(3001) Evil god makes as much sense as a good god
Christian apologists have done back flips to explain why there is so much evil in the world while protecting the idea that God is a good ‘person.’ But, as explained below, using the same logic, the case can be made that God is evil, but must let some good happen to accentuate the evil that he intends.
I’m going to keep These short and sweet since the point holds without me needing to get long winded.
- God is good but allows evil to preserve free will
Evil version: God is evil but allows good to preserve free will. No logic is changed but it works equally well.
- God allows evil because without evil, there can be no good
Evil version: god allows good because without good, there can be no evil. No logic is changed but it works equally well.
- Lower order evils exist to allow higher order goods to be possible
Evil version: lower order goods exist to allow higher order evils to be possible. No logic is changed but it works equally well.
- God allows evil because good could not be known or appreciated without evil to compare it to
Evil version: god allows good because evil could not be known or appreciated without good to compare it to. No logic is changed but it works equally well.
What does any of this mean? It means this: if an argument can be used to prove two opposite conclusions without changing any of the logic, then it doesn’t actually prove or support either conclusion.
This exercise in logic demonstrates the equivalency of a good god needing to use evil and an evil god needing to use good. Neither position enjoys a logical advantage, so both theories should be discarded.
(3002) Little free will equates to none
Christian theology depends on the proposition that each and every person has free agency to construct their own set of values and moralities and to choose the religion that best fits that design. This is the definition of free will- the ability to sail in any direction toward or away from the sunset. Without free will the rewards and punishments levied by the Christian god would be arbitrary and ultimately unfair. In the following, it is argued that, yes, we might have some measure of free will, but that is so small that it might as well not exist:
Objective evidence showing there is no free will must be accepted, regardless of the perceived consequences about us as choice-makers, just as it shows we must accept evolution, regardless of the supposed consequences for morality.
One thing every informed person should agree on is the following: If we have any free will at all, our choices are so limited, so constrained, so restricted by our generic make-up and social conditioning that at best, we might as well have none at all.
So it is possible for an atheist to concede to a Christian apologist that everybody has a measure of free will, while at the same time arguing that the magnitude of this freedom is so small that for the purposes of assigning fault, reward, or punishment, it is insufficient to be distinguishable from having none at all. This means that people are more or less destined to heaven or hell at birth.
Christians will sometimes argue that, yes, free will is very limited, especially when it comes to what religion a person will follow throughout life, but that God will ‘grade on the curve,’ taking into consideration the circumstances of each individual. This makes some sense, but it also flies in the face of many iconic scriptures that say emphatically that no one can enter heaven without embracing Jesus (and it is heavily implied that this must occur during this life).. If God intended to use a curve, his inspired scriptures should have said so. Absent that, it must be concluded that Christian dogma is inconsistent with the ‘facts on the ground’ and therefore should be rejected as the creation of an omnipotent deity.
(3003) Religion’s anti-homosexuality stance is rooted in the past
Religions are nearly uniformly opposed to homosexuality, but this fact is more grounded in the demographics of the time that they originated rather than in any sense of objective morality. The following was taken from:
Religion’s anti-homosexuality stance is falling down. Religion is guided by society (it does not lead society), and society is governed by needs which are transmuted into morals. Morals are then codified into a religion as guidelines on best practices. So why are the major religions of today typically anti-homosexuality? Well, outright homosexuality runs counter to making babies. Think in terms of life 100+ years ago. The average family size historically was 7 kids which required more than 7 pregnancies to achieve. You needed more soldiers, more farmers, more babies because infant mortality was very high, diseases killed people more easily, sepsis, etc., and the crop yields were much lower, productivity was terrible, famines were common and therefore population stability was lower.
Having babies was of utmost importance until just very recently. In that context, having babies becomes extremely important and embedded cultural ideas form around fertility. Two men or two women not having children (no sperm banks), was an affront to society in a way that doesn’t matter in modern society. Religion is a reflection of societal values, hopes, dreams, fears etc., and if homosexuality is deemed bad for society, then it’s going to be reflected as bad in the spiritual realm as well. And since the need for babies was not a regional issue, all the major religions adopted the same stance on homosexuality (with exceptions in many cases for pederasty).
A modern day person living in 2021, seeing these cultural ideas that lag back all the way sometimes to 900BC can see this as difficult to swallow. Times have changed. It’s no longer seen as a civic duty, or the only or best retirement investment to have as many children as possible.
It is probable that a religion that develops in the 21st Century would not be opposed to homosexuality as there is no longer a demographic imperative to promote pregnancies. Religions change with time as society changes and matures. There is no reason to conclude that any religion has cornered truth or societal mores for the long haul.
(3004) Biblical miracles
The following table lists the miracles claimed by the Bible as being actual historical events:
Chart of All The Supernatural Events Recorded in the Bible
|1||Creation of the world.|
|5:19–24||Translation of Enoch to be with God.|
|7:9–12, 17–24||The Noahic Flood.|
|11:1, 5–9||The Judgement on the Tower of Babel.|
|12:10–20||Plagues on Pharaoh for taking Abraham’s wife.|
|21:1–8||Sarah’s conception of Isaac.|
|19:9–11||Angels blind the Sodomites.|
|19:15–29||The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.|
|19:24–26||Lot’s wife turned to salt.|
|3:1–15||The Burning Bush.|
|4:1–5||Moses’ rod turned into a serpent and back.|
|4:6–7||Moses’ hand become leprous and is restored.|
|7:10–12||Aaron’s rod turns into a serpent and swallows up the rods of the Egyptian sorcerers.|
|7:19–24||Water in Egypt turned into blood.|
|8:5–7; 12–13||Frogs brought forth on the land of Egypt.|
|8:16–18||Lice are brought forth on the land of Egypt.|
|8:20–24||Swarms of flies are brought forth on Egypt but not on the land of Goshen.|
|9:1–7||Murrian (deadly pestilence) is brought on the cattle of the Egyptians, but not on Israel’s cattle.|
|9:8–11||Ashes produce boils on the Egyptians but not on Israel’s men and animals.|
|9:22–26||A terrible storm of thunder, hail, and fire which ran along the ground.|
|10:3–19||A plague of locusts on the Egyptians.|
|10:21–23||A plague of darkness was brought on the Egyptians while Israel had light.|
|12:29–30||Slaying the first born children.|
|13:21–22||The pillar of cloud led Israel by day, and the fire led them by night.|
|14:19–20||The angel of the Lord protects Israel from the Egyptians.|
|14:21–29||The parting of the Red Sea.|
|15:23–25||Sweetening of the bitter waters of Marah.|
|16:12–13||The camp of Israel is covered with quail.|
|16:14–15||Manna is provided for Israel to eat.|
|17:5–6||Moses strikes the rock and water is provided.|
|17:8–16||Remarkable victory over Amalek.|
|19:16–18||Fire and smoke engulf Mount Sinai.|
|19:19–25||God answers Moses from the Mount.|
|20:1–17||God gives the Ten Commandments to Moses.|
|9:23–24||Fire from the Lord consumes the burnt offering.|
|10:1–7||The fatal judgment upon Nadab and Abihu.|
|11:1–2||Fire from God to consume murmuring Israelites.|
|12:10–15||Miriam is made leprous and is healed.|
|16:35||Fire from the Lord consumes 250 men who offered incense.|
|16:28–33||Korah and his rebels are swallowed by the earth.|
|16:46–48||The plague stopped by the offering of incense.|
|17:8||Aaron’s rod buds.|
|20:7–11||Moses strikes the rock to bring forth water.|
|21:6–9||Healing by looking at the brass serpent.|
|22:21–35||Balaam’s donkey speaks.|
|3:14–17||The waters of the Jordan are divided.|
|5:13–15||The appearance of the Captain of the Lord’s hosts.|
|6||The fall of Jericho.|
|10:12–14||The sun stands still upon Gibeon.|
|2:1–5||The Angel of the Lord appears to Israel.|
|3:8–11||The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Othniel.|
|3:31||Shamgar slays 600 Philistines with an ox-goad.|
|6:11–24||The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon.|
|6:36–40||The sign of Gideon’s fleece.|
|7:15–25||God delivers Midian into the hands of Gideon.|
|13:3–21||The Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah.|
|14:5–6||Samson slays the young lion.|
|15:14–17||Samson slays the Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey.|
|16:3||Samson tears down the city gate and carries it away.|
|16:27–31||Samson causes the collapse of the temple of Dagon.|
|3:2–10||The voice of God calling Samuel.|
|5:1–5||The overturning of the god, Dagon.|
|5:6–12||Philistines in Ashdod smitten with tumors.|
|6:19||The Lord smites the men of Beth-Shemesh.|
|28:15–20||Samuel appears from the dead to rebuke Saul.|
|6:6–7||The Lord fatally smites Uzzah.|
|3:3–28||God gives Solomon great wisdom.|
|17:1||Elijah prays and rain does not come for 3 years.|
|17:2–6||Elijah is fed by the ravens.|
|17:8–16||Meal and oil are supplied for the widow of Zarephath.|
|17:17–24||Elijah raises the widow’s son.|
|18:17–38||Fire from heaven consumes the sacrifice of Elijah on Mt. Carmel.|
|18:41–46||Elijah prays and God sends an abundance of rain in response.|
|19:5–8||Elijah is fed by the Angel of the Lord.|
|1:9–15||Fire from heaven consumes two captains and their men.|
|2:7–8||Elijah parts the waters of the Jordan and walks across on dry ground.|
|2:11||Elijah is taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire.|
|2:13–14||Elisha parts the waters of the Jordan.|
|2:19–22||Elisha heals the waters of Jericho.|
|2:24||Blasphemous youths killed by she bears.|
|3:15–20||Ditches are mysteriously filled with water.|
|4:1–7||A widow’s oil pot is refilled with oil by God.|
|4:8–17||Elisha prophesies and the Shunammite woman bears a son.|
|4:32–37||Elisha raises the Shunammite’s son.|
|4:38–41||Elisha detoxifies the poisonous pottage.|
|4:42–44||One hundred men are abundantly fed with 20 loaves of bread and 20 ears of corn.|
|5:1–14||Naaman is healed of leprosy.|
|5:27||Gehazi is struck with leprosy.|
|6:5–7||Iron axe head floats on water.|
|6:16–17||Elisha’s servant’s vision of the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire.|
|6:18||The Syrian army is struck with blindness.|
|6:19–20||God opens the eyes of the Syrians after Elisha leads them into Samaria.|
|13:20–21||A dead man is raised by contact with elisha’s bones.|
|20:9–11||Ahaz’s sundial returns backward by ten degrees.|
|38–42:6||God speaks to Job from the whirlwind.|
|1:1||Isaiah’s vision concerning Jerusalem.|
|6||Isaiah’s vision of the Lord.|
|1||Exekiel has a vision of God’s glory.|
|2:26–45||Daniel recounts and interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.|
|3:14–30||Three Hebrew youths delivered from the fiery furnace.|
|5:5||The handwriting on the wall.|
|6:16–23||Daniel saved from the lions.|
|9:20–27||Daniel’s vision of the 70 weeks.|
|10:1–12:13||Further visions of Daniel.|
|1:4–16||Tempestous storm from God to arrest the fleeing Jonah.|
|1:17||The Lord prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.|
|4:6||The Lord prepares a gourd to shade Jonah.|
|4:7||The Lord prepared a worm to smite the gourd.|
|4:8||The Lord prepared a vehement east wind.|
Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
|1:11–19||An angel of the lord appears to Zacharias.|
|1:20–22||Zacharias is struck dumb.|
|1:26–38||Angel of the Lord appears to Mary.|
|1:64||Zacharias healed of dumbness.|
|2:9–15||Angels appear to shepherds.|
|3:16–17||1:9–11||3:21–23||Holy Spirit decended as a Dove, and a voice from Heaven spoke.|
|4:11||1:13||Angels minister to Jesus after the temtation.|
|1:42–48||Jesus sees Nathanael under the fig tree.|
|2:1–11||Water turned into wine.|
|2:23||Jesus performs many signs.|
|4:46–53||Nobleman’s sone healed.|
|4:30||Jesus escapes from the hostile crowd.|
|5:6||Catching a draught of fish.|
|1:23–25; 4:33–35||Casting out an unclean spirit.|
|8:14–15||1:30–31||4:38–39||Healing Peter’s mother-in-law.|
|8:16||1:32–34||4:40||Healing many sick people.|
|4:23–24||1:39||Jesus heals all manner of sickness and casts out many demons.|
|8:2–3||1:40–42||5:12–13||Cleansing a leper.|
|9:2||2:3–5||5:18–20||Healing a paralytic.|
|5:6–9||Healing an infirmed man at Bethseda.|
|12:9–13||3:1–5||6:6–10||Healing the man’s withered hand.|
|12:15||3:10||Healing of many people.|
|8:5–13||7:1–10||Healing a centurion’s servant.|
|7:11–15||Raising a widow’s son at Nain.|
|12:22||Casting out a demon from a blind mute.|
|8:23–26||4:35–39||8:22–24||Stilling the storm on the sea of Galilee.|
|8:28–32||5:6–13||8:28–33||Casting out the demons and allowing them to enter swine.|
|9:23–25||5:35–42||8:49–55||Raising the ruler’s daughter.|
|9:20–22||5:25–34||8:43–48||Healing the woman with an issue of blood.|
|9:27–30||Healing two blind men.|
|6:5||Jesus heals a few sick people in Nazareth.|
|9:32–33||Casting out a demon from a deaf mute.|
|9:35||Jesus heals the sick in many cities.|
|14:14||Jesus heals the sick among the great multitude.|
|14:15–21||6:35–44||9:10–17||6:5–13||Feeding the five thousand.|
|14:25||6:48||6:19||Walking on the sea.|
|14:35–36||6:55–56||Healing of many at Gennesaret.|
|15:21–28||7:24–30||Healing the Canaanite woman’s daughter.|
|7:31–35||Healing a deaf mute.|
|15:30–31||Jesus heals many among a great multitude.|
|15:32–38||8:1–8||Feeding the four thousand.|
|8:22–25||Healing a blind man at Bethsaida.|
|17:14–18||9:17–27||9:38–42||Healing the Epileptic boy.|
|17:24–27||Temple tax in the fish’s mouth.|
|9:1–7||Healing a man born blind.|
|11:14||Curing a demon-possessed, blind mute.|
|13:11–13||Healing an infirmed woman.|
|14:2–4||Healing a man with dropsy.|
|17:12–14||Cleansing ten lepers.|
|19:1–2||Jesus heals many at the borders of Judea.|
|20:30–34||Healing the two blind men.|
|21:14||18:35||Jesus heals the blind and the lame man in the temple.|
|21:18–19||11:12–14; 20||Withering the fig tree.|
|12:28–29||A voice from Heaven.|
|22:51||Restoring a servant’s ear.|
|27:51||15:38||23:45||The Veil of the Temple is torn from top to bottom.|
|27:51||A great earthquake, and the rocks were broken.|
|27:52–53||The tombs were opened and many of the dead are raised.|
|28:1–10||16:1–8||24:1–12||20:1–9||The resurrection of Jesus.|
|28:1–7||An angel rolls the stone from the grave and speaks to the women.|
|28:5–8||16:5–7||24:4–8||Angelic appearance to those at the sepulcher.|
|20:11–13||Two angels appear to Mary.|
|16:9||20:14–17||Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.|
|28:9–10||Jesus appears to the women.|
|16:12||24:13–35||Jesus appears to the two on the road to Emmaus.|
|20:19–23||Jesus appears to 10 apostles.|
|28:16–20||16:14–18||24:36–49||20:26–31||Jesus appears to 11 apostles.|
|21:1–25||Jesus appears to 7 apostles.|
|21:6||Miraculous catch of fish.|
|1:3–5||Jesus appears to all the apostles. (Lk 24:24–51)|
|1:6–9||Jesus ascends into heaven.|
|1:10–11||Two angels appear to the apostles.|
|2:1–4||The coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.|
|2:4–13||The apostles speak with other tongues.|
|3:1–11||Peter heals the lame man in the temple.|
|5:5–10||Ananias and Sapphira are killed.|
|5:12||Many signs and wonders performed by the apostles.|
|5:18–20||Anel releases the apostles form prison.|
|7:55–56||Stehen sees Jesus at the right hand of God.|
|8:7||Unclean spirits are cast out of many.|
|8:13||Philip performs miracles and signs.|
|8:14–17||The Samarians receive the Holy Spirit.|
|8:39–40||Philip caught away by the Holy Spirit.|
|9:3–7||Jesus appears to Saul (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8).|
|9:10–16||Jesus appears to Ananias.|
|9:17–19||Saul’s sight is restored.|
|9:32–34||Peter heals Aneneas.|
|9:36–42||Dorcas is restored to life.|
|10:1–8||Cornelius receives a vision.|
|10:9–16||Peter receives a vision three times.|
|10:44–48||Cornelius’ household receives the Holy Spirit.|
|12:7–10||An angel releases Peter from prison.|
|12:23||The angel of the Lord kills Herod.|
|13:8–11||Elymas the sorcerer is blinded.|
|14:8–10||Paul heals a lame man at Lystra.|
|16:16–18||Paul casts a demon out of a young woman.|
|18:9–10||The Lord appears to Paul.|
|19:6||Believers at Ephesus receive the Holy Spirit.|
|19:11–12||Many unusual signs performed by Paul.|
|20:9–12||Eutychus is restored to life.|
|23:11||The Lord appears to Paul.|
|28:3–6||Paul protected from the viper bite.|
|28:7–8||Paul heals the father of Publius.|
|16:25–26||Prison doors opened and Paul’s and Silas’ bands are broken off.|
|15:6||Jesus’ appearance to five hundred people.|
|15:7||Jesus’ appearance to James.|
|12:1–6||Paul’s vision of heaven.|
|1:1–3:22||John’s vision of Jesus.|
|4:1–22:21||John’s vision of the future.|
|6:12||A great earthquake.|
|6:12||The sun becomes black as sackcloth.|
|6:12||The moon becomes as blood.|
|6:13||The stars fall from heaven to earth.|
|6:14||Every mountain is moved out of its place.|
|8:7||Hail and fire mingled with blood falls on the earth.|
|8:8||Something like a great burning mountain is cast into the sea, and a third part of the sea becomes blood.|
|8:9||A third part of the creatures in the sea die.|
|8:9||A third part of the ships are destroyed.|
|8:10–11||A great, burning star falls from heaven and a third part of the rivers and fountains become bitter.|
|8:12||A third part of the sun is darkened.|
|8:12||A third part of the moon is darkened.|
|8:12||A third part of the stars are darkened.|
|9:1||A star falls from heaven.|
|9:2||The sun is darkened by the smoke from the botomless pit.|
|9:3–11||A plague of locusts are given power to torment men for 5 months.|
|9:18||A third part of mankind is killed.|
|11:5||The two witnesses devour their enemies by fire from their mouths.|
|11:6||The two witnesses stop the rain for 3 1/2 years.|
|11:6||The two witnesses turn water into blood.|
|11:6||The two witnesses smite the earth with many plagues.|
|11:11||The two witnesses are raised from the dead.|
|11:12||The two witnesses ascend into heaven.|
|11:13||There is a great earthquake in which a tenth part of the city falls, and 7000 men are slain.|
|11:19||There are lightenings, voices, thunderings and earthquake and great hail.|
|16:2||Fowl and loathsome sores fall on men who worship the beast.|
|16:3||The sea becomes as blood, and every living soul in it dies.|
|16:4||The rivers and fountains of waters become blood.|
|16:8||The sun scorches men with fire.|
|16:10||Darkness covers the kingdom of the beast.|
|16:12||The water of the river Euphrates is dried up.|
|16:18||There are voices and thunders and a great earthquake.|
|16:20||The islands flee and the mountains cannot be found.|
|16:21||A great hail of heavy stones falls on people.|
|18:1–24||The fall of Babylon.|
|19:11–16||The return of Jesus Christ.|
|21:1||The new heaven and the new earth appear.|
|21:10||The new Jerusalem descending from heaven.|
So the question that should be asked is: why are we not seeing miracles like these today? There’s really only two possible explanations- either God decided to quit intervening in human affairs or these reports of miracles are fictional. To any rational-thinking person, deciding between these two possibilities is not a difficult task.
(3005) Abraham’s theatrical sketch
People who defend theory that God is omniscient and omni-present will find it difficult to defend the following scriptural references:
I’m trying read the bible cover to cover for the first time, and just finished reading Genesis 18:16-33.
What the hell is going on here? First God asks himself, “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” Is God doubting himself? Then he says he “heard” the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are extremely evil, and was going down to see “whether or not these reports are true”. Then he will know. Shouldn’t he just know? And then in the next verse it says he stays with Abraham while two other men went toward Sodom. Why does he need to “go” anywhere?
So now Abraham’s talking to God, and he’s asking him what if there are 50 innocent people in Sodom, would he still destroy it? And he keeps pushing his luck, asking if he would spare 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? And by the end of it he’s practically shitting himself, saying “please don’t be angry my Lord”, and “since I have dared to speak to the Lord let me continue”. I thought I was reading the script to some kind of sketch.
Taken at face value, from these scriptures we would assume that God is not all-knowing and neither is located everywhere- no, he has a specific location. Did God later evolve to be those things or did people’s thinking about God evolve? Easy answer!
(3006) Jesus’ sacrifice broke every rule
What Jews understand and what Christians don’t is that the alleged sacrifice of Jesus for the atonement of sins broke all of the rules set up by the Jewish faith- rules that Jesus himself would have considered sacrosanct. The following was taken from:
The sacrificial system supposedly utilized by Jesus to atone for the world’s sins is completely at odds with said sacrifice. The sacrifice breaks pretty much every rule of the system.
- The sacrificial system was only valid for Jews, not the world at large
- Sacrifices are only valid if made in the temple
- Jesus is not a Kosher animal
- Jesus was not killed in the manner prescribed in Leviticus
- The Roman soldiers were not Jewish priests
Non-Jews never needed sacrifices according to the Old Testament, so Jesus’ sacrifice was both unnecessary and illegitimate.
The fact that Christianity utilized Jesus as a sacrificial animal would have been abhorrent to Jesus, who presumably, as a Jew, followed the Torah religiously. It is no wonder that very few Jews followed this new religion as it was blasphemous to them.
(3007) Fine-tuning God
Christian apologists often use the fine-tuning argument to ‘prove’ the existence of a creator, claiming that it was necessary to have a supernatural being to set up the physical constants such that human life could exist. But there is a back side to the theory- God itself could have been fine-tuned by the imagination of humans to be the type of God who would focus principally on humans and to crave worship from them. The following was taken from:
First, some background. The fine-tuning argument is a variation of the teleological argument: ‘the universe seems designed, which implies a designer’.
In particular, the fine-tuning argument explores the myriad of constants that need to be set to specific values to facilitate the development of human life: the gravitational constant, the Coulomb constant, the cosmological constant, and many, many more.
If these constants were changed even the smallest amount, (down to dozens of zeros after the decimal point), calculations indicate that humans… could not exist. Life as we know it certainly wouldn’t, and if the universe could exist at all it certainly wouldn’t be life supporting. (Other features such as the habitable zone of our sun, materials on our planets, point in time of the universe, and other non-constants are sometimes also pointed to as fine tuning. We will use ‘constants’ to refer to all of these as well in this post)
It is possibly one of the most compelling intelligent design arguments to exist. When we look at the universe, it really seems that it was designed for our benefit. Whether you are young earth, old earth, evolutionary, creationist, the world seems to support us, and that seems really unlikely to happen by chance.
Now, the fine-tuning argument has its rebuttals. Atheists will often propose the idea of a multiverse/repeating universe (in which case many different constant combinations can be tried) or that we have no idea what the range of probabilities for these constants can be. These are not as intuitively strong as the fine-tuning argument is- the idea of a multiverse is unfalsifiable, and it certainly feels like the constants could have other values.
But, things get a little weird if we take this argument one further step backwards.
It’s certainly logically possible to imagine God had a slightly different nature, or took different actions in accordance with His nature. It’s certainly logically possible to imagine a slightly different creator of the universe, or one that took slightly different actions. Some examples:
– one who only wanted sentient non-human life
– one who only wanted up to non-sapient apes (not humans)
– one who only wanted non-animal life (plants)
– one who only wanted bacterial life
– one who wanted who wanted every planet to be barren of life
– one who wanted a very low gravitational constant
– one who wanted a very high gravitational constant
– one who wanted a universe with only stars, no planets or black holes
– one who wanted a universe with only black holes, no stars or planets
– one who wanted to create the universe with non-life bearing constants (and most critically, one for each combination of constants that the fine-tuning argument also asserts)
– one who wanted to create a physical universe with no constant laws
– one who wanted to create non-physical universe
– one who did not want to create the universe at all
In fact, for every possible combination of constants considered in the fine-tuning argument, we can equally consider another possible nature for God (the creator of the universe logically could have just wanted different constants and didn’t want life at all). So in addition to all the other probabilities for different-cosmological-constant-Gods, we have many additional possibilities for variants of God. that are unsupported to human life. There are at least as many God variants that are unsuitable to human life as different combinations of universal constants (in fact, there are infinite).
Throughout sectarian history, humans have tweaked God’s attributes to suit a certain theme- that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation, while ignoring millions of other potential gods who would have no concern for or desire to interact with earth’s biological forms. That is, a deist god, who merely observes from a distance, or even one who doesn’t even know that we exist.
(3008) Three commandments
An interesting challenge is to limit a person to three commandments to see if they can be more effective than God using ten of them. The following is a compelling entry into this contest:
Let’s write some new commandments. Can we do better than the god of the Bible and Koran?
“Thou shall not commit any act to kill, injure, torment, belittle, shame, deceive, repress, subjugate, divide, or manipulate any human being.”
“Thou shall respect the planet Earth and thou shall do thy very best to keep its air, land, and water clean.”
“Thou shall respect all the creatures that share the planet Earth, and thou shall not cause undue pain and suffering to them.”
What this illuminates is how society has changed in the past 2-3,000 years. The Bible is hopelessly mired in the ignorance and barbarism of past human societies. These three simple commandments far exceed the god of the Bible in presenting rules that would produce peace, order, compassion, and love throughout the world.
(3009) The Christian god is a snowflake
A snowflake can be defined as a hyper-sensitive person who is easily offended by things that are generally not considered offensive. The Christian god is a good example of this personality type. The following was taken from:
The existence of LGBT people offend him, sex before marriage offends him, people jerking off offends him, other religions offend him, Monster Energy and Harry Potter apparently offend him, and all sorts of other things offend him. The Christian god gets offended by so many things. Even things that aren’t meant to be offensive. Therefore he’s a snowflake.
More can be added to this list including the wearing of mixed fibers, uncircumcised penises, doing work on a specific day of the week, and women’s uncovered hair in church. The question that must be asked is whether it is plausible that an omnipotent god would be so easily offended. Or is it more likely that a god would be that way as imagined by people who have an interest in controlling others?
(3010) Origin story is refuted
The Christian Bible is determined to make us believe that God was involved in human affairs from the beginning of the species (Adam and Eve). Unbeknownst to the authors of the Bible, humans (home sapiens) evolved around 200,000 years ago in Africa. Combining these two pieces of information, it is easy to determine the evidence that could lock down the truth of Christianity- a discovery that people worshiped Yahweh from the earliest days of the species. The following was taken from:
If a religion’s origin story puts humans directly in contact with a deity at the origin, there should be archeological evidence of worship of said deity from the earliest evidence of humans.
As the Abrahamic religions state that the first humans were created by, and spoke with god. They also state that these humans worshiped god from the outset. Therefore there should be evidence of humans worshipping the god of Abraham from 200,000 years ago in Africa. As the earliest evidence of the worship of Abraham is from roughly 3,000 years ago, the 197,000 years with no evidence, is evidence the Abrahamic origin story is patently false. Therefore it is reasonable that everything else in the same book is also equally fictional.
Scientifically-educated Christians are left to assume that humans existed for a long time before God intervened and that he did that only in one small corner of the world. This accelerates the implausibility of the fantasy.
(3011) No good reason to believe Paul
There is a weak link in Christianity’s reputability and it’s the Apostle Paul. It is critical to the faith that this man was an honest and sane person who had a supernatural connection to Jesus/God, and who faithfully documented the Lord’s true message to humankind. But what evidence exists to compel us to believe Paul had those attributes. In the following, each potential reason is discussed and dismissed:
Christianity as we know it hinges on the words of Paul the Apostle. Remove the epistles of Paul, and you would have a different religion.
But why do Christians believe him? Why do we believe this fallen, flawed man, who we do not know from any other source than his own writing and a couple of letters? Why do we trust this man revealed the secrets of the god who created the entire universe?
Because he was persecuted for his beliefs – Many people from many religions have been persecuted for their beliefs. Many have gone to their graves for beliefs, visions, experiences, texts, and gods Christians would have no problem claiming are completely false. What was different about Paul’s vision?
The other apostles vouched for Paul – Which apostles? Despite Christian’s desperate attempts at harmonizing the two theologies, James’ works seems in direct conflict with Paul’s writings on grace. Hell, even Luther wanted James out of the canon. We also see that Peter and Paul’s practices caused at least one public clash.
Peter vouched for Paul – Even supposing that’s true, and Peter’s letter was by Peter, why do we believe it? What makes Peter’s assessment of Paul’s character and intentions accurate? Christ himself constantly chided Peter for terrible judgement and decision making. Peter is a fallen man too. The endorsement of an apostle is still the endorsement of a faulty and potentially deceived human being. If you trust in the god delivered by Paul, and you trust Paul because other men vouched for him, you trust men, not God. To even begin to trust this god, you needed to trust the men who told you about him.
Because he abandoned prestige voluntarily – So? So did Buddha. So did Diogenes. Many ascetic Philosophers and martyrs have done this. That does not prove truth as much as sincerity. Even if Paul was sincere in believing he had a vision – so what? Cessationists: You want to see just how easy it is to fool oneself with visions, go to your local Pentecostal church. What about Paul’s vision made it any more genuine than the 30 visions a week there? Yet even the staunchest Reformed Baptist cessasionist who hates Charasmatic nonsense still hinges his entire being on a religion formed by this Chief of Charasmatics.
There is no compelling reason to believe Paul.
Without Paul, it is likely that the fundamental Christian belief in the atonement of Jesus’s death and resurrection would not exist, and that Christianity would be merely a branch of Judaism that holds that Jesus was a prophet of God, but nothing more. Salvation would be of good works, not a specific belief. Remove Paul, and everything changes- including much of what was written in the gospels that were patterned after his letters. It all hangs on Paul, and there is no good reason to believe he was anything more than a deluded visionary.
(3012) Cultural diffusion
The Bible is a road map reflecting societal changes that took place over approximately 1000 years of time, and as influenced by the ebb and tide of various tribes and societies that gained and lost power during that time. What the Bible does not reflect is a consistent portrayal of a singular universal god. The following was taken from:
This is cultural diffusion at work.
The Hebrews occupied a region in the Near East that was a melting pot for a number of civilizations such as the Canaanites Egyptians, Babylonians, Phonecians, Persians, Greeks, Parthians, Romans, etc. Whenever new cultures meet, ideas begin to spread..
A good example is how the various Old Testament prophets constantly reprimand Israel for their continual dalliances with polytheism, including Asherah who was treated as Yahweh’s consort.
However, there were other subtle changes made to the religion as well. During the Babylonian captivity, a number of Greek and Persian ideas such as dualism (the eternal conflict between good and evil) demonology, distinct underworlds (as opposed to Sheol being the collective grave of all humanity), and even Messianism come into the picture. The same thing would later happen with the Romans who would adapt Christianity to make it more palpatable to their own cultural beleifs.
Of course Yahweh is inconsistent across the bible. The Jewish faith was constantly evolving thanks to their long history of contact (and being invaded) by other Mediterranean and Near East powers.
A true connection to an actual omnipotent god should be evidenced by a consistent, unchanging written portrayal of that God along with his rules and expectations. The Bible speaks the opposite- so much so that it can be used as source material for understanding the changing values and mores associated with the Middle Eastern power struggles that occurred over those times.
(3013) Paranormal activity in the Bible
Throughout the entire Bible, magical activities are attested to as if they were real events. There are two ways to process this fact and one way that is simply not available. Either these stories are faked, or, for reasons not explained, the world of the paranormal worked in biblical times but was shut down in modern times. The explanation that will not fly is that we still live in such a world- no, the evidence for this is orders of magnitude too small to be convincing. The following was taken from:
If the Bible is true, we should expect the world to be full of magic. The Bible presents magic and the acts of spirits and gods as real occurrences that should be detectable. I’ll ignore that miraculous events should be happening regularly.
We’ll start with Exodus 7:10-13, where Egyptian magicians turn staffs into snakes by secret arts.
This suggests that even prior to Moses, Egypt had been studying the art of sorcery. They had experts and could even select from among the best in the field. These experts could literally turn wood into living animals, creating life. If the Egyptians were independently able to discover such magic, it should be discoverable by any.
Exodus 22:18 says to kill witches/sorceresses. This would be a silly thing to command if they are not real.
Leviticus 20:27 says to kill female mediums and necromancers. I’m not certain what necromancy entails, but again this implies these sorceresses are real. Women are somehow interacting with the dead.
In 2 Kings 3:27, the king of Moab sacrifices his firstborn son to Chemosh, God of Moab. As a result, a divine wrath falls upon Israel. This defeats Yahweh and his armies and overcomes Yahweh’s prophecy. This understanding of events was actually shared by the Moabites and recorded in the Mesha Stele. Sacrifice holds sway over events and gods.
1 Samuel 28:5-19: Saul gets a witch to summon the deceased Samuel’s ghost in a seance. He has to convince her God won’t punish her first. It works. Samuel appears, and he knows God’s will and the future. Witchcraft is real and powerful.
There are prohibitions against and mentions of practicing magic (divination, necromancy, sorcery, charms) in Leviticus 19:26-31, Leviticus 20:6, Deuteronomy 18:10-12, 1 Samuel 15:23, 2 Kings 17:17, and Isaiah 8:19. These seems to be acknowledgments of their reality.
And much later, Acts 16:16-24 tells of a slave girl possessed by a spirit that can make money telling the future.
It sounds like a typical fortune teller, scamming people for profit, but the Bible treats this as a real, magical event. They exorcise the spirit and people are very upset at her loss of ability. They imprison the exorcists. It seems expected from this that some of the fortune tellers alive today would have genuine power.
And Mark 5:1-17, Luke 8:26-39 says that human beings can become possessed by demons who speak through their mouths. These demons can give humans superpower strength, so that they can break through any chains. They are also capable of inhabiting animals. They can make a creature kill itself directly and immediately. This is a terrifying threat to humanity that we somehow see very little of 2,000 years later, or elsewhere in history.
But 1 Timothy 4:1 declares by the Holy Spirit that demonic activity would actually increase as time went on. And according to Matthew 8:16, they were very common back then.
Acts 8:9-24: A non-Christian magician, Simon, had impressed (with magic) all of Samaria into following him religiously. This suggests that even at the time of Jesus, magic was prevalent outside of Yahweh’s magic. Jesus was not the only miracle worker in town. No reason is ever given for this kind of magic ceasing.
Simon converts to Christianity and sees the Holy Spirit passed from person to person by physical touch. He offers to buy the power off the apostles. To me, this suggests that Simon recognized their magic as a kind that can be taught (like his tricks, presumably), but the disciples scare him off.
Which leads to the next point, that there should be Yahweh magic surrounding Christians too. James 5:14-16 clearly says that if anyone is sick, they should call the church elders to pray over him and anoint him with oil. If they do, he will be raised up from illness and forgiven of sins. 17-18 goes on to say that praying for physical things like rain can be effective.
Many verses ensure that God will magically grant requests,
1 John 5:14-15, James 4:3, John 15:7, 15:16, Matthew 21:21, Matthew 7:7-8, Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14, 1 John 3:22.
In Mark 16:16-18, Jesus himself delivers a parting message: signs will accompany those who believe in him, like laying hands on the sick and healing them, drinking deadly poison and being unharmed, and casting out demons.
These expectations are mostly absent from Christianity today.
Paul talks about spiritual gifts as though they could produce real magic. Romans 12:6-8 includes prophecy in the common gifts of the church members, alongside generosity and teaching.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11 says that the Holy Spirit will empower people to heal, prophecy, do miracles, speak and understand foreign languages, and discern between spirits. He says all of these are empowered by the same Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:4-6 says that those who can do prophecy are greater than those who speak in tongues unless someone is there who can interpret the person speaking in tongues. He says the church may be built up on prophecy and asks what value a gift even has if it isn’t backed by prophecy or revelation. This obviously sets an expectation of prophecy.
In John 16:13 Jesus says the Spirit will tell people the future.
Acts 1:8 says this spirit will persist until the end of the Earth.
Then there is the continuous way in which Yahweh magically intervenes to kill people and to prove himself.
All of this describes a world full of magic, spirits, and gods. We should expect history to be full of evidences of magic, and we should expect magic to be persistent today. We should especially expect Christians to be able to perform magic.
But the world we observe is not that world. It isn’t full of magic except where unverified or discredited. Christians don’t summon miracles. So why the disparity?
This is a major problem for Christianity’s authenticity. The rationalization that is necessary and often deployed is a tacit acknowledgement that something is not quite right. Where is the magic? This should be a question asked by skeptics and Christians alike.
(3014) The Devil and typos
To understand the depth of mystical superstition that surrounded belief in Christianity during the Middle Ages, it is instructive to learn what Christians thought the Devil was up to. It turns out that ‘he’ was causing scribes, singers, and preachers to make mistakes in a campaign evidently designed to cause more people to be doomed in the afterlife. The following was taken from:
Given that humanity has been able to blame pretty much anything and everything on the Prince of Darkness, it shouldn’t be too surprising that, during the Middle Ages, typos were considered the work of the Devil, too. More specifically, it was believed that one of Satan’s henchmen, the demon Tutivillus, was forever roaming around churches and playing pranks on scribes copying religious texts by adding typographical errors to their written work. We guess it checks out since demons seemingly have nothing better to do than hang around and take the blame for what is clearly human folly.
Devilish Tutivillus didn’t stop there, either. He apparently lurked among churchgoers, picking up all the mistakes they made during praise and worship. Any and all misspoken words in the sermon itself were collected and taken back to Lucifer to gloat over. Idle gossip inside the church walls was recorded because being a demon is also like being a crew member on a Reality TV set. In one of the Christian folklore stories that were often told during those times, Tutivillus tells an Abbot he must bring his master a thousand sacks a day of “faylaynges and of neglygences in syllables and wordes, that ar done in youre order in redynge and in syngynge, else I must be sore beten.” This basically translates to “Imma take all the crap that comes from your hands and mouths and make Satan LOL, suckers.”
Books and plays were written about Tutivillus; he was even painted in some of the churches to remind everyone that we should be equally obsessed with both God and the Devil at all times. The demon troll was also blamed for choir members not hitting their notes because why take accountability for anything when a supernatural entity has been created to take the fall for you. Most excellent.
While many laughed and saw the representation as a mockery of the self, others, of course, took the pesky demon tales way too seriously, demonstrating that no matter what age we live in, there will always be people who’ll loudly proclaim, “The devil made me do it.”
So what to make of this? Either these devilish demons exist as believed by ancient Christians, or they don’t, and God couldn’t be bothered to disabuse them of such a wasteful superstition. Given that the latter is astronomically more probable, we can conclude that an allegedly omnipotent god who would fail to enlighten his followers on this important matter is a god that doesn’t exist.
(3015) God gives us no tools of discernment
If there is one and only one omnipotent god running the universe and who is interested in humans and who desires to punish or reward them according to what they believe (all well within conventional Christian theology), then it would be reasonable to expect that this god would give us tools to determine which religion (and which denomination of that religion) is the true and correct interpretation of this deity and his goals. It is apparent that such tools are not available. The following was taken from:
A rational God would give us tools to falsify fake religions if he truly wants us to avoid hell. Nearly all definitions of an Abrahamic God would include one that WANTS you to believe in Him, not one that just made His religion for nothing. If He existed, then he would have given us ways to debunk false religions so his sincere followers who want to believe in Him would not end up in Hell. He would have also given us tools to find out who the fake miracle men are and who the real ones are. Our recent inventions like hidden cameras are debunking people like Uri Geller (convinced millions he performs miracles) and radio interceptors debunking Popoff (cured people from cancer). What tools did they have back then to make sure Jesus was not Uri Geller?
If Jesus and Muhammad can’t even meet our legal standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt, in other words, convince a court room of their powers, then how would he expect us to believe in any of them? How can we possibly avoid the wrong hell since we do not have a clear cut way of disproving or proving Muhammad’s miracles or Jesus’s? If Faith is the only way we can believe in them than we must have equal faith that the others were also true because while they are contradictory, they all offer the same inconsistent evidence. How can a Christian disprove Muhammad’s claims or a Jew disprove Jesus’s without disproving their own?
It is inconceivable that Yahweh, assuming he is the only god, would leave humans helpless in trying to configure a model of reality with respect to the religions of the world. An omnipotent god would not allow his system to run at this level of inefficiency. This level of chaos though is expected if all religions are manmade.
(3016) The church and domestic abuse
For reasons well understood, men who follow Christian teachings feel empowered to control their wives and girlfriends more so than do non-believers. This fact, evidenced by a recent report of Anglicans in Australia, refutes claims by Christians that joining spiritually with God makes you a new creation, a better, more ‘godlike’ person. The following was taken from:
A landmark report has found the incidence of domestic abuse is greater amongst Anglicans in Australia than the general population.
The report, commissioned by the Anglican church, also found that perpetrators used Biblical teachings to justify abuse, and that those who attended church regularly were more likely to have been in an abusive relationship than those who didn’t.
The new research confirmed this, finding “Christian teachings sometimes contribute to and potentially amplify situations of domestic violence”. Strict teachings on “marriage as a lifelong commitment, the submission of the wife to the husband, unconditional forgiveness, and suffering for Christ — whether they are taught by church leaders, internalized by victim survivors, or co-opted by abuser in this way — are harmful for those who experience abuse,” the report said.
This study leaves bare the concept that becoming a Christian causes a tangible effect in making people more loving, considerate, and giving. Rather, it, on net, makes people worse- more likely to discriminate, abuse, and shun those who become targets as illuminated by their Christian world view. It would be assumed that if the Christian god existed as believed by Christians, the data would point in the opposite direction.
(3017) Biblical literalism built on secular traditions
The following essay discusses the misinterpretion of biblical scripture by modern religious scholars who use contemporary secular traditions as a means of discernment. This practice has resulted in many Christians believing literally in stories never intended to be taken as such.
What is biblical literalism? It’s the view, held by a minority of Christians worldwide but a slim majority in the United States, that all or most of the events depicted in the Bible are historical. That is, that they actually happened. There are variations of course, and degrees of belief in biblical literalism, but generally speaking biblical literalists consider the words of the Bible to be true.
There are some serious problems with this construction.
The first and most notable is that not even all the authors of the Bible were biblical literalists in the way modern readers mean. Oh sure, they believed in miracles and acts of God, and generally accepted that those were reasonable explanations for certain kinds of events. Not believing in such things is the common reason to not be a biblical literalist in the modern day, but it wasn’t as these books were being written. It’s a far more fundamental problem we face here.
Basically, the Old Testament books categorized as histories are not in the genre of history, were not understood to be history by the people who wrote them, and could not possibly have been history. Not because many of the events described are blatantly impossible, but because the meaning of the word “history” has changed.
This becomes obvious when you consider that the modern exercise of history would have been utterly useless to the people writing the biblical histories. Why does a scribe whose work will only ever be read by other scribes and which is being done to maintain the mythology of a kingdom have any use for knowledge of actual events which happened generations ago? Who is going to read such a thing? Who even needs to know? One good famine could wipe out their whole civilization, so what use do they have for something as useless as ancient truths about dead kings, who faced problems radically different than the one you serve now, or who might never exist again from your perspective as a Babylonian exile or Persian subject? Why write the sort of histories we do now, when what they need is not facts, but Truths?
What use are Truths? The education of leaders. The only two kinds of people who could ever read an ancient history are scribes and leaders-in-training. Nobody else had the literacy, much less the time, to do something so frivolous. Writing such a thing served no other purpose, and as such the writing served only that purpose. Furthermore, the kinds of historical sources and epistemic tools we have now simply did not exist then. There was no ancient field of archaeology uncovering the ruins left by their ancestors. All of their histories were written for the same purpose as whatever history was being written at the time, so there were no history books to consult. Records of old kings certainly existed, but they only went back as far as the last time the royal library was burned to the ground by an invading army at best. They didn’t write what we would consider history both because they had no use for such a thing and because they literally could not. Which meant that the concept of history itself meant something else.
So what was an ancient history? A story. It took some effort to remain true to that which was obviously true to casual observers, but every other detail could be, was, and was intended and understood to be, filled in by the author for the purposes of telling their story. The tale of Bathsheba isn’t literally about a real woman so beautiful a king committed murder-by-proxy to rape her. It’s a warning to kings and administrators about the dangers of misusing their power, told in the form of a highly memorable story. The tale of Esther does not record the literal words said to the King of Babylon by a particular Israelite woman. How could it, when the story was written decades after the event could have taken place? It is, instead, a cultural explanation of why Israel placed (from their perspective) slightly more value and trust with women than surrounding cultures did.
As a result of this, ancient histories are, not entirely useless, but definitely highly unreliable, in determining what actually happened back then. But they were very useful for the people who wrote them for shaping the values and beliefs of the people who would lead them. That is why a civilization which must slaughter a whole sheep in order to get a square meter of writing material chooses to spend some of that material on history. It safeguarded their future, rather than their past.
But I claimed biblical literalism requires secular tradition, so what does this have to do with anything? Simple: Biblical literalists are reading the word history as a modern secular historian would define it, rather than as an ancient theologian would. The modern exercise of history, where we put great efforts into cross-disciplinary study of every facet of the past to uncover what actually happened, ideally with no regard for how the facts uncovered make anyone in the present look, could not exist without the confluence of a bunch of factors which depend entirely upon secularism.
First, this tradition of history is fundamentally scientific. It forms hypotheses (I think the city of Troy was a real place that existed), and tests them (I found the location of ancient Troy). Second, this tradition requires there to be more than just scholars and leaders able to read, as scholars and leaders have little use for true facts about the past. Widespread literacy wasn’t a thing until the beginnings of the secular movement ended the Catholic stranglehold on literacy. Third, it requires there be enough resources for the indulgence of curiosity to not be a potentially fatal mistake. That can’t happen without modern farming methods, which were developed through science. Fourth, it indulges mildly in the earlier secular forays into white supremacist/European ethnocentrist thought, as it simply assumes that what white people mean by history must necessarily be what our ancestors (who were not white) meant by it as well (Note: I am making people aware of the destructive enthocentric underpinnings of an idea, not calling anyone racist. If you feel condemned, understand this as a condemnation of the ancestors who made this mistake in the first place rather than of yourself. We all carry responsibility for ending this, but we do not all carry blame for causing it. It is a mistake to continue believing things like this, but not a sin to have believed them in the first place when you were surrounded by others who believed likewise. If learning to be better were not painful, there would be little point in it).
Modern biblical literalists are taking ancient texts, conflating the words on the page for what their modern meanings entail, and concluding that there must therefore have been a flood which drowned the Earth. This is a practice which even the authors of these works would have found baffling and laughable, and which can only make sense if you apply secular logic to a fundamentally theological text. It is, simply put, scholastically untenable.
Many pastors and priests conceal this problem from their congregants even though they are most likely aware of it. Any in-depth study of the Bible, along with an understanding of how ancient authors routinely invented stories for a specific purpose, will reveal the fact that the Bible is not a history book by today’s standards. As such it should be seen predominantly as a collection of fictional literature.
(3018) Abrahamic religions must be false
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to assemble a short list of impossibilities that are nevertheless attested to by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Taken together they literally prove that these religions are false, with one notorious exception- that Yahweh purposefully arranged the universe in such a way to make it appear that his ‘true’ religion is false. The following was taken from:
It is simply not possible for Islam/Christianity/Judaism to be true.
If you believe in these religions you must ALSO believe that:
– The Earth is just 6 – 10 thousand years old because that’s how long ago Adam existed, despite scientific evidence proving it to be billions of years old.
– Evolution never happened since we are all created in God’s image, despite scientific evidence of it in DNA, genetic mutations, and fossil records.
– The entire Earth was flooded by God, even though there is not a GRAIN of evidence in history to show that this ever happened.
– All animals and the 7.9 billion people on Earth today descended from a few people and animals from Noah’s ark that survived the flood.
– People in biblical times lived to ages of 950, 920, 980, 239!? Meaning lifespans have gotten shorter over time, despite scientific evidence showing the EXACT opposite.
Furthermore, Muslims/Christians/Jews believe God created the world and he wanted humanity to know him and obey his laws/commandments, yet he mysteriously only sent ALL prophets to the Palestinian/Middle Eastern region of the planet?
Why is there no mention of a prophet being sent to the ancient Greeks, ancient Indians, ancient Chinese, ancient Japanese, ancient Aztecs, ancient Achaemenids, ancient Akkadians?
These were all thriving civilizations yet there is no mention in their history of any prophet preaching monotheism to the masses. Did your God forget to send a prophet to the Indigenous peoples of the America’s and Australia, who lived for thousands of years before Islam/Christianity? Because there is nothing in their totem poles and art works that talks about a monotheistic prophet sent to them.
I’m not sure if a God exists or not, but I am nearly certain beyond any reasonable doubt that the entire Earth, galaxies, quasars, clusters, Universes and multiverses are not ruled by a Bronze Age sacrificial Israelite deity named Yahweh.
The exception cited above has a corollary- that Satan rearranged the universe to deceive scientifically –literate humans into disbelieving Yahweh. When considered in a sober light, this necessarily qualifies it as being an explanation that is beyond the realm of a reasonable doubt. A god or gods might exist, but it’s not this god.
Much of human religiosity can be attributed to an evolved tendency to over-assign certain objects or persons with a degree of uniqueness and other-worldliness, even though they are actually quite mundane. This tendency, called hagioptasia, is a powerful fertilizer for the creation of cults, movements, and even established religions. The following was taken from:
Hagioptasia (meaning ‘holy vision’) has recently been identified as an evolved, adaptive psychological mechanism, which evokes in us a deep sense of longing.
Hagioptasia is not an emotion, but a natural tendency to perceive certain persons, places or things as being preternaturally ‘special’. Consequently, this evolved motivational drive inspires emotional feelings, which influence our behavior in ways that closely correspond with competitive, hierarchical, status related behaviors observed in other communal mammals.
Hagioptasia has played a major role in the development of religious and spiritual beliefs, and other areas of human culture which employ the powers of mystique, glory and ‘glamour’ – such as the arts, fashion, celebrity & social systems of status.
It is invaluable for us to recognize how we are naturally predisposed to yearn for the illusory imaginings of hagioptasia, as left unchecked, this will inevitably result in frustration and disappointment, or worse. Our desires to satisfy these aspirations of ‘specialness’ continue to be a major cause of trouble in human society. An understanding of hagioptasia – being aware of how and when it is influencing our thoughts and behaviors – can help us to alleviate the problems created by this influence, and enable people to use their hagioptasic experiences more constructively.
In 2019 an online questionnaire to research hagioptasia gathered data from nearly 3,000 people, and the findings were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The study showed that hagioptasia can be reliably measured, and that humans do have a natural tendency to generate and attach an illusory sense of “specialness”.
“Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important special.” T.S. Elliot
It is instructive for us to step back and figuratively exit our skin for a few moments to contemplate the fact that we do not perceive reality in an objective sense, but rather overlay a subjective screen between ourselves and what is actually there. Much of human spirituality is based on this effect as we misinterpret our senses and thoughts as being an accurate representation of reality. The people who wrote the Bible were undoubtedly immersed in this milieu of distorted perception.
(3020) Atheists as happy as religious people
It can be conjectured that if any religion was true, the followers of that religion would experience a higher degree of happiness than atheists or those who are attached to a false religion. This is because the components of happiness- good health, emotional support, prosperity, and (for many religions) a belief in an imminent glorious afterlife- would be more prevalent in those religions professing the existence of a prayer-answering god. However, a recent scientific study has thrown shade on this theory, finding that atheists are just as happy as deeply religious people (at least in countries where atheists do not experience discrimination), suggesting that a true religion might not exist. The following was taken from:
Atheists are just as happy as devout religious believers, a study said yesterday.
It confounded the long-accepted convention that confirmed Christians and the convinced followers of other faiths are happier and more content with their lives than those without religion.
But the researchers found that either a firm belief in God or strong atheist views are more likely to lead to a satisfied mind than a loose attachment to religious faith.
The findings were based on happiness surveys carried out in 24 countries which asked both about religious belief and levels of satisfaction with life.
Academics from the Journal of Happiness Studies at the University of Cologne divided levels of belief and non-belief into four categories and found that all except ‘weakly religious’ showed similar levels of life satisfaction, and all were higher than the ‘weakly religious’ group.
They said the importance of Christianity to happiness has been exaggerated because the evidence is often drawn from America and its large ‘Bible Belt’ population of believers.
The findings conflict with those of some major international studies.
A project published in 2019 by the respected Washington-based Pew Research Centre said actively religious people were happier than non-religious people in half of the 36 countries it looked at. It found religious people were notably happier than others not only in the US, but in Japan, Australia and Germany.
A British study carried out by academics from Lancaster University said this spring that teenagers who believe in God have scored higher GCSE results than others.
The Cologne researchers said religion and happiness depend heavily on the country involved. In strictly religious countries, atheists are less satisfied with their lives, but ratings improve in more liberal countries with a high proportion of non-believers.
They suggested this could be linked to discrimination against atheists in theocracies or highly religious states.
The findings were based on the Swedish-based World Values Survey, a collaboration between social scientists covering 100 countries including Britain and 400,000 individuals.
Researcher Katharina Pohls said: ‘Previous research has predominantly found evidence for a universal and linear relationship between religiosity and life satisfaction, which has led to the conclusion that highly religious people are more satisfied with life than non-religious people.
‘The reason for this belief is previous studies were mainly focused on US American samples, without taking the influence of differences between countries into consideration, as well as not differentiating between non-religious subgroups.’
She added: ‘The impact of religion on life satisfaction depends on multiple factors, amongst others, the type of non-religious subgroup to which an individual belongs, the country’s social norm of religiosity, and the societal level of development.’
The truth of a religion cannot be assessed directly, so we must look at indirect factors to make such an assessment. This study seems to suggest that Christianity, among other faiths, does not confer a measure of happiness to its followers that would be expected if its faith claims were true.
(3021) Christians believing their luck will change
There exists an analogy between Christians and addicted gamblers who, despite repeated losses, continue to believe that the big win is just a few days away. Christianity should have died out in the Second Century when Jesus failed to return. But it didn’t. Christians continue to play the slots, throw the die, and draw the cards, believing that Jesus is just around the corner. The following is a quote by Robert Conner posted to this website:
Waaaay back in the day I understood that  the imminent return of Jesus formed the bedrock of the earliest recorded Christian belief and that  when it didn’t happen as expected the Jesus cult picked itself up, dusted itself off, and went on as if everything was fine. Radical disconfirmation, it turns out, doesn’t faze some people; like gamblers who owe the Mob and are being pursued by a couple of Guidos sent to break their legs, they keep believing their luck will change. A majority of evangelicals believe in the Second Coming and to no one’s surprise, about a third appear to believe in QAnon–in each case the only “evidence” they have is something they heard from the Bible or the internet and even though the biblical and internet sources alike are anonymous, present zero supportive data, won’t bear the slightest weight of analysis, and have been repeatedly disconfirmed, the level of belief in these idiocies is rabid.
It appears to be an artifact of human nature that a deeply held and cherished belief is impervious to contradictory evidence, such that the belief becomes non-falsifiable and permanently imprinted in the minds of the ‘afflicted.’ This allows false narratives to enjoy a much longer lifetime than they deserve. The false narrative of Christianity has now outlived its justification by nineteen centuries.
(3022) God is a disappointment
The Christian god as advertised by most of his followers shows so much promise to enhance the lives of humans, provide nourishment, protection, and guidance in this world and beyond. But when we look closely at how things actually work, it becomes obvious that this god, assuming he exists, is under-performing in a very disappointing way. The following was taken from:
Of course, since the scientific revolution, the existence of a supreme deity has been increasingly called into question. The reasons have piled on for doubting the existence of God, and atheism has gained fresh momentum in just the last couple of decades. For the folks who are still under the spell of the hype, a last resort argument—a desperate grasping for a reason to believe—is the need for a creator, a first cause. “How did the world, this vast universe get here? Did it just pop into existence? Don’t be silly! Of course God did it.” This is a variation on the apostle Paul’s scathing criticism of those whom he called “wicked suppressers of truth”:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:19-20)
So just look around you for evidence of God. Even if this were true, however, it cannot be assumed that a creator-god—say, the force that touched off the Big Bang—is the loving, attentive God promoted by Christian apologists. It takes a lot of theological imagination and speculation to come up the church version (versions) of God. Everything you hear in church today derives from carefully selected Bible texts and treatises written by revered theologians over the centuries. But serious thinkers outside this sheltered community want data. If God exists shouldn’t there be incontrovertible evidence, especially since God is presented as a supremely powerful agent who manages creation?
Victor Stenger stated the problem:
“…God should be detectable by scientific means simply by virtue of the fact that he is supposed to play such a central role in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. Existing scientific models contain no place where God is included as an ingredient in order to describe observations. Thus, if God exists, he must appear somewhere within the gaps or errors of scientific models.” (Victor Stenger, God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, p. 13)
“….somewhere in the gaps…” Sounds like a major downgrade of all-powerful God! But let’s see if the God advocated by Christian apologists has substance. Does he qualify, for example, as merciful and mighty—or do we find instead major gaps in his performance?
What a disappointment there are so many defects in his supposedly perfect creation. One major example is genetic diseases—thousands of them, which have caused excruciating human suffering. Was it an oversight that God included genetic diseases when he invented the human body? Apologists may argue that God uses these to punish people, but this makes no sense at all: they are encoded in our bodies before birth. Which means that glitches in evolution are the cause. What a relief for the faithful! They should embrace evolution, to shift the blame away from God. Well, not really, since believers in almighty God must grant that he invented evolution in the first place. Didn’t he foresee the glitches? There is far too much incoherence here.
But there are other ways in which God underperforms—well, let’s be honest: he’s missing in action. What’s the point of praising God, Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty, if he does nothing to prevent horrible human calamities? So far I have posted eight articles in my series, Where Was God When This Happened? In these I present examples of suffering that are inexplicable if God is paying attention and able to intervene.
How else to put it? This person in the trinity is a disappointment.
It takes a lot of brainwashing for a Christian not to confront this problem and see that what they have been told to believe does not match what they are seeing in real life. Either the Christian god does not exist, or he is failing to match the hype.
(3023) The great missed opportunity
Historians lament the state of documentation surrounding the life of Jesus. The only person to write of a direct experience of Jesus, Paul, did not confirm any of the history told in the gospels, although this would have been expected if he was actually in contact with the risen Jesus. And Jesus himself wrote nothing, leaving to posterity just the spurious writings of foreigners three or more decades after the fact. This represents the greatest missed opportunity in the history of history. The following was taken from:
“What would Jesus do?” “I belong to Jesus.” “What a friend we have in Jesus.” We have all become so used to this hype as well. But a close examination of New Testament texts results in considerable confusion. The first person to write extensively about Jesus Christ was the apostle Paul, who never met Jesus, but learned everything he needed to know from his visions of Jesus. Devout Christians believe that these were real events, which, if true, doesn’t reflect well on Jesus. The teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, his parables, his miracles, even the major events of his life, are missing in the letters of Paul. If the visions were real, why would Jesus fail to let Paul know about all these things?
The Jesus everyone is familiar with is based on the gospel accounts. But these are a disappointment as well—certainly professional historians are disappointed—because the gospels were written decades after Jesus died. Are the gospels based on reliable oral traditions or authentic eyewitness accounts? That has been the hope, the speculation, the wishful thinking, with no documentation to provide a solid foundation. New Testament scholars have so far—after decades of contention and controversy—been unable to develop a methodology for figuring out which parts of the gospels may actually be historical. Thus Jesus remains largely unknown, despite the appearance—frankly the illusion—of being a tangible figure. The historical bits—if there are any—are mixed in with a thick fog of folklore, fantasy, miracle lore, and magical thinking. While preachers deny this, and theologians gloss over it, historians cannot.
Could it really be true that Jesus had no power—reigning in heaven in his risen state—to prevent this lamentable situation? The gospels fall so far short of what we need to know. Which raises this question: Why didn’t Jesus write anything himself? Of course, if Mark’s depiction of him as an apocalyptic prophet is anywhere near accurate, then why would he write anything “for posterity” if the Kingdom of God would be arriving soon? But don’t we have to assume that Jesus would have known—being part of God—that history would just keep unfolding…century after century?
So why didn’t Jesus write down as much of his wisdom as he could, instead of just preaching to the crowds? Was he unaware of how much the wise men of Greece and Rome had written? But he had the example of the Hebrew prophets, who wrote a lot. Indeed there is the massive Hebrew Bible itself—our Old Testament—that could have prompted him to put his knowledge and advice into enduring, permanent form. If he had done so, the gospels might have been more grounded in reality. And the world today would have the benefit of insights provided by the son of God himself. What a missed opportunity.
To be honest, there is no way that a supreme being would be this incompetent in delivering what, according to Christianity, is a critical message to humankind, resulting in the division of souls to heaven or hell, without imparting a clear, verifiable record of fact. This is clearly the work of humans who were not coordinating in unison.
(3024) Misplaced parables
One of the ways we know that the gospels were manipulated after the fact is when we see areas where apparent interpolations don’t make sense. The following is a good example:
Large crowds were now traveling with Jesus, and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.
Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This man could not finish what he started to build.’
Or what king on his way to war with another king will not first sit down and consider whether he can engage with ten thousand men the one coming against him with twenty thousand? And if he is unable, he will send a delegation while the other king is still far off, to ask for terms of peace.
In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.
The problem here is that the two mini-parables that follow the injunction (to hate your family and friends and take up your cross), intended to provide examples of this hideous command, actually encourage the opposite. They highlight the need to assess the situation and balance risk and reward and take the safe exit, whereas the injunction tells us to throw caution to the wind, divorce your family and take up your cross. In no way does it imply you should make an analysis to determine whether hating your family is worth the benefit of following Jesus.
The two mini-parables were likely added by a scribe who didn’t understand the gist of what the original author was intending. If the two mini-parables are removed, the text flows smoothly. This provides more evidence that the gospels are not perfect and were likely not the work of a supernatural inspiring force.
(3025) God’s treasure hunt
There is a critical problem with an aspect of Christian theology that asserts that God was laying scriptural hints about the coming of Jesus in the Old Testament- because everything else he communicated was done with gobs of detail. Why was he being so coy about the most important part? The following was taken from:
If asked where the authority of the New Testament comes from, most Christians will usually cite the Old Testament. The saying goes that “The Old Testament foreshadowed / prophesied the New Testament” and that “The New Testament is a fulfillment and perfection of the Old Testament”. Various OT passages are cited to demonstrate the connection between the OT and the NT. Probably the most famous citation is Isaiah 53, but there hundreds of others. None of the cited passages, however, make any direct, objective reference to anything in the New Testament. Instead, passages in the OT must be reinterpreted through the lens of Christianity. The Passover lamb is now a symbol for Jesus because there is a verse about unbroken bones. The suffering servant is also now Jesus because Jesus had an agonizing death. Almost everything in the OT from Abraham, to the Passover seder, to the Torah itself is now Jesus because a creative person can always find some spurious connection between a NT and an OT verse. Christians have become treasure hunters, scouring the OT for any word or phrase that maybe, kind of sounds like something from the NT. The assumption is that God, who spoke clearly and explicitly in the OT when he wanted to send a message, was actually leaving a trail of bread crumbs the whole time.
My argument is that the God of the OT didn’t leave little hints sprinkled through out the text when he wanted to communicate with humans. Quite the opposite. The YHWH of the OT was extremely specific and often went into great detail when he wanted humans to do something. But somehow, when trying to convey the most important message in human history, that you should accept the messiah so that his death can atone for your sins, God decided to do a treasure hunt instead. What kind of sense does this make? God wanted the Jews to do 10 (or so, depending on how you count it) specific things, so he gave them the 10 commandments. He wanted them to perform sacrifices in a very specific manner, so he dedicated 7 chapters of Leviticus to excruciatingly hammer out the details. He didn’t want them to practice homosexuality, so he specifically forbade it. Jews had to follow a strict diet and, instead of giving them metaphors or riddles, he gave them Kashrut. He wanted them to live a very specific kind of lifestyle so he gave them laws with specific dos and don’ts.
If the Messiah is supposed to play such a crucial role in our personal lives, why did God never make that crystal clear? Shouldn’t there, at the very least, be a verse somewhere that explicitly tells us that the messiah is supposed to die (not just suffer) as a human sacrifice to atone for all the world’s sins? We’re talking about the most important piece of information that God can give human beings, as it is the point of all creation.
Making detailed rules about how to wear sideburns while just tossing out riddles about the one and only way to reach paradise makes no sense. It is not a reasonable claim to say this has anything to do with a god.
(3026) The Cowessess massacre
It’s one thing when a natural disaster occurs and people ask ‘Where was God?” It’s another thing when nefarious people harm or kill others. And yet, it is a completely different thing when ‘God’s own people’ perpetrate such an atrocity. It’s well established that the Church sponsored many terrible massacres in the Middle Ages, and apologists try to sweep them under the rug and ask us to forgive them because of that being a ‘different time and place.’ But when it occurs in recent history, this excuse losses its appeal. Such is the case in Saskatchewan, Canada, where a church-run school either killed or was negligently responsible for the deaths and subsequent cover-up of 751 indigenous children. It becomes much more difficult in this case for an apologist to answer that question. The following was taken from:
The Cowessess First Nation announced a preliminary finding Thursday of 751 unmarked graves at a cemetery near the former Marieval Indian Residential School.
The Marieval Indian Residential School operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area where Cowessess is now located, about 140 kilometres east of Regina. Children from First Nations in southeast Saskatchewan and southwestern Manitoba were sent to the school.
The First Nation took over the school’s cemetery from the Catholic Church in the 1970s.
Earlier this month Cowessess started using ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves. It was not immediately clear if all the remains are connected to the residential school.
Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme spoke at a virtual news conference Thursday morning.
“This is not a mass grave site. These are unmarked graves,” Delorme said.
Delorme said there may have at one point been markers for the graves. He said the Roman Catholic church, which oversaw the cemetery, may have removed markers at some point in the 1960s.
He said it was not immediately clear if all of the unmarked graves belonged to children, but that there were oral stories within Cowessess First Nation about both children and adults being there.
He said some of the remains discovered may be people who attended the church or were from nearby towns.
Delorme said some 44,000 square metres of area were searched by technical teams from Saskatchewan Polytechnic, which the First Nation partnered with for the search.
Teams were unable to confirm if there were more remains, but said there were 751 “recorded hits” at the site and noted there could be more than one set of remains at each “hit.” He said the penetrating radar work has a 10 to 15 per cent error rate.
Technical teams would be able to provide a verified number in the coming weeks, Delorme said.
Thursday’s announcement marked “Phase 1” of the First Nation’s search efforts, he said. The community would continue search efforts in the area based on oral history.
Last month the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation in B.C. announced the discovery of a burial site adjacent to the former Kamloops Indian Residential School that preliminary findings indicate contains the remains of 215 children.
Delorme said the community wants to put names to the people in the graves in the coming months. He said the community would be treating the site “like a crime scene.”
He said he would like to see a monument built at the site that includes the names of those identified.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said Thursday that what happened was a “crime against humanity” and that the findings were just the start in terms of finding unmarked graves in Saskatchewan. The FSIN represents Saskatchewan’s First Nations.
“There will be hundreds more unmarked graves and burial sites located across our First Nations land at the sites of former Indian Residential Schools,” Cameron said in a prepared statement.
“There are thousands of families across our Treaty territories that have been waiting for their children to come home. Saskatchewan had the highest number of residential schools and highest number of survivors.”
He said the FSIN would work to get every site in Saskatchewan — schools, sanatoriums and other such locations — searched and victims in those locations identified.
Cameron called on all levels of government to support First Nations efforts in their efforts at those sites.
Cowessess knowledge keeper Florence Sparvier, 80, attended the Marieval Indian Residential School and shared some of her experiences at the school during the news conference Thursday.
She said she was taken to the school by her parents. At that time, parents who didn’t send their children to school had to spend time in jail, she said.
She said it was “pounded” into students that the cultures they learned at home were wrong.
“They told us what to say. They told us about a new being that was supposed to be our ultimate saviour,” Sparvier said.
“They told us our people, our parents, our grandparents didn’t have a way to be spiritual, because we were all heathens…. We learned how to not like who we were.”
Delorme called for a papal apology.
“The pope needs to apologize,” he said. “An apology is one stage in the healing journey.”
Delorme noted the Canadian government is making some progress on the residential school file and reconciliation efforts, but said “they can move quicker.”
FSIN Chief Cameron said he would like the government of Canada and the churches that ran residential schools to release all records associated to residential schools in the country. He also called for a full, independent and public review into the deaths of First Nations children and people in Canada.
“Our people deserve more than apologies or sympathies, which we are grateful for. Our people deserve justice,” he said.
“Canada can start by handing over all of those records. The churches can start by handing over all of those records.”
Delorme said he’d engaged in discussions with the regional archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church, who had visited the site a few times.
The regional archdiocese, he said, committed to helping the First Nation achieve its goals, but Delorme said the band hadn’t reached out to anyone higher up in the organization.
Oral history, he said, tells of records being removed from Cowessess in the 1970s and taken to Winnipeg, where they were stored.
“We have full faith that the Roman Catholic Church will release our records,” he said.
“They have not told us no. We just don’t have them yet.”
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina said the removal of headstones from the cemetery was wrong.
“It was a terrible thing to do, which, given the history of residential schools and the pain and suffering that many survivors felt on top of all that, it’s a disaster,” Archbishop Donald Bolen said.
Bolen said his organization would help Cowessess First Nation take the lead in any efforts that are to be undertaken and he offered the community whatever help it needs going forward.
In terms of records, Bolen said the school was run by oblates and the Archdiocese didn’t have full school records. The organization had records of which priests were present at the school while it was operating, along with some records of baptisms and funerals, but the records were mostly incomplete.
“What we have, to the extent that privacy laws allow, we want to share, we want to be as helpful as we can in this regard,” Bolen said.
“We can also support the Cowessess First Nation in their relations with the oblates in order to get documents and information.”
A Christian must admit that God was watching this happen, with effortless capability to stop it, yet allowed it to occur, knowing full well that it would be revealed at some point, resulting in a terrible public relations nightmare for the church. Yes, this is the god that they worship.
(3027) Cruelty in the New Testament
Christians often dismiss the Old Testament as if it really doesn’t count anymore, neglecting the fact that whatever their god did in the past is still relevant today. They claim that the New Testament is what they focus on, and that it reveals to true nature of their god as being a loving, caring, paragon of compassionate perfection. But there’s a problem. There is still plenty of cruelty in the New Testament. The following was taken from:
You constantly hear atrocities in the Old Testament being completely disregarded by the religious because it’s convenient. Jesus specifically said he didn’t come to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17), but it’s a convenient excuse to disregard indefensible cruelty on the part of God. This subtly makes the assumption that there isn’t almost equally objectionable things in the New Testament, which isn’t the case. So I felt like putting together a short and incomplete list of some bad parts of the New Testament.
1 Timothy 2:12: I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
Ephesians 6:5: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
Matthew 10:34-36: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for not murdering disobedient children. Mark 7:9-10:
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’
(also, further indication that the people were still bound by Old Testament law)
Jesus indicates to a man that he was crippled due to sin and to watch out so that it doesn’t happen again. John 5:14: Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
Gay people are worthy of death. Romans 1:26-32:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Christianity’s obsession with blood and death continues. Hebrews 9:16-22: For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Child is murdered for the sins of mother and thought crimes are punishable: Revelation 2:23: I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
If anyone is familiar with any others please feel free to share them. I think it’s important for those who are currently doubting and are struggling to accept some of the cruelty in the Old Testament. They might be fooled by the religious into thinking that it’s okay because the New Testament is all sunshine and roses when it isn’t.
And then there is this gem:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple.”
There is no escaping the fact that Yahweh, the god of Christianity, is a cruel figure, or rather figment, of peoples’ imagination and that the New Testament is just further proof of that fact.
(3028) Dragon Man
In another fatal blow to creationism and a concomitant moral wounding of Christianity, a new species of a hominid has been discovered in China. 146,000 years ago, this 50 year-old man lived long before the alleged events of the Garden of Eden. The following was taken from:
A large skull discovered in China may be from an extremely close kin of modern humans, researchers have revealed.
The previously unknown species of extinct ancient human, dubbed Homo longi or “Dragon Man,” could replace Neanderthals as the closet relative to modern Homo sapiens, according to the scientists, who published their findings Friday in the journal The Innovation.
The nearly perfectly preserved skull, known as the Harbin cranium, is more than 146,000 years old.
Researchers believe the skull was discovered in 1933 when a bridge was built over the Songhua River in China’s Heilongjiang province, but was only recently studied. It had been wrapped up by a farmer working on the bridge and hidden down an abandoned well. He finally told his grandchildren of its existence on his deathbed in 2018 and they turned it over to a university,
Some Dragon Man’s features notably resemble those of modern man, pointed out one of the authors of the studies on the fossil, Chris Stringer, who is a researcher at London’s Natural History Museum
“It has flat and low cheekbones … and the face looks reduced and tucked under the brain case,” he said in a statement.
The skull — about 9 inches long and more than 6 inches wide — is also large enough to hold a brain similar in size to that of modern humans. Researchers believe it belonged to a male about 50 years old.
“In terms of fossils in the last million years, this is one of the most important yet discovered,” Stringer told BBC News.
Other scientists aren’t yet certain what position Dragon Man holds on the human family tree — or if he even represents a separate species.
But research lead author Xijun Ni, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei GEO University in Shijiazhuang, is convinced: “We found our long-lost sister lineage.”
It’s “widely believed that the Neanderthal belongs to an extinct lineage that is the closest relative of our own species. However, our discovery suggests that the new lineage we identified, that includes Homo longi, is the actual sister group of Homo sapiens,” he explained.
Scientists believe that Dragon Man was powerfully built. But little is known about how he lived, because his skull was removed from the site where it was found. So scientists are unable to search for tools and food linked to Dragon Man that would begin to tell the tale of his life.
Creationists can defend their beliefs only by conjecturing that the science surrounding this discovery is wrong and that that this man actually lived a few thousand years ago. This is a dangerous tack to take in a world becoming increasingly more sophisticated in knowledge and technology. It seems to welcome the warning- If you have to fight science to defend your faith, it’s a good clue that there is something seriously wrong with your faith.
(3029) God is a psychopath
The conventional belief of Christianity that God is omnipotent and that he intends to send non-believers to hell, leads to the inevitable conclusion that God is a psychopath. The following logic construction was taken from:
P1: God is all knowing.
P2: God creates all things.
P3: If I don’t believe in God, I will suffer an eternity of torture in hell.
P4: I don’t, and never will again, believe in God.
C1: God knew that I will go on to suffer an eternity of torture in hell when he created me.
P5: Any being that creates another being knowing it will suffer an eternity of torture is a psychopath.
C2: God is a psychopath.
I’ll just point out quickly that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in a conception of free will that is compatible with omniscience, it’s not relevant to the argument.
Apologetic responses to this argument usually focus on the idea that God gives each person free will and that, ultimately, a person chooses to go to hell. Of course, this argument is a rather insipid. It necessarily implies that God’s omnipotence is limited to the extent that he doesn’t know beforehand what ‘choice’ you will make. If he does know this, then the point falls apart. Making you while knowing in advance that you will ‘choose’ hell does not resolve his psychopathy.
Most Christians will accept P1 and P2, but a few will balk at P3. It seems there is a modern philosophical change to move away from the concept of eternal conscious torment., even though it has a lot of scriptural support. This is the only way out of this problem because if P3 is accepted, then P4 is uncontested, and C1, P5, and C2 follow automatically with very little room to push back.
Thus Christians (assuming they accept the conventional doctrines outlined in P1 and P2) must accept one of these two options- either hell does not exist as a place where unbelievers will suffer for eternity, or God is psychopath. Other than that they can play around with P1 and P2 but in so doing become dangerously close to no longer being Christians.
(3030) Exodus fiction undermines Christianity
The story of the Exodus is presented as true history in the Bible to such an extent that if it were merely fictional, this would constitute a near fatal blow to all Abrahamic faith traditions. And the evidence strongly suggests that it was indeed 100 percent fictional. The following was taken from:
The Exodus, as described in Exodus and Numbers, never happened.
The date for the Exodus that the Bible gives, with help from 1 Kings 6:1, is 1446/7 BCE. This puts it smack dab in the 18th dynasty and the reign of Thutmose III, and the story in the Bible does align with archeology from that time.
Exodus 12:37-38 informs us there were 600,000 men who left Egypt. Add in the wives, children, elderly, and tag-alongs and a conservative estimate is 2.5 million. Further, population estimates for Egypt at that time are less than 4 million. So we’d expect to see a loss of over 1/2 the population… almost all the workforce.
Further, there’s the plagues. The Nile turns to blood, disease, famine, death by hail, death of livestock, death of the firstborn. Hundreds of thousands, if not more, would have died from famine and other plagues.
Then, you have pharaoh’s entire army (Exodus 14:9) getting destroyed in the Red Sea… so that’s the loss of an entire army and more of the population. It even seems the pharaoh himself may be dead (14:28)
So a world power goes from ~ 4,000,000 to easily below 1,500,000… including their entire work force and entire army. And it appears pharaoh himself may be dead.
What evidence is there of this happening in archeology?
Thutmose III led huge military campaigns before, during, and after 1446/7, capturing over 300 cities. With what army, pray tell? He also constructed many temples before, during, and after 1446/7. With what workforce, pray tell?
Egypt thrives during his rule. It was not suddenly “destroyed.” (Exodus 10:7) And Thutmose III dies a normal death. We have his mummy, actually. It’s not at the bottom of the Red Sea.
Not one record. Not one indicator of a nation destroyed. Not even a mention of “Israel” or “Hebrews” or “Moses.” Not from Egypt… or from its enemies. You’d think that’d be a thing they’d take advantage of.
So, we find the OPPOSITE of what we’d expect from the Biblical tale.
But couldn’t it have been a different date? Well, first, you’d have the same issue. NOWHERE in ANY part of Egyptian history do you find ANYTHING resembling this.
And further, the Bible is specific, it happened 480 years before Solomon’s temple was built, and we have more Bible chronology with specific dates leading up to the Babylonian exile, which is dated for us by the Babylonians. This date is Bible approved: 1446/7 BCE.
It would seem, very clearly, that the Exodus did not occur, especially at the date the Bible says.
A hypothetical analogy to this would be discovering that Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon never actually happened- it was just a fictional story made up to embellish the emperor’s pedigree. This would cause us to reconsider the truthfulness of everything else we thought we knew about him. The fictional nature of the Exodus is a skeleton in Christianity’s closet, and clergy would just as soon keep the door closed.
(3031) Religion is a defense mechanism
Along with the evolution of the human brain and its incredible complexities came a raft of anxieties that attack the psyche in many ways. To confront these issues, humans created artificial narratives to placate these anxieties in an effort to make living a more restful experience. Thus, religion can be seen as being an inevitability even in a godless universe. The following was taken from:
Religious and spiritual beliefs are a defense against the often painful and anxiety provoking realities of existing as human beings. These anxiety provoking topics are four existential givens. They are the four basic fundamental truths of human existence: Death, meaninglessness, isolation and freedom.
We’re all going to die, and we know it. This is, for almost everyone, a source of significant anxiety. We’ve evolved with two basic responses to danger, we punch it, or we run from it. We have a pretty extensive understanding of this fight or flight mechanism and the associated anxiety effectively serves the function of keeping us alive most of the time. Of course we can’t run from death and we can’t punch it. If we can be certain of anything in life it’s that death will get us all in the end.
It’s obvious how most religions address this anxiety: Denial, immortality, reincarnation. You put in a little effort, you go to church, you pray, have faith, and you can content yourself with the belief that death is not the end.
Life does not have a meaning. There is no grand cosmic plan. We are born, we live, we die. As intelligent animals we constantly search for explanations, we have an instinctive desire to know why. Why does lightning strike, why is the fire hot, why is the sky blue. But there’s are some answers we can’t find: why are we here. It may make no sense to even ask why, but we do anyway, hoping there’s some reason for it all. But the universe remains silent.
We are meaning making creatures and we can’t help but find things to which we can assign meaning: family, work, hobbies, experiences. But part of us feels, deep down, that this isn’t “real”, we know meaning is just a property we attribute to things and somehow that’s never quite satisfying enough to stave off the anxiety of meaninglessness.
But here’s religion again to put your mind at ease. You may not be in on the grand cosmic plan but don’t worry, there is one, and god knows what it is. When things don’t make sense you don’t need to think too much about it because it’s all part of a plan and if there’s a plan then there must be some purpose to it. Thanks to religion we can content ourselves with the belief that at least something out there knows what the point of all this is.
We are all islands. I know my own mind, I have my own thoughts and experience things in my own personal way. I assume you do as well. But I can never really know you in the same way that I know myself. My experience of reality is my own, I can try and tell you about it, I can communicate certain aspects of it, but an essential quality of it will be experienced by me and me alone. When I am gone the world that was me will be gone as well.
We stave off this anxiety provoking experience by reaching out to other people, trying to form meaningful connections, perhaps one of the most fundamental meanings we can set for ourselves in life is to find someone to know deeply and who can deeply know us back. But we still know this task is ultimately futile. No one can know us like we know ourselves.
Except god. God can peer deep inside your soul and he knows the real you. So don’t worry, you’re never really alone. There’s a Heavenly Father looking over you and he loves the real you.
We are free. That sounds good, but it has terrifying implications. Right now there are infinite possibilities open to you, you could do almost anything you could imagine. It’s a more subtle anxiety than the three existential givens described previously, but you can see it paradoxically in the ways we limit our own freedoms. We create lofty concepts like morality and justice, we invent laws for ourselves. In the blinding light of chaos we impose structure as best we can. I’ll have breakfast at breakfast time, I’ll get to work for 9:00, I’ll give myself responsibilities. But I know there’s no ground here, I’ve built this floor on thin air and through sheer will power I’m standing on it… if only it was real.
But once again here’s god. And his word is law (don’t eat shellfish and stop being gay). Now the ground is real, there’s no need for that anxiety provoking uncertainty any more. You’re still free, but it’s a nice controlled freedom, all according to god’s will.
Religion is fundamentally a defense mechanism against anxiety, and evidently a damn good one, from Ra to Odin to Jesus, religion comes naturally to humans. It’s a warm blanket in a cold universe, and who wouldn’t want that?
The fact that we don’t need gods to explain the existence of religions provides a bit of evidence against the existence of gods. It is a reflection of Occam’s Razor- that it is usually unwise to assume causes that are not necessary to explain an observation. As such, the motivations to create religions are sufficient in their own right to explain their existence- no gods are needed.
(3032) Six reasons Christianity survives
Often Christians defend their faith by pointing out how many people are participating in the faith, which is an ad populum argument. Although this is most times a fallacy, there can be occasions where it has some legitimacy. But when it comes to Christianity, the following six reasons for its success are far more likely than it being the true religion of God:
Apostasy: Most denominations of Christianity and Islam teach that anybody who is not following their religion will go to hell, and be tortured for eternity. Understandably, this makes apostasy rather uncommon – even if somebody does not entirely believe that their religion is true, fear of hell is often enough to keep them from leaving it entirely. In addition, the social consequences of leaving may force even a gnostic atheist to pretend to be a christian/muslim – if they are not, they may be disowned, and in religious-majority countries, they might face discrimination (this is less applicable in countries like the USA and Canada with laws on this type of thing, however).
Heaven: What good is a stick without a carrot as well? Heaven offers a possible reward for believers, and a very good one at that: eternal, blissful life after death. Like being on drugs forever! This, too, has an effect against people leaving the religion (and more of an effect on people joining it) because, if they don’t, they might miss out on it. If they’re wrong, they’ll never know it…but if they’re right, they’ll go to heaven. Any chance of life after death is worth it.
So, these are two of the main reasons why individuals will join and stay in the religion: they are scared of hell, looking forward to heaven, and will likely face social consequences for leaving. Now, let’s look at some of the reasons why religion itself stays around (that are specific to the abrahamic religions).
Tithes: While I can’t speak for Islam (being an ex-christian myself), in Christianity, it is customary to give 10% of one’s income to the church. This is ostensibly to serve God, but it actually gives the church plenty of money to keep running. If the church is large enough, or wealthy enough, the tithes will actually allow it to send missionary trips to impoverished places, allowing people there to be converted. This, more than any other reason, is why Christianity has been around for over 2000 years – churches are funded enough to both stay running and convert new people.
[There is also the issue of sunk cost- once somebody has expended a large amount of money to any pursuit, there is a natural reluctance to admitting it was all a waste.]
Indoctrination: In abrahamic religions, kids are taught from an extremely young age that the Bible is inerrant, and that anything that contradicts it is wrong. They are taught that if they ever leave a religion, they will suffer forever – but that if they stay, they will (or may) be rewarded. Kids are extremely gullible (see Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.) and when they spend hours each week being taught about something, it is no wonder that they will believe it! Kids, for this reason, are the single largest source of new members of the abrahamic religions.
Procreation: What good are making new believers if you can’t have a lot of them? Both Christianity and Islam teach that people should “go forth and multiply” – in other words, have a lot of kids. To this day, members of both of these religions tend to have far higher birth rates than the rest of the population. In doing so, they more than compensate for any deconversion that may be going on. If you have 5 kids, and 1 of them becomes an atheist, that is still a major win for your religion. The birth rates of these religions far eclipse the birth rates of atheists and unaffiliated people, so given these statistics, it makes perfect sense that these religions have grown so much.
Support: Religions aren’t all bad. Going to church is a great way to make new friends. In addition, if you are an impoverished person living in a third world country, having a missionary come over and build you a new school will probably drastically improve your quality of life! Religion provides a safety net for many people, and given this, most would be loath to abandon it after it has done so much for them. Though not all churches are like this, there are enough that it is a significant factor – either because somebody might need a safety net, or this might be the easiest way of volunteering, or they might like traveling places. The list goes on, and all of these are ways that people might stay with the church despite not believing in it.
Christianity has been designed to be a popular success, even a wildly popular success, but some elements of that design are now beginning to erode its reputation- most notably the concept of hell, the denigration of homosexuals, opposition to abortion and birth control, and its general anti-ecumenical stance. The world is changing while Christianity remains anchored to its ancient scriptures. So the six-factor formula listed above will eventually not be enough to prevent its collapse- that and the fact that it has no connection to anything beyond our natural world.
(3033) Matthew didn’t believe Jesus was God
The following provides further proof that the idea that Jesus was God was not believed by the earliest Christians. This is especially true of the gospel author Matthew who was likely an observant Jew, who would consider equating a man with God to be anathema. The following was taken from:
Matthew seems to go out of his way to say Jesus was not God. Almost all scholars, conservative Christians to secular atheists, accept that the Gospel of Mark was written first, and Matthew used Mark as source material for his own Gospel.
Matthew 9:1-8 contains the story of the healing of paralyzed man more famously found in Mark 2:1-12. It’s possible that Mark is the most used version because the paralyzed man’s friends lower him into where Jesus is, something not mentioned in Matthew. But I think there’s another reason too. In Mark, the Pharisees say “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” This implies, either on purpose or through bad writing, that Jesus is God!
But in Matthew 9:8, the author adds a small comment to Mark’s material: “they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” This isn’t a quotation of what the crowd thought, maybe constructed like “because they thought” or “because it was believed.” This vestment of power fits in with some other statements in Matthew, like “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (28:18)
Matthew’s commentary adds that God had given authority to the man Jesus. Matthew then seems to be clarifying that Jesus is not God, only a man with God’s authority. This is directly in contradiction to Christian orthodoxy.
The following provides additional scriptural evidence:
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
If Jesus was indeed God, we must assume that he kept this fact a secret from his disciples, or else we should see it illuminated from the start. Rather, this idea appeared to evolve, gain traction, and reach fruition when the final gospel, John, was written approximately 60 years after the time of the alleged resurrection. Humans are adept at embellishing history and this is a major red flag for Christianity.
(3034) Suppression of knowledge
Christianity has a long history of suppressing new knowledge wherever and whenever it conflicted with their sacred doctrines. This is an on-going issue as it still continues in many sectors to fight against, for example, evolutionary theory, global climate change, and methods of dating the age of the universe. The following discusses how great thinkers of the past were mistreated, tortured, or killed for revealing inconvenient truths- truths that any god would have known to be true:
The suppression of knowledge by Christians is nothing new. From the very beginning, the Church has done everything in its power to impede the advance of intellectual progress. It has opposed free inquiry in the name of authority, denied facts in the name of faith, obstructed science in the name of Aristotle, and prohibited the expression of honest opinion in the name of revelation. It has censored books, tortured people who possessed them, castrated adulterers, executed heretics, sent geniuses to the gallows, and consigned thinkers to dungeons.
The list is long and horrendous: Arius, Pelagius, Abelard, Campanella, Bayle, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Bruno, Servetus, Spinoza, Kant, Voltaire, Paine, Linnaeus, Buffon, and Darwin—to name just a few of the most prominent. Even more revolting than the list itself are the alleged crimes for which these intellectual giants were identified, hunted down, tortured, and murdered: having sexual intercourse out of wedlock with women they loved, maintaining that human beings have free will, denying that Adam named every existing animal and that Noah preserved every known species in the ark, denying the doctrine of the Trinity, maintaining that the earth revolves around the sun, inventing the telescope, discovering new planets, denying the existence of fixed stars and the fixity of species, denying that comets are activated and controlled by demons, and maintaining that human life evolved from lower forms. The minute higher criticism appeared on the horizon orthodox theologians took aim at it.
The question to be asked is whether an actual god-inspired religion would react punitively against people who discover new truths, those that would eventually become conventional knowledge. The answer is no- a true religion guided by an omniscient god would always acquiesce to new and correct discoveries, and not embarrass itself by resisting them only to admit their errors at a later time. This is a near slam-dunk against Christianity and in many quarters, the dunking it still going on.
(3035) Baader-Meinhof phenomenon
A tendency to ‘see’ what recently-developed expectations suggest you should see is a well-known phenomenon, and it has repercussions involving religious revelations. It can artificially reinforce a belief in something that is not true, and is especially valuable to religions that are selling false doctrines. The following was taken from:
When it comes to the question as to why God doesn’t reveal to himself in a more direct way and in a manner more perceptible to our 5 senses, Christians will often claim that to get to know God, one must seek Him out with an open mind and heart. Rather than expecting only God Himself to give us reasons to believe and trust in him, the effort also lies on humanity to search for Him. In fact, there’s a verse in the Matthew that reads:
“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened”. (Matthew 7:7-8).
This is where the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon comes in. Even if you have never heard the term before, I’m sure many of you are familiar with it. Have you ever heard a word for the first time and then from then on began to see and hear it more often? That’s precisely what the phenomenon is; a cognitive bias that gives the illusion that an occurrence seems to appear more frequently than it actually does as a result of having just learned about it and now being more aware of it.
Doesn’t this sound a lot like what happens when newly converted Christians bear witness to God’s glory? They first make the effort to trust and believe in God with the expectation that their lives will change for the better and that good will come their way and as a result, that’s exactly what happens per the phenomenon described above. The good things that would’ve happened anyway now get attributed to God. Things that would’ve been overlooked before now appear to be more significant than they would’ve been considered to be otherwise.
It’s not that God is actually revealing anything to anyone. It’s that the people who attest to these revelations from God are priming their own expectations and creating, themselves, the very thing they claim to be looking for.
To conclude, I believe the psychology of Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a much more plausible explanation for divine revelations because it simply requires far fewer assumptions.
It is well-known that people who become interested in unidentified flying objects (UFOs) begin to ‘see’ them more often. The same seems to apply to angels and ghosts. And in biblical times, it applied to visions of dead people returned to life.
(3036) Bible contaminated by pseudepigraphical works
If a God was monitoring and auditing the book that he intended to leave for humankind, it seems reasonable to assume that he would have left out letters written by people fraudulently claiming to be someone they were not. This is a problem facing Christianity with respect to letters claiming to be from Paul but which clearly were written by someone else. The inclusion of these pseudepigraphical letters also has the effect of contaminating Christian doctrine, as explained below:
There is significant scholarly debate about whether or not 6 of the 13 letters in the New Testament attributed to Paul were actually written by Paul. Of those 6, 3 of them were almost certainly not written by Paul (1/2 Timothy and Titus, often called the “pastoral” epistles).
In P. N. Harrison’s The Problem of the Pastorals, Harrison demonstrates by statistical analysis that the language in the Pastoral epistles differs significantly from the rest of Paul’s authentic corpus, repeatedly using words and phrases that appear nowhere else in the letters we’re pretty sure were written by Paul.
In the Pastorals, “Paul” also describes a level of church organization that probably didn’t exist within (the actual) Paul’s lifetime, for instance referring to bishops as leaders rather than apostles. Whenever they were written, the Christian church already had a sophisticated hierarchy consisting of bishops and deacons and stringent requirements around who qualified for these offices. The author of the pastorals also betrays his non-Jewishness by focusing only on the gentile church, and doesn’t seem to have a theology in which Israel is the centerpiece and the location of Christ’s eventual (imminent) return (contra Romans 9-11). Furthermore, he barely seems to talk about the Parousia at all (and where he does it seems to have lost its imminence), which was a central concern of Paul’s theology (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4-5, 1 Corinthians 15, Philippians 3:20-21)
For me, the biggest nail in the coffin for non-Pauline authorship of the Pastorals is the teachings regarding women in the church. In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, “Paul” commands women not to teach and to be silent in church, but in his authentic letters, Paul commends several women leaders and says that at least one, a woman he calls Junia is “prominent among the apostles.” He tells women to prophecy, which definitionally places them in a position of spiritual authority over the men who are to take heed of what they say. The one instance in Paul’s authentic letters where we do see the more patriarchal message (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) is probably a later interpolation. You can test this by removing the parenthetical from the passage to see if it still reads coherently (surprise, it actually makes the rest of the chapter flow more smoothly).
So yeah, it’s my view that all the churches that forbid women from holding leadership roles are doing so based on teachings from pseudepigraphical letters that were not written by Paul. I guess the debate as to whether or not these can be inspired scripture doesn’t completely hinge on Pauline authorship, but I still think most Christians would have a problem with the notion a book claiming to be written by Paul was written by someone else. Basically no one today thinks Hebrews was written by Paul or that we can even identify the author (the author never identifies himself), but that’s not too big an issue that impacts whether or not it should be considered inspired scripture. To me, it would seem to be much more problematic when we have an author claiming to be someone he is not–is lying compatible with the author’s work being inspired?
One of the most important pieces of evidence supporting Christianity is the Bible, and it is for all intents and purposes the only tangible evidence available. It would be expected that God would ensure that this unique and critical ‘proof-test’ of Christianity would not contain fraudulent works. That this is not the case throws doubt on the existence of this god.
(3037) Apologetics out of control
One of the ways to realize the desperation of Christian defenders is when they propose ridiculous solutions to difficult problems. The following is a good example:
When I was in seminary many years ago, I once pointed out to our distinguished but ultra-conservative professor of New Testament theology that, according to Matthew 27:5, Judas Iscariot hanged himself whereas, according to Acts 1:18, he purchased a field, fell headlong into it, and “burst asunder.” I pointed out that these passages are inconsistent and cannot both be true. One cannot hang oneself and then purchase a field and die falling into it. Or vice versa. With a forced smile that seemed to say “I’ve heard it all before,” he strode to the chalkboard, drew a picture of a tree located at the edge of a sharp cliff with one branch jutting out over the precipice, and then learnedly explained that a man might very well have hanged himself from such a tree; that his weight might very well have caused the branch to snap; and that such a man, having hanged himself, might very well have plummeted to the ground, branch and all, and “burst asunder” in what might very well have been the field he had previously purchased.
I could hardly believe my ears. After all, this was seminary, not the amateur hour. I resisted the mad impulse to ask, amid all these “might very well haves,” what would have ever prompted Judas to climb such an inconveniently located tree, creep precariously to the end of its suicide-inviting branch, secure a piece of rope to it as well as to himself, and hang himself; not to mention, how the branch managed to defy the laws of physics by thoughtfully waiting to snap until all these elaborate preparations were complete. Instead, I courteously replied, “Thank you, sir.” It was obvious to me, but to none of my utterly convinced classmates, that here was a man who was prepared to say anything, no matter how absurd, than admit that these passages are inconsistent. I left his classroom wondering whether theologians could be sued for malpractice.
There is a human tendency to protect a cherished belief at all costs, and sometimes, as above, the cost is your dignity. The failure of Christian apologists to admit the errors in the Bible is a good clue that Christianity runs on a level of clueless fantasy.
(3038) Christianity’s sinister use of money
A religion that is purportedly not of this world, and steadfastly non-materialistic, is nevertheless deeply mired in a money game- a game that works remarkably well to perpetuate its world dominance at that expense of its victims. Here are three ways how money furthers the goals of Christianity:
1) First, and most obvious, extracting money from its followers allows construction of churches, cathedrals, TV, and social media, and pays the salaries (some extravagant) of preachers along with authors, choir directors, deacons, and so on. This, together, builds an immense and impregnable edifice of ecclesiastical power.
2) By encouraging its followers to donate one-tenth of their income to the church, over a bit of time, this adds up to a lot of money. Once an individual has sunk this much money into an ‘investment’ it is very difficult to just walk away from it. So, the practice of tithing is a very useful tool for keeping (even doubting) people in the fold… and continuing to tithe.
3) Most people at best can save about 10 percent of their income for retirement or off-normal expenses. So tithing works to keep people poor. This means fewer vacations (and more trips to church), fewer possessions (boats, golf, or the like that can take people away from attending church), and more dependence on prayer and church-based support. Fewer worldly distractions allows for more time in church or Bible study.
The fact that Christianity needs so much money to perpetuate its existence is a good indication that it is not the project of a celestial deity, but rather a concoction of worldly and often greedy minds. If money is necessary to keep your religion afloat, it is a good clue that it is not being ‘run’ by an omnipotent god.
(3039) Christians reversing the burden of proof
Among atheists it is well understood that a lack of a belief in the Christian god does not require a rigid justification. Simply refer to the lack of evidence. But in the theist world, the de facto expectation is belief without any thinking or analysis required- rather, disingenuously, they assert that unbelief needs an exacting proof. The following was taken from:
Take any specific religion. How much is someone expected to know about the religion to be able to claim they follow it or are members of it? The answer is very low. They’re encouraged to always learn more, but it’s not like they’re not a true insert religion until they’re complete experts. Heck, even small children or toddlers are considered members. A 4 year old is often enough deemed a member of a religion. The bar for determining if a religion is true is low. Nobody in the religion demands that the four year old justify in extreme detail how they know it’s true.
Now, take any specific religion. How much is someone expected to know if they want to claim the religion is false? You are expected to be an expert, and even then the bar always seems to be raised higher and higher. If the religion has a holy text, then you better have read and memorized the entire thing and you better be aware of the various apologetics and scholarly interpretations of each passage.
Any way you slice it, the bar for claiming the religion is true is so low that it’s basically in the earth’s core, but the bar for claiming it’s false is so high that we don’t currently have a strong enough space program to reach it.
This is intentional. Becoming a theist is made easy by the other theists. Critical thinking is encouraged but not mandatory. For someone who wants to leave theism and claim it’s false or at least that there’s not enough reason to claim it’s true, it’s expected that they basically have multiple doctorates before anyone will even consider them worth acknowledging. The standard applied to get you into the group is low. The standard applied if you want to leave the group is high.
Take Christianity, for example. Imagine someone says they’re a Christian and that Christianity is true. This person has never read the Bible. They’ve only heard it read and preached about. They don’t know any theodicies or apologetics. They just know the basic stuff about Jesus and praying and whatnot.
For most of Christianity’s history, the person I just described was most Christians. Even today, most Christians would be slow to say those people aren’t actually Christians, and no Christian would say they’re wrong for thinking Christianity is true.
Given this is the standard for claiming Christianity is true, it should be clear how the standard for the opposite claim is unfairly high.
It is unreasonable for a theist to hold atheists to such a high standard unless they hold their fellow theists and themselves to an equally high standard.
Shifting the burden of proof is a tactic used only when defending a concept that is poorly supported by evidence. Thus, when employed, it is a telling indication that the subject concept is false.
(3040) Jesus symbolism spoiled by assigning him divinity
For several reasons, making Jesus into a god was a mistake made by early Christians. One of these reasons probably went completely over their heads- it reduced, or even decimated, the faith symbol that Jesus could have been had he remained a regular human. The following was taken from:
Jesus’ worth as a symbol of faith and as an example for man would be much greater in the absence of his divine status as part of the trinity.
As an atheist it always seemed to me that Jesus’ example in what I know of his history would have had a greater meaning is he was not divine but simply a chosen or champion of man. His trials, tribulations and temptations don’t look as impressive if seen with the eyes of someone who only needs unyielding faith in himself. His forgiveness of Judas’ betrayal is not meaningful as he had foreknowledge of it, and since he knew it would ultimately bring to the salvation of man. His suffering and sacrifice don’t seem a big deal when he know he’ll be transfigured soon after his death.
All of this would have been an impressive show of faith by any man, but Jesus’ divinity means that ultimately his faith is in himself, ruining his symbolic meaning for man. At least in the eyes of an unbeliever, it would have been a much more significant story if he were simply brought forth as a champion of man, whose unbreakable faith was ultimately rewarded by God with salvation for all.
By keeping Jesus as a human only, Christianity could have remained monotheistic and Jesus’ response to his trials and tribulations could have remained a worthy example for everyone. Instead, by making him into a god, all of that is lost- Christianity became polytheistic (with apologies to the trinity silliness) and Jesus’ ‘sacrifice’ was made into a sham.
(3041) Brain circuit for spirituality
Scientists have discovered a primitive (evolutionarily speaking) brain region that appears to control an individual’s level of religious belief. By studying patients with brain lesions, it was found that when those lesions affected negating circuits (neurons that tend to restrict signals emanating from this area) religious belief soared, while lesions that injured the positive reinforcing circuits caused a decrease in religiosity. The following was taken from:
More than 80 percent of people around the world consider themselves to be religious or spiritual. But research on the neuroscience of spirituality and religiosity has been sparse. Previous studies have used functional neuroimaging, in which an individual undergoes a brain scan while performing a task to see what areas of the brain light up. But these correlative studies have given a spotty and often inconsistent picture of spirituality.
A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital takes a new approach to mapping spirituality and religiosity and finds that spiritual acceptance can be localized to a specific brain circuit. This brain circuit is centered in the periaqueductal gray (PAG), a brainstem region that has been implicated in numerous functions, including fear conditioning, pain modulation, altruistic behaviors and unconditional love. The team’s findings are published in Biological Psychiatry.
“Our results suggest that spirituality and religiosity are rooted in fundamental, neurobiological dynamics and deeply woven into our neuro-fabric,” said corresponding author Michael Ferguson, PhD, a principal investigator in the Brigham’s Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics. “We were astonished to find that this brain circuit for spirituality is centered in one of the most evolutionarily preserved structures in the brain.”
To conduct their study, Ferguson and colleagues used a technique called lesion network mapping that allows investigators to map complex human behaviors to specific brain circuits based on the locations of brain lesions in patients. The team leveraged a previously published dataset that included 88 neurosurgical patients who were undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. Lesion locations were distributed throughout the brain. Patients completed a survey that included questions about spiritual acceptance before and after surgery. The team validated their results using a second dataset made up of more than 100 patients with lesions caused by penetrating head trauma from combat during the Vietnam War. These participants also completed questionnaires that included questions about religiosity (such as, “Do you consider yourself a religious person? Yes or No?”).
Of the 88 neurosurgical patients, 30 showed a decrease in self-reported spiritual belief before and after neurosurgical brain tumor resection, 29 showed an increase, and 29 showed no change. Using lesion network mapping, the team found that self-reported spirituality mapped to a specific brain circuit centered on the PAG. The circuit included positive nodes and negative nodes — lesions that disrupted these respective nodes either decreased or increased self-reported spiritual beliefs. Results on religiosity from the second dataset aligned with these findings. In addition, in a review of the literature, the researchers found several case reports of patients who became hyper-religious after experiencing brain lesions that affected the negative nodes of the circuit.
Lesion locations associated with other neurological and psychiatric symptoms also intersected with the spirituality circuit. Specifically, lesions causing parkinsonism intersected positive areas of the circuit, as did lesions associated with decreased spirituality. Lesions causing delusions and alien limb syndrome intersected with negative regions, associated with increased spirituality and religiosity.
It is interesting to note that religious beliefs are centered in an area of the brain that developed early in the evolutionary process (particularly in areas that process fear responses), and not in areas that came about later, such as the neocortex. This suggests that religion is a deep-seated human trait that they likely share in some respect with earlier primates. What should concern Christians is that brain injuries can either increase or decrease a person’s level of religious belief depending on the exact location of the corresponding lesions. This appears to mean that for some brain-injured people their ultimate fate under Christianity is subject to a random lottery system.
(3042) Religious switching
If Christianity is true, it would be expected that very few people raised in this faith would leave, and that many more raised without religion would join Christianity, simply because the real world signs of its truth would be compelling. The data shows the opposite. Many more people on a percentage basis leave Christianity after being raised in a Christian family than people who join it after being raised in a non-religious family. The following was taken from:
Along with other sources of change in the religious composition of the U.S. (like immigration and differential fertility or mortality rates), understanding patterns of religious switching is central to making sense of the trends observed in American religion. And perhaps the best way to assess the impact of switching on the composition of the U.S. religious landscape is to consider the ratio of the number of people who have joined each religious group to the number of people who have left. After all, every religious tradition ultimately loses some of the people who were raised within its fold, and every tradition (including the unaffiliated) gains some members who join its ranks after having been raised in a different group.
Looked at this way, the data clearly show that part of the reason the religious “nones” have grown rapidly in recent decades is that they continue to be the single biggest destination of movement across religious boundaries. Nearly one-in-five American adults (18%) were raised in a religion and are now unaffiliated, compared with just 4% who have moved in the other direction. In other words, for every person who has left the unaffiliated and now identifies with a religious group more than four people have joined the ranks of the religious “nones.”
Although most ad populum arguments are flawed, this one has some merit because it directly compares the inflow to the outflow of the unaffiliated population. This ratio reflects to some extent the strength and quality of personal experience and objective evidence pertaining to Christianity’s validity. A ratio of 18 to 4 in the opposite direction is a sign that Christianity lacks the ground game it should possess if it was true.
(3043) Dispelling the relevancy of 2 Peter 1:20-21
Christians often cite this scripture to buttress their argument that the Bible, in total, is inspired by God:
‘No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’
But there are many problems with this assertion. The following was taken from:
…we are left with 2 Peter 1:20-21—a passage which can also be disposed of very quickly on purely textual grounds. Before doing that, however, it is worth pointing out that this letter is full of problems. To begin with, it is highly doubtful that it was written by Simon Peter and is in all likelihood a pseudonymous work. Its authorship has been questioned from the first century on. It was not accepted as genuine by Eusebius. It was not included in the Marcion canon—the first attempt by a Christian to assemble a canon. It was the last book to be admitted into the final New Testament canon. And its authorship is still questioned by most mainstream New Testament theologians and scholars today.
This remains true in spite of the fact that the author claims to have been an eyewitness of the Transfiguration of Jesus and of his life generally (1:16-18). However, if Peter was not the author of this letter, whoever the author was lied about being an eyewitness; and if he lied about that, he might have lied about other things as well, e.g., when he said that holy men of old were inspired by the Holy Ghost to write the Old Testament Scriptures. If he was prepared to pretend that he was Peter to invest his letter with more authority, he might also have been prepared to pretend that the books of the Old Testament were inspired by the Holy Ghost to give them more authority.
The author of 2 Peter is devious in yet another way. To put a stop to grumbling about the fact that “the day of the Lord” (v. 10)—i.e., the promised second coming of Jesus—had still not taken place, he resorts to a piece of verbal trickery:
[B]e not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (3:8-9).
In other words, even if Jesus does not return for a thousand years (or more), his promise to return “soon” has not been broken. What is a long time for us is as one day for God. This ridiculous explanation reveals how far Christians were already prepared to go in the first century to evade embarrassing facts. It also reveals that the author of this letter was not an eyewitness. If he had been, he would have known that Jesus did not promise to return some day-—possibly not for one or two thousand years—but before the present generation has passed (Matthew 10:23, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32). Clearly, the author of this letter was not present. As if that were not enough, he also borrowed most of the book of Jude—some of it word for word—and passed it off as his own in chapter two. So in addition to being a liar, he was a plagiarist—an ironic tidbit in view of his vehement denunciation of the many “false prophets” who had sprung up and an excellent reason for not relying on 2 Peter 1:20-21 to prove the inspiration of the Bible.
The fundamental textual mistake in using this passage as a proof of that is the fact that the author is talking about Old Testament prophets and them alone. His point is that these prophets did not speak their own words— express a “private interpretation” (idias epiluseos)—but were “moved” (pheromenoi)—a word that means were “carried along,” as the waves carry a ship—by the Holy Ghost. Like Paul, the author of 2 Peter had no idea that his letter would one day be part of something called the New Testament canon and regarded as holy writ.
Using this scripture to evidence-out a claim of the Bible’s divinely-inspired pedigree runs into two problems- the fact that the book itself is claiming its own value and that this scripture was written by an impostor. This renders it useless in any argument regarding whether or not the Bible contains writings that are the products of God’s influence.
(3044) The Thomas Paine challenge
Philosophy professor John Beversluis devised a challenge for his students to read the book ‘The Age of Reason’ authored by Thomas Paine, and to document its faults. The results were revealing. The following was taken from:
If you use Thomas Paines’s The Age of Reason as a required textbook in a Philosophy of Religion course, as I have done for many years, your students will not eagerly devour its contents and shower you with tears of gratitude for providing them with this eye-opening experience of what is really in the book they revere as the inspired Word of God. Nor will they be shamed by the astonishingly detailed knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments that Paine and Jefferson possessed. On the contrary, when such students are required to read The Age of Reason and to discuss it in class, they become (by degrees) irritated, belligerent, and finally downright angry. Inter-Varsity and Campus Crusade for Christ types are the most vocal and the most argumentative.
I welcome (and even solicit) their objections. Having heard them out, my response is always the same: “I didn’t write The Age of Reason; Thomas Paine did. Is he wrong? Did he misrepresent what the Bible says? I don’t think so. But don’t take my word for it. Go home and read your own Bibles. Check him out. If you can find a single passage that he has misquoted or manufactured or misinterpreted, write an essay in which you convincingly demonstrate his error(s) and I will give you a grade of “A” for the course and urge you to submit your essay for publication in a reputable philosophical or religious journal with my enthusiastic recommendation.” I have been teaching philosophy for 42 years and during that time no Paine-incensed student has ever submitted such an essay. The reason is clear: The Age of Reason is accurate and his documentation is irrefutable.
This story reveals how Christian faith is not based on facts, analysis, or objective evidence but rather on feelings, hopes, and dreams. Most Christians form a strongman view of the Bible in their minds and then must tread lightly around the scriptures to avoid losing this image. It is like visiting a criminal’s home and deliberately not looking in the closets.
(3045) Jesus was a dick
Although Christians like to think of Jesus as a hero, a perfect person, and a paragon of virtue, the gospels tell another story. Sure, it is possible to select some scriptures and construct the favored Christian view, but it is equally easy to find scriptures that tell the opposite. And here is the rub. If Jesus was this great person, why are there so many scriptures that contradict that fact? And further, if it is all made up, and Jesus is a fictional person, why portray him having such disappointing qualities? Generally speaking, combining answers to these two questions yields the following conclusion- if Jesus was real, he really was a dick. The following was taken from:
Let’s face it. Jesus is a dick.
The Gospels portray him as a cruel, sociopathic asshole who gloats over millions being horribly tortured for billions of years at his command (Mk. 9:43-49, Mt. 13:40-42, Mt. 13:49-50, Mt. 18:7-9, Mt. 24:51, Mt. 25:40-46, Mt. 5:22, Lk. 13:23-34, Jn. 15:6, etc.) and to whom he shall never ever show even the minutest mercy (Lk. 16:22-29); who calls racial minorities dogs (Mk. 7:24-29); who murders thousands of pigs (Mk. 5:12-13), and doesn’t even say he’s sorry to the town that in result just lost its livelihood and the better part of their food supply; a guy who is so horrifically disgusted by sex he tells people to cut off their own limbs, eyes, and genitals before even so much as thinking a sexual thought (Mt. 5:27-30, Mt. 18:7-9, Mk. 9:43-49, Mt. 19:10-12); who endorses the legal execution of anyone who divorces and remarries (Mt. 5:31-32, Mt. 19:3-10), even of children who talk back to their parents (Mk. 7:7-13), and, let’s be honest (Mt. 5:17-20), even gay men and raped women (and countless others; Jesus loved killing, and was in fact convicted of the very death penalty offense he himself supported—an irony lost on pretty much every Christian then or since); who not only never condemns slavery but actually endorses it as a moral model God should be admired for following (e.g. Mt. 18:23-35, Mt. 24:44-51, Mt. 25:14-30, Lk. 17:7-9, Lk. 12:36-48); who has scary paranoid rage issues even with his closest friends (Mt. 16:21-23, Mk. 8:31-33)—even to the point of committing mass public violence (yes, Jesus is literally a criminal; and not because he was falsely convicted, but because he actually committed felony assault: Jn. 2:13-16, Mk. 11:15–16, Mt. 21:12, Lk. 19:45); and who arrogantly commands you to abandon and hate your family in order to follow him instead (Lk. 14:26, Mt. 10:34-37, Mt. 8:21-22, Lk. 9:59-60)—literally boasting that he shall tear families apart (Lk. 12:51-53, Mk. 10:29-30, Mt. 19:29). He never unites or reconciles any family. Not a single intact family ever follows or befriends him. He even tells his own family to fuck off (Mk. 3:32-35). And despite being able to eradicate all disease, he eradicates not even one of them—despite visiting a planet where more than half of all children die of one. Like I said. A total dick.
If Jesus was a great person, the scriptures almost certainly would have reflected this fact, and none of what is listed above would exist in the gospels. So, if real, he must have been a real dick. On the other hand, if Jesus was made up, then we have to wonder why the gospel authors made him out to be so disgusting. We can only contemplate that two thousand years ago there was a different standard for exemplary behavior. Perhaps then, this sort of conduct was more acceptable. But in modern times, it has worn dangerous thin, leaving Jesus’ reputation among Christians contingent on them not reading the gospels.
(3046) Two Thomas’s destroy Christianity
Dispelling the myth that the founding fathers of the United States were evangelical Christians are select quotes from Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. They were deists and would be considered functional atheists by today’s evangelicals. The following was taken from:
First, the stories are often derived from pagan mythology. Paine writes:
[Jesus] was born at a time when the heathen mythology had still some fashion and repute in the world, and that mythology had prepared people for the belief of such a story. Almost all the extraordinary men that lived under the heathen mythology were reported to be the sons of some of their gods. It was not a new thing to have been celestially begotten; the intercourse of gods with women was then a matter of familiar opinion. (p. 53)
Second, the alleged events narrated in the story are scientifically impossible and credible only to the ignorant, the naïve, and the simple:
Were any girl that is now with child to say . . . that she was begotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? Certainly she would not. Why, then, are we to believe the same thing of another girl, whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where? (p. 160)
Third, the alleged claims are incoherent and irrational to the point of being unintelligible to the rational person. Jefferson writes:
No on sees with greater pleasure than myself the progress of reason in its advances towards rational Christianity. When we shall have done with the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we have knocked down the artificial scaffolding, reared to mask from view the simple structure of Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since his day, and got back to the pure and simple doctrines he inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily his disciples . . . The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies, and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable as to shock reasonable thinkers. (Letter to Timothy Pickering, February 27, 1821 (Cousins, p. 157)
The truth is, that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those, calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. (Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 Cousins, p. 289)
Before moving on, I cannot refrain from asking two questions. First, how do the highly vocal and ebulliently confident leaders at the forefront of Christian Reconstructionism reconcile passages like these from the writings of Thomas Jefferson with their own resounding assurances that, like the other founding fathers of America, he was a devout Christian who wanted America to be based on Christian principles? With few exceptions, the founding fathers are on record as being deists and, in some cases, as detesting Christianity. Second, have these militant Christian leaders who presume to instruct the American public about the founding fathers (and about what they allegedly believed and intended) ever actually read their writings?
The fourth criterion used by Paine and Jefferson is that the alleged events reported in the synoptic Gospels are not supported by adequate and publicly available evidence. Paine was very adamant about this:
A thing which everybody is required to believe requires that the proof and evidence of it should be equal to all . . . Instead of this, a small number of persons . . . are introduced as proxies for the whole world to say they saw it, and all the rest of the world are called upon to believe it. But it appears that Thomas did not believe the resurrection, and, as they say, would not believe without ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas. (p. 54)
Jefferson and Paine elicit points that undermine the architecture of Christian apologetics, and at a time before science had diminished the authenticity of many biblical fables (such as creationism, the Exodus, and the Flood). It brings to light the fact that simple observation, in the absence of advanced science, is adequate to shine a light on the falsity of Christianity.
(3047) Explanations for unanswered prayers are absurd
Perhaps Christianity’s most vulnerable area, its Achilles Heel if you wish, is the fact that prayers always seem to go unanswered minus a statistically-explained positivity rate based on pure chance. Usually, the apologetic argument is along the lines of God knows best and will deliver the right response at the right time. Of course, this would seem to suggest that you really don’t need to pray at all. A corollary is that your prayer is often the second best solution to your problem while God knows the best one and will give it to you at the perfect time. This is absurd. The following was taken from:
Christians will always say that the reason why your prayers for needs go unanswered because ‘God loves you too much to give you 2nd best. He only wants to give you the best’ or ‘God will answer your prayer in His own perfect timing. One day when he answers, you will agree that the timing is perfect too’.
Here is the problem; Christian doctrine says that a prayer is only for the benefit of us humans because God is omnipotent. He doesn’t need humans to pray in order to act on anything at all. Therefore when we pray to god, it is to strengthen our own faith and spirituality. If indeed prayers and answered prayers are for our own benefit, I find no reason for God not to give us the 2nd best.
As an analogy, imagine you are a kid and you wanted a balloon. Your father thinks that a ball would be a better present for you because it will last longer than a balloon. When he tells you that having a ball is better than a balloon as a present, you make a fuss and insist on a balloon. A loving Dad would just give a balloon to the kid because after all, the objective the present is for the kid to feel joy. Would it matter if the ball does last longer? Even if the kid does not have the rationality to think as how the dad thinks, at that moment, the balloon would really give him more joy than the ball.
Similarly, if prayers and answered prayers are solely for our own good, I find it no reason for God not to give us 2nd best. In fact, trying to comfort a grieving mother who lost her child even though she prayed for god to save the child from cancer that ‘god loves her too much to give her second best’ is absolutely stupid.
If humans were objective when it comes to religion, Christianity would have long since been discarded as the promise of prayer was observed to be profoundly missing. The faithful hunger for their ‘second-best’ solution; meanwhile the ‘best’ is never forthcoming. It takes a lot of brainwashing and rationalization to not see what is going on.
(3048) Angel fantasy
It is enlightening to study the Bible to see what people imagined when describing what are commonly known as angels. In today’s scientific world, most people realize that angels do not exist, but in biblical times, for several reasons, there was a widespread belief in these ephemeral creatures. The following lists the four different types of angels and their ranking:
According to the Bible, there are different types of angels which surround God. Maimonides, a Jewish scholar from the 12th century, ranked these beings in terms of importance in the hierarchy of Heaven. What arises is a description of four beings from that hierarchy that have been explained in detail in scripture, and the historical circumstances around their conceptualization.
The Cherubim, later shortened to Cherub, is the lowest in rank among the four. The Bible describes these beings as animal-human hybrids, tasked with guarding the garden of Eden against humankind.
In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet’s vision depicts them as having four faces: that of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a human. They have straight legs, four wings, and bull hooves for feet that gleam like polished brass. One set of wings covers their body, and the other is used for flight.
This description is far from how we imagine the Cherub now. While scholars credit its modern-day image to Greek and Roman deities like Cupid, they attribute the detail in the Bible to cultural exchanges with ancient Babylonia, Syria, and Egypt. The Cherub’s function of guarding sacred places and their mixed appearance is similar to that of the Babylonian Lamassu, Egyptian Sphynx, and Hittite Griffin.
The term Angel comes from the Greek word Angelos, which originated from the Hebrew word for messenger, Mal’ akh. The Malakim are messengers of God and are the closest looking to us humans. They are third in rank among the four.
In the Old Testament, they acted on God’s behalf, as did the angel of death in the Passover story or Michael, the archangel who protects heaven. In the New Testament, they often acted as messengers, like Gabriel, who told Marry of her immaculate conception. These named angels are often the ones people think of when asked to imagine one.
However, while the Malakim looked like human beings, there was no mention of them having wings in the Bible.
The earliest known Christian image of an angel from the mid-third century was without wings. It wasn’t until the late fourth century that artists reimagined angels with the possession of wings. According to some researchers, this was done to represent their sublime nature, despite artists knowing that scripture did not describe them as having wings.
According to the prophet Isaiah, the Seraphim is an angelic being that surrounds the throne of God singing “holy, holy, holy” in unison to God’s approach. The prophet describes them as having six wings, two of which are for flying, while they use the rest to cover their heads and feet. Seraphim are second highest in rank according to Maimonides’s angelic hierarchy.
One may trace the historical influences for the Seraphim from its name. Seraphim derives from the Hebrew word “Seraph,” which means “to burn” in English. Digging deeper, the Hebrew word “Saraph” means “venomous desert snake”. In ancient Egypt, people referred to the cobra as “the flaming one.” Its icon was called Uraeus, and it usually adorned the Pharoah’s headpiece.
Several historians speculate that the authors of the Old Testament derived Seraphim’s wings and flames from Egyptian imagery and associations with the cobra.
The Ophanim, or “the wheels,” is arguably the most bizarre being in the Bible. Ezekiel’s account in the Bible describes them as beings made out of interlocking gold wheels with each wheel’s exterior covered with multiple eyes. They move by floating themselves in the sky. As the highest in Maimonides’s hierarchy, they are tasked with guarding God’s throne.
There is no exact historical origin for the Ophanim. Josef F. Blumrich, a former NASA employee, theorized that Ezekiel’s vision of the wheels and other angels might have been a UFO sighting. However, critics label him as a conspiracy theorist.
Nevertheless, other authors claim that an ingested psychedelic substance caused the prophet’s vision. Scholars have also proposed that the image was merely a metaphor for God’s mystery.
It’s interesting to take a step back and observe the conception of these beings from a secular standpoint. Centuries of culture, geography, and history have shaped what we have collectively forgotten and re-imagined as angels.
It is not a far reach to state that if the Bible did not mention angels, it would have a much stronger claim of being a factual document. Instead, it is populated throughout with these obviously fictional creatures. This gives us a good reason not to take anything in the Bible too seriously.
(3049) Luke was the first apologist
There is a clue in the gospels of Mark and Luke that let’s us know that early Christians believed in an immediate return of Jesus, while a few decades later, this expectation was watered down, mainly because Jesus had not returned in the time frame originally assumed. Luke, writing perhaps 20 years after Mark, tries to explain this unexpected delay. The following was taken from:
Loftus also discusses Luke 17:20-21, which seems to be an attempt to tone things down, in terms of the immediacy of the kingdom:
“Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you.”
What was Luke up to? He was the ultimate defender of the early Jesus cult, as we can see from his warning that divided loyalties were not acceptable, e.g., Luke 14:26, hatred of families was required to be a disciple. Luke’s gospel was likely written two or three decades after Mark, so there might have been disappointment that the kingdom hadn’t shown up. How to modify expectations? “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed…”
What a change! This is not what the author of Mark 13 had in mind:
“But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:24-26)
Luke was the author of the Book of Acts as well, and Loftus notes that in Acts 3:21 Peter is given this script, that Jesus “…must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.” Luke was in a bind, but as most theologians do—he had to make things up. Again, Loftus’ comment:
“So according to what the author of Acts tells us, by putting these specific words on the lips of Peter, the eschaton was not supposed to happen in Peter’s lifetime, but rather sometime in the future. What started out as an urgent call to action based upon an immediate eschaton has now been altered to cover up a failed prophecy.” And this is hardly a surprise: “Such talk of an immediate eschaton is completely removed in John’s Gospel.”
It is an interesting quirk of history that Christianity was able to survive the failure of Jesus to return as expected in the lifetime of its earliest followers. This became the very first mission of apologists- to explain why this was not a problem. Luke was the first Christian apologist, leading a dubious industry the has continued for the past twenty centuries.
(3050) Elevating belief over skepticism
Christianity has done a brilliant job of training people to believe sectarian claims that are extremely weakly evidenced, and has discouraged the use of critical thinking or skepticism for the same. This is demonically deceitful and used as a tool only because of the pitiful lack of supporting evidence. The following was taken from:
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – Carl Sagan
For the average religious person, the world is full of the unseen supernatural. Angels flutter to and fro. Demons shuffle in the dark. The lost souls of the dead still linger. The dead might live once again. The devil’s schemes; and God pulls the strings. To them the world is teeming with unknown things of unimaginable majesty and terror. They imagine the world as being packed with the supernatural, and from some they recoil in fear, and to others they fall on their knees and worship. Most religious people take these things for granted, and, without sufficient evidence, just assume that they are real.
As well, some people who describe themselves as non-religious still see the world in this way. These people label themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” They may believe in any number of supernatural entities, including, but not limited to: devils, demons, angels, fairies, magic, gods, djinns, ghosts, goblins, astrology, alchemy, etc.. For some of them, their world is just as full of the supernatural as the average religious person’s. The unknown supernatural, to them, is still something to regard with fear or veneration.
For the average skeptic, the world is still full of the unknown, but their unknown is much different than that of the average religious or “spiritual” person. Our unknown is ultimately knowable, through much laborious and scientific research and study. Unlike the unknown of the spiritual and the religious, the unknown to a skeptic is daunting but not scary. Neither is it something to worship and stand in awe of. It is something to puzzle out; to attempt to make known of the unknown. To a skeptic, until evidence is presented of something supernatural, or beyond nature, we will withhold belief and work under the assumption that only the natural world exists. Until such a time, we see no reason to believe in the supernatural.
Your average skeptic is also an atheist. We apply the rationale of skepticism to the extraordinary claims of gods’ existence, and find the evidence lacking. Most of us have examined a large portion of the evidence and argumentation for and against the existence of the supernatural and are not convinced. A significant percentage of us did not start with the assumption that God is not real, but started out as religious and, after allowing doubt and skepticism to creep in, decided that we were no longer convinced of supernatural claims. For now, the supernatural lies not just in the realm of the unknown, but in the realm of the unknowable.
My point is that skepticism should always rule over superstition and supernatural beliefs. Supernatural beliefs should never be given the de facto privilege of assumption. If someone tells you that they have seen a ghost, your first reaction should not be immediate belief, but immediate skepticism. The same goes for any and all supernatural beliefs. Your belief should be something that is hard-won through rational skepticism, inquiry, and research; not things that you just assume to be true because somebody, somewhere, sometime told you so.
Christians are typically skeptical of everything other than their religious faith. This is not an accident. Most of them have been trained from birth to ignore any evidence that runs contrary to the faith. At the same time, they are usually told to be skeptical of any other idea or product. The only reason for this juxtaposition of credulity is that they are selling you a fraudulent product and they know it.
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