Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just in Time Homework

This past semester I tried something new. I was teaching two introductory physics classes, one the first semester course (taken by physics, math, chemistry and engineering students) and the other was the third semester course, taken by physics majors only.

The traditional model is to give one assignment a week, or even every two weeks, with 10-15 problems.

This time I gave a small assignment (3-5 problems) after every class, due the next class.

I called this (but am not claiming to have invented the term) "Just in time" homework. The idea was that it would help/force the students to stay caught up.

I think it worked. A larger than normal percentage of the students completed all or nearly all of the assignments. And on the student evaluations if they mentioned it (JIT Homework) at all, they mentioned it favorably.

Next semester I am teaching an upper-level and a graduate level E&M class. It will be interesting to see if it works there as well.

By the way, there is a trend to reduce the weight given to homework. I used to make it 30% of the final grade. It is down to 15% and may drop to 10%. The reason: the solution to every problem can be found online. Times change. We try to adapt.

PZ Myers is still an idiot

In his patented, tiny-balled-fists manner of whining, Myers is upset that some atheists have something nice to say about the new pope. He is fuming at the typical mild complement paid to Francis, which is some combination of these observations: Francis appears to be less conservative,  to show more interest in the downtrodden, to be more inclusive, to be less harsh, to be less dogmatic, and to have shed many of the ornate trappings of his office.

That will not do for the no-shades-of-gray lidless-eyed Myers. You are either with Myers or you are very wrong. Myers writes:

I’ll believe people who tell me that Pope Francis is different when I see him demonstrating that he actually understands the import of evolution, that there was no guiding influence, that humans are a product of chance and natural selection, and that we aren’t any more special to the universe than a sea slug. And the only thing that would demonstrate that is an open repudiation of all of Catholic doctrine, which I don’t quite see the Pope doing.
Imagine the nearly unthinkable stupidity of such a statement. Forget about all the distinctives casual observers, including atheists, are noting in Francis's papacy. To Myers those do not constitute a real difference. Francis must capitulate totally on the question of evolution (and everything else) before he is at all different from his predecessors. It is really no different from Myers saying: I'll believe the pope is different when he acknowledges that he is not a theist.

  • I'll believe you are a different kind of Republican when you are a Democrat.
  • I'll believe you are a different kind of American when when you renounce your citizenship.


I'll say this: Myers is a different kind of scientist.

Facts O' Fun Update

A comment on this Shadow to Light post has caused be to make an addition to the Internet Atheist Facts O' Fun.

The Our Secretary (but not your Secretary) will Disavow Rule:
Atheists have no leaders. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc. are just famous people with intelligent, critical readers. At the very most, primarily as a courtesy, you might call them fans.  But if, for example, Dawkins says or does something beyond the pale of atheist orthodoxy embarrassing, why  it's all on him. Christians, however, have leaders. Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Ken Ham, just to name a few--these all are bona fide Christian leaders. If they say or do something embarrassing (when don't they?) it reflects on all Christians. Because they are Christian leaders and spokesmen and all Christians are their loyal followers and sheeple.

The Gospel according to Enoch

The Old Testament is in some sense a collection of gospel hide-and-seek stories. You can find the gospel in places you don't expect it. (And of course there is the risk of "seeing" it where it was not intended--judge for yourself.)

In Genesis 5 we read:
Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. 
Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. 
Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. 
Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. 
Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. 
Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. 
23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. 
Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.
Clearly Enoch must have been a good man. A pious man. A holy man. A righteous man. He alone escaped death. God just whisked him away; a rapture of one.

No, that is wrong. Not the conclusion, necessarily, but the reasoning. Enoch avoided death not because of his merit, but because it pleased God to show mercy. This does not mean the "and he died" majority was collectively lost, it simply means that God has decided to give us the gospel:
  • Our fate, all of us is death
  • God will have mercy on some, and from our perspective it will be for no particular reason.
Why Enoch? Well, why you? Why me? We all, who are adopted children,  are an Enoch.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pet Peeve du jour

My pet peeve today is about the restaurant chain Panera Bread. Its business model seems to be:

  • Slow service
  • High prices
  • Bus your own table

The annoying thing is that their business model seems to work.

Another practice I find annoying in Panera Bread, or Starbucks, or any coffee shop: move your derrière! Why, I've applied for mortgages faster than some people can get their coffee "just right." Get out of the way already!

A Short Lesson on the Mosaic Law


In my mind there are three big theological debates.

  1. The Great Theological Debate is over the doctrine of Justification. For the first millennium the Catholic Church pretty much got it right. Then they started down the path of a complicated penitential system which ultimately, in the view of the reformers, became the tail wagging the dog, and so a half a millennium later we split over the issue.
  2. The Great “way too much energy has been spent here” debate is over the end times. I’m not saying eschatology is not important—I’m saying that it is not and should not be the line-in-the-sand issue many people take it to be.
  3. The third debate is over the law. What Old Testament laws are still in effect? The answer varies from none, not even the 10 Commandments to all of them. This is the greatest debate over the practical application of our salvation. This is tough.
There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ, as stating the precise agreement and difference between the two dispensations of Moses and Christ. –Jonathan Edwards

Today we’ll try to put the tiniest scratch on the surface of the debate over the Law.

Is God’s Law Absolute?

 3 “‘If the anointed priest sins… he must bring to the LORD a young bull … as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. 4 He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the LORD. (Lev 4:3-4).

So here (and elsewhere) in the OT God commanded: If the people/priests sin, there must be an animal sacrificed.

Today sacrificing an animal to deal with sin would be an abomination.
  • What was moral has become immoral.
  • What was right is now wrong.

In this one case, at least, the law has surely changed—setting the precedent that laws do change. The question of law-changing will not be of the trivial yes/no end-of-the-story variety but: which laws change?

God’s Law is evidently not absolute in the sense that it never changes. Because it certainly does change. It is absolute in the sense that there is no moral relativism: If at this time and in these circumstances it is a sin for me to do X, then it is a sin for anyone in the same time and circumstances to do X.

More from Leviticus

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death;  (Lev 20:13)

What can we say about this law?

       It is a commandment. It appears intended to stand for some duration (how long?).  God is not making an exception--it is not situational ethics. God is not saying: Do not summarily execute practicing homosexuals unless they are flamboyant or corner the market on all the nice city apartments.

       Furthermore the commandment appears to be, arguably, moral in nature as opposed to civil or ceremonial. A plain reading of Lev 20:13 is: Homosexual activity is immoral to the point of being an abomination. Kill them

What do suppose the most difficult criticism addressed to us from atheists is, concerning Lev. 20:13? I would say it is this, from a comment on an atheist blog:

If you really want to see the most honest adaptation of what the bible and Christianity really stands for, go to [Fred] Phelps

The criticism here is not the common criticism that we are homophobic. It is more subtle.  The criticism is that we don’t call for their execution. The criticism is that we are all “cafeteria Christians,” picking à la carte the verses we like while ignoring the ones that are inconvenient. We are being told: if you actually followed your bible, you'd be even more hideous than you are now.

How do we answer such a critics? If we believe the bible is the word of god why don’t we follow Lev. 20:13? 

To understand the different views on the law it is necessary to set in place a framework. That framework depends on your systematic theology.

Three Systematic Theologies

We quickly introduce three systematic theologies—the first two (Dispensationalism and Covenant) are well known and prosperous. The third, (New Covenant), is a fledging movement gaining a head of steam, mostly among Reformed Baptists.

Now you may say: “not me, I’m none of those, and I detest labels.” To which I say “phooey.” Unless you are totally self-taught in a vacuum you have been influenced by teachers who were schooled either in either dispensational or covenant theology.


The essence of Dispensationalism, is the distinction between Israel and the Church. This grows out of the dispensationalists' consistent employment of normal or plain interpretation, and it reflects an understanding of the basic purpose of God in all His dealings with mankind as that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes as well. -- Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today

Three points unique to Dispensationalism
  1. A clear and utter distinction between Israel and the Church
  2. A commitment to an as-literal-as-possible hermeneutic
  3. A complex end-times view including the Rapture and an earthly millennial kingdom where Christ rules and God’s attention returns to the Jews.

Covenant Theology

From the Westminster Confession:

The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam… upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ…

…There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations. (WCF Chapter 7)

Paraphrased: There is one (and only one) overarching covenant of grace in place from the time of the fall. This same covenant is manifested differently at different periods in redemptive history.

New Covenant Theology

NCT Views the OT and NT periods as “type v. realized” or “old v. new and better.” That is, old laws (Mosaic) v. new and better (Sermon on the Mount); old priesthood (Aaronic) v. new and better priesthood (Jesus’) and the old covenant v. the new and better covenant. In some sense it is intermediate between Dispensational and Covenant theology.


All views should be regarded as Christian. All views arrive at the same place: resurrected saints of all ages living in a new heavens and a new earth.

Continuity in the three frameworks

The three theologies differ on how much continuity they ascribe to redemptive history.  This turns out to be important.

Classic Dispensationalism emphasizes change (discontinuity) with its (typically) seven distinct dispensations:
1.  Innocence—Pre-fallen Man
2.  Conscience—From the fall to the flood
3.  Government—From the flood until the Abrahamic Covenant
4.  Promise—From Abraham until Moses
5.  Law—From the institution of Mosaic Law until Calvary
6.  Grace—From the cross until the Millennial Kingdom (we are here!)
7. Millennial Kingdom1000 year reign of Christ

Covenant Theology is the most continuous in that it views the old and new covenants merely as different administrations of a single covenant of grace. Continuity is stressed by Covenant Theologians.

Thus the spectrum is bounded by the highly discontinuous Dispensationalism and the highly continuous Covenant Theology.

New Covenant Theology takes an intermediate position, viewing Christ’s ministry, culminating with the resurrection, as a single large discontinuity between the old and new.

Roughly (crudely) speaking we can view this graphically:

What Laws are still in effect?

Verse wars are inconclusive. For every

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  (Math 5:17)

There is a

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (Eph. 2:14-15).

or a

12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Heb. 7:12)

Hmm. If Matt 5:17 does not mean that the laws are not void, what does it mean?

The Law and/or the Prophets is what Jesus would have called the Old Testament. Notice that including “prophets” and using “fulfill”, the same Greek word used throughout the NT to indicate fulfilled prophecy, and not the word used to indicate obeying laws or commandments) does not quite fit with the viewpoint that this passage means:

Do not think I have come to abolish the laws. I have come to perfectly obey them.

But it does fit with the interpretation:

Do think I have come to set aside the Old Testament. I have come to fulfill its prophecies.

So this viewpoint is that Jesus is emphasizing that he is not some unforeseen God, but exactly the Messiah predicted by the OT. He has come to fulfill the prophecy.

But I say unto you

The heart of the debate comes in The Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus teaches of tension between his teaching and either a) an improper understanding of the Mosaic law or b) the actual Mosaic law. Here we read:

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you..

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery..

We need to look at how the three theologies deal with this tension.

Dispensational View
Consistent with its approach, Dispensationalism views the Mosaic Law as applying to biblical Israel, while the Sermon on the Mount is the new rule of life for the millennial kingdom, and Paul’s teaching is the rule of life for the church. (They do not deny that the Sermon on the Mount is profitable for the church).

There are then differences of opinion as to whether Paul teaches that the Ten Commandments are still binding, or whether they have be abrogated. But that is a question and debate regarding what is Paul teaching; there is agreement that his teaching (whatever it might be) and not Jesus’ is what is binding for the church.

Covenant View
Here Covenant Theology struggles a bit to maintain its commitment to continuity. Its solution is to break the law into three types:
  1. ceremonial (what the priests did)
  2. civil (crimes and punishment in a theocracy) and
  3. moral (the Ten Commandments)
All Covenant Theologians assert that the ceremonial laws were nullified. All Covenant theologians agree that the moral laws are still in effect. However there is disagreement on the issue of the civil laws. Mainstream Covenant Theologians contend that these laws are also nullified. But another group argues that they are not—that only the ceremonial laws are out. This group, known as theonomists (or reconstructionists) advocates the establishment of a Christian theocracy that institutes the civil laws including the death penalty.

Because the moral law continues, Covenant Theology views the Sermon on the Mount as a clarification of the Ten Commandments and/or a correction of pharisaical distortions.

There are two major problems with the Covenant view:
  1. The bible does not speak of three types of laws.
  2. It doesn’t appear that Jesus is correcting the Pharisees. For one thing, he quotes the 10 Commandments exactly: You have heard it said you shall not comment adultery. This is exactly what is written on the stones. Where is the bad teaching that he is correcting? In Matt. 23 Jesus uses the construct “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees” seven times.  He is not shy about calling them out. If he is correcting the Pharisees in the Sermon on the Mount, where is the “woe to you..” that we might expect?

Recognizing the lack of evidence that Jesus is correcting pharisaical distortions, some Covenant theologians argue that v21, You have heard that it was said to those of old,  should actually be translated You have heard that it was said by those of old. The common translation (to) seems to refer to Moses’ teaching the ancient Israelites—which seems to pit Jesus’ teaching against Moses’, while the latter, less accepted translation (by) allows for the interpretation that men of old (but not Moses) had already been distorting the commandments. It is hard not to imagine this as a clumsy way to prop up a viewpoint.

New Covenant View
In stark contrast to both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, NC views all Old Testament law, including the Ten Commandments, to be nullified. The replacement is the law given by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount with details provided in the Pauline corpus. This is consistent with the New Covenant prescription of Old, the New and Better:

There is an old covenant,
There is a new and better covenant,
administered by an older priesthood (Aaronic),
administered by a new and better priesthood (Jesus),
In an old temple,
In a new an better temple (Jesus),
with old laws (Mosaic)
with new and better laws (The Sermon on the Mount)

The New Covenant View has the feature that it is consistent with the view that the OT uses types (foreshadowings) to point to the reality more fully revealed in the NT. It also has the advantage that is language, in every case, is in the text, where things “three types of law” and “one overarching covenant” must be inferred.

Here is the same story graphically:


Covenant Theology:

New Covenant:

Back to Leviticus

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death;  (Lev 20:13)

So, how do you answer our critics?

Dispensational answer:  It varies. The typical response is that it that the law is for a bygone dispensation. The Sermon on the Mount is the new Jewish law for the millennium. Paul gives the law for the church, and that law does not call for the death penalty. So no, we should not  execute homosexuals.

Covenant Answer: This is a civil law. So either a) it is still in effect and should be enforced (theonomic viewpoint) or b) the civil laws along with the ceremonial laws are nullified. But in any case the 10 commandments are still binding.

New Covenant Answer: The Old Testament Law, it its entirety, has been replaced by a new and better law, from Christ, the perfect law giver. This is not an insult to Moses any more than Christ’s priesthood is an insult to Aaron or the New Covenant is an insult to the Old. The Sermon on the Mount does not reinstitute the death penalty for various sins—so no, we should not execute homosexuals. Jesus himself encountered people whose crimes were capital offenses under the Mosaic law—including those in adultery and blasphemers—and he never called for a death penalty.

In my opinion, the New Covenant view on the law is the most consistent with scripture.

The Internet Atheist Facts O' Fun

My first post is a repost from my old blog. If you've seen it before, then you'll know who I am. If you haven't seen it before--then you won't. But you might like it anyway.

The Internet Atheist Facts O' Fun

1. The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.

2. The Pharyngulyte Corollary to the Law of the Converts: The more the atheist's deconversion was due to encountering someone similar to a Revrun' Mike, a prototypical Baptist minister who wears a white suit, chews tebaccy, routinely preaches on evilution and miscegenation, and instructs young children (under six, when they're impressionable) with explicit images of unimaginable torture in hell (which they must color in Sunday School), the more credible and weighty is the testimony.

3. The Law of the Biblical Knowledge: Atheists in general know more about the bible than Christians—who in fact only read certain parts of their so-called holy book.

4. Atheist Biblical Inerrancy: Internet atheists have a form of biblical inerrancy which goes like this:  The King James Version of the bible mentions unicorns. Therefore, ipso facto,  quid pro quo,  quod erat demonstrandum, the biblical writers believed in mythical one-horned horses guess they missed Noah’s boarding call, ha ha!!  Any attempt to go back to the biblical Hebrew to investigate the word, or to suggest that the KJV translators, four centuries ago, might have used unicorn as something different than the modern picture of a mythical creature is, of course, heresy. All biblical text and translations (the older the better) must be interpreted without concern for the possibility of anachronism.

5. The Law of the Biblical Scholars: Atheist biblical scholars are credible because they have no agenda. Christian biblical scholars lack credibility because they have an agenda.

6. Jack Chick Developed Our Curriculum Myth: This is the certain knowledge among many internet atheists that we get our kindergarten Sunday School materials from Jack Chick. That we send four-year-olds off to class and they return with nicely colored pictures (stay in the lines, Billy-Bob, like your sister/cousin/aunt Billie-Bob did!) of sinners in hell screaming in agony—dancing in flames while being skewered by ferocious demons. And there, lording over the entire scene, Satan is laughing, and saying: “it all started when they were bad children who sassed their mammas!”  And not just Satan, the picture also shows saints in heaven laughing and thoroughly enjoying the punishment of the damned! Why, we keep the Crayola factory running day and night with our insatiable demand for red, orange and yellow crayons.

7. Stay in the Closet Rule: One of the verses at the fingertips of every internet atheist is Matt. 6:6: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Oh noes, where dat come from?) The atheist apologist will plunk this gotcha verse down knowing we never read it (see #3. The Law of the Biblical Knowledge.) It will be applied to any instance of public prayer in this manner: Stupid christoidjits don't even read their own babble! No nuance is permitted. It cannot be, as the context suggests to some, that this is a reference to personal petitions and confession, not corporate prayer. And of course the fact Jesus himself prays in public (e.g., Matt 19:13, Luke 3:31, esp. John 17) as do the apostles on numerous occasions (Paul, alone, more than 20 times) must never be interpreted that maybe, just maybe Matt. 6:6 is not a blanket prohibition of all praying in public. For Dawkins's sake, may it never be! No, these counter-examples are only allowed to be applied to the theory that babble is full of inconsistencies.

8. The Super-duper Paul of Tarsus View: Atheists often attribute the Apostle Paul with powers far beyond what Christians grant. To wit: it is often suggested that he a) did not exist. And yet in spite of  not actually being real he managed to b) usurp Christianity, creating an entirely new religion quite different from that taught by Jesus—who by the way probably did not exist either. And c) Paul managed, while not existing, to steal Christianity —through the use of forged letters. Remarkable! In a nutshell the "super Paul" view is that two people who never existed created two distinct religions (fraudulently). Then later fools, who believed in both of these non-entities, merged their contradictory teachings into a franken-religion.

9. The Universe is Atheio-centric: This is the myth that Christians obsess over atheists, think about them all the time, are afraid of them,  hate them, irrationally demand their respect, and tremble at the thought of their ridicule.  The truth of course is that we rarely think of them, are not afraid of them, don’t hate them, and wish only that if they criticize us they do it intelligently or at least with humor. Dear Dawkins, the look we give you when you say “if god invented  everything, then who invented god?” or “religion ruins everything” is not one of fear or hate or anger or puzzlement, it is a look of boredom. And no, we don’t obsess over you. When I hear atheists mentioned in church it is usually along the lines of Christians need to behave better; our behavior should distinguish us from the atheist, but it doesn’t. And really—try to remember that you are not as famous as you think—the real world is not the internet. My church is made up of educated people—lawyers and NASA engineers, teachers and shipbuilders.  I suspect I am the only person in the church who has heard of PZ Myers, even though he is “so famous” that  Sam Harris (now of him we have heard, and also Dawkins, but who is this Myers? Who is this Coyne?) correctly dubbed him the “shepherd of internet trolls” and the purveyor of a “odious blog.” That demonstrates a certain internet notoriety—but in the real world it translates to a big fat zero. We wouldn't be afraid of you even if we knew you--which we don't.

10. The Law of the Useful Idiots: Dime-a-dozen atheist Religious Studies professors such as Hector Avalos at Iowa State are useful. Just don't let them know that when we're in charge the first thing on the chopping block will be Religious Studies Departments. 1

11. The Law that Blind Faith is The Ultimate Christian Virtue: Christians are never told to think, only to accept without thinking. Using your brain, they are taught, is not sporting. Those pesky Bereans are never a model for actual Christians. And never mind that those praised for their faith in the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11) had no need for blind faith since they spoke to God, demanded proof of God, and witnessed miracles. (This is also known as the Tom Gilson is Neither Law.)

12. The Law of Bright Darkness: The worse the behavior of a Christian, the more honest the Christian is. For example, this comment from a reader on Ed Brayton's blog:
If you really want to see the most honest adapation [sic] of what the bible and Christianity really stands far if you follow the most literal interpretation of the bible, go to Phelps.
13. The I-Say-Therefore-I-Am Law: Questioning the sincerity of self-identified Christians such as Fred Phelps (or the Big H—-you know, that guy with the funny little mustache) is immediately dismissed as a No True Scotsman Fallacy. The definition of a Christian is: "anyone who claims they are a Christian."

14. You are a credit to your race exception to the I-Say-Therefore-I-Am Law: Any self-identified Christian who sufficiently diverges from the atheist ideal of a Christian is an "outlier" and not a True Christian in the same sense that, say, Fred Phelps is.

15. Atheist "No it's not sauce for the gander" exemption from the I-Say-Therefore-I-Am Law: Anyone questioning the atheism of an inconvenient self-proclaimed atheist is granted blanket immunity from the No True Scotsman Fallacy. It's only fair.

16. The Ipso Facto No Atheist Is That Bad Law: Stalin and Mao were not atheists. They were demigods of the religions Stalinism and Maoism. We know this because mass murder on such a scale can only be committed by religionists.

17. The Law of "When Ken Ham is right, he is really right!: YECs like Ken Ham are the dumbest jackasses in the world. Except when they interpret Genesis One. For that single chapter in the bible they are exegetical savants. Any Christian who disagrees is a cafeteria Christian.

18 The Coyne Corollary to the Law of Ken Ham: Ken Ham is also correct in his claim that modern science and Christianity are incompatible.

19. The Law that Logical Proofs regarding God are like Diodes: All logical proofs for God are trivially wrong 2. However, the construction:

P1: God is omnipotent.
P2: God is omnibenevolent.
P3: Human suffering exists.
C1: Therefore P1 and/or P2 is wrong.
C2: Therefore God does not exist.

is bulletproof.

20. The Law of the Atheist Hermeneutic: The most important verse in the bible is "Judge not, lest ye be judged." This means that Christians cannot judge Fred Phelps (for example) to be apostate. How dare they! As for the verses that follow (don't give what is holy to dogs, pearls before swine,--verses that would seem to presuppose judging) as well as the verses which seem to indicate how they are to judge (by their fruit) —and also those verses that describe excommunication—which again presupposes judging--well for Christians to bring those up is disingenuous. And not very sporting.

21. The Ruby Tuesday Law: The second most important passage in the bible is
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."
This means that the only reason Christians don't call for stoning of blasphemers or condone slavery is that they are cafeteria Christians. Arguments that this passage means anything other than "All Levitical Laws are still in effect" are to be dismissed as evasive. Be prepared to dismiss summarily alleged counter-arguments such as:
  • Jesus encountered blasphemers and didn't call for their stoning. 
  • Jesus upgraded the law in the Sermon on the Mount. (To, effectively, not "What Would Jesus Do?" but "What Would Jesus Think?")
  • A phase transition occurred on the cross--it wasn't just an interlude after which things returned to normal.
  • Jesus violated Levitical rules on the handling of lepers and the Sabbath. 
  • Jesus claimed he was Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
  • Peter has a vision telling him to ignore the Levitical food laws. 
  • The church's first council, recorded in the Book of Acts, voided the sacrosanct law regarding circumcision.
  • In the Old Testament animal sacrifices were commanded. In the New Testament  their use for the same purpose would be an abomination.
  • Consider this passage concerning Jesus the new High Priest: For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:12).
  • Consider this passage about Jesus: For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (Eph. 2:14-15)
All these are but red herrings. The full force of the Old Testament law—a law intended for a nation that no longer exists—is still in effect, and only honest Christians like Fred Phelps admit it. All others are cowardly hypocrites.

22. The Law of Small Miracles: All theists believe in the mother-of-all-miracles: that the creative force behind the universe is God. Some such theists (e.g., His Vomitousness, The Bishop John Shelby Spong) are useful tolerable because while they quietly accept this big miracle, they loudly poo-poo what are by comparison itty-bitty miracles, like Jesus walking on water.

23. Irrefutable Proof that Miracles can't happen: Miracles, by definition can't be explained by science. Everything can be explained by science. Therefore miracles can't happen. Because they can't be explained by science. Therefore science and religion are incompatible.

24. The Law of Axiomatic Incompatibility: Science is how we know what we know. Science demands experimental testing. Nothing is exempt from this requirement. Except for The Holy of Holies: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. It has no observable effect. Nobody has ever designed an experiment that demonstrates the incompatibility. But nevertheless it's true axiomatically. Like A = A.

25. The "We Know" axiom: This is a more general case of the Law of Axiomatic Incompatibility. This is a common favorite of internet atheists, as the use of the “we know” axiom is another method that has the advantage of precluding the need for evidence or rational debate. Anything that “we know” is simply—true. You might read, for example, “we know that most of Paul’s letters are forgeries.” (Here is a typical example of this kind of argument.)

26. Up to 30,000 and counting: This is a composite myth that is usually stated something like: There are 30,000 Christian sects each one claiming to know the absolute truth.  (Here is a typical example.) First of all there are not 30,000, but more like 800. The 30,000 comes in part from things like counting independent Baptist churches as separate sects, even though their theology is indistinguishable. Secondly, very few of these sects, only a few on the lunatic fringe, claim to be inerrant. Hell, most people do not agree with every jot and tittle in their own church’s doctrine statement, let alone claim their church has sole ownership of the “absolute truth.” Of course atheists have their own stratification (where the mouth-breathers are  "dictionary atheists" and those who can offer a spirited defense of their atheism are True Atheists™.  And they even sprouted a brand new denomination, Atheism-Plus, with its own iconography and wiki. But that's different. We know.

27. The Our Secretary (but not your Secretary) will Disavow Rule: Atheists have no leaders. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc. They are just famous people with intelligent, critical readers. At the very most, primarily as a courtesy, you might call them fans.  But if, for example, Dawkins says or does something beyond the pale of atheist orthodoxy embarrassing, why  it's all on him. Christians, however, have leaders. Pat Robertson, John Hagee, Ken Ham, just to name a few--these all are bona fide Christian leaders. If they say or do something embarrassing (when don't they?) it reflects on all Christians. Because they are Christian leaders and spokesmen and all Christians are their loyal followers and sheeple.

1 In a broken-clock sort of way, on this I am in agreement.
2 See footnote 1.