Saturday, December 26, 2015

A first century Jew

Taryn Flynn gets one thing right in "Jesus Wasn’t White And Here’s Why That Matters." The Jesus figure is generally believed to have been a first century Middle-Eastern Jew. Such a first century Jew would not have looked like a modern Western European white guy. Virtually everything else in the piece is, of course, complete non-sense since it all relies on assumptions and willful ignorance. Not only is there no historical evidence for Jesus existence to begin with even if you could make a case for Jesus existence you then have the problem of deciding on which Jesus was the real one. The scriptures that contain information on the Jesus figure do not agree on any aspect of that figure. They actually seem to describe separate individuals. Or, more accurately, separate perceptions and preferences for a Messiah persona.

Though it is true that the Jesus figure would not have been a white guy it is equally true that the odds that he existed at all are very low. So it may not matter all that much. I understand why Flynn found the need to point out how this white version has been used for despicable purposes but it is not the only variation that has lead to negative consequences.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Is Jeffrey Salkin Mormon?

It may seem an idiotic question if you are familiar with Jeffrey Salkin's blog Martini Judaism. After all, Judaism is right in the title. However, if you use the same logic of a few of the posts he's put out  over the past week or so it makes sense. It seems that any individual he happens to like the work of can be proclaimed Jewish. His short piece "Woody Allen, Jewish despite himself" at least has some superficial merit. Woody was raised in a Jewish family. He himself is actually an atheist. He is not a practicing Jew and can only be called a Jew in a flimsy cultural sense of the term. His more recent piece, "Was Sinatra Jewish?", is just nonsensical crap. Sinatra never had even a vague affiliation with Jews beyond those that anyone else with friends or acquaintances who happened to be Jewish would have.

In both instances Salkin does a lot of cherry-picking to force the careers of these two men into a mold of his own warped logic's devising. It's as sad as it is pathetic. With both pieces he could have used a few of the vague associations to discuss and examine the whole idea of Jewish identity. There's always been a bit of debate over whether Jewishness is a matter of faith, ethnicity, culture, or a mixture. Just as there have always been questions about to what extent the previous question matters. It is a very interesting topic well worth thinking about. It's too bad Salkin's writing more closely resembles that asinine Mormon practice of "baptizing" individuals as Mormon after they are dead whether they expressed any interest in Mormon faith while alive. It's stupid, dishonest, arrogant, and disrespectful.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


"Blind faith, no matter how passionately expressed, will not suffice. Science for its part will test relentlessly every assumption about the human condition"
Edward O. Wilson
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

Fear of "Religious Education"?

Celia Walden's "Why are we so afraid of teaching Religious Education properly to children?" is rather poorly thought out and very misleading. The title itself conveys a number of the problems contained within the piece. To start with "religious education" as a term is rather amorphous and subjective. Walden never even attempts to narrow the scope of the phrase. She also includes the word "properly" in that title that is equally problematic. It doesn't take long to realize that she herself has a rather narrow understanding and perception of the subject she so pathetically blathers on about.

Personally, I see no reason to be afraid to teach about religion within the appropriate context. Teaching what the major world religions have believed over time and how those beliefs have effected history and society is quite reasonable. This means the teaching "about" not the teaching "of" religion. Promoting a particular faith or attacking a specific faith or even the lack of faith should not be allowed under any circumstances within the confines of public education. Mixing "religious education" into History, Philosophy, or Sociology classes, among others, is not only appropriate it is favorable, assuming it is approached in the manner I referenced above.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Unapolegetic Fact-checking

I have one other occasions point out that apologists, especially Christian ones, tend to be willfully ignorant, delusional, stupid, or a combination of the three. A recent post by Justin Steckbauer on the Christian Apologetics Alliance' website does an excellent job confirming this view. "The Facts on Christianity: A Quick Examination" is certainly "quick" but bears no resemblance the rest of its title. Steckbauer fails to provide any facts or even the slightest attempt at examining anything he states. The short piece is especially entertaining since he does a pretty good job destroying his own claims. Of the 5 points he tries to make 3 take the form of rhetorical statements ("Does God exist?", Is the Bible really God's word?", Did Jesus really exist historically?") with the last two being meant as persuasive questions ("But was Jesus Christ really God come to Earth?", "What will you do?").

He starts the first point by stating, correctly, that you do not need absolute proof to reach a reasonable conclusion. He immediately dips into idiocy by trying to use the cosmological argument. Predictably, what follows is a jumble of logical fallacies and double standards. Basically, its the old BS that the universe needs a cause but God doesn't. No attempt at justifying or explaining why God should be exempted. Steckbauer's approach to the Bible is just as feeble. He does make an interesting half-assed attempt at acknowledging what actual scholars have known for quite some time by stating, "But there are over 25,000 whole and partial ancient manuscripts of the Bible, and they all match nearly identically." I don't know what the estimate is currently up to be but the number of fragments that make up the Bible is in the tens of thousands. However, he is blatantly wrong about there being even a single whole manuscript. dating to ancient times. Not one! He further proves what an ill-informed fool by trying to claim, "The Bible when compared with recorded history is 99.7% accurate." Not even close. I would be genuinely shocked if it was .3% accurate since the very few references in the Bible that have any connection to established history tend to be grossly inaccurate. His approach to Jesus is just as false. He mentions but does not reference "historical accounts by witnesses." There are no such accounts. All the earliest information relating to Jesus come from scriptures. There are no historical accounts of Jesus. The earliest historians wrote about Christians not Christ. Most accounts are at best third or fourth hand. You would think if someone wanted to write about "facts" that they might at least spend a few minutes fact-checking.

Apologist really are only good for a laugh. Their "arguments" have not changed in centuries. They have been so thoroughly refuted that there isn't anything more to do beyond satire and ridicule.