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One or two things is not EVERYTHING


A year or so ago, one Tim O'Neill wrote a blog post critiquing my debate with Tyler Vela on the topic of "Has Christianity Historically Been in Conflict with Science?". You can read my account of that debate here: The new blog post—the one that is so critical of me—is called “Aron Ra gets everything wrong”, and it’s been gleefully shared wherever science-denying wanna-believers congregate. The author calls me out by name but only in the title, and even then he has my name in quotation marks. Otherwise he refuses to call me by my real name. Instead, he insists on calling me by an earlier name, and he admits that he does this just to show his disrespect. That, and he doesn’t understand why I changed my name. He guessed incorrectly and jumped to the wrongest possible conclusion at every opportunity, just like believers often do. Though he says he's not a believer.

I had never heard of this guy before, but it seems he is an atheist whose game is back-biting other atheists, especially focusing on anyone who dares doubt the historicity of Jesus. That puts me in his cross-hairs because I doubt whether there was ever one and only one actual living individual inspiring each and every legend that is now associated with the Christ character. For one, we know that a lot of Jesus' attributes were originally attributed to other gods, notably Dionysus, Prometheus and Hercules, among others, as well as other hero characters like Moses and John the Baptist. So there's almost nothing original there. Then there have been too many times, I've heard Christians claim the wrong guy, as if Jesus of Damneus or Jesus bin Ananias was their Messiah, when those were different people who didn't even live at the same time. Much of Jesus' alleged biography reads like a compilation of stories that were originally about other people, and the contradictions between those stories imply that too. My position is not like that of other "mythicists", though O'Neill doesn't know anything about that. Nor would he care.

He attacked others like Dr Richard Carrier at least a couple times, and he slammed David Fitzgerald’s book, “Nailed”, both with equally obvious contempt. Fitzgerald responded listing "Tons of Mistakes that Show Tim O’Neill Never Investigated Nailed at All" and Carrier replied with "More Asscrankery from Tim O'Neill". In like fashion, O'Neill's diatribe of hate against me was an unnecessarily vitriolic attempted character assassination, full of false assumptions and empty insults. But I don’t take it personally, as it seems he does that with everyone. Even those he has not targeted have complained about the intolerant "tone" of O'Neill's criticisms, not just of other people but also regarding his libel against me too. Clearly O'Neill doesn't know how to comport himself. His unquestioned (and erroneous) assumptions, hateful disdain and dripping venom are wholly inappropriate conduct, especially for the academic he purports to be.

Neil Godfrey said:
O’Neill has given many indications that he believes it is arrogance for a person outside the academy to question the scholarly “consensus position” on the historicity of Jesus. Accordingly he repeats the core claims of the academy and responds to any questioning of the assumptions and logic behind those claims with insult, vitriol, ridicule, etc. — The idea of questioning the consensus of academics is simply a sign of arrogance in his view. It’s a “tall poppy syndrome” thing — cut down anyone you think is getting above themselves. (But of course scientists and others in other disciplines are not so coy about mocking some of the nonsense that passes for serious scholarship among certain biblical scholars — the assumptions and question-begging are so obvious.
Ignoring all of that, and sticking to the more important issue, I could easily have gotten SOME things wrong. Everyone does. But it is not possible that I got EVERY thing wrong like he said. I thought it was usually just religious people who exaggerate and assert absolutes. That’s how religion was invented. But this guy does it too.

It’s a really long article, "a blistering 6,280-word excoriation of both mind and character", and I don’t need to know why some rando hater thinks I’m a poopy-head, so at first I didn’t bother to read it all. Instead I asked a few people who had already read it to sift through his virulence and find out whether there was ANYTHING I ACTUALLY SAID that my critic showed to be wrong. Because if there is, I’ll admit it immediately. Even my worst enemies should know that much about me by now.

My critic admitted up front that I got all the science right. Thus we already know his title is misleading, because I didn’t get EVERYTHING wrong. So I inquired to find out whether I got ANYTHING wrong. Initially, no one I asked could say. Maybe I give people too much credit, but I thought that just according to the title of his essay, I must have made several errors, or at least a few, but no. It turns out there were only two, and only one of them was relevant, the other having no bearing on my argument at all.

In the debate, I referred to the 15th century painter, Hieronymus Bosch as a monk. I had read something once upon a time a long time ago that described him as such; probably because he belonged to the Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, an arch-conservative religious group whose sworn members were principally clerics. The brotherhood had been founded a century earlier, and originally did limit membership only to priests and monks. But when Bosch joined, it was no longer monastic. They had begun allowing laymen in by then. Thus I was misinformed, and Bosch was not actually a monk. OK. So what?

I might have researched that a bit deeper if it was germane to my argument, but it wasn’t. My critics typically gripe about what they imagine to be my fiendish motivations, as if I'm just as bigoted, biased and hateful as they are; as if whatever was the first assumption they jumped to could not possibly be in error. That happened here too. This particular critic said that my calling Bosch a monk “fits [my] narrative of the ignorance of the Church”, but it really doesn’t. That was never my narrative. If instead I had said that Bosch was a member of some exclusive religious brotherhood, it would have made no more and no less impact on my argument. It’s irrelevant. I only wanted the most succinct description I could give in the time I had to present my case, and calling Bosch a monk allowed me that brevity. Sadly, I didn't even suspect to check into whatever it was that I read so long ago.

The only reason I mentioned Bosch at all was to point to his fanciful depiction of the world as a flat plane within a giant spherical dome or transparent crystal ball, which is how some religious people still view the world even now, because that is how the Bible describes it. Eager to assume the worst of me with or without reason, my critic said that my “claim that Bosch’s stylised depiction of the earth as a flat plane within a sphere on the outer panels of his Earthly Delights diptych means that he believed the earth was flat and that this was still believed in the 1490s is completely absurd.” Yeah, even though O'Neill himself admitted that there were other flat earthers at that time that he could name, proving what I said in my debate correct, though that wasn't the point I was making. My critic is assigning to me positions I never held, based on what he assumes I might have meant. While the flat earth movement was never mainstream, it is an exclusively religious position, one dominated by Christians, (at least in the U.S.) and Christians were still pushing a flat earth even when they know better. That's faith for you.

Likewise, despite another of O'Neill's false accusations, I didn't think the rotundity of the earth was proved by Columbus—despite the fact that my elementary school actually taught that to everyone in the 2nd grade. I suspect that many people of my generation were taught that in grade school, which is why I made the comment, expecting it to be taken with some levity.

I made no comment on what Bosch believed, and I have never thought that he was a flat-earther, though I could be wrong. Contrary to my critic’s assertions, there have always been people who thought the earth was flat, especially among the common folk. I am aware of too many people today with public followings who believe in geocentrism and other similar absurdities; always for reasons of religious faith, which is the point I was making in the debate. Whatever Bosch believed, there is unanimous agreement that his painting on the outer panels of the triptych were intended to depict the creation of the earth as a flat circle enveloped or covered by a crystalline firmament, just as the Bible describes.

"The exterior doors of Garden of Earthly Delights subtly set the stage for the rollicking interior panels. When closed, the painting depicts the “third day of creation,” a biblical milestone when Earthly paradise was forged by God."

"On the outer faces of the triptych Bosch depicted in grisaille the Third Day of the Creation of the World, when the waters were separated from the earth and the earthly Paradise (Eden) created. At the top left we see God the Father as the Creator, according to two Latin inscriptions, one on each panel: For he spake, and it was done and For he commanded, and they were created (Psalms 33:9 and 148:5)."
—Museo Del Prado

"The work shows the world in stunning detail, encased in a clear globe. In the upper left corner, it’s possible to make out the tiny figure of God, who is wearing a Papal tiara. Next to him an inscription from Psalm 33:9 reads “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

"If one thinks of the outside panels as the end of the entire pictorial cycle, rather than its beginning, then this image could easily be a depiction of the Flood, sent by God to cleanse the earth after it was consumed by vice."

So I did not get that wrong! Whether Bosch belonged to a monastic order or merely to a formerly-monastic order doesn’t change the fact that he painted that, and the fact that Bosch painted it that way does not mean he believed that’s really how it is. But that is how the Bible describes it, and his commissioned work proves there is no argument about that, which was another point that my overzealous critic completely missed.

As I said in my book, "if the Bible is interpreted literally, then it is clear that its authors believed that the world was spread out like a map over a flat disc—not a sphere [dur], but a circle [chug] (Isaiah 40:22) divided into four quadrants (Isaiah 11:12), sometimes mistranslated as “corners.” This disc-world stood on pillars (1 Samuel 2:8) like a table so that it would not move (Psalms 93:1 and 1 Chronicles 16:30). All of this was submerged in a watery abyss and covered by a giant transparent crystal dome, like a snow globe (Genesis 1:7). The sun, moon, and stars were contained within the expanse (Genesis 1:14) of this massive dome (Ezekiel 1:22). Fountains would allow water in from below the firmament, and windows in the expanse of it would allow rain in also (Genesis 7:11). This wasn’t even an original idea; it was a common belief throughout many neighboring regions with different religions."

With all of that in mind, read the following comments from Saint Augustine:
But as to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, that is on no ground credible.
Notice, this is dichotomous. There is no allowance for those who walk with their feet perpendicular to ours or diagonal to ours. There are only podes and antipodes; people on our side of the world, and speculation about the possibility of people on the [one] other side of the world, the people with feet opposite ours. That does seem to imply a perspective that all the land of Europe, Asia and Africa were on the one side, the same side he is on, and that no one knew whether there were other people in other imagined lands on what seems to be the flip side of this coin.
Augustine said:
And, indeed, it is not affirmed that this has been learned by historical knowledge, but by scientific conjecture, on the ground that the earth is suspended within the concavity of the heavens, and that it has as much room on the one side of it as on the other: hence they say that the part which is beneath must also be inhabited.
Here again, Augustine is NOT describing a world divided into the many gradations required for a sphere, but into only two equal halves clearly-divided in the middle, with everyone on every continent that is currently known being on the land above, and Augustine is speculating about another equal half apportioned for the hypothetical opposite side of the world, being “the land beneath”, where their feet are opposite ours. All of this sounds exactly like Augustine is describing a two-sided coin. What else could it be? However, the point that I raised in the debate was that Augustine said that it was mere conjecture that there might be "antipodes", that there was no reason to believe the fable that people lived on the other side of the world, because Augustine expressed a few times how he favored religion as history and had little trust for science, which he largely dismissed as "conjecture".

Similarly, my (admittedly) secondary point regarding Father Procopius of Cesaria is that he actually said, "If there be men on the other side of the earth, Christ must have gone there and suffered a second time to save them; and therefore there must have been, as necessary preliminaries to his coming, a duplicate Adam, Eden, serpent, and Deluge!" That's ridiculous regardless what shape you think the world is.

Everything Augustine said beyond that also exactly matched the two-sided coin interpretation. Yet, interpreting it that way was my second and only other error in the whole presentation, where I allegedly got "everything" wrong. My critic’s best argument—and his only good one—is that there was another model of the world way back in the 5th century (that I didn’t know about) which is so grossly inaccurate that it too matches the description of a flat two-sided disc-world. At this point, my critic said “This claim is startling to anyone who has actually read Augustine’s works, given that it is completely contradicted by what Augustine actually says about the shape of the earth.” He then quoted (A Literal Commentary on Genesis) speculating about what Augustine “seems to be referring to”, but there’s nothing in the text to indicate that. Therein the 5th century cleric said that believers should have some understanding of about whatever matters they’re talking about with unbelievers, so as not to reveal their own ignorance and embarrass the faithful. But that quote has no relevance to the point my critic was trying to make, as it did not in any sense address the shape of the world, nor whether there were—or could be—people on the other side of it.

However, after further research on my own, I am satisfied that O'Neill is right and I am wrong on that one point, that Augustine and Procopius both subscribed to an alternate concept of antipodes, in which the earth is still depicted incorrectly, but is probably spherical none the less. Though Augustine was still unsure of that. It was a model of the earth I had never heard of despite all my studies, and I'm quite embarrassed about that. Having that O'Neill did actually have one valid criticism of me, I realized that any attempted defense of the rest would be seen as whining. So I decided to let all his other misjudgments go uncorrected. If he has a relevant point, then I should just take it on the chin, and not write a rebuttal of him like others have.

His exceedingly verbose condemnation of my character has come up in at least a couple video interviews in the months since then, wherein I said that the important thing is that he was right on that one relevant point, and that I needed to be more diligent when I talk about history. I would include links to both of those interviews here, but it was someone else's podcast both times, and I don't remember who either of those people were anymore. I do a lot of these type interviews, too many to remember all of them that well.

So why is this important now, a year later? Because O'Neill has resumed libeling me again, this time on Twitter.


Besides O'Neill not understanding Hitchen's razor with regard to science refusing to accept empty assertions without evidence, (which we should really talk about) he went on to repeatedly assert that I think all Christians are Biblical literalists. Never mind that this is a direct contradiction of the very first foundational falsehood of creationism, wherein I said [in the book by the same name]:
The tricky part of a written debate is getting the intended audience to actually read the posts and comment on them to show that they understood what they read. This is compounded by the fact that creationists will not be held accountable, so to counter both of these problems, I suggested that we have a half-dozen moderators, three of them creationists and three of them evolutionary scientists. I also insisted that all of the moderators be Christian.
...The early pioneers of evolutionary science were all initially Christian (including Darwin), and many leading proponents of modern evolutionary science are still Christian today. For example, microbiologist Ken Miller describes himself as a very traditional Catholic; he was also an expert witness who testified against intelligent design creationism in Kitzmiller v. Dover. Another outspoken proponent of evolution is Robert T. Bakker. He was not only one of the leading and most recognizable paleontologists in the world, but he also happens to be a Bible-believing Pentecostal preacher—though he interprets Genesis differently than literalists would. In his book Bones, Bibles and Creation, he says that to treat the Bible as though it were common history is to degrade its eternal meaning. One of the earliest geneticists, Theodosius Dobzhansky, was an Orthodox Christian who many times professed his belief that life was created by God. But he famously said that “nothing in biology made sense except in light of evolution.” All these men agree that even if there really is a god, and even if that god is the Christian god, and even if that god created the universe and everything in it (which they all believe), evolution would still be at least mostly true and creationism would still be completely wrong.
So on the science side for our debate, I selected geneticist Jill Buettner MSc as my first moderator. She was my own biology teacher, and she had been cited in the journal, Nature for her contribution to the human genome project. I also knew she was active in her church, smoothing the division between fact and faith. I chose her based on comments she had made to me relating to religion:
“I am a Christian and I can accept that Noah’s Ark was a folk tale told by mouth until it was written down around Moses’ time—it is not a firsthand account! Only literal Bible readers get bogged down trying to prove that the Creation story, Adam and Eve, and Noah’s Ark are absolute fact.”
This is just one of many examples of where I have repeatedly distinguished moderate Christians from different types of fundamentalists, so that Christians themselves do not "tar all believers with the fundamentalist brush". This proves that O'Neill is absolutely wrong in yet another of his false (and obviously biased) assessments of me, which I have already frequently refuted numerous times throughout my career, and still continue to do.

Unable to admit his mistake, O'Neill tried to deflect.


I don't have a bias, but O'Niell obviously does. We can translate his use of the word "often" here to "never". I never see Christianity through the distorting lens of fundamentalism. To prove that yet again, I'll provide another quote from the 1st FFoC:
So when a Wisconsin school board passed antievolution policies in 2004, hundreds of reasonable Christians got together on the Clergy Letter Project. (Different letters were composed for Christian clergy, Jewish rabbis, Buddhist sangha, and Unitarian Universalist ministers.) It was their version of Project Steve, except that instead of a poll of scientists endorsing evolution, it was a poll of religious believers also endorsing evolution. It read:
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as “one theory among others” is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
As of October 25, 2015, the Clergy Letter Project had over 13,000 signatures. That’s an order of magnitude more than Project Steve, which itself was hundreds more than the Discovery Institute’s list of “dissenters from Darwinism.”
Note that even if I am wrong about Augustine, (which I already admitted) O'Neill is still wrong about what he just said about me! I've already proved that I don't conflate Christianity with literalism. To prove that again, (I could do this all day and never repeat myself) I'll refer to my chapter on the 14th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism, wherein a quote a Young Earth Creationist:
“I’ve chosen to believe the god of the Bible,” Jack said. “Now the evolutionist has chosen not to believe in the god of the Bible. We’ve chosen to believe. They’re both matters of faith.” He says this ignoring all the “evolutionists” who are Christian. Professional scientists like:
• Dr. Richard G. Colling, chair of biology at a fundamentalist Christian college
• Dr. Dennis O. Lamoureux, assistant professor of science and religion
• Dr. Keith B. Miller, assistant professor of geology
• Dr. David N. Livingstone, author of Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders
• Dr. Howard J. Van Till, professor of astronomy,
• Dr. David L. Wilcox, geneticist, author of God and Evolution
• Prof. Larry Arnhart, author of Darwinian Natural Right
• Prof. Kenneth Miller PhD, author of Finding Darwin’s God
• Dr. Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project
• Prof. Rev. John Polkinghorne PhD, author of Quarks, Chaos and Christianity
• Dr. Graeme Finlay, cell biologist and author of Human Evolution: Genes, Genealogies and Phylogenies
• Prof. Donald Nield PhD, author of God Created the Heavens and the Earth
• Dr. Denis Edwards, author of The God of Evolution
• Dr. John Haught, author of Deeper than Darwin
• Rev. Stanley Jaki PhD physicist and author of Cosmos and Creator
• Rev. Robert T. Bakker PhD, Pentecostal paleontologist
Now look at what else O'Neill got wrong. He said that I see literalism when it isn't there. That's obviously not true either. Literalism isn't always the problem, but there are times when it is, and O'Neill needs to be able to see it when it is. However, what I usually say is that faith is the problem. That was certainly the problem for Augustine!

O'Neill says that Augustine was not a literalist. I never said he was, which is just one more thing O'Neill is wrong about; criticizing me for things I never said. But Augustine actually described himself as a literalist, even if he didn't define that term quite as strictly as modern literalists do.

I’ve read enough of Augustine myself to expect unscientific assumptions to be the sorts of things he is likely to say. For example, Augustine wrote an article called "Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen", wherein he opens with the admission that Christianity commands belief in what is not seen, just like it says in Hebrews 1:11. I have often pointed out that faith is commonly defined as "a firm conviction that is not dependent on evidence". Despite frequent criticisms from Christians trying to pretend that I got that wrong, Augustine is just one more of many sources to prove I got it right. He mentions "proof" in that article, but only in an excuse for why we should believe without proof. He also again confirms what I said in so many of my videos, that the only evidence he can cite for his faith in scripture is scripture itself, and not any external fact to substantiate or confirm that assumption. In another treatise, "On the Profit of Believing", Augustine said that the religion set before him from childhood by his parents commanded that he have "faith before reason". In another article, called "Of Faith and the Creed", Augustine again confirmed his circular reasoning—assuming scriptural authority instead of seeking evidence—when he explains that the only "proofs" backing the religious "opinion" (as he put it) are interpretations of scripture. I was not directed to these quotes by some infidel website. I found them on my own just by reading the content of Augustine’s works.

This question-begging assumption of scriptural authority is the same sort of nonsense Augustine spouts in City of God too, but he also includes some laughable notions about science there. Since my interest is in taxonomy, I’d like to share this quip I found in City of God, from the preceding chapter 8:
“for if we were not aware that apes, and monkeys, and sphinxes are not men, but beasts, those historians would possibly describe them as races of men, and flaunt with impunity their false and vainglorious discoveries”.
In Chapter 10, Augustine declares himself to be a Young Earth Creationist, rejecting as deceitful “those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.” So we know Augustine claims to interpret the Bible literally, at least most of the time. He even paraphrased the excuse that it's literal except when it's metaphorical. He didn't accept that the creation week was seven 24-hour days, but he insisted that it all happened at about the time that Bishop Ussher later calculated.

My critic cites two other quotes from A Literal Interpretation of Genesis, in which Augustine fully accepts the sphericity of the earth that he questioned in City of God. But then others have noted that “In City of God, Augustine rejected both the contemporary ideas of ages (such as those of certain Greeks and Egyptians) that differed from the Church's sacred writings”. Even if Augustine always accepted as fact that the earth was round—which I now accept that he probably did—that would be a fair point, but one that still misses the point, because several of the Bible’s references to a flat earth (like in Daniel 4:10-11, Matthew 4:8 and Revelation 1:7) were written several centuries after Eratosthenes showed that the world was round AND gauged it’s circumference; which logically should have disproved both of Augustine's arguments.

So Christianity was definitely teaching flat earth beliefs long after the world was known to be round because they were still writing flat earth descriptions into the Bible then. If Christianity teaches the scriptures at all, then they’re teaching a flat earth perspective, and then the more knowledgeable or rational believers have to go back and concoct apologetics to disguise that fact or conceal it in metaphorical interpretations.


At some point, you gotta wonder. What is wrong with that guy? Seriously, there were no "other large errors" to concede. The points about Bosch not being a monk and that other two-sided world model of Saint Augustine's were the absolute best my critic had. There is just no excuse for him to act like this.

Neil Godfrey said:
There is an atheist out there on the internet who should hang his head in shame and disgrace. In 26 minutes of presentation in a debate with an apologist the video record shows he took up 3 whole minutes (667 words) repeating what he had read in books at school and had heard from science writers not realizing he was repeating a popular misconception, a misconception he had almost certainly been taught in school as fact. He dared to say that people in the Middle Ages thought the world was flat. That’s as good as getting EVERYTHING about history wrong, we learn from the author of History for Atheists (“ARON RA” GETS EVERYTHING WRONG), earning nothing less than a blistering 6,280-word response which included the following excoriation of both mind and character:
his profound ignorance of history

burst of pseudo historical gibberish

smug self-assurance

virtually everything he said was wrong.

When he turns to history, however, the results are truly woeful,

I make no apologies for coming down hard on crappy pseudo history like this. Nelson may be a well-meaning fool, but he is a fool nonetheless.

no excuse for peddling the lazy nonsense he spouts about history

doing it with such blithe pomposity

is terrible at history and believes many stupid and erroneous things.

someone with little to no grasp of the relevant material

he swaggers and bloviates

boneheaded fanaticism
We all have our bad days when we get a bit cranky.

Oh yes, here are some choice criticisms of our atheist’s presumed sources:
relying on bungled online rehashing of nineteenth century myths and confused nonsense by fellow polemicists.

has read some stuff that he likes from fellow historically illiterate polemicists and decides to present it as fact.
One thing I learned in my educational psychology classes was that the best way to correct facts and gaps in knowledge is to do exactly what the chair of the debate said at the beginning:
And we just ask that you be respectful.
I like that approach.

Yes, Aaron Ra or Nelson, you were guilty of repeating a popular misconception, not only among atheists but even among many Christians. Gosh, I believed what you said for years when I was a God-fearing Protestant. And I am sure I was even taught the same erroneous information in school at some point.
So how did we get here a year later?


So here we are. Now, let's hit this list.
Tim O'Neill said:
Which leaves your errors on meaning of Augustine and Procopius’ arguments about the Antipodes,
No, admitting that as my one relevant mistake does not leave it as another error not yet admitted.

your misinterpretation of Bosch’s painting,
I didn't misinterpret Bosch's painting. You misinterpreted what I said about it.

your claim Copernicus was somehow in danger of being “killed” by the Church,
That was not my claim. What I said was:
"But if you want even better examples of Christianity historically conflicting with science there are many. In the early 1500s Copernicus proposed the idea that the earth was not the centre of the universe as the Bible implied. The church condemned his theory as heretical, holding to the literal interpretation that the Sun is in heaven and turns around the earth with great speed and that the earth is very far from heaven and sits motionless at the centre of the world. Copernicus had already died in the same year that his theory was published before the church could catch him and kill him for contradicting them, but later that same century a Dominican monk named Giordano Bruno proposed another heretical hypothesis called “cosmic pluralism” – the idea that the stars were suns like our own, albeit much further away and that they might have their own planets and perhaps even life on them. So the church burned him at the stake."
As you can see, I pointed out that the church caught and killed Giordano Bruno for another heretical hypothesis; the implication being that *if* the church would have done the same with Copernicus, they couldn't, because he died about the time his heresy was published.

your claim Galileo could “show” heliocentrism was true
Note what I said about his astronomical "observations". He could "show" those.

a “quote” of the condemnation of Galileo that wasn’t accurate.
That's fair. Here is what I said in the debate:
"Consider the Holy Inquisition words of judgement against Galileo in 1616:
“The first proposition that the Sun is the centre and does not revolve about the earth is foolish, absurd, false in theology and heretical because it [is] expressly contrary to Holy Scripture. And the second proposition that the earth is not the centre but revolves about the Sun, is absurd, false in philosophy and, from a theological point of view at least opposed to the truth faith.”
There’s no such thing as a true faith. Faith is convincing yourself of things that are not evidently true and then refusing to admit when you’re wrong. So, the Catholic Church stuck to this ruling until 1992. That’s 376 years of Christianity being increasingly conflicted with science on many different fronts."

While the quote I included is all over the internet, it is edited and spliced together incorrectly. I don't know why anyone would do that, but here is (I think) the original quote:
"Second, I say that, as you know, the Council prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally (ad litteram) that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether in all prudence the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators. Nor may it be answered that this is not a matter of faith, for if it is not a matter of faith from the point of view of the subject matter, it is on the part of the ones who have spoken. It would be just as heretical to deny that Abraham had two sons and Jacob twelve, as it would be to deny the virgin birth of Christ, for both are declared by the Holy Ghost through the mouths of the prophets and apostles.
Third. I say that if there were a true demonstration that the sun was in the center of the universe and the earth in the third sphere, and that the sun did not travel around the earth but the earth circled the sun, then it would be necessary to proceed with great caution in explaining the passages of Scripture which seemed contrary, and we would rather have to say that we did not understand them than to say that something was false which has been demonstrated. But I do not believe that there is any such demonstration; none has been shown to me. It is not the same thing to show that the appearances are saved by assuming that the sun really is in the center and the earth in the heavens. I believe that the first demonstration might exist, but I have grave doubts about the second, and in a case of doubt, one may not depart from the Scriptures as explained by the holy Fathers. I add that the words ' the sun also riseth and the sun goeth down, and hasteneth to the place where he ariseth, etc.' were those of Solomon, who not only spoke by divine inspiration but was a man wise above all others and most learned in human sciences and in the knowledge of all created things, and his wisdom was from God. Thus it is not too likely that he would affirm something which was contrary to a truth either already demonstrated, or likely to be demonstrated. And if you tell me that Solomon spoke only according to the appearances, and that it seems to us that the sun goes around when actually it is the earth which moves, as it seems to one on a ship that the beach moves away from the ship, I shall answer that one who departs from the beach, though it looks to him as though the beach moves away, he knows that he is in error and corrects it, seeing clearly that the ship moves and not the beach. But with regard to the sun and the earth, no wise man is needed to correct the error, since he clearly experiences that the earth stands still and that his eye is not deceived when it judges that the moon and stars move. And that is enough for the present."

Note that my original point is actually even better served by the original quote! Cardinal Bellarmine opens by saying that the council prohibits heresy specifically because that would threaten a literal interpretation of the scriptures, from which "one may not depart". Consequently Bellarmine confesses in the face of proof against the interpretation, any revision must be carefully worded such that the assumption of scriptural authority is never questioned. Thus he pretends to know that it is the universe that rotates around the earth, rather than the earth spinning on its axis. This entire block of two paragraphs says essentially the same thing as the inaccurately abbreviated quote I used!

Plus several other smaller errors, eg on Bruno's multiple worlds.
To know what O'Neill is talking about, I'll quote from his blog, including my actual words which he is replying to:
AronRa said:
later that same century a Dominican monk named Giordano Bruno proposed another heretical hypothesis called “cosmic pluralism” – the idea that the stars were suns like our own, albeit much further away and that they might have their own planets and perhaps even life on them. So the church burned him at the stake.
Tim O'Neill" said:
Again, this is such a hoary myth that I have already given it a detailed debunking here – see “The Great Myths 3: Giordano Bruno was a Martyr for Science“. In summary, Bruno was a mystic and magician and the Early Modern equivalent of a New Age crackpot, not a scientist. He did not adopt the idea of the plurality of worlds out of any scientific reasoning – the whole idea was well beyond the science of the day anyway. He did so because it fitted his weird grab-bag of mystical ideas, including planets with souls, magic, a garbled and erroneous version of Egyptian religion and some crackpot “sacred geometry”. Nelson is wrong, as usual, that the idea of “cosmic pluralism” was something Bruno “proposed” – it was actually something he adopted from someone else. And that someone else was the man he called “the Divine Cusanus”: Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa, who was not only a cardinal and member of the Curia but was also a Papal Legate and second only to the pope in the Catholic hierarchy. So, not exactly a heretic.
Note that I never said that Bruno was a scientist, nor that he practiced science or died for it. Sure Bruno almost certainly adopted these ideas from somewhere else, but he still proposed them, and that's why they killed him. The point is that whether he was a scientist or not, any dissension from scripture could have gotten one killed by the Inquisition. O'Neill is wrong, as usual, always because he tries to read in his own biased assumptions of what he thinks I might have meant rather than what I actually said, which is factually correct.

Seriously? Sophistry? "the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving." From me?
I do what I do precisely because I am adamantly opposed to sophistry, which the one and only tool of religious apologetics.

Speaking of which, get a load of how O'Neill describes himself:
As a rationalist, I believe strongly that people should do all they can to put emotion, wishful thinking and ideology aside when examining any subject...
Gimmie a break, Mr wishful thinking emotional ideologue. What a hypocrite!

I don't "pretend" to have integrity. I have it.


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Led Zeppelin

Active Member
A year or so ago, one Tim O'Neill wrote a blog post critiquing my debate with Tyler Vela on the topic of "Has Christianity Historically Been in Conflict with Science?". You can read my account of that debate here: The new blog post—the one that is so critical of me—is called “Aron Ra gets everything wrong

I think that, if flat earth and this painting from some guy no one has ever heard of before were so important to your side of the argument, then you probably did not do so well in this debate.

I read most of O'Neill's critique of your debate and from the start it seems pretty obvious that it's just a hit piece and I think most people will see it as such. I can't understand why you are so worried about what this idiot says about you. Maybe you should go take a nice vacation somewhere or something. Take care.

Led Zeppelin

Active Member
As a Christian I have to say I have a lot more respect for Aron Ra than this Tim ONeil guy. I think Aron Ra often misrepresents Christianity and has a poor understanding of the Bible, but think most Christians do also.

Everyone knows Aron Ra is a smart guy. He also says he works hard and I believe him when he says that. I like Aron Ra. Other Christians that I know who have debated him before like him also. I want him to have a good life and be in heaven with God when he dies. As far I know he has never made it a point to single out a person and venomously attack them because of a debate. Which is probably why I like him. Other Christians have told me he is a pretty nice guy. I think ONeil is being venomous and I think this discourages debate.

I think Christians have historically owned science and that Aron's part of this debate was not very convincing. There are so many other things going on in the world right now that I don't really see the point of such qualified people wasting there time debating things like this.

If Aron is reading this I hope you consider focusing on more important things. People like you and they would listen to you. You have a rare talent and you waste it all on bashing Christians. Do something new.
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Sam(I am)

New Member
I had no idea this dude even existed before he found the need to attack you

It may be that he is trying to ride your coat tails?

He is basically unheard of, then when he puts your name on his page many people now know who he is

He appears a less intelligent Jordan Peterson trying to be Bart Ehrman

The worst part about him just may be his arrogance and his inability to accept that he may be wrong

From what I can tell, he does not like to be challenged, he will not debate and he makes various excuses for it.

So it seems he just likes to have a platform to say things, and not have to engage in any critique in real-time at least

Yes, that is his page, and he can edit and ban anyone he wants to. But understand that is a weak look

His game seems as soft as Drake

The way he seems obsessed with your name almost sounds like he is denying how smitten he is with you and your work

He seems to really enjoy the company of ignorant science deniers, where they hang out and laugh at nonbelievers, but nonbelievers are the intolerant ones?

His religious friends are just so giddy to have a "so-called" atheist side with them, then they can go tell all their science-denying friends that they scored a W for Jesus

My guess is he is somehow trying to cash in on those ignorants who love to get giddy over having a "so-called" atheist agree with them

If he is gaming them, well good for him