Sample clip of my debate with an
atheist on the issue of morality.
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Capella's Guide to Atheism
Capella's Guide to Atheism is anything but that, this website's subtitle is more accurate in stating, "An Atheist's Guide to Scripture and more_" Capella's Guide to Atheism may be better titled, Capella's Guide to Atheism as Anti-Theism. Actually, mere "Anti-Theism" is inaccurate as the website is exclusively anti-Jewish and anti-Christian. This essay will be parsed thusly,
Give God a Rest Atrocious Assertions Carry Your Own Cross Ride'em Cowboy! Animal Magnetism Which Way to the Temple? In Conclusion
Sadly, Capella's Guide to Atheism presents none but more, and more, and more of the same old, tired and discredited criticism's of the Bible. Rather, it presents more, and more, and more examples of atheists who do not possess a working knowledge of that which they seek to criticize. While I do not wish to turn this into yet another series of essays discrediting the contents of Capella's Guide to Atheism, which could certainly be done quite easily yet time-consumingly, let us consider certain examples.
Give God a Rest It is rather sad when one seeks so diligently to find little crumbs with which to attempt to bake a loaf of Bible discreditation. For instance, Capella's Guide to Atheism claims:
Here God "rests" and God "walks". This of course are things you wouldn't expect an omnipotent, omnipresent being to have to do.
(Gen 2:2 NRSV) And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and *he rested* on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
(note that although apologetics will try to say he just "ceased", that is not what this is saying, it is saying that he had to rest for a day from his work as a being that was tired)
(Exo 31:17 NRSV) It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he *rested*, and was *refreshed*."
(Gen 3:8 NRSV) They heard the sound of the LORD God *walking* in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Sadly, Capella's Guide to Atheism misses the point that the Bible is, among other things, providing a scientific prediction of the First Law of Thermodynamics in stating that there is a finite amount of energy in the universe as God ended His acts of creation and so all we have now is energy changing forms (see First Commandment of Thermodynamics for elucidation).
What is being stated in Genesis 2:2 is that God "shabath": to stop, to cease. In Exodus 31:17 this is repeated but with the addition of "naphash": to take breath, to be refreshed. But why this additional emphasis? Obviously, because of something that Capella's Guide to Atheism did not bother noticing or noting: the six days of creation and one day of cessation by God are being correlated to the seven day week; six days of work and one of ceasing/rest by humans.
As to God walking in the Garden of Eden one can only wonder what Capella's Guide to Atheism sees as a problem. How is God walking something that we would not expect an omnipresent being to do? It appears that Capella's Guide to Atheism is confusing pantheism (or some such thing) with omnipresence. God is not irretrievably diffused throughout the universe but picks and chooses where to manifest. God is not in trees and moons and flowers and black-holes and puppies and chinchillas and cucumbers. An example of this is in 1st Kings 19:11-12,
the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
Atrocious Assertions Capella's Guide to Atheism also has a listing of "Atrocities and deviant behavior by key Bible figures" which, of course, does not offer a premise by which to condemn these "Atrocities and deviant behavior." One claim listed under this title is that that "Jesus says it's ok to castrate yourself for the kingdom of heaven." But they never get around to explaining what is wrong with this although presupposing absolute materialism negating any bodily function is anathema to atheism.
Following is Capella's Guide to Atheism quote and some of the commentary:
(Mat 19:12 NRSV) For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the *kingdom of heaven*. Let anyone accept this who can."
Note: This passage is purposely distorted in the NIV and Living bible to appear to be dealing with marriage. There is nothing in the original Greek for this verse that has anything to do with marriage.
The Greek word in this verse specifically is eunuch: 2135. eunouchos, yoo-noo'-khos; from eune (a bed) and G2192; a castrated person (such being employed in Oriental bed-chambers); by extens. an impotent or unmarried man; by impl. a chamberlain (state-officer):-eunuch.
Again, what is wrong with this is left unstated. Apparently, merely the fact that it is being pointed out is supposed to mean something and make a point against the Bible-or some such thing.
Have the NIV and Living Bible "purposely distorted" the text? Note that in order to know whether it was "purposely distorted" Capella's Guide to Atheism would have to know that it was "purposely distorted." Perhaps it was distorted but not purposefully. Perhaps it was not even distorted. Let Capella's Guide to Atheism present the evidence or purposeful distortion; merely noting differences is not proof of distortion; purposeful of otherwise.
The NIV reads:
For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage*because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." Footnote:* Or have made themselves eunuchs
Pardon, but I do not have a Living Bible to consult.
Thus, is it as Capella's Guide to Atheism claimed; that "There is nothing in the original Greek for this verse that has anything to do with marriage"? Note the qualifier very carefully, "for this verse." This means that Capella's Guide to Atheism has blinders on and is considering a single solitary verse as if it came into being ex nihilo: was nothing said before it, was there no thought leading to the statement, is there really no context? This shows us the level of scholarship with which we are dealing in Capella's Guide to Atheism.
True, "for this verse" "There is nothing in the original Greek…that has anything to do with marriage." Thus, we ask why the NIV and Living Bible would refer to marriage in that verse; perhaps it was a purposeful distortion! When we read the Bible in order to ascertain what it states and not in order to pull texts out of context to make pretexts for proof-texts we note that Matthew ch. 19 v. 2 refers to marriage, v. 3 refers to marriage, v. 5 refers to marriage, v. 6 refers to marriage, v. 7 refers to marriage, v. 8 refers to marriage, v. 9 refers to marriage, v. 10 refers to marriage. Is it any wonder then that when we get to v. 12 we see that it is contextually referring to marriage? Moreover, vv. 9-10 dealt with sexual morality.
Next, note that Capella's Guide to Atheism mentions that the Greek for "eunuch" does not only refer to "a castrated person" but to "an impotent or unmarried man." This is why Jesus refers to those "eunuchs who have been so from birth." We have also dealt with this text in responding to Dan Barker's scriptural misinterpretations and misapplications. Dan Barker make the, to him apparently meaningful, point that he knows of one single person in Christianity's two thousand year history who took this text "literally" and castrated himself. Dan Barker has to go circa two centuries from the time of Jesus, His apostles and the disciples to make reference to Origen (who is not known to be the most orthodox of early church fathers, by the way) who lived 185-254 AD. Even in this case; note that,
It was to remove any hint of scandal as he taught young women their catechism that Origen castrated himself, literally following Matthew 19:12. He later came to see his action as ill-advised and not to be taken as an example.1
Carry Your Own Cross Capella's Guide to Atheism attempts to cause confusion in apparently supposing contradiction where there is no such thing.
Here at Capella's Guide to Atheism we have our own theory about how Jesus got his cross to his execution, but let's see what's in the Bible:
The Gospel of Mark says: (Mark 15:20-24 NRSV) …Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him…
The Gospel of John says: (John 19:16-18 NRSV) Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him…
Hmmm... One says that Simon of Cyrene carried it and the other one says that Jesus carried it by himself.
Apparently, "Hmmm…" is supposed to mean something to the likes of contradiction. Is this really so flummoxing? Jesus carried the cross by Himself until He did not carry it by Himself. But why did John not mention Simon? Who knows?
Yet, a few things are for certain: there is no logical reason for an author to record all of anything, there is no historical reason for an author to record all of anything, it does not affect any doctrine whatsoever to learn from Mark rather than John that Jesus carried the cross by Himself until He did not carry it by Himself.
Ride'em Cowboy! Another example of likewise making something of nothing is Capella's Guide to Atheism's claim of contradiction as to "How many animals did Jesus ride when entering Jerusalem?"
The author of Matthew contradicts the author of Mark on the number of animals Jesus is riding into Jerusalem. (Mat 21:7 NRSV) they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on*them*. (Mark 11:7 NRSV) Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on*it*.
For some odd reason Capella's Guide to Atheism does not bother mentioning or quoting the fact that the Matthew text does not state upon which animal Jesus sat. It states that they brought a donkey and colt, that they placed their coats on "them," (actually he, she, it) and that Jesus sat on the "coats." Maybe the colt and donkey were side to side, Jesus had very wide legs and startled them both, right?! So we are told that there are two animals and that Jesus sat on coat that were put on them, but which one did He ride upon? We do not know. Or don't we? Mark and Luke tell us. Mark states that they brought the colt to Jesus and that He sat on it and Luke states that they brought the colt to Jesus and that they put Jesus on it. Thus, they are not recording the superfluous enumeration of animals but are specifically and succinctly telling us upon which Jesus sat thus, they only mention the relevant one.
Animal Magnetism Under the heading "Peculiar Bible verses" Capella's Guide to Atheism lists "Adam and God search the animals for a partner for Adam." The entry for this subsection reads, in full,
In the bible, out of all of the animals of the earth God and Adam searched and couldn't find a "partner" for Adam. (Gen 2:20-21 NRSV) The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the LORD God caused…
Most of Capella's Guide to Atheism are of this sort; a vague assertions and a mere fraction of biblical text. Missing is the context of the quotes and a justification for the condemnation, however vague the condemnation may be since apparently we are supposed to merely have gut reactions to the arguments from outrage and arguments for embarrassment. I can empathize with why it is difficult for an atheist to understand the text and, more importantly, the point of the text since to atheist the only difference between human and animals is that we have a superiority complex. In fact, as Prof. Richard Dawkins puts it, "We are not, then, merely like apes or descended from apes; we are apes."2
In the text we find that Adam is given the task of naming animals. What did he name them? In what language? Where are the taxonomy and/or nomenclature recorded? Interesting to ponder, but irrelevant.
The point was to get Adam to understand differentiation, distinction, disparity, dichotomy, etc. One can picture Adam thinking, "That one has a tail, I do not. That one has a trunk, I do not. That one has wings, I do not" etc. The point was to get Adam to realize that he was different and so that once he saw someone like him he would…well, let us see in vv. 20-25:
But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
The point was to get Adam to appreciate one of his kind and to demonstrate that two like human beings, one male and one female, are to come together and stay together to build a primary relationship with one another "leave his father and mother." But who were the mother and father? Adam and Eve had none and that is the point; the union of Adam and Even was the premise upon which marriage of future generations was built.
Which Way to the Temple? Another of Capella's Guide to Atheism's "Peculiar Bible verses" is that "Solomon's temple is exaggerated" the entirety of the segment of which reads thusly:
It was 90 ft long, 30 ft wide, and 45 ft high (1 Ki 6:2) About twice the cubic footage of an average 2 story house. For a small structure It took 183,300 men 7 years to build it. (1 Kings 5:13-16)(1 Kings 6:38) Into it supposedly went 9,200,000 lbs of Gold and 92,000,000 lbs of Silver. (1 Chron 22:14) Note: Archaeologists can't find it anywhere…
Let us begin at the end "Archaeologists can't find it anywhere" and so we cannot compare the historical description with the actual building or even the outline of its foundation. Thus, the logical question is, "How do we know that it was exaggerated?" Because it took 183,300 men 7 years to build it? I do not think that they had Extreme Home Makeover back then. Also, note what 1st Kings 5:13-16 actually states:
v. 13 Then King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel; and the labor force was thirty thousand men."
v. 14 And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts…
v. 15 Solomon had seventy thousand who carried burdens, and eighty thousand who quarried stone in the mountains
v. 16 besides three thousand three hundred from the chiefs of Solomon's deputies, who supervised the people who labored in the work.
30,000 worked in shifts. 70,000 carried burdens. 80,000 quarried stone. 3,300 supervised. In any regard, traveling, quarrying massive boulders with hand held tools and carrying massive boulders via animal and human drawn conveyances takes time (not to mention subtracting work time from inclement weather including entire seasons). Apparently, the complaint is that it took too long: sorry Capella's Guide to Atheism.
Apparently, another complaint is that "Archaeologists can't find it anywhere" especially the 9,200,000 lbs of Gold and 92,000,000 lbs of Silver (or "one hundred thousand talents of gold and one million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond measure, for it is so abundant"-you do the math). One reason that "Archaeologists can't find it anywhere" is that the presumed location of the Temple coincides, at least in part, with the location of the Al Aqsa Mosque which was built in 685 AD and digging around anywhere near that site, aka "The Temple Mount," is basically seen as a declaration of war. While the Al Aqsa Mosque is in view it may be of interest to note that Solomon's Temple was 90 feet long and 30 feet wide (or "its length was sixty cubits, its width twenty") and was constructed in 7 years. Al Aqsa Mosque is 272 feet long and 184 feet wide and was constructed in 20 years.
As for the gold and silver; in the history of humanity it has been common for people to prefer to not leave massive amounts of gold and silver lying around. In fact, the very reason that the Temple (the Second Temple) was destroyed (fulfilling Jesus' prophecy in Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19:44, 21:6) is that a soldier threw a lit torch in it, it caught on fire and the gold melted down through the walls and cracks between the boulders. Thus, the Temple was taken apart boulder by boulder in order to collect the gold, leaving the Temple scattered and its parts removed to be reused elsewhere.
In "The Wars of the Jews" 6.4.5 the historian Flavius Josephus wrote:
So Titus retired into the tower of Antonia, and resolved to storm the Temple the next day…At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the Holy House, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward the Jews made a great clamour, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that Holy House was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard upon it.
In Conclusion There is much material in Capella's Guide to Atheism which could likewise be taken apart and demonstrated to be baseless assertions, baseless condemnations, lack of scholarship, lack of knowledge of the Bible's contents and contexts, etc.
Yet, as with so very many atheist catechistic websites that seek to discredit the Bible; Capella's Guide to Atheism discredits itself while leaving the Bible unscathed.
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