Mailbag

I have been sent the below YouTube Personal Message by a person (almost certainly female) that I may (or may not) have known in real life.

prosletyzing

Let us respond to her proselytizing.

After this life is over do you know for sure where you will spend eternity?

-No. I don’t particularly care what happens to my body after my death. Spending my post-life period as ashes is just as acceptable to me as spending it as a rotten body buried beneath the ground. Besides, no human body lasts for eternity. Yes, I do know you are referring to the bizarre (oft-religious) concept of brainless human thinking, something that is, as far as I know, impossible.

The Bible says that there is only 2 choices…

“HEAVEN” or “HELL”

God says that “SAVED” people go to Heaven and lost people go to Hell.

-[citation needed]
The case for a literal Biblical fiery Hell is pretty slim. There’s also a good Biblical case for Universalism (or, at least, no long postmortem punishment).

The “Good News” is that God LOVES us and wants to save you from going to that terrible place called hell. Check this really cool verse out from the Bible…

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have ALL men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

-An omnipotent supernatural being with multiple personality disorder (one personality that wishes all men to be saved and one personality that wishes some to be damned) is hardly believable. I do not think the word “all” means what you think it means. Does this “all” include Zoroastrians?

AJAL…God does not want to send anyone to hell. We CHOOSE where we are going to spend eternity!!

-According to the most commonly accepted Christian theology on this topic, God is all-knowing and all-powerful, thus, he knows our choices before we make them and has determined what our choices would be from the day he created the Universe, and, probably before (what would be the meaning of ‘all-powerful’ if he didn’t?). Determinism makes more sense than free will all the way, in both the secular and religious worldviews.

We all deserve to go to Hell because of SIN.
When we sin we break God’s laws of righteousness!

-So your god is a sadist, too, wishing people to suffer for reasons undetermined (remember, if God is responsible for creating everything, he is responsible for creating sin).

~ God will send every LIAR to hell. That means we all deserve to be there but we do not have to go there!!

Relevant part begins at 0:24

We can’t just tell God that we are “SORRY” for what we have done wrong!

-Why?

You can become righteous in God’s eyes by trusting Him to forgive you!

-Why do we have to trust this god?
Now seems like a good time to trot out this Darkmatter2525 video (warning-impolite language).

You can become righteous in God’s eyes by trusting Him to forgive you! Being saved is a FREE GIFT from God. PLEASE keep reading and I will show you how to be saved OK?!! :)

-What difference does it makes if one admits his/her sin? The sinful act still happened. If the gift is “free”, why does it not guaranteed from birth?

– Jesus Christ was SINLESS. He didn’t have to die. When He died it was to PAY YOUR SIN DEBT in full…

-Depends on the definition of ‘sin’, doesn’t it? Also, Paul never had a video recording of Jesus’s entire life.

– YOU CAN BE SAVED RIGHT NOW!
All you have to do is trust Jesus Christ to save you!

Believe that He shed His blood for you by dying for YOUR SIN, and that He rose from the dead to justify you before God…

-Or should I hedge my bets and make offerings to all the most widely-accepted gods of today? In any case, I go by the evidence, not by simply accepting an old book as inerrant and calling it a day.

We have seen above a typical ‘please accept Jesus before you die’ message. It expresses genuine concern for me, but does not express any understanding of what a Skeptic like me needs to accept the claims of Christianity. This attempt at evangelism fails on a number of counts. Firstly, it does not even try to defend the idea that the Bible is any kind of authority on the process of thought, which modern science has not demonstrated to occur outside the Brain and demonstrated to occur inside the Brain. Secondly, it assumes a Skeptic like me has not heard the Four Spiritual Laws message repeated to him at least three dozen times. I live in America, a nation in which this guy is run unopposed by the other major political party in these United States. Ya think I haven’t heard the Soterian message of the Christians at least three dozen times before in my life? In short, here is Dan Fincke’s list of actions Soterian Evangelicals should avoid doing. The author of the above message really, really needs to read that list.

In the end, it seems a good time to trot out a NonStamp video.

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Huzzah!

The RSV (a de facto official scholarly Bible translation due to its translation of Isaiah 7:14) and the NRSV (its successor) are now available on BibleGateway. In all honesty, I find bible.cc to be far more useful for most purposes (Interlinear! Strong’s Concordance! 19 and 18th C Commentaries!).

Hat Tip: The good people at BibleInterp. Every student of the Bible should subscribe to their RSS feed.

Make Your Own Conspiracy Movie Within A Year, Get $, Dupe Millions of Credulous 20-Something Males

As we all know, conspiracy movies are all the rage these days (I’m not going to name any, you know what they are). Thus, I have decided to make a series of guidelines for any producer of conspiracy movies.

1. Be entirely unoriginal. Originality confuses you (not the viewer) and is unsustainable as originality breeds more originality. Eventually, if you are in any way original, you have to make up a claim every quarter-second just to make your story coherent. Don’t be original.

2. Make sure to have a conspiracy theory. The conspiracy theory must be made up entirely of pre-existing ones. It does not have to make sense. Indeed, making sense takes the novelty out of your conspiracy theory. Note: novelty to the viewer and originality are different things. You must remember this. The conspiracy in your theory must be made up of a very small number of people. Add in a few wealthy banking families into your conspiracy that had their best days c. 1900 AD (indeed, you are almost obligated to do so). Liberally use the liberally-used phrase “New World Order” to describe your conspiracy.

3. Talk negatively about the energy industry, pointing out some true facts and some untruths about them. Have promises of unlimited, cheap, and clean electricity. Make sure to either talk about pseudoscientists or have them talk in your movie. Portray them as brave mavericks persecuted by the establishment. Do not in any way suggest ‘the establishment’ might be right.

4. Talk about the bullshit that is fractional reserve banking. Instead of advocating hard money, advocate Congress-controlled inflation (or its equivalent). Complain about debt, not about over-expansion of the money supply. Make promises of unlimited prosperity if debt and restrictions on expansion of the money supply are eliminated and Congress (or its equivalent) has total control of the money supply. Pretend it is possible to print prosperity. Pretend the Federal Reserve System is a ‘private bank’ (ignoring the fact the Banks of the United States in the early 19th C AD were far, far more ‘private’-like). Pretend ‘private’ is a swear word. Make sure to have G. Edward Griffin in your movie complain about central banking (but not a monopoly over money production).

5. Complain about the erosion of the Values of the Constitution (no, not like that). Beardism is not recommended, though having the Founding Fathers be part of your conspiracy is A-Okay, as long as you don’t quote any Founding Father (except Hamilton, Madison, and Jay). If Jefferson is not to be treated as a saint, he should be treaded upon lightly. Remember, your conspiracy does not have to make sense.

6. Pick a 9/11 conspiracy theory and run with it. Add some actual conspiracies of the U. S. government to make your conspiracy seem plausible to the viewer. During this process, make Leftist tyrannies seem like joy-bringing fruits of all the wishes of the people. Ignore the Cold War. Pretend this book does not exist, or, at least, does not apply to every scenario of a revolutionary Leftist government (preferably, do the latter). Make sure to add plenty of untruths into your section on 9/11, especially about this publication.

7. Add the U.N., CFR, the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission into your movie as part of the conspiracy. Ignore the fact the U.S. Government freely ignores the recommendations of all these organizations when convenient. Ignore the fact the CFR YouTube channel is unmoderated (heck, even my YT channel is moderated as much as my blog). Make all (not-so-)secret meetings of powerful or ‘well-connected’ (though not always publicly prominent; you have to keep the element of novelty) people be viewed as somehow Constitutionally treasonous.

8. Pretend globalization is bad, criticizing managed trade agreements. Ignore the fact the world is richer because of globalization. Point out the real evil of poor governments being in debt, but blame the only the creditors, despite the fact there are two parties to every transaction. Mention the evil of GMO patents, but ignore the evil of all the rest of intellectual property (the controversy over which is more ideological than anything else).

9. You are free to integrate any kind of quackery into the movie at your choosing. The more divorced it is from reality, the better. Cancer quackery works best. Mention a few ‘Brave Maverick Doctors’. Castigate ‘the medical industry’ (this includes medical doctors/scientists whose research is entirely funded by the government) for not curing everyone’s illnesses with a panacea. Say they are in a conspiracy to ‘keep people sick’. Do not talk about s**llpo*, or if you do, deny it ever disappeared. Suggest (nay, boldly push) a(n entirely unoriginal) panacea. Say the conspiracy is ‘offering solutions to problems of their creation’. Make sure to integrate the food industry into your medical conspiracy.

10. You are free to talk about ancient megalithic architecture, though not to mention the terms ‘ropes’, ‘ramps’, ‘manpower’, ‘sand’, ‘centralized organization/administration’, ‘pulleys’, ‘hammers’, ‘cranes’, ‘sleds’, ‘saws’ or ‘chisels’ except in a dismissive manner. You are absolutely prohibited from using the term ‘quarries’. You are absolutely prohibited from discussing the ashlars at the Temple Mount. Pretend this megalithic architecture is the product of ‘ancient wisdom’, not necessity or despotism.

11. You are free to imply or suggest the (American) Government has far higher technology than it claims to have or does have. You are free to ignore physical possibility when discussing this technology. Bash Bush and Obama on their expansion of executive power and their assertive/aggressive/disingenuous/backstabbing/perfidious foreign policies. Always claim the U.S. military has done more harm than good since WW II.

12. You must imply the (American) Government has total power and does not know of the existence of a YouTube video with over a million views (again, your conspiracy does not have to make sense). Mentioning the Bush administration’s management of Katrina or failure to control the insurgents in Iraq is absolutely prohibited unless you integrate it into a plot for weapons manufacturers and ‘high business interests’ to make ever-larger profits. Mention ‘FEMA camps‘ as though they are a real possibility.

13. You are free to mention the idea the conspiracy you mention likes eugenics. Ignore this news story, or if you don’t (which is not preferable), mention it as a way the conspiracy you mention is planning to make the world’s population poorer (if so, ignore this graph). You may cast the continuing increase of the U.S. population in the same light.

14. Mention extraterrestrials or do not mention them. There is no in-between. If you mention them, make them a big part of your movie, either influencing the conspiracy or providing the free energy. You could sprinkle crop circles and the Roswell incident into your (wholly unoriginal) ideas about extraterrestrials.

13. You are almost obligated to mention Freemasonry, treat it as part of the conspiracy you mention, and look for even the slightest Masonic symbolism anywhere, anytime, and treat it as evidence of the pervasiveness of the conspiracy.

15. Mention a conspiracy to make anonymity illegal except for conspiracy members. Ignore the preponderance of anonymity on the Internet. Mention the ‘rise of the surveillance state’ while ignoring the hilarity of Google attempting to make every YouTube user use their real name (hint: no YT user who has allowed Google to know his/her real name hides his/her real name from the public). Ignore the fact sockpuppetry is almost impossible to prevent by any government.

16. Criticize the Roman Catholic Church-indirectly (you don’t want to offend a fifth of the U.S. population). You are free to use a few 19thearly 20th C AD cranks to argue that Christianity was made up by the grand conspiracy from paganism. If you don’t do that, you can at least argue that the Roman Catholic Church corrupted the True Message of Jesus (which should not be anything like what Jack Chick makes it out to be). Make sure to make New-Agery the religious ideology of your movie. Make sure to keep lip service to rationalism.

17. Make sure to use an implicit argument from authority by either quote-mining credible experts or allowing the opinions of discredited MA’s or PhD’s to be heard.

18. You are free to mention ‘sacred geometry’ as either connected with aliens, free energy, the wisdom of the ancients, or all of these combined. If you have no ‘sacred geometry’, at least have a ‘satanic geometry’ (which can also be used as a contrast to the ‘sacred’ variety) connected with the Freemasons. Pyramids are to be connected with hierarchy and the conspiracy.

19. Never be critical of David Icke.

20. Make sure you mention that the conspiracy also wishes to keep the environment polluted. In order to not alienate your AGW denialist audience, make sure to take either a neutral or dismissive stance on anthropogenic global warming. Imply fossil fuels cause more harm than good. Add some chemtrails and antivaccinism into your movie.

21. Pretend commonly-accepted government institutions exist for evil purposes. Do not recommend the abolition of Medicare, government road-building, or Social Security. Pretend government schools encourage dogmatism (even though APUSH teachers are notorious for openly challenging students’ most cherished patriotic beliefs). Pretend schoolkids learn less from the Internet than from government schools.

23. Last of all, if your movie contains too much common knowledge (e.g., smoking is bad), you’re doing it wrong. Novelty to the viewer is key to the success of your movie.

Stylistic Details:

1. Have a male narrator. A female voice may remind people of their mothers or teachers, which will possibly repel your predominantly male audience from continuing to watch. Females are often viewed as less rational than males. Avoid attractive female ‘experts’-adding these, especially early in the film, will make the YT commentators focus on these females’ breast sizes and will make them ignore your movie’s novelty.

2. Have music playing throughout the movie. As music is the enemy of rational thought, this will distract the viewer from noticing the falsehoods in your movie. When the supposed experts are talking, have at least some (preferably, a good dollop of) ominous music playing.

3. Make sure something on the screen is moving at all times. This distracts the viewer from noticing the falsehoods in your movie. Include at least one picture of computer-generated men in suits marching forward in neat rows and columns-this will institute a spirit of rebellion against ‘convention’ in most of your audience who are still watching your movie and will make them more likely to continue to blindly accept your movie’s claims.

The Location of Dilmun, Part 2

See Part 1 for introduction.

Pillar 2: The fact Utnapishtim, the hero of the Assyro-Babylonian flood story, is said to live “at the mouth of the rivers” in the Epic of Gilgamesh and “in an overseas country, in the land Dilmun, where the sun rises” in a Sumerian flood story means Dilmun should be associated with “the mouth of the rivers”, that is, the region of Qurna.

Response: This idea is most thoroughly discussed by Albright (back in 1919), in an article which Mattfeld curiously cites. Albright points out Gilgamesh’s journey is ridiculous if one assumes the “mouth of the rivers” is at the Persian gulf, which would make Gilgamesh’s journey through mountains nonsensical. Rather, the “mouth of the rivers” is the hypothetical ‘source of all rivers‘ in the far North, in Urartu, where the waters of the underground apsu rise into open air (search ‘apsu’ in Albright’s article) and around the place Utnapishtim happened to land (Mount Nimush, east of Assyria).

Pillar 3: The fact Sargon II describes Uperi, King of Dilmun, as living a mere 30 beru (anywhere between 72 and 160 miles) in the midst of the Sea shows Dilmun was under 160 miles from the emptying of the Euphrates into the marshes or the Persian Gulf. As Failaka remained uninhabited during the Iron Age, this shows Dilmun must have been in the marshes of Iraq.

Response: As the beru varied so widely in distance on land, it seems it would vary an even greater amount on water. A constant Northwest wind blows into the Persian Gulf, rendering sailing from the Euphrates to Bahrain relatively easy, especially in October and November, when such sailing trips occurred. As Albright himself says in his 1919 article, “it would be a very slow bark that could not make five miles an hour or ten miles a beru”. Thus, especially with the aid of sails, a trip from the mouth of the Euphrates to Bahrain could easily take two and a half days, even without the aid of Phoenician shipbuilders Sargon may have had.

Pillar 4: There is no archaeological evidence to place the Dilmun of the 3rd and 4th millennia BC in Saudi Arabia.

Response: While evidence of settlement in Saudi Arabia is, indeed, sparse throughout the 4th millennium BC (see p. 31) in this case, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as hardly all of the Eastern Arabian sites of the 5th-3rd millennia BC have been surveyed, much less excavated. Besides, evidence of Uruk-period settlement was found at Umm ar-Ramadh and Umm an-Nussi (both in the Saudi interior) and, possibly, at Ras Abaruq on the W. coast of Qatar. The most potentially profitable site for exploration of 3rd-4th(?)-5th millennium E. Saudi Arabian civilization is the tell in the center of Tarut Island, which is currently covered over by modern buildings. The tell has yielded an Ubaid sherd and a large number of Early Dynastic I-II ceramics.

Potential Pillar 1: This pillar is not actually used by Mattfeld on bibleorigins.net, but it is used as an argument for placing Dilmun on the Arabian mainland by a certain early twentieth century author. This pillar states that in a certain text of the reign of Sargon II, the border of Bit-Yakin, a powerful tribe of Sealand, stretched to Dilmun.

Potential Response: If one looks at the text in context, one can easily see Sargon II is describing his own territory, not that of Bit-Yakin.