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Not much going on here at waroneaster.org, obviously. See you next year.
This site was unavailable for several hours today. Just so you know, it was not another denial of service attack. It was a problem at the web host that affected many of the host’s other customers as well.
Turns out one critic who wanted to debate the director of The God Who Wasn’t There has now retreated from his previous challenge. Brian Flemming writes:
This is a stunner. Talk about strange bedfellows.
A notorious Christian apologist named J.P. Holding has admitted that the case made in The God Who Wasn’t There is so solid that he could not refute it in a debate. He has backed out of a former debate challenge by stating:
I believe that Brian Flemming is right and that he will win any debate.
Of course, as you probably suspect, that’s not the whole story. Mr. Holding is being sarcastic in the above statement. He says that if he signed the required Statement of Belief, that would be the same thing as saying, “I believe that Brian Flemming is right.”
But that tells us a lot right there, doesn’t it?
He’s essentially said this:
If the propositions in the Statement of Belief are true, Jesus did not exist.
I don’t see how it could be read any other way. J.P. Holding is essentially admitting that without the supernatural trump card, his position loses.
No rational person familiar with the facts could disagree with the Statement of Belief. Every one of those assertions is as obvious as “Brian Flemming takes enormous glee in manipulating Christian lunatics.” The only way not to believe them is to use the magic of faith.
So, rational people rejoice. A Christian apologist has freed you to believe that Jesus didn’t exist.
And he’s admitted that if it weren’t for the crazy part of his brain, he’d believe that, too.
To read Mr. Holding’s statement, scroll all the way down at this page.
(Oh, and here’s a window, possibly, into why J.P. Holding has a fixation on my movie. Imagine that you thought your eternal happiness was dependent on the whim of a notably temperamental sky god. And now imagine this sky god Googled you. Would He understand the meaning of “Sponsored Links”?)
Brian Flemming is now considering all challenges to debate him.
The details are on his blog.
Brian Flemming shares his thoughts on the debate on his blog:
Well, in my estimation, I won the debate, although obviously it’s a bit of a hollow victory. My opponent had his blind commitment to a religious ideology tying one hand behind his brain, and that was painfully obvious throughout the discussion. So I’m not exactly surprised or jumping for joy that I beat someone who has self-crippled his capacity for reason. (Although that moment in the middle of Round 4 did give me a guilty chuckle.)
But I think I made the best of the opportunity to reach a Christian audience, given the time I had to spend on it. Maybe there’s a little more doubt in the minds of the indoctrinated now. Maybe.
Here is my totally unbiased, completely objective play-by-play/commentary:
Brian says hello to the Christian audience, and tries to portray himself as not evil.
The Calvinist asks for a detailed, 325-year timeline of early Christianity from Brian.
Brian answers with a timeline for the 1st century, as his key claims are in that period. He explains why the specifics of the rest of Christianity’s development are not crucial to the Christ myth argument.
Brian asks, “Does it matter to you whether Jesus existed?”
The Calvinist answers yes, it’s a matter of “material consequence,” but doesn’t say why.
The Calvinist invents his own summary of Brian’s claims, and, based on that straw man, asks if Brian believes that Socrates was also fictional.
Brian corrects The Calvinist’s summary, says there is better evidence for Socrates than Jesus, and identifies that better evidence.
Brian asks, “What are the ‘material consequence[s]’ if it turns out that Jesus is entirely a fictional godman character like the similar figures who were worshipped prior to the arrival of Christianity?”
The Calvinist responds with four paragraphs. The last is the only one that even partially addresses the question Brian asked. In the first paragraph, The Calvinist falsely claims that Brian’s question assumes that Jesus and prior gods are “meaningfully connected.” Brian may believe that, but the question said no such thing. The Calvinist uses this false claim as an excuse to argue against even more claims that Brian has made nowhere in the debate. In the second paragraph, The Calvinist discusses the literature of Mithraism, even though Brian has made no claims about Mithraism so far in the debate. Going even further afield in the third paragraph, The Calvinist argues for the uniqueness of the New Testament as literature. Finally, in the fourth paragraph, the shortest of the four, The Calvinist says that without the resurrection Christians are “the most pitiable of men.” In his entire answer, The Calvinist fails to list any “material consequences” of a mythical Christ.
The Calvinist asks Brian if he can find a piece of literature that has certain qualities that The Calvinist lists at length, including genre, time period, style, theme, plot events and use of historical figures.
Brian admits, “No, I cannot point you to a piece of fiction that contains every item on your menu” and explains why this hypothetical literature is in no way necessary to prove the mythicist case. Brian points out similarities that are there between Jesus and prior characters.
Brian asks The Calvinist for one example of a belief he holds on faith, rather than on “sufficient evidence.”
The Calvinist answers that his belief in the Second Coming qualifies, as it hasn’t happened yet. He also says that “faith” is more complex than Brian’s question would suggest.
The Calvinist asks virtually the same question he asked in the previous round, but raises the bar even higher this time, describing a “side-by-side” technique used most often to demonstrate plagiarism.
(NOTE: At this point, The Calvinist emails Brian and expresses a sincere desire to understand what Brian is saying about this “raising the bar” stuff. Brian responds that his answer was clear enough in the last round, and he doubts The Calvinist’s sincerity. The Calvinist volunteers that Brian can lay out the Christ Myth case in as many words as he would like, to help The Calvinist better understand the argument. Brian says he accepts the offer.)
Brian answers with a post that first details the “raising the bar” fallacy and how The Calvinist employs it. Then he lays out a version of the Christ Myth argument step-by-step, demonstrating how an analysis of the available evidence increases the probability at each step that Jesus is fictional. He finishes by demonstrating the emptiness of The Calvinist’s “raising the bar” strategy by showing that by The Calvinist’s standards even Bat Boy: The Musical could be demonstrated to have no connection to the original Bat Boy.
The Calvinist unilaterally interjects with an unscheduled rebuttal. He “clarifies” that he wasn’t asking Brian to prove plagiarism. The Calvinist wonders aloud if maybe Brian wants to stop debating now.
Brian asks how The Calvinist would persuade Bat Boy worshippers to worship Jesus instead, in a future where The Calvinist is the last Christian left.
The Calvinist answers, “I’d preach the Gospel to them, Brian,” then quickly changes the subject. He implies that Brian has ignored the influence of the Old Testament on the gospel stories (even though Brian has mentioned the Old Testament first in his list of influences in Round 2 and in Round 3). At this point, The Calvinist is literally asking himself his own questions, and he actually asks a challenging one: “What do we make of this clear use of an ancient source in creating the more recent source?” Pulling out a gun and shooting his own foot, the Calvinist answers: The similarities are all proof of “the salvation God has promised.”
The Calvinist asks what Brian finds “beneficial or worthwhile” about Christianity, offering that he thinks atheism has “a fine view of science from a pragmatic standpoint, and it has a robust body of literature and art.”
Brian answers with an explanation of what he considers to be the most positive values in Christianity — including those at the heart of his own value system — but points out that these positive values have to be extracted from the parts of the doctrine that have inspired so much evil in the past.
Brian asks if The Calvinist will be happy in Heaven, even if he knows that people are suffering in Hell.
The Calvinist dodges the question by answering instead that the suffering in Hell won’t cause him to be happy in Heaven. He leaves the real question unanswered. He then implores Brian to “turn away from sin and toward the Savior.”
The Calvinist asks Brian to give the last word, per tradition at the DebateBlog.
Well, it was kind of fun, and somewhat illuminating. As I discovered when I was looking into the JFK conspiracy community, there are always new, fascinating levels of crazy. Crazy will never let you down that way.
No, it won’t. As the Christian comments we’ll get on this thread will no doubt prove.
The debate was billed as The Calvinist vs. Brian Flemming.
But it has really turned into The Calvinist vs. The Calvinist.
If Jesus is the result of conflation of pre-existing religious stories, please produce any of those sources, without regard to genre or date – with the minor qualification that the sources predate the authorship of Mark as you have agreed to it in 70 AD. I’d be willing to give you a blank check in word count to cut-and-paste those stories here in translation, side-by-side with the passages of the NT you think use them for source material.
Vs. The Calvinist:
I found Brian’s essay here instructive in several ways, but the most interesting was his claim that I am demanding that he prove the Gospels were plagerized. In fact, I was demanding nothing of the sort.
Of course, we should expect this sort of cognitive dissonance in CalvinWorld. In CalvinWorld, a god who suffers so that you can have salvation is nothing like a god who suffers so that you can have salvation. Totally dissimilar creatures, really.
Is The Calvinist merely exhibiting the toxic effects of sincere blind faith, or is he aware of the emptiness of his arguments? Post your guess in the comments. (But be gentle–he’ll be reading your comments.)
Oh, and if you are unfamiliar with the Christ Myth argument, Brian’s latest response spells out the case. At length. And by “at length,” we mean grab refreshments. Bat Boy appears in the final act, so be ready for that.
Faithful Derridian of Princeton, NJ, writes:
I hope my battle report is not too late. I do have a good excuse, as you will see, and the “plant” was done by Easter.
So, I printed out some flyers, planning to plant them in some churches, and then plans really went awry. My wife’s water broke. So, needless to say, the mission was put on hold. I rushed my wife to the hospital, where she gave birth to my son on the following day.
Needless to say, things became rather hectic, but I did managed to slip of to the hospital chapel for some “quiet reflection.” I noticed there was a plethora of religion iconography on the alter including a Bible, a cross, a Buddha, and some various Hindu deities. I figured that would be a pretty good a place for some flyers. So, that is where they went.
Then I made it back up to my wife and son with my mission complete and without missing a single diaper change (try as I did.)
There were three of us on this mission. We printed all three flyers, cut the little ones, folded them and put them into plastic Easter eggs. In all, we distributed over 160 flyers and eggs to at least 11 churches. By the time we were finally ready to go, it was Easter eve 11:00 pm. This allowed us to leaflet the cars at the midnight mass. We taped flyers to the doors, walls, crosses, signs, and posts. We placed eggs on the playgrounds at the churches and in grassy areas used for the egg hunts. Since it was dark and time was short, we didn’t take pictures until the next day. Amazingly, some of the flyers were still up, however we did not find any eggs remaining.
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