the belief was that all of nature’s events were under the control of supernatural spirits; spirits with human-like emotions. Therefore, when good things happened in nature the gods were happy and when bad things happened in nature the gods were angry.

Greek, Hebrew and Viking mythology reflect these observations. In all examples we will see a description of the anger of the sea. In the Greek example, in book 5 of the Odyssey, we read a description of this mood of the gods:

“And now, as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus- harbinger oflight alike to mortals and immortals- the gods met in council and with them, Jove the lord of thunder, who is their king. Thereon Minerva began to tell them of the many sufferings of Ulysses, for she pitied him away there in the house of the nymph Calypso.   “Father Jove,” said she, “and all you other gods that live in everlasting bliss, I hope there may never be such a thing as a kind and well-disposed ruler any more, nor one who will govern equitably. I hope they will be all henceforth cruel and unjust, for there is not one of his subjects but has forgotten Ulysses, who ruled them as though he were their father. There he is, lying in great pain in an island where dwells the nymph Calypso, who will not let him go; and he cannot get back to his own country, for he can find neither ships nor sailors to take him over the sea. Furthermore, wicked people are now trying to murder his only son Telemachus, who is coming home from Pylos and Lacedaemon, where he has been to see if he can get news of his father.”  “What, my dear, are you talking about?” replied her father, “did you not send him there yourself, because you thought it would help Ulysses to get home and punish the suitors? Besides, you are perfectly able to protect Telemachus, and to see him safely home again, while the suitors have to come hurry-skurrying back without having killed him.”  When he had thus spoken, he said to his son Mercury, “Mercury, you are our messenger, go therefore and tell Calypso we have decreed that poor Ulysses is to return home. He is to be convoyed neither by gods nor men, but after a perilous voyage of twenty days upon a raft he is to reach fertile Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, who are near of kin to the gods, and will honour him as though he were one of ourselves. They will send him in a ship to his own country, and will give him more bronze and gold and raiment than he would have brought back from Troy, if he had had had all his prize money and had got home without disaster. This is how we have settled that he shall return to his country and his friends.”   Thus he spoke, and Mercury, guide and guardian, slayer of Argus, did as he was told. Forthwith he bound on his glittering golden sandals with which he could fly like the wind over land and sea. He took the wand with which he seals men’s eyes in sleep or wakes them just as he pleases, and flew holding it in his hand over Pieria; then he swooped down through the firmament till he reached the level of the sea, whose waves he skimmed like a cormorant that flies fishing every hole and corner of the ocean, and drenching its thick plumage in the spray. He flew and flew over many a weary wave, but when at last he got to the island which was his journey’s end, he left the sea and went on by land till he came to the cave where the nymph Calypso lived.  He found her at home. There was a large fire burning on the hearth, and one could smell from far the fragrant reek of burning cedar and sandal wood. As for herself, she was busy at her loom, shooting her golden shuttle through the warp and singing beautifully. Round her cave there was a thick wood of alder, poplar, and sweet smelling cypress trees, wherein all kinds of great birds had built their nests- owls, hawks, and chattering sea-crows that occupy their business in the waters. A vine loaded with grapes was trained and grew luxuriantly about the mouth of the cave; there were also four running rills of water in channels cut pretty close together, and turned hither and thither so as to irrigate the beds of violets and luscious herbage over which they flowed. Even a god could not help being charmed with such a lovely spot, so Mercury stood still and looked at it; but when he had admired it sufficiently he went inside the cave.

Calypso knew him at once- for the gods all know each other, no matter

how far they live from one another- but Ulysses was not within; he

was on the sea-shore as usual, looking out upon the barren ocean with

tears in his eyes, groaning and breaking his heart for sorrow. Calypso

gave Mercury a seat and said: “Why have you come to see me, Mercury-

honoured, and ever welcome- for you do not visit me often? Say what

you want; I will do it for be you at once if I can, and if it can

be done at all; but come inside, and let me set refreshment before

you.

As she spoke she drew a table loaded with ambrosia beside him and

mixed him some red nectar, so Mercury ate and drank till he had had

enough, and then said:

“We are speaking god and goddess to one another, one another, and

you ask me why I have come here, and I will tell you truly as you

would have me do. Jove sent me; it was no doing of mine; who could

possibly want to come all this way over the sea where there are no

cities full of people to offer me sacrifices or choice hecatombs?

Nevertheless I had to come, for none of us other gods can cross Jove,

nor transgress his orders. He says that you have here the most ill-starred

of alf those who fought nine years before the city of King Priam and

sailed home in the tenth year after having sacked it. On their way

home they sinned against Minerva, who raised both wind and waves against

them, so that all his brave companions perished, and he alone was carried hither by wind and tide. Jove says that you are to let this by man go at once, for it is decreed that he shall not perish here, far from his own people, but shall return to his house and country and see his friends again.”   Calypso trembled with rage when she heard this, “You gods,” she exclaimed, to be ashamed of yourselves. You are always jealous and hate seeing a goddess take a fancy to a mortal man, and live with him in open matrimony. So when rosy-fingered Dawn made love to Orion, you precious gods were all of you furious till Diana went and killed him in Ortygia. So again when Ceres fell in love with Iasion, and yielded to him in a thrice ploughed fallow field, Jove came to hear of it before so long and killed Iasion with his thunder-bolts. And now you are angry with me too because I have a man here. I found the poor creature sitting all alone astride of a keel, for Jove had struck his ship with lightning and sunk it in mid ocean, so that all his crew were drowned, while he himself was driven by wind and waves on to my island. I got fond of him and cherished him, and had set my heart on making him immortal, so that he should never grow old all his days; still I cannot cross Jove, nor bring his counsels to nothing; therefore, if he insists upon it, let the man go beyond the seas again; but I cannot send him anywhere myself for I have neither ships nor men who can take him. Nevertheless I will readily give him such advice, in all good faith, as will be likely to bring him safely to his own country.”  “Then send him away,” said Mercury, “or Jove will be angry with you and punish you”‘   On this he took his leave, and Calypso went out to look for Ulysses, for she had heard Jove’s message. She found him sitting upon the beach with his eyes ever filled with tears, and dying of sheer home-sickness; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he, that would have it so. As for the day time, he spent it on the rocks and on the sea-shore, weeping, crying aloud for his despair, and always looking out upon the sea. Calypso then went close up to him said:   “My poor fellow, you shall not stay here grieving and fretting your life out any longer. I am going to send you away of my own free will; so go, cut some beams of wood, and make yourself a large raft with an upper deck that it may carry you safely over the sea. I will put bread, wine, and water on board to save you from starving. I will also give you clothes, and will send you a fair wind to take you home, if the gods in heaven so will it- for they know more about these things, and can settle them better than I can.”   Ulysses shuddered as he heard her. “Now goddess,” he answered, “there is something behind all this; you cannot be really meaning to help me home when you bid me do such a dreadful thing as put to sea on a raft. Not even a well-found ship with a fair wind could venture on such a distant voyage: nothing that you can say or do shall mage me go on board a raft unless you first solemnly swear that you mean me no mischief.”   Calypso smiled at this and caressed him with her hand: “You know a great deal,” said she, “but you are quite wrong here. May heaven above and earth below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx- and this is the most solemn oath which a blessed god can take- that I mean you no sort of harm, and am only advising you to do exactly what I should do myself in your place. I am dealing with you quite straightforwardly; my heart is not made of iron, and I am very sorry for you.”   When she had thus spoken she led the way rapidly before him, and Ulysses followed in her steps; so the pair, goddess and man, went on and on till they came to Calypso’s cave, where Ulysses took the seat that Mercury had just left. Calypso set meat and drink before him of the food that mortals eat; but her maids brought ambrosia and nectar for herself, and they laid their hands on the good things that were before them. When they had satisfied themselves with meat and drink, Calypso spoke, saying:   “Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, so you would start home to your own land at once? Good luck go with you, but if you could only know how much suffering is in store for you before you get back to your own country, you would stay where you are, keep house along with me, and let me make you immortal, no matter how anxious you may be to see this wife of yours, of whom you are thinking all the time day after day; yet I flatter myself that at am no whit less tall or well-looking than she is, for it is not to be expected that a mortal woman should compare in beauty with an immortal.”   “Goddess,” replied Ulysses, “do not be angry with me about this. I am quite aware that my wife Penelope is nothing like so tall or so beautiful as yourself. She is only a woman, whereas you are an immortal. Nevertheless, I want to get home, and can think of nothing else. If some god wrecks me when I am on the sea, I will bear it and make the best of it. I have had infinite trouble both by land and sea already, so let this go with the rest.”   Presently the sun set and it became dark, whereon the pair retired into the inner part of the cave and went to bed.   When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Ulysses put on his shirt and cloak, while the goddess wore a dress of a light gossamer fabric, very fine and graceful, with a beautiful golden girdle about her waist and a veil to cover her head. She at once set herself to think how she could speed Ulysses on his way. So she gave him a great bronze axe that suited his hands; it was sharpened on both sides, and had a beautiful olive-wood handle fitted firmly on to it. She also gave him a sharp adze, and then led the way to the far end of

the island where the largest trees grew- alder, poplar and pine, that

reached the sky- very dry and well seasoned, so as to sail light for

him in the water. Then, when she had shown him where the best trees

grew, Calypso went home, leaving him to cut them, which he soon finished

doing. He cut down twenty trees in all and adzed them smooth, squaring

them by rule in good workmanlike fashion. Meanwhile Calypso came back

with some augers, so he bored holes with them and fitted the timbers

together with bolts and rivets. He made the raft as broad as a skilled

shipwright makes the beam of a large vessel, and he filed a deck on

top of the ribs, and ran a gunwale all round it. He also made a mast

with a yard arm, and a rudder to steer with. He fenced the raft all

round with wicker hurdles as a protection against the waves, and then

he threw on a quantity of wood. By and by Calypso brought him some

linen to make the sails, and he made these too, excellently, making

them fast with braces and sheets. Last of all, with the help of levers,

he drew the raft down into the water.

In four days he had completed the whole work, and on the fifth Calypso

sent him from the island after washing him and giving him some clean

clothes. She gave him a goat skin full of black wine, and another

larger one of water; she also gave him a wallet full of provisions,

and found him in much good meat. Moreover, she made the wind fair

and warm for him, and gladly did Ulysses spread his sail before it,

while he sat and guided the raft skilfully by means of the rudder.

He never closed his eyes, but kept them fixed on the Pleiads, on late-setting

Bootes, and on the Bear- which men also call the wain, and which turns

round and round where it is, facing Orion, and alone never dipping

into the stream of Oceanus- for Calypso had told him to keep this

to his left. Days seven and ten did he sail over the sea, and on the

eighteenth the dim outlines of the mountains on the nearest part of

the Phaeacian coast appeared, rising like a shield on the horizon.

But King Neptune, who was returning from the Ethiopians, caught sight

of Ulysses a long way off, from the mountains of the Solymi. He could

see him sailing upon the sea, and it made him very angry, so he wagged

his head and muttered to himself, saying, heavens, so the gods have been changing their minds about Ulysses while I was away in Ethiopia, and now he is close to the land of the Phaeacians, where it is decreed that he shall escape from the calamities that have befallen him. Still, he shall have plenty of hardship yet before he has done with it.”  Thereon he gathered his clouds together, grasped his trident, stirred it round in the sea, and roused the rage of every wind that blows till earth, sea, and sky were hidden in cloud, and night sprang forth out of the heavens. Winds from East, South, North, and West fell upon him all at the same time, and a tremendous sea got up, so that Ulysses’ heart began to fail him. “Alas,” he said to himself in his dismay, “what ever will become of me? I am afraid Calypso was right when she said I should have trouble by sea before I got back home. It is all coming true. How black is Jove making heaven with his clouds, and what a sea the winds are raising from every quarter at once. I am now safe to perish. Blest and thrice blest were those Danaans who fell before Troy in the cause of the sons of Atreus. Would that had been killed on the day when the Trojans were pressing me so sorely about the dead body of Achilles, for then I should have had due burial and the Achaeans would have honoured my name; but now it seems that I shall come to a most pitiable end.”   As he spoke a sea broke over him with such terrific fury that the raft reeled again, and he was carried overboard a long way off. He let go the helm, and the force of the hurricane was so great that it broke the mast half way up, and both sail and yard went over into the sea. For a long time Ulysses was under water, and it was all he could do to rise to the surface again, for the clothes Calypso had given him weighed him down; but at last he got his head above water and spat out the bitter brine that was running down his face in streams. In spite of all this, however, he did not lose sight of his raft, but swam as fast as he could towards it, got hold of it, and climbed on board again so as to escape drowning. The sea took the raft and tossed it about as Autumn winds whirl thistledown round and round upon a road. It was as though the South, North, East, and West winds were all playing battledore and shuttlecock with it at once.  When he was in this plight, Ino daughter of Cadmus, also called Leucothea, saw him. She had formerly been a mere mortal, but had been since raised to the rank of a marine goddess. Seeing in what great distress Ulysses now was, she had compassion upon him, and, rising like a sea-gull from the waves, took her seat upon the raft.   “My poor good man,” said she, “why is Neptune so furiously angry with you? He is giving you a great deal of trouble, but for all his bluster he will not kill you. You seem to be a sensible person, do then as I bid you; strip, leave your raft to drive before the wind, and swim to the Phaecian coast where better luck awaits you. And here, take my veil and put it round your chest; it is enchanted, and you can come to no harm so long as you wear it. As soon as you touch land take it off, throw it back as far as you can into the sea, and then go away again.” With these words she took off her veil and gave it him. Then she dived down again like a sea-gull and vanished beneath the dark blue waters.   But Ulysses did not know what to think. “Alas,” he said to himself in his dismay, “this is only some one or other of the gods who is luring me to ruin by advising me to will quit my raft. At any rate I will not do so at present, for the land where she said I should be quit of all troubles seemed to be still a good way off. I know what I will do- I am sure it will be best- no matter what happens I will stick to the raft as long as her timbers hold together, but when the sea breaks her up I will swim for it; I do not see how I can do any better than this.”   While he was thus in two minds, Neptune sent a terrible great wave that seemed to rear itself above his head till it broke right over the raft, which then went to pieces as though it were a heap of dry chaff tossed about by a whirlwind. Ulysses got astride of one plank and rode upon it as if he were on horseback; he then took off the

clothes Calypso had given him, bound Ino’s veil under his arms, and

plunged into the sea- meaning to swim on shore. King Neptune watched

him as he did so, and wagged his head, muttering to himself and saying,

“‘There now, swim up and down as you best can till you fall in with

well-to-do people. I do not think you will be able to say that I have

let you off too lightly.” On this he lashed his horses and drove to

Aegae where his palace is.

But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all

the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused

a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till

Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe.

Thereon he floated about for two nights and two days in the water,

with a heavy swell on the sea and death staring him in the face; but

when the third day broke, the wind fell and there was a dead calm

without so much as a breath of air stirring. As he rose on the swell

he looked eagerly ahead, and could see land quite near. Then, as children

rejoice when their dear father begins to get better after having for

a long time borne sore affliction sent him by some angry spirit, but

the gods deliver him from evil, so was Ulysses thankful when he again

saw land and trees, and swam on with all his strength that he might

once more set foot upon dry ground. When, however, he got within earshot,

he began to hear the surf thundering up against the rocks, for the

swell still broke against them with a terrific roar. Everything was

enveloped in spray; there were no harbours where a ship might ride,

nor shelter of any kind, but only headlands, low-lying rocks, and

mountain tops.

Ulysses’ heart now began to fail him, and he said despairingly to

himself, “Alas, Jove has let me see land after swimming so far that

I had given up all hope, but I can find no landing place, for the

coast is rocky and surf-beaten, the rocks are smooth and rise sheer

from the sea, with deep water close under them so that I cannot climb

out for want of foothold. I am afraid some great wave will lift me off my legs and dash me against the rocks as I leave the water- which would give me a sorry landing. If, on the other hand, I swim further in search of some shelving beach or harbour, a hurricane may carry me out to sea again sorely against my will, or heaven may send some great monster of the deep to attack me; for Amphitrite breeds many such, and I know that Neptune is very angry with me.”   While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do. He caught hold of the rock with both hands and clung to it groaning with pain till the wave retired, so he was saved that time; but presently the wave came on again and carried him back with it far into the sea-tearing his hands as the suckers of a polypus are torn when some one plucks it from its bed, and the stones come up along with it even so did the rocks tear the skin from his strong hands, and then the wave drew him deep down under the water.   Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him. He swam seaward again, beyond reach of the surf that was beating against the land, and at the same time he kept looking towards the shore to see if he could find some haven, or a spit that should take the waves aslant. By and by, as he swam on, he came to the mouth of a river, and here he thought would be the best place, for there were no rocks, and it afforded shelter from the wind. He felt that there was a current, so he prayed inwardly and said:   “Hear me, O King, whoever you may be, and save me from the anger of the sea-god Neptune, for I approach you prayerfully. Any one who has lost his way has at all times a claim even upon the gods, wherefore in my distress I draw near to your stream, and cling to the knees of your riverhood. Have mercy upon me, O king, for I declare myself your suppliant.”   Then the god stayed his stream and stilled the waves, making all calm before him, and bringing him safely into the mouth of the river. Here at last Ulysses’ knees and strong hands failed him, for the sea had completely broken him. His body was all swollen, and his mouth and nostrils ran down like a river with sea-water, so that he could neither breathe nor speak, and lay swooning from sheer exhaustion; presently, when he had got his breath and came to himself again, he took off the scarf that Ino had given him and threw it back into the salt stream of the river, whereon Ino received it into her hands from the wave that bore it towards her. Then he left the river, laid himself down among the rushes, and kissed the bounteous earth.   “Alas,” he cried to himself in his dismay, “what ever will become of me, and how is it all to end? If I stay here upon the river bed through the long watches of the night, I am so exhausted that the bitter cold and damp may make an end of me- for towards sunrise there will be a keen wind blowing from off the river. If, on the other hand, I climb the hill side, find shelter in the woods, and sleep in some thicket, I may escape the cold and have a good night’s rest, but some savage beast may take advantage of me and devour me.”   In the end he deemed it best to take to the woods, and he found one upon some high ground not far from the water. There he crept beneath two shoots of olive that grew from a single stock- the one an ungrafted sucker, while the other had been grafted. No wind, however squally, could break through the cover they afforded, nor could the sun’s rays pierce them, nor the rain get through them, so closely did they grow into one another. Ulysses crept under these and began to make himself a bed to lie on, for there was a great litter of dead leaves lying about- enough to make a covering for two or three men even in hard

winter weather. He was glad enough to see this, so he laid himself

down and heaped the leaves all round him. Then, as one who lives alone

in the country, far from any neighbor, hides a brand as fire-seed

in the ashes to save himself from having to get a light elsewhere,

even so did Ulysses cover himself up with leaves; and Minerva shed

a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his eyelids, and made him lose

all memories of his sorrows.”

In the Hebrew example, in Jeremiah Chapter 5 verse 22, we have a similar example:

122Do you not fear me? says YHWH; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the bound for the sea, a perpetual barrier which it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail, though they roar, they cannot pass over it.

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

In the Viking example, in the Prose Edda, we find another similar example:

“The Midgard Serpent snapped at the ox-head, and the hook caught in its jaw; but when the Serpent was aware of this, it dashed away so fiercely that both Thor’s fists crashed against the gunwale. Then Thor was angered, and took upon him his divine strength, braced his feet so strongly that he plunged through the ship with both feet, and dashed his feet against the bottom; then he drew the Serpent up to the gunwale. And it may be said that no one has seen very fearful sights who might not see that: bow Thor flashed fiery glances at the Serpent, and the Serpent in turn stared up toward him from below and blew venom. Then, it is said, the giant Hymir grew pale, became yellow, and was sore afraid, when he saw the Serpent, and how the sea rushed out and in through the boat. In the very moment when Thor clutched his hammer and raised it on high, then the giant fumbled for his fish-knife and hacked off Thor’s line at the gunwale, and the Serpent sank down into the sea. Thor hurled his hammer after it; and men say that he struck off its head against the bottom; but I think it were true to tell thee that the Midgard Serpent yet lives and lies in the encompassing sea. But ‘Thor swung his fist and brought it against Hymir’s ear, so that he plunged overboard, and Thor saw the soles of his feet. And Thor waded to land.”

All this supports the view that ancient people believed in the anger or at least the violent mood swings of gods. Today, most adherents do not see this quite so literally.

So, the next step for the ancients was to figure out how to make an angry god happy again. One of the most common tactics was to offer the gods a sacrificial gift. This was because they wanted to appease the anger of the gods. This was an almost ubiquitous view across cultures. Book 1 of the Illiad offers a parallel to the Bible in the story of Apollo and the plague:

Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought

countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying

down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures,

for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the

son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with

one another.

 

And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was the

son of Jove and Leto; for he was angry with the king and sent a pestilence

upon the host to plague the people, because the son of Atreus had

dishonoured Chryses his priest. Now Chryses had come to the ships

of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and had brought with him a great

ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the sceptre of Apollo wreathed

with a suppliant’s wreath and he besought the Achaeans, but most of

all the two sons of Atreus, who were their chiefs.

 

“Sons of Atreus,” he cried, “and all other Achaeans, may the gods

who dwell in Olympus grant you to sack the city of Priam, and to reach

your homes in safety; but free my daughter, and accept a ransom for

her, in reverence to Apollo, son of Jove.”

 

On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for respecting

the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not so Agamemnon,

who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly away. “Old man,” said

he, “let me not find you tarrying about our ships, nor yet coming

hereafter. Your sceptre of the god and your wreath shall profit you

nothing. I will not free her. She shall grow old in my house at Argos

far from her own home, busying herself with her loom and visiting

my couch; so go, and do not provoke me or it shall be the worse for

you.”

 

The old man feared him and obeyed. Not a word he spoke, but went by

the shore of the sounding sea and prayed apart to King Apollo whom

lovely Leto had borne. “Hear me,” he cried, “O god of the silver bow,

that protectest Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos with thy

might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your temple

with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or goats,

grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon the

Danaans.”

 

Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. He came down furious

from the summits of Olympus, with his bow and his quiver upon his

shoulder, and the arrows rattled on his back with the rage that trembled

within him. He sat himself down away from the ships with a face as

dark as night, and his silver bow rang death as he shot his arrow

in the midst of them. First he smote their mules and their hounds,

but presently he aimed his shafts at the people themselves, and all

day long the pyres of the dead were burning.

 

For nine whole days he shot his arrows among the people, but upon

the tenth day Achilles called them in assembly- moved thereto by Juno,

who saw the Achaeans in their death-throes and had compassion upon

them. Then, when they were got together, he rose and spoke among them.

 

“Son of Atreus,” said he, “I deem that we should now turn roving home

if we would escape destruction, for we are being cut down by war and

pestilence at once. Let us ask some priest or prophet, or some reader

of dreams (for dreams, too, are of Jove) who can tell us why Phoebus

Apollo is so angry, and say whether it is for some vow that we have

broken, or hecatomb that we have not offered, and whether he will

accept the savour of lambs and goats without blemish, so as to take

away the plague from us.”

 

With these words he sat down, and Calchas son of Thestor, wisest of

augurs, who knew things past present and to come, rose to speak. He

it was who had guided the Achaeans with their fleet to Ilius, through

the prophesyings with which Phoebus Apollo had inspired him. With

all sincerity and goodwill he addressed them thus:-

 

“Achilles, loved of heaven, you bid me tell you about the anger of

King Apollo, I will therefore do so; but consider first and swear

that you will stand by me heartily in word and deed, for I know that

I shall offend one who rules the Argives with might, to whom all the

Achaeans are in subjection. A plain man cannot stand against the anger

of a king, who if he swallow his displeasure now, will yet nurse revenge

till he has wreaked it. Consider, therefore, whether or no you will

protect me.”

 

And Achilles answered, “Fear not, but speak as it is borne in upon

you from heaven, for by Apollo, Calchas, to whom you pray, and whose

oracles you reveal to us, not a Danaan at our ships shall lay his

hand upon you, while I yet live to look upon the face of the earth-

no, not though you name Agamemnon himself, who is by far the foremost

of the Achaeans.”

 

Thereon the seer spoke boldly. “The god,” he said, “is angry neither

about vow nor hecatomb, but for his priest’s sake, whom Agamemnon

has dishonoured, in that he would not free his daughter nor take a

ransom for her; therefore has he sent these evils upon us, and will

yet send others. He will not deliver the Danaans from this pestilence

till Agamemnon has restored the girl without fee or ransom to her

father, and has sent a holy hecatomb to Chryse. Thus we may perhaps

appease him.”

 

With these words he sat down, and Agamemnon rose in anger. His heart

was black with rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he scowled on Calchas

and said, “Seer of evil, you never yet prophesied smooth things concerning

me, but have ever loved to foretell that which was evil. You have

brought me neither comfort nor performance; and now you come seeing

among Danaans, and saying that Apollo has plagued us because I would

not take a ransom for this girl, the daughter of Chryses. I have set

my heart on keeping her in my own house, for I love her better even

than my own wife Clytemnestra, whose peer she is alike in form and

feature, in understanding and accomplishments. Still I will give her

up if I must, for I would have the people live, not die; but you must

find me a prize instead, or I alone among the Argives shall be without

one. This is not well; for you behold, all of you, that my prize is

to go elsewhither.”

 

And Achilles answered, “Most noble son of Atreus, covetous beyond

all mankind, how shall the Achaeans find you another prize? We have

no common store from which to take one. Those we took from the cities

have been awarded; we cannot disallow the awards that have been made

already. Give this girl, therefore, to the god, and if ever Jove grants

us to sack the city of Troy we will requite you three and fourfold.”

 

Then Agamemnon said, “Achilles, valiant though you be, you shall not

thus outwit me. You shall not overreach and you shall not persuade

me. Are you to keep your own prize, while I sit tamely under my loss

and give up the girl at your bidding? Let the Achaeans find me a prize

in fair exchange to my liking, or I will come and take your own, or

that of Ajax or of Ulysses; and he to whomsoever I may come shall

rue my coming. But of this we will take thought hereafter; for the

present, let us draw a ship into the sea, and find a crew for her

expressly; let us put a hecatomb on board, and let us send Chryseis

also; further, let some chief man among us be in command, either Ajax,

or Idomeneus, or yourself, son of Peleus, mighty warrior that you

are, that we may offer sacrifice and appease the the anger of the

god.”

 

Achilles scowled at him and answered, “You are steeped in insolence

and lust of gain. With what heart can any of the Achaeans do your

bidding, either on foray or in open fighting? I came not warring here

for any ill the Trojans had done me. I have no quarrel with them.

They have not raided my cattle nor my horses, nor cut down my harvests

on the rich plains of Phthia; for between me and them there is a great

space, both mountain and sounding sea. We have followed you, Sir Insolence!

for your pleasure, not ours- to gain satisfaction from the Trojans

for your shameless self and for Menelaus. You forget this, and threaten

to rob me of the prize for which I have toiled, and which the sons

of the Achaeans have given me. Never when the Achaeans sack any rich

city of the Trojans do I receive so good a prize as you do, though

it is my hands that do the better part of the fighting. When the sharing

comes, your share is far the largest, and I, forsooth, must go back

to my ships, take what I can get and be thankful, when my labour of

fighting is done. Now, therefore, I shall go back to Phthia; it will

be much better for me to return home with my ships, for I will not

stay here dishonoured to gather gold and substance for you.”

 

And Agamemnon answered, “Fly if you will, I shall make you no prayers

to stay you. I have others here who will do me honour, and above all

Jove, the lord of counsel. There is no king here so hateful to me

as you are, for you are ever quarrelsome and ill affected. What though

you be brave? Was it not heaven that made you so? Go home, then, with

your ships and comrades to lord it over the Myrmidons. I care neither

for you nor for your anger; and thus will I do: since Phoebus Apollo

is taking Chryseis from me, I shall send her with my ship and my followers,

but I shall come to your tent and take your own prize Briseis, that

you may learn how much stronger I am than you are, and that another

may fear to set himself up as equal or comparable with me.”

 

The son of Peleus was furious, and his heart within his shaggy breast

was divided whether to draw his sword, push the others aside, and

kill the son of Atreus, or to restrain himself and check his anger.

While he was thus in two minds, and was drawing his mighty sword from

its scabbard, Minerva came down from heaven (for Juno had sent her

in the love she bore to them both), and seized the son of Peleus by

his yellow hair, visible to him alone, for of the others no man could

see her. Achilles turned in amaze, and by the fire that flashed from

her eyes at once knew that she was Minerva. “Why are you here,” said

he, “daughter of aegis-bearing Jove? To see the pride of Agamemnon,

son of Atreus? Let me tell you- and it shall surely be- he shall pay

for this insolence with his life.”

 

And Minerva said, “I come from heaven, if you will hear me, to bid

you stay your anger. Juno has sent me, who cares for both of you alike.

Cease, then, this brawling, and do not draw your sword; rail at him

if you will, and your railing will not be vain, for I tell you- and

it shall surely be- that you shall hereafter receive gifts three times

as splendid by reason of this present insult. Hold, therefore, and

obey.”

 

“Goddess,” answered Achilles, “however angry a man may be, he must

do as you two command him. This will be best, for the gods ever hear

the prayers of him who has obeyed them.”

 

He stayed his hand on the silver hilt of his sword, and thrust it

back into the scabbard as Minerva bade him. Then she went back to

Olympus among the other gods, and to the house of aegis-bearing Jove.

 

But the son of Peleus again began railing at the son of Atreus, for

he was still in a rage. “Wine-bibber,” he cried, “with the face of

a dog and the heart of a hind, you never dare to go out with the host

in fight, nor yet with our chosen men in ambuscade. You shun this

as you do death itself. You had rather go round and rob his prizes

from any man who contradicts you. You devour your people, for you

are king over a feeble folk; otherwise, son of Atreus, henceforward

you would insult no man. Therefore I say, and swear it with a great

oath- nay, by this my sceptre which shalt sprout neither leaf nor

shoot, nor bud anew from the day on which it left its parent stem

upon the mountains- for the axe stripped it of leaf and bark, and

now the sons of the Achaeans bear it as judges and guardians of the

decrees of heaven- so surely and solemnly do I swear that hereafter

they shall look fondly for Achilles and shall not find him. In the

day of your distress, when your men fall dying by the murderous hand

of Hector, you shall not know how to help them, and shall rend your

heart with rage for the hour when you offered insult to the bravest

of the Achaeans.”

 

With this the son of Peleus dashed his gold-bestudded sceptre on the

ground and took his seat, while the son of Atreus was beginning fiercely

from his place upon the other side. Then uprose smooth-tongued Nestor,

the facile speaker of the Pylians, and the words fell from his lips

sweeter than honey. Two generations of men born and bred in Pylos

had passed away under his rule, and he was now reigning over the third.

With all sincerity and goodwill, therefore, he addressed them thus:-

 

“Of a truth,” he said, “a great sorrow has befallen the Achaean land.

Surely Priam with his sons would rejoice, and the Trojans be glad

at heart if they could hear this quarrel between you two, who are

so excellent in fight and counsel. I am older than either of you;

therefore be guided by me. Moreover I have been the familiar friend

of men even greater than you are, and they did not disregard my counsels.

Never again can I behold such men as Pirithous and Dryas shepherd

of his people, or as Caeneus, Exadius, godlike Polyphemus, and Theseus

son of Aegeus, peer of the immortals. These were the mightiest men

ever born upon this earth: mightiest were they, and when they fought

the fiercest tribes of mountain savages they utterly overthrew them.

I came from distant Pylos, and went about among them, for they would

have me come, and I fought as it was in me to do. Not a man now living

could withstand them, but they heard my words, and were persuaded

by them. So be it also with yourselves, for this is the more excellent

way. Therefore, Agamemnon, though you be strong, take not this girl

away, for the sons of the Achaeans have already given her to Achilles;

and you, Achilles, strive not further with the king, for no man who

by the grace of Jove wields a sceptre has like honour with Agamemnon.

You are strong, and have a goddess for your mother; but Agamemnon

is stronger than you, for he has more people under him. Son of Atreus,

check your anger, I implore you; end this quarrel with Achilles, who

in the day of battle is a tower of strength to the Achaeans.”

 

And Agamemnon answered, “Sir, all that you have said is true, but

this fellow must needs become our lord and master: he must be lord

of all, king of all, and captain of all, and this shall hardly be.

Granted that the gods have made him a great warrior, have they also

given him the right to speak with railing?”

 

Achilles interrupted him. “I should be a mean coward,” he cried, “were

I to give in to you in all things. Order other people about, not me,

for I shall obey no longer. Furthermore I say- and lay my saying to

your heart- I shall fight neither you nor any man about this girl,

for those that take were those also that gave. But of all else that

is at my ship you shall carry away nothing by force. Try, that others

may see; if you do, my spear shall be reddened with your blood.”

 

When they had quarrelled thus angrily, they rose, and broke up the

assembly at the ships of the Achaeans. The son of Peleus went back

to his tents and ships with the son of Menoetius and his company,

while Agamemnon drew a vessel into the water and chose a crew of twenty

oarsmen. He escorted Chryseis on board and sent moreover a hecatomb

for the god. And Ulysses went as captain.

 

These, then, went on board and sailed their ways over the sea. But

the son of Atreus bade the people purify themselves; so they purified

themselves and cast their filth into the sea. Then they offered hecatombs

of bulls and goats without blemish on the sea-shore, and the smoke

with the savour of their sacrifice rose curling up towards heaven.

 

Thus did they busy themselves throughout the host. But Agamemnon did

not forget the threat that he had made Achilles, and called his trusty

messengers and squires Talthybius and Eurybates. “Go,” said he, “to

the tent of Achilles, son of Peleus; take Briseis by the hand and

bring her hither; if he will not give her I shall come with others

and take her- which will press him harder.”

 

He charged them straightly further and dismissed them, whereon they

went their way sorrowfully by the seaside, till they came to the tents

and ships of the Myrmidons. They found Achilles sitting by his tent

and his ships, and ill-pleased he was when he beheld them. They stood

fearfully and reverently before him, and never a word did they speak,

but he knew them and said, “Welcome, heralds, messengers of gods and

men; draw near; my quarrel is not with you but with Agamemnon who

has sent you for the girl Briseis. Therefore, Patroclus, bring her

and give her to them, but let them be witnesses by the blessed gods,

by mortal men, and by the fierceness of Agamemnon’s anger, that if

ever again there be need of me to save the people from ruin, they

shall seek and they shall not find. Agamemnon is mad with rage and

knows not how to look before and after that the Achaeans may fight

by their ships in safety.”

 

Patroclus did as his dear comrade had bidden him. He brought Briseis

from the tent and gave her over to the heralds, who took her with

them to the ships of the Achaeans- and the woman was loth to go. Then

Achilles went all alone by the side of the hoar sea, weeping and looking

out upon the boundless waste of waters. He raised his hands in prayer

to his immortal mother, “Mother,” he cried, “you bore me doomed to

live but for a little season; surely Jove, who thunders from Olympus,

might have made that little glorious. It is not so. Agamemnon, son

of Atreus, has done me dishonour, and has robbed me of my prize by

force.”

 

As he spoke he wept aloud, and his mother heard him where she was

sitting in the depths of the sea hard by the old man her father. Forthwith

she rose as it were a grey mist out of the waves, sat down before

him as he stood weeping, caressed him with her hand, and said, “My

son, why are you weeping? What is it that grieves you? Keep it not

from me, but tell me, that we may know it together.”

 

Achilles drew a deep sigh and said, “You know it; why tell you what

you know well already? We went to Thebe the strong city of Eetion,

sacked it, and brought hither the spoil. The sons of the Achaeans

shared it duly among themselves, and chose lovely Chryseis as the

meed of Agamemnon; but Chryses, priest of Apollo, came to the ships

of the Achaeans to free his daughter, and brought with him a great

ransom: moreover he bore in his hand the sceptre of Apollo, wreathed

with a suppliant’s wreath, and he besought the Achaeans, but most

of all the two sons of Atreus who were their chiefs.

 

“On this the rest of the Achaeans with one voice were for respecting

the priest and taking the ransom that he offered; but not so Agamemnon,

who spoke fiercely to him and sent him roughly away. So he went back

in anger, and Apollo, who loved him dearly, heard his prayer. Then

the god sent a deadly dart upon the Argives, and the people died thick

on one another, for the arrows went everywhither among the wide host

of the Achaeans. At last a seer in the fulness of his knowledge declared

to us the oracles of Apollo, and I was myself first to say that we

should appease him. Whereon the son of Atreus rose in anger, and threatened

that which he has since done. The Achaeans are now taking the girl

in a ship to Chryse, and sending gifts of sacrifice to the god; but

the heralds have just taken from my tent the daughter of Briseus,

whom the Achaeans had awarded to myself.

 

“Help your brave son, therefore, if you are able. Go to Olympus, and

if you have ever done him service in word or deed, implore the aid

of Jove. Ofttimes in my father’s house have I heard you glory in that

you alone of the immortals saved the son of Saturn from ruin, when

the others, with Juno, Neptune, and Pallas Minerva would have put

him in bonds. It was you, goddess, who delivered him by calling to

Olympus the hundred-handed monster whom gods call Briareus, but men

Aegaeon, for he is stronger even than his father; when therefore he

took his seat all-glorious beside the son of Saturn, the other gods

were afraid, and did not bind him. Go, then, to him, remind him of

all this, clasp his knees, and bid him give succour to the Trojans.

Let the Achaeans be hemmed in at the sterns of their ships, and perish

on the sea-shore, that they may reap what joy they may of their king,

and that Agamemnon may rue his blindness in offering insult to the

foremost of the Achaeans.”

 

Thetis wept and answered, “My son, woe is me that I should have borne

or suckled you. Would indeed that you had lived your span free from

all sorrow at your ships, for it is all too brief; alas, that you

should be at once short of life and long of sorrow above your peers:

woe, therefore, was the hour in which I bore you; nevertheless I will

go to the snowy heights of Olympus, and tell this tale to Jove, if

he will hear our prayer: meanwhile stay where you are with your ships,

nurse your anger against the Achaeans, and hold aloof from fight.

For Jove went yesterday to Oceanus, to a feast among the Ethiopians,

and the other gods went with him. He will return to Olympus twelve

days hence; I will then go to his mansion paved with bronze and will

beseech him; nor do I doubt that I shall be able to persuade him.”

 

On this she left him, still furious at the loss of her that had been

taken from him. Meanwhile Ulysses reached Chryse with the hecatomb.

When they had come inside the harbour they furled the sails and laid

them in the ship’s hold; they slackened the forestays, lowered the

mast into its place, and rowed the ship to the place where they would

have her lie; there they cast out their mooring-stones and made fast

the hawsers. They then got out upon the sea-shore and landed the hecatomb

for Apollo; Chryseis also left the ship, and Ulysses led her to the

altar to deliver her into the hands of her father. “Chryses,” said

he, “King Agamemnon has sent me to bring you back your child, and

to offer sacrifice to Apollo on behalf of the Danaans, that we may

propitiate the god, who has now brought sorrow upon the Argives.”

 

So saying he gave the girl over to her father, who received her gladly,

and they ranged the holy hecatomb all orderly round the altar of the

god. They washed their hands and took up the barley-meal to sprinkle

over the victims, while Chryses lifted up his hands and prayed aloud

on their behalf. “Hear me,” he cried, “O god of the silver bow, that

protectest Chryse and holy Cilla, and rulest Tenedos with thy might.

Even as thou didst hear me aforetime when I prayed, and didst press

hardly upon the Achaeans, so hear me yet again, and stay this fearful

pestilence from the Danaans.”

 

Thus did he pray, and Apollo heard his prayer. When they had done

praying and sprinkling the barley-meal, they drew back the heads of

the victims and killed and flayed them. They cut out the thigh-bones,

wrapped them round in two layers of fat, set some pieces of raw meat

on the top of them, and then Chryses laid them on the wood fire and

poured wine over them, while the young men stood near him with five-pronged

spits in their hands. When the thigh-bones were burned and they had

tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small, put the pieces

upon the spits, roasted them till they were done, and drew them off:

then, when they had finished their work and the feast was ready, they

ate it, and every man had his full share, so that all were satisfied.

As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, pages filled the

mixing-bowl with wine and water and handed it round, after giving

every man his drink-offering.

 

Thus all day long the young men worshipped the god with song, hymning

him and chaunting the joyous paean, and the god took pleasure in their

voices; but when the sun went down, and it came on dark, they laid

themselves down to sleep by the stern cables of the ship, and when

the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared they again set

sail for the host of the Achaeans. Apollo sent them a fair wind, so

they raised their mast and hoisted their white sails aloft. As the

sail bellied with the wind the ship flew through the deep blue water,

and the foam hissed against her bows as she sped onward. When they

reached the wide-stretching host of the Achaeans, they drew the vessel

ashore, high and dry upon the sands, set her strong props beneath

her, and went their ways to their own tents and ships.

 

But Achilles abode at his ships and nursed his anger. He went not

to the honourable assembly, and sallied not forth to fight, but gnawed

at his own heart, pining for battle and the war-cry.

 

Now after twelve days the immortal gods came back in a body to Olympus,

and Jove led the way. Thetis was not unmindful of the charge her son

had laid upon her, so she rose from under the sea and went through

great heaven with early morning to Olympus, where she found the mighty

son of Saturn sitting all alone upon its topmost ridges. She sat herself

down before him, and with her left hand seized his knees, while with

her right she caught him under the chin, and besought him, saying-

 

“Father Jove, if I ever did you service in word or deed among the

immortals, hear my prayer, and do honour to my son, whose life is

to be cut short so early. King Agamemnon has dishonoured him by taking

his prize and keeping her. Honour him then yourself, Olympian lord

of counsel, and grant victory to the Trojans, till the Achaeans give

my son his due and load him with riches in requital.”

 

Jove sat for a while silent, and without a word, but Thetis still

kept firm hold of his knees, and besought him a second time. “Incline

your head,” said she, “and promise me surely, or else deny me- for

you have nothing to fear- that I may learn how greatly you disdain

me.”

 

At this Jove was much troubled and answered, “I shall have trouble

if you set me quarrelling with Juno, for she will provoke me with

her taunting speeches; even now she is always railing at me before

the other gods and accusing me of giving aid to the Trojans. Go back

now, lest she should find out. I will consider the matter, and will

bring it about as wish. See, I incline my head that you believe me.

This is the most solemn that I can give to any god. I never recall

my word, or deceive, or fail to do what I say, when I have nodded

my head.”

 

As he spoke the son of Saturn bowed his dark brows, and the ambrosial

locks swayed on his immortal head, till vast Olympus reeled.

 

When the pair had thus laid their plans, they parted- Jove to his

house, while the goddess quitted the splendour of Olympus, and plunged

into the depths of the sea. The gods rose from their seats, before

the coming of their sire. Not one of them dared to remain sitting,

but all stood up as he came among them. There, then, he took his seat.

But Juno, when she saw him, knew that he and the old merman’s daughter,

silver-footed Thetis, had been hatching mischief, so she at once began

to upbraid him. “Trickster,” she cried, “which of the gods have you

been taking into your counsels now? You are always settling matters

in secret behind my back, and have never yet told me, if you could

help it, one word of your intentions.”

 

“Juno,” replied the sire of gods and men, “you must not expect to

be informed of all my counsels. You are my wife, but you would find

it hard to understand them. When it is proper for you to hear, there

is no one, god or man, who will be told sooner, but when I mean to

keep a matter to myself, you must not pry nor ask questions.”

 

“Dread son of Saturn,” answered Juno, “what are you talking about?

I? Pry and ask questions? Never. I let you have your own way in everything.

Still, I have a strong misgiving that the old merman’s daughter Thetis

has been talking you over, for she was with you and had hold of your

knees this self-same morning. I believe, therefore, that you have

been promising her to give glory to Achilles, and to kill much people

at the ships of the Achaeans.”

 

“Wife,” said Jove, “I can do nothing but you suspect me and find it

out. You will take nothing by it, for I shall only dislike you the

more, and it will go harder with you. Granted that it is as you say;

I mean to have it so; sit down and hold your tongue as I bid you for

if I once begin to lay my hands about you, though all heaven were

on your side it would profit you nothing.”

 

On this Juno was frightened, so she curbed her stubborn will and sat

down in silence. But the heavenly beings were disquieted throughout

the house of Jove, till the cunning workman Vulcan began to try and

pacify his mother Juno. “It will be intolerable,” said he, “if you

two fall to wrangling and setting heaven in an uproar about a pack

of mortals. If such ill counsels are to prevail, we shall have no

pleasure at our banquet. Let me then advise my mother- and she must

herself know that it will be better- to make friends with my dear

father Jove, lest he again scold her and disturb our feast. If the

Olympian Thunderer wants to hurl us all from our seats, he can do

so, for he is far the strongest, so give him fair words, and he will

then soon be in a good humour with us.”

 

As he spoke, he took a double cup of nectar, and placed it in his

mother’s hand. “Cheer up, my dear mother,” said he, “and make the

best of it. I love you dearly, and should be very sorry to see you

get a thrashing; however grieved I might be, I could not help for

there is no standing against Jove. Once before when I was trying to

help you, he caught me by the foot and flung me from the heavenly

threshold. All day long from morn till eve, was I falling, till at

sunset I came to ground in the island of Lemnos, and there I lay,

with very little life left in me, till the Sintians came and tended

me.”

 

Juno smiled at this, and as she smiled she took the cup from her son’s

hands. Then Vulcan drew sweet nectar from the mixing-bowl, and served

it round among the gods, going from left to right; and the blessed

gods laughed out a loud applause as they saw him ing bustling about

the heavenly mansion.

 

Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun they feasted,

and every one had his full share, so that all were satisfied. Apollo

struck his lyre, and the Muses lifted up their sweet voices, calling

and answering one another. But when the sun’s glorious light had faded,

they went home to bed, each in his own abode, which lame Vulcan with

his consummate skill had fashioned for them. So Jove, the Olympian

Lord of Thunder, hied him to the bed in which he always slept; and

when he had got on to it he went to sleep, with Juno of the golden

throne by his side.

In 2 Samuel Chapter 24 verses 15-25 another plague story is told:

115So YHWH sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men. 16And when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, YHWH repented of the evil, and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of YHWH was by the threshing floor of Arau’nah the Jeb’usite. 17Then David spoke to YHWH when he saw the angel who was smiting the people, and said, “Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let thy hand, I pray thee, be against me and against my father’s house.”

Sacrifice of Atonement. 18And Gad came that day to David, and said to him, “Go up, rear an altar to YHWH on the threshing floor of Arau’nah the Jeb’usite.” 19So David went up at Gad’s word, as YHWH commanded. 20And when Arau’nah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him; and Arau’nah went forth, and did obeisance to the king with his face to the ground. 21And Arau’nah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor of you, in order to build an altar to YHWH, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22Then Arau’nah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him; here are the oxen for the burnt offering, and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23All this, O king, Arau’nah gives to the king.” And Arau’nah said to the king, “YHWH your Lord accept you.” 24But the king said to Arau’nah, “No, but I will buy it of you for a price; I will not offer burnt offerings to YHWH my YHWH which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25And David built there an altar to YHWH, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So YHWH heeded supplications for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

The sacrifice made was essentially a scapegoat. The phenomenon of a scapegoat was well developed. The idea was that the scapegoat would suffer the pain due all others; that is, experiencing the pain of the sacrifice in the stead of all others. It is an easy way to “show” repentence without sacrificing something of your own and letting the scapegoat do it for you; in other words, the origins of a long pattern of strident hypocrisy in religion. Leviticus 16 shows how the Judaic belief was that the goat could be the scapegoat.

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

Premise 3 is queer but, this author believes, correct. In this case this Christian belief will never even surface until you try to reconcile two story lines within Christianity. And these two story lines are:

1.)   Jesus as a man

2.)   Jesus as God

If you reconcile these story lines you must accept that God has appeased himself by sacrificing himself; which is a conundrum. It is debatable whether or not the Trinity doctrine is an attempt to reconcile these two story lines. The Trinity Doctrine was a way of representing three salient characteristics of YHWH; taken to a sufficient extreme to consider these traits as entities unto themselves. The three parts were Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each had a role which served, at least in part, to define it. The Son was the Word, brought to Earth in the person of the Christ; to mean the voice of YHWH. It was what spoke on YHWH’s behalf; inasmuch as it was the Word itself. The Spirit of YHWH was YHWH’s judgment, or the act of carrying out judgment and its action was likened to the breath of YHWH. Finally, the Father was the “source” from which the Word and Judgment flowed. So, as you can see, this does not necessarily resolve the duality of man and god because “The Word” is arguably something more than just a man incarnate. The man, Jesus, was simply the vessel, the Grail, or the carrier of the Word. This is a common misunderstanding of the Trinity. In any case, premise 3 is a genuine problem that doesn’t just go away with further theological scrutiny, as we’ve just done here. Dawkins is, in this author’s view, correct on this premise.

But if this was the case, then what was the Trinity all about, really? It is this author’s view that the Trinity was in reality one of many pieces of a larger jigsaw puzzle of fraud and deceit. To truly understand the Trinity we start by introducing the concept of perspective. For the rulers and potentates that ruled large populations and who created this and other religions – a topic that will be developed further in this work – the Trinity was analogous to how they operate when acting as ruler:

As a shortest form formula, the Trinity “Doctrine” is analogous to an encoded version of the political formula for ruling large populations.

We can mentally substitute the King for the Father who delegates authority to law makers, the Word; and the Spirit for judgment with the Courts set up by the Kings.

Now, from the perspective of the potentates; they are truly separate and distinct to the extent that the King desires, up to and including full autonomy at his will, but never anything other than just the King himself by virtue of all its powers being delegated. At this level there is no logical contradiction

This is the formula in its simplest form for governance of large populations, the social contract at its most crude level where right of conquest determined who the King was. The man with the biggest stick and who was left standing at the top of the hill was the “elect”; no ballot recounting required.

But now, when we take the perspective of the subject – or later the citizen – the fraud becomes clear: because of this pre-existing relationship it may be possible for the King to slip into the shadows and away from public eyes, leaving just the law makers and the courts visible to the public; who thence think the system of government democratic but who in reality are rendered the mark and governed by a dictator.

Regardless of the exact path taken, that is what the French Revolution – and those that followed it – was all about; that is what western neo-liberal “democracy” really is. Religion is politics; has its origins in it, and was created for it. To understand history, law, economics and politics; that is, power, one must start with religion, its primary weapon. The Trinity is, as far as the subject is concerned, coded mockery of the adherents that parrot it. While this obviously may seem weakly supported at this point, we believe it will become clearer in the fullness of this work. A topic encountered early on in our discovery, the Trinity may for the reader prefigure a colossal paradigm shift. Depending on the personality of the adherent, the deconverter should make a case by case judgement call as to how much elaboration of this topic is warranted. But given the adumbration cast from religion to politics that refuses to submerge, the deconverter may find it difficult if not impossible to avoid this topic.

Especially Problematic Errors and Omissions in Christian Texts

How does an all-knowing god inspire human beings to write holy texts that contain so many very basic errors? Rather than having been divinely inspired, Occam’s Razor suggests that these errors are the result of multiple individuals writing these texts with no divine guidance and fallibly overlooking details from other books written by other authors; thus leading to the errors we see below. This should be framed as a question to the adherent for each anomaly, asking them to explain why you shoud not accept the simpler explanation of human error. Point out that the simpler answer is the more general answer, while the more complex is the more specific answer. This then allows you to associate the question with the conjunction fallacy. The point here is not to nitpick over details but to point out that these small errors indicate the hand of human beings, not an infallible god that is inspiring them. Those errors producing the biggest red flags will be those errors in which the error is the essence of the message itself. In that case, if one asserts that it is divinely inspired, it necessarily points uniquely and directly to the god as the source of the error; which is impossible. Error numbers five and seven satisfy this condition. This should be posed to the adherent in the Socratic style, having them read all of the referenced passages. Special emphasis should be given to 5 and 7.

Christian Errors and Omissions

It is advisable to simply walk through each of these with the adherent by asking them to explain them, then challenging the answer with more questions to challenge that answer.

1.)   Old Testament:- King Saul’s throne age is mixed up. In 1 Samuel 13:1 (1 Kings 13:1 in RC Douay) some modern translations don’t give numbers, but put in either ellipsis marks “…” or “[?]”.  Some translations simply gloss over the problem and provide what appear to be arbitrary numbers, such as seen below in the EEV translation. The old manuscripts are confused.  The Roman Catholic Douay is an absurd translation (1 Kings 13:1): “Saul was a child of one year when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel.”:

11Saml013Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty-two years over Israel.

2.)   Numbers contradiction.  Read 2 Samuel 10:18 (Old RC bibles: 2 Kings 10:18) “David killed seven hundred of their charioteers.”  But in 1 Chronicles 19:18 (1 Paralipomenon 19:18) “David killed seven thousand of their charioteers”:

2 Samuel: 118And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians the men of seven hundred chariots, and forty thousand horsemen, and wounded Shobach the commander of their army, so that he died there.

1 Chronicles:118And the Syrians fled before Israel; and David slew of the Syrians the men of seven thousand chariots, and forty thousand foot soldiers, and killed also Shophach the commander of their army.

We also see an error in whether or not Shophach was killed or wounded; but this does not necessarily lead to a contradiction.

3.)   Measurement of a huge round bowl for worship.  This is called a “laver” or “sea” in different translations.  Read 1 Kings 7:23 (3 Kings 7:23 in old R.C. bibles):

123Then he made the molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference.

But the ratio of merit is π ≈ 3.14, which is approximately 22/7, the circumference would not have been 30 cubits, but approximately 31 and 3/7 cubits (31.41592654… cubits).  A cubit is variously estimated to have been from 17 to 22 inches, or ~ 43 to ~ 56 centimetres. Could this have just been an approximation? Why would a god give an inexact figure when for such a being an exact figure is, in terms of effort and ability, identical?

4.)   Was King Jehoiachin eighteen, or eight? Compare 2 Kings 24:8 (4 Kings 24:8) with 2 Chronicles 36:9:

2 Kings:18Jehoi’achin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehush’ta the daughter of Elna’than of Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles:19Jehoi’achin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of YHWH.

5.)   New Testament:- Thirty pieces of silver – Prophet Jeremiah was mistakenly put into Matthew 27:9-10 !  The supposed prophecy of the betrayer Judas returning 30 pieces of silver, and the purchase of a field, in Matthew’s Gospel 27: 9-10, is given in the 1611 British scholars’ King James Bible, i.e., the Authorised Version (and similarly in the 1582 Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims version):
However, the prophecy wasn’t really from “Jeremiah,” “Jeremy,” or “Jeremias” !  Read on:
A London 1956 edition of the Catholic Douay quietly footnoted the clause containing the error (Jeremias in Catholic circles then) as “Zach 11:12” (Zach. for Zacharias was known as Zech. for Zechariah in other Churches’ bibles.)
According to a footnote to the Catholic Ronald Knox’s 1957 version, “This seems to be, not a direct quotation, but a combination of Jer. 32. 7-9 with Zach. 11. 12-13.  … However, in the Jeremiah/Jeremias passage the field cost 17 silver shekels, not 30!  The Zechariah passage deals with a prophetic action in which someone is paid “wages” or His “price” of 30 shekels of silver, Yehovah God somehow thinking this was the price some sheep-dealers had valued Him, and the coins at His order being thrown into the Temple for the smelter – or other variants (see below).
Other translations that have tried to quietly sidestep the New Testament mistake include: The Good News Bible 1966/1976 (p 927);  The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures 1984 revision (p 1254);  and,The New Jerusalem Bible Pocket Edition 1990 (p 1180).
Metzger’s 1992 book says that St Augustine (354-430 A.D.) tried to claim that Jeremiah did not appear in all the manuscripts, “and that some of them state simply that it was spoken ‘by the prophet’.”

Matthew:19Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as YHWH directed me.”

Zechariah in first person: Zechariah:112Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver.

Jeremiah:17Behold, Han’amel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, `Buy my field which is at An’athoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’ 8Then Han’amel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of YHWH, and said to me, `Buy my field which is at An’athoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of YHWH. 9“And I bought the field at An’athoth from Han’amel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.

This is a tricky passage. The issue with it is that it amounts to a conflation, or confusion of the identity of Jeremiah with Judas. In the phrase, “… the price of him on whom …”, the writer is referring to “him” in the New Testament context as Judas, but in the Old Testament context to which the writer is explicitly referring it indicates that “him” is Jeremiah because it was Jeremiah, not Judas, on “… whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel.” Additionally, the difference in the price quoted suggests that the quote in Matthew is in fact referring to Judas while the quote in Jeremiah is referring to Jeremiah, as one would expect. But what this does confirm is that the author is indeed clearly speaking of Judas in the New Testament, even though the description of his situation applies uniquely to Jeremiah. Given the subtlety of the error, it is not clear to this author whether this represents an error of the author or the translator. However, the comments found in various Bible translations suggest that it is indeed an author error. If so, then this is a very serious problem for the veracity of the New Testament. This is because such an error is too characteristic of a human error and too uncharacteristic of a god for this passage to be anything other than something written by a human being with no divine guidance whatsoever. The identities of the two men in this passage constitute too much of the overall meaning of the passage for it not to have been sourced directly to the presumed god; thereby rendering this god fallible.

Thus, the divine inspiration of this passage is disproven by contradiction.

And if one passage is not divinely inspired, then any passage need not be. You should ask the adherent at this point to explain to you how you would then know that any other pericope is divinely inspired by their one, true god.

It gets worse. The use of silver had been discontinued some 300 years before Jesus’ time. Furthermore, currency was not “weighed out”, it was minted. Clearly this text was fabricated from fiction. Specifically, this indicates forgery by a person removed from the time of Jesus by several hundred years since any such forger would almost certainly be well educated. Only the separation of time could cause an error regarding the silver and minted currency: It was not known until the last 200 years that silver was not used during Jesus’ time.

6.)   The “virgin” prophecy gave the name Emmanuel, but what happened? Isaiah 7:14 and compare with Isaiah 9:6 and Matthew 1:21 and Matthew 1:22-23 and Luke 1:31 and Luke 2:21. How can the prophecy be “fulfilled,” when instead of “Emmanuel” a completely different name, “Jesus”, was ordered by an angel to Joseph (or Mary)?  And read the next verses in Isaiah – did the child born to Mary feed on curds and honey?  Most Christians just assume that this means that Emmanuel is just another name for Jesus. But, of course, without some explicit assertion of that fact in the ancient text this is clearly too pat and convenient. It is merely an attempt to explain away an obvious contradiction.

Isaiah:114Therefore YHWH himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman’u-el. 15He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

Isaiah:16For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty YHWH, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Matthew:121she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what YHWH had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, YHWH is with us).

Luke:131And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Luke:1The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus. 21And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

7.)   There is also the other more important matter of the word shown in the New Testament as “virgin,” (which is used in several places) whereas the Old Testament Hebrew word meant “maid,” i.e., an unmarried female. This represents another very specific kind of problem possibly not evident on the surface. It is human error of a most subtle kind that belies the forgery of the entire New Testament, pretty much. If the reader will recall, in each of the birth stories of Jesus the woman, Mary, is clearly being addressed by an angel and is further described as a virgin. But the Old Testament word for maiden is incorrectly placed in that very same text. Simply arguing that the word “virgin” meant that Mary was in fact a maiden won’t wash, since the context of the passages show that the author’s did in fact intend to make Mary a virgin in the narrative. And if the entire narrative were forged to make Mary out to be a virgin instead of a maiden then, a) why did the forger misuse the word “virgin” and b) what are the odds that such a forger would have stopped with just that? What almost every commentator on this subject has completely missed is the simple fact that this ineluctably requires that the author of this passage was not a native speaker of the Hebrew language contemporaneous to the events. This narrative was written by someone who, no matter how well educated they were, could not have realized that the word “virgin” was being used incorrectly since their education in Hebrew was contemporaneous to a different time period in which knowledge of this difference was not known. This is another smoking gun less noticed. It necessarily follows that: The author lived in a time separated from the purported time of events by a considerable span of time, hundreds of years at least. Taking the most conservative and naïve view; if just forging the word “virgin”, then the volume of forgery indicated solely by this fact is limited. However, if the entire virgin birth narrative were being forged, substantial portions of New Testament scripture are involved directly. The author of this narrative used the term “virgin” deliberately and with foresight to mislead and further an account the author knew to be false.

  1. 1.     The original author and creator of this narrative lived in a time separated from the purported time of events by a considerable span of time, hundreds of years at least.
  2. 2.     The original author and creator of this narrative used the term “virgin” deliberately and with foresight to mislead and further an account the author knew to be false.

An ugly picture of Christianity is building; there is much more.

8.)   Are women allowed to pray aloud or prophesy in the faith meetings?  And veiled?  Well, 1 Corinthians 11:5 says they must be veiled if they pray or prophesy; the latter is most likely to be in the company of other people.  Yet 1 Corinthians 14:34 says that they are not to speak in the congregation, and are to be “in subjection” (Is this defying Galatians 3:28 ?).
Veils, hair length, church art:  Is it authentic Jesus teaching to discuss ordering women to wear veils, at 1 Corinthians 11:10 (using the term “a sign of authority”) and 1 Corinthians 11:13, and about hair lengths for women and men, at 1 Corinthians 11:14-15? If men ought to wear their hair cut short, where did the painters, sculptors, and theatrical people for centuries nearly all get the idea that Jesus had long hair? This particular “error” is weak, in this author’s opinion, but it is noted for completeness. In reality, most of this is highly subjective opinion in interpretation of text. As for the long hair, nothing can be drawn from that observationa lone.

1 Corinthians: 15but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head — it is the same as if her head were shaven.

1 Corinthians: 134the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says.

Galatians: 128There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians: 110That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.

1 Corinthians: 113Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to YHWH with her head uncovered? 14Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her pride? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

9.)   What should the high priest’s name have been in Mark 2:26? Contrast with 1 Samuel 21:1-7.

Mark: 126how he entered the house of YHWH, when Abi’athar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?”

1 Samuel: 11Saml021Then came David to Nob to Ahim’elech the priest; and Ahim’elech came to meet David trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?”

The Holy Bread. 2And David said to Ahim’elech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, `Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. 3Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” 4And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread at hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5And David answered the priest, “Of a truth women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy, even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?” 6So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before YHWH, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. 7Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before YHWH; his name was Do’eg the E’domite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen.

This is also a weak argument, in this author’s opinion.

10.) Twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus:

Matthew: 12The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Mark: 114And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach 15and have authority to cast out demons: 16Simon whom he surnamed Peter; 17James the son of Zeb’edee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Bo-aner’ges, that is, sons of thunder; 18Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Luke: 113And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; 14Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

A comparative table shows the inconsistent naming scheme:

# Gospel   of Matthew Gospel   of Mark Gospel   of Luke
1 Simon AKA   Peter Simon   Peter Simon AKA   Peter
2 Andrew   brother of 1 Andrew Andrew b/o   1
3 James s/o   Zebedee James s/o   Zebedee James
4 John b/o 3 John   Boanerges b/o 5 John
5 ? James   Boanerges Judas s/o   James
6 Phillip Phillip Phillip
7 Bartholomew Bartholomew Bartholomew
8 Matthew   the tax collector Matthew Matthew
9 Thomas Thomas Thomas
10 James s/o   Alphaes & Thad James s/o   Alphaes & Thad James s/o   Alphaes
11 Simon the Canaanean Simon the   Canaanean Simon the   Zealot
12 Judas   Iscariot the traitor Judas   Iscariot the traitor Judas Iscariot the traitor

Key:

     
Probable Match Possible Match No Match

If inspired by an infallible god why would this god allow the human writer to generate three different, mutually exlcusive identifications of the 12 apostles who would serve as the basis of the Bishopric for all time that followed? By the conjunction rule, this appears to be better explained as the result of human fallibility; to wit, a lack of knowledge of the identity of all 12 disciples between three different authors or witnesses. This is a classic example of how hard it is for people to “get their story straight”. It indicates that the stories are fabricated (by the conjunction rule).

11.) Sequencing Problems? Temptations of Jesus.  Matthew 4:5-7 indicates that the second temptation of Jesus is Satan’s enticement to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple – relying on God’s angels to save Him.  Luke 4:5-12 makes the temptation of “world empire” number two and the pinnacle temptation number three:

Matthew: 15Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of YHWH, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,’ and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, `You shall not tempt YHWH your Lord.'”

Luke: 15And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered him, “It is written, `You shall worship YHWH your Lord, and him only shall you serve.'” 9And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of YHWH, throw yourself down from here; 10for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,’ 11and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 12And Jesus answered him, “It is said, `You shall not tempt YHWH your Lord.'”

This is a classic example of how hard it is for people to “get their story straight”. It indicates that the stories are fabricated (by the conjunction rule).

12.) At what hour, of what day, was Jesus crucified?  The first three gospels say he was crucified at the third hour (see Mark 14:25) on Passover, and read Matthew 27:45 and Luke 24:44 which say that while he was suffering darkness came over all the land from the sixth to the ninth hour.  However, John’s gospel 19:14 says he was still standing trial about the sixth hour on the Day of Preparation.  (The “third hour” possibly meant about 9a.m., sixth was noon, and ninth was about 3p.m.).

Mark: 125Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of YHWH.” 26And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew: 1The Death of Jesus. 45Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

Luke: 144Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

John: 114Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

This is a classic example of how hard it is for people to “get their story straight”. It indicates that the stories are fabricated (by the conjunction rule).

13.) What words were written at Pilate’s orders above Jesus’ head at his execution? See Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38 and John 19:19. The inscription was in three languages, according to the one valid text on that point (John 19:20) – Hebrew, the Roman language, and Greek.  But that’s no letout – the Bible has four, not three, variants.

Matthew: 137And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”

Mark: 126And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.”

Luke: 138There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

John: 119Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

This is a classic example of how hard it is for people to “get their story straight”. It indicates that the stories are fabricated (by the conjunction rule).

14.) What were the last words of Jesus before he died? Matthew 27:46 and 50, Mark 15:34 and 37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30:

Matthew: 146And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is, “My YHWH, my YHWH, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Matthew: 150And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Mark: 134And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “E’lo-i, E’lo-i, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” which means, “My YHWH, my YHWH, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Mark: 137And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last.

Luke: 146Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

John: 130When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

This is a classic example of how hard it is for people to “get their story straight”. It indicates that the stories are fabricated (by the conjunction rule).

15.) Only Matthew and Luke mention a virgin birth. No other author, including Paul, mentions this dramatic and incredible event.

16.) The author of Matthew’s blunder involves what is known as Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (if you believe Mark, Luke or John) or riding on two donkeys (if you believe Matthew). In Matthew 21:1-7, two animals are mentioned in three of the verses, so this cannot be explained away as a copying error. And Matthew has Jesus riding on both animals at the same time, for verse 7 literally says, “… and he sat thereon.”

The Entry into Jerusalem. Mathw021And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth’phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If any one says anything to you, you shall say, `YHWH has need of them,’ and he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfil the prophecy of the prophet, saying, 5“Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.

Why does Matthew have Jesus riding on two donkeys at the same time? Apparently it was because he misread Zechariah 9:9 which reads in part, “humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.”

Restoration under the Messiah. 9Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.

Anyone familiar with Old Testament Hebrew would know that the word translated “and” in this passage does not indicate another animal but is used in the sense of “even” (which is used in many translations) for emphasis. The Old Testament often uses parallel phrases which refer to the same thing for emphasis, but Matthew was evidently not familiar with this usage. Although the result is rather humorous, it is also very revealing. It demonstrates conclusively that (the original author of) Matthew fabricated events in Jesus’ life to fulfill Old Testament prophecies, even if it meant creating an absurd event.

Characteristic 2

For characteristic 2 we can lead with Hinduism’s caste system. Allegedly Holy Hindu scriptures tell us that because all castes were created by the Hindu god Porsche, your function in life depended on what part of this god’s body you came from. In this story, from the god’s mouth came the priestly class, from his arms came the ruling warrior class, from his thighs came the farmers and herders and from his feet came the servants. Servants were born to serve the top three castes. Those in the bottom caste are warned by the gods that they need to mind their manners around the upper gods:

From Muni Smriti 8

verse 270: A once-born man (a Sudra), who insults a twice-born man with gross

invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin.

verse 271: If he mentions the names and castes (gati) of the (twice-born) with

contumely, an iron nail, ten fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his

mouth.

verse 272: If he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot

oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears.

Below servants, the untouchables were created, but not from the body of Porsche. According to the Vishnu Smrti, untouchables who touch upper castes are to be killed. This cruel and arbitrary system is a clue that this religion was created by human beings.

In parallel to the “other” religions, we note that characteristic 2 also applies to the adherent’s religion identically:

Leviticus 21:16-23 God shuns those with disabilities:

1Irregularities. 16And YHWH said to Moses, 17“Say to Aaron, None of your descendants throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his MasterYHWH. 18For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles; 21no man of the descendants of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer YHWH’s offerings by fire; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his MasterYHWH

Deuteronomy 23:2 God alleged bias against children of unmarried women and their descendents as well:

1“No bastard shall enter the assembly of YHWH; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of YHWH.”

Deuteronomy 20:10-15 Journey to promised land indicates how barbaric this God is:

1Cities of the Enemy. 10“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. 12But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; 13and when YHWH your Lord gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, 14but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which YHWH your Lord has given you. 15Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here.

Numbers 31:17-18. How God wants Israelites to treat women from conquered cities is barbaric:

117Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Numbers 31:32-35 War booty is described and is barbaric:

1Amount of Booty. 32Now the booty remaining of the spoil that the men of war took was: six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, 33seventy-two thousand cattle, 34sixty-one thousand asses, 35and thirty-two thousand persons in all, women who had not known man by lying with him.

Deuteronomy 20:16 Total genocide is commanded and is barbaric:

116But in the cities of these peoples that YHWH your Lord gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes,…”

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

[Christian A requires Islamic examples here]

Characteristic 3

Characteristic 3 involves considerable textual analysis. So, the next step is where the dissonance for the adherent will begin to rapidly intensify. Here we will pick up with the adherents own religious texts and begin to examine them in the same light as we just examined the above religions. In Version A we will use the Judeo-Christian text as our example.

In parallel to the “other” religions, we note that characteristic 3 also applies to the adherent’s religion identically. For examples of a religion that is pieced together from others we know that non Judeo-Christian religions have examples of the same stories appearing in the Bible. These include the pre-Biblical flood and Ark stories, pre-Christian virgin birth stories, pre-literate or pre-Biblical stories of human sacrifice and how it could appease angry gods, pre-Biblical notions of an afterlife and Pagan origins of Christianities notion of the rival spirit; i.e. Satan. Keep in mind with any borrowed narrative inquiry, the questions you need to ask the adherent are of the kind; “what is it about your god’s version of this narrative that would convince me, or that would just be convincing, that it wasn’t borrowed, just like in the examples following”? And you can review the following “other” cases after each of the examples of the adherent’s religion that follow. This will reinforce the view that the borrowing suggested in fact occurred.

The “Other Cases”

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

Virgin Birth Stories

Pagan virgin birth stories were acknowledged by early Church Fathers and they reconciled these Pagan stories by referring to them as plagiarism by anticipation or diabolical mimicry; today known as pre-plagiarism. Thus the “devil” planted these early stories to undermine the credibility of the later Christian stories. We will return to pre-plagiarism later.

Greek mythology contains most of the pre-Christian virgin birth stories. The Illiad and the Odyssey (by Homer) contain virgin birth stories. In book 11 of the Odyssey the god Poseidon impregnates a young virgin Tyro:

“… Thus did we converse, and anon Proserpine sent up the ghosts of the

wives and daughters of all the most famous men. They gathered in crowds

about the blood, and I considered how I might question them severally.

In the end I deemed that it would be best to draw the keen blade that

hung by my sturdy thigh, and keep them from all drinking the blood

at once. So they came up one after the other, and each one as I questioned

her told me her race and lineage.

 

“The first I saw was Tyro. She was daughter of Salmoneus and wife

of Cretheus the son of Aeolus. She fell in love with the river Enipeus

who is much the most beautiful river in the whole world. Once when

she was taking a walk by his side as usual, Neptune, disguised as

her lover, lay with her at the mouth of the river, and a huge blue

wave arched itself like a mountain over them to hide both woman and

god, whereon he loosed her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber.

When the god had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in

his own and said, ‘Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of

the gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this

time twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so now

go home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.’

 

“Then he dived under the sea, and she in due course bore Pelias and

Neleus, who both of them served Jove with all their might. Pelias

was a great breeder of sheep and lived in Iolcus, but the other lived

in Pylos. The rest of her children were by Cretheus, namely, Aeson,

Pheres, and Amythaon, who was a mighty warrior and charioteer.

And Achilles of the Illiad is the result of a mixed marriage between a god and a human:

“…Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans…”

“…So be it also with yourselves, for this is the more excellent

way. Therefore, Agamemnon, though you be strong, take not this girl

away, for the sons of the Achaeans have already given her to Achilles;

and you, Achilles, strive not further with the king, for no man who

by the grace of Jove wields a sceptre has like honour with Agamemnon. You are strong, and have a goddess for your mother …”

Zeus impregnated a virgin princess Dana by visiting her in the form of a ray of sunlight, described by Homer as a shower of gold; resulting in the son Perseus:

“…As for himself, he slept in an

inner room of the house, with the queen his wife by his side.

 

Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Nestor

left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and polished

marble that stood in front of his house. Here aforetime sat Neleus,

peer of gods in counsel, but he was now dead, and had gone to the

house of Hades; so Nestor sat in his seat, scept

re in hand, as guardian

of the public weal. His sons as they left their rooms gathered round

him, Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, and Thrasymedes; the sixth

son was Pisistratus, and when Telemachus joined them they made him

sit with them. Nestor then addressed them…”

Perseus went on to slay the monster Medussa. Dionysus was also a half god and half human whose father was Zeus and whose mother was Semele. There were at least 20 more.

In Roman mythology Romulus and Remus’ mother was a virgin princess (according to Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens):

“…Intimately associated with Mars in his character as god of war, was a goddess called BELLONA, who was evidently the female divinity of battle with one or other of the primitive nations of Italy (most probably the Sabines), and is usually seen accompanying Mars, whose war-chariot she guides. Bellona appears on the battle-field, inspired with mad rage, cruelty, and the love of extermination. She is in full armour, her hair is dishevelled, and she bears a scourge in one hand, and a lance in the other…”

The Zoroastrian symbol

In 7th Century Zoroastrianism there are also virgin birth stories. Here there are 3 messiahs and the virgin mothers were impregnated by swimming in a certain sacred lake that preserved the sperm of the prophet Zoroaster:

“The Holy Zarathushtra will be followed by three great Messengers, in the thousands of years to come. These are actually the sons of Zarathushtra himself, who will be born miraculously to virgin mothers among our Aryan descendants.

“After his righteous marriage, it is said that Zarathushtra went three times unto his wife Havovi, and each time the spiritual seed was caught up by the divinity Neryosangh and carried to the safe keeping of Ava Ardvisur, the Divinity of the waters. Lake Kans in Iran are the waters in which the seeds are preserved, and from these holy waters they would be born in the future – conceived miraculously by three Aryan maidens, who would in different periods of time drink of, or bathe in the waters of the lake.

“In the first of the last three thousand years of the world, before the final Renovation, Shemik-abu is the first such virgin who would come to the Lake. At the age of fifteen, she will bathe in the water and miraculously conceive the son of Zarathushtra – who will be called UKHSHYAT-ERETA (HOSHEDAR), he who will increase Ereta (righteousness).

“At the age of thirty, Hoshedar shall meet with Ahura Mazda face to face and receive a Relevation. Returning from this divine conference, Hoshedar will make the sun stand still in the middle of the sky in the Rapithvanem (noon-day) position – the most excellent and auspicious time as per our Aryan beliefs. The sun will not move for TEN days and nights – he will does this to convince humanity of his Great Mission. A thousand years – a millenium of time now will fall under his influence, during which Righteousness increases in the minds and hearts of men. The world moves more and more towards perfection in this time, and two-thirds of the Aryans in Iran will be righteous again. Poverty, and slaughter of cattle will decrease – the very presence of the Aryan Prophet helping to remove the wolfish nature in man.

“In the second of the last three millenia, Shapir-abu bathes in the waters of Lake Kans and conceives the second son of Zarathushtra. Although she is a virgin and has never known man, she becomes pregnant and gives birth to the second Saviour UKHSHYAT-NEMANGH (Hoshedar-mah) – he who will increase piety in the world.

“At the age of Thirty, Hoshedar-mah confers with Ahura Mazda and receives a divine relevation. He then goes out into the world, and announces his Prophethood by making the sun stand still for TWENTY days and nights in the noon-day position. And then his work starts.

“In the end time it is a different matter altogether, because then evil will be at it’s lowest ebb. At this time, when the world is ready and waiting for the last of the Saviours, a virgin named Gobak-abu will conceive the third and final son of Zarathushtra. At the age of fifteen, she will become pregnant after drinking of the water of Lake Kans in Iran. She shall give birth, in the realm of Khvaniras to the most glorious ASTVAT- ERETA (Soshyos) – his very name signalling that he is the final Saviour to come: for it means `He who will establish ERETA, righteousness on this earth’!

“At the age of thirty, Soshyos will be awarded the Final Relevation from Ahura Mazda – the same pristine message that had been given to Zarathushtra millenia ago, in all it’s entirety, will be revealed to him. All the works (NASKS) of our religion that had been lost in the Iron age will come back at a stroke.

“He will make the sun then stand still in the noon-day position (Rapithvanem) for THIRTY days and nights, proclaiming his divine mandate to the people of the world. He has tremendous supernatural power – so much so that man’s evil nature itself will be eradicated. He will then cause the Resurrection to happen.

“His body would be as glorious as the Sun – men will recognize Him as the Final Saviour instantly. He will live on spiritual food alone, with an aura of Kingly Glory around him.

“It is said that he looks around with the power of six eyes – it is he who forsees the final destruction of the evil spirit. He is the greatest World-Renovator of all, come to resurrect the dead to life – and to bring about the final Perfection of the world.

“The spiritual beings, the YAZATAS (worshipful ones) will influence mankind to co-operate with Soshyos in the great task of routing the evil Druj: this will be accomplished in fifty-seven years in all. Soshyos will also be helped by immortal Aryans who have lived in their bodies down the ages. These secret benefactors of mankinds will number more than a thousand, and they include Peshotan, Ashavazd, Tus, Giv, Aghrerath, Urvatadnar, Narsih and others. Peshotan (Chitra-mahan) will come with a hundred and fifty disciples, to help Soshyos. Kaikhushru, the great Aryan King will rise from the dead himself, to assist Soshyos in the task of raising the dead. And, there will also be fifteen men and fifteen women living in the world in those days who will come forward to help Soshyos.

And in ancient Greece corporeal examples of virgin birth are aplenty. For the Greeks, divine and human parentage were not mutually exclusive, and according to Norden, the miraculous stories of the origin of the Caesars belong to “the Hellenistic virgin motif.” (as cited by Boslooper–where (?)) Augustus was said to have had a miraculous birth and a childhood filled with many portents and signs (?).

“The Emperor Augustus was praised as the Savior of the world…(but) the idea of Savior was not unique or original with Augustus himself. Before him the same title was given Seleucid and other Hellenistic kings. Throughout this period there were frequent longings for a savior from the present troubles.”

In Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38 we have a similar story:

The Birth of Jesus. 18Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered this, behold, an angel of YHWH appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what YHWH had spoken by the prophet: 23“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, YHWH is with us). 24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of YHWH commanded him; he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus. 26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from YHWH to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, YHWH is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with YHWH. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and Lord YHWH will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” 35And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of YHWH. 36And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For with YHWH nothing will be impossible.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of YHWH; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

The question to pose to the adherent is how did the Pagans get these stories prior to around 4 BCE? Christian apologists have generally offered four answers to this dilemma:

3.)   This does not affect, or has no relevance to, my relationship with Jesus (the “I don’t care argument”)

4.)   God revealed hints of his truth to the Pagans ahead of time (really a “new age”, not Christian, religion answer)

5.)   The parallels are just coincidental since the stories are dissimilar (a good argument).

6.)   Satanic pre-plagiarism (the best argument of all)

The first two objections defeat the purpose of the conversation, which was for the adherent to attempt to proselytize the Christian faith. Therefore, we eliminate this objection at the very beginning of the conversation (see the first steps) and refer back to that if this comes up here.

Questions should be posed to the adherent to try to elicit this pattern of objections, at which point you can all agree to summarize it as above. Up to this point we have not really made the case that the virgin birth stories are really all that problematic for Christianity because of objection number 3. However, it motivates the more general response to objection 4 which we will now undertake. And we will see that this response can then be applied more generally than to just the 4th objection to virgin birth duplicate stories.

One of the criteria presented supra for indicating or providing a clue that a religion is made by humans and is not divine was any case where we could find that a story, fact or detail had been borrowed from another religion. We see this with virgin births, to the extent that it is not diminished by 3. In the case of 4, if demonic pre-plagiarism were true then we would have to re-evaluate all religions and ask, for example, if in Sikhism the incorporation of aspects of Islam was also a form of demonic pre-plagiarism. For that reason this argument fails because now the Christian cannot convince me that their religion is the “true” religion as opposed to the “true” religion being the Sikh religion whose Islamic influence was just demonic pre-plagiarism. The key to this tactic is to see that what we are doing is taking explanations offered by one religion and testing them in all to see if it dilutes the force of the argument when applied to all. In this case it clearly does and the argument fails. It is an example of the excessively catch-all explanation for which every religion can escape objection if not challenged.

The same example could be made with Voodoo, which borrows from African religions and Catholicism. Again, if it can be true for Christianity then it can be true for the Voodoo religion, thereby once again obfuscating the one, true religion of god from our ken.

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

Thought Experiment in Insufficient Justification

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“I notice here that an issue of insufficient justification seems to be at work in all these narratives. So, when the Mithraic virgin Semele became pregnant by divine insemination what was the most likely basis upon which people would believe this story, especially when the story was first circulated, long before any religious pressure or mores demanded their belief? The reason I ask this is because it seems clear to me that it had to have been some case of insufficient justification since the adherent of the religion aborning would have no other reason to accept such a story. This would suggest to me that it was first told by an authority figure the early adherents respected and revered. We certainly don’t know what the motive behind Semele’s story was, but before “everybody” believed this fantastic story it had to be broadly accepted in its introduction. And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question for you is, how is this any different than the divine insemination of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus, right?”

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

Thought Experiment in Informational Influence

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“Similar to the next previous thought experiment is the situation that emerges when we consider how people would have received Semele’s story of a virgin birth once the story became well known and insufficient justification allowed it to spread. Here it seems as though Informational Influence would play the larger and more likely role in the further spread of Semele’s virgin insemination story. And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question for you is likewise, how is this any different than the divine insemination of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus, right?”

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

The Afterlife

Three separate stages are identified in the Bible:

1.)   Found in 37 out of 39 of the OT books (non-apocryphal) where there is no mention of an afterlife or that it is specifically denied (from dust we came and to dust we shall return). The secular explanation of this is that the people that wrote the OT passages just did not believe in the afterlife. In all these books the dialogue between God and human beings is one in which reward and punishment is meted out during the life of the adherent, not in any kind of afterlife. Ecclesiastes 3:19-21 definitively states that there is no afterlife and that to dwell on it is human vanity. These were the words of Solomon, one of the Bible’s wisest men. The apologist explanation of this is that …

2.)   Found in 2 out of 39 of the OT books (non-apocryphal); to wit, Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 both say that there is an afterlife. The secular explanation of this is that by the time these books were written the Israelites had been more exposed to other religions that had a doctrine of an afterlife and that it appeared more appealing to them than their own doctrine. Daniel and Isaiah were added last.

3.)   In the NT we find that life after death is brought center stage and is one of the main selling points of Christianity. The secular explanation is that since we find strikingly similar beliefs about judgment day and heaven and hell with the Greeks, Zoroastrians, etc. who predated the Christians by centuries, it is reasonable to assume that the Christian authors were influenced by these earlier religions.

Pagan religions of the Egyptians, Greeks and Zoroastrian all wrote about the afterlife prior to the authorship of Christian Canon. Egypt’s Book of the Dead, a corpus of several works, references a judgment day in the sense that adherents can spend eternity with the gods. In the “Address to the Gods of the TuaT” we read:

Homage to you, O ye who dwell in your Hall of Maati, who have nothing false in your bodies, who live upon Truth, who feed yourselves upon Truth in the presence of Horus who dwelleth in his Disk, deliver ye me from Beba, who feedeth upon the livers of the great ones on the day of the Great Judgment. Grant ye that I may come before you, for I have not committed sin, I have done no act of deceit, I have done no evil thing, and I have not borne [false] witness; therefore let nothing [evil] be done to me. I have lived upon truth, I have fed upon truth, I have performed the ordinances of men, and the things which gratify the gods. I have propitiated the god by doing his will, I have given bread to the hungry man, and water to him that was athirst, and apparel to the naked man, and a ferry-boat to him that had no boat. I have made propitiatory offerings and given cakes to the gods, and the “things which appear at the word” to the Spirits. Deliver then ye me, protect then ye me, and make ye no report against me in the presence [of the Great God]. I am pure in respect of my mouth, and I am clean in respect of my hands, therefore let it be said unto me by those who shall behold me: “Come in peace, Come in peace.” For I have heard that great word which the Sahu spake to the CAT, in the House of Hapt-ra. I have borne witness to Her- f-ha-f, and he hath given a decision [concerning me]. I have seen the things over which the Persea tree which is in Rasta, spreadeth its branches. I have made petitions to the gods, [and I] know the things [which appertain to] their bodies. I have come, travelling a long road, to bear righteous testimony, and to set the Balance upon its supports within Aukert.

A hymn by Akhenaton in honor of Aten in the Book of the Dead [written approximately 1330 BCE] is very similar to Psalms 104:

Preface

“Adoration of Re-Horakhty-who-rejoices-in-the-horizon,
In-his-name-Shu-who-is-the-Aten
, living forever ;
the great living Aten, who is in jubilee,
Lord of all that the Disk surrounds,
Lord of the Sky, Lord of the Earth,
Lord of the House-of-the-Aten in Akhet-Aten.

Adoration of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt,
who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
Nefer-kheperu-Re, Sole-one-of-Re,
the Son of Re who lives by Maat, Lord of Crowns,
Akhenaten, great in his lifetime
and of the beloved great Queen,
Lady of the Two Lands : Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti,
who lives in health and youth forever !

The Vizier,
the Fanbearer on the right of the King (…)
he says :

The Hymn

I) THE ATEN AS RE WITH HIS COURSE

morning beauty

1 Splendid You rise in the horizon of the sky,
2 O living Aten, creator of life !
3 You have dawned in the eastern horizon.
4 You fill every land with your beauty.

noon dominion

5 You are beauteous, mighty & radiant.
6 Risen high over every land,
7 your rays embrace the lands,
to the limit of all that You made.
8 Being Re, You reach their end.
9 You bend them for your beloved son.
10 Though You are far, your rays are on Earth.
11 Though seen by them, your course is unknown.

night chaos

12 When You set in the western horizon,
13 Earth is in darkness, as if death.
14 The sleepers are in their chambers, heads covered,
no eye seeing the other.
15 One could steal their goods from under their heads,
they would not notice it.
16 Every lion comes from its den.
The serpents bite.
17 Darkness hovers, Earth is silent.
18 For its creator rests in the horizon.

dawn rebirth

19 At dawn You have risen in the horizon.
20 To shine as the Aten of daytime !
21 You dispel the dark and cast your rays.
22 The Two Lands celebrate daily.
23 Awake they stand on their feet.
You have made them get up.
24 They wash and dress, their arms raised
in adoration to your appearance.
25 The entire land sets out to work.
26 All cattle are satisfied with their fodder.
The trees and the grass become green.
27 Birds fly from their nests, their wings praising your Ka.
28 All game animals frisk on their hooves, all that fly and flutter,
29 live when You dawn for them.
30 Ships fare downstream and back upstream,
roads lie open when You rise.
31 The fish in the river dart before You.
32 Your rays penetrate the Great Green deep.

II) WORKS & NATURE OF THE ATEN

The Child

33 O You, who make semen grow in women,
34 who creates people from sperm,
35 who feeds the son in his mother’s womb,
36 who soothes him to still his tears.
37 You nurse in the womb !
38 Giver of breath to nourish all creatures.
39 When the child emerges from the womb
to breathe on the day of his birth,
You open wide his mouth to supply his needs.

The Chicken

40 The chick in the egg, chirping in the shell,
41 You give it breath within to sustain its life.
42 When it is complete, it breaks out from the egg.
43 It emerges from the egg, to say it is complete.
44 Walking on its legs when emerging.

The Aten as doer un-saying, solitary, omnipotent

45 How many are your deeds,
46 though hidden from sight.
47 O sole God without equal !
48 You made the Earth as You desired, You alone.
49 With people, cattle, and all creatures.
50 With everything upon Earth that walks on legs,
51 and all that is on high and flies with its wings.

The Two Niles the Aten as national, international and
transnational governor

52 The foreign lands of Syria and Nubia, and the land of Egypt,
53 You set everybody in his place and supply their needs.
54 They all have their food and their lifetimes are counted.
55 Tongues differ in speech, their characters as well.
56 Their skins are distinct, for You distinguished the peoples.

57 You made the Nile in the Netherworld.
58 You bring it up when You will,
to keep those of Egypt alive,
for You have created them for yourself.

59 Lord of All who toils for them.
60 Lord of All Lands who shines for them.
61 O Aten of daytime, great in glory !

62 All distant lands, You make them live.
63 You made a heavenly Nile descend for them.
64 With waves beating on the mountains like the sea,
to drench their fields and their towns.

65 How excellent are your ways, OLord of Eternity !
66 The Nile from heaven for foreign peoples
and all land-creatures that walk on legs.
67 For Egypt the Nile from the Duat.

III) THEOLOGY OF THE ATEN

Life-giving nature of the Aten

68 Your rays nurse all fields.
69 When You shine they live, they grow for You.
70 You made the seasons,
so that all that You made may come to life.
71 Winter cools them, and heat makes them sense You.

The Aten is sole witness, sole creator and sole presence

72 You created the sky far away in order to ascend to it,
to witness everything You created.
73 You are alone, shining in your form of the living Aten.
74 Risen, radiant, distant and near.
75 You made millions of forms from yourself alone :
cities, towns, fields, the river’s course.
76 All eyes see You above them
as the Aten of the daytime on high.
77 When You are gone, (…) your eye is gone (…)
which You have made (?) {for their sake}

Pharaoh as the exclusive mediator of the Aten

78 But even then You are in my heart
79 and there is no other who knows You,
only your son, Nefer-kheperu-Re, Sole-one-of-Re,
whom You have taught your ways and your might.

80 The ones on Earth come into being by your hand,
in the way You made them.
81 When You rise,they live.
82 When You set, they die.
83 You yourself are lifetime itself,
one lives through You.
84 All eyes rest on beauty until You set.
85 All labor ceases when You restin the West.

86 When You rise, You make all arms firm for the King,
87 every leg is on the move since You founded the Earth,
88 You rouse them for your son, who emerged from your body.
89 The King who lives by Maat,
The Lord of the Two Lands
Nefer-kheperu-Re, Sole-one-of-Re,
the Son of Re who lives by Maat,
the Lord of Crowns, Akhenaten, great in his lifetime.
90 And the great Queen whom he loves,
the Lady of Upper and Lower Egypt:
Nefer-neferu-Aten Nefertiti,
who lives and is youthful forever and ever.”

Praise of YHWH the Creator. Pslms104Bless YHWH, O my soul! O LORD my YHWH, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty, 2who coverest thyself with light as with a garment, who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent, 3who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters, who makest the clouds thy chariot, who ridest on the wings of the wind, 4who makest the winds thy messengers, fire and flame thy ministers. 5Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken. 6Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. 7At thy rebuke they fled; at the sound of thy thunder they took to flight. 8The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place which thou didst appoint for them. 9Thou didst set a bound which they should not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. 10Thou makest springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, 11they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst. 12By them the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. 13From thy lofty abode thou waterest the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy work. 14Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, 15and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart. 16The trees of YHWH are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon which he planted. 17In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. 18The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the badgers. 19Thou hast made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. 20Thou makest darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep forth. 21The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from YHWH. 22When the sun rises, they get them away and lie down in their dens. 23Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening. 24O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures. 25Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable, living things both small and great. 26There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it. 27These all look to thee, to give them their food in due season. 28When thou givest to them, they gather it up; when thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good things. 29When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground. 31May the glory of YHWH endure for ever, may YHWH rejoice in his works, 32who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! 33I will sing to YHWH as long as I live; I will sing praise to my YHWH while I have being. 34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in YHWH. 35Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless YHWH, O my soul! Praise YHWH!

In Zoroastrianism describes an even more dramatic judgment day. Chapter 30 of the Zoroastrian Bundahisn:

On the nature of the resurrection and future existence it says in revelation, that, whereas Mashye and Mashyane, who grew up from the earth, first fed upon water, then plants, then milk, and then meat, men also, when their time of death has come, first desist from eating meat, then milk, then from bread, till when they shall die they always feed upon water. 2. So, likewise, in the millennium of Hoshedarmah, the strength of appetite (az) will thus diminish, when men will remain three days and nights in superabundance (sirih) through one taste of consecrated food. 3. Then they will desist from meat food, and eat vegetables and milk; afterwards, they abstain from milk food and abstain from vegetable food, and are feeding on water; and for ten years before Soshyant comes they remain without food, and do not die.

4.

After Soshyant comes they prepare the raising of the dead, as it says, that Zartosht asked of Ohrmazd thus: ‘Whence does a body form again, which the wind has carried and the water conveyed (vazhid)? and how does the resurrection occur?’ 5. Ohrmazd answered thus: ‘When through me the sky arose from the substance of the ruby, without columns, on the spiritual support of far-compassed light; when through me the earth arose, which bore the material life, and there is no maintainer of the worldly creation but it; when by me the sun and moon and stars are conducted in the firmament (andarvai) of luminous bodies; when by me corn was created so that, scattered about in the earth, it grew again and returned with increase; when by me color of various kinds was created in plants; when by me fire was created in plants and other things without combustion; when by me a son was created and fashioned in the womb of a mother, and the structure (pishak) severally of the skin, nails, blood, feet, eyes, ears, and other things was produced; when by me legs were created for the water, so that it flows away, and the cloud was created which carries the water of the world and rains there where it has a purpose; when by me the air was created which conveys in one’s eyesight, through the strength of the wind, the lowermost upwards according to its will, and one is not able to grasp it with the hand out-stretched; each one of them, when created by me, was herein more difficult than causing the resurrection, for it is an assistance to me in the resurrection that they exist, but when they were formed it was not forming the future out of the past. 6. Observe that when that which was not was then produced, why is it not possible to produce again that which was? for at that time one will demand the bone from the spirit of earth, the blood from the water, the hair from the plants, and the life from fire, since they were delivered to them in the original creation.’

7.

First, the bones of Gayomard are roused up, then those of Mashye and Mashyane, then those of the rest of mankind; in the fifty-seven years of Soshyant they prepare all the dead, and all men stand up; whoever is righteous and whoever is wicked, every human creature, they rouse up from the spot where its life departs. 8. Afterwards, when all material living beings assume again their bodies and forms, then they assign (bara yehabund) them a single class. 9. Of the light accompanying (levatman) the sun, one half will be for Gayomard, and one half will give enlightenment among the rest of men, so that the soul and body will know that this is my father, and this is my mother, and this is my brother, and this is my wife, and these are some other of my nearest relations.

10.

Then is the assembly of the Sadvastaran, where all mankind will stand at this time; in that assembly every one sees his own good deeds and his own evil deeds; and then, in that assembly, a wicked man becomes as conspicuous as a white sheep among those which are black. 11. In that assembly whatever righteous man was friend of a wicked one in the world, and the wicked man complains of him who is righteous, thus: ‘Why did he not make me acquainted, when in the world, with the good deeds which he practiced himself?’ if he who is righteous did not inform him, then it is necessary for him to suffer shame accordingly in that assembly.

12.

Afterwards, they set the righteous man apart from the wicked; and then the righteous is for heaven (garothman), and they cast the wicked back to hell. 13. Three days and nights they inflict punishment bodily in hell, and then he beholds bodily those three days’ happiness in heaven. 14. As it says that, on the day when the righteous man is parted from the wicked, the tears of every one, thereupon, run down unto his legs. 15. When, after they set apart a father from his consort (hambaz), a brother from his brother, and a friend from his friend, they suffer, every one for his own deeds, and weep, the righteous for the wicked, and the wicked about himself; for there may be a father who is righteous and a son wicked, and there may be one brother who is righteous and one wicked. 16. Those for whose peculiar deeds it is appointed, such as Dahak [Zohak] and Frasiyav of Tur, and others of this sort, as those deserving death (marg-arjanan), undergo a punishment no other men undergo; they call it ‘the punishment of the three nights.’

17.

Among his producers of the renovation of the universe, those righteous men of whom it is written that they are living, fifteen men and fifteen damsels, will come to the assistance of Soshyant. 18. As Gochihr falls in the celestial sphere from a moon-beam on to the earth, the distress of the earth becomes such-like as that of a sheep when a wolf falls upon it. 19. Afterwards, the fire and halo melt the metal of Shahrewar, in the hills and mountains, and it remains on this earth like a river. 20. Then all men will pass into that melted metal and will become pure; when one is righteous, then it seems to him just as though he walks continually in warm milk; but when wicked, then it seems to him in such manner as though, in the world, he walks continually in melted metal.

21.

Afterwards, with the greatest affection, all men come together, father and son and brother and friend ask one another thus: ‘Where has it been these many years, and what was the judgment upon thy soul? hast thou been righteous or wicked?’ 22. The first soul the body sees, it inquires of it with those words (guft). 23. All men become of one voice and administer loud praise to Ohrmazd and the archangels.

24.

Ohrmazd completes his work at that time, and the creatures become so that it is not necessary to make any effort about them; and among those by whom the dead are prepared, it is not necessary that any effort be made. 25. Soshyant, with his assistants, performs a Yazishn ceremony in preparing the dead, and they slaughter the ox Hadhayosh in that Yazishn; from the fat of that ox and the white Haoma they prepare Hush, and give it to all men, and all men become immortal for ever and everlasting. 26. This, too, it says, that whoever has been the size of a man, they restore him then with an age of forty years; they who have been little when not dead, they restore then with an age of fifteen years; and they give every one his wife, and show him his children with the wife; so they act as now in the world, but there is no begetting of children.

27.

Afterwards, Soshyant and his assistants, by order of the creator Ohrmazd, give every man the reward and recompense suitable to his deeds; this is even the righteous existence (ait) where it is said that they convey him to paradise (Wahisht), and the heaven (garothman) of Ohrmazd takes up the body (kerp) as itself requires; with that assistance he continually advances for ever and everlasting. 28. This, too, it says, that whoever has performed no worship (yasht), and has ordered no getig-kharid, and has bestowed no clothes as a righteous gift, is naked there; and he performs the worship (yasht) of Ohrmazd, and the heavenly angels provide him the use of his clothing.

29.

Afterwards, Ohrmazd seizes on the evil spirit! Vohuman on Akoman, Ardwahisht on Andar, Shahrewar on Savar, Spandarmad on Taromat who is Naunghas, Hordad and Amurdad on Tairev and Zairich, true-speaking on what is evil-speaking, Srosh on Eshm. 30. Then two fiends remain at large, Ahriman and Az; Ohrmazd comes to the world, himself the Zota and Srosh the Raspi, and holds the Kusti in his hand; defeated by the Kusti formula the resources of the evil spirit and Az act most impotently, and by the passage through which he rushed into the sky he runs back to gloom and darkness. 31. Gochihr burns the serpent (mar) in the melted metal, and the stench and pollution which were in hell are burned in that metal, and it (hell) becomes quite pure. 32. He (Ohrmazd) sets the vault into which the evil spirit fled, in that metal; he brings the land of hell back for the enlargement of the world; the renovation arises in the universe by his will, and the world is immortal for ever and everlasting.

33.

This, too, it says, that this earth becomes an iceless, slopeless plain; even the mountain, whose summit is the support of the Chinwad bridge, they keep down, and it will not exist.

The ancient Greeks wrote about the afterlife as well. Plato wrote of the afterlife around 400 years before the life of “Jesus”. In the Republic, Plato told the story of the soldier Er:

Well, I said, I will tell you a tale; not one of the tales which Odysseus tells to the hero Alcinous, yet this too is a tale of a hero, Er the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by birth. He was slain in battle, and ten days afterwards, when the bodies of the dead were taken up already in a state of corruption, his body was found unaffected by decay, and carried away home to be buried. And on the twelfth day, as he was lying on the funeral pile, he returned to life and told them what he had seen in the other world. He said that when his soul left the body he went on a journey with a great company, and that they came to a mysterious place at which there were two openings in the earth; they were near together, and over against them were two other openings in the heaven above. In the intermediate space there were judges seated, who commanded the just, after they had given judgment on them and had bound their sentences in front of them, to ascend by the heavenly way on the right hand; and in like manner the unjust were bidden by them to descend by the lower way on the left hand; these also bore the symbols of their deeds, but fastened on their backs. He drew near, and they told him that he was to be the messenger who would carry the report of the other world to men, and they bade him hear and see all that was to be heard and seen in that place. Then he beheld and saw on one side the souls departing at either opening of heaven and earth when sentence had been given on them; and at the two other openings other souls, some ascending out of the earth dusty and worn with travel, some descending out of heaven clean and bright. And arriving ever and anon they seemed to have come from a long journey, and they went forth with gladness into the meadow, where they encamped as at a festival; and those who knew one another embraced and conversed, the souls which came from earth curiously enquiring about the things above, and the souls which came from heaven about the things beneath. And they told one another of what had happened by the way, those from below weeping and sorrowing at the remembrance of the things which they had endured and seen in their journey beneath the earth (now the journey lasted a thousand years), while those from above were describing heavenly delights and visions of inconceivable beauty.

Thought Experiment in the Power of Suggestion

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“Reading Plato’s story about the soldier Er is fascinating. In trying to find the simplest explanation, since if your god is the one true god this narrative cannot be true, I can see three different possibilities here. But I’ll just inquire about the one I think is most likely. The three possibilities I see here are this being an example of the power of suggestion, informational influence, or insufficient justification – or maybe some combination of the three. But let us suppose it is just informational influence; meaning, something extraordinary happened on the battlefield (not surprising) which entailed what is normally a very unlikely event and was therefore noteworthy to all who witnessed it. Maybe Er survived some seemingly definitive death blow, or swords bounced of his chest repeatedly without cutting. Maybe everyone thought he was dead but he was just knocked out for thirty minutes or so, but in the confusion of battle it was thought that he was lying in the field for days. It could really be anything. The point is, it does in fact seem more likely that this story was just an example of exaggerating and modifying real historical facts as the story was told and re-told. And I have to accept something like that in order to see your god as the one true god.

So, my question for you is, if I accept that then how is this any different than the resurrection of Jesus, right?” Is not the resurrection narrative just another example of the power of suggestion?

We then continue directly to the next, related thought experiment.

Thought Experiment in Informational Influence

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“Reading the same narrative from Plato we can view this in a similar way when looking only at the aspect of eternal life, not necessarily bodily resurrection. Limiting the narrative claim to that makes a qualitatively different story. And I’m wondering how does one explain the soldier Er’s account of the events during his “death experience” if your god is the one true god? This is not as simple a question as it may sound like because this afterlife experience is tied to an overall religious narrative that conflicts directly with your religion, so it cannot be true that Er’s account is accurate even if the concept of an afterlife exists in your religion as well. And the reason why it cannot be true is that I must assume your god is the one true god.

So, my question for you is, if I accept that then how is this any different than the etneral life promised in the New Testament, right?” Is not this promise just another example of what happens when a majority of people believe a fictitious story?

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate these two thougth experiments as questions that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and beg for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

A summary of Republic goes something like this:

Socrates: What is Justice?
Polemarchus: It’s giving everyone the good or evil they deserve, helping friends and harming enemies.
Thrasymachus: It’s following the law, doing what the people in power say.
Socrates: Rulers aren’t always right, and they’re never happy. Let’s try to design a perfectly just society. It’ll have people sticking to the skill they’re best at, supplying each other’s needs. It’ll have three classes, golden ruler-guardians, silver auxiliaries and iron and bronze artisans. We’ll have no families, but bring up the best people, women as well as men, to be rulers. They’ll avoid poetry, do physical training and study philosophy. We’ll have justice because everyone sticks to their own job. We’ll have the three classes in harmony, just like the mind has three parts: desire, reason and spirit.
Glaucon: So what’s philosophy, then?
Socrates: It’s pursuing wisdom. Trying to find the immutable, the perfect, the true form of reality. It’s not like foolish sailors squabbling over who’s to take the helm. It’s not like taming a wild beast. Imagine a cave where prisoners have been held since birth, they’d believe that the shadows they see are reality. The true philosopher is like someone who escapes from that cave and sees real things, when he gets back, no-one believes him. We’ll get this by careful education up to the age of fifty.
Glaucon: What about the perfect State?
Socrates: It isn’t a timarchy built on ambition, nor money-based oligarchy, nor squabbling democracy or gangster-ish tyranny. Our perfect society of philosopher-kings may never exist on earth, but we can hope.

Christian apologists will argue that the reason for the absence of an afterlife concept in the OT was that:

1.)    Jesus had not brought it yet, essentially.

2.)   The pre-plagiarism argument also has been applied as the explanation of the afterlife beliefs that preceded the Christians.

3.)   Another argument of apologists is that the OT people, by having faith in their God, had de facto faith in Jesus, which guaranteed their eventual salvation and recovery to heaven.

4.)   And finally, it has been argued by apologists that the time differences between OT and NT are artifacts of human limitations to understanding time; which amounts to arguing that understanding the inconsistencies in the view of afterlife is due to our limited intellectual capacity.

5.)   Another explanation, albeit a tortured one, is that the NT references to salvation through deeds are directed specifically at those who had no knowledge of Jesus, thus covering the OT cases. The problem, of course, is that the NT also states that salvation only comes through Jesus. Thus this argument ironically supports the secular explanation, which is that it merely reflects a human made religion which had differing awareness of the idea of an afterlife depending on when a given book was written. Almost all these efforts to explain the afterlife conundrum result in problems with Occam’s Razor (see above).

Generally speaking, as an apologist begins to make more and more torturous explanations for obvious inconsistencies or inaccuracies, the best response is to refer to Occam’s Razor and the conjunction rule of probability theory.

Occam’s Razor: Bible’s many authors just had many different opinions about the afterlife. And we again go back to the pre-plagiarism problem: why didn’t H.G. Wells pre-plagiarize Scientology when he wrote War of the Worlds which is another way of saying that if pre-plagiarism was true for Christianity it could also be true of any religion.

What happens to an afterlife for those who have never heard of Jesus? The secular explanation is that texts written by over a dozen authors over a period exceeding one thousand years all of whose travels were limited to the middle east will likely be inadequate for explaining how the Japanese or the Native Americans might fit into the afterlife picture two thousand years later. But to explain this from a apologist perspective requires much more complicated, torturous logic. Occam’s Razor provides a clear preference for choosing an explanation.

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

An ancient map of the Persian Gulf. Notice that Mount Sinai is depicted as being located in the Land of Zoroaster, present-day southern Iran.

Narrative Duplication

The closing of a prayer with the word “Amen” is practiced by Christians, Jews, Muslims, Bhuddists and Hindu adherents (though with some doubt in the case of eastern religions). Amen (or Amun) was also an ancient Egyptian god suggesting the possibility that this term was borrowed from the name of this god; however, there is presently no direct evidence known to this author that would support such a connection. The word’s (“Amen”) deepest etymological trace lands it in ancient Hebrew where the oldest known definition is in the form of a verb and is “to be firm, confirmed, reliable, faithful, have faith, believe”. Its oldest meaning in its present grammatical form is “so be it”. In the Pseudepigraphal book the Gospel of James the Just 1:6, for example, the phrase “so be it” is uttered just before uttering “amen” which seems to confirm the linguistic understanding noted:

6And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: As YHWH my Lord liveth, thou shall not walk on this earth until I bring thee into the temple of YHWH. And she made a sanctuary in her bed-chamber, and allowed nothing common or unclean to pass through her. And she called the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews, and they led her astray. And when she was a year old, Joachim made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel. And Joachim brought the child to the priests; and they blessed her, saying: O God of our forebearers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations. And all the people said: So be it, so be it, amen. And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: O YHWH most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever. And her mother snatched her up, and took her into the sanctuary of her bed-chamber, and gave her the breast. And Anna made a song to Lord YHWH, saying: I will sing a song to YHWH my Lord, for He hath looked upon me, and hath taken away the reproach of mine enemies; and YHWH hath given the the fruit of His righteousness, singular in its kind, and richly endowed before Him. Who will tell the sons of Rubim that Anna gives suck? Hear, hear, ye twelve tribes of Israel, that Anna gives suck. And she laid her to rest in the bed-chamber of her sanctuary, and went out and ministered unto them. And when the supper was ended, they went down rejoicing, and glorifying the YHWH of Israel.

But the indirect evidence for a connection to this Hebrew term, which would have predated its known use in Hebrew and likely come to Hebrew as a borrowed word, is found in the context of scripture. Revelation 3:14, Nehemiah 8:6 and 2 Corinthians 1:19 are telling:

114“And to the angel of the church in La-odice’a write: `The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of YHWH’s creation.

Nehemiah: 1 6And Ezra blessed YHWH, the great YHWH; and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands; and they bowed their heads and worshiped YHWH with their faces to the ground.

2 Corinthians: 119For the Son of YHWH, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silva’nus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. 20For all the promises of YHWH find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of YHWH.

The Instruction of Amenemope

Some sections of the book of Proverbs are duplicated in an Egyptian wisdom book, called “The Instruction of Amen-em-Opet,” also known as, “The Instruction of Amenemope”, which probably originated on the interval (1300 BCE, 1000 BCE). Many scholars hold that Amenemope’s work forms the basis of Proverbs, another sign of narrative duplication from Egypt into other religions. Both pieces are a collection of advice and instruction in how to live a good life.

Introduction

The beginning of the instruction about life,
The guide for well-being,
All the principles of official procedure,
The duties of the courtiers;
To know how to refute the accusation of one who made it,
And to send back a reply to the one who wrote,
To set one straight on the paths of life,
And make him prosper on earth;
To let his heart settle down in its chapel,
As one who steers him clear of evil;
To save him from the talk of others,
As one who is respected in the speech of men.

Written by the superintendent of the land, experienced in his office,
The offspring of a scribe of the Beloved Land,
The Superintendent of produce, who fixes the grain measure,
Who sets the grain tax amount for his lord,
Who registers the islands which appear as new land over the cartouche of His Majesty,
And sets up the land mark at the boundary of the arable land,
Who protects the king by his tax rolls,
And makes the Register of the Black land.
The scribe who places the divine offerings for all the gods,
The donor of land grants to the people,
The superintendent of grain who administers the food offerings,
Who supplies the storerooms with grain
A truly silent man in Tjeni in the Ta-wer nome,
One whose verdict is “acquitted” in Ipu,
The owner of a pyramid tomb on the west of Senut,
As well as the owner of a memorial chapel in Abydos,
Amenemope, the son of Kanakht,
Whose verdict is “acquitted” in the Ta-wer nome.

For his son, the youngest of his children,
The least of his family,
Initiate of the mysteries of Min-Kamutef,
Libation pourer of Wennofre,
Who introduces Horus upon the throne of his father,
His stolist in his august chapel,

…………………………………………………………………

The seer of the Mother of God,
The inspector of the black cattle of the terrace of Min,
Who protects Min in his chapel,
Hoermmaakheru is his true name,
A child of an official of Ipu,
The son of the sistrum player of Shu and Tefnut,
The chief singer of Horus, the Lady Tawosret.

He Says: Chapter 1

Give your years and hear what is said,
Give your mind over to their interpretation:
It is profitable to put them in your heart,
But woe to him that neglects them!
Let them rest in the shrine of your insides
That they may act as a lock in your heart;
Now when there comes a storm of words,
They will be a mooring post on your tongue.

If you spend a lifetime with these things in your heart,
You will find it good fortune;
You will discover my words to be a treasure house of life,
And your body will flourish upon earth.

Chapter 2

Beware of stealing from a miserable man
And of raging against the cripple.
Do not stretch out your hand to touch an old man,
Nor snip at the words of an elder.
Don’t let yourself be involved in a fraudulent business,
Not desire the carrying out of it;
Do not get tired because of being interfered with,
Nor return an answer on your own.
The evildoer, throw him <in> the canal,
And he will bring back its slime.
The north wind comes down and ends his appointed hour,
It is joined to the tempest;
The thunder is high, the crocodiles are nasty,
O hot-headed man, what are you like?
he cries out, and his voice (reaches) heaven.
O Moon, make his crime manifest!
Row that we may ferry the evil man away,
For we will not act according to his evil nature;
Lift him up, give him your hand,
And leave him <in> the hands of god;
Fill his gut with your own food
That he may be sated and ashamed.
Something else of value in the heart of God
Is to stop and think before speaking.

Chapter 3

Do not get into a quarrel with the argumentative man
Nor incite him with words;
Proceed cautiously before an opponent,
And give way to an adversary;
Sleep on it before speaking,
For a storm come forth like fire in hay is
The hot-headed man in his appointed time.
May you be restrained before him;
Leave him to himself,
And God will know how to answer him.

If you spend your life with these things in your heart,
Your children shall behold them.

Chapter 4

The hot-headed man in the temple
Is like a tree grown indoors;
Only for a moment does it put forth roots.
It reaches its end in the carpentry shop,
It is floated away far from its place,
Or fire is its funeral pyre.

the truly temperate man sets himself apart,
He is like a tree grown in a sunlit field,
But it flourishes, it doubles its yield,
It stands before its owner;
Its fruit is something sweet, its shade is pleasant,
And it reaches its end as a statue.

Chapter 5

Do not take by violence the shares of the temple,
Do not be grasping, and you will find overabundance;
Do not take away a temple servant
In order to acquire the property of another man.
Do not say today is the same as tomorrow,
Or how will matters come to pass?
When tomorrow comes, today is past;
The deep waters sink from the canal bank,
Crocodiles are uncovered, the hippopotamuses are on dry land,
And the fishes gasping for air;
The wolves are fat, the wild fowl in festival,
And the nets are drained.

Every temperate man in the temple says,
“Great is the benevolence of Re.”
Fill yourself with silence, you will find life,
And your body shall flourish upon earth.

Chapter 6

Do not displace the surveyor’s marker on the boundaries of the arable land,
Nor alter the position of the measuring line;
Do not be greedy for a plot of land,
Nor overturn the boundaries of a widow.

As for the road in the field worn down by time,
He who takes it violently for fields,
If he traps by deceptive attestations,
Will be lassoed by the might of the moon.

To one who has done this on earth, pay attention,
For he is a weak enemy;
He is an enemy overturned inside himself;
Life is taken from his eye;
His household is hostile to the community,
His storerooms are toppled over,
His property taken from his children,
And to someone else his possessions given.

Take care not to topple over the boundary marks of the arable land,
Not fearing that you will be brought to court;
Man propitiates God by the might of the Lord
When he sets straight the boundaries of the arable land.

Desire, then, to make yourself prosper,
And take care for the Lord of All;
Do not trample on the furrow of someone else,
Their good order will be profitable for you.

So plough the fields, and you will find whatever you need,
And receive the bread from your own threshing floor:
Better is the bushel which God gives you
Than five thousand deceitfully gotten;
They do not spend a day in the storehouse or warehouse,
They are no use for dough for beer;
Their stay in the granary is short-lived,
When morning comes they will be swept away.
Better, then, is poverty in the hand of God
Than riches in the storehouse;
Better is bread when the mind is at ease
Than riches with anxiety.

Chapter 7

Do not set your heart upon seeking riches,
For there is no one who can ignore Destiny and Fortune;
Do not set your thoughts on external matters:
For every man there is his appointed time.

Do not exert yourself to seek out excess
And your wealth will prosper for you;
If riches come to you by theft
They will not spend the night with you;
As soon as day breaks they will not be in your household;
Although their places can be seen, they are not there.

When the earth opens up its mouth, it levels him and swallows him up,
And it drowns him in the deep;
They have made for themselves a great hole which suites them.
And they have sunk themselves in the tomb;
Or they have made themselves wings like geese,
And they fly up to the sky.
Do not be pleased with yourself (because of) riches acquired through robbery,
Neither complain about poverty.
If an officer commands one who goes in front of him,
His company leaves him;
The boat of the covetous is abandoned <in> the mud,
While the skiff of the truly temperate man sails on.
When he rises you shall offer to the Aten,
Saying, “Grant me prosperity and health.”
And he will give you your necessities for life,
And you will be safe from fear.

Chapter 8

Set your good deeds throughout the world
That you may greet everyone;
They make rejoicing for the Uraeus,
And spit against the Apophis.
Keep your tongue safe from words of detraction,
And you will be the loved one of the people,
Then you will find your place within the temple
And your offerings among the bread deliveries of your lord;
You will be revered, when you are concealed <in> your grave,
And be safe from the might of God.

Do not accuse a man,
When the news of an escape is concealed.
If you hear something good or bad,
Say it outside, where it is not heard;
Set a good report on your tongue,
While the bad thing is covered up inside you.

Chapter 9

Do not fraternize with the hot-tempered man,
Nor approach him to converse.
Safeguard your tongue from answering your superior,
And take care not to speak against him.
Do not allow him to cast words only to entrap you,
And be not too free in your reply;
With a man of your own station discuss the reply;
And take care of speaking thoughtlessly;
When a man’s heart is upset, words travel faster
Than wind and rain.

He is ruined and created by his tongue,
And yet he speaks slander;
He makes an answer deserving of a beating,
For its work is evil;
He sails among all the world,
But his cargo is false words;
He acts the ferryman in knitting words:
He goes forth and comes back arguing.

But whether he eats or whether he drinks inside,
His accusation (waits for him) without.
They day when his evil deed is brought to court
Is a disaster for his children.
Even Khnum will straightway come, even Khnum will straightway come,
The creator of the ill-tempered man
Whom he molds and fires….;
He is like a wolf cub in the farmyard,
And he turns one eye to the other (squinting),
For he sets families to argue.
He goes before all the wind like clouds,
He darkens his color in the sun;
He crocks his tail like a baby crocodile,
He curls himself up to inflict harm,
His lips are sweet, but his tongue is bitter,
And fire burns inside him.

Do not fly up to join that man
Not fearing you will be brought to account.

Chapter 10

Do not address your intemperate friend in your unrighteousness,
Nor destroy your own mind;
Do not say to him, “May you be praised,: not meaning it
When there is fear within you.
Do not converse falsely with a man,
For it is the abomination of God.
Do not separate your mind from your tongue,
All your plans will succeed.
You will be important before others,
While you will be secure in the hand of God.

God hates one who falsified words,
His great abomination is duplicity.

Chapter 11

Do not covet the property of the dependent
Nor hunger for his bread;
The property of a dependent blocks the throat,
It is vomit for the gullet.
If he has engendered it by false oaths,
His heart slips back inside him.
It is through the disaffected that success is lost,
Bad and good elude.

If you are at a loss before your superior,
And are confused in your speeches,
Your flattering are turned back with curses,
And your humble action by beatings.
Whoever fills the mouth with too much bread swallows it and spits up,
So he is emptied of his good.

To the examination of a dependant give thought
While the sticks touch him,
And while all his people are fettered with manacles:
Who is to have the execution?
When you are too free before your superior,
Then you are in bad favor with your subordinates,
So steer away from the poor man on the road,
That you may see him but keep clear of his property.

Chapter 12

Do not covet the property of an official,
And do not fill (your) mouth with too much food extravagantly;
If he sets you to manage his property,
Respect his, and yours will prosper.

Do not deal with the intemperate man,
Nor associate yourself to a disloyal party.

If you are sent to transport straw,
Respect its account;
If a man is detected in a dishonest transaction,
Never again will he be employed.

Chapter 13

Do not lead a man astray <with> reed pen or papyrus document:
It is the abomination of God.
Do not witness a false statement,
Nor remove a man (from the list) by your order;
Do not enroll someone who has nothing,
Nor make your pen be false.
If you find a large debt against a poor man,
Make it into three parts;
Release two of them and let one remain:
You will find it a path of life;
You will pass the night in sound sleep; in the morning
You will find it like good news.

Better it is to be praised as one loved by men
Than wealth in the storehouse;
Better is bread when the mind is at ease
Than riches with troubles.

Chapter 14

Do not pay attention to a person,
Nor exert yourself to seek out his hand,
If he says to you, “take a bribe,”
It is not an insignificant matter to heed him;
Do not avert your glance from him, nor bend down your head,
Nor turn aside your gaze.
Address him with your words and say to him greetings;
When he stops, your chance will come;
Do not repel him at his first approach,
Another time he will be brought (to judgment).

Chapter 15

Do well, and you will attain influence.
Do not dip (your) reed against the one who sins.
The beak of the Ibis is the finger of the scribe;
Take care not to disturb it;
The Ape (Thoth) rests (in) the temple of Khmun,
While his eye travels around the Two Lands;
If he sees one who sins with his finger (that is, a false scribe),
he takes away his provisions by the flood.
As for a scribe who sins with his finger,
His son shall not be enrolled.

If you spend your life with these things in your heart,
Your children shall see them.

Chapter 16

Do not unbalance the scale nor make the weights false,
Nor diminish the fractions of the grain measure;
Do not wish for the grain measures of the fields
And then cast aside those of the treasury.
The Ape sits by the balance,
While his heart is the plummet.
Where is a god as great as Thoth
The one who discovered these things, to create them?

Do not get for yourself short weights;
They are plentiful, yea, an army by the might of God.
If you see someone cheating,
At a distance you must pass him by.
Do not be avaricious for copper,
And abjure fine clothes;
What good is one cloaked in fine linen woven as mek,
When he cheats before God.
When gold is heaped upon gold,
At daybreak it turns to lead.

Chapter 17

Beware of robbing the grain measure
To falsify its fractions;
Do not act wrongfully through force,
Although it is empty inside;
May you have it measure exactly as to its size,
Your hand stretching out with precision.

Make not for yourself a measure of two capacities,
For then it is toward the depths that you will go.
The measure is the eye of Re,
Its abomination is the one who takes.
As for a grain measurer who multiplies and subtracts,
His eye will seal up against him.

Do not receive the harvest tax of a cultivator,
Nor bind up a papyrus against him to lead him astray.
Do not enter into collusion with the grain measurer,
Nor play with the seed allotment,
More important is the threshing floor for barley
Than swearing by the Great Throne.

Chapter 18

Do not go to bed fearing tomorrow,
For when day breaks what is tomorrow?
Man knows not what tomorrow is!
God is success,
Man is failure.
The words which men say pass on one side,
The things which God does pass on another side.

Do not say, “I am without fault,”
Nor try to seek out trouble.
Fault is the business of God,
It is locked up with his seal.
There is no success in the hand of God,
Nor is there failure before Him;
If he turns himself about to seek out success,
In a moment He destroys him.

Be strong in your heart, make your mind firm,
Do not steer with your tongue;
The tongue of a man is the steering oar of a boat,
And the Lord of All is its pilot.

Chapter 19

Do not enter the council chamber in the presence of a magistrate
And then falsify your speech.
Do not go up and down with your accusation
When your witnesses stand readied.
Do not overstate <through> oaths in the name of your lord,
<Through> pleas <in> the place of questioning.

Tell the truth before the magistrate,
lest he gain power over your body;
If you come before him the next day,
He will concur with all you say;
He will present your case <in> court before the Council of the Thirty,
And it will be lenient another time as well.

Chapter 20

Do not corrupt the people of the law court,
Nor put aside the just man,
Do not agree because of garments of white,
Nor accept one in rags.
Take not the gift of the strong man,
Nor repress the weak for him.
Justice is a wonderful gift of God,
And He will render it to whomever he wishes.
The strength of one like him
Saves a poor wretch from his beatings.

Do not make false enrollment lists,
For they are a serious affair deserving death;
They are serious oaths of the kind promising not to misuse an office,
And they are to be investigated by an informer.

Do not falsify the oracles on a papyrus
And (thereby) alter the designs of God.
Do not arrogate to yourself the might of God
As if Destiny and Fortune did not exist.

Hand property over to its (rightful) owners,
And seek out life for yourself;
Let not your heart build in their house,
for then your neck will be on the execution block.

Chapter 21

Do not say, I have found a strong protector
And now I can challenge a man in my town.
Do not say, I have found an active intercessor,
And now I can challenge him whom I hate.

Indeed, you cannot know the plans of God;
You cannot perceive tomorrow.
Sit yourself at the hands of God:
Your tranquility will cause them to open.

As for the crocodile deprived of his tongue,
the fear of him is negligible.
Empty not your soul to everybody
And do not diminish thereby your importance;
Do not circulate your words to others,
Nor fraternize with one who is too candid.

Better is a man whose knowledge is inside him
Than one who talks to disadvantage.
One cannot run to attain perfection;
One cannot create (only) to destroy it.

Chapter 22

Do not castigate your companion in a dispute,
And do not <let> him say his innermost thoughts;
Do not fly up to greet him
When you do not see how he acts.
May you first comprehend his accusation
And cool down your opponent.

Leave it to him and he will empty his soul;
Sleep knows how to find him out;
Take his feet, do not bother him;
Fear him, do not underestimate him.
Indeed, you cannot know the plans of God,
You cannot perceive tomorrow.
Sit yourself at the hands of God;
Your tranquility will cause them to open.

Chapter 23

Do not eat a meal in the presence of a magistrate,
Nor set to speaking first.
If you are satisfied with false words,
Enjoy yourself with your spittle.

Look at the cup in front of you,
And let it suffice your need.
Even as a noble is important in his office,
He is like the abundance of a well when it is drawn.

Chapter 24

Do not listen to the accusation of an official indoors,
And then repeat it to another outside.
Do not allow your discussions to be brought outside
So that your heart will not be grieved.

the heart of a man is the beak of the God,
So take care not to slight it;
A man who stands <at> the side of an official
Should not have his name known (in the street).

Chapter 25

Do not jeer at a blind man nor tease a dwarf,
Neither interfere with the condition of a cripple;
Do not taunt a man who is in the hand of God,
Nor scowl at him if he errs.

Man is clay and straw,
And God is his potter;
He overthrows and he builds daily,
He impoverishes a thousand if He wishes.
He makes a thousand into examiners,
When He is in His hour of life.
How fortunate is he who reaches the West,
When he is safe in the hand of God.

Chapter 26

Do not stay in the tavern
And join someone greater than you,
Whether he be high or low in his station,
An old man or a youth;
But take as a friend for yourself someone compatible:
Re is helpful though he is far away.

When you see someone greater than you outside,
And attendants following him, respect (him).
And give a hand to an old man filled with beer:
Respect him as his children would.

The strong arm is not weakened when it is uncovered,
The back is not broken when one bends it;
Better is the poor man who speaks sweet words,
Than the rich man who speaks harshly.

A pilot who sees into the distance
Will not let his ship capsize.

Chapter 27

Do not reproach someone older than you,
For he has seen the Sun before you;
Do not let yourself be reported to the Aten when he rises,
With the words, “Another young man has reproached an elder.”
Very sick in the sight of Re
Is a young man who reproaches an elder.

Let him beat you with your hands folded,
Let him reproach you while you keep quiet.
Then when you come before him in the morning
He will give you bread freely.
As for bread, he who has it becomes a dog,
He barks to the one who gives it.

Chapter 28

Do not expose a widow if you have caught her in the fields,
Nor fail to give way if she is accused.
Do not turn a stranger away <from> your oil jar
That it may be made double for your family.
God loves him who cares for the poor,
More than him who respects the wealthy.

Chapter 29

Do not turn people away from crossing the river
When you have room in your ferryboat;
If a steering oar is given you in the midst of the deep waters,
So bend back your hands <to> take it up.
It is not an abomination in the hand of God
If the passenger is not cared for.

Do not acquire a ferryboat on the river,
And then attempt to seek out its fares;
Take the are from the man of means,
But (also) accept the destitute (without charge).

Chapter 30

Mark for your self these thirty chapters:
They please, they instruct,
They are the foremost of all books;
They teach the ignorant.
If they are read to an ignorant man,
He will be purified through them.
Seize them; put them in your mind
And have men interpret them, explaining as a teacher.
As to a scribe who is experienced in his position,
He will find himself worthy of being a courtier.

It is finished.
By the writing of Senu, son of the god’s father Pamiu.

Due to the length of the preceding piece we recommend that the deconverter read this to the adherent with a preplanned strategy for juxtaposing critical correspondences in the respective texts. A listing of the most similar correspondences in text follows this larger treatment. The majority of the Christian Canon similiarities can be found in Proverbs 22:17 through 23:11:

Sayings of the Wise

17Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; 18for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. 19That your trust may be in YHWH, I have made them known to you today, even to you. 20Have I not written for you thirty sayings of admonition and knowledge, 21to show you what is right and true, that you may give a true answer to those who sent you? 22Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; 23for YHWH will plead their cause and despoil of life those who despoil them. 24Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, 25lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare. 26Be not one of those who give pledges, who become surety for debts. 27If you have nothing with which to pay, why should your bed be taken from under you? 28Remove not the ancient landmark which your fathers have set. 29Do you see a man skilful in his work? he will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Prvrb023When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you; 2and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. 3Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. 4Do not toil to acquire wealth; be wise enough to desist. 5When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes to itself wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. 6Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies; 7for he is like one who is inwardly reckoning. “Eat and drink!” he says to you; but his heart is not with you. 8You will vomit up the morsels which you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. 9Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words. 10Do not remove an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless; 11for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.

Some quotes of particular similarity are:

(Proverbs 22:17-18): 17Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; 18for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips.

(Amenemope, ch. 1):”Give thine ear, and hear what I say, And apply thine heart to apprehend; It is good for thee to place them in thine heart, let them rest in the casket of thy belly; That they may act as a peg upon thy tongue”

(Proverbs 22:22): 22Do not rob the poor, because he is poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate;

(Amenemope, ch. 2):”Beware of robbing the poor, and oppressing the afflicted.”

(Proverbs 22:24-5): 24Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, 25lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

(Amenemope, ch. 10): “Associate not with a passionate man, Nor approach him for conversation; Leap not to cleave to such an one; That terror carry thee not away.”

(Proverbs 22:29): 29Do you see a man skilful in his work? he will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.

(Amenemope, ch. 30):”A scribe who is skillful in his business findeth worthy to be a courtier”

(Proverbs 23:1): . Prvrb023When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you; 2and put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite.

(Amenemope, ch. 23): “Eat not bread in the presence of a ruler, And lunge not forward(?) with thy mouth before a governor(?). When thou art replenished with that to which thou has no right, It is only a delight to thy spittle. Look upon the dish that is before thee, And let that (alone) supply thy need.” (see above)

(Proverbs 23:4-5): 4Do not toil to acquire wealth; be wise enough to desist. 5When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes to itself wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.

(Amenemope, ch. 7):”Toil not after riches; If stolen goods are brought to thee, they remain not over night with thee. They have made themselves wings like geese. And have flown into the heavens.”

(Proverbs 14:7): 7Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.

(Amenemope, ch. 21):”Empty not thine inmost soul to everyone, nor spoil (thereby) thine influence”

(Proverbs 23:10): Do not remove an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless;

(Amenemope, ch. 6): “Remove not the landmark from the bounds of the field…and violate not the widows boundary”

(Proverbs 23:12): 12Apply your mind to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

(Amenemope, ch. 1):”Give thine ears, hear the words that are said, give thine heart to interpret them.”

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

The god Amen

The Borrowing of the Flood Narrative

The Flood narrative of Gilgamesh (dated to approximately 1800 BCE):

Gilgamesh said to him, to Utnapishtim, the distant:”I gazeupon thee (in amazement), O Utnapishtim!
Thy appearance has not changed, like unto me thou art also.
And thy nature itself has not changed, like unto me thou art also,
though thou hast departed this life. But my heart has still to struggle
against all that no longer (?) lies upon thee.
Tell me, How didst thou come to dwell (here?) and obtain eternal life among the gods?”

[From the shore Utnapishtim, the favourite of the gods, now relates the story of the deluge to the hero, who, sitting in his ship, is listening to him.]

Utnapishtim then said unto Gilgamesh:
“I will reveal unto thee, O Gilgamesh, the mysterious story,
and the mystery of the gods I will tell thee.
The city of Shurippak, a city which, as thou knowest,
is situated on the bank of the river Euphrates.
That city was corrupt, so that the gods within it
decided to bring about a deluge, even the great gods,
as many as?] there were: their father, Anu;
their counsellor, the warrior Bel;
their leader, Ninib;
their champion, the god En-nu-gi.
But Ea, the lord of unfathomable wisdom, argued with them.
Their plan he told to a reed-hut, (saying):
‘Reed-hut, reed-hut, clay-structure, clay-structure!
Reed-hut, hear; clay-structure, pay attention!
Thou man of Shurippak, son of Ubara-Tutu,
Build a house, construct a ship;
Forsake thy possessions, take heed for thy life!
Abandon thy goods, save (thy) life,
and bring living seed of every kind into the ship.
As for the ship, which thou shalt build,
let its proportions be well measured:
Its breadth and its length shall bear proportion each to each,
and into the sea then launch it.’
I took heed, and said to Ea, my lord:
‘I will do, my lord, as thou hast commanded;
I will observe and will fulfil the command.
But what shall I answer to (the inquiries of) the city,
the people, and the elders?’
Ea opened his mouth and spoke,
and he said unto me, his servant:
‘Man, as an answer say thus unto them:
“I know that Bel hates me. No longer can I live in your city;
Nor on Bel’s territory can I live securely any longer; I will go down to the ‘deep,’ I will live with Ea, my lord.
Upon you he will (for a time?) pour down rich blessing.
He will grant you] fowl [in plenty] and fish in abundance,
Herds of cattle and an abundant] harvest.
Shamash has appointed a time when the rulers of darkness
at eventide will pour down upon you] a destructive rain.”‘

The lower part of Col. I is unfortunately much mutilated. Line 48 seems to read:

As soon as early dawn appeared.

Then continues line 55:

The brightness [of day?] I feared;
All that was necessary I collected together.
On the fifth day I drew its design;
In its middle part its sides were ten gar high;
Ten gar also was the extent of its deck;
I added a front-roof to it and closed it in.
I built it in six stories,
thus making seven floors in all;
The interior of each I divided again into nine partitions.
Beaks for water within I cut out.
I selected a pole and added all that was necessary.
Three (variant, five) shar of pitch I smeared on its outside;
three shar of asphalt I used for the inside (so as to make
it water-tight).
Three shar of oil the men carried, carrying it in vessels.
One shar of oil I kept out and used it for sacrifices,
while the other two shar the boatman stowed away.
For the temple of the gods (?) I slaughtered oxen;
I killed lambs (?) day by day.
Jugs of cider (?), of oil, and of sweet wine,
Large bowls (filled therewith?), like river water (i. e., freely)
I poured out as libations.
I made a feast (to the gods) like that of the New-Year’s Day.
To god Shamash my hands brought oil.
[* * *] the ship was completed.
[* * *] heavy was the work, and
I added tackling above and below, [and after all was finished] ,
The ship sank into water] two thirds of its height.
With all that I possessed I filled it;
with all the silver I had I filled it;
with all the gold I had I filled it;
with living creatures of every kind I filled it.
Then I embarked also all my family and my relatives,
cattle of the field, beasts of the field, and the uprighteous people—all them I embarked.
A time had Shamash appointed, (namely):
‘When the rulers of darkness send at eventide a destructive rain,
then enter into the ship and shut its door.’
This very sign came to pass, and
The rulers of darkness sent a destructive rain at eventide.
I saw the approach of the storm,
and I was afraid to witness the storm;
I entered the ship and shut the door.
I intrusted the guidance of the ship to Purur-bel, the boatman,
the great house, and the contents thereof.
As soon as early dawn appeared,
there rose up from the horizon a black cloud,
within which the weather god (Adad) thundered,
and Nabu and the king of the gods (Marduk) went before.
The destroyers passed across mountain and dale (literally, country).
Dibbara, the great, tore loose the anchor-cable (?).
There went Ninib and he caused the banks to overflow;
the Anunnaki lifted on high (their) torches,
and with the brightness thereof they illuminated the universe.
The storm brought on by Adad swept even up to the heavens
and all light was turned into darkness.
[ ] overflooded the land like * * *
It blew with violence and in one day (?) it rose above the mountains (??).
Like an onslaught in battle it rushed in on the people.
Not could brother look after brother.
Not were recognised the people from heaven.
The gods even were afraid of the storm;
they retreated and took refuge in the heaven of Anu.
There the gods crouched down like dogs, on the inclosure of heaven they sat cowering.
Then Ishtar cried out like a woman in travail
and the lady of the gods lamented with a loud voice, (saying):
‘The world of old has been turned back into clay,
because I assented to this evil in the assembly of the gods.
Alas! that when I assented to this evil in the council of the gods,
I was for the destruction of my own people.
What I have created, where is it?
Like the spawn of fish it fills the sea.’
The gods wailed with her over the Anunnaki.
The gods were bowed down, and sat there weeping.
Their lips were pressed together (in fear and in terror).
Six days and nights
The wind blew, and storm and tempest overwhelmed the country.
When the seventh day drew nigh the tempest, the storm, the battle
which they had waged like a great host began to moderate.
The sea quieted down; hurricane and storm ceased.
I looked out upon the sea and raised loud my voice,
But all mankind had turned back into clay.
Like the surrounding field had become the bed of the rivers.
I opened the air-hole and light fell upon my cheek.
Dumfounded I sank backward, and sat weeping, while over my cheek flowed the tears.
I looked in every direction, and behold, all was sea.
Now, after twelve (days?) there rose (out of the water) a strip of land.
To Mount Nisir the ship drifted.
On Mount Nisir the boat stuck fast and it did not slip away.
The first day, the second day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, and did not let it slip away.
The third day, the fourth day, Mount Nisir held the ship fast, and did not let it slip away.
The fifth day, the sixth day, Mount Nisir held the ship,fast, and did not let it slip away.
When the seventh day drew nigh
I sent out a dove, and let her go.
The dove flew hither and thither,
but as there was no resting-place for her, she returned.
Then I sent out a swallow, and let her go.
The swallow flew hither and thither,
but as there was no resting-place for her she also returned.
Then I sent out a raven, and let her go.
The raven flew away and saw the abatement of the waters.
She settled down to feed, went away, and returned no more.
Then I let everything go out unto the four winds, and I offered a sacrifice.
I poured out a libation upon the peak of the mountain.
I placed the censers seven and seven,
and poured into them calamus, cedar-wood, and sweet incense.
The gods smelt the savour;
yea, the gods smelt the sweet savour;
the gods gathered like flies around the sacrificer.
But when now the lady of the gods (Ishtar) drew nigh,
she lifted up the precious ornaments (?)which Anu had made according to her wish (and said):
‘Ye gods here! by my necklace, not will I forget.
These days will I remember, never will I forget (them).
Let the gods come to the offering;
But Bel shall not come to the offering,
Since rashly he caused the flood-storm,
and handed over my people unto destruction.’
Now, when Bel drew nigh,
and saw the ship, the god was wroth,
and anger against the gods, the Igigi, filled his heart, (and he said):
‘Who then has escaped here (with his life)?
No man was to survive the universal destruction.’
Then Ninib opened his mouth and spoke,
saying unto Bel, the warrior:
‘Who but Ea could have planned this!
For does not Ea know all arts?’
Then Ea opened his mouth and spoke,
saying unto Bel, the warrior:
‘Ay, thou wise one among the gods, thou warrior,
how rash of thee to bring about a flood-storm!
On the sinner visit his sin,and on the wicked his wickedness;
but be merciful, forbear, let not all be destroyed!
Be considerate, let not everything be [confounded]!
Instead of sending a flood-storm,
let lions come and diminish mankind;
Instead of sending a flood-storm,
let tigers come and diminish mankind;
Instead of sending a flood-storm,
let famine come and smite the land;
Instead of sending a flood-storm,
let pestilence come and kill off the people.
I did not reveal the mystery of the great gods.
(Some one?) caused Atrachasis to see (it) in a dream, and so he (Utnapishtim) heard the mystery of the gods.”
Thereupon Bel arrived at a decision.
Bel went up into the ship, took me by the hand and led me out.
He led out also my wife and made her kneel beside me;
He turned us face to face, and standing between us, blessed us, (saying)
‘Ere this Utnapishtim was only human;
But now Utnapishtim and his wife shall be lofty like unto the gods;
Let Utnapishtim live far away (from men) at the mouth of the (two?) rivers.’
Then they took me and let us dwell far away at the mouth of the rivers.”

After Utnapishtim had finished this account, he turned to Gilgamesh and said:

“Now as for thee, which one of the gods shall give thee strength,
that the life thou desirest thou shalt obtain?
Now sleep!” And for six days and seven nights
Gilgamesh resembled one lying lame.
Sleep came over him like a storm wind.
Then Utnapishtim said to his wife:
“Behold, here is the hero whose desire is life (= recovery)!
Sleep came upon him like a storm wind.”
And the wife replied to Utnapishtim, the distant:
“Transform him; let the man eat of the charm-root.
Let him, restored in health, return on the road on which he came.
Let him pass out through the great door unto his own country.”
And Utnapishtim said to his wife:
“The suffering (and torture) of the man pain thee.
Well, then, cook now for him the food and place it at his head.”
And while Gilgamesh slept on board of his ship,
she cooked the food to place it at his head.
And while he slept on board of his ship,
firstly, his food was prepared (?);
secondly, it was peeled;
thirdly, it was moistened;
fourthly, his food (?) was cleaned;
fifthly, shiba (i. e., old age) was added;
sixthly, it was cooked;
seventhly, of a sudden the man was transformed, having eaten of the magic food.
Then spoke Gilgamesh, and said unto Utnapishtim, the distant:
“I had sunk down, and sleep had befallen me.
Of a sudden thou didst charm me, and thus help me” (?).
And Utnapishtim said unto Gilgamesh:
“* * * Gilgamesh partake of (?) thy food.
* * * shall be told unto thee:
firstly, thy food was prepared (?);
secondly, it was peeled;
thirdly, it was moistened;
fourthly, thy food (?) was cleaned;
fifthly, shipa was added;
sixthly, it was cooked;
seventhly, I transformed thee suddenly,
and thou didst eat of the magic food.”
And Gilgamesh said unto Utnapishtim, the distant:
“What?] shall I do, Utnapishtim? whither shall I go?
The demon (of the dead?) has seized my [friend?].
Upon my couch death now sits.
And where my * * * there is death.”
And Utnapishtim said to Urshabani, the ferryman:
“Urshabani, thou * * * at thy side (?), let the boat carry thee;
whosoever attempts to board [the ship?] exclude him from it.
The man, before whom thou goest,
has his body covered with sores,
and the eruption of his skin has altered the beauty of his body.
Take him, Urshabani, and bring him to the place of purification,
where he can wash his sores in water that they may become white as snow;
Let him cast off his (sore?) skin and the sea will carry it away;
His body shall then appear well (and healthy);
Let the turban also be replaced on his head,
and the garment that covers his nakedness.
Until he returns to his city,
until he arrives at his road.
The garment shall not shed [hair?], it shall remain entirely new.”
And Urshabani took him and brought him to the place of purification,
where he washed his sores in water so that they became white as snow;
he cast off his (sore?) skin and the sea carried it away;
his body appeared well (and healthy) again;
He replaced also the turban on his head;
and the garment that covered his nakedness;
until he should return to his city;
until he should arrive at his road;
[the garment did not shed hair], it remained entirely new.
Then Gilgamesh and Urshabani embarked again,
and during their journey the ship tossed to and fro.

[After Gilgamesh and Urshabani had returned from the place of purification:]

The wife of Utnapishtim spoke unto her husband, the distant, (saying):
“Gilgamesh did go away, laboured, and has pulled (the oar?).
What now wilt thou do (or give), that he may return to his country?”
And Gilgamesh lifted up the pole, and drew the boat nearer to the shore.
Then Utnapishtim spoke unto Gilgamesh (and said):
“Gilgamesh, thou didst go away, didst labour and pull (the oar?).
What now shall I give thee, that thou mayest return to thy country?
I will reveal unto thee, Gilgamesh, a mystery,
and [the decision of the gods] I will announce unto thee.
There is a plant resembling buckthorn, its thorn (?) stings like that of a bramble.
When thy hands can reach that plant * * *
[The following lines 286-293 are greatly mutilated]
When Gilgamesh had heard this he opened the * * *
bound heavy stones [to his feet],
which dragged him down to the sea [and thus he found the plant].
Then he grasped the (magic) plant.
He removed [from his feet] the heavy stones [and one fell down?],
and a second he threw down to the [first?].
And Gilgamesh said unto Urshabani, the ferryman:
“Urshabani, this plant is a plant of great renown (or transformation?);
and what man desires in his heart, he obtains.
I will take it to Uruk the strong-walled, I will nurse (plant?) it there and then cut it off.
Its name is (?): ‘Even an old man will be rejuvenated!’
I will eat of this and return (again) to the vigour of my youth.”

[And now they start out to return home to Uruk the strong-walled.]

Every twenty double-leagues they then took a meal:
and every thirty double-leagues they took a rest.
And Gilgamesh saw a well wherein was cool (and refreshing) water;
He stepped into it and poured out some water.
A (demon in the shape of a) serpent darted out; the plant slipped [away from his hands];
he came [out of the well?], and took the plant away,
and as he turned back, he uttered a curse (?).
And after this Gilgamesh sat down and wept.
Tears flowed down his cheeks,
and he said unto Urshabani, the ferryman:
“Why, Urshabani, did my hands tremble?
Why did the blood of my heart stand still?
Not on myself did I bestow any benefit.
tOn the ground-lion (?) this benefit has been bestowed.
After a journey of only twenty double-leagues the plant has been snatched away,
As I opened the well, and lowered the vessel (?).
I see the sign, that has become an omen to me. I am to return,
leaving the ship on the shore.”
Then they continued to take a meal every twenty double-leagues,
and every thirty double-leagues they took a rest,
until they arrived at Uruk the strong-walled.
Gilgamesh then spoke to Urshabani, the ferryman, (and said):
“Urshabani, ascend and walk about on the wall of Uruk,
Inspect the corner-stone, and examine its brick-work,
whether its wall is not made of burned brick, and its foundation (overlaid with?) pitch.
‘Sevenfold is thy name’ (?).
[The closing lines can not be correctly translated.]

Noah and the Flood: Here an all-knowing, all-powerful god doesn’t seem to know everything, as we shall see infra. And this problem cannot be resolved by the “metaphorical” or “allegorical” argument any more than by a “literal interpretation” argument as it stands in either case. The arbitrary pattern of contentment for this Abrahamic god appears as early as Genesis 1:31 where God expresses his happiness with his creation of human beings, something that will fully reverse repeatedly by the time of the flood narrative (a truly beautiful passage deserving a full quote):

1First Story of Creation. Gnsis001[In the beginning YHWH filled out the Lands of the Earth and her skies.L.T.E.D.R.S.C.H.A.E.Y], and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of YHWH was moving over the face of the waters. 3And YHWH said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And YHWH saw that the light was good; and YHWH separated the light from the darkness. 5YHWH called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 6And YHWH said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7And YHWH made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. 8And YHWH called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9And YHWH said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10YHWH called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And YHWH saw that it was good. 11And YHWH said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. 12The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 13And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. 14And YHWH said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, 15and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16And YHWH made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. 17And YHWH set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And YHWH saw that it was good. 19And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. 20And YHWH said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” 21So YHWH created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 22And YHWH blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. 24And YHWH said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25And YHWH made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground according to its kind. And YHWH saw that it was good. 26Then YHWH said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So YHWH created man in his own image, in the image of YHWH he created him; male and female he created them. 28And YHWH blessed them, and YHWH said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29And YHWH said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31And YHWH saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

In Genesis 6 God is unhappy with his creation or is at least surprised at the wickedness of humankind:

1Origin of the Nephilim. Gnsis006When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2the children of YHWH saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3Then YHWH said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of YHWH came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

Warning of the Flood. 5YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And YHWH was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So YHWH said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH. 9These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with YHWH. 10And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11Now the earth was corrupt in YHWH’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And YHWH saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13And YHWH said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

Preparation for the Flood. 14Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22Noah did this; he did all that YHWH commanded him.

And he regrets making humankind. Genesis 6:5-7 elucidates this disappointment clearly as highlighted in bold above. God thus kills almost all animals on Earth because he is sorry that he made humankind. Then God regrets that decision; Genesis 8:21:

121And when YHWH smelled the pleasing odor, YHWH said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.

Another puzzling aspect of this all knowing quality is that God decides to kill off all animals in a manner that results in massive collateral damage. But rather God lacks the sophistication to kill only the “bad” animals. And of course, the logistical problems make this story clearly false.

However, this tale begins to make sense if we assume that this monotheistic version of the story was borrowed from a polytheistic religion that predated Christianity.

In those cases the polytheistic versions do not contain all these contradictions. These gods are not all-knowing and all-powerful, thereby resolving most of the anomalies in the flood story. Several polytheistic flood stories predating the Christian flood story by as much as 1000 years existed. In the flood story of Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 1800 BCE) the “gods” are just getting annoyed with humans because they reproduce too much and they are making too much noise for the gods to sleep. A meeting is held between all these gods to decide what to do about this and it is agreed that a flood will be created to wipe most of them out. In this meeting there is one who disagrees because he has a soft spot for humans in turn because he likes the sacrifices humans offer to the gods. Though he is out voted, he discreetly comes down to Earth and discloses the flood plan to a select small group of people and tells them to “build an ark”. Utnapishtim is the human leader he warns, and he instructs him in the construction of the ark and that he is to take a pair of all animals with him. Then the flood begins.

As the body count begins to mount, the gods begin to have second thoughts about the flood. “Why did we decide to destroy our people”, they asked and they all cried and trembled. So they called a halt to the flood. The clouds parted and Utnapishtim sends out various birds to test for dry ground. All the gods agree that should never do this again and a rainbow appears. This is clearly the same story. Here the gods are not all good or all powerful, so nothing is out of character in doing these things. This is clearly a religion borrowing situation. In other words, the clear distinction in these stories between all knowing and all powerful gods clearly demonstrates plagiarism.

At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

Thought Experiment in the Power of Suggestion

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“In reading Utnapishtim’s flood story I am immediately struck by how this sounds a lot like a story based on a real event for which at least three things appear salient. This could be a case of the power of suggestion, Agenticity and a Need for Closure. I’ll start with the first one. If it is the case that your god is the one true god then Utnapishtim’s account cannot be correct (or at least it would not be convincing to claim that he is just re-telling Noah’s story – if the adherent makes that claim point out that that means that you still don’t know which is god is the one true god because the reverse is also possible – that Noah was just re-telling Utnapishtim’s story and that the gods of the Epic of Gilgamesh are the several, true gods), as he is not Noah and his account does not match Noah’s in all the details. Morever, this narrative has a different role in the different religions involved. So, I am compelled to examine all three of these alternatives, beginning by just accepting the obvious fact that a real historical event could have simply been exaggerated after being told and re-told ad nausea. In fact, this seems to be the best answer for Utnapishtim’s story and makes it an example of the power of suggestion.

So, my question for you is, if I accept that then how is this any different than the flood narrative of Noah, right?” Is not “Noah’s flood” just another example of gradually increasing exaggeration over time?

Thought Experiment in Agenticity

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“The next consideration is what if Utnapishtim’s narrative is an example of Agenticity since, again, it cannot be a true narrative? In this case we have an example of people anthropomorphizing a weather event and ascribing a purpose to it; that is, that a god (or gods in this particular Epic) is behind it. Given that a real, massive flood might have occurred, it is conceivable that this is just a projection of one’s god into an event. And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question for you is, if I accept that then how is this any different than the flood narrative of Noah, right?” Is not “Noah’s flood” just another example of anthropomorphization?

Thought Experiment in the Need for Closure

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“The final consideration is what if Utnapishtim’s narrative is an example of a need for closure by all or some subset of the contemporaneous victim’s of a real, very massive flood? In this consideration, I’m asking how do I know this is not just a case of someone not being able to provide an answer for such a horrible event (in which many must have died and much was destroyed); and therefore filling in the blank with “god did it”; a lurch toward closure that would have been especially needed after such a horrible, traumatic event. This last suggestion seems to fit what we know, since we do have to assume that this story cannot be correct if your god is the one true god. [For a real, deadly flood the fit is good enough that the deconverter should recall the circumstances under which the Primacy Effect is maximized:]

  • Ambiguity – self explanatory
  • Uncertainty – self explanatory
  • Time pressure – possible if the civil infrastructure was damaged or gone
  • Audible Noise – undoubtedly common for many years afterward in the reconstruction
  • Peer accountability for the value assigned – all the contemporaneous peers of this story teller also experienced this event, so the telling of this story must be very accurate as it is a very emotional matter for survivors”

So, my question for you is, if I accept that then how is this any different than the flood narrative of Noah, right?” Is not “Noah’s flood” just another example of the Primacy Effect?

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

The Narrative of the Christ as a Duplicate of Earlier Narratives

Another area of narrative duplication, as previously noted, is in the narrative of a Messiah, which in Christianity was Jesus the Christ. One of the closest approximations of Jesus the Christ is found in Mithraism. In addition to the already noted parallels, Mithra was born in the darkest cave on the longest night. This character comes from the religion of the prophet Zoroaster. However, considerable urban legend surrounds these so-called “parallels”. There are some, but not nearly as many as has oft been claimed.

In Mithraism, the “lower self” or “ego” (also called the nafs ammare in Sufism) is symbolised by a bull. This bull is symbolically sacrificed in order to allow the soul to come to life (similar to if not the same as scapegoating). Mithraism was practiced in the Roman Empire as a fad borrowed from the east. It was incorporated into Christianity to varying degrees and was, over time, filtered out of it. Mithraism included the concepts of Baptism, confession and forgiving of sins which also found their way into Christianity much later (the Mithraist tenets preceded Christianity by hundreds of years). However, Persia was an enemy of the Roman Empire and there was fear of conflict with them. This echoes the typical liberal or progressive situation in the United States vis-à-vis the Soviet Union during the cold war: the popular interest in the progressive community was with all things Soviet. Christianity was wedged into Roman society and supported by the state as a way of blocking Persian influence in the Empire. Therefore, that it was very similar to Mithraism would not be surprising as it needed to be in order to gain adherents. In Mithraism, the term Christ is a latinization of the term Kreest, which is the Mithraic word for “birth of day”, exactly what would be expected for the Messiahs title if he were derived of an ancient sun worshipping tradition. The pronunciation of Christ as Kreest is a well-known, accepted fact amongst scholarly Christian adherents.

Life events shared by Jesus and the Mithraic Messiah:

There are numerous god-men in the ancient Mediterranean area and Middle East. There are many stories that appear both in Jesus’ biography and in the legends of another god-man:

  • Mother’s pregnancy: It was a common belief among early Christians that Mary was pregnant      for only seven months. This legend is preserved in the Gospel of the      Hebrews. Although this gospel was widely used by early Christians, it      was never accepted into the official canon. Semele, mother of Dionysus,      was also believed to have had a 7 month pregnancy.
  • Virgin birth: Author William Harwood has written that Jesus’      “equation in Greek eyes with the resurrected savior-god Dionysos      led an interpolator to insert a virgin-birth myth into the gospel now      known as Matthew.
  • Birth Witnesses:
    • The       gospel of Matthew records that Jesus was visited by an unknown number of       wise men, called Magi.
      • Authors        Freke & Gandy identify them as followers of the god man Mithras from        Persia.
      • Most        other sources believe that they were Zoroastrain priests from Persia who        were experts in astrology. There is a Zoroastrian belief “that a        son of Zoroaster will be born many years after his death by a        virgin…This son will apparantly [sic] raise the dead and crush the        forces of evil. Later Christians got rather excited about this apparant        [sic] pagan prophecy of the coming of the Messiah…
    • The       gospel of Luke records that Jesus was visited by three shepherds. Mithra       the god man from Persia was also visited shortly after birth by three       shepherds.
    • The       magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. A Pagan belief from the 6th       century BCE states that these are the precise materials to use when       worshiping God.
  • Healing: Jesus      is recorded throughout the gospels as healing the sick and restoring the      dead to life. So was Asclepius, a Greek god man. Pagans and early      Christians debated who was the more effective healer.
  • Ministry:      Jesus appeared as a wandering holy man who is later transfigured in the      presence of some of his disciples. Dionysus was portrayed in the same      manner in Euripides’ play The Bacchae, written in 410 BCE.
  • Miracles:
    • Both       Jesus and Empedocles were recorded as teaching spiritual truths, curing       illness, foretelling the future, controlling the wind and rain, and       raising people from the dead.
    • Both       Mithra and Jesus performed many healings of the sick and mentally ill;       both raised the dead.
    • Mark,       chapter 5 describes Jesus driving demons from a man into a herd of about       2,000 pigs who rushed over a cliff and drowned. In Eleusis, about 2,000       initiates would bathe in the sea. Each had a young pig to which the       believers’ sins would be transferred. The pigs were then chased over a       chasm and killed.
  • Fishing:      John 21:11 records that Jesus performed a miracle which enabled Simon      Peter to catch exactly 153 fish. The Pagan Pythagoras considered 153 a      sacred number. The ratio of 153 to 265 was referred to by the Pagan      Archimedes as “the measure of the fish.” That ratio is      used to generate a fish-like shape using two circles. The sign of the fish      was used by the early Christians as their main symbol.
  • Arrest:
    • Both       Dionysus and Jesus celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples before       his death.
    • Dionysus       is described in Euripides’ play The Bacchae as bringing a new       religion to the people, being plotted against by the leaders, being       arrested and appearing before the political ruler. Dionysus said to his       captors “You know not what you are doing..,” almost       replicating Jesus’ words at the cross. He was unjustly accused and       executed. All of these themes are seen in the Gospels.
  • Crucifixion & resurrection:
    • Jesus’       body was wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrh and aloe. Osiris was       also said to have been wrapped in linen and anointed with myrrh.

Again, the god men myths had been circulating well before Jesus birth. The Christians would have copied earlier Pagan material, not vice-versa.

Recent archaeological digs are revealing just how far back in time the “duplicate” narrative of Jesus as found in Mithraism goes. Some detractors had previously suggested that the Mithraic Messiah was actually more recent than the Jesus the Christ narrative. However, these digs in Iran in 2006 and those ongoing have now definitively demonstrated that the narrative of the Mithraic Messiah existed well back into the history of Mithraism itself. For more information about this one can vist www.iranchamber.com.

Thought Experiment in Insufficient Justification

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“I noted earlier that Semele, the mother of Dionysus in the Mithraic myth of the virgin birth, seemed more like a case of insufficient justification than anything else. But now that question comes in a whole new light when we look at the similarities above. And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these alternative narratives, right?

So, my question for you is, how is this any different than the divine insemination of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus, especially given how similar these two stories really are? Is there any argument you can provide that would undermine the obvious and natural path to which this leads; which is that we in fact should accept insufficient justification for the case of Mary because so many other aspects of the story are duplicated?”

In the case of miracles and healing we have a unique situation as this is the one thing that taps into all 6 symptoms of a core belief in a god or gods. We’ll just bulletize them here and the deconverter can formulate these into questions for the adherent as in all the other cases:

  1. Induction Fail – a person is “healed” at the same time the sickness clears or the disease is cured or otherwise no longer symptomatic for medical reasons.
  2. Agenticity – miracles become believable when people see this as a divine purpose
  3. Misinformation Effect: the Power of Suggestion –  what appeared to be a miracle is really just exaggeration
  4. Informational Influence – many adherents believe it so, it is likely any newcomer or follower afterward would also.
  5. Insufficient Justification – miracles, by their nature, will get repeated ad nausea, which has the consequence of building belief
  6. Need for Closure – the inability to understand why someone died or got sick can inflate the Primacy Effect.

Thought Experiment in Confirmation Bias

The deconverter should begin with a question posed to the adherent as something like this,

“As you might know the early Christian adherents lived in the Roman Empire, a nation-state that was heavily influenced by Persia and Persian religious ideas.
One of those was Mithraism and historians appear to all be on the same page as far as concluding that pagan beliefs in that time adopted considerable components of Mithraism. Since these practices we’ve discussed occurred before the time of Jesus, I think it is fair to ask if the pre-existing beliefs of the Mithraic adherents regarding the divine insemination of a woman, having possibly been adopted within Christian culture and being well-known at that time, were just confirmed by the claims made regarding the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy and child birth, right? And if we are to assume that your god is the one true god there must be some other explanation for these Mithraic narratives, right?

So, my question for you is, how is the Mithraic account any different than the divine insemination of Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus; whereby the narrative regarding Mary simply confirmed a pre-existing belief?”

Thus, the way to frame this to the adherent is to formulate it as a question that sincerely puzzles the deconverter and begs for an answer from the adherent. Even if this starts a minor debate over a minor detail it is not an issue because it does not bear directly on a religious question for the adherent. Indeed, some debate over purely secular items or sub-topics is preferable because it will imprint this into the adherent’s memory, which is the whole point of this exercise. But, the deconverter must be careful to correctly identify what the secular items are and should never debate a religious item; or even one that might appear to be religious. The adherent need not “agree” with the view you are implying; they only need to remember this conversation.

In ancient times celestial observations were a preoccupation and fascination of most of humankind. The Sun, being the provider of warmth, light (and security) and the energy needed for crops, was associated with the notion of the “good”, while the absence thereof was associated with the bad. And that is not altogether unreasonable when understood in that way. But other celestial objects were also significant. Of great import in ancient times was the concept of the zodiac, which was a mapping of the stars in the sky through one cycle of Earth’s precession and whose design was a visual template of various animals observed on Earth; a kind of anthropomorphized view of the stars in the sky. It was divided, in the Greek and Egyptian versions, into 12 such animals, each animal being “drawn out” by the connecting lines between various prominent stars in the sky. It is one of the oldest conceptual images in human history. It depicts the path of the Sun in the course of one Solar year as it moves across the stellar formations in the sky template by the 12 animals. Numerous myths and legends grew up around each of these anthropomorphized characters and the relationships between them. In this sense they were also personified. But we point out that the so-called 12 constellations were not universally used around the globe. Some zodiacs had different numbers of constellatiosn for their zodiac, such as the Babylonians (18 constellations), the Maya (20 constellations),  In fact, even the zodiacs based on 12 constellations constitute an omission of one constellation, giving the ancient originals 13 constellations (it is not clear why it was dropped, but it was called Ophiucus)

Additional indications of religious myth borrowing can be found in the narrative of the Christian Messiah, “Jesus of Nazareth”.

In the manner and methodology of Morozov’s historical narrative comparison, we note the following characteristic “objective facts” of the Christian narrative of the Christ:

1.)   Born of a virgin

2.)   Born on 25 December

3.)   Adored by 3 Kings

4.)   Was crucified

5.)   Was dead for 3 days

6.)   Was resurrected

7.)   His birth was announced by a star in the east

8.)   Was a child teacher prodigy at the age of 12

9.)   At the age of 30 he was baptized

10.) Had 12 disciples he traveled with

11.) Performed “miracles”

12.) Known as the “King of Kings”, “Son of God”, “The Light of the World”, “the Alpha and the Omega”, “the Lamb of God”, etc.

13.) Was betrayed by a friend

It has been claimed that these traits are common to several Messiah narratives. This is false; a popular urban legend. Do not repeat these urban legends to an adherent. But some patterns do exist. The reason for this appears to be related to what they all had in common; to wit, the following underlying, primitive beliefs in the following:

1.)   The natural, astronomical “birth sequence” in which the brightest star in the sky, “Sirius”, is known as the “star in the east”. On December 24 Sirius aligns with the brightest stellar triplet in Orion’s belt, called the “Three Kings” which all point, when aligned in the sky, to the position of the rising sun on December 25 (winter solstice). On this day, the Three Kings follow the “star in the east” to find the “rising” Sun, or the “birth” of the Son. [this needs to be rigorously checked; is being hotly debated on two sides. The mechanics are going to take me some time but I’ll update]

2.)   The Virgin Mary could be viewed as the constellation Virgo (latin for “virgin”), also known as “Virgo the Virgin”. This is a loose connection but still a similarity between different things.

3.)   The celestial motion of Earth leading up to December 22 reflects a gradual minimizing of the Sun’s strength and intensity in the northern hemisphere, consequently denoting the death of the sun to the ancients. From December 22 to December 24 inclusive, the Sun reposes in its latitude to the naked eye, thence reversing and turning one degree north on December 25 (during this time its motion varies by less than one degree). On December 25 then, the Sun is born again and begins to increase in its strength and intensity. During this virtual repose the Sun aligns with the Southern Cross, a stellar formation in the Earth sky. That is, the Sun rests on the cross for 3 days and is then born again on December 25. This process is delayed on the calendar until Easter since this is the time of the year when the Sun overcomes the darkness (days are longer than nights). The Southern Cross can be viewed from tropical latitudes of the northern hemisphere moving low across the horizon. Therefore, the Southern Cross is in fact visible from southern Egypt. As far as the “repose” is concerned, this author believes it is reasonable to think a forger could have easily viewed it this way (which is what is relevant here, not what we now know is actually occurring) and thought that the Sun reposed for 3 days due to the margin of error intrinsic in their observational abilities at that time. Not until well after Ptolemy could accuracies sufficient to observe this difference be had. Adding to the misperception is the fact that the Sun at its maxima and minima will require twice as much time, ceteris paribus, to deflect sufficiently to be observed by instruments of such limited tolerance.

4.)   The significance of the number 12 is also clear; in the 12 disciples and the age of 12. This number is analogous to the 12 constellations of the zodiac. This number is replete through Christian Canon. While there are other numbers in Canon that are repeated frequently, this does not alter the significance of this specific similarity.

When we examine the etymology of the words “sun” and “son”, the result once again produces a very tantalizing and suspicious bit of information.

Ancient Greek: Helios = Sun

Ancient Greek: (h)yios = Son [the “h” was sometimes pronounced depending on dialect and period]

Ancient Hebrew Bar = Son

Ancient Hebrew Hammas or Semes = Sun

In the ancient Greek we surprisingly have the same homophone as we do in English. Given the dramatic similarity of the Jesus narrative to the celestial particulars described above, it would be crudely disingenuous to ignore this without further analysis. First, we note that there does appear to be a willful and deliberate attempt in the construction of the Jesus narrative to model it on these celestial particulars. In other words, the Jesus narrative, when compared to these celestial particulars and the motif it creates, makes arguing that this was not a pure fiction seem disingenuous. It is hard to imagine all these particulars occurring due to chance alone.

At this point we might better progress our understanding of this by putting on a detective’s hat for a minute. Why would someone create a narrative such as this and base it on an apparent obsession with a celestial motif? Truly, there is not enough information with this alone to be sure this is not due to chance, much less to figure out why, in the case of a willful and deliberate construction, someone would do this. We should recall that all the urban legends about the birth narrative of Jesus being similar to the birth narratives of other Messiahs of other religions are, as such, not true. So, there is no plagiarizing or duplication issue involved. And we note that the zodiac in this motif is essentially Greek and Egyptian. And now, the final piece of this puzzle is that this “Sun” to “Son” homophone completes and ties in the connection of the celestial motif to the Jesus narrative. But there’s a catch. It only does so as we progress back in time to the ancient Greek, but not before. The detective in this case, like us, can apply Occam’s Razor and quickly see what the most likely explanation is. The most likely explanation for all these facts, when taken together, is that the Jesus narrative was a fabrication done willfully and deliberately based on a celestial motif. And the most likely reason for the motif used we’ll examine next. Whoever did this was likely enamored with Egypt and the primal beliefs that framed this celestial motif. But even more interesting is how the homophone identifies the language of the fabricator. It was Greek. We know this because the fabricator had the same oversight that the reader might have had when they read of the celestial particular number 3; namely, that the homophone “Sun” and “Son” is strictly language dependent. It is this oversight; that is, the homophone, and the fact that it extended back into the Greek but no further, that gives up the fabrication of the Jesus narrative and points to the Greek transcription as the point where it was introduced. It was the unlikely stroke of “luck” whereby the homophone for “Son” and “Sun” exists in both English and Greek that allowed us to expose this significant fact.

The deconverter should not present this overall picture of forgery as a fact, only as an honest hypothesis that the adherent can accept or reject. The key condition is that the deconverter should be careful to provide all sides to that debate. And there is no basis for narrative borrowing from other religions to the extent that it implies full duplication. However, one exception to the rule of originality in the Jesus narrative comes from Egypt, which in turn supports the idea that there is some disproportionate interest in Egypt in the minds of the forgers, if it had been forged. But we shall see that to call it a duplication is a bit much. These are merely similarities that point to disproportionate infuence from Egyptian culture but not necessarily a total plagiarization. Thoth, in Egyptian Tchehuti or Tehuti and author of the texts that form the PER-T EM HRU, also known as the Book of the Dead, was believed by the Egyptians to have been the heart and mind of the Creator, who was in very early times in Egypt called by the natives “Pautti,” and by foreigners “Rā.” Thoth was also the “tongue” of the Creator, and he at all times voiced the will of the great god, and spoke the words which commanded every being and thing in heaven and in earth to come into existence. His words were almighty and once uttered never remained without effect. He framed the laws by which heaven, earth and all the heavenly bodies are maintained; he ordered the courses of the sun, moon, and stars; he invented drawing and design and the arts, the letters of the alphabet and the art of writing, and the science of mathematics. In the early period he was called the “scribe (or secretary) of the Great Company of the Gods,” and as he kept the celestial register of the words and deeds of men, he was regarded by many generations of Egyptians as the “Recording Angel.” He was the inventor of physical and moral Law and became the personification of Justice; and as the Companies of the Gods of Heaven, and Earth, and the Other World appointed him to “weigh the words and deeds” of men, and his verdicts were unalterable, he became more powerful in the Other World than Osiris himself. Osiris owed his triumph over Set in the Great Judgment Hall of the Gods entirely to the skill of Thoth of the “wise mouth” as an Advocate, and to his influence with the gods in heaven. And every follower of Osiris relied upon the advocacy of Thoth to secure his acquittal on the Day of Judgment, and to procure for him an everlasting habitation in the Kingdom of Osiris.

Now, contrast this with how John’s beautiful prologue describes Jesus:

GJohn001In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with YHWH, and the Word was YHWH. 2He was in the beginning with YHWH; 3all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from YHWH, whose name was John. 7He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.

To understand this eloquent prose we need to break down the statements. Here, John is describing the Christ as the “tongue” of God, that is, the Word. And all things are made through him in the same way that “He framed the laws by which heaven, earth and all the heavenly bodies are maintained; he ordered the courses of the sun, moon, and stars”. That Jesus was, ”5The light  [that] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it …”,  made him the “…the personification of Justice”.

Consulting our previous treatment of Proverbs and the Book of the Dead (which does not speak to the Messiah, per se) and our treatment of the Christ in the Afterlife section (here similarities are found both for a Messiah and an afterlife) we can see that the degree of borrowing from ancient Egypt is clearly not coincidental. The deconverter should reference the Afterlife section at this point and should then repeat it as an overview when they reach the afterlife section.

The virgin birth scene; long before the Christian version

Okay, so what is really going on here? The reader may be wondering if there isn’t something deeper going on. And that suspicion would be correct, however, it does not serve the purposes of deconversion to discuss it with the adherent. Having said that, a brief aside is in order. This author believes that the reason for the duplications in narratives is directly due to the fact, only gradually being acknowledged now in academia, that the Scaligarian chronology of recorded history is dreadfully wrong, as currently understood. This is something I engage in other works and which I believe explains all the duplications seen here inasmuch as it demonstrates that all these narratives are referring to a single myth, but not a single truth.

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

Characteristic 4

This is a depiction of Shemesh or Shamash, the god shared by both Abrahamic religions and the ancient Babylonian religion. The man depicted is believed to be a depiction of Shemesh. The Zoroastrian symbol was derived of this one. The first known, secular reference to Shemesh appeared in 2600 BCE.

The Jahve Stone

We call this the Jahve stone because, for one thing, as we shall see, Jahve (pronounced YO-VAY) was the personal name of the Abrahamic god and, for the other thing, can be likened to the Rosetta Stone for its ability to tie seemingly disparate information together in a shocking manner. The Abrahamic god’s personal name was YHWH, which in Hebrew is pronounced YO-VAY.

It begins as a tangent from the whole worshiping of the sun motif previously described. Curiously, the idea that Jesus was a stand-in for a sun god gains support from Malachi 4:2 which is referring to the Messiah when it says:

12But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.

Notice that “sun” is spelled as to indicate a star, not a person. And this is not a translation error. The Hebrew term for “sun” is “Shemesh”. In the case of offspring it would have been “ben”. And Shemesh was the word used in Malachi and is the same word for the sun god of the Babylonians. Oops. The actual linguistic connection is through a cognate Hebrew shares with the Akkadian word, suggesting an origin even before the Babylonians! To be clear, Shemesh historically preceded the Abrahamic god by orders of magnitude (was established at least by 2600 BCE).  By contrast, the earliest secular reference to the term YHWH (pronounced YO – VUH), or the existence of such a god, is found on the Mesha Stele dated to about 840 BCE. It is also important to understand that the transliteration methods from ancient Hebrew are not a certain science, and it is possible to transliterate YHWH as JHWH, so that even the consonants are not certain. And JHWH is just the name of a volcano god of the Midianites, latinized as “Jahve”. Oddly, King Akehnaton of Egypt, who created the first monotheistic religion, and Hammurabi have narrative parallels to Moses as well. The Midianites are a rather suspicious historical group. It is unclear what their origins actually are but use of this same god is suggestive of the idea that all three derive from a common source.

The Mesha Stele relict, what should be one of the most important archaeological specimens in all of Judaism as well as Christendom (not so much in Islam). Popularized in the 19th century as the “Moabite Stone”, it is a black basalt stone bearing an inscription by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab in Jordan. It is presently housed at Paris, France.

So, it is important to understand that this indicates that the Hebrew borrowed this word from the Babylonians as it was intended in Hebrew to refer to that god. This is the god whom King Hammurabi received his laws from from atop a mountain (as Moses did). This definitively ties the Abrahamic religion to an origin with the Babylonians.

This is analogous to a real world scenario best described through a thought experiment. Suppose we let “A” be a person who tells a story from her childhood to two friends – call them adherents – years later who did not know her as a child. A also tells both friends her full name. Now, the two friends of A don’t know each other. But suppose some day a man, B, makes the acquaintance of both adherents, even though the two adherents still never meet or know of each other’s existence. Now, suppose B hears the same childhood story of A from both adherents on separate occasions. B now cleverly inquires, separately and privately of course, of both adherents what the name of the person was who told them this story. Each provides the name of A. Now B knows that this childhood story originated with A, was communicated from A to both adherents, or from A to one witness who passed it to the other. Any number of intermediaries could have existed. And B wisely follows up by asking when did each adherent hear this story, that is, on what date did they hear the story. B now knows exactly what happened beyond any reasonable doubt. And, if you were in B’s position you would have absolutely no doubt of this. So, you can now so easily see, this fluke of Midianite history is telling us something explosive. The religion of Judaism was in fact a narrative duplicate of a religion from Babylon.

“A” is YHWH, or the person who fabricated YHWH, and the childhood story is the story of Moses/Hammurabi going up on an actively volcanic mountain, obtaining tablets with laws written on them from a god with a specific name, that is, YHWH, and returning back from the mountain to his people to share a set of laws whose content is, at least to some degree, described and specified in the story. The man “B” is the Midianites. The two adherents are the Jewish faith leadership and the Babylonian faith leadership.

The conclusion is irrefutable. This bizarre fluke of history, by itself, seemingly could topple the entire Judaic religion and the Old Testament of Christianity which, by extension, would be all of Christianity. But regardless of the quality of evidence obtained, some degree of quantity is required. In other words, this can’t by itself absolutely prove our contention but it is one of the highest quality pieces of evidence available to demonstrate religious borrowing by Judaism and Christianity.

So, we note that Sikhism was created in the 1500s from distinct pieces of Islam and Hindu. Voodoo was created in Haiti in the 1700s and 1800s. When Catholic missionaries arrived to convert the Natives of Haiti, the Natives, having originated from Africa, took Catholic candles, baptism, crosses, bells and combined them with traditional African religious practices such as rituals involving drums, ancestor worship, dancing.  Why would a Creator take half accurate and half inaccurate pieces to form a heathen religion? Once the adherent agrees to these situations being absurd, we will introduce the same borrowing and commingling within Christianity.

Eusebius

The Eusebius Stone

When addressing the mythical nature of Jesus Christ, one issue repeatedly raised is the purported “evidence” of his existence to be found in the writings of Flavius Josephus, the famed Jewish general and historian who lived from about 37 to 100 CE. In Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews appears the notorious passage regarding Christ called the “Testimonium Flavianum” (“TF”):

But what is often not fully understood or appreciated is the fact that, if it can be shown to be a forgery, the problems this creates for all of Christianity run far deeper than appearances suggest. For if this is a forgery, it is one that required the resources of the Roman Churches, or some centralized authority, in order to execute because of the thoroughness with which originals were destroyed and forged copies were made.

But it gets worse. These references are the only secular references or documentation we have of the existence of a man named Jesus, much less of one who was the Christ. Therefore, the more salient question might be, if this was forged, not just under the hand of the forger, but by the efforts of a centralized authority, why do so? When answered the problem is obvious. With no documentation of the Christs’ existence those who have something to gain from a completely fabricated religion will do whatever they must to provide some compelling evidence.

If such a person had really existed, and even if in that case no evidence for that claim was known at that time, no successful institution is going to stake its entire future on a forgery that might not ever be necessary.

This may not at first be clear. But when we begin to think like the forger it makes more sense. We can imagine a forged Papal Bull (which has happened) wherein, if it had been a legitimate Bull, forgery would make no sense because the presumption is that the Bull will be carried out faithfully. And even if it was misunderstood, lost, or ignored for some other reason, there is a process by which this can be overcome (such as by issuing a Bull clarifying the former Bull). Likewise, had Jesus really existed it would be a far better cost-benefit plan to expend an effort to find evidence for this existence, or to create anew or bolster non-evidentiary appeals, than to risk permanently ruining the entire institution’s reputation – and likely the fraud it is perpetrating – for eternity. If it had been a lone-wolf this logic might not hold since an individual might not do such a good job of cost-benefit analysis. But a well oiled institution would have. Any professional with the right experience intuitively knows this, no matter how old the institution.

So, we will examine why virtually all scholars on this subject have accepted the fact that two passages attributed to Josephus were obvious forgeries. One was a passage in which Josephus ostensibly acknowledged the existence of a man named Jesus, and in another were he refers to his brother while referring to Jesus as the Christ.

“3. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”

Antiquities (18.3.3) and known as the Testimonium Flavianum and

“… so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions] … “

We will first enumerate and characterize all the contemporaneous and near-contemporaneous witnesses who saw these writings but apparently did not see the passages in question. The following is a list of important Christian witnesses who studied and/or mentioned Josephus but conspicuously (because of the extent of their comments on Josephus’ work generally) not the Jesus passage:

  • Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165),      who obviously pored over Josephus’s works, makes no mention of the TF.
  • Theophilus (d. 180), Bishop of      Antioch–no mention of the TF.
  • Irenaeus (c. 120/140-c. 200/203),      saint and compiler of the New Testament, has not a word about the TF.
  • Clement of Alexandria (c.      150-211/215), influential Greek theologian and prolific Christian writer,      head of the Alexandrian school, says nothing about the TF.
  • Origen (c. 185-c. 254), no      mention of the TF and specifically states that Josephus did not believe      Jesus was “the Christ.”
  • Hippolytus (c. 170-c. 235), saint      and martyr, nothing about the TF.
  • The author of the ancient Syriac      text, “History of Armenia,” refers to Josephus but not the TF.
  • Minucius Felix (d. c. 250),      lawyer and Christian convert–no mention of the TF.
  • Anatolius (230-c. 270/280)–no      mention of TF.
  • Chrysostom (c. 347-407), saint      and Syrian prelate, not a word about the TF.
  • Methodius, saint of the 9th      century–even at this late date there were apparently copies of Josephus      without the TF, as Methodius makes no mention of it.
  • Photius (c. 820-891), Patriarch      of Constantinople, not a word about the TF, again indicating copies of      Josephus devoid of the passage, or, perhaps, a rejection of it because it      was understood to be fraudulent.

Witnesses that expressly denied this passage existed, by an overt statement or implication:

1.)   In chapter 25 of Origen against Celsus Origen openly affirmed that Josephus, who had mentioned John the Baptist, did not acknowledge Christ.

2.)   It is not quoted by Photius [9th century], though he has three articles concerning Josephus; and this author expressly states that this historian has not taken the least notice of Christ.

3.)   In the sixteenth century Vossius had a manuscript of the text of Josephus in which there was not a word about Jesus.

4.)   In the 5th century, Church father Jerome (c. 347-c.419) cited the TF once, with obvious disinterest, as if he knew it was fraudulent. In addition to his reference to the TF, in his Letter XXII.

5.)   12th century historian Gerald of Wales related that a “Master Robert of the Priory of St. Frideswide at Oxford examined several Hebrew copies of Josephus that did not contain the ‘testimony about Christ’.

Arguments Against Authenticity Further Elucidated

When the evidence is scientifically examined, it becomes clear that the entire Josephus passage regarding Jesus was forged, likely by Church historian Eusebius, during the fourth century.

  • “It was not quoted or      referred to by any Christian apologists prior to Eusebius, c. 316 ad.
  • “The extraordinary character      of the things related in the passage–of a man who is apparently more than      a man, and who rose from the grave after being dead for three      days–demanded a more extensive treatment by Josephus, which would      undoubtedly have been forthcoming if he had been its author.
  • “The passage interrupts the      narrative, which would flow more naturally if the passage were left out      entirely.
  • “It is not quoted by      Chrysostom (c. 354-407 ad) even though he often refers to Josephus in his      voluminous writings.
  • “It is not quoted by      Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 858-886 ad) even though he wrote      three articles concerning Josephus, which strongly implies that his copy      of Josephus’ Antiquities did not contain the passage.
  • “Neither Justin Martyr      (110-165 AD), nor Clement of Alexandria (153-217 ad), nor Origen      (c.185-254 AD), who all made extensive reference to ancient authors in      their defence of Christianity, has mentioned this supposed testimony of      Josephus.
  • “Origen, in his treatise      Against Celsus, Book 1, Chapter 47, states categorically that Josephus did      not believe that Jesus was the Christ.

A well known author named G.A. Wells who wrote both The Jesus Legend and The Jesus Myth had this to say:

“As I noted in The Jesus Legend, there is an ancient table of contents in the Antiquities which omits all mention of the Testimonium. Feldman (in Feldman and Hata, 1987, p. 57) says that this table is already mentioned in the fifth- or sixth-century Latin version of the Antiquities, and he finds it ‘hard to believe that such a remarkable passage would be omitted by anyone, let alone by a Christian summarizing the work.'” (Wells, JM, 201)

The Catholic Encyclopedia (“Flavius Josephus”) states:

“… Josephus…was chosen by the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem to be commander-in-chief in Galilee. As such he established in every city throughout the country a council of judges, the members of which were recruited from those who shared his political views.”

Indeed, Josephus was a well-educated Jew who lived in the precise area where the gospel tale was said to have taken place, as did his parents, the latter at the very time of Christ’s alleged advent.[this would have made Josephus one of the best placed witnesses for Jesus especially considering that he was an historian. This argument is slippery for it is really arguing, first, that Jesus’ story was not real since if it were Josephus would surely have written much more about it. And thus, by extension, the TF must be forged if Jesus’ story is not true.]

Regarding the TF, as well as the James passage, which possesses the phrase James, the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, Jewish writer ben Yehoshua makes some interesting assertions:

Yehoshua claims that the 12th century historian Gerald of Wales related that a “Master Robert of the Priory of St. Frideswide at Oxford examined many Hebrew copies of Josephus and did not find the ‘testimony about Christ,’ except for two manuscripts where it appeared [to Robert, evidently] that the testimony had been present but scratched out.”

Other modern authors who criticize the TF include The Jesus Mysteries authors Freke and Gandy, who conclude:

“Unable to provide any historical evidence for Jesus, later Christians forged the proof that they so badly needed to shore up their Literalist interpretation of the gospels. This, as we would see repeatedly, was a common practice.” (Freke and Gandy, 137)

A bit part player in this was a man named Tacitus, who was quoted as writing:

“Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind”.

Annals (written ca. 116 AD), book 15, chapter 44

This appears to be a historical reference to Jesus of Nazareth. However, it also appears to be hearsay. In situations like this the usual approach is to corroborate. However, we cannot get the desired minimum three sources usually considered necessary. Though Tacitus was a historian, this isn’t sufficient to overcome the hearsay problem. Curiously, the only other person to have reported on the existence of Jesus was Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born 61 CE, aka, Pliny the Younger, who happened to be a friend of Tacitus. And, interestingly, Pliny was an “augur”, which was a priest of the official Roman religion. This career also was considered closely allied with political careers of the time. The nexus of two people in acquaintance and friendship, both commenting on Jesus, both of whose works survived so many years, and one being an expert in religion and the other an expert in history, is suspicious. Pliny described Christians but did not testify as to the veracity of the existence of Jesus.

Finally, one historian, named Thallus, was reported by another historian Africanus, to have also referenced Jesus a mere 20 years after the purported crucifixion. But what is truly interesting about this report is that Thallus seems to suggest that the darkness that fell at the crucifixion was not a miracle but a lunar eclipse. This agrees with the celestial data which dates the life of the purported Jesus to around 1000 CE (see the Scaligar chronology problem). Curiously, a Christian chronologer named George Syncellus wrote of the Africanus reference to Thallus’ comment on the crucifixion and lunar eclipse around the 9th Century. If we take this report seriously, this further supports the date of around 1000 CE, some 1000 years after the crucifixion supposedly occurred. This is because of the very unique conditions required mathematically to have an eclipse of that kind in that part of the world. The only matching date falls near 1000 CE. Africanus’ account of what Thallos wrote was:

“This event followed each of his deeds, and healings of body and soul, and knowledge of hidden things, and his resurrection from the dead, all sufficiently proven to the disciples before us and to his apostles: after the most dreadful darkness fell over the whole world, the rocks were torn apart by an earthquake and much of Judaea and the rest of the land was torn down. Thallus calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun in the third book of his Histories, without reason it seems to me. For….how are we to believe that an eclipse happened when the moon was diametrically opposite the sun?”

Though concerned about how a lunar eclipse could have occurred, one should keep in mind that all Africanus is suggesting is (perhaps unwittingly) that the narrative was fabricated based on a real eclipse (the dates were changed in the fabrication). And we know the exact date, and only date, that that eclipse could have occurred.

The Suspect, the Nexus to this story: Eusebius (c. 264-340)

In order to clarify just how obvious it is that this man forged not only all the references to Jesus in the Antiquities, but probably much more, we’ll start with his own words:

“I have repeated whatever may redound to the glory and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion” and

“It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a treatment” and

“We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity”.

But what is truly remarkable about these quotes is that in such an ancient time it isn’t as though microphones, cell phone cameras and 24 hour news channels were commonplace. That not one but three fantastic quotes like this survived, of all the scant material that could have survived, is astonishing in what it implies. This was not a man of probity. Now that we have motivated the discussion, we can examine the rest of the evidence.

In addition to acknowledging the spuriousness of the Josephus passage, many authorities quoted here agreed with the obvious: Church historian Eusebius was the forger of the entire Testimonium Flavianium. Various reasons have already been given for making such a conclusion. In “Did Jesus Really Live?” Marshall Gauvin and many others have noted that:

1.)   The TF is written in the style of Eusebius, and not in the style of Josephus.

2.)   Moreover, the word “tribe” in the TF is another clue that the passage was forged by Eusebius, who is fond of the word, while Josephus uses it only in terms of ethnicity, never when describing a religious sect.

3.)   “Eusebius studied Josephus diligently, and could thus masquerade as he, except when he used the word ‘tribe’ to describe the Christians. All the literature from the Ante-Nicene Fathers show they never used the word ‘tribe’ or ‘race’ with reference to the Christians, was [sic] either by the Fathers or when they quoted non-Christian writers. Tertullian, Pliny the Younger, Trajan, Rufinus–none use ‘tribe’ to refer to Christians. Eusebius is the first to start the practice.”

This indicates the likelihood that Eusebius was the author of the forgery acting on behalf of a centralized authority that had the resources to expurgate all old references by destroying copies throughout Europe and to reintroduce versions that included scribe copies of Eusebius’ alteration. The most likely candidate for this, and the only one that I know of that fits this requirement, would be the Roman Churches.

Forgery of Christian Texts

How We Detect Forgery

While it may not be common knowledge there is a general consensus amongst historians that Christian forgery was rampant from the 6th to the 12th Century especially. This raises questions about forgery more generally; that is, in the Judaic faith, in Islam and in any other religion.

Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of forgery in the Christian religion has been the scandal involving what is known as the Codex Sinaiticus. This is an exemplar of the scriptural canon written on the interval [325 CE, 360 CE] in the contemporaneous Greek language. Anyone with an ounce of appreciation for truth should be infuriated by this ongoing disaster. The Codex was originally seen, at least for the first time it was recorded for the significant thing it was, in 1761. Its exact provenance predating this is unknown. But by 1911 a facsimile of the text had been put together and published. Perhaps not so oddly, however, it remained in the obscure ancient Greek language which only a handful of elitists could even read. As of 2011 there is still no English version available to the general public. This author has completed a translation (December 25, 2011) to English of the New Testament of the Codex Sinaiticus and it is available in Seeking YHWH, which anyone may request free of charge. The Codex Sinaiticus version of the Bible completely dismantles Christianity and clearly shows the hand of deliberate, knowing fraud. This book alone could serve all the needs of a deconverter by itself, depending on the adherent addressed. But again, the caution is that no statements of fact are made, only questions posed. The adherent should be free to hear the facts and make up their own mind.

The story of this remarkably old set of scriptural specimens began with the Italian traveller, Vitaliano Donati, when he visited the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Sinai, Egypt. His diary was published in 1879, in which was written:

“In questo monastero ritrovai una quantità grandissima di codici membranacei… ve ne sono alcuni che mi sembravano anteriori al settimo secolo, ed in ispecie una Bibbia in membrane bellissime, assai grandi, sottili, e quadre, scritta in carattere rotondo e belissimo; conservano poi in chiesa un Evangelistario greco in caractere d’oro rotondo, che dovrebbe pur essere assai antico”.

In this monastery I found a great number of parchment codices … there are some which seemed to be written before the seventh century, and especially a Bible (made) of beautiful, very large, thin and square parchments, written in round and very beautiful letters; moreover there are also in the church a Greek Evangelistarium in gold and round letters, it should be very old.

The “Bible on beautiful vellum” is probably the Codex Sinaiticus, and the gold evangelistarium is likely Lectionary 300 on the Gregory-Aland list.

After this, the story picks up with the “true” discoverer of the text, inasmuch as he was the first to subject it to scrutiny and study.

The history of this manuscript is closely connected with the German theologian and adventurer Konstantin von Tischendorf, who found this codex in the Egyptian desert of Mount Sinai in the middle of the 19th century. He discovered and published the earliest complete copy of the New Testament and large parts of the Old Testament. According to the German Institute for New Testament Textual Research at Münster, there are 5,746 surviving manuscripts of parts of the New Testament in Greek but only 60 of them include the whole New Testament. Only nine of these 60 manuscripts were written before the eleventh century (Mc- Dr. Ekkehard Henschke was Director of Leipzig University Library, Leipzig, Germany, from 1992 to 2005. Now retired, he lives in Oxford at 9 Wren Road, Oxford OX2 7SX, UK; E-mail: ekkehardhenschke@yahoo.de An early version of this paper was delivered at the Edinburgh Conference of the Society of Biblical Literature on July 4, 2006. Libri, 2007, vol. 57, pp. 45–51 Printed in Germany All rights reserved Copyright Saur 2007 Libri ISSN 0024-2667 The German theologian Konstantin von Tischendorf discovered the oldest manuscript of the Bible in the mid dle of the 19th century. Thereafter its parts were dispersed and stored in famous libraries in London, Leipzig and St. Pe tersburg, and in St. Catherine’s Monastery near Mount Sinai, its original home. An international consortium of libraries has been formed to preserve and research all the parts of this manuscript and then to unite them in digital form. This will result in a virtual Codex Sinaiticus on the Internet, though there will also be a printed version. Standards for pres erva tion, transcription and digitisation have been estab lished with the help of European and U.S. experts. This joint venture, supported by a number of research councils and foundations, began in 2006 and will be completed by 2010. 45 Kendrick 2006, 35). Next to the Codex Sinaiticus, in terms of completeness and antiquity, are the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Alexandrinus. Due to circumstances detailed below, the Codex Sinaiticus was dispersed. At the beginning of the 21st century, librarians and theologians from a number of countries decided to put the different parts together and present them to the international public by means of modern technology. Though more than 130 years has passed since Tischendorf’s death, he has remained a key fi gure for every project concerning the Codex Sinaiticus. Tischendorf and his crucial work Konstantin von Tischendorf (1815–1874), the German theologian and palaeographer, began his career in Leipzig, Germany, a city with a well-known trade fair and an old university. Tischendorf commenced his theological studies in Leipzig, taking his doctorate in 1838. His postdoctoral thesis or habilitation of 1840 dealt with the prolegomena to a first critical edition of the Greek New Testament. This book received a lot of attention and Tischendorf went on to publish 24 further editions of biblical texts up to 1874. According to Christfried Böttrich, Tischendorf travelled to the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris in 1840 where he worked on a parchment manuscript considered unreadable (Böttrich 1999a, 1999b, 1999c). It was a palimpsest, fi rst written in the fi fth century and mostly containing

The Greek New Testament. The pages of this so-called Codex Ephraemi Syri Rescriptus had been cleaned and another text written on them during the following centuries. Tischendorf was able to decipher the underlying text, thereby making his name as a palaeographer. His edited work of the original text of this palimpsest was published by Bernhard Tauchnitz in Leipzig in 1843 and 1845 (Böttrich 1999b, 14–16; 1999c, 16–17). Leipzig was an important printing and publishing centre at that time. Thereafter, Tischendorf visited libraries in the Netherlands, England, Southern France, Switzerland and Italy where he discovered other manuscripts containing biblical and apocryphal texts. In 1843 he was even allowed to study the Codex Vaticanus for six [sic] hours after getting an audience with Pope Gregory XVI (Böttrich 1999b, 79–88). Tischendorf was fi red up with ever-greater enthusiasm for his discoveries, setting off from Livorno to Egypt in 1844 in search of further manuscripts. In those days, the East was a region full of tensions and the biblical Mount Sinai, the site of Saint Catherine’s Monastery, was part of the huge Ottoman Empire. For about 15 years from 1844, Tischendorf’s adventures and discoveries took place in this region with its many Coptic monasteries and famous cities. Though himself a Lutheran, Tischendorf was in touch with prominent Catholics and members of the Orthodox Church, and his numerous reports and personal letters provide a lively picture of these adventurous years (Böttrich 1999b, 18f; 92f).

In May 1844 he found 129 parchment sheets in a basket in the library of Saint Catherine’s Monastery, ”the pearl of all my researches”, as he called them (Tischendorf 1866). These folios contained the text of a Greek translation of the Old Testament compiled in the fourth century A.D. This was a real sensation. Tischendorf was allowed to take 43 folios with him and he donated them, together with other Oriental manuscripts, to the Saxon Government, intending them for Leipzig University Library. Tischendorf called the Sinaitic fragments the ”Codex Frederico-Augustanus” in acknowledgement of the patronage given by the king of Saxony. Tischendorf reported: ”I published them in Saxony in a sumptuous edition, in which each letter and stroke was exactly reproduced by the aid of lithography” (Tischendorf 1866; Böttrich 1999c, 17). But he was not content with the reproduction of these fragments carried out in Leipzig in 1846. He kept the place of his discovery a secret. In 1853 he went to the monastery for a second time to get the remaining 86 folios. All knowledge of them had been lost, so he had to return six years later. Early in February 1859 he was informed by the monastery’s steward of a much larger parchment manuscript which proved to be the 86 folios of the Old Testament, as well as the folios of the whole New Testament, the epistle of Barnabas and a part of the pastor of Hermas. Tischendorf had discovered the oldest complete manuscript of the New Testament. The ongoing story of these folios and their publication is very complicated for theological, political and fi nancial reasons. Many scholars were envious of Tischendorf’s success (Böttrich 2005, 254 seq.; 1999b, 21f). However at the end of February 1859, Tischendorf was allowed to take the Ekkehard Henschke 46 Digitising the Hand-Written Bible folios to Cairo. Most signifi cantly Tischendorf was not only allowed to bring the Sinaitic fragments to Russia as a loan to the Tsar in 1859, but he also succeeded in publishing a magnifi cent facsimile in four volumes in St. Petersburg in 1862, the year of the thousandth anniversary of the Russian monarchy. The lithographic work for the Bibliorum Codex Sinaiticus Petropolitanus was again carried out in Leipzig. Though published in St. Petersburg in 1862, it was printed in Leipzig by Giesecke & Devrient and has since been reprinted in Hildesheim by Georg Olms in 1969.

At this time, Tischendorf’s travels were funded by Tsar Alexander II who was the patron of the Orthodox Church. After several diplomatic missions in Constantinople and St. Petersburg, Tischendorf also succeeded in closing a very diffi cult deal. As far as we know, in 1869 the Sinaitic folios were given to the Tsar as a gift from Saint Catherine’s monastery and in return the Tsar made a donation to the monastery of 9,000 gold rubles and some other material support. The 347 folios moved from the Russian foreign ministry, where they had been on loan, to the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg. But this deal did not mean the end of the folios’ travels. For fi nancial reasons, the Soviet government sold the Codex through the London booksellers Maggs in 1933. In England a national campaign to raise the money was supported by the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, the Archbishop of Canterbury and many other important fi gures. In this way the purchase of the Codex for £ 100,000 was secured. The folios went into the British Museum at the end of 1933 and together with other precious manuscripts and books they were transferred to the newly established British Library in 1973 (McKendrick 2006, 24–27). Tischendorf never grew rich and was several times subject to the criticism and abuse of his competitors (Böttrich 1999b, 27, 36f). Though he was able to fi ll kings and princes with enthusiasm for his scholarly ventures, he held a non-tenured position at Leipzig University from 1845 and was not appointed to a full professorship until 1859. In 1869 he received a hereditary peerage from the Russian Tsar. He went on publishing manuscripts and improved editions of the biblical texts, mainly of the New Testament, until he broke down from overwork in 1873. He died on December 7, 1874 at Leipzig. After his death his personal library was purchased by the Free Church College (subsequently Trinity College) in Glasgow and was transferred with the rest of the College Library to the University of Glasgow in 1974. The American theologian Caspar René Gregory, who became a friend of Tischendorf’s family after his death, continued Tischendorf’s work in Leipzig.

When the New Testament in the Sinai Bible is compared with a modern-day New Testament, a staggering 14,800 editorial alterations can be identified. These amendments can be recognised by a simple comparative exercise that anybody can and should do. Serious study of Christian origins must emanate from the Sinai Bible’s version of the New Testament, not modern editions.

Of importance is the fact that the Sinaiticus carries three Gospels since rejected: the Shepherd of Hermas (written by two resurrected ghosts, Charinus and Lenthius), the Missive of Barnabas and the Odes of Solomon.

It is what is not written in that old Bible that embarrasses the Church, and this article discusses only a few of those omissions. One glaring example is subtly revealed in the Encyclopaedia Biblica (Adam & Charles Black, London, 1899, vol. iii, p. 3344), where the Church divulges its knowledge about exclusions in old Bibles, saying: “The remark has long ago and often been made that, like Paul, even the earliest Gospels knew nothing of the miraculous birth of our Saviour”. Is it because there never was a virgin birth? We think so.

Modern-day versions of the Gospel of Luke have a staggering 10,000 more words than the same Gospel in the Sinai Bible. Six of those words say of Jesus “and was carried up into heaven”, but this narrative does not appear in any of the oldest Gospels of Luke available today (“Three Early Doctrinal Modifications of the Text of the Gospels”, F. C. Conybeare, The Hibbert Journal, London, vol. 1, no. 1, Oct 1902, pp. 96-113). Ancient versions do not verify modern-day accounts of an ascension of Jesus Christ, and this falsification clearly indicates an intention to deceive.

Today, the Gospel of Luke is the longest of the canonical Gospels because it now includes “The Great Insertion”, an extraordinary 15th-century addition totalling around 8,500 words (Luke 9:51-18:14). The insertion of these forgeries into that Gospel bewilders modern Christian analysts, and of them the Church said: “The character of these passages makes it dangerous to draw inferences” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Pecci ed., vol. ii, p. 407).
Just as remarkable, the oldest Gospels of Luke omit all verses from 6:45 to 8:26, known in priesthood circles as “The Great Omission”, a total of 1,547 words. In today’s versions, that hole has been “plugged up” with

There is something else involved in this scenario and it is recorded in the Catholic Encyclopedia. An appreciation of the clerical mindset arises when the Church itself admits that it does not know who wrote its Gospels and Epistles, confessing that all 27 New Testament writings began life anonymously:

“It thus appears that the present titles of the Gospels are not traceable to the evangelists themselves … they [the New Testament collection] are supplied with titles which, however ancient, do not go back to the respective authors of those writings.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, pp. 655-6)

passages plagiarised from other Gospels. Dr Tischendorf found that three paragraphs in newer versions of the Gospel of Luke’s version of the Last Supper appeared in the 15th century, but the Church still passes its Gospels off as the unadulterated “word of God” (“Are Our Gospels Genuine or Not?”, op. cit.)

After years of dedicated New Testament research, Dr Tischendorf expressed dismay at the differences between the oldest and newest Gospels, and had trouble understanding…

“…how scribes could allow themselves to bring in here and there changes which were not simply verbal ones, but such as materially affected the very meaning and, what is worse still, did not shrink from cutting out a passage or inserting one.”
(Alterations to the Sinai Bible, Dr Constantin von Tischendorf, 1863, available in the British Library, London)

After years of validating the fabricated nature of the New Testament, a disillusioned Dr Tischendorf confessed that modern-day editions have “been altered in many places” and are “not to be accepted as true” (When Were Our Gospels Written?, Dr Constantin von Tischendorf, 1865, British Library, London).

Forgery Examples

Forgeries of Canon and other holy texts itself are numerous. Two known forgeries of entire books of Canon have been discovered thus far; in the Pseudopigrapha (modern additions to Canon):

1.)   Book of Jasher (Pseudo-Jasher)

2.)   Letter of Benan

Others are relegated to passages or words within Books of the Canon.

In Judges 18:30, it is stated that the priest officiating before the idol in the city of Dan was a grandson of Moses named Jonathan.  Pious scribes, abhorring the idea that a descendant of their greatest prophet should have resorted to idolatry, inserted a suspended or supralinear “n” in the name of Moses (Heb. MSH), thereby making it read “Manasseh” (Heb. MNSH).  The King James Version of the Bible retains the name Manasseh in this verse, but the Revised Standard Version rectifies this ancient forgery.

Deuteronomy means “Second Law,” and is a retelling of the ministry of Moses by a Judean priest about 622 B.C., at which time the book was “discovered” hidden in the Temple (2 Kings 22:8).  Deuteronomy is commonly identified as a “Book of Moses,” but the final chapter of the book describes the death of Moses, thus excluding him from authorship.

Book of Daniel

Some time ago tablets of the great Persian king Cyrus were recovered, and Professor Sayce gives us a translation of them; and he compares them, as you may, with the words of Daniel: “In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom.” The tablets of Cyrus describe the taking of Babylon, and are beyond the slightest suspicion. The Persians had adopted the Babylonian custom of writing on clay, then baking the brick or tablet, and such documents last forever. And these and other authentic and contemporary documents of the age which Daniel describes show:

  1. That Belshazzar was not king of      Babylon.
  2. That the name of the last king      was Nabonidos.
  3. That the city was taken      peacefully, by guile, not by bloodshed.
  4. That it was Cyrus, not Darius the      Median, who took it.
  5. That Darius, who is said (xi 1)      by Daniel to have been the son of Ahasuerus (Xerxes), was really his      father.
  6. That all the Babylonian names in      Daniel are absurdly misspelled and quite strange to the writer.
  7. That the writer describes the      Chaldeans in a way that no writer could have done before the time of      Alexander the Great (this is a fascinating problem and one that could be      explained by a different historical chronology).

You can read the rest of the critic of the orthodoxy. It is now beyond question that the man who wrote Daniel, and pretended to be alive in 539 B.C. (when Babylon fell), did not live until three or four centuries later. The book is a tissue of errors, as we find by authentic documents and by reading the real Babylonian names on the tablets.

Thus Daniel constitutes a serious problem far worse than one in which we simply find a duplicate narrative. Here, the entire work is a fraud … a lie, and it cannot be explained away by the usual appeals to literary instruments such as metaphor, alliteration and allegory. And we should note that so far, Daniel just happens to be the only one identified as such. Where there is one there are often many. Are there more? Yes.

And Professor Sayce goes on to show that Ezra, Tobit and Judith — the latter are in the Catholic Bible — are on the same level. “The decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions,” he says, “has finally destroyed all claim on the part of the Books of Tobit and Judith to be considered as history” (p. 552). It does not much matter that they are not in the Protestant Canon; which is only one fraction of the overall Christian community (Western and Eastern Churches as well as the Anglican Communion do include these books). They are examples of ancient Jewish forgeries. Professor Sayce shows the same for familiar Bible stories like those of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon.

Genesis and the literary style known as Chiasmus

The term ‘Torah’ (which means ‘the Law of God’) refers to the first five books found in the Bible. The book of Genesis consists of a composite of various sources which have been spun together using an editorial technique known as ‘chiasmus’. This technique consists of a repeating elements, in a form such as ABCDBA, where the placement of the inner and outer elements echo a repeating theme and act as a bracket around an inner element. Much of the meaning of such a document is therefore hidden in the structure. What this tells us is that Genesis was never intended to be interpreted as an historical document, but rather it consists of collections of carefully arranged parables. It is not history, but rather a type of literary work written in a certain style (for history does not unfold in such a way as to conveniently fit into the literary style of a chiasmus).

The Gospel of Mark in the New Testament is also not a history or a biography, but rather consists of a collection of fictional parables, and following the example of the book of Genesis the author arranged these parables in the form of Chiasmus, so that much of the meaning of the Gospel of Mark is hidden in the structure of the document and becomes lost when the document is read as a literal history. As an example of this sort of thing we find two parables of the breaking of bread, which are fictional parables used as brackets wrapping around the central theme of the chiasmus, which is an attack on the Torah, in particular the food laws and the clean and unclean laws. In the two parables of breaking bread we are told that thousands of people needed to be fed, but the disciples only had two loaves of bread and one or two fish. In a great miracle the bread and the fish are broken into pieces for five or six thousand people, and we are told that the disciples were so incredibly stupid that it did not occur to them that you could not feed thousands with a loaf and a fish. This is repeated twice, and in both cases the disciples have to gather up all the great numbers of left over fragments of bread and fish in many baskets, and still they prove to be to stupid to understand that it was not possible to have that many baskets of left overs when they started out with one loaf and a fish. This is hyperbole, a form of far fetched exaggeration. The theme here is not the great historical event of the breaking of bread, but rather it is the extreme stupidity of the disciples when it came to believing religious doctrines, and this functions as a commentary on the belief in the infallibility of the Bible. This is made clear in a brief recapitulation of the theme of the chiasmus which takes place on a boat, where the disciples are told to ‘beware the yeast of the scribes and the Pharisees’ They then worry because they have no bread, and are scolded for taking the imagery literally, at which time they finally understand that they are to beware of the teachings of the scribes and pharisees.

In this way it can be seen that the Gospel of Mark employs fictional parables, which describe events which did not actually happen to address real historical controversies. The controversies were real, but the parables employed in the gospel of Mark are fictional. The same principle applies to the book of Genesis, which addresses real historical controversies, but does so using the fictional device of the Chiasmus. For this reason neither the Gospel of Mark nor the book of Genesis should be read as history, but instead should be properly interpreted as literary works, since the true meaning of the documents are not found in ‘historical details’ but rather is hidden in the structure of the documents. The point here is that Genesis was no written by Moses so as to describe the true history of the world. This is an ignorant myth.

Thus, what we see when we add to the use of chiasmus the knowledge of the true content of the bible as informed by the Codex

The clearest attribution of forgery to Canon comes from the Canon itself, where we find that in the book of Jeremiah the central character, Jeremiah, was a dissident priest who turned against the religious system of the day as a protest against the forgeries being committed by his fellow priests. It can be seen here that by becoming a whistle blower Jeremiah was doing a service to his fellow country men in that in those days most people were illiterate, and it was typical only for priests to learn to read and write, and so the common people of the time would have had no other way to know that their so called ‘Holy Writings’ were actually being progressively forged by their priests. Sinaiticus, we quickly see that all of the supernatural claims are essentially non-existent. They were never there.

According to Jeremiah the central practice of priestly religion, the supposed great sacrament of the animal sacrifice, was in fact a forgery cooked up by his fellow priests. In Jeremiah 7:21 He began,

121Thus says the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23But this command I gave them, `Obey my voice, and I will be your Lord, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26yet they did not listen to me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 27“So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28And you sh

Forgery of the Gospel of Mark

The archeological evidence shows us that the Gospel of Mark originally ended abruptly with the crucifixion. The 16th chapter of the Gospel of Mark is a later forgery which was appended onto the document.

The ending of the Gospel of Mark is a later forgery is the contradictions in doctrine introduced by the forged passage, which reflects not the point of view of the original author but rather the requirements of later church theologians. In the Gospel of Mark the Jesus figure was not a god.all say to them, `This is the nation that did not obey the voice of YHWH their Lord, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

However in Mark’s Gospel there is found the heresy that Jesus was not a divine god, but rather a sinner. Jesus states, ‘Do not call me good, for there is no one who is good except God.’ (Codex Siriaticus?) This is the famous heresy of Mark’s Gospel, which contradicts later Christian theology, which holds that Jesus was the perfect human, without sin, and also a god, and thus part of th

A transparent attempt was made by later forgers to solve this problem, by concocting a forged ending to Mark’s gospel. Here we find the doctrine of the Trinity pasted onto Mark’s Gospel, wherein Jesus is made to mouth later church doctrine, advising the disciples to go out an ‘baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.’

This clumsy attempt at harmonization is easily recognized as a later forgery, the so called ‘Holy Trinity’.

This is the proverbial smoking gun that clearly shows an active hand involved in not just forgery but in the actual creation of a religion.

Forgery of the Gospel of Luke

The Gospel of Luke and the related ‘Book of Acts’ incorporate such extensive forging of the historical record and multiple heresies, and I will focus on only a few of the most notorious examples here. The sad truth of the matter is that as far as history is concerned, the whole document was written for the express purpose of forging history, which means that a full discussion of the agenda of the author would be quite lengthy, since it involves almost the entire manuscript, which is replete with history forged and distorted for ideological purposes and heresies introduced for reasons of particular ideology; all of which redound to the larger agenda of fabricating a religion.

The Gospel of Luke and Acts is a very cynical piece of work, in that there is no concern here for historical accuracy, nor is their any concern here as to whether or not Jesus actually taught women priestly religion, but rather the concern of the author of this document is with writing a gospel that will come into agreement with the developing Christian theology of the church fathers. (This tells us just how late is the date of the writing of this particular forged heresy. It was probably produced in the second century, as we can already see how the document lines up with the emerging church doctrines, including the doctrine concerning Peter as the first Pope, which is one of the great themes of Acts.)

Luke continues his agenda of white washing and restoring the ‘Law of Moses’, so that it can be used to create the torture doctrine which lies at the heart of the theology of the church, in his book of Acts. He does this by addressing the controversy that existed concerning the legitimacy of the law of Moses head on. Now the fact that a controversy did exist is interesting, since it suggests that there must have been a reason why the church was mired in controversy concerning the Law of Moses. That controversy must have begun somewhere, and Luke’s method is to acknowledge that a controversy exists and then to deny that the controversy is valid in that Jesus fully supported the Torah, and thus nullified the prophets on this matter, and supported the priest hood instead.

First Luke acknowledges the controversy.

“This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.” (Acts 6:13)

Next Luke denies the controversy and teaches that Jesus fully supports the Torah.

Moses is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. (Acts 7:38)

Forgery of the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew presents us with Jesus, the fundamentalist, who preaches the infallible inerrancy of the Bible:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law (of Moses) or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law (of Moses) until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17)

This brings Matthew into sharp contradiction with Mark, where Jesus teaches people not to obey the law of Moses. The Gospel of Matthew consists of spin doctored version of Mark’s Gospel. Beginning at chapter six, Matthew begins copying Mark’s gospel, and such a close literary correspondence is not a coincidence. However, Mark’s Gospel is not copied verbatim, but rather is copied and then edited slightly here and there. Matthew’s agenda can be discerned by the many small alterations he makes to Mark’s account. Whenever Mark presents Jesus as less than a superman, Matthew doctors the account to make Jesus ‘supernatural.’ Matthew also destroys every attack on the Torah. So for example, the attack on the food laws in Mark’s Gospel is destroyed by Matthew, who makes the controversy one about whether or not you should wash your hands before you eat and the proper way of washing cups and bowls. Neither of these are found in the infallible Torah, which makes them ‘human traditions.’ Matthew also white washes the attack on the temple, by having Jesus first use his whip in the temple, and then take a seat and begin teaching from the Law of Moses in the now ‘purified temple.’ What all this doctoring of Mark’s Gospel reveals is that Matthew had the agenda of a ‘supernatural fundamentalist.’

All of this ideological warring with differing ideological views with forgeries juxtaposed therein which we already know occured, simply demonstrates how the rest of the documents are also fabricated de novo. This is not just forgery. This is a deliberate and calculated attempt to construct a religion.
We know from the discoveries of ancient manuscripts that copies of the Gospel of Matthew continued to circulate in the second century which do not include the Virgin Birth forgery, which was added to manuscript many decades after the original was produced by a forger.

The image above is of a manuscript of Matthew from the second century, and which is a ‘critical edition’ in that it incorporates all the variant versions of the manuscript relating to the text in question. Here there is no virgin birth story, but rather there is a genealogy in variant forms wherein Joseph is the father of Jesus, and not God or a holy ghost. Variant A became the traditional text which now concludes the genealogy in our ‘authorized’ copies of Matthew. At point B the text diverges to list the variants in the different manuscripts. C denotes the Syriac variant from the second century, wherein Joseph is explicitly referenced as the father of the Jesus figure. The Greek variant (D) is an abbreviated version of the Syriac text, and states “And Joseph begat Jesus, the one called Christ.” Both the Syriac and Greek variants have no ‘virgin birth myth’, which is an indication that the virgin birth mythology had not become a part of the authorized lexicon of the Matthew gospel during the second century, but that copies of the manuscript without the virgin birth story were still extant and circulating at that time.

Above is an image of the Codex Siriaticus variant, which is the source of the abbreviated Greek reading above. The Codex Siriaticus manuscript includes no virgin birth mythology, since once again it was Joseph who ‘begat Jesus’, and the genealogy, in part, reads in translation, “: “Eliud begat Eleazar, Eleazar begat Matthan, Matthan begat Jacob, Jacob begat Joseph; Joseph, to whom was betrothed a young woman, Mary, begat Jesus who is called Messiah.”

More examples of forgeries;

Translation Errors:

The original texts of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and Christian Scriptures (New Testament) were written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Unfortunately, relatively few adults in North America can read any of these ancient languages. So most of us have to rely upon English translations.

The reader cannot always trust the translators. Bibles contain many inaccuracies and errors. Some appear to be intentional.

Most versions of the Bible are sponsored by one or more Christian denominations. Thus, translators tend to have similar belief systems. Some denominations have long standing prejudices against other religions, sexual minorities, etc. This sometimes affects the accuracy of their translation.

Translators are under economic constraints: if they translate some verses as they actually appear in the original Hebrew and Greek, then long held prejudices would be threatened and many potential readers might reject the translation. Some pastors have favorite passages that appear to condemn Wiccans, other Neo-pagans and homosexuals. If a translation appeared in which those verses no longer condemned Witches or homosexuals, it is unlikely that those clergy would buy it or recommend it to their flock.

Some of the most obvious mistranslations occur in passages related to

Witchcraft where the word has so many conflicting meanings in modern English that (in our opinion) it should never be used by Bible translators. The English phrase “black magic” would be a much better fit in most locations.

Homosexuality which some theologians believe the Bible uses to refer to a broad range of mostly criminal activities: homosexual rape, same-sex temple prostitution, group orgies, and child abuse of boys, heterosexuals engaging in homosexual activities. They believe that none of the passages seem to refer to gay and lesbian sex between consenting adults or committed partners. However, other Christians believe that these same “clobber passages” condemn all homosexual behavior.

Same-sex emotional relationships that Ruth, David and Daniel were involved in.

Forgeries* in the Bible

Matthew 6:13: The Lord’s Prayer traditionally ends: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This seems to have been absent from the original writings. 6

Matthew 17:21 is a duplicate of Mark 9:29. It was apparently added by a copyist in order to make Matthew agree with Mark. But Mark 9:29 also contains a forgery*; this makes Matthew 17:21 a type of double-layered forgery*. 5

John 7:53 to 8:11: One of the most famous forgeries* in the Bible is the well-known story of the woman observed in adultery. It was apparently written and inserted after John 7:52 by an unknown author, perhaps in the 5th century CE. This story is often referred to as an “orphan story” because it is a type of floating text which has appeared after John 7:36, John 7:52, John 21:25, and Luke 21:38 in various manuscripts. Some scholars believe that the story may have had its origins in oral traditions about Jesus.

It is a pity that the status of verses John 8:1-11 are not certain. If they were known to be a reliable description of Jesus’ ministry, they would have given a clear indication of Jesus’ stance on the death penalty.

Mark 9:29: Jesus comments that a certain type of indwelling demon can only be exorcised through “prayer and fasting” (KJV) This is also found in the Rheims New Testament. But the word “fasting” did not appear in the oldest manuscripts. 5 New English translations have dropped the word.

Mark 16:9-20: The original version of Mark ended rather abruptly at the end of Verse 8. Verses 9 to 20, which are shown in most translations of the Bible, were added later by an unknown forger*. The verses were based on portions of Luke, John and other sources.

Luke 3:22: This passage describes Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. According to Justin Martyr, the original version of this verse has God speaking the words: “You are my son, today have I begotten thee.” Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and other ancient Christian authorities also quoted it this way. 1 The implication is that Jesus was first recognized by God as his son at the time of baptism. But a forger* altered the words to read: “You are my son, whom I love.” The altered passage conformed more to the evolving Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God at his birth, (as described in Luke and Matthew) or before the beginning of creation (as in John), and not at his baptism.

John 5:3-4: These verses describe how “a great multitude” of disabled people stayed by the water. From time to time an angel arrived, and stirred the waters. The first person who stepped in was cured. This passage seems strange. The process would not be at all just, because the blind could not see the waters being stirred, and the less mobile of the disabled would have no chance of a cure. Part of Verse 3 and all of Verse 4 are missing from the oldest manuscripts of John. 3 It appears to be a piece of free-floating magical text that someone added to John.

John 21: There is general agreement among liberal and mainline Biblical scholars that the original version of the Gospel of John ended at the end of John 20. John 21 appears to either be an afterthought of the author(s) of John, or a later addition by a forger*. Most scholars believe the latter. 4

1 Corinthians 14:34-35: This is a curious passage. It appears to prohibit all talking by women during services. But it contradicts verse 11:5, in which St. Paul states that women can actively pray and prophesy during services. It is obvious to some theologians that verses 14:33b to 36 are a later addition, added by an unknown counterfeiter* with little talent at forgery.* Bible scholar, Hans Conzelmann, comments on these three and a half verses: “Moreover, there are peculiarities of linguistic usage, and of thought. [within them].” 2 If they are removed, then Verse 33a merges well with Verse 37 in a seamless transition. Since they were a later forgery*, they do not fulfill the basic requirement to be considered inerrant: they were not in the original manuscript written by Paul. This is a very important passage, because much many denominations stand against female ordination is based on these verses.

Revelation 1:11: The phrase “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,” (KJV) which is found in the King James Version was not in the original Greek texts. It is also found in the New King James Version (NKJV) and in the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) The latter are basically re-writes of the original KJV. Modern English, is used, but the translators seem to have made little or no effort to correct errors. The Alpha Omega phrase “is not found in virtually any ancient texts, nor is it mentioned, even as a footnote, in any modern translation or in Bruce Metzger’s definitive ‘A Textual Commentary’ on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994…” 7

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (a.k.a. The Pentateuch, the 5 Books of Moses, the Books of the Law, the Law, the Torah). These state in numerous places that they were written by Moses. But mainline and liberal theologians have long accepted the “Documentary Hypothesis” which asserts that the Pentateuch was written by a group of four authors, from various locations in Palestine, over a period of centuries. Each wrote with the goal of promoting his/her own religious views. A fifth individual cut and pasted the original documents in to the present Pentateuch.

The authors of the gospels claim to have been eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry. Yet liberal theologians believe that the gospels were written during the period 70 to 100 CE by anonymous writers who had only second-hand knowledge about Jesus.

The text of various Pauline epistles state that they were written by Paul. However, liberal theologians believe that Ephesians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were written by persons unknown, mostly in the 2nd century, many decades after Paul’s death.

Other epistles of unknown authorship, according to religious liberals, are Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, and Jude.

Religious liberals have concluded that Revelation was written by an unknown author – perhaps a Jewish Christian whose primary language was Aramaic.

The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus

Research has now found the Achilles’ heel of a god—Jesus of Nazareth. An exhaustive study and critique of what has passed for archaeological excavations of Jesus’ home town make it absolutely certain—or at least as certain as any scientific argument can be—that the place now called Nazareth was not inhabited from around 730 BCE until sometime after 70 CE. This nasty fact is more than a mere inconvenience for those who seek historical facts in the Gospels.

So, one example of characteristic 4 can be found in the apparent non-existence of Nazareth at the purported time of the life of “Jesus”. Given that “Jesus of Nazareth” and Nazareth generally is mentioned some 12 times in the Synoptics, it is clear that if Nazareth didn’t exist the creation of these stories was a deliberate and arguably malicious fabrication. That is, not only is the historicity of “Jesus” false but the entire theology and story behind this person is false. The entire New Testament is a deliberate, malicious fraud. While this does not prove that Nazareth did not exist, it clearly shows it to have been an unlikely possibility.

The categories of growing evidence include the following:

1.)   The conventional wisdom was to claim that Nazareth had been continuously inhabited over a period of thousands of years. This was required for technical reasons but is highly improbable as most cities during these long time periods disappear and reappear. Presumably, Nazareth joins Jerusalem and a select handful of the world’s settlements to have enjoyed such outstanding longevity. As more evidence globally amasses, it is becoming more clear just how rare and improbable continuous habitation of asmall town like this really is.

2.)   Excavations in the area have been performed. Trenches were dug to obtain any evidence of discarded material over the centuries. The typical trench was dug 5.6 meters (18.4 ft.) down to solid bedrock, and was continued for a length of 12.9 meters (42.3 ft.). But the results disappointed the archaeologists. It was reported that: “at least where excavated, there were no habitations.”

3.)   And curiously, there is no Hellenistic evidence from Nazareth, something the conventional view of continuous habitation also requires.

4.)   Generally speaking, no evidence whatsoever could be found in the geologic column for the time period in question, which seems to settle the issue given that the searches are now beginning to appear exhaustive.

A cottage industry has built up around the remains of this town and tourism is strong.  Continuing pilgrimage depends on it. The incipient Nazareth Village depends on it.

As with most controversial issues, all manner of Tom Foolery is involved. According to the NVF report, a cache of Hellenistic and Early Roman coins has recently been ‘found’ at Mary’s Well (at the Northern end of the Nazareth basin). Nothing remotely similar has ever been found in the Nazareth basin. The earliest coin found there dates to about 350 CE. A cache of Hellenistic and Early Roman coins is exactly the sort of evidence which the tradition needs in order to decide the matter in its favor.

Pre-publication reports (dated 2006) from the Israel Antiquities Authority signed by the archaeologist who dug at Mary’s well have circulated amongst key archaeologists involved in this research. It mentions no early coins at all. The only datable coins found were from the 14th–15th centuries CE.

Once this information was made public a storm ensued and similar apparent frauds began to occur. All of a sudden, claims of Jesus-era evidence were being made at Nazareth. It has now being claimed that ‘Nazareth’ may have been located somewhere else. But the reader should keep in mind that this has never before the publication of this earlier data been claimed or suggested. And the fact that this notion is even being countenanced suggests a realization that Nazareth most likely did not exist during Jesus’s time.

In the article The Myth Of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus, René Salm has, however, found and struck the Achilles’ heel of a very popular god—Jesus of Nazareth. While almost nothing in this god’s definition is agreed upon by scholars and believers, one thing must be true. If he ever existed, he must have been from ‘Nazareth’—just as Dorothy’s Wizard was from ‘Oz.’

The False Decretals

The False Decretals are a collection of spurious letters attributed to the early Popes, as well as Council decrees (decretals) mixed in with a few authentic papal letters.  The compilation was made by a Spanish priest, who has been designated “Pseudo-Isidore,” since he wrote in the name of Isidore, archbishop of Seville.  The Decretals include seventy forged letters of Popes prior to the Nicene Council, various decretals of Councils – some authentic, the Donation of Constantine (already discussed), thirty more spurious letters, some authentic letters, and thirty-five more false letters ending with the time of Pope Gregory the Great.  The purpose of the forgery was to protect the property as well as the persons of bishops against dispossession and dismissal from office.  Another aim was papal supremacy. However, it is important to note that the official corpus constituting the False Decretals is only a subset of the total forgery known. The full corpus exposes forgeries in the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) dating from before the First Council of Nicea all the way up to around the 12th Century, with increased volume as one traces the forgeries back in time. And of even greater curiousity is the fact that almost all documentation required to establish the very existence and the authority of the RCC papacy comes from these forgeries. It is also worth noting the obvious fact that if the Scaligarian Chronology were wrong this kind of forgery would be a necessity if recorded history only began around 1000 CE. Whatever the correct chronology is, this establishes a very strong argument against the credibility of the RCC overall and begs a digression into the history of the early Christian Church; something most adherents are oddly ignorant of.

Therefore, for the deconverter a digression into the Appendix to read the section on the history of Christian tradition is essential for effective deconversion; for more reasons than just the presenting one. In order to create your own “objection handlers” to adherent responses there will inevitably be times when considerable knowledge of the history of Christianity will be required to respond effectively. This is in addition to the fact that the entire Chrisitan faith can be put into grave doubt by an argument nested in this history, as is explained in the Appendix.

A Few Minutes with Satan

In Zoroastrianism there is a good god and a bad god and both are to have a final battle, just as in the Christian narrative, as described in Yasna 30:

1.                 Now I will proclaim to those who will hear the things that the understanding man should

remember, for hymns unto Ahura and prayers to Good Thought; also the felicity that is with

the heavenly lights, which through Right shall be beheld by him who wisely thinks.

2.                 Hear with your ears the best things; look upon them with clear-seeing thought, for decision

between the two Beliefs, each man for himself before the Great consummation, bethinking

you that it be accomplished to our pleasure.

3.                 Now the two primal Spirits, who reveal themselves in vision as Twins, are the Better and the

Bad, in thought and word and action. And between these two the wise ones chose aright, the

foolish not so.

4.                 And when these twain Spirits came together in the beginning, they created Life and Not-Life,

and that at the last Worst Existence shall be to the followers of the Lie, but the Best

Existence to him that follows Right.

5.                 Of these twain Spirits he that followed the Lie chose doing the worst things; the holiest Spirit

chose Right, he that clothes him with the massy heavens as a garment. So likewise they that

are fain to please Ahura Mazda by dutiful actions.

6.                 Between these twain the Daevas also chose not aright, for infatuation came upon them as

they took counsel together, so that they chose the Worst Thought. Then they rushed

together to Violence, that they might enfeeble the world of men.

7.                 And to him (i.e. mankind) came Dominion, and Good Mind, and Right and Piety gave

continued life to their bodies and indestructibility, so that by thy retributions through

(molten) metal he may gain the prize over the others.

8.                 So when there cometh their punishment for their sins, then, O Mazda, at Thy command shall

Good Thought establish the Dominion in the Consummation, for those who deliver the Lie,

O Ahura, into the hands of Right.

9.                 So may we be those that make this world advance, O Mazda and ye other Ahuras, come

hither, vouchsafing (to us) admission into your company and Asha, in order that (our)

thought may gather together while reason is still shaky.

10.               Then truly on the (world of) Lie shall come the destruction of delight; but they who get

themselves good name shall be partakers in the promised reward in the fair abode of Good

Thought, of Mazda, and of Right.

11.               If, O ye mortals, ye mark those commandments which Mazda hath ordained — of happiness

and pain, the long punishment for the follower of the Druj, and blessings for the followers of

the Right — then hereafter shall it be well.

Curiously, pre-Christian Zoroastrian sources have been lost. But for Christianity to have an epic battle between God and Satan doesn’t make sense, since the outcome is already known if God is all-powerful. However, if Christianity is patched together from other religions this kind of oddity makes sense.

To understand Satan in the Christian narrative, one is better served reading the Bible in summaries of brief passages with commentary on what it means. This is as opposed to reading the Bible straight through which will lead to a much more confusing picture of Satan. Satan has no discernible origin story, in the OT plays only a minor role as an angel, is antagonistic to man but seems to work with and for God. Then in the NT Satan’s personality role is completely rewritten, in some ways retroactively. He is described there as being the god of this evil world, a liar and a murderer from the very beginning. Christianity tries to make the Satan character appear consistent between the Old and New Testaments by interpreting certain OT statements to actually be about Satan (but he is not named there and it is unclear if that was originally intended to be Satan); to wit, the Snake of Genesis and Lucifer in Isaiah. Then there is logical problem of Satan desiring to battle an all-powerful, omnipotent god makes no sense.

When appearing as the Serpent, or the Snake, in Genesis, Satan is never named as such. Judaic adherents have even stated that this interpretation of the Snake as being Satan is “bizarre” to them. In this narrative an animal misbehaves, the animal is punished by being cursed or adversely altered and this cursed alteration is passed down to all its descendents. Only in Revelation (the NT) is the Serpent identified as Satan when there the Serpent is referred to as “that Serpent of old” (Chapter 12:9 and 20:2):

19And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

12And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

So, Christians treat this not as a talking animal, but as in fact a spirit, Satan. But within Genesis there is no objective indication that this Serpent is in fact Satan. Logically God would not punish the animal and all its descendents if it was the spirit of Satan that possessed the animal and caused the offending behavior. The best apologist argument is to use the escape hatch of “metaphor” to claim that what was meant here was that the snake having to crawl on the Earth for all its generations following was symbolic of how sin “lowers us” in God’s eyes. But why tell a story of so many logical absurdities just to make a simple point (Occam’s Razor)? More likely is the secular explanation that treats this with an explanatory myth perspective since everything we see in the story is what we would expect from an explanatory myth perspective. We have animals that talk, that are accountable for their actions, that one of the first such animals misbehaves, that the animal is taught a lesson by being punished by having its legs removed (or is forced to crawl) and this punishment is passed down through its generations. And explanatory myths are well-known motifs that are common to all myths of history.

We never miss an opportunity to advance any of the agendas of any of the categories of religious belief. At the end of each quotation of any sacred text of the adherent’s religion; as we have by example above, the Deconversion Axioms should be brought to bear: “what is it about this narrative that should make me believe it instead of the other”? “What is the key difference”? When they prevaricate and dodge with overly complex answers, return with the conjunction fallacy. And be sure to keep them focused on these passages in and of themselves, not on the broader theological questions. This is key to controlling the conversation. All challenges must be in the form of questions only.

The Hebrew word Satan translates as either “the accuser” or “adversary”. In Judaism Satan is sometimes an adversary of human beings but never of God. In the Judaic understanding, Satan is in the role of a prosecuting attorney who works for the Judge (God) and prosecutes defendants (human beings). That is, he always works with and for God. In the OT there are 4 passages that describe the personality and/or role of Satan:

1.)   Satan is introduced in Job 1:6-11. It shows that God and Satan are actually working together and are not hostile to each other:

16Now there was a day when the sons of YHWH came to present themselves before YHWH, and Satan also came among them. 7YHWH said to Satan, “Whence have you come?” Satan answered YHWH, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8And YHWH said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears YHWH and turns away from evil?” 9Then Satan answered YHWH, “Does Job fear YHWH for nought? 10Hast thou not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse thee to thy face.”

2.)   In Zechariah 3:1-2 God overrides Satan’s accusations against Joshua:

1Joshua the High Priest. Zcria003Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of YHWH, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And YHWH said to Satan, “YHWH rebuke you, O Satan! YHWH who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”  

3.)   In I Chronicles 21:1 Satan incited David to take a census of Israel. In another passage (2 Samuel 24:1) in the Bible the person identified as the one inciting David is God:

1David’s Census; the Plague. 1Chrn021Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to number Israel.

1Census of the People. 2Saml024Again the anger of YHWH was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

4.)   In Psalms 109:6-7 Satan is identified as the defendant of wicked men:

16Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser bring him to trial. 7When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin!

Some Christians, though not all, refer to a fifth reference to Satan in the OT which explains Satan’s origins. In Isaiah 14:12 Satan appears to be described as a fallen angel:

112“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

However, the Judaic view of this is one of bafflement. And this makes sense because the context of this passage is about an Earthly King who falls from grace, not an angel in heaven and “Lucifer” in that passage was the King’s nickname.

Curiously, Satan is missing in all narratives of misery and suffering and is never referenced as the cause of it. In the NT the role of Satan transitions immediately and without cause or explanation from that of a servant of God to a role of encouraging disobedience to God. In Ephesians 2:2 this is described:

12in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience.

2 Corinthians 4:4 reinforces this view:

14In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of YHWH.

John 8:44 it is attempted to make this character of Satan retroactive:

144You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

In Revelation 12:3 Satan is described as a red dragon, but has nothing to do with the Satan of Job:

13And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.

Of course, the secular view is that different authors at different times guaranteed this inconsistency. The Greeks had a god called Hades; which was also a name for the underworld. NT authors picked up on this.

The Lie of the Centuries: Satan is good, God is bad

Further evidence of fraud comes in the overall story of Satan; what and who “he” is. The Satan narrative takes an even wilder turn when we begin to realize the apparent hand of deception involved. In the story of Satan is perhaps the most sadistic humor one can imagine; that is, the possibility that the fabricators of this religion intentionally used the Horus-Set dichotomy of light and dark, good and evil, as a cruel joke played on the mark, the adherent. While this may sound remarkable, the text of the Canon clearly states it in a manner arguably beyond mere implication. What we really see is that morality is turned on its head and Satan is the good and God the bad; at least in certain key passages and in certain critical theological ways. What could possibly be the purpose of this? That is what we are hopefully about to discover.

Now, have the adherent read select portions of the Bible (use “The Message” translation, have copies on hand. For Islam use The Holy Quran in Today’s English by Emerick and for the Tanakh use ). For the Bible, have them read Genesis 1 and 2. Ask them if it sounds like a child’s fairy tale or a real story? Then note that Chapters 1 and 2 are different accounts of the same events that are not consistent with each other (like the order in which Adam and Eve were created). God told Eve that she would have the knowledge of good and evil if she ate the fruit. How did Eve know what death was at that time? In fact, she ends up with what Satan said would happen (know good and evil). So who is the liar here? Now, if they knew how to distinguish evil from good in the first place – having never seen it before – then what is the purpose of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

But it gets worse. The snake (Satan) was telling Eve that they would not die (implying never die) and that they would have the knowledge of good and evil by eating the fruit. And to the serpent Adam and Eve were permanent residents of the garden. So there was nothing wrong with eating from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” AKA the “Tree of Life” as far as the serpent knew, because what actually resulted in Adam and Eve’s mortality was being removed from the “The Tree of Life”, not their “sin”. The serpent did not have any way of knowing that that could be done. And the Tree of Life bore the fruit they needed to live eternally. Satan was telling the truth. The key to unraveling this peculiar, deceptive tale is by noting the attribution of both phrases “Tree of Good and Evil” and “Tree of Life”. In this way it appears as though “god” was setting them up to disfurnish them of their “free will”. The final clincher is the quote, “They have become like us [sic] knowing good and evil. Let us [sic] remove them from the Tree of Life, lest they eat of it and live forever.” So, the story is not about sin (neither Adam or Eve could have known how to use it if they were perfect creations perfect anyway) but about power; as God is saying they have this power and I cannot let them live forever with it. This is a particularly effective logical inconsistency of scripture because it is not hampered by the fact that one can just call it metaphorical. It is precisely the message itself that is perverse and inconsistent with the entire story of God. And it leads the entire Canon. The more you think about this literary deception the more this all appears to be a deliberate, malicious deception done with an almost sadistic sense of humor.

This is obviously a logically inconsistent, error-filled, unsophisticated, crude, simplistic child’s fairy tale that got handed down over many generations. If appearing in the very first chapters, you may ask, does this not suggest internal inconsistency throughout? Aren’t these internal inconsistencies highly suspicious on their own? So, can we create an allegory to this that is logically identical but more compelling to the lay person? Yes.

The ruins at Göbekli Tepe

The Birth of Religion

Having examined in the abstract the character and modus operandi of the perpetrators of the greatest fraud of all time, we can now turn to the origins of the Abrahamic religions in order to better reify both who these perpetrators really were and the context in which Christianity was forged as a political weapon.

Research is finally beginning to confirm the educated guesses one could make as a result of the disagreement between the Scaligarian chronology and celestial calculations and observations. One of the key components of this new hypothesis of history is that religion was the springboard of civilization itself. Only when consanguineous tribes grew their “family” large and wide, the spoken language that developed within that family naturally (as happens to any human being in the wild) spread with that family. At some point the ability to “rule” and control that family weakened as the family grew too large and spread too far. Force alone is not sufficient to control people who are not physically nearby and readily subject to martial compulsion. Something more was needed in order for civilization to grow beyond the nomadic tribe.  This is the author’s hypothesis and need not be shared with the adherent. The point however, is that it provides a context for what is going on in the bigger picture. Here we will examine evidence that suggests that religion did in fact organize considerably well before civilization as we know it did. It was the problems with the Scaligarian chronology that led this author to this conclusion, and now with a find in Turkey it is not surprisingly close to where this author and the celestial data regarding historical chronology suggests was the first consanguineous family to apply this scheme effectively over an entire continent. The place is the Byzantine Empire and its capital is modern day Istanbul. The family is the Komnenoi dynasty, an admixture of an Udmurt line originating in the Ural mountain region, hailing prior from the area of modern-day Azerbaijan, and a line from Persia, that of Cyrus the Great. It is the area of Azerbaijan where the two consanguineous families initially intermarried. Once the chronology is correctly assembled all of these seemingly bizarre facts become surprisingly obvious. You may contact this author for more information if you are interested.

But what is relevant for deconversion is simply to point out that religion has roots far, far back in history and that if it existed before civilization it could have been used to influence all aspects of civilization. It could have been religion that was used by some rather clever individuals to drive all of human history. Planting this seed of suspicion, without making the claim outright, is all that is needed for the adherent to then begin to see the true extent of the mind control at work. One of the hardest things for an adherent, and including most former adherents, to fully understand is the extent of the mind control religion affords a properly placed controller. So, the deconverter can see that this is not about a wacky theory of history, it is about Machiavellian success in getting a hardened mind to make a dramatic course correction in their modes of thought about reality. It is merely the hint of the potential role religion has played in history that causes this paradigm shift. The hint itself and the substance behind it is irrelevant. The best way to effect what some in my family call seeds of decompression is explained in the section on mass deconversion. For now however, we return to the content of at least one hint we are offering for use in accordance with the instructions in that section. And that hint deals with the precedence of religion in the development of human civilization.

The archaeological site in Turkey consists of dozens of massive stone pillars arranged into a set of rings, one mashed up against the next. Known as Göbekli Tepe (pronounced Guh-behk-LEE TEH-peh), the site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars. The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

At the time of Göbekli Tepe’s construction much of the human race lived in small nomadic bands that survived by foraging for plants and hunting wild animals. Construction of the site would have required more people coming together in one place than had likely occurred before. Amazingly, the temple’s builders were able to cut, shape, and transport 16-ton stones hundreds of feet despite having no wheels or beasts of burden. The pilgrims who came to Göbekli Tepe lived in a world without writing, metal, or pottery; to those approaching the temple from below, its pillars must have loomed overhead like rigid giants, the animals on the stones shivering in the firelight—emissaries from a spiritual world that the human mind may have only begun to envision.

Archaeologists are still excavating Göbekli Tepe and debating its meaning. What they do know is that the site is the most significant in a volley of unexpected findings that have overturned earlier ideas about our species’ deep past. Just 20 years ago most researchers believed they knew the time, place, and rough sequence of the Neolithic Revolution—the critical transition that resulted in the birth of agriculture, taking Homo sapiens from scattered groups of hunter-gatherers to farming villages and from there to technologically sophisticated societies with great temples and towers and kings and priests who directed the labor of their subjects and recorded their feats in written form. But in recent years multiple new discoveries, Göbekli Tepe preeminent among them, have begun forcing archaeologists to reconsider.

At first the Neolithic Revolution was viewed as a single event—a sudden flash of genius—that occurred in a single location, Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq, then spread to India, Europe, and beyond. Most archaeologists believed this sudden blossoming of civilization was driven largely by environmental changes: a gradual warming as the Ice Age ended that allowed some people to begin cultivating plants and herding animals in abundance. The new research suggests that the “revolution” was actually carried out by many hands across a huge area and over thousands of years. And it may have been driven not by the environment but by something else entirely.

In the 1960s archaeologists from the University of Chicago had surveyed the region and concluded that Göbekli Tepe was of little interest. Disturbance was evident at the top of the hill, but they attributed it to the activities of a Byzantine-era military outpost. Here and there were broken pieces of limestone they thought were gravestones. Schmidt had come across the Chicago researchers’ brief description of the hilltop and decided to check it out. On the ground he saw flint chips—huge numbers of them. “Within minutes of getting there,” Schmidt says, he realized that he was looking at a place where scores or even hundreds of people had worked in millennia past. The limestone slabs were not Byzantine graves but something much older. In collaboration with the DAI and the Şanlıurfa Museum, he set to work the next year.

Inches below the surface the team struck an elaborately fashioned stone. Then another, and another—a ring of standing pillars. As the months and years went by, Schmidt’s team, a shifting crew of German and Turkish graduate students and 50 or more local villagers, found a second circle of stones, then a third, and then more. Geomagnetic surveys in 2003 revealed at least 20 rings piled together, higgledy-piggledy, under the earth.

The pillars were big—the tallest are 18 feet in height and weigh 16 tons. Swarming over their surfaces was a menagerie of animal bas-reliefs, each in a different style, some roughly rendered, a few as refined and symbolic as Byzantine art. Other parts of the hill were littered with the greatest store of ancient flint tools Schmidt had ever seen—a Neolithic warehouse of knives, choppers, and projectile points. Even though the stone had to be lugged from neighboring valleys, Schmidt says, “there were more flints in one little area here, a square meter or two, than many archaeologists find in entire sites.”

The circles follow a common design. All are made from limestone pillars shaped like giant spikes or capital T’s. Bladelike, the pillars are easily five times as wide as they are deep. They stand an arm span or more apart, interconnected by low stone walls. In the middle of each ring are two taller pillars, their thin ends mounted in shallow grooves cut into the floor. I asked German architect and civil engineer Eduard Knoll, who works with Schmidt to preserve the site, how well designed the mounting system was for the central pillars. “Not,” he said, shaking his head. “They hadn’t yet mastered engineering.” Knoll speculated that the pillars may have been propped up, perhaps by wooden posts.

To Schmidt, the T-shaped pillars are stylized human beings, an idea bolstered by the carved arms that angle from the “shoulders” of some pillars, hands reaching toward their loincloth-draped bellies. The stones face the center of the circle—as at “a meeting or dance,” Schmidt says—a representation, perhaps, of a religious ritual. As for the prancing, leaping animals on the figures, he noted that they are mostly deadly creatures: stinging scorpions, charging boars, ferocious lions. The figures represented by the pillars may be guarded by them, or appeasing them, or incorporating them as totems.

Puzzle piled upon puzzle as the excavation continued. For reasons yet unknown, the rings at Göbekli Tepe seem to have regularly lost their power, or at least their charm. Every few decades people buried the pillars and put up new stones—a second, smaller ring, inside the first. Sometimes, later, they installed a third. Then the whole assemblage would be filled in with debris, and an entirely new circle created nearby. The site may have been built, filled in, and built again for centuries.

Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C. Göbekli Tepe was all fall and no rise.

As important as what the researchers found was what they did not find: any sign of habitation. Hundreds of people must have been required to carve and erect the pillars, but the site had no water source—the nearest stream was about three miles away. Those workers would have needed homes, but excavations have uncovered no sign of walls, hearths, or houses—no other buildings that Schmidt has interpreted as domestic. They would have had to be fed, but there is also no trace of agriculture. For that matter, Schmidt has found no mess kitchens or cooking fires. It was purely a ceremonial center. If anyone ever lived at this site, they were less its residents than its staff. To judge by the thousands of gazelle and aurochs bones found at the site, the workers seem to have been fed by constant shipments of game, brought from faraway hunts. All of this complex endeavor must have had organizers and overseers, but there is as yet no good evidence of a social hierarchy—no living area reserved for richer people, no tombs filled with elite goods, no sign of some people having better diets than others.

Apparently, a sense of ownership arose as humans shifted from seeing themselves as part of the natural world to seeking mastery over it. When foragers began settling down in villages, they unavoidably created a divide between the human realm—a fixed huddle of homes with hundreds of inhabitants—and the dangerous land beyond the campfire, populated by lethal beasts.

Anthropologists have assumed that organized religion began as a way of salving the tensions that inevitably arose when hunter-gatherers settled down, became farmers, and developed large societies. Compared to a nomadic band, the society of a village had longer term, more complex aims—storing grain and maintaining permanent homes. Villages would be more likely to accomplish those aims if their members were committed to the collective enterprise. Though primitive religious practices—burying the dead, creating cave art and figurines—had emerged tens of thousands of years earlier, organized religion arose, in this view, only when a common vision of a celestial order was needed to bind together these big, new, fragile groups of humankind. It could also have helped justify the social hierarchy that emerged in a more complex society: Those who rose to power were seen as having a special connection with the gods. Communities of the faithful, united in a common view of the world and their place in it, were more cohesive than ordinary clumps of quarreling people.

Göbekli Tepe, to Schmidt’s way of thinking, suggests a reversal of that scenario: The construction of a massive temple by a group of foragers is evidence that organized religion could have come before the rise of agriculture and other aspects of civilization. It suggests that the human impulse to gather for sacred rituals.

On the Historical Traditions of the Christian Faith

This section is not intended for use directly in deconversion but is provided here as background information for the deconverter to aid in conveying to the adherent the significance of the forgeries of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC); particularly how these forgeries undermine the credibility of all Christian branches and denominations, not just those of the RCC.

What the reader is going to see is that the forgery is key to understanding and exposing the motive and intent of the early Christian adherents and those that guided and controlled the Christain “tradition”. It demonstrates 1.) knowledge of the fact that the claim of Jesus’ existence – at least in the role claimed – is fraudulent; 2.) intent to deceive and manipulate the public with respect to 1; 3.) the means required to execute 1 and 2 and finally; 4.) the presence of opportunity for all parts 1,2 and 3. In the Appendix where we deal with the False Decretals and the forgeries generally, we will discuss how to use this background information to convey these important points to the adherent who is almost certainly ignorant of these facts. Please consult that for information on how to use this information in deconversion.

Issues of historical chronology, that is, the Scaligarian chronology, are relevant here as well. The deconverter should print out the charts that follow and have them available to present to the adherent at the right moment (all discussion of Scaligarian chronology problems constitutes decompression seeds and should not always be used). When creating videos, these can be displayed while being discussed.

Conclusions to Counter Apologetics

Skilled apologists can counter all these steps. You will need to develop counter apologetics for it. But the best one is described here and is used to counter several of the deconverter’s arguments above.

The apologist may argue that any so called scientific errors in the bible are just god speaking in allegorical language.

The allegorical argument does provide an explanation for why a Creator might write something that is scientific nonsense. But if these arguments are true for one religion, it must be equally likely to be true for all religions. So all these stories we’ve read could all be of an allegorical form. As you go back and read these obviously ridiculous stories it becomes evident that this argument doesn’t add up and is not convincing. Therefore, to argue that this is only allegorical in the case of the adherent’s religion is a fallacy called special pleading. And as you read the specific allegories, you see that they have to be so general that they become catch-all and too general to be believable.

In fact, all the best apologetic responses involve some form of special pleading. Beginning with the argument involving allegorical language, we have:

  • The apologist may argue that any so called scientific errors in the bible are just god speaking in allegorical language. In Leviticus 21, it is claimed that the physical ailments are allegories for flaws of the soul.
  • Also, the pre-plagiarism argument falls into this special pleading category when used to explain textual similarity between the Bible and pre-Biblical myths.
  • Also included is the argument that the genocide was justified because those ethnicities were especially wicked and
  • The argument that human minds are too limited to understand the mind of God.
  • And the evidence of god has to be obscured else it would violate our free will.

The problem with all of these is that they collectively create an escape hatch that all religions could escape. It is too catch all. A plausible explanation cannot be so general that it explains away the same problems in all religions. So, if the adherent’s special pleading is true, then they cannot prove the “Holiness” of their own Creator. In other words, this will once again obfuscate which police officer’s middle man is the “real” middle man.

Finally, one of the most subtle but damning critiques of religion generally is that, wherever a religion involves a god of infinite knowledge and power the idea of a free will, not to mention the very existence of human beings themselves, becomes rather superfluous. The very idea of omniscience and omnipotence has within it the seeds for eliminating any conceivable value in any life or entity that is anything less than that. To understand this simple but slippery concept, a god that is all-knowing must know, by definition, what any human being intends and desires before the human being takes any action to express it or act on it. Indeed, such a god would know of these things before the human being did. Given this fact and the fact that infinite knowledge obviates any need for empiricism or actualization of any kind, there is indeed no reason for human beings to exist at all. Yet they do.

About Misery

The best apologetic regarding why a god would allow human beings to endure misery is, at least amongst Christian apologetics, the argument that because Adam and Eve insisted on free will, and because God gave it to them, all misery derives of human free will. Therefore, God is not punishing human beings, human beings punish themselves, perhaps unwittingly, precisely because they are imperfect creatures. This constitutes what is probably the best argument for misery a Christian can make. However, it obviously does not cover random events or events outside human control (like harassment from harpys and prudes J). To this author’s knowledge there is no adequate apologetic to cover that problem. In addition, as we’ve seen elsewhere in this work, the understood mores drawn from the Adam and Eve story cannot be correct. Other, less sophisticated arguments can be dispatched real time and we will not go over those here.

The peculiar quality of misery is that even if we can argue that it has some value to human beings, along with that are guaranteed to be costs. There is no “all-good” misery. A person becomes a better person through all sorts of mechanisms, only one of which might be misery. It is sufficient to make a person better but not necessary. Perhaps the most salient and disturbing aspect of misery in religion is the manner in which its nature and manifestation tracks almost one to one with the psychological characteristics of a child or spouse abuser; which we would expect since we also know that religious mores tend to reflect the attributes of their creator: men living a very long time ago in a culture that no longer exists.

But misery has a special value for the deconverter: it serves as a very effective tool for gaining the trust of adherents since it demonstrates the deconverter’s awareness of the plight and reality of the life of the adherent.

Unless otherwise specifically indicated, we recommend that this overall technique be used in all deconversion attempts. It forces the adherent to think and has a very high success rate when performed by a practiced deconverter. These sessions should be one on one with no other person present, if possible. If made into film, which is the ideal form, it can be done with one person walking through it as in a documentary or as a play between two people. We shall see in what follows that the use of multimedia is essential to increasing the rates of deconversion.

Deconversion and Child Rearing

In the case of children our approach can be more or less the same if modified to be age appropriate. But some specific recommendations are in order. We suggest that the deconverter address the issues of gods as common nouns. There is not one god, there are many. Thousands in fact, all the same and all fictional. Talk about Zeus, Qetzalcoatl, Thor, and Jesus. Explain how these gods were used in the past (to answer unknowns), how followers of these gods were absolutely positive of the god’s existence, and how they even killed in their names. As gods got old, new gods came along, for no real reason other than a need for change and the progress of science. Now, there are far fewer gods left, and many people still believe in them, for the same reasons they believed in ancient Tiki gods.

In my house, I have a sculpture of Neptune on the wall. In the sculpture, Neptune is blowing on a ship, filling its sails. My five-year-old and I talk about it often. How silly those people were – to think that an old man in the sky was watching them, and blowing their ship along the ocean!

By equating all gods and mythologies in their minds, they will be more skeptical when someone tells them that one of them is real.

Teach them magic tricks. As early as I can remember, my dad gave me magic tricks to astound my friends. I would tell them “There’s no trick – it’s Magic!” All the while, I knew those who believed it were being fooled. I learned that there is always a trick, always an explanation, even if I didn’t know what it was at the time. Sound familiar?

For older kids, there’s a wonderful game out there called “MindTrap”. It’s this great card game where you try to think outside the box to solve a problem. Here’s an example:

A black dog is standing in the middle of a street with no streetlights and no houses. A car with no headlights comes around the corner and stops before it hits the dog. Why? Because it was daytime.

This game encourages critical thinking, problem solving, and rational processes. I love it!

Get some hands-on, face-to-face charity in there. Show them how good it feels to help someone. Tell them this is the Atheist way (which is true) – hands that do are much better than lips that pray.

On a related note, see if you can find people on youtube who are praying instead of helping in a disaster, and point it out.

Finally, and most importantly, make sure the child knows that they are loved unconditionally – by their parents if at all possible. Gods provide unconditional love, and there is a temptation to go to that ideal if it’s not at home. Naturally, you love your kids, but some of us are less adept at communicating that love to our children than others. This needs to be reinforced over and over again until they are about 50 years old.

Alexander Hamilton

  1. The Means of Mass Deconversion

Once we have developed the Counter-Apologetics we are prepared to perform this on a larger scale. One of the first things you should do is formulate the above into a video in which an actor fills the role of adherent and you walk them through the whole thing. The section on deconversion is written as a step outline, or a “beat sheet”. A Beat Sheet is a descriptive text written in such a way that a video script can be derived from it. And this would be a video of a “real” deconversion that you can post on youtube (or the like). We are working on one such video now, but many can be created.

Revisiting the list of conditions conducive to deconversion, we now look at the list with an eye toward economies of scale:

1.)   Identify as early as possible the adherent’s most religion controversial lifestyle aspects (homosexuality, infidelity, incest, etc.). Use those to attack the religion that you will show attacks them for their controversy by withholding emotional support.  In order to do this a con job needs to be set up to handle multiple adherents in an efficient manner. Some kind of “confession” scheme could be devised, but the type and manner will be context specific and the deconverter will have to be creative in devising an efficient way to get this kind of information from multiple individuals with the least amount of time and effort per person.

The best way to accomplish this on a large scale is to create a video presentation that is specific for a given audience “class”; possibly requiring the creation of several classes of video. And once created the video should be promoted, as we describe infra, on the internet in the proper forums and contexts. For example, a video specifically made for gays would be promoted where a large, homosexual adherent presence exists. In addition, this will invariably require a “specialization” of this document to include information specific to the “class” being addressed. For example, if creating a video for a gay adherent audience the deconverter should add additional information that clearly shows their own sect attacking their lifestyle in the most offensive way possible. Conversely, it might be possible to show malicious bias for straight adherents. But again, all of this information must be presented in question and answer format. We recommend that volunteers be assigned to create these specialized videos who are themselves familiar with the speciality; i.e. if a gay audience video is being produced it is best to have a gay deconverter produce it. Wherever such an issue cannot be identified, we simply recommend using this document alone to produce a video. And that video would serve as the “standard” format. We do not recommend attempting to merge content for multiple audience classes into one video.

2.)   Make sure that the adherent, if not already experiencing a present crisis, has one. This is best done by leaking information about their lifestyle (as in step 1), which had previously been private, to their religious social network. Dissonance between adherent and exploiters must be maximized. This can easily be done in “volume”, however, one must be careful not to make the leaks obvious by providing too many in a small group in too short a time frame.

For the purposes of mass deconversion this will not entail acitively engaging in things such as leaking information. Rather, a statistical approach is required. The deconverter should, as in item 1, identify a subgroup that is presently in crisis, and try to target their video to them. We will also address that infra. In any case, it is essentially a demographic approach.

3.)   Next, convert them to a less fundamental, more open and mystical tradition. You can set this up as a troll operation. This should be one that better favors openness to new experiences and is more progressive generally. This can serve as the “easy” solution to their crisis. It’s a setup. One can also exploit any adherent’s desire to “understand” an atheist and proselytize, which merely serves to bring them closer into the influence of the deconverter. Here, another con job must be devised; essentially a so-called “limited hangout” or “front” group to create this ‘alternate denomination’. A single such creation could serve to receive dozens of “converts”. This environment is the ideal place to create and drop seeds of decompression, something covered infra.

The easiest and most practical way to do this is to establish a relationship between the deconverter and the nearest Universal Unitarian Chuch. Indeed, these same deconversion tactics can be used there. But the idea is to use this relationship as a tool to bring the newly deconverted, and those about to be deconverted, into a social support structure that allows decompression as well.

4.)   Connect the adherent to atheist friends and an atheist social support group. They need not agree to any of the group’s beliefs at that point, but the idea is to create the initial contacts to allow the adherent to lean on it later. This will be made easier by success in step 3. This group should do everything possible to persuade or compel this person to obtain and take anti-depressants. Dysthemia is a common, apparently causative phenomenon associated with religious adherence. This part can also be done through the “limited hangout” aforementioned, or, if circumstances suggest it, through real atheist contacts. A support group video for the adherent can be created if it is found to be useful.

Here, the best solution is outlined in item 3, which serves a double purpose.

5.)   The next step is to completely undermine and remove the religious social support structure of the adherent. This is best achieved by undermining the credibility of the leaders of that local, immediate social structure. This is above and beyond the crisis of step 2 and is more theologically based. This can be done with disinformation once the “leader” is identified. Character assassination, innuendo, and defamation are effective but should only be done in a way that cannot be litigated. This must be done from a centralized point of organization in which all organizations being targeted can be investigated and exploited.

Once again, the best way to do this is through a demographic approach, which is described infra. By identifying the nearest local leadership that economies of scale permits, you can thence research and undermine their credibility, directing the video promotion specifically to their demographic. If the universe of adherents is large enough, a specialized video for this purpose can be created.

6.)   Never challenge facts, try to tell adherents their religious “facts” are false, or try to use science to challenge religion. Never, ever, appeal to the authority of personalities in Science, or show any deference or respect for scientists whatsoever. The better tact is to approach them as someone who “does not like” science. An appreciation for empiricism will, you will find, come quite easily and readily once they have made the full deconversion. You can return to this issue then and repair this. Attack the credibility of not just their support structure, but the greatest leaders of religion. This will setup step 7.

While the first part of this section does not scale easily, the second part can be addressed by producing videos that do not laud science and give the appearance of being “down to earth”. Elitists and “crusty” presentations are not advised. As in case 5, attacking the higher leadership works the same way only the demographic changes.

7.)   Appeal to the religious authorities themselves to undermine their own credibility. Do this by showing how they have obviously lied knowing what they are saying is false. The historical examples for this are aplenty. Then apply arguments that show the contradiction and inconsistency in their beliefs. Specific examples are given herein.

This is intrinsic to the video that will be created from this step outline.

8.)   Generate as long a list as you can of manifest, virtually impossible to refute major problems for religion and use them with each adherent by posing them in question format; repeatedly if necessary (an excellent example is why doesn’t god heal amputees?). Do not waste time and effort on anything weaker. You have to maintain what is often called “political capital” by limiting the number of challenges to the person’s belief system. You can also reference the list contained herein. Though these are usually presented as declarative statements, you will need to formulate these as questions, just as you do with everything else. Never, under any circumstances, state any of these objections as a declarative statement.

This is an intrinsic part of this step outline. The objections discussed are found in the section entitled “Extra Socratic Methods”. This is because they are, in their instrinsic form, not Socratic approaches. Therefore, the deconverter must translate these statements into innocent sounding questions with only obvious answers.

9.)   As a step in no particular order, be sure you disabuse yourself of vulgarity or other terminology that adherents might find offensive. Terms like “fundie” or “ignorance” will shut you down immediately. They will “see the devil” in you if you do this. Don’t. Following the culturally neutral practice employed by Christian missionaries is the best strategy (it is also known as “political neutrality” by some). This can easily be researched on the internet. Training of a team should be conducted for this purpose. This is best accomplished through a video presentation.

To understand cultural neutrality (which we emphasize here also means spiritual neutrality), we can motivate the reader’s education on this subject by pointing out what is thematically dominant in all aspects of it: the key to remaining culturally and spiritually neutral is to understand precisely what your deconversion message is and remove anything and everything else from it. In other words, the expert deconverter will possess a remarkable ability to focus like a laser beam on the topic at hand and will never be off topic. This talent is similar to that required in typical physics courses in which one is tasked with a physics problem whose solution depends almost entirely on focusing only on what matters and disregarding all else completely. Once you have that part figured out the rest is short work. It goes without saying that the expert deconverter will never be emotionally involved or provoked.

Like the extra Socratic methods discussed supra there is also a flip side to this. If the adherent espouses, states, claims or comments on a cultural, religious or political matter the deconverter should avoid any response that might be perceived to favor or disfavor the position. Do not assume that it is acceptable to display agreement, even if you truly agree. It is not. It takes a certain amount of social skill to do this because each time this happens it will inevitably be an uncomfortable moment if not handled well. And it is important to add that these kinds of biases and prejudices can appear in subtle ways; for example, in an image hanging on someone’s wall. Regardless of how shocking or stunned the deconverter may be, they must act as though nothing has happened. And we should point out that what may be regarded as bias or prejudice may not necessarily be a bad thing. It is the difference in culture, politics, religion and general opinions and affections between the deconverter and the adherent that the deconverter must be focused on at all times; and which the deconverter must faithfully hold at bay and not allow it to become or appear to become part of their own beliefs. Fully understanding the distinction between, and knowing how to mentally separate, something that is a moral matter versus something that is just different is, in this author’s experience, one of the most difficult things for deconverters to do.

Generally, some of these steps require organization and economies of scale since any one person wouldn’t have the time to make this numerically effective.

Decompression Seeding

In a previous section we defined “decompression seeding” in the following manner:

Decompression seeding is communicating and firmly planting in memory a narrative or accounting of fact that is probably false, a (preferably) trivial, logical conclusion of a given core belief, and simultaneously inconsistent with all or some other pre-existing conclusions of that same core belief which are also probably false.

And we restate our earlier executive summary:

“There are two basic types of “seeded” conclusions. The first is one that is something that can be concluded directly by the core belief in a god or gods. The second type is one that the adherent has already concluded and found (correctly or incorrectly) to be consistent with their core belief in a god or gods. It might be derived by processes and beliefs independent of the belief in a god or gods and is therefore unique to each adherent. However, the common denominator in all of them is that they are false, compelling and capable of being used to reach a conclusion that conflicts with the adherent’s core belief in a god or gods. One can create a “library” of such seeds and conspiracy theories tend to be common types or classes of this second kind of seed. We can call the first type an ideal seed and the second type an approximated seed.”

Ideal seeds were exploited in the narratives of the previous section and have a more technical nature than what we are examining in this section. Our focus here will be on approximated seeding and its functional aspects in any deconversion project.

In my own family approximated seeding often took the form of conspiracy theories but was something that was never formalized or well developed. I’m not even sure if anyone really understood how it worked or what it did, it was just an amusing way to cause people in an oppressive society to think without having to tell them to do so overtly. Superstitious people like crazy stories and it piques their interest. I just remember many crazy stories that originated with aunts, uncles and grandparents which none of them actually believed. As a child when I asked them about it I was told that it was “just for fun” and that “these were like ghost stories, entertaining but false”. I was asked to play along, though I was never pressured to do that.

Now, I will attempt to put together a general project plan for deconversion of multiple individuals who have been pre-selected based on criteria we will examine here as well. The general outline can be described thusly:

   

 


 

Demographic X Deconversion Project

Project Management Plan

Project   Manager Name: Kir Komrik
Project   Director Name:
Document   Author Name: Kir Komrik
Published   Date: 01/22/12
Version: 1.0


Document Revision History

# Date Document Version Control# Section   / Page # changed Project Change   Request # Details of changes   made
1 01/22/12 TBD  all TBD Document   creation


1.   Demographic X Deconversion Project

1.1         Introduction

1.2         Contacts

2. Team Management Plan

2.1         Stakeholder Communication

2.2         Escalation Process

2.3         Glossary

2.4         Distribution Frequency

3. Adherent Management Plan

3.1         Introduction

3.2         Psychiatric Evaluations

3.3         Deconversion Quality Assurance Schedule

3.4         Team Agreement Provisos

4. Multimedia Management Plan

4.1         Introduction

4.2         Tracking

5. Schedule Management Plan

5.1         Introduction

6. Cost Management Plan

6.1         Earned Value Rules

7. Project Demographic Scope Statement

8. Process Improvement Plan

8.1         Introduction

8.2         Audience

8.3         Process boundaries

8.4         Process configuration

8.5         Process metrics

8.6         Targets for improved performance

8.7         Diagrams

9. Reference Material

9.1         Project Charter

9.2         Issues logs

9.3         Work Performance Information (Status reports)

9.4         Objection Handling

9.5         Team Documentation

9.6         Change Revisions

 

 

Criteria for Subject Selection

Obviously, it would be desirable to choose targets of deconversion who are demographically most likely to deconvert if only a finite number of targets can be selected.  And that is the subject of this section. We can summarize our previous discussion of the characteristics of the deconverted thusly:

In most studies common denominators throughout the religious world appear to be:

  • Tends to be experiencing disaffiliation from religious community.

i.        This can be demographicaly realized in highly ethnically and culturally heterogenous areas

  • A common emotional motivator for deconverters is dissonance in what they hear from their religious leaders and what they experience in life.

ii.        This can be demographicaly realized in highly ethnically and culturally heterogenous areas

  • Most of the deconverted had a strong socialization into religion by parents in childhood who were strict adherents or worked in the ministry.

iii.        The universe of selected targets can generate from a list of a set of religious affiliation groups.

  • Their core identity was seen as natural or staid.

iv.        there is little that can be done here without a direct questionnaire or personality test

  • Most adherents who were zealous in religion become zealous in atheism; suggesting that the hypothesis of a core set of beliefs that are difficult to dislodge is probably correct, and that the specific nature of the core belief is what drives zeal.

v.        This identifies religious zealots as high value targets as they will likely be active atheists if converted. Individuals of this nature can be found in Mission organizations which we provide in the appendix. Unfortunately, the very demographic least favorable for deconversion is the demographic to which most missionaries belong.

  • A full reading of scripture has a tendency to deconvert. This is great news except that getting people to read it is not realistic.

vi.        Given the known educational and intellectual demographic of atheists and the fact that a consummate reader is more inclined to read religious texts, these individuals are obviously high value targets.

  • Is least religious

vii.        This identifies those who attend religious services infrequently and hold liberal theological views as prime targets for deconversion.

  • Least likely to engage in religious activities

viii.        This constitutes the same identification as in six (vi).

  • Has the most liberal worldview.

ix.        Political affiliations can be used as a filter in this regard

  • Tends to be experiencing intellectual doubt

x.        This is difficult to assess without a one-on-one interview.

  • Tends to be harboring moral criticisms of religion

xi.        Same as nine (ix).

  • Tends to be experiencing emotional suffering

xii.        This is a high value target that can be identified through outreach services of churches, NGOs and non-profits generally.

Outreach

Given that there are some 7 billion persons on Earth, most of whom require deconversion, the task is not a small matter. The deconverter planning a mass deconversion effort must, therefore, consider the magnitude of this problem and attempt to get the “most bang for the buck” by using efficient, large audience methods that reach as many adherents as possible. Videos and posting of them on youtube is an excellent tool for this. We have created (see Appendix) a video to teach others how to create videos and post them on youtube or any other online video server service.

The obvious, larger scale solution to the problem of number is to create a stand-in, universal religion by which all adherents can be converted. Upon conversion, this religion may be constructed so that it lends itself more readily to full deconversion. As it turns out, an existing religion serves this purpose well. Unitarian Universalism is religion that accepts atheists as members and provides a relatively easy platform by which one can complete their deconversion.

We recommend extensive use of this religion as a platform for deconversion. A website for this church which describes the core beliefs can be found at http://www.uua.org; which is the website for the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Basically, Unitarian Universalists are pluralistic and seek a unification of all faiths. This church has no creed or dogma and is only guided by a set of principles which can also be found on their website:

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity      of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion      in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement      to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search      for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the      use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at      large;
  • The goal of world community      with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent      web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that      transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us      to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and      uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic      women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil      with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s      religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings      which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as      ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which      counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and      warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of      earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and      instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

The next stage of internet promotion is to identify the demographics described above. That is, one needs to identify the target. Once determined the deconverter should search the internet for all discussion boards that fit this demographic and the needs outlined supra. Once identified as a group of top popularity sites, the one with the largest readership, not necessarily postings, is the primary target. Criteria for selecting a discussion board are that it should be strictly in the form of a moderated duplex conversation tool. Blogs and “news” sites that publish material for readers to just read or to read and comment on are a waste of time. Social networking sites that enable this are perfectly acceptable and often rise to the top of list simply because of the readership factor.

Assessing readership

Of course, it does little good to say all this if you have no way of knowing the actual readership. But the solution is fairly straightforward. Running searches on three of the most popular search engines on the domain name identified will generate “hits” that can be used to assess readership (once combined with what follows). To understand how to exploit this fully a cursory understanding of internet search engine advertising is in order. Basically, all the major search engines sell search results; all of them. This is not what is often claimed or known by the general public but it is true. And it is almost always done by a continuous, real-time bidding process. Whoever pays top dollar gets the top search result. And don’t let the drivel on the return page fool you; links identified as sponsors are just the sponsors that paid the most money. Every link on the return page is placed on the basis of the highest bidder at the moment the search was run. (But there is a caveat to this that we’ll examine shortly). Understanding this, it is important not to let this skew your assessment. The way to do this is to focus on returns that generate individual post pages rather than “splash” pages or “entry” pages. These should be disregarded from the search. The reason is that bidding is done on the URL and no one is going to bid good money on what is usually a very large number of pages when considering the full breadth of the website.

The promised caveat to the internet advertising methodology of link placement and ordering is that all or most of these search engines base the ranking of returns on traffic patterns commingled with the bidding process. Traffic patterns simply mean the pure number of hits but also, and this is absolutely crucial for the deconverter to understand, on the intricacies of hyperlink references to the page being returned. So, if you want to popularize a website without bidding real money, there is a way to do this by deliberately “pumping” the number of external hyperlinks pointing to your page (or the target page). And it is generally immune to the countermeasures often used by search engines to make their popularity rankings more “real” since it goes directly to the notion of popularity itself.

Pumping

There are two aspects of what we call “pumping” of which the deconverter should be aware. First, when assessing readership we want to know the intricacies of that hyperlinking. But the search engines do it for us by running automated software that “hits” domain names across the entire internet, pulls their content and performs analytics on it to determine how many hyperlinks it points to. But this software runs night and day and eventually hits the majority of domain names in existence. This means that once they know what hyperlinks from a given domain point to they can perform analytics to determine how many hyperlinks point back to it. Then the search engine ranks the page on the basis of these analytics. So, one can easily address the first aspect quite easily by just looking at the search return results as already discussed.

However, the other aspect of pumping is when we consider the various ways in which we can accelerate traffic to a given URL. There are any number of internet scams that talk about how to do this. Unless you are a bona fide expert in the workings of the internet the only way you are going to do that is by paying huge money for it. We are now giving you that bona fide advice. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort, which is why it is normally not cost effective for a business to do. But for a cause such as this it is a viable approach. As we noted, you will be picking a site that already has maximal traffic. But what we are talking about is boosting the traffic of that site by your own effectively clandestine methods. And this is done by doing exactly what the search engine automated software is doing, that is, you manually retrace the travels of these automated “engines”, called “bots”, at least to some degree. So, we identify any and all discussion boards that, for whatever reason, might be strongly affiliated with the demographic we targeted. We then go to those boards and begin doing, you guessed it, decompression seeding, a topic discussed infra. This will entail engaging whatever topic presents on these “peripheral” boards (recalling that they many have nothing to do with the subject of our interest) and deliberately dropping URLs back to the target site in your posts there. Of course, these references must be limited, clever and inconspicuous. But it works incredibly well. The traffic to the target URL increases substantially when this is done well.

Volunteers can be assigned this task if needed as the effort hours required will be high. It is preferable that when performing operations such as this the consent of the target site accountable staff is obtained. In hostile environments where serious harm could come to a deconverter operating in this manner this team has developed special procedures that can be considered for sharing by contacting this author directly. These methods are “NSA secure” and can be used with confidence. If you are in danger of being exposed in a hostile environment we urge you to contact us straight away. In any case, consent obviously might not be practical in those cases.

Once up and running you will find that links to your target website are getting high placement in search engines. In particular, your comments are getting high rankings because you linked into them directly.

We recommend that comments be posted on the inwardly linking sites that accomplish very much what we did in the beginning of the Socratic method: we take a statement made by another poster, then respond to it with an extreme manifestation or example of their statement claim, promising some significant insight into it at the link we provide. Typically, because it represents an extreme end of someone else’s claim, it will be something controversial. The deconverter should become very comfortable with the word “controversial” because that is exactly what each post will be pointing to. The effect of this is to draw in others to this link and all it links to (which the deconverter controls), potentially shifting their world view slightly, and thence drawing them through more links to atheism.

It is important to note that several volunteers are needed for this because having just one person post a high number of external links would be too conspicuous. The volunteers should spread their posts across several sites, using pseudonyms in each case. And this brings up another point about decompression seeding by posting on internet discussion boards. Each computer that connects to the internet exposes an identity to all other computers, first on its local network, then on the internet. At the local level what is called a MAC address identifies the network device installed in the computer to all other network devices in other computers on that same network. This number is hardware provided from the factory. However, once the local identifications are made, an abstract layer of idenfitication is added over that and is called an Internet Protocal (IP) number. This number is provided by a central authority that “loans” what are called CIDR blocks of IP numbers to those requesting their use. These CIDR blocks are just chunks of IP numbers. This IP number is exposed by your computer automatically when you “visit a website”, which means electronically contacting another computer known as a web server. The web server is what runs the website. So this means that this number can be recorded at the website end, and it almost always will be. Considerable information is stored about each IP number and much of it is publicly available. For this reason, using a pseudonym alone can lead to being identified as having multiple pseudonyms under one IP number; implying all these ids belong to the same person. This can be accomplished by what effectively are stalkers engaging in ad hominen attacks by checking IP numbers across several separate discussion boards on the internet. The idea in doing this is to portray the user as disingenuous or intellectually dishonest, even if it has nothing to do with the ideas the user put forth, and thereby undermining the user’s message creating the false impression that the message was tainted by the messenger.

This issue only comes up for larger scale operations; however, if you are considering such a project you can contact this author and he will consider sharing information with you that will thwart this kind of stalking.

Extra Socratic Methods

One of the most troubling and disappointing issues related to deconversion is the all too popular tendency of atheists to incorrectly think that intellectual arguments, quips, sarcasm, etc. actually work. They do not. These are intellectual games that do not speak to the heart of the adherent, which is what is necessary to deconvert. Most apologetics are framed in terms of formal apologetic arguments that may mean much to academics but mean little to the average adherent. Examples include “Ontological arguments”, “First Causes” etc. and should never be considered for use by a deconverter. However, the deconverter is likely to hear these kinds of arguments from adherents and therefore should be equipped to respond to them.

We will include the most common here:

The Ontological Argument

Initially proposed by St. Anselm of Canterbury and the Persian philosopher Avicenna in the 11th Century, this argument attempts to prove the existence of God through a priori reasoning alone (i.e. independent of experience, requiring only abstract reasoning). At its simplest, the argument runs as follows: God is, by definition, perfect; in order for anything to be perfect, it must exist; therefore, God exists.

In more detail, it argues that part of what we mean when we speak of “God” is a “perfect being”, or one of whom “nothing greater can be conceived”, and that that is essentially what the word “God” means. A God that exists, the argument continues, is clearly better and greater than a God that does not (for example, just an idea in someone’s mind), so to speak of God as a perfect being is necessarily to imply that he exists. Therefore, God’s existence is implied by the very concept of God, and when we speak of “God” we cannot but speak of a being that actually exists: to say that God does not exist is a contradiction in terms.

A variation on this argument was offered by René Descartes in the 17th Century. The Cartesian Ontological Argument suggests that we all have within us the idea of a perfect, infinite Being. But since we ourselves are neither perfect nor infinite, then this idea could not have come from within us. Instead, it must have come from outside of us i.e. from a real perfect, infinite being.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom the term “God” as used; “God is, by definition, perfect”, cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage – and is exactly the opposite of what is assumed).

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

  1. A monk named Gaunilo, a contemporary of Anselm, used the same logic to show that a “perfect island” must of necessity exist, even though such an island obviously does not exist. Anselm counter-argued that a “perfect island” is not really a concept but merely an imaginary idea, but he did not explain why God is not also just an imaginary idea.

The Cosmological Argument

This is also sometimes known as the Unmoved Mover or the Uncaused Cause, is the argument that the existence of the world or universe implies the existence of a being that brought it into existence (and keeps it in existence). The argument, the essence of which goes back to Aristotle in the 4th Century BC, is that everything that moves is moved by something else; an infinite regress (that is, going back through a chain of movers forever) is impossible; and therefore there must exist a first mover (what Aristotle called the Prime Mover) i.e. God.

In the same way, everything that exists or happens (including the universe itself) is caused by something else, and this chain of causation can be traced back to a first cause, which was not itself caused by anything but just “was”, and which can be called “God”.

The argument comes in two main forms, “modal” (having to do with possibility), and “temporal” (having to do with time):

  • The      Modal Cosmological Argument, also known as the Argument from Contingency,      suggests that because the universe might not have existed (i.e. it is      contingent, as opposed to necessary), we then need some explanation of why      it does exist. Wherever there are two possibilities, something must      determine which of those possibilities is realized. Therefore, as the      universe is contingent, there must be some reason for its existence, i.e.      it must have a cause. The argument continues that the only kind of being      whose existence requires no explanation is a “necessary being”, a being      that could not have failed to exist. The ultimate cause of everything must      therefore be a necessary being, such as God.
  • The      Temporal Cosmological Argument (also known as the Kalam Argument for the      medieval Muslim school of philosophy of al-Kindi and al-Ghazali which      first proposed it) argues that all indications are that there is a point      in time at which the universe began to exist, (a universe stretching back      in time into infinity being both philosophically and scientifically      problematic), and that this beginning must either have been caused or      uncaused. The idea of an uncaused event is absurd, the argument continues,      because nothing comes from nothing. The universe must therefore have been      brought into existence by something outside it, which can be called      “God”.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom the term “God”, “cause” [in the case of a “cause” that occurs in the super natural], “causality” [in the case of a “cause” that occurs in the super natural] as used; “God is, by definition, perfect”, cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage – and is exactly the opposite of what is assumed).

Scholium:

The Modal Cosmological Argument, also known as the Argument from Contingency, suggests that because the universe might not have existed (i.e. it is contingent, as opposed to necessary), we then need some explanation of why it does exist”; is a logical non-sequitir.

This is defeated by the Second Axiom because the “explanation” “needed” cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

The argument continues that the only kind of being whose existence requires no explanation is a “necessary being” …

Also fails by the Second Axiom because, if and as required, the “explanation” is at least partly super natural and cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

The Temporal Cosmological Argument … The idea of an uncaused event is absurd, the argument continues, because nothing comes from nothing … and that this beginning must either have been caused or uncaused …

The ex nihilo expositor holds and we do know that the universe had a cause. However, this proposition fails identically by the Second Axiom because the necessary and sufficient cause that is super natural cannot be sufficiently well defined (to entrain any such event in a causal linkage).

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting,

  1. The argument is disproven by contradiction since if God is thought not to have, or not to need, a cause of his existence, then his existence would not be possible because of the initial premise that everything that exists has a cause of its existence!
  2. If God or the Prime Mover “just is”, then why can the universe not “just be”? Why is there a need to go a step further back? The widely accepted concept of “Occam’s Razor” suggests that the simplest solution to a problem is always the most likely, and that additional unnecessary complexity is less likely.

The adherent may counter with a popular myth:

Interestingly, at the sub-atomic quantum level, modern science has found that physical events are observed to have no evident cause, and particles appear to pop in and out of existence at random. In the first infinitesimal fraction of a second after the Big Bang singularity, classical physics is known to break down and just such unpredictable and counter-intuitive quantum effects are thought to apply.

This argument actually argues in favor of the Second Axiom and the conclusions reached here. It does so if one understands the Standard Model well enough to understand why this is happening. The reason this is happening is precisely due to issue of “definition” and is beyond the scope of this work.

It will suffice to tell the adherent that the reason for this is due to the fact that causal events in quantum coherent states cannot be sufficiently well defined due to an inability to observe all degrees of freedom with equal precision. And no, by the Second Axiom it is undefined and provides no argument by itself for a God (I’ve heard this objection before).

The Teleological Argument and Intelligent Design

Also popularly known as the Argument from Design or Intelligent Design, is perhaps the most popular argument for the existence of God today. It is also, in this author’s opinion, the most sophisticated of all. It suggests that the order and complexity in the world implies a being that created it with a specific purpose (such as the creation of life) in mind.

The contemporary Intelligent Design (ID) movement abandons the literal reading of the Bible (which had dogged the older, largely discredited “Scientific Creationism” movement) and downplays some of the more mystical and fanciful elements of Christianity like miracles, hell and the Holy Spirit.

The universe is an astoundingly complex but highly ordered system, and the world appears fine-tuned to provide exactly the right conditions for the development and sustenance of life. Proponents of the Argument from Design argue that to say that the universe (and complex natural objects within it, such as the eye or the brain) is so ordered by chance is unsatisfactory as an explanation of the appearance of design around us, and that this implies the existence of a divine Being capable of designing, creating and ordering such complex sytems.

The 13th Century medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was perhaps the most famous subscriber to this argument, but the most cited statement of the argument is that of William Paley in the 18th Century who likened the universe to a watch, with many ordered parts working in harmony to further some purpose. Paley’s analogy asserted that if someone found a watch on a beach they would never conclude that it had been produced by any means other than intelligent design and purpose. In the same way, he continued, a system as complex as nature can only have been created by a process of deliberate purposeful design by a master designer, God.

A central premise in Intelligent Design is the idea of a “fine-tuned universe”, that the conditions that allow life in the universe can only occur when certain universal physical constants lie within a very narrow range, so that, if any of several fundamental constants were only slightly different, the universe would be unlikely to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity or life as it is presently understood. This is cited as evidence for the existence of God or some form of intelligence capable of manipulating or designing the basic physics that governs the universe.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Third Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Third Axiom the probability of Intelligently Designed natural objects in this universe having been produced by purely natural processes is in the limit as the number of independent variables approaches infinity, which it does (by limit laws) and the probability is 100%. It is granted that to get a probability that high one must be willing to accept that any number of universes is possible. To reverse the adherent must stand the burden of proving that a very high number of universes, even up to a limit, are not possible, which they cannot do and the Intelligent Design proposition fails.

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

Hume also pointed out that certain phenomena and events in the world (e.g. natural disasters, diseases, etc) suggest that God did not do a very good job of designing the universe, which rather belies the concept of a perfect being. He asked what can God’s purpose have been in designing the micro-organisms that cause malaria, polio, typhoid, cholera, syphilis, AIDS, etc? Are these merely trials deliberately sent to test us in some way?

The argument also begs the question of how, if orderliness in the universe requires the existence and intervention of God, God’s mind itself can be orderly. Was God’s mind created by an even greater God? Certainly, to say that God’s mind is in some way self-explanatory or necessarily existing begs the same questions already refuted in the Cosmological Argument. Insisting that it is just a brute or ultimate fact is unjustifiable, and the same claim could be equally made for material orderliness.

This response is similar to the Third Axiom but not fully developed. It may be easier for the adherent to grasp, though it doesn’t prove the point. So, it goes, the spontaneous origin of life on Earth, for example, may have been improbable, but it only had to occur once. Indeed, in the billions of galaxies throughout the immense reaches of the known universe, over a period of billions of years, it would be extremely unlikely if such an unlikely event did not occur. Even if the odds against it were billions to one, that would still point to life arising in billions of planets throughout the universe. In fact, it is quite possible that it occurred several times independently on the very early Earth, when conditions finally became propitious.

The Intelligent Design argument is another example of the “god of the gaps” argument, as proponents attempt to latch onto something which is not yet fully understood and then just assume, without justification, that their alternative theory of intelligent design applies instead. In the same way, any gap in the fossil record of an evolutionary transition series is automatically filled by God in the minds of creationists.

It is recommend that nothing be said or no hint offered to the implications to this argument in consequence of the Theory of Evolution. This topic should be assiduously avoided in all conversations with adherents. If they bring it up, the better position is one of neutrality and to use that to build political capital with the adherent.

In the high profile 2005 court case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, parents of school children in the Dover area of Pennsylvania sought to challenge the local school board’s rule that intelligent design must be taught as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The case was proven, and it was ruled that ID (including Behe’s theory about bacterial flagella) was not rigorous science, and indeed not scientific at all but religious in nature, and should therefore not be taught in school.

Regarding the specific ID argument that entropy is seen to be decreasing on Earth and order increasing, the Second Law of Thermodynamics specifically applies to a “closed system”, and the Earth is not a closed system, nor are most of our everyday experiences. Living things, for example, are not closed systems because they have external energy sources (e.g. food, oxygen, sunlight) whose production requires an offsetting net increase in entropy. The entire universe, however, is a closed system (so far as we know), and as a whole it is in fact expanding and increasingly entropic.

As for how an increasingly entropic universe can be consistent with the growth and development of galaxies, clusters, etc, it should be borne in mind that, as the universe continues to expand, so does its maximum possible entropy. The actual entropy in the universe is also increasing with time, but not to the same extent as its maximal entropy, leaving a “gap” or room for the formation of some increasing order (in the form of coalescing star systems, galaxies, etc). These pockets of order, however, are insignificant in the overall scheme of things, scattered randomly throughout the reaches of deep space, which on the whole exhibits very little structure and no sign of design. Even more tellingly, the visible universe represents only about 4% of the total mass of the universe, the balance being composed of “dark matter” and “dark energy”, about which we still know next to nothing.

Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager is the name given to an argument put forward by the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal in the 17th Century. His argument for belief in God was based not on an appeal to evidence that God exists, but rather on the idea that it is in our own interests to believe in God and it is therefore rational for us to do so. It essentially argues that to believe in God is a better bet than not believing in God, and so it makes sense to believe “just in case”.

The argument runs as follows: If we believe in God, then there are two possible outcomes: 1) if he exists, we will receive an infinite reward in heaven, and 2) if he does not, then we have lost little or nothing. Conversely, if we do not believe in God, then the possibilities are: 1) if he exists, we will receive an infinite punishment in hell, and 2) if he does not, then we will have gained little or nothing.

Part I.

1.)   If he exists, we will receive an infinite reward in heaven, and

2.)   If he does not, then we have lost little or nothing.

Part II. Conversely, if we do not believe in God, then the possibilities are:

1.)   If he exists, we will receive an infinite punishment in hell, and

2.)   If he does not, then we will have gained little or nothing.

Pascal argued that “either receiving an infinite reward in heaven or losing little or nothing” is clearly preferable to “either receiving an infinite punishment in hell or gaining little or nothing”, so it is therefore rational to believe in God, even if there is absolutely no evidence that he does in fact exist.

Refutation

It is not clear to this author that the Second Axiom of Deconversion is necessary to fully defeat this argument by proof. However, it is sufficient for that purpose.

By the Second Axiom

If the adherent does not understand this proof then you can provide a more traditional susbstitution that does work. To the best knowledge of this author, no further challenges that suffice to:

1.)   Successfully challenge this argument in a logically sound manner or

2.)   Is compelling to the average person

exist excepting:

It is almost prima facie ridiculous, but I’ll engage this in a way that an adherent would most likely appreciate and understand. Overall, it assumes God exists, which it cannot do.

In Part I item 2 is false or at least cannot be assumed. It may be that being an adherent alone has an enormous cost. Part II item 2 is false or at least cannot be assumed. It may be that being an adherent alone has an enormous cost.

There is little else to say and almost all adherents would see the problem mentioned supra.

Absence of proof is not proof of Absence

Following on from the argument that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God, it is sometimes asserted (both by theists and particularly by agnostics) that the claims of atheism are negated by the idea that “absence of proof is not proof of absence”, and that asserting the non-existence of something without any hard evidence is just an argument from ignorance.

It is alleged that asserting non-existence in the absence of evidence is the equivalent of an argument like the following: although I have no evidence that my dog can fly, you have no evidence that my dog can not fly; therefore, I am justified in believing that my dog can fly.

Refutation

The mantra “absence of proof is not proof of absence”, like any proposition, has contextual limitations. Consider, for example, the question of whether there is any butter in my fridge: if we do not actually look in the fridge the absence of proof clearly does not amount to proof of absence of butter; if, however, we do look in the fridge and see that there is no butter in it, then we have “proof” of the absence of butter. Of course, this refutation dances around an inherent problem that has to be examined to make this durable in the face of criticism from an adherent.

The reason for this is that this mantra only holds in cases in which an exhaustive observation of fact is not considered or possible. The refrigerator example is an attempt to make the observation appear exhaustive. Therefore, in the context of proving or disproving the existence of a god, it would be a valid mantra only if direct testing for the existence of god could not be extensively and exhaustively done. But this is what the entire deconversion conversation is about, so it is disingenuous to use this argument.

Information Theory as applied to RNA

The argument is based on what is called Information Theory; and as applied to DNA/RNA. The basic argument, I think, is to say that genetic systems contain information, or “code”, that could not come from less information; that is, it is irreducibly complex. And furthermore, this code, being an intelligent code that cannot derive from less information, could have only come from a “mind”.

Refutation

Of course, the immediate problem you can see here is that a “mind” need not be god’s, but we won’t tangent into a discussion of aliens and all the other possibilities because the premise of the statement is invalid anyway.

Information Theory is a mathematical treatment of the evolution, or change, in information within a system over a period of time.

Specifically, it defines information as a reduction in uncertainty; caused by an event for which the outcome can be predicted only in terms of probability. Therefore, once the event occurs and a “decision” is made, the uncertainty is reduced and that reduction in uncertainty constitutes information.

Therefore, in this treatment, information has a very specific mathematical meaning. To illustrate it, consider the exercise of flipping a coin. The act of flipping the coin is an event, call it x, that is binary in the sense that it has two possible outcomes. Therefore, the total number of outcomes available is M=2. So, information can be precisely treated as a function I such that:

I (x) = logu(M) [equation 1.0]

where u is the base used and the units in which I(x) is measured. So, the units of measure for Information are likewise precisely defined as the base of the logarithm of M. Suppose we choose base 2 so that we can express our result in binary notation. Then flipping a coin yields exactly 1 bit of information after the event occurs.

Contrast this with the definition of “information” in DNA; i.e. biological systems: “information” in DNA is base pair sequencing corresponding to an amino acid. We will return to this shortly.

These are completely different definitions and Information theory is not even applicable to the problem of information in Biology. But for the sake of demonstration, we will momentarily grant this falsehood. Let me expound:

Let x be an information source (an event). These events are any events in nature that can be characterized using an understanding of math and physics.

As an aside, this analysis also illustrates why you cannot depend on wikipedia for all of your information, or quote it as an authority, as atheists, in particular, love to do. This is because here we have yet another example of people posting on wikipedia who don’t know what they are talking about. In the wikipedia entry it is stated that “entropy” is a concept in the Second Law of Thermodynamics and does not apply to Information Theory. This is a reflection of ignorance of Information Theory since Information Theorists are using this term in a completely different manner; i.e. they have created their own operational definition that has nothing to do with physics. If they do not even know this much, a poster should not be trusted in any conversation about Information Theory. But I digress.

Entropy, denoted in the literature as a function H(x), is a measurement of our average uncertainty when we don’t know the outcome of an information source. That means it’s a measurement of how much information we don’t have (before the event) or how much information we gain (after the event).

H(x) = ΣMi=1 pi log2 (1/pi) [equation 2.0]

where p is the probability of a symbol, i. Much of the terminology in Information Theory is unfortunate. The term “symbol” is an obfuscated way of referring to one possible, measurable outcome of an event, x. M is the total number of “symbols” the source, x, can possibly generate. Therefore, using the simplest example, a binary event with equal probabilities in outcome will generate exactly 1 bit of information from an antecedent condition consisting of 0 bits of information. Information has increased. As we can see from the equation above, equal probabilities of symbols in an event x generate the greatest amount of information.

Therefore, in a biological system information is generated from a lack of information; exactly the opposite of what the Information Theory proponents argue. This is represented as a change in the genotype due to an event, z, which alters the base pair sequence such that the sequence before event z is not identical the sequence afterward. Once a selection pressure, for example, forces a change in a genotype, information is increased, not decreased. And from no information thus can come information.

To prove this we can take our previous equation 1.0 and explicitly solve the coin flipping event scenario:

I (x) = logu(M)

=> I(x) = log2 (2) = 1 bit.

But what about the condition prior to the event x? Does it contain more or less information? Since the number of total possible outcomes, M=1, we set that value appropriately and solve:

I(x) = log2 (1) = 0 bits.

Q.E.D.

Therefore, information is gained from no information. And this also denies any possibility of it “requiring” an intelligent “mind” to create it, as it derives of “disorder”, randomness or a lack of information. As with so many academic arguments so easily dispatched already, there truly is nothing to see here.

The Weakest Approaches of all

Let us start with what you should not do, because this is apparently where most of the confusion and damage is coming from.

While many popular pundits and atheist “speakers” have made comments likening one’s belief in a god to a belief in things like leprechauns, the deconverter should never engage in comparisons like this. As a matter of principle it is rude and insensitive because it ignores and marginalizes the brainwashing, exploitation, fear tactics and coercion applied by religion which would not exist for any belief in something such as leprechauns. These are two completely different classes of myth for that reason. But apart from that, and as a practical matter, the adherent will almost certainly be deeply offended and far less likely to deconvert as a result.

There is a well-known association between both education and IQ (Spearman’s G factor) and probability of belief in a god or gods. This positive correlation holds when both variables are taken together and singly. Do not try to use this as an argument to deconvert someone, or anything remotely resembling it. That we have to explicitly state this is evidence of the extremely poor capacity many atheists have at understanding public relations. It is disconcerting that something so obvious is not seen by so many atheists.

There is a tendency of atheists to appeal to authority a bit too easily. Do not appeal to Science, laud or extol its virtues or character worship its practitioners. This will backfire with considerable force.

Do not attempt to stand your own logical arguments against the presumptive reasoning of the adherent’s god. While we would think this would be obvious, youtube shows it to be a tactic used more often than not; and it reveals that there are too many atheists on the internet that need to be slapped. It will win no converts.

Appeals to the historic wrongs and crimes of organized religion will backfire. Do not use them. While those of us sophisticated enough in history, law
and economics to see this for what it is realize that religion was in fact created by atheists a very long time ago to control large populations through governance; this is not something you want to discuss on any level with an adherent.

Hallucination

There are numerous grounds on which hallucination can occur and it is not always a serious condition. Things such as ADD can increase the odds of having hallucinations; even though the person is otherwise perfectly normal. Hallucinations occur in the general population at the rate of about 1%.

Now, finally, what should we say?

We recommend beginning any formal conversation in which a debate is part of the format and content be prefaced with this statement:

I want to say something at the outset before we begin this discussion. First and foremost, I want everyone within earshot of my words to understand that I know there are things that atheists say and have said in the past that are offensive to you or your god. To be clear, I am aware of this, I have given it much thought in terms of finding a way to be respectful to you and your god, and it is not my desire to offend by any words or implications I make here. But to engage in this discussion will necessarily require some degree of wording or implication that might be offensive to some. This places the atheist in an awkward and, I would argue, unfair position. I only ask that you give me the latitude and breadth to engage in this discussion knowing and understanding that it is not my intent or desire to offend in any manner, but that the things I say are stated under the logical necessity the discussion invokes.

The first thing to frame is the concept of a burden of proof. The burden is always on the one making a claim to provide proof of that claim. In a court of law, this burden is placed on the plaintiff and one cannot use the argument that “you cannot prove that the defendant is not guilty”. Keep in mind that one cannot prove a negative, therefore, the burden is not just on who is making the claim, but on the type of the claim. Rewording this we get:

The burden of proof of any material fact is on the positive claimant.

If Anselm is raised by an adherent: Anselm argued “how”, not “is”. faulty apologetic used by Christians

If I were to assert that there was a china teapot in orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars no one could disprove my assertion. But if I were to go on to assert that since it cannot be disproved it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be talking nonsense.

~ Bertrand Russell

Why doesn’t God heal amputees? (one of the best one-liners available)

(Point out the perfect 1 to 1 negative correlation between prayer and outcome)

If all responses to prayers are concealed as coincidental; maybe they are.

(Point out the perfect 1 to 1 negative correlation between prayer and outcome – same argument really)

Same is true for miracles specifically

The Linguistics Limit: no one knows what the oldest “witnesses” actually said. So …

(you can set this up by using the Hebrew language artifact of missing vowels; e.g. YHWH as the reason why no one knows Gods actual name and by extension, anything else. The particular vowels originally chosen were chosen using grammatical rules at that time, which have changed with no record of the change). Curiously, in the earliest specimens known to exist (a collection found in 1972 in Sauna Yemen, in particular) – texts predating the so-called “Cairo text” of the Quran – also evidence a similar artifact whereby vowels are not present in the recorded text, thereby making possible as many as 30 different meanings for any given word. The Sauna text is the oldest known exemplar of the Quran, written approximately 70 years after the death of Mohammed. This suggests that the Quran was not transcribed as literally as Islamic adherents would like to believe. Thus, the Sauna text is not as stable as it seems in the Cairo version. Furthermore, text that had been previously washed off of the paper was recovered using basic forensic techniques. And it showed that the text had been reworded, rearranged and reordered. This suggests that the final assembly of the Quran took place about 70 years after the death of Mohammad. That, in turn, suggests that the Quran was fabricated de novo since its authenticity essentially requires a contemporaneous recitation. This is an interesting digression in Islamic counter apologetics, but a point worth noting here as well.

Later German studies indicated more serious problems still. It has been found that 20 to 25 percent of the Quran contains words that are unintelligible or meaningless. However, knowledge of Syriac would reduce this figure to around 5 percent. This suggests a Syriac audience in the original recording. But this particular language, specifically Syrio-Aramaic, was the dominant language of Christian liturgy by the third Century. Basically, this means the Quran was originally written in at least two languages; Arabic and Syrio-Aramaic. Recent interpretations of the Quran which take this into account yield slightly different meanings for various passages in the Quran. One of the implications of this is that Islam, under this more informed interpretation of the text, does not consist of a belief in an afterlife. Other examples of alternative readings include the reading that acts such as “suicide bombings” will only yield a reward of fresh grapes for the martyr and not eternal life. Paintings in Islamic structures depict Archangels receiving departed souls in heaven. The vestments of the Syrian Orthodox Church reflect this tradition, as well. In these depictions the Archangels offer grapes to the new arrivals. Christian scripture in the Last Supper has Jesus stating that he will not drink of the vine again until he is reunited with his disciples in his father’s kingdom (Luke 22:17-18):

117And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of YHWH comes.”

Here we have an Archangel receiving one of the newly departed with an offer for a grape.

Why were the exact same phrases the Christ used in the Synoptics also in the Book of the Dead over a 300 years earlier way south of Alexandria on the Nile? For this to be intentional on Gods part, for whatever reason, makes no sense because God would be undermining the credibility of the Son of God. The Christ would be a plagiarizer. And we have the original Book of the Dead if you’d like to look at it.

Where does our faculty of reason come from? Adherent should answer: God.  Then if god gave us that faculty isn’t it highly suspicious that he would not have provided any revelation to us accessible to it? If they object to semantics explain that the gift of reason is really the gift to do empiricism, whatever you want to call it. And if that is the case, then all the good things science has done for humanity surely came from a faculty given us by God.

From a purely statistical perspective, what are the odds I’d believe in Jesus if I were born and reared in, say, Saudi Arabia? Now imagine yourself having been so reared in Saudi Arabia. Imagine if I was in Saudi Arabia and asked you the same question about Jesus. Isn’t this highly suspicious? Change or modify the circumstances to suit.

Related to the above, everyone’s preferences, especially deeply cultural and spiritual preferences, are models of their parent’s belief systems. Don’t you find it highly suspicious that the vast majority of people in the world follow the religion of their parents and the society around them? Ever wonder if you’re a mark, a part of someone else’s con job?

Contrary to what many adherents may believe, a god cannot provide an objective morality since a god is no different than an alien: in both cases the morals promulgated come from a conscious mind and are inherently subjective.

Am I looking at the evidence and coming to a conclusion or … am I coming to a conclusion and looking for evidence for it (don’t lie to yourself).

Studies of prayer prove that it does not work.

I’d rather be an atheist than a hypocrite; only difficulty here though is you have to develop hypocrisy as a truth.

God created the universe, so who/what created god? This is, of course, based on fallacious predicates but could be used under certain circumstances.

When something is made in the image of some thing; often that thing is its creator. Religion is framed in the image of ancient men.

Regarding the Rights of Children and Adolescents

When children are brought up in a restrictive religious environment, it can be argued that their basic rights are being infringed. The UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child identifies the following basic human rights that children everywhere should have: the right to survival; the right to develop to the fullest; the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

Some atheist commentators (such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens) have argued that some kinds of religious upbringing amount to a kind of mental child abuse, leaving children terrorized by threats of divine punishment (hell, damnation and eternal torment), repressed and guilty about normal sexual functions and thoroughly indoctrinated from an early age, thus effectively depriving them of the opportunity to make their own free inquiry later.

In the same way, forcing children into a religious education – or depriving them of a secular one – before they are old enough, and intellectually mature enough, to think about the issues in any constructive way, deliberately traps them in a way of life from which it will be increasingly difficult to escape as they grow up. Denying them access to modern science knowledge (e.g. by teaching young-Earth creationism in the place of evolution and geology) fails to provide them with a rounded and practical modern education.

A comparative religion study, on the other hand, may well be appropriate for children, in order to give them a grounding in cultural and anthropological studies and to start them thinking about the issues in a non-directed manner. Arguably, the Bible could also be taught as part of literature studies – in the same way as Greek and Roman myths are taught, without any requirement to believe in them – especially given the vast number of Biblical allusions and references in other literature (an estimated 1,300 in the works of Shakespeare alone).

Describing a small child as “Muslim” or “Catholic” is not only meaningless (given that they are not intellectually mature enough to have such independent views) but may be positively harmful. By contrast, we would never speak of a “Republican child” or a “Marxist child”, for example, but assume that political choices will be made later in life based on informed opinion.


 

References:

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      1. Brad Hershfield Huffington Post Did religion create Civilization?, May 26, 2011.
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Appendix A

Companion videos to this document and where they can be found:

Under Development

Provide examples of Anthropomorphization across multiple religions which are all internally inconsistent.

Provide listing of Mission organizations, religious organizations, etc. that could be used to identify deconversion demographic.

The Liberation Theology of Exodus

The book of Exodus consists of different sources which have been spun together into a composite work. The story of Moses rescuing the slaves from Pharaoh is not a retelling of history but rather is an amusing, satirical parable. The theme of the parable could be described as ‘Liberation Theology’. Even though the liberation narrative is a hyperbolic parable, full of fantastic imagery (such as magical contests between Moses and the Egyptian priests, the turning of sticks into live snakes, and so on), although the story is not historical, it may be possible that there is an historical antecedent to the legends concerning ‘Moses’ and the liberation of slaves from Egypt. The Old Kingdom of Egypt suffered a mysterious collapse of central authority, and the downfall of the court of Pharaoh, that lasted for about one hundred years beginning sometime around 2100 B.C.E. Surviving historical records from Egypt describe this as a time of chaos and calamity in Egypt, a time of plagues, famine, and the complete collapse of the entire country. There were no Pharaohs again in Egypt for about one hundred years, the time of the rise of the Middle Kingdom from the ashes of the collapse of the Old Kingdom of Egypt. It is possible that following this collapse of the government of Egypt, and the unexplained downfall of the Pharaoh, a Moses type figure led a population of slaves out of the ruins of Egypt, and that this historical memory then become the inspiration for the Liberation parables found in Exodus.

The forgery known as ‘The Law of God’

The second half of the book of Exodus consists of later forgeries by the priests of the Jerusalem temple. According to the story, Moses led the people to freedom from Pharaoh only to hand them over to the enslavement by priests. The priestly rituals and the priestly authority described in documents such as the latter half of Exodus and the book of Leviticus were condemned by later Jewish prophets as a forgery concocted by the priests to justify their growing authority through the device of inventing a fictional trip up to a mountain top by Moses, who then brought down priestly religion, which it was suggested came therefore directly from God. The book of Numbers is another forgery wherein the people, after being rescued by God, are shown in a state of rebellion against the priestly religious system, and as punishment are bitten by snakes, consumed by fires sent by God, and destroyed in the tens of thousands by plagues and so on, events which never actually happened, since the theme of the book is blind obedience to priests, which tells us that the author of the documents were once the priests.

The central theme of this priestly religion consisted of various rituals, in particular the greatest ‘sacrament’ of the sacrifice of animals. This religious system was condemned by the Jewish prophets as a hypocritical charade intended to divert the people into sterile activities and the hollowness of religion and its dogmas, and so subvert the pursuit of true justice in the land. The priests, as described by the prophets, were in bed with the government and with a rising oligarchy in the land, and were using the sterility of their hollow rituals and doctrines as a device to keep the population dulled and stupid, pleasing God with religion and its hollow practices, while turning a blind eye to the gross injustices taking place in the land, the oppressions of the poor, and the greed that was running rampant at the time.

The clearest attribution of forgery to Canon comes from the Canon itself, where we find that in the book of Jeremiah the central character, Jeremiah, was a dissident priest who turned against the religious system of the day as a protest against the forgeries being committed by his fellow priests. It can be seen here that by becoming a whistle blower Jeremiah was doing a service to his fellow country men in that in those days most people were illiterate, and it was typical only for priests to learn to read and write, and so the common people of the time would have had no other way to know that their so called ‘Holy Writings’ were actually being progressively forged by their priests. Jeremiah was also radicalized by the brutal oppression of the poor, who were apparently being pursued by what we would today call ‘death squads’. Just as we have seen ‘orthodox religion’ crushing ‘liberation theology’ and turning a blind eye to the activities of death squads who pursue and murder the poor in our time, so the same practice of sterile religion combined with brutal injustice characterized the hollow religious system of Jeremiah’s time, and the purpose of that system of religion was to create a population superstitious and dulled of mind by religion. Jeremiah wrote of those times, saying,

We look for peace, but find no good, for a time of healing, but there is terror instead…Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”) “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored? O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people! O that I had in the desert a traveler’s lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them!…They bend their tongues like bows; they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth; for they proceed from evil to evil…They all deceive their neighbors, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongues to speak lies; they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent. Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit! (Jeremiah 8:15)

According to Jeremiah the central practice of priestly religion, the supposed great sacrament of the animal sacrifice, was in fact a forgery cooked up by his fellow priests. In Jeremiah 7:21 He began,

121Thus says the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Israel: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23But this command I gave them, `Obey my voice, and I will be your Lord, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26yet they did not listen to me, or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 27“So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28And you shall say to them, `This is the nation that did not obey the voice of YHWH their Lord, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.

The Torah also includes sadistic punishments for violating the laws of priestly religion, including the notoriously famous practice of burning at the stake. Concerning these laws, found in such documents as Leviticus, Jeremiah continued his polemical attack on the forgeries of his fellow priests, by condemning these burning laws, for like the central animal sacrifice ritual, these laws were ‘not the commandment of God’.

They have set their abominations in the house that is called by my name, defiling it. They built the high places of Topheth which is in the valley of ben Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire. That was no command of God. (Jeremiah 7:30)

Jeremiah continues his polemic with a direct attack on the practice of forgery in the Torah, followed by a condemnation of the laws of imperialist colonialism found in the same Torah, and supposedly sent down from God by means of Moses. Warfare and imperialist conquest, genocide and the seizing of lands is one of the great repeating themes of the Torah.

“When the lord your god has led you into the land you are entering to make your own, nations will fall before you. You must lay them under solemn ban and show them no pity.” “The lord your god has given you this land as your own. All your fighting men must take up arms and march.” Deut. 3:18 “Annihilate the nations you are dispossessing and make your home in their country.” Deut. 12:29 “Put the inhabitants to the slaughter without giving any quarter and burn their town down.” Deut. 13:15 “Drive out all the natives before you. You shall take possession of the land and settle it, for I, the Lord, have given it to you as your property. Divide it up among your clans.” Num. 33:52 when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must completely destroy them; you shall make no peace treaties with them, and show no mercy to them. Deut. 2:1 “Put the men to the sword, but the women and all the spoil you may take as booty. This is how you are to deal with far away lands. But in the lands that nearby you must not spare a living soul.” Deut. 20:10

Given how great is the number of genocidal imperialist scriptures in that so called ‘law of God’ the few examples above hardly constitute a complete list of these abominations, since this is perhaps the greatest theme of those forgeries. Jeremiah’s response to damn the Torah, and then in the spirit of judging them as they judged others, and doing unto them as they did unto others, he curses them and proposes giving their wives to others and having others steal their fields, for they are not a holy people, but were actually a band of filthy murdering thieves and their priests and their religion was a fraudulent abomination.

When people fall, do they not get up again? If they go astray, do they not turn back? Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They have held fast to deceit, they have refused to return. I have given heed and listened, but they do not speak honestly; no one repents of wickedness, saying, “What have I done!” All of them turn to their own course, like a war horse plunging headlong into battle…Now my people do not know the requirements of God. How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the Torah, when, actually, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie? Their leaders are dismayed, for they have been trapped and snared, but they rejected the truth, so what kind of wisdom did they have? Therefore I will give their wives to other men and their fields to new owners, for everyone from the least to the greatest is after dishonest gain. Priests and prophets are all frauds…They acted shamefully and they have committed abominations, yet they feel no shame and they don’t even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall with a great crash on the day of my reckoning and they shall all be overthrown. (Jeremiah 8:4)

The manipulation of the public and the creation of the Torah

One of the problems the priests faced after forging the Laws of Moses was that up to that time no one in the public was familiar with the documents, and to suddenly attempt to force such forgeries on the public would have been a public relations disaster for both the religious and political establishments of the time. Therefore what we can easily recognize as a public relations campaign was launched by an early cabal of spin doctors to peddle the newly forged documents. That this campaign of deception was successful is demonstrated by the fact that to this very day those forgeries remain in the Bible and among far too many religious people continue to be regarded as ‘the Law of God’ which supposedly was brought down from the very heights of heaven by Moses in person.

The story of how these new forgeries were foisted on the public can be uncovered because it is recorded in the ‘Book of Kings’. According to the spin doctored tale to be sold to the public, what happened was that the Torah, the law of Moses, was accidentally ‘discovered’ in the temple in Jerusalem where it had supposedly had been lying dormant and neglected for many, many years. The ‘discovery’ of the Torah was made by the High Priest, Hilkiah, who then allegedly reported the discovery to the political authorities, through Shaphan the secretary to the King at the time, Josiah..

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. (2 Kings 22:8)

The secretary then took the Torah to the King.

Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king. (2 Kings 22:10 )

The religious right of the time then launched a public campaign intended to instill superstitious terror into the population, in the form of such fire and brimstone speeches threatening damnation for disobedience to the contents of that book, which is the characteristic style of right wing authoritarian religion. The spokesperson for the religious right was a female prophet named Huldah, who went about the country preaching fire and brimstone and threatening the country with damnation should the newly discovered ‘law of Moses’ not be adopted faithfully by the entire country.

Thus says the LORD, I will indeed bring disaster on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. Because they have abandoned me and have made offerings to other gods, so that they have provoked me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. (2 Kings 22:16 )

With the ground having been prepared through the agitation of the public by the religious right, the political establishment then moved into action. The forged Torah was officially canonized and made into the sacred religious document of the entire country from that time forward. This was then celebrated as the ‘religious reform movement of the King Josiah’, when, what actually happened, is that a forgery was canonized through a carefully planned spin doctored public relations campaign.

The king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant. (2 Kings 23:2)

The Jewish portion of the Bible (the so called ‘Old Testament’) is a very interesting collection of documents, when it is read properly (by properly, I mean critically, not ‘literally’, which is impossible given the great controversies and the resulting contradictions found in its pages). The books of Kings give us the spin doctored point of view of the political establishment of the time. (Chronicles consists of a rewritten spin doctored version of the book of Kings, this time representing the view of the priestly religious establishment of the time. This explains why we would find the book of Kings written over again, with those telling minor alterations that reveal the interests and the interpretation of the priests).

It is typical of that ancient Jewish religion to not be dogmatic, which makes it very ironic that their books were then adopted by such a dogmatic religion as Christianity. Because of this different mind set found in ancient Judaism, you find both the official spin doctored version of events, and you also find the voice of the dissidents found in the writings of the Jewish prophets, as they condemn the official religion of the time as a heresy and fraud. This pattern is typical of ancient Judaism, and I find it to be admirable. Even the sacred Torah, which supposedly came right down from God, was not sacred enough to those people to be spared the most biting attacks, and it is almost impossible to imagine the same open mindedness to be found in such a dogmatic thing as Christianity, which viciously persecuted dissent as heresy. This is not to say that Jewish priests did not pursue heretics, since they were the ones who invented burning at the stake and stoning people to death, but the difference here is that the Jewish priests and the political establishment with which they were connected did not have the final word. So we find the Torah under attack as a forgery and the priests themselves we find facing a charge of damnable heresy, which is refreshing change of pace, and one of the admirable characteristics of ancient Jewish religion. We find the mindless doggerel of the book of Proverbs (bad things only happen to bad people, and rich people are good and blessed while poor people are bad and cursed) comes under attack in the book of Job (which consists of quotations from proverbs which are lampooned and attacked). Most people are probably unaware of the difference that exists between Jewish and Christian religions, and this is unfortunate, for ancient Jewish religion does not deserve to be tarred with the same brush as Christianity, simply because the book is ignorantly misused by dogmatic Christian literalists.

FINIS FIDEI

On the Historical Traditions of the Christian Faith

The following section is not intended for use directly in deconversion but is provided here as background information for the deconverter to aid in conveying to the adherent the significance of the forgeries of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC); particularly how these forgeries undermine the credibility of all Christian branches and denominations, not just those of the RCC.

What the reader is going to realize is that the forgery is key to understanding and exposing the motive and intent of the early Christian adherents and those that guided and controlled the Christain “tradition”. It demonstrates 1.) knowledge of the fact that the claim of Jesus’ existence is fraudulent; 2.) intent to deceive and manipulate the public with respect to 1; 3.) the means required to execute 1 and 2 and finally; 4.) the presence of opportunity for all parts 1,2 and 3. In the section supra dealing with the False Decretals and the forgeries generally, we will discuss how to use this background information to convey these important points to the adherent who is almost certainly ignorant of these facts.

We will approach this story of the history of Christian tradition in the role of the Christian apologist since this will allow us to better convey the traditions from the point of view of the adherent.

  1. I.              The Meaning of Tradition According to Jesus

Introduction.What we are attempting to do here is to pose a question in a way not unlike how we might pose a question about the traditions of Marxism from a historical perspective supposing, say, that Karl Marx had not only devised an economic theory but that he had even supplied us with a process and technique for carrying this knowledge through time, and a means by which we might interpret his original meaning in later, imponderable contexts. What we found when we examined the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth is that this is precisely what Jesus did. So, step two was to then follow this tradition using the tradition Jesus himself started by examining the historical record extant.

In order to do this we must, from a strictly historical perspective, examine all evidence of Jesus’ statements and actions that redound in any way to a tradition that he created, helped create or inspired. One is inclined to think that we need not look far since Scriptural Canon contains the answer to that. But alas, it isn’t that simple. Before we can accept the veracity and accuracy of those witnesses with respect to the information material to that assertion, we shall need to reference the scholarly analysis of those pericopes material to discussion; to wit:

What is Apostolic Succession?

1Corint-011.002

2Thslns-002.015

[ActsAps-001.021, ActsAps-001.026]

1Timthy-004.014

What is the role of an Apostle?

[Ephesns-001.003, Ephesns-001.005]

[GspJohn-001.022, GspJohn-001.026]

[ActsAps-001.039, ActsAps-001.043]

It might be asked why we would focus so much effort and attention on these two pointed questions. Are we simply cherry-picking a biblical concept to reach a preconceived conclusion? This might be a reasonable objection against such a focused analysis were it not for the fact that the issue of apostolic succession bears directly and uniquely, in all the Canon and tradition we have to examine, on the intent and will of Jesus of Nazareth regarding the durability of the tradition he initiated. If that tradition, as per Jesus of Nazareth, was fugitive then our work is done. If not, a historical analysis of what happened to it is in order. We shall formalize this hypothesis in what follows when we expound on axioms 3, 4 and 5 (see below). For now, it is sufficient to note that the foregoing pericopes must be examined in great detail to assess their historical accuracy.

Expounding, we have:

1Corint-011.002: I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.

Here, Jesus of Nazareth is the speaker and he is clearly stating that he has (1A) initiated a tradition that is durable.

2Thslns-002.015: So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.

Here, Jesus of Nazareth is the speaker and he is clearly stating that (2A) the tradition (ongoing) he initiated is the process by which we interpret the fidelity of ideas, actions and events against what he has taught previously. This, by the by, is a clear and unambiguous declaration that letters (Canon) are only part of that tradition.

ActsAps-001.21: So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us — one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab’bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi’as. 24And they prayed and said, “Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen 25to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside,          to go to his own place.” 26And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthi’as; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.

Here, (3A) the process of passing the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth through time is explicated in clear and fairly complete terms. It is described as a conciliar process involving Apostles already so commissioned.

1Timthy-004:014: Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.

This passage is tricky as it is crucial to identify to whom the statement is addressed. The addressee in this case is Timothy who, we learn from the first chapter of 2 Timothy, is an Apostle because the gift of the Holy Spirit was granted him by the “laying on of the hands” of the Apostle Paul. Thus, we see that (4A) Apostolic Succession as defined in (3) involves an act of ‘gifting the Holy Spirit’ to a recipient, a newly consecrated Bishop.

The task becomes more difficult when we try to assess what exactly Jesus had in mind regarding what role an Apostle, or Bishop, was to take. The relevant pericopes are:

Ephesns-001.003: how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Here, speaker is clearly stating that (1B) the insight into the mysteries of Christ is revealed uniquely to Apostles and no one else.

GspJohn-001.022: Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you         hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to  you.

Here, Jesus himself states the same thing as (1B) but adds more detail by noting that (2B) the Apostles are the unique recipients of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit gifted to them by God acting in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Apostle Peter speaking:

ActsAps-001.039: And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate          and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Here, the same thing as (1B) and (2B) is stated and (3B) the Apostles are clearly identified in their primary role as persons charged to teach and act as the official testators to the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth.

In summary, we have the following non-metaphorical and clear statements from Canon:

(1A) Jesus of Nazareth initiated a tradition that is durable.

(2A) the tradition (ongoing) Jesus of Nazareth initiated is the process by which we interpret the fidelity of ideas, actions and events against what he has taught previously.

(3A) the process of passing the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth through time is affirmed.

(4A) Apostolic Succession as defined in (3) involves an act of ‘gifting the Holy Spirit’ to a recipient, a newly consecrated Bishop.

(1B) the insight into the mysteries of Christ is revealed uniquely to Apostles and no one else.

(2B) the Apostles are the unique recipients of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit gifted to them by God acting in the name of Jesus the Christ (and the title is promoted thus).

(3B) the Apostles are clearly identified in their primary role as persons charged to teach and act as the official testators to the tradition of Jesus the Christ.

And the conclusion, if the veracity of these pericopes can be affirmed, is ineluctable. A strong metaphorical connection is also clear in these passages in which Jesus of Nazareth, his tradition and thus his life, is the Word and the Word lives on in Apostolic Succession. The proposition, putatively confirmed by extant Canon as shown above, that Jesus of Nazareth conferred his spiritual presence (and thus authority as the Word) through Apostolic Succession we shall, from hereon, denote P.

Thus, the task before us now is to research the historic record to determine how confident we can be that, from a strictly scholarly point of view, these statements are accurate accounts of what actually happened and was said. We shall, for the purposes of deconversion, accept this as fact for the purposes of progressing the conversation. This conclusion will provide the basis for axioms 3, 4 and 5.

Evidence for and against heterodox tradition.Thus, if P, then the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth is historically identifiable provided a sufficiently complete historical record exists to reconstruct its path through time. That is the goal of this work, and the basis for inclusion of material as part of this corpus.

The adherent’s account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth goes something like the following:

The biblical tradition places Jesus’ birth in Palestine at the town of Nazareth “in the days of Herod, king of Judea” (Lk. 1:5). We do know that Herod reigned from 40 BCE to his death in 4 BCE, so Jesus was born no later than 4 BCE and possibly earlier. Under Emperor Justinian, in 354 CE, the Church set the birth of Christ at December 25; however, this was most certainly not Jesus’ real birth date. In ancient Rome December 25 was the last day of the pagan Saturnalia midwinter festival (called the “birthday of the unconquered”) which celebrated the sun’s new birth from its solstice.

During his life, Jesus taught primarily in Galilee, a small agricultural region north of Jerusalem. Jesus lived in a peasant society during a time of great social turmoil between the colonialization of Palestine in 63 BCE by Rome to the devastation of the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE). Violent revolts, banditry, uprisings, and Roman colonial oppression were the norm and many popular religious movements sprung up during this time in response to the social crises. Jesus was one such figure who gained a reputation during his life as both a miracle-worker and a wisdom teacher. By being declared a king by others (or declaring himself a king) Jesus was found guilty of treason against the Emperor under the Lex Juliana. Thus, Jesus was crucified by the fifth Roman procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate, who reigned from 26-36 CE before being dismissed by Syrian governor Vitellius for a bloody encounter with a Samaritan prophet and his followers. From this information we know that Jesus was probably born no later than 4 BCE and must have died no later than 36 CE. Like Socrates, Jesus left no writings behind. Everything that Jesus taught had to be preserved orally by those who knew him when he was alive. This body of teaching was transmitted among those early adherents of the Jesus movement by oral tradition.

The Oral Tradition. Following Jesus’ death, certain of his followers reported that his tomb was empty (Mark [16:1, 16:8]) and that he had, in fact, rose from the grave and appeared to them (Matthew [28:11, 28:20]; Luke [24:36, 24:49]). Certain of Jesus’ disciples did as he asked in (Mark [3:13, 3:19]) and continued to teach in and around Palestine. The disciples would recall stories about Jesus and tell them to people in the context of their teaching (Eusebius, Church History, 3.39.15). For instance, when the disciple Peter taught in Palestine, Rome, (and perhaps Corinth), he may have preached to the wealthy by shouting: “Jesus said, ‘Damn you rich! You already have your consolation and damn you who are well-fed now! You will know hunger'” (Lk. 6:24-25). Peter might then have linked this saying of Jesus with his own preaching in which he relates Jesus’ words to a theological point. The disciples remembered these individual sayings of Jesus (called pericopes) in no particular order and used them as the situation demanded it. This particular Q pericope (from Luke) would not serve Peter very well among the outcast. Among the poor he may have comforted them by using the sayings of Jesus found in Luke [6:27, 6:36]] or perhaps Luke [11:2, 11:4].

Over time, these stories came to be collected and were remembered in a thriving oral tradition that preserved Jesus’ miraculous deeds and wisdom teachings. Since Jesus left no writings, the stories about him that the disciples remembered were all that the early converts to the new movement knew about Jesus. The oral tradition thrived from shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion to well into the second century. Many pericopes in the oral tradition–for example the legend that Jesus was born in a cave–did not survive once the written gospels became canonical. However, even after the gospels were written, the oral tradition continued to thrive in many communities. The late first century church elder Papias preferred the oral tradition over the gospels.

Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea from 315 CE to his death in 340 CE, had read a now-lost work by the Church elder Papias who lived and wrote around 100 CE. In his Church History, Eusebius quotes Papias as saying that written material did not help him nearly as much as “the word of a living and surviving voice” of the sayings of Jesus (3.39.3). Papias collected all of the stories he could find from the elders who had known one of the disciples and wrote them down in a work called the Oracles (Sayings) of the Lord. Other writers had done the same thing. The very early Q gospel–which Matthew and Luke used when composing their gospels–was just such a collection of sayings, written sometime during the middle of the first century. Similarly, the Gospel of Thomas belongs to this genre because it preserves many short sayings of Jesus culled from the oral tradition. It is suspected that much of Jesus’ words preserved in the gospels reflect more the theology of the early Church rather than the historical Jesus himself. This is why scholars look closely at the Q Gospel. It lies on a closer trajectory to Jesus and may better preserve Jesus’ actual words than other gospels, for example, the Gospel of John which contains very little of the historical Jesus.

The oral tradition did not preserve autobiographical details of Jesus’ life and, surprisingly, the Q gospel does not even mention Jesus’ death and resurrection. The task falls to the first gospel writer (Mark in 70 CE) to write about Jesus’ death but he ends his gospel by the discovery of the empty tomb (Mark 16:1-8). Matthew and Luke will provide a genealogy for Jesus as well as post-resurrection appearance stories.

The Apostle Paul. There is a disappointing irony in the Apostle Paul as a source for the historical Jesus. Even though Paul did not know Jesus (he was converted to the movement two years after Jesus’ crucifixion), his letters to various early Christian communities predate the gospels, making them the earliest testimony of Jesus. Yet Paul never speaks of Jesus’ life and very rarely mentions anything that Jesus said. This is because Paul’s letters to the various communities he founded are ecclesiastical policy designed to organize the young Church and were not intended to communicate the sayings of Jesus. Since Paul did not know the historical Jesus (and fought with those who did) he is not as helpful to us as we might at first imagine.

Jesus’ disciples were still alive of course and Paul tells us that three years after his conversion he visited Peter in Jerusalem (the headquarters for the Jesus movement) for fifteen days (Galatians [1:16, 1:19]. Paul tells us that he did not seek out any of the other disciples and seems to have had little interest in their perspective of Jesus. In fact, very quickly Paul feuds with other disciples and his theology is questioned by those who follow Peter (1 Corint [1:12, 1:13]).

The “Cephas faction” (Peter) that Paul fought followed Mosaic law and insisted on circumcision even for the Gentile converts to the new faith. The fact that Peter is so insistent on this is good evidence that Jesus himself never abandoned the tenets of Judaism. Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians because a serious crisis had arisen in the community there over the conflict between the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem (under James and Peter) and Paul’s earlier teaching. Paul tells us that he did not receive any instruction from the disciples in Jerusalem because his gospel from divine revelation was the only true gospel.

These various factions that Paul mentions are called “trajectories” by biblical scholars; out of these trajectories emerge different movements which emphasized or understood Jesus’ teachings in manners that caused friction between them. In his second letter to the community at Corinth, Paul complains of those “superlative apostles” who preach a different Jesus than the one that he preached to them (2 Corint [11:4, 11:6]). Paul goes on to characterize them as “false apostles” working for Satan (2 Corint [11:12, 11:15]). These enemies of Paul were probably the Judaizers (of Philipppians [3:2, 3:15]) who, if they were not Jesus’ disciples, certainly Jewish-Christians in close agreement to the theology of Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem. We must remember that Jesus was a Jew and advocated an adherence to the Law. Unlike Peter and the other disciples in Jerusalem, Paul considers Judaism a regression, a step in the wrong direction (cf. Acts 2:43).

We must conclude that Paul is of no help to us for understanding the teachings of the historical Jesus. Paul claims to have received his theology, not from Jesus via Jesus’ disciples whom he despised, but rather through a direct revelation with a Risen Christ. Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ teaching received from this revelation seems to be in sharp disagreement with the understanding and practices of Jesus’ own disciples in Jerusalem.

This concludes our attempt to faithfully and fairly represent the adherent’s view of the life and meaning of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Q Gospel. Since we can no longer know the words of Jesus as he would have wanted us to–by listening to him speak in rural Galilee–the closest thing we have is the Q gospel. The Q gospel puts the modern reader very close to those first Jewish Christians in the Jesus movement because it is the earliest source to Jesus’ words. Scholars date Q to about 50 CE, thus it enjoys priority to the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. That Q (and Mark) predate and were sources for Matthew and Luke is called the two source theory.

Q is from the German Quelle or “source” so named because scholars recognized very early that certain passages in Luke and Matthew formed a unified source of material for the two gospels. The community of ancient Jewish Christians who produced Q was very different from the later communities of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. If one reads the Q gospel without imposing the developed theology of later trajectories, a clear picture emerges:

  • Q is not a narrative gospel like      the synoptics, but rather a collection of Jesus’ sayings. Q is a codification      of the oral tradition and tells us Jesus’ words rather than anything about      his life.
  • The Q community emphasized the      coming of God’s rule; yet there is a clear absence of the Risen Christ      theology of the Pauline kerygma. In fact Jesus’ death is not even      mentioned at all.
  • Jesus is seen as a wisdom teacher      as in the Gospel of Thomas. This conforms to the original testimony of      Josephus who refers to Jesus as a wise man and a teacher of those who love      truth.

John Kloppenborg identifies three layers of material in the Q gospel named simply Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q1 is the most primitive layer and closest to the historical Jesus while Q2 and Q3 represent additional redacted materials over time as new sayings were incorporated into it. Q1 consists largely of Jesus’ wisdom sayings (Robinson and Koester’s logoi sophon gattung, or “wisdom sayings genre”) and the attitude of the true followers of Jesus toward discipleship, death, and the world around them; Q2 adds eschatological sayings (apocalyptic pronouncements) concerning the judgment to come when God’s rule finally closes in; and Q3 adds the last layer of material which is introspective and cautions followers of Jesus to be patient while they wait for the eruption of God’s rule into the present situation.

Burton Mack points out twelve “core sayings” of early Q1 material that give us a picture of what Jesus taught during his life. All references are to Luke’s gospel:

  1. Love your enemies (6:27)
  2. If struck on one cheek, offer the      other (6:29)
  3. Give to everyone who begs (6:30)
  4. Judge not and you won’t be judged      (6:37)
  5. First remove the beam from your      own eye (6:42)
  6. Leave the dead to bury their dead      (9:60)
  7. Go out as lambs among wolves      (10:3)
  8. Carry no money, bag, or sandals      (10:4)
  9. Say, “God’s rule has come      near you” (10:9)
  10. Ask and it shall be given to you      (11:9)
  11. Don’t worry about living (12:22)
  12. Make sure of God’s rule over you      (12:31)

We can see a clear theme in the early sayings of Jesus. The Q community believed in voluntary poverty, humbleness, total pacifism, and complete reliance on God rather than family or tradition. In the Q gospel Jesus says ironically “Congratulations to you poor!” (Lk. 6:20b) and further praises those who hunger and weep for they shall be rewarded when God’s rule comes soon. These sayings are representative of Jesus’ followers in the very early years of the movement. Paul tells us that when he visited the community in Jerusalem they reminded him to always remember the poor (Gal. 1:10). These people did not find meaning in Jesus’ death, but rather found deep meaning in his teachings while he was alive. By contrast, the Apostle Paul will find deeper meaning in the Risen Christ rather than the wisdom of Jesus’ teachings as preserved by the Jerusalem trajectory. This causes a crisis in the early Church prompting Paul to write his letters to the Galatians and Corinthians. (Later, Paul discovers that his rivals are completely subverting his work at Corinth and writes to them a second letter.) In any case, the striking differences between the kerygma embodied in Q and the Risen Christ kerygma of Paul may well mirror the conflict between them. Although the Q gospel lies on a trajectory much closer to the historical Jesus, it is important to remember that it still represents the theology of the Q community and probably does not accurately represent all of Jesus’ sayings.

The Gospel of Thomas. I present the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas here because there is recent debate over its relationship to the canonical gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. Helmut Koester argues that it is a mistake to see Thomas as an “eclectic excerpt” from the canonical four because the canonical four contain large segments of narrative material which Thomas lacks entirely. Thomas is best understood in the genre that produced the Q Gospel (the sayings source genre) since its individual pericopes are independently based on oral tradition and not the narrative forms of the synoptics and John.

Since Q informed Matthew and Luke (according to the two source hypothesis), and Q dates to about 50 CE, Thomas may well have in its original form stemmed from that same tradition.

The Coptic version that is now extant as part of the Nag Hammadi library (not to mention the Greek Oxyrhynchus papryi fragments 1, 654, and 655) have not preserved the oldest tradition that is seen in the Q gospel. Nevertheless, it can be seen that the Coptic version belongs to a much older tradition, a tradition that probably stems from the oral tradition rather than upon another noncanonical or canonical gospel. Bishop Papias (c. 100 CE) tells us that Matthew first compiled the “sayings” of Jesus in Aramaic and everyone else translated these sayings into Greek as best as they could. The genre that Q and Thomas represent (as sayings sources) resemble such a description of Matthew leading some to speculate that the original Matthew was first a sayings source gospel in the manner of the Q gospel. If Papias is correct, then this certainly supports a very early dating of Thomas.

Scholarship on the Gospel of Thomas is still in its infancy and biblical scholars hesitate to draw hasty conclusions without further study. What is agreed upon is that, in its oldest strata, Thomas stressed the wisdom teachings of Jesus. In Thomas, Jesus teaches his disciples how to discover the “Kingdom of the Father.”

The Historians: Josephus. Josephus (37-100 CE) is perhaps our primary source for the history of first-century Palestine. He was born Joseph ben Matthias into a priestly Hasmonean family, but after he became a Roman citizen he adopted the emperor’s name, Flavius. Josephus spent some time with the Pharisees, Essenes and, for three years, was a disciple of an ascetic teacher name Banus (Life, 2). During the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE), he led an army against the Romans but in 67 CE was captured in Galilee by the Roman general Vespasian. Josephus impressed Vespasian and, when in 69 CE Vespasian became emperor, he released Josephus from prison. After Jerusalem fell in 70 CE, Josephus returned to Rome and began writing the history of the Jewish people. His two major works are The Wars of the Jews (75 CE?) and The Antiquities of the Jews (95 CE?).

Josephus is considered important by students of the New Testament because his writings focus on the socio-political events that occurred during Jesus’ life. Interestingly, Josephus writes about John the Baptist’s teachings at great length (Antiquities, 18.5.2), but tells us very little about Jesus and his ministry. In a much-contested passage of the Antiquities this is all that Josephus writes about Jesus:

Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man . . . . For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. . . . When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. . . . And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared (18.3.3).

Following Patterson, I have excluded the places that scholars agree are later Christian interpolations.  Even though Josephus does not tell us much we can discern a few very important things about Josephus’ portrayal of Jesus. Jesus was a wisdom teacher. This is an especially important attestation of the Q gospel’s portrayal of Jesus. Also, Josephus is aware of the pejorative term “Christian” (messiah-followers) and refers to them as “so called” Christians because, as a Jew, Josephus did not believe Jesus to be the messiah. The Roman historians Tacitus (Annals 15.44) and Seutonius (Lives of the Caesars 6.16) use the term Christian in a pejorative sense and we learn from 1 Peter [4:14, 4:16] that the term was used derogatorily against Jesus’ followers while they were persecuted.

The Historians: Tacitus. Other than Josephus, the only other historian that can tell us much about the historical Jesus is Tacitus (56 CE-117 CE). In his Annals he writes:

The founder of this sect, Christus, was given the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator, Pontius Pilate; suppressed for the moment, the detestable superstition broke out again, not only in Judea where the evil originated, but also in [Rome], where everything horrible and shameful flows and grows (15.44).

Tacitus and Josephus provide good references to Jesus’ crucifixion, however Tacitus is no help for telling us anything about Jesus. The quest continues.

On the Meaning of Excommunication and Anathematization.The first thing we will do to motivate our discussion will be to apply formal logic to any available facts regarding Christianity that are uncontested in any field of study or interested party; theology, history, anthropology, archaeology or academia generally, or the Early Church. We accomplish this by establishing a set of fundamental axioms (axioms 3 and 4 have only been recently confirmed by intense scholarly research):

1.)   I discern, at minimum, a unique divine authority delegated or intrinsic to a man known as Jesus of Nazareth, known to us only by his testimony to the fact, regardless of whether he was human or divine, by a god he called YHWH; and that we can thus promote his title Jesus the Christ.

2.)   I discern by reason and fact alone that Christian Tradition, to whatever extent it may have existed, is epistemologically prior to Scriptural Canon as it existed second; thus appeals to Scripture in these axioms, to affirm or disfurnish them, must be based in that Tradition and not in Scripture alone; i.e. Scriptural meaning is a subset of ancient traditions; a snapshot of that tradition at one moment in time.

3.)   (A1) Jesus of Nazareth initiated a tradition that is durable and (B1) the insight into the mysteries of Christ is revealed uniquely to Apostles and no one else.

4.)   (A2) the tradition (ongoing) Jesus of Nazareth initiated is the process by which we interpret the fidelity of ideas, actions and events against what he has taught previously and (B2) the Apostles are the unique recipients of the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit gifted to them by God acting in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

5.)   (A3) the process of passing the tradition of Jesus of Nazareth through time is affirmed and (B3) the Apostles are clearly identified in their primary role as persons charged to teach and act as the Official Testators to the Tradition of Jesus of Nazareth.

6.)   I discern on the basis of reason alone that if axiom two (2) holds then it is not possible for an individual person to independently discern tradition, even if aided by Scriptural Canon.

7.)   I discern that God’s message to humankind, wherever and to what extent It opts to offer it, can therefore reach us only as a result of the recorded findings of all Bishops who have, up to the present time, been consecrated as such. Nothing in this conclusion limits the medium of communication to these Bishops alone, should these Bishops in consensus fidelium discern a broader medium. If the foregoing axioms hold, then that understanding provided for in tradition is, by definition, inerrantly the understanding, regardless of accuracy or completeness, God wills us to possess at any given time.

Ergo, three primary conclusions follow by deduction:

1.)   A sort of sacred tradition was indeed initiated by the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth well prior to the existence of Scriptural Canon.

2.)   That tradition was, at minimum, guided and managed by the valid succession of Bishops who succeeded the first twelve Bishops (or Apostles).

3.)   A fundamental causality relation can be deduced from the seven axioms: A cause consisting of two distinct components, durable tradition and fugitive tradition, admits of an effect called the Word incarnate. Durable tradition is the grace, truth and understanding conveyed in Apostolic Succession and held collectively by all Bishops past, present and future. Fugitive tradition is all that is sensible to humankind. As the cause consists of a fugitive component the causality relation is time dependent; i.e. the Word incarnate changes in time. More generally the full deposit of tradition is the grace, truth and understanding that issues of God to humankind by the means of a succession of apostles-ships commissioned by Jesus we here intend to examine informed by all things sensible. The breadth of that deposit inerrantly is temporally limited and expanding in time God willing.

The first six premises are relatively straightforward and obvious. The seventh premise shall require more analysis. What I mean to say by the seventh premise is that there exists media through which God may, at his discretion, communicate with us. The college of Bishops both expired and extant constitutes that portion of the media that is durable in time by dint of premise four. If the durable medium discerns a complementary but fugitive media they may, it is reasonable to imagine, so employ it to inform their discernment. Such fugitive media could include just about anything that the Successors of Jesus of Nazareth may deem useful, from Quantum Field Theory to active participation in polity by the laity. I shall show in what follows that that general approach has indeed occurred. Further, one must read this axiom carefully. What it is saying is that it is not tradition itself that is inerrant or infallible but God’s will that a specific limit of knowledge in that tradition at a given time be imposed on humankind that is infallible. From hereon I shall refer to this cause, this deposit of durable and fugitive tradition amassed over time by the commission of, and succession delegated by, Jesus of Nazareth [definition 1.0], and in this context interchangeable with the Roman Church’s sense of the True deposit of Sacred Tradition, as The Q.

We are now in a better position to offer a definition of “doctrine”, as we intend to use the term here. Simply put, doctrine is the objectification of tradition. But that is still a little too vague for an operational definition. To understand how we are using the term here we can start by explaining more completely what is meant by “fugitive tradition”. Fugitive tradition is transient, or “fugitive”, because, at any given time, it consists of all those things sensible that durable tradition can discern as a sacred, spiritual tradition – it’s the stuff of human experience which durable tradition admits influence in its discernment. It is thus changing because the Apostolic Successors, being human beings, admit different sensible “stuff” at different times in history. Whenever such an admission is made, that stuff becomes durable in time to the extent that durable tradition does not later alter or abolish it. That stuff admitted, combined with whatever discernment aborns within durable tradition (amongst Bishops) is called doctrine. That is, doctrine is the objectively communicated combination of discerned truth made by and within durable tradition and all those elements of the sensible that durable tradition admits as discerned truth or its predicate/s [definition 2.0]. Since what is admitted, and hence discerned, can change in time, so too can doctrine change in time. It isn’t the case that when doctrine changes God changed his mind, it’s that God chose to reveal different doctrines at different times. It’s not about what is right or wrong, generally speaking, it’s about what is right or wrong for a given person in a given time. It is logically evident, from the 7 axioms aforementioned that for whatever reason God decided that his (neuter) message will be very specific to circumstance. While this may sound surprising to some, it follows directly from a set of fairly simple axioms. But aren’t we just saying that truth is relative to the whims of who holds the Office of the Bishop at any given time – truth is relative to whatever the culture, or a pompous Bishop, says it is? The answer is no and the reason is slippery. God’s truth is absolute. But what is relative is humankind’s ability to understand – to include those pompous Bishops – truth in full fidelity. The reasons for that do not redound to differences in people but circumstances. The same passage in Revelation could mean something completely different to a Roman slave in 235 CE as it might to a modern-day 14 year old boy in Orange County, California. Truth is very much relative to the extent that one can comprehend it. This could be the reason why God chooses to enhance the fidelity of revealed truths in baby steps over time. It is not a little obvious that human beings cannot be expected to understand Absolute Truth in absolute fidelity and it is therefore easy to see why God might have done this. By the by, we note that we will take “Canon” to mean a special class of doctrine distinguished by its nature as an instructional type of doctrine.

We may now establish a more operationally complete definition of this so-called Sacred Tradition. While the Roman Church has categorized Sacred Tradition into three distinct parts, for our purposes I will examine two salient aspects of that Sacred Tradition; namely, those parts of Sacred Tradition that are durable and those parts that are fugitive, which is both beholden to and derived of the durable. This is a crucial finding for it establishes a starting point for assessing to what source, at least as an abstract form, we turn for God’s will, to the extent that God chooses, betimes, to reveal it. In other words, at least in its most abstract form, we have identified the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ as that body that is the corporeal essence of The Q because it is through that medium that we receive the Word of God incarnate, incarnate Word as distinct from the Word as a whole not necessarily to be revealed to humankind (viewed in this light a re-examination of the Canon of John, in particular, the parts of it referring to the Word as manifested in Jesus of Nazareth – and more as a medium than a person – juxtaposed with Canon stating that the ‘Church’ is his incarnate ‘body’, is particularly fascinating). And we have done that by assuming a very small number of largely non-controversial, non-contested axiomatic discernments; that is, the 7 axioms aforementioned. Fortunately we shall be able to show that the 7 premises aforementioned will ineluctably lead to only one ultimate conclusion regarding what body, group or institution retains this very special status as The Q today. In other words, we can identify the true medium of God (the medium of the Word) and, to the extent God wishes to speak to us, we know thus to where we can turn our ear. We will have need to rely only on the aforementioned 7 axioms and that subset of the body of historical evidence that remains uncontested by mainstream scholars and theologians. And the crescendo of Ravel’s Bolero grows stronger.

Since the Canon was created, modified, redacted and sorted for inclusion or exclusion on the basis of that valid Sacred Tradition, Scripture is necessarily secondary to Sacred Tradition as the source we seek, that is, the Sacred Tradition. Wherever Tradition errs so Canon necessarily imitates. Thus, I do not claim pure fidelity to the Word in Tradition, only that that is the method and medium Jesus of Nazareth initiated – the medium of whom Jesus of Nazareth is the principal exponent, indeed the ‘body’ of it – and the only source we really have. Indeed, I shall show that this fidelity of content increases over time but never reaches completeness. When I take up the Protestant Straw Man again later in this work I will more closely examine by what political or conciliar process this Sacred Tradition evolves and formulates doctrine and dogma – democratic, papal, or something else (the Roman Church today regards Scriptural Canon as having originated within a subset of Sacred Tradition called Ecclesiastical Tradition – or The Sacred Traditions of the Church’s institutions).

A Deeper swim in Sacred Tradition and the Protestant Straw Man.Sacred Tradition has a very specific definition in the body of knowledge and understanding amassed in the Early Church. But here we are using the term more pragmatically. Recall that our aim is to identify the extant source which is the medium of the Word, if it exists and can be sufficiently well defined. Since Scriptural Canon did not exist prior to the 3rd Century CE Sacred Tradition, for our purposes, is simply the sum total of that medium of the Word that existed, and possibly still exists, minus Scriptural Canon. This is a very important point we are making here so it is worth re-stating. We are asking by whom or by what did God speak to the Christian community before Scriptural Canon existed? Secondary to that we are asking does that super-Canonical medium still exist? When examined this way the answer is obvious. It was the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded by a diverse collection of followers of the “new way”, which constitutes this medium; that is, it is the sum total of the Christian experience, including the Ebionites, Docetists, the Essenses, and just about all followers in between. Thus, generally speaking, tradition is media while the “deposit” of that media is the ponderable content that has, up to some given point in time, amassed – the Word incarnate. But we do have some tools to reify the matter yet more. We know that Jesus delegated his authority as the incarnate medium of the Word through a succession of Apostles he himself commissioned. Put another way, any view that did not adhere not just to the broader, more general tenets of the new way, but that was incongruent with the discernment of the Bishopric cannot logically be regarded as that medium. When examined this way the picture becomes a little less murky, more tangible and a little easier to comprehend. It doesn’t take much at this point to see the obvious:

Sacred Tradition is the media, and The Q its deposit. Scripture is nothing more than a snapshot of that Tradition several hundred years past. That snapshot, like all human endeavors, is an imperfect, culturally laden snapshot of a process of understanding in Sacred Tradition aborning. Moreover, that snapshot was not, at least in the most generic sense, intended to settle theological disputes, but rather was intended to be a liturgical and educational tool used in Mass.

Nothing more. Now, perhaps, the reader can see the colossal damage done by the Protestant Straw Man which advanced Scriptural Canon as something it was never intended to be, discarded durable Sacred Tradition in Apostolic Succession, then took that Scriptural Canon as the basis for all sorts of modern-day ‘controversies’ which serve, like a red herring, to distract the confused but spiritually hungry viewer from the issues germane to their relationship with God. So, in some sense, the Gnostics were right. By studying knowledge (gnosis) one could, if he “had ears to hear, hear”, since doing so was really a study in Sacred Tradition. In other words, Scriptural Canon is, in the main, a tiny fragment of the source to which one must turn to know about God so that we may then now of God. For to know of something one must first know about it: all relationships begin by first knowing to what one is related and only then getting to know that thing. Then, in a kind of circular completeness, one then learns more about the “what” he or she now knows of. So Scriptural Canon is a snapshot of the durable Sacred Tradition made real in Bishops and their representatives at one, fleeting, early time in Christianity. While perhaps an entirely new formulation of native language for modern-day Protestants, it is a scholarly, historical truth nonetheless.

But the Roman Church, today known as the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the English attempts to distinguish them from the Roman churches within England, is not off the hook, for their issues are many and deep. Ironically, the motif I’m painting is already being framed by Anglicans, albeit in much softer language. The Most Reverend Frank Griswold of the Episcopal Church, USA has, perhaps inadvertently, noted the same thing when he wrote of God’s “living message”, and how “God continues to speak to us”. But it is much more politically palatable to speak of it this way rather than to speak the hard, historical truth; that it was the Protestant Reformation that was behind all the trouble in the first place and that the Roman churches, at least until their split with the English churches in 1538, got it right, or at least parts of it. Christianity is not about codification of law written in stone some 2,000 or more years ago. It is about the Word which comes to us, us being all of humanity in all time, incarnate and through a tradition that continues today. And, as we shall see in what follows, the Roman Church, in its attempts to hear that message, created an institutional system which was, by virtue of the folly of men, ultimately corrupt and that those same institutions were successfully reformed in England with a reformation that began around 1538 CE. All of this we shall examine and prove in what follows. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. There is something to be said for the ancient belief that Satan will lead the followers of Christ astray through false teachings and churches; for that is exactly what has happened by the creation of the red herring of Scriptural Canon, the virtual elimination of the broad study of Sacred Tradition over the centuries, and the current controversies over irrelevant facts and details in the modern ‘churches’. If one is damned for not taking Scripture as the sole source of authority and knowledge, then all Christians before the 3rd Century are necessarily damned since they had no Scripture over which to singularly obsess; to idolatrize.

What is a Bishop but a Fallible Man?As I progressed down this logical bunny trail this idea of a Bishopric being the durable tradition incarnate started to concern this deconverter inclined to favor the Protestant position. Thus, an explication of this finding is in order. What occurs at once in the logic of Jesus’ commission to the original twelve is that there is nothing in what he did, said or implied; and nothing in Tradition itself to do the same, that suggests that the gift of the Holy Spirit (the paraclete) to discern and teach is any different than any gift God gives to people; and there is nothing therein to imply that a gifted discerner and teacher, by virtue of that fact, is also an ecclesiastical authority. Thus we have tripped up on yet another red herring. The seven axioms make no implication regarding ecclesiastical authority and, as we shall see in what follows, tradition’s verdict is that they indeed have none, contrary to what the Roman Church would have us believe. The Apostolic Successors are discerners and teachers of that discernment when they promulgate doctrine. They are divinely gifted administrators of an Apostolic Commission, not authorities. So whether one follows that doctrine in heart and behavior is between them and God it would seem. Thus, one can respect Bishops in the same way they would respect the knowledge and discernment of a secular college professor but respect for the knowledge of the knowledgeable a dictator does not make. As one is told in the United States military “it is the Medal of Honor you salute, not the person wearing it”. Thus, no matter your rank, everyone salutes it, including the President. This is so important we feel this deserves re-stating. Perhaps in the past tradition did indeed suggest authority in the office of the bishopric, but, once we identify the modern-day incarnation of The Q we shall see that that tradition no longer prevails. We suspect that this earlier tradition of authority in the Bishopric began as a not uncommon human misunderstanding of what they were supposed to salute – or obey. They began to salute the man (earthly authority) and not the Holy Spirit (the medal). As it comes down to us in tradition, Jesus said, “keep your eyes on me” and don’t “put your trust in those things that don’t last”. So, not surprisingly, a tradition of representation by laity is what now prevails in tradition.

On the Meaning of Schism, Communion and Doctrine.To understand the historical facts for what they really are and thus follow The Q through time we must first look at the history of schism. What we are effectively doing is running a historical trace on the seventh axiom to locate which body of successors to the ‘body’ of Christos retains full communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, that is, the body of Bishops which is in fact The Q we seek. What we are attempting to do here is to trace the history of the Church to find those fragments of it that have done neither of the following:

1.)   Broken communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, The Q, as founded on the Rock of the Church, so named by Jesus as the Apostle Peter, by an explicit and stated assertion of the fact.

2.)   Broken communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, The Q, as founded on the Rock of the Church, so named by Jesus as the Apostle Peter, by altering doctrine or behavior that places the two portions of the body in an incongruous state of doctrine.

The foregoing was an operational definition and the following is a principled one: that a collection of two or more entities fully share in The Q is a condition both necessary and sufficient for establishing full “communion” between them [definition 3.0]. We will have more to say about what constitutes doctrine, and what kinds of doctrine are mutable over time. The issues of mutable vs. immutable doctrine, Sacred Tradition and the Deposit of Faith are some of the most misunderstood and distorted details of the Church. Thus we will be very careful to represent the Early Church’s true understanding of them at the immediate time preceding schism for each schism evaluated.

To the one who unilaterally alters doctrine or avers the option goes the title of Schismatic [see Note 1].

The flip-side of communion is the state of being excommunicated. It has the unsavory quality of ‘kicking an entity out’ of an organization. But there is a deeper meaning as well. When an entity excommunicates a sub-entity within itself it is equivalent to stating that “we are breaking communion with you”. But what is “you”? If entity A breaks communion with entity B, entity A is saying that there is something in the substance and being of B to which we no longer assert communion. For our purposes, the substance and being is simply that entity B is no longer, by virtue of it’s doctrine and/or beliefs, the Church of Jesus of Nazareth and The Q (or, if a person or movement, no longer ‘of’ the Church of Jesus of Nazareth).

Once we carefully examine what this term actually means it becomes clear that excommunication is a double-edged sword. It means much more than to just ‘kick someone out’. It means that we are stating that the opposing entity is not wholly of our substance. Put another way, we are saying that you do not belong to the same “body” that we do. So, when the Roman Church excommunicated the Eastern portions of itself, it was saying that the western portion is not of the same substance as the eastern portion. In other words, it was actually a declaration enhancing how the Roman Church defined itself, using the eastern portion as perspective.

We first examine the case in which entity A and B are doctrinally incongruous. When entity A excommunicates entity B, it is saying that its body of doctrine is distinct from the body of doctrine of entity B. Thus, if in turn, entity B excommunicates entity A, it conversely is saying that its body of doctrine is distinct from the body of doctrine of entity A. In the case of a doctrinal shift, this is clearly true and presents no controversy of fact. But on a deeper level, entity A is also saying that it is not of the same substance as entity B, and vice versa if B excommunicates A. But note that, in the excommunication, in and of itself, neither entity has proven that it is the substance of the Church of Jesus of Nazareth or The Q, only, possibly, that it is not the substance of the other and it has broken communion with the other substance.

The same is essentially true in the case where one entity, or both, do not explicitly excommunicate or anathematize the other but effect doctrine that is incongruous and un-reconciled (from hereon, we shall assume that incongruous implies un-reconciled by some later council or ecumenical doctrine unless otherwise stated). In this case, one or both entities has implicitly broken communion by stating, in deed, that their substance is not the same.

All of this seems rather unexciting so far. But the tricky part of understanding schism and broken communion occurs in the odd case where entity A excommunicates entity B, by word, deed or both, even though entity B has done nothing, in the technical-speak of word or deed, to break communion with A (recall how communion can be broken from above). In this case, entity A has stated that it is not of the same substance as B. But B is A! In other words, let us imagine for the moment, just suppose, that entity B, just prior to schism, is in full communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth; that is, it is The Q. If A excommunicates B, that is, if A breaks communion with B, A is breaking communion with The Q and is declaring that it is no longer of the same substance as the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

Here, “substance” is a general euphemism for The Q and doctrine is the practicable objectification of the Q, usually in the form of writing or a behavior/s material to such a writing status quo ante. By objectification we here simply mean “communicated” in some way, that is, shared with another person (if one possesses knowledge that no one else possesses, or commits an act of which no else could have knowledge, it is, by definition, subjective). The reason for the use of the term “practicable” shall become clear in what follows.

In the search for The Q, we must keep this in mind if we come across such a case. In such cases a church or sect is extracting nothing of greater purity in their substance because nothing occurred to distinguish the substance of what it excommunicated from itself; to wit, the excommunicator has committed Schism of Ex Nihilo. Strictly speaking, the excommunication is logically invalid and is in error because, at the moment of schism, nothing in the true substance of the two entities actually changed! However there is one disturbing consequence of Schism of Ex Nihilo. The excommunicator has effectively declared that, from thence forward, they have broken communion with the “body” of Christos, that they are no longer The Q, while affirming status quo for the excommunicated, that is, that the excommunicated has retained The Q and the excommunicator has surrendered it to them! I shall show in what follows that there is only one known case in the history of Christianity in which this condition has been satisfied.

Communion, by definition, is an active affirmation of the fact that two or more entities are congruent on all material matters of substance. Excommunication, by definition, is the negative affirmation of the same. The material matter of substance we are concerned with here is the valid authority of teaching and continued succession of the Holy Spirit passed to a church, the “body”, from Jesus of Nazareth himself through Apostolic Succession. Note that Apostolic Succession itself is insufficient to guarantee congruent substance (communion) but that communion guarantees Apostolic Succession. For these reasons, excommunication must be exercised with extreme care lest a church inadvertently aver, and surrender in deed by such denial, that its own general authority of Apostolic Succession from Jesus of Nazareth shall no longer pass in succession, or, that they are surrendering The Q to one of their constituent parts. This is the proximate danger illuminated by Schism of Ex Nihilo. In other words, in a church’s attempt to extract greater purity by excommunication they also risk inadvertently losing the purity of what they once were.

So, retention of valid communion is essential within the subset of churches that have an established Apostolic Succession because it is the only means by which one can differentiate the natures of the churches in that subgroup.

Finally, doctrine was and still is carefully defined by the Roman Church and we defer to those definitions when examining them in that context. However, we must also examine the logical consistency of any definitions we apply hence the reason for devising our own definition (definition 3) derived solely of formal logic. One rule we will apply to any specific doctrine is that it must be objectively defined. This may seem obvious since if it were not objectively defined (i.e. written down somewhere) how would we know what the doctrine is? In order for any institution or person to claim a doctrine they must provide it in the context in which it is requested. We feel this is a fair request.

Why place such a high bar on ‘doctrine’ as a basis for communion (beyond the obvious reasons already stated)? There are two reasons for this. First, doctrine amounts to a written or otherwise universally communicable means to state in objective clarity what the whole of the Church accepts as God’s revealed Word. Truths known by discernment, revelation or simply by the existence of a given condition; but outside doctrine do indeed amount to a non-doctrinal element of The Q. But these traditions are by their very nature subjective if not enunciated. A church in France may not follow the same traditions as a church in Rome even though both are doctrinally consonant simply because:

  1. The      respective Episcopates don’t know that a difference exists between them      because it isn’t communicated; i.e. written.
  2. There      exists no written record by      which to compare the respective states of the two bodies of the Christian      community and for all to see. Therefore there is no objective way to prove or disprove, to know, that two differing traditions exist. Even if there were      a written record, it must be proclaimed in such a manner that it can be      reasonably expected to be known to all other bodies within the larger      church in order to be practicably      objectified. Doctrine is just such a formal, practicable means of objectification. Outside doctrine, and as      we shall see, dogma and Canon, there is only subjective bickering and debate amongst the Apostolic heirs      regarding what God has, up to that time, chosen to reveal (a history of      the theological differences between The Most Reverend Saint James      Bishopric Jerusalem and the Most Reverend Saint Paul Bishopric Rome      provides an excellent example).

A simple way of saying both is that God’s revelations, on basically logical grounds, must be communicated somehow if we are to know what they are and whether or not God actually revealed it. To abandon this view means that we, as Christians, or Bishops acting unilaterally, are free to interpret everything on our own; rewriting Scripture and doctrine however we see fit. This point ties into the Protestant Straw Man discussion: For some, especially in this culture of separatism and division, it is tempting to object to any kind of conciliar process because a self-determined doctrine conveniently obviates the need to commend the conscience to something greater than oneself. This abhorrence for consensus appears most strongly in the modern evangelical and charismatic traditions. All of this is possible only if we adopt Sola Scriptura, ignoring the historically ineluctable existence of The Q, and allow for our own interpretations of Scriptural Canon unguided or constrained by anyone else because, after all, in the minds of the individualists no other authority to discern the Word exists. The Q becomes an inconvenient detail worthy of one’s ignorance. But The Q is the Word incarnate; and doctrine, dogma and Canon the Word incarnate validated as such. Hence we now more clearly see the conundrum the Protestants are facing. Only by consensus fidelium within The Q; i.e. consensus fidelium of Bishops and fugitive tradition as they accept or delegate, can the truth of God’s will, to the extent God infallibly desires us to know it, be discerned. This is logical and historical fact.

Second, Sacred Traditions and doctrines of the early Roman Church argue for the same conclusion we logically reached above (save for the fact that a Papacy denies conciliar Apostolic authority). Therefore, we are simply logically affirming that view here. That is, it is through a body of valid Apostolic legates who as our premises hold possess a unique authority to convey durable tradition and interpret or otherwise utilize fugitive tradition that humanity may come to know God’s Word. This body of legates, this Magisterium mustofficially averin writing or in some objectively observable communication its interpretations if ‘we’ are to know any portion of the Word and be the benefactors of God’s revelations to humanity. It is not ‘our’ place to directly interpret fugitive tradition. Other than the fact that a Papacy (or any material Apostolic hierarchy) is logically invalid, to the Roman adherent there should be nothing alarming in this conclusion. That legitimacy of non-consensus of Jesus’ successors follows from the statement that the Apostle Peter shall be the “rock and foundation” of the church with the power to “loose and bind” is a non sequitir. Indeed, this kind of Roman thinking about ecclesial authority is merely the ‘flip-side’ of the separatism and division mentality that permeates the Reformation ideas.

Imagine for the moment that you are transported back to the days of early Christianity to a point, say, where no Church doctrine or Scriptural Canon existed. Who is the ‘Magisterium’? In other words, by what authority are traditions established – objectified? Our only frame of reference is scholarly research (and Scriptural Canon) which tells us that the 12 Apostles appointed by Jesus must confer in Ecumenical Council to act as such guardians of tradition. If we can accept that as a fact without too much epistemological worry, then it follows that all doctrine is to be produced either by the Apostles or their designated legatees in Ecumenical Council [see Note 2]. We shall see in what follows that this is exactly what the Church did for a very long time. The point is that the default body entrusted to establish tradition can only be the rightful legatees of the Apostles in Ecumenical Council unless they themselves delegate it (we shall see in what follows that the Bishops of what is now The Q did indeed delegate some of this authority – to a representative episcopate). So, finally, we can conclude that durable Sacred Tradition is known to us only after a consensus of Bishops, through whatever conciliar process they devise, state that it is so. It is the precise points in history in which such delegations occurred, the nature and validity of these delegations, and the continuity of communion that we feel is currently poorly understood, the source of the current mass confusion in Christianity, and what is the focus of this essay. Keep this in mind. For those who fear in this conclusion the well known corruption of the power of the church (and these lauded Bishops), bear with us as we will address that in what follows.

Summary.We can identify the true, modern-day Church of Jesus of Nazareth that speaks with the authority of Jesus of Nazareth and retains The Q God has willed to exist on earth and at present by tracing the body (church) through which both Apostolic Succession and the continuity of communion have passed to their modern-day ecclesiastic form. And that is what we will now do.

  1. II.            A History of the Petrine Succession

We know that the so-called Roman Catholic Church (from hereon more accurately referred to as the Roman Church – we’ll see why) was presumed to be The Q as they manifestly began as such in antiquity, beginning with the Apostle Peter in Rome. The primary historical sources confirm the succession of bishops in Rome up to the present (but not necessarily all bishops). Therefore, and primarily because of the Petrine legacy, we will assume that it retains communion with The Q provided we cannot find an instance of Schism of Ex Nihilo at a later date. This we shall refer to as the Traditional presumption of Roman legitimacy.

The fact that the Roman Church descended directly from the See of the Apostle Peter in Rome gives the Church a unique standing in that any deviation from the obvious conclusion of their legitimacy as the Church of Jesus of Nazareth requires we show the special case of Schism of Ex Nihilo resulting in illegitimacy. All other schisms are just that, schisms and breaks in communion with The Q. Therefore, our examination should focus on eliminating the possibility of Schism of Ex Nihilo throughout known history. If we can eliminate any such instances we can show that the Roman Church is The Q.

We should also point out that here we will only consider those instances that might satisfy the conditions of broken communion defined in Part I. Therefore, we need not consider ‘schisms’ or ‘heresies’ that, ipso facto, constitute a severance of communion by a later recognized non-Roman entity. Examples would include any sect or ‘church’ that, not being an organic part of the early Roman Church, that is, the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, to begin with, constitutes itself de novo and starts a completely new movement. We need not consider such cases because it is manifest that the new movement is the substance that severed communion; the very act of constitution and/or institution of incongruous doctrine to justify constitution is an act of severance (specifically, it satisfies one of our aforementioned conditions for breaking communion). There were numerous such cases in the Church’s history including divers Gnostic movements, the Cathars, etc. As Jesus himself gave the charge to create his church, and subsequent doctrinal authority to it, we regard it as manifest that such breaks of communion constituted a rejection of his church because they rejected his vicars, the Apostles. In the first 400 years there was great volatility and diversity in this regard which we acknowledge but do not explicitly examine for the reasons noted. This does not mean that their ideas must necessarily be discarded wholesale. We will examine that point later.

The 3 Prevalent schools of theology circa 300 CE.

A. On the Schism with the Oriental Orthodox Church: The Petrine Succession’s First Denial of The Church of Jesus of Nazareth

The Nestorian context.Emperor Theodosius II convened an Ecumenical Council at Ephesus in 431. The purpose of this council was to resolve a theological dispute between an eastern patriarch named Nestorius and the See of Rome, Celestine I (traditionally the Pope) representing the position of the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, who first took note of Nestorius’ objectionable theological innovation. The innovation was that Mary, Mother of God, was the Christokos – mother of a Savior (who could not be a God) rather than being the Theotokos – mother of a God (who could also be a savior).

At this juncture, neither faction had severed communion since this was an Ecumenical Council established to resolve a contradiction in emergent Tradition and thus establish definitive doctrine on the question. The Council spoke (God spoke The Word – to use the correct euphemism here) and concluded that the Cyril – Celestine I Tradition was correct and that the Nestorian Tradition was not of God. The Council ordered Nestorius to recant or to be excommunicated. Nestorius refused; thus asserting doctrine by failure to rescind status quo ante doctrine and breaking communion. Theotokos was now established Ecumenically as doctrine.

The Assyrian Church of the East whose origins are unknown, accepted Nestorians into their church and the Nestorian sect was thus born de novo. The precise origins of the Assyrian Church of the East are presently indeterminate.

Assuming the origin most favorable to any possible claim to communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, that is, an Apostolic and communion nexus with those Roman Churches whose history is not known to us, we can show that the Assyrian Church of the East broke communion when they asserted communion with the Nestorians. Since the Roman Church did not, by word or deed, break communion with the Assyrian Church of the East, the Roman Church did not deny the Church of Jesus of Nazareth in this instance. Rather, the Assyrian Church of the East asserted communion with a body not of the substance of the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Oriental Orthodox Church.An Ecumenical Council was held in 451 at Chalcedon with all factions represented, including the Oriental Orthodox. The council affirmed the Tome of Pope Leo [see Note 4]. Oriental Orthodox representatives rejected it, claiming it was a kind of Nestorian belief, and rejected the Councils conclusion thus effecting doctrine incongruous with the doctrine of Pope Leo confirmed and established by the Council. This act constituted a severance of communion by the Oriental Orthodox between themselves and the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

Conclusion.The Nestorians implicitly broke communion by first altering doctrine (in their assertion that Mary was the Mother of Christ and not God) and the Roman Church retained communion with the substance of The Q. The Nestorians as a church however were derived de novo. Later, the Oriental Orthodox Church, by rejecting doctrine spoken by God through the Council of Chalcedon 451 CE broke communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore, the Roman Church retained the Traditional presumption of Roman legitimacy even though it broke communion with and denied its own self, that is, The Q.

  1. On the Schism with the Eastern Church: The Petrine Succession’s Second Denial of The Church of Jesus of Nazareth

After the Oriental Orthodox Church, which stopped attending the Councils after 451 CE, broke communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth in the piece described above we are left with a few remaining Ecumenical Councils to look at. Here we are looking for at what point did the attendance, agreement and compliance with Ecumenical Council findings falter or break apart.

The history of the schism between the eastern and western churches has long been understood as a schism that occurred, more or less, in 1054 CE. We shall show, however, that this view is incomplete and that the relevant divisions in the Church occurred throughout the interval [482 CE, 8 June 1439 CE]. The fact that ‘multiple’ schisms occurred, that is, that there were multiple cases of breaks in communion, both by decree and in incongruous doctrine, will require that we analyze the conditions in which communion is broken, re-established (if that is possible), and broken again over some number, n, of iterations.

[Strictly speaking, an entity B which breaks communion with entity A wherein A is, status quo ante, in full communion with the The Q, may recover communion with A, and thus The Q, by engaging in the following explicit doctrinal exercise: Entity B recovers communion with The Q by revoking all of its doctrine extant then immediately invoking all doctrine extant of A [definition 4.0], a process I shall denominate iterative communion. If, perhaps by the grace of A, A wishes to first modify its doctrine to make this process easier for B that would be legitimate. That would amount to an Ecumenical Council in which A holds all veto and voting power and B serves at most in an advisory role and again at the grace of A. As a final act of the Council, B then rewrites all its doctrine to conform to the Council’s doctrinal conclusions.]

Whether or not and to what degree communion can be re-established once broken is unclear and difficult to resolve. However, in the case of the history presented to us we shall see that a definitive finding is not necessary for our purposes. We know that indeed multiple breaks in communion occurred and that reunions of a sort were asserted by both sides. So, barring certainty regarding the validity of reunion, we consider the implications of two cases; to wit, the case in which reunion is invalid and the case in which it is. By reunion we mean a re-establishment of either full or partial communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

In the case in which reunion is not valid, that is, reunion is principally insufficient to establish communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, only the first case of a break in communion would be of concern to us since after that point the entity leaving the Church of Jesus of Nazareth could never, in principle, return to communion.

The first known doctrinal or creed-based breaks in communion happened in the closing hours of the Roman Empire. This is not surprising since that Empire had, by its nature, tended to maintain cultural unity throughout the East and West. In 482 CE the Byzantine Patriarch Acacius drew up an edict called the Henotikon (Greek for “Edict of Union”) by which he attempted to secure unity between orthodox Christians and monophysites. The Henotikon’s theological formula incorporated the decisions of the general Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) and recognized Christ’s divinity, but it omitted any reference to the orthodox distinction of Christ’s human and divine essences, as enunciated by the Council of Chalcedon (451), and in so doing made important concessions to the monophysites. By countermanding the Council of Chalcedon in which both Eastern and Western legates attended, voted and concurred, Acacius established by edict doctrine that was incongruous with the universally established doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon. The edict was correctly deemed inadmissible by Pope Felix III, Petrine successor in Rome and was not enforced in Western churches. However, the edict was enforced in Eastern churches and, consequently, Acacius and the Eastern churches broke communion with The Q. With regard to this set of events, Rome retained the Traditional presumption of Roman legitimacy. Pope Felix III excommunicated most or all of the Eastern Apostolic hierarchy and thus could not attain status under Schism of Ex Nihilo. In 519 CE the East and West experienced a reunion. We shall see in what follows that definition 4 has not, to date, been satisfied and the technical point of broken communion is then 482 CE whereby the eastern churches surrendered The Q to the western churches

However, if we assume that definition 4 might be satisfied at some point in the future then we need only show which entity broke communion first and last, as of the date of this writing. We will leave it as an exercise to the reader to lay out the logic behind why any and all intervening breaks in communion are immaterial to the outcome we are discussing. If A breaks first and B breaks last, B retains communion and vice versa. If A breaks first and A breaks last, then B retains communion and vice versa.

The last attempt at reunion occurred in a series of Councils leading to the Council at Florence. Continuing at Florence in January 1439, the Council made steady progress on a compromise to the filioque controversy by devising, “ex filio.” In the following months, agreement was reached on the Western doctrine of Purgatory and a return to the pre-schism perogatives of the Papacy. On 08 June 1439 an agreement was signed by Joasaph, the Patriarch of Constantinople and a simple majority of Eastern Bishops (all the Eastern bishops but one, Mark of Ephesus, who held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism.). Apparently, the Great Schism was over. However, after Joasaph of Constantinople died only two days later, the Greeks insisted that ratification by the Eastern Church could only be achieved by the agreement of an Eastern synod, thus reversing the findings of an Ecumenical Council. Upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their agreement with the West broadly rejected by the populace and by civil authorities (with the notable exception of the Emperors of the East who remained committed to union until the fall of the Byzantine Empire two decades later. The union signed at Florence, even down to the present, has never been accepted by the Eastern churches and definition 4, of iterative communion, does not here make.

Conclusion. The Eastern Church surrendered The Q in 482 CE and did not recover it by iterative communion. Also, they were the first and last to break communion by effecting doctrine incongruous with existing, universal (Catholic) Church doctrine.

Therefore, the Roman Church retained the Traditional presumption of Roman legitimacy even though it broke communion with and denied its own self, that is, the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

Can we identify a subset of churches within the Western churches, that is, The Q, which has since 482 CE to the present maintained this communion? The answer is, yes.

C. Other Denials

On the Protestant schism. Schisms between The Q with reformers included those of:

Martin Luther (Lutheran Church)

The Anabaptists

John Calvin and the Presbyterians

Conclusion.All of these, by our basic premises outlined above, never had communion with the Q as they were created de novo. All ‘mainstream’ denominations stem from one of these three ‘heresies’.

A Brief Word on the Papal Schism.The Papal Schism of the 14th Century is immaterial since the Papacy had not even been established in doctrine by that time – see notes at the end. This was a purely political wrangle that had no bearing whatever on the Apostolic Succession and communion issues we are here examining. Only if it had occurred after 1545 would it have had significance to the Roman Church’s communion with The Q.

Our timeline thus far has tracked us up to the 16th century since, until this time the Roman Church appears as The Q. The only event that could alter that would be a Schism of Ex Nihilo effected by the Roman Church. Recall that we can safely ignore, at least for now, the various Gnostic, new way sects that were flourishing and any other sect which derived its substance de novo or who denied the “body” vested in the Bishopric since such creations never had communion with the Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

D. Some Background on the Development of Universal Doctrine on Papal Authority: The Petrine Succession’s Third Denial of The Church of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Quinisext Council or Council in Trullo of 692 CE, one of the so-called Ecumenical Councils, was the first Ecumenical Council held in which not all churches were, at least in part, represented and, in fact, was attended only by Eastern churches. The next previous Ecumenical Council had representation of both Roman and Eastern churches. Arianism, Nestorianism, Monothelitism, and Monophysitism; all of which led to schisms previously, had been repudiated as doctrine in previous truly Ecumenical Councils. The key event at this unilateral Council was the renewal of Article 28 of the Council at Chalcedon. The important observation to make here, however, is that this was the first Council at which the Church’s ability to formulate universal doctrine was impaired because of unilateral attendance and voting.

The Universal Primacy of the Pope of the West was not only not established in doctrine (even though it was in fact a Tradition as Pope Leo reflected) but was, in fact, specifically denied as doctrine by and up to the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea of 787 CE which affirmed the doctrine (including Article 28 for equal primacy of Bishops) of the previous 6 councils. This, effectively, overrode the problems associated with the aforementioned Councils with regard to Article 28 since the Roman Churches, in 787 CE, witnessed, voted for and conceded to the doctrine. The effect of the Council of 787 CE was to affirm Article 28, a Council in full attendance by all Bishops of the Church of Jesus of Nazareth and therefore binding. God had spoken and the interpretation of Sacred Tradition of total Roman supremacy God did not yet accept.

In 1215 CE the Fourth Lateran Council moved closer to a doctrinal statement regarding the exact nature of the Papacy. The relevant quote is:

The Dignity of the Patriarchal Sees

Renewing the ancient privileges of the patriarchal sees, we decree, with the approval of this sacred universal synod, that after the Roman church, which through the Lord’s disposition has a primacy of ordinary power over all other churches inasmuch as it is the mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful, the church of Constantinople shall have the first place, the church of Alexandria the second place, the church of Antioch the third place, and the church of Jerusalem the fourth place, each maintaining its own rank. Thus after their pontiffs have received from the Roman pontiff the pallium, which is the sign of the fullness of the pontifical office, and have taken an oath of fidelity and obedience to him they may lawfully confer the pallium on their own suffragans, receiving from them for themselves canonical profession and for the Roman church the promise of obedience. They may have a standard of the Lord’s cross carried before them anywhere except in the city of Rome or wherever there is present the supreme pontiff or his legate wearing the insignia of the apostolic dignity. In all the provinces subject to their jurisdiction let appeal be made to them, when it is necessary, except for appeals made to the apostolic see, to which all must humbly defer.

The key phraseology here, invented to appease the Eastern churches who were adamantly opposed to Papal authority, was “inasmuch as it is the mother and mistress of all Christ’s faithful”. In other words, the Fourth Lateran Council simply established a ceremonial and honorary title to the Roman Bishop as the mother of the faithful. True ecclesiastical authority in doctrine this statement does not attain. Wording regarding an “oath of fidelity and obedience” and an apostolic see to which “…all must humbly defer” is a presumptive clause regarding reunification with the East (which ultimately failed). Therefore, by 1215 CE we still do not have a doctrine of Papal Authority over all the Church.

The next Council to directly address the issue of universal Ecclesiastic Papal authority did not come until the Council of Trent in 1545 when the matter was definitively resolved by a clear and complete statement.

Therefore the status and authority of the Pope in the Roman Church was first doctrinally defined (in fact, altered from its form given by the Ecumenical Councils) by The Catechism of the Council of Trent in 13 December, 1545. The status and authority of the pope in the Roman Church was first dogmatically defined by the First Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ (July 18, 1870).

We will have more to say on the differences between doctrine and dogma later. Quoting from the Catechism derived thereof: Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

It is of note that by 1545 with a doctrinal definition such as this in place it was no longer necessary to hold Ecumenical Councils to effect doctrine; in other words, The Cathechism of the Council of Trent represents the first true delegation of the authority of the Apostles granted to the legatees in toto.

A Summary of how God’s Truth was Revealed in the Church as of 1538 – Establishing a Definition for Communion with the Roman Churches. It is important to recap these extremely important conclusions as their implications are enormous. First, Sacred Tradition, alongside Scripture, is a fountainhead by which God reveals his Truths to Humankind. Sacred Tradition is a sort of nebulous constellation of Christian experience since the time of Jesus of Nazareth; including but not limited to, natural events such as disasters and miracles, political events, wars, persecutions, unofficial Bulls issued by Popes, other church documents, historical events within the Church, the presumption, in behavior and raison d etre, of the universal authority of the Roman Pontiff, etc. The list can be, in all reality, anything God chooses as a communicative media. For these reasons, Sacred Tradition is always in flux and subject to an evolutionary course not necessarily controlled by the Church or Humankind. It can constitute just about anything, including the Lollardy movement or the granting to the King of England the title of “Defender of the Faith” by a Roman Pope. Anything.

What we are trying to resolve here is, in the context of Holy communion and Apostolic Succession, how was God speaking to the Church and what can we infer about the Will of God through his Church? Did God intend that the Papacy continue or was it God’s intention that the Papacy be temporary; implying that God would at some later time reveal to us the new path, the next stage, he sought for His Church? Note that this does not in any way say that God ‘changed his mind’, only that a new phase, a new season, in his plan for the Church is what we are considering. And we do so by turning to the Church itself, as duly delegated with that authority, to answer this question for us.

Doctrine, by its nature, implies perpetuity to the extent that it isn’t or can’t be revoked at some later date; something I shall from hereon refer to as doctrinal perpetuity to denote the fact that we are not claiming that it can’t change only that change to it would require an explicitly doctrinal act itself.

Conversely, Sacred Tradition does not, in and of itself, aver general perpetuity. Indeed, Sacred Tradition, by its nature, implies revelation in time which is interpreted by the Magisterium by an examination of possibly disparate facts drawn from possibly disparate sources, rather than a static, atomic set of transmogrified principles fixed in one moment. Prior to 1545 God had not communicated to the Church that He wanted the Church ruled this way in doctrinal perpetuity. That is what the date of official codification in doctrine tells us. It was the crucial time of delegation of doctrine-making authority aforementioned.

We pose our question this way not because of the uncontested fact that the authority vested in the succession of the Apostle Peter was a practiced and accepted norm in Sacred Tradition all the way back to the contemporaries of the Apostle Peter himself. Rather, what is curious, and what makes us raise this question, is that it took so long for the doctrinal perpetuity of the universal authority of the Pope to appear.

From Sacred Tradition the Church’s ‘Magisterium’, at its divine discretion, may derive specific, defined doctrines and modify them over time [see Note 5]. The Magisterium interprets some of these events and ideas that make up the Sacred Tradition and decides what to establish as objectively defined axioms of universal adherence. Once these derivations are written down and communicated they are known as doctrine. Only then has God spoken on earth to the matter at hand. If a Magisterium, or any body of the Church including the legatees of the Apostles, is required to interpret Sacred Tradition then it is a necessary consequence that the Sacred Tradition is the medium and not the doctrine which is the message. This is perhaps the most oft-overlooked fact in the history of Christianity. Because of the nebulous nature of Sacred Tradition one obviously cannot ‘require adherence’ to it. That is logically absurd. But more importantly, Sacred Tradition, ipso facto, is inherently mutable; a moving target.

Therefore, the question we addressed here was when exactly did the Pope’s doctrinal authority over and above the authority of other Roman Bishops begin. More specifically, when did the Pope’s status amongst the Apostolic successors as a teacher and conveying entity of the Holy Spirit extend beyond being a “first amongst equals”? It is clear in tradition that he was a first amongst equals by virtue of Peter’s favored status, but that is not the same thing as saying that his status trumps the conciliar Apostolic process. This is crucial because that is the only thing the King of England, or more formally, the British Parliament, denied. In order to be, by definition, a denial, the thing denied must exist. Since the Pope’s unilateral authority to establish doctrine did not become doctrine until 1545 and the Roman Church ‘left’ the English Church in 1538, there is no denial. As it turns out, the Popes presumed authority existed only in the so-called Sacred Tradition in 1538 and it therefore does not follow that the King defied God’s Will. Said another way, a first amongst equals can only challenge the ecclesiastical independence of English churches by a consensus of Apostolic successors, i.e. an Ecumenical Council. That is the Roman doctrine, regardless of tradition, that existed in 1538. The record couldn’t be any clearer. It is the same snafu that bogged the Eastern and Western churches down in dispute several hundred years earlier. The Pope, realizing this, quickly moved to eradicate this problem in 1545 when he called the Council of Trent, a day late and a dollar short.

The Catholic Study Bible, New American Bible provides support for the view that, at least after Vatican II, the so-called Roman Church viewed church tradition and Scripture as being fountainheads of Gods Word, both equally acting as a means of communication. This was, perhaps with lesser clarity, the view in the 16th century as well.

There are numerous examples of doctrinal change over time in the Roman Church, too numerous to go into here, but the important thing to understand is that the term ‘doctrine’ is synonymous with the Cathechism of the Roman Church (which has indeed changed over time). Dogma, however, is much more resistant to change (if it can change at all) and is a specific subset of the Catechism.

The status and authority of the pope in the Roman Church was first doctrinally defined by The Catechism of the Council of Trent on 13 December, 1545. The only definitive public statement of the Church regarding the matter prior to that was the Unam Sanctum Bull issued in 1305. But this Bull was an unofficial document not establishing doctrine [see Note 6]. Quoting from the Catechism derived of Trent: Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father hath made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair.

And, additionally, the status and authority of the pope in the Roman Church was first dogmatically defined by the First Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution of the Church of Christ (July 18, 1870).

The authority of the pope in the Roman Church prior to 1545 was defined only in Sacred Tradition, of which Unam Sanctum was a part, a body of historical Christian experience perpetually subject to change, dynamic, debatable and always in flux. Change in Sacred Tradition, by its nature, is also subject to the whims of nature and history outside human control. Sacred Tradition is the Christian experience, in toto, containing parts not necessarily codified in doctrine (including the widely accepted rule of the Roman Church by the Roman Pontiff prior to 1545 – a tacit acceptance that existed since the Apostle Peter took his seat in Rome).

What really happened in England? In about 1530 a foreign family and enemy of England, the Aragons, asserted illegal jurisdiction in England through its Roman churches there. This intentional act was accomplished through the infamous Sack of Rome in May of 1527 in which Charles of Aragon placed the Pope under arrest. King Henry VIII, regnant ruler of England, realizing this may be a part of a larger plan to aid the Spanish in their war with England, countermanded the illegal jurisdiction by asserting jurisdiction over these churches himself since the Pope was unable to wrest jurisdiction of the churches from the Aragon family as he was under their duress. This action has no objection in valid Apostolic and communion matters since doctrine establishing the Popes authority over the Bishops in England did not presently exist. In terms of The Q, this was an earthly event having no bearing whatever on issues of Communion or valid Apostolic Succession. The annulment attempts between King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon were, and still are, an unfortunate red herring. Put another way, a Bishop can sin or make mistakes but that does not make his status as a Bishop invalid. If Bishops comply with a civil authority on an issue resulting from a civil authority’s mistakes but that does not violate doctrine, there is nothing in that of material issue to communion; i.e. it is a red herring [see Note 7].

In the summer of 1529 a manuscript was compiled from ancient sources proving in Canon law that spiritual supremacy rested with the monarch and that Papal authority was illegal. In 1531 King Henry first challenged the Pope when he demanded 100,000 pounds from the clergy in exchange for a royal pardon for their illegal jurisdiction, and that he should be recognized as their sole protector and supreme head. Henry VIII was recognized by the clergy as supreme head of the Church of England on February 11, 1531, however in 1532 he was still attempting to seek a compromise with the Pope.

In May 1532 the Church of England agreed to surrender their legislative independence and canon law to the authority of the monarch. In 1533 the Statute of Appeals removed the right of the English clergy and laity to appeal to Rome on matters of matrimony, tithes and oblations, and gave authority over such matters to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. King Henry VIII was excommunicated by Pope Clement VII in 1533.

In 1534 the Act of Submission of the Clergy removed the right of all appeals to Rome, effectively ending the Pope’s influence. For their part, the British Parliament ‘confirmed’ King Henry by statute as Supreme Head of the Church of England by the first Act of Supremacy in 1536. Was King Henry usurping the authority of Jesus of Nazareth conveyed in Apostolic Succession to the Bishops from them to himself, and moreover invoking himself as a ‘Pope’, thus extending his authority beyond a “first amongst equals” without an Ecumenical Council by this Act of Parliament? That is a great question and yet another red herring deftly employed by Roman Church later to slander The Q and it deserves full treatment. Perhaps that is exactly what King Henry VIII, via Parliament, was trying to do, but it is not material to the issue at hand. The issue at hand is did any of the English Bishops, either directly or by doctrinal delegation to another body, issue or create doctrine called an “Act of Supremacy”. The answer is no. Put simply and by definition 2, a third party cannot, by their action or inaction, break communion between two other entities. The Parliament declared him “Supreme Head”, not the English churches. It’s The Q, stupid. This Act was passed by a civil authority which can pass or say whatever it wants. The United States Congress can pass a law that says that the President of the United States is the “Supreme Head” of the “Roman Catholic Church”, but ‘Pope George Bush’ an Act of Congress does not make. It is only material to this discussion if the Roman Catholic Church in the United States (and by comparison, if the Roman Church in England) did so [see Note 12], a schismatic act indeed, because the Bishops in communion with The Q have not yet delegated, either as a form of fugitive or durable tradition, the authority of Bishops to the U.S. Congress (or the British Parliament). Such a delegation in tradition would then make the third party a communion issue to the matter. Because this was an Act passed by Parliament, not a proclamation of the King, the King and Parliament were acting in their capacity as a civil authority and the Pope had already excommunicated the King besides. No Ecumenical Council had yet delegated doctrinal-making authority to non-communicant members of the churches in England or elsewhere (that is, a fugitive tradition with doctrinal-making authority) and even if they had, as the Anglicans did in fact claim in their argument of the supremacy of the Monarchy, the issue is settled all the same: If the Anglican position was correct the King already was the supreme Head of the Church. So much for simplistic Roman apologetics.

As stated above, King Henry VIII did not place the doctrine of the churches in England in an incongruous state with the doctrines of the Roman Church, either by act or proclamation.

King Henry VIII did not Place the Doctrine of the Churches in England in an Incongruous State with the Doctrine of the Roman Church, Either by Act or Proclamation. King Henry VIII was an ardent supporter of the Roman Church. At the time of schism with England, the churches in England were not protestant in nature. King Henry VIII himself had been awarded the title of fidei defensor (defender of the faith) on October 17, 1521 by Pope Leo X for attacking such views; an important Roman imprimatur of the King’s allegiance to Roman doctrine. He maintained all of the Roman doctrines in full and unchanged for the remainder of his life. Doctrine was not modified for the English churches until after the Roman Church broke communion and surrendered The Q.

The Roman churches outside English secular jurisdiction unilaterally broke communion with all Communicant members of the Roman churches under secular English jurisdiction in December, 1538 (Bull issued by Pope Paul III effecting interdict and excommunication). There it is. Schism of Ex Nihilo. The correct response would have been to hold an Ecumenical Council to resolve the issue of Papal authority in doctrine before Pope Paul’s excommunication Bull, which the Roman Church belatedly did at the Council of Trent, which convened after they surrendered The Q to the English churches.

Protestant influences were introduced after the death of King Henry VIII – partly by Cranmer – and after the Episcopates outside England broke communion with the Episcopates within England. Indeed, King Henry VIII reaffirmed that, at least on part of the Episcopates within England, they were still in communion with the Episcopates outside England. This communion has never been broken by the English Episcopates, the Church of England or the Anglican Communion. Use of the term “Roman Church” was first used by the English, who were the progenitors of that common name still used today, to distinguish the Episcopates outside England from those within it.

King Henry VIII strongly believing in the full doctrines and Catechism of the Roman Church issued the following statement: [see Note 8]

“You suppose . . . the King’s grace to be swerved from the unity of Christ’s Church, and that … he intendeth to separate his Church of England from the unity of the whole body of Christendom . . . wherein surely both you and all others so thinking of him do err. . . . His full purpose and intent is … not to separate himself or his realm any wise from the unity of Christ’s Catholic Church, but inviolably, at all times, to keep and observe the same.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer reiterated the position of the churches in England by issuing a similar statement in 1556:

As touching my doctrine, it was never in my mind to teach contrary to the word of God and the Catholic Church of Christ according to the exposition of the most holy and learned fathers and martyrs. I only mean and judge as they have meant and judged. I may err, but heretic I cannot be, inasmuch as I am ready to follow the judgment of the word of God and of the Holy Catholic Church, using the words that they used, and none other, and keeping their interpretation.

Sentiments such as these were repeated over and over by both secular officials and English Bishops. It follows then from primary sources that our 2 conditions for communion hold:

  1. The King, Parliament and the Church of England, for their part, did not effect incongruity in doctrine.
  2. The King, Parliament and the Church of England, for their part, did not pronounce a break in communion but indeed re-affirmed it.

Finally, primary sources further prove that the Bishops of England who held their Bishopric after and were consecrated before the Roman Church left the Communion were consecrated using valid Roman Holy Orders, that is, they were consecrated in accordance with Roman doctrine.

The conditions of Schism of Ex Nihilo were satisfied and the Roman Church surrendered its commission to speak as Vicar of Christ and to confer the Holy Spirit by a “laying on of hands” to its rightful heir, The Q, that is, the Church of England. I could find no other example of Schism of Ex Nihilo in the history of Christianity.

All consecrations descending from the separation-era Bishops were subject to the Holy Orders issued by the Communion, that is, The Q, that is, The Church of England. If so issued they are, by definition, valid. This sheds light on, and in this author’s estimation, settles a long dispute between the Roman and English churches regarding the validity of Holy Orders [see Note 9].

Timeline of communion:

1533 – King Henry VIII and the English Parliament assert ultimate authority from a compromised institution in Rome for which no doctrinal basis existed, thereby becoming a natural change in Sacred Tradition while causing no change whatever in doctrine.

1538 – The Roman Church unilaterally breaks communion with English churches and leave the Communion, that is, the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, that is, The Q.

1545 – Roman Pontiff receives first doctrinal authority over Roman churches in what has, by that time, become a heretical church. All doctrine, Holy Orders, Bulls and other proclamations issued by The Roman Church no longer attain their prior fidelity in truth.

1553 – The first change or addition to doctrine ever effected by the English churches occurs with the ruling by King Edward VI to establish the 42 Articles of Religion.

1870 – Roman Pontiffs authority is ‘reaffirmed’ by dogma [see Note 10]

Summary.The body of Jesus of Nazareth, the Word incarnate, was denied three times by the Petrine line of his Church:

  1. The      Oriental Church, being in their substance extant portions of the Church of      Jesus of Nazareth, developed Tradition, which they codified in doctrine,      incongruent with the remainder of the Church (The Roman Church), broke      communion by deed with the Roman Church first, and thus denied      (once) the authority of Jesus of Nazareth. By stating in the severance of      communion that they are of a different substance than the Church of Jesus      of Nazareth, they eliminated any risk to the Roman Church of Schism of Ex Nihilo and      inadvertently affirmed that the Roman Church was the Church of Jesus of      Nazareth. The Roman Church responded by breaking communion afterward, thus denying the      authority of Jesus of Nazareth to the extent vested in the Oriental Church      that it once contained in its substance.
  2. The      Eastern Church, being in their substance extant portions of the Church of      Jesus of Nazareth, developed Tradition, which they codified in doctrine,      incongruent with the remainder of the Church (The Roman Church), broke      communion by deed with the Roman Church first, and thus denied      (twice) the authority of Jesus of Nazareth. By stating in the severance of      communion that they are of a different substance than the Church of Jesus      of Nazareth, they eliminated any risk to the Roman Church of Schism of Ex Nihilo and      inadvertently affirmed that the Roman Church was the Church of Jesus of      Nazareth. The Roman Church responded by breaking communion afterward, thus denying the      authority of Jesus of Nazareth to the extent vested in the Eastern Church      that it once contained in its substance.
  3. The      Roman Church, being in their substance extant portions of the Church of      Jesus of Nazareth, broke communion by explicit decree with English      churches first, and thus denied (thrice) the authority of      Jesus of Nazareth. By stating in the severance of communion that they are      of a different substance than the Church of Jesus of Nazareth, they      eliminated any risk to the Church of England of Schism of Ex Nihilo and inadvertently affirmed that the Church      of England was the Church of Jesus of Nazareth. The Church of England      responded by affirming communion afterward,      thus affirming the authority of Jesus of Nazareth to the extent vested in      the Roman Church that it once contained in its substance. By affirming communion and not      breaking it afterward, the Church of England and by extension the Anglican      Communion, did not deny the      authority of Jesus of Nazareth to the extent vested in the Roman Church.      This had the result of making the Anglican Communion the sole heir of The Q, inherited by the Church of      England and the Anglican Communion and all its Provinces.

We know the Petrine (and consequently Roman) denials of the Church of Jesus of Nazareth are limited to exactly 3 because all other schisms and heresies were formed de novo, that is, of being heresies created not of the original ‘body’ of the Church but of a whole new creation. Such an act, logically, makes no claim to retaining the authority of Jesus of Nazareth through Apostolic Succession. The reader may note an odd feature of the “third denial” and schism of Ex Nihilo. It’s tricky. One might wonder if this was Providence. There is much tradition that suggests that many more will be led astray than will retain communion. Yet more Providence might be found in the fact that the Church of England reaffirmed its communion with the Roman Church after the Roman Church broke it. What does this mean, exactly? We will reserve comment, but it’s almost like God was holding out for Peter. Resolution of this question would require an analysis of whether or not that reaffirmation was doctrinal or otherwise a non-doctrinal part of The Q. I will leave that as an exercise for the Magisterium of the “Roman Catholic Church”. What is our opinion? We suspect that communion will be re-established in the distant future and that spirituality will once again become important to humanity, but with a decidedly different message than what is recorded in the current Scriptural Canon. The historical events constituting in part God’s Revelation regarding the dramatic changes we saw occur in the 16th century and afterward occurred in what was called the Lollardy movement and other ideas borrowed from the reformation theology of the time [see Note 11]. Given what we’ve alluded to in this work, it is now clear that perhaps, and we do mean perhaps, God was trying to tell us that Jesus was not so much the story of a person but of a Church, The Q. And somewhere in our collective tradition we are informed that Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus exactly three times. Perhaps the entire story of Jesus’ life is really about The Q, the Word incarnate, not the man Jesus. Hence John the Baptists’ parallel between the Word and Jesus. And the crescendo of Ravels’ Bolero grows stronger.

E. Conclusion

King Henry’s Actions Were a Singular Fulfillment of a Revelation in Tradition.By virtue of standing doctrine the proper action for the Pope to have taken in 1538, rather than issuing Bulls of excommunication, would have been to hold or call for an Ecumenical Council. As we’ve evidenced in this work, King Henry VIII was, at least for his part, trying to hold a dialogue and to compromise.

Simply waiting for, or advancing the timetable of, the Council of Trent and inviting all English Bishops would have been a better course more in line with the doctrinally weak position of the Pope. As it stood, the Pope inadvertently broke himself and his own church away from the Church of Jesus of Nazareth by declaring broken communion between two entities that were in actuality the same substance; the same thing. There was nothing to break away from except the Church of Jesus of Nazareth itself.

It is this author’s opinion that the Pope was well aware of the Church’s history and after such a long struggle for universal acceptance of Papal authority (frustrated for some 1,000 years by the Eastern Orthodox Churches) had no stomach for going through the same thing again with English churches. He rather broke communion straight away and proceeded immediately in the Council of Trent to establish genuine Papal authority in doctrine. Unhindered by those annoying Bishops of balance and conscience, the Pope was able to finally establish in doctrine what Western churches, especially those in Rome, had dreamed of in Tradition for centuries. But it happened only at the cost of breaking communion with The Q.

In a curious twist of history the same kind of thing is happening today with the Anglican Communion and her provinces in the United States and Canada.

The Roman Church believes that the Anglican church’s ordinations are invalid because of changes made to the rite of ordination (Holy Orders) under Edward VI, thus denying that Anglicans participate in the apostolic succession.

The problem with this objection is that King Edward VI did not attain until 28 January, 1547, long after the Roman Church broke communion with and left The Q. All doctrinal changes made “by man” after that fact were under the auspices of The Q, that is, the Church of England, and subject to change. Therefore, doctrinal objections of the “Roman Church” are null for all purposes after communion was broken, that is, after they left the Church, by Pope Clement VII in 1533.

Unfortunately, this is thus far the only objection I’ve been able to find from Roman Apologetics. I welcome more if and when they are made available. That Papal authority was not made doctrinal until after 1538 appears to be a well-accepted fact in the Roman theological discourse.

Anglican Doctrine Since the Schism. As far as doctrine that was eventually adopted by the Church of England, the only such doctrine was the 42 Articles of Religion. But this adoption of doctrine occurred, of course, after the Roman Church surrendered The Q. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, which followed the 42 Articles of Religion, are the historic defining statements of Anglican doctrine.

The 39 Articles of Religion were established by Convocation of the Church in 1563, under the direction of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, using as a basis the Forty-Two Articles written under the direction of Thomas Cranmer in 1552 and enacted under Edward VI in 1553. Adherence to them was made a legal requirement by parliament in 1571.

Since the Roman Church surrendered The Q to the English churches the Anglican Communion, that is, The Q has evolved as God has spoken through it over time. Most notably, God spoke to the Bishops very clearly and through devices such as Cranmer and Hooker and revealed that at least one crucial theological element of the Protestant reformation was his will to be done. First, God has revealed that The Q must rely on other fugitive media of Sacred Tradition to hear his voice in greater fidelity. Consequently an episcopate with a tradition of representative governance has emerged to replace the corrupt and problematic institutions of the earlier Roman churches. Now, lay persons are, as God has willed it, active participants in the objectification of tradition and there is no indication that lay persons of the past are not also included in that reformation. That, in turn, opens all the diverse interpretations of Jesus’ message in the early centuries open to discussion and debate; including the Gnostics, the Essenes, the Ebionites, the Docetists and others. God’s message is indeed a living, breathing message in which greater truth is revealed to us in an ecclesiastical form much more representative and diverse in its voice. Jumping forward we see today the cultural impurities apparent in the tradition snapshot of Scriptural Canon are being revised by the love and Grace of God: women are being positioned as spiritual equals to men, thus discarding the erroneous, culturally tainted prior assumption that if women are culturally unequal they are also spiritually unequal. Homosexuality is being illuminated by God as we speak and it is apparent that God has something powerful to say about it; probably something similar to what he has said about women and spirituality.

On Conciliar Apostolic Ecclesia and Discipline by Consensus of the Christian Community.This is why I advised the reader wary of the corruptions of power in the earlier Roman churches not to be too disturbed by the authority God has vested in his Bishopric. Rather, we should be patient and listen to what God is telling us. There is a time and a season for all things. He is calling us to be patient by waiting for a consensus of tradition rather than invoking our own interpretations of what is infallibly revealed. While the Anglican tradition holds that all believers may hold their own beliefs, we must be patient in waiting for those objective traditions which we know God wills us to possess. It is not a matter of the infallibility of the Church, but a matter of what God has willed us to know in this time, in this season. As his Church we are called to hear God together and not apart. God is speaking to us through both a durable and a fugitive, changing media that begs our attention. God is now speaking from all directions and we should listen; something wonderful is happening.

The Final, and Most Important Take-Away from this History.What finally occurred to me after studying the history of religion and Christianity, which follows wholly from the findings provided in this paper, is that:

Christianity is a religion of inspired, provident change; change by a well-defined process that Jesus of Nazareth himself instituted initially with the Apostle Peter at Rome.

But what does all this now mean? We can finally come full circle and explain why the forgeries regarding papal authority prior to the RCC losing communion with the so-called Church of Jesus of Nazareth have implications for all of Christianity. Recalling our discussion of Sola Scriptura, the so-called Sacred Tradition is a necessary component of the Christian faith, whether one wants to admit it or not. It is a logical fact. But if that tradition was based in part on forgeries, then the nature of that religion is fraudulent and we can examine the nature of the forgery fraud to understand the nature of the religious fraud overall. That is what we address in the forgery section supra.

Other related logical fallacies:

  1. I’m never wrong

Studies also show conclusively that if a credentialed professional provides an answer to a question posed in their bailiwick people will tend to agree with that person’s conclusion. But when told the conclusion was wrong, they tend not to reverse. Rather, they continue adhering to the wrong belief. This is the basis of decompression seeding, described in a section infra. In decompression seeding accounts and narratives of fact, history and/or reality are proposed that are cleary or potentially false to the adherent by appeals to authorities who are experts on the subject at hand.

The accomplished deconverter will not express their opinion on the matter at this point. Because it involves an appeal to authority, the topic discussed must be completely independent of religion, or seemingly so, since appeals to authority on religious matters will likely backfire.

And the idea with the narrative, which is often a conspirarcy theory, is to plant a seed of doubt from a secular narrative that has implications for a religious counter apologetic point of contention that the deconverter needs to address with the adherent in order to advance the deconversion. Usually, due to its potential complexity, the decompression seeding technique is used only for the most resistant objections the deconverter wants to dislodge. And for the same reason, these decompression seeds should be developed in advance as a library of conspiracy theories or dubious narratives each of which being a secular conclusion that has implications for a specific counter apologetic that is commonly encountered.

An excellent example is the case of the historicity of Jesus. Adherents obviously will have a hard time accepting any suggestion that the Synoptics cannot be traced back to the actual time of Jesus’ life, or that Nazareth did not exist in that time, or that forgery might have been occurring on a mass scale. But by convincingly challenging, say, the chronology of history as a whole, which might suggest indirectly that Jesus could not have lived during the time claimed, a seed of doubt resistant to removal due to what academics call belief persistence is implanted. When the adherent researches the subject later and is thence convinced that it is completely bogus, the seed of doubt is resistant to removal. In the case of chronology, an accomplished mathematician has studied celestial data and performed rather convincing calculations that appear to show that the Scaligarian chronology is completely incorrect. He went on to demonstrate how dating techniques were misleading researchers. Because of this mathematician’s credentials, the argument has force in the fugitive sense. But once the adherent finds out that the proponent was A.T. Fomenko, someone whose theories of history have all been challenged vociferously, it is too late. The seed is planted. The propaganda is laid. It really works.

  1. Low Balling

This technique is also called the “foot in the door” technique because it is used by sales persons. Basically, you get the adherent (either in the role of deconverter or religious exploiter) to agree to a small concession or to pay a small price up front in order to gain compliance on a more costly demand made shortly thereafter. Studies have shown that the percentage of person’s offering compliance to costly demands increases significantly by using this technique. The improvement in getting compliance with this technique is about twice what it is without securing a smaller commitment up front.

The accomplished deconverter will learn how to use this technique when the adherent is resistant to considering a particular sub topic or question the deconverter has posed, to include using it to convince the adherent to intiate the deconversion session (adherents are resistant to this for the reasons mentioned supra; i.e. the decompression prayer discussion). The adherent will often provide real or perceived costs they must bear in discussing the forbidden topic. This should be set up using the technique of gaining compliance on a smaller cost before gaining compliance on the larger, full cost.

The deconverter should get the adherent to agree to discuss a peripheral but very similar sub topic to the one which the adherent is averting. This process should be repeated several times. In each case, a small bit of information regarding the verboten topic is gathered and many sub topics are covered until finally, a complete picture of the averted topic can be had.

Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86

DOI 10.1007/s11153-007-9141-x

Can religious arguments persuade?

Jennifer Faust

Received: 28 March 2007 / Accepted: 26 June 2007 / Published online: 3 August 2007

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Abstract In his famous essay “The Ethics of Belief,” William K. Clifford claimed “it is

wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

(Clifford’s essay was originally published in Contemporary Review in 1877; it is presently

in print in Madigan (1999)). One might claim that a corollary to Clifford’s Law is that it

is wrong, always, everywhere, and for anyone, to withhold belief when faced with sufficient

evidence. Seeming to operate on this principle, many religious philosophers—from St.

Anselm to Alvin Plantinga—have claimed that non-believers are psychologically or cognitively

deficient if they refuse to believe in the existence of God, when presented with evidence

for His existence in the form of relevant experience or religious arguments that are prima

facie unassailable. Similarly, many atheists fail to see howbelievers can confront the problem

of evil and still assert their belief in a benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient Creator. In

this paper, I propose to explain why religious arguments so often fail to persuade (I take the

term ‘religious argument’ to include arguments whose conclusions are either assertions or

denials of religious claims). In doing so, I first offer an account of persuasion and then apply

it to religious arguments. I go on to argue that at least some religious arguments commit a

form of question-begging, which I call “begging the doxastic question.” An argument begs

the doxastic question, on my account, when a subject would find the argument persuasive

only if she antecedently believes the argument’s conclusion. This form of question begging

is not, strictly speaking, a case of circularity and thus, is not a fallacy; rather, it would explain

why one coming to the argument would fail to be persuaded by it unless he already accepted

its conclusion. This has the effect, when applied to religious argumentation, that religious

arguments are rarely persuasive, which raises the further question: what good are religious

arguments? I end by suggesting some non-persuasive functions of religious argument. Finally,

I suggest that a full understanding of religious argumentation should give evidentialists pause,

for religious beliefs look less like belief states that are sensitive to evidentiary states andmore

like framework principles or fundamental commitments.

J. Faust (B)

Philosophy Department, California State University, Los Angeles,

5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA

e-mail: jfaust@calstatela.edu

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72 Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86

Keywords Ethics of belief · Religious argument · Persuasion · Question-begging · Evidentialism

Introduction

It is a well-noted fact that religious arguments, whether aimed at establishing religious belief

or undermining it, are rather doxastically inert; that is, few are talked into (or out of) religious

belief on the basis of arguments.1 This feature of religious argument seems to raise a

dilemma for proponents of such arguments. On the one hand, few if any nonbelievers are

convinced of the truth of religious doctrines (and thus converted) on the force of religious

arguments. So it would seem that religious arguments are not sufficiently effective tools for

persuading nonbelievers to believe. Indeed, I will argue below that at least for many nonbelievers,

religious arguments often cannot be rationally persuasive, for such arguments will

beg the question for that audience. On the other hand, religious arguments seem beside the

point for those who already believe; that is, a religious believer is one who already assents

to religious tenets and thus one who will not need to be persuaded of their truth. So it would

seem that religious arguments are not necessary for persuading believers to believe. If this

is so, then religious arguments are neither necessary nor sufficient for producing religious

belief. And yet, the history of at least some (particularly monotheistic) religions is rife with

examples of religious arguments that seem, on the face of them, to be aimed at persuading the

argument’s audience of the truth of their conclusions. Should we conclude that theologians

have long wasted their time in formulating religious arguments? Or should we perhaps ask

what purpose, other than persuasion, religious arguments might serve?

In this paper, I aim to address this quandary, both by explaining why religious arguments

are so often doxastically inert and by arguing that nonetheless, religious arguments serve

several useful functions other than persuasion. But before moving to my own arguments, I

want to contrast my view with a view that is prevalent in both Christian theist and atheist

circles. On this view, if a person is not persuaded by a religious argument—that is, if he does

not give up his religious belief or come to have a religious belief that he did not have prior

to hearing the argument—he is irrational. Theistic proponents of this view seem to think that

nonbelievers who are not converted by religious arguments are somehow psychologically or

cognitively defective.2 St.Anselm famously took this line in the Proslogion when he declared

“Truly there is a God, although the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”3 As Richard

Taylor illustrates in commentary, Anselm understands the ontological argument’s force in

terms which place the fault for any failure of persuasion squarely on the person whom the

argument fails to persuade.

1 Gilson(1969, p.174), for example, declared that “the prospect of looking for proofs of something I feel so

sure of appears to me a waste of time.” Baillie(1959, p.132) noted even more strongly, “We are rejecting

logical argument of any kind as the first chapter of our theology or as representing the process by which God

comes to be known. We are holding that our knowledge of God rests rather on the revelation of His personal

Presence …. Of such a presence it must be true that to those who have never been confronted with it argument

is useless, while to those who have, it is superfluous.” Baillie is quoted in Holley (1983).

2 I mean for this account to hold for the atheist who accuses theists of being irrational if the latter fail to be

persuaded by atheistic arguments. For the sake of brevity, however, I will here focus on the theist tradition and

hope that the reader will agree that the case can be made for the atheist tradition in similar fashion.

3 Proslogium, in Deane (1962, p. 53).

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Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86 73

[God’s] existence is perfectly evident to anyone who really understands what is being

described, and only a fool, St. Anselm said, or one who has no clear understanding of

what is meant by God (sic) can fail to believe in him.4

In other words, one’s nonbelief in the face of the ontological argument entails one’s lack of

understanding (a cognitive defect).

Although our focus here is on argumentation, it is interesting to note that this view

goes beyond those in the evidentialist tradition. Alvin Plantinga, the foremost defender of

Reformed Epistemology, similarly holds that non-believers are cognitively or psychologically

defective. In his defense of his claim that religious beliefs are properly basic (i.e., they

are well-founded without the need for argument), Plantinga claims:

God has so created us that we have a tendency or disposition to see his hand in the

world about us. More precisely, there is in us a disposition to believe propositions of

the sort this flower was created by God or this vast and intricate universe was created

by God when we contemplate the flower or behold the starry heavens or think about

the vast reaches of the universe.5

Plantinga takes religious beliefs to be epistemically analogous to ordinary perceptual beliefs.

We have an innate tendency or disposition to believe propositions of the sort “there is a tree”

or “I hear a dog barking” just in case we have normal (non-defective) sensory organs. And

observational sentences such as these are justified whenever they strike a person as true,

provided that the person’s sensory organs are in working order and the conditions under

which they are operating are normal (they are not hallucinating, the experience occurs under

normal lighting conditions, etc.). Presumably on Plantinga’s account, the innate tendency

or disposition to believe propositions of the sort “this flower was created by God” involves

whatever normal (non-defective) cognitive abilities are required to “read” the phenomenological

evidence of God’s presence. It follows from such a view that those who do not come

to believe propositions of the sort described are either psychologically incapable of accepting

such propositions, or cognitively defective.

But surely, the view held by both Plantinga and Anselm—roughly, that nonbelievers are

psychologically or cognitively deficient—begs an important question. To see why this is so,

let us first consider what is involved in religious experience of the sort Plantinga invokes (for

an adequate account of religious belief will parallel an adequate account of religious experience).

Suppose that two people, a Christian and an atheist, contemplate a beautiful flower.

Both smell the flower’s aroma, both are pleased by the flower’s intense purple color, both

marvel at the intricacy of the petals’ arrangement. The Christian is moved by this experience

to say something along the lines of “this flower was created by God.” But of course, despite

his pleasure in the flower, the atheist will not be moved to say or to believe any such thing.

Why is this? Plantinga would say that the atheist is either resistant to the experience of God’s

presence in the universe (as evidenced by this flower, among many other things) or his natural

disposition towards such beliefs is somehow defective. But, for the atheist, no proposition

can be true that invokes the concept of ‘God’ (or even ‘god’) in such a way as to entail that

God exists. It is fundamental to many atheists’ belief sets that no god exists. Thus, not only

is he not disposed to utter claims such as “this flower was created by God,” he is disposed

not to utter such claims.

The distinction between the believer’s experience (as Plantinga describes it) and the

atheist’s experience turns on the intentionality of religious experience. A person’s religious

4 Taylor (1965, pp. xvii–xviii).

5 Plantinga (1992).

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experience cannot be adequately described without appeal to the concepts, beliefs, and judgments

that enter into the subject’s identification of his experience. As Wayne Proudfoot has

noted, “In order to understand [a person’s] experience of a miracle, I must ascribe to him

the belief that the event cannot be exhaustively explained in naturalistic terms, but I need

not endorse that belief.”6 In other words, one can have experiences such as those described

by Plantinga only if one has, within one’s belief set (or within one’s conceptual scheme, we

might say) the relevant theistic beliefs (or concepts). So to describe the non-theist as somehow

psychologically deficient or defective is to beg the epistemic question—the non-theist

lacks theistic experiences because he does not accept theistic concepts and beliefs! To label

the non-theist as psychologically resistant or defective here is to seriously underestimate the

role of the non-theist’s beliefs in his experience.

Similarly, I will argue that to accuse the subject who fails to be persuaded by religious arguments

of irrationality or cognitive defect is to seriously underestimate the role of antecedent

beliefs and commitments in the evaluation of arguments. An adequate account of persuasion

must take these subjective factors (as well as other contextual factors) into account. As it

turns out, the failure of even very good arguments to persuade need not entail any defect

in the non-persuaded subject. In order to defend this claim, I first propose an account of

persuasion.

The logic of persuasion

The primary purpose of an argument, understood in the philosophically orthodox sense, is to

persuade someone of the truth of its conclusion. This aim of argumentation is so obviously

and widely recognized that it is often written into the very definition of the term. A typical

account of argument, found in a standard introductory logic textbook, defines one as “a group

of statements, one or more of which (the premises) are claimed to provide support for, or reasons

to believe, one of the others (the conclusion).”7 Now, typically we understand the arguer

and his audience to be separate persons, such that the statements in an argument offered by

person A aim to provide another person, B, with reasons for B to believe the conclusion of

A’s argument. On this view (hereafter called “the standard view”), an argument’s primary

purpose is to persuade an audience to accept its conclusion.8

Naïve versions of the standard view (i.e., those taught in introductory logic and critical

thinking courses) equate the concept of being rationally persuasive with the concept of being

a sound (or, more weakly, a logically strong) argument.9 On such naïve views, any rational

person who is confronted with a sound argument will come to believe the argument’s conclusion.

Of course, the soundness of an argument depends only on two features—namely, the

internal logical structure of the argument and the external relation between the premises and

the world (i.e., the correspondence truth relation). While the relationship between soundness

and persuasiveness is a close one (at least insofar as ideally rational agents are concerned),

the two cannot be equated for the simple reason that the latter and not the former depends on

6 Proudfoot (1992, p. 341).

7 Hurley (2000, p. 1).

8 The ‘accept’ here is to be read as the particular epistemic attitude that one has towards a proposition when

one is interested in seeking truth and avoiding error and when with these goals in mind one assents to the

proposition in question. For a full account of acceptance (especially, as this attitude differs from mere belief),

see Lehrer (1990).

9 Throughout this discussion, I use the term ‘logically strong’ to mean either a deductively valid argument

or an inductively strong argument.

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features of a person’s antecedently held set of beliefs and other relevant propositional attitudes.

On a psychologically and epistemologically more realistic account of persuasiveness,

we must attend to the beliefs and other propositional attitudes that an audience brings to the

table.

For starters, we must note that there are persuasive arguments that are not logically good

arguments (simply because some people are persuaded by bad arguments). Further, there are

logically good arguments that fail to persuade. Some logically strong arguments have false

premises and the argument’s audience may recognize the falsity of one or more premises

and thus fail to be persuaded. This may sometimes be the case, but note that it is not the

actual falsity of a premise that will determine the persuasive power of a strong argument;

rather, it is the perceived truth value of the premises. That is, if a person is confronted with a

strong argument whose premises he firmly believes to be true, he may accept the argument’s

conclusion even where he is mistaken and at least one premise is in fact false. Conversely,

a person confronted with a strong argument one of whose premises he firmly believes to be

false will not accept the argument’s conclusion even where he is mistaken and the premise

in question is in fact true. The upshot of all of this is that the concept of being rationally

persuasive cannot be equated with (any of) the logical concepts of soundness, validity, or

strong inductive probability.

Given that an argument’s persuasive force is not solely a function of its logical properties

and the truth values of its premises, what must be the case for an argument to be rationally

persuasive? Clearly, the persuasiveness of an argument is subjective in the sense that

it depends on a subject’s judgment as to the truth of the premises and the logical strength of

the argument. The foregoing discussion indicates at least two conditions that must be met

for an argument to be persuasive. For the sake of brevity, let us adopt the following shorthand:

S will represent any person (subject) who “receives” (i.e., hears or reads) an argument

and understands it in its entirety, and p1, p2, p3 . . . pn/C will represent the argument from

premises p1, p2, p3, . . .pn to the conclusion, C. Then,

For any S and any argument p1, p2, p3, . . .pn/C, S will be persuaded to believe that C

on the basis of p1, p2, p3, . . .pn/Conly if:10

(i) Each of p1, p2, p3, . . .pnholds some positive degree of subjective probability for S.11

(ii) S recognizes that p1, p2, p3, . . .pn/C is a logically strong argument in the sense that

the probability of C given p1, p2, p3, . . .pn is greater than the initial probability of

C.12

The first condition captures the subject’s evaluation of the premises—that is, S must assign

some positive probability to each premise or he will simply reject the argument as unsound

and thus not in need of serious consideration. The second condition addresses S’s evaluation

of the logic of the argument. In essence, condition (ii) captures the central feature of

argument-as-persuasion embedded in the definition of ‘argument’ with which we began our

discussion: to persuade S to believe that C is to provide S with reasons for believing that

C; thus, if p1, p2, p3, . . .pn/C is persuasive for S he must recognize the epistemic force

10 Note that this is not “if and only if.” The conditions spelled out here are necessary, but not sufficient,

conditions on an argument’s being persuasive for S. We shall see below why they fail to be sufficient.

11 By some “positive degree of subjective probability” I mean some probability equal to or greater than .5.

12 Here, of course,wemean the subjective probability of C, as assigned by S. In the case of a deductively valid

argument, S’s recognition amounts to his acknowledgement that the truth of the premises makes C certain. In

the case of a strong inductive argument, it amounts to S’s assignment of a probability to C after considering

the argument considerably higher than the probability he assigned to it before hearing the argument.

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of p1, p2, p3, . . .pn vis-à-vis C. Condition (ii) simply encapsulates this notion of epistemic

force in terms of subjective probability.

In addition to these two conditions, many commentators—from Aristotle forward—have

added a third condition:13

(iii) Each of the premises p1, p2, p3, . . .pnis more acceptable to S than is the argument’s

conclusion.

Condition (iii) is meant to call attention to a central feature of persuasion as a species of

justification—that is, one is not apt to accept a proposition on the basis of evidence statements

that one rates as less probable than the proposition in question. If S assigns a higher

subjective probability to C than to a given premise, pi, then S will not accept pi as persuasive

evidence for C (i.e., S will not accept C on the basis of pi ). Some commentators have argued

that this “evidential priority” requirement is too strong a condition on argumentation.14 However,

it seems reasonable to endorse the requirement in dialectical contexts, for it seems that

where S1attempts to prove to S2 that C, S1must argue from premises that S2 accepts as more

plausible than C (at least at the outset). Thus, insofar as we take argument to be aimed at

convincing non-believing others of a claim that we endorse—i.e., insofar as persuasion is

our concern—condition (iii) seems to be a valid requirement. To recap, then, it seems that for

an argument to persuade a person S that C is true, S must find each of the premises plausible

on its own; S must take each of the premises to be more plausible than C (at the outset

of the argument); and Smust recognize that C is more probably true, given the premises,

than it would be otherwise. As it turns out, these conditions raise very serious problems for

persuasive argumentation in some contexts. Before turning our attention to those problems

(as we will do in subsequent sections), let us first see what advantages this account offers

and refine it further.

This account of persuasive argument has an advantage over the standard view considered

above. In analyzing the persuasiveness of an argument in terms of the recipient’s subjective

probability assignments to the premises (individually) and to the conclusion in relation to the

premises (collectively), the account recognizes the role of S’s antecedently held beliefs in

an argument’s persuasiveness for S. Subjective probability assignments for a given subject

S are a function of S’s antecedently held belief set precisely because all S has to go on in

judging the truth of a proposition is his current belief set. As Brand Blanshard has put it, the

test of truth is always a matter of coherence.15 Thus, the persuasive force of an argument is

always dependent upon a given subject’s antecedently held beliefs.

Failure to persuade

But while these three conditions on persuasion seem necessary, they are hardly jointly sufficient.

To see why this is so, consider the following (rather typical) example of the failure

of an argument to persuade, in spite of its being widely recognized as a prima facie strong

13 See Prior Analytics 64b 30 ff., where Aristotle seems to endorse this as a general requirement on argumentation.

14 For a thorough discussion of this requirement and its relation to the issue of circularity, seeWalton (1985),

especially p. 271 ff.

15 Blanshard (1939). Blanshard argues that even empirical “verification” is a matter of coherence; see especially

213 ff. Although this claim might be controversial, we need not go that far here—we need only admit

that from one’s own subjective viewpoint, the test of truth will always be a matter of coherence (with one’s

standing belief set).

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argument. Suppose that a person S is confronted with Descartes’ second skeptical argument

of the Meditations, and she understands that the conclusion of the argument entails that she

does not know that she has a body. Suppose further that S simply cannot bring herself to

accept this conclusion, in spite of the fact that she believes the argument to be deductively

valid and she cannot find fault with any one of the premises of the argument (i.e., both conditions

(i) and (ii) on persuasion are met). Further, condition (iii) on persuasion is met, as

Sfinds each of the premises of the argument to be more probable than the radical skeptical

conclusion. What are we to make of this sort of failure to persuade?

One response thatmany will have to S’s predicament is that she ought to accept Descartes’

conclusion, and that she fails to do so on pain of irrationality. The appropriateness of saying

that a given person S ought to accept a claim on the basis of a logically strong argument

depends in part on the source of S’s resistance to the conclusion. It seems that one of two

things might be preventing S’s acceptance of the conclusion of an argument that even she

admits is prima facie a sound one. On the one hand, the conclusion of the argument may

conflict with one or more of S’s antecedently held beliefs; where this belief (or set of beliefs)

is assigned a high degree of probability by S, the argument to the contrary may not convince

S to change her belief. On the other hand, S may have some relevant non-epistemic attitude

(e.g., fear) that prevents her from accepting the conclusion (or one or more premises). Let us

consider the latter case first.

If S has some relevant non-epistemic attitude (e.g., fear) that prevents her from accepting

the conclusion, the claim that S is not acting as a rational agent has some force. On this view,

any rational personwho is confronted with a sound argument should come to believe the argument’s

conclusion. Thus, the notion of ‘rationally persuasive’ is an intrinsically normative

one—i.e., if an argument is logically strong and a person who hears and understands it fails

to be persuaded of the conclusion in the absence of any epistemic reason for not accepting

that conclusion, then the person is irrational. But this “fix” is also psychologically naïve. In

epistemic contexts as in ethical contexts ought implies can, and whether a given person can

come to believe a proposition will depend on features external to an argument.16

But perhaps even recognizing this psychologically contextual feature of real argumentation,

we can formulate a general account of rational persuasion. Let us stipulate for the sake

of this discussion that a person is a rational epistemic agent just in case (and to the degree

that) he desires to have true beliefs and to avoid false beliefs. If this is so then whatever

other psychological motives are in play, a rational epistemic agent when confronted with a

sound argument will agree that in the interest of acquiring true beliefs and avoiding false

beliefs she ought to come to believe the argument’s conclusion.17 She may be unable to do so

immediately (and perhaps even in the long run), given her antecedently held non-epistemic

attitudes, but she should as a rational agent acknowledge that insofar as she strives to have

true beliefs she ought to accept the argument’s conclusion. This account sidesteps the “ought

implies can” issue, as it requires of the rational agent not that she simply must acquire the

belief, but that she recognize that she ought to strive to acquire the belief in question. The

16 It is beyond the scope of this paper to argue for epistemic voluntarism, but on my view some version of

indirect voluntarism is correct. Indirect voluntarism is the claim that while belief states themselves cannot

be adopted or rejected directly simply by an act of the will, a person can voluntarily perform certain actions

that might eventually lend themselves to the adoption or rejection of a given belief state. Different versions

of epistemic voluntarism are defended by Matthias Steup, Carl Ginet, and Richard Feldman; each has a paper

on the topic in Steup (2001).

17 A similar point is made in Dayton(1981, p. 742): “Thus to accept a proposition is to commit oneself to

bringing it about that one believes the proposition. Of course to change one’s beliefs may take time and effort;

indeed one may fail. To be persuaded by an argument is thus to accept, though not necessarily ultimately come

to believe, its conclusion.”

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latter requirement may be met, even if the agent is unable to simply accept the belief in

question. For instance, she may seek to dismantle the psychological barriers to believing the

argument’s conclusion (e.g., her fear that she knows far less than she thought she knew) and

thus clear the way for acquiring the belief that she recognizes as one she ought to accept.

But while this response seems plausible in the case of psychological resistance to otherwise

compelling arguments, it fails as a response to the first kind of persuasive failure we

encountered—namely, cases in which S’s antecedently held beliefs are what prevent her from

accepting an argument’s conclusion. To see why this is so, suppose that S’s inability to accept

the conclusion ‘I do not know that I have a body’ is based on the fact that she believes that

she does have a body and she takes this antecedent belief to be certain or very nearly certain.

In this case, she is unable to believe the conclusion of an argument that she accepts as a prima

facie good one because she is convinced on other grounds that the conclusion is false.

Here, we have a case in which a person fails to be persuaded by an argument with conclusion

C because she already believes (and is convinced that) not-C is true. In such a case,

a person is not likely to be persuaded that C is true, even where she finds the argument for

C prima facie compelling. Of course, it is possible that one can be persuaded that she has

been mistaken even about strongly held beliefs. But a person’s serious consideration of an

argument—even a compelling one—for conclusion C does not necessarily imply that she

will change her mind about the truth of C. Much will depend on the strength of the person’s

antecedent belief that not-C (one might say, on the strength of one’s prior subjective probability

assignment to not-C and thus to C). Even in the face of a compelling argument for C

one may continue to accept that C is false, especially in cases where one’s antecedent belief

in not-C is based on evidence or reasons to which one assigns a very high probability (or

even considers to be certain). At best, a person in this situation may shift to a position of

agnosticism with regards to the truth of C. But notice that even if one is moved to agnosticism,

the argument in question has failed to convince the person that C is true—and it is

always possible that at a later date the person will shift back into believing that not-C is true.

Whether or not the person holds on to his belief that not-C will rely, in part, on the centrality

of that belief in his belief set.18

Again, I do not want to overstate the power of antecedently held beliefs—we do, often

enough, change our minds about the truth of one or more of our beliefs in the face of persuasive

arguments to the contrary. But there will be some cases in which arguments will be

nearly powerless to convince us that we are wrong. Such cases will be those that involve our

most fundamental beliefs. By this, I do not mean to imply that epistemic foundationalism is

true; on this issue, I will remain neutral. Rather, we need only note that on any theory of the

“structure” of justification, some beliefs are more central, deep, fundamental, etc.—and thus

more immune to challenge—than others. For a foundationalist, these beliefs will be those

that are more certain and epistemically prior to others. For a coherentist, these will be the

beliefs that are at the core of the belief system, and thus most immune to change brought on

by the influence of new empirical evidence. For a contextualist (or a Wittgensteinian), they

will be the beliefs that constitute the framework within which certain inquiries (or language

games) may take place; on this sort of view, such beliefs will be unquestionable in principle—

that is, by being in place they make certain questions possible but also entail that these

18 Perhaps the best known advocate of epistemic holism,W.V. O. Quine has consistently stressed this point—

i.e., that where we face a “challenge” to our belief set it is a challenge to the whole, never to a single statement

in isolation from the rest. Our response to such challenges is always to do the least damage to the standing set,

which typically means revising only at the periphery rather than within core; thus, the more central a belief is

(within one’s belief set), the less likely it is to be given up or revised. For a straitforward defense of this view,

See Quine and Ullian (1978).

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framework beliefs themselves are immune to doubt.19 Note that a prima facie compelling

argumentwhose conclusion is the denial of one of a person’s fundamental beliefs in this sense

is likely to fail to be persuasive for the simple reason that the epistemic cost of changing one’s

fundamental beliefs is always higher than the cost of changing a more peripheral belief.20 It

is reasonable to think that the more fundamental a belief and thus the higher the epistemic

cost of changing that belief, the less likely an argument is to persuade one to give up the

belief in question (all other things being equal). Conversely, the more peripheral a belief and

thus the lower the epistemic cost of changing the belief, the more likely an argument is to

persuade one to give up that belief.

Let us sum up the discussion thus far and prepare to apply our results to the issue of

religious argument.We have noted that the persuasive power of an argument will depend on

features external to the argument itself, and thus cannot be equated with the logical strength

of the argument. A person’s non-epistemic attitudes towards the (premises or) conclusion

of the argument may prevent her from coming to believe the conclusion of an argument,

even where she finds the argument otherwise compelling. Also, a person’s antecedently held

beliefs may conflict with the (premises or) conclusion of an argument in such a way as to

prevent an otherwise compelling argument from convincing her of the truth of the conclusion.

This failure of an argument to persuade will be especially acute where a conclusion is

in conflict with one’s most fundamental beliefs.

Now, whether a prima facie good or compelling religious argument will persuade an audience

of the truth of its conclusion—i.e., whether a religious argument will compel belief—will

depend on whether one of these “failure to persuade” conditions is in effect. So, for instance,

if a person is psychologically predisposed against accepting the conclusion of a religious

argument (for example, if he is a nonbeliever who is disgusted by religion and thus by religious

propositions, or if he is a believer who refuses to accept any argument that challenges

his religious beliefs), then he will be unlikely to accept the conclusion of a religious argument

even where the argument is a good one. Likewise, if a person strongly believes that the

conclusion of a religious argument is false and has good reasons for so believing, he will not

be persuaded by a religious argument that fails to undermine his antecedently held reasons.

Finally, if a religious argument challenges a person’s most fundamentally held beliefs, the

argument is not likely to persuade the person to change those beliefs, if the epistemic cost is

too high (and the payoff too low).

Religious beliefs (and metaphysical beliefs that entail the truth or falsity of many religious

beliefs) are precisely the kinds of beliefs that are fundamental in the sense just articulated.

That is, they typically frame religious and metaphysical discussions and thus dictate the

boundaries of what can be called into question as well as the evidentiary standards in play.

Thus, the bar that one must reach to persuade someone to accept (or reject) a religious

or metaphysical belief is raised higher than many other kinds of beliefs and may well be

unreachable (especially where the “target” belief contradicts such framework beliefs). In this

section, I have argued that there are both psychological and epistemological explanations

for the failure of religious arguments to persuade opponents of the arguments’ conclusions

to accept those conclusions. In the next section, I argue that there are reasons to think that

19 There is also compelling evidence from neuroscience that some of our beliefs are regulated by (stored in,

mediated through—the language is uncertain here) different parts of the brain than other beliefs. The indication,

from several recent studies, that religious beliefs are located in different brain structures than other kinds

of beliefs has led to a spate of articles and books on the topic. For example, see Ashbrook and Albright (1997)

and Newberg et al. (2002). I thank Carl Kobelja for reminding me of this sort of research.

20 This cost/benefit analysis is only one of several aspects of contextualism. For a more thorough account,

see Williams (2001).

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religious arguments are most likely to persuade those who already accept their conclusions.

What to make of these features of religious argument will concern us in the final section of

the paper.

Begging the doxastic question

In this section, I argue that many religious arguments are likely to commit what I call “begging

the doxastic question.” An argument begs the doxastic question, on my account, when a

subject would find the argument persuasive only if she antecedently believes the argument’s

conclusion. This form of question begging is not, strictly speaking, a case of circularity and

thus, is not a fallacy; rather, it would explain why certain arguments tend to persuade only

those who already accept the argument’s conclusion. This issue will bring us back to the

third condition on persuasion, the “evidential priority” condition. If an argument begs the

doxastic question, then the assignment of some positive degree of probability to at least one

premise relies on acceptance of the argument’s conclusion. But in so fulfilling condition (i) on

persuasion, the argument violates condition (iii). That is, an argument that begs the doxastic

question will be unable to persuade someone to believe its conclusion when the acceptance

of that very conclusion is antecedently required. Similarly, given this close epistemic relationship

between the conclusion and the premise(s) in cases of doxastic question-begging,

one who antecedently rejects the argument’s conclusion will be unlikely to assign a positive

probability to the argument’s premises, and thus the argument will not be likely to fulfill the

persuasion conditions for that person.

Before we examine this issue further, it is imperative to contrast doxastic question begging

with the well known fallacy of begging the question.21 Petitio principii, or the fallacy of

“begging the question,” is committed when an argument (or, more appropriately, an arguer)

assumes an answer to the very question that is at issue. Another way in which this fallacy is

commonly characterized is to say that an argument begs the question when the conclusion

of the argument is stated in one or more premises of the argument. Note that this fallacy is

not a deductive fallacy: any argument of the form ‘p, therefore p’ is deductively valid, while

such arguments clearly beg the question. Begging the question, then, is dialectically—not

logically—illicit. Consider a gem of an example, attributed to President George W. Bush.

The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq…and al-Qaida

is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida.22

Now, this passage might be read in different ways. On the surface, it appears to simply be

an argument of the form: (P & Q)/(P & Q). This is a deductively valid argument, but reading

it this way leaves us puzzled as to why President Bush might have uttered such a thing. We

might invoke the principle of charity, and read it as an explanation, rather than as an argument;

on this reading, President Bush is saying something of the form “I said that p because p is

21 The two issues are all too often run together. A casual search of websites purporting to instruct readers

on the issue of begging the question turned up several instances of examples that do not in fact beg the question

(if the question is understood as whether or not the argument’s conclusion is true). Instead, many of the

examples cited should properly be interpreted as begging the doxastic question. Among the websites that cited

non-question begging arguments as paradigmatically question-begging were Thompson (2006), Curtis (n.d.),

and Cline (n.d.).

22 Bush’s statement (quoted in its entirety) is offered as an example of the fallacy of begging the question

Thompson (2006). In its entirety, Bush’s assertion is actually an invalid argument: “The reason I keep insisting

that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaida is because there was a relationship

between Iraq and al-Qaida.” Nonetheless, in abbreviated form it serves as a good starting point for discussion.

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true.” This is not only an explanation, it is often a good enough one,23 and on this reading,

President Bush hasn’t begged any question at all. However, if we read the passage as having

occurred in a context in which the truth value of the conclusion is the very question at issue,

Bush is expected to give a reason for his insistence that Iraq and al-Qaida are related, a reason

that is independent of the very proposition at issue, and his stated reason merely repeats that

he takes this proposition to be true. In this sort of context—namely, a dialectical context in

which separate parties dispute the truth value of a proposition—one cannot simply assert the

proposition in question, for to do so is to violate the evidential priority condition.

But there are arguments whose premises do not state their conclusions that nevertheless

violate condition (iii) because the assignment of a high subjective probability to a premise

requires an antecedently high subjective probability assignment to the conclusion; such arguments

do not “beg the question” in the traditional sense, but are more properly labeled as

doxastic question begging. Consider the following argument:

1. Republican lawmakers routinely devalue public welfare programs, education funding,

same-sex marriage rights, and other socially progressive causes.

2. One ought to vote for candidates that value public welfare programs, education funding,

same-sex marriage rights, and other socially progressive causes.

Therefore,

3. One ought to vote for a Democrat in the next legislative election.

This argument does not beg the question in the traditional sense—it does not assume what

it sets out to establish. It does, however, make an assertion (premise 2) that those who are

antecedently inclined to vote Democratic are likely to assign a high subjective probability.

Further, in some contexts—indeed, in the dominant political climate in the U.S. today—those

who reject Republican candidates are likely to vote Democratic, so those inclined to vote

for Democratic candidates are also those who would find these premises to be compelling

reasons to vote Democratic. For that audience, this argument begs the doxastic question.

The question before us nowis whether religious arguments routinely or systematically beg

the doxastic question. It is crucial to note that ‘begging the doxastic question’ involves both

subjective and contextual factors, as it is determined by subjective probability assignments

to premises and conclusions as well as evaluations of the evidentiary link between premises

and conclusions, which will be contextually sensitive (as the “Vote Democratic” example

shows). However, there will be notable patterns where arguments involve beliefs that are

typical of certain groups, as defined by their belief sets. For instance, any religious argument

that includes a premise that will be judged highly probably only if one is a theist will beg the

doxastic question for any atheist. Similarly, any religious argument that includes a premise

that would be assigned a very low probability by any theist will beg the doxastic question

for theists. It is my contention that most (if not all) of the best known arguments for (and

against) God’s existence beg the doxastic question; in other words, most of these arguments

will be compelling only to those who already accept their conclusions.

In the Introduction, I argued that whether or not one has religious experiences (of the

sort that Plantinga invokes) depends on whether or not one already subscribes to a theistic

conceptual scheme. Similarly, here I will argue that the lack of persuasive force of religious

23 Consider a context in which a woman keeps saying that one of her husband’s friends is a jerk. Exasperated,

he asks “Why do you keep saying that?” and she replies, “Because it’s true!” Here, she has given him her

reason for saying so, but as an argument, it is of the form “I said that p, because p [is true].” He might be

satisfied with this response, or he might not, but if he isn’t, he’ll ask a different question, such as “Why do

you think that?” So the wife has not begged the original question (which concerned her speech, not the truth

value of her assertion).

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arguments for many non-believers is best explained by their prior epistemic commitments

rather than by psychological resistance or irrationality on their part. As we began our discussion

with St. Anselm’s accusation that those not persuaded by his ontological argument

are fools, let us look at that argument’s persuasive force for the non-believer. It is a common

contention that Anselm’s ontological argument (and perhaps all versions of the ontological

argument) assumes no religious belief on the part of the argument’s audience. Again, Richard

Taylor’s commentary captures this prevalent view:

[Anselm’s] argument presupposes no belief in the existence of God. It presupposes

only the concept of God, that is to say, the concept of an absolutely supreme being,

and for this no religious faith at all is required.24

This common interpretation ofAnselm’s argument rests on a distinction between religious beliefs

and religious concepts, and further holds that anyone—regardless of his or her beliefs—

can understand religious concepts (otherwise, of course, they are cognitively deficient). On

this interpretation, understanding of the concept of a being “than which none greater can be

conceived” (i.e., a greatest conceivable being) presupposes no religious commitment. But

Anselm asks us to do more than understand this concept—his later premises rely on a move

from “existence in the understanding” to “existence in reality” and in so doing, they rely on

assent to the idea of a greatest being. But to assent to the notion of a greatest being is to

assent to a Chain of Being, in which all existents are ranked or valued with respect to one

another. And of course it is not a subjective sense of value that Anselm had in mind when

he referred to the greatest conceivable being; he meant ‘greatest’ to be understood in some

objective, universal, or cosmic sense. In this sense, there is one objectively and universally

correct valuation of all beings relative to one another, and this valuation of every being is

according to the natural or moral law of the universe. But upon what is the moral law of the

universe based? The answer for the theist, of course, makes reference to God, the Supreme

Being and the source of all ultimate value. So, theists are likely to assign high subjective

probabilities to Anselm’s premises. Many (though not all) atheists will reject the very notion

of a “greatest being,” and thus assign low subjective probability to the premises of Anselm’s

argument. The standard interpretation of (and Anselm’s own presentation of) the ontological

argument asks us to separate religious concept from religious belief, when in fact one who

rejects the religious belief in question will not likely accept the concept in question. And the

subject who does not believe in God and rejects the very idea of an ultimate Chain of Being is

not, contrary to Anselm’s accusation, cognitively deficient in this regard. The mistake made

by Anselm and his commentators is to fail to recognize the interdependency of one’s beliefs

and the concepts with which he will work.

This problem is not unique to the ontological argument. Another prevalent type of religious

argument, the cosmological argument, runs into the same problem. Standard accounts of the

cosmological argument move from the acknowledgement that the physical universe exists,

through a demand for explanation of this fact, to the conclusion that (only) God’s existence

adequately explains this fact. The move from a demand for explanation to God’s existence

as the only adequate explanation rests on the dual claims that explanation in the scientific

sense (of immediate physical cause that is itself an effect) is inadequate and that there is an

alternative kind of explanation (the uncaused cause). But, of course, many non-theists will

reject the second (and perhaps also the first) conjunct of that premise; for instance, a committed

physicalist will reject out of hand the concept of a non-physical cause. The currently

in vogue “design arguments” fit a similar pattern; that is, design arguments move from the

24 Taylor (1965, p. ix).

123

Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86 83

claim that the universe exhibits order and the claim that the only adequate explanation of

such observed patterns is an intelligent designer to the conclusion that God (the intelligent

designer) exists. But those who reject theism are likely to assign low subjective probabilities

to each of these premises; i.e., they will reject both the claim that observed regularities constitute

order (and certainly “perfect order” as some versions of the argument have it) and the

claim that such observed regularities require non-natural explanations. And again, we have

fundamental metaphysical disagreements here, not cognitive or psychological deficiency on

the part of the unpersuaded.

Finally, the ubiquitous “Problem of Evil” argument, whose conclusion is often stated

as ‘God (defined as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent) does not exist,’ includes

premises that are likely to be assigned high probability by atheists and low probability by

theists. That is, every version of this argument relies on premises of the general form ‘God

would not allow evil to occur’ and ‘Some aspects of the world in which we live are evil.’

Given that theists will assign one or both of these premises low subjective probability, the

argument is unlikely to meet the conditions on persuasion for theists (because condition (i)

will not be met). For many atheists, condition (i) will be met (that is, the premises will be

assigned high subjective probability), but condition (iii) will then not be met (for the atheist

antecedently believes the argument’s conclusion, and thus, the premises do not themselves

provide the reasons for his atheism).

What good are religious arguments if they are not persuasive?

If the foregoing is correct, then religious arguments—whether “pro” or “con”—rather systematically

beg the doxastic question, and thus will not be persuasive in the sorts of dialectical

contexts in which the truth value of their conclusions is what is at issue. However, as I alluded

to above, the use of religious argument is more widespread than the foregoing account of

its persuasive function suggests. For example, arguments are often a part of doctrinal or

theological training, they are often voiced during sermons, they serve as aids in exegetical

work, and they are often aimed at increasing the understanding of those who already adhere

to the beliefs stated in their conclusions. As we have noted above, none of these uses can be

understood as aimed at persuasion, as these arguments all function within religious contexts

and are aimed at those who already believe their conclusions. What purpose, we might ask,

can arguments serve in these (believer-specific) contexts?

In addition to the aim of arguments embedded in the standard view, it is clear that arguments

serve several other purposes. Among them are justification and elucidation. In the first

kind of case, an argumentmight be aimed at convincing someone to believe its conclusion for

the reasons stated in the premises. This is slightly different from our account of argument as

persuasion, which holds that an argument is aimed at getting a person (who does not already

believe the conclusion) to accept its conclusion. Thus, a religious argument aimed at one

who already believes its conclusion might be an attempt to provide that person with strong

evidence for something they already believe on faith (or perhaps on weak evidence). This

interpretation of religious argument is compatible with the reports of Anselm and others,

who already believed on faith what they set out to prove. Because their antecedent beliefs

will increase the likelihood that they will assign high probability to the premises of such

arguments, and thus find them compelling, such arguments will be successful in this sort of

context.

In the second kind of case (elucidation), arguments may be used to indicate inferential

connections among propositions that might otherwise be missed, to show interrelationships

123

84 Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86

among doctrinal claims, to draw out consequences of prior epistemic commitments, and

so forth. Again, this use of arguments differs slightly from the standard view for both the

proponent of the argument and its intended audience will most likely already believe the

arguments’ conclusions yet the argument may be useful in illustrating the logical relations

among one’s religious beliefs and between those beliefs and others. One prevalent concern

among theologians is the coherence of a given system of religious beliefs. For example,

many theologians and philosophers have been interested in showing that their beliefs about

the nature of God are internally consistent, and that the system is consistent with other widely

acknowledged facts (such as the existence of purported evil in the world). One cannot illustrate

the coherence (or lack thereof) of a system of beliefs without the use of arguments. But

it is important to note that arguments so functioning are not intended to persuade anyone

to believe their conclusions (because they are typically being offered and received by those

who already believe the conclusions).

Although the use of arguments for justification and elucidation differs from the standard

view of argument as persuasion, each involves the use of argument in an evidentiary

sense—that is, in each case argument is used to indicate the evidence for a given religious

proposition or to illustrate inferential connections among religious propositions. These uses

explain many (perhaps most) religious arguments in theistic contexts. But such evidentiary

uses of argument need not exhaust the practice of argumentation in religious contexts.

In some cases, arguments may be part of an altogether different “language game.” When

Wittgenstein argued that language has multiple functions, with the meaning, rules of usage,

and grammar all determined by the linguistic context, he tended to focus on singular terms

and statements. But the same may be true for larger units of language as well—thus, the

meaning and usage of arguments may also vary with context. In certain religious contexts,

such as the sermon in a church service, an argument may not be used in an evidentiary sense

at all. Instead, it may be a performative speech act, an argument as confession of faith. In

defending this understanding of religious argument, Maury Jackson compares the presentation

of a religious argument to such performatives as “I love you”—in both cases, the

utterances are also acts of the relevant sort.

Saying ‘I love you’ also acts out one’s love linguistically, for to say ‘I love you’ is

considered in many cultures to be an act of love. … The textual sermon serves just a

similar kind of role. It is the acting out of one’s faith linguistically, by confessing one’s

own faith in Christ.25

Just as in the context of a sermon, so it may be in the wider context of theology that a religious

argument may serve neither an evidentiary nor a persuasive purpose at all but rather

a performative one. Together, these three distinct aims of argumentation—as justification,

elucidation, or speech act—help to explain the ubiquitous use of religious arguments in the

history of religion.

Conclusion

In this paper, I have argued that as persuasive devices, religious arguments are more likely to

fail than to succeed; that is, in certain dialectical contexts in which the audience is assumed

to believe not-C prior to the reception of a religious argument concluding that C, such religious

arguments are unlikely to provide such an audience with reasons to believe that C.

25 Jackson (2002, p. 89).

Int J Philos Relig (2008) 63:71–86 85

I have attempted to explain this “inertness” feature of religious arguments by showing that

religious beliefs, and thus arguments for those beliefs, are of the sort that involve our most

fundamental commitments—metaphysical and epistemological—and therefore, are the least

sensitive to the kinds of reasons or evidence provided in arguments. This is so because religious

arguments are likely to beg the doxastic question, being judged compelling only by

those who antecedently accept their conclusions. Rather than place blame for the failure of

such arguments to persuade, we do better to understand the epistemology of persuasion and

religious belief. It seems tome thatmy account both provides an explanation for such failures

to persuade and raises a fundamental challenge to the evidentialist tradition in theology. For

if I am right that one’s evaluation of premises and thus of arguments depends on one’s antecedent

“deep” commitments, one of which is surely religious faith (or lack thereof), then the

evidentialists’ expectations that religious beliefs are—or should be—sensitive to evidential

input is mistaken. And, whatever the prospects for an “ethics of belief” in general, it would

seem that the prospects for an ethics of religious belief are particularly bleak.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank my colleagues and students at Cal State L.A. for stimulating

discussions of earlier versions of this paper; particular gratitude goes to the students in my graduate seminars

on the epistemology of religion and especially to Maury Jackson, whose M.A. thesis research sparked me to

finally work out my own ideas on these issues. I also thank Professor Carl Kobelja for his constant support

and insightful comments, even (especially) in light of our philosophical differences.

References

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Ashbrook, J. B., & Albright, C. R. (1997). The humanizing brain: Where religion and neuroscience meet.

Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press.

Baillie, J. (1959). Our knowledge of God. New York: Charles Scriber’s Sons.

Blanshard, B. (1939). The nature of thought (Vol. II). New York: Humanities Press, Inc.

Clifford, W. K. (1999). The ethics of belief. In The ethics of belief and other essays, with an Introduction by

T. J. Madigan. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Cline, A. (n.d.). Begging the question (petitio principii). Retrieved October 19, 2006, from http://atheism.

about.com/od/logicalfallacies/a/beggingquestion.htm

Curtis, G. N. Fallacy Files. (n.d.). RetrievedOctober 19, 2006, from http://www.fallacyfiles .org/begquest.html

Dayton, E. (1981). Persuasive arguments and disagreements of principle. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, XI

(4), 741–747.

Gilson, E. (1969).The idea of God and the difficulties of Atheism. Philosophy Today 13, 174–205.

Holley, D. M. (1983). Should believers be interested in arguments forGod’s existence? American Philosophical

Quarterly, 20 (4), 383–389.

Hurley, P. J. (2000). A Concise Introduction to Logic, (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Jackson, M. D. (2002). The role of argument in religious discourse. Master’s Thesis, California State University,

Los Angeles.

Lehrer, K. (1990). Theory of knowledge. San Francisco: Westview Press.

Newberg, A., D’Aquili, E., & Rause, V. (2002). Why God won’t go away. New York: Ballantine Books.

Plantinga, A. (1992). Is belief in God properly basic? In R. D. Geivett & B. Sweetman (Eds.), Contemporary

perspectives on religious epistemology (pp. 133–141). New York: Oxford University Press.

Proudfoot,W. (1992). Explaining religious experience. In R. D. Geivett&B. Sweetman (Eds.), Contemporary

perspectives on religious epistemology (pp. 336–352). New York: Oxford University Press.

Quine, W.V.O., & Ullian, J. S. (1978). The web of belief (2nd ed). New York: Random House.

St. Anselm. (1962). Proslogium. In S. N. Deane (Trans.), St. Anselm: Basic writings, (2nd ed.). LaSalle, IL:

Open Court.

Steup, M. (Ed.) (2001). Knowledge, truth, and duty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, R. (1965). Introduction. In A. Plantinga (Ed.), The ontological argument from St. Anselm to contemporary

philosophers (pp. xvii–xviii). Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

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http://www.cuyamaca.edu/bruce.thompson/Fallacies/petitio.asp

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Walton, D. N. (1985). Are circular arguments necessarily vicious? American Philosophical Quarterly, 22 (4),

263–274.

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Appendix B

Deconversion Scripts and Formulas

An Internet Blog Example of the Operational Aspects of Deconversion

A great way to see the Socratic Method in use is by example. The following is a debate that occurred on debatingchristianity.com between Kir Komrik and the internet community at large. Deconversion in a venue such as this is generally stacked against the deconverter since the deconverter will inevitably face 1) a “flocking to the scene” of debate / apologetic experts as opposed to the kind of “normal” people who are typically the target of deconversion and 2) the number of respondents to questions is much higher than in a normal deconversion session (which, usually, is simply one target adherent). And normally one would not attempt to deconvert someone in this context since there is no support structure for the deconverted possible; indeed, anyone reading the thread could deconvert largely or even solely as a consequence of reading the thread. But the greatest value in this example is for mass deconversion methods, not individual deconversion, and that is the primary focus of this work. By using this discussion a script and step outline for video production can be created. We recommend for deconverters that this discussion be used in the creation of videos for internet productions. This is the most cost-effective, high volume method of mass deconversion.

The outline for this example is taken from the theoretical considerations in this work. It is as follows:

Categories of Socratic Inquiry

1.)   Inaccurate and Earth bound perspective of the Universe’s layout:

  1. Induction Fail – Confirmation Bias, seeing a pattern and generalizing it incorrectly.
    1. Helios narrative compared to Joshua’s Victory at ending of 1 and before starting 2.
  2. Agenticity – seeing purpose in everything
    1. Utnapishtim compared to Noah at ending of 1 and before starting 2.
  3. Informational Influence – everyone else is saying the wrong thing; so I’ll believe it, too
    1. Semele compared to Virgin Mary at ending of 1 and before starting 2.
  4. Insufficient Justification – Authority figures compelling others to believe a lie
    1. Use Krishna Avatar of Hari and Jesus miracles for this; recall that miracles, by their nature, will get repeated ad nausea, which has the consequence of building belief
  5. Need for Closure – substitute “I don’t know” for closure
    1. Use the eternal life narratives under “Need for Closure”. Research on this topic exists.
  6. The Power of Suggestion –  Misinformation Effect, do this LAST
    1. We have the narrative duplicate of JON –  Dionysis – and some statistics on this.

2.)   Contains laws that are either barbaric or reflect senseless prejudices or both:

  1. Use Prose Edda.
    1. Angry God uses storms to illustrate rage, compare to Noah

3.)   We can look to its origins and see, at least to a large extent, it was pieced together from pre-existing religions:

  1. Walk back through 1 and ask same “more likely than not” questions as regards plagiarism
    1. Helios narrative more likely plagiarized or is One, True God and yours is not
    2. Utnapishtim narrative more likely plagiarized or is One, True God and yours is not
    3. Zeus (Semele) narrative more likely plagiarized or is One, True God and yours is not
    4. The Instruction of Amenomope

4.)   Overt fraud usually found in archaeology or some other science that proves deliberate and/or calculated deception regarding the truth of a god:

  1. The Jahve Stone
    1. More likely fraud or that your god is The One, True God?
  2. The Birthplace of Jesus
    1. More likely fraud or that your god is The One, True God?
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