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Former WCG pastors debate nature of Bible
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Two former Worldwide Church of God pastors face off
in a debate about the nature of the Bible

by Dixon Cartwright

WHITEHOUSE, Texas--Two former Worldwide Church of God pastors met for a one-of-a-kind event near Tyler, Texas, Feb. 21, 2010. They got together in a Church of God setting to debate whether the Bible is the inspired Word of God or not.

Art Mokarow, an 82-year-old former administrator and church pastor who left the WCG in 1979, went head to head with Dennis Diehl, a 60-year-old former WCG pastor who, since his departure from the WCG in 1998, has decided he is no longer a believer in the inerrancy and literalism of the Bible.

Mr. Mokarow, who lives in Conroe, Texas, was assisted and backed up by a friend, 62-year-old Bible scholar and former Baptist preacher from North Little Rock, Ark., Ron Moseley.

Mr. Diehl didn't mind

Dr. Moseley, who has two doctor's degrees and has studied at numerous colleges and universities, does not have a WCG background although he is a Sabbatarian Christian.

Mr. Mokarow, some weeks before the debate, checked to see if Mr. Diehl--who does believe in God although no longer in the Bible--would mind if Dr. Moseley participated, even though Dr. Moseley's participation would mean the debate would pit two against one.

But Mr. Diehl, who lives in Greenville, S.C., said that arrangement would be fine with him.

So, sitting on one side during the invariably civil discussion were Mr. Mokarow and Dr. Moseley and on the other Mr. Diehl.

The location was the building owned by the Tyler Sabbath Fellowship, whose membership and board, including elders Gary Woodring and Dennis Hughes, welcomed the debaters and the approximately 20 people who watched and listened for more than three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

How did such an event come to be?

It started in Detroit

In August 2008, during a conference and seminars about biblical and church topics in a suburb of Detroit, Mich., three men--Mr. Mokarow, Dr. Moseley and this writer--were discussing in Mr. Mokarow's hotel suite religion and related subjects.

Mr. Mokarow wondered aloud (this is not an exact quote): "What do people need? What do our young people need to help them in their understanding of God and the Bible?"

During the discussion this writer for The Journal commented that young people having grown up in a church environment go off to college and encounter startling opinions and theories, philosophical and theological, they had never heard before, and as a result many of them lose faith in the Bible and God.

Therefore, what about a discussion about the Bible itself?

Church of God and other preachers constantly sermonize from the Bible and sometimes even debate Bible subjects with other Christians.

But rarely does a Church of God minister or scholar attempt to prove specifically that the Bible is what Church of God writers and preachers say it is: the inspired, infallible (some say inerrant) Word of God.

As a result of that conversation, Dr. Moseley submitted an essay The Journal printed in its issue dated Aug. 31, 2008, titled "Modern Scholarship Has Provided Us a Better Class of Heresy."

The Journal was happy to publish Dr. Moseley's essay.

Still, although it cited modern Bible research and spoke of the dangers of gnosticism and explained the process of canonization, it did not prove that the Bible is the inspired and perfect Word of God.

Mr. Mokarow willing

At some point between the Detroit seminars in August 2008 and the debate in February 2010, Mr. Mokarow and this writer began speaking of the possibility of a debate on the veracity of the Bible.

Mr. Mokarow expressed his willingness, even eagerness, to debate. He asked for a suggestion for a worthy opponent. Dennis Diehl came to mind, since Mr. Diehl is a former WCG pastor but no longer believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Mr. Mokarow liked the idea, and the debate eventually happened several weeks ago.

Four on stage

On stage besides the three debaters--with Mr. Mokarow and Dr. Moseley on one side and Mr. Diehl on the other--was Reg Killingley, a Church of God member who lives near Big Sandy.

Mr. Killingley served as moderator, valiantly attempting to keep the discussion moving and on target.

As agreed upon by all the participants, no judges were present to decide who won and lost. No winner was declared. The debate was simply a way to let both sides give their points of view.

The following is an abridged and otherwise lightly edited version of a transcript of the debate.

Introductions all around

Reg Killingley: Good afternoon and welcome. I'm Reg Killingley, and I have been asked to moderate. I was about to say mediate, but I think a better term is moderate this discussion, which will be of course a very cordial one.

Let me, before we get started, give thanks to the Tyler Sabbath Fellowship for allowing us the use of this very nice facility.

Also I want to thank The Journal, the newspaper of the Churches of God, and the publisher, sitting in the back there, Dixon Cartwright, for helping coordinate this debate.

The format for this afternoon will be several questions and then timed answers. We will try to adhere, or at least I will try to adhere, to the time that we've set. We do have three speakers, but two basic positions represented.

On my far left is Dennis Diehl. He will be one side of this debate.

In the middle we have Ron Moseley and to his right Art Mokarow. Dr. Moseley and Mr. Mokarow will represent the other side in this debate.

We will begin with five minutes for each side. When I say side I mean Mr. Diehl for one side and Dr. Moseley and Mr. Mokarow for the other side.

Each side will have five minutes for some personal background information. Then each side will have 15 minutes for an introductory presentation. During those 15 minutes they will explain their basic point of view so you will understand where each side is coming from.

And then the questions. For each question each side will have five minutes. That means we should have a total of 10 minutes per question.

The side with Mr. Mokarow and Dr. Moseley can split the time however they wish. If they wish to split the time 50-50 that's fine. Or if, in some cases, one speaker wishes to answer the question and take up the whole time that's fine too.

Then we hope to have a little bit of time for questions from the floor. If you [in the audience] have some questions you would like to ask, you might make a note.

Then each side will have 10 minutes for a closing or summary presentation, and that will conclude the debate.

To start--we selected this at random--I've asked Mr. Diehl to start, so he will have five minutes to give you biographical and personal and background information.

Suited up with Pooh

Dennis Diehl: Thank you very much. I wore my Pooh tie because this protects me. Nobody punches somebody with a Pooh tie.

Ron Moseley: I do.

Dennis Diehl: Okay. Well, thank you for having me here. I want you to know this is the first time I've worn a suit in 12 years. Yesterday was the first Sabbath service I have gone to in 12 years.

When Bronson [James] sang last night "How Great Thou Art" [at a church-sponsored concert in the same building], I told him don't do it. I sat back there with tears in my eyes.

I came to the Worldwide Church of God when I was 14 years old. The first sermon I ever heard was Fred Coulter in Boise, Idaho. I was impressed.

I spent my high-school years studying the church, the literature, wanting to be a minister. I always had wanted to be a minister.

When I graduated from high school I was accepted to a Methodist seminary with full scholarships, or Ambassador College, which hadn't told me whether they'd accepted me or not. So I called them and said either accept me or I'm going to the other place. They said you're accepted.

I thought it [AC] was a seminary. I was Presbyterian. I'd never attended a local [WCG] church [except for that one time in Idaho at age 14]. I didn't know a local minister. I only knew Ambassador College.

So I went to Ambassador College. The first day I was there Garner Ted [Armstrong] announced if you came here to be a minister get over it; you'll be kicked out of here quicker than you can possibly imagine.

I thought: Oh, that's different. I thought it was a seminary. So I said, okay, then I'll get grades and make you hire me. And I did.

So when I graduated I was sent to Minneapolis to work in the regional area. At 22 years old I was ordained a local elder, which was way too soon. At 23 I was ordained a preaching elder, which was way too soon.

Pastor of 14 churches

I went on to pastor 14 congregations all over the country: Chicago, Minneapolis, Toledo, Findlay, Mansfield, three in Kentucky, two in New York state--I'm from Rochester, N.Y.--one in Greenville, S.C., where there were over 400 people at that point.

Every church I've ever pastored is gone. The 400 people in Greenville are 10, and three of them are elders, and they all fight among each other to speak to the last six people.

My evaluation [by the WCG] before I was terminated in 1998 was: "Dennis, we think you know an awful lot about Jesus," which meant church history, the way things are, "but we don't think you know Jesus."

A few months later I got one call after a Bible study--I still had a church of 125 people--from church administration, and they just simply said you've been terminated. You know, best of luck, it's not personal, we just can't afford you anymore, and if you have any questions call the personnel department.

I said 26 years and that's it?

And they said just call the personnel department.

I hung up and he hung up, and I've never heard another word from a living, breathing Worldwide Church of God friend, pastor, administrator, in the last 12 years. That was it.

Good for the goose

So I thought: Well, if you can examine the things that you're examining, I can examine the questions that 25 years has brought up.

One of the first things I ever questioned was the birth narratives of Jesus, which we never heard of in the church because they were too closely related to Christmas.

I examined them for myself intellectually, the birth narratives. They don't match, they were inserted, they do have a purpose, but theologically they're fascinating.

I went on to reinvent myself. I was asked to pastor the remnants of the church. I didn't want that drama. I'm not built for that drama. I don't want the splits that will come after the splits that have come that will come again.

I told the elders: I know you guys. You will eat me alive in six months and I will still be looking for work. So I quit [in 1998].

I've had a lot of counseling to get through what I considered to be a traumatic experience. I have examined Scripture. But, from my point of view, Scripture can never mean what it never meant.

I love Mr. Mokarow. I respect him. This is not really a debate. This is just me bringing myself some closure. I have a massage-therapy practice and I teach it, and so that's what I do.

Three years ago in Dallas

Reg Killingley: Thank you, Mr. Diehl. And now, the other side. You'll have two and one-half minutes each.

Art Mokarow: Can I just introduce Ron Moseley?

I met this gentleman three years ago at the Dallas gathering of scholars. We had 25 scholars come. We were in Dallas for five days. They were from a variety of denominations, and many from Worldwide and splits. [See "Symposium Presents Mix of Views About Law, Grace," The Journal, Feb. 29, 2008.]

I met this gentleman [Dr. Moseley]. I found out he had a doctorate from Oxford [Graduate School].

[Editor's note: Here is information Dr. Moseley supplied to The Journal about his education: He studied in America, Jerusalem and England. He has a Ph.D. in Second Temple history from Louisiana Baptist University and a D.Phil. and D.Litt. from Oxford Graduate School, Dayton, Tenn. He studied during five separate years at Oxford University in England and studied parts of 12 years at Hebrew University and Jerusalem University. He has also studied at Princeton Theological Seminary.]

Back to Jerusalem every year

Ron Moseley: I was raised Baptist, and the only Jew I knew in my small town in Arkansas was Jesus. When I went to Jerusalem it was quite an experience. When I went to Oxford it was quite an experience.

I graduated from Oxford Graduate School [in Tennessee] but spent five different occasions, years, semesters, in Oxford, England.

God's been very good to me. I left denominational work and have been an independent pastor for almost 40 years. I retired and run a school and am very happy to travel and take people back to Jerusalem every year. That's basically it.

Out of Orthodoxy

Art Mokarow: The one thing you're going to know if you hear us is very simple, nothing complex, nothing confusing like denominational Christianity. I'm not against any church, because it's a part of the process that God is doing, and in the end it all comes together again.

I'm from immigrant parents of Russian descent. They came over in 1917 to Chicago and worked in the stockyards. We were very poor and grew up maybe two miles from where Obama came from. So I understand poor.

When I started studying the Bible when I was 20 in the Navy, I was of the Orthodox faith.

After that I ran into Ambassador from my wife listening to the radio. We ended up attending the Chicago church in the early '50s, and after I was over there two-three years I was asked to come to the college.

At that time I was already 30 years old, a grown man, and had a business already established with State Farm Insurance as a manager.

I had been asked to move to be on the staff with the vice president of State Farm. It was 130 miles away. I turned it down because I didn't want to leave my family and move 130 miles.

Six months later I was asked and told I had to go to Ambassador, and I moved 2,000 miles.

I graduated, got ordained, was sent out, and a lot of churches he [Mr. Diehl] pastored I started. I had 25 pastors under me before they called me in to Pasadena after being eight or nine years from the Detroit area. Every six months the Detroit church grew by a thousand people. So we were pretty large when they called me in.

Then finally I was put in charge of ministerial training worldwide. I taught at Ambassador. I became part of AICF [the Ambassador International Cultural Foundation], where they drafted me because they knew I had a business background, and [Stanley] Rader [a WCG attorney and evangelist] liked me because I worked.

Then finally it got corrupt and I left.

Asking hard questions

Reg Killingley: We will now go to the introductory presentation. This is where each side will present in 15 minutes their point of view about the nature of the Bible. We will start with Mr. Mokarow or Dr. Moseley.

Ron Moseley: I, much like Dennis, would ask questions, hard questions. What I was taught in seminary--and I graduated from five of them--was unsatisfactory.

I remember being at the Hebrew department of the University of Texas in Austin under Dr. Roy Blizzard. We travel together and write books together today. But back then he was just short of John the Baptist and I was a peon.

I had 70 hours at the University of Texas, and I remember saying that I already had two master's degrees in history, and this thing didn't work--

On every page Jesus was either spitting on the ground and making spittle--and all these things had to be some scientific, not scientific but historical--idiom, because that's the way Jews write.

I couldn't afford to, but I went to Jerusalem and studied 12 years during the summers.

Nine businessmen paid my educational expenses. As a result of that, I was able to pick seven, not colleges, but professors, the leaders in their field.

[The nine businessmen] didn't want me just to go to Princeton and get an education. They wanted me to get a good education and graduate but study under the best guys in the field, [David] Fluesser in Jerusalem and so forth. So I did that, and they paid for it.

In doing so, opposite of Dennis, I found that it drew me nearer to the Bible.

I left the Baptist Church. I was in one of the largest ones in Arkansas, and you got excommunicated when you left. That's almost like a surgical procedure.

You know, I just never looked back. We're looking to God. The Bible, the more I studied it, these questions made sense, and I came up with 400 that were contradictions in my mind. I sorted through every one of them.

I think if you're looking for an error you're going to find one. But I like what Dennis said: A scripture can never mean what it never meant. I think these bobtail preachers around here today, and in all the seminaries where I've come from, they absolutely have an agenda.

Read everything he could

Art Mokarow: The approach that brought me to the Bible was really just three years ago.

When I resigned from the Church of God and the ministry in 1979, for 40 years nobody heard of me. Some people said I was dead. Some people said my wife and I were divorced. But this is our 60th year of marriage.

Ron Moseley: You look good to be dead.

Art Mokarow: I'm 82 and I'm still around, God willing. But, anyway, I studied by myself. I read everything I could.

Now, I have three degrees. I have a bachelor of science from DePaul University, before I went to Ambassador. It's a Catholic [school]. Since I wasn't Catholic I had to take their philosophy, which meant I got steeped in Plato, Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and right through Hume and Nietzsche and all of them, okay?

Also, I did take science. Science was one of my majors.

After I graduated from Ambassador I got a doctorate from Pacific States University. I don't use the doctorate because I'm just a servant of Christ. I'm just like you. We're all the same. We're diakonos, we're just servants.

About 12 years ago somebody found where I was, and they put me on the Internet, and on the Internet I started getting E-mails from around the world. They wanted to know what I believed after all those years.

I couldn't answer them all because I was running a business. I decided I'd write one book called God's Puzzle Solved. It took me a year to write that book. But now I've just finished my 38th one.

I have learned more in the last three years than I did in 60. That's where I am today.

Studied human origins

Reg Killingley: Well, then, for the introductory presentation we have Mr. Diehl.

Dennis Diehl: I'd like to get to some of the specifics of things that caught my attention.

If I could live my life again I would go to the University of Pennsylvania and be a paleontologist. That's where my heart was. That's the kind of hobbies I've had all my life. I've always studied human origins.

From the beginning at Ambassador College you study from the standpoint that the book of Genesis, the first 11 chapters in particular, are literally true: that women really did come from the rib of a man, that everything was created in seven days, that Noah really did have penguins and polar bears and such on the ark, wallabies and kangaroos that made the trip from Australia.

Nobody can explain that, nobody wants to bother with it. But the Bible says it, therefore it's true.

There are reasons for these stories. But, as I said, Scripture can never mean what it never meant.

Most Hebrew scholars would say Genesis 1 is not a scientific treatise on how things came to be. My perspective is that Genesis 1 is a statement by the Israelite priesthood, or the writers of the book, to simply say you worship wind, rain, fire, sun, moon, stars, animals, vegetables, minerals. Our God made your god. Our God is superior to your god. That's the purpose for Genesis 1.

I've studied human origins for 15 years. I believe firmly that human beings evolved, that in some way I'm a conscious, hairless ape.

Trapped spirit

I'd like to believe that I'm also a spirit trapped in a limited five-sensed carbon-based wet suit and that someday I can shed the crazy thing and not just experience the world through five senses but everything that's available.

That's either metaphysical or philosophical. But that's the stuff that makes me cry when I hear "How Great Thou Art."

Genesis 2, the story of the fall, is a retelling of a Sumerian tale of the gods who lived on the plains of Edin, E-D-I-N, not the Garden of Eden, E-D-E-N. In the Sumerian tale they only were allowed to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because only the gods were to know the knowledge of good and evil. It wasn't for human beings. The tree of life was also not for human beings.

That's why in the retelling of the story in the Bible those were the two trees that Adam and Eve were not allowed in the mythology. I'll be plain about it. It's mythology. It didn't literally happen.

Those trees were off limits because those were god trees.

I heard Mr. Armstrong explain the two trees a thousand times. I heard "uniplural" a thousand times. But Elohim, the God of Genesis, is a remake of the Canaanite God El, and the elohim are the council of the gods.

The council of the gods

When God said let us make man in our image, He wasn't talking to Jesus. He wasn't talking to the being who became Jesus. He was talking to the council of the gods and simply saying--when they finally realized what Adam and Eve potentially could do--we've got to kick them out of the garden lest they take of our trees.

I wondered as a kid why can't we know good and evil. Why is that off limits? Because that was god food. That wasn't for humans, so that's reflected in the mythology of the story.

The purpose for Genesis 2 is simply to dethrone the goddess--goddess worship around the nations of Israel--and to stop women from being worshiped for their fertility.

It was going to be patriarchy over matriarchy. It was to be priesthood, animals.

I'm very pro-woman; I've been accused of that all my life; you always take up for the woman. That's because the woman is the one who gets beat half to death, even in the church.

Women, according to Genesis, are to say yes, sir, to their husbands and have babies painfully. That's hardly a goddess thing.

I always wondered: Why did God hate vegetables? Why did God hate Cain's offering and love animals? That's crazy.

Goddess worship

The symbolism is, again, goddess worship. Agriculture, seeds, rain, fertility, those are goddess symbols. That's why symbolically the offering was rejected and Abel's meat offering--priesthood, temples, sacrifices--was in.

Human language did not come from the Tower of Babel. We know better than that. I joined the National Geographic Genome Project five or six years ago, which simply meant for $100 you could spit in a tube, send it to somebody and they would give you your DNA route out of Africa over the last 160,000 years.

It's in my spit. It's in your spit. It proves to me that the story is not literally true. We didn't come from that.

And it was never written to be taken literally. As I say, Scripture can never mean what it never meant.

Paul died before the Gospels

Another thing I addressed was who is the apostle Paul. Why does the apostle Paul, who writes most of the New Testament--and it's not written by the 12 so-called followers of Jesus--why does the apostle Paul never quote Jesus, never heard a story about Jesus, never tell a tale about Jesus or a teaching about Jesus?

Why did the apostle Paul sometimes say we don't know how to pray, but, don't worry, the Holy Spirit can moan and peep and utter for you, instead of saying remember what Jesus said: Our Father, who art in heaven?

The bottom line is that Paul never met Jesus. Paul's writings come first before the Gospels. Paul had lived and died before the Gospels were ever written. Paul never knew an earthly Jesus.

The Jesus that Paul knew was in his head, hallucinatory, cosmic, almost gnostic. The Gospels then came along, fleshed out Jesus, by using the Old Testament, not by what they knew about Him as a person, but using Old Testament scriptures.

Matthew and his birth narrative eight times describe events in the birth of Jesus and eight times go to the Old Testament to find a scripture that will tell that story. Eight times Matthew makes the Scripture mean what the Jewish writer never meant it to mean.

Midrash, an acceptable way

Eight times Matthew goes back to the Old Testament, misquotes it, makes it mean what it never meant, quotes part of a scripture and leaves off the rest--to tell a story. It's called midrash, and it's an acceptable way to write a story that you don't know.

The birth stories were inserted long after the Gospel itself was written to counteract the idea that Jesus was born of fornication.

That was a big tale being told at that time, and they simply needed to write a story about His birth that was spectacular. The problem is that when you study Matthew's story and Luke's story they don't match.

If Matthew had read Luke he wouldn't have written his story. We're so used to putting them together like this in the Christmas story that we don't see that they don't match.

You can't flee to Egypt for two years and come back and in the same story after 40 days go home to Nazareth. There are scores of contradictions in those stories. They are not the same story.

People say the Gospel accounts are eyewitness accounts, just four people seeing something differently, just like you'd see an accident differently.

But that's not true. Mark is probably the first Gospel. Matthew copies over 90 percent verbatim from Mark for his Gospel. That's not an eyewitness. That's a copier. Luke copies over 50 percent. That's not an eyewitness. That's another copier.

John is kind of on his own.

Disharmony of the Gospels

But the Gospel accounts--

I took a class from Rod Meredith called the Harmony of the Gospels. If I could take it again I would remind him it's the Disharmony of the Gospels. They don't match.

The resurrection stories don't match. They are different stories told by different people about things they probably knew precious little about.

But they had meaning. Don't misunderstand me. They have meaning. But these stories don't have the meaning that many fundamentalist churches assign to them.

Why does the Bible contain false prophecy? Who was the apostle Paul? What kind of Pharisee has Roman citizenship? That's unheard of. That'd be like President Obama belonging to al-Qaeda, and some people think he does.

Pharisees aren't Roman citizens. They hated Romans. Why does the apostle Paul--who said I was the smartest pencil in the box, I had the best teacher, I was above my fellows, I was a Pharisee of Pharisees--why does he dozens of times in his writings in the New Testament misquote the Old Testament and use the Greek to do it?

Is 'seed' plural or not?

There's no evidence the apostle Paul even knows Hebrew. He never uses it, and when he goes back to the Greek text he misquotes it. He makes scriptures mean what they never meant--to tell his story.

I'll give you one of the better examples. In Galatians Paul is trying to make gentiles the children of Abraham. He's trying to turn the father of circumcision into the father of the uncircumcised, because that's his idea. That's what he wants to do. He says the promise is to you and to your seed.

He says notice it doesn't say seeds; it's not plural. He says the promise is to you and your seed and that seed is Christ, and he's definitely trying to show that the word seed is singular.

To which I say, well, it's like sheep. Feed My sheeps? It's a plural word, and in the context where Abraham is told the promise is to you, Abraham, and to your seed it means to you and to your generations to come. It doesn't mean Christ.

We can say, well, he was making an analogy, but Paul would turn the Old Testament on its head. He turned Sarah into Hagar and Hagar into Sarah. He turned Sarah into the anti-law and--

It was just confusion--because he was trying to tell a story, which is okay, except why does a Pharisee of Pharisees so misquote the book when he said he was the smartest person in his class?

It's not just me. Many scholars wonder who is Paul. The apostle Paul is the author of gentile, Sunday-keeping, typical Christianity in the Western world, not Jesus.

The joke's on Peter

Jesus and Paul wouldn't agree. James and Paul wouldn't agree. The politics of the New Testament is fascinating. For example, every time John refers to the apostle Peter he links him to Judas.

I'll give you one example just before I close here, the story of Ananias and Sapphira.

That story is lost on us today. It was a joke. It was a slam against Peter by Luke, who was Paul's scribe.

We all know the story. A couple promises to give all their money to the church and, when push comes to shove, hold back some of it. Peter caught them, said how dare you. The Holy Spirit is going to strike you dead. And he killed them.

Even as a kid I thought that's an odd story. I mean, didn't anybody say where's Sapphira, my mom? Didn't anybody say my sister Sapphira came to church and she never came home? Didn't the Romans ever say you can't kill people in church and get away with that?

So what's the point of this story? It's a joke against Peter, and the readers of Acts would have got the humor. We don't. We think it's a threat not to pull back on your promises.

The purpose of the story is to inform the people of Paul who don't like Peter and don't think he's qualified to lead the church.

Here's a couple who said they'd do one thing and didn't who were killed by the great leader Peter, who we don't think is a leader at all, who said he would do one thing, never leave Jesus, and did another: betrayed him, denied him. Ha ha ha.

And the audience would say ha ha ha, you're right. Peter's just as guilty as this couple.

I don't personally think anybody was killed that day. I think it was a joke to show the church that the father of the book of Acts and Paul's gentile version of it that Peter was not to be followed.

Paul learned nothing from the pillars

Paul wasn't kidding in Galatians, and it took me 25 years to read it properly. I learned nothing from Peter, James and John, reputed pillars in the church, said Paul. Who they are makes no difference to me. I learned nothing from them.

How can a man not learn anything from the people who spent three years with Jesus? And why don't those men write this story? They disappear.

Those questions to me are important. Who is the apostle Paul? I don't think he is who the book says he is. There are several times where I think you can catch Paul in a lie.

I think several times in the book of Acts Luke tries to paste it over and show that they were like this when in the book of Galatians the apostle Paul says that's not what happened:

I didn't see anything on the Damascus road. That didn't happen to me. I was called from my mother's womb.

That's what Paul says in Galatians. I was called from my mother's womb, and there are only two other people in the Bible who had that distinction: Jesus and Jeremiah.

I don't believe the Damascus story is true. If it's true I think it's the symptoms of a man with temporal-lobe epilepsy.

Fascinating evolution

Reg Killingley: With the first question we will start with Mr. Diehl. The question is: What is your belief or your position on origins, in particular human origins?

Dennis Diehl: My bottom-line belief is that evolution is true, and that's of all life. I've been with people that have convinced me. It's not a minor thing.

That's not to disregard the book of Genesis. The book of Genesis simply was not written to be a treatise on where all life comes from.

Evolution is true. That's not intimidating to me. It's absolutely fascinating to me that there was a point in history where human beings, we, became conscious.

For 200,000 years Neanderthals ruled Europe during the ice age. They were like us, but they weren't us. We have a common ancestor. They went this way, and we went that way, and eventually met in Europe, where we, who had more consciousness, wiped them off the face of the earth.

In 200,000 years Neanderthals never changed a tool. They were present people. They had no consciousness. They didn't plan for tomorrow. They barely buried their dead. They lived in the moment. Not a bad idea, right?

But human beings have consciousness that developed because we could finally speak, and 3,000 years ago when we could write we became conscious because we could remember.

Human beings--we--are conscious. What is consciousness? Why are we aware that we're aware?

But that's where I say I hope that I am a spirit trapped in a limited five-sensed carbon-based wet suit. I hope that's true. I like to believe that's true, that I'm not just a hairless ape.

My DNA tells me I originated in Africa. I would love to tell the Klan, the Ku Klux Klan, that they all originated in Africa about 160,000 years ago.

Men have lots of ribs

Women didn't come from the rib of a man in the story because it's close to his heart. They came from the rib of a man because men had lots of ribs. They wouldn't miss one, because women in the Old Testament, and often in the New Testament, are property. They belong to the man.

When I realized this I quit doing wedding ceremonies where I said who gives this woman. It was always: I do. My father does. I could tolerate her mother and I do, but I couldn't tolerate any more the idea that Dad owns his daughter and now he's passing her off as property.

Is science absolutely true on all things? No. It's still a theory. But just because it's a theory doesn't mean it's not true.

The resurrection is a theory. The Kingdom of God is a theory. You can't prove it. You can believe it. But a belief isn't a truth. A belief is a belief. Sometimes faith is what we have until the facts come along. For me I've gained some facts that have changed my faith.

Spiritual and curious

Do I not have faith? No. I have a lot of faith. Am I not spiritual? I'm very spiritual. But I am also curious. I also want to know why is it that way. I've been that way since I was a kid. When my friends were playing hockey in New York I was in the library.

The Bible story is a wonderful story, and it has purpose, but that doesn't negate the fact that science is telling, for the most part, the truth about human origins. We've learned more in the last 20 years than the previous 500 about human origins.

I'm also fascinated with theology.

So that's as quick as I can tell you about origins. You're a hairless ape with consciousness.

Ron Moseley: I have hair.

Reg Killingley: Thank you, Mr. Diehl, and the same question to Mr.--or I should say Dr.?--Mokarow as well.

New Testament more authentic

Ron Moseley: You know, I thought we were going to get to challenge what he said.

Reg Killingley: Please feel free to challenge.

Ron Moseley: Well, I shall, then.

Again, one of the reasons that I studied in Jerusalem is because I could study with the Jews who study the life of Jesus more than Christians from a tradition study Him.

At Hebrew University at Mount Scopus they use the New Testament as the document from which they instruct concerning the Pharisees of the 1st century, because they have a belief in its authenticity compared with other writings.

The richest history of Jesus' period is in something that some people would love to pooh-pooh and say it's not accurate because it was written by Jews later.

But you have to understand the Jewish mind-set: to set a thing down meticulously. From 200 B.C.E., or B.C., to 200 C.E., or A.D., is the richest 400 years about Jesus, the temple and all of their beliefs because this is in the Mishnah, and it was written 200 A.D.

It's a compilation of everything known. It'll give you every detail about these things.

Now, with that said, concerning Paul: It's not unheard of that someone could be a Roman citizen and be a Hebrew or a Jew or a Pharisee. There are 26 different groups in the 1st century including the Herodians and the Zealots.

Remember the Roman centurion. He wasn't a centurion for the Razorbacks, but he was a centurion for Rome. I would assume he'd have to be a Roman citizen who bought the synagogue at Capernaum, who was a God-fearer. Cornelius was a God-fearer, but he was a Roman citizen.

Paul, raised in Tarsus, was a Roman citizen, but he was a man who studied under Gamaliel. You cannot study under those guys any more than I could go to the Hebrew University without knowing Hebrew, unless you go to the American section.

13 or 14 generations

Let's look at the narratives. One of the birth narratives says there's 14 generations, and skeptics would say there's 14 generations of Jesus' genealogy from the captivity until Christ. One says there are 13.

At first glance that is a contradiction. But there's no contradiction. One was given from the time they left Israel. Another is given from the time they left Babylon, or they got in Babylon.

The point of it is the reason they use 14. Every Hebrew letter has a number. Dalet vav dalet, D V D. D is David. Anytime you see that in 1st-century Pharisee literature you're going to realize that it's saying this individual came in the lineage of the son of David.

That was their whole point. They did not attempt to list everyone because it lists his grandfather and then lists the grandson as his son. This was commonly done.

Another good thing about the genealogy that used to throw me a loop until I looked at it: It says that Mary's father was Heli and that Joseph's father was Jacob. Then another Gospel says that Mary's father was Jacob. Which is it?

In Judaism we find that old Jacob had no sons, so therefore, when he married Mary, Joseph became the son of not only Jacob but of Jacob and Heli. So he became like a son-in-law but he was considered a son.

Reg Killingley: For the next question you [Mr. Mokarow and Dr. Moseley] are first.

Art Mokarow: But I want to go back to the first one.

Reg Killingley: Okay. Well, let me just read the question, and it's your choice on how you wish to answer it.

Art Mokarow: All right. Maybe I can wrap them together.

Reg Killingley: That's right. And the question is: Why do we think or believe that the 66 books of the Bible that is there on your table are the inspired written Word of God?

Why believe?

Art Mokarow: I want to deal a little bit with the Sumerian history. I've gone into history thoroughly. I could teach any history class in the United States--overall. I know it altogether. I also know paleontology because Dr. [James] Tabor and I work on archaeology together.

I want to tell you what science is. Science is human guessing with mathematical probability. I've discussed it with other scientists, and the real top ones that I've talked to all agree.

You start with a hypothesis, which means a guess. It's what's called Babylon in the Bible. Babylon really means a mix or division.

The reason God had to divide them and separate them according to their own inheritance was because if they were together they would have ended up like the Noachian flood in violence and war.


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