(2951) Parent-child analogy
There is a strong argument to be made that God’s love and hell cannot co-exist, as can be exposed by considering a typical parent-child relationship. The following was taken from:
I just wanted to post this for any recent ex-Christians, or those on the verge of reconverting who can’t shake their fear of hell.
I got rid of the concept of hell before I got rid of religion altogether because I thought about it logically.
If I had a child, and that child didn’t love me back, and did everything they could to make me disappointed, a punishment as heinous as hell would still never cross my mind. It would hurt that they didn’t love me, yes, but the thought of burning my very own child forever because of their hatred for me, would be psychotic. I couldn’t imagine even physically hurting them, nonetheless putting them through an eternal torment so evil.
Now think about how god’s supposed to be considered our “loving paternal father.” A true loving being would never even create such a concept, nonetheless send their own child there. Love and hell cannot walk hand in hand.
I really hope this analogy helps put things into perspective.
There is an astronomical difference between how God views his disobedient children and how normal parents view the same. This mismatch should mightily concern Christians, but, owing to the desensitization of lifelong indoctrination, it slips by unnoticed. That you are kinder to your children than God is should raise a red flag.
(2952) Holy Spirit evidence is lacking
Christian theology promotes the existence of the Holy Spirit, a mysterious, massless creature who is one-third of God, and who can speak, inspire human writers, and blow wind. If this is true, then we should be able to detect evidence of the existence of this force or being. The following was taken from:
Imagine Tom tells you that the spirit of a powerful genie lives inside him and assists Tom in his behavior, his understanding and his abilities. Tom claims that recent changes in his behavior, understanding and increased abilities cannot be explained away by the laws of science. You point out that, while Tom’s behavior has improved since his belief in the genie, there are millions of other humans who exhibit identically good behavior who attribute their good behavior to other types of indwelling spirits. You also point out that Tom appears to exhibit no knowledge or understanding beyond what can be explained by Tom’s own mental capabilities. In addition, when Tom makes claims to have used the spirit of the genie to perform supernatural feats, he is unable to produce relevant evidence that would pass scientific muster.
Would you believe Tom truly possesses the spirit of the genie? Would not the spirit of an actual genie produce clear magical effects within whomever it dwelt, and especially if such effects were promised? Wouldn’t there be clear statistical evidence of the spirit of an actual God of the universe were such a spirit to actually exist?
While there is much disagreement on the current activities of the Holy Spirit, nearly all Christians claim that the Holy Spirit is working in or through Christians in ways that cannot be explained naturally. Is this what we actually see? Is there any clear reason why someone with a direct connection to an indwelling Spirit of an actual God would not exhibit the following?
Wisdom: Would not those with the Spirit of an actual God exhibit far greater wisdom than what could be expected from humans without divine assistance? Would we not see far greater doctrinal unity than what we see among presumably false religions? Would we not see Christians falling for scams at rates far lower than the general population? Is this what we see?
Righteousness: Would not those with the Spirit of an actual God exhibit far better behavior than what we see among non-Christian populations? After comparing the crime rates, divorce rates and obesity rates among “real” Christians against other non-Christian populations, is this what we find? Isn’t it odd that there is no detectable difference between Christians and non-Christians along these metrics?
Happiness: Does the “joy of the Lord” truly surpass all understanding? Or is it identical in type and degree to the religious euphoria experienced by believers of all religions? Those isolated within a Christian community do not have an external standard against which to test their joy of the Spirit. How might we properly assess this joy? This is unquestionably difficult to assess, but a start for Christians with little access to non-Christians would be to explore cultures outside their own Christian community. Another might be to compare statistics on the use of anti-depressants between societies. Do Christians truly exhibit a degree and quality of joy unattributable to normal psychological phenomena and unexperienced by other religions?
If a particular group of humans were to possess the Spirit of an actual god of the universe, wouldn’t that be clearly evidenced in their lives to an undeniable degree? Is this what we find?
Because there are no discernible manifestations of the Holy Spirit, objective observers are not going to be satisfied to accept its existence on faith alone. Christianity has over-promised and under-delivered on this doctrinal feature.
(2953) Imploding Christian arguments
Christians often make arguments pointing to the benefits of being a Christian, but when these alleged advantages are objectively considered, they tend to evaporate. The following was taken from:
Has anyone else noticed how many of the philosophies of Christian life tend to… self-implode? I first noticed with the arguments about the existence of God, where apologists would say things like “how can the universe come from nothing, or be eternal” yet turn around and immediately say God comes from nothing and is eternal. It seems a lot of the arguments against naturalism follow a similar pattern.
- You can’t be happy and fulfilled without Jesus, but when I point out that there are non-Christians who are happy and fulfilled they say they aren’t truly happy.
- You can’t experience love unless you follow God’s design for marriage (abstinence and heterosexual monogamy), but when I point out there are happy loving couples outside of that they say they don’t know what true love is.
- You can’t have morals without knowledge of God’s divine dictates, but when I point out that most people have a functional moral compass with or without God they say God put that in their heart anyway, making knowledge of God unnecessary.
- You can’t have any purpose unless it’s some eternal, infinite conscious destiny, but when I point out we can find purpose day to day they say there’s no point in that.
- All of life itself, as we know it, is said to have no meaning if we’re just “chemicals in the brain”, and yet we are the ones who humbly accept our position in the universe and find meaning in this life, while they effectively say this life is meaningless, it’s the next life that counts.
In the end, Christianity supplies nothing in this life that can’t be accessed by non-Christians. This fact alone argues against the general assertion that this faith contains a supernatural element. The promise of an afterlife benefit is nothing more than a flight of fancy.
(2954) Over-attributing an incomprehensible god
Christians have a tendency to claim all manner of properties of their god while also conceding that he is indiscernible. They go way beyond scripture and common sense in painting their god as lacking nothing under the sun. The following was taken from:
The Christian god is mysterious and hidden—so say even the faithful, especially when the incoherence of faith cannot be explained: “God moves in mysterious ways, we can’t know his bigger plans…” George H. Smith, in Atheism: The Case Against God, had a bit of fun with the definition of God found in the National Catholic Almanac. There we learn that God is
“…almighty, eternal, holy, immortal, immense, immutable, incomprehensible, ineffable, infinite, invisible, just, loving, merciful, most high, most wise, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, perfect, provident, supreme, true.” (1968 National Catholic Almanac, p. 360)
“This is certainly an impressive list, but one problem immediately becomes apparent: included in this catalogue of characteristics is ‘incomprehensible.’ One must wonder how it is possible to declare God’s incomprehensibility and simultaneously list twenty-two additional attributes.” (Smith, Atheism: The Case Against God, p. 48)
Each one of these divine qualities prompts questions about the source of this god-knowledge. Where are the data? Even, in some cases, what is the precise definition, e.g., “most high”? There is too much priestly jargon here, which suggests over-compensation, the piling on of superlatives, as if that could dispel the mystery. This reminds us of the old joke—variously attributed to Oscar Wilde and Ambrose Bierce—about the theologian, who, at midnight on a moonless night goes into a dark cave without a flashlight, looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and yells, “I found it!”
If God wasn’t so mysterious perhaps we would have a better handle on his limitations. But being nothing more than a figment of peoples’ imaginations allows him to be everything to every Christian. There are no limits to an imaginary friend.
(2955) Religion constitutes the basement of human ideals
Religion muscled it way into the seams of humanity’s misunderstanding of reality and then became the sinister tool of manipulating tyrants. It has worked against progress, freedom, and knowledge for thousands of years. It has done more harm than good. The following was taken from:
Religion is a natural byproduct of a brain evolved to take cognitive short cuts, and has been completely and utterly designed and revamped again and again by charlatans throughout the ages who know how to charm and/or frighten people into compliance, and suspend curiosity. Religion is bad epistemology; it glorifies ignorance and rewards gullibility. It elevates faith as a higher virtue than knowledge, or ethics, and teaches people to be their own thought police. Even the mild, mainstream versions lend credibility to the violent, hostile versions because they believe at the core the extremists are correct in their beliefs, just misguided with reference to how to express those beliefs the “right way.” But how can a version be extreme when that was, at one time, the mainstream belief? The fact is, religion has no reality check because it defends itself against accountability, and without a standard by which to measure accuracy of a faith-based belief (how would that even work?), there is no right or wrong. There is no True Scotsman, no extremist. They are all variations on a theme, equally valid by its own internal logic.
How can such a divisive, socially and intellectually retarding institution prevail well into the scientific age? Well, one good analogy is the closed room, where people are kept for their entire lives. They are told that trees are red, and there are pictures of red trees on the wall. It’s only when people leave the room that they can see that trees are green, but when the escapees return to the room to tell the others, they are dismissed as being liars. Any belief system buttressed by internal logic (pictures of red trees) should be seen as a dangerous intrusion on peoples’ intellectual freedom.
(2956) The Bible fumbles health issues
A book inspired by a god should necessarily provide instructions that redound to healthy behaviors. By this metric, the Bible fails. The following was taken from:
The Bible is quite clear about certain things related to health.
Christians should not care about whether they should wash their hands before eating (GMark 7:1-5), because “whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him” (GMark 7:18). Lest it be thought that Jesus was merely teaching his followers to eat according to general and unhygenic practises at the time, GMark 7:3-4 reveals that the Jews had taboos requiring them to wash their hands before eating, and requiring them to wash their cups, pots, and tables.
Christians, when sick, should not seek for physicians (James 5:14). Rather, Christians should call for other Christians to gather to them and to pray over them and to anoint them with oil, so that YHWH can heal them of their diseases (James 5:14-15).
Christians, in general, should not trust physicians for two reasons:
1) physicians’ treatments are presented within their scriptures as less effective than healings performed by YHWH/Jesus (GMark 5:25-34); and
2) seeking treatment from physicians is a manifestation of lack of faith in YHWH (2 Chronicles 16:12).
All of these verses, when placed together, encourage Christians to shun physicians’ treatments for diseases, rely upon faith-based medicine, lack care about washing before eating, and gather non-physician Christians to pray over them when they are sick. These are practices contrary to best medical practices today and, when practiced, cause disease to spread untreated.
Christians may say that the verses which I have cited should not be interpreted literally – but if such an argument be accepted, then the question arises of why we non-Christians should accept other claims within the Christians’ scriptures as literally true.
Lest people think that Buddhism is equal or inferior to Christianity in its attitudes to medicine, I remind people that Shakyamuni Buddha, as is represented within my Pali Canon, did not claim to be able to cure diseases miraculously, relied upon the trained physician Jivaka for medical advice, and urged his monastic followers to accumulate and use medicine in order to treat diseases rather than relying upon miracle-workers or presenting themselves as miracle-workers.
At the very least, we can say that the Bible did not present effective and forward-thinking knowledge on medical issues, and that this represents a missed opportunity to display evidence of supernatural inspiration. It seems that a real god would have done a better job.
(2957) God is a bully
If one can escape the religious inculcation growing up as a Christian, and take an objective view of God’s personality, it becomes obvious that he acts similar to what we normally describe as a bully. This trait seems unbecoming the universal creator. The following was taken from:
If Christians actually read the Bible—and don’t assume that the famous feel-good verses represent the whole story—they could see that this is not the God they want. He’s always hovering, making his list and checking it twice:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Jesus, Matthew 12:36-37)
“…their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.” (Romans 2:15-16)
Our words and thoughts are being monitored by the God who runs the cosmos. Little thought seems to be given to the astounding improbability that this could be true—but never mind that, it’s offensive. We are under constant surveillance: this is totalitarian monotheism. God even monitors sexual arousal:
“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” (Matthew 5:28-29) Of course the metaphor is extreme, but it’s used to drive home the point that God detests lust.
One of the feel good verses is Luke 10:27,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Yes, this order to love is bullying. And is there a verse that is so widely ignored—especially the last five words? Here Jesus recommends extreme religion: God must be loved at the ALL-ALL-ALL-ALL level. Why would God need that, and how many Christians can claim to do it? Acts 5:1-11 is probably not a favorite Bible story: the apostle Peter scolded a couple so severely that they dropped dead. Their crime: they had not donated to the church all the money from the sale of property. I suspect most Christian don’t read this story and respond enthusiastically, “Way to go Peter! I’ll step up my game!”
This theme continues in Luke 14:33: “So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” And Luke 16:15: “…but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”
This bully God has far too many hang-ups—far too much resentment towards humans. Even after the Flood he didn’t get the help he needed with anger management.
It seems unlikely that a real god would bulldoze his imperfect human creations in this way. But if humans were to create a god for various purposes, one of which is to establish a means of control over other humans, then giving that imaginary god a suite of bullying tactics would be advantageous.
(2958) Resurrection cannot be established by historical evidence
Historical evidence must be evaluated against the present reality of the world, and any aspect of that evidence that runs contrary to what can be currently observed should be viewed with substantial suspicion. So, the resurrection of Jesus falls into that category. The following was taken from:
My argument can be summed up as: leaning on the existence of “historical facts” (and the methods used to establish them) to support a reasonable belief in the resurrection is highly flawed, as fundamentally new aspects of reality cannot be established via historical evidence.
With that I better describe what I mean by fundamentally new aspects of reality (and I admit this might be something I can find a better term for, though I don’t think it’s difficult to argue that the existence of a man who is God would indeed be very new to reality as we know it) – these are the things we reliably know and can verify the existence of. And to clarify, when I use the word “new” I mean new knowledge to us, to humankind, not like something that literally just pops newly into existence. New in the sense that it is something we previously did not have knowledge of (e.g. at some point, we didn’t know the earth went around the sun…). Maybe best to just jump into some examples:
One analogy Matt used in the debate is George Washington’s dog; we know people exist, we know dogs exist, we know people name dogs – so for claims dealing with these things, there is nothing fundamentally new about reality as we know it being introduced, and in this case nothing that we couldn’t go out and verify the existence of today (that is, the broad existence of “dogs”). Yes we might establish an untestable claim about a specific dog owned by a specific person, maybe even establish this as historical fact, but we aren’t introducing fundamentally new aspects of reality, just seeing how the pieces we know to exist seem to fit together. Now if the claim was that this dog could speak perfect English, or could turn literally invisible and thus sneak across enemy lines, or could time travel, or was a human transformed into an animal via witchcraft, or was an interdimensional being that Washington contacted while on a drug-induced hallucinatory trip and managed to then become manifest in our space-time reality, well anything like that we might be getting into something different than the reality that we already know…
How do I support the claim that fundamentally new aspects of reality cannot be established via historical evidence? Well, I honestly challenge anyone to provide such a case of something fundamentally new ever being established as “historical fact.” Historical scholars may agree on a Jesus of Nazareth existing, and being crucified, but there is no scholarly consensus of the resurrection, or Jesus being divine, as historical fact. That said, I’m no historian, and I am interested in what the next closest examples here may be… the example of crossing the alps on elephant isn’t close; elephants exist, mountains exist, this isn’t a question of introducing a fundamentally new aspect of reality but rather one of whether a specific natural event occurred involving these clearly known-to-exist things. Maybe there are historians who disagree with me and think that we should be able to introduce new aspects of reality via their methods and looking at millennia old testimony, but I would first say that’s fine if they think that but it clearly just isn’t how history is currently done, so it’s not arguing from established historical methods – second I would get into the reasons this isn’t and shouldn’t be done (this is already long so will save that for another time)
Another question here may be how does or would anything fundamentally new ever get established? (certainly we can’t assume that all we know today is all that fundamentally exists). I think that’s simple, it just has to be something that can be tested or verified or demonstrated via reliable means moving forward (don’t know if a dog that can turn invisible is even possible? well just have to go verify it happening now and we’re good… can’t do that? sorry, can’t establish as fact until such a time).
Does this mean that such a fundamentally new thing must always need to happen in the present, and maybe continue to be verifiable into the future? Maybe. I consider an example of electrons: do we rely on historical evidence to support their existence? Kinda, we have records of the tests done and results, who tested what, but it’s not as though we can’t check those things today. IF it were the case that a test was run once, and not repeatable again in the future for some reason (say we have to build a big thing like CERN and then it gets destroyed after one test), can we then carry forward with the thing demonstrated as fact? If we were careful enough with it, documented it well enough, given current technology we are maybe at a point this could be feasible, but we’d still have to admit that in the future if it isn’t verifiable people may have no reason to trust it. And this is soooo far from a case of only having testimony, from millennia ago.
The Bible is replete with miraculous stories that present a world different from what modern people experience. This raises the question of whether it is presenting history or myth. It is either myth or the workings of reality have shifted since 2000 years ago. The resurrection of Jesus needs more support than a book saying it happened.
(2959) A real god would not require financial resources
It is curious that the spread of Christianity is dependent on a financial structure that requires believers to donate money, just like any other human enterprise. This is contradictory because the faith claims that its founder is an omnipotent being capable of achieving any goal with effortless speed. The following was taken from:
Imagine meeting a wizard who claims to be able to appear anywhere, and to turn rocks into bread and grass into money. Now imagine that same wizard claiming he needs your financial donation to carry on his good work of feeding the poor. Would you believe such a wizard? Perhaps you might conclude he just wanted to test your empathy. But what if millions actually gave him money to feed starving children, yet millions of starving children still died while this omnipresent and omnipotent wizard looked on? Could you conclude anything other than that feeding starving children was not an actual interest of the wizard? What if the wizard claimed your generous donation or obligatory tithe would help others travel around the world to spread the good news about the existence of this wizard who can appear anywhere in the world at will? Would you not then begin to doubt that this wizard was truly who he claimed to be?
There are several Christian sects that do not suggest financial donations are a necessary part of God’s program. This argument will not apply to them.
However, the vast majority of Christian denominations claim that you are helping God’s will advance when you financially donate. Undoubtedly, some of the money donated is spent by individuals with good hearts intent on helping those truly in need. A great deal of it is spent on homes and amenities for those who claim to have been called by the Christian God to minister to the spiritual and physical needy. What is the probability that an actual God of the universe would require such a financial infrastructure to accomplish his will? What is the probability an actual God of the universe would operate with the same modus operandi as do all the other alleged Gods? Would not the real God, were one to exist, simply employ a fraction of his power to fully accomplish his will, whether that be protecting them from hunger and harm those he claims to love, or communicating to them his existence and will? Why would any actual God avoid demonstrating his might and make his divine project as dependent on human contributions as any wholly human enterprise? Is this what an actual God of the universe would do?
It appears that nearly all the candidate Gods proposed today need your money to get things done. Or perhaps the Christian God is merely testing the faith of Christians…just as the Muslim God is claimed to be testing the faith of Muslims through their willingness to donate. Who can say? Does this sound credible to you?
Remember, we are talking about the alleged God of the universe, fully omnipresent and omnipotent, needing your financial donation to save the needy. And if you come up short, those needy suffer in spite of this alleged loving and omnipotent God standing idly by. Does this sound credible?
(2960) God is incompetent and lazy
The creators of Christianity failed to see that the way God is portrayed in the Bible and in conventional wisdom indicates a certain level of incompetence, indifference, of just plain laziness. He does not measure up to his alleged attributes of being omnipotent and omniscient. The following was taken from:
Can a perfect deity be omnipotent, yet also not have his act together? Many Christians—of both the evangelical and Catholic variety, for example—know for sure that the devil brings havoc to the world, and through his agents torments individuals as well. So there is a major rival god and multitudes of evil spirits. We would hear denials that Satan is a rival god, yet even devout Christians are distressed that Satan causes so much pain and suffering in the world. He must have god-like powers. Pope Francis mentioned in his Palm Sunday sermon that the Evil One is behind so much our misery associated with Covid.
We can conclude that the spiritual realm is a mess: God tolerates a powerful rival. Why would an omnipotent deity have to deal with that? Why are some priests trained to be exorcists? If God has to put up with Satan, can’t he at least annihilate lower-level demons? This suggests a certain level of incompetence.
But is there also divine exhaustion and even laziness? After all, God rested after six days of creation—or is that just a fable now? Maybe not: the Catholic Church claims the existence of thousands of saints who listen to petitions from the faithful. Mary seems to have an especially heavy workload; she tours the globe putting in personal appearances. Does God need the help? Of course, Protestants scoff at this role for the saints. I suspect that if all Christians were asked to weigh in on this issue, there would be diverse opinion on the reality of angels, demons, and saints; surely some Christians can sense the theological incoherence here. Is God in charge—truly in charge—or not? If not, he doesn’t have his own house in order. It’s hard enough to explain the division of labor in The Trinity.
Obviously, allowing demons free reign to terrorize humans and influence them to reject salvation is well beyond ridiculous for an all-powerful god who desires adoration and for all to enjoy eternal bliss. Apologists must concede that God could easily annihilate demons but does not do so for some reason. This can only mean that he wants demons to exist and for them to do their dirty work.
(2961) Children as cancer
In the contorted world of Christian apologetics, amazing acrobatics are performed, and to justify God’s order to exterminate the Canaanites including the children (in the Book of Joshua) apologists refer to the children as a cancer that had to be removed. The following was taken from:
Recall that Weikart believes that Christianity taught the universal love of all humanity. But the fact is that “love” itself can be defined in such a way as to render genocide a loving act. Consider this passage, from R. A. Torrey, one of the contributors to The Fundamentals, a series of anti-evolutionary tracts that helped popularize the name “fundamentalist”:
The extermination of the Canaanite children was not only an act of mercy and love to the world at large; it was an act of love and mercy to the children themselves. 
Indeed, Christian “love” has been a very common defense for violence throughout Christian history.
Moreover, some creationists even use medicalized language, quite similar to that of Nazi ideologues, to explain the necessity of genocide of the Canaanites. Gleason Archer, a renowned evangelical creationist, phrases it thus:
Just as the wise surgeon removes dangerous cancer from his patient’s body by use of the scalpel, so God employed the Israelites to remove such dangerous malignancies from human society. 
Archer has no trouble thinking of Canaanite children as being part of the “malignancy” that had to be removed.
Referring to children as a cancer or their slaughter as an act of love reveals the putrid underbelly of Christian theology. When you have to resort to ludicrous arguments to defend your faith, it’s a good clue that there is something seriously wrong with your faith.
(2962) Excusing immorality by historical context is a failure
Christian apologists are fond of asserting that morality is objective and unchanging because it emanates from a perfect god, but at the same time they try to excuse the evil actions of the Old Testament by saying that it must be judged in the historical setting of its time and not by today’s standards. This is a contradiction. The following was taken from:
Objective morality: morality that does not change. What is moral yesterday is moral now and will be moral until the end of time and beyond.
Many times, atheists will claim a religion is immoral because it praises acts and things we today generally agree are immoral. For instance, if a religion claims genocide was good in the past or if it allowed slavery in the past, this is pointed out as immoral.
The common rebuttal is to say that in that historical context, things like slavery or genocide were okay even if it’s not okay in our current context.
If the theist believes in subjective morality, then that works. If they believe in objective morality, then the argument fails.
If morality does not change, then the theist is left with two options.
Option 1: they must claim the acts or things are still moral today. For instance, slavery must be defended as moral, or genocide must be defended as moral today. It should be apparent why this is not a good option for the theist.
Option 2: they must claim that it was immoral then and is still immoral now. This option concedes the argument and admits defeat on the part of the theist, which obviously the theist does not want.
This is why historical context objections do not work.
The only way out of this conundrum for Christians is to admit either that morality is subjective and that it evolves over time or that God was involved in many immoral deeds in biblical times. Neither of these options offers a comfortable escape. The atrocities of the Old Testament is a permanent noose around the neck of Christianity.
(2963) Watching your own movie with surprise
Imagine that you have produced a movie. You wrote the script, hired the actors, developed the staging, shot the scenes, edited them, and produced the final product. Now, after all of this, watching this movie for the first time, would you experience moments of surprise, disgust, hilarity, or sadness? No, these are emotions that occur in humans by way of seeing things we hadn’t seen before or didn’t anticipate. God, as described by Christianity is analogous to the movie maker, but he is inexplicably saddled with all sorts of contradictory emotional responses.
The Abrahamic Holy books depict their god as one full of emotions: jealousy, anger, sadness, love, etc. How is it even possible for an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being to have emotion? Emotional states are reactionary for the most part aren’t they? How can a god react to us if he is all-knowing and has a divine plan? Everything should be happening according to her[sic] plan, right? – RfinleySr
The people who wrote the Bible made the mistake of assuming maximal attributes for God but also having him respond to events in a very human way. This leaves objective observers with a cloudy view of just who is this god.
(2964) God left humanity stranded
The standard English-language Bible contains about 750,000 words, words that were allegedly inspired by the unlimited intelligence of a universe-creating omnipotent deity, but nowhere in the entirety of the text is there anything that displays that level of intelligence. God left humanity stranded to its own devices. The following was taken from:
Suppose it were decided, at a secret meeting of Bible publishers, to just drop the Book of Ezekiel. From now on leave it out. How many of the folks in the pews would notice and lead protests in the streets? I’m guessing that this 50-page chunk of scripture wouldn’t even be missed. God could have devoted that space to giving humanity a head start on understanding the cosmos and the world.
Scientists didn’t work out aspirin and Novocain until modern times (the 1890s-1900s). How much suffering could have been prevented, for millennia, with some of this basic knowledge? God could have included a Book of Practical Wisdom, describing, for example, how to build refrigerators, microscopes and telescopes. Why not tell us, early on, about microbes? In the New Testament, disease is blamed on sin and demons. That was not helpful at all.
In what Barbara Tuchman called “the calamitous 14th century,” at the time of the Black Plague, bands of desperate flagellants wandered Europe hoping to convince God that they were sorry for the sins that had provoked his terrible wrath. Yet God still withheld vital knowledge. He could have answered thousands of prayers with a simple message: “It’s the fleas, not the sins.”
One of the most devastating critiques of the Christian God is Tim Sledge’s Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief. Sledge notes “the germ warfare question”:
“Not only did Jesus fail to mention germs, but he steered his listeners in the wrong direction when he told them not to worry about washing their hands.” (p. 41) “Decent parents protect their kids from danger. If your toddler grabs the liquid Drano container, you don’t watch in silence. But that is exactly what God the Heavenly Father had done through the ages. He just watches, invisible and silent. Why? God had been watching silently for thousands of years by the time Jesus had come along. It was late in the game, but couldn’t the Son of God—the one described as The Great Physician—have made a greater contribution to human health than healing a few people while he was on earth? Why didn’t Jesus say anything about germs?” (pp. 45-46)
If we make a genuine effort to evaluate the Christian God with as little faith bias as possible; if we can ignore the giant propaganda engine that the church has become; if we can honestly face the heavy helpings of superstition and magical thinking in the New Testament, the Christian God takes his place beside so many other flawed deities spawned by the cults of the ancient world.
The theologians who still defend this God—a relic of old Yahweh—do a major disservice to our modern world.
If someone today were to write a new ‘bible’ and claim that it was being inspired by an omnipotent god, but when you read through his writings and found nothing that seemed to be beyond our current level of knowledge, would it cause you to be skeptical of his claim? Generally, this question would be answered ‘yes.’ There should be something there that would reveal something unknown that would only become verified at some point later in history. The Bible has nothing like that. God left humanity stranded or he doesn’t exist.
(2965) Christianity’s fatal paradox
Christianity asserts that salvation is on an individual basis; there is no dogma suggesting that whole families or groups of people attain a measure of collective atonement, though there exist some scriptures that hint at this. But for this argument, we will assume the conventional tenet that each person is judged separately.
This means that there will be a multitude of cases where some family members and friends will be sent to heaven while others go to hell. The paradox is that, for instance, how could a mother enjoy the bliss of heaven knowing that her daughter is burning in hell?
There have been numerous apologetic attempts to soften the edges around this thorny situation, but none have been fully successful. There seems to be only two viable options: (1) hell is not real or is not painful, and (2) God performs surgery on our brains to excise the memory of loved ones who are sent to hell.
The case of (1) is not very productive because it overlook the anguish from simply not enjoying the presence of a loved one in heaven, even if they are not in distress. Also, it obviates a central doctrine of the faith- that hell indeed exists and that it does involve suffering.
The case of (2) above might even be worse- it involves a sinister alteration to your mental state, leaving you a diminished shell of your original personality. For example, is a mother whose memory of her daughter is erased still the same person?
In summary, the doctrine of heaven and hell combined with the concept of individual salvation represents a fatal paradox for Christianity.
How could this have been avoided? Not easily, but there were two possible approaches: (1) have no afterlife, advertise the faith as giving support in this life only, or (2) universal salvation, that is, say that everybody eventually goes to heaven even if they are temporarily sentenced to hell. Christianity took neither of these approaches, and thus the paradox remains, and it is fatal.
(2966) Jesus couldn’t be fully human and fully god
Christians have taken the liberty to state what in any other setting would be an obvious contradiction- that Jesus was fully god and also fully human. There are a lot of reason to decline this doctrine. The following was taken from:
Contradictions and cake eating are two qualities we know and love about the logic supporting Christianity. Today, we discuss the notion that Jesus is wholly human and wholly God; hopefully it’s not too soon after Easter and we can get a proper grip on what’s going on.
Firstly, let’s state the claims, as far as I understand them.
- Jesus needs to be 100% human so that his sacrifice is relevant to us, actual 100% humans. Otherwise, God may as well throw down a sheep and ask us to kill it.
- His humanity is proven by his physical appearance – he looks the part; and he has human desires and feels pain.
- And of course, he can die.
- On the flip side, his deity credentials were established before he was “born” – he was always around in some form, apparently prophesied, and even visited by three actual kings upon his birth. And let’s not forget the biggest miracle – that Mary, the child-mother of Jesus, wasn’t killed for adultery.
- Post birth he was confirmed as a legitimate prophet, and returned to life, performed miracles and even bragged about being actually god and the son of god.
- And of course, his resurrection was the final proof that his Godhood couldn’t be challenged.
- The claims of him being 100% human and god isn’t a temporal claim: it’s not that Jesus was God, then Human, then God again. The claim is that he is simultaneously both, at the same time. You see this in the various analogies to “explain” it – that it’s like a role – a man can be a father and teacher at the same time. One person recently said it’s like shampoo with conditioner in that it can do both!
Apologies in advance if I don’t have this quite right but these claims all have problems:
- We have a math problem: 100% of something plus 100% of something else doesn’t equal 100% of that the same thing. Jesus’ proven deity-skills means that he’s not 100% human – it means he’s human plus super powers. It’s in the word “plus”.
- His DNA does not come from two humans; I’m not even sure that they necessarily come from one since it’s not established whether Mary’s egg was fertilized or not. That should be the biggest proof that Jesus isn’t 100% human but a synthetic one.
- Jesus possessed a lot of special knowledge (assuming he didn’t make it all up) and knew of his mission to force humans to kill him in and he willingly and deliberately provoked the religious establishment to do so. Along with his claims that he is a deity with knowledge that no other human could have, this clearly means he’s not 100% human – he possessed a direct connection to information that could otherwise not be possible to access: what human can do that?
- What 100% human can perform miracles? None of course! Certainly not with their bare hands and certainly there is no technology to raise the dead, walk on water or feed thousands of people.
- Jesus’ mission was to maintain his innocence against the temptations that other humans find hard to resist. And he did this even when Satan himself pulled out all stops. Clearly this must take a superhuman power or Jesus, not really being human, probably wasn’t even tempted at all. Either way, definitely not 100% human.
- Jesus’ torture and death of course clearly shows that this was something that he wished on himself; and even though many humans have suffered far worse and for much longer periods, the claim that Jesus did this willingly is also not a very human thing to do. This is where his godhood provides him with a mental and possibly physical shield to something that would debilitate a normal human. So again, Jesus cannot be 100% human.
- Post death, of course, the claim that he’s still pure human is even more ridiculous: did god have multiple Jesus-clones at the ready to whip out as needed? The biology of death is clearly understood to be non reversible – there is too much decay and brain death is unlikely to return the same personality. Regular 100% human cannot possibly actually physically die and be resurrected so again, we see that a Jesus cannot be human.
If we can dispense with the pretense that Jesus is a true human, we are not obliged to accept his sacrifice; and finally realize the story is either a complete fabrication and if not, it’s god messing with us using an obvious puppet, avatar or set of clones.
(2967) John’s Lazarus story fails
The author of the Gospel of John in Chapter 11 tells the story of Jesus raising to life a man (Lazarus) who had been dead for four days. He evidently invented this story to foreshadow the resurrection of Christians on the last day. But taking a closer look, it was a major theological blunder. The following was taken from:
How do Christians fail to see that this indeed qualifies as a magic spell? Jesus said something really loud, and a dead man came alive. They’re so used to the idea that Jesus performed miracles they fail to notice this fragment of ancient magical lore.
But does this story do what it’s supposed to do? Does it successfully drive home a theological point worth taking seriously? Are we supposed to be convinced—by Lazarus walking out of a tomb—that we can count on a general day of resurrection sometime in the future? Are Christians actually looking forward to that, anticipating the day they can gather in cemeteries to see it all happen? This is a contrived story to make a theological point that is now defunct.
How would a dead body coming back to life—way back then—mean that Christians forever after are assured of eternal life? There is no way at all for that to make sense. The apostle Paul, moreover, would have rejected any tale of a wrapped body walking out of a tomb, stinking after four days. He was sure that, on the day of resurrection, those who are saved would have “spiritual” bodies, as he describes in I Corinthians 15: “… we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (vv. 51-53) Paul pulled this out of his imagination as well; he was just as delusional as John was.
Good novelists—even fantasy novelists—by the way, do not leave loose ends. John might have told his readers when and how Lazarus had to die again. Would that have deflated the story? Neither does Matthew tell us what happened to the newly alive dead people who toured Jerusalem on Easter morning. How long did they wander around before heading back to their tombs to resume being dead? John’s Lazarus plot doesn’t work very well—and neither does Matthew’s zombie plot. They are both feeble fantasies—and bad theology.
Of course the resurrection-of-Jesus plot fails as well, because the storytellers couldn’t think what to do with his newly alive body either, except to have it float away into the sky. Theology tends to stumble badly in the face of reality. Two years ago in an article here on the DC Blog I asked: “Did the resurrected Jesus hang out with his resurrected friend Lazarus before they both died for good a second time?”
I recall as a child being taught how wonderful the Lazarus story was because here was the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” Such a sensitive, caring guy—well, if you overlook I am glad I was not there.
There is so much about this story to make us suspicious. After four days of putrification, what sort of aches and pains did Lazarus have as he stumbled out of the tomb? Did he just head home to change clothes? We can assume that no one ever interviewed Lazarus about what had happened; can’t have been much fun. And how did he feel about being allowed to die so that Jesus could be glorified? That must have tested the friendship. But these are real-world questions about John’s macabre theological fantasy. Let’s just file it under Bible Blunders and leave it there.
Although this story is a favorite for most Christians, it remains for any objective viewer an exercise in both bad history and bad theology. Bad history because it recounts a story that could not have escaped mention in all of the other three gospels and the writings of Paul. Bad theology because although Lazarus came back to life it must be assumed that he died a second time, so this miracle seemed to be just a temporary fix. It was a larger-than-life miracle story designed to offer evidence of the believers’ guarantee of eternal life, but it miserably failed in that pursuit.
(2968) Authorial gluttony
It is well established that many biblical authors made up stories to jazz up their accounts to presumably make them more popular. Given the paucity of fact-checking at that time, this was not a risky move, and, in fact, at that time the embellishment of history was seen much more benignly than it is today, and was even expected.
This leaves biblical scholars in a difficult place trying to figure out where this gluttony ran amok. One the best examples is the entire Gospel of John, which starts out by making the startling equivalence between Jesus and God, never before put in writing. Other elements of excess were seen as well, as described in this excerpt from Richard Carrier’s book below:
“John’s Gospel contains long, implausible, never-before-imagined speeches of Jesus (and yet, no Sermon on the Mount, or indeed hardly any moral instruction of any sort), and entirely new characters and events also never heard of before (Nicodemus, Lazarus, Cana). John also changes everything around, such as moving Jesus’ clearing of the temple to the beginning rather than the end of his ministry, expanding his ministry from one to three years (with multiple trips to Judea and Jerusalem rather than only one), and moving the date (and thus even the year) of Jesus’ execution to make Jesus’ death correspond exactly with the slaughter of the Passover lambs … John has thus run wild with authorial gluttony, freely changing everything and inventing whatever he wants. By modern standards, John is lying.” (Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, pp. 490-491)
In today’s world, with cell phone cameras and multiple media outlets, it is much harder for an author to make up fictitious stories and expect them to be taken seriously. This was not the situation during biblical times. We can easily detect the fiction in the Gospel of John, but this leaves us wondering how much otherwise in the Bible seems plausibly true but is fictional as well.
(2969) The child paradox
The possible existence of hell is sometimes given as a reason for a person foregoing having children, under the theory that a single child who ends up in hell fully negates all of the good of having multiple children going to heaven. The following was taken from:
Imagine you want children. You can have as many as you want, but your firstborn is guaranteed to spend eternity suffering in Hell. The rest will live in heaven with you. Perhaps the firstborn deserves it, as he will live a wicked and hurtful life; he has free will, and he is aware of the consequences of his actions. There’s absolutely nothing you can do about his eternal fate.
Except…you can choose to not have ANY children.
Maybe you’re lonely, maybe the thought of spending eternity in bliss with the rest of your children makes it palatable enough that you can forget about your firstborn, suffering in isolation forever, without reprieve. I’m not going to tell you what choice you SHOULD make, but I can tell you that if you know this future with absolute certainty and choose to have children anyway, you CANNOT consider yourself a perfect parent. Maybe some of you can relate to making this choice (?), as flawed and finite beings who need connection, but this choice is not an option for a perfectly Good, Selfless, and All-Sufficient entity.
Any parent who goes ahead with having a child that they know will end up in hell is not a good person. Substitute parent for god, and the problem is easily seen. Either God doesn’t know where each person will end up, or he is a sadistic monster. The invention of hell left Christianity open to the child paradox, and making God seem worse than a typical human parent.
(2970) Answering questions not a sign of truth
Many people flock to religions because they can give them answers to their deepest questions, such as why they are here, what is the purpose of life, and where am I going afterwards. These are questions that are generally outside the realm of science, giving religion an advantage over science with some deep-question yearners. But to equate the ability to answer these types of questions with the truthfulness of the underlying doctrine is a mistake. The following was taken from:
Imagine we are tasked with answering all the deep questions humans ask about life. We would want to answer questions about human purpose and meaning, questions corresponding to the strong emotional needs of humans, and questions about other deep truths about the universe. Can science or religions better provide the most satisfying answers to these questions? Religions can, right? Because religions are largely unconstrained by scientific testing, any religious system that is self-consistent will answer more of these questions than does science. Do you have a fear of death? Religion can simply invent and offer you a post-death paradise. Science can’t. Science is constrained by very strict standards of evidence. Do you yearn for a cosmic purpose to make life meaningful? Most religions suggest there is a God who has a customized plan for you. Questions about justice, suffering and love are similarly answered. Are not the answers religions can provide to deep questions indicative of the truth of those religions? And if Christianity can provide the most answers to deep questions, does that not make Christianity the truest religion?
Religions, constrained only by internal consistency, have the freedom to invent any entity or concept necessary to provide answers to all the vexing questions we ask about life. Religions exempt themselves from scientific scrutiny by making their most fundamental entities and concepts untestable. Sometimes religions simply make their entities and concepts spiritual, and therefore largely inaccessible to the instruments of science. Many religious leaders actually claim it is improper to try to scientifically test the religion. So, while science does offer far fewer answers to life’s deep questions, religions have full freedom of the imagination to invent any entity and concept necessary to answer them all. So long as there is a general internal consistency within the web of that religion’s doctrines, that religion can boast answers that cannot be disproven. If that religion can then convince a community of humans that an ideology that answers most of the deepest questions humans ask is also likely true, that religion will likely propagate through that community. However, once we think clearly about this, it becomes quickly apparent that having more answers is not equivalent to being more truthful, especially when the answers are largely dependent on untestable entities and concepts.
Consider the notion of lightning. Prior to modern science, each religion explained lightning as a phenomenon caused by their respective untestable deities without the fear of having those deities disproven by science. Some religions went so far as to claim lightning was judgment for sins, a claim bolstered by the sulfuric smell of lightning strikes similar to a Hell of brimstone, another scientifically unsubstantiated concept. As long as you 31 are not constrained by science and are careful to keep your web of unsubstantiated entities and concepts internally consistent, you can answer every single troubling question humans can ask.
So is the ability of any given religion to answer all of the deeper questions in life indicative of its truth? Nope. It may be merely a measure of the creativity of story-tellers, story-tellers unconstrained by scientific scrutiny as many of the invisible and spiritual elements of their stories are safely insulated from the probing of science.
Christianity and other religions as well are guilty of taking advantage of peoples’ fears and emotional longings by making untestable assertions, whereas science defends only those hypotheses that have been rigorously tested. This obviously leaves a gap where religion claims to have more answers. Vulnerable people can be persuaded to latch on to religion’s more robust explanation for existential and after-death matters. However, this does not imply that any such religion is true- unless that religion makes claims that are testable, have met those tests, and has shown an ability to make falsifiable predictions that are later proven true. No religion has yet met these qualifications.
(2971) Christianity’s rank dishonesty
Christianity has set up a system that condemns people for failing to understand some things while at the same time declaring that they don’t have the ability to understand other things. This creates a hypocritical conundrum that undermines the faith. The following was taken from:
According to Romans 1, you should innately know that God created the universe – not just any God, mind you, the Christian God specifically. If you don’t believe this, the Bible tells you you’re suppressing the truth in unrighteousness because you actually know God exists and your mind has the capacity to infer from observing creation that the universe requires a creator. In other words, you should trust your mind when it examines the evidence and leads you to belief in God.
But whoa there, bud. Just in case you get too used to “leaning on your own understanding”, you ought to remember that the human mind is deceitful and desperately wicked and corrupt, borne in sin. “My thoughts are not your thoughts,” says the Lord. How can you, O fallen man, trust your own reasoning? Trust God over your own heart, lest professing yourself wise you become a fool!
This system is perfect because it allows Christians to snort about how “illogical” atheists are for denying a creator, yet in the same breath write off any obvious evidence which stands contrary to the more outlandish claims of their religion.
Earth seems to be designed? It’s obvious and you’re without excuse.
All animals couldn’t possibly fit on an ark? Lean not on your own understanding.
It makes logical sense that God would be sovereign. It’s obvious and you’re without excuse.
Wait, if God is sovereign doesn’t that mean it’s his fault we sin? Who are you o man! Lean not on your own understanding.
Christians trust human reasoning whenever it confirms the Bible, but discard it whenever the same reasoning leads us to conclusions to the contrary.
That is rank dishonesty.
This is playing tennis without the net. If something has the appearance of supporting the truth of Christianity, then you are required to see that for what it is. But if something seems to be contrary to what the faith preaches, then you are discouraged from using the same critical thought process…simply surrender to the unknown and trust what you have been told. This dynamic is not what would be expected if a religion was factually true.
(2972) Imagine an invisible force
If you eliminate reference to a god, and just couch the thrust of the Christian religion in terms of an invisible force, the sinister aspect of it comes shining through. The following was taken from:
Imagine telling kids or teens an invisible force is watching their every single move, judging them, criticizing them, and that everything they do could be wrong and that they constantly have to ask for forgiveness, if they have a single bad thought or watch or listen to something that goes completely against what the invisible force stands for that they won’t make it to the place this invisible force is creating for them and that another invisible force that is said to be fucking wicked worse than the boogeyman will take them away to burn and torture them.
Imagine telling kids and teens that when they hear this language called a holy spirit that if they question it or laugh at it it’s unforgivable and they won’t be forgiven by this invisible force that supposedly loves them but criticizes them. Imagine telling them there will be a day when they’re judged and publicly shamed and yelled at and spit out into a fiery lake, imagine shaming them for normal desires, imagine teaching them about the world ending at any fucking year in human history, any day any hour making them pretty much paranoid, imagine making them afraid of literally everything, imagine making them feel sooo horrible that they feel they have to go watch a whole video about what hell is supposedly like to scare themselves.
Imagine making them feel like just lying is a big deal. I mean yeah lying isn’t great but it should not be comparable to murder. Imagine making them feel so bad about lying that they feel they can’t talk about it and if they don’t want to talk about it they’ll feel like they’ll burn. Imagine making them feel like unlovable shitty garbage to the point where they’re suicidal and sometimes just want to die. Imagine telling them everything they love is wrong, and then they feel like they worship something. Imagine telling them to feel guilty for every minor thing. Imagine making them feel afraid of demons to the point where it could be why they’re so afraid of the dark. Imagine telling them that they need to tell everyone about the invisible force or they and the people they need to tell will never make it to this “wonderful” place…
Telling people that they can’t hide from this force, that the force is always monitoring their actions and even their thoughts, and that the force is capable of punishing them to an explosive level is the ultimate deceptive use of fear and control tactics. That Christianity employs this strategy is a good sign that it was made up by humans to enslave the minds of other humans.
(2973) Christianity pushes penis insecurity
One of the pieces of evidence that suggest that Christianity is man-made is the way that it pushes distinct gender roles, in contrast to an alleged super-knowledgeable god who would presumably understand the fluidity of gender expression in humans. And one way that this effect can be measured is by comparing the insecurities of evangelical men to others with their penis size. The following was taken from:
Evangelical Christian men may be more insecure about the size of their penises, according to a study published in last month’s Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The authors were testing whether participation in the Evangelical communities makes men insecure since so much Evangelical rhetoric is about the male member. This is evident when looking at how much Evangelicals talk about the “complementarity of the sexes,” the authors said, or the idea that God created men and women for specific roles that define how entire communities operate.
“Writings of prominent evangelical thought leaders have for decades relied on phallic symbolism and even explicit phallic references to either valorize physical strength or, more often in the negative, castigate Christian men for their lack of ‘manliness,’” the authors wrote. “Our findings provide important insight” into Evangelicals’ “views that equate masculine worth with physical size and strength either centering on or symbolized by the penis.”
The authors of the study did not measure people’s genitalia because they were concerned about insecurity, not size. Nor did they rely on surveys because, they said, this is a topic that a lot of people are not very honest about.
Instead, they looked at aggregate data from Google about searches that would show insecurity about penis size, like “male enhancement,” “male enhancement pills,” “Extenze,” “make penis bigger,” and “grow penis.”
And they found that the more Evangelicals that there are in a state, the more likely they were to search for these terms. “Male enhancement” was the term that had the strongest association with Evangelicals.
The researchers even controlled for confounding factors like marital status, age, political ideology, race, and education, and the relationship was still there.
“Despite assurances that character or Christian devotion matter in determining leadership arrangements, women, no matter how committed or gifted they are, are seldom permitted to serve as elders and would be discouraged from leading their families,” wrote authors Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma and Andrew L. Whitehead of Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.
“The most fundamental determinant of social status is neither character nor devotion, but the physical marker of God‐given masculine authority (the penis) and, nearly as important, the concomitant embodied performance of that masculine authority.”
Complementarianism shows up often in Evangelical opposition to LGBTQ equality, used as an argument for years against marriage equality and now against transgender rights.
The connection between gender roles and genitalia is often explicit in Evangelical communities. The authors cite James Dobson, one of the most prominent Christian conservative leaders of the 20th century and the founder of Focus on the Family and the hate group Family Research Council, who was also a trained child psychologist.
His books on child-rearing were focused on exerting parental power over children and pushing them into defined gender roles, saying in 2001 that God gave boys a “masculine will to power” but that liberal elites will make them “feminized, emasculated, and wimpified.” He exhorted fathers to instill masculinity in their boys while they’re young to prevent them from becoming gay.
A father “can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball,” one of Dobson’s newsletters once said. “He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.”
“Social scientists demonstrate that society‐wide conceptions of masculinity wrapped up in physical endowments can lead many men to feel chronically insecure, on a quest to constantly prove their worth as men to themselves and others,” wrote Perry and Whitehead.
While the researchers don’t know if it’s just cis men doing these Google searches, they said that if it’s women, then that “would provide additional support for the idea that such a subculture of phallocentric masculinity has so pervaded the region that even women feel the need to remedy their male partner’s or spouse’s perceived physical shortcomings.”
This research provides some hard data backing up the presupposition that Christianity’s obsession with rigid gender roles has real-life implications. It can be surmised that if such a religion were being created today it would be much more sensitive to the modern understanding of how gender expression is not intrinsically tied one’s inherited sex chromosomes. That is, it would be cognizant of the consistent prevalence of homosexuality and trans expression in humans. It can also be assumed that a religion formed two thousand years ago under the auspices of an omniscient god would have done the same.
(2974) Martin Luther’s war against reason
Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) was a German professor of theology who was the seminal figure in launching the Protestant Reformation, the forerunner of the mainline and evangelical wings of the non-Catholic Christian churches. It is telling to revisit one of his most ignominious quotes:
“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
What is remarkable about this quote is that it came during a time that reason was being (re)placed on a pedestal, during the birth pangs of the Renaissance, and as a departure from the benighted centuries of the Middle Ages. That is, just as reason was being extolled as the highest achievement of the human mind, this religious leader was trying to put it back into a state of disuse.
Luther’s quote, though, is correct in all aspects. Faith (in things that are untrue) withers under the microscope of reason which has always been the enemy of the church. But imagine if a contemporary religious leader were to make a similar statement today. It would be met with derision because reason is universally accepted as an effective tool for accessing the truth. This leaves the church having to juggle both faith and reason as factors supporting belief while conceding that they conflict in many important ways.
But the irony of this is: Why is reason the enemy of faith in Christianity? Reason and faith work fine together in most arenas, such as having faith in a weather forecast. But why does it not work in Christianity?- it’s because the infrastructure of Christianity cannot support the elements typically needed to apply reason. Its stories, doctrines, and creeds are too far detached from our observation of reality. Somehow, innately, we know that snakes don’t talk, people don’t turn to salt, seas don’t part, the earth doesn’t stop revolving, whales don’t run hotels, virgins don’t give birth, people don’t walk on water, and dead people don’t come back to life. Christianity didn’t need these outlandish accoutrements to establish its central core doctrine of a divine redemptive sacrifice. But it has to live with them now. This leaves faith, along with the deliberate suspension of reason, as the one and only means to access belief.
(2975) New Testament connection to Old Testament
When faced with the brutality of the Old Testament, many Christians attempt to rescue the New Testament as a quasi-stand-alone document. But there are too many tentacles tying the testaments together. The following lists five of them:
NT: Mark 12:26 – “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’
OT: Exodus 3:6 – I am the God of your father[a]—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
NT: Matthew 27:9 – This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver — the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel.. “
Hebrews 11:32 – And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets. How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.
afaik all these are OT occurrences
NT: Luke 4:9-10 – Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”
OT: Psalms 91:11-12 – For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
NT: James 4:6 – And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 – In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
OT: Proverbs 3:34 – The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.
Most Christians realize that much of the Old Testament presents a different and less favorable expression of God than the New Testament, and various hand-waving arguments have been floated to rationalize this disparity. But the problem becomes more pronounced when you look at the scriptural references above as well as others that tie the two testaments together. One interpretation of this fact is that there is no justification for discarding any part of the Old Testament, including those parts with no New Testament references. That is, connection to some of its parts is tantamount to connection to the whole thing.
(2976) God of metallurgy
There is evidence available to suggest that Yahweh was originally a god of metallurgy and his ascension to become the supreme god was tied to the transformation from the Bronze to the Iron Age. The use of iron was a major advantage in the conquests of the Hebrews and therefore Yahweh was seen as becoming more important within the pantheon of gods. The following was taken from:
According to scholar Nissim Amzallag, however, Yahweh was a god of metallurgy. Amzallag writes:
An essential link between Yahweh and copper is suggested in the Book of Zechariah where the dwelling of the God of Israel is symbolized by two mountains of copper (Zech. 6:1-6). In his prophecies, Ezekiel describes a divine being as `a man was there, whose appearance shone like copper’ (Ezek. 40:3), and in another part of this book, Yahweh is even explicitly mentioned as being a smelter (Ezek. 22:20). In Isaiah 54:16, Yahweh is explicitly mentioned as the creator of both the copperworker and his work…Such an involvement of Yahweh is never mentioned elsewhere for other crafts or human activities. (394)
Amzallag further notes the similarities between Yahweh and other gods of metallurgy:
The god of metallurgy generally appears as an outstanding deity. He is generally involved in the creation of the world and/or the creation of humans. The overwhelming importance of the god of metallurgy reflects the central role played by the copper smelters in the emergence of civilizations throughout the ancient world. (397)
Amzallag compares the attributes of the Egyptian Ptah and the Mesopotamian Ea/Enki along with Napir of Elam, all gods of metallurgy (among their other attributes) with Yahweh and finds striking similarities. He further claims that the name of the god of the Edomites, Qos, is an epithet for Yahweh and notes how the Edomites, a people closely associated with metallurgy, were the primary workers and administrators of the copper mines at Timna and, further, that Edom is never mentioned in the Bible as challenging Israel in the name of a foreign god; thus suggesting that the two peoples worshipped the same deity (390-392).
Although Amzallag’s theory has been challenged, it has not been refuted. Particularly compelling are his arguments from biblical passages and the archaeological evidence cited from the ruins of the mines of Timna.
Yahweh, according to Amzallag, was transformed from one god among many to the supreme deity by the Israelites in the Iron Age (c.1200-930 BCE) when iron replaced bronze and the copper smelters, whose craft was seen as a kind of transformative magic, lost their unique status. In this new age, the Israelites in Canaan sought to distance themselves from their neighbors in order to consolidate political and military strength and so elevated Yahweh above El as the supreme being and claimed him as their own. His association with the forge, and with imagery of fire, smoke, and smiting, worked as well in describing a god of storms and war and so Yahweh’s character changed from a deity of transformation to one of conquest. Miller and Hayes comment:
Perhaps the most noticeable characteristic of Yahweh in Israel’s early poetry and narrative literature is his militancy. The so-called “Song of the Sea” in Exodus 15:1-18 and the “Song of Deborah” in Judges 5 are typical in their praise of Yahweh, the divine warrior who could be counted on to intervene on behalf of his followers…Thus it may have been primarily in connection with Israel’s wars that Yahweh gained status as the national god. During times of peace, the tribes will have depended heavily on Baal in his various local forms to ensure fertility. But when they came together to wage war against their common enemies, they would have turned to Yahweh, the divine warrior who could provide victory. (112)
Yahweh-as-warrior is evident throughout the Hebrew scriptures which became the Christian Old Testament and warrior imagery is also apparent in passages in the New Testament which drew on the earlier works (ex: Ephesians 6:11, Philippians 2:25, II Timothy 2:3-4, I Corinthians 9:7, among others). By the time these works were written, the worship of Yahweh had undergone a dramatic transformation from what it had been in the early days of the Israelites in Canaan.
Thus, it appears likely that the worship of Yahweh by the Abrahamic religions is a quirk of history tied to the emergence of a new metallurgical industry that occurred around 1200 BCE. And all of this can be seen for what it is- a real, unique, and singular god would not ‘rise in the ranks’ like Yahweh, but would be fully established right from the start.
(2977) Intuitive problem solving
It is well established that atheists tend to score higher than religious people on standardized intelligent tests, but new research indicates that this observation is not due to actual differences in innate intelligence, but rather it is the result of a bias toward intuitive problem solving that has been inculcated through religious training. The following is a synopsis of this research:
It is well established that religiosity correlates inversely with intelligence. A prominent hypothesis states that this correlation reflects behavioral biases toward intuitive problem solving, which causes errors when intuition conflicts with reasoning. We tested predictions of this hypothesis by analyzing data from two large-scale Internet-cohort studies (combined N = 63,235). We report that atheists surpass religious individuals in terms of reasoning but not working-memory performance. The religiosity effect is robust across sociodemographic factors including age, education and country of origin. It varies significantly across religions and this co-occurs with substantial cross-group differences in religious dogmatism. Critically, the religiosity effect is strongest for tasks that explicitly manipulate conflict; more specifically, atheists outperform the most dogmatic religious group by a substantial margin (0.6 standard deviations) during a color-word conflict task but not during a challenging matrix-reasoning task. These results support the hypothesis that behavioral biases rather than impaired general intelligence underlie the religiosity effect.
What this tells us is that religious belief is propagated by religious training that early on predisposes people to think in intuitive rather than analytical ways. Thus manipulation of a child’s brain can, for example, result in that person as an adult accepting the concept of a world-wide flood, bypassing the analytical arguments against such an event. This doesn’t mean that this person is less intelligent, it is rather that his brain has been programmed to short circuit the critical thinking centers when it comes to religious matters. In this way, religion continues to be widely accepted despite an ocean of evidence contradicting its truth.
(2978) Failure of the free will argument
Apologists use the free will argument to explain why there is so much evil in the world, despite the presence of all-powerful god who, by definition, could prevent it. The following explains why this approach is not convincing:
Imagine a parallel universe almost identical to ours. It was created by a supreme being with aims identical to the ones believers say God has.
Humans have free will, as believers claim we have in this universe.
In this imaginary universe, however, the free will of evildoers is not superior to the free will of their victims, as it is in our universe. It is the same.
An individual may want to commit rape but the (potential) victim of that rape can freely will that they aren’t raped.
Hitler may want to freely will the death of millions in concentration camps but those millions can freely will that they don’t.
Unlike our universe the free will of psychopaths, the powerful and general dickheads is matched – free will to free will – by those they wish to exploit who don’t freely will being their victims but do freely will the opposite.
There is no murder, no rape, no crime, no exploitation, no atrocities or dictatorships and yet there is free will. Indeed, there is more of it.
Absolute, democratic, complete free will which we do not have in this universe, where some people’s free will is superior to others, impinging on and even eradicating the free will of others.
My debate stance is:
The defense of the problem of evil is free will but that defense ignores the free will of the victim.
Yes, an individual can freely will doing an evil thing but the victim of that evil thing has their free will negated.
The defense of the problem of evil being free will doesn’t work because it involves the removal of the free will of the victims.
If the free will of powerful, evil people trumps the free will of innocent, powerless people God has made an evil universe.
Explaining evil with the free will argument has always rested on a weak foundation, but when it is expanded to include the free will of the victims, it loses all remaining merit. If the Christian god exists, he is the author of evil.
(2979) Jesus sets lord-vassal theme
Jesus, or better yet, the person who wrote about Jesus, conveyed a common theme of the times- a master/slave dynamic where the slave offers devotion to the master above and beyond that afforded their family. Although readers at the time this was written would have considered it normal, contemporary people today view it as being disgusting. The trouble is best exemplified by this verse from the Gospel of Luke:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
The following was taken from:
“Discussions of Lk.14.26 within New Testament scholarship show how denial of Jesus’ ‘hate speech’ usually does not reckon fully with the nature of the linguistic evidence. Often these discussions reflect theological rationales that are being substituted for linguistic and historical ones…Although the text seems as clear an expression of literal hate as any text found anywhere, Christian apologists have attempted to erase or lessen its negative connotations.” (p. 51, The Bad Jesus)
Laypeople who come across Luke 14:26 may recoil in disbelief: “Well, Jesus couldn’t have meant that.” So too devout scholars have suggested that the text can’t be taken literally; they “…assume that ‘hate’ in that verse cannot be understood in its harshest sense and offer no detailed exegetical reasons why they believe so. As such, these scholars do not differ much from so-called fundamentalist Christians who also believe it is not literal.” (p. 53, The Bad Jesus) Avalos notes that The Good News Bible resorts to mistranslation to correct Jesus! “…it erases the word ‘hate’ altogether, and renders the verse as follows, ‘Whoever comes to me cannot be my disciple unless he loves me more than he loves his father and his mother, his wife and his children, his brothers, and his sisters, and himself as well.’”
This amount to punting to Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Anything, it would seem, to mute Jesus’ use of hate (miseo). However, we don’t know for sure if Matthew was trying to tone down Luke, or if Luke was trying to intensify Matthew—the dating of the gospels is uncertain.
Avalos is blunt:
“…it is implausible for the author of Luke to use a powerful word such as miseo, and then hope that someone would have read Matthew in order to explain what Luke meant. Rather, one would expect that Luke will use words that the audience will understand from the way that those words are used in the language of the reader. The Greek word miseo has as consistent and as strong a meaning as any word in the entire Greek lexicon. It does not vary or is not subject to as much flexibility as other words may be.” (p. 54, The Bad Jesus)
A giant portion of this chapter, The Hateful Jesus, is devoted to a detailed examination of the linguistic evidence showing that miseo does indeed mean hate in this troublesome verse: “There are no compelling linguistic or historical reasons to deny that the Greek word miseo in Lk. 14.26 means what it means everywhere else we encounter it in the Greek scriptures.” (p. 88, The Bad Jesus)
Please note that the subtitle of The Bad Jesus is The Ethics of New Testament Ethics, and this is what Avalos means:
“…New Testament scholars are still largely evading the ethical issues that are raised even if miseo means no more than the demand that followers of Jesus prefer him over their families. Those who deny that Jesus meant ‘hate’ in the most emotive and harshest sense do so because they think it would be unethical for Jesus to do such a thing. Yet, these same New Testament ethicists seem to have no problem accepting an ethical Jesus’ demand that followers bestow their total allegiance to him even in preference over their own families.” (p. 89, The Bad Jesus)
Indeed, we’re up against cult fanaticism. Even if laypeople and scholars alike cannot accept that Jesus could have said/meant hate in Luke 14:26—based, of course, on their devotion to Jesus as Lord—they still have to deal with Luke reporting that Jesus said this. Why would he do that? It seems clear that Luke was setting the guidelines for membership in the early Jesus cult. No matter the era, this is abhorrent, as Avalos points out:
“How would we judge a modern religious leader who said that we should prefer him over our families? Why would we not treat such a person as an egomaniacal cult leader who does what all cult leaders do: transfer allegiance from one’s family to him or her. In other words, that demand would be viewed as unethical in itself.” (p, 89, The Bad Jesus)
In Luke’s portrayal of Jesus,
“…Jesus was perpetuating a well-known tradition of leadership that was ultimately based on ancient Near Eastern master-servant and lord-vassal relationships, which demanded that the lord receive the total allegiance of any subordinates even at the expense of their own lives and families.
(2980) Failure to define the unforgivable sin
Biblical authors deployed a psychological trap for Christians by establishing the eternity of heaven/hell combined with an ill-defined ‘unforgivable’ sin (called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit). The implication is that anyone who commits this sin is automatically bound for hell no matter what they do for the remainder of their lives. The particulars of this sin are so murky that no one can be sure they have not committed it. The following was taken from:
The blasphemy against the HS is mentioned in three gospels, in the context when Pharisees accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus told them that blaspheming against the Son of Man is forgivable, but the blasphemy against the HS is not. Today’s Christians have quite different interpretations regarding the unforgivable sin. Some say it’s rejecting the repentance, others say it’s attributing Jesus a demonic power instead of from god, and yet others will say you can’t commit it today – it could be committed only when Jesus was ‘walking on Earth’. But isn’t blasphemy supposed to mean speaking nasty things about god? It the blasphemy against the HS is to be understood literally, then God is not infinitely merciful. If it’s to be understood non-literally, then why Jesus didn’t explain it clearly? The lack of explanation from Jesus has led many people to mental health problems, including me. If Jesus was god, he would know about it and if he was merciful, then he would clearly explain the unforgivable sin, so people like me wouldn’t have to worry that they’ve committed this sin and are beyond god’s mercy!
The failure to better define the so-called unforgivable sin has caused a great amount of consternation among Christians. The very concept of a sin being unforgivable is also inconsistent with the overarching Christian theme of Jesus’ sacrificial atonement. But failing to accurately define the term and thereby leaving people wondering whether or not they are doomed is not indicative of a religious text organized by a supreme being.
(2981) Ten Commandments and slavery
Christians routinely extol the Ten Commandments while opposing slavery. But the Ten Commandments and instructions for the support of slavery both exist in the Bible, an in fact, in the same book (Exodus). The question is whether this ‘textual surgical dissection’ is justified. The following was taken from:
Christians love to claim that the 10 Commandments are what created morality and kept civilization prosperous. They simultaneously ignore the horrible pro slavery verses in the same books of the Bible (Exodus and Leviticus) claiming they don’t “apply anymore”. You can’t just cherry pick what verses you are comfortable with. Either the whole book is relevant today or none of it is. Who makes Christians the arbiters of what is relevant and what isn’t? If we can ignore the pro slavery verses of the Old Testament then it follows that the Ten Commandments should be ignored in the same fashion as they are literally written in the same book.
You can’t claim that your Bible has been foundational for morality while also not taking credit for having rules on how to properly beat slaves (Exodus 21:20-21). I would love to see Christians actually read the entire book of Exodus and Leviticus. Too bad we just see people cherry pick its verses to fit the Christian narrative. Anytime the Ten Commandments are brought up we should also be talking about how the Bible encourages slavery. That’s totally fair. Or we can just ignore them as both the 10 Commandments and the pro slavery verses don’t matter in the 21st Century.
Imagine that you read a book about how to manage your pets. You are happy to see that it has many good recommendations about playing with, grooming, and supporting the health of your dog. But you notice that when it comes to cats the book recommends beating them daily to get them in line. After reading this awful advice about cats, would you still consider the advice about the dogs to be relevant? No, you would likely dismiss the entire book. Likewise, Christians should dismiss the Book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments included.
(2982) Fighting against the Bible’s irrelevancy
Modern Bible scholars are facing a difficult task- to keep the Bible relevant in a world that is totally foreign to the one in which it originated. As the years go by, the task becomes harder as we are learning more about the structure and origin of the cosmos, the evolution of life, the societal trend to accept homosexuality and women’ equality, and discoveries related to the Bible’s development. This challenge is daunting. The following was taken from:
“…maintaining the value of the Bible.” That’s the primary agenda. Most Christian Bible scholars were religiously motivated to enter this career, and it is hard to escape religious bias. Upholding Jesus is of paramount value, which is hard to do if the Bible itself is devalued. But Bible scholars have learned too much, as Avalos has pointed out:
“Modern biblical scholarship has demonstrated that the Bible is the product of cultures whose values and beliefs about the origin, nature, and purpose of our world are no longer held to be relevant, even by most Christians and Jews.
“…we have indeed discovered much new information about the Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the enormous archaeological treasures found in the ancient Near East in the last one hundred fifty years or so have set the Bible more firmly in its original cultural context. However, it is those very discoveries that show that the Bible is irrelevant, insofar as it is part of a world radically dissimilar to ours in its conception of the cosmos, the supernatural, and the human sense of morality.” (pp. 16-17, The End of Biblical Studies)
“…the Bible is irrelevant…” Even Christians themselves, unwittingly—and without daring to say so out loud—acknowledge that the Bible is irrelevant, as Avalos points out:
“Indeed, if we went verse by verse, Christians are probably not reading or applying some 95 percent of all the verses in the Bible. Of course, what they do apply may be of great consequence, but it remains the case that Christians are using or applying only a fraction of the Bible, and probably would not miss major portions if they were removed.” (p. 320, The End of Biblical Studies)
Civilization is changing while the Bible remains static. Inevitably a book written long ago will become less relevant with time. In fact, the only way this could be avoided is if the book was inspired by a supernatural being who knew ahead of time how things would change. The Bible does not meet that qualification.
(2983) Not believing is not a crime
Christianity promotes the idea that not believing in God or Jesus is the greatest crime that a person can commit, and indeed one that results in the worst possible punishment imaginable. This is total nonsense, as discussed below:
This is something that has NEVER made any sense to me about religion. This idea that simply not believing in god is a crime/sin. That you could be just minding your own damn business, not harming anyone or anything in any way whatsoever, but because you happen to not believe in this one very specific thing, you now deserve to be punished in some way.
My problem isn’t even with the infinity of the punishment. A lot of atheists have asked something along the lines of: “How can you justify an infinite punishment for a finite crime? ” I think this is a perfectly valid question, but I wanna ask a slightly different one:
How can you justify ANY punishment for a non-crime?
Even if the punishment is just a single slap on the wrist. Why would you slap me on the wrist? I haven’t committed a crime.
When I stopped believing in god, I didn’t kill anyone, I didn’t steal from anyone, I didn’t hurt anyone or anything in any way whatsoever. I didn’t do anything wrong. Literally the only thing that I did was change my opinion. How in the hell is that a crime/sin?
Here, I’ll turn it into a syllogism.
Premise 1: God exists.
Premise 2: Bob doesn’t believe that god exists.
Premise 3: ???
Conclusion: Bob deserves to be punished.
What would you put into premise 3 in order to make this argument sound and coherent?
Now, this question applies to every religion which has nonbelievers going to hell or an equivalent to hell. But I already know that Christians have an answer to this.
Christians believe that everyone in the world is guilty and deserving of eternal punishment. Some believe that we’re guilty of some inherited sin, while others believe that we’re all guilty of our own individual sins. Either way, we’re all guilty, none of us live up to God’s standard and we all deserve to go to hell. But, if we repent, accept Jesus Christ as our lord and savior, believe in him and accept him into our hearts, then all our sins will be forgiven and we will be allowed to enter into the kingdom of heaven. So atheists don’t actually go to hell for not believing. They go to hell because of all their other sins.
(I don’t know how many Christians believe this exact way. I don’t know if it’s all of you, most of you, some of you or whatever. And if I ended up misrepresenting your beliefs, I’m sorry it’s not on purpose. I know you’ll correct me in the comments if I did)
Here’s my problem with this. Even if I accept this idea that we are ALL guilty (which I don’t), it still doesn’t fix the problem, it just reverses it.
If you’re an evil, degenerate peace of shit, who has done everything in his power to make the lives of everyone and everything around him worse, then why would you be forgiven just because you believe in something? What’s the logic here?
The way I see it, if you’re guilty, then you’re fucking guilty. You don’t get to go free just because you’re friends with the judge. You don’t get to go free because the judge decided to send his own son to jail instead of you. That’s not how justice works.
And another problem. It’s impossible for me to believe in God. I’m not being stubborn, I’m not actively rejecting him. I just really can’t do it. I can’t make myself believe. It’s like trying to force myself to believe that the sky is green. So from my perspective, God has set up a system in which it’s impossible for me and many other people to be saved. That doesn’t seem very just to me.
The concept that an almighty deity will torture you because you failed to detect its existence despite providing insufficient evidence of such is absurd. But this reflects the core dogma of Christianity, and it shines a light on the fact that Christianity is false beyond a reasonable doubt.
(2984) Nocturnal emissions
When something ridiculous appears in your holy book, can it be dismissed without damaging the credibility of the entirety? The following reference to nocturnal emissions (ejaculation while sleeping) tests that hypothesis:
Deuteronomy 23: 9-11
When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure. If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.
The question is not so much whether such a natural biological event such as this makes a person unclean, rather it is why in the world would a god be concerned about it? This should be seen as a human attempt to put words in God’s mouth to register a remedy for a superstitious belief. There are hundreds of analogous examples, mostly in the Old Testament, where human ignorance, irrationality, fear, and uneasiness shine through in the near certain absence of divine inspiration.
(2985) God and totalitarianism
There are many parallels between the Abrahamic faiths and totalitarian civilian governments. As much as society has largely come to dismiss this type of governing as being unfavorable, it casts a shadow over the righteousness of these religions. The following was taken from:
Thesis: There are similarities between theistic religions, especially some of the Abrahamic religions, which seem to resemble certain features of totalitarian regimes. This should make us consider that theistic religions have certain immoral elements.
Totalitarianism is often defined as an authoritarian regime which not only seeks to control many aspects of public life, but also the private life of the citizen. Totalitarian regimes want to control the mindset of their citizens, and they even want to control their beliefs and thoughts. This idea has been explored a lot in George Orwell’s book 1984. In his book, the Party of Ingsoc surveils everyone pretty much all day. If you go against the Party, you get caught by the Thought Police because of “Thought Crimes”.
While I’m not aware of any regime which has reached Orwell’s 1984 level of totalitarianism, we have reached very scary heights just in the last century.
Fascist Italy with Mussolini is one such example of totalitarianism. Mussonlini used a secret police called OVRA to catch dissidents. He also set up youth groups to brainwash children by filling them with propaganda.
Nazi Germany is said to have even more totalitarian control than that of Fascist Italy. As you know, Hitler made the Hitler Youth group to brainwash children, and he was able to throw six million Jews into concentration camps to kill them on large scales and to use them for slave labor. He also put in people of other minorities such as Eastern Europeans, homosexuals, etc. And the German citizens of the time knew this was happening. And they remained complicit.
Stalin used a secret police, the KGB, to sniff out potential dissidents. In the Great Purge, millions of people died and were sent to the gulags.
There are other examples such as Kim-Il-Sung’s North Korea, which in my opinion is the most totalitarian on this list. There’s also Pinochet of Chile if you want to know a more capitalistic totalitarian regime. But anyways, here’s the point. Here are some similarities which most totalitarian regimes share.
– Attempting to control people’s private lives, beliefs, and thoughts
– Creating a narrative of “us vs. them”
– Using coercion
– Dissedents get punished severely
– Mass propaganda
– Mass Surveillance
There’s probably more, but these are some important elements, and I wanted compare God to that of totalitarian regimes.
God and Totalitarianism
Let’s look at some of the criteria I provided to see if God matches the description of totalitarian rulers.
Attempting to control people’s private lives, beliefs, and thoughts
Does the Christian and Muslim God meet this criteria? Well, let’s find out. Let’s look at what Jesus has to say regarding adultery. Matthew 5:27-28- You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
This seems like God is trying to control the very thoughts of people, but we have little no control over our thoughts. He’s charging us with a ‘Thought Crime’. Let’s look at another verse. Are we allowed to doubt that Jesus is our savior and that God exists? Proverbs 3:5-8- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
While it doesn’t seem to be explicitly condemning doubt, it seems like it’s at least heavily discouraging it, and it seems like it’s encouraging you to throw away your own intuitions, which seems to be a feature of totalitarianism. In 1984, there is something called doublethink. The Party basically requires you to believe two contradictory things so that you don’t get in trouble. While this verse isn’t necessarily asking you to become a dialetheist, it is asking you to basically throw away your own intuitions.
Now let’s look at Islam. Quran 49:15- “The believers are those who believe in God and His Messenger, then have not doubted, and have struggled with their possessions and their selves in the way of God; those — they are the truthful ones.”
Again, while it’s not explicitly condemning doubt, it does seem to discouraging doubt by giving praise to those who don’t doubt at all. The Quran seems to want people to not doubt. Totalitarian regimes discourage people from doubting their actions, and they often praise those who are capable of not having doubt.
So, it seems like both Christianity and Islam meet the first category of totalitarianism.
Creating a narrative of us vs. them
I think that in Christianity, this is somewhat obvious. The Bible tries to show that the devil and other demons are plaguing humanity and make them worse. The Bible tries to portray the serpent as the bad guy in Genesis. James 4:7- Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Totalitarian regimes want their citizens to obey them, and they often try to promise their citizens that when they obey them, they’ll avoid the enemy. The Nazis probably told the German citizens to obey them so that they could get rid of the Jews or something like that. Authoritarian and totalitarian socialist regimes probably asked their citizens to obey them so that they could avoid the evil capitalists and fascists.
Let’s look at Islam. Islam also speaks of an enemy like the devil. Quran 2:208 – O you who believe, you shall embrace total submission; do not follow the steps of Satan, for he is your most ardent enemy.
It seems that Islam also has some features of totalitarianism. So it seems as if both religions meet the second criteria for totalitarianism.
I think that Christianity and Islam easily fit the criteria for coercion. Both the Bible and the Quran speak of how non-believers go to hell. Sometimes, they even mention that sinners and non-believers go to hell for eternity.
Revelation 21:8- But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Mark 9:43-48 – And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
There are many other verses mentioning hell in the New Testament. Now let’s see what Islam has to say on hell. Quran 50:24-25 – “[ Allah will say], “Throw into Hell every obstinate disbeliever, preventer of good, aggressor, and doubter”
It seems like these verses clearly show that both Islam and Christianity use coercion against people who don’t believe. However, people who do believe will get a reward. The Nazis used coercion against citizens and businesses. If capitalists and businesses didn’t comply, force would be used against them. If parents didn’t comply with the Nazis in order for their kids to be sent to the Hitler Youth, they could get arrested or worse. Oh, but don’t worry guys!!! You’ll get to experience the glory of the Nazi regime and your kids will come back a much better person because they went to the Hitler Youth. You’re so kind!!!
Dissidents get severely punished
This seems obvious from the verses given for the last criteria. Non-believers get thrown in hell. So it seems like both Christianity and Islam meets the criteria of dissidents and dissenters getting severely punished.
It seems like both the Bible and the Quran are ways in which God sends his propaganda. There are thousands of verses in the Bible and the Quran which constantly speak of how good God is and how powerful he is. In both religious texts, it also speaks of how their particular God and religion is unique where as other religions are bad and not unique. Totalitarian regimes often speak of how their country is better than other countries. North Korea probably lies to its citizens of how their country is supposedly better than other countries and how they’re experiencing a better quality of life when in reality, this is not true. So, it seems like both religions meet this fifth criteria for totalitarianism.
I think this naturally follows from God being omniscient. Both Christianity and Islam also seem to claim that there are angels, which can serve as extra surveillance and perhaps even like a thought police or a secret police.
It seems as though that both the description of the Christian and Muslim God match that of a totalitarian dictator. I think that this can lead to some dire consequences for these two religions.
1) Both Christianity and Islam claim that their God is a perfect moral authority.
2) Totalitarianism is always wrong.
3) Both Christianity and Islam have a conception of God which matches that of a totalitarian dictator.
4) So, the God of Christianity and Islam are morally flawed.
5) So, this lowers the probability of both religions dramatically.
1) Both religions claim that Yaweh/Allah are omnibenevolent, so I don’t really think this is too controversial.
2) Again, this seems pretty obvious. Just think of any other scenario in which someone or something tries to take control of people, and you’ll see that the level of control which this person or thing has is just wrong.
3) This is motivated by both Christianity and Islam matching the criteria which I listed.
4) This follows from the other three premises.
5) If one of the central claims of a particular ideology or religion is wrong, I think it naturally follows that the probability of that particular ideology or religion being true lowers a lot. It may even prove that it’s a false ideology or religion.
It is very likely that a real god would transcend the poor products of human endeavors and display a more enlightened approach to its ‘governance’ of human souls. The fact that Christianity follows the ‘lower path’ is evidence of its untruth.
(2986) Christians don’t celebrate holidays Jesus celebrated
It is revealing to note that Christians do not celebrate holidays related to the Jewish religion while at the same time conceding that their faith is firmly and irrevocably based on a foundation of Jewish history. It is ironic that the holidays that Jesus celebrated (Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover, and Shavuot) are not celebrated by his followers.
Many of these holidays are based on events documented in the Old Testament which Christians continue to hold as valid scripture, even if they also believe that some elements no longer pertain to them. But notably, the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur correspond to the 40-day period Moses was on the mountain receiving the second set of Ten Commandment tablets. Passover refers to the exodus of Jews from Egypt. These stories remain relevant to Christian theology.
Jewish holidays were largely discarded by early in the Second Century, and it appears that this was motivated by a desire to distinguish Christianity from its Jewish roots. But this decision also eroded its connection to its foundational theology. And there is no greater foundation for Christianity than Jesus Christ, who, if he was real and come back to life, would be mortified to see that a religion based on his life no longer celebrated the holidays that were dear to his heart.
(2987) Christianity and the BITE model
Steven Hassan developed the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control. It lists attributes of control that are endemic to what is colloquially termed ‘cults’ that work to enslave human capital for some end goal. The model lists elements of behavior, information, thought, and emotion that are used by the cult leaders to maintain control over their flock. Here is further information about this model:
Christianity hits nearly every one of the elements of this model and thus should be classified as a cult. The following was taken from:
Behavior Control: Promote dependence and obedience, modify behavior with rewards/punishment, restrict/control sexuality, control clothing/hairstyle, financial exploitation, restrict leisure time.
Information Control: Withholding/distorting information, discourage discussion with atheists or ex-Christians, discourage access to non-Christian information, divide information to insider vs outsider doctrine, generate and use propaganda excessively, gaslighting.
Thought Control: Instill black vs white thinking, use loaded language to stop complex thought, teach thought stopping techniques to prevent rational thought, allow only positive thoughts about subject matter, use excessive prayer and singing to block thought, reject rational thinking, induce hypnotic/trance states to indoctrinate.
Emotional Control: Instill irrational fear to prevent questioning, label some emotions as sinful or wrong, promote feelings of shame/unworthiness, showering with affection, shun you if you disbelieve, teach there is no happiness or peace outside of Christianity.
As you can see, Christianity fills out every mark of the BITE model in multiple ways, making it a definite cult. However, because it is seen as nice and loving, it has the special ability Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and masks its identity to those who are in it or have no prior experience with it.
Taking an assumption that a true relationship between humans and a god would necessarily not involve cultish control features, with the fact that Christianity displays nearly every element of the BITE model, renders a conclusion that it is, by definition, a cult, and thereby likely to be a strictly human creation.
When descriptions of God become so entangled with internal contradictions, the often-used default is to just say that God is the entire universe. This is the definition of pantheism. But as argued below, this idea of God is indistinguishable from a secular view of the cosmos:
I think we can all agree that for it to be true that a thing exists, that thing must have properties, examples include that humans exist, and have the property of being mammals, cars exist, and have the property of having wheels, red exists, and has the property of being photons at a certain frequency. Obviously, if we want to claim a thing exists, we need to be able to say something about what that thing is, what properties it possesses.
Secondly, a thing is the totality of its properties, and nothing more. An electron has the properties of an electric charge of -1e, a spin of 1/2, an interaction with the force of electromagnetism, an existence in a universe with 3 spatial dimensions and 1 time, and so on. There’s nothing about an electron’s existence that isn’t a property of the electron. This is commonly known as the identity of an object. The identity of a person, for example, is the totality of their properties (their name, location, mass, etc), anything that can be said to be true of a person’s existence, is a property of that person’s identity.
We can then reason that when we ask whether a thing exists, we are asking whether a thing with the properties of that thing’s identity exists. As an example, to answer the question of “does water exist?” we can think about what the properties of water’s identity are, these properties are: the possession of two hydrogen atoms, the possession of one oxygen atom, the act of having the two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to the oxygen atom. Through experiment we can then find objects which possess these properties, and come to the conclusion that water exists.
To answer the question of whether (a monotheistic) God exists then, we must determine what the properties of God are. Putting aside specific claims from specific religions about what their God has done (such as fathering Jesus, or talking to Mohammed), the core principle properties that are typically attributed to God’s identity are:
- Omnipotence, having total power over what happens in the universe.
- Omniscience, possessing all knowledge of the universe, or more clearly, possessing all information in/about the universe.
- Omnipresence, being present everywhere in the universe.
- Omnibenevolence, being all good, or having unlimited potential for goodness.
- Incorporeality, or immateriality, not being physical matter, or more accurately, not being only physical matter, as God is also manifested in physical things.
- Eternal existence, existing for the totality of all time.
- Being the creator of the universe.
- Necessary existence, the reason that he exists is because he exists, related is being his own creator.
Now let’s consider another “thing”, that is: a natural physical universe, with no God, and the laws that dictate its behavior. What properties does this thing possess?
- The natural physical universe, and its laws, have total power and control over what happens in this universe.
- The natural physical universe possesses the totality of all information in the universe, there’s no information about this universe which exists outside of it.
- The natural physical universe is present everywhere in the universe, as are the laws of physics, there’s nowhere where the laws of physics stop existing.
- Omnibenevolence is complicated, the idea of God being wholly good is challenged by the fact that we can almost all acknowledge that bad things happen, but as we all have wildly varying ideas of what is good and what is bad, both theists and atheists are equally capable of justifying anything that happens as being “part of the greater good”. A better metric is that of infinite potential for good, I think we all agree the existence of life is a requisite for goodness. And as the natural physical universe, and the emergence and evolution of life on Earth suggest, life can spontaneously emerge at any time, meaning across the entire universe, there is an infinite potential for good (the existence of life).
- Incorporeality, while physical matter is not incorporeal, the laws that dictate its behaviour are, there is no physical location or mass of the existence of electromagnetic force. And furthermore, the properties of each individual particle (the possession of spin, charge, velocity), are incorporeal.
- Eternal existence, following the idea that time itself didn’t exist before the Big Bang, it reasons that our universe has existed for the entirety of time, and following the cyclic modelit’s entirely possible that it will continue to exist for the whole of time.
- The natural physical universe and its laws can be said to be the creator of the universe and its laws. While this may at first seem a contradiction, this is actually fulfilling the property of:
- Necessary existence, the reason the universe exists is because it exists. The natural universe and its laws are why the universe and its laws exist. I also can’t imagine how something other than the natural universe could possibly be both the creator of the universe and its own creator.
It therefore follows that the properties that make up the identity of God are the same properties that make up the identity of the (typically “Godless”) physical universe and its laws. Concluding from this, one can say that God does exist, because God simply is the universe, and nothing more or less. This argument and belief is commonly known as Pantheism.
(2989) The debunking fallacy
Christians often attempt to defend their faith by pointing out the fallacies of competing religions. This strategy would work if you are defending something in a field of finite possibilities, such as claiming Mercedes to be the best automobile manufacturer by pointing out the problems with other auto companies. If you are successful in doing so, then you have increased the probability of Mercedes being the best. But when it comes to religions, this doesn’t work. There are an infinite number of possible explanations for a god or gods and eliminating some does nothing to improve the likelihood of your favorite. The following was taken from:
Imagine climbers discover a truck on the summit of Mount Everest. We all acknowledge the extreme unlikelihood of such a state of affairs. There are few coherent materialistic explanations for this discovery, and all of them are highly improbable. However, what if Superman placed the truck on the mountain? Sure, many do not believe in the existence of Superman, but there is nothing logically incoherent about Superman dropping a truck on the summit of Mount Everest if he so desired. And Superman is unquestionably cool. So let’s go with that explanation. However, Superman is not the only theory out there. Those who believe in flying vampires offer an alternative explanation. They assert vampires have dropped the truck on the summit. You are not sure how to respond…until it is discovered that the cargo of the truck was garlic. We all know that vampires can’t stand garlic, so the vampire theory is self-defeating. It fails under its own assumptions. And now, since a competing theory has been removed from the table of proposed explanations, our logically coherent Superman explanation becomes more probable. Right?
If religion X is demonstrated to be false, this does not increase the probability Christianity is true, in spite of claims to the contrary by Christian leaders.
Many Christian leaders today are focused, not on presenting the Christian Gospel, but instead on debunking various competing theories of reality. For each of these competing theories they claim to have debunked, they follow up by suggesting that the debunking has made Christianity more probable. Does this make sense?
Let’s consider how many possible logically coherent theories there are that are impossible to test. Just as anyone can invent another superhero or mythical creature such as Superman and vampires who are, with their special powers, able to escape the scrutiny of science, anyone can invent yet another logically coherent but inscrutable God and an accompanying theology. That makes the number of possible Gods infinite. And that means, when you demonstrate another God to be incoherent, it does nothing to make your own God more probable. No proposed theory in the intrinsically infinite set of untestable proposed theories becomes more probable when you eliminate a competing proposed theory.
Yet, this appears to be a major tactic of many Christian leaders today. They are perhaps betting on the notion that most Christians will not question their suggestion that Christianity becomes more probable the more competing ideologies they debunk.
This method of defending Christianity fails because there are an infinite number of possible gods that might have created the universe, almost all of which are not known. Debunk one, and anyone can think of another one. Christianity must prove its truth by showing direct evidence of its claims and not rely on uncovering the untruths associated with other religions. To date, it has failed to do so.
(2990) Christianity deceptively usurps the benefit of fiction
Fiction has the benefit of not needing to support its claims, they simply stand as is. Christianity, while crediting itself as being non-fiction nevertheless anchors much of its dogma by deceptively usurping the advantages of fiction- that is, using unsupported claims to substantiate other claims, similar to saying the Bible is true because it says it is. The following was taken from:
Suppose for a moment there is a cliff high above us and atop it is a statue. This statue is far too heavy for even a group of people to lift. We have no idea how it got up there. It’s a mystery.
The theist among us claims that it was a skyhook that brought the statue to where it is. When we ask “What is a skyhook?” we’re effectively told of a phenomenon that solves all the gaps in our understanding. “It’s a hook that floats in the sky and lifts things. What? No. No it’s not ‘anchored’ to anything. Then it wouldn’t be a skyhook!”
When we point out that this skyhook both defies our understanding of reality, our skyhook-ist simply tells us, “But the skyhook hangs in the sky. That’s what it does! It’s not subject to normal physics.” This sounds great until we give it a moment’s thought and realize the following is true:
1) Insisting that any phenomenon is exempt from the laws of reality as we know them is, itself, a claim that needs to be supported with evidence.
2) That evidence cannot be another unsupported claim that’s worded as a definition. “The skyhook can hang in the sky because it defies physics” is something that the speaker needs to support with evidence. So is, “god exists outside reality” (or all the myriad claims that theists employ when talking about god including but not limited to “He’s outside our understanding”, etc.) To be sure, unsupported claims cannot lend credence to other unsupported claims.
3) The only magisterium in which this sort of thinking is acceptable is within the realm of fiction. In fiction we routinely suspend disbelief. In doing so we give a free pass to claims that we otherwise wouldn’t. In fiction, we can accept skyhooks just as we can accept claims like “Thor can lift his hammer because he’s Thor/worthy”. Theists often will attempt to reap the benefits of fiction. They do this by using “reasoning” that should only be accepted in the realm of the fictitious yet insisting their claims are instantiated outside of fiction. Yet there’s never any evidence provided; just more unsupported claims.
4) Thus one cannot support any part of the claim “A skyhook exists” by insisting “The skyhook isn’t subject to the laws of reality”. Not until the claim “The skyhook isn’t subject to the laws of reality” is supported with evidence. Wording the claim as a definition of a skyhook is fine only in the realm of fiction. Likewise, saying things like “God exists outside of reality” or “god has the ability to start time” or any of the myriad claims theists make have to be supported. They cannot simply be tossed out as definitions and considered “proven”. They require support.
THESIS FOR DEBATE: Claiming “an intelligent god exists and created the universe” necessarily has Christians attempting to reap the benefits of fiction by attempting to support unproven claims with more unproven claims.
(2991) Miracle claims inconsistent with Christian god
If for the moment we assume that the miracles claimed by Christians have actually occurred, would this provide good evidence for the god that they worship? This question is analyzed in the following:
Imagine you meet an extremely powerful wizard who claims to be able to perform amazing miracles. Imagine he promises to take care of you if you accept him as a true wizard. You do. Now imagine becoming extremely sick. The doctors give you less than a 1% chance of survival. Yet you survive! The doctors have absolutely no explanation for your survival. You go to your wizard friend and thank him for his magical intervention. The days pass, and wizard seems to be magically healing others on the verge of death in your hospital.
But you note a curious fact. Whenever there is an amputation at the hospital, the wizard is nowhere to be found. You politely ask him about this. He tells you that he could, of course, heal amputations just as easily as life-threatening diseases, but he simply chooses not to in his wizardly wisdom. You don’t want to doubt his magic, but something seems off, especially when you hear stories of others who have inexplicably survived life-threatening diseases in other hospitals, and who claim that a different wizard healed them. Your own wizard assures you he is the only real wizard. You note something else. The statistical distribution of survivors is identical for those who claim to have a personal relationship with the wizard, and those who don’t. At this point, is it wise to suspect that your friend may not actually be a wizard? What if the magic works only if you believe it works?
The following are miracle claims that are seldom made, and if made, are safely insulated from scientific scrutiny:
- A human rising from the dead after a year in the ground.
- An animal speaking in coherent dialogue with humans.
- A human spontaneously growing a new limb.
- An astronomical object inexplicably stopping or changing directions.
An actual Creator of the universe could do any of these, yet we find the biblical Creator clumping his current miracles around the suspiciously less impressive fringes of physical possibility and statistical probabilities.
You could claim the God of the Bible has an unknown reason for making his miracles clump suspiciously around what is physically and probabilistically probable. However, without introducing a coherent reason, you have a God performing miracles in a way suspiciously similar to those who would mendaciously reframe mere physical improbabilities as miracles.
One worthwhile exercise is to take your list of miracle claims, plus the standards of evidence you have used to filter out false miracle claims, and to examine the miracle claims of another religion. If your standards of evidence remain constant in that comparison, you are likely to discover either that 1) the miracle claims of other religions are just as credible as your own, or that 2) your standards of evidence are less than adequate.
When zooming in on those standards of evidence through which you filter miracle claims, you might consider the following questions:
- What is the general likelihood that humans might lie about what they say they saw? What is the general likelihood that the desire for a miracle is so intense among those of deep faith that they can no longer distinguish between what is real and what they have imagined?
- Does your filter include an educated understanding of probabilities? Accurately assessing complex probabilities is quite difficult.
- To what degree are human accounts of events distorted by peer pressure and other psychological motivations?
- What tools of science are necessary to adequately assess the miracle claim?
- Are the sources of the claims granted unearned credibility that exceeds what would be given other sources?
- Have you overlooked any other relevant cognitive biases and logical fallacies?
As can be seen Christians over-promise and under-deliver on their claim of an omnipotent god who listens to and answers prayers and who is capable of performing unlimited miracles. Most of the miracle claims are easily debunked and the few that survive that level of scrutiny are dubious at best. But even if this skepticism is set aside, it is easy to see that there is a major gap between their god’s alleged power and what ‘he’ actually delivers. It would be like bragging about a strong bodybuilder and then asking you to be impressed when he lifts a 50-pound weight.
(2992) Testing god claims
Christians and believers in other faiths are often discouraged from researching their religion, asking difficult questions, and especially from taking any actions to ‘test’ their faith. All of this suggests that these religions do not have the facts on their side and are trying to retain their followers though devious means. Testing god claims is what a rational person should do. The following was taken from:
Imagine Cindy marries Roy because Roy claims to be a king. Cindy believed Roy without first assessing whether his character and actions reflected the character and actions we would expect of a king. Wouldn’t we think that a bit strange? Would it not be more normal and wise for Cindy to explore Roy’s claim before committing her life to Roy? Now imagine Cindy had attempted to scrutinize the character of Roy, but Roy had stopped her, claiming that testing him in such a way was forbidden. Roy suggests that, if his actions seem inappropriate, it is only because “his ways are not her ways”, and that she will not be able to comprehend the mysteriousness of his behavior with her less than-royal intellect. Would not Roy’s prohibition against scrutiny into his character suggest that he was not actually a king?
What if a proposed God did likewise and forbade that we test and scrutinize him before committing our lives to him? Is this something we should expect of an actual God? Imagine that believers in an alleged king or God look aghast at your doubt, and protest “How dare you question the legitimacy of our king/God? You don’t have the intellect of our king/God to assess whether he is actually a king/God!” How would you respond?
Our responsibility as rational humans is to diligently examine all available confirming and disconfirming evidence prior to a commitment of belief. This assessment is first. No evidence is off-limits. Only after assessing all of the evidence can we then assign a degree of belief. If any ideology forbids or discourages the asking of relevant questions prior to belief, that ideology can legitimately be dismissed as likely false since we have good reason to believe that any true ideology will not discourage such testing of its claims.
So, how dare we question the claims of an alleged God? We dare do so as honest seekers who will not neglect our responsibility as honest seekers to test every claim. We dare not, in fact, leave God-claims unquestioned. For every candidate God, we have a duty to compare what we would expect of an actual God against the attributes and acts ascribed to that candidate God. Do we, for example, expect a God competent enough to create the universe, to be so emotionally incontinent that he demands child sacrifice when he is offended? If not, we can safely dismiss that God as 2 improbable. Is a particular God said to be loving, yet stands by while those he claims to love are harmed? If so, we can reject that God as incoherently ungodlike. We don’t accept the claim that God is inscrutable and too “mysterious” for humans to comprehend. We instead ask every relevant question first, and only then adopt an appropriate degree of belief based on that full assessment.
Wouldn’t weighing every candidate God against what we ought to expect from an actual God be rational? Wouldn’t failing to do so be irrational?
One way we can test the Christian faith is to analyze the success or failure of prayers from a statistical perspective. These studies have consistently shown that prayers have no tangible effect. But religious leaders dismiss these results and simply point to the adage ‘you should not test the Lord, your God.’ No, testing a hypothesis, especially one that contains miraculous elements, is exactly what any sane person should do.
(2993) Case for no salvation
The Bible puts out all sorts of contradictory messages, so it is no surprise that you can cite the Bible to prove that nobody, Christians included, will be saved in the end. All will go to hell. The following was taken from:
All Christians sin. We know this in part because we can see evidence of Christians committing sins; even if we restrict ourselves just to sins outlined in the Ten Commandments, there’s abundant evidence that Christians bear false witness, fail to observe the Sabbath, commit adultery, and so on.
Furthermore, Christians are upfront that they are sinners, that they fail to actually uphold God’s laws (all the while of course generally asserting that they are somehow more “moral” than non-Christians). But Christian dogma generally says that’s ultimately not a problem; as long as you are saved and remorseful — and perform penance in some Christian sects — for the sins you commit, your salvation is assured.
The problem is that this dogma is directly refuted in at least two places by the NT. The first is in 1 John, who uses the term “born of God” to describe people who have accepted Christ:
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” — 1 John 5:1
The author then explains that anyone who has accepted Christ will no longer sin in this world, despite being tempted to sin by the Devil:
“All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” — 1 John 5:18
And in case there’s any ambiguity, the author provides an even more direct correlation between genuine acceptance of Jesus leading to sinlessness:
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister” — 1 John 3:8-10
The author makes abundantly clear that we can tell who are genuinely children of God, because they do what is right and do not sin. The verses above make clear that if you continue to sin after becoming a Christian, this is a sign that you have not actually, genuinely accepted Christ, because if you had, the seed of God within you would have prevented you from sinning.
It seems clear from this that there are few if any genuine Christians today, since all Christians sin. Of course, such Christians may hold out hope that — despite not being “genuine” Christians, despite not having received the seed of God that would prevent them from sinning — they could still be saved. But let’s disabuse them of that notion:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” — Hebrews 10:26-29
In other words, the author makes clear that anyone who has received knowledge of Jesus but who then goes on sinning will not only be denied salvation, but will be judged more harshly than sinners who never heard of Jesus. While this indictment may apply to anyone, it undoubtedly applies to anyone who claims to be a Christian, because if they continue to sin, they will have “trampled the Son of God underfoot”, “treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them”, and “insulted the Spirit of grace”.
I’m sure that there will be those apologists who will desperately focus on the word “deliberate” in this verse. The problem is that the vast majority of sins committed by so-called Christians are unquestionably deliberate. And 1 John makes that clear that the only reason these so-called Christians can sin in the first place is that they aren’t genuine Christians, since the seed of God protects genuine Christians from committing any sins, and furthermore Jesus protects genuine Christians from the sinful influence of the Evil One.
In conclusion, in complete contradiction to Christian dogma, anyone who claims to be a Christian and then continues to sin is actually a faux Christian. And these faux Christians will not only be denied salvation (eternal life), they will in fact be punished more severely in Hell than people who have never even received knowledge of Jesus.
And yet we know that all Christians continue to sin, which means that all Christians are faux Christians, which means that none of them will be granted salvation and they will all be punished severely in Hell.
This has always been a sticking point for Christianity- once you are saved, are you forgiven for just all of the sins up to that point or also for any future sins? If it’s the latter then that would give free license to anyone who wants to rape, rob, and kill. That doesn’t seem to work. But if it is the former, then it appears that Christians are held to a ‘no-further-sin’ challenge that virtually no one can meet. In that case, all of humanity is traveling a no-exit lane to hell.
(2994) Supernatural Pandora’s Box
Once you invoke the supernatural to historicize your faith, you have opened up a universe of alternate explanations that would undermine your faith. That is, once you leave the world of reality, you have entered into an uncontrolled arena of possibilities. The following was taken from:
Natural: must obey the laws of physics and of logic.
Supernatural: only must obey the laws of logic, does not need to obey the laws of physics.
In other words, for a supernatural claim to be plausible, all it needs to do is be logically possible.
Once the supernatural is on the table, almost anything is on the table. Here’s what I mean.
Christians claim a man named Jesus died and then rose himself from the dead since he was god. This is a supernatural claim. Their entire religion hinges on it. But since this claim assumes the supernatural is possible, any number of alternate explanations that defeat the religion are also possible.
For instance, maybe in the tomb, someone teleported in, removed the dead body, and replaced it with an identical clone that was alive and had the memories of the original.
Another plausible explanation is that any and all experiences people had that confirmed the resurrection were actually hallucinations caused by an entity with supernatural powers.
There is absolutely nothing a Christian can do to dispute these claims without outright denying that the supernatural is possible. If people can turn water into wine, walk on water, raise from the dead, part the Red Sea, turn a staff into a snake and back, etc, then all of the possibilities I listed are possible too.
This issue plagues every single religion with supernatural claims. For every claim they make about something supernatural, an infinite number of equally plausible supernatural explanations can be given.
As I said, the only way to defeat the alternate claims is to rule out the supernatural. There would be no proof that the supernatural isn’t real, but it would be ruled out for the same reason we rule out solipsism: we can’t even attempt to make sense of reality unless we just assume it’s false a priori.
Christianity’s use of the supernatural is like playing with fire- it can easily get out of control. Every miracle could be the work of Satan or some other god mimicking Yahweh. Or the whole Christian tableau of miracles could be the work of a simulation produced by an extraterrestrial scientist. Christianity didn’t need to claim any miracles or departure from the rules of physics, other than to attest that consciousness can be restored after death for the righteous.
(2995) God, the dictatorial judge
In most governments, at least in first-world countries, judges oversee trials and manage the proceedings according to a set of rules. Sometimes a judge can make a unilateral decision. But in cases where a person is subject to imprisonment, almost always, the decision is taken away from the judge and given to a jury of the accused’s peers.
If we equate criminal trials to the decision that will be made, according to Christians, whether to send someone to heaven or hell after death, it is evident that the judge (God), not a jury, will be the final arbiter. This creates a liability for even the most earnest Christians, who might feel certain of their salvation, but who are still subject to the judgment of one individual (God) who can never be questioned. And the decision cannot be appealed.
Christians are primed to believe that God is all wise and never makes a mistake. So if God decides to send a Christian to hell they would have to just accept it and consider it to be the right decision. Who are they to question God? In fact, no Christian can be certain that this will not happen to them primarily because the Bible is not consistent on the rules of salvation. A surprise snap judgment could send an earnest (at least to themselves) Christian to an eternity of torture.
Thus, and without much exaggeration, Christianity is a dictatorship, perhaps even worse than those that exist in the political world because the rules of engagement are not as clear. In most earthly dictatorships it is well understood what can get you in trouble. But in Christianity it is less so- there is even scripture talking about an unforgivable sin, loosely termed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, but what that really means is open to interpretation.
It can be said that Christians are willing subjects fawning to a dictatorial overlord who has an unchallengeable control over their eternal fate. This is somewhat why Christians often employ the phrase ‘fear of God’ because it encapsulates the inherent uncertainty of the dogma and the obvious helplessness that any Christian might feel if they are rejected for some reason.
What this suggests is that Christianity is unlikely to be the creation of a super-omni deity and more likely what humans might have devised by experiencing the myriad earthly dictatorships of the Roman Empire. Having one god (judge) with complete power over their fate would have been perceived with an air of familiarity.
(2996) Christianity’s track record
There is a strategy employed by persons who claim to have a connection to a supernatural source that lets them know the truth about the world, such that when facts proves otherwise, they make a change and say that this time they got it right. This is Christianity in a nutshell- it makes unscientific claims and false predictions, but never concedes defeat and says that it will eventually get it right in the end. This does not have the appearance of being a legitimate tie to a supernatural power. The following was taken from:
Imagine your friend Tom claims to have personal access to an infallible source of knowledge. He also claims this personal source of knowledge wants him to be in error about the world. Yet, Tom is time and time again wrong about his various assertions about the world. He does eventually correct himself, but when you ask him why he was wrong in the first place, he simply shrugs, and suggests he has again consulted his infallible source of truth, and has it all figured out correctly this time.
Would you believe Tom? Are not the constant excuses of Tom identical to the modus operandi of someone less than honest? Is this similar to the history of Christianity?
We don’t have to assume the Bible is a scientific textbook (even though a divinely inspired book with knowledge that could alleviate or reduce the suffering of billions of innocent children does seem quite consistent with an actual loving God). We can merely assume that the bulk of those who consider the Bible and its alleged God to be the source of truth would not make erroneous proclamations about the physical world. These errors could have been prevented by 1) a clear Bible passage, 2) direct divine revelation from a God who presumably would not want Christians to be in error about scientific knowledge, or 3) the alleged relationship Christians have with the Holy Spirit. The following is a list of erroneous beliefs held by a significant percentage of Christians at various points in human history:
- Diseases discriminately target those God wishes to punish or test.
- Diseased individuals are being punished for their wickedness or are being tested.
- Physical calamities discriminately target those at which God is angry.
- The Earth is the centerpiece of creation.
- The Earth is flat.
- Seizures are caused by demonic activity.
- Evil-doers can be weeded out through painful “trials by ordeal” in which the accused are horrifically tortured, often to the point of death, to assess their guilt or innocence.
Most Christians today do not hold these beliefs. Not all Christians held these belief in the past. However, the question that must be ask is the following:
How could so many allegedly bible-reading and spirit-filled Christians not have been immediately shown the error of such beliefs by the Christian God before any damage was done? Christian protests against such notions and related practices are centuries late, and are offered only after disconfirming scientific evidence has gained acceptance. Does this sound like a world in which an actual God of Truth is presiding? Can the Biblical God be called a God of Truth given the dismal track record of factual errors promoted by those to whom truth was presumably available?
It might be suggested that there has always existed a lineage of true Christians who have always held faithful to the truth of these matters. If this notion could be demonstrated, this would be a wonderful demonstration that the God of the Bible is indeed a God of Truth. However, evidence for a small lineage of Christians speaking out against the falsehoods previously listed has yet to be offered.
It should be acknowledged that a connection to an infallible supernatural being would render facts and predictions correct the first time- amendments should not be necessary. But man-made dogma would most likely undergo the changes we observe.
(2997) Requirement of faith falsifies a religion
The fact that Christianity and other religions rely on followers employing faith rather than providing them compelling evidence of their truth is a sure sign that they are fraudulent enterprises. They have largely overcome this problem by deceptively extoling the value of faith, often making it seem that faith is a higher standard of thinking than the use of reason. The following was taken from:
Religion and matters of spirituality that are relevant to us as a species should not require any mental gymnastics. If a religion requires faith to accept something that goes against our common sense and reasoning ability, it’s questionable at best.
People need to accept that although some people can be convinced of religious teachings using faith,, others cannot. And no amount of willpower can convince them if the teaching doesn’t make sense. It’s like forcing yourself to suddenly forget touching fire will burn you if you have faith in someone’s words that it won’t.
Having faith should be universally frowned upon and stigmatized because it’s synonymous with gullibility and foolishness. Accepting something is true and good when it contradicts your common sense and reasoning. Accepting something is true and good when it is blatantly immoral and unethical.
There is no virtue in faith. The only people that find faith valuable and good are those who want to take advantage of people, or who don’t want to be responsible for the full reality of their own existence and experience.
Faith is an act of surrendering the means with which you understand and make sense of yourself, other people, your world, your life, your choices, and the resulting consequences. This is not a good thing.
Christian apologists often cite the fact that spouses have faith in their partners to be monogamous as a way to show that faith is a legitimate mental process, but neglect that fact that these same spouses have been able to accumulate a lot of real-world evidence supporting that faith. Christianity fails to provide a comparable measure of evidence and so is actually selling ‘blind faith.’
(2998) Christianity makes people violent
If there is one way that a god would influence humans, it would be to make them more peaceful, not more violent. Yet Christianity on the whole has had the latter effect. The following was taken from:
There’s so much divinely caused and commanded violence in the Bible it can be said the fear of an angry punishing God is its most prevalent theme, hands down. It creates angry self-righteous people who follow in the footsteps of an angry self-righteous god. The great agnostic Thomas Paine noted this: “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.” This is the point of Elicka Peterson-Sparks’s book, The Devil You Know: The Surprising Link between Conservative Christianity and Crime. I wrote the following blurb for her book:
Why is the United States such a violent nation filled with so much crime? The startling answer proposed by criminologist Peterson Sparks is that it’s due to the tremendous impact of the Bible and Christianity on the culture, institutions, and political life of the United States. She specifically indicts Christian theocratic nationalism for this, with its hateful, xenophobic, war-mongering, gun-toting, misogynistic, child-abusing, gay-bashing, get-tough-on-crime, right-wing nuts. This is the devil in disguise we already know, finally exposed for the evil it is. This book is a masterpiece! It should scare the hell out of you.
An omni-benevolent god who for some reason felt compelled to interact with ‘lowly’ humans would probably impart lessons for maintaining peace and compassion, not conflict and violence. Christianity has had the effect of increasing rather than decreasing hatred, wars, and division. This is emblematic of a human created belief system.
(2999) Christianity benefits too many people to die
Christianity has become a self-perpetuating machine because of two factors- a pool of gullible humans brainwashed from birth along with hundreds of thousands of opportunists who are profiting handsomely from it. The latter group is largely insincere about what they are promoting but the lure of easy money is too tempting to give up. Thus, preachers, pastors, artists, movie producers, politicians, and authors are ‘milking the cow’ to the last drop. It can be assured what most of the people in this grouping know that what they are selling is false hope. The following was taken from:
We have no more concrete reasons to believe Christianity is true anymore than we have reason to believe in Islam, Hinduism, Heathenism, or any of the countless other religions on this planet.
Its teachings and its bible are completely arbitrary and we all know it. An omnipotent creator god gives the slightest damn about butt sex? Really? Or whether human beings have faith in his existence or not?
The people who keep it going know it’s a game. All those folks at the Vatican. At the Baptist Convention. At the Christian colleges all over the world. Every apologetic on this earth. They know it. They benefit from keeping it going and they know it. Christianity isn’t about truth. It’s about what you can benefit from it. It benefits too many people and that’s why it still exists.
A lie that is profitable is still a lie and those who gain from it while at the same time realizing it is a lie are hypocrites. They encourage faith while discounting rational thought because they know it is the only way to cover up the obvious falsehood of their product. The victims in this scenario are the people willing to part with their excess income for a chance to win the ultimate prize of eternal life, while not recognizing the fact that most of those who are guiding them along are in on the scam.
(3000) Abrahamic mythology as an isolate
If you have 100 apples in a basket but when you pull out one of them, indistinguishable from the others, and declare it to be unique, you will get some doubting stares. This is analogous to what Christian apologists are asking you to swallow. The following was taken from:
Consider the shameless absurdity of Christian apologists who would have us believe that one, yes but one, garden-variety Iron-Age tribal society became the only ancient civilization not ever to have produced a central system of mythology, no folk-beliefs, no cultic deities, no myths of origins, no superhuman heroes, no ethnic tall tales, no religion. Unlike all of their ancient neighbors (e.g., the Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, and Persians), indeed, unlike any known pre-secular society, the classical Hebrew peoples produced no mythology; instead, they had a relationship with the only actual ontological god, knew the true origins of humankind, and, also altogether unique in ancient society, experienced and passed down purely historical accounts of supernatural phenomena. The apologist would have us dismiss the nigh-endless analogues and permutations of similar myths shared across the regions of ancient neighbors, insisting on a measure of otherwise unseen impermeable cultural isolation. And, of course, the Christian Bible, quite contrary to any other sacred collection of texts, preserves the survival of those alleged ontological truths for all of human posterity.
Christianity fails the uniqueness test that it would need to pass in order to present itself as the one and only true religion. Instead in blends in with all of the other mythologies invented by humans over the ages. It is just another apple in the basket.
Follow this link to #3001