an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

On the Fear of Truth

9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
9:2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
Acts

The above is one of the most important passages in the Bible. Why? Because it sets up the events that lead to Saul of Tarsus becoming the Apostle Paul, the man who is the main voice of early Christianity, whose letters predate all the gospel accounts by many years, the man who shaped the way Christ was presented to the world.

It is also a lie.

Paul could not have asked the High Priest of Jerusalem for letters of authority to take to the Synagogues in Damascus, as the High Priest had no authority over the day to day running of even local Synagogues. If that isn’t damning enough, Damascus wasn’t even under the rule of Rome, belonging, as it did, to the Arab nation of Nabataea, and ruled over by King Aretas IV (9BC-AD 40).

The implications of this are profound, if the founder of Christianity lied about his conversion, then what else was he ‘creative’ about? It throws the whole truth of Christianity into doubt, and it was this very issue that started me on the road to atheism 20 years ago.

So why am I mentioning this today? A couple of nights ago I called Calvinist apologist Matt Slick on his radio show and asked him what his opinion of this was. His response was to say that he didn’t know (honest of him) and that he’d need to look into it, and could I send him the details. I replied that I though he should do his own research and that it wasn’t my job to do the homework that I’d given him. This interaction was continued in some emails throughout the week and one thing has become very very clear –

Matt has no intention of researching this, even though it would only take a moment.

Think about that. Faced with a significant problem with the religion he has bought into, that he depends upon for his living, Slick would prefer to ignore it than actually seek the truth. This blinkered denial of reality in favour of continuing to believe fantasy is, sadly, far too common – I’ve encountered it many many times over the years. People like Matt Slick, Joe Cienkowski, Bob Sorensen, Eric Hovind, Dustin Segers et al would rather continue in blind delusion than face the fact that their faith is built on nothing by wishful thinking. They claim to be seeking ‘truth’ whilst simultaneously making sure that they will  never find it.

Is it the fear of death that drives these men (and it’s almost always men) to live on in ignorance and preach fiction? Or is it their need to continue making a living (for those who are professional preachers) that causes them to avoid truth as if it were some infection disease? I suspect it is a mixture of the two.

Either way, these people are living a lie, and knowingly remaining in ignorance.

Single Post Navigation

33 thoughts on “On the Fear of Truth

  1. This post has been removed by the author.

  2. "The high priest served as head of the Sanhedrin, which as a legislative body had jurisdiction over the Jews living in Jerusalem, Palestine, and the dispersion. Thus, the high priest had power to issue warrants to the synagogues in Damascus for the arrest of Christian Jews residing there . . ." [Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary on Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House), 329.]"Damascus. Located in the Roman province of Syria . . ." NASB Study Bible, 1588."The dominant political figure at the time of Paul's escape from Damascus (2 Cor. 11:32-33) was Aretas IV, king of the Nabateans (9 B.C. – A.D. 40), though normally the Decapolis cities were attached to the province of Syria and were thus under the influence of Rome." [Ibid., 1589.

  3. Looks like some sources say one thing, whilst others say something else.I notice you didn't address the rest of the post 😉

  4. only became part of the Decapolis in 64AD, your sources give incorrect information. My point stands, Paul or the writer of Acts lied

  5. This post has been removed by the author.

  6. "only became part of the Decapolis in 64AD, your sources give incorrect information. My point stands, Paul or the writer of Acts lied."Where does Acts 9:1-2 say that Damascus was under complete Roman control?Answer: It doesn't. You're reading this into the text to make it say something it doesn't to create a historical contradiction that doesn't exist. As a matter of fact, 2 Cor. 11:32 explicitly states that Aretas (Aretas IV) was the king, so there's no problem. Anyways, the fact that you'd write off God's word this quickly without studying the issues thoroughly points out that you have always been the Lord of your reasoning instead of Jesus Christ being the Lord of your reasoning (1 John 2:19).

  7. you've missed the point. If Damascus ISN'T under Roman control at the time Paul visits, there is NO legal right to take citizens of Nabataea by force to another country on religious grounds.The best part? The Bible AGREES with the historical reading of the situation! So either Paul lied, or the writer of Acts made the whole story up, as it cannot be true as written. Thanks for admitting that I'm right btw

  8. On fear of the what? 😀 Try as you might, you just cannot escape truth, even in the title of your blog posts. In our talks I asked you what truth was Alex, to which you replied: "I don't know." Well for someone who does not know what truth is, you sure write and talk a lot about it.I realize that you are deleting all my comments, but this is perfectly in line with what Scripture teaches, that you "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." ~ Romans 1: 18-21Go ahead, demonstrate to us again the truth of Scripture. In fact, to ensure that you will delete this post, allow me to post the other 2 here that you keep deleting: “I take that embarrassed silence from Michael and Sye to mean that they’ve been caught out.”Hmmm, who’s silent now? Waiting for you to show us how to selectively delete or hide comments and unhide them again on Facebook. (As always though, not holdin’ me breath :-)(I see why you must delete this one, does kinda make you look silly :-)October 25 12:53 PM (PST) on Dan’s blog:Alex: ”Sye, I have more than had my fill of you. Not only will I no longer be interacting with you in person or on my blog, I will not be acknowledging you anywhere.”Well, that almost lasted a day there Alex. And I though Paul was desperate to save face. You are showing him how it’s done! Good job!(Yes, I see why you had to delete this one too :-)Cheers

  9. I will leave that last comment up, because I feel it demonstrates perfectly the deep delusion and self righteousness of it's author – a man who is a fraud and a charlatan, and a failure even at explaining the ONLY argument he has.This is a man who, when caught out hiding and then reinstating comment threads on his Facebook wall attempted to redefine what others had said, never once addressing the fact that I had proved that what he'd claimed couldn't be done, had been.This is a man who has been unable to recognise that, since I made my comment that I was through with him. I have not interacted with him or addressed him directly once.Readers, the author of the comment above is a liar for money, a fraud disguising himself as a preacher of holiness, and I believe you can see this clearly by his actions.All further posts by this individual will be marked as spam and deleted.

  10. "If Damascus ISN'T under Roman control at the time Paul visits, there is NO legal right to take citizens of Nabataea by force to another country on religious grounds."Says you.If it was illegal, whose to say that this was attempted legally? Moreover, NT scholar Richard N. Longenecker notes that your assertion simply isn't necessitated by the actual historical situation,"While the Sadducean high priests of Jerusalem no longer exercised the civil authority of their predecessors, they were, it seems, recognized by Rome as the titular rulers of their people in most internal matters; and evidently they retained the right of extradition in strictly religious situations. Therefore Saul, seeking the return of Jewish Christians, 'went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem" (cf. 22:5; 26:12). [Longenecker, Richard N., The Expositor's Bible Commentary on Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981), 369.]Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown concur with the historical situation proposed by Longenecker,". . . of authorization; showing that, under the Roman power at this time, the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem had jurisdiction over Jews resident in foreign parts." [J, F, B, Commentary on Acts 9:2, Vol. 3, (), 57.]Such is consistent with Paul's report in Acts 26:11. Here's a summary of what my own research reveals from the resources in my study.The Romans didn't intervene in religious matters involving non-citizens in its provinces. However, it did curb some of the Sanhedrin's power so that Rome could maintain order. This primarily involved removing the Sanhedrin's authority to put someone to death. Its also important to note that during this time, the Sanhedrin didn't have the power to compel a Jew with Roman citizenship to appear before it to answer to religious charges; but it did have the power to compel the appearance of a Jew accused of breaking religious law. Therefore, one can conclude that Saul's authority was limited according to the citizenship status of the person(s) he sought to arrest.Thus, the Roman govt. permitted the Sanhedrin to keep their authority over religious matters involving Jews, no matter where they were. I think you're missing the point out of stubbornness.If you disagree, then the burden of proof is on you to prove it. Please provide a source that confirms the local Syrian government would have prevented a Jewish religious governing body to self-govern its religion; something all all other Roman provinces were permitted to do. A Jew remains a Jew whether in Jerusalem or Damascus and therefore would be subject to the Roman-sanctioned Sanhedrin.Finally, you're making a bunch of hay about something that all my scholarly conservative and liberal commentaries virtually ignore. Why? Because it isn't an issue. When a textual or historical problem is addressed, scholarly, exegetical and social science NT commentaries take great pains to discuss the situation in extensive detail. Your proposed historical problem receives little to no treatment by the scholars and professional apologists because it simply isn't an issue. Thus, your proposed problem is a non-problem.

  11. Wasn't a Roman province until the 2nd century CE. My position is still unrefuted by you.

  12. "This is a man who, when caught out hiding and then reinstating comment threads on his Facebook wall attempted to redefine what others had said, never once addressing the fact that I had proved that what he'd claimed couldn't be done, had been."It is simply amazing how deep your delusion is. Paul accused me of selectively deleting comments in my Facebook group. I gave a link to the group page to show that all the comments were in fact there, with the suggestion that selective comments cannot be removed and reposted on Facebook. You posted screenshots of how you could hide and unhide entire posts in Facebook, which was not what I was accused of doing. I challenged you to prove how selective comments could be removed and reposted, and my comments were repeatedly deleted, because you know that you have been caught out AGAIN.Now, finally, you allow my challenge to stand and respond that I have been caught out hiding and reinstating ”comment threads.” Comment threads?!? Seriously? Hmmm, “comment thread,” that would mean the entire post right? Then why not say “posts?” You try to weasel the word “comment” in there in a pathetic attempt to save face for your false accusation. The accusation was that I removed and reposted ”selected comments” and you have provided exactly zero evidence that this has been, or even can be done. You haven’t even proven that I removed and reposted an entire “comment thread,” so your position is doubly lame. Why in the world would I remove a post that I completely agree with?Folks, Alex knew that I would come back and expose his deception, and that is why he restated that he would delete any further comments of mine. He must avoid me, malign me, delete my comments and misrepresent my position, because I hold up the mirror to his nonsense. Yes, this comment will likely be deleted, but thankfully, he is not the only one who can do screen captures 🙂 Should make for a great blog post.

  13. Sye, a piece of friendly advice: stop writing. You're one of the worst witnesses for the faith the internet has yet produced.

  14. "Sye, a piece of friendly advice: stop writing. You're one of the worst witnesses for the faith the internet has yet produced."Anonymous of course. Present yourself and support your claim.

  15. As the author of the reply above is currently making an hilarious arse of himself, I'm going to let these comments remain.Rest assured readers, the moment he stops being funny, I'll go back to deleting him.

  16. Ah, he's back to being a bitter troll. Deleted.

  17.      The last time I had checked, Sye had no blogs. He only had one link by which he could lead followers around by the nose. And, of course, it was dishonest.     Now, he does have some blogs. I find it rather appropriate that, as yet, "Proof that god exists" is empty.

  18. Alex,"Wasn't a Roman province until the 2nd century CE. My position is still unrefuted by you."First off, the propositional truth of Acts 9:1-2 isn't called into question by your assertion since that passage doesn't assert (like you have) that Damascus/Syria was a Roman province. Second, I don't need to refute you since the secular historians do a fine job of it for me:"During the first century of the empire, the Romans conquered several new provinces. At the same time, there was a tendency to divide the largest provinces into smaller units. For example, Syria was divided into three smaller provinces. In this way, no governor could ever command a very large force. The result is shown in the second table." [http://www.livius.org/gi-gr/governor/provinces.html] "The Romans first began to occupy Syria around 64 BC, and their control over the whole area was consolidated by the end of the 1st century AD." [http://www.khm.uio.no/utstillinger/doedskult/deadclassic/text_13.html] That last claim is completely consistent with the Biblical text of 2 Cor. 11:32.Even good ole' secular Wiki says this:"Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Syria] My friend, this shows just how much of a stubborn, close-minded atheist you really are (Pro. 14:6). And you wonder why we don't engage you with evidence. This short exchange has been a great example of why its necessary to discuss your philosophy of fact before we discuss facts.

  19. Dustin, you're singularly failing to understand what I'm saying! I AGREE that Rome took control in 64AD, I AGREE with the Bible that Aretas was King! THAT'S THE POINT!!Damascus was, at the time of Paul's supposed conversion IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY, NOT one under Roman rule! Rome had NO authority to send anyone there to take Nabataean citizens by force! THAT'S THE POINT I'M MAKING (as you seem to have missed it over and over again!). Moreover the High Priest of Jerusalem COULD NOT give him 'letter's of authority to persecute believers in another country, as Paul would have had NO authority there.Are you deliberately missing the point here?

  20. The last time I had checked, Sye had no blogs.Check again. I have only started it up and have not posted regularly, but I am considering a post with all the comments that Alex deleted.

  21. Sye:     Read my comment again. I already noted that now you do have some. I also noted that it is somehow appropriate that one of them in particular has no posts.

  22. "I already noted that now you do have some."Nice try. You just clicked on my profile and looked at a list of blogs which were there from the start. When you said: "Now you do have some," you were obviously not referring to the link I posted.

  23.      In my previous comment: "Now, he does have some blogs." [Emphasis added] I already noted that the situation had changed and that you had added blogs. There was a time when there weren't any. But you couldn't even be bothered to read my whole comment (all of 5 lines long.) Most people would be clued in by my use of the pluperfect ("last time I had checked") tense rather than the imperfect ("last time I checked.") But I realize that I must lower my expectations for you.

  24. "There was a time when there weren't any"Prove this please. The ones listed on my profile were created when I created my blogger account. You even referred to one of them specifically, and were obviously not referring to the one I linked to. Nice try though 🙂

  25. Sye:     I don't have to prove it. Everyone here, with the exception of Dusman saw your profile when you had no blogs. By the way, you created your blogger account 5 years ago. That's a long time to leave a blog empty. Nice try, though ;-P

  26. "Everyone here, with the exception of Dusman saw your profile when you had no blogs."Nice try, the blog was created with the account."By the way, you created your blogger account 5 years ago. That's a long time to leave a blog empty. Nice try, though ;-PUm, that's right, and it has been empty since that time. I created it with my account (I was under the impression that you had to) with no intention of ever using it.

  27.      Dusman may accept your excuse. But I do not. Remember, I saw your profile when it had no blogs listed. Now, I suppose it's easy for you to say "prove it" secure in the knowledge that I had no reason to take a screen-capture at the time. But the age of each of my blogs is quite clear. Each has a first post, which is dated.     What was there at the start of your account was the link labelled "My Web Page". You didn't even include your e-mail address at the time. You left no avenue to contact you and object to your dishonest mechanisms in the ONE link you had at the time.

  28. But I do not. Remember, I saw your profile when it had no blogs listed."The blog was created at the same time as the profile. I did not know how to create a profile without creating a blog (and still don't), so your claim is full of hooey.

  29. Alex,"Dustin, you're singularly failing to understand what I'm saying! I AGREE that Rome took control in 64AD, I AGREE with the Bible that Aretas was King! THAT'S THE POINT!!"Settle down man."Damascus was, at the time of Paul's supposed conversion IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY, NOT one under Roman rule!"Not according to the research I've done. Again, for the third time, the research indicates that Syria was a Roman province with the Nabateans ruling with some areas of Syria not always being fully controlled by the Romans."Rome had NO authority to send anyone there to take Nabataean citizens by force! THAT'S THE POINT I'M MAKING (as you seem to have missed it over and over again!)."Rome didn't send anyone there, the Sanhedrin authorized Paul to go there. As noted in my research quoted above, the Sandhedrin did have such power. That's the point I'm making and you're conveniently ignoring it out of stubbornness."Moreover the High Priest of Jerusalem COULD NOT give him 'letter's of authority to persecute believers in another country, as Paul would have had NO authority there."On the matter of Damascus, we do not know whether there was any sort of extradition agreement available. We do know that Damascus was known in Jewish history and thought as a place of refuge and exile [Polhill, J. P. The Acts of the Apostles. Nashville: Broadman 1992, 234n; Dunn, James D. G. The Acts of the Apostles. Trinity Press Int'l, 1996, 120.], so that it is conceivable that Jewish Christians would flee there. We also know that the Sanhedrin had jurisdiction as a legislative body over Jews throughout the Diaspora [Kistemaker, Simon J. Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. Baker, 1990, 329.], collecting the Temple tax abroad [Dunn, James D. G. The Acts of the Apostles. Trinity Press Int'l, 1996, 121.], and that Jews had the right of internal discipline in their synagogues [Polhill, J. P. The Acts of the Apostles. Nashville: Broadman 1992, 233; cf. 2 Cor. 11:24].Therefore, we could conceive of some sort of right of extradition, especially since we know that the Romans granted this right to Judaea as a sovereign state under the Hasmoneans, and that privilege was renewed in 47 BC [Bruce, F.F. The Acts of the Apostles. Eerdmans, 1990, 233].But the question is really not relevant, because we don't know whether Saul/Paul would have been successful in his intentions, whatever they were – he was stopped cold by his encounter with the Risen Christ. It may be that he had in his possession a letter of recommendation (cf. 2 Cor. 3:1) to present to Damascus authorities, in an attempt to get permission to arrest or perhaps only extradite Jewish Christians, and for all we know, he may have had them handed over; he may have been politely declined; he may have been rudely turned away. As I've already noted, we just don't know whether he was pursuing a legitimate course, because he never got far enough to tell.Beside all of this, at the time, Caiaphas would still be high priest – and we know from the Gospels and from secular testimony that he and his family were not exactly law-abiding citizens. Thus, your supposed smoking gun is a dud. And you wonder why we don't normally argue evidence with hardened atheists like yourself. For as Plato supposedly said, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

  30. Flip flopping back and forth seems to be a passion of yours tonight, Dustin.

  31. Sye:     You actually still shoot yourself in the foot. You currently still have two empty blogs, plus one that is used mostly (entirely?) by Eric Hoving. Are you now going to tell me that you do not know how to create a profile without creating two blogs?     Here's what I think happened. You recently created a couple empty blogs (probably planning on adding something to them latet.) You misread my post and thought you could easily correct me by showing that you currently had a blog. (Interestingly, the link you gave is not on your profile.) When I showed your mistake, you twist and turn because you are far too boastful to admit that you ever make a mistake.

  32. "Here's what I think happened. You recently created a couple empty blogs (probably planning on adding something to them latet.)"Um no. The SyeTenB blog was created with my profile and ALWAYS appeared with the profile. The proofthatgodexists blog was created with the profile around the same time when I was having log-in issues. The other blogs is Eric's Blog, to which I am an admin."You misread my post and thought you could easily correct me by showing that you currently had a blog. (Interestingly, the link you gave is not on your profile.)"Erm, that's cause it's WordPress, not blogger."When I showed your mistake, you twist and turn because you are far too boastful to admit that you ever make a mistake."Your claim is laughably wrong.

  33.      "Erm, that's cause it's WordPress, not blogger."     I just think it's interesting that you would choose an unconnected blog. That's all.     "Your claim is laughably wrong."     Readers?

Write what you like, but don't cry if you act like a dick and get banned for it

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: