(3251) Christian hype is unfounded
Christians often tout their religion as being the bearer of ‘good news,’ but a closer look reveals that it is anything but good. The following spells out the defects in this claim and why Christianity, if it is true, is actually bad news:
First you have to believe in God, Jesus and the bible and accept that to be saved and get into heaven. Belief is where you feel like you know something is real but without firm evidence. Instead of God or angels or whatever just appearing to everyone, you have to make yourself know they’re real to you…without anything that proves they’re real.
The next thing is this, why would you want to live a life that goes like this. Constantly trying to pray to an old man in the sky, having to read an ancient complex book, attracting judgement and ridicule from many people who don’t share your beliefs, saying that God will save you instead of what has been given to save you (vaccines for example) not being bothered by life destroying events like natural disasters just saying that’s God doing his work or how he works in mysterious ways.
While shitting bricks over being gay, bi, divorce, vaccines, evolution and other sciences, every other religion, everyone who has no religion, people’s sex lifes, abortion, disablilites, liberalism, euthanasia, being transgender, weed, prostitution, Harry Potter, D&D and other fantasy fiction, idols, drinking, actually helping people instead of telling them to follow God, being unmarried, feminism, masks, legends of places like hell, cursing, jacking off, gambling, heavy metal, emos, lying even for a good reason and whatever else you’ve heard they don’t like.
Then you suffer the worst punishment imaginable forever and ever regardless of what you did in your life unless you accepted Jesus. And if you do accept Jesus you go to heaven and stay forever with the old man responsible for billions and billions of others suffering the worst punishment imaginable forever which could include friends and family. Like for example you and your whole family could have been killed by a genocidal maniac but because you and the maniac accepted Jesus you both stay together in heaven forever while your family suffers forever down below…I don’t get the hype.
It takes an effort to back away from the indoctrination that most Christians have suffered through to see this religion for what it really is- a poorly evidenced, over-promised scam to control people’s emotions, lives, and finances for the gain of a select few. Meanwhile raping people of a genuine and full experience of all that life has to offer. Yes, the hype is completely groundless.
(3252) God needs anger management therapy
You would think that an omnipotent god who essentially knows everything including future events would be immune from losing his composure and reacting out of proportion to what is happening. But that’s not Yahweh. He acts like an immature human who needs counseling. The following was taken from:
Do you remember the joke about the little Scottish boy who refuses to eat two nasty, shriveled prunes on his plate? His mother cajoles and pleads. Finally she tells him, as she has many times before, that if he doesn’t obey her, God will be angry. Usually it works, but this time the stubborn child holds out, and the mother, herself angry, sends him straight to bed. No sooner does he get there than a storm sets in, with lightning and thunder crashing around them. Feeling contrite and thinking that her child must be terrified, the mother sneaks to her son’s room to reassure him. She opens the door quietly, expecting to find him burrowed under the covers. But no, he is at the window, peering out into the night. As she watches, he shakes his head and says in an incredulous, reproving voice, “Such a fuss to make over two prunes!”
In the Hebrew Bible, in the book of 1 Samuel, the Philistines are battling with God’s chosen people, the Israelites. The Israelites have a very special object, which you might recognize from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is the Ark of the Covenant, a box made of wood covered in gold, with sculptured angels on top and a golden jar inside. Maybe it contains manna — food that dropped from heaven. Or maybe it contains fragments of stone tablets. At any rate, the Philistines capture it in battle. The Israelites are angry, and God gets angry, too. No sooner do those Philistines cart off the box than plagues befall them — a plague of mice, for example. Then the ark is taken from town to town, but the men of each town get hemorrhoids, which must have been particularly wretched in the days before toilet paper and Preparation H. (Don’t miss the full story; the resolution is awesome. See 1 Samuel 6: 1-15.) Mice and hemorrhoids — such a fuss over a golden box!
In other stories from the Bible, both Old Testament and New, God gets angry and does things that strike us as a rather big fuss. In 2 Kings, for example, the prophet Elisha gets mad because some kids (boys, of course) are making fun of him and calling him Baldhead. Elisha curses them, and apparently God is mad, too, because he sends two female bears out of the woods, and they maul and kill 42 of those boys (2 Kings 2: 23-24). In the book of Matthew, Jesus is traveling along and he sees a fig tree. He is hungry, so he goes over to it. But it is bare because — as the writer tells us — figs aren’t in season. So Jesus gets angry and curses the tree, and it withers and dies on the spot (Matthew 21:18-19).
In all of these stories, what jumps out at most of us is a sense of disproportionality. God’s reaction seems so out of scale with the transgression! That is what makes us laugh at the joke, because the little boy notices it when his mom doesn’t expect him to; and it is what makes biblical literalists squirm about the other stories. We expect God to not be the kind of guy who needs anger-management classes. He shouldn’t need to breathe deeply and leave the room lest he, heaven forbid, do something he will regret. (Note: If you research these stories, you will find all manner of convoluted apologetics arguing that God’s reactions were in fact proportional. Those 42 lads were Crips and Bloods carrying switchblades, for example…)
This is the difference between a ‘real’ god and one manufactured in the cauldron of human minds. Yahweh is not even close to what we would expect out of a supernatural deity who fashioned an entire universe out of nothing and manages (likely) billions of planets that harbor intelligent life. Rather, he seems like a spoiled king who expects more out of his subjects.
(3253) Bible fails as a reliable source of information
We would expect from a god determined to interact intimately with human beings and to leave a written record upon which these people are expected to base their faith, that this written record would be accurate, precise, consistent, authored by known individuals, and possess an impeccable proof of authenticity. That’s what we would expect. The Bible is none of that. The following was taken from:
The NT contains 27 books. Out of which there are only eight of those books that we have any confidence as to the actual author. Those being the primary epistles of Paul ( Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Galatians, Philippians and 1 Thessalonians) and the Apocalypse of John (Revelations). All of the remaining books of the NT were written either anonymously or pseudonymously.
Just taking the epistles of Paul (primary-Pauline and deutero-Pauline) there are a large number of variants, interpolations, redactions and contradictions. Take a subject Paul addresses, such as the role of women in the church, and you will find direct contradictions as well as content in direct opposition to what Paul wrote in the epistles we KNOW he actually composed. Case in point…
Paul, in Romans, tells us that Junia was the ‘foremost of the Apostles’, and that did not sit well with later scribes copying Paul’s work. At one point scribes even changed the name to ‘Junius’ and claimed it was a man, not a woman. Newer translations have corrected this but it is an example of how the texts were tampered with in the later centuries after Paul’s death. Then there is the infamous verse in 1 Corinthians that says women must remain silent in church. Textual and Redaction criticism shows those verses to be interpolations and were not a part of the original text.
Now compare Paul naming a woman ‘foremost among the Apostles’ to Timothy 2:12 ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.’ And remember that Paul did not write the book of Timothy. It is pseudonymous.
Given that the text of the NT has been demonstrated to contain:
Redactions and interpolations by later scribes
Historical and scientific errors
How do you reconcile that as it pertains to your faith? If the text of the NT is not trustworthy, how can you justify basing your entire worldview on it? And how can some of you (I am looking at you fundamentalists) use these texts to oppress women? How can you confidently believe in the resurrection and eternal life?
Seems to me that the Bible is an extremely shaky foundation for belief.
In another universe, where a real god delivers a book for individuals to base their faith, that book would be written by known authors, verified to be the original text, contain no obvious contradictions, be scientifically accurate, and lay down ethics and morals that would stand the test of time. That universe is not ours.
(3254) The omnipotent firefighter
The following analogy unmasks Christian theology in a way that shows that the Christian god, instead of meriting love and worship, rather deserves intense disdain and hatred:
Imagine there exists an omnipotent firefighter with the power to create sentient life. Imagine this firefighter creates a massive bonfire where before there was nothing. Imagine further that this firefighter then creates sentient beings and dangles them over the bonfire. The firefighter promises to rescue these beings from the fire it created, but only if they agree to worship the firefighter forever – despite the fact that the firefighter, being omnipotent, could rescue all of them instantly, effortlessly, and without any cost or downside whatsoever.
Would you consider this “firefighter” benevolent and/or worthy of the worship it demands?
Omnipotence comes with a price. It means that, ultimately, any suffering is your responsibility. If Yahweh is all powerful, then any person sent to hell is on him.
(3255) Analogy of sports fanaticism
Religious fanaticism is endemic in Christian circles, but it doesn’t seem to be fueled by the person being closer to God or anything supernatural. Rather it is a product of the way their brain functions and the way the various lobes are connected. This phenomenon was discovered by studying sports fanatics against non-fanatics. The following was taken from:
Functional neural substrates of football fanaticism: Different pattern of brain responses and connectivity in fanatics
Aim: Sports activities provide social interaction for humans. Commitment to a given team is a salient feature of being a sports fan and becomes a prominent part of self-identification for fanatics. Emotion, subjective hedonic experience, and non-romantic love are related to fan behaviors. Few studies have evaluated the neural basis of sports fanaticism.
Methods: Thirty men, including 16 football fanatics and 14 non-fanatics, with a mean age of 27.4 ± 6.4 years (range, 20-48 years) were enrolled. Subjects underwent functional MRI while watching a set of goals scored by favorite, rival, and neutral teams.
Results: The analysis of variance in a general linear model revealed a significant Group × Condition interaction effect in the bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) that was more prominent in the left hemisphere. In the post-hoc comparisons, fanatics showed increased activation in bilateral dACC, supplementary motor area, superior frontal cortex, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and right insula for Favorite > Neutral contrast and an increased activation in bilateral dACC and supplementary motor area for Rival > Neutral contrast. Seed-based connectivity analyses using the areas with significant activation differences revealed increased connectivity between dACC and several regions, including the left posterior lateral temporal area, insula, bilateral medial temporal area, and medial superior frontal area as well as the basal ganglia in fanatics compared to non-fanatics.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that football fanatics exhibit a different brain activation and connectivity pattern from non-fanatics, both under favorable and unfavorable conditions. This brain activity and connectivity pattern under emotionally laden conditions may represent higher responses to rewards, higher emotional valence attribution, and stronger motivational state of football fanatics, which might underlie their unusual behavioral responses.
Much of religion’s success has been achieved by exploiting those humans who are susceptible to fanatical responses. These people, many of whom become prophets, pastors, priests, and the like, are the fuel needed to ignite religious passion among the masses.
(3256) God as a bad father
It is enlightening to compare the father-son connection between Yahweh and Jesus to a typical human relationship. Yahweh does not come out of this looking good. The following was taken from:
His son had to die so that he, god, would forgive adam and eve while faking forgiveness for humanity for the sin of their birth: Bible’s god displays narcissistic tendencies. As a toxic father, he makes his son agree to die at the hands of mortals after facing unsurmountable humiliation and misery. Why would a father that loves his son justify such misery? Doesn’t that mean he would justify the misery of any other being he claims to love? After all, he almost killed off benjamites.
Christ did not want to be crucified, he even asked his father to take away the suffering: Maybe his suffering was anxiety of what was to come. Perhaps he wished to return faster to his immortal form. Either way, wishing to be relieved off this burden meant he had been coerced into suffering and he did not will it. He didn’t have a choice in the matter, making his father an uncaring and manipulative parent. He didn’t die for humanity; rather, he died to please his father and get validation for being a good boy.
By any earthly measure, Yahweh would be judged as a bad father. Assuming that we are dealing with a heavy dose of fiction, the gospel authors made a mistake by having Jesus plead for deliverance from this suicide mission, making Yahweh appear to be an abusive father. It would have been better for Christianity if Jesus was consistently depicted as going to the cross freely and voluntarily.
(3257) Life as a test for heaven makes no sense
The math of heaven when taking as truth the evangelical claim that every fertilization results in a human soul (and why abortion is bad) reveals that heaven will be populated by people who never lived a life on earth ,and thus never had to meet the challenge of complying with the criteria set by Christianity for entry into heaven. The following was taken from:
If you walked down the street in heaven (according to common Evangelical Christian belief), most people you’d meet never even lived a life on Earth.
If you met 50 people, perhaps only 6 or 7 would have actually lived.
Most would have been miscarried during their mother’s pregnancy and never born. A lesser number would have been aborted during pregnancy, also never born. There’s also a small chance you’ll meet someone who lived, but only for a short time and not long enough to to be accountable.
Statistically, most of this group will never meet their families, which is sad – but I digress.
The common Christian notion that life is ‘God’s great test’ for everyone, is surely nonsensical given most all of us never even sit that test.
Secondly it’s clear (according to common Evangelical belief) that miscarriage, abortion, or dying in childhood are by far the safest pathways to heaven. Indeed, it’s how most of us would get there!
That being the case, why do many Evangelical Christians adopt such rigid anti-abortion stance, when the outcome is clearly for the greater good? Forcing women to have babies will likely result in them going to hell.
Each year on Earth, approximately:
- 426,000,000 pregnancies occur
- 140,000,000 result in birth
- 213,000,000 are miscarried
- 73,000,000 are aborted
- 5,000,000 result in birth but die as children
Therefore, of all 426M ‘souls’ created each year:
- 291,000,000 will be admitted to heaven because they were miscarried/aborted, or died as children
- A further 41,850,000 (31% of those who are born and live long enough) will be admitted to heaven because they’ll live past age of accountability and worship the correct God
- The remaining 93,150,000 (69% of those who are born and live long enough) will go to hell because they’ll live past age of accountability but not worship the correct God
So, of the 332,850,000 souls admitted to heaven only 12.6% will have lived a life that is judged by God. Less than 2 in 10.
– A ‘soul’ is created at fertilization
– Up to half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage
– Miscarried & Aborted souls are admitted to heaven
– People who die as children are admitted to heaven
– 31% of living humans are Christian and will therefore go to heaven. The rest will go to hell
So the idea that life is a test administered by God to determine who is worthy to spend eternity with him in heaven is ludicrous- it makes no sense, and this idea can directly be put in the trash can.
(3258) Jesus never claimed to be divine
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes claims that he is God or co-equal to to God. Here are two examples:
“I and the Father are one”
“Truly, truly, I tell you,” Jesus declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
The following quote by biblical scholar Bart Ehrman explains why it is nearly certain that Jesus never made these statements or anything of the sort:
“Jesus is not claiming to be God the Father here, obviously (since when he’s praying, he is not talking to himself). So he is not saying that he is identical with God. But he is saying that he is equal with God and has been that way from before the world was created. These are amazingly exalted claims.
But looked at from a historical perspective, they simply cannot be ascribed to the historical Jesus. They don’t pass any of our criteria. They are not multiply attested in our sources; they appear only in John, our latest and most theologically oriented Gospel. They certainly do not pass the criterion of dissimilarity since they express the very view of Jesus that the author of the Gospel of John happens to hold. And they are not at all contextually credible. We have no record of any Palestinian Jew ever saying any such things about himself. These divine self-claims in John are part of John’s distinctive theology; they are not part of the historical record of what Jesus actually said.
Look at the matter in a different light. As I pointed out, we have numerous earlier sources for the historical Jesus: a few comments in Paul (including several quotations from Jesus’s teachings), Mark, Q, M, and L, not to mention the finished Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In none of them do we find exalted claims of this sort. If Jesus went around Galilee proclaiming himself to be a divine being sent from God—one who existed before the creation of the world, who was in fact equal with God—could anything else that he might say be so breathtaking and thunderously important? And yet none of these earlier sources says any such thing about him. Did they (all of them!) just decide not to mention the one thing that was most significant about Jesus?
Almost certainly the divine self-claims in John are not historical.”
Claims of divinity by Jesus would have been prominently documented in the earliest writings and would not have waited for over 70 years to be put in print. We can be confident that Jesus, assuming he was a unique individual, never made any assertion that he was god or even that he was a divine being of any sort.
(3259) The inevitability of afterlife beliefs
It was predictable that once hominids evolved to a certain extent and possessed brains that operated on a highly sophisticated level, that awareness of one’s impending death would lead to fear of the same. And that fear could best be assuaged by inventing algorithms that allow for life after death. It is probable that other animals are aware that they will die someday, but not as intensely as humans. And, as such, countless myths have flourished over the past tens of centuries concerning what will happen after we die.
This fact should cause us to be suspicious of these claims, especially those tied to religions, precisely because they were inevitable. That is, there is a next to a zero probability that human history could have evolved to the modern day without the development of any afterlife beliefs. To be sure, they have almost certainly developed on every planet in the universe that has ever harbored intelligent life.
Suppose we land on another planet and find that the ‘people’ there also believe in an afterlife. Does that give us any additional evidence? Does it make it more likely to be true? No, because we knew beforehand that they would almost certainly have that belief. So, in effect, we landed on this planet (Earth) and found that people (there) believe in an afterlife. Ho hum, we knew they would, next topic.
(3260) Mathematics of hell
In the following, it is conjectured that any universe that has the fewest people going to hell is preferable to those that have more people going to hell even if those universes many more people go to heaven. This implies that one person going to hell cannot be justified even by an infinite number of people going to heaven. Needless to say, Christianity fails this math. The following was taken from:
I can mathematically prove God creating the universe was an evil act, if you believe certain people go to hell.
To arrive at this conclusion I’ll have the following assumptions:
- The total people who have lived, live, and will ever live is a finite number, and some (most?) of them go to hell.
- God is omniscient. He already knows how many people are going to heaven and hell.
- N: Number of people who live+have lived+will live.
- HVN: Heaven.
- HL: Hell.
So, here’s my step-by-step guide. I’ll design 2 universes A and B, and “play God” and see which universe is worth creating. You can choose the universes along with me in the comments in you want:
- Almost the same universe, but B has more people going to hell, so I choose A.
A: N=100, HVN: 100, HL: 0, or
B: N=100, HVN: 90, HL: 10
2. Notice here in A, more people go to heaven but also more people go to hell, so I choose B.
A: N=100, HVN: 95, HL: 5, or
B: N=90, HVN: 90, HL: 0
3. Almost the same scenario as #2, but significantly less number of people exist in B. But also no one goes to hell there so, I choose B.
A: N=100, HVN: 95, HL: 5, or
B: N=9, HVN: 9, HL: 0
The best designed universe is:
N=x, HVN: x, HLL: 0, where x is the higest possible value starting from x=0, as long as HLL=0.
If a universe has x=1, then so be it. x=72 million? Sure! Even x=0 is fine. But God creating a universe where HLL has a positive number, is evil.
Fun fact: From what we know, there’s 30% Christians in the world. So, our current universe is something like this:
N= 100, HVN: 30, HLL: 70
The equation above is generous because a lot of professed Christians will be sent to hell, even though they don’t realize it. The scriptures make it clear that few people will find themselves in heaven. God’s design is heartless, cruel, and macabre.
You can test yourself with the following thought experiment. There are ten people in your house. You have two choices, you must pick one. You can give 9 of your guests a wonderful meal, but give the other one a meal poisoned with salmonella. Or you can decide to not provide a meal at all. Which do you choose? Yahweh would pick the first option.
(3261) Superhuman beings never slip up
If Christianity is true, then we are living in a world with all sorts of supernatural creatures living in our midst. That is, we have God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Ghost, angels, demons, and saints, all with an apparent power to exact some sort of influence on reality. So how is it that none of these characters has ever slipped up and done something that is undeniably unnatural or otherwise scientifically-verified to be miraculous?
This begs the assumption (not fully understood why this should be) that all of these entities have an unwritten rule to never do anything that can be positively determined to violate the physical laws of nature.
For instance, from the Bible, we know that oftentimes angels could be seen and heard. So why in this modern age with ubiquitous video recording capability do we not see an angel appearing or speaking? Or a demon causing a rock to levitate and hit someone in the head? Or god himself booming a voice from the heavens like he did several times 2000 years ago?
There seems to be a hard and fast rule that all supernatural creatures must never do anything that can be verified to be miraculous- or simply anything that violates the known forces of nature. Why is gravity always seen to work perfectly? Why do we not see objects appear or disappear out of nowhere, or move inexplicably? How can all of these entities keep hanging around us year after year without slipping up?
There is either a strictly followed agreement amongst all of these otherworldly beings to fool us into thinking they aren’t really there…or..,they aren’t really there.
(3262) People don’t really believe in miracles
All it takes is to study the actions of people who claim to believe in miracles to conclude that they actually do not believe in them. The following was taken from:
First let me say that I’m not calling out any specific person. If you say you believe in miracles then I’m sure you do (wink, nudge, say no more). What I am arguing for here is that most people who say they believe in miracles actually do not, otherwise they would behave very differently than they do. Roughly 80% of Americans say they believe in miracles (for the rest of the world closer to 50%) and nowhere near that number are plausibly being honest.
Another thing I should clear up is what I mean by “miracle”. What I mean is intervention by the influence of God; not necessarily an overt violation of physics, but something which is directly attributable to God and not something else. You know, things like curing cancer, making statues cry milk tears, pulling people out of car crashes, or making the sun jiggle a bit for a portion of the people who lived in a specific town. The usual stuff.
Either we can detect miracles or we can’t. Assuming we can, surely people would be trying to investigate, record, and study them. Not just when the Catholics want to make another saint, people should be studying miracles in a huge number of ways and for many different reasons.
For example if God intervenes to heal people of medical ailments then we would definitely want to investigate how often and in what way this occurs. Imagine if we had a medicine we thought was 80% effective but it was actually God curing people 40% of the time! Obviously we would have much more room for improvement, we wouldn’t want the miracles to be throwing off our statistics. It would also be very interesting to know if there was any bias at work; does God cure people of low income more frequently? Are people of certain ethnic groups, or religious faiths, or types of ailment more or less likely to experience a miracle? Does God only cure say 1% of people who get a certain sickness, or only 1% of the people who humans aren’t going to cure themselves? Do miracles regarding heart attacks work the same way as those to do with traffic accidents? Are there more miracles during the presidency of a given political party (think of the partisanship left on the table!)?
All of this is of potentially significant practical use. Is there a break-even point where trying to reduce airliner accidents is just cutting into what would otherwise be miraculous events? Can insurance companies somehow exploit expected miracles to defray costs somehow? What about casinos and lotteries, are the odds somehow skewed by such events?
I think the point is made that practically every field and industry would be interested in thoroughly investigating miracles. And yet, studies aimed at miracles are few and of very poor quality. What could be the explanation for this but that people don’t actually think they happen? Are there no Christians willing to put their money where their faith is and fund a study, or is there something about learning statistics and experimental methodology that makes someone an atheist?
The other option as mentioned at the start is that nobody can actually reliably detect or identify miracles. If someone holds this position they must conclude that all the accounts of miraculous events are things they couldn’t know and are therefore lies, meaning they are saying they believe in events which they acknowledge are likely not true. But chances are if you ask these people for examples of miracles they will rattle off some regardless of thinking they can’t be identified!
For example, consider Catholics. There are more than 10,000 Catholic saints each of which supposedly had two miracles which could be attributed to them prior to being made a saint (there are of course exceptions). Note that this isn’t just the identification of “two miracles”, it is two miracles specifically attributable to the dead person. So Catholics need to believe that not only can miracles be identified but it can be determined to some reasonable level if a specific dead person influenced their occurrence!
There are more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States, Catholics believe miracles can be finely investigated, and yet how many of those hospitals track the rate of medical miracles within their operations? How many studies like I mentioned do they perform? Why aren’t they publishing batches of thoroughly documented medical miracles? They control the hospitals, have access to the records, the doctors are their employees, they say they believe miracles happen and can be investigated, and yet… nothing.
Why? The most reasonable explanation is that the vast majority of people don’t actually believe miracles happen despite what they may publicly claim. Talk is cheap, the proof is in their actions.
This is an important problem for Christianity and other religions. If miracles were actually occurring, it is highly likely that people would firmly believe in them, and take actions to study them, and to utilize them for their benefit or others. Instead, none of this is happening and miracle believing people act the same way as those who don’t believe in them.
(3263) Christianity should have exploded out of the box
The scriptures tell of Jesus miraculously feeding 5000 people and later 4000 more, that people were astonished at his teachings, that many people were healed and many others witnessed the healings, that even a Roman centurion realized Jesus’s divinity (implying there were probably many others), that people laid palms on the road while worshiping his triumphant arrival in Jerusalem, and that 500 people directly witnessed Jesus after his resurrection from the dead.
You would think with all of this fanfare that Christianity would have immediately started out with tens of thousands of enthusiastic followers. Following the resurrection it should have immediately become the dominant religion in Judea and Galilee. But it didn’t. It started as a small sect of believers competing against another sect that followed John the Baptist.
The following was taken from:
According to the Acts of the Apostles (the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles is disputed), the Jerusalem church began at Pentecost with some 120 believers, in an “upper room,” believed by some to be the Cenacle, where the apostles received the Holy Spirit and emerged from hiding following the death and resurrection of Jesus to preach and spread his message.
Other sources tell us that Christianity remained a minor religion in this region, also competing with the pagan mystery religions, and that the Jewish population inexplicably remained largely non-Christian even though many of them were well positioned to witness Jesus’ miracles and resurrection. It wasn’t until the 4th Century when Christianity was adopted as the official faith of the Roman Empire that it experience explosive growth.
What this tells us is that the gospels are not telling us the true story. If Jesus was real, he was nothing more than a minor itinerant preacher who had a small following and who was crucified by the Roman authorities probably because he was seen as an insurrectionist. The humble beginnings of this religion tells us that the stories of his miracles and greatness are almost certainly a major embellishment of the truth.
(3264) Mary’s Magnificat
In the Gospel of Luke (1:46-56) Mary (assuming she was a real person) sings a song that praises god for giving her the privilege of carrying the baby savior of the world. However, midway through the song she goes off track and begins to dis rulers and the wealthy, so much so, that it is banned from several countries and shunned by many Christian clergy, especially the evangelical types and those who preach the prosperity gospel.
We know that the person who wrote the Gospel of Luke was disdainful of rich people. He wrote, for example, Jesus saying (during the Sermon on the Mount/Plain) ‘blessed are the poor’ instead of Matthew’s ‘blessed are the poor in spirit.’ So it seems likely that he used Mary’s song to promote his agenda.
But beyond the controversial aspects of the Magnificat, it must be stated that it was not possible that a 14 year old girl (girls at the time typically married by 15. and Mary was only betrothed [engaged] at that time to Joseph) from the dirt poor backwater town of Nazareth could have recited a poem or song exhibiting this high level of prose. After all, she would likely have been illiterate as well. The following was taken from:
When I was 15, I was cajoled into playing the role of Mary in our church’s Christmas nativity scene. I was embarrassed, stuffing a pillow under a robe to signify pregnancy, but I felt I had no choice: I was the pastor’s daughter, and there was no one else who could play the role. My cheeks burning in shame, I remember feeling little connection to Mary, the mother of God. I was silent in the play. Mary, in our tradition, was a vehicle for Jesus: a holy womb, a good and compliant and obedient girl.
Much later in life, I was shocked to discover that Mary wasn’t quiet, nor was she what I would call meek and mild.
Go read the first chapter of Luke. Read the song, called the “Magnificat,” that Mary sings.
The first verses were always familiar to me: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Same for the next few lines about Mary being overwhelmed at the goodness of God looking upon a humble girl, that God is mighty and has done great things, that he is holy and will bless those who fear him. But then comes this:
“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.”
In all my long years of being in church, of knowing the Christmas story backward and forward, I never heard these verses emphasized. Here, Mary comes across less like a scared and obedient 15-year-old and more like a rebel intent on reorienting unjust systems.
I loved this Mary. Where had she been all my life?
Throughout history, I would learn, poor and oppressed people had often identified with this song — the longest set of words spoken by a woman in the New Testament (and a poor, young, unmarried pregnant woman at that!).
Oscar Romero, priest and martyr, drew a comparison between Mary and the poor and powerless people in his own community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis, called the Magnificat “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.”
Revolutionaries, the poor and the oppressed, all loved Mary and they emphasized her glorious song. But the Magnificat has been viewed as dangerous by people in power. Some countries — such as India, Guatemala, and Argentina — have outright banned the Magnificat from being recited in liturgy or in public.
And evangelicals — in particular, white evangelicals — have devalued the role of Mary, and her song, to the point that she has almost been forgotten as anything other than a silent figure in a nativity scene.
I asked evangelical Christians on Twitter about the passage, and more than 1,100 responded: 28 percent said they had never heard the title “Magnificat” (Latin for “magnify”); another 43 percent said their churches never read or discussed it; 21 percent said they had encountered it just a few times; and 8 percent said they read it every year.
Almost all of the popular evangelical songs that incorporate the Magnificat stop after the first few verses. According to Spotify, this version by ZOEgroup is the most popular English-language version of the Magnificat; it leaves out the parts about the rulers being brought down and the rich being sent away.
This is an example where the gospel writer took advantage of his authorial independence to further a political agenda. The Magnificat is found in none of the other three gospels. It definitely is not history… but rather pure fiction.
(3265) The Lord’s Prayer is becoming irrelevant
Christians mindless recite the Lord’s Prayer almost every time during their weekly services. But taking a closer look reveals some problems. The following was taken from:
We find more doses of bad theology in those verses that most Christians recite every day, because Jesus told them to: the Lord’s Prayer, as found in Matthew 6:9-13, with verses 14-15 as an addendum:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial but rescue us from the evil one [or evil].”
And the addendum: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Because of verses 14-15, many Christians pray, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” That’s the version I learned as a child.
Here again we urge Christians to question everything. They should be bothered by a lot here.
Our Father: It can only be considered a major mistake that a human gender category was projected onto god, i.e., male, father. There is too much baggage associated with this; it’s hard to calculate the damage this has caused, just in terms of encouraging misogyny. There is perhaps no better example of MAN creating god in his own image. “Well, it’s metaphor, it’s symbolic”—so the argument might go. But religion needs to divest itself of such silliness. Consider what we now know about the Cosmos. If there was/is a creator god who has many hundreds of billions of galaxies under management, what an egregious error to claim that this god possesses gender that happened thanks to evolution on one particular planet. Other ancient cults, by the way, imagined female gods, and Catholicism recognized the value in this by elevating the Virgin Mary to god-like status. The ancient theologians who imagined male and female deities had no grasp of the Cosmos as we know it today: so why not make their gods exaggerated humans? Our father is bad theology because it doesn’t help people abandon this small-minded way of viewing the Cosmos.
In heaven: The ancient gods were thought to dwell “up there.” Jesus was supposed to arrive on the clouds to bring his kingdom. People went to mountaintops to get closer to gods, e.g., Moses at Mt. Sinai, Jesus at his transfiguration. There were layers of heaven, structured below the orbit of the moon. Even my devout mother was savvy enough to tell me that heaven wasn’t “up there” after all. It was a state of being, a relationship with God: heaven was being in the presence of God. These represent adjustments, trying to rework ancient concepts to accommodate what we have discovered about outer space, our galaxy and countless others beyond. Trying to hold on to the possibility—actually, the certainty—of eternal life. But this has been the gimmick that so many cults have used to win followers. There were other rising-and-rising savior cults in the ancient world that promised the same thing.
Hallowed be thy name: We might be tempted to ask, “Jesus, why in the world include this?” But the gospel writers who invented Jesus-script were Yahweh worshipers—and Yahweh had been modeled on autocratic tribal chieftains (naturally, theologians have worked so hard over the centuries to rework this thinking, to upgrade the concept of god). But there it is: it’s the obligation of the worshiped to boost the god’s ego, remind him that his name is holy. Do the billions of Christian who say this prayer realize what’s going on? And would they even be able to tell us that their god’s name is Yahweh? Especially here the rule applies: question everything.
Your kingdom come: Matthew copied most of the text of Mark’s gospel, one of the main themes of which was the soon-to-arrive kingdom of God. Hence we’re not surprised that Jesus (in the script supplied by Matthew) asked his followers to pray for the arrival of the Kingdom. If there’s any better proof that prayer is useless, what could it be? Christians have uttered this prayer countless billions of times, yet here we are 2,000 years later—and still no kingdom of God has shown up: no Jesus descending on the clouds. And there’s precious little evidence that God’s will is being done on earth, whatever success God might have with it in heaven. Why are Christians wasting their breath?
Being forgiven by God only happens if we forgive others. Hey, this is actually good theology! And it is so blatantly ignored by so many Christian. I served as pastor of two parishes, and it didn’t take long to figure out the members of the congregation who couldn’t stand each other—with precious little hope of reconciliations. Forgiveness wasn’t even on the table. On a much larger scale: what a scandal that the major Christian nations of Europe—each of which was sure God was on its side—fought savagely against each other in World War I. These words of Jesus mattered not at all. Yet everyone still prayed The Lord’s Prayer!
This prayer becomes more irrelevant as time goes on. God inexplicably identified as a ‘male parent,’ heaven now is in some other ‘dimension,’ a magical name that is ‘hollowed’ and needs to worshiped, a kingdom that appears to always be ‘coming’ but never arriving, and forgiveness that is almost never actually practiced by most Christians.
This leads one to wonder what exactly does this prayer stand for these days, other than a rote regurgitation of words without any substance?
(3266) Friend shooting heroin analogy
God does not come out looking good when we compare him to the average human who is confronting a friend who is heading in a dangerous direction. The following was taken from:
I used to be a fully dedicated christian but through confronting some uncomfortable inconsistencies I had picked up on, I came to the conclusion that a god probably doesn’t exist.
This evening I’ve been thinking “if a god truly loved me wouldn’t they do everything within their power to convince me that I was making the wrong choice by being an atheist in order to save me from eternal damnation?”
If one of my friends was choosing to make what I thought would be a terrible decision, like shooting heroine, I would do everything I could to present the most convincing arguments to them in a context they would be most receptive to in order to talk them out of hurting themselves.
If a god (in this context, the christian god) truly existed and was all loving, wouldn’t they do everything in their power to convince me, in a way that I’m receptive to, that they are both real and that following their specific tenants would lead to true happiness?
Within this analogy, if God is a friend of this drug-addicted friend, he would simply do nothing and allow the friend to destroy himself. God rates lower on the scale of morality than virtually every human being.
(3267) Bad theology designs the god we crave
So much of what Christians perceive as their god has little to do with the Bible or our position in the cosmos. It is mostly a wish list of what they would desire a god to be like. The following was taken from:
It is hard to stomach that Homo sapiens are of no consequence in the scheme of things; we don’t outrank elephants, microbes, mosquitoes or cockroaches. We can’t wrap our mind around that, and theologians have thrived on our impulse to balk. Bad theology designs the god we crave, instead of reading objectively the data that the Cosmos presents about what is real, testable, verifiable. The universe is under no obligation to satisfy the needs of one special (or so we think) species of mammals, on one tiny planet locked by gravity to one star in a swirling cluster of 200-400 billion other stars. The sober fact—the overwhelmingly likely fact—is that we don’t matter, and no amount of bad theology (= wishful thinking) can cancel that reality.
I suspect that many, if not most, Christians have put the raging god of the Old Testament behind them. When they refer to The Man Upstairs, they have a benevolent figure in mind. St. Hildegard of Bergen, apparently distancing herself from Jesus’ threats of eternal fire, set the tone for a gentler, softer deity when she wrote: “God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God.” A god who is permanently in a bad mood, pissed off at humans almost since the moment of their creation, and who has to be diverted—though prayer, begging, flattery, prostration, sacrifice—from beating up on us, just won’t do. But neither will it do to persist in believing in either a sinister or hugging god in the absence of reliable, verifiable, objective data.
Christianity is usually practiced as a determined effort to distance oneself from reality enough to make this existence more tolerable. God is an amorphous invisible force that fits each Christian’s image of perfect love and morality, but which normally flies in the face of the facts on the ground (and in scripture). “The Bible be damned, this is the god I worship.”
(3268) God stops smiting
Throughout the Bible, God was a very prolific smiter, killing people on the spot for doing things that displeased him. Here are some examples:
Genesis 38:10 God smites Onan for using the pull-out method of birth control.
Numbers 16: 16-49, God smites 14,950 for complaining about their situation.
2 Samuel 6:7 God smites Uzzah for trying to catch the falling Ark of the Covenant.
Acts 5: God smites Ananias and Sapphira for witholding funds.
Acts 12:23: An angel of God smites Herod and has him eaten by worms for not giving glory to the Lord.
It doesn’t appear that miraculous murders of this sort are happening anymore. If God was such a prolific killer during biblical times, he would probably still be doing it today. However, we see no sign of this- that is, people dying immediately and for no apparent medical reason after doing something that would likely displease God. People who die generally do so in hospitals these days or while exerting themselves aggressively, or in accidents. But we don’t see, for instance, a person dying directly after the commission of a so-called ‘sin.’
So: either (1) God has stopped smiting for unknown reasons, or (2) he never did it before (Bible is wrong), or (3) he doesn’t exist.
(3269) Orgasm asymmetry disproves god guided evolution
Many Christians believe that God guided evolution. One area that can be explored to either support or refute this assumption is how orgasms work between men and women during intercourse. It is well known that most men have no trouble achieving orgasm during sex, but the same is not true for women. The following was taken from:
About 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone — that is without the extra help of sex toys, hands or tongue. And 10 to 15 percent never climax under any circumstances.
The reason for the disparity is simple. Men who could not achieve orgasm didn’t pass on their genes, while those that could, did. This implies that the characteristics tied to the Y chromosome of men who could easily achieve orgasm were passed on to male descendants. However, because women do not need to achieve orgasm to be impregnated during sex, this characteristic was not readily passed on to female descendants on the second X chromosome. Therefore, the disparity in achieving orgasm between the sexes is easily explained by an unguided evolutionary process.
The only organ in the human body that exists solely to deliver pleasure is the female clitoris, yet its function is limited during the sexual act. Does it make sense that a loving God who is guiding evolution would allow this problem to develop? Would a god discount the need for women to orgasm during sex? Or is better explained by the blind forces of evolution?
(3270) Marital communication analogy
The following analogy of a wife talking to her husband with a request highlights a problem with the Christian meme that God desires for all to recognize his existence and come to be saved. The following was taken from:
Say I want to tell my husband to get milk from the supermarket. I speak English and French. He speaks English. I walk up to him and say ‘Could you please get milk from the supermarket?’ in French. He will be confused, possibly ask for a translation/clarification. I repeat the statement, in French.
Now, if he has a good ear/memory, he could maybe type what he thinks he heard into google translate, and potentially the message could go through. Maybe not. But in this scenario, it is within my ability to communicate with him in a way that he would immediately understand, and instead, I didn’t. Is it fair of me to expect him to go to the grocery store to get milk?
What if instead of telling him, I leave him a note taped to the fridge, in sanskrit, in someone else’s handwriting? Would it be understandable if he did not experience that interaction as ‘me asking him to get milk from the store’?
Let’s take, for example, the God of Christianity. If he only desires a relationship with specific people, then that’s all well and good. But if he wants a relationship with everyone, then everyone includes me, and he has never once communicated with me in a way that I could readily understand, in such a way that I knew the message was coming from him and not someone else.
This a big hole in Christian theology. In simple terms, if a god actually existed and intended to mete out extreme punishments and rewards, there would almost certainly be no one on the planet that would fail to acknowledge the existence of this deity. Surely, some might decide to resist the offer, but the very fact of whether this god exists would be universally accepted. A real god would make sure of that. It would be the only way to make the doctrine fair.
Any human imagining stepping into the role of a god would do the same. But Yahweh takes a different approach, an approach that lets us know that he doesn’t exist.
(3271) What Christians really believe
The following is a comprehensive summary of standard Christian beliefs followed by reasons to conclude that are all sitting on a very fragile foundation:
I grew up Christian, giving my whole life to it. I attained my Master’s in theology and education. It took me a while to leave the faith and re-educate myself, but not by the grace of god, I made it. Now I think I have an idea of what is happening.
Here’s my summary of
1) Things Most Christians Believe,
2) The Rest of the Story, and
3) Two Types of Christian (of which I am neither).
Things Most Christians Believe
Most Christians believe…God turned into a human being named Joshua (Jesus) in approximately the year 1-4 C.E.
Most Christians believe… Ancient Jewish literature prophesied the coming of a Savior who was Jesus, though most Jewish people interpret their prophesies and predictions very differently and do not believe Jesus is the Messiah or the Savior of the world.
Most Christians believe… Jesus did a lot of miracles, including bringing a few dead people back to life, and people still didn’t believe he was God.
Most Christians believe… Though Jesus didn’t say he was God, and though he said he loved God and prayed to God as if God was a different person, he still accepted praise as if he was God and equated himself with God (God’s Son) all the time. Later traditions and writings would pretty much state he was God in a second form.
Most Christians believe… Jewish leaders were especially corrupt and prevented people from following Jesus and even planned his murder. The Roman state only arrested and crucified Jesus at the request of the Jewish leaders.
Most Christians believe… Jesus really didn’t speak out or do much about the exploitation of the Jewish people by the Romans. The story of Jesus, approved by Roman emperor, mostly characterized Jesus as advising Jewish citizens to live peacefully under the exploitation of the Romans. Jesus mostly spoke of a spiritual kingdom that didn’t conflict with political powers in the world.
Most Christians believe… Jesus was put to death at the request of Jewish leaders because he undermined their religious influence.
Most Christians believe… Jesus resurrected from the dead and appeared to many people. Still people did not believe in him. Jewish leaders continue to reject him. He ended up leaving for good and said that one day he’ll come back. That was 2000 years ago.
Most Christians believe… Jesus died, not merely because religious people hated him, but because God the Father was actually sacrificing him like an animal for the sins of the world. It was a plan from the beginning of the universe that included a strategy to erase the sins of humanity and appease the anger of God the Father against people for rejecting his rule.
Most Christians believe… Jesus‘s death and resurrection doesn’t actually save people from sin, because they still have to repent, have to believe in the whole story and they have to say the right words so that they can be forgiven and get into heaven after life.
Most Christians believe… God is severely disappointed with Jewish people for their rejection of Jesus. They are no longer God’s chosen people and won’t be allowed into God’s Kingdom or Heaven if they don’t repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah and Savior.
Most Christians believe… If you don’t believe Jesus is God, you can’t be a Christian.
Most Christians believe… If you don’t believe that the Bible is inerrant, you can’t be a Christian.
Most Christians believe… If you don’t ask Jesus to forgive you of all your sins, even sins you don’t know about, you can’t be a Christian.
Most Christians believe… Demons and devils are real and they try to get you to do bad things.
Most Christians believe… All other religions of the world are mostly wrong.
Most Christians believe… If you don’t know what you believe then you can’t get to heaven.
Most Christians believe… God is going to set up a kingdom where Christians will rule.
Most Christians believe… God mostly only answers prayers of Christians.
Most Christians believe… If you’re not a Christian you are spitefully resisting the kind, merciful influence of the Holy Spirit who is also God, the third person of the Trinity.
Most Christians believe… Christians are happier and more cared for by God than non-Christians.
Most Christians believe… Christians are more full of love than non-Christians.
Most Christians believe… Non-Christians don’t love their own family or friends as much as Christians do their own.
Most Christians believe… Non-Christians tend to be less self-controlled, more selfish, overall less moral.
The Rest of the Story
There are zero existing copies of original Biblical manuscripts, only fragments of later copies dating decades and centuries later than the purported latest written texts. We don’t know what the originals actually said.
The Bible (Latin is ‘biblia’ for ‘book’) is translated from many different Greek and Hebrew copies of copies of manuscripts that have different texts, with varying translations, and even greater variation in interpretations of meaning.
The writings collected in the Bible were written by, at the very least, over 35 different authors, many in different eras and locations. Books such as Proverbs and Psalms are themselves large collections of writings from different authors.
The ancient authors did not agree to their writings being included in the Bible, and their ideas were not necessarily in harmony with each other. Any order in the Biblical writings was imposed by later aggregators, both Jewish and Christian, with their own religious and political intentions for its use. Unifying themes not specifically mentioned by the author of each work was posthumously imposed.
There was no Bible before about 300 C.E. The Roman emperor Constantine gathered politically recognized Christ-followers and teachers together and made them decide on what literature should be included in One Book that all Christians had to believe in. He believed this would unite a divided constituency and consolidate power and resources for the empire. There was much hostile discussion, debate, and violence between opposing sides of the gathering.
They finally determined which most-recent letters and stories would be included in the ‘New Testament’ (all sources by then were at least two hundred year-old copies or fragments of texts), and they decided which ancient Jewish literature they deemed worthy of inclusion as prophesy and premise of the Christ-story. They renamed the old Jewish collection the “Old Testament” to signify that the Jewish era of God’s favor was now over and the Christians were now ushering in the future of God’s Kingdom.
Throughout history, and to this day, Christians have not all agreed on what it means to be a Christian. Christian churches today are distinguished by denomination, and there are, at minimum, hundreds and perhaps thousands of different denominations across the world all with different traditions, beliefs, and practices. There is no agreed upon criteria for scientific analysis or empirical testing that could satisfy the substantiation of any of their views or practices as authoritative.
Heaven and hell are only briefly mentioned in the Bible. They were very vague and poetic concepts about good people going to a good place, and bad people going to a bad place. Very few details are giving about either, and most are poetic allusions or metaphor. For Christians, going to the Bad Place mostly involved not believing in the Jesus story, not asking Jesus to forgive one’s sins, or not believing any of the Biblical texts was completely accurate or inerrant.
There has been no siting of Jesus since he left, and no one knows when he intended to return.
Science has yet to validate or provide evidence for miracles, the existence of heaven, a soul, angels, demons, or an afterlife.
Two Types of Christian
For some Christians, Christianity is just one way to think and live that can bring people hope, peace, love, and happiness. These Christians are open and accepting of other world views that have a positive impact on other people’s life, and consider diverse faith expressions an expansion of the richness of human ideology, traditions, and stories across history and the world.
Many Christians, however, think the Christian faith is the only way to think and live that brings hope, peace, love, and happiness. These Christians are generally ignorant of the roots of different world views and religious faith, especially their own. They are not open and accepting of other world views, but rather believe that God excludes people of different belief systems and traditions from happiness and heaven, no matter their level of positive contribution to those around them.
Often their language sounds loving, peaceful, inviting, and accepting; but beneath the mask there is often intolerance and exclusion for those who refuse to adopt their language and practices.
Anybody not ensconced in the midst of the dogma can realize that there is something not right about the entire enterprise of Christianity. Its dogma is poorly-sourced and inconsistent, leading to myriad doctrinal disagreements (why would that be if God is real?). Christians do not exhibit more love, acceptance, or compassion than non-believers or followers of other faiths. To be sure, there are no indications that Christians enjoy any special talents, knowledge, insights, or protections offered by a supernatural power. Their Bible is all over the map, filled with absurdities, contradictions, and fallacies. So what to make of this- could this be the script directed by an omnipotent, loving deity? It looks more like an unrehearsed, poorly-written middle school play.
(3272) Bad theological reasoning
Christians have so little objective evidence for their faith, that they must employ a lot of very weak, misleading arguments to give them a sense of being on the right track. Some of these strategies are more pathetic than misguided. The following was taken from:
Theology has roots in the free reign of human emotion, as the latter finds expression in visions, prayers, scriptures/revelations, trances, and the supposed insights of prophets and seers. Anything that anyone comes up with, under the influence of religious fervor, is fair game to plug into diverse theological systems. Bad theology (allow me to be blunt: BT = BS) prevails most of the time. Here are a few examples that come to mind.
· Anything that looks like rationalization of Stone Age barbarism, e.g., human sacrifice, the death of Jesus to enable a god to forgive, is BT = BS. Christianity gets major demerits for having this ghoulish barbarism at the heart of its faith.
· BT = BS projects the worst aspects of human personality onto deities, e.g., a god is angry or jealous.
· BT = BS claims to know more than we do know or can know, e.g., “God exits outside time and space.” How would anyone know that?
· BT = BS pretends to know about god(s), but fails to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that its sources of knowledge of god(s) are reliable and verifiable. When I pick up a book about theology, I want to read on page one how the author knows what he/she is about to tell us about god(s). But theologians commonly skip this step, or right away defer to the Bible, prayer, visions, revelations or meditation. BT = BS is not far behind.
· BT = BS assumes the validity of personal opinions based on feelings about god(s): “I feel Jesus in my heart.” Sound epistemology is not based on feelings; feelings are evidence for what you’re feeling—and count for nothing when we’re trying to find out how the Cosmos works.
· Theology that emerged from twisted, fanatical minds is BT = BS, e.g., Joseph Smith and Mormonism; the apostle Paul and the early Jesus cult.
· BT = BS comes up with sophomoric excuses for why an all-powerful god allows so much suffering and evil in the world, e.g., god punishes people, gives them pain to improve character. Or god is let off the hook because we have free will, he has a rival (the devil) who causes the trouble; or even, god can’t help it. All of these excuses are deeply flawed.
· BT = BS makes promises about what will happen when people die. Humans are commonly terrified by the prospect that, at death, consciousness ceases forever; they don’t like the idea of oblivion. Religious bureaucrats, throughout history, have traded on these fears. They offer promises and threats about the afterlife based on no evidence whatever. The intuitions—and craftiness—of priests and preachers just aren’t good enough. In fact, the afterlife pitch is an aspect of theology that is dishonest and immoral.
· “God of the gaps” is BT = BS: phenomena that cannot yet be explained are credited to god. We cannot yet explain cosmic origins—what ignited creation—but cosmologists keep searching for answers because “a god did it” is no answer at all.
· Theology that can’t come to terms with advancing knowledge and scientific findings cannot be good theology. Timothy Ferris chose an appropriate title for his 1988 book, Coming of Age in the Milky Way. We have been coming of age during the last few centuries. It’s no good trying to pretend that Edwin Hubble’s discoveries in the 1920s—that our immense galaxy is not the universe after all, and that the universe is expanding—didn’t change the way we are compelled to contemplate the Cosmos and our place in it. The knowledge revolution of the last couple of centuries especially has generally put theology in a defensive position, especially Christian personal theism, i.e., the god of the cosmos is tracking the thoughts and sins of every human.
It’s baffling that Christians themselves don’t grasp the incoherence that is obvious to observers outside the faith: It makes no sense whatever that Christianity has splintered endlessly, if it somehow is custodian of truth. Any such claim has been falsified repeatedly by Christians fighting each other over theology. The most devout, those most ardent believers, can’t agree on what the Christian god is like, what he expects of humans, and how he wants to be worshipped. There are now more than 30,000 Christian brands that show no signs whatever of reconciling, “coming together as one.” That old hymn lyric, “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fellowship to love throughout the whole wide earth,” is bunk. Theology that is this fractured is bunk.
It’s hard to believe that if a god actually interacted with humans in a decisive way, as the Bible suggests, that Christians would have to resort to using so many impotent arguments. Instead of providing evidence for their faith, it rather suggests the opposite.
(3273) God is afflicted with a mental disorder
The Bible leaves little room for doubt that if Yahweh is a real god, then he is mentally damaged. The following satirical piece reveals the nature of his problem:
NEW HAVEN, CT–In a diagnosis that helps explain the confusing and contradictory aspects of the cosmos that have baffled philosophers, theologians, and other students of the human condition for millennia, God, creator of the universe and longtime deity to billions of followers, was found Monday to suffer from bipolar disorder.
Rev. Dr. J. Henry Jurgens, a practicing psychiatrist and doctor of divinity at Yale University Divinity School, announced the historic diagnosis at a press conference.
“I always knew there had to be some explanation,” Jurgens said. “And, after several years of patient research and long sessions with God Almighty through the intercessionary medium of prayer, I was able to pinpoint the specific nature of His problem.”
Bipolar, or manic-depressive, disorder is a condition that afflicts millions. Characterized by cycles of elation followed by bouts of profound depression and despair, the disorder can wreak havoc on both the sufferer and his or her loved ones, particularly if it goes undetected and untreated for an extended period. Though the condition is estimated to affect, in one form or another, 5 percent of the world’s population, Monday marks the first time it has been diagnosed in a major deity.
Evidence of God’s manic-depression can be found throughout the Universe, from the white-hot explosiveness of quasars to the cold, lifeless vacuum of space. However, theologians note, humanity’s exposure to God’s affliction comes primarily through His confusing propensity to alternately reward and punish His creations with little rhyme or reason.
“Last week, I lost my dear husband Walter to the flood,” said housewife and devout churchgoer Elaine Froman of Davenport, IA. “I asked myself, ‘Why? Why would God do something like this, especially when He had just helped Walter overcome a long battle with colon cancer, and we were so happy that we finally had a chance to start our lives anew?'”
New York attorney Ruth Kanner also gained firsthand knowledge of God’s wild mood swings.
“Last Saturday, on a gorgeous spring afternoon, I was jogging in Central Park with my daughter. We were marveling at the beauty and majesty of nature, and I remember thinking what a wonderful world we live in. Then, out of nowhere, I heard the gunfire,” said Kanner, speaking from her hospital bed at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. “All they took was a measly $17, and for that, the doctors say my daughter will never walk again. If only Our Holy Father didn’t have those mental problems, my precious Katie might not be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.”
Jurgens stressed that God’s earthly subjects need to understand that, because of His bipolar condition, He is not in control of His actions and does not realize how they affect others.
“What He needs from us is understanding and patience,” Jurgens said. “To paraphrase the words of the Lord God Himself, ‘Humans, forgive Him, for He knows not what He does.'”
While such drugs as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft have proven effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder among humans, there is no modern earthly medicine that can be prescribed for a deity as vast and complex as God. Jurgens is in the process of forming a support group, “Living With A Bipolar Creator-Deity,” for all of humanity to “get together and discuss their feelings about living in a universe run by an Omnipresent Loved One not fully in control of his emotions.”
Jurgens said he believes God’s essential condition is seasonal, as evidenced by the bursts of energy and elation associated with springtime and summer, followed by the decay and bleak despair of fall and winter. Sometimes, however, the condition cycles even faster.
“The average person with bipolar disorder may go through as many as 10 or 12 cycles of mania and subsequent depression in a lifetime. In severe cases, a sufferer may experience four or more per year, which is known as ‘rapid cycling,'” Jurgens said. “We believe God suffers from the even rarer ‘ultra-rapid cycling,’ which would account for the many documented cases in which He alternates between benevolence and rage toward humanity within a matter of seconds. For example, last week, He brought desperately needed, life-giving rain to southern Mali while simultaneously leveling Turkey with a devastating earthquake.”
Further evidence of God’s manic-depression can be found in the Bible, in which the erotomania of the Song of Songs sharply contrasts with the sadness and existential despair of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Job, Jurgens noted, marks the best example of His condition. The book begins with the bleak lamentations of Job and ends with a full-blown manic episode by God, complete with such classic bipolar symptoms as the illusion of omnipotence and delusions of grandeur.
“One of the major ‘heresies’ of Christian history is the Gnostic belief that the Creator, or ‘demiurge,’ of this troubled world is a blind, idiot god who is insane,” Jurgens said. “This idea surfaces in many religious traditions around the globe. As it turns out, they were only half right: God has His problems like anyone else, but He is essentially trying His best. He just has a condition that makes His emotions fly out of control at times.”
An actual god who created the universe and who manages sentient life forms on (probably) multiple planets would likely be stoically stable in all of his dealings. The characterization of Yahweh in the Bible presents the opposite- raising the probability that he is almost certainly a fictional deity or that the Bible radically misrepresents his character.
(3274) Three ways to rationalize faith in the face of science
The foundations of religion have been eroded by the progression of the sciences, particularly in the past 200 years. This has driven theists into three corners of defense- saying religion and science reside in two separate realities, or that science is mistaken, or to modify the theology to make it less prescriptive. The following was taken from:
Early humans inherited from their prelinguistic hominid ancestors a promiscuous tendency to attribute agency to nearly everything—not only predators (whose threat to eat us was real) and prey (whose threat to be eaten by us was real), but also entities and forces that only seemed hostile or benevolent, like the weather, the ground beneath us, the ocean and other bodies of water, the sun, the moon, and everything else in the sky.
With language, those agents of nature either became a god or were believed to be governed by one. It took a while for the notion of a single God who governs everything to materialize.
The Book of Genesis speaks of God, who created the universe (as it was understood at the time). But the very next book, Exodus, reveals that this creator God isn’t the only one.
When he hands down the Ten Commandments, he enjoins the Israelites to refrain from worshiping any of those other gods that are mentioned throughout the Bible: national gods, household gods, gods of the natural forces, and many, many others.
The biblical creation myth reflects the knowledge and concerns of a particular group of people three or four thousand years ago. Their God is not only anthropocentric (concerned exclusively with human affairs and behavior—especially sexual behavior) but also anthropomorphic.
He breathes, he has human senses of vision and hearing. He also has language (among his first acts of creation are to name things), emotions (primarily jealousy and anger but also, to a greater extent in the New Testament, love), and other mental faculties such as memory.
Except for his minor superpowers of omniscience and omnipotence, the biblical God is a recognizable person.
As long as humans saw the world as the center of the universe and believed its age to be only a few millennia or even just a few centuries old, the notion of a geocentric, anthropocentric, and anthropo- morphic God was plausible.
After all, our world does seem to be at the center, with everything else revolving around it. And humans did seem to be the pinnacle of creation as Earth’s dominant life form.
The history of modern science is the story of these geocentric and anthropocentric views being progressively displaced. With each increased understanding of the age of the earth and the size of the universe, humankind’s position and significance became further diminished and peripheral.
By the early 20thcentury, things were complicated enough, even with the universe still understood to consist only of our own Milky Way galaxy and the age of the Earth determined to be only about a hundred million years.
Today, we know humans have existed for about one or two hundred thousand years on a planet over four billion years old, under a sun that is only one in about 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, which is just one of at least two trillion galaxies in a universe well over ten billion years old.
The notion that the Earth enjoys a special place in the universe and humankind’s special status is now untenable.
In the light of the ill fit between the God of the bible and scientific knowledge, believers in that god have three choices on how to accommodate this contradiction: compart-mentalization, disputation, or re-conceptualization.
Compartmentalization is a natural and automatic human tendency. For the vast majority of believers in God, no reconciliation is necessary. The conflicts are simply overlooked because science and religion reside in separate mental realms.
Disputation is what organizations such as the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and the Creation Museum employs.
It is essentially the attempt to use science (especially biology, geology, and cosmology—but any science will do) against itself.
The strategy is to subvert, divert, and pervert the methods and findings of science to prove the literal truth of the Hebrew Bible (via such pseudosciences as intelligent design and young-earth creationism).
Such apologetics and special pleadings are mostly regarded as an embarrassment by the rest of established religion and are largely ignored, except in regard to science textbooks, where these issues are continually disputed in some parts of the country.
Reconceptualization is the most sophisticated response. Although similar ideas may have always co-existed with monotheistic religion, a major rethinking of God arose in the 17th century and flowered in the 18th in direct reaction to the development of science.
That reconceptualization is known as deism. As with any system of thought ungrounded by empirical evidence and unconstrained by the central authority, deism has several varieties.
In its early forms, deism consisted of two core tenets: God created the entire universe and thereafter let it alone, and a “revealed” religion must be repudiated.
Contemporary Christians consider deism to be almost indistinguishable from atheism—which is essentially true.
Whether you hold God or the Big Bang responsible for the origin of the universe, everything that follows does so in the same way: without a director.
But unlike atheism, contemporary deism espouses a variety of other beliefs, such as the universe being perfect and imbued with a collective intelligence or mind or spirit or cosmic consciousness, which requires that we all be nice to one another.
Some of these beliefs are indistinguishable from pan-theism or panpsychism. How such beliefs follow from the central dogmas of deism is unclear.
And, although what distinguishes deism from other religions are the notions that God doesn’t intervene in the affairs of the universe and doesn’t speak to anyone, some modern adherents claim it to be consistent with Christianity.
This is known technically as having your cake and eating it too. Like all religions, deism is impervious to incursion by scientific evidence, but—by definition if not by fiat—its God is at least equal to the task of creation, however ancient and enormous and complex the universe proves to be.
Thus, contemporary deism reconciles the cramped focus of the God of the Bible with the larger universe that science has revealed to exist. Little God, big God.
When examining these three approaches from the perspective of Christianity, it can be seen that they all fail.
– compart-mentalization defies logic by claiming that reality is divisible by unseen barriers
– disputation of science becomes more pathetically ridiculous each passing year
– re-conceptualization throws out most of Christianity’s dogma
It would seem that when all rationalizations fail to protect the sacred dogma, the religion should wither and fail. Unfortunately, humans usually don’t think in these rational terms and so indefensible beliefs can persist far longer than they should.
(3275) How to avoid getting eight ‘impure spirits.’
Right from the mouth of Jesus we have a warning such that every person should pay attention. Jesus says that if you have an impure spirit and it leaves you it will find others and return.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
So, if you have an impure spirit, make sure that it doesn’t escape. Keep it bottled up inside you. Otherwise, you will end up having eight impure spirits inside you, and that can’t be a comfortable experience.
Christians must confront the fact that this is Jesus, supposedly God himself, telling us not only that spirits exist but that they are capable of recruiting fellow spirits to overwhelm an unlucky human of their choosing. Any Christian who remains tethered to reality would have to concede that Jesus did not say this- rather that the author of Matthew made up what was consistent with his superstitious beliefs.
(3276) Unraveling Paul’s theology
In Galatians Chapter 3, Paul delivers the crux of his theology concerning faith and belief, how Christ has redeemed mankind, and the purpose of the law. But much of this is a scrambled mess of theobabble that leaves one wondering where Paul’s mind was. The following was taken from:
And there’s a fair share of bad/mediocre theology in Galatians 3. Three items come to mind:
(1) Secular scholars—as well as many mainstream devout scholars—acknowledge that the epic story of Israel’s origins in the Old Testament is folklore: it was created by their poets and theologians. There is no evidence whatever that Abraham or even Moses were historical persons. It would be especially silly to argue that the “conversation” between Yahweh and Abraham actually happened: it’s theology-script. Hebrew folklore does not qualify as evidence for its god—any more than Greek folklore proves its gods.
(2) Nor is there any grand theology here. This is nationalistic folklore designed to boost confidence that this particular people had a magnificent destiny from the get-go. And, by the way, two very dangerous ideas emerged from this thinking: chosen people and promised land. So much blood has been shed defending and disputing these concepts.
(3) Paul was on the hunt in the Old Testament for texts that would support his hallucinated theology. Just as Matthew tried to apply Isaiah 7:14 and Hosea 11:1 to Jesus—neither of which have anything to do with him—Paul thought the Abrahamic texts in Genesis could be applied to Jesus. But theologians are frequently guilty of such dishonesty, knowing they can usually get away with it. Of course, devout Jewish theologians would argue that Paul was out of his mind, and there are so many texts in his letters for making that case!
We can say that Paul was an extremist, and many Christians who stumble across Galatians 5:24 would agree: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Beware of any religious leader who wants you to belong to his god.
This is an extreme form of being absorbed in Jesus: believing in the resurrected Jesus was what mattered, as he emphasized in Galatians 2:16:
“…a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.”
But there was pushback. Many of the early Christians thought of themselves as Jews who happened to believe that Jesus was the messiah—and they weren’t so sure that Paul had it right. When Matthew wrote his Last Judgment scene (chapter 25), good or bad behavior were the standards for being sorted into the kingdom or into eternal fire. It was also Matthew who created Jesus script in the Sermon on the Mount that seems to be an explicit repudiation of Paul’s theology:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
I really do wonder how Christians today deal with this theological confusion. I suspect many pious folks are sure that good behavior is the key to getting into heaven: that’s why the iconic image of St. Peter with his ledger at the Pearly Gates has such staying power. They want the Ten Commandments erected in the public square: follow the rules!
But then there are other equally pious folks who are sure that their personal relationship with their risen lord is key—belonging to Jesus—confessing with their lips, as Paul put it, that Jesus was raised from the dead: this is the key to heaven. They should be more concerned that Romans 10:9 (cited above) be on public display! Yet none of these latter folks could explain how this differs from a magic spell. Do they even care?
Galatians 3 closes with one of the most famous texts in the New Testament:
“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29)
There has perhaps been a temptation, on the basis of these words, to consider Paul a great civil libertarian: all are considered equal. But the last thing on his mind was “equal treatment under the law”. Governments would soon pass away when Jesus arrived in the sky. Those folks who had “clothed themselves with Christ” would join that happy party no matter their gender, nationality, or anything else. It is one of Paul’s grand pronouncements, by which he won converts to his rising-dying savior god; his gimmick worked then and it still does. But it is totally detached from reality.
It is obvious that too much of Christianity is riding on the stream of consciousness of one evidently deluded man. It would be one thing if Paul’s letters and the gospels created a consistent message, but that is not the case.
(3277) Christian god cannot exist without biblical inerrancy
There is a sound argument that if the Christian concept of God is correct, that he is both omniscient and omnipotent, and that he intended to use the Bible as the primary means of communicating his message to humankind, then if the Bible is not inerrant, this implies the non-existence of this god. The following was taken from:
1)The bible is the best way to understand who God is, what he does, and how we can relate to him.
I grew up in a sola scriptura southern baptist tradition. The Bible is the authority, the book you stand for when read aloud at church, the source of prescribed ways of interacting with God. We “meditate on the word day and night” and “delight in God’s law”. It is the source of truth.
2) God was intimately involved in the Bible’s creation, inspiring people to write down his words and narratives (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God is inerrant and infallible, therefore the Bible must be (Ps. 19:7; Jn. 17:17). God does not change, so the Bible never changed.
3) God uses the bible to communicate with us. The Bible is the most objective way to understand who God is. Here is the foundation of the God-human relationship, or at least how I conceptualize my connection with God: God interacts with us by drawing our consciousness’ attention to a certain principle within the Bible at the appropriate times (ex. when someone curses you, the principles of Matt. 5:5-9 come to mind, and consequently you walk away and do not retort; you are depressed and you remember Ps. 9:10).
The Bible isn’t what we thought it was (Source: The New Oxford Annotated Bible).
a) We don’t know what the Bible originally said
We don’t have the original documents (autographs) that we can examine what God’s actual words were.
The Bible is like a stack of pancakes. The Pentateuch in particular was written over a period of thousands of years by different people with different perspectives, rather than penned by a single author or two at one time as I was taught (Moses on the mountain writing the books). Priestly editors sewn together the different strings of sources from oral tradition and J,E,P, D sources written in three major stages (p. 3-5, 8-9). According to many scholars:
-The second creation narrative, the flood, the events of Jacob and Joseph, the events of Moses and the exodus began to be written around 1000 BCE during the early days of Israel’s monarchy, according to many scholars
-586-538 BCE. During the exile the priestly authors (P source) wrote or adapted, and compiled the seven day creation poem, Gen. 5 genealogies, another flood story, and God’s covenant of circumcision
-Finally in the post-exile period the priests identified what they would consider to be the important texts. They combined earlier non-P sources about their early ancestors and more P sources (p.5).
It isn’t plausible that the precise words of the narratives and laws were preserved for that amount of time.
b) Many events might not have happened, mainly the patriarchal period. Many historians agree that the exodus did not happen the way it is described, that the flood never happened, that Israel didn’t conquer Canaan the way the Bible described, and that Israel’s origin story is probably different (Grabbe, 2017, Moore & Kelle, 2011). So we’re left with a murky picture of who God is and how he interacted with people.
c) Things were added on
Ex. Mark’s ending, scribes changed the wording of Lk. 22:42-44, only some manuscripts have “Father, forgive them” (Lk:23:34) (The New Testament, Ehrman, 27).
1) We’re doomed to epistemic uncertainty. It’s too difficult to sift through what’s true or what happened verse by verse.
2) If God wasn’t involved with the Bible’s creation like we thought he was, if the bible does have errors, how can we know what’s true and false about who God is and what he said?
God isn’t the loving God who is intimately involved with humanity.
There isn’t an organized framework, a model as a point of reference, a reliable measure of what is true. Sure, we can attempt to identify what’s historically and theologically true syllable by syllable, but the question is why should we? If “God so loved the world that he gave his son” so that we can know him, why does this fog surrounding who God is exist? Why doesn’t God make himself more accessible? If there isn’t an objective way we can determine that God interacts with us, then what’s the point of pursuing God if we might not be pursuing anything at all?
There are many Christians who recognize the necessity of the Bible being an inerrant book, and they try admirably to argue this fact into existence. But they are swimming upstream, as year after year, biblical scholarship reveals more contradictions, inconsistencies, scientific errors, questionable authorships, interpolations, and the like. It is becoming almost impossible to maintain the inerrancy claim. And as it fades into oblivion, the god of the Bible becomes less and less viable.
(3278) God hates cross-dressing
The same deity who manages quasars, black holes, and trillions of galaxies, stars, and planets nevertheless finds time to let us know that he finds gender-related cross-dressing to be detestable.
4If you see your brother’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, you must not ignore it; you must help him lift it up. 5A woman must not wear men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing, for whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD your God. 6If you come across a bird’s nest with chicks or eggs, either in a tree or on the ground along the road, and the mother is sitting on the chicks or eggs, you must not take the mother along with the young.…
This is the only verse in the Bible that addresses this topic. Also note the verses before and after. They suggest rather strongly that 22:5 is an interpolation- someone just stuck it in between 22:4 and 22:6. These two verses appear to be seamlessly connected such that the passage reads much better by taking 22:5 out.
This might come as a relief to some Christians. Otherwise they would have to explain why God is less concerned about a master beating his slave than the master putting on a dress.
(3279) Yahweh’s dog analogy
The following analogy highlights the intrinsic cruelty of the Christian god:
Unbeknownst to all of us, Yahweh was once a regular individual on a planet that formed in a previous universe. As a boy he had a dog. This dog was not well behaved, so Yahweh would spank it from time to time.
As time passed, the dog became frail and they took it to the vet where it was decided that the best course of action was to euthanize the dog.
But Yahweh didn’t like that idea. He felt that this would be letting his bad dog get off the hook too easily. So he took the dog back home and spent the next few weeks tormenting the dog. He tried to keep the dog alive for as long as he could so the torturing could keep on going. Eventually the dog died and Yahweh was still not happy and wished he could resurrect the dog to inflict more pain and suffering.
Eventually Yahweh grew up and ascended to godhood, and he created his own universe.
One of the first things he did was to create a hell so that all intelligent lifeforms that failed to worship him could be sent there for suffering after they died. And this time, he made sure, unlike his dog, these individuals would never die so he could laugh and entertain himself while watching them scream and cry for eternity.
This is an uncomfortable comparison for Christians, but it should be stated with no hedging: It is immoral to worship a god who intends to bring dead people back to life for no purpose other than to torture them for eternity.
(3280) The demise of Jewish Christianity
The fact that Jesus was an observant Jew and that his disciples and initial followers were all Jewish begs the question of why this group of ‘believers’ did not survive to the present day, as has the gentile form of Christianity. It should be disturbing to Christians that the ‘core’ of the faith rotted away while only the outer layers survived. The following explains why this happened and was taken from:
With all of this history, there remains one question that has concerned me for years and has been highlighted in my review of this research. Why did Jewish Christianity, or whatever one desires to call it, basically not survive as a distinct movement beyond the fourth century? Was Adolph Harnack correct in seeing its demise as evidence of an inevitable forward movement beyond Christianity’s Jewish roots (almost a religious “survival of the fittest”)? Jerome’s famous comment was to the effect that these “Nazarenes” wanted to be both Jews and Christians and ended up being neither. Perhaps the burden of attempting to live in two worlds simply became too heavy, and they were absorbed into the “great church.”
There is another historical factor, however, and it was transpiring during that fateful fourth century. The Constantinian revolution, with its greater pressure on the Jews and limitation of their rights that had been granted so freely during the pagan period of the empire, must have had its effects on the Jewish believers as well. Previously it had not been a political embarrassment to be Jewish; many Jews were full Roman citizens. With the “new” Roman Empire, centered in that Nova Roma on the Bosporus, it was no longer politically acceptable to be Jewish. This new situation, with its effects on those who wanted to remain Jewish ethnically while still espousing the newly legalized faith, must have furthered the slow erosion of any loyalty to the first word of that designation, a Jewish believer in Jesus.
It is inconceivable that Jesus would have approved that his ministry would result in a largely non-Jew, pro-gentile religion. And he would have been especially outraged that this transformation of the faith was engineered by factions of the Roman Empire, the very establishment that he wanted to eliminate from Judea and that had him crucified. To be sure, he would probably not recognize modern Christianity as anything even remotely resembling his lifework.
(3281) God is inefficient
We are led to believe that God is all-powerful and infinitely intelligent. Given those attributes it is hard to explain why he seemed to engage in a lot of inefficient actions. Here are a few examples:
1) He floods the earth to kill humans but also kills other animals, trees, and plants that have nothing to do with his grievance.
2) He confuses the languages of people, such that it would later complicate his ability to get his message out to humankind.
3) He kills the first born sons of Egypt and sends plagues to get his people free, but he could have done that without the mayhem.
4) He has the Israelites slaughter other people in order to take over their land when he could have driven these people to other areas without them being killed.
5) He has his son born as a baby instead of just appearing full-grown, wasting 30 years before the sin sacrifice can be performed.
6) Jesus casts out demons and sends them into pigs who run into the sea and drown, whereas he could have just killed the demons or directed them to a harmless target.
7) He limits his revelation to a small corner of the globe, ensuring that it will take centuries before the rest of the world learns of him.
8) He has his son killed so he can forgive sins, but could have done that without the bloody ‘sacrifice.’
9) He allows his holy book to lose all of the original manuscripts and for it to be interpolated and mistranslated. He also fails to do the most efficient option of having Jesus write a gospel.
10) He allows lots of competing religions to thrive and confuse earthlings as to what they should believe.
Christians have painted their god with amazing characteristics- omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent. But their scriptures belie that claim. Instead, the Christian god seems rather clumsy, inefficient, and not very smart or compassionate.
(3282) Gospel messages that have failed the test of time
The following lists ten principles presented in the gospels that fail to meet modern standards of morality and ethics:
1) The vast majority of humankind faces an irrevocable eternity of horrific torture for failure to obey inviolable biblical commandments and teachings (Matt. 7:13-14, 7:26-27, 19:17; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26, 13:22-30; John 8:51, 12:48, 15:6).
2) Sacrificial offerings of innocent creatures are efficacious for the expiation of sin and for healing disease, especially the shedding of human blood for the remission of collective guilt (Matt. 5:23-24, 8:4, 26:28; Mark 10:45, 14:24; Luke 2:22-24, 5:14, 22:20; John 1:29, 3:16, 6:53-54; 1 John 4:10).
3) To achieve the highest calling in life, acolytes must permanently separate themselves from family members, including parents, siblings, spouses, and children (Matt. 10:34- 37, 12:48-50, 19:29; Mark 3:34-35; Luke 8:19-21, 14:26, 18:29-30).
4) Children are the possessions of their parents and should be punished severely for their own misbehavior as well as the transgressions of their ancestors (Matt. 10:21, 15:4, 24:19; Mark 7:10, 10:29-30, 13:12, 13:17; Luke 12:51-53, 19:43-44, 23:28-29).
5) Atonement for sinful thoughts and actions requires the physical mutilation of limbs and eyes, including emasculation to preserve godly purity (Matt. 5:29-30, 18:8-9, 19:11-12; Mark 9:43-49).
6) Divorce and remarriage are prohibited in almost all circumstances, with the single exception of documented spousal infidelity. Marriage to a divorced person is proscribed (Matt. 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).
7) Demonstrations of religious dedication include exorcising demons, glossolalic possession, viper-tempting, consuming poison, and faith-healing (Matt. 8:16, 8:28-34; Mark 5:9-17, 16:17-18; Luke 10:8-9).
8) People can be forgiven for all of their sins, except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which can never be forgiven, because it is the eternal sin (Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:10).
9) Acceptable human relationships include communal ownership of property, subordinate status of women, involuntary servitude, and collective punishment (Matt. 10:15, 11:20-24, 27:55-56; Luke 8:1-3, 10:38-42, 11:27-28).
10) Those who renounce worldly success, desert family and home, eschew personal needs, and devote one’s mortal life to Jesus will be rewarded with everlasting existence (Matt. 6:19- 21, 6:25, 10:39, 16:25-26, 19:21; Mark 8:35, 10:21; Luke 9:24, 12:22, 14:33, 18:22).
These precepts were probably more digestible two thousand years ago, but times have changed. If he was truly God, Jesus, realizing this, would likely have configured the faith to better stand the test of time. Instead, he appears to have been a product of his time.
(3283) Bad mechanic analogy
Much of Christian apologetics operates on the assumption that a theory is correct if there is no other competing theory to explain an observation. This is called an argument from ignorance. The Christians says that God must be the answer for whatever we don’t have any other answers.
The following is an example of this fallacy
Car Owner – my car won’t start.
Bad Mechanic – that’s because there isn’t enough air in the tires.
Car Owner – I don’t think it’s the air pressure.
Bad Mechanic – Do you know what it is?
Car Owner – No.
Bad Mechanic – Then it must be the air pressure.
Using God or any supernatural entity as a placeholder for phenomena for which we have no natural explanation is a tactic doomed to failure. Eventually, a natural explanation will be found and the theist will have to retreat to the ever diminishing territory of the unknown. (In the above example, a good mechanic will come around and find that the battery is dead, and the bad mechanic will eat his words.)
If the Christian god was real, Christians would habitually be on the offensive, not continually backing off in a defensive posture.
(3284) God’s omnipotence versus blaming Satan
There is a critical contradiction among many Christians who hold two views that are incompatible- that God is all powerful and that Satan is responsible for most of the suffering in the world. The following infographic depicts the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey:
The salient finding among the various groups of Christians is that all of them by a substantial margin believe stronger that Satan is responsible for most of the suffering in the world than doubt that God is all-powerful. This is especially pronounced among evangelicals (73% blame Satan while only 5% doubt God’s omnipotence).
This needs to be unpacked. If God is all-powerful, then he can control what Satan does, as well as decide whether Satan is allowed to continue to exist. This can mean only one thing- these evangelicals as well as substantial numbers of other Christian groups must believe (perhaps subconsciously) that God is deliberately allowing Satan to live and to cause suffering.
Consider the following analogy. A prisoner tells a jailer that he intends to kill someone that the Jailer would like to be dead. The jailer lets the prisoner out and he kills the person. Who is responsible for the murder? Obviously the jailer. Who is responsible for the suffering meted out by Satan? Obviously God. Those 73% of evangelicals are clueless.
(3285) People see God as a reflection of themselves
Providing evidence that religion is a mind virus, a study has shown that when people imagine what God looks like, it is usually a reflection of themselves or their culture. This bias applies also to what God likes or dislikes. The following was taken from:
Once you see them side by side, the resemblance is so obvious. Put an aggregated vision of what God looks like next to a head shot of Elon Musk and prepare to be freaked out.
A study that surveyed 511 American Christians yielded a composite image of what the participants believe God looks like. I stared at this face for a while, thinking it looked familiar, like my uncle in his 30s, maybe? Then I saw that Gizmodo had picked up on the Musk-like similarities and couldn’t imagine seeing anyone else in that face.
Psychologists from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill asked believers to look at hundreds of randomly differing face pairs and pick one from each pair that looked most like how they imagine God. All the selections were then combined into the composite face of the being that created heavens and earth… or is it the man who wants to moves us from earth deeper into the heavens?
Interestingly, a “face of God” that looks like Elon Musk means that we seem to think the Creator is a very modern man; clean-shaven and rather youthful looking, unlike the classic images of an old dude with a big beard in the clouds.
The study found that people saw a lot of themselves in God. Younger people believed in a younger-looking God, African Americans believed in a deity that looked more African American, and people who consider themselves more physically attractive believe in a God who is more hot than not.
This may help explain why the study’s collective God looks like Elon Musk, who undeniably looks like a pretty average white person. I have to wonder: if we created a composite image of the 511 people that participated in the study, would we get roughly the same face?
“People’s tendency to believe in a God that looks like them is consistent with an egocentric bias,” said Professor Kurt Gray, the senior author of the study published in Plos One, in a release. “People often project their beliefs and traits onto others, and our study shows that God’s appearance is no different—people believe in a God who not only thinks like them, but also looks like them.”
So this “Face of God” is really just humanity looking at its own reflection rather than evidence that Musk’s success as an entrepreneur and marketer is due to his hidden status as an all-powerful creator of the universe.
Besides, if Musk really were God, wouldn’t he be able to hit his own timelines and produce all those back-ordered Tesla Model 3 units with a snap of his fingers? You’d think so, but remember, Elon works in mysterious ways.
It is indulgent to believe that God looks like a human male. Also, it makes no sense that God has any shape or form whatsoever considering that he is considered to be ‘everywhere.’ Having a physical body would pin him down to some definite location and that would not do for Christian sensibilities. Otherwise it might be possible to launch a spacecraft and take a photo of God. In all, imagining what God looks like just makes these people look stupid.
(3286) Universal awareness threatens personalistic theology
Christianity was born in a world where the earth, moon, and sun comprised essentially the entire universe. Within this reality, it was easy to conclude that a god would be primarily focused on human life. But now that view is strained to the limits as we realize how small and insignificantly-positioned we are in the grand scheme of things. We are like an ant stuck in a small closet in the basement of a mansion and proclaiming that we understand everything about the master of the house. The following was taken from:
Increased awareness of the universe threatens personalistic theology not only by suggesting that the earth is an infinitely small grain drifting unnoticed in space, but also by impressing man with the severe limits of his knowledge. Man knows so little about the universe because he has experienced so very little of it. By careful analysis of the light spectrum from distant stars we can determine their size, rate of rotation, chemical make-up, age, etc. But we have not yet contacted and communicated with other inhabitants of the universe. We have not had the valuable experience of comparing notes with any of the other civilizations or life systems which no doubt exist elsewhere in space. We don’t know what they have to say about God; we don’t know whether they take such a notion seriously or laugh at it. We are isolated and ignorant—however much we may pride ourselves on our science and technology.
It seems the height of arrogance, therefore, to claim that we know the nature of ultimate reality, or to suggest that we have unraveled the mystery of the universe. This, however, is precisely what much theology claims to have done—and this is implicitly the claim that our creeds make. But our theological systems have been formulated within the confines of one small planet. Until we have greatly widened our experience of the universe—and this might be centuries way—it would seem to be folly to make pronouncements on the nature of God. To claim that we know what God is like is somewhat similar to announcing the outcome of an election with only one of a billion precincts reporting; we unfortunately do not have the cosmic equivalent of NBC’s Electronic Vote Analysis! We just are not in a position to know very much—given the limitations of our earthly existence.
Theology has acknowledged this unfortunate situation and has formulated a solution to the impasse: the revelation claim. Of course we are an isolated speck in space, it is admitted; of course we have only earthly knowledge to go by—if we depended on merely “natural” ways of knowing God, we would be poor indeed. But God has chosen to reveal himself to us. Our anxiety is thereby lessened because we know that God has given us information about himself that is otherwise undetectable and unknowable. There are great difficulties connected with this theological solution, however: how do we know what is revelation and what isn’t? Every prayer, every verse of the Bible, every creed, every doctrine, every article of faith, is a product of that organ known as the human brain.
Now, if it is going to be insisted that some of the output of this organ has been stimulated by a deity, i.e., that it merely comes through the brain from an exterior and superior source, we must have criteria for judging what is of human origin and what is of divine origin. If we do not have these criteria (which we don’t), we are in a hopeless situation, for there is no way of determining if there is any material of divine origin at all, or whether we are merely deceiving ourselves. We run the risk that a human system expressed with eloquence and wisdom will be mistaken for the word of God.
It is only by haughty arrogance that theologians claim to understand the mind of God, or even that they can validate the very existence of any entity meeting that definition, without first exploring the depths of the universe and communicating with other intelligent life forms, not only in this galaxy but in the trillions of other galaxies. Christianity is an exercise in declaring full knowledge of every characteristic of a hundred-acre lawn by examining just one blade of grass.
(3287) Christian denialism
Christian evangelicals in the United States (especially) are demonstrating how as a large group they can come to believe in demonstrably false concepts. This suggests that religious belief is a fertilizer for detaching people from reality, and a potential template for how Christianity formed in the absence of anything supernatural happening. The following was taken from:
The white evangelical war on truth currently is being manifested in six sinister ways:
1. COVID-19 denialism
At this writing, more than 760,000 people in America have died of COVID-19. African Americans and other people of color have been disproportionately impacted. Several of my extended family members have been gravely ill with COVID-19, one of whom died as a result of the virus. Yet, there are many white evangelicals who believe the pandemic is “overblown.” Some have callously called it a “plandemic” created by “the left” to gain political advantage.
They further assert, without evidence, that hospitals and the “mainstream media” are fudging the numbers. By “mainstream media,” these white evangelicals essentially mean every other network besides ones like Fox News, One America News Network, Newsmax and Breitbart, which traffic in extreme right-wing propaganda and crackpot conspiracies. Early on during the pandemic, these networks echoed Trump’s spurious and dangerous talking points about coronavirus. Many white evangelicals ate up this “fake news,” and they continue to do so.
But it doesn’t stop there. White evangelical leaders and churches have been among the most prolific purveyors of COVID-19 and mask misinformation in the country. A prime example of this is Pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church, located in Middle Tennessee. In the past, Locke has told his members if they come to worship wearing masks, they would be turned away. Locke also said in an interview, “I do believe COVID is a flu strain that would have never been heard of had it not been an election year.” He has since been banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation.
Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles has said from the pulpit, “There is no pandemic.” MacArthur also allowed thousands of maskless church members to gather despite pandemic orders, even as some fell ill.
What makes the positions of Locke and MacArthur so ironic is that both identify as “pro-life.” Epidemiologists agree: When people wear masks, they are protecting their neighbors from the potential spread of the virus. Despite the actions of these pastors, Jesus did have something to say about loving one’s neighbor.
2. Vaccine denialism
There is clear scientific evidence that the current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective. However, many white evangelicals are in denial about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. They see faith and the science related to these vaccines as being mutually exclusive.
White evangelicals have been one of the most vaccine-hesitant segments of the United States population since vaccines first became available. In fact, among religious groups, white evangelicals are the most resistant to vaccination. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been conducting a rigorous ongoing study. As of June 2021, it found that about 14% of American adults say they won’t get vaccinated under any circumstances, while the number is 22% among white evangelicals.
Some white evangelical leaders have said outlandish things concerning COVID-19 vaccines. At one point, Locke said the vaccines were actually “sugar water.” To exploit peoples’ fears, other leaders have falsely claimed that vaccines contain fetal tissue or microchips or are somehow associated with the “mark of the beast” referenced in the book of Revelation.
Still other white evangelical leaders have been telling their followers they don’t need any vaccine. They simply need to have faith that God will protect them from COVID-19. Using this logic, many of these same individuals simply need to have faith that God will protect them, and give up all their guns. Mind you, I affirm one’s basic right to bear arms. I’m just illustrating the inconsistency of these leaders’ argument.
There are a few prominent white evangelical leaders who are encouraging their followers to get vaccinated, but these are outliers. Even among those encouraging others to consider vaccination, some engage in a rhetorical two-step of sorts by saying, “But you have your freedoms. It’s your choice.” This is a rather Trumpian approach. Focusing on one’s “personal freedoms” at the expense of one’s neighbor is selfish. It is not looking out for the interest of others, as the Apostle Paul encouraged his readers to do in Philippians 2:4.
Natalie Jackson, research director of the Public Religion Research Institute, has said, “If anything, the pattern of white evangelical resistance to vaccination has reached the point where some white evangelical leaders who might otherwise urge vaccination hesitate to do so because of the political climate.”
Simply put, rather than standing on the truth concerning vaccination against COVID-19, these white evangelical leaders usually give in to the pressure. This sounds eerily similar to the position Pilate took relative to Jesus before authorizing his crucifixion.
3. Climate change denialism
There is general consensus in the scientific community on the issue of climate change. Further, people of various religious faiths believe our planet is getting warmer and we humans must take responsibility for this.
That said, white evangelicals are among the most skeptical with regard to climate science. According to a Pew Research Center poll from May 2020, while 62% of religiously unaffiliated American adults agree that the earth is warming primarily due to human action, only 24% of white evangelical Protestants do.
Given the numbers, it’s easy to see how the talking points of many white evangelical leaders and climate change denialists in the Republican Party are strikingly similar. Many conservative Republicans and white evangelicals immediately dismiss any talk of environmentalism and climate change as a part of a “leftist agenda.”Trump has described climate change as a “hoax,” and he’s been called the “worst president for the environment in history.” Over the four years of the Trump administration, major climate policies were dismantled. Moreover, according to a New York Times analysis, nearly 100 rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals were officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back. This did not result in any massive outcry among white evangelicals. They apparently saw no inconsistency bearing the banner of “pro-life” while supporting one whose policies were largely pro-death, especially for those whom Jesus called “the least of these.”
There’s a segment of the white evangelical population that believes in global warming. However, there’s no urgency to do anything about it among most. Some believe God’s instruction to humans, in the book of Genesis, to take dominion over the earth and everything in it implies unrestrained power and control.
But Psalm 24:1 makes it quite clear that “the earth and everything in it” belong to the Lord. In view of this biblical truth, those of us who inhabit the earth should be good stewards of it. Therefore, white evangelicals who profess to have a high view of the Bible and a belief in the sanctity of life should be at the forefront of addressing this critical issue.
4. Fair election denialism
During his first presidential campaign, in 2016, Trump made numerous claims of “voter fraud” occurring in the United States. In 2017, after his election, he created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity through executive order. This commission was formed to examine a “problem” that did not exist. Study after study had demonstrated there was no widespread election fraud in the United States. By June 2018, this commission was disbanded without producing one shred of evidence substantiating Trump’s erroneous claims.
Like a spoiled child insisting on having his way, long before any votes were cast in the 2020 election, Trump planted many seeds of doubt about the forthcoming election results. He said things like, “The only way we’re gonna lose is if it’s rigged.” After Trump lost, in a free and fair election, he never conceded, falsely claiming the election had been stolen.
In his article titled “Rise of Conspiracies Reveals an Evangelical Divide in the GOP,” Daniel A. Cox discusses how much more likely white evangelical Republicans are than other Republicans to believe conspiracy theories, such as the QAnon conspiracy. Cox said: “The assertion that the 2020 presidential election was rife with voter fraud — a claim Trump has repeated consistently without evidence — is common among white evangelical Christian Republicans. But is less widely held among other Republicans. Seventy-four percent of white evangelical Republicans say the claim that there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election is either mostly or completely accurate.”
Cox goes on to state that 75% of white evangelical Republicans say President Joe Biden was not legitimately elected. By some estimates, white evangelicals make up about a third of consistent Republican voters. Consider the corrosive impact such false beliefs could have on the Republican Party, the Biden administration and democracy as a whole.
Shortly after the 2020 election, a number of states began riding the wave of Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen, passing voter suppression laws. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, between Jan. 1 and July 14, 2021, at least 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote. These laws disproportionately impact people of color, who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. The term “election integrity” is simply a pseudonym for voter suppression.
5. Insurrection denialism
In my lifetime, there are two events during which I can say exactly where I was. The first is the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The second is the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. I saw the events of that fateful day in January unfold in real time as I watched the news in my home while recovering from COVID-19.
An overwhelmingly white mob of Trump supporters was storming the Capitol, viciously attacking police along the way. Trump clearly incited this insurrection while peddling the Big Lie at the “Stop the Steal Rally.” However, he started his diabolical disinformation campaign long before the election. It resulted in the Capitol being breached and desecrated, five fatalities, 140 injuries to law enforcement, and scores of traumatized officials. Most notably, it was arguably the greatest threat to our democracy since 9/11 or the Civil War.
But what sickened me the most about this failed attempt to overturn a democratic election was the strong influence of white evangelical and Christian nationalist elements within the mob. I never will forget the Trump and “Jesus Saves” banners being raised collectively with the American, Christian and Confederate battle flags.
Some of these white evangelical Christian nationalist terrorists chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” because the former vice president would not prevent the certification of the electoral votes. In their perverted way of thinking, they saw themselves as “patriots” and not the misguided, thuggish Trump cult members they really are. I saw live on TV some illegally enter the Senate chamber and while proudly standing atop the dais, they offered a prayer, invoking Jesus’ name.
After all this, a good portion of the white evangelical electorate denies what we all saw with our own eyes. It was obviously Trump loyalists who engaged in this seditionist affair. Not the “Deep State,” not Black Lives Matter, not Antifa, not the FBI. This was no “false flag operation.”
This was the real deal: a terrorist attack inspired by and incited by the sitting president of these United States. Yet a great percentage of white evangelicals either downplay this fact or want us to forget it even happened in the first place. And these are the people who are supposed to be defenders of truth? I think not.
6. Systemic racism denialism
At the peak of the pandemic, I received a text message from a white evangelical pastor who had been a longtime friend of mine. For years, we had shared in joint worship and “the breaking of bread,” as we call it in church circles.
In light of the racial justice protests of 2020, he expressed concern for me and a desire to get together that he might provide support. Naturally, I agreed. We met in my pastor’s study. He began by stating his belief that the officer who murdered George Floyd deserved to be executed. Like many Americans, he seemed genuinely appalled by what he saw with his own eyes. However, he was focused on the glaring injustice of that singular event.
Given my friend’s myopic focus, I began to explain to him the historic realities of systemic racism manifested in policing across the country. I told him that Floyd’s murder was not just about one “bad apple” in a police department, but one of countless examples of how Black bodies are policed in America. I cited other examples of systemic racism, such as redlining, as well as racial disparities in sentencing and in household income. A look of discomfort came on his face as he began to fidget in his seat. I listed several authors and resources I had personally found helpful on the subject of systemic racism. Suddenly, he became less willing to listen and more eager to push back on what I was attempting to share. We abruptly ended the conversation.
Later, I texted my friend, asking if he would be willing to read some of Jemar Tisby’s work. He emphatically declined, indicating his admiration for Voddie Baucham’s work. Interestingly, Baucham is the Black author many white evangelicals and fundamentalists reference when they want to refute any validity of Critical Race Theory and/or the very existence of systemic racism. Such persons have predictably mislabeled authors such as Tisby “Critical Race Theorists” or “Cultural Marxists.”
I surmise that most of these individuals don’t even know what Critical Race Theory or Marxism actually are, nor have they read primary sources related to either. All they know is that these terms can be deployed as weapons of mass distraction, intended to shut down any substantive conversation about race or racism.
What made the interactions with my friend so deeply disturbing and traumatizing is that he gave more weight to the perspectives of an author he’s only briefly met as opposed to those of me, one whom he’s called “friend” for years.
Sadly, my experience is not uncommon among African Americans who have tried to engage white evangelicals on the issue of systemic racism. The hyper-individualistic theology and cultural arrogance of many white evangelicals makes it very difficult for them to see beyond the limited scope of personal sin. For the sake of my mental health, I will only engage individuals who are truly ready to listen and learn.
If a large group of religiously-inclined people can be this badly misinformed in today’s information-rich society, imagine the situation that existed twenty centuries ago. It becomes difficult to explain why, if these people are actually interacting with an omniscient deity, how they could believe so strongly in things that are factually untrue.? Why wouldn’t God guide their beliefs to a better representation of reality?
(3288) Heaven and free will
Christian theology is somewhat complicated by the belief that Satan rebelled in heaven and was sent to hell. Most Christians believe that once they are admitted to heaven that they are no longer vulnerable to being sent to hell. But if that is the case, then do they not have free will to rebel as did Satan? This creates a bit of a mess. The following was taken from:
If Satan sinned against God and fell from heaven, does that mean that humans who have gone to heaven still have the chance to sin against God and fall to hell? Or do humans get special treatment from God, or change into a spiritual being who cannot sin against God?
Extra question whether you believe about Satan’s fall or not: If humans who have been admitted to heaven cannot sin against God, does that mean they are stripped of free will, since they automatically abide God’s rules?
Satan’s fall suggests that either heaven is not an eternal guarantee or that free will is not offered there. Either way, it taints the paradisaical image of the afterlife that Christianity likes to project.
(3289) Christianity promotes evil
It would be expected that a religion tied to the real god of the universe would be an unmitigated blessing to the people of the world, bringing peace, harmony, joy, love, forbearance, compassion, and good stewardship. But with Christianity, we see something different. It fails in nearly every way to produce an idylic world, Instead it promotes evil in many ways. The following was taken from:
1) Opposing protections and rights for children is evil. Thanks to the influence of biblical Christianity, the U.S. stands alone with Somalia in failing to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Why? Because the Bible instructs parents to hit their children, among other things. Laws that give rights to children go head to head with biblical texts which say in no uncertain terms that children are the property of their fathers, to be punished or even killed in accordance with the father’s religious beliefs and other priorities.
When a Muslim father in Tunisia recently burned his 13 year old daughter to death for walking home with a male classmate, Christians were rightfully appalled. What many fail to acknowledge is that their insistence on elevating religion above universal ethical principles, human rights, and secular laws regularly costs children their lives, not just children with Muslim parents governed by Muslim theocracies, but also children with Christian parents in towns across America.
2) Denying young people accurate information about their bodies is evil. The U.S. government just spent a decade and a billion dollars on failed abstinence-only education programs concocted by Bible believers who live in some delusional world where prohibition works and virginity is next to godliness. Thanks to their influence, straight-faced educators tell teens that a girl who has had sex is a licked lollipop. Instead of medically accurate information and thoughtful conversation about intimacy and childbearing, teens get promise rings and slut shame.
The result? Here in the U.S., more than one in four girls gets pregnant before she turns 20, often with heartbreaking multigenerational consequences for women, children and whole communities.More than half of girls who give birth during high school drop out, permanently. Only two percent ever graduate college.
3) Demeaning and subjugating women is evil. When it comes to dignity and equality for women, instead of acting as moral torchbearers, Bible believers have been at the back of the pack for generations, along with conservative factions from other Abrahamic traditions ranging from Islam to Mormonism. The American Quiverfull movement, “complementarianism,” theexpulsion of Southern Baptist women who were making inroads into the clergy, the Mormon Patriarchy’s threats to excommunicate women who seek equality, the Vatican’s decision to crush nuns who thought poverty was a bigger problem than abortion . . . Need I say more?
4) Obstructing humanity’s transition to more thoughtful, intentional childbearing is evil.“If a woman dies in [child]bearing, let her die; she is there to do it.” So spoke Martin Luther. But beyond the horrors of women dying after days of labor or bleeding out after unwanted childbirth, lies the incontrovertible evidence that children, families and whole communities do better when parents can plan their families. As one medical student put it, “The failure of any sect to support the benefits to humanity that could be obtained through the use of contraceptive technology is blasphemy.”
If evidence-based compassion—the intersection of truth and love—was at the top of Christian priorities, hunger and destitution would be vastly diminished because millions of mothers would be able to plan and prepare for their babies.
But for two generations, Christian patriarchs have been fighting against public health advocates every step of the way. In June alone, Christians in the U.S. congress voted to slash family planning aid by 25 percent, and the five Catholic men on the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the “religious freedom” of corporations is more important than the right of working women to care for their health and their families.
5) Undermining science is evil. Science has been called what we know about how not to fool ourselves.The discovery of empiricism and falsification—a method of inquiry that forces scholars to ask the questions that could show them wrong—is what has differentiated modernity from the Middle Ages. It’s the reason most of our children don’t die before hitting the age of five. It’s the reason broken legs heal straight, sky scrapers don’t collapse, and our houses are warm in the winter. It is what alerted us to the fact that our carbon consumption has become an existential threat.
But the scientific method has also become an existential threat to Bible belief. We know now that the Genesis creation story is myth, neurotransmitters rather than demons cause mental illness, mandrake roots and dove blood don’t improve female fertility or cure skin diseases, and the cognitive structures of the human mind predispose us to certain kinds of religious belief.
It may boggle moral credibility that believers intent on propping up the Bible would sacrifice humanity’s best hope of beating the enormous threats we face, threats like resource depletion, food and water shortages, climate change, and rapidly evolving superbugs. But if there’s any overarching theme to Christian history it is this: the end justifies the means.
6) Promoting holy war is evil. What first flipped my bit, what transformed me from an agnostic into an outspoken full-time antagonist of Bible worship was a conversation with my Evangelical relatives about the Iraq war. From the vantage of my relatives and my childhood church “family,” George Bush needed no diplomatic or cultural expertise; he was Born Again. He didn’t need to seek input from his earthly father about the invasion, because he asked his Heavenly Father. Besides, Jesus is coming soon and war in the Middle East is predicted in the Bible. That makes it not only inevitable, but—in a manner of speaking—desirable.
Evangelical Christians have spent tens of millions of dollars funding the “return” of Jews to Israeland settlements in the West Bank “as it is written in the scripture”—with the perverse expectation that their presence will one day cause blood to flow in the streets as high as a horse’s bridle.
7) Abusing and killing queers is evil. The Bible’s clobber verses may be open to interpretation, but the fact that those verses have caused centuries of suffering is not. For much of American history, the common term for queer was the biblical “sodomite,” implying that gays are so offensive to God that they pose a threat to society as a whole. Thanks to Christian missionaries, African and Latin American queers also have now lived for centuries now under the threat of violent death. As progressive Anglican Gay Clark Jennings observes, “There is no getting around the Bible when searching for the origins of the homophobia that is rampant in many African cultures.
What’s more, Europeans and North Americans bear much of the historical responsibility for this sad state of affairs.”
It would be bad enough if we were simply talking about history. But homophobic American Christians, thwarted at home, have turned to inciting oppression in Uganda and Nigeria where their hatred still finds fertile ground.
8) Destroying Earth’s web of life and impoverishing future generations is evil. The book of Genesis may say that only man is made in the image of God and that God gave man dominion over everything that grows or walks the earth. The book of Matthew may say that the return of Jesus is imminent and that his disciples shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, which will take care of itself. The book of Revelation may teach that this world is just a prelude to streets of gold.
But some of us think the lives and loves of other species have moral weight of their own. And some of us think that the intricate web that gave us birth is both precious and precarious, and that the wellbeing of future generations matters. And we think those verses in Genesis and Matthew and Revelation reveal more about the hubris and flawed humanity of the Bible writers (and of Bible believers) than they do about divinity.
9) Trying to suck vulnerable people into your poorly researched worldview is evil. It’s one thing to latch onto the supernatural worldview you were raised in or the one that first triggered for you some radically cool temporal lobe micro-seizure or similar altered state. But then failing to do your homework before using your position of adult American privilege to foist your religion on kindergarteners, or families who live in desperate poverty, or people who just got hit by a natural disaster—in other words people who trust you because you are older or richer or more powerful or have more access to the very information that you have failed to use—now we’re talking about a violation of ethics. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.
Some reader is bound to say that without God anything goes and so as a nontheist I have no basis for calling anything evil. A short snarky retort has been making its way around the internet: If you can’t tell right from wrong without appealing to an authority or a sacred text, what you lack is not religion but compassion. The long answer, meaning the evidence showing we really can recognize evil and good without gods, is available in neuroscience, sociology, developmental psychology, and in the lives of individual atheists including the Dalai Lama.
I realize that many Christians are not Bible believers, but rather people who glean through the Christian tradition to claim what seems timeless and wise. I also realize that most Bible believers aren’t trying to do harm—in fact the opposite. I know because I’ve been there. But, when you treat the words of our Iron Age ancestors as if they flowed straight from the mouth of God, you end up putting your life energy, whether you see it that way or not, into bringing back the Iron Age.
The Iron Age was a time of incredible brutality—tribalism, warfare, destitution, disease, murder, misogyny, sexual slavery and superstition of biblical proportions. Most of us would rather not go back, thank you very much. Christians who want a better future are welcome to join in the inquiry and teamwork it will take to get there, and many do. For the rest of you: please forgive the fact that your Iron Age fantasies trigger some of us to experience wry Iron Age fantasies of our own.
It should be asked how a religion that taps into the majesty of an omnipotent god could foment so much harm, abuse, and injustice. This simply is not the work of an unbounded benevolent god. Instead it smells like the outgrowth of a human-created product that has been tampered with and deviously distorted for various inglorious purposes.
(3290) Glorifying genocide
It’s one thing to admit to something evil, to acknowledge it, and even to try to mitigate its overall significance, but Christianity has gone one step further, to actually glorify the story in the Book of Joshua where the Canaanites were slaughtered for their land. The following was taken from:
To me, the most horrifying part of the Bible is the Book of Joshua. It says that the Hebrews invaded Canaan and exterminated the population of Jericho, Ai, and other cities, including all the women and children. A prostitute in Jericho got her life spared and her family’s by turning informant.
I should mention this is a made-up story; archaeologists say that there was no city on the site of Jericho at the appropriate time, and there’s no independent evidence of a war of extermination. But many Christians glorify this supposed act of mass murder. There are even children’s cartoons on YouTube saying how great Joshua was for leading a genocide.
While I’m wary of Godwin’s Law, I consider it fair to say that the fictional massacre of the Canaanites is as evil as anything the Nazis ever did. Christians try to justify it by saying the Canaanites were so evil that they deserved to be slaughtered. Answers in Genesis justifies the massacres by saying that the inhabitants engaged in “idolatry [they had the wrong religion], sodomy [some of them were gay], bestiality [yuck, but deserving of death?], sorcery [ancient people often believed magic worked], and child sacrifice [we’ve got to kill the Canaanite kids to save them from being killed].” This site should call itself “Answers in Genocide.”
I have no patience with anyone who glorifies mass murder.
Christians are essentially pinned against a wall, having no choice but to defend the Canaanite genocide, because to do otherwise would be to criticize their god and their Bible heroes. This exposes the bankruptcy of the faith, revealing it to be a moral failure- saying that something is right if God does it no matter how it plays out in the court of human values. The Canaanite genocide is a thorn in Christianity’s side and it can never be extracted.
(3291) God cannot be human-centered
By observing the universe and evolution, a case can be made that whatever god might exist, it is not human-centered. This implies that the Christian god, who is primarily interested in homo sapiens, does not exist. The following was taken from:
Sometimes it is so difficult — or just painstakingly inefficient — to answer a question directly that an indirect approach is more preferable. By considering a related but opposite or complementary question, meaningful progress can be achieved. A famous example, from probability, is the Birthday Problem: what is the chance in a room with n number of people that a birthday is shared?
To avoid cumbersome calculations, the solution to this question is best arrived at by first asking and solving for the related question: what is the probability that a birthday is not shared? Then, by subtracting that probability from 1 (i.e. 100%), one arrives at the probability that a birthday is shared:
p(a birthday is shared) = 1 – p(a birthday is not shared)
Similarly, in the philosophy of religion, I think it’s very difficult to answer what, if God exists, is God even like? Instead, it may be more promising, at least for developing our conceptual understanding, to consider what God cannot be like.
Interestingly, in an article by the Philosopher Emily Thomas (Durham University), I came across an argument against the existence of a human-oriented God(1). Below, I’ve extracted it for your convenience:
P1: A human-oriented God would make humans prominent in the Universe.
P2: Humans do not feature prominently in the Universe.
C: Therefore, if God exists, God is not human-oriented.
Objection: I don’t find this argument very compelling because, regardless of whatever religious scriptures say, I don’t think that human prominence in the universe is required or necessarily follows from a human-oriented God. Humans needn’t feature prominently in order to be the special aim of God; which anyway really is what an orientation towards something implies.
There is, however, I think a far more compelling argument against the existence of a human-oriented God (2):
P1: A human-oriented God would make humans the special goal or purpose of evolution.
P2: Evolution is goalless and without any purpose whatsoever.
C: Therefore, if God exists, God is not human-oriented.
Contrary to human prominence in the universe, I think that a teleological notion of biological evolution must necessarily follow from a human-oriented God. However, given everything that we know about biology, teleological explanations fail to adequately account for and explain biological evolution.
So, while I cannot say what God is like, I think something can be said about what God cannot be like. Although humans don’t need to feature prominently in the universe for a human-oriented God to exist, it’s necessary for biological evolution to be teleological. However, because biological evolution isn’t teleological, it is therefore irrational to believe that God is human-oriented. If God exists, God cannot be human-oriented.
If the Christian god actually existed, then we would expect to see at the very least an evolutionary history that was focused directly on the development of humans. Instead, it was a chaotic process that zigzagged back and forth and wasted hundreds of millions of years before people finally evolved.
In fact, based on where we are now, the case can be made that any god that existed must have been more focused on dinosaurs, as they lived for 160 million years, or about 800 times longer than humans have so far been around. Crediting this argument, it appears that the god promoted by Christianity does not exist.
(3292) One leaping fetus
In a sure sign of mythology, the author of the Gospel of Luke got carried away in describing the visit of the newly impregnated (with Jesus) Mary with her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. He has the fetus ‘leaping for joy’ when it heard Mary’s voice:
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord’s word to her will be fulfilled.”
This could be ascribed to poetic license, but because this gospel was intended to be a factual account, adding in the preposterous concept of a fetus hearing and understanding a voice in the Aramaic language, and demonstrably reacting to the implications thereof, leads one to suspect that other aspects of this gospel are likewise mythical.
(3293) Jesus never expected worship
Although conventional Christian theology impresses followers to worship Jesus as being God, in the gospels, Jesus is never seen to expect or command such adoration or devotion. There is a contradiction between Christian practice and their scriptures. The following was taken from:
Jesus never instructed his disciples to worship him
‘When you pray, say Our Father which art in heaven.’ (Luke 11:2)
‘In that day, you shall ask me nothing. Whatsoever you ask of the Father in my name.’ (John 16:23)
‘The hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.’ (John 4:23)
Jesus worshiped the only true God
‘that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’ (John 17:3)
‘he continued all night in prayer to God.’ (Luke 6:12)
‘Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve’ (Matthew 20:28)
If seems that Jesus’ disciples and other followers were still worshiping only God the Father and not Jesus himself, and that this concept did not develop until some time after the First Century, as it was never codified in the gospels. Worshiping Jesus would have been a foreign concept to early Christians.
(3294) Asherah, El’s consort
The Canaanite female deity Asherah appears to have played a role in the development of Israelite theology that eventually led to Yahweh becoming their sole god. The following was taken from:
Long story short, Asherah was a Canaanite deity that acted as the consort of the head of the Canaanite pantheon, El. Most scholars believe that much of the Israelite religion originated, at least in part, from a Canaanite context and see conflation of the Canaanite El with the Israelite Yahweh. Some of these associations appear to be reflected in some of the Biblical polemics against Asherah worship.
Here’s some citations:
General overview of Asherah:
Asherah – El’s wife and the principal goddess of Sidon and Tyre. She is the “Mother of the Gods”; her name, originally pronounced Athirat, in its full form is “Athirat of the Sea.” Coogan, Michael D.; Mark S. Smith. Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition (p. 173). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Asherah in the Biblical text:
In the Bible, most scholars detect the goddess Asherah in 2 Kings 21:7 and 23:4, 6–7. In biblical Hebrew the word asherah is also a common noun, meaning a sacred tree or pole used in the goddess’s worship; it was probably a fertility symbol. In this capacity, the asherah, arguably the symbol of the goddess by the same name, is implicitly associated with Yahweh, as the fertility god par excellence. The Bible prohibits this form of worship of Yahweh: “You shall not set up an asherah of any wood next to the altar of Yahweh your god” (Deut. 16:21). Coogan, Michael D.; Mark S. Smith. Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition (pp. 17-18). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
On association of Yahweh with the Canaanite deity El:
Other titles of El in the Ugaritic texts also have echoes in the Bible. Thus, in Genesis 21:33, Yahweh is styled “El, the Eternal One,” reminding us of El’s title “the Father of Time”; the phrase “the Mighty One of Jacob” (Gen. 49:24, etc.) should probably be rendered “the Bull of Jacob,” recalling El’s identification as “the Bull”; and the liturgical phrase “Yahweh, Yahweh, a merciful and gracious god [el], slow to anger and quick to forgive” (Exod. 34:6, etc.), is a variant of “El the Kind, the Compassionate.” Coogan, Michael D.; Mark S. Smith. Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition (p. 15). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
As this brief overview has shown, Canaanite motifs permeate the Bible. Most significant is the fusion of Baal language and El language in the descriptions of Yahweh and his activity: the god of Israel may be unique, but the formulas that Israel used to express its understanding of him were not. The more we learn of the cultural context in which the Israelites lived, the more the prophetic remark rings true: By origin and by birth you are of the land of the Canaanites. (Ezek. 16:3) Coogan, Michael D.; Mark S. Smith. Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition (p. 18). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Is should be assumed that if Yahweh was the sole god of the universe, and that he chose the Israelites as his chosen people, and that he intended to make his existence known to them, that they would have solely worshiped Yahweh from the start. Evolving gods gives little confidence that we are dealing with actual supernatural beings.
(3295) The proof is in the pudding
If Christianity is as it is claimed to be, then Christians are plugged into a supernatural source for gaining insight, compassion, love, and patience. This should be manifested in the way that Christians lead their lives compared to non-Christians. There should be a demonstrable difference. Instead, we observe the opposite. The following was taken from:
Christianity has had a horrible year, and decade, and a pretty bad last few hundred years, actually. In fact, depending on who you talk to, it’s pretty much been a train wreck from the very start. The New Testament even has the apostles sending strongly-worded letters to the earliest churches, condemning them for their mistakes, desperately trying to correct their failures.
Christ’s own prayer concerning the Church has gone largely unanswered. His plea in John 17:20-23 that believers be as one, unified to reflect the love of God, seems like a long lost impossibility. Today’s church is extremely divided, especially over LGBTQ+ affirmation, abortion, and partisan politics. But at least most of the world’s churches have moved on from killing each other, and it’s no longer commonplace to burn heretics at the stake, or torture those who hold different theological beliefs, or accuse others of being witches.
Yet the violence and cruelty between Christian sects was nothing compared to the wars waged against non-Christians. Genocides. Murder. Enslavement. Dehumanization in all forms. The history of Christendom is one of bloodshed and greed. The Crusades. The Spanish Inquisition. Slavery. The endless invasions of Indigenous lands under the guise of “Christian civilization.” History doesn’t look kindly on Christendom. So maybe the best course of action is to ignore it, or revise it, or make it more Christian and patriotic?
Over the last few years we’ve been a “Christian” nation that’s waged endless wars on Muslim countries in the Middle East, and primarily for what? Their oil? Because of terrorism? Nobody really knows, but we continue to pray for our soldiers and hope they return safely after they’re done killing our enemies. But violence is necessary, right? In fact, Christians used Nationalism to stage an insurrection attempt so that they could try to maintain power. Many Christians still believe the election was rigged, and truth is just a matter of political opinion. The gospel is truth, but so too are conspiracy theories.
Christianity is supposed to be about loving your neighbor, exemplifying the radical selfless service and sacrifice of Jesus. But immigrants, refugees, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ individuals, Muslims, foreigners, and a litany of other people can testify that Christians have been anything but loving. They’ve been xenophobic, racist, bigoted, sexist, violent, and evil. They’ve raped, abused, assaulted, tortured, stolen, lynched, murdered, and bombed.
Christianity’s top apologists have been proven frauds, theologians have been proven hypocrites, and mega-pastors and leaders have been proven to be sexual abusers and predators. It’s well-documented that the Church hasn’t been a safe place for women, children, people of color, and the non-binary. Christian celebrities mock the poor, slander their political opponents, and rationalize oppression. They’ve abandoned Christ for fame, fortune, and power, and have left countless victims in their wake.
The pudding maker can be extolled as the greatest in the world and receive all the accolades associated with that claim, but the acid test is not the hype but just how well the pudding tastes. In this case, the pudding is rancid. Christians in no way exhibit the kind of character one would expect if the Christian god was real.
(3296) Yahweh promotes pedophilia
In the Book of Numbers, Yahweh directs his chosen people to rape and have relations with Midianite children because a previous rape incident at Peor was done on older women, which evidently resulted in a plague of sexually transmitted diseases. The following was taken from:
I will be using Numbers 31 to state my case:
17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
The Hebrew words used in verse 18 shows that this is a bad, deceptive actually, translation.
The Hebrew itself does not merely say girls, it says ‘female children‘ the word taph is used. Taph means child.
Next, the word for yourselves, or לָכֶם The Hebrew word used is lachem, and for yourselves is the weakest possible translation. A more accurate translation means to consume. Another translation means to devour.
Now that we have that out of the way.
Lets read the 2 verses 15 and 16:
15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people.
Yahweh is basically saying ‘hold on, you got diseases the last time I let you rape grownups, this time go ahead and rape children instead’.
Any god that supports the idea of grown men having sex with children does not deserve worship, but rather revulsion. And, of course, any reference to such a monster is almost surely referring to a god that doesn’t exist.
(3297) The Bible supports flat earthers
There is a small segment of people who believe that the earth is flat, or at least they pretend to believe this. Many of them are Bible believers and they find a lot of support for their position in the scriptures. This renders any objective person to wonder how a book inspired by the creator of the universe could be so scientifically misguided. The following was taken from:
As an ex-Christian I can’t believe I used to follow the Bible and its ludicrous claims. If Christians actually read and followed the Bible they would all believe the earth is flat. I’ll start listing the verses to support my claims. There’s a lot of them so buckle your seatbelts.
The Bible claims the earth is a disk (Isaiah 40:22 and Job 38:13-14). The Bible claims the earth can be measured in a line not a curve (Job 38:4-5). The Bible claims water is straight and not curved (Job 37:10). The Bible claims the earth is fixed and not movable (Psalm 33:9, Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, Psalm 104:5, Psalm 104:5, Psalm 119:89-90, Isaiah 45:18, Zachariah 1:11, 1 Chronicles 16:30). The Bible claims that the earth is suspended by pillars and hangs on nothing (1 Samual 2:8, Job 9:8, Job 26:7, Psalm 75:3, 2 Peter 3:5).
The Bible claims the earth is a flat surface or a face (Genesis 1:29, 6:1, 6:7, 7:3-4,8:9,11:8-9, 41:56, Exodus 33:16, Numbers 12:3)… I have like 20 more of these.
The Bible claims the earth has ends (Deuteronomy 28:49, 28:64, 33:17, Samuel 2:10, Acts 13:47 …. I have 15+ more of these). The Bible claims the earth has corners (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1). The Bible claims the sun moves not the earth (I have Genesis 15:12, 15:17, 19:23, 32:31, Matthews 5:45, Mark 16:2, Ephesians 4:26, and James 1:11.
I have too many other verses to type and my fingers are getting sore so I will just summarize now. The Bible claims the sun stops moving (4x), the moon has its own light (9x) along with many other absurd claims.
The Bible claims Gods word is always true (Jeremiah 42:5, Revelation 3:14, 19:11, 21:5 and 22:6). Seems like “God” really knows nothing about the universe he supposedly made. I’m so glad I no longer follow a book that directly contradicts all known astronomy and science.
If the Christian god was real, and he inspired the development of the Bible, then it is quite likely that he would have educated his ‘scribes’ about the physical shape of the earth and other astronomical facts. On the other hand, if the Bible was written by men without such inspiration, we would expect it to reflect the ignorance of the time….and this is what we observe.
(3298) Paul’s non poem
There is a famous poetic song embedded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that is now well understood to be a fraudulent interpolation. It forms the basis of many Christians praise songs. The following is taken from:
There is a hymn that was inserted into Philippians 2:6-11 declaring that Jesus, “being in the form of God,” acquired the figure of a servant and “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” This hymn, which contains several words found nowhere else in the New Testament, comes out of nowhere and breaks the flow of Paul’s letter.
That’s because it was not written by Paul.
The interpolated verses are in bold (Philippians 2:3-13)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a servant,
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself
and became obedient to death—
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name above all names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose.
The presence of any interpolation in the Bible is troubling, and even more so when it is in a book whereby the actual author is authenticated (Paul in this case).
(3299) Christianity’s twinning problem
Standard Christian theology presumes that a soul is implanted into a human egg as soon as it is fertilized, and this is a reason why most Christians oppose abortion. But anywhere between 2 and 12 days, the egg might split and form identical or mirror twins. The soul that was previously implanted would then have to be divided or else another soul would have to be created. The following was taken from:
Mirror twins or mirror identical twins are twins whose features appear asymmetrically or on the opposite sides. Identical twins have the same sex and share the same blood type. Mirror twins have identical but asymmetric physical features. For example, one twin could be left-handed, and the other could be right-handed. In extreme cases, mirror twins may have mirrored internal organs, where the placement of internal organs may be reversed in one of the twins.
Mirror image twinning occurs because of the late splitting of the fertilised egg. For regular identical twins, the egg splits into two between 2 and 8 days of conception. In the case of mirror twins, the egg splits into 2 much later, between 9 and 12 days of conception. This causes the twins to mirror each other.
Although apologists can (always) find a way around this problem, it still complicates the supposed simplicity of Christian dogma surrounding the soul and the assumption of the beginning of personhood. This is a recurring theme- science is an intruder into the world of theological beliefs, and, in this case, the ‘devil’ is in the details.
(3300) Luke leaves out Paul’s letter writing
We are fairly certain that the person who wrote the Gospel of Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles, the latter being the only canonical source of information about the early church. But the fact that Luke’s gospel contains so much obvious fiction (beginning with the fantasy census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem) there is a decreased confidence that Acts can be taken as being even quasi-historical.
But one problem that might have been overlooked until recently is that while Acts concentrates much of its text on Paul’s activities, it fails to document the most important element of his evangelism- writing letters. There is nothing in Acts that even hints that Paul has written any letter or distributed letters to the various Christian groups surrounding the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and in Rome.
This flagrant oversight plus the fantastical tales of Paul’s exploits lends insight that Luke likely had no reliable biographical information about Paul (who died about 40 years before he wrote Acts) and that he simply made up a delusional, fictional story. Looking in the opposite direction, nothing in Paul’s letters talks about the blinding experience of his conversion or any of the miraculous escapades that are documented in Acts. For obvious reasons, historians place more credibility on Paul’s (authenticated) letters than anything in Acts.
Follow this link to #3301