Monday, December 15, 2008

The Book of Mormon: "I Know" versus "I Believe"

We home school our kids. So to teach them about LDS (Mormon) beliefs and history we visited many of the Mormon historical sites. We visited Palmyra, NY (Hill Cumora), Kirtland, OH, Navoo, IL, Carthage, IL, Independence, MO, and Salt Lake City, UT. We also asked the local Mormon missionaries to visit and discuss LDS beliefs. If you have ever talked to LDS missionaries or gone to a Mormon historical site you will likely have heard someone tell you "I know the Book of Mormon is true", because they asked God and He gave them a feeling that it was true. But can they honestly say that they "know the Book of Mormon is true"?

The summary statements from the video "Journey of Faith: The New World", do still sum up the situation well. There are possibilities, but no actual conclusive evidence in support of the Book of Mormon has been found to date.

But of course the same could be said of any belief system. If we have objective, conclusive evidence about something (evidence that is convincing to a reasonable skeptic) then we say we "know" something is true. But if we do not have that objective, conclusive evidence then we say that we "believe" something is true. So, by definition, no belief system has objective, conclusive proof for their beliefs. Many religions have strong feelings and experiences which support their beliefs, but feelings and experiences are not grounds for saying you "know" something is true.

Joseph Smith believed the Battle of Cumora was in New York

Here is one question to consider. How would a 19th century person interpret the discussions in the Book of Mormon concerning the Nephites and the Lamanites and where they lived? It seems clear that readers of that day, including Joseph Smith, interpreted the Book of Mormon to be saying that the Nephites and Lamanites lived in North and South America rather than in the north and south parts of central America. But DNA evidence and travel time issues seems to prohibit the possibility that the North American Indians were Lamanites (and therefore Israelite descendants). So even if evidence of civilizations in central America at about the right time is found, it would still be a problem that Heavenly Father did not reveal to Joseph Smith the correct interpretation of the Book of Mormon concerning the location of the Hill Cumora and about the North American Indians being the descendants of the Lamanites. Every Mormon should watch the video "DNA and the Book of Mormon" and then compare what is said to the rebuttals from FAIR and FARMS (The Maxwell Institute), the two leading Mormon Apologetics groups. True beliefs can only be strengthened when tested.

I've studied both Mormon and anti-Mormon literature. Many of the reasons people dismiss Mormonism are either not valid or are not conclusive. But two seemingly valid issues to consider are: 1. Is what Joseph Smith's mother wrote in her biography concerning his father's dreams and Joseph Smith Junior's stories accurate? and 2. if Heavenly Father was originally a man and all his ancestors were once a man too, then who was the first God, how did he get there and what did each God create?

Joseph Smith's Mother's Biography

In the original 1853 edition of Joseph Smith's History by his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, two passages seem to say Joseph Smith Junior and his father had information from the book of Mormon before the gold plates were actually found. Read the dream that Joseph Smith Senior had starting on page 55 of the 1908 edition of her biography and compare it to the same vision listed in the Book of Mormon in 1st Nephi Chapter 8. You must agree that both Joseph Smith Senior's dream and Lehi's dream listed in the Book of Mormon are so similar that it is highly likely they are both referencing the same dream. You can take the position that Heavenly Father gave both Joseph Smith Senior and Lehi the same dream 2450 years apart, but you have to admit that another logical possibility is that Joseph Smith Junior knew of his father's dream and added it to the book of Mormon.

Then also see the passage on page 85 of the original 1853 edition of Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith... (his mother's biography) which says:

"During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode, their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them."

Note that was before Joseph Smith Junior found the plates. So, logically, either God was giving him detailed information about the historical habits of the ancient North American Indians or Joseph Smith made up the stories and then recorded them in the book of Mormon.

How many God's have there been and what did they create?

According to the fifth LDS President, Lorenzo Snow, the LDS church teaches "As man now is God once was, and as God now is man may become". If our Heavenly Father was originally a man and all his ancestors were once a man too, then who was the first God and how did he get there (I'm not convinced by the infinite regression of Gods concept). And related to that is what exactly did Heavenly Father create, was it the universe, our galaxy or just our solar system. The official LDS Gospel Principles book says that He created the universe, but if that is the case, then what is left for the other Gods to create (I don't buy the multiverse concept)? See D&C 132:19-22 where it says men may become Gods.

A Change of Debtors is not Forgiveness

The historical Christian concept of the value of Jesus's sacrifice is that he paid our debt and then forgave us if we are willing to follow him. This concept of complete forgiveness up front seems to be in stark contrast to other religions, where some form of good works is required in order to be acceptable to God. Yet the LDS concept of the value of Jesus's sacrifice seems to be different than the historic Christian concept in this key area. The LDS concept seems to be that God was going to put us in jail (or give us spiritual death) for non-payment, but Jesus paid our debt so that we will instead repay him the full debt, but he will spread out the payments so that we can afford the repayment schedule. See the parable from Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, written in the official Gospel Principles Chapter 12.

Good People with Important Questions to Answer

I like the Mormon people I have met. They were surprisingly open and honest, even concerning the hard questions listed above. So it is good to try to get past common stereotypes and fear of people who believe differently. It is also important for each of us to take a look at the hard questions concerning our beliefs. So if you are LDS (or Community of Christ) then I hope you will do that with the questions listed above. And, even though they may not think so, atheists and agnostics have hard questions about their beliefs that they should look squarely in the face as well. So Mormonism is not the only belief system that has hard questions to answer.

For example, atheists and agnostics should consider the apparent design of physical constants. And since the human brain has the most complexity per square inch of anything we know of, does that imply the purpose of the universe may be to support human life? And can a good human society ultimately result if there is no external source of value for humanity? Also, we should consider the future implications of evolution, if it is true, such as future super-humans and that some form of social Darwinism (not racial) actually would seem to be a good thing for society in the long run (if evolution is true). So, Mormons are not the only ones who need to consider the hard questions about their beliefs.

We all look at the evidence and basically bet our lives on our best guess as to what we think is ultimately true. Family, friends, relationships and society are strong forces that usually sway people one way or another, which is why most people stay in the belief system of the social group they belong to. But ultimately we should ruthlessly follow truth, wherever that search may lead.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Answers to Religulous Questions

I went to see the movie Religulous some time ago. As a conservative Christian, I actually thought probably 90% of the approximately 167 issues raised in the movie were valid points or honest questions. But I also came away feeling that the other 10% were somewhat deceptive and/or designed to shut down discussion rather than to consider the issues objectively (that kind of content, of course, was likely included to make the movie more interesting, since the movie was intended to make fun of various religious beliefs and practices). I agree with Bill Maher that much in Christianity and religion in general is deserving of ridicule, as Isaiah ridiculed those who worship wooden idols. But I also came away thinking that a few nights of honestly searching the Internet for answers should have come up with better answers than many of those offered in the movie.

In any case, the Religulous movie does highlight some important questions that need to be addressed and answered in an easy to use format. And in some cases I'm not convinced that the popular answers are at all satisfactory, at least to me. But I didn't hear any question or insinuation in the movie which didn't have an answer that I was comfortable with believing. So, I think specifically answering all of Bill Maher's questions from the movie in one place is a beneficial (though long...) exercise and that is what I have tried to do in this post.

This was a much longer task than I first thought (167 assertions), so I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to research all the questions. There are probably more thorough answers out there to many of these particular questions and I will add and make more changes as I get time in the future. But I did think it was worth getting this full framework of discussion published so that all the issues can be addressed in one place and so it can be demonstrated that there is no assertion in the movie that does not have a reasonable answer of some kind.

Note that if you want to link to a particular answer in this post you can link to it using "" but then replace the "27" with either the number or letter of the answer you wish to link to.

Please note that I will be answering the claims against Protestant Christianity only. Catholics, Mormons, Muslims and Scientologists are better equipped to defend their own beliefs (assuming their beliefs are defensible, I will link to their posts in defense of their beliefs as I find them). It is also interesting to me that the only faiths that Bill Maher did not ridicule, or even mention, were the eastern faiths (Hindu, Buddhist, etc..). But of course a pantheist faith (everything is God) is very similar to Mr. Maher's practical atheist beliefs (there is no God). To say something is everywhere is pretty close to saying it is nowhere. And I assert that his viewpoint is one of being a "practical atheist" because every agnostic (doubter) has to live their life with the practical assumption that one of the belief systems is true, even if they have no way of knowing what is true. And for most agnostics the belief system they choose to live their life by seems to be atheism.

Here are the main web sites related to the movie:

I will list and answer the main points at issue first, then go through each point as listed chronologically in the movie, referencing these main points where appropriate:

Main Points Answered

Faith and Reason
A. Faith does not mean to suspend reason and in fact reason requires faith
All deductive logic requires initial premises which are held by inductive belief rather than reasoned out through logic. Also, our everyday existence requires us to act on both belief and reason in order to function. For example, there is no way to know for sure that an elevator isn't about to fail and fall to the ground, but we step on elevators all the time. We reason that they haven't failed very often, so they are unlikely to fail for us, which may be 99.9999% true. But it is belief that bridges the gap from 99.9999% to be effectively 100% and allows us to step on the elevator. So, faith and reason are intertwined and we can't get away from using both.

B. Doubt (Agnosticism) still requires effectively practicing a faith

We all have to live our life based on foundational assumptions that we can not (or at least do not take the time to) prove. In fact, each of us use faith in something every minute of our lives. I have faith that my house will not fall down, that the elevator I step in will not fall, that Mars is still there, etc.. when I have no direct first hand evidence that any of those beliefs are accurate. Instead I rely on probability based on what I see happening to other people and based on what I am told by "experts". So, we all have lots of faith, the question is what is appropriate to put our faith in.

If I have doubt that I can ever know something in particular, and if my life choices would change depending on the answer to the question that I cannot know, I still have to choose which way to live my life. Basically, even if the answer is a toss up, I still have to throw the dice and make a choice. So, someone who calls themselves agnostic still has to live there lives either as if no god exists or as if some form of god exists. Doubting doesn't get around the fact that we have to make choices to live our life based on some religious (or non-religious) assumptions, even if we think there is no way to make a good choice. So, even agnostics, in practice, have to choose their beliefs.

C. God is hiding himself, like a billionaire might hide his wealth when looking for a mate
It seems that the main plot of the Bible is how to give free choice while still ending up with a society where people always will choose what it right. If God were to display his power in front of us we would naturally want to submit out of fear, if for no other reason. But it seems God wants to give people the ability to choose whether to follow him or not, without intimidation. That way we each can determine for ourselves whether we want to follow God, without being influenced by his power. That would seem to be similar to a billionaire looking for a mate. They would be prudent to temporarily hide their wealth from potential mates so that they will not want to marry just for the wealth. In the same way, God is hiding himself from us in order to give us a more truly free choice, in a way the angels never had. See Is 45:15 and Psalm 10:1,4

D. There are good logical reasons to believe in God
The Bible says that we can know God exists because that is evident in the design of nature (Rom 1:18-22). But if a Creator exists, then man would need to submit to the Creator. So, Humans have a conflict of interest when it comes to determining whether God exists or not. In many cases people choose to believe that something can be created from nothing (a logical impossibility unless you redefine the term "nothing") rather than believe in something that has always existed and has the power to create everything else.

Law and Justice
E. Just laws and strong governments are better than libertarianism
Libertarianism says that people should be able to do what they want as long as it doesn't hurt other people. But the problem is that some acts benefit people in the short term but then hurt those same people and others in the long term, and other things seem good at first glance but actually have a devastating effect on people and others.

I don't feel like I need to regulate my kids to tell them not to touch a hot stove. They will only do that once and the pain they will get will not kill them. But if I have a bathtub full of boiling water, I do need to restrict them from getting anywhere near the bath tub, since one slip could severely affect them or even end their lives. And I don't let my kids eat candy all the time because I know candy tastes good at first but isn't good for them in the long term. So, there are some areas where complete freedom is desirable, but there are other areas where external limitations benefit people more than they hurt people.

Also, we are social creatures by nature so many things that we think only affect individuals actually can affect society. Even in the case where someone only kills themselves and thinks they are not harming anyone else, someone else has to bury them and dispose of their assets.

So, rules, laws, commandments, best practices, recommendations, rules of etiquette, etc.. seem to be necessary from outside sources in cases where we may be in danger of having problems occur and do not know it, or where we may be drawn to an initial benefit that hurts us and/or others later. And whether something should be enforced by law or only be recommended, like etiquette, depends on the social compact that is agreed upon by the majority in the society. That social compact should seek for the greatest good for the most people rather than going to the lowest common denominator.

Critiques Of Libertarianism

F. God's laws and morality makes sense
If God's laws were actually followed then many of the problems of the world would go away. The Bible includes a direct welfare system (no government overhead) where the recipients still had to work for their wages. It had a limit on lifetime borrowing that would keep debt from being passed from one generation to the next (something that would have benefited our next generation...). Israel was never taught to seek to dominate the world like some of their neighbors did (Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome), but rather they were taught to do what it takes to keep their society together and maintain their high standards (a teaching which has served them well for several thousand years).

And the strict punishments listed in the Bible were likely more moral than our current laws, in aggregate. Which is more "caring", having some harsh laws such as the death penalty that no one breaks, or having lenient laws such as prison and fines that millions of people have to pay? Because of our backgrounds, we assume that if there was a harsh penalty that lots of people would be paying that penalty. We can't conceive of a society where almost everyone obeys the laws... So, part of the problem in American society is that we have been so "caring" that we have come close to giving up the concepts of strong law and justice as being foundational to a good society.

God and the Death Penalty

G. "Judging" is necessary and good
"Do not judge" is just one of the Biblical concepts that has been taken out of context and made to mean almost the opposite of what was intended. Look at what the author is saying in Mat 7:1-5. Actually they are saying, don't be hypocritical when you judge. First judge yourself with the same standard, then judge others.

"Judging" is required and good. That is why one book of the Bible is called "Judges"... If we are to refrain from making judgments, how can we discriminate between good and bad in any area of life?

1 Cor 6:1-5 Christians should be able to be wise judges of other Christians
John 7:24 Judge with righteous judgment
The cult of “Do not Judge”

Reliability of the Bible

H. The Bible is more reliable than any other book that old
The Bible has more transcripts than any other book of that time period. The transcripts agree on the essentials of the Christian faith. Other contradictory books were written decades or centuries later and have an obvious bias based on who wrote them (usually gnostics).
1 Peter 1:16 - some where eyewitnesses
Luke 1:1-4 - the writer talked to the eyewitnesses and was careful to relay the truth of the eyewitness accounts.
Craig-Ehrman debate on Resurrection of Jesus
Is the Bible Reliable

I. Just because something is mentioned without comment in the Bible doesn't mean that it is recommended or supported by the Bible.
The Bible relates much history without comment. The assumption is that the reader is a person who is familiar with other parts of the Bible who therefore would be able to make their own judgments about what is good or bad. So, just because the Bible tells of something bad that happened does not necessarily mean that the Bible approves of what happened.

J. The Bible is accurate where it touches on natural science
We talk about how the sun rises and the sun sets without implying that the sun is going around the earth. Similarly, the Bible talks from an earth centered perspective without contradicting anything in science. Also, the Bible talks about many of the natural concepts that we study using the scientific method today.

Scientific Accuracies of the Bible
Science or the Bible?
Creation: Science Confirms the Bible Is True (Video)

K. If a creator God exists, then He should likely be able to do anything that is logically doable, even "miracles"
The definition of miracles is something that is unexplained and isn't repeatable. So, by definition, miracles can not be analyzed by the scientific method, which requires repeatability. It would seem to be much easier to change things that already exist than to create things out of nothing. So, if a creator God exists who made everything, then it would seem that God should also be able to do anything He wanted to. And the things that He did which He did not set to repeat on queue would naturally be called miracles. So, if a creator God exists that intervenes sometimes with this world, then we would expect miracles to occur.

L. If something the Bible says sounds wrong, it may be our understanding that is incorrect.
For most of us, the Bible explains many concepts that we did not understand before reading the Bible. So, when we come upon something that doesn't seem to make sense, then we should give the Bible the benefit of the doubt. Also, since God, almost by definition, can do whatever He wants, we can't necessarily use the improbability of an occurrence to discredit the reliability of the Bible.

Specific Questions relating to Bible accuracy
M. The Jesus story is not a copy of the story of other gods
This is an area where Bill Maher really should have done his homework...
Doesn't the religion of Mithra prove that Christianity is false?
links between Krisha and Jesus
Why December 25th?
Aren’t there some striking parallels between the Jesus and Horus stories?

N. Homosexuality is not natural, marriage is natural and is the foundational organization
The evidence of a genetic predisposition to being gay is sketchy at best. But, even if there were a predisposition in some people, that does not make the behavior any less problematic. If people have a predisposition to anger or depression, it does not mean that we should allow them to become violent or depressed without working to end the inappropriate actions.

Marriage is supposed to be "one adult male and one adult female sharing everything for life". Many heterosexuals have given up on the "for life" part, substituting instead the concept that the marriage contract is only valid as long as "love" exists. Now we are considering giving up the "male and female" part of the definition. In the future some may rethink the "adult" and the "one" concepts as well. Maybe the Mormons previous views on polygamy will become more in vogue in the future... But, the point is that the reason for marriage is to make a stable unit to bring up children and to protect the married couple themselves. Society has incurred a significant cost already as the concept of marriage has changed, which is why the proposed additional changes seem to not be as big of a problem as it once would have been.
Lev 18:22-24, Lev 20:13, Gen. 19:4 -13, Jude 7, 2 Peter 2:6, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:8-10, Rom. 1:26-28
Ex-gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation
Homosexuality and Mental Health Problems
Homosexual Theology

O. Significant problems with believers and the church (and the existence of evil in general) do not disprove the existence of God, in fact the Bible warns there will be such problems with the church.
In fact, most of what Paul writes is addressing problems in the church.

Why we are here, why there is evil
P. God has an overall goal that is best, even though it includes terrible evil and problems. Free choice requires evil to exist.
Love seems to require free choice because it cannot be coerced. But free choice implies the ability to choose badly, especially for people who will live on (after death in our case) for the foreseeable future. So, giving Adam and Eve free choice would seem that over the long term, they and their descendants would tend to choose badly in most every way imaginable. Evil would seem to be caused as a byproduct of love and free choice. So, how would you resolve that dilemma? It appears that God's answer was first to pay the price and show the way of how to live without choosing wrong: by sacrificing yourself. Then ultimately, he allows free choice but separates out those who choose to follow him (i.e., and choose what is right) from those who ultimately choose to follow themselves. That way he can have a city with people who still have free choice but that will also choose right, even for the foreseeable future.
Salvation misses the point

Truth and Religion
Q. Just because some religions are untrue does not mean all are untrue, and in fact at most only one can be true in their core beliefs
It is not rational to believe that contradicting concepts are each true in the same way, so more than one religion (each of which contradict each other) cannot be true. But that does not mean that none of the religions are true, you just have to evaluate all of them (including atheism) and choose the one that you think is most likely true.

R. The search for truth in religion is not detrimental to humanity.
- The search for truth is always a good thing because we have to first accurately understand the world around us before we can even hope to make good choices. The problem is not with the search for truth but rather when people believe they have found truth but are actually believing something that is not true. Truth by it's very nature is exclusive. There can be only one item that is true (and good) but there can be thousands of competing items that are false (and harmful).

S. Christianity is better for society than atheism
- Christianity has similar benefits as government, except it can cause people to focus on their internal motives better than the state can. Also, our living under our government is only temporary, while we live, but living under the government of God goes on forever. So, Christianity gives transcendent value to law, justice and morality.

Each issue listed in order discussed in the movie

1. I hate prophesy (assumes prophesy is never true) - K, It is right to hate false prophesy, which is what the overwhelming majority of prophesies are. But if there is a God who can fully control the present world, He would be able to know the future by his complete control of the present. So, if an all controlling God exists, then it would be expected that He could know the future and could tell some people.

2.Religion is detrimental to the progress of humanity - R, False beliefs can be detrimental, but true beliefs are, of course, beneficial. And even in religions that may be false, self sacrifice, good attitudes, and submission to proper authority are some of the key attributes that most of those religions work to obtain in their followers, which should be seen as beneficial to society.

3. Religion is selling an invisible product - D,

4. People will make up any story and cling to it - A,

5. They believe that on Sunday they are drinking the blood of a 2000 year old god - That is a reference to the Catholic belief in transubstantiation, a belief that most Protestants do not agree with.

6. They call me the seeker (music) - B, Doubting is not true "seeking", A true seeker understands their failure to be what they should be - "I won't get what I'm after until the day I die."

7. Circumcision
was strange when first introduced - L, Circumcision would have likely been seen as an appropriate symbol that people would naturally remember any time they considered relations outside of appropriate natural boundaries.

Our Lady of Mercy Church - Park Ridge, NJ (Bill Maher’s Sister Kathy Maher and Mother Julie Maher, at the Maher’s childhood Church)

8. Church was boring - O, Many churches are boring. Learning and following concepts in the Bible may be hard work, but doing that is not boring.

9. Required birth control is a good reason to leave Christianity - F, Most Protestant Christians allow birth control. But, following God sometimes requires us to give up that which may look like something good. Birth control enabled the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the disintegration of a large percentage of marriages, causing more abortions and single parent families. So, the Catholic church may have a valid point about the social problems associated with birth control and the related attitudes towards children and marriage.

Truckers Chapel/Truck Stop Ministries - Raleigh, NC - Reverend Joe Copeland

10. "Original Sin" is not in the Bible - 1 Cor 15:21-22, Rom 5:12-21, The concept of "Original Sin" is in the Bible at least in the sense that if Adam had not sinned, his descendants would not have died.

11. The "Immaculate Conception" is not in the Bible - This is a Roman Catholic view that is not held by Protestants.

12. Virgin Birth is only in two of the Gospels - Matt 1:18-25, Luke 1:1-4,26-38, Is 7:8-8:4 The verse in Isaiah is referring to Maheer-shalal-hash-baz, but Jesus is also referred to by this verse since a little later in Is 9:2-6 it also refers to a future son but that doesn't seem to be fulfilled back in old testament times. Also, note that Mary would likely not go around telling everyone about the virgin birth since most people would not believe her and there would have been no way to prove the virgin birth. Note the verses that imply that Mary and Jesus were keeping some things about Jesus to themselves:

Mat 1:19 Joseph initially planned to keep the virgin birth a secret and not marry Mary, but he changed his mind and married her, but he may still have kept the virgin birth a secret
Luke 2:19, 51 Mary treasured and pondered these things in her heart
Mat 8:3-4 Jesus sometimes wanted people he healed to keep it a secret from being general knowledge

The only people it would make sense to tell would be people who already believed he was the messiah. And it is possible that he didn't even tell the disciples. If that is the case then it is possible that some of the Gospel writers only found out about the virgin birth by talking with Mary herself. Luke said he did careful research in compiling his book, so it would make sense that he would talk to Mary and get the whole story.

So, it may be that Matthew and Luke interviewed Mary for their books whereas the other two writers did not. Note that the other two writers not only did not mention the virgin birth but did not mention Jesus' birth or childhood at all. That is at least one plausible answer to the question of why two of the gospel writers did not mention the virgin birth.

Another possible, related, answer might be if Mark and John were trying to be more evangelistic and did not want to start off their gospels with a miraculous event that was unverifiable.

The virgin birth could not have been parthenogenesis reproduction, like that found in some animals on rare occasions. Since the female only has female chromosomes, Jesus would have to be a female.

13. Popes are not in the Bible - That is a Catholic belief that Protestants do not share.

14. Response: Shroud of Turin had female blood from a male figure - I can't find any references to this and so this is obviously incorrect.

15. Response (Copland): Christianity... it's a faith thing - A, Yes, but we choose what we believe in based on the probabilities of it being true versus the probability of it being not true. So, we still should be able to articulate in a convincing way why we choose to believe Christianity.

16. Response: Changing from Satanism to Christianity is proof that God exists - Just because someone switches their beliefs to Christianity does not make it true.

17. Drugs and Prostitution are O.K. - E, Individual and social problems are caused by drug abuse and Prostitution.

18. Response: What if we are right and you are wrong (hedge your bets) - Chosen beliefs should be determined based on which set of beliefs is more likely to be true given the evidence, regardless of the benefits or drawbacks of accepting those beliefs.

Quote: "Yea, you could be right. I don’t think it is very likely. But yes you could be right because my big thing is I don’t know. That is what I preach. I preach the gospel of “I don’t know”. That is what I am here promoting, doubt. That is my product. The other guys are selling certainty. Not me. I’m on the corner with doubt."

19. Doubt is different than religion - B, Doubt is a belief system, too, that requires someone to live as if one of the other belief systems were true, and that chosen belief system is usually Atheism.

Carnegie Institution Auditorium - Washington, DC - Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute

20. It hasn't been proven that Jesus existed - H, All we have is historical literary evidence, but we have more literary evidence that Jesus existed than any other ancient person.

21. The Bible writers were not eye witnesses, nobody who wrote the gospels ever met Him - H, 1 Peter 1:16 - some were eyewitnesses. In Luke 1:1-4 the writer talked to the eyewitnesses and was careful to relay the truth of the eyewitness accounts. So, Bill Maher assumes the Bible is not accurate in what it is saying in order to prove his point that the Bible is not accurate...

22. The Bible doesn't tell us what Jesus was doing as a young man - I'm not sure why that matters since it would likely be a typical Jewish upbringing.

23. The Gospels are not history - H, The gospels claim to be accurate history.

24. The people who wrote the new testament read the old testament and made the prophecies fit
- H, Perhaps, but no evidence is given other than the assumption that prophecies cannot come true. In fact this is an admission that Jesus' life did fulfill prophecies listed in the old testament...

25. The Bible is fictitious - H,

26. The Bible texts don't match - H, No discrepancies change the core doctrines, and you would expect some discrepancies from different eyewitnesses.

27. Important items, like the Virgin Birth, are not in all four gospels - The claim of virgin birth is not something that people would broadcast or that could be proven. So, it would seem natural that this would not be a widely known assertion. See my more in depth answer under item 12

28. "..being without faith is something that’s a luxury for people who are fortunate enough to have a fortunate life" - A fortunate life allows people to not have to think through the hard questions of life, but even fortunate people will unfortunately die one day. So, in that sense no one is fortunate...

29. How could smart people... believe in the talking snake.. - K,L, Obviously, the snakes of today do not have vocal cords or the mental ability to be able to talk. But we do have other evidence in the Bible that bad angels can inhabit animals, and there may have been ways to communicate without normal speech (but that is just speculation). The point is, that if the Bible is true and God created everything, even something as unlikely as this cannot be ruled out.

30. How could smart people... believe in... people that live to 900 years old...
- K,L, Why do we live only 80-100 years now? It is not inconceivable that in a different environment with a better genetic makeup that men might live longer, like some animals.

31. How could smart people... believe in... the virgin birth. - K,L, How can scientists believe the universe created itself out of nothing? How can scientists believe in the twin paradox and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics? It seems that religion has no corner on believing what seems to be unbelievable. Also, see my analysis of the virgin birth under item 12.

32. Religion turns into burning people alive, really evil s..t - O, So do ideologies of all kinds, not just religion.

33. Televangelists seeking money discredits Christianity (video clips) - O,

34. What do you think it says about religion and how serious it is if you can be a minister at 10 - O,

Ezra Conference Center - Raleigh, NC - Jeremiah Cummings Amazing Life World Outreach

35. Rock Stars are similar to religious figures, they both dress in elaborate costumes that get people's attention (fine clothes) - O, The clothes shouldn't matter one way or another, but the message should matter.

36. Response (Cummings): When he was born they brought him gold, Jesus was not poor - There is no indication that Jesus had any significant money.

37. Response (Cummings): Jesus dressed very well, he wore fine linen - There is no indication that Jesus' clothes were any better than anyone else.

38. Response (Cummings): Jesus does not preach against rich people - He does say that it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But, then he says that with God it is possible for them to be saved.

39. Response (Cummings): Now things like houses and cars and clothes and money, they come as a result of my seeking God first - Money comes from bringing value to others. The problem with giving money in the Christian context is that the money is given based on the givers requirement to give, not necessarily how much value they are getting from the Church. So, in that case the pastor should be regulated by the church to not abuse the money they receive.

40. (Cummings) Turn your passion to God and see what happens (video of a terrorist blowing a car up) - O,

41. St. Paul only owned the clothes on his back - There is no indication of that.

42. The Bible doesn't have much morality because Lot (a good person) offered up his daughters to be raped instead of angels -I,

43. God hates fags (video) - O, No he does not, but he does think that homosexuality is an "abomination". Lev 18:22-24

44. Response: The Bible isn't against Homosexuality, that is what the Bible means to say - Lev 18:22-24, Lev 20:13, Gen. 19:4 -13, Jude 7, 2 Peter 2:6, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim 1:8-10, Rom. 1:26-28

Calvary Assembly Exchange Ministries – Winter Park, FL - Pastor John Westcott

45. Man wrote the Bible, Nature made Gay people, The Gay Gene has been found - N, See Homosexual Theology for a discussion of the evidence for a "Gay Gene". But even if there is a genetic predisposition in some people, that does not make the behavior any less problematic. If people have a predisposition to anger or depression, it does not mean that we should allow them to become violent or depressed without working to end the inappropriate actions.

American University biology lab, Washington, DC - Dr. Dean Hamer, author of The God Gene

46. All of the prescriptions against homosexuality come from the old testament.
Jesus never
said a word about homosexuality. If it is so important, why didn’t he ever bring it up? - He didn't need to since the society which He was in already agreed that this was a condemned practice.

47. But what is your explanation for the millions and millions of people around the world who are leading homosexual lives, have no interest in anyone of the opposite sex… - N, Actually, there is indication that most homosexuals have at least some interest in bisexuality.

48. Gay people are secure in themselves - N, Sometimes people act secure when inside they are not.

49. Gay people are happy, they are called Gay, some of them look positively thrilled - N, Sometimes people act secure when inside they are not.

50. Christians should not judge Gay people by saying they are "people who are really incomplete in who they are as men or women" - G, The Bible isn't against judging. It is just against judging incorrectly.

51. You can tell people are Gay because they look Gay (good looking, neat, Little Richard) - N, Looks and actions may also make someone think they are gay, so the looks may be a contributing factor to the action, rather than an indication of a genetic predisposition.

52. When he was 17 and was dumped and sad, he was very vulnerable - thought a force was out there that was communicating through song lyrics or numerology, You make up an imaginary friend who loves you and who is sympathetic with you and has a plan for you. He didn't have to love me, he just had to be working for me, like an agent - O,

Liturgical Apostolate Center - Boston, MA - Steve Burg, Ex-Jew for Jesus

53. Highly unlikely coincidences after prayer are not evidence for God - C,

54. Believing Santa Claus flying around the world in one night is ridiculous, but one man hearing everybody murmuring to him at the same time, that I get. - K,

55. If Heaven is a better place, why don't you kill yourself - P, Our place is on earth, either this earth or the new earth talked about in Revelations. A common misconception is that our final destination as Christians is Heaven, when actually that is a temporary location and our final location is on the new earth. So, we are made to stay in this world, and killing ourselves would be sending us prematurely to the holding place just to return to the new earth.

56. Jonah could not have lived inside a big fish for three days - K, Whales and big fish have swallowed animals whole as large as people, so even without miraculous intervention the story of Jonah is physically possible.

57. Response (Berg): if you don't believe in miracles, that doesn't mean they do not exist - K,

58. Two things that are completely incompatible are Christianity as Jesus taught it
and Nationalism -

59. Response (John McCain): The constitution established the
United States of America as a Christian nation -

60. A lot of books for the founding fathers that explicitly say that we are not a Christian nation -

Jefferson Memorial – Washington, DC - Ray Suarez author of The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America

61. Jefferson took out all of Jesus' Miracles and all the verses that talk about Jesus' divinity -

62. In Jefferson's age fewer people went to church less often

63. 16% of Americans are unaffiliated with any religion from a pew poll -

Senate Office Building - Washington, DC - Senator Mark Pryor Democrat from Arkansas

64. Response (Senator): Why is faith good? Faith has a way of softening people, for example Jesus is very forgiving -

65. Jesus also said: If a man does not abide in me he is cast forth as a branch and withers and is gathered and thrown in the fire and burned. -

66. Response (Senator): We’ll let God sort out all the details at judgment day -

67. Are the ten commandments really the ten most moral teachings? That is not really a wise list of ten. - Actually when you understand the purpose of the 10 commandments and the purpose of the three groupings of commandments within the 10, then they make sense as a universal framework from which to interpret all other laws.

Commandments 1-3 and 5 concern respecting authorities. In the theocracy of Israel, the two authorities were God (and His representatives) and Parents. If Israel followed other gods (in that society they would have made idols for the other god), or said they followed the one true God but did not follow his commandments (taking on His name in vain), then they would lose the foundational reason why they decided to follow the Mosaic laws in the first place.

The 4th commandment, keeping the Sabbath day holy, insures that people have time to think and reflect on creation and how to maintain a "very good" world. If people are tired out from working all the time, they never will have the time or energy to learn about laws or to think about self discipline and the larger goals of life.

Commandments 6-8 concern maintaining boundaries between people. People have a right not be be murdered, to have a life long monogamous partner of the opposite sex, and a right to keep the property they make or trade for. These are the foundations of Criminal and Civil law.

The 9th commandment, "Do not bear false witness against your neighbor", is the foundation of law enforcement since reliance on witnesses is a pre-requisite for valid judgments concerning law enforcement.

The 10th commandment, "Do not covet...", is the last commandment for a good reason: it is the only one of the ten commandments that talks about attitude rather than just actions. Attitudes are the source of action, so the main focus of these laws is not the laws themselves, but to get the right attitudes that cause people to understand the reason for these laws in the first place and the desire to follow them.

The more summarized form of the ten commandments is: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:36-40). That reflects the two major themes of the 10 commandments: to give authority and others their rightful place in creation.

68. First four are all about just worshiping God and that he is a jealous God. - Worship is giving value and honor where honor is due. In a sense, we worship whatever we assign value to, but what we call "worship of God" is to give Him ultimate value and honor. As for God being "jealous", the head of any government is "jealous" of other governments taking over the leadership of their people.

69. Only two that are really laws are don’t steal and don’t kill. Why is this the wisest group of ten, it doesn't include Child Abuse, don’t torture, rape? It doesn't include a lot of things that I think if we were making a list today we would include. - The ten commandments are a framework that does in fact include, in concept, the laws that are listed as missing. Rape involves committing adultery. Murder is the extreme case of abuse and so is easy to list in a summary. Child abuse and torture need to be defined, otherwise people could claim abuse when any force is used, so those are not appropriate for a summary framework of laws.

70. Response (Senator): Society is so different today and our culture is so radically different -
As a framework for all the following Mosaic laws, the 10 commandments are a very good summary, encapsulating all the key concepts of the legal system itself. And, if you understand that they were written for a theocracy and you translate the concepts to a democracy, then the 10 commandments are still the best summary of a legal system around.

Note that you can summarize down to fewer commandments, or you can expand the summary to more line items, or even to hundreds or thousands of laws and each would be valid. The question is how much of a summary of the legal system you want to have. The legal system could be summarized in one commandment: "do what is right", but of course to have meaning that needs to be expanded, which is why our legal system is so complex.

71. Can you think of anything else we still cling to from the bronze age. - yes, we still farm, eat, have transportation, communicate, write, etc... And, yes, we still have a legal system similar in concept to what Israel had.

72. Murder is against the law in every country in the world - Yes, so is honoring the government and other authorities, and respecting the rights and property of others, just as summarized in the 10 commandments.

73. Wouldn't we have come to that even without religion - Yes. A true "Religion" is only listing what is actually true and "natural", it is just that the things we do not understand we give the label "supernatural". If we understood those things we would label them as "natural".

74. There has been more killing in the name of our god - O, Killing only occurs when people can't control others to get what they want in other ways. Cain killed Abel because he wanted God to be happy with him the same as with Abel, but, irrationally, he thought killing was the best way to get that. The Bible shows that people should be given free choice, since God gave Adam and Eve free choice. People kill in the name of their god because they want others to follow their god and they can't think of any other way to get that to happen. But that same thing also happens with people wanting others to follow their philosophy, like Fascism and Communism.

It is interesting that the Bible does not say to kill others that do not believe in the God of Israel. The killing in the Bible seems to be to clear out the land from the influence of other governments, to respect the rule of law and to protect the innocent from how law breakers would change their society.

75. Response (Senator): More primitive cultures were constantly at war.

76. The modern nations are constantly at war too (video) - He mixes up national war and individual murder.

77. Response (Senator): Waffles on creation/evolution. - K,

78. It worries me that people are running my country who believe in a talking snake. - K,

79. Response (Senator): You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the senate. -

Creation Museum, Petersburg, KY - Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis

80. Response (Ken Ham): In a nutshell we are saying the Bible is true, from Genesis to Revelations. - K, H ,

81. Response (Ken Ham): If you believe in evolution the woman had to come from an ape woman. -

82. Response (Ken Ham): Dinosaurs lived with humans. -

83. Response (Kirk Cameron): To be able to reason with people, learn to circumnavigate or go around the person’s intellect - Go to 19:50 and watch to 23:30 into the video to see this clip in context

84. It would have to be an enormous conspiracy going on between scientists of all different disciplines in all different countries to have such a consensus (for evolution). -

85. Response (Ken Ham): Man is a sinner. Man is in rebellion against his creator. All these scientists are sinners. -

86. Response (Father Coyne): John Paul said Evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis, Current Popes Statement on Evolution -

87. Response (Ken Ham): Why is man coexisting with Dinosaurs important to your salvation or your morality. If we don't believe one part of the Bible, why should we believe the rest of the Bible - S,

88. Response (Father Coyne): Modern science came to be later than when the Bible was written so there can not be any science in scripture. The scriptures are not teaching science. - E, Just because the scientific method was delineated later, does not negate the fact that, if it is a true account given from God himself, the Bible should be accurate in it's natural history (science). That would still be the case even if the text was "dumbed down" to be able to discuss the subject with people who didn't know about the scientific method.

St. Raphael’s Parish Center, Raleigh, NC - Father George V. Coyne Director Emeritus Vatican Observatory

89. Response (Father Coyne): It is very hard for me to accept not just a literal interpretation of scripture but a fundamentalist approach to religious belief. Fundamentalist belief is kind of a plague. It presents itself as science but it is not - S, If the Bible isn't accurate about natural history, why should we believe it when it talks about other topics. And if the genesis story was not meant to be taken as history, what other parts of the Bible should not be taken literally either? Jesus thought Adam and Eve were literal people.

90. God is working in ways we sometimes do not understand. Isn't that a cop out? He is God. Are you God? - L,

91. Got thrown out of the Vatican - tactic of not notifying before showing up -

92. Flying nun reference - mixing of fiction and nonfiction -

93. Does that look like anything, like anything Jesus Christ had in mind – the Vatican. Response: If I were the boss I wouldn’t be living there. -

Vatican (Father Reginald Foster, Senior Vatican Scholar and Principal Latinist for the Pope)

94. Response (Foster): Roasting in Hell. That is all gone. That's all finished. - That is an interesting new change in Catholic doctrine...

95. Response (Foster): Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas. These are all nice stories you know. - Agreed, the date was chosen to overlap an existing pagan festival. But that doesn't have any bearing on whether Jesus actually existed or not.

96. Response (Foster): Jesus was sixth on the list who people pray to in Italy. Looks like it isn’t monotheistic. Talk about cafeteria Catholics. - O,

97. Response (Foster): You can’t convince people. Let people die with their stupid ideas. - If I had that idea, I wouldn't be writing this blog... The Bible seems to indicate that we should put forward what we believe to be true to people, then if they decide to believe otherwise, that is their prerogative.

98. Analogy: A space man zaps a virgin who has a son who is also him w
ho goes on a suicide mission - The flaw in this analogy is that the "space man" actually created the earth and the virgin. And there is no such thing as a suicide mission since everyone gets raised again after they die, for judgment.

A better analogy might be a rich king creates a stadium and has his people try out to see who are worthy citizens to live with him in his royal city. His standards are extremely high, so it turns out that none of his people are making the grade. So he sends his son to sneak into the stadium and show the people how to do it. His standards are so high that the his son actually dies doing what is right, and the people who want to make the grade also have to be willing to die. But the king can bring people back to life, so actually no one comes to an end because of these tests (but he lets them think they will come to an end to see who will be willing to die).

99. If when you were a kid they transposed the Bible stories with fairy tales you would know the difference as an adult? If they told you Jack and the Bean Stalk was religion and that a man lived in a whale was a fairy tale quote. Would you be defending the one and not the other? - The difference here is whether the story is true or not and that is what he is trying to establish, so this argument assumes the result it is trying to prove

100. Eve being made out of a rib. -

101. Jesus is just alright with me - music - It is a little dangerous to have someone dress up like Jesus because people might assume they are saying what Jesus would say. The real Jesus would probably have had better answers...

Holy Land Experience - Orlando, FL - Employee Acting as Jesus

102. Why doesn’t he just obliterate the devil and therefore get rid of evil in the world? Response (Jesus Actor): He will. - P,

103. What is he waiting for? Response (Jesus Actor): A day
is like a thousand years for God. He is so far beyond any of our ways. - P,

104. What was the holocaust, why was that good? Response (Jesus Actor): God has a plan for that. It is like explaining to an ant how a TV works. - P, We will all die, it is just a matter of how.

105. Wicked witch sounds when public relations coordinator comes - It is polite to let people know when you will be shooting a video on their property, but of course they were probably afraid that they would not be let in since the video is somewhat adversarial to Christian beliefs.

106. No other gods before me, that's not moral, it is just
something a jealous God would do. That seems so un-godlike. I know people who have gotten over jealousy. - That is moral. Think of it like when one government says if you want to keep being a citizen, it will not allow you to work for a competing government within it's borders. The term jealous has a broader meaning than being implied here.

107. (Jesus Actor) It's two sides of a coin. He is a just God and He's also a merciful God. There are books of the Bible about God wiping out people. His ways are higher than ours -

108. (Jesus Actor) God put this God sized hole in your life, you can fill it with drugs, sex, anything you want, it is not going to fill it.. Can I try? You can try if you want, but you will end up hurting yourself and damaging yourself and burning yourself out.

109. I thought Christ was about not judging people, isn't that a judgment there? You don't even know me but you are saying I have a hole in my heart. Response: No, I'm saying anyone in general
- G,

110. If I was God I would create people without the hole to begin with. - That is like saying if I were an automaker I would make a car that gets a million miles to the gallon and you never need to change the oil and that it could fly to work as well. The hole is there by design and it is a little presumptuous to think that, if there is a Creator, we can recommend a better design. And as a corollary: thinking we could make a better design is not good evidence that there is no Creator. If you can actually make a better design rather than thinking you could, that might be better evidence that no Creator actually exists...

111. (Jesus Actor) Have you ever had a little small voice in the back of your mind say some things. That's not God, that is you - Agreed, if there is no objective way, at least to that individual, to determine whether it is God speaking to you or whether it is just yourself, we have to make inference to the most likely cause which is just our own thinking.

112. (Jesus Actor) Holy spirit is like the wind - Agreed, but that is not evidence that God exists.

113. It’s a monotheistic religion, but there is three of them. Space God and sends himself on a suicide missions, he's God, he has a kid, he’s a single parent, it’s just silly. - See the answer and better analogy on item 98.

114. Your bio was something that was going around the Mediterranean for at least a 1000 years before Christ -

115. 1000 BC Krishna: carpenter, born of a virgin, baptized in a river - There are no credible links between Krisha and Jesus

116. 600 BC Persian God Mithra: Born December 25th, performed miracles, resurrected on the 3rd day, the lamb, the way, the truth, the light, the savior, messiah - Doesn't the religion of Mithra prove that Christianity is false? - The short answer is no. Many of the concepts associated with Mithra were post-Christian, and they were all post-Judaism. Since the concepts ascribed to Jesus can be directly derived from the old testament, there are no grounds to say these concepts were derived from Mithra worship, and in fact the opposite could be the case.

117. Response (Jesus Actor): I don't go by that, I go by the word of God - Good, but not good enough... We need to be able to give an answer for why we believe the Bible is true, which includes external proofs as well as internal proofs that the Bible is accurate and true.

118. Many of the gods were born on December 25th (So the story of Jesus was copying others) - Why December 25th? - Because the Christian church wanted to overlap a day that the pagans already used to worship another god, to make it easy for them to switch to Christianity. So, there is a good reason why the birth of Mithra and Jesus are celebrated on the same day. They were hoping that the celebration of Jesus' birth would replace the celebration of Mithra.

119. Horus: Egyptian God similarities list on screen - Son of Osiris, virgin mother, Aup the Baptizer, beheaded, temped in the desert, crown of thorns, walked on water, Asus means Lazarus, crucified and raised - Aren’t there some striking parallels between the Jesus and Horus stories? In short, the answer is,"no." Bill Maher's team should have done some more homework here...

120. (Jesus Actor) What if you are wrong and this isn't all made up? -

121. Believing in Jesus with the virgin birth and the dove and the snake that talks in the garden is like believing in Scientology -

122. Religions have to get crazier to keep up - K,

123. Religion is a neurological disorder. There are some very specific changes in the brain when people are meditating or praying or even speaking in tongues - First. in 1 Cor 14 Paul is arguing that people should seek to do better things rather than to try to speak in tongues. If the foreign tongues were actually understandable that would be profitable but, since that is not the case here, Christians should desire to do better things with their time and energy. Also, the practice of "centering prayer" is not really prayer at all but a controversial practice (in protestant Christianity) of clearing the mind, similar to what Buddhists do in their meditations. So, none of these practices studied are recommended by most protestant Christians (though the practice of centering prayer is growing).

Protestant Christians have historically recommended rational practices such as prayer and Bible study (assuming God exists and the Bible is accurate) rather than irrational practices such as clearing the mind and practicing rituals to improve our standing with God.

Secondly, Dr. Newberg only says that these practices show neurologically different patterns. He never says that belief is a neurological disorder. Also, other activities may have different neurological patterns associated with them as well. So, this is the worst kind of slander and should be strongly rejected. Once a point of view is defined as a disorder, then it becomes acceptable to force that viewpoint out of the marketplace of ideas and to even have social or legal pressure applied to "fix" the disorder. The Jews and others had to first be reduced to some sort of "problem" that needed to be fixed before the holocaust could take place. Lets not go down that road again...

Grand Central Station - New York, NY (Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, author, Why We Believe What We Believe) co- founder of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind

124. (Karta) You must be on a certain level of holiness to deserve the land of Israel - (Protestant Christians generally do not agree)

Neturei Karta - Monsey, NY - Rabbi Yisroel Weiss, Anti-Zionist

125. God rested on the 7th day so man has to - the Christian belief is that the sabbath day is a benefit for man, not an imposed ritual. It is like arguing for a 40 hour work week instead of a 60 hour work week so that there is time for study, fellowship and getting refreshed.

126. Keep the sabbath day holy: can’t use electricity, you can't drive – 39 types of specific actions that cannot be done on the Sabbath: start a fire, planting, plowing, tying a knot, untying a knot, building, destroying so as to build - (Protestant Christians generally do not agree.)
Mat 23:23-28 Says it is good that they want to follow the law in minute details, but in many cases they miss the main, internal points of the law in order to focus on these minor external points of the law. The fact is that no Jewish person can keep the whole law in every detail all their lives, which is why the temple sacrifices were required and, eventually, Jesus' "once and for all" sacrifice.

Institute for Science and Halacha (Rabbi Shmuel Strauss; Rabbi Levi Halperin, Director of the Institute)

127. (Strauss) If there is a loophole, it is because it is to be used in a situation of need - Not necessarily. A loophole may not have been intended, but rather showed up because of an overly rigid interpretation of what was intended by the original writer.

128. Why am I going to these lengths to please God who has taken away my legs to begin with? - P, God has greater goals in mind which require this short term pain and suffering. Just because God thinks there is a greater good to allowing this suffering does not mean that he likes the individual suffering.

129. How do we define crazy? If we define mental illness as anyone who hears a voice talking to them, then anyone who has heard the voice of God is crazy. - There has to be some objective way to verify, at least to the individual, that any "voices" in their head are accurate and from God.

130. Mother who killed her children after hearing the voice of God - She was not objectively verifying whether the voice in her head was good or not. A Christian would normally reject voices if they told them to do things that were against what was taught in the Bible.

131. Abraham killing his son - Abraham would have been doing evil if there were not some way to objectively verify that the voice was coming from God and that God was trustworthy. The Bible does not specifically say how Abraham knew the voice was from God, but there must have been some way to objectively verify that.

132. Jesus was nuts (for talking to God). Moses talked to a burning bush. That guy is a cuckoo. - That assumes that God wasn't actually talking to them, so these statements are assuming what they are trying to prove.

133. (Miranda) Jesus had children descendants to Puerto Rico. No hell, devil or sin. How do you get this Job? Two tall and strong angels. - O, Mat 24:23-25 The Bible says there will be false Christs.

Growing in Grace Ministry - Miami, FL (Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda)

134. Why did God choose you? He is the descendant of Jesus. Jesus had a wife and has descendants. I thought the second coming was the reincarnation of the Christ himself - O,

135. It seems that if God wanted to communicate something to the world, He’s all powerful, He would just talk to the whole world. It always seems that He picks out a prophet in private and tells them, "O.K., you’re the prophet." And you go tell the rest of the world, so we just sort of have to take it on faith, we just sort of have to believe you. - C, If God just told the whole world many people would follow him because of His power and not because they actually want to do what is right. Part of the test of this life is following God without seeing His full power.

136. (Miranda) If I discovered that I was Satan in person I would do a good job too, because I would be faithful to my calling -

137. I wasn't born skeptical. I was still making deals with God when I was 40. I said if you make this problem go away I will quit smoking, and I won't go back on it because I would be going back on a deal with God. I’m kind of glad I had God in my life. - If God doesn't exist, then that was silly even if the results were good. So, the main question is still whether God exists or not.

Sensi Coffee Shop / Seed Shop (Ferre van Beveren, Cannabis Ministry)

138. Maybe the Dutch are so tolerant that they are now tolerating intolerance. It is all religious fundamentalists. - Note that by using the term "religious fundamentalists" it also implicates Christians and Jews who have not demonstrated the same level of religious violence in this generation as a portion of the Muslims have.

139. Theo Van Gogh assassinated. His film was deeply offensive to Muslims. - If God exists, He has also given us the freedom to choose whether to follow him or not.

140. (Rapper) Anyone worrying about what I am saying should get involved in the debate. You are allowed to dissent, that is a right.

Quote: But is that a right in Islam, to dissent? Was that a right for Salmon Rushdie (and his novel Satanic verses)? Salmon Rushdie was there to provoke, insult, and he did it intentionally. But, should he die for that? It's easy for you to say things kind of in black and white. It's more complex than that. There is emotions and passions and philosophy involved. All you have got to say is that it is wrong for someone to have to suffer a death threat for writing a book. But, apparently, it is more complicated than that. But, you want that protection for yourself. I'm willing to discuss them in terms of facts and not fictions. When you disagree with me it is a fiction. You have the truth and I have the fiction. You don't see a fundamental hypocrisy for you asking for the right to dissent and somebody else getting a death threat. No, because my dissent is to stop the madness. (his song talking about terrorism being O.K.)

London subway/tube station (Aki Nawaz, a/k/a Propa-Gandhi, Rapper)

141. Dutch parliament member wants, Geert Wilders, to outlaw Islam in Holland. Islam is a violent religion, the Koran is a violent book and Mohamed was a violent prophet. Do you think Islam wants to take over the world? They don't even make a secret about it. - Protestant Christians would like the whole world to be Christian, too. But, most think the Bible says that will not happen. And, in fact the world will reject true Christianity. But, in any case, the Bible doesn't say anything about taking over the world using force like the Quran does.

Recently Geert Wilders was charged with "insulting Islam" in Holland, and if convicted may spend two years in jail for creating a movie called "Fitna". See it on Youtube in two parts, part 1 and part 2.

The Hague/Parliament (Geert Wilders, Dutch Parliament Member)

142. Gay Muslim bar - Turkmani has an HIV infection and suffers from severe mental problems, which three times per month has to be treated by several physicians.

Habibi Ana (Muslim Gay Bar/Jimmy Turkmani)

143. Is Islam a threat to Dutch values? No, Islam is preaching above all, peace and peace and peace. (Clips of Muslims preaching violence). - See, Obsession, the Movie

Part 1 of 2:

Part 2 of 2:

144. And yet it is involved with a lot of war and violence. Yea, it is just all politics. Nothing to do with religion.

145. There seems to be a lot of passages that say the infidel is not the equal of the believer, the infidel will die in hell, don't feel bad about hating the infidel. No? Boy I've got a lot of bad information. -

146. What did you think when you read those passages? I explain those passages within the time they emerged. -

147. I think they are just in a state of denial to an outsider. Islam conquered most of the known world in one century

Al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock (Dr. Muhammad Hourani, PhD, Coordinator, Center for Peace and Reconciliation)

148. The Kaba, this s
tone came from paradise. It is black and there are no other black stones around. Does it make any difference that we now understand what a meteor is? -

149. Women in your culture seem not to be as equal to the man as they are in our culture. The women have a special corner

150. Mohammad never went to temple mount, that is a historical fact. Muslims have to accept every word in this story. - (Agreed by Protestant Christians)

151. Why can’t the people of the different faiths get along. Is it not because it has been conquered many times? - O,

152. Giant naked man on the side of a hill, is there a religion that maintains it? Believing in mysticism is similar to kneeling and fasting -

Cerne Abbas (Giant of Cerne) – Dorset, England

153. Because of the power of religion to divert man to destructive courses, the world actually could come to an end. -

Verses quoted on screen:
Rev 1:3, 16:16 The time is near and the place is called Armageddon
Surah 3:151 Soon we will cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers
Surah 55.26 All that is on earth will perish
Rev 6:12 There was a great earthquake... The sun turned black... the whole moon turned blood red and the stars in the sky fell to earth
Rev 9:6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it;they will long to die but death will elude them
Hadith Sahih Muslim 41:6903 The last hour will not come unless there is much bloodshed
Rev 22:21 The grace of the lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.
Surah Al-Fatihah 1:2-4 Praise be to Allah... master of the day of judgment

154. If you believe the world is going to come to an end, perhaps any day now, does it not drain ones motivation to improve life on earth while we are here? -

Final Monologue:
"Plain fact is religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state, not by a compass, but, by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn’t learn a lot about it.
Faith means making a virtue out of non-thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.
Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful if someone says, "I’m willing Lord. I’ll do whatever You want me to do." Except, that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions, and limitations and agendas.
And, anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die. I promise you you they don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.
The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble. And that’s what man needs to be considering that human history is just a litany of getting sh.t dead wrong.
This is why rational people, anti-religionists must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And, those that consider themselves only moderately religious, really need to look in the mirror and realize the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.
If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and shear ignorance as religion is, you’d resign in protest..
To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy of their billions of their fellow travelers.
If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or, it lives into the future decimated by the effects of a religion inspired nuclear terrorism, let’s remember what the real problem was. That we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it.

That’s it. Grow up or die."

Issues from quote:
155. Religion must die for mankind to live - Nazism and Communism had even greater potential to end life as we know it on the planet, and those are not religions. So, what we would need to say is "Any significant ideologies must die for mankind to live". But, Ironically, to do that would take a strong world government that severely managed the education and thinking of the world's population. Interestingly, that is in opposition to Mr. Maher's political beliefs.

156. People who believe religion should not be political leaders - The last monologue assumes that religion is the same as irrationality. Everyone would agree that political leaders need to be rational, but he has not made his case that all religious people are also irrational.

157. Faith makes a virtue of non-thinking - Actually, that is not true. All reason starts with assumptions. The difference with religious faith is that it starts with seemingly unverifiable assumptions that could only be revealed in the past through books or other means. Both science and religion have their foundational beliefs that are unverifiable.

158. Faith keeps mankind in bondage to fantasy and nonsense - Yes, for the faiths that are not true, that is the case. But, if any of the faiths are true, then they actually free people rather than put them in bondage.

159. Faith has spawned much lunacy and destruction - Agreed. Faith and reason are powerful tools. If they are used to find truth, then they are a great benefit. If they are used to support falsehoods, then they can cause great destruction.

160. Bad people lead the willing faithful to do bad things - But, normally, the leaders of the faithful think they are doing a good thing. They don't think of themselves as being bad.

161. No one knows what happens when they die because Bill Maher does not know
- Yes, that is something that would have to be revealed by God, which is what the western religions have claimed that God has done.

162. The only appropriate attitude on the big questions is doubt because doubt is humble - Doubt isn't necessarily humble, it can also be prideful. If you have already decided that there is no way you can be convinced of something, then that is just as prideful as someone who is convinced of their position. The only appropriate attitude on the big questions is to find truth wherever that may be and commit to rational debate.

163. History is a litany of getting things wrong - Agreed. That is why America was founded based on religious freedom, so that we would not make the mistakes of Europe after the middle ages. So, we should learn from the past and all support the marketplace of ideas, not shutting down discussion of any religious beliefs because we disagree with them.

164. Anti-religionists must assert themselves - Yes, every viewpoint should enter the marketplace of ideas. But, atheists can be just as dogmatic and narrow minded as religionists can be.

165. Solace and comfort of religion comes at a terrible price - Solace and comfort in atheism under communism came at a terrible price as well. The key is to determine what is true and stick to that.

166. You should quit Religion because of it's bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and shear ignorance, to do otherwise makes you an enabler - We should work hard to find truth wherever it is.

167. Let’s remember what the real problem was. That we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. - Predicting Armageddon does not mean that people wish for Armageddon.