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My Religious Conversation with Joey

There's a bit of a story here. Back in April 1999, I posted onto Aint-it-Cool-News movie website to a thread about Kevin Smith's then unreleased movie "Dogma." Later that day I received an unsolicited message from particularly persistent if not (in my opinion) particularly intelligent Christian fundamentalist. We went back and forth for about a week, then he cut if off.

I thought the conversation was interesting enough that I decided to post it online, with a couple of snide comments on myself. Our messages are unedited, so readers can come to their own decision in respect to who won the argument (though I think I came out quite on top). And that would be it, if not for a message I got at the beginning of May. Apparently, this fundie had found my website, probably through a web search for his own name, and he came demanding that I take it down.

At first, I took it down. I was nervous about having my website taken down before I could back up the information on it. But after I was a little bit better informed about Internet law, I was told that, as his messages to me were unsolicited, they basically become my property and I can pretty much do anything I want with them.

Out of politeness to "Joey," I will not be listing his last name so he is not affected adversely other than becoming object of private ridicule. In the interest of completeness, his newest emails and my responses have been added as well.

My messages are in a MAROON while his are in BLUE, and editorial side comments from me later on are in BOLDED BLACK.

From: "JOEY"
To: <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 03:57:49 -0700

The Bible does say where God comes from: He was always. The point of there needing to be a begining is a bad one because why DOES THERE HAVE TO BE A BEGINING? That is our simple human minds. If there was a big bang were did the matter come from Second the stars would spin in the same orbit if it was a random explosion they don't obviously you don't study Phisics Entrappy states that all things go from order to chaos not the reverse that the big bang states and finally the man who created the big bang theory was religious and trying to prove the bible correct

From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 13:27:15 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

Why would the stars spin in the same orbit if there was an explosion? If there was an explosion, a Big Bang, then all matter would be flying out out from a central location; the red shift proves that this is in fact happening (all stars are moving away from each other. I have, in fact, studied Physics, and I did pretty damn well at it. The layamn's definition of entropy states that, in a closed system over time, energy goes from an ordered to chaotic. This is not the real definition of entropy. Real entropy is essentially equal to total work divided by a change in temperature.  Essentially speaking, there are no perfect engines, and there is always waste heat. It's related to chaos from order. But this is not necessarily the case all the time. Energy under the proper circumstances can go from simple to the incredibly complex. Think of the human body. The human body starts out as a simple cell, and slowly increases it's energy from that single cell to the incredibly complex organization that an adult human body has.  Also, entropy states that there is waste heat from any production...it doesn't say that there is always chaos resulting. In the creation of the world according to natural laws (with the laws of theromodynamics prodviding the direction), there will be some energy lost as waste heat...but it doesn't mean that all energy will be lost as waste heat (this is also true if the universe was created by the divine...assuming He creates under his own rules).
     So what if the man who first proposed the Big Bang was religious and trying to prove the Bible correct? The answers you find do not rely on your personal beliefs, they rely on the data you find. Charles Darwin was also a religious man, as was Friedrich Nietzsche. Most times your answers come out different than you believe they would or should.
    The point of there needing to be a beginning is not an original point on my behalf.  It comes from one of the greatest Christian theologians, Thomas Aquinas (I recommend you read him some day, he's simply one of the most brilliant men ever to walk the earth). He argued about something called First Cause. In a nutshell, this says that there had to be something to start everything else. He calls this God. But if we need to postulate a God to have created this universe, then who or what created God? And if He didn't require a creator, then why did our universe? Let's bring out Occam's Razor. If we can propose an intelligent, omnipotent being as a "causeless cause", why can we not propose a much simpler, non-intelligent event as an alternate causeless cause? Both claims are equally credible, and the latter one has the advantage of not adding unnecessary complexity.
    Now, I don't know why there had to be a big bang.; The most compelling reason that I can think of is that the universe is eternal, going through an endless cycle of explosion, expansion, contraction, compression, and explosion. Now, it boggles our mind to think of the universe as eternal, but it could be likely...it's just as easy for me to think of the universe as eternal (which has a purpose), as it is for me to think of God as eternal (which seems superfluous to me).

Thanks for writing,
Chris "Stu" Stuart

From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 15:47:33 -0700"

    Lets just use Einstein as an example: If there is a God great if there isn't what do you lose

From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 17:50:34 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

What do I lose? Well, I lose all the time I've wasted in focusing on a life after mine, instead of focusing on this world. I waste a life focused on the future, focused on something outside of me, instead of focusing on me and the people I know and love.  That's what I lose. It's the Nietzschean denial of this world in favor of a hypothetical afterlife.
    And I don't think it's Einstein who said that...I've most commonly heard Pascal as being quoted for that...but I could be wrong.

Chris "Stu" Stuart

[Editor's Note (i.e. Stu): This is basically what's known as Pascal's Wager (no connection to Einstein, though it may benefit his argument to try to quote one of the great agnostics of our time), which says that, if you believe in God and he doesn't exist, you lose nothing, if you don't believe in God and He doesn't exist, you lose nothing either, and if you believe in God and he does exist, you have everything to gain...in fact, the only way to really lose is if you don't believe in God and He does actually exist. The point of this, is that you should believe in God because it's in your best interest to do so and you'll lose out and get screwed over if you don't. Not even taking into account what a diety would think of people who believed in Him just because, it's not really a compelling argument towards belief in the divine for me.]
From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu> Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 17:52:37 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

And we weren't talking about cost-benefits here, we were talking about the logic behind our arguments for belief...were you going to add anything to that, or just say "What can it hurt?" Besides, do you think God wants people to believe because it's the safest thing to do?

From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Subject: Re: -- No Subject --
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 18:52:35 -0700

You are wrong it was Einstein I being a Christian am not allowed to force my belief on you but I sugest you see Contact which uses the same argument. I can not understand the logic of disbelif whatsoever espicially since almost everything in the Bible is proven in history of happening in some way or another and the predictions of Isreal's decscendants returning to their country and the city of Tier being desroyed both came true

From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 21:00:03 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

I've seen Contact, I've read Contact, and the movie adaptation of Contact perverted the message of the book; they didn't want to offend anyone or seriously challenge anyone's religion...that's what Hollywood does. Carl Sagan, had he survived, would never had approved of that piss-poor ending.
    I just explained to you part of the logic of disbelief...which you might understand had you made an effort to read or respond to any of the questions which I asked you. I have to be honest that I haven't heard of the city of Tier being destroyed, I don't know what you're referring to, but that's not a deep prediction. If you look at world history, most every city has been destroyed at one time or another. I'll tell you what. I'll make a prediction that New York will be destroyed some time during the next two millenia. If it comes true, can I have a religion based on me. Israel's descendents returning to their homeland? That's not a difficult prediction either. The Jews have a lot of history with their homeland, the Holy Land, and of course they want to return there.; The fact that they did so does not prove the existence of God anymore than my parents going to visit or live in Scotland would.

    The logic of disbelief is pretty easy to understand. I look outside my window, and see a world where the only sign of God's existence is the people who believe in him...and that's not enough for me.
    Please, for your next messages, try using periods, sentences, and argument structure; people listen to you a helluva lot more when you argue coherently.

From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 1999 23:42:04 -0700

The Bible also predicted that Tier would have every stone thrown into the ocean. To avoid being killed by the country invading them the people through the stones into the sea in order to build a bridge. It happened in 1990 I belive. As for the Isreal comment Never in the history of mankind has a country been run out for a millenium only to return-mostly in the same year (1948). That would be like saying the Indians will control America again after the Yugoslavian conflict. Also
    The majority of the things the Bible mentions have been discovered by archieologists Noahs ark was discovered in 1990 Sodem was discovered three or four years ago along with a tablet that mentioned Gommorrah. Sevaral first hand accounts mention Jesus. One Hebrew account says he was a bastard son and was crucified for socercery
    A greek philosopher accounted the sun blackining in April of A.D. 33
    The old testement gave that date as the day messiah would die in the book of Danial. I have a friend who is an archiologist.

[And I have a friend who can spell archeologist, what's your point? Seriously though, if anyone knows what he's talking about about Tier, please tell me. I'm dying to understand what the hell he's trying to say.]
From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 01:50:23 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

Please give me scriptural citations and factual accounts of everything you've just sent me...the scripture on the death of the messiah, articles about proof of Noah's Ark, articles about Jesus (who I don't doubt existed...I never said that).  Then, once you've given me this stuff, then we can have a nice conversation...but arguments from on-high or statements that "they found this" don't work well with me...and arguments from the National Enquirer don't work either.

From: Chris Stuart <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 02:07:37 -0500 (Central Daylight Time)

The Jews are a unique group. Never before has a group been expelled from a country, gone through so much shit, and managed to survive as a distinct race. The American Indians are not a good example, because they have, for the most part, been assimilated into American culture. The Jews are fighting just as hard for their holy land as the Muslims and Arabs are. None of this is necessarily Biblical or necessarily shows the hand of God at work. Whip out Occam's Razor again, and God is just an unnecessary addendum to this argument. Occam's Razor gets rid of the extra things that aren't necessary for an explanation...and this is one of those cases.

[I'd also like to add further that a major reason for support of the Jews returning to the "Holy Land" is because some Christians believe that it'll fulfill prophesy and hasten Jesus's return. It's not some blind accidental fulfilling of prophesy, but conscious human action towards fulfilling it.]
From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 03:41:35 -0700

Yes but the Bible Predicts this happening throughout the begining of it!
    Occam's razor states that the most plausible explanation is most likely to be true but that is not always the case it is plausible that snce 90% of the people in this country are Christians( or claim to be) that 90% of the people discussing the argument on the board are Christians and that's hardly the case is it? I never read the Enquier but from when I used to it was mostly celebirty dirt.
    Refrences: KNBC did a show about noah's ark being discovered on the news some time ago.
It is common knowladge that at least 40 of the Bibles Kings were discovered.
Any arceology magazine will probably have something on Sodom (which by the way was charred when they discovered it).
I have heard the refrence to the greek philospher sevaral times including on a show called sheperds palace
The book of Daniel gives a prophecy of a messiah and an exact date (69 weeks from the book of Joshua's writingor 69 year weeks in the Jewish religion which lasted 7 years give me a day and i'll give you a better explanation of it).
The dead sea scrolls which are 4000 years old mention WORD FOR WORD what the Gospel says about the Crucifiction and give a date (A+E mysteries of the Bible).
In Revelation the Bible predicts the Euro dollar (ten nations shall have the same curency in Europe Greece became the tenth nation in 94 to accept the idea).
The Bible also mentions the tower of Babylon which was thought to be a myth for years but was in fact proven a true structure.
It also says in Genesis that life began in Africa which is what most scholars belive.
The LA times recentaly did an article on Mosses that stated many Jewish bones were found in Egypt receantly and that Mosses was proven to be an Egyptian name of Royalty.
As for Tier I need to find the scripture on it give me another day please
I can prove it was a real city though Check any Encyclopidia it was part of the Babylon Empire I belive.
Read Jesus was a Jew written by a Jew who converted to Christianity it mentions the Crucifiction and Jesus' mention by Jewish historians as a bastard child condemned for sorcerery.
So does it seem I am useing logic now?

From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 03:44:41 -0700

Also have you noticed that the English empire fell apart when they refused to help Isreal after ww2 but the U.S. who was responsible for Isreal returning home was lifted to great heights maybe a coincedence I don't think so.

From: "JOEY"
To: "Chris Stuart" <Chris.Stuart@valpo.edu>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 04:16:01 -0700

I did not say in the same Orbit I said the same Direction. The Big Bang theory (actually not a theory but a conjecture a Theory is something that is tested under expermintal conditions) State that the first matter was spinning as it exploded if it was spinning than all the planets and stars would spin in the direction of the first mass which they do not. Another refrence BTW the Bible mentions Dinosaurs it in fact mentions Behemoths which were great creatures who were destroyed by God and Dragons. If the Universe is eternal why can't God be? What is the pupose of the universe being Eternal?
What created the Big Bang theory since you aked what created God?
Fredrick Nietschze also had a VD which causes Insanity
The man who thought up The Big Bang is stilll A Christian and himself said he belives the Big Bang proves there is a God don't ask me how just read his book it may explain (I only read sections of it)
Who's to say that God is more complex than a Big Bang theory?
You apparantly are agnostic and not an atheist according to some of your statements.
One final question for you to ponder: why is it that men and women who have never met and never heard of the experience of others have reported the same thing when they are recesitated after being brain dead? None of this "that's what we want to see when we die" crap. We all wouldn't want the same experience would we? Considering many people I have heard this from were atheists before hand. I think they would prefer to see nothing. There are also acounts of people saying word for word what a person in the same room as they are said while they were clinicly Dead. I have heard of some that even spoke languages (even one case when it was Galic) when they had never heard them! One other thing: my Mother had a nde where she told me what I did while she was clinicaly dead I think this is extra ordinary (I was jumped the day she was under and she told me about it)

[Note: The "nde" that his mother went through was a "near death experience"...it took me over a week to figure that out...he brings them up later as well.]

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