When Mary Met Gabriel – Did It
Mary & Gabriel – A Meeting that Shaped
Mary & Gabriel – Where Is the
Delusory Memes "…Last Forever"
Mary & Gabriel – Almost
Mary and Gabriel: Here Is The
Mary & Gabriel: Still No
Mary & Gabriel: Evidence Sufficient
When Evidence is not Evidence
WHEN MARY (MARIAMNE) MET GABRIEL –
"It is undesirable
believe a proposition when there is no ground
whatever for supposing it true." (Bertrand Russell)
John H Williams
Some days, in the
right corner of the Advertiser's two letters
pages, there appears a biblical quotation. This traditional remnant of
Victorian religiosity no doubt pleases and reassures Christian readers,
while I take an academic interest, and it reminds me of my Welsh
Anglican childhood, when "gospel truth" meant happenings so true and
attested that it was scandalous to doubt or question them.
'Christmyth' or 'Dollarmass') on a date universally
acknowledged not to be the birth time of the "reason for the season",
read again the description of the angel Gabriel's meeting with the
woman Mary (aka Mariamne or Miriam Herod, also Stada or Stadea), who
had "found favour with God":
assured Mary, "Don't be afraid, God is pleased with you. You
will have a son and name him Jesus. He will be great and called the Son
of God." But Mary replied, "How can I have a son? I'm a virgin!"
If one happens to be a
believer, the quote is reasonable and
acceptable: "For with God nothing shall be impossible" (KJV Luke
1:37), and miracles happen when required. If not, a few questions would
occur to even the mildest skeptic, because this story is one of the
least believable in the Bible.
Luke 1:30-32, 34
for Today) The Advertiser 5/12/07
Who was the person
observed and recorded the meeting and who, if
not the same person, was the writer? If it was 'Luke', who is believed
to have been the companion of Paul (Corinthians 4:14), then he was
highly unlikely to have been born. Scholarly opinion believes that Luke
was based in part on Mark and a now lost document called Q, and written
between 85-90 CE.
Luke, the "loved physician", was a Christian
writing in Greek to an intended gentile audience, fitting Paul's agenda
of distancing his crusade from that of being merely a new Jewish sect.
It's believed that the author of Luke also wrote The Acts of The
'Gabriel' are useful story-telling devices,
and although some believe in angels, we can discount their existence,
due to a comprehensive lack of evidence.
Very much the same
said about the main delusion, the father/son
duo upon which the 'cult which grew to be a religion' is based.
Couldn't this be "legendary" too Dr Williams (Archbishop of
Canterbury)? Dr Williams may privately agree, but couldn't possibly say
so, as he'd soon be facing early 'retirement'.
acknowledge, Mariamne, a well-born woman of the
Herodian family, was not a virgin: the correct word for 'young
unmarried woman' or equivalent was conveniently mistranslated, and she
had 'known' a man, though it's highly unlikely to have been Joseph.
She's thought to have been a teenager, while he was in middle age, and
he protected her from an unpleasant fate by marrying her.
If the Holy Ghost
fathered Mariamne's child, Jesus' (aka Yeshu'a
ben Stada or Yeshu'a ben Panthera) connection to King David would be
invalid. As it was someone else anyway, we can dismiss this prophetic
bit of OT/NT spin, as in Luke 1:32, "the Lord God shall give unto him
the throne of his father, David." (KJV) Even if the actual father of
the child was Jewish, and there's evidence that he wasn't, then there's
a good chance of a genetic connection to David, though it would have
been shared with thousands of others.
This Gabriel and
story never happened; it's been
retrospectively spun to help persuade and convert. A supernaturally
produced 'Messiah' was de rigueur, as was a dad in Heaven, the
resurrection, the three magi/astrologers/kings, and the telling of
miraculous but literally untrue tales of the kind required as
'evidence' for beatification/sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Put simply, a
supernaturally endowed pious lies was
presented to a superstitious pre-scientific population, taken up by
many who found its tenets appealing and superior to that which was then
available, as it offered many positive values, and the appealing
prospect of an eternal life.
Paul was a
propagandist, and would have approved of the 'fly
on the wall' witness. "…so that you may know the certainty of the
things you have been taught": gospel untruth, acceptable and
justifiable porkies in his crusade to establish what is now the world's
most popular religion.
for obvious reasons, remained 'buried' in
various publications, ever since Yeshu'a ben Panthera's Mum never had
that chat with the angel someone named Gabriel. And his Dad is likely
to have been a Phoenician soldier of the Roman Army (an archer) known
as Tiberius Julius Abdes Panthera, nicknamed "the Panther".
Bushby T. 2001 The
Fraud, The Pacific Blue Group Inc, Hong Kong.
About Jesus pp 272-277, in You Are Being
Lied To: Guide to Media Distortion, Historical Whitewashes and Cultural
Myths, The Disinformation Company, R Kick (ed) 2002.
The Bible (KJV and
MARY and GABRIEL
A MEETING THAT
Did the Virgin
encounter the angel Gabriel?
Yes. The Nativity
(Luke 1-2; Matthew 1-2) include accurate
history, confirmed astronomy, testable biology, fulfilled prophecy, and
plausible supernatural components – and supposed "contradictions" are
the Nativity stories such as Emperor Augustus
and Herod are historical. A problem, however, is Quirinius, governor of
Syria during the census that brought Jesus' parents to Bethlehem. (Luke
says that Quirinius and Coponius were sent by
Caesar to rule the Jews and ordered a taxation in, "the thirty seventh
year after Caesar's defeat of Antony at Actium." (Antiquities of the
Jews Book XVIII, Chapters 1 & 2) Actium occurred in 31 BCE, which
makes Quirinius governor of Syria by CE 6, seven or more years after
However, the Lapis
Tiburtinus inscription, found in Rome in 1764, lists
information believed to be about Quirinius, but without naming him, and
says he become governor "the second time". It's probable, therefore,
that Quirinius was governor twice, and Josephus mentioned only the
second occasion, but Luke the first.
A similar problem
with Lysanias, ruler of Abilene when John
the Baptist preached. (Luke 3:1) Josephus mentions only a Lysanias
executed 60 years earlier (Antiquities IV, 1), and hasty critics
accused Luke of error. Subsequently, a temple dedication was discovered
from the reign of Tiberius that names "Lysanias the tetrarch".
Van Biema (2004)
"There is no other record of a census in
Palestine at the time…" (p. 61) However, there was a combined census
and oath of allegiance to Augustus in 3 to 2 BCE to mark Rome's 750th
anniversary. (See Investigator 81)
idea of people returning to their home-town
for the census. However, this may have been standard practice. A Roman
governmental order of CE 104 says:
Maximus, prefect of Egypt [says]: Seeing that the time has
come for the house to house census, it is necessary to compel all those
who…are residing out of their provinces to return to their own homes,
that they may both carry out the regular order of the census and may
also attend diligently to the cultivation of their allotments.
Van Biema (2004) writes:
"In Matthew's Nativity, the angelic
Annunciation is made to Joseph while Luke's is to Mary. Mathew's offers
wise men and a star and puts the baby Jesus in a house; Luke's prefers
shepherds and a manger." (p. 57)
However, these are
contradictions but different, non-conflicting
details. The angel appeared to both Mary and Joseph at different times.
The shepherd-incident occurred on the night of Jesus' birth, and the
wise men incident six or more weeks later.
The Star of
plausibly be identified as two conjunctions
of Venus and Jupiter in August 3 BCE in the east, and June 2 BCE in the
west. (Investigator 81)
wrote correctly that birth occurs in the "tenth month". (Chadwick et al
uncertain regarding the length of human
pregnancy – some said 8 months, others 11 months. (Allason-Jones (1989)
Pliny the Elder (CE 23-79) wrote:
The period of
gestation is not fixed – it is sometimes six months or
seven, or as long as ten months… Only those conceived the day before or
the day after the full moon, or when there is no moon, are born in the
seventh month. It is common in Egypt for babies to be born in the
eighth month–and indeed similarly in Italy…
Luke reports the
of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist,
and mentions Elizabeth's "sixth month". (1:26, 36)
At this stage Mary
travelled from Nazareth to Elizabeth's home in Judea – a 150-kilometre
trip probably taking one week. Mary stayed with Elizabeth "about
three months and then returned to her
home" (1:56). Again, assume a one-week trip. And, "Now the time came
for Elizabeth to give birth." (1:57)
If we assume
meant half way through the sixth month, i.e.
5½ months, then Elizabeth's pregnancy was 270 - 275 days.
cites 537 pregnancies of White American women
and percentages giving birth:
the 266th day
the 280th day
the 294th day
pregnancy-length, Luke puts Elizabeth close
Elizabeth said to
soon as the sound of your greeting reached
my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy." (Luke 1:44)
The implication is
fetus heard the sound too, but skeptics
have ridiculed this. (Investigator 96)
one of the lesser known debates of modern science was
quietly moving to a conclusion. The issue? Whether humans develop
hearing in the womb or are born deaf and only develop it in the first
few weeks of life. The "newborns are deaf" idea lost the day, and it is
safe to say it will never be revived… Electric toothbrushes, door
buzzers, the theme of TV soaps – all have been used to elicit a fetal
wriggle, racing heart or other such sign that the sound is getting
through. (October 19, 1996 p. 40)
Mary said: " Surely, from now on all
generations will call me blessed for the Mighty
One has done great things for me…" (Luke 1:48)
Mary is called
worldwide. Of 100 million women in the
1st-century, Luke picked one, and implies all generations will know
her. And she became history's most famous woman! Try to duplicate that!
Mary is "blessed",
Luke, because she became mother to "the Messiah
the Lord". (Luke 2:11) That a "Messiah-King" would come and impact all
nations is clear from the Old Testament:
is coming to you! He comes triumphant and victorious,
but humble and riding on a donkey… Your king will make peace among the
nations; he will rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of
the earth. (Zechariah 9:9-10; See Investigator 120)
The New Testament
identifies the Messiah-King as Jesus and foretold
that he'll be preached "to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
First-century historians, however, barely mention Jesus, but nowadays
it's clear that "this penniless preacher from Galilee is irresistibly
the centre of history." Again, try to duplicate that!
The virgin birth
1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35) was discussed in
Investigator 92-96, 88.
virgin-birth legends for Alexander the
Great, Augustus and others. The Gospel writers, however, did not steal
a pagan idea.
Genesis 3, set at
of the human race, foretold a "seed" or
descendant of Eve who would crush the "serpent", the original source of
evil. No human could accomplish such a task. Therefore the descendant
of Eve would require a combined natural/supernatural origin – and that
entails a virgin birth. (See Investigator #88)
Ancient Jews knew
precedes pregnancy. (Numbers 5:13, 28;
Leviticus 15:16-18) The Septuagint translation of "alma" in Isaiah 7:14
as "virgin" – "a virgin shall conceive a son" – therefore suggests the
translators considered the "son" in Isaiah 7:14 to be the "seed" who
destroys the "serpent". Thus 150 years before Jesus was born, Jewish
scholars understood the Scriptures as predicting a virgin birth.
not copy the pagans – rather the pagans stole
and misused a prophecy as old as humanity.
Celsus, a 2nd
agnostic, claimed Mary was an adulteress,
Jesus' father was a centurion named Panthera, and the idea of God
saving sinners is nonsense.
Celsus made these
in The True Word (CE c.178). No surviving copy
is known, but Origen (a Christian apologist) quoted 75% of it in Contra
Celsum (CE 248).
quacks they [Christians] gather a crowd of slaves, children,
women and idlers…
When we are
the Mysteries the masters use another tone. They
say, Come to us you who are of clean hands and pure speech, you who are
unstained by crime, who have a good conscience towards God, who have
done justly and lived uprightly. The Christians say, Come to us you who
are sinners, you who are fools or children, you who are miserable, and
you shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: the rogue, the thief, the
burglar, the poisoner, the despoiler of temples and tombs, these are
their proselytes. Jesus, they say, was sent to save sinners; was he not
sent to help those who have kept themselves free from sin? They pretend
that God will save the unjust man if he repents and humbles himself…
attach themselves to the great philosophic and
political authorities of the world?"
The suggestion that
Christians "attach themselves to…the world" when
Jesus said "You are not of this world" (John 15:18-19; 17:14-19)
demonstrates Celsus' prejudice.
Rome fell in CE
philosophy, politics and Pagan "Mysteries"
faded away. But Christianity remained, and evidence supporting the
Scriptures continues to increase.
What about the
"supernatural", including the angel Gabriel?
debated in Investigator 101-106. The points were
made that the laws of physics appear fundamentally inconsistent,
mathematics has numerous paradoxes, "causation" is mysterious so that
the complete cause of anything cannot be established, and the Universe
seems "designed" for life.
"String Theory" with its multiple dimensions
(New Scientist, 22 September 2007; 5 January 2008) are still hot
topics. There's also speculation about an "entirely new type of matter
unlike anything we have encountered before" labelled "unparticles".
(New Scientist, 26 January 2008)
are realities beyond our Universe and domains
inaccessible to current science.
that the supernatural corresponds to higher
dimensions postulated by science.
We live life in
physical dimensions – length, breadth and height – extended through the
fourth dimension, which is time.
understand higher dimensions by considering how
creatures restricted to two physical dimensions (2-D) would experience
3-dimensional creatures like us.
This technique was
in Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
(1884) by Edwin A. Abbott (1838-1926). Abbott was a clergyman,
headmaster, and author of 40 books.
"Flatland" is a
two-dimensional world, with length and width but no
height, inhabited by 2-D creatures such as squares, circles and other
understand "up" or "down" but only flat
things on the flat surface.
biologically possible. We're doing a "thought
experiment" to understand how humans might experience contact from
higher dimensions if such exist.
Imagine a sphere
passing through Flatland. Flatlanders would see
a dot which appears out of nowhere, expands into a circle, reaches a
maximum size, shrinks back into a dot, and vanishes. Flatlanders would
find it inexplicable.
Suppose we poke a
through Flatland. Flatlanders will discover a
boundary where their friends vanish from sight. From our 3-D viewpoint
they fall through the hole and up or down. To Flatlanders it's
miraculous because they know nothing of up or down.
defective – an organ which others have on their
left side is on his right side. A 3-D person picks him up, flips him
over, and returns him to Flatland. The misplaced organ is now correctly
positioned. To Flatlanders it's a miraculous healing!
To explain such
phenomena some Flatland intellectuals would
speculate about the "supernatural" populated by superior beings able to
produce "miracles". Other Flatlanders might speculate about a third
dimension. A further group suggests that "supernatural" and "third
dimension" are two names for the same thing.
dismiss such ideas as nonsense and interpret "miracles", like dots
expanding into circles then shrinking to nothing,
as natural but unexplainable.
From our 3-D
natural/supernatural distinction that some
Flatlanders entertain, vanishes and both universes, 2-D and 3-D, are
3-D inhabitants or
"Spacelanders", as Abbott calls them, could even
influence Flatland in regular, predictable ways and fool Flatlanders
into thinking they've discovered a law of nature! For example whenever
a Spacelander sees six Flatlanders in a group he could give Flatland a
shake. Flatlanders would associate "six" with "earthquakes" and try to
control "earthquakes" by avoiding sixes. From the Flatland perspective
this would be scientific, but from the fuller 3-D viewpoint delusional.
adventures of a Square whom a Spacelander
introduces into Spaceland. Mr Square also explores Lineland (1-D) and
Pointland (0-D). After that Mr Square imagines 4-D. The
Spacelanders, in Abbott's story, consider the notion of a fourth
dimension so outrageous they banish Mr Square from Spaceland!
Flatland was a
lampoon narrow-mindedness. But the story also
suggests the possibility of a supernatural "higher order" in higher
What if Abbott is
and the three dimensions humans experience
are embedded in 4-D space? Contact from the fourth dimension would seem
supernatural to our 3-D viewpoint, but would be natural from the 4-D
Suppose a human
Flatland with a fingertip. Flatlanders would
see the fingertip as a circular shape appearing out of nowhere.
Thus everything a
being is, all his complexity, is reduced in
Flatland to a flat circle.
4-Dimensioners revealed themselves to humans we would see
hopelessly inadequate representations of them. However, just as circles
would be familiar to Flatlanders, 4-Dimensioners who reveal themselves
to humans would resemble creatures familiar to us.
restrain or hurt a Spacelander who appears to
them as a circle. Similarly humans would be powerless against a
If one Spacelander
malevolent and wreaks havoc in Flatland,
Flatland's only protection would be if a friendly Spacelander restrains
the nasty one. Similarly humanity's only protection against malevolent
4-Dimensioners would be friendly 4-Dimensioners. We'd need the
"supernatural" for protection against the "supernatural".
brain, or its Flatland equivalent, and
therefore a mind. A Spacelander could interfere with that brain and
distort its function as easily as a human could damage a drawing on
paper by scraping it. Flatlanders would interpret their afflicted
fellow as "sick", others as "demon possessed". Similarly a
4-Dimensioner might distort human minds and human thinking.
I suggest then,
dimensions inaccessible to humans exist and
correspond to the "supernatural". Higher dimensions would explain the
biblical teachings that:
Nothing we can imagine truly pictures God;
Angels appear occasionally and resemble men;
Demons can possess humans;
Demons deceive the entire world;
Humans are helpless against demonic power and
require God's protection.
Higher dimensions remain
central to cosmology (Kaku 1994), are
routinely discussed in science journals (e.g. New Scientist 19 February
2005), and seem necessary to unify the laws of physics.
String Theory's extra dimensions are too
tiny to affect us but others write:
…two or more
string theory's extra dimensions might be far
larger–just so long as these dimensions are barred to every force
except gravity. They could even be infinitely large. (Boyle 2001)
a third dimension so humans can infer a 4th
(or higher) dimension, corresponding to the supernatural. This
possibility, together with surprisingly accurate scientific and
prophetic data throughout the Bible, supports that a Jewish virgin
encountered an angel and swayed the history of the world.
Abbott, E. A. 1992
Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, Dover.
Women in Roman Britain, British Museum Press.
Barnett, A. 1961
Boyle, A 2001 New
2001, September 29, pp 23-29.
Chadwick, J. et al
(Translators), 1983, Hippocratic Writings, Penguin,
pp 342, 343.
Healy, J. F.
1991, Pliny The Elder Natural History,
Penguin, p. 281.
Kaku, M. 1994
Oxford University Press.
Nerlich, G. 1976,
Shape of Space, Cambridge University Press.
Van Biema, D.
December 13, 2004, pp 54-64.
Vermes, G. History
December, 2006, pp 23-29.
Mary & Gabriel: Where is the Evidence?
In issue No. 121
Investigator, Anonymous asks the following
rhetorical question: "Did the Virgin Mary encounter the angel Gabriel?"
And then claims that the answer is a resounding yes.
Now, Anonymous is
entitled to this claim, but he must make it
as a statement of faith, rather than a proven fact as he seems to
imply; for the central questions that need to be demonstrated as true
are as follows:
That angels exist.
it is possible for a woman to become pregnant
by supernatural means.
In both cases Anonymous
strong on speculation, but weak on evidence.
He attempts to make a plausible case by referring to scientific
theories (such as the extra dimensions of String Theory) and then
appears to claim supernatural beings (such as angels) may inhabit one
of these extra dimensions, or one very much like them (if, in fact,
they actually exist).
Of course, one
the same claim for fairies. Indeed, as far as
I can see there is no major difference – Anonymous' argument for the
existence of one type of paranormal entity can be applied to all.
What is needed is
verifiable empirical evidence that supports the
existence of angels and virgin births. Anonymous has not supplied this
proof. Indeed, his arguments amount to nothing more than speculative
pseudo scientific constructions designed to lend a veneer of
credibility to the supernatural stories of a prescientific age.
On page 42
to Isaiah 7:14, and claims this predicts a
virgin birth. This can't be used as evidence because the Gospel authors
may have altered their accounts to match the alleged prophecy. This is
why we need verifiable evidence for the event that is independent from
experts agree on how this passage should be
translated. The Revised Standard Version, for example, refers to a
"young woman" rather than a virgin as conceiving, and of course not all
young women are virgins, especially if they are pregnant.
the pagans "stole and misused a prophecy as
old as humanity" (page 42). This simply isn't true. If virgin births
started appearing in pagan mythology after Jesus then this might be a
plausible argument. Accounts of births, however, predate Christianity
and the date of 150 BC Anonymous gives for Isaiah – for example, in the
Phrygian pantheon, Attis, god of vegetation was thought to be born of a
Nana, a virgin. This myth can be dated to circa 200 BC.
Given the lack of
evidence for angles and virgin births,
Anonymous affirmative conclusion as to the veracity of these events is
Dimensions & God
String Theory: Is
Science's Ultimate Dead End?
The Virgin Birth
Childhood Mysteries of Jesus
Adam & Eve, Prometheus Books, New York,
"THE GRASS WITHERS, THE FLOWER FADES…"
DELUSORY MEMES "…LAST FOREVER"
"From ghoulies and
and long leggety beasties, And things that
go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!"
John H Williams
When I started
for The Investigator I thought that the modern
world, in which most have had some kind of education, had moved beyond
the medieval (except, of course, during the weekly regression in places
of religion), which, for example, may present the idea that there are
angels and demons. But no, there's Anonymous, who speculates that such
invented beings exist: I refer to his Mary and Gabriel in Investigator
This debate has
running for several years, with sterling multiple
contributions from Harry Edwards, Laurie Eddie and Kirk Straughen (see
below): in my opinion they've made their point most effectively, only
to be answered by speculation, hubris, biblical sophistries and
response to Straughen's's piece in #103, Mr A
gave us More On Demons: on page 21 he wrote, "Evolution has gaps. We
don't know the full process – all the steps – for the origin of most
species. Yet we don't argue life doesn't exist. A species' origin is a
different concept from our experience of it.
Evidence for or against their existence is a
separate question to how they may have originated."
It's not hard to
fallacy in that argument, but I'll spell it
out: we're agreed that there are species, being one ourselves, so we
can't argue that species don't exist. But we're far from agreed that
there are demons (asking, where is the evidence?), so discussing their
origin or evolution is futile!
There is no direct
scientific evidence that demons exist, as far as I
know, and I've had a thorough search on the net (36.2 million sites!)
for any hint of such evidence. Imagined beings which don't actually
exist can't have evolved, while we do have incontestable evidence that
species exist, and fossil evidence, while necessarily partial and
imperfect, shows that they've evolved over time.
During 1959-1963 I
collected many graptolite fossils from Cambrian,
Ordovician and Silurian rocks, which cover a time period of 150 million
years, showing clear evidence of relatively 'rapid' evolutionary
change, so much so that they're recognised as palaeontology's best
marker or guide fossils, enabling specific stratigraphic dating and
correlation. Virtually as good is a primitive arthropod group known as
trilobites which lived during the same time period (the Palaeozoic) as
What I write of is
world-wide, is in texts and is on the net:
every known graptolite and trilobite has been photographed, named and
studied. I ask Mr A to provide actual equivalent evidence (photographs
and other 'non-artistic' forms of verification) that demons and angels
exist. Could he also provide details of journals eg New Scientist,
which they've been photographed and discussed?
I remind Mr A of
letter, Evidence For Demons Adequate (#106): "Since the Bible
says the Devil is the deceiver of the whole world, we
need find only one person who is not deceived in his beliefs and
values." This 'test' is, as he knows, as puerile and invalid as can be,
but I'll submit to it, and he can contact me at my email address.
In #121 Mr A's
ignored my article on Mariamne (Mary) and
Gabriel, in which I posed the obvious issue of the non-existence of
angels, as well as who was there to record that most unlikely
conversation between the two. His bizarre credo is as follows (his
words in italics):
explain the biblical teachings that:
Nothing we can imagine truly pictures God
to imagine a being that is everywhere and
nowhere, a male entity who created the universe and who exists
somewhere in it. I tried it and came up with …nothing.
occasionally and resemble men (sic)
So, no female or
angels? The ones I remember (I lived next to a
cemetery) were mostly marbled cherubs, and many were female. Even
though angels are spirits lacking a physical nature, artists have been
able to depict them: how'd they manage that? Not only do we resemble
one of the sky gods that's impossible to imagine, but its agents look
like grown up male versions of us! As they're godly messengers, they
were given wings, and while they were at it, haloes, and some have been
known to carry harps and horns and could, presumably, play them. Could
any of this mythology be any more anthropomorphised?
Demons can possess
that not one human has been 'owned' by a
demon, since they don't exist: but humans do, some of whom believe
there are such creatures, ergo demon 'possession'.
Demons deceive the
Are all 6.7
billion of us
demonstrably deceived without us actually
knowing? As I've said before, Mr A should speak for himself, and
express his own demonic deception, which is clearly in evidence in his
I say that not one
supernaturally influenced miracle has occurred, so
all Mr A has to do is to provide the evidence which unequivocally
proves that just one such event has occurred.
Humans are helpless
against demonic power and require God's protection
then no one can be under their power, thus
making a celestial CEO redundant: George Pell would disagree, but most
professional religionists would demur at this sweeping and ridiculous
notion. Notice, yet again, the use of a being known as "God" with the
inbuilt assumption that it exists, when it's very much in dispute.
Also, a repeat dose of the infantilisation of Homo sapiens, lost and
helpless sheep needing a shepherd. This tired and tiresome malarky is
as hackneyed and threadbare as new age pyramid power, crystal healing
and astral travelling.
Mr A's case
supernatural appears to rest on higher
dimensions which have not and may well never be established. His mantra
is, as before, excessively speculative, and I feel a little ridiculous
in even addressing what passes for argument. I am scornful of any
writer who is unable to distinguish the fundamental difference between
the real (species/life) and the non-real and surreal (demons), and who,
despite existing in the 21st century, persists in presenting the same
have debunked Mr A's ideas far better than
I, and I acknowledge them, and recommend that they be read or re-read.
Mr A's responses are usually to be found in the same or following
in my title is from Isaiah 40:8, and the
sub-title is from a Cornish prayer by an unknown author.
The Devil -
Maligned #105, November 2005
Genesis of the
Investigator #73, July 2000
Religion #93 November 2003
or Delusion #101, March 2005
Science Does Not
the Existence of Demons #103 July 2005
and Reason #104 September 05
The Problem of
The Real Story
#87, November 2002
The MARY and GABRIEL Story
and almost Indisputable
I argued that the
Mary meeting the angel Gabriel included:
history, confirmed astronomy, testable biology, fulfilled
prophecy, and plausible supernatural components – and the supposed
contradictions are easily reconciled. (#121, p. 37)
In response John H
(#122, p. 38) began by quoting my words
from a previous debate:
gaps. We don't know the full process – all the steps –
for the origin of most species. Yet we don't argue life doesn't exist.
A species' origin is a different concept from our experience of it.
Similarly with "demons". Evidence for or against their existence is a
separate question to how they may have originated."
After quoting this,
Williams claimed, "it is not hard to spot the
fallacy". However, there is no fallacy here to spot. We do not need to
know the origin of something – whether cosmic rays, houses, species,
angels, John H Williams, the Universe, neutrinos or anything else – to
investigate or know whether it or they exist.
separate concepts and to argue from ignorance
of origin to non-existence is illogical – or to use Williams' term
"delusory". If we insist on knowledge of origin before we accept the
existence of something, scientific progress would halt. Scientists
would have to reject every physical law and every scientific fact which
they can't trace back to an "origin".
Similarly in the
of Demons" debate: Linking the question of
the demons' existence with their origin would generate confusion of
thought and ensure faulty conclusions.
(The same point
when atheists respond to arguments that God got
the Universe started with, "Who then created God?" The question of
God's origin is distinct from his existence and, again, ignorance of
origin would not imply non-existence.)
CREDO" NOT A CREDO
Williams next (in
summarized my "bizarre credo" but got it wrong.
He quoted the following:
explain the biblical teachings that:
Nothing we can imagine truly pictures God
Angels appear occasionally and resemble men
Demons can possess humans
Demons deceive the whole world
Humans are helpless against demonic power and
require God's protection
I did not present the six
bulleted statements as facts or as a "credo".
Rather they are the logic for seeking the "supernatural" in higher
dimensions beyond the three physical dimensions humans are familiar
On pages 44-45,
the bulleted statements, I relied on
standard texts known to philosophers and physicists to discuss how
two-dimensional inhabitants (Flatlanders) in a two-dimensional world
(Flatland) would interpret interference from three-dimensional
From the 2-D
perspective a "Spacelander" such as a human can
only appear as a flat shape. If a Spacelander touched Flatland with a
fingertip, producing a circle, the Flatlanders would see this as a
familiar shape resembling Flatlanders and things in Flatland. From
observing the circle, Flatlanders could not even remotely imagine
Spaceland or what powers Spacelanders have.
coincides with the first two bulleted
statements of what the Bible says about humans and the "supernatural".
The next four
statements (pp 44-45) also correspond to how
Flatlanders would experience three dimensions.
Flatlander experience of 3-D Spaceland is
remarkably similar to what the Bible says about the supernatural and
its contact with humans. It's almost as if the Bible writers read Edwin
Abbott's book Flatland (1884) and based biblical doctrine about
supernatural on that book.
My conclusion from
of similarities was not the "credo" that
the "supernatural" with demons, gods and angels exists. The conclusion
was that if there is a supernatural world then it may lie in higher
dimensions that humans cannot see or touch but which can interact with
was the reason for seeking the biblical
supernatural in higher dimensions and that's all. Whether the six
bulleted points can be scientifically confirmed is irrelevant in the
current context. In demanding confirmation Mr Williams, despite his
outstanding intelligence, shows he completely missed the boat.
What, then, was my
– my "credo" – for the existence of the
supernatural including Mary meeting the angel Gabriel?
for seeking the supernatural in higher
dimensions I then referred to cosmologists who seek to unify the laws
of physics by postulating dimensions additional to the three of space
and one of time that we experience. Brian Greene, in the television
production The Elegant Universe (2003) and his book The
Universe (2000) emphasized that our understanding of the Universe
based on two separate sets of laws which don't agree. And to make them
agree requires additional dimensions and parallel universes!
implies that the biblical supernatural may lie in
higher dimensions. Cosmologists postulate the existence of additional
dimensions to unify the laws of physics. This connects the doctrine of
the supernatural to third-millennium physics.
I already saw this
connection in the 1970s and sought more
understanding by attending lectures of Graham Nerlich about "The Shape
of Space" at Adelaide University.
In addition to the
reasons for seeking the supernatural in higher
dimensions I argued in #121 that the Nativity accounts of Mary and
Gabriel have high credibility because the stories have embedded in
history, confirmed astronomy, testable biology, fulfilled
The "fulfilled prophecy"
for example was that Mary and the Messiah
(Jesus) would be known in every generation and influence all nations.
Could any atheist pick two obscure individuals in the world today, two
individuals who won't get public recognition for another century, and
correctly predict that they'll be the world's most mentioned
individuals of the next 2,000 years?
The arguments in
present article (and in #121) are additional to
earlier evidence for the supernatural in previous Investigator
Everyone Correct and Right in a World
Investigator debate about demonic possession.
(#101 to #106)
Our topic is
very different to Williams' specialty which is
Although he's intelligent Williams' request for photographic
confirmation (of angels) demonstrated poor comprehension. He needs to
re-read the material, stop imagining fallacies, and misrepresent me
such as the wrongness of racism, the
strangling of prey by lions, the threat to Earth of fire from the sky,
and much more, initially seemed speculative and unscientific. Then
modern science caught up and what was incomprehensible and false became
public scientific fact.
may already have started for another biblical
claim – the claim that supernatural powers both good and evil exist and
humans are victimized by the evil ones.
MARY AND GABRIEL
Mr Straughen read
evidence that Mary met the angel Gabriel but still
asks, "Where is the evidence?" (#122)
The first evidence
credibility of the source.
Embedded in the
(i.e. Luke and Matthew in the Bible) is: "accurate history, confirmed
astronomy, testable biology, fulfilled
prophecy, and plausible supernatural components…" The reader can read
the details in #121, p. 37ff.
The inclusion in
Nativity story of facts confirmed 2,000 years
later give it high credibility – a credibility that few humans have
supernatural components" were as follows: I
used the two-dimensional Flatland/Flatlander scenario, commonly used by
philosophers and physicists, and described six influences that
"Spacelanders" living in three dimensions might have on Flatland and
how Flatlanders might interpret them.
I noted that the
influences correspond to what the Bible says about
the influence of "demons" on humans. The parallels are so close it's as
if the Bible writers read Edwin Abbott's book Flatland (1884)!
This suggests that
biblical supernatural may lie in higher
dimensions which are as inaccessible to human sight and touch as our
3-D world would be to Flatlanders.
my third evidence was that physicists require
the hypothesis of higher dimensions to unify the laws of physics that
describe how the Universe works! This linked the search for the
supernatural to third-millennium science!
higher-dimension portion of my argument could
also be used by believers in fairies. True. Just as a 3-D Spacelander
could reveal himself to Flatlanders in any number of 2-D shapes,
similarly a "4-Dimensioner" might, if he decides to reveal himself,
resemble any 3-D creature of biology or of fiction. Believers in
fairies, however, lack the credibility of the Bible – credibility
established by the Bible regularly turning out correct when criticised
A fourth argument
supernatural is based on humanity's inability
to choose correct beliefs, know right from wrong, or avoid
powerless against a malevolent Spacelander who
could, without being seen, inflict physical damage and even unhinge
their minds. I compared it to a human damaging a drawing (effectively a
2-D object) by scraping it.
teaches that all humanity is deceived by "the
Devil and his angels". (II Corinthians 4:3-4; Revelation 12:9;
W M Dixon (1938)
to be a maggot in every human brain… The delusions from
which men suffer are beyond computation, and the eye which ranges over
the historical landscape blenches at the superstitions, cults and
rituals which contain for our intelligences no grain of sanity, and
seem an outrage upon all reason... (See fuller quote in #63, p. 52)
To refute this, skeptics
need identify only one person, out of 60
billion or more, who had no false beliefs, knew right from wrong, and
avoided emotional and physical self-harm. Skeptics cannot find even
one! However, numberless distressed people in self-inflicted
horror-situations have implied malevolent influences by stating, "I
don't know why I did that!" or "How could I have been so stupid?"
My argument for
supernatural, including that Mary met the angel
Gabriel is inductive and therefore not 100% conclusive. However,
many other Bible teachings that were speculative and inductive
eventually became public scientific fact.
101-106; 119; 121; 122
W. Macneile Dixon
The Human Situation (Angus & Robertson.
Mary & Gabriel: Still no Evidence
I have read
and Gabriel. Here is the Evidence (Inv. 123,
p. 36), and am unable to agree that the information he has presented
verifies the veracity of his beliefs.
In some instances
may contain truthful statements about
aspects of the natural world and history, just as a work of fiction can
contain truthful statements about aspects of the natural world and
written by dispassionate historians, but by
individuals of conviction who were promulgating their religious views.
They were not interested in history as we understand the term, but in
the 'truth' as they saw it. Therefore, we cannot view Scripture as the
unbiased product of disinterested minds, and hence require evidence
completely independent of the Bible that Mary conversed with the angel
Gabriel, and was still a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. Needless
to say, Anonymous has not provided this evidence.
Furthermore, I do
Anonymous' attempt to make the supernatural
seem plausible by reference to hypothetical beings inhabiting other
dimensions is at all convincing. His arguments are of a highly
speculative nature, and are not in any way underpinned by substantial,
verifiable empirical evidence.
dimensions scientists postulate in an attempt
to understand the laws of physics can't be used in support of
supernatural beings. These entities inhabit a transcendental,
supernatural world. The dimensions physicists refer to are part of the
natural world, are within the natural world.
assuming that there is some kind of similarity
between these dimensions and whatever reality supernatural beings (if
such things exist) inhabit. This is an argument by analogy, and is
It is never
possible to argue by analogy. A and B may be similar in
seventeen different ways and these similarities may be observed,
commented on and form the basis of interesting metaphors, but we can
never go on to argue that because A has some other property 'x',
therefore B has it too. (page 165 in Emmet, E.R., The Use of Reason,
Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd., London, 1966)
Even if these other
hypothetical dimensions can be been proven to
exist, we can't then argue that supernatural beings (still unproven)
exist - both are of an entirely different order. For further
the evidence for demons comes from the fact
that people make bad decisions and may feel that they have been
adversely influenced by malevolent forces is really no evidence at all.
Firstly, humanity evolved from animality. This process is natural, not
designed by an intelligent power - that is why human nature is
imperfect. Secondly, even if the majority of people felt their bad
decisions were due to demonic powers, this wouldn't prove that demons
exist - the degree to which a belief is held is no guide to its
veracity. Indeed, what we need is sound empirical evidence.
Finally, I have no
with Anonymous believing (as an act of
faith) that Mary conversed with the angel Gabriel, and was still a
virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. However, I must object when he
claims that his beliefs are established facts, or at least plausible
possibilities, for the simple reason that this is clearly not the case.
When Mary revealed
was up the duff,
It put poor Joseph
of a huff.
'Now tell me
you got that way.'
'I'm sorry, Joe,'
answered, 'I really can't say.'
But in a dream
angel came to Earth,
And told Joseph it
a supernatural birth.
'Take Mary for
she'll bring you forth a son,
Who'll take it
himself, the sins of everyone.'
The Jews did not
Messiah to be divine,
Just the son of
is of the David line.
But strange to
makes no claim that he is Jesus' dad,
Perhaps it was
Archer who fathered the lad.
So why did Luke
feel the need to persist
With their long
contradictory begatting list?
On the one hand
us, he must be Joseph's child,
But then say he is
God's which has us all beguiled!
In Herod's time,
us, young Mary did conceive,
Which was in four
that we might believe.
Then he says the
place in the census of six AD,
Making it the
pregnancy in history.
Now we've reached
point, who really was his pa?
Looking at the
we didn't get that far.
Let's read on in
and put it to the test,
And all may be
let the matter rest.
In one more
dream, an angel came to Joe,
He said, 'I have
by God, there's something you should know.'
the boy so leave for Egypt now.
He's heard the
arrived and will track him down somehow.'
Now bear in mind,
ancient times, God opened up the sea,
To save thousands
people, that they could be set free.
So in the case of
why rely on mortal man,
To save his only
Herod's murderous plan?
And now we must
if it wasn't God or Joe
Or that rumoured
we'll probably never know.
The problem now
Jesus is not Joe's boy,
He can't claim the
Messiaship to give the people joy!
MARY and GABRIEL Evidence Sufficient
sentences have been modified to assist clarity]
that Mary met the angel Gabriel had five
1 Reasons for
seeking the supernatural (including demons and angels) in
The five components are
criminal conviction where video footage,
motive, forensics, witness-testimony and confession considered
separately fail to prove guilt. But taken together they establish guilt.
2 Evidence for
reject evil and false belief, which the Bible
attributes to "demons";
I'll present the
again and explain what Straughen (#124) and
Williams (#122) misunderstood.
I described how a
hypothetical 2-dimensional (2-D) "Flatland" with
2-dimensional inhabitants or "Flatlanders" would understand "Spaceland"
i.e. our 3-D world. (#121; #123 )
dimensions and therefore physicists and
philosophers understand them by comparisons with 2-D. This method was
first detailed in the book Flatland (1884) by Edwin Abbott.
I noted six
between the Flatlanders' experience of
Spaceland and the human experience (according to the Bible) of the
"spirit" world (or supernatural):
to see or imagine 3-D shapes.
could stay away from Flatland or appear there as different
appear occasionally and resemble
can invisibly influence Flatland.
could enter or change a Flatlander's body.
can possess humans.
could alter the minds of Flatlanders, and also simulate
deceive the entire world.
are helpless if a Spacelander were malevolent.
without God are helpless against demons.
suggest that the biblical world of "spirit" is
equivalent to one or more higher dimensions.
"argument by analogy" which he says is "fallacious
reasoning" since further investigation may reveal not more similarities
between Flatland and Spaceland and between
Spaceland and 4-D are actually infinite in number. But it's the
similarities that are significant.
consider another situation where the differences
are infinite but it's the few similarities that count – a crime scene.
On Easter Sunday a victim is stabbed to death with a sharpened wooden
cross. Without further clues the investigation fails. But a year later
it happens again – victim stabbed with a cross on Easter Sunday. The
whole Universe has changed in that one year and the second
crime-location differs in numberless ways from the first. The
detectives however will note the similarities – the death instrument
and the date – and surmise that one person committed both crimes.
If they discover
victims were prominent atheists who became
Christians they'll have enough similarities in the two crimes to
question other atheists. This would not be fallacious but a reasonable
follow-up despite the infinite number of differences in the two
biblical teaching about the "spirit" world's effect on our world and
Spaceland's effect on Flatland might for some people be enough
evidence. They might think that the similarity of the supernatural to
higher dimensions thought up 2,000 years later is
evidence. That's how we got onto cosmology –
a science that takes higher dimensions seriously and spends $billions
In his television
production The Elegant Universe (2003) Brian Greene
suggested the possibility of life in higher dimensions. He argued that
the scientific understanding of the Universe is based on two sets of
laws which don't agree but which can be reconciled in higher dimensions.
Randall similarly says:
we don't understand if there are only three dimensions
of space, and some of those questions seem to have answers if there are
extra dimensions. Also, no fundamental physical theory singles out
three dimensions of space. The theory of gravity allows any number… you
could have an infinite extra dimension if space-time is warped… even
more dramatic [is] that we could live in a pocket of three dimensions
in a higher-dimensional universe. (Discover, July
2006 pp 8-9)
One objective for the
Collider recently switched on in
Europe is to search for extra dimensions! (Chalmers 2008) Straughen and
Williams, however, declare the case closed claiming, "No evidence; not
of physics, every time we've looked beyond the scales
and energies we are familiar with, we've found things that we wouldn't
have thought were there. It's hubris to think that the way we see
things is all there is…there's stuff we don't understand if there are
only three dimensions of space.
One recent theory
postulates six dimensions including two of time: "the
ordinary time we experience is just a shadow of a six-dimensional
reality we cannot touch." (Chown 2007)
might they contain intelligent life?
Fox (2007) writes:
says aliens have to be based on carbon and
water? The search for ET just got a whole lot weirder."
familiar with without anything more may
harbour life-forms beyond imagining! If scientists speculate on alien
intelligence existing in 3-D, then what's possible in 4-D?
It makes sense to
anticipate more-complex life in more-complex
environments! Bacteria cultured on a petri dish – not truly
2-dimensional but near enough to illustrate this point – cannot produce
technology like humans in 3-D. Just as the 3-D Universe is infinitely
bigger than a 2-D slice of it, so 4-D or 5-D could be infinitely bigger
again. If so, then humans may be as inferior to whatever exists in 4-D
as bacteria on a petri dish are to us.
What we have so
evidence for higher dimensions and higher
dimensional life. Straughen's "Still no evidence" (#124) is "hubris".
But there was even more:
Straughen wants to
as "evidence" only what's accessible to our
senses. But evidence not extrapolated into the future or into other
places is useless. Is it safe, for example, to step in front of a
speeding train? Past instances of people doing that resulted in death.
But unless we extrapolate this observation into the future we have no
reason to avoid speeding trains and would step in front of one, fearing
Once we identify a
e.g that humans hit by speeding trains die,
we have "substantiated" evidence for what to expect next time. We have
"verifiable empirical evidence."
"induction" is when we extrapolate or extend a
trend and base belief or decisions on the extension. The person who
denies evidence from past experience, who reasons "anti-inductively" –
and claims, for example, that the next speeding train is harmless – is
irrational and if consistent in his irrationality will quickly perish.
useless without induction. The observation that
gravity attracts and makes objects fall is useful only if generalized
to objects we don't presently see. When scientists send spacecraft to
other planets they assume that the physical laws relied on in launching
the spacecraft will continue to operate.
and resumes. Employers take resumes as "substantiated" evidence of
future performance even though resumes
summarise the past and the future is unobserved.
is part of science is important to assessing
the credibility of the story of Mary and the angel Gabriel. The
empirical evidence that we extrapolate in this instance is the
established accuracy of the Bible.
have been confirmed in almost 20 scientific
disciplines. Sometimes the entire world rejected the Bible and the
Bible turned out correct. For example, I realized from the Bible in the
1970s that asteroids/comets are a threat to Earth – and the world of
science now agrees.
Hundreds of Bible
statements proved accurate is empirical evidence of
the Bible being reliable. Extrapolating this finding to further, as yet
unproved, biblical claims allows us to anticipate that they're correct
The Nativity story
a portion of the Bible but also has some
scientific accuracies plus an amazing prediction. (#121) I asked
Straughen to duplicate the prediction. He needs to pick two obscure
individuals alive now, and predict correctly that they'll be the most
mentioned people of the next 2,000 years. Anyone or anything with
insight like that deserves serious attention. Straughen refused the
challenge and relies on his refrain, "Still no evidence".
My fourth argument
supernatural is that no human being is
completely correct in his beliefs but nonsense permeates every life.
Somebody called it a "maggot in every human brain". The Bible too makes
this observation and attributes it to demonic powers.
similarly, found that Flatlanders would be
helpless against malicious Spacelanders with power to cause sickness,
simulate physical law, and unhinge minds. The only protection would be
if friendly Spacelanders restrained the nasty ones.
evolution for people's bad decisions – "humanity
evolved from animality".
In response I note:
This argument [that humans
are misled and "Incompetent"] by itself
indecisive but gains power by being balanced
against the others.
- There's no proof of
genetic continuity between
modern humans and "apemen";
- To claim that
selection adapted humans to
the environment but prevents everyone from choosing correct beliefs
although correct beliefs would enhance adaptation – appears
- Humans can't
their inability to
distinguish right from wrong, despite centuries of scientific progress;
- Countless people
expressed puzzlement over
their stupid decisions, even blaming unseen forces, and to dismiss such
testimony amounts to claiming to know their minds better than they do.
Not mentioned in
present debate, but mentioned previously, as
evidence for demonic activity, is the "paranormal" including exorcism.
Over 95% of paranormal claims are explainable, but that still leaves
the origin of some phenomena seemingly outside our 3-D Universe.
Straughen says the
was not written by "dispassionate historians".
However, the inductive trend of more in the Bible being proved correct
as time passes includes history. In #124 I discussed a major military
empire that historians ignored for 2000 years but which the Bible
mentioned! "Dispassion" failed, the Bible didn't!
"supernatural…entities inhabit a transcendental … world
[but] the dimensions physicists refer to are part of the natural
world…" Actually no: We distinguish natural from supernatural because
the latter cannot be empirically identified. If that changes, then the
distinction vanishes and the supernatural becomes natural.
virgin birth. "Isaiah's Virgin" was
discussed in #92-94. Straughen should ponder the difficulty of
predicting something considered impossible (such as a virgin birth) and
getting people centuries later to proclaim a fake fulfilment –
especially if the proclamation gets them killed!
Time fails me to
additional topics relevant to our debate such
On Being Sure Of What Is Impossible (The Heythrop
Journal, July 1977.
much can we ever know about the Universe? (New
Scientist, 5 April, 2003)
say never – the outer limits of what is
possible (New Scientist, 5 April, 2008)
#121 was quite clear but Straughen and
Williams muddied it with hubris and fulmination.
of evidence suffices to convict an accused
person. Video footage, motive, confession, forensics, and eye-witnesses
may individually be inadequate. But together they establish guilt
"beyond reasonable doubt". My case for the supernatural is likewise
cumulative and each argument is a probability that future science may
support or weaken.
Don't forget that
scientific evidence against racism was incomplete 60
years ago, for Cush as an empire 40 years ago, for asteroid impacts 30
years ago, for snakes hearing the snake-charmer's music 25 years ago,
for humans and Neanderthals as co-existing separate species 14 years
ago – and the Bible is right in all of these.
believe the Bible when there's proof." But
when they get proof they deny that evidence is evidence or that
inductive reasoning is empirical. Why? One reason is emotional – the
Bible says, "The heart is devious above all else."
Another reason is
as Flatlanders are helpless against
Spacelanders, so humans (according to the Bible) are powerless against
supernatural entities who distort their thinking and who accept the
distortion as worship. The Bible puts it, "What pagans sacrifice they
sacrifice to demons."
need friendly Spacelanders to restrain nasty
Spacelanders, so humans need friendly supernatural help to counteract
malicious supernatural entities. Humans need to swap their hubris for
humility and pray.
Chalmers, M. New
30 August, 2008.
Chown, M. New
Dick, S.J. New
31 May, 2008.
Fox, D. New
Kaku, M. 2005
Randall, L. 2005
Passages: Unravelling the Mysteries of the
Universe's Hidden Dimensions, Penguin.
WHEN 'EVIDENCE' IS NOT EVIDENCE
John H Williams
The Mary and
is an example of how history has been spun to
meet the requirements of those who wish people to believe things which
are literally untrue.
reasonably ask for substantiated evidence, that
which is produced by believers is often a denatured version of it.
Those who do so often display a marked lack of disinterested
objectivity, are over-invested in promulgating the myths as real (some
may earn their living by doing so, and thus have good reason to
maintain the status quo). They have been known to label people like me
as "close-minded, hard core materialist atheists", when all we do is
ask the kinds of questions a good defence counsel would ask in a court
It's not enough
detective finds a likely crime suspect: he or
she has to assemble sufficient evidence that will stand up in court,
and often the defence does a good job, dismissing the circumstantial,
giving the innocent and even the guilty a good chance of not being
As the writer who
the Mary/Gabriel theme in #119, I'm curious
about what actually happened, and suggested that she had been
impregnated by someone, possibly a Roman centurion from what is now
Lebanon (though it might have been someone else), and was taken care of
by Joseph, who fathered all of Yesu'a's four half-brothers and two
half-sisters. (To maintain the illusion of sinless purity, Mary has
been presented as having come from an immaculate conception (her mum
and dad eventually becoming Saints Anne and Joachim), remaining a
virgin while having at least six children, then going to Heaven without
Some, like Bishop
Spong, view Mary's parents as "fictionalized
composites" (Jesus For The Non-Religious), and believes that the
"virgin birth narrative, if literalised and treated as biology, becomes
nonsensical. It would violate everything we know about biology,
genetics and reproduction." (Born Of A Woman).
I'm not invested
Yesu'a ben Panthera story, nor was I in
presenting Barbara Thiering's pesher theory, and offered it for comment
and debate. I find it a useful and 'therapeutic' alternative to the
supernatural version, about which every Christian child is conditioned.
Many senior churchmen have given up on the Virgin Birth, one of the two
planks that Paul said were the very foundation of Christianity; but,
well, 'we'd better hang on to the Resurrection (for which, apparently,
there's better evidence (?): if we don't, it'll be much harder to sell
eternal life in the sky, saints, sin, the god known as God and his
I'm not a prig,
acknowledge if I've got it wrong: my aim is to
stir the pot of literalism, present an alternative history,
de-mythologise, send up supernatural clap-trap, and ask for evidence
which is not circumstantial, dominantly anecdotal or the equivalent of
Children grow up,
start thinking for themselves, realising the
porkies told to them by their parents and often their teachers, if they
went to a non-government Christian school, and, having escaped the
conditioning, determine never to con their children-to-be.
The 1872 Mary
'phantom-ship' mystery has long intrigued the
world. In the court case that followed, the prosecuting lawyer was
determined to prove that the sailors who found the ship had killed all
eleven people on board so they could claim a percentage of the valuable
cargo as a prize! Only one person was invested in that story, primarily
because there was no substantial evidence to support it! (ABC-TV
Using all the
evidence, then performing experiments,
investigators have shown that the ship's cargo of ethanol stored below
had created a flash ignition/explosion which had blown out deck hatches
with a distinctive blue-tinged 'flame', frightening the crew, who
assumed a disastrous fire. The captain, who had with him his wife and
child, immediately evacuated all to the long boat, which was attached
to and towed by the M. Celeste by rope, with the intention of
re-boarding when safe to do so. Big mistake: the rope snapped, the M
Celeste, fire-less, was still in full sail, and then a storm occurred
leaving those eleven at the mercy of the Atlantic.
A more recent case
empty yacht found off the N Queensland
coast, baffling police for a while. Apparently, there were three crew,
including brothers, one of whom was fishing and who fell overboard. The
other brother jumped in to help, and the third person went to the side
and was leaning over to help when there was a wind change and the boom
flipped around, knocking him into the briney. All would have been fine
if they'd had the yacht's ladder in the water, but they hadn't and
couldn't get onboard, so they drowned and/or were eaten by sharks.
may half-fill the information gap, but
unless there's a credulous pre-scientific audience, they take one
nowhere. I refer to Mr A's 'A Meeting That Shaped History'
response to an article of mine in #119, and 'Here is The Evidence'
(#123), a response to Kirk Straughan's critique in #122.
Evidence 1 (in
Mr A repeated an
in his first article, re "accurate,
history, confirmed astronomy…", quoting himself, believing that he'd
established those claims (meaning that he's had articles on them
published in the Investigator) to his own satisfaction. Some
"It's as if the
writers read Ed Abbott's book, Flatland (1884)!"
He doesn't say which Bible writers (let's assume he means all of them,
whoever they were, as more than a few books were written
pseudonymously), but they would have apparently loved Abbott's
Flatlanders and Spacelanders, it being a sound basis for ancient
beliefs about the influence of demons on humans. And this is to be
regarded as evidence?
searching for the Theory of Everything (TOE),
and Mr A told us that some of them "require the hypothesis of higher
dimensions to…describe how the Universe works", thus giving the
impression that modern astro-physics has something in common with those
seeking to explain demons and angels. This is drawing the longest of
long bows (a Welsh, rather than an English invention), but, no matter,
it's ticked off as 'evidence'. My descendants may perhaps be around
when that extra dimension is revealed, but I very much doubt it.
Mr A re-hashes his
much-used and unsubstantiated mantra about
humanity's many failings, which is beyond ridicule. In a previous
article of mine, I referred to 'China', the Song (Sung) Dynasty, as
having 101 million people in the year 1000 AD, out of a world
population of 310 million. At that time they followed a sort of
Confucianism combined with Buddhism, which one can reasonably associate
with the advanced state of their culture vis-à-vis Christian
Europe. But Mr A implies that there wasn't much hope for them and their
ancestors, a bit unfair, as they had their own non-theistic beliefs,
and had no inkling that a human who was also a god had (temporarily)
died for their sins. One wonders how that person's 'dad' might have
felt about the abject ignorance of the vast majority of humanity 'he'
I struggle to
A's analogy of someone damaging a drawing
as akin to a "malevolent Spacelander who, unseen (and like all gods,
not there), could inflict physical damage and even unhinge … minds."
I may have
A's beliefs, and if I have it's not all my
fault, as his speculative sophistry is so well developed that it's
really hard to know what he does believe. Does he really believe that
"all humanity is deceived by the Devil and his angels?" He writes "the
Bible teaches" (a phrase I've repeatedly objected to) before that
quote, and it's my understanding that Mr A believes the Bible to be
inerrant, leading one to believe that he also believes in a Devil,
angels and demons. He claims (#123) that I've misrepresented him, in
asking for evidence of demons, so perhaps he doesn't? I'm confused, so
all Mr A need do is tell us, leaving out whatever "the Bible teaches",
in language anyone can grasp, whether he does or does not believe that
demons exist or have existed.
He plucks (from
figure of "60 billion or more" (more like 112
billion, including current Earthlings if he's referring to all those
who've existed) and repeats his mantra of skeptics needing to offer
only one person who knew "right from wrong" etc, and not being able to
"find one!" From his writings I'd nominate Mr A, but, assuming he'd
decline, I nominated me (#122), offering my email address, but, as I
haven't received the much-anticipated email, one can assume this line
of 'argument' is yet another delusional cul-de-sac.
for offering W M Dixon's 1938 quote: "The
delusions from which men (sic) suffer are beyond computation and the
eye … blenches (to shy away, quail, from OE blencan to deceive) at the
superstitions, cults and rituals which contain for our intelligences no
grain of sanity, and seem an outrage upon all reason." I couldn't agree
Generously, Mr A
that his version of Mary/Gabriel was "inductive, therefore not 100%
conclusive": I'll be a little less
generous and assess it at 0%. Kirk Straughan in #123 p 24-28 ('Science
and Antithesis') expressed it succinctly, using 13 dot points: his last
one refers to "Occam's Razor – the least speculative theory that best
fits the known facts is the one most likely to be true." (my use of
bold). Many of Straughan's 12 other points are equally and terminally
damaging to Mr A's 'argument', but this one is very much the nub of my
I conclude with
remarks about Mr A's 'Investigated and
Almost Indisputable' in #123:
I maintain the
there's a fundamental difference between
the existence of species and the existence of demons. I have evidence
for the former, and simply asked for substantiated evidence of the
latter. It seems as if that won't be forthcoming.
I repeat, if an
being doesn't actually exist, then its
evolution is irrelevant, while it's clear that its 'origin' derives
from humanoids who thought it up. Here's a small sample: a talking
snake, perhaps requiring a talking mongoose, the Nullarbor Nymph, Noah
and Her-In-Ark (the 'mother' of all humans has no name!), fairies,
saints, and every god and goddess.
Mr A included my
list, and. I ask him not to do so again, as
I dislike it being used in a 'list of things' as part of a
specious 'argument': I request that he find more appropriate words for
his pointless lists in future.
Mr A twice
referred to my
intelligence. My IQ, whatever it be, has NO
relevance to my argument.
Mr A refers to my
"speciality, geology", which also has no direct
relevance to our debate. I last studied it 45 years ago, and have other
areas of more current expertise. Mr A may believe that geologising is a
"simple" business, but it's a little more than cracking open rocks,
collecting fossils and hunting for minerals. Yes, they may hypothesise
(acceptable 'speculation' in context with their research), but any
hypothesis (see my writing on continental drift and plate tectonics,
Alfred Wegener and Arthur Holmes) done by scientists rests ultimately
on the validity of the available evidence, which may or may not confirm
a new idea or theory.
scientific evidence is utterly different to
the speculation and assertions offered as 'evidence' by Mr A, which
are, as Straughen so aptly described (#122), "pseudo-scientific
constructions designed to lend a veneer of credibility to the
supernatural stories of a pre-scientific age".
articles on Mary and Joseph published over the
past year. Unfortunately they became incomprehensible with
philosophical concepts like "Flatlanders" and "Spacelanders". As a
person with very basic knowledge of philosophy this is beyond me and
seems extraneous to the argument. There is no nexus between philosophy
and a dodgy theological concept.
Perhaps the Talmud
in its version of the birth of Jesus
(involving a prostitute and a Roman soldier) but most discerning
Christians are now more interested in the Christ of Faith as compared
to the Christ of history. In effect, to a thinking Christian the Virgin
Birth is irrelevant as to a thinking Jew the existence of Moses is
irrelevant. Faith should transcend petty religious dogma.
also the article Gravity and the Supernatural
1 The Home Page
Bible" contents page
heading "Supernatural and Gravity".
Many other Bible
debates on this website: