(2651) Religion perverted our innate sense of morality
Religious persons often claim that without religion humans would be bereft of morality, but in truth, morality existed well before the creation of religions, and, to be brutally precise, religion not only did not improve our pre-existing morality, it actually made it worse. The following was taken from:
Maybe, after all, religion isn’t the way to go, to work out morality.
“The moral impulse that allows us to make decisions for the common good, to not hoard all the food for ourselves while others starve, is essential to every social species, not only Homo Sapiens. We imparted this morality to religion. Religion did not give it to us. We had it long before it ever occurred to us to explain the world around us by imagining supernatural beings.” So says Lyn Gerry in her new book, Morality Made Me an Atheist: Calling BS on William Barr, the Attorney General of the United States of America. (page 9, Kindle)
In fact, secular ethicists have been thinking and writing about morality for centuries, precisely because imagined supernatural beings haven’t done a very good job explaining morality to us—as the Dan Barker quote illustrates. But many Christian thinkers don’t see the problem, and deny that we can be moral without God. Of course, the more strident among them are pretty sure they know the mind of God, and are committed to telling the rest of us.
And here were are in this annus horribilis, 2020, confronted with uber Christians who want to replace democracy with theocracy. Because only that will save us. Thus first-time author Lyn Gerry, fully alarmed, was spurred to write her book.
“All my life I’ve been surrounded by people who believe, or say they do. They insist that one must believe in order to be moral, but they themselves are so immoral. They insist that religion is a moral guide, when many of the things that religions advocate are unjust and cruel, or just plain false.
“For most of my life, I’ve let them go their own way. I have not stood at the doors of their churches and berated them for their hypocrisy. Or, quite frankly, in many cases, chastised them for what can only be described as downright idiocy.
“But they keep coming after me, after all of us, demanding we revere their errors, subject our behavior to their dogma, and lecture us on morality while behaving like sadists and liars. No one is more emblematic of this sort of person than William Barr, the Attorney General of the United States.” (p. 3, Kindle)
Gerry’s book is a welcome addition to the growing library of atheist works, especially as she addresses specifically the threats posed by advocates of theocracy.
But how did she become an atheist? At the outset she mentions God’s impotence in the face of evil; that was a falsifier for her. She asks why God allowed
“…Nazis to murder six million innocent people and try to murder even more, including my mom and grandma? God had the power to stop that, yet he did nothing. Why? I would have. I’d even zap the little boys who tried to torture a puppy. Either God wasn’t all powerful, or God was not good. Or, God wasn’t there. I ultimately decided the latter was true. It was morality that made me atheist.” (p. 3, Kindle)
Dan Savage has said he didn’t lose his faith, he saw through it. In her Chapter One, Gerry explains a few of the ways she saw through religious nonsense. She was puzzled, for example, by the Ten Commandments:
“I was old enough to know that when you make a list, number one on a list is the most important. Why wasn’t it the one about murder? Or something about lying? Why was the first commandment, ‘Have no other gods before me.’ Why was that even necessary? Since, as I had been told, there was only one God, why would the commandment refer to other gods? Were there other gods? What were they? How was I to find out?” (p. 13, Kindle)
“Why couldn’t I believe? Why did other people believe? I was willing to believe if only God would talk to me. I prayed and prayed he would. Nothing.” (p. 13, Kindle)
She is also appalled by the excuses offered by believers in the face of suffering. What are they thinking? For example, in the wake of a tornado that wiped out a small town:
“The reporter interviews a survivor who is standing amid the rubble that was once his home, now a total loss. Reverently, he points out the one remaining part of the structure still standing, a post with a cross hanging on it, a sign from God, a miracle. If that is how the Supreme Master of the Universe with the power to control heaven and earth chose to manifest that power, then he is a sadist. The lonely post with the hanging cross is not a miracle, it’s a big fuck you.” (p. 7, Kindle)
I enjoy Gerry’s takedown of theism, but there’s much more in this short book (88 Kindle pages); she analyses the agenda, obsessions, and hang-ups of theocrats. In one chapter we appreciate her scorn for sex being the top focus of their morality:
“If there’s one thing that makes the religious stand out from other people, it’s not extraordinary kindness, nor the renunciation of worldly goods and power. It’s not even the rejection of the pleasures of the flesh. It is the obsession with controlling how other people have sex, who they are having it with, when they do it, what body parts are touching. Sometimes it seems as if those pastors are getting boners just thinking about all that sex they are going to stop other people from enjoying.” (p. 24 Kindle)
Morality exists in the animal kingdom without the benefit of religion. Morality existed among pre-historic humans without the benefit of religion. Religion came along and claimed morality as its special product, but in truth it perverted the innate sense of morals that all humans possess, by defining harmless thoughts and actions as ‘sins’ and enforcing a rigid system of behaviors on believers and non-believers alike. Religion did not create or even improve the moral trajectory of humanity, rather it made it worse.
(2652) Christian cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance (as it relates to religion) is the uneasiness a person of faith experiences when confronted with information that runs counter to their core belief system. It can be defensively ignored or reluctantly acknowledged. In the following, a Christian exercises the latter approach in consideration of the Midian Wars section of the Old Testament (Numbers 31):
Preface, I’m a Christian, but one with an ambivalent relationship with the Old Testament. (I mainly view it as part of the NT prophecy, and I don’t like to take much of any of it as necessary historical truth.)
The Midian Wars section of the OT are the most difficult to reconcile with my belief in an all loving God.
How could God:
1) Demand the slaughter of the ethnic group that Moses himself had married into?
2) Demand that not just all of the men, but all of the non-virgin women and young boys also be killed?
3) Group women into “virgin” and “non-virgin” categories, as though whether or not they’d had sex yet determined whether they are worthy of survival?
4) Enslave the young surviving women?
I’ve read both Jewish and Christian apologists who will say things like, “These girls were just adopted into domestic servitude.”
That isn’t reassuring. I cannot convince myself that a girl who has just been kidnapped and made witness to the genocide of her whole community will be safe or feel safe among the Israeli men that just up and murdered her mother, father, and brothers before determining that she’s a virgin so she gets to live another day.
Everything that we’re supposed to do, teach peace and love, is undermined by a God who orders this.
I am really not trying to be polemical, because I’m Christian myself. But this is something that I cannot wrap my head around.
This letter provides a window into the tension that exists within the minds of many Christians and points out a critical non sequitur- that the communion between a supernatural being and a person should not result in disarrayed feelings of confusion and doubt. An omnipotent deity would have the capability to arrange affairs such that its followers would experience no loss of confidence in its existence, as well as its goodness.
(2653) Paul poured Christianity’s foundation
If Christianity is a house, then the land preparation, basemat, and foundation were all built by single person- Paul. All of his letters precede the gospels and provide up to 90% of the basic theology as well as some of the historical highlights of Jesus’ ministry. This makes it very difficult to separate what Paul might have imagined stemming from his ‘vision of Christ’ from the actual history of the man he alluded to. The following was taken from:
The letters of Paul provide all the essential Christian doctrines, minus any information about a man in Galilee, “Jesus of Nazareth.” These doctrines include:
- the coming “day of the Lord,” i.e. the end of the world (1 Thessalonians, etc.)
- the saving death and resurrection of “the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15)
- baptism into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3)
- the Lord’s Supper celebrating Christ’s death (1 Cor 11:23)
- “the kingdom of God” (eg, 1 Cor 4:20)
- love thy neighbor to fulfill the whole law (Rom 13:9)
- the names Cephas/Simon/Peter, James, and John as other apostles of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1 & 2)
The New Testament itself gives evidence that Paul created a religion based on his own private visions (Gal 1: 12, 1 Cor 9 & 15, 2 Cor 12) of a divine figure that he called “the Lord Jesus Christ.” From the little that Paul says about “Jesus,” it’s not even clear that Jesus is a person distinct from Paul himself (Gal 1:16, “in me”; Gal 3:1; Gal 6:17). For Paul, Jesus is no pretender to the throne of David, crucified in Jerusalem as “king of the Jews,” but an altogether different type of “Christ”: a divine presence within. Hence all his talk about being “in Christ.”
After Paul died, and over many many years, the churches he founded came up with the story of a remembered historical man, “Jesus of Nazareth.” A story told in 4 different ways, all linked to one another, all confirming Paul’s Christianity in its essentials. “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
As time passes, scholars are taking a closer look at the way Paul’s letters might have influenced the gospel authors who, evidently, wrote their stories deliberately in a fashion that dovetailed with what Paul had written. The corollary is simply this- take away Paul and we would likely have had gospels presenting a completely different narrative, or even, and well within the realm of possibility, no gospels at all…meaning that Christianity would not exist.
(2654) Self-awareness problem
Christian theology assumes that a person will retain a memory of their earthly life when they ascend to heaven after death. Otherwise, they could not recognize their loved ones. But not everyone who dies possesses a sense of ‘I’- fetuses and small children. Yet they are considered to be candidates for an automatic ‘no questions asked’ placement in heaven. They would become self-aware for the first time in heaven with no memory of ever being a person on the Earth. The following discusses the stages of human self-awareness.
Bodily self-awareness in human development refers to one’s awareness of their body as a physical object, with physical properties, that can interact with other objects. Tests have shown that at the age of only a few months old, toddlers are already aware of the relationship between the proprioceptive and visual information they receive. This is called first-person self-awareness.
At around 18 months old and later, children begin to develop reflective self-awareness, which is the next stage of bodily awareness and involves children recognizing themselves in reflections, mirrors, and pictures. Children who have not obtained this stage of bodily self-awareness yet will tend to view reflections of themselves as other children and respond accordingly, as if they were looking at someone else face to face. In contrast, those who have reached this level of awareness will recognize that they see themselves, for instance seeing dirt on their face in the reflection and then touching their own face to wipe it off.
Slightly after toddlers become reflectively self-aware, they begin to develop the ability to recognize their bodies as physical objects in time and space that interact and impact other objects. For instance, a toddler placed on a blanket, when asked to hand someone the blanket, will recognize that they need to get off it to be able to lift it. This is the final stage of body self-awareness and is called objective self-awareness.
This is what is known in science as a boundary condition error- where a theory fails to make sense under a certain circumstance. Note that a no-afterlife assumption has a smooth and uninterrupted boundary status- it works no matter who dies or when in life. But a non-self-aware fetus or child dying and then magically appearing in heaven as a first-time self-aware being is nonsensical. They would in effect be ‘born in heaven’ and know of nothing else.
(2655) Atheist out-moralizes Yahweh
The following letter from a person to his parents describing his reasons for leaving Christianity illuminates an irony that sheds light on the bankruptcy of Christian doctrine. Here, and without equivocation, the writer, who by conventional dogma is now bound for hell, expresses a morality that is vastly superior to that of Yahweh, the Christian God:
I have decided to be honest about my change in beliefs, and although I expect that this will be shocking to you, the reason I do so is because I have no desire to be warned about the dangers of hell and of god’s punishment, when I don’t believe in them myself. I am agnostic, and I do not believe in the doctrine of original sin, or in a reward of heaven or punishment of hell. I have no desire to go into any detail about how or why I no longer believe this way, because I know that what I say will be taken as evidence of how far I have “fallen away from God”, and so I see no point in discussing my beliefs. I feel that doing so would only bring more pain for all of us. The only thing I will say on this topic is that my time as a Sunday school teacher opened my eyes to the realities of the Bible and doctrines that I do not agree with, and I could no longer close my eyes and continue to teach and instill such fear and beliefs in small children. I know you hold a completely different perspective of this as you see things “by faith”, and so I won’t go into further detail. However, I would like to ask that my beliefs be respected and that I be left in peace, as I respect the right of those around me to believe the way they wish. Those who believe in a different way do not deserve to be subjected to emotional abuse by being told that they are destined to a place of everlasting torture.
Leaving the church is not a simple or joyous process for the person leaving, and I need time and space. I hope you can gain some peace with my change in beliefs, and remember that they are my beliefs and that you are not at fault in any way for them. The church would have you believe that you have been unsuccessful parents, and places a huge burden of guilt on parents if their children leave the church. This is completely unacceptable, as grown adults are completely responsible for their own actions.
I would also appreciate it if you could consider the fact that often it appears that believers’ pain when their loved ones depart the church appears to be placed on the person leaving the church, as they are considered to be in error. In reality, this pain is not caused by those who leave, but by the beliefs that those in the church hold, that their loved ones are going to a place of everlasting torture. It pains me greatly that religion has destroyed the close bonds our family once had, because some believe that the others are going to hell, and are judgmental about the way in which they live. I can do nothing to change this, because the grip of this religious belief is so all-consuming that it sometimes becomes more important than even familial love.
I love you very much mom and dad, and wish this did not cause you pain, but it is important for me to be honest. The core value that I hold in this life is love, and because I believe that true love and forgiveness are not dependent upon obedience, submission or sacrifice, I can no longer believe the way you do. I believe that if there exists a god who is love, as Christians claim, he will surely understand why I believe that love is not creating or consigning people to a place of eternal torture. Love is the very antithesis of eternal torture. Nor does love require blood sacrifice for sins, but it forgives freely. Love does not come with conditions attached to it. Love forgives freely without conditions.
This letter outshines anything written in the Bible. It represents a higher level of ethics and morality that is somewhat attributable to an evolution of human thought over the past two millennia. Regardless, it leaves the Christian bloodletting death cult in the dust.
(2656) Revenants versus Jesus
Christians like to claim that there is substantial evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, yet, when it comes to revenants (a person who has returned from the dead, usually with nefarious intent), they strongly disbelieve even though the evidence for revenants is more recent and much stronger than the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. The following was taken from:
Christians argue that Christianity is unique among religions in that it has a verifiable miracle as its foundation; that of Jesus of Nazareth being resurrected from the dead. The arguments for this are as follows:
1.) Jesus’ death via crucifixion. This again is well attested from both Biblical and non-Biblical accounts. Considering the shamefulness of this claim it is highly unlikely to be something Early Christians would make up.
2.) Jesus was buried in a tomb which was later discovered to be empty. This issue is the most controversial premises among scholars, but it will be conceded by the author of this paper as the Synoptics and John do teach this.
3.) Postmortem appearances of Jesus. The accounts from 1st Corinthians, Synoptics and John teach this happened.
4.) Conversion of Paul. This is considered important because Paul was hostile to Early Christianity and converted to the movement based on having some sort of encounter with what he believed was the resurrected Jesus.
Christians argue that only the actual resurrection of Jesus can explain the origins of Christianity and that various non resurrection based arguments cannot explain all the data.
The problem with this argument is the saying: “That which proves too much proves nothing”. An example of this fallacy is below:
If someone says, “You can’t be an atheist, because it’s impossible to disprove the existence of God”, you can answer “That argument proves too much. If we accept it, we must also accept that you cannot disbelieve in Bigfoot, since it’s impossible to disprove his existence as well.”
The argument above proved too much, therefore in the end it proved nothing. Another example of this might be as follows:
“It is always wrong to take people’s money or property.”
The problem with this statement is that it disproves the commonly accepted premises that governments have the right to tax people and to confiscate dangerous items from people. It would also disprove the right of someone to take a gun from someone attacking them. It would disprove the right of a parent to take away toys from a misbehaving child.
This argument in the end proves too much, therefore it proves nothing. Thus, the argument is worthless.
The Apologist argument for the resurrection is vulnerable to a similar criticism in that if it can be considered a successful argument for the resurrection of Jesus it would demonstrate dead people can also rise as revenants (vampires), as I will demonstrate below. The evidence for the return of the dead as revenants is at least as good as the resurrection of Jesus, or more than likely, superior to the evidences as used by apologetics. Unless a Christian wishes to concede the existence of revenants they will have to concede their arguments for the resurrection have proven too much, therefore they have proven nothing at all.
A revenant was the corpse of a wicked person who returned from the dead with his consciousness from before death. It would harass people, especially his former family. On occasions it killed people. It was known to spread disease. The corpse would eventually return to its grave and rise again to do these activities until it was destroyed.
The word revenant will be used to describe these case as it comes from the French word revenir which means to return. Hence revenants are ones who have returned from the dead and occupy their now dead corpses which they reanimate. Some of these cases in particular, ones from the Calmet accounts, would be considered vampires by modern people. But in the past when these cases were recorded, people did not think of revenants and vampires as clearly distinct categories.
A corpse coming back into consciousness by a revenir process is in many ways similar to the resurrection, except unlike the resurrection, the body of the revenant continues to decompose except for the efforts of the revenant to prevent this. Both type of cases though involve a body returning to existence through the efforts of super powerful entities, either the deity Yahweh or Satan. Resurrections are clearly done by Yahweh, however revenants can return either by Yahweh as a curse, or by Satan as a way to torment both the revenant and the living.
Cases From the Middle Ages.
William of Newburgh, Walter Map, the Abbot of Burton and others discussed these cases in the Middle Ages. They do not give a cause for these forms of transformed corpses which retain their consciousness, but they vouch for the authenticity of them. All these authors were sober minded writers from their time period who claimed to base their accounts on eyewitness testimony. They are considered to be excellent historians of their time periods.
The listing below will present key cases from the Middle Ages to show how in every way, these cases produce the same evidence for corpses returning from the dead as revenants, just as Christian apologists present for the corpse of Jesus returning in a resurrected state.
Sources to be analyzed:
- 1) William of Newburgh: Berwick Revenantand Levin Revenant
- 2) William of Malmesbury: Witch of Berkeley
- 3) Geoffrey of Burton: Vampires of Drakelow
- 4) Walter Map: Welshman Revenant
- 5 5) Neplach of Opatovice: Shepherd called Myslata
— Berwick Revenant-1198:
Evidence of Death – “having been buried, after his death”, and “horrible carcass.
Empty Grave – “saliied forth… out of his grave by night” and returning to his tomb before daylight”.
Appearances to the living – “pursued by a pack of dogs” and “striking great fear into the neighbors”.
Addendum – After the body was destroyed the commotion ceased.
— Levin Revenant 1198:
Evidence of Death – A certain woman died in Lewin and was buried.
Empty Grave – “she rose”.
Appearances to the living – “she rose and killed many, and ran after whom she pleased”. “When she was transfixed (impaled) blood flowed as if from a living creature” and “after she was impaled she kept rising”.
Additional Sources- Neplach of Opatovice 1344
Addendum- Cremation could only be done by wood from the roof of a church.
— Revenant- Witch of Berkeley from 1140:
Evidence of Death – Her family buried her.
Empty Grave – A devil undid the chains to her coffin.
Appearances to the living – Hooked to a black horse by the devil and her screams could be heard for four miles.
Addendum – Her body was sewn inside a sack and chained up yet she still rose. Priests could not stop her body from being seized.
— Revenant- Vampires of Drakelow from 1090:
Evidence of Death – they were both suddenly struck down dead. Next morning they were placed in wooden coffins and buried.
Empty Grave – The whole following night they walked through the paths and fields of the village, now in the shape of men
Appearances to the living – They spoke to the other peasants, banging on the walls of their houses and shouting to those listening inside “Move quickly move! Get going! Come!”
— Welshman Revenant from 1192:
Evidence of Death – A Welshman of evil life died of late.
Empty Grave- A knight William Laundon fought the revenant in singular combat, drove it back to it’s grave and then destroyed it.
Appearances to the living – after four nights took to coming back every night to the village, and will not desist from summoning singly and by name his fellow-villagers.
A knight William Laundon fought the revenant in singular combat, drove it back to it’s grave and then destroyed it.
Addendum- Bishop instructed the people to “cut the neck through with a spade, and sprinkle the body and the grave well with holy water”. This failed to stop the vampire.
— Revenant- Shepherd called Myslata from 1336:
Evidence of Death – a certain shepherd called Myslata died
Empty Grave – he was exhumed for cremation, he swelled up like an ox and roared terribly
Appearances to the living – Every night he rose and went about every farm in the area and spoke to frighten and kill people. When he had been impaled with a stake, he said: “They hurt me much, as they gave me a staff to defend me from the dogs.” “He swelled up like an ox and roared terribly”.
Addendum- anyone whom he called by name at night, died within eight days.
Each of the sources used for these medieval accounts are considered to be excellent historians or chroniclers of their time period. There is no reason to think that they fabricated these accounts, nor that they were added later by other anonymous writers. Unlike the Gospel accounts whose authorship is disputed and which there is evidence of these accounts having textual editing, the authorship of these sources about revenants is clearly known, and there is no reason to think these accounts came from any other source than that of these highly educated men.
These accounts are independent accounts. These sources are by any measure far superior to the Gospel accounts in every way. Unlike the Gospel accounts they are independent sources as the authors of Matthew and Luke depend on Mark as a source, while John had an awareness of them. If these medieval accounts are not considered good enough to accept the existence of revenants, then the Gospels are not good enough to accept the existence of resurrected people.
These authors are highly educated men of their time period and in fact they display a level of education that is superior to that of Luke and Paul. They are skeptical men unlike Luke and Paul, as William of Newburgh shows in the case of the Berwick Revenant:
It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony. It would be strange if such things should have happened formerly, since we can find no evidence of them in the works of ancient authors, whose vast labor it was to commit to writing every occurrence worthy of memory; for if they never neglected to register even events of moderate interest, how could they have suppressed a fact at once so amazing and horrible, supposing it to have happened in their day? Moreover, were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen in our times, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome; so I will fain add two more only (and these of recent occurrence) to those I have already narrated, and insert them in our history, as occasion offers, as a warning to posterity.
Clearly William of Newburgh is skeptical but the sheer weight of the evidence convinced him. He indicates he’s discussing these examples of revenants to warn people. Can this level of skepticism be found in any accounts of Jesus within the New Testament? No it cannot. Therefore, these men are excellent sources to determine if revenant bodies exist.
William of Malmesbury relates an account from personably talking to an eyewitness, something that the Gospels lack:
At the same time something similar occurred in England, not by divine miracle, but by infernal craft; which when I shall have related, the credit of the narrative will not be shaken, though the minds of the hearers should be incredulous; for I have heard it from a man of such character, who swore he had seen it, that I should blush to disbelieve.
Modern, sane people understand that revenants are not real, yet they are far better evidenced than a resurrected Jesus. This should cause Christians to re-estimate their level of belief in the Easter tradition.
(2657) Immortality bias fertilizes religions
Evolution created a psychological trap for emerging self-conscious organisms- it birthed the dawn of the ‘sense of I’. Where an animal could experience more than just what it could see, hear, taste, or touch. That instead of just watching a movie, in effect, it could watch itself watching a movie.
Dolphins, elephants, chimpanzees, and magpies all have a sense of self-awareness in a limited way, though humans have it by far to the greatest extent. Dogs and cats do not have any.
Self-awareness creates a problem because it enables two realizations- (1) the knowledge of one’s inevitable death and (2) an illusion that one could potentially exist in a different body or in a different circumstance than it currently occupies. This establishes a breeding ground for religious belief and the idea of immortality.
Humans are willing to suspend rational mentation if it means giving them even a sliver of a chance to extend their lives beyond their current existence. And religions feast on this vulnerability by promising some version of either heaven or reincarnation. What this means is that religions can succeed while offering what otherwise would be an insufficient amount of supporting evidence.
Further, it means this. People will make up or re-tell stories that support the memes that offer a chance for immortality while suppressing those that tend to discount it. Over time, this spawns a number of cohesive religious traditions that are built upon the unsteady foundation of human credulousness. Religious ‘facts’ are therefore nothing more than the product of wishful thinking.
So, with respect to Christianity, everything written by Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John had to pass through this bias filter before it reached the present day. The subjective yearning for immortality contaminated whatever objective truths existed. To be sure, if there was never a hope of living beyond this life, we probably would have gotten a much more accurate picture of what actually happened in First Century Judea.
(2658) Major religions originated in deserts
It is notable that many of the world’s major religions, such as the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), developed in the resource-deprived, environmentally-unfriendly confines of Middle Eastern deserts, where mirages and hallucinations would have been prevalent. The prototypical forerunner of these religions originated in Persia by way of a man named Zoroaster. The following was taken from:
What jump-started this illusion? A Persian prophet, Zoroaster, lived anywhere from 1200 to 1500 B.C.E. became a monotheist who created alternative realities via his visions. Superstitious fear and ignorance permeated his times, so nobody questioned if his visions were the result of magic mushrooms, narcotics, other mind-altering drugs, or personal hallucinations. Back then, visions, mania, hallucinations, alcoholic stupor and dreams, were a big relief for suffering tribes trying to survive. Why not include his entertainments to relieve their fears and anxieties? God TV and the 700 Club hadn’t been invented yet. It should come as no surprise major religions originated in deserts, invented by malnourished, sleep-deprived men living solitary lives in the relentless heat of the deserts! Mirages would be the least of their revelations. Charismatic personalities like Zoroaster got away with promoting self-proclaimed visions; every god’s con men copy them.
Zoroaster claimed there is a “spiritual” world outside of our material one, inhabited by a god of good and a god of evil and life is a warfare between these forces. He said his followers must make sure to belong to the good god’s side. He said there will be a final battle between these forces of good and evil, and then the world will end, culminating with a last judgement separating those loyal to each of the forces. Once his people believed this stuff, the doors were opened to let all kinds of b. s. to barge in. Christian and Islamic peddlers took his “visions” and ran with them. Now we’re in the 21st century and, for about four thousand years, no proof has confirmed his still accepted hearsay visions.
It is interesting to consider the idea that geography played a large role in forming the religious faiths that dominate the planet. As a thought experiment, it might be such that if land and sea were reconfigured such that all points of terrain received enough rainfall to create lush landscapes, the religions of the world would look very different or maybe, for the most part, be non-existent.
(2659) Jesus the anti-missionary
In perhaps the most damaging scripture in the Christian canon, Jesus deliberately states that he is obscuring his message to keep people from being saved. It is a scripture that is never read in church:
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,“ ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’
There are five possible ways for Christian apologists to deal with this problem, and none of them are particularly attractive. The following was taken from:
But GMark 4:10-12, by portraying Jesus as concealing his salvific message in order to prevent people from being saved, suggests 5 possible realities, four of which are devastating to Christianity.
1) YHWH does not want all people to be saved. Admittedly, this message is explicitly stated within the Bible (John 12:40, Romans 9:18, 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12), and Calvinism is built around it, so it is not a devastating problem for Christianity.
2) YHWH wants all people to be saved but Jesus does not. This, if true, would undermine the Christian claim that Jesus was a sinless and faithful executor of YHWH’s will. If Jesus disagreed with YHWH about whether all people should be saved, then what else might he have disagreed with, and how else might his disagreements have influenced his actions?
3) YHWH does not want all people to be saved but cannot control whether people will be saved – if they hear his son’s salvific message and react in the right way, then they are saved even if YHVH does not want them to be saved. This undermines, however, the notion that YHWH is omnipotent.
4) GMark is not accurate when it records this segment. But if the New Testament is not accurate here (about an issue as important as salvation spoken by Jesus himself), then in many other ways it may also be not accurate.
5) GMark is accurate when it records this segment, but Jesus was lying. But if the New Testament records Jesus’s lies here (about an issue as important as salvation), then in many other ways it may also record Jesus’s lies about salvation.
The problem with tying your religion to an ancient book, and credentialing that book as the gold standard expression of your faith, is that everything in it is ripe for criticism. There is no perfect retreat in this instance- either the scripture is wrong or some element of your faith is wrong, and Christians are loathe to admit to either one. In this case, the author of Mark made a colossal mistake that has and will hamper Christianity forever.
(2660) Superhabitable planets
It is a tenet of many Christian denominations that God designed the human body, either through guided evolution or a creation event. This is usually called ‘intelligent design.’ But if God designed the human body, then he must have also designed the planet upon which he would place these people. That is where the theory runs into trouble, as the Earth is infested with all sorts of hazards- earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc.
To drive this point home further, astronomers and other scientists have determined that the Earth is not optimally designed for life and that there are other planets that are better suited- they are described as being ‘superhabitable.’ So the question must be asked- why didn’t God make the Earth a superhabitable planet- where all of the parameters are tuned to optimally support life? The following was taken from:
A superhabitable planet is a hypothetical type of exoplanet or exomoon that may be better suited than Earth for the emergence and evolution of life. The concept was introduced in 2014 by René Heller and John Armstrong, who have criticized the language used in the search for habitable planets, so they propose clarifications because a circumstellar habitable zone (HZ) is not enough to define a planet’s habitability. Heller and Armstrong state that it is not clear why Earth should offer the most suitable physicochemical parameters to living organisms, because “planets could be non-Earth-like, yet offer more suitable conditions for the emergence and evolution of life than Earth did or does.” While still assuming that life requires water, they hypothesize that Earth may not represent the optimal planetary habitability conditions for maximum biodiversity; in other words, they define a superhabitable world as a terrestrial planet or moon that could support more diverse flora and fauna than there are on Earth, as it would empirically show that its environment is more hospitable to life.
Despite the scarcity of information available, the hypotheses presented above on superhabitable planets can be summarized as a preliminary profile, even if there is no scientific consensus.
- Mass: approximately 2M⊕.
- Radius: to maintain a similar Earth density, its radius should be between 1.2 and 1.3R⊕.
- Oceans: percentage of surface area covered by oceans should be Earth-like but more distributed, without large continuous land masses. The oceans should be shallow; the light then will penetrate easier through the water and will reach the fauna and flora, stimulating an abundance of life down in the ocean.
- Distance: shorter distance from the center of the habitable zone of the system than Earth.
- Temperature: average surface temperature of about 25 °C (77 °F). The average surface temperature of the Earth is 15 °C (59 °F).
- Star and age: belonging to an intermediate K-type star with an older age than the Sun (4.5 billion years) but younger than 7 billion years.
- Atmosphere: somewhat denser than Earth’s and with a higher concentration of oxygen. That will make life larger and more abundant.
In September 2020, astronomers identified 24 superhabitable planet contenders, from among more than 4000 confirmed exoplanets at present, based on astrophysical parameters, as well as the natural history of known life forms on the Earth.
Intelligent design now suffers not only from the fact that there are flaws and vulnerabilities associated with human bodies, but also that the planet itself suffers similarly from less-than-optimal design features. All of this suggests that a designed god was not involved in this drama.
(2661) The story is only about God
Humans are merely pawns in God’s chess game. He moves all of the pieces, both white and black, and orchestrates the drama of the final checkmate. This is the only conclusion available if we accede to the Christian dogma that God has limitless power. Indeed, it is all about God and nothing else. The following was taken from:
God of the Bible. He creates humans. We didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t give us a reason. Just does and forces us into existence. Supposedly gives us free will, but wants us to use that free will to his obedience. When we don’t, he has a fit and commits genocides (Old Testament is replete with instances).
Like an arbitrator, he has the authority to forgive people to heaven but also condemn them to hell. Conveniently, the offences committed by those sent to hell are against God himself, so he can forgive them but he doesn’t. The only conclusion here is that he is not really all loving, all forgiving.
He is sad because humans are sinful. For all his infinite power, he can’t seem to forgive them, so he sends himself as a man-god, allows himself to be killed, rises himself, to protect us… From himself. Considering he is the mightiest entity in the universe capable of anything and everything, all this seems gratuitous. And even though he ostentatiously got killed, he doesn’t really die. Not only does he save us from himself by killing himself, he also raises himself to life. And in all this, he’s the victim! He is the one playing all the roles in entire play for fuckssakes! He wrote the damn play. Some grand performative self-serving bullshit.
So he is the creator and the destroyer. The forgiver and the punisher. He is a murderer, but also the savior. He sends to hell, but also provides redemption. He inflicts his wrath when angered without repercussions, but is also somehow the victim?
This story is not about us. This is about god, who can do whatever he wants, whatever he wants with impunity. The whole bible is about god, and him alone. The whole story is about his need for us to be obedient to him. Nothing in this is about us. Nothing. This is all about him.
It seems god made us only to quench his need for some sick, twisted entertainment where he is the one man (entity?) hero and ironically, the anti-hero. Or we made him up to quench ours.
The people who made up Christianity did not think this through. By making their God omnipotent and omniscient, they took the relevance of human endeavors out of the equation. It would be like running a computer simulation where you make some sims good and others bad and then send them to their respective just deserts. You have full control, the sims have only the illusion of such.
(2662) Rockstar, Terrorist Jesus
The following essay explains why objective historians have doubts about the existence of the Jesus described in the gospels- the Jesus who was the rockstar of his time, as well as a part-time terrorist and magician. This problem will continue to haunt Christianity until it descends into the graveyard of extinct religions.
The current state of evidence regarding the origins of Christianity can be explained by a relatively insignificant itinerant preacher, who founded a cult that languished in obscurity for a few decades after his death, then experienced rapid growth. It could also be explained by a mystery cult built around a mythical god-man who “died for our sins” in the mythical “long long ago in a galaxy far far away”, which was only later changed into “a few generations ago in Jerusalem”. Neither of these models is perfect, and despite what some religious apologists might assert, neither one is universally accepted by the relevant historians. It could even have resulted from the merger of a few cults from column A and a few from column B. Any, all, or none of these God-men may have been known as Yeshua in the early years of their cult. Given the paucity of evidence, it’s hard to distinguish between these explanations.
What we can rule out with a fair degree of certainty, however, is the Rockstar Terrorist Jesus you get if you take even half of the non-magical claims of the gospels seriously. The man who preached before crowds of hundreds of thousands of people, who attracted the attention of the most influential people in the region, who lead an armed raid on Jerusalem’s temple complex, and who both the Sanhedrin and the Roman courts apparently thought was important enough to completely ignore all their own traditions in order to convict him. There are plenty of historians active in that place and time who would have noticed a guy like that, and absolutely none of them did. Any hypothesis which includes Rockstar Terrorist Jesus must account for how every one of them managed to miss somebody that impressive while noticing relative nonentities like Appollonius.
Of course, if we’re talking about “Jesus”, the main character of the gospels, we’re not just talking about a man with political powers, but magic powers as well. Even establishing the existence of Rockstar Terrorist Jesus would not be sufficient to establish the existence of Magic Superman Komodo Dragon Vampire Hovercraft Jesus. Somebody who attempts to assert the historicity of this figure has to contend with every problem of the Rockstar Terrorist Jesus hypothesis a hundred times over, and also explain why the laws of physics decided to take a vacation.
The historical record of the time, while extensive, is far from perfect. There are plenty of gaps in which a nobody from nowhere, who did nothing of any significance, and said nothing that any literate witness would have thought worthy of writing down, might be hiding. But if this hypothetical person didn’t perform any of the deeds attributed to a character, and there’s no record of them saying any of the quotations attributed to that character, and they don’t share a name or a birth place or even a zodiac sign with that character, in what meaningful sense can anyone claim that this hypothetical person is that character? And why should anyone care?
As a thought experiment, consider that somebody today writes a biography of someone who lived in the 1980’s and who performed great works of magic in front of thousands of people throughout Norway. He multiplied food, healed paralytics, and was able to fly on his own power. Yet, nobody alive remembers any of this and there are no documents that were written in the 1980’s or since in Norway or elsewhere that mention him. This is the situation with Jesus. We don’t know for sure whether the legend of Jesus is based on real, singular individual, but we do know, at least among those of us who confront reality head-on, that the rockstar, terrorist Jesus of the gospels is a myth.
(2663) Jesus was reverse-engineered
From the period of approximately 55 CE to 110 CE, and even on into the Fourth Century, there was a steady progression of building a biography around Jesus. In effect, it all happened in reverse, starting with his celestial glory, then to a terrestrial wonder worker, and finally to an exalted baby born with stellar and regal participation. This is not the manner in which true history unfolds. The following was taken from:
Then there’s the other half of the New Testament: the Epistles. About half of them are known to be later forgeries, but of the half that are thought to be “authentic” (a phrase which here means “written by the person they claim to have been written by”, not “containing accurate information”), some of them are a bit earlier than that 70 CE lower bound given above. Do those give us any useful information about the life of Jesus?
Nope. In fact, in most cases, they suggest that their authors believed that Jesus was (and had always been) an archetypical spirit being, not someone who had been walking around as a flesh-and-blood human well within living memory.
Religion, as a wise man once said, reverses everything. The origins of the Jesus narrative are no exception. If you evaluate the documents in the order they were actually written, rather than the order in which they were compiled by later Christian apologists, you will see that he character of “Jesus” began as an unearthly being in the spirit realm, then he acquired a mythical symbolic death-and-resurrection in the abstract “long long ago”, then he was assigned a adulthood in a recognizable time and place, then (as a grand finale) he was given a big miraculous Nativity. It would be another two and a half centuries before the Council of Nicea, where “Jesus was definitely a real guy who lived a real human life, not an angel or a hologram or a series of visions or something like that” was established as the Official Position™ of the Official Church™. By popular vote.
If Jesus existed as described in the gospels, Paul’s letters would have been very different. They would have commented on his ministry, his speeches, his parables, his miracles, and his travels. None of that was known to Paul because those things didn’t happen. If Jesus had been born under a roaming star and celebrated by majesty, that would have been the first chapter in the first gospel written, Mark. The clues are there for anyone to see- Jesus was not a lord, a liar, or a lunatic- he was a legend.
(2664) Two hundred years of deconstructing Christianity
The following lists many of the thinkers and authors who over the past two centuries have dared to confront the conventional wisdom that Jesus was the divine son of God, sent to save humankind. For the previous 18 centuries, very little pushback was seen… this momentum is a relatively late but very significant development. The following was taken from:
For more than 200 years a minority of courageous scholars have dared to question the story of Jesus. Despite the risks of physical assault, professional ruin and social opprobrium, they have seriously doubted the veracity of the gospel saga, have peeled away the layers of fraud and deceit and eventually have challenged the very existence of the godman.
Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768). 1778, On the Intention of Jesus and His Teaching. Enlightenment thinker and professor of Oriental languages at the Hamburg Gymnasium, his extensive writings – published after his death – rejected ‘revealed religion’ and argued for a naturalistic deism. Reimarus charged the gospel writers with conscious fraud and innumerable contradictions.
Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire) (1694-1778). The most influential figure of the Enlightenment was educated at a Jesuit college yet concluded, “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world … The true God cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on a gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough.” Imprisoned, exiled, his works banned and burned, Voltaire’s great popularity in revolutionary France assured him a final resting place in the Pantheon in Paris. One story is that religious extremists stole his remains and dumped them in a garbage heap.
Baron d’Holbach (‘Boulanger’) (1723-1789). Philosopher of the Enlightenment. 1766, Christianity Unveiled , being an examination of the principles and effects of the Chrisian Religion. 1769, Histoire critique de Jésus-Christ (Ecce Homo). Classics from the Age of Reason. Holbach concluded that:
“Religion is the art of inspiring mankind with an enthusiam which is designed to divert their attention from the evils with which they are overwhelmed by those who govern them.”
– Christianity Unveiled, 16.5
Count Constantine Volney, 1787, Les Ruines; ou, Méditation sur les révolutions des empires (Ruins of Empires). Napoleonic investigator saw for himself evidence of Egyptian precursors of Christianity.
Edward Evanson, 1792, The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists and the Evidence of their Respective Authenticity. English rationalist challenged apostolic authorship of the 4th Gospel and denounced several Pauline epistles as spurious.
Charles François Dupuis, 1794, Origine de tous les Cultes ou La Religion universelle (The Origin of All Religious Worship). Astral-mythical interpretation of Christianity (and all religion). “A great error is more easily propagated, than a great truth, because it is easier to believe, than to reason, and because people prefer the marvels of romances to the simplicity of history.” Dupuis destroyed most of his own work because of the violent reaction it provoked.
Thomas Paine, 1795, The Age of Reason. Pamphleteer who made the first call for American independence (Common Sense, 1776; Rights of Man, 1791). Paine poured savage ridicule on the contradictions and atrocities of the Bible. Like many American revolutionaries Paine was a deist:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of … Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”
– The Age of Reason.
Robert Taylor, 1828, Syntagma Of The Evidences Of The Christian Religion; 1829, Diegesis. Taylor was imprisoned for declaring mythical origins for Christianity. “The earliest Christians meant the words to be nothing more than a personification of the principle of reason, of goodness, or that principle, be it what it may, which may most benefit mankind in the passage through life.”
Godfrey Higgins (1771-1834). 1836, Anacalypsis – An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions. English pioneer of archaeology and freemason.
David Friedrich Strauss, 1835, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. Lutheran vicar-turned-scholar skilfully exposed gospel miracles as myth and in the process reduced Jesus to a man. It cost him his career.
Bruno Bauer, 1841, Criticism of the Gospel History of the Synoptics. 1877, Christus und die Caesaren. Der Hervorgang des Christentums aus dem romischen Griechentum. (In English translation). The original iconoclast. Bauer contested the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles (in which he saw the influence of Stoic thinkers like Seneca) and identified Philo’s role in emergent Christianity. Bauer rejected the historicity of Jesus himself. “Everything that is known of Jesus belongs to the world of imagination.” As a result in 1842 Bauer was ridiculed and removed from his professorship of New Testament theology at Tübingen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841, Essays. One time Trinitarian Christian and former Unitarian minister held Jesus to be a “true prophet” but that organised Christianity was an “eastern monarchy”. “Our Sunday-schools, and churches, and pauper-societies are yokes to the neck.”
Logan Mitchell, 1842, Christian Mythology Unveiled. 1881, Religion in the Heavens or Mythology Unveiled. “Reigning opinion, however ill-founded and absurd, is always queen of the nations.”
Ferdinand Christian Baur, 1845, Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. German scholar who identified as “inauthentic” not only the pastoral epistles, but also Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians (leaving only the four main Pauline epistles regarded as genuine). Baur was the founder of the so-called “Tübingen School.”
Charles Bradlaugh, 1860, Who Was Jesus Christ? What Did Jesus Teach? Most famous English atheist of the 19th century, founded the National Secular Society and became an MP, winning the right to affirm. Condemned the teachings of Jesus as dehumanizing passivity and disastrous as practical advice. Bradlaugh denounced the gospel Jesus as a myth.
Ernest Renan, 1863, Vie de Jésus (Das Leben Jesu / Life of Jesus). Although trained as a Catholic priest Renan was inspired by German biblical criticism and wrote a popular biography of Jesus which cost him his job (which he later regained). Renan concluded that the hero of the Christians was a gifted but merely human preacher, persuaded by his followers into thinking he was the messiah. Renan subsequently wrote a History of the Origins of Christianity in seven volumes.
Sytze Hoekstra, 1871, Principles and Doctrine of the Early Anabaptists. Scholar of the Radical Dutch school, Hoekstra concluded Mark’s gospel had no value as a biography of Jesus. [link]
Robert Ingersoll, 1872, The Gods. 1879, Some Mistakes of Moses. Illinois orator extraordinaire, his speeches savaged the Christian religion. “It has always seemed to me that a being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind, should at least have verified that message by his own signature. Is it not wonderful that not one word was written by Christ?”
Walter Cassels, 1874, Supernatural Religion – An Inquiry Concerning the Reality of Divine Revelation.
Kersey Graves, 1875, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviours. Pennsylvanian Quaker who saw through to the pagan heart of Christian fabrications, though rarely cited sources for his far-reaching conclusions.
Allard Pierson, 1879, De Bergrede en andere synoptische Fragmenten. [link] Theologian, art and literature historian who identified The Sermon on the Mount as a collection of aphorisms from Jewish Wisdom literature. The publication of Pierson’s Bergrede was the beginning of Dutch Radical Criticism. Not just the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles but the historical existence of Jesus himself was called into question.
Bronson C. Keeler, 1881, A Short History of the Bible. A classic exposé of Christian fraud.
Abraham Dirk Loman, 1882, “Quaestiones Paulinae,” in Theologisch Tijdschrift. Professor of theology at Amsterdam who said all the epistles date from the 2nd century. Loman explained Christianity as a fusion of Jewish and Roman-Hellenic thinking. When he went blind Loman said his blindness gave him insight into the dark history of the church! [link]
Thomas William Doane, 1882, Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions. Outdated but a classic revelation of pagan antecedents of biblical myths and miracles.
Samuel Adrianus Naber, 1886, Verisimilia. Laceram conditionem Novi Testamenti exemplis illustrarunt et ab origine repetierunt. Classicist who saw Greek myths hidden within Christian scripture. [link]
Gerald Massey, 1886, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ. 1907, Ancient Egypt-The Light of the World. Another classic from an early nemesis of the priesthood. British Egyptologist wrote six volumes on the religion of ancient Egypt.
Edwin Johnson, 1887, Antiqua Mater. A Study of Christian Origins. 1894, The Pauline Epistles: Re-studied and Explained. English radical theologian identified the early Christians as the Chrestiani, followers of a good (Chrestus) God who had expropriating the myth of Dionysos Eleutherios (“Dionysos the Emancipator”), to produce a self-sacrificing Godman. Denounced the twelve apostles as complete fabrication.
Rudolf Steck, 1888, Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echtheit untersucht nebst kritischen Bemerkungen zu den Paulinischen Hauptbriefen. Radical Swiss scholar branded all the Pauline epistles as fakes.
Franz Hartman, 1889, The Life of Johoshua: The Prophet of Nazareth.
Willem Christiaan van Manen, 1896, Paulus. Professor at Leiden and most famous of the Dutch Radicals, a churchman who did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. After resisting the argument for many years van Manen concluded none of the Pauline epistles were genuine and that Acts was dependent on the works of Josephus. [link]
Joseph McCabe, 1897, Why I Left the Church. 1907, The Bible in Europe: an Inquiry into the Contribution of the Christian Religion to Civilization. 1914, The Sources of the Morality of the Gospels. 1926, The Human Origin of Morals. Franciscan monk-turned-evangelical atheist. McCabe, a prolific writer, shredded many parts of the Christ legend – “There is no ‘figure of Jesus’ in the Gospels. There are a dozen figures” – but he continued to allow the possibility for an historical founder.
Albert Schweitzer, 1901, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. 1906, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. The famous German theologian and missionary (35 years in the Cameroons) ridiculed the humanitarian Jesus of the liberals and at the same time had the courage to recognize the work of the Dutch Radicals. His own pessimistic conclusion was that the superhero had been an apocalyptic fanatic and that Jesus died a disappointed man. Famously said those looking for an historical Jesus merely “found a reflection of themselves.”
“The Dutch Radicals did not forget to question, when questioning had gone out of fashion for the rest of theology.”
– Geschichte der paulinischen Forschung, 108.
Wilhelm Wrede, 1901, The Messianic Secret (Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien). Wrede demonstrated how, in Mark’s gospel, a false history was shaped by early Christian belief.
Albert Kalthoff, 1902, Das Christus-Problem. 1907, The Rise of Christianity. Another radical German scholar who identified Christianity as a psychosis. Christ was essentially the transcendental principle of the Christian community which aimed at apocalyptic social reform.
George Robert Stowe Mead, 1901, Apollonius of Tyana, the Philosopher-Reformer of the First Century A.D. 1903, Did Jesus Live 100 BC? 1907, The Gnostic Crucifixion. A discussion of the Jewish Jeschu stories which moves Jesus back to an earlier time.
Thomas Whittaker, 1904, The Origins of Christianity. Declared that Jesus was a myth, that the Christian movement began only after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and that the whole body of New Testament writings date to the second century. How right he was!
Emilio Bossi/Milesbo, 1904, Gesù Cristo non è mai esistito (Jesus Christ Never Existed). Bossi was a radical lawyer/journalist (“Milesbo” being his pen-name). Jesus is a concoction from Tanakh and the mystery cults, and Jesus’s ethics are a patchwork from Philo and Seneca.
William Benjamin Smith, 1906, Der vorchristliche Jesus. 1911, Die urchristliche Lehre des reingöttlichen Jesus. Argues for origins in a pre-Christian Jesus cult on the island of Cyprus. [link]
Gerardus Bolland, 1907, De Evangelische Jozua. Philosopher at Leiden identified the origin of Christianity in an earlier Jewish Gnosticism. The New Testament superstar is the Old Testament ‘son of Nun’, the follower renamed Jesus by Moses. The virgin is nothing but a symbol for the people of Israel. From Alexandria the “Netzerim” took their gospel to Palestine.
In 1907 Pope Pius X condemned the Modernists who were “working within the framework of the Church”. Among those denounced and excommunicated was Alfred Loisy (The Gospel and the Church, 1902), Catholic priest and theologian who made the pithy observation “Jesus announced the Kingdom, and it’s the Church that came.” An anti-Modernist oath was introduced in 1910, as well as the Confession for children – opening the door for rampant abuse.
Prosper Alfaric, (1886-1955), French Professor of Theology, shaken by the stance of Pius X, renounced his faith and left the church in 1909 to work for the cause of rationalism. 1929, Pour Comprendre La Vie De Jésus. 1932, The problem of Jesus and Christian Origins. 2005, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [Jesus: Did he exist?]. Alfaric drew attention to Essene antecedents of Christian dogma.
Peter Jensen, 1909, Moses, Jesus, Paul: Three Variations on the Babylonian Godman Gilgamesh. Orientalist argued that Jesus was reworked Babylonian mythology. [link]
Mangasar Magurditch Mangasarian, 1909, The Truth About Jesus. Is He a Myth? Erstwhile Presbyterian Minister who saw through the fabrication. “Even in the first centuries the Christians were compelled to resort to forgery to prove the historicity of Jesus.”
Karl Kautsky, 1909, The Foundations of Christianity. Early socialist interpreted Christianity in terms of class struggle. [link]
John E. Remsburg, 1909, The Christ: A critical review and analysis of the evidences of His existence. Gospels rife with contradictions. Doubtful that Jesus existed and a supernatural Christ is certainly Christian dogma.
Arthur Drews, 1910, Die Christusmythe (The Christ Myth). 1910, Die Petruslegende (The Legend of St Peter). 1912, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus. 1924, Die Entstehung des Christentums aus dem Gnostizismus (The Emergence of Christianity from Gnosticism). 1926, The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus. Eminent philosopher was Germany’s greatest exponent of the contention that Christ is a myth. The gospels historized a pre-existing mystical Jesus whose character was drawn from the prophets and Jewish wisdom literature. The Passion was to be found in the speculations of Plato.
John Robertson, 1910, Christianity and Mythology. 1911, Pagan Christs. Studies in Comparative Hierology. 1917, The Jesus Problem. Robertson drew attention to the universality of many elements of the Jesus storyline and to pre-Christian crucifixion rituals in the ancient world. Identified the original Jesus/Joshua with an ancient Ephraimite deity in the form of a lamb.
Edouard Dujardin, 1910, The Source of the Christian tradition: a critical history of ancient Judaism. 1938, Ancient History of the God Jesus.
Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1908, Examining the Authenticity of the First Epistle of Clement. 1912, Radical Views about the New Testament. 1918, Voorchristelijk Christendom. De vorbereiding van het Evangelie in de Hellenistische wereld. 1930, Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? 1951, Early Christianity’s Letters. Theologian and last of the Dutch radicals to hold a university professorship.
Alexander Hislop, 1916, The Two Babylons. Exhaustive exposure of the pagan rituals and paraphernalia of Roman Catholicism.
Edward Carpenter, 1920, Pagan and Christian Creeds. Elaborated the pagan origins of Christianity.
Rudolf Bultmann, 1921, The History of the Synoptic Tradition. 1941, Neues Testament und Mythologie. Lutheran theologian and professor at Marburg University Bultman was the exponent of ‘form criticism’ and did much to demythologise the gospels. He identified the narratives of Jesus as theology served up in the language of myth. Bultmann observed that the New Testament was not the story of Jesus but a record of early Christian belief. He argued that the search for an historical Jesus was fruitless: “We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus.” (Jesus and the Word, 8)
James Frazer, 1922, The Golden Bough. Anthropological interpretation of man’s progress from magic, through religion to science. Christianity a cultural phenomenon.
Marshall J. Gauvin, 1922, Did Jesus Christ Really Live? Notable speaker in the Freethought movement questioned the very existence of a Jesus figure.
Paul-Louis Couchoud, 1924, Le mystère de Jesus. 1926, La Première Edition de St. Paul. 1930, Jesus Barabbas. 1939, The Creation of Christ. Couchoud, a polymath, espoused an historical Peter rather than an historical Jesus and argued that the Passion was modelled on the death of Stephen.
Georg Brandes, 1925, Die Jesus-Sage. 1926, Jesus – A Myth. Danish scholar identified the Revelation of St John as the earliest part of the New Testament.
Joseph Wheless, 1926, Is It God’s Word? An Exposition of the Fables and Mythology of the Bible and the Fallacies of Theology. 1930, Forgery in Christianity. American attorney, raised in the Bible Belt, shredded the biblical fantasy.
Henri Delafosse, 1926, L’épître aux Romains. 1927, Les Lettres d’Ignace d’Antioche. 1928, “Les e’crits de Saint Paul,” in Christianisme. Epistles of Ignatius denounced as late forgeries.
John G. Jackson, 1933, Was Jesus Christ a Negro? 1937, Introduction To African Civilizations. 1941, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth. 1970, Man, God, and Civilization. 1985, Christianity Before Christ. Most influential Black Atheist drew attention to the Ethiopian and Egyptian precedents of Christian belief. [link]
Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944, Who is this King of Glory? 1949, Shadow of the Third Century. 1970, Rebirth for Christianity. Jesus was never a person, but a symbol of the divine soul in every human being. “We are forced to the conclusion that the Christian religion was born out of a misreading of the cryptic ancient Scriptures, by sincere but unschooled minds.” (Rebirth, 87).
Herbert Cutner, 1950, Jesus: God, Man, or Myth? Mythical nature of Jesus and a summary of the ongoing debate between mythicists and historicizers. Mythic-only position is continuous tradition, not novel. Pagan origins of Christ.
Georges Las Vergnas, 1956, Pourquoi j’ai quitté l’Eglise romaine Besançon. 1958, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [link]. Vicar general of the diocese of Limoges who lost his faith. Argues that the central figure of Christianity had no historical existence.
Georges Ory, 1961, An Analysis of Christian Origins. French scholar concluded “Jesus-Christ was not a human Messiah.” [link].
Guy Fau, 1967, Le Fable de Jesus Christ. [link]
John Allegro, 1970, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. 1979, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth. Jesus was nothing other than a magic mushroom and his life an allegorical interpretation of a drug-induced state. Not jail for Allegro – but professional ruin.
George Albert Wells, 1971, The Jesus of the Early Christians. 1975, Did Jesus Exist? 1988, The Historical Evidence for Jesus. 1996, The Jesus Legend. 1998, Jesus Myth. 1999, Earliest Christianity. 2004, Can We Trust the New Testament? Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. 2009, Cutting Jesus Down to Size: What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity. Christianity a growth from Jewish Wisdom literature. Wells remains one of the best known advocates of Jesus mythicism though his later books concede the possible influence of a real preacher via the postulated Q document. [link]
Phyllis Graham, 1974, The Jesus Hoax. The nonexistent godman denounced, this time by one of his former brides – an erstwhile Carmelite nun. [link]
Jean Magne, 1975, Christian Origins, I-II. 1989, III, IV. Logique des Dogmes, Logic of the Sacraments. 1993, From Christianity to Gnosis and From Gnosis to Christianity: An Itinerary through the Texts to and from the Tree of Paradise.
Samuel Max Rieser, 1979, The True Founder of Christianity and the Hellenistic Philosophy. Christianity started by Jews of the Diaspora and then retroactively set in pre-70 Palestine. Christianity arrived last, not first, in Palestine – that’s why Christian archeological finds appear in Rome but not in Judea until the 4th century. [link]
Abelard Reuchlin, 1979, The True Authorship of the New Testament. Conspiracy theory par excellence: Roman aristocrat Arius Calpurnius Piso (aka “Flavius Josephus”, aka “Plutarch”, aka “Manetho”!) conspired to gain control of the Roman Empire by forging an entirely new religion. OMG, really? [link]
Nikos Vergidis, 1985, Νέρων και Χριστός [Nero and Christ] Greek scholar argues for Christian origins in Rome.
Karlheinz Deschner, 1986-2004, The Criminal History of Christianity, Volumes 1-8. A leading German critic of religion and the Church. In 1971 Deschner was called before a court in Nuremberg, charged with “insulting the Church.” [link]
Hermann Detering, 1992, Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus?: Die Paulusbriefe in der Holländischen Radikalkritik (The Pauline Epistles Without Paul). 2012, Der gefälschte Paulus – Das Urchristentum im Zwielicht (The Falsified Paul. Early Christianity in the twilight). German minister in the Dutch radical tradition. No Jesus and no Paul. The latter Detering identifies with the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus.
Gary Courtney, 1992, 2004 Et tu, Judas? Then Fall Jesus! The Passion is essentially Caesar’s fate in Judaic disguise, grafted onto the dying/resurrecting cult of Attis. Jewish fans of Caesar assimilated the sacrificed ‘saviour of mankind’ into the ‘Suffering Servant’ of Isaiah. [link]
Michael Kalopoulos, 1995, The Great Lie. Greek historian finds strikingly similar parallels between biblical texts and Greek mythology. He exposes the cunning, deceitful and authoritarian nature of religion.
Gerd Lüdemann, 1998, The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did. 2002, Paul: The Founder of Christianity. 2004, The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. After 25 years of study German professor concluded Paul, not Jesus, started Christianity. Lüdemann was expelled from the theology faculty at the University of Göttingen for daring to say that the Resurrection was “a pious self-deception.” So much for academic freedom. [link]
Alvar Ellegard, 1999, Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ. Christianity seen as emerging from the Essene Church of God with the Jesus prototype the Teacher of Righteousness. [link]
Murdock (aka ‘Acharya S‘) 1999, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. 2004, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. 2009, Christ in Egypt. Adds a astro-theological dimension to christ-myth demolition. Murdock identifies JC as a composite deity used to unify the Roman Empire. [link]
Earl Doherty, 1999, The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? 2009, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Powerful statement of how Christianity started as a mystical-revelatory Jewish sect – no Jesus required! [link]
Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, 1999, The Jesus Mysteries. 2001, Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians. Examines the close relationship between the Jesus Story and that of Osiris-Dionysus. Jesus and Mary Magdalene mythic figures based on the Pagan Godman and Goddess.
Harold Liedner, 2000, The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. Anachronisms and geographic errors of the gospels denounced. Jesus a fictional Joshua for a 1st century Judaic cult and Christianity one of history’s most effective frauds. [link]
Robert Price, 2000, Deconstructing Jesus. 2003 Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? 2011, The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. Ex-minister and accredited scholar shows Jesus to be a fictional amalgam of several 1st century prophets, mystery cult redeemers and gnostic ‘aions’. [link]
Hal Childs, 2000, The Myth of the Historical Jesus and the Evolution of Consciousness. A psychotherapist take on the godman. [link]
Michael Hoffman, 2000, Philosopher and theorist of “ego death” who jettisoned an historical Jesus. [link]
Dennis MacDonald, 2000, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Professor of New Testament studies and Christian origins maps extensive borrowings from the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey by the authors of the gospel of Mark and Acts of the Apostles. [link]
Burton Mack, 2001, The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy. Social formation of myth making. [link]
Luigi Cascioli, 2001, The Fable of Christ. Indicted the Papacy for profiteering from a fraud! [link]
Israel Finkelstein, Neil Silbermann, 2002, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Courageous archaeologists who skillfully proved the sacred foundational stories of Judaism and Christianity are bogus. [link]
Frank R. Zindler, 2003, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources. No evidence in Jewish sources for the phantom messiah. [link]
Daniel Unterbrink, 2004, Judas the Galilean. The Flesh and Blood Jesus. Parallels between the tax rebel of 6 AD and the phantom of the Gospels explored in detail. ‘Judas is Jesus’. Well, part of Jesus, no doubt. [link]
Tom Harpur, 2005, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Canadian New Testament scholar and ex-Anglican priest re-states the ideas of Kuhn, Higgins and Massey. Jesus is a myth and all of the essential ideas of Christianity originated in Egypt. [link]
Francesco Carotta, 2005, Jesus Was Caesar: On the Julian Origin of Christianity. Exhaustive inventory of parallels. Alarmingly, asserts Caesar was Jesus. [link]
Joseph Atwill, 2005, Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Another take on the Josephus-Gospel similarities. Atwill argues that the 1st century conquerors of Judaea, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, used Hellenized Jews to manufacture the “Christian” texts in order to establish a peaceful alternative to militant Judaism. Jesus was Titus Flavius? I don’t think so. [link]
Michel Onfray, 2005, Traité d’athéologie (2007 In Defence of Atheism). French philosopher argues for a positive atheism, debunking an historical Jesus along the way. [link]
Kenneth Humphreys, 2005, Jesus Never Existed. 2012, The Birthing of a Godman. 2014, Jesus Never Existed: An Introduction to the Ultimate Heresy. Companion books of this website drawing together the most convincing expositions for the supposed messianic superhero. The author sets this exegesis within the socio-historical context of an evolving, malevolent religion. [link]
Jay Raskin, 2006, The Evolution of Christs and Christianities. Academic and erstwhile filmaker Raskin looks beyond the official smokescreen of Eusebius and finds a fragmented Christ movement and a composite Christ figure, crafted from several literary and historical characters. Speculates that the earliest layer of myth-making was a play written by a woman called Mary. Maybe. [link]
Thomas L. Thompson, 2006, The Messiah Myth. 2012, Is this not the Carpenter? (Ed.). Theologian, university don and historian of the Copenhagen school who concludes Jesus and David are both amalgams of Near Eastern mythological themes originating in the Bronze Age. [link]
Jan Irvin, Andrew Rutajit, 2006, Astrotheology and Shamanism: Unveiling the Law of Duality in Christianity and other Religions. Explores astrotheology and shamanism and vindicates John Allegro’s work with psychoactive substances. [link]
Lena Einhorn, 2006, What Happened on the Road to Damascus? Swedish historian and proponent of the theory that Paul was the founder of Christianity and that “Jesus” was actually Paul. [link]
Roger Viklund, 2008, Den Jesus som aldrig funnits (The Jesus who never existed). A Swedish scholar reaches the same inescapable conclusion: Jesus never existed. [link]
René Salm, 2008, The Myth of Nazareth. Scholar who primarilly focuses on deconstructing the claims for a historical Nazareth – and does so very effectively. [link]
David Fitzgerald, 2010, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All. American author, public speaker and atheist activist joins the ranks of Jesus mythicists. [link]
Thomas Brodie, 2012. Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: A Memoir of a Discovery. Priest and former director of the Dominican Biblical Centre, Ireland concludes “Jesus did not exist as a historical individual” and is a literary reworking of the account of Elijah and Elisha. [link]
Richard Carrier, 2012, Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. 2014, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason To Doubt. Erstwhile editor of Internet Infidels and activist for atheism argues for the use of Bayes’ Theorem as a way out of the befuddled mess that besets Jesus studies. Carrier establishes that probability favours the non-existence of Jesus. The alternative? A figure first conceived as a celestial being revealed through private revelation and scripture, written into allegory and subsequently misunderstood as a literal truth. In fact, just what mythicists have been saying for years but elegantly and comprehensively presented. [link]
Raphael Lataster, 2013, There Was No Jesus, There Is No God. Religious studies scholar at the University of Sydney puts his head above the parapet. This former fundamentalist Christian concludes from the spurious evidence, Bayesian reasoning, and rigorous logic that the historical Jesus never existed. [link]
Sid Martin, 2014, Secret of the Savior. Jesus as a cypher for Israel? Not a new idea but skilfully presented here by Sid Martin, who analyses the gospel of Mark with the thesis that not a man but Jewish history was his source. [link]
This list omits some of the more famous authors of the present time- Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, for example, who have continued the trend in scriptural scholarship to remove the rose-colored glasses and objectively analyze the evidence. A consensus is building toward a conclusion that will likely become a majority opinion within a few decades- that the Christian god is just as mythical as Greco-Roman gods, Egyptian gods, Hindu gods, Celtic gods, Native American gods, Norse gods, and Arabian Peninsula gods.
(2665) Suppressing inconvenient evidence
Truth invites light, while fiction lives in shadows. Christianity falls into the latter category as evidence by its centuries-long campaign of suppressing information that challenges its dogma. A large part of its success is attributable to this subterfuge as only a very few Christians realize that the wool has been pulled over their eyes. The following was taken from:
Deliberate attempts have always been made to suppress material that was considered unsuitable by the Church. As already mentioned (page 39) Clement of Alexandria is known to have suppressed gospel material that did not suit him. As he explained in a letter, referring to the Secret Gospel of Mark:
During Peter’s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord’s doings, not however declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting those he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died as a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress towards gnosis. Thus he composed a more spiritual gospel for the use of those who were being perfected…. *
Here is confirmation not only that Peter was selective, but also that Mark subsequently tailored the information. What was in the original version of the gospel we may never know. The original was suppressed and its existence denied. Something similar seems to have happened to the story of Barabbas. The name Barabbas is composed of the elements bar (son of) and abba (father). In an early Greek version of Matthew, Barabbas was called Jesous Barabbas, which is a transcription of a Hebrew name that translates as Jesus son of the Father. Were there two Jesuses, both claiming to be sons of God, and both arrested at the same time? It sounds unlikely. We may never know unless an earlier manuscript turns up. But scholars think it probable that there is more to the story than is related in surviving texts.
Other important historical texts also suffered from tampering. For example Josephus recorded that a Judæan revolt (the First Jewish Revolt of AD 66) had been triggered by the killing of James, the brother of Jesus. The relevant passage does not occur in surviving manuscripts of Josephus, but authoritative Christian sources (both Eusebius and Origen) quote it. It would appear that the passage was edited out of the text by the Pauline line, which had an interest in minimising the importance of James.
We know of many so-called heretics only through the works of their Christian enemies. The works of Helvidius are lost, and we know of them through the writings of St Jerome. Jerome thought that virginity was better than marriage (the line that came to be regarded as orthodox), while Helvidius held that Mary and Joseph had had a normal married life and that Jesus had younger brothers and sisters. As Jerome‘s line came to be orthodox his ideas are well documented while those of Helvidius are not. Similarly, we know of Gnostic ideas mainly through the writing of their mainstream Christian enemies. Marcion’s ideas for example, or a distorted version of them, are known through Tertullian‘s work Against Marcion. Marcion’s own writings are “lost”, destroyed by the rival Christian faction that we now call orthodox. When Gnostic writings are recovered, as at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, it frequently turns out that Gnostics did not believe what “orthodox” critics said they believed. And of course in their writings the roles are reversed. The Gnostics see themselves as holding the true line, while the line that is now held to be orthodox is represented as merely another heretical faction.
As Christian doctrine developed, important early Christian writers came to be regarded as heretical, and their writings were destroyed. In this way the mainstream Church sought to root out any suggestion that its own version of orthodoxy was flawed. For example the book known as 1 Enoch was once regarded as scripture. It failed to be accepted into the biblical canon in the West, and was subsequently “lost”. In the Ethiopian Church, however, it was accepted as scripture and so survived to be rediscovered by Western Christianity in modern times. Numerous gospels and letters, also “lost”, are referred to in surviving documents. Origen mentioned a Jewish apocryphal work called the Prayer of Joseph, which might have shed considerable light on Jewish ideas about semi-divine men, but it has been “lost”*. Origen was a prolific writer but was himself later condemned as a heretic. Consequently, not one of his scriptural commentaries has survived in full.
Eusebius refers to writings by one Symmachus that cast doubt on the gospel attributed to Matthew* — writings that have since been “lost”. He also mentions the neo-platonist Porphyry, who is known to have written fifteen volumes against the orthodox line, exposing the scriptures as fraudulent (he knew what modern scholars have independently discovered, for example that the book of Daniel could not have been written when it was purported to have been ). He also pointed out that the apostles could hardly have been infallible if they quarrelled with each other as the New Testament said. His works were banned as soon as the Empire became Christian , and all fifteen volumes were “lost”. Writings explicitly opposed to Christianity were also destroyed. The work of Aulus Cornelius Celsus, Truth Established, has also been “lost”. Our knowledge of it comes from Origen’s attempt to refute the book’s arguments in Contra Celsum. Similarly we know of the Emperor Julian’s criticisms of Christianity in his treatise Adversus Christianos only because of Cyril of Alexandria’s attempts to refute them.
Occasionally copies of lost works turn up unexpectedly. The Epistle to Diognetus was once “lost”, but a copy was discovered in a fish market in Constantinople. Some works survived for centuries, before someone realised the threat to orthodoxy, or before negligence took its toll. Hegesippus’s works were reputedly extant as late as the seventeenth century. They have all since disappeared, including five books of memoirs and a succession list of the earliest bishops of Rome. It is not known whether they were destroyed or hidden away. Other works were tampered with to make them orthodox, or to keep them orthodox. For example the seven letters of Ignatius of Antioch. suffered in this way. As one authority puts it:
Eusebius clearly knew them all. But in their authentic form they became known again only in the seventeenth century, for in the fourth century the Ignatian Correspondence was added to, both by interpolation in authentic epistles and by the addition of spurious ones, and this so-called “Long Recension” all but cast into oblivion any witness to the authentic epistles*.
Christian authorities have been responsible for the “loss” of countless invaluable historical and religious records over the last 2,000 years or so: purportedly apostolic and apocryphal writings, Gnostic and Ebionite writings, classical and philosophical writings, Jewish writings and the sacred writings of other religions, all criticism of Christianity, non-compliant histories, anything savouring of heresy or originality. Later we shall see that all manner of other works were also destroyed: science, mathematics, architecture, natural history, medicine, ancient classics — all writings in fact not currently considered orthodox, and in practice this meant everything except officially approved propaganda.
Even the records of Church Councils and ancient biblical texts were mislaid, destroyed or otherwise “lost”. Many such documents were for example collected for the famous Council of Trent (1546), never to be seen again. Other records have also been lost. For example Church records of trials for witchcraft and heresy are remarkably scanty. Much hard evidence comes from independent contemporary accounts, secret letters and municipal records. Other Church records have also been mysteriously lost — records of torture, show trials, interference in politics, and so on. Even recent records are prone to get unaccountably lost. Church records of proceedings against individuals and political groups even in the twentieth century have been mysteriously “lost”.
If you were to buy an expensive appliance over the internet, would you be OK if the seller eliminated all of the negative reviews of their product? Probably not. But that is what we have to deal with regarding Christianity. Most of the writings that would dispute its truth are lost to history. What we are left with are the carefully selective ‘positive reviews.’
(2665) Christianity’s role in the Holocaust
The most atrocious event of the past century was Nazi Germany’s pogrom against European Jews, resulting in the deaths of over six million, and untold miseries to those who survived. What is conveniently swept under the rug is the role that Christianity played in this tragedy. The following was taken from:
While Christianity wasn’t the sole catalyst for the Holocaust, there is no doubt in my mind that Christianity set the stage for the Holocaust to happen to the extent that the Holocaust couldn’t have happened without Christianity.
1) Christianity financially and emotionally oppressed Germans leading up to WWII.
Churches exploited German Christians financially by requiring tithes, encouraging donations, selling indulgences and charging fees for breaking moral laws. This siphoned off much-needed income from the poor and gave it to the aristocracy of the Christian theocracy. Not only did this hurt the poor’s chances of living well in the present, but that lost income couldn’t be saved, invested or passed on to future generations. So over the course of several generations, the consequences of lost income compounded.
The church mentally abused the German populace by forbidding behavior that deviated from Church doctrine. People were put in the stocks for gossiping, ostracized for adultery and killed for witchcraft. If you go to any medieval torture museum in Germany today, most of the instruments of misery were used by the state to enforce Biblical morality. Medieval Germany under Christian rule was like Saudi Arabia is today under Islam. Everyone was forced to walk the line, and punishment for deviation was harsh.
2) Christianity was culturally oppressive to the Jews but economically favorable to them.
In the eyes of the Christian church, Jews were heretics and Jesus-killers. Since they rejected the teachings of salvation, they deserved to go to Hell. As a result, the good Christians ostracized them and forced them to form tight-knit, insular communities with other Jews.
Ostracizing the Jews taught them to be frugal and save their money for hard times to come. It also meant Jews had close business relationships with each other and could count on one another for financial support.
At the same time, Christianity practically handed the banking industry to the Jewish community. The New Testament forbid charging interest on loans. Since Christians couldn’t charge interest, they had no incentive to open banks. People still needed loans though. So the Jews stepped in and filled the need. Once the Jews had their hand in the financial sector, then money beget money, and the income gap between Jews and Christians grew.
3) Hitler hijacked German Christians’ existing prejudice towards Jews.
Your average Christians living in Germany saw they were the “have-nots” and the Jews were the “haves,” but they didn’t understand why. They just thought Jews were Jesus-killing, heretic, big-nose, stingy thieves… because that’s how the church had always taught Christians to see the Jews. Anti-Jew riots occurred in Germany well before World War II because Christianity had already established a well-defined environment for distrust, resentment, and hate.
After World War I, life in Germany was even more destitute for poor Christians than ever. Of course, the church didn’t open its coffers and give back all the money it had been taking from the poor for generations. So the masses stayed poor and disgruntled while the Jews kept getting richer.
That’s when Hitler stepped in and said, “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator by defending myself against the Jew. I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
Hitler merely played on the prejudices created by Christianity to blame the problems that were largely created by Christianity, on the Jews. Thus, Christianity played a central role in setting the stage for the Holocaust.
A true religion endowed by the creator of the universe almost certainly could never be used as a catalyst to incite a massacre of innocent people. Rather, it would protect against such carnage. Christianity failed this test of its authenticity.
(2667) John’s unbroken bones
In the Gospel of John, the author gives great significance to the fact that Jesus’ bones were not broken during his crucifixion, claiming that it was a fulfillment of scripture. Breaking bones was a method to hasten death on the cross because it hindered the victim’s ability to breathe.
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”
John subterfuge is easy to spot. The following was taken from:
“…it was common practice in Hellenistic times to reinterpret older writings as hidden prophecies about recent or future events. It is likely this was one of the major ways that the Sibylline works were used. According to this practice, diviners would scour works that were thought to contain prophetic material and look for passages that seemed to correspond to various known events. They would then identify these passages as having hidden prophecies that confirmed the divine nature of various events…” (p. 240)
It turns out that the author of John’s gospel was an expert at scouring, outdoing the other gospel writers. John alone tells that the soldiers didn’t break Jesus’ legs. He alone had discovered a hidden prophecy. We can’t imagine one more hidden than this one! Exodus 12:43-46:
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; no bound or hired servant may eat of it. It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the animal outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.”
For John, who specialized in magical thinking, Jesus was the Passover Lamb, “…the lamb that takes away the sins of the world.” So the rule given to Moses and Aaron had to be observed explicitly: Jesus’ legs couldn’t be broken. For us to take this seriously as history, we would need contemporaneous documentation—say, a report written by the soldiers—that they left the dead body of Jesus untouched. Without that, we’re left with John’s fantasy literature; he wrote theology, not history.
The entire Christian enterprise hangs on the flights of imagination of the gospel authors. Anyone taking a careful look at their work can surmise that they themselves did not believe they were writing true history. Yet naïve people centuries later believe literally every word they wrote.
(2668) Jesus’s piercing problem
A celebrated chain of events told in the Gospel of John has Jesus being pierced by a sword while he is still on the cross, then after he had resurrected, the skeptical Apostle Thomas demands evidence and becomes convinced when he feels the stab wound. This couplet of events is almost certainly made up as it appears nowhere in Mark, Matthew, or Luke. The following was taken from:
The Doubting Thomas incident—with him fingering the wound in Jesus’ side—is found only in John’s gospel (20:24-29), because Jesus getting stabbed—on the cross, after he died—is found only in John’s gospel, 19:33-37:
“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’”
John’s author has dropped too many clues that he was not a historian; his agenda was entirely theological.
(1) New Testament scholars—at least those outside fundamentalist circles—believe that this gospel was written 70 to 80 years after the supposed events. Hence this line, verse 35: “He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe…” is posturing. It’s a giveaway that this author has written a theological tract, i.e., propaganda: he wants people to believe. There is no contemporaneous documentation to back up the claim that this text was written by an eyewitness. And why the urgency to believe that water and blood came out of a sword wound in a dead body? Christians: please consider how weird this is!
(2) The apostle Paul would have been alarmed by the Doubting Thomas scene, i.e., a resurrected body with a sword wound. Paul argued that “spiritual” bodies without blemishes of any kind would be resurrected.
(3) “These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled…” This is industrial-strength theobabble. The texts referenced are Exodus 12:46 (more on this later), Numbers 9:12 and Psalm 34:20, and we can be confident that no one reading these texts—at the time they were written—would have taken them as prophecies.
(4) Verse 37, “And again another passage of scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced,’” is an even more obscure reference to a text in Zechariah 12:10 about compassion for someone who has been pierced—this written in the sixth century BCE.
The habit of the gospel writers was to hunt for texts in the Old Testament for which they could write fulfillments in the story of Jesus. These examples in John 19 are especially farfetched.
It should seem strange that the 36-hour decaying brain, heart, and lungs of Jesus were magically healed at his resurrection, but the pierce wound in his side was still present for Thomas to see. This entire sequence of events was a low effort attempt at theological fiction, but nevertheless it has bamboozled billions for centuries, so some credit is warranted.
(2669) Christian bullying
One of the best indicators that Christianity is false is the degree to which people have been bullied to comply with the orthodox tenets and practices of the faith. It can be conjectured that a true religion would be clearly evident to the extent that coercive techniques would have been unnecessary. The following was taken from:
Religious bullying is not new: if you think of one sect purposely taunting, terrorizing, then ultimately killing off another sect as bullying, then you’re right. The first case of western civilization genocide was the bullying, then annihilation of the Cathars of Southern France. They were different than anyone else, wore different clothes, worshipped not in churches but out in fields, did not eat meat, did not believe in hierarchy such as bishops and were extremely good to their neighbors. Naturally, the pope hated them.
To publicize their heresy, they were forced by the Church to wear yellow crosses sewn onto their tunics (demonstrating that Hitler wasn’t very original) and routinely had their hands cut off, the only reason being that the church considered them heretics. Their numbers continued to grow despite the vicissitudes imposed on them, until the pope had a plan: get together with the king of France, Louis the VIII, take their lands and simply eradicate them. That’s when the battle cry above was born: while besieging the city of Beziers, one of Louis’ commanders asked the papal legate how he could tell the 200 Cathars from the rest of the 15,000 Christian citizens of Beziers. The legate’s answer went down in history: “Kill them all — God will take care of his kind.” Louis and Clement’s strategy claimed approximately 120,000 lives over a period of some 20 years, becoming the first genocide in modern history. It was known, of course, as the Albigensian “Crusade.”
Revisionist “historians” of Christianity always seem to overlook the Albigensian Crusade, perhaps because it not only stained the church of the Middle Ages but because it also gave rise to another dark era of religious bullying: The Inquisition. For hundreds of years, men like the legendary Torquemada carried out the bullying of Jews and Moors (Muslims) in Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and scattered places across the rest of Europe.
Bullying the Cathars was an unspeakable atrocity that set the stage for a centuries-long campaign of forcing belief in a faith that, if true, should have sold itself. Wherever a bully practices his craft, you can be sure that his beliefs are not pure, benevolent, or true.
(2670) Christianity’s money scam
Behind the piety and sanctimoniousness, there lies at the heart of Christianity a money-making scam. It is fueled by creating an elaborate media cocoon that prevents most of its followers from accessing information that conflicts with what they are selling. As a result, misinformed people believe in a myth that delivers false hope, expends precious free time, and eats severely into what would otherwise be a financial nest egg for their retirement. The following was taken from:
RELIGION A PROFITABLE MONEY MAKING SCHEME Churches own at least $30,000,000,000 worth of property in the U.S. and they have an income of at least ten billion dollars a year and all this is tax exempt, so it is easy for an alert mind to understand why they are so energetic in trying to keep anyone from learning that their doctrines are false and based upon superstition. Not only do the churches have this tremendous benefit of tax exemption, but the clergy are exempt from the harshness and risk of wounds and death in military service, but they have many other special privileges denied the taxpayers and soldiers, such as half or lower fares on planes, trains and buses. They receive more than their share of the benefits of government without paying any of its costs. Churches are exempt from wage and hour laws, and some work their nuns for nothing by ordinary board and room all their lives, they work children for nothing, they are exempt from social security, unemployment and sales taxes and many of the other government burdens the rest of us have to bear. So it is for their selfish benefit that they have been able to prevent the atheist viewpoint from being fairly heard. If the truth about their religious propaganda were known they would have to pay taxes, go to war, and work like other Americans.
PEOPLE ARE BRAIN STUFFED Religion is imposed upon children before they have mature minds, and sufficient facts stored in their brains to be able to form a judgment based upon reason and evidence. Every effort is made by the clergy to prevent the child from knowing any of the evidence against the religion with which they have been indoctrinated. The schools are not permitted to say a word against religion, the daily papers fear to antagonize powerful church leaders by publishing the evidence discrediting religious doctrines, and not only do the radio and TV broadcasters refrain from permitting atheist programs on the air, but by regulation of the Federal Communications Commission, which has almost absolute power over them, broadcasters are required to provide religion programs for a definite part of their time.
PROHIBITED BOOKS The political boards which control public library policies almost entirely prevent any books exposing religious doctrines from being made available to the public. The few books critical of religion are on reference shelves and must be asked for and read in the reference rooms. Not only do the schools prohibit atheistic books in their class rooms and in their libraries, but actually, by one method or another, indoctrinate the students with religious beliefs, although this is contrary to the Constitution and has been so decided by the U. S. Supreme Court.
Thus the religious forces have been able to prevent the general public from even knowing that there is any opposition to their doctrines and dogmas.
Christianity is so poorly evidenced, that the tactics of child indoctrination and media control are necessary for maintaining or growing their numbers. A flat-out, put- it- all- on- the- table, and let objective minds sort it out will not work for them. A misinformed consumer is their best customer. This is not the earmark of a legitimate product.
(2671) Anne Frank
Christianity has an ‘Anne Frank’ problem and it’s not a trivial problem. Anne is one of the most celebrated victims of the Holocaust and her penchant for writing helped to illuminate the horrors that terrorized European Jewish communities of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Anne never accepted Jesus as her savior and therefore becomes a vulnerable soul in the face of these scriptures:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The following is a short biography of Anne’s life:
Anne Frank was born in the German city of Frankfurt am Main in 1929. Anne’s sister Margot was three years her senior. Unemployment was high and poverty was severe in Germany, and it was the period in which Adolf Hitler and his party were gaining more and more supporters. Hitler hated the Jews and blamed them for the problems in the country. He took advantage of the rampant antisemitic sentiments in Germany. The hatred of Jews and the poor economic situation made Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank, decide to move to Amsterdam. There, Otto founded a company that traded in pectin, a gelling agent for making jam.
Nazi Germany invades the Netherlands
Before long, Anne felt right at home in the Netherlands. She learned the language, made new friends and went to a Dutch school near her home. Her father worked hard to get his business off the ground, but it was not easy. Otto also tried to set up a company in England, but the plan fell through. Things looked up when he started selling herbs and spices in addition to the pectin.
On 1 September 1939, when Anne was 10 years old, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and so the Second World War began. Not long after, on 10 May 1940, the Nazis also invaded the Netherlands. Five days later, the Dutch army surrendered. Slowly but surely, the Nazis introduced more and more laws and regulations that made the lives of Jews more difficult. For instance, Jews could no longer visit parks, cinemas, or non-Jewish shops. The rules meant that more and more places became off-limits to Anne. Her father lost his company, since Jews were no longer allowed to run their own businesses. All Jewish children, including Anne, had to go to separate Jewish schools.
Anne has to go into hiding in the Secret Annex
The Nazis took things further, one step at the time. Jews had to start wearing a Star of David on their clothes and there were rumours that all Jews would have to leave the Netherlands. When Margot received a call-up to report for a so-called ‘labour camp’ in Nazi Germany on 5 July 1942, her parents were suspicious. They did not believe the call-up was about work and decided to go into hiding the next day in order to escape persecution.
In the spring of 1942, Anne’s father had started furnishing a hiding place in the annex of his business premises at Prinsengracht 263. He received help from his former colleagues. Before long, they were joined by four more people. The hiding place was cramped. Anne had to keep very quiet and was often afraid.
Anne keeps a diary
On her thirteenth birthday, just before they went into hiding, Anne was presented with a diary. During the two years in hiding, Anne wrote about events in the Secret Annex, but also about her feelings and thoughts. In addition, she wrote short stories, started on a novel and copied passages from the books she read in her Book of Beautiful Sentences. Writing helped her pass the time.
When the Minister of Education of the Dutch government in England made an appeal on Radio Orange to hold on to war diaries and documents, Anne was inspired to rewrite her individual diaries into one running story, titled Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex).
The hiding place is discovered
Anne started rewriting her diary, but before she was done, she and the other people in hiding were discovered and arrested by police officers on 4 August 1944. The police also arrested two of the helpers. To this day, we do not know the reason for the police raid.
Despite the raid, part of Anne’s writing was preserved: two other helpers took the documents before the Secret Annex was emptied by order of the Nazis.
Anne is deported to Auschwitz
Via the offices of the Sicherheitsdienst (the German security police), a prison in Amsterdam, and the Westerbork transit camp, the people from the Secret Annex were put on transport to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. The train journey took three days, during which Anne and over a thousand others were packed closely together in cattle wagons. There was little food and water and only a barrel for a toilet.
Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Nazi doctors checked to see who would and who would not be able to do heavy forced labour. Around 350 people from Anne’s transport were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Anne, Margot and their mother were sent to the labour camp for women. Otto ended up in a camp for men.
Anne dies from exhaustion in Bergen-Belsen
In early November 1944, Anne was put on transport again. She was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with Margot. Their parents stayed behind in Auschwitz. The conditions in Bergen-Belsen were horrible too. There was a lack of food, it was cold, wet and there were contagious diseases. Anne and Margot contracted typhus. In February 1945 they both died owing to its effects, Margot first, Anne shortly afterwards.
Anne’s father Otto was the only one of the people from the Secret Annex to survive the war. He was liberated from Auschwitz by the Russians and during his long journey back to the Netherlands he learned that his wife Edith had died. Once in the Netherlands, he heard that Anne and Margot were no longer alive either.
Anne’s diary becomes world famous
Anne’s writing made a deep impression on Otto. He read that Anne had wanted to become a writer or a journalist and that she had intended to publish her stories about life in the Secret Annex. Friends convinced Otto to publish the diary and in June 1947, 3,000 copies of Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex) were printed.
And that was not all: the book was later translated into around 70 languages and adapted for stage and screen. People all over the world were introduced to Anne’s story and in 1960 the hiding place became a museum: the Anne Frank House. Until his death in 1980, Otto remained closely involved with the Anne Frank House and the museum: he hoped that readers of the diary would become aware of the dangers of discrimination, racism, and hatred of Jews.
Christians have a difficult time predicting what became of Anne after her death. Most will say that a compassionate god could not have sent her to eternal torment for a life well lived in a circumstance that precluded even a sliver of a chance that she would become a Christian. But in making this concession, they are also admitting that belief in Jesus is not necessary for salvation, destroying the bedrock of Christian dogma. If living a good life ensconced in the milieu of your family’s religious culture is all that is necessary to attain heaven, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Couldn’t Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even atheists claim the same celestial ticket? Why would anyone have to be a Christian?
Alternatively, if Anne was sent to hell or even if she just disappeared and never regained consciousness in any form of an afterlife, then how can a Christian believe that their god has acted morally in this situation? Anne was a beautiful, loving, and compassionate girl who did her best to love and cherish those around her. Any god that would penalize her is not worthy of worship. Yes, the Anne Frank problem is a serious one for Christians to ponder, and a thorough study of her life is likely to change their attitude toward some of the doctrines they have been led to believe.
(2672) Christian apologists are deceptive
The very fact that Christian apologists exist is a problem for Christianity. A true religion would not need such defense. But to make matters worse, these apologists are deceptive and attempt to hoodwink whoever they can to make serious scriptural problems seem less severe. The following is a good example:
Let’s take the example of the Genocide of Midian.
“So kill all the boys and all the women who have had intercourse with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:17-18)
I was talking to someone about this verse and he, like many other religious people, bring up the idea that these girls weren’t raped. They were forcibly married to their captors (and then used for intercourse), maybe at an older age. When you google Christian apologetics for this verse, this is one of the top links that show up: https://askjohnmackay.com/divine-rape-how-you-believe-in-god-would-order-girls-raped-in-numbers-31/
The apologetic talks about the Isrealite marriage laws for kidnapped, non-Jewish women. So he tries his utmost to make it appear that this isn’t rape. Murdering the families of these young virgin daughters and then kidnapping them to “marry” them. Call me an evil atheist, but I think girls should get to choose who they get to marry, and who they give their virginity to.
Christian apologists are honest people, at least, that’s what I believed when I myself was Christian. They are men of the good book after all. The book says lying is a sin. But let’s examine what the apologist says about this:
“No act that could be called rape is ever described in Numbers 31. Yet the God who ordered Moses to war, who did allow soldiers to take captive women as wives, also gave rules for marriage to such captive women. Deuteronomy 21:10 records Moses informing the people that: “When you go forth to war against your enemies, and >>the Lord your God has delivered them into your hands<< and you have taken them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and desire her, and take her for a wife -Then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and do her nails, and she shall remove the garment of her captivity from her, and remain in your house and weep for her father and mother a for month, and after that you may approach her and have intercourse with her, and she shall be your wife.”
“You may approach her and have intercourse with her”, God is saying it is okay to do this to these captured daughters. Did God ever think about the feelings of these girls? Or are they just sexual property? The daughter didn’t have any say in the matter.
To my surprise, the Deuteronomy verses quoted in the Christian apologetic article conveniently left out the last verse where it says the following:
“And if you do not want her, you shall send her out on her own; you shall not sell her at all for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, because you violated her.”
Just to note again, it says “if you do not want her let her go”, not “if she does not want you let her go”.
At first you might have thought that the “intercourse” mentioned prior could have been consensual (yeah, I’m sure this kidnapped girl that just had her parents murdered by these people would have consensual sex with these people), but it turns out that God is giving these kidnapped virgin girls into their hands in order to rape them, or to have them forcibly married and then raped.
I will use the verse which the Christian conveniently and dishonestly left out to prove that the holy and just God of the Bible is aiding and abetting mass sexual abuse of daughters. As you read the Bible, you suddenly notice the children of Israel are precisely all the time being ordered to covet. Being enjoined to covet, being told they must envy and hope to annex the lands, the animals and the women and young daughters of neighboring tribes. They kept going by greed, by the thought that soon, all these peoples properties shall be ours. And that we’ll be licensed to take it by force, and kill them and have the land but not their people. This is perhaps why there are no prohibitions against, say, slavery, rape, genocide, or child abuse in the 10 Commandments.
Despite the fact that there is no legitimate way to defend this scripture or to rescue their god from being the monster that he clearly is, apologists take on the impossible, knowing that there are ‘sheep in the pews’ who will believe whatever they say. The job of an apologist is analogous to the people who erect a ‘Potemkin Village,’ a row of building facades to create the illusion of a vibrant city, so that when the king rides though he will be impressed by what he sees. The end result excuses the deception, and as the Christian ‘rides though life’ he can gawk at the facades that have been carefully constructed for his indoctrination.
(2673) Yahweh is obsolete
The alpha male, warlike, egotistical, quick to punish and kill, Abrahamic god is quite obviously a product of its time, invented by Iron Age people who were constantly in fear of neighboring people. They needed the assurance of a strong, overbearing, retributive deity to protect them and to oppress their enemies. Yahweh was selected as the one that best fit that need. But Yahweh is obsolete today. Humans have moved on from the gladiatorial days where most disputes were settled by violence. A god invented in the 21st Century would likely resemble Mahatma Gandhi, a quiet, peaceful, sagacious savant.
It would possibly resemble what is described in the following quote by YouTube author DarkMatter 2525:
“Even though I’m a nonbeliever, would I be scared to learn that God really does exist? No. Far from it. The belief that God desires praise, worship, and violent retribution, comes from a lack of understanding about what it’s like to be an enlightened being. It is ignorance projecting ignorance. The theist view of God is actually far more insulting than the atheist view. It is commonly held that the atheist is the offensive one, that the nonbeliever must walk on eggshells, and be considerate of the beliefs of others. That seems backwards to me. What if there is a god and that god is offended at the thought of people believing he desires worship and praise, demands it even, for eternity – like some petty narcissist? What if that god is disappointed in those who expected him to torture their enemies? What if the believers and the nonbelievers are made to face their creator, and it is the believers who must answer for their offensive beliefs? Even if that’s the case, I don’t think any of us would have anything to worry about, believer and nonbeliever alike, because any mind capable of creating this universe would be enlightened to the point of being beyond such petty concerns.”
Contemporary Christians are stuck in a hard spot, having to lug their narcissistic, militant, and sometimes evil god alongside their daily interpretations of the modern world. It is becoming increasingly embarrassing as almost all people today reflect more sophistication and poise than Yahweh. To be sure, it’s very difficult for an enlightened person to worship an unenlightened god.
(2674) Real sacrifices
Christians fawn over the ‘sacrifice’ that Jesus endured for humankind. What a fucking farce! He endured a few hours of pain (which, being God, he could have turned off or converted to orgasmic pleasure) before being re-established as an eternity deity. The following discusses examples of real sacrifice:
It’s the most iconic story in the Christian Bible. Jesus allows himself to be mocked, beaten, tortured, humiliated and eventually crucified, all so he could save us all from sin.
Sure, sounds horrible. But none of this was permanent so what’s the point? In a couple days Jesus rose from the dead, his wounds were miraculously healed and then he went back up to heaven and became God again. If I had the ability to just rise up after death and become a fucking god, I would be sacrificing myself the first chance I get.
Let’s look at some real sacrifices:
How about in wartimes when millions of young men with their entire lives ahead of them fought and died for their country? They sacrificed their lives in the hopes that their loved ones would be saved.
How about the police officers and firefighters who risk their lives every single day just to make sure that we are safe? They go to work every day acknowledging the fact that this could be their last.
How about the doctors and surgeons who work extremely long shifts, some upwards of 15 hours a day just to make sure their patients get the best possible treatment?
How about the millions of volunteers who travel to war torn areas of the world, places full of poverty, danger and suffering, just so they can help people who are less fortunate than they are?
How about all the parents who work tirelessly every day just so their kids can have a nice meal every day and have a roof over their heads?
These are REAL sacrifices, where people put other people’s lives before their own. Jesus didn’t sacrifice himself. He just had a bad few days. It’s not a sacrifice if you don’t lose something substantial as a result of your actions. And Jesus didn’t lose shit. He just went back home to daddy and got a big pat on the back, and now for some reason Christians are so amazed at how selfless Jesus was. And what exactly did Jesus do? Save us from sin?
Sin still exists buddy. The world is filled with poverty, suffering, war, famine and fear. All because there is sin all around us. So what the fuck was the point?
Christians have been so brainwashed that they can’t see how ridiculous this is. The greatest sacrifice of all time?- not even remotely close.
(2675) Wife-sister narratives
One of the ways to analyze an ancient text to determine the likelihood that it reflects accurate history is to locate the presence of recurrent themes, a technique generally associated with fiction. One of the most flagrant examples is the multiple wife-sister stories in Genesis. The following was taken from:
There are three wife-sister narratives in Genesis, part of the Torah, all of which are strikingly similar. The narratives occur in Genesis 12, 20 and 26. At the core of each is the story of a biblical patriarch who has come to be in the land of a powerful foreign overlord who misidentifies the Patriarch’s wife as the Patriarch’s sister, and consequently attempts to wed her himself. The overlord later finds out his error. Two of the three stories are similar in many other details, including the ruler’s name, Abimelech.
Abram and Pharaoh
The first episode appears in Genesis 12:10–20. Abram (later called Abraham) moves to ancient Egypt in order to evade a famine. Because his wife and half-sister, Sarai (later called Sarah), is very beautiful, Abram asks her to say that she was only his sister lest the Egyptians kill him so that they can take her. On arriving before the Pharaoh, the Egyptians recognize Sarai’s beauty, and the Egyptian princes shower Abram with gifts of livestock and servants to gain her hand in marriage. Sarai thus becomes part of “Pharaoh’s house”, but Yahweh sends a plague. Pharaoh restores Sarai to Abram and orders them to leave Egypt with all the possessions Abram had acquired in Egypt.
Abraham and Abimelech
Genesis 20:1–16 narrates the story of Abraham emigrating to the southern region of Gerar, whose king is named Abimelech. Abraham states that Sarah, his wife, is really his sister, leading Abimelech to try to take Sarah as a wife; however, God intervened before Abimelech touched Sarah. Abimelech complains to Abraham, who states that Sarah is his half-sister.
Abimelech then restores Sarah to Abraham, and gives him gifts of livestock and servants by way of apology, and also allows Abraham to reside anywhere in Gerar. Abimelech also gives 1000 pieces of silver to Abraham to reprove Sarah by a “covering of the eyes“. Abraham then prays for Abimelech and the king and his wife and concubines are able to conceive children; they previously could not.
Isaac and Abimelech
The third episode appears in Genesis 26:1–33. Here it is Isaac who, in order to avoid a famine, emigrates to the southern region of Gerar, whose king is named Abimelech. Isaac has been told to do so by God, who also orders him to avoid Egypt, and promises to him the fulfillment of the oath made with Abraham. Isaac states that Rebekah, his wife, is really his sister, as he is worried that the Philistines will otherwise kill him in order to marry Rebekah. After a while, Abimelech sees Isaac sporting (Hebrew mitsahek) with Rebekah and states that she must be Isaac’s wife rather than his sister.
Abimelech then orders that Rebekah be left alone by the denizens of Gerar, on pain of death. Isaac goes on to spend a year in the area, and becomes wealthy, leading the Philistines in Gerar to envy him, so Abimelech sends Isaac away.
True history rarely repeats in such fashion, so we can be fairly confident that these stories are repeated reflections of a fictional meme that was popular in its time. Similar thematic repetition occurs throughout the Bible.
(2676) Christianity’s dozen painful facts
It is best for a Christian to stay uninformed, uninquisitive, and uneducated about their faith. If they were to become cognizant of any of the following twelve well-documented facts, it might start them on a journey of uneasy psychological dissonance:
Fact 1: The earliest official gospel (Mark) was written over a generation (40 years) after the alleged death of Jesus and subsequently, it fails the historical test of contemporaneity.
Fact 2: 612 of the 662 verses in the Gospel of Mark can all be found in Matthew, and in largely the same order, thereby demonstrating that the anonymous author of “Matthew” copied heavily from the Gospel of Mark.
Fact 3: The gospels were written by anonymous authors and later falsely attributed to authors who did not write them, nor were these anonymous authors eyewitnesses, with two of gospels, John (See John 21:24) and Luke, (See Luke 1:1-4) specifically stating that they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus.
Fact 4: The gospels contain numerous forgeries, contradictions and errors.
Fact 5: The four gospels were not selected as orthodox Scripture until 180 CE (approx.)
Fact 6: There are no first century witnesses outside of the corrupt and biased gospels that attest to the earthly existence of Jesus Christ, but for a forged passage in the work of the Jewish Historian, Josephus (Testimonium Flavianum), and a second reference in that same compromised work, which is also suspect and in no way represents a specific reference to the Jesus of the gospels.
Fact 7: Almost all of the myths and moral philosophies attributed to Jesus can be found in earlier mythologies and philosophies, held by people that were proximate to the lands in which the gospels first arose.
Fact 8: Most of the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was either a phantom (non-human apparition), or a completely human Jewish rabbi.
Fact 9: Christianity only rose to power due to its blatant disregard for its own Scripture – meaning, it aligned itself with a psychotic “pagan” emperor, Constantine, who boiled his wife in a hot tub, murdered his own son and executed his co-emperor, and he merely used Christianity to solidify his political ambitions (sole emperorship), evidenced by the fact that he continued to practice his pagan faith and mint his coins with Mithras (pagan sun-god), long after his alleged conversion.
Fact 10: The sect of Christians that aligned themselves with Constantine became known as the Catholic (Universal) Church and their chief historian, Eusebius, re-wrote Christian history to present a false picture that favored his sect and made it look as if his group’s theology, found in the four official gospels, was always the dominant and original form, when such was not the case.
Fact 11: For the majority of its history (4th Century – 19th Century), Christianity has been a violent religion, which, like a deadly virus, has taken over its hosts and killed in order to spread.
Fact 12: When Christianity had temporal authority, it was just as brutal as Islam. The only reason we see more psychotic behavior from religious nuts in Islamic countries today, versus Western countries, is because the West has become increasingly secularized.
Fact 13 should be that no true religion would encounter these types of issues, given that a supposedly supernatural, omniscient being was its founder. But if that was so, we can conjecture one of two possibilities- this deity is incompetent or else it deliberately set about to make it appear that it was incompetent for some evidently nefarious purpose.
(2677) Cognitive flexibility
Research has shown that damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex can reduce a person’s ability to revise their beliefs after being exposed to disconfirming information (a capability known as cognitive flexibility). A loss of such flexibility often results in religious fundamentalism. The following was taken from:
Grafman’s research utilized data gathered from Vietnam War veterans as part of the Vietnam Head Injury Study. They compared levels of religious fundamentalism between 119 vets who had lesions and 30 veterans who didn’t. Every person took the same set of tests (questionnaires).
We all possess a mental trait called ‘cognitive flexibility’ – the brain’s ability to easily switch from thinking about one concept to another, and to think about multiple things simultaneously. Through evolutionary necessity, we acquired this useful skill. It allows us to update beliefs in light of new evidence. Psychologically speaking, cognitive flexibility is a term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.
Cognitive flexibility allows individuals to make more accurate predictions about the world under new and changing conditions and is therefore a crucial mental characteristic for adapting to new environments. This ability is a role of the prefrontal cortex. They discovered that through brain imaging research.
“The variation in the nature of religious beliefs are governed by specific brain areas in the anterior parts of the human brain and those brain areas are among the most recently evolved areas of the human brain.” – Grafman
If there is damage to the prefrontal cortex in an individual then their cognitive flexibility may be impaired. It means that open-mindedness presents a challenge; and since religious fundamentalism involves a strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, it would seem like the comfortable option for such an individual.
This is why Dr. Grafman and his team predicted that participants with lesions to this region of the brain would score low on measures of cognitive flexibility and trait openness and high on measures of religious fundamentalism – which they did. These results suggest that damage to the vmPFC (prefrontal cortex region specific to cognitive flexibility) indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by suppressing both cognitive flexibility and openness.
In conclusion, these findings suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile—can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. What this means is that in some people, the system of “belief revision” may become suppressed due to brain damage.
People with low-functioning prefrontal cortexes are religion’s best customers because they are dependable followers no matter what happens. Apologetics are not needed. They will continue to believe regardless of anything that happens or in the wake of any scientific discovery.
On the other hand, those with no cerebral impairment are the targets of apologetics because these individuals can be persuaded by new information. Based on recent surveys showing a sharp increase in the number of ex-Christians, these people must be finding the apologist arguments lacking. When apologetics fail to convince fully cognizant people, it suggests that what is being argued for is not true.
(2678) Christianity and sociopathy
It could be generally assumed that a human connection to the universal god would engender the best ethical and moral behavior among its followers. But, in reality, this has instead been a source of criticism of Christianity, based on its less than stellar past (Inquisition, Crusades, burning witches, killing scientists, etc.) Apologists acknowledge this but assert that modern Christianity has redeemed the brand- that contemporary Christians are exhibiting the tolerance, compassion, and love of Jesus- and all of this providing evidence for the truth of the faith. But, in the past 50 years, it appears that Christianity is back to its old tricks, spreading sociopathy throughout the land. The following was taken from:
Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of these initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology.
Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?
Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).
We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.
Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said after the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” This “minister of God” showed no compassion for the families of the men and women who died. He appeared incapable of laying aside his religious beliefs for even a moment of shared human connection to a tragic event.
And recently, Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, according to her website, wrote a public blog called “Giving Your Child to the Devil.” She claimed, “Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.” She listed Matthew 10:37 as justification, which says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
In a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, martyr’s rant, she claims her son turned his back on God, and she was left with no other option but to abandon him. It turns out her son is gay and – it turns out – the day the diatribe was posted was his wedding day. Sharon Hambrick, a Christian writer, posted a wonderful response to this mom.
But mostly, rather than calling these people out for sociopathic behavior fellow Christians agree. Many of the comments on Higginbotham’s website say, “So sorry for your loss,” or, “Praying for you and your son.”
It’s common for us to avoid cognitive dissonance, when our beliefs dictate one thing, but our experiences show us something else is true. We call this living in denial, and we all do it on one level or another. But when we choose our “truth” while coldly watching a fellow human being suffer, we’ve crossed a line of mental health.
The 2016 election demonstrated an especially high level of insincerity, shamelessness, poor judgment and pathological egocentricity among Christian evangelicals. James Dobson, who once said of Bill Clinton, “Character does matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world,” and then said of Donald Trump, “I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example. It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.”
The evangelical Christian message is loud and clear. They care for no one but themselves. Their devotion is to the version of Christianity they have created, which calls for ruthless abandonment of immigrants, women, children – even their own – and anyone else who doesn’t fall inline with their message. Social justice, which is mentioned in Bible verses over two thousand times, has been replaced with hardline political ideology. Principle over people. Indifference over involvement. Judgment over generosity.
Every generation redefines what it means to be, or belong to a religious group. Religious ideologies, interpretations, and doctrines are fluid. But whatever it is, or whatever it becomes, is made by the people who belong to the religion and what they collectively decide to make it.
If Christianity is true, then Christians alone would be imbued with a supernatural guiding force that would outshine non-Christians in all aspects of human behavior. The fact that we observe the opposite leads one to conclude that the premise is false.
(2679) Why people invented religion
There exist many reasons why humans invented religion, and it is nearly certain that wherever intelligent life has evolved in the universe, that such civilizations went through a period of religious belief. The Earth is nearing the end of this period, but it is enlightening to review some of reasons why religions were invented in the first place. The following was taken from:
1) To make sense of their world
Humans are meaning seeking beings. They want answers to questions: why did the sky erupt in fire? Why did the sun go dark? Why did my newborn daughter die? And the list goes on. For many of these occurrences, early humans felt pure terror. Even when we know what causes an earthquake today, it still causes fear and alarm for those affected. So how do we make sense of these events? Early humans created an explanation by positing the notion of some kind of a supernatural entity that was angry at them. Many of the early deities, not surprisingly, were sky gods—they lived “up there” and rained down fire and calamities on the humans living below. To appease these deities—to make them less angry—people developed practices such as animal and human sacrifice as well as other rituals. As Robert Wright explains, humans tried “to raise the ratio of good to bad.” As our knowledge of our world grew, primarily through science, we learned that events such as eclipses are predictable and that the universe is immeasurably vast. As this happened, the sky god moved from the physical sphere to a more spiritual one. Unfortunately, some religions today have mired themselves so deeply in their stories, that they have become oblivious to new discoveries in science, with some believing that the earth was created in 4004 BCE because of the calculations of the 17th century Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland), James Ussher. 39% of Americans recently polled believe that the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago.
2) To provide for a sense of belonging
Humans are not the only species on this planet that operate within social groups. They are also not the only ones that show empathy. Barbara King writes about the youngest son of Flo, an ape, who was unable to cope with his mother’s death. He stopped eating and died 3 1/2 weeks after his mother. The roots of our dependence on others go deep. Most scholars believe the word religion comes from the Latin word religare, which means to bind fast. While the word bind has both positive and negative connotations, it indicates something that holds people together. Modern religion has a myriad of activities that provide cohesion for a group: stories that trace the history of a culture, rituals such as communion, music in many forms, and ceremonies that cover virtually every aspect of life from birth to death. The negative aspects of the word to bind also come into play with the practices of some religions, such as disfellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon), which banishes members from their families and friends when they leave the church.
3) To seek help in their endeavors
Imagine a Paleolithic cave. It is a refuge from a harsh environment. Evidence of fires near the entrance show where the people lived, ate, and gave birth. Female figurines, often with pregnant bellies, are mostly found in this area. In the back of the cave, one finds the wall paintings of animals, such as those at Lascaux in France. Some of these paintings show evidence of being painted over multiple times. This is the space for the hunters and the shaman. What can they do to assure success in the hunt? Does the shaman lead them in incantations? Does he perform another type of ritual? Shamans, as studied in existing cultures, are the first religious “experts.” It is likely they existed in the Paleolithic era as well. As Robert Wright explains, shamans are a crucial first step in the emergence of organized religion. They move the group from a “fluid amalgam of beliefs about a fluid amalgam of spirits and what religion came to be: a distinct body of belief and practice, kept in shape by an authoritarian institution.” The shamans gave the hunters hope that they would be successful. Given the fact that even today we only notice when a good result comes from religious efforts such as prayer (and forget all those times when it does not), it is not surprising that the hunters became reliant on the shamans.
4) To unify diverse people
It is believed that hunter-gatherer groups were more or less egalitarian. As small groups, they were fairly homogenous. When our hunter-gatherer ancestors developed agriculture, they became more sedentary. Instead of wandering small bands, these tribes coalesced into larger entities. Undoubtedly, there was great diversity among these tribes who may have had little contact with others. Religion, with all that comes with it, can unify a group. As an example, as people came to the Nile, they brought their individual tribal gods with them in the form of a mascot or tribal fetish. As the country unified these diverse groups, a more cohesive theology developed to worship Ra, the sun god, who also became the symbolic father of the Pharaoh. Unity also makes it easier to defend one’s ground, which became a necessity once agriculture developed. It is always easier to fight “the other” when your leader is telling you that they don’t believe in your god. We see this today as ISIS attracts people from diverse nations to fight all who do not believe as they do. In some ways, nothing has changed.
5) To instill order
Settling in villages requires some type of order. The larger the community, the greater the need for a set of codes or laws to not only guide behavior, but to provide punishment for those who refuse to obey. Religion helped provide that. The very first laws were discovered in Elba (modern-day Syria) and date from 2400 BCE. More well-known is Hammurabi’s (1792-50 BCE) code, carved on a stone tablet (and now in the Louvre in Paris), whose purpose is stated clearly from the beginning—“Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind …” The Ten Commandments, which is found in two versions in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy and formed the basis of Jewish law, came much later around 1000 BCE. In Judaism, it was the Levites who served as priests in the temple. As priests, they served to enforce the rules and norms of the state. Temples were indeed the first statehouses. All of these examples, of course, predate any notion of separation of church and state.
6) To create a compassionate practice
Neanderthal, a precursor to modern humans, lived from 400,000 to about 40,000 years ago. A skeleton, referred to as Shanidar I, shows an individual that had clearly been disabled long before his death. Others must have cared for him in order for him to survive. This is probably the first evidence of a compassionate practice in a social group. Later on, virtually all civilizations adopted some form of the Golden Rule including most religions. Native American Spiritually says it this way: “All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One.” Jainism states: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” The Yoruba, an ethnic people in Nigeria, have one of my favorite renditions: “One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts.” If we are going to live together, we need to be mindful of how we treat each other. Unfortunately, our history shows that this does not always apply to those outside our tribe, our ethnic group, or our nation. In fact, religion has been used to engage in wars, subordinate women, condone slavery, and justify genocide in spite of the lofty precepts of the Golden Rule.
7) To create stories that tell the history of a culture and its people
The Egyptian Pyramid Texts are the first recorded stories that can be called the basis of a religion. They date from the third millennium BCE, contain a creation myth and introduce one of their gods, Osiris. Another early text from the second millennium BCE that many believe influenced the biblical writers is the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish. It describes the victory of god Marduk over the goddess Tiamat. While scholars disagree on the date of its origin, it predates the Bible. The Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible is an amazing creation in and of itself. Written, edited, and compiled over a several hundred-year span, it contains not only a creation story, the description of a god, but the history of a people. It is truly remarkable that more than 2,500 years later, some Jews still follow the dictates of Leviticus including dietary restrictions. One would think that the similar elements in these stories would lead to the classification of mythology for all of them. However, when Edith Hamilton’s book on mythology was taught in my high school class, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were not included. I find it interesting that religious people so easily dismiss the beliefs of others as myths, but refuse to examine their own stories in that same light.
8) To provide hope for a life after this one
Neanderthal graves show the earliest evidence of intentionality. Shells are placed in the eye sockets, red ocher is used to paint the bones, and objects undoubtedly belonging to the deceased are placed in the grave. Becoming aware of one’s own morality was undoubtedly frightening. In the harshness of early humans’ lives, the lure of an afterlife must have been overwhelming. Many religions posit some type of afterlife. Egyptians mummified their dead and filled the tombs of the rich with grave goods because they believed that the physical body would be needed in the afterlife. Later on, religious views of the afterlife took on a more spiritual nature. Even later still, the notion of hell came into play. Both of these concepts allowed religious institutions to control their followers. But ask yourself, how did that work out for the Egyptians? We now dissect their mummies. Do you really need the promise of an afterlife and the threat of hell to live a good life on Earth? Why is it that the least religious countries such as Norway and Sweden have the most generous social programs while the Christian Republican candidates for president want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood that provides needed health services for poor women?
9) To explain evil
Human beings have always done evil things. From the earliest skeletons ever discovered, there are examples of man-made injuries. Today, one only has to listen to the first five minutes of a newscast to hear the latest murder, rape, or other criminal act. While the Old Testament talks about Satan, he is an adversary directed by god. It is only in the New Testament and later Christian writings that Satan is developed into the personification of a supernatural evil being who tempts man. The presence of an evil entity in a book that talks about an all-powerful god is a bit hard to fathom. Why didn’t god just do away with Satan? If he is omniscient and all powerful, certainly that would have been a choice. Christian apologists like to use the notion of free will to explain the presence of evil. However there is no free will involved in being infected with the plague or in a newborn baby that dies shortly after it is born.
10) To feel good
Valerie Tarico writes that “Worship practices, music and religious architecture have been optimized over time to evoke right brain sensations of transcendence and euphoria.” Standing in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I can attest to those sensations: the beauty of the Rose Window with all of its shimmering colors as the light filters through and the vibrations from the massive pipe organ pumping out an old hymn. Imagine what it felt to the hungry poor masses as they entered this place of worship in the 14th century shortly after it was completed. I will wager that virtually everyone raised in a faith can attest to Tarico’s explanation. For my part, I can still sing from memory the Christian hymns I learned as a child. When my brother was still alive, he, my sister, and I would break out into the hymn “God’s Word is Our Great Heritage” which the youth choir sang as it marched triumphantly down the center aisle of Trinity Lutheran Church in Bismarck, North Dakota.
From Neanderthal to the present day, we have tried to explain why we are here on this earth and what is our purpose. It is not surprising that religion helped us cope. But it is time to examine whether we would be better off letting go of this mythology and focusing on the grave problems we and our planet face. We can’t afford to brush off climate change with “God has a plan” or excuse tragedies with “There must be a purpose” or “They are in a better place, in heaven.” These words will just not move us forward to make the changes we need to make to improve the lives of those who suffer and to leave this planet in a better place for our children and grandchildren.
None of these reasons involve an objective review of scientific evidence or observing the success rate of prayers or anything that would point to the truth of one religion over another, or any religion for that matter. There were many incentives for humankind to invent superstitious beliefs and it did so with a vengeance to the tune of at least 10,000 separate religions worldwide.
(2680) Atheists hold the higher moral ground
Christians, for all intents and purposes, are forced to subscribe to the concept that non-believers are in grave peril, and will, in the afterlife, be subjected to immense suffering, potentially for an eternity. Without doubt, they will become disinterested bystanders while this is occurring and not just support, but actually worship, the monster who is doing this. Atheists, on the other hand, would go to the ends of the earth to protest and, if possible, stop such an atrocity from being inflicted on dead Christians. Where is the moral high ground? The following was taken from:
Imagine meeting a stranger for the first time. This stranger says to you “You, your family and your friends all deserve to be tortured forever. When this happens, and it will happen, I will not lift a finger to save you, and I will not say a word in protest.” Can you imagine anything more offensive than this?
Yet this is precisely what Christianity teaches, and what you just subscribe to if you’re a Christian. Jesus says “The non-believers will be harvested up like wheat, then burnt”. I may strongly disagree with Christians, but I would NEVER want them to be tortured forever, and you can bet I would protest if someone tried, and do everything in my power to stop that. Yet they apparently would not extend this to me.
This is not a nuanced situation- it’s not a close call. Christians are compelled by their indoctrination to look the other way and stay quietly reverent, while atheists are free to access their innate sense of fairness and compassion. On a 3D moral landscape, the atheist occupies higher ground than the Christian.
(2681) Ten reasons to abandon Christianity
For anyone questioning whether they should let go of their Christian beliefs, the following list discusses some very good reasons for doing so:
1) Christianity—in all its obnoxious denominations—is illogical, irrational, unreasonable and, of greatest import, unscientific. From mammalian parthenogenesis to talking non-human animals, from repeated corpse resurrection to impossible human longevity, this particular brand of mythology is unscientific to its core. Various absurdities, found in both the Old and New Testaments, simply cannot be reconciled with science-based reality and natural principles.
2) The Bible, in the not-too-distant past, reasonably has been interpreted to permit—or even condone—“witch” burnings, slavery, torture, female subservience and all manner of detestable horror. True, some passages in the Good Book speak about love, charity, forgiveness and solidarity. But, other passages—equally numerous if not more—prescribe stoning people to death for fictitious offenses such as gathering sticks on the Sabbath. In short, the very same tome that pious people clutch in church on Sundays was in the bloodstained hands of murderous primitives inflicting the thumbscrew on innocents guilty only of non-conformity in a Christofascist, pre-scientific world.
3) James Ussher’s Bible-based dating of Creation—that it took place nightfall before October 23, 4004 BCE—is egregiously, laughably fictitious. As Sam Harris snickers, “This is, incidentally, about a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.” A 6000-year-old earth is so absurdly in conflict with the evidence as to make the proposition strictly comical and unworthy of scholarly attention. In contrast to the Bible’s small and young (and non-existent) universe, cosmologists have discovered that there are more than one hundred billion (10^11) galaxies in our universe, each featuring hundreds of billions of stars. The sun—the center of our solar system—is merely an ordinary star, in an ordinary galaxy. Our universe is roughly 13.7 billion years old. And, who knows if we might live in some sort of grand cosmic multiverse, of which our universe is merely an insignificant speck.
4) Atheism is the only consistent position with respect to faith-based religious mythology. Christians, for example, are non-believers with respect to every faith except Christianity. Christians are utterly atheistic about every deity (of the infinitely many which could be conceived) except Yahweh. How oddly inconsistent. Muslims, too, reject every world religion save for Islam, which, to them, has a monopoly on absolute Truth. How is it reasonable to reject 10,000 faith-based religions, yet cling to the absolute authority of one? The only reasonable method by which to choose one religion over another would be hard evidence—something that all modern religions lack equally. Absent hard evidence, isn’t faith in Yahweh equal to faith in Enlil (or any other fantastical imagining)?
5) Historic “heroes” of Christianity are worthy neither of respect nor reverence. Harris writes, “It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews and witches.” Here, once again, we return to severe punishments prescribed for fictitious offenses. The Christofascist societies of centuries past (ruled over by the same Bible one finds at Sunday Services) bear a frightening resemblance to the modern-day Islamofascist Middle East, into which we have butted our collective nose.
6) Yahweh is woefully unworthy of worship. As portrayed in the Old Testament, he is the very embodiment of human frailty: vicious, vengeful, jealous, egotistical, insecure and, most frighteningly, endlessly murderous. Yahweh also seems to have difficulty separating the important from the insignificant, as evidenced by the Ten Commandments. Harris writes, “And what are we to make of the fact that, in bringing his treatise to a close, the creator of our universe could think of no human concerns more pressing and durable than the coveting of servants and livestock?” Yahweh’s special list of ten alternates between self-aggrandizement, statements of the obvious, pronouncements of the silly and declarations of the trivial.
7) No God, the Christian character or otherwise, should be worshipped given the results with which we live. If Yahweh is real, then cancer, smallpox, AIDS, malaria and aphasia are all products of his cloud-enshrouded laboratory. “Acts of God” such as Hurricane Katrina and the devastating tsunami of a few years ago are exactly that—the life-extinguishing playthings of the creator of the cosmos. Then there are starvation, homelessness, birth defects, genetic disease….
8) Piety can directly result in mass death. Harris writes, “Christian missionaries have been known to preach the sinfulness of condom use in villages where no other information about condoms is available. This kind of piety is genocidal.” He continues, in a note, “If you can believe it, the Vatican is currently opposed to condom use even to prevent the spread of HIV from one married partner to another.” This is truly sickening, folks. In the fundamentalist mind, agonizing death is preferable to the imagined sin of sex aided by contraceptive.
9) Virulent Christian anti-Semitism helped create the environment in which the Holocaust took place. Harris writes, “…the anti-Semitism that built the Nazi death camps was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity. For centuries, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful. While the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominantly secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued throughout the period. The Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914. And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.”
10) Let us turn, for just for a moment, to David Mills’ Atheist Universe: “The Church angrily denounced the introduction of medicines, antibiotics, anesthesia, surgery, blood transfusions, birth control, transplants, in vitro fertilization and most forms of pain killers. Supposedly, these scientific tools interfered with nature and were therefore against God’s will.” The Church’s modern-day anti-science positions, obviously, should come as no shock. Diminishing human suffering never has been a high-level concern. After all, in a mind deranged by religion, there is another life to which to look forward. The earthly is merely ephemeral and, thus, suffering is a-ok.
The reasons for maintaining Christian beliefs usually fall into the categories of family harmony, protecting business or career success, keeping friendships, and preserving a slice of hope for an afterlife. But these are all detached from what should be the most admirable and ultimate goal – establishing a relationship with reality.
(2682) The decree that launched 1500 years of mayhem
The success of Christianity depended on the assistance of the Roman Empire, without which no one today would be believing in Jesus as anything other than possibly a failed Jewish prophet. The key event occurred over 350 years after the alleged life of Jesus. The following was taken from:
If you encounter a Christian defending her faith purely based on its popularity, you would do well to inform her that Christianity was a very minor cult in the fourth century, while “pagan” religions, especially Mithraism, were much more popular in the Empire—and the Jesus cult would have faded into oblivion if not for an imperial decree.
From No Meek Messiah:
It is 391 CE now as Roman Emperor Theodosius elevates Jesus (posthumously) to divinity, declaring Christianity the only “legitimate” religion of the world, under penalty of death. The ancient myth is rendered law. This decision by Theodosius is possibly the worst ever made in human history: what followed were century after century of torture and murder in the name of this false, faked, folkloric “prophesied savior” of fictional virgin mother. Within a year after the decree by Theodosius, crazed Christian monks of Nitria destroy the majestic Alexandrian Library largely because philosophy and science are taught there—not the Bible. In Alexandria these are times of the highest of intellectual pursuits, all quashed by superstitious and ignorant Christians of the most godly and murderous variety: they had the “Holy Bible” on their side.
Emperor Theodosius I could have had no idea how much harm this blunder would cause humanity over the centuries that followed. Christianity was made the only legal cult of the empire, and for the next 1500 years, good Christians would murder all non-Christians they could find by the tens of millions.
Few Christians understand that their faith is the product of a quirk of history that happened over 1700 years ago. In effect they are like mindless robots set in motion by the Emperor Theodosius.
After a period of time offering devotion to a pantheon of gods, the Israelites eventually settled on Yahweh as the only god that they worshiped. Yet, even then, they sprinkled a few clues within their scriptures suggesting that Yahweh was not the only god in existence- that other tribes had their own gods, a concept known as monolatry. This contradicts the current belief of Jews and Christians that Yahweh is the one and only god. The following was taken from:
It seems obvious that the ancient Israelites were not monotheists, but instead practiced monolatry, the worship of one god combined with a belief in existence of other gods. This is the best explanation of the first commandment’s “no other gods before me” as well as of Psalm 86:8’s “there is none like you among the gods.” But there are also events described in the Bible that suggest belief in other gods.
One that is particularly interesting is mentioned in the book Bible Prophecy by Tim Callahan:
In 2 Kings 3:27, when Moab is under siege by the Israelites, the king of that city sacrifices his firstborn son to the god Chemosh. As a result, “there came a great wrath upon Israel,” and Moab was spared. Now, why would there be a great wrath upon Israel if the only god in existence were Yahweh? It makes no sense for Yahweh to be angry with the Israelites for what the king of Moab did; if anything, he’d be mad at the king, and give Israel a victory. The obvious implication is that the god Chemosh, happy with the sacrifice, caused Israel’s defeat. And yet this account was written by an Israelite, and included in their scriptures. This can only mean that the Israelites believed Chemosh was real. It also implies (even more shockingly) that they believed Chemosh had the power to do something that Yahweh didn’t stop — and perhaps was unable to stop.
This is obviously a problem for any fundamentalist who interprets the Bible literally. But it is also a problem for every other modern-day Christian or Jew. Why would the one true God, who didn’t want his chosen people to worship other deities, be okay with his followers believing these other deities existed? Worse, why would he allow them to suggest as much in their holy book? Isn’t it far more likely that the Israelites were worshiping a false god (just like all the other ancients were), and that the monotheistic God that evolved from that false god is therefore also a fictional entity?
It’s inconceivable that the Israelites, the alleged chosen people, would be confused about the existence of gods other than Yahweh. It seems clear that they went through a three-pronged theological odyssey- from polytheists to monolatrists to monotheists. This type of progressive theology is incompatible with the underlying dogma that the one and only god made them his special project from day one- but very compatible with the time-honored tradition of humans creating and then modifying their own deities.
(2683) The assumption of truth
Christianity perpetuates itself by instilling in its follower a highly selective assumption of truth in its doctrines, traditions, and miracles while simultaneously infusing an assumption of falsehood in whatever things competing religions hold dear. None of this requires a presentation of evidence. It is simply published as a statement of fact for which faith is both expected and required. In fact, this is the modus operandi of all religions. The following was taken from:
Most of our world’s major religions each assume that it is their faith alone that is the “absolute truth” and refuse to concede that those traditions may be mistaken. Instead, they discover ways to force conflicting information to adapt to their own doctrine; no matter how effective the evidence is at actually disproving the rationality of that particular religion.
Many religious adherents have no problem understanding the irrationality of others beliefs, but are unable to apply the same logic when observing their own doctrine. Instead, every effort is made to justify why it is their – and only their – religion that is void of any fault. If they were to observe their own faith with the same set of scrutinizing eyes that they see through when evaluating other’s faiths, they would understand what many of us have already concluded – all of our religious texts were written by people, not gods. They are the stories and traditions that we created in order to explain our world in the past.
For instance, the majority of Christians would agree that the idea of Mohammad riding a flying horse into the heavens is an impossible fairy-tale; while simultaneously, they are unable to see how their own story of a talking snake or a man living inside a fish for three days is also impossible. We know that horses can’t fly. They are not airborne animals, they are land animals. We know that snakes can’t speak – they lack the vocal cords to produce the sounds necessary for speech. We also know that the digestive mechanisms of the fish would make it impossible for a man to actually live (let alone breathe) inside of a fish for three days. These stories, some of them with deep and purposeful meanings, cannot be understood, let alone correctly interpreted for beneficial use, when they are assumed to be truth, rather than for the allegories that they are.
The problem with this is that by insisting that (an obviously fabricated story) is absolute truth, the opportunity of arriving at the actual truth is greatly diminished. It creates a world where stories are placed above reality and reality is never within reach. It creates a mental mindset in people that is driven by misinformation and then passed on to future generations where misguided concepts are perpetuated.
It is no secret that Christians are more susceptible to believing outlandish conspiracy stories, precisely because they have been conditioned to believe in improbable things that are not supported by what a clear-thinking person would consider sufficient evidence. Seeing your religion’s miracles as being true while the miracles of other religions are false, without evidential support, is a fallacy of the first order and, once acknowledged, should cause a significant crisis of faith.
(2683) The evolution of Jesus’ birth
One of the ways we know that the Jesus of the gospels is a myth is by analyzing how his birth is treated within the chronological order of the gospel stories.
In Mark, Jesus first appears as a grown man, presenting himself for baptism. It is evident that the author of Mark considered that Jesus was born in the regular fashion, as a product of a man and woman having sex.
In both Matthew and Luke, Jesus is born in miraculous circumstances (though in contradiction to each other). He is birthed by a virgin and is greeted by nobility while the scene is accented with celestial wonders.
In John, our last gospel, Jesus is transformed into a being who existed before his earthy sojourn:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Once John put these word to parchment, he realized that he didn’t need a virgin birth (or even a birth at all)– Jesus was already exalted before he ever appeared on Earth. So he left that out and probably did so also out of a concern that virgin birth stories of luminaries were commonplace at that time. John likely envisioned his Jesus as appearing as a fully grown adult man who through some sort of subterfuge inserted himself into a family while fooling his parents into thinking he had been there all along. John could not have seen Jesus, the very god of the universe, as a helpless baby.
The evolution of Jesus’s birth from ‘normal’ to ‘miraculous’ to ‘unnecessary’ is a reminder that we are dealing with a maturing myth that probably throughout has nothing in common with factual history. This is plain to see for anyone who makes even a half-hearted effort to diagnose the truth.
(2686) John’s gospel was response to synagogue expulsion
The mystery of why the Gospel of John is so different from Mark, Matthew, and Luke has been solved. There was a group of Christians, the Johannian Community, that congregated from the late 1st Century to the early 2nd Century that wanted to continue their presence in the synagogue (remain their identity as Jews) but were expelled from the synagogue due to their unorthodox, mystical beliefs about Jesus. In response, they composed a new gospel as a form of protest, taking what had been written in the earlier gospels, but introducing and exhaustively emphasizing the idea that Jesus was divine, and even God himself. The following was taken from:
The identity of the recipients of the Fourth Gospel in the light of the purpose of the Gospel, Won-Ha Hwang & J G van der Watt 1 Department of New Testament Studies University of Pretoria
Martyn has made a major contribution with his History and theology in the Fourth Gospel, first published in 1968 (see Martyn 1971, 1977) by identifying a synagogue-church drama or conflict as the crucial factor of the Gospel. According to him, the history of the Johannine community’s conflict is reflected by Jesus’ conflict with the “Jews”.
In other words, the Gospel presents a double history or drama: the experiences of the community are read back into the life of Jesus (see Ferreira 1998:31). The Gospel of John is seen as a drama presented at two levels, one concerning Jesus, situated in the early decades of the first century CE, the other concerning the Johannine community near the end of that century (cf Reinhartz 1998:111). To put it differently, the text should be interpreted on two levels: first, it refers to “an einmalige event during Jesus’ earthly lifetime”, and secondly, it refers to “actual events experienced by the Johannine church” (see Ferreira 1998:31). This perspective implies that John’s Gospel is a Jewish-Christian composition shaped by the conflict with the synagogue.
Martyn’s thesis has been adopted and adapted by many scholars. In other words, since Martyn’s initial publication, the field of Johannine studies has increasingly espoused the theory “that the Johannine community suffered a traumatic expulsion from the synagogue and a prolonged and violent controversy with the Jews of that synagogue” (cf Reinhartz 1998:111; Hägerland 2003:309-322). Some years later, Culpepper addressed the social circumstances of this Johannine group in his doctoral dissertation, The Johannine School (1975).
After having examined the characteristics of schools in the Hellenistic world, Culpepper (1975:287-289) concluded that the Johannine group shares nine characteristics with ancient schools: (1) the Johannine community was a fellowship of disciples; (2) the community gathered around, and traced its origins to a founder – the Beloved Disciple; (3) the community valued the teachings of its founder and the traditions about him; (4) members of the community were disciples or students of the founder – the Beloved Disciple; (5) teaching, learning, studying and writing were common activities in the community; (6) the community observed a communal meal; (7) the community had rules or practices regulating admission and retention of membership; (8) the community maintained some distance from the rest of the society; and (9) the community developed organisational means of ensuring its perpetuity.
Culpepper’s thesis gained widespread acceptance (see Ferreira 1998:30). More recently, Brown (1979; cf 2003:74-75) presented his penetrating reconstruction of the history of the Johannine community. Brown traces four stages in the developmental history of the Johannine community: (1) Before the Gospel: At this stage, an outstanding historical personality, the Beloved Disciple and the “father” of the community, serves as link between the historical Jesus and the Johannine community. He is an ex-disciple of John the Baptist, and a follower of Jesus from the start of his ministry, but not one of the Twelve; (2) When the Gospel was written: By admitting Samaritans and other anti-Temple groups to the Johannine group, a conflict with “the Jews” ignited. The community increasingly oppose those they regard as nonbelievers; (3) When the letters were written: The community, having taken a closed stance against those outside their ranks, began to suffer from internal divisions; (4) After the letters were written: The final moment in the history of the community is its separation and dissolution.
The group behind the letters was absorbed in the second century either by the emerging great church or by groups associated with Docetism, Gnosticism, and Montanism. On the basis of previous studies, many modern scholars hypothetically synthesised the situation of the Johannine community as follows: part of the survival struggle of Judaism was to turn more orthodox. After the temple and sacrifices had assumed a measure of vagueness, greater authority had to be vested in the law to keep Judaism intact. The prayer in the synagogue (Birkatha-minim), which consisted of eighteen sections (approximately 85-90 CE) contained a curse on heretics in the twelfth section, the so-called prayer against heretics in the synagogues (Du Rand 1997:64; cf Painter 1980:28-29; Nissen 1999:206-207).
Therefore, the Jewish Christians, who confessed Jesus as Messiah, were cast out of the synagogues and were on occasion even killed. The Christians – and this included gentile Christians – felt like aliens in a hostile world. These events prompted the Johannine community to close ranks (De Smidt 1991:254; see Painter 1980:29; Kysar 1993:112; Nissen 1999:206-207). The expulsion from the synagogues took place before the Gospel was finally written down. This means that the author of John’s Gospel was living and working in a community that found themselves in a crucial dispute with their local synagogues. Even after their physical and theological separation from the synagogue, it seems as if they were still persecuted.
The Gospel of John was written within this context and the aim of the author was the well being of the community (Van Aarde 1985:59). This he did by consistently maintaining his basic theological perceptions and accents (De Smidt 1991:254). The author directed and shaped his message with this social reality of the recipients in mind (De Smidt 1989:248; Hägerland 2003:309-322).
The history makes sense. When you are kicked out of a club for something that doesn’t sit right with the club’s hierarchy, you tend to double down on what got you kicked out- and in this case the Johannians did just that by producing a book that over-emphasized the divine nature of Jesus. Also, because they were upset with the Jews who threw them out of the synagogue, they made the Gospel of John by far the most anti-Semitic of the four gospels- throughout this gospel there is much vitriol aimed at the Jews. Given this history and the motivations for its existence, the Gospel of John should be entirely dismissed as an accurate portrayal of Jesus.
(2687) Ancient historians made things up
Modern historians lament the fact that the gospels are, for a variety of reasons (such as citing sources and authorial concessions), less credible than other historical documents of the same time period. This limits their ability to reconstruct an accurate picture of Christianity’s origins. But even if the gospels met 1st Century standards of authenticity, they would still be somewhat in the dark, given that historical writings of that time were vastly inferior to those of modern times. The following was taken from:
Though ancient historians and historical biographers are far more prone to cite their sources, note contradictions between traditions, interject authorial judgements, and signpost speculation [compared to gospel authors], they may nevertheless take a great number of creative liberties in fashioning their narratives. The standards for what constituted historical writing in antiquity were very different from those used today in professional historiography. Ancient historians like Tacitus, for example, frequently imagined the speeches given at key sections of the narrative, and likewise characterized their historical subjects in ways that are highly dramatic and conjectural. In fact, Classicist Holly Haynes in the The History of Make-Believe: Tacitus on Imperial Rome has even described many of Tacitus’ literary techniques as “make-believe.” As Haynes explains:
The inescapable and regrettable fact about ancient historians, according to much of the scholarship, is that they made things up. By “making things up,” we commonly mean “falsifying” or even “lying,” both of which are antithetical to the scholar of ancient history and his or her project of arriving at the truest possible account of the past. Speaking generally, this view is prevalent throughout the scholarship of ancient history and historiography alike, as the latter does little to combat the dyarchic structure of words and deeds embedded in the discourse of the study of antiquity. Rather, the emerging discipline of historiography has emphasized the rhetorical richness of ancient history [and has] urged us to view the “make-believe” in its own right. (p. 28)
While this proviso can be made about historians like Tacitus, it should be noted that it applies to a far greater extent in the case of the Gospels. As previously noted, the authors of the Gospels do not even signpost speculation, nor do they cite or analyze their historical sources. Likewise, the Gospels include many more instances of direct speech and dramatic dialogues in their narratives, which their authors must have frequently imagined and invented. This is especially true in John, where Jesus engages in long discourses, distinct from the short, formulaic sayings in the Synoptic Gospels, which critical scholars have long recognized are probably not authentic words spoken by Jesus. As such, there is a far greater degree of authorial license in the Gospels, even if ancient historians and historical biographers engaged in creative liberties that would exceed the boundaries of modern historiographical techniques.
So biblical scholars are hamstrung by two problems- that historians of 2000 years ago were not particularly reliable, and that the gospel authors didn’t even meet those lower standards. Absent faith, it is impossible to state what happened, other than that Jesus was baptized and was crucified- that is, if he was a real person.
(2688) Jesus did not die
Christians adamantly preach that Jesus died for their sins, while at the same time claiming that Jesus was God, or at least one third of God. These two assertions are in conflict. Crediting the latter claim, Jesus was alive before he entered Mary’s uterus, that is, before he assumed a physical essence, so it’s only logical that once his physical body had died, Jesus was nevertheless still alive in his pre-physical, non-material state- no different than before he entered Mary’s womb.
So, to be exact, if we take Christian dogma at face value, it is more correct to say that only Jesus’ physical body died while Jesus himself remained alive. In other words, Jesus did not die. This theological mess was created when Christians invented the idea that Jesus was God. (Before that, it was OK to assume that Jesus, a mortal human prophet like Jacob, had actually died and remained dead for 36 hours before he was raised back to life). Therefore, since Jesus didn’t die, the mere death of his physical body did not represent a valid sacrifice in accordance with Jewish law.
This is an example of how contradictions inevitably occur when theology evolves over time. Future revisions invalidate past assumptions, similar to Jesus’ godhood exaltation eliminating his need to be baptized.
(2689) Principle of Commodity
Things that work and are available and easy to use tend to spread like wildfire. This principle is a good tool for assessing whether religious claims are authentic. The following was taken from:
The Principle of Commodity is a useful tool for evaluating common supernatural claims.
What is the Principle of Commodity?
“If this is so great, why isn’t it everywhere?”
The Principle of Commodity is the statement that “if a useful, reliable, and accessible phenomena is not commonplace, then it likely does not exist”. This follows from the observation that people tend to develop opportunities they discover to the point those opportunities become commonly available, they become commodities. The qualifiers of “useful, reliable, and accessible” are important so I elaborate on these below.
Useful, meaning humans see value in the phenomena.
Reliable, meaning the phenomena is said to occur more often than by chance.
Accessible, meaning the phenomena are cheap, plentiful, or easy to obtain.
How does this relate to supernatural claims?
Many commonly claimed supernatural phenomena fit within the boundaries of the Principle of Commodity. An example of a claimed phenomenon to which the Principle of Commodity applies would be miraculous healing water produced by blessing ordinary water. People find healing diseases to be very useful. For the healing water to be considered effective it must produce a recovery rate greater than would be expected without its application. Water and the blessing said over it are both cheap and easy to produce. So the question remains why we do not see miracle healing water in every pharmacy or hospital. The Principle of Commodity would have us say this miracle healing water most likely does not exist. Other types of claimed phenomena to which the Principle of Commodity could apply include the ability to prophesize the future, astral projection, prevent (or cause) natural disasters, reading people’s minds.
If someone says that there is a pastor in Bulgaria who heals amputated limbs through prayer, then I don’t immediately have the tools to falsify this claim. It could take me hours of research online to figure out who they are even referring to, and days and thousands of dollars in plane tickets and hotel fees to be able to have a chance to meet and evaluate this person. That is not practical. But I can questions why this person isn’t making the news outside of religious blogs and tabloids, and why they aren’t being thoroughly investigated by others who stand to profit greatly from turning this into a commercially viable process (or proving the truth of the existence of their deities).
An example of a phenomena claim where the Principle of Commodity would NOT apply would be the Catholic Miracle of the Sun. There is little direct value in what was claimed to be observed, so people have little interest in attempting to reproduce this effect. No one is claiming to be able to reliably produce this phenomena. And no one is saying it would be easy to do. While there may be other good reasons to reject this claim, the Principle of Commodity is not a tool that is applicable here.
What are the limitations of the Principle of Commodity?
The primary limitation is that the Principle of Commodity is NOT a proof. The lack of miracle healing water at every pharmacy and hospital I’ve visited does not prove there is no miracle healing water, but it does give reason to express strong skepticism towards any claims such a thing exists. The Principle of Commodity is a tool for directing our limited time and energy away from probably fruitless detailed investigations.
The Principal of Commodity can also be applied to the exercise of religious faith. If one religion happened to be the product of an actual god, it would be the only one that is effective in ameliorating peoples’ lives, and thus it would overtake the world very quickly. That we don’t see this means that most likely none of the religions currently practiced are aligned with any supernatural entities.
(2690) Peddling end times
One of the reasons to conjecture that Christianity is mythical is that it employed the common religious tactic of frightening people with a prediction of terrible end times, while at the same time offering a way to survive the mayhem. The following was taken from:
For thousands of years, religion has used the fear of “end times” to control the masses. What began as mythology that told gruesome stories of a horrific end to our world has evolved into periodic religious mania over an impending doom lurking above the future of humanity.
Fortunately, we have grown enough in our understanding to realize that prophesies of war, famine, atmospheric disruptions, pandemics and expulsion of redundant belief structures are effortless formulations when one comprehends that these occurrences have been and will remain a repetitive element of the human experience. In other words – it is not difficult to predict the future when you understand how human beings think and how nature functions. Anyone who understands the natural world and the mind of human beings can make a fairly accurate prediction of what will occur 10, 20, 100 or even 5,000 years from now. History does repeat itself. Nature repeats itself. This is the cyclical part of life – when you understand the cycle, you are never shocked by the result.
The problem is, we are still living amongst an assortment of end times theories and religious fables that insist we are living in that time. Strangely, every generation since the stories were created lives in that time. Even more menacing is how an entire community of believers can completely ignore the time frame in which their own text plainly states that the horrid event will occur, and then apply the same story to every future generation. Why? Because the story always perpetuates itself – it must perpetuate itself in order to survive. If the story is fulfilled, the story ends and we all move on. It must continue generation after generation in order to live on in the minds of human beings. This is how religion works.
Here’s the painful truth. When you have a story that billions of people believe, there will inevitably be some people who have the power and the invested interest in making that story appear as fact. This doesn’t make the prediction true – it makes it a purposeful effort. It is a problematic illusion where those who want it to be true work to make it true; and those who are unaware of the work others have done to make the illusion appear real – believe it is real.
If our world is truly going to explode in a fiery furnace of wrath and agony – it will be by our own hands when we destroy one another by our human hatred. Or, it will be by the mechanisms of our universe; a common way planets and stars actually do experience their “end times.”
This bait and switch scam is not what would be expected of an actual divine authority, but it displays all the earmarks of a human-generated scheme to scare and control people. The continuing failure for the end times to happen is a dead give-away that no god was involved in making these predictions.
(2691) Religion became necessary with population growth
There is a theory that one of the reasons why religions came into existence virtually everywhere in the world was that, as populations grew and big cities appeared, it became necessary to form a cultural meme so that people could trust people that they didn’t know. Even if you didn’t know the person, if they belonged to your faith you could trust them and do business with them. Without such a unifying principle, commerce would suffer in a vacuum of trust. The following was taken from:
I’ve read that many think the main reason organized religion became prevalent was because of population growth. Humans in general can only truly get to know and trust about 150 people. Which is about the size of a small village. In order for these communities to work, everyone needed to be trusted and the ones who weren’t were cast away. As populations grew, eventually becoming countries, regions and global societies, it was impossible to trust everyone. One way that this was naturally solved was for larger groups of people to have similar identities. If a stranger held the same religious beliefs, they can be more easily trusted. This has expanded over the years and essentially, in my opinion causes most of the world’s problems. Wars, racism, nationalism, is all a byproduct of not trusting those who are not like you. In modern times, even seemingly inconsequential things like sports teams or musical taste can become a person’s identity. It is also exactly what we are seeing in American Politics. You identify with a party or side of the political spectrum and anyone who is on the other side is evil, the enemy and can’t be trusted. Basically, we have grown too large as a population for many of our brains to handle.
Even today we see evidence of how religion is used to gain trust as many businesses will say, for example, that they are owned by Christians. This provides Christian customers a measure of assurance that they will be treated fairly. The fact that religions provide a useful stabilizing effect irrespective of their truth reduces the probability that they are, in fact, true. That is, it reduces the evidential value of their existence.
(2692) Christianity’s war on science
Christianity has had a tumultuous relationship with science throughout its 2000-year existence. Time and time again it has had to retreat from previous firmly held positions in the wake of science’s inexorable progress. The following was taken from:
Christianity has always made an enemy of science, although science has only ever made an enemy of ignorance. The Church declared war on science, and used every weapon it had: coercion, censorship, suppression, persecution, torture, imprisonment and the stake. The Church had God on its side in every battle, yet it lost every one, generally to a handful of independent and often self-financing freethinking eccentrics — always after a prolonged struggle. Christianity’s book of all world knowledge, the Bible, was shown to be badly flawed in many ways. The Christian Churches, depending upon it, were consistently wrong. They were wrong about the age of the cosmos and of Earth. They were wrong about the length of time mankind had existed. They were wrong about geographic and climatic stability. They were wrong about the immutability of species and the occurrence of mass extinctions. Christians thought that they were right beyond all doubt and asserted that they were voicing God’s eternal truths, as God himself confirmed to them from time to time, yet they were consistently and comprehensively wrong.
As they retreated the Church fought rearguard actions. As it withdrew it was left with ever-smaller patches of territory. The God who once ruled everywhere became the God of the Gaps, as Einstein called him. Christianity now occupied gaps in scientific knowledge where science had not yet advanced. The God of the Gaps became ever less credible as the gaps became smaller and fewer. Protestants have learned to retreat ever more gracefully, and now rarely pick new fights. Roman Catholics generally hold out until faced with mass desertions by the faithful, then abandon territory as quietly as possible, and then claim that they never held that particular territory anyway. Fundamentalists imagine that they still hold territory that everyone else agrees was lost many years ago. At the other extreme liberal theologians are careful not to claim any territory at all that they might conceivably have to relinquish at any stage in the future and, to make doubly sure, have developed their own language comprehensible only to themselves and impenetrable to everyone else.
Now the areas of conflict arise for different reasons, for example because academic disciplines have taken an interest in Christianity and its belief system. Archaeologists have uncovered acts of vandalism; chemists have revealed the frequency with which documents were forged; biologists and physicists have exposed miracle-working relics as frauds; historians have shown where and when doctrines originated; psychologists have identified factors that predispose people to religious belief; psychiatrists have revealed the nature of sadomasochistic and other sexual fantasies so popular in traditional Christianity; anthropologists have shown Christianity to be much the same as other religions in function and development; philosophers have discredited Christianity’s “proofs” of God’s existence, and indeed the whole of scholastic philosophy, just as astronomers comprehensively discredited the Church’s cosmology. Scientific revelations are sometimes seen by the devout as unfair, and sometimes even as fabrications — as though scientists were attacking Christian belief, rather than exposing the truth.
Christians are still generally antipathetic to scientific endeavor. Studies during the twentieth century revealed for example that Christians are vastly under-represented among American scientists. In one study Roman Catholics accounted for less than 1 per cent of the scientists surveyed, although they accounted for over 26 per cent of the population at large. Non-Christians on the other hand were vastly over-represented. Some 77 per cent of scientists were neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic, yet only 7 per cent of the population fell into this category. Christian graduates saw a serious conflict between science and Church teachings. A study concentrating on differences between academic disciplines revealed that fewer than 14 per cent of distinguished psychologists believed in God. No figures were available for philosophers, apparently because they found the concept meaningless, or at least inadequately defined. Other studies revealed that the more eminent scientists were, the less likely they were to believe in God, and another that the strength of religious belief is inversely related to scientific productivity. Another study showed that the strength of religious belief is related to authoritarianism and inversely related to creativity.
What should be obvious is this– if you have to fight science to defend your faith, it’s a good clue that there is something seriously wrong with your faith. A true religion created by a real god would embrace science to the maximum because, in that situation, the more that science progressed, the more that religion would be confirmed.
(2693) Serpent sending
Jesus defined an attribute of a good father in a way that excluded his own father. Consider the following scriptures:
Jesus says in Matthew 7:9-11:
Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died
The author of Matthew (and later Luke) probably was not aware of the Numbers scripture and therefore made up a verse that caused an embarrassing conflict. Otherwise we would have to conclude that Jesus is a better person than his father.
(2694) Paul’s only source was the Bible
Although Paul claimed that he learned the substance of what he preached through direct revelation from Jesus, it is obvious, based on his letters, that virtually all of his inspiration came through his reading of the Old Testament.
In the following examples, Paul says that what he preaches is based off of scripture:
Romans 16:25-26 (NASB)
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NASB)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
Romans 1:1-3 (NASB)
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,
Paul says “As it is written” (which means getting what he says from scriptures):
Romans 9:13 (NASB)
Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 15:3 (NASB)
For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
2 Corinthians 8:15 (NASB)
as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
2 Corinthians 9:9 (NASB)
as it is written,“He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.”
1 Corinthians 11:23 (NASB)
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
Paul says he never got his messages from people, just Jesus himself, through “revelations” (which we know were visions, dreams, or messages from scripture):
Galatians 1:11-12 (NASB)
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Though Hebrews 11:7 was not written by Paul, it is claimed to be him by many Christians and many scholars believe was written by people who did know Paul.
“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
Noah was not a historical person.
The book of Acts is thought to just be historical fiction, written to just give a backstory to the church which sounded good. Similar to the birth stories and backstory for the leaders of North Korea were written to sound good.
There were however multiple references to Moses in Paul’s letters and other books in the New Testament, such as the book of Acts.
And Paul believed Satan was historical also.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11
“in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
Satan (in 2 Corinthians) – Anabaptistwiki” target=”_blank”>https://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Satan_(in_2_Corinthians)”>Satan (in 2 Corinthians) – Anabaptistwiki
And multiple more references from Paul about Satan, which Paul got of course from the book of Job (who he also thought was historical). Then interpreted that as being the character that the book of Daniel talks about.
Paul never mentions Job, but since that is the only place in the OT that Satan is mentioned then he must have believed in Job too.
So if Paul is only implying all these characters are historical because he thought that the scriptures were historical, then it shows us that that is where Paul got all his info about Jesus from. Not reliable historical sources. What this tells us is that Paul does not represent an independent source of revelation for the Christian faith, but just a person who regurgitated his own interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures. Because of this, Paul’s letters do not belong in the Bible any more than any contemporary person’s commentaries on the Old Testament.
(2695) Sergey Torop
A recently-arrested guru from Russia who claimed to be the reincarnated Jesus Christ was able to assemble a following of 10,000 dedicated disciples, despite the fact that he is, as all Christians will agree, a regular human with no supernatural powers. That people can be fooled to this extent today, imagine how much easier it would have been for Jesus to do so 2000 years ago. The following was taken from:
Although some 4,000 diehard believers live at this site, the dozens of Russian security forces are focused on arresting just one man in particular: Jesus.
Or, at least, a man who claims he’s the reincarnation of Jesus – Sergey Torop, an ex-traffic cop who founded the controversial Church of the Last Testament in Siberia in the 1990s and who was arrested this week.
The 59-year-old, who calls himself Vissarion, filled an ideological vacuum in the lives of his thousands of cult followers when the Soviet Union collapsed thirty years ago.
His messianic teachings order his fans, known as Vissarionites, to follow strict rules of no meat-eating, no smoking, no drinking, and no money exchange.
They’ve lived this way since establishing his first settlement in Tiberkul in 1994 – but Russian authorities say Torop and his inner sanctum have been using “psychological violence” to extort money from his followers.
Torop was a 29-year-old police officer in the small town of Minusinsk when, in 1989, he had a revelation that he was the son of God.
His holy awakening came just after job cuts made him redundant and the USSR was spiraling in terminal decline.
“It’s all very complicated,” Torop told The Guardian in 2002. “But to keep things simple, yes, I am Jesus Christ.”
“I am not God,” he added. “And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God. But I am the living word of God the Father.
“Everything that God wants to say, he says through me.”
He set up his ministry, the Church of the Last Testament, in 1991.
And four years later he and his followers moved deep into the Siberian wilderness to the Kuraginsky district to establish their town, Sun City.
The church has now expanded into some 40 settlements around the hamlets of Kuragino, Imisskoye, Petropavlovka and Cheremshanka.
Some 4,000 people from all over the world wear white robes and live in simple wooden huts in the remote settlements which are connected by dirt roads.
And his followers – estimated to stretch to 10,000 globally – are absolutely dedicated to him.
So much so that their calendar only dates from 1961, the year Torop was born, and they have a feast day on his birthday, January 14, instead of celebrating Christmas.
A large bell tolls from a mountain above the valley where they live three times a day, at which point followers must drop to their knees and pray.
It’s difficult to understand why so many people from all over the world would choose to give up their comfortable lives to follow Torop in the harsh Siberian taiga – especially given his wacky beliefs.
Some people were drawn to Torop’s vision when communism fell, attracted to its deep sense of community as Soviet society unraveled.
Others appear to have joined the church because they wanted to drop out society and live a simpler life in the mountains, with Torop’s strange teachings a secondary consideration.
It’s said he originally claimed that Jesus was in low Earth orbit and that the Virgin Mary was “running Russia”, only later deciding that he was Jesus.
He’s reportedly also claimed to be able to cure Aids and cancer with his healing touch.
The cult has even been accused of believing in aliens in the form of something called the “outer-space minds”, with some members reportedly insisting they have encountered UFOs.
And while some of Torop’s teachings are similar to those of the Russian Orthodox church, its stringent bans on most modern technology, alcohol, and even swearing have led some critics to see the cult as extreme.
Environmentalism is also central to the church’s practices and they predict some kind of apocalyptic event in the near future, although it’s not exactly clear when it will happen.
“It’s hard to measure the time,” Torop told Vice in 2012.
“It’s preferable that the chaos vigorously demonstrated by human civilization will end soon.”
All of Torop’s beliefs are recorded in a multi-volume work called The Last Testament, which is treated as a kind of sequel to the New Testament.
The bizarre scripture is taught in the communes’ schools, where little boys and girls are educated separately and gender roles are strongly enforced – males are masters while females are obedient followers.
Torop’s most dedicated 300 followers live on top of a remote hill call the Abode of Dawn – but his image hangs on the wall in all Vissarionite homes.
Despite living modestly, Torop’s expensive international trips to preach around the world have raised eyebrows from some who questioned if he was living off his follower’s cash.
“He’s the only person I know who lives what he preaches,” says Vadim Redkin, a former rock drummer who became Torop’s right-hand man.
“They say he’s a liar and a cheat, taking the money.
“They’re only describing the way they behave themselves.”
If Torop had lived in the First Century and with a quirk of fate, the predominant religion today could be Toropism, with gospels gushing about how he performed miraculous healings, was condemned improperly, suffered and died for us in prison, and then rose to the heavens from his prison cell. All of this is a warning to those who are throwing their lives away following another Torop from an earlier time.
(2696) Questioning Jesus’ mental health
There is a growing body of mental health practitioners who conjecture that Jesus, assuming he was real and accurately described in the gospels, was insane in the same manner as gurus, end-of-world alarmists, and self-claimed messiahs are in today’s world. The following was taken from:
The topic of the assessment of the psyche of Jesus first occurs in the gospels. The Gospel of Mark reports the opinion of members of Jesus’ family who believe that Jesus “is beside himself”. Some psychiatrists, religious scholars and writers explain that Jesus’ family, followers (John 7:20) and contemporaries seriously regarded him as delusional, possessed by demons, or insane.
And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself”. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el′zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons”.
— Mark 3:21–22 (RSV)
The accusation contained in the Gospel of John is more literal.
There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?”
— John 10:19–20 (RSV)
Justin Meggitt, lecturer at the University of Cambridge, suggests in his article ″The Madness of King Jesus: Why was Jesus Put to Death, but his Followers were not?″ (2007) and in his book The Madness of King Jesus: The Real Reasons for His Execution (2010) that Pilate and the other Roman people regarded Jesus as an insane, deceived lunatic. Therefore, only Jesus was sentenced to death, while his disciples were not. Jesus was to be presented to Pilate and sentenced to death as a royal pretender, while the standard Roman procedure was the prosecution and execution of would-be insurgents with their leaders. Jesus’ disciples not only did not meet such a fate, but even later they did not experience any harassment from the Roman authorities while preaching about Jesus.
Jean Meslier (1664–1729) thought similarly. In his Testament he undertook to prove that Jesus ″was really a madman, a fanatic″ (étoit véritablement un fou, un insensé, un fanatique). He then did so in chapters XXXIII and XXXIV.
Challenging the sanity of Jesus continued in the nineteenth century with the first quest for the historical Jesus. David Friedrich Strauss (Das Leben Jesu, second edition, 1864) claimed that Jesus was a fanatic. Lemuel K. Washburn (Was Jesus insane?) concluded that “Jesus was not divine, but insane”. Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Antichrist) suggested his mental immaturity. Oskar Panizza introduced Jesus as a psychopathological and paranoid case. Georg Lomer (as George de Loosten, Jesus Christus vom Standtpunkte des Psychiaters, 1905) described Jesus as a man with a “fixed delusional system”. However, it was not until Charles Binet-Sanglé, in his four-volume work La folie de Jésus, discussed the topic extensively and visibly.
Binet-Sanglé diagnosed Jesus as suffering from religious paranoia:
In short, the nature of the hallucinations of Jesus, as they are described in the orthodox Gospels, permits us to conclude that the founder of Christian religion was afflicted with religious paranoia. (vol. 2, p. 393)
His view was shared by the New York psychiatrist William Hirsch who, in 1912, published his study Religion and Civilization: The Conclusions of a Psychiatrist, enumerating a number of Jesus’ mentally aberrant behaviours. Hirsch agreed with Binet-Sanglé in that Jesus had been afflicted with hallucinations, and pointed to his “megalomania, which mounted ceaselessly and immeasurably”. Hirsch concluded that Jesus was “paranoid” – pure and simple, adding that:
But Christ offers in every respect an absolutely typical picture of a well-known mental disease. All that we know of him corresponds so exactly to the clinical aspect of paranoia, that it is hardly conceivable how anybody at all acquainted with mental disorders, can entertain the slightest doubt as to the correctness of the diagnosis. (p. 103)
Soviet psychiatrist Y. V. Mints (1927) also diagnosed Jesus as suffering from paranoia. The literature of the USSR in the 1920s, following the tradition of the demythologization of Jesus, created in the works Strauss, Renan, Nietzsche and Binet-Sanglé, put forward two main themes – mental illness and deception. This was reflected in the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, in which Jesus is depicted (articulated by Pilate) as a harmless madman. It was only at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s that in the Soviet Union’s propaganda won the mythological option, namely the denial of the existence of Jesus.
Jesus’ mental health was also questioned by the British psychiatrists William Sargant and Raj Persaud, a number of psychologists of the psychoanalytic orientation, e.g., Georges Berguer [de] in his study “Quelques traits de la vie de Jésus au point de vue psychologique et psychanalytique”.
Władysław Witwicki, a rationalist philosopher and psychologist, in the comments to his own translation of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark – Dobra Nowina według Mateusza i Marka (The Good News according to Matthew and Mark [pl]) – attributed to Jesus subjectivism, increased sense of his own power and superiority over others, egocentrism and the tendency to subjugate other people, as well as difficulties communicating with the outside world and multiple personality disorder, which made him a schizothymic or even schizophrenic type (according to the Ernst Kretschmer‘s typology).
English psychiatrist Anthony Storr in his final book Feet of Clay; Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus (1996) suggests that there are psychological similarities between crazy “messiahs” such as Jim Jones, David Koresh, and respected religious leaders, including Jesus. Storr tracks typical patterns, often involving psychotic disorders that shape the development of the guru. His study is an attempt to look at Jesus as one of many gurus. Storr agrees with most scholars of historical Jesus who are inclined to the hypothesis of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet.
It seems inescapable that Jesus did share the apocalyptic view that God’s final conquest of evil was at hand and that God’s kingdom would be established upon earth in the near future.
Storr recognizes Jesus’ many similarities to other gurus. It is, for example, going through a period of internal conflict during his fasting in the desert. According to him, if Jesus really considered himself a deputy for God and believed that one day he would come down from heaven to rule, he was very similar to the gurus whom he had previously described as preachers of delusions possessed by mania of greatness. He notes that Jesus was not ideal in family life (Mark 3:31–35, Mark 13:12–13). Gurus often remain indifferent to family ties. Other similarities, according to Storr, include Jesus’ faith in receiving a special revelation from God and a tendency to elitism, in the sense that Jesus believed that he had been specially marked by God.
In 1998–2000 Pole Leszek Nowak (born 1962) from Poznań authored a study in which, based on his own history of religious delusion of mission and overvalued ideas, and information communicated in the Gospels, made an attempt at reconstructing Jesus’ psyche, with the view of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet, taking into account the hypothesis of “suicide by proxy“. He does so in chapters containing, in sequence, an analysis of character traits of the “savior of mankind”, a description of the possible course of events from the period of Jesus’ public activity, and a naturalistic explanation of his miracles.
In 2012 a team of psychiatrists, behavioral psychologists, neurologists, and neuropsychiatrists from the Harvard Medical School published a research which suggested the development of a new diagnostic category of psychiatric disorders related to religious delusion and hyperreligiosity. They compared the thoughts and behaviors of the most important figures in the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Paul) with patients affected by mental disorders related to the psychotic spectrum using different clusters of disorders and diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR), and concluded that these Biblical figures “may have had psychotic symptoms that contributed inspiration for their revelations”, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, manic depression, delusional disorder, delusions of grandeur, auditory–visual hallucinations, paranoia, Geschwind syndrome (Paul especially), and abnormal experiences associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). The authors hypothesize that Jesus may have sought death through “suicide by proxy”.
It’s impossible to assess the sanity of a person not present for examination, but because the gospels portray a Jesus who shows signs of insanity and because Christians assert that the gospels are accurate history, this subject becomes salient in any discussion of the truth of Christianity. It’s really a choice between 1) Jesus was sane and the gospels are inaccurate, or 2) Jesus was insane and the gospels are accurate. Neither option is comfortable for Christians.
(2697) The flaw of original sin
Christianity’s great caper was to take behaviors that are instinctual to humans and categorize them as ‘sin.’ This caused everyone to feel as if they were sinful. Then, the church offered the only salve for redemption, and the scam was complete. The following discusses why original sin is a flawed concept.
Here we get to the root of many of Christianity’s problems. As someone who trusts science I think the concept of original sin is flawed and does not conform to the facts. We are evolved from great apes and are part of the animal kingdom. For millions of years we and our fellow primates have done things by instinct that Christians would consider sinful – withholding resources from others to save ourselves, fighting and/or killing to acquire resources, eating too much in advance of hard times, having sex with as many partners as possible to propagate the species, etc. There was never a magic moment in time when early humans were not doing these things. There will never be a point at which we stop doing these things. There was no “Fall of Man” event because there were no conditions under which a fall would have even been possible.
Given that this is part of the human condition and is inescapable it raises the question: “Is it just for a god to damn his creation for performing acts that are innate to their nature?” I would argue that only an evil and capricious god would do that to their followers. If I make an object and it is flawed it is not the object’s fault that it is flawed. It is my fault as the creator. A good and reasonable god would not project their own failures onto their creations. They certainly would not demand torture and blood sacrifice of a human being as the only possible expiation. Suffering often is random and indiscriminately cruel in its application. There is nothing redemptive about the suffering of someone else. To accept it as salvific for ourselves is to transfer our own moral responsibility to other people. There are variants of belief as to whether this salvation is permanent or not based on one’s actions but there is no getting around the scapegoating that is at work here. On this issue I cannot decide which is worse: the terror of potentially losing one’s salvation through moral failure or the complete abandonment of one’s responsibility via permanent salvation. Either alternative seems ruinous. The first is the route of the Catholic and the Orthodox – to abase yourself continuously while observing the rituals and forms with the proper obeisance while doubting its efficacy the entire time. This creates a morass of self-hatred and unworthiness that you cannot escape. The second is to follow the guidance of Martin Luther and his descendants and ‘sin boldly’. Under this mode of operation you can treat people like garbage because you have invoked the magic words that cover a multitude of sins with the blood of Jesus.
If we applied the concept of original sin to other animals, we could say that tigers are sinful for killing wart hogs, even though it is an instinctual behavior and one that ameliorates their survival. But then we could say, ‘Look, we know you need to do this for your survival, but it is still a sin, though if you accept the sacrifice of another tiger that we will kill, your sin will be expunged.’ This sets a trap for tigers to be shoehorned into a religious faith for which they have no easy exit. This is exactly what Christianity did to corral people into their cult.
(2698) Regulating sex in marriage
It is well established that Christianity has always forbid sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage, but it’s not as well known that it also enforced rules for how sex should be conducted between husbands and wives. This imposition of control over the basic biological structure of human behavior indicates that it was operating outside the bounds of an infinite celestial deity, but inside the bounds of a human attempt to regulate sex for purposes of obtaining power and wealth. The following was taken from:
|Christianity is unique in having hated and outlawed sex and in making people feel guilty because they are sexual beings.|
|Karen Armstrong, The Gospel According to Women|
Despite the Church’s revulsion at all matters sexual, or perhaps because of it, churchmen have throughout the centuries felt obliged to impose their views on others. Sex was held to be disgusting enough even when it was carried out in the most conventional way. It was acceptable only between a man and (one) wife, only for the purpose of conception, only on approved days, only at night, only in bed, only in moderation, and only in the permitted manner. Priests encouraged couples to remain partially clothed. Only one copulatory position was allowed. Others were regarded as debauched or bestial. The story grew up that the Devil mated women from the rear, so this method was regarded with particular horror. To this day missionaries try to stop converts from practising it, and encourage the adoption of the one acceptable position — which is thus known as the missionary position. Theologians once held that a wife’s acquiescence in any deviation from their approved position was as grave a sin as murder. The whole area was set about with danger. At one time sexual intercourse of any sort was discouraged for much of the year. As one commentator has observed:
Some rigid theologians recommended abstention on Thursdays, in memory of Christ’s arrest; Fridays, in memory of his death; Saturdays, in honour of the Virgin Mary; Sundays in honour of the Resurrection; and Mondays, in commemoration of the departed. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were largely accounted for by a ban on intercourse during fasts and festivals — the forty days before Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas; the seven, five, or three days before Communion; and so on.
At one time there had been 273 fast days and feast days, but the number was down to 140 by the sixteenth century. Copulating at prohibited times could have terrible consequences. Churchmen assured their flocks that it could lead to leprous, epileptic, possessed or deformed children. Copulation was also prohibited while the wife was menstruating, in accordance with the requirement of Leviticus 18:19. Pope Gregory I warned that “the law of God punishes a man with death if he has intercourse with a woman during menstruation”. Intercourse was also prohibited while the wife was pregnant, since the object could not be procreation.
Even when intercourse was permitted, the Church considered it sinful to enjoy it too much. If you enjoyed it as much as you would enjoy adulterous sex, then it was adulterous sex even if it was with your spouse:
Nothing is more sordid than to make love to your wife as you would to an adulteress. The origins of love are respectable, but its perversion is an enormity.
§1. It gives no respectable motive for losing one’s self control. Hence, the Sentences of Sixtus says, “He is an adulterer who is too passionate a lover of his wife.”
(Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q IV, C5)
Sex even within marriage was considered somehow dirty, and called for cleansing before doing something as important as entering a church:
After sleeping with his wife, a man should not enter a church, unless he is washed with water.
(Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q IV, C5)
Marriage was tolerated as the best that ordinary people could manage. According to St Jerome there was as much difference between wedlock and virginity as there is between managing not to sin and being a saint. Marriage was an unfortunate but practical remedy against sin. Virginity was much more, a true holy state. Childbirth was a particularly sinful activity and required reconciliation with the Church. (This reconciliation was originally a ritual purification after the birth, later to become the Churching of Women.) Now the sin of bearing a child is rather underplayed, but in the past a mother who died in childbirth might be refused a Christian burial because of her sin. This did not happen everywhere. In some places she was permitted a Christian burial, but her child, dead inside her, was not. Not having had the chance of baptism, the child was infected by Original Sin, and thus ineligible for a Christian burial. The child had to be buried in unconsecrated ground. As one fifteenth century priest, John Mirke, put it:
A woman that [has] died in childing shall not be buried in church, but in churchyard, so that the child first be taken out of her and buried outwith churchyard.
In other words the dead baby had to be cut from its mother’s womb so that it could be buried separately, on its own, in unhallowed ground.
The whole area of sex is set about with possibilities to sin. Demanding sex from a spouse without intending to procreate was venial sin. Lustfully exciting a spouse was a mortal sin. Masturbation and coitus interruptus were grave sins. The Christian obsession with limiting sexual activity has led to some laws that now seem anachronistic. For example, it is still an offence in England for a man to have anal sex with his wife, although it is no longer an offence for him to have anal intercourse with a man. Masturbation was still illegal in at least one US state into the 1960s. So were other sexual activities. In 1988 a certain Jim Mosely was shocked to find himself sentenced to five years in gaol in Georgia, in the USA. His crime, unwittingly revealed in a divorce hearing, was having had oral sex with his wife. Around 1,000 years earlier, in Europe, he could have expected seven to 15 years penance — roughly the same as for anal intercourse, and twice that for murder.
The longstanding attitude of Christianity toward sex within conventional marriages, some of which remains in place today in certain sects, indicates the faith lacks the sublimity that we would expect of an infinitely divine being. On the other hand, it looks very much like a hierarchically-generated method to control the masses.
(2699) Markers of superstition
In Acts, Chapter 15, Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and others for a counsel to iron out differences between various groups, especially concerning circumcision. In the speeches that follow, we observe tell-tale indications that Christianity is quickly becoming a superstitious cult. The following was taken from:
Properly curious readers can detect the markers of superstition in Acts 15. Here are ten of them; not once does Luke depart from his agenda, i.e. promotion of Jesus cult beliefs.
- Verse 7: “…in the early days God made a choice among you…” This tiny group was confident it was being micromanaged by its god.
- Verse 8: “And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit…” This deity reads minds and directs beings in the spirit realm. Those who specialize in the occult talk like this.
- Verse 9: “…cleansing their hearts by faith…” Faith, not the request for evidence, in the primary virtue.
- Verse 11: “we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus…” Salvation—winning eternal life—is the cult’s product, and happens through magical grace provided by the deity.
- Verse 12: “The whole assembly…listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them…” Cults leaders before and after—up to and including televangelists—have made the same claims about God’s wonders.
- Verse 14: “…God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name…” Names of gods commonly had magical power, and the gods had favored people.
- Verses 16-18: an allusion to Amos 9:11-12, which Luke feels is applicable to Gentiles being welcomed as converts, i.e., “God had us in mind hundreds of years ago.” This text includes the words, “…all the nations who are called by my name, says the Lord.” Amos wasn’t celebrating ecumenism in that long-gone era; as did many of the prophets, he envisioned a time in which all nations would bow down to Yahweh.
- Verse 20: “…abstain only from things polluted by idols…” More magical thinking: as if meats sacrificed to “other gods” could be hazardous to your health.
- Verse 26: “…our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The ideal heroes risk their lives for the cult.
- Verse 28: “…it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit…” The religious elites claim knowledge of the preferences of spirits.
These markers of superstition commonly raise no suspicions among the faithful, because, of course, they’ve heard them from the pulpit all their lives. This kind of repetition works, deflecting attention from how the real world works, as Rick Snedeker has warned:
“All religious imaginings sown in vulnerable children’s minds are entirely based on beings and realms that, as far as anyone can credibly determine, simply do not exist.”
We can however, give credit where credit is due, in evaluating the impact of this chapter. The early Christian church gave up on circumcision; it was abandoned as part of the New Covenant with God. The new theologians ran with Paul’s alternate magical thinking instead, i.e., that believing in a resurrected man was the key to eternal life. The author of John’s gospel added grotesque details about eating the victim’s flesh and drinking its blood.
This chapter cemented Christianity as a cult expressing superstitious, occult-like beliefs that might have been popular in its day, but which have not weathered well in our modern, post-scientific era. The idea that we have knowledge of the actions and preferences of non-material beings is a bit too far-fetched for all but the most indoctrinated.
(2700) The pious fraud of Peter’s tomb
The Christian faith is replete with fraudulent claims engineered by faithful believers in an attempt to convince others (and perhaps themselves) that what they believe is grounded in factual truth. One of the best examples of this deliberate subterfuge was the anti-scientific excavation under St. Peters’ Basilica in Rome that allegedly uncovered the tomb of Peter. The following was taken from:
There are other candidates for the title “the academic scandal par excellence of the twentieth century”, including archaeological abuses. An example is the archaeology carried out at St. Peter’s Basilica, the church of the Vatican. According to a late tradition Saint Peter was buried here. In 1939 an archaeological excavation in the grottoes below the current Basilica uncovered Roman mausoleums from the necropolis. In the area under the high altar, the excavators found a structure resembling a temple that they named the aedicula (meaning little temple). There, they allegedly found the tomb of St Peter. This discovery lacks scientific credibility and a number of scholars consider the findings fraudulent. Here are a few of the relevant factors:
- The excavators were Jesuits
- Although it was already known that the basilica was built on top of a large pagan necropolis on the Vatican Hill, but no relevant independent experts with this specialism were involved.
- the entire excavation was kept secret for 10 years.
- The excavation destroyed the aedicula floor. Inadequate records were kept, so that it is impossible for independent archaeologists to assess whether the findings are genuine
- the bones were found when the pope himself visited the excavation
- An independent scholar allowed to examine the bones was only allowed to do so on condition that he did not publish the results.
- The bones cannot all be Peter’s, there are leg bones from at least 5 separate legs. The bones also includes the remains of farm animals.
- The arrangement of bones sounds distinctly unlikely for the burial of an important Christian. The various bones, including chicken bones, had been heaped together and piled under a wall in an otherwise empty grave.
- Soil attached to the bones does not appear to match soil in the grave.
- In 1942, the Administrator of St. Peter’s, Monsignor Ludwig Kaas,who oversaw the dig, but had no knowledge of archaeological practice, secretly ordered some of the bones to be stored elsewhere for safe-keeping.
- After Kaas’s death, tests revealed that the remains belonged to a man in his sixties. On the basis of this, Pope Paul VI announced on June 26, 1968 ,that the relics of St. Peter had been discovered. Antonio Ferrua, the leading archaeologist at the excavation said that he was not convinced that the bones that were found were those of St. Peter
- There is no evidence that the grave was that of Saint Peter. The identification is based on an incomplete graffito, one possible meaning of which is “Peter is here”. This graffito is itself suspect, but even if it were genuine and even if the incomplete text “…pet… en…” had been correctly interpreted as, it could mean “Peter [the graffiti artist] was here”.
- The graffito was found after the bones, when Catholics were looking for a connection to Peter.
The graffito was found on a piece of plaster. There is no photograph or other record of the location of the original plaster. The plaster is a fragment which had allegedly broken from a nearby wall. It is no longer possible to determine where it came from.
The Church still advertises the site as the tomb of Saint Peter. Skeptical scholars suspect deliberate manipulation by someone who did not think through the implications of their fraud. Sceptics suggest that bones had been collected by the excavators from around the necropolis, and grouped together by Jesuits or Vatican officials, the graffito having also been found elsewhere, and possibly chipped to leave a few words that can be interpreted as meaning that Peter was nearby. By doing this, the Jesuits would be relieved of the embarrassment of a Pagan temple directly under the high alter of Saint Peter’s Basilica, and furnished with evidence of the existence of the man they regard as the first pope. The sceptics’ case is bolstered by the fact that the Vatican has still not permitted a proper independent scientific investigation of the evidence.
A great deal of intellectual dishonesty is evidenced in the history of Christianity. This dishonesty seems to have continued from the earliest times to the present day. Why should any organization have engaged in such extensive forgery, destruction and manipulation? Why have honest scholars been persecuted for 2,000 years whenever they have pointed out a problem?
Unlike fantasy, truth does not require sinister tactics to be convincing. Rather it thrives in the open air exercise of observation and investigation by all comers. Christianity has consistently dodged the light of unfiltered examination. The ‘discovery’ of Peter’s tomb is a testament to that indictment.
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