(2551) Bible translation no different than any other book
There are many Christians, particularly evangelicals, who consider the King James Version of the Bible to be inerrant and to have originated though an application of divine provenance. Evidence contradicting this assertion has emerged in a recently discovered draft of the KJB. This indicates that there was likely no divine assistance provided in the translation process. The following was taken from:
The earliest known version of The King James Bible, perhaps one of the most influential and widely read books in history, has been discovered mislabeled inside an archive at the University of Cambridge. The find is being called one of the most significant revelations in decades. It shows that writing is a process of revising, cutting, and then more rewriting. The Bible is no different in this regard, even though some conservative Christians claim it is the divine word of God himself. Perhaps God, then, is a revisionist. This find certainly seems to suggest that.
The notebook containing the draft was found by American scholar, Jeffrey Alan Miller, an assistant professor of English at Montclair State University in New Jersey, who announced his research in an article in The Times Literary Supplement. The New York Times didn’t take long to pick up the story. They ran an article about it, HERE. Mr. Miller was researching an essay about Samuel Ward, one of the King James translators, and was hoping to find an unknown letter at the archives. While you can say he certainly accomplished that end, he definitely wasn’t expecting to find the earliest draft of the King James Bible — which is now giving new insights into how the Bible was constructed.
He first came across the plain notebook not knowing what it was — it was incorrectly labeled. That’s why no one has found it until now. It had been cataloged in the 1980s as a “verse-by-verse” Biblical commentary with “Greek word studies, and some Hebrew notes.” When he tried in vain to figure out which passages of the Bible the commentary was referring to, he realized that it was no commentary at all — it was an early draft of part of the King James Version of the Bible.
Professor Miller described what it felt like when he first knew what he had in his hands:
“There was a kind of thunderstruck, leap-out-of-bathtub moment. But then comes the more laborious process of making sure you are 100 percent correct.”
The material in the manuscript discovered by Miller covers the apocryphal books called Esdras and Wisdom and seems to show that the translation process at Cambridge worked completely different than what researchers had previously known. Until now, it had been assumed that six different teams, or companies of translators that is, had worked more collaboratively rather than individually. Yet — this draft throws that idea out the window.
Ward’s draft seems to indicate the people were assigned individual sections of the Bible and then worked on them almost entirely by themselves — a massive undertaking with little guesswork. You would think this would cause people to become more error prone. In fact, quite hilariously, Professor Miller noticed that the draft suggests that Ward was picking up the slack for another translator. This really shows how human the entire job was, according to him.
“Some of them, being typical academics, either fell down on the job or just decided not to do it. It really testifies to the human element of this kind of great undertaking.”
This is sure to piss off a lot of religious conservatives who claim that the Bible is the “actual word of God.” While this finding certainly doesn’t disprove God, it does show that the translators of the Bible didn’t get a finalized product the first go around — it wasn’t a walk in the park with an angel over their shoulder telling them what to write. It took many different individuals, working separately — and they often suffered from man-made struggles, like meeting deadlines. You know, now that we think of it, doesn’t sound that much different from the writers of today’s workforce.
It would seem unlikely that a god intent of having his message translated into the most influential language on earth, English, would allow the process to follow in the same footsteps as the inevitable error-filled efforts associated with any other book. But this is what happened, apparently. It adds an additional stake in the claim that Christianity transcends the bounds of normal everyday reality.
(2552) The Enlightenment ended religious brutality
There are two questions that expose a central problem with Christianity- why did a ‘religion of love’ result in so much brutality and why did it require a secular (non-religious) movement to tamp it down and eventually bring it to an end? This is the opposite what would have happened if Christianity was true. In that case, atrocities would have been occurring because of a lack of religious faith and then Christianity would have come on the scene and pacified everything. That’s what we would have seen if Christianity was true. The following was taken from:
During the 1700s, religion’s throttlehold upon Europe slowly loosened. Religious killing still occurred, but with decreasing frequency. Sporadic examples:
In 1723, the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded the expulsion of Jews. The city council declined, but the bishop’s exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.
Women still were burned occasionally as witches-in Scotland in 1722, in Germany in 1749, in Switzerland in 1782.
From 1702 to 1710, Louis XIV’s efforts to stamp out Protestantism caused Camisards of southern France to burn Catholic churches and kill priests. Catholic troops were sent in, slaughtering whole villages. Camisard leaders were executed.
The Inquisition was still alive, chiefly in Spain, but its horrors were few (perhaps because Spain had hardly any secret Jews, Muslims, or Protestants left to kill).
In 1715, Protestants were violently persecuted in the Rhineland Palatinate, and in 1732, Archbishop Firmian forcibly expelled 20,000 Protestants from Salzburg province.
Christians still accused Jews of stealing holy wafers and stabbing them to crucify Jesus again. An execution for host-nailing happened in Nancy, France, in 1761. Christians still accused Jews of sacrificing Gentile children, but massacres were rare. A late exception was the killing of 128 Jews at Bucharest in 1801 after Orthodox priests raised the blood libel.
Why did church atrocities recede in the West? Because a new social climate was spreading—the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment. Philosopher Hegel called it “the Age of Intelligence.” The growth of scientific thinking and open discourse brought an awakening of human rights: a sense that people should be allowed to hold differing beliefs without risking death.
This freedom didn’t come easily. Maverick thinkers paid for it by placing themselves in jeopardy. In the 1720s, English writer Thomas Woolston voiced doubt of the Resurrection and other Bible miracles, and he was put under house arrest for the remainder of his life. French intellectual Denis Diderot, editor of the first encyclopedia, was jailed briefly for writing irreligious thoughts. Many nonconformist thinkers had their writings seized and burned.
The supreme genius of the Enlightenment was Francois Marie Arouet, known forever as Voltaire. A celebrated playwright and wit, he changed late in life into a fearless crusader against religious cruelty and injustice. Disregarding his personal safety, he wrote vehement attacks on the church’s record of brutality.
“Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror,” he said. He told Frederick the Great that Christianity “is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”
Voltaire’s onslaughts put him in danger. His irreverent Philosophical Dictionary was publicly burned in Paris, Geneva, and Holland, and was banned by the Holy Office. Louis XV banished him from Paris. He lived in exile, finally buying an estate on the French-Swiss border, so he might escape into Switzerland if French Catholics came for him, and into France if sought by Swiss Calvinists. From this retreat, he corresponded with thinkers throughout Europe—and sympathizers everywhere began following his struggle for tolerance.
Voltaire protested French Catholic cruelties to Protestants, such as a 1752 edict nullifying all Protestant marriages and baptisms. More directly, Voltaire became a defender of Protestant victims of injustice, hiring lawyers and waging long court battles in their behalf. Some of his cases:
- Huguenot cotton trader Jean Calas was charged with murdering his son, allegedly because the youth was planning to convert to Catholicism. Actually, the son never had contemplated conversion, and had committed suicide in a fit of depression. Catholic judges found the family guilty in 1762 and had the father killed barbarically: all four of his limbs were broken in two places, then he was strangled and burned. The family property was seized and the other members were banished from France. Voltaire, incensed, wrote pamphlets against the outrage and enlisted influential friends to seek redress. Finally a new trial was ordered in 1765. Forty judges unanimously declared Calas innocent. The family property was restored and the king paid compensation to the widow.
- Two teen-age boys of Abbeville, Chevalier de La Barre and Gaillard d’Etallonde, were accused of wearing their hats while a church procession passed, and singing irreverent songs and mutilating a crucifix that stood on a bridge. D’Etallonde escaped before trial, but his companion was condemned to have his tongue cut out, his right hand cut off, and to be burned at the stake. Voltaire sought leniency. The case was appealed to parliament in Paris. The clergy demanded death, and parliament acceded, substituting the more merciful penalty of decapitation. The horrible sentence was carried out on July 1, 1766. Voltaire helped d’Etallonde enter the Prussian army and worked for his eventual rehabilitation in court.
- Jean Pierre Espinas spent twenty-three years as a convict oarsman in a penal galley ship—for the crime of giving lodging to a Protestant minister for one night. Voltaire obtained his release.
- Claude Chaumont likewise was sentenced to a galley bench for attending a Protestant worship service. Voltaire secured his freedom.
Voltaire’s exposure of such cases gave them international notoriety. He also raised outcries against injustices not related to religion. Under his bombardment, France began to abandon torture and mutilation. Voltaire’s efforts taught kindred spirits around the world how to fight for human rights.
Enlightenment ideas found fertile ground in the revolutionary new democracy taking shape in America. Thomas Jefferson, an intense scholar, knew the horrors of Old World abuses and devised safeguards against them. He insisted on “a wall of separation” to prevent the church from using the state, or vice versa. He was proud of his authorship of Virginia’s statute of religious freedom and had it cited on his tombstone. It begins: “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatever….”
Thomas Paine, the fiery pamphleteer of the Revolution, waged war against church oppression in his later years in England and France. In The Age of Reason, he attacked Christianity as a system of superstition that “produces fanatics” and “serves the purposes of despotism.” When the book reached England, several sellers were convicted of blasphemy and jailed.
Gradually, the Age of Enlightenment wrought profound change. People no longer believed in religion intensely enough to torture, burn, and massacre each other over points of theology. Thus religious killing came to an end in Western Europe.
But in some other parts of the world, it never stopped.
The so-called true religion of God did nothing to humanize its followers, but rather turned them into barbarian thugs, whereas the non-religious movements of the 18th and 19th Centuries were the ultimate solution to calming these waves of violence. It is unlikely that a god installed a religion that was outperformed by non-religious ideas.
(2553) Broken promises to the Jews
Christian apologists often make a big deal about how God’s promises and prophecies in the Bible have come true. These claims are always open to interpretation and crediting them usually involves an application of sectarian bias. But one counter-example that does not lend itself to rationalization are the promises God allegedly made to the Israelites as documented in the Book of Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible. The following was taken from:
None of the promises that God made to Abraham have come true. Perhaps these stories were written by fanatic Jews trying to “buck up” and strengthen the faithful?
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their’s, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God
And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Wait… there’s more (and more and more – but one more example will do)
|91:09 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;|
|91:10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.|
|91:11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.|
|91:12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.|
WOW – god will send angels to keep the Israelites from dashing their feet against a stone but he stood by while the Nazis murdered 6 million Israelites.
Well, it just didn’t happen did it. False statements (lies) from God himself. Just a few promises/prophecies of many that did not work out. A false statement from God himself.
It is not possible to weasel word out of these promises; i.e. say that they are still to happen. “After thee in their generations” means starting with Abraham and continuing, God will give all the land of Canaan; the land from the river of Egypt unto the Euphrates. And if that wasn’t enough, God promised that the Jews would “possess the gates of their enemies”. Pretty straight forward promise. No ambiguities about it. Unto Abraham and to thy seed forever.
It can be safely assumed that the passages quoting God’s intention to provide special protection and political success to the Israelites were not actual communications from a supernatural deity, but rather were the creation of men playing the role of cheerleaders for their tribe. The way history subsequently played out lets us know definitively that no god ever selected the Israelites as his ‘chosen people.’
(2554) Christianity’s sanctity of life problem
Many Christians oppose abortion at any stage of fetal development, declaring that once an egg becomes fertilized, it is effectively a new person endowed by god with a soul. In isolation, this theology is consistent, even if misguided. But in the broader context of reproduction there exists a crushing contradiction to this facet of Christian dogma. Most pregnancies result in miscarriage, but for some reason this seems not to concern the zealots. Why aren’t they demanding well-funded research to bring down the rate of miscarriage and quell this ongoing ‘genocide’ of newly-generated humans? The following was taken from:
The high rate of spontaneous abortions—unless they really are God’s fault—should drive Christians to desperate action. Lindsay shows that the theology is phony:
“Imagine that there was a virus with a fatality rate of over 50 percent that began sweeping the world. Wouldn’t we put aside all other concerns to focus on this dread epidemic? No resource, financial or otherwise, would be spared in trying to end the plague.
“But, if you accept the Catholic Church’s position, then we are experiencing such a catastrophic event. I just noted that between two-thirds and four-fifths of all embryos ‘die’ before coming to term. Why aren’t we spending billions of dollars to find a cure for this problem? The obvious answer is that despite all the dogma drumbeat from the Catholic Church and other Christian organizations that human personhood begins at conception, and that abortion, even in very early stages, is equivalent to murder, we don’t really perceive zygotes, embryos, and early-stage fetuses as human persons.
We should expect that the followers of a ‘true’ religion would formulate consistent moral and political positions free from overt hypocrisy. In the context of abortion/miscarriage, such consistency does not exist and it exposes the duplicity of Christian anti-abortion crusaders. Some will say that ‘God is doing it so it is OK,’ but that makes God the world’s leading abortionist. Then they will say, ‘God only kills the fetuses that are not viable,’ making God the most inefficient creator of human life. There really isn’t easy path out of this predicament.
(2555) Flat tire analogy
Christian apologists casually brush off the differences in the gospel stories by saying that they more or less tell the same story, so they must all be true. This is a logical fallacy. In the following a lie about a flat tire is exposed when four boys are pressed to deliver a critical detail:
There are several variations between the gospel stories. For starters, only two of them tell the tale of Jesus’s birth and they tell different stories! Only one of them mentions the murder of the innocents (Matthew) and the other tells of the census (Luke). If someone were to present to you an ancient manuscript claiming they saw Jesus’s remains long after they decayed, it would be easy to brush it off since there is only one source of that story. However, the birth stories are the only places that talk of either of those “historical events” yet it is enough for followers of Jesus to swear by. Regardless, apologists often discard the difference in the stories by claiming that people see things different ways.
If you watch a car crash or a crime someone might see different things, say the car is the wrong color or that there were two passengers instead of one. This does not change from the core of the story, thus it is still true. I propose details DO matter, and if those 4 stories were to go up in a court of law they would not hold any waiter because of all the inconsistencies.
Let me tell a story; or actually I heard it as a joke, but I think it gets the point across. There were four young college kids. On a school night, one of them calls the other three to say their parents are out of town and they can use their house to hang out to drink. They had a midterm the next day, but regardless they agreed. 1 drink turned to 2, 2 turned to 4, and before they knew it they overslept their exam. Panicked, one of them decides to call their professor and tell them they were studying last night and on their way to the exam this morning when they got a flat tire. The professor was very gracious and said all 4 of them could take the exam so long they come in the next morning. The next morning, the professor sets them all in different rooms and takes their cell phones. He then hands them the exam. The test contains only one question. “What tire was it?”
Clearly, the professor will know if every single kid answers the same that they are telling the truth. It is doubtful that they will since they are fibbing. No way would the teacher receive an answer of them all saying a different tire and think “Well they all have sort of the same story so they must be telling the truth”
This is why it is impossible for someone looking at the gospels with a logical point of view to take it seriously. They can’t even agree on what day or time Jesus died (Mark 14:12-15:25 vs. John 19:14-16, Mark 15:25 vs John 19:14). In Luke, he commands them not to leave the city, in Matthew Jesus tells the women they must go to Galilee, a different city. (Luke 24:49 vs Matthew 28:10). The biggest moment, Jesus’s resurrection and appearance to the disciples, have completely different stories. If one can understand the joke about the college students and how the different answers will matter, one can understand how these differences make it impossible for anyone to take the gospels seriously.
The contradictions in the gospel stories are fatal to Christianity, even if Christians are oblivious to this fact No single scenario can be devised to include all of the details without creating unavoidable conflicts. Human error is written all over this project. If the Holy Spirit was truly involved in crafting these accounts, then the ‘same tire’ would be cited by all of them.
(2556) God offers no pandemic relief to his own
Time and time again during the COVID-19 pandemic, outbreaks of the virus have been traced to church gatherings. If God is as Christians claim, this is counter to expectation, which would assume that some degree of special protection would be offered to those worshiping this observant and powerful deity. At the very least, these incidents represent a missed opportunity for delivering at least some evidence of God’s existence. The following is just one example among many:
Warrior Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Arab, Alabama held a week-long “revival” last week that included multiple services in a single day. Masks were not required. Social distancing was suggested but not enforced.
And you know exactly how this plays out…
More than 40 members of the church have now tested positive for the virus, according to Al.com. This service from May shows us how packed and mask-less this church can be.
“The whole church has got it, just about,” [Pastor Daryl] Ross said, and that includes himself. Ross said he has tested positive but has few symptoms.
Because only two of those people suffered seriously from the virus — so far — Ross is eager to dismiss it.
“We knew what we were getting into,” Ross said. “We knew the possibilities. But, my goodness, man, for three days we had one of the old-time revivals. It was unbelievable. And everybody you ask, if you talk to our church members right now, they’d tell you we’d do it again. It was that good.”
I want to frame that statement and look at it again in a week or two when we find out how many additional church members are struggling to cope with the virus. The article notes that churchgoers are as older as 97 years old. And yet their religious delusions are overriding their health concerns.
This is what a death cult looks like. They’re just lucky people haven’t died. Give it time.
An apologist would have to conclude that God is aware of these gatherings and either approves of them but inexplicably lets everything run its natural course, or he disapproves of them and thus ‘punishes’ the recalcitrant parishioners by allowing the normal outcome to occur. Either way, this presents a problem for Christian believers.
(2557) God’s anger belies his omnipotence
The Bible authors made a strategic mistake by presenting God as being at times angry or wrathful. This could only happen if God is not omnipotent and has only limited control over or foreknowledge of developing situations. Here is a typical example:
So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord was destroyed.
The following was taken from:
The God of the Bible is an all-powerful and all-knowing being. He knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. He is also the creator with the ability to communicate with humans and directly or indirectly influence their actions. With such knowledge and power, it seems illogical to be angry when things he doesn’t like happen. He has the knowledge of what will happen and the ability to change it, if he does nothing then why is there any reason to be angry?
There was a natural tendency for people to believe that gods experienced some of the same emotions as they did, so that is the way they portrayed them. In so doing, in the wake of Christianity, they would run into a contradiction. It would be similar to somebody programming a Sims game and then getting angry when a Sim does exactly what he was programmed to do. The developer has complete control over what happens so any anger expressed should be directed back on himself alone. God either gets angry or he is omnipotent. He can’t be both.
(2558) Early gospels de-emphasized miraculous healings
Most Christians have an image of Jesus as providing instantaneous healings of people that could only be termed as miraculous. But a closer look at the earliest gospel manuscripts provides a slightly different perspective. It seems that what was first written was more reflective of what we today would call showing mercy and caring rather than the application of magic or the supernatural. The following was taken from:
It is generally accepted that the Gospel of Mark is the oldest, with Matthew and Luke being based on it, and John incorporating a few things from those texts and some from others which are now lost. Therefore, I will be referring mostly to Mark in this post, though the claims I am making are also mostly true of the other Gospels.
That said, the thrust of this post comes down to the words in the manuscripts which are translated as “to heal” in modern Bibles. Instead of just one word, the oldest manuscripts we have actually use two which have been translated in this way. The lesser used one is the root word for panacea, πανάκεια, which means ‘to cure.’ If you provide someone with πανάκεια, you are directly resolving their ailment. The word does not always imply miraculous healing in other contexts, but in the context of the Gospels it does mean the person providing the ‘panacea’ is calling down the power of God to medically heal someone directly. These are miracle claims.
However, that is the lesser used word. The word used in most manuscripts, most of the time, to describe what Jesus was doing for people, is instead the root word for therapy, θεραπεία. This word does not mean a cure for an ailment. Someone who recieves θεραπεία is not necessarily healed in the way we understand that word today. Instead, θεραπεία is the practice of caring for people.
What does this mean? It means Jesus was not going around driving out demons and banishing illness in the oldest manuscripts. Furthermore, it means the people writing those manuscripts also knew that wasn’t what Jesus was doing. They had a perfectly good word to describe that kind of ministry, and they didn’t use it. Instead, Jesus was doing something entirely non-miraculous, and all the more powerful for it. He was caring for people. He was laying hands on those deemed unclean, who had been cast out of the city gates, making himself unclean in the process, and not caring about that in the slightest. He was eating with the marginalized. He was spending time with the sick and dying, talking to them, praying with them, letting them know that someone cared about them even as the rest of the world had forsaken them. He was violating social norms which excluded people, and telling the excluded that they deserved to be included.
None of that is miraculous. Nothing Jesus was doing in these passages invokes the divine power of God, but rather the human power of empathy. And so, we turn to see the effects of his ministry…and see that they aren’t particularly miraculous either. Without a doubt, most of the people Jesus interacted with in this way died in the way expected of the sick in the days before modern medicine. We can infer this from the fact that there are not that many specific stories of Jesus’ power when one considers that his ministry was supposed to have stretched over decades. However, everyone he interacted with was presumably noticeably better off for it. These were the dregs of society who he was raising up and caring for. A leper who had been cast out of his home, languishing beside the road, might well find the motivation and strength to follow the man who had shown him kindness, even if that didn’t cure his leprosy. An epileptic, one who they said was haunted by demons, probably would see his condition improved if there was someone there to help him back up after a fit. The effects would have been particularly notable on people with mental illness. He was literally providing therapy thousands of years before therapist became a job, after all.
Most interestingly? This interpretation even provides a non-miraculous explanation for many of the places where Jesus is supposed to have provided panacea, rather than just therapy. These days, with modern scientific methodology, we have determined that people with a positive outlook on life recover from basically every kind of illness more effectively. Even things like spontaneous remission of cancer are affected by this effect. If Jesus went around showing empathy to all, restoring hope to the hopeless, then a few of those people probably did experience straight-up cures for what ailed them. Their immune systems were boosted by their newfound will to live and they fought off the skin infections which had been interpreted as leprosy, and were pronounced clean again by their communities. This does not require God to explain. Anyone, even atheists, can do this, by just expressing empathy and care.
When Jesus tells his disciples to go forth and do as he had been doing, then, he was not telling them to go around as miracle workers performing effective magic. He was telling them to also care for others, to include the excluded and marginalized, to hold the hands of the unclean, to embrace the outcast. None of this requires the authority of God or Jesus. All it requires is that you care for others the way you would hope that they care for you.
If only modern Christians actually did that.
What should be deduced from this is that Jesus, assuming he was a real person, did something consistent with what Mother Teresa did (discounting the fact that she withheld scientifically-proven palliative measures), that is, providing understanding, comfort, and hope to the inflicted, some of whom became better simply by suggestion. Then, as time passed, and as Jesus was being made into a god, those healing episodes became sudden, completed by the power of god, miraculous, and undeniably supernatural. In other words, the legend grew over time until we now have the contemporary Jesus, a mere whisper of the real man.
(2559) Eleven types of scriptures Christians ignore
Although the Bible is revered by Christians as the word of God, they tend to pick and choose what they take from it. In fact, a great proportion of the Bible is ignored by Christians, and not because these parts are boring- rather, it’s because these parts are embarrassing. The following was taken from:
Some Bible-believing Christians play fast and loose with their sacred text. When it suits their purposes, they treat it like the literally perfect word of God. Then, when it suits their other purposes, they conveniently ignore the parts of the Bible that are—inconvenient.
Here are 11 kinds of verses Bible-believers ignore so that they can keep spouting the others when they want to. To list all of the verses in these categories would take a book almost the size of the Bible; one the size of the Bible minus the Jefferson Bible, to be precise. I’ll limit myself to a couple tantalizing tidbits of each kind, and the curious reader who wants more can go to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible or simply dig out the old family tome and start reading at Genesis, Chapter I.
- Weird insults and curses. The Monty Python crew may have coined some of the best insults of the last 100 years: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. But for centuries the reigning master was Shakespeare: It is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice. Had John Cleese or William Shakespeare lived in the Iron Age, though, some of the Bible writers might have given him a run for his money. Christians may scoot past these passages, but one hell-bound humorist used them to create a biblical curse generator.
She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV
You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. . . . The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35
- Awkwardly useless commandments. The Bible is chock-a-block with do’s and don’ts. Some of them are simply statements of universal ethical principles, like do to others what you would have them do to you, or don’t lie, or don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions. But from a moral standpoint most of them are simply useless or even embarrassing—especially if you think God could have used the space to say don’t have sex with anyone who doesn’t want you to, or wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.
Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19
Ye shall not round the corners of your heads. Leviticus 19:27
- Silly food rules. The early Hebrews probably didn’t have an obesity epidemic like the one that has spread around the globe today. Even so, one might think that if an unchanging and eternal God were going to give out food rules he might have considered the earnest Middle-American believers who would be coming along in 2014. A little divine focus on amping up leafy green vegetables and avoiding sweets might have gone a long way. Instead, the Bible strictly forbidseating rabbit, shellfish, pork, weasels, scavengers, reptiles, and owls. As is, Christians simply ignore the eating advisories in the Old Testament, even though they claim that edicts like the Ten Commandments and the anti-queer clobber versesstill apply.
All that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 9:10
Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Exodus 23:19
- Holy hangups about genitals. God, or the Bible writers, is hung up about sexual anatomy in a way many modern Christians, fortunately, are not. In “The Year of Living Biblically,” the author, A.J. Jacobs, attempts to obeyMosaic laws about menstruation. When his wife finds out what those laws actually are, she gives him the middle finger by sitting on every chair in the house.
When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. Leviticus 15: 19-20
When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12
- God’s temper tantrums. Modern Christians may talk about God as a loving father, or even a Jesus buddy, the kind you’d want to play golf with, but in reality Bible-God goes out of his way to be intimidating. Worse, he appears to lose control of his temper at times, lashing out like an oversized thwarted three-year-old; and his earthly representatives—including Jesus—do the same.
Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 2 Kings 2:23-25 NIV
Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. Matthew 21:18-22 NIV
- Times when the Bible God is worse than Satan. In the Bible, Satan is described as a roaring lion who prowls the earth, seeking whom he may devour. But if you actually read the stories, Satan doesn’t do much other than to tempt people into disobeying the dictates of Yahweh, who acts like a heavenly dictator with borderline personality disorder. God, by contrast, professes his undying love, kindness and mercy, but then commands his minions to commit brutal atrocities when he isn’t up for it himself. Some of the stories are so bad even Hollywood, with its passion for glorious biblical sex and violence, won’t touch them, especially the plentiful Bible stories about sexual slavery and human sacrifice.
Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18
He [Josiah] executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them…. He did this in obedience to all the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the LORD’s Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. 2 Kings 23:20-25 NLT
- Instructions for slave masters. The reality is that the Bible says much more in support of slavery than against it. Even the New Testament Jesus never says owning people is wrong. Instead, the Bible gives explicit instructions to masters and slaves. Awkward.
You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Ephesians 6:5 NLT
- Bizzare death penalties. Years ago, I wrote an article titled, “If the Bible Were Law Would You Qualify For the Death Penalty?” It identified 35 different offenses that earn a person capital punishment in the Bible. Hint: You probably qualify. And so does the dog who belongs to your kinky neighbor.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
If a man has sex with an animal, he must be put to death, and the animal must be killed. Leviticus 20:15 NLT
- Denigration of handicapped people. The yuck factor is probably wired into humanity at the level of instinct, a way to avoid contamination and pathogens. Shit smells bad to us, as does decaying flesh. Our revulsion at illness and injury fuels a whole Hollywood horror industry. The Bible writers had the same instincts, but unlike modern health professionals, who have the benefit of germ theory, they had no idea what was contagious and what wasn’t, and they blurred the ideas of physical purity with spiritual purity. Modern Christians largely escape their denigration of physical handicaps.
No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1 NRSV
Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookback, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries. Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV
- Moral edicts that demand too much. If much of the Bible gets ignored because it is morally irrelevant, immoral, outdated, or factually wrong, another portion gets ignored because it sets the bar too high, like putting divorce on par with—omg—homosexuality. If you want to send a conservative Bible-believer into a froth, try suggesting Jesus was a socialist. Then, when he goes all Jehovah on you, quote from the book of Ephesians.
Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same. Luke 3:11 NIV
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. Ephesians 5:4 NIV
- Passages that are a waste of brain space and paper. Some years ago I worked on a website called Wisdom Commons, a library of timeless quotes and stories from many traditions. I had the idea that I would go through the Bible and pull out bits that were relevant, so I started reading.
What I found was that most of the Bible was neither horrible nor inspiring. It was simply dull and irrelevant: long genealogies written by men obsessed with racial purity; archaic stories about ancient squabbles over real estate and women; arcane rituals aimed at pleasing a volatile deity; folk medicine practices involving mandrakes and dove’s blood; superstition that equated cleanliness with spiritual purity and misfortune with divine disfavor; outdated insider politics.
On top of that, it was badly written, with some stories garbled and others repeated, though rarely in complete agreement about the facts. The Bible’s supposed author seemed like a psychological mess, and I found myself irritated. With a finite number of pages to set the course of human history, this was the best He could do?
Thank God Bible-believing Christians don’t take the Good Book as seriously as they claim to.
The Bible contains some valuable lessons and stories, but it is fatally contaminated by useless and ridiculous trash that could only come from the brain of a human being. A real god would not have allowed his book to be so compromised.
(2560) Scrutinizing God
There is a theological argument that just because the god of the Bible did some things that we would consider to be immoral, that in itself doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist. This is true, but, on the other hand, such a fact makes this god’s existence less probable, based on the assumption that a universal god would be expected to have a character superior to humans. This renders the idea that you should not scrutinize the god of the Bible, and to rather simply believe, an untenable position. The following was taken from:
Imagine Cindy marries Roy because Roy claims to be a king. Cindy believed Roy without first assessing whether his character and actions reflected the character and actions we would expect of a king. Wouldn’t we think that a bit strange? Would it not be more normal and wise for Cindy to explore Roy’s claim before committing her life to Roy? Now imagine Cindy had attempted to scrutinize the character of Roy, but Roy had stopped her, claiming that testing him in such a way was forbidden. Roy suggests that, if his actions seem inappropriate, it is only because “his ways are not her ways”, and that she will not be able to comprehend the mysteriousness of his behavior with her less-than-royal intellect. Would not Roy’s prohibition against scrutiny into his character suggest that he was not actually a king?
What if a proposed God did likewise and forbade that we test and scrutinize him before committing our lives to him? Is this something we should expect of an actual God? Imagine that believers in an alleged king or God look aghast at your doubt, and protest “How dare you question the legitimacy of our king/God? You don’t have the intellect of our king/God to assess whether he is actually a king/God!” How would you respond?
Our responsibility as rational humans is to diligently examine all available confirming and disconfirming evidence prior to a commitment of belief. This assessment is first. No evidence is off-limits. Only after assessing all of the evidence can we then assign a degree of belief. If any ideology forbids or discourages the asking of relevant questions prior to belief, that ideology can legitimately be dismissed as likely false since we have good reason to believe that any true ideology will not discourage such testing of its claims.
So, how dare we question the claims of an alleged God? We dare do so as honest seekers who will not neglect our responsibility as honest seekers to test every claim. We dare not, in fact, leave God-claims unquestioned. For every candidate God, we have a duty to compare what we would expect of an actual God against the attributes and acts ascribed to that candidate God. Do we, for example, expect a God competent enough to create the universe, to be so emotionally incontinent that he demands child sacrifice when he is offended? If not, we can safely dismiss that God as improbable. Is a particular God said to be loving, yet stands by while those he claims to love are harmed? If so, we can reject that God as incoherently ungodlike. We don’t accept the claim that God is inscrutable and too “mysterious” for humans to comprehend. We instead ask every relevant question first, and only then adopt an appropriate degree of belief based on that full assessment.
Wouldn’t weighing every candidate God against what we ought to expect from an actual God be rational? Wouldn’t failing to do so be irrational?
The rational stance is to examine carefully the words and actions ascribed to the god of the Bible and then to perform a thought experiment- would it be expected that an actual omnipotent god would behave in this manner? If not, it then becomes more likely that this god is the invention of humans.
(2561) Paul perpetuates false history
It is one thing for the Old Testament to contain fictional history, but it is another when it is carried into the New Testament. In the scripture below, we see Paul stating as fact the mythological Jewish sojourn as slaves in Egypt, their miraculous escape, enduring the wilderness, and their powerful conquests of neighboring tribes- all of which is now discredited by modern scholarship. Either Paul simply accepted the scriptures from Exodus and beyond as fact or the author of Acts invented this speech:
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
Many Christians accept the idea that the Old Testament contains a lot of fanciful, non-factual themes, such as the Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel, but they hold fast to the concept that the New Testament is literal truth. But when the myths of the Old Testament bleed into the New Testament, this argument begins to break down. Essentially all that is left for the apologist is to swim upstream against the growing current of archaeological evidence demonstrating that what Paul allegedly stated in Acts never happened.
(2562) The Holy Spirit speaks
There is a notorious scripture in the Old Testament (Numbers 22) where a donkey uses human language. There is something similar in the New Testament (Acts 13) where a spirit (not even a physical entity) delivers a fluent sentence in the listener’s native tongue. This is another sign that we are reading fantasy literature. The following was taken from:
At the beginning of Acts 13 we read (vv.2-4):
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
To make the Trinity sound less spooky, I suppose, ghost is commonly replaced by spirit. But even so, giving a spirit a starring role in theology is risky business. How can it not seem borderline occult, with the clergy sharing space with mediums and conjurors? “I just got back from a séance and the Holy Spirit told me…” Sounds legit, right? What’s the difference between religion and superstition?
Yet, ghost/spirit is at the heart of Christian Trinitarian dogma, which means that the spirit is active. Countless priests and preachers have claimed access to God through the spirit—hence validation for their religious certainties. But if this is true, how can there be so much disagreement among those who claim to hear from the spirit? Robert Conner, author of Apparitions of Jesus: The Resurrection as Ghost Story, points out the big flaw with this claim:
I know I’m right because the Holy Spirit told me! “Said every moonbat Mormon, batshit Baptist, mystified Methodist, cuckoo Catholic, crackhead Campbellite, potty Presbyterian and hoodwinked Holy Roller ever.”
But alas, the Bible shares the blame for these delusions, the Book of Acts especially, in which the Holy Spirit is given a speaking role. What bigger tipoff do we need that this is fantasy literature? Where is the evidence—well, for God, obviously—but for a spirit acting on his behalf, and even taking center stage? We need evidence that the spirit not just fantasy in the heads of priests and preachers who claim their direct line to God. Again, Conner skewers the idea:
“That the whisperings of a ‘Holy Spirit’ would take precedence over evidence and its coherent analysis is quite literally unimaginable in any discipline other than evangelical Jesus studies. Picture, if you can, the reaction should an academic historian reveal that his interpretation is guided by the urgings of a personal daemon.”
Conner also points out that the gospels provide evidence that spirit is a bogus idea:
“They were finally declared ‘canonical’ and those four are in substantial disagreement at various seemingly crucial points. If, as evangelicals are wont to claim, the Holy Spirit used human authors to pen a record for the ages on which belief could be firmly based, then the Holy Spirit made a right shit job of it.”
But Luke, who told the story of the early church in Acts, his gospel sequel, knew that the Holy Spirit would grab attention as a character, as we see in chapter 13. There are a few other items in this chapter that should bother the faithful.
Whether it’s a donkey, or a demon, or a spirit using human language, extreme suspicion should be exercised in deciding whether to accept the factual basis of the claim. Although not impossible, based on everything we know about reality, we can confidently state that these tales are spectacularly unlikely.
(2563) The dying dog analogy
Suppose there is a dog owner who is exasperated that his dog never seems to behave well. Periodically he punishes the dog, but this doesn’t seem to promote better behavior. Subsequently, the dog becomes very sick and taking it to the vet reveals a serious heart problem. The vet recommends putting the dog down.
But the dog owner has a different plan. He is concerned that this dog will die and ‘get away’ with being such a bad dog- that is, the punishment he has received so far is less than what he deserved. Therefore, he purchases a heart and lung machine and hooks the dog up to it. Suddenly, the dog regains his health. Now the owner goes to work, torturing the dog incessantly, poking it with knives, burning it with hot coals, punching in the face, etc. He tries to keep the dog alive for as long as he can to deliver the maximum amount of pain possible. The dog suffers and burns and chokes and howls and cries throughout his torture.
Now, what is the analogy here? The dog owner is the Christian god, Yahweh. The dog is a person who did not accept Jesus into his heart. The heart and lung machine is Yahweh giving a new body to a deceased person so that he can torture him in hell. The ‘keeping alive for as long as possible’ is Yahweh’s plan to keep his victims in hell alive forever so he can likewise deliver the maximum pain possible.
How would you feel about a dog owner who did what is described above? How would you feel about Yahweh, for all intents and purposes, doing the same thing?
(2564) Believing is easier than not believing
A scientific study has shown that it takes less mental effort to accept what you are told to believe than to disbelieve. This helps to explain why childhood indoctrination is so successful and why belief in Christianity, despite the ever-mounting counter-evidence, has persisted into a modern scientific era. The following was taken from:
It takes more mental effort to reject an idea as false than to accept it as true. In other words, it’s easier to believe than to not.
This fact is based on a landmark study published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2009, which asked the simple question, how is the brain activated differently during a state of belief compared to a state of disbelief? To test this, participants were asked whether or not they believed in a series of statements while their brain activity was being imaged by an fMRI scanner. Some sentences were simple and fact-based (California is larger than Rhode Island), while others were more abstract and subjective (God probably does not exist). The results showed the activation of distinct but often overlapping brain areas in the belief and disbelief conditions. While these imaging results are complicated to interpret, the electrical patterns also showed something that was fairly straightforward. Overall, there was greater brain activation that persisted for longer during states of disbelief. Greater brain activation requires more cognitive resources, of which there is a limited supply. What these findings show is that the mental process of believing is simply less work for the brain, and therefore often favored. The default state of the human brain is to accept what we are told, because doubt takes effort. Belief, on the other hand, comes easily.
This troubling finding makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. If children questioned every single fact they were being taught, learning would occur at a rate so slow that it would be a hindrance. But this fact could be just as easily applied to both the political left and right. So how does it explain why conservatives, specifically evangelicals, are so easily duped by Donald Trump?
For Christian fundamentalists, being taught to suppress critical thinking begins at a very early age. It is the combination of the brain’s vulnerability to believing unsupported facts and aggressive indoctrination that create the perfect storm for gullibility. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to be sculpted by lived experiences, evangelicals literally become hardwired to believe far-fetched statements.
This wiring begins when they are first taught to accept Biblical stories not as metaphors for living life practically and purposefully, but as objective truth. Mystical explanations for natural events train young minds to not demand evidence for beliefs. As a result, the neural pathways that promote healthy skepticism and rational thought are not properly developed. This inevitably leads to a greater susceptibility to lying and gaslighting by manipulative politicians, and greater suggestibility in general.
If we want to combat the brain’s habit of taking the path of least resistance, which has destructive downstream consequences for critical thinking, as a society we must place more value on empirical evidence, and this must be reflected in how we educate our youth. Additionally, we must create an awareness of the fact that for the human mind, believing is more of a reflex than a careful and methodical action.
This research suggests that once a belief has been established, it is difficult to dislodge it from the mind of the possessor. This fact is well known by religious authorities and it is why there is such a dedicated campaign to indoctrinate children. It is obvious that if Christianity was true, there would be no need to employ this strategy.
(2565) Prayer preconditions
Praying is a very large component of Christian theology and it is encouraged for the purposes of worship and to ask for various types of help for oneself or others. But when it comes to praying for someone who has suffered some sort of setback, it makes sense only when each of the following statements is true:
1) God is not all powerful and had no means of preventing the suffering in the first place, and
2) God nevertheless does have some powers to help the suffering person recover, and
3) God is more inclined to help someone if someone prays for them.
In the first case, if God caused or allowed the suffering to occur, it makes little sense to pray for relief of the suffering he has caused to occur. In the second case, it makes no sense to pray if God subsequently has no ability to help out. In the third case, it makes no sense to pray if God already has his plan and is not swayed by people praying for him to violate it.
So, where does this leave us? If Christian prayer is a legitimate exercise of faith, then Christianity must concede that God is not all-powerful (though he has some limited powers) and that God does not have a rigid plan (this is, he can be persuaded to act in ways he had not anticipated by listening to certain peoples’ prayers). In other words, God lacks a proper inner sense of compassion and needs to be prodded into doing what is merciful. This paints a picture of God that would seem foreign to most Christians. But they should either accept these conditions or else admit that prayers, at least those directed at recovery from misfortune, are a waste of time.
(2566) Instinct and belief
Recent research has indicated that religious belief is a human instinct that can be overcome by intelligence. Whereas lesser intelligent people tend to operate on an instinctual level when it comes to religious faith, higher intelligent people have the ability to sidestep instinct and construct a belief system that is independent of it. The following was taken from:
Religious people are less intelligent on average than atheists because faith is an instinct and clever people are better at rising above their instincts, researchers have claimed. The theory — called the ‘Intelligence-Mismatch Association Model’ — was proposed by a pair of authors who set out to explain why numerous studies over past decades have found religious people to have lower average intelligence than people who do not believe in a god.
A 2013 analysis by University of Rochester found “a reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity” in 53 out of 63 historic studies. A negative correlation between intelligence and religion makes sense if religion is considered an instinct, and intelligence the ability to rise above one’s instincts, say researchers Edward Dutton and Dimitri van der Linden in their new paper published today.
Writing for Springer’s journal of Evolutionary Psychological Science, the authors – who are based at the Ulster Institute for Social Research and Rotterdam University respectively – explained their model is based on the ideas of evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa.
Mr Kanazawa’s ‘Savanna-IQ Principles’ suggest human behaviour will always be guided by the environment in which their ancestors developed. Mr Dutton and Mr van der Linden argue in keeping with this that religion should be considered an ‘evolved domain’ — or instinct. Rising above instincts is advantageous, they said in a statement, because it helps people to solve problems.
“If religion is an evolved domain then it is an instinct, and intelligence — in rationally solving problems — can be understood as involving overcoming instinct and being intellectually curious and thus open to non-instinctive possibilities,” explained Mr Dutton.
According to the 2013 review, the more intelligent a child is — even during early years — the more likely it is to turn away from religion. In old age, above-average-intelligence people are less likely to believe in a god.
Mr Dutton and Mr van der Linden also investigated the link between instinct and stress, and the instinctiveness with which people tend to operate during stressful periods. They argue that being intelligent helps people during stressful times to weigh up their options and act rationally rather than give in to knee-jerk responses.
“If religion is indeed an evolved domain — an instinct — then it will become heightened at times of stress, when people are inclined to act instinctively, and there is clear evidence for this,” said Mr Dutton. “It also means that intelligence allows us to able to pause and reason through the situation and the possible consequences of our actions.”
The researchers believe that people who are attracted to the non-instinctive are potentially better problem solvers. “This is important, because in a changing ecology, the ability to solve problems will become associated with rising above our instincts, rendering us attracted to evolutionary mismatches,” said Mr van der Linden.
It can be safely assumed that cognition will generally result in a more accurate analysis of reality than will instinct. The fact that those best equipped to overcome their instincts related to spiritual matters tend to dismiss religious claims is strong evidence that those claims are likely to be untrue.
(2567) How Christianity bit its tail
There is a metaphor that expresses the liability of becoming too aggressive or reaching too far. Imagine a snake in a field full of mice as it coils and whips around trying to catch one, when finally it snares what looks to be an inviting dinner only to recoil in pain as it bites its own tail.
That in essence is what Christianity did to itself as it evolved and accelerated the legend surrounding Jesus. Starting out as a regular human who was promoted to prophet status, Jesus, 50 years later, was given a virginal birth from the authors of Matthew and Luke. This was a nod to pagan beliefs of the time and it made Christianity more marketable to the Gentiles. Had it been left there, this would not have created a big problem, but a decade or so later, the Gospel of John was written and Jesus became a god, co-equal with the Father, and, they, for all intents and purposes, became a single deity.
So the problem is this: modern Christian theology asserts that Jesus pre-existed as a god before his earthly sojourn and was one in being with the Father. Therefore he must have been involved not only in selecting his mother (Mary) but also in impregnating her to make himself. Then he had to perform the trick of transferring his spiritual, massless body into the fetus that he created. This is a dead-end absurdity.
Most non-Christians will assert that if Jesus was a real person, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he might have been legendary, then 1) he was conceived in the regular fashion, 2) he performed no miracles, and 3) when he died, he remained dead. And one more we can add to this list: Jesus was not his own motherfucker.
(2568) God goes mute
The Bible claims that God is capable of direct vocal conversation and producing writings as a way to communicate with humans and as a way to promulgate his rules and expectations. Yet, modern people are inexplicably dependent solely on ancient scripture of dubious authorship. This is a disconnect. The following was taken from:
There is absolutely no reason God should have to speak through men instead of clearly stating his word by himself.
According to the Bible, many have heard God’s direct voice. The high priests heard it. Moses heard it. Abraham heard it. Cain, Adam, Noah, Samuel, Gideon, Eve etc. heard it. If God is capable of speaking and ordinary men are capable of hearing him, the middle men of of Biblical authors and prophets are completely redundant.
God has written before. He wrote the stone tablets. He wrote on a king’s wall. God can and has written to men in time past. Why did the Holy Spirit then need to outsource his biography and “inspire” patchy and inexact “eyewitness accounts” to convey his most precious commodity – his Word?
Even the Bible itself constantly warns against the deceitfulness of men and the error of trusting man over God, yet we’ve got entire books of “wisdom” written by men, and we’re supposed to trust that these men wrote under the “inspiration” of God. We’re supposed to trust that even though the entire human race are lying, fallen sinners, THESE men – whoever they were – actually really did write what God told them to write – cross their heart and hope to die? For whatever reason, despite being perfectly able to communicate with human beings himself, God has apparently trusted his whole message to the very creature he constantly stresses is entirely depraved and totally untrustworthy.
There is absolutely no reason for God to have to use men as a mouthpiece, and the fact that every piece of information we have about the Christian God comes from the writing of men is one of Christianity’s most glaring paradoxes, if not it’s fatal flaw.
The idea that God speaks and writes in the ancient world but goes mute in modern times is precisely what would be expected of a false religion. As usual, miraculous occurrences shrink and then disappear when the means to test their veracity becomes available. God’s contemporary silence is unavoidable evidence of his non-existence.
(2569) Humans deserve more respect than God
The way Christians fawn over their imaginary god, praising him, worshiping him, saying how great he is- is 100 percent unadulterated bullshit. Even if we discount this god’s odious support of genocide, slavery, and misogyny, there is the central fact that unlike most people we know, this god did nothing to obtain his powers- it was all simply handed to him. The following was taken from:
The idea of God isn’t much different than the image of a rich spoiled kid that was handed everything even after they progressed into adulthood. Think about it for a moment, if God exists it has no idea what hard work is, what suffering is or what it feels like to earn something. According to most theists God has always known everything, so God never had to earn his knowledge. God has also always been all powerful, and never had to put in the effort to become that powerful. God doesn’t have to continue proving his competence to keep his status as God.
How many of you have gotten a job and then after that you can do whatever the hell you want without having to worry about the consequences? In fact, can anyone name a single accomplishment God had to work for or earn? You might say he created the universe, well I’d expect that for an all-knowing and all-powerful being that would require zero effort.
There just isn’t anything about this proposed character that is respectable in anyway and most certainly doesn’t have the traits of a being you would want to worship. Humans and other organisms are far more respectable, at least the ones that dedicate large amounts of their time to obtain skills and knowledge.
There are lots of fictional characters that deserve respect, such as Spiderman, Superman, and Batman. Each of those had to work hard to become who they were, and all of their actions served to help the needs of people. To the contrary, Yahweh, the Christian god, did nothing to become who he is and has done for more harm than good for humanity. As imaginary figures go, Yahweh lands near the bottom of the heap.
(2570) Mark used Josephus
There is reasonable evidence that the author of the Gospel of Mark used as source material Josephus’s Jewish War that was published in approximately 75 CE. This is important in two ways- it suggests that much of what Mark wrote was historical fiction based off a factual account of history, and it moves the date of his authorship back to around 80 CE (as opposed to the standard assumed date of 70 CE), making the gap grow from 40 to 50 years from crucifixion to documentation. Those additional 10 years would be significant because it would decisively eliminate at the time Mark wrote any direct eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life. The following was taken from:
In addition to all this, I think a case can be made that Mark makes use of Josephus’ Jewish War (written around 75 C.E). In particular Josephus’ passage about Jesus ben Ananius which is strikingly similar to Mark’s description of Jesus before Pilate. I think it’s too close to be a coincidence, but others’ mileage may vary. (Comparison of Mark and Josephus’s Jesus here)
“But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city.
However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.”
These are the alleged allusions to Jesus of Nazereth in the Jesus Ben Ananius story:
1) Both are named Jesus
2) Both come to Jerusalem during a major religious festival
3) Both entered the Jerusalem temple to speak against it
4) Both figures quote the same chapter of Jeremiah
5) Both preached daily in the temple (Mark 14:49)
6) Both pronounced woe to the Jews
7) Both predict the temple will be destroyed
8) Both are arrested from the Jews for this reason
9) Both are accused of speaking against the temple
10) Neither makes any defense for himself
11) Both are beaten by the Jews
12) Both are taken to a Roman governor
13) Both are interrogated by the Roman governor
14) During which both are asked to identify themselves
15) And yet again, neither defend themselves
16) Both are then beaten by the Romans
17) In both cases the Roman governor decided he should release him
18) Both are killed by the romans
19) Both lament over themselves right before they die
20) Both die with a loud cry
The Gospel of Mark has been studied extensively, and this effort was propelled by a scholarly consensus that his was the first gospel written and that it was used as a template for the later gospels. This meant that Mark provided the most reliable window into the truth of what happened. If, in addition to his use of many literary devices suggesting that it is a work of historical fiction, Mark used Josephus as a source (a source that makes no mention of Jesus of Nazareth- Josephus would not mention him until 20 years later), it cements the idea that Mark was not a true historian. This raises the possibility that the entire Jesus story is a mythological creation.
(2571) The golden calf
If anyone wants to prove to themselves that the Old Testament contains some obviously mythical legends, the best place to start is Exodus 32 which tells a story about how Moses’ followers backslid into worshiping a pagan idol that they constructed, inexplicably after experiencing miracles after miracles. The story does not make sense. Here is the relevant text:
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
The following was taken from:
The golden calf story is a powerful evidence that Judaism/Christianity is all BS. God supposedly rescued the Hebrews from 450 years of slavery, parted the Red Sea, drowned Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, had appeared before them as a guiding column of smoke per day and a light by night for weeks and been feeding them by showering them with manna from heaven yet the moment Moses leaves to talk to God on Mt Sinai they begin worshiping another deity. If they still weren’t convinced God was the real deal then why should anyone else be?
Exodus 32 is an exercise in bad fiction. When you are constructing a story, it is essential to make events that follow consistent with the events that precede. In this case, there is a spectacular disengagement between these two and it lets us know for certain that what is written never happened.
(2572) Christianity promotes a new science
We are all aware of biblical stories that tell of events that are scientifically impossible, such as a woman turning to salt, the sun stopping in the sky, and dead people coming back to life. Apologists get around this by claiming that God is all powerful and thus can override the physical laws of the universe. But there is one area that sidesteps this defense- the existence of angels and demons who have humanlike capabilities.
Angels and demons are important characters in the gospels and thus cannot easily be discounted as being symbolic. They are shown as being able to speak and understand the local language. They also have powers to move objects (stone covering the tomb, for example). But they are also assumed to be spiritual beings containing no physical body. Therefore, Christianity is proposing that there exist entities that can see without eyes, hear without ears, move themselves and other objects without muscles, speak without voice boxes, and think without brains. This is an extraordinary claim that conflicts with all known science.
Apologists might claim, as above, that all of this is possible with God, who can make the impossible possible. But, unlike the issues discussed above which are one-time events, the alleged existence of these spiritual beings is ongoing- it would take a continuous miracle from God to make it happen. This would be like the miracle of the sun in Medjugorje (spinning sun) happening all of the time, giving astronomers the chance to confirm it. In the case of demons and angels, if Christianity is correct, then our modern science has a gaping hole in it- a complete misunderstanding of reality.
(2573) Why guided evolution is a folly
There exist a good number of scientifically-literate Christians who rightly reject the literal truth of the biblical creation story. Many of these same folks believe that God guided the evolutionary process, presumably to produce humans as his final product. But there exist a large number of problems with this theory, and what is presented below is a very compelling one:
A new study has shed more light on gigantic “terror crocodiles,” that once roamed the world and preyed on dinosaurs with teeth “the size of bananas.”
The research, which was conducted in 2018, published this week in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. It found that the Deinosuchus — a lineage of giant Late Cretacecous crocodylians from North America — were nearly as long as city buses, growing up to 33 feet in length, according to the study authors.
“Deinosuchus was a giant that must have terrorized dinosaurs that came to the water’s edge to drink,” Dr. Cossette, co-author of the study, said in in a news release announcing the research’s findings. “Until now, the complete animal was unknown. These new specimens we’ve examined reveal a bizarre, monstrous predator with teeth the size of bananas.”
Deinosuchus’ name means “terror crocodiles,” but the study’s authors say that they more closely resembled alligators. However, the Deinosuchus snout was long and broad, and it had two mysterious holes at the tip of its snout, which differentiated it from both alligators and crocodiles.
There were at least three species of Deinosuchus, and they lived in the west of America from Montana to northern Mexico and along the Atlantic coastal plain from New Jersey to Mississippi, the researchers said.
The Deinosuchus was likely the largest predator in its ecosystem, outweighing even the largest predatory dinosaurs living in the same era. Researchers discovered bite marks on everything from dinosaur bones to turtle shells.
Luckily, these “terror crocodiles” lived between 75 and 82 million years ago.
“It was a strange animal,” Professor Christopher Brochu, co-author of the study, said in the news release. “It shows that crocodylians are not ‘living fossils’ that haven’t changed since the age of dinosaurs. They’ve evolved just as dynamically as any other group.”
It is unknown what happened to the Deinosuchus and how they became extinct, as the study authors found that they disappeared before the main mass extinction at the end of the age of dinosaurs.
The question should be asked: Why would a god who was guiding evolution toward the eventual emergence of humans allow such an animal to exist- and for seven million years? It’s not easy to imagine how long a period that is. Take the 2000 years or so since the time of Jesus. To many people that is a very long time. Think of actually living through that entire period, all through the Middle Ages, to the era of discovery, and to modern times. Now, think about living through that same period of time 499 more times. Now you have reached one million years. Now do that whole thing again six more times. That is how long this bus-sized monster terrorized the world. If God was guiding evolution, he evidently had way more on his mind than making people.
(2574) The missionary paradox
There are many people past and present who have either not been exposed to Christianity or they have heard about it, but it has never been presented to them as a viable belief system such that they might decide to embrace it. There are others who have been raised in the faith or have had extensive lessons about it. When those in the second group slide away from the faith, missionary work makes sense. But the discussion here will be on those in the first group-those, who no fault of their own, are not Christian strictly because they were geographically or culturally sheltered from it. When those in that group die without accepting Christianity, there are three possible ways that their souls could be processed:
1) They will be welcomed into heaven. Most Christians agree with this outcome, though some will say that they will be given a chance in the afterlife to accept Jesus. This is functionally the same as it would be absurd to forgo a free trip to paradise.
2) They will cease to exist. This is a less popular concept among Christians and, of course, the one that atheists accept (with very few exceptions).
3) They will be sentenced to hell. This is not a popular idea among Christians, though some ultra-conservative, fundamentalist Christians believe this. They make no exceptions. If you die without Jesus covering your sins, you must be sent to hell as punishment. It is just your bad luck in being born in the wrong place or to the wrong family.
Now, let’s look at the net effect of missionary work considering each of the three possible situations:
1) In this case, missionaries are worse than genocidal warriors, giving people a real chance to go to hell when otherwise by default they would have gone to heaven had they had been left alone. Spreading the gospel to these people makes no sense and is beyond immoral.
2) This is slightly more nuanced, as a missionary could help a person headed for oblivion to enjoy an eternal paradise in heaven. But, and it’s a big but, he would also be sending a lot of people to hell by giving them the opportunity to reject Christ. The net effect is decidedly negative. A simple thought experiment explains why- imagine that you are in charge of two children for a day. They are in a room with a few toys. You can either let them stay in this room all day, or you can send one child to a cool amusement park, but if you elect to do that, you must send the other child to a dungeon where he will be whipped and tortured all day. It’s easy to understand why no sane person would select that option. So saving a few people from oblivion and allowing them to enter heaven is not worth the horror of sending others to hell. So, once again, missionary work in this scenario makes no sense and is immoral.
3) Finally. we have reached a scenario where spreading the gospel makes sense. But it is only in the least popular scenario where God is a monster who sends people to hell through absolutely no fault of their own- for people who have no effective means of entering heaven unless they are lucky enough to get the news before they die.
So the final conclusion is that sharing the gospel with those who haven’t heard it is a righteous thing to do only if God is that god– the one who sends people to eternal torture even though they never had a reasonable chance to avoid it. Christianity backed itself into this theological dead end because it made salvation dependent on belief rather than personal conduct. That was its fatal mistake.
(2575) The redemption plot hole
Conventional Christian doctrine states that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God and that this sin was washed away by the blood of Christ on the cross. Scripturally literate Jews find this amusing because it is in plain sight why this doctrinal theory holds no water. The Bible clearly states that the sin of Adam was expunged in the Great Flood, with the ‘perfect’ Noah and his family repopulating the world. So the idea of the original sin of Adam persisting to the time of Jesus is ridiculous. The following was taken from:
The “original sin” of Adam was redeemed with the flood!
“These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
Noah was “perfect in his generations”. “Perfect” includes having no sin, otherwise one wouldn’t be perfect. That Noah was perfect “in his generations” means that all his offspring were also perfect and therefore we are perfect, free from sin. We started over, sinless, from Noah on.
It is difficult to understand how the ‘curse’ caused by the sin of Adam and Eve could be carried over to the other side of the Flood. Quite simply, the Flood paid for and eliminated the ‘sin of Adam.’ Paul didn’t think this through in his thinking:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Obviously, there was no Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, or a great flood. But fiction should nevertheless make common sense. The Christian concept of redemption from the sin of Adam fails this test.
(2576) Divine command failure
There is a theological concept termed divine command theory that states that whatever God commands is just and moral… despite what anyone might think of it. It is best demonstrated in the following scripture:
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Abraham does not question God’s command, nor does he require clarification. He simply prepares to kill his son, concealing from Isaac his impending fate until the last second, at which point an angel stops the murder and directs Abraham to sacrifice a ram that magically appears on the scene.
Let’s consider another way this story could have been presented:
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Then Abraham said, “Lord why would you command me to kill my beloved son, through whom all of my descendants will be seeded?”
God replied, “Abraham, will you obey me or will you rebel and instead honor the wishes of the Opponent?”
Abraham became bereaved and fell to his knees, and cried, “Lord, I honor you with all of my being, but Isaac is my flesh and blood, and to sacrifice him would be to sacrifice myself. I cannot do it and I will not do it.”
At which point, God smiled, “Abraham, I am proud of you for honoring what is right and using your inner sense of justice as a guide. You are truly blessed. I did this trial to see if you could withstand being told to do wrong, and instead hold firm to the right. Now I know that no spirit, god, or person can cause you to dishonor your head.”
This second approach would have been superior to the way it was actually written, though still it would have been a questionable ruse for a god to play. But at least it would have defused the apologists who still today promote the divine command theory, that whatever God orders is just. It also would have helped to prevent hallucinating parents from killing their children because they believe that God has commanded them to do so. This is only one of the dastardly deeds done by people who erroneously believe they have received instructions from the Lord. Genesis 22 is and always will be an embarrassment to the Judeo-Christian tradition.
(2577) God’s default emotion is wrath
Given that he is assumed to be fully cognizant of human frailties, we would expect that God’s default emotion toward humans should be understanding, compassion, leniency, and tolerance. But when we carefully examine the scriptures, it becomes clear that God instead exhibits wrath as his go-to impulse…unless his anger is tempered by the blood of his son. Some might say that this was the Old Testament and that God has changed, but there are plenty of scriptural references in the New Testament that continue the theme. The following was taken from:
And the favorite verse of all, of course, is John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only son…“
But there’s a catch in John 3:16 that gives it a darker tone: “…whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” What about those who don’t believe in him? By implication, they are excluded from eternal life—from God’s love, forever. The Christians who cherish John 3:16 and would distance themselves from the street preacher, don’t realize that the text he’s yelling is from the same Bible chapter; it’s the last verse of John 3: “Whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.”
It’s a popular notion that Yahweh, the ferocious God of the Old Testament, has been scrubbed from the New. So, did God grow up? Have a change of heart? The New Testament itself undermines this revisionist thinking, e.g.,
• In Matthew 3, John the Baptist scolded the religious leaders who showed up to hear him preach: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?… Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
• In Matthew 25, the last judgment scene, people who fail to show compassion—isn’t this ironic?—will be shown no compassion: “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
• In Matthew 10, Jesus instructs his disciples to go out preaching to towns and villages. What will happen if their message is not believed: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”
• In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the arrival of his kingdom: “For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
• In Romans 1, Paul assured his readers that “…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.”
• In Romans 8 we find a classic statement of Paul’s view of reality: “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.”
Paul compounded the bad theology: he was sure that the blood of a human sacrifice had sufficient magical power to save humans from God’s wrath.
We can identify major Bible blunders here:
1) Assuming that a god is pretty much like we are, with human personality traits. God is nearby, hovering over hapless humans, able to spy and eavesdrop; the biblical authors were operating on their limited understanding of the Cosmos. This is nonetheless a blunder, especially if we’re supposed to believe that the Bible was inspired by an all-knowing god who could have informed humans, early on, of the scope of the Cosmos.
2) The default divine emotion here seems to be wrath. Today we would have to believe that a divine force that oversees hundreds of billions of galaxies—and trillions of planets—tracks the behavior of more than seven billion human beings, and is perpetually pissed off by our failures. Only magic blood can divert his anger.
3) This kind of monotheism is, in fact, totalitarianism. It does no good to speculate about our free will, because this deity is watching every move we make, even monitoring every thought we have.
The massive Christian bureaucracy—theologians, apologists, priests, and preachers—has been committed to explaining and defending these ancient superstitions. To redeem theology—that’s a fitting word for it—its many defenders will have to break free of ancient traditions/speculations/suppositions, i.e., provide evidence: Tell us where we can find reliable, verifiable data to back up these various god ideas.
It seems probable that the people of biblical times thought of God as having similar emotions as the kings and leaders of their day. Therefore, it seemed to them that anger and wrath would be the likely ways that a god would approach those who didn’t do his bidding. If the Abrahamic religions were being born today, it is almost certain that God would be fashioned in a much more humane way… perhaps patterned off such historical figures as Albert Schweitzer or Mahatma Gandhi.
(2578) Making Jesus white
The evolution of the image of Jesus over time, becoming more white and European, is a metaphor for religion in general- it changes to facilitate the needs of the times, both cultural and political. Needless to say, if Jesus was a real person, he was not white. The following was taken from:
In general, the New Testament gives little description of the appearance of Jesus or anyone else for that matter. The few descriptors that do exist are hardly foolproof evidence, as they describe Jesus in some crazy, not-of-this-world terms.
In John’s vision of Jesus in the Book of Revelation: “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire… His feet were like burnished bronze… His face was like the sun shining at its brightest” (1:14-16). Obviously, this depiction speaks to Jesus less as a human being and more as God, and it doesn’t really state his racial make-up other than as a bronzed-footed, white-haired shiny man with fire eyes.
Old Testament descriptions speak of the coming Messiah (which Christians believe to be Jesus) and describe him as “fairer than the children of men” (Psalms 45:2). And a verse in Lamentations believed to refer to Jesus states, “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more swarthy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire: Their visage is blacker than coal” (4:7-8). So, while purer than snow, the Nazarites’ visages (AKA their faces) were black; does this give you a clearer picture?
This imagery is most likely meant in a figurative sense, but it gives cause for misinterpretation of the literal image of Jesus. And these descriptions even change depending on the version of the Bible you read.
The color white is frequently symbolic of purity in the Bible. Jesus is frequently referred to as “the lamb of god,” and the holy spirit is often depicted as a white dove. This long-lasting association between the color white and goodness/purity could be part of the reason Jesus was depicted as white.
Or, alternatively, it could explain a larger misunderstanding of interpreting figurative whiteness from the Bible as a literal light skin tone. Anyone can have a conscience so pure that it’s white like snow, and it doesn’t necessarily mean their racial appearance is white. The connection between the color white and purity has long been misused to justify racism and slavery.
After Jesus’ death, being his known homie wasn’t exactly cool. Christians were persecuted by the Roman Empire for several centuries after his death, and followers therefore relied on symbols to represent their religious beliefs and secretly connect with one another. These symbols included the ichthyos, (the Jesus fish still prevalent today), and the Chi-Ro, a monogram of the letters chi (X) and ro (P), the first two letters in the Greek word “Christos,” meaning Christ.
Unfortunately for historians, this means that there are virtually zero depictions of Jesus from the time when people actually might have accurately remembered what he looked like. Womp womp.
In the sixth century, Byzantine artists began portraying a white-skinned, middle-hair-parted, bearded Jesus. Why did they do this when the earliest depictions of Jesus show him with a darker complexion? According to Biblical scholar Christena Cleveland, in reality, Jesus would have been an ethnic minority even during his own lifetime. And, even then, “Jews were marginalized by Romans, Greeks, and other non-Jewish groups in many imperial cities.”
And Jesus wasn’t a silent minority either. In the Bible, he’s quite the rabble rouser, literally organizing grassroots efforts to aid the poor and needy against the rich and powerful. Probably not the image of God the Roman Empire really wanted to shout from the rooftops. Less radical and less brown made for a better deity in the Roman imagination and directly contributed to the White Jesus so prevalent today.
By the 5th century, with Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, Jesus was all the rage, and artistic depictions began to flourish in the Roman Empire. The classic representation of Jesus today – as a white man with longish brown hair, a beard, and a halo – became prolific under Constantine. As the artwork was mostly being created in Rome, it’s likely that they painted their Messiah as appearing similar to themselves, with European features and lighter skin, to deepen their own connection to him.
As Christianity became acceptable, and then even popular, people realized they didn’t have any true physical renderings of their savior, Jesus Christ. So they did what people do best and started making stuff up.
A forged letter from one Publius Lentulus (circa 14-37 CE) to the Roman senate claims to give a physical description of Jesus, saying he is tall, wavy-haired, rosey-cheeked, and blue-eyed. The only problem is that there’s pretty much no way this letter was written at the time it claimed to be, as there was no such Lentulus during this time period, and it includes many phrases and references that place its creation sometime around the 13th century.
Several other supposed ancient descriptions of Jesus arose during this time, but, like the Lentulus letter, they have been dated to the Middle Ages, when artistic depictions of Jesus would have already become commonplace and influential.
In addition to the documents claiming to be first-hand accounts of what Jesus looked like, many famous ‘miracle images’ and visions of Christ popped up around the Middle Ages. The Image of Edessa, for example, supposedly bears the image of Jesus from a towel Christ wiped his face on during his lifetime. But people – being like they are – are phonies, and this towel image, as well as many other famous artifacts claiming to have captured the face of Jesus, are widely dated by historians to the Middle Ages rather than Jesus’ lifetime.
By the Middle Ages, the Roman Empire had been replaced with papal authority, and the time period was marked by Crusades (AKA Holy Wars) against Muslim forces in and around the the Holy Land (AKA Jerusalem). The continual religious fighting during this time was between European Christians and Middle Eastern Muslims. Therefore, from the perspective of the Christian forces, the non-believers and the enemy were non-white. Despite the fact that Jesus probably looked more like these people than Europeans, his image as a white man was crucial to the Crusades and their mission. They certainly wouldn’t have painted him to look like the enemy.
While Popes weren’t the ones painting the pictures, artists during this time could’ve faced some dark consequences for going against the Church and its accepted depiction of Jesus. For most starving artists, compromising in their rendering of Christ certainly beat out getting burned for heresy.
In addition, artists would want to actually sell their artwork, which would have been difficult if they strayed from the popular and mainstream image of White Jesus. Having one agreed-upon image of the savior helped to unify the religion and worked as proof against the nay-sayers.
Just like the scriptures that were manipulated to put Jesus in a better light as it relates to modern ethics and morality, so was his physical depiction changed to present an image that was more relatable to the majority of his followers. It all came down to this: make Jesus kind (he was not), make Jesus God (he was not), and make Jesus white (he was not).
(2579) The ball drop
Unbeknownst to most people, we run experiments every day that provide evidence for or against the existence of a god. One of them is dropping a ball. In a universe populated by a god or gods who have the power to manipulate objects, the act of dropping a ball would likely be unpredictable, even if the exceptions were exceedingly rare. The following was taken from:
The laws of physics work. Every single time. Our most tried and proven theories such as General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics do not have exceptions in them. There are limits to the ranges at which they work, just as there are with Newton’s (so-called) Laws of Motion. But, within the realms for which they are defined, they always work.
We don’t need exceptions in our laws of physics for when some god or other intervenes.
If you drop a ball while standing on the surface of the earth, it will fall to the ground. Every single time. This is just what it means to be a scientific theory. We actually don’t have any proof that this is so. It just keeps on working every time we perform the experiment. This is how science works. It is all empirical.
With the exception of mathematics, which does in fact have proofs, everything we know about our world is empirical.
If you believe in god(s), you will never know whether the ball will fall to the ground when you drop it. Seriously. You don’t. If you believe there are god(s), you must believe that one of them might catch the ball and hold it suspended in mid-air, or cause it to fall up, or cause it to go sideways and hit you in the eye. You have no clue what will happen next in a godinfested universe.
Thank God there are no gods! /snark
Whether it’s dropping balls or boiling water, the physics works as expected 100% of the time. In a world with gods, it would be at most 99% and some change.
(2580) God is a poor parent
Christians often refer to their god as ‘Father,’ though, comparing Yahweh to the characteristics universally considered to be optimal for punishing children, this god is a very poor parent. The following was taken from:
There are a lot of aspects that make a good parent. But maybe none is as important and can inflict as much damage if done wrong, as the way in which parents punish.
Yahweh is often referred to as the Father, and generally seen as the ultimate parent. But punishment is also a huge thing when it comes to god. The OT is mostly a tale of brutality and punishment. Egypt, Sodom, original sin. The NT goes even further and introduces the ultimate punishment. Hell.
Psychologists Bourne & Ekstrand in 1992 and Zimbardo & Gerrig in 2004 developed a list of rules for what constitutes so called “reasonable” or “useful” punishment. Let’s see how the supposedly ultimately great father compares. Punishment should…
1) Be uncomfortable, short, quick. The concept of eternal hellfire is purposefully built as a deterrent and scare tactic and thus purposefully breaks this rule.
2) Occur right after the unwanted reaction. With hell an entire lifetime can stand between crime and punishment. In the same way the events of Yahweh slaughtering the populations of Egypt, Sodom and others happened quite some time after the alleged misconduct.
3) Only be as intense as the crime allows. There is not a single crime in human history that warrants the ETERNAL torture of the criminal. Even things as horrendous as the Holocaust come nowhere close to the cruelty of hell. Furthermore Yahweh is very fond of the punishment of death for even the smallest of crimes. For using free will, for picking up sticks on the wrong day, for not listening to parents. Not to mention all the innocents that get killed as punishment for someone else’s crime.
4) Be understandable as a direct and natural consequence of the crime. As already explained the punishments Yahweh uses are not direct due to the time passing from crime to punishment and not natural due to their brutality and lack of due process involved.
5) Focus on the changeable behavior, not the person. Now one might say this is the “hate the sin, not the sinner”. But in fact god is more than happy to murder the criminals and many innocents alongside them. Murder is the ultimate sign of “hate the sinner” as the sinner himself is destroyed. This becomes even more apparent in god’s hatred for homosexuals and non-believers, where the person specifically is purposefully targeted.
6) Be exclusive to the situation at hand. Again the time that passes before punishment occurs and the constant murder of innocent bystanders is a direct violation of this rule. But the most blatant example is the original sin. The punishment of mortal life, the fall from paradise and the cursing of the criminals by god all are eternal and even extend to their completely innocent descendants. It is the polar opposite to what the rule states.
7) Include no bodily harm. I think it is obvious how god breaks this rule.
8) Propose an alternative, better behaviour for the future. There is not a single instance in which that has been done. Neither the punishment in hell, nor the murder sprees by god leave any room for learning from mistakes, let alone for changing the behavior. There is no end to hell, there is no action to be taken after death. Even in the instances where the punishment is not lethal or eternal, like the 40 years in the desert, god still does not make any suggestion as to how the people should behave instead and gives absolutely no advice as to how they should handle their criminal urges in the future.
The Christian god breaks every single rule that constitutes good punishment and in fact often employs the polar opposite, worst possible tactic. The supposedly all-knowing god doesn’t know what good punishment is or even what his punishments do to his victims. The supposedly perfect father fails spectacularly in one of the most crucial fields of parenting and many others as well.
It is obvious that the people who wrote the biblical scriptures were not trying to paint a gentle fatherly figure but rather that of a stern ruler whose compassion only went so far and whose wrath was on a hair trigger. Although this tactic might have scared people into compliance, it ended up making for a grotesque entity that is undoubtedly fictional.
(2581) The Bible mirrors the mythology of its time
There is plenty of evidence that the people who wrote the Bible used their knowledge of other mythological stories to fashion their tales. The following offers several examples of this fact:
As In Eden, Temptation Forces Enkidu To Leave Paradise, Naked And Ashamed
In the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the titular character becomes king thanks to his incredible strength. The people of Gilgamesh’s kingdom feel he has too much power, however, prompting the goddess of creation to balance Gilgamesh with a rival named Enkidu.
Living away from civilization in the wilds, Enkidu finds contentment in his primitive lifestyle. But after trappers and shepherds complain about being bothered by Enkidu, Gilgamesh sends a harlot named Shamhat to seduce the wild man and teach him civility. After six days together, Enkidu loses his uncultured tendencies and realizes he can no longer abide in the natural world. Once he visits civilization, however, the animals shun Enkidu – forcing him to wear clothing and conceal his nakedness.
Of course, people discovering the concept of nudity, a female temptress, and the forced evacuation of a natural paradise are all motifs in the story of Adam and Eve from the Bible’s Book of Genesis.
Hercules And Samson Both Possessed Super-Strength And Killed A Lion With Their Bare Hands
One beloved Bible story follows Samson, an amazingly strong man whose power resides in his hair. Unsurprisingly, many similarities exist between this legend and the story of Hercules from Greek mythology.
A demigod born of a human woman and Zeus, Hercules possesses incredible strength. Like Samson, he kills a lion with his bare hands and overcomes even his most powerful opponents without aid. After suffering a bout of madness brought on by Zeus’s jealous wife Hera, however, Hercules murders his children. Upon coming to his senses, he begins a journey of atonement – taking on 12 tasks to prove his worth.
In addition to killing the lion, Hercules fights the Hydra, obtains a girdle from the queen of the Amazons, frees Prometheus, and travels to the underworld to bring back the three-headed dog Cerberus. As with Samson, Hercules loses his strength because of a lover. Whereas the Biblical hero’s mate Delilah betrays him, someone tricks Hercules’s wife into poisoning her love.
Remember Jonah? A Large Fish Also Swallowed Saktideva During A Storm
In the Bible, a massive fish swallows Jonah during a storm. After three days, however, Jonah emerges unharmed and continues his journey. As it turns out, a similar tale appears in Hinduism.
The story begins when Saktideva learns the princess of Vardhamanapura wishes to marry a man who has set eyes upon the “Golden City” – a place no one has ever heard of or visited. Saktideva lies about visiting the Golden City himself, but the princess sees through his deception. So, Saktideva sets out to find it.
Midway through his journey, Saktideva encounters a massive storm – complete with a hurricane – which sinks his vessel. Although his companion clings to a plank until another boat rescues him, a large fish swallows Saktideva. The companion eventually manages to catch the fish, gut it, and free an unharmed Saktideva from its stomach.
Tower Of Babel Stories Exist In Many Different Religions And Cultures
In the 19th century, a group of Iraqis discovered ruins while digging the foundation for a garden. Years later, German engineers realized the discovery was likely the remains of Etemenanki, a grand structure many believe inspired the Bible’s Tower of Babel.
Babylonians built the tower sometime in the 6th century BCE and dedicated the 300-foot-tall building to the god Marduk. Although many attribute the destruction of the tower to the Persian king Xerxes, historians think the passage of time and lack of upkeep proved its downfall.
The Bible story may contain some historical truth, however, as tales of towers and the sudden separation of languages appear in several religions and cultures. The Hindu “Confusion of Tongues” legend describes a great tree that grew tall and wide to protect people. Eventually, Brahma cursed the tree for being prideful and cut off its branches, scattering them to create differences in language.
An Armenian story, meanwhile, features a group of arrogant giants who build a tower ultimately toppled by God’s wrath. Across the Atlantic, a Mexican folktale describes a tower built to reach the heavens. It failed, however, after fire reigned down from above and the workers suddenly began speaking different languages.
With A Strong Resemblance To Moses, Dionysus Led His Followers To Freedom From Their Inhibitions
Often depicted as an older man with a beard, the Greek god Dionysus (AKA Bacchus in Roman mythology) bears a striking resemblance to Moses from the Bible. As the god of agriculture and wine, Dionysus carries a staff that can turn into a snake, and some accounts feature Dionysus and Moses performing similar miracles.
According to Greek legend, Zeus’s affair with a mortal woman led to the birth of Dionysus.
Knowing that to gaze upon a god’s unaltered divine shape is fatal to all mortals, Zeus’s jealous wife, Hera, tricked the woman into seeing his true form, killing her. But the god managed to save his unborn child, placing the fetus in his thigh until the child’s birth.
Growing up, Dionysus remained hidden from Hera. And as an adult, he traveled the land teaching others about winemaking. Although he didn’t physically lead his followers to freedom like Moses, many consider Dionysus a liberator for releasing inhibitions and loosening societal constraints through his love of alcohol and good times.
Like Abraham, Harishchandra Had To Prove His Worth Through His Son
As with Abraham being tasked to offer up his son in God’s honor, Hinduism includes a story about a man remaining faithful while considering the death of a child.
Stories differ regarding how King Harishchandra came to owe the sage Vishwamitra the rights to his kingdom, but all claim the ruler willfully handed it over. Left with nothing, Harishchandra couldn’t pay the additional fee Vishwamitra required – so he sold his wife and son to a Brahmin. He then took a job at a crematorium, the least respected position in his society.
One day, a snake bit Harishchndra’s son Rohita, killing him instantly. Though devastated when his wife brought Rohita’s remains to the crematorium, the former king stood true to his work and refused to accept the body without charging a fee.
Since his wife had nothing, she offered her clothing as payment. Impressed by Harishchandra’s adherence to the rules, Vishwamitra and Vishnu decreed Harishchandra and his wife fit to be gods – and brought Rohita back to life.
Brahma, Vishnu, And Shiva Form The Holy Trinity Of Hinduism
Similar to the Christian dogma of the Trinity, Hinduism features three great deities atop their religious hierarchy. Although the Christian version entails the same god split into three entities, Hinduism includes distinct deities working together to keep the world in balance. Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu make up Hinduism’s trinity, with Brahma acting as the creator, Shiva the destroyer, and Vishnu the preserver of order.
The worship of Shiva – a four-armed deity known for destroying things – may seem strange to those in the West. But as with the concept of yin and yang, breaking things down is necessary for rebirth. Shiva balances Vishnu, a bejeweled king who protects Earth and its inhabitants from evil.
Brahma, meanwhile, has four heads and created the universe. People who adhere to Hinduism, however, do not worship him as much as Vishnu and Shiva. Although the explanations for this vary, it’s either a punishment for Brahma’s lustful treatment of women or because many consider the creation of the universe finished work.
‘The Book Of Proverbs’ Parallels The Egyptian ‘Instruction of Amenemope’
In 1888, an archeologist obtained an ancient Egyptian papyrus for the British Museum. Researchers didn’t attempt to translate it, however, until years later – when they discovered the text contained many similarities to the Bible’s Book of Proverbs.
Scholars named the Egyptian text the Instruction of Amenemope, after the supposed author who inscribed 30 wise sayings. According to historians, the text predates Proverbs, though most believe Solomon was aware of Amenemope’s writings when he created his collection of wisdom.
The parallels appear between Proverbs 22:17-23:12, and include “Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate” (Proverbs 22:22) and “Guard yourself from robbing the poor, from being violent to the weak” (Amenemope 4.4-5).
It would likely have stunned the people who wrote these stories to learn that thousands of years later they would have been interpreted as being literally true. It would be like somebody writing today about various and dramatic encounters with the Loch Ness Monster and having a religion forming around it in the Year 4000 by people who believe these things actually happened. At the very least, un-indoctrinated people can see the sources of the biblical myths and form a reasonable conclusion about their origins.
(2582) Pray for Olive
A child’s death in December, 2019, and the effort by her church to resurrect her using online resources was a real live test of the existence of God. This is not to say that it proved his non-existence, but it added additional evidence that, combined with every other similar effort, comes within a hair’s breadth of disproving (at least) a benevolent deity who responds to humanity’s cries. The following was taken from:
The “Pray for Olive” initiative was an effort to raise a little girl from the dead, started by Bethel Church. The little girl, named Olive Heiligenthal, died suddenly last December. Shortly after her death, Bethel Church began an online initiative to get people to pray for the resurrection of Olive.
Olive was not raised, and this is evidence that Christianity is false. Here is a formal argument:
If Christianity is true, efforts like “pray for Olive” should work, at least some of the time.
Efforts like “pray for Olive” do not work, even some of the time.
Therefore Christianity is false.
Why believe the first premise? Because, in John 14:12 Jesus says:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12
So if Christianity is true, the followers of Jesus will match the miracles of Jesus, and even exceed the miracles of Jesus. Note that we know Jesus is talking about literal miracles when he says “greater works” in this verse because in the previous verse he says:
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. -John 14:11
Jesus is here saying “Hey, if you can’t take my word for it, then believe I’m divine because of the miracles (works) I do”. Now, add to this the fact that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It follows that the followers of Jesus will raise people from the dead.
But of course, this never happens. Christians have (sadly) never raised anyone from the dead, including Olive at Bethel Church. The failure rate of these sorts of efforts is 100%. This is extremely congruent with naturalism, and extremely incongruent with Christianity, given the promise of Jesus that his followers would match and exceed his miracles. Therefore, the failure of “pray for Olive” and other resurrection efforts is good reason to think Christianity is false.
For anyone seeking to decide whether or not to believe in Christianity, this is perhaps one of the most important types of evidence to analyze. If Christianity is true, then God heard these prayers and it was well within his capability to raise the girl, though he decided not to, contrary to the scriptures in his holy book. On the other hand, if no gods exist then no explanation is required.
(2583) The Whirlpool Galaxy
Christianity had the misfortune to grow up in a time when humans did not understand their place in the universe, so it made several mistakes that are embarrassing in light of today’s scientific age. As Jesus is alleged to have said (Matthew 24:29):
“Immediately after the distress of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
Stars falling from the sky is bad enough, but shaking the heavenly bodies seems to imply that the galaxies will also be affected. The following was taken from:
This is the Whirlpool Galaxy. Take a good look at it. It contains over 100,000,000,000 solar systems.
Billions upon billions of other suns and planets, many of which are similar to our own. Who knows how many other species of life may be inhabiting this stunning galaxy. But ultimately, the Whirlpool Galaxy and all its inhabitants are doomed. At some point, this galaxy will disappear due to the actions of humans. Not only the Whirlpool galaxy, but every galaxy in the universe will cease from existence. The Andromeda galaxy, the Black Eye galaxy, galaxy ESO 137-001, etc. All of them will pass away. Why? Because the creator who made these structures is angry with Homo sapiens in the Milky Way.
If Christianity is true, the above must also be true. If you agree that these are the implications of your faith, then we can talk about why those implications are problematic. But if you don’t agree, then consider this.
Several passages in the Bible indicate that a day is coming when God will unleash his wrath on mankind, resulting in the destruction of the current universe and the creation of one anew. 2 Peter 3 describes this as a day when ”the heavens will disappear with a roar.” You might think, well maybe ‘heavens’ only refers to our local sun, moon, and atmosphere. But this is refuted by passages like Isa 34:4 which says that “all the stars in the heavens will be dissolved.” Or consider Psalm 102:25-26: “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; all of them will wear out like a garment.” This is clearly referring to destruction on a cosmic scale.
Thus, if the above is true, then the Christian is committed to the view that the fate of the Whirlpool Galaxy (and all other galaxies with it) rests on the actions of Homo sapiens in the Milky Way.
The Whirlpool Galaxy is approximately 23 million light-years away. If an astronomer there has a solar system-sized telescope and today peers in the direction of Earth, he will see lots of furry creatures scrambling amidst tree canopies but there would be no sign of civilization. Humans are 23 million years from developing from his point of view. Yet, according to Christianity, his fate, the fate of all of his planet’s life forms, and the fate of every being in his galaxy depends on how Earthbound people respond to God. When his galaxy evaporates, to be told it was because of what happened on Earth, he will be astounded to think that it was the fault of those little monkey-like creatures he saw frolicking in the trees.
(2584) The motte-and-bailey fallacy
Christian apologists often defend their faith by using a two-tiered argument, where they advance an aggressive claim but when challenged on it they quickly retreat to a more modest claim that is impossible to disprove. When the challenger retreats, they assert that the aggressive claim remains viable. This is called a motte-and-bailey fallacy. Here is an explanation of how it works:
The motte-and-bailey fallacy (named after the motte-and-bailey castle) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy where an arguer conflates two positions which share similarities, one modest and easy to defend (the “motte”) and one much more controversial (the “bailey”). The arguer advances the controversial position, but when challenged, they insist that they are only advancing the more modest position. Upon retreating to the motte, the arguer can claim that the bailey has not been refuted (because the critic refused to attack the motte) or that the critic is unreasonable (by equating an attack on the bailey with an attack on the motte).
A Motte and Bailey castle is a medieval system of defence in which a stone tower on a mound (the Motte) is surrounded by an area of land (the Bailey) which in turn is encompassed by some sort of a barrier such as a ditch. Being dark and dank, the Motte is not a habitation of choice. The only reason for its existence is the desirability of the Bailey, which the combination of the Motte and ditch makes relatively easy to retain despite attack by marauders. When only lightly pressed, the ditch makes small numbers of attackers easy to defeat as they struggle across it: when heavily pressed the ditch is not defensible and so neither is the Bailey. Rather one retreats to the insalubrious but defensible, perhaps impregnable, Motte. Eventually the marauders give up, when one is well placed to reoccupy desirable land. … the Bailey, represents a philosophical doctrine or position with similar properties: desirable to its proponent but only lightly defensible. The Motte is the defensible but undesired position to which one retreats when hard pressed.
Here is one example of how this strategy is employed in real life: A Christian states that God answers the prayers of faithful followers in accordance with scriptural guarantees. A skeptic then points to scientific studies that have shown that prayers for sick people are ineffective. The Christian then asserts that God acts only in ways that keep his influence hidden, so he knows when such a study is being done and prevents the outcome from showing a positive effect. Outside of a study he is free to answer prayers as he sees fit. The skeptic now gives up because the more modest claim is impossible to disprove. The Christian then claims to have won the argument and that his original claim is proven.
This is but one example of how this fallacy is used to defend Christianity. The very fact that it is employed at all is an indication of the fragility of the evidence supporting the faith.
(2585) Belief fails as a criterion for judgment
It takes an concerted exercise of superficial thinking to unpack Christian salvation theology without seeing the blaring lights and hearing the honking horns of how ridiculous it is. The following explains why it cannot make sense within a competently functioning mind:
We nonbelievers claim that a perfectly good, loving being would never have created hell, but according to most Christians we are simply wrong. God is loving, they say, but he is also just — and justice demands that evil-doers be punished. Without hell, after all, where would the Hitlers, Stalins, and Ted Bundys of this world end up? In heaven?
This is a common argument, which means that many must find it persuasive, but my guess is that those who do simply haven’t given it sufficient thought. It’s very easy to see the flaws in it.
To begin with, hell isn’t only for serious evil-doers: standard Christian doctrine maintains that we are all deserving of eternal punishment and that anyone who doesn’t accept God’s offer of salvation ends up there. A second thing to keep in mind is that even the worst evil-doers aren’t necessarily sent to hell — not if at some point they become sincere believers. Ted Bundy, for instance, claimed to have accepted Jesus before being executed, and if that’s true then on the standard view he did end up in heaven.
One therefore cannot justify hell on the grounds that evil-doers must be punished. But more importantly, can one still maintain that God is just given this doctrine? Does it make sense that all of us are deserving of eternal punishment, or that those who accept Jesus are forgiven?
Let’s begin with why everyone supposedly merits eternal damnation. One common reason offered for this is that God, due to his moral perfection, has standards that are so high that no one is good enough to meet them. Even if you are a saint, you aren’t perfect: at the very least, you’ve probably told a few white lies. And that, the argument goes, makes you bad enough, in God’s eyes, to merit the worst form of punishment.
But now consider an analogy. Suppose a father finds out his teenage daughter lied about when she returned home from a party: she said she was back by 10 (as she was supposed to have been) even though she didn’t actually make it home until 10:15. By the above logic, if this father punished her by chaining her to the basement wall for a week and giving her a hundred lashes a day with a belt, that would show that he has very high moral standards. His standards still wouldn’t be as high as God’s, of course, for the Lord demands far worse punishment for the girl, but they would nevertheless be much loftier than those of the majority of parents out there.
As to the second question — whether those who accept Jesus’s offer of salvation deserve to be forgiven — consider that while Bundy is experiencing eternal bliss, any non-Christian who spent her entire life helping others and doing nothing but good deeds still goes to hell. All I can say is that if you think that’s right, you have a very bizarre sense of justice.
The heinousness of this entire doctrine is somewhat mitigated by the (nowadays rather common) claim that hell isn’t as terrible as advertised. Maybe it just means annihilation. Or perhaps it means spending eternity apart from God (which, however, is still supposed to be a very undesirable thing). But no matter what one says about it, the basic idea remains entirely unfair. Believing in Christianity — or in Islam, or any other dogma — does not make one the slightest bit more ethical than not believing, and thus cannot be a sound basis for distinguishing those who merit forgiveness from those who do not.
Christians have been contradicting their scriptures, gradually ‘making’ hell less torturous, in a desperate attempt to rescue the theology. Unfortunately for them, their scheme is uncovered by the very words baked into their scriptures:
“It’s not really painful”- but what about Matthew 13:42?
“They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
“It will be for only a short time.” – but what about Matthew 25:46?
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Christians are fighting a losing battle over the doctrine of hell that will eventually, as the world moves in the direction of greater ethical standards, cause it to collapse into the dustbin of history.
(2586) Spaceless, timeless god does not exist
As science uncovered the characteristics of the physical world and it became obvious that gods do not live on mountain tops or in the clouds, Christians had to re-locate their god. The go-to response is usually that God exists outside of time and space. Unbeknownst to them, by saying that they have effectively admitted that their god does not exist. The following was taken from:
Often times when debating or practicing SE, people of the Christian religion tend to put certain attributes on their god: timelessness and spacelessness. Usually they agree that their god is immaterial, which I think proves that a god with said attributes doesn’t exist.
I think that from a physics standpoint, something exists if it meets one or both of two criteria: it is a particle, and/or it interacts with particles; particles being electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, neutrinos, etc., and interactions between particles being energy and forces. Ideas exist because they are the interactions between neurons, and objects exist because they are both made up of particles and interact with other particles.
If something doesn’t meet these criteria, then it doesn’t exist, except as an idea, but only that. Claiming that [insert god here] is an idea is the same as saying “god is love,” which is an equivocation fallacy, as the original attributes of said god are implied. This means that if a god exists, it must be material, and to claim that it exists outside of reality is to claim that it doesn’t exist at all.
A god without mass or a location in space cannot exist because intelligence cannot exist without matter, and matter must occupy a given location. This means that a god would have to have mass and be located in a specific place. But if that is so, then this god cannot be omniscient because he can see only what has happened in the past because the rate of transmission of information is limited to 300,000 km/sec.
(2587) The black cat analogy
There is a natural progression of human thought that ranges from philosophy to metaphysics to theology and then finally to science. As we step through these branches of cognition, there is a trend that can be illuminated with a simple thought experiment- the black cat analogy. The following was taken from:
Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting “I found it!”
Science is like being in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there while using a flashlight and concluding “There is no black cat in this room.”
Understanding reality was a scarce commodity until there existed a widespread application of science. This happened only in the past 400 years or so. Until then, philosophy, metaphysics, and theology were the defining tools for how people viewed the world. Now, science is beginning to outshine the others. It is the flashlight and the black cat is God and the dark room is the universe.
(2588) Intelligent design failure
Many Christian who cannot bring themselves to accept the creation stories in the Bible resort to the idea that God designed the world and its living creatures by managing the processes of evolution to achieve that end. They point to various complex biological systems as supporting evidence. But there are problems with this theory that were succinctly but comprehensively debunked by author Cassie Fox in her book Black Sheep: My Journey from Evangelical Christianity to Atheism.
In struggling to hold onto her faith, Fox thought Intelligent Design might provide help. In one of my favorite chapters in the book, she presents her verdict:
“Intelligent design is a statement of belief. It does not even qualify as a hypothesis. A hypothesis is based on knowledge we currently have. However, intelligent design is not based on this. It is based only on the hopes and fantasies erected by our conceit” (p. 115).
“Since the proponents of intelligent design claim that nature reveals to us the involvement of a creator, if we were to accept such a proposition, we would have to accept what nature reveals about this creator. What we see is a creator who is apathetic, cruel, careless, and lazy. Any designer performing in this manner should be swiftly fired and sent on his way” (p. 119).
“If we take the time to observe the extreme amount of pain, death, and extinction that has occurred on this planet…the idea of a design will be hard to grasp. Can a design with a 99.9% failure rate be considered a design at all? (p.91)
When a Christian extols about the wonders of the human eye and other natural wonders, the skeptic can unload a competing rebuttal:
Headaches, backaches, toothaches, strains, scrapes, breaks, cuts, scars, acne, rashes, infections, burns, bites, lice, shingles, psoriasis, bruises, gangrene, fungal disease, PMS, fatigue, hunger, molds, colds, flus, pneumonia, ebola, measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, asthma, fevers. yeast, appendicitis, tonsillitis, parasites, sepsis, Lyme disease, meningitis, rabies, yellow fever, tetanus, malaria, smallpox, food poisoning, viruses, cancers, AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis, genetic defects, stillbirth, autism, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, paralysis, insomnia, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, hemophilia, kidney disease, liver disease, anemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, tuberculosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, senility, MS, cystic fibrosis, ALS, accidents, fires, floods, blizzards, tsunamis, mudslides, avalanches, droughts, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes, meteors, and volcanoes.
Somehow, God no longer seems to be such an intelligent designer.
(2589) Picking your religion
When people buy cars or appliances, they typically shop around, comparing different brands, doing research and such before making a purchasing decision. Sometimes, but rarely, they might say, “I was brought up in a Chevrolet family, so I will always buy Chevrolets” or “I will buy a Mercedes because this will help me in my business ventures,” but, by and large, decisions to buy a car are done with an eye toward affordability, dependability, and practicality. Religion is an outlier with respect to its ‘purchasing,’ as discussed below:
Imagine you were starting from a place of not already having a religion, but you want to pick one. What method would you go about choosing which religion to follow? There are a couple of ways that one could pick a religion.
- Choose one which has the best moral code (most in line with your humanistic ideas of morality, has the fewest moral “red flags”)
- Choose one which seems the most likely to be true (which one has served as the best predictor of future scientific discoveries after it was founded, and has the least conflict with science).
- Choose one based on familiarity (this is the religion that I was raised in, or the one that was most prevalent around me)
- Choose one based on earthly benefits (ie, one that will give you good social standing or many opportunities to network).
You can make an argument between the first two as to which is better, but they both have the benefit of being a reason that is based on the religion itself. Unfortunately, almost no religious person goes off of either of those. Basically every person becoming religious that I have encountered does so for one of the latter 2 reasons; generally the religion they were born in. Generally, people just follow whatever religion they were raised in or is followed by people in their social circle.
If you really believe that religion is this divine thing and your one connection to something higher than the earthly plane, then why pick a religion for such earthly reasons?
Religion (in general) would have much more credibility if people routinely researched the entire scope of world religions before deciding which one, if any, they would follow. This is true for probably less than one percent of theists. This reduces religion from the status of a cognitive conclusion to being just a mindless custom. As such, an alien observing this would dismiss it as a short-circuit of human cerebration.
(2590) Looking behind the curtain
In the 1939 movie, the Wizard of Oz, while everyone is being dazzled by an oversized talking wizard, a little dog pulls back the curtain, revealing a man who is running the entire show. It is almost a perfect metaphor- Christians mesmerized by the giant wizard, skeptics pulling back the curtain. In the following, the author Cassie Fox in her book Black Sheep: My Journey from Evangelical Christianity to Atheism describes how she ‘pulled back the curtain’ to reveal that the Christian ‘miracle’ of speaking in tongues is nothing more than mindless gibberish:
“Sometimes, someone would stand up and shout strange sounds. Everyone would immediately grow silent. As a young child, this always shocked and perplexed me…whenever the person finished, someone else would then begin shouting, but this time it would be actual words.
“Yes, my church was Pentecostal. We spoke in tongues, danced, got slain in the spirit, cast out demons, prayed for miracles, and shouted” (p. 6).
She noticed that those who spoke in tongues commonly did a lot of nonsense-syllable repetition. But not everyone shouted the same nonsense syllables: “If they were speaking in a heavenly language, why did everyone sound so different from one another?” (p. 20) It was up to others to shout the translations: “…the interpreted message was always much more complex than the original message given in tongues…a message in tongues would sometimes be very long while the interpretation was very short or vice versa. It did not make sense to me” (p. 21).
This marks the dividing line between the true believer and the skeptic- do you simply watch the show or do you investigate how it is being produced? It’s those in the latter group who fall away from their indoctrinated faith while those in the former continue to be dazzled by the glitz and lights.
(2591) Faith versus other virtues
The discussion that follows questions why a god would value faith as being more important and ultimately more rewardable than all other human virtues. The following was taken from:
Faith, according to modern Churches, is the main condition for salvation. Without it we are damned to eternal hellfire. For Protestants, faith is not merely the main criterion for salvation, it is the only criterion. So too for the Anglican Church, as confirmed in Article 11 of the 39 Articles. But it is not at all clear why a deity should set so much store by human faith. There are many other human qualities that one might have thought God would find desirable: gentleness, honesty, loyalty, truthfulness, steadfastness, altruism, merciy, open mindedness, and so on. That God should prefer faith over all such qualities, and even to the exclusion of all such qualities, is suspicious in the extreme, particularly since faith also happens to be the quality most popular amongst false gods and fraudsters. Also, if faith were such a desirable quality in itself, why is it not good to have faith in Islam, communism or tooth fairies?
Again, if faith is really so important, we are faced with some difficult paradoxes as soon as we think about the implications. Here is a thought experiment. Consider two children. Call them for the sake of argument Christine and Diana. Christine is not a reflective girl. She belongs to a large Christian family. She is thoroughly indoctrinated in the ways of her parents” faith. It never occurs to her to question what she has been told. She believes firmly everything that her priest tells her. She lives her entire life in ignorance of other religions or of atheism. In due course, after a life of aimless vegetation and absolute faith, she dies. Diana, on the other hand, is an intelligent child. Her parents encourage her to find out about all creeds, and after diligent research and long and careful thought she becomes a Buddhist. She leads a blameless life. She does good works, she gives alms to the poor, feeds the hungry, helps the sick, clothes the naked, visits those in gaol, and meditates deeply on the mysteries of life, until eventually she too dies. Is it really credible that Christine’s absolute faith wins her a place in Heaven while Diana, with no Christian faith, must be condemned to the outer darkness? Somehow the idea seems unlikely. Furthermore, this is not merely a hypothetical example. With little effort we could find numerous Christines and Dianas around the world. To an objective mind it seems incredible that faith could be the sole criterion for salvation, or even the prime criterion. Indeed, it is difficult for an objective mind to imagine why it should be a criterion at all.
It seems improbable that a god would place more emphasis on faith than other commendable human behaviors. Although it is true that the Bible encourages expressions of love and altruism, it is clear that in the final analysis, when it comes time to determine a person’s ultimate fate, faith is at the top of the list. The thought experiment above reveals an unrecoverable problem for Christian theology and it unmasks a naked truth…Christianity is manmade.
(2592) Resurrection inconsistencies
It is easy for Christians to accept without thought the idea that God will resurrect his chosen ones and send them to an eternal paradise. But once you start to figure out how this can happen using logical thought processes, the entire spectacle collapses into a head-scratching series of dead ends. The following was taken from:
The traditional view is that on the Day of Judgement all the graves will open, and dead bodies will arise to be judged by God. As the Athanasian Creed puts it: “…all men shall rise again with their bodies: and shall give account for their own works” (Book of Common Prayer ). That is why the Christian Churches so often refer to death as “sleep” and why Christians once referred to graveyards as dormitories (which is what the word cemetery originally meant ). A little thought shows that this position is difficult to sustain. For example what about people whose bodies have been completely destroyed? The Church used to burn its enemies and then scatter their ashes in a river in order to deny them the chance of bodily resurrection, just as some Native Americans scalped their enemies, in order that the gods would not be able to hoist them by the hair to the happy hunting grounds in the sky. Did the Christian method work any better than the Native American one?
For almost two millennia it was important to keep Christian dead bodies intact ready for their resurrection on the Day of Judgement. So what happened to those who failed to ensure that their bodies were kept intact? What about, for example, those whose ashes have been scattered from an aeroplane? And what about amputees? Do they get their arms and legs back in the afterlife? If they do, what about those who were born without limbs at all? Do they get new ones? What about Siamese twins? Will they still be joined together in the afterlife? Will it matter if they have been surgically separated during life? We might also speculate about the mechanics of bodily resurrection of those who have received organ transplants. Are they resurrected with their original organs, or the organs they possessed when they died? Will the resurrected use these organs to think, to breathe, to eat and digest food, and to excrete the waste products? What is the purpose of genitals in Heaven? Surely the Christian God could not countenance sexual activity among the heavenly hosts? Also, when these bodies are restored, will they look like they did at death? Will some of us spend eternity as babies? According to many clergymen the answer is yes, since they still assure bereaved parents that God has a special place for little children. Will other dead people spend eternity as doddery old men and women? Are there Zimmer frames and wheelchairs in Heaven — or are we all restored to the way we were at a certain age? If so what is that age? St Augustine said it was around 30 years. Does 30 years represent current orthodoxy? If so what about those who never reached that age?
If souls are allocated at conception as some theologians would now have us believe, what happens to the souls of aborted foetuses? Developmental biologists have discovered that more than two thirdsof pregnancies are spontaneously aborted at a very early stage, often without the mother even being aware of her pregnancy. The logical consequence of this is that well over two thirds of all souls are automatically condemned without ever having been born. So is the afterlife mainly populated by aborted foetuses? Are they all in Hell? Traditionally the position was even more bizarre. The Church taught that the life force was contained in male sperm (which is why it is such a grave sin to waste it). This teaching combined with modern scientific knowledge about reproduction suggests that every individual sperm has a soul. Can individual spermatozoa also expect bodily resurrection? Will Heaven be largely populated by billions of gallons of semen? Or is unbaptised semen all condemned to Hell?
Will married couples still be married? Jesus said not, but many grieving widows are given firm assurances by clergymen that they will one day be reunited with their dead husbands. What about those who have remarried after their partners” deaths? Will there be happy threesomes in Heaven?
In fact the idea of survival of the personality presents even greater difficulties. What will happen to homosexuals? What about cross-dressers, sexual deviants, depressives, neurotics and psychopaths? Will their personalities survive? Will those who died senile remain senile for eternity? What about those who were mentally handicapped during life? Will they continue to be mentally handicapped in the afterlife? What exactly is a personality anyway? Is there a one-to-one match between personalities and souls? Apparently the answer is “no” unless we accept that people with multiple personalities also have multiple souls. Perhaps everyone will be made perfect as they were or might have been at the age of thirty. But if people are to be restored to some perfect state, then it is hardly meaningful to speak of survival of the personality after death. Taking away people’s selfishness, jealousy, lust, stubbornness, greed, and so on might leave them with little personality left. A personality with all its imperfections corrected would be a different personality altogether. If a one-minute-old foetus has any personality at all, it is difficult to imagine that it would be sufficient to sustain an existence throughout eternity.
Further difficulties are presented by monstrous births. One might reasonably enquire about children who are born without a brain (it does happen). And what of those who are born with two heads and two brains (this happens too)? Babies like this who survive, as some do, generally develop two distinct personalities. Will both survive in the afterlife? And if so, what sort of appearance can they expect to be furnished with? Again, patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease can be treated by implanting foetal brain cells into their brains. In the future more ambitious brain transplants will be possible, perhaps restoring those with a deviant or pathological personality to normal. Will such people, when resurrected, possess their original defective personality or their medically restored healthy one? Will those with a severed corpus callosum (causing the two hemispheres of their brain to operate independently) have it magically repaired, radically changing their mental abilities?
The fact that there is no satisfactory answer to these questions suggests that the doctrine of the bodily Resurrection is badly flawed. The personality seems, from all the evidence we have, to be entirely dependent upon brain function. By affecting brain function it is easy to affect personality. That is why physical damage to certain parts of the brain affects personality. It is also why depressive patients are given electric shock therapy to the brain, why diseases such as encephalitis lethargica can turn a friendly person into a vicious one, and why deficiencies in chemicals such as iodine can turn an ordinary child into a retarded one. Much mental activity, including mood, is affected by neurohormones and neurotransmitters, which can easily be manipulated. Again, we know that oxygen starvation kills brain cells and that those who experience it often suffer marked changes in awareness, consciousness, intelligence, memory and conceptual ability, if they survive. Such changes in brain functionality clearly affect personality. The more prolonged the oxygen starvation, the greater the damage and personality change, ultimately resulting in the cessation of mental activity and death. If the mind, consciousness, memory and personality are irreparably damaged by lack of oxygen, it is plainly absurd that they can survive death intact. There is no scientific reason to suppose that any essential part of us survives after death, but if there is anything it must be so remote and abstract that it is hardly meaningful to identify it with its previous owner at all. It certainly cannot be what we know as personality, memory or mind.
More reflective Christians find this traditional doctrine something of an embarrassment. Most theologians have also abandoned the traditional doctrines of life after death along with divine rewards and punishments. Some, trying to hold onto some idea of resurrection, have returned to exotic ideas like those of Plato, who believed people might be resurrected as spheres.
This is what happens when religious dogma is invented without thinking it thoroughly through. The theory of Christian resurrection makes no sense once any attempt is made to conjecture how it might work. Anytime a proposition is advanced there has to be at least one reasonable and consistent hypothesis to explain how it might work. Christian resurrection fails to have even one.
(2593) Is the entire Bible inspired?
If your father wrote you a letter on his deathbed, informing you of the advice and knowledge that he wished to pass on to you, would you just read the parts of the letter that you found to be consistent with your own beliefs and convictions, or would you read the entire letter and try to absorb the full message? If you are a Christian, the Bible is the supposed letter from God, and you are most likely doing the latter- just reading the parts that make you feel good and avoiding the parts that make you cringe. If God had intended this, he would have made for a much smaller Bible, but no, he didn’t, and he expects that you will give all parts equal attention. The following was taken from:
Traditionally Christians have held that the whole of the Bible was divinely inspired. One might therefore expect that all of it would be regarded as equally important, and efforts would be made to understand all of it. Critics have frequently pointed out that in practice the overwhelming majority of Christians concentrate on a tiny minority of passages that bolster their own views. Churches simply choose the passages they like and ignore the ones they dislike. For example, congregations often hear the Matthew version of the parable of the talents, a favorite story, but they rarely hear the version in Luke 19:12-27. On the rare occasions that the Luke version is read in church the last verse is almost always left out, presumably because it does not conform to the Church’s current version of the type of thing Jesus might say. The verse is:
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
Unless Christians read the Bible for themselves they are unlikely to hear any but the same few passages over and over again each Sunday. These passages are generally the most inspiring and sympathetic to be found in the Bible. The vast majority of the text is quite different. Much of it seriously offends modern Christian sensibilities: God directing the killing of helpless prisoners or innocent babies, arranging for concubines to be fruitful, punishing people for other people’s wrongdoing, or promising to starve parents until they have to eat their own babies. Nor do churchgoers hear much about God’s shortcomings, such as that failure to prevail against an enemy equipped with iron chariots. In recent years some New Testament stories have been taken off the annual reading rota as well. Churchgoers do not hear nearly as much as they used to about people burning in Hell for eternity, nor about St Paul blinding people , nor about the sudden deaths of those who failed to live up to St Peter’s expectations.
Christians have unwittingly spoken with their actions (in direct contradiction of their words) that only some parts of the Bible are divinely inspired. The other stuff got mistakenly inserted. This tacit admission lets us know that Christians subconsciously understand that (at least most of) the Bible is of human authorship.
(2594) Stepping through the improbabilities
In the following, a series of probability gates are presented, all of which must be breached for Christianity to be true:
1) The universe might not have needed a creator.
There are some compelling theories about how a universe could have originated without anything preceding it, essentially a world from nothing.
2) Even if it required a creator, there is no compelling reason to conclude that the creator must be omnipotent, nor that the creator is still alive.
In our world, we see people creating things all the time and we don’t assume they are all powerful. Also we see some people who are killed by their explosive creations.
3) Even if the creator is omnipotent, there is no reason to conclude that it would suddenly intervene in human affairs after watching 4,000,000,000 years of biological evolution and 150,000 years of human evolution.
It would seem most likely that in a scenario where a god is monitoring the emergence of life and intelligence throughout the universe, that such a god would have the imperative to leave everything alone and not interfere, similar to how a person might manage a nature preserve on earth.
4) Even if the creator decided to intervene in the affairs of the earth’s intelligent beings, it is most probable that such intervention would be a planet-wide affair, not focused on a small tribe in a postage-stamp sized corner of a desert.
A creator intent on giving a message or instruction to the intelligent beings on earth would likely want to make sure that there would be no favoritism or discrimination in its dealings. A deity would most likely see all people as having equal worth and deserving of being treated similarly with equal opportunity.
5) Even if the creator decided to focus his intervention on an isolated people to the exclusion of all others, it is likely that its message would include knowledge that exceeded what these people already possessed.
It is difficult to imagine that an omniscient god would fail to inform its chosen people of scientific facts that would benefit their lives.
6) Even if the creator declined to share scientific insights with its chosen people it is likely that it would engender an ethos for promoting an ethical framework of fairness, tolerance, and compassion.
An omniscient deity who decides to intervene among a tribe of people would likely encourage a set of rules that would accelerate the evolution of what we might term modern-day morality, not a double-down on their barbaric past.
All six of these probability gates are breached by Christianity. This doesn’t prove its falseness, but it shows it to be highly improbable, especially considering the lack of any modern-day evidence of its truth.
(2595) Christianity is inequitable
Any religion that promises an afterlife of reward and punishment could be equitable- if it evaluated a person’s fate on the content of his character, the deeds performed, and whether he treats his fellow humans with fairness and compassion. Such a religion would afford everyone an equal chance to obtain a desirable afterlife. But Christianity does not meet this metric- it separates people on the basis of belief. Once you have done that, it is inevitable that your religion will be inequitable. The following was taken from:
Research has revealed that belief in Christianity is correlated with a number of attributes. It confirms for example that the greater a person’s intelligence, the less likely he or she is to hold traditional Christian beliefs. Are we to believe that the dull have on average a better chance of attaining Paradise than the intelligent? So too, the more creative they are the weaker is likely to be their faith. It also seems that alcoholics are more likely to be believers than the population at large. In general women, especially those without families, are much more religious than men. Another finding is that, once over the age of 60, people tend to become more religious the older they get. Church membership also tends to be class-related. Those who have moved up the social scale are less likely to be interested in religion than those who have not, while those who have moved down the social scale are more likely to be interested in it. It is also clear that children tend to adopt the religion of their parents. These findings support the intuitive view that an unintelligent, alcoholic, aged widow with no family, who was raised in a strict Christian home and who has since come down in the world, is far more likely to profess the Christian faith than a young family man who was raised by non-Christian parents and who has enjoyed academic, social and material success. The implication is that the Christian God discriminates against certain communities and social groups, in other words that Christianity is inequitable.
The fatal mistake made by Christianity (and this was largely the fault of Paul) was the assumption that God cannot allow anyone to enter heaven unless they are sinless, and that the only way for a human to be sinless is by vicariously transferring their sins to the crucified Jesus. This set up the machinery for centuries of war and suffering. It wasn’t good enough that you were a good, compassionate person working hard for the betterment of everyone- if you weren’t a Christian, you were evil, bound for hell, and a righteous target for harassment, torture, or death. Divorcing salvation from the simple act of being a good person guaranteed that Christianity would not be fair religion- and it also guaranteed that it could not be the product of a benevolent god.
(2596) Jesus is the adult Santa
There are remarkable parallels between children believing in Santa and adults believing in Jesus. The process of discarding the fantasies is also similar, though in the latter case it often never happens. The following was taken from:
Santa Claus may be seen as a junior version of Jesus Christ. Similarities between the two are striking. Both are superhuman supernatural father figures capable of miraculous feats. They both know how good or bad we have been and will reward or punish us accordingly (although in both cases the punishments for the wicked tend to be played down nowadays). They can both be in many places at the same time. Both share characteristics with earlier non-Christian gods. Both have given rise to huge commercial enterprises. Both are based on known historical persons: Christ on Jesus-bar-Joseph, a first century Jew, and Santa Claus on St Nicholas of Patra, a fourth century Bishop of Myra. Much of the detail concerning the activities of both is known to be unreliable historical accretion. The continued activities of both are matters of belief, bolstered by assurances from those in authority.
These similarities are sufficient to cause many children to confuse the two, or at least identify them as belonging together: “God and Santa Claus are best friends” as one little girl put it. Some churchmen are keen to eliminate Father Christmas for exactly this reason. In 1951 French clergymen burned an effigy of Père Noël in front of the cathedral at Dijon before hundreds of Sunday school children, and denounced him as “a Saxon myth who never existed except in parents’ annual lies to their children”.
Children are not the only ones liable to confuse Father Christmas with Jesus Christ. Sympathetic Japanese celebrating Christmas have been known to set up Christmas crosses in shopping arcades with crucified Father Christmases on them. Russian Christians address their prayers to both Christ and Santa Claus.
Christian children reach a certain mental age, they are conventionally disabused of what they have previously been told. There is, they are now assured, no Santa Claus after all — at least not a literal one who brings presents and eats mince pies. The story may be true in a more sophisticated, abstract, figurative sort of way, but no saint really came down the chimney to bring presents to good children. Something similar happens with the senior version of the story for those who study modern theology. The story that had up until now been literally true, is now true only in some sophisticated, abstract, figurative sort of way, but no God ever really came down from Heaven to bring salvation to good Christians.
Santa as a metaphor for Jesus is so blatant that it is remarkable that it is not better publicized, though some Christian parents have decided to avoid confusion by not referring to Santa as a real person to their children. To anyone brought up with Jesus who has since become agnostic or atheistic, it is recognized that both ‘awakenings’ were similar- using observation, analysis, and logic to arrive at the truth.
(2597) Omission of Jesus’ youth
Other than a clearly fictional story of a 12 year-old Jesus in the temple (see #141), there is no mention In the gospels or elsewhere in the Bible of anything Jesus did from his birth until he was about 30 when starting his ministry. This would be similar to a biography of Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. president) starting with his fourth decade. It would be rejected as being woefully deficient. The following was taken from:
Why don’t we know more about young Jesus? The earliest New Testament author, the apostle Paul, betrays no interest in the ministry and teachings of Jesus, let alone where he came from.
In the first gospel written, Mark, the hero pops out of nowhere as an adult to be baptized. Matthew and Luke sensed the need for backstory and added the beloved birth narratives. These, on close examination, make no sense whatever, and cannot be reconciled with each other; secular historians do not take them seriously. Luke offers a wunderkind invention about Jesus, as a 12-year old, in the Jerusalem Temple—a feeble scrap indeed that stands out because it is so unlikely. John’s gospel offers no help either; it claims that Jesus was present at the creation of the Cosmos, but provides no details about Jesus coming of age in the real world.
And the end of the Jesus story? That, in fact, is a catastrophic, as we’ll see.
But what a strange, deficient beginning. Wouldn’t you think if God had inspired the Bible account about his perfect son, we’d have a better picture of what happened? Former Baptist preacher Tim Sledge’s curiosity was piqued by that one isolated story about 12-year old Jesus in the Temple:
“That’s the last report on anything Jesus did or said until he began his ministry around the age of 30. The temple visit at age 12 marks the start of 18 years of silence about the life of the only person who—according to Christianity—ever managed to avoid committing even one sinful thought or act.
“Why do we know absolutely nothing about the world’s only perfect life between the ages of 13 and 29?
“For decades I wasn’t troubled by this information gap. ‘God has his reasons’ is a good multi-purpose tool for handling hard questions related to faith. But today, I see the Bible’s silence on these years of Jesus’s life as a glaring and troubling omission.” (pp. 54-55, Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief)
Surely the wonderful early life of Jesus would be worth knowing about:
“…what if we had the details of Jesus’s life in his twenties? How did he transition from adolescence to adulthood? How did he build strong, meaningful friendships? How did he deal with sexual temptation? How did he practice integrity in his work—presumably as a carpenter?” (p. 56)
Sledge proposes a thought experiment:
“Imagine you’ve never heard about Jesus, and someone tells you a story about the only perfectly sinless human to ever walk the earth. Then at some point, this individual casually remarks that the only information about this person’s life beyond childhood covers a period of one to three years at the end of his life.
“Wouldn’t you immediately question why there wasn’t more evidence to validate that this individual did in fact live a life in which no fault could be found?
“Wouldn’t you wonder why the God empowering this perfect life failed to ensure that someone wrote about events from its every year?
“And wouldn’t you wonder if the real reason for this loud silence was that the details of this life at an earlier stage needed to be concealed to sell the story of a perfect life?” (pp. 56-57)
Of course, scholars who question the historicity of Jesus—he was mythical from the get-go, there were no teenage years—have no trouble explaining this absence of information. Even for believers, however, this gap in Jesus knowledge should be troubling. It’s surely a major Bible Blunder that the gospel writers didn’t bother to tell the story of Jesus before he showed up for baptism.
Most Christians explain this omission by stating that it really doesn’t matter what was going on in Jesus’ life before he started preaching because he was just a regular child and then a regular carpenter with nothing remarkable happening. This despite the miraculous birth episode. But it is more likely that the gospel writers didn’t know anything about his childhood days and the Holy Spirit didn’t bother to ‘inform’ them.
(2598) Jesus died a second time
Gospel writers had to resort to a comic book solution to deal with Jesus’ resurrected body. In Mark he was ‘taken up,’ In Matthew, it is simply not addressed. In Luke, he was ‘taken up into heaven.’ John, like Matthew, simply avoids the question. Acts, also written by Luke, provides the silliest account as Jesus lifts off the earth and hides behind a cloud.
If we dismiss this phantasmagorical launching of Jesus’ body into outer space, as Matthew and John did (which would have been unlikely if they had known about such a marvelous miracle), then the problem remains of what happened to the physical body of Jesus. It seems that the rational conclusion is that he must have died a second time. Either that, or Christians must give up the idea that his resurrection was a physical event. The following was taken from:
But the biggest blunder of the gospel writers is the story of Jesus’ ascension to heaven. It cannot be stressed enough that this story alone falsifies Christianity—hence I tend to mention it a lot.
Once Jesus had come alive again—so the story goes—one big problem has to be faced: what to do with the newly alive body? Well, what else, for these ancient writers, but to send Jesus into the sky:
“…as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:9-11)
What are the chances? Christians who accept the naiveté of this story retreat to a metaphoric interpretation: it’s meant to symbolize Jesus’ close relationship with God the father. Yes, they admit, we can be 100% sure that the body of Jesus never left planet Earth. No, Jesus is not hovering, even now, above our biosphere, awaiting reentry at a time known only to God. But these honest Christians then must give some account of what happened to the newly alive body of Jesus—if they believe the resurrection is not a metaphor, i.e., that he really rose from the dead.
I guess nobody has a problem with Lazarus dying again; his return to life was nice while it lasted. And all those dead people who came alive to tour Jerusalem on Eastern morning? Presumably they headed back to their tombs to resume being dead. So, if you really believe that Jesus resurrected on Easter morning—but was permanently stuck here on this planet, he too must have died again. The what-to-do-with-the-body problem is thus a killer for Christianity.
What did happen to the body? The New Testament has not been honest. Can we call this a cover-up? It sure looks like it, although it’s a hard call: dead heroes floating up through the clouds is a mark of religious fantasy literature. Maybe the original audience was filled with awe, but we know it’s make-believe. The implication is this: Jesus didn’t, after all, come back to life; that’s make-believe too. Without the Ascension, you can’t have the Resurrection—unless you’re okay with Jesus dying again.
But the New Testament authors would certainly not have been okay with Jesus dying again. They had their story line, which could not have included a grave with a headstone, “Here Lies Jesus of Nazareth.” Nothing can be more obvious: the gospels haven’t told the truth; they have withheld information about the end of Jesus, just as information about his youth is missing.
It should be noted that the ending of Mark that has Jesus moving up into the atmosphere was a forgery, so, in actuality, it was only Luke, who wrote both Luke and Acts, that makes Jesus into a self-propelled astronaut. Absent this one man’s fantasy, the gospels are leaving an important part of the story untold- Jesus’ second and presumably final death.
(2599) Paul and Luke disagree on method of Jesus’ return
In Acts, the same person who wrote the Gospel of Luke wrote about the sudden and evidently miraculous appearance of two men dressed in white, who told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way they just witnessed him ascend into the sky, or, in other words, that he would descend from the sky and land on the ground. But in 1 Thessalonians, Paul imagines a different scenario where Jesus descends only to the level of the clouds and then the dead and the living are flown up to meet him there.
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul wrote his letter about 40 years or more before Luke wrote Acts, but it is likely that Luke was not conversant with Paul’s description or else he might have rephrased the men dressed in white to say, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will soon meet you in the clouds where you just saw him disappear.”
(2600) Paul’s gullibility
Most Christians are likely unaware of a scripture in 2 Corinthians that tells of the highly improbable experience of a man who visited heaven. What is most telling is that Paul bought this 14-year old story hook, line, and sinker.
2 Corinthians 12:2-5
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
What should be concerning to Christians is that Paul, the principal architect of Christian theology, appeared to have had a low threshold for believing fantastic stories. It is similar to those who believed the following alleged heavenly visitation by a boy who recently recanted:
There’s nothing God hates more than a liar, and that’s exactly what Alex Malarkey—protagonist and co-author of The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven—has just copped to being. In an open letter posted on a Christian website Tuesday, the alleged paradise tourist says “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.” Wow, we have a little sinner on our hands.
The book, probably hoping to make hay of the vast American Gullibility Industrial Complex that made Heaven Is For Real a successful text and movie (and a family called the Burpos very rich), has been mainstay in Christian book stores, the Washington Post reports. No longer:
The bestselling book, first published in 2010, describes what Alex experienced while he lay in a coma after a car accident when he was 6 years old. The coma lasted two months and his injuries left him paralyzed, but the book — with its assuring description of “Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World” — became part of a popular genre of “heavenly tourism,” which has been controversial among orthodox Christians.
Earlier this week, Alex recented [sic] his testimony about the afterlife.
This very true story, which has an outstanding 4.3 rating on Amazon and many glowing (like an angel’s crown) reviews, includes passages like this one:
“The devil’s mouth is funny looking, with only a few moldy teeth. And I’ve never noticed any ears. His body has a human form, with two bony arms and two bony legs. He has no flesh on his body, only some moldy stuff. His robes are torn and dirty. I don’t know about the color of the skin or robes—it’s all just too scary to concentrate on these things!”
How could someone make all that up? But in an open letter on the website Pulpit and Pen, Alex wrote that this did not actually happen to him. He didn’t visit the Devil, or God, or Heaven—he didn’t even die! What the heck:
“An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.”
Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.
I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.
I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.
It is likely that the man in Paul’s letter also made up his story to gain attention. But he captured the trust of Paul, who should thereafter be seen as a person who needs little evidence to believe in very improbable things.
Follow this link to #2601