General feedback will be kept on line for as long as possible. Specific rebuttals will be kept permanently and linked to from the articles that they refute.
Any replies I make are in Bold
21st December 1998
I like your site, and expect to dig in to your listed articles. Do you, Orr, Dawkins and other defenders of REAL science versus Behe, Ward, Berlinski and other "design" protagonists keep a running dialog online which the general public can monitor?
I, for one, would be interested in such a website. But, of course, who would be qualified to referee the input?? But then, perhaps that should be left to each reader.
Hi. I really liked your site. Can you link to mine?
1st December 1998
FYI, if no one has already brought this to your attention. In the U.S. the difference between first degree and second degree murder is premeditation. If you plan out a murder you could be convicted of premeditated murder or first degree. Second degree would be such as killing someone with a weapon in a barroom fight. In other words an unplanned event in anger or passion occurring at the moment.
Subject - Alpha Course
I was wondering if you knew anyone who'd gone further and actually done the thing ; I was considering doing it for just the same reason you did.
I was interested by the arguments ; did they not go any further than "there is really good evidence" "Arnold found it compelling" and the "Trilemma" ? Was there anything even slightly challenging ?
I ask this because when my wife (semi-Christian) wanted our son christened and I said I was an atheist I got told a pack of lies about secular evidence and Eusebius ; the vicar in question shut up rapidly when he realized I knew who Eusebius was, what Tacitus said etc but this was ridiculous stuff ; worse than the sort of things that errancy posters throw out.
I do wonder if Vicars rely on the complete ignorance of most non-believers and basically "Lie for Jesus".
"Thanks also for making us think about the best strategy we could evolve to deal with the more informed skeptics. One thing is clear: the ordinary bog-standard Alpha course isn't a help in such cases. "
Is this an admission that the whole thing is bullshit ? Is it only for people who aren't 'atheistically educated' enough to laugh at the trilemma ?
i read ur views on Islam and although it is no avail to me to write to you and in full knowledge that you will refuse to acknowledge another view contrary to urs although superficially you may even attemp to i felt the necessity to write to you.
Your views on Islam ignore some fundamental concepts. This is quite apparent upon your views of The Prophet himself. Inorder to justify ur views that the HOly Quran is his own product you attempt to propogate that he was man with selfish desires. One of these examples is the fact that he had more than 4 wives. You however fail to regard his personality and his treatment of them and of people in general. There are many books written about the life of The Prophet by muslims and for those who do not desire to read about it from an Islamic point of view can find books by non muslims. HOwever each and every book with a sense of objectivity is unfailing in its agreement that the Prophtet was of an incredible personality. He was trustworthy, never lied, loyal, kind and generous. Today these words are only mentioned but there are very very few people who are an embodiment of such characteristics. Also if he was a truly selfish man then why did not use those supposed revelations for his advantage. He need not have married those women, he could have lived as a wealthy man not as one who went without days not eating so that he could give his food to someone worse off than himself. Despite your athiest views you must admire a good character and does this not sound like one? Furthermore a person of a good character does not lie especially with such a tantamount subject as receiving a revelation. Im not here to chanllenge your athies views. My intention is to make clear that those views should not make you subjective.
However The Quran has said amongst many other things two things which have been scientifically proven to be true, The continual expansion of the universe and the explosion when earth came about. YOu may cite thses not to be true. However you would only do that with ur limited knowledge for all humans have incomplete knowledge. Also if ur a genuine athiest or a person who has to sought to find the truth and found it in athiesm is it not ur responsiblity to find out whehter it is really true??If you wich to pursue ur criticism of Islam please put ur prejudices aside and at least try to find out what it really is.
30th November 1998
re: your discussion of absolute morality & killing.
the most interesting thing to me is the uncritical way in which christians accept these moral absolutes from a god that apparently has no qualms about disregarding his precepts when it suits his purpose, especially killing, as evidenced by the massive body count god racks up in the old testament. they'd be up in arms if another mortal presumed to issue laws which he himself had no obligation to obey, but because it's god it's ok for him to act in any manner he deems fit at the time.
even more unbelievable is the fact that christians hold that the proper relationship of man to god is that of a child to a loving father. that makes their god a child-murderer in my book. it would be interesting to know what god's morality is and what acts he himself feels obligated to refrain from.
20th November 1998
Everything that exists has a cause
The universe exist therefore it had a cause
The universe couldn't have created itself because out of nothing nothing comes
Therefore the cause must be uncaused, self-existent, eternal
The cause is an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God, the only God, Jehovah!
Prove that everything that exists has a cause. I assume that you know about everything as you have stated that you know something about everything.
Is your reasoning that you have never seen anything exist without a cause? Well I have never seen anybody create something out of nothing.
17th November 1998
I just finished reading your web page. Your conclusion regarding the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament...
"Is it the sort of evidence that an omniscient, omnipotent God would leave behind? I think not."
... misses the point of Christianity. In the New Testament, Jesus on several occasions refuses to perform miracles that would convince everyone that God exists and that he is truly the Son of God, most notably right before his crucifixtion. Why does he do this? Because he wants the foundation for a love of Christ and God to come from *faith*. If you read the New Testament, you will see that faith in God -- without firm proof of his existence -- is the crux of Christianity.
Here is a parable I'll tell you... A rich and powerful man falls in love with a beautiful poor woman. He diguises himself as a pauper and goes to court the woman. After a long courtship, the woman falls in love with him and agrees to marry him. Only then does he reveal his enormous wealth and standing to her.
Thanks for the advice.
I'll bear in mind that I ought to value most those people who are systematically deceiving me.
I wish you well, my friend.
12th November 1998
I must commend your even-handedness in approaching Islam. I was half-expecting an unintelligent attach but found your commentary to be thoughtful. Additionally, you present questions which aren't easy to answer for Muslims.
I must mention, however, that the greatest obstacle in approaching Islam is the language barrier. As a recent convert, I had spent many hours reading the english translations of the Qur'an to find them unsatisfactory. Simply stated- the arabic used in the Qur'an cannot be easily translated, and with my very rudimentary knowledge of arabic, I can state that the third person problems and other issues you raise about the text are more or less issues of translation. Content, of course, is another issue. But one such example, again due to the translation, is the question of why in one part of the Qur'an a 'day' is equated to 1000 years and later to 50,000 years. This is an attempt to prove that the Qur'an is inconsistent. After learning the Arabic, I can confidently state this is an error of translation.
I will spare you additionally agony with these details, but the greatest obstacle to non-Muslims and understanding is the language barrier. There are many justified criticisms towards people of Islam and perhaps of the religion itself, and Muslims should learn to accept that those not versed in Arabic are going to have a hard time understanding certain concepts. Such as jihad. Jihad in arabic simple means 'struggle'. Like kampf in german- it can mean struggle or battle. Same with jihad. Western media relates all jihad with 'holy war' and so forth, when for the average Muslim, jihad means restraining oneself from evil or in a much greater sense, a war such as WW2.
Again, I would like to thank you for your objective look at the problems of Islam. A comment I must make is that, paradoxically to religion fanatics, the most moral people I have known have been atheists or agnostics. They seem to understand that life as we know it on earth is precious and that all life should be valued. Not just other Muslims, or Christians or Americans or whatever.
A couple of books that might be worth dealing with on your sight:
See "Jesus Under Fire" by Moreland and Wilkens, Zondervan 1996. Here's the URL at Amazon: 585176-8792036
The Design Inference, by William Dembski. 1998. Cambridge University Press. URL at Amazon: -3585176-8792036
9th November 1998
The peace of the Lord be with you.
On your page http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/quran1.htm you feature the site "Answering Islam" by Jochen Katz.
Actually, I link to just one article on that site
A Muslim response has recently been put online and I want to ask if you would consider in the interest of fairness from the same page a link to this response since Jochen's site is mainly an attack on the Qur'an and Muslim faith.
The response is found at this page
Naturally, I shall put a link on my feedback page.
I notice that this page claims that 'God wrote that the Earth is oval (Qur'an 79:28) over 1,400 years ago which was just discovered less than 50 years ago while the majority of Christians up to the 1800's believed it was to be flat, and then believed to be perfectly round.'
I always thought the Earth was an oblate spheroid and not oval at all. The fact that the Earth was not flat was known to the Greeks almost a thousand years before Muhammad was born.
Here is Qu'ran 79:27-29 in 3 different translations
YUSUFALI: What! Are ye the more difficult to create or the heaven (above)? (Allah) hath constructed it:
PICKTHAL:Are ye the harder to create, or is the heaven that He built?
SHAKIR: Are you the harder to create or the heaven? He made it.
YUSUFALI: On high hath He raised its canopy, and He hath given it order and perfection.
PICKTHAL: He raised the height thereof and ordered it;
SHAKIR: He raised high its height, then put it into a right good state.
YUSUFALI: Its night doth He endow with darkness, and its splendour doth He bring out (with light).
PICKTHAL: And He made dark the night thereof, and He brought forth the morn thereof.
SHAKIR: And He made dark its night and brought out its light.
As can be seen, none of these three translations from Islamic sources say that the Earth is oval.
As a new theological student and an atheist I was very pleased to find your site on the Net. I am also a newcomer to the Net and would be very pleased to be pointed in the direction of serious theological and philosophical debate. I agree with some of your correspondents about sources, though. I appreciate that it would increase the work involved but it would help to be able to look up the sources you quote.
I also agree with your correspondent who wants to see more non-confrontational debate and discussion. I am particularly interested in the nature of religious belief - what people mean when they say they have religious beliefs, how these beliefs differ from other beliefs, and what would have to happen to make them change their beliefs. Best wishes for the future of your site.
8th November 1998
Dear atheist friends
Browse website . Disprove him as a god and then talk about atheism.
Thanking you very much
26th October 1998
Just wanted to ask u if u believe in god (Allah)?
your answer would satisfy my questions about u !
Also just wanted to point out that Allah through Islam has pointed out the reason for why wer born. We have been put on this earth to Worship Allah (God) That is the sole reason for our existence, if u do not believe this u will find out soon enough when the time is right.
Your page is concerning Christianity is pretty neat. I also read your postings on alt.bible.errancy concerning the Bible manuscripts + variants amounting to 300,000+. I am wondering you you have references which deal with manuscripts and its variants in English which I could read/buy? I have Bruce Metzger's "Canon of the New Testament" and it is quite revealing to see fundies have been duping the commonfolk for centuries concerning a Bible whereas the truth is we have Bibles which consist to different set of books depending upon which Church one goes.
But anyway, I will be very pleased to hear from you concerning the references.
22nd October 1998
I haven't seen a great deal of your site yet, Steven, but it looks great. I found it, oddly enough, via a link at http://www.str.org/ I doubt you've addressed this point before - most people, including atheists, seem to have never given it much thought.
My position is, regarding the comment "Everyone has the right to believe what they want," that this statment is utter bullshit. It is flatly impossible for any person anywhere to truly believe any given piece of data "just because he chooses" and for no other reason. The human brain simply does not operate like that. If you'll try a simple experiment I think you'll find I'm right: I will assume you are now loking at a computer screen. Okay, choose now to believe that it's not really a computer screen but is actually a large corn muffin. Really believe it! Try as hard as you can! See! Can't do it. You may imagine it but believing and imagining are different things. The ABILITY to do a thing must preceed the RIGHT to do it. No such ability exists in humans. Therefore no one has the right to believe what they want. Please give me your opinion, and if you think I'm wrong explain why.
The Alabama Freethinker (TAF) - can be seen at here
Since I see that you recommend Peter Kirby's article, "The Historicity of the Empty Tomb," I thought you might be interested in my response to this article ("The Empty Tomb Revisited") at here (currently 63k).
20th October 1998
If there is no God then how pray tell did the earth and the solar system become so complicated? If that isn't enough evidence of God then, if the BIG BANG really did happen then how did the earth land just exactly the right distance from the sun? One millimeter off and we could freeze or burn. Maybe not as quickly as you think but eventually we would.
I'm a little worried by the thought that if we are any closer to the sun we would burn.
We are now entering what we scientists call 'winter'. In winter the Earth moves 2 million miles closer to the Sun, as the Earth has an elliptical orbit, not a circular one.
I just hope we make it thru to Spring when we will start to move away from the Sun, back to safety. Good luck everybody!
12th October 1998
I have found your website very interesting. It is refreshing to see some informed skepticism on the web. I have just read your article on the resurrection.
Have you read any articles by Professor Michael Goulder? (A church minister who resigned his orders). In his essay entitled 'The Baseless Fabric of a Vision", he examines the psycological theory of conversion visions and mass hallucinations and compares these with evidence available in the bible.
The second part of the essay looks at different viewpoints within the church - physical or spiritual? giving rise to the conclusion that whilst belief in the resurrection does not rest on a fraud, the accounts given by Paul etc. are no evidence that Jesus was REALLY there.
Also, have you read "The Myth of God Incarnate" edited by John Hick?
To Ken Bouchard, who suggested that Einstein believed in a supernatural god...
please consider this quote: "It was, of course, a lie you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it". A Einstein
Obviously, Einstein did not believe in the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. But he indeed was one of the greatest intellects of this, or any, century.
4th October 1998
i really think its time to let people beleive in what they want to. People with strong beleifs aren't going to change their minds, and are just going to argue. Its time to try to respect whatever they beleive, and carry on with what you beleive in. I understand that you want hard proof and evidence, and Science is the way forward for mankind, but you can't impose your beleifs onto others, as some people understand with their parents. my personal beleif is that Science and religion should work together, to build this world into a modern, safe peaceful place, with equal opertunities. I'm no philosipher, as you probably can tell, but it makes sense doesn't it?
30th September 1998
I have created a link to it at my own website.
27th September 1998
As much as you have rejected religions which believe in one God, there is no need to be sarcastic. You could have researched a little further on your article with Muslim, Christian and Jewish scholars and asked them the logic behind the statements made by the Prophets, an the Holy Books. Then you should have put your own ideas forward. Not just expressing them without any understanding of the religions.
Also, you should not have called Muslims 'illeterate'. Many of them are highly qualified people who have contributed to the good of mankind.
Thank you for your 'undertsanding'
Could you please tell me where I called Muslims 'illiterate'? I wrote that Muhammad was illiterate, but this is quite true, is it not?
9th September 1998
Dear Mr Carr, my name is Br.Mary Paschal O.C.S. and I have found your observations on the gospels very ignorant and frankly uneducated. Many of your "proofs" or rather observances are nothing new, mother Church has known them and told them for centuries. I'm sorry I will say something very ignorant myself but it is true you are a heretic not studying the Holy Gospels in the heart but in a worldly mind. May God bless you, Mary keep you, and remember God save Our Holy Father the Pope!
Br. Mary Paschal O.S.C.
31st August 1998
Please include a link on your page to my home page, because there is material there which is of interest to atheists -- namely, a section titled, "Questioning Atheism."
Two sample quotes from the page
Humility is not a common attribute of humans, and it is especially absent among atheists.
Atheists are using their dogma to set forth a relativistic, autonomous moral standard which emphasizes the satisfaction of physical lusts, urges and desires.
I have been an atheist all my life. I was always taught by my mother to believe in god but I refused to do so. I paid more attention to school and science than my mother. I have come to some conclusions about religion.
Why should an Atheist allow humanity to live in a lie? An example of how religion ruins man is how it allows the abuse of human rights. Europeans enslaved africans and controlled them with christianity. They used the bible to keep them from revolting. Europeans brainwashed them and convinced them that heaven awaited them if they followed the bible and did not revolt. The bible is a lie that must be stopped, if someone did it once it may happen again. No one must fall into the trap. Man must rely on himself to survive. Millions of ignorant people have to be educated.
People hide violent plans with a vail of religion as is seen by Islamic terrorists, KKK, NAzis, etc.
Religion is the greatest threat to Science! Before the rise of Capitalism, science was not accepted as it is today. As you know the Catholic church suppressed Copernicus and Galileo! The only science that they accepted was any technology that allowed the corrupt establishment to conquer and control people. It took a system of economy and government to allow science to flourish a bit. Capitalism as you may know corrupts religion and breaks cultures. Ever hear of the mixing pot? The society is so materialistic that religion loses power as people begin to pleasure flesh and no longer seek the drug of religion for pleasure as once was. Todays religion is mere hypocricu in this country! No one follows the rules of their own religion they just bend them. People believe in god just because they are taught or forced to do so. People seldom ponder the question.
IF Science must maintain itself then it must be through an atheist society who does not look for easy answers in a religion by accpeting that everything was magically created by a higher being! Science can provide the answers to everything but man must not be satiated by easy answers. Man should and deserves the truth to all and must search for answers using scientific method.
I feel extremely upset that people think of peopel like me as immoral and satanic for preaching against religion and empty belief in a god. I love to read about the latest in physics but I hate how people want to hgurt others by relying on peoples fearor belief of god. I wosh I could eradicate all religion and teach everyone that god is not needed. I want to teach that science and math can explain all if we work hard enough and that we can leave the confines of this planet and reach worlds beyond the solar system if we try to find ways to do it.
We should move away from god worship and materialism (even though i said it helps science)!!!!!!
P.S. I think that a form of philosophy not associated with spirits, gods, mysticism, etc. should not be called a religion. Religion is usually associated with god worship of any kind (monotheism or polytheism).
LET'S GET ON WITH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
24th August 1998
I'm a Pentecostal Christian but not a fundamentalist, which is a rare combination. I must admit that your arguments are clear and well set out. I have completed A Master 's degree in the text critical field and therefore I feel that I can comment with a little bit of authority. The problems of NT textual criticism does not belong to the NT alone. There are various original mss that are lost on some of the musical scores written by the great composers. A little bit of consistency should be applied here as well. Few persons doubt that these mss were in fact produced although these musical scores differ between themselves. Compare e.g. the Muguellini mss collection of the 48 Preludes and Fugues of JS Bach with the other mss collections available on the same book of Preludes and Fugues. Even there you would find a lot of differences. That does not mean that Bach never wrote these musical scores.
The problem with being an atheist or a Christian is that it is a matter of faith and not always a matter of rational opinion. There are problems with NT textual criticism. Problems that can affect issues of faith but at the end of the day I think that being either Christian or Atheist is a matter of personal choice.
Keep up your good work, although I think that a little less sarcasm might incline a lot of Christians to listen a bit more attentively to what you have to say.
17th August 1998
(I) Two other significant items Paul never mentions are: a) John the Baptist; and b) Jewish involvement in the arrest and execution of Jesus.
(As an aside, note Paul's comments on baptism in 1 Corinthians 1:14 to 1:16 and further note John 3:22 and 4:1,2 on baptism -- interesting)
(II) A possible explanation on the Pauline silence is that Paul was reluctant to take sides in conflicting legends about the historical Jesus. Paul was trying to promote harmony among the contending factions within his congregations. For this reason, Paul may have confined his comments about the earthly Jesus to just those matters were there was virtual unanimity.
2nd August 1998
Taking pot-shots at scriptures isn't going to convince anyone atheism is any more appropriate than any religion; inconsistencies and contradictions prove little to believer or sceptic.
Suggest you look closer at;
1. Evidence for god-like characteristics in the human psyche (eg. infantile assumed omnipotence)
2. The role of mothers in teaching infants primitive conceptions of right and wrong.
3. Evidence of 'symbollical constructs' in human psychology, as reflected in literature and drama (eg. in Death Of A Salesman -by Arthur Miller- Dave Singleman is a symbollical construct created by Willy Loman as a means of maintaining hope - giving hope may be seen to be a function of God).
Examination of absurdist plays by Pinter and Beckett may suggest a fundamental human need is to have a God in order to help us deal with life and HOPE for an afterlife.
Put factors such as these together and you may begin to crysrtalise a more convincing case for atheism, although I suspect you may then have to consider the agnostic position.
25th July 1998
Dear Mr. Carr:
I came across your homepage just a few days ago. I had already found an article by you titled, "Which Bible?". I see that you have expanded the material somewhat on your homepage.
I frequent a site on the Internet which deals with Biblical Contradictions. This site can be found by searching on TOPICS: Countering Contradictions I do not have the ability with my internet software to give the exact address.
Since I am an Errantist when it comes to the Bible, much of your research is very valuable in my eyes.
I wanted to know if I could have your permission to post some of your material onto the Biblical Contradictions board.
You are most welcome to join in the discussion going on there as well of course. In fact, you would be a most valued addition to this site, in my eyes anyway.
I love the photo of the girls with the fragment. I've posted a couple of links to your site at my web page if thats ok with you.
7th June 1998
Did you read books by Joseph Klousner, titled "Jesus of Nazareth" and "From Jesus to Paul"? Written in the 20's, the author says it is" written by a jew for Jews"...since his historical analysis is not going to be liked by christian believers. Klousner earnertly tried to seperate historical facts from fiction, and points out the likelyhood of some gray areas relative to the truth based on available evidence.
30th May 1998
Hello. I am a fellow atheist who is working on a book. I just started this project and am looking for support from other atheists. If you would be kind enough to put a link to my site on your page, it would be very appreciated. The URL is here
29th May 1998
The contents of the bible, whatever their source and whatever their accuracy are no more a proof of divinity than are the ravings of those who claim to have been kidnapped and medically examined by extra-terrestials. Nothing that violates the observable laws of nature can be accepted on anonymous "gospel" any more than it can be accepted by living "witnesses."
The wife of the late Carl Sagan said it best; "Carl didn't want to believe, he wanted to know." So do I.
And by the way, I claim that a pink Energizer Bunny is orbiting between the earth and Mars, banging on a drum. Just try to prove me wrong!
21st May 1998
What Christians, and you, have access to is the Bible. It can be demonstrated that the total content of the Bible is beyond human ability to produce. The source or "author" of that information is who we call God. Having God's existence and the Bible as a communication from him to man established, morals become simply a matter of "what he says goes". If you haven't taken time to OBJECTIVELY and comprehensively examine the evidence demonstrating that the author (i.e., not the penmen) of the Bible is beyond human, I would be happy to assist you. About an hour per week for six months to one year is usually sufficient to accomplish the task. Until you do accomplish it YOU'RE NOT IN A POSITION TO PASS JUDGMENT ON THE BIBLE.
I can tell from your page that you simply have a command of the English Language and limited, if any, knowledge of semitic languages. Therefore you are certainly ill qualified in writing an exegis on the Quran or anything else for that matter. For when Allah is referred to as We in the Quran this does not indicate any association with polytheism but a translation of the Arabic text. In many languages people are referred to as we in order to show respect. It also highlights Allahs magnitude. If you fail to realise much, realise this - true Islam is the only monotheistic and unadulterated religion in the World.
Your comments are very baffling ,as my Web pages on Islam never say that Allah referring to himself as 'we' in the Quran is a mistake.
18th May 1998
Thank you for your recent e-mail.
From your response I can only assume that you have not read the Qur'an.
Your opinions on Islam do not stem from any understanding of the subject matter and is the equivalent to me reading 3 pages of an encyclopaedia and claiming I have knowledge of the universe, the world and everything in it. (Which from reading the Qur'an I discovered was God's area of expertise).
I advise, tactically it is always to your own advantage to have background knowledge in the thing you are criticising, so that you do not fall flat on your face when the most basic question is asked of you.
I had mentioned that the Qu'ran contains a 950 year old man and a Flood which never happened.
Please do not hesitate to contact me once you have the requisite knowledge and understanding to further this discussion.
Furthermore it will be interesting to read the comments on your webpage in relation to this brief discussion.
16th May 1998
I was looking through your page again, and I noticed that my site has been removed from the 'pro-Christian links' section. I don't want to pressure you or anything, but is there a particular reason the link is no longer up? Perhaps my site is currently too young/small?
I am curious, as an atheist, what do you make of the Qur'an ? Have you read it? Have you found any errors in it? Are you able to produce anything of the like thereof?
Please note although I am not a scholar and do not pretend to be otherwise, the hadith have to be read in the context of the situation and Islam as a whole. Picking points here and there without any point of reference will inevitably give you a distorted picture. Once you have studied Islam as a whole then you will be in a better position to provide more informative comments and observations.
I welcome your further comments.
You wrote 'The Gnostic Gospels' by Elaine Pagels is a good book.
I shall investigate
(Steven Carr had replied) And forgotten. Perhaps you have evidence that the Romans even cared about the claim of a resurrection. Even Nero charged the Christians with arson. He could not charge them under any law for being Christian. He had to find a (trumped-up) charge.
The Jews certainly did care about the claims of the resurrection (see Acts 8, I think). All the evidence points to the Jews not wanting Christ to be followed after all they killed him. As I said in my original point, the quickest way to refute the claim would have been to have shown the body.
(Steven Carr had replied) You can still disprove that Elvis never died, by showing his dead body.
If people were causing trouble about believing Elvis was alive then the grave would be opened. Lately the US has opened the tomb of their unknown soldier because one family thinks it might be their son and they have a duty to prove it one way or another.
The difference with Elvis is that the people claiming Elvis is alive are not anti-establishment, they are harmless and the wishes of the family outweigh the needs of the Elvis believers or of the state. That was not true of Jesus' followers. The Jews knew where the body was and could have got it out.
Also, if Elvis is alive it makes no difference. But if Jesus died and is alive then it is the most significant event in history. Just as if he died and is dead it is the biggest hoax in history
(Steven Carr had replied) So Jesus and John looked identical? Herod had seen John. How could he mistake Jesus for John?
Perhaps he had never seen Jesus and had only heard of his deeds. He could then mistakenly think that John was resurrected. I think Jesus trial before Herod shows that that was the first time they had met.
The point being, I think, that people still believe despite evidence to the contrary. Again I would say that this is true of all of us to a greater or lesser extent (hopefully lesser in you and I). Some non-Christians (not yourself) don't believe for some incredibly dumb reasons, and if you prove them wrong they don't change their minds. The difference with any faith is the fact that it isn't simply about facts, it is about a personal experience, ie. it's a heart thing. And convincing ANYONE that what they have experienced is untrue is nigh on impossible, after all, how can we judge from the outside
I'd be happy to hear your reply, but I feel we could go around the houses on this one. I appreciate that I am unlikely to convince you. However, I am glad that at least you've bothered to look and come to your own decision. The website is excellent too, the bit on Islam was very helpful to me.
12th May 1998
I'm not sure if you want to get into discussion and counter discussion, but I've decided to tackle your points anyway, hope you don't mind.
"Many early Gnostic Christians had totally different views of what or who Jesus or the Christ was."
Not wishing to doubt that this evidence exists I would like to know where it is so that I can read it for myself.
Try 'The Gnostic Gospels' by Elaine Pagels.
"Of course, the bodies of crucified criminals are always filed away ready to be exhumed , in case people say they were resurrected."
Bodies were kept for no other reason than there was nowhere to keep them other than in a grave, no cremation was available. So bodies would have lain undisturbed for years.
"Why don't people dig up Elvis?"
If Elvis is alive then it is because he never died, not because he died and was resurrected. Big difference.
"Why didn't Herod dig up the body of John the Baptist when he thought Jesus was John resurrected?"
Perhaps the fact that Herod's belief has not propagated down through the years means that he did exactly that. He thought Jesus might be John resurrected, checked that John's body was still there and never mentioned it again. The Bible says 'he thought' and not 'he continued to believe'
"The idea that Christians give up their beliefs when they are refuted is just too astonishing to take seriously. Did the Jehovah's Witnesses movement collapse when the world did not end in 1914,1917,1925,1931,1975 etc?"
Equating JWs to Christians is wrong in my opinion. I want nothing to do with their beliefs. The Bible clearly tells people that NO-ONE knows when the world will end. In any case, as far as I know the JW movement did have mass desertions when their 'prophecies' did not come true. But your point that some people continue to believe long after they have been proved wrong is correct. I hope I don't fall into that category even if YOU might think so :). But I think this is a human problem, not a Christian one. Tell me, how many professors gave up their jobs, how many university departments closed and how many people plain stopped believing in the missing link when Piltdown Man was exposed as a hoax ? Not many.
"Did people stop believing the Turin Shroud was genuine just because there were three independent scientific datings of it to the fourteenth century?"
The Turin Shroud is irrelevant to my faith. I don't base my life on bits of cloth. It's nothing more than a religious curiosity. If the Bible were found to date from the fourteenth century that would be different. But it doesn't.
22nd April 1998
You stated: "Remember that Jesus could not have appeared to the 'twelve' as Paul said, as Judas was dead."
This also applies to Jn 20.24. Obviously, the death of Judas was not a post- Johannine development! (I've heard the suggestion that 'perhaps Judas wasn't considered one of the Twelve by John, because he didn't make a list'--see Jn 6:71)
I find it strange that an empty tomb could be construed as a proof of resurrection. When the great pyramid of Cheops was opened in the Middle Age, they found that the main kings room was empty. Does it mean that the Pharaoh resurrected.
JESUS SAVES!! Are you open at all? The way of life will seem foolish to the perishing. If you believe that we are a product of chance (which scientifically is impossible, can something come out of nothing?) than you have more faith than I will ever have! Only those who have experienced the love of God, and the forgiveness of him through his precious Sons blood, can possibly KNOW where we came from, and why were here. I am sure that you think I am some sort of freak (Thats me, a JESUS freak!) In 100 years or less we will all know! I am praying for you. Thank you for your time.
18th April 1998
Hey Steve! Great site. I'm in grade 12 in Brisbane Australia and I'm doing an oral on this sort of thing - not necessarily atheism, just a challenge to the christian beliefs. The info you've produced is terrific for my research and I'll let you know how I went (I know of quite a few shall I say "heavy" christian believers in the class - a challenge!) Because I haven't had to grow up in a church-going family, I haven't been brought up under any "superhuman" rules. I like being able to live my own life, not that of a large, thin-paged book. I've been looking for the evidence you show for a long time.
16th April 1998
Just read your Alpha page. I think the response of the organiser of the Bradford course is better than any I could give.
However, I would like to ask you to just forget the Bible for a minute and read what follows. I know a lot of people who refuse to believe the authenticity of the Bible, and so I'm trying to get an argument together which circumvents this (you can tell me how successful, or otherwise, I have been).
Christianity today tells the story of man named Jesus wwho was the son of God. He lived about 2000 years ago in Palestine, was crucified and rose from the dead.
Most historians would agree that a MAN named Jesus existed, even those who knock the message only deny the ressurection and his claim to be the son of God, they don't deny he existed. The message of his death and ressurection has been the only recorded Christian message that I know of, ie. I know of no evidence which suggests that early Christians gave any other message than Jesus Christ, son of God, crucified and ressurected. Nowhere do I see, Jesus the nice man, nor Jesus the unressurected.
Many early Gnostic Christians had totally different views of what or who Jesus or the Christ was.
Now suppose I am wrong, suppose the early church claimed that Jesus was just a nice guy and we should all follow his philosophy on life, the ressurection being added later for, or by, the Gospel wirters.
Well that was a successful message, history shows how well the Gospel spread in the years after Jesus' death. Why change it ? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Also, if the message changed once the original message had already spread it would have to play 'catch up' to try and overtake the non-ressurection message. It would also require the compliance of all the original believers to change their views. No evidence exists that such a thing happened. Common sense also suggests that this could not feasibly happen. I therefore feel that the only message ever delivered about Jesus by the early church was one of him crucified and ressurected.
This begs the question. If the authorities in Jerusalme killed him, then they did so to get rid of him. If, a few weeks later, his followers are proclaiming his ressurection (and, even if you don't believe the Bible account of this, it must have happened at some point) then why not just drag out his body and kill Christianity stone dead in an afternoon ? I would have done. But the body was missing. Eihter human hands removed it (none of the arguments I have seen for that stand much scrutiny) or something supernatural happened (which, of course, I believe).
Of course, the bodies of crucified criminals are always filed away ready to be exhumed , in case people say they were resurrected. Why don't people dig up Elvis? Why didn't Herod dig up the body of John the Baptist when he thought Jesus was John resurrected?
The idea that Christians give up their beliefs when they are refuted is just too astonishing to take seriously. Did the Jehovah's Witnesses movement collapse when the world did not end in 1914,1917,1925,1931,1975 etc?
Did people stop believing the Turin Shroud was genuine just because there were three independent scientific datings of it to the fourteenth century?
By discussing small areas of scripture (which I agree is valid) are you missing the question What is the alternative, and does it fit the historical view that we have ?
I have studied a lot of the so-called contradictions in scripture (but not to your depth) and found them, after some study, not to be contradictions at all. In the end I have given up, because I believe, not just because of the evidence in the Bible but also the evidence in my life (which is hard to prove to others and equally hard to disprove to me).
God is about relationship, not science. If you met the girl of your dreams would you spend the rest of your life getting to know her before deciding whether or not to marry her ? No. Why ? Becasue, whilst you would undoubtedly use your head in your decision, your heart would have a big say too. And you would never truly get to know her until you were married to her (or living together). It's the same with God. I think it was St. Augustine who said that 'You have to understand to believe, but then you have to believe to understand'.
Please feel free to post this, reply to it, etc.
Thanks for your site, very interesting. I'm a Christian and would like to discuss your required evidence for the resurrection.
Doctor's Certificate of Death: I doubt that this would be a foolproof piece of evidence. It would be open to claims of forgery or of being just a prank. After all, there are manuscripts such as the Rylands manuscript which are historically extremely close to the events described and yet are still not believed by non-Christians.
Interviews: Or several eye-witness accounts ? (I understand your arguments on this, but even if they were first hand accounts you could still say they were lying or deluded). Obviously that isn't going to cut it either.
Videos: Did you see the programme on Channel 4 a few years ago about dissecting the alien bodies supposedly found after the Roswell incident. Did you believe it ? Did anyone ? Not good enough evidence, too open to tampering.
Documentary evidence that the room was locked: Er what is a piece of paper saying that a room is locked if it isn't documentary evidence ?
Appearances: Well, he appeared to the disciples several times out in the open, and to the 500 (I forget which Gospel). Also, remember that he cooked them breakfast and ate with them, so the 'spirit' argument is a bit weak.
One final point. You say that you would be convinced by such evidence. I'd ask you to consider that carefully. When I became a Christian I thought that since I have a very logical mind I could convince people purely by reason alone. You can't. The head stuff is all very good and, for people like yourself, essential. But if your heart is closed to the idea of God, you feel you have no need for Him, then a bunch of facts, however well argued, will not change your mind.
Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to reply. Please feel free to post this on your site. I'm going to read your Alpha course appraisal now and get back to you.
Enjoyed your debate response. One thing that always bugs me about christian apologistis that they always want to do use the bible as proof of Jesus's existance. I would love to argue the point of jesus as an improbability using science, as our tool. From the field of astronomy: Given, that the Hubble field of vision can take in 300 million light years and that a light year is calculated at 186,000 miles per second X 60 X 60 X 365. Two questions come to mind: 1)Where is heaven--is it beyond the view of Hubble? and now the big question 2)) How far out in space is Jesus today if he died 2,000 years ago? I think we should organize a search for jesus. We know he can't go faster than the speed of light because Einstein proved you would travel backward in time if you exceeded the speed of light.
12th April 1998
I was surprised by Stephen Motyer's claim, in his opening statement, that biblical scholarship has re-evaluated Paul's knowledge of and reliance upon Jesus tradition - coming to the conclusion that both have, until now, been underrated.
Do you know where he is coming from on this? Is this only conservative apologists, or is the shift more widespread than that?
My personal suspicion (which I've seen hinted at, but not proved) is that Paul refrains from using the Jesus tradition in his arguments because he faces opponents who THEMSELVES use "sayings of the Lord".
One theory I've heard would label these opponents as the "James" faction of the early church who had known the "historical Jesus" and used that knowledge to authorize their program to the detriment of Paul's own (Eisenman, Jesus: The Brother of Jesus).
The other theory would see them as followers of a Christian Wisdom which would eventually become Gnosticism. (At least hinted at in "Kerygma and History in the New Testament" by James M. Robinson, in _Trajectories Through Early Christianity_ by Robinson and Koester).
The debate looks interesting. I'm not sure who to root for, as my sympathies run both ways :-)
From where do you conclude that the entire group of 470 people arrived at Antipatris by the end of one night? Is there anywhere in that passage excluding the possibility that Paul rode with one or more of the 70 horsemen, thus arriving in one night?
I am having trouble understanding your point. If you can, please help me along in my understanding of it. In the NIV translation of the Bible, Luke 4 and Isaiah 61:1,2 match up fairly well. On what grounds are you makin the assertion that Jesus read from two different parts of Isaiah?
I have read your article and am puzzled by a simple question, in your veiw, why is it necessary for Mark to have been Jewish to have been an eyewitness, or at least in contact with one?
I would suggest that your line: "In chapter 2 , Jesus performs his first sign, and then in verse 23, it is stated that Jesus did more signs, and then in 4:54 , he does his second sign. ", should be with drawn. I suggest this on the grounds that you are trying to show an inconsistancy and in appearance it seems to be. But if you look more closely at the verbage, I'm sure you will conclude that the statements in John are coherant. In particular, John 2:11 states,"This, the first of his miraculous sins, Jesus PERFORMED AT CANA OF GALILEE. . ."NIV (My emphasis added.) Then, prior to verse 23, in verse 13 the John says,"When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem." And thus, in Jerusalem, Jesus does as verse 23 records. But, in chapter 4 verse 43, we learn that."After the two days he left for Galilee." Thus Jesus comes back, heals the officials son, and this is recorded as the second miracle IN GALILEE. My point is, when it recounts the number of miracles performed, John 4:54 is not a sum total of all the miracles performed, but only a sum total of the miracles performed in Galilee.
Wouldn't you agree?
(quote from opening comments on debate with Stephen Motyer)
'They even know what Jesus prayed at a time when they tell us all the eyewitnesses were sleeping. As the disciples were getting some 'shut-eye' while Jesus prayed in the Garden, perhaps we should call them shut-eye witnesses'.
What if the eyewitness (source) of Jesus' prayer wasn't one of the sleeping disciples? Read Mark 14:51,52. Who was this young man? How long had he been observing Jesus? Could he be a possible source for the prayers? If not, why not?
Your failure to recognise his presence at the events as a likelihood are an example of intellectual dishonesty which I hope you will desist from in your 'debate'.
6th April 1998
Dear Mr. Carr -
Was introduced due to our common name "Steven Carr". I, however, am an American submitter (aka Muslim).
I write to ask you a few questions regarding your critique of the Quran. Let me first state that I follow Quran Alone and due not subscribe to (nor have even read) any Hadith. The Quran makes it very clear that no outside teachings with regard to ISLAM should be taken as doctrine. Obviously, traditional Muslims disobey this and many other commandments in the Quran.
My questions to you (if you should have the time and/or inclining to answer them) are as follows:
(1) Who translated your English version of the Quran?
I normally use the one by Muhammed Shakir, or sometimes Marmaduke Pickthall or Yusuf Ali
These are found at Islamic Texts Page
I am willing to guess the translator's native tongue was not Arabic. The only translation known to me by a native Arabic speaker to English is by Egyptian Ph.D Rashad Khalifa. Translations from Arabic are discouraged due to the belief Arabic is the only language in which the Quran should be read, and secondary egotistical reasons. The english versions are usually 2nd hand and imprecise. Example: Sura 2:106, you have translated as words (and understand it quite literally as words) but a more precise version would be
When we abrogate any MIRACLE, or cause it to be forgotten, we produce a better miracle, or at least an equal one. Do you not recognize the fact that GOD is omnipotent.
It is true that 'ayat' can mean miracle, but it can also mean 'verse' or 'revelation' or a 'landmark built by man' (See Sura 26:128). In the context of Chapter 2, 'miracle' is as clearly a wrong translation as 'landmark built by man'. Islamic scholars translates 'ayat' in Sura 2 as 'verse' or 'revelation' and 'ayat' in 26:128 as 'landmark'.
(2) Should there not be similarities and concurrences in the Quran with both the Torah and the Gospels?
Yes, as that is where Muhammad got many stories from.
The Quran claims to the final testament. The arabs claim to be decendents of Ismael, Abraham's son. It is a monotheistic religion and claims kinship with both Judaism and Christianity.
(3) Are you of the impression that the Quran claims to have been recited by GOD, him/herself?
God, or Gabriel?
The use of third person does not dismiss the possibility this is a divine scripture. The book says it was given to Mohammed via Gabriel, who obviously would refer to the Creator in the 3rd. Also "We" refers to the heavenly entities that assisted.
And I thought Islam was monotheistic. It seems Islam has as many heavenly entities as the Greek pantheon.
Why would Gabriel refer to the Creator in the third person, if he is repeating exactly the words God recited?
I write not to argue blindly. I search for only one thing TRUTH. And I believe Truth will ultimately lead to GOD. I would love to discuss more general religious themes with you for one reason only - Either I am right or you are right and only by doing what GOD commands us in the Quran will we ever know the truth:
"You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them." Sura 17:36
And I am dumb enough to concede that I may be wrong.
hope i don't lose sight of your site! thank you for speaking for me and millions of other people who are looked down upon in the same way communists were. we are expected to believe in the religion of the country we were raised in, no matter what the religion is. if we grow up and out of it, we are seen as deserters of the majority. i can't believe in santa claus or the easter bunny any longer, and now i am truly free. now i can use this time and knowledge to help human beings who really need it. i certainly don't have to tithe ever again. i feel the most sorry for those who make comments here to you, saying that they feel sorry for you because you don't have the delusions they have. they really do have their heads in the clouds. that is a close as they will ever get to any "heaven" in the skies. what a waste of life and the time they have here. please tell us more
30th March 1998
That's a pretty cool site, it really gets you thinking- maybe all those years of God, God, God, was all a bunch of crock!! I am a teen trying to figure out where I stand in religion, and it's nice to have someone questioning with you, instead of saying "just have faith" , yeah well it's not that easy to have faith anymore guys! Good luck in life although you may face some really bitchy christians along the way!!
27th March 1998
I write to thank you for making available your thoughts on atheism. Your writings are an early resource in my personal enlightenment, as for too long have I been plagued with questions, only able to answer them with ignorance.
May I proclaim you, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, my current "saviour."
24th March 1998
I read with interest your articles on Paul and Absolute Morality. It is a pleasure to read an atheistic viewpoint which lacks the typical atheists' venom.
I must, however, disagree with you. First, let's discuss Paul.
It should not suprise you that his letters don't quote the Gospels. The Gospels were written to inform, enlighten and convince the unbeliever.
The people who Paul wrote to had already heard them, or they would not be believers! Paul had no need to convince people who had already heard about Jesus and had become Christians.
While I agree that the people in Corinth that were fornicating and behaving immorally, and who Paul wrote to, were indeed believers, it is hard to read Paul's letters and say that he was not trying to convince people of his views. Is there any evidence that the Gospels were written primarily for unbelievers?
Did Paul preach the Gospels? If you look a I Cor. 2:2, you will find that Paul preached, 'Christ crucified'. Surely, this reflects a knowledge of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Pauls preaching contains the very heart of the Gospel message.
Paul says he preached nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. This means that he did not preach on the life of Jesus, just the crucifixion. We have no evidence that he preached the Gospel stories.
Now, in regard to Absolute Morality. The 10 Commandments says simply, 'You shall not commit murder'. This is absolute throughout the world. Cultures worldwide all agree that you cannot wantonly take the life of another human being. They may disagree (as you point out) as to what constitutes justifiable killing, but you cannot find a culture anywhere in the world which condones murder. Indeed, if an absolute morality did not exist, then you should be able to find cultures all over the world which not only allow, but applaud, random killing, rape, cowardice, etc...If an absolute morality does not exist, then when someone holds a gun to your head, all you can say is that you don't like their actions.
Is holding a gun to somebody's head always murder? Has every single firing squad only ever committed murder and never capital punishment? Your attempt at defining murder seems to fail. The fact that different societies have different definitions of murder , rape and theft prove that there is no universally agreed standard. You may think the Biblical standard should be universal, but this is a long way from saying that your standard really is absolute.
The fact that human beings have some values in common shows only that human beings all belong to the same species.
You cannot say that it is wrong. Does that sound like the kind of world you would like to live in? P> If you are truly consistent in your beliefs, then any right and wrong are irrelevent. Right, wrong, love, truth, beauty, joy, unhappiness, anger, jealousy; any and all emotions and values become nothing more than a chemical or psychological response to an external stimulus. The very fact that you publish you articles proves a desire for a significant existence. But in your worldview, the desire for significance is merely a cosmic joke on a grand scale. And the worst part of it all is that even the realization that it is a joke is meaningless.
I'm not quite sure of your point here? Are you saying that existence is only significant if you can break the laws of chemistry? Are you saying that there is something wrong with love because I am prepogrammed to fall in love with members of the opposite sex, rather than having the choice of falling in love with members of the same sex, or dogs or sheep etc?
Of course, you are misrepresenting my views, or are confusing atheists with Vulcans.
Saying that all emotions are nothing more than chemical responses is like saying that a Beethoven symphony is nothing more than dots on paper. On one level, I have to accept that this is indeed very true, but I can't help thinking that is a deliberate misrepresentation of what dots on paper can mean.
Saying that we have chemical reactions is indeed very true, but is a deliberate misrepresentation of what chemical reactions can mean.
In any case, as you believe that God designed the human chemical system and created hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen, endomorphins, adrenaline etc, why do you complain when they work effectively? Would it be better if they did not work as designed?
Thank you for your time.
I noticed that you don't have anything rude to say about jews. Are you afraid of being labeled anti-semitic?
19th March 1998
71% of mankind professes belief in the local religion, whether that may be Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or even some of the African tribal religions. Isn't this statistic staggering? It answers my question as to who creates religions. Besides, we are all born atheists.
Religion is learned.
I WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THE SUBJECT OF ATHEISM IN DETAILS
12th March 1998
Firstly, congratulations on your site. It's a great resource. I'm putting together a presentation of my own views, entitled, 'Why I'm Not A Christian.", basically as a hyperlinked collection of all of my arguments to refer people to, so that I don't have to re-hash them all of the time.
5th March 1998
Hello Steven and thanks for a very interesting site.
I have only at this time had time to skim and download your articles on Christianity and would like soon to have a look at other areas. I am a "born again" atheist after about 40 years as a Christian (both orthodox and cultic).
Your essays on Christianity are of particular interest because they match my recent studies and interests in every way. You mentioned Larry A. Taylor in connection with the Gospels/eye-witness essays. Is his work online?
Another web-site that I have found very thought-provoking, and that you might like to add as a link to yours, is Earl Doherty's "The Jesus Puzzle". He presents quite a plausible case for their never having been any historical Jesus at all. Here
Are you aware of the site for the Journal of Higher Criticism? You probably are --- it is just that these sites could well complement what you already have. Here
There is an interesting article there that argues that the story of the young man falling from the window while Paul was preaching late into the night was derived from a popular motif going back to The Odyssey. (I also wondered why you made no mention of other parallels between the Bacchae and Acts ... e.g. the tongues of fire on the devotees of Dionysos, and the botched attempt at the 'exorcism' that resulted in those possessed turning on the would-be rescuers. But of course the parallels in pagan literature and customs -- not just in the Bacchae -- are legion.) Another is a pretty thorough study of the "political fiction" behind Acts 18.
I am personally intrigued with the possibility (through studying Mark, now, and dwelling on its midrashic nature) that the character Peter was just as much an "anthropomorphism" of a religious-philosophical doctrinal point as Jesus himself. Wondering if you can point to any readily accessible sources that might throw some light on this idea (whether supportive or (and especially!!) critical of the idea.) Specifically I am thinking of the indications that Peter was an office or title or position rather than a literal historical person, and that the literature that has his beginning as Simon (Hearing) and changing to Peter (Rock) and Jesus' final act being to emerge from a rock and appear to Peter etc etc etc. was a midrashic/symbolic expression of a set of the most primitive Christian doctrines. Any pointers to where I might find guidance (or warnings to back-off) in this line of thinking would be appreciated.
Many thanks again for you informative site,
26th February 1998
your make a very good argument, I can give you a lot more, you see, many who have studied "God", ect, in modern time's conclude, as I , that mankind has consistantly manufactured God, the being is man's answer to our desire for justice, and a deserving life after death, The problem is..it's not there. Here are some good serious answer's from A. What the jew's found out about christ, and B. a good book to answer any other question's.
The Site :http://www.outreachjudaism.org/mailshow.hts?monotheism and the Book, Written by a former Catholic Nun : "A history of God" By Karen Armstrong,Publisher : Ballantine Book's, New York Read the Book, it's very honestly true.
23rd February 1998
you dont Know Any thing karl even your argument is weak I am sure you did not study the history good and you dont know any thing about quran or how it has arrived to people there is some people who memorize the whole quran from thair fathers up to this time SO SIMPLY YOU KNOW NOTHING YOU NEED TO STUDY more AND DONT COME TO CONCLUSON JUST FROM SURFING THE KNOWLEDG SOME TIMES FEW KNOLEDGE WORSE THAN THE ONE WHO DONT KNOW ANY THING
20th February 1998
I didn't have time to look at all of your homepage.. but the reason that mark over looked some Jewish aspects was because he was writing to the Romans. If you noticed the word Immedialy is use alot in his Gospel suggesting that Mark wrote the gospel in a way that is fast paced and with athourity. Were as Matthew was writing to the Jews and showed Jesus as a king that is why Matthew is the only gospel that has the passage were it has the sign Jesus king of the Jews over Christ's head when he was onthe cross
My reply. The fact that Mark was writing to Roman Gentiles hardly excuses him for getting Jewish aspects wrong, and implies that Matthew, who used Mark as a source, could not find a better source
First of all you are forgetting that the Koran, can be memorized in Arabic. This kept it from being unchanged. When they compiled the koran they had these memorizers with them so there is no mistake. And it is a miracle that this book can be memorized. How many people do you know memorized the bible? And you should check out the science in the koran sites.
Dear Mr. Carr: I am delighted to have found your page, on the way to doing more research on Corliss Lamont's Humanism. Will be in touch again, but not to debate.
11th February 1998
Excellent stuff again. How on Earth do you know all this stuff? Where do you get the time to read up on it and then to write about it? Are you a student or a lecturer in the subject? I am intrigued. You certainly know more than most believers. Unfortunately I can only read these essays late at night before bed and I forget most of the facts by the time I am in discussion with christians. They of course would not read your essays for fear of being sent to hell.
6th February 1998
I see that you are not an angry, unbalanced person railing against those with faith id God or a god. In fact, I am impressed by the fact that you seem to admit that atheism is a sort of faith, a bit of honesty that I rarely hear. Because of this, I am compelled to ask you some honest questions that I am sincerely curious about, as I cannot think up the answer; not so much a challenge, more I want to hear the argument. Anyway....
First of all, I see that you support Amnesty International. They do work that forces one to make value judgements (ie: torture and denial of human rights is a bad thing). From an atheist's persepective, on what basis does one decide what is right and what is wrong? To me it seems as though values would be arbitrary.
Also, you seem to be basing a great deal on evidence, evidence that is inconclusive when it comes to proof or disproof of a god. Given this (along with the emerging realization that evidence is illusory and the scientific method something of a myth), why would you choose to make your leap of faith into the belief that there is no God? If you think of Pascal's wager, he would say that you are making a bad bet.
Just curious. Have not found these questions addressed to my satisfaction.
2nd February 1998
Steven, If I didn't like "milk" for instance,I would feel it a total waste of time to tell the world I didn't like milk. What type of weird pleasure do you get out of criticizeing others beliefs? How are they hurting you? It's such a negative attitude with no good to be had from it. Such a waste of time. Sorry if you don't like me saying so but I really feel this way.
15th January 1998
Very interesting and stimulating essay as usual. Keep it up. I am curious though to know why you write these articles. what is your motivation.?
8th January 1998
Neat argument regarding absolute moral values . It will be wasted on christians though. Keep it up.The world needs free thinkers.
Was Jesus of Nazareth a Jew?
21st December 1997
I have found myself dragged into a evolution vs. creation debate with my brother (if you're interested you can find the on going debate at: Here )
I am a student of zoology at the University of Oklahoma, so I am capable of answering most of his biological science questions, but I am not at all well educated on the bible. I have found a lot of really outstanding information here, and I very much appreciate it.
10th December 1997
I'm an atheist running for god. Thought you might like to check out my site. here
23rd November 1997
hi! i'm wendy ang from the philippines and i'm trying to prove that church marriages are not anymore important or not needed today. i hope you could give me some opinions on why they are not important. i hope that you could reply as soon as possible
My reply I think it is entirely up to the individuals whether or not they want a church marriage.
Just visited your webpage. I would like to congratulate you on your honesty and willingness to listen to other peoples views.
See You on UK Religion.
19th November 1997
I took a look at your website today. It's really great! I can't believe I've never taken the time to go check it out before now. I guess there's a bit more time, now that the list has lighter traffic. It's the newest bookmark in my "favorites" file.
Thanks for all the work that obviously went into it (I especially liked the scanned-in pages from LXX and greek NT).
some of God's words can be better than others.the reason is that Quran was revealed bit by bit.God revealed the Quran when the people needed it.
17th November 1997
Another useful URL for your list: www.reformed.org
This is Jonathan Barlow's page which has alot of good stuff. Jon was on the Xtianity list for awhile.
In the name of ALLAAH, Most Kind, Most Merciful
You are missing the most important basic point about Islam.
There is nothing worthy of worship EXCEPT GOD. There is NO ILAH except ALLAAH. ILAH meaning something that is worthy of worship.
Human beings will naturally start worshipping something. They will worship money, priests, sex, themselves, food, stones, idols, lust, technology, houses, plants, cars, animals, Fame, etc..
Purpose of Islam is not convince you that there is a GOD. It is to show that we should NOT worship anything with ALLAH. We should not hold anything equal to ALLAAH. Or say he has partners or sons or father or daughters. Extreme monotheism. NO rabbits foot, no horoscope, no palm reading, no grave worship,etc..
The Purpose of Islam is to ONLY worship ALLAAH (GOD). I stress that ONLY worship the ONE GOD. He is unique, self-sustaining, not begotten nor begets.
ALLAAH=personal name of GOD.
Abraham, moses, jesus, noah, muhammad were prophets from ALLAAH spreading ONLY WORSHIP ONE GOD.
Here is link to site that i came across that may be helpful here
13th November 1997
Hello! Excellent atheism site, but their's one mistake:
Atheism is the lack of religion. By definition. ('a' means none of this here, and 'theism' means religion. Just like 'asexual') If you don't belive me ask the American Atheists!
Just saw your article in the Nov/Dec Skeptical Review. It's nicely written and concise. By any chance are you familiar with Bart Ehrman's 'The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture' (OUP, 1993, ISBN 0-19-508078-5) which cover the same ground as your article in extensio?
Keep up the good work.
12th November 1997
Steven...I stumbled onto your page regarding textual criticism/reconstruction...I am wondering if you have read anything by Bruce Metzger or Kurt Aland, textual reconstruction of the New Testament text? Perhaps it may be helpful...
I have not read anthing by the Alands, but I have Bruce Metzger's excellent book 'The Text of the New Testament, its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration'. I can highly recommend it.
8th November 1997
I regret having procrastinated a visit to your home page for so long. Now that I've linked to it, I'm sure I'll be back for a more in-depth visit.
The only article I've visited so far is your Alpha course experience. While I can understand their dilemma to a point (I think I would have been severely challenged if I had had you in my former Episcopal church's confirmation class :-), they DID bill themselves as open to skeptics, no-holds-barred.
No doubt, that aspect of the marketing is what the gentleman you talked to will need to re-consider. Maybe some holds, in fact, ARE barred :-)
24th October 1997
I am a fellow Demon customer, although I currently live in the US. I was wondering if you would like to set up a mutual link between our two pages. My homepage discusses atheism in depth, and has just been upgraded to a Site of Sites 4* site. Please take a look at my page and get back to me.
Hi, you don't know me , but my name is DAvid Dolan and I am interested in being added to the freethought webring. My page has a focus on humor as well as some serious things in my story and an essay, and poems, with more to come etc... I even have provided for a response from readers who maybe don't agree with what I have to say. I would appreciate if you, being a member, would review my sight and even if you do not find it up to freethought standards, I would appreciate some feedback from someone whom I agree with. (I have read your page and am very impressed, take that for what it's worth -- the opinion of a 17 year old boy)
Hi, Steven. Finally got round to looking at your web page (via uk-r-c), and I have to admit I found the first article I read (on the resurrection ) a bit of a disappointing strawman demolition job (does one demolish? burn or rend maybe. In particular, I'm surprised you follow the conspiracy theorist's approach which says - here's evidence for one thing, so just imagine all the other stuff that must be going on...
Even so, I'd be interested to see what would happen if you took whichever you feel to be the most powerful argument for the death and subsequent non-existence of Jesus to uk-r-c.
18th October 1997
Mr. Carr: thanks for providing the concise overview of Islam. It makes a strong impression. I can't help but imagine that all of these islamic believers are living with a fundamental mentallity of about 500 years ago. What needs we have that must be met!
Hi there, interesting page!
Does demon.co.uk provide domain adresses? Do you have to use their Internet service to be able to get a domain name at their server?
Anyway, welcome to my page some day,
If aliens exist in the universe, they could be atheist. see the movie contact starring jodie foster. it opens up people's minds.
4th October 1997
i enjoyed your information. am very new to the internet and not sure that i am contacting the reader. if this comes through to you please let me know. i have some information that you may find of interest . . .
27th September 1997
We met yesterday , I spoke on Christianity, boring, untrue and irrelavant.
Interesting reading your web page, I'll need a few weeks to get through it. The one problem I have with the idea of the gospels being written from a common source is that it leaves out the possiblity that God himself inspired the gospels and four people who never met to discuss it could have written the same things, as God was behind all of them.
You must have heard this argument before
Also the comparisons between OT and gospel events is just 'prophetical', again God inspired.
Of course this has its problems if you don't believe in God.
20th September 1997
hurrah for you, good job.
1st September 1997
Bravo, bravo, Mr. Carr. I enjoyed the page immensely.
26th August 1997
I found your pages and I think they are very interesting. I am especially interested in Islam, and would love to see some more material on it. It is difficult to get an objective view of an unfamiliar religion by only reading the propaganda pages. Critical analysis of the scriptures are sorely needed.
If you could send me some references to sources on this subject, it would be great. I am trying to get a good overview without having to dedicate myself to overly time-consuming research and study.
PS. I could not connect to the article on "The Hajj." I don't know if you are aware of this problem.
15th August 1997
Uthman may Allah be pleased with him, burned some copies of the Quran because some companions wrote explanation of the verses and sayings of the prophet next to the verses . His intention was to preserve the Quran .
Before I proceed , I would like to know if you beleive in Allah ( God ) . If you don't, then there is no common ground between us . If you don't , then I should remind you that there is a creater for this universe .
3rd August 1997
kindly visit our site at Here and hope you will add it to your feed back section.
assalamu alikum ,iv`e only been a muslim for 4 years ,i was born and raised in the usa ,my father is a russian jew ,my mother is a lebanese christian ,i know both the bible and the torah ,and now thanks to allah i know the QURAN.To me finding islam was by accident ,i read one page from the quran ,and i colud`nt put it down ,because there is no other book like it is the truth my friend and i hope that some day you will pick up a copy and read it with an open mind .And may be allah will guide you to his true path.
13th July 1997
Your conclusion section in Paul is based on rather scanty evidence. I'd suggest that you broaden from Romans and the letters to the Corinthians and have a gander at Galation 2,the Paul/Peter "conflict" that resulted in them shaking hands in fellowship. I think it's rather likely Paul's Gospel was entirely consistent with Peter's given the anticipation of problems and their happy non-appearance in this passage...
I guess there's a site for everything on the Web. It is good to see you honor Carl Sagan on your site; he has been an inspiration to me, too. Although, I am not sure if "atheist" is the correct term for him. I did not know him personally, but he was always very careful in his public presentation on the topic of religion and gods.
I would categorize him more as an "agnostic." The invisible dragon in the garage scenario in "Demon Haunted World" illustrates this. He has been quoted many times as saying "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." And although I cannot remember the exact source (and I will have to paraphrase therefore), I think he also pointed out that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." For example, there is very little *compelling* evidence for extraterrestrial visitations, but that lack of convincing exhibits does not preclude the existence of star-faring aliens.
The thing Carl Sagan taught me most forcefully is to keep an open mind. I need reminders from time to time. When I put that lesson to the test, the provable facets of the world oftentimes seem more wonderful than all the fictions created by man.
I only stumbled across your page a few moments ago in a search for articles on the movie "Contact." I will have to explore the page more fully. I'm sure it must generate a lot of flak for you. The novel "Contact" addresses many of the issues which might surround the actual receipt of an alien message. I haven't been to the theater, yet, but if the movie honors the book, like "2001: A Space Odyssey" it will ask more questions than it attempts to answer.
Read your comments on the History Channel board and am impressed, not that that should mean anything. I'm just a young college kid with no real knowledge of anything on this subject, but I came by to check these pages out on your recommendation. All I can say is, great job, keep up the work, and way to show up that arrogant fellow Ristau, even if he refuses to open his eyes. Well, good tidings from America; and "Cherrio!!". (I don't even know if that was spelled right or if that's even said anymore. Sorry, about the dumb British stereotype, tried to think of a witty way to end this; hope it worked.)
6th July 1997
I liked your page. You provide good info and some very useful links.
You might like to take a look at The Washington Ethical Society
The site is pretty self-explanatory. I am a member of the Washington Ethical Society, and enjoy much of what the society has to offer.
Keep up the good work!
Just to say you are our Site of the Week. As we said - not for style, but certainly for content.
22nd June 1997
Steven, kindly visit here for more insight to atheism and religions as a whole and we hope to receive your comments.
31st May 1997
25th May 1997
From a believers POV:
This is the first athiests pages I have visited which has appeared to provide well laid out evidence to support the authors assertions. There are certainly points which deserve to be seriously considered when evaluating the construction and accuracy of the biblical text.
One small point is that I would prefer more open and immediate access to the authors own work.
13th April 1997
You may wish to visit my page ATHEIST THOUGHT.
It is a small website aiming to give atheist items roughly on the scale of radio Thought for the Day.
I would be very glad if you were to add a link to my site and also to my magazine The LADY GODIVA which carries humnaist and humanist-compatible articles. You might like to link to that too.
I need hardly say that I like your very comprehensive site and I will give it publicity via links in both of my sites
The relevant URL's are given below :
I got the address for your page from the errancy list. I want to compliment you on both it's content and on your approach. I will come back often to learn and will also share the address with friends. In contrast is the "Why Christians Suck" site, which is full of much good information that I would like to share with both theist and atheist friends, but frankly I am embarrassed by it's intolerant and angry approach. I will repeat some good information that I have gotten from there, but I will rarely send friends to the site.
Your site is truly humanistic. Thanks for taking the time putting it together. I think that it will do a lot of good.
(about the 'Martyrs' article.)
Really good work. Thanks. "Die for a lie" could easily read: "Free for a fee". :-)
I got the same message, but was able to find the article by going to http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/ and then to article which I just took a quick look at. I am very impressed with this site and think it will be well worth browsing in the future. Good work, Steve.
30th March 1997
I would like to say that your page is put together well, good job.
But I must disagree with your statement that "However, the only evidence we have are the 5 New Testament accounts." Xians can make a good argument that the empty tomb despite the Roman guard, the appearances, the lack of refutation, and the origin of the Xian faith are best explained by the Resurrection. I suggest you visit Secular Web - The Resurrection for an overview of the arguments surrounding the Resurrection that I pretty much agree with.
9th March 1997
I`ve just been to have a gander at your page, and I`m most impressed. There are a couple of points I`d like to take issue with, though I`m sure you`ll be able to correct my mis-assumptions :)
You seem to make much of the fact that Mark shows a great deal of evidence of being written by a Gentile, and draw the conclusion that none of the Gospels were based on eye-witness accounts. I don`t understand how this follows. If the tradition that Mark got much of his material from Peter is correct, then it`s fairly simple to imagine Peter telling Mark stories, and Mark going away and writing them down, but *because* he`s not a Jew and not familiar with Palestine he gets confused and puts in some glaring errors. Along comes Matthew, and says, `Well, he`s got the main points OK, but look, he`s got *this* wrong, and *this*, and *this*. I think I`ll write a corrected version. And while I`m at it, I`ll put in this other stuff` (`that I read in Q` or `that I saw, and was telling Luke about only the other day` or `that I was told by ... ` as appropriate)
OK, so it`s speculation, but it`s just as valid as your speculation that it was all made up..
You also ask where Mark got his transcript of the court session. But you say yourself later that it was considered normal when writing histories to put speeches into people`s mouths to sum up what they said. That seems to answer the question pretty neatly.
1st March 1997
I finally figured out how to access your web page today...for what it's worth I'm very impressed!
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