(2451) Wikipedia versus God
Human technology has evolved to the point where up-to-date information can be distributed to virtually every person in a matter of seconds. Mistakes can be corrected and new information can be transmitted in this fashion. Given that we know for certain that the Bible contains errors as well as instructions, morals, and prohibitions that are no longer relevant to modern society, why would God allow his critical message to be limited by an ancient text? The following was taken from:
Why does the Bible talk constantly about how to manage slaves, how to kill one’s enemies, and how to avoid making God angry, but there’s not much focus at all on seemingly obvious things like, “Thou Shalt Not Harm a Child”?
When Wikipedia can be updated by a random human, for billions of people in mere seconds, why has God left his book filled with stories of slavery, rape, and genocide from thousands of years ago?
It might be that God is unwilling to magically change the text of billions of Bibles and electronic documents, although this is theoretically within his capability. What we might expect from an actual god would be to introduce to the world a new, inspired text. But since most Christians seem to believe that God does not want to do anything that is clearly supernatural (and so destroy the faith that he seems to crave), it appears that his message will be forever mired in Iron Age justice and morality, while humankind continues to advance and improve, progressively making the Bible less and less relevant over time.
(2452) Rationalizations for failed prayers are invalid
There exists a huge gulf between how the Bible touts the effectiveness and reliability of prayers against how this plays out in real life. Prayers consistently fail, and it is up to Christian apologists to explain this discrepancy. In the following, it is shown that these arguments do not meet any standard of logic:
A favorite Christian rationalization for why God does not answer our prayer to eliminate cancer is because “it would take away free will.” The logic: If you pray and God answers your prayer, then God would have revealed himself to you, and you would know that God exists. That would take away your free will to believe in him. Of course, if this is true, then by default all of Jesus’ statements about prayer in the Bible are false. It means that God cannot answer any prayer. Also, why is a God who must remain hidden like this incarnating himself and writing the Bible?
If Jesus is God, and if God is perfect, why aren’t all of Jesus’s verses about prayer true? Was Jesus exagerating? Was he fibbing? If Jesus is perfect, why wouldn’t he speak the truth? Why doesn’t a prayer to cure cancer worldwide tomorrow work?
Believers have many different ways to explain why all these verses in the Bible do not work, even if you are praying sincerely, unselfishly and non-materialistically, and even if the answer to your prayer would help millions of people and glorify God in the process. They will say things like this:
“You need to understand what Jesus was saying in the context the first century civilization in which he was speaking…”
“When Jesus talked about ‘moving a mountain’, he was speaking metaphorically. When someone says, ‘it is raining cats and dogs,’ no one takes him literally. Jesus was using a figure of speech rather than speaking literally…”
“God is not a thing. He is a being. He has a will. He has desires. He relates to people. He has personality traits. Prayer is a fancy word for talking to God. God, who knows everything, even before we say it, knows the difference between our thoughts and wishes, and when we are actually addressing him. He hears our prayers and responds. His responses are based on his personal decisions. We cannot predict how he will respond to our prayers.”
The primary problem with these rationalizations is that they miss the point. The fact is that God never answers any prayers, as discussed here.
Going one step further, the problem is that all of these rationalizations miss two other important points:
God is supposed to be an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect being.
The statement, “Nothing will be impossible for you”, along with the other Bible verses quoted above, are false. The fact is, lots of things are impossible for you.
If a perfect being is going to make statements about how prayer works in the Bible, then three things are certain: 1) He would speak clearly, 2) he would say what he means, and 3) he would speak the truth. That is what “being perfect” is all about. A perfect, all-knowing God would know that people would be reading the Bible 2,000 years later, and therefore he would not use first-century idioms (he would say what he means). He would know that normal people will be reading the Bible and interpreting it in normal ways, so he would speak in such a way as to avoid mis-interpretation (he would speak clearly). He would know that when you say, “Nothing will be impossible for you”, that what it means is, “Nothing will be impossible for you” and he would make sure that the statement “Nothing will be impossible for you” is accurate (he would speak the truth). If God says it, it should be true — otherwise he is not perfect.
Unfortunately, the fact is that thousands of things are impossible for you no matter how much you pray, and no one (including Jesus) has ever moved a mountain.
In order to see the truth, you need to accept the fact that all of the above verses are wrong. The fact is, God does not answer prayers. The reason why God does not answer your prayers is simple: God is imaginary.
Generally speaking, when you choose between a tangled weave of complicated and internally-inconsistent rationalizations versus a simple explanation, the latter is likely to be true. God is not real explains everything perfectly.
(2453) Insanity in the Bible
Sometimes it takes only a single example to demonstrate that the Bible could not be the work of the creator of the universe. The following indicates a level of insanity that could attributed only to a sick human mind:
If you are a Christian, let me ask you something: Have you ever read the Bible and noticed how much insanity it contains?
Here is a very simple example in Exodus 31:
14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death
Did they really stone people to death for something as silly as working on the Sabbath? According to Numbers 15 they did:
32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.
What kind of “god” would behave this way, demanding death for something so trivial? The answer is easy: an imaginary god made up by deranged people in a primitive, pre-scientific society.
Is insane the right word? The dictionary defines the word insanity in this way:
extreme folly or unreasonableness; something utterly foolish or unreasonable
Is it utterly foolish and unreasonable to kill someone because they collect wood on the wrong day of the week? Of course it is.
I would ask you to consider this new way of thinking: Understand and accept that a great number of the ideas, rules, decrees, etc. found in the Bible can be best described as insane. Become a rational, objective person and accept this obvious conclusion, instead of avoiding it or trying to apologize your way around the insanity.
What makes this even more hideous is that Moses was reluctant to execute the man, perhaps because he didn’t see it as being an appropriate punishment, but the Lord, who should be the civilized character in this drama, demanded the death penalty. It matters not that this insane story was obviously fictional, but rather that it appears in the Bible at all.
(2454) Assessing Christianity’s claim to be based on love
One of the most durable assertions of Christian followers it that their’s is a religion of love. This seems to be based on the promise that a (potentially small) subset of humanity will be ‘saved’ from the just punishment for their sins and given a wondrous life in heaven. But it dismisses practically everything else. The following was taken from:
Christians ALWAYS claim that Christianity is a religion of love and Jesus’ or God’s love features prominently in Christian apologetics. As a child attending junior ministry, I struggled to reconcile this idea of Christianity being a religion of love with the contents of the Bible.
The Old Testament shows us love when God commits multiple acts of genocide. These acts of love include (but are not limited to):
- wiping out almost the entire population of planet Earth in a massive flood and saving only Noah and his family,
- killing the first born children of Egyptian families,
- the genocide of the Canaanites,
- death by fire and plague for Jews that defy God’s commands.
We can also look at the actions of Christians themselves to determine whether Christianity is a religion of love:
- Christians lovingly burnt Jews and heretics a the stake during the Inquisition.
- Christians lovingly beheaded Jewish and Muslim children before sending them home to their parents after forcefully baptizing them into the Christian faith during the crusade.
- Christians lovingly burned at the stake those suspected of witchcraft.
- Up until the late 1800s, American and British Christians lovingly executed homosexuals, usually by hanging. And while state executions of homosexuals have been abolished, many Christians still petition “Christian goverments” to reintroduce the death penalty for homosexuality. Most notably, American Christians petitioned the Christian government of Uganda to introduce the death penalty for homosexuality.
- Classical Canon Law lovingly mandated the death penalty for anyone guilty of apostasy or of voluntarily leaving the Christian faith. Classical Canon Law, of course, became an important source for later secular laws, and as a result, apostasy remained a capital crime throughout much of Europe up until the the mid-1800s (although it is debatable as to how frequently these laws were actually used).
- Today, millions of Americans are forced to live without health care coverage because Christians don’t believe in universal health care.
- The field hospital set up in Central Park (New York) for COVID-19 patients imposed a rule whereby only Christians could receive medical aid and where only Christian health care workers could provide that aid, lovingly denying non-Christians of life saving medical care.
- We stand on the brink of a major ethnic cleansing in Palestine because Christians in the U.S. have encouraged Israel to lovingly invade and annex further parts of Palestine.
So while Muslims might not have offered much argument against the proposition that Islam isn’t a religion of love, I expect Christians to come at me with all sorts of apologetics for why genocide, burning people at the stake, and executing gays and apostates shows us that Christianity is a religion of love. Either Christianity is a religion of sadomasochistic love or it really isn’t a religion of love at all.
Is Christianity really a religion of love if it promises to bring billions of dead people back to life for the express purpose of exposing them to pain and suffering for eternity? The obvious answer to this question is……no.
(2455) The not- so-intelligently designed watch
Christian apologists often advertise the complexities of the human body as evidence for an intelligent designer, and, by default, a god, and further by default, the Christian god. They use the analogy of seeing a watch on the beach and then asking whether such a complex machine could have created itself or whether it had a designer- then stating that the human body is more complex than a watch. In the following this analogy is turned on its head:
Those who use “religious logic” to hypothesize the existence of an “Intelligent Designer” stand in stark contrast to the mainstream scientific community and scientific thought. How can the two sides see the world so differently? And how do we determine which side is correct?
One way to understand why “religious logic” is incorrect is to ponder the following thought experiment.
Let’s imagine that you were to walk into a jewelry store and look at the different watches in the jeweler’s case. One of the watches catches your eye because its design is so unusual. The jeweler walks over and you ask him to describe the watch. He begins to rattle off several of its more interesting features.
“Here’s something you don’t find on many watches,” the jeweler says. “When you wind up this watch, it begins to stink!” He winds the watch, and it is just as he says — a definite odor, very slight at first, begins to waft from the watch. The jeweler tells you that the smell can grow quite profound through the course of the day, to the point where the watch becomes most annoying. You must apply a special ointment called a “deodorant” to the watch every morning in order to mask the smell, and will also have to wash the watch every night to get the ointment and the smell off. If you let the watch go two or three days without washing it, it will smell so bad that you will not want to be in the same room with it.
“And here is something else,” says the jeweler. “For eight hours out of every day this watch will not tell you the time at all! It is ‘asleep’ during those eight hours and it cannot be disturbed.” If it is disturbed and does not get the full eight hours of sleep that it needs, then it may spontaneously and unexpectedly fall asleep for up to two hours at a time during the following day. This is called a “nap.” Also, the watch’s time keeping may be very erratic if it does not get enough sleep.
The jeweler also informs you that the watch is subject to thousands of different “diseases.” Many of these diseases may take the watch out of service for a week or more. Many more will cause the watch to need very expensive repairs in a specialized service center called a “hospital.” And hundreds of these diseases will cause the watch to die completely. Two or three times a year (if you are lucky, more if you are not) the watch will be affected by one of these diseases for about a week. During those two or three weeks each year, the watch will not keep accurate time and you may have to bring it in for repair.
“Now this is quite unique,” says the jeweler. “Not many watches have this!” He points to a soft lump on the side of the watch. It appears that two of watch’s most important gears are not actually inside the watch’s case. Instead, they are attached outside of the watch and they connect to the other gears in the watch through a little slot. These two external gears are protected by nothing but a thin plastic bag that the jeweler calls a “scrotum.” The jeweler warns you that because of this unique design, you have to be extremely careful with the watch. If you ever bump these exposed gears on anything, the watch will double over and grind to a halt.
The jeweler continues…
Every week or so you will have to inject into the watch certain chemicals called “vitamins,” and if you do not the watch will die.
If the watch gets too cold, parts of it will get “frostbite” and then will rot and fall off.
Every day on the outside of the watch’s case there will develop a disgusting film called “plaque”. You will have to scrub this plaque off twice each day with a brush. If you do not, the case of the watch will fill with holes and eventually fall apart.
You find out that you need to wind the watch three or four times every day. But you must wind this watch very carefully. If you wind it too much, it will balloon grotesquely to three or four times its normal size and then begin having even more problems with different diseases. This grotesque ballooning is called “obesity” and it is a major problem. If you do not wind it enough, the watch will die of starvation and rot.
When you order the watch, it takes nine months for delivery. But a surprising percentage of the orders never leave the factory. They die on the assembly line and never get delivered because of a “miscarriage.” About five percent of the watches that do leave the factory have serious defects – these defects have names like Down syndrome, Spina Bifida, etc.
When you open up your new watch and take it out of its package, you have no idea what it will look like. Some of the watches are quite beautiful, but the number of those is extremely small. Many of the rest are average looking. Quite a few are surprisingly ugly. You take what you get.
In the same way, a very small number of watches that leave the factory will come with sophisticated features like a stopwatch and moon phase dial. The majority of the watches will have a normal hour and minute hand and will keep time fairly well. But quite a number of the watches will have a “below-average IQ” and will therefore keep time poorly or not at all. Again, you take what you get.
The jeweler goes on and on and on like this, describing dozens of problems with this particular brand of watch. After an hour you are so disgusted and bewildered that you hold up your hand and ask him to stop. You have just one obvious question:
“What sort of insane watchmaker would create a watch that has so many ridiculous problems???”
No one with a choice would buy this brand of watch. The design is absurd on so many different levels. There are thousands of flaws — many of them quite serious — that are readily apparent in this brand of watch. Why would the watchmaker create a watch with body odor? Tartar and plaque? Obesity? Poor eyesight? The need for sleep? An external scrotum and testicles? The need for vitamins? The list of absurd features and problems is nearly endless.
This really is the problem with the “divine watchmaker” theory. Intelligent Design? If mankind is created in God’s image, then God is a total idiot. No “Intelligent Designer” — God or otherwise — would design a watch that is this outrageously bad.
This is just one of the many problems with the “religious logic” of “Intelligent Design”. In order to believe in an “Intelligent Designer”, theists must ignore all of the myriad problems that we find in the human body.
The designer-watch concept is debunked by the fact that a watch is far better designed for its function than is the human body. It represents a feeble attempt to nullify 150 years of scientific progress that has demonstrated beyond doubt that the evolution of humans has taken place in the absence of a designer.
(2456) Jesus and the zombies
One of the major plot holes in the gospels is that the disciples and other followers of Jesus express doubts and astonishment that Jesus had returned to life, when at the moment Jesus died, the graves of many deceased people opened up and these zombies walked around town talking to people (according to the Gospel of Matthew). It would seem, ho hum, that Jesus would have been just one more. The following was taken from:
Clear your mind of that problem and let’s review the empty-tomb story from a different angle. The women visit the tomb of Jesus to apply spices to the body and are shocked to see the tomb empty. They run back to tell the male disciples (or not, according to Mark) who are likewise astonished. Later that evening, Doubting Thomas, who surely performed more laudable actions in his life than just doubt, did what he’s best known for.
But why would it have been astonishing, on Sunday morning, to find Jesus risen from the dead? Remember this incident:
[At the moment of Jesus’s death,] the earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:51–3)
Here’s the chronology. Jesus died on Friday evening, and at that moment many worthy dead people came to life. Jesus resurrected (he was to be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” [Matt. 12:40], which Friday evening to Sunday morning isn’t, but let’s ignore that), and then the newly undead people left their tombs to walk around Jerusalem. Next, the women found the empty tomb, and then word spread among the male disciples. The gospels differ over whether the women were the first to see the risen Jesus at the tomb (Matthew and John), or the disciples were the first see him Sunday night (Luke), or nobody sees him (Mark). Finally, a week later, Doubting Thomas saw Jesus.
Though the zombies are never connected to the Jesus story, the literary goal is easy to imagine. The resurrection of Jesus was the first fruits of his triumph over death, with the zombie resurrection in Jerusalem a demonstration to emphasize the point.
The problem is that surprise is an important part of this story, but no one would be surprised by a risen Jesus once they’d seen the crowd of undead. What’s one more, particularly when he was the instigator of the process? Word of the remarkable sight of walking dead would’ve traveled quickly through Jerusalem.
When the women returned, breathless with the news of having seen Jesus (or just the empty tomb), the disciples could’ve replied that Jerusalem was crawling with zombies, so what’s one more? Or, if that news hadn’t reached the disciples by the time the women returned, everyone in the city would’ve surely heard by the time Doubting Thomas finally saw Jesus a week later. Knowing of the zombies days earlier, how could Thomas have been surprised that Jesus had risen as well? Jesus showing his wounds and Thomas touching them for confirmation wouldn’t have happened.
About a wide range of Christian commentaries on this passage, Patheos blogger Neil Carter said, “Almost none of them think this really happened.” Nevertheless, the contradiction remains: Thomas, knowing about the zombies as everyone in Jerusalem surely did, would’ve dropped his demand that Jesus prove that he really rose from the dead.
Christian apologists have two unsavory options- either admit Matthew told a tall tale or that Jesus’ resurrection did not stand out as being uniquely miraculous. Generally, they take the former, but that opens up a Pandora’s Box and takes their cherished literalism off the table. Matthew 27:51-53 is likely the most damaging scripture to Christianity’s authenticity.
(2457) Was Jesus God or was he crazy?
There exists an insurmountable contradiction in the gospels between Mark and the two other synoptic gospels that copied from Mark (Matthew and Luke). In Mark, there is a scene where Jesus’ family views Jesus as being crazy for what he is preaching, and yet in Matthew and Luke, he is born under miraculous conditions, thereby letting his family realize that he is a divine being (and therefore can’t be crazy). The following was taken from:
Too little is made of a surprising passage from Mark. Jesus was preaching in Galilee, and then:
When [Jesus’s] family heard about [Jesus being nearby], they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21).
The point of the story contrasts his actual family, who think he’s crazy, with his disciples, who have abandoned their professions to follow him.
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” Jesus asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33–4).
The interesting thing here is his family calling him crazy. How was that possible, when it was clear from other gospels that Jesus was divine? First, consider the evidence in Matthew.
Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant. He planed to divorce her quietly, but an angel appeared and told him, “Do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20–24).
The magi followed a magical star that (somehow) pointed them to Bethlehem. (More on the Star of Bethlehem here and here.) An expensive and time-consuming trip to worship the king of the Jews required expensive gifts: “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11). Gifts worthy of a king would have dramatically improved this peasant family’s quality of life, though that is never evident.
And consider the clues in Luke’s very different nativity story.
Now it’s Mary who gets the celestial visitation, and this time it’s before the conception. The angel Gabriel said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:28–38).
Shepherds are told by angels that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem and “When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (Luke 2:8–18).
Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for “purification rites.” There they met Simeon, a devout man who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah. As he held Jesus, he praised God and said that the promise had been fulfilled (Luke 2:25–38).
At age 12, Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Passover celebration to converse with the Jewish teachers. “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:46–51).
Luke makes clear that these events aren’t lost on Mary. It says that “Mary treasured up all these things” after hearing the shepherds and the angels (Luke 2:19) and after seeing Jesus with the teachers (2:51). After hearing Simeon identify Jesus as the Messiah, “The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him” (2:33).
Not only are Mary and Joseph assured that their son is divine, but this isn’t a family secret. Word has spread far. The magi informed Herod’s court, and Herod killed infant boys for fear of a rival to the throne; the shepherds tell everyone they can about the angels’ message; Simeon publicly states in the Temple that Jesus is the Messiah; and the Temple teachers see his wisdom for themselves.
Let’s return to Mark, where Jesus’s mother and brothers want to take charge of him because he’s crazy. Jesus can’t be both crazy and divine. But drop the requirement that these stories must harmonize, and the resolution is easy.
Matthew and Luke copy (sometimes verbatim) from Mark. In fact, 97 percent of Mark is copied by either Matthew or Luke or both. However, the nativity stories appear only in Matthew and Luke, and the “Jesus is crazy” story appears only in Mark. Mark threw the holy family under the bus to make the point that following Jesus is a higher calling than familial loyalty, but Matthew and Luke didn’t copy that story, perhaps because, as we’ve seen here, it conflicts with the clear evidence in the nativity stories that Jesus is different because he’s divine.
Two possibilities exist- either the authors of Matthew and Luke, having expended their imaginations by creating their nativity myths, deliberately decided to leave out the part in Mark where Jesus’s family thinks he’s out of his mind, realizing appropriately that this would produce a fatal contradiction. Or Matthew and Luke did copy this scripture from Mark, but a later editor added the birth narratives and removed the contradictory verses themselves. Either way, the gospels will forever suffer this blight on their truthfulness.
(2458) Twenty stories rarely discussed in churches
When we hear it said that the Bible is a source of compassion, love, morality, and grace- the ‘Good Book’- we must concede that there are some portions that meet these criteria, but this would be like saying that Florida is the Sunshine State whereas summer thunderstorms and hurricanes are ubiquitous. It doesn’t give the big picture. None of the following twenty stories reflect anything that comports to being ‘good’ nor belongs in a book inspired by the creator of the universe:
- God drowns the whole earth. In Genesis 7:21-23, God drowns the entire population of the earth: men, women, children, fetuses, and perhaps unicorns. Only a single family survives. In Matthew 24:37-42, gentle Jesus approves of this genocide and plans to repeat it when he returns.
- God kills half a million people. In 2 Chronicles 13:15-18, God helps the men of Judah kill 500,000 of their fellow Israelites.
- God slaughters all Egyptian firstborn. In Exodus 12:29, God the baby-killer slaughters all Egyptian firstborn children and cattle because their king was stubborn.
- God kills 14,000 people for complaining that God keeps killing them. In Numbers 16:41-49, the Israelites complain that God is killing too many of them. So, God sends a plague that kills 14,000 more of them.
- Genocide after genocide after genocide. In Joshua 6:20-21, God helps the Israelites destroy Jericho, killing “men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” In Deuteronomy 2:32-35, God has the Israelites kill everyone in Heshbon, including children. In Deuteronomy 3:3-7, God has the Israelites do the same to the people of Bashan. In Numbers 31:7-18, the Israelites kill all the Midianites except for the virgins, whom they take as spoils of war. In 1 Samuel 15:1-9, God tells the Israelites to kill all the Amalekites – men, women, children, infants, and their cattle – for something the Amalekites’ ancestors had done 400 years earlier.
- God kills 50,000 people for curiosity. In 1 Samuel 6:19, God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the Ark of the Covenant. (Newer cosmetic translations count only 70 deaths, but their text notes admit that the best and earliest manuscripts put the number at 50,070.)
- 3,000 Israelites killed for inventing a god. In Exodus 32, Moses has climbed Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments. The Israelites are bored, so they invent a golden calf god. Moses comes back and God commands him: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” About 3,000 people died.
- The Amorites destroyed by sword and by God’s rocks. In Joshua 10:10-11, God helps the Israelites slaughter the Amorites by sword, then finishes them off with rocks from the sky.
- God burns two cities to death. In Genesis 19:24, God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. Then God kills Lot’s wife for looking back at her burning home.
- God has 42 children mauled by bears. In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some kids tease the prophet Elisha, and God sends bears to dismember them. (Newer cosmetic translations say the bears “maul” the children, but the original Hebrew, baqa, means “to tear apart.”)
- A tribe slaughtered and their virgins raped for not showing up at roll call. In Judges 21:1-23, a tribe of Israelites misses roll call, so the other Israelites kill them all except for the virgins, which they take for themselves. Still not happy, they hide in vineyards and pounce on dancing women from Shiloh to take them for themselves.
- 3,000 crushed to death. In Judges 16:27-30, God gives Samson strength to bring down a building to crush 3,000 members of a rival tribe.
- A concubine raped and dismembered. In Judges 19:22-29, a mob demands to rape a godly master’s guest. The master offers his daughter and a concubine to them instead. They take the concubine and gang-rape her all night. The master finds her on his doorstep in the morning, cuts her into 12 pieces, and ships the pieces around the country.
- Child sacrifice. In Judges 11:30-39, Jephthah burns his daughter alive as a sacrificial offering for God’s favor in killing the Ammonites.
- God helps Samson kill 30 men because he lost a bet. In Judges 14:11-19, Samson loses a bet for 30 sets of clothes. The spirit of God comes upon him and he kills 30 men to steal their clothes and pay off the debt.
- God demands you kill your wife and children for worshiping other gods. In Deuteronomy 13:6-10, God commands that you must kill your wife, children, brother, and friend if they worship other gods.
- God incinerates 51 men to make a point. In 2 Kings 1:9-10, Elijah gets God to burn 51 men with fire from heaven to prove he is God.
- God kills a man for not impregnating his brother’s widow. In Genesis 38:9-10, God kills a man for refusing to impregnate his brother’s widow.
- God threatens forced cannibalism. In Leviticus 26:27-29 and Jeremiah 19:9, God threatens to punish the Israelites by making them eat their own children.
- The coming slaughter. According to Revelation 9:7-19, God’s got more evil coming. God will make horse-like locusts with human heads and scorpion tails, who torture people for 5 months. Then some angels will kill a third of the earth’s population. If he came today, that would be 2.5 billion people.
The amount of hand waving needed to explain away these murderous acts of the Christian god (most of which other than the Flood are unknown to most Christians) is mind-blogging. Either these stories are fictional (hint: almost 100% certain) or Christians are revering a god that should be loathed rather than loved…much less worshiped.
(2459) Is Yahweh the next Zeus?
In the following excerpt from Dan Brown’s novel Origin, the case is made that the current theological landscape is just another sequential stage of humankind’s search for relevance and knowledge. It begs the reader to imagine how future people will likely view Yahweh in the same way we now regard Zeus.
Early humans had a relationship of wonder with their universe, especially with those phenomena they could not rationally understand. To solve these mysteries, they created a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses to explain anything that was beyond their understanding—thunder, tides, earthquakes, volcanoes, infertility, plagues, even love.”
For the early Greeks, the ebb and flow of the ocean was attributed to the shifting moods of Poseidon. The seasonal change to winter, was caused by the planet’s sadness at Persephone’s annual abduction into the underworld. For the Romans, volcanoes were believed to be the home of Vulcan—blacksmith to the gods—who worked in a giant forge beneath the mountain, causing flames to spew out of his chimney.
The ancients invented countless gods, to explain not only the mysteries of their planet, but also the mysteries of their own bodies. Infertility was caused by falling out of favor with the goddess Juno. Love was the result of being targeted by Eros. Epidemics were explained as a punishment sent by Apollo. New constellations now lit up along with images of new gods. God of the Gaps is when the ancients experienced gaps in their understanding of the world around them, they filled those gaps with God. Countless gods filled countless gaps, And yet, over the centuries, scientific knowledge increased. As the gaps in our understanding of the natural world gradually disappeared, our pantheon of gods began to shrink. For example, when we learned that the tides were caused by lunar cycles, Poseidon was no longer necessary, and we banished him as a foolish myth of an unenlightened time. As you know, the same fate befell all the gods—dying off, one by one, as they outlived their relevance to our evolving intellects but make no mistake about it, These gods did not ‘go gentle into that good night’ it is a messy process for a culture to abandon its deities. Spiritual beliefs are etched deeply on our psyches at a young age by those we love and trust most—our parents, our teachers, our religious leaders. Therefore, any religious shifts occur over generations, and not without great angst, and often bloodshed. Zeus ,The god of all gods. The most feared and revered of all the pagan deities. Zeus, more than any other god, resisted his own extinction, mounting a violent battle against the dying of his own light, precisely as had the earlier gods Zeus had replaced. Zeus’s followers were so resistant to giving up on their god that the conquering faith of Christianity had no choice but to adopt the face of Zeus as the face of their new God. Today, we no longer believe in stories like those about Zeus—a boy raised by a goat and given power by one-eyed creatures called Cyclopes. For us, with the benefit of modern thinking, these tales have all been classified as mythology—quaint fictional stories that give us an entertaining glimpse into our superstitious past.
Things are different now, We are the Moderns. The word moderns can be attributed to the whole of human civilization because of advances like space exploration … computer chips … a medical lab … a particle accelerator … soaring jets- to name a few in a never ending list. We are an intellectually evolved and technologically skilled people. We do not believe in giant blacksmiths working under volcanoes or in gods that control the tides or seasons. We are nothing like our ancient ancestors. Or are we? Or are we?
We consider ourselves modern rational individuals, and yet our species’ most widespread religion includes a whole host of magical claims—humans inexplicably rising from the dead, miraculous virgin births, vengeful gods that send plagues and floods, mystical promises of an afterlife in cloud-swept heavens or fiery hells. So just for a moment, let us imagine the reaction of humankind’s future historians and anthropologists. With the benefit of perspective, will they look back on our religious beliefs and categorize them as the mythologies of an unenlightened time? Will they look at our gods as we look at Zeus? Will they collect our sacred scriptures and banish them to that dusty bookshelf of history?
It would serve Christians well to gain the perspective of past theisms- how ancient people clung just as tenaciously to their gods but that now have become extinct. Zeus has died, and Yahweh is dying and will be dead in a few more centuries. The tides go in and out and gods are born, shine brightly, and then die, just like every living thing. In this long-view look at the arc of history, it is best to step aside and become the person in the last frame above.
(2460) The existence of God is objectively improbable
When confronted with an un-falsifiable hypothesis, all one has to go on is an analysis based on a series of salient observations. This affords a reasonable guess whether the hypothesis is true. The following ten points leads to a verdict that the existence of the Christian god is objectively improbable:
(1) Nearly every tribe or society in history has believed in a god or gods; countless religions have existed. Without question, Man has needed to believe in a supreme being when science wasn’t available to explain the universe.
(2) The vast majority of religious people adopt the religion of their parents and/or community, not through the study of multiple religions before the adoption of one.
(3) No major religion commands more than 1/3 of the world’s population, yet each religion generally sees itself as “the” true religion.
(4) Whether or not any given religion’s story and precepts are true, they essentially all rely on circular logic that makes disproving their stories/beliefs impossible. But none of them can be scientifically proven.
(5) While some religions hold precepts that they claim could only have come from the hand of their god, virtually all of these can be traced to prior religions, have biological/scientific reasons regardless of religion, or both.
(6) There is a clear inverse relationship between increasing education and likelihood of believing in god. Put another way, the more educated you are, the less likely you will feel a need for a god to exist.
(7) Religions often attempt to affect laws specifically inline with beliefs that have no basis outside of that religion, while non-religion-based laws are generally the result of objectively provable data, science, or logic.
(8) The primary books of all major, deity-based religions are riddled with inconsistencies, as well as rules that are flatly infeasible and/or wholly illegal in any civilized society.
(9) History is rife with stories of violent religious crusades costing the lives of countless millions. Relatively few such stories exist about those who don’t subscribe to an omniscient deity or book. Put another way, violence often emanates from religious factions and far less often from nonreligious factions.
(10) The Solar system has eight planets, the nearest star is over three trillion miles from our sun, and there are more stars in the observable universe than there are grains of sand on earth. This planet, and everything it has ever contained, are utterly insignificant in comparison to the universe as a whole. To believe the writings of any major religion is to stare into the unfathomable expanse of the universe and claim that all relevant stories and events took place only on this one comparatively tiny speck.
If the Christian god was real, going through each of these points, (1) there would have been very few other religions as the Christian god would have suppressed them prior to introducing himself to the planet, (2) people would routinely depart their parents’ faith to join the church, (3) Christianity would comprise at least 90% of the religious landscape, (4) there would be scientific evidence pointing to the truth of Christianity, (5) Christianity would include mostly unique beliefs, traditions, and customs, (6) education would tend to make people more likely to believe because they would be more aware of and have a better ability to analyze the evidence for the faith, (7) religious laws would make sense, be reasonable, and remain good examples for civil laws, (8) the Bible would be free of contradictions, (9) Christian-based violence would be historically sparse, and (10) the Earth would hold a prominent position in the universe. This is what we would see…if Christianity was true.
(2461) Jesus and Krishna
There are similarities between the Hindu god Krishna and Jesus. It is unknown if the gospel authors used their knowledge of Krishna to flesh out their stories of Jesus, but even if not, it shows that made-up gods tend to have the same characteristics, which tends to relegate all of them to the category of mythology.
The following was taken from:
Krishna is the second person of the Hindu Trinity. He is considered to be one of the incarnations of the God Vishnu. Some Hindus believe that he lived on Earth during perhaps the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. However, “Traditional belief based on scriptural details and astrological calculations gives Krishna’s birth” year as 3228 BCE. 12 Yeshua of Nazareth is generally regarded as having been born in Palestine circa 4 to 7 BCE. Thus, if there are many points of similarities between these two individuals, most skeptics and some religious liberals would accept that elements of Krishna’s life were incorporated into the legends associated with Jesus rather than vice-versa.
Other reasons for the similarities between Jesus and Krishna’s life stories on Earth have been suggested which are more acceptable to conservative Christians who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, in the inspiration of the Bible’s authors by God, and in the belief that Jesus is God’s only son and the world’s only savior:
Legends of Krishna’s life are lies which Satan created to discredit Christianity in advance of Jesus’ birth.
The similarities in the two lives are simple coincidences.
Krishna’s life was a type of prophecy foretelling the arrival of the Christian Messiah.
Author Kersey Graves (1813-1883), a Quaker from Indiana, compared Yeshua’s and Krishna’s life. He found what he believed were 346 elements in common within Christiana and Hindu writings. That appears to be overwhelming evidence that incidents in Jesus’ life were copied from Krishna’s. However, many of Graves’ points of similarity are a real stretch.
He did report some amazing coincidences:
#6 & 45: Yeshua and Krishna were called both a God and the Son of God.
7: Both was sent from heaven to earth in the form of a man.
8 & 46: Both were called Savior, and the second person of the Trinity.
13, 15, 16 & 23: His adoptive human father was a carpenter.
18: A spirit or ghost was their actual father.
21: Krishna and Jesus were of royal descent.
30 to 34: Angels in both cases issued a warning that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his assassination. The parents fled. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura.
41 & 42: Both Yeshua and Krishna withdrew to the wilderness as adults, and fasted.
56: Both were identified as “the seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head.”
58: Jesus was called “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” Krishna was called “the lion of the tribe of Saki.”
60: Both claimed: “I am the Resurrection.”
64: Both referred to themselves having existed before their birth on earth.
66: Both were “without sin.”
72: Both were god-men: being considered both human and divine.
76, 77, & 78: They were both considered omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
83, 84, & 85: Both performed many miracles, including the healing of disease. One of the first miracles that both performed was to make a leper whole. Each cured “all manner of diseases.”
86 & 87: Both cast out indwelling demons, and raised the dead.
101: Both selected disciples to spread his teachings.
109 to 112: Both were meek, and merciful. Both were criticized for associating with sinners.
115: Both encountered a Gentile woman at a well.
121 to 127: Both celebrated a last supper. Both forgave his enemies.
128 to 131: Both descended into Hell, and were resurrected. Many people witnessed their ascensions into heaven.
Christians should be wary of these similarities because whether or not there was plagiarism, it shows that people’s perception of divine personages was similar across diverse cultures. This reinforces the idea that gods are inventions of human superstition rather than actual independent beings.
(2462) 2 Peter endorses talking donkey
In the second epistle psuedepigraphically credited to St. Peter (2 Peter), the author makes a literal reference to Balaam’s talking donkey, a story told in the Book of Numbers:
Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”
Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”
The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
“No,” he said.
2 Peter 2:15-16
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
Any sane person would likely react as follows:
What this shows is that people writing the New Testament were convinced that everything in the Old Testament was literally true. This is seen with respect to other fictional stories, such as the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the Exodus, and Sodom and Gomorra (even Sarah turning into a block of salt). The credulousness of New Testament authors indicates that their minds were operating in an unknowledgeable and unskeptical manner, casting doubt over their entire product.
(2463) Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant is a gold-covered wooden chest that, according to the Book of Exodus, contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments along with a few other relics. But right off the bat there is a fatal problem- the original tablets (the ones containing the conventional Ten Commandments) were smashed to bits by Moses and later replaced with a new and different set of commandments. See #884. What this means is that if the Ark and stone tablets can be found, the 10th Commandment, to the shock and horror of Christians everywhere, will be “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
But putting that matter aside, there are other problems. Let’s consider the two main possibilities:
(1) The Ark and tablets were literary inventions that never existed in reality. This seems to be the most likely situation, as most secular historians agree that Moses himself is a fictional character. In this case, the absence of the Ark is obviously well understood.
(2) The Ark and tablets did exist but were either destroyed by enemies of the Jewish people or they were stolen and hidden. This is where assumptions made by Christians boomerang and hit them in the face. God is alleged to be all-seeing and all-powerful, so if the most sacred ‘gift’ he imparted to humankind can be thwarted by enemies of his chosen people, then the prior assumptions are suspect in the least. It makes no sense that the creator of the universe, who is heavily invested in human life, would allow the only ‘document’ of his own (direct) authorship to be lost to history.
For these reasons, the absence of the Ark and the tablets should be taken as evidence against the Jewish foundation of the Christian faith, further suggesting that the bedrock of Christianity is composed of copious fiction.
(2464) The missing Old Testament prophecy
Gospel authors made a concerted effort to show that Jesus was foretold by the Old Testament prophets. This was considered necessary to legitimize the claim that Jesus was the promised Jewish messiah. However, all of these prophecies have been shown to apply to events that had either already happened or would happen well before the time of Jesus. Most apologists recognize this but often pull out the excuse that the prophecies had a ‘double meaning.’ Even if this is so, there is still a stark and revealing problem- no prophet of the Jewish nation ever penned an unambiguous reference to Jesus. The following was taken from:
…we can see that the Bible got it just plain wrong. Come on, if the Old Testament prophets really has a knack for prophecy, why not get it right? Be consistent and correct. This would have been a stunning prophecy, especially if proclaimed, word for word, by several prophets tuned in to God’s plan:
“And it shall come to pass that a mighty nation, more terrible than Babylon, will rise up from beyond the Western Sea, and will be called Rome. Even as the nations suffer under its yoke, a messiah, Joshua ben Joseph, will be called by God from Galilee, will display wonders and work miracles, and will announce the arrival of God’s Kingdom to vanquish the Romans.”
Of course, even Joshua ben Joseph got that last part wrong. So what does that tell you about prophecy?
This will remain an enduring problem for Christianity- there is no positive connection between Judaism and Christianity. What exists is thin and tenuous and open to easy scrutiny. Christianity claims to be the divinely-sanctioned continuation of Judaism, but it is actually a completely separate religion that uses false pretenses to fabricate its legitimacy.
(2465) Philip in Samaria
It’s takes little effort to read passages in the Bible and realize that the people who wrote them were, in comparison to modern times, quite ignorant of the world and mired in superstitious mind sets. In the following passage, we see a good example of this. Philip expels demons who shriek as they exit and, even more saliently, he ‘heals’ paralyzed people.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.
It has been assumed the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke wrote Acts as well. It should not be a surprise that the author who made up a wildly-improbable story about a census requiring a man with a term-pregnant wife to travel over 100 miles to Bethlehem would have no issue fabricating stories in his next work. Was Philip a real person?- maybe. Did he drive out demons?- No, they don’t exist and any shrieks would have been uttered by the individuals being exorcised.
What is even more troubling for Christians is the claim that paralyzed people were being healed. Often, when skeptics question why the types of miracles described in the gospels are no longer happening today, apologist will say that only Jesus could perform them. But in this case, we see Philip, a regular human, healing paralysis. This begs the question. If God’s power allowed Philip to do this, why are we not seeing this today? Of course, the answer is simple, the author simply made up this story.
(2466) Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet
If we assume that Jesus was an actual historical figure referenced in the New Testament, a solid case can be made that he was a failed apocalyptic prophet, very much in the same vein as William Miller, Harold Camping, and David Koresh. The difference is that when Jesus’ prediction failed, a cult of credulous followers modified his message to explain why the predicted end times did not occur as predicted. The following lists 14 points that support this theory:
I agree with mainstream scholarship on the historical Jesus (e.g., E.P. Sanders, Geza Vermes, Bart Ehrman, Dale Allison, Paula Fredriksen, et al.) that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet. Such a hypothesis, if true, would be a simple one that would make sense of a wide range of data, including the following fourteen :
D1. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to escape the imminent judgment of the eschaton. Jesus was his baptized disciple, and thus accepted his message — and in fact preached basically the same message.
D2. Many (most?) of Jesus’ “Son of Man” passages are most naturally interpreted as allusions to the Son of Man figure in Daniel. This figure was an end of the world arbiter of God’s justice, and Jesus kept preaching that he was on his way (e.g., “From now on, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matt. 26:64). Jesus seems to identify himself with this apocalyptic figure in Daniel, but I’m not confident whether this identification is a later redaction. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for orthodox Christianity.
D3. The earliest canonical writing (I Thess): Paul taught of an imminent eschaton, and it mirrors in wording the end-time passages in the synoptics (especially the so-called “Little Apocalypse” in Mark, and the subsequently-written parallels in Matthew and Luke).
D4. Many passages attributed to Jesus have him predicting the end within his generation (“the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15); “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mark 13:30); “truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 10:23); “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” (Mark 9:1); “From now on, you shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds…” (Matthew 26:64)).
D5. A sense of urgency permeates the gospels and the other NT writings: e.g., the disciples must hurry to send the message to the cities of Israel before Daniel’s “Son of Man” comes; Jesus’ command to leave all to follow him; Jesus’ statement that even burying one’s parents has a lower priority; Paul telling the Corinthians not to change their current state, since it’s all about to end (e.g., don’t seek marriage, or to leave one’s slave condition, etc., since the end of all things is at hand; and on and on, all the way through the NT corpus).
D6. Jesus and Paul taught a radical “interim ethic”. This makes sense if they believed that the eschaton would occur within their generation.
D7. Jesus had his disciples leave everything and follow him around. This makes sense if Jesus believed that he and they were to be God’s final messengers before the eschaton.
D8. There is a clear pattern of a successive watering down of Jesus’ prediction of the eschaton within the generation of his disciples, starting with Mark (widely believed among NT scholars to be the first gospel written), and continuing through the rest of the synoptic gospels. By the time we get to John, the last gospel written, the eschatological “kingdom of God” talk is dropped (except for one passage, and it no longer has clear eschatological connotations), along with the end-time predictions, and is replaced with “eternal life” talk. Further, the epistles presuppose that the early church thought Jesus really predicted the end within their lifetimes. Finally, this successive backpedaling continues beyond the NT writings and into those of the apocrypha and the early church leaders, even to the point where some writings attribute an anti-apocalyptic message to Jesus. All of these things make perfect sense if Jesus really did make such a prediction, and the church needed to reinterpret his message in light of the fact that his generation passed away, yet the eschaton never came.
D9. The fact that not just Paul, but also all the other NT authors believed the end would occur in their generation makes perfect sense if Jesus really did make such claims
D10. The fact that the early church believed the end would occur in their lifetime makes perfect sense if Jesus really did make such claims
D11. Consider also E.P. Sanders’ argument: the passages that attribute these predictions to Jesus and Paul satisfy the historical criteria of multiple attestation (and forms), embarrassment, earliest strata (Mark, Q, M, L, Paul’s earliest letters, the ancient “Maranatha” creed/hymn) etc., thus strongly indicating that these words go back to the lips of Jesus.
D12. Jesus’ parables: virtually all explicitly or implicitly teach a message about an imminent eschaton.
D13. Jesus’ “inversion” teachings (e.g., “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first”): a common theme among Jewish apocalypticists generally. The general message of apocalypticists is that those who are evil and defy God will not get away with it forever. The just are trampled, and the unjust prosper; thus, this situation needs to be inverted – as it will be when the “Son of Man” from the book of Daniel comes to exact God’s judgment at any moment.
D14. The fact that the first generation church didn’t write biographies about Jesus, but instead the second generation church wrote the gospels composed of bits of sayings attributed to him, would make sense if his followers believed that the End would occur so quickly (based on Jesus’ teachings) that such a task would be pointless.
It would be very difficult to interpret Jesus’ mission under the assumption that he believed that the world would continue in its current form for another 1990 years. This would include Paul and the gospel authors, including the person who wrote Revelation. The entire New Testament speaks to an immediate and dramatic change to human life.
(2467) God, the detailist
Throughout the Old Testament, God is involved in intricate details of people’s lives, almost as if he was just another human leader within their midst. Then, something changes. In the New Testament, we don’t see this behavior at all, and, in modern times, again, God appears to be completely uninvolved in any focused interactions with humans. Here are some examples from the Old Testament:
God kills some animals and makes some skin coats for Adam and Eve. 3:21
God shows Moses some tricks that he says are sure to impress. First: Throw your rod on the ground; it will become a snake. 4:2-9
God gives us more instructions on killing and burning animals. I guess the first nine chapters of Leviticus wasn’t enough. He says we must do this because he really likes the smell — it is “a sweet savour unto the Lord.” 23:12-14, 18
God sends “fiery serpents” to bite his chosen people, and many of them die. 21:6
God gives us instructions for defecating. He says to carefully cover up all feces “for the Lord walketh in the midst of thy camp.” (You wouldn’t want the divine foot to step in your shit, would you?) 23:12-14
At God’s command, Joshua makes some knives and circumcises “again the children of Israel the second time” (ouch!) at the “hill of the foreskins.” 5:2-3
God picks the men to fight in Gideon’s army by the way they drink water. Only those that lap water with their tongues, “as a dog lappeth,” shall fight. 7:4-7
God smites the people of Ashdod with hemorrhoids “in their secret parts.” 5:6, 9, 12
God offers David a choice of punishments for having conducted the census: 1) seven years of famine (1 Chr.21:1 says three years), 2) three months fleeing from enemies, or 3) three days of pestilence. David can’t decide, so God chooses for him and sends a pestilence, killing 70,000 men (and probably around 200,000 women and children). 24:13
God creates droughts by causing “heaven to shut up” as a punishment for sin. 8:35
God sends two bears to rip up 42 little children for making fun of Elisha’s bald head. 2:23-24
God and Satan play a little game with Job. God allows Satan to torment Job, just to see how he will react. 2:3-7
God will shave men’s feet, where “feet” and “hair” are biblical euphemisms for males sexual organs and pubic hair, respectively. 7:20
God says: “I will send serpents, cockatrices among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you.” (A cockatrice is “a legendary serpent with a deadly glance said to be hatched by a reptile from a cock’s egg on a dunghill.” — Webster’s Dictionary) 8:17
God tells Ezekiel to eat a book and to “fill his bowels” with it. He does, and finds it to be as sweet as honey. 2:9, 3:1-3
God tells Hosea to commit adultery, saying “take … a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms” because the land has “committed great whoredom.” So Hosea did as God commanded and “took” a wife named Gomer. 1:2-3
The animals are perplexed and cry out to God after he torments them by burning their food and drying up the rivers. 1:18-20
God sends the pestilence, kills young men with the sword, and makes the “stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils.” And yet God still wonders why the Israelites don’t turn to him. 4:10
God spreads rumors, destroys wise men and understanding, and slaughters the house of Esau. 1
God prepares a gourd to shade Jonah’s head. Then he prepares a worm to destroy the gourd. What a clever guy! 4:6-7
God dares ask, “What have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee?” Ha! Where do I begin?! We’ll start with the Flood, there’s the famine in II Kings 8:1, King David’s deadly census in I Chronicles 21:7
God is jealous, gets furious, and takes vengeance on his adversaries.1:2
God brought blight and hail upon the Israelites, and he’s mad because they don’t turn to him? What the hell did he expect?2:17
God’s horseman patrols the earth on red colored horses. 1:8-11
God complains that we are robbing him by not giving him his proper cut in tithes. 3:8
Why would God change his behavior so drastically? Why did he withdraw from getting involved in isolated events in people’s lives and then withdraw into a separate unseen dimension? Clearly, the only logical explanation is that the god of the Old Testament (and still the god of Christianity), Yahweh, is a mythical being.
(2468) Jesus bypasses the first four commandments
Consider the following scripture:
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
For some reason, Jesus did not mention the first four of the 10 Commandments:
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
And he gives one that isn’t a commandment:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
If Jesus did not consider the first four commandments to be essential for attaining eternal life then they seem to be a wasted opportunity, taking the space of potentially other much more important commandments, such as:
“Thou shalt not own another person.”
“Thou shalt not harm a child.”
“Thou shalt not have sex without consent.”
“Thou shalt not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, or nationality.”
Among many others. And what is most telling- the author of this gospel did not write something like this:
Jesus replied, “If you want to attain eternal life, then you must believe that I am the messiah, the Son of God, and you must accept the sacrifice I will soon make to take upon myself the penalty for your sins, when I am put to death for that purpose.”
(2469) Paul loses his healing touch
Early in Paul’s ministry, he appeared to have an unlimited ability to heal people, and even raise people from the dead. But after his first imprisonment in Rome, something changed. He was no longer able to heal, and most inexplicably, he was unable to heal three of this most important colleagues- Trophemus, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. The following was taken from:
The demarcation between the period of miracles and the beginning of the church’s present experience seems to be Paul’s first Roman imprisonment. Every epistle written before that incarceration refers directly to or alludes to miracles as a “normal” experience in the church. These include James, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans. The Book of Acts indicates a continuance of miracle-working by apostles and others during this period as well. Then when Paul was imprisoned, there is silence in the Prison Epistles and all other New Testament writings thereafter about any present experience of miracles.
[The following discusses Paul’s failure or inability to heal Trophemus, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, all of whom became severely ill during their time of association with Paul.]
The evidence of these three close associates of Paul whose illnesses were left to their natural course points to his inability to heal. Though this does not conclusively prove a loss of healing ability, it implies that loss. Either Paul could heal them and chose not to, or he was helpless with regard to their conditions. To justify the position that Paul chose not to heal them, one must demonstrate either that they were not essential to his ministry or that he viewed their suffering as “filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24). But their illnesses came at times when their services were needed. It would not be strategic for Paul to weaken his team by eliminating key personnel, especially if he had the ability simply to speak the word or touch them and restore them to full health.
His having delivered Eutychus from death shows his ability (at that time) and willingness to restore even those who were not essential to his ministry (Acts 20:7- 12). This also shows that Paul could exercise this option at will, even when he was not being watched by an unbelieving audience. Some explain that Paul did not heal his three friends because his healing ministry was only for nonbelievers in areas where the gospel was first being preached.53 Again Paul’s restoration of Eutychus rules out that view. Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 12:12 about his ability to demonstrate his apostolic authority may well have included an ability to heal believers since that authority was to be demonstrated before believers, not unbelievers. Also Peter’s raising of Dorcas, a believer, shows that other apostles readily aided believers. The gifts of healing in Corinth show that at least in the early days of the church, believers could expect relief from illnesses. Thus one cannot argue that healings were for unbelievers only.
To argue that each of the three men either lacked faith or had unresolved sins is not acceptable either. They had each been with Paul on his missionary journeys and had seen him performing miracles, including healings. There is no reason to expect them then to doubt Paul’s ability. Further, Paul’s references to Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-30 present the picture of a man of faith, courage, and commitment rather than of sin or faithlessness. Thus some other answer must be sought. When the circumstances are reviewed, especially for Epaphroditus and Trophimus, their need as well as Paul’s requires one to conclude that Paul lacked the ability to intervene. Otherwise their suffering and his loss of their assistance were needless.
From this one can say that there is evidence of a decline in miracles even within the experience of the apostles, who were the principal miracle workers of the church. Those who wish to press for a continuance of miracles through the apostolic period into the present must explain Paul’s failure to heal his friends and assistants in the ministry.
This enigma might best be explained as an analogy to what is happening today in the realm of miracles. Since the technology of smart phones capable of instant photography and video carried by billions of people, claims of miracles have decreased dramatically. This is colloquially referred to as ‘no pic, didn’t happen.’
What likely happened in the case of Paul’s ‘healing ministry’ is that the focus on his ministry eventually became more widespread and viewed with greater scrutiny such that he could no longer claim a miracle had occurred without getting fact checked. So he had to change course and stop making false claims of his healing powers. It can be safely assumed from this course change that Paul never had any healing powers and that he never engineered a miracle.
(2470) Luke copied Homer’s birth annunciation
Based on comparative prose, it is highly likely that Luke copied elements of the Homeric hymn to Aphrodite in constructing, among other elements, the story of the annunciation of Jesus’ divine conception. (It should be noted that this portion of the Gospel of Luke was likely added by a later editor, but the point remains pertinent.) The following was taken from:
When Luke wrote the story of the Virgin Mary being impregnated by the Holy Spirit, he borrowed elements from a Greek hymn that predates the Gospels by over 850 years.
The Homeric hymn to Aphrodite 192-200
Then Aphrodite the daughter of Zeus answered him: “Anchises, most glorious of mortal men, take courage and be not fearful in your heart. You need fear no harm from me nor from the other blessed ones, for you are dear to the gods: and you shall have a dear son, who shall reign among the Trojans, and children’s children after him, springing up forever. His name shall be Aeneas, because I felt awful grief in that I have fallen into the bed of a mortal man: yet of all mortal humans, those of your family line, are always the most like the gods in beauty and in stature.
Luke 1.30-35 reads as:
“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.”
These passages both follow the same structure: A divine being (goddess and angel) talking to a human, tells them not to be afraid, then tells them they are dear/favored by God/gods, then tells them that they will have a son, tells them what the sons name will be, then tells them that their son will have reign over a kingdom that lasts forever, then they mention how the child was conceived and both end by comparing humans to godliness. (also both children have a godly family line)
While the line about his kingdom lasting forever would have also been influenced by the Old Testament, the rest of the passage clearly was lifted from the Hymn of Aphrodite as proven above. The parallels are too many to write off as chance.
The author of the Gospel of Luke wrote in Greek. There’s absolutely no way he didn’t know about this Homeric hymn. Homer was the most famous Greek poet and Greek education largely involved imitation of Homer in order to practice literary forms.
When a gospel author copies themes from ancient literature, it reduces confidence that he is attempting to transmit factual history. In this instance, we can safely assume that the story of Mary’s annunciation is mythical.
(2471) Why connecting Jesus to the OT was necessary
Christianity would never have flourished if it had presented itself as a new religion because there existed at that time a reverence for ancient scripture and a suspicion for anything of recent appearance. So this created a strong incentive for the gospel authors to make as many connections to the Old Testament as they could. In other words, Christianity needed to be portrayed as not new, but rather the next phase of an old religion. The following was taken from:
Hence the gospel writers knew that they could dig through the Old Testament and find texts about Jesus. At the opening of his essay, Miller explains their motivation:
• “Making that connection was essential in a time and culture that regarded old sacred writings with reverence and anything new in religion with suspicion.” (p. 255)
• “The early followers of Jesus thus cultivated an identity as the new people of God, the heirs of God’s promises to Israel.” (p. 255)
• “…Christian apologists argued that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament in such numbers and with such specificity that they amounted to a miracle and thus were evidence of the unique truth of Christianity.” (pp. 255-256)
We can assume that a high percentage of Christians today endorse this theology—which is precisely why they could benefit by approaching the Bible in full study mode. We can discount the role of God in prophecy, because the evidence points to a human phenomenon. As Miller puts it, “…the ‘miracle’ of fulfilled prophecy is an artifact of the ingenuity of Christian writers.” (p. 258) Which is a polite way of saying that they made it up.
It’s hardly a wonder that Christians have been high on prophecy since “…Matthew loads five fulfillment scenes in his first two chapters. The opening pages of the New Testament are thus dense with prophecy.” (p. 258) But careful readers can figure out pretty quickly what Matthew was up to.
Although there was a concerted attempt to keep Judaism and Jesus together as a cohesive unity, the ploy failed spectacularly, and in fact, Christianity become a new religion as adopted by the pagans, while Judaism continued on without a hiccup. All of the alleged Jesus prophecies in the Old Testament failed to impress the scripturally-literate Jews- because they knew better.
(2472) God, the inept CEO
The most important duty of the chief executive officer of a major corporation is to oversee the actions of his supervisors to ensure that the entire enterprise operates in a coordinated fashion to achieve a unified goal. If his supervisors pursue conflicting strategies that diminish the profits of the company, then the CEO has failed his most important function and will be fired by the owner.
In a similar way, God/Jesus is allegedly the CEO of the enterprise termed ‘Christianity.’ His supervisors are priests, pastors, apologists, authors, teachers, etc. Almost any description of the Christian god assumes that he is capable of monitoring these ‘supervisors’ and is even able to control what they think and say and write. In other words, God should be able to ensure that all of his representatives promulgate a consistent message promoting the precise theology that he wants everyone to know.
What can be gleaned from the above is that God, assuming that he exists and that Christianity is his religion, is a failed CEO. The ‘supervisors’ are proclaiming conflicting messages concerning the nature of God, the requirements for salvation, the Trinity, biblical literalism, whether certain activities are or are not sinful, etc. The overall effect is that the religion of Jesus is splintered into countless factions in a manner that incites internecine hostilities and diminishes its worldwide impact. As the CEO above, God should be fired for incompetency.
(2473) Bears in the backyard
Suppose your neighbor told you that every night there have been bears in your backyard fighting each other. You say that you have never seen them, but the neighbor insists that he has. The next day you wake up in the middle of the night, but see no bears. The neighbor tells you that when you turned on the light, the bears departed quickly. So you go out into your yard and try to find some evidence that bears have been fighting there. You examine the grass to see if there are any disturbances that would be expected to exist, you examine the lawn furniture to see if it has been toppled or rearranged, you take a look at the fence to see if it has been damaged in any way. This inspection reveals nothing.
You respect your neighbor and consider him to be a truthful person. But you are faced with a quandary. You are unable to see the bears or view any evidence that they have been fighting in the backyard. So you must make a decision- either accept the neighbor’s assertion and believe that the bears are indeed fighting in your backyard, or you reluctantly conclude that your neighbor is mistaken or he is lying.
So, in this analogy, the neighbor represents religious believers, and the backyard is the world. They are telling you that the bears (Gods, angels, demons) exist and that they are fighting in your backyard (world) but you cannot see them and you also cannot see any evidence that they have left behind. You can either choose to mindlessly believe, or, more admirably, follow your senses and basic logic to conclude that the bears are not there.
(2474) Non-identity relational scriptures
Christianity came to view Jesus as God, which was heretical to Judaism and undoubtedly to Jesus himself, if we assume his historical reality. Although this tradition permeates all of Christendom today, it was not so during the 1st and 2nd Centuries while the Bible was being written. Embedded in the scriptures we can find many examples where Jesus is portrayed as being separate from God (not just the Father).
“Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
1 Cor. 11:3,
But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Cor. 15:27-28,
For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
2 Cor. 4: 4,
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
1 Tim. 2:5,
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
If these scriptures could be revised today (to be consistent with the idea that Jesus was God), all of the references to ‘God’ would be changed to ‘God, the Father.’ This would support that idea of the Trinity, that Jesus is one of three personages making up God.
But these residual passages lets us know that early Christians did not view Jesus as God, but rather as a human who was exalted by God to serve the purpose of substitutional atonement. If Christianity is true and Jesus was indeed God, we would expect that the entirety of the New Testament would consistently support this view. It does not.
(2475) Faith healers retreat into their mansions
We have just witnessed a world-wide test of the ability of Christian faith-healers (ala Benny Hinn, et al) to actually heal people. Just when it was time for them to shine and demonstrate the wondrous healing power of Jesus, they have disappeared into their mansions, clearly concerned about the possibility of themselves contracting COVID-19. If there was any truth to their faith-healing powers, we would be seeing them visiting hospitals and healing the sickest patients, those on ventilators who are tenuously hanging on to life.
Christians should ask themselves why this is happening. The gospels are full of references to the healing power of God. Although Jesus did most of the healing, he clearly stated that his followers could do the same, and allegedly they did, up to and including raising the dead. Why is this power no longer available?
(2476) How Paul came to his delusion
Christianity exists today solely because of one man, Paul, who by means of a delusional vision and sketchy theology, created the bedrock of Christianity, excising it from its Jewish roots and separating it from the core message of Jesus (whether or not he was real). Most Christians don’t realize that the first (what was to become) New Testament scripture was Paul’s letters to various churches encircling the Mediterranean Sea. The first gospel authors (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) did not fully endorse Paul’s ideas, though the final gospel (John) did. Absent Paul’s letters and the gospel he inspired, Christianity would likely be nothing more than a branch of Judaism, still fully incorporating Jewish law. The following was taken from:
The first Christians came to see Jesus as the messiah from their reading of passages in the Jewish scriptures that talk about one of God’s righteous ones suffering for the sins of others (cf. Isaiah 53; Psalm 22) These passages don’t explicitly refer to the messiah, but Christians claimed they did. Jews saw Jesus simply as a crucified criminal; to call Jesus the messiah was blasphemous. This was the reason Paul persecuted the Christians.
Three years after Jesus crucifixion, Paul, deeply tormented by his own crucifixion of Christians has a “vision” in which he believes that he sees Jesus. He believes his vision to be true and now, knowing that Jesus is the son of God, has to reconcile Christ’s death. He no longer sees Jesus’s crucifixion as just the Romans using their standard M.O. to kill their no-goods, but now he reasoned, it must have been for a higher purpose.
Using his extensive knowledge of Jewish “law”, Paul rationalized thusly… Because Abraham was made “right with God” through faith (he actually believed God when God told him that Sara, his aged wife, would bear him many children) BEFORE he was circumcised, Paul reasoned that one could be made right with God by faith alone; no circumcision required.
He no longer saw Jesus as one who was cursed by God (in his crucifixion) but one who fulfilled God’s own purposes. He reasoned that Jesus’ death must have had a divine purpose and concluded that Jesus’ death was the way God deals with sin. Paul probably continued to keep Jewish Law, but came to believe that following the Law could not put a person in right standing before God; only Christ’s death could do that.
Paul also came to believe that, Jesus’ resurrection signified that the end of time was near. Paul believed, as did many Jews, that the end of time and the Last Judgment were near. He believed Jesus was raised from the dead as the “first fruit,” meaning that the celebration of the “harvest” (the end of time) had begun; Jesus would return to Earth in glory and this would happen in Paul’s own lifetime.
Once convinced of this, Paul began proclaiming his new faith in Jesus as the one whose death could restore people to a right standing before God. This can be seen above all in the story of Abraham, the “father of the Jews,” who was made right with God by faith, not by following the Law: Abraham was made right with God before he was given the Law about circumcision, meaning that circumcision is not necessary for a right standing with God. Paul uses this example to show that salvation comes not by Law but by having faith in the promise of God, which is fulfilled by Christ’s death. It brought a right relationship with God. Thus the death of Jesus was God’s sacrifice etc.
Furthermore, Paul lived in an age when apocalyptic beliefs were very prevalent. He himself believed the end of the earth was about to occur. Now, with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was proof-positive that the end of the world was at hand and, having seen Jesus, “the son of God” three years after his death, Paul KNEW that the end had begun.
It is transparent that Paul had a greater influence in founding Christianity than did Jesus or anyone else. His influence contaminated whatever happened around the ministry of Jesus, found its way partially into the early gospels, and fully into the final one. Most evangelical Christians favor the Gospel of John and the letters of Paul as the definition of their faith. Thus Christianity is a misnomer, what Christians follow today is Paulinity.
(2477) The trilemma
It is possible for a person to be well-informed. It is possible for a person to exercise intellectual honesty. And it is possible for a person to hold supernatural beliefs. However it is not possible, given the reality of our existence, to possess all three of these traits at the same time. You must choose two at the most. The following was taken from:
You can choose no more than two of the following three attributes:
being well informed: knowing relevant information on epistemology and the subject in question; this subsumes things like having access to sources of information like schools, well-assorted libraries, the internet and having a more than average knowledge (accounting for a relatively low average on a worldwide scope) about the sciences and philosophy. This also accounts for a minimal mental capacity i.e. being able to follow arguments (as in ought implies can) – in my view this last point rarely is the bottleneck but not never.
being intellectually honest: not choosing to neglect information, counterarguments, evidence; not suppressing but trying to resolve cognitive dissonance; being aware of the countless fallacies humans are prone to; not having a relativist conception of “truth”; not believing something because it is beneficial, socially acceptable, pragmatic, easy or in any other form desirable, but strictly because one cares about (getting closer to) truth. Not making (preposterously) imparsimonious, merely self-serving or unnecessary assumptions (with little to no explanatory power) like presupposing a god. (For further clarification see this excellent talk on intellectual honesty by philosopher T. Metzinger.)
holding supernatural beliefs – like (most) religions: disclaimer: I won’t provide a definition for the notoriously “difficult” to define term supernatural. If you hold and defend any “supernatural claim” you can provide your own definition if needed; usually gods, angels, miracles, souls, afterlives etc. are considered such; a belief that is rejected by most atheists probably applies; many non-religious beliefs by esoterics of ghosts, (non-physical) energies, homeopathy, karma etc. apply as well.
If you are well-informed and intellectually honest, you cannot hold supernatural beliefs. If you are well-informed and hold supernatural beliefs, you cannot be intellectually honest. If you are intellectually honest and hold supernatural beliefs, you cannot be well-informed. This does not have to be- in a world inhabited by actual supernatural beings, you could be all three. But that is not the world that we inhabit.
(2478) The Great Procrastinator
As much as most Christians may wish to divorce their faith from the atrocities in the Old Testament, they remain there, in their bibles, unless they use a thinner version with only the New Testament (which itself is riddled with the greatest atrocity of all- hell). In the very first book, Genesis, we see something that no good god would design or allow to happen- a 400-year planned period of enslavement and misery before administering a blessing- kind of like parent telling a child, “I’m going to beat you for two hours, but then I will give you an ice cream cone.” The following was taken from:
One Bible text that can stop the God-Is-Good crowd dead in its tracks is Genesis 15:13-14:
Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”
Was this promise of “great possessions” tacked on as an enticement? Back in Abraham’s day there were many tribal gods, so why would he choose a god who promised that his descendants would become slaves and be oppressed for four hundred years? Why wouldn’t that be a deal-breaker—no matter how many possessions? Moreover, how does any sound, respectable theology absorb, adjust to, this concept of God: A deity who allows such suffering, whose plan encompasses inexplicable delay.
In light of this text, it might be appropriate to suggest that this God deserves a new title: The Great Procrastinator. Why do today what can be put off for centuries?
He was still at this game in New Testament times. Both Jesus and Paul expected the arrival of the Kingdom of God in the near future, “before this generation passes away” according to Jesus. Paul promised one of his congregations (I Thess. 4) that they all—himself included— would meet Jesus “in the air” coming on the clouds of heaven. But the Great Procrastinator hasn’t budged. Jesus even taught his disciples to urge God on, in the prayer he recommended: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…” Jesus seemed eager to speed its arrival, but here we are, 2,000 years later, with no evidence whatever that earth has been blessed with any such Kingdom. Human history has played out so horrendously: What is God waiting for? What is the purpose of prolonged human suffering?
Massive human suffering disconfirms the God Christians wish for: the high rate of infant mortality for millennia, thousands of genetic diseases, mass starvations, genocides, slavery, serfdom, poverty, plagues, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes. This magnitude of suffering is evidence that a good, powerful god, with a caring eye on humanity, is not a reality.
There are no apologetics that can mask the ridiculousness of this scripture nor explain what God is waiting for. This is one of those cases where it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it even quacks like a duck, but somebody is trying to convince you that it is not a duck. In this case the duck plays the role of the overly apparent non-existence of a god.
(2479) God’s to-do list
Sometimes it is good to step back and view Christianity via a minimal facts approach. Cutting through all the trillions of words penned over the centuries arguing about this verse or that dogma and arriving at a simple, distilled summary of what we have been asked to believe. The following was taken from:
God’s To-Do List:
- Make man.
- Give them free will.
- Slaughter 99.9% of them for using it.
- Randomly favor one group.
- Never speak or write a single word.
- Legalize slavery and ban shrimp.
- Kill himself for a weekend.
When seen through this lens, the absurdity of Christianity is unmasked. To anyone outside the bubble of indoctrination, the truth or rather untruth of this faith is extraordinarily obvious. This to-do list is unbecoming any deity or even for that matter a regular human.
(2480) Old texts used to generate new narratives
The gospel authors used a literary technique where they scoured stories and prophecies from the Old Testament to construct a narrative surrounding the life of Jesus. In other words, they constructed stories that had no connection to oral tradition, witness statements, or earlier documents- they simply used their knowledge of Jewish scriptures to manufacture out of thin air stories that depicted what they thought the messiah was supposed to be, do, and say. The following was taken from:
Most Christian fundamentalists would insist that the account in John 9, where Jesus heals a blind man, is the accurate report of an actual event. But, whether they realize it or not, they often use that story to describe their own experience of salvation. How do they do that? They do it by singing “Amazing Grace,” one line of which affirms, “I once was lost, but now I’m found [like the prodigal son], “was blind, but now I see” [like the man in John 9]. Notice how the artful repackaging of two earlier texts is no longer being used solely to recount stories from the distant past but instead to depict a more recent event!
As I’ve noted in my book, theologian David Strauss identified this practice 180 years ago when he talked about “finding details in the life of Jesus evidently sketched after the pattern of prophecies and prototypes.” I’m not really interested in criticizing the evangelists for using this creative literary technique; I just want to be sure that those engaged in historical research recognize the prevalence of the practice and evaluate its use accordingly. Two modern literary critics have done a wonderful job explaining the technique, Frank Kermode and Northrup Frye. Kermode shows how “the old texts have…generated the new narrative” (Genesis of Secrecy, 105), and Frye reminds us that “the Gospel writers care nothing about the kind of evidence that would interest a biographer…they care only about comparing events in their accounts of Jesus with what the Old Testament, as they read it, said would happen to the Messiah” (Great Code, 41).
If historical Jesus experts would take such insights more seriously, they would have to admit that many stories about Jesus likely have no historical basis.
Most Christians read the Bible with the same credibility filter that they use when reading a newspaper. But the difference between these two textual sources could not be starker. One is based on fact-checked scholarship while the other is mired in mythical fiction. Virtually nothing in the gospels should be accepted at face value- even their authors themselves did not intend them to be taken literally.
(2481) The limits of prophecy
Many Christians defend their faith by bragging about how amazing it is that the Bible’s prophecies all came true. Of course, objective biblical scholars understand that many of the so-called fulfilled prophecies were ‘fulfilled’ before the fact; that is, they were post-dated to prophesize an event that had already happened. Or else, a story was simply made up to ‘fulfill’ a prophecy- this was a favorite of the gospel authors. A third way of ‘fulfilling prophecy’ was for someone to deliberately do something that they thought was prophesized by the scriptures. It has been conjectured that Jesus might have done this, especially when he allegedly rode a donkey into Jerusalem.
But even if we credit prophecy fulfillment as being positively evidential for Christianity, there remains a giant hole in the argument- where are the prophecies that should have been made for events and discoveries that would occur over the ensuing twenty centuries? They are absolutely missing. The following was taken from:
“My point is that no religious book contains anything so profound as to prove divine inspiration from an All Knowing Intelligence. Where’s the Bible verse that says “giant beasts as tall as trees used to rule the earth and humans will someday discover their fossils”? Where’s the verses about energy, gravitational waves, relativity, planets, galaxies, molecular biology, DNA, chemistry, the periodic table, neuroscience?”
“Where’s the prophecy about World War1 and 2, 9/11? Islamic terrorism? Native American genocide? Where’s the prophecy that says Jews will be executed by German Nazis? Where’s the prophecy about humans creating cities with 400 foot buildings. The moon landing, the space station, satellites, rovers? Where’s the prophecies about Cancer, AIDS, COVID-19? Where’s the prophecies about technology, Cameras, lightbulbs, harnessing electricity, the internet, smart phones, instant long distance communication?.. Where’s the prophecies about drones? Trains, cars, planes?”
Some will say that God was not focused on events beyond the destruction of Jerusalem (CE 70) and therefore did not telepath information about any following events. This might be so, but the failure of the Bible to anticipate the remarkable advances in technology, the discoveries of science, and the cataclysmic events of past centuries represents a missed opportunity for the Bible to be credentialed as a truly supernaturally-sourced showpiece.
(2482) The nail in the coffin
If you had to pick one scripture to demonstrate that the Bible is not the work of God, this might be it:
When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.
Let’s unpack this. You go to war and kill a bunch of people, but you see a good-looking woman that you find attractive, so you arrest her, take her as a prisoner to your home (obviously non-consensually), shave off all of her hair (why?), trim her nails (again, why?), and strip her naked (I guess we know why). Then, after she has lived in your house for a month and spent all of that time mourning her parents (whom you have killed), then she can become your wife. That is until you get tired of her, and then (and only then) she can leave.
This is in the book that Christians hold up as the ultimate moral guide for today’s world. The idea that the force that created the physical laws of the universe would inspire or dictate this passage, or even allow it to be written into his holy book, is beyond any semblance of believability. Even a devout Christian would have to agree that it was just a man who wrote this and that no god participated or intervened. And, further, that God allowed this to happen, to contaminate his message to mankind with the sadistic, misogynistic permission to commit an atrocity. This is the nail in the coffin.
(2483) Exaggerating Roman debauchery to promote Christianity
It is well known that the practice of pious fraud (deliberate deception for the goal of converting people) was practiced extensively in early Christian times, and continues to be used even now. One example of this were two 3rd Century Christian writers who used Roman critiques of salacious behavior of its citizens to misrepresent the moral vacuum that Christians were inhabiting at the time. The following was taken from:
Early Christian author Lactantius (ca. 240 – ca. 320) — along with his anti-Christian contemporary, Porphyry of Tyre (c. 234–c. 305) — wildly exaggerated the stories of orgies and other forms of debauchery that 1st century Romans allegedly practiced. Oddly enough, many of these stories were based upon anti-religious critiques written by Romans themselves in the 1st century. (In other words, Christians used Roman anti-religious writings to attack Roman religion and promote Christianity. Right.) Christian historians have used these stories ever since to emphasize what early Christians allegedly struggled against in their society. As historian Gillian Clark writes in Christianity and Roman Society (2004):
Christian polemic presented traditional Roman religion as worshipping a multitude of idols (ch. 1). These man-made images, Christians argued, were obviously powerless: how can you reverence a god when you know the man who made it? Or if the images did have some power, that was because demons had taken up residence in them, and had deluded people into offering them sacrifice. ‘Demons’ are daimones, the traditional Greek word for lesser divine beings: in philosophical texts they may be benign powers, but in Christian texts they are malevolent. ‘The gods of the nations are demons’ (Psalms 96.4) was a favourite Bible quotation. So Christian writers said that it was hardly surprising if Roman society had deplorably low moral standards, its culture encouraged extravagant display, and its laws allowed men to commit adultery and to reject their newborn children (ch. 6). This was only to be expected, because, under demonic influence, the traditional religion failed to Offer any moral teaching, and its festivals presented stories about gods behaving badly. But these Christian attacks borrowed extensively from Roman philosophical critique Of religious practices, and from the bitter social commentary deployed in Roman satire. (The critique has remarkable powers of survival. ‘ Pagan’ is still widely associated with uninhibited sexuality, and ‘Roman’ with ‘orgy’, which is a hostile interpretation Of Greek orgia, one form Of religious ritual.) Thus the Christian Lactantius and the anti-Christian Porphyry, in the late third century, have a common stock of examples and of rhetoric denouncing empty images, delusive demons, and the allegedly wise who mislead the simple (Digeser 2000).
It is an easy calculation to make. If a person believes that their friend is bound for an eternity of suffering, and that telling a lie might help to lead that person to salvation, then telling that lie is not sinful and is actually a commendable and even rewardable act. This should make any objective person suspicious when a pious person relays information or a story that appears to support their theistic beliefs.
(2484) Blood atonement requirement inconsistent with Judaism
Paul made it clear that a person’s salvation was dependent on the blood atonement offered by Jesus on the cross. There was no other way to be saved except by the shedding of blood. If this is true, then God must have changed his mind, because such a blanket requirement is unknown in Jewish scriptures. The following is taken from:
One of the cornerstones of Christian theology is that the only way to achieve atonement for sins is through the offering of a sacrifice whose blood is shed in our place. The Greek Testament makes this very clear in Hebrews 9:22 “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Is this idea consistent with the teachings of the Tanach, or do the Jewish and Christian bibles diverge on this issue? Christians generally insist that the absolute need for a vicarious blood sacrifice is rooted in the Torah, and cite as proof Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” Are there differences between Christianity vs Judaism? Let’s find out.
If you are a Christian, or are a Jew who has been approached by Christian missionaries, you have probably heard many sermons on the topic of atonement, and have undoubtedly read many studies which support the contention that there is no atonement without blood. Of course you are also aware that this is a teaching which is not shared by traditional Jews. Have you ever wondered how they could reject what to others seems so clear? This study has been prepared to give you the opportunity to consider a different perspective on the vital issue of atonement.
ANOTHER LOOK AT LEVITICUS 17:11
You might remember that in junior high school, we were often given an assignment to write the title for a story; what is the central idea of a passage. Let’s look at Leviticus 17:11 in context:
“And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who consumes any blood, I will set My face against that person who consumes blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. Therefore, I say to the children of Israel, `No one among you shall consume blood, nor shall any stranger who sojourns among you consume blood.'”
What should immediately be apparent is that the topic of this passage is not how to secure atonement from sins, but the prohibition against consuming blood. We are told parenthetically that the reason for this prohibition is that the blood contains the vitality of the animal (cf. Genesis 9:4, Deuteronomy 12:23) and consequently, when we bring an animal sacrifice, its blood serves as the atoning agent, and not another part of its body. Since Leviticus 17 doesn’t come to teach us about the principles of atonement, we will have to look elsewhere for the Bible’s most important teaching on how to repair our relationships with G-d.
Before proceeding, let’s consider another point about what is, and what is not being said in Leviticus 17:11. The passage does say that since blood symbolizes the life of the animal, G-d has given it to us as a means of atoning for our sins. But does the verse clearly teach that it is the only means G-d has provided to make atonement? As with any other Biblical study, we will have to examine this question in light of the Bible as a whole. But for now, we should note that our verse merely says that blood can serve as an atonement. It is an effective means of atonement, but by no means the only form of atonement.
In the Torah, blood sacrifices were not the only path to atonement; there were other ways to achieve forgiveness. For example, incense served to atone for the people in Numbers 16:46-47, and giving charity is described in Exodus 30:15-16 and Numbers 31:50 as `making atonement for your souls’ – the same expression as in Leviticus 17:11. In reality, blood sacrifices were the least effective of all the means of atonement mentioned in the Bible. One important limitation to the effectiveness of sacrifices is that they were only brought for unintentional sins (ie. someone didn’t know that kindling a fire was prohibited on the Sabbath, or they were aware of this, but thought it was Sunday when kindling the fire). Sacrifices did not help to atone for sins that were done intentionally (Leviticus 4, and Numbers 15:22-31).
Examining the Christian interpretation of Leviticus 17:11 generates some serious problems. What happens if someone can’t afford to purchase an animal for his sin offering? Is it possible that G-d would institute a system of atonement that could only be used by the wealthy? The Torah took this into account and allowed the poor person to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons if he couldn’t afford a lamb (Leviticus 5:7). However, what if someone was so destitute, that he couldn’t afford even these small birds?
“But if his means are insufficient for two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then for his offering for that which he has sinned, he shall bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall not put oil on it or place incense on it, for it is a sin offering.” (Leviticus 5:11)
Since flour could be used for a sin offering, it is clear that blood was not a prerequisite for atonement. Another example will drive home the point. The proposition that only blood sacrifices could secure atonement creates a dilemma. Could it be that G-d would set up a system of atonement that wouldn’t be available to all people at all times? While the Temple stood, sacrifices did serve as part of the atonement process. But what is the fate of Jewish people who don’t have access to the Temple? What were the Jewish people supposed to do after 586 BCE when the first Temple was destroyed and they were exiled to Babylon? What did the Jewish people do in the times of the Macabees when the Syrian-Greeks were in control of the Temple and didn’t allow sacrifices?
This is another in a series of problems with mating Christianity to Judaism. There are disconnects that cannot be resolved except by force fitting a square peg into a round hole. The god of Christianity and the god of Judaism are two different mythological figures.
(2485) Is Jesus a Jekyll and Hyde?
Christianity teaches that Jesus is God, but if true then the God who commanded us to ‘love your enemies’ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:44) is the same God who made the following statements as recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. Is Jesus a Jekyll and Hyde? The following was taken from:
“When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.
WAIT A MINUTE. I THOUGHT…
And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
TURN THE OTHER CHEEK???
But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself;
STEAL EVERYTHING … AND DO WHAT WITH THE WOMEN?
,.and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.
AH… THERE’S THE LOVE, GOD LOVES TO KILL AND STEAL, GIVE THE JEWS WHAT IS NOT THEIRS!
Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.
But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee
Deuteronomy 20: 10-17
In case you lost the message in the evil words, let me sum them up for you:
- Lie to the citizens.
- Make them your slaves if they believe your lie.
- If they don’t believe you, stand back and let God beat the shit out of them
- Then kill EVERY male and rape the women, no matter how old.
- Steal everything they own.
- But for those cities that God has given for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.
There are two different outcomes here: kill only males in the non-inheritance cities; save alive nothing that breatheth in the cities which the LORD thy God doth give as an inheritance. Now how’s that for love, justice, and mercy? Not so great if you were Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, or Jebusite.
The image you worship i.e. the LORD, is a hideous monster. How can you possibly love, worship and praise it?
Oh, and by the way, what makes the citizens of these cities enemies? Well the fact that they had the misfortune to inhabit a city that God had promised to the Children of Israel, that’s what. Except for instructions on how to sell your daughter into slavery, it can’t get any worse than this; can it?
How can this be the same Jesus who commanded us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek? We have five options: (1) Jesus is not God, so only God is the monster, (2) Jesus is God, but he has a breathtaking personality disorder (he’s a Jekyll and Hyde), (3) The scripture in Deuteronomy is fraudulent and has nothing to do with a god, (4) The gospels are fraudulent and Jesus never said anything about loving your enemies, or (5) all of this is just made up. Christians must pick one of these five options…choose wisely!
(2486) Using the Bible to reproach God
Richard Dawkins penned the following smackdown of the Christian god as he is portrayed in the Old Testament:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Christians will complain that this is a misrepresentation of their god. However, in response, it is an easy task to take their bibles and point to scriptures in it that forcefully defend every element of that sentence. The following was taken from:
jealous and proud of it
How jealous and proud is he? Well, his name is Jealous. And he named himself!
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Exodus 34:14
Here are some more verses where God brags about his jealousy.
I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Exodus 20:5
For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Deuteronomy 4:24
I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Deuteronomy 5:9
(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 6:15
The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven. Deuteronomy 29:20
They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. Deuteronomy 32:16
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. Deuteronomy 32:21
He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. Joshua 24:19
And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins. 1 Kings 14:22
And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. Ezekiel 8:3
Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. Ezekiel 8:5
I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. Ezekiel 16:38
So will I make my fury toward thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet, and will be no more angry. Ezekiel 16:42
And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire. Ezekiel 23:25
Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen. Ezekiel 36:5
For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel. Ezekiel 38:19
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; Nahum 1:2
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. Zechariah 1:14
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Zechariah 8:2
All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. Zephaniah 3:8
A golden bell and a pomegranate … shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not. Exodus 28:34-35Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. Leviticus 19:19
Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 17:1
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together. Deuteronomy 22:11
Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself. Deuteronomy 22:12
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1
A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation. Deuteronomy 23:2
If thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. Exodus 4:23The LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast. Exodus 13:15
I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Exodus 20:5
Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers. Isaiah 14:21
See here for a list of Old Testament injustices.
He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. Joshua 24:19
Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble. Jeremiah 11:14
When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. Jeremiah 14:12
Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. Ezekiel 8:18
But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: … The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods (hemorrhoids), and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: … Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: … The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head. … And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters … The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them. Deuteronomy 28:15-68
I kill .. I wound … I will render vengeance to mine enemies … I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh. Deuteronomy 32:39-42He will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries. Deuteronomy 32:43
To me belongeth vengeance and recompence … for the day of their calamity is at hand. Deuteronomy 32:35
And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them. Nunbers 11:1
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: Jeremiah 11:22
For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood. Jeremiah 46:10
And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. Micah 5:15
And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD. Leviticus 4:17
And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. Leviticus 26:29
I kill .. I wound … I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh. Deuteronomy 32:39-42
But God shall wound the head of his enemies … That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same. Psalm 68:21-23
For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. Isaiah 34:2-3
For my sword shall be bathed in heaven. Isaiah 34:5
The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, … their land shall be soaked with blood, … For it is the day of the LORD’s vengeance. Isaiah 34:7-8
And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine. Isaiah 49:26
I will … trample them in my fury; and their blood … will stain all my raiment. Isaiah 63:2-6
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9
For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood. Jeremiah 46:10
Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. Jeremiah 48:10
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ezekiel 39:17
Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth. Ezekiel 39:18
And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you. Ezekiel 39:19
And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Zephaniah 1:17
See here for a list of Old Testament cruelties.
Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:15
Thus saith the LORD of hosts … go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, an do ye to them as is good in your eyes. Genesis 19:8
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 1 Samuel 18:27
And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged. Leviticus 19:20
And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire. Leviticus 21:9
And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Nunbers 31:15-19
And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women … shalt thou take unto thyself. Deuteronomy 20:13-14
And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her …. Thou shalt go in unto her. Deuteronomy 21:11-13
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated …. Deuteronomy 21:15
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her … Deuteronomy 22:13
I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid. Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city. But if … the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:14-21
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24
When two men strive together on with another, and the wife of the one … putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
Have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two? Judges 5:30
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 1 Samuel 18:27
Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 2 Samuel 12:11
And her daughters which are in the field shall be slain by the sword; and they shall know that I am the LORD Ezekiel 26:6
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13
One of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses … And when Phinehas … saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. Numbers 25:6-8
The LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 7:6
An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever. Deuteronomy 23:3
At midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon. Exodus 12:29
Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. Leviticus 26:16
I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children. Leviticus 26:22
And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. Leviticus 26:29
Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. … And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick… on the seventh day, that the child died. 2 Samuel 12:14-18
Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers. Ezekiel 5:10
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9
Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. Deuteronomy 13:15
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. Deuteronomy 20:16-17
So smote all the country … he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. Joshua 10:40
Thus saith the LORD of hosts … go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and … offer him there for a burnt offering. Genesis 22:2
For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death. Leviticus 20:9
And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire. Leviticus 21:9
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods … hou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. Deuteronomy 13:6-10
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. Psalm 137:9
And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague. Nunbers 11:33
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Nunbers 21:6
The hand of the LORD was against the city … and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 1 Samuel 5:9
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? … So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel … and there died of the people … seventy thousand men. 2 Samuel 24:13
So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee: and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it. Ezekiel 5:17
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly. 2 Samuel 22:8-11
Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 38:23
Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 23:34
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark … fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. Ezekiel 9:4-7
Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. Ezekiel 8:18
And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 12:20
And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. Jeremiah 15:3And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD. Ezekiel 38:21-23
There is no way for a Christian to question the source of this information. It is in their bibles, the same book they carry to church every Sunday. The question they should be asking themselves is ‘why am I worshiping this thug?’
(2487) Secular nations fare better in pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a real-life test of whether faith in science or faith in religion has the greatest benefit. The result has shown that science trumps religion by a decisive margin, as states that are more secular have fared better in controlling the outbreak. This is the opposite of what would be expected if God was an actual entity interacting in human affairs. The following was taken from:
Back in mid-March, nearly 40 percent of congregants who attended services at a small church in rural Arkansas came down with COVID-19, and a few subsequently died. In April, at least 70 people who attended a church in Sacramento caught the virus, and a pastor in Virginia who piously defied social distancing orders within his flock died from COVID-19. “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” he had proclaimed before his demise.
More recently, at the end of May, the Idaho Falls Potter’s House Christian Center held a multi-day, in-person worship revival; at least 30 of those who participated subsequently acquired COVID-19. A week earlier, 40 parishioners who attended a church service in Frankfurt, Germany, tested positive. A popular preacher in Cameroon who preached to hundreds—and claimed that the touch of his hands could cure the virus—died from the virus on May 16. In South Korea, it was just announced that the virus has erupted among some churches in Seoul. In Israel, the worst hot-spots for the virus appear to be concentrated in the most devout or fundamentalist religious communities.
What is going on here?
While most religious people, communities, and congregations have taken COVID-19 seriously and have followed recommended social distancing practices, many of those pushing hardest to denounce or limit social distancing are strongly religious. The fact is, this pandemic has brought into stark relief the underlying differences between a staunchly secular worldview and a fundamentally religious worldview.
Secular people—that is, atheists, agnostics, humanists, etc.—do not necessarily believe in God, an afterlife, or in any supernatural claims. In the view of many of them, this natural world is all there is. This life, this time: that’s it. As such, secular people do not have faith in any saviors who can suspend the laws of the natural world to relieve those in need. Nor do they believe that there is any deity out there who will respond to prayer. As such, many secular people put their faith in the potential of humans to do good and seek justice. They tend to place their hope in the rigorous, empirical study of the natural world in the hopes that such study—known as science—can discover ways to improve and even save life.
In contrast, religious people—be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, Sikh, etc.—tend to share an implicit belief in the existence of God (or gods) who may respond to properly-conveyed prayers, a belief in some form of afterlife, belief in disparate supernatural claims, and they may see this material world as but one realm of existence among far more majestic, meaningful, or transcendent realms. As such, for many, a portion of their attention is focused on beseeching a deity for help, employing prayer and other spiritual means to solve problems, or channeling financial resources to spiritual leaders. Furthermore, suffering in this life—and even death—while not necessarily welcomed, can be seen as, nonetheless, transitory phenomena leading to a more glorious existence.
The results of these different orientations can, sometimes, literally be matters of life and death. We see this in terms of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, the strongly secular are more likely to accept the findings and dictates of science while the strongly religious are more likely to ignore or distrust such empiricism, favoring instead faith. According to a recent study done by Brett Pelham, Americans living in highly religious parts of the country were markedly less likely to look up scientific advice regarding best-practices for staying safe in the face of the current pandemic than Americans living in highly secular parts of the country. When he controlled for educational attainment, the correlation still held.
According to a recent report, those states that are providing the best support systems to protect their at-risk populations from COVID-19 tend to be the more secular states with lower rates of church attendance and faith in God—states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Maine—while those states with the worst support systems are nearly all states with highly religious cultures, such as Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Furthermore, those states allowing religious exemptions for social distancing are, perhaps not surprisingly, those with the most religious populations and leaders, while the more secular states aren’t offering the same exemptions.
Internationally, we see that those developed countries with largely secular populations and secular leaders—such as New Zealand, South Korea, and Japan—are, on average, doing a much better job handling and even defeating COVID-19 than those developed countries which contain strongly religious populations and strongly religious leaders, such as Brazil, the U.S., and Iran.
To be sure, being religiously-involved has been correlated with many health benefits, especially in societies lacking a well-functioning welfare state that provides free and excellent health care to all citizens. For example, here in the U.S., people who attend church regularly tend to live longer and report lower stress levels.
But what we see today is that the strongly religious appear to not be faring as well as the strongly secular in the face of this global pandemic. In this instance, the widespread assumption that religious faith is a force for good while atheism is detrimental simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
It would be expected that church attendees would receive supernatural protections from a real god, but the opposite is occurring- the spread of the virus has been most pronounced within the settings of church gatherings worldwide. This despite the obvious use of more prayers in these locations. All of this has the effect of revealing the absence of God.
(2488) Christian dilemma, obedience or sacrifice?
There exist conflicting traditions in the Old Testament regarding whether God commanded or prohibited animal sacrifice. Jesus was likely a Nazarene Essene, a group that rejected animal sacrifice. But scriptures in the book of Leviticus and others contradict this position. The following was taken from:
In the above quotes from both Schonfield and Epiphanius we get another solid bit of information, they both confirm that the Nazarenes rejected animal sacrifices and eating meat. Yet anybody who reads the Bible, especially the book of Leviticus, knows on many occasions God asks for animals to be sacrificed and he even says it’s okay to eat meat after the flood of Noah. Were the Nazarene Essenes picking and choosing what to believe or is the Bible itself contradictory on what God wants from his people. This presents an interesting Christian dilemma.
This will come as a surprise to most Christians but there are contradictions in the Bible and I am about to show you one of them. God on a number of occasions commands animal sacrifices. As the Israelites left Egypt and wandered in the desert for 40 years, God clearly commands animal sacrifices on more than one occasion but in the book of Jeremiah God says something that most Christians gloss over or don’t read at all, God himself says;
Thus says Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh yourselves. For I didn’t speak to your fathers, nor command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Listen to my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk you in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. But they didn’t listen nor turn their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. (Jeremiah 7:21-24)
But if you take a glance at the books of Moses you can see that God did command sacrifices from the Israelites after they left the land of Egypt.
When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is abrought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Leviticus 22:27)
Offer the other lamb in the evening, along with the same offerings of flour and wine as in the morning. It will be a pleasing aroma, a special gift presented to the LORD.(Exodus 29:41)
‘”and an ox and a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the LORD, together with a grain offering mixed with oil. For today the LORD will appear to you.’” (Leviticus 9:4)
These pro-sacrifice verses can be easily countered by these anti-sacrifice verses.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. (Psalms 51:6).
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? ”He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)
“He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring their fears upon them, because when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes and chose that in which I did not delight.” – Isaiah 66:3-4
We can see in the anti-sacrifice verses that God only requires that we listen to his voice and walk humbly with him and killing animals for sacrifice is an abomination in the book of Isaiah chapter 66. When the Nazarenes claimed that the books of Moses were fiction and that’s why they rejected animal sacrifices, and the eating of meat their claim has to be taken seriously in light of the fact that the bible gives contradictory accounts of whether God is for or against animal sacrifices. This is the Christian dilemma, what is it that God wants from us, obedience or sacrifice? I’ll leave it to the reader to decide that.
Considering that Jesus was likely a member of the sect of Nazarenes that rejected animal sacrifice, it is spectacularly ironic that Christianity would come to extol the ultimate animal sacrifice- Jesus himself. It is likely that Jesus would have found this idea to be beyond repugnant. But outside that argument, the existence of scriptures with Yahweh both commanding and prohibiting animal sacrifice presents a problem for Christianity.
(2489) Scripture forged to defend the Trinity
There is overwhelming evidence that gospel scripture was forged to defend the evolving theory that Jesus was divine, a co-equal god to the Father. This involved the alleged statement that the Father made at the moment of Jesus’s baptism. Ten words were removed and replaced with thirteen words. The following was taken from:
Preserved in our oldest biblical manuscripts and the writings of the pre-Nicene church fathers there are ten words that are no longer in the gospels they have been removed from the scriptures, but thanks to textual criticism the truth has been uncovered. Not only are these ten words preserved in our oldest manuscripts and pre-Nicene church fathers but paradoxically they are preserved in another part of the New Testament, the book of Hebrews which proves the forgery. In one of the oldest existing biblical manuscripts known as Codex Bezae the words spoken to Jesus at his baptism by God isn’t the words we find in our biblical text today, it contains ten words that can change the Christian religion forever. To understand how this is so we must begin with the baptism of Jesus for it is here that we shall discover why these ten words are so dangerous.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
What if i told you that the underlined words in this retelling of the baptism of Jesus wasn’t the original wording but it was something else. Would you want to know what the original wording was? Would you even care? If you’re a Christian you should care because the true words that were spoken by God himself have been censored by the church of Rome. The words spoken to Jesus by God at his baptism was NOT, “This is my Son whom i love; and with him I am well pleased” the true words spoken to Jesus were, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
Christian philosopher, apologist and martyr Justin Martyr who lived from A.D. 100-165 wrote concerning Jesus in his work known as ‘Dialogue with Trypho a Jew’, Justin said:
“He was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes; by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life; but then the Holy Ghost, and for man’s sake, as I formerly stated, lighted on Him in the form of a dove, and there came at the same instant from the heavens a voice, which was uttered also by David when he spoke, personating Christ, what the Father would say to Him: `Thou art My Son: this day have I begotten Thee’” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho a Jew)
Justin then goes on to explain to Trypho:
“For this devil, when [Jesus] went up from the river Jordan, at the time when the voice spake to Him, `Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten Thee,’ is recorded in the memoirs of the apostles to have come to Him and tempted Him, even so far as to say to Him, ‘Worship me;’ and Christ answered him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve’”. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho a Jew)
The great theologian and mentor to Origen, Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) in his writing known as ‘The Instructor’ wrote concerning the baptism of Jesus:
“For at the moment of the Lord’s baptism there sounded a voice from heaven, as a testimony to the Beloved, ‘Thou art My beloved Son, to-day have I begotten Thee’” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor)
In his commentary on the gospel of John, Origen (A.D. 185-254) writes that:
None of these testimonies, however, sets forth distinctly the Savior’s exalted birth; but when the words are addressed to Him, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee‘, this is spoken to Him by God”. (Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John)
The church father Methodius (A.D. 260-312) was a Bishop, author and a Martyr. In his work titled ‘Banquet of the Ten Virgins’ he wrote that:
“Now, in perfect agreement and correspondence with what has been said, seems to be this which was spoken by the Father from above to Christ when He came to be baptized in the water of the Jordan, ‘Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee’”. (Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins)
Lactantius (A.D. 240-320) was a Christian author and adviser to the Emperor Constantine and a tutor to his son. In his ‘The Divine Insitutes‘ Lactantius writes:
“Then a voice from heaven was heard: ‘Thou art my Son, today have I begotten Thee,‘Which voice is found to have been foretold by David. And the Spirit of God descended upon Him, formed after the appearance of a white dove. From that time He began to perform the greatest miracles, not by magical tricks, which display nothing true and substantial, but by heavenly strength and power, which were foretold even long ago by the prophets who announced Him; which works are so many, that a single book is not sufficient to comprise them all” (Lactantius, The Divine Institutes)
Unless these early leaders of the Church were reading from completely different gospels the words,“Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee” have been removed from our gospel’s and replaced with, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
There is biblical evidence from outside the gospel’s where it is confirmed that the words spoken to Jesus by God was, “Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee.” This evidence can be found in the epistle to the Hebrews chapter one verse five, i am going to quote verses one through five so you can see the whole thing in it’s context, it says:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee.” (Hebrews 1:1-5)
To understand why these words clash so violently with modern Christian dogma I will quote from the Adam Clarke commentary. Commenting on the phrase “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” found in Hebrews chapter one verse five the Adam Clarke commentary says:
“This most important use of this saying has passed unnoticed by almost every Christian writer which I have seen; and yet it lies here at the foundation of all the apostle’s proofs. If Jesus was not thus the Son of God, the whole Christian system is vain and baseless: but his resurrection demonstrates him to have been the Son of God; therefore everything built on this foundation is more durable than the foundations of heaven, and as inexpugnable as the throne of the eternal King.” (Adam Clarke Commentary on Hebrews 1:5)
The Adam Clarke commentary exposes it’s Christian bias when it claims:
“The words, This day have I begotten thee, must refer either to his incarnation, when he was miraculously conceived in the womb of the virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit; or to his resurrection from the dead.” (Adam Clarke Commentary on Hebrews 1:5)
This is a forced way of interpreting this passage, when God told Jesus, ‘this day have I begotten you’ he was referring to that moment in time which means at his baptism in the river Jordan Jesus became the Christ/Son of God for the first time. This contradicts the doctrine of the trinity which says Jesus was eternally God but as we saw in part one, the trinity concept was added to the bible centuries after the bible was finished. What this means is that Jesus was a man who became the Son of God, this of course goes against Christian dogma that Jesus is divine.
Anytime you see scriptures being altered, it lets you know that dogma takes priority over the sacred word. Instead of dogma being constrained by scripture, scripture is at one’s disposal if it conflicts with an emerging dogma. That is what occurred here and it should concern any discerning Christian.
(2490) God is not very smart
If it is assumed that God possess all of the qualities that most Christians assume, then it is easy to make the case that this god is not very intelligent. In fact, he is quite dumb. The following was taken from:
For the purposes of this discussion I am assuming that God exists, the Bible is correct, and God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. I am also making a distinction here between knowledge and intelligence, such that it would be possible to know everything, but still not be very smart. I find that if I look at the world through this lens, it appears as though God isn’t very smart. Here are some of the reasons for this position:
(1) God tells humans to follow illogical and harmful rules. (eg. Deut 22:13-30) He wants what is best for humans (since he is omnibenevolent) and he knows that following these rules would be detrimental to humans (since he is omniscient). But he still gives us these harmful rules anyways, which suggests to me that he is probably not very smart. Humans in fact have realized God’s errors and no longer follow rules that clearly are going to be unfair and harmful.
(2) God hides his own existence from people. He wants for everyone to be saved or at least for everyone to have the choice to be saved if that’s what they want (since he is omnibenevolent). He knows (because he is omniscient) that if people have no good reason to believe he exists, they are not going to be able to choose salvation. Yet he conceals his existence from many people, but not from everyone. It suggests he must not be very smart because he can’t come up with a reasonable plan to achieve his goals and even appears to doing this contrary to his own goals.
(3) He pointlessly harms humans. Examples would be flooding people, destroying cities, ordering mass killings, etc. We know he wants to minimize needless harm to humans (because he is omnibenevolent). But he does things that cause a lot of “collateral damage” to achieve his ends. Even if he has some reason for needing to kill a lot of bad people, he does so in ways that don’t seek to minimize harm to innocent people or reduce the suffering of those he wants to kill.
(4) He makes false promises to his believers, such as promising to heal those who pray, and then doesn’t always follow through. This makes his own promises look like any other false promises that other religions have made over the years. He knows that this is making Christianity appear to be false, driving people away. He knows that healings would be good evidence of his power if they actually worked at a rate greater than chance. So with full knowledge he is acting contrary to his own goals. This suggests he isn’t very thoughtful or considerate of the consequences of his actions. Suggesting he isn’t very smart.
The Christian god is a very sorry excuse for a god, embarrassingly so. Possessing so much talent and power and yet producing results that are pathetically unimpressive. It is almost like such a god is nothing more than a fictional being.
Groupthink is defined as the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility. It becomes especially dangerous when one’s deviation from the group’s thinking causes stress, discrimination, banishment, punishment, or even death. Christianity depends on groupthink to survive. The following was taken from:
In general, we tend to fear being wrong or ridiculed as a result of our independent thinking. We fear being different because we want to belong. We also know that defending a new idea is hard work. Yet, what if everyone else is wrong?*
The natural response to an article on groupthink is to say, “Well, I certainly am not part of any groupthink!” But statistically, the opposite is most likely true. Groupthink inhibits critical thinking, genuine self-reflection, and effective problem solving. The first step to avoid groupthink is to spot where it already exists so that you don’t get bamboozled by it next time.
Take a moment to consider your ecosystems by asking the following questions:
Are you in a group in which you self-censor because you know that if you offer your point of view you will be ridiculed, shunned, or disregarded?
Is there any group in which you always automatically agree with all the opinions and judgments of the group?
Is there any group in which you or others pressure a dissenter to change his or her views?
Is there any group in which you and the others in your group regard the “opposing” or competitive groups as evil, stupid, or weak?
It’s actually a good thing if you answered “yes” to any of these questions. It means that you have spotted an inevitable instance of the groupthink that percolates around us. You are already showing that you are open to possibility and change, which is the first key to a solid creative mindset. The consistent practice of creative thinking tools and strategies will help you loosen the groupthink for yourself and your team as you continue to break through the inertia of no.
Christianity’s survival depends on groupthink because the evidence supporting it is superficially thin, and the evidence against it is expanding daily. Without groupthink, Christianity would by now have withered to a small fraction of the population after it faced the headwinds of scientific discoveries unmasking its illogical and unfounded precepts about the world (flat and young earth, existence of evil spirits, angels, talking snake, witches, worldwide flood, etc.). Cracks in the groupthink matrix are beginning to form and once they reach a critical stage, the whole enterprise will come crashing down in dramatic fashion.
(2492) Misinterpreting earthquakes
The people who wrote the Bible, considering their geographical location, must have experienced many earthquakes. It is not surprising that they attributed them to God, and particularly to situations where God was angry. This exemplifies how people in a pre-scientific world came to understand their reality in terms of supernatural beings. Following are some scriptural examples:
He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry.
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.
His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
People will flee to caves in the rocks and to holes in the ground from the fearful presence of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to shake the earth.
the Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.
But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.
The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground.
he mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”
Whenever an earthquake occurred, it would be conjectured as to why God was angry with them. Even today hurricanes, pandemics, and such are thought by religious persons to be the wrath of God for some sin that has consumed the land. What this tells us is that religion is largely a product of human ignorance- ascribing supernatural agency to natural phenomena.
(2493) Luke was a mythographer
The person who wrote the Gospel of Luke (and later the Acts of the Apostles) was the only gospel author who made an attempt to establish his credentials as an honest reporter. However, he failed at that aim and ended up exposing himself as a purveyor of myth, causing all future objective historians to skeptically assess if not downright dismiss everything he wrote. The following was taken from:
Not too long ago I read the claim by a Christian apologist that Luke was a first-rate historian. Such confidence is no doubt based on the first four verses of that gospel:
“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”
• “to set down an orderly account of the events”
• “as they were handed on to us…by eyewitnesses”
• “after investigating everything carefully”
Who isn’t prepared to give Luke the benefit of the doubt? Though the other three gospels don’t have similar preambles, the laity throughout the ages have assumed that the gospels are trustworthy: they preserve the true story of Jesus.
But Luke’s preamble is misleading. Devout and secular historians alike have themselves “investigated everything carefully,” and know that Luke’s methods were faulty. We know, for example, that he copied more than half of Mark’s gospel, without mentioning he’d done so; today this is considered plagiarism. But it’s more worrisome if Luke considered Mark an eyewitness, since the latter gospel was written some four decades after the death of Jesus, and includes so much fantasy and folklore.
Another debate goes on as well: did Luke also copy from Matthew or from the famous Q document that supposedly existed? Even if Q did exist—and that’s a big “if”—there is no guarantee whatever that it was based on recollections of eyewitnesses; we know too that Matthew is wildly unreliable.
The bottom line: in this famous preamble Luke does not mention his sources. To be taken seriously, we would have to know where he got his information. His promise that he “investigated everything carefully” isn’t good enough. But then—and this is embarrassing—he gives himself away; the first three chapters of his gospel are religious fantasy:
An anonymous angel is given a speaking role in the opening scene in which Zechariah learns that his elderly wife will have a child (John the Baptist); the angel Gabriel has a speaking role, in delivering the news to the virgin girl named Mary that she will have a child (Jesus); an anonymous angel tells shepherds that Jesus has been born, and a “multitude of heavenly host” joins in the announcement. And woven throughout, naturally, is messianic folklore theology.
Luke falls far short of being a first-rate historian; he was a first-rate mythographer and propagandist for the early Jesus cult. He was big on angels in his sequel as well, the Book of Acts. In fact, twice in Acts angels play a role in prison breaks, first in chapter 5, but most dramatically in chapter 12—the focus of this article—in which there is an Angel of Escape and an Angel of Death.
Given the realities of life as experienced in the First Century (and ever since), it is hard to believe that Luke expected his readers to apply literalism to his account. Nobody had seen or had encounters with angels, so this must have been seen as mythology right from the start. Only later did the idea arise that he wrote actual history, something that he would likely have found amusing.
(2494) Christianity was one of 30 competing sects
Christianity arose in the early 1st Century as one of as many as 30 Jewish sects that were in competition with each other. Most of these sects held on to the prediction of a messiah who would deliver them from the stifling oppression of Roman rule. But once Rome came to be seen as invincible, a sect that re-interpreted the messiah figure as one who would deliver spiritual rather than political freedom came to be more popular. Competing sects that promised driving out the Romans withered under the growing consensus that this wasn’t going to happen. This concession was later cemented by the Roman War and destruction of the temple in CE 70. So, out of the ashes of misery and disappointment, a sect of Jews who reveled in a spiritual deliverance persisted and this eventually evolved into the Christian religion.
The following summary elements of Richard Carrier’s book On the History of Jesus are taken from this website:
The earliest form of Christianity definitely known to have originated as a Jewish sect in the region of Syria-Palestine in the early first century CE.
Christianity began in a time when Judaism started dividing into many sects. We know of up to 30 different sects that existed at the time. These sects were competing with one another in a similar way religious denominations do today. (sometimes radically) on political, theological, and moral issues.
Christianity began in a time when many Jews had long been expecting a messiah. A Messiah who would help them destroy their enemies and establish a type of Jewish new world order. The fact that at this time their holy land was under the control of the Roman government, increased the eagerness of Jews to anticipate a soon Messiah to help them conquer the Romans.
Christianity began in a time when there were many Jewish sects searching their scriptures and proclaiming they had discovered who the messiah would be.
Messianic fever was so rampant that many thought Elijah was walking among them. Around 25 CE Philo of Alexandria wrote about the messianic expectations of his generation. The Parables of Enoch and Jewish Texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (which date around the beginning of 1st Century) attest to the existence of these Messianic cults. Even Josephus records the rise of popularity of several messiahs.
Before Christianity, some Jews were expecting two messiahs, one of which would be killed before the final victory. Before Christianity, as attested by the Dead Sea Scroll (11Q13) the Melchizedek Scroll,
there were several Jewish sects who made a connection between this Melchizedek savior figure and the high-priest Onias III from Daniel who they thought was a messiah, and his death was a universal atonement. The passages in Daniel 8:10-11 (“casting down some of the host and stars…the prince of the host”), 9:26 (“shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself”) and 11:22 (“…and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant”) refer to the murder of Onias III.
The suffering-and-dying servant of Isaiah 52-53 and the messiah of Daniel 9 have numerous connections with the “Joshua Rising” figure in Zechariah 3 and 6.
This Joshua was son of Jehozadak
(the Jehozadak means Jehovah the righteous) According to Zechariah, this Joshua served as High Priest. He played a role in reconstructing the Temple, he is called God’s servant and is said to cleanse the world’s sins in a single day Zech. 3.9 Connecting the suffering servant in Isaiah 52-53 with this high priest Joshua, you get a man who stands in opposition to Satan, who is wrongly executed even though innocent, and he dies to atone for all sins, is buried and subsequently ‘raised’, exalted to the highest station in heaven appointed king with supreme heavenly power by God. (Zech. 3:7) Joshua = Yeshua, so now we also know where Christians got the name of their messiah from.
Christianity was partly an attempt to reinterpret Daniel’s failed prediction of a messianic military leader who would destroy the Jew’s oppressors (which didn’t happen), by re-imagining a ‘spiritual’ kingdom, and ever-postponing the end-times military victory to an ever-receding future.
Many messianic Jewish sects were searching scriptures for secret messages, especially messages about the Messiah and end-times. Christianity evolved from one of these sects.
There were hundreds of Jewish texts that were considered inspired scripture that are now lost to time. Christians therefore would of had a vast sea of texts to draw influences from.
Christianity was originally a Jewish messianic cult preaching a spiritually victorious messiah.
Christianity proliferated because its promise of a spiritual kingdom could artfully survive the political realities of the time- that Rome could not be defeated for at least a very long time. This ‘alternative victory’ likely appealed to some disillusioned Jews though the bulk remained within the more traditional mindset. Nevertheless, it was enough of a start to later evolve into a worldwide religion, incorporating many pagan elements along the way. It can be speculated that had the Jewish nation achieved a lasting early 1st Century military victory against Rome, Christianity would not exist today.
(2495) Jesus was not born in Bethlehem
The gospel authors misinterpreted Old Testament prophecy to determine that Jesus must have been born in Bethlehem. But even then, they failed to provide a consistent account of that expectation. A scholarly analysis of the gospels would conclude that Jesus, if he was a real historical figure, was not born in Bethlehem. The following was taken from:
In Matthew 2:5 we’re told Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. But the precise phrase “Bethlehem Ephratah” in the original prophecy of Micah 5:2 refers not to a town, but to a family clan: the clan of Bethlehem, who was the son of Caleb’s second wife, Ephratah (1 Chron. 2:19, 2:50–51, 4:4). Furthermore, Micah’s prophecy predicts a military commander who would rule over the land of Assyria (which never happened), and was certainly not about a future Messiah.
The earliest gospel of Mark begins by saying Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, not from Bethlehem (Mark 1:9). Let that sink it. The first gospel says he’s from Nazareth. In the later Gospel of John, Jesus was rejected as the Messiah precisely because the people of Nazareth knew he was born and raised in their town! That’s the whole reason they rejected him as the Messiah! They rhetorically asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee?” They said, “A prophet does not come out of Galilee” (John 7:42, 52). [He was from Nazareth. Therefore he’s not the Messiah.]
Since everyone knew the Messiah would not come from Galilee, Matthew and Luke invented conflicting stories to overcome this insurmountable problem. In Matthew’s gospel—the one most concerned with making Jesus fit prophecy—Joseph’s family is living in Bethlehem when Jesus was born (Matt. 2). In order to explain how Jesus got to Nazareth, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt because of Herod (Matt. 2:15). After Herod died, Joseph took his family to Nazareth and lived there (Matt. 2:21–23). Luke’s gospel, by contrast, claims Joseph and Mary lived in the town of Nazareth but traveled to Bethlehem for a Roman census, at which time Jesus was born (Luke 1:26; 2:4). After he was born they went back home to Nazareth (Luke 2:39).
When we compare Matthew and Luke’s accounts, Raymond Brown concludes, “Despite efforts stemming from preconceptions of biblical inerrancy or of Marian piety, it is exceedingly doubtful that both accounts can be considered historical. A review of the implications explains why the historicity of the infancy narratives has been questioned by so many scholars, even by those who do not in advance (i.e., a priori) rule out the miraculous.”
To make these stories work they invented a world-wide Roman census (per Luke), to get the holy family to Bethlehem, and the slaughter of the innocents by Herod (per Matthew), to explain why the holy family left Bethlehem for good. Matthew’s gospel invented a Messianic Star for emphasis, which was overkill, based on Numbers 24:17. But there was no census, no massacre of children and no Bethlehem star.
(2496) Assessing evidence for the resurrection
Although Christian apologists assert that evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is robust and multiply attested, a more nuanced analysis suggests the opposite. Because everything hinges on this ‘fact’ it is doubly concerning that the ‘proof’ of the claim is disturbingly camouflaged. The following was taken from:
In this post, I want to discuss some of the more common Christian arguments for the resurrection and why I don’t think they hold up very well.
(I) 500 witnesses saw the risen Christ. The only evidence we have for these ‘500 witnesses’ is Paul’s say so, in a letter meant for evangelical/edification purposes.
People could have checked his claim. Theoretically, sure. Practically, even if they could wring some names out of Paul, so they knew who they were looking for in the first place, no one in Corinth was going to sail to Palestine and scout around for any of the 500 people who may have borne witness to the risen Christ twenty years ago. Especially since this was a letter addressed to people who were already Christian believers, not likely be disposed to challenge the claim to begin with. Furthermore, even if someone had gone and checked this claim and found it wanting, why exactly would we expect any record of it?
Mass hallucinations don’t happen. I don’t know if it’s true. Mass hallucinations are at least possible theoretically, while we don’t know if resurrections are even theoretically possible. But I’ll grant it. Personally, Paul strikes me as something of an egomaniac with an autocratic disposition, so I would not be surprised if this was just a bald-faced lie on his part. But obviously I have no evidence for that, and it’s not even necessary to believe Paul invented this outright. ‘Appeared to 500’ is vague enough that it might refer to almost anything. It might have been something like Pentecostal worship services wherein those present ‘feel the spirit’, which is quickly transformed into a tale of Christ ‘appearing’ to multitudes. It might have been significantly less than 500 to begin with. It might have been something analogous to the Crichton Leprechaun incident. We have no way of knowing. I don’t think it’s particularly strong evidence for anything.
(2) The twelve disciples saw the risen Christ. And again, mass hallucinations don’t happen. There is no reason to believe all twelve of the apostles had Christophanies. The only one even named in Paul’s letters is Peter. We have nothing from any of the twelve themselves (well, we have the Petrine epistles, if you accept those as genuine, but they don’t discuss resurrection experiences anyways). Paul only ever met Peter and James, as he says himself. We don’t know what they saw, or how many of them saw anything at all. It could have been as little as Peter and one or two other apostles who had any Christophanies whatsoever. Who knows? And who says they had all of these experiences at the same time? Could be Peter had his resurrection experience (whether this was a dream, or a face in a crowd, or something more similar to Paul and Stephen’s semi-ecstatic experiences, or the full-on in the flesh visitations of the gospels, who knows?), and then under his suggestion some more of the disciples had their own days or weeks or months later. I have no clue what really happened, and neither does anyone else. All that can be said with any degree of certainty is that some of Jesus’ disciples had some kind of experience they interpreted as the risen Jesus. That does very little to convince me he actually came back from the dead.
(3) The tomb was empty. I don’t know if it was. I don’t even think it’s quite scholarly consensus. But I’ll grant it. All an empty tomb proves is an empty tomb. I don’t know how it got that way. Maybe someone stole the body (it was a rich man’s grave, after all), whether it was the disciples, random thieves, or whoever.
But there were guards posted at the tomb. According to Matthew, written decades later. I see no reason to assume the guard at the tomb is historical fact.
If Jesus’ body was still around, all the authorities would have to do would be display it to put down any claims of resurrection. I think this is a particularly absurd claim. First of all, bodies rot quick, especially in Palestine in the spring. Within a few days, long before the apostles were supposed to have begun proclaiming the resurrection in earnest, the corpse would have rotted beyond recognition. Second of all, there is no reason to think anyone, Jewish or Roman, would have cared enough to present the body to begin with. The problem was the rabble-rouser Jesus. His disciples saying he’s back from the dead is far less threatening than the man himself laying claim to kingship. If the Jewish priests had gone to Pilate and said “hey, we need to haul out that Galilean’s rotting body and parade it through the streets to prove he’s still dead” I imagine he would have told them to fuck off. Finally, Jewish culture had a deep taboo against the handling of corpses.
The disciples couldn’t have preached the resurrection in Jerusalem if Jesus’ body was still around. I don’t think they had much success preaching in Jerusalem, anyways. There’s little indication the Jerusalem church ever got very big. It seems like most Jerusalemites ignored the guys claiming their crucified leader was raised from the dead.
(4) The disciples wouldn’t have died for a lie. As far as I know, we don’t even know how many of the disciples were martyred to begin with. Peter, Paul, and James seem to be the only ones with any early or certain attestation. Paul never saw the risen Christ prior to his ascension anyways. But even assuming every disciple was martyred, why exactly should we believe recantation would have saved them? If they were killed, it would have been for sedition or stirring up trouble, not for the fact itself of believing in the resurrection. If you are being chased by an angry mob or condemned by a Roman magistrate for treason, saying “okay, okay, Jesus is still dead!” isn’t going to save you.
(5) The only reasons historians don’t accept the resurrection as a historical fact is secular bias. This one is just silly. There are plenty of non-Christian accounts from the ancient world replete with supernatural happenings, and historians don’t tend to accept those, either.
Look at the Iliad. For a long time, it was thought that the story was pure myth, there never was any Trojan War. Then in the 19th century, Troy itself was discovered. Now we now Homer was actually quite accurate on a number of points concerning Bronze Age warfare, society, geography, etc. So why doubt Homer’s contention that the Olympian gods took part in the war? You can put forth all kind of explanations as to why the Greeks came to believe there had been divine forces at work in this conflict, when in fact there were none. But the most parsimonious explanation is simply that Homer is largely reliable, and the gods did indeed intervene in the Trojan War. Unless, of course, you approach the text with an anti-supernaturalist bias.
But I assume you probably don’t believe the Olympians ever existed or took part in the Trojan War.
Some of you might say all I’ve done here is offer ‘what ifs’ and ‘could be’. Which is true. But the challenge is usually that Jesus’ resurrection is the only or at least most plausible explanation for the existing facts. So I don’t intend to prove some alternate theory, but rather only that there exist alternative theories that can plausibly explain the facts surrounding Jesus’ death as well or better than a resurrection.
So if Jesus wasn’t resurrected, what happened?. The only honest answer I can give is ‘I don’t know’. I can spin a scenario:
Jesus is crucified. Joseph of Arimathea has him buried in the family tomb, out of deference to Jewish custom.
The disciples are demoralized and scattered. Four of the twelve decide this is it, Jesus is dead, it’s over. They take off and disappear from history.
A few days later (say, three, give or take) some local wannabe sorcerer steals Jesus’ body from the tomb, hoping it maintains magical properties. What happens to the remains after this point is unimportant.
Soon afterwards, a few of Jesus’ female followers come to the tomb for whatever reason. They find it empty, and run off to tell Peter and what remains of the Twelve.
When Peter hears of this, his first thought is the prediction of Jesus that he would rise from the dead after his death. He thinks ‘could it be?’. That night, he has a dream or a vision of some kind, in which Jesus appears to him and says he has indeed been raised up to heaven. Peter, of course, wants to believe, and is convinced. The next day, he proclaims to the remaining seven disciples (plus himself) that Jesus has been resurrected, just as he predicted.
Two of them, say, Thomas and another, don’t believe him. They say ‘sorry, Jesus is dead’. And that’s that, for them. The other five do.
So now we have Peter and five disciples who all believe Jesus has been raised from death. Over the next few days or weeks, another two or three of the apostles have their own dreams or visions or other experiences which they interpret as Jesus’ appearing to them. That’s enough to convince any remaining doubters among those who don’t have visions, or at least to keep them from questioning it. After all, the tomb is empty, right?
And there we have the seeds of the resurrection story, within a few weeks to months of Jesus’ crucifixion. No need for lying, or swooning, or mass hallucinations, or late legends, or secret twins.
Of course, I don’t think this is exactly what happened. I have no proof this is what happened. But it fits just as well with the circumstantial evidence we have, and does not require me to believe in revivified corpses.
There are too many natural explanations for how belief in the resurrection occurred to surrender to supernatural ones. It would seem that if the resurrection had actually happened, there would have been historical markers that would be difficult to ignore. For one, Roman historians would have written about it in emphatic detail. It would have a similar historical footprint to the assassination of Caesar.
(2497) Aesop and Socrates
Pre-Christian stories about Socrates and Aesop, both likely fictional persons, exhibit many of the same characteristics attributed to Jesus. This raises the likelihood that Jesus, too, to some extent at least, was fictional as well. The following was taken from:
Ancient literature also proliferated a variety of model ‘hero’ narratives, some of which the Gospel Jesus conforms to as well, and one of these hero-types was widely revered among pagans: the pre-Christian narratives of the life and death of Socrates and Aesop. These match those of Jesus in the following respects:
1. The hero comes from a humble background (Socrates was the son of a stonemason; Aesop was a slave).
2. The hero is considered by many as a moral hero with wise teachings to follow.
3. Despite the hero challenging and condemning the wisdom of authorities.
4. The hero condemns the sin and greed of the religious and political elite.
5. The hero attends parties of sinners and eats and drinks with them.
6. The hero consistently seeks to reform sinners.
7. The hero teaches with questions, parables and paradoxes.
8. The hero teaches to love truth, despise money and have compassion on others.
9. The hero teaches that they want to save all souls.
10. The hero is despised by some and beloved by others.
11. The hero is publicly mocked.
12. The hero considered to be physically ugly.
13. The hero is executed by the state for blasphemy, a crime they did not commit.
14. The hero is actually executed for speaking against the sin of the authorities.
15. The hero voluntarily went to their deaths despite all having the power to escape.
16. The hero prophesies God’s wrath would fall on their killers.
17. The hero is then revered as martyrs.
18. The hero at the beginning was given a gift of the spirit from God.
This is significant that we have two separate stories, the story of Socrates, and the story of Aesop, both of which predate Christianity, yet follow this same archetypal structure. We can add to this, that Socrates, like Jesus, turned the other cheek and forgave the enemies who caused his death.
We can also add that Aesop, like Jesus, was a traveling preacher in a peripheral region who ended up in a central holy city and was plotted against and executed by its priests. Socrates is believed to be a mythologized historical person, but Aesop, we know was not at all a historic person.
It is highly probable that the persons who wrote the gospels, being highly educated and fluent in Greek, were well versed in the literature of Socrates and Aesop. That they would have a tendency to portray Jesus in similar ways is not hard to believe. It could even have been an unintentional act of plagiarism. In any case, it raises the probability that many elements of Jesus’ life, as discussed in the gospels, are borrowings from these two fictional beings.
(2498) God compared to a mother’s love
Christian conventional wisdom paints God as being the most loving and forgiving entity in the universe. But when we compare ‘his’ compassion and caring to a mother’s love of her child, God comes across as being crudely inferior. The following was taken from:
Hell, of course, is the mother of all of my problems with the bible. It is perhaps the most despicable and hideous of all of the Christian God’s crimes. Indeed, the cruelest of all concentration camps. (Certainly far worse than the ones created by the Nazis.) Described biblically as the “lake of fire”, “the place of eternal torment with weeping and gnashing of teeth” Jesus said in Mark 9:42-48 that it is better to commit suicide or self-maiming then to be delivered unto hell. So, according to the bible I assume that all here can agree that there is an existence of hell, and that hell is the worst of all circumstance. Knowing this, let me indulge you as to why the existence of hell paints the Christian God as not fit for worshiping.
I am a moderately compassionate individual, rational, moral, and nurturing. Most of all I am a creator, a mother. I propose this to you, a human question. Can all here, Christian or atheist, safely say that if there is a God, he is our greatest thought magnified? Whatever emotion we feel as human, being created in his image, God is infinitely more feeling? For he is the creator of all things created, I believe this concept is pretty safe to assume. With this being so, my love for my daughter must be a fraction of God’s love for his children. Speaking as a mother, I can safely say that if my child were to commit the greatest harm upon me tomorrow, I would never wish her harm. Why? Simply because she is my creation.
If my daughter were to maim me, slander me, etc. I would still love her, for my instinct and emotion demands of me to protect and care for her regardless of her actions, much like all rational beings (animal kingdom included). So now I pose the question, why then would God condemn us to hell for something as menial as lack of faith? If he is not infinitely more so loving then me, why would hell even exist? Any true loving being would never condemn his own children to everlasting torment, especially one that proclaims himself to having the very essence of forgiveness.
There are few mothers who would consider punishing their child for life, much less for eternity, for any transgression whatsoever. When you love someone who has done something wrong, the punishment should be comparable in magnitude to the degree of the infraction and it should be designed not for retribution but to encourage better behavior in the future. God’s plan for hell fails on both of these points– it is wildly out of proportion to the misdeed and it has no redemptive aim. To be blunt, there is no way in hell that this God can be real.
(2499) God, the pyromaniac
Pre-scientific Iron Age people were intrigued by fire, not fully understanding what it was or what its constituents were. They equated it with the supernatural, along with earth, wind, and water. So when they wrote about their god, they included many references to fire. In the end, they made God out to be a raving pyromaniac! The following verses are just a sample:
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven . . . And [Abraham] looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
The Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them.
For the Lord your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God.
The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants.
And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Then Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt; there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail.
And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.
And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the Lord: it is a sweet savior, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron . . . offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you, And will make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the Lord, of the herd or of the flock.
And the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
For a fire is kindled by my anger, and burns to the depths of Sheol; it devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
2 Samuel 22:2,9,13
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer. . . . There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. . . . Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
1 Kings 18:24,38
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. . . . Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. . . . There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. . . . At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
2 Kings 1:10-12
And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. . . . And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.
2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. . . . And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they . . . praised the Lord.
Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts: Because they have spoken this word, I am now making my words in your mouth a fire, and this people wood, and the fire shall devour them.
Now will I rise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. . . . your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.
Behold, I will command, saith the Lord, and cause them to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire.
He hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about.
But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.
Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.
And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
The New Testament has its own introduction of fire, specifically the lake of fire, where Jesus promised to send most humans after they die. The Bible authors’ fascination with fire and the way they also made their god to be fascinated with fire is a clue that their god is a human invention.
(2500) Over-use of puns
The use of puns (essentially inside jokes) involving person and place names that are embedded throughout the gospels is a near-certain signal that these authors were not making an attempt at recording objective history. Well-educated, Greek-speaking persons steeped in the literature of the time couldn’t miss this fact, though today it goes over the head of virtually every contemporary Christian. The following was taken from:
My points have always been, “If this is history and completely true, why so many suspicious puns in names and places that Greek and Aramaic readers would have understood AS PUNS, but that escape modern (and ancient) readers who read translated versions, where the puns aren’t obvious at all?
Nicodemus (“ruler of the people”) is a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1).
Jairus (Greek Iairos) (“awaken”, from Hebrew ya’ir, “to bring light, enlighten, awaken”) has his dead child awaken by Jesus, who says, “She is not dead, but only sleeps.” (Luke 8:40-56)
Martha (“lady of the house”) is Jesus’ hostess. (Like 10:38)
Zaccheas (from Aramaic zakki, “to give alms”) gives half of what he owns as alms to the poor. (Luke 19:8)
Theophilus (Greek “lover of God”) is the patron that Luke/Acts are addressed to. (Luke 1:3)
Arimathea (Greek “town of the best disciple”) has never been found, despite centuries of speculation and searching, because it never existed except as a pun. The ari- prefix, meaning “best,” appears in such words as aristocracy (rule of the best), aripikros (best in bitterness, hence bitterest), arideiketos (best in display, hence glorious), as explained in standard Greek lexicons. The math- root forms the verb mathein, to teach, and the nouns mathê, lesson or doctrine, and mathêtês, disciple. The -aia suffix as town or place appears for such regions as Galilaia (Land of the Galiyl) and Judaia (Land of the Jews), and such actual cities as Dikaia (Justice Town) and Drymaia (Thicket Town).
Emmaus, where Jesus returns in disguise and reveals himself, is a pun on Eumaeus, the servant to whom Odysseus returns in disguise and reveals himself in the Odyssey,
Cleopas (“glory to the father”) was one of the men who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus.
The name Simon appears twice in the list of Twelve Disciples. The second appearance of Simon is linked with Kananaios, (Aramaic “the zealot”) and alludes to the party of those who were stirring up Judea and Jerusalem to rise in armed revolt against Rome.
“Judas” itself means “Jew”, almost literally, “Judea”, “the land of the Jews”. His surname, Iskarioth, is “an Aramaic transliteration of the Latin sicarius, meaning one carrying a sica (sword), and thus corresponds to Kananaios.
A variant of Judas Iscariot’s surname is Ishqarya (“man of falsehood, betrayer”) (Mark 3:19).
The “mother-in-law with a fever” in Mark 1:30-31. “and the mother-in-law of Simon was lying fevered, and immediately they tell him about her, and having come near, he raised her up, having laid hold of her hand, and the fever left her immediately, and she was ministering to them. ” The reason is that in Aramaic as well as in Hebrew there is association between hamah (mother-in-law) and hommah (fever); this is a play on words suggesting that Simon’s household is not just coincidentally sick but fundamentally so.
Capernaum (village of grace”), where Jesus has his house and where he works many of his miracles.
Bethany (“House of Misery”) where Jesus stayed, and where he was anointed for burial and where Judas resolved to betray him.
Bethphage (“House of (Unripe) Figs”) is the area where Jesus cursed the unfruitful fig-tree.
Bethsaida (“House of Fish”) was the place to which Jesus had directed his disciples, whom he called to be fishers of men, to sail.
A criminal named Barabbas who is accused of murder and sedition is paired up with the perfect and innocent Jesus. Bar-Abbas means “Son of the Father” – in fact, in some early Syriac Christian manuscripts, his name is Jesus Barabbas. There was no tradition of releasing a prisoner, but there was the Hebrew tradition of the Yom Kippur scapegoat. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest in the Temple took two goats. One of the goats, perfect and flawless, would be killed as a blood sacrifice to the Lord. The other would be released into the wilderness unharmed to carry away the sins of Israel, like murder and sedition, as a scapegoat (Leviticus 16: 5-10,15-22). Mark gives us two “sons of the father” – Barabbas, the son guilty of murder and sedition, is nonetheless released unharmed into the wilderness, while the perfect and flawless son Jesus (whose name, after all, means “Yahweh Saves”) is sacrificed so that his blood will atone for the sins of Israel. As history, Mark’s Barabbas episode is ridiculous on multiple levels. As literary symbolism for the Jewish Day of Atonement ceremony, every detail comes together in a brilliant allegory.
There are more puns, and more evidence that none of this is history at all – Mark, the basic for the Matthew and Luke, the other two Synoptics, is at its heart a literary work, a story of one of many savior gods, not a biography. Mark is weaving an epic in the Greek style of using Homer’s work as an outline, and literary puns are just part of it. The Odyssey was basically the textbook for ancient literature on how to write a story, so it’s not unusual that Mark followed the form. Sea voyages and violent storms are part of both stories and teach lessons, but Galilee is land-locked. Mark doesn’t see this as a problem, so he creates a sea that doesn’t exist. There’s a lake that’s 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, so to fix that, Luke “corrects” the “Sea of Galilee” as actually “the Lake of Genneseret” (Luke 5:1). This isn’t new criticism, either – in the 3rd Century, the pagan critic Porphyry of Tyre (the same critic who recognized the OT Book of Daniel was a later forgery) pointed out that the so-called “Sea of Galilee” was actually nothing more than a small river-fed freshwater lake, easily crossed in two hours by any small boat, and not big enough to be beset by the massive storms depicted in the Gospels.
It is a general rule that belief in the Bible is inversely proportional to knowledge of the Bible. The more one learns, the less one believes. The use of literary tricks like those cited above is a marker cited by objective scholars that the gospels should not be taken at face value.
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