(3151) Binary judgment does not work
Some Christians cringe on the idea that assignments to heaven and hell might send good people to hell while bad people go to heaven based, respectively. on what they believe. To solve the problem, they consider that God might actually grade people on the way they lived their lives. But this, too, creates a problem as discussed below:
And these aren’t the only problems. There’s also the fact that even if God were basing his judgments solely on virtue rather than belief, the Heaven-and-Hell system would still be a binary one, with no room for any level of morality in between absolute good and absolute evil. As TheraminTrees describes his own reflections, back when he was transitioning away from his belief in Hell:
Any just system should judge everyone fairly on their individual deeds. But that was incompatible with a binary system like Heaven and Hell. You couldn’t divide people into either good or bad. Human morality was a spectrum, with folks stretching across every part it. I imagined everyone who’d ever existed standing in a row from good to bad, with the person on the right marginally more good, [and] the person on the left fractionally more bad. How could you draw a dividing line – a cut-off point between the two sides, where one side went to Hell, the other to Heaven? It was absurd. Wherever you drew the line, it would be between two people with a virtually identical moral score. The difference between them might be a single deed. And yet one would be destined for eternal torture and the other eternal paradise. The irony was that many of my fellow Christians had spoken of Hell has the ultimate justice for those who escaped it in the earthly life. But Hell was about the most pathetic parody of justice imaginable. Yahweh should’ve been a moral genius. But the dichotomy of Hell and Heaven displayed the black-and-white thinking of an infant.
What this implies is that any binary system of judgment is doomed to fail. There really isn’t a fair way to send all of humanity to either heaven and hell. A better system would have been to say that everyone goes to heaven, and that the morally-challenged people would begin as servants there until they pay their dues.
(3152) Changing the Bible to fit beliefs
Tampering with the Bible to make it say what someone wants it to say is a time honored tradition. It has happened thousands of times over the past 2000 years. What someone reads today in any random translation is almost certainly not what the original author meant to convey. The following was taken from:
It’s ironic that the same people who call me a “Progressive” and a “Heretic” have no problem with the changes made to the Bible over the centuries to make the Scriptures say what they want.
For example, I’ve posted extensively about the fact that the word “Homosexual” never appeared in any English translation of the Scriptures until 1946. Evangelicals who learn this never seem to bat an eye at this and instead argue that the word “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible either [as if adding a word that isn’t there to change the meaning of the text is the same as pulling a concept out of the text and giving it a name].
Bottom line: They don’t care that the text was changed because the changes made support their beliefs.
They also don’t care that the word “gladly” was removed from Philippians 2:10-11 which should read:
“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should gladly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
That word, “gladly” suggests that everyone will eventually turn to Christ willingly and joyfully proclaim that Christ is Lord.The reason Evangelicals don’t care that the Greek word “exomologeō” [which literally means “to acknowledge openly and joyfully“] was downgraded to simply “confess” is because it leaves them wiggle-room to suggest that those sinners who eventually confess will do so through clenched teeth and bend their knees under protest just before they get roasted in the lake of fire forever.
Bottom line: Evangelicals who claim the Scriptures are inerrant and infallible don’t care that changes like this were made because it supports their toxic theology.
Evangelicals also do not care that the word “What!?” was removed from 1 Cor. 14:36 immediately after the verses Paul appears to say that “women should be silent in the church” and that “women should not be allowed to speak as the Law says” and worse yet, that “it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”
The problem with this is that it totally contradicts everything that Paul has already said in this very same letter about how women should prophesy and how everyone should participate together in the Body of Christ.
Plus, Paul [who was a Pharisee of Pharisees and studied under the High Priest Gamaliel] understood that “the Law” said no such thing about women not being allowed to speak. However, the Talumd does say this explicitly.
Go to the Greek for 1 Cor. 14:36 and you’ll see the word “What?” is there, even though it has been omitted from most modern English translations. Why? Because without that exclamation of shock it supports the notion that Paul was the one who said this and undermines the idea that Paul was actually quoting back to them from the letter they sent to him [see 1 Cor. 7:1] and then responding with “What?!” and then saying: “Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.”
And what was it that Paul was writing to them that was “the Lord’s command”? Every single thing that comes before 1 Cor. 14 [see 1 Cor. Chapter 1 through Chapter 13] where Paul gives instructions for how EVERYONE can prophesy and pray and share their gifts in the assembly. [Not just the men].
Evangelicals also have no problem whatsoever using the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Old Testament scriptures in their English Bibles. Why? Because even though it was created by Jewish rabbis almost exclusively to debunk Christianity, it contains verses like this in Isaiah 53:10:
“Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.”
This verse [and several others in the Masoretic text] suggest that God was the one who caused Jesus to suffer on the cross. This makes Evangelicals happy because they embrace the doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory [PSA].
So, what’s wrong with this verse? Well, it came a few hundred years after the birth of the Christian faith and it radically re-writes the older Septuagint text which was used and quoted by Jesus himself. [That’s right.]
Want to know what Isaiah 53:10 says in the original Septuagint translation? Here ya go:
“The Lord is willing to cleanse him of the injury. If you make a sin offering, our soul will see long-lived offspring, and the Lord is willing to remove him from the difficulty of his soul.”
Wow. Look at that! The Septuagint text which pre-dates the Masoretic actually teaches us that God’s response to the crucifixion of Jesus was to “cleanse [or heal] him of the injury” and that it was not God, but “you” [or “us”] who made him “a sin offering.”
For more on these sorts of changes made to the Old Testament text in the Masoretic text read THIS.
So, the next time your Evangelical Christian friends try to convince you that they only believe what the Bible teaches, or that they are the ones who care about the inerrancy and infallibility of the text, please feel free to remind them that their version of the Bible was carefully edited and altered to support the doctrines they claim are “clearly taught” by the Scriptures.
Until they actually start to care about these sorts of changes that were made specifically to obscure the true meaning of the Scriptures, I have no time to listen to them label me the “heretic” or “liberal” Christian.
This problem highlights why a real god would not use pre-modern-age texts to convey his message to humankind. The amount of nuance shifting, copying error, poor translation, and deliberate alteration is significant enough to ensure that future generations would receive a distorted message. This is not how and unlimited god would communicate with us.
(3153) Brain structure anomalies
Many personality factors can be shown to be caused at least in part by departures from normal brain structure. Most brains are very similar in shape, but where significant differences occur, depending on the area, they can have large effects on one’s personality. This grates against the Christian concept that people are fully responsible for their behavior and therefore can be fairly judged for such. The following was taken from:
This innate geometry and cabling can have real consequences for thinking, feeling, and behavior. […] Babies who suffer damage to particular areas of the brain often grow up with permanent deficits in particular mental faculties. And people born with variations on the typical plan have variations in the way their minds work. According to a recent study of the brains of identical and fraternal twins, differences in the amount of gray matter in the frontal lobes are not only genetically influenced but are significantly correlated with differences in intelligence. A study of Albert Einstein’s brain revealed that he had large, unusually shaped inferior parietal lobules, which participate in spatial reasoning and intuitions about number.
Gay men are likely to have a smaller third interstitial nucleus in the anterior hypothalamus, a nucleus known to have a role in sex differences. And convicted murderers and other violent, antisocial people are likely to have a smaller and less active prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that governs decision making and inhibits impulses. These gross features of the brain are almost certainly not sculpted by information coming in from the senses, which implies that differences in intelligence, scientific genius, sexual orientation, and impulsive violence are not entirely learned.
This is a further example of how science has intruded on religion’s turf. There cannot be a simple algorithm for one’s eternal destiny unless each person has an equal opportunity to meet the criteria set by God for entry into heaven. Perhaps God grades ‘on the curve’ but if that is the case, it is not reflected in scripture.
(3154) Fine tuning wilts under science
Christian apologists have long floated the idea that the universe is so finely tuned for life that it would be nearly impossible to believe that the physical constants of nature just happened to assemble themselves in this precise manner without some sort of supernatural influence. But like so many times, science has begun to invade their territory and once again they are in retreat. The following was taken from:
[Gregg] Easterbrook writes: “Researchers have calculated that, if the ratio of matter and energy to the volume of space, a value called ‘omega,’ had not been within about one-quadrillionth of one percent of ideal at the moment of the Big Bang, the incipient universe would have collapsed back on itself or suffered runaway relativity effects. Instead, our firmament is stable and geometrically normal: ‘smooth,’ in the argot of cosmology postdocs.”
Isn’t this, as George Will writes, “theologically suggestive”? Actually, this particular cosmic mystery may have already been solved, without recourse to theology. The answer lies in the theory of cosmic inflation, first developed by MIT physicist Alan Guth and now widely accepted among cosmologists. Inflation theory states that the early universe underwent a brief period of exponential growth before settling into the slower expansion seen since. And the relevant point here is that omega (which is a measure of the “curvature” of space) is not a constant; it changes with time.
Easterbrook writes that omega had to be “within about one-quadrillionth of one percent of ideal at the moment of the Big Bang.” But actually, omega could have started out at just about any number, and it still would have hit the required “ideal.” Why? Because this ideal is a very special number: one. If omega equals one, the universe is perfectly “flat” or “smooth” (whereas numbers higher or lower mean its geometry is warped by matter and energy). Now, think of a balloon; as it inflates, its surface becomes increasingly flat and smooth. And if the universe (or a balloon) is inflating exponentially – which is to say, extremely fast – then its geometry will get extremely flat very quickly, no matter how wrinkled it may have been before.
As Guth explains in his book The Inflationary Universe, “With inflation, it is no longer necessary to postulate that the universe began with a value of omega incredibly close to one. Before inflation, omega could have been 1,000 or 1,000,000, or 0.001 or 0.000001, or even some number further from one. As long as the exponential expansion continues for long enough, the value of omega will be driven to one with exquisite accuracy.” Moreover, in the billions of years since, as stars and galaxies formed, the curvature of space likely has drifted from its “fine-tuned” value. (In case you’re curious, current astronomical evidence indicates omega is somewhere between 0.1 and two.
The most promising remaining mysteries that apologists hang on to is how the Big Bang came to be, and how life emerged from non-living matter. There exist some compelling theories to explain these issues and it is likely that they will soon become part of conventional science. Religion is facing a continual gradual decline until the day when it will be superfluous to explain anything.
(3155) Gamification of salvation
If we look at salvation as a game that you either win or lose, and that each individual is assigned a certain level of difficulty, it becomes apparent that the levels are set too high for some people, and particularly for Hindus. The following was taken from:
Why did an all knowing God let Hinduism flourish? Not just flourish but be as deep and intricate as Christianity?
Yes some Hindus convert but what trajectory did their life stem from that made them more receptive to Christianity? Some Hindus had completely different trajectories that would make them less receptive so when they are introduced to Christianity they get their lifetime to decouple from their religious roots that them and their people believe in just as much Christians believe in Christianity.
If a Christian missionary presented Christianity to someone and that Hindu person scoffed and went about their day, they’re going to hell? If an older Hindu was interested or receptive about it but are still very much Hindu they would need to research, debate, discuss, compare/contrast, explore, pick the right denomination/sect, accept Christ as their savior all while coming from a totally different sphere of belief and do all of that before they die since they will go to hell otherwise.
This is like placing someone in a timed adventure game on a nigh impossible difficultly setting. It all seems rather sadistic and cruel in that it basically sets up some people to fail. I believe this calls into question God being framed as this compassionate omnipotent/omniscience/omnipresent being.
For Christianity to be legitimate, God would had to have made his existence known worldwide. There would then exist an imperative for universality in order to fairly impose a singular measure of judgment- which is what is preached in most Christian churches- that salvation comes only though the vicarious bloodletting of Jesus. If the God of Christianity was real, he almost certainly would have prevented the rise of Hinduism and other false religions.
(3156) Message shifting
If you are following a religion and you make predictions based on that faith, but when the outcome is not as promised, you don’t acknowledge the failure, but instead still declare success, you have unwittingly provided evidence against the truth of your faith. Message shifting is a sure sign of a false religion. The following provides a good example:
Myuncle Matt recently died of COVID. He was unvaccinated and in his mid-60s. When his symptoms got severe, he turned first to Ivermectin, then to the hospital, where he struggled to breathe for two weeks and ultimately died.
When Matt was still alive, the pastor was all about having faith in the power of prayer. God was mercy and love. God had a future for him. We could know he’d get better because various people heard that message from God as a response to their prayers.
This is an example of how Christianity, as generally practiced, is non-falsifiable, which in scientific terms means that it is untenable and discardable as a working hypothesis. The failure of Christians to admit to unanswered prayer is a sign that they are following a figment of their imagination, not a real thing.
(3157) Theodicy failures
Theodicy is defined as the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil. It has long been the difficult business of Christian apologists to explain how evil and their concept of God can co-exist. However, these explanations can readily be shown to be invalid. The following was taken from:
We all know what the Problem of Evil is, so I won’t go into much detail here. But basically, it is the idea that an all good and all powerful God wouldn’t create a world that is full of suffering and evil like the one we see. There are some famous theistic responses (called theodicies) to this that try to give plausible explanations for why God might permit the suffering and evil we see. I am going to try to show that the two most influential and popular responses to the Problem of Evil do not work.
Theodicy #1: The suffering/evil we see in the world is the result of free will. It is such a great good that sentient beings be able to freely choose to love God, that it warrants the allowance of the evil that may arise from such free will.
The problem: This might explain away evil and bad things in the human sphere like murder and rape, but it can’t account for natural evil. Long before humans existed, the earth was full of death, disease, predation, and pain and agony. To say that a dinosaur dying an excruciatingly painful death in a fire is the result of human free will is just not a coherent response.
Theodicy #2: We are not in a position to gauge whether or not God has a sufficient reason for allowing an evil. It may be that even the worst events, like the Holocaust or massive forest fires which kill billions of animals, bring about some greater good.
The problem: This is similar to the first theodicy, but avoids the issue of evil and suffering from before humans existed (as he may have some sufficient reason for allowing animal death and suffering that we just couldn’t know). However, this also falls apart in the face of certain types of suffering. Its hard to imagine the Holocaust bringing forth some greater good, but it is evident it had massive effects on humanity and so there could be some plausibility to a claim that it’s net effect (over a long time scale) will be good. However, it is totally implausible to say that a small event like painfully stubbing your toe, or hitting your finger when hammering in a nail, has any greater good associated with it. The toe stub doesn’t alter the world or your life in any way at all. It is a few moments of suffering which produces no associated good to offset it.
Conclusion: The popular theodicies against the Problem of Evil (especially in forms like the inductive problem of suffering) don’t seem to adequately reconcile the evil we see in the world with God. Evil, suffering and death were all present long before humanity existed, so so any theodicy (like those of Augustine or Iranaeus) which place blame for evil upon humans is doomed to fail to explain natural evil. Likewise, the theodicies based around God’s using of evil to bring about more goodness fail to account for inconsequential and mundane suffering like a stubbed toe.
The defenses of God’s apparent inaction against evil should give way to several possible concessions (if Christians are to be seen as being rational). One concession would be that God is at least somewhat incapable of controlling evil events and actions. Another might be that God is not entirely moral under the most pristine definition of such, or, in other words, he is not all good. But the problem for Christianity is that it is loathe to make any concessions concerning Yahweh, and this sycophantic attitude leads to the inconsistencies that skeptics readily observe.
(3158) Timothy’s weak prophecy
The second book of Timothy provides a window into how Christians of the 2nd Century thought about their faith. It contains what should be viewed as one of the weakest prophecies ever submitted and it also reveals its duplicity as a forgery claiming Pauline authorship. The following was taken from:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
—2nd Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV)
This so-called “prophecy” is nothing more than a gratuitous ad-hominem attack, much like 2nd Peter 3:3-5, as well as mundane. People have always been lovers of themselves, violent, treacherous, blasphemous and shit like that, so, it’s rather unremarkable.
But then again, why should anybody take 2nd Timothy 3 seriously, anyway?
The Pastoral Epistles (1st & 2nd Timothy, along with Titus) are considered to be 2nd century forgeries written by the Church Father, Polycarp (an alleged follower of the Apostle John, which is a spurious tradition, mind you).
The major giveaway that 2nd Timothy is a phony epistle is the first line (verse 1):
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…“
This is NOTHING like what we see in Paul’s authentic writings, in which he believed that the Last Days were already taking place in his time:
“This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.“
—1st Corinthians 7:29-31 (ESV)
“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.“
—1st Corinthians 10:11 (ESV)
Notice the implications here, that Paul believed that he was currently living in the last days and experiencing the end. That’s not what you find in the Pastorals.
So, I have to laugh when Christians show me this, because it’s nothing more than a crock bullshit, hollow words.
As I’m fond of saying, “Threatening me with Bible verses is like trying to rob a bank with a water gun.”
(3159) No separation between mental and physical
Christianity originally presumed that a person’s personality was separate from the body. This was how the doctrine of the soul came to be. But science continues to reveal the opposite- that a person’s mind is fully rooted in the physical structures of the brain. The following was taken from:
Now, if our reality really is entirely physical, and everything really is just the result of natural processes, then needless to say it doesn’t just have some serious implications for God’s existence; it has implications for other major metaphysical questions too. For instance, does a purely naturalistic worldview leave any room for the human soul? Is everything about our minds and our personalities also just the result of purely physical processes? Or is it possible for someone’s personality to exist independent of their physical existence?
As it turns out, this is another question where science has already given us some clear answers. As Steve Ramirez writes:
If neuroscience has taught us anything in the last two decades, it’s that the separation between “mental” and “physical” phenomena simply does not exist. We know this because of the tragic loss-of-function experiments that affect millions of people each year. Broken brain pieces give rise to broken thoughts. Pharmaceutical treatments, however, help glue together these broken thoughts. No amount of philosophy will fight off depression, but a blue pill called fluoxetine is effective. Schizophrenic symptoms shatter lives, but risperidone can intervene and help turn lives around. Minds can go into fits of mania, but these can be curbed by lithium. Parkinsonian symptoms are debilitating beyond belief, but they can be temporally kept at bay thanks to L-Dopa. Alzheimer’s has all sorts of dramatic effects on memory; donepezil can at least partly treat this kind of dementia. The general principle underlying the effectiveness of these pills is simple: physical stuff interacts only with physical stuff, and the mind is just that. Like a pill, it has a measurable mechanism of action.
Adam Benforado elaborates:
The soft tissue of the brain is the starting point for everything we do.
What is allowing you to perceive the words of this sentence, understand their meaning, remember the contents of the previous section, feel the pages or device you hold in your hands, and decide to continue on to the next paragraph?
The answer is nothing more than neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters. Take away these electrochemical interactions and that’s it: no thoughts, no emotions, no choices, no behavior.
Even for those with no religious inclination, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels as if we have something like a “soul” – independent, purposeful, and rational – directing our actions. How could that thing be nothing more than neurons generating electrical impulses, triggering chemical signals carried to other neurons? It seems improbable, impossible even. But that is the truth.
It is a humbling thought that our personality and sense of “I” is nothing more than atoms and molecules reacting in accordance with the laws of nature. But it is the truth. And it means that an afterlife is not an accessible goal for humans or any other living species. Death is final, and realizing that fact makes whatever life we do have more authentic than chasing after a fleeting fantasy.
(3160) Nine verse contradiction
The ‘inerrant’ Bible keeps entertaining skeptics who delve into its mysteries and keep finding contradictions like snowflakes in a blizzard. But one of the most egregious ones that takes the award for the most compact (9-verse separation) contradiction is as follows:
Thus the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun would not leave the tent.
“I will cause all My goodness to pass before you,” the LORD replied, “and I will proclaim My name—the LORD—in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
But He added, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.”
So, Moses should have died in Verse 11? This reveals one of the hazards of writing fiction. If God was real, and this book was accurately documenting what he said, this problem would not have cropped up. But when you are making things up, a fatal contradiction like this can occur, and it lets us know that the Bible is just another man-made product that had no special quality over anything else written during its time.
(3161) The question Paul couldn’t answer
Paul’s theology got him into trouble. It revealed a conflict between his assumption that God has predetermined everything against the assumption that each individual is responsible for his own fate. In his letter to the Romans, Paul anticipated this question but then sidestepped it – a tacit admission that he had no answer. The following was taken from:
One of the most horrible passages of scripture is Romans 9. Romans 9 speaks about predestination, and God’s creation of people for punishment, regardless of the fact they hadn’t yet done any wrong.
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”
Paul’s hypothetical asker asks the best question anyone can ask of the Christian God. It contains everything – the problem of evil, justice, mercy, punishment. etc. Could there be a better question? If God chooses everybody’s fate, predestines their sin and hardens their hearts, how can their conduct ever be considered their own fault, let alone worthy of punishment by the one who made them do it?
What makes this such a great questions is that man could never answer it. There is no satisfactory answer a man could say, because a God who punished people for things they cannot be ultimately responsible for fundamentally makes no sense and is not just.
It’s the best question anyone could ever ask of Paul. It cuts right to the heart of the character, workings and flaws of the Christian concept. And Paul knew it.
How best for Paul to get around it?
Why, cut it off before anyone has the opportunity to ask, of course!
Isn’t it amazing how Paul, a man inspired by the Holy Spirit, couldn’t answer this? Why couldn’t he? Fair enough if the man Paul had no idea how to reconcile this irreconcilable conundrum, but isn’t he writing under the inspiration of God? Doesn’t God have an idea about how this works?
A pattern I’ve noticed throughout the Bible is that God seems to lose patience for questions just as they get outside the threshold of human understanding. Anything we could figure out or reason ourselves, God is usually happy to answer. Anything that makes no sense, or descends into absurdity is either characterized by mystery or evokes a “STOP BOTHERING GOD, PATHETIC HUMAN” response.
I used to think the phrase “who are you o man” carried some great weight; that it was a powerful statement putting puny man back into his place for insolence. I see it in a different light these days. It’s fear tactics and avoidance by a man who knew exactly what question could defeat his position. R.C. Sproul tried it too with his “what’s wrong with you people” garbage, which his fawning, self-flagelatory crowd ate up with sycophantic applause.
Paul anticipated the Romans 9 question and cut it off because he couldn’t answer it. “Who are you O man” is not a triumphant, argument destroying declaration but the pathetic cop out of a man anticipating being cornered by the weak points of his own dogma.
Paul claimed to welcome people dissecting and examining his words, but resorted to “shut up and don’t ask” when they threatened to poke his weak spots.
It is difficult to blame anyone for anything if God has predestined everything or even if you take the lighter tack and say that God knows the future (even if he didn’t design it himself). In either case, it is irrational to assume that personal responsibility exists. For that purpose, it is essential to assume that God has limitations- something Christian theologians past and present are not prepared to admit.
(3162) Grab bag of religious diversity
It is instructive to conduct a census of current religious beliefs to understand how the market of supernaturalism has mushroomed over the centuries. In the following, we can see how the staggering number diverse religions renders the extreme unlikelihood that any random person has found the right one, assuming such exists:
Confidence in religious belief begs to be reconsidered when the sheer diversity of religious thought and practice is understood. While enumeration of the groups, sects, schools, doctrines, gods, scriptures, and practices of religions is inherently imprecise and subject to reclassification, it is nonetheless true that there have been many thousands of religious manifestations with myriads of differing supernatural beliefs positing thousands upon thousands of divinities. Though it is difficult to provide a representative picture of the true scope of this diversity, it has been so broad that it seems fair to say that it has only been restricted, in the words of one psychology of religion text, “by the structure and capacities of the human body and by the outer boundaries of human inventiveness.” While individual believers are often called to confidence or even certainty in specific religious beliefs or expressions, the innumerable variety of choices would seem to render the likelihood of reliable, comprehensive religious opinions as statistically negligible—even assuming that one of the options was known to be correct.
What follows is a somewhat eclectic list of facts and numbers which help quantify the incomprehensibly vast and complex religious alternatives that have been part of human religious experience:
- 0—There are multitudes of religions and sects that have appeared and thrived only to eventually lose all their adherents. Among the many dead world religions are the ancient Greek, Scythian, Babylonian, Hittite, Norse, Mithraic, and Celtic religions. One interesting defunct Christian group is the Messalians, a Trinitarian sect that eschewed the sacraments, devoted themselves assiduously to prayer, and existed from the fourth to perhaps the ninth century. From the Protestant tradition, one quirky example is the Muggletonians, a non-Trinitarian sect from England that lasted from 1652 to 1979.
- 2—A schism in Jainism between the Digambaras (sky-clad) and the Shvetambaras (white-clad) focused on whether it was permissible for monks to wear clothes and which scriptures were authentic. Two major historical sects within Zoroastrianism were Zurvanism and Mazdakism.
- 3—The Donatist Church of North Africa, which held that salvation was only possible within its fold, had at least three schisms: the Maximianists, the Rogatists, and the Claudianists. Not an insignificant sect, as many as 310 Donatist bishops gathered to denounce the Maximianist subsect in 394.
- 5—The Digambara Jains are divided into at least five subsects—Bisapantha, Terapantha, Taranapantha, Gumanapantha, and Totapantha. The ancient Sumerians had a great number of gods—but the five chief among them were the sky-god An, air-god Enlil, water-god Enki, mother-goddess Inanna, and her consort Dummuzi.
- 7—Though frequently described as monotheistic, Zoroastrianism has a group of seven lesser or derivative divine beings known as the Heptad or the amesha spentas. There are seven general categories of texts in the immense Hindu canon of Scripture: Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, Epics, Sutras, and Puranas.
- 8—Ancient Egyptians had a large pantheon of gods that included these eight: Anubis (the jackal-headed god), Horus (the falcon-headed god), Thoth (the ibis-god), Amon-Re (the sun-god), Osiris (a god of vegetation), Set (Osiris’ step-brother), Isis (the wife of Osiris), and the Pharaohs. The Baha’i religion, traditionally believed to be founded in 1844, believes in the following eight prophets or “Manifestations of God”: Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah (1817-1892).
- 13—There are thirteen main sects in “sectarian” Shinto. Dozens of movements have emerged from these thirteen forms. Some examples are the ascetical Shugendo, the Urabe, the Watarai, the Confucian-oriented Yoshikawa, Kurozumi-kyo, Suiga, Sanno-ichijitsu, and Minkan.
- 14—According to one enumeration, there were at least fourteen creeds created during the 4th-century Arian controversies in the Catholic Church. These include not only the original Nicene Creed, but also four different creeds of Sirmium and four different creeds of Antioch. One creed with Arian tendencies was known as the “Blasphemy of Sirmium” by its detractors.
- 16—There have been many different Sikh sects and movements including the following sixteen: Khalsa, Sanatan, Namdharis, Nirmalas, Udasis, Seva-panthis, Asali Nirankaris, Nakali Nirankaris, Radnasoamis of Beas, Sahaj-dharis, Nihangs, Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha, Damdami Taksal, Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere, Sant Nirankari Movement, and various Sant movements.
- 18—The traditional number of original Buddhist sects numbered eighteen. Only the Theravada school remains out of these original groups. Mahayana Buddhism was a later development—and there are now a vast variety of sects and communities in Mahayana Buddhism which include the major groupings of Pure Land, Tantric, and Zen schools.
- 19—Baylor University’s Baptist Studies Center for Research notes 19 different classifications of American Baptists (although there are certainly more). Theological differences include the predestinarian beliefs of Primitive Baptists, the Sabbatarian views of Seventh Day Baptists, progressive gender and sexuality beliefs of the Alliance of Baptists, the charismatic leanings of the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, and the civil rights focus of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
- 21—The Roman Catholic Church recognizes 21 Ecumenical Councils. (The Eastern Orthodox recognize seven, Oriental Orthodox three, and Assyrian Church of the East only one.) There are 21 “main groups” or denominations of Amish and Mennonites in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
- 24—The Talmud describes 24 competing Jewish sects.
- Dozens—There have been dozens of Taoist schools and sects over the centuries. Among these are the Celestial Masters school, the Perfect Realization school, the Great Purity School, the Ling Bao, Heavenly Mind, Divine Highest Heaven, Great Oneness Taoism, the Five Pecks of Rice sect, the Sacred Jewel sect, the Heavenly Masters sect, the Highest Pure sect, and many other groups collectively described as Spirit Cloud Taoists.
- 33—There numbered 33 gods in early Vedic Hinduism. Among these were Indra (warrior and storm god), Agni (fire god), and Varuna (sky and water god). Modern Hinduism posits thousands of deities—although some conceptions of the faith describe it as monotheistic.
- 40—A bronze model of a sheep’s liver made by the Etruscans, known as the liver of Piacenza, is divided into forty regions—each one belonging to a different god. The number of Sufi orders has been traditionally numbered at
- 40—although there are certainly more. There are also approximately 40 different types of Amish affiliations.
- 46—Scholar Yu-hsui Ku (1902-2002) noted 46 sects of Zen Buddhists in Japan.
- 70+—Muslim scholar Al-Ghazali (c.1058-1111) noted that there were “seventy-odd sects” in Islam, but only one would be saved. The two main divisions in Islam are the Shiites and Sunnis. Shia or Shiite Muslims have multiple groupings and subgroupings such as the “Fivers” (Zaydis), “Seveners” (Ismailis), and “Twelvers” (Imami). Sufis, typically regarded as the mystics of Islam, have often been at odds both theologically and devotionally with their stricter and more legalistic co-religionists; however, they have operated in the bounds of both the Shiite and Sunni umbrellas. Other Islamic groups have included the Kharijites (which at one point were divided into as many as 20 different groups), Ahmadis (who believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Mahdi and Messiah), black Muslim groups in the United States like the “Nation of Islam,” Quranists (who reject the hadith), Khubmesihis (who thought that Jesus was more important than Muhammad), Qadarites (who believe in free will), and the more rationalist Mu’tazilites. There are also various believers who have been more influenced by Western values who term themselves “Progressive Muslims.” According to one religion text, there have been “literally thousands of sectarian groups” within the general confines of Islam
- 80—Church father Epiphanius (c.315-403) cites 80 different types of heresies in his Panarion. In his 1864 Syllabus of Errors, Pope Pius IX outlined a series of 80 errors and heresies pertaining to modern liberal ideas and philosophies (like freedom of religion and the press). Interestingly, some of these claimed errors appear to be embraced in the teachings of the Vatican II Council (1962-1965).
100—Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) produced over 100 volumes of scripture that Baha’is regard as sacred. 1
- 100+— There are perhaps 100 to 200 Presbyterian denominations in Korea alone. Controversies related to Shintoism, theological liberalism, ecumenism, and clergy corruption have all apparently contributed to the schisms.
- 103—According to Liu Xiang (77-6 BCE), there were 103 Confucian schools of thought in the 1st century BCE.
- 112—The Hindu Scriptures known as the Upanishads are about 112 in number. If all the known Upanishads were gathered together, they would be about as long as the Bible.
- 128—In the fourth century, the bishop Filastrius of Brescia catalogued 128 heretical groups.
Hundreds—There are “literally hundreds” of small, independent sacramental groups in the United States that have branched off from Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions—and that show a variety of traditionalist, feminist, New Age, Quaker, Gnostic, Protestant, charismatic, and other influences. There are also hundreds of “Cargo Cults” in Micronesia which frequently contain beliefs that “spiritual agents will, at some future time, bless the believers with material prosperity (which, in turn, will usher in an era of peace and harmony).” Perhaps the most famous cargo cult is that of John Frum, whose adherents build faux landing strips in hopes of being blessed with material goods.
- 370—Although some could be variant names for the same deities, there are over 370 known names of Celtic gods and goddesses.
- 400—The Mormons have had at least 400 different denominational groups since 1830. The five most prominent of these are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (main or Brighamite group), Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites), Church of Christ (Temple Lot), Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Strangites), and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Community of Christ (organized by Joseph Smith’s son, Joseph Smith, Jr.).
- 401—There are 401 Orishas or gods in the myths of the Yoruba people of Nigeria.
- 1,500—The Taoist canon known as the Daozang is comprised of approximately 1,500 separate works.
- 2,290—Not to be confused with the lengthy Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism or the extensive Tibetan Buddhist Canon, the immense Chinese Mahayana Buddhist Canon, commonly called the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō, contains literally thousands of works.
- 10,000—According to the 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia, there are “at least 10,000 distinct and different religions” currently in existence.
- 36,000—The ancient Chinese concluded that 36,000 gods dwelled in the human body.
- 47,000—According to a 2019 report from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, there are currently 45,000 Christian denominations in existence and there will likely be 64,000 by 2050.
- 8 million—Traditionally, Japanese believers have claimed that there are 8 million Kami, or divine beings of Shintoism.
- Countless/uncountable—There are innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhist belief—among the most popular are Amitabha, the future “messiah” figure Maitreya, Avalokiteśvara, Samantabhadra, and Mañjuśrī. Traditional African religions and Chinese folk religions posit so many gods that they are difficult to even count.
These types of religious facts demonstrate that all people—albeit in differing degrees and in different ways—have religious doubts. Even those who are very religiously or supernaturally inclined could of course not accept all the religious ideas and perceptions stated or implied by such information—in part because many aspects of different religions are distinct, discordant, or even flatly contradictory. And while broader and more ecumenical perspectives endeavor to be more inclusive, they not only lack uniformity among themselves, but are also necessarily at odds with multitudes of more narrow approaches that deny such liberality. In other words, a significant degree of religious doubt is a universal human trait. So, while doubting specific religious teachings can at times make one feel like an outsider in a particular community, it is helpful to remember how natural and even inevitable religious doubt is to the human experience. The famous words of Enlightenment philosopher and author Voltaire (1694-1778) seem to provide a proper perspective on this perennial human struggle: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.”
Religious diversity is an indicator of the likelihood that any of the faiths are true. Less diversity would be a positive indicator because it can assumed that if a true religion exists, it would tend over time to absorb the followers of false religions. Without this effect, given no religion is true, we would expect to see an ever expanding sea of new religions and denominations as there is no built-in competitive edge for any one in particular. And this is what is observed.
(3163) God doesn’t do his best to save us
There can be no doubt even among fervent Christians that God could do much more to encourage more people to believe in and follow him and thus earn the reward of heaven. So this question is a problem for apologists- why does God let so many people go to hell that he could easily save? The following was taken from:
If God truly wanted every person to freely love and worship him, then he would do everything in his power to make that happen.
He cannot force people to choose him, because that would not be a free choice on their part.
However, there are many outside factors that influence and obstruct your free choice.
- Childhood. Most people follow their family religion. Most of the world is raised to believe in the wrong God. Usually your worldview, epistemology, and value system is determined by your childhood.
- Information Access. Many never hear the good news at all. Even if they’ve heard it, they may not have heard an elegant or convincing version of it, and thus have no reason to consider it as a rational option.
- Traumatic experiences. Some people have traumatic experiences with certain religions. This gives the religion a horrible association. It makes it hard for the person to believe it, even if it is true.
- Personality. Everyone is different, and each person is inclined to believe things for different reasons. Some people are just straight up irrational. Some people just believe everything they hear. Depending on your personality, you may have a very low chance of discovering the one true religion, because you are swept up in a cult or persuaded by a fraud. Some people are naturally extremely skeptical, and don’t really believe in anything. This person may never have a chance to accept the one true God because they are naturally suspicious of everything.
Each of these factors are things that we observe affecting people’s choice in religion. These things all contribute to whether a person goes to Heaven or Hell — but none of them are under your control. You cannot choose where you are born or what personality you will have. Yet it determines your religion almost entirely.
If God truly wanted every person to become saved, then we would see one of two things happen:
- God would work in each person’s heart directly, so that each person is presented with the choice to follow and love God, without being affected by these outside factors. If this was the case, then we would not see people’s religion being so strongly correlated to geography, family, education, etc.
- God would use his power to eliminate these factors, so that each person has a true and honest choice whether to follow him or not. This is not the case, since we observe these factors existing.
Most people don’t just choose to believe things. Their beliefs are shaped by their environment and personalities, both of which God can create.
By letting the environment continually create non-believers, God is letting people go to Hell unnecessarily. If he truly cared about getting as many people as possible into heaven, this wouldn’t happen.
We are forced to conclude that either God is not as loving and caring as we thought — or that the ideas of heaven, hell, salvation, and belief are flawed.
Suppose you become aware of a deadly tsunami wave approaching a beach, and while retreating to higher ground you see a large group of people walking toward the beach. As you pass them do you alert all of them or only some of them? God, in this analogy, alerts only some of them even though he could with very little effort alert all of them. So it must be true that God lets many people go to hell that he could easily save. This makes it very hard to see him as being omni-benevolent.
(3164) God talking to people now vs. back then
There is a mismatch between the credibility afforded biblical figures who claim that they received direct communication from God and those who make the same claim today. This bias applied to scriptural characters is undeserved. The following was taken from:
Come on now, be honest, if your neighbor announced that he is heading off on a business trip “because I had a revelation from God that I have to go”: would you be impressed by his direct line to God—or would you be tempted to ask if he’d skipped his meds? Maybe the pope receives these kinds of messages—so the faithful hope—but your neighbor? Sometimes noisy televangelists boast that they’re passing on orders from God, but aside from their gullible followers, who believes them? Recently Lauren Boebert shouted to an enthusiastic crowd that God had told her to run for congress. We are alarmed by delusions in high places.
Those of us raised in Christianity have been conditioned to nod approvingly when we find “God talked to me” in scripture: Holy people back then enjoyed that privilege. But sorry, it was just as bogus back then as it is now. It’s a gimmick that has been employed by countless cults and religions, and it has been falsified countless times. That’s not hard in the case of the apostle Paul, who was wrong about so much in his “inspired” writings.
He keeps giving us clues that he was delusional: “Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up in response to a revelation.” (Galatians 2:1-2) Why would he be any less crazy than your neighbor who is in touch with God? How can it possibly be argued/verified that Paul’s experience was authentic? That’s a cherished hope based on faith bias, which even capable scholars fall victim to—when they are devotees of the ancient Jesus cult. Devout scholar R. Alan Cole (1923-2003) was highly praised for his Bible commentaries, and he found no reason to doubt that Paul had received a true revelation. He wondered if it had come to Paul directly or through “group guidance” in the church—or by means of “some traveling prophet.” (Galatians: An Introduction and Commentary, p. 101) This is faith bias on full display. Any secular historian would acknowledge that Paul was much like other faith fanatics who are sure their gods speak to them.
There is a mindless tendency to assign more credibility to biblical figures who claim that God spoke to them than to current-day people making the identical claim. But, in reality, there is no difference. God talking to Bible heroes is just as spurious.
(3165) The Flood is all you need
Setting aside the obvious fact that the worldwide flood documented in the Book of Genesis is fictional, nevertheless, it illuminates a very important point about the mindset of early believers in Yahweh. As the story is told, Yahweh became upset about the people he created (and supposedly knew would turn out this way) and decided to do a reset- kill everyone (including animals not on the boat) and repopulate the human race from a single family of eight persons.
Now, first off, why do you need to kill so much animal life to get rid of human sin? Second, if Yahweh is all powerful, why couldn’t he have painlessly killed all of the sinful people instead of exposing them to the torturous agony of drowning?
What this story tells us is that the people of biblical times had not yet advanced to the modern-day ideals of the humane treatment of living things, or the mantra that inflicting unnecessary pain is immoral. This was the reality that enveloped their lives- a rather brutal existence that was somewhat callous to peoples’ feelings and suffering. Unfortunately, for Christianity, these are the people who designed Yahweh into existence.
If the Book of Genesis was being written today, it would be exceedingly unlikely that a genocidal atrocity of this nature would have been included. But, even if it had, Yahweh would have used a much more compassionate way to kill off the sinful people- simply painlessly euthanize them while sparing the sinless animals (there was no PETA or sensibility for animal suffering back then). This biblical story tells us more about the people who wrote this story and who worshiped this fictional monster than about anything rooted in reality. The Flood is all you need to know that Christianity is false.
(3166) The conception of Jesus
The mechanism of Jesus’ conception as told by the gospels could have taken one of following forms:
1) God manufactured and planted a new fully fertilized egg cell in Mary’s uterus, presumably engineered to be consistent with Semitic DNA.
2) God manufactured a sperm cell and placed it into Mary’s Fallopian tube so that it would mate with her egg cell.
3) God snared a sperm cell from Joseph’s testicles and placed it in Mary’s vagina, thereby making Joseph the biological father while retaining Mary’s virginity.
4) God engineered the parthenogenesis of one of Mary’s egg cells while simultaneously mutating one of the X chromosomes to a Y.
Trying to picture any of these scenarios is a fatal stretch of the imagination for anyone who is grounded in reality. For instance:
In #1, imagine having a scope in Mary’s uterus and watching as an egg cell appears out of nowhere.
In #2, imagine seeing a sperm cell appearing out of nowhere as it approaches the egg.
In #3, imagine seeing a sperm cell erupting out of Joseph’s testicle, flying through the air, and entering Mary’s vagina.
In #4, imagine watching as an X chromosome instantly changes into a Y.
None of this is consistent with the world that we observe on a daily basis. When you think about how something like this happened, and how it would have appeared to a direct observer, it gives credence to the skeptics’ argument that if Jesus was a real person, the odds are astronomically good that he was conceived by a normal act of sexual intercourse. And if that is the case, then any claim of godhood is seen to be impotent.
(3167) Appearances can be deceiving
Imagine Person A is a regular church-going congregant. He professes his belief in Jesus and prays frequently. He wears a cross and talks a lot about his faith, and talks to others to try to convince them to join his church. He is seen as an exemplary Christian. But, deep down, he knows it is all a lie and that Christianity is a false religion. He goes through the motions because it serves him well in his family and friends relationships and in his business.
Imagine Person B who never goes to church and is never seen to be praying. He doesn’t talk about his beliefs and when pressed just says it is a private matter. He doesn’t read the Bible or display any Christian symbols. But deep down, he believes that Jesus was god and that he died for his sins. He silently prays each night to be a good person deserving of eternal salvation.
What will God do in this situation? Most Christians evaluating these individuals would say that Person A will go to heaven and that Person B will go to hell. But God is supposed to be capable of reading minds, and supposedly could sort out this situation and send Person A to hell and Person B to heaven.
Now imagine someone who knew in depth both of these persons and finds himself in heaven, then sees Person B there and finds out that Person A is in hell. It would be a WTF? moment.
This example exposes three problems with Christian theology. First, it assumes the dubious claim that God is able to read minds. Second, it devalues what a person does versus what they believe. Third, it devalues how a person influences others (by not crediting Person A’s work to bring others into the faith, while Person B did not do this).
(3168) Mr. Ott’s odyssey
Christianity is highly dependent on the theory that one’s behavior is fully in their control and that any outside influences have little if any effect. Otherwise, sentencing people to heaven or hell would necessarily be unfair. The Case of Mr.Ott discussed below belies this theory to the point of making it dismissible. The following was taken from:
In 2000, a married forty-year-old Virginia schoolteacher, Mr. Oft, who had never had abnormal sexual urges, suddenly began collecting child pornography and, soon thereafter, attempted to molest his prepubescent stepdaughter. As a first-time offender, the man was diverted to a twelve-step inpatient program for treatment of his sexual addiction. Any serious slip-up and he would be sent to prison. Even though he understood that risk, did not want to be incarcerated, and seemed to know that what he was doing was wrong, he began to solicit sex from the staff at the rehabilitation facility.
Oft was kicked out of the program, of course, and was set to be sentenced the next day, when he developed an intense headache. It was so bad that he had to go to the hospital. But no sooner had his neurological examination begun than he was propositioning the women in the room and openly discussing his fear that he would rape his landlady.
With his bad behavior in clear evidence, the doctors might have written off the headache as a mere ruse to delay going to prison, but instead they ordered a brain scan. What they found was staggering: a tumor, as big as an egg, in the right orbitofrontal area.
The surgery to remove it provided similarly stunning results: with the tumor excised, Oft lost all interest in pornography and easily completed the Sexaholics Anonymous program that had previously been such a struggle. Seven months later, he was permitted to return home.
Oft’s apparent recovery, however, did not last. By October 2001, his headache had reappeared – as had his secret collection of explicit materials. Were the two again connected? Sure enough, when doctors ordered another brain scan, they found that the tumor had grown back. And with a second surgery, in February 2002, the sexual deviance vanished once again.
Cases like these provide vivid illustrations of how deficits in the brain can produce profound changes in behavior.
Unless someone believes that brain tumors result from personal irresponsibility, then it must be recognized that behaviors that run counter to Christian ideals and that can result in unfavorable afterlife judgments can occur in ways that are beyond a person’s ability to control them. The people who wrote the Bible were ignorant of brain chemistry and would have thought that Mr. Ott was inflicted with a demon.
(3169) The slam dunk
When Christians attack atheists by claiming that without God they can have no moral compass and that they are simply making up various unproven rules on the fly, it is instructive to bring things back into focus by reminding them of the crushing, fatal problem with their theology. Consider the following hypothetical exchange:
Christian: You don’t believe in God, so how can you even know what is right or wrong? You are like a worker who has not been given any guidance about how to perform your job. You have no standard to base your decisions in life.
Atheist: Uh, OK, but consider this: You are worshiping a god who plans to bring billions of dead people back to life for no purpose other than to inflect them with pain and suffering for eternity, with no chance for a reprieve, and you think there is something wrong with me?
Christian: Oh, but hell is just a separation from God.
Atheist: Oh, so your scriptures about hell are false?
Christian: You have to consider the context.
Atheist: I have and you are full of shit.
If there is one thing we can be certain of it is this: If a god exists and this god does not intend to reward a given human with a purposeful and pleasant afterlife, HE WILL LET HIM STAY IN THE GROUND. The god of Christianity fails to qualify.
(3170) The Romans made a big mistake by killing Jesus
If Jesus was an actual miracle-worker, who could heal on command and raise the dead among other great deeds, and the news of these exploits had spread throughout Judea, certainly the Romans would have become aware of this and would have considered him to be a very valuable asset for their purposes. Killing such a person would have been a big mistake. The following was taken from:
If Jesus were real and rumors of his miracles were widespread, you’d think a Roman Military official would have tried to capture or enslave Jesus, to use him as a mass soldier healer for campaigns, before they’d execute him. Like I know people waste opportunities all the time, but you can’t convince me nobody thought of that.
Keep in mind that the Romans used spies to infiltrate any Jew who was gathering a large following, so these spies would have been direct eyewitnesses to the alleged miracles, and would have reported them to the authorities.
Therefore, the Romans would have realized that Jesus had supernatural powers that could have been very useful to control the weather, heal wounds, bring dead soldiers or political leaders back to life, make wine for everybody, and provide food during famines. Killing him would have been profoundly foolhardy.
(3171) Argument from design fails
One of the ways that apologists try to ‘demonstrate’ God is to point to the design of the universe, from the biggest structures to the smallest. It seems that if we live in a designed world, the people who are most aware of how the world works and how it is structured, scientists, should therefore be the most religious group. They are not. The following was taken from:
When we compare scientists to non-scientists, almost invariably the scientists are less religious. Obviously, not all scientists are irreligious, and the article makes a big point about that. Still, the difference between the two groups is pretty glaring.
Why is this an issue? Well, if someone wants to make an argument from design and back it up with evidence, there aren’t a lot of avenues for assessing this claim. I’m suggesting that a scientists versus non-scientists comparison is the closest we can get to “evidence” one way or another. With that being said, if the pro-design people are right then we should expect that the people who understand the universe the most should be the most religious. Instead, we have the exact opposite result. If the results broke even or were statistically insignificant then we could leave it at that, but the fact that it is the complete inverse of this expectation is, frankly, quite damaging to the whole notion.
Note that what I’m illuminating doesn’t really qualify as an “argument”, and it doesn’t prove anything. It is mainly an observation that the pro-design crowd needs to explain.
A designed world would have baffled scientists because it would appear to not be the consequences of natural, unguided forces. This would result in many scientists assuming that a force beyond nature likely exists.
(3172) Moderates retreat from scriptural literalism
The trend among moderate Christians to deviate from the literal words of the Bible is an indication that these ancient scriptures were written by people who were equipped with a lesser sense of ethics and morality than possessed by modern people, the beneficiaries of the evolution of civilization over the past several thousand years. This should be seen as a red flag. Why wouldn’t god-inspired texts stand the test of time? The following is a quote by Sam Harris:
Moderates in every faith are obliged to loosely interpret (or simply ignore) much of their canons in the interests of living in the modern world. No doubt an obscure truth of economics is at work here: societies appear to become considerably less productive whenever large numbers of people stop making widgets and begin killing their customers and creditors for heresy. The first thing to observe about the moderate’s retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural developments that have rendered many of God’s utterances difficult to accept as written. In America, religious moderation is further enforced by the fact that most Christians and Jews do not read the Bible in its entirety and consequently have no idea just how vigorously the God of Abraham wants heresy expunged. One look at the book of Deuteronomy reveals that he has something very specific in mind should your son or daughter return from yoga class advocating the worship of Krishna:
If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God… (Deuteronomy 13:7-11)
While the stoning of children for heresy has fallen out of fashion in our country, you will not hear a moderate Christian or Jew arguing for a “symbolic” reading of passages of this sort. (In fact, one seems to be explicitly blocked by God himself in [Deuteronomy 12:32] – “Whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it, taking nothing away.”) The above passage is as canonical as any in the Bible, and it is only by ignoring such barbarisms that the Good Book can be reconciled with life in the modern world. This is a problem for “moderation” in religion: it has nothing underwriting it other than the unacknowledged neglect of the letter of the divine law.
The only reason anyone is “moderate” in matters of faith these days is that he has assimilated some of the fruits of the last two thousand years of human thought (democratic politics, scientific advancement on every front, concern for human rights, an end to cultural and geographic isolation, etc.). The doors leading out of scriptural literalism do not open from the inside. The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt. Not the least among these developments has been the emergence of our tendency to value evidence and to be convinced by a proposition to the degree that there is evidence for it.
Even most fundamentalists live by the lights of reason in this regard; it is just that their minds seem to have been partitioned to accommodate the profligate truth claims of their faith. Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.
It should be expected that scriptures inspired by God would be so inspirational and forward-looking as to be a beacon of enlightenment that would be relevant to all future generations; rather than having to be re-interpreted, watered down, or simply ignored. The evidence is there in black and white. If this was a project by a god to direct humankind, it was a miserable failure.
(3173) Subtracting the angel
New International Version (NIV) Bible translators removed an embarrassing scripture from the King James Version that involved the activity of an angel to stir the waters of the Sheep Gate pool, a venue used for curing ailments. Observe the differences between the King James Version and the NIV for John 5:2-5
King James Version
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
New International Version
Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
The reason this was done is because the idea of angels making physical changes to the environment is not longer in vogue. It is a good sign that the only way to keep the Bible relevant is to continually make changes of this sort. It is likely that more changes will be made in the future as many embarrassing scriptures remain in modern translations.
(3174) Belief in a god less compassionate
Is it possible for a human to worship a god who is less compassionate than they are? That is the question asked in the following excerpt, taken from:
Maybe God really does exist. Maybe he’s simply decided to hide the evidence of his existence for whatever reason, and he only wants to reveal himself to us after we die. What if that actually is the case? What if nonbelievers like myself, for all our meticulous reasoning, are just flat-out wrong? Well, according to Christianity, the proper punishment for adopting a careful mindset of “I’ll believe it when I see it” (which even Christians would consider to be a perfectly commendable approach toward any religion other than Christianity) is an eternity of fiery torment.
But personally, I just can’t square the idea of a God that really is all-knowing and all-loving, as Christianity claims, with the idea that he would want to be so petty and shortsighted and cruel. (As Cheryl Cohen-Greene puts it, “I’ve come to a place where I don’t believe in a God that’s less compassionate than I am.”) Wouldn’t a truly compassionate God understand the difference between willful malice and simple confusion? Wouldn’t he have enough room in his heart to allow for an honest mistake?
This is the question that trips up fundamentalist Christians. Their mind set is so collimated to the idea that without Jesus, no one can be saved, that they miss the forest for the trees. If compassion is an important attribute of personality, then the concept of worshiping a being less compassionate than the worshiper is somewhat inconceivable, but that is what most Christians do.
(3175) Christians don’t get morals from God or the Bible
When it comes to issues involving pedophilia, child marriage, or rape, it is evident that Christians establish their morality separate from their God and their scriptures. The following was taken from:
To start I shall give an event that is fully accepted by the bible but not by society.
A 35yo man marries a child age 13 and proceeds to have sex with her, no where in the bible is pedophilia condemned, no where in the bible is child marriage condemned, this is not rape as the child is married and even if it were the bible does not condemn rape within marriage nor acknowledges it.
We have instances of god commands to take the women who have not known men, these would be under the current legal age of 18 due to how that era was.
People of today condemn child marriage and pedophilia, something that the God of the bible does not condemn and even commands for, so Christians clearly did not get that sense of morality from their God, unless you think a 35yo man having sex with his 13yo wife is moral.
Why God would have left this out of his ‘book or rules and instructions’ should trouble any Christian. Why did it take centuries of human progress to get to the point where these activities became illegal, when God could have set the standards long ago? Maybe, could it be because the Bible was written by men who were simply immersed in their own benighted times?
(3176) Sanctifying cruelty
Although Christians like to think of their faith as one of love and compassion, the truth it that it has been the major source of cruelty for most of the past two millennia, and even today remains as such in a milder form, for example, as encouraging corporal punishment of children. The Christian love affair with torture, pain infliction, and cruel and unusual punishment (not to speak of hell) has a long and sordid history. The following was taken from:
The early Christians […] extolled torture as just deserts for the sinful. Most people have heard of the seven deadly sins, standardized by Pope Gregory I in 590 CE. Fewer people know about the punishment in hell that was reserved for those who commit them:
Pride: Broken on the wheel
Envy: Put in freezing water
Gluttony: Force-fed rats, toads, and snakes
Lust: Smothered in fire and brimstone
Anger: Dismembered alive
Greed: Put in cauldrons of boiling oil
Sloth: Thrown in snake pits
The duration of these sentences, of course, was infinite.
By sanctifying cruelty, early Christianity set a precedent for more than a millennium of systematic torture in Christian Europe. If you understand the expressions to burn at the stake, to hold his feet to the fire, to break a butterfly on the wheel, to be racked with pain, to be drawn and quartered, to disembowel, to flay, to press, the thumbscrew, the garrote, a slow burn, and the iron maiden (a hollow hinged statue lined with nails, later taken as the name of a heavy-metal rock band), you are familiar with a fraction of the ways that heretics were brutalized during the Middle Ages and early modern period.
During the Spanish Inquisition, church officials concluded that the conversions of thousands of former Jews didn’t take. To compel the conversos to confess their hidden apostasy, the inquisitors tied their arms behind their backs, hoisted them by their wrists, and dropped them in a series of violent jerks, rupturing their tendons and pulling their arms out of their sockets. Many others were burned alive, a fate that also befell Michael Servetus for questioning the trinity, Giordano Bruno for believing (among other things) that the earth went around the sun, and William Tyndale for translating the Bible into English.
Galileo, perhaps the most famous victim of the Inquisition, got off easy: he was only shown the instruments of torture (in particular, the rack) and was given the opportunity to recant for “having held and believed that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves.” Today the rack shows up in cartoons featuring elasticized limbs and bad puns (Stretching exercises; Is this a wind-up? No pain no gain). But at the time it was no laughing matter. The Scottish travel writer William Lithgow, a contemporary of Galileo’s, described what it was like to be racked by the Inquisition:
As the levers bent forward, the main force of my knees against the two planks burst asunder the sinews of my hams, and the lids of my knees were crushed. My eyes began to startle, my mouth to foam and froth, and my teeth to chatter like the doubling of a drummer’s sticks. My lips were shivering, my groans were vehement, and blood sprang from my arms, broken sinews, hands, and knees. Being loosed from these pinnacles of pain, I was hand-fast set on the floor, with this incessant imploration: “Confess! Confess!”
Though many Protestants were victims of these tortures, when they got the upper hand they enthusiastically inflicted them on others, including a hundred thousand women they burned at the stake for witchcraft between the 15th and 18th centuries. As so often happens in the history of atrocity, later centuries would treat these horrors in lighthearted ways. In popular culture today witches are not the victims of torture and execution but mischievous cartoon characters or sassy enchantresses, like Broom-Hilda, Witch Hazel, Glinda, Samantha, and the Halliwell sisters in Charmed.
Institutionalized torture in Christendom was not just an unthinking habit; it had a moral rationale. If you really believe that failing to accept Jesus as one’s savior is a ticket to fiery damnation, then torturing a person until he acknowledges this truth is doing him the biggest favor of his life: better a few hours now than an eternity later. And silencing a person before he can corrupt others, or making an example of him to deter the rest, is a responsible public health measure. Saint Augustine brought the point home with a pair of analogies: a good father prevents his son from picking up a venomous snake, and a good gardener cuts off a rotten branch to save the rest of the tree. The method of choice had been specified by Jesus himself: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
So what is a casual observer to make of this? Why did the practice of this faith conflict so violently with the alleged ideals of its founder? Could this actually be the track record of a faith established by a omni-benevolent deity? Only if you assume that this deity has a reason to sanctify cruelty for purposes that could not have been obtained using more humane methods. And if that is the case, then this god is either not omnipotent or not compassionate. Christians, make your choice.
(3177) The curse of Ham
It is perhaps the best example of how scripture, the Bible in this case, taken as divine provenance, can result in real world atrocities- the curse of Ham:
Now Noah, a man of the soil, proceededa to plant a vineyard. But when he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.
Then Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it across their shoulders, and walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned away so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his drunkenness and learned what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
A servant of servants
Shem’s Blessing and Noah’s Death
He also declared:
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem!
May God expand the territory of Japheth;b
may he dwell in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be his servant.”
The following was taken from:
The curse of Ham (actually placed upon Ham’s son Canaan) occurs in the Book of Genesis, imposed by the patriarch Noah. It occurs in the context of Noah’s drunkenness and is provoked by a shameful act perpetrated by Noah’s son Ham, who “saw the nakedness of his father”. The exact nature of Ham’s transgression and the reason Noah cursed Canaan when Ham had sinned have been debated for over 2,000 years.
The story’s original purpose may have been to justify the subjection of the Canaanite people to the Israelites, but in later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Christians and Jews as an explanation for black skin, as well as a justification for slavery of black people. Similarly, the Latter Day Saint movement used the curse of Ham to prevent the ordination of black men to its priesthood.
Nevertheless, most Christians, Muslims, Jews and Mormons now disagree with such interpretations, because in the biblical text, Ham himself is not cursed, and race or skin color is never mentioned.
This is an example of how biblical authors used stories to support a a preferred agenda. In this case, it was to endorse the enslavement of the Canaanites. Then it was further distorted to suggest a divine imprimatur to enslave black people, even though Ham it would be assumed had the same skin pigmentation of his parents and siblings. One thing should be obvious- no god would have allowed his message to humanity to have been used to promote such misery and enslavement of an oppressed people. If God was watching this take place, why didn’t he do something to stop it?
(3178) Biblical confusion regrading hell
You would think that God’s plan for post-life punishment of the heathens would be clearly stated in the ‘inspired’ book that he gifted to humankind. But the opposite is true. There are so many conflicting references that Christians are left practically on their own to figure out what will happen to non-Christians after they die. The following was taken from:
The words hades & sheol refer to “the grave” – those are referenced in the bible several times – in Jewish scriptures it referred to a place where everyone went in the afterlife while awaiting ‘judgement day’ – it was not specifically a place of ‘torment’ although in some scriptures there were suggestions that people atone for sins while there.
“Gehenna” is an actual place in Jerusalem, a valley not even half a mile from the Temple site which was supposedly ‘cursed’ due to ‘child sacrifices’ that were reportedly made at the site.
In the New Testament “Gehenna” is used a few times and is often translated as “Hell” (from “Infernum” in the Latin Vulgate) as if it has the same meaning. – The common claim is that “Gehenna” was a ‘metaphor’ that Jesus used instead of ‘hell’ – but… where is the evidence for that? – why would jesus need a “metaphor”? and if he DID use a metaphor why do all translations change the word to “Hell”? – if a “Metaphor” was good enough for Jesus then it should be good enough for the rest of us. – The intentional mistranslation of this word suggests they are fabricating support for this ‘scary’ concept of “hell” that didn’t really exist in the earlier scriptures.
Hardly the ONLY problem but an awful lot of the verses that evangelicals point to that supposedly ‘confirm’ their belief in “eternal suffering in a lake of fire” are based on intentional mistranslations that mostly took place after the 5th century CE.
Really the closest word that could truly be interpreted as this ‘eternal suffering” concept of Hell was “Tartarus” (which was the “7th level of Hades” and was considered the lowest level of hades and a place of eternal suffering in Greek/Roman mythology predating the 1st century); That reference only appeared in one specific verse (2 peter 2:4) and it was only mentioned as a place where “Fallen Angels” were sent; (Not “Humans”) – and even in that verse the fate had a time limit of “until judgement day” so even that was not “eternal suffering”.
If anyone was grading the Bible on its clarity for important topics, such as the eternal fate of non-compliant people, it would get an ‘F.’ And the problem seems to be that nobody really knew what to say about it, so they just made up whatever sounded good or served their purposes. One thing, though, is obvious- they were not as a whole inspired by a unique supernatural being who was intent on sending a clear message.
(3179) Covering up God burning people to death
There is a story in the Book of Numbers where the Israelites complain about their situation during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness following their escape from Egypt. God gets angry and sets a fire. In the King James Version it is clearly implied that some people in the outskirts of the camp were burned to death. But in the New International Version, the word ‘in’ was replaced with ‘of’ to make it seem that the fire just destroyed some inanimate structures in the camp. It appears that the translators were trying to cover up God’s actions, appropriately finding them barbaric.
King James Version
Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.
New International Version
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
This is one element of long-term campaign by modern translators to ‘clean up’ the scriptures so they can be suitable for modern consumption. It gives the impression that they tacitly admit they are more moral and ethical than the god they so desperately want to defend. Any god described as burning people to death is likely a god that doesn’t exist.
(3180) The Jesus child plot hole
There exists a plot hole in the story of Jesus regarding his childhood. There is only one gospel story (in Luke) that addresses the 30-year gap between his birth and baptism when he at 12yo was missing for three days and then found to be teaching in the temple. This is almost certainly an allegory presaging his death and resurrection three days later. Other than that, his childhood is a blank, ignoring for good reason a lot of bizarre apocryphal writings.
The problem arises when considering when Jesus would have realized who he was and that he had super powers. This might have happened as early as 3 years old. So, it would seem that most Christians would assume that he spent the next 27 years sitting on his omnipotent capability to perform all sorts of miracles and not using them until he was baptized by John in the Jordan River.
It seems strange to believe that he quarantined his powers for that long. For instance, if Joseph and Mary had friends over and they ran out of wine, well, might they have asked Jesus to help out? If someone died unexpectedly, would Jesus not have intervened to bring the person back to life? Surely there were people in his village who were suffering all manner of disabilities, illnesses, injuries, and infections. Would Jesus have let them suffer knowing that he could have effortlessly relieved their pain? Had this happened, news of this child prodigy would have spread throughout the land and people would have made pilgrimages to Nazareth as they do to Medjugorje today. We have no sense that this happened.
The gospel authors could have avoided this problem- the conflicting nativity narratives, the confounding issue of god being a helpless fetus and baby, and the unused powers of his childhood, by simply making Jesus appear as a full adult at the river. Yes, that would be something, to just appear out of nowhere but that is exactly the same way they had him exit- disappearing into thin air or rocketing into space depending on which scripture you read. Some Christians will say that this was not an option because the savior had to be a descendant of King David, but leaving Joseph out of the role of Jesus’ biological father effectively defeated that criterion anyway.
In the end, the whole affair is a mess, even for a fictional drama. A better, more well though out plot was available, but the biblical authors took a different tack- one that lets us know for sure that they were making it up as they went.
(3181) Adam and Eve allegory
The seminal biblical story of Adam and Eve is so obviously fictional that it will be mentioned here only because there are a lot Christians who believe it literally. It is instructive to recast this story in a modern setting with elements that are familiar to people today. The following was taken from:
Once upon a time there were two children that were totally innocent. So innocent, they had no knowledge of right and wrong and were dependent on their father for protection. One day their father brought them to the park to play. He knew that a predator was lurking around the park but he left the children alone anyway and he hid and watched. The predator approached the children and molested them when he tricked them into “eating” something they weren’t supposed to eat. Now, their father watched all of this happen but did nothing to stop it, even though he knew the children had no protection and did not have any knowledge of right or wrong so they were easily fooled by the predator.
After the father watched the children be preyed upon and the predator left, he then showed himself to the children. He was furious with the children for allowing themselves to be molested by the predator while he watched and did nothing to help them. He knew they did not have the knowledge to realize that they were doing wrong but he punished them anyway, even though it was his fault that they were left to the predator.
Was the father all knowing and knew what was to happen or was he just looking for an excuse to abuse his children for something they should not have been faulted for? Such a beautiful buy bull story. Only a primitive mind could see it as such. Another story told around the camp fire by ignorant, camel humping goat herders.
There is a ‘science’ museum in Kentucky, USA, that glorifies this biblical story as if it is God’s perfectly planned launch of the human species, that nevertheless took an unfortunate detour. Seeing it in modern terms exposes just how ridiculous this entire plot is. Christians better hope the Genesis story is allegory because if it isn’t they are worshiping a very stupid god.
(3182) Hell is the most immoral concept ever thought of by man
What should be obvious but becomes obscured because of brainwashed mental circuits, the concept of hell is a sufficient reason to conclude that Christianity is false. It is so ridiculous that any sane, clear-thinking person can figure it out without much effort- hell is a concept of man, not a god. The following was taken from:
The concept of eternal torture is without a doubt the most stupid, juvenile, and immoral concept ever thought of by man. To me anyone who attempts to justify it is an absolutely morally bankrupt moron and has never considered the fact that life isn’t just black and white. Anyone who tries to justify it to me loses a bit of my respect for them. There is not one person or action in human history that warrants eternal torture. It disgusts me to the absolute core that so many of our species not only hold this belief as a possibility but view it as the most moral system ever created, rather than as the inhuman, barbaric belief that it is.
What’s worse is that people hold this supposed ‘God’ as all loving and all merciful rather than as the unjust, abusive, sadistic, cruel, subhuman, petty, unforgiving, immoral, gaslighting, and manipulative celestial thug that he would to be to create a realm of eternal torture. Let’s hope and hell even pray that if there is a God that it isn’t the cosmic bully known as Yahweh or Allah.
The idea of hell has traumatized the hearts of countless people over the past twenty centuries, but its also an important piece of evidence revealing how Christianity originated and the mindset of those who fashioned its scriptures. It remains as the unequaled, most immoral concept ever devised. And the fact that it is ensconced in Christian dogma means the eventual demise of this religion is unavoidable.
(3183) Everybody must get stoned
It is enlightening to see how the god of universe thought that killing people by stoning was a good thing, and it’s also interesting to see how many ‘offenses’ were deemed by this universal deity to deserve this form of macabre execution. The following was taken from:
Well, they’ll stone you if you touch the holy things.
Whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death. Exodus 19:13
They’ll stone you if you take accursed things
.Achan … took of the accursed thing. … And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. … So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Joshua 7:1-26
They’ll stone you if you curse or blaspheme.
And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16
They’ll stone you if you’re raped and do not scream.
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24
But I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.
Well, they’ll stone you if you’re an ox and gore a human.
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned. Exodus 21:28
They’ll stone you if you marry when not a virgin.
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her … and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel’s father shall say … these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. … But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die. Deuteronomy 22:13-21
They’ll stone you if you worship other gods.
If there be found among you … that … hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them … Then shalt thou … tone them with stones, till they die. Deuteronomy 17:2-5
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers … thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:5-10
They’ll stone you if you disobey your Pa.
If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother … Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city … And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
But I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.
They’ll stone you if you if you’re a wizard or a witch.
man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:27
They’ll stone you if you give Molech your kids.
Whosoever … giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. Leviticus 20:2
They’ll stone you if you if you’re a sabbath breaker.
They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. … And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones…. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:32-56
They’ll stone you if you curse the dictator.
Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. 1 Kings 21:10
But I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned.
(Apologies to Bob Dylan)
Really, you don’t need anything more than this to deduce that we are not dealing with a supernatural deity. Stoning was a barbaric form of execution that any god worth his salt would have banned from the start. But because we are not dealing with a god, this benighted practice was baked into the ‘holy scriptures’ because it was written by people who didn’t know better.
(3184) Blood curse
Whenever something appears in only one of the four gospels it raises a red flag suggesting that it might be a personal agenda item inserted by the author. This is certainly the case in the Gospel of Matthew where the Jews are portrayed as accepting (actually inviting) a blood curse for supporting the execution of Jesus, despite Pilate’s show of personal innocence. This tactic is normally inconsequential, but in this instance, the author’s indulgence has been responsible for centuries of undeserved persecution of Jewish people all over the world. The following was taken from:
The term “blood curse” refers to a New Testament passage from the Gospel of Matthew, which describes events taking place in Pilate’s court before the crucifixion of Jesus and specifically the apparent willingness of the Jewish crowd to accept liability for Jesus’ death.
Matthew 27:24–25 reads:
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Greek: Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν)
This passage has no counterpart in the other Gospels and is probably related to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE. German Protestant theologian Ulrich Luz (b. 1938) describes it as “redactional fiction” invented by the author of the Matthew Gospel. Some writers, viewing it as part of Matthew’s anti-Jewish polemic, see in it the seeds of later Christian antisemitism. In the view of the late Graham Stanton, a British New Testament scholar in the Reformed tradition, “Matthew’s anti-Jewish polemic should be seen as part of the self-definition of the Christian minority which is acutely aware of the rejection and hostility of its ‘mother’ Judaism.” Howard Clark Kee has written, “The bitter words he [Matthew] attributes to the Jews have caused endless harm in arrousing anti-Jewish emotions.” Donald A. Hagner, a Presbyterian New Testament scholar and theologian, has written, “It cannot be denied that this statement, unfortunately, has been used to promote anti-Semitism. The statement is formulaic, and the reference to ‘our children’ does not make them guilty of the death of Jesus, let alone children or Jews of later generations.”
How this strange and deadly verse was added to the Bible is hard to square with the concept that it was inspired by the very god who selected the Jews as his ‘chosen people’ It certainly seems more likely to be the product of a personal vendetta of a man who is upset that the vast majority of Jews had not become Christians by the late First Century (when this gospel was written.)
(3185) The five kings
There is a story in the Book of Joshua that deserves attention even though it is obviously fictional. It involves the manner in which five kings were killed after which their corpses were desecrated by Joshua.
So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and post men there to guard them.But you, do not stop there. Pursue your enemies and attack them from behind. Do not let them reach their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.”
So Joshua and the Israelites continued to inflict a terrible slaughter until they had finished them off, and the remaining survivors retreated to the fortified cities. The whole army returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one dared to utter a word against the Israelites.
When they had brought the kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had accompanied him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.”
After this, Joshua struck down and killed the kings, and he hung their bodies on five trees and left them there until evening. At sunset Joshua ordered that they be taken down from the trees and thrown into the cave in which they had hidden. Then large stones were placed against the mouth of the cave, and the stones are there to this day.
Why this is relevant is that it presents a form of ritualistic murder and unnecessary flaunting of the dead by hanging the corpses as trophies. It also presents a verifiable piece of evidence- that somewhere there should be a cave with an opening occluded by large stones with five corpses inside. Of course, no one has identified this place. It is up to Christians to defend why a story like this contaminates their ‘holy scripture.’
(3186) God becomes hamstrung by a curse
God becomes unable to help Joshua kill his enemies because someone in his army stole an object that has a curse. So the solution is to stone and burn the man who did this along with his wife and children. Then God’s anger is abated and Joshua can continue to wipe out his enemy. It is hard to imagine an omnipotent god losing his power because of a curse. The following was taken from:
Achan and his family are stoned and burned to death
This is one of those bible stories that most believers don’t really believe in, if they know it exists, that is. It’s simply not possible to believe this story and also believe that the God of the Bible is anything other than evil.
The story begins with Joshua sending spies to the land of Ai. The spies return saying Ai would be easy to conquer, requiring only a few thousand men.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai … and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said …let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai … for they are but few. Joshua 7.2-3
So Joshua sent 3,000 soldiers, but they were defeated by the men of Ai, who killed about 36 of them.
So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men. 7.4-5
When Joshua heard what had happened, he tore his clothes, fell on his face, and put dirt on his head, thereby proving that he was a real Bible character.
Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. 7.6
He then asked God why they were defeated.
Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? 7.7
God told Joshua to get up off his face.
The LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? 7.10
And then God said that the Israelites were defeated by Ai because someone took an accursed thing during the Jericho Massacre.
Israel hath sinned … for they have even taken of the accursed thing … and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 7.11-12
But God told Joshua what he needed to do to get back to successful genocide: burn to death the man with the accursed thing, along with his family.
He that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath. 7.15
God even pointed out the guy. His name was Achan.
In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. … So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: And he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: And he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 7.14-18
So Joshua ordered Achan to confess.
Joshua said unto Achan … make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. 7.19
And he did.
Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. 7.20-21
He then rounded up Achan, his family, his livestock, and all their possessions. “And all Israel stoned them with stones and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.” And that made God less angry.
And Joshua …took Achan … and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep … And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. … So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. 7.24-26
Since Achan’s sons and daughters were stoned and burned along with him, there must have been at least 5 victims here. (No mention is made of his wife.)
This is Yahweh, the god that Christians worship. He surrenders to a curse and then orders Joshua to kill the offender and his family. It make a person wonder, could a god be this fragile as well as this murderous in response to something that modern people realize is not even real? Curses are now relegated to the realm of fantasy. Wouldn’t a god know this?
(3187) Christians disbelieving the virgin birth
One of the mainstays of Christian theology is that Jesus was born of a virgin by a supernatural act of god. However, there has existed a plethora of prominent Christians who do not believe this in a literal sense, but rather consider it to be allegory. The following was taken from:
Biblical scholars, churchmen and theologians who have notably rejected the virgin birth include:
- Albrecht Ritschl, nineteenth-century German Lutheran Theologian, considered one of the fathers of Liberal Protestantism.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick, American Baptist pastor, prominent proponent of Liberal Protestantism. In a famous 1922 sermon delivered from the pulpit of First Presbyterian Church in New York, titled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”, Fosdick called the Virgin Birth into question, saying it required belief in “a special biological miracle.”
- Fritz Barth, Swiss Reformed minister, and father of Karl Barth. Fritz’s views cost him at least two significant promotions.
- James A. Pike, Episcopal bishop of California (1958–1966), who first declared his doubt about the Virgin Birth in the December 21, 1960 issue of the journal Christian Century.
- John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop of Newark, author of Born of a Woman: A Bishop Rethinks the Birth of Jesus, who following feminist scholar Jane Schaberg, wrote that, “A God who can be seen in the limp form of a convicted criminal dying alone on a cross on Calvary can surely also be seen in an illigitimate baby boy born through the aggressive and selfish act of a man sexually violating a teenage girl.”
- Marcus J. Borg, prominent member of the Jesus Seminar, author of numerous books, and co-author of The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, who viewed the birth stories as “metaphorical narratives”, and stated, “I do not think the virginal conception is historical, and I do not think there was a special star or wise men or shepherds or birth in a stable in Bethlehem. Thus I do not see these stories as historical reports but as literary creations.”
- John Dominic Crossan, prominent member of the Jesus Seminar, author of Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, who has stated, “I understand the virginal conception of Jesus to be a confessional statement about Jesus’ status and not a biological statement about Mary’s body. It is later faith in Jesus as an adult retrojected mythologically onto Jesus as an infant.”
- Robert Funk, founder of the Jesus Seminar, and author of Honest to Jesus, who has asserted, “We can be certain that Mary did not conceive Jesus without the assistance of human sperm. It is unclear whether Joseph or some other unnamed male was the biological father of Jesus. It is possible that Jesus was illegitimate.”
- Jane Schaberg, feminist biblical scholar and author of The Illegitimacy of Jesus, who contended that Matthew and Luke were aware that Jesus had been conceived illegitimately, probably as a result of rape, and had left hints of that knowledge, even though their main purpose was to explore the theological significance of Jesus’ birth.
- Uta Ranke-Heinemann, who contends that the virgin birth of Jesus was meant—and should be understood—as an allegory of a special initiative of God, comparable to God’s creation of Adam, and in line with legends and allegories of antiquity.
- David Jenkins, Bishop of Durham from 1984 until 1994, was the first senior Anglican clergyman to come to the attention of the UK media for his position that “I wouldn’t put it past God to arrange a virgin birth if he wanted. But I don’t think he did.”
- Gerd Lüdemann, German New Testament scholar and historian, member of the Jesus Seminar, and author of Virgin Birth? The Real Story of Mary and Her Son Jesus, argued that early Christians had developed the idea of a virgin birth as a later “reaction to the report, meant as a slander but historically correct, that Jesus was conceived or born outside wedlock. … It has a historical foundation in the fact that Jesus really did have another father than Joseph and was in fact fathered before Mary’s marriage, presumably through rape.”
- Robin Meyers, United Church of Christ minister, proponent of Progressive Christianity, and author of Saving Jesus From the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus. Asserts that “A beautiful, but obviously contrived, tale is the virgin birth, which may have been used to cover a scandal.”
The problem for Christianity is that if the virgin birth is an allegory, then might the walking on water, and multiplying loaves and fishes fall into the same category? Then, do we also doubt the holy grail- the resurrection as well? Assuming the virgin birth to be fictional, it was likely a mistake to include it the gospels, especially because it seems to be derivative of the pre-existing pagan faiths that claimed the same type of origin for their gods.
(3188) Why did God wait so long to send Jesus?
There exists a messy plot hole in Christian theology that presses the point about why God waited so long to execute his plan of universal salvation by the blood of Christ. We can almost imagine Jesus waiting in heaven, watching what was going on, and practically begging his father that it was time for him to go to earth to save mankind. Instead, century after century of chaos and suffering ensued. The following was taken from:
For unknown reasons God not only allowed the fall, he then allowed the post-fall, flawed earth full of suffering situation to persist for millennia with generation after generation inheriting the punishment for something that happened before recorded history.
We are expected to accept that he had a grand but mysterious plan to give mankind another chance after the fall from paradise that for unknown reasons required amongst other things:
- not communicating openly with humans like in the pre-fall days, instead mostly communicating via prophets with a limited audience and allowing other religions to arise
- flooding the world to wipe out the majority of earth’s population who – despite omniscience – we’re told he regretted making (or whatever non-literalists think this omnicidal story symbolises)
- taking away humanity’s common language to limit cooperation and communication (or whatever non-literalists think this story of imposed division symbolises)
- cultivating a chosen people from the descendants of a guy willing to kill his kid on command rather than just treating all humans equally (or whatever non-literalists think this story about rewarding attempted filicide and treating one ethnicity differently to others symbolises)
- allowing that chosen people to become enslaved for generations, eventually freeing them and helping them conquer a new homeland through genocide (or whatever non-literalists think that symbolises)
- setting rules for the chosen people that allowed slavery and encouraged sexism but banned harmless things like homosexuality, working on the sabbath and wearing mixed fabrics.
Why is any of this is necessary for an omnipotent being to redeem mankind?
What logical reason could there be preventing an all powerful God from redeeming mankind sooner rather than messing around with this stuff and waiting until the 1st century CE to make his big move?
Christians will say that God had a good reason for delaying Jesus’ mission. But skeptics will see this plot hole as a good reason to doubt the existence of Yahweh and Jesus, as it seems impossible to believe that omnipotent divine beings could be this incompetent.
(3189) God endorses what he later condemns
In Genesis, God is OK with Abraham marrying his sister Sarah (his father’s daughter), but later in Leviticus, he condemns the same situation.
Abraham replied, “I thought to myself, ‘Surely there is no fear of God in this place. They will kill me on account of my wife.’ Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father—though not the daughter of my mother—and she became my wife.
You must not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.
Leviticus 18:29 (referring the list of commandments including 18:9)
Therefore anyone who commits any of these abominations must be cut off from among his people.
This is a flagrant contradiction which should not occur in a god-inspired book, but situations like this are inevitable within the authorships of numerous uninspired people. Otherwise we are left to consider why God changed his mind about a man marrying his father’s daughter.
(3190) Scriptures Christians would like to delete
The Bible is a hazard zone for Christians because although it contains a lot of material that they like and will often recite in church and Bible studies, it also is full of a lot of embarrassing material. Here is a partial list of verses that almost all Christians wish were not in the Bible:
Here is a short list of verses from the Old and New Testaments that every believer would like to get rid of, but can’t. (These verses are listed on the endpapers of the SAB book, which will be available in November.)
Old Testament verses
Genesis 19.8 “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, an do ye to them as is good in your eyes.”
Genesis 22.2 “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and … offer him there for a burnt offering.”
Exodus 21.20-21 “If a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and … if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.
Exodus 22.18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
Leviticus 20.13 “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
Leviticus 20.14 “If a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they.”
Leviticus 24.16 “He that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.”
Numbers 11.1 “And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them.”
Numbers 21.6 “And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.”
Numbers 31.15-18 “And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”
Deuteronomy 25.11-12 “When two men strive together on with another, and the wife of the one … putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.”
Deuteronomy 32.39-42 “I kill … I wound … I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.”
1 Samuel 15.2-3 “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, … Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”
1 Samuel 18.27 “David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins … And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.”
2 Samuel 12.14-18 “Because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And the LORD struck the child … on the seventh day, that the child died. “
2 Kings 2.23-24 “As he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”
2 Kings 9.6-8 “Thus saith the LORD God … I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall.”
2 Kings 18.27 “Hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”
2 Chronicles 21.14-15 “Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods. And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out.”
Psalm 58.10 “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
Isaiah 45.7 “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
Isaiah 49.26 “I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine.”
Jeremiah 19.9 “I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend.”
Jeremiah 48.10 “Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.”
Ezekiel 23.20 “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.”
Malachi 2.3 “Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces.”
New Testament verses
Matthew 5.29-30 “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out …. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off … for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
Matthew 10.35-36 “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
Matthew 10.37 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 13.12 “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”
Matthew13.13-15 “Therefore speak I to them in parables … lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”
Matthew 16.28 “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
Mark 16.16 “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Mark16.17-18 “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.”
Luke 14.26 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 19.27 “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
John 3.18 “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 3.36 “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 12.40 “He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.”
1 Corinthians 7.1 “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”
1 Corinthians 7.29 “The time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.”
1 Corinthians 14.34-35 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak …. If they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.”
Ephesians 5.22 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
Ephesian 6.5 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 1.7-9 “The Lord Jesus … In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God … Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.”
2 Thessalonians 2.11-12 “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.”
1 Timothy 2.11-12 “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence … Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.”
Revelation 14.3-4 “The hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth … these are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins”
Revelation 14.11 “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.“
Revelation 14.19-20 “The great winepress of the wrath of God … was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles.”
Revelation 19.13 “He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Revelation 21.8 “The fearful, and unbelieving … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”
Revelation 22.20 “Surely I come quickly.”
Unfortunately, other than using some deceptive translation trickery, Christians have no available mechanism to remove objectionable material from their scriptures. And as society progresses and matures, becoming more compassionate and ethical, the amount of unsavory material is growing over time. Even by now, the situation is severe. Christians are treading lightly and very few are now recommending that people should read the entire Bible.
(3191) The Numbers Challenge
Christians who believe in the infallibility of the Bible and the perfect goodness of Yahweh need to take the Numbers Challenge, It is a simple task, just find a way to convince us that the story told in the following passage redounds to the assumptions you have made about your scriptures and your god. The following was taken from:
Here’s what the Bible says in Numbers 15:32-36:
While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day. And they … brought him unto Moses and Aaron … because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones … And all the congregation … stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And here is the Numbers Challenge:
Christian believers, you have a choice: either defend the story of this man’s being killed by having an angry mob of barbarians pelt him with rocks as being the holy justice mandated by a fair and just god of perfect love,…or join the rest of the world in rejecting any deity’s involvement in the story as a piece of insane fiction dreamt up by savage people hoping to convince somebody that their barbaric cruelty was mandated by a holy and unquestionable moral authority. It wasn’t: it was fucking sick, AND YOU KNOW IT.
The bible is bullshit. Look elsewhere for perfect love.
Is there a Bible Believer who is willing to take the Numbers 15:32-36 challenge?
This challenge was made in 2012 and there was no Christian who elected to accept it. To be fair, how could any decent, law abiding, compassionate, fair minded person defend this senseless murder? And yet, it is in their Bible, The god that they worship did this!
(3192) Early diversity is not a good sign
It would be expected that if Christianity as generally understood today was true that it would have been a fairly cohesive faith in the first few centuries and then perhaps diversified after that. But the history of this religion is very different. Actually, it was far more diverse during that early period. This suggests that the seminal historical events that ignited the movement were somewhat obtuse and not supernatural in nature, leading to many interpretations of what happened. Needless to say, a god overseeing the early formation of his ‘church’ would probably have done something to reign in the various manifestations of the faith that were veering into apostasy. The following was taken from:
We tend to think of the success of Christianity in the second and third centuries just on the eve of really when it becomes the prominent religion in the Roman Empire as if it were just one form of religiosity, when in fact the opposite is true. Christianity was extremely diverse during this period, and we probably ought to think of it as a kind of regional diversity; that is, the Christianity of Rome was different than Christianity in North Africa in certain ways, and that was different from what we find in Egypt, and that different from what we find in Syria or back in Palestine. We have, in effect, different brands of Christianity living often side by side, even in the same city. So, it’s a great deal of diversity.
At one point in Rome,… Justin Martyr has his Christian school in one part of the city, and the gnostic teacher Valentinus is in another school in Rome, and another so-called heretic by the name of Marcion is also in Rome just down the street somewhere. All of these along side of the official papal tradition that developed as part of St. Peter’s See in Rome, all there together. So, even within one city, we can have great diversity.
Now, what’s significant about this diversity is the fact that each form of Christian tradition tended to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. The image of Jesus for Justin Martyr is rather different than that that we see for Valentinus or Marcion or others as well. And this is especially true even in other parts of the empire. This is where we start to see a kind of proliferation of gospels … all over the empire, and by the third and early fourth century [more] than you can actually count, and certainly more than you can easily read within a bible.
It is difficult to believe that if the gospel accounts of Jesus are accurate that so many different interpretations of his mission would have developed and maintained active followings well into the 3rd Century. Would God have allowed such confusion? What makes more sense is that the actual facts of Jesus’ life are much more mundane than what is presented in the gospels, and that because of that, multiple and conflicting interpretations developed almost immediately, and it took a determined political process by the Roman Empire in the 4th Century to finally have it coalesce into a more unified faith.
(3193) Bible and Quran agree about women
In the same book that women carry to their churches as well as in the Quran are scriptures that value women as being half as important then men. If there is any evidence greater than this that these texts were written by men, it is welcomed. The following was taken from:
Don’t you love it when the Bible and the Quran agree (more or less) on something? I do. Because whenever they do, you can be pretty sure they’re both wrong.
Take the worth of a woman, for example. They go at it from slightly different angles, but come up with the same answer. A woman is worth about half as much as a man.
Here’s what the Bible has to say:
And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver…. And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels.
And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.
And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver.
And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels. — Leviticus 27:3-7
So, depending on their age, females are worth 1/2 to 2/3 as much as males.
But what does the Quran say?
Well it doesn’t come right out, like the Good Book does, and place a monetary value on human life, male and female. But it does compare the value of men and women from a financial point of view.
Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. — Quran 4:11
… unto the male is the equivalent of the share of two females. — Quran 4:176
And the Quran tells us just how much we should trust a woman’s testimony: it’s worth half that of a man’s.
And call two witness from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not at hand, then a man and two women. — Quran 2:282
So praised be Jesus and Muhammed (peanut butter and jelly be upon them)! The Bible and the Quran agree: a woman is worth half as much as a man.
(3194) The politicalization of Christianity
The fact that Christianity has evolved delivers some evidence against its truth, because it would be assumed that a faith engineered by an omnipotent deity would retain its DNA to the very end. Particularly in the United States, Christianity has become inextricably tied to the Republican Party- a party that espouses many polices that are diametrically opposed to the ideals stated by Jesus in the gospels. The following was taken from:
How is it that evangelical Christianity has become, for too many of its adherents, a political religion? The historian George Marsden told me that political loyalties can sometimes be so strong that they create a religious-like faith that overrides or even transforms a more traditional religious faith. The United States has largely avoided the most virulent expressions of such political religions. None has succeeded for very long—at least, until now.
The first step was the cultivation of the idea within the religious right that certain political positions were deeply Christian, according to Marsden. Still, such claims were not at all unprecedented in American history. Through the 2000s, even though the religious right drew its energy from the culture wars—as it had for decades—it abided by some civil restraints. Then came Donald Trump.
“When Trump was able to add open hatred and resentments to the political-religious stance of ‘true believers,’ it crossed a line,” Marsden said. “Tribal instincts seem to have become overwhelming.” The dominance of political religion over professed religion is seen in how, for many, the loyalty to Trump became a blind allegiance. The result is that many Christian followers of Trump “have come to see a gospel of hatreds, resentments, vilifications, put-downs, and insults as expressions of their Christianity, for which they too should be willing to fight.”
If Jesus came back to life and saw that Christianity has been taken over by people who glorify wealth, dismiss the poor, and reject the immigrant, he would likely elect to return to the grave. It would seem that if God was a Christian, as most Christians will attest, then he would do something to enact a ‘course correction’ for this faith to return it to its seminal roots. That this is not happening, the reverse actually, hints at his non-existence.
(3195) God’s updated description
Combining contributions from Richard Dawkins and Dan Barker, we can now present an updated description of the god of the Old Testament- which is the same god that Christians worship:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, slavemonger, pyromaniacal, angry, merciless, curse-hurling, vaccicidal; an aborticidal, cannibalistic infanticidal, evil, homicidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent, terrorist bully.”
(3196) Witch trial tests
The Bible makes it clear that witches exist and that they should be put to death:
- Exodus 22:18 – Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
- Leviticus 19:26 – Ye shall not … use enchantment, nor observe times.
- Leviticus 20:27 – A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
- Deuteronomy 18:10-11 – There shall not be found among you any … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
This outdated superstitious idea spawned all sorts of tests that were designed to prove whether or not a woman suspected of witchcraft was actually a witch. Many of these tests ended up killing or injuring the woman. It is left to Christians to explain why a false concept that made its way into the Bible caused so much suffering over centuries of human history. The following was taken from:
1) Swimming Test
As part of the infamous “swimming test,” accused witches were dragged to the nearest body of water, stripped to their undergarments, bound and then tossed in to to see if they would sink or float. Since witches were believed to have spurned the sacrament of baptism, it was thought that the water would reject their body and prevent them from submerging. According to this logic, an innocent person would sink like a stone, but a witch would simply bob on the surface. The victim typically had a rope tied around their waist so they could be pulled from the water if they sank, but it wasn’t unusual for accidental drowning deaths to occur.
Witch swimming derived from the “trial by water,” an ancient practice where suspected criminals and sorcerers were thrown into rushing rivers to allow a higher power to decide their fate. This custom was banned in many European counties in the Middle Ages, only to reemerge in the 17th century as a witch experiment, and it persisted in some locales well into the 18th century. For example, in 1710, the swimming test was used as evidence against a Hungarian woman named Dorko Boda, who was later beaten and burned at the stake as a witch.
2) Prayer Test
Medieval wisdom held that witches were incapable of speaking scripture aloud, so accused sorcerers were made to recite selections from the Bible—usually the Lord’s Prayer—without making mistakes or omissions. While it may have simply been a sign that the suspected witch was illiterate or nervous, any errors were viewed as proof that the speaker was in league with the devil. This twisted test of public speaking ability was commonly used as hard evidence in witch trials. In 1712, it was applied in the case Jane Wenham, an accused witch who supposedly struggled to speak the words “forgive us our trespasses” and “lead us not into temptation” during her interrogation. Still, even a successful prayer test didn’t guarantee an acquittal. During the Salem Witch Trials, the accused sorcerer George Burroughs flawlessly recited the prayer from the gallows just before his execution. The performance was dismissed as a devil’s trick, and the hanging proceeded as planned.
3) Touch Test
The touch test worked on the idea that victims of sorcery would have a special reaction to physical contact with their evildoer. In cases where a possessed person fell into spells or fits, the suspected witch would be brought into the room and asked to a lay a hand on them. A non-reaction signaled innocence, but if the victim came out of their fit, it was seen as proof that the suspect had placed them under a spell.
Touch tests played a famous part in the 1662 trial of Rose Cullender and Amy Denny, two elderly English women charged with bewitching a pair of young girls. The children had been suffering from fits that left their fists clenched so tightly that even a strong man could not pry their fingers apart, but early tests showed they easily opened whenever Cullender or Denny touched them. To ensure the reaction was genuine, judges had the children blindfolded and touched by other members of the court. The girls unclenched their fists anyway, which suggested they were faking, but even this was not enough to prove the women’s innocence. Cullender and Denny were both later hanged as witches.
4) Witch Cakes
A bizarre form of counter-magic, the witch cake was a supernatural dessert used to identify suspected evildoers. In cases of mysterious illness or possession, witch-hunters would take a sample of the victim’s urine, mix it with rye-meal and ashes and bake it into a cake. This stomach-turning concoction was then fed to a dog—the “familiars,” or animal helpers, of witches—in the hope that the beast would fall under its spell and reveal the name of the guilty sorcerer. During the hysteria that preceded the Salem Witch Trials, the slave Tituba famously helped prepare a witch cake to identify the person responsible for bewitching young Betty Parris and others. The brew failed to work, and Tituba’s supposed knowledge of spells and folk remedies was later used as evidence against her when she was accused of being a witch.
5) Witch’s Marks
Witch-hunters often had their suspects stripped and publically examined for signs of an unsightly blemish that witches were said to receive upon making their pact with Satan. This “Devil’s Mark” could supposedly change shape and color, and was believed to be numb and insensitive to pain. Prosecutors might also search for the “witches’ teat,” an extra nipple allegedly used to suckle the witch’s helper animals. In both cases, it was easy for even the most minor physical imperfections to be labeled as the work of the devil himself. Moles, scars, birthmarks, sores, supernumerary nipples and tattoos could all qualify, so examiners rarely came up empty-handed. In the midst of witch hunts, desperate villagers would sometimes even burn or cut off any offending marks on their bodies, only to have their wounds labeled as proof of a covenant with the devil.
6) Pricking and Scratching Tests
If witch-hunters struggled to find obvious evidence of “witch’s marks” on a suspect’s body, they might resort to the ghastly practice of “pricking” as a means of sussing it out. Witch-hunting books and instructional pamphlets noted that the marks were insensitive to pain and couldn’t bleed, so examiners used specially designed needles to repeatedly stab and prick at the accused person’s flesh until they discovered a spot that produced the desired results. In England and Scotland, the torture was eventually performed by well-paid professional “prickers,” many of whom were actually con men who used dulled needlepoints to identify fake witch’s marks.
Along with pricking, the unfortunate suspect might also be subjected to “scratching” by their supposed victims. This test was based on the notion that possessed people found relief by scratching the person responsible with their fingernails until they drew blood. If their symptoms improved after clawing at the accused’s skin, it was seen as partial evidence of guilt.
Also known as “charging,” this test involved forcing the accused witch to verbally order the devil to let the possessed victim come out of their fit or trance. Other people would also utter the words to act as a “control,” and judges would then gauge whether the statements had any effect on the victim’s condition. Charges were famously used in the 16th century witch trial of Alice Samuel and her husband and daughter, who were accused of bewitching five girls from the wealthy Throckmorton family. During the proceedings, judges forced the Samuels to demand that the devil release the girls from their spell by stating, “As I am a witch…so I charge the devil to let Mistress Throckmorton come out of her fit at this present.” When the possessed girls immediately recovered, the Samuels were found guilty and hanged as witches.
We are led to believe that God sees everything that is happening and therefore must have observed the way that humans were testing women to determine whether they were witches. If God actually inspired the scriptures that encouraged this activity then he was directly responsible for the atrocities that were visited upon these innocent women. That is, a court of law would have found him guilty of manslaughter, aiding and abetting murder, and false imprisonment.
(3197) No magic, no god
It is certainly probative to evaluate the authenticity of ancient claims of supernatural occurrences by the observation of whether similar events happen today. In other words, there is no good reason to believe that magical things happened long ago, but that they no longer happen in current times. With an unprecedented ubiquitous capability of recording video and sound now available to almost every human, we should be seeing strange and miraculous phenomena posted to youtube daily. That is, if magic was real. If no magic, there is no god. The following was taken from:
I would argue that there is no evidence at all, for the existence of a god because magic is not real – it is not observable or recordable.
This is a world without magic and yet we are supposed to base our entire world view on a book full of magic, written centuries ago before proper science could explain basic world truths?
Before science people would claim any natural disaster was “an act of god” – we now know better.
The bible basically expects you to believe in magic (miracles, visions of god etc).
If someone walked up to you today and told you they had heard voices, experienced visions of god, or a real miracle etc, you would probably consider them a bit mentally ill and in need of help. We don’t believe in fairies or unicorns – why is god an exception?
The fact that it is possible that some of the people existed or some of the events in the bible occurred – is not proof that any of the supernatural parts of the bible were anything more than hallucinations or a fundamental misunderstanding for how the world really works.
There are thousands of magical occurrences documented in the Bible. We are asked to believe that these supernatural events actually happened but that all of this other-worldly activity suddenly came to a complete stop. This stretches credibility to its breaking point. To believe in a god, and to be honest to oneself, it should be required that we see magic happening as part of our daily reality.
(3198) Bible’s guide to torture
The Bible contains lots of scripture supporting the practice of torture. This says more about the people of that time than any potentially-existing deity. The following was taken from:
Sometimes you have to beat people for their own good.
The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. Proverbs 20:30
Some people should be beaten as a punishment for their crimes.
And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten. Deuteronomy 25:2
It’s always a good idea to beat fools. Beat them whenever you find them.
A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. Proverbs 18:6
Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools. Proverbs 19:29
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back. Proverbs 26:3
And slaves may be beaten, as long they survive for at least a day or two after the beating.
If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. Exodus 21:20-21
Beating your children is a sure sign of parental love.
>He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. Proverbs 13:24
And don’t stop just because they cry.
Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. Proverbs 19:18
It will make them less foolish.
Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29:15
So beat them hard and often. Don’t worry about hurting them. You may break a few bones and cause some brain damage, but it isn’t going to kill them. And even if it does, they’ll be better off. They’ll thank you in heaven for beating the hell out of them.
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14
The Old Testament God used a rod to beat those who disobey his commandments.
If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.Psalm 89:31-2
And he tortured the Philistines by giving them “hemorrhoids in their secret parts.”
The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 1 Samuel 5:9
At times, Jesus seemed to look favorably on torture.In his parables, for example, Jesus often spoke of torturing his enemies.
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors. Matthew 18:34
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 22:12-13
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:50-51
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Luke 12:46-48
The devils expected Jesus to torture them. (And Jesus didn’t deny that he planned to do so.)
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29
Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. Mark 5:7
What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. Luke 8:28
At the end of the world, God will torture people until they want to die. But he won’t let them die so that he can continue to torture them.
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. Revelation 9:5-6
But the ultimate torture is hell. If hell is justified, anything is permissible.
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42
If thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. Matthew 18:8-9
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41
…hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:43-48
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. Luke 16:22-24
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever. Revelation 14:10-11
If the Bible had condemned torture and all manner of cruel and unusual punishment, t would have been seen as evidence for divine inspiration- that is, a god correcting the callousness of humankind. But simply endorsing the milieu of its time suggests it is a product solely of human minds.
(3199) Jesus will search your kidneys
The Bible contains an element of human ignorance when it refers to the ‘reins’ or kidneys as being the seat of feelings and affections.
In the books of the Bible that follow the Pentateuch, mostly in Jeremiah and Psalms, the human kidneys are cited figuratively as the site of temperament, emotions, prudence, vigor, and wisdom. In five instances, they are mentioned as the organs examined by God to judge an individual.
The following was taken from:
I [Jesus] am he which searcheth the reins [kidneys] and hearts. Revelation 2:23
Yes, it’s true. Jesus is going to search through your kidneys. And if he doesn’t like what he finds there, he’s going to send you to hell.
You see, according to the Bible, your conscience is in your kidneys (called “reins” in the King James Version). So by inspecting them, Jesus can tell if you’ve been naughty or nice.
Here are some other verses that give a God’s eye view of kidneys.
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. Psalm 7:9
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. Pslam 16:7
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. Psalm 26:2
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. Psalm 73:21
Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things. Proverbs 23:16
But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart. Jeremiah 11:20
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10
But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart. Jeremiah 20:12
Modern translators attempted to cover up this problem by mistranslating reins as ‘minds’ but the subterfuge is on full display. The ‘inspired’ authors of the Bible didn’t understand human anatomy and God did nothing to correct their view.
(3200) Heroes of faith
The author of Hebrews touted the faith of several Bible heroes as persons who should be exalted and emulated. But a deeper look makes this a very dubious objective. The following was taken from:
For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel. — Hebrews 11:32
The author of Hebrews provides a list of heroes of faith, which includes Gideon, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. These are those that all good Christians should emulate.
To help them with that, I thought I’d provide a list of their heroic actions, so they can go and do likewise.
Gave God some really weird tests. Judges 6:36-40
Selected for his army the men who lapped water like a dog. (This test was proposed by God.) Judges 7:4-7
Tortured prisoners of war and civilians with thorns and briers. Judges 8:7, 16-17
Ordered his young son to kill prisoners of war, and then did it himself when his son refused. Judges 8:20-22
Sacrificed his daughter to God as a burnt offering. Judges 11:30-39
Caught 300 foxes, tied their tails together, and set them on fire. Judges 15:4-5
Saw a harlot and “went in unto her.” Judges 16:1
Collapsed a building and killed 3000 people. Judges 16:27-30
Bought his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins. 1 Samuel 18:25-27
Killed all Amalekite men and women. 1 Samuel 27:8-11
Commanded his young men to kill Saul’s sons, cut off their hands and feet, and hang their bodies up over a pool in Hebron. 2 Samuel 4:6-12
Danced naked, or nearly naked, in front of God and everyone. 2 Samuel 6:14, 20-23
Told Saul that God commanded him to kill all of the Amalekites: men, women, infants, sucklings, ox, sheep, camels, and asses. 1 Samuel 15:2-3
Told Saul that he was rejected by God as King of Israel for failing to commit genocide. 1 Samuel 15:22-23
To please God, Samuel hacks Agag in pieces “before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 15:32-33
Christians have had to concede that some of the heroes of their faith did not express classic Christian behavior and had rough edges. In the United States, this rationalization was applied to Donald Trump’s presidency (20017-2021). This departure of emphasis on personal values in favor of the attainment of power would have had Jesus spinning in his grave. But Christians can point out that the god of the Old Testament was only doing the same thing.
Follow this link to #3201