(3101) Obsolete sexism

The Bible is replete with rules and opinions regarding gender issues that are spectacularly out of date with modern standards. This has to be considered a major problem- why would a book inspired by an infinite intelligence not anticipate the evolution of sexual ethics over the ensuing centuries that this same god must have known was coming? The following was taken from:


Even today, churches continue to maintain explicitly sexist stances toward women, based on biblical passages like 1 Timothy 2:12 which say that women must never be allowed to hold positions of authority over men. Women still aren’t allowed to be ordained as priests or hold leadership positions within Christianity’s largest denominations (nor are they allowed to become rabbis in Orthodox Judaism). In fact, in 2010 the Vatican declared the attempted ordination of a woman to be as grave a crime as child molestation. And the biblical passages that form the basis of these policies – like 1 Peter 3:7, which says that women are the weaker sex, and 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, which says that women were created to serve men, not the other way around – are also used to justify the subjugation of women in daily life, not just in the Church hierarchy. According to Genesis 3:16 and Ephesians 5:22, women must remain subordinate to their husbands (“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. […] Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”); and according to Titus 2:5, the role of women is “to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Verses like these have led many Christians to maintain strict “biblical gender roles” or “biblical patriarchy” within their households and communities, which, as Michael Farris explains, involves adopting ideas like “women should not vote, […] higher education is not important for women, [and] unmarried adult women are subject to their fathers’ authority.” And predictably, this ideology of male supremacy has also facilitated things like physical abuse, emotional abuse, and rape. Men who believe that their wives are divinely obligated to give them whatever they want, when faced with situations where their wives are refusing them, are more likely to just take what they want by force, since they feel morally justified in doing so. An excerpt from the Biblical Gender Roles website provides a glimpse into the kind of mindset at work here:

Biblically speaking the modern concept of “marital rape” is an oxymoron. It is impossible from a Biblical perspective for a man to rape his wife. The Bible defines unlawful forced sex or what we would call rape as when a man forces a woman who is not married to him to have sex with him see Deuteronomy 22:23-29 for more on this. God condones forced sex in marriage in Deuteronomy 21:10-14 and he symbolizes himself as a husband who “humbles” his wife Israel in Deuteronomy 8:2-3. For more on this subject see my article “Why the Bible Allows Forced Sex in Marriage”.

It is much easier to assume that the Bible reflects the morality of its time rather than it presents a window into the mind of God. Imagine if instead the Bible promoted the idea of gender equality in an era where this concept was quite foreign. That would be good evidence for its divine imprimatur. But no, it’s simply mired in the muddy waters of a benighted stage of human evolution which shows with near certainly that it enjoyed no input beyond that of strictly human minds.

(3102) Yahweh fails to communicate his uniqueness

In what should destroy anyone’s faith in Judeo-Christian theology, the Bible and other sources indicate quite clearly that Yahweh was just one of many gods believed by the Israelites. If Yahweh is the only god in town, it is implausible to believe that he would not have disabused his chosen people of their belief in non-existent gods. Yahweh failed to inform his followers that there were no other gods but himself. The following was taken from:


The history of Yahweh’s evolution as a deity is actually really fascinating when you dig into it. See, in the early days of the Israelite religion, the concept of monotheism didn’t exist yet – so Yahweh wasn’t considered to be “the one and only God;” the Israelites acknowledged the existence of rival gods as well (like Baal, Chemosh, Moloch, etc.). They still worshiped Yahweh alone, of course; but it wasn’t because they considered him to be the only god that existed – rather, it was because he was the patron deity of their particular tribe and they considered him to be superior to other tribes’ gods. This system of “belief in the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity” is known as monolatrism (not to be confused with regular polytheism), and evidence of it can be found throughout the Old Testament. Psalm 86:8, for instance, says, “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord.” Psalm 135:5 says, “Our Lord is above all gods.” Exodus 15:11 and Deuteronomy 3:24 ask, “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? […] What God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works?” And Exodus 18:11 says, “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods.” Other verses say that the Old Testament God is the “God of gods” (Psalm 136:2Daniel 11:36), “a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3), and that the other gods worship him: “Worship him, all ye gods” (Psalm 97:7), “for the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17). And Psalm 82:1 adds that God is so powerful that he can come into the divine assembly and pass judgment on the other gods: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty, he judgeth among the gods.” Exodus 12:12 says the same thing, with Yahweh passing judgment on the gods of Egypt: “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.” And Numbers 33:4 describes this judgment as well: “Upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.” Zephaniah 2:11 even goes so far as to say that God “will famish all the gods of the earth,” with Jeremiah 10:11 adding that in the end, all the other gods will die and Yahweh will be the last one standing: “The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” In Psalm 82:6-7, Yahweh addresses his rival deities in the divine assembly directly: “I have said, Ye are gods […] But ye shall die like men.”

In one strangely conciliatory verse, Exodus 22:28 instructs the Israelites not to harbor any ill will toward these rival gods: “Thou shalt not revile the gods.” Nevertheless, the rest of the Old Testament vehemently forbids Yahweh’s people from even thinking about worshiping them: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me […] Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3-5Deuteronomy 5:7); “Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14); “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you)” (Deuteronomy 6:14-1528:14). Yahweh spends chapter after chapter admonishing his followers not to make sacrifices to other gods (Exodus 22:20), make covenants with them (Exodus 23:32), burn incense in their names (Jeremiah 1:16), or even mention their names at all (Exodus 23:13). He stipulates that if anyone actually does serve any god other than him, they “shall be utterly destroyed” (Exodus 22:20). And in Exodus 32:26-28, if you’ll recall, he actually follows through on this threat, killing thousands of his own people after they start worshiping a golden calf.

Why would he have felt so insecure about his people worshiping other gods? And for that matter, why would they have actually done so – especially considering that they’d personally interacted with Yahweh beforehand and knew for a fact that he existed? These passages wouldn’t make very much sense if Yahweh really was the only game in town and everyone knew that he was the only god in existence. But in a monolatrist context, it makes perfect sense; the reason why people followed other gods, and the reason why Yahweh had to deter them from doing so, is that in the biblical narrative, those other gods were just as real as Yahweh was. This is shown in Exodus itself: When Yahweh has Moses perform miracles in front of Pharaoh in Exodus 7 (turning his rod into a snake, turning water into blood, etc.), Pharaoh’s priests are able to match him step for step and perform those same miracles themselves, indicating that some force other than Yahweh was responsible for their sorcery. But it’s also shown even more directly in other passages. In 2 Kings 3:24-27, for instance, the Israelites are overpowering the Moabites, and the Moabite king sacrifices his son as a burnt offering to his god Chemosh, so that Chemosh might save them – and it actually works: “There came a great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.” (This event is also recorded by the Moabites themselves on the Mesha Stele, an inscribed tablet from ~840 BC that “tells how Chemosh, the god of Moab, had been angry with his people and had allowed them to be subjugated to Israel, but at length, Chemosh returned and assisted Mesha to throw off the yoke of Israel and restore the lands of Moab.”) Additionally, Judges 11:24 acknowledges that Chemosh sometimes granted his followers land and other blessings, using this as an argument that Yahweh could do the same thing: “Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.”

The evidence for multiple gods existing in the Bible even goes back as far as the creation story itself. In Genesis 1:26, when God is creating humans, he says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (note the plural). A couple chapters later, after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, God laments, “Behold, then man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22). Later still, after seeing the Tower of Babel, God says, “Let us go down, and there confound their language” (Genesis 11:7). You could reasonably argue, of course, that in this last verse God is just using the phrase “let us” in the same figurative sense that someone might use it in a sentence like “Let’s see what’s on TV,” even if they were alone at the time. But even if you give God the benefit of the doubt there, it’s harder to explain his use of the phrase “man is become as one of us” using the same logic; that particular wording certainly seems to indicate that there’s more than one of him up there.

This should clinch the case against Christianity. Either Yahweh doesn’t exist or he is incompetent to keep his followers informed about the nature of divine beings.

(3103) Anachronistic conquests

In the following, it is shown that many of the conquest scenarios in the Bible could not have occurred in the time frame in which they are set. The following was taken from:


The archaeological record also contradicts many of the battle accounts in Joshua, and several key battles in the Transjordan found in Numbers and Deuteronomy. The city of Jericho had long been uninhabited by the time of the alleged conquest. Moreover, there is no destruction level at Jericho in either of the proposed dates for the conquest. That is to say, Jericho was destroyed in 1550 BCE (confirmed again recently by radiocarbon-dating), well over a hundred years before the conservative dating of the conquest, and three hundred years before the consensus dating. There is no evidence that it was occupied again until Iron II. In short, there were no walls to come a-tumblin’ down in either of the proposed conquest periods.

The account of the battle of Ai is similarly problematic. Joseph Callaway, a conservative Evangelical archaeologist went to the Ai dig site et-Tell in the 1960s in the hopes of confirming the biblical account, against the earlier findings of Judith Marquet-Krause. What he found, instead, was that the archaeological record unequivocally contradicts the biblical picture. He found an Iron I city, with no fortifications, and directly beneath it an Early Bronze settlement. In other words, the city of Ai was uninhabited from 2400 BCE to between 1200 and 1000 BCE (a period of twelve to fourteen hundred years). And again, there were no fortifications. This should not be surprising, since the word Ai means “ruin.” The site’s modern name, et-Tell, also means “the ruin.” The fact that the city is known by no other name in the Bible than “ruin” suggests that that’s how it was first known to the Israelites before they built their city upon it in Iron I (the period of the Judges). Scholars have concluded that the story of Ai in Joshua is an etiological narrative (a narrative created to explain why something is the way it is). So the “ruin” that was Ai came to be explained in folk tradition by reference to a Joshua-conquest legend.

There are numerous other examples where the stories in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua of Israel’s migration through the desert into the Transjordan and then into the Promised Land are anachronistic. For instance, in Num 20:14-21 the text states that the Israelites are refused passage by the “king of Edom,” but Edom did not achieve statehood until the seventh century BCE, about 600 years after the events depicted in Numbers! There was no king of Edom to deny them access. Num 21:1-3 narrates that Israel destroyed all the cities in the region of Arad, including the city of Arad. But Arad wasn’t founded until the tenth century BCE, more than 300 years after the time of the conquest. Israel apparently attacked a city that wasn’t there.

The account in Numbers 21 and Deuteronomy 2 of Israel’s destruction of the Amorite city of Heshbon is also anachronistic. Heshbon didn’t exist until the Iron II period, at the earliest 250 years later than the purported events of the conquest.

The account in Num 21:30 of Israel’s siege of the Moabite city of Dibon tells the same story. Dibon was a minor city in the ninth century BCE, 400 years after the alleged conquest. There were no Late Bronze Age residues there. (And this site was excavated by a group of conservative Southern Baptists who were hoping to prove the Bible accurate. They were forced to concede otherwise.)

The account of the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 is also anachronistic. Another devout Christian, James Pritchard, excavated there and found nothing but residues from the eighth century BCE (500 years after the conquest). Gibeon did not exist at the time of the conquest. The story of the Gibeonites was another etiological narrative which served to justify the fact that the Gibeonites were slaves in Judah at the time these narratives were written.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. What all this shows is that the conquest narratives were written by someone with a geographical perspective from about the seventh century BCE. The geography described in these accounts didn’t exist until much later than the time the conquest supposedly took place.

This would be similar to someone today writing a book where Native Americans sacked the city of Washington D.C. in the year 1600. Anachronistic errors are a good clue that what the author was writing about never actually occurred.

(3104) The story of the soul

It is understandable that primitive humans would have thought that something intangible leaves a human body upon death. This massless ‘soul’ would be perceived as the energy that activates and animates the body. And once it leaves, it must go somewhere. The following is a quote by Bill Flavell:

The idea of a soul and an afterlife is very ancient indeed, certainly thousands of years older than Christianity. And it is not hard to imagine how the idea emerged.

Let’s imagine we are alive more than 20,000 years ago. The people we live with are active: they breathe, laugh, talk, hunt, eat and many other things. But one day, for one of our clan, perhaps following an injury or for no apparent reason at all, everything stops. They become unresponsive; they can’t move, they can’t even follow you with their eyes and they become cold to the touch.

Nowadays we understand death. We understand the cascade of failures that leads to the cessation of metabolic processes. And we understand that, with no chemical energy and a brain that has shut down, the body becomes inert and motionless. It is physics and chemistry. But at the dawn of our species, our ancestors would have thought differently.

When a person dies, it looks exactly like something has left the body, rather like a house whose inhabitants have moved out leaving it cold and still. But watch a person die and you will see nothing leave. That gives rise the idea that something invisible, as the wind is invisible, must have left.

But what has left the body? It seems like the personality has left–the laughter, the talking, the ideas and the activity, and then it’s just a small step to imagine that these things must still be somewhere. So, perhaps, the invisible personality of the fallen relative is watching you, as you gaze upon his vacated body?

Before long, someone is inventing stories about where these invisible personalities go and even specifying the goods they will need on their journey. Thus we see the emergence of rituals where the deceased are buried with chattels the soul will need in the afterlife. Over the years, these stories were embellished and enhanced and, eventually, became woven into the religions of the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Of course, this is speculation. I cannot show it is true but it is a credible possibility and one that I find far more likely than the fanciful stories of afterlives our ancestors invented millennia ago.

None of this is remarkable. What is remarkable is that, in the age of the global village, of space exploration, neurosurgery, television, the Internet and air travel, I am in the minority. The majority of people on Earth continue to believe the speculative myths our naïve ancestors invented in their first attempts to understand life and death.

Advances in neuro-biology have intruded on the concept of the soul to the extent where belief in this evanescent aura is dependent on magical thinking. But its origin was almost inevitable in a time where science was lacking and explanations were needed.

(3105) Take the Bible

The following quote from Bill Flavell sums up why the magnified esteem placed on the Bible is undeserved:

Take the bible bible as your geography book and you’ll miss 99% of the world. Take the bible as your history book and you’ll be bottom of the class. Take the bible as your biology book and you’ll get no marks at all. Take the bible as your cosmology book and you’ll know less than nothing. Take the bible as your medical book and you’ll be sued for malpractice. Take the bible as your military ethics book and you’ll be sentenced for war crimes. Take the bible as your childcare book and your children will be taken away. Take the bible as your law book and you’ll in up in jail. Take The bible as your human rights book and you’ll be tried at the Hague. So yes, take the bible, take it as far away as possible and leave it there.

This rant is an eye-opening window into why the Bible is not only outdated, but is also a miserable guide to modern life. It enjoys a default accreditation only due to mass indoctrination. There is no insight or teaching in the Bible that hasn’t been improved upon many times over by books that came later.

(3106) Matthew not written by the disciple

Many Christians and disingenuous preachers proclaim that the Book of Matthew is an eyewitness account of one of Jesus’ disciples. Objective scholars know differently. It is next to certain that the person who wrote Matthew was not the same Matthew in the gospels. The following was taken from:


The scholarly consensus regarding what’s called the “synoptic problem” holds that Matthew and Luke both used Mark as a textual source for their gospels. I know Luke never claimed to be an eyewitness to the events in Jesus’s life, but the traditional view is that the gospel of Matthew should be identified with Matthew of the 12 disciples of Jesus.

The best argument for non-Matthean authorship of the gospel according to Matthew is very straightforward to demonstrate by the simple fact that other than the difference in the name of the disciple in question (and I take Matthew and Levi to refer to the same person), “Matthew” copied his own conversion account almost word-for-word from the gospel of Mark. Any eyewitness would not copy someone else’s words to recount their own conversion.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13 (NRSV)

As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

Mark 2:14-17 (NRSV)

To add to this, Matthew uses 94% of the text of the book of Mark, with editorial changes that suggest the direction of copying goes from Mark to Matthew, and not the other way around (see Mark Goodacre’s discussion of editorial fatigue in “The Synoptic Problem” pg 75). Matthew also never claims to be an eyewitness in the text of his gospel, so I see no reason to accept the later church tradition that Matthew was an eyewitness and wrote his gospel before Mark did.

The same apostolic fathers who claimed Matthew was the author of the gospel that bears his name also believed that Matthew wrote his gospel before Mark did, and at least the latter perspective is universally discredited among synoptic problem scholars.

So to summarize:

  1. Markan priority (Mark wrote his gospel first and Matthew/Luke copied from Mark) enjoys near-universal consensus among critical scholars of the New Testament.
  2. Matthew copied the passage in Mark that recounts Matthew’s own conversion, which discredits Matthean authorship
  3. The traditional view that Matthew wrote Matthew is based on dubious statements by the church fathers. We should be skeptical of early church fathers’ claims of authentic Matthean authorship given that in the same breath, they falsely claimed that Matthew was the first written gospel.

The church desperately needed an eyewitness account of Jesus’ activities, so they clung to the hope that this gospel was the real deal. Instead, scriptural research has shown this to be untrue. It is disappointing that so many Christians remain unaware that this claim has been debunked.

(3107) The Bible’s messy infancy

Contemporary Christians extol their bibles as the inerrant word of God as though the book they are holding is the same one that early Christians read. Nothing could be further from the truth. All it takes is a short education of early bible history to disabuse one of that thought. And the implication of this fact makes it extraordinarily close to certain that God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with its formulation. The following was taken from:


Suffice it to say, for the first few centuries of Christianity’s history, the actual doctrine of the religion was something of a free-for-all. It was only when things finally reached a boiling point in AD 325 that a bunch of the religion’s most prominent leaders decided to convene at Nicaea and hold a series of votes to decide on what the answers to the key theological questions of Christianity (like whether Jesus was human or divine) should actually be. To believers today, of course, it might seem galling to even imagine that the most holy and sacred of truths might be decided by something as prosaic as a show of hands by some random committee hundreds of years after Jesus’s death – but it was only after this meeting (along with a series of other such meetings spanning the next few centuries) that something resembling a sort of official Christian consensus began to emerge. And it was also during this period that the leading figures within the Church finally came to something of a consensus regarding which specific combination of books should serve as the official sacred canon – i.e. the Bible.

This was not a straightforward process, to say the least; there was a lot of politics involved, and there was never really a point where the matter was settled in anywhere near as definitive a manner as you might imagine. Several of the books that we see in our Bibles today, for instance – Titus, 1 and 2 Timothy, etc. – are completely absent from the earliest copies of the Bible. Books like Hebrews, James, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter, Jude and (especially) Revelation were considered particularly controversial additions that took centuries to finally gain mainstream acceptance into the canon. Some of the most important passages in the Bible – like the story in John 8 where Jesus spares the adulteress with the admonition “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” or the line in Luke 23 where he’s dying on the cross and says “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” or even the crucial section at the end of Mark where the resurrected Jesus appears to his followers and then ascends into Heaven – weren’t part of the original text of those books at all, and were only added in by Christians centuries later. Other passages were altered or added to try and cover up obvious contradictions and mistakes (like 2 Samuel 21:19, which says that it was Elhanan, not David, who killed Goliath – and which KJV translators later altered to say that Elhanan killed “the brother of Goliath,” not Goliath himself).

And not only that, but there were still other books that originally were included in the earliest versions of the Bible but were later removed – such as the Epistle of Barnabas, 1 and 2 Clement, and The Shepherd of Hermas. As Sam Harris notes, “for centuries [these books were] considered part of the canon, and then [were] later jettisoned as false gospel. Generations of Christians lived and died being guided by gospel that is now deemed both incomplete and mistaken.” The Bible that we know today actually still includes references to a number of these books throughout its pages, often citing them as sacred sources of prophecy and miracle accounts. Needless to say, though, this raises some serious problems for the idea that the modern Bible is God’s perfect word; why would a truly holy book cite a bunch of other books as containing holy knowledge if they were actually false gospel?

Most Christians are blissfully ignorant of this information and it’s not by accident- church leaders do not want them to know. It is as if they want their congregants to believe that millions of copies of the Bible suddenly appeared in its present form. Ignorance of basic facts is a prerequisite for religious faith and particularly for fundamentalism.

(3108) Personal experience is not evidence

Given the lack of demonstrable miracles or other supernatural phenomena, the default evidence of Christianity for many believers is personal experiences that they interpret as being influenced by God. They often will say, ‘I experience God directly in my thoughts, my dreams, and my feelings.’ But this evidence is not convincing- certainly not to a skeptic, and it should also be doubted by the one experiencing it. There is too much subjectivity involved in these instances to make objective conclusions. The following was taken from:


Personal experiences make up for a concerningly large portion of claims to evidence for all supernatural things. Some people who believe in Karma claim to have personal experience with it. Some people who believe in ghosts claim to have personal experiences with them. Some people who believe in gods claim to have personal experiences with them.

Yet for all of these things no one should be taking these personal experiences to mean anything. There is simply no way we can ever know, or even be reasonably confident, that these experiences were with what they claim to be. The person experiencing god has no way of knowing whether or not they were experiencing god, a hallucination, an alien, or just straight up misremembering or fabricating events. A Christian who has personal experience with what they think is their God cannot rule out the possibility that their experience was with a Hindu god, or a Viking god, or a being that is entirely different and unknown. Nor can they rule out that their senses were lying to them.

Personal experience should not be taken seriously as evidence for the supernatural by anyone, even the person who has said experience, or they risk believing something is true when it is not.

The human brain is susceptible to misinterpretation of what it experiences. One of the reasons for this is that a framework of reality is hardwired into its inner core and it will try to fit everything it senses into that fixed structure- even if it means taking a massive leap of faith. Because of this, no one should take someone’s testimony of an inspirational event, even the person who felt it their self, as evidence for that person’s faith. Much of Christian belief is based on personal experiences, including much of what is documented in the Bible. Once this ‘evidence’ is discarded, there is not much left to undergird the authenticity of Christianity.

(3109) Alien life more probable

Recent discoveries of the over-abundance of large organic molecules in the planet-forming regions around developing stars has caused scientists to increase their estimate of the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. Anything that makes the Earth less special also makes Christianity less likely to be true. The following was taken from:


Chances of alien life in our galaxy are much more likely that first thought after scientists found “significant amounts” of large organic molecules surrounding young stars.

Dr John Ilee, a research fellow at the University of Leeds, who led the study, said the findings suggested that the basic chemical conditions that resulted in life on Earth could exist more widely across the Milky Way.

The team studied the discs of swirling material that surround stars and will eventually come together to form planets.

They found large reservoirs of precursor molecules that are “stepping stones” to complex molecules needed for life, such as sugars, amino acids and ribonucleic acid.

Each molecule emits light at different wavelengths, producing a unique spectral “fingerprint” that can be picked up by telescopes.

The team studied data from the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (Alma) radio telescope in Chile, looking for the molecular fingerprints surrounding new stars.

Dr Ilee said: “Alma has allowed us to look for these molecules in the innermost regions of these disks, on size scales similar to our solar system, for the first time. Our analysis shows that the molecules are primarily located in these inner regions with abundances between 10 and 100 times higher than models had predicted.”

Crucially, the disc regions in which the molecules were found are also where asteroids and comets form. Many scientists believe that life was seeded on Earth through bombardment by asteroids and comets containing large organic molecules.

It suggests that the same mechanism may be at work throughout the galaxy and beyond.

“The key result of this work shows that the same ingredients needed for seeding life on our planet are also found around other stars,” said Dr Catherine Walsh, from the school of physics and astronomy at the University of Leeds.

“It is possible that the molecules that are needed to kickstart life on planets are readily available in all planet-forming environments.”

Christianity has long presented the theory that the Earth is God’s special creation. But when it can be seen that the same processes that resulted in life on this planet appear to be ubiquitous throughout the universe, this narrative loses a lot of its steam. This makes Earth just another planet among many that happened to be in the right zone for life to develop. This discovery is making it seem less special.

(3010) Children’s discernment impaired by religious training

It appears that the ability to distinguish between fact and fiction may be a product of how one is raised. In the study discussed below, children who are exposed to religious training have a diminished ability to separate fantasy from truth. This is likely a disability that would carry through to adulthood, and it might explain how religion has been able so successfully to perpetuate itself. The following was taken from;


A study conducted by researchers led by Kathleen H. Corriveau of Boston University examined how religious exposure affects a child’s ability to distinguish between fact and fiction. They found that religious exposure at an early age has a surprising effect: it makes children less able to differentiate between reality and fantasy.

The researchers presented three different types of stories – religious, fantastical and realistic – to a group of 5 and 6-year olds. Religious children were divided into three groups: children exposed to the Christian religion either as churchgoers who attended public school, non-churchgoers who attended parochial school, or churchgoers who attended parochial school. The fourth group of children included non-churchgoing children who attended public school and had no exposure to religion in either church or school. The goal of the research was to find out if religious exposure would affect the child’s ability to identify if the lead character in each of the stories was real or make-believe.

The study found that children who attended church services and/or were enrolled in a parochial school had a much harder time differentiating between fact and fiction when compared to children of non-religious background. The study, published in the journal Cognitive Science, states:

“The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.”
The most surprising aspect of the research was how children’s upbringing affected how they judge the main character in fantastical stories. These stories included events, brought about by magic (in Study 1) or without reference to magic (in Study 2), that would ordinarily be impossible. Secular children were much more likely to identify the characters in these stories as make-believe, while children with religious exposure were more likely to identify them as real.

The researchers found that all children, regardless of their religious background, identified the main character of the realistic stories as real. When presented with religious stories, that included “ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention,” children who attended church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, identified the lead character as real, which isn’t unexpected. On the other hand, children with no religious exposure judged the protagonist of the religious stories to be fictional.

The study’s authors suggest:

“…even if children have no natural inclination to believe in divine or superhuman agency, religious instruction can readily lead them to do so.”
“…religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.”

 The results of this study could lead one to think that religion, intentionally or not, takes advantage of the natural gullibility of children and molds them into believing in the power of divine characters presented in religious teachings and literature such as the Bible. About 28 percent of Americans who participated in the 2013-2014 Gallup survey believe that the Bible is the actual word of God  and should be interpreted literally, while another 47 percent think that the Bible is inspired by the word of God. It is pretty clear that we are not born believers, but are shaped into believers depending on our exposure to religious teachings.

It is difficult to prove if growing up in a religious setting turns children into better people, and some studies have even shown that religious children are meaner and more punitive than secular children. The study by Corriveau et al. identifies an addition effect of religious teachings and how they create tremendous support for antiquated and fantastical stories by feeding them to children from an early age, giving the powers that be the ability to use religion for the justification of impractical or even malevolent acts.

The full study can be viewed here: http://www.bu.edu/learninglab/files/2012/05/Corriveau-Chen-Harris-in-press.pdf

It seems reasonable to assume that early religious training is the main driver of Christianity’s success. Without it, the discrepancies of scripture, the failure of prayer, and the discoveries of science would have long ago decimated the faith into nothing more than a small cult.

(3111) Problems with the Sermon on the Mount

Christians obsequiously fawn over the Sermon on Mount in the Gospel of Matthew as if it is the most prolific message about morality ever uttered. This is complete nonsense. It contains blatant omissions and instructions that are unworkable in the real world. The following was taken from:


The so-called “Sermon on the Mount” is widely regarded as Christianity’s most important moral message. It is Jesus at his moral best. Even many atheists are highly impressed with the sermon, as well they should be.

However, there are still problems with it, and there is not a single word in it that even hints at omnibenevolence, moral perfection or divine wisdom. After all is said and done, it is, for the most part, a great message from a fallible human being.

What is missing from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5-7)? A great deal. There is no forceful denunciation of slavery. On the contrary, the Second (New) Testament repeatedly condones it. Yet, what could possibly be a worse “sin” against humanity than slavery?

Perhaps holy wars might be worse in the eyes of some people. However, millions of people have been killed in wars in the name of Christ. The omniscient God in human form should have explicitly condemned wars in his name, knowing that Christians would surely wage such wars. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” is simply not enough to deter intolerant, violent Christians. Jesus could have and should have at least said something like “resist with all of your might anyone that ever tries to wage a war in my name.” Such a message would have done far more to avert Christian-led wars than a mere sentence blessing the peacemakers.

If God is truly opposed to patriarchy, the sermon would have been the perfect place to condemn it in clear, unequivocal terms. Yet, he neglected to do so, while the Second Testament consistently promotes it. It is left up to progressive Christians to cherry-pick and “re-interpret” certain passages to counter Bible-based patriarchy, sexism and misogyny.

Progressive Christians combat homophobia, even though the Bible – including the Second Testament – condones it. If Christ has no problem with homosexuality, he should have made this clear in the sermon. Yet he refused to do so, and many good Christians oppose homosexuality, same sex marriages, and so forth.

The omniscient God knew that racism would eventually become a major problem throughout the world. Jesus had the perfect opportunity to predict it and to condemn it. Yet, he did not so much as mention the word (he could have and should have introduced it to the world.) Once again, the son of God blew a great opportunity to help future generations in his wonderful sermon.

Many women throughout history have been persecuted, abused and brutally killed as alleged witches. Even today, Christians and other religionists in such nations as Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania harm alleged witches. Jesus should have challenged the biblical teaching instructing believers not to suffer a witch to live.

The omniscient God could have added at least a sentence or two about the importance of animal welfare and animal rights in the sermon. As it stands, the Bible is a masterpiece of speciesism, concerned only with human affairs.

Many Christian apologists rationalize biblically sanctioned genocide and other crimes against humanity by saying that Christ brought a “new covenant,” and that the First Testament no longer applies. Yet Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18.) How could it be any other way? After all, God is immutable. This talk of a second covenant is nonsense.

Jesus makes the false promise of heaven to persuade people to accept his message. What is worse, he threatens people with “hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). The concept of hell might be the worst idea in the history of religion. As Robert Green Ingersoll stated, it makes the Sermon on the Mount hypocrisy and cant.

Rather than viewing the Sermon on the Mount as the be-all-and-end-all of moral teaching, Christians should see it as a golden opportunity for improvement. Just as any child could easily come up with her own Ten Commandments that would be vast improvements over those found in the First Testament, modern Christians could easily improve upon the Sermon on the Mount. All they need is a little bit of moral imagination. The Sermon on the Mount was cutting edge stuff 2,000 years ago. But, understandably, today we can do much better.

The Sermon on the Mount enjoys an undeserved esteem principally because it has been so deemed by religious tradition. Christians will rarely judge it objectively, but simply and mindlessly imagine it to be the greatest sermon of all time. Unindoctrinated people can see it for what it is- a poor attempt to imagine the mind of God.

(3112) COVID-19 and 19 months of prayer

The pandemic has provided a spectacularly effective way to evaluate the effectiveness of prayer and therefore the likelihood that the Christian god exists. Unfortunately for Christians, the results have been dismal and point out the obvious fact that prayers are useless in situations like this and that, in all probability, we live in a strictly natural world. The following was taken from:


After almost two years, we now have amassed a mountain of evidence about the relationship between prayer and disease outcomes.

The results show, in particular:

God does not support one religion over another. In fact, countries that lean towards atheism (New Zealand 48.5%) or Folk Religion (China 73.5%) have fared demonstrably better in cases (per population).

Countries that identify as highly religious (US, Iran, Israel) have fared worse than the average.

Anecdotal evidence shows that prayer may actually impact disease outcomes, negatively. There are many Facebook cases where patients have requested prayer after contacting Covid. This often leads to a more rapid decline rather than improvement.

There are also cases where Covid has swept through a church congregation, which is contrary to expectations. One would assume that God would provide some level of protection to those who worship Him.

The religious questions raised by the pandemic deserve further study.

It is questionable how Christian apologists would counter this point. Perhaps, they might say that God is testing the faith of his flock in like manner to how he tested Job in the Old Testament. Or they might say that God is disinterested in life and death pursuant to a pandemic because he is focused on the eternal issues of heaven and hell. But no matter what, this is a difficult time for Christians, dying at a faster rate, mainly because they are placing trust in a non-existent protective force.

(3113) Satan created Christianity?

It is not difficult to construct a theory that Satan developed Christianity as a way to steer people away from the one ‘true’ religion, Judaism. This is a creative way to debunk Christianity while at the same time upholding the existence of Yahweh and the figure of Satan. The following was taken from:


Let’s assume the Old Testament is true and God instituted Judaism through Moses. Let’s assume that Moses was correct when he stated over 30 different times that Mosaic Law is permanent, forever, for all future generations. Let’s assume that Moses was correct when he relayed the procedure for “outsiders” to convert to Judaism.

If Satan wished to lead people astray, he might send a “prophet” to mislead people. This “prophet” would undoubtedly have the ability to perform miracles to authenticate his message.

This “prophet” would deceive people into believing that Mosaic Law is no longer in effect, and that people need not obey Mosaic Law in order to receive forgiveness for sin.

Satan would send others to validate this false prophet and the false religious beliefs and help spread this false religion.

Over time, Satan would encourage division within this false religion so that anyone could find a particular set of doctrinal beliefs with which they feel comfortable. Gradually, this false religion would evolve into such simple and easy doctrine that all that is required by this false religion is a belief in the false prophet and a desire to be a better person.

With such an easy religion available, few people would choose to abide by Mosaic Law. Satan would have a tremendous victory.

This is what the Pharisees accused Jesus and His followers of doing, and warned Jews not to be deceived.

The logic of this theory cannot easily be dismissed as there is biblical support for the idea that Judaism was intended to be the permanent manifestation of Yahweh’s interaction with human beings. If Satan is as crafty as the Bible makes him out to be, who can say he didn’t use the Jesus fable to gain more admittents to his torture chamber?

(3114) The Hitchens mic drop

The following transcript of Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) speaking during a religion debate sums up the extreme unlikelihood that the tenets of Christianity are true. There has never been an effective apologetic counter-argument to this dissertation:

In order to believe in—not a deistic god, in other words a creator, a first cause, an imponderable starter, which of course only leads you to an infinite regression because how could there be a starter who wasn’t himself started or herself begun? Who created the god who made the creator who invented the inventor who designed the designer? Any fool can see the fallacy appearing right over the shoulder of this hypothesis, but suppose it’s not just a theistic question—excuse me a deistic question—but a theistic one?

A god who answers prayers; a god who intervenes; a god who didn’t just start this but cares how it winds up; who cares what you do to your private parts or to those of your children and insists on their being mutilated; who knows what you should eat and what day of the week; who knows with which gender you may or may not recreate yourself or be recreational with, and so forth. The deist has all their work still ahead of them to prove that there is such a being. Here’s what you’d have to believe to be a theist (I’ve already shown the absurdity of deism, I hope). To be a theist you’d have to believe this: How long do you think, ladies and gentlemen—I have three minutes, I shan’t—I won’t need them all—how long do you think the human species as a distinct Homo sapiens has been on the planet? Any one want to shout a guess? 

Ok, well Richard Dawkins thinks 250,000 years (a quarter of a million). That’s considered to be on the high end. Francis Collins, who’s become a friend of mine, a very devout Christian, who, as you will know, sequenced the human genome project and did the final report on the full-out discovery of that unravelment which showed us our kinship with other creatures and indeed with other non creatures, other forms of vegetation and junk that’s in our—that undoubtedly proves us to be part of the creational soup, he thinks minimum 100,000. He’s not quite sure if it’s 250,000. Alright, I only need 100,000. 100,000 years since we dared to separate from, became separate from the Cro-magnons and the Neanderthals as our own species, Homo sapiens.

Here’s what you’d have to believe to be a theist: For 100,000 years humanity is born, perhaps 25% of it dies in childbirth or very shortly afterwards. Life expectancy, I don’t know, 25 for a very long time, infant mortality extraordinary, but after-childbirth deaths I mean, killed by microorganisms we didn’t know existed, by earthquakes that we thought were portense, by storms that we didn’t know came from our climate system, by other events that arise from our being born onto a cooling planet with deep cracks in its crust—faults in its crust. Then man-made things: turf wars, fights over women, fights over territory, over food, so on. Very, very slow, gradual, exponential upward progress we might like to think. Pretty slow, but at least we can claim out of our own self respect, man-made. And for the first 96,000 years of this experience heaven watches with folded arms, us go through this, with indifference, without pity and then around 4,000 years ago decides, “Gee, it’s time to intervene. And the best way of doing that would probably be in Bronze Age Middle East, making appearances to stupified, illiterate peasants, which could later be passed on. The news would get to China after about a thousand years after that.” That’s what you have to believe. 

Aren’t you glad you can’t be made to believe that? Aren’t you glad there’s no theocracy any more within range of you that can make you believe that? Do you know what it’s like living in countries where you can be made to believe it? Do you know what the penalties are for not believing it? They’re just exactly congruent with the stupidity of the belief itself. We would be better off, ladies and gentlemen, if we grew out of it. We’d be would better of we’d grown out of it a long time ago. I’ve only had fifteen minutes to show its falsity. The rest of the evening, I hope, can be devoted to its wickedness, but the falsity is part of the wickedness too and thanks for hearing me out. Thank you.

The mental gymnastics necessary to navigate around this issue are considerable. That is, at least for Christians who accept the facts of biological evolution. And a solid case can be made that any Christians who do believe in evolution are unknowingly fooling themselves. Otherwise, Christians not accepting evolution can be summarily dismissed as living in a fantasy world.

(3115) Two asymmetric power relationships

One of the most famous stories of the Judeo-Christian tradition is the (near) sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham (Genesis Chapter 22). From a modern morality perspective this incident involved two violations of what is now termed asymmetric power dynamics, where a person in a more powerful position (such as a boss) is able to take advantage of and manipulate another person (such as an employee). It is nearly certain that if the Bible were to be written today, this story would not have been included. The following was taken from:


God ordered Abraham to make a burnt offering of his longed-for son. Abraham built an altar, put firewood upon it, and trussed Isaac up on top of the wood. His murdering knife was already in his hand when an angel dramatically intervened with the news of a last-minute change of plan: God was only joking after all, ‘tempting’ Abraham, and testing his faith. A modern moralist cannot help but wonder how a child could ever recover from such psychological trauma. By the standards of modern morality, this disgraceful story is an example simultaneously of child abuse, bullying in two asymmetrical power relationships, and the first recorded use of the Nuremberg defense: ‘I was only obeying orders.’ Yet the legend is one of the great foundational myths of all three monotheistic religions.

Few Christians can see the damage this story does to their tradition because they’ve been indoctrinated to believe that the major message of it is the importance of having blind faith. Perhaps a couple of thousand years ago, this story was acceptable and inspirational, but today it is an unmitigated disaster.

(3116) Possible inspiration for biblical story of Sodom

A recent investigation has revealed that a large asteroid penetrated the atmosphere and pulverized a Middle Eastern city 3600 years ago. Obviously, no one at the time realized that large rocks were floating around in the heavens, so something like this would have been considered supernatural and the best explanation would be that it was the act of an angry god. This therefore becomes a possible inspiration for the biblical story of Sodom’s destruction (Genesis, Chapter 19).


As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam went about their daily business one day about 3,600 years ago, they had no idea an unseen icy space rock was speeding toward them at about 38,000 mph (61,000 kph).

Flashing through the atmosphere, the rock exploded in a massive fireball about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above the ground. The blast was around 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The shocked city dwellers who stared at it were blinded instantly. Air temperatures rapidly rose above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius). Clothing and wood immediately burst into flames. Swords, spears, mudbricks and pottery began to melt. Almost immediately, the entire city was on fire.

Some seconds later, a massive shockwave smashed into the city. Moving at about 740 mph (1,200 kph), it was more powerful than the worst tornado ever recorded. The deadly winds ripped through the city, demolishing every building. They sheared off the top 40 feet (12 m) of the 4-story palace and blew the jumbled debris into the next valley. None of the 8,000 people or any animals within the city survived – their bodies were torn apart and their bones blasted into small fragments.

About a minute later, 14 miles (22 km) to the west of Tall el-Hammam, winds from the blast hit the biblical city of Jericho. Jericho’s walls came tumbling down and the city burned to the ground.

It all sounds like the climax of an edge-of-your-seat Hollywood disaster movie. How do we know that all of this actually happened near the Dead Sea in Jordan millennia ago?

Getting answers required nearly 15 years of painstaking excavations by hundreds of people. It also involved detailed analyses of excavated material by more than two dozen scientists in 10 states in the U.S., as well as Canada and the Czech Republic. When our group finally published the evidence recently in the journal Scientific Reports, the 21 co-authors included archaeologists, geologists, geochemists, geomorphologists, mineralogists, paleobotanists, sedimentologists, cosmic-impact experts and medical doctors.

Years ago, when archaeologists looked out over excavations of the ruined city, they could see a dark, roughly 5-foot-thick (1.5 m) jumbled layer of charcoal, ash, melted mudbricks and melted pottery. It was obvious that an intense firestorm had destroyed this city long ago. This dark band came to be called the destruction layer.

No one was exactly sure what had happened, but that layer wasn’t caused by a volcano, earthquake or warfare. None of them are capable of melting metal, mudbricks and pottery.

To figure out what could, our group used the Online Impact Calculator to model scenarios that fit the evidence. Built by impact experts, this calculator allows researchers to estimate the many details of a cosmic impact event, based on known impact events and nuclear detonations.

It appears that the culprit at Tall el-Hammam was a small asteroid similar to the one that knocked down 80 million trees in Tunguska, Russia in 1908. It would have been a much smaller version of the giant miles-wide rock that pushed the dinosaurs into extinction 65 million ago.

We had a likely culprit. Now we needed proof of what happened that day at Tall el-Hammam.

Our research revealed a remarkably broad array of evidence.

At the site, there are finely fractured sand grains called shocked quartz that only form at 725,000 pounds per square inch of pressure (5 gigapascals) – imagine six 68-ton Abrams military tanks stacked on your thumb.

The destruction layer also contains tiny diamonoids that, as the name indicates, are as hard as diamonds. Each one is smaller than a flu virus. It appears that wood and plants in the area were instantly turned into this diamond-like material by the fireball’s high pressures and temperatures.

Experiments with laboratory furnaces showed that the bubbled pottery and mudbricks at Tall el-Hammam liquefied at temperatures above 2,700 F (1,500 C). That’s hot enough to melt an automobile within minutes.

The destruction layer also contains tiny balls of melted material smaller than airborne dust particles. Called spherules, they are made of vaporized iron and sand that melted at about 2,900 F (1,590 C).

In addition, the surfaces of the pottery and meltglass are speckled with tiny melted metallic grains, including iridium with a melting point of 4,435 F (2,466 C), platinum that melts at 3,215 F (1,768 C) and zirconium silicate at 2,800 F (1,540 C).

Together, all this evidence shows that temperatures in the city rose higher than those of volcanoes, warfare and normal city fires. The only natural process left is a cosmic impact.

The same evidence is found at known impact sites, such as Tunguska and the Chicxulub crater, created by the asteroid that triggered the dinosaur extinction.

One remaining puzzle is why the city and over 100 other area settlements were abandoned for several centuries after this devastation. It may be that high levels of salt deposited during the impact event made it impossible to grow crops. We’re not certain yet, but we think the explosion may have vaporized or splashed toxic levels of Dead Sea salt water across the valley. Without crops, no one could live in the valley for up to 600 years, until the minimal rainfall in this desert-like climate washed the salt out of the fields.

It’s possible that an oral description of the city’s destruction may have been handed down for generations until it was recorded as the story of Biblical Sodom. The Bible describes the devastation of an urban center near the Dead Sea – stones and fire fell from the sky, more than one city was destroyed, thick smoke rose from the fires and city inhabitants were killed.

Could this be an ancient eyewitness account? If so, the destruction of Tall el-Hammam may be the second-oldest destruction of a human settlement by a cosmic impact event, after the village of Abu Hureyra in Syria about 12,800 years ago. Importantly, it may the first written record of such a catastrophic event.

Any time a purported miracle or act of God can be shown to be a misinterpretation of a natural event, it increases the probability that we live in a natural world, devoid of supernatural beings. When you consider that lightning used to be considered as such, it reveals how much more an asteroid strike would have caused myths to be created and passed down generation to generation. It is inevitable that a pre-scientific civilization would try to explain unusual events using whatever folklore or superstitions that they believed. So very possibly the basis for the Sodom story was not the actions of a wrathful god but rather just an uncommon, though predictable collision of space debris with the earth.

(3117) Monotheism laid the groundwork for Christianity

The early Jews believed that every tribe had their own god or gods, though they thought of their gods as being superior. Eventually the Jews settled on a single god for themselves, Yahweh, while still believing that gods existed for other people.

But when they began to see Yahweh as being the only god in existence, it caused a bit of cognitive dissonance. It was difficult to understand why the universe’s only god would serve only one small group of people. Sure, they thought of themselves as being God’s chosen people, but this exclusionary policy still seemed unfair to some, particularly to the ascetic and somewhat isolated group known as the Essenes, from which the Jesus tradition likely evolved.

So the belief that one and only one god exists combined with an understandable sense of fairness set the stage for the Jewish faith to expand to non-Jews. They thought that Yahweh should in some sense also be the god of the gentiles. Had the Jews continued to believe that the gentiles had their own gods, this would not have been seen as necessary; that is, there would have been no perceived need for Yahweh to expand his influence beyond the Jews.

Therefore, Christianity owes it’s existence in some part to the very strict monotheistic belief that developed among the Jewish people shortly before its creation.

(3118) Jesus fails to see the future

If Jesus was God as claimed by Christians, then he would have known that a new religion called Christianity would arise after his death and resurrection. He would have known that this new religion would by and large break away from the Jewish faith and become universal in that it would no longer remain the exclusive domain of the Jews. Given that assumption, the following scripture offers a direct and fatal contradiction:

Matthew 15:21-28

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is miserably possessed by a demon.”

But Jesus did not answer a word. So His disciples came and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

But Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “even the dogsf eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

“O woman,” Jesus answered, “your faith is great! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

How could Jesus refer to non-Jews as dogs if he knew that the vast majority of his followers over the ensuing twenty centuries would be non-Jews? This scriptural excerpt, if accurate, reveals that Jesus was not God, and further that he had no intent to extend his ministry outside of his Jewish heritage.

(3119) The Roman Empire testimony

The Roman Empire lasted from 27 BCE to 476 CE, though it was at its strongest during the middle portions of this period. It is an interesting thought experiment to realize that the empire was strongest during the times it was worshiping the gods Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and began to weaken and eventually collapse after it adopted the god Yahweh, following the beginning of the conversion to Christianity in 313 CE. Why would conversion to the ‘real’ god (and discarding of the false gods) occur simultaneously with such an unfortunate change of fate? The following was taken from:


The Roman Empire flourishes for hundreds of years, obviously the nation most favored by the gods, expanding and getting richer and more powerful every year. Then they convert to Christianity in 313 AD, and within a hundred years, Rome itself was sacked. Christian Europe enters the dark ages and the common man wallows in the mud for centuries praying to Jesus.

It is only in the Renaissance nearly a thousand years later when they start dusting off the marble statues of Roman gods and scholars start reading Ovid, Virgil and Homer that things start to improve again.

If Yahweh is the real deal, it seems he would have ensured a strengthening rather than a weakening of the Roman Empire after it adopted the ‘correct’ religion and  started to pay allegiance to him. This provides counterfactual evidence against Christianity.

(3120) Why faith is not the answer

There is a good argument for why the Pauline, evangelical dogma that faith alone justifies a person for entry into heaven is absurd. The following was taken from:


This thought process started because I was a Christian and in the process of picking apart my beliefs, I came upon the question, “Why does faith justify Christians?” Reworded, “What are the inherent qualities of faith that make it good?” Why does believing in a man who died 2000 years ago justify someone as opposed to the person that didn’t believe because they thought that belief to be irrational?

Why does a 14 year old boy who believes in Jesus because his parents told him that it’s the truth go to heaven, whereas another 14 year old boy who doesn’t believe in Jesus because his parents are atheists goes to hell (assuming they both die at 14)? What concerning faith transfers the righteousness of Jesus to a sinner? Why would God, who gave us brains to think with, reward blind belief? Wouldn’t a God who gave us intellect be simply insulted by a blind belief? That’s not to say that all faith in Jesus is blind, but according to the religion’s doctrines and teachings, the faith does not need to be founded in reason at all. This means that someone who has truly blind faith in Jesus will be justified before God, whereas someone else who came to the conclusion that faith without concrete evidence is absurd will go to Hell.

Christianity has the burden of proof when it comes to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Messianic God of the Old Testament and that the teachings of the New Testament are true and worthy of belief. I assert that without an answer to the question above, Christianity (evangelical) does not have an adequate foundation in logic or reasoning, and therefore is not the truth.

It’s hard to imagine a god who keeps track of 8 billion humans, but who also is able to access the inner thoughts and beliefs of each one. But this is what Christianity proposes. No matter what you say, or do, or how others perceive you, somehow this god penetrates your psyche to determine whether or not you really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and then makes that his number one criterion for determining whether you will enjoy eternal bliss or suffer unimaginable pain to the end of time. Yes, this is absurd.

(3121) God and horrendous suffering

A good case can be made for the likely absence of the type of god believed by Christians based on the amount of horrible suffering in the world. The following is a summary of John Loftus’ new anthology God and Horrendous Suffering:


The chapters in this book combine to show that it’s exceedingly improbable to the point of refutation for the god of Orthodox Theism to exist. The main problem is an evidential one regarding horrendous suffering. A perfectly good god would be opposed to it, an all-powerful god would be capable of eliminating it, and an all-knowing god would know what to do about it. So the existence of horrendous suffering in our world leads us to think god is either not powerful enough to eliminate it, or does not care enough to eliminate it, or is just not smart enough to know what to do about it.

It also addresses other issues such as the lack of objective evidence for miracles, the absurdity of theistic myths, the relationship of horrendous suffering to differing theologies and religious faiths, the horrendous nature of the biblical god, the horrendous actions done because of religious faith, and how these considerations can personally lead reasonable people away from religion. The authors discuss this issue philosophically, theologically, apologetically, biblically, religiously, historically, and personally. It’s an excellent model for how philosophers, apologists, and theologians should’ve been discussing this problem decades ago.

There simply is no way for a Christian apologist to address this issue without making a serious concession- and a concession that would incense a good percentage of the persons sitting in the pews. Reality is not matching the faith claims of this religion. This requires ever more clever diversion tactics to be deployed to maintain the charade.

(3122) An American Christian arrives for judgment

There are many smug Christians who are sure that they are going to heaven, particularly those who believe in salvation by faith alone. But there is another angle to this story, and it is presented in the dialogue below:


Christians expect they’ll get to the Judgement, and be allowed into heaven because they “had faith in Jesus.”

I fully expect, in the overwhelming majority of cases, much like in Matthew 7, American Christians will greet Jesus with “Oh Lord, Lord…great to see you! It’s me!” and Jesus’ reply will be…

JESUS: Who are you? I don’t think we’ve met.

American Christian Guy: “Uh, Jesus…it’s me. I’m saved.”

JESUS: Oh, you’re “saved”. Cool. Actually, I made it plain and clear in the book you insisted was so sacred that only those who do the will of my Father are saved. I told you not to store up wealth. I told you not to worry about your life. Not to worry about what you ate or what clothes you wore. I told you to take care of widows and orphans. I told you to give away your wealth to feed the impoverished. I told you the way was narrow. I told you being rich wasn’t going to cut it, that you should give to people who needed it. Children suffered and died while you ate more than you needed, and while you bought new clothes, and toys…this happened for decades and decades. You knew of my clear words, and did nothing but pay lip service, while justifying your complacency. You labeled those who actually advocated following my words as “radicals.” How could I allow you in to heaven and still be considered just & loving? When you let these innocent children & babies suffer & starve? Get away from me. I have no idea who you are. You are not my follower. You spent your life ignoring and disobeying my clear commands.’

American Christian Guy: “But, Lord…I..I…have faith in you. I believe in you”

JESUS: You “have faith in me”? You “believe”? How so? I promised you eternity in paradise in exchange for your obedience for just 80 measly years and you still chose to disobey. Instead of listening and repenting when people pointed this out to you, you immediately came up with ways to justify your sin and debated it on Reddit. You thought it was more important to win an argument than to obey my will & trust my plain words. That doesn’t sound at all like faith.”

American Christian Guy: “But, but…I thought ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ so we are all sinners saved by grace…”

JESUS: So, let me get this straight, you thought Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and every person who didn’t believe in the resurrection was going to hell for eternity…but you were special, and were going to be spared because you said the Sinner’s Prayer and claimed to “believe” the correct things? That’s how you think this works? That’s what you thought my conception of justice was? You don’t have to do anything, you just have to say and claim to believe the correct things? And then you’re off the hook and get the magic grace because ‘following Jesus is soooo hard’… but the atheist who spends his life acting like me is going to burn in hell? How is that fair?

American Christian Guy: But, but, but…what about graaaaaaaaaace…..

{trap door to hell opens & American Christian falls in}

What this points out is that salvation in Christianity is not cut and dry. It is an amorphous moving target that nobody can be sure about. And why would that be? Could it be because the Bible was written by men who failed to align their stories? And why did their stories not align? Could it be because there was no god involved in the process? Yes, that makes the most sense.

(3123) The other side of miracle stories

Christians often tell or relay stories that appear on the surface to be miracles. In the shadow of what seems to be an indifferent world, these stories are used in a desperate attempt to fortify their faith. But what is not told, and sometimes actively censored, are details that cause the ‘miracles’ to seem less miraculous or even to be totally canceled out. The following was taken from:


She woke up with a terrible migraine. She took her pills but she still felt that something was just telling her not to go to work. So she called in sick. And then as she was watching the news, she saw that a car had hit some black ice and gone into the river. It was her carpool! And she just jumped up and down and thanked Jesus!

It was a holy miracle. The Lord was protecting her as one of his own. You know that because the Bible tells you so. It’s proof that God keeps his promises. It’s reassurance that following Jesus is the best path you can take in life.

And maybe it is true. Who are we to say it isn’t? These things happen. We’ve all heard about them — we may have even experienced them ourselves. They’re told and retold in Christian circles. They are preached from pulpits, shared in testimonies, and spread around youth group retreats like special, in-group secrets.

It all sounds so air-tight, so convincing, such proof that God is real and his promises are true. Until you consider the parts that don’t get said.

What about the other people in the carpool? What about the other guy who didn’t ride that day, because he had a dental appointment? You know, the appointment that got changed at the last minute? He’s not a believer, is he? And what about the one person in the car who drown in the river? She was a youth group leader who sang in the choir, wasn’t she?

These are the parts that get left out.

— There was this lady who refused to go to the hospital, choosing prayer therapy instead, and she miraculously survived her illness. Praise God! Censored: the thousands of other Christians who perished from the same condition despite both medical treatment and the prayers of so many fellow believers.

— A young family man was called to a mission abroad. He prayed for the money to make it happen, and a large inheritance from a former teacher came just in time to pay for his trip and support his family in his absence. God’s got this! Censored: the pastors and missionaries who step out on faith, pray with the faith of mustard seeds, and the money never comes. Also, the similar windfalls that coincide with sudden needs in the lives of non-believers.

— A believer totaled his car and miraculously walked away without a scratch. Praise Jesus! Censored: the Wiccan lady who totaled her car and also miraculously walked away unharmed. And the Christian missionary who was killed in a much less serious wreck.

— A believer on a crashing plane prayed to Jesus for protection, and an Angel appeared to her and guided her safely out of the burning fuselage on the ground. God is so great! Censored: the other Christians on the plane who also prayed for protection, but whom that angel simply left to die. The non-believers who did not pray, but also survived. And the Buddhist who suddenly finds a deceased family member waking him up in the middle of the night and leading the family out of their burning house.

— A believer has a flat tire, misses his train, and ends up on a later train sitting next to the Christian woman he eventually marries. She also missed her train because her cat got out and she couldn’t leave until she found him. Wait on the Lord, for he is faithful! Censored: similar stories told by non-believers and adherents of other religions.

Of course, all the evidence we have is anecdotal. There’s no way to prove whether what appear to be miracles are just freaks of chance, illusions, or actual supernatural interventions into our reality.

Looking at the entire picture, however, it is apparent that miracles, both supernatural and otherwise, are not limited to Christians. If the god of the Bible is behind them, then he appears to show no preference for his people.

Christians however, at least the fundamentalists varieties, turn a blind eye to such inconvenient aspects of events. For fundamentalist Christianity is all about being special. You are God’s chosen. He is going to inflict calamity on all of humanity and send everyone to hell — except you. He will single you out, give you aid in suffering, reward you with miracles, and take you up to his mansion in the sky. He will pluck you out of crashing airplanes and move heaven and earth to connect you with your perfect life partner.

Because you’re special. You’ve got the truth. You’re right, and everybody else is wrong. You’re smart and they are stupid. You and your culture are center of the world, and everyone else out there is living wrong and missing out. Only you matter. God loves you best and saves his miracles just for you.

As long as you keep your eyes and your mind closed, that is. As long as other people, their lives, and their stories, simply don’t matter to you.

This is the secret of faith and the key to heaven.

The key message for Christians is to keep your eyes on the small picture and avoid the big picture. When you censor out certain details of an event, it can be made to appear to be miraculous. Why deal with unsympathetic reality when you can bathe in soothing fantasy?

(3124) Ten evangelical maxims

One of the ways to determine if evangelical Christians are interacting with an actual supernatural entity is to examine the language they use when referring to their faith. In the following, the ten most used mantras are discussed along with a handy translation for secular observers:


We’ve all heard them. Every evangelical community echoes them over, and over, and over again. It’s only when you question them that the fig leaf starts to slip…

1.God is in control. Translation — My child has a terminal illness. That hurricane is headed straight for our town. And on top of all that, I’ve been laid off from work. But all of that’s okay because I keep remembering that God is in control. If I let myself despair about any of this, I will have failed God and demonstrated my lack of faith. Then I will feel guilty on top of it all. So I’m going to keep saying it in hopes that maybe God won’t send any more calamity my way.

2. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Translation — There is no way I can justify why God allows such devastating tragedy in the world, or why my family member was stricken with that horrible disease. But God is all-powerful and 100 percent good and correct. So in order to make that true, I’m just going to call it a mystery and go sneak a bottle of something really spiritual.

3. The Lord is calling me. Translation — I really want to do this thing, but some people aren’t going to like it. So if I’m going to be allowed to do it, I’ve got to appeal to God’s authority. This way, If they nix it, they’ll be disobeying God. I just hope they don’t say the Lord is leading them to oppose it. I hate that. Why does God do that to us, anyway? I hope his ways don’t get mysterious this time.

4. I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Translation — See, I’m not a hypocrite after all! In fact, I have a get-out-of-hell-free card, and you don’t! I can be as cruel, vicious, inconsiderate, and greedy as I want to be. I can lie, cheat, steal, rape, and even murder, and I’ll still be chilling my heels in heaven while you’re burning in hell!

5. I’m searching for God’s plan for my life. Translation — my life is all set out in God’s plan, so now I’ve got a crisis. Because even though it’s all pre-determined, I’ve got to find out what it is so I don’t screw it up and get God mad at me. It’s his plan, but it’s my responsibility. So I’ve got to read all these tea leaves, closed doors, open windows, and magic Bible verses to make the right choices! And I’m so afraid it’s a plan I’m going to hate. But I have to stop worrying about it, because that means I don’t trust God and he doesn’t look kindly on that lack of faith!

6. God fits the burden to the backTranslation — God doesn’t inflict more woe upon me than I can handle. He’s not going to torture me so much that it breaks my faith in him. This horror I’m experiencing is actually a good thing because it means God trusts me. He knows my faith is strong enough to handle it and I won’t break down and tell him where to stick it. It means I’m doing something right. Yay me! There’s no way I’d want to go back to those bad old days when my faith was weaker and my burdens so much lighter. Would I?

7. We are to be in the world, but not of it. Translation — The world that God created is bad. It’s evil to the core, ruled by Satan, and I am constantly trying to free myself from it so I can be a spiritual being guided by faith in him alone. But meanwhile, the world just keeps making all these demands of me. Deep, deep inside I know that God is not really going to pay my bills or kill those worldly desires I feel. No amount of prayer and Bible study has managed that after all these years. So I actually have no idea what this means, but I keep saying it while I comply with the world because otherwise, god might spit me out of his mouth.

8. God used that experience to teach me a lesson. Translation — Everything that happens to me is all about me. All those other people who were killed, damaged or traumatized in that episode of my life mean nothing. They were just props in god’s lesson plan for me. So be careful about letting me into your life. The Lord just may decide you could fit into a lesson too.

9. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Translation — Okay, I know it’s not actually in the Bible, but I need to say it anyway. Because it’s the only way I’m going to get out of that mission trip, or that Easter pageant, so I can work some overtime and get caught up, or take that massage class so I can get my side hustle started. I can’t let anybody think I’m just choosing the evil world and not trusting god to take care of me. I can’t let myself think that either. So I’m going so say it, I’m going to believe it, and so are you.

10. I have Good News for you! Translation — If I don’t evangelize you, Jesus is going to put me on his black list. He’ll say I’m choosing the world over his kingdom, ignoring God’s will, and squandering my life’s whole purpose. Your eternity in hell will be my fault. I will look like a failure to my pastor and church community. So could you do me this really big favor and let me put this millstone around your neck? Don’t worry. It’s just like mine. All of us have one, and we will teach you how to carry it so you too can find the truth that sets you free.

If the god they are worshiping was real, the language would be very different. There would be no need to invoke mysterious ways or to make rationalizations for unfavorable events. The truth of this god would be evident and the burden of proof would fall on skeptics to explain in natural terms the myriad and amazing miracles that regularly would  be occurring in this god’s name.

(3125) Why Christianity succeeded

For people who think that Christianity’s success is the result of it being the one true religion, there is a compelling counter argument suggesting that the architecture of the faith is a better explanation for this favorable outcome. Here are some of the reasons why Christianity spread so rapidly:

1) It hijacked an existing religion rooted in antiquity, Judaism. If it had been strictly a new religion, it would not have enjoyed the anchoring effect of being grounded in a long existing faith tradition. Today, Mormonism and Scientology suffer from that problem.

2) The Roman Empire adopted it as the official faith in 313 CE. Thus while the empire was at its largest extent, the adoption of Christianity fueled its rapid growth throughout southern Asia, Europe, and northern Africa.

3) The invention of hell scared people to death. Suffering was endemic at the time and the thought of suffering for eternity in an even more excruciating cauldron of fire was enough to make people seek any measure to avoid that fate, including joining a religion that might have seemed ridiculous on its face.

4) Unlike the pagan mystery religions, the measure of judgment in Christianity was very inviting – because it didn’t require you to do anything, just to believe that a god man died and rose again. Very little effort to attain a spectacular reward was hard to resist.

5) It offered free and easily accessible forgiveness, making it an incentive for anyone seeking to indulge in their guilty pleasures. It gave people license to sin knowing that they could immediately afterward ask forgiveness. This might not be the way it was intended, but the easy accessibility of forgiveness gave many the idea that they could cut corners on the rules. The idea that doing something bad could be totally wiped away was very appealing, as opposed to the pagan religions that had these sins permanently attached to their record.

6) Christian warriors made life for non-Christians very uncomfortable if not dangerous. So to be safe, many became Christians just for personal protection against blood-thirsty crusades , inquisitions, and the like.

7) The discoveries of the New World were conducted by Christians for the most part, ensuring that North and South America would become predominantly Christian.

So, it total, the success of Christianity becoming a world-wide religion can be discounted as evidence for its truth. Rather it was a combination of secular factors that synergistically allowed it to dominate the world.

(3126) Christianity rejects equal relationships

In the following it is conjectured that an essential element of Christianity’s problem with homosexual unions is that they are not consistent with its overriding doctrine that all relationships must have someone in charge and someone submissive to that authority. The notion of an equal partnership is foreign to the scriptures. The following was taken from:


I had a realization about why the bible condemns homosexuality. Every relationship in the bible (sexual or not) is hierarchical and dominant-submissive based. Christians quite literally cannot comprehend a relationship based off equality.

God and his creation.

God and the Israelites.

The Israelites and the King.

Men and women.

Man and wife

A master and his slave.

A father and son.

Everything in the bible always views things in dominant-submissive terms. The relationship between a man and his wife was especially like that. Just read all the misogynic passages themselves. So in a relationship consisting of two men or two women Christians can’t help but subconsciously think “Wait so who oppresses who?” and therefore that means it’s “wrong.”

Dan Barker once quoted “If there is no God, what is the purpose of life?” is like asking, “If there is no master, whose slave will I be?” If your purpose of life is to submit as a slave, then your meaning comes from flattering the ego of a person whom who should detest.”

Christianity flounders in a world that promotes equality. It demands rank and obedience to authority. As such, it has become increasingly obsolete.

(3127) The Sanhedrin’s death sentence was correct

The gospels and general Christian dogma asserts that Jesus was unjustly sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and that he was innocent of all charges. But if we assume that the gospel accounts are historical, it is evident that the Sanhedrin followed their scriptures and procedures correctly in imposing this sentence. The following was taken from:


If the trial before the Sanhedrin actually happened, and Jesus really did imply that he’s God, the Sanhedrin were correct by their own law to condemn him. Jesus is exactly who the Torah warned them about, they were right not to trust him (and the gospels are wrong to condemn them for it).

Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Deuteronomy 12:32-13:5 (ESV)

Jesus added to and took from the law. He prophesied the future and performed signs and wonders. He told the Jews they did not know their own god, which seems pretty much the same as saying “‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known.” This was a test for the Sanhedrin (who surely knew of the miracles Jesus had performed per the gospels) to do the right thing and obey the Law, which said to put Jesus to death.

Deuteronomy 13 gives no exceptions for resurrections. It doesn’t say “But if that sign or wonder is a resurrection, then it’s OK and you can trust them.” If Jesus actually claimed to be God, then whether or not he actually was, he was justifiably condemned to death by the Law of Moses.

I do not mean to come off as too unfair to Jesus, I’m just saying you can’t blame the Sanhedrin for following the law to the letter. For them, Jesus could not have been God, NO human could. Not even the Messiah. Any god that is also a man is not a God that they had known.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Numbers 23:19

In reality, it is much more likely that Jesus was put to death by the Romans, viewing him as an insurrectionist who was a threat to the public order. But the gospels steered the narrative in a way to blame the Jews, though in so doing, they mistakenly overlooked the fact that the death sentence would have been in accord with Jewish customs.

(3128) The truth shall set you free

The flip side of that iconic scripture (John 8:32) is the reverse of what was intended by the author. The truth of God’s non-existence is the most freeing thought of all. The following is a quote by Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899):

When I became convinced that the universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave.

There was for me no master in all the wide world – not even in infinite space. I was free – free to think, to express my thoughts – free to live to my own ideal – free to use all my faculties, all my senses – free to spread imagination’s wings – free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope – free to judge and determine for myself – free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the “inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past – free from popes and priests – free from all the “called” and “set apart” – free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies – free from the fear of eternal pain – free from the winged monsters of the night – free from devils, ghosts, and gods. For the first time I was free.

There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought – no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings – no chains for my limbs – no lashes for my back – no fires for my flesh – no master’s frown or threat – no following another’s steps – no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

Although this doesn’t specifically point to the falseness of Christianity, it does suggest that the doctrine is a weight on free thought that, taken to its limit, restricts many people from ever achieving full consciousness. Or, taken another way, if Christianity was true, embracing it should be a more freeing experience than dismissing it. But it isn’t.

(3129) Miracles lag behind medical science

It is telling that what Christian take as miracles are mysteriously synchronized to the timeline of advancements in medical science. Thus while dissing science in many quarters, they want to take advantage of it when it suits their needs. The following, written as though God is speaking in the first person, was taken from:


[An] annoying habit my “miracles” seem to have is that they always seem to tag along, just behind medical science, like an annoying kid brother who won’t go away. Until the mid nineties, those with AIDS who prayed for a miracle were never granted one. Medical science finds a way to permanently suppress the disease, and all of a sudden I start to perform miracles with AIDS patients. No polio patient ever received a miracle until the Salk vaccine and I routinely ignored cancer patients until chemotherapy and radiation treatments were developed. Suddenly, prayers to me from cancer patients are regularly “answered.”

Why is it that I still seem deaf to the pleadings of amputees who would like their fingers, arms or legs back, to those who have physically lost eyes or ears, to the horribly burned and to all others who ail from patently visible and currently incurable maladies? Why is it that, at the very same time, I am very receptive to the prayers of those whose condition is uncertain, internal and vulnerable to miraculous claims?

Take five minutes to make two lists; one of those ailments I will miraculously cure and the other of those I will not. You will quickly find it coincides perfectly with those conditions medical science (or the human body itself) can defeat and those we cannot. Why do you think that is? It is almost as my miracles are created out of medical ambiguity isn’t it?

There are some Christians who will rationalize this issue by saying that their prayers have resulted in the medical advancements that are enabling these ‘miracles.’ So, in effect, God is using science to answer prayers. But that devolves into the syllogism;

god + effort = results

effort = results

Now solve for god. Yes, it is not wise to assume a cause that is not necessary to explain a result. God is not needed to explain any of these ‘miracles.’

(3130) Mark enjoyed creative license

Most people around the time of Jesus lived to be in their 30’s. It has NOT been proven that people lived much longer outside of the claims of the Bible. Sickness, birth complications, poor diets, wild animals, unsanitary conditions, plagues, primitive and sometimes dangerous medical procedures, and much more kept life expectancy not much beyond 40–45 years…ever.

Paul wrote primarily in the 50’s or about 20-30 years after Jesus’ death, but he didn’t flesh out any details of Jesus’ life other than an offhand reference to a final meal, a death, and a resurrection. So when Mark wrote his gospel (the first one) around 70 CE, or about 40 years after Jesus’s death, he had the huge advantage of not having to worry about being challenged or proven wrong by eyewitnesses (most all of whom would have been dead) concerning anything he wrote. This would have emboldened him to add a lot of creative details that had no basis in fact. And this is what he did.

Imagine that you were involved in an unusual event when you were five years old. There were many witnesses there who saw it happen. Now, at age 15, you decide to write a story about it. You know that most of the witnesses are still alive, so you exercise caution to make sure that you don’t add anything to or exaggerate the event. But let’s suppose you are 75 and decide to write about it. Discounting the problem of faded memory, at this point you know that virtually no eyewitnesses remain alive, so you feel free to embellish the account to make it seem more amazing. This was the position that Mark found himself in- not worried about being directly challenged.

This is why the lack of a more contemporaneous gospel is such a big problem- had one been written in CE 40, the author would have been restricted to stay within the facts and would have not attempted to inflate or make up whatever met his fancy or promoted his agenda. This would have been a much more reliable historical record of what happened.

(3131) From reality to metaphor

Responding to advancements in science and overall knowledge, Christians have had to reconsider whether certain biblical stories express reality or metaphor. Absent the determined anti-science contingent, educated Christians have repeatedly had to retreat from supporting literal interpretations of the Bible. The following was taken from:


Considered in this light, the content of the Bible makes for strong evidence that its authors really did mean what they wrote, and that they weren’t just writing metaphorically. But honestly, we didn’t need Bayes’s Rule to tell us that; it’s clear from even the most cursory study of the historical setting that people back then actually believed this stuff literally. Like I said before, in the days before genetics and evolutionary theory, they had little reason not to believe the story that God had created humans and animals in their current forms. In the days before modern physics, they had little trouble believing that the rainbow was a symbol of God’s favor, or that thunder was a sign of his anger.

Just like the ancient Greeks believed that the gods really did live on the peak of Mount Olympus – an actual physical location in the real world – the ancient Israelites believed that God really did live in a physical location in the sky (Heaven) and that it was possible to reach it if, say, you built a tall enough tower (as in the Tower of Babel story). Of course, having invented airplanes and satellites since then, we now know that this belief is false – there’s nobody living up in the clouds – but it would be disingenuous to pretend that humans have always known that, just like it would be disingenuous to pretend that humans have always known that the earth is round, or that it orbits the sun.

Scientists like Darwin and Galileo didn’t get in trouble with the Church for no reason; people back then really did believe in a literal biblical cosmology that had the earth at the center of the universe. They believed the earth was only a few thousand years old. And they believed that it all started with two people named Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. If you’d gone back in a time machine and tried to talk to the biblical authors about the “true” metaphorical interpretation of their words, they would have looked at you like you were crazy (and/or gotten annoyed with you for misrepresenting them so badly). It’s only recently that the “it’s just metaphorical” interpretation has become popular – and that’s not because it’s actually indicated by the Bible itself; it’s because all the facts we keep discovering that contradict the Bible have forced believers to retreat to the “it’s just metaphorical” interpretation in order to preserve their belief in the Bible’s inerrancy.

Surrendering ground, making concessions, re-interpreting longstanding beliefs, and the like is not the sign of a true religion, but rather one that is rooted in an unenlightened, per-scientific past, requiring a new ‘paint job’ every time civilization progresses another step ahead.

(3132) Love is not Yahweh

So many ‘God is love’ memes populate Christian circles, but few followers bother to consider that their ultimate and cherished definition of love, penned by Paul in 1 Corinthians, is the direct opposite of their god. The following was taken from:


Here are examples of Yahweh’s loving jealousy…

He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. “If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” Joshua 24:19-20

Exodus 20:5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

IOW, love is not Yahweh.

Yahweh is not patient, he is not kind, he is jealous, he brags, is arrogant, acts unbecomingly, seeks his own, is easily provoked, and vigorously takes into account a wrong suffered and applies it to a multitude of future generations. By definition, Yahweh is not love, he is anti-love.

(3133) Testosterone can send you to hell

A study has shown that high levels of testosterone and other androgen hormones are correlated to a decrease in religiosity in older adults. Thus, a person’s’ eternal fate might be partially determined by biological factors beyond their control. The following was taken from:


The level of sex hormones such as testosterone in a man’s body could influence his religiosity. A new study by Aniruddha Das of McGill University in Canada in Springer’s journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology now adds to the growing body of evidence that religiosity is not only influenced by upbringing or psychological makeup, but physiological factors could also play a role.

Das analyzed data extracted from the 2005-2006 and 2010-2011 waves of the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP). This national study was set up to collect information from older American adults (aged 57-85 at baseline). Participants completed questionnaires in their homes in which they were asked about how often they attended religious services, and whether they had a clergy member in their core social network. Information was also gathered about participants’ weight and health, while saliva and blood samples were collected and later examined.

From the analysis of over 1000 men, Das found that men with higher levels of the sex hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in their bodies had weaker religious ties.

“Religion influences a range of cultural and political patterns at the population level. Results from the current study indicate the latter may also have hormonal roots,” says Das. “There is therefore a need for conceptual models that can accommodate the dynamic interplay of psychosocial and neuroendocrine factors in shaping a person’s life cycle.”

He believes that more studies should be done to better understand how hormones, in particular, shape a person’s religious patterns in later life. This is of importance, as religion has been shown to have a positive influence on how people age and ultimately experience their later years. According to Das, the findings further point to biological reasons behind the particular personal networks and social affiliations that people form during the course of their lives.

“Without systematic exploration of these linkages, life course theory remains incomplete and potentially inaccurate,” adds Das. “More research is therefore needed on the reasons why androgen levels influence a person’s religious connections, and on the role that hormones play in structuring the life trajectories of older people.”

This adds to a growing body of evidence that a person’s relationship to religion is affected by many factors that are beyond their control. This creates a problem where the fairness of Christianity’s judgment scheme is called into question. When you are talking about eternity, with only a splendid place and a horrible place, it should be incumbent on the judge to place everyone on a level playing field.

(3134) Paul didn’t read the Tower of Babel story

One of more salient contradictions in the Bible exists between a legendary story in the Book of Genesis and a statement made by Paul in one of his letters. Paul states that God does not author confusion while the Babel story says otherwise. The following was taken from:


Old Testament, Book of Genesis, verse 11:9- Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

New Testament, 1 Corinthians, verse 14:33- For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Comment: the bible really shot itself in the foot with this one. After stating that god confused people with different languages which by the way is a ridiculous attempt to explain why different people speak different language, the bible later contradicts itself by stating that god does not cause confusion. This to me is the biggest contradiction in the bible.

These two verses cannot stand in unison. They present another example of how the Bible is not a consistent or well-coordinated book.

(3135) Jewish exemption

Consider a Jewish family living in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus, they’re devout and following the rules of the faith- but what is their eternal fate? Suppose the grandfather dies in CE29, just before Jesus dies and is resurrected. Does he go to heaven or hell, since he never accepted Jesus? Most will say he will go to heaven. Now suppose his son dies in CE45, long after Jesus has died. He, however has remained true to his Jewish faith and does not think that Jesus was a true prophet. Some Christians will say he had a chance to convert, but failed, and therefore would be sent to hell. But most Christians would say that God has carved out an exemption for Jews who don’t believe in Jesus because they’ve been ‘grandfathered in’ due to the previous Covenant. By logic, that exemption should still be in effect for Jews today.

But here is where a problem develops. Why would god give a contemporary devout Jew an exemption while not giving a similar exemption to a devout Hindu or Buddhist? Or for that matter, any person who faithfully follows the religion of their choosing. Why would someone simply luck out by being born into a Jewish family and enjoy eternal bliss compared to someone born Hindu who ends up suffering eternal torture. The Jewish exemption fails to make sense nor seems fair when you consider the fate of present day religious followers.

But if we jettison the exemption altogether, then the problem in the opening paragraph develops. By luck the grandfather died before Jesus died and made it into heaven without conditions, while his son lived too long and ended up going to hell. Some will say the son might have had a chance to accept Jesus and therefore ‘earned’ his way into hell, but for purposes of this discussion, it really doesn’t matter- he ends up burning either way.

So, now either we go with the draconian policy that anyone living past CE30 goes to hell unless they accept Jesus or we say that any person earnestly following their faith will go to heaven. In the former case, it makes Yahweh out to be a cruel butcher, but in the later case it runs counter to emphatic statements in the New Testament that no one goes to heaven outside of a belief in Jesus.

So, now the final retreat of apologists will be that everyone who somehow is judged to be not responsible for not believing in Jesus in this life will get a chance to do so after they die. This is the final cop-out and it belies common sense that once someone dies and is told to believe in Jesus or go to hell that they would choose to reject that offer.

So, in long run, there is no reasonable way out of this mess. Jewish exemption or not, the final verdict is that Christianity makes no sense.

(3136) The worst verses in the Bible

Any one of the following verses would cause any other book to be condemned for being excessively cruel or sexist. But the Bible gets an undeserved pass, because it has been inoculated by divine mystery. But it is time to end this charade. Any Christian reading the following scriptures and making excuses for them does not deserve respect- either admit that the Bible is not the product of an admirable (worship-able) deity or face severe condemnation from the rest of society.

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

“Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.” (1 Samuel 15:3)

“You shall not let a sorceress live.” (Exodus 22:18)

“Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.” (Psalm 137:9)

“When the men would not listen to his host, the husband seized his concubine and thrust her outside to them. They had relations with her and abused her all night until the following dawn, when they let her go. Then at daybreak the woman came and collapsed at the entrance of the house in which her husband was a guest, where she lay until the morning. When her husband rose that day and opened the door of the house to start out again on his journey, there lay the woman, his concubine, at the entrance of the house with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Come, let us go’; but there was no answer. So the man placed her on an ass and started out again for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)

“And the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.” (Romans 1:27)

“Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. ‘If you deliver the Ammonites into my power,’ he said, ‘whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the Lord. I shall offer him up as a holocaust.’ … When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah, it was his daughter who came forth, playing the tambourines and dancing. She was an only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her. When he saw her, he rent his garments and said, ‘Alas, daughter, you have struck me down and brought calamity upon me. For I have made a vow to the Lord and I cannot retract’.” (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)

“Then God said: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you’.”(Genesis 22:2)

“Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)

“Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.” (1 Peter 2:18)

These verses are the tip of the iceberg. The Bible contains hundreds of similar verses that belie any possibility that they represent the inspired words of a benign deity.  To extol it because of some nice verses is equivalent to a woman who was raped saying ‘Well, before that happened we did have a nice dinner together.’ The Bible is a bunch of shit.

(3137) Before and After

The following relates the irony of the fact that the Israelites were behaving better before Moses brought down the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai than afterwards. This runs counter to expectations- that the Lord’s gift of rules would enhance the quality of their conduct. The following was taken from:


One man made a very astute observation. He said before the ten commandments came to be, there were tribes. Mankind, therefore, already had social laws in place. People co-operated, loved, cared for, and supported one another. So who needed commands from one more invented invisible deity? All of this natural morality existed before the ten commandments. But what happened after them?

What about that Golden Calf story? It’s in Exodus 32, if you’re wondering. Long story short, after the Israelites are delivered out of Egypt, they make a stopover near Mt. Sinai, and Moses, the leader, goes up the mountain alone to speak with the “god” no one has seen. He’s up there so long, it looks like he’s skipped out on them. They’re bored, and ask the second-in-command man to fabricate this god upstairs into an image representing that “god.” After he does (here again, according to Moses alone), the “invisible god” on the mountaintop tells Moses he’s pissed off and is going to destroy the lot of them. Moses says he talked him out of doing this, arguing it would be bad for “god’s p.r.” if the Egyptians passed it around, “their god only delivered them so he could wipe them out in the desert.” Nice move.

Now Moses just happened to be just another self-ordained god-spokesman, a.k.a. nut job, another one of those who go off as hermits with brains cooked and hallucinating in the searing desert heat, hearing their “god” speaking to them. (And he had over a month to spend chiseling letters in rocks.)

To continue, Moses, in a huff, and after 40 days away from his people, goes down the mountain and sees the people singing and dancing! Enjoying themselves! He breaks those ten commandments tablets he claims were written by “god,” (one of them being, “You shall not kill”), and makes the people eat the dust made from the idol he pulverized. As if that weren’t punishment enough for idolatry, he tells the men from the tribe of Levi, “Thus says the Lord: grab your swords, go to and fro through the encampment, and “each one of you kill his brother, his companion, and neighbor.” Now just picture this taking place! Tallying up the slaughter, it’s claimed “only” 3000 were killed. Compare that to the number of victims on 9/11/2001. Thank you, Lord.

Now, I myself don’t believe a word of this story. To begin with, the ancient Egyptians, who kept meticulous inventory of day to day events at that time, never mentioned Moses or the Israelites being in Egypt. I couldn’t care less, but millions of people believe this wacko story. I’m writing about it to point out something. Read the section following Moses’s descent from the mountain to any believer, and that believer will have no problem accepting what followed. But think about this: before the commandments, the tribes came together and co-operated to make their journey. Families, husbands, wives, children, slaves, etc. After the ten commandments, after they “got religion,” then the slaughter of one another began. And no believer has a problem accepting this outcome.

This is another example of bad fiction. When you are making up a story such as this and you want to showcase the pinnacle icon of your faith- the Holy Grail- you certainly should show that the receipt of this product of divine insight had immediate positive results. Readers of this portion of the Old Testament are left speechless.

(3138) God is not anthropocentric

Christianity developed at a time before humans determined their position in the universe, and it is largely based on a misconception that the earth is at the center and that everything else revolves around it. Since then much has been learned about how enormous the universe is and how insignificant the earth is in comparison. Even neglecting the size difference comparison, the fact that the earth is not in privileged location also speaks of its relative insignificance. Based on this, it is hard to believe that a singular, universal god would be interested in us. The following was taken from:


If a god exists, we’re nothing special to them. We live in an incredibly vast universe that spans 45 billion light years and contains two trillion galaxies. Each of those galaxies could have upwards of half a trillion stars, with trillions of planets. It’s true that we haven’t yet seen conclusive evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life but it’s ludicrous to think that they aren’t out there somewhere (and probably in abundance). And I’m just talking about the region we can observe!

When most religions developed, humans had a geocentric view of the universe. They thought Earth was the center of attention since the sun, moon, and stars appeared to revolve around it. Some religions like Christianity fought tooth and nail against the heliocentric view once astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo started to question the prevailing wisdom. Eventually most accepted the enormity of the cosmos and the apparent insignificance of our planet, but continue to advocate for the idea that somehow the entire universe was created in order for humanity to develop.

Maybe there is a god out there, I have no idea. I’m agnostic on that question. But I am extremely confident that if god exists, we take up next to no space in their mind. I am not the biggest fan of this conclusion since it’d be cool if there were a god who cared about us more than any other creature but I see no reason to think that’s true.

The Bible suggests that the earth was God’s special place and that humans were God’s special creation. This view no longer holds up under scientific scrutiny. It is likely that if Christianity was originating in this era, it would have registered a very different outlook- for instance that there are many gods, one for each planet harboring intelligent life, and that Yahweh is the one overseeing the earth.

(3139) Three stages of God’s salvation plan

From the dawn of man to the present day, God has offered three successive salvation plans that first allowed no one into heaven, then allowed Jews only into heaven, and finally allowed anyone into heaven. Evidently, God became more generous over time. The following was taken from:


God created the world and everything in it, and lastly he created humans who were his favorite creation that he loved like we love our children, if not more. Unfortunately these first humans disobeyed him and because of that they can no longer be around God when they die because of this sin. This is the nature and sin and God, which God cannot change. Due to this disobedience and the fall of man, every human since the very first human until Abraham had no mechanism to cleanse their sins and therefore could not enter heaven (I would say “go to hell” but I’ll keep it generic to encompass more schools of faith) Then Abraham came along and God decided he wanted to changes things up a bit. He made a covenant with Abraham that the Israelites would be his people and him their God. He also gave them very specific rules on how to kill animals in order to have these sacrifices absolve the Israelites of their sins. If the priests preformed these sacrifices then the Islrealites would be purified and could enter heaven. Anyone who wasn’t an Israelite had no way to absolve their sins and so therefore could not enter heaven.

This was the case until God, through his great love for humans sent his own son to Earth to die as a sacrifice for everyone. Now for the first time since the beginning of humanity non-Israelites could cleanse themselves of their sins. However the only way to do this is to accept Jesus’s sacrifice and ask him into your life. This was a small grassroots movement that eventually spread to a large part of the world. If you were lucky enough to hear about Jesus and believe in him, you can go to heaven. If you’re not lucky enough to be in a spot that you heard of him, or you weren’t convinced then you can’t erase your sin and can’t go to heaven.

I’m summery if you lived: Between the first humans and Abraham there’s no covenant and no heaven

Between Abraham and Jesus and were an Israelite you could go to heaven through specific animal sacrifices. If you were not an Israelite, sorry, no heaven.

From Jesus on if you heard of Jesus and believed in him, heaven. If you didn’t know or didn’t believe, no heaven.

The obvious question is why God would engineer three successive salvation plans instead of installing a single consistent one right off the bat? It makes infinitely more sense to assume that this progression was the byproduct of human influence as the world’s history unfolded.

(3140) Consistency of religious texts

If the god of Christianity exists, it would be considered possible if not probable that religious texts from all parts of the world would express a certain measure of consistency. If this were the case, it would make a strong case for this god. If not, it would increase the unlikelihood thereof. The following was taken from:


Consider two theories: theism (God exists) and atheism (God doesn’t exist). And imagine we lived in a world where the religious texts from different societies across the globe and throughout history were all perfectly compatible with one another – they all told essentially the same stories and promulgated consistent doctrine, even though there was no way for the authors of those texts to have ever communicated.

Everyone would, sensibly, count that as evidence in favor of theism. You could cook up some convoluted explanation for the widespread consistency even under atheism: maybe there is a universal drive toward telling certain kinds of stories, implanted in us by our evolutionary history. But we can’t deny that theism provides a more straightforward explanation: God spread his word to many different sets of people.

If that’s true, it follows as a matter of inescapable logic that the absence of consistency across sacred texts counts as evidence against theism. If data D would increase our credence in theory X, then not-D necessarily decreases it. It might not be hard to explain such inconsistency, even if theism is true: maybe God plays favorites, or not everyone was listening very carefully. That is part of estimating our likelihoods, but it doesn’t change the qualitative result. In an honest accounting, the credence we assign to a theory should go down every time we make observations that are more probable in competing theories. The shift might be small, but it is there.

Any attempt to determine the truth of a proposition should consider all of the ways that it could be shown likely to be true, then examine whether those ways exist or not. The failure of religious texts worldwide to show any semblance of consistency indicates, at the very least, the absence of a universal inspiration delivered by the Christian god, who, if he exists, must have no issue with humans generating false doctrines about divine matters. In the least, this lessens the likelihood that such a god exists.

(3141) Christians know better than Jesus

Almost all Christians believe that they are exempt from the laws of the Old Testament. But to maintain that position, they have to ignore many verses in the New Testament, and they have to believe that Jesus was wrong about this issue.

Anyone who calls themself a Christian, and then claims that the laws presented in the Old Testament no longer apply, is claiming that they, personally, know better than Jesus.

Matthew 5:17-18

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Matthew 15:3-9

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if anyone says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever you would have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’he need not honor his father or mother with it. hus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you:

‘These people honor Me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from Me.

They worship Me in vain;

they teach as doctrine the precepts of men.”

Luke 16:17

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a single stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

and non-gospel authors of the New Testament

James 2:8-10

If you really fulfill the royal law stated in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

Romans 2:13

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but it is the doers of the law who will be declared righteous.

Romans 3:31

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Certainly not! Instead, we uphold the law.

If you have such a low opinion of what Christ had to say, why call yourself a “Christian” at all?

This is bigger problem than most Christians realize. They focus on a few verses of Paul’s that suggest that the laws have been superseded, but ignore the bigger picture and in particular what Jesus is alleged to have said on this matter. It is important to note that there is no direct statement by Jesus that the Law will no longer apply after his resurrection. A purely objective person reading the Bible would likely come to the conclusion that Christians should be following Jewish Law, and that if they are not, they are risking their status in the afterlife.

(3142) Atheism tied to cultural transmission

In another study that tends to eparates one’s religious predilection from internal factors, new research indicates that the probability of becoming an atheist is inversely proportional to the magnitude of religious cultural transmission that occurs during childhood. This proves once again that religious belief is in some ways beyond personal control. The following was taken from:


People who grew up in a home with relatively little credible displays of faith are more likely to be atheists, according to new research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. The study indicates that cultural transmission — or the lack thereof — is a stronger predictor of religious disbelief than other factors, such as heightened analytic thinking.

“Researchers have proposed a bunch of different theories about how religion works, why we have it, and such. I think that atheism is an ideal way to evaluate these theories. They tend to predict really different things about what ought to relate to atheism,” explained Will Gervais, a senior lecturer in psychology at Brunel University London.

For the study, Gervais and his colleagues surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,417 U.S. residents. The survey included the Supernatural Beliefs Scale, which assesses the degree to which people hold supernatural beliefs and asked the participants to simply indicate whether they believed in God. The participants also completed psychological assessments of perspective-taking ability, feelings of existential security, exposure to credible cues of religiosity, and reflective versus intuitive cognitive style.

The researchers found evidence that a lack of exposure to credibility-enhancing displays of religious faith was a key predictor of atheism. In other words, those with caregivers who faithfully modeled their religious beliefs, such as going to religious services or acting fairly to others because their religion taught them so, were less likely to be atheists.

“The importance of transmitted culture and context-biased cultural learning as a predictor of belief and disbelief cannot be overstated. Combined, this work suggests that if you are guessing whether or not individuals are believers or atheists, you are better-off knowing how their parents behaved,” the researchers wrote in their article.

Participants with a reflective cognitive style were only slightly more prone to religious disbelief, while those with better perspective-taking abilities were slightly more prone to religious belief. The researchers found no significant relationship between existential security and religious disbelief.

“A lot of people (atheists in particular) like to talk about how atheism comes from rational, effortful thought. This work joins other recent surveys in finding that this isn’t too accurate,” Gervais told PsyPost.

“Our best estimate is that atheism mostly comes down to cultural learning — specific cues we’re exposed to growing up about how sincerely those around us believe in God. Once those cultural inputs are accounted for, individual differences in more analytic cognitive reflection predict a little bit of surface variation, but it’s a pretty small piece of the puzzle.”

But the study — like all research — includes some limitations.

“Our work only looked at folks in the United States, which in a lot of ways is a peculiar place. And although our results are quite similar to results from places like the Czech Republic and Slovakia, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how religion and atheism work outside of the Western bubble that makes up most social science research,” Gervais explained.

“Doing this research and also talking to atheist groups, I’m always struck at the mismatch between people’s narratives about their atheism and the research. So many people seem really convinced that they’re atheists because they’re super rational and science minded. But large-scale quantitative research basically never shows that to be a major predictor of atheism. So what’s up here? Are the narratives off, or are our surveys just poorly calibrated wo what’s going on? I mentally chew on this puzzle a lot, and am never all that satisfied by it.”

The study, “The Origins of Religious Disbelief: A Dual Inheritance Approach“, was authored by Will M. Gervais, Maxine B. Najle, and Nava Caluori.

Why this represents a problem for Christianity is that it further exposes the legitimacy of its eternal judgment scheme to factors that are beyond a person’s ability to control. Christianity would like to assume that everyone is given an equal chance for salvation, but this study adds on another reason why that is not the case.

(3143) Jesus was a monster

It is disturbingly easy to construct a short argument for proving that Jesus was not the architect of ethical living, but rather a monster who promoted themes that fail under any modern definition of exemplary morality. The following was taken from:


A divisive asshole that introduced eternal damnation, made people fearful of their own thoughts, and told people to suffer oppression. He said hes not here to bring peace but to divide families. He called outsiders “dogs,” and used hell as a tool for oppression. He told people to gouge out their eyes and cut off their hands because its better to go thru life maimed then spend eternity in hell. He told people to not resist evil people and not fear those who destroy the body, but fear destruction in hell. He told people to sell everything they own and applauded a homeless woman for donating her only 2 coins instead of using them for food or shelter. He said he will reject his believers if they don’t give enough and his apostles were money hungry thieves. Not once did he condemn slavery or rape or pedophilia or child abuse or war, but instead he compared anger to murder so those wronged by others would feel unjust when upset about being harmed. Jesus was a fucking dick. Hes a total fucking monster.

This expose leads to one of three conclusion. Either we are talking about a totally fictional person, or we are talking about a person who was morally compromised, or we are talking about authors who fatally distorted the true nature of a valiant man. The former option best fits the evidence.

(3144) Ancient Greek author illuminates early Christians

There are clues about how early Christianity operated from the writings of the  Greek author Lucian of Samosata (CE 125 to approx 180). His writings let us know that Christians of that time were easily duped by charlatans, prone to encouraging their own prosecution (if not martyrdom), and not evidence-based thinkers.


Just to set this up, in the first sections of the work, Lucian provides background for his depiction of the historical martyrdom of Proteus Peregrinus at the Olympic games in Olympia (Peloponnese, Greece) c. 165 C.E. Here, Lucian describes Proteus as having been one of the top-most leaders of Christianity in Palestine, a teacher, and a writer of early Christian sacred texts. Eventually, however, Proteus had a falling out with the religion and (de)converted to become a leading Cynic philosopher. Lucian, not being a man who suffered fools, wastes little time in his satirical writeup of Proteus (De Morte Peregrini 1.11-13):

…And during that period [Proteus] learned the marvelous wisdom of the Christians by associating with their priests and writers in Palestine. And why? In short order, he made them look like children, as he became their prophet, cult-leader, synagogue head, and everything else all in one; he interpreted and explained their books, even writing many himself! They venerated him as a god, regarded him as their lawgiver, and enlisted him as their chief, second only to that one whom they still worship, the one crucified in Palestine for introducing this new cult into the world.

At that time, Proteus was arrested and thrown in prison, which procured for him no small honor toward his future career, succeeding in bringing about his desire for tall tales and thirst for infamy. The Christians, making this out to be a tragedy, made every attempt to have him released. Then, seeing this was impossible, attended to him in every other way, and not in low priority, but most earnestly. From dawn, old widows and orphan children could be seen waiting directly outside the prison, while those who had bribed the guards had managed to sleep inside with him. They brought him extravagant meals and read him their sacred stories, and Most Excellent Peregrinus, for he was still called this, was then named by them the “New Socrates.”

Some even came from the cities of Asia, dispatched by Christians at their common expense, to aid, to advocate for, and to encourage the man. They exhibit extraordinary speed whenever such public action is taken; for, without delay, they lavish all they have. And so it was with Peregrinus when so much money came from them occasioned by his incarceration, and he made off with no small revenue from this. For, the poor devils have come to believe they are going to be altogether immortal and are going to live on forever. For this reason, they disregard death and many willfully turn themselves over into custody. Thereupon, their first lawgiver [Jesus] got them thinking that they are all siblings of one another upon their rejection of the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and by practicing his laws. As a result, they disregard everything equally and regard them all as common property, and without any evidence receive such things on faith. If any occultist or trickster seeking to profit by the circumstance comes to them, such an individual in short order is able to obtain tremendous wealth by exploiting such idiotic people.

While one may observe much from this brief description, here I wish to flag three prominent items for discussion. First, notice the kind of individual who would rise to the heights of cultic leadership, the kind who would author their cultic legends and sacred writ, a carnival man who would defraud a credulous community, exploiting their irrational fidelity. Second, note also—and this relates to a subsequent installment that I am writing in parallel—the willfulness and provocation involved in early Christian “persecution.” As I shall point out later, such stuntmen not only made little effort to avoid civil attention from the authorities, they sought it out, even fetishizing their own incarcerations, punishments, and possible executions. Early Christian martyrdom was tactically provoked and deliberate in obstinance, and had nothing to do with fact-based historiological argumentation (regarding Jesus’ alleged resurrection or any other faith-claim). Third, notice the accurate, if disparaging, characterization of earliest Christians as gullible, irrational (non-evidence-driven), and given to any traveling charlatan.

It is instructive to learn about the general characteristics of the earliest Christians as this acts as a barometer to measure the likelihood of the faith’s initial doctrinal claims. A more seasoned, well-educated, and generally skeptical core of early followers would provide a measure of confidence in the faith’s dogma. On the other hand, easily duped followers would suggest the opposite, and that is what we glean from reading Lucian’s writings.

(3145) Thought control

Christianity not only controls what people wear, what they eat, what they say, and what they do, it also controls what they think. The tyranny of functioning as a thought police force is a further sign that Christianity is a man-made religion geared around curtailing critical thought, natural urges, and freedom of expression. By invading the brain, it strangles the life out its followers, typically for the benefit of those in charge. The following was taken from:


Imagine a world where the government has implanted chips in everyone’s brains. The chip has access to all of your thoughts throughout your life, and certain thoughts have been forbidden by the government. At the moment of death, the chip will recall any forbidden thoughts you have committed, and if you have had forbidden thoughts, it will release chemicals into your brain that will cause you to feel what seems like an eternity of unimaginable pain in a split second as you die. However, you can prevent this from happening by seeing a government official and confessing your thoughts to them. They will erase the confessed thoughts from your chip so you won’t suffer from the chip’s judgement at your death.

As frightening as that sounds, there are people who actually believe in a variant of this scenario. For example, the Catholic Church teaches that your thoughts can be sinful and that you can spend an eternity in hell for choosing to have a sinful thought. From the Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 1317. What is forbidden by the ninth Commandment?

A. The ninth Commandment forbids unchaste thoughts, desires of another’s wife or husband, and all other unlawful impure thoughts and desires.

Q. 1318. Are impure thoughts and desires always sins?

A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and we try to banish them.

From a Catholic website:

As taught by the ninth Commandment, an impure thought is grave matter. Desiring that impure thought, willingly and knowingly, offends against love of neighbor and love of God.

If you aren’t aware, the conditions for mortal sin in Catholicism are full knowledge, full consent, and a grave matter. I can understand why actions such as lying, stealing, and murdering are sinful, but why would thinking of something be a sin worthy of eternal damnation? This is going to sound quite dark, but if I sat here for several hours and imagined myself being a serial killer in graphic detail (and enjoying it), nothing would happen, because my thoughts have zero power. They are just thoughts, and no matter how many people I imagine myself murdering, nobody in real life will be harmed. At most, thoughts are temptations that don’t have to be acted upon.

When I was a Catholic, I was so distraught over the idea that my thoughts could be mortals sins that it brought out my underlying OCD and I became scrupulous. I had to go to therapy, and I struggled with it because I was told in therapy that thoughts are just thoughts and that they have no power. On the other hand, my religion was telling me that I could go to hell for my thoughts. In the words of St. Alphonsus Liguori (a theologian and Doctor of the Church):

When thoughts against chastity, which often occur without any immediate occasion, present themselves, it is, as I have said, necessary to banish them at once, without beginning to argue with the temptation. The instant you perceive the thought reject it, without giving ear to it, or examining what it says or represents to you.

So every time a sinful thought pops into your head, you must instantly push it away. Constantly having to play “thought police” with yourself probably isn’t good for your mental health, since being too harsh on yourself can cause OCD and anxiety. What if you agree that this mental policing is too cruel, and you begin doubting that your religion is true? Well, in Catholicism, having too much doubt makes you a heretic, so you can’t even seriously doubt your faith.

In the Roman Catholic Church, heresy has a very specific meaning. Anyone who, after receiving baptism, while remaining nominally a Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts any of the truths that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith is considered a heretic.

And what happens if you’re a heretic? According to Catholic Can.1364, you are excommunicated latae sententiae, which means you are automatically excommunicated without any official statement from the Pope or a bishop. Keep in mind that all of this can occur simply because of thoughts in your own head that nobody else knows about. This seems like a trap to keep people from asking too many questions. I had somewhat figured this out when I was Catholic, but I never articulated or explored the thoughts out of fear, which delayed my departure from the religion since I was afraid to even consider leaving. This is why I called such rules tyrannical. I don’t think religions should demand that their followers monitor their thoughts to avoid committing sins inside their own heads.

Probably one of the worst verses in the Bible is Matthew 5:28 where Jesus says:

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

This is how to control someone who has no way to prevent the clutches of that control. This is clearly a scheme to imprison the mind of the victims of this religion, to force a sense of worthlessness, and to create a permanent dependency on the institution. This is not the expected outcome of a faith governed by a real god.

(3146) Christianity perverts justice

Christians claim that God is just, but justice demands that a perpetrator pay for illicit actions committed by himself and not for those committed by another person. Christianity perverts this definition by shifting the punishment onto an innocent party. The following was taken from:


One of the central claims of Christianity is that God cannot simply forgive humans for their sins because God is perfectly just, and justice requires some kind of compensation/retribution for a crime. Conveniently, Jesus’s death is said to be the compensation/retribution which satisfies God’s justice, allowing him to forgive us.

However, as I see it, justice does not simply require that a punishment is inflicted, it requires that the punishment is inflicted on the perpetrator. Otherwise, it is not justice, it’s what we would call, “scapegoating”. Thus, Jesus’s death cannot satisfy God’s justice, because Jesus isn’t the perpetrator: we are.

If a murderer is convicted, we would not consider it “justice” for the murderer’s law-abiding friend to voluntarily suffer life in prison on his behalf. That’s not justice, it’s pointless scapegoating. Now, maybe if the murderer said that he was really sorry, and that he would never do it again, we might just forgive him, but we wouldn’t first need to inflict some kind of punishment on another person: that too would not be justice, it would be pointless scapegoating.

In its simplest form, my argument is this:

  1. Justice requires that the perpetrator of a crime/sin is punished.
  2. Jesus was punished.
  3. Jesus was not the perpetrator of a crime/sin.
  4. Therefore, Jesus’s punishment was not justice.

In my experience, most Christians will dispute premise 1, but only in this context: in any other context, and in any other system of justice (such as our own), they will gladly *agree* with premise 1, as with my example of a murderer given above. Disputing premise 1 is, in my opinion, an example of special pleading.

Judeo-Christianity defined justice very differently in its early days. At that time, punishment was levied against the perpetrator at the very least, and often to his family and descendants as well. Paul, in the New Testament, changed this completely around and set up a ‘punching bag’ where everyone’s sins could be shifted to the bag with another punch for an unlimited amount of times. This clearly is not justice and Christianity has lost credibility in trying to convince us that it is.

(3147) New Testament not written as sacred scripture.

Did you ever wonder why a letter written 1970 years ago by Paul to a specific church should be meticulously poured over word by word by modern scholars to determine how we should live our lives today, what we should wear, talk about and believe, and who we should reject? That is a question rarely considered by Christians. The New Testament is nothing more than the mundane writings of ancient people that have been sprinkled with magic dust so we can consider them the inerrant word of the creator of the universe. The following was taken from:


 Let’s start with the 21 letters. 13 of these are attributed to Paul. Paul and the other unknown writers wrote specific letters to specific people for specific reasons. They’re not meant to be read by mass audiences. And I certainly don’t think they’re meant to be a sacred text. In fact, I think Paul would find it blasphemous that the letters are being used in this way. It should also be noted that we’re not sure who wrote all of the letters attributed to Paul. The reason is some of these are out of Paul’s style. For example, biblical scholars are pretty sure he 1st Corinthians, but they’re not sure who wrote 1st Timothy.

How about the Acts of the Apostles? Same story with the letters, it’s not meant to be a sacred text or guidebook to your life. Why? It’s just a history of the early church. They aren’t meant to be read by a mass audience, simple as that.

What about the gospels? We have no idea who wrote them, but we do know that just like the Acts of the Apostles and the letters they were written to specific people for specific reasons. In fact, Mark and Matthew were written to specifically Jewish audiences for reasons that were specifically Jewish. Not gentile, not Christian, but Jewish. Mark, for example, was written after the failure of the first Jewish revalt against Rome. So, the next time some stupid ass White evangelical tries to tell you that Jesus is also here for the Jews, well, they’re right, but not for the reasons they think. But anyway, yeah, the Gospels are not intended to be read by a mass audience or be used as a guidebook for your life or a sacred text.

And now, the Book of Revelation. It’s just a political tirade against Rome that used coded language that only Christians and Jews would understand. Why? You can’t just openly speak out against the Roman government, they’ll kill you. The whole thing with 666? That’s just a coded way of spelling Nero’s name. The beast with 7 heads and 10 crowns? That’s referencing the Roman government, specifically, the 7 governors of Rome, one of which was also the emperor, hence there being 10 crowns when there are only 7 heads. The predictions it makes are for the immediate to near future for the people at the time. It’s not talking about anything relevant to us today. And It’s certainly not about vaccine or mask mandates, Karen. Just like the gospels, acts, and letters it’s written to specific people for specific reasons. It’s not meant to be a sacred text or a guidebook to your life or anything like that. You have to read it in the historical context it was written.

Why do I make this post? As an atheist I’m of the opinion that Christianity is bullshit. And I happen to find the idea that the New Testament is meant to be a sacred text or guidebook for your life to also be bullshit. This means, to me at least, Christianity is bullshit built on top of bullshit.

The contradictory, misogynistic, unscientific, outdated writings of twenty centuries ago should not be strangling the lives of modern humans. It’s time to move on.

(3148) Physical processes behind miracles

Most Christians accept the truth of biblical miracles without thinking much about how they happened in a physical sense. When you consider what actually effectuated the miracle and think about observing this process as it occurred, it raises a lot of doubts that it actually happened. The following was taken from:


Yes, they call them miracles, yes, it’s magic, yes, it breaks the laws of nature and thus requires no explanation (special pleading, duh)…

But! Imagining for fun that if it was true, in what way did it actually work?

  • Did Jesus walk on water and Moses part the sea by generating a force field?
  • In what way exactly did a donkey speak without having biological adaptations for speech? Got a human jaw and tongue?
  • When Jesus multiplied bread and fish, was it like a “The Prestige”-type of thing, generating copies of loaves and fish?
  • When Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, how did his body, including all organs, bounce back? Three days is a lot of rot of decomposition. Or did he just walk like zombie, bloated and “marbled”?
  • My personal favorite. When Joshua prayed to get more time to kill Amorites, and the sun and the moon stopped for a whole day, did the Earth just stop spinning? Considering the Earth rotation at the Equator is over 1,000 miles/hour (and even more where Israel is), that had to be a hell of a momentum. Or did all mass lose momentum, too? And did the Earth stop spinning instantly, or was there gradual braking?
    • And what happened to the Coriolis effect? Prevailing winds must have stopped.
    • Did the Earth also stop revolving around the sun, or just stopped rotating?
    • Also, if the moon stopped in the sky, this means it stopped orbiting the Earth, so it should have either started falling down or escaped the Earth’s gravity?

It might be easy to accept miracles on a surface level, but when you think about the nuts and bolts of how it must have happened, it becomes more difficult to accept. For instance, turning water into wine would have required millions of water molecules to break down into H+ and OH- ions and would have needed the introduction of billions of carbon atoms into the fluid. Maybe Jesus had the power to split water molecules but was he also capable of rounding up and injecting the carbon needed to complete the process? Was Jesus a master chemist? Of course, Christians will play their magic card and go blissfully on their way. The rest of us will  remain appropriately skeptical.

(3149) Christianity renders morality irrelevant

Although Christianity extols the virtues of moral living and makes myriad rules that are expected to be followed, in the end, it really doesn’t matter- all that counts is whether you are bathed in the blood of Jesus. That is the go- no go criterion upon which the faith is constructed. This renders morality irrelevant. The following was taken from:


But this is something of a moot point anyway – because according to the standard Christian doctrine, damnation isn’t actually based on your “crimes” in the first place. Whether you go to Heaven or Hell isn’t a matter of which sins you commit, or how good or evil you are during your lifetime; it’s just a matter of whether you’re a Christian or not. After all, the foundational premise of Christianity isn’t just that particularly wicked people deserve infinite suffering in Hell – it’s that everyone deserves infinite suffering in Hell, because everyone is sinful and unworthy – and that it’s only via the loophole of allowing someone else (namely Jesus) to be punished in their place that God is even willing to spare anyone at all.

Someone who lives a life full of kindness and charity, but commits one or two minor sins along the way (e.g. doing a bit of housework on the Sabbath, or lying to their grandmother by telling her that her cooking is delicious), is considered to be just as deserving of Hell as a dictator who tortures and kills millions. And if the dictator happens to convert to Christianity at some point, while the kind person lives in a part of the world where Christianity isn’t widely practiced and therefore never gets the chance to learn about it, then it’s the dictator who gets rewarded with eternal happiness, while the kind person is punished with eternal agony. All that matters is whether someone’s been saved or not; if they have, they go to Heaven, and if not, they go to Hell.

Contrary to the idea that Christianity judges people based on their morality, then, what it actually does is render morality irrelevant. According to Christianity, Mahatma Gandhi – who freed hundreds of millions of people using the power of nonviolence and compassion, and who also happened to be a Hindu – must burn in Hell for all time; whereas Jeffrey Dahmer – the cannibalistic serial killer and child rapist who converted to Christianity after his arrest – will be there to greet his victims’ friends and relatives upon their arrival in Heaven (assuming they’re Christian; if not, they’ll go to Hell themselves).

It’s a twisted kind of game; if your life circumstances are such that you’re able to successfully figure out the correct religion within the short span of time allotted to you on Earth, then you win everything – but if you aren’t able to figure it out in time, then you lose your chance to ever experience anything other than agony for the rest of time. And there’s not even any room for honest mistakes; as Larry Short puts it:

At the moment of death, the curtain drops and your fate is sealed. […] Even if (when confronted with the majestic God who created you, in judgment) you fell to your knees and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you and receive you earlier! I now understand the error of my ways. I believe in your now. Please forgive me, cover my sins with the blood of Christ!” God would shake His head and say, “Nope. Too late. Your fate is sealed, you will be tormented in hell forever for not taking this position 10 minutes earlier.”

A religion that actually honors the importance of morality would base afterlife judgment on the same, and state that anyone who lives a moral life, regardless of what they believe, will be rewarded. It would certainly state that what you do is more important than what you believe. This is where Christianity fails- it renders irrelevant the most important attribute of being a good person.

(3150) Book of Ezra pollutes the Bible

When it comes to major league xenophobia and the promotion of merciless divorce, nothing beats the Book of Ezra, that chronicals the return of the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity. The departure from supposed Christian ideals is stark and revolting. The following was taken from:


So far, Ezra is the singular most repugnant of the books of the bible I’ve listened to. Other books of course had their disgusting moments, but this book encompasses as its theme, wholesale abandonment of wives and children on purely religious grounds.

It seems to me Israelites were better off in Babylon. Clearly they began to settle in, became so familiar and fond of their neighbors that most of them married into interfaith/interracial relationships and had families. And reading the words of king darius/cyrus and his descendent artaxerxes one can plainly see the Persians were much kinder and generous toward Israelites than Israelites were toward any other non Israelites (generous provisions to rebuild the temple). But then after Ezra leads them back to Jerusalem he demands they trade their families for their ancestral land and their gods forgiveness.

He reacts to the intermarriage and mixed children of Israelites with “pagans” with sheer horror and disgust, a reaction that makes no sense whatsoever when considering Israel was under Babylonian captivity for at least 70yrs. What did he expect? Why was he so shocked by this? And further, why does he feel it’s his place to be concerned about other people’s marriages and families?

Ezra then sees himself fit to demand all the Israelites to “put away” their pagan wives and children. After a long demoralizing description on how disgusting non Israelites are and how immoral it was to have married them and mixed “holy seed” with them. The book ends without explaining what was done about the massive numbers of abandoned women and children. The context gives the reader no reason to assume they were provided alimony or child support or anything of that nature. Considering how poorly the Israelites (or at least ezra) looked at “pagans” (and esp the passage Ezra 9:12 that demands Israelites not to be concerned with the welfare or peace of non Israelites), its reasonable to assume they did nothing for them.

All this considered. Why is this book part of the Christian bible when Christians are so adamantly against divorce?

Considering that Jesus equated divorce with adultery and commanded his followers not to obtain divorces except in cases of infidelity, it is ironic that the Book of Ezra and the gospels are bound together under a common cover. Assuming that Jesus was real, did he ever read this book? We don’t know but if so he would likely have been repulsed by it. Needless to say, this book is an embarrassment to anyone who extols the Bible as being a pinnacle message from God.

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