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Billy Graham answers his email

Posted in Pharyngula by Rodibidably on March 9, 2009

I would not bother to post something from Pharyngula because I assume that anybody who comes here is also reading PZ’s blog, but this one line is just TOO priceless to pass up.

(bolding is mine)

[Originally posted at: Pharyngula]

Billy Graham has a column in which he answers letters — he’s a kind of evangelical agony aunt, I guess. A recent letter will make you laugh.

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Why do people get involved in cults? My cousin has gotten involved in one, and no matter what we say to him, he refuses to listen. He says we are the ones who are in the dark, and he alone in our family has found the truth. — S. McM.

That’s a real problem, and I’m sure we all know someone who has gone off the deep end with some weird belief. That’s not the funny part; the good bit is Graham’s oblivious reply.

DEAR S. McM: One characteristic of cults is that they strongly believe they alone are right in their beliefs and everyone else is wrong. Thus they reject the central truths of the Bible that Christians have held in common for almost 2,000 years and substitute their own beliefs for the clear teaching of Scripture.

Shorter Billy Graham: The difference between their cult and mine is that they think they have the absolute truth, when I know that I do.

[Originally posted at: Pharyngula]

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19 Responses

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  1. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 9, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    If the leader of some cult is raised from the dead and then assends to the right hand of the father observed by hundreds of witnesses then give me a call.
    Until then I am sticking with Jesus.

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 9, 2009 at 8:45 PM

      And can you give me one non-discredited source outside of the bible to confirm ANY aspect of jesus’ life?

      In return, if you’d like, I’ll provide you details of jesus’ life that predate jesus himself (things like virgin birth, ascension, son of god, etc)…

      As with most christians, you’re woefully ignorant of the history of your own religious myths…

    • Skepdude said, on March 9, 2009 at 8:55 PM

      Ever heard of Mithra, Melvin?

  2. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 14, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Discredited by whom? And, yes I have heard of Mithra but I KNOW Jesus Christ personally; as do millions of others.

    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 14, 2009 at 2:55 PM

      Discredited by historical evidence…
      The most famous example of this is the accounts of Josephus, which have been shown to have been later forgeries, and not his original work.

      Even the catholic church now acnowledges that the accounts of jesus by Josephus are not reliable.

    • Rodibidably said, on March 14, 2009 at 4:08 PM

      When you say you KNOW jebus, I’m curious if you could explain this to me. Do you have conversations with him? Can other people in the room with you at the time of these conversations hear both ends of the conversation? Have you seen him? Can other people in the same room with you at the time see him as well? Have you physicallhy touched him? Can other people in the same room with you at the time physically touch him as well?

      And most importantly:
      If I described a relationship I have in my life, in EXACTLY the same terms as you describe your relationship with jebus; except that instead of jebus, I said Napolean, or Elvis Presley, or an alien life form, etc… would you believe that I need psychiatric help, and if not, please explain why not?

      Because from where I stand, you’re either lying or delusional and need to be locked up in a mental health facility for your safety and the safety of society at large.

  3. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 14, 2009 at 10:48 PM

    I have conversations with Jesus yes. Most often these conversations are private. There are times when other people in the room receive the same information (from both ends). The conversations have never been audible. I have not yet heard, with my ears, Jesus speak nor have I seen His form with my eyes. I have not touched Him with my skin.
    The conversations I have with Jesus are spiritual not physical. They are supernatural encounters with the Lord. You may dismiss this relationship; that is your choice to do or not. It appears that you relay exclusively on your physical senses, easily fooled as they are, to acquire all your information. This is unfortunate for you. I have a spirit. I have been born again of the Holy Spirit.
    I am skeptical that there even exists such a thing as psychiatric “help”. Any need of yours for such opinions of men is at most temporal. If you were to claim to have contact with the spirit of Elvis Presley then I would encourage you to read Isaiah chapter 8 and 1 Samuel chapter 28.
    I am most certainly not mad. The things of which I speak of were not and are not done in corners. There has existed in times past and there does exist here and now a great cloud of witnesses to the truths of which I speak. If these witnesses are said to be discredited, these claims are not based on historical or scientific evidence. Rather, the supposed discredit is based on interpretation of evidence, and so, in no way is it more reliable.
    As for the danger to others or myself that I may pose, I am much less dangerous now than I was before I came to Christ Jesus. Just ask my wife.
    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

    • Skepdude said, on March 15, 2009 at 9:53 AM

      Ok, so you are fantasizing about Jesus, that’s all I wanted to hear. Thanks for being so honest as to accept that even you know it’s all in your head.

    • Rodibidably said, on March 15, 2009 at 5:07 PM

      You have never heard jebus’ voice. You have never seen jebus. You have never touched jebus.

      How do you know it’s jebus?

      Isn’t it possible that it could be a sign a mental illness?
      Isn’t it possible that if satan exists (which is not true, but in your fantasy world you think he does, so I’ll go with that for this example) that these conversations in your head are the work of satan?
      Isn’t it possible that it could be some other god that is not jebus (such as Ra, Thor, Vishnu, etc)?

      If none of those are possible, please exaplin why those are not equally plausable to the idea that you’re having “private conversations” with jebus.

      You say these conversations are “spiritual not physical”, could you please explain this to me a bit further. Do you ask questions and recieve answers? Is it in any way similar to a typical conversation that I might have with a co-worker, family member, friend, etc…?

      As somebody who has never experienced this type of delusion, I’m curious how it works.

      I am also curious about the statement:

      I am skeptical that there even exists such a thing as psychiatric “help”.

      Do you not believe that some people have chemical imbalances or physical issues with their brain that cause what we think of broadly as “mental illness”?
      Do you not believe that in some cases these people can recieve benefit from medicines, and therapy?

      Your comment strikes me as the type of comment one might expect from L Ron Hubbard or Tom Cruise ,and I’m curious what basis you have to make such a claim that so obviously contradicts all the available evidence.

  4. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 17, 2009 at 8:00 PM

    Rodibidably,

    These are all valid and interesting questions. I can understand completely your reluctance to accept my accounts. Think for a moment what it must be like for a blind (from birth) person. He sits and listens to what the seeing person claims about his vision and can hardly believe his ears.

    There exists a remote possibility that I have some sort of mental illness. I would assert that it is equally possible you are mentally ill. Truth be told, we both probably touched to some extent. However, my experiences with Jesus are more solidly real than any other experiences I have ever had. Further, I have staked everything that I am and everything that I know on this one relationship. All my eggs are in one basket.

    What are these spiritual conversations like? I will give you an example of one of the most prevalent types. A while back I was in charge of a prayer group at the high school where I teach. We met every Tuesday and Thursday morning to pray in the chapel. Prayer in general is conversation but I realize that the general experience of prayer would not satisfy your definition of conversation. So, I will not go down that path here.

    On one particular Tuesday I had a meeting scheduled with the teacher of one of my own middle school aged children later in the day. I was hot about the way this teacher was treating my daughter (totally unfair in my eyes) and I intended to let that teacher have it! I had the meeting well planned out in my mind. I would most certainly put her in her place and all in front of her principle. I couldn’t wait for the meeting.

    I am ashamed to say I was regularly ill prepared for the prayer sessions. This Tuesday morning was one of those regular times I had nothing prepared. I was instead offering the reading of Scripture verses. No theme in mind; just what ever came next in the Word. Now I had left off at the previous meeting in Colossians chapter 3. So, that is where I picked up. Now I won’t include the whole reading here (you can read it on your own if you like) but when I got to verse 13 “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also [must do]”; I lost it. I was crying uncontrollably. This happens a lot in my relationship with Jesus. When His Holy Spirit convicts me of my sinful nature, I fall to my knees weeping and then He lifts me up in my spirit and I leave the encounter stronger than before.

    You are correct to say there are other spirits that would have a word with me. They do try often. That is why I test what the spirits say compared to the Word of God. What the spirit says will always line up with the Word if the spirit in question is of God. You will say the above accont is mere coincidence. Not at all, as it happens with too regular of occurrence for that lame explanation to be accurate.

    Don’t get me wrong. Doctors and medicines are very valuable tools for the maintenance of the mind and body. I am not a doctor, so my skepticism may be invalid. However, I fear that much of the medicines only mask what is truly going on. We should all be on our toes in this regard.

    I hope the above will shine some light on where I am coming from.

    In the love of Christ,

    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 17, 2009 at 8:25 PM

      You failed to explain HOW you know it’s jebus, and not zeus, l ron hubbard, ra, mithra, vishnu, satan, mental illness, etc…

      Even if what you say is correct, and you’re not mentally ill (which in all honesty, is my guess), what tells you that it’s jebus you’re talking to, as opposed to any of countless other gods that mankind has worshipped throughout history?

  5. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 20, 2009 at 2:08 PM

    The consistency of the message and the familiarity of the signal are what tell me that it is Jesus and not some other god.
    Suppose we have a person who is in military intelligence and he copies Morse code. Suppose he is charged with listening in on a specific target. Suppose he has years of experience listening to this target. Suppose the target changes frequencies. Could he find the target? The answer is yes. He could find the target of interest who is broadcasting on one of a thousand different frequencies and is one of a hundred different entities each broadcasting on one of the frequencies. Why? It is because of the consistency of the targets message and his familiarity with the target. He knows the target. You or I could not do it because we do not know the target. The dit’s and da’s would all sound the same to us, but, not to him.
    In the love of Christ,
    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 20, 2009 at 3:17 PM

      But it’s possible it’s NEVER been jebus.

      If it’s ALWAYS been some other god in your delusions, I mean spiritual conversations, then it remaining consistant would not prove it’s jebus as opposed to zeus or the flying spaghetti monster or ra, etc…

      So HOW do you know it’s jebus?

      In regards to YOUR analogy:
      Let’s say this military guy has thought he was listening to the enemy, but he’s ALWAYS been listening to some neioghboring country instead
      How would he know, if the message remains consistant, that he is listening to somebody other than who he thinks he is?

      There is nothing you’ve said that shows you’ve spoken to anybody.
      There is nothnig you’ve said that shows (assuming you are actually talking to someobdy) that the person (err diety) you’ve spoken with is jebus.

      So tell me

      HOW DO YOU KNOW IT’S JEBUS?
      How can you exclude mental illness?
      How can you exclude all other gods than jebus?
      How can you exclude delusion based on a strong desire to connect to something “higher”?

  6. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 21, 2009 at 12:01 PM

    “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” [Cool Hand Luke; Captain]
    You and I “know” things in different ways. The way I know it is Jesus is the same way that I know it is my wife when I talk to her via e-mail. I have come to know her so well over the past 25 years that I can quickly verify that it is her sending the message. Could it be that she has always been some alien from another planet and not truly a girl born and raised in Iowa? I suppose so. But, I have staked much on the fact that she is who she says she is.
    I have staked everything on the fact that the Spirit I am in relationship with – Jesus – is who He claims to be. If He is not, then I am to be most pitied. So, I exclude mental illness, other gods, and personal delusion a priori. When Jesus answered my prayer and saved me from the law of sin and death everything changed. The bedrock of my existence is now the intercession, by invitation, of Christ in my life. I build everything on this foundation.
    On what foundation do you build?
    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 21, 2009 at 12:14 PM

      So to answer my question:
      How can you exclude delusion based on a strong desire to connect to something “higher”?

      You reply:

      I have staked everything on the fact that the Spirit I am in relationship with – Jesus – is who He claims to be.

      So, I exclude mental illness, other gods, and personal delusion a priori.

      The bedrock of my existence is now the intercession, by invitation, of Christ in my life. I build everything on this foundation.

      I have to say, at least you are honest. You’re completely delusional, but you are honest…

      As for:

      On what foundation do you build?

      I’ve seen lives that are built on a foundation of religious belief cause those people to bomb abortion clinics, fly planes into buildings, molest children, and much much more.

      My life is built on my friends, my family and my goals for my life. My life is built around the idea that those I care about mean everything to me. And if I am lucky, then after I am dead and gone, perhaps I will have made a positive impact on the lives of those those around me.

  7. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 21, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    Rod,
    I believe you are being honest as well. It is true that there are people, while professing to be building on the foundation of Christ, perform ghastly deeds. I can only say that their deeds and, more importantly, their justifications do not match the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I conclude, based on this contradiction, they are building on a different gospel.

    I can’t accuse you of being delusional. I can say that you are self centered. Please do not take this last statement as an attack. It is an observation; much like yours is that I am delusional. Take a look at your words for your foundation: {my life, my friends, my family, my goals, my life, I care, to me}. You have decided everything. You are judge, jury, prosecutor, and advocate. The one bright light is your recognition that you are incapable, in your own strength, to achieve the goal you have decided is best for your life: Make a positive impact on the lives of those around you. You concede that you can’t do this without “luck”.

    May I ask you? What is “luck”? And, how does one get it?

    -Mel

    PS – You will concede, I am sure, that plenty of people with the same self centered foundation and positive goal as yours have performed equally ghastly deeds as those you have sighted for those with “religious beliefs”.

  8. Rodibidably said, on March 21, 2009 at 7:32 PM

    I conclude, based on this contradiction, they are building on a different gospel.

    This is known as the “No True Scotsman” Logical Fallacy.

    I can say that you are self centered.

    Personally I would say that self-centered would be if things were about me, not my loved ones.
    I would be much happier if the people I care about have good lives than if I do myself. And my goal in life is to do what I can do help them have good lives.

    Perhaps that is self centered. I’m not sure most people would agree though.

    May I ask you? What is “luck”? And, how does one get it?

    Richard Wiseman has a GREAT book on the subject, called “The Luck Factor”.
    But essentially it boils down to some things are 100% out of our control. If those things are generally “positive” it would be concidered “lucky”.
    Also people are able in some cases to “make their own luck” through many ways.
    Wiseman does a GREAT job explaining this is detail in his book.

    You will concede, I am sure, that plenty of people with the same self centered foundation and positive goal as yours have performed equally ghastly deeds as those you have sighted for those with “religious beliefs”.

    Again, we get back to your defintion of “self centered” not being typical of what society would mean by that term.

    But yes, atheists can perform “evil” deeds, even people who have the same goals as me can perform “evil” deeds.
    However I think if your primary goal is to help others, more often than not, you will do what is right.
    If your primary goal is to do “god’s will” I think it allows a justification for virtually anything (as history has shown).

  9. Melvin_H_Fox said, on March 22, 2009 at 8:01 PM

    You posit some interesting justifications for setting yourself up as the god of your own little universe. Further, you have concluded that you are better at being god than is the God of the Bible. I must say, you are bold in these regards. Let me ask you: What happens, historically, when we have one group looking out for the ones they love and another group looking out for the ones they love? What happens when there exists a competition for resources between the two groups? The survival of the fittest, is that correct? If not then there is an army of college professors lying to their students.

    Every year in my math classes we do an activity I call Black-Red. In the activity we break the class into six small groups. These small groups are then paired so we have three pairs of two small groups. There are nine rounds in the activity. In each round each of the six small groups show the proctor one card (Black or Red). If both groups in a pair show black, then both of those groups gain some points. If both of the paired groups show red, then both of those groups lose some points. If one shows red and one shows black, then the one that showed red gains a lot of points and the one that showed black loses a lot of points. As the rounds progress the payoffs increase exponentially. There are two objectives for the activity: 1) Get as many points as you can and 2) Don’t hurt anyone.

    Can you guess what typically happens?

    -Mel

    • Rodibidably said, on March 22, 2009 at 9:09 PM

      The god of the bible killed 2,270,365 people (not including the victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc because no specific numbers were given)

      I have killed 0 people

      I’ll take my morality of that of the bible ANY FUCKING DAY…

      HOWEVER, unlike your assertion, I do not in any possible way consider myself to be the god of my own little universe. IF you would like to create a straw man to fight, I suggestg going to a farm, because I am not going to play your ignorant games in that respect.
      If you have issues with what I say, I’ll defende my words.
      I will not however defend things I never claimed and do not believe.

      The survival of the fittest, is that correct? If not then there is an army of college professors lying to their students.

      YOu REALLY have on understanding of evolution. I’d suggest checking http://www.talkorigins.org/ before you attempt to discuss this topic further, because you are showing a complete misunderstanding of the topic.


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