A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the story of 10 year old Amish girl in northeast Ohio with cancer whose parents, alarmed by the side effects of chemotherapy, had decided to stop the chemotherapy and treat their daughter with folk medicine instead. As a result, alarmed at the likelihood that Sarah Hershberger would suffer and die unnecessarily at a young age, the hospital treating her, Akron Children’s Hospital, went to court. It lost the first round, but earlier this month the original ruling was overturned, and it was ordered that Hershberger undergo chemotherapy to save her life. The odds of her survival with chemotherapy were estimated to be on the order of 85%. Her odds without chemotherapy? About as close to zero as you can imagine.

One of the most disturbing things about this case is the reaction of so many people to it. It was not what you might hope. In reality, the predominant reaction was outrage that the state would so usurp parental rights. Indeed, if you go to the hospital’s Facebook page, you’ll see that there are still people ranting over it, with posts like this:

I won’t EVER EVER EVER step foot in Akron Children’s Hospital EVER EVER EVER again. My children will NEVER go there after what you’ve done to this family.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves. You want people to vote on something in November? I can tell you that I won’t be voting for anything for your hospital. Was it worth it? Putting this family through all of this? Was it WORTH IT? You’ve ruined your public image. You’ve ruined the confidence of parents trusting you and bringing their children to your doctors and hospital. I can tell you that I am not the only person who feels this way about your hospital now. People are scared to death to bring their children to you now. People talk and they don’t trust your hospital any more. It’s your own damn fault. http://journal.livingfood.us/2013/10/27/amish-girl-being-forced-into-experimental-chemotherapy-taken-out-of-us-and-recovers-with-natural-treatment/

There was a lot more of this on the Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, all with generally the same hysterical tone. There were post after post after post by people claiming all sorts of evil intent on the part of the hospital, accusing it of “poisoning” the girl, and all sorts of other nastiness. What caught my interest, though, was the article cited in the mini-rant above, entitled Amish Girl Being Forced into Experimental Chemotherapy Taken Out of US and Recovers with Natural Treatment.

That’s right. Sadly, but not entirely unexpectedly, the Hershbergers have apparently taken their daughter out of the country to avoid chemotherapy. The longer they do that, the more likely it is that their daughter will die a horrible death, and it will be her father Andy Hershberger’s fault. I realize that he has nothing but the best intentions and believes he is doing the best thing for his daughter, but he is wrong, so very wrong. If his decision is not reversed, his daughter will almost certainly pay a very unpleasant price.

As an aside, let me just make a brief mention of the first thing I thought of when I saw the name of the author, David Michael. Way back in the day, when I first discovered Holocaust denial and cut my teeth on combatting online Holocaust deniers, one of the deniers I tangled with the most often was named David Michael. He’s the guy I mentioned back in 2005 who gloated over the 9/11 attacks, calling the attack a “truly wondrous thing” and the day a “glorious day.” No, this David Michael is not that David Michael. For one thing, that David Michael is British, and this David Michael lives in northeast Ohio and writes for a website called the Journal of Natural Food and Health. He’s also very obviously antivaccine and pro-quackery. I only mention this because it’s a weird coincidence, and it’s hard for me to stop thinking about it. In any case, let’s take a look at what he claims:

Early in October 2013, the entire nation heard about how Sarah Hershberger, a 10-year old Ohio Amish girl with leukemia (now recovered), is being forced into a two-year unproven experimental chemotherapy study by Akron Children’s Hospital (ACH). It was just learned the parents, Andy and Anna Hershberger, took their significantly recovered daughter out of the United States before the court ruled that a hospital-affiliated, attorney-nurse, Maria Schimer, was made the medical guardian to make sure Sarah will get her treatments. Parents reported this week the child is fully recovered through natural treatments. Schimer is General Counsel (chief legal advisor) for Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), a close affiliate and business partner of the hospital. According to Andy, Ms. Schimer has never met Sarah or him and his wife and they were never told their child was being used in a research study—among other things.

Although they do not know it yet, the hospital now has a big problem they must deal with. Sarah is completely recovered, as of October 23, according to Andy. The hospital told them and the news media that Sarah would die in a few months without the treatment they recommend. Three doctors that have treated her with a natural, biochemical protocol using nutrition, supplements and plant extracts have declared Sarah cancer free based on cat scans and blood tests—confirmed three times.

Well, this is mighty convenient. Nothing fishy here, right? Now that court has ruled that Sarah Hershberger has to undergo conventional treatment, suddenly the father claims that Sarah is cancer-free, thanks to the quackery to which he subjected her. The three doctors who allegedly treated her with “natural therapies” are not identified, and no evidence that Sarah Hershberger is, in fact, cancer-free is presented. All of this puts the hospital at a profound disadvantage, because it can’t comment on Sarah Hershberger’s case because of patient confidentiality laws. In contrast, Andy Hershberger can say whatever he wants and doesn’t have to produce any actual evidence. I’d love to know the names of the three doctors to see what sorts of treatments they recommend for cancer and what sorts of tests they order to determine if someone is “cancer-free.” Let’s just put it this way. David Michael won’t take the hospital’s word for it that Sarah Hershberger will die without chemotherapy. I won’t take his or Andy Hershberger’s word for it that Sarah is cancer-free. Let me just challenge Mr. Michael: Identify the three doctors who allegedly treated Sarah Hershberger with “a natural, biochemical protocol using nutrition, supplements and plant extracts.” Let us know what the protocol is.

That isn’t to say that I think Mr. Hershberger is lying. He is almost certainly telling the truth as he sees it, but he also clearly grossly misunderstands cancer treatments, specifically why pediatric oncologists do what they do. Unfortunately, quack apologists are taking advantage of Mr. Hershberger’s ignorance about cancer, an ignorance shared by most people. Most likely what happened is that the chemotherapy shrank Sarah’s tumors to the point where they are no longer detectable on CT scans. This is a common initial outcome after early rounds of chemotherapy. The problem with lymphoma is that, although it is fairly easy to put lymphoma into an apparent complete remission, making that remission permanent is difficult. It takes a lot more than just a round or two of chemotherapy, a lesson learned painfully by pediatric oncologists back in the 1960s and 1970s. For example, for the type of tumor that Sarah has, lymphoblastic lymphoma, the treatment is two years duration. It consists of an eight drug induction over nine weeks followed by an eight week consolidation course and then maintenance therapy for a total therapy duration of 24 months. For chemotherapy for lymphoma, there are three phases, as listed above. The induction phase is designed to put the patient into remission. Consolidation chemotherapy is given to patients who have gone into remission and is designed to kill off any residual cancer cells that might be present, thus increasing the chance of complete cure. Maintenance chemotherapy is the ongoing, longer term use of chemotherapy to lower the risk of recurrence after a cancer has gone into remission. It’s basically lower dose chemotherapy given for two to three years to help keep the cancer from returning.

So it’s quite possible that Sarah has no detectable cancer. If that’s the case, it’s the chemotherapy that she’s received thus far that almost certainly did it, not the herbs and vitamins. If that’s the case, it also means that failing to consolidation and maintenance chemotherapy greatly increases the chance that Sarah Hershberger’s lymphoma will relapse, a chance that is probably a near certainty if she only received one or two rounds of chemotherapy, as has been reported. That is the price of quackery. Worse, relapsed cancer is always harder to treat. The first shot at treating cancer is always the best shot, with the best odds of eradicating the cancer. Letting cancer relapse through incomplete treatment breeds resistant tumor cells the same way that not finishing a complete course of antibiotics contributes to the development of resistant bacteria.

The next part of Mr. Michael’s analysis is even more unbelievable:

The Hershberger family says they never were told the chemotherapy was part of a research project using experimental chemicals. They also said the hospital did not get their signature for the second phase of different chemicals and only Sarah was asked to “put her name on the line.” They claim they were not told of the serious side effects. They said Sarah’s confidential medical information was given to the news media violating federal privacy laws. After a significant improvement in killing the cancer, they saw that the chemo was starting to kill Sarah and decided to stop the treatment and employ a better option to stop the cancer altogether. This is when the hospital took legal action to keep Sarah in the treatment study.

This part sounds highly dubious. One thing that you need to understand about pediatric cancer is that a very high percentage of patients with pediatric cancers are enrolled in clinical trials, well over 50%. Compare this to the 5% or so of adults with cancer who participate in clinical trials. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why survival rates for pediatric cancers have improved so much over the last four decades. So it would not be the least bit surprising if Akron Children’s Hospital enrolled Sarah Hershberger on a clinical trial. In fact, I’d be disappointed in the hospital if its doctors didn’t at least offer her parents a clinical trial.

Clinical trials run by facilities that receive any federal funding or grants (as Akron Children’s Hospital surely does) are overseen by the Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP Department of Health and Human Services, and children are considered a vulnerable population for which extra protections are mandated. I find it highly unlikely that Akron Children’s Hospital didn’t get the appropriate informed consent. However, I never completely dismiss the possibility that I could be wrong. So here’s what I propose. If Andy Hershberger really thinks that Akron Children’s Hospital failed to obtain proper informed consent, he has only to report it to the OHRP. If the drug in the study is a new drug, then he could report the issue to the FDA as well. In fact, I would very much urge him to do so if he thinks that he was not offered adequate informed consent for a clinical trial.

Next up, Michael accuses the hospital of being all about the money:

ACH will lose as much as $1,000,000 or more by not treating Sarah the full 110 weeks in this study and, according to our sources close to the case, has already billed $130,000 for the first five weeks. Add to this the various pediatric cancer research grants and other funds it is receiving directly or indirectly for this type of study. This is not counting the billings for treatments for the long-term side effects such as other cancers, kidney dysfunction, heart problems and nerve damage—all common for those that survive chemotherapy.

This is, of course, a misrepresentation of how clinical trials work. In clinical trials, the funding agency pays for all clinical trial-related treatments and tests that are not standard-of-care. The rest are billed regularly. Moreover, for the most part, hospitals do not make money off of clinical trials. The infrastructure to run them is hideously expensive, and funding agencies often don’t quite cover the full cost, particularly in these days of the sequester, which has hit NIH-funded clinical trials hard.

Ironically, Michael asks a question that should make all of those ranting about how greedy and evil Akron Children’s Hospital supposedly is think:

Why is the hospital going to all the time and expense, even with the risk of tarnishing their reputation, all to make sure their advice is taken as opposed to other available treatments widely known in Europe as well as clinics in the U.S.? After all, these are Amish people, and it could become an extremely costly public relations nightmare. ACH and NEOMED may have banked on the Amish to stay quiet and not talk to the outside world, knowing also the Amish does not sue in court thereby making more information public.

I’ve been asking the same question myself. It would have been so much easier for ACH to do nothing, to shrug its collective shoulder and let the Hershbergers do whatever they wanted to with Sarah. It would have been far easier, far less trouble, and far less expensive. By any stretch of the imagination, it would have been the easy way out. But ACH didn’t take the easy way out. While conspiracy theorists might fantasize that this is because there is some amazing prize that makes all the bad publicity and harassment by the “health freedom” crowd worthwhile. Reasonable people know that this is a matter of principle. The hospital is willing to go through all this hassle because making sure that Sarah Hershberger is treated according to science-based medicine is the right thing to do.

Comments

  1. #1 Mykaayah
    January 6, 2014

    In response to the Tim’s post, I am not white, I am black.

  2. #2 Mykaayah
    January 6, 2014

    I pray that one day, I will be able to do those greater things that Jesus spoke of. I believe he left me here for a reason and I desire to go about healing all. Let me make one thing clear, when I was prayed for in New York, I did not go up to be prayed for; I was called up. I had no idea that I was going to be healed, so it was not my faith that did it. After and only after I was prayed for did the Holy Spirit start dealing with me to leave New York and my job. I worked beside the World Trade Center and would enter into my job through the concourse in the mornings. I would have been on my way to work and through that concourse at 9:00 a.m., on 911. I really believe that if I had not obeyed and left my job and New York, I would have been in that building on that day. People that do not believe in God is so stupid. So many things have happened in my life, that my faith is unshakable. Blessings to all of you. My Pastor still prays for the sick and they are still getting healed, HIV/Aids, cancer, Highblood problems, limbs straightened out and healing blindness on the eyes and so many other things. One lady was in a wheelchair for 20 years and he prayed for her and she got up and walked. He is not one of those that is on national television, this is not important to him. He’s a quiet, humble man, who has a great gift of healing. I am still here and that is my testimony.

  3. #3 Mykaayah
    January 6, 2014

    Chris, the Jesus I am talking about is not your friends in school. I am talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the one who died on the cross for me as well as you. you are a real joke, are you a believer? You seem to want to play around with this instead of being real. One day you will need Jesus and he will show you just who he is. I will not answer any more questions or post any more remarks, but I hope all is blessed.

  4. #4 JGC
    January 6, 2014

    I don’t know Y God chose to allow me to live.

    The fact is that you don’tknow god had anything what-so-ever to do with your surviving and your classmates failing to: you simply believe god did, which isn’t the same thing at all.

  5. #5 JGC
    Oh, and Mykaayah?
    January 6, 2014

    I notice you’re speaking as though the bible were known to possess some inherent authority, and that the events depicted in the gospels where accurate representations of actual historic events.

    Why?

  6. #6 Mykaayah
    January 6, 2014

    JGC I could not resist this even though I said I would not comment. I know in whom I serve and I know where my healing came from and it was not a doctor. You are so sad not to have a relationship with Jesus, I do and I am not ashamed to say so. The bible does posses inherent authority, you should try it sometimes.

  7. #7 Chris,
    January 6, 2014

    Mykaayah: “. I am talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the one who died on the cross for me as well as you.”

    Citation needed. Preferably from the modern historical literature.

    Then you can come back with the relevant medical literature on how worshiping this particular deity provides better medical care than science based medicine. Because there are graves, some of them are of children, where that has utterly failed.

    Stop dancing on those graves with your supplications.

  8. #8 Woo Fighter
    January 6, 2014

    Mykaayah,

    If your god is so merciful and benevolent why did he give you cancer in the first place?

    Isn’t it cruel for your god to firstly give you cancer (which he of course had the power to have prevenged) and then make you to pray and beg to be healed? Why not just “cut out the middleman” and not give you the cancer in the first place?

    Is it all a big test?

    I’ve asked several other religious people who believe god heals this same question right here on this blog. I have never had the courtesy of a reply or attempt at an explanation, so I hope you stick around long enough to answer my questions, which I pose with respectfulness and sincere curiousity.

    And why do you just automatically assume everyone reading this blog either:

    a)believes in your god (i.e. Jesus Christ)? There are other religions, you know…
    -or-
    b) believes in any god at all?

  9. #9 Woo Fighter
    January 6, 2014

    Corrections to my stupid errors above:

    Prevented. Make you pray. Respect.

    (I wish we had an edit function after the fact, like Chowhound…you have several minutes after posting to correct any typos or other errors you notice.)

    I also mistakenly assumed Mykaayah had cancer. It was, in fact, a brain aneurysm. That doesn’t change my questions to her one iota, however. Her god gave her the aneurysm and then made her pray and beg to be healed.

  10. #10 Narad
    January 6, 2014

    One lady was in a wheelchair for 20 years and he prayed for her and she got up and walked. He is not one of those that is on national television, this is not important to him.

    Why will you not reveal his name? The special charism of miraclulous healing is imparted to servants of Christ that that His doctrine may become credible and that Christians may be confirmed in their faith.

    I know in whom I serve and I know where my healing came from and it was not a doctor

    “Make friends with the doctor, for he is essential to you; G-d has also established him in his profession. From G-d the doctor has wisdom, and from the king he receives sustenance. Knowledge makes the doctor distinguished, and gives access to those in authority…. [G-d] endows people with knowledge, to glory in his mighty works, through which the doctor eases pain, and the druggist prepares his medicines. Thus G-d’s work continues without cease in its efficacy on the surface of the earth.

    “My son, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to G-d, for it is he who heals…. Then give the doctor his place lest he leave; you need him too, for there are times when recovery is in his hands. He too prays to G-d that his diagnosis may be correct and his treatment bring about a cure.

    “Whoever is a sinner before his Maker will be defiant toward the doctor.” (Sirach 38:1–15)

  11. #11 Chris,
    January 6, 2014

    Shorty version of the quote posted by Narad:

    “Use the brains your deity gave you and get real medical help!”

  12. #12 Politicalguineapig
    January 6, 2014

    Woo Fighter: Is it all a big test?

    I’m beginning to think so. In recent years, I’ve come to the conclusion that God is malevolent. Everything that’s even remotely fun (reading, sex, music, drinking) is a sin, and believers tend to live in an intolerant, no-fun zone. Plus, God pretty much hates everyone who isn’t a man or a fetus anyway, so what’s the point?

  13. #13 Chuff
    January 7, 2014

    Mykaayah, I’m not sure you have quite understood the implications of your comments. So….does it give you pleasure to crow about how much God values you? About how much more deserving of a miracle you are than all of the children out there who suffer their whole lives as a consequence of sexual abuse? Because that’s what you are saying by claiming God picked you to save out of all those suffering.

  14. #14 Mykaayah
    January 7, 2014

    If you must know, I was in a two car accident. in 1979 I had a brain concussion and was in a coma. The other driver was at fault, but the doctor’s told the insurance company that I would have no further problems. I was in the hospital for about three weeks. I signed the release allowing the insurance company to pay me a small amount of money letting them off the hook. Note, the Doctors told them that there would be no more problems. I was 29 and stupid. They gave me $20,000 dollars which I used to move to New York. Eight years later, I came home from work, went to bed and the next morning, I could not get out of my bed, and could not walk. I was eating right, not a heavy drinker and definitely not on drugs. I was running five miles every morning and took aerobic classes most afternoons. There was no other lick to my head. I was rushed to the hospital and after 8 hours of tests and examinations, I was referred to a neurologist, who told me that I had an aneurysm on my brain. The scar from the accident was so minute but had started to swell over the years. I was told that I needed surgery and that if I did not have it, I would end up blind and in a wheel chair until death. Well, I did not do it. I went back home and began to pray. This was on a Saturday and the following Thursday, I was invited to a revival with a friend; getting healed of the condition was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to go to church. I was doing a fifty day fast, eating one meal a day after six p.m., which was to stop in Easter Sunday. I got my healing, you can say it was predestined or whatever, but it happened. I don’t know why God chose Mary to bring forth Jesus into the world, but he did. There are a lot of things we can answer, and the bible says for us to lean not to out own understanding but to put all our trust in Jesus and that is what I am doing. Jesus did not give me the cancer, my fast lifestyle and the way I was living at time caused me to go through that trial. Thank God he did not allow me to die in the car accident or of the brain cancer. And, Yes, I do go to the children’s cancer center and pray and play with the children. I am not above reaching out to anybody. Suffer the little children to come unto me and I will give them rest. This is what Jesus said in the Word of God. Maybe the athiest or agnostics do not believe this, but I know there is a reason for all things and the God I serve will take care of everything. I am not crowing about it, you are. I cannot say that I was more deserving of a miracle because I was not. I was young, single, very pretty and living as I wanted to. I know the innocence of those children was was no match for my lifestyle. I cannot explain it and I will not try.

  15. #15 Johanna
    January 7, 2014

    Umm, an aneurysm isn’t cancer.

  16. #16 ebrillblaiddes
    January 7, 2014

    @Mykaayah: (#415)

    I was eating right, not a heavy drinker and definitely not on drugs. I was running five miles every morning and took aerobic classes most afternoons.

    I wanted to go to church. I was doing a fifty day fast, eating one meal a day after six p.m., which was to stop in Easter Sunday. I got my healing, you can say it was predestined or whatever, but it happened.

    Jesus did not give me the cancer, my fast lifestyle and the way I was living at time caused me to go through that trial.

    When you say “fast lifestyle”, do you mean the church-related fast that you believe was part of the faith that you imply was related to your recovery? Or are you using the meaning of that phrase which would seem to contradict your previous statement about all the clean you were doing?

    How are you sure that your recovery was a miraculous healing, rather than a randomly flared-up thing running its course and calming back down naturally? I’ll give you credit for honestly representing your recollection of the doctors’ prognosis if you didn’t get surgery, but the fact is doctors rarely represent a prognosis as 100% likely — is it possible that, for example, they said you had a 95% chance of a negative outcome, in which case you could be the 5% that got something different? Most people don’t think to bring a voice recorder to that conversation, but maybe you had a friend there, for support, who you could chech this with.

    Also, please set our minds at ease and tell us that you’re not telling the children or their parents about your “miraculous healing” as a result of refusing treatment. If you’re offering general encouragement and not in any way discouraging them from getting science-based treatment, I think you’re a nice person who has maybe jumped to conclusions but most of us jump to conclusions about something now and then. If you’re telling kids or their parents things that could lead to the kids stopping treatment to wait for a miracle, I can talk about Jesus too…”better that there be a millstone around [your] neck” would seem applicable, in that case.

  17. #17 AdamG
    January 7, 2014

    I cannot explain it and I will not try.

    But you did explain it. You said

    Jesus did not give me the cancer, my fast lifestyle and the way I was living at time caused me to go through that trial. Thank God he did not allow me to die in the car accident or of the brain cancer

    What evidence do you have that God intervened in your car accident or “cancer?”

    Do you believe that anything can happen just by chance? Does Jesus/God/whatever intervene in every coin flip, deciding if it’s heads or tails?

  18. #18 ebrillblaiddes
    January 7, 2014

    @AdamG: My female parental unit thinks that God arranges for her to get good parking spots at the grocery store. At least, she had that belief last time I heard one way or the other about it; I haven’t asked lately because I don’t want to set myself up to cry inside.

  19. #19 ebrillblaiddes
    January 7, 2014

    Whoops premature post. Anyway what I was getting at was, plenty of people do think that God does that level of micromanagey stuff, routinely.

  20. #20 lilady
    January 7, 2014

    Have I missed something from Mykaayah’s testimonial about her miraculous brain cancer cure?

    Did Mykaayah provide proof that she ever had brain cancer…or that her brain cancer was cured by G-d?

  21. #21 TBruce
    January 7, 2014

    I worked beside the World Trade Center and would enter into my job through the concourse in the mornings. I would have been on my way to work and through that concourse at 9:00 a.m., on 911. I really believe that if I had not obeyed and left my job and New York, I would have been in that building on that day.

    3000 people died on that morning. I’m sure that many of them were devout Christians. What about them?

  22. #22 Mykaayah
    January 7, 2014

    My testimony is good enough. I decided to share this with you all only because of what this family is going through to show that miracles do happen. And no, I do not tell parents not to allow their children treatments, but I will tell them that I will be praying with them. And yes, I am definitely sure that Jesus did heal me and allowed me to witness to all of you about his goodness. Some would say she’s crazy for leaving her good job, her condo and all her material goods, but the only answer I have for them, is that the diagnosis came forth and without surgery I am here, call it what you will, those things are not important to me anymore. When I said fast lifestyle, I meant the way I was when the car accident occurred. In 1984, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and have been living for him every since. I was raised up in the Mountains of West Va, and my Mom and Dad instilled in me some pretty good morales; and even though I strayed away from the teachings, thank God I came back and now devoted totally to his work. Everyone that knows me, knows about my miracle, I have made no secret about it. To answer the question, how do you know God intervene in the car accident or the cancer, is that nothing just happens. He is in charge of everything. Oh, I am not worried about the millstone, especially not in that area. I love my children, irregardless of race, color or gender. They are very precious to me. Right now, I am assisting with 17 children, none biological,who are from famiies of abusive relationships. I am grandma to all of them and I treat them like they are my own children. I tried to answer all of your questions, guess i’ll go to sleep. Goodnite.

  23. #23 Calli Arcale
    January 7, 2014

    Mykaayah:

    People that do not believe in God is so stupid.

    I’m a believer. So if folks will excuse me for a moment, I’d like to talk to Mykaayah as a believer. Full disclosure: I am an ELCA Lutheran. This is a relatively liberal Protestant denomination, but one which is still conservative enough that when we get really rowdy in services, we nod our heads a bit in time to the music. 😀

    Paul had an interesting thing to say on that subject: I can’t find the verse right now (it’s late…) but he wrote that if Christ was not raised, than all who follow him are fools. Of course, he believed Christ *was* raised; he was the last person to see the risen Christ during the forty days after the crucifixion. But he had a good point. If we Christians are wrong about the whole resurrection then, then our belief is pretty stupid. (I’m not a big fan of Pascal’s Wager, you might guess — that’s the bit about “well, it can’t hurt to believe in God if you’re wrong, and if you’re right, it saves you from Hell”. It’s ridiculously simplistic and ignores a lot of possibilities.)

    I believe in God. I also believe we are not supposed to test God, and that God brings rain to both the wicked and the righteous — and also that we don’t get to know who is righteous and who is not. We must assume that all are saved, because it is not our place to judge: judging is the root of all sin. (That’s what the garden of Eden story is telling us, anyway. That little allegory says that we were all happy and fine until we started thinking we knew enough to declare things good or evil. Of course, the Bard was much more succinct on that point: “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”)

    I do not believe that God performs miraculous healings of the faithful. To believe that is to believe that He chooses not to heal most of the time, and that is not the God that Jesus taught about. Jesus did not preach about a God who is capricious or cruel. He preached about His Father, who loves us all, even the worst among us, who asks nothing from us but that we accept His invitation. Oh sure, many times in the Bible it talks about how to live, but that’s if you want to try and go it *without* God’s grace. How to be righteous on your own merits. Good luck with that; the Bible also teaches the futility of this approach and the necessity of grace. So obviously God doesn’t favor some people over others, regardless of what they’ve done, which makes it very difficult for me to believe he saves some people from misery but not most people. Plus, it really discredits the assistance you got from earthly sources. Emergency personnel who pulled you from the wreck and transported you to the hospital, surgeons who worked on you, nurses who cared for you, even your own body’s natural healing abilities. (I’ve never understood the problem with crediting your own body for some of the recovery. It really does have amazing healing properties. Nothing miraculous, sure, but if the body is a temple, why not give it a little credit every now and again? Sometimes people *do* recover from these things without outside intervention, and this isn’t a miracle — this is how awesome the human body is.)

    BTW, about the Word of God . . . the Bible is not the Word of God. The Bible is a book *about* the Word of God. This is a very common mistake that leads to great misfortune. Read the first chapter of John. The Word of God is not the Bible. The Word of God is not even the oldest part of the Bible (the Pentateuch). The Word of God is older than that. The Word of God is Jesus Christ himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Be very careful not to fall into the idolatrous trap of fundamentalism, the trap of worshipping the Bible (a work of men) rather than following Christ.

  24. #24 lilady
    January 7, 2014

    Still no proof that you were ever diagnosed with brain cancer…and still no proof that the “cancer” was cured by G-d.

  25. #25 Narad
    January 8, 2014

    I was doing a fifty day fast, eating one meal a day after six p.m., which was to stop in Easter Sunday.

    How did you arrive at this number? Trying to outdo the Savior? Let us venture back:

    I believe he left me here for a reason and I desire to go about healing all.

    This is quite literally sinful. The Holy Spirit is not in the business of satisfying your desires. One may not train or aspire to the grace of the charism of miraculous healing.

    You have already been informed of G-d’s purpose in granting this extraordinary grace, yet the name of he whom you follow remains carefully enshadowed.

    “There will be false Christs and false prophets who will rise up and shew signs and wonders, so that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived. But you must be on your guard; hereby, I have given you warning of it all.”

    Must we recall Simon Magus, the Father of Heresies? State the name of this mediate claimant to miracles of substance, that it be known whether he embodies the true purpose, manifestation of the glory of G-d, or whether he be a sorceror or, worse, a blind man leading seekers into a ditch.

  26. #26 Mykaayah
    January 8, 2014

    In all respect, I do not worship my bible. I am ever cognizant of the Word and I know who the Word is If you go back in the ancient of days, God allowed entire villages to be killed, women and children. Jesus went about healing and performing miracles and he promised us that we would do greater things. No disrespect to anybody or their faith, but my God has not changed, he is the same today as yesterday. We re the ones who changed, we lost faith in the Living God, who is Jesus. I stand firm that I was healed in the Name of Jesus. I have the evidence of it and I will not be swayed from my belief. I cannot say why he heals some and not others, but one thing I know is I am healed and it has been 26 years. Lilady where do you live, would you like to come to my church and meet me?

  27. #27 AdamG
    January 8, 2014

    Be very careful not to fall into the idolatrous trap of fundamentalism, the trap of worshipping the Bible (a work of men) rather than following Christ.

    Something tells me that ship has sailed.

  28. #28 Vicki
    January 8, 2014

    You worship a pretty weak or capricious deity, who nudged you to leave New York, but couldn’t persuade the terrorists not to get on the planes, or warn everyone who worked in the World Trade Center to stay home that day. Three hundred and forty-three New York City firefighters died there, because either there is no god (my conclusion, and not from this alone) or because he didn’t see any reason to save them. And you want to invoke his intervention for why you weren’t even in the state that day, when you moved away long before?

    A friend of mine is alive today because there happened to be an election that day, and she’s one of the people who turn out to vote even for off-year primary elections. And she decided to vote on her way to work, rather than on her way home. It doesn’t make her a better person than the waiters at Windows on the World, who had to be at work earlier than my friend.

    An entity that picks and chooses who to save so capriciously is conceivable, certainly; what I cannot understand is why you consider such behavior to be deserving of praise.

  29. #29 Narad
    January 8, 2014

    I tried to answer all of your questions, guess i’ll go to sleep. Goodnite.

    Y’all’s choice: Joseph Spence or The Incredible String Band.

  30. #30 Mykaayah
    January 8, 2014

    Narad: we are the vessels of the Holy Spirit. It can do nothing without a vessel or a body to dwell in. Yes, I will be a vessel of the Holy Spirit and it is my greatest desire to be used by Jesus Christ. What an honor that would be to be further used by him, it brings a great fulfillment to my life. The fifty days were counted as the fulfillment days before the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit does satisfy your desires. In the Word, God says that if you obey my Word, I will give you the desires of your heart. You all have seemed to have forgotten the reason for this blog, it is to either approve or disapprove the position of this family, not to persecute me. How could anyone not believe that there is a greater power beyond what he can see or fathom. This did not just happen and it cannot be explained away. I believe in Jesus, his birth, death and resurrection. I believe that he is coming back again and every eye shall see him and every knee shall bow and every voice shall confess that he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and he is my Yahshua HaMashiach, Ruach Hakodesh. I am very familiar with the Pentateuch and the Torah.

  31. #31 Lawrence
    January 8, 2014

    It would be good if you could pray for the ability to type in complete sentences and paragraphs…how about that? Can your Lord give you the power to write in plain English?

  32. #32 Narad
    January 8, 2014

    Of course, the Bard was much more succinct on that point: “There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

    So were Volkswagens full of Tantrists who, unsurprisingly, probably weren’t hip to this. The “Thelemites” I won’t even bother with.

  33. #33 lilady
    January 8, 2014

    No Mykaayah, I definitely do not want to meet you or accompany you to your church.

    Where’s the proof that you were ever diagnosed with brain cancer?

    Where’s the proof that G-d cured your brain cancer?

    Why should we believe any claims made by a random poster who is besotted by her religious beliefs, and who is clueless about Sarah’s cancer treatment?

    (hint) If I were you, I’d be careful about bragging that Jesus saved you from certain death in the towers on 9-11. That topic has already be discussed on this blog and there are posters here who lost family, friends and colleagues on September 11, 2001.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/05/02/osama-bin-ladendead-finally/

  34. #34 herr doktor bimler
    January 8, 2014

    plenty of people do think that God does that level of micromanagey stuff, routinely.

    I read that as “micro-mangery stuff” and was imagining nativity scenes. I prefer my version.

  35. #35 Narad
    January 8, 2014

    Narad: we are the vessels of the Holy Spirit. It can do nothing without a vessel or a body to dwell in.

    You have been led grievously astray. Is not the Incarnation of the Word the doing of the person of the Holy Ghost?

    Yes, I will be a vessel of the Holy Spirit and it is my greatest desire to be used by Jesus Christ. What an honor that would be to be further used by him, it brings a great fulfillment to my life.

    You speak of nothing but possession and magical powers and are close to blaspheming the Holy Ghost, as though His Person were some sort of angel out of the television program “Supernatural.” This is the vice of presumption. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, which lies within, yet you continue to hide the name of the one whom you follow.

  36. #36 Rich Scopie
    January 8, 2014

    I was doing a fifty day fast, eating one meal a day after six p.m.

    That’s not a fast, that’s a diet. Or maybe fifty small fasts. That’s like giving up smoking twenty times a day.

  37. #37 herr doktor bimler
    January 8, 2014

    eating one meal a day after six p.m.

    I would have thought that was normal, except for a hobbit.

  38. #38 Chris
    January 8, 2014

    Mykaayah: “My testimony is good enough.”

    Actually, no it is not. Especially if you encourage anyone to substitute worship over medical treatment just because you were lucky a few times.

  39. #39 Krebiozen
    January 8, 2014

    Mykaayah,

    My testimony is good enough.

    As Chris wrote, it really, really isn’t. The kind of science-based medicine that this blog supports is largely about the problems with anecdotal evidence of the sort you have given us here. I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I also believe the studies that tell us prayer is not an effective way of dealing with serious illness.

  40. #40 Krebiozen
    January 8, 2014

    HDB,

    “eating one meal a day after six p.m.”
    I would have thought that was normal, except for a hobbit.

    It’s a bit like Ramadan, when adherents consume marginally fewer calories (average of 1488 vs.1823 Kcal/d), but these tend to be in the form of fats, especially saturated fats, because of all the feasting they do when sunset arrives after a day’s fasting.

    I was in Morocco for Ramadan once, in a little seaside town that sounded a WW2 air-raid siren when the Muezzin declared it was sunset, and the deserted town square and surrounding streets would instantly fill with people selling all sorts of delicious foodstuffs, and even more people eating them. Which reminds me, I have a recipe for those little pastry gazelle horns stuffed with nuts and honey somewhere…

  41. #41 dingo199
    January 8, 2014

    I’m always bemused by the frequent media claims of proof of “God’s miraculous grace” when a baby survives a plane crash unscathed, but 136 other people burned to death including the baby’s family. Or the idea that God will “save” someone from harm because He was prayed to, yet He gazes down, smiling benignly as millions of innocent, starving, diseased children die each year on this wonderful planet He created.

    Dawkins nailed it:
    “….arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

  42. #42 JC
    January 8, 2014

    I wonder what people did about cancer before Chemotherapy…

    Your body has killer cells for a reason. You just need the tools to make them work correctly. and they need to be able to identify the cancer cells. If your body is full of the correct nutrients, your probably never going to get cancer in the first place. sure some blood born cancers aren’t exactly the same because in that case you actually have a immune difficiency problem and not a cancer problem. But to sit here and dispute that natural medicine cant cure cancer is completely assinine. In fact, i happen to believe medicine IS the problem …stop screwing with nature.

  43. #43 Chuff
    January 8, 2014

    Reminds me of the old joke about the drowning fisherman.

    After his boat sinks in a storm the devout fisherman prays for deliverance. At this point a rescue helicopter finds him but he refuses to take the rope saying ‘god will save me’. Half an hour later a lifeboat finds him but he refuses to climb the ladder to safety saying ‘god will save me’. Half an hour later he is dead and talking to god…..’why didn’t you save me Lord?’ he asked. God looks surprised and says ‘I sent you a helicopter and a boat……what more do you want?’.

    You could substitute cancer for drowning and chemo, surgery etc for the helicopter and boat.

  44. #44 janerella
    Oz
    January 8, 2014

    I like Sir David Attenborough’s take on it also :

    “I often get letters, quite frequently, from people who say how they like the programmes a lot, but I never give credit to the almighty power that created nature. To which I reply and say, “Well, it’s funny that the people, when they say that this is evidence of the Almighty, always quote beautiful things. They always quote orchids and hummingbirds and butterflies and roses.” But I always have to think too of a little boy sitting on the banks of a river in west Africa who has a worm boring through his eyeball, turning him blind before he’s five years old. And I reply and say, “Well, presumably the God you speak about created the worm as well,” and now, I find that baffling to credit a merciful God with that action. “

  45. #45 TBruce
    January 8, 2014

    I wonder what people did about cancer before Chemotherapy…

    I know! I know! They died!

    Your body has killer cells for a reason. You just need the tools to make them work correctly. and they need to be able to identify the cancer cells. If your body is full of the correct nutrients, your probably never going to get cancer in the first place.

    And if you do, no doubt it’s because you had lunch at McDonald’s 5 years ago. Shouldn’t have done that, eh?

    sure some blood born cancers aren’t exactly the same because in that case you actually have a immune difficiency problem and not a cancer problem.

    Take it from me (a hematopathologist), it is a cancer problem. In short, a mutation that causes uncontrolled growth.

    But to sit here and dispute that natural medicine cant cure cancer is completely assinine.

    I WANT to believe, but I like evidence. You and your buddies keep letting me down.

    In fact, i happen to believe medicine IS the problem …stop screwing with nature.

    Sure – when it stops screwing with me.

  46. #46 Calli Arcale
    January 8, 2014

    In the Word, God says that if you obey my Word, I will give you the desires of your heart.

    See, you say that right after agreeing that the Word is not the Bible, the Word is Jesus. You *do* regard the Bible as the Word of God. It isn’t. It is *about* him. And it was written by humans. It’s very important to remember that. It’s a witnessing. It’s very, very important, but it is not a prescription for how to live your life or how to get God to do great things for you.

    Do you seriously follow Christ only so that the desires of your heart may be satisfied? If so, don’t be too ashamed; this is how most people approach religion. Follow the rules so you can get good stuff. But go ahead and read the New Testament. See what great and marvellous things happened to Christ’s followers. All the disciples were killed; Judas by his own hand, the others by the hands of others, in various horrible ways — beheading, dragging behind a horse, crucifixion, upside-down crucifixion, etc. I mean, really, really, really horrible things happened to these people who were absolutely passionate in their faith. Don’t follow Christ so that good things happen to you. That’s selfish, and clearly isn’t how it works. Follow Christ so that through you good things can be done. Follow Christ so that the desires of your heart change from getting what you want to helping others. It isn’t about you, it’s about your neighbors, and your neighbors are everybody.

    If you believe healing is a reward for righteousness, then logically those who are not healed must be unrighteous. This was a very popular view among the Jews two thousand years ago, and remains very popular among almost everybody on Earth today, but it’s wrong and Christ preached against it.

    janerella:
    That’s a very nice bit from Attenborough. It’s true: if God created us, then He created parasites too. And they have their own sort of horrible beauty, if we can be for a moment dispassionate enough to see it. (Hard to be dispassionate about something so visceral, though; this is where being human gets in the way, I suppose.) We are no greater than the worm that robs a boy of his sight.

  47. #47 Politicalguineapig
    January 8, 2014

    Calli Arcale: We must assume that all are saved, because it is not our place to judge: judging is the root of all sin. Jesus did not preach about a God who is capricious or cruel. He preached about His Father, who loves us all, even the worst among us, who asks nothing from us but that we accept His invitation.
    So obviously God doesn’t favor some people over others, regardless of what they’ve done, which makes it very difficult for me to believe he saves some people from misery but not most people.

    First of all, pardon for snipping the post, but I couldn’t repost the whole darn thing. Secondly, what the heck? That’s the exact opposite of any religion I’ve ever heard of, especially Christianity.
    The whole point of religion is to create an in-group and an outside group, so that the in-group can be all finger-waggy and judgey of the rest. (See ‘God is a no-fun zone,’ above.) If there’s no judgement, there’s no religion.

  48. #48 Helianthus
    January 8, 2014

    @ JC #443

    I wonder what people did about cancer before Chemotherapy…

    Heavy doses of opium, or a thick cushion on the head of the patient, depending on the patience and wealth of the relatives.
    Or, if there is a daring barber-surgeon nearby, a quick slash with a lancet, without the benefit of painkillers (except maybe strong alcohols or opiates). Anne d’Autriche (the mom of Louis XIV) had one try this on her breast cancer.

    Your body has killer cells for a reason. You just need the tools to make them work correctly. and they need to be able to identify the cancer cells.

    Got it in one, genius. How to get our immune cells to attack cancer cells is a major line of research.
    The trick is, of course, to get our immune system to attack some of our own cells.

    If your body is full of the correct nutrients, your probably never going to get cancer in the first place.

    Citation sorely needed.

    sure some blood born cancers aren’t exactly the same because in that case you actually have a immune difficiency problem and not a cancer problem.

    If you talk about lymphoma and the like, sorry, these are cancer cells. Specialized ones, but cancerous.
    If you talk about autoimmune diseases: one’s immune system is over-reacting, seeing foes where there is just one’s self, and you call it “immune deficiency”?

    But to sit here and dispute that natural medicine cant cure cancer is completely assinine. In fact, i happen to believe medicine IS the problem

    Yes, you “happen to believe”. Citations?

    stop screwing with nature.

    Say the person behind a computer, wearing clothes (I guess), sleeping under some artificial shelter (I hope), eating cooked food (maybe) and generally benefiting from the use of complex tools and materials – most of them “unnatural”.

  49. #49 JGC
    January 8, 2014

    My testimony is good enough.

    I’m sorry, but really it’s not: No degree of faith–however sincere-is sufficient to demonstrate what one belives to be treu actually is true–otherwise every religious article of faith on the planet, no matter how mutually contradictory, must be accepted as proven true by the personal testimony of their adherents.

    What’s absolutely needed in addition to testimony is credible evidence what you testify represents truth actually is true.

    So–got any?

    A question for you: if faith in god is enough to ‘cure’ a cancer victim, why isn’t it also enough to cure amputation? Surely at least some amputees believe as deeply in and have prayed as fervently to your preferred candidate for godhood that they’d have been given relief from their disability. Instead it seems like god can only ‘miraculously’ cure diseases and injuries which are either self-limiting, episodic, or known to exhibit a low but non-zero incidence of spontaneous remission.

    Why do you think that is?

    How could anyone not believe that there is a greater power beyond what he can see or fathom. This did not just happen and it cannot be explained away.

    The problem is that writing it all off to “A greater power must exist and is responsible” doesn’t explain anything at allit simply avoids the necessity of finding an explanation by writing what isn’t understood off as “It all happened by magic, at the direction of my invisibile friend. You know–the one with all the neat superpowers”.

    And if you’re going to go that route, any wholly specualtive spernatural entity will fit the bill. “God did it” offers identical explanatory power tas do “Pixies did it” or “Leprechauns did it” (i.e., none whatsoever).

  50. #50 Shay
    January 8, 2014

    PGP, there are several Christians on this board who have told you more or less politely that your concept of religion is narrow and mis-applied. The fact that you cling to your repellant bigotry is puzzling.

    People like Mykayaa (what do you bet she started out life as Micaela?) are in the minority, thankfully. Otherwise how many hospitals in the US (the ones that are owned and operated by FBO’s) would have a reason to be in business?

  51. #51 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 8, 2014

    But to sit here and dispute that natural medicine cant cure cancer is completely assinine.

    I’m trying to parse that.

    If I were to dispute that natural medicine can cure cancer, it would mean that I’d be saying it can’t. However, if I were to dispute that I cant (sic) cure cancer, then I’d be saying it could.

    So I have to agree with the statement as written – to date, arguing that natural medicine can cure cancer is asinine – because all the evidence says it can’t.

    If some day someone finds a natural remedy that is shown to cure cancer, I will revise my opinion.

  52. #52 Calli Arcale
    January 8, 2014

    PGP:

    Secondly, what the heck? That’s the exact opposite of any religion I’ve ever heard of, especially Christianity.

    That’s precisely why Christ was so revolutionary, and why the Pharisees perceived him as a threat. He was upsetting the whole social order by suggesting that people who have bad things happen to them aren’t actually unrighteous and should not be ignored, by dining with despised social groups, by treating women as equals, and so forth. It’s a very hard message, that everybody is truly equal before God and so you must treat them accordingly. And it should be no surprise that the majority of modern Christians still struggle with it.

    Christ’s message is *still* quite revolutionary. The enormous popularity of having an in-group that can be finger-waggy to the out-group (a lovely turn of phrase, BTW) means that it will probably remain revolutionary for a long time. Christians themselves tend to be pretty bad at it, finding all sorts of ways to creatively justify rejecting people we deem unworthy. I guess it’s a human nature thing, but I’d hope more of us could strive to be better than that — regardless of whether Christ actually was the Son of God. I believe he was, but I think living like that really would make the world a better place if we could all do it. Respect one another. A tall order, unfortunately.

  53. #53 dingo199
    January 8, 2014

    @JGC

    A question for you: if faith in god is enough to ‘cure’ a cancer victim, why isn’t it also enough to cure amputation? Surely at least some amputees believe as deeply in and have prayed as fervently to your preferred candidate for godhood that they’d have been given relief from their disability. Instead it seems like god can only ‘miraculously’ cure diseases and injuries which are either self-limiting, episodic, or known to exhibit a low but non-zero incidence of spontaneous remission.

    Indeed. I am reminded of the tale of the skeptic who was told about the miracles taking place at Lourdes, and how they had a store for all the crutches that had been abandoned there by the “healed” faithful, to which he replied: “So where are all the false legs, and glass eyes?”

  54. #54 Politicalguineapig
    January 8, 2014

    Calli Arcale: I see where I got confused, you were talking about Christ as opposed to Christians. I agree with that; I actually rather like Jesus. Christians on the other- well, I just don’t see the point in joining a church unless I plan to run for political office. (Thank you for the compliment on the phrase.)

    Shay: It’s not bigotry if I’m accurately describing things that continually crop up in American Christianity. If say, Fred Phelps got struck by lightning, I might soften my stance. (Or if Maryville Missouri or Stuebensville Ohio got hit by tornados..)
    For that matter, could someone explain to me what we’d have left if we took judgement out of religion? A twelve-step group without the steps, probably. Or a sleep-away camp without the ‘sleep’ and for adults, which would be it’s own special kind of hell.

  55. #55 Mrs Woo
    January 8, 2014

    It is only fair that I, too, admit to being Christian. Having dealt with more than one failed faith healing where I have been blamed for the outcome, though, I get a little defensive when they are brought up.

    One way to keep your faith in the contradiction of unanswered prayers and promises is Hebrews chapter 11, where it discusses the heroes of the faith. Most did not receive the promises of God within their lifetimes, but the promises of God were kept.

    The inexplicable happens. Science explains it as regression to the mean, etc. It is rare. A danger in expecting it to be commonplace, or counseling others to do so is that you might put them in harm’s way. It is like the joke with the man waiting on his roof in a flood, repeatedly turning away rescuers with, “God will save me.” When he arrived at the Pearly Gates he asked why God didn’t save him and God pointed out he had sent rescuers and even a helicopter.

    We deny tools God has placed for our benefit at our own peril: we weren’t given brains and our creative abilities to just pray and hope for whatever happens next.

  56. #56 Mrs Woo
    January 8, 2014

    Sorry Chuff – wouldn’t have repeated if I scanned through all. Christians who insist on waiting for the miraculous worry me, always. It is hard to admit being Christian in some circles. Also, personal experience has led me to believe that the biggest creator of atheists is other Christians.

    I am at a point where I try to emulate the good part of the teachings. I refuse to contemplate or choose in the doctrinal, religious, etc., stuff. Strictly non-denominational. Love that Christ, kinda cringe at a lot of Christians.

  57. #57 ebrillblaiddes
    January 8, 2014

    I can, just barely, see how a generally benevolent being with root admin access to the universe might not just Miraculously Heal everyone of everything. If this being was trying to get the universe to play out a certain way with the minimum amount of intervention, it’s conceivable that people would be “chosen” or not based on how they fit into that plan — and not necessarily anything to do with their abilities or character, but possibly something as trivial as that if they live they’ll toss an apple core somewhere later on and a tree will sprout from it and smash someone’s house, which will lead to … you get the idea. Too many variables to keep up with even if we had access to future data.

    If that’s the case, while miraculous healing would be possible, expecting it would be foolish and telling anyone to expect it would be criminal.

  58. #58 JGC
    January 8, 2014

    That miraculous healing would also be superflous, as they could instead have simply refrained from making the person intended to would throw the apple sick in the first place.

    For that matter, why not simply have created the universe already existing in the end state they’re now laboring to achieve by sprinkling miracles about non-randomly from day one?

  59. #59 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    January 8, 2014

    For that matter, why not simply have created the universe already existing in the end state they’re now laboring to achieve by sprinkling miracles about non-randomly from day one?

    Where’s the fun in that?

  60. #60 Denice Walter
    January 8, 2014

    I have tried to reconcile the gap between believers and unbelievers for myself:
    perhaps everyone wants to inject predictability and meaning into a universe that is cold, harsh and sometimes appears arbitrary- not a lovely place to live. Buzzing,blooming chaos, it can be.

    Believers try to paint a human( like) face on the blackness and unbelievers, as scientists, may attempt to find laws and rules that explain a bit of the abyss or tame its wildness. One doesn’t preclude the other. Artists try to transform the inhospitability into more recognisable,comforting features or conversely, may admire and elaborate the very thrown-ness that they experience into an art form of its own. Then we have philosophers.

    Humans are programmed on a certain level to see faces in everything: babies smile at figures that resemble a face only if certain features are arrayed in a particular way; an electrical outlet can be seen as having two eyes and a nose. Clouds can resemble animals or darting aethereal sylphs. So why not put a face or name on randomness or try to understand how it works? We tend to remember based on what we already know: it’s hard to recognise abstract shapes that you’ve already seen unless you can relate them to learned figures (e.g. pathologists see cells)

    Freud imagined religion as a means to explain how the universe works, to function as a moral code and as a substitute for the protective parent one loses as one ages. It’s also a way to self-identify, to say that- ‘Yes, I agree’- with the viewpoints or ideals inherent in that creed. One person might prefer the gifts of Jesus to those of Frey or Krshna.
    Religion also codifies modes of emotional expression that channel how people navigate life events.

    ….Oooops! I have to leave.

  61. #61 Calli Arcale
    January 8, 2014

    I think the fundamental problem isn’t in trying to reconcile the existence of evil with a benevolent god. It’s in assuming we’re the best judges of what’s good and what’s evil and how the universe should be ordered.

    Look at evolution. The amazing, spectacular diversity of life that we have today would not be possible without death, pain, suffering, and strife. None of these things are pleasant, but they do seem to be a feature, not a bug, of the Universe. For whatever reason, we live in a universe that is changing itself all the time, rather than a static one that does no growing or exploring or developing. I can’t pretend to know why God picked the evolving universe rather than a static one, but to me it seems like the evolving one is probably a whole lot more interesting.

    PGP:

    Calli Arcale: I see where I got confused, you were talking about Christ as opposed to Christians. I agree with that; I actually rather like Jesus. Christians on the other- well, I just don’t see the point in joining a church unless I plan to run for political office.

    Bingo. But actually, I’d love to vote for somebody who doesn’t belong to a church. It would make a nice change. 😉 Belong to a church and following Christ are not mutually exclusive, but they’re actually two very different things…. Following Christ requires no formal religion. I see church as being like a Christ appreciation society. Sort of a fanclub. 😉 It can be nice, and it can be very useful, but it’s not the point.

    You’d probably enjoy the pastor at my church. 😉 Alas, he’s retiring at the end of the month. 🙁

  62. #62 ebrillblaiddes
    January 8, 2014

    Maybe it’s like SimCity. Fixing a slum is more interesting than bulldozing the whole thing and starting over.

    Taking the assumption that the universe is a system like that, I don’t think we’d be any more capable of understanding the details than an otherwise healthy cell is of understanding why it had to take one for the team to get clean margins around a tumor. An upper limit on what can be claimed about miracles, then, is that it’s nice when, or if, the plan works out in your favor. Accepting the possibility wouldn’t imply taking it as the default assumption or even a trashcan explanation for things we haven’t figured out yet; the probability of any particular incident being a miracle would still be vanishingly small, compared to coincidence.

  63. #63 JGC
    January 8, 2014

    Where’s the fun in that?

    If we’re going to conclude that the creator’s goal is to be entertained, even if that requires wholly avoidable pain and suffering on the part of his creation, god’s inherent ‘goodness’ is that of an adult happily cheering on the dog he’s thrown into the pit at an illegal dog fight.

  64. #64 Dangerous Bacon
    January 8, 2014

    “My testimony is good enough.”

    I think Hulda Clark has this engraved on her tombstone.

  65. #65 ebrillblaiddes
    January 8, 2014

    Also, it just occurred to me that, if eating one meal a day in the evening counts as fasting, then, uhh…I accidentally fast a lot. So I must be, like, really super spiritual, if I do holy things by accident. So if God would hurry up and heal this sore throat and congestion with sinus-infection-like tendencies, which I’ve had for close to three weeks now (it gets better for a couple days, then worse again), that would be great.

  66. #66 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    Do you go 18 hours without eating and drinking each day for fifty days, and eat one meal after 6 p.m., that is fasting. 6,000 people in the church at that time was on that fast, not just me. You are so silly; be careful Jesus hears and sees everything and he knows the intentions behind every conversation.

  67. #67 Narad
    January 11, 2014

    Do you go 18 hours without eating and drinking each day for fifty days, and eat one meal after 6 p.m., that is fasting.

    Do you get up at midnight?

  68. #68 Chuff
    January 11, 2014

    Well, Mykaayah. Given that I personally think that a God and/or Jesus are completely irrelevant to any functioning of the universe. Given that I have said this many times and have yet to see any sign of supernatural disapproval. My personal life experiment says he doesn’t exist OR isn’t getting involved. Personally I don’t believe but I find it sad that you, who does believe in a loving, compassionate supreme being, seem to be scared of him. After all, given his superpowers, he knows our very being. Without having to eavesdrop.

  69. #69 Lawrence
    January 11, 2014

    @Mykaayah – I think you are actually thinking of either Santa Claus or the NSA….

  70. #70 LW
    January 11, 2014

    PGP, there are several Christians on this board who have told you more or less politely that your concept of religion is narrow and mis-applied. The fact that you cling to your repellant bigotry is puzzling.

    Nonbelievers have told her that too. It appears to me that she clings to her repellant bigotry because Christians and other believers form an out-group, so she as a member of the in-group can be all finger-waggy and judgey of the rest.

  71. #71 Chemmomo
    Maybe not the NSA...
    January 11, 2014

    Lawrence @470
    He knows when you are eating, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so don’t eat for goodness sake!

    You beat me to it.

  72. #72 Shay
    January 11, 2014

    @Lawrence:

    Rimshot..

  73. #73 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    Well time will tell whose right about God and Jesus. I will just bid my time. I would only be afraid if I were in your shoes calling my beliefs bigotry. I do not care what you do or how you believe. I am not changing my mind, I am not judging anybody or wagging my fingers at anyone. So, just have a good day and good bye Jesus said not to feed his words to _________. Oh well, if the shoe fits then wear it. I do not care about the Christians on board, they are the ones that crucified Jesus. I am not a Christian, I am a believer. I will not label myself as a Christian with all their pagan beliefs, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and so forth and so forth.

  74. #74 Lawrence
    January 11, 2014

    Ahhh…a Seventh Day Adventist, it looks like. And yes, the early Christian Church based the majority of its beliefs and holidays around convenient pagan traditions of the time….

    Makaayah – you are certainly no Christian….

  75. #75 lilady
    January 11, 2014

    @ pgp: Knock it off…I’m a Christian and in the minority here. You are the only one of the RI Regulars who has ever insulted me and other Christians.

    I guess I’ve been chosen by G-d, because G-d only gives special needs children to very special parents.

    Mykaayah’s church that she invited me to attend, has 6,000 members? Thanks again for the invitation, but no thanks…6,000 fasting/starving Christians would definitely not be a spiritual experience for me.

  76. #76 Scared Momma
    January 11, 2014

    Thanksgiving is a pagan holiday?

  77. #77 Scared Momma
    January 11, 2014

    If more Christians were like you lilady, the world would be a very different place.

  78. #78 Lawrence
    January 11, 2014

    Thanksgiving is more of a government holiday – given that Presidents’ would declare a public day of Thanksgiving for winning big battles, for example.

  79. #79 ebrillblaiddes
    January 11, 2014

    I thought Thanksgiving was our culture’s interpretation of the “hey, we probably won’t have to starve to death this year” day that all cultures that know about agriculture have. (Possibly some preagricultural ssocieties had a similar “hey, the berries are ripe” or “the deer are about as fat as they’re gonna get” day, but I couldn’t reach them for comment.)

  80. #80 Sarah A
    January 11, 2014

    @Lawrence #475

    Not necessarily – I was raised Pentacostal and while the church doesn’t have an official doctrine concerning “pagan” holidays (except Halloween, naturally) a lot of individual “Bible believing ” types don’t celebrate them, or try to strip them of their pagan trappings.

    I find it amusing, but sadly typical, that Mykaayah wants to take the moral high ground (“I don’t care what you do or how you believe” and “I’m not judging or wagging fingers”) but just can’t resist the urge to make thinly veiled references to our inevitable damnation (“Time will tell” and “I would only be afraid if I were in your shoes” etc.)

  81. #81 TBruce
    January 11, 2014

    I do not care about the Christians on board, they are the ones that crucified Jesus.

    Whoa, so the “Christians on board” travelled 2000 years back in time to crucify the Son of God? I guess they had to make damn sure that the basis for their religion really happened. Don’t know how they managed the resurrection thing, though. Drugs and a defibrillator, maybe?

  82. #82 TBruce
    January 11, 2014

    Well time will tell whose right about God and Jesus. I will just bid my time. I would only be afraid if I were in your shoes calling my beliefs bigotry.

    As I get older, I have come to realize that, as an atheist, I anticipate death as an eternal dreamless sleep. This is a comfort to me. I have also seen several atheist members of my family face death quite calmly when it loomed.
    On the other hand, a Christian family member was terrified as she was dying. I believe she sincerely was afraid of the possibility of the Last Judgement and Hell.

  83. #83 Narad
    January 11, 2014

    Ahhh…a Seventh Day Adventist, it looks like.

    How do you figure? The only unorthodox thing going with the Adventists regarding the crucifixion that I’m aware of is an insistance in certain quarters that it was in 31 C.E. on a Wednesday or something, not that Christians “are the ones that crucified Jesus.” Faith healing would likely also be a schismatic view.

    Mykaayah has basically endorsed prosperity theology: “The Holy Spirit does satisfy your desires. In the Word, God says that if you obey my Word, I will give you the desires of your heart.” And she’s stated that she’s in West Virginia, which is convenient for faith healers, since parents can’t be prosecuted for letting their kids die. (Snake handlers are on firm legal ground, as well.)

    My money’s on some form of charismatic Apostolic routine. In short, a Corinthian.

  84. #84 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    No not a 7th Day Adventist, but I am a Sabbath believer because it was a commandment not a request. And to scared Mama yes, Thanksgiving is Pagan. Why would we even want to celebrate a day signifying the genocide of the inhabitants of a land the Europeans stole. Thanks but no thanks. I can give thanks to Jesus everyday, I do not need to bake a turkey and all the dressings to say thank you. Yes, Yes, Christianity is full of pagan worship. There is no place in the Torah where it speaks of christmas, easter and all these so-called hoiidays that are practiced in the christian churches. Come on you want to forewarn me, let me inform you. Funny, I am not a snake handler and I no longer live in W.Va, but it is still a beautiful place, I love the mountains.

  85. #85 Narad
    January 11, 2014

    I will not label myself as a Christian with all their pagan beliefs, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and so forth and so forth.

    Of course, as this statement illustrates, one problem with bothering to figure out what she thinks is going on in religious terms is that she’s prone to complete incoherence. Easter is a “pagan belief” now? Hey, who am I?

    I wanted to go to church. I was doing a fifty day fast, eating one meal a day after six p.m., which was to stop in Easter Sunday.

    Mykaayah further clearly doesn’t understand that fasting points straight back to Demeter. So, the question becomes why she was “fasting.”

  86. #86 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    They were celebrating Easter. That was 27 years ago. I have come into knowledge and know the truth now. At that time I did not understand and was not being told the truth. Yes, I went on the 50 day fast because we were told to. I am glad I did it because I went on it with a sincere heart and I left that church.

  87. #87 Narad
    January 11, 2014

    Funny, I am not a snake handler and I no longer live in W.Va

    So were you just visiting, or were you lying?

    Thanksgiving is Pagan. Why would we even want to celebrate a day signifying the genocide of the inhabitants of a land the Europeans stole.

    Aside from the fact that these two utterances have no apparent connection whatever, the only thing you’ve done here is demonstrate that you don’t have the slightest grasp of Paganism, either genuine or in its sad reincarnation.

    There is no place in the Torah [sic] where it speaks of christmas, easter and all these so-called hoiidays that are practiced in the christian churches.

    And we have a winner! You know what else the Torah doesn’t mention, Peaches? What you think “the Holy Spirit” means. BTW, you meant “Tanakh.”

    Want to play kashrut?

  88. #88 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    In ancient Greek religion and myth, Demeter (/diˈmiːtər/; Attic Δημήτηρ Dēmētēr. Doric Δαμάτηρ Dāmātēr) is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito (σίτος: wheat) as the giver of food or corn/grain[1] and Thesmophoros (θεσμός, thesmos: divine order, unwritten law) as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.[2] NOPE, do not believe in Greek Mythology. They are the ones who messed up the bible with their translations. Jesus said in a parable that as long as the bridegroom was with you there would be no need to fast but the time would come when we would have to fast and pray and those times are now. Not only for spiritual reasons but for health reasons also.

  89. #89 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    This will be my last post. You all seem to be pretty nice people who just like to poke fun. I wish you all the best life has to offer. To the Amish girl and her family, I hope she lives a long healthy llfe whichever decision her family makes. As for me, I am 63 years old, in my second year of college. I am trying to get my Bachelors Degree in ECE and Associates of Art Degree. So, it is back to a lot of homework and studies. I had business vocational training which helped me to get employment in New York, but I never had the opportunity to go to college and now that the opportunity is here, I want to take advantage of it. Upon graduation, I want to go back to West Va and teach in the poor areas where they cannot get teachers to come. So whomever you pray to, send up a prayer for me.

  90. #90 Mykaayah
    January 11, 2014

    I am familiar with the dietary jewish laws

  91. #91 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    You’re cutting and pasting from W—pedia as a response? What did Demeter do when Persephone was lost?

    Jesus said in a parable that as long as the bridegroom was with you there would be no need to fast but the time would come when we would have to fast and pray and those times are now.

    In that case, it’s probably the wrong time to be yammering about “the Torah.”

    You’ll have to excuse me if Jews for Jesus–style aspirations to chasidut shel shtut get on my nerves.

  92. #92 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    I am familiar with the dietary jewish laws

    Not familiar enough for posturing to succeed, I’d wager.

    I had business vocational training which helped me to get employment in New York

    Paying $123,100 per year in inflation-adjusted dollars? Sure thing.

  93. #93 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    In other West Wirginia faith-healing news, at least there’s specialty care.

  94. #94 Gray Falcon
    January 12, 2014

    I should note that Paul wrote his letter to the church in Galatia upon learning that they were attempting to become Jewish so they could be better Christians. Unique among his letters, he declares his astonishment at them at how quickly they abandoned their faith.

  95. #95 Scared Momma
    January 12, 2014

    @Narad, how, how, how does a story like that exist in this day and age?

    I only read the first paragraph ‘and they turned to gold’. Oh.my.gawd.

  96. #96 lilady
    January 12, 2014

    Narad nailed it. Some sort of Jews for Jesus group.

    From Narad’s link with have Boruch Ellison….a genuine AIDS denialist:

    http://www.noahide.com/aboutus.htm

    Boruch (Bryan) Ellison grew up in an activist, anti-Communist household and has himself been an activist, writer, and scholar for various right-wing and/or Jewish causes since his days in high school. His unwavering commitment to the struggle against Communism has endlessly generated controversy even in conservative and Jewish circles, inspiring passionate support from some people while infuriating others.

    He graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a B.S. in biology. While working on his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley (and while continuing his writing and involvement in anti-Communist issues), he became involved in research by leading scientists that showed that the AIDS epidemic was not caused by the HIV virus — a conclusion furiously opposed by the politicized AIDS establishment. He wrote a book, Why We Will Never Win the War on AIDS, documenting the scientific controversy and exposing the AIDS agenda of the Marxist Public Health movement.

  97. #97 Militant Agnostic
    January 12, 2014

    @Narad & Lililady

    I wasn’t paying attention. Did Obama cancel the 2012 elections?

  98. #98 Mykaayah
    January 12, 2014

    I said that was my last post, but I could not resist. I am not posturing to be Jewish, those Kzars in Israel are. Abraham was Hebrew, Isaac and Jacob, were his seed; all Hebrew Israelite. So if God renamed Jacob Israel, how did they all of a sudden turn white, when Jacob was black. How did they come out black but go back in European white jews, no way? Really there is no such race as Jews it came from Judah. I am a Yehudite if you must know and I am proud of my heritage. Explain that to me smarty.

  99. #99 Mykaayah
    January 12, 2014

    Israel is not a country but the name of Jacob. Wen he was talking about the House of Israel, he was not speaking of the country named Israel or those who are posturing there, he was talking about the seed of Jacob; that is the House of Israel. Okay.

  100. #100 Renate
    January 12, 2014

    Why should one be proud on being something one hasn’t had any influence on?

  101. #101 Chris,
    January 12, 2014

    “So if God renamed Jacob Israel, how did they all of a sudden turn white, when Jacob was black.”

    Which why we know it is all a fiction. This is why we use all of the science and knowledge accumulated over the past few thousand years to solve problems, like cancer… instead of relying of mythologies told around cooking fires.

    In fact, it is much easier to keep the science sorted out than various versions of those mythologies. Plus it is much much more interesting as new data comes literally to light. Like the oldest human genome:

    The end result was a near-complete mitochondrial genome – the DNA found inside the organelles that power cells. By comparing it with that of modern humans, chimpanzees and bonobos, plus Neanderthals and Denisovans, Meyer estimated its age at 400,000 years, twice as old as our own species and far older than any hominin genome previously sequenced (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature12788). The Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes sequenced in recent years are each around 40,000 years old.

  102. #102 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    I should note that Paul wrote his letter to the church in Galatia upon learning that they were attempting to become Jewish so they could be better Christians.

    Oh, the “Torah Keepers” have answers for this one. Given that Mykaayah has already copped to thinking the Greeks “messed up the bible with their translations,” it’s pretty clear what her choice is likely to be: Just rewrite it so it says the opposite.

    (If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I will point out Stern’s “translation” of Luke 10:4: “Don’t carry a money-belt or a pack, and don’t stop to shmoose with people on the road.” That’s right, it took two millennia to correct the KJV “mistranslation” to include Yiddish. One Paul Clayton Gibbs goes so far as to aver that this “best translates the full meaning of the greek ‘melena aspasesthe,'” i.e., he can’t even successfully transliterate μηδένα and is iffy on ἀσπάσησθε but is quite comfortable in tossing Greek entry 782 from Strong’s Concordance out the window. It’s unbridled comedy.)

  103. #103 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    it took two millennia to correct the KJV “mistranslation”

    Oh, you know what I mean.

  104. #104 Mrs Woo
    January 12, 2014

    I am almost beginning to wonder of Mykaayah goes to a branch of Mr Woo’s church, except that there is more debate about the original ancestry of the chosen people (usually landing on olive-skinned Mediterranean peoples as an answer). Fascinatingly, one person tracing our ancestry told my father they traced our family lineage back to the 4th century, when we were Jews living in Greece.

    There is a movement in many denominations to abandon contemporary Christian holidays and Sunday Sabbath. It isn’t necessarily limited to just one.

  105. #105 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    I am a Yehudite if you must know and I am proud of my heritage. Explain that to me smarty.

    Given that it’s extremely unlikely that you have any particular knowledge of the what most people are discussing when they say “Yehudite,” which isn’t a religion but the residents of Yehud, especially around the time of the construction of the Second Temple, I’m going with your being incredibly dense.

    (The underlying assertion is that 95%+ of modern Jews are actually “Edomites” or “Khazars”; Paul was a “Benjimite,” not a “Jew,” etc. In other words, Mykaayah is claiming superiority to Jews.)

  106. #106 Mrs Woo
    January 12, 2014

    Wow. Faith healing dentist turns fillings to gold? Is it wrong for me to wonder what’s the point? I can see wanting a damaged tooth healed, but gee, go to a dental school… 🙁

  107. #107 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    Oh, and given the “my heritage” part, I would be remiss in failing to point to Haile Selassie. This bowl of word salad gives the general flavor.

  108. #108 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    January 12, 2014

    [2] NOPE, do not believe in Greek Mythology. They are the ones who messed up the bible with their translations.

    You mean the story about the 72 scholars independently producing exactly the same translation, word-for-word, thus proving they were divinely inspired, was a crock? My surprise, let me show you it!

  109. #109 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    One other thing:

    I have come into knowledge and know the truth now. At that time I did not understand and was not being told the truth. Yes, I went on the 50 day fast because we were told to. I am glad I did it because I went on it with a sincere heart and I left that church.

    Yet,

    My Pastor still prays for the sick and they are still getting healed, HIV/Aids, cancer, Highblood problems, limbs straightened out and healing blindness on the eyes and so many other things.

    However,

    I went to an old fashion revival about five days after the diagnosis and the preacher anointed his hands with oil, placed his hands on my head and prayer a prayer of faith over me.

    So which is it? Are the pastor and the preacher the same, or was the miraculous healing outside of the church that you left? Why not stick with whoever has been granted the miraculous powers by G-d? If he wasn’t telling you “the truth,” why did he have these powers?

  110. #110 AdamG
    January 12, 2014

    The underlying assertion is that 95%+ of modern Jews are actually “Edomites” or “Khazars”

    Although she doesn’t know it, Mykaayah’s actually stumbled onto what has been an interesting debate in population genetics over the past 10-15 years: Where did the Ashkenazi come from? Coincidentally, there’s been quite a bit of movement on this issue in the past year, and these 2 recent papers put the issue largely to rest:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24104924
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24346185

  111. #111 Narad
    January 12, 2014

    Israel is not a country but the name of Jacob.

    BTW, this naturally goes hand-in-hand with New World Order anti-Semitism.

  112. #112 Calli Arcale
    January 12, 2014

    TBruce:

    Whoa, so the “Christians on board” travelled 2000 years back in time to crucify the Son of God? I guess they had to make damn sure that the basis for their religion really happened. Don’t know how they managed the resurrection thing, though. Drugs and a defibrillator, maybe?

    Mykaayah is calling folks like lilady and me Pharisees, basically. It’s a popular insult among the *particularly* holy-roller types. Which, given her references to following the Commandments and subsequent talk about being a *real* Jew (not like those posers who actually practice Judaism), seems a wee bit hypocritical.

    I also am amused at how she didn’t even blink at my pointing out how fast she put the lie to her assertion that she knows what the Word really is (Jesus, not the Bible), and that she never responded to me calling her out on that.

    BTW, Mykaanah, you mentioned the genocide of Indians by Europeans. It’s interesting you either are unaware of or excuse the contribution of black people. Perhaps you feel they get a free pass because most of their ancestors came to the Americas by force, but personally I don’t think that’s much of an excuse for perpetuating the violence. Black divisions of the US Army were very involved with the subjugation of the West. There aren’t a lot of saints involved in the whole mess. We’re all humans, and if you are really following Christ, you would know that.

    Only by grace, and all that.

  113. #113 Mykaayah
    January 14, 2014

    I need to answer this question, since I am taking a break from classes. My healing was outside that 6,000 member church. It was in a smaller church with a smaller congregation in Hollis Queens, N.Y.. The Pastor of that church was not the one that prayed for me it was the one in the smaller church, that and other reasons are why I left. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word was with God and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we knew it not. That is why I believe the Word was Jesus and it will be that Word that will judge the world not the bible, it has been tampered with and mistranslated

  114. #114 Calli Arcale
    January 14, 2014

    And yet you twice have used the Word of God to refer to the Bible in this thread (e.g. in your first post, “This is what Jesus said in the Word of God”). You seem to have some consistency issues.

    I am glad you understand that it is a work of men. I hope you also understand this is true of the original editions of each book, not just the modern compilations and translations. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not taking dictation; they were writing their own witnessing of Christ, in their own words. This does not make it less valuable, of course.

    Incidentally, you decried the Greeks for mistranslating the Bible. Did you know that most of the original books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek? Not translated, actually written in the language. Greek was sort of a lingua franca at the time, the language of scholars, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt; the region of Alexander the Great’s influence, basically. It provided a common language for people struggling through the huge range of languages and dialects spoken in the area even before the Romans arrived and brought Latin along with them.

  115. #115 JGC
    January 15, 2014

    Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not taking dictation; they were writing their own witnessing of Christ, in their own words.

    Actuallym, the authors– who were not eyewitnesses and are themselves not identified in the text–collated accounts from various oral traditions and written sources, considerably after the fact. Assigning their authorship to named disciples is a tradition that dates to the second century AD.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.