(2601) Christian failsafes

One of the major reasons why Christianity succeeded is that it set up a system of failsafes to ensure that whatever happened, it would be a sign confirming its truth. In essence, with respect to competing religions, it established a game of ‘heads, I win, tails, you lose.’ The following was taken from:


Christianity guarantees itself longevity by setting up the idea that when the religion appears to be failing, it’s actually thriving. It’s a common theme – one that has no doubt helped it stick around.

If people don’t want to hear you tell them horrible things – that’s because Jesus said they wouldn’t want to hear.

If people get angry at you for telling them about the Bible – that because Jesus predicted many would hate you for his name’s sake.

If Christianity begins losing influence, it’s because Jesus promised a great falling away.

If fewer and fewer people are convinced of the truth of Christianity, it’s because Jesus said few would find it.

If Church X preaches something different to your church, it’s because Jesus said many would say “Lord Lord” but not True Christians ™ (like you.)

The Biblical writers expertly sprinkled failsafes all throughout their writings to make sure that in Christianity, when you win you win, and when you lose, you win. This is an ingenious way to guard against natural doubt and an eventual loss of Christian influence, because that loss of influence just “proves” that the Bible was true after all!

If I told you I was a soothsayer, and the proof of me being a soothsayer was that I predicted you wouldn’t believe that I was a soothsayer, there would be absolutely no way you could prove I wasn’t a soothsayer, because every objection to the claim I was a soothsayer would only serve as “evidence” that I was telling the truth about being a soothsayer.

So, if Christian faith surges, it’s evidence for the truth of Christianity. Likewise, if Christian faith wanes, it’s also a sign that Christianity is true. If good things happen to you, it’s shows that you are in God’s favor. If bad things happen, God is testing you. There simply isn’t anything that can happen that falsifies a belief in the faith. This in science is termed a non-falsifiable hypothesis, which is scorned as being an ineffective path to the truth.

(2602) A real god wouldn’t condemn homosexuality

The condemnation of homosexuality is a product of human ignorance and prejudice, but it isn’t something that an omniscient, omnibenevolent god would espouse.  This fact alone lets us know that the god of the Bible does not exist. The following was taken from:


Of course, this argument only applies to Christians that believe in standards of morality, instead of those who believe right and wrong are simply whatever God decides at the time. Because in the latter case, morality means nothing and it’s really just a case of “might makes right”.

Most of the moral codes from Christianity (that are still considered relevant today) can really boil down to the Golden Rule.

You don’t steal because you don’t want others to steal from you. You don’t kill because you don’t want others to kill you. You don’t cheat because you don’t want your spouse to cheat on you, and so on and so forth.

But this cannot apply to homosexuality. Being gay or lesbian doesn’t inherently hurt anyone else. If you ask a Christian who believes that homosexuality is “wrong” their main argument is that “God doesn’t like it”. See my first statement.

Every other argument holds no truth:

1) It’s not “unnatural”, homosexuality existed for thousands of years in other cultures that didn’t stigmatize it, and even exists in many other species.

2) It does not harm children, not only have studies shown that children do just as well in homosexual families, that actually do better on average when you’re not controlling for economic status. Which you absolutely should since Homosexuals can’t have children on their own and thus have to adopt, which they must prove that they have the ability to properly take care of their children first. Heterosexual couples can usually just make one, regardless of whether or not they are prepared.

3) Saying that homosexuals are more susceptible to disease doesn’t make it immoral. You’re more susceptible to disease if you eat pork, thereby is bacon immoral? There are scripture that says it is too.

Because of this, an omnibenevolent deity, which is defined as someone who is unlimitedly good or benevolent, wouldn’t cause unnecessary harm by arbitrarily demonizing something that someone really has no control over.

It is likely that a religion developed by humans would marginalize minority conditions and behaviors, such as homosexuality, left-handedness, and deformed genitals. But a true god would not. Christianity missed a chance to showcase their god as transcending human prejudices, but rather it placed him in the same company as the people who invented him.

(2603) God the incompetent CEO

Imagine a chief operating officer (CEO) of a major corporation. He has 100 vice presidents that work in various places, overseeing employees from all around the world.  He has a set of guidelines and rules that he wishes all of his employees will follow, but, on taking a survey, he realizes that only about 35 of his vice presidents are promulgating these tenets. The others are promoting different and often contradictory messages to their employees. What would a competent CEO do in this situation?

The Christian god, if assumed to exist, is effectively the CEO of Planet Earth. His vice presidents are all of the world’s religious leaders.  Out of every 100 such leaders, only about 35 are advancing Christian doctrine, and even then, many of them are in disagreement with each other. The other 65 are putting out messages that are just flat out completely wrong. If God was a competent CEO, he would not tolerate such a mess and would do something to fix it. There can be no upside to allowing such confusion to persist.

But a god with powers as described by Christianity could not be that incompetent. He would be an exemplary ‘CEO’. And for that reason alone, we know that he does not exist.

(2604) Early reports of resurrection were not convincing

We know from historical data that few Jewish adherents in Jerusalem converted to Christianity after the alleged resurrection of Jesus. This despite what would have been an astounding number (500+) of people who had seen him after he had died, and presumably most of these witnesses would have talked about this miracle with enthusiasm for weeks thereafter. Previously, we also noted that it didn’t seem to alarm the Roman authorities to cause them to attempt to round up Jesus for a second visit to the cross.

But even more pertinent, the reports of Jesus’ resurrection did not cause Paul to convert to Christianity. For several years afterward, not only did he not become a Christian, but he, according to his own words, persecuted them, and, in fact, was on his way to Damascus (now Syria) to arrest some Christians when he had his life-changing vision. So the question is why did Paul not believe the eyewitness accounts that he must have been hearing for the previous three or so years?

This brings up three points. First, how could the plethora of people who had seen Jesus be so unconvincing to their neighbors when there was plenty of corroboration from so many others, i.e., it could not have been thought to be an hallucination. Second, how can people today be judged for disbelieving based on evidence inferior to that Paul had received and yet for years continued to disbelieve?Third, why do people today not merit a similar visitation? Needless to say, these facts are best explained by the theory that there was no actual resurrection.

(2605) The jelly bean analogy

In the following discussion, an analogy is presented to determine the likelihood of God’s existence that is based on inductive reasoning- analyzing a collection of observations and facts and then working backward to determine the initial state that best explains those same observations and facts. In this case, the initial states are a universe with a god or without one. For the purposes of this discussion, the god is assumed to be the Christian god to the exclusion of all others. The following was taken from:


The Argument from Jelly Beans

This post is heavily inspired by Paul Draper’s “Case for Naturalism” from his debate with William Lane Craig, and by Jeffery Jay Lowder’s extension of it in his debate with Frank Turek. The following is a modification of Draper’s analogy.

Imagine you have two giant jars of jelly beans. The red jar has almost all red beans, with a few blue and few yellow. The blue jar has almost all blue beans, with a few red and few yellow. (See this image.) Now the power goes out, and as you stumble around in the dark, you knock over one of the jars and spill a bunch of beans. You quickly right the jar back up, and go to flip the breaker. When you come back, you see both jars standing there, and you can’t tell which was the one you knocked over. But you can see the beans that spilled on the ground – mostly red, with a few blue and yellow ones mixed in. Which jar did you knock over?

You can’t definitively prove which jar the beans came from. After all, if we pick up one red bean, it could have come from the red jar or the blue jar, since there are red beans in both (and the same is true for blue and yellow beans). Both hypotheses are consistent with the evidence we see. But that does not mean we can’t still be quite confident we knocked over the red jar. Though either is possible, it’s much more likely for a red bean to be on the ground if we knocked over the red jar than it is if we knocked over the blue jar. If we knocked over the blue jar, it would be surprising for there to be so many red beans – not impossible, but surprising. Each red bean on the ground makes us more confident the red jar was the one knocked over, and each blue bean makes us less confident of this (and the yellow ones do not affect our confidence).

So what does this mean for the existence of God? Simple: there are two jars we are considering in this discussion, the jar of atheism and the jar of theism. We don’t get to know which one is the right one, but we do get to look at facts in the world – and each fact is a bean. Red beans are facts that support atheism, blue beans are facts that support theism, and yellow bean are neutral. Our goal is to figure out which jar the beans spilled out of.

So given these facts about soft evidence, what does a jelly bean look like? Simple: a jelly bean is just a fact we observe about the world. Then, we compare two quantities: how surprising is the fact under theism, and how surprising is the fact under atheism. If it is less surprising under one of them, then it supports that one – it has greater likelihood under that one. So our color-coding key is:

If a fact is less surprising under atheism, it is a red bean (evidence for atheism).

If a fact is less surprising under theism, it is a blue bean (evidence for theism).

If a fact is equally surprising under both, it is a yellow bean (not evidence one way or the other).

One easy way to show that a fact is less surprising under a hypothesis is to show that it is necessary. If under theism a fact is necessary, but under atheism a fact is one of multiple ways things could have been, then that fact is less surprising under theism, and supports theism (and vice versa). Note that this doesn’t require the fact to be unlikely under either case – if a fact has a 100% likelihood under atheism, and an 80% likelihood under theism, it is evidence for atheism, despite being quite likely even under theism. This was also the case in the coin analogy above; landing on heads was quite likely under both the “fair” and “trick” hypotheses, but it was necessary under the “trick” hypothesis, so that was the hypothesis it supported.

I list some red and blue jelly beans below. I mainly address the Abrahamic religions and the idea of a powerful, wise, benevolent, loving, personal creator God here, so not every bean will apply to every conception of God; if you have a different conception, you should reevaluate each fact to see whether it is a red, blue, or yellow bean for your view. In order to be able to list as many beans as possible, the beans are heavily summarized and aim only to show that a fact is more likely under one possibility than another, so please forgive some drastic simplification.

Red Jelly Beans

Here is a list of facts which are more likely if God does not exist than if he does exist:

1) The meager moral fruits of theism (from Draper): on the whole, it seems that believers in God are similar to non-believers in how moral they are. The two groups are not identical, but on the whole, they are quite similar.

If God exists, we would expect those who communicate with him or follow his teachings to be significantly more moral than those who don’t, and the fact they are not is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, we would expect to see some local variations in morality due to cultural correlations, but no moral difference overall, which is what we observe.

2) Correspondence of mental & physical states (from Draper): as best as we can tell, mental states are closely correlated to physical states. Destroying parts of the brain destroys parts of the mind, including everything from memory to sensation to personality. While we have yet to prove mental and physical states are identical, it is unquestionable that they are extremely correlated.

If God exists, then there is at least one mind which is not dependent on or correlated with the physical in this way – God’s. Therefore, the fact that all minds we observe seem to have this very close correlation is surprising, since it seems like they would not have to be so, and that an idea like souls would be more expected.

If God doesn’t exist, then this fact is not surprising, as everything else we observe seems closely linked to physical states, so it is unsurprising that mental states do as well.

3) Evolution (from Draper): overwhelming evidence from multiple fields of scientific study have conclusively shown that humans as well as all other life on earth came about from earlier life forms through evolution by natural selection.

If God exists, evolution is surprising, since God could have chosen to create humans via any means. He could have created everything directly, for example, or he could have created all other life through evolution and intervened to make humans directly. The fact that evolution is the process he chose is not impossible, but it is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, then an unguided, trial-and-error process like evolution is exactly the kind of process we would expect to account for the existence of complex life, so it is not surprising.

4) Link between pain and pleasure and reproductive success (from Draper): evidence from biology and psychology has shown that pain and pleasure are extremely linked to reproductive success and seem to be set up in a manner that encourages reproductive success. For example, the act of procreation results in high degrees of pleasure, as does caring for children.

If God exists, this fact is surprising, since God is benevolent and pain is an object with moral relevance. We would expect pain and pleasure to be linked in some way to morality or reward and punishment, and it is surprising that they seem to almost exclusively favor reproductive success even when it is immoral (such as in the case of rape).

If God doesn’t exist, we would expect pain and pleasure to have the same reproduction-oriented biological role that other bodily systems display, like sexual maturation, and no other purpose, so this is not surprising.

5) The abundance of evil (from Draper): the world contains a high amount of suffering and evil that seem to serve no purpose, and whose removal would not impact free will, and that do not serve as a test or a tool for growth for anyone.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we would expect a benevolent, wise, and powerful God to refrain from creating such evil or allowing it to come into being. It is possible there are some reasons beyond our understanding why allowing such evil is a good thing, but it is equally possible there are some reasons beyond our understanding why allowing such evil is an even worse thing than we realize.

If God does not exist, then this is exactly what we would expect, since we would expect tragedy to be distributed with no regard to any higher purpose, and be the result of natural forces.

6) The success of science (from Lowder): science has been extremely successful at explaining the universe without relying on supernatural explanations. Even though science has yet to explain every phenomenon we observe, many times in the history of science, a natural explanation has replaced a supernatural one, but almost never has a supernatural explanation replaced a natural one.

If God exists, then the supernatural necessarily exists, so it is surprising that science has been so successful without taking into account the real existence of the supernatural.

If God does not exist, then it is not surprising that science has been so successful, since it can easily be explained by the fact that the supernatural does not exist.

7) The existence of neurological moral handicaps (from Lowder): many neurological disorders cause people to have moral handicaps, such as psychopathy making those it afflicts incapable of experiencing empathy. These neurological moral handicaps make it harder for the afflicted to act morally and make them more likely to cause harm to others, both through no fault of their own or anyone else.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we would expect God to alleviate such handicaps or design humans so as to not be afflicted by them, both for the purposes of reducing suffering and for the purposes of fairly testing humans if he engages in such tests.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we’d expect, since there is no reason to think brains and minds would not sometimes be malformed just like any other biological system.

8) The multiplicity and inconsistency of religions: there are many religions in the world, all of which have large amounts of sincere, devout believers. These religions are mutually exclusive in many regards; for example, Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, while Christianity encourages drinking wine in the Eucharist.

If God exists, this fact is surprising, since we would expect a God that cares enough to establish a religion to also care about distinguishing his religion as the right one. The fact that, even upon an honest attempt to find the right path, many people still reach different conclusions is therefore surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, we would expect to see a multiplicity of religions that contradict each other, since none of them would be right.

9) Ineffectiveness of prayer: large-scale studies of prayer have shown that it does not have an effect on external outcomes, or at least that the effect is very small or disappears under scrutiny. While prayer can have positive effects for the one praying, praying for external outcomes like for a stranger’s health to improve seems to have no effect.

If God exists, this fact is surprising, since we would expect prayer to have at least some chance to be success. There may be explanations for the failure of these prayers, for example that God does not like to be tested, but it is at least plausible that prayer would work if God exists, so it is somewhat surprising when it does not.

If God doesn’t exist, then this is exactly what we’d expect, since prayer would not be contacting any supernatural entity, and would only have placebic benefits.

10) Transmittance of religious truth through mundane means: all religions transmit and receive their ideas through mundane means, such as human mouthpieces of God or sacred texts; these means can be and are equally employed by contradictory religions and by non-religious false claims.

If God exists, this is surprising, since God could transmit religious truth through any means of his choosing, such as telepathy, writing it on the moon, or making every human be born with it innately. The fact that he chooses means identical to those that human-created claims use is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, then religious truth is mundane in origin, so this is what we would expect.

11) Absence of effective prophecy: all religious prophecies do not meet the criteria for successfully demonstrating foreknowledge, and are similar in efficacy to prophecies from contradictory faiths or from non-religious sources like secular astrology or fortune-telling. It is possible to make much more effective prophecies, but religions do not do this.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we would expect prophecies from God to have no reason to be similar to prophecies from false sources. It is possible that God chooses to only issue vague or unfalsifiable prophecies, but it is surprising.

If God does not exist, then this is exactly what we’d expect, since prophecies from religious sources would be no different from any other prophecy in their accuracy or source.

12) The existence of superfluous elements of the universe unrelated to human life: the vast majority of the universe is completely non-beneficial for and unrelated to human life. Most of the universe is empty space, and most matter in the universe is in vast dust clouds or extremely distant stars. The same is true for the earth; the majority of the surface of the earth is covered by uninhabitable ocean, and the rest was uninhabitable until the development of human technology like clothing and food preservation.

If God exists, we would expect the universe to be designed with human life as a primary goal, so the fact that most of it is utterly unrelated to human life is surprising. It is possible that there are reasons we don’t yet understand for why these other things are necessary for human life, but it is equally possible there are reasons we don’t yet understand why things we think are necessary for human life aren’t.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we would expect, since we would not expect the universe to be designed with any attention paid to human life.

13) The moral obsoletion of religious texts: most religious texts (and all Abrahamic religious texts) contain moral guidelines of purported divine origin, but also contain things now widely considered to be immoral, including positive or neutral depictions of slavery, genocide, sexism, etc.

If God exists, this is surprising since we would expect a God-given morality to be correct and not be rendered obsolete by the passage of time. It is possible that the immoral aspects of the texts have other explanations, such as their introduction by fallible humans or as some part of God’s plan, but it is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we would expect, since the moralities of religions would be determined mostly by the prevailing moralities of their human authors at the time they were written.

14) Scientific inaccuracies in religious texts: most religious texts (and all Abrahamic religious texts) contain significant scientific inaccuracies consistent with the period they were written, and none contain explicit scientific understanding beyond their time.

If God exists, this is surprising since we would expect God to know scientific facts not yet discovered, and it is surprising for text with a divine source to contain errors that match the time. It is possible these errors were introduced by human authors or as some part of God’s plan, but it is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we would expect, since these texts are not connected to any supernatural source, so they are plagued by the scientific misconceptions of their time and authors.

15) Failure of creation myths: creation myths are important to most religions, and many religions place great importance on answering the question of where the universe came from. However, all religious creation myths have failed to match scientific observations and our best theories for the universe’s origin.

If God exists, this is surprising since we would expect God to know how the universe was created, and expect that if he chose to communicate how it was created that he would not communicate common falsehoods. It is possible these errors were introduced by human authors or as some part of God’s plan, but it is surprising.

If God does not exist, this is exactly what we would expect, since these texts are not connected to any supernatural source, so they have no special knowledge of the origin of the universe.

16) Longevity of the universe: modern cosmology indicates that we are at a somewhat standard time in cosmological history, and that universal events are not wrapping up. Best estimates say the universe will last around 10^100 more years before heat death, and even if they are revised, it is clear universal happenings are not heading towards a major change anytime in the next several billion years. (This bean does not apply to religions without end times predictions.)

If God exists, this is surprising, since many religions predict an end times event in the near future, on the scale of far less than a billion years. It therefore seems surprising that the universe acts exactly as if it is not coming to an end, and that there are processes in it which will be in progress or not yet started when the end times occurs.

If God doesn’t exist, this is not surprising, because there is no near-future end times.

17) Existence of pain in animals: although we can’t tell exactly whether animals subjectively experience pain, animals have mechanisms of pain nearly identical to the one that we do, despite it serving no moral purpose for them.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we would expect our mechanisms of pain to serve a moral purpose, and hence for them to be completely dissimilar to a mechanism of pain used by animals which are not being morally judged by God and which are not expected to act morally.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we’d expect, since our mechanisms of pain would have come from those of the animals we are descended from and serve no special moral purpose.

18) Hiddenness of God: God seems to be hidden, at least to nonbelievers. We can’t see or talk to him, he doesn’t personally reach out to us, and genuine attempts to confirm his existence are met with mixed success at best. Though some claim God is plain for all to see, he clearly isn’t as plain as he could be; for example, he is not as plain as the sun, since uncontacted tribes have no ideas of God that are anything like ours, but describe the appearance of the sun just as we do.

If God exists, this is surprising, since while God could have wanted to be hidden, he could have also wanted to be obvious, so the fact he is so well hidden is at least somewhat surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we would expect, since there would be no God to find, so he would appear hidden.

19) The rarity and unconfirmability of miracles: miracle claims are prevalent in many religions, but miracles are few and far between, and usually occur in the distant past or are otherwise unconfirmable. Miracles that occur under circumstances that allow scrutiny end up being found to have mundane causes when fully investigated.

If God exists, this is surprising, since he could choose to perform miracles much more often, or to perform them in a much more spectacular and confirmable fashion, so the fact he doesn’t is at least somewhat surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we’d expect, since there are no real miracles, only things which appear to be miracles until properly investigated.

20) Genealogy of religions: all religions whose origins we can investigate seem to be connected to and to some extent derived from earlier religions. For example, many religions contain ideas like flood myths, virgin birth, etc. which are also found in more ancient religions with contradictory beliefs.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we would expect divine texts to come from God instead of from earlier inconsistent religions. It is possible these myths were borrowed as storytelling devices or were somehow part of God’s plan, but it is at least somewhat surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we’d expect, since there would be no true religion that would have a non-human source of myth.

21) Recent origins of modern religion: all religions present today seem to have not existed in anything resembling their modern forms for most of human history. Humans are estimated to have become behaviorally modern around 50,000 years ago, but as best we can tell all modern religions and religious texts are no more than a few thousand years old (though some have been influenced by much older religions). This is especially true for monotheistic religions.

If God exists, this is surprising, since we wouldn’t have any reason to expect the current time in history to be close to the date of God founding the true religion. If anything, we would expect it to be in the very distant past, since otherwise many humans would live and die before God communicated the true religion.

If God doesn’t exist, this isn’t surprising, since we would expect people to hold beliefs created closer to modern times more.

22) Existence of the unlearned: for every single religion, there are many millions of people today and in the past that have never heard of it.

If God exists, this is surprising, since if God found religion important enough for some humans to hear, we would expect him to want all humans to hear of it, not just some that happen to be geographically and temporally clustered. It is possible he did not, but it is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is exactly what we’d expect, since just like with any other belief or idea some people will have never heard of it.

23) The extreme importance of belief to God: almost all religions emphasize the extreme importance of believing them to be true, and many state that reward and punishment both in this life and the next largely or entirely depend on belief in God.

If God exists, this is surprising, since it is clearly plausible that God does not care about belief in him. In fact, some sects hold this view, and many sects hold that the unlearned (those who never hear of the correct religion) are not judged based on their belief. So the fact that God cares so much about belief in him is surprising.

If God doesn’t exist, this is not surprising, since emphasis on belief and rewards or punishments for belief would be predictable features religions would use to strengthen themselves and bolster the faith of their believers, just as non-religious groups do.

24) Religious demand for faith: many religions ask believers to believe on faith, that is, to believe not solely based on evidence or reasoning but based on complete trust. Many religions also ask that this faith be primary, and that belief based on evidence be secondary.

If God exists, this is somewhat surprising, since God could have easily chosen not to ask for faith from believers, and to ask them to believe only based on evidence or reason.

If God doesn’t exist, this is not surprising, since it would be a common tactic to discourage dissent or disbelief and to rebuff evidence against religions, similar to techniques used by non-religious groups.

Blue Jelly Beans

Here is a list of facts which are more likely if God does exist than if he doesn’t:

1) Extreme prevalence of religion: religion is extremely widespread in the world, and as far as we can tell, some form of religion has always been widespread, even though it was quite different from the monotheistic conception we have today.

If God exists, this is what we’d expect, since the real existence of the supernatural would lead to religions forming even if they were not accurate in all their beliefs.

If God does not exist, this fact is somewhat surprising, since it seems possible that religion would have been a niche belief or would have petered out. The fact that humans are so prone to false religious belief, while explainable, is somewhat surprising.

2) Existence of intelligent life: humans exist and are intelligent.

If God exists, this is what we’d expect, since God is interested in creating intelligent life.

If God doesn’t exist, this is surprising, since it seems evolution didn’t have to result in humans or any other intelligent life, as evidenced by the lack of intelligent life comparable to humans in the previous 4 billion years of evolution. While this is explainable (e.g. via the anthropic principle), it is at least somewhat more surprising on this view.

3) Near death experiences: many people that come close to death report vivid supernatural experiences, including experiences of afterlives such as heaven and hell. These experiences are not universal and often contradict each other.

If God exists, this is what we’d expect, since an afterlife existing might cause these sorts of experiences to occur.

If God does not exist, this fact is surprising, since although it is explainable under naturalistic mechanisms, it did not have to come about that people could have near death experiences, so the fact that things happen to work out so as to create them is surprising.


I want to make it clear that the number of beans, by itself, does not indicate anything. Rather, we should take into account how compelling each bean is (based on likelihood as described above), in addition to the number of beans. That said, even with this taken into account, the red beans seem to far outweigh the blue. The fact that so many features of religion and the universe are exactly what we expect to find in a world with no God, and the fact that any proposed ‘true’ religion looks so very similar to many false religions, together make attempts at explaining away these things little more than wishful thinking. Hence, I believe the argument from jelly beans presents a compelling cumulative case for atheism.

This exercise shows that it is near certain that we live in a universe that does not contain a god as described by Christianity. This in no way excludes the concept of a deist god or similar that is not omniscient nor intervenes in human affairs.

(2606) Biblical attitude to incest

It is evident that the people who wrote the Bible were not fully aware of the genetic hazards presented by incest. This is surprising if an omniscient god was guiding the creation of scripture. The following was taken from:


Much of the Old Testament is also remarkably tolerant of incest. Most of the key characters in the scriptures were credited with having participated. Among them were

  • Adam and his family;
  • Noah and his family;
  • Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38);
  • Abraham with Sarah his half-sister (Genesis 20:12);
  • Judah, with his daughter-in-law Tamar, innocently thinking she was a prostitute (Genesis 38:6ff); and
  • Amnon who raped his half-sister (another Tamar — 2 Samuel 13:1-20).

According to Deuteronomy 2:9 and 2:19, God gave the Moabites and the Ammonites special protection because they were descended from incestuous couplings — that of Lot and his daughters. Normal earthly taboos do not seem to apply in Heaven. According to many Christians, Mary is the bride of Christ as well as his mother.

This can be seen as a missed opportunity for scripture to have revealed a scientific insight before it was discovered by humans. If the Bible had forcefully and consistently condemned incest and explained at least in part why it was doing so, it would have given much credence to idea that it was divinely inspired. But, as with practically everything, it  seems to reflect  solely the attitudes and knowledge of the mortal men who wrote it.

(2607) Christian magic was a product of its time

Christianity contains a lot of magical ideas and historical claims that run counter to what people today experience in real life. When viewed in the context of the times, it can be seen that it simply borrowed or embellished on the magical themes that existed within neighboring cultures. The following was taken from:


Prayer itself is magical thinking, as I indicated earlier: somehow human thoughts influence the gods. Is there any difference between prayer and incantation?

We have learned so much about the context in which Christian arose. Again, Conner’s insights:

“Reading across the ever-expanding literature on ancient magical arts it’s clear that Jewish magical folklore, based in large part on Babylonian and Canaanite folklore, forms the basis of Christian magical folklore, which in turn incorporates elements of Greco-Egyptian magical belief.

“Comparing the gospels with similar material from contemporaneous Mediterranean cultures, the distinction between prayer and incantation, miracle and magic, dissipates like an early morning fog” (p. 461).

There are favorite miracles that Christians are sure confirm their faith:

• A woman is cured of a 12-year flow of blood by touching Jesus’ garment.
• A man who was blind from birth is cured when Jesus makes mud with his saliva and smears it on his eyes.
• A paralytic was able to get up and walk because Jesus forgave his sins.
• Jesus performs a voice-activated resurrection in John 11: he raises Lazarus by saying, “Come out!”
• Peter’s shadow heals people (Act 5).
• People are healed when touched by Paul’s handkerchief or apron (Acts 19).

What are the chances? That, yes, these things happened and deserve belief? Or that these are elements borrowed from folklore? Conner offers important perspective:

“During the late 19th century various magical papyri collected by antiquarians were published, and in 1928 and 1931 Preisendanz issued the first edition of his well-known two-volume collection of the papyri, Papyri Graecea Magicae, a trove of documents that opened a window on the religio-magical lore of Jesus’ era.

“That Jesus conformed in both word and deed to the magical praxis of his day became increasingly well recognized.

“Book length examinations of the evidence for magic in the New Testament followed. John Hull’s classic, Hellenistic Magic and the Synoptic Tradition…appeared in 1974, followed in 1978 by Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician, a work aimed at a general readership and still in print, a book that earned its author the everlasting animus of biblical literalists” (p. 458).

If Christianity was originating today, the miraculous claims would be of a different genre, perhaps something like a sudden remission of cancer, a fortuitous coincidental occurrence, an inexplicable recovery from mental illness, a coma-stricken person waking up- in other words, things that would be seen as beyond normal but still within the realm of possibility. Walking on water, changing water into wine, or raising a four-day old corpse would not fit in that bin.

(2608) Selflessness edict ruined

The Bible contains some nuggets of inspiration, but it fails in many areas to achieve that goal. One example is the following scripture from the Gospel of Matthew. Not only is it a message rarely followed by Christians, but it also defaults on its central theme:

Matthew 6:2-4

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Jesus is trying to get across the idea that you should do good deeds not for any reward that you might receive, but strictly for the good that is being delivered to others.  If the final sentence above had been left off, all would be fine. But Jesus then destroys his message of selflessness by implying that you are doing good in order to obtain a reward from the ‘Father.’

(2609) Arguments for God disqualify Yahweh

There is a disconnect between the techniques that apologists use to demonstrate the existence of God and the  scriptural description of the Jewish-Christian god, Yahweh. In fact, by proving the existence of a timeless, changeless, all-powerful god, these academicians have unwittingly disqualified Yahweh as being that god. The following essay explains why this is true:


There’s a common exchange that goes like this:

Christian: makes cosmological argument, or ontological argument, or some other such argument

Interlocutor: okay, but even if that argument succeeds, you still haven’t demonstrated the existence of your god, only the existence of God.

Christian: sure, but once we’ve established the existence of God, we can go further to figure out which god.

I think this is entirely wrongheaded on all sides, because the existence of ‘God’ as he is generally presented in apologetic arguments is an entirely separate question from the existence of Yahweh, the Biblical deity. Let me try to explain:

The definition of God as usually presented by Christian apologists is something wholly other. He doesn’t have emotions the way humans do, because he is changeless, being extra-temporal (though he might be described as having emotions, allegorically). He doesn’t have a body, he is incorporeal (all talk of God’s ‘hands’ or ‘face’ are likewise allegorical). He does not have a spatial location, he is transcendent, outside of space and time (‘God’s throne’ is allegorical). He cannot learn or change his mind the way we do, he is omniscient. He cannot be limited, he is omnipotent. He does not have “parts”, he is indivisible (I suppose the last one is a little more controversial).

Now look at Yahweh, not God as defined by Aristotle or Aquinas or Maimonides (or William Lane Craig for that matter), but the nitty gritty god of the ancient Hebrews.

He has nothing in common with God as he has been defined.

For starters, Yahweh is not incorporeal. He has a body, like every other god of the Ancient Near East. An excellent read on this is the Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel by Jewish Old Testament scholar Benjamin Sommer. The whole book is worth reading, but the thesis is summed up at the very start:

The God of the Hebrew Bible has a body…the evidence for this simple thesis is overwhelming, so much so that asserting the carnal nature of the Biblical God should not occasion surprise.

You are no doubt familiar with the many verses referring to God’s face, or God’s hand, or God’s throne, or God being in a particular place at a particular time (the tabernacle, the temple, or heaven itself).

Often, modern readers armed with the anachronistic presupposition of an immaterial deity take these to be metaphor or “anthropomorphization” meant to better convey the (immaterial, eternal, etc.) reality of God to a simple people.

Sommer answers these objections thus:

Did these ancient authors mean precisely what they said, or did they use anthropomorphic language for some other reason – for example, because they were attempting to appeal to an unsophisticated audience, because they used physical terms to describe something nonphysical that was otherwise difficult to explain…in the absence of any statements telling us that these many verses are mere figures of speech, I think that a likely answer must be that the ancients who talk about God’s body really do think God has a body.

This is not even especially controversial in Biblical scholarship. The notion of an immaterial, incorporeal deity is alien to the Hebrew Bible, and indeed to pretty much all ancient peoples of that time and region. It must be imported into the text by readers whose conception of the divine is more in line with the classical Greeks and later medieval theologians than with the people who actually produced these scriptures.

This alone is enough to demonstrate that Yahweh is not God—a being that has a body, and therefore exists within space and time cannot be the timeless, incorporeal creator of the universe. This also knocks down the idea of divine simplicity—a being with body parts is divisible, by definition. In fact, I think, he is much more likely to be crude myth created by men with little understanding of the universe’s workings.

Moving on—

Yahweh does not only have a body like a man, he thinks like one, too.

He is not omniscient and is not (or, qualifying, probably not) portrayed as such. From William Propp’s commentary on Exodus:

The Israelites, like other ancient Near Easterners, were not given to self-conscious theologizing. They never formulated explicit doctrines of divine omniscience and omnipotence (Levenson 1988). In 2:23b-25, God perceives Israel’s plight with his senses, which in turn prompt his memory. We are tempted to ask the blasphemous question “Has God forgotten?”

Yahweh “remembers” his covenant with Israel here. Elsewhere, he “regrets” creating man, thus prompting the deluge. He haggles with Abraham. He famously has his mind changed by Moses on Mount Sinai, to name just a few instances of his very human thought processes.

One may protest ‘anthropomorphization’ here, too, but with little support. The far more parsimonious explanation for this portrayal is that the Biblical authors meant what they said; Yahweh remembered things, changed his mind on things, and regretted things.

A god, like the Olympians or the Baals, may be so fickle, but God may not.

Besides being corporeal and less-than-omniscient, Yahweh was believed—again, as expected for divinities of the ANE—to have spatial location (or more than one spatial location, sometimes). I don’t think I have to rattle off the hundreds of verses that refer to Yahweh as “enthroned in the heavens” and the like.

Modern people often give little thought to the association of the skies with the abode of divine beings, and probably don’t much wonder why the stereotypical image of heaven is that of fluffy white clouds.

The reason, of course, is that the ancients believed ‘heaven’ and ‘the sky’ were literally the same thing. They are the same word in many languages (including Hebrew). The authors of the Bible, like all their neighbors, believed their gods quite literally lived in the heavens. Yahweh is “up there” and can come “down here”.

The entire Old Testament is a testament to this exceedingly primitive portrait of the divine.

Its whole story of divine interaction with humans (wherein gods react to human action and punish or reward accordingly or are angered or displeased by human action) is a refutation of the idea that Yahweh is a being at all congruent with our understanding of God. He is not changeless or timeless but is eminently subject to shifts in mood and intention based on the antics of human beings. He is, for a god, extremely human.

In short, Yahweh is precisely the kind of deity we would expect the Hebrews, being an ancient Levantine/Mediterranean people, to worship. He belongs in a class with Melqart, El, Chemosh, Asherah, and the like, not with “absolutes” or “necessary beings.” He is not some ‘ground of being,’ but another monarch in the sky, in the recognizable ancient mid-eastern mold.

This being the case, all apologetic arguments utilized by Abrahamic believers that rely on a definition of their deity as “the absolute” or “the necessarily existent” and define him as incorporeal, timeless, indivisible, etc. are non-starters.

If you succeed in demonstrating the existence of the God of classical theism, or any God with the traits listed at the beginning of this post, you have not actually done any work in demonstrating the existence of Yahweh, because that’s not the sort of being Yahweh is. Yahweh is like Zeus or Baal—a god, not God.

To argue for and against the existence of God, we may have to resort to all kinds of philosophical discussion. To argue for and against the existence of Yahweh is more like arguing for and against the existence of Jupiter, and much more easily resolved. We can just go check for him in his sky palace. He’s not there. Case closed.

The expansion of science and knowledge forced Christian apologists to relocate and recast their god in ever more amorphous ways such that what is left has little resemblance to the god Yahweh as described in the Bible. It’s a little like someone claiming that ghosts can’t be seen or heard, thereby negating the millions of ghost stories that have been told over time. There is a mismatch between what has been previously claimed and what is now being asserted. Yahweh is not the god of the apologists- they are effectively making up a new religion.

(2610) If Science worked like religion

Christians claim that God communicates with humankind, through the Bible and through prayer. But there are problems with both of these methods. The Bible is static and, by decree, cannot be added to or subtracted from, so, even in a changing world, its messaging does not adjust to the times. Prayer, although happening in real time, is not consistent. Unlike a Bible verse, no prayer message will ever be considered authentic by all Christians.

Imagine if science worked this way. The old treatises are considered inviolable and scientists claimed that they were receiving direct (and conflicting) messaging from the divine. If that was the case, science would become a static and increasingly irrelevant enterprise. The following was taken from:


God of Physics, Sir Isaac Newton proposed 3 laws in his holy book, the laws turned out to be the base for the mighty building of physics. Now as the time passed, some physicists started finding flaws in the laws and said that they are limited to certain conditions. Believers of Newton warned them to stay shut cause their scientific sentiments were being hurt and as these holy laws were published centuries ago by the God Newton himself, they could never be wrong. State passed laws against those physicists, even persecuted some of them.

In actuality, science did work in this fashion during the Middle Ages when it was under the thumb of religious authorities. Had this continued to today, we would be far less advanced. Religion is like a mountain. Science is like an automobile that travels from mountain to mountain.

(2611) Why Bible miracles should be dismissed

Imagine Christianity without any miracle claims. Would it have the same impact? Likely not. But using simple tools of logic, it can be reasoned that none of the miracles in the Bible should be taken at face value, and, in fact, there are good reasons to dismiss them out of hand. The following was taken from:


Just consider whether pigs can fly of their own power. When it comes to flying pigs we have no objective evidence to verify that any of them has ever flown of their own power. For a pig cannot fly of its own power, given the nature of a pig. It’s too heavy, plus it doesn’t have wings, or jet propulsion capabilities. You can name a bird “Piggy” and that animal can fly, but this isn’t the animal I’m referring to.

Such a claim is actually taken seriously in the Bible, for in it we find a talking snake and donkey. We also have a world-wide flood, an axe head that floated on water, a raging fire that didn’t burn three men to death, three people who levitated, two of whom were dead, and more, claims which have no objective evidence for them, at all, and should be dismissed outright as mythical.

These are some of the many unevidenced miracle claims in the Bible that we can legitimately and rationally dismiss, even if there is a god. But what about others? What about a virgin birthed deity? Just ask for the objective evidence. You don’t need to do anything until that evidence is presented. Until then it should be dismissed out of hand.

The fact is, there is no objective evidence to corroborate Mary’s story. We hear nothing about her wearing a misogynistic chastity belt to prove her virginity. No one checked for an intact hymen before she gave birth. After Jesus was born Maury Povich wasn’t there with a DNA test to verify Joseph was not the baby daddy. We don’t even have firsthand testimonial evidence for it, since the story is related to us by others, not Mary, or Joseph. At best, all we have is the second-hand testimony reported in just two anonymous gospels by one person, Mary, or two if we include Joseph who was incredulously convinced Mary was a virgin because of a dream, yes, a dream (see Matthew 1:19–24).

We never get to independently cross-examine them, along with the people who knew them, which we would want to do, since they may have a very good reason for lying (pregnancy out of wedlock?).

Now one might simply trust the anonymous gospel writer(s) who wrote this miraculous tale down, but why? How is it possible they could find out that a virgin named Mary gave birth to a deity? No reasonable investigation could take Mary and/or Joseph’s word for it. With regard to Joseph’s dream, Thomas Hobbes tell us, “For a man to say God hath spoken to him in a Dream, is no more than to say he dreamed that God spake to him; which is not of force to win belief from any man.” [Leviathan, chap. 32.6] So it’s down to Mary. Why should we believe her?

On this fact Christian believers are faced with a serious dilemma to their faith. For if this is the kind of research that went into writing the gospels, by taking Mary’s word and Joseph’s dream as evidence, we shouldn’t believe anything else they say without corroborating objective evidence.

What about the resurrection of Jesus? Why do people treat that miracle any differently than levitating saints or virgin birthed deities? The resurrection tale is reported in the same gospels that record the virgin birth of a deity, so if the one is to be dismissed because it’s unevidenced, so should the other. Are you catching on yet?

Keep in mind we’re talking about miracle claims from an era that Richard Carrier described in essay titled, “Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire: A Look into the World of the Gospels.” He concludes,

The age of Jesus was not an age of critical reflection and remarkable religious acumen. It was an era filled with con artists, gullible believers, martyrs without a cause, and reputed miracles of every variety. In light of this picture, the tales of the Gospels do not seem very remarkable. Even if they were false in every detail, there is no evidence that they would have been disbelieved or rejected as absurd by many people, who at the time had little in the way of education or critical thinking skills. They had no newspapers, telephones, photographs, or public documents to consult to check a story. If they were not a witness, all they had was a man’s word. And even if they were a witness, the tales tell us that even then their skills of critical reflection were lacking.

What we find exclusively on behalf of miracles in the Bible is human testimony, ancient pre-scientific superstitious human testimony, second- third- fourth-handed human testimony, conflicting human testimony filtered by editors, redactors, and shaped by early Christian debates for decades and/or centuries in the ancient pre-scientific world, where miracle claims were abundant without the means to discredit them. What we don’t find is any relevant objective evidence for any of them. Therefore if we want to be reasonable we should be honest. We should dismiss them all out of hand.

In biblical times, miraculous stories were accepted without a need for corroborating evidence.  But in today’s world, any claim of a miracle will be vigorously checked for veracity. To date, none has survived this vetting process. This is why it would have been virtually impossible for Christianity to originate and succeed in modern times. It would be immediately smothered by an onslaught of objective counter-evidence.

(2612) Establishing belief thresholds

In the following essay, John Loftus explains the degree of evidence needed to establish belief for three general types of claims and why Bible miracles do not come even close to meeting that metric:


In my anthology “The Case against Miracles” I wrote the chapter “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” There I describe three types of claims about the objective world and the evidence needed to accept them.

1) Ordinary claims require only a small amount of fair evidence. These are claims about events that take place regularly every day, and as such, require only the testimonial evidence of someone who is trustworthy under normal circumstances. If a trustworthy woman tells us she saw a car accident on Main Street, we would believe her. If a trustworthy man tells us he just talked to his mother on the phone we would believe him. There’s no reason not to.

2) Extraordinary claims are about events that are extremely unusual, within the world of nature, and require a relatively large amount of solid objective evidence, depending on how extraordinary the claim is. If someone claimed he sank 18 hole-in-ones in a row on a standard golf course, we would simply scoff at him. Testimonial evidence alone is almost always insufficient for establishing an extraordinary claim like that. We need extraordinary levels of objective evidence to believe him.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which entails sufficient corroborating objective evidence commensurate with the nature of the extraordinary claim. That means sufficient objective evidence should be sufficient, regardless of whether it’s a large amount of good evidence or a small amount of very strong evidence.

3) Miraculous claims are the highest kind of extraordinary claims. A miracle is an event impossible to occur by natural processes alone. They’re events which involve the interfering, or suspension, or transgressing, or breaching, or contravening, or violating of natural law. So if we could not believe someone’s testimony who claimed to have made 18 hole-in-ones in a row on a standard golf course, we could not believe him a hundred times over if he said he flew of his own power from hole to hole. In the case of miracle claims, reasonable people need a boat load of solid objective evidence before accepting them.

David Hume said it this way:

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish.

For Hume, no amount of human testimony is able overcome the overwhelming evidence of the known laws of nature that the world doesn’t act in miraculous ways. Human testimony to a miracle cannot begin to overcome the extremely strong evidence that no scientist has ever conducted an experiment under strict laboratory conditions, who received different results than other scientists who conducted the same exact experiment under the same exact conditions. Reasonable people need a lot of solid objective evidence to overcome our firm scientific conviction that the world operates according to regular patterns, described by laws, and human testimony is insufficient for the task.

The only testimonies that might have some glimmer of hope in establishing a miracle are hypothetically imagined scenarios by the philosophers. But even in these best imagined cases the testimonies can only equal the overwhelming evidence that the natural operation of the world is uniform and constant. So at its best, under the best of scenarios, human testimony cannot establish a miracle.

The significant point is that, despite imagined hypotheticals, we never find any concrete examples of testimonial evidence that come remotely close to establishing a miracle. Hume concludes:

Therefore we may establish it as a maxim, that no human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle, and make it a just foundation for any such system of religion.

That human testimony to miracles is fallible is known with a great deal of assurance. They are insufficient because people typically misperceive, misunderstand, and misrepresent what they thought they saw mostly due to a whole host of cognitive biases. Confirmation bias is probably the mother of all biases, for it permits people to see objective evidence where there isn’t any, and permits believers to find their faith is strengthened under attack, after listening to good arguments like I’m now making right now. Sometimes people lie about miracles to defraud others. A forensic television show I watch had a character say, “The evidence doesn’t lie. People do.”

Establishing miracles requires a sufficient amount of solid objective evidence, not mere testimony, and even far less, 2nd 3rd 4th handed hearsay testimony from people who are not eyewitnesses, like what we find in the Bible. Just as hearsay testimony isn’t allowed into a courtroom because we would want to cross-examine any supposed eyewitnesses for accuracy, consistency between other supposed eyewitnesses, and completeness of the story being told. We would especially be interested to know if, like the Mormon “witnesses” of the supposed Golden Plates, any of them recanted. Which they did. We know that of them, but do we know that of any of the original disciples whose 2nd 3rd hand testimonies claimed that they saw the risen Jesus? Most importantly, we would want to know if the supposed eyewitness testimony comports to the evidence. But if there is no objective evidence and only hearsay testimony then there isn’t even a case! Just imagine this scenario in the courtroom. The Judge says, “Present your first eyewitness.” The Prosecutor says “There are no eyewitnesses, we have no witnesses.” Then he says, “Do you have any objective evidence”, and the prosecutor says, “No we don’t have any objective evidence either.” At which point the defense attorney says, “I motion to dismiss this case.”

Christians dismiss the miracles purported by Islam and other religions in a completely nonchalant way, without any lingering doubt that they are all fabricated. In other words, they lose no sleep.  Of course, non-Christians view Christian miracles in the same way. This ‘my miracles are true, your miracles are false’ attitude expresses the human tendency to short-circuit the brain’s critical thinking centers. Once those centers are fully engaged it becomes obvious that no religious miracle has ever happened.

(2613) Science catches up to Jesus

Sometimes it takes 1990 years for a prophecy to come true. Consider the following scripture that tells of Jesus restoring sight to a blind man:

John 9:1-7

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.  As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

Next, observe what Jesus said about his followers doing similar things:

John 14:12

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

For 1990 years, none of Jesus’ followers were able to equal his alleged feat of restoring sight. Until now. But wait, it’s not prayerful Christians who are doing it. It is a very talented scientist. The following was taken from:


A Hungarian researcher has won the Körber Prize for European Science 2020 in Hamburg, Germany, earning him a €1 million ($1.18 million) check in the process.

Botond Roska, who works in the Swiss city of Basel, has uncovered a gene-based therapy that reprograms cells in the human eye so that they can perform the work of the light-sensitive receptors needed for human vision, according to the Körber Foundation that hands out the annual prize. It is hoped the procedure will reactivate the retinas of the blind.

The medical scientist said that, for the time being, the process creates a level of vision similar to watching television in black and white. Clinical tests on blind volunteers are already underway as a result of the Budapest-born researcher’s groundbreaking work.

“Roska’s research has woken up hope that new treatment methods might restore the ability to see in the blind,” said Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher at the ceremony on Monday.

When it comes to giving sight to the blind, helping the lame to walk, and the deaf to hear, it will not be God, not Jesus, not prayer, not angels, nor saints that will be credited. No, it will be science. And, as for eternal life- it will be science again that will give it to us (or at least an approximation) – Christianity will deliver nothing at all.

(2614) Religious propaganda aimed at retention

A perennial question that skeptics ask theists is why devout people are not protected to a greater extent than atheists when it comes to personal protection and belongings, given that they are praying to a supernatural being who allegedly takes their well-being to heart. Well, the Bible has the ‘answer’ – the Book of Job.

In this book, God makes a bet with Satan that Job will continue to worship him even as more and more tragedies are foisted on him and his family. Job passes the test. Nobody besides some evangelical Christians believe this story to be literally true, understanding it to be allegorical. The question is what was the author’s intent and why was it placed in the Bible?

It is likely that the author observed members of his community losing faith in God when they were confronted with major setbacks in their life, and he wanted to write something that encouraged these victims to retain their belief in God. Thus, readers seeing themselves vicariously as Job, they could then recast their hardship as a test from God to see how faithful they really are.

Why it was included in the Bible is easy to understand. It is a highly effective piece of religious propaganda aimed at retention of the flock. It provides a failsafe answer for whenever prayers fail- it is simply a test, and to ‘be like Job’ is the ultimate display of faith that will be rewarded mightily. The Book of Job is an apologetic defense of the unsettling fact that earthly success and religious faith do not correlate. It is a way to absolve God of any fault for losses suffered by his followers.

(2615) Jesus, the cult con man

Although the synoptic gospels present Jesus as a generally humble person, the Gospel of John turbocharges Jesus into an egotistical, first class con artist, whose main focus is on expressing how great he is. This is most certainly not the same Jesus described in the Gospel of Mark. The following was taken from:


In Mark, Jesus was a Galilean peasant preacher who showed up at the River Jordan to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. But John would have none of that. The author of this gospel set up a different scheme by placing Jesus at creation. “In the beginning was the word. The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

And Jesus is aware of his place in the divine realm:

John 10:30: “The father and I are one.” This is the claim of the con man.

John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Christian arrogance received huge boost from this verse. How much damage has been caused by this text alone?

John 8:28: “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.”

John 8:56: “Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.”

John 8:58: “Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 5:46: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

John 16:27: “…the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”

John 16:23: “Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”

John 17:5: “So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.”

John 17:21: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Cult con men also use threats:

John 15:6: “Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

My favorite: John 16:33: “But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

The Jesus of the Gospel of John is a prototype for the disgraced evangelical apocalyptic preachers of modern times, such as Harold Camping, David Koresh, and Jim Jones. These men, like Jesus, elevated their own importance above whatever messaging they were trying to convey.  They all met bad ends. If Jesus was accurately described by the Gospel of John, then his bad end was just as predictable.

(2616) Four brick walls separate us from Jesus’ words

The few Christians who actually read their bibles likely think that they are reading the actual words of Jesus (even some probably think he spoke in English), and many bibles use red print to emphasize precisely where Jesus is speaking.  Even if we concede that Jesus was a real person, there are significant barriers separating us from having confidence of what he actually said. The following was taken from:


They fail to deliver because there are four Gospel Brick Walls. We hit these and we see that verifiable information about Jesus does not exist.

In other words, there is virtually no chance that authentic words of Jesus can be identified in the gospels.

Brick Wall # 1: The requirements for writing history are absent.

Historians want documents that are contemporaneous with events. That is, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts that are written as soon as possible after an event.

• Helen Langdon’s biography of Caravaggio includes 30 pages—in fine print—presenting her sources, i.e., the contemporaneous documents she used to write her story.
• A. Scott Berg’s biography of Woodrow Wilson includes 38 pages—in fine print—presenting his sources, i.e., the contemporaneous documents he used to write his story.

That’s how historians do their job. They are able to describe what happened on 19 November 1863, when Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, by reading letters, diaries, newspaper accounts. There is no contemporaneous documentation whatever for anything Jesus said or did.

Bart Ehrman has stated the problem: “In the entire first century Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero! Zip references!”

There is broad consensus among New Testament scholars that the gospels were written decades later, and there is little confidence in Luke’s claim (Luke 1:2) that events were

“…handed on to us by those who were eyewitnesses.” We would need hard evidence for that, not his say-so. Especially since he then goes on to give us two chapters of fantasy, with angels having speaking roles. He doesn’t cite his sources.

And this is embarrassing: he plagiarized. He copied great chunks of Mark without saying so. Did he think he was passing on eyewitness accounts by copying Mark? Mark doesn’t cite any sources either.

We have no idea when the words of Jesus might have been written down for the first time. By some estimates, 95 percent of the people who heard Jesus preach were illiterate. No one carried around pads of paper and pencils. There were no stenographers, no recording machines.

Just as aside: there has been much debate in scholarly circles about the so-called Criteria of Authenticity. Some claim that these criteria allow us to figure out the real Jesus stuff. But they don’t do the job they’re supposed to do. See David Fitzgerald’s Jesus: Mything in Action, Vol. 1, pp. 134-149, and Richard Carrier, Proving History, chapter 5.

Brick Wall # 2: The intent to write history seems to be missing.

The gospel writers wrote theology, actually, propaganda for the early Jesus cult. They were trying to get people to believe. They created Jesus episodes by using Old Testament stories, for which see Robert Price, The Christ Myth Theory and Its Problems, and David Chumney, Eclipsing Jesus: How Searching Scriptures Got in the Way of Recounting the Facts.

And the gospel writers used their imaginations. Mark described the temptation of Jesus in two verses. Matthew expanded this to eleven verses and added dialogue between Satan and Jesus. This was in the wilderness; no one was there taking notes. Satan whisked Jesus (à la Superman?) to the pinnacle of the Jerusalem temple, and to a high mountaintop.

Historians don’t take this seriously.

Brick Wall # 3: Reliable oral tradition cannot be verified.

This is the fond hope of New Testament scholars, that words of Jesus were remembered with dead accuracy, being told and retold and retold for several decades. Randel Helms has pointed out in his book, Gospel Fictions, that oral tradition “…is by definition unstable, notoriously open to mythical, legendary, and fictional embellishment.”

Is it possible that authentic words of Jesus have been preserved? How would we know? How would we know which ones?

Brick Wall # 4: All of the original gospel manuscripts were lost.

There will always be dispute about the gospels—what is the blend of history, folklore, mythology, allegory, theology?—but there’s another problem: we no longer have what they wrote. The original manuscripts were lost. The earliest gospel fragment we have dates from the second century, and it a scrap of John 18, about the size of a credit card, now in a library in the UK.

For centuries second-third-fourth generation manuscripts were copied by hand, by scribes who didn’t have eyeglasses or electric lighting. They might not have understood the Greek they were copying. We know that thousands of errors were made, and there was a lot of tampering. The supposed words of Jesus were not exempt.

The most famous example is Mark 16:9-20. These verses were not in the original manuscript of Mark. Who knows when they got tacked on. Maybe that’s a good thing, since here we find the prediction of the resurrected Jesus that baptized Christians will be able to cast out demons, pick up snakes, drink poison, speak in tongues and heal by laying on of hands.

If you get a chance, ask Christians how they’re doing on this list.

But then there’s John 8, the famous story of the woman taken in adultery, and dragged before Jesus. “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” It’s a great story, but it wasn’t in the original gospel. It even got added in some manuscripts to Luke 21. We have no idea where this story came from—or if it even started out as a Jesus story.

Finally, let me scold translators who print the words of Jesus in red. This is pious deception: they’re trying to assure readers that these are the very words of Jesus. Most of the scholars involved in editing and translating know very well the problems I’ve just described. By printing the words of Jesus in red, they trade on the gullibility of the faithful.

If we stay in the world of reality, we must conclude that there is no way to determine with certainty anything that Jesus said. So, Christians must call on magic to solve this problem, by claiming that the Holy Spirit filled in the gaps of uncertainty and quasi-dictated to the gospel authors, and presumably afterward to the forgers as well, and, by extension, to the people who performed the translations. And this is the point of almost all apologetic discussions- Christianity can be true, but only in a world that is unlike the world that all of us seem to live in- a world with unseen characters hiding behind the proverbial curtain and pulling strings while pushing other things around.

(2617) Unevidenced miracles

Faced with mounting evidence that miracle claims attributed to the Christian god are actually the result of misconception, coincidence, deception, or natural phenomena, some apologists are promoting the idea that God does perform miracles, but in a way that cannot be detected. For example, suppose a big earthquake was about to strike Los Angeles, California, but God stopped it from happening. There would be no way for us to know about this. Thus, they assert, God is performing miracles, even if we don’t know where or how. The following explains the holes in this argument:


From the outset, I’m forced to admit we cannot, technically speaking, completely rule out the possibility of a god who performs hidden unevidenced miracles. God may do them, despite the fact that no reasonable person should believe that he did.

This technicality won’t grant believers any hope to pry open the floodgates to their sect-specific miracle assertions though, for three good reasons.

1) For one, if a god performs hidden unevidenced miracles, then no reasonable person should ever believe he does them. Reasonable people need sufficient objective evidence to accept them. Unevidenced miracle claims by definition have no evidence for them. So they might as well not occur at all. They would not be able to produce reasonable belief though, if belief was important to a god. That should be the end of it.

2) For two, if a god does these miracles believers must show why organ failures, viruses, and the things we eat are always the best explanations for why we get sick, rather than curses, or spells. They must also show why the best explanation for healings comes from a doctor prescribed medicine, rather than prayers, which don’t work any more than chance. The extremely strong trend is that science is working, whereas god is not. As science advances god retreats. Miracle explanations have become unnecessary because they never worked in the first place.

3) For three, if a good god does hidden unevidenced miracles, then why aren’t they being done to alleviate the most horrendous sufferings in the world? A god could have stopped the underwater earthquake that caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami before it happened, thus saving a quarter of a million lives. If a god did that none of us would ever know he did. But since there are many clear instances of horrendous suffering where a god should have intervened with miracles but didn’t, we can reasonably conclude he doesn’t do hidden unevidenced miracles at all.

If God is hiding his miracle campaign from us, supposedly because he doesn’t want to make having faith too easy (that is, it wouldn’t be ‘sporting’), then we can conclude that his subterfuge is leaving a lot to be desired and appears to be, in a general sense, indifferent to human suffering. In actuality, the theory that God performs behind-the-scenes miracles makes him out to be a worse figure than if he was just letting things happen naturally.

(2618) Bible wonders- case dismissed

If Christianity was placed on trial, the judge would immediately dismiss the case because the evidence would be seen to be woefully insufficient and otherwise inadmissible by any standard of jurisprudence.  The following discusses the three major categories of claims and the evidence needed to establish a reasonable belief in each:


In my anthology “The Case against Miracles” I wrote the chapter “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” There I describe three types of claims about the objective world and the evidence needed to accept them.

1) Ordinary claims require only a small amount of fair evidence. These are claims about events that take place regularly every day, and as such, require only the testimonial evidence of someone who is trustworthy under normal circumstances. If a trustworthy woman tells us she saw a car accident on Main Street, we would believe her. If a trustworthy man tells us he just talked to his mother on the phone we would believe him. There’s no reason not to.

2) Extraordinary claims are about events that are extremely unusual, within the world of nature, and require a relatively large amount of solid objective evidence, depending on how extraordinary the claim is. If someone claimed he sank 18 hole-in-ones in a row on a standard golf course, we would simply scoff at him. Testimonial evidence alone is almost always insufficient for establishing an extraordinary claim like that. We need extraordinary levels of objective evidence to believe him.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which entails sufficient corroborating objective evidence commensurate with the nature of the extraordinary claim. That means sufficient objective evidence should be sufficient, regardless of whether it’s a large amount of good evidence or a small amount of very strong evidence.

3) Miraculous claims are the highest kind of extraordinary claims. A miracle is an event impossible to occur by natural processes alone. They’re events which involve the interfering, or suspension, or transgressing, or breaching, or contravening, or violating of natural law. So if we could not believe someone’s testimony who claimed to have made 18 hole-in-ones in a row on a standard golf course, we could not believe him a hundred times over if he said he flew of his own power from hole to hole. In the case of miracle claims, reasonable people need a boat load of solid objective evidence before accepting them.

David Hume said it this way:

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish.

For Hume, no amount of human testimony is able overcome the overwhelming evidence of the known laws of nature that the world doesn’t act in miraculous ways. Human testimony to a miracle cannot begin to overcome the extremely strong evidence that no scientist has ever conducted an experiment under strict laboratory conditions, who received different results than other scientists who conducted the same exact experiment under the same exact conditions. Reasonable people need a lot of solid objective evidence to overcome our firm scientific conviction that the world operates according to regular patterns, described by laws, and human testimony is insufficient for the task.

The only testimonies that might have some glimmer of hope in establishing a miracle are hypothetically imagined scenarios by the philosophers. But even in these best imagined cases the testimonies can only equal the overwhelming evidence that the natural operation of the world is uniform and constant. So at its best, under the best of scenarios, human testimony cannot establish a miracle.

The significant point is that, despite imagined hypotheticals, we never find any concrete examples of testimonial evidence that come remotely close to establishing a miracle. Hume concludes:

Therefore we may establish it as a maxim, that no human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle, and make it a just foundation for any such system of religion.

That human testimony to miracles is fallible is known with a great deal of assurance. They are insufficient because people typically misperceive, misunderstand, and misrepresent what they thought they saw mostly due to a whole host of cognitive biases. Confirmation bias is probably the mother of all biases, for it permits people to see objective evidence where there isn’t any, and permits believers to find their faith is strengthened under attack, after listening to good arguments like I’m now making right now. Sometimes people lie about miracles to defraud others. A forensic television show I watch had a character say, “The evidence doesn’t lie. People do.”

Establishing miracles requires a sufficient amount of solid objective evidence, not mere testimony, and even far less, 2nd 3rd 4th handed hearsay testimony from people who are not eyewitnesses, like what we find in the Bible. Just as hearsay testimony isn’t allowed into a courtroom because we would want to cross-examine any supposed eyewitnesses for accuracy, consistency between other supposed eyewitnesses, and completeness of the story being told. We would especially be interested to know if, like the Mormon “witnesses” of the supposed Golden Plates, any of them recanted. Which they did. We know that of them, but do we know that of any of the original disciples whose 2nd 3rd hand testimonies claimed that they saw the risen Jesus? Most importantly, we would want to know if the supposed eyewitness testimony comports to the evidence. But if there is no objective evidence and only hearsay testimony then there isn’t even a case! Just imagine this scenario in the courtroom. The Judge says, “Present your first eyewitness.” The Prosecutor says “There are no eyewitnesses, we have no witnesses.” Then he says, “Do you have any objective evidence”, and the prosecutor says, “No we don’t have any objective evidence either.” At which point the defense attorney says, “I motion to dismiss this case.”

It didn’t have to be this way. There could have been mountains of contemporaneous documents written by eyewitnesses and local historians describing many of the supernatural stories discussed in the Bible. Such would have given us at least some basis for concluding that some of these off-normal events had actually occurred. Instead, we are left with nothing, essentially, that can compel belief for anyone beyond the most gullible.

(2619) The eternal life gimmick

Almost all religions that both pre-  and post-date Christianity have some variation of a promise that followers can survive death and live a second life somewhere, either on earth or in a special place. This is not surprising because it (1) exploits a natural fear of death and non-existence, (2) answers a desire to re-unite with deceased loved ones, (3) is un-falsifiable, as no one can revive and say it’s not true, (4) doesn’t involve any promise for this life (that can easily go wrong), and (5) is completely cost-free, there is no overhead for the church.

Early Christians believed that Jesus would return before they died, but as the years passed, it became obvious that this would not happen. So, the promise of eternal life became a more salient selling point for the church. This is expressed mightily in the last gospel that was written (John) that far more than any of the previous gospels expounds on the concept of eternal life. The following was taken from:


The eternal life gimmick is pressed relentlessly by John’s Jesus. Other religions, other cults, claim to have this product.

There are two elements of wishful/magical thinking here:

• First, that human consciousness survives the death of the brain.
• Second, that eternal life can be achieved by magic spells or potions: say something, think something, eat something, drink something—for example the body and blood of Jesus—and you’ve won the prize.

John 5:24: “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

John 5:28: “…for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.”

John 6:40: “…that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.”

John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

The Gospel of John represents a turning point in Christian theology, away from the near-term expectation of a glorious return of Jesus to the earth and toward a longer view of human history that emphasizes the human struggle to choose between right and wrong, and the eternal implications of those decisions. This is when the eternal life gimmick was fully deployed and then became the central feature of Christianity.

(2620) Religion’s anachronistic approach to human sexuality

Many religions grew up at a time of great uncertainty involving human reproduction, with high maternal and fetal death rates, such that replacing the population was not a certain thing. In fact, the human population was more or less stagnant for long periods of time, and even hit a major crunch point 70,000 years ago when there were as few as 40 breeding pairs of humans remaining on the planet.

It was during these uncertain times that religions developed moral rules that favored high rates of childbirth and edicts against whatever tended to defeat that goal. This is why homosexuality was viewed so dimly as well as divorce, abortion, polyandry (monogamy was important for child survival rates), contraception, masturbation, etc. This set in stone religious dogma concerning human sexuality that has persisted to present times. However, in most industrialized nations, maintaining population levels is no longer a concern, and, as a result, the religious tenets controlling human sexuality have been challenged, leading to a decline in religiosity. The following explains how this factor has been one of the driving forces for the recent and dramatic trend toward secularization:


But perhaps the most important force behind secularization is a transformation concerning the norms governing human fertility. For many centuries, most societies assigned to women the role of producing as many children as possible and discouraged divorce, abortion, homosexuality, contraception, and any sexual behavior not linked to reproduction. The sacred writings of the world’s major religions vary greatly, but as Norris and I have demonstrated, virtually all world religions instilled these pro-fertility norms in their adherents. Religions emphasized the importance of fertility because it was necessary. In the world of high infant mortality and low life expectancy that prevailed until recently, the average woman had to produce five to eight children in order to simply replace the population.

During the twentieth century, a growing number of countries attained drastically reduced infant mortality rates and higher life expectancies, making these traditional cultural norms no longer necessary. This process didn’t happen overnight. The major world religions had presented pro-fertility norms as absolute moral rules and stoutly resisted change. People only slowly gave up the familiar beliefs and societal roles they had known since childhood concerning gender and sexual behavior. But when a society reached a sufficiently high level of economic and physical security, younger generations grew up taking that security for granted, and the norms around fertility receded. Ideas, practices, and laws concerning gender equality, divorce, abortion, and homosexuality are now changing rapidly.

This shift is quantifiable. Data collected in the World Values Survey over the years offer a glimpse of a deep transformation. The survey uses a ten-point scale based on each country’s acceptance of divorce, abortion, and homosexuality. The tipping point is around the middle of the scale, at 5.50: lower scores indicate that a majority of the country’s people harbor more conservative views, and higher scores indicate that a majority have more liberal views centered on individual choice. Around 1981, majorities in every country for which we have data supported pro-fertility norms. Even in high-income countries, the mean scores ranged from as low as 3.44 (Spain), 3.49 (the United States), 3.50 (Japan), 4.14 (the United Kingdom), and 4.63 (Finland) to as high as 5.35 for Sweden—then the most liberal country but with a score still slightly below the scale’s tipping point. But a profound change was underway. By 2019, Spain’s mean score had risen to 6.74, the United States’ to 5.86, Japan’s to 6.17, the United Kingdom’s to 6.90, Finland’s to 7.35, and Sweden’s to 8.49. All these countries were below the 5.50 tipping point when first surveyed, and all of them were above it by 2019. These numbers offer a simplified picture of a complex reality, but they convey the scale of the recent acceleration of secularization.

This trend has been spreading to the rest of the world, with one major exception. The populations of the 18 Muslim-majority countries for which data are available in the World Values Survey have stayed far below the tipping point, remaining strongly religious and committed to preserving traditional norms concerning gender and fertility. Even controlling for economic development, Muslim-majority countries tend to be somewhat more religious and culturally conservative than average.

The moral rules of Christianity are a product of their times, but they have since become anachronistic, as child survival rates improved and high rates of pregnancy were no longer necessary to replenish the population. This gave people some breathing room to question why homosexuality and contraception, for example, were considered sinful. It highlighted the fact that Christianity was stuck in a pre-industrial and pre-scientific mindset that no longer had relevance. This has led to a sharp decline in religious belief and a realization that Christian attitudes toward sex were borne more out of human necessity than divine ordinance.

(2621) Dissecting the ‘perfect’ prayer

Almost all Christians have heard, read, and recited what is termed the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13). It is often described as being the perfect prayer that was given to Christians by Jesus as a model for how to address God. However, a closer look reveals some problems:

Our Father…Immediately there is a question of why God would be called a ‘Father,’ as if a god should be a male, or have any sex whatsoever. Presumably there is other intelligent life in the universe overseen by God, and life on these planets may have three sexes, or perhaps only one. Describing God as being a father is a good clue that it was made up by humans.

Who art in heaven…No, another big problem, God cannot be in any specific location and still have the attributes claimed by Christianity. He would have to be everywhere in the universe in real time to be able to see, and hear all that is happening. To put God in heaven puts it in a restricted state.

Hollowed by thy name…Why should a name be hollowed? That implies that it should never be spoken in colloquial terms, though we know that the terms God, Father, Yahweh, and Lord are used in just that manner. Any name being hollowed makes no sense.

Thy kingdom come…This is code for asking for the world to soon come to an end. This unceremoniously concedes that Christianity is an apocalyptic, end-of-world, death cult. Nothing we didn’t already know.

Thy will be done …God’s will is nothing more than a script that it has written and that plays out over and above any sense of human free will. To ask for the completion of God’s will is to admit that humans are merely pawns in a divine simulation.

on earth as it is in heaven… The phrase ‘as it is in heaven’ is a bit confusing here. It has never been reasonably explained why this comparison of will intents needed to be made.

Give us this day our daily bread…this comes across as an order rather than a request and further was something often not supplied to starving Christians.

And forgive us our trespasses… Note that this was stated before Jesus died on the cross, proving that God can forgive without anyone being punished, making Jesus’s death superfluous.

As we forgive those who trespass against us…Again, if we can forgive someone without killing our child, why can’t God?

And lead us not into temptation…Nowhere in the Bible does it imply that God is a tempter, that role is reserved for Satan, so this injunction makes zero sense.

But deliver us from evil…This is the most ‘un-answered’ part of this prayer as genocides, terrorism, etc. rained down on Christendom for centuries.

Amen…a nod to the Egyptian god Amen-Ra.

[Note: the Protestants often include the phase ‘For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever’ into the Lord’s Prayer of Matthew’s Gospel, though this has been determined to be a forgery that was added to the gospel at a later date.]

Now, here is how this prayer should have been written:

God, who is everywhere, we respect your powers, we await your kingdom, and the fulfillment of your purposes and intents, we ask for supplications and our daily needs, and plead for forgiveness for our transgressions, while we will forgive others in kind, help us to avoid temptations, and enjoy safety from the evil doers…for these things we ask in all humbleness…Yours.

(2622) Paul fails to discuss his miracle works

The Book of Acts discussed many episodes where Paul performed a miracle- something that violated the physical laws of nature. Though, in his letters, he never discussed any of this or gave hint that he was anything other than a teacher of theology. Here is a list of the Paul’s miracles as recounted in Acts:

Acts 13:9-12

Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.

Acts 14:8-10

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

Acts 16:16-18

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

Acts 19:11-12

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Acts 20:9-12

Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.

Acts 28:3-6

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.” But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Acts 28:7-9

There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

The Book of Acts was written about 50 years after Paul had died, so he couldn’t have read it and said, “I didn’t do these things.’ That he would have left out any mention of these works of miracles from among his numerous letters to various churches is inconceivable. This affords us high confidence that Luke (the author of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts) was writing fiction… in both of his books.

(2623) Paul’s opposition to Peter is disqualifying

Paul’s condemnation of Peter (also known as Cephas), who was allegedly the principal disciple of Jesus, disqualifies him as a spokesperson for the faith. It brings into question the entire sweep of Pauline doctrine that still permeates the theology of most Christian denominations.

In a letter to the Galatians, Paul recounts how he opposed Peter because Peter continued to respect Jewish rules that were endorsed by Jesus and had been practiced for hundreds of years by Abraham, Moses, David, etc. Paul, seemingly on his own, declares those laws null and void:

Galatians 2:11-16

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

This passage is perhaps the clearest proof that Paul was in the process of creating a new religion. It is clear that Peter considered Jewish law to be still in effect, even if sometimes he compromised a bit around Gentile friends.  If Peter was Jesus’ principal disciple, and extermination of the law had been Jesus’ intent, then Peter would  have well understood it, and he wouldn’t have needed to be reminded by Paul.

It is a scholarly consensus that neither Peter nor James left any writings (at least that survived), despite letters psuedographically ascribed to them, so Christianity gravitated to Paul’s theology and away from whatever Jesus had taught Peter. This is a monstrous red flag indicating that Jesus was not a Christian.

(2624) Voice-activated healing requiring faith

In the following scripture, we find multiple layers of fantasy literature:

Acts 14:8-10

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

First, the idea that someone can be healed by voice command is well beyond any understanding of modern-day science. If it is true that it happened as described, then it leaves skeptics room to ask why we no longer see anything like this.

Second, if a man has been lame and never walked since birth, then his legs would be atrophied to look like skinny poles, and they would possess insufficient musculature to stand even if the nerve endings were restored from his spinal column. This healing therefore would have had to include a miraculous regrowth of muscle mass…i.e., his legs would have become instantaneously larger, in other words, matter was created from nothing.

Third, Paul evaluated the man before he could heal him to ensure that he had sufficient faith. Does this mean those without faith cannot be healed, or that Paul did not want to heal anybody such that it would cause them to acquire faith? Either way is problematic.

Fourth, if this miracle had happened as described, the man would not have ‘jumped up.’ Having never walked, it would be a slow, tentative, deliberate process of rising to a vertical position, and then taking one halting step at a time.

Fantasy literature has no place in a document published through the auspices of a deity who is intent on foisting a final judgment on humans, to include the entire range from intense pleasure to hideous torture. Its inclusion in Acts 14 lets us know that no god caused this event to happen nor directed that it be documented as such.

(2625) Theology’s free pass

Religions employ a scheme that is incredibly useful for their success and longevity,-  they exploit the human tendency to selectively filter information according to its context. Objectivity is applied only to material that lies outside of the current belief system while subjectivity is used for everything inside. This creates a cocoon effect that inoculates the religious adherent from seeing the folly of the in-group tradition while dismissing the out-group, even though the quality of evidence is on a similar level. The following was taken from:


Most of the gods imagined by humans—since we began imagining such things—have plied the miracle trade, so it’s hardly a surprise that miracles ended up in Bible narratives. Folks who have been taught since toddlerhood that the Bible is “God’s true story” commonly retain toddler naiveté about the Bible as long as they live. “One requirement for success as a sincere Christian,” Valerie Tarico and Marlene Winell have pointed out, “is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry.” (Psychological Harms of Bible-Believing Christianity)

Yet these folks are capable of stepping outside the “indoctrination fog.” When they come across nature-defying episodes in Disney movies, science fiction, fairy tales and Harry Potter, the naiveté vanishes: “Well, those are just make-believe.”

It doesn’t take much study to discover that the Christian scriptures emerged from a world of superstition and magical thinking. Hence so many of the Bible miracle events should also stand out as “make-believe.” The faithful would admit as much if they found these stories in other contexts.

Christians scoff at Mohammed riding a winged horse through the seven spheres, but have no trouble believing that Jesus flew bodily up into the air and above the clouds on his way to heaven. This is not an example of consistent critical thinking, but rather the result of an unthinking bias that was inculcated during childhood. It takes an enormous effort to re-program the brain to see what is happening from a third-person perspective. Most never achieve that goal.

(2626) Why Christianity does not deserve respect

Christians often will tell non-theists that they respect their right to disbelieve, but expect an equal offer of respect for their beliefs. This is a false equivalency. The two ‘belief systems’ lie in two very separate camps of cognitive function. The following was taken from:


Here’s a list of my top 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) why Christianity shouldn’t be given the respect it demands (and in many cases, should be ridiculed):

• Suspension of Critical Thought – Have “faith like a child” and “lean not on your own understanding”. Basically, don’t think for yourself, and if you question any logical fallacy, your pastor and fellow flock members can give you plenty of explanations.

• Promotion of Scientific Illiteracy – Evolutionary biology in its entirety is as much a fact as the earth’s orbit around the sun. It’s not a matter of opinion, and there is no “alternative” explanation. The bible is not by default correct, nor does it have the authority to trump scientific evidence. Humans were not “created”, and it’s unlikely that some unseen intelligence put everything into motion (and if you have some tangible evidence to the contrary that is testable, replicable, and not from scripture, I’d love to see it).

• Willful Ignorance and Mistrust of the Scientific Community – When I’ve asked Christians to define the theories they oppose (evolution, abiogenesis, and universe origins), it’s clear that they don’t understand them (or the scientific method for that matter). When I offer resources to clarify the theories (with evidence), the usual response is “I’m too busy”, or an outright “I don’t care to know, and wouldn’t believe it if I did see it”.

• Intricate Maneuvering of Tough Questions – Ask a Christian the tough questions about contradictions, the suspicious origins, historical inaccuracies, and downright absurdities of the bible, the nature of god, and so on. Most likely you’ll get a wide range of parroted responses that are rather elaborate, and in turn create more questions than answers. If it were all true, wouldn’t it be pretty simple and straightforward?

• Blatant Dishonesty – Creationist propaganda alone is enough to prove the point. There’s no way around it; creation apologists blatantly lie without excuse. What does the scientific community have to gain by lying about its evidence and theories? Nothing! A better understanding of our world helps us make progress, and it improves our quality of life. What do creationists (and subsequently churches) have to lose? A whole lot of tithing, that’s what. There’s also blatant political propaganda on which party you should vote for (ever so subtle), that gays and lesbians are detrimental to family values, and that our wars are justified because we have god on our side to help us eradicate evil.

• Extraordinary Claims – Do I really have to present the long list of absurdity? To believe in any of it, your critical thought process has to pretty much be eliminated. Christianity claims to factually know the origins of the universe, the earth, life on the planet, and ultimately the future of humankind without sufficient tangible evidence. Christianity also rejects any reasonable argument and tangible evidence against their claims, while demanding respect. And apologists say non-believers are arrogant and closed minded?

• Repulsive Attitudes – What is god’s obsession with blood? For millennia he required blood sacrifices for atonement of sin. Of course the ultimate blood sacrifice of Jesus was a human one (and it changed all the rules!). How is a bloodthirsty god who accepts human sacrifice (if you look in the Old Testament, there are plenty of other human sacrifices) better than any other god? And why does god need to sacrifice Jesus (who is also himself) to appease himself when he created humanity fallible in the first place? Also checkout the long list of atrocities (rape, genocide, slavery) that are condoned (no matter which testament you read).

• Cherry Picking Theology – As we become more civilized, the bible becomes less palatable, but apologists will continue to preach the divinely inspired universal truth of the bible, frequently claiming the New Testament trumps the old. The good things Jesus said (like the Beatitudes) are highlighted, but you forget that Jesus is also god (and the same god of the Old Testament). As mentioned above, that Old Testament god condoned slavery, rape, and genocide (and within any context is repulsive). Even Jesus condoned (not condemned) slavery. Yes, Jesus was passionate about his ideals (that were well ahead of his time), but he also had a lot of crackpot ideas that most modern Christians don’t follow (like abandoning your family, killing people who deny Christ, selling your home and all worldly possessions to give to the poor).

• Atonement – God created humans, knowing that they weren’t going to be perfect. When the first humans sin, all subsequent generations are cursed because of this. So basically you’re born a rotten human being, repulsive in god’s eyes, but he loves you so much, you just have to believe in Jesus so that he won’t have to torment you in hell for all eternity. That really can’t be good for anyone’s self-esteem.

• Absurd Worldview – Christians are apparently not citizens of this world, as it’s just a temporary place to prepare for the afterlife. Why bother making this world a better place for humanity when it’s all going to be destroyed soon once the rapture happens and the apocalypse destroys the planet? I know from personal experience that most evangelical Christians view a global economy and government as a sign of the antichrist appearing. It explains why so many Americans (dominated by Christian ideals) are notoriously opposed to globalization (although you’d think they’d be all for it, if it would speed up Christ’s return). Personally, I’d like to see the evidence for an afterlife. Modern science shows us that there’s no reason to believe that consciousness continues after our brains die (because the mind is the function of the brain).

To say that beliefs in Christianity and atheism deserve equal respect is like saying that people who believe in a flat earth should be respected to the same extent as those who believe the earth has a globular shape. The two positions are not equal in any sense. One is based on reason and evidence and the other is based on fantasy and ignorance. Belief in Christianity should be politely accepted but it does not deserve respect.

(2627) The fallacy of personal revelation

Throughout the history of religion and especially Christianity, the apparent modus operandi of God is to deliver divine messages to single individuals, and then to depend on them to convey the information to others. This is seen particularly with Paul, who claimed to have had a personal encounter with the risen Jesus. But it also extends to those who wrote the gospels, other epistles, and Revelation. In each case, the writer supposedly received a revelation from God that was afforded to them alone. Subsequently, countless individuals, including some nefarious ones such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, have claimed a similar direct and exclusive connection to God.

Revelation to a single individual should be seen as a red herring because it is extremely unlikely that a god would use such an ineffective method to deliver a message to humankind. Even if one person receives a legitimate directive from God, it would be diluted by countless other individuals who mistakenly or fraudulently claim the same, making it impossible to sort the real from the fake.

If a god existed and needed to communicate information to humans, it most likely would be done on a mass scale, such that multiple people would receive the same message at approximately the same time. This would provide the necessary corroboration to validate that it actually came from a divine source. On the other hand, if there is no god contacting humans, we would expect all ‘revelations’ to be on a single-person basis…and this is precisely what we see.

(2628) God’s anger quenched by prayer

The Book of Numbers gives us an insightful view of God’s personality.  Apparently, he does not like complainers, and he likes to use fire as punishment (perhaps a prelude to hell?).

Numbers 11:1-3

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

From this we also learn that God’s wrath can be tempered by prayer, especially if it is coming from one of his favored prophets.  This, of course, is another clue that the people of this time thought of God as having human-like emotions and reactions to supplication.

Now, to be real, this is a fictional story that might have had a factual kernel of truth- that a fire did occur that then ended after Moses (assuming he was a real person, otherwise someone else) had prayed. To these people, a fire could not have been coincidental- it had to have had an agency and a reason for it to have happened- so the complaints of hardship seemed like the best guess.

This is nothing new. Christians even today seek an explanation for natural disasters that conveniently fits their pre-conceived theological beliefs. Thus, the fires in the Western United States are God’s punishment for the secular, liberal policies of this area (even though the fires are concentrated in areas that are mostly populated by conservative Christians). But when a hurricane hits the Bible Belt, it’s just a coincidence.

(2629) Early church fathers would be heretical today

It would be expected that the doctrines and traditions associated with a divinely-created religion would remain mostly constant, while the same for a human-created religion would likely evolve with the times.  Regarding Christianity, a look at the writings of the early church leaders (fathers) shows that it follows the latter pattern. Most of these icons believed things that would cause them to be excommunicated today. The following was taken from:


In the absence of any first-hand apostolic record, Christian scholars often referred to the Fathers of the Church — early Christians who left a written record of doctrine and practices. The Roman Church purports to ascribe authority to them equal to that accorded to the gospels. But there are problems here as well. In the first place the earliest Fathers knew nothing of doctrines such as the Incarnation or Trinity, and so were liable to make statements that are now heretical. Also, on many matters the Church Fathers contradict each other, and where they unanimously concur they often condemn practices that are now common, for example, the wearing of distinctive clothing by clerics. Often, specific directions by the Fathers are simply ignored. Hippolytus instructed Christians to pray at the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day, a practice mentioned by many early authorities, such as Tertullian, Origen of Alexandria, and Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage. The practice was inconvenient so it was dropped for those not belonging to religious Orders (though Muslims manage to follow similar rules, taking care to face a certain direction, as Christians once did, and adopting the same posture for prayer as early Christians).

The Fathers held strong views on a wide range of matters. As Gibbon observed:

In their censures of luxury the fathers were extremely minute and circumstantial; and among the various articles that excite their pious indignation we may enumerate false hair, garments of any colour except white, instruments of music, vases of gold or silver, downy pillows (as Jacob reposed his head on a stone), white bread, foreign wines, public salutations, the use of warm baths, and the practice of shaving the beard, which, according to Tertullian, is a lie against our own faces and an impious attempt to improve the works of the Creator.

The Roman Church’s commitment to tradition is widely regarded as questionable. The Church has never attempted to collect together a comprehensive body of tradition, and it is not unknown for Roman Catholic writers to be charged by other Christians with being evasive, and even “fugitive”, on the subject. This is not altogether surprising since numerous Roman doctrines are not evidenced by the Church Fathers, and are universally acknowledged to date from later times (papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and Mary’s Assumption, to name but three).

It is difficult to find any Church Fathers who were consistently orthodox by modern standards. Indeed the problem of deciding who counted as a Church Father was much like deciding which books were canonical. People tended to include anyone who agreed with them and to reject anyone who did not. Since there were so few accepted Fathers, broad agreement was eventually reached, though once again there is no definitive list, and Eastern and Western Churches still accord vastly different weights to different Fathers. Since it was difficult, often impossible, to find orthodox writers who confirmed certain doctrines or practices, Churches were driven to accept as authoritative men who had been condemned as heretics. Some of them had been considered heretical even in their own day. Their original writings were conveniently “lost” or tampered with. Many of these early Christians had extremely unfortunate views on sex and punishment, shared extreme anti-Semitic views, and firmly believed a range of absurdities.

Contemporary Christianity bears little resemblance to its First Century origins. This raises serious doubts as to its authenticity. If the saints and leaders of the early church were to revive today, they would not be able to find any denomination that was consistent with their beliefs. Christianity has evolved and is still evolving, and similar to biological evolution, this fact destroys its legitimacy.

(2630) Jesus was a human

We will never know for certain who Jesus was, or even whether he was a unique person or instead a prototype of several similar preachers. But we can make a near certain estimate that he was a human, born in the regular way and encumbered by certain frailties that are sure to visit any flesh and blood organism. In the following essay, the author makes the best attempt to unravel the mystery around a figure whose outsized influence has moved history in unimaginable ways:


Western civilization is hamstrung by an ancient fable – one which is certainly not true and appears more preposterous the more closely it is examined. In any fair examination, one would need to contrast the alleged incidents with known human behavior modes and compare the alleged events to human nature and well-understood laws of physics, as well as to logic and reason. We can step back a little and examine the big picture in an attempt to strip away the facade of superstition, urban legend, hearsay, and pure bullshit. Given the late date – long after the alleged incidents – at which the alleged events were committed to paper, AND given that it was not recorded by actual witnesses, AND given the propensity for tales to get better and more detailed with every telling, AND given the apparent lack of adherence to any recognizable standards for the review and validation of evidence, AND given the depths of ignorance and superstition in which the world was generally steeped on that day, I think it is fair to assume that we do not have a true and accurate account – and certainly not a factual account – of events depicted in the bible. With a clear eye and a little perspective, it appears that any convergence with fact is purely coincidental.

To gain a more realistic picture of the period covered in the bible, we can, for the sake of argument, start with the assumption that the players were living, breathing human beings, driven by the same survival requirements as current humans as well as the same basic social pressures which have been common to humans since we started living in groups. We can also make certain reasonable assumptions about the existence of magic and the practice of flim-flam, both forms of fakery still in common use today. Armed with this knowledge, we can make certain rational assumptions about characters claiming to operate under special rules and “supernatural” forces. In this age we know them all to be hucksters, charlatans, and televangelists, and all – ALL of them – to be 100% full of shit and ill purpose. Follow the money.

Bearing all that in mind, we can start to look at the biblical fables in a more realistic light. We come up with the following:
Around 2000 years ago, in the Middle East, there may have been a traveling preacher, who we currently refer to as “Jesus”. He was one of thousands of assorted preachers, seers, shamans, and mystics roaming that part of the world seeking a following and a career. He, like the others, was a product of his environment. Education was generally unavailable. What education was available was of very low standard compared to what is available today. The general population was highly illiterate, highly superstitious, and highly gullible.

The first aspect of his alleged deism that needs to be brought back to reality are the highly suspect circumstances surrounding his birth. Much has been made of the miraculous virgin birth. As is increasingly widely held among biblical scholars, “virgin” is a mistranslation – one of xianity’s founding principles is a mistake from the git-go. Also, considering that his mother was married to his father, it is even more unlikely that the mother was a virgin. If, however, the mother found herself inexplicably pregnant under circumstances where the father would have reason to doubt his own contribution to the situation, then blaming it on some supernatural intervention might have worked, thereby proving my point about rampant gullibility. If we saw it happen today we would know that the mother was caught screwing around. But despite the ironic humor of that scenario, it is far more likely that the two married parents were completely responsible for the normal birth of a human child. Certainly no reasonable person would give much credence to supernatural claims. We know better now.

Son of God? Not bloody likely.

Education and literacy, in that day and in that realm, were reserved for the privileged. Jesus was apparently illiterate and uneducated; there is no mention in the bible or anywhere else that he ever attended any school anywhere, nor does the bible or any other record contain a single word alleged to have been written by him. Apparently he was somewhat of a drifter, shifting from job to job and town to town. According to the bible, he was sometimes a carpenter and, at other times, a fisherman or a shepherd. He was apparently not successful enough at any of these professions to make them a career. The bible also makes clear that Jesus had a taste for wine.

Also worth noting – his best lady friend was a prostitute and he hated his own mother. Mommy issues.

He also had a temper as was shown when a fig tree failed to produce fruit on demand. He also flared at those who failed to recognize his claimed legitimacy as the son of God. He is also said to have raged a little when his own father – godhisownself – failed to rescue him from the clutches of the Romans. Since believers claim that he was not only the son of God, but was indeed God hisownself, then he was pissed at himself for failing to rescue himself from the cross. Seems to me that if he really was “God”, then the crucifixion was just a little charade for the locals. Seems to me that if he really was “God”, his crucifixion (more like cruci-fiction) would have been inconsequential, causing little permanent damage or inconvenience.

If Jesus really was God, then the crucifixion was a charade for the rubes.

He was followed around by an entourage of unemployed religious fanatics (as were David Koresh and Jim Jones). As I state in another essay, there is a certain managerial and logistical workload implicit in a traveling religion show. It seems to be beyond the scope of the bible to address – or maybe it was a little too seamy to include, or maybe, like any good movie, there is a lot of mundane background detail that don’t contribute to the story. One need only look at the way that traveling revivals and faith healers have operated throughout history to start to get a sense of what was going on. The words “snake oil” come to mind.

How many of those who were “raised from the dead” were raised from the dead again in the next town. How many of the lame walked anew in every town? In an age of ignorance and superstition, where news was sparse and rumor was treated like fact, where life was hard and all knew the pain of disease and deformity, those who promised cures – and who always managed to cure some unknown from the crowd – were sure to gather a following.

Remember that the alleged accounts of Jesus’ life were not written by eyewitnesses. They were written anywhere from 40 to 100 years after the alleged incidents by people with a vested interest in putting the best light on their founder. By then the stories had probably gotten a lot better with the telling and were replete with embellishments. His sermons got perfected and the whole story took on a life of its own.

Also note that, according to textual critic Bart Ehrman, in “Misquoting Jesus”, on the subject, that out of over 5000 transcribed copies of bibles, written in Greek, no two of them are the same. There are many textual inconsistencies and obvious errors in translations. Some of the newer ones even have fabrications that did not exist in any earlier version, such as the whole “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” story. Completely made up and inserted much later. The total number of inconsistencies and errors? More than the number of words in the New Testament. And a more relevant point is that not a single original of the texts exists.

The occasional human mind is bothered by what we know in laymen’s terms as the “god complex”. It is a euphoric/psychotic state in which the individual believes his own mind to be omnipotent and omniscient. It is somewhat context specific – its manifestation depend on the religious background of the individual – In xian cultures, the afflicted claim to be God or Jesus, while in other cultures they claim Allah or Buddha or Vishnu. The level of incapacitation covers a spectrum – from minor and manageable to complete and debilitating. Some of these people operate at a high level. Some are a real threat. Today we recognize this malady for what it is – a dangerous disease – and we either medicate or hospitalize the afflicted. The one thing we do not do is believe any of them.

Havelock Ellis said, “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.” To this I say “Amen”.

We know enough about science, how the world works, how rumors develop and evolve, and about how the ancient world was infested by superstitious beliefs to be certain that Jesus was a regular person, if he existed at all. But if he was the actual son of God, or God himself, then one can only stand in awe of how incompetent this god must be to arrange for such a miraculous spectacle… only for it to be shrouded in such murky uncertainty that only the most gullible can believe it really happened.

(2631) Christian fatalism

One of the ways to gauge a religion’s truthfulness is to assess the effect in has on its followers with respect to what we would assume to be behaviors conducive to the betterment of all- something it can be assumed would be a priority for a god. Christianity has failed in this test because of the way it tends to anesthetize its followers from confronting real world issues that affect the welfare of humanity.


Traditional Christianity has encouraged a fatalistic attitude, now more popular in the East than the West. The reasoning behind it seems to be something like this: God is all-knowing, he is aware of everything that will happen until the end of time. There is therefore no point in my trying to do anything since my future, like the future of everything else in the Universe, is already determined and already known to God. There is therefore no point in my trying to avoid the plague or a traffic accident. If God has ordained that I am to die today, then there is nothing I can do to stay alive, and if he has ordained that I live, then I cannot die, however recklessly I behave. There is therefore no point in struggling to avoid or overcome disease, no point in avoiding overtaking on blind bends, and no point trying to improve my lot, or the lot of my fellow creatures. There is no point trying to eradicate poverty because Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. This fatalism may account for the fact that Christians have played so little part in reform movements whether social, scientific, political, economic, medical, philosophical, penal, legal or constitutional, and on the contrary have generally opposed reform movements on the grounds that trying to improve life for people subverted the divine natural order, “playing God” and “flying in the face of the Almighty.”

Christianity has been a millstone around the neck of humanity with respect to scientific progress, environmental protection, and human rights. If this was the creation of a deity, then that god failed to inspire humanity to reach its full potential.

(2632) Paul’s significance was grossly overrated

Paul’s outsized influence on Christian doctrine is a concern of biblical scholars because it depends so critically on the truth of his vision of the risen Jesus. If such happened today, it would be dismissed as a hallucination. So how can we credit this alleged claim of 1985 years ago? The following was taken from:


A good crash course in Paul is provided by Robert Conner’s essay, “Paul’s Christianity,” in John W. Loftus’ anthology, The Case Against Miracles. What a calamity that the church got stuck with Paul’s Christianity. This man never met Jesus, and kept his distance from those who had known him—in fact, he bragged he didn’t learn about Jesus from any human sources. Yet, here he is to this day, at center stage in the Christian story.

 Conner describes what a strange, fluid world prevailed in the earliest Christian era:

 “We should be completely clear that when Paul wrote and preached there were no “gospels” as currently understood—Mark, the first gospel composed, was not written until well after Paul, James, and Peter had died. At that early stage there is no evidence that “the gospel” was anything other than an individual’s oral version of the meaning of Jesus’ life; there were as yet no authoritative “New Testament” gospels waiting on bookshelves to be consulted, no “proof texts” that could be cited to bolster an argument. The “gospel” was whatever a preacher said it was…” (p. 536)

 Sounds like a free-for-all, doesn’t it? Conner quotes Barrie Wilson (How Jesus Became Christian, 2009), that Paul’s version of events “owed its origin…not to the historical Jesus who was a teacher and Messiah claimant, but to Paul’s personal experience of a mystical Christ.” (p. 536)

 Folks who believe that Jesus still lives don’t question Paul’s claim that the risen Jesus spoke to him in visions; to the rest of us, however, this sounds like Paul hallucinated conversations with a dead man. Conner is correct:

 “The skeptic might ask what makes Paul’s private revelations from Jesus any more trustworthy than the revelations given Zarathushtra by Vohu Manah, or Muhammad’s revelations from the angel Gabriel, or Moroni’s private revelations to Joseph Smith…After all, by the time of Paul, spirits had been whispering secrets to mediums for millennia…” (p. 540)

 Paul resented the other mediums and preachers:

 “As Paul’s own letters make clear, there were competing, contradictory ‘gospels’ being preached in the first house churches—Paul complains that some of the Galatians had turned to ‘a different gospel.’ [Galatians 1:6] Paul did not mean a different written gospel…but a different  preaching of Jesus’ message, an interpretation that often formed the basis of competing factions: ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Paul’” [I Corinthians 1:12]. (pp. 536-537)

 Can we go along with Paul’s certainty that Apollos and Cephas didn’t share his privilege of genuine séances with Jesus? Christians who are curious—and suspicious about information derived from spiritual/mystical trances—are right to wonder, What’s going on here? How did Paul grab so much attention?

 Conner speaks of the historical context:

“While the Romans slaughtered, enslaved, and scattered the Jewish populace in Christianity’s homeland during the First Jewish-Roman War, the new cult, profoundly changed in character, progressed apace among Gentiles. As a lasting result of this change in fortune, the New Testament canon, finalized in the 3rd and 4th centuries, over-represented the importance of Paul among his first century rivals…” (pp. 537-538). Conner cites the observation of John G. Gager (Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity, 1975): “…because he figures so prominently in the New Testament, Paul’s significance in early Christian history has tended to be grossly overrated.” (p. 538)

For Christianity to have a fighting chance at legitimacy, at least among people who demand reasonable evidence, the bulk of the New Testament should have been written by Jesus, or his disciples, or by those who accompanied his ministry and witnessed the teachings and miracles.  None of these people wrote a single word that now appears in the New Testament. Paul wrote the bulk of it, and, even the gospels, though not written by Paul, were heavily influence by his epistles.  Simply put, an evidently psychotic man was the lead architect of Christianity.

(2633) Retrospective prophecy

Early Christian were encumbered by the expectation that if Jesus was the legitimate Jewish messiah, then he should have been firmly prophesized as such by the scriptures, though that wasn’t uncontroversially true. Had it been so, there would have been no separation between the Jewish and Christian faiths. But to save Christianity, an effort was made to connect Jesus artificially to the Jewish scriptures using the technique of retrospective prophecy. The following was taken from:


Vaticinia ex eventu — retrospective prophecy — is an ancient technique for gaining credibility. It involves generating a prediction that appears to predate the event that it foretells. The event therefore appears to confirm the miraculous prediction. The trick can be done in several ways. One way is to fabricate a document purportedly written in the past that foretells later events. Biblical scholars generally accept that the Old Testament book of Daniel is an example of this type, written centuries after it was purported to have been written. Another way is to take a genuine old text and look for passages that can be interpreted as foretelling aspects of later times, tweaking facts about later times, up to the present, as required.

It was a fundamental belief of Jews at the time of Jesus that no important event could come to pass unless the scriptures had foretold it. Early followers of Jesus were therefore keen to prove that the main events of his life, or what they believed about his life, had been predicted. If the Old Testament genuinely foretold events in the New, then we might expect that the prophecies would have been clearly acknowledged as prophecies, and in view of their divine provenance they would be free from error. On the other hand, if books of the New Testament were edited to make them appear consistent with supposed Old Testament prophecies, then we might expect a range of human errors. For example, Old Testament passages might be referred to that were not prophetic, or passages might be misquoted, or quoted out of context, or even invented. Again, genuine predictions concerning the life of Jesus would not have been fulfilled already before his time. Since New Testament authors were familiar with the Jewish writings only in Greek translation, anyone fabricating retrospective prophecies might not realize that their Old Testament texts contained mistranslations. Also, since the canon of the Old Testament was not yet fixed, we might find prophecies being quoted from texts that turned out not to be canonical. To see which pattern best matches the facts let’s look at some examples.

It seems that it was widely known during his lifetime that Jesus came from Nazareth, in Galilee. This was unfortunate because there was no suitable prophecy in the scriptures about a messiah, or a king, or even a prophet coming from Nazareth. Indeed Nazareth is never even mentioned in the Old Testament. On one occasion, according to the New Testament, the Jews say explicitly that Jesus cannot be the Messiah because he comes from Galilee rather than Bethlehem (John 7:41-2). Biblical authors seem to have known that Bethlehem was the correct place for a messiah to come from because of a passage in the Old Testament:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Micah 5:2

This probably explains why the authors of Matthew and Luke constructed (contradictory) stories to explain how Jesus of Nazareth came to be born not in Nazareth but in Bethlehem. For many Jews it would be unthinkable that God would have neglected to mention Jesus of Nazareth more explicitly in the scriptures if he was indeed who he claimed to be. The Matthew author remedied God’s omission by inventing his own prophecy. He relates that Jesus went to live in Nazareth ” …that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). There is no such prophecy in any Jewish scripture but, as the writer must have known, it would be almost impossible for his readers to disprove his assertion that there was. Even those who could read did not have access to the scriptures, because they were not available for public reference. Other purported prophecies do not exist either. For example Mark 14:49 and Matthew 26:56 refer to a prophecy concerning Jesus” arrest, but no such prophecy exists.

Early writers were keen to match New Testament events with Old Testament prophecies. This is especially true of the author of Matthew, who was writing for a Jewish audience. He frequently notes that Jesus did things in order to fulfil the scriptures. The fact that he wrote in Greek also provided scope for errors. The Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) contained errors of translation that could be picked up and incorporated into the New Testament by anyone arranging events to match prophecies. The story of the Virgin Birth, found in Matthew 1:23, as we shall see later, depends upon a mistranslation of Isaiah 7:14. The passage should read:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel

But in the Septuagint the word for “young woman” is mistranslated as “virgin”, and this Greek mistranslation has been picked up in creating a retrospective gospel prophecy. Incidentally there was another difficulty with this prophecy. Mary named her child not Immanuel, as required by the prophecy, but Jesus. Not to be discouraged, Christians sometimes refer to Jesus as Immanuel anyway, especially at Christmas time when the passage from Isaiah is quoted, providing another good example of how events can be manipulated to give the impression that a prophecy has been fulfilled. There is no reason to suppose that if the prophecy had been about someone called Darren, then Christians could be referring to Jesus as Darren with equal facility each Christmas.

Most Christians are oblivious to the fact that Jesus was in no sense prophesized by any previous scriptural authors, or that an elaborate campaign of artifice was conducted to create the appearance that he had been. This fact alone disqualifies Christianity as being the legitimate heir of the Jewish religion.

(2634) Joseph of Arimathea origin

Scholars have puzzled over the figure of Joseph of Arimathea, who in the Gospel of Mark, and subsequently plagiarized gospels, asks permission from Pontius Pilate to retrieve the body of the crucified Jesus and bury him in a tomb that he owned. One of the problems is that there is no historical reference to a place called Arimathea. Second, it is highly unlikely that permission would have been granted to take down a body from a crucifixion in the first hours as they normally would remain on the cross for at least a week.  Third, Joseph appears out of nowhere, not mentioned previously [the Gospel of John (19:38) tries to explain this by saying that Joseph was a ‘secret’ disciple because he ‘feared the Jewish leaders’- though this request would appear to have defeated that purpose].

The most likely truth is that Joseph of Arimathea is a fictional character invented by the author of the Gospel of Mark. And there is good reason to conclude that Mark used a scripture from the Book of Genesis to similarly fashion his narrative:

Genesis 50:4-7

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, “If I have found favor in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ ”

Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

So Joseph went up to bury his father.

The CHRESTUS Jesus historicity/mythicism app written by Richard Carrier and run by Godless Engineer


– The town Joseph the burier of Jesus is said to have come from in the Gospels. The town is probably fictional. No such is known from any other source. And the word means in Greek “best-disciple-town” or “town of the best teaching.” Joseph of Arimathea is thus made to act in a way representative of being a good disciple or following the teachings correctly: he faithfully gives Jesus a burial in accordance with the Law of God, after everyone else has abandoned him. Joseph is probably fictional (OHJ, pp. 371-72, 438-39). Not only does he come from the “town of the best teaching,” but he is described by Mark as “a prominent councilmember,” which words in Greek also mean “one who makes good decisions.” He is modeled on another “Joseph” the burier: the Patriarch, who asks Pharaoh for permission to bury Jacob (Gen. 50:4-6), just as Mark’s Joseph asks Pilate for permission to bury Jesus. And his account also has prominent similarities to another such story in Homer, the account of Priam claiming the body of Hector (pp. Dennis MacDonald, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, pp. 154-61)

Mark likely acquired the name of Joseph from this scripture as well as the basic plot line of him asking permission of an authority figure to bury the deceased. This is another reason to conclude that Mark was not writing history but rather a novel that was devised as propaganda for the new fledgling cult of Christians.

(2635) Andronicus

There is a strange disconnect between a personal greeting that Paul afforded his friend Andronicus in the following scripture and the fact that this person is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.

Romans 16:7

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

The following is a quote from Dr. Richard Carrier:

Andronicus. Someone renowned from among the Apostles, whom Paul mentions in Romans 16:7 (OHJ, o.524). He is never mentioned anywhere else (neither in Paul, nor in the Gospels or Acts). Paul tells us he was converted to Christianity before Paul, may have been an actual relative of Paul’s (since a cultic or metaphorical meaning is less likely here); was jailed with Paul either literally or figuratively; and was either an Apostle or someone very well known among the Apostles. It’s strange he is unknown to the authors of the Gospels and Acts. And it’s very interesting if he is actually a kinsman of Paul’s, as that would mean Paul’s own relatives were converting to Christianity, possibly even becoming Apostles, before he did. In the same passage, Paul says all the same is true of Junia (in which case a woman) or Junias (in which case a man).

The CHRESTUS Jesus historicity/mythicism app written by Richard Carrier and run by Godless Engineer


The fact that Andronicus was left out of any mention in all four gospels and Acts is an indicator that these books were not intended to be accurate accounts of history, but rather allegorical tales aimed at delivering a spiritual message. Christianity obviously suffers whenever evidence such as this suggests that its foundation documents are not rooted in historical accuracy.

(2636) Resurrection was a slowly evolving doctrine

It should worry Christians that the doctrine of resurrection was not something that Yahweh promoted from the beginning of his interaction with humans, at least as far as scriptures and church history are concerned. Over time, and usually with a direct influence from Greek mythology, belief in resurrection gained traction in Christianity. The following was taken from:


The concept of life after death and resurrection had been unknown to the Jews before they were exposed to Greek influences. This explains why resurrection is mentioned in the Old Testament only in late apocalyptic writings, i.e. around and after the lifetime of Jesus. It also explains why traditionalist Jews such as the Sadducees rejected the concept, as did some early Christians (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:12). The Greek influence explains why other early Christians adopted the view that resurrected bodies would be spherical: resurrected bodies would be perfect, and Plato had described the sphere as the perfect shape.

The gospels relate stories not only of Jesus’ resurrection, but also the resurrection of some dead citizens of Jerusalem. Christians look forward to their own bodily resurrection on the Day of Judgement.

There is no explanation of the doctrine of the Resurrection anywhere in scripture, so Church scholars have had to resort to apocryphal backwaters such as 2 Maccabees, 1 Enoch, and 2 Baruch in order to try to make sense of it. The present doctrine is based on the words of St Paul, especially his account in 1 Corinthians 15. As a Greek Jew, Paul would have known that his gentile target audience would be familiar with the idea of the offspring of a god and a mortal being raised from the dead to become immortal. Herakles (Hercules), Dionysus (Bacchus), Æskelepios (Asclepius), Castor and Orion were all credited with having done it. Roman emperors were ascribed divine fathers, and were almost routinely promoted to gods after their own deaths. The concept of a mortal having been raised from the dead as an immortal thus provided an established model for the doctrine of the Resurrection.

That the doctrine was not accepted by all was acknowledged by Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 15:12. At some stage in the early centuries after Jesus” death, resurrection stories were apparently added to the gospels — not all appear in the earliest known (fourth century) manuscripts. Some early Christians rejected the Resurrection. The Spanish bishop Priscillian, the first Christian in Western Europe to be executed as a heretic, denied both the Resurrection and the Trinity — both of them novel doctrines at the time.The doctrine of the resurrection is now accepted by all the main denominations. It is affirmed in Article 4 of the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church.

It would seem obvious that if Yahweh is the true and only god and that he intended to bring dead people back to life to send to either heaven or hell, that he would have signaled this intention to his chosen people right from the beginning. The fact that resurrection took time to become a belief in the Judeo-Christian tradition is evidence that this dogma is a product of human minds.

(2637) The prodigal son parable is bad theology

In the Gospel of Luke, there is a famous parable about a son who takes his inheritance, spends it on ‘riotous’ living, and returns to his family only because he is need of sustenance. Despite his bad behavior, he is treated with greater honor than is afforded his brother, who was faithful and obedient all the while. This story appears to be more of a self-serving recruitment tool than a message from the divine. The following was taken from:


The tale of the prodigal son is one of the Christian Bible’s most famous parables. But there’s something about it that’s never sat right with me:

“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want… And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant… And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”

—Luke 15:11-32

Even before I became an atheist, this story bothered me. It’s supposed to be a beautiful lesson about forgiveness and redemption, but it’s always been obvious to me that the moral is skewed at best, and at worst outright bad.

What bugs me about this is that the older son was right to be angry. He stayed home, he worked in the fields, he was responsible and prudent, and he got nothing for it. Meanwhile, his brother squandered his entire inheritance on frivolous partying and only came crawling back when he was poor and hungry, and he wasn’t just welcomed, but richly and lavishly rewarded. What kind of message does this send?

If you want people to behave morally, you have to get the incentives straight. It’s certainly allowable to forgive repentant wrongdoers – after all, when people do evil, you should give them some motivation to stop – but shouldn’t we reserve the greatest rewards for people who did the right thing from the beginning? Doing anything else sends the message that what we value most highly isn’t “good all along”, but “evil for as long as you can get away with, then a turn to good as a last resort”.

After all, the prodigal son (and note “prodigal” really means “wasteful”) didn’t come back because he had a sudden epiphany, because he realized his conduct had been greedy and wasteful. No, he came back because he ran out of money and got hungry! In other words, he started to feel consequences from his irresponsible behavior. That’s the lowest and most self-serving of reasons for regret. It’s like a criminal who only feels sorry because he got caught.

Even when we’re willing to forgive, the wrongdoer should have to put forth some proof that they’ll behave differently in the future, both for their sake and for everyone else’s. The prodigal son said he’d come back even if he had to work as a servant, but that commitment was never put to the test. What lesson did he learn from all this, do you think? If he comes into a second inheritance, is he likely to spend it more wisely, or to blow it all again, knowing that forgiveness will always be waiting down the road?

This is the same flawed religious morality that says you can lead a life of wickedness, be wasteful and thoughtless and greedy, but everything will be OK as long as you repent on your deathbed, even if you never make restitution or apologize to the people you’ve harmed. And the flipside of this is that God doesn’t care about good works, so trying to be an honest and compassionate person is just wasted effort if you haven’t uttered the proper magic words.

This forgiveness-for-free mentality is prevalent in our politics and our culture. It’s what allows preachers, professional sex scolds and family-values politicians who go through multiple divorces and affairs, or get caught covering up other misdeeds, to survive. They may issue a blubbering apology, maybe resign or step back from public life for a while, but then inevitably announce that they’ve been forgiven and that they’re better people for it. And more often than not, they’re welcomed back with open arms by their pious colleagues. It’s a moral narrative that doesn’t just allow for, but actively expects, misdeeds and hypocrisy.

This parable is bad theology, not consistent with any claim of divine inspiration. It teaches that poor behavior is rewarded rather than something for which recompensation is required. Instead of regaling the prodigal son, the father should have accepted him back on a provisional basis until he could have earned back the money he had squandered and restored the trust that he had undermined. It appears that the authorial motivation for this story was to lower the bar for gathering new recruits. At the time it was written, numbers were probably more important than quality to the fledgling faith.

(2638) The towering father figure

When we were babies and little children, we looked up (literally) at our father, who by our estimate was all-powerful, as he towered over us. He protected us, guided us, punished us, and cared for us. This image was imprinted deeply into our subconscious psyche. But as we became older, the image began to fade. We gradually started to see our father as being on the same level as ourselves, realizing that he has limitations and faults, and is not so powerful as we had once thought.

But here is where the church comes to the rescue.  It claims that a mighty celestial father looms over us, loving us, protecting us, punishing us –and bingo – the subconscious image flares back to life and believers say: “Yes, yes, it’s true.” In effect, they are actually worshiping a substitute parent to their biological father. They once again experience the warm, comforting feeling of being protected, loved, and cared for in what otherwise feels like a dangerous and uncertain world.

This theory is credited to Sigmund Freud, who saw religion as taking advantage of the human need for security and safety, as well as reactivating the infantile fatherly image that remains in the recesses of our cerebral limbic system. It is hard-wired in our brains, and it takes a lot of effort to work through it and come out on the other side with a clear mind, capable of assessing our place in the cosmos with an objective view of the facts and evidence.

Religion wants to keep us as children. Atheism is about growing up.

(2639) Social trinitarianism

Most Christian denominations teach and require its followers to believe that God is composed of three personages- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This has important implications for two reasons- it confirms the divinity of Jesus, and it provides important credentials for the accuracy of the Bible-  claiming that it was inspired by a supernatural being (the Spirit). Without the trinity, Jesus becomes a regular human like Elijah and the Bible becomes suspect, especially considering its turbulent history.

But if the trinity is true theology, it would be essential that it was taught  and forcefully emphasized by the original apostles, including Paul, and the persons who wrote the New Testament. This is not what happened. The following was taken from:



For the purpose of this argument, Social Trinitarianism (ST) is defined by the set of propositions:

  • God is one being existing as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit
  • Each of the persons has a complete set of essential divine attributes
  • The Son (who God exists as) is the same person as Jesus of Nazareth

My argument is a response to the claim:

The first century apostles required Christians to believe ST

I realize that not all Christians believe ST, and not all believers in ST believe the first century apostles believed ST or required other Christians to believe ST.


  1. The apostles taught requirements for Christian faith in their writings
  2. Their writings in the bible are sufficient to ascertain those requirements
  3. Their writings in the bible do not explicitly teach ST
  4. Their writings in the bible do not imply ST in a compelling way
  5. Therefore the apostles did not require Christians to believe ST

To falsify premise 3, one must identify one or more places in the NT where the authors teach ST by describing it as defined above. This self-evidently cannot be done.

To falsify premise 4, one must provide an argument for ST with premises that are solely supported by NT teachings and/or common background knowledge. The argument must also be derivable in a compelling way, such that a reader could honestly claim the apostles unambiguously required them to believe ST, as opposed to some permutation of the above definition. For the teaching to be compelling, it must be obvious, and there must be no significant ambiguities or confounding factors raising doubts as to the intentions of the apostles. A hypothetical example of an uncompelling way would be if a secret code were found in the NT that taught ST.


Many modern church leaders require Christians believe ST for church membership and involvement in ministry. If my argument is successful, such a requirement cannot be based on the teaching of the first century apostles, and an alternative basis must be used.

It is clear that social trinitarianism is a concept that would have been rejected by First Century Christians. This means that a critical component of Christian theology is an evolved concept devised by those who were not (1) Jesus, (2) his disciples, or (3) the authors who wrote the New Testament (allegedly with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.) The concept of the trinity can therefore be rejected out of hand, and with that much of Christian theology can be relegated to the bin of mythology.

(2640) The most damaging Bible verses

One theory for assessing a holy book for its divine imprimatur is whether its contents redound to the betterment of humanity or else to its detriment. In the following example, verses from two parables located in the Gospel of Luke were used by Christians to foment centuries of unspeakable horrors upon millions of people:


 Luke 14:23 – The parable of the great feast
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges,
and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

Luke 19:27 The parable of the unprofitable servant
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

These two verses caused more suffering that any other verses of the Bible. Augustine, taking the parable of the great supper as his cue, claimed it was acceptable to use force to cause heretics to renounce their heresies and rejoin the orthodox Catholic Church. This lead to centuries of forced conversions, heresy hunts, inquisitions, crusades such as against Cathars, Hussites, pagan nations of the Baltics, Poland, religious wars, conquistadors and more.

If God wrote these verses, and it is Catholic and Fundagelical claims God indeed write or inspire them, God must have known these verses, these parables would cause all of this. God gets the blame for what followed, from theologians like Augustine and Aquinas.

“With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the
side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death.”
– Thomas Aquinas

An all-knowing god would have been able to predict the consequences of how biblical verses would be interpreted by future Christians and to have fashioned his holy scriptures in a way to preclude these same persons from committing atrocities on their fellow humans. The fact that these verses were used in a way that inflicted immense misery and death on innocent people indicates that they were written without heavenly guidance. This is counter-evidence to the claim that the Bible is divinely inspired.

(2641) Blood-liquefying miracle

The following story in the Italian press, intended to be faith-promoting, reveals many facets of the Christian faith that are actually faith-damaging:


Rome Newsroom, Sep 19, 2020 / 05:59 am MT (CNA).- The blood of early Church martyr St. Januarius liquified in Naples Saturday, repeating a miracle dating at least to the 14th century.

The blood was declared to have turned from solid to liquid at 10:02 am in the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary Sept. 19, the feast of St. Januarius.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, announced the news to a mostly empty cathedral, due to coronavirus restrictions.

“Dear friends, dear all the faithful, once again with joy and emotion I inform you that the blood of our holy martyr and patron St. Januarius has liquefied,” Sepe said.

His words were received by an applause from those present inside and outside the cathedral.

Sepe added that the blood had “completely liquefied, without any clots, which has happened in past years.”

The miracle is “a sign of God’s love, goodness, and mercy, and of the closeness, the friendship, the fraternity of our St. Januarius,” the cardinal stated, adding “Glory be to God and veneration to our saint. Amen.”

St. Januarius, or San Gennaro in Italian, is the patron saint of Naples. He was bishop of the city in the third century, and his bones and blood are preserved in the cathedral as relics. He is believed to have been martyred during the Christian persecution of Emperor Diocletian.

The liquefaction of St. Januarius’ blood happens at least three times per year: the saint’s feast day of Sept. 19, the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and Dec. 16, which is the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The reputed miracle has not been officially recognized by the Church, but is known and accepted locally and is considered to be a good sign for the city of Naples and its region of Campania.

Let’s unpack this issue by issue:

(1) If this miracle has been occurring three times per year for the past 700 years, why has no one bothered to assemble a team of scientists to witness and document it, thereby extending by orders of magnitude its faith-promoting power?

(2) Why would God perform the miracle in an empty cathedral for no one to witness it- simply because he failed to answer prayers about the pandemic?

(3) Why do the people of Naples accept the miracle when the Church itself has not recognized it? If it was a true miracle, wouldn’t it be recognized by the Church?

(4) What is more likely- (a) God is performing this miracle, (b) people are lying about it, or (c) it is a stunt performed with heat and a red substance?

(5) Isn’t it a condemnation rather than a complement for God to perform this party trick rather than answer prayers of critical need?

(6) Given the particulars, the peoples’ belief that this is an actual miracle is a modern-day example of how easy it is to fool people and to have them accept that a miracle has occurred. This would have been even easier in biblical days.

Christianity would be much more believable if it abstained from alleging such petty ‘miracles.’

(2642) Science always defeats religion

It should be uncontroversial to admit that every time that there has been a conflict between religion and science, science has eventually come out on top. Science is not perfect but it has a built-in self-correcting mechanism that fine tunes it to be more accurate and precise as time moves on. Religion, on the other hand, is hamstrung by its dogma such that mistakes are carried deep into the future. The following was taken from:


The historic war between science and religion began in Ancient Greece, and it still roils more than two millennia later. Science has won every encounter, yet supernatural believers won’t surrender.

Classical Greece teemed with magical faith. Multitudes of animals were sacrificed to a bizarre array of invisible gods who supposedly lived atop Mount Olympus. Throngs gave money to oracles who allegedly conveyed messages from the gods. Even “sacred wars” were fought over wealth accumulated by oracle shrines.

Amid all this mumbo-jumbo, a few wise thinkers began seeking natural explanations, not supernatural ones. It was the birth of science – but it was risky, because believers killed nonbelievers.

Anaxagoras (500-428 BCE) taught that the sun and moon are natural objects, not deities. He was sentenced to death for impiety, but escaped into exile.

Protagoras (490-420 BCE) said he didn’t know whether gods exist – so he was banished from Athens. His writings were burned, and he drowned while fleeing at sea.

The most famous martyr was Socrates (470-399 BCE), who was sentenced to death for offenses including “not worshiping the gods worshiped by the state.”

Through centuries, believers often killed scientific thinkers, but science always proved correct.

Hypatia (c. 360-415 CE), a brilliant woman who headed Alexandria’s famed library of knowledge, was beaten to death by Christian followers of St. Cyril.

Physician Michael Servetus (c. 1510-1553) – the first to learn that blood flows from the heart to the lungs and back – was burned in John Calvin’s Puritanical Geneva for doubting the Trinity.

Bruno Giordano (1548-1600) was burned by the Holy Inquisition for teaching that Earth circles the sun, and the universe is infinite. Science pioneer Galileo narrowly escaped the same fate for somewhat the same reason, but was sentenced to house arrest for life.

By the time that Charles Darwin (1809-1882) perceived evolution, western religion mostly had lost the power to kill nonconformists. His great breakthrough unleashed a religion-vs-science battle that still rages today. It caused the notorious “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee in 1925, and still flares when fundamentalists try to ban evolution from public school science courses. They contend that a supernatural father-creator made all species in modern form about 6,000 years ago – while science proves that life goes back vastly further, and that new species evolved from former ones. Evolution has become the bedrock of modern biology.

The struggle between science and religion also arises when some strong believers let their children die because – trusting promises by Jesus that prayer will cure disease – they refuse to get medical help.

Nowadays, nearly everyone realizes that science is a colossal boon to humanity, curing disease, eliminating drudgery, advancing knowledge, opening worldwide communications and generally making life better. In 1900, the average lifespan was just 48 years, but now it’s near 80, thanks mostly to medical improvements. In contrast, religion gives the world little, and Islamic extremism causes constant slaughter.

Science wins every showdown, constantly undercutting religion’s supernatural dogmas. World-renowned biologist Richard Dawkins says faith “subverts science and saps the intellect.” Luckily, it’s still losing the war between science and religion.

All religion has to do is to demonstrate that it is right where science is wrong, just once, and the entire debate would shift with earth-shattering speed. This has never happened, and it appears that it never will. Religion is a sitting duck taking shots as science surrounds it with guns ablazing.

(2643) Worshiping a monster

Christians not only believe in Yahweh, they also are trained to worship him. Worship is defined as ‘the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.’ There are three stages of ways a human can interact with a deity- (1) belief in its existence, (2) respect of its authority and power, and (3) love and worship.  Christians go all the way to #3, while a skeptic would not go past #2 even if the existence of Yahweh was definitively proven. The reason for this is that Yahweh, whether fictional or actual, is a monster. The following was taken from:


Exodus 12 says God killed thousands of Egyptian children at Passover, “and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a home where there was not one dead.”

Genesis 19 says God burned residents of Sodom and Gomorrah alive, presumably including babies and children.

Genesis 6-8 says God drowned all people and animals on Earth except those on Noah’s ark.

Repeatedly, God told Jews to massacre neighbor tribes. For example, in 1 Samuel 15, God commands Hebrew soldiers: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

In various other verses, God orders similar slaughter, adding: “Thine eye shall not pity.” Numbers 31 does so regarding Midianites, with Moses commanding: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

In Exodus 31:15, God decrees: “Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” Exodus 35:2 is almost identical.

In Deuteronomy 22, God commands that brides who aren’t virgins must be taken to their fathers’ doorsteps and stoned to death.

Some Bible verses instruct how to buy and sell slaves. Leviticus 25:44 says: “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.” Exodus 21:7 gives rules when “a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant.”

Leviticus 20:13 says gay males “shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (But lesbians aren’t mentioned.)

Strangely, every Christian church claims that God is all-loving, all-merciful, all-compassionate. No church mentions that the Bible depicts him as a monster. Evidently he’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

How can churchgoers pray to a heavenly father with a scripture record of ferocious murder? How can they worship a monster?

Of course, we skeptics are fairly sure that no deity – neither Jekyll nor Hyde – exists. He’s apparently a concoction of the human imagination.

Christians are brainwashed to worship a figure who by any other account would evoke feelings of disgust and hate. Anybody standing outside the bubble can see this as an interesting, but pathetic, dynamic. Christians are like robots, programmed to worship mindlessly the most evil entity in the universe.

(2644) Resurrection is not the proof test of Christianity

Many Christian apologists assert that if the resurrection of Jesus can be established as an historical fact, then this proves that Christianity is the one true religion. This is a false premise. The following was taken from:


All Jesus rising from the dead really shows is that he had some supernatural power or was backed by a being that did (some god or demon). It certainly doesn’t follow that only the God of the universe could have raised him, and certainly not that he was God, regardless of what he or his followers claimed. Jesus’ resurrection provides no for the existence of Hell or Heaven, a final judgment. It also doesn’t provide evidence for his normative claims; that Jesus was/is good, that the deity he served was/is good or all-powerful, etc.

All of those things have to be established before the truth of Christianity can be asserted, and the resurrection does nothing to demonstrate them.

Even in Jesus’ own day people accused him of being in league with demons, and while he obviously denied this, I don’t think it was ever conclusively disproven. And furthermore, even if he was raised by a being that calls itself ‘Jehovah’ and was the god of the Jews, his resurrection does not show that this being is who he claims to be (that is, the one true God).

Because we live in an existence that appears to be devoid of supernaturalism, the resurrection of a person conclusively proven to have died would be earth-shattering news and would turn the world of science upside down.  In the case of Jesus, the scriptures indicate that he was resurrected approximately 36 hours after he was taken down off of the cross. This leaves open the possibility that had had not actually died and then later he revived through natural means. But even if we discount that possibility, there remains obstacles to the proof of Christianity.

Here we step through the most likely possibilities:

1) Jesus was a fictional being.

2) Jesus was crucified but was buried as a normal crucifixion victim and the tableau of resurrection was based solely on visions of his followers.

3) Jesus did not die on the cross and revived naturally, producing the appearance of a resurrection.

4) Jesus revived from the dead through supernatural means, but the source was other than the Christian god.

5) Jesus revived from the dead though the power of the Christian god.

Christians discount the first four possibilities and jump directly to #5, although there is insufficient evidence to discount #s 1, 2, 3 and 4. Atheists accept that #1, #2, and #3 are strong possibilities, but are stringently skeptical of #4 and #5.

What is interesting is that both atheists and Christians reject #4, as if it should not even be on the list. The idea that there could be a supernatural being or force unrelated to Judeo-Christianity should not be dismissed out of hand. It is one additional barrier that makes it that much harder to demonstrate that Christianity is the one true religion.

(2645) Mark’s supernaturalism supports Jesus mythicism

If we assume that Jesus was a real, but just a regular, human, then we would expect that the first writings of him would include fewer miraculous claims than later ones, assuming that the mythology surrounding him would have grown over time. However, if he was a fictional person, then most likely the initial description would show him to be miraculous ‘right out of the gate.’ This assumes an author creating a fictional person would have no reason to hold back in making such a figure as spectacular as possible. This is exactly what we see in the first gospel written, Mark. The following was taken from:


O’Neill claims we have a more human Jesus in Mark and a more divine Jesus in John and that this is the opposite of what we should expect on mythicism. But that’s incorrect. Jesus in Mark never behaves like a human: even when he isn’t doing works of wonder, he is acting very strangely compared to any real person; moreover, he is a supernatural being from the very start, parting the very heavens, defeating the Devil, and he continues as such in every subsequent chapter. If you count up incredible events, and divide by number of words, there actually is no greater miraculism in any other Gospel. The rate of the amazing per thousand words is the same, or as near enough as makes no statistically significant difference.

Mark’s miracle-infused depiction of Jesus suggests that either he was the divine person that Christians claim, or else he was a fictional character created by the author. It deemphasizes the probability that he was a real but fully human individual, in which case we would have expected a more down to earth initial biography. Given the above and that there are so many ridiculous miracle stories in Mark, such as Jesus teleporting about with Satan and directing demons into swine, it tends to suggest that the most probable truth is that Jesus was a fictional person.

(2646) Religion is absurd

It takes a sustained abstinence from logic to maintain a belief in religion. As explained in the following, any analysis taken to its endpoint will reveal that religion is absurd:


To be religious is just not a sensible stand point.

It’s accepting a story that does not make a lot of sense.

That an eternal multi-dimensional being that is billions of years old and able to magically manipulate matter and energy and exists eternally created the entire universe in its vastness all for a single tiny planet one among billions of billions and sent a single human to a tiny part of this world to represent this all powerful being that hosts power of the energy realm of afterlife and that our “souls” travel to a paradise after death.

This is simply absurd. As is the idea of invisible spirts that meddle in our lives or cause natural events because of gays.

It’s like believing that your football team will win or lose if you watch the game or wear a green hat.

If god existed we would all know it to our very bones it would be part of who we are. This is not the case.

Humanity has desperately struggled to understand itself and the world around it. God has always been the idiots answer.

What we do have is madness, delusion, mental instability, and a fraudulent manipulative system called religion and quite a lot of religions that all disagree with each other. As well as disagreeing with themselves.

It’s not surprising in the least that people adhering to these falsehoods are desperate to validate them.

The earth’s inhabitants are hamstrung by ancient mythologies that continue to cause division, war, discrimination, the retardation of science and social progress, and the despoiling of our fragile environment. It takes only a few minutes of clear thinking to realize this fact. Yet, the scam continues, to the profit of those who have the most to gain.

(2647) Why anti-abortion Christians are ungodly

Although this is not a direct reason to conclude that Christianity is false, it does touch on the idea that a true religion would likely motivate its followers to address social issues in a manner that worked for the greater good of humanity. The anti-abortion crusade of hard-core Catholics and evangelicals represents a counter example to this theory. The following essay explains why:

The unborn are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; chy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn…

You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

-Dave Barnhart, Christian Minister

Humans can be excused for taking illogical tangents in how they express their religious sensibilities, but a true deity seeing this play out would likely take measures to reign in these people and realign their energies to focus on what is really important.

(2648) Chresto/Christus not Jesus; Chrestians not Christians

Because of the embarrassing dearth of non-biblical references to Jesus, Christian apologists have spotlighted two tangential ones written by Roman historians Suetonius (69-122) and Tacitus (56-120), neither of whom were alive during the alleged time of Jesus. Both of these historians referred to a Jewish uprising in Rome that caused these Jews to be expelled from the city. Suetonius referred to a man named Chresto and Tacitus to a man named Christus who formed the band of followers that were expelled. The question is whether Chresto/Christus was same as Jesus of the gospels, or somebody else, as these names were quite common at the time. This has implications for estimating whether Jesus was a real or mythical person.

Dr. Richard Carrier has argued that these references are actually referring to a person different from Jesus, rather a man who likely lived in Rome for at least some portion of his life (and therefore could not have been Jesus). According to Carrier, these references do not establish an historical Jesus and therefore should not be used in defense of that assumption.

Dr. Carrier’s arguments are summarized here:


The following provides some additional background on Suetonius and Tacitus:


The Roman historian Suetonius (c. AD 69 – c. AD 122) mentions early Christians and may refer to Jesus Christ in his work Lives of the Twelve Caesars.[1][2][3] One passage in the biography of the Emperor Claudius Divus Claudius 25, refers to agitations in the Roman Jewish community and the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius during his reign (AD 41 to AD 54), which may be the expulsion mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (18:2). In this context “Chresto” is mentioned. Some scholars see this as a likely reference to Jesus, while others see it as referring to an otherwise unknown person living in Rome.[4][5][6]

Christians are explicitly mentioned in Suetonius’ biography of the Emperor Nero (Nero 16) as among those punished during Nero’s reign.[7] These punishments are generally dated to around AD 64,[8] the year of the Great Fire of Rome. In this passage Suetonius describes Christianity as excessive religiosity (superstitio) as do his contemporaries, Tacitus and Pliny.[2]


Some scholars have debated the historical value of the passage given that Tacitus does not reveal the source of his information.[55] Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz argue that Tacitus at times had drawn on earlier historical works now lost to us, and he may have used official sources from a Roman archive in this case; however, if Tacitus had been copying from an official source, some scholars would expect him to have labeled Pilate correctly as a prefect rather than a procurator.[56] Theissen and Merz state that Tacitus gives us a description of widespread prejudices about Christianity and a few precise details about “Christus” and Christianity, the source of which remains unclear.[57] However, Paul Eddy has stated that given his position as a senator Tacitus was also likely to have had access to official Roman documents of the time and did not need other sources.[24]

Michael Martin states that the authenticity of this passage of the Annals has also been disputed on the grounds that Tacitus would not have used the name “Christos”, derived from “messiah”, [58] while others have questioned if the passage represents “some modernizing or up-dating of the facts” to reflect the Christian world at the time the text was written.[59]

Weaver notes that Tacitus spoke of the persecution of Christians, but no other Christian author wrote of this persecution for a hundred years.[60] Brent Shaw has argued that Tacitus was relying on Christian and Jewish legendary sources that portrayed Nero as the Antichrist for the information that Nero persecuted Christians and that in fact no persecution under Nero took place.[42]

Scholars have also debated the issue of hearsay in the reference by Tacitus. Charles Guignebert argued that “So long as there is that possibility [that Tacitus is merely echoing what Christians themselves were saying], the passage remains quite worthless”.

The fact that Christian apologists are having to emphasize these ambiguous references to establish that Jesus was a real person shows their desperation. If Jesus was as described in the gospels, there should be mountains of historical documents establishing that fact. Their absence strongly suggests that Jesus might have been a mythical figure.

(2649) Blasphemy punishment

The Church invented the ‘sin’ of blasphemy in order to corral the populace into a unified belief system, such as to establish a monopoly over competing belief systems. This ensured that they captured a maximum amount of wealth and power. The penalty for blasphemy was death as dictated by the scriptures, but as time went on, administering capital punishment for blasphemy became less and less frequent and has essentially become extinct today. This change is a tacit admission that the scriptures are in error, and that the penalty for blasphemy did not come from God. The following was taken from:


The term blasphemer was applied to anyone who disagreed with the current line taken by the Church hierarchy. Blasphemers were liable to a range of punishments that tended to stop them repeating their offence. For trivial cases they had their lips cut off, or were burned through the tongue, or had their tongue cut out, or torn out. For more serious cases they could also be sentenced to a quick death (execution) or a slow one (imprisonment on a diet of bread and water). St Thomas Aquinas regarded blasphemers as heretics, and heretics as blasphemers. For him heresy and blasphemy amounted to the same thing. Like a long line of influential theologians before him, stretching back to St Augustine, he advocated the death penalty for offenders, and this was the prevailing view of Protestant as well as Roman Catholic scholars. The consensus was that there was no choice in the matter because God had been explicit:

And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.
Leviticus 24:16

The limited nature of the biblical definition of blasphemy was ignored completely, while the point was taken to be that to ignore blasphemy would be contrary to the word of God, and therefore a sin in itself. Many Christians advocated death for blasphemers by stoning, in accordance with Leviticus, but the law never adopted this method of execution, despite its being advocated by bishops and judges. Stoning was, however, frequently adopted by crusaders and other Christian mobs, who tended to have more trust in the Bible’s requirements.

The biblical penalty for blasphemy was stoning to death.
Leviticus 24:14: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him.”

Since anyone who disagreed with the Church was necessarily guilty of blasphemy, and therefore liable to the death penalty, there were few people who would voluntarily come forward to declare themselves. There were however, over the centuries, a number of people who were insane, or mentally deficient, or in receipt of revelation from gods other than the Christian one, who made blasphemous statements and paid with their lives. There were also few people who were so young, sheltered and innocent that they did not understand the consequences of speaking honestly in a traditional Christian society, until it was too late.

In December 1696, an 18-year-old medical student at Edinburgh University called Thomas Aikenhead was indicted for blasphemy. The indictment read:

That … the prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras: That he ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables; That he railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magick in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles: That he called the New Testament the history of the impostor Christ; That he said Moses was the better artist and the better politician; and he preferred Muhammad to Christ: That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them: That he rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation; and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.

He was not permitted legal counsel and despite recanting was condemned to death. He appealed, but on 7 January, 1697, the Privy Council ruled that they would not grant a reprieve unless the church interceded for him. The Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, sitting in Edinburgh at the time, urged “vigorous execution” to curb “the abounding of impiety and profanity in this land”. The sentence was therefore confirmed. There seems to have been no legal basis for the sentence, but the lad swung from the gibbet anyway, the last person in Britain to be executed by the State for his religious beliefs.

Christians should be concerned that a scriptural prescription for adjudicating blasphemy is no longer being followed. This means one of two things- either the blasphemy death penalty did not come from God, or that humans have developed a morality that is superior to God.

(2650) Christianity’s eternity problem

The Christian concept of eternity runs into a dead end when you contemplate how it would work in hell. The following drives this point home:


Also keep in mind that humans get at most approx. 100 years or so to even live on Earth, so at best, they have roughly a century of experiences to deal with, overcome and use in determining their “eternal” fate.


Year 1: Hell is awful. Bugs flowing into your nostrils, you’re on fire, atrocities are committed and you’re constantly harmed/scared/etc.

Year 100: Hell is awful. A century of bugs in nostrils, a century on fire, atrocities are committed…you feel awful because yeah, your 100 year lifespan on Earth being evil surely warrants this.

Year 1000: Hell is awful. Ten centuries of bugs, fire and fear sucks. You were a serial killer on Earth. You killed so many. 1000 years of pain seems right.

Year 100,000,000: Hell is awful been awful for 100 million years. But you were a crazed dictator and killed millions while alive. 100,000,000 years of pain for millions of deaths is appropriate. You understand why you are so severely punished.

Year 1 billion: At this point you don’t even remember a sliver of what you did in your Earthly live. Even if you could, 100 years out of a billion is like a drop in the ocean. Even if the punishment is fitting of the crime, the time removed from the event lessens the punishment. If you truly can recall a billion years of memories clearly, then 100 years of evil is the blink of an eye. If you can only remember the current torture you’re in, than you can’t possibly understand the torture is a direct result of what you did while alive, against God.

Year 100 billion: The bugs, fires, atrocities, etc. are just everyday events now. They are unpleasant, but for 100 billion years (as long as you can recall) they’ve been that way. However you aren’t the same person you were at year 1. The mere fact that you feel you more than paid your debt on Earth implies you’ve grown as an individual. You still suffer, sure. You still are in fear, sure. The fire never ceases, sure. But your memories remain (because if they don’t, the punishment would be utterly pointless), therefore if you are more than you were at the start of Hell, over vast periods of time, you’d become better and better. And while Hell is meant to be ultimately eternal separation from God, you are finding that like while on Earth (when separated from God), you can sometimes feel okay vs. always feeling awful. That would imply feeling/comfort has little to do with God. You aren’t hoping for something better, just like you didn’t hope for something better on Earth. And if God is constantly pressing the bug/fire/etc. button for 100 billion years or longer, that means there is actually no eternal separation, it’s simply one-way glass where he’s being excessively cruel over trillions of years and longer for events that happened over 100 years, on a planet soaking in sin … (and that makes little sense for 100 years of evil when many factors likely altered your life/decision making [for instance, you may have still been a murderer, but maybe you just killed a neighbor vs. genocide on a global scale]).

Surely an omnipotent deity would exercise proportional punishment, if indeed it would have any desire to bring dead people back to life for that purpose. The Christian concept of eternity in hell is so far out of balance with reality that it surely is a concept invented by humans.